7.26.2002

Published on Tuesday, July 23, 2002 in
the Seattle Post-Intelligencer

So This is The Future
by Sean Gonsalves


As a kid who grew up on "The Jetsons" and sci-fi space movies, I was disappointed when "the future" arrived at the stroke of midnight, Dec. 31, 1999.

The culture of my youth was saturated with visual images of space travel, aliens, robots and time machines. So I figured by the year 2000
-- the start of the new millennium -- I'd have my own personal R2-D2, a hovercraft and annual space shuttle tickets to visit one of Mars' vacation resorts.

But in real life 1999, I was driving a '93 Dodge Shadow and living in a home that was built in the '50s. I was still listening to cassette tapes and I hadn't yet been seduced into trading for a DVD player.

It was just about three years ago when my naive disappointment in the future took a turn in the direction of dread, as I'd begun to learn that the military-industrial complex that President Eisenhower warned us about half a century ago was (and still is) on a mission to "control space" and from space to "dominate" the Earth below.

In 1996, U.S. Space Command, set up by the Pentagon to "help institutionalize the use of space" (in the words of its Web site
www.spacecom.af.mil/usspace) issued a report called Vision for 2020. The report begins with talk of "dominating the space dimension of military operations to protect U.S. interests and investment."

Investigative reporter Karl Grossman, in his book "Weapons in Space," reports on another U.S. Space Command document referred to as the Long Range Plan. Like the Vision for 2020 report, the Long Range Plan emphasizes the global economy.

"Economic alliances, as well as the growth and influence of multi-national corporations, will blur security agreements. The gap between the 'have' and 'have not' nations will widen -- creating regional unrest. ..

"The United States will remain the only nation able to project power globally. .. Achieving space superiority during conflicts will be critical to U.S. success on the battlefield."

The Long Range Plan goes on to detail plans to deploy weapons in space, aiming to achieve "full spectrum dominance" with such things as space-based lasers. In December 2000, the Pentagon gave the green light to continue the Space-Based Laser project at NASA's Stennis Space Center in Mississippi.

If it sounds like the re-incarnation of President Reagan's "Star Wars," that's because it is. And so-called missile defense is just the tip of the iceberg. This is about the militarization of space, despite the fact that U.S. diplomats were the principal architects of the 1967 Outer Space Treaty.

The treaty, which has been ratified or signed by 123 nations, stipulates that "state parties to the treaty undertake not to place in orbit around the Earth any objects carrying nuclear weapons or any other kinds of weapons of mass destruction, install such weapons on celestial bodies, or station such weapons in space in any other manner."

Nevertheless, as Time magazine reported in July 2000: "The heart of Ronald Reagan's 1983 Star Wars program lives on, kept beating by a mix of election-year politicking, behind-the-scenes defense-industry puppeteering and a fiercely committed group of conservative think tanks."

How would space weapons be powered? With nuclear energy, according to a 1996 U.S. Air Force report, "New World Vistas: Air and Space Power for the 21st Century."

NASA had plans to launch two space shuttles in 1986 -- one being the Challenger -- with plutonium-fueled space probes aboard. After reaching orbit, Grossman reports, shuttles were to launch the probes into space.

After a year-long process of filing Freedom of Information requests, Grossman was informed by Department of Energy and NASA analysts that the possibility of an accident was "'very small. .. due to the high reliability inherent in the design of the Space Shuttle.' The likelihood of a catastrophic shuttle accident was put at 1 in 100,000."

"On January 28, 1986," Grossman remembers, "I was on my way to teach my investigative reporting class at the State University of New York, when I heard over the car radio that the Challenger had blown up.

"What if it was May of 1986, the date of the Challenger's next mission, when it was to have onboard the Ulysses plutonium-fueled space probe with 24.2 pounds of plutonium? There would have been many more lives lost if the explosion occurred then and plutonium was dispersed far and wide," Grossman said.

Undeterred, NASA is "studying eight future space missions between 2000 and 2015 that will likely use nuclear-fueled electric generators," according to a May 1998 General Accounting Office report called "Space
Exploration: Power Sources for Deep Space Probes."

Tell me again: What's the prize for having won the Cold War? An endless "war on terrorism" in a quest for "full spectrum dominance"? Welcome to the future.
--
Sean Gonsalves is a columnist with the Cape Cod Times. E-mail: sgonsalves@capecodonline.com
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July 15, 2002
The Nuclear Weapons Policy of the Bush Administration
And Why It Should Frighten You


This article evaluates the nuclear weapons policy of the Bush administration and its implications for our defense and foreign policy. To start with, it deals with three key questions:

First, how many nuclear weapons will the U.S. have under the administration policy?

Second, how long will the U.S. have nuclear weapons?

And third, what would U.S. nuclear weapons be used for?

The partial answer to this last question, what would U.S. nuclear weapons be used for, is that no recent U.S. administration has foreseen a wider range of situations where U.S. nuclear weapons may be used than the Bush administration. This is one main reason why the administration's nuclear weapons policy should scare you. And there are many other reasons.

But first, how many nuclear weapons will the U.S. have under the policy of the administration, including the Moscow Treaty of May 24, which reflects that policy?

The answer is, not much less than the number we have now, but in different categories of readiness for use.

In the fall of 2000, before the presidential elections, Congress mandated a nuclear posture review by the incoming administration. The review was delivered to Congress on January 8 of this year. A small portion of the Review was made public officially and a large portion was leaked without serious refutation. It is customary and useful for incoming presidents to request government agencies to review the U.S. nuclear arsenal and U.S. nuclear strategy. The usual sequel some time later is a presidential decision document which directs the Defense and Energy Departments to take specific actions.

This time, the incoming Bush administration had radically different ideas about nuclear weapons from past administrations. It believed Russia was no longer a serious threat to the U.S., that U.S. nuclear policy should reflect that evaluation, and also that arms control -- negotiation to limit the risks between possible antagonists -- is archaic and belongs, along with communism, on the trash heap of history.
As the administration was working on the Posture Review, it was primarily concerned about the possibility of missile attack on the United States by rogue states and about the possibility of acts of terrorism. Then came the actual September 11 attacks. At the end of January 2002, the administration merged together these two different threats, rogue states and terrorists, into what it seemed to argue was an active alliance among all of them, an alliance which it called the "axis of evil." Combining these two highly feared threats was an inspired stroke of public presentation. However, there is only limited evidence of the existence of such an alliance.

Today, as the Nuclear Posture Review indicates, the United States has about 8,000 nuclear warheads in the field. About six thousand strategic warheads are operationally deployed. That is, they are attached to long-range missiles ready to fire, or are ready to be loaded on intercontinental bombers. About 1,600 so-called tactical warheads, mostly aircraft bombs, are deployed in a similar way. The United States today also has over 2,000 warheads in a reserve stockpile. This is the so-called "hedge" force established under the Clinton administration as insurance against sudden reversal in newly de-communized Russia. Counting about 1,000 warheads for spares, this gives a total of about 11,000 warheads.

In 2012, when the new Moscow treaty expires, the U.S. will have about 8,000 nuclear warheads, but only 1,700-2,200 strategic warheads will be deployed. Let's add about 1,000 tactical warheads and 500-600 for spares and warheads assigned to submarines in maintenance, which are not to be included in the U.S. total. Beyond this, Secretary of State Powell indicated on July 9 in testifying on the Moscow Treaty that about 2,400 warheads will be in an active responsive reserve, ready to be remounted on delivery vehicles. About 2,000 warheads will be in an inactive reserve, with tritium components and neutron generators removed. The first group, the active reserve, would take from several weeks to several months to be reloaded on delivery systems; the second group would take many months to prepare for use.

In practical terms, one result of the Nuclear Posture Review and of the Moscow Treaty is large-scale "de-alerting" -- removal of warheads from delivery systems and their separate storage to prevent premature use. This action, which has long been urged by Bruce Blair of the Center for Defense Information and by other NGOs, creates additional time to check the facts before launching missiles and reduces the risk of accidental or unauthorized launch of nuclear weapons or of wholesale launch on warning. But these dangers are not eliminated unless the entire force on both sides is de-alerted. This should happen under the Posture Review, but it will not. Instead, unless further action is taken, for the duration of this agreement, thousands of U.S. and Russian warheads will remain on alert. Other thousands of Russian warheads and Russian weapons materials remain scattered around that vast country, with a risk of illegal sale, theft and forcible seizure. Russian nuclear forces, whether operational or open to illegal diversion, remain our greatest nuclear danger -- not the "axis of evil."

Russia did not gain agreement to four points it asked for during the five months of negotiation that led to the May 24 Moscow treaty. The first of these was "transparency," data exchange on stockpiles of strategic nuclear weapons with some verification of their numbers. The second was destruction of reduced warheads, leading to irreversibility of arms reductions. After long resistance on its part, Russia took over these two points from Clinton administration arms controllers. It is a great pity that this conversion of views was not consolidated through formal agreement with Russia in the May 24 treaty.

The third Russian point was a prohibition against space weapons, a key ABM concept. We will hear much more in the future about the worrying consequences of Russia's failure to gain agreement on this point.

The fourth thing Russia asked for and did not receive was a numerical limit on the number of missile interceptors deployed in the U.S. missile defense program. This limit was the core concept of the ABM Treaty that the administration nullified this past June 13. Without this limit on deployed interceptors, the steady expansion of U.S. missile defenses, which form an important part of the new U.S. nuclear posture, will be a durable engine driving the long-term growth of the world's nuclear arsenals. As the number of deployed U.S. interceptors grows, even if they will not work under attack, there will ultimately be increases in Chinese and Russian nuclear forces to keep up. Indian, Pakistani, and even UK and French nuclear forces will grow to keep up with the Russians and the Chinese. In the end, the U.S. will increase its own nuclear forces. These consequences may be like the progress of a glacier -- very slow. But they will move relentlessly onward.

Owing to the administration's dropping of START II, there is no ban in the Moscow Treaty on MIRVs, multiple independently targetable reentry vehicles -- separate targetable warheads attached to a single missile. Russia can now maintain a higher level of operationally deployed warheads with fewer missiles. Because multiple warhead missiles are a prime target, Moscow is likely to keep its MIRVed missiles on hair-trigger alert, not a healthy situation for the United States. The Moscow treaty also has no provision for destruction of excess missiles and their silos, which has been a solid virtue of the START treaties because missiles and silos can take a long time to replace and install. As a consequence of this deliberate omission and of the U.S. concept of keeping thousands of warheads in an active reserve, which will doubtless be adopted by Russia, both countries can increase their deployed arsenals rapidly and to a large extent, uploading both operational and retained missiles. There will be no limit on the number of warheads each side has as long as they are not operationally deployed.

This capability, combined with the short 90-day period of withdrawal from the treaty and the treaty's expiration on the very day in 2012 when the reduced level is to be achieved undermines nuclear stability and adds to the volatility of the Moscow agreement. The agreement specifies neither the type of reduction to be made by each government nor how progress toward compliance is to be measured. A lot of thought has been given to making this treaty easily reversible and loaded with potential for dangerous disagreements. Despite the seriousness of the problem of tactical nuclear weapons, the two governments failed to tackle it in the Moscow Treaty. Russia has up to 12,000 of these smaller, more portable weapons, and the U.S. about 1,600. These weapons can also be used for strategic attack and they are a prime target for illegal sale or seizure.
The second question, How long will we have nuclear weapons?

Article VI of the 1970 Non-Proliferation Treaty commits the United States and the other permanent members of the Security Council to eliminate their entire nuclear arsenals. In a 1996 advisory opinion -- this point was unanimous and included U.S. judge Steven Schwebel -- the International Court of Justice in the Hague stated that this NPT obligation remains binding and that the weapon states should proceed to fulfill it.

But under the 2002 Nuclear Posture Review, the U.S. nuclear arsenal is planned to be with us for the next half century and beyond. The Review foresees comprehensive modernization of the entire U.S. nuclear weapons complex. This starts with development of three new nuclear warheads: a deep penetrating warhead, perhaps two of them, a nuclear and a conventional version; a so-called Agent Defeat weapon that can neutralize and destroy chemical and biological weapons (this too could be in conventional and nuclear versions); and low-yield mini-nukes.

These new nuclear weapons will have to be tested. The Posture Review says nuclear testing may have to be resumed at some future point and has ordered a shorter preparation time for the Nevada Test Site.

In fact, after nullifying the ABM Treaty and dealing a body blow to the Biological Weapons Convention by withdrawing from verification negotiations, the administration seems to be moving slowly but deliberately toward dismantling a third key structure of multilateral arms control, the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty. One problem here is that if the U.S. can withdraw from multilateral arms control treaties, other governments can too.

As regards testing, the computer and engineering work for new warheads is under way, the test site is being prepared, concerns are being expressed by the weapons laboratories and the administration about the aging of the current nuclear stockpile and the Stockpile Stewardship Program, which is designed to assure its effectiveness. The administration seems to be waiting only for a precipitating incident to justify recommencement of testing.

The administration's comprehensive nuclear weapons modernization program includes a new plant to produce tritium gas; a new warhead assembly plant; rebuilding a plant for uranium weapon components; a new land-based intercontinental missile; a new submarine-based missile; a new missile firing submarine; and a new strategic bomber. The new submarine is due by 2030, the new bomber by 2040.

The May 24 treaty does refer in passing to Article VI of the Non-Proliferation Treaty. Perhaps the Russians are responsible for this reference. But there is no mention in the Posture Review of the long-term prospect of eliminating nuclear weapons. The administration view is unambiguous, that nuclear weapons are with us forever. Taking together the expansionary effects of unlimited missile defense on nuclear arsenals and this comprehensive modernization program, the administration may be right about that. But what has happened to the pledge, implicit in the Non-Proliferation treaty, that, when the cold war nuclear confrontation ended, the U.S. would make a serious effort to move to elimination of its nuclear weapons?
The third question, What would U.S. nuclear weapons be used for?

Over the years, the norm has emerged that nuclear weapons should be used only in response to the threat or use of nuclear weapons. Perhaps this concept was more a hope of the Canberra Commission and of non-nuclear states for the post Cold War period than a norm, because it was not official U.S. policy. NATO doctrine foresaw possible use of nuclear weapons in the face of overwhelming Soviet conventional attack in Europe. This danger dissolved with withdrawal of Soviet troops from Eastern Europe and the collapse of the Soviet Union, but, after a promising initial move to consider nuclear weapons as weapons of last resort, NATO has not fundamentally changed its first-use policy, mainly, despite the views of the majority of NATO governments, in order to maintain conformity with the first-use policy of the United States.

The Clinton administration, faced by new fears of rogue missile attack, adopted a policy of deliberate ambiguity, hinting but not confirming that it would consider response with nuclear weapons if attacked by chemical or biological as well as by nuclear weapons. In the administration's Nuclear Posture Review, this ambiguity is stripped away. The Review is explicit that, henceforth, U.S. nuclear weapons may be used in response to nuclear, chemical, biological or conventional attack. Beyond that, the number and type of situations in which nuclear weapons may be used has been considerably expanded. In the words of the Review, nuclear strike forces are to be prepared to deal with "immediate contingencies," like an Iraqi attack on Israel, a North Korean attack on South Korea, or a military confrontation over Taiwan. Strike forces might also be used to deal with "potential contingencies," like emergence of a new hostile coalition against the U.S. -- presumably headed by China; nuclear forces could be used to deal with a third category of "unexpected contingencies," sudden and unpredicted security challenges. Taken together, these form a very broad spectrum of situations in which U.S. nuclear weapons might be used.

The Posture Review suggests that new long-range conventional weapons be developed for use instead of nuclear weapons in some situations. While this is in one sense a positive decision, it blurs the distinction between the two types of weapons because it suggests that nuclear and conventional weapons belong on the same unbroken continuum.

In the Nuclear Posture Review, the circle of target countries, those kept under constant targeting, has also been expanded. In addition to Russia, which remains targeted in spite of our improved relations, and China, the targeted countries now include Libya, Syria, Iraq, Iran and North Korea. With the possible exception of Iraq, which violated its NPT commitment, these countries are non-nuclear states which remain covered by U.S. negative security guarantees in connection with the Non-Proliferation Treaty not to use nuclear weapons against non-weapon states unless they are allied with an attacking weapon state. Targeting these countries is a case of deliberate inconsistency on the part of the United States. Especially for the non-nuclear states that are party to the Nonproliferation Treaty, it raises a serious question about what U.S. commitments are worth.

All in all, the range of situations and target countries in which the United States would consider use of nuclear weapons has been considerably expanded for the Policy Review. As a consequence, the nuclear threshold, the point at which a United States administration would begin to seriously examine the possibility of using nuclear weapons, has been significantly lowered. The end result here is very far from a policy of nuclear weapons as a weapon of last resort. This is an aggressively forward-leaning threat of early first use. The fact that Russia has similarly broad views adds to the risk that nuclear weapons will actually be used.

It must be a source of real concern that the United States, a country which has huge conventional military superiority over all other countries of the world, and which has in addition huge diplomatic and economic resources, should now envision so many potential uses for nuclear weapons. It is unsettling that this is happening in a situation where the danger of total national destruction through all-out attack by nuclear or biological weapons has largely passed, and the United States is now concerned by the very different possibility of a localized rogue state or terrorist attack which could be very serious, but whose effects can be contained with proper preparation.

***

A final question, what kind of world will this new nuclear weapon strategy be operating in?

Viewed objectively, the U.S. is faced by a deteriorating proliferation situation. In the 1990s, nuclear non-proliferation failed in Iraq and nearly failed in North Korea. Then it failed in Pakistan and India. Missile proliferation has expanded, with exports from North Korea and China, and with North Korea, India, Pakistan and Iran building new missiles. This is the situation the Nuclear Policy Review seeks to deal with.

Quite rightly, President Bush takes proliferation seriously. He is determined to deal with the main threats to the U.S. population, threats which he sees as terrorist attacks or rogue missile attacks. It may be that the President hopes to go down in history as the American leader who decisively ended these threats. As he originally said before the negative connotations of this word for Muslims became clear for him, this is a crusade, a crusade involving the whole nation. As part of this effort, the President is trying to make the threat of use of American nuclear weapons more credible and more terrifying. He is also threatening to strike unilaterally at proliferators instead of leading an intense international effort to get on top of this proliferation situation and to control it. Using armed force against proliferators may be necessary in exceptional circumstances. But it should be joint action. Convincing other governments to join in such enterprises may be difficult but it can be done, as the older President Bush proved in the Gulf War and as President Clinton proved with NATO members in Kosovo. Moreover, the administration's solo approach on this and other issues is leaching away the reserves of gratitude, respect, and shared views which the U.S. has with much sacrifice built up over the past half-century.

We do not have access to the stream of secret information that shapes the President's views, but the administration's war against terrorism seems to reflect both the President's genuine personal convictions and a deliberate administration effort to maintain public concerns over terrorist attacks at a high level in order to support the war on terrorism.
Now, in his June 1, 2002 West Point speech, the President has publicly announced a concept of preemptive action against possible proliferators. This concept is questionable on practical and moral grounds. Nonetheless, the administration has indicated that this concept will form part of an overall National Security Strategy now being drafted. It is probable that only future historians will see the text of this document, and then only after its damage has been done. In addition to other important problems, preemptive attack depends on reliable intelligence that there is an immediate threat. The consequences of error could be very serious and often are, as the July, 2002 U.S. attack on an Afghan wedding party demonstrates. However, according to press reports, Secretary Rumsfeld speaking at NATO on June 6 said that the Alliance could not wait for "absolute proof" before a preemptive attack is launched. Preemptive use of weapons, possibly including nuclear weapons, on the basis of incomplete evidence is a very disquieting prospect.

It is legitimate to act preemptively in self defense in the face of a specific, imminent and evident challenge. But the new U.S. doctrine is general rather than specific. It refers to a whole class of potential offenders, the governments and terrorist groups that may be participating in the axis of evil.

There is an unevaluated and probably incorrect assumption in the preemption approach that all these target countries would try to attack the United States and its allies as soon as they are able. However, it is not legitimate to threaten early use of weapons, possibly including nuclear weapons, when threats from others are not pressing or evident and may not become so. It is not legitimate to threaten early use of weapons when approaches of diplomacy and negotiation are either untried or not exhausted.

In the cold war nuclear confrontation, preemption or even the appearance of possible preemptive action was regarded as something which must be avoided because it could trigger a full nuclear exchange. Its use today could still bring serious counterattack. Preemption is also not legitimate or moral if the actual political or military objective is broader than the announced target of preemption. This could be the situation with regard to Iraq, where the ostensible objective would be to block imminent attack on the U.S. or its allies, but the actual objective would be regime change. Preemption as a general policy is the essence of U.S. unilateralism. It is a generalized threat that the U.S. will decide for itself when to take drastic action when its information, whose details must remain secret, indicates that preemptive attack may be useful. Because a policy of preemption has no congressional authorization although it indicates unannounced warlike action against a wide range of states and groups, it has an unconstitutional quality.

It was not force of arms, but diplomacy and sanctions that brought the North Korean regime to the negotiating table. We can still talk to the Syrian, Libyan and Iranian governments, and even to the Iraqi government, and frame requirements and inducements.

Now that military action in Afghanistan has ended the Taliban regime, Saddam Hussein is first on the administration's destruct list. For a while, it appeared that there might be a long way to travel before this goal can be reached. First, the India-Pakistan confrontation has had to be calmed. The effort to do this is underway. Then the Arab-Israeli confrontation had to be mitigated. And then must come renewed UN inspections in Iraq.

The administration's June 25 proposal that Arafat be removed before negotiating a possible resolution of the Palestinian-Israeli confrontation provides grounds for U.S. inaction on this issue until after the November U.S. elections. In terms of U.S. public opinion, this development may put military action against Iraq back on track. In any event, some specific administration decision on what actually to do about Iraq cannot be delayed much beyond the November elections. Without damage to its credibility, the administration cannot continually proclaim Saddam to be public enemy number one, and then fail to take decisive action against him.

What It All Means

What this all amounts to is that we are talking ourselves into war with Iraq using preemptive means. At least three countries involved in the Iraqi confrontation -- the U.S., possibly Iraq itself, and Israel -- have weapons of mass destruction. Perhaps preemption as now being considered by the administration refers to use of conventional forces. Perhaps the public announcement of a preemption policy is a deliberate tactic intended to add to pressures on Saddam Hussein. Nonetheless, preemption means first use of military force. With Iraq, Iran, and North Korea on the administration's nuclear target list, there is an unavoidable, in fact presumably desired, implication that preemption could include nuclear weapons.

To summarize, except in cases of immediately evident danger, preemption is the essence of unilateralism in foreign policy. Preemptive military action is immoral in causing loss of life without full prior exploration of alternatives to the use of force. If carried out without prior consultation with the Congress and the American public, including public presentation and discussion of convincing evidence, it is behavior which we would term authoritarian if other governments engaged in it. Where is the administration's insistence on tough, effective, continuing inspections in Iraq which will either produce that convincing evidence of Saddam Hussein's aggressive WMD activities or restrict his ability to produce or deliver these weapons?

The net result of these moves, of the administration's lowering of the nuclear threshold, its indefinite postponement of elimination of nuclear weapons, its nearly exclusive focus on military solutions, its bellicose vocabulary, its support for preemptive attack, and of the fact that the administration implausibly sees terrorists supplied by rogue nations ready to attack the United States with WMD in locations all over the globe, is that the situations in which Washington may be prepared to use nuclear weapons are becoming increasingly numerous.

As a consequence, people all over the world, as well as the terrorists and rogue state governments who are the presumed targets of these policies, have become frightened about the future and about what the United States might do.

This is not the responsible leadership on nuclear weapons policy that we and the rest of the world hope for from the United States. The assessment seems unavoidable that, instead, it is nuclear bullying -- counterproductive, dangerous, and immoral.
There is in fact a risk in the overheated atmosphere of the war on terrorism that things could get out of control in Iraq, in Israel, or in Pakistan, where an unstable nuclear regime is vulnerable to a coup by military or Islamic extremists. Of these problems, the Pakistan situation alone is a source of danger to the United States and the world that overshadows the dangers of the "axis of evil," but it is receiving insufficient emphasis in U.S. policy. In all these hot spots, India-Pakistan, the Palestinian-Israeli confrontation, in Iran, North Korea -- and also in Iraq -- the United States should give diplomacy and negotiation, backed by international cooperation, a full opportunity before considering the use of force.

Those of us who are alarmed at these developments in U.S. policy must speak up and raise our voices. It is only through more questions and more critical evaluation that the American public, which has instinctively rallied around national leadership in an emergency situation, will begin to raise its own necessary questions.



The Coming October War in Iraq
By William Rivers Pitt
t r u t h o u t | PerspectiveWednesday, 24 July, 2002

Room 295 of the Suffolk Law School building in downtown Boston was filled to capacity on July 23rd with
peace activists, aging Cambridge hippies and assorted freaks. One of the organizers for the gathering,
United For Justice With Peace Coalition, handed out green pieces of paper that read, "We will not
support war, no matter what reason or rhetoric is offered by politicians or the media. War in our time and
in this context is indiscriminate, a war against innocents and against children." Judging from the crowd,
and from the buzz in the room, that pretty much summed things up.

The contrast presented when Scott Ritter, former UN weapons inspector in Iraq, entered the room, could
not have been more disparate. There at the lectern stood this tall lantern-jawed man, every inch the
twelve-year Marine Corps veteran he was, who looked and spoke just exactly like a bulldogging high
school football coach. A whistle on a string around his neck would have perfected the image.

"I need to say right out front," he said minutes into his speech, "I'm a card-carrying Republican in the
conservative-moderate range who voted for George W. Bush for President. I'm not here with a political
agenda. I'm not here to slam Republicans. I am one."

Yet this was a lie - Scott Ritter had come to Boston with a political agenda, one that impacts every
single American citizen. Ritter was in the room that night to denounce, with roaring voice and burning
eyes, the coming American war in Iraq. According to Ritter, this coming war is about nothing more or
less than domestic American politics, based upon speculation and rhetoric entirely divorced from fact.
According to Ritter, that war is just over the horizon.

"The Third Marine Expeditionary Force in California is preparing to have 20,000 Marines deployed in the
(Iraq) region for ground combat operations by mid-October," he said. "The Air Force used the vast
majority of its precision-guided munitions blowing up caves in Afghanistan. Congress just passed
emergency appropriations money and told Boeing company to accelerate their production of the GPS
satellite kits, that go on bombs that allow them to hit targets while the planes fly away, by September
30, 2002. Why? Because the Air Force has been told to have three air expeditionary wings ready for
combat operations in Iraq by mid-October."

"As a guy who was part of the first Gulf War," said Ritter, who indeed served under Schwarzkopf in that
conflict, "when you deploy that much military power forward - disrupting their training cycles, disrupting
their operational cycles, disrupting everything, spending a lot of money - it is very difficult to pull them
back without using them."

"You got 20,000 Marines forward deployed in October," said Ritter, "you better expect war in October."

His purpose for coming to that room was straightforward: The Senate Foreign Relations Committee,
chaired by Democrat Joe Biden, plans to call a hearing beginning on Monday, July 29th. The Committee
will call forth witnesses to describe the threat posed to America by Iraq. Ritter fears that much crucial
information will not be discussed in that hearing, precipitating a war authorization by Congress based on
political expediency and ignorance. Scott Ritter came to that Boston classroom to exhort all there to
demand of the Senators on the Committee that he be allowed to stand as a witness.

Ritter began his comments by noting the interesting times we live in after September 11th. There has
been much talk of war, and much talk of war with Iraq. Ritter was careful to note that there are no good
wars - as a veteran, he described war as purely awful and something not to be trivialized - but that there
is such a thing as a just war. He described America as a good place, filled with potential and worth
fighting for. We go to just war, he said, when our national existence has been threatened.
According to Ritter, there is no justification in fact, national security, international law or basic morality to
justify this coming war with Iraq. In fact, when asked pointedly what the mid-October scheduling of this
conflict has to do with the midterm Congressional elections that will follow a few weeks later, he replied,
simply, "Everything."

"This is not about the security of the United States," said this card-carrying Republican while pounding
the lectern. "This is about domestic American politics. The national security of the United States of
America has been hijacked by a handful of neo-conservatives who are using their position of authority to
pursue their own ideologically-driven political ambitions. The day we go to war for that reason is the day
we have failed collectively as a nation."

Ritter was sledding up a pretty steep slope with all this. After all, Saddam Hussein has been demonized
for twelve years by American politicians and the media. He gassed his own people, and America has
already fought one war to keep him under control. Ritter's presence in Iraq was demanded in the first
place by Hussein's pursuit of chemical, biological and nuclear weapons of mass destruction, along with
the ballistic missile technology that could deliver these weapons to all points on the compass.

According to the Bush administration, Hussein has ties to the same Al Qaeda terrorists that brought
down the World Trade Center. It is certain that Hussein will use these terrorist links to deliver a lethal
blow to America, using any number of the aforementioned weapons. The argument, propounded by Bush
administration officials on any number of Sunday news talk shows, is that a pre-emptive strike against
Iraq, and the unseating of Saddam Hussein, is critical to American national security. Why wait for them
to hit us first?

"If I were an American, uninformed on Iraq as we all are," said Ritter, "I would be concerned."
Furthermore, continued Ritter, if an unquestionable case could be made that such weapons and terrorist
connections existed, he would be all for a war in Iraq. It would be just, smart, and in the interest of
national defense.

Therein lies the rub: According to Scott Ritter, who spent seven years in Iraq with the UNSCOM
weapons inspection teams performing acidly detailed investigations into Iraq's weapons program, no
such capability exists. Iraq simply does not have weapons of mass destruction, and does not have
threatening ties to international terrorism. Therefore, no premise for a war in Iraq exists. Considering the
American military lives and the Iraqi civilian lives that will be spent in such an endeavor, not to mention
the deadly regional destabilization that will ensue, such a baseless war must be avoided at all costs.

"The Bush administration has provided the American public with little more than rhetorically laced
speculation," said Ritter. "There has been nothing in the way of substantive fact presented that makes
the case that Iraq possesses these weapons or has links to international terror, that Iraq poses a threat
to the United States of America worthy of war."

Ritter regaled the crowd with stories of his time in Iraq with UNSCOM. The basis for the coming October
war is the continued existence of a weapons program that threatens America. Ritter noted explicitly that
Iraq, of course, had these weapons at one time - he spent seven years there tracking them down. At the
outset, said Ritter, they lied about it. They failed to declare the existence of their biological and nuclear
programs after the Gulf War, and declared less than 50% of their chemical and missile stockpiles. They
hid everything they could, as cleverly as they could.

After the first lie, Ritter and his team refused to believe anything else they said. For the next seven
years, the meticulously tracked down every bomb, every missile, every factory designed to produce
chemical, biological and nuclear weaponry. They went to Europe and found the manufacturers who sold
them the equipment. They got the invoices and shoved them into the faces of Iraqi officials. They tracked
the shipping of these materials and cross-referenced this data against the invoices. They lifted the
foundations of buildings destroyed in the Gulf War to find wrecked research and development labs, at
great risk to their lives, and used the reams of paperwork there to cross-reference what they had already
cross-referenced.

Everything they found was later destroyed in place.

After a while, the Iraqis knew Ritter and his people were robotically thorough. Fearing military retaliation if
they hid anything, the Iraqis instituted a policy of full disclosure. Still, Ritter believed nothing they said
and tracked everything down. By the time he was finished, Ritter was mortally sure that he and his
UNSCOM investigators had stripped Iraq of 90-95% of all their weapons of mass destruction.

What of the missing 10%? Is this not still a threat? Ritter believes that the ravages of the Gulf War
accounted for a great deal of the missing material, as did the governmental chaos caused by sanctions.
The Iraqis' policy of full disclosure, also, was of a curious nature that deserved all of Ritter's mistrust.
Fearing the aforementioned attacks, Iraq instituted a policy of destroying whatever Ritter's people had not
yet found, and then pretending it never existed in the first place. Often, the dodge failed to fool UNSCOM.
That some of it did also accounts for a portion of that missing 10%.

Ritter told a story about running down 98 missiles the Iraqis tried to pretend never existed. UNSCOM got
hold of the documentation describing them, and demanded proof that they had, in fact, been destroyed.
He was brought to a field where, according to Iraqi officials, the missiles had been blown up and then
buried. At this point, Ritter and his team became "forensic archaeologists," digging up every single
missile component they could find there.

After sifting through the bits and pieces to find parts bearing serial numbers, they went to Russia, who
sold Iraq the weapons in the first place. They cross-referenced the serial numbers with the
manufacturer's records, and confirmed the data with the shipping invoices. When finished, they had
accounted for 96 of the missiles. Left over was a pile of metal with no identifying marks, which the Iraqis
claimed were the other two missiles. Ritter didn't believe them, but could go no further with the
investigation.

This story was telling in many ways. Americans mesmerized with stories of lying Iraqis who never told
the weapons inspectors the truth about anything should take note of the fact that Ritter was led to
exactly the place where the Iraqis themselves had destroyed their weapons without being ordered to. The
pile of metal left over from this investigation that could not be identified means Iraq, technically, could not
receive a 100% confirmation that all its weapons were destroyed. Along with the other mitigating factors
described above, it seems clear that 100% compliance under the UNSCOM rules was impossible to
achieve. 90-95%, however, is an impressive record.

The fact that chemical and biological weapons ever existed in the first place demands action, according
to the Bush administration. After all, they could have managed to hide vast amounts of the stuff from
Ritter's investigators. Iraq manufactured three kinds of these nerve agents: VX, Sarin and Tabou. Some
alarmists who want war with Iraq describe 20,000 munitions filled with Sarin and Tabou nerve agents that
could be used against Americans.

The facts, however, allay the fears. Sarin and Tabou have a shelf life of five years. Even if Iraq had
somehow managed to hide this vast number of weapons from Ritter's people, what they are now storing
is nothing more than useless and completely harmless goo.

The VX gas was of a greater concern to Ritter. It is harder to manufacture than the others, but once
made stable, it can be kept for much longer. Ritter's people found the VX manufacturing facility that the
Iraqis claimed never existed totally destroyed, hit by a Gulf War bomb on January 23, 1991. The field
where the material they had manufactured was subsequently buried underwent more forensic
archaeology to determine that whatever they had made had also been destroyed. All of this, again, was
cross-referenced and meticulously researched.

"The research and development factory is destroyed," said Ritter. "The product of that factory is
destroyed. The weapons they loaded up have been destroyed. More importantly, the equipment procured
from Europe that was going to be used for their large-scale VX nerve agent factory was identified by the
special commission - still packed in its crates in 1997 - and destroyed. Is there a VX nerve agent factory
in Iraq today? Not on your life."

This is, in and of itself, a bold statement. Ritter himself and no weapons inspection team has set foot in
Iraq since 1998. Ritter believed Iraq technically capable of restarting its weapons manufacturing
capabilities within six months of his departure. That leaves some three and one half years to
manufacture and weaponize all the horrors that has purportedly motivated the Bush administration to
attack.

"Technically capable," however, is the important phrase here. If no one were watching, Iraq could do this.
But they would have to start completely from scratch, having been deprived of all equipment, facilities
and research because of Ritter's work. They would have to procure the complicated tools and technology
required through front companies, which would be detected. The manufacture of chemical and biological
weapons emits vented gasses that would have been detected by now if they existed. The manufacture of
nuclear weapons emits gamma rays that would have been detected by now if they existed. We have
been watching, via satellite and other means, and we have seen none of this.

"If Iraq was producing weapons today, we would have definitive proof," said Ritter, "plain and simple."

And yet we march to war, and soon. A chorus of voices was raised in the room asking why we are going.
What motivates this, if not hard facts and true threats? According to Ritter, it comes down to
opportunistic politics and a decade of hard anti-Hussein rhetoric that has boxed the Bush administration
into a rhetorical corner.

Back in 1991, the UN Security Council mandated the destruction of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction.
Sanctions were placed upon Iraq to pressure them to comply. The first Bush administration signed on to
this, but also issued a covert finding that mandated the removal of Saddam Hussein. Even if all the
weapons were destroyed, Bush Sr. would not lift the sanctions until Hussein was gone.

Bush Sr., and Clinton after him, came to realize that talking about removing Hussein was far, far easier
than achieving that goal. Hussein was, and remains, virtually coup-proof. No one could get close enough
to put a bullet in him, and no viable intelligence existed to pinpoint his location from day to day. Rousing
a complacent American populace to support the massive military engagement that would have been
required to remove Hussein by force presented insurmountable political obstacles. The tough talk about
confronting Hussein continued, but the Bush and Clinton administrations treaded water.

This lack of results became exponentially more complicated. Politicians began making a living off of
demonizing Hussein, and lambasting Clinton for failing to have him removed. The roots of our current
problem began to deepen at this point, for it became acceptable to encapsulate a nation of 20 million
citizens in the visage of one man who was hated and reviled in bipartisan fashion. Before long, the
American people knew the drill - Saddam is an evil threat and must be met with military force, period.

In 1998, the Republican-controlled Congress passed the Iraqi Liberation Act. The weight of public
American law now demanded the removal of Saddam Hussein. The American government went on to use
data gathered by UNSCOM, narrowly meant to pinpoint possible areas of investigation, to choose
bombing targets in an operation called Desert Fox. Confrontation, rather than resolution, continued to be
the rule. By 1999, however, Hussein was still in power.
"An open letter was written to Bill Clinton in the fall of 1999," said Ritter, "condemning him for failing to
fully implement the Iraqi Liberation Act. It demanded that he use the American military to facilitate the
Iraqi opposition's operations inside Iraq, to put troops on the ground and move on up to Baghdad to get
rid of Saddam. Who signed this letter? Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz, Richard Armitage, Robert
Zoellick, Richard Perle, and on and on and on."

The removal of Saddam Hussein became a plank in the GOP's race for the Presidency in 2000. After
gaining office, George W. Bush was confronted with the reality that he and many within his
administration had spent a great amount of political capital promising that removal. Once in power,
however, he came to realize what his father and Clinton already knew - talking tough was easy, and
instigating pinprick military confrontations was easy, but removing Hussein from power was not easy at
all. His own rhetoric was all around him, however, pushing him into that corner which had only one exit.
Still, like the two Presidents before him, he treaded water.

Then came September 11th. Within days, Bush was on television claiming that the terrorists must have
had state-sponsored help, and that state sponsor must be Iraq. When the anthrax attacks came, Bush
blamed Iraq again. Both times, he had no basis whatsoever in fact for his claims. The habit of lambasting
Iraq, and the opportunity to escape the rhetorical box twelve years of hard-talking American policy, were
too juicy to ignore.

The dearth of definitive proof of an Iraqi threat against America began to go international. Defense
Secretary Rumsfeld appeared before NATO not long ago and demanded that they support America's
looming Iraq war. Most of the NATO nations appeared ready to do so - they trusted that America's top
defense official would not come before them and lie. But when they tried to ask questions of him about
the basis for this war, Rumsfeld absolutely refused to answer any of them. Instead, he offered this
regarding our utter lack of meaningful data to support a conflict: "The absence of evidence is not the
evidence of absence."

Scott Ritter appeared before NATO some days after this at their invitation to offer answers to their
questions. Much of what he told them was mirrored in his comments in that Boston classroom. After he
was finished, 16 of the 19 NATO nations present wrote letters of complaint to the American government
about Rumsfeld's comments, and about our basis for war. American UN representatives boycotted this
hearing, and denounced all who gave ear to Ritter.

Some have claimed that the Bush administration may hold secret evidence pointing to a threat within
Iraq, one that cannot be exposed for fear of compromising a source. Ritter dismissed this out of hand in
Boston. "If the administration had such secret evidence," he said, "we'd be at war in Iraq right now. We
wouldn't be talking about it. It would be a fait accompli." Our immediate military action in Afghanistan,
whose ties to Al Qaeda were manifest, lends great credence to this point.

Ritter dismissed oil as a motivating factor behind our coming war with Iraq. He made a good defense of
this claim. Yes, Iraq has the second-largest oil reserves on earth, a juicy target for the petroleum-loving
Bush administration. But the U.S. already buys some 68% of all the oil produced in Iraq. "The Navy
ships in the Gulf who work to interdict the smuggling of Iraqi oil," said Ritter, "are fueled by Iraqi oil."
Iraq's Oil Minister has stated on camera that if the sanctions are lifted, Iraq will do whatever it takes to
see that America's oil needs are fulfilled. "You can't get a better deal than that," claimed Ritter.

His thinking on this aspect of the coming war may be in error. That sort of logic exists in an
all-things-being-equal world of politics and influence, a world that has ceased to exist. Oil is a coin in the
bargaining, peddled as influence to oil-state congressmen and American petroleum companies by the
Iraqi National Congress to procure support for this baseless conflict. Invade, says the INC, put us in
power, and you will have all you want. There are many ruling in America today, both in government and
business, who would shed innocent blood for this opportunity.
Ritter made no bones about the fact that Saddam Hussein is an evil man. Like most Americans,
however, he detests being lied to. His work in Iraq, and his detailed understanding of the incredible
technological requirements for the production of weapons of mass destruction, leads him to believe
beyond question that there is no basis in fact or in the needs of national security for a war in Iraq. This
Marine, this Republican who seemed so essentially hawkish that no one in that Boston classroom would
have been surprised to find wings under his natty blue sportcoat, called the man he cast a Presidential
vote for a liar.

"The clock is ticking," he said, "and it's ticking towards war. And it's going to be a real war. It's going to
be a war that will result in the deaths of hundreds, if not thousands, of Americans and tens of thousands
of Iraqi civilians. It's a war that is going to devastate Iraq. It's a war that's going to destroy the credibility
of the United States of America. I just came back from London, and I can tell you this - Tony Blair may
talk a good show about war, but the British people and the bulk of the British government do not support
this war. The Europeans do not support this war. NATO does not support this war. No one supports this
war."

It is of a certainty that few in the Muslim world support another American war with Iraq. Osama bin Laden
used the civilian suffering in Iraq under the sanctions to demonstrate to his followers the evils of America
and the West. Another war would exacerbate those already-raw emotions. After 9/11, much of the
Islamic world repudiated bin Laden and his actions. Another Iraq war would go a long way to proving, in
the minds of many Muslims, that bin Laden was right all along. The fires of terrorism that would follow
this are unimaginable.

Scott Ritter wants to be present as a witness on Monday when the Foreign Relations Committee
convenes its hearing, a hearing that will decide whether or not America goes to war in Iraq. He wants to
share the information he delivered in that Boston classroom with Senators who have spent too many
years listening to, or propounding, rhetorical and speculative fearmongering about an Iraqi threat to
America that does not exist. Instead, he wants the inspectors back in Iraq, doing their jobs. He wants to
try and keep American and Iraqi blood from being spilled in a military exercise promulgated by right-wing
ideologues that may serve no purpose beyond affecting the outcome of the midterm Congressional
elections in November 2002.

"This is not theory," said Ritter in Boston as he closed his comments. "This is real. And the only way
this war is going to be stopped is if Congress stops this war."

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On the web: The Senate Foreign Relations Committee: http://foreign.senate.gov/committee/

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William Rivers Pitt is a teacher from Boston, MA. His new book, 'The Greatest Sedition is Silence,' will
be published soon by Pluto Press

7.25.2002


Making enemies make friends

The self-defeating ineptitude of George Bush's strategies may well push Iran and Iraq into a dangerous alliance of expediency, writes Simon Tisdall

Thursday July 25, 2002


Amid great pomp and ceremony, Iran this week laid to rest the remains of 570 soldiers who died during the 1980-88 Iran-Iraq war or in the long years of captivity that followed it.
Their remains were returned under a bilateral prisoner exchange programme, facilitated by the Red Cross, that until relatively recently had appeared to be almost as moribund as the deceased POWs.
To outside observers, this stepping up of the exchanges - Iraq now claims it is no longer holding any Iranians, although this is disputed in Tehran - looks like nothing much. But a closer look might be wise. This development signifies a possibly much broader shift.
Pentagon war planners, White House strategists and Washington's European allies can be forgiven for exhibiting little interest in the mechanics of POW handovers. But placed in the context of widely-anticipated American military action against Saddam Hussein's regime in Baghdad, the prospect of a thawing in relations between Iraq and Iran gains a perhaps disturbing importance.
Since the Iraqi foreign minister, Naji Sabri, visited Iran last January, there have been a series of indications that the old enemies may be moving towards some kind of limited rapprochement - or at least, greater mutual understanding.
Tensions and suspicions naturally remain. Both harbour dissident groups opposed to the ruling regimes in either country. The ancient rivalries between haughty Persia and the Arab population of Mesopotamia, in the plains between the Tigris and Euphrates, die hard.
But fearing US intentions, Iraq has been working hard in recent months to improve its ties with all it neighbours, in the Gulf and Saudi Arabia to the south and east and with Jordan, Syria and Turkey to the west and north.
Baghdad's charm offensive has met with some success, in that Iraq has been more or less accepted back into the Arab League fold and is enjoying an increase in trade, commercial and transport links within the region. Kuwait alone steadfastly rebuffs Saddam's blandishments, for very understandable reasons.
An important part of this strategy has been Iraq's ostentatious championing of the Palestinian cause vis-a-vis Israel, currently the pre-eminent issue in the Islamic world, through (for example) its generous, direct cash payments to the bereaved families of Palestinian "martyrs".
In its fierce hostility to Israel, Iraq finds an enthusiastic partner in the Shi'ite clerical establishment that controls Iran. Unlike some Arab states, Iran's theocrats have never relinquished their hopes of destroying the Jewish state.
But Israel apart, the uppermost, mutual concern for both countries is the Bush administration. On the basis of the well-established axiom that my enemy's enemy is my friend, Iraq has never had a clearer interest in rebuilding bridges to Tehran. And this week, Iran appeared to accept that that this logic might increasingly apply to it, too.
Speaking during a visit to Malaysia, the Iranian president, Mohammad Khatami, issued a blunt warning to the US to keep out of Iraq. "Any interference in the domestic affairs of Iraq would be against the interests of the people of Iraq and the interest of the countries of the region," he said. When it came to George Bush's concept of "regime change", Khatami said, "no one has the right to decide for the people of Iraq. The people of Iraq should decide for themselves."
These words must have read pleasantly in Baghdad. It is one thing for China, for example, to urge peaceful solutions on the US when it comes to Saddam. If and when push comes to shove, the US knows that Beijing will not seriously try to block it and will keep out of any fight.
The same almost certainly goes for Vladimir Putin's Russia. But Iran, a major regional power armed (according to US claims) with weapons of mass destruction and harbouring an unresolved, post-1979 revolution grudge against the "great satan", is a different matter entirely.
If George Bush is serious about removing Saddam (as he repeatedly vows he is), Washington might have been expected to be doing all it can to undermine any fence-mending between Iran and Iraq.
Bush clearly cannot bring himself to make friends with Tehran. He opposes British and EU attempts to forge partnerships through trade and diplomacy with Khatami and his fellow moderate reformers. But if only for obvious military reasons, he must, surely, want to keep Iran neutral, isolated and unengaged in any coming war in Iraq.
Strange to say, Bush and his Pentagon and National Security Council advisers are doing the exact opposite. The president loses no opportunity to alienate and enrage Iran. He labelled it a "rogue state" before and after becoming president. Last January, he named Iran as a member of the "axis of evil", deliberately lumping it together with Iraq.
He has renewed US sanctions on Iran, refused to pursue a resumption of diplomatic relations, moved to punish third parties (such as Chinese companies) doing business with Iran, and has placed enormous (and unwelcome) pressure on Russia to end its nuclear energy development assistance to Tehran.
Bush shows no gratitude for the important Iranian assistance that was provided to the US before and during the launch of the US campaign in Afghanistan, on Iran's eastern border, last autumn.
Instead, his administration has been at pains to emphasise Iran's alleged links to terrorism, be it via Hizbullah in Lebanon, via arms shipments to the Palestinians, through the affording of sanctuary to fleeing al-Qaida gangsters, or in respect of anti-Jewish attacks in Argentina or elsewhere.
Meanwhile, expanding US military bases and facilities proliferate in the Gulf, in Turkey and possibly Jordan, in Afghanistan and former Soviet central Asia - indeed everywhere Iranians look.
Then, earlier this month, Bush upped the ante, appealing directly to the Iranian people, in effect, to assert their democratic rights and overthrow their theocratic leadership. In a White House statement, Bush accused Iran's leadership of "persistent, destructive behaviour" and of corruption.
Officials later said the US was washing its hands of the twice-elected Khatami and the reformists, since it no longer believed they would deliver on their mandate, and would henceforth engage directly with the Iranian public (and, implicitly, anti-government forces).
The hardening US posture has understandably been interpreted in Iran as a blatant attempt to foment internal insurrection and revolt. In Malaysia, Khatami denounced US "meddling". Iran's spiritual leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, was even more forthright, saying Iran would "never retreat" in the teeth of US threats of war.
The former president, Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, weighed in on Wednesday, insisting that the US, "this crazy demon", was trying to overthrow Iran's government. "Those who think they can turn their backs on the system, the revolution, the martyrs and Islamic and Koranic values and hope for a helping hand from the White House are making a serious mistake," he thundered.
Reformists in Tehran are meanwhile appalled at Bush's blundering. They see his intervention as disastrously counter-productive and, with conservative elements now denouncing them as "stooges" of the US, fully expect the current crackdown on dissenters, independent newspapers, and advocates of engagement with the west to intensify.
How delightful all this must be for Saddam Hussein! What music to the ears of his wretched regime!
If Iran, fearing US intentions as much as Iraq and goaded beyond endurance by myriad US provocations, enters into some sort of alliance of expediency with Baghdad, Bush and his risibly inept, self-defeating strategists will only have themselves to blame. Yet this is where their policy is leading. What a way to fight a war. What a way to lose one.

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