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18.09.03 23:29:47
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18.09.03 23:32:36
Beitrag Nr. 7.002 ()
The end of American economic supremacy?

By Hussain Khan

09/18/03: (Asia Times) It is beginning to appear that the events of September 11, 2001 have had such an impact that it could end American economic supremacy in the world. The peril to the US economy has been compounded by fiscal actions taken by the administration of President George W Bush.

The costs of fighting and occupation in Afghanistan and Iraq, reconstruction and relief after September 11, and homeland security combined over the next two years, are expected to explode. Bush has already requested an additional US$87 billion for war funding alone. Administration tax cuts, according to the Congressional Budget Office, will cost the economy nearly three times as much as the costs of reconstruction and defense.

Moreover, these tax cuts are expected to rise to about $2 trillion over the decade. That is assuming that the sunset provisions phasing them out are enacted. If, as seems likely, they are not, the 10-year budgetary costs of the tax cuts will rise by another $2 trillion.

Bush wanted to follow on the footsteps of Ronald Reagan by relying on the theories of the supply-side economists, who believe that tax cuts generate so much additional economic activity that they increase government revenues. In his election campaign, Bush used tax-cut philosophy to appeal for votes. But the enactment of these theories is producing unforeseen negative effects rather than the positive qualities that the original supply-siders had assumed.

They had assumed that by cutting taxes, demand would increase due to surplus money available with the consumers for purchases. But this theory had already failed in Japan. Instead of spending, the Japanese simply increased their savings. The benefits of tax cuts were not cycled into the market to boost the economy, as consumers feared unemployment or business uncertainty. The situation is similar in the US today.

In a scenario changed by September 11, and after the administration`s decision to invade Afghanistan and Iraq to attempt to round up terrorists, the strain on the American economy has been so tremendous that these supply-side theories have fallen apart. Uncertainty and unemployment fear has grown due to this scenario. Psychologically, as in Japan, consumers were not encouraged to increase their spending as the supply-siders believed would happen under the tax cut measures. Their benefits were confined to the well-to-do, who simply deposited the extra money instead of spending it.

The federal government enjoyed a projected 10-year budget surplus of $5.6 trillion when Bill Clinton left the presidential office. But the Bush administration is now confronting sizable annual deficits just three years later. Private economists now forecast a 10-year deficit of around $4 trillion-$6.7 trillion, excluding the social security surplus. As a share of the economy, government debt and interest payments are expected to double over the next decade.

In a recent annual survey of the US economy, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) last month quoted a White House forecast that the federal budget deficit would explode to a record $455 billion in 2003 and then $475 billion next year. The IMF further quoted the Bush administration that the deficit - 50 percent bigger than that projected just five months ago – had been exacerbated by a weak economy, the Iraq war and a $350 billion tax cut package.

The deficit has thus increased more than 50 percent in just five months. This unforeseen increase is said to have occurred due to the Iraq war and the tax cuts. It actually shows that the tax cuts did not produce the results that the administration had expected. In fact, they were exactly the opposite.

The IMF notes two improvements in the US economy. First, its rate of economic growth was set to rise from 2.25 percent in 2003 to 3.5 percent next year. Second is the high growth in productivity, or output per hour work. As a matter of fact, the expected rise in the rate of economic growth is mainly due to the rise in productivity. If productivity growth were stifled, economic growth would also be affected negatively. And that is the factor about which the IMF has expressed concern in the following words:

"In particular, the worsening of the longer-term fiscal position, including as a result of the recent tax cuts, will make it even more difficult to cope with the aging of the baby-boom generation, and will eventually crowd out investment and erode US productivity growth."

That means that despite some possible improvements in a short-term scenario, the longer-term prospects are doomed to erode productivity growth and hence cut economic growth, leading to eventual crowding out of new investment, while the US has to face the challenge of an aging baby-boom generation. This is the IMF`s final conclusion. It added two further worries concerning social security and medicare in the following words:

"The risks to the fiscal outlook appear especially worrisome given the significant actuarial deficit arising from the longer-term demographic pressures on the social security and medicare [health care] systems. As a matter of fact, this temporary increase in the economic growth rate and in the productivity is going to occur at the cost of dismissing hundreds and thousands of workers. It is the result of increasing unemployment, which was accelerated by the 9/11 events. "

The number of employed workers continued to decrease after September 11 and overstocked goods had to be cleared. This situation resulted in a temporary increase in productivity or output per hour of work and hence the increase in the rate of economic growth.

As the IMF has pointed out, this situation cannot continue for long, as interest payments to fund the budget deficits will erode savings and drive out new investment. Increasing unemployment can be expected to erode purchasing power and shrink the urge for consumption and hence decrease demand, in turn bringing about stagnation and stifling growth.

Not only the IMF but the Republican-controlled Joint Committee on Taxation as well, using a variety of dynamic scoring assumptions, was forced to acknowledge that these cuts are likely to reduce the economy`s long-term growth. Explaining the reason as to why the committee has come to this conclusion, Laura d`Andrea Tyson, dean of London Business School writes:

"Any positive business-investment incentives from lower taxes will be outweighed by the curtailing of national saving and investment caused by mammoth budget deficits. To the extent that larger deficits diminish domestic saving, they eat into productive investment. To the extent that larger deficits are funded by borrowing from the rest of the world they raise the nation`s foreign debt and drive future income into servicing this debt. Contrary to the claims of administration ideologues, larger deficits mean lower future living standards.

"The administration argues that its tax cuts are necessary to stimulate growth in a sluggish economy. But this argument is specious. The economy may have needed a temporary infusion of additional demand during the past three years. But temporary tax cuts or spending hikes for hard-pressed working families, unemployed workers, and state governments would have stimulated demand much more effectively than tax cuts for the rich."

The tax cuts were designed to increase demand and employment opportunities, but they have backfired. The average tax cut is said to be about $1,000 per person. But half of the taxpayers will get a nominal tax cut of $120 only and one-third receive no benefit at all. The average refund is much higher because the benefit to the few rich taxpayers is very great. When more than half and the additional one-third do not benefit significantly from the tax cuts, how are those blessings going to come about that the supply-side theorists claim in the form of increased overall demand or in the purchasing power of the majority, while the number of the unemployed has peaked to a nine-year high level?

The increase in unemployment is a scourge in itself. A lot of companies like Enron and some airlines have been bankrupted. Those that survived dismissed a lot of their workers as a result of the September 11 events. The Clinton administration had created millions of new jobs and reduced unemployment to less than 4 percent. The events of September 11 reversed this trend. Unemployment is 50 percent higher than the Clinton administration figures, rising to a nine-year high of 6.1 percent. It has remained above that level for the last few months, despite slight negligible monthly adjustments.

The US had just emerged from recession in the beginning of 2001. But September 11 drove growth down again. Growth of at least 3 percent is needed to encourage hiring, say economists, but such growth has not occurred in consecutive quarters since the final six months of 1999. The economy grew only 1.4 percent annually in the first quarter of 2003. In an attempt to boost growth, the Federal Reserve cut short-term interest rates to 1 percent, their lowest level in 45 years.

The US Federal Reserve, the nation`s central bank, said at the time that the economy was still weak despite previous cuts in interest rates. But the impact of September 11 was so strong that all these efforts by the Bush administration and the Fed failed to spur growth and create new jobs.

On the contrary, under the so-called jobless recovery, more than 2 million jobs have disappeared since Bush took office in January 2001, reviving memories of 1929 depression. Bush could be the first president since Herbert Hoover, who was in the White House from 1929 to 1933, the years of the Great Depression, to oversee a decline in total US jobs during his term. By contrast, 22 million jobs were created during the Clinton years.

With presidential elections looming next year, Democrats have focused on the economy as Bush`s weak spot. Nancy Pelosi of California, the House Democratic leader, has described Bush`s economic record as "$3 trillion deeper in debt, three million fewer jobs".

As long as fiscal deficits continue to increase and erode savings and investment, there is no possibility of creating new jobs to significantly reduce unemployment. In addition to the increasing large fiscal deficits, unemployment, slow economic growth and falling living standards, other problems are hovering. One is in the form of the fall in federal revenues. Usually, with yearly growth, however small, revenues also continue to grow every year. But the war adventures of the Bush administration have reversed this historic trend.

In 2003, federal revenues are expected to fall to as far back as the 45-year-old level. The forecast is that the American economy will regress to the level of the 34th American president, Dwight D Eisenhower (1953-61). Federal revenues include a variety of sources of income, one of them tax revenue. If only tax revenue is compared, it is going to fall to about the 60-year-old level of 1943.

The present state of social security is such that one third of the dollars in this account have to be borrowed from outside, as internal revenues are not sufficient to cover costs. This is the largest share of deficit-financed spending in the past 50 years. This deficit spending is forecast to increase $400 billion by 2008. If no cuts are made in social security, medicare, defense and debt service, government spending on everything else - from education to homeland security - would have to be slashed by more than 80 percent to restore budgetary balance. The United States is in for a rough ride.

Hussain Khan holds a Master`s degree in Economics from Tokyo University, and worked for a German bank subsidiary selling Japanese stocks to institutional buyers in Japan, the Middle East, Europe and the US. He is an analyst on current affairs and economic issues for various newspapers and magazines. Email:
18.09.03 23:40:04
Beitrag Nr. 7.003 ()
18.09.03 23:42:47
Beitrag Nr. 7.004 ()
Auch wenn der Inhalt der Meisten Postings nicht so erfreulich ist: Die 7000 müssengefeiert werden!

18.09.03 23:52:54
Beitrag Nr. 7.005 ()
Er freut sich auch mit, denn in
1 year 4 months 4 days 15 hours 8 minutes (33.51%) remaining in the Bush Occupation
hat er es geschafft.
18.09.03 23:58:29
Beitrag Nr. 7.006 ()
Mit seiner schusssicheren Weste sieht der gar nicht mehr so schmächtig aus!

Wie GWB heute versprach, energisch gegen den Sturm vorzugehen - das war schon imponierend :D
19.09.03 00:04:24
Beitrag Nr. 7.007 ()
So lange er keine Nukes einsetzt, werden die Amis es wohl überstehen.
19.09.03 08:29:03
Beitrag Nr. 7.008 ()
The split loyalties that now define the New Europeans
Disputes between the larger members over America pain the east

Martin Woollacott
Friday September 19, 2003
The Guardian

After the floods subsided in Prague, a cartoon in one of the newspapers showed the figure of Christ on the Charles Bridge surveying returning tourists and sighing "They`re back". Czechs would sometimes like to have their capital to themselves, but know that, barring calamities, its beauty will always attract outsiders and that it is vital for the economy that it continues to do so. It is just a small rider to the instruction Czechs have had in the limits of the possible over the centuries. That intimacy with the power of external forces is one reason why Prague is a good place from which to view Europe`s current difficulties.

The wilfulness which marks European affairs is more easily grasped from such a vantage point. In this view, France and Germany`s assumption that what they decide on Iraq or the stability pact is essentially European, in a way that decisions by other governments are not, is in the same spectrum as Tony Blair`s opposite course on Iraq, or indeed the Swedish "no" vote last weekend.

Europeans, it seems, are not behaving in a very European way. The countries of north-eastern and central Europe, who will help swell the ranks of the union to 25 next May, see with some pain the sharp debates and disputes between the larger members, and between France and Germany and the US. Not pleased but, on the other hand, not absolutely appalled by this relative disarray, they are inserting themselves gingerly into it. They know their interests will sometimes be bruised, but also that the chemistry of the union is changing and that no set pattern of dominance by others - a matter of serious concern to them given their past - is likely to be established.

This process of insertion is already suggesting that the idea that Europe can be sorted out into three streams - a "core" or "euro" zone, a non-euro zone of existing "outer" members and a "new Europe" of the east - has only a partial validity. The Poles and the Hungarians, for instance, are lining up with the French and the Germans on agricultural reform, or rather the desirability of delaying it. Most east European states want to join the euro as soon as they can. Some members of the euro-zone, and indeed of the original six, like Holland, are Atlanticists, opponents of defence structures that compete with Nato, and purists on economic discipline.

In another example of crisscrossing, smaller countries from all three of these groupings met in Prague this month to discuss their common concerns about the draft European constitution, and their common irritation at the tactic Joschka Fischer and Valéry Giscard d`Estaing have adopted in touring the continent to warn states not to try to unravel the constitutional package. Yet, like the Swedes who decided that a referendum in which the only acceptable outcome was "yes" was not a democratic procedure, the new Europeans argue that a constitutional project in which the key issues are not supposed to be raised in the final debate is defective. They, and their allies from other parts of Europe, will indeed raise them, although not with huge hopes of changing the minds of the big countries.

They are misunderstood, and not only by Donald Rumsfeld, if they`re thought to be pro-American and for the Iraq war in some simple way. This is not only because most people, as opposed to their governments, were hostile to the war, although in a less intense fashion than in western Europe. It is also because the historical legacy is complicated. There is gratitude to the Americans for standing against the Soviets in the cold war and after it, leading to the expansion of Nato while the EU procrastinated about expansion.

There is a wariness of German power, a lingering distrust of France and Britain, and an ingrained dislike of intervention, invasion and bombing from the air. There is also, according to the historian Jiri Pehe, the fact that "their memories of the totalitarian past are still fresh. There is still a sense that certain things have to be fought against ... Vaclav Havel expressed this in saying that he had doubts about the timing of the Iraq war, but no doubt that it was the right war to fight." Ambiguous feelings in Poland, for example, about military commitment in Iraq reflect the contradictory pulls of these impulses.

The split loyalties of new Europeans mean that their primary interest is in a compromise between the US and France and Germany, so that they do not have to choose. As Pehe says: "We are grateful to the United States, but on the other hand we are in Europe and cannot be the 51st state. Our policies are about trying to satisfy both sides."

As far as the Czechs go, and in distinction to the Poles, Pehe even speaks of "Schweiking through" after Jaroslav Hasek`s famous character, indicating a combination of ironic deference and subversion of the purposes of others. Thus, as the French and German governments conferred yesterday in Berlin, they were doing so on the edge of a region in which most countries devoutly desire a rapprochement between the US and Europe. Their citizens are perplexed by the growth of anti-Americanism in Germany and, in particular, eastern Germany, where they had expected their sentiments about the US to be shared.

Eastern and central Europe were also dismayed by the way in which France and Germany cemented their improved relationship by adopting a common position on the Iraq war - not so much by the position itself as by the lack of consultation. "We were all taken by surprise," says Alexander Vondra, formerly Havel`s foreign policy adviser. "They warned nobody in advance." The Czechs, he says, found themselves in the odd situation of hankering after the Atlanticism of the Christian Democrats, even though the Schröder government was much more to their liking when it came to bilateral issues like those arising from the expulsion of the Sudeten Germans. For former dissidents, he said, there were memories of their problems with the western peace movement`s campaign against the deployment of intermediate range missiles.

In making their moral choices, their neighbours to the west then seemed to be more governed by anger at an ally and fear that they might be the victims in a nuclear war than by awareness of the oppressive nature of the Soviet system and the plight of those trapped within it.

Chirac, Schröder and Blair will be meeting in Berlin this Saturday in an attempt to come up with formulas that will ease both the divisions between Europe and America and those within Europe. The two are now so intimately connected that there is scarcely a European decision that does not have an American dimension. A fundamental settlement of transatlantic and, therefore, European differences is not likely, but a partial making-up is a possibility. If that does come about, there will be no more relieved group of nations than the New Europeans of the east.

Guardian Unlimited © Guardian Newspapers Limited 2003
19.09.03 08:31:51
Beitrag Nr. 7.009 ()
IMF warns trade gap could bring down dollar
Charlotte Denny and Larry Elliott
Friday September 19, 2003
The Guardian

The International Monetary Fund yesterday warned that the colossal United States trade deficit was a noose around the neck of the economy, emphasising that the once mighty dollar could collapse at any moment.

Arguing that the world`s big economies were already too dependent on the willingness of American consumers to live beyond their means, the IMF said the US could not continue to run a current account deficit of 5% of GDP.

The IMF`s chief economist Kenneth Rogoff said that it was just a matter of time before the gap closed, tipping the dollar into a potentially steep fall.

"If we were looking at a poor developing country, the world gives them just enough rope to hang themselves. A country like the United States, they give them enough rope to tie the noose around their neck several times. But it does happen in the end," he said.

In its twice yearly report on the world economy, the Fund warns that even a controlled slide in the dollar`s value is likely to slow US growth and unless other countries picked up the slack, the global economy would suffer.

Mr Rogoff said the collapse of world trade talks last weekend in Cancun could spell disaster for a global economy already too dependent on unbalanced growth in the US. Describing the breakdown as a "tragedy", he said global poverty would rise if protectionism took root in the world`s biggest economies.

Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and heightened geopolitical tensions worldwide after the September 11 attacks on the US would "unquestionably" hold back growth in the decades ahead, Mr Rogoff told reporters.

The report was highly critical of Europe`s stagnating economies, blaming governments for failing to embrace deep structural reforms of their labour markets and welfare states.

"Reforms to improve the competitiveness of European labour and product markets could yield significant dividends in terms of regional output," the report said.

It also warned that an overrigid application of Europe`s fiscal rulebook could push the eurozone deeper into trouble.

Chancellor Gordon Brown echoed the IMF`s criticisms of the eurozone in an article in yesterday`s Wall Street Journal, arguing that the credibility of Europe was at stake.

Demanding wide-ranging change to policies "that have held back our continent for too long", Mr Brown added: "Reform is not just desirable, it is an urgent necessity."

The chancellor said: "Having created a single market in theory, we should make it work in reality - and help it spread competition, cut prices, increase consumer choice and deliver higher productivity."

The impact of the stalled trade talks in Mexico on the fragile global recovery will dominate this weekend`s annual meeting of the IMF and the World Bank in Dubai.

Mervyn King, the governor of the Bank of England, said yesterday: "The failure of the talks in Cancun will cast something of a cloud over the meeting.

"That is not a happy background in which to assess the durability of the recovery."

Misalignments between the world`s biggest currencies are also likely to feature on the agenda, with the US hoping other countries will support its campaign to get China to strengthen its currency, the yuan.

Following an upgrading of its growth prospects by the fund, the US is expected to expand by 2.6% this year, the fastest of the big seven economies.

Guardian Unlimited © Guardian Newspapers Limited 2003
19.09.03 08:33:11
Beitrag Nr. 7.010 ()
`I do get rattled`
Paul Krugman is a mild-mannered university economist. He is also a New York Times columnist and President Bush`s most scathing critic. Hence the death threats. He talks to Oliver Burkeman

Oliver Burkeman
Friday September 19, 2003
The Guardian

The letters that Paul Krugman receives these days have to be picked up with tongs, and his employer pays someone to delete the death threats from his email inbox. This isn`t something that can be said of most academics, and emphatically not of economic theorists, but Krugman isn`t a typical don. Intercepting him in London on his way back home to New Jersey after a holiday in France, I half expect to find a couple of burly minders keeping a close eye on him, although they would probably have to be minders with a sound grasp of Keynesian macroeconomics. "I can`t say I never get rattled," the gnomish, bearded 50-year-old Princeton University professor says a little hesitantly, looking every inch the ivory-tower thinker he might once have expected to be. "When it gets personal, I do get rattled."

What drives his critics hysterical is not, it ought to be clarified, his PhD thesis on flexible exchange rates, or his well-regarded textbook on the principles of economics, co-written with his wife, the economist Robin Wells; nor the fact that he is probably the world authority on currency crises. For the past five years, Krugman - a lifelong academic with the exception of a brief stint as an economics staffer under Reagan - has been moonlighting as a columnist on the New York Times op ed page, a position so influential in the US that it has no real British parallel. And though that paper`s editors seem to have believed that they were hiring him to ponder abstruse matters of economic policy, it didn`t work out that way.

Accustomed to the vigorous ivy league tradition of calling a stupid argument a stupid argument (and isolated, at home in New Jersey, from the Washington dinner-party circuit frequented by so many other political columnists) he has become pretty much the only voice in the mainstream US media to openly and repeatedly accuse George Bush of lying to the American people: first to sell a calamitous tax cut, and then to sell a war.

"It`s an accident," Krugman concedes, addressing the question of how it came to be that the Bush administration`s most persuasively scathing domestic critic isn`t a loudmouthed lefty radical in the manner of Michael Moore, but a mild-mannered, not-very-leftwing, university economist, tipped among colleagues as a future Nobel prizewinner. "The Times hired me because it was the height of the internet bubble; they thought business was what would be really interesting. Turned out the world was different from what we imagined... for the past two-and-a-half years, I`ve watched what began as dismay and disbelief gradually turn into foreboding. Every time you think, well, yes, but they wouldn`t do that - well, then they do."

Even more confusing for those who like their politics to consist of nicely pigeonholed leftwingers criticising rightwingers, and vice versa, will be the incendiary essay that introduces Krugman`s new collection of columns, The Great Unravelling, published in the UK next week. In it, Krugman describes how, just as he was about to send his manuscript to the publishers, he chanced upon a passage in an old history book from the 1950s, about 19th-century diplomacy, that seemed to pinpoint, with eerie accuracy, what is happening in the US now. Eerie, but also perhaps a little embarrassing, really, given the identity of the author. Because it`s Henry Kissinger.

"The first three pages of Kissinger`s book sent chills down my spine," Krugman writes of A World Restored, the 1957 tome by the man who would later become the unacceptable face of cynical realpolitik. Kissinger, using Napoleon as a case study - but also, Krugman believes, implicitly addressing the rise of fascism in the 1930s - describes what happens when a stable political system is confronted with a "revolutionary power": a radical group that rejects the legitimacy of the system itself.

This, Krugman believes, is precisely the situation in the US today (though he is at pains to point out that he isn`t comparing Bush to Hitler in moral terms). The "revolutionary power", in Kissinger`s theory, rejects fundamental elements of the system it seeks to control, arguing that they are wrong in principle. For the Bush administration, according to Krugman, that includes social security; the idea of pursuing foreign policy through international institutions; and perhaps even the basic notion that political legitimacy comes from democratic elections - as opposed to, say, from God.

But worse still, Kissinger continued, nobody can quite bring themselves to believe that the revolutionary power really means to do what it claims. "Lulled by a period of stability which had seemed permanent," he wrote, "they find it nearly impossible to take at face value the assertion of the revolutionary power that it means to smash the existing framework." Exactly, says Krugman, who recallss the response to his column about Tom DeLay, the anti-evolutionist Republican leader of the House of Representatives, who claimed, bafflingly, that "nothing is more important in the face of a war than cutting taxes".

"My liberal friends said, `I`m not interested in what some crazy guy in Congress has to say`," Krugman recalls. "But this is not some crazy guy! This guy runs Congress! There`s this fundamental unwillingness to acknowledge the radicalism of the threat we`re facing." But those who point out what is happening, Kissinger had already noted long ago, "are considered alarmists; those who counsel adaptation to circumstance are considered balanced and sane." ("Those who take the hard-line rightists now in power at their word are usually accused of being `shrill`, of going over the top," Krugman writes, and he has become well used to such accusations.)

Which is how, as Krugman sees it, the Bush administration managed to sell tax cuts as a benefit to the poor when the result will really be to benefit the rich, and why they managed to rally support for war in Iraq with arguments for which they didn`t have the evidence. Journalists "find it very hard to deal with blatantly false arguments," he argues. "By inclination and training, they always try to see two sides to an issue, and find it hard even to conceive that a major political figure is simply lying."

Krugman can expect many more accusations of shrillness now that The Great Unravelling is on the bookshelves in the US. Already, he says, Alan Greenspan, the chairman of the federal reserve, is refusing to talk to him - "because I accused him of being essentially an apologist for Bush". And there will be plenty of invective, presumably, from the conservative commentator Andrew Sullivan, who hauled Krugman over the coals for accepting a $50,000 (£30,000) adviser`s fee from Enron. (Krugman ended the arrangement before beginning his New York Times column, and told his readers about it.

"I was a hot property, very much in demand as a speaker to business audiences: I was routinely offered as much as $50,000 to speak to investment banks and consulting firms," he wrote later, by way of justification - demonstrating the knack for blowing his own trumpet that even politically sympathetic colleagues find grating. They say he has had a chip on his shoulder since failing to get a job in the Clinton administration.)

Still, there`s an important sense in which his views remain essentially moderate: unlike the growing numbers of America-bashers in Europe, Krugman doesn`t make the nebulous argument that there is something inherently objectionable about the US and its role in the world. He claims only that a fundamentally benign system has been taken over by a bunch of extremists - and so his alarming analysis leaves room for optimism, because they can be removed. "One of the Democratic candidates - who I`m not endorsing, because I`m not allowed to endorse - has as his slogan, `I want my country back`," Krugman says, referring to the campaigning motto of Howard Dean. "I think that`s about right."

Or, to quote a state department official who put it pungently to a reporter earlier this year, describing the dominance of the Pentagon hawks: "I just wake up in the morning and tell myself, `There`s been a military coup`. And then it all makes sense."

· The Great Unravelling is published by Penguin

Guardian Unlimited © Guardian Newspapers Limited 2003
19.09.03 08:35:02
Beitrag Nr. 7.011 ()
John Lansdale
The man who captured Germany`s A-bomb secrets for America

Pearce Wright
Friday September 19, 2003
The Guardian

An aspect of the second world war that has long mystified military analysts is the absence of any signs of an early committed espionage effort by the Americans to discover the extent of Nazi progress in the development of an atomic bomb.

When, however, in the closing months of the war, the US intelligence service did react, it launched a mixed American and British strike force, under Lieutenant Colonel John Lansdale, who has died aged 91, to capture the German scientists and their stocks of uranium ore from under the noses of the advancing Soviet forces, and smuggle them out of Europe. Yet Lansdale had no record as the kind of action man needed for such an adventure.

Born in Oakland, California, he took a BA at the Virginia Military Institute and a law degree at Harvard University. In 1936, he joined the law firm of Squire, Sanders & Dempsey, first in Cleveland and later in Washington, until he was recruited into the army after the US entered the war.

The events that were to link him to the race for the atomic bomb began in 1942. That September, the US war department created the Manhattan Project, under Brigadier General Leslie Groves, to build a vast array of secret pilot plants, laboratories, manufacturing facilities and a weapons test site to develop the atomic bomb, at the then astronomical cost of $2bn.

Appointed as the project`s head of security and intelligence, Lansdale became one of Groves`s righthand men - and often the mediator in bitter disputes between the military and industrial people on the one side and the atomic physicists on the other. Groves was a career soldier - he was already deputy chief of construction for the entire US army - and recognised as having an aggressive, authoritarian temperament.

Before the Manhattan Project was launched, atomic weapons work had been largely theoretical, being based on fundamental experiments at several major universities by a handful of brilliant physicists, many of them exiles from Europe. Although divided philosophically about the ethics of developing an atomic weapon, they were united in a belief that the scientists should remain in charge. The Manhattan Project was the moment that they lost control, and their role changed from being on top to being on tap.

In addition to managing a team to vet security clearance for the largest secret project in history, Lansdale found himself interceding in bitter clashes between the military and science. Probably the most acrid of the many disputes he had to resolve erupted between Groves and the exiled Hungarian physicist and mercurial genius, Leo Szilard.

Szilard had fled from Nazi Germany to England in 1933 and, the following year, had taken out a patent on nuclear energy as an energy source. He went to America in 1938 to continue his work at Columbia University. When he learned of the progress being made in Germany on the fission of uranium, he approached Albert Einstein so the two could write and warn President Roosevelt of the possibility of atomic bombs.

Together with Enrico Fermi, Szilard organised in Chicago the first fission reactor that showed, in 1942, how to produce weapons grade plutonium 239. After that, his metamorphosis into a key member of the Manhattan Project was a given. But he constantly broke the rules with his criticisms of the project, and his views differed sharply from Groves`s. It was an inevitable collision between one man`s obsession with security and the other`s dedication to scientific openness.

When Szilard threw his patent on fission into the argument, as giving him rights to a greater say in development work, Groves exploded. Lansdale negotiated a truce, but never succeeded in reducing the intense dislike between the two men, and the distrust that the soldier had for the scientist. The degree to which Lansdale`s team maintained watertight security over the project for three years was a tour de force.

When Groves did turn his attention to looking at intelligence of Germany`s nuclear effort, he picked a team of scientists with no links to the Manhattan Project, and gave them the codename Alsos - meaning "grove" in Greek.

In April 1945, as allied and Soviet troops were pushing through Germany on their way to Berlin, the Alsos force was sent to track down the enemy`s atomic bomb project and its nuclear scientists before they could fall into the hands of the Soviet Union.

Lansdale led a raid on a factory in Stassfurt, northern Germany, where he suspected the Germans had a cache of bomb materials. He found about 1,100 tons of ore - some in the form of uranium oxide, the raw material of atomic bombs - and, in less than a week, had smuggled a number of German scientists, including Werner Heisenberg and Otto Hahn, out of Europe, together with the uranium ore.

In the mid-1950s, Lansdale was called before Congress to testify about his approval, 10 years earlier, of the appointment of J Robert Oppenheimer as head of the Manhattan Project`s scientific team. Oppenheimer had been accused of being a communist, and his security clearance had been revoked. Outraged at this treatment, Lansdale ardently defended his former colleague as a loyal American citizen.

In 1987, he retired from the law firm, to which he had returned after the war. His wife died in 2001, and he is survived by five daughters.

· John Lansdale, lawyer and security chief, born January 9 1912; died August 22 2003

Guardian Unlimited © Guardian Newspapers Limited 2003
19.09.03 08:36:49
Beitrag Nr. 7.012 ()
Afghan elite seizes land for mansions as poor lose homes
By Phil Reeves in Kabul
19 September 2003

He is the proud new owner of a plot of prime land, mystifyingly given to him by a nation that is desperately short of money. The neighbours will include Afghanistan`s most powerful ministers.

Little wonder that as he inspected his half-built mansion, nothing - especially questions about his country`s legions of homeless or rampant land grabbing by the ruling elite - could dent General Abdul Momen Atahi`s spirits.

"The city`s chief of police will live over there," the general said, cheerfully pointing at a site near by as a team of dust-covered labourers laid the bricks of what will become a spacious living room, adorned with balconies commanding a glorious view of the mountains.

"The Minister of Defence has a place over there," he said. "The deputy mayor of Kabul is there. And there`s the Minister of Water and Power`s plot." While millions of Afghans, many of them returned refugees, live in hopelessly inadequate housing - including buildings bombed out during two decades of war - government ministers and commanders are enmeshed in a scandal over the acquisition of prime land in Kabul.

International reconstruction efforts proceed at a snail`s pace in much of the countryside, but steady progress is being made on scores of palatial homes in the capital`s most prestigious neighbourhood. The affair is an embarrassment for the "transitional" government of Hamid Karzai, and for his chief sponsor, the United States, which is keen to declare Afghanistan a success, particularly after the disaster in Iraq.

It has come to the boil just after President George Bush requested $800m (£500m) from Congress for the reconstruction of Afghanistan and as Afghan officials prepare to press the argument for more rebuilding funds to the US Treasury Secretary, John Snow, who arrived in Kabul yesterday.

Afghanistan`s Independent Human Rights Commission says all but four of Mr Karzai`s 32 cabinet ministers have been given plots at Shir Pur village in Kabul, some of which the commission estimates are worth up to $170,000 - a reflection of soaring land prices in the post-Taliban capital.

General Atahi, commander of the 72nd Brigade, is one among scores of senior officials to benefit from the move, which he says was agreed by the cabinet. He says he paid the equivalent of $1,500 "for documentation"; otherwise the plot was free, although he is footing the bill for construction.

This, in itself, would be sufficient to generate an outcry. The list of people awaiting re-housing in the city of Kabul alone is 500,000, according to human rights activists. But the scandal acquired larger dimensions earlier this month when bulldozers were sent in to destroy mud and brick homes belonging to several hundred men, women and children in an attempt to drive them off part of the site.

Some of them have lived there for 25 years and say they have documents to prove their ownership rights. This claim contradicts some government officials who have sought to defend the construction of the estate by saying that it is on land wholly owned by the Ministry of Defence. "One hundred police came here and they started beating us," said one resident, Rahmat Shah, 43. "We were hoping things would be better after the Taliban, but then they did this."

Kabul`s chief of police, Basir Salangi, is widely blamed for the attempted eviction and has been sacked. The houses themselves were half-destroyed before United Nations human rights officials, accompanied by international peace-keeping forces, intervened to halt the demolition. Since then, the families have refused to budge.

Finger-pointing is under way in Kabul over who is responsible; questions abound over whether President Karzai was involved, and whether he will now act to redress the situation - which may involve direct confrontation with some of his most influential ministers. It is also a test of the nascent human rights groups, who have seized on the issue, and Afghanistan`s new media.

Several ministers have said that President Karzai himself approved the project. But he has denied any prior knowledge, and this week ordered a commission of inquiry.

"As far as I am aware the ministers who have taken land have paid for it," said the President`s spokesman, Jawid Ludin. "It may have been a notional figure; it may not have been the market price. The commission will hopefully shed light on that."

Further heat was added to the issue by Miloon Kothari, an independent consultant who spent a fortnight travelling around Afghanistan to compile a report on land and housing issues for the UN`s Human Rights Commission. He found widespread evidence that provincial warlords and government officials - exploiting the lack of a judiciary or land registries - are grabbing land illegally, forcing people to sell, and driving up property prices to levels well beyond the means of the poor by land speculation, sometimes to launder drugs money.

He also announced that a "very long list" of officials at the "very highest level" were involved and specifically cited the Shir Pur affair. He named the Defence Minister, Marshal Mohammed Qasim Fahim - who is one of Afghanistan`s most powerful and controversial figures - as directly involved, and called for his dismissal.

Marshal Fahim, a Tajik, has issued heated denials. But these have not mollified many. Abdul Sabor, a teacher, lives with his family in the bomb-shattered ruins of a house in west Kabul, much of which was damaged during the 1993 civil war. He has been waiting for years to be re-housed. "We are just pawns in a game played by thieves and criminals," he said.
19 September 2003 08:36

© 2003 Independent Digital (UK) Ltd
19.09.03 08:39:47
Beitrag Nr. 7.013 ()

In Kandahar and other Pashtun areas in southern Afghanistan, the Taliban is resurgent and disaffection is spreading.
September 19, 2003
2 U.S. Fronts: Quick Wars, but Bloody Peace

The United States` military base in Gardez, Afghanistan — its perimeter marked by a small woodshed with the words Crack House painted over but still visible — straddles the smooth asphalt main road that leads southeast.

For the Americans, blocking the road helps create a "safe" radius around their base. For Afghans, however, it creates an inconvenient detour. When the main road is rejoined, it soon offers up the "customs inspectors" of a renegade Afghan commander taxing all new cars that pass. The Americans do nothing about this, local residents say.

Two years after the Bush administration vowed to fight terrorism worldwide, the American presence in the heavily Pashtun area of southern Afghanistan has mostly come down to this: two obstacles on the road, one imposed by the Americans, the other ignored by them, and neither, as Afghans see it, benefiting their country.

Not for a long time has the United States embarked on two such ambitious projects as the simultaneous pacification and rebuilding of Afghanistan and Iraq. The administration argues that progress has been significant in both countries — the removal of the Taliban and its ally Al Qaeda in Afghanistan, the overthrow of the Baathists in Iraq, the liberation of millions of people in each country from oppressive governments, the taking of the fight to terrorists on the soil where they found havens.

But even American officials in Afghanistan concede that the sense of alienation and disappointment may be helping to nourish the boldest regrouping yet by supporters of the Taliban, the regime the United States toppled in 2001. The Gardez base has been attacked twice this month; in the area, bands of Taliban are roaming, harassing local men who do not grow beards.

In Iraq, there are daily attacks on American soldiers, including one that killed three yesterday, and they may not be just the work of foreign fighters or Saddam Hussein loyalists. Defense Department officials warned this week that ordinary Iraqis increasingly hostile to the American occupation might soon constitute the most formidable foe.

In both countries, an apparently rapid military victory has been followed by a murkier, bloodier peace. Militant Islamic extremism, in its Afghan and Iraqi guises, is proving, for now, to be an ideology that can be contained but not defeated.

The Bush administration is now struggling to respond. Aid to Afghanistan is being doubled, and the cost of the occupation of both countries over the next year is now put at $87 billion. In neither country does any exit for American troops appear feasible in the foreseeable future.

This month, President Bush vowed to stay the course. Noting that "America has done this kind of work before" in Germany and Japan after World War II, he made clear that the United States would not cut and run.

It took four years to hold the first elections in Germany after the war ended in 1945, and 54 years to win the wider struggle against Communism engaged there.

"Now and in the future," Mr. Bush said in his nationally televised address before the second anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, "we will support our troops and we will keep our word to the more than 50 million people of Afghanistan and Iraq."

Keeping that word will be expensive and arduous, but administration officials see an even wider objective: the engagement of a struggle to remake the Middle East as a region of possibility and democracy rather than a place where frustrations seethe under authoritarian governments, breeding anti-American violence.

But such broad ambitions seem far from America`s reach for now. In both countries, militants are mounting attacks on Americans and American-backed locals in the tried and tested guerrilla style.

They are staging nighttime attacks on police posts and hit-and-run assaults on American convoys. The guerrillas are killing international and local aid workers, chasing away the very people trying to rebuild their shattered countries.

"We`re easy targets," said Staff Sgt. Paul Anderson, who is part of a team the Americans have fielded in southeast Afghanistan in a bid to win hearts and minds. "If they really want to get us they can."

Central Iraq

American Occupation, Guerrilla Resistance

Americans in both countries have already learned one lesson: good intentions are not always rewarded. This is clear in the perilous Ramadi-Falluja region of central Iraq, some 70 miles west of Baghdad.

Early in September, a five-ton American truck was blown off the road by a homemade bomb, probably set off by an Iraqi soldier hiding in the tall grass. An American soldier lay in the road, his clothing in bloody shreds.

As an American troop carrier lifted the ruined vehicle from the roadside, the Iraqis who had gathered nearby cheered. Farmers and shopkeepers, parents with children, all of them threw their arms into the air as the troop carrier rumbled past.

"Death to America!" the Iraqis cried, some holding up the bloody shreds of an American uniform. "God is great! The American Army will collapse here in Iraq!"

Remote-controlled bombs explode regularly next to American troops. The American camp in Ramadi is bombarded almost nightly by mortars and artillery. In four months, 19 American solders have been killed and more than 100 wounded.

"One day after another, it`s bang, boom, pow," said Specialist Ferdinand Frizarry, walking in a foot patrol along River Road, where American soldiers have been ambushed by remote-controlled bombs repeatedly in recent days. Bomb craters lined a two-mile stretch of road. "You could hide a bomb anywhere in there," he said.

The precise source of these anti-American attacks remains unclear. But officials say there is growing evidence that the country is now seen as the epicenter of a struggle between the West and Islam. Fundamentalist Islamic warriors, or jihadists, are being drawn to the country, fighting alongside or perhaps in conjunction with loyalists of the fallen government of Saddam Hussein.

Responding to the violence, the Bush administration has returned to the United Nations — a body spurned in the buildup to the war in Iraq — to try to secure a mandate that would encourage other countries to send troops to help in the battles and tasks that lie ahead. It also seeking to speed up the transfer of security duties and political responsibility to Iraqis.

Ramadi probably amounts to the worst that Iraq can offer. To the south, the country`s Shiite Muslim majority remains relatively tolerant of their American occupiers, while in the north, the Kurds are the Americans` most stalwart supporters.

But if most of Iraq is proving largely amenable to the occupation, the guerrilla war being waged in the central part of the country serves as a measure of how far the American project in Iraq must go before its architects can claim success.

In Afghanistan, too, success still seems elusive. Striking differences exist between the countries, not least the larger scale of the resistance in Iraq. In Afghanistan an international coalition forged before the war has held, with countries like Germany and Canada still sending troops, while in Iraq the Americans are laboring largely alone.

In Afghanistan, an American-backed administration, led by President Hamid Karzai, has been in office for more than 18 months. Iraqis are still governed mainly by an American civilian administrator, L. Paul Bremer III.

But a hardening of attitudes often seems evident in both countries. After the bombing of the truck in the Ramadi area in Iraq, an American tank dispatched to the scene sprayed a field of tall grass with heavy machine gunfire, killing no one, for there was no one there to kill.

Even the jokes have turned. In the American military headquarters in Gardez, a soldier scrawled out the word "FUN" vertically on a blackboard, then wrote out sentences to follow each letter: F is for the fire that burns through downtown; U is Uranium bombs; and N is for No Survivors in Al Ramadi.

"I know they hate my guts, but they can`t say so because I`ve got a gun," an American soldier said the other night, standing guard outside the base. "Kind of funny, isn`t it?"


Faltering Progress, Security Fears

Much as 30 years of Saddam Hussein`s Baath Party rule altered the culture and social structures of Iraq, 23 years of war had the same effect in Afghanistan.

Everything was destroyed, from schools to roads to hospitals to the most basic of government services, whether tax collection or policing. Thousands of warlords were empowered and cannot now be dislodged. Factionalism colors everything.

Most of Afghanistan`s citizens are now illiterate. The country`s human capacity is "beyond words," said Khwaja Sultan, who heads a consulting team working on economic management. "Very, very low."

Most Afghans live miles from even minimal health care, and many parts of the country lack phones, electricity, drinking water and decent roads. Children support families by herding goats or filling in potholes in the road. Old men do harsh physical labor until they drop. Women bear children until they die, often by age 43.

Afghanistan`s mountainous geography is much more challenging than that of Iraq. The four northern provinces that Germany is proposing to cover with a provincial reconstruction team of 300 to 400 soldiers are equivalent to 20 percent of German territory.

The United States, too, came to Afghanistan with what is referred to as a "light footprint." The mission was to capture or kill Taliban and Al Qaeda fighters. So while the populations of Iraq and Afghanistan are roughly equivalent, America has 127,000 troops in Iraq, and 9,800 in Afghanistan.

That smaller Afghan force is now stretched. The signs that the Taliban may be resurgent in the Pashtun south are multiplying — in the form of attacks on pro-government Afghans and spreading disaffection.

So, two years after the war, America is not scaling back its effort but ramping up.

It is encouraging the possible expansion outside of Kabul of an international peacekeeping force now under NATO`s command; investing more in building a national army and police force; and having some soldiers work as they have in Iraq, fixing wells, setting up mobile clinics, settling disputes and otherwise trying to imprint this notion on Afghan minds: America does good.

The needs in one of the world`s poorest countries are arguably far greater than in Iraq. If Iraq suffered from an excess of the state, one that spied on all its citizens, Afghanistan has suffered from the lack of one.

"This is a country that has not thought about its own development for 25 years," said Filippo Grandi, the chief of mission for the office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.

America is now thinking about that development but facing an increasingly sullen population. Afghans had expected that America, the world`s superpower, which had announced its intentions to bring peace and reconstruction to Afghanistan, would act quickly and effectively.

Instead, as of May, according to a study by the Center for International Cooperation at New York University, only $191 million in reconstruction projects had been completed. A critical artery of the country — the Kabul-Kandahar road — is still far from complete, a potholed mess in many sections.

This faltering progress has prompted some Afghans to say that the Americans have already lost the battle for the Pashtun south, which gave rise to the Taliban and does not feel represented in the postwar government.

"We are scared, because they started rebuilding very late," said one Afghan security official from the southeast. "Most people will say the Americans aren`t doing anything."

At the same time, Americans have generated anger by searching homes and wrongly arresting people, said Hajji Azrat Khan, an elder of the Ahmadzai tribe who lives not far from the American base in Gardez. This problem — offended local sensibilities — also exists in Iraq.

"They take someone to Bagram" — the American base near Kabul — "for two or three months, then release them and say, `I`m sorry. I`m sorry,` " he said , as if testing the words before spitting them out.

The task of reversing this kind of sentiment quickly has fallen to a Provincial Reconstruction Team, essentially a civil affairs unit of about 60 American soldiers whose focus is less on capturing terrorists than on winning public support.

While aiding the military mission by gathering intelligence as they work, they have focused on reconstruction. In Gardez, the team has 29 projects under way, most involving the building or fixing of schools.

They have had at least some effect. One Ahmadzai elder, Abdul Hanam, said the Americans had built three schools in his district, Ahmadabad, including a girls` school to be opened soon, and conducted mobile clinics. "People are very happy with the Americans," he said.

Paktia Province`s new governor, Asadullah Wafa, said the Provincial Reconstruction Team was now doing much of the rebuilding in his province, as nongovernment groups have pulled back because of security fears.

Critics note that even school-building can be more about symbolism than substance. Barnett R. Rubin, an Afghanistan expert at New York University, said Afghanistan had a $600 million deficit in its recurrent expenditures trust fund, used for, among other things, government salaries.

"What is the point of building schools," he asked, "when there is no money for teachers?".

The American soldiers` role, they said, comes down to this: to fire back when someone fires at them, and to serve as de facto bodyguards for the reconstruction team.

This, they said, was a job better done by the military police, who are heavily deployed in Iraq, but absent in Afghanistan.

As they waited, they talked about recent American casualties in Shkin, near the Pakistani border: two killed, one wounded.

They knew it could be them. With almost no direct contact with the population, they tried to read faces, and they did not like what they saw. "The children like us," one 10th Mountain Division soldier said. "That`s pretty much it."


Repairing Dams, Winning Few Friends

In Ramadi, too, Americans` efforts to rebuild are taking them deep into the mundane details of engineering and public administration.

Lt. Christopher Rauch, a 24-year-old Army civil affairs officer, spent a day last week inspecting the half dozen dams standing inside the Euphrates River. Over the past several weeks, Lieutenant Rauch has spent tens of thousands of dollars to repair the dams, some of which are a half-century old.

Only six months ago, he was working as a clerk for the State of South Carolina, processing applications for unemployment insurance. But he was an army reservist, too, a college graduate with a degree in agriculture, and suddenly he found himself presiding over engineering projects about which he had received no formal training.

"I`m not an engineer," said Lieutenant Rauch. "But I understand pretty well how things work." Over time, he said, he has developed a close rapport with his Iraqi counterpart, Hussein Alawi, the minister for dams for Al Anbar Province, which stretches west of Baghdad to the Syrian border.

Through an Arabic translator, Lieutenant Rauch listened intently and offered advice. Mr. Alawi proclaimed him an expert. "When it comes to engineering, the Americans know what they are doing," Mr. Alawi said. But beyond that Mr. Alawi would not go.

Asked about the Americans and their occupation, Mr. Alawi shook his head. "I am cooperating with the Americans for the sake of my country," Mr. Alwai said. "It`s the nature of the Iraqi people to be proud and nationalistic, more than most people. We want to evict them."

American commanders still express confidence in the institutions they are helping to build in Iraq, including local councils, police and fire departments and highway patrols. In some parts of the country, these efforts are beginning to yield results.

In Ramadi, though, it is less clear that these American-inspired institutions are working, or even that the beneficiaries of the new government endorse them.

One day last week, a group of new officers from the Iraqi Highway Patrol lounged beneath a highway overpass. Asked about the Americans, they responded with scorn.

"I hate the Americans," said Muhammad Khobaeir Waeel, a new officer. "They don`t respect us. They throw us to the ground and put their boots on the backs of our heads."

With such friends, America may scarcely need enemies as it tries to govern two countries that are very different from post-1945 Germany and Japan. Those who work with the Americans do so at risk.

In Gardez, one Afghan interpreter for the military said that when he went on raids, he wore a hood over his head so no one could identify him. He had heard that interpreters working with the Americans had a bounty on their head. "People blame us for giving the Americans information," he said.

Getting accurate information has been perhaps the greatest challenge for the Americans in places like Paktia Province in the southeast. Local tribal leaders and government officials sketch a picture of an American military trying to follow trails in the sand on a windy day.

Perhaps that is not a bad image for the current state of the American efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Masood Karokhail, a program officer for the Gardez area for the aid group Swisspeace, said American soldiers had sometimes become pawns in feuds dating back generations, with scores settled by passing often false information to the Americans.

One American Special Operations soldier at the local base insisted that intelligence was solid, and mistakes few. "Our house searches are always based on good information," he said.

But an Afghan security official, a Pashtun and supporter of the American presence, was blunt in his assessment of American actions. "Unfortunately they don`t have faithful Afghan friends," he said. "That is very dangerous for them."

Amy Waldman reported from Gardez, Afghanistan, and Dexter Filkins reported from Ramadi, Iraq.

Copyright 2003 The New York Times Company
19.09.03 08:41:02
Beitrag Nr. 7.014 ()
19.09.03 08:43:18
Beitrag Nr. 7.015 ()
congratulation, Joerver

dein sräd ist mir ein seelisches fussbad, checker!
19.09.03 08:43:58
Beitrag Nr. 7.016 ()

Iraqis brought a portrait of Saddam Hussein and what they said was part of a burned American military vehicle, at right, to a celebration in Khaldiya after two American soldiers were wounded there. Three G.I.`s were killed in another attack near Tikrit.
September 19, 2003
3 G.I.`s Killed in an Ambush by Guerrillas Near Tikrit

BAGHDAD, Iraq, Sept. 18 — Guerrillas shattered a two-day lull in deadly attacks against American forces in Iraq tonight, ambushing soldiers with small-arms fire near Saddam Hussein`s hometown of Tikrit north of Baghdad. Military officials said three soldiers were killed and two were wounded.

Earlier today, two American soldiers were wounded and three military vehicles were destroyed when a convoy hit explosives in the road while patrolling the hot-spot town of Khaldiya, west of Baghdad.

Maj. Pete Mitchell of the Marine Corps, a spokesman for United States Central Command, said tonight that an "unknown force" attacked American forces in the Tikrit area. He said he had no further details on the American casualties or whether any of the attackers had been killed or wounded.

The Tikrit attack was the first deadly assault on American forces here since Monday. More than 70 American soldiers have been killed in hostile fire in Iraq since President Bush declared major combat operations over on May 1.

Several news organizations tonight quoted witnesses as saying that two or more American soldiers had died in the attack in Khaldiya, but Amy Abbott, an American military spokeswoman, said soldiers were only wounded.

Elsewhere today, a fire erupted on an oil pipeline near the northern town of Bayji that feeds the main pipeline to Turkey. Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, the commanding officer for the ground forces in Iraq, said it was unclear whether the blaze was an accident or sabotage.

The area where the Khaldiya attack occurred today roiled with further anger at Americans. In nearby Falluja — where nine police officers were killed last week by American soldiers — crowds marched for the funeral of a 14-year-old boy who had been shot, residents said, by American troops Wednesday night.

Residents said American troops, apparently thinking they were under attack, opened fire near a wedding where guests were shooting off machine guns in celebration.

The Khaldiya attack today occurred about 3 p.m. along the main road, 15 miles west of Falluja. Sergeant Abbott said that the convoy hit mines and that two transport trucks and a Humvee were destroyed.

The Associated Press reported that five tanks, two Bradley fighting vehicles and about 40 troops surrounded the area. The news agency reported a second attack about nine miles to the west, but the military command could not confirm that tonight.

Khaldiya has been unsettled in recent weeks, with several attacks on the new police force that is supported by American troops. On Monday, the town`s new police chief — condemned by many in town as a collaborator with the Americans — was assassinated on his way home.

The American military has been working to calm tensions in the area, and today officers met with local leaders in Falluja to discuss the deaths of the policemen. General Sanchez said the military would consider paying the families of the dead men, as he said had happened in other instances when American soldiers have accidentally killed Iraqis.

"We`ve paid almost a million in claims across the country," General Sanchez said today in Baghdad.

He also said no Americans or Britons were being held in Iraq. That possibility had been raised this week by an American brigadier general. General Sanchez also confirmed reports that the Americans were holding 3,856 members of the Iranian group People`s Mujahedeen, a force backed by Mr. Hussein that has fought Iran`s Islamic government.

Copyright 2003 The New York Times Company
19.09.03 08:45:38
Beitrag Nr. 7.017 ()
September 19, 2003
Late-Arriving Candidate Got Push From Clintons

WASHINGTON, Sept. 18 — Behind Gen. Wesley K. Clark`s candidacy for the White House is a former president fanning the flames.

General Clark, in fact, said today that he had had a series of conversations with both the former president, Bill Clinton, and his wife, Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York, as well as close aides to them and that all of them had encouraged him to run.

The story, though, is not simple.

At first glance, it would seem that Mr. Clinton and General Clark would have a longtime bond. They each lost their fathers early. From the same small patch of 1950`s America, they emerged as ambitious, high-achieving golden boys, becoming Rhodes Scholars and attending Oxford University, then soaring to the tops of their respective professions at relatively young ages.

In reality, they hardly knew each other. Instead of paths that crossed, theirs were parallel. And when their lives finally intersected — while Mr. Clinton was president and General Clark commanded the allied troops in Europe — it was a complex and tortured time for both.

To General Clark`s humiliation, President Clinton`s Pentagon relieved him of his command. And President Clinton had signed off on the plan, according to several published accounts, apparently unaware that he was being deceived by Clark detractors.

Now the 58-year-old career Army officer wants to be president. And the 57-year-old former president seems eager to promote his candidacy.

General Clark said in an interview today he had talked with both Mr. and Mrs. Clinton over the last few weeks. Beyond saying that they had been encouraging, he was reluctant to discuss the conversations because he was "afraid I`m going to misquote one of them."

Earlier this summer, Mr. Clinton and Mrs. Clinton were talking up General Clark to their friends.

"During their visits to Martha`s Vineyard, there was certainly a lot of buzz about General Clark`s potential candidacy," said Alan M. Dershowitz, the author and Harvard Law School professor who hobnobbed on the Vineyard with the Clintons.

"Obviously they didn`t make any endorsement, but Bill particularly was clearly talking up his virtues," Mr. Dershowitz added. "You could tell he was Bill`s kind of guy."

And just last week, at a dinner at the Clintons` home in Chappaqua, N.Y., the former president told guests the Democratic Party had "two stars," referring to Senator Clinton and General Clark.

Since then, some of Mr. Clinton`s former associates have signed on with General Clark`s incipient campaign.

One of them is Mickey Kantor, who was Mr. Clinton`s campaign chairman in 1992. "I`m doing everything I can to give him personal advice and talk to others about him," Mr. Kantor said.

Both Clintons, Mr. Kantor said, "are really admirers of General Clark and his talents and are greatly impressed with him." He added: "Given their admiration for General Clark, I`d be surprised if they were anything but supportive of anyone who has worked for them for doing anything to help him."

Mr. Kantor said that the Clintons` enthusiasm did not extend to recruiting people for the Clark campaign, and he expected that neither Clinton would endorse any candidate in the Democratic primaries. But their enthusiasm is evident.

"He`s a good man, he`s a smart man, served our country well," Mr. Clinton said on Saturday in Iowa. "He was fabulous in the Bosnian peace process."

On Tuesday, he hailed General Clark as having "a sack full of guts" for a heroic rescue bid of State Department officials whose vehicle had slid off a Balkan mountainside.

The Clintons` promotion for General Clark`s candidacy has set off speculation about their long-term strategy. Conservative commentators have suggested that the Clintons were encouraging weak candidates to enter the race so that they would lose, leaving the Democratic field open for Senator Clinton in 2008.

Asked today about some of that speculation, including whether he might be a stalking horse for Senator Clinton and might wind up as her vice presidential candidate, either next year or in 2008, General Clark said he had heard the talk but dismissed it. He also said he had no interest in being vice president.

"If you`re concerned about national security affairs," he said, "then the right place for the person who wants to be commander in chief is to be the commander in chief."

General Clark also said he had not had much of a relationship with the Clintons. "I had, like, seen him twice in my life before he became president," he said.

Even though they both grew up in Arkansas, General Clark wrote in his book, "Waging Modern War" (PublicAffairs, 2001), that he met Mr. Clinton for the first time in 1965 at a student conference at Georgetown University. He met Hillary Clinton in 1983 in France at a conference of French-American Young Leaders. The Clarks and the Clintons had dinner once when Mr. Clinton was governor of Arkansas and, as General Clark told it, "I had talked to him once on the phone as I was passing through the state a few years later, but that was about it."

Still, early in the Clinton administration, Mr. Clark was named a senior aide to the joint chiefs of staff. It was not then clear whether Mr. Clinton had a hand in the promotion, but General Clark wrote in his memoirs that he had heard later from a fellow officer that Mr. Clinton had referred to him as "my friend, Wes Clark."

General Clark did not at that time dispel the impression that the two were friends. The similarities in their histories led people to think that there must have been a relationship. One rumor then circulating had it that Mr. Clark had double-dated with Mr. Clinton and Hillary Clinton.

The stories became so common that after several weeks, General Clark did start setting the record straight. And in reality, Pentagon officials said, General Clark`s promotions were approved by President Clinton but not initiated by him.

With the extent of his connection to the president unclear, several accounts said that the impression grew that General Clark circumvented the Pentagon to go to his friends at the White House.

"There was a belief at the Pentagon that this was happening," a senior Clinton administration official said today. "But this was wildly overstated."

Still, this belief fueled resentment toward General Clark among some top Pentagon officials. Military officials described that resentment as based in part on jealousy and partly on the fact that General Clark — first in his class at West Point, achingly ambitious and with a knack for getting good press — had not fit in with the military culture.

From that assignment as senior aide to the joint chiefs, General Clark took on a succession of promotions, culminating in his assignment as NATO supreme allied commander. But his end came unceremoniously.

It was July 1999, shortly after General Clark had led the successful war in Kosovo — though as he wrote in his memoirs, he could not claim victory because the administration had been reluctant to call it a war.

In any case, General Clark was forced to retire early by Pentagon officials who, according to several accounts, tricked President Clinton.

Members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff told the White House that they had to find a spot for Joe Ralston, a popular Air Force general and right-hand man to William S. Cohen, the secretary of defense. General Ralston had been denied the promotion to chairman of the Joint Chiefs after admitting to adultery 10 years earlier while separated from his wife.

These members, according to several accounts, told President Clinton that General Clark`s regular tour of duty as NATO supreme allied commander was up and that they wanted General Ralston to succeed him.

"Clinton signed on, apparently not realizing that he had been snookered," David Halberstam wrote in his book, "War in a Time of Peace: Bush, Clinton and the Generals" (Scribner, 2001).

"Clark was devastated by the news, a world-class slap in the face, a public rebuke of almost unparalleled proportions," Mr. Halberstam wrote. He added that Samuel Berger, Mr. Clinton`s national security adviser, had told General Clark that the Pentagon had fooled the White House.

General Clark wrote that later, President Clinton had told him privately, "I had nothing to do with it."

Copyright 2003 The New York Times Company |
19.09.03 08:48:29
Beitrag Nr. 7.018 ()

September 19, 2003
Iraqi Factions Seek to Take Over Security Duties

SALAHUDDIN, Iraq, Sept. 18 — Five Iraqi leaders devised a sweeping new security proposal today that would call for most American troops to withdraw to their bases and turn over day-to-day police duties to Iraqi militia forces working under a new interior ministry.

While the proposal still requires approval from Iraq`s Governing Council and the American authorities, it represented the strongest action to date on the deteriorating security climate in Iraq by leaders of the former Iraqi opposition to Saddam Hussein.

Some of these leaders, who met privately here in this city in northeastern Iraq to create the proposal, said they were prompted to act out of deep frustrations over the continuing instability in the country.

Massoud Barzani, leader of the Kurdish Democratic Party and the host of the meeting, said in an interview that United States forces were making serious mistakes by trying to become a "front line" occupation force. He said they needed to turn over this task quickly to Iraqi militia forces who could work with Iraqi civic and tribal leaders to draw up security arrangements tailored to each part of the country.

The proposal, which will be presented to American officials in the next few days, raised questions of how the disparate Iraqi militias would function together, if at all, and whether their return to the streets would foment a kind of warlordism in Iraq. The Iraqi leaders said, however, that their forces could be integrated under the control of a new interior ministry and monitored by Iraq`s interim government and the United States military.

The militias, Mr. Barzani said, could provide a transitional force until tens of thousands of Iraqi police officers and a new Iraqi army were ready to assume the task.

Mr. Barzani said Iraqi leaders want to continue to work closely with the more than 140,000 allied forces in Iraq, but he indicated that the five former opposition leaders would recommend to the 25-member Governing Council that the United States military take a secondary and much reduced role.

"The biggest mistake the Americans have made is to confront the Iraqis face to face and to be in the front line of confrontation," Mr. Barzani said. "But I think American forces should be withdrawn to bases nearby. They should not be policing and conducting patrols. They should hand over these duties to Iraqis."

It was not immediately clear how the United States will respond to the proposal. But military authorities have said they would be receptive to a workable plan to speed up the transfer of security functions in the country to the Iraqis.

Gen. John P. Abizaid, who heads the United States Central Command, said in an interview with The Wall Street Journal that American military commanders were considering a plan to pull back from policing duties by next spring.

The commander of the allied forces in Iraq, Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, told reporters in Baghdad today they "would be willing to do that immediately" if local security forces were prepared to take over.

The plan drawn up by the Iraqi opposition leaders would call for a more rapid pullback of allied forces and would bring into play Kurdish, Shiite and other militia forces that the American military commanders have either sought to disarm, disband, or, in the case of the Kurds, restrict to guard duties in the Kurdish homelands in northern Iraq.

The meeting here was unannounced and came as a surprise to some members of the 25-member Iraqi Governing Council in Baghdad.

No American military officials were present, but a senior Central Intelligence Agency officer in Iraq lunched with the five leaders at Mr. Barzani`s guest house here. When a reporter was invited into the lunch by Mr. Barzani, the C.I.A. official and his aides departed.

The dramatic initiative by the core leaders of the former Iraqi opposition to Mr. Hussein follows a month of increasing violence and security setbacks for American forces that have created a perception that the American security plan for postwar Iraq is failing.

Today`s meeting also reflected the growing determination on the part of the interim Iraqi government to assert itself politically by insisting on taking over more responsibility from the Coalition Provisional Authority headed by L. Paul Bremer III.

"The Iraqi people understand the logic of liberation and they reject the logic of occupation," said Ahmad Chalabi, head of the Iraqi National Congress and one of the participants in today`s meeting. Mr. Chalabi is president of the Iraqi Governing Council this month under a rotation arrangement. "The faster that sovereignty is vested in the Iraqis, the faster that security will be established in the country," he said.

Mr. Chalabi, who leaves for the United States this weekend, said the new security plan had been completed. It was expected that it would be presented to senior Bush administration officials in coming days.

"It would put the Iraqi militias under the ministry of interior and take control of security in agreement with the Americans with some sort of liaison so we can avoid incidents of friendly fire," he said, adding that the plan could be carried out this fall.

Also attending the meeting were Jalal Talabani, the leader of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, the second largest Kurdish faction; Iyad Alawi, leader of the Iraqi National Accord; and Adel Abdul Mahdi, a senior official of the main Shiite religious party, the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq.

"The current situation cannot continue," said Mr. Abdul Mahdi, whose party blamed American forces for the security lapse that led to the car-bomb attack that killed Ayatollah Muhammad Bakr al-Hakim. "The death of Ayatollah Hakim was for us like Sept. 11, and we believe Iraqis now should take a clear responsibility on the question of security."

A number of Governing Council members, including Mr. Abdul Mahdi, said in interviews that they would take no step to undermine the relationship between the interim government and the occupation authority. They added, however, that they were resolved to assume a greater measure of sovereignty and more authority for the current interim government while following an agreed plan to write a constitution and hold elections for a permanent government over the next year.

"We do not prefer to do things quickly at the expense of doing them well," said Akila al-Hashemi, a Shiite from a prominent religious family in Najaf who held a Foreign Ministry post in Mr. Hussein`s government and was selected to serve on the Governing Council.

But in comments reflecting the current mood on the Governing Council, Ms. Hashemi told a group of her colleagues recently, "Rights are taken, they are not given."

A number of Iraqi ministers appointed this month to take over major sectors of the government and economy already have complained to the Governing Council that they have no budget resources and that their directives are either ignored or reversed by Mr. Bremer`s staff.

Nevertheless, some of Mr. Bremer`s aides believe that the interim Iraqi government is ill equipped to assume greater responsibilities.

A proposal by France this month to transfer sovereignty to the interim Iraqi government within weeks seems to have been rejected by some Governing Council members.

"We are not counting on the French position," said Muhammad Othman, a Kurdish physician who returned from exile in London to join the Iraqi council. "But it is a good opportunity to push our cause and to get a resolution at the United Nations that restores our sovereignty."

Ms. Hashemi, who visited Paris on Sept. 10 and met Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin, said she admonished the French not to try to drive a wedge between the United States and the new Iraqi government by offering a tempting plan for quick sovereignty.

"Don`t think the Iraqis will ever forget what the Americans did in liberating them," she said she told French officials, adding, "We will not allow the Americans to fail."

Copyright 2003 The New York Times Company
19.09.03 08:51:04
Beitrag Nr. 7.019 ()
The suicide bombing of the United Nations headquarters in Baghdad, at the Canal Hotel, has left the secretary general, Kofi Annan, more determined to remake the organization to fit 21st-century realities.
September 19, 2003
U.N. Senses It Must Change, Fast

UNITED NATIONS, Sept. 18 — A mood of skittish uncertainty has descended on the leaders of the United Nations. They are eager to overhaul their institution, but worry whether any change can give it the freedom it needs to survive without being seen as either a lackey of the United States or an easily swattable gadfly.

The bombing of the United Nations headquarters in Baghdad last month has, however, also made the secretary general, Kofi Annan, more aggressive. He is more nervous about putting his people in harm`s way, particularly if they are operating with an ambiguous mandate, but he is increasingly insistent that member states end a decade of dawdling and remake the institution to fit the geopolitical realities of the 21st century.

Mr. Annan, who says he will outline plans for reform as the annual General Assembly gathers next week, has said that only "radical" revisions in the institution are likely to preserve it. Iraq has shattered any global consensus on handling security issues, and, as last week`s meeting in Cancún showed, there is no consensus on trade issues.

It is already clear that events since Sept. 11, 2001, have cost the United Nations dearly. The fundamental assumption of its neutrality has been supplanted, at the fringes of the Muslim world, with the assumption that the United Nations is simply a stalking horse for the imperial ambitions of the United States.

Two weeks after the Baghdad bombing on Aug. 19, the United Nations public relations personnel in the Arab world gathered here to brief Mr. Annan on this growing perception. Salim Lone, the communications director of the Baghdad mission and a survivor of the bombing, said, "It was clear to many of us in Baghdad that lots of ordinary Iraqis were unable to distinguish our U.N. operation from the overall U.S. presence in the country."

"This perception is growing in the Middle East," he said. "Extremists prosper from that, which is why I am afraid that a terrible line has been crossed by this bombing and given other groups a new terror option."

Europeans today view the United Nations as the embodiment of international law and world order. The United States seems to view it as a tool to be used when handy. Africans and Asians tend to have more case-specific uses for United Nations diplomacy and its general advocacy for the poor and disadvantaged who are not much in the minds of rich nations.

But for United Nations officials, many of whom have never worked anywhere else, the bottom-line question remains how to relate to the United States.

"The worst fear of any of us," said Shashi Tharoor, an under secretary general whose entire career has been spent at the United Nations, "is that we fail to navigate an effective way between the Scylla of being seen as a cat`s paw of the sole superpower and the Charybdis of being seen as so unhelpful to the sole superpower that they disregard the value of the United Nations."

Mr. Annan believes that one problem is that the United Nations does not reflect the world as it exists today. The Security Council, he argues, must be enlarged, with new members added to both the group of 10 elected nations that serve two-year terms, and the group of five permanent members that hold veto power: the United States, Britain, France, China and Russia.

The General Assembly, he said, needs to remake itself so that it does not simply pass "lowest common denominator" nostrums. "We started with 51 member states and we are now 191 member states," he noted, but "the structure of the Council has not changed."

In public forums and in worldwide news outlets, Mr. Annan has been hammering home his points, saying, with soft-spoken passion, that the global security infrastructure is broken, and if it is not fixed right away, it will be too late.

The United Nations, whose $1.2 billion budget supports three major regional headquarters outside New York, supports more than 9,000 employees worldwide and dozens of peacekeeping and relief missions. Its usefulness — in places from Kosovo to Liberia — is not widely disputed, but its raison d`être is.

American ambivalence over the institution has come into focus over Iraq. The question is now being asked: is it worth bringing the United Nations into more of a substantive partnership role in Iraq`s political transformation?

The Bush administration is facing a lot of international skepticism. Despite the recent decision to turn back to the United Nations for its imprimatur on the forced remaking of Iraq, many here fear that the United States may step back yet further from the creed of multinationalism hewn to by presidents from Franklin D. Roosevelt to George H. W. Bush and Bill Clinton and treat the organization merely as a necessary evil.

The latest draft resolution on Iraq being circulated by the United States reflects a continued wariness. Instead of offering the United Nations the role of midwife to a new government, which it played in Afghanistan, or the more direct administrative role that it had in East Timor, it calls on Iraqis — specifically the Governing Council created under the auspices of the United States and Britain — to be the midwives of their own future, and to set the timetable for the restoration of Iraq`s political rebirth as a sovereign nation with a constitution and a democratically elected government.

The resolution, as originally crafted, still leaves the United Nations in the role of facilitator, not decision maker, with the job of "providing humanitarian relief, promoting the economic reconstruction of and conditions for sustainable development," and "advancing efforts to restore and establish national and local institutions for representative governance."

Such language seems unlikely to satisfy the French and Germans, who see the United Nations at the center of balanced world governance. The French dislike the degree of American power being exercised today around the world, and the American tendency to skirt, isolate or ignore multilateral institutions.

Meanwhile, the vicious, small conflicts that the great powers are sometimes reluctant to confront continue to flare, these days in Central and West Africa. At the root of them is often a pure economic conflict, like the possession of diamond mines set against a backdrop of failed development schemes.

A significant body of American opinion, particularly conservative opinion, is that the United Nations has been ineffectual in halting such conflicts.

In most such situations, said Joshua Muravchik, a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, "the story of United Nations efforts to play a security role has been a story of failure, except in a significant handful of cases, like Salvador and the Sinai, in which there really was a deal made that all sides wanted to keep."

Overarching security issues, like nuclear proliferation, are trotted on and off the United Nations stage but never seem to be resolved by the United Nations itself.

In an interview less than a month before the Baghdad bombing, the former British envoy to the United Nations, Sir Jeremy Greenstock, said the problem was not so much a growing misunderstanding of what the United Nations is, as a perpetual misunderstanding of what it can do.

"It sets the agenda on development, environment, rights, the way the world is going to look in the next generation," he said. "It`s not a short-term fix organization. The U.N. doesn`t have power unless those who have power switch it through to the U.N. as a matter of choice. But on the longer-term issues they are not in control. The U.N. provides the order on the long-term issues."

But it is the current short-term issue, Iraq, that threatens to shape the world body for the long term.

Copyright 2003 The New York Times Company
19.09.03 08:52:41
Beitrag Nr. 7.020 ()
September 19, 2003
The Terrorism Link That Wasn`t

On Wednesday, President Bush finally got around to acknowledging that there was no connection between Saddam Hussein and the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

White House aides will tell you that Mr. Bush never made that charge directly. And that is so. But polls show that lots of Americans believe in the link. That is at least in part because the president`s aides have left the implication burning.

President Bush himself drew a dotted line from the 9/11 attack in declaring the end of hostilities in Iraq. "The battle of Iraq is one victory in a war on terror that began on Sept. 11, 2001, and still goes on," Mr. Bush said. He continued the theme in his last major speech on the war.

But on Sunday, Vice President Dick Cheney went too far. He said it was "not surprising" that many Americans drew a link between Mr. Hussein and 9/11. Asked if there was a connection, he replied, "We don`t know."

But the administration does know, and Mr. Bush was forced to acknowledge it on Wednesday.

Of course, Mr. Cheney was not surprised that Americans had leapt to a conclusion. He was particularly enthusiastic in helping them do it. "Come back to 9/11 again," Mr. Cheney said on Sept. 8, 2002, "and one of the real concerns about Saddam Hussein, as well, is his biological weapons capability."

Mr. Cheney was careful then not to claim that any evidence really linked Mr. Hussein to the 2001 attacks. But he drew a convoluted argument about Mr. Hussein`s ties to Al Qaeda and suggested in closing that he was not telling all he knew because he did not want to reveal top secrets.

Before the war began, Mr. Bush switched the justification for the invasion repeatedly. The argument that was most persuasive, the danger of weapons of mass destruction in the hands of Mr. Hussein, has fallen flat since the weapons have failed to turn up.

Plenty of evidence has emerged that Mr. Hussein was a bloody despot who deserved to be ousted for the sake of his beleaguered people. But recent polls suggest that the American public is not as enthusiastic about making sacrifices to help the Iraqis as about making sacrifices to protect the United States against terrorism. The temptation to hint at a connection with Sept. 11 that did not exist must have been tremendous.

The Bush administration always bristles when people attempt to draw any parallels between the quagmire in Vietnam and the current situation in Iraq. If the president is really intent on not repeating history, however, he should learn from it. The poison of Vietnam sprang from a political establishment that was unwilling to level with the American people about what was happening overseas. Stark honesty is the best weapon Mr. Bush can employ in maintaining public confidence in his leadership.

Copyright 2003 The New York Times Company
19.09.03 08:53:52
Beitrag Nr. 7.021 ()
September 19, 2003
Snapping to Attention

Democrats wandering like outcasts in a desert of disillusion have spotted—— what?

Is that a four-star general out there? You say he`s from the South? And he`s a Democrat who wants to be president?

All right, all right, calm down! Yes, the original lineup of Democratic candidates — Dean, Kerry, Lieberman, et al. — was a caravan of disappointments. But some questions must be asked.

Is Wesley Clark — first in his class at West Point, Rhodes scholar, former NATO supreme allied commander, holder of the Purple Heart and Silver Star — the real deal, or just a mirage?

Is this (by all accounts) brilliant former general really a dream candidate for the parched and leaderless Democrats, or just a dream?

In theory, he`s almost perfect. He inoculates the Dems against the G.O.P. canard — now more than half a century old — that they are somehow less than patriotic. General Clark was severely wounded in combat in Vietnam and led the successful military operation in Kosovo in 1999.

Republicans are not eager to have the general`s career contrasted with the military misadventures of George W. Bush, who escaped Vietnam by joining the Texas Air National Guard and who celebrated the alleged end to major combat in Iraq by staging his very own "Top Gun" fantasy aboard the aircraft carrier Abraham Lincoln.

General Clark`s instincts (or at least the little we know of them) seem to push him in the direction of bridge-building and cooperative efforts, which would be good for a party in disarray, and even better for a country that needs as many allies as possible in the fight against terror and other threats around the world.

With regard to the fight against terror, he has said the first order of business for the U.S. should have been an alliance of the U.S., the United Nations and NATO against Al Qaeda. As for Iraq, in a telephone conversation yesterday he told me the American people deserve to know a lot more about our rationale for invading.

"It`s important to ask why the administration set the timeline in such a manner that they were unable to wait for an international coalition to emerge and work together," he said. "And why is it that they failed to plan adequately for the postwar task? Certainly the officers in uniform understood very well the difficulties and what could happen afterward. Why is it that the administration didn`t want those difficulties aired?"

The problem, of course, is that presidencies are not won on paper. It takes awhile — sometimes too long — to determine what`s real about a politician, any politician. Lyndon Johnson ran as a peace candidate in 1964. Richard Nixon said he had a secret plan to end the war in Vietnam. George Herbert Walker Bush told the voters to read his lips. Bill Clinton said, "I did not have sex. . . ." And George W. Bush assured us he was uniter, not a divider.

So we`ll scrutinize General Clark, undoubtedly a lot more closely than he would like. Meanwhile, he`s the flavor of the moment. He comes across as less angry than Howard Dean (who can give the impression that one-on-one he might put the president in a headlock). He seems more personable than John Kerry, more mature than John Edwards, more telegenic than Joe Lieberman and so on.

The general cheered Democrats with this swipe at Mr. Bush on Wednesday: "For the first time since Herbert Hoover`s presidency, a president`s economic policies have cost us more jobs than our economy has the energy to create."

But he also said that while his campaign is committed to asking hard questions and demanding answers, "we`re going to do so not in destructive bickering or in personal attacks, but in the highest traditions of democratic dialogue."

The comparisons of General Clark to a fellow named Eisenhower are as overblown at this point as they are inevitable. But there`s a lot that any candidate can learn from the Eisenhower model: the quick and endearing smile, the optimism, the quiet sense of strength, the ability to read and reflect the national mood.

We`ll know a lot more about General Clark soon enough. Meanwhile, the Democrats should welcome him not as a savior but as someone with the potential to energize their stagnant field of presidential contenders.

Copyright 2003 The New York Times Company
19.09.03 08:55:01
Beitrag Nr. 7.022 ()
September 19, 2003
Germany Will Share the Burden in Iraq

BERLIN — Terrorism continues to be a very serious risk to security and stability in the world. With the fight against terrorism far from over, Germans and Americans stand united in the battle. Together, we will prevail.

For many months now, German soldiers have been fighting side by side with American troops in Afghanistan, once a haven and a logistical base for international terrorism. I am firmly convinced that we have no choice but to continue on in this common struggle, given the threat that global terrorism and Al Qaeda pose to the international community.

I put my own political future on the line in 2001 when I asked the German Bundestag for a vote of confidence for sending troops to Afghanistan, a military commitment unprecedented for Germany.

Until very recently, German troops played a leading role in the International Security Assistance Force, which has brought a measure of stability and order to Kabul and the surrounding areas. Though the force is now commanded by NATO, a German NATO general is in charge. Freeing Afghanistan from the bondage of the Taliban and Al Qaeda was an exceptional accomplishment.

Now, however, we must focus our efforts on helping a troubled country introduce democracy and rebuild itself under extremely difficult circumstances. Germany is therefore prepared to participate in extending the reconstruction program beyond Kabul and to assign military personnel to protect civilian aid workers and organizations.

It would be tragic, both for the Afghan people and the international community, if this country were to relapse into tyranny or once more become a breeding ground for terrorists. We have a joint responsibility to prevent this, for it is in our common interest and in keeping with our common values.

German-American cooperation is solid in other areas as well. Our troops are working with American forces in the Balkans to ensure stability there. Our navy is helping to patrol the Horn of Africa, protecting international sea routes. And more than 8,000 German troops are participating in peacekeeping missions around the world.

In the fight against terrorism, German intelligence services and law enforcement are working closely with American and other international partners. And on the diplomatic front, Germany and its European partners are doing their utmost with Washington to bring forward the peace process between Israel and the Palestinians. Our commitment to peace in the Middle East, based on the security of Israel and the right of the Palestinian people to form a state of their own, is a pillar of our foreign policy.

It is true that Germany and the United States disagreed on how best to deal with Saddam Hussein`s regime. There is no point in continuing this debate. We should now look toward the future. We must work together to win the peace. The United Nations must play a central role. The international community has a key interest in ensuring that stability and democracy are established as quickly as possible in Iraq. The international mission needs greater legitimacy in order to accelerate the process leading to a government acting on its own authority in Iraq.

In addition to its current military involvement in Afghanistan, the Balkans and elsewhere, Germany is willing to provide humanitarian aid, to assist in the civilian and economic reconstruction of Iraq and to train Iraqi security forces.

When we gather in New York next week for the United Nations General Assembly, we will underline that Germany and the United States are linked by a profound friendship based on common experiences and values. For Germans, the 2003 general assembly is very special. It was exactly 30 years ago that Germany was admitted to the United Nations, a milestone in our postwar history. Back then, Germans were still forced to live in two states, divided by a wall and a dangerous border. Today, Germany is united.

We Germans will not forget how the United States helped and supported us in rebuilding and reuniting our country. That Germany is living today in a peaceful, prosperous and secure Europe is thanks in no small measure to America`s friendship, farsightedness and political determination.

Beginning with President Harry S. Truman, all American presidents have supported and encouraged European integration. This remains a wise policy, for a strong and united Europe is also in the interest of the United States. With the adoption of a European constitution and the enlargement of the European Union, Europe is opening an important new chapter in unity. Germany, as a civilian power in the heart of Europe, knows from its own history that cooperation and integration are conditions for security and prosperity.

Not until after the fall of the wall and unification did Germany fully regain its sovereignty. Today we are a full member in the international community — with all the rights and obligations this entails. Germany`s role in the world has changed and so has our foreign policy. My country is willing to shoulder more responsibility. This may entail using military force as a last resort in resolving conflicts.

However, we must not forget that security in today`s world cannot be guaranteed by one country going it alone; it can be achieved only through international cooperation. Nor can security be limited to the activities of the police and the military. If we want to make our world freer and safer, we must fight the roots of insecurity, oppression, fanaticism and poverty — and we must do it together.

Gerhard Schröder is the chancellor of Germany. This was translated by the German Embassy from the German.

Copyright 2003 The New York Times Company |
19.09.03 08:56:09
Beitrag Nr. 7.023 ()
19.09.03 08:57:09
Beitrag Nr. 7.024 ()
19.09.03 08:58:45
Beitrag Nr. 7.025 ()
19.09.03 09:18:53
Beitrag Nr. 7.026 ()
Steel Tariffs Appear to Have Backfired on Bush
Move to Aid Mills and Gain Votes in 2 States Is Called Political and Economic Mistake

By Mike Allen and Jonathan Weisman
Washington Post Staff Writers
Friday, September 19, 2003; Page A01

In a decision largely driven by his political advisers, President Bush set aside his free-trade principles last year and imposed heavy tariffs on imported steel to help out struggling mills in Pennsylvania and West Virginia, two states crucial for his reelection.

Eighteen months later, key administration officials have concluded that Bush`s order has turned into a debacle. Some economists say the tariffs may have cost more jobs than they saved, by driving up costs for automakers and other steel users. Politically, the strategy failed to produce union endorsements and appears to have hurt Bush with workers in Michigan and Tennessee -- also states at the heart of his 2004 strategy.

"They tried to play politics, and it looked like it was working for a while," said Bruce Bartlett, a conservative economist with ties to the administration. "But now it`s fallen apart."

The issue is being brought to a boil by the scheduled release today of voluminous progress reports by the U.S. International Trade Commission. The ITC`s mid-session assessment of the three-year tariff program`s impact will examine not only the tariffs` effects on the steel industry but also on the hard-pressed manufacturers that shape steel into products.

White House officials said Bush will not make a decision until he has digested the ITC reports. But his top economic advisers have united to recommend that the tariffs be lifted or substantially rolled back this fall, and several administration officials said it is likely he will go along. The retreat would roil the political and economic landscape of the Rust Belt, where both parties expect the presidential election to be won and lost.

It also could produce a tidal wave of negative publicity in West Virginia, a traditionally Democratic state that Bush won by 6 percentage points, and Pennsylvania, which Bush lost by 5 percentage points and had targeted as one of his most promising possible pickups for 2004.

"The only reason they won`t do it is if they`re unwilling to admit they made a mistake," said a Republican strategist who works closely with the White House.

Administration officials said the office of Bush`s top political adviser, Karl Rove, was a vocal and energetic advocate of tariffs during the debate last winter. Rove became so identified with the duties that a Wall Street Journal editorial calling for their repeal was headlined, "Steel Thyself, Karl Rove."

Republican lawmakers from steel states said Bush is considering compromises that would increase the number of exclusions from the tariffs, easing prices for steel buyers.

Administration officials are careful to say they see both sides of the argument. "A healthy steel industry is important to this country," said Grant Aldonas, undersecretary of commerce for international trade, in an interview. "But the small- and medium-sized guys who bend metal for a living have a real complaint about the steel tariffs. There`s no doubt about that. We can`t hide from it."

Even as they express their sympathies, however, they make no apologies for the tariffs -- or trade "safeguards," as the administration prefers to call them. "It`s important to recognize these safeguards have had an adverse impact on [steel] consumers -- that`s why safeguards are used sparingly," a senior U.S. trade official said. "But the president thought that on balance the benefits would outweigh the costs, and the story of the last 18 months has borne that out."

That conclusion is subject to fierce debate. A study backed by steel-using companies concluded that by the end of last year, higher steel prices had cost the country about 200,000 manufacturing jobs, many of which went to China. Small machine-tool and metal stamping shops say they have been decimated by steel costs that rose in some cases by as much as 30 percent.

Steel producers have their own job numbers. Investments that flooded into the protected steel industry over the past 18 months brought idled steel mills back on line and kept teetering mills from shutting down, said Peter Morici, a University of Maryland business professor hired by the steel producers. That resurrected 16,000 steel jobs, and more than 30,000 jobs when steel suppliers are included.

Gary Hufbauer, a critic of the tariffs at the Institute for International Economics, said that both sides are exaggerating their numbers. The steel industry has added some jobs in the past 18 months, but not because of the steel tariffs. Steel consumers have shed jobs because of the tariffs, but he said the number was probably 15,000 to 20,000.

But in this case, the facts may be less important than the perception in key states where the tariffs have been debilitating. The tariffs failed to give Bush the allegiance of the United Steelworkers of America, the industry`s largest union and one the White House had hoped to win over. In August, the union endorsed Rep. Richard A. Gephardt (Mo.) for president and issued a statement saying any of the Democratic candidates would offer better than "the reactionary policies of the current administration."

Perhaps worse for Bush, the tariffs alienated thousands of small businessmen who run steel-consuming companies. "He didn`t win the steelworkers over, and he sure as hell didn`t win the users over, and there are a hell of lot more of us," said Jim Zawacki, chief executive of G.R. Spring & Stamping, Inc., a small manufacturer in Grand Rapids, Mich. "A lot of people feel burned," said Mike Lynch, vice president of government affairs at Illinois Tool Works, a large machine tool company outside Chicago.

Political divisions over the tariffs remain fierce, even within the GOP. Sen. Arlen Specter (Pa.), who talked to Bush about the issue this week, contends the tariffs "are saving thousand of jobs in the steel industry, and you had a steel industry headed for more bankruptcies."

Sen. Lamar Alexander (Tenn.), however, insists the tariffs have "shifted more steel-consuming jobs overseas than exist in the steel-producing industry in the United States," causing thousands of layoffs and closing the doors of hundreds of small businesses that supply automakers in Tennessee, a state that Bush won by just 4 percentage points and is counting on for his reelection.

But among Bush`s economic team, opposition to the tariffs has hardened substantially. Administration officials said Commerce Secretary Donald L. Evans, one of Bush`s closest friends, thinks the tariffs should be lifted as a way of showing that the administration has heard the pain of manufacturers, who account for 2.5 million of the more than 2.7 million jobs lost during Bush`s presidency. Treasury Secretary John W. Snow, chief economic adviser Stephen Friedman and N. Gregory Mankiw, chairman of the White House Council of Economic Advisers, are said to agree.

That marks a significant change from 18 months ago, when R. Glenn Hubbard, then chairman of Bush`s Council of Economic Advisers, drafted detailed analyses against the tariffs, including state-by-state job losses that he forecast for manufacturing.

But the economic team was fractured. Evans was torn between the steel industries and the steel users. He ultimately decided against the tariffs, but with caveats that the White House political team took as a sign of weakness, former administration economic officials say. Likewise, then-Treasury Secretary Paul H. O`Neill expressed philosophical opposition to tariffs, but he was more interested in opening talks with allies on limiting steel production capacity abroad.

At a crucial meeting of the economic team, tariff opponents said they were abandoned. O`Neill sent his undersecretary for international affairs, John Taylor. Then-Budget Director Mitchell E. Daniels Jr. told Hubbard, who also has since left the administration, that he would back him, but left the meeting before Hubbard`s presentation. And Lawrence Lindsey, the famously opinionated chairman of the White House National Economic Council, decided his role was to facilitate the discussion, not express an opinion.

Perhaps most importantly, former Bush economic advisers said, Robert B. Zoellick, the U.S. trade representative, supported the tariffs, figuring that backing them would win congressional votes to give Bush "fast track" trade negotiation powers. Indeed, Congress did hand the president that win. Zoellick also calculated that the lucrative subsidies backed by Bush that year in the massive farm bill would help the cause of free trade, by giving the United States a chip to bargain with at the World Trade Organization`s upcoming round of talks to eliminate farm subsidies.

But, trade experts say, Zoellick`s calculations have had mixed results. "Fast track" trade powers have allowed Bush to conclude free trade agreements with Chile and Singapore, but those have yet to show results in terms of jobs. And last week, WTO trade talks in Mexico fell apart after poor countries concluded the United States and other Western nations were not serious about cutting farm subsidies.

The strategizing was "too clever by half," Bartlett, the economist, said. "It presupposed that nobody was watching what we were doing, and it presupposed that our credibility was of no importance."

© 2003 The Washington Post Company
19.09.03 09:21:15
Beitrag Nr. 7.027 ()
Patriot Monitoring Claims Dismissed
Government Has Not Tracked Bookstore or Library Activity, Ashcroft Says

By Dan Eggen
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, September 19, 2003; Page A02

The Justice Department escalated its attack on opponents of the USA Patriot Act yesterday, ridiculing criticism of the anti-terrorism law and accusing some lawmakers of ignoring classified reports that showed the government has never used its power to monitor individuals` records at bookstores and libraries.

In an unusually sharp and at times sarcastic speech to police and prosecutors in Memphis, Attorney General John D. Ashcroft labeled critics of the law "hysterics" and said "charges of abuse of power are ghosts unsupported by fact or example."

"The fact is, with just 11,000 FBI agents and over a billion visitors to America`s libraries each year, the Department of Justice has neither the staffing, the time nor the inclination to monitor the reading habits of Americans," he said. "No offense to the American Library Association, but we just don`t care. . . .

"The charges of the hysterics," Ashcroft added, "are revealed for what they are: castles in the air built on misrepresentation; supported by unfounded fear; held aloft by hysteria."

Ashcroft`s comments came after the release yesterday of a memo he wrote disclosing that the Justice Department has never used a controversial section of the Patriot Act that allows authorities in terrorism investigations to obtain records from libraries, bookstores and other businesses without notifying the subject of the probe.

That portion of the law, Section 215, has become a central focus of criticism from civil liberties groups, booksellers and librarians, and has perhaps been some lawmakers` most frequently cited example of potential government abuse. By disclosing that the provision has never been used, Ashcroft and other Justice officials hope to neutralize much of the criticism and beat back attempts to curb the law, officials said.

The Justice Department did not disclose how many times investigators have used a similar tool, national security letters, to obtain business records. Sources have said that scores of such letters have been used since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

The department also took special aim yesterday at some members of Congress who have implied that Ashcroft was spying on Americans` book-reading habits, despite the lawmakers` access to classified reports that showed that the Patriot Act provision had never been used. The Justice Department updates the intelligence committees on its use of the Patriot Act twice a year, and other members of Congress can request those reports, officials said.

"There are members of Congress who ought to be held accountable for their statements, because they had access to this information but continually charged that abuses were taking place," Justice spokesman Mark Corallo said. "They knew better. . . . We hope that the release of this information will bring some rationality back to the debate."

Corallo declined to identify the lawmakers to whom he was referring. But some of the strongest congressional criticism in recent weeks has come in the Democratic presidential race. In a debate in Baltimore last week, Sen. John Edwards (D-N.C.) warned of turning over "our constitutional rights to John Ashcroft" and decried "the notion that they are going to libraries to find out what books people are checking out, going to bookstores to find out what books are being purchased."

As a member of the Senate intelligence committee, Edwards had access to the reports on the use of the Patriot Act.

His spokeswoman, Jennifer Palmieri, said yesterday that Edwards, who voted for the Patriot Act when it was approved in October 2001, was concerned about potential abuse of some parts of the statute. She also said that Justice officials have offered confusing information about the monitoring of library use. One Justice official testified earlier this year that the FBI had sought records from about 50 libraries, but that most, if not all, of the requests were part of criminal investigations, not counterterrorism probes.

"The senator believes that the law gives the attorney general too much discretion in this area," Palmieri said.

The American Civil Liberties Union, which has filed a lawsuit challenging the government`s powers to monitor such records, said yesterday its concerns were not allayed. "What we`ve always been focused on is the scope of the law itself, and that hasn`t changed at all," ACLU attorney Ann Beeson said. "They could use it tomorrow and we would never know, and that makes it extremely dangerous."

Ashcroft`s decision to publicly disclose the previously classified information marked a turnabout for Justice, which has consistently resisted requests for the information on the basis of national security concerns. Ashcroft is in the midst of a cross-country tour in defense of the Patriot Act.

More than 150 cities and three states have passed resolutions condemning the legislation as an attack on individual liberties. The House voted in July to cut off funding for "sneak-and-peek" searches, in which investigators do not immediately notify the subject that a search has been conducted.

Ashcroft and the administration have reacted aggressively, vowing to thwart any attempts to limit the Patriot Act`s reach. And in an announcement last week, President Bush proposed expanding the powers granted by the law to investigate terrorism cases.

Ashcroft, whose speeches during most of his tour have been forceful but measured, has unleashed aggressive new rhetoric in several appearances this week.

At his speech in Memphis, for example, the attorney general said he sought to clarify who should be worried about government monitoring. "If your idea of a vacation is two weeks in a terrorist training camp" or "if you enjoy swapping recipes for chemical weapons from your `Joy of Jihad` cookbook," Ashcroft said, "you might be a target of the Patriot Act."

© 2003 The Washington Post Company
19.09.03 09:23:29
Beitrag Nr. 7.028 ()
Clark `Probably` Would Have Backed War
On First Campaign Stop, Democrat Lacks Specifics but Rallies Crowd

By Jim VandeHei
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, September 19, 2003; Page A05

HOLLYWOOD, Fla., Sept. 18 -- Retired Gen. Wesley K. Clark said today that he "probably" would have voted for the congressional resolution last fall authorizing war, as he charged out into the presidential campaign field with vague plans to fix the economy and the situation in Iraq.

Clark said his views on the war resemble those of Democratic Sens. Joseph I. Lieberman (Conn.) and John F. Kerry (Mass.), both of whom voted for the war but now question President Bush`s stewardship of the Iraqi occupation. "That having been said, I was against the war as it emerged because there was no reason to start it when we did. We could have waited," Clark said during a 75-minute session with four reporters.

En route to his first campaign stop as a candidate, a high-energy rally at a local restaurant, Clark said he has few specific policy ideas to offer voters right now and offered a few thoughts that might surprise Democrats flocking to his campaign. As recently as Sunday night, he was unsure if he should run for president, so Clark said voters need to give him time to think things through.

Clark`s statement on the war resolution put him at odds with former Vermont governor Howard Dean, whose stock has soared among Democratic activists in recent months on the strength of his antiwar position. It could make it difficult for Clark to differentiate himself from the other nine candidates in the field on policy, other than by touting his résumé as a former Army general and commander of NATO forces in Kosovo.

In the interview, Clark did not offer any new ideas or solutions for Iraq that other candidates have not already proposed.

A decorated Vietnam War veteran, Clark said that if he were in Congress, he would vote against Bush`s request for $87 billion for operations and reconstruction in Iraq unless the president details a specific strategy to eventually withdraw U.S. troops. Clark said he wants more troops in Iraq, but was unsure who best can provide them -- the United States, Iraqis or other countries. . He would consider cutting defense spending if elected, he said.

Clark, relaxed and chatty, portrayed himself as a different kind of Democrat, one without strong partisan impulses. He said he "probably" voted for Richard M. Nixon in 1972 and backed Ronald Reagan. He did not start considering himself a Democrat until 1992, when he backed fellow Arkansan Bill Clinton. "He moved me," Clark said. "I didn`t consider it party, I considered I was voting for the man."

Clark said that as recently as last week, the former president and Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) both encouraged him to run, as did many of their close friends. He said the former president initially was cool to the idea but warmed to it as the draft-Clark movement grew. Clark said he never discussed running with Sen. Clinton on the same ticket, however. Clark, who discussed the vice presidency with Dean at a recent meeting, said he would not rule out taking the No. 2 slot on a ticket.

Clark said the country "will not function well" with one party controlling the White House and Congress. He sounded a bit like former presidential candidate H. Ross Perot as he talked about focusing on "context" and not specifics and his yearning to work "with people of all sides and all parts of the political spectrum."

But Clark took some shots at Bush, too. He compared Bush to Nixon in abusing his power to bully Congress and U.S. allies. "This is an administration which has moved in a way we have not seen any administration since Nixon to abuse executive authority to scheme, manipulate, intimidate and maneuver," Clark said.

Still, it is domestic issues that often dominate presidential elections, and Clark remains largely undefined in this arena. He may be put to the test next week, when he is likely to participate in a Democratic debate in New York. Clark said he did not watch the last two debates.

He said he supports universal health coverage that includes preventive care and a "freeze" on Bush`s tax cuts that have yet to take effect for people earning $150,000 or more.

Clark said he supports a ban on assault weapons and was uncertain of precisely what the Brady gun law does -- and if any changes to it are needed. The law requires background checks and waiting periods for gun purchases.

"I support the Second Amendment. People like firearms, they feel secure with firearms, they should keep their firearms," said Clark, who has been shooting weapons since he was young.

Clark, who said he does not consider homosexuality a sin, said the military needs to reconsider the "don`t ask, don`t tell" policy for gay service members. He suggested the military should consider the "don`t ask, don`t misbehave" policy the British use. "It depends how you define misbehave. That`s what has to be looked at," he said.

While Clark`s agenda is a work in progress, he passed one test today: he showed here he could draw a big crowd and rouse them with fiery speech. Clark flew in on a friend`s private jet to shake hands here and to rally a large crowd of young and old, all shouting, "We want Clark."

While new to politics, Clark jumped up on a chair and sounded like a seasoned pro as he delivered a lively, if brief, call to arms.

"We are trapped in a jobless economy and an endless occupation" of Iraq, Clark told the crowd. "The simple truth about politics is if you are going to make a difference in the country, you have to have an organization, you have to be able to communicate the message, you have to travel, you have to have the signs, and all of that takes resources. This is America -- we operate on the greenback and I need your help."

© 2003 The Washington Post Company
19.09.03 09:25:14
Beitrag Nr. 7.029 ()
White-Rumsfeld Dispute, Round 2
Ex-Army Secretary Fires Back on Iraq

By Bradley Graham
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, September 19, 2003; Page A23

For several months after Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld fired him as secretary of the Army, Thomas E. White kept a low profile.

His departure from the Army`s top civilian job followed a series of clashes with Rumsfeld and Deputy Defense Secretary Paul D. Wolfowitz over the nature and pace of Army modernization and planning for postwar Iraq. Summoned to Rumsfeld`s office late one Friday in April and abruptly told his services were no longer desired, White, a retired Army general and former Enron Corp. executive, left without any public comment on his removal or his two years overseeing the military`s largest branch.

But in recent weeks White has started speaking out and, not surprisingly, he has some critical things to say about his old boss -- about the tight control Rumsfeld exerted over the timing of U.S. troop deployments to Iraq before the war, about the adequacy of Rumsfeld`s planning for postwar reconstruction and about Rumsfeld`s negative views of the Army`s willingness to transform itself.

The main vehicle for this reemergence has been publication of a book written by White and three political and economic specialists from CountryWatch Inc., a Houston firm headed by a longtime friend of White`s that publishes forecasts for 192 countries. Entitled "Reconstructing Eden," the 380-page book is more a loose compilation of statistics and general prescriptions than a comprehensive, tightly argued work. But it has afforded White an opportunity to register some concerns.

"It is quite clear in the immediate aftermath of hostilities that the plan for winning the peace is totally inadequate," the preface says about the Iraqi situation. "Clearly the view that the war to `liberate` Iraq would instantly produce a pro-United States citizenry ready for economic and political rebirth ignored the harsh realities on the ground."

To some extent, White is picking up where he left off with Rumsfeld. In a very public dispute several weeks before the war, White sided with Army Chief of Staff Eric K. Shinseki, warning that several hundred thousand troops would be needed to stabilize Iraq after hostilities ended. Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz rejected that estimate as grossly exaggerated, insisting stability could be quickly established and U.S. forces rapidly reduced.

Wolfowitz chided White in private afterward. Wolfowitz "was not happy that we had taken a position that was opposed to what his thinking on the subject was," White recalled in an interview. "He couldn`t imagine a situation where the size of the force necessary to secure the peace would be larger than the force necessary to fight the war. But in hindsight, which is always 20/20, that ended up to be precisely the case."

Another senior defense official with direct knowledge of the conversation between the two men said the Pentagon`s estimated postwar requirement had come from the top U.S. commander in the region, Gen. Tommy R. Franks, and Wolfowitz told White it was not appropriate for a military service chief to be publicly contradicting the commander.

White agreed and said he would talk to Shinseki, this official said. As for events since, the official noted, the numbers of U.S. and total coalition troops have declined as the level of reconstituted Iraqi forces has risen.

During the interview, White was seated in the spacious living room of his Georgetown apartment in the Washington Harbour complex overlooking the Potomac. The apartment, listed last year for $5 million, was recently sold, although White declined to disclose the price or the buyer, saying both are covered by a confidentiality clause. He plans to move back to Houston soon and expects to reenter the energy business.

Direct and articulate, with thinning gray-streaked hair and penetrating blue eyes, White, 59, came to the Army job with a mix of military and corporate experience. A West Point graduate and Vietnam War veteran, he spent 23 years in the Army, rising to brigadier general. His final year was spent as executive assistant to Gen. Colin L. Powell, then chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. In July 1990, he moved to Texas to become vice chairman of Enron Energy Services, a division of Enron Corp.

His appointment as Army secretary in 2001 reflected a broad push by Rumsfeld to place corporate executives at the top of the military services. James G. Roche, a Northrop Grumman vice president, was tapped to head the Air Force, and Gordon R. England, a General Dynamics executive vice president, took charge of the Navy. Together, the three were to form a kind of board of directors with Rumsfeld as chairman, but the analogy never took hold, White said.

"Over time, each of us became focused on our own services," he said. "The building ended up being run by Rumsfeld and his OSD [Office of Secretary of Defense] staff, which is the way it`s been run for years."

Part of that reflected Rumsfeld`s hands-on style, White added. Part also reflected the unanticipated demands of the war on terrorism after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

In his first year, White was heavily distracted by controversy over his former role as an Enron executive. Despite being grilled by Congress and questioned by Justice Department investigators, White said no legal action was taken against him -- and he expects none. He described Rumsfeld as especially supportive throughout the ordeal.

"He`s someone who`s been around town for a long time and had seen a lot of this come and go, and so his counsel was very helpful," White said.

Where White ran into serious trouble with Rumsfeld was over the Pentagon leader`s decision to cancel the Crusader, a 155mm self-propelled howitzer that the Army had been developing for years. White strongly favored the $11 billion program and resented Rumsfeld moving to kill it in the spring of 2002. Rumsfeld saw the weapon as a carryover from the Cold War and opted to pursue newer technologies that promised lighter, more mobile, precision-guided systems.

The action became emblematic of Rumsfeld`s view that the Army was not transforming itself fast enough into a more agile force.

"I think he was of the view that somehow as an Army, that either Shinseki and I personally, or that we as an Army culturally, didn`t get it -- didn`t get this business of transformation or modernization," White said. "And we were always billed or characterized as being stodgy and reluctant to change."

White considered the characterization wrong. In recent years, he said, the Army has invested heavily in such transformational programs as the Stryker wheeled armored vehicle and the Future Combat System. While acknowledging that the Army has been slow to restructure its corps and divisions into smaller, more easily deployable units, White said the demands of wars in Afghanistan and Iraq made such change difficult in the near-term.

"I suppose it`s a hit on me that I never was able to convince Rumsfeld that we were on the right track in the Army, that we knew exactly what we were doing, that we had committed ourselves to transform the force and we were getting on with it as rapidly as possible," White said. "I don`t ever think that Shinseki and I got over that hurdle."

For all the strains with Rumsfeld, White expressed admiration.

"Professionally, we had our differences," he said. "Personally, I have tremendous respect for him. He`s a man of enormous talents and energies and has really been a very strong secretary of defense."

White also praised the conduct of combat operations in Iraq. But in addition to being critical of postwar planning, he faulted Rumsfeld for the way troops were deployed in the run-up to the fight. Instead of sticking with the military`s detailed schedule -- the time-phased force deployment list -- Rumsfeld dispensed with it and insisted on micromanaging the process, White said.

"The whole deployment process was incrementalized into at times very small packages, all of which had to be decided separately, down to occasionally small units -- some about 50 people," White said. "That process caused things to get out of sync, and decisions would be delayed, and consequently, there were some reserve units that didn`t get proper lead time to mobilize. It was not done in a well-oiled fashion and it needs to be, because it caused us a lot of human suffering.

"The secretary wanted to run it, he wanted control," White added. "I think his fundamental view was that we as services are not disciplined enough in our manpower business -- we call up too many people, we ask for too much, and this sort of thing."

Replied Rumsfeld spokesman Larry DiRita: "There`s no question that the flow of forces was different for this conflict than past ones. But the secretary worked closely with the combatant commander, General Tommy Franks, and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs, General Richard Myers, in deciding the flow this time. The old system was designed for a different era."

© 2003 The Washington Post Company
19.09.03 09:29:58
Beitrag Nr. 7.030 ()
A Shiite Cleric`s Caution

By David Ignatius

Friday, September 19, 2003; Page A25

BEIRUT -- The Bush administration hoped its invasion of Iraq would produce a shock wave of democracy in the Arab world. But when you look at what America has actually wrought, the real earthquake is the new power of Iraq`s long-oppressed Shiite Muslim majority.

Shiites throughout the Arab world have been emboldened by the fact that their co-religionists control the transitional 25-person Governing Council in Iraq and are almost certain to win elections that are likely in 2004. Some analysts tout Iraq as the Shiites` biggest political victory in the 1,200 years since they split from the Sunni branch of Islam.

But a leading Lebanese Shiite religious leader, Mohammed Hussein Fadlallah, cautioned in an interview here this week that Iraqi Shiites should proceed cautiously and avoid any quick political transition that might exacerbate Sunni fears that they will be victimized in the new Iraq.

"My advice to Iraqis is to stay away from all who want to start making trouble between the Sunni and the Shia," Fadlallah said, speaking through a translator. "We call on Iraqis to solve problems in a peaceful way. Iraq is not a country of Shia alone or Sunni alone, it`s a country for everyone. They have to cooperate to solve its problems."

Rather than transferring political power quickly to the Shiite-led Governing Council, Fadlallah said he favored a more gradual transition under the auspices of the United Nations. "Iraqis have nothing against the U.N.," he said. "If the U.N. receives international support, there won`t be any problem. Iraqis will receive it in a good way."

Fadlallah`s comments are important because he is regarded as the spiritual leader of Iraq`s Dawa Party, which for several decades fought an underground resistance against Saddam Hussein`s rule. Born in Iraq himself, Fadlallah is related to the late Ayatollah Mohammed Bakir Hakim, who was assassinated in Najaf last month.

The Shiite leader`s cautious line will be welcome news to Sunni Muslims who fear the Arab world will be destabilized by a Shiite-dominated Iraq. "It`s as if the Americans are making the Sunnis pay the price for Saddam Hussein, rather than the Baathists," worries one prominent Sunni politician. He warns that any sudden move by the United States to lock in Shiite power could trigger a civil war in Iraq.

The Lebanese cleric underlined his go-slow theme by refusing to endorse calls for an immediate transition to an Iraqi provisional government or for a quick withdrawal of U.S. troops. His response to both questions was that they were complicated issues that required "careful study."

"The Governing Council doesn`t have the means to manage the state," he said. He urged careful deliberation "before choosing the Iraqis who will rule."

As for a quick pullout of American troops, he said: "We have to study this case. We can`t just give a verdict and say what to do." But he noted that if the American occupation troops can`t provide security and stabilize the country, "What`s the difference, whether America stays or goes?"

Other Arab leaders quietly worry about a sudden American withdrawal, however much they criticize America`s poor performance in postwar Iraq. "If the Americans left it would be a disaster for Iraq. Everyone knows that," says a top Lebanese official.

For all of Fadlallah`s caution about Iraq, he is sharply critical of United States actions there. "There is some kind of confusion among American officials in Iraq," he said. Rather than having a clear structure for rebuilding the country, "the Americans are drafting their plan through experimentation."

The trial-and-error nature of the occupation had added to Iraqi anxieties, Fadlallah argued. Convinced that Americans couldn`t provide security, the Iraqis began arming themselves -- adding to the lawlessness of recent months.

The Americans made a devastating blunder when they dismantled the Iraqi state bureaucracy in the name of de-Baathification, Fadlallah said. America couldn`t take over the functions of the state, and neither could the former exile leaders who run the Governing Council.

Fadlallah was especially critical of the CIA, arguing that it should have better information about terrorist attacks such as the one that killed Ayatollah Hakim. "I don`t know what is the role of American intelligence spread throughout the world if it fails to discover the Iraqi quagmire," he said.

The Shiite leader`s comments are the latest sign of a remarkable transformation. Twenty years ago, he was seen as a terrorist mullah because he allegedly issued a fatwa sanctioning the 1983 truck bombings that destroyed the U.S. Embassy and Marine barracks here. He survived a subsequent assassination attempt by Lebanese intelligence officers, apparently undertaken with the knowledge of William Casey, the CIA director at the time..

Now Fadlallah is proffering moderate political advice and critiquing the CIA`s performance. U.S. officials should hope that Iraqis pay attention to what he says.

© 2003 The Washington Post Company
19.09.03 09:31:11
Beitrag Nr. 7.031 ()
Judicial Payback

By E. J. Dionne Jr.

Friday, September 19, 2003; Page A25

Revenge for an act of judicial activism is a dish best served by a court that coldly -- you might even say conservatively -- follows precedent. Republicans are enraged by the decision of a three-judge panel on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit that postpones California`s recall election. But how can they dislike this decision? The judges defended their reasoning by citing the infamous Bush v. Gore ruling -- which Republicans praised to the heavens -- not once, not twice, but 13 times.

Which makes it a wonder to hear conservatives sputtering about "liberal judicial activism" and the sanctity of "the people`s will." Activism and discernment of the people`s will were not issues that troubled them when five justices on the U.S. Supreme Court abruptly shut down Florida`s recount in December 2000.

The judges in the California case are not stopping anything. They simply postponed the recall for a few months. Why? Because some voters will vote on flawed punch-card systems -- remember them? -- and run a greater risk of losing their votes than citizens using better equipment. As the court wrote, "punch-card balloting machines can produce an unfortunate number of ballots which are not punched in a clean complete way by the voter." The Constitution, the court insisted, requires "some assurance that the rudimentary requirements of equal treatment and fundamental fairness are satisfied."

Isn`t that just liberal judicial activism? Only if Justices Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas and the rest of the Bush Five are liberal judicial activists. The two quotations you just read come straight from Bush v. Gore. The 9th Circuit`s supposedly activist three were just quoting their judicial betters.

Ah, but aren`t those 9th Circuit liberals preventing a speedy resolution of the recall? Perhaps, but there are more important issues than speed: "The press of time does not diminish the constitutional concern. A desire for speed is not a general excuse for ignoring equal protection guarantees." Yes, that is also a quotation from Bush v. Gore.

There is one difference between the 9th Circuit judges and the Supreme Court majority in the Bush case. The 9th Circuit judges are being far less activist.

Recall that the Supreme Court majority first stopped recounts already in progress while it considered the Bush case. The recounts, Scalia wrote, might do "irreparable harm" by "casting a cloud on what he" -- that would be George W. Bush -- "claims to be the legitimacy of his election." Then, when the Bush Five declared that Florida`s recounting methods violated equal protection guarantees, they didn`t give Florida a chance to fix the problem. They just ended the counting and made Bush president.

This did not sit well even with some of Bush`s staunchly conservative supporters. Michael W. McConnell -- then a law professor, who was later made a circuit court judge by Bush -- said the decision to halt the recount was "one for the state to make." Writing in the Wall Street Journal Dec. 14, 2000, McConnell criticized the Supreme`s Court`s twofer -- "approving a manual recount under proper standards, but forbidding the state to conduct a recount because of time constraints." Doing so, he wrote, meant that Bush would take office "under conditions of continued uncertainty."

Prophetically, McConnell declared: "Many of the vice president`s supporters will continue to believe -- probably to their graves -- that their man would have won if only they had been given more time."

The 9th Circuit Three, on the other hand, did not stop the recall -- let alone rule California Gov. Gray Davis the winner and leave it at that. They put the election off a few months until the state could make sure that all voters have a chance to cast ballots on roughly comparable equipment.

Critics of the 9th Circuit panel are trying to argue that the Supreme Court in Bush v. Gore was applying its equal protection argument only to recounts, not to the method through which votes were cast. But this argument is simply an admission that the Supreme Court majority didn`t really care about equal protection of voters. It was looking for a narrow, one-time fix that would make George Bush president. If the Supreme Court ever rejects the use of its precedents by the 9th Circuit, it will make this abundantly clear.

You can bet the Bush Five are praying that this case never hits their doorstep. But even if the three 9th Circuit judges are overturned, they have already made their point.

© 2003 The Washington Post Company
19.09.03 09:34:00
Beitrag Nr. 7.032 ()
19.09.03 09:37:13
Beitrag Nr. 7.033 ()

The Cartoon Graveyard
Just the Cartoons Without the Commentary
Heute gibt es 83 mal Sekundärtugenden als Cartoons:
19.09.03 09:56:38
Dieser Beitrag wurde vom System automatisch gesperrt. Bei Fragen wenden Sie sich bitte an
19.09.03 11:34:55
Beitrag Nr. 7.035 ()

(IWR Satire) -- Welcome to Vice President Dick Cheney`s Believe It or Not website! This is a fun place where facts are unfettered by the constraints of reality or accountability.
Yes friends, this is where you can get the amazing secret truths straight from the high priest of implausible deniability himself -- Swami Dick Cheney.

Here are Swami Dick`s official Believe It or Not factoids:

Saddam Hussein was the pilot of the first plane that crashed into the WTC, but somehow he managed to parachute out at the last moment and escape.

Believe It or Not!

We know Saddam resumed his efforts to acquire nuclear weapons, based on reliable intelligence provided by Baghdad Bob, and that the African "yellow cake" story is, in fact, true.

Believe It or Not!

There is no doubt that Saddam Hussein has weapons of mass destruction. We also know that he reconstituted these programs since the Gulf War.

Believe It or Not!

Saddam Hussein has reconstituted nuclear weapons with components that he purchased on eBay from Bill Clinton.

Believe It or Not!

Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden met secretly in 1993 at a Trivial Pursuit marathon in Sudan.

Believe It or Not!

Hijacker Mohamed Atta secretly met Iraqi agents Bill Clinton and Tarik Aziz in Prague at a Hooter`s bar during a visit in April 2001.

Believe It or Not!

It is just a coincidence that Halliburton is getting all of the major contracts in Iraq. It has nothing to do with the fact that Halliburton was my former employer.

Believe It or Not!

I have nothing to hide regarding my energy task force meetings with oil industry lobbyists, which included representatives from Kenny Boy`s Enron corporation.

Believe It or Not!

There is a Santa Claus, Easter Bunny and Tooth Fairy.

Believe It or Not!…
19.09.03 11:39:15
Beitrag Nr. 7.036 ()
September 18, 2003

Wesley Clark for President?
Another Con Job from the Neo-Cons

Let it never be said the neo-conservatives are not persistent. That`s why they must be rounded up by the FBI and charged with violating the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) statutes. But let`s save that issue for another time.

The latest trick of the neo-cons is running retired General Wesley Clark for President as a Democrat. But not just any Democrat -- a "New Democrat." The same bunch that are pushing Joe Lieberman`s candidacy are obviously hedging on their bets and want to have Clark in the race as a potential vice presidential candidate (to ensure their continued influence in a future Democratic administration of Howard Dean, John Kerry, or Dick Gephardt) or as a "go-to" candidate in the event that Lieberman stumbles badly in the first few Democratic primaries next year.

The "New Democrats" (neo-cons) are as much masters at the perception management (lying) game as their GOP counterparts (Dick Cheney, Paul Wolfowitz, and Donald Rumsfeld). Clark`s presidential candidacy announcement in Little Rock is one warning sign. This city is a sort of "Mecca" for the neo-con Democratic Leadership Council (DLC) and its main nurturers, Al From and Bruce Reed. It was from Little Rock where the DLC propelled a little known governor named Bill Clinton into the White House. And although Clinton did not turn out exactly as conservative as the DLC hoped for, his support for globalization and selected use of U.S. military power abroad were neo-con keystone successes.

Now enter "Arkansan" Wesley Clark. Like Hillary Clinton, Clark is a Chicago transplant to Little Rock. And he is about as power driven as the former First Lady. According to Pentagon insiders, when Clark was Commander of the US Southern Command in Panama from June 1996 to July 1997, he was fond of "ordering" Latin American military commanders and defense ministers to appear before him. Some of the Latin American officials, particularly those from Brazil, Argentina, and Chile, refused to be bullied by Clark, whose personality is said to be acerbic. From his pro-consul position in Panama, Clark supported with US military advisers and American mercenaries, continued warfare against anti-oligarchic movements in Colombia, Peru, Guatemala, Mexico, and Bolivia.

Fast forward to the Kosovo wars when Clark was NATO commander. Not only did Clark lord over the first unprovoked aerial bombardment of a major European city (Belgrade) since Adolf Hitler`s Luftwaffe pounded virtually defenseless European cities, but he almost got into a shooting war with Russian peacekeeping troops in Kosovo. It was only the intervention of the British government, Defense Secretary William Cohen, and Joint Chiefs Chairman General Hugh Shelton that prevented Clark from starting World War III. When Clark ordered British Lt. Gen. Michael Jackson to forcibly block Kosovo`s Pristina Airport to prevent Russian planes from landing, the Briton replied, "Sir, Ia*TMm not starting World War III for you.a** Jackson was backed up all the way to Number 10 Downing Street. Clark was forced to back down. Eventually, Cohen fired Clark as NATO commander three months before his term was to expire.

Before becoming NATO Commander, Clark was the Director for Strategic Plans and Policy within the Joint Chiefs of Staff. From this vantage point, Clark was well aware of and likely supported the arming of the Bosnian government by accepting contributions from various deep-pocketed Muslim countries, including Saudi Arabia, Iran, Malaysia, Brunei, Jordan, and Egypt. Via something called the Bosnia Defense Fund, these countries deposited millions of dollars into U.S. coffers to buy weapons for the Bosnians and train them in their use through the use of private military contractors like Military Professional Resources, Inc. (MPRI). And when some of the weapons and cash for the Bosnians became "unaccounted for," where did some of the guns and cash wind up? In the hands of Al Qaeda and Iranian Pasdaran (Revolutionary Guard) units in Bosnia.

More interestingly is how General Clark`s Bosnia strategy ultimately goes full circle. According to Washington K Street sources, the law firm that established the Bosnia Defense Fund was none other than Feith and Zell, the firm of current Pentagon official and leading neo-con Douglas Feith. Feith`s operation at Feith and Zell was assisted by his one-time boss and current member of Rumsfeld`s Defense Policy Board, Richard Perle. Both Feith and Perle advised the Bosnian delegation during the 1995 Dayton Peace talks. The chief U.S. military negotiator in Dayton was Wesley Clark.

A long time ago, the French, tired of war, turned to a short general named Napoleon to lead them to peace and prosperity. Instead, Napoleon seized imperial power and ensured the French would have more war. After four years of Bush, the neo-con Fifth Column in the Democratic Party is trying to convince us that Clark is the "anti-war" candidate. Tell that to the people of Serbia, Kosovo, and Montenegro. Tell that to the coca farmer in Bolivia or Colombia who is trying to feed his family. Let`s not fall for the deception and tricks of the neo-cons again. If you are tired of Bush, Cheney, and the neo-cons and their phony wars, Clark is certainly not the answer. He has been, and remains part of, the great deception of the American people.

Wayne Madsen is a Washington, DC-based investigative journalist and columnist. He wrote the introduction to Forbidden Truth. He is the co-author, with John Stanton, of the forthcoming book, "America`s Nightmare: The Presidency of George Bush II."

Madsen can be reached at:
19.09.03 13:57:16
Beitrag Nr. 7.037 ()…

Taliban Rebels Hit Hard in Afghanistan, U.S. Says
Recent fighting has killed at least 11 militia members -- and four Americans.
From Associated Press

September 19, 2003

KABUL, Afghanistan — U.S. warplanes supporting Afghan ground forces pummeled Taliban positions in southern Afghanistan, killing at least 11 rebels in three days of fighting, military officials said Thursday.

The fighting in the mountains of Kandahar and Zabol provinces began at the end of August, and more than 100 suspected Taliban have been killed, according to U.S. and Afghan officials. Four American soldiers have died in recent fighting in Afghanistan.

The battles in Zabol and Kandahar are part of a U.S.-Afghan operation dubbed Mountain Viper.

"Operation Mountain Viper continues to destroy the Taliban`s ability to operate in the southern region of Afghanistan," the U.S. military said from Bagram air base, north of the capital, Kabul.

The military says it is inflicting heavy casualties on the rebels — but the militia`s ability to mount such stiff resistance for a sustained period has led to fears that the security situation is worsening two years after U.S.-led forces ousted the Taliban regime.

The insurgents have been increasingly bold in their threats to Afghans who are seen as cooperating with the coalition. Last week, four Afghans working for a Danish charity were tied up and shot to death alongside a road. They had been warned several times to stop working with foreigners, and the Taliban is suspected in the deaths.

The U.S. Embassy in Kabul has warned Americans that they should consider themselves "targets of opportunity" for Taliban rebels, especially when traveling in the provinces of Kandahar and Oruzgan. Embassy official Sandy Ingram said the warning, issued Wednesday, was "based on specific intelligence."

Copyright 2003 Los Angeles Times
19.09.03 13:59:01
Beitrag Nr. 7.038 ()…

Clark Comes Out Blazing at Bush`s `Arrogance` on Iraq
The former general opens his Democratic presidential campaign in Florida. He criticizes the president`s foreign policy as `dogmatic.`
By Johanna Neuman
Times Staff Writer

September 19, 2003

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — Former Gen. Wesley Clark, in his first full day as a candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination, blasted President Bush for a "dogmatic" foreign policy and for putting "strong-arm tactics" on Congress to rush approval for the war in Iraq.

Saying the Bush White House used its executive authority "in ways that cut off debate," Clark said he would likely have voted to authorize the war because "the simple truth is that when the president of the United States lays the power of office" on the line, "the balance of judgment probably goes to the president."

"I was against the war," Clark said. "In retrospect, we should never have gone in there. We could have waited. We could have brought the allies in."

Asked whether he would support the president`s $87-billion request for operations in Afghanistan and Iraq, Clark said he would first want to see an accounting of the administration`s projected costs and its exit strategy.

He faulted the administration for "arrogance" in slighting Congress and many of the nation`s traditional allies. But he added, "Now that we`re there, I want the mission to succeed."

In a 75-minute interview en route from his home in Little Rock, Ark., to his first campaign stop in Florida, Clark told reporters he made the decision to run Monday after conferring with his wife, Gertrude. He said a respected friend from the West Coast helped seal the decision, calling to tell him, "You must run."

Clark said he had a few conversations with former President Clinton and Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.), saying they were "encouraging." While some political activists have been promoting a Hillary Clinton and Clark ticket, the retired general said, "The right person to be the commander in chief is the right person to be commander in chief." Asked if he thought the Clintons would endorse him, Clark said he had not thought about it.

Clark, whose first stop was a kosher-style delicatessen in Hollywood, Fla., said he hopes to attend next week`s Democratic debate in New York. He confessed that he has watched none of the Democratic debates nor read a newspaper this week.

At the Deli-Den Restaurant, Clark navigated through a crowd of well-wishers and tables topped with sauerkraut and pickles. Some people bounded through the aisles to shake his hand, pledge their volunteer help and urge him to oust Bush. Several in the audience handed checks to campaign staffers.

Standing on a chair and using a microphone, Clark assailed Bush`s economic record, asking why the country has lost 2.7 million jobs, to which the crowd responded, "Bush!"

Clark said he had some other tough questions for Bush:

"Why are we engaged in Iraq?" Clark asked. "Mr. President, tell us the truth. Was it because Saddam Hussein was assisting the hijackers? Was it because Saddam Hussein had a nuclear weapon?"

Someone in the audience yelled, "Oil!"

Clark said: "We don`t know. And that`s the truth. We have to ask that question."

To which another person in the crowd shouted, "Halliburton is why!"

Mark Fabiani, a former aide to Al Gore`s 2000 campaign and Clark`s communications advisor, said the Clark team selected Florida for the candidate`s first appearance for several reasons. "We wanted to firmly plant the flag in the South," said Fabiani, and "in light of what happened in 2000 in Florida, the general wanted to send a message that he will fight for every vote and the right of every person to have their vote counted."

The day also brought a few campaign lessons.

The first was that Mother Nature is often more powerful than even Democratic voting blocs. Plans to make a speech at the Citadel in South Carolina, established as a military college in 1842, were scotched when campaign staffers hesitated to fly Clark so close to the eye of Hurricane Isabel.

Another lesson was that campaigns launched on the backs of draft movements can have a rough transition. With two teams of volunteers vying for power — the team and the Clark2004 contingent — one group often was unaware of the efforts of the other.

Clark waved off questions about strategy and specifics of his campaign positions. "We pulled together a staff after the decision," he said. "It`s early."

Still, some things were going well. A new Web site — — was up and running as soon as Clark announced his candidacy Wednesday.

It highlighted many of the themes the campaign hopes to develop, including links for female supporters, whose "Women for Wes" signs were evident in the crowd at Wednesday`s announcement in Little Rock.

On a two-hour flight from Little Rock, Clark talked to four reporters for more than an hour, answering questions about domestic issues:

• Gays in the military. He thinks the Pentagon should reevaluate its "don`t ask, don`t tell" policy because it is "not working well." He said the British army`s policy, "don`t ask, don`t misbehave," has been more effective because "heterosexual sexual fraternization" can be just as disruptive to morale.

• Gun control. He supports a waiting period for gun purchases and sees no reason for assault weapons outside of the military, but he grew up in a house full of guns and believes in the 2nd Amendment.

• The Bush tax cuts. Clark favors gearing tax relief to the middle class and the poor. He said Bush is trying to have it all, "guns, butter and a tax cut."

• Health care. Praising the military`s system of preventive maintenance, he advocated universal coverage. "I don`t see why we can`t have health insurance for everyone," he said.

On a more personal note, Clark answered questions about his travel habits. He uses a Blackberry for e-mail messages and uses two cellphones; he packs with plastic wrap around each article of clothing to prevent wrinkles.

And, as a newsmagazine photographer captured the moment, he lobbed his own luggage into the back of his traveling van.

Copyright 2003 Los Angeles Times
19.09.03 14:01:56
Beitrag Nr. 7.039 ()…

So Which Story Is It?

September 19, 2003

President Bush`s declaration Wednesday that Saddam Hussein had Al Qaeda ties but that there was "no evidence" he was linked to 9/11 had an Alice-in-Wonderland quality. Only a few days earlier, Vice President Dick Cheney on national television had expanded the administration`s claims, hinting darkly that Hussein`s security forces might have been involved in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing and that Iraq was at "the heart of the base" of the terrorist threat that culminated in Sept. 11.

Who is the public supposed to believe, Bush or Cheney? In delivering a different message depending on what day of the week it is, the administration is shredding whatever remains of its credibility on Iraq.

On Thursday, Hans Blix, the former United Nations weapons inspector who has patiently watched as the United States and Britain fruitlessly search for weapons they said Blix was too incompetent to discover, finally decried "the culture of spin, the culture of hyping." Both Blix and his successor at the U.N., Demetrius Perricos, say Hussein probably destroyed any weapons of mass destruction a decade ago.

The administration`s flip-flops aren`t trivial, but rather are symptomatic of wider disarray. At a moment when Secretary of State Colin L. Powell is trying to win the cooperation of wary allies for a U.N. resolution that will internationalize the occupation and bring in foreign troops and money, Cheney went out of his way to antagonize Europeans. Cheney made an impassioned case Wednesday at the Air Force Assn.`s annual convention for an America goes-it-alone policy — preemptive strikes abroad whenever and wherever Bush sees fit. The unspoken premise is that the U.S. doesn`t need the U.N. or other countries to help rebuild invaded countries.

With Iraq in danger of meltdown, however, it`s clear that Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and the Pentagon have failed to properly plan for the postwar period. Bush not only needs Europe on board, he also must listen to Republican lawmakers, led by Sen. Richard G. Lugar (R-Ind.) and Sen. Charles Hagel (R-Neb.), who are urging the White House to shift control of Iraq`s reconstruction from the Pentagon to the State Department.

In April, Congress went on record stating that it wanted Powell, not Rumsfeld, to oversee reconstruction. It backed down after lobbying by Cheney but shouldn`t make the same mistake again. It seems clear that civilian employees would be less apt to anger Iraqis. Moreover, U.S. aid workers have far more experience in nation-building than the military. Instead of giving the administration carte blanche with the additional $87 billion it has requested for Iraq, Congress should insist that the State Department take the lead.

Better yet, Bush could make clear his full and total support of the internationalization of the reconstruction in Iraq when he addresses the U.N. on Tuesday. It`s the first step toward restoring the administration`s credibility.

Copyright 2003 Los Angeles Times
19.09.03 14:08:16
Beitrag Nr. 7.040 ()…

For the World of Letters, It`s a Horror
Giving a National Book Foundation award to Stephen King is only the latest chapter in the dumbing down of our culture.
By Harold Bloom
Harold Bloom is a professor at Yale, a literary critic and author of "The Western Canon," (Riverhead Books, 1995).

September 19, 2003

The decision to give the National Book Foundation`s annual award for "distinguished contribution" to Stephen King is extraordinary, another low in the shocking process of dumbing down our cultural life. I`ve described King in the past as a writer of penny dreadfuls, but perhaps even that is too kind. He shares nothing with Edgar Allan Poe. What he is is an immensely inadequate writer, on a sentence-by-sentence, paragraph-by-paragraph, book-by-book basis.

The publishing industry has stooped terribly low to bestow on King a lifetime award that has previously gone to the novelists Saul Bellow and Philip Roth and to playwright Arthur Miller. By awarding it to King, they recognize nothing but the commercial value of his books, which sell in the millions but do little more for humanity than keep the publishing world afloat. If this is going to be the criterion in the future, then perhaps next year the committee should give its award for distinguished contribution to Danielle Steel, and surely the Nobel Prize for literature should go to J.K. Rowling.

What`s happening is part of a phenomenon I wrote about a couple of years ago when I was asked to comment on Rowling. I went to the Yale bookstore and bought and read a copy of "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer`s Stone." I suffered a great deal in the process. The writing was dreadful; the book was terrible. As I read, I noticed that every time a character went for a walk, the author wrote instead that the character "stretched his legs." I began marking on the back of an envelope every time that phrase was repeated. I stopped only after I had marked the envelope several dozen times. I was incredulous. Rowling`s mind is so governed by clichés and dead metaphors that she has no other style of writing.

But when I wrote that in a newspaper, I was denounced. I was told that children would now only read J.K. Rowling, and I was asked whether that wasn`t, after all, better than reading nothing at all? If Rowling was what it took to make them pick up a book, wasn`t that a good thing?

It is not. "Harry Potter" will not lead our children on to Kipling`s "Just So Stories" or his "Jungle Book." It will not lead them to Thurber`s "Thirteen Clocks" or Kenneth Grahame`s "Wind in the Willows" or Lewis Carroll`s "Alice."

Later I read a lavish, loving review of Harry Potter by the same Stephen King. He wrote something to the effect of, "If these kids are reading Harry Potter at 11 or 12, then when they get older they will go on to read Stephen King." And he was quite right. He was not being ironic. When you read "Harry Potter" you are, in fact, trained to read Stephen King.

Our society and our literature and our culture are being dumbed down, and the causes are very complex. I`m 73 years old. In a lifetime of teaching English, I`ve seen the study of literature debased. There`s very little authentic study of the humanities remaining. My research assistant came to me two years ago saying she`d been in a seminar in which the teacher spent two hours saying that Walt Whitman was a racist. This isn`t even good nonsense. It`s insufferable.

I began as a scholar of the romantic poets. In the 1950s and early 1960s, it was understood that the great English romantic poets were Percy Bysshe Shelley, William Wordsworth, Lord Byron, John Keats, William Blake, Samuel Taylor Coleridge. But today they are Felicia Hemans, Charlotte Smith, Mary Tighe, Laetitia Landon and others who just can`t write. A fourth-rate playwright like Aphra Behn is being taught instead of Shakespeare in many curricula across the country.

Recently, I spoke at the funeral of my old friend Thomas M. Green of Yale, perhaps the most distinguished scholar of Renaissance literature of his generation. I said, "I fear that something of great value has ended forever."

Today, there are four living American novelists I know of who are still at work and who deserve our praise. Thomas Pynchon is still writing. My friend Philip Roth, who will now share this "distinguished contribution" award with Stephen King, is a great comedian and would no doubt find something funny to say about it. There`s Cormac McCarthy, whose novel "Blood Meridian" is worthy of Herman Melville`s "Moby-Dick," and Don DeLillo, whose "Underworld" is a great book.

Instead, this year`s award goes to King. It`s a terrible mistake.

Copyright 2003 Los Angeles Times
19.09.03 14:10:57
Beitrag Nr. 7.041 ()

Nach einer Skizze von @SEP
19.09.03 14:12:45
Beitrag Nr. 7.042 ()
19.09.03 14:19:59
Beitrag Nr. 7.043 ()

Our Place in the World: Iraqis` mistrust is nothing new
Friday, September 19, 2003


As an AAA person -- Armenian by ethnic heritage, Arabic by education and American by choice -- I am sad for the Iraqi devastation and sad for the United States` casualties. I am ashamed of the Iraqi ingratitude and ashamed of our blatant media. And I am proud of the U.S. liberation of Iraq and have hope for the Iraqi people. The United States should ask for help from the world civilizations to reconstruct Iraq but not from the United Nations.

Iraqis think historically and react emotionally. Without going too far into history, Iraqis have mistrusted the West since World War I, and they have hated the United Nations since the creation of Israel.

During WWI, T.E. Lawrence (better known as Lawrence of Arabia) convinced the peoples of the Fertile Crescent (the lands of current Iraq, Syria and Jordan) to revolt against their Ottoman masters in return for independence and self-determination. The Arabs proved to be a formidable guerrilla force for the Western Allies in defeating the Ottoman Empire, which had ruled all across the Middle East for more than 400 years. For such support, the Arabs were promised the independence to pave their own destiny. The Iraqis have been waiting to do that since 1918.

The promise of independence was a lie, of course. The Iraqis have never forgotten that and will never forget. And Lawrence, perhaps, never forgave himself for being duped by the politicians of the West.

In dividing the spoils of victory in 1921, Earl Balfour, British statesman and a former prime minister, drew the current boundaries of the countries, and instead of independence, Iraq, Jordan (then called Transjordan) and Palestine became a British mandate while Syria and Lebanon became a French mandate. There would be no sight of independence until the West decided it would be politically feasible -- a futile hope for the Arabs.

To make things worse, when the Jews persistently pushed for their independence as promised (also a lie) Britain gave up fighting the revolt in Palestine and asked the United Nations to settle the dispute. That`s when the United Nations made its first trademark in the Middle East -- the trademark of dividing countries into a north and a south or an east and a west. Thus, the British mandated Palestine be divided into Jewish and Palestinian states.

With the creation of Israel in the late 1940s, the United Nations defined itself as a "hated" entity in the Arab world. The death of Sergio Vieira de Mello, the chief U.N. official in Iraq, wasn`t the first attack on the United Nations. Count Bernadotte, the Swedish U.N. envoy, was assassinated while negotiating between the Palestinians and the Israelis in 1948. I was in Baghdad then. While officially the pro-West government mourned his death, we heard that the Iraqis celebrated it in their homes.

Iraqi resentment of the United States is a carryover of suspicions of the failed promises throughout the Middle East. For them what the West says is not what the West does.

It would not be wise to call in U.N. forces for Iraq: They will not succeed in securing peace or reconstructing the devastation. In enforcing the trademark solution for countries in conflict, the United Nations may divide Iraq into a North Sunni and a South Shi`a at the 33-degree parallel -- exactly midstream the Tigris River in Baghdad, where I learned how to swim. If not razed by Saddam or bombed by the United States, would my childhood home fall within the U.N.-drawn lines of a no-man`s-land and become the nest for future conflicts?

The United States succeeded in toppling Saddam`s brutal regime but now it needs international assistance in keeping the peace and reconstructing Iraq. In my time, Iraqis showed great admiration toward Germans and Scandinavians. More currently, Iraq`s commerce has thrived with those in South Korea and Japan. Manpower from these countries could rebuild Iraq and their forces could secure peace for its people. The cost for these endeavors should be the burden of the global community, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, the overseer.

The pursuit of democracy cannot be accomplished solely by the likes of my grandson, who is serving with the Marines. The price of democracy is the burden for all civilizations.


Aida Kouyoumjian lives on Mercer Island. Submissions for Our Place in the World, of up to 800 words, can be e-mailed to; faxed to 206-448-8184 or mailed to the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, P.O. Box 1909, Seattle, WA 98111-1909.

© 1998-2003 Seattle Post-Intelligencer
19.09.03 14:30:01
Beitrag Nr. 7.044 ()
Jesus Doesn`t Wear Prada
The New Testament gets a "sassy" teen fashion-mag makeover. And you thought Britney was scary
By Mark Morford, SF Gate Columnist
Friday, September 19, 2003
©2003 SF Gate


These are the things to imperil young girls.

These are the things to corrupt young gullible minds and short-circuit self-expression and demean the desperately needed impulse toward spontaneous self-awareness and individuality and happy guiltless vaginal investigations.

These are the things to make Mary-Kate and Ashley`s alarming and utterly demonic stranglehold on the world of vacuous saccharine multimillion-dollar teendom seem like a boring day at the mall, with lots of makeup and tube tops and Hot Dog on a Stick.

Here`s the gimmick: Take a weird, modern conservative revisionist New Testament and wrap it in faux-hip fashion-mag duds and hawk it to unsuspecting young maidens who otherwise wouldn`t get within ten low-rise jean lengths of the gray-bearded dust-choked finger-wagging dogma of King James and all his hoary misogynistic machismo. Clever indeed.

It`s called "Revolve: The Complete New Testament" and it`s apparently racing up the sales charts -- whatever that means -- as it sucks up all the accoutrements of a teen fashion rag and rams them through the cute Christian grinder of humorlessness and sexual rigidity and homophobia, and regurgitates them as kicky dumbed-down slightly numb virginal tidbits of advice and admonition and, yes, Biblical storytelling.

Because apparently girls don`t already have enough hollow dogma out there telling them what to do. Apparently they don`t already face a large enough mountain of misinfo and scorn and sexual mixed messages, and not a single one of them telling them how to really tune into themselves, listen to their own unique voices, find their own sex and their own power and their own divine potency.

Nope. Instead they get this, a sweetly uptight, revisionist Bible cross-bred with a bad fashion magazine, full of Top-10 lists and quizzes and Q&As, telling them to "pray for a person of influence" every day and check the "godly" quotient of the boys they date, and that Jesus doesn`t really like it when they wear, you know, thongs and sexy bras and low-slung jeans. Yep, that should clear things right up.

"A `Revolve` girl makes a point of dressing modestly. She might wonder to herself, Would God find this too revealing or too suggestive?" That`s a direct quote from the ultra-prim Laurie Whaley, one of "Revolve`s" editors over at Thomas "Bibles `R Us" Nelson publishing house, whose picture graces a recent interview in the Mew York Times.

Wonder not, my children, at the status of Laurie`s chastity. Wonder not at what kind of pristine white underwear she might be wearing. Wonder not at her desperate need for a Hitachi Magic Wand and a bottle of Anejo Silver and a long, hot summer night, all alone. Oh, Laurie. Come back to us.

What, not scary enough? Fine. How about this: "Revolve" takes a decidedly conservative view of the Bible, condemns homosexuality, encourages virginity until marriage, and informs girls that excessive makeup and jewelry and revealing clothes are to be avoided and chastity is to be rewarded because, well, Jesus really loves baggy sweaters and granny underwear.

More? You got it. It also tells them to quietly shut up and always listen to your parents and don`t take the initiative by actually calling a boy on the phone, ever. Did Mary Magdalene ever call Jesus? Of course she didn`t. And "Revolve" tells these befuddled girls, in all seriousness, that it`s best to let the males lead the relationship.

There now. All better. Screw the female cause. Screw individuality and divine feminine power. Sure Jesus loves you, Jenny, but he loves you more if you wear long shapeless wool skirts and minimal mascara and not think too darn much, K?

And yet, weird little makeup tips abound in the book, outright groaners for all but the most painfully gullible Bible-belted girls. "You need a good, balanced foundation for the rest of your makeup," says one "tip." "Kinda like how Jesus is the strong foundation in our lives."

Yes that`s right. Jesus is the Chapstick for the dry lips of your sinning self. Jesus is the holy Clearasil for your Satanic shin zits. Jesus is that amazing clenched feeling you get when you lie back and aim the shower massager just right and... oh, never mind.

"Make sure that Jesus would be pleased with what you wear. You don`t have to look frumpy, just make sure you look like a child of God." This is the advice. This is what passes for serious religious assistance. Has it really come to this? Are girls supposed to believe God really cares what they wear, and is watching their every purchase at the Esprit outlet like some supreme pervert stalker? "Revolve" says, hell yes!

"The fire of God`s love burns out the sin the same way the hot steam routs the dirt out of your pores. This kind of relationship with God will do more to improve your looks than any amount of facials," reads the part on "Spiritual Facials." Isn`t that clever? Doesn`t it just make your colon clench right up in divine bliss? Sure it does.

Maybe you`d be tempted to think this is progress. Maybe you`d like to think it`s somehow a good thing that Christianity and certain publishers of mutant bibles are trying to reach new audiences, to break down barriers and make themselves "hip" while striving to hook a new generation into Christianity`s lair or gentle oppressive patriarchal fun.

Or maybe you think "Revolve" is really chock full of nice, safe, wholesome messages teen girls can really use in a world of teeming, roiling sexual anxiety and confusion and way, way too much Britney and MTV and premarital sex and poor condom awareness.

You would be wrong. "Revolve" is actually very much like a mind-control experiment, very much like some sort of sinister trick wherein they, like Christian rock bands, surreptitiously infiltrate a world the girls actually care about and use the teen`s own anxieties and angst against them to instill a certain, narrow Christian agenda, induce a fluffy sense of guilt and shame, all while imparting a bleached, sanitized morality that includes not a whit of funk or style or messy icky sex or intuition or sly winking cosmic knowledge. Almost makes "Glamour" look like "The Celestine Prophecy," no?

"Revolve" is basically a sheep in wolf`s clothing, a prim training manual for future well-Valiumed housewives who let their husbands rule the roost and don`t strive too hard for anything and don`t think overly much or who have long given up notions of exploring the diversity of the world, or divinity, or sexuality, or much of anything, really. And yes, it`s a bestseller.

"Revolve" devolves the teen cause. Not a word about how individuality is cool and self-exploration is way bitchin` and that they themselves are divine, are all-powerful, and that sex is a gorgeous powerful wondrous sticky joy to be respected and enjoyed and explored and consented upon and well learned. Heaven forefend. That way debauchery and hellfire lies.

Are these really the only choices? Is it really either vapid anorexic fashion mags or an uptight prudish revisionist New Testament designed to reduce the female teen spirit to shrill hollow pious guilt-addled automaton Formica?

Where, pray where, can a young teen turn for true unadulterated perspective and inspiration? For insight and anxiety relief and a big heaping dose of the gloriously convoluted, slithery, well-accessoried mess that is modern life? Hmm. Maybe that`s why God invented books.


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Mark Morford`s Notes & Errata column appears every Wednesday and Friday on SF Gate, unless it appears on Tuesdays and Thursdays, which it never does. He also writes the Morning Fix, a deeply skewed thrice-weekly e-mail column and newsletter. Subscribe
19.09.03 14:46:57
Beitrag Nr. 7.045 ()
19.09.03 15:01:33
Beitrag Nr. 7.046 ()
USA vs. Demokratie "Arab Style"

Thomas Pany 19.09.2003
In den arabischen und muslimischen Ländern hat sich eine neue öffentliche Sphäre formiert; die US-Administration hat ihre Probleme damit

Ein Amerikaner tritt in einer politischen Talkshow eines arabischen Fernsehsenders auf. Es geht um die Frage, ob Amerika eine imperialistische Macht sei. Am Ende beantworten 96 % Prozent der Zuschauer die Frage mit "ja". Obwohl man eine Milliarde Dollar pro Jahr dafür ausgebe, das Image der Vereinigten Staaten in der Welt aufzupolieren, zeigten Umfragen, dass der Antiamerikanismus in den muslimischen und arabischen Ländern stetig zunehme, resümiert ein Kongreßbericht, der letzte Woche veröffentlicht wurde.

Im Juni diesen Jahres erschien die Länder übergreifende Pew Global Attitudes-Umfrage, wonach die USA gegenüber den hohen Sympathie-Werten nach dem 11.September 2001 in muslimischen und arabischen Ländern nur mehr bei einer kleinen Minderheit Wohlgefallen findet. In Indonesien, Jordanien und Marokko war sogar eine Mehrheit davon überzeugt, dass Osama Bin Laden das "Richtige" tue, im Gegensatz zu George W.Bush.

Der Misserfolg der bisherigen "Public Diplomacy"

Der politischen Öffentlichkeitsarbeit, "public diplomacy", galt nach dem 11.September höchste Priorität. Das Budget hierfür wurde um 9% erhöht, in den Ländern des Mittleren Ostens und Südasiens um mehr als die Hälfte. Mit wenig Erfolg, wie der Bericht des Kongreßbüros für "General Accounting" moniert.

Die Aktivitäten des Außenministeriums seien zu unkoordiniert, die Mitarbeiter hätten zuviel Papierkram zu erledigen, zu wenige würden die Fremdsprache beherrschen und man habe kein wissenschaftliches Instrumentarium, das die Effizienz der Öffentlichkeitsarbeit bewerten könne. Stattdessen gebe es nur Anekdoten von Emissären, die von deren Erfolg bei Reden vor geneigtem Publikum erzählten.

Das Unbehagen des Kongresses an der mageren Ausbeute resultierte schließlich in der Gründung einer neuen Kommission (Advisory Group on Public Diplomacy for the Arab und Muslim World), unter Leitung von Edward Djerejian, die Empfehlungen darüber aussprechen sollte, wie die Öffentlichkeit in der muslimischen Welt besser zu erreichen sei. Anfang Oktober wird der erste Bericht dieser Kommission erwartet.

Irrige Annahmen

Arabisch buchstabiert man Demokratie "W-ü-r-d-e". Man kann keine Würde in Isolation habe, wie ein Cowboy der stark, stolz und alleine herum geht und träumend in einer Freiheit von allen Verpflichtungen schwelgt. Würde - "Karameh" auf Arabisch - impliziert die Existenz von anderen, weil es um klare und aufrichtige Beziehungen zu ihnen geht
Laurie King-Irani in The Daily Star

"Nur in paar wenige Personen in der amerikanischen Administration erkennen das eigentliche Problem", diagnostiziert demgegenüber der Politikprofessor Marc Lynch in einem beachtenswerten Essay, erschienen in der neuen Ausgabe der Foreign Affairs.…

Selbst wenn man gelegentlich ein paar Leute in die arabischen Sender schickt, es via eigenem Radioprogramm mit populärer Musik ( Radio Sawa) versucht, mit dem richtigen "Spin" in den TV-Auftritten, der jedoch von der Zielgruppe nur zu gut als Propaganda-Make-up entlarvt wird, mit dem geplanten neuen arabischen Fernsehkanal, gesponsort mit amerikanischen Geldern (der Kongreß hat 30 Millionen Dollar bewilligt), der allerdings große Schwierigkeiten haben wird, einen Platz im mittlerweile vollen Markt zu finden - solange all dies auf dem überkommenen Ansatz der Bush-Administration fußt, prognostiziert Lynch, werde sich an der schlechten Verständigung zwischen Amerikanern, Muslimen und Arabern nichts wesentliches ändern: Die neue Kommission werde eine große Gelegenheit verschwenden, wenn sie nur mehr Mittel oder eine bessere Umsetzung traditioneller Ansätze fordere.

Die Araber fühlen sich behandelt wie Kinder. Sie wollen Gesprächspartner sein, statt Objekte von Manipulation.

Der herkömmliche Ansatz der "Puplic diplomacy" sei nämlich voller irriger Annahmen, behauptet Lynch. Schon im Zentrum der Politik gegenüber Araber stehe ein fatal falsches Axiom, dass die Araber nämlich autoritätsgläubig seien und ihnen entsprechend nur mit einer Politik der Stärke begegnet werden kann. Lynch listet in seinem Essay folgende Falschannahmen des gängigen Ansatzes auf:

Die öffentliche Meinung der Araber ist nicht wirklich wichtig, weil die autoritären Regimes die Unzufriedenheit entweder kontrollieren können oder ignorieren.
Die Wut auf die Vereinigten Staaten kann und sollte nicht weiter beachtet werden, weil sie der islamischen bzw. der arabischen Kultur immanent sei, und den Neid der Schwachen und Gescheiterten auf die Erfolgreichen repräsentiere oder von unpopulären Führern hoch gekocht werde, um von eigenem Versagen abzulenken.
Ein Gedanke, der mehr und mehr zum bestimmenden Allgemeingut (in der US-Administration) wird, ist, dass der Antiamerikanismus aus schlichtem Unverständnis der amerikanischen Politik resultiere.

Kein Wunder, meint Lynch, dass dieser Ansatz, genau die Menschen vor den Kopf stoße und der US-Politik entfremde, deren Unterstützung für den Erfolg der USA so nötig wären. Vor allem, wenn man sich die Nichtbeachtung der örtlichen Opposition durch die Amerikaner vor Augen halte, wenn es um militärische Interventionen gehe. Dies sei durch gönnerhafte Versuche, die amerikanische Botschaft `rüber zu bringen, nicht wett zu machen.

Stattdessen fordert der Experte für Öffentlichkeit in der arabischen Region, dass die USA eine fundamental neue "public diplomacy" in den muslimischen Ländern entwickeln müssten. Man sollte sich dem direkten Dialog mit meinungsbildenden Kräften einer neuen öffentlichen Sphäre aussetzen.

Strukturwandel der arabischen Öffentlichkeit

Die arabische öffentliche Meinung sei nämlich weitaus komplexer als das verbreitete Klischee einer zynischen Elite, die der arabischen Straße, geprägt von Leidenschaften und Nationalismus, gegenüber steht. In diesem überkommenen Fixierbild fehlt die neue öffentliche Sphäre, die Lynch in den Ländern des Nahen und Mittleren Ostens ausmacht. Sie hat sich in den letzten Jahren durch reichhaltige Medienangebote von internationalen Zeitungen und überstaatlichen Fernsehsendern, prominent: Al-Jazeera, entwickeln können. Diese Öffentlichkeit bestimme mehr und mehr die Debatten auf den Strassen, aber auch in den Palästen. Genau in dieser neuen Sphäre würden der Streit um die Ideen zu inneren Reformen und den Beziehungen zu den Vereinigten Staaten ausgefochten.

Da gibt es einerseits die großen arabischen Blätter, die in London herausgegeben werden, Al-Hayat z.B., sich somit dem direkten Einfluss von Regierungen entzogen haben und große Zugkraft auf ambitionierte Journalisten und Intellektuelle in der ganzen arabischen Welt ausüben. Und zum anderen das dicht gedrängte Angebot von Fernsehsendern mit einer umfassenden, internationalen Nachrichtenberichterstattung wie Al-Jazeera, Al Arabyia oder Abu Dhabi TV, das sich im Irakkrieg durch seine sensationsferne Berichterstattung einen guten Namen erworben hätte und viele andere, die den konservativen nationalen Sendern den Rang abgelaufen hätten. Als Beispiel für die Zugkraft etwa von Al-Jazeera zitiert Lynch den jemenitischen Präsidenten Ali Abdallah Salih, der regelmäßig Al-Jazeera dem eigenen nationalen TV-Sender vorziehe.

Viele "intellektuelle Leuchten" der arabischen Welt, so Lynch, ebenso wie einflussreiche politische Persönlichkeiten würden regelmäßig in diesen Fernsehstationen erscheinen oder viel gelesene Essays in der Presse schreiben und damit neue Argumente in die Debatte bringen.

Ein anderer sehr wichtiger Aspekt: die Programme werden oft in der Gemeinschaft gesehen, in öffentlichen Cafés, die so zu politischen Salons werden, vor allem in Krisenzeiten, oft werde dann zwischen Programmen hin-und hergezappt wird und die Berichterstattung heiß diskutiert.

Die Annahme, dass die Fernsehsender nur papageienhaft wiedergäben, was ihnen die offizielle Linie vorgibt, stimme nicht mehr. Kommentatoren würden regelmäßig die bestehenden arabischen Regime als unbrauchbar, schwach und korrupt bezeichnen. In einer kürzlich gesendeten Talkshow auf Al-Jazeera wurde die Frage gestellt, ob die bestehenden arabischen Regime schlimmer seien als die Kolonisation. 76% der Zuseher einschließlich des Moderatoren stimmten dem zu.

Gängige Nichtbeachtung der arabischen Öffentlichkeit

Nach dem 11.September 2001 habe die Bush-Administration die Notwendigkeit erkannt und zahlreiche Repräsentanten zu Al-Jazeera-Sendungen geschickt, aber der frische Enthusiasmus sei schnell Frust und Zorn gewichen, weil der Sender zu sympathisch über Al-Qaida berichtet habe und zu feindselig über die amerikanische Politik gegenüber Afghanistan und dem Irak. Der Druck, den die amerikanische Administration auf den Sender ausgeübt habe, um Bänder von Bin Laden zu zensieren, habe die amerikanische Rhetorik von freier Meinungsäußerung in den Augen der Araber zum Gespött gemacht.

Lynch kritisiert, dass man durch die ignorante und gönnerhafte Attitude gegenüber arabischen Empfindlichkeiten, die ihren Ausdruck in der neuen öffentlichen Sphäre finden, nicht nur anfängliche Sympathie und Mitgefühl nach dem 11.09. verspielt habe, sondern es auch ignoranterweise versäumt habe, den ganz anderen Blick der arabischen Welt auf den Irakkrieg zur Kenntnis zu nehmen.

Die arabische Meinung vor dem Krieg war nicht vorher bestimmt.

Während viele zu Beginn des Krieges durchaus Sympathien für die Absetzung Saddam Husseins gehabt hätten, wandelte sich das von den Neocons lancierte Image der "Befreier" im Laufe des Konflikts zum schlechten Image der "Besatzer". In der Berichterstattung der arabischen Fernsehsender habe es so ausgesehen, als ob Amerikaner und Briten, isoliert von der restlichen Welt, gegen einen unerschütterlichen irakischen Widerstand ankämpften. Im Gegensatz zu den westlichen TV-Anstalten wurden Bilder von zivilen Toten und den Schäden gezeigt, die der Krieg im Lande anrichtete. Der zentrale, ikonische Moment des Sieges der Amerikaner, der Fall der Saddam-Statue in Baghdad, sei vom arabischen Publikum als weitaus weniger bedeutend wahrgenommen worden: als Bühnenshow mit einer Handvoll echter Iraker

Den Schaden, der den USA durch die Ignoranz der neuen arabischen Öffentlichkeit entstanden sei, habe die gegenwärtige Administration noch gar nicht erkannt. Wichtiger als arabische Führer anzusprechen oder übergroße Kategorien, wie " die Jugend", wäre es jetzt, so Lynch, sich an diese Öffentlichkeit zu wenden, an die Intellektuellen und Journalisten, die zentral sind für die Meinungsbildung und statt unbeirrt an zementierten Überzeugungen zu hängen sei es erforderlich, den Stil der Debatte zu verändern und das ganze Spektrum der Meinungen zuzulassen, wie eben in den amerikanischen Debatten auch. Man müsse wie dort ernsthaft mit Gegnern diskutieren.
19.09.03 17:48:40
Beitrag Nr. 7.047 ()
From: Peter Lee: `Useful idiot`
Posted on Friday, September 19 @ 10:27:34 EDT
By Peter Lee

The international community, just like Halliburton, the neocons, and the religious right, have discovered the advantages of having a weak and easily led nincompoop in the White House.

Just at the time that ordinary Americans are finally waking up to the enormous political and financial cost.

Under the judicious management of Colin Powell, the current buyathon of "allies" for a new UN resolution for the reconstruction of Iraq is proceeding much more discretely and successfully than the red-faced, foam-flecked hectoring that doomed US efforts to gain support for the Iraq invasion earlier this year.

In a striking development, South Korea, a strong critic of the war at elite and popular levels, is reportedly ready to send 10,000 crack troops deep into the shit north of Baghdad (see Seoul May Send 10,000 Troops to Iraq, LA Times, 9/17/03).

Payback: the US will endorse South Korea`s program of diplomatic engagement with North Korea (at least until Korean boots hit Iraq sand: that`s a heads-up to you, President Roh) instead of pushing the neocon agenda of turning the Korean peninsula into a smoking nuclear ruin through a process of escalating confrontation.

In a sign of US sincerity, John Bolton, State`s designated asshole for international affairs, has been dispatched to chew morosely on Bashar Assad`s leg on the bogus issue of Syrian WMD ambitions instead of lingering in Asia to pointedly and intentionally insult Kim Jung Il.

The Turks, who wisely flouted the command to mount Bush`s triumphal chariot into Baghdad that turned into a bandwagon to oblivion, have been quietly granted the $ 8.5 billion in loan guarantees the U.S. contemptuously withheld prior to the invasion. They will be more than happy to send troops into Iraq--into northern Iraq, to bedevil the local Kurds.

India, through the intercession of its new strategic partner Israel--and in response to Sharon`s promise to assist in the noble task of killing Pakistani Muslims through sales of Israeli military technology and materiale--may agree to throw a few thousand troops in the Iraq meatgrinder once the UN resolution goes through (see A New Strategic Triangle, Haaretz 9/15/03).

So Powell will be able to convince the veto holders on the Security Council that they are not just giving a rubber stamp to Rumsfeld and Cheney to brutalize and despoil Iraq.

Instead, brutalizing and despoiling Iraq will be a true international effort!

Brown troops and white money.

The Europeans will be placated by the international donors` conference--a glorious combination market collusion exercise and circle jerk party to be held after the UN resolution passes. Fourteen Iraq infrastructure markets will be divied up between the nations. The US salts the pot with a few billion dollars, Europe and Japan ante up, and then the loot will be passed around from country to country in the form of contracts for each regime`s favorite industrialists (see U.S. Dangles a Carrot: Opportunities in Iraq, LA Times, 9/10/03).

To the Bush administration, it`s a no brainer: "You take the money from your taxpayers and give it to the corporations who support your election. And since the money`s pissed away in Iraq there`s no accountability. Just ask Halliburton!"

For a brief moment, it is wonderfully amusing to watch the neocons floundering on Iraq, and somewhat heartening to watch the media remembering to snap in its attack-dog dentures. Dana Milbank and Walter Pincus` startling use of a front-page news article to perform a point-by-point dissection of Cheney`s mendacious performance on Meet the Press seems to have flustered the White House (see Bush Team Stands Firm on Iraq Policy, Washington Post, 9/15/03).

In recent days we have seen a flurry of denials and mea culpas from Wolfowitz, Rumsfeld, Rice, and even Bush that have undermined the administration`s chest-thumping pretexts for the Iraq war, including nukes, WMDs, the al-Qaeda alliance, and even that gleaming genuine zirconia crown jewel of neocon deception, the implied Saddam-9/11 link.

Obviously Rove has decided to clean all the impeachable skeletons out of the closet in anticipation of a clean slate--and relieved American indifference about that war that happened so long ago and far away to somebody else--after the UN resolution.

Note well that every pretext has been abandoned except for the Big Lie that we attacked Iraq to enforce the U.N. resolutions against Saddam. Look for that one to resurface after a new enabling resolution is obtained:

"We didn`t want to invade Iraq; the UN made us do it. Any problems over there in Baghdad? Better talk to those crazy blue hats."

In a sure sign the fix is on, the Europeans seem to have cast aside the Palestinian bargaining chip usually produced during negotiations with America on Iraq. The U.S., with a blithe fuck you to the bewildered Third Worlders who thought that America playing ball with the UN was somehow about them, vetoed the Security Council resolution urging protection of Arafat.

So look for Bush to dodge the Iraq bullet, at least for now.

Despairing anti-Bushites will wail, "But the bozo`s on the ropes! Why would Chirac and Schroeder help him out of the Iraq mess?"

Why indeed?

A simple reason is that Bush administration is not yet in political free fall. If Old Europe sticks it to George this time, they might still have to put up with him after the election.

A more subtle reason is that a politically and morally weakened leader is somebody you can do business with. And when that Dummkopf has access to the resources of the world`s greatest financial and military power, well that`s something more important and useful than indulging feelings of contempt or moral repugnance.

Which is why America`s elite, which turned its back on Clinton for the awful crime of oral sex, is willing to put up with a leader whose mismanagement has led to America`s worst fiscal, military, and diplomatic debacle since the Vietnam war.

Bush is the clown they can rely on to always do the right thing by the rich.

It`s a sad but central fact of American politics that a significant number of the rich have convinced themselves of the utility, morality, and even necessity of plundering America`s public resources and popular well-being and security for the sake of personal, private advantage.

And that the man in the White House is their willing, eager, and conscienceless stooge.

As evidence of Bush`s incapacity and unfitness for office mounts, money pours into his re-election fund.

As Bush`s domestic and international stature shrinks, his coterie of rich bastards becomes ever more necessary and influential.

As Bush`s fiascos pile up, the first instinct of the moneyed and powerful and those who collude with them is to hunker down, say and do anything to get past Iraq and through this next election somehow, and use Bush to screw the American people for another four years.

And as Bush guts our public institutions, loots the Treasury with tax cuts and mortgages our future with deficits, and ravages the social fabric and natural environment the American people rely upon to provide joy and meaning to their lives, what happens?

America`s working people step up: to hold two jobs if they can find them in a quest for the health care and retirement security threatened by Bush`s irresponsible fiscal policies; they volunteer at schools and shelters to compensate for Bush`s malign neglect of our social and physical infrastructureÅc

Åcand they fight and die in Bush`s cruel and useless wars.

And our struggle to provide for our families and the future provides the energy, creativity, stability, and wealth that Bush`s crowd feeds on for their private profit.

I guess that makes us useful idiots too.

Copyright 2003 Peter Lee

Peter Lee is the creator of the anti-war satire and commentary webwsite Halcyon Days, which will be relaunched shortly.…" target="_blank" rel="nofollow ugc noopener">…
19.09.03 17:53:53
Beitrag Nr. 7.048 ()
Randolph T. Holhut: `Health care costs, not al-Qaeda, worries Americans`
Posted on Friday, September 19 @ 10:24:27 EDT
By Randolph T. Holhut

DUMMERSTON, Vt. - What is considered a bigger worry to the average American - another 9/11-style terrorist attack or not having health insurance?

According to a recent poll taken by the Kaiser Family Foundation, the latter is more feared by Americans.

The Kaiser poll found that 33 percent of the people they surveyed who now have health insurance are afraid their income won`t keep up with the ever-increasing costs of the premiums. By comparison, only 8 percent fear that they`ll be a victim of a terror attack.

Despite all the fear-mongering by the Bush administration, it`s very apparent that most Americans are more afraid of health care costs than al-Qaeda.

Americans have every reason to be afraid. According to Kaiser, monthly premiums for employer-sponsored health care rose 13.9 percent between spring 2002 and spring 2003. That`s the biggest increase since 1990 and it`s certain to mean higher premiums, higher co-payments and higher deductibles. Already, workers have seen their out-of-pocket costs for doctor visits and prescription drugs double in the last three years.

Why is health care getting so expensive? Look no further than a study published last month in the New England Journal of Medicine. Investigators from Harvard University and the Canadian Institute for Health Information found that 31 cents of every dollar spent on health care in the U.S. goes to pay administrative costs. By comparison, Canada - which has a single-payer health care system administered by the government - spends about half as much, 16.7 cents.

Administration costs for the U.S. health care system amount to nearly $295 billion a year. If we had the Canadian system in the U.S., that $295 billion would be more than enough to cover the cost of coverage for the 41 million Americans who currently don`t have health insurance.

It stands to reason that you could save a lot of money having one insurer - the federal government - instead of having thousands of different insurers and managed care providers. And government-run doesn`t necessarily mean inefficient. Administration costs for Medicare are estimated at around 3 percent, far less than private insurers. And instead of watching their premiums go up 15-30 percent every year, some employers are starting become receptive to the idea of paying into a central fund - the way they do for Social Security - to cover health care costs for their workers.

Of course, we know the obstacles to getting some sort of single-payer health care plan enacted. Even though it has the support of most Americans, the medical-industrial complex - the drug companies, the insurance companies and the rest of the elements of the for-profit health care system in this country - is absolutely opposed and isn`t afraid of spending millions of dollars to protect a system that allows them to make billions of dollars in profits. Their work in crushing President Clinton`s feeble attempt at health care reform in 1993-94 is a perfect example of the kind of fight they put up when their profits are threatened.

The chattering classes won`t offer support for single-payer health care either. Given the anti-government, pro-private market bias of the corporate press, they repeatedly dismiss single-payer health care as being costly and unworkable. And the politicians won`t back single-payer health care, especially considering how much money they get in campaign contributions from the medical-industrial complex.

Despite the abundant evidence of the inefficiency and wasted money of the current American health care system, there are still people who are quick to scream about the evils of "socialized medicine" and how a government-administered system would mean less care and more restrictions.

That argument falls apart when you look at the HMO-dominated system we have now, which has given us less care and more restrictions. As this country has moved from a mostly fee-for-service system to a profit-driven HMO system, we`ve gotten more bureaucracy without better coverage and have managed to make health care an expensive commodity that millions of Americans can`t afford.

We should be embarrassed by our status of being the only industrialized nation that doesn`t insure all its citizens. Streamlining our health insurance system while providing universal and comprehensive health care for all is something that can be done.

It won`t be done easily, given the power of the folks interested in maintaining the present profitable status quo. But the inescapable conclusion is that the present system isn`t working, and that there is an alternative.

Randolph T. Holhut has been a journalist in New England for more than 20 years. He edited "The George Seldes Reader" (Barricade Books).
19.09.03 18:00:29
Beitrag Nr. 7.049 ()
Cheney`s conflict with the truth
By Derrick Z. Jackson, 9/19/2003

ON "MEET THE PRESS" last Sunday, Vice President Dick Cheney said, "Since I left Halliburton to become George Bush`s vice president, I`ve severed all my ties with the company, gotten rid of all my financial interests. I have no financial interest in Halliburton of any kind and haven`t had now, for over three years."

That is the latest White House lie.

Within 48 hours, Democratic Senator Frank Lautenberg of New Jersey pointed reporters toward Cheney`s public financial disclosure sheets filed with the US Office of Government Ethics. The sheets show that in 2002, Cheney received $162,392 in deferred salary from Halliburton, the oil and military contracting company he ran before running for vice president. In 2001, Cheney received $205,298 in deferred salary from Halliburton.

The 2001 salary was more than Cheney`s vice presidential salary of $198,600. Cheney also is still holding 433,333 stock options.

Flushed into the open, Cheney spokeswoman Catherine Martin said the vice president will continue to receive about $150,000 a year from Halliburton in 2003, 2004, and 2005. If President bush wins a second term, that means Cheney will make at least $800,000 from the company while sitting in office.

Martin said the payments did not represent a lie. She said Cheney had already earned that salary. She said Cheney took out an insurance policy that would guarantee the money would be paid to him no matter what happened to the company.

Five years ago, America was in a tizzy over President Clinton`s "That depends on what the meaning of is, is." That was over lying about sex. For that, Clinton was impeached. Now, we have a vice president who tells America he has severed his ties even as his umbilical cord doubles his salary. To him, it depends what the meaning of i$, i$.

We know what the meaning of i$, i$ to Halliburton. It is by far the largest beneficiary of the invasion and occupation of Iraq. With no-bid, no-ceiling contracts, the company has already amassed $2 billion in work. It is doing everything from restoring oil facilities to providing toilets for troops. A year ago Halliburton was staring at nearly a half-billion dollars in losses. In the second quarter of 2003 it posted a profit of $26 million.

No conflict of interest has been proven between Cheney`s salary and Halliburton`s Iraq work, but even before the invasion and occupation, Cheney`s concern about the public`s perception led to years of deception.

In the summer of 2000, he told Larry King that quitting Halliburton for the vice presidency means "I take a bath." He gave up a $1.3 million annual salary, but most people would have settled for mere shower droplets of his $33 million "retirement" package. By strange coincidence, at the time of the Republican National Convention, Halliburton gave about $280,000 to Republican candidates for office in the first half of 2000. It gave less than $10,000 to Democrats.

At the time, Cheney said: "I will take whatever steps I have to take to avoid any conflict of interest. That is to say, by the time I`m sworn in on January 20, I will have eliminated any possibility that I have a continuing financial interest in Halliburton stock or share price. . . . I will do whatever I have to do to guarantee that there`s no conflict."

Cheney has set up the 433,333 stock options in a charitable trust. But his whole vice presidency has been a general conflict of interest, symbolized by his secret industrial society known as the Energy Task Force. Cheney has resisted all efforts by the General Accounting Office and advocacy groups to provide documents that detail the proceedings of the task force. In the two and a half years since the task force was convened, the White House has been on a rampage to slash or gut environmental measures.

Cheney`s latest attempt to play Americans for fools came in the very same interview during which he was forced to say "I did misspeak" about Saddam Hussein having nuclear weapons, a falsehood that whipped up support for the invasion. The question is how many more misspeaks and lies Americans will tolerate. Back when Clinton was in trouble, Cheney`s wife, Lynne, said, "The Clintons are very good at defining and creating new realities that are based not on absolute truths, but on what they believe to be true at any given moment."

Clinton will be forever tarnished for "I did not have sexual relations with that woman." Dick Cheney`s continuing salary from the top profiteer of an invasion fueled by his sexed-up claims of Saddam Hussein`s weapons is the creation of a new, mad reality. Cheney has said in so many words, "I did not have financial relations with Halliburton." Americans must determine whether that lie is as sexy as lies about sex. With nearly 300 American soldiers dead, one would hope so.

Derrick Z. Jackson`s e-mail address is

© Copyright 2003 Globe Newspaper Company.…
19.09.03 18:17:13
Beitrag Nr. 7.050 ()
19.09.03 19:16:37
Beitrag Nr. 7.051 ()

19.09.03 19:41:47
Beitrag Nr. 7.052 ()
EU Big Three Defy U.S. to Offer Iran Nuclear Carrot
Fri September 19, 2003 01:12 PM ET

By Paul Taylor and Louis Charbonneau
BRUSSELS/VIENNA (Reuters) - Britain, Germany and France defied the United States last month by offering Iran the prospect of sharing technology if it stops its disputed nuclear fuel enrichment program and accepts tougher U.N. inspections.

Western diplomats told Reuters a joint letter by the big three European foreign ministers, the content of which has not previously been disclosed, was delivered to Tehran in early August despite intense lobbying by Washington.

It highlighted a wide gulf between the Bush administration and even its closest European ally, Britain, on whether to engage or isolate the Islamic republic.

The Europeans urged Iran to sign, implement and ratify a protocol to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) that provides for intrusive, short-notice inspections and to halt its uranium enrichment program, which the West fears could be at the heart of a clandestine nuclear arms program.

In return for compliance, the letter raised the prospect of some cooperation on technology, without specifically pledging help with a civilian nuclear energy program, the sources said.

"Washington did not consider it very helpful at all. They were worried it ran the risk of splitting Europe and America on this issue...and attempted to dissuade them from sending the letter," a diplomat familiar with the exchanges said.

British and French officials confirmed the letter had been sent with the knowledge of the United States, but said Tehran had been offered no direct "quid pro quo."

However, a British official said that if Iran did comply fully with the NPT, "that would bring certain rights with it."

European diplomats said they were disappointed there had not been a more specific reply from Tehran so far.


On August 18, Iranian President Mohammad Khatami sent a broadly worded letter to European leaders, including EU president Italy, pledging that Iran would never divert its civilian nuclear program for military purposes and had decided to enter immediate talks on the so-called additional protocol.

But that message, seen by Reuters, did not commit Iran to sign or ratify the protocol, and European diplomats question whether Khatami, locked in a power struggle with hardline clerics, has effective control over the nuclear program.

Since then, attention at the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has shifted from intrusive future checks to investigating Iran`s past nuclear activities, diplomats said.

The governing board of the IAEA, in a vote that united Americans and Europeans, gave Tehran an ultimatum last week to prove by October 31 it has no secret weapons program or be reported to the Security Council for possible sanctions.

But a diplomat from one of the European states stressed that the joint British, French and German initiative remained valid.

"The offer still stands," he said.

Diplomats said the United States and Russia were both involved in preliminary discussions on the letter but Washington fundamentally opposed offering Iran any carrot.

Moscow, which is helping Iran build a nuclear power station at Bushehr despite U.S. opposition, thought the wording too harsh and sent its own letter instead.


European diplomats said the letter gave Tehran an incentive to cooperate by responding to a key demand it has raised for the right to peaceful nuclear cooperation under the 1968 treaty.

"Iran has a confidence deficit," said a diplomat, adding that the offer was one possible way of removing the deficit.

The NPT preamble affirms the principle that "the benefits of peaceful applications of nuclear technology... should be available for peaceful purposes to all Parties of the Treaty."

But diplomats said the letter also hardened the European position by shifting emphasis from simply demanding Iran accept tougher inspections to insisting it abandon fuel enrichment.

Khatami`s letter did not address that issue but since he outranked the European ministers in protocol terms, it was not clear whether Tehran would reply to their detailed demands.

The IAEA`s August 26 report made clear that Iran`s uranium enrichment program began in 1985, 12 years earlier than Tehran had originally stated, intensifying suspicions that its nuclear work is far more advanced than the agency had realized.

One diplomat at IAEA headquarters in Vienna noted that South Africa, Argentina and Brazil were all persuaded to abandon nuclear arms programs after political change.

"We`d rather be dealing with a Brazil than with a North Korea or an Iraq," he said.
19.09.03 19:44:13
Beitrag Nr. 7.053 ()
Big Explosion Shakes Downtown Baghdad

Filed at 1:22 p.m. ET

BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) -- A big explosion rocked central Baghdad late Friday and a huge cloud of smoke was seen rising from the direction of Martyrs` Square, where the American military maintains a base.

The explosion shook the Palestine Hotel about 2 1/2 miles away from where it was believed to have occurred.

No other details were available.
19.09.03 21:12:30
Beitrag Nr. 7.054 ()
Published on Friday, September 19, 2003 by the lndependent/UK
Another Day, Another Death-Trap For The US
by Robert Fisk

The American Humvee had burnt out, the US troop transporter had been smashed by rockets and an Iraqi lorry - riddled by American bullets in the aftermath of the attack - still lay smoldering on the central reservation.

"I saw the Americans flying through the air, blasted upwards," an Iraqi mechanic with an oil lamp in his garage said - not, I thought, without some satisfaction. "The wounded Americans were on the road, shouting and screaming."

The US authorities in Iraq - who only report their own deaths, never those of Iraqis - acknowledged three US soldiers dead. There may be up to eight dead, not counting the wounded. Several Iraqis described seeing arms and legs and pieces of uniform scattered across the highway.

It may well turn out to be the most costly ambush the Americans have suffered since they occupied Iraq - and this on the very day that George Bush admitted for the first time that there was no link between Saddam Hussein and the 11 September assault on the United States. And as American Abrams tanks thrashed down the darkened highway outside Khaldiya last night - the soft-skinned Humvee jeeps were no longer to be seen in the town - the full implications of the ambush became clear.

There were three separate ambushes in Khaldiya and the guerrillas showed a new sophistication. Even as I left the scene of the killings after dark, US army flares were dripping over the semi-desert plain 100 miles west of Baghdad while red tracer fire raced along the horizon behind the palm trees. It might have been a scene from a Vietnam movie, even an archive newsreel clip; for this is now tough, lethal guerrilla country for the Americans, a death-trap for them almost every day.

As usual, the American military spokesmen had "no information" on this extraordinary ambush. But Iraqis at the scene gave a chilling account of the attack. A bomb - apparently buried beneath the central reservation of the four-lane highway - exploded beside an American truck carrying at least 10 US soldiers and, almost immediately, a rocket-propelled grenade hit a Humvee carrying three soldiers behind the lorry.

"The Americans opened fire at all the Iraqis they could see - at all of us," Yahyia, an Iraqi truck driver, said. "They don`t care about the Iraqis." The bullet holes show that the US troops fired at least 22 rounds into the Iraqi lorry that was following their vehicles when their world exploded around them.

The mud hut homes of the dirt-poor Iraqi families who live on the 30-foot embankment of earth and sand above the road were laced with American rifle fire. The guerrillas - interestingly, the locals called them mujahedin, "holy warriors" - then fired rocket-propelled grenades at the undamaged vehicles of the American convoy as they tried to escape. A quarter of a mile down the road - again from a ridge of sand and earth - more grenades were launched at the Americans.

Again, according to the Sunni Muslim Iraqis of this traditionally Saddamite town, the Americans fired back, this time shooting into a crowd of bystanders who had left their homes at the sound of the shooting. Several, including the driver of the truck that was hit by the Americans after the initial bombing, were wounded and taken to hospital for treatment in the nearest city to the west, Ramadi.

"They opened fire randomly at us, very heavy fire," Adel, the mechanic with the oil lamp, said. "They don`t care about us. They don`t care about the Iraqi people, and we will have to suffer this again. But I tell you that they will suffer for what they did to us today. They will pay the price in blood."

Jamel, a shopkeeper who saw the battle, insisted - and in Iraq, it is what people believe that governs emotion, not necessarily reality - that 60 Americans were killed or wounded in a mortar attack on the former Iraqi (and former RAF) air base at Habbaniyeh last week. Untrue, of course. But as we spoke, mortar fire crashed down on Habbaniyeh, its detonation lighting up the darkness as explosions vibrated through the ground beneath our feet. This was guerrilla warfare on a co-ordinated scale, planned and practiced long in advance. To set up even yesterday`s ambush required considerable planning, a team of perhaps 20 men and the ability to choose the best terrain for an ambush.

That is exactly what the Iraqis did. The embankment above the road gave the gunmen cover and a half-mile wide view of the US convoy. They must have known the Americans would have opened fire at anything that moved in the aftermath - indeed, the guerrillas probably hoped they would - and angry crowds in the town of Khaldiya were claiming last night that 20 Iraqi civilians had been wounded.

Six days ago, American soldiers killed eight US-trained Iraqi policemen and a Jordanian hospital guard 14 miles away in Fallujah, claiming at first that they had "no information" on the shootings, and then apologizing - but without providing the slightest explanation for the killings. Several Iraqis in Khaldiya suggested that yesterday`s ambush may have been a revenge attack for the slaughter of the policemen.

True or false, that is what the guerrillas may well claim. Do they, many Iraqis wonder, follow the political trials of President Bush and Prime Minister Blair? Was the devastating attack timed to coincide with Mr Bush`s increasing embarrassment over the false claims that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction? Unlikely. But yesterday when the former UN weapons inspector Hans Blix condemned the "culture of spin, the culture of hyping" - in reference to the Anglo-American exaggeration of Saddam Hussein`s threat to the world - some of his words may have found their mark in Iraq. "In the Middle Ages," Mr Blix said, "when people were convinced there were witches, they certainly found them."

Now Mr Bush is convinced he is fighting a vast international "terrorist" network and that its agents are closing in for a final battle in Iraq. And the Iraqi mujahedin are ready to turn the American President`s fantasies into reality.

I couldn`t help noticing the graffiti on a wall in Fallujah. It was written in Arabic, in a careful, precise hand, by someone who had taken his time to produce a real threat.

"He who gives the slightest help to the Americans," the graffiti read, "is a traitor and a collaborator."

C 2003 Independent Digital (UK) Ltd
19.09.03 21:24:36
Beitrag Nr. 7.055 ()
Published in the October 6, 2003 issue of The Nation
9/11/01: Where Was George?
by Eric Alterman

September 11 is often said to be the defining moment in the Bush presidency, even of modern history. How strange, therefore, that Bush`s behavior that morning--along with that of his Administration--is almost never examined in any detail. This is all the more incredible when one considers the fact that 9/11 is among the most exhaustively chronicled days in human history and Bush among its most heavily covered individuals. No less odd has been the media`s willingness to let the many inconsistencies in White House stories pass unexamined. They seem content instead to let Showtime tell the story, Leni Riefenstahl-style.

That fateful morning, Bush was visiting the Emma E. Booker Elementary School in Sarasota. The moment he learned of the attacks is a matter of deep dispute. CIA chief George Tenet was informed of the first crash almost immediately and is reported to have remarked to his breakfast companion, former Senator David Boren, "You know, this has bin Laden`s fingerprints all over it." But the President`s aides maintain that he was not told about the attack for more than fifteen minutes, well after viewers saw the first building engulfed in smoke on CNN, and even after he interrupted his schedule to take a call from Condoleezza Rice upon leaving his limousine, after the first crash took place.

The various accounts offered by the White House are almost all inconsistent with one another. On December 4, 2001, Bush was asked, "How did you feel when you heard about the terrorist attack?" Bush replied, "I was sitting outside the classroom waiting to go in, and I saw an airplane hit the tower--the TV was obviously on. And I used to fly myself, and I said, well, there`s one terrible pilot. I said, it must have been a horrible accident. But I was whisked off there. I didn`t have much time to think about it." Bush repeated the same story on January 5, 2002, stating, "First of all, when we walked into the classroom, I had seen this plane fly into the first building. There was a TV set on. And you know, I thought it was pilot error, and I was amazed that anybody could make such a terrible mistake...."

This is false. Nobody saw the jetliner crash into the first tower on television until a videotape surfaced a day later. What`s more, Bush`s memory not only contradicts every media report of that morning, it also contradicts what he said on the day of the attack. In his speech to the nation that evening, Bush said, "Immediately following the first attack, I implemented our government`s emergency response plans." Again, this statement has never been satisfactorily explained. No one besides Bush has ever spoken of these "emergency plans," and the mere idea of their implementation is contradicted by Bush`s claim that at the time, he believed the crash to have been a case of pilot error.

Other contradictions abound. Bush told an interviewer that Chief of Staff Andrew Card had been the first person to let him know of the crash. Card was saying, Bush explained, "`Here`s what you`re going to be doing: You`re going to meet so-and-so, such-and-such.` Then Andy Card said, `By the way, an aircraft flew into the World Trade Center.`" Ari Fleischer repeated this story, claiming that Card had told Bush about the crash "as the President finished shaking hands in a hallway of school officials." But other sources, including Bob Woodward`s allegedly authoritative account, have Karl Rove telling Bush the news.

What we do know is that Bush continued to read to the children and pose for the cameras long after the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD), the National Military Command Center, the Pentagon, the White House, the Secret Service and Canada`s Strategic Command were all aware that three jetliners had been hijacked. The President`s entourage hung around a full fifty minutes after CNN broadcast the news of the first crash. Half an hour after the first plane hit, Bush told the children, "Hoo! These are great readers. Very impressive! Thank you all so very much for showing me your reading skills. I bet they practice, too. Don`t you? Reading more than they watch TV? Anybody do that? Read more than you watch TV? [Hands go up] Oh that`s great! Very good. Very important to practice! Thanks for having me. I`m very impressed."

White House staff members claimed that Bush remained with the children so as not to "upset" or "alarm" them. This is a truly bewildering excuse. If the country was under attack, Bush might be forgiven for upsetting a few schoolkids. If the President`s life was in danger, then so was the life of every little child in that room. At the time, fighter jets had been dispatched to defend New York City. But according to one of the fighter pilots, it would have done no good to catch up to one of the hijacked planes before it landed in a murderous explosion at the next population center. The only person with the authority to order the plane to be shot down, noted the pilot, was the President, who was still reading to schoolchildren.

The panic motif runs through the rest of the President`s actions that day. While the presidential motorcade did finally head for the airport, Bush is alleged to have spoken on the phone to Cheney and ordered all flights nationwide grounded. Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta has also tried to take credit for the order, but according to Slate, this too is false, though "FAA officials had begged [the reporter] to maintain the fiction." In fact, according to USA Today, it was FAA administrator Ben Sliney who issued the order. Amazingly, Air Force One took off with no military protection. It remained unprotected in the sky for more than an hour, though Florida is filled with Air Force bases just minutes away with planes that are supposed to be on twenty-four-hour alert.

Bush`s aides later offered, and retracted, the excuse that he spent the day flying around the country because of threats to Air Force One believed to have been received at the White House. What nobody has ever explained is this: If you think Air Force One is to be attacked, why go up in Air Force One?

I don`t have the answers to these questions. But why is no one asking them?

Eric Alterman currently writes the "Stop the Presses" media column for The Nation and the "Altercation" web log for

Copyright © 2003 The Nation
19.09.03 22:02:56
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19.09.03 23:31:39
Beitrag Nr. 7.057 ()
GIs in Iraq Kill Aide to Italian Envoy

Friday September 19, 2003 1:49 PM


Associated Press Writer

ROME (AP) - American soldiers in northern Iraq fired on a car carrying the Italian official heading up U.S. efforts to recover Iraq`s looted antiquities, killing the man`s Iraqi interpreter, an official said Friday in Rome. The Italian, Pietro Cordone, was unhurt.

Cordone, who is the senior adviser for cultural affairs of the U.S. provisional authority and the top Italian diplomat in the country, was traveling on the road between Mosul and Tikrit on Thursday when his car was fired on at a U.S. roadblock, said a Foreign Ministry official who spoke on condition of anonymity.

The official said American troops fired at the car, and that Cordone`s Iraqi interpreter was killed. Cordone was unharmed.

The official said it appeared the car`s driver did not understand the signals that the American troops were giving, and that the American`s didn`t understand what the car was trying to do.

The Foreign Ministry said U.S. officials had expressed regret over the incident.

Cordone, who was born in Egypt and spent his diplomatic career in the Arab world, was named to his position in May to head up the coalition office responsible for finding and restoring Iraq`s looted antiquities.

He was on hand at the Iraqi National Museum last week when three men returned the Vase of Warka, a 5,000-year-old white limestone vessel that is one of the most valuable of the museum`s artifacts.

The museum, once the home of rare Islamic texts and priceless, millennia-old collections from the Assyrian, Sumerian and Babylonian civilizations, was plundered in the lawlessness and chaos that followed the fall of Baghdad on April 9.

The destruction triggered an international uproar, with many curators and archaeologists from around the world blaming the United States for failing to protect the institution.

When he was named to his position, Italian Culture Minister Giuliano Urbani said Cordone`s task was to recover ``one of the most important artistic patrimonies`` in the world.
19.09.03 23:42:36
Beitrag Nr. 7.058 ()
19.09.03 23:47:36
Beitrag Nr. 7.059 ()
20.09.03 10:19:11
Beitrag Nr. 7.060 ()
Iraq`s future
French lesson for Bush
Saturday September 20, 2003
The Guardian

At the risk of committing lese majeste, it is possible to predict the line that Tony Blair will take on Iraq when he meets the French and German leaders in Berlin today. The prime minister will tell Jacques Chirac and Gerhard Schröder that it is time to bury the hatchet. Prewar differences and any lingering bitterness over London`s scapegoating of France for last winter`s UN fiasco should be set aside.

It no longer really matters what happened then, Mr Blair may say; what is important is what happens next. Nobody needs another transatlantic row. The resuscitation of a common European approach is in the interest of all three of the EU`s great powers and of "old" and "new" Europe as a whole. It is also vital if the cohesion and future effectiveness of the UN, about which Kofi Annan recently spoke in such strikingly gloomy terms, is to be safeguarded. Mr Blair may note that the stability of the wider Middle East, progress on the Israel-Palestine roadmap and the fight against terrorism depend to an appreciable extent on increased international collaboration on Iraq, especially in achieving day-to-day security. For these reasons, he may argue, France, at any rate, should agree to send a peacekeeping contingent, as the US is proposing in its new draft security council resolution, if only to help Britain.

France`s response to such arguments, and to a lesser degree that of Germany, will be of the utmost interest. But while the outlines of a compromise agreement on the US draft are discernible, it is unlikely that it will be handed to Mr Blair in Berlin. The French government is well aware of Mr Blair`s severely weakened domestic position as he struggles to clamber out of the hole into which he has dug himself. Mr Chirac may calculate that Britain`s leader needs his help more than France needs Mr Blair`s assistance in mending fences with Washington. Both Mr Chirac and Mr Schröder are in any case due to meet George Bush at the UN next week. Whatever they intend in Iraq, they may prefer to reveal it to the headmaster rather than the head boy.

To an exemplary degree, however, France`s response to the US draft resolution is already known. For once, Antoine de Rivarol`s old boast, "ce qui n`est pas clair n`est pas français" (that which is not clear is not French), may be justified. Led by its able foreign minister, Dominique de Villepin, France is calling for a swift transfer of sovereign powers from the US-led coalition to an Iraqi provisional government, comprising the governing council and cabinet - as the Iraqi council itself demanded this week. France wants the UN security council to have primary political oversight. And it seeks a constitutional convention, followed by elections next spring. In short, France insists that control of Iraq must be returned to Iraqis within a matter of months, not years. If that is agreed, it will back and may indeed join a UN-mandated, US-led peacekeeping force. It is a radical plan, as Mr De Villepin admits. It may be overly optimistic, as Colin Powell grumbles. But at least it is a plan, whereas, in the case of the US, there is - as Democrats complain - no plan at all.

A compromise is not impossible and the Berlin meeting may yet facilitate it. But in the end, success will not depend on Mr Blair`s arguments. Rather, success depends on Mr Bush and his advisers overcoming their state of denial, admitting the US needs help and agreeing to work along the lines proposed by France. Common sense insists America`s discredited leaders open their eyes. Pride and prejudice suggest they may not.

Guardian Unlimited © Guardian Newspapers Limited 2003
20.09.03 10:25:07
Beitrag Nr. 7.061 ()
Shia militia arrest top Ba`athist
Rory McCarthy in Najaf
Saturday September 20, 2003
The Guardian

They came after midnight for Karim Ghaith. Outside his two-storey sandstone house in the holy city of Najaf, they shouted out his name, then opened fire.

After a gun battle lasting most of the night, Mr Ghaith, a high-ranking member of the former Ba`ath party, was held and taken for questioning on his suspected involvement in attacks on US troops.

It looked like another of dozens of raids since the war to capture senior Ba`athists. But the men who detained him early this month were not American soldiers or Iraqi police. Witnesses say they were the Badr Brigade, armed wing of Iraq`s biggest Shia Muslim party, the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (Sciri).

The operation, denied by Sciri, is evidence of the frustration of Shia groups and the growing willingness to tackle the perceived security threat themselves.

Since Ayatollah Mohammed Baqr al-Hakim, the head of Sciri, was killed last month, Shias have become increasingly angry at the pervading lawlessness. They insist that their militias must fill the security vacuum. They risk a confrontation withUS forces, whose commanders insist there is no role for militias and have ordered the militias to disarm or face arrest.

So far groups like the Badr Brigade and the Security Committee, set up by another Shia cleric, Moqtada al-Sadr, have avoided a confrontation with US troops, but resentment is simmering. "The Ba`athists must be punished because they are criminals who oppressed the Iraqi people," said Syed Abid Zaid al-Jabari, a Sciri official in Najaf.

"I think if the Iraqis are given a clearer role to participate in maintaining security and courts are set up, then people will start coming to us with the names of these people who are still in our city."

He said so far Badr had not arrested any Ba`athists in Najaf. But Abdul Amir Hassan Hussein, the head of Najaf`s human rights association, said: "It was Badr gunmen who arrested [Mr Ghaith]. They held him and they questioned him, and then they handed him over to be held in prison. We think it is a good step by the Badr, because since they started these kinds of operations there has been much more security in Najaf. Many of the Ba`athists have now left the city."

Abu Mohammad and his son Mustafa, 13, living next door to Mr Ghaith, said the Badr men had ordered him to surrender. Mustafa said: "The Badr Brigade came to the door and kept asking if Ghaith was hiding here. We told them he wasn`t. The gunmen said they were from the Badr Brigade."

During the gun battle Mr Ghaith hid inside a pile of tyres in their yard. At least two Badr gunmen were killed. Eventually, just after dawn, they captured him. His family fled and a mob ransacked their house, smashing windows and stripping it bare, removing even the floor tiles.

At the nearby police station officers insisted they had no part in the raid, but appeared ready to grant the militia a free hand. "The Badr Brigade doesn`t interfere in our job and they asked us not to interfere in their job," Captain Ishar al-Ardawi said. Badr officials in Najaf insist their men are no longer armed, though several, dressed all in black and sometimes wearing Badr armbands, are frequently seen in the city.

"We were not involved in this arrest, we have no weapons now. But Karim Ghaith is a criminal and everybody knows that," said Abdul Karim Rimimi, a brigade leader.

Mr Rimimi, who has met US marine officers in Najaf several times, said the Americans wanted his man to give up their guns and hand back their Kalashnikov permits. "The security is still so weak," he said. "If they left it up to us it would be much better."

US officials say they are considering plans to withdraw from some cities and leave security in the hands of trained Iraqi troops. But they mean the newly retrained Iraqi police or the newly formed paramilitary Civil Defence Battalions.

"We believe that there is not a role in the new Iraq for organised militias," the US civilian administrator, Paul Bremer, said this month.

American and British officials are particularly wary of Badr, which they say is still armed and funded by the Iranian government. For 20 years Sciri and the Badr Brigade were exiled in Iran, where Badr fought on the side of Tehran in the war of the 1980s.

Political leaders of the Shia movement are worried that security problems are likely to make people even more disillusioned with the US military occupation. Many want the Iraqis to have more responsibility now for their political future. "We feel very frustrated," said Adil Abdul Mehdi, 61, head of Sciri`s political bureau. "We understand the Americans, but they have to understand us. They cannot dictate things to us."

He said few expected a clash between the Shia majority and the Sunni minority, but there was a danger of Shias turning against the Americans, as many Sunni communities north and west of Baghdad had done.

"It will start with very small groups: actions and reactions. But if this starts, how it will finish nobody knows," he said. "If people cannot find a security solution even in the southern regions we will see an escalation of the situation."

Guardian Unlimited © Guardian Newspapers Limited 2003
20.09.03 10:29:21
Beitrag Nr. 7.062 ()
Europeans fail to end Iranian nuclear crisis
Tehran rejects offer of technology cooperation

Dan De Luce in Tehran
Saturday September 20, 2003
The Guardian

Britain, France and Germany have made an unsuccessful attempt to encourage Iran to comply with the International Atomic Energy Agency rules and curb its nuclear ambitions by offering to share their nuclear technology.

The incentive was intended to persuade Iran to accept tougher nuclear inspections and to halt its uranium enrichment programme.

It was offered despite strong objections by the US, according to a Reuters news agency report yesterday .

Iran`s lukewarm reaction served to unite the US and European governments behind the IAEA`s tough resolution last week, which requires Iran to prove that it has no-nuclear weapons programme by October 31.

It it fails to do so it make face action by the UN security council action.

The reported behind-the-scenes offer sheds new light on the crisis caused by Iran`s nuclear activities.

Tehran`s attempt to buy time on the issue has backfired and appears to have paved the way for transatlantic unity.

The Bush administration wants Iran isolated and dismisses Europe`s attempts at "constructive engagement" with reformers in the theocratic leadership.

Iran`s decision to reject the offer will make it more difficult for the foreign secretary, Jack Straw, and other foreign ministers to defend the benefits of engagement.

Iranian officials told journalists privately in August that England, France and Germany were putting pressure on their government to accept short-notice inspections of Iran`s nuclear plants.

But they but did not mention the incentives that were also proposed.

A letter from the three powers said that if Iran agreed to the demands they would offer cooperation on technology. It did not specify what sort of technology,.

But Iran has made it clear that civilian nuclear technology is the only incentive it is interested in.

"Washington did not consider it very helpful at all," a diplomat familiar with the matter said.

The administration was worried that it might divide Europe and the US, talked to "friends and colleagues in Europe" and "attempted to dissuade them from sending the letter," the diplomat told Reuters.

A source said that the joint British, French and German initiative "still stands".

Iran has given conflicting signals about how it will react to the IAEA resolution, but has said it will continue to cooperate with the agency.

But Conservative figures advocate following the North Korean example by withdrawing from the nuclear non-proliferation treaty altogether and ejecting UN inspectors.

"What is wrong with considering this treaty on nuclear energy and pulling out of it?" Ayatollah Ahmad Jannati, who heads the supervisory body the Guardian Council, said yesterday at Friday prayers in Tehran.

"North Korea pulled out of it and many countries have never entered it."

While the reformist government, led by President Mohammad Khatami, has said it will consider signing the additional protocol to the treaty which would allow short-notice inspections, Ayatollah Jannati said that would be represent "an extraordinary humiliation".

The final decisions on Iran`s nuclear programme are believed to rest with the supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and allied senior clerics, not with Mr Khatami`s cabinet, whose powers have been systematically curtailed.

The US and European governments suspect that Iran has a clandestine nuclear weapons programme and point to its efforts to enrich uranium, build a heavy water plant, and secure spent nuclear fuel, and to its contradictory accounts of its activities.

Iran says its nuclear programme is designed for peaceful purposes, to meet growing demand for electricity.

As for the IAEA tests which showed enriched uranium at a nuclear site, Iranian officials say the samples came from contaminated components bought on the black market abroad.

Guardian Unlimited © Guardian Newspapers Limited 2003
20.09.03 10:32:03
Beitrag Nr. 7.063 ()
What good friends left behind
Two years ago, as the bombs began to drop, George Bush promised Afghanistan `the generosity of America and its allies`. Now, the familiar old warlords are regaining power, religious fundamentalism is renewing its grip and military skirmishes continue routinely. What was the purpose? John Pilger reports

Saturday September 20, 2003
The Guardian

At the Labour party conference following the September 11 attacks, Tony Blair said memorably: "To the Afghan people, we make this commitment. We will not walk away... If the Taliban regime changes, we will work with you to make sure its successor is one that is broadbased, that unites all ethnic groups and offers some way out of the poverty that is your miserable existence." He was echoing George Bush, who had said a few days earlier: "The oppressed people of Afghanistan will know the generosity of America and its allies. As we strike military targets, we will also drop food, medicine and supplies to the starving and suffering men and women and children of Afghanistan. The US is a friend of the Afghan people."

Almost every word they spoke was false. Their declarations of concern were cruel illusions that prepared the way for the conquest of both Afghanistan and Iraq. As the illegal Anglo-American occupation of Iraq now unravels, the forgotten disaster in Afghanistan, the first "victory" in the "war on terror", is perhaps an even more shocking testament to power.

It was my first visit. In a lifetime of making my way through places of upheaval, I had not seen anything like it. Kabul is a glimpse of Dresden post-1945, with contours of rubble rather than streets, where people live in collapsed buildings, like earthquake victims waiting for rescue. They have no light and heat; their apocalyptic fires burn through the night. Hardly a wall stands that does not bear the pock-marks of almost every calibre of weapon. Cars lie upended at roundabouts. Power poles built for a modern fleet of trolley buses are twisted like paperclips. The buses are stacked on top of each other, reminiscent of the pyramids of machines erected by the Khmer Rouge to mark Year Zero.

There is a sense of Year Zero in Afghanistan. My footsteps echoed through the once grand Dilkusha Palace, built in 1910 to a design by a British architect, whose circular staircase and Corinthian columns and stone frescoes of biplanes were celebrated. It is now a cavernous ruin from which reed-thin children emerge like small phantoms, offering yellowing postcards of what it looked like 30 years ago: a vainglorious pile at the end of what might have been a replica of the Mall, with flags and trees. Beneath the sweep of the staircase were the blood and flesh of two people blown up by a bomb the day before. Who were they? Who planted the bomb? In a country in thrall to warlords, many of them conniving in terrorism, the question itself is surreal.

A hundred yards away, men in blue move stiffly in single file: mine-clearers. Mines are like litter here, killing and maiming, it is calculated, every hour of every day. Opposite what was Kabul`s main cinema and is today an art deco shell, there is a busy roundabout with posters warning that unexploded cluster bombs "yellow and from USA" are in the vicinity. Children play here, chasing each other into the shadows. They are watched by a teenage boy with a stump and part of his face missing. In the countryside, people still confuse the cluster canisters with the yellow relief packages that were dropped by American planes almost two years ago, during the war, after Bush had prevented international relief convoys crossing from Pakistan.

More than $10bn has been spent on Afghanistan since October 7 2001, most of it by the US. More than 80% of this has paid for bombing the country and paying the warlords, the former mojahedin who called themselves the "Northern Alliance". The Americans gave each warlord tens of thousands of dollars in cash and truckloads of weapons. "We were reaching out to every commander that we could," a CIA official told the Wall Street Journal during the war. In other words, they bribed them to stop fighting each other and fight the Taliban.

These were the same warlords who, vying for control of Kabul after the Russians left in 1989, pulverised the city, killing 50,000 civilians, half of them in one year, 1994, according to Human Rights Watch. Thanks to the Americans, effective control of Afghanistan has been ceded to most of the same mafiosi and their private armies, who rule by fear, extortion and monopolising the opium poppy trade that supplies Britain with 90% of its street heroin. The post-Taliban government is a facade; it has no money and its writ barely runs to the gates of Kabul, in spite of democratic pretensions such as the election planned for next year. Omar Zakhilwal, an official in the ministry of rural affairs, told me that the government gets less than 20% of the aid that is delivered to Afghanistan - "We don`t even have enough money to pay wages, let alone plan reconstruction," he said. President Harmid Karzai is a placeman of Washington who goes nowhere without his posse of US Special Forces bodyguards.

In a series of extraordinary reports, the latest published in July, Human Rights Watch has documented atrocities "committed by gunmen and warlords who were propelled into power by the United States and its coalition partners after the Taliban fell in 2001" and who have "essentially hijacked the country". The report describes army and police troops controlled by the warlords kidnapping villagers with impunity and holding them for ransom in unofficial prisons; the widespread rape of women, girls and boys; routine extortion, robbery and arbitrary murder. Girls` schools are burned down. "Because the soldiers are targeting women and girls," the report says, "many are staying indoors, making it impossible for them to attend school [or] go to work."

In the western city of Herat, for example, women are arrested if they drive; they are prohibited from travelling with an unrelated man, even an unrelated taxi driver. If they are caught, they are subjected to a "chastity test", squandering precious medical services to which, says Human Rights Watch, "women and girls have almost no access, particularly in Herat, where fewer than one per cent of women give birth with a trained attendant". The death rate of mothers giving birth is the highest in the world, according to Unicef. Herat is ruled by the warlord Ismail Khan, whom US defence secretary Donald Rumsfeld endorsed as "an appealing man... thoughtful, measured and self-confident".

"The last time we met in this chamber," said George Bush in his state of the union speech last year, "the mothers and daughters of Afghanistan were captives in their own homes, forbidden from working or going to school. Today, women are free, and are part of Afghanistan`s new government. And we welcome the new minister of women`s affairs, Dr Sima Samar." A slight, middle-aged woman in a headscarf stood and received the choreographed ovation. A physician who refused to deny treatment to women during the Taliban years, Samar is a true symbol of resistance, whose appropriation by the unctuous Bush was short-lived. In December 2001, Samar attended the Washington-sponsored "peace conference" in Bonn where Karzai was installed as president and three of the most brutal warlords as vice-presidents. (The Uzbek warlord General Rashid Dostum, accused of torturing and slaughtering prisoners, is currently defence minister.) Samar was one of two women in Karzai`s cabinet.

No sooner had the applause in Congress died away than Samar was smeared with a false charge of blasphemy and forced out. The warlords, different from the Taliban only in their tribal allegiances and religious pieties, were not tolerating even a gesture of female emancipation.

Today, Samar lives in constant fear for her life. She has two fearsome bodyguards with automatic weapons. One is at her office door, the other at her gate. She travels in a blacked-out van. "For the past 23 years, I was not safe," she told me, "but I was never in hiding or travelling with gunmen, which I must do now... There is no more official law to stop women from going to school and work; there is no law about dress code. But the reality is that even under the Taliban there was not the pressure on women in the rural areas there is now."

The apartheid might have legally ended, but for as many as 90% of the women of Afghanistan, these "reforms" - such as the setting up of a women`s ministry in Kabul - are little more than a technicality. The burka is still ubiquitous. As Samar says, the plight of rural women is often more desperate now because the ultra-puritanical Taliban dealt harshly with rape, murder and banditry. Unlike today, it was possible to travel safely across much of the country.

At a bombed-out shoe factory in west Kabul, I found the population of two villages huddled on exposed floors without light and with one trickling tap. Small children squatted around open fires on crumbling parapets: the day before, a child had fallen to his death; on the day I arrived, another child fell and was badly injured. A meal for them is bread dipped in tea. Their owl eyes are those of terrified refugees. They had fled there, they explained, because warlords routinely robbed them and kidnapped their wives and daughters and sons, whom they would rape and ransom back to them.

"During the Taliban we were living in a graveyard, but we were secure," a campaigner, Marina, told me. "Some people even say they were better. That`s how desperate the situation is today. The laws may have changed, but women dare not leave their homes without the burka, which we wear as much for our protection."

Marina is a leading member of Rawa, the Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan, a heroic organisation that for years tried to alert the outside world to the suffering of the women of Afghanistan. Rawa women travelled secretly throughout the country, with cameras concealed beneath their burkas. They filmed a Taliban execution and other abuses, and smuggled their videotape to the west. "We took it to different media groups," said Marina. "Reuters, ABC Australia, for example, and they said, yes, it`s very nice, but we can`t show it because it`s too shocking for people in the west." In fact, the execution was shown finally in a documentary broadcast by Channel 4.

That was before September 11 2001, when Bush and the US media discovered the issue of women in Afghanistan. She says that the current silence in the west over the atrocious nature of the western-backed warlord regime is no different. We met clandestinely and she wore a veil to disguise her identity. Marina is not her real name.

"Two girls who went to school without their burkas were killed and their dead bodies were put in front of their houses," she said. "Last month, 35 women jumped into a river along with their children and died, just to save themselves from commanders on a rampage of rape. That is Afghanistan today; the Taliban and the warlords of the Northern Alliance are two faces of the same coin. For America, it`s a Frankenstein story - you make a monster and the monster goes against you. If America had not built up these warlords, Osama bin Laden and all the fundamentalist forces in Afghanistan during the Russian invasion, they would not have attacked the master on September 11 2001."

Afghanistan`s tragedy exemplifies the maxim of western power - that third world countries are regarded and dealt with strictly in terms of their usefulness to "us". The ruthlessness and hypocrisy this requires is imprinted on Afghanistan`s modern history. One of the most closely guarded secrets of the cold war was America`s and Britain`s collusion with the warlords, the mojahedin, and the critical part they played in stimulating the jihad that produced the Taliban, al-Qaida and September 11.

"According to the official view of history," Zbigniew Brzezinski, Presi dent Carter`s national security adviser, admitted in an interview in 1998, "CIA aid to the mojahedin began during 1980, that is, after the Soviet army invaded Afghanistan... But the reality, secretly guarded until now, is completely otherwise." At Brzezinski`s urging, in July 1979 Carter authorised $500m to help set up what was basically a terrorist organisation. The goal was to lure Moscow, then deeply troubled by the spread of Islamic fundamentalism in the Soviet central Asian republics, into the "trap" of Afghanistan, a source of the contagion.

For 17 years, Washington poured $4bn into the pockets of some of the most brutal men on earth - with the overall aim of exhausting and ultimately destroying the Soviet Union in a futile war. One of them, Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, a warlord particularly favoured by the CIA, received tens of millions of dollars. His speciality was trafficking opium and throwing acid in the faces of women who refused to wear the veil. In 1994, he agreed to stop attacking Kabul on condition that he was made primeminister - which he was.

Eight years earlier, CIA director William Casey had given his backing to a plan put forward by Pakistan`s intelligence agency, the ISI, to recruit people from around the world to join the Afghan jihad. More than 100,000 Islamic militants were trained in Pakistan between 1986 and 1992, in camps overseen by the CIA and MI6, with the SAS training future al-Qaida and Taliban fighters in bomb-making and other black arts. Their leaders were trained at a CIA camp in Virginia. This was called Operation Cyclone and continued long after the Soviets had withdrawn in 1989.

"I confess that [countries] are pieces on a chessboard," said Lord Curzon, viceroy of India in 1898, "upon which is being played out a great game for the domination of the world." Brzezinski, adviser to several presidents and a guru admired by the Bush gang, has written virtually those same words. In his book The Grand Chessboard: American Primacy And Its Geostrategic Imperatives, he writes that the key to dominating the world is central Asia, with its strategic position between competing powers and immense oil and gas wealth. "To put it in terminology that harkens back to the more brutal age of ancient empires," he writes, one of "the grand imperatives of imperial geostrategy" is "to keep the barbarians from coming together".

Surveying the ashes of the Soviet Union he helped destroy, the guru mused more than once: so what if all this had created "a few stirred up Muslims"? On September 11 2001, "a few stirred up Muslims" provided the answer. I recently interviewed Brzezinski in Washington and he vehemently denied that his strategy precipitated the rise of al-Qaida: he blamed terrorism on the Russians.

When the Soviet Union finally collapsed, the chessboard was passed to the Clinton administration. The latest mutation of the mojahedin, the Taliban, now ruled Afghanistan. In 1997, US state department officials and executives of the Union Oil Company of California (Unocal) discreetly entertained Taliban leaders in Washington and Houston, Texas. They were entertained lavishly, with dinner parties at luxurious homes in Houston. They asked to be taken shopping at a Walmart and flown to tourist attractions, including the Kennedy Space Centre in Florida and Mount Rushmore in South Dakota, where they gazed upon the faces of American presidents chiselled in the rockface. The Wall Street Journal, bulletin of US power, effused, "The Taliban are the players most capable of achieving peace in Afghanistan at this moment in history."

In January 1997, a state department official told journalists in a private briefing that it was hoped Afghanistan would become an oil protectorate, "like Saudi Arabia". It was pointed out to him that Saudi Arabia had no democracy and persecuted women. "We can live with that," he said.

The American goal was now the realisation of a 60-year "dream" of building a pipeline from the former Soviet Caspian across Afghanistan to a deep-water port. The Taliban were offered 15 cents for every 1,000 cubic feet of gas that passed through Afghanistan. Although these were the Clinton years, pushing the deal were the "oil and gas junta" that was soon to dominate George W Bush`s regime. They included three former members of George Bush senior`s cabinet, such as the present vice-president, Dick Cheney, representing nine oil companies, and Condoleezza Rice, now national security adviser, then a director of Chevron-Texaco with special responsibility for Pakistan and Central Asia.

Peel the onion of this and you find Bush senior as a paid consultant of the huge Carlyle Group, whose 164 companies specialise in oil and gas and pipelines and weapons. His clients included a super-wealthy Saudi family, the Bin Ladens. (Within days of the September 11 attacks, the Bin Laden family was allowed to leave the US in high secrecy.)

The pipeline "dream" faded when two US embassies in east Africa were bombed and al-Qaida was blamed and the connection with Afghanistan was made. The usefulness of the Taliban was over; they had become an embarrassment and expendable. In October 2001, the Americans bombed back into power their old warlord friends, the "Northern Alliance". Today, with Afghanistan "liberated", the pipeline is finally going ahead, watched over by the US ambassador to Afghanistan, John J Maresca, formerly ofUnocal.

Since it overthrew the Taliban, the US has established 13 bases in the nine former Soviet central Asian countries that are Afghanistan`s resource-rich neighbours. Across the world, there is now an American military presence at the gateway to every major source of fossil fuel. Lord Curzon would never recognise his great game. It`s what the US Space Command calls "full spectrum dominance".

It is from the vast, Soviet-built base at Bagram, near Kabul, that the US controls the land route to the riches of the Caspian Basin. But, as in that other conquest, Iraq, all is not going smoothly. "We get shot at every time we go off base," said Colonel Rod Davis. "For us, that`s a combat zone out there."

I said to him, "But President Bush says you liberated Afghanistan. Why should people shoot at you?"

"Hostile elements are everywhere, my friend."

"Is that surprising, when you support murderous warlords?" I replied.

"We call them regional governors." (As "regional governors", warlords such as Ismail Khan in Herat are deemed part of Karzai`s national government - an uneasy juxtaposition. Karzai has pleaded with Khan to release millions of dollars of customs duty.)

The war that expelled the Taliban never stopped. Ten thousand US troops are stationed there; they go out in their helicopter gunships and Humvees and blow up caves in the mountains or they target a village, usually in the south-east. The Taliban are coming back in the Pashtun heartland and on the border with Pakistan. The level of the war is not independently known; US spokesmen such as Colonel Davis are the sources of news reports that say "50 Taliban fighters were killed by US forces". Afghanistan is now so dangerous that it is virtually impossible for reporters to find out.

The centre of US operations is now the "holding facility" at Bagram, where suspects are taken and interrogated. Two former prisoners, Abdul Jabar and Hakkim Shah, told the New York Times in March how as many as 100 prisoners were "made to stand hooded, their arms raised and chained to the ceiling, their feet shackled, unable to move for hours at a time, day and night". From here, many are shipped to the concentration camp at Guantanamo Bay.

They are denied all rights. The Red Cross has been allowed to inspect only part of the "holding facility"; Amnesty has been refused access altogether. In April last year, a Kabul taxi driver, Wasir Mohammad, whose family I interviewed, "dis-appeared" into Bagram after he inquired at a roadblock about the whereabouts of a friend who had been arrested. The friend has since been released, but Mohammad is now in a cage in Guantanamo Bay. A former minister of the interior in the Karzai government told me that Mohammad was in the wrong place at the wrong time: "He is innocent." Moreover, he had a record of standing up to the Taliban. It is likely that many of those incarcerated at Bagram and Guantanamo Bay were kidnapped for ransoms the Americans pay for suspects.

Why, I asked Colonel Davis, were the people in the "holding facility" not given the basic rights he would expect as an American taken prisoner by a foreign army. He replied: "The issue of prisoners of war is way off to the far left or the right depending on your perspective." This is the Kafkaesque world that Bush`s America has imprinted on the recently acquired additions to its empire, real and virtual, rising on new rubble in places where human life is not given the same value as those who perished at Ground Zero in New York. One such place is a village called Bibi Mahru, which was attacked by an American F16 almost two years ago during the war. The pilot dropped a MK82 "precision" 500lb bomb on a mud and stone house, where Orifa and her husband, Gul Ahmed, a carpet weaver, lived. The bomb killed all but Orifa and one son - eight members of her family, including six children. Two children in the next house were killed, too.

Her face engraved with grief and anger, Orifa told me how the bodies were laid out in front of the mosque, and the horrific state in which she found them. She spent the afternoon collecting body parts, "then bagging and naming them so they could be buried later on". She said a team of 11 Americans came and surveyed the crater where her home had stood. They noted the numbers on shrapnel and each interviewed her. Their translator gave her an envelope with $15 in dollar bills. Later, she was taken to the US embassy in Kabul by Rita Lasar, a New Yorker who had lost her brother in the Twin Towers and had gone to Afghanistan to protest about the bombing and comfort its victims. When Orifa tried to hand in a letter through the embassy gate, she was told, "Go away, you beggar."

In May last year, the Guardian published the result of an investigation by Jonathan Steele. He concluded that, in addition to up to 8,000 Afghans killed by American bombs, as many as 20,000 more may have died as an indirect consequence of Bush`s invasion, including those who fled their homes and were denied emergency relief in the middle of a drought. Of all the great humanitarian crises of recent years, no country has been helped less than Afghanistan. Bosnia, with a quarter of the population, received $356 per person; Afghanistan gets $42 per person. Only 3% of all international aid spent in Afghanistan has been for reconstruction; the US-led military "coalition" accounts for 84%, the rest is emergency aid. Last March, Karzai flew to Washington to beg for more money. He was promised extra money from private US investors. Of this, $35m will finance a proposed five-star hotel. As Bush said, "The Afghan people will know the generosity of America and its allies."

© John Pilger, 2003. John Pilger`s documentary, Breaking The Silence: Truth And Lies In The War On Terror, will be shown on ITV1 on Monday at 10.45pm.

Guardian Unlimited © Guardian Newspapers Limited 2003
20.09.03 10:35:58
Beitrag Nr. 7.064 ()
America`s rich get richer thanks to tax-cutting Bush
By Andrew Gumbel in Los Angeles
20 September 2003

America`s richest people have seen a 10 per cent increase in their net worth over the past year, the latest list of individual fortunes in Forbes magazine reveals.

The latest Forbes 400 list is further evidence that the affluent are thriving under President Bush even as unemployment continues to rise and the income of average workers remains stagnant.

The list, published yesterday, showed that Bill Gates of Microsoft remains the world`s richest man. He has spent ten years at the top and now has an estimated net worth of $46bn (£28bn), more than the GDP of most small or developing countries. The figure was up $3bn on last year`s.

Number two was the superstar investor Warren Buffett, with $36bn. Number three was Mr Gates` erstwhile founding partner at Microsoft, Paul Allen, with $22bn.

Forbes ascribed the fattening portfolios of the super-rich to the recovery of internet and other tech stocks after the dot-com meltdown of 2000-2001.

Jeff Bezos of the online retailer had the biggest percentage gain. His fortune leapt more than $3bn to $5.1bn. This was the first year the Forbes 400 saw an increase in their wealth after two straight years of decline.

Collectively, the top 400 were worth $955bn - a figure reached by computing the value of publicly traded stocks and estimating the value of private stocks by assessing a fair market value for them.

The improving fortunes of those on the list also reflected the largesse being shown to the richest Americans by the Bush administration.

They are the main beneficiaries of tax cuts that will pump $100bn into the economy - most of it into the pockets of the top 1 per cent - this year alone. They have also benefited from measures such as the repeal of estate taxes and the lifting of various government regulations on industry and large businesses.

Such economic benefits are being enjoyed on a highly unequal basis, according to the Economic Policy Institute, a Washington think-tank.

Unemployment stood at 6.2 per cent in July, the most recent figure available, or 10.2 per cent when broader indicators of under-employment and generally failing to make ends meet are factored in.

Real wages, which have grown about 2 per cent per year for the past several years, stopped growing entirely in 2002.

The disparity is perhaps best illustrated by the heirs of Sam Walton of the WalMart discount store empire. The five Walton children were valued at $20.5bn each in the Forbes list, making them the richest single family on Earth.

At the same time, WalMart is being lambasted - most notably in the California governor`s recall election - for paying its workers so poorly that personnel managers hand out information to new recruits on how to obtain government food stamps.

US Rich List

Bill Gates: $46bn

Warren Buffett: $36bn

Paul Allen: $22bn

Walton heirs: $20.5bn each

Larry Ellison: $18bn

Michael Dell: $13bn

Steve Ballmer: $12.2bn

Cox heirs: $11bn each

John Kluge: $10.5bn

Mars heirs: $10.4bn each

Sumner Redstone: $9.7bn

Source: Forbes
20 September 2003 10:34

© 2003 Independent Digital (UK) Ltd
20.09.03 10:37:36
Beitrag Nr. 7.065 ()
White House is ambushed by criticism from America`s military community
By Andrew Gumbel in Los Angeles
20 September 2003

George Bush probably owes his presidency to the absentee military voters who nudged his tally in Florida decisively past Al Gore`s. But now, with Iraq in chaos and the reasons for going to war there mired in controversy, an increasingly disgruntled military poses perhaps the gravest immediate threat to his political future, just one year before the presidential elections.

From Vietnam veterans to fresh young recruits, from seasoned officers to anxious mothers worried about their sons` safety on the streets of Baghdad and Fallujah, the military community is growing ever more vocal in its opposition to the White House.

"I once believed that I served for a cause: `To uphold and defend the Constitution of the United States`. Now I no longer believe that," Tim Predmore, a member of the 101st Airborne Division serving near Mosul, wrote in a blistering opinion piece this week for his home newspaper, the Peoria Journal Star in Illinois. "I can no longer justify my service for what I believe to be half-truths and bold lies."

The dissenters - many of whom have risked deep disapproval from the military establishment to voice their opinions - have set up websites with names such as Bring Them Home Now. They have cried foul at administration plans to cut veterans` benefits and scale back combat pay for troops still in Iraq. They were furious at President Bush for reacting to military deaths in Iraq with the phrase "bring `em on".

And they have given politically embarrassing prominence to such issues as the inefficiency of civilian contractors hired to provide shelter, water and food - many of them contributors to the Bush campaign coffers - and a mystery outbreak of respiratory illnesses that many soldiers, despite official denials, believe is related to the use of depleted uranium munitions.

"It is time to speak out because our troops are still dying and our government is still lying," Candace Robison, a 27-year-old mother of two from Krum, Texas, and a politically active serviceman`s wife, told a recent protest outside President Bush`s Texas ranch. "Morale is at an all-time low and our heroes feel like they`ve been forgotten."

How deep the anti-Bush sentiment runs is not yet clear, but there is no doubt about its breadth. Charlie Richardson, co-founder of a group called Military Families Speak Out, said: "Our supporters range from pacifists to people from long military traditions who have supported every war this country has ever fought - until this one.

"Many people supported this war at the beginning because they believed the threat from weapons of mass destruction and accepted the link between Saddam Hussein and al-Qa`ida ... Now they realise their beliefs were built on quicksand. They are very angry with the administration and feel they`ve been duped."

Most of the disgruntlement expressed in the field has of necessity been anonymous, so Tim Predmore`s counterblast in the Peoria Journal Star felt particularly powerful. Having been in the army for five years, he is just finishing his tour of duty in Iraq. He wrote that he now believes the Iraq war was about oil, not freedom, "an act not of justice but of hypocrisy.

"We have all faced death in Iraq without reason or justification," he added. "How many more must die? How many more tears must be shed before Americans awake and demand the return of the men and women whose job it is to protect them rather than their leader`s interest?"

Less visible, but no less passionate, has been the ongoing voicing of grievances over the internet. A prominent military affairs specialist, David Hackworth, keeps a website filled with angry reflections on conditions in Iraq for both the military and the local civilian population, and the government that put the troops there. "Imagine this bastard getting away with such crap if we had a draftee army," runs one typically scabrous anti-Bush line from Mr Hackworth.

More considered analysis is also available online, such as this reflection from a 23-year-old serving in the US Air Force, who wonders what the Iraq mess is going to do to the future of the US military: "The powers that be are destroying our military from the inside, especially our Army.

"How many of these people that are `stranded` (for lack of a better term) in Iraq are going to re-enlist? How many that haven`t deployed are going to re-enlist ... how many families are going to be destroyed?" he asked.

One big rallying point for the critics is the Pentagon`s budget plan, which proposes cutting $1.8 billion (£1.1bn) from veterans` health benefits and reducing combat pay from the current $225 a month to $150, which is where it stood until the Iraq war began in the spring. The budget will not be finalised until later this month, and the White House - embarrassed by editorials in the Army Times and by news stories in the mainstream press throughout America - says it won`t insist on the combat pay cutback.

Another rallying point is the lack of official explanation for more than 100 cases of respiratory illness in the Middle East. According to the Pentagon, 19 soldiers have required mechanical ventilation and two have died. Military personnel believe the use of depleted uranium may have played a part in this mystery illness.
20 September 2003 10:36

© 2003 Independent Digital (UK) Ltd
20.09.03 10:40:02
Beitrag Nr. 7.066 ()
Blair seeks agreement from European allies over role for UN in post-war Iraq
By Stephen Castle, Andrew Grice and Tony Paterson
20 September 2003

Tony Blair`s attempt to heal Europe`s deep political rift faces its moment of truth today as the leaders of Britain, France and Germany struggle to overcome differences over Iraq and EU defence.

Billed as a symbolic meeting of reconciliation, the summit between Mr Blair, Gerhard Schröder, the German Chancellor, and Jacques Chirac, the French President, is expected to involve tough negotiations.

The gathering in Berlin - the first three-way meeting since the Iraq war - is seen as an opportunity to make a fresh start after the bitter divisions caused by the invasion. France and Germany led opposition to the war in the Gulf, and Mr Blair`s relations with M. Chirac were plunged into acrimony.

With the stakes high, London tried to lower expectations yesterday. British officials played down hopes of a breakthrough on a new UN resolution on Iraq, despite signs of flexibility from Germany.

Instead, British officials hope there will be progress towards a broad agreement on the way ahead in Iraq. "A specific resolution was never going to be on the agenda," a British source said.

In an article in yesterday`s New York Times, Mr Schröder said Germany and the US had to work together to "win the peace" and pledged to offer substantial humanitarian aid and training for security forces to help form a democratic government in Baghdad. Mr Schröder`s remarks amounted to the clearest sign in more than a year of Germany`s determination to end its simmering row with America over Iraq.

"It is true that Germany and the United States disagreed on how best to deal with Saddam Hussein`s regime. There is no point in continuing this debate. We should now look forward to the future," Mr Schröder wrote. "We must work together to win the peace. The United Nations must play a central role. Germany is willing to provide humanitarian aid, to assist in the civilian and economic reconstruction of Iraq and to train Iraqi security forces."

Neither Washington nor London believes that the wording of a suitable UN resolution will be agreed by the time President George Bush addresses the UN General Assembly in New York next week. But Mr Blair will sound out the French and German leaders over the possible wording of the text.

Meanwhile, there remains a clear division on EU defence policy between France and Germany on the one hand, and the UK on the other. Mr Schröder and M. Chirac will put pressure on Mr Blair to dampen his opposition to plans by France, Germany, Belgium and Luxembourg to strengthen military ties. But the UK said the ideas, enshrined in a draft constitution for the EU, would undermine Nato and duplicate its functions.

Britain is hostile to a proposal for so-called "structured co-operation" by France, Germany, Belgium and Luxembourg. London argues that this would not be accessible to all EU nations, and would mean the "gang of four" could mount military operations in the name of the EU without consulting their allies.

Germany and France said that one clause in the draft treaty makes it clear that this could not happen and that such an eventuality is politically inconceivable. But the UK also opposes plans for a mutual defence pledge, arguing it could undermine Nato.

The talks come two weeks before EU leaders start negotiations on the draft EU constitution, drawn up by the former French president Valery Giscard d`Estaing. Tomorrow, Mr Blair will host talks with the Spanish Prime Minister, José Maria Aznar.
20 September 2003 10:38

© 2003 Independent Digital (UK) Ltd
20.09.03 10:42:20
Beitrag Nr. 7.067 ()
September 20, 2003
In Iraq, Demand Makes Security Growth Industry

BAGHDAD, Iraq, Sept. 19 — Politicians may have started negotiating a sweeping proposal to relieve American soldiers of their police duties, but many Iraqis are way ahead of their leaders. They gave up on the Americans some time ago and started paying for their own protection.

Some have turned to political militias, which have reappeared despite an American demand that they be disarmed, while others have turned to dozens of new private companies. Such companies were essentially illegal under Saddam Hussein, but in today`s Iraq, business executives now say "security" the way American executives once said "plastics."

The urge for self-protection began as soon as looters started rampaging under the gaze of American soldiers, and it flourished after American occupation officials ordered the populace to disarm while they retreated into fortresses guarded by tanks and Nepalese Gurkhas.

"We had militias ready to protect people, but the Americans came in and dissolved everything and created a power vacuum," said Adel Abdul Mahdi, a senior official in the main Shiite party, the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq. He is one of the architects of a plan devised this week to send the American troops back to their bases and turn over police duties to militias working with local civic and tribal leaders under the supervision of the national government.

"The soldiers and the police are not going to eliminate the remnants of Saddam Hussein," Mr. Abdul Mahdi said. "Only the local forces who know the Baathists can do that."

Mr. Abdul Mahdi estimated that there were at least 40,000 members of the various militias who could be put to work. Some of the more than 10,000 members of his party`s militia, the Badr Brigade, began providing armed security for pilgrims to the holy city of Najaf after a car bomb exploded outside a shrine there last month.

Leaders of the occupying forces have said they will not authorize independent militias for fear of civil war. But they have left open the possibility of militia members` working under the control of local and national government officials. In the Kurdish north, the autonomous region run by two political parties for the last decade, the parties` militiamen have been allowed to keep their guns and go on guarding buildings, and they have helped keep their region the safest part of Iraq.

American officials have said the rest of Iraq will become safer as they establish a national civil-defense force and put more trained policemen on the streets, but Iraqis remain skeptical. The police did not have a good reputation for controlling crime even when Mr. Hussein was their boss. Public order was maintained mainly through fear engendered by the secret police.

Now that the fear is gone, neighborhood merchants are pooling resources to hire their own security forces, and many prominent business executives and politicians have their own small armies of guards. When members of the Iraqi Governing Council complained that the American authorities were not offering them protection, one of the members, Ahmad Chalabi, provided it to his colleagues by sending some of his private guards.

Mr. Hussein, never one to tolerate competition, forbade private citizens to carry weapons, effectively outlawing the security industry. Now, it is one of Iraq`s great growth industries, with local companies often forming partnerships with the established foreign companies that are rushing into the market.

Some of the foreign companies are American, but in this industry the British empire still rules. For those who can afford it, like Asian corporate executives or American television crews, the muscle of choice is a $1,000-a-day veteran of the British special forces. For the rest, a trained Iraqi guard can be hired for $25 a day or less.

One two-month-old Baghdad company, Near East Security Services, already has 250 employees guarding embassies, museums, ministries, foreign-aid groups, corporations and other clients here. Its executives, noting that Mr. Hussein had a quarter of a million men in the army and police force doing routine security work, estimate that there is a need for 100,000 to 150,000 more security guards to supplement the 65,000-member police force planned by American officials.

American officials have doubled police salaries and are trying to create a professional force, but what works in the United States is not necessarily practical here. How, for instance, do you run a background check on someone whose records were destroyed by the looting of government buildings in April?

The best way to hire workers, said Paul Evans, a British special forces veteran who manages operations in Iraq for Janusian Security Risk Management, a British company, is to adopt local customs: instead of relying on background checks and aptitude tests, consult the local sheik.

"When a client asks me to provide security guards in an area, I tell the tribal leader I will hire only his men and I will pay them well," Mr. Evans said. "I still try to vet the men by looking at whatever records we can get, and I train them. But I need the sheik to assure their loyalty by putting his own reputation on the line. The Americans have got to learn to work with tribal leaders, because they have a lot more influence than any government officials."

Disorder is generally good for the security business, of course; Janusian markets its services with a brochure that shows a flaming gasoline bomb in midair and asks, "Should you have known things were going wrong?" But the recent bombings have sent some clients fleeing the country. Still, the security companies say business is brisk.

"Some people did leave Iraq after the U.N. bombing, but now we`re seeing more people wanting to come back with enhanced security," said Nicola Hudson of Control Risks Group, a British company that is one of the industry`s largest. "Also, the people who didn`t leave are asking us to take new looks at the way they move around, whether they need armored vehicles, whether the walls of their buildings need hardening and their windows need blast protection."

Why, when American soldiers are now the world`s premier fighting force, do British veterans dominate in the security industry? One reason is that British forces have long traditions in Iraq and other former outposts of the empire. Another is their decades of experience policing Northern Ireland.

"The American forces are well trained for fighting wars, but the British have more experience in internal security," said Paul Rees, managing director of Centurion, a British company with many American media companies as clients. "After dealing with terrorism in Northern Ireland, we`re used to operating in built-up areas."

American soldiers often seem to approach security as a form of warfare, especially at the palace in Baghdad used as the headquarters of the occupying forces. It is impossible for most people to get within hundreds of yards of the building, and those who make it past the barbed wire and tanks and American soldiers will run into yet another army, a private force of Gurkhas, the Nepalese-born soldiers who take an oath to the British throne.

"If you`re trying to deal with a local security situation, I`ll take a guard from the local sheik over a Gurkha any time," said Mr. Evans, the British security executive.

Mr. Abdul Mahdi said he and other political leaders had been asking the Americans to make better use of the expertise of Iraqis. "There should be guardians from the neighborhood recruited to do patrols," he said. "We need local ideas and practices. The Americans are safe inside their compounds and their tanks, but they have left the Iraqi people unarmed and insecure. Let the Americans take care of their own troops, and let us take care of ourselves."

Copyright 2003 The New York Times Company
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September 20, 2003
Clinton, on a Visit to Kosovo, Warns Against Getting Even

PRISTINA, Kosovo, Sept. 19 — Former President Bill Clinton was welcomed with acclaim here today, more than four years after NATO troops first entered this province, effectively ending two years of conflict and placing it under a United Nations mandate.

The visit was arranged so Mr. Clinton could receive an honorary degree and visit American soldiers serving with the United Nations peace-keeping force.

Hundreds of people lined the roadside and waved flags in greeting the former president on the four-and-a-half-mile journey from the airport to the center of the city.

Few other politicians could expect the same reception. Mr. Clinton, who last visited in 1999, is seen by the province`s ethnic Albanian majority as being responsible for ending Yugoslav rule in the province, and taking it effectively a step closer to independence. The city`s largest boulevard is named in his honor.

While four years of United Nations rule have brought comparative peace to the region, ethnic violence remains a problem. Attacks on the Serbian minority have increased in the last three months.

Mr. Clinton used his visit to warn Albanians that those seeking revenge for atrocities committed by Serbian and Yugoslav forces during the late 1990`s could hinder the prospects for independence. "Do you want to get even?" he asked an invited audience at Pristina University, "I hope not. My Bible says that vengeance belongs to God." He added that reconciliation was "the only way you can achieve a secure, stable and prosperous Kosovo."

Kosovo`s sovereignty has been in limbo since the end of the war. Security Council Resolution 1244, which established the United Nations administration, states that the province is still part of Yugoslavia. Its final status was to be tackled once the United Nations had established substantial self-autonomy.

Ethnic Albanian leaders and members of the Serbian government are preparing for preliminary talks on the province`s future later this month. Serbian leaders oppose any kind of move toward an independent state.

Mr. Clinton also used the occasion to add to the debate on American troop commitments in the Balkans saying, "I think we belong here until our job is finished."

His remarks follow the statement from the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, Gen. Richard B. Myers, that the Pentagon was reconsidering its troop deployments around the world, including the Balkans, because of the increased demands on American forces in Iraq and Afghanistan.

On Saturday, Mr. Clinton is to travel to Bosnia where he will attend a memorial service for 7,000 Bosnian Muslims massacred by Serbian forces in Srebrenica, the worst atrocity in Europe since World War II.

Copyright 2003 The New York Times Company
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September 20, 2003
Clark Explains Statement on Authorization for Iraq War

IOWA CITY, Sept. 19 — On the third day of his campaign, Gen. Wesley K. Clark struggled today to clarify his statement on Thursday that he would "probably" have voted for the Congressional resolution authorizing the invasion of Iraq.

General Clark, a former NATO commander who has retired from the Army, never denied making the statement in an interview with four reporters on his chartered plane. But he seemed stunned by the headlines that it generated, as supporters worried that he had undercut his position as an antiwar candidate with military bona fides.

"I never would have voted for war," he said here this afternoon in an interview and in response to a question after a lecture at the University of Iowa. "What I would have voted for is leverage. Leverage for the United States to avoid a war. That`s what we needed to avoid a war."

Speaking about the resolution on Thursday, General Clark said, "At the time, I probably would have voted for it, but I think that`s too simple a question."

He then added: "I don`t know if I would have or not. I`ve said it both ways, because when you get into this, what happens is you have to put yourself in a position. On balance, I probably would have voted for it."

His clarification, along with a slapped-together schedule in which he met few voters and offered no specifics on domestic issues, seemed to reflect the inexperience of the first-time candidate and disorganization in his nascent campaign.

His debut day in Iowa, whose early caucus is crucial to the Democratic Party`s nomination process, was barely a toe touch, with a brief diner stop and a pageant of 10-minute news media interviews crammed between private receptions surrounding the long-scheduled nonpolitical lecture, for which a foundation paid $25,000. (General Clark receives 80 percent.)

Despite his disappointment with reports of his airborne interview, including one in The New York Times, General Clark seemed as comfortable as could be in his new role as candidate, stopping frequently to slap shoulders as he strode across the university campus.

Although he considered a presidential race for a month, he balked at most questions, saying he would spend this weekend at home in Little Rock, Ark., working on policy positions. Among the issues he told voters he was not ready to discuss in detail were health care, education, employment, AIDS in Africa, the USA Patriot Act and medical marijuana. In interviews this afternoon, he referred to a talking-point tip sheet on the hot local issues of ethanol and farm subsidies.

"I don`t know enough to give you a comprehensive answer at this point," he said in response to a voter`s question about universal health insurance. "I know enough not to give you a comprehensive answer at this point."

Regarding a complicated proposal about financing AIDS research and prevention abroad, he said, "I`m not committing anything right now to anything, until I`ve got my economic facts and figures in order."

What he did say, over and over, was how happy he was to be in Iowa. He exulted over the egg white omelette a waitress put in front of him. "Now this is an Iowa breakfast!" the candidate said.

He also complimented a woman`s overalls, saying, "That`s a real Iowa outfit!"

He also said, "Some of my best friends from the military are from Iowa."

"I`ve been dying to get back to Iowa," General Clark said in the Hamburg Inn, which was packed with 50 supporters, many carrying "Draft Clark" placards edited to say "Elect Clark." "I want to learn this state and meet the people here, because I think you`re the very heart of America."

With his competitors counting down the 122 days until the Jan. 19 caucuses here, General Clark has a long chase in the Iowa ground game.

He has missed the summer trifecta of local Democratic politics: visiting the butter cow at the Iowa State Fair, marching in the Labor Day Parade in Des Moines and appearing at Senator Tom Harkin`s annual steak fry in a balloon field.

Former Gov. Howard Dean of Vermont has visited 79 of the 99 counties since he started campaigning in the state in February 2002. Representative Richard A. Gephardt of Missouri has virtually been a regular presence since 1988, when he won the Iowa caucuses in his first campaign for the White House. Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts has 12 field offices adorned with endorsements from 18 state legislators and 71 labor leaders.

Today was barely an Iowa introduction, with nary a town hall meeting or a house party.

"He didn`t say very much," said Hyman Joseph, who bore his bias on his shirt in the form of a Dean button. "Any of the other candidates would have taken 10 or 15 minutes of questions. Some people who are for Dean will give him a look. But I don`t know how long that look will be."

Robert Bork and Sally Mills, art historians who live in Iowa City, said they signed up with General Clark last week because he has the right combination of characteristics — "progressive and macho," Mr. Bork, 36, said — to beat President Bush.

"We were looking for a candidate who could stand out of the pack," Ms. Mills, 47, said.

"We think highly of Dean," Mr. Bork said. "We think highly of Kerry. We don`t think they can bring the pain to Bush."

Late starting or not, General Clark showed a natural knack for retail politics, holding long onto each shaken hand, complete with elbow grab, as he listened to concerns. The main event was a 45-minute lecture, sponsored by the law school.

He won several standing ovations and earned easy laughter for his quips about adjusting to retirement after having at his disposal a fleet of security guards with machine guns, along with military helicopters and a jet.

About Iraq, he said "There was never an imminent threat," and called the war "a major blunder."

"We`re not the sort of `you`re with us or against` kind of people," he said.

"We`re a come-and-join-with-us kind of people," he told a crowd of 1,000 in the main lounge of the Iowa Memorial Union. "Americans know in their hearts that you don`t make our country safer by erecting walls to keep others out. You make us safer by building bridges to reach out.

"We also have to recognize that force should be used only as a last resort, when all other means have failed."

Copyright 2003 The New York Times Company
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September 20, 2003
Listening to the Wrong Iraqi

Critics say the Bush administration had no plan for postwar Iraq. In fact, before the war, hundreds of Iraqis were involved in discussions with Washington about securing and stabilizing their country after military action. Today`s difficulties are not the result of a lack of foresight, but rather of poor judgment by civilians at the Pentagon who counted too much on the advice of one exile — Ahmad Chalabi of the Iraqi National Congress — and ignored the views of other, more reliable Iraqi leaders.

Last year the State Department, joined by 17 other federal agencies, put together the Future of Iraq Project, which was supposed to involve Iraqis from the country`s many ethnic and religious factions, including representatives from the exile community. The project had working groups on topics ranging from agriculture to the economy to new government structure. I was adviser to the democratic principles working group, which the Iraqis called the "mother of all working groups." Anticipating many of the problems playing out in Iraq today, participants worked on plans for maintaining security, restoring services and making the transition to democracy.

On security, the participants envisioned a key role for reformed elements of the Iraqi Army. They insisted on the dissolution of agencies involved in atrocities — like military intelligence and the secret police (the Mukhabarat) — and proposed setting up a body to investigate war crimes, prepare a "most wanted" list, and prosecute war criminals. They envisioned a military council vetting and then taking steps to professionalize the armed forces.

Representatives of the Iraqi National Congress, however, claimed to control a vast underground network that would rise in support of coalition forces to assist security and law enforcement. They insisted that the entire Iraqi Army be immediately disbanded. The Pentagon agreed, in the end leading many Iraqi soldiers who might otherwise have been willing to work with the coalition to take up arms against it. Mr. Chalabi`s promised network didn`t materialize, and the resulting power vacuum contributed to looting, sabotage and attacks against American forces.

The working group also emphasized winning hearts and minds of average Iraqis, largely through improving living conditions. It urged cooperation with Iraq`s existing technocracy to ensure the uninterrupted flow of water and electricity. Though civil servants and professionals for the most part were required to be Baath party members, the working group maintained that not all Baathists were war criminals. The group proposed so-called lustration laws to identify and remove officials who had committed atrocities.

On the other hand, the Iraqi National Congress was adamant that all former Baath party members were inherently complicit in war crimes. Siding with Mr. Chalabi, the coalition provisional authority decided that the Baath party would be banned, and dismissed many party members from their jobs. As a result millions of Iraqis are still without electricity and fresh water, necessities they could at least count on under the criminal regime of Saddam Hussein.

Most important, the working group insisted that all Iraqis needed a voice in the transition to a stable, democratic Iraq. Participants agreed that exiles alone could not speak for all Iraqis, and endorsed discussions with leaders inside and outside the country as the basis for constituting a legitimate and broadly representative transitional structure.

Before the London opposition conference in December, Mr. Chalabi lobbied the United States to appoint a government in exile, dominated by his partisans, to be installed in Baghdad at the moment of liberation. Concerned about legitimacy, the Bush administration ultimately rejected this proposal. Still, Mr. Chalabi`s supporters in Washington — particularly civilians in the Pentagon — relentlessly promoted him as Iraq`s future leader. Exceptional treatment included airlifting Mr. Chalabi and his American-trained 700-man paramilitary force to Nasariya in the middle of the war. He is now a member of the Iraqi Governing Council, serving as its president this month.

Why such devotion to a man whose prewar advice proved so misguided? For one thing, Mr. Chalabi has shown himself amenable to those in Washington who want to reshape the entire Middle East. They envision Iraq as a springboard for eliminating the Baath party in Syria, undermining the mullahs in Iran and enhancing American power across the region.

There are benefits to spreading democracy in the Middle East, but hegemonic ambitions are sabotaging the shorter-term project of turning Iraq into a viable state. The other day, a Sunni participant in the democratic principles working group told me he is reluctant to speak up about how its recommendations have been ignored lest criticism discourage the coalition. In frustration, he asked: "So this is liberation?"

The Iraqi people have suffered a generation of tyranny and deserve better. To succeed in Iraq, and be constructive elsewhere in the world, the Bush administration must listen to all voices, not just those that are ideologically compatible. Liberation cannot be imposed.

David L. Phillips is deputy director of the Center for Preventive Action at the Council on Foreign Relations.

Copyright 2003 The New York Times Company
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What the $87 Billion Speech Cost Bush
Polls May Indicate That TV Address Eroded President`s Support on Iraq

By Mike Allen
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, September 20, 2003; Page A02

President Bush has often used major speeches to bolster his standing with the public, but pollsters and political analysts have concluded that his recent prime-time address on Iraq may have had the opposite effect -- crystallizing doubts about his postwar plans and fueling worries about the cost.

A parade of polls taken since the Sept. 7 speech has found notable erosion in public approval for Bush`s handling of Iraq, with a minority of Americans supporting the $87 billion budget for reconstruction and the war on terrorism that he unveiled.

"If Bush and his advisers had been looking to this speech to rally American support for the president and for the war in Iraq, it failed," said Frank Newport, editor in chief of the Gallup poll. He said Bush`s speech may have cost him more support than it gained, "because it reminded the public both of the problems in Iraq and the cost."

Since the speech from the Cabinet Room, headlines on poll after poll have proved unnerving for many Republicans and encouraging for Democrats. "Bush Iraq Rating at New Low," said a CBS News poll taken Sept. 15 and Sept. 16. "Americans Split on Bush Request for $87 Billion," said a Fox News poll taken Sept. 9 and Sept. 10. A Gallup poll taken Sept 8 to 10 pointed to "increasingly negative perceptions about the situation in Iraq" and found the balance between Bush`s approval and disapproval ratings to be "the most negative of the administration."

A Washington Post-ABC News poll taken from Sept. 10 to Sept. 13 found that 55 percent of those surveyed said the Bush administration does not have a clear plan for the situation in Iraq, and 85 percent said they were concerned the United States will get bogged down in a long and costly peacekeeping mission.

Those results were disappointing to supporters who had watched Bush galvanize public opinion with his speech on Iraq at the United Nations on Sept. 12, 2002, stanching accounts of drift and infighting in his administration. Other addresses that gave Bush a lift included his address to Congress nine days after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, and his speech to the nation two nights before the Iraq war began last March.

Bush acknowledged this week that he was having trouble getting his message out. He told a roundtable of reporters from the Oregonian of Portland and other newspapers in swing states that he needs "to continue to explain to the American people why it`s important we succeed in Iraq."

"I know we`ve got a construction plan, and we`ll continue to explain it," Bush said. "Sometimes it`s hard to get through the filter. That`s why I gave the address from this room next door the other night, so I could explain directly to the American people what`s important. And I will continue to make the case."

Bush, whose aides say he eschews the nitty-gritty of politics, quibbled with the wording in one poll when he was asked about two polls that showed a majority of Americans opposed his $87 billion request to Congress. "If you look at the question, it`s kind of a strange question," he said, in what sources called a reference to a question that told respondents how much spending Congress had already approved.

Senior officials at Bush`s campaign said the declines in polls were no cause for alarm because they were not driven by the speech but instead were part of a natural decline from historic levels that Bush aides have long predicted.

A campaign official also pointed to a question in the Post-ABC News poll that showed the percentage of respondents who thought the war with Iraq was worth fighting had risen from 54 percent in a poll ending the day of the speech to 61 percent afterward.

White House officials point out that the address had a smaller audience than some other presidential speeches. Nielsen Media Research said the Sept. 7 address was seen by about 31.7 million viewers, compared with 62 million for this year`s State of the Union address, 55.8 million for his news conference on March 6 and 73.3 million for his ultimatum to Iraqi President Saddam Hussein.

"We didn`t put all our hopes into one speech," White House communications director Dan Bartlett said. "This is going to be a sustained commitment by the administration and the president to educate the public about the stakes in the war and why we are committed to prevailing."

A wide range of Republicans close to the White House said they do not blame the speech for Bush`s poll problems, and said they are not panicked about how he will fare in the 2004 election. "The speech had limited objectives," one official said. "The wolves were out, and the speech sucked some of the wind out of that."

But there was widespread agreement among these Republicans that the speech did little if anything to help steady his standing, which had been hurt by a stream of bad news from Iraq and disclosures about the administration`s handling of prewar intelligence.

Several of these Republicans complained about the decision to have Bush stand and read from a TelePrompTer instead of showing him seated and speaking more conversationally.

"Can you find anybody on Capitol Hill who thinks, `Boy, that really gave us momentum?` " one presidential adviser asked. "The setting was a failure. The linguistics were bad. The language was off. It wasn`t typical Bush language, and he should have been in front of a group. He isn`t at his best discussing the appropriations process."

George C. Edwards III, a Texas A&M political scientist whose book, "On Deaf Ears: The Limits of the Bully Pulpit," is being published this month, said he studied presidential speeches back to 1981 and found that they rarely produce a statistically significant change in approval ratings. But Edwards said Bush may have hurt his credibility by not acknowledging "that we didn`t have a very good plan, and that we`ve had more setbacks than we anticipated."

"Facing up to that, and then saying we really need to be persistent, would have been more credible, given all the things that are going on and that people are aware of," Edwards said.

© 2003 The Washington Post Company
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In Texas Senate, a Racial Outburst

By Lee Hockstader
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, September 20, 2003; Page A06

AUSTIN, Sept. 19 -- If not exactly a love fest, the Texas state Senate is, by tradition, a relatively sedate and collegial body whose members proclaim their love of consensus and take their seats to hear colleagues deliver speeches of "personal privilege."

So it was a measure of how incendiary the Texas fight over congressional redistricting has become when several of the chamber`s Democrats -- all but two of them black or Hispanic -- on Thursday denounced their all-white Republican brethren as racists, supremacists and bigots.

"The last time I was treated the way we were on the Senate floor was when I was about 6 years old when I first entered the first grade, and I was just a little Mexican boy who had his first taste of what white supremacy was like," said Sen. Frank L. Madla of San Antonio, heretofore regarded as a moderate to conservative.

Sen. Mario Gallegos Jr., a Democrat from an inner-city district in Houston, attacked a Republican colleague, Sen. Tommy Williams, who represents a wealthy suburban enclave north of Houston called the Woodlands.

"The people from the Woodlands did not elect me," Gallegos told reporters. "That`s a gated community. The nearest gated community to me in inner-city Houston is the county jail."

Ironically, the racially loaded outburst was triggered by what the majority Republicans regarded as a conciliatory gesture: Rather than imposing a threatened fine of $57,000 on each of 11 Democratic senators who fled the state for 45 days this summer to block progress on the GOP redistricting plan, the Republicans voted to place the Democrats on "probation."

Several Republicans said that should have laid the matter to rest. It didn`t.

"The very word `probation` to a senator is condescending and patronizing," said Harvey Kronberg, who edits an independent newsletter on Texas politics.

From the outset of their bitter fight over redistricting last spring, the Democrats have insisted that the Republican maps would disenfranchise minorities in Texas, who comprise nearly half the state`s population. They say the GOP`s goal -- to shift five or six congressional seats into the Republican column -- could be accomplished only by packing some blacks and Hispanics into "super-majority districts" while carving up other minority communities to dilute their electoral clout in districts that have elected liberal white Democrats to Congress.

"This is not particularly revolutionary -- the Democrats did it to Republicans a decade ago," Kronberg said. "They`d take Republican population centers and fracture them into predominantly Democratic districts. But Democrats doing it to Republicans was essentially a white-on-white battle; a decade later, Republicans doing it to Democrats becomes a white-on-color battle."

The Republicans, for their part, have not agreed among themselves on how to draw the lines on a new congressional district map. It may take a week or more, and heavy horse-trading, before they produce a plan. But they profess astonishment at being accused of racism, insisting that what they are up to is no more than aggressive partisanship.

"It has nothing to do with race, and I am offended at the insinuation that anything we`ve done has been racially motivated," said Sen. Craig Estes of Wichita Falls, in north Texas. "It`s Democratic spin to keep from facing the fact that all the citizens of Texas have elected mostly Republicans."

Republicans insist that any map they draw would produce at least as many black and Hispanic lawmakers as already serve in the U.S. House. Independent analysts agree that would be the case, noting that the courts would reject any map that is likely to eliminate a seat for a minority member of Congress.

"It may well turn out there will be some more opportunities for blacks or Hispanic Democrats to win seats in Congress," said Earl Black, a political scientist at Rice University in Houston. "It`s the white Anglos in the current congressional delegation who are the endangered species."

Still, having been forced into a corner by the Republicans who control the state legislature, the Democrats are sharpening their rhetorical swords.

"I was suspended from school in San Antonio as a little girl, and my offense was that I accidentally spoke Spanish in the playground," said Sen. Leticia Van De Putte, the Senate Democratic leader. "And so now as a senator, I stand up and try to represent my constituency and say these maps try to disenfranchise minority voters. It reopens those times in Texas history when African Americans and Hispanics would not be allowed in the political process."

© 2003 The Washington Post Company
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Baghdad, Birmingham and True Believers

By Colbert I. King

Saturday, September 20, 2003; Page A31

Count me among those who are having a little trouble keeping track of the Bush administration`s intentions in Iraq. It`s not the barrage of criticism from the antiwar crowd that`s throwing us off. It`s the administration itself. There are some folks, you see, who have this almost incorrigible inclination to take the administration at its word. And the word, sorry to say, keeps changing.

For starters, there`s the now familiar reason we launched the March invasion. An imminent threat from Saddam Hussein and his nasty weapons of mass destruction, we were told. No question, Hussein has them, said the administration. And we know where they are. To protect America and her friends from another surprise attack, we are going in to disarm him, with or without the United Nations. Right on, said those of us who took it on trust that when the administration said Hussein was armed and ready to strike, it was telling the truth.

Now we`re told we went to war because Hussein was a tyrant who killed lots of his own people, because Hussein was working on a nuclear bomb and conspiring with international terrorists, and, now, because Iraq is the first stop in a U.S. quest to transform the Middle East into a region more to our liking.

Bait-and-switch? Hush your mouth!

Remember this? We were assured there would be hugs and kisses in the streets of Baghdad when our troops marched in, and that with Saddam Hussein`s tyrannical infrastructure brought to ruin, the rule of law would prevail. Why then, since May 1, when President Bush declared major combat over, have 159 Americans been killed in Iraq? Where`s the love?

And this: When the administration was asked how our deficit-ridden America will pay for postwar reconstruction, we were told not to worry. Iraq sits astride the world`s second-largest oil reserves; Iraqi oil sales will pay the freight. Wonderful, wonderful, said the chorus of true believers once more.

Now comes word from the commander in chief that U.S. taxpayers will have to pony up $20.3 billion for Iraqi relief and reconstruction, including $900 million to -- get this -- pay for the sale of oil to Iraq. And that`s only the first installment on the more than $50 billion in reconstruction aid that the Bush administration says is needed to bring Iraq up to snuff. That`s not counting the billion a week necessary to keep U.S. troops on the ground.

They do know how to test the faithful.

Then there`s the Saddam Hussein-al Qaeda link. A Post poll found that nearly 70 percent of Americans believed it likely that the Iraqi regime had a hand in the 9/11 attacks. President Bush said this week that "we`ve had no evidence that Saddam Hussein was involved with September the 11th."


Where, pray tell, did the American people get that idea? Did not the president, decked out in a flight suit on the deck of the USS Abraham Lincoln, say to the assembled on May 1: "The battle of Iraq is one victory in a war on terror that began on Sept. 11, 2001 -- and still goes on"? Did Bush not add: "We`ve removed an ally of al Qaeda"? I ask again: Where did the American people get that idea?

If those flip-flops weren`t enough to send the assured to drink, along come the administration`s postwar strategists to push us over the edge.

Was it not national security adviser Condoleezza Rice who visited the National Association of Black Journalists` annual meeting in Dallas last month to remind us that we ought to side with the Iraqis who are seeking freedom? Yes, indeed.

Rice urged us, as it has been widely reported, to reject the "condescending voices" saying that Africans and Middle Easterners aren`t interested in freedom and are "culturally just not ready for freedom or they just aren`t ready for freedom`s responsibility." And just in case we missed her point, Rice injected race into the equation with this bit: "We`ve heard that [blacks aren`t ready] argument before, and we, more than any, as a people, should be ready to reject it. The view was wrong in 1963 in Birmingham, and it is wrong in 2003 in Baghdad and in the rest of the Middle East."

Frankly, if someone on the antiwar side said that the Iraqis weren`t ready for freedom, I missed it. But no matter. Rice`s point about singing freedom`s praises for everybody and rejecting the "they`re not ready" claim struck a chord with those who take her words to heart.

But wait a minute. What`s this I read in my Monday Post?

"They`re not ready for more power," said an administration official, referring to the U.S.-appointed, 25-member Iraqi Governing Council, which wants a quicker end to U.S. occupation and transfer of power. The Bush administration, reports The Post`s Rajiv Chandrasekaran, wants to retain ultimate control over Iraqi affairs well into next year, when a new constitution is to be ratified and an elected government is installed. (And if the constitution is rejected or Iraq`s elected leaders give the administration heartburn? Well, let`s not go there).

It`s hard to know what the administration really thinks of the Iraqis.

In an April 14 press briefing, Rice said that pre-Hussein Iraq was the economic strength of the Middle East; that present day Iraq has "an educated population, a sophisticated population" and that it has a "a pretty sophisticated bureaucracy." Only last week she told the Foreign Press Center that the Iraqi people, through the governing council, are developing a "political horizon and timetable for the establishment of a sovereign Iraq when they are capable and able to take on those responsibilities." But Secretary of State Colin Powell pooh-poohs the idea of an accelerated handover of sovereignty, preferring instead a "deliberate process" that leads to the handover of power to "a responsible government."

So are the Iraqis ready or are they about to get a taste of Birmingham 1963?

And as to whether the next Iraqi government is "responsible," who gets to decide: the Iraqis or George W. Bush?

The true believers need to know.

© 2003 The Washington Post Company
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20.09.03 12:05:47
Beitrag Nr. 7.080 ()
Volume 14, Issue 9. October 1, 2003.

Bush`s Saudi Connections
And why this is a crucial issue in 2004
Michael Steinberger

Saudi Arabia is the wellspring of radical Islam, its primary source of sustenance and inspiration. Yet, since September 11, the Bush administration has consistently ducked the truth about Riyadh`s role in nurturing terrorism -- and concealed the truth as well. Given the many business and personal ties binding the president, his family and his associates to the House of Saud, George W. Bush`s see-no-evildoer attitude toward the Saudis is a vulnerability just begging to be exploited by the Democrats. And they need to do so if they hope to recapture the presidency next year.

Unfortunately, apart from Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), who has been blasting the administration for months over its pusillanimous Saudi policy, the Democrats appear largely oblivious to the opportunity staring them in the eye. True, several Democratic presidential hopefuls, notably Howard Dean, have recently begun to include Saudi Arabia in their bill of particulars against Bush, but the criticism has been episodic and rather tepid.

The Democrats are instead pinning their hopes on the economy. They really seem to think it`s 1992 redux, and that now, as then, rising unemployment will prove to be the Bush-beater and their ticket back to the White House. However, with the amount of stimulus in the pipeline, the economy may not be all that weak a year down the road. And even if it is, the Democrats will not be able to send this Bush packing merely by howling about the number of jobs lost on his watch.

September 11 changed American politics. Voters care about foreign policy in a way that they haven`t in a long while. The Democrats had little to say about terrorism and national security during last year`s midterm elections, and they paid dearly at the polls as a result. Karl Rove plainly intends to wrap the president`s re-election bid in the black crape of 9-11, and unless the Democrats can convince the public that they can be trusted with homeland defense, they are almost surely headed for defeat. That`s the bad news. The good news is that the Saudi issue gives them a chance to demonstrate their mettle -- at Bush`s expense.

The incubatory role played by Saudi Arabia and the Wahhabite sect in fostering Islamic extremism is well documented. The desert kingdom leads the way in financing and inciting Muslim holy warriors the world over. How much of this is done with the complicity of the Saudi regime is unclear, but what is clear is that the royal family is a kleptocracy that has forestalled its own inevitable demise by redirecting domestic unrest outward. September 11 was a plot hatched by an exiled Saudi dissident, and 15 of the 19 hijackers were Saudis.

In the two years since 9-11, the Saudis have been an obstacle, not an ally, in the battle against Islamic terrorism. Sure, they`ve muzzled a few firebrand clerics and rounded up some lumpen Islamicists. But they`ve shown little inclination to stanch the flow of money from so-called charity organizations to al-Qaeda and other militant groups, and they`ve kept cooperation with the FBI and the CIA to a minimum.

The royal family`s many American mouthpieces assure us that the May 12 suicide bombing in Riyadh was a watershed -- that the Saudis now understand how dangerous al-Qaeda is and will henceforth be tripping over themselves to help us. That hope is delusional and illogical. The royal family is interested only in self-preservation, and joining the fight against terrorism in any meaningful way would be an act of suicide.

John O`Neill, the sadly prescient FBI counterterrorism expert who perished in the World Trade Center attack, understood long before 9-11 that the problem of "Islamofacism" was chiefly a Saudi one. "All the answers," he said, "everything needed to dismantle Osama bin Laden`s organization, can be found in Saudi Arabia." But that`s only if you`re willing to look, which Bush clearly is not. Indeed, he has protected the Saudis at every juncture.

The pattern was established within hours of the atrocities in New York and Washington, when Prince Bandar bin Sultan, the Saudi ambassador (long known as Bandar Bush because of his coziness with the first family), was permitted to spirit members of the bin Laden clan out of the United States before the FBI could properly interview them. Since then, the Department of Justice has impeded the lawsuit filed against the Saudi regime by the September 11 families; the White House blacked out the portions of a congressional report that detailed the Saudi role in 9-11, and everyone from the president on down has steadfastly insisted that the Saudis are paid-up members of the anti-terrorism posse.

Bush can spew all the frontier rhetoric he wishes, but in the case of the Saudis, his inaction speaks louder. Why he would rather undermine the war on terrorism than confront Riyadh is an interesting question, and it doesn`t require a particularly active imagination to wonder if there is more here than just oil and a bad case of realpolitik.

The links between the House of Bush and the House of Saud are deep, overlapping and notoriously opaque: the Saudi investment in the Carlyle Group, the private equity firm whose rainmakers include George Bush Senior; the Saudi bankrolling of Poppy`s presidential library; the lucrative contracts the Saudis doled out to Halliburton when Dick Cheney was at the company`s helm. The main law firm retained by the Saudis to defend them against the 9-11 families is Baker Botts -- as in James Baker, the Bush family consigliere. And, of course, there`s oil, the black glue connecting all these dots.

In short, the Bushies have profited mightily from a relationship with a foreign government that can be indirectly, perhaps even directly, implicated in the September 11 attacks and other terrorist incidents and that has been the driving force behind a worldwide jihad.

The administration`s coddling of the Saudis presents the Democrats with an opening the size of Texas, and they need to seize it. Bush is never more inarticulate and unconvincing than when on the defensive, and no subject is going to set him on his heels faster, and keep him there longer, than the Saudi question.

It wouldn`t take much for the Democrats to turn this issue into a political bonanza. Some sustained pot stirring by the presidential candidates and various party organs would arouse the interest of the press. Soon enough, all those media sleuths who so assiduously ransacked the lives of the Clintons would be shamed into finally giving the Bush-Saudi nexus the scrutiny it deserves, and in the flash of a news cycle, the president would have a problem. Who knows where it all might lead? There are still unanswered questions about the role Saudi money played in Bush Junior`s oil ventures; ditto the Iran-Contra scandal, which never quite caught up with Bush Senior. The possibilities seem endless.

Playing the Saudi card would be a hardball move, setting the stage for a bruising campaign. But Bush is no stranger to brass-knuckle tactics (just ask John McCain), and Republicans have been sliming Democrats for decades on issues of national security. A little retribution is long overdue, and the Democratic faithful are clearly in a fighting mood; using the Saudis as a cudgel to bash Bush would be a very effective way of channeling all that rage.

Nor could anyone justly accuse the Democrats of demagoguery; the Saudi issue is legitimate. The administration appears to have two sets of rules in the war on terrorism: one for the Saudis and one for everyone else. It`s fair to ask why (plenty of conservatives are), to plant that question in the minds of voters and to tell voters that things will be different with a Democrat in the White House.

Things need to be different. It is imperative that the United States end its dependence on Middle East oil and its dysfunctional relationship with the Saudi regime, a medieval theocracy headed for the proverbial dustbin, and rightly so. Robert Baer`s new book, Sleeping With the Devil: How Washington Sold Our Soul for Saudi Crude, meticulously details the odiousness of the royal family, and it is a mark of enduring shame that we ever crawled into bed with these characters.

Four more years of Bush will likely mean four more years of business as usual -- four more years of ignoring Saudi Arabia`s links to terrorism and its egregious human-rights record. On the stump and on the airwaves, the Democrats should be hammering home this point, giving the Saudis the bashing they so richly deserve and promising the American public a long-overdue reckoning with Riyadh.

Vilifying the Saudis would not just be good politics and good policy; it would be good for the Democratic soul. In pledging to free the United States from this pathetic entanglement, the Democrats would, in a sense, be reclaiming Woodrow Wilson from the Republicans generally and the neocons specifically. It used to be that the Democrats were the ethical standard-bearers in American foreign policy, committed to ensuring that the United States conducted itself in a manner consistent with its founding principles. But they have ceded the high ground of late. Disinterest in global affairs among the party`s rank-and-file, coupled with the economic emphasis of the Clinton years, has robbed the party of its traditional internationalist voice.

Excoriating Bush over his handling of relations with the Saudis and vowing to put abundant daylight between Washington and Riyadh would be a way of regaining that voice -- of making the Democrats once again synonymous with human-rights concerns and the quest for justice abroad. The Saudi issue is a winning one on every count for the Democrats, and they need to take advantage of it -- now.

Michael Steinberger
Copyright © 2003 by The American Prospect, Inc. Preferred Citation: Michael Steinberger, "Bush`s Saudi Connections," The American Prospect vol. 14 no. 9, October 1, 2003. This article may not be resold, reprinted, or redistributed for compensation of any kind without prior written permission from the author. Direct questions about permissions to
20.09.03 12:14:28
Beitrag Nr. 7.081 ()

The Cartoon Graveyard
Just the Cartoons Without the Commentary
Big Brother is watching you, hier aber gibt es 87 frische Cartoons zu betrachten. Achtung Nannsen Mindest-IQ beachten!
20.09.03 12:55:22
Beitrag Nr. 7.082 ()
September 19, 2003
Q&A: Islam and Democracy

From the Council on Foreign Relations, September 19, 2003

Is Islam compatible with democracy?

It can be. Millions of the world`s 1.4 billion Muslims live in democracies, ample proof that there is no inherent discord between the two ideas, most scholars say. But Islam, like almost all religious traditions, can be interpreted in different ways, and some interpretations--such as those favored by al Qaeda and less radical Islamists--conflict with democratic ideals. The validity of the different interpretations is a complex question debated by religious scholars.

Is Islam the reason many Muslim countries are not democratic?

Most scholars say no, and point to a mix of historical, cultural, economic, and political factors--and not Islam as a religion--to explain why democracy has failed to take root in many Muslim countries, especially in the Arab world. Recent Pew Global Attitudes surveys, in fact, show that majorities in the Arab world favor democracy as a form of government.

Which Muslim nations are considered democracies?

Most experts cite Turkey, Indonesia, Bangladesh, Mali, and Senegal as democracies. (Indonesia, with 196 million people, is the world`s largest Muslim nation). Other countries, such as Malaysia, Nigeria, and Iran, are nominally democratic, but to a greater or lesser extent lack many of the attributes of fully functioning democracies, such as protections for civil liberties and legitimate opposition parties. Most of the world`s 47 Muslim-majority nations conduct elections; some are relatively free and fair, some are not. In any case, elections alone do not make a country a democracy, according to most scholars.

Which countries in the Arab world are democratic?

The Arab world, home to 18 percent of the world`s Muslims, is a democracy-free zone, according to many scholars. Syria, Libya, Tunisia, and Saudi Arabia are the least democratic nations in the Arab world, according to a study by Daniel Brumberg of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. Other Arab nations fall somewhere between autocracy and democracy: they may have legislatures, labor unions, and political parties, but their ruling party, president, or king exercises final control. On a spectrum from most to least democratic, these countries are: Morocco, Kuwait, Jordan, Egypt, Bahrain, Algeria, Qatar, and Yemen. Lebanon was a fully functioning democracy in the early 1970`s, but years of civil war and conflict have transformed it into a more repressive nation.

How does the record of democracy in Muslim countries compare to that of other regions of the developing world?

Poorly. According to Freedom House, a nonprofit organization that tracks democracy worldwide, "the last 30 years have seen a trend diametrically opposite to the global trend toward political liberalization" in Muslim nations. This is particularly true for nations in the Arab world, many of which have taken steps backward in terms of political liberties and electoral democracy in the last 10 years. However, some scholars argue that the "democracy gap" that appears to separate Muslim nations from the rest of the world applies only to the Arab world. In other regions, argues Alfred Stepan in the July 2003 issue of Journal of Democracy, Muslim nations are on par with--or outpace--comparable non-Muslim developing nations in terms of civil liberties and free and fair elections.

What are the main reasons so few Muslim nations are democratic?

There are many, says Marc Plattner, the co-director of the International Forum for Democratic Studies at the National Endowment for Democracy. In the Arab world, for example, oil has been a factor, entrenching elites and slowing the development of market economies and the political freedoms that can accompany them. Tribalism and patriarchal social systems also play a role. Political manipulation of the Arab-Israeli conflict, in which Muslim leaders channel domestic unrest into criticism of Israel and the West, is also a factor. Other scholars point to additional issues: repression by monarchies and military governments; the lack of independent secular political parties; traditional mindsets that consider Western-style democracy a foreign, non-Islamic invention; an ideological obsession with unity; and a long-standing policy of U.S. and Western support for many autocrats in the Arab world.

Why have Western nations supported Arab autocrats?

Because they are friendly to Western interests, which mainly have to do with oil and other national security concerns. Another key reason has been the fear that, if autocrats fell, they would be replaced by radical regimes. The most powerful opposition to entrenched leaders in many Arab nations are Islamists, groups that embrace a political view of Islam and reject secular forms of government. In many cases, these groups are anti-Western in outlook; some advocate the use of violence to bring about change.

What are the religious ideals within Islam that could favor democracy?

The Koran, the holy book of Islam, contains a number of ideas that some Islamic scholars say support democratic ideals. One is shura, or consultative decision making. The other is ijma, or the principle of consensus. However, Muslim scholars disagree about whether these terms have political applications. Is shura obligatory or merely desirable? Binding or non-binding? Another powerful argument for democracy emerges from the principles in the constitution of Medina, which was written by the prophet Mohammed in 622 A.D, according to Muqtedar Khan, the director of international studies at Adrian College in Michigan. The document sets down the rules of the community of Medina, as agreed to by Muslims and Jews of the city--and grants equal rights to Jews and Muslims who follow its laws.

What are the religious ideals within Islam that may oppose democracy?

At core is the fact that in Islam, God is the giver of laws, and men have only limited autonomy to implement and enforce God`s laws. These laws, known as sharia, apply to all aspects of religious, political, social, and private life. Interpreted literally, they can clash with Western democratic ideals. An Islamic democracy has to navigate tensions created by Islam`s traditional rules, such as those that give lesser weight to women`s testimony in Islamic courts and those that dictate corporal punishment, such as death by stoning for female adulterers. Modern Islamic democracies have reinterpreted or chosen not to enforce some or all of these laws.

Some Muslim scholars argue against democracy because they see it as a system in which the whim of the majority is the source of law. The counterargument to this, says John O. Voll, professor of Islamic history at Georgetown University, is that all nations create laws--whether they are monarchies, dictatorships, or democracies. And in a democracy, more checks exist on man`s whim than in an autocracy.

Are these tensions delaying the acceptance of democracy?

In some countries, yes. But scholars differ about whether democracy for the Muslim world can wait until these theological questions are better resolved. "There`s an interesting argument happening among Muslims about sequencing," Plattner says. "Some say you first have to reinterpret Islam, then you can build a democracy. There are others who say that if you establish a democracy first, that`s the best way to get a reformation in Islam. It`s kind of a `chicken and egg` problem."

Are democratic interpretations of Islam gaining ground in the Muslim world?

So far, it`s difficult to know for sure. Among Muslim intellectuals, they are certainly having an impact, but "it`s not a political trend," Brumberg says. Liberal Islamists have had problems building an organized political base in the Muslim world, he adds--in part because they are often restricted from participating in politics by the same laws that ban more radical Islamist political parties. "Clearly, they haven`t been winning the population as a whole over," Plattner says.

Is the desire for democracy gaining ground?

It appears so, but at the same time support for organized Islamist parties with inherently anti-democratic views is also strong, Brumberg says. The complexity of the political situation in the Muslim world is reflected in the recent Pew survey, which found both that majorities in the nine predominately Muslim nations surveyed believe that democracy can work in their countries--and that Osama bin Laden is one of their three "most trusted" world leaders. Respondents also favored a prominent--in many cases expanded--role for Islam and religious leaders in national politics, but majorities in most countries also said they valued ideals associated with democracy, such as freedom of the press.

In many Arab nations, Brumberg says, Islamist parties command the support of between 35 percent and 40 percent of the population. "When people say they want democracy," he says, "you have to ask, `What would that mean? Whose interests would the democracy serve?`"

Copyright 2003
20.09.03 13:10:08
Beitrag Nr. 7.083 ()
September 19, 2003
Q&A: Bronson on Iraq, the road map, and Saudi Arabia

From the Council on Foreign Relations, September 19, 2003

Conditions in Iraq remain "very unpredictable, very dangerous," says Rachel Bronson, Olin Senior Fellow and Director of Middle East and Gulf Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations. That`s the result, she says, of the Bush administration`s failure to win international backing for the war. But she also chides the Europeans--and the French in particular--for blocking efforts to forge a postwar consensus.

On other Middle East issues, she urges the United States to make a clear declaration of its vision for peace between Palestinians and Israelis and says that a critical reconsideration of U.S.-Saudi relations is long overdue.

Bronson was interviewed by Bernard Gwertzman, consulting editor for, on September 18, 2003.

In our last interview, shortly before the end of the fighting in Iraq, you described the results of the Bush administration`s efforts to win Security Council backing for the war as "a diplomatic train wreck." Now, the United States is again seeking U.N. approval of another Iraq resolution. Have the "tracks" been cleared yet?

We are still sifting through the rubble of that original train wreck. Post-conflict Iraq would have been a lot easier to manage had there been international unity, rather than division. The United States didn`t work hard enough to make it happen. It let military timetables, rather than diplomatic prudence, drive the train. It was predictable that, even under the rosiest scenarios, Iraq would be very difficult for the United States to manage alone and that Iraq would be very expensive to reconstruct. The situation we see today is very unpredictable, very dangerous. It is not clear that postwar Iraq will be a success, that Iraq will see a better, more stable future. It might, but it is not a sure thing. A lot of heavy lifting needs to be done.

At this point, would getting a U.N. mandate and additional troops help much?

The Pentagon wants another division`s worth of troops. According to a convincing Congressional Budget Office report, the current U.S. military posture and operating tempo are unsustainable after March 2004. Something has to give. It is not necessarily a case of the more troops the better, but there is a certain number of troops that the United States thinks is required to make its presence sufficiently robust.

The United States is also under-resourced in terms of money. The president has just requested $15 billion for Iraqi reconstruction, as part of the $87 billion he`s asking from Congress. The White House itself estimates that Iraq needs between $50 billion and $75 billion. Those estimates are based on projections of petroleum revenue that oil experts think are probably high. In other words, the cost could be even higher than $50 billion to $75 billion. And right now, it looks as if the United States will arrive at a donor`s conference on Iraq in Madrid next month with very anemic funding support from its partners and allies.

No one`s made a substantial offer?

No. When the president earmarked $15 billion for reconstruction, I thought that was a serious number. Until recently, the United States was saying its contribution of $2.7 billion for reconstruction was enough. It was farcical, embarrassing. Had the Americans continued with that low-ball number, we--rightfully--would have been laughed out of the Madrid conference. Fifteen billion dollars is serious money. It`s the equivalent of what the United States put into Germany under the Marshall Plan.

Unfortunately, now the Europeans and Arab states are not coming up with serious money. I agree with Thomas Friedman of The New York Times--the Europeans, the French in particular, should be ashamed of themselves. I can understand arguing that they refuse to financially support an American policy they oppose. But what the French and other Europeans should be saying is, "If you do what we want at the Security Council, if you internationalize the Iraq mission, if you start thinking about a process to shift political control of the country back to the Iraqis, we will increase our funding, we will do something."

But the Europeans--and in particular the French, who are the authors of a joint French-German proposal--aren`t providing any incentives for the administration to listen to them. Neither side is helping themselves. The president has raised the possibility of a larger role for other countries in Iraq but still seems reluctant to cede authority. The French and others in the international community want a larger role but are not providing any reason for the United States to acquiesce. The Pakistanis and the Indians until recently were saying that a U.N. Security Council authorization would allow them to provide the troops. Now even they are backing away.

The Americans and the Europeans generally remain at loggerheads?

What the Europeans want, in many respects, is right. They want to internationalize this process. They want a plan, though the timetable in their proposal for shifting political authority to the Iraqis is too rapid. The basics of what they want, the United States should want, too: internationalization and a plan. But to the administration`s ears, it sounds as if the Europeans are demanding that the United States internationalize the mission and include them in the political process but they are refusing to pay anything or otherwise contribute. Such an unthoughtful and unhelpful diplomatic strategy frustrates those of us who think the mission should be internationalized. Maybe the Russian proposals will be more helpful. The Russians are much more important to the U.N. debate at the moment then are the French.

Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder said this week that Germany would help train Iraqi police and lend a hand restoring infrastructure. What do you think of the German position?

I have much more sympathy for the Germans than I do for others because they have been so active in Afghanistan. They didn`t support the U.S. Iraq policy but, demonstrating that they are not anti-American, they energetically backed U.S. policy in Afghanistan. They took charge of Afghan security and helped shift control of [the peacekeeping operation] to a NATO-led force. They have been very involved, even regarding Iraq--much of the U.S. military equipment ended up being shipped through Germany.

Will the Turks send troops?

The United States and the Turks are looking for ways to heal the rift that developed in the run-up to the Iraq war. Now that the United States is desperate to get others to contribute troops, Turkey, which has always wanted a role in Iraq, might be a natural partner. But the Iraqi view, which I think is legitimate, is that the neighbors--Turks, Iranians, Saudis--should not send troops.

Regarding the other pressing Mideast issue, in June, President Bush seemed enthusiastic about putting the full weight of the United States behind the road map peace plan. Now it seems the United States doesn`t want to get too involved.

The road map, which I was never very optimistic about, seems to have failed. I don`t think the president will now enter into anything new. The administration has so much on its plate, and it doesn`t have many new ideas on how to move forward on this. The trouble is, the United States has been focusing on process and allowing the parties to negotiate toward an end-point. Instead, the United States should announce its vision of an end-point and let the Israelis and Palestinians build a process to reach it.

What should the end-point be?

The only way to get a peace between these two parties is for the United States to declare its support for two states whose borders would follow the pre-war 1967 lines [in 1967, Israel took control of the West Bank, all of Jerusalem, the Gaza Strip, and other territory]; the division of Jerusalem; and a limited right of return that permitted Palestinian refugees to go back to Israel only in order to reunite families and offered settlement in Palestine or compensation to all others. This should be official U.S. policy.

Such a policy would slowly build constituencies on both sides for an alternative to what their leaders are providing. If the Israeli public felt that [Prime Minister] Ariel Sharon was blocking a legitimate deal, it would sweep him aside. [Palestinian Authority President] Yasir Arafat would support a deal if he felt that his constituents supported it. After all, he is a survivor. The United States can`t wait for him to build support. It should create it, despite him. This doesn`t imply sending force or imposing a peace. That would be a recipe for disaster.

What`s happened to the idea that a free Iraq could become a democracy and a beacon throughout the Middle East?

That was a very good idea, and I agreed with its premise. But achieving such goals will take years. The president should continue to talk about democracy and continue to insist upon it in Iraq. Promotion of democracy is a goal the United States should be supporting around the world; it is who we are and what we should be behind. But the administration made the prospect of Iraq`s democratic transformation sound so simple, as if it could happen next year, painlessly and effortlessly. If Iraq is moving in a positive direction, that will inspire hope in the rest of the region. If it is not, that will contribute to the dismay, disappointment, frustration, and radicalization of the Middle East.

Is there an easy solution to the crisis brewing over Iran`s nuclear program?

The problems of the Middle East will be solved only through transatlantic cooperation--Iran, Iraq, Israel-Palestine, all of it. Iran poses a very serious problem and the United States must have intense consultations with its European partners. They`re Iran`s trading partners; they`re the ones who have had contact with Tehran over the last 20 years. The good news is that U.S. and European views on Iran are starting to align.

How are U.S.-Saudi relations?

The basic premise of the U.S.-Saudi relationship has collapsed. Throughout the Cold War, Saudi Arabia was important to the United States because of its oil, because the United States wanted to keep it out of the hands of the Soviets, because of its geographic position, and because of its ideology. As a theocracy, it provided a natural antidote to communism. Today, the pillars of this relationship have fallen away, and it is not clear what this relationship is about except a crude exchange of security in return for oil. This arrangement is unacceptable to both the American public and the Saudi public. There needs to be a fundamental rethinking of this relationship.

On the terrorism front, something has happened, which is under-appreciated. The Saudis defined the May 12 bombings in Riyadh [that killed 34] as an attack against them. They have aggressively rounded up religious zealots, acknowledged al Qaeda`s presence in the kingdom, and broken up terror cells. If that bombing had occurred before September 11, I believe the Saudis would have swept it under the rug and done nothing. But they defined the May bombings as a major attack on Saudi Arabia, which allowed the crown prince to adopt some reforms--that the United States had been urging him to take--and portray them as a Saudi initiative. It took 18 months for the Saudis to respond to September 11.

Some good news at least?

A small silver lining in a very gray and cloudy area.

Copyright 2003
20.09.03 13:23:54
Beitrag Nr. 7.084 ()…

Iraqi Council`s Path Diverges From U.S. Plan
Representatives act without consulting the coalition authority, a sign of a power struggle.
By Alissa J. Rubin
Times Staff Writer

September 20, 2003

BAGHDAD — Cracks are emerging in the relationship between the U.S.-led Coalition Provisional Authority and the Iraqi Governing Council, suggesting that as the Iraqis gain more power they may well pursue policies that could undercut coalition efforts to install a democratic government here.

The unelected council members, appointed in consultation with the coalition, have begun acting preemptively, approving provisions and publicly floating proposals without discussing them with coalition leaders. Topics include ridding the government of many former members of Saddam Hussein`s Baath Party, remaking the nation`s security forces, outlining the criteria for Iraqi citizenship and prodding Americans to hand over power more quickly.

One proposal likely to be approved by the council envisions combining the militias of various factions as well as some members of the old regime`s police and military into a paramilitary force controlled by the Iraqi Interior Ministry — a move that coalition officials worry could create a host of problems.

"We know there is concern about the security situation — a concern the coalition shares," said Dan Senor, a spokesman for and advisor to coalition administrator L. Paul Bremer III.

"But we also have to ensure that when we leave Iraq, the security structure has a proper vetting process so that former Baathists and dead-enders and Mukhabarat [members of Hussein`s dreaded security force] don`t figure out a way to weasel back into the security structure," Senor said. "We also have to make sure that there is respect for human rights and a high standard of professionalism."

Some also fear a paramilitary force composed of fighters loyal to different political factions would attempt to divide power and territory across the country.

Such a force, as opposed to the Iraqi army currently being trained by international experts, could lead "to the fragmentation of the country, warlordism and civil war," said Gary Samore, director of studies for the London-based Institute for International Strategic Studies.

Under international law, the Governing Council`s recommendations must be approved by occupation officials before they go into effect, and Bremer has the power to veto the council`s proposals. But because the American goal is to hand over power to the interim council, it has been in Bremer`s interest to assent as much as possible to its proposals, and he has publicly said he expects he would never have to use his veto.

However, he has not yet approved the security initiative.

The council`s growing independence puts the Americans in a corner. Coalition officials are trying to prove to the world that they are sincere about giving Iraqis real power over their government, but they also want to ensure that the policies adopted are roughly compatible with those of a democratic government and the rule of law.

"The U.S. is in fact interested in handing over power, but they are concerned that the current contenders for power are not likely to be able to run the country effectively or democratically," Samore said.

The council members` bid for power comes at a time when the Americans can ill afford to confront them. France and Germany are pushing the Americans to hand over control to Iraqis quickly in order to win U.N. financial support and diplomatic backing for Iraq`s reconstruction — help the Americans sorely need.

While many Governing Council members` proposals are still in the formative stage, they have the backing of the five most powerful members of the body — those who represent established political organizations.

It is those five groups — the Iraqi National Congress, the Iraqi National Accord, the Kurdish Democratic Party, the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan and the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq — that have moved most aggressively on the security front, pushing to take responsibility from the Americans, a maneuver that would also hugely augment their own power.

Those council members are aware of the pressure on the Americans to give the Iraqis power and avoid confrontation, and are capitalizing on it, one coalition official said.

If an idea can gain enough currency before it reaches Bremer, it makes it harder for him to oppose it, especially with a U.N. debate on Iraq set to begin Tuesday.

For instance, on Sunday, the council approved a new law on de-Baathification and announced it publicly before reviewing the details with Bremer. The measure would not only remove a number of Iraqis from their jobs because they formerly held positions in the Baath Party — the organization through which Hussein maintained tight control over the nation — but also revoke exceptions made by Bremer in the de-Baathification order he issued in May. The new rules were announced earlier this week by a spokesman for the council`s current president, Ahmed Chalabi.

De-Baathification, the term used for the process of ridding government ministries and institutions of former Baath Party members, is a controversial policy. While many people support the idea, there are also many Iraqis who became Baathists only to be able to feed their families. They feel such policies have unfairly punished them for simply doing what it took to scrabble together a living.

Bremer is trying to soften the proposal — for practical reasons — but is limited in the changes he can make without giving the impression that he is second-guessing the council`s authority over a policy that has to do almost entirely with internal Iraqi politics. Bremer`s concern is that under the council-authored de-Baathification, many teachers would lose their jobs, making it difficult to reopen schools two weeks from now, said Saad Shakir, a top advisor to council member Adnan Pachachi.

"Bremer asked only that we take into consideration that if we go ahead, half of the teachers will not be able to come to their post in two weeks," Shakir said.

The biggest fight on the horizon is over the council`s effort to take responsibility for security from the Americans. Security is the single most important issue to most Iraqis and is also the key to power in a country where virtually every citizen is armed.

Under a proposal now being discussed by the council`s security committee, which includes the five key political parties, a paramilitary force, supplied with helicopters, tanks and other equipment, would act as a quick reaction force when there are problems but also would take preemptive steps to stop crimes before they happened, said Safeen Dizayee, the chief representative on foreign relations for the Kurdish Democratic Party.

He described the new force as a sort of "gendarmerie" that initially would be made up of "people from the major [political] groups that have their own units that they can contribute."

The advantage, he said, is that with U.S. soldiers being killed almost every day while on patrol, an Iraqi security force could quickly serve as a replacement for protecting the country.

The more Iraqi faces on the streets, Dizayee said, "the more the coalition can return to its barracks."

At the same time, a paramilitary force is also an attractive option to the Iraqi political parties because by incorporating their military wings into the government, they would be in a better position to maintain some power as they compete for political control over Iraq in coming years. In past Iraqi governments, the Interior Ministry was a key power base, and a paramilitary force would ensure that the parties have people loyal to them firmly planted there. By contrast, the national military and police would be loyal to Iraq`s leader.

Three of the parties on the Governing Council already have militias — the two Kurdish groups and the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq, a Shiite Muslim group. The Iraqi National Congress has small cadres of armed men, and the Iraqi National Accord, which has long been backed by the CIA, according to Bush administration officials, is thought to be able to muster some armed men.

Recently appointed Interior Minister Nouri Badran, a Shiite, is an official of the Iraqi National Accord.

Dizayee said he thought the groups would work together well, but others on the council worry that such a force would undermine the role of the national police and military.

"I don`t agree with any kind of militia because it will divide the people; we should have one police force, one power structure," Shakir said.

How the coalition copes with the latest efforts by the council`s major parties to augment their power remains to be seen, but it appears all but certain that the next several months will be a constant struggle between the council and the coalition.

"Bremer is trying to give them authority ... but he doesn`t want to lose control," said Rachel Bronson, director of Middle East studies at the Council on Foreign Relations. "There`s a natural power struggle built into the relationship, but the coalition also knows that if you transfer too quickly to local power, you end up with factions fighting over power-sharing rather than having a debate about how to rebuild the country." `The U.S. is in fact interested in handing over power, but they are concerned that the current contenders for power are not likely to be able to run the country effectively or democratically.`

Gary Samore, Institute for International Strategic Studies

Copyright 2003 Los Angeles Times
20.09.03 13:27:27
Beitrag Nr. 7.085 ()…

Al Qaeda`s Stealth Weapons
Muslim converts who are drawn to fanaticism pose special dangers well beyond their symbolic impact. `The blue-eyed emir` is one example.
By Sebastian Rotella
Times Staff Writer

September 20, 2003

CHAMBLES, France — The convicted terrorist has a hard-core moniker: "the blue-eyed emir of Tangier."

But Pierre Richard Robert was once a French country boy, an athletic blond teenager living in a house built by his father among pastures here in the Loire region.

Robert liked drinking and fast bikes more than school. He got interested in Islam when he played soccer at the Turkish cultural center in a neighboring industrial town. He said he wanted to convert because Allah watched over him as he sped downhill into town on his bicycle.

"I told him it`s not like changing shirts," said Ibrahim Tekeli, a leader of the Turkish community. "The imam told him, `I want you to reflect and talk to your family first.` But Richard said: `I`ve already reflected For months before I made my decision, I would run the red light on the big hill every day going real fast. I would always pray to Allah to protect me. And I never got hit by a car.` "

Fourteen years later, though, Robert has hit bottom. A Moroccan court sentenced him to life in prison Thursday after convicting him of recruiting and training Moroccan extremists for a terrorist campaign.

He joins an unlikely group of men with non-Muslim backgrounds that includes Richard Reid, the British "shoe bomber" convicted of trying to blow up an airliner; American Jose Padilla, an alleged Al Qaeda operative being held as an enemy combatant; and Christian Ganczarski, a German convert arrested in June by French police.

Robert and Ganczarski were not just foot soldiers, investigators say. They represent a dangerous trend as police chop away at Islamic networks two years after the Sept. 11 attacks: converts who assume front-line roles as recruiters and plotters.

The number of converts has grown as Islamic militants have struck a chord with young Europeans from non-Muslim backgrounds. These "protest conversions," as scholar Olivier Roy calls them, have less to do with theology than with a revolutionary zeal dating to Europe`s ultra-left terrorist groups of the 1970s and `80s.

"The young people in working-class urban areas are against the system, and converting to Islam is the ultimate way to challenge the system," said Roy, a director of the National Center for Scientific Research in Paris. "They convert to stick it to their parents, to their principal They convert in the same way people in the 1970s went to Bolivia or Vietnam. I see a very European tradition of identifying with a Third World cause."

As demographics and immigration propel Islam`s spread in Europe, the number of French converts — the vast majority of them law-abiding — has increased steadily to about 100,000, Roy said.

Extremists of European descent worry police for the same reasons that Al Qaeda prizes them: their symbolic value, their Western passports and their fanaticism.

"Converts are the most important work for us right now," a French intelligence official said. "They want to show other Muslims their worth. They want to go further than anyone else. They are full of rage and they want to prove themselves."

The rise of the converts actually may be a sign of Al Qaeda`s weakness, a need to fill a vacuum as leaders are hunted down. The limited hierarchy of Islamic networks can make leadership a question of circumstance and initiative. A Spanish investigator said Al Qaeda has "many soldiers, some sergeants and the generals."

Ganczarski and Robert were no generals, but they allegedly stepped up to plot attacks and recruit. And investigators say Ganczarski, 36, became a pivotal figure in Europe during the post-Sept. 11 period because of his alleged ties to Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, Al Qaeda`s now-imprisoned operational boss, who turned increasingly to converts while on the run.

Ganczarski is being held in a French jail as a suspected conspirator in the bombing of a Tunisian synagogue that killed 21 people, including French tourists, in April 2002.

Investigators say Mohammed controlled the plot from Pakistan despite the vigilance of U.S. spy satellites that intercepted some of his coded conversations with accomplices. To elude detection, he used non-Arabs in Europe to support the Tunisian suicide bomber, Nizar Nawar, police say.

On the day Nawar blew himself up in a truck-bomb at the historic synagogue on the island of Djerba, he called Mohammed in Pakistan, investigators say, and Ganczarski`s home in Duisburg, Germany. A German wiretap recorded the latter call: As if addressing a mentor, Nawar asked Ganczarski for a blessing, investigators say.

Although the Germans lacked proof to arrest Ganczarski, who denied involvement in the attack, the widening investigation soon involved French, Spanish and Swiss police. It revealed Ganczarski`s access to Al Qaeda`s "hard core," in the words of a Swiss intelligence report dated last December.

Ganczarski called Mohammed`s Swiss cell phone in Pakistan "numerous times" in the months before the Djerba attack, according to the report.

The phone call intercepts also pointed to a Swiss convert, Daniel "Yusuf" Morgenej, who had befriended the German in Saudi Arabia, authorities say. Swiss police questioned and released Morgenej. But Spanish and French investigators say he and Ganczarski remain suspected links in an intricate chain leading to the plot`s accused money man, a Spanish exporter.

Moreover, the Djerba plot appears to have been part of a larger effort led by Mohammed to deploy converts. Padilla, the American who allegedly schemed to set off a radioactive bomb, was arrested in Chicago in May 2002 after arriving from Switzerland. In the preceding weeks, Padilla placed four calls to the same phone number for Mohammed that Ganczarski had called, according to the Swiss intelligence report.

Ganczarski was born in Gleiwitz, Poland. His family moved to Germany when he was 9. He dropped out of school and found work as a metallurgist in the Ruhr Valley. It was on the shop floor that a fellow immigrant, a North African, introduced him to the Koran, officials say.

"Ever since his youth, it appears he was greatly preoccupied with questions of faith," said a senior French law enforcement official.

His radicalization accelerated when he met a Saudi cleric visiting European mosques in search of Western-born acolytes. In 1992, Ganczarski received a scholarship to attend an Islamic university in Medina, Saudi Arabia, the senior official said.

Ganczarski spent three frustrating years in Medina. He took special courses to overcome his lack of schooling, but failed to enter the university, the senior official said. Yet his zeal did not seem to waver.

He traveled to Afghanistan in 1998 — the first of four sojourns — trained at an Al Qaeda camp and saw combat there and in Russia`s breakaway republic of Chechnya, officials say.

Ganczarski met Osama bin Laden and other Al Qaeda leaders, who entrusted him with handling computers and communications, the senior official said. Bin Laden saw converts as "an especially potent weapon," the official said.

Returning from Afghanistan after the Sept. 11 attacks, Ganczarski persisted in trying to organize plots even after the Tunisian case drew attention to him, officials say.

An alleged accomplice from Duisburg has told French interrogators that Ganczarski began preparations for an attack on the U.S. Embassy in Paris. Karim Mehdi said the two explored a technique developed by Mohammed in Afghanistan. It involved packing model planes with 3 or 4 kilos of explosives and diving them into a building by remote control, according to the senior French official.

"They got as far as acquiring material," the official said. "They did a lot of research on planes in Germany. You can pilot these planes from a mile away. The embassy is a double target — you hit the French and Americans in one blow."

U.S. officials declined to comment, citing a policy of not discussing threats to embassies.

Mehdi also admitted scouting targets for a planned car bombing at tourist sites on Reunion island, a French territory in the Indian Ocean, officials say. Mehdi said Ganczarski was an "organizer and the financier" of the plot, according to French Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy, who described the German as "a high-ranking member of Al Qaeda."

Ganczarski found refuge for a time in Saudi Arabia, where he took his family last November. But after this year`s terrorist attacks on expatriate compounds in Riyadh put pressure on the Saudis, they expelled him to France. Under tough anti-terrorism laws, Judge Jean-Louis Bruguiere has accused Ganczarski in the Djerba attack based on his alleged ties to the plotters, and has at least two years to bring him to trial. Authorities are also interested in the fact that Ganczarski had phone numbers for two imprisoned members of the Hamburg cell that planned the Sept. 11 attacks.

Ganczarski`s alleged access to the inner circle is not surprising. Al Qaeda has embraced true believers regardless of ethnicity. Just as many converts marry Muslim women, some terrorism suspects of Arab origin have European wives, who often equal them in ideological ferocity.

"The Ganczarskis, the Roberts, they show that the radicalization is here, not just in the Middle East," said Roy, the French scholar. If Al Qaeda`s urbanized, globalized jihad continues to attract angry Europeans, the network could gain a "second wind," he said.

Robert, 31, could be a case in point. Like Ganczarski, the Frenchman represents a breed of blue-collar convert — neither jailhouse recruit nor university radical.

He grew up in the French hamlet of Chambles. His studies ended at Anne Frank Middle School in Andrezieux, the industrial town just down the hill where his father worked at a glass factory. The teenager made Turkish friends doing spot jobs in textile plants and playing in the Turkish soccer league, which was popular with French and immigrant youths because it used the best field in town.

The Turks of Andrezieux, who describe themselves as moderate Muslims, remember Robert as a silent kid crouching off by himself in the mosque. Like many converts, he had struggled with "drinking, stupid things" and yearned for discipline and purpose, said Tekeli, 35, a veteran union activist.

"In Europe you have everything you need: work, health benefits, family," he said. "Yet something is missing. People find it in religion. And Islam is the religion that is growing. The French young people are more open than their parents."

Robert`s stunned father called his change of faith "a betrayal," Tekeli said. But when Robert turned 18 and decided to study Islam in Turkey, his parents paid for the trip. Robert traveled to Konya, a center of tourism and religion that is a magnet for European converts.

When Robert returned to France in 1992, the French intelligence official said, he complained that Turkey was "too secular."

He went to Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and Afghanistan, where in the mid-1990s he trained at a camp run by Al Qaeda, according to French and Spanish investigators.

He also married a Moroccan woman and began wandering between Europe and Morocco. They came to Chambles for an extended stay about seven years ago, living at his parents` house before renting apartments around the nearby city of St. Etienne, a fading landscape of shuttered arms factories and abandoned coal mines.

Robert had acquired a beard, traditional Islamic garb and the name Yacub. During visits in 1999 and 2000 to an Islamic bookstore in St. Etienne, he impressed the manager with his Arabic and his religious knowledge.

"He knew more than me," said the manager, Ahmed Abdelouadoud.

Robert`s aggressive ideas caused conflict even at fundamentalist mosques, the intelligence official said. He became an itinerant late-night preacher in housing projects, Tekeli said.

He also got involved in the used-car racket in which Islamic extremists are active, buying cars in Europe for resale in Morocco. In 1998, he was jailed in Belgium on suspicion of auto theft.

That was nothing compared with his clandestine activity in Tangier, the Moroccan smuggling haven where Robert, by then a father of two, spent most of his time the last two years. He was convicted Thursday of recruiting several dozen young men for terrorist cells he set up in Tangier and Fez.

Robert`s Al Qaeda credentials crossed cultural borders: The group made him its "emir." He led weapons training sessions in forests and deserts, according to the court`s verdict.

Then came the May 16 suicide bombings that killed 45 people in Casablanca, the worst attack ever in Morocco, a kingdom that prides itself on its relative tolerance. Police rounded up hundreds of extremists, catching Robert in a forest at the wheel of a pickup truck with fake Dutch plates.

Authorities charged that he served as a leader of a network that had planned a coming wave of attacks on tourist and commercial targets. After initially confessing, Robert denied it all and said he had been tortured because police needed a foreign fall guy.

"I am the victim of a frame-up by the security services," he said in a statement relayed by his lawyer.

Robert also testified during his trial that he had worked as an informant for French intelligence, a claim French officials denied.

Investigators say Robert was part of a strategy of "training the trainers" — a model of how an increasingly decentralized Al Qaeda will function. The network exported terrorism to Morocco through a handful of recruiters who quickly whipped locals into killing shape, officials say.

Robert also wanted to bring his war home to France, police say. He and Abdulaziz Benayich, a die-hard holy warrior with longtime ties to European terrorist cells, schemed about using a bazooka or rocket-propelled grenade on targets including a giant refinery and a plutonium shipment near Lyon, about an hour from Robert`s hometown, investigators say.

When Spanish police captured Benayich in June in Algeciras, across the strait of Gibraltar from Morocco, he had shaved off his body hair — as is done in a purification ritual that precedes suicide attacks.

"He was preparing for an attack," a Spanish police commander said. "Benayich is very dangerous."

Although some French officials feel Robert`s threat has been exaggerated, he narrowly avoided the death penalty that was requested by prosecutors.

His old friends have watched the news reports. Robert looked exhausted in court, a pale figure surrounded by guards. He had shaved his beard. One day he wore the red and yellow jersey of Galatasaray, a Turkish soccer team.

At that moment, the "blue-eyed emir" resembled the 17-year-old his friends remember: crouched over the handlebars on his way to town, praying to Allah, gathering speed.

Copyright 2003 Los Angeles Times
20.09.03 13:41:18
Beitrag Nr. 7.086 ()…

Promises, Promises

September 20, 2003

George W. Bush is hardly the first president to say one thing and do something else. Like his predecessors, Bush strode into the Oval Office clutching a sheaf of spending proposals to tackle the nation`s ills. But even before the budget surplus morphed into a gargantuan deficit, a distressingly large gap opened between Bush`s photo-op pledges and his dollars-and-cents proposals. Now that gap looks more like an abyss.

Middle-class voters who gnash their teeth over indifferent teachers and decrepit schoolhouses loudly cheered Bush`s No Child Left Behind Act. Signed in January 2002, the measure requires states to test students` reading and math skills yearly and fix dysfunctional schools. Yet although federal education spending is up, it is falling way short of what states need to comply with the law. Meanwhile, Bush wants to siphon off $75 million for vouchers that parents could use for private schools.

As a candidate, Bush promised to spruce up decaying national park facilities, and he has said he earmarked $2.9 billion from 2002 through 2004, a 132% increase for the huge repair backlog. But a National Park Service official testified in July that only $200 million to $300 million of this was new money.

Standing by the rubble of the World Trade Center two years ago, Bush promised to make domestic security his first priority. Last year Congress appropriated millions for airport screening, FBI counter-terrorism technology and measures to safeguard food and water supplies. But Bush froze the bulk of these funds, urging "fiscal restraint." He sought no increase in funding for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention despite anthrax attacks and bioterrorism threats. The CDC finished its urgently needed emergency operations center only after Home Depot co-founder Bernard Marcus kicked in the final $4 million. The building now bears his name. Some penny-pinching is in order as the deficit grows, but first Bush should stretch out his tax cuts and drop his efforts to make them permanent.

The latest promise to tumble into the credibility canyon involves AIDS prevention and treatment. At home and on his Africa tour in July, Bush justly trumpeted his January pledge of $15 billion over the next five years. Now the administration is holding back and privately urging congressional allies to cut the president`s program.

This shell game began before the towers fell in New York, before the economy slid into red ink. As it continues, Bush risks not just his personal credibility but the nation`s security, economic future and natural resources.

Copyright 2003 Los Angeles Times
20.09.03 13:56:19
Beitrag Nr. 7.087 ()
U.S. Soldier Kills Baghdad Tiger After Attack - Zoo
Sat September 20, 2003 07:37 AM ET
BAGHDAD (Reuters) - A U.S. soldier shot dead a rare Bengal tiger at Baghdad zoo after the animal injured a colleague who was trying to feed it through the cage bars, the zoo`s manager said on Saturday.
Adil Salman Mousa told Reuters a group of U.S. soldiers were having a party in the zoo on Thursday night, after it had closed.

"Someone was trying to feed the tigers," he said. "The tiger bit his finger off and clawed his arm. So his colleague took a gun and shot the tiger."

The night watchman said the soldiers had arrived in military vehicles but were casually dressed and were drinking beer.

There was no immediate U.S. comment.

At the tiger`s now-empty cage, pools of blood showed that the soldier passed through a first cage intended only for keepers and was standing right up against the inner cage`s narrow bars.

Mousa said U.S. officials came to see him on Friday to discuss the incident.

The tiger was one of two in the zoo -- once the largest in the Middle East, today a decrepit collection of dirty cages and sad-looking animals.

In April, U.S. soldiers killed four lions that had escaped from the zoo. Hundreds of other animals were stolen or let loose by looters in the aftermath of the U.S. invasion of the Iraqi capital.
20.09.03 16:05:34
Beitrag Nr. 7.088 ()
20.09.03 16:29:01
Beitrag Nr. 7.089 ()

Die Jagd nach dem Scheich

In den Kiefernwäldern der Provinz Kunar vermuten Geheimdienste aus aller Welt Osama Bin Laden. Kaum befahrbare Straßen und die Nähe zu Pakistan machen die Gegend zu einem perfekten Versteck. Der Mann, der im Auftrag Kabuls nach dem Terrorchef fahndet, ist selbst ein Gejagter.

In den Hotels von Kabul treffen sich Agenten aller Herren Länder. Jede Nation scheint ihre eigenen Geheimdienstler an den Hindukusch entsandt zu haben. Konkurrenz belebt das Geschäft. Südafrikaner fragen aus, wer immer ihnen über den Weg läuft. Australier ohne erkennbare Profession recherchieren fleißig, und es bleibt unklar, für wen.

Auch der türkische Geheimdienst Milli Istihbarat Teskilati hat seinen Mann an die unsichtbare Front im Kampf gegen den Terrorismus geschickt. Seine Tarnung ist allerdings so schlecht, dass er bald von den Bewohnern der Pension im Stadtteil Schahr-inaw nur noch "der Türke" genannt wird.

Die Regierung in Ankara zeigt immer noch reges Interesse an Afghanistan. Fast acht Monate lang leiteten türkische Generäle die Internationale Schutztruppe.

Der Türke hält stets seine Ohren offen, setzt sich am liebsten in die Nähe von Journalisten, die von ihren Erlebnissen in den noch immer unbefriedeten Regionen außerhalb von Kabul berichten.

Den nächsten Tag verbringt er dann am Schreibtisch - genau wie die Journalisten, die gleichfalls ihre Berichte absetzen. So lässt es sich aushalten in Kabul: Es gibt europäisches Bier, es gibt Pizza und Satellitenfernsehen - und eine ungelöste Frage, an der, von den Amerikanern ausgelobt, 25 Millionen Dollar Kopfgeld hängen: Wo ist Osama Bin Laden?

Um diese Frage zu klären, schleicht unser Mann in Kabul morgens mit einer Afghanistan-Landkarte zur Rezeption und flüstert: "Wo liegt Kunar?"

Der Hotelmanager, ein dürrer Tadschike, deutet mit dem Zeigefinger auf einen kleinen Punkt auf der äußersten rechten Kartenseite. "Dangerous?", fragt der Türke, der Hotelmanager nickt.

Kabul wird der Kundschafter deshalb so schnell nicht verlassen. Aber die Frage nach Kunar war nicht schlecht. Dem eigentlichen Objekt seiner Neugier wäre er dort um einiges näher gewesen.

Nordöstlich der Provinzhauptstadt Jalalabad, im gebirgigen Grenzgebiet der afghanischen Provinzen Nangarhar und Kunar, sitzt ein großer korpulenter Mann auf einem Plastikstuhl und wischt sich den Schweiß von der Stirn.

Es ist zwölf Uhr mittags, ein Dutzend Pick-ups und Toyota-Geländewagen parken in der Nähe eines Gasthauses am Rand der Straße - wenn diese staubige Geröllpiste, die in die Berge führt, überhaupt den Namen verdient.

"Scheißhitze!", flucht der dicke Mann, "außerdem habe ich Hunger."

Sofort flitzt einer seiner Begleiter los und kommt wenige Minuten später mit einer Aluminiumschüssel voller Rosinenreis und Lammfleisch zurück. Der dicke Mann isst ohne Besteck, er löffelt den Reis mit Hilfe des Fladenbrots. Ein Dutzend bewaffneter Soldaten schaut ihm dabei zu. Die Männer sind seine Leibgarde.

Zamans ewiger Hunger könnte ihm noch mal zum Verhängnis werden. Denn zum Essen muss er anhalten. Wenn Zaman aber aus seinem Toyota-Geländewagen mit den schwarzen Fensterscheiben steigt, spricht sich das viel zu schnell herum in dieser unwirtlichen Bergwelt, in der man schon für hundert Dollar einen Killer mieten kann.

Mohammed Zaman, 45, Militärkommandeur der Grenzprovinz Kunar, ist seit gut anderthalb Jahren auf der Suche nach dem "loar Scheich", dem großen Scheich. So nennen die Afghanen den Chef des Terrornetzwerks al-Qaida, Osama Bin Laden.

Irgendwo hier, im Nordosten des Landes an der Grenze zu Pakistan, soll er sich herumtreiben. Nachdem ihm im Dezember 2001 die Flucht aus den nahe gelegenen Höhlen von Tora Bora gelungen war, richtete sich Bin Laden zunächst eine Reihe geheimer Stützpunkte in den Stammesgebieten der Paschtunen in Pakistan ein.

Die so genannten Tribal Areas stehen formal unter Selbstverwaltung. Doch die pakistanische Armee und der berüchtigte Geheimdienst ISI kontrollieren die undurchdringliche Region erheblich besser, als sie zugeben. "Die wissen genau, wo Bin Laden steckt", sagt Zaman kauend, "wenn die dem Scheich nicht helfen würden, hätte ich ihn schon längst gefasst!"

Die Grenze der Provinz Kunar zu Pakistan ist praktisch unkontrollierbar. Selbst die Hochtechnologie der Amerikaner nützt hier nicht viel.

In den Bergen wuchert ein Urwald voller Eichen und immergrüner Nadelbäume. Lager und Stützpunkte sind weder per Helikopter noch per Satellit auszumachen. Hunderte Schleichpfade verbinden Afghanistan mit Pakistan, in Kunar "gibt es mehr Höhlen als Menschen", sagt Zaman.

Die Zentralregierung im nur 150 Kilometer entfernten Kabul, von der er den Auftrag hat, den Qaida-Chef dingfest zu machen, hat hier nichts zu sagen. Stattdessen tummeln sich im Grenzland so ziemlich alle Terror- und Guerillagruppen, die Afghanistan zu bieten hat.

Da wäre beispielsweise der paschtunische Terrorpate Gulbuddin Hekmatjar, den Ermittler in Kabul für den Auftraggeber des Juni-Anschlags auf einen voll besetzten Bundeswehrbus halten. Hekmatjar hat sich in der Provinz Kunar mit arabischen Kämpfern verbündet, die ab und zu auch auf eigene Verantwortung operieren. Doch der Wichtigste von allen, die sich im Grenzgebiet tummeln, ist Osama Bin Laden.

Drei Söhne, berichtet Zaman, kämpfen an seiner Seite. Zwei Frauen Bin Ladens, auch da ist der Kommandeur ganz sicher, leben im Dickicht der Kiefernwälder. Der Scheich besucht sie angeblich regelmäßig.

Nie benutzt er ein Telefon. Nachrichten lässt er nur auf handgeschriebenen Zetteln per Boten verbreiten - das dauert länger, ist aber abhörsicher. "Wo der Scheich genau steckt, weiß ich auch nicht", sagt Zaman. "Vielleicht weiß er selbst manchmal nicht, wo er am nächsten Tag sein wird."

Auf Hilfe von den Amerikanern hofft Zaman schon lange nicht mehr. Die verlassen hier im Grenzgebiet kaum ihre Stützpunkte, den Kampf gegen die Taliban "müssen wir allein führen, nicht einmal anständige Waffen geben sie uns".

Zaman lebt gehetzter als der Mann, den er fassen will. Selbst engen Freunden kündigt er sein Kommen nicht an. "Ich versuche immer, in Bewegung zu bleiben - denn Bin Laden will mich töten."

Schon mehrmals ist er Anschlägen nur knapp entgangen. Seine Gegner sind ihm ständig auf den Fersen. Am liebsten operieren sie mit ferngezündeten Minen, doch bislang sind lediglich Autoscheiben zu Bruch gegangen.

Pünktlich zum zweiten Jahrestag der Anschläge auf die Twin Towers und das Pentagon tauchte Bin Laden nun auf einem Video auf. Seelenruhig spaziert er mit seinem Stellvertreter, dem ägyptischen Kinderarzt Aiman al-Sawahiri, durch eine idyllische Berglandschaft.

Afghanische Geheimdienstler sind sich sicher, dass die Aufnahmen in Kunar entstanden sind. Die hohen Nadelbäume und die Berglandschaft deuten ihrer Ansicht nach auf das Grenzgebiet zu Pakistan hin.

Scheinbar allem Irdischen entrückt, schreitet der meistgesuchte Terrorist der Welt da durch unberührte Natur und lässt weitere Katastrophen ankündigen. Von Unruhe keine Spur.

Zaman dagegen ist nervös, und er will es gar nicht verbergen. Wenn er spricht, wandern seine Augen hin und her. Nähert sich ein Unbekannter, duckt er sich weg. Seine Männer gehen dann in Habachtstellung, ihre Gewehre sind immer geladen.

Die ganze Truppe reist nach Jalalabad, der Hauptstadt der Nachbarprovinz Nangarhar. Unter riesigen Zeltplanen sitzen dort mehrere hundert Männer vor einem Podium. Es sind Mudschahidin und Stammesälteste aus der Region.

Die Männer begehen den zweiten Todestag des Nordallianz-Kommandeurs Ahmed Schah Massud. Bin Laden hatte ihn zwei Tage vor dem Anschlag auf das World Trade Center ermorden lassen.

Ein zwei Meter hohes Ölgemälde Massuds hängt über dem Podium, auf dem die Provinzfürsten Platz genommen haben. Daneben hängen die Porträts der Paschtunenführer Abdul Haq und seines Bruders Abdul Qadir. Sie wurden von den Taliban ermordet. Zaman hat sie gut gekannt.

Helfer verteilen Pepsi und Poster mit dem Konterfei Massuds. Auf den Plakaten sieht der Held der Nordallianz nach einer Computerüberarbeitung aus wie eine afghanische Mischung aus Bob Marley und Ché Guevara.

Zaman nippt an seiner Cola, schüttelt vorsichtig Hände und lauscht den Worten von Hazrat Ali. Der charismatische Militärführer war ein enger Freund Massuds und hat mit ihm gegen die Sowjets und die Taliban gekämpft. Nun befehligt Zamans Kollege in Jalalabad die Truppen der Regierung. Doch viele glauben, die Soldaten hörten nur noch auf sein Kommando - und nicht mehr auf Kommandos aus Kabul.

"Wir wissen genau, wer unsere Feinde sind", ruft Ali seinen Gotteskriegern zu. "Wir müssen uns in Acht nehmen vor unserem Nachbarland, dessen Namen ich nicht nennen will." Zaman klatscht Beifall, bis seine schweren Hände rot sind.

Der pakistanische Präsident Pervez Musharraf gilt eigentlich als wichtiger Verbündeter der USA im Kampf gegen den Terror. Doch die Taliban-Einheiten, die in den vergangenen Monaten zu Hunderten den Kampf mit der afghanischen Nationalarmee und den Amerikanern aufgenommen haben, unterhalten ihre Basislager ganz offensichtlich in Pakistan.

Überall im Grenzgebiet schlugen die Kämpfer Mullah Omars zu - auch in der Provinz Kunar. "In den vergangenen drei Monaten haben die Anschläge und Attacken rapide zugenommen", sagt Zaman. Doch der neue Gouverneur, klagt der Kommandeur, fahre gegenüber den Taliban in Kunar neuerdings einen Schmusekurs - auf Anordnung der Regierung in Kabul.

Weil Präsident Hamid Karzai die Taliban nicht besiegen kann, will er sie offenbar ruhig stellen. In vielen Provinzen haben Regierungsunterhändler schon Kontakt zur islamistischen Guerilla aufgenommen.

Doch das Kalkül geht nicht auf. Die Taliban sehen in Karzai keinen Verhandlungspartner, sondern bloß den Mann, der ihnen mit Hilfe der Amerikaner die Macht genommen hat. "Das werden sie uns nie verzeihen", sagt Zaman.

So sitzt der Bin-Laden-Jäger derzeit zwischen allen Stühlen. "Kaum nehme ich ein paar von diesen Strolchen fest, lässt der Gouverneur sie wieder laufen", klagt er. Die generösen Gesten der Regierung legen die Taliban offenbar als Schwäche aus - und mit dieser Analyse liegen sie gar nicht mal falsch.

Gleichzeitig wird die Rolle Pakistans in dem schmutzigen Krieg im Grenzgebiet immer dubioser. "Pakistanische Soldaten dringen immer häufiger auf unser Territorium vor", berichtet Zaman. Angeblich, um Kämpfer der Qaida zu jagen.

Doch das glaubt Zaman nicht. "In einigen unserer Dörfer geben sie bereits pakistanische Pässe aus. Und sie versorgen unsere Feinde mit Waffen und Munition."

Als die pakistanische Armee vor kurzem 20 Kilometer weit nach Afghanistan vorrückte, drohte Hazrat Ali, die Truppen anzugreifen. Die Amerikaner verhinderten im letzten Moment einen Waffengang. Nach Protesten der USA in der pakistanischen Hauptstadt Islamabad zogen sich die Pakistaner zurück.

Wie angespannt die Lage an der Grenze inzwischen ist, ist zwei Autostunden östlich von Jalalabad erkennbar, am Grenzübergang Torkham, der zum Khyber-Pass hinaufführt. Die Pakistaner nutzten die Wirren des Krieges gegen die Taliban vor zwei Jahren und rückten auf afghanisches Territorium vor.

An vielen Orten, auch bei Torkham, bauten die Soldaten ihre Posten auf afghanischen Boden. "Wir warten auf den Befehl, dann holen wir uns unser Land zurück!", droht Zaman. Hazrat Ali, der sich inzwischen neben seinen Freund gesetzt hat, nickt.

Schon jetzt kommt es zu Scharmützeln. Als vor kurzem eine Paschtunin in ihrer Burka von pakistanischen Soldaten am Grenzübergang geschlagen wurde, feuerten afghanische Soldaten auf die andere Seite. Miteinander geredet wurde erst nach dem Schusswechsel.

Der Grenzverlauf ist umstritten. Nach einer 1893 von den Engländern willkürlich festgeschriebenen Grenzbestimmung zwischen Afghanistan und Britisch-Indien, der so genannten Durand-Linie, hätten die jetzt auf pakistanischer Seite liegenden Stammesgebiete der Paschtunen bereits vor zehn Jahren zurückgegeben werden müssen.

Doch keine afghanische Regierung war bisher stark genug, die umstrittenen Forderungen gegen Islamabad durchzusetzen. "Deshalb haben die Pakistaner auch kein Interesse an stabilen Verhältnissen in Afghanistan", glaubt Zaman - dann gibt er seinen Männern ein Handzeichen.

Es dämmert, die Feier geht zu Ende. Zum Abschluss singen ein paar junge Mädchen mit hellen Stimmen ein trauriges Lied über den Tod Massuds. Alles blickt zur Bühne, manche Mudschahidin weinen.

Mohammed Zaman, der Jäger Bin Ladens, ist plötzlich verschwunden. Niemand, nicht einmal sein Freund Hazrat Ali, weiß wohin.



© DER SPIEGEL 39/2003
20.09.03 19:06:27
Beitrag Nr. 7.090 ()
Patrick Seale: Americans know they have gone well past the point of no return
| | 19/09/2003

I came back from a visit to Washington this week with one overwhelming impression: US thinking on the Middle East is going through a profound revolution. Public opinion is beginning to rebel against the failed policies of the Bush administration - and against their enormous costs in money, human casualties, and chaos.

The tide is turning against the architects of these policies - in particular against Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and his closest Pentagon aides, Paul Wolfowitz and Douglas Feith - who now find themselves on the defensive, having got the US in the mess it is in. Some observers of the American political scene believe these men could lose their jobs before the end of the year, and many think they should.

The leading advocates of America`s muscular, unilateralist approach to foreign policy were the so-called `neo-cons`, a powerful right-wing group of senior US officials and their supporters in the media and in Washington`s numerous lobbies and think-tanks, many of them close to Israel`s hard-line Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and his Likud party.

The neo-cons pressed for war against Saddam Hussain, arguing that it would lead to the defeat of Arab and Islamic radicals, the rout of the terrorists, the `reform` of the entire Middle East on democratic lines, and the resolution of the Arab-Israeli conflict in Israel`s favour. The road to Occupied Jerusalem, they proclaimed, lay through Baghdad.

The swift collapse of Saddam`s regime marked the high-point of the neo-cons` political fortunes. Throughout this period, Bush enjoyed the almost unqualified support of the US Congress, while the American press and television echoed the triumphalist tone of the administration.

All this has now changed. The American public is waking up to the fact that the country has got itself into a very deep hole in Iraq, from which it sees no obvious exit. The soaring budget deficit ($455 billion this year and an astounding $525 billion in 2004); the daily killing or wounding of American soldiers; the alienation of allies; the apparent lack of planning for post-war Iraq - all these are beginning to cause real alarm.

Members of the Congress, Democratic presidential candidates, retired generals, leading academics, and a media that has remembered its professional duty to the public, are all turning their guns on the Bush administration.

In an unprecedented attack on the Defence Secretary, The Washington Post wrote on September 14 that Donald Rumsfeld might be remembered as `a principal architect of a foreign policy disaster.` In turn, The New York Times reported this week that two senior Democratic members of the House of Representatives had called on Bush to fire his advisers on Iraq because American plans for post-war Iraq had clearly failed.

"Iraq never threatened US security," leading columnist Maureen Dowd wrote on September 12. "By pretending Iraq was crawling with Al Qaida, they`ve created an Iraq crawling with Al Qaida."

Last April, Bush asked Congress for a one-off $75 billion for the war in Iraq, which he was given with no questions asked. His latest request for another $87 billion has, however, aroused a storm of protest and will, over the coming weeks, face intense scrutiny in Congress. Many in Washington are stunned at the colossal cost to the American tax payer of Iraq and Afghanistan.

Last week, the International Institute of Strategic Studies, a prominent London-based think-tank, held its annual conference in the Washington area. The keynote address, delivered by a leading Republican Senator, Chuck Hagel, was a devastating critique of the Bush administration`s policies.

The US, Hagel said, was heading to a situation of deep debt. Vietnam had consumed the US for eleven years. Now America was embroiled in another war, and people wanted to know where the money was going, where the troops would come from, what was the plan.

The US, he said, was in danger of fracturing the multilateral institutions of collective security forged after the Second World War. The US could not on its own deal with today`s immense agenda. The key lay in partnership with its allies.

Bush`s chances of re-election in November, 2004, are likely to be determined by the state of the US economy and the situation in Iraq. While the economy is beginning to show signs of recovery, few new jobs have as yet been created to make up for the three million jobs that have been lost during Bush`s disastrous economic stewardship.

And the mess in Iraq is already taking its toll on Bush`s popularity, as may be seen from the latest polls. Like his father, Bush could end up being a one-term president.

All eyes are now on a possible alliance between Dr. Howard Dean, the former governor of Vermont and the frontrunner in the race for the Democratic nomination, and General Wesley Clark, a retired US Army general and former Nato supreme commander.

Both men want to be president rather than merely vice-president, so it remains to be seen whether theirs will be a Dean-Clark ticket or a Clark-Dean ticket. If Iraq dominates the campaign, General Clark`s military experience, and his considerable eloquence, could prove very damaging to Bush.

The revolution in American thinking is not restricted to Iraq. It is also beginning to embrace the Arab-Israeli conflict itself, which has long been dominated by pro-Israeli voices inside and outside the US government.

For example, when Howard Dean recently proposed an even-handed US approach to the conflict and called on Israel to dismantle most of its settlements, he was promptly shouted down by the staunchly pro-Israel Senator Joseph Lieberman, himself a candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination.

But then a remarkable thing happened. A powerful editorial in The New York Times, the main shaper of American opinion, declared that "we strongly disagree" with Senator Lieberman.

"Ending colonies in the occupied lands is central to the survival of the Jewish state…Israel must begin to plan its exit from the West Bank and Gaza not only to permit the creation of a viable, contiguous Palestinian state but to preserve its own future."

The battle to change American policy has only just begun. The neo-cons have not disarmed nor have Israel`s hard-line supporters been silenced. Bush cannot easily pressure Israel and risk losing the support of the millions of Christian Zionists in the American Midwest, which are the basis of his electoral strength and a well-financed ideological force in American politics.

Nor can he easily withdraw from Iraq and risk inflicting a devastating blow on American credibility. These dilemmas are painful, but at least they are now being debated out in the open.

The writer is an eminent commentator and the author of several books on Middle East affairs. He can be contacted at:

20.09.03 19:11:01
Beitrag Nr. 7.091 ()
The Lebanon Scenario

Anonymous car bombs, political kidnappings, ethnic militias ... The Iraqi battleground has echoes of an earlier occupation.

By Rod Nordland

Sept. 22 issue — Iraq under occupation is starting to look uncomfortably similar to Lebanon during its long civil war. The central government exists only in name, and neither police nor occupying troops are able to keep the peace.
IN RESPONSE, militias organized along ethnic and religious lines are taking up arms. Neighboring countries patronize friendly groups, or try to undermine rival ones. Arms smuggling over the borders is rife. Massive but anonymous car bombs assassinate opponents, terrorize civilians and intimidate foreigners. Even kidnapping has returned as a political tactic.
It’s dangerous to overemphasize historical parallels, but also useful to examine similarities—particularly at a time when senior U.S. officials, like Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, are arguing that Iraqis should take a greater role in securing their country. Many leading Iraqis want the Americans to hand over power altogether; they just don’t agree on who or what should replace them. Rival groups don’t trust one another. And many want to form their own militias—not in order to fight any other group, they insist, but for self-defense.
How U.S. forces deal with nascent militias may well determine the future of the country. Already the Coalition has worked with local fighters—in part because they depend on Iraqis for intelligence. U.S. Special Forces cooperated closely with Kurdish peshmerga guerrillas, some 70,000 strong, during the invasion. And the Iraqi National Congress still maintains an armed force, composed mainly of glorified bodyguards, but which conducts its own operations and detentions. The Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI), which was based in Iran before the war, has a 15,000-man militia called the Badr Brigades. The militiamen had been keeping a low profile until the assassination of SCIRI’s leader, Ayatollah Mohamad Baqir al Hakim, in a massive car bombing at a sacred shrine in Najaf last month. Then it was the Badr Brigades that took over security at the shrine and in much of the city. That in turn prompted the U.S. commander in Najaf to issue a warning last week that militias there had to disband by Friday. He was only partially obeyed. “How many ayatollahs can we sacrifice?” says Adel Abdul Mehdi, political-bureau head of SCIRI. “We have to ensure our own security.”

More worrisome still are the armed followers of Moqtada al-Sadr, a radical young scion of a rival family of Shiite leaders who has built a small but vocal following in the Shiite slums of Baghdad. “We have guns not to attack people but to protect ourselves and our leaders,” al-Sadr said in a rare inter-view last Monday with a small group of journalists. “That’s our right.” Al-Sadr’s followers vowed to defy the American order to disband. But when the deadline approached, al-Sadr’s group avoided a confrontation by staying mostly out of sight.

If Iraq does become the new Lebanon, it could make the old one seem tame. “It’s an even uglier potential than you had in Lebanon because so much more is at stake,” says Yahya Sadowski, an American political scientist who lived in Beirut through much of the war. “You could run a nightmare scenario where Iraq is the Congo of the Middle East, militias all coming in from neighboring countries,” he says. Yet precisely because so much is at stake, Sadowski doesn’t think it will come to that. America can’t afford to pack up and leave, as it did in Beirut after a suicide bomber hit the Marine barracks in 1983, killing 241 Americans.

Israel’s bloody history in Lebanon is even more instructive. The Israeli occupation of the south was initially welcomed by the disenfranchised Shiites. But with time, it was the Shiites under Hizbullah leadership who eventually drove them out (after 17 years). Uri Lubrani, who was Israel’s main policymaker on Lebanon, believes that the Shiite majority in Iraq—representing 60 percent of the population—could give the country stability that Lebanon never had. But he also envisages their turning on their occupiers, and he suspects that Iran will try to foment that: “Their strategy might be to have as many Americans sent back in body bags during the election period as possible.” As Lubrani and the Israelis found in their own occupation, today’s friends can easily become tomorrow’s enemies.

With Babak Dehghanpisheh in Najaf, Colin Soloway in Baghdad and Dan Ephron in Jerusalem

© 2003 Newsweek, Inc.
20.09.03 19:20:38
Beitrag Nr. 7.092 ()