Voice from the Commonwealth
Commentary, World Views and Occasional Rants from a small 'l' libertarian in Massachussetts

"If ye love wealth greater than liberty, the tranquility of servitude better than the animating contest for freedom, go home and leave us in peace. We seek not your council nor your arms. Crouch down and lick the hand that feeds you, and may posterity forget that ye were our countrymen." - Samuel Adams

Saturday, February 15, 2003


The Iraqi Embassy in Helsinki sought information about anthrax from the foreign ministry in October, Finnish media reported Saturday.

The query -- reportedly lodged about a month before the return of U.N. weapons inspectors to Baghdad -- sought suitable methods "for the early detection of anthrax," the Ilta-Sanomat newspaper reported.

The request also concerned "ways of protecting against anthrax, as well as methods, procedures and equipment needed for decontamination," the tabloid said.

< email | 2/15/2003 02:24:00 PM | link

el Jefe, standing on the backs of the oppressed people of Cuba dares to pass moral judgements and spout blatant lies.

"A war is about to break out. It is an unnecessary war, using pretexts that are neither credible nor proven," Castro said in a speech to a conference of Latin American economists.

"The immense majority of world opinion unanimously rejects a new war," he said, adding that it was "hardly probable" that Iraq had biological, chemical or nuclear weapons. The Cuban leader said Washington was flouting international rules and disregarding the United Nations, which "was practically dissolved by imperial decision after the fateful 11th of September."

Castro said the Iraqi people had suffered more than 10 years of bombings and the loss of hundreds of thousands of lives, mainly children, due to hunger and disease since the Persian Gulf War.

< email | 2/15/2003 02:16:00 PM | link

There is a clear choice. I think the people reluctantly advocating the use of military force to remove Saddam Hussein have listened to and answered the questions of the other side. However, I have rarely see anything but strict denial, mindless slogans and obfuscation from those defending Saddam.

Only one question remains, then: Are the horrors of war so great -- do the costs outweigh the benefits so grossly -- that the world should turn a blind eye to Saddam's flouting of UN Resolutions? French Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin, who yesterday declared that "war is always the sanction of failure," believes the answer is yes. Germany, Russia and China all staked themselves to similar views. As they see it, war against Iraq would be so awful that the UN should ignore Resolution 1441 -- and the 16 others that came before it. "Why should we now halt the inspections?" declared German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer. "On the contrary, the inspectors must be given the time they need to successfully complete their tasks."

To repeat ourselves: War is hell. Hundreds, perhaps thousands, of Western soldiers will likely die in the coming conflict. And while it is hoped casualties among Iraqi civilians will be few, tears should also be shed for the many Iraqi soldiers who will go to their graves defending a regime they fear and secretly loathe. But the benefits of deposing Saddam and cleansing Iraq of weapons of mass destruction will far outstrip these sacrifices. In his ideology and callous disregard for human life, Saddam is a minor-league heir to Hitler and Stalin -- and his despotic ideology forms a sort of abscess at the heart of the most repressive corner of the Earth. The United States and Britain will lance it whatever Europe's continental appeasers and Canada may think. Someday, the world will thank them for it.

< email | 2/15/2003 01:43:00 PM | link

Meet the new Kim same as the old Kims.

North Korea has launched a campaign to promote the 21-year-old son of leader Kim Jong Il as his successor, Kyodo News reported Saturday.

Kim Jong Il turns 61 on Sunday and there is no suggestion that he will step down soon or is in poor health.

The Japanese news agency said a classified North Korean military document reverentially referred to Kim's current wife Ko Yong Hee as "mother" and "loyal subject."

The North started a similar campaign in the mid-1970s to idolize Kim Jong Il's mother when he was earmarked to succeed his father, Kim Il Sung, the founder of the reclusive communist state.

Little is known about Kim Jong Il and Ko Yong Hee's son, Kim Jong Chul. A South Korean newspaper reported he had studied in France.

Kim Jong Il is believed to have three children: Kim Jong Chul; Kim Sul Song, a daughter born in 1974; and Kim Jong Nam, a son born in 1971. The children all have different mothers.

< email | 2/15/2003 01:18:00 PM | link

While 'peace' groups like A.N.S.W.E.R. and Not in our Name rally and fawn over murderers like Castro, Arafat, Saddam and Kim Il Jong, Christian groups are risking thier lives to save people from the the horrors of North Korea.

In recent years, Christian advocacy groups -- sponsored mainly by Koreans living in the United States, Japan and South Korea -- have set up a chain of safe houses and orphanages to smuggle North Koreans into China.

The underground railroad has enabled tens of thousands of refugees, many of whom are fleeing food shortages and the problems of the failing government of North Korean leader Kim Jong Il, to reach South Korea via nations bordering China, such as Russia, Mongolia, Burma and Laos.

In recent months, however, refugee activists have encountered stiff resistance from Chinese authorities, who are offering rewards of $362 to those who turn refugees in. They are also jailing those who help refugees and fining them as much as $3,600.

Last year, Chinese police tracked down South Korean Rev. Chun Ki Won as he led 12 North Koreans near the Mongolian border. He was jailed for seven months,

tried and expelled after paying a $6,000 fine.

Police nabbed the Revs. Choi Bong Il and Joseph Choi, the latter a U.S. citizen, last year; both are still in jail. They belong to a Seoul-based group called Durihana, or "two become one," which was founded in 1999 to prepare "public opinion for a unified Korea under the reign of God, based on the Christian spirit."

Other missionaries have disappeared in North Korea and China, with their fate depending on secret negotiations and large ransoms, church sources say.

I wonder how many of the people at the 'anti=war' protests today will be here:

A protest in San Francisco calling for China to release jailed South Korean activists and North Korean refugees is scheduled for 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. Sunday in Chinatown's Portsmouth Square. For more information, contact Daniel Yoo at (650) 483-0850 or djyoo@yahoo.com.

< email | 2/15/2003 01:13:00 PM | link

I am losing faith in a Pope who stood strong against the humanity crushing tide of Communism. He now trucks with such despots as Yasser Arafat and Saddam Hussein. He allows himself to be used as a propaganda tool. His meeting with Aziz should have ended right here.

He [Aziz] added "in addition to taking and controlling our oil resources, we are convinced that President George Bush seeks to redraw the map of Iraq, Syria and Saudi Arabia through dividing them to smaller and weak entities that are unable to preserve their independence with the aims to facilitate it for Israel and the US to control the region."

< email | 2/15/2003 12:31:00 PM | link

Iran's "Dialogue of Nations' still has to be opened with the murder of Salman Rushdie, apparently.

Iran's elite Revolutionary Guards have renewed a call to kill Salman Rushdie, whom Iran condemned to death 14 years ago for allegedly insulting Islam in a prize-winning novel.

Reformist and independent newspapers ignored the 14th anniversary of the death sentence this week, while few extremist hardline papers gave it prominent coverage.

But the hardline Jomhuri Islami ran a 16-page supplement Saturday with a front-page cartoon of a dead Rushdie being carried in a coffin draped with flags of the United States, Britain and Israel, countries seen by hard-liners as the main supporters of Rushdie's novel. Ayatollah Hassan Saneii, head of the semiofficial Khordad foundation that has placed a $2.8 million bounty on Rushdie's head, was quoted by Jomhuri Islami as saying that his foundation would now pay $3 million to anyone who kills Rushdie.

Such nuance,such worrldy understanding. Surely I can see why such a peacefully run regime would merit a place on the UN Committee on Human Rights. And I understand completely why Liberals the world over demand that we accede to the demands of such a peaceful regimebefore we can act.

< email | 2/15/2003 12:24:00 PM | link

"The inspections are working" has become a a knee-jerk chant. Every spineless unthinking diplomat who mouths the words doesn't even take into account all of the facts that Powell has shoved in front of thier faces. It is only proving more and more every day that the UN has become completely irrelevent.

< email | 2/15/2003 12:22:00 AM | link

Friday, February 14, 2003

Wow! Powell is pissed off. I would say the jig is up. Blix seems like a nice guy but Powell just dismissed everything he said.

< email | 2/14/2003 12:25:00 PM | link

Comrade Bob decrees no Valentine's Day.

At least 30 people have been arrested after baton-wielding police broke up a Valentine's Day peace protest in Zimbabwe. The officers also chased away onlookers who were watching the demonstration outside the United Nations building in the capital Harare. They said the protest by the group, Women of Zimbabwe Arise, had been declared illegal under the nation's sweeping security laws.

< email | 2/14/2003 11:54:00 AM | link

More information puncturing the hollow 'unilateral' myth.

Should war come to Iraq, a U.S.-led military force could include everything from a British armored division and a Bulgarian chemical-biological protection unit to a team of Latvian military doctors and a Danish submarine.
U.S. officials have not said publicly how many states make up what President Bush has taken to calling a "coalition of the willing," meaning those nations that would assist in overthrowing Saddam Hussein.

But officials say at least 40 nations - mostly in Europe and the Middle East - are in talks with the United States about providing combat forces and support units, as well as basing rights and refugee assistance.

"Every contribution is important, from the smallest clinic to the largest troop contribution," said Jim Wilkinson, a spokesman for the Tampa, Fla.-based U.S. Central Command, whose area of responsibility includes Iraq. More than 40 nations have sent military representatives to Tampa.

A core group of eight nations, led by Britain and Australia, has pledged either combat forces or support units should the president decide on war, officials said. Some states are not yet willing to publicly declare their intentions, citing operational reasons or concerns about domestic opposition to a war with Iraq.

Meanwhile, there is a more extensive list - an "elaborate matrix" in the words of one official - of what countries will offer under differing circumstances, with or without a second Security Council resolution. Dozens of countries are being consulted about how they can contribute to the effort, officials said.

Poland has marines and special forces aboard ship in the Arabian Sea, said Boguslaw Winid, deputy chief of mission at the Polish Embassy here. And there have been discussions between Poland and the United States about "hypothetical increases" in Polish forces should there be war in Iraq.

< email | 2/14/2003 11:50:00 AM | link

Muslim leaders in Australia denounce bin Laden's latest message.

But Australian Federation of Islamic Councils president Ameer Ali condemned Bin Laden's call, saying it was abhorrent to Islam. "He does not represent us and he is not the leader of the 1.2 billion Muslims of the world," Dr Ali said in a statement. He called on all Muslims not to be misled by such rhetoric.

< email | 2/14/2003 12:47:00 AM | link

Abu Hamza has taught his son well about the 'religion of peace'.

The son of a radical Muslim cleric was charged on Thursday with assault and attempted burglary following his arrest outside the mosque where his father is banned from preaching.

Mohammed Kamel, 21, was arrested with three other men on Tuesday evening as they allegedly attempted to scale the wall at Finsbury Park Mosque in north London.

During the arrest, a police officer had his jaw broken while another suffered a bloody nose. The defendants refused to stand in court. ''Their religious teaching that they abide by tells them that they ought not to stand for anyone other than God,'' said their lawyer, Jo Sibhu.

I wonder what was in the mosque that they felt they had to sneak in to get?

< email | 2/14/2003 12:37:00 AM | link

Two Iraqi exiled doctors are urging Muslims in Britain to support a war to oust Saddam.

One of the doctors left after he was asked to amputate the ears of 150 soldiers who had disobeyed the Iraqi dictator's orders, said Rotherham MP and Minister for Europe Denis MacShane. The doctor was also asked to check if the victims of a mass execution were all dead.

The other - a successful orthopaedic surgeon who is now living in Rotherham with his gynaecologist wife - was asked by Saddam's henchmen to forge death certificates.

An excellent quote from Mr McShane Rotherham MP and Minister for Europe:

"It is no use willing the end yet balking at the means."

< email | 2/14/2003 12:34:00 AM | link

A look at how Saddam operates.

One Briton knows from cruel experience how President Saddam Hussein can make the innocent suffer when he is cornered. Tony Barlow, 63, a hotel general manager, was held as a human shield for four months at an Iraqi nuclear weapons factory during the last Gulf conflict.

He recalls the first days of that August invasion, being woken by a friend before dawn to be told that soldiers were crawling all over the city centre. By the time he reached his hotel, a contingent of Iraqi conscripts was barricading the entrance, looking as scared as he was and bemused as to where exactly they were.

Mr Barlow offered them water and then plates of food, saying: “I didn’t think it prudent to ask men with AK47s to pay for their lunch.”

The mood changed abruptly when an Iraqi officer strode into the hotel reception brandishing a pearl-handled Kalashnikov rifle and told Mr Barlow to summon all his Western guests to join them and surrender their passports. “We were told we were being taken to a place of safety, but he would not say where or for how long,” Mr Barlow said.

Mr Barlow’s wife, Pauline, and his son, Julian, who was on holiday from university in Britain, were herded on to buses with all the hotel’s European and American guests. As they were driven out of the city, he peeked round the curtains drawn across the windows and witnessed for the first time how complete the Iraqi takeover of his adopted city had been. He saw that the looting had begun, with one Iraqi military convoy heading back to their own border in a procession of expensive cars as well as a luxury yacht loaded on to a tank transporter.

The Messilah Beach hostages were taken first to the southern Iraqi city of Basra, which is expected to be the first major target for capture by the allied armies this time. From there, they were marched to a train for a ten-hour journey to Baghdad, where the captives were billetted in one of the city’s main hotels. “It was such a bizarre sight, with us under house arrest at the hotel and locked in our rooms and yet we could see Britons who lived in Baghdad turning up in shorts to play on the tennis courts.”

After five days, a group of hostages, including the Barlows, were driven into the desert to what looked like an engineering factory at Tarmiyah.

They did not know then that the buildings were being secretly used as an uranium-enriching plant for Saddam’s nuclear weapons programme. The allies would discover that only when the factory was hit by mistake by US jets and its true purpose was revealed.

The Tarmiyah factory would be Mr Barlow’s prison for the next four months. “We would discuss escape plans, as if we were in Colditz, but we hadn’t a prayer of getting out of there,” he said. Corrugated iron was nailed across the windows of the floor of the factory that they had to use as a dormitory. “In the end, we just wanted the allies to bomb the bloody place and get it over with and we would take our chances.”

Mr Barlow was one of the last hostages to be released, in November 1990, and flown home to Britain. In April 1991 he was on the first commercial flight back to Kuwait City, where he has lived for 27 years, to find what little remained of his hotel. “It was a bit of a mess,” he says, showing photographs of buildings that had been bulldozed and rooms set on fire by the Iraqis. His next two years were spent rebuilding the hotel.

< email | 2/14/2003 12:24:00 AM | link

That's how it is done. A Catholic High School iin California held a two day forum to discuss the pros and cons of a war against Saddam. Teachers and students presented both sides and questions were asked.

Principal Sister James Marien Dyer said she hoped the forum showed students they should consider both sides of an issue to make informed decisions.

Makes me proud of my Catholic school years.

< email | 2/14/2003 12:18:00 AM | link

Thursday, February 13, 2003

France and Germany froze out 13 prospective EU nations in a discussion about finding a common Eu stance on the situation in Iraq yesterday.

In an unexpected move yesterday, 13 nations seeking to join the EU were excluded from a summit in Brussels on Monday to seek a common position on Iraq. The move came from Germany and France because the candidates mostly back the United States on Iraq, according to British diplomatic sources.

Britain and some other EU members had wanted to admit the mostly eastern European nations. EU leaders fear the Iraq crisis could rip apart the 15-nation union's hopes of formulating a joint foreign policy.

< email | 2/13/2003 11:57:00 PM | link

China will not be happy.

Minister of National Defense Tang Yao-ming [Taiwan] yesterday announced that the military has set up a task force to plan for the establishment of a comprehensive missile defense system.

"Within 10 years, we expect to have the capabilities to effectively defend against China's ballistic missiles," Tang said.

< email | 2/13/2003 11:27:00 PM | link

A long article giving the particulars of Hans Blix's life.

< email | 2/13/2003 11:21:00 PM | link

That could be pretty damning for Iran's claims of not aiding al Qaeda.

Osama bin Laden's eldest son, Saad, who was with his father during the US-led air campaign against Afghanistan in 2001, is currently in Iran, a Saudi-owned newspaper reported today.

Al-Sharq Al-Awsat said, citing a diplomatic source and without giving further details, that: "Saad, the eldest son of Osama bin Laden, head of the Al Qaeda network, was spotted in Iran."

< email | 2/13/2003 10:57:00 PM | link

Iraq has been accused of being involved in terrorism by the Phlippine government before

Shortly after the outbreak of the Gulf War in January 1991, Manila expelled then-Iraqi Charge d'Affaires Muwafak al-Ani after an Iraqi man was killed and another wounded in the premature detonation of a bomb believed intended for the U.S. cultural center in suburban Makati.

< email | 2/13/2003 10:54:00 PM | link

I'm not sure that is a tactic that will work.

India has asked Saudi Arabia to persuade Pakistan shun the path of terrorism and pursue dialogue and moderation to settle its unresolved disputes with New Delhi.

There was an understanding will be signed.

Sharing India's concerns about the growth of terrorism in the sub-continent, Saudi Arabia's Minister of Home Affairs Prince Naif Bin Abdul Aziz has accepted a proposal to sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with New Delhi to combat terrorism and crime.

< email | 2/13/2003 10:31:00 PM | link

The Cowboy, Unilateralist, Simplistic(tm) Japanese are threatening to pre-empt an attack by North Korea. If it comes to that.

Japan would launch a military strike against North Korea if it had firm evidence that the Stalinist state was ready to attack with ballistic missiles, Japanese Defense Minister Shigeru Ishiba said Thursday.

"It is too late if (a missile) flies toward Japan," Ishiba told Reuters in an interview.

"Our nation will use military force as a self-defense measure if (North Korea) starts to resort to arms against Japan," he said, adding that Japan could regard the process of injecting fuel into a missile as the start of military attack if it determined that the missile was pointed at Japan.

Ishiba said that Japan would only attack North Korea as a clearly defensive measure. "We differentiate this from the concept of a 'pre-emptive strike'," he said.

Don't exactly know how that is different from pre-emption.

He also goes on the say that Japan should develop and deploy a missile defence.

< email | 2/13/2003 03:59:00 PM | link

A former Canadian ambassador to Israel had this to say about peace in Israel.

He called Sharon "the perfect leader" for the circumstances. "But I do not think that Ariel Sharon is a man of peace. I do not think he is capable of making a deal with the Palestinians. I do not think there is a deal now. "I think that both Arafat and Sharon will have to disappear before there is a deal. But Sharon after Arafat. Arafat first. He is a liar, a terrorist. He has not led people in the path of peace and he will have to go."

< email | 2/13/2003 03:46:00 PM | link

If this is a protest against the war I find it hard to follow. The writer talks about a family of Iraqis who fled the country in 1991 after one had been involved in an attempted coup against Saddam. She talks about their struggle and survival here in America with their 11 children. Then concludes with this.

Here, in our midst, live 11 more Iraqi children than there might have been, 11 who have the opportunity not just to survive, but to thrive, handing war its ultimate rejection.

I have this to ask Ms. Nelson.

If you are opposed to the war on humanitarian grounds. How many families have been, are being and will continue to be destroyed, how many fathers, mothers, brothers and sisters will be tortured and murdered in front of their families if Saddam and his progeny (all of whom are well documented proponents of personally overseeing murder and torture) stay in power. Would the Al-Ghurairis and their children still be alive in Saddam's Iraq today? How many of them would be struggling to survive in Saddam's Gulag right now? Would their children be held as blackmail for the Al-Ghurairis 'loyalty'?

I had a professor who fled from Iraq in the 80's and from what I learned I believe that a short time of horror and death will be far better in the long run that the decades of despair and oppression that will come in the wake of a Hussein dynasty. At least when the bombs stopped falling they could come out in the streets and breath free air. And with 20% of the population now living out of the country waiting to come back and bring new ideas and money and learning they can make a great start. I think what we should focus on is making sure we don't let them falter when it is done.

< email | 2/13/2003 03:30:00 PM | link

Pure, undiluted willful ignorance.

German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer said Thursday the government did not think Iraq was in "material breach" of U.N. Security Council resolution 1441.

< email | 2/13/2003 02:48:00 PM | link

Wednesday, February 12, 2003

This is why the US military is the best in the world. They think of everything.

Naval officials said on Tuesday the sea lions would be used to locate and mark divers or swimmers that could pose a threat to U.S. warships off Bahrain, headquarters of the navy's Fifth Fleet.

The sea lions have been trained to carry a special clamp in their mouths which they can attach to a suspicious person, Commander John Wood, Special Operations Officer Naval Forces Central Command, told Reuters. The clamp is attached by a line to a flotation device which marks the swimmer for security personnel to apprehend him. Wood would not explain in detail how the clamp worked or what would stop a swimmer removing it.

"They (the sea lions) are very valuable in terms of capability and they are saving lives," he said. "They can operate wherever we ask them to and are not limited to Bahrain."

The United States is massing ships and troops in the Gulf region ahead of a possible war against Iraq.

Wood said the animals were trained to mark people but not to kill. The mammals can dive to 1,000 feet, swim at speeds up to 25 miles (40 km) per hour, as well as see and hear better under water than any human or mechanical device the military has. "The advantage is that they are working in their natural environment and anything going against them isn't," Wood said outside the sea lion enclosure where Zachary and Alex were barking and being fed.

< email | 2/12/2003 04:22:00 PM | link

Analysts in the Arab world are saying that the latest bin Laden tape has laid bare a feeling of apathy for his meesage.

In Iraq, the state controlled media did not run bin Laden's statement and many Iraqis had not heard his statement.

One Arab official dismissed the recording as "silly talk", saying that the once-popular militant blamed by Washington for the most devastating attacks on U.S. soil since World War Two seemed to have lost his sway over ordinary Arabs.

"He is trying to portray himself as the genius of his time. I doubt his call will find much echo in the Arab street. He doesn't have the same hold over the Arab street as he did post-September 11," the official explained.

"Arab governments are not taking his threats seriously."

"He (bin Laden) is trying to turn the U.S.-Iraqi conflict into an Islamic issue, but there is much more at stake here," said a Gulf-based Arab analyst.

"The Arab street is looking for a Gamal Abdel Nasser not an Islamist militant," he said, referring to the Egyptian revolutionary leader and staunch Arab nationalist.

It would seem to be an outgrowth of the waning in bin Laden's popularity after his grand threats of death and destruction for America in Afghanistan proved false.

< email | 2/12/2003 03:45:00 PM | link

Lovely. Wonder if that i why Chirac is so keen on Comrade Bob coming to Pairs in coming days. He wants to get some of that land for himself.

Land seized from white farmers in Zimbabwe is going to be given to a Chinese utility firm, according to state media reports in Zimbabwe. China International Water and Electric Corporation has reportedly been awarded a tender to grow crops on 100,000 hectars and help ease the food shortage.

Professor Tony Hawkins at the University of Zimbabwe in Harare said President Mugabe had turned to other countries to help it alleviate some of its many problems.

< email | 2/12/2003 03:28:00 PM | link

US and British fighters are dropping leaflets on Iraqi positions.

Aircraft taking part in U.S. and British patrols dropped leaflets over central and southern Iraq on Wednesday, some warning air defense troops not to fire on Western jets and others saying "coalition forces do not wish to harm the noble people of Iraq," the U.S. military said.

Some of the leaflets urged Iraqis to listen to American special forces radio broadcasts to the area, providing frequencies of broadcasts criticizing Iraqi President Saddam Hussein and providing information on U.N. Security Council Resolution 1441 and U.N. arms inspections in Iraq, Central Command said.

One of the leaflets stated, "The coalition will destroy any viable military targets" and "The coalition does not wish to destroy your landmarks," according to Central Command. It also stated, "Coalition forces do not wish to harm the noble people of Iraq. To ensure your safety, avoid areas occupied by military personnel," according to Central Command.

A leaflet intended for air defense personnel stated, "Do not fire at coalition aircraft. If you choose to fire you will be destroyed. Coalition forces will attack with overwhelming force. The choice is yours," Central Command said.

Another leaflet had a photograph of a warplane releasing bombs, and stated, "Coalition air power can strike at will. Any time, any place," Central Command said.

< email | 2/12/2003 02:33:00 PM | link

An analysis of why it is not a 'War for Oil' take 50.

Oil industry consultants see three possible post-war scenarios: a pro-U.S. dictator to replace President Saddam Hussein; a fragile coalition of regional factions backed by the U.S. military; and territorial disintegration with possible civil war. The first option would perhaps be the rosiest for foreign oil investors, providing a strong leader with control over Iraqi resources who could sign deals.

A major snag is that Saddam, unlike in neighbouring Kuwait and Saudi Arabia which are wary of foreign oil investment, has already signed deals to develop Iraq's major oilfields with big international companies worth some $20 billion. United Nations sanctions, not nationalist policies, have prevented Iraq's partners in Europe and Asia from going ahead. Any new Iraqi government would face a lengthy legal battle if it tried to trash these and bring in U.S. money. "Those who have pushed the hardest and have the most ambitious objectives of this war are the ones who least recognize the difficulties they will face on the ground," said Raad Alkadiri of Petroleum Finance Co in Washington.

The coalition scenario holds little hope of lasting, analysts said, because deep divisions in the multi-ethnic state would probably precipitate further conflict. "The reality of Iraq is that the country would fall apart," said Paul Stevens, professor of petroleum policy at Britain's Dundee University.

This leaves the final, worst-case scenario for oil investors of disintegration and/or civil war.

"The outcome of all these scenarios is that it will probably take Iraq a lot longer to come back than most people think," Stevens said. "There are vastly cheaper ways of getting Iraqi oil than war. Lifting sanctions would be one," he added.

Any U.S. occupation of Iraq would have its hands full just to repair war damage to oil facilities, and return output to the 2.5 million barrels per day it pumped in January, analysts say.

Diplomats believe the oil-for-food deal, a United Nations programme allowing Iraq to sell oil outside decade-old sanctions, could be extended even if sanctions were lifted under a post-Saddam disarmament agreement.

Iraq's $60 billion foreign debt would emerge as a key issue for any new government, while reparations to the United States for its "liberation" war of Iraq is another issue occupying some thinkers in Washington.

Dreams of massive foreign investment schemes and challenging OPEC power over oil supply would assume low priority for a government struggling to survive, analysts said.

Indeed there is some doubt whether destroying the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries would even serve U.S. interests.

Small U.S. oil companies, which punch above their weight in Washington, fear rising supplies of cheap foreign oil will drive them to the wall. It would also hurt U.S. plans to diversify away from oil to alternative fuels such as natural gas.

"The idea that America wants a low oil price is nonsense. They don't want a high oil price, they want a moderate oil price," said Oxford's Mabro.

< email | 2/12/2003 02:06:00 PM | link

UAE is sending forces to help defend Kuwait in the event of a US led war against Saddam and the possibilty of and Iraqi reprisal attack.

The small island nation of Bahrain also said Wednesday it would send a frigate and an unspecified number of troops.

Fellow Persian Gulf states have also agreed to dispatch a combined military force to Kuwait, preparing for the likelihood of war even as they hope for a diplomatic end to the U.S.-Iraq crisis.

The decision to send the combined force, known as the Peninsula Shield, was made in Saudi Arabia Saturday at a meeting of ministers of the six Arab Gulf states.

The forces will be under the command of the host country, Kuwait, the Emirates official said, speaking by telephone from Abu Dhabi, the nation's capital and largest of its seven emirates.

Peninsula Shield, based in Hafr al-Baten, a northeastern Saudi base near the Iraqi border, has some 5,000 troops. It was unclear how many of those troops would be sent to Kuwait, or how many Emirates troops would be involved in that deployment.

In other news. France,Germany and Belgium still refuse to allow NATO to defend Turkey.

< email | 2/12/2003 01:46:00 PM | link

Excellent article by, Iraq exile, Kanan Makiya. The comment section is also enlightening. The anti-war people remain shrill and incoherent. Not one of them can face what Mr. Makiya says and give a reasoned rebuttal.

Some commentators warn that a US backed war in Iraq will cause the Arab street to rise up in anger. But this much vaunted 'Arab street' is a fiction - it doesn't exist. It is a creation of nationalist intellectuals of my generation, who lived through war in the Arab world and never learned from the mistakes of the past.

During the Gulf War and, more recently, the Afghan war nothing came of the fears of the Arab world.

All we saw in Afghanistan were people cheering in the streets. I expect Iraqis to do the same - to throw sweets and flowers at the American troops as they enter our towns and cities.

In the long run, however, how the US handles itself will determine the success of this liberation. Much depends on how willing Washington is to follow through with nation building.

We want to see America involved in Iraq for a very long time but I do not support the idea of an American military government, even for a short time. We Iraqis must take the responsibilities of our future into our own hands.

< email | 2/12/2003 12:45:00 PM | link

Blair gives the planned anti-war protestors jab.

Mr Sawford asked: "Do you have a message for the people on that rally, bearing in mind that many of them are your friends, not your enemies."

Mr Blair replied: "First of all that we should be glad that we live in a country, this country, not the case in Iraq, where people can come together and demonstrate their position on political issues of the day."

Speaking about possible war he added: "The alternative is to carry on with a sanctions regime which, because of the way Saddam implements it, actually has resulted in thousands of people dying needlessly in Iraq every year.

"So I hope when people go on that march that they at least recognise that those of us that take a different view hold our views with as much conviction and sincerity as they hold theirs."

< email | 2/12/2003 12:26:00 PM | link

I like how the headline and lede make this sound as if the Iraqis in Switzerland are against military action to oust Saddam. Red the responses to the question and you get a different understanding.

swissinfo: What is your opinion of a possible war against Iraq?

T: I am worried, like all Iraqis here in Switzerland, inside Iraq and around the world, about what is coming next. We are not feeling good and we are very worried about what’s going to happen. We can’t support war… no one would like to support war but I imagine that the United States will do it. There is no other solution for this crisis. Of course, they will try with all diplomatic and peaceful means to find a solution but I doubt that they will find one because we know the president of Iraq.

How do you feel about the Iraqi leader, Saddam Hussein?

I can’t consider him as a leader because a leader should have principles and morals. Of course I would like to see him ousted from power… all Iraqis all over the world want this. That is, except those people who are defending him inside Iraq… members of the Special Forces, the Republican Guard and volunteers who protect him. But I think all Iraqis are dreaming of the day when they will wake up and find there is no more Saddam Hussein.

What do your family and friends in Iraq understand about the situation?

I still have my brothers, sisters and my mother there and I receive letters from them because there is no way to reach them by phone. They say they are going on with their lives and working to survive. It’s difficult for some people who have no financial resources but I think the majority of Iraqis feel that it’s better to concentrate on daily life because they are helpless to do anything about the political situation. You know, Iraqis are peaceful people and they just want to live like other people around the world.

How do they feel about President Bush? Do they support him?

They cannot think like that because it is forbidden to have such ideas inside their heads. If the thought crosses their minds, someone will discover it and then they will be killed. But inside, secretly, many of them are happy that someone is finally going to free them from this dictatorship. Some of them do not welcome the arrival of the Americans… this is the truth of the relationship between Iraq and the United States. Saddam took power with the aid of the Americans… we shouldn’t forget that… and he has remained in power since 1979. The Americans even sold him chemical weapons at the beginning of the Iran-Iraq war. So, some Iraqis are distrustful and bitter towards the US.

Do you believe Saddam has weapons of mass destruction?

Yes, of course… not nuclear, but biological and chemical, which are very easy things to get. It’s not so complicated.

Have you ever experienced problems in going back to visit Iraq?

The last time I was in Iraq was in May 2002 and you know, when you enter Iraq… you feel a kind of fear inside you because you don’t know what’s going to happen. It would be easy for someone to suspect you of something and then it would be your end. It would be difficult to get out, even with a Swiss passport, because I would have to inform the Swiss embassy and I would not have this chance. But I was not politically active when I lived in Iraq and that’s why I’m allowed to go in and out without any problems.

What kind of government would you like to see take over in Iraq?

I think the Swiss model of federalism would be the best option for Iraq. It would fit the best, especially in terms of the Kurdish people, because they have a certain degree of autonomy. I would like to see a parliament made up of elected officials and an elected president… this is the dream of all people. You know, the living conditions are so severe and difficult inside the country… the people are really suffering a lot. They have been living with war, poverty and disease for almost 30 years now. They don’t deserve that. They are suffering because of injustice from inside and from outside… they have been taken hostage inside this country we call Iraq.

Can the US defeat Saddam Hussein?

Yes, I think so. Saddam also threatened the Americans before and during Desert Storm and he is just bluffing. He’s really a very dangerous man, so of course he will use chemical and biological weapons… he will use all of the weapons at his disposal. He does not care about human life and innocent people. But I think in the end the Americans will win because they have a very powerful military. But I hope that the United States will avoid as many innocent civilian [casualties] as they can, because they caused a great deal of destruction the last time around.

If Saddam is ousted, would you consider going back to take part in rebuilding your native country?

I don’t know if I could live with my people again because I have been living here for almost 20 years, but of course this is a kind of dream. In the end, I am nostalgic for the paradise that was once Iraq – a place where there was petrol and water, green forests and palm trees, music and poetry – where people were happy to work and to enjoy life. All of this is over because of Saddam Hussein and his desire to build up his military machine. His dream was, and still is, to get a nuclear bomb.

< email | 2/12/2003 12:03:00 PM | link

The Iraqi diplomat that Philippine authorities accuse of having ties with Abu Sayyaf that I mentioned yesterday has now been booted out of the country.

< email | 2/12/2003 11:51:00 AM | link

The Canadian government may not be enthusiastic but at least they are being rational.

The Liberal government yesterday defeated a motion in the House of Commons that said Canadian participation in a war with Iraq should be considered only after the UN Security Council passes a resolution giving "explicit" authorization for war.

The government also said the Bloc motion was flawed because it presumed the UN Security Council could only authorize war by passing a second resolution to bolster an existing one, Resolution 1441, which threatens severe consequences against Saddam Hussein if he fails to disarm.

In fact, the president of the UN Security Council can also authorize war by issuing a letter on behalf of Council members, or the Council can decide the existing resolution provides sufficient basis for an attack.

Mr. Chrétien has said he believes a second UN Security Council resolution is desirable, but not essential.

< email | 2/12/2003 11:45:00 AM | link

Nuclear blackmail works. Just ask Javier Solana.

The European Union's foreign policy chief, Javier Solana, has warned United Nations sanctions on North Korea would only escalate the crisis over Pyongyang's nuclear ambitions.

And exactly why should we allow Iraq to become N Korea? So they can do the same exact thing? Forcing a lifting of sanctions and no action in response to invasions of neighboring countries, for fear of 'escalating the crisis?

< email | 2/12/2003 11:15:00 AM | link

An excellent, sober, column about war.

As World War II gathered intensity, and more soldiers were needed, my father, then 39 years old, was conscripted for the Army. I can remember tearfully protesting the injustice of this. I asked my father whether he might have to kill someone. A deeply religious man, he told me that he'd thought about this at length. Basically he was opposed to taking a life, but if it was the "nearest right," he'd do it.

President Bush says he begins every day "on bended knee," praying "for guidance and for comfort." He has asked others to pray, and I suspect many of us do, asking that the president be given wisdom in making decisions and courage in implementing them.

If war comes in Iraq it will inevitably bring death and destruction. Soldiers on both sides, and innocent civilians, will likely die. But lingering in my memory are my father's words, before he went off to fight long ago, that in human affairs we must do the "nearest right."

Let's look at the facts: Saddam Hussein is a tyrant who maintains his rule on Iraq by torture and execution. He has used weapons of mass destruction on his people. He invaded Kuwait. When defeated by US and allied forces, he promised to disarm. He has broken those vows and been condemned by the world community. He certainly has developed chemical and biological weapons in the past.

US Secretary of State Colin Powell's presentation to the UN last week convinced most reasonable people that Mr. Hussein still has those weapons and has taken pains to hide them from UN inspectors. Hussein consorts with terrorists who seek to do harm to the US, other Western countries, and Israel. He is perfectly capable of sharing with those terrorists his weapons of mass destruction.

What are the risks of seeking to remove him forcibly? The most dismal downside: Heavy allied casualties; the unleashing of weapons of mass destruction; chaos in Iraq; furor in the Middle East. The most agreeable upside: Saddam Hussein's removal; the neutralization of his weapons of mass destruction; the liberation of Iraq's people; the emergence of Iraq as a democratic nation in the making to inspire other Arab countries.

Should we tolerate evil or attack it? What is the "nearest right?"

< email | 2/12/2003 09:28:00 AM | link

Tuesday, February 11, 2003

Have Saddam and Oliver Stone ever been spotted in the same room together? Or maybe this is his homage to another brutal murderer, since he's finished up his Lewinskying of Castro. Maybe he plans to go act as a body double for Saddam?

< email | 2/11/2003 02:44:00 PM | link

31 Palestinian women (mostly under the age of 18) were murdered in so-called honor killings last year.

The victims, most of whom were under the age of 18, were killed by family members for perceived sexual misconduct that brought shame to the family, although in most cases the girls had been sexually abused or raped by relatives.

According to Social Welfare Ministry officials and women's organizations, there has been a significant rise in violence against women and cases of incest in recent months. The ministry is working to open shelters for victims of violence and sexual abuse.

< email | 2/11/2003 11:36:00 AM | link

Twenty Five Canadian military planners are deploying to the Gulf.

The defence department confirmed yesterday that 25 officers — some currently stationed at U.S. Central Command in Tampa, Fla., and others from Canada — have been redeployed to the American base at As Sayliyah, Qatar, where Gen. Tommy Franks has established command-and-control headquarters for the Iraq war.

"For us, this is just a change of time zone," the source said. The bulk of contingency planning for a war in Iraq had shifted from Tampa to Qatar, so Canada had to move its team to the Middle East forward base if it wanted to continue playing an active role in the planning, he argued.

"We now have sent a military liaison team to Qatar. The team comprises about roughly 25 persons strong and it is drawn from personnel in Canada and from our current national command element at Centcom in Tampa," Saint-Louis said.

Government and military sources say Canada's military is making plans to contribute commandos, naval vessels, aircraft, high-tech Coyote vehicles and possibly ground troops to the U.S.-led campaign.

But sources say Canada is also likely to announce soon that it will send a major contingent back to Afghanistan, to play a role in the international stabilization force based in Kabul. Making a major contribution to maintaining stability in Afghanistan — a key strategic interest of the U.S. — would probably preclude Canada making a major ground troop contribution to an Iraq campaign.

But if Canada joins the war, it is expected to make a significant contribution to the first wave,, with commandos from the Joint Task Force 2 and possibly a small reconnaissance contingent with Coyote vehicles, and by making available the navy and air force military assets Canada already has in the region, with nearly 1,000 personnel.

Two naval frigates, with Sea King helicopters, are part of the interdiction team patrolling water routes to Afghanistan.

A Long-Range Patrol Detachment — two CP-140 Aurora maritime patrol and surveillance aircraft — operates in the Gulf region.

And a Tactical Airlift Detachment, comprising three CC-130 Hercules transport aircraft, employed primarily in the delivery of humanitarian relief and supplies to the people of Afghanistan, is also in the region.

< email | 2/11/2003 10:48:00 AM | link

South Africa and Nigeria have nixed a meeting to review a continuation of sanctions against Zimbabwe.

< email | 2/11/2003 10:12:00 AM | link

Monday, February 10, 2003

Philippine authorities are also saying they have evidence to link Saddam with Abu Sayyaf.

Philippine officials say they have intelligence linking an Iraqi diplomat to the Muslim militant group, Abu Sayyaf. Philippine Foreign Affairs Secretary Blas Ople summoned the head of the Iraqi diplomatic mission to tell him of intelligence reports linking an Iraqi diplomat to the radical Islamic group, Abu Sayyaf.

The Philippine intelligence agency said it monitored calls between the guerillas and the Iraqi Second Secretary Husham Hussein shortly after a bomb attack in October. Authorities blame the Abu Sayyaf for that attack, which killed a U.S. soldier and three Philippine citizens.

But isn't Saddam secular and wouldn't ally himself with Islamists.

< email | 2/10/2003 02:52:00 PM | link

There is a probe into the possibility that Iraq has been funding anti-American protests in the Philippines.

The Philippine Star newspaper citing military and police intelligence "sources", also said that about $200,000 in cash was distributed by Iraqi contacts to some members of southern Philippines-based secessionist groups as budget for "sympathy attacks" to be held in the country against the U.S.

A flurry of protests in Manila against what local groups described as "U.S. aggression against Iraq" has met United States President George W. Bush's recent statements implying that America is ready to act on its own against Iraq amidst what Washington said was fresh evidence that it is maintaining weapons of mass destruction.

The Philippine Star report said various intelligence agencies, including the National Intelligence and Coordinating Agency (NICA), the local equivalent of the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), are evaluating information that pro-Saddam forces are funding local groups protests.

The protesters were mainly leftist anti-American groups, Muslim peace advocates and trade unions concerned over the safety of more than a million overseas Filipino workers (OFW) in the Middle East.

Military sources said they are evaluating reports that Saddam and his associates have sent officials to South-East Asian countries, including the Philippines, to monitor public reaction and "developments" in the region shortly after the September 11 attacks in the U.S.

< email | 2/10/2003 02:49:00 PM | link

Indian PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee "jehadi terrorism" the primary source of terrorism in the world today.

"Increasingly, a common ideological inspiration — that of religious extremism — is exporting (terrorism) around the world. Thus, jehadi terrorism has today become the principal form of terrorism all over the world," he said.

Vajpayee asserted that Islam did not justify terrorism; neither did any other religion. "Rather terrorists have chosen to cover their campaign of killings with the cloak of jehad to seek popular legitimacy and recruit misguided youth."

"We have to take decisive, tough and forceful action against terrorists, which is both punitive and deterrent," he added.

"The international community has to be vigilant against the real possibility of chemical and biological weapons and weapons of mass annihilation falling into the hands of terrorist organisations," the Prime Minister warned.

"Double standards are used to justify terrorism. It is asserted that Osama bin Laden's associates are freedom fighters when they act in one country and terrorists when they act elsewhere. Jehadi groups have been given shelter and support using this dubious logic."

Vajpayee said it was an often ignored fact that the sponsorship, bases and finances for terrorism came from totalitarian military regimes who wanted to pursue their own political agenda.

The "tendency" of some countries to condone terrorism somewhere while condemning it elsewhere was counter-productive, he said. "Such lenience will boomerang on all of us."

< email | 2/10/2003 12:44:00 PM | link

Nelson Mandela fritters over the United States' human rights record while in South Africa (with joint action from that other human right paragon Cuba) the government is busy violating the rights of doctors there to help them.

< email | 2/10/2003 12:07:00 PM | link

It's amazing how little international outrage is directed at the North Korean regime's practice of kidnapping citizens of Japan. No apologies have ever been issued and the abductees that North Korea admitted to are visiting Japan right now, while their families are held hostage in North Korea and they were ordered by Kim's government to convince family members still in Japan to come to North Korea.

< email | 2/10/2003 11:34:00 AM | link

Two prominent Cricket from Zimbabwe have issued a statement condemning the situation in their homeland.

They said that while it is a great honor and privilege for them to play for their country, they could not in good conscience take to the field and ignore the fact that millions of their compatriots are starving, unemployed and oppressed.

Olonga and Flower said it is impossible to ignore what is happening in Zimbabwe, and they are deeply distressed about the situation. Among other things, they said many people have been unjustly imprisoned and tortured simply for expressing their opinions.

The two players decided to wear black armbands when they took to the field Monday, and say they will continue to do so for the duration of the World Cup. They said they are "mourning the death of democracy" in their beloved Zimbabwe.

Pretty brave act when you consider that such statements are now considered treason in Zimbabwe.

< email | 2/10/2003 11:10:00 AM | link

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