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Archive 7 February  - 28 February 2003

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28 February  War by timetable
24 February Swami's 2003 State of the Universe Address  - Swami Beyondananda
12 February Reckless Administration May Reap Disastrous Consequences - U.S. Senate speech by Robert Byrd
7 February  Blair, Hoon and Straw May be Investigated for War Crimes


28 February 2003 War by timetable

By Paul Rogers (Professor of Peace Studies at the University of Bradford) - edited from e-mail 19 Feb 2003 originally (I think) to 
The popular protests against US war on Iraq are massive and growing. The US faces acute diplomatic problems over weapons inspection, in Nato, and with Turkey. But the White House hawks and the US military are charting the full moon over Baghdad. There will be war in five weeks.

The huge anti-war marches and events around the world on the weekend of 15-16 February 2003 may be the most significant political demonstrations since the Cold War era. In their scale, they resemble the 1986 and 2001 'people power' movements in the Philippines which removed Presidents Marcos and Estrada, and the mass outpouring of popular feeling across the Soviet bloc in 1989.

Their timing was also important. They closely followed the report from Hans Blix, chief UN weapons inspector in Iraq, to the UN Security Council that was clearly far too soft for the Bush administration. One evident implication of Blix's tone and content was that inspections should continue. Indeed, a significant part of his speech was devoted to detailing the impressive inspection process that has been built up in only eleven weeks, as well as the substantial expansion in Unmovic's activities that is currently under way.

This combination of popular discontent, Security Council discussion, and the concurrent splits in Nato have combined to refocus intense attention on the political process, leading to a central assumption that the risk of war is primarily dependent on what happens at the United Nations.

This may be missing a key element. While so much emphasis is on the UN and attitudes in western capitals, what is actually happening on the ground may be the real determining factor of what happens next. In this respect, the pivotal reality at present is that the Pentagon is simply not yet ready for war against Iraq.

By 14 February, there were about 106,000 US forces in the Central Command area that covers the Gulf, with perhaps 10,000 more in Turkey (see Global Security for most recent information). The Gulf forces are made up of 26,000 army troops, 20,000 in US air force units and 60,000 in the navy and marine corps. The army and marine troops together comprise no more than 50,000, about one third of the ground forces that need to be in place before a war starts.

Most of the equipment is already there, and at least 1,000 troops a day are now being flown into the region.
Even so, the key additional component is the highly mobile 101st Airborne Division from Fort Campbell in Tennessee, regarded as essential for a rapid war that will see the near-simultaneous use of a massive air bombardment and rapid ground force invasions from both the south and north of Iraq.The 101st Airborne will not be in place for another four weeks.

In the last few days, huge quantities of the division's equipment have been loaded onboard two Military Sealift Command ships, the USNS Dahl and the USNS Bob Hope at Blount Island near Jacksonville in Florida (see The Tennessean newspaper). The supplies include nearly
300 helicopters and 3,800 trucks, together with spare parts, food and medical supplies.

Both ships were due to sail earlier this week, and they will take up to twenty-one days to make the transit to the Gulf. Once there, the process will begin of unloading equipment, matching it to the troops who will have been flown in and preparing the forces for highly mobile 'deep strike' attacks into Iraq. This is likely to be completed by about 15 March, by which time most of the other US forces, including further aircraft carrier battle groups, will have been assembled.

Contrary to conventional wisdom, the latter part of March is considered by the military to be an appropriate time for an invasion, as the cloudy winter weather will have largely been replaced by clear days. Another preference is for moonless nights, enabling more effective use of night-vision equipment where the US forces have a huge advantage. With a full moon due on 18 March, this would make 25 March the most likely starting date of the war - quite a lot later than most analysts have been predicting.


A further complication is the current lack of agreement between the US and Turkey. While this may be quickly resolved, this could also mean that it will be late March before the required US military forces can be assembled there.

What does all this mean for the political process? There are three aspects to this. First, there is time for anti-war movements to develop further across Europe and possibly even in the United States. They have been remarkable in their recent speed of development and have come together before a war has even started. At the very least they will put further pressure on governments, with Britain and Spain being particularly significant. In both countries a palpable unease about the 'march to war' is now being reflected in opinion polls showing a loss of support for the governing parties.

Second, the Bush administration could give the impression of reluctantly allowing more time for the political process at the United Nations, knowing full well that it will not even be ready to go to war for several weeks. Then, by mid-March, it can express its utter dismay at the lack of progress and declare that there is no alternative to war, having gone the last step for peace.

But it is the third aspect that is crucial - the pace and development of the UN inspection process in Iraq. As Hans Blix has indicated, this is already intensive and is still in the process of speeding up, as U-2 spy-plane flights start, the helicopter fleet becomes fully operational, pilot-less drones are brought in and French and Russian reconnaissance aircraft join the group.

It is always possible that the Unmovic inspectors will actually find the much-vaunted 'smoking gun' revealing the existence of Iraqi biological or chemical weapons, but if not, then the very intensity of their operations means that it would become more difficult for the United States to take the war route.

Moreover, the Saddam Hussein regime still has much to gain by offering a degree of cooperation. Its ideal position in late March would be widespread international opposition to the war coupled with a vigorous inspection process, the two making for a delay in the start of US military operations stretching right through April.

What, then, is the likelihood of war? To get as accurate an answer as possible to this, military planning is the vital consideration. All the indications are that the military build-up has been going on regardless of the political process and that there is a real sense of frustration among Bush's security team over the involvement of the UN. The bottom line is that everything will be in place by mid-March or very soon after; war is planned to begin around five weeks from now (19 Feb).

Alliance disunity, popular anti-war movements and problems at the United Nations are all annoying complications, but to the security hawks they are not particularly relevant. The war is going to happen. Given the absolute determination of people such as Cheney, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz and others, it is going to be very difficult to stop it.


Edited from e-mail by Roger Gall, quoting Western Morning News 25 February 2003, in the forum at  For the whole Lord's debate see For another article on the Lords vote, see

Plans to allow around-the-clock drinking in pubs, clubs and other licensed premises suffered a setback when the House of Lords voted against the moves. Peers also voted to continue to allow unlicensed live music to be played in pubs. Ministers are expected to overturn all last night's defeats when the Licensing Bill returns to the Commons.

Peers voted by 151 to 115, majority 36, to exempt most unamplified live music in pubs from restrictions in the Licensing Bill. Ministers suffered a second defeat when Opposition peers backed a call to exempt schools from what they regard as an over regulated entertainment licensing regime. Voting was 169 to 107, majority 62.

Peers also approved an Opposition move to put a new duty on the licensing authority to protect the "amenity and environment" of local residents. A spokesman for the Department for Culture, Media and Sport said: "As part of the normal parliamentary process we will consider the applications of the Bill and whether we need to take any further action."

24 February 2003

Swami's 2003 State of the Universe Address Swami Beyondananda, from via Holistic Connection newsletter 21.2.03

Hello everybody -- it is great to be here ... and you know what? We really have no choice. Because no matter where we are, we are always here. And it is always now. In fact, there's even a book called The Power of Now. I haven't had time to read it yet, but I hope to get to it in a later now. 

Meanwhile, back in this now, the issue facing the United States, and indeed the world is, will George Bush give in to his Big Iraq Attack and order up a war? Latest reports say that a war to force a regime change in Iraq will cost $200 billion. It is puzzling to me why some of those fiscal fitness fanatics in the Republican Party haven't tried to find a cheaper way to do it. Maybe if they offered the Iraqis half -- $100 billion -- they could do it themselves. Then we'd still have $100 billion left to spend on regime change in this country. Because -- and I have to be blunt here -- the folks we have in charge are fossils fueled by fossil fuels. And in the reptilian brain, problems aren't solved, they're attacked. Like the War on Poverty. Remember that? I'm happy to report that it's finally over. The poor people have all surrendered. And take the War on Drugs -- please! How many billions have they spent? My solution is cheaper and more effective ... improve reality! 

Now we have the War on Terrorism. We're going to terrorize those terrorists into giving up terrorism if it's the last thing we do! And it just might be. The good news is -- and I have it on the Highest Authority -- there will indeed be peace on Earth. Whether we humans are around to enjoy it, that is up to us. No wonder there is so much fear, uncertainty and confusion on the planet. I'll tell you how bad it's gotten. You've heard of Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle? Well, they're not even sure about THAT anymore. And so, more and more people are turning to the mystics for answers. I have often said there are two kinds of mystics, the optimystics and the pessimystics. Now pessimystics seem to be more in touch with "reality," but optimystics are happier and live longer for some reason. The pessimystics have been crying, "The sky is falling, the sky is falling!" The optimystics say, "No. It just looks that way because we are ascending." 

Now, for those people who read the news -- not to mention those unfortunate enough to BE in the news -- last year was not an easy year to keep an optimystic attitude with so much pessimystic evidence. Call me a hopeless "hopium" addict, but I choose to accentuate the positive. For example, you can say we human beings have moved further down the path of self-destruction. Or you could say the Earth is ridding itself of a virulent parasite. You can despair over continuing war, disease and starvation, or you can go, "Hey, population control the good, old fashioned way -- without birth control or abortion." Who says "compassionate conservative" is an oxymoron? 

21 February 2003


Kim Howells, the Minister responsible for the Licensing Bill has announced significant changes, and new consultation (see earlier article on 29 January for background). On 3 Feb, he announced that "we have decided that places of public worship across the country will not need a licence to put on regulated entertainment of any kind. I can also tell you that we intend to exempt village and community halls from fees associated with the provision of entertainment or entertainment facilities under the licensing regime". This follows outcry from members of  choirs, orchestras, and other instrumental groups. I note the different wording for churches (no licence needed) and village halls (no fees - but do they still need a licence?)

Then on 18 Feb. the government announced a package of measures to allay fears about the Licensing Bill's impact on live music. The three strands of the package are:

1. An invite to the music world, along with local authorities and industry, to inform the drawing up of statutory guidance for licensing authorities that will ensure venues can put on live music more easily, while protecting the rights of local residents.

2. Amending the Bill to make it clear that entertainers who perform at unlicensed venues will not be committing an offence, unless they have a role in organising or managing the entertainment themselves.

3. Issuing a leaflet entitled "The answer to 20 myths about public entertainment and the Licensing Bill" that sets the record straight on some of the most pervasive myths being circulated about the Bill.

The first strand of the package follows concerns expressed by musicians that licensees will be discouraged from putting on entertainment by a fear that licensing authorities will impose unnecessary and costly conditions to their licences, such as requesting expensive adjustments to venues. The guidance will clarify what appropriate conditions are. The Government plans to set up a working group of key players from the music world, local authorities and the industry to inform it in deciding how to take the work forward. The group aims to report back in April, but in the meantime the issue will be discussed with representatives of the music industry at a summit on February 26 and at a face-to-face meeting between Kim Howells and John F Smith, the General Secretary of the Musicians' Union, on March 4.

This info about the 18 Feb. package seems to come from a government press release - full text on the discussion forum at - see message "Howells (now) asks for help!!!" By Roger Gall 02/18/03. All the above is welcome, but the leaflet answering "20 myths" certainly does not deal with some of the main concerns expressed here and elsewhere - I still have not had clarification of the situation for recreational dancing. Obviously exemptions for church and village halls will let many recreational dance groups off the hook, but not all - and there is still the question of outdoor displays. It will be interesting to see how the lawyers define what is a village or community hall! There is still a lot more that needs changing about this Bill.

18 February 2003 (updated from 13 October, 2002)


Neil Mackay (Sunday Herald), republished in Holistic Connection e-newsletter, further edited by Paul. Download entire "Rebuilding America's Defenses" document in pdf format. John Pilger Reveals the American Plan (New Statesman, 16 Dec. 2002) tells how the US government has manipulated the attacks of September 11 2001 to further the aims described below....

A blueprint for US global domination reveals that President Bush and his cabinet were planning a premeditated attack on Iraq to secure 'regime change' even before he took power in January 2001. The blueprint, uncovered by the Sunday Herald, for the creation of a 'global Pax Americana' was drawn up for Dick Cheney (now vice- president), Donald Rumsfeld (defence secretary), Paul Wolfowitz (Rumsfeld's deputy), George W Bush's younger brother Jeb and Lewis Libby (Cheney's chief of staff). Entitled Rebuilding America's Defenses: Strategies, Forces And Resources For A New Century, it was written in September 2000 by the neo-conservative think-tank Project for the New American Century (PNAC). 

It says: 'The United States has for decades sought to play a more permanent role in Gulf regional security. While the unresolved conflict with Iraq provides the immediate justification, the need for a substantial American force presence in the Gulf transcends the issue of the regime of Saddam Hussein.' 

The document supports a 'blueprint for maintaining global US pre-eminence, precluding the rise of a great power rival, and shaping the international security order in line with American principles and interests'. 

This 'American grand strategy' must be advanced 'as far into the future as possible', the report says. It also calls for the US to be able to 'fight and decisively win multiple, simultaneous major theatre wars' as a 'core mission'. The PNAC blueprint supports an earlier document written by Wolfowitz and Libby that said the US must 'discourage advanced industrial nations from challenging our leadership or even aspiring to a larger regional or global role'. 

The PNAC report also: 

refers to key allies such as the UK as 'the most effective and efficient means of exercising American global leadership'; 
describes peace-keeping missions as 'demanding American political leadership rather than that of the United Nations'; 
reveals worries in the administration that Europe could rival the USA; 
says 'even should Saddam pass from the scene' bases in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait will remain permanently -- despite domestic opposition in the Gulf regimes to the stationing of US troops -- as 'Iran may well prove as large a threat to US interests as Iraq has'; 
spotlights China for 'regime change' saying 'it is time to increase the presence of American forces in southeast Asia'. This, it says, may lead to 'American and allied power providing the spur to the process of democratisation in China'; 
calls for the creation of 'US Space Forces', to dominate space, and the total control of cyberspace to prevent 'enemies' using the internet against the US; 
hints that, despite threatening war against Iraq for developing weapons of mass destruction, the US may consider developing biological weapons -- which the nation has banned -- in decades to come. It says: 'New methods of attack -- electronic, 'non-lethal', biological -- will be more widely available ... combat likely will take place in new dimensions, in space, cyberspace, and perhaps the world of microbes ... advanced forms of biological warfare that can 'target' specific genotypes may transform biological warfare from the realm of terror to a politically useful tool'.

Tam Dalyell, the Labour MP, father of the House of Commons said: 'This is garbage from right-wing think-tanks stuffed with chicken-hawks -- men who have never seen the horror of war but are in love with the idea of war. Men like Cheney, who were draft-dodgers in the Vietnam war. I am appalled that a British Labour Prime Minister should have got into bed with a crew which has this moral standing.' 

12 February 2003

Reckless Administration May Reap Disastrous Consequences

Extracts from Senate floor speech by US Senator Robert Byrd - full text offsite here

.."this Chamber is, for the most part, silent -- ominously, dreadfully silent. There is no debate, no discussion, no attempt to lay out for the nation the pros and cons of this particular war. There is nothing".

"This nation is about to embark upon the first test of a revolutionary doctrine applied in an extraordinary way at an unfortunate time. The doctrine of preemption -- the idea that the United States or any other nation can legitimately attack a nation that is not imminently threatening but may be threatening in the future -- is a radical new twist on the traditional idea of self defense. It appears to be in contravention of international law and the UN Charter. And it is being tested at a time of world-wide terrorism, making many countries around the globe wonder if they will soon be on our -- or some other nation's -- hit list. High level Administration figures recently refused to take nuclear weapons off of the table when discussing a possible attack against Iraq. What could be more destabilizing and unwise than this type of uncertainty, particularly in a world where globalism has tied the vital economic and security interests of many nations so closely together? There are huge cracks emerging in our time-honored alliances, and U.S. intentions are suddenly subject to damaging worldwide speculation. Anti-Americanism based on mistrust, misinformation, suspicion, and alarming rhetoric from U.S. leaders is fracturing the once solid alliance against global terrorism which existed after September 11".

12 February 2003


Shocking new footage broadcast on British TV for the first time tonight ('The Big Story', 11.30pm, ITV1) reveals the humanitarian crisis already unfolding in Iraq. Shot by Green MEP Caroline Lucas during a recent European Parliament delegation to Iraq, the film shows the reality of war and the effects of 12 years of economic sanctions imposed on the country following the 1991 Gulf War.

"These pictures provide a compelling case against war all of us can understand," said Dr Lucas, Green MEP for South-East England. "They show the gruesome human costs of war - malnourished babies, birth defects and gruesome scenes reminiscent of Vietnam."

In one sequence hospital staff in Basra, close to Iraq's border with Kuwait, show Dr Lucas a photo-album filled with harrowing images of babies born with congenital defects, and claim such abnormalities have been common across Iraq since the 1991 allied invasion. Some are barely recognisable as human, with bloody growths, extra or missing limbs and grotesque abnormalities.

"These pictures tell the true story of war," said Dr Lucas. "These shocking mutations are the result of radiation exposure caused by the use of depleted uranium-tipped weapons used by allied forces in Operation Desert Storm. This suffering has been made so much worse by a shortage of medicines banned under the UN sanctions regime and the exodus of skilled medical personnel."

A doctor in Iraq earns as little as $20 a month.

Another shot shows Fatima, an eight month old baby girl weighing less than a healthy newborn, typical of the millions of victims of malnutrition caused by the collapse of the Iraqi economy as a result of Western sanctions. More than 50 per cent of Iraq's 23 million population is dependent on World Food programme administered handouts under the 'Oil for Food' programme. Chronic malnutrition is widespread, with one in ten children dying of hunger before their fifth birthday. Millions will go hungry if the food distribution network is disrupted during any military attack.

 Dr Lucas said; "No-one doubts that Saddam is a brutal dictator and bears much responsibility for the desperate plight of the Iraqi people. But it is ordinary men, women and children, not Saddam, that will be on 'front line' of any attack.

7 February 2003

Blair, Hoon and Straw May be Investigated for War Crimes edited from Holistic Connection newsletter 7.2.03

If the UK is involved in the use of force against Iraq the leaders of the UK Government will be investigated by the prosecutor of the international Criminal Court (ICC) if it breaches international humanitarian law (IHL). So promise a coalition of professors of law and leading NGOs from around the world. The UK, US and Canadian Governments have today been served with letters before action warning them of the consequences of an illegal use of force against Iraq. In the UK, Tony Blair was served at 10 Downing Street during filming for a Channel 4 TV programme on January 31. 

The ICC came into being in July 2002 and is shortly to commence work. It will investigate and prosecute those guilty of "genocide," "crimes against humanity" and "war crimes." The definition of "war crimes" is wide and would catch indiscriminate methods of attack or weapon systems used by the UK and US in the 1991 Gulf War, and in Kosovo and Afghanistan. Whereas those wars took place before July 2002 any war in Iraq could be subject to the ICC¹s jurisdiction. Thus the following which have been used in the past and are in breach of IHL are now prohibited: 
* Indiscriminate methods of attack against civilian centres such as high level airs strikes and attacks on cities such as Baghdad and Basra. 
* Indiscriminate weapons systems such as cluster bombs, fuel-air explosives, multiple rocket launcher systems or weapons using depleted uranium. 
* Attacks on Iraqi infrastructure 
* Attacks on electricity supplies (so as to cause the death of thousands of innocent civilians because of failed water sanitation plants). 
* Attacks on projects likely to release dangerous forces such as civil nuclear energy plants or dams. 

Michael Mandel of Lawyers Against the War (Canada) and Professor, Osgoode Hall Law School, Toronto said today: " Our governments are planning to commit nothing short of mass murder. They are planning to kill Iraqi civilians without any lawful justification or excuse. That's a crime in England and in Canada and under international law. No one is above the law, not even Prime Ministers. If they do this terrible thing, we are going to see to it they are personally brought to justice. We are going to prosecute each and every one of them for each and every crime they commit." 

For more information contact Phil Shiner on 0121 212 1868 

Page updated 24.05.08


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