"Ain't Gonna Study War No More"

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Right-To-Life Party, Christian, Anti-War, Pro-Life, Bible Fundamentalist, Egalitarian, Libertarian Left

Sunday, March 20, 2005

Media Downplay Historic Day of Protests

Fayetteville, NC -- The second anniversary of the war was the impetus for major demonstrations throughout the world. In the United States, over 800 communities held events calling for an end to the occupation.

CNN, however, reported that in the United States "barely a ripple was made while large protests took place in Europe." The New York Times reported that protests in the United States ranged from 350 people in Times Square to thousands in San Francisco. Later in the same story, the Times reported that several thousand marched from Harlem to Central Park. If thousands marched in New York, why did the Times highlight the 350 in Times Square?

CNN's report was worse … nothing about US protests. While they only saw a ripple, a huge wave passed them by. If CNN had been in Fayetteville, North Carolina, they would have seen what could be a major turning point in the anti-war movement. The largest Anti-war protest ever in this heavily military town took place.

The march was led by two banners carried by family members of soldiers who died or served in Iraq. The first banner said "The World Still Says No to War" and the second banner was "Bring the Troops Home Now." A few feet behind was a banner carried by Veterans of the Iraq War. One of those veterans, Sergeant Camillo Mejia, recently served 9 months in jail for refusing to return to Iraq after leave. Mejia told the crowd: "After going to war and seeing its ugly face, I could no longer be a part of it."

Following the Iraq Veterans was Military Families Speak Out. "I can't remain silent on these issues, slap a yellow ribbon on my car and call it supporting our troops," said Kara Hollingsworth, the wife of a soldier serving his second tour of duty in Iraq. "I support our troops by making sure they are not put in harm's way unless absolutely necessary."

Many veterans of past wars were also among the ranks. Sections of the march resembled army units marching in formation calling cadence.

Speaker after speaker told stories of loved ones they had lost during the war and the now 2-year-old occupation of Iraq. Flag-draped mock coffins were carried by many.

Congresswoman Lynn Woosley of California called on the crowd to lobby Congress in support of House Concurrent Resolution 35, calling on the President to bring U.S. troops home.

The March was part of a series of events aimed at breathing new life into the anti-war movement. The first-ever Iraq Veterans Against the War national conference is also taking place, along with a Conference of Military Families Speak Out. A third major conference of Southern anti-war organizers is also taking place in Fayetteville.

CNN missed the boat … perhaps a good thing for them, since they were only prepared for a ripple and not the giant wave that formed in Fayetteville.

Scott Galindez

E.U. Fury Grows at Wolfowitz Appointment

The US deputy defence secretary, Paul Wolfowitz, has been summoned to Brussels to explain to an angry Europe how he would run the World Bank, in an escalation of the international row over his nomination to head the world's most important development body.

European countries are furious both at President George Bush's naming of an enemy of multilateralism and by the unilateral way it was done, and are considering whether to block it. But there are strong indications that, although Tony Blair knew of the appointment in advance, he did not inform his Secretary of State for International Development, Hilary Benn.

The summons - officially described as an "invitation" - was issued by Louis Michel, the new EU Development Commissioner, while he was attending a summit of G8 environment and development ministers in Derbyshire on Friday. His demand was welcomed by many EU governments, but Mr Wolfowitz, who has stressed his willingness to "listen" to his critics, has yet to respond.

A spokesman for Mr Michel said that Mr Wolfowitz was being asked to present his "vision for development and the role of the World Bank", which provides more than $20bn (£10.4bn) in funds to developing countries each year.

By tradition the US effectively appoints the president of the World Bank, while Europe chooses the head of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), its sister institution, even though the appointments are formally made by the institutions' boards. Until five years ago nominations were nodded through, but the US then blocked the European nomination for the IMF, creating a precedent. And just 10 days ago Mr Blair's Commission for Africa concluded that the practice should be replaced by an open competition to find the best candidate.

Europe collectively has 30 votes on the World Bank board, compared with jst 16 for the US, and governments are considering whether to use the Africa commission's recommendation and the IMF precedent to block the appointment. The EU and several governments are pointedly referring to Mr Bush's announcement as a "proposal" rather than a "nomination".

Most experts believe that, Europe will agree Mr Wolfowitz's appointment, rather than risk a prolonged row that might damage the bank.

But anger is rising both at the nomination itself and Mr Bush's arrogance in making it, after initial soundings had met with widespread opposition around the world. One senior British figure privately described it as an "abuse" of power by Mr Bush last week.

But Britain failed to raise the issue - or the Commission for Africa's recommendation - at an hour-long discussion of the commission's report at the summit. This has increased speculation that Mr Blair was squared by Mr Bush before the announcement was made.

Geoffrey Lean
The Independent on Sunday

U.S. Misled Allies About Nuclear Export

North Korea Sent Material To Pakistan, Not to Libya

In an effort to increase pressure on North Korea, the Bush administration told its Asian allies in briefings earlier this year that Pyongyang had exported nuclear material to Libya. That was a significant new charge, the first allegation that North Korea was helping to create a new nuclear weapons state.

But that is not what U.S. intelligence reported, according to two officials with detailed knowledge of the transaction. North Korea, according to the intelligence, had supplied uranium hexafluoride -- which can be enriched to weapons-grade uranium -- to Pakistan. It was Pakistan, a key U.S. ally with its own nuclear arsenal, that sold the material to Libya. The U.S. government had no evidence, the officials said, that North Korea knew of the second transaction.

Pakistan's role as both the buyer and the seller was concealed to cover up the part played by Washington's partner in the hunt for al Qaeda leaders, according to the officials, who discussed the issue on the condition of anonymity. In addition, a North Korea-Pakistan transfer would not have been news to the U.S. allies, which have known of such transfers for years and viewed them as a business matter between sovereign states.

The Bush administration's approach, intended to isolate North Korea, instead left allies increasingly doubtful as they began to learn that the briefings omitted essential details about the transaction, U.S. officials and foreign diplomats said in interviews. North Korea responded to public reports last month about the briefings by withdrawing from talks with its neighbors and the United States.

In an effort to repair the damage, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is traveling through East Asia this weekend trying to get the six-nation talks back on track. The impasse was expected to dominate talks today in Seoul and then Beijing, which wields the greatest influence with North Korea.

The new details follow a string of controversies concerning the Bush administration's use of intelligence on weapons of mass destruction. In the run-up to the Iraq invasion in March 2003, the White House offered a public case against Iraq that concealed dissent on nearly every element of intelligence and included interpretations unsupported by the evidence.

A presidential commission studying U.S. intelligence is reviewing the case, as well as judgments on Iran and North Korea. The Senate Select Committee on Intelligence also is reviewing evidence on nuclear, chemical and biological programs suspected in Iran and North Korea.

The United States briefed allies on North Korea in late January and early February. Shortly afterward, administration officials, speaking to The Washington Post on the condition of anonymity, said North Korea had sold uranium hexafluoride to Libya. The officials said the briefing was arranged to share the information with China, South Korea and Japan ahead of a new round of hoped-for negotiations on North Korea's nuclear program.

But in recent days, two other U.S. officials said the briefings were hastily arranged after China and South Korea indicated they were considering bolting from six-party talks on North Korea. The talks have been seen as largely ineffectual, but the Bush administration, which refuses to meet bilaterally with Pyongyang, insists they are critical to curbing North Korea's nuclear program.

The White House declined to offer an official to comment by name about the new details concerning Pakistan. A prepared response attributed to a senior administration official said that the U.S. government "has provided allies with an accurate account of North Korea's nuclear proliferation activities."

Although the briefings did not mention Pakistan by name, the official said they made it clear that the sale went through the illicit network operated by Pakistan's top nuclear scientist, Abdel Qadeer Khan. But the briefings gave no indication that U.S. intelligence believes that the material had been bought by Pakistan and transferred there from North Korea in a container owned by the Pakistani government.

They also gave no indication that the uranium was then shipped via a Pakistani company to Dubai in the United Arab Emirates and on to Libya. Those findings match assessments by the International Atomic Energy Agency, which is investigating Libya separately. Libya gave up its nuclear weapons program in December 2003.

Since Pakistan became a key U.S. ally in the hunt for al Qaeda leaders, the administration has not held President Pervez Musharraf accountable for actions taken by Khan while he was a member of Musharraf's cabinet and in charge of nuclear cooperation for the government.

"The administration is giving Pakistan a free ride when they don't deserve it and hurting U.S. interests at the same time," said Charles L. Pritchard, who was the Bush administration's special envoy for the North Korea talks until August 2003.

"As our allies get the full picture, it doesn't help our credibility with them," he said.

Pritchard, now a Brookings Institution fellow, and others had initially raised questions about the Libya connection when it became public last month. No one in the administration has been willing to discuss the uranium sale publicly.

In testimony to Congress last month, CIA Director Porter J. Goss spoke extensively about North Korea's nuclear arsenal and capabilities. But he gave no indication the intelligence community believed that North Korea had supplied nuclear materials to Libya, that it was capable of producing uranium hexafluoride or that it was a member of the nuclear black market.

Two years ago, U.S. officials told allies that North Korea was trying to assemble an enrichment facility that would turn uranium hexafluoride into bomb-grade material.

But China and South Korea, in particular, have been skeptical of those assertions and are becoming increasingly wary of pressuring North Korea.

The National Security Council briefings in late January and early February, by senior NSC officials Michael J. Green and William Tobey, were intended to do just that by keeping the spotlight solely on North Korea.

Pakistan was mentioned only once in the briefing paper, and in a context that emphasized Pyongyang's guilt. "Pakistani press reports have said the uranium came from North Korea," according to the briefing paper, which was read to The Post.

After initial press reports about the briefing appeared last month, Pyongyang announced that it possessed nuclear weapons and would not return to the six-party talks.

Pritchard said North Korea's reaction was "absolutely linked" to the Green-Tobey trip.

The United States tried to persuade North Korea to return to the talks, but without success. The North Korean leadership responded with a list of conditions, including a demand that Rice apologize for calling it an "outpost of tyranny."

During the first stop on her Asian tour, Rice used noticeably softer language on North Korea, telling a Tokyo audience that the U.S. offer was open to negotiation, and that North Korean leader Kim Jong Il should grab the opportunity.

Staff writer Glenn Kessler contributed to this report from Seoul
Dafna Linzer
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, March 20, 2005; Page A01

Two Years After Invasion, Few Are Celebrating

SCREAMING oaths and waving Kalashnikovs, the masked gunmen force their pick-up truck through the downtown Baghdad traffic jam, firing warning shots at anyone who fails to clear their path.

"These bastards shot a cousin of mine a few weeks ago for not getting out their way," snarls one driver over the grind of frantically reversing gearboxes. "Who the f*** do they think they are?"

The official answer is that they are the new Iraqi army, part of the US-trained security forces to which coalition armies hope to hand responsibility as soon as possible. To most Iraqis, however, they are just another group of unwelcome gunmen - and are less well-trained than the US forces or indeed the Saddam Hussein-era security goons they replaced.

Two years on from the first salvoes of coalition cruise missiles that heralded Saddam’s demise, the rookie militias charging nervously through the streets are the clearest sign of how fragile the new order is.

Their masks and aggressive manner make the capital feel as if it is run by terrorists - which, in many residents’ eyes, it is.

"Security is the constant worry," says Ruaa Jamal, a middle-class 23-year-old, whose demure appearance in traditional Muslim headscarf belies a hidden readiness for trouble.

In her handbag is a four-inch switchblade, ready at the flick of a button against robbers, rapists and kidnappers.

"I carry the knife whenever my father cannot take me to work, and I am thinking of buying a small ladies’ .22 calibre pistol, too. Many other girls I know already carry them."

What depresses Ms Jamal and many other Iraqis is that compared with this time last year, things seem to be getting worse, not better. Then, western diplomats in Baghdad were able to mark the anniversary by trumpeting achievements: the country’s creaking power network was back to pre-war levels, oil production had made a similar recovery, a mobile phone network was up and running and the security forces at last appeared to be taking shape.

Iraqi politicians were even dispatched abroad to talk about how the "reality" of the country was nothing like the scenes of car bombs and chaos shown on TV.

This time round, after a year of escalated insurgency, car bombs and kidnappings, even the most upbeat coalition spin doctors seem largely silent.

No glossy brochures have been churned out showing gleaming new power stations or waterworks - mainly because security problems have all but stopped reconstruction. Most parts of the country exist on no more than two hours of power in every six, and in nearly every city, residents of the world’s second biggest oil-producing nation spend days queuing for petrol.

Likewise, no foreign business leaders have been invited into town to talk up Iraq’s massive investment potential - the endless kidnappings have frightened off even the most hardy entrepreneurs.

Instead, virtually the only achievement of note in the past year has been January’s elections, which saw a newly elected parliament finally convene last week.

The fact that it had to convene in Baghdad’s super-secure Green Zone, however, was proof to many Iraqis that it will be a long time before any government can run without American help.

"The elections were good, yes, but they only did it by shutting down the whole country with a huge security operation for three days," said Hassan Jabar, 29, a shopkeeper. "Cars were not allowed to travel, the borders were shut. That is fine for elections, but it’s no use for running our country in the normal way."

Like Mr Jabar, many of those who risked car bombs and insurgents’ death threats to vote are now beginning to wonder if it will make any difference.

For the past seven weeks, the country’s politicians have become bogged down in horse-trading over who will be the new prime minister and president.

A deal is expected "within a week or two", but already, the new assembly’s glowing democratic mandate is sporting the tarnish of smoke-filled rooms.

Ms Jamal, who did not welcome the United States-led invasion, expected little different when she saw the first cruise missiles slam into her home city two years ago.

"I always thought the US occupation was about taking our oil, our black gold," she said. "It has been everything I expected - chaos, disorder and so on - although I did think it would actually be even worse."

The only upside, she says, is that she is now free to criticise, but the novelty of that is wearing thin after two years - particularly when nothing seems to change in response.

For all the pervading pessimism of the average Iraqi, US commanders maintain a pervading optimism. Last week, Richard B Myers, the chairman of the US joint chiefs of staff, insisted the insurgency was showing signs of losing momentum as Iraqi forces grew in strength.

The number of attacks on US forces was about 40 to 50 a day, he said, about the same as a year ago and far fewer than in the weeks before the 30 January elections.

"I think we’re getting some momentum built up against the insurgency," he said.

But statistics from other sources continue to paint a grim picture. Although US officials keep no records or estimates of violent Iraqi deaths under occupation, the website Iraqi Body Count, which tallies violent fatalities based on press accounts, says the reported death toll actually went up after the elections, with 606 deaths in February compared with 447 in January.

While the true trend behind the figures is hard to tell, there is no doubt that nearly every Iraqi can recount a tale of loss, often involving a loved one and often still fresh. A week ago, a friend of Ms Jamal’s was shot dead in his grocery shop. His only crime was being the brother of a former Baath Party member.

Nowadays, there are precious few opportunities to let off steam. As a young, single girl in Saddam’s time, Ms Jamal could wander the streets and meet her friends freely without worry.

Today, life is an endless round of nights in at home, chaperoned trips out and the occasional stay-over at friends’ houses. "In the old days, we could meet in clubs and in parks and other public places, but now the only place for that is at work or at the college - and there most people just finish work and go home early."

One might expect a more upbeat assessment from Baker Mughtadh, one of a group of young modern artists who work in studios in the Baghdad suburb of Karada. Hardship and strife, after all, are supposed to be the lifeblood of creativity.

Mr Mughtadh’s response is blunt: people who say that, he argues, have never seen the aftermath of a car bomb.

The Scotsman.com