"Ain't Gonna Study War No More"

My Photo
Location: Brooklyn, New York, United States

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

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Top Ten Problems With John Bolton

1. Bolton’s role in the Bustani Affair helped block alternatives to the Iraq war. It reflected his personal as well as the administration’s bullying style of "diplomacy" when it came to clearing obstacles to attacking Iraq and demonstrates his personal disdain for international law and institutions, especially the UN. (Bustani was a UN chemical weapons expert that called for sending specialists to Iraq in 2002 to search for chemical weapons. Bolton was the point man for the Bush administration’s improper campaign to have him fired. Perhaps Bolton and the Bush people knew he’d find as much WMD in Iraq as US search teams have found since. Click for more information.

2. Bolton may have requested secret information from the National Security Agency about Syria’s weapons programs in order to exaggerate the advancement of those programs in order to build a case that Syria posed a serious or imminent threat. So far, documents related to this issue are being closely guarded by the White House, which refuses to show them to the Senate committee overseeing Bolton’s nomination process. What is there to hide?

3. Exaggerating or inventing information about countries Bolton doesn’t like wasn’t exclusive to Syria. Bolton tried to get two intelligence analysts fired because they disagreed with him about the possibility that Cuba had the potential to develop chemical and biological weapons. Witnesses stated that one of these individuals was Christian Westermann, an intelligence analyst with the State Department. Bolton argued with Westermann in 2002 while preparing for a speech in which he alleged Cuba had a biological weapons program. Cuba hadn’t done what Bolton claimed.

4. Bolton then misled the Senate under oath about punishing people who disagreed with him. Bolton misled the committee by testifying under oath that he did not seek to discipline, or have removed, intelligence analysts with whom he disagreed. But in the case of an intelligence officer for Latin America, the report said documents showed Bolton and his staff "actively discussed efforts to punish and remove the NIO (national intelligence officer) for several months in the summer and fall of 2002." Is this a paranoid personality?

5. Bolton has nothing but disdain for the UN and international law. Bolton once said, "there’s no such thing as the United Nations," adding that if the UN’s building in New York "lost 10 stories, it wouldn’t make a bit of difference." In 1998 he even spoke against the payment of any further U.S. dues to the world body. In the Bustani Affair, Bolton personally used the threat of withholding US dues to pressure other countries into supporting the call to fire Bustani. Bustani later was found to have been fired improperly and was offered a reinstatement.

6. Bolton was among the "ordinary citizens" who led a near riot in Tallahassee demanding an end to the vote count in the 2000 election in Florida. Bolton was a Bush-Cheney loyalist along with all of the other "ordinary" people that stormed a Tallahassee library that day. He was quoted by the media a saying, "I’m with the Bush-Cheney team, and I’m here to stop the count."

7. Bolton does not believe in diplomacy. After Ambassador Thomas Hubbard asked him to tone down the text of a speech commenting on Kim Jong-Il, Bolton refused, decided to forego diplomacy on the eve of crucial talks with North Korea and called Kim Jong-Il a "tyrannical dictator." North Korea then refused to have any dealings with Bolton. Despite what one thinks of Kim Jong-Il, Bolton’s inability to close his mouth precludes him from diplomatic service. The stakes involved in talks with North Korea included finding ways of avoiding escalating global nuclear conflict. How much Bolton contributed to the present impasse isn’t clear.

8. Bolton puts the "faulty" in faulty intelligence. According to senior intelligence officials testifying under oath to the Senate committee, Bolton’s draft testimony prepared for a House hearing on Syria in 2003 went well beyond what the intelligence community could clear. Several federal departments and agencies objected to what Bolton intended to say.

9. Bolton is a loose cannon. After trying to overstep his authority in the Syria testimony in 2003, Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage (at the time) instituted an extraordinary policy to address the problem, requiring all of Mr. Bolton’s public presentations to be cleared by Larry Wilkerson, Secretary Colin Powell’s chief of staff, or by the Deputy Secretary himself. Being such a loose cannon in a regime of loose cannons suggest that Bolton may be over the edge.

10. Bolton abused his power and access to secret intelligence to find out information about US individuals and businesses. According to the New York Times, the Bush administration has acknowledged that Bolton did this. Senate Democrats are concerned that Bolton abused his authority, for personal and political reasons: in order to keep track of opponents of administration pollicies but also to keep tabs on intelligence officials with whom he has had disagreements in the past. Definitely a paranoid personality in the Nixon vein.

--Contact Leo Walsh at pa-letters@politicalaffairs.net.

J'Accuse the American People

Enabling Evil

In 1996, Daniel Jonah Goldhagen published Hitler's Willing Executioners: Ordinary Germans and the Holocaust. His thesis is that the mass murder of Jews was not done on the quiet by a few Nazi fanatics. Instead, Goldhagen writes, by their complicity, ordinary Germans were willing participants in the slaughter.

In other words, the German people as a people were guilty as well, because they accepted and permitted the slaughter of an ethnic group.

Goldhagen's thesis has had rough sledding. German newspapers in the Third Reich did not report on the progress of the Holocaust. Few Germans had the means or were willing to take the risks of listening to British broadcasts, which had no reporters on the German scene to investigate extermination rumors. By the time the Holocaust was underway, Hitler and the Gestapo had an iron grip on Germans and the German military. The potent German war machine had fallen victim to Nazi hubris and bitten off more of Russia than it could chew. Opposition to Hitler rose within the military. Generals hatched plots to assassinate Hitler, but every attempt failed.

If generals commanding armies could not overthrow Hitler, it is unclear what ordinary Germans could have done. They could not vote Hitler out, as the Enabling Act had made him a dictator. The Gestapo had put a stop to civil liberties, and there was no free press. And, of course, there was no Internet reporting hard facts that the toady German media covered up.

The situation in America today is quite different from wartime Germany. There is still a free press, even though it is a toady corporate press without heart or courage. There is an opposition party, even though it is a toady opposition. Bush is not a dictator, even though a toady Congress has permitted Bush to accumulate power in the executive branch at the expense of both civil liberties and the separation of powers established by the Constitution. Americans have an abundance of hard facts available to them from a world press via the Internet. Americans have the weapons inspectors' reports, expert testimony, and now top-secret British government documents leaked to the Sunday Times of London. The documents reveal that the British government regarded Bush's premeditated invasion of Iraq as illegal and had concerns that Prime Minister Blair and his cabinet ministers could be brought up on war crimes charges for participating in naked aggression. The documents reveal that Bush's decision to invade Iraq had nothing whatsoever to do with the reasons he gave the U.S. Congress and the American people and that the "intelligence" he cited to justify his invasion was concocted and fabricated.

If Germans were complicit, as Goldhagen claims, how can Americans avoid the charge of complicity in Bush's crimes against Iraq when Americans are in possession of such damning facts and have the power of impeachment? Why do Americans tolerate a liar and a war criminal as their president?

Why has Congress voted still more money for an illegal war launched in deception?

Why does the U.S. military permit its human and physical resources to be squandered in a pointless war that has no strategy for victory and no timetable for withdrawal?

How can America be so dominated by a lame-duck president that it loses all sense of itself, its honor, and its purpose?

Americans are complicit in the deaths and maiming of thousands of American soldiers for no valid purpose. Americans are complicit in the deaths of tens of thousands of Iraqi women and children as "collateral damage." No one knows how high the number is because the Bush administration does not regard Iraqi lives as worth counting.

Bush's war of deception has devastated Iraq. Cities and towns are in ruins. Infrastructure is destroyed. Half the population is unemployed. Pollution and disease are rampant.

By continuing to defend Bush's lies, right-wing talk radio, Fox "News," the Weekly Standard, National Review, the Wall Street Journal editorial page, the N.Y. Post, the N.Y. Sun, and the rest of the neocon establishment are Bush's willing executioners. The neocon media differs not at all from the Nazi propaganda machine. The neocon media fosters the same hatred and blood lust: kill the Iraqis, invade Syria, bomb the Iranians, devise "usable nukes" to subdue the Muslims, kill the American traitors who criticize our Fuhrer, bend the world to our exceptional will.

How much more shame and complicity will Americans allow Bush and his neocon brownshirts to shovel onto their shoulders before Americans say "enough!" and remove from office the war criminal who has sullied America's good name?

Paul Craig Roberts

Robert G. Joseph: US Nuclear Warrior Takes The Helm

The top US government official now in charge of arms control advocates the offensive use of nuclear weapons and has deep roots in the militarist political camp. Moving into the job of John Bolton, the administration's hardcore unilateralist nominee to be the next US ambassador to the United Nations, Robert G Joseph is the right-wing's advance man for counterproliferation as the conceptual core of a new US military policy.

Within the George W Bush administration, Joseph leads a band of counterproliferationists who - working closely with such militarist policy institutes as the National Institute for Public Policy (NIPP) and the Center for Security Policy (CSP) - have placed preemptive attacks and weapons of mass destruction (WMD) at the center of US national security strategy.

Joseph recently replaced Bolton at the State Department as the new under secretary of state for arms control and international security affairs.

US security strategy, according to the new arms control chief, should "not include signing up for arms control for the sake of arms control. At best, that would be a needless diversion of effort when the real threat requires all of our attention. At worst, as we discovered in the draft BWC [Biological Weapons Convention] protocol that we inherited, an arms control approach would actually harm our ability to deal with the WMD threat."

Before the September 11, 2001, terror attacks, proponents of national missile defense and a more "flexible" nuclear defense strategy focused almost exclusively on the WMD threat from "competitor" states such as Russia and especially China, and from "rogue" states such as Iran, Iraq, Libya, Syria, and North Korea.

Joseph and other hardline strategists advocated large increases in military spending to counter these threats, while paying little or no attention to warnings that the most likely attack on the United States and its armed forces abroad would come from non-state terrorist networks.

Instead of advocating improved intelligence on such terrorist networks as al-Qaeda, which had an established record of attacking the US, militarist policy institutes such as the NIPP and CSP focused almost exclusively on proposals for high-tech, high-priced items such as space weapons, missile defense and nuclear weapons development.

After September 11, Joseph and other administration militarists quickly placed the threat from terrorism at the center of their threat assessments without changing their recommendations for US security strategy.

Joseph points to Iran and North Korea, as well as China, as the leading post-Cold War missile threats to the US homeland. Typical of strategists who identify with the neo-conservative political camp, Joseph continually raises the alarm about China, alleging China is the "country that has been most prone to ballistic missile attacks on the United States".

Joseph participated as a team member in crafting the influential 2001 report by the NIPP titled "Rationale and Requirements for US Nuclear Forces and Arms Control". The report recommended that the US government develop a new generation of "usable" lower-yield nuclear arms. The NIPP study served as the blueprint for Bush's controversial Nuclear Posture Review.

Joseph was instrumental in inserting the concept of counterproliferation into the center of the Bush administration's national security strategy. Counterproliferation is the first of the three pillars of the administration's WMD defense strategy, as outlined in the National Strategy to Combat Weapons of Mass Destruction - a document that Joseph helped draft - and in the White House's National Security Strategy.

In 1999, Joseph told the Senate Armed Services Committee that the country was unprepared to defend the homeland against new WMD threats. He recommended that the "United States acquire the capabilities to deny an enemy the benefits of these weapons. These capabilities - including passive and active defenses as well as improved counterforce means, such as the ability to destroy mobile missiles - offer the best chance to strengthen deterrence, and provide the best hedge against deterrence failure."

Joseph, founder and director of the Center for Counterproliferation at the National Defense University in Washington, DC, told the Senate committee: "We are making progress in improving our ability to strike deep underground targets, as well as in protecting the release of agents [meaning radioactive fallout]. We are revising joint doctrine for the conduct of military operations in an NBC environment [meaning one in which nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons are the weapons of choice], based on the assumption that chemical and biological use will be a likely condition of future warfare.

"In the new world we have entered, the only path to peace and security is the path of action," Joseph concluded - and that action includes the US's preemptive use of WMDs.

Not a high-profile hardliner like Bolton or former under secretary of defense for policy Douglas Feith, Joseph successfully avoided the public limelight - that is until the scandal of the 16 words in Bush's 2003 State of the Union Address about Iraq's alleged nuclear weapons development program.

Press reports and congressional testimony by Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) officials later revealed that the CIA had vigorously protested the inclusion in that speech of any assertion that Iraq was developing nuclear weapons since their intelligence would not support such a conclusion. Alan Foley, the CIA's top expert on weapons of mass destruction, told Congress that Joseph repeatedly pressed the CIA to back the inclusion in Bush's speech of a statement about Iraq's attempts to buy uranium from Niger.

The new under secretary of state for arms control has said his "starting point and first conclusion" in formulating national security strategy is the fact that "nuclear, biological and chemical weapons are a permanent feature of the international environment".

As his second conclusion, Joseph asserted that nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons "have substantial utility", and added as a corollary that a versatile US WMD capability is essential "to deny an enemy of these weapons" since "the threat of retaliation or punishment that formed the basis for our deterrent policy in the Cold War is not likely to be sufficient".

The arms control chief is a new breed of militarist who believes that in a world where weapons of mass destruction may be proliferating, it behooves the United States to bolster its own WMD arsenal and then use it against other proliferators.

Tom Barry

Tom Barry is policy director of the International Relations Center.
Published with permission of the International Relations Center

(Copyright 2005 International Relations Center.)

Marching to (Illegal) War

A British cabinet briefing paper warns ministers that the way to war between the United States and Iraq had been settled in private meetings between President George W Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair in March of that year, 2002. The briefing memo (reproduced below), obtained by the Sunday Times of London, goes on to say that because "regime change" was illegal, it was up to the ministers to construct a legal framework for the inevitable invasion.

The reasoning, as explained to the ministers, was the Americans' use of British bases in Diego Garcia and Cyprus, a move that would implicate Britain in any legal challenges after the fact. Strategies outlined expressed the hope Saddam Hussein would refuse to cooperate with United Nations weapons inspectors. "It is just possible that an ultimatum could be cast in terms which Saddam would reject."

The document goes on to express doubt that, failing Saddam's rejection of UN demands, an invasion could be justified. This attempt to manipulate the UN to get the war started is in stark contradiction to Bush's assertion last week that he and Blair had tried every avenue at the UN to avoid going to war.

The Sunday Times unleashed a firestorm for Blair in the days leading up to the British election in early May with the release of a memo detailing a meeting between Britain's head of MI6 and top ministers, including Blair, where the Bush administration "sexed-up" intelligence to justify a war with Iraq.

Though this memo story has played large in the United Kingdom since the Sunday Times revelations, Americans, the blogosphere notwithstanding, have been late to the story, but protest is growing there. Now, the corporate media have gingerly picked it up.

Eighty-nine Democratic congressional representatives have issued a letter to the White House demanding clarification on the MI6 assertion that "intelligence and facts were being fixed around the [Iraq] policy". The White House has so far declined to respond.

The Democrats have since announced plans to launch their own inquiry, beginning this Thursday. Witnesses scheduled include former ambassador and Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) contractor Joseph Wilson, who debunked "intelligence" linking Saddam to an attempt to secure yellow-cake uranium from Niger. Wilson's wife, Valerie Plame, was subsequently "outed" as a CIA agent by as yet unidentified administration insiders in a move many interpret as revenge for Wilson's outspoken rebuttal of the White House claims on the Niger file.

Chris Cook hosts Gorilla Radio, a weekly public affairs program, broad/webcast from the University of Victoria, Canada. He also serves as a contributing editor to PEJ.org. (Published with permission of PEJ.org )

The briefing paper

[The paper, produced by the Cabinet Office on July 21, 2002, is incomplete because the last page is missing.]

Cabinet Office paper: Conditions for military action


Iraq: Conditions for military action (a note by officials)


Ministers are invited to:
(1) Note the latest position on US military planning and timescales for possible action.

(2) Agree that the objective of any military action should be a stable and law-abiding Iraq, within present borders, cooperating with the international community, no longer posing a threat to its neighbors or international security, and abiding by its international obligations on WMD [weapons of mass destruction].

(3) Agree to engage the US on the need to set military plans within a realistic political strategy, which includes identifying the succession to Saddam Hussein and creating the conditions necessary to justify government military action, which might include an ultimatum for the return of UN weapons inspectors to Iraq. This should include a call from the Prime Minister to President Bush ahead of the briefing of US military plans to the president on August 4.

(4) Note the potentially long lead times involved in equipping UK armed forces to undertake operations in the Iraqi theater and agree that the MOD [Minister of Defense] should bring forward proposals for the procurement of Urgent Operational Requirements under cover of the lessons learned from Afghanistan and the outcome of SR2002.

(5) Agree to the establishment of an ad hoc group of officials under Cabinet Office chairmanship to consider the development of an information campaign to be agreed with the US.


1. The US government's military planning for action against Iraq is proceeding apace. But, as yet, it lacks a political framework. In particular, little thought has been given to creating the political conditions for military action, or the aftermath and how to shape it.

2. When the prime minister discussed Iraq with President Bush at Crawford in April he said that the UK would support military action to bring about regime change, provided that certain conditions were met: efforts had been made to construct a coalition/shape public opinion, the Israel-Palestine crisis was quiescent, and the options for action to eliminate Iraq's WMD through the UN weapons inspectors had been exhausted.

3. We need now to reinforce this message and to encourage the US government to place its military planning within a political framework, partly to forestall the risk that military action is precipitated in an unplanned way by, for example, an incident in the no fly zones. This is particularly important for the UK because it is necessary to create the conditions in which we could legally support military action. Otherwise, we face the real danger that the US will commit themselves to a course of action which we would find very difficult to support.

4. In order to fulfill the conditions set out by the prime minister for UK support for military action against Iraq, certain preparations need to be made, and other considerations taken into account. This note sets them out in a form which can be adapted for use with the US government. Depending on US intentions, a decision in principle may be needed soon on whether and in what form the UK takes part in military action.

The goal

5. Our objective should be a stable and law-abiding Iraq, within present borders, cooperating with the international community, no longer posing a threat to its neighbors or to international security, and abiding by its international obligations on WMD. It seems unlikely that this could be achieved while the current Iraqi regime remains in power. US military planning unambiguously takes as its objective the removal of Saddam Hussein's regime, followed by elimination if Iraqi WMD. It is, however, by no means certain, in the view of UK officials, that one would necessarily follow from the other. Even if regime change is a necessary condition for controlling Iraqi WMD, it is certainly not a sufficient one.

US military planning

6. Although no political decisions have been taken, US military planners have drafted options for the US government to undertake an invasion of Iraq. In a "running start", military action could begin as early as November of this year, with no overt military buildup. Air strikes and support for opposition groups in Iraq would lead initially to small-scale land operations, with further land forces deploying sequentially, ultimately overwhelming Iraqi forces and leading to the collapse of the Iraqi regime. A "generated start" would involve a longer buildup before any military action were taken, as early as January 2003. US military plans include no specifics on the strategic context either before or after the campaign. Currently, the preference appears to be for the "running start".

7. US plans assume, as a minimum, the use of British bases in Cyprus and Diego Garcia. This means that legal base issues would arise virtually whatever option ministers choose with regard to UK participation.

The viability of the plans

8. The Chiefs of Staff have discussed the viability of US military plans. Their initial view is that there are a number of questions which would have to be answered before they could assess whether the plans are sound. Notably these include the realism of the "running start", the extent to which the plans are proof against Iraqi counter-attack using chemical or biological weapons and the robustness of US assumptions about the bases and about Iraqi (un)willingness to fight.

UK military contribution

9. The UK's ability to contribute forces depends on the details of the US military planning and the time available to prepare and deploy them. The MOD is examining how the UK might contribute to US-led action. The options range from deployment of a division (ie Gulf War-sized contribution plus naval and air forces) to making available bases. It is already clear that the UK could not generate a division in time for an operation in January 2003, unless publicly visible decisions were taken very soon. Maritime and air forces could be deployed in time, provided adequate basing arrangements could be made. The lead times involved in preparing for UK military involvement include the procurement of Urgent Operational Requirements, for which there is no financial provision.

The conditions necessary for military action

10. Aside from the existence of a viable military plan, we consider the following conditions necessary for military action and UK participation: justification/legal base; an international coalition; a quiescent Israel/Palestine; a positive risk/benefit assessment; and the preparation of domestic opinion.


11. US views of international law vary from that of the UK and the international community. Regime change per se is not a proper basis for military action under international law. But regime change could result from action that is otherwise lawful. We would regard the use of force against Iraq, or any other state, as lawful if exercised in the right of individual or collective self-defense, if carried out to avert an overwhelming humanitarian catastrophe, or authorized by the UN Security Council. A detailed consideration of the legal issues, prepared earlier this year, is at Annex A. The legal position would depend on the precise circumstances at the time. Legal bases for an invasion of Iraq are in principle conceivable in both the first two instances, but would be difficult to establish because of, for example, the tests of immediacy and proportionality. Further legal advice would be needed on this point.

12. This leaves the route under the UNSC [United Nations Security Council] resolutions on weapons inspectors. [UN Secretary General] Kofi Annan has held three rounds of meetings with Iraq in an attempt to persuade them to admit the UN weapons inspectors. These have made no substantive progress; the Iraqis are deliberately obfuscating. Annan has downgraded the dialogue but more pointless talks are possible. We need to persuade the UN and the international community that this situation cannot be allowed to continue ad infinitum. We need to set a deadline, leading to an ultimatum. It would be preferable to obtain backing of a UNSCR for any ultimatum and early work would be necessary to explore with Kofi Annan and the Russians, in particular, the scope for achieving this.

13. In practice, facing pressure of military action, Saddam is likely to admit weapons inspectors as a means of forestalling it. But once admitted, he would not allow them to operate freely. UNMOVIC (the successor to UNSCOM) will take at least six months after entering Iraq to establish the monitoring and verification system under Resolution 1284 necessary to assess whether Iraq is meeting its obligations. Hence, even if UN inspectors gained access today, by January 2003 they would at best only just be completing setting up. It is possible that they will encounter Iraqi obstruction during this period, but this more likely when they are fully operational.

14. It is just possible that an ultimatum could be cast in terms which Saddam would reject (because he is unwilling to accept unfettered access) and which would not be regarded as unreasonable by the international community. However, failing that (or an Iraqi attack) we would be most unlikely to achieve a legal base for military action by January 2003.

An international coalition

15. An international coalition is necessary to provide a military platform and desirable for political purposes.

16. US military planning assumes that the US would be allowed to use bases in Kuwait (air and ground forces), Jordan, in the Gulf (air and naval forces) and UK territory (Diego Garcia and our bases in Cyprus). The plans assume that Saudi Arabia would withhold cooperation except granting military over-flights. On the assumption that military action would involve operations in the Kurdish area in the north of Iraq, the use of bases in Turkey would also be necessary.

17. In the absence of UN authorization, there will be problems in securing the support of NATO [North Atlantic Treaty Organization] and EU partners. Australia would be likely to participate on the same basis as the UK. France might be prepared to take part if she saw military action as inevitable. Russia and China, seeking to improve their US relations, might set aside their misgivings if sufficient attention were paid to their legal and economic concerns. Probably the best we could expect from the region would be neutrality. The US is likely to restrain Israel from taking part in military action. In practice, much of the international community would find it difficult to stand in the way of the determined course of the US hegemon. However, the greater the international support, the greater the prospects of success.

A quiescent Israel-Palestine

18. The Israeli reoccupation of the West Bank has dampened Palestinian violence for the time being but is unsustainable in the long term and stoking more trouble for the future. The Bush speech was at best a half step forward. We are using the Palestinian reform agenda to make progress, including a resumption of political negotiations. The Americans are talking of a ministerial conference in November or later. Real progress towards a viable Palestinian state is the best way to undercut Palestinian extremists and reduce Arab antipathy to military action against Saddam Hussein. However, another upsurge of Palestinian/Israeli violence is highly likely. The coincidence of such an upsurge with the preparations for military action against Iraq cannot be ruled out. Indeed, Saddam would use continuing violence in the Occupied Territories to bolster popular Arab support for his regime.


19. Even with a legal base and a viable military plan, we would still need to ensure that the benefits of action outweigh the risks. In particular, we need to be sure that the outcome of the military action would match our objective as set out in paragraph 5 above. A post-war occupation of Iraq could lead to a protracted and costly nation-building exercise. As already made clear, the US military plans are virtually silent on this point. Washington could look to us to share a disproportionate share of the burden. Further work is required to define more precisely the means by which the desired end-state would be created, in particular what form of government might replace Saddam Hussein's regime and the timescale within which it would be possible to identify a successor. We must also consider in greater detail the impact of military action on other UK interests in the region.

Domestic opinion

20. Time will be required to prepare public opinion in the UK that it is necessary to take military action against Saddam Hussein. There would also need to be a substantial effort to secure the support of parliament. An information campaign will be needed which has to be closely related to an overseas information campaign designed to influence Saddam Hussein, the Islamic world and the wider international community. This will need to give full coverage to the threat posed by Saddam Hussein, including his WMD, and the legal justification for action.


21. Although the US military could act against Iraq as soon as November, we judge that a military campaign is unlikely to start until January 2003, if only because of the time it will take to reach consensus in Washington. That said, we judge that for climactic reasons, military action would need to start by January 2003, unless action were deferred until the following autumn.

22. As this paper makes clear, even this timescale would present problems. This means that:
(a) We need to influence US consideration of the military plans before President Bush is briefed on August 4, through contacts between the prime minister and the president and at other levels.

C L Cook

A Truckload of Nonsense

The G8 plan to save Africa comes with conditions that make it little more than an extortion racket

An aura of sanctity is descending upon the world's most powerful men. On Saturday the finance ministers from seven of the G8 nations (Russia was not invited) promised to cancel the debts the poorest countries owe to the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. The hand that holds the sword has been stayed by angels: angels with guitars rather than harps.
Who, apart from the leader writers of the Daily Telegraph, could deny that debt relief is a good thing? Never mind that much of this debt - money lent by the World Bank and IMF to corrupt dictators - should never have been pursued in the first place. Never mind that, in terms of looted resources, stolen labour and now the damage caused by climate change, the rich owe the poor far more than the poor owe the rich. Some of the poorest countries have been paying more for debt than for health or education. Whatever the origins of the problem, that is obscene.

You are waiting for me to say but, and I will not disappoint you. The but comes in paragraph 2 of the finance ministers' statement. To qualify for debt relief, developing countries must "tackle corruption, boost private-sector development" and eliminate "impediments to private investment, both domestic and foreign".

These are called conditionalities. Conditionalities are the policies governments must follow before they receive aid and loans and debt relief. At first sight they look like a good idea. Corruption cripples poor nations, especially in Africa. The money which could have given everyone a reasonable standard of living has instead made a handful unbelievably rich. The powerful nations are justified in seeking to discourage it.

That's the theory. In truth, corruption has seldom been a barrier to foreign aid and loans: look at the money we have given, directly and through the World Bank and IMF, to Mobutu, Suharto, Marcos, Moi and every other premier-league crook. Robert Mugabe, the west's demon king, has deservedly been frozen out by the rich nations. But he has caused less suffering and is responsible for less corruption than Rwanda's Paul Kagame or Uganda's Yoweri Museveni, both of whom are repeatedly cited by the G8 countries as practitioners of "good governance". Their armies, as the UN has shown, are largely responsible for the meltdown in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), which has so far claimed 4 million lives, and have walked off with billions of dollars' worth of natural resources. Yet Britain, which is hosting the G8 summit, remains their main bilateral funder. It has so far refused to make their withdrawal from the DRC a conditionality for foreign aid.

The difference, of course, is that Mugabe has not confined his attacks to black people; he has also dispossessed white farmers and confiscated foreign assets. Kagame, on the other hand, has eagerly supplied us with the materials we need for our mobile phones and computers: materials that his troops have stolen from the DRC. "Corrupt" is often used by our governments and newspapers to mean regimes that won't do what they're told.

Genuine corruption, on the other hand, is tolerated and even encouraged. Twenty-five countries have so far ratified the UN convention against corruption, but none is a member of the G8. Why? Because our own corporations do very nicely out of it. In the UK companies can legally bribe the governments of Africa if they operate through our (profoundly corrupt) tax haven of Jersey. Lord Falconer, the minister responsible for sorting this out, refuses to act. When you see the list of the island's clients, many of which sit in the FTSE 100 index, you begin to understand.

The idea, swallowed by most commentators, that the conditions our governments impose help to prevent corruption is laughable. To qualify for World Bank funding, our model client Uganda was forced to privatise most of its state-owned companies before it had any means of regulating their sale. A sell-off that should have raised $500m for the Ugandan exchequer instead raised $2m. The rest was nicked by government officials. Unchastened, the World Bank insisted that - to qualify for the debt-relief programme the G8 has now extended - the Ugandan government sell off its water supplies, agricultural services and commercial bank, again with minimal regulation.

And here we meet the real problem with the G8's conditionalities. They do not stop at pretending to prevent corruption, but intrude into every aspect of sovereign government. When the finance ministers say "good governance" and "eliminating impediments to private investment", what they mean is commercialisation, privatisation and the liberalisation of trade and capital flows. And what this means is new opportunities for western money.

Let's stick for a moment with Uganda. In the late 80s, the IMF and World Bank forced it to impose "user fees" for basic healthcare and primary education. The purpose appears to have been to create new markets for private capital. School attendance, especially for girls, collapsed. So did health services, particularly for the rural poor. To stave off a possible revolution, Museveni reinstated free primary education in 1997 and free basic healthcare in 2001. Enrolment in primary school leapt from 2.5 million to 6 million, and the number of outpatients almost doubled. The World Bank and the IMF -which the G8 nations control - were furious. At the donors' meeting in April 2001, the head of the bank's delegation made it clear that, as a result of the change in policy, he now saw the health ministry as a "bad investment".

There is an obvious conflict of interest in this relationship. The G8 governments claim they want to help poor countries develop and compete successfully. But they have a powerful commercial incentive to ensure that they compete unsuccessfully, and that our companies can grab their public services and obtain their commodities at rock-bottom prices. The conditionalities we impose on the poor nations keep them on a short leash.

That's not the only conflict. The G8 finance ministers' statement insists that the World Bank and IMF will monitor the indebted countries' progress, and decide whether they are fit to be relieved of their burden. The World Bank and IMF, of course, are the agencies which have the most to lose from this redemption. They have a vested interest in ensuring that debt relief takes place as slowly as possible.

Attaching conditions like these to aid is bad enough. It amounts to saying: "We will give you a trickle of money if you give us the crown jewels." Attaching them to debt relief is in a different moral league: "We will stop punching you in the face if you give us the crown jewels." The G8's plan for saving Africa is little better than an extortion racket.

Do you still believe our newly sanctified leaders have earned their haloes? If so, you have swallowed a truckload of nonsense. Yes, they should cancel the debt. But they should cancel it unconditionally.

George Monbiot

© Guardian Newspapers Limited 2005