MAY PEACE PREVAIL ON EARTH


December 18, 2002

Defeating the U.S. War Plans Series #9: Manufacturing Pretexts for World Domination, One Country at a Time

Hello everyone

Things are heating up with the U.S. war efforts and thus will require more and more of our attention in the coming weeks to counter - and hopefully defeat - those hegemonious plans for world domination. I particularly recommend John Pilger's article below to your attention.

Jean Hudon
Earth Rainbow Network Coordinator
http://www.EarthRainbowNetwork.com

This compilation is archived at http://www.EarthRainbowNetwork.com/Archives2002/DefeatingUSWar9.htm


CONTENTS

1. John Pilger reveals the American plan
2. Weapons of Mass Deception
3. Canada the peacekeeper has a noble record
4. Decoding Some Top Buzz Words of 2002
5. Persian Gulf — or Tonkin Gulf?


See also:

CONFRONTING IRAQ (Dec 11)
http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/chronicle/archive/2002/12/11/ED42780.DTL
Peaceful future or 'war without end'?

Groups stand against possible war (Dec 10)
http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/2002-12-10-anti-war-protests_x.htm
Thousands of Americans took part Tuesday in more than 120 anti-war vigils, acts of civil disobedience and marches in 37 states.

Peaceful future or 'war without end'? (Dec 11)
http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/chronicle/archive/2002/12/11/ED42780.DTL

Persian Gulf—or Tonkin Gulf?
http://www.prospect.org/print/V13/23/dreyfuss-r.html
Illegal"no-fly zones" could be war's trip wire

US Activists Visit Baghdad to Protest War Talk (Dec 13)
http://www.commondreams.org/headlines02/1213-01.htm
''There are so many Americans who oppose this war, and I don't think our government is giving us all the information. I'm going to get the truth from the Iraqi people - and bring it back home.''

Stars Shot Down Over Iraq (Dec 12)
ttp://www.commondreams.org/views02/1212-01.htm
When the stars came out on Tuesday to protest the White House's inexorable march to war, most media shot them down. In a celebrity-obsessed culture, this speaks volumes about how dissent is a dirty word nowadays. (...) With few exceptions, notably the hometown Los Angeles Times, most major papers either downplayed the story, or killed it. It's not surprising the hawkish Wall Street Journal ignored it. But the usually star-struck USA Today?

UN Hunts Iraqi Weapons, Opposition Meets in London (Dec 14)
http://dailynews.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story2&cid=574&ncid=721&e=1&u=/nm/20021214/wl_nm/iraq_dc
U.N. weapons inspectors pounced on about a dozen sites in Iraq on Saturday in their busiest day yet as President Saddam Hussein's foes met in London to plan for a future without him.

List Includes U.S. Firms That Aided Iraqis (Dec 13)
http://www.commondreams.org/headlines02/1213-02.htm
Iraq's 12,000-page declaration of its weapons programs lists American companies that provided materials used by Baghdad to develop chemical and biological weapons in the 1980s, according to a senior Iraqi official. The public release of such a list could prove embarrassing for the United States and highlight the extent to which the Reagan and first Bush administrations supported Iraq in its eight-year war with neighboring Iran in the 1980s. U.S. military and financial assistance to Iraq continued until Iraqi President Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait in August 1990. CLIP

Floundering Fathers All F's on nation-building report cards
http://reason.com/links/links121002.shtml
(...) The most recent case of nation building is, of course, Afghanistan, where it's unclear that leader Hamid Karzai controls all the bathrooms in his presidential palace, much less the countryside outside of Kabul. As Masood Farivar wrote recently in the Wall Street Journal, "Afghanistan lies in ruins and faces a real danger of slipping back into anarchy."

Time Magazine Continuing Coverage of Iraq
http://www.time.com/time/2002/iraq/




MOST IMPORTANT AND *VERY* COMPELLING, HARD-HITTING ARTICLE.

1.

From: http://pilger.carlton.com/print/124759

New Statesman (London) 16 December 2002

John Pilger reveals the American plan

Two years ago a project set up by the men who now surround George W Bush said what America needed was "a new Pearl Harbor". Its published aims have come alarmingly true, writes John Pilger

The threat posed by US terrorism to the security of nations and individuals was outlined in prophetic detail in a document written more than two years ago and disclosed only recently. What was needed for America to dominate much of humanity and the world's resources, it said, was "some catastrophic and catalysing event - like a new Pearl Harbor".

The attacks of 11 September 2001 provided the "new Pearl Harbor", described as "the opportunity of ages". The extremists who have since exploited 11 September come from the era of Ronald Reagan, when far-right groups and "think-tanks" were established to avenge the American "defeat" in Vietnam. In the 1990s, there was an added agenda: to justify the denial of a "peace dividend" following the cold war. The Project for the New American Century was formed, along with the American Enterprise Institute, the Hudson Institute and others that have since merged the ambitions of the Reagan administration with those of the current Bush regime.

One of George W Bush's "thinkers" is Richard Perle. I interviewed Perle when he was advising Reagan; and when he spoke about "total war", I mistakenly dismissed him as mad. He recently used the term again in describing America's "war on terror". "No stages," he said. "This is total war. We are fighting a variety of enemies. There are lots of them out there. All this talk about first we are going to do Afghanistan, then we will do Iraq . . . this is entirely the wrong way to go about it. If we just let our vision of the world go forth, and we embrace it entirely and we don't try to piece together clever diplomacy, but just wage a total war . . . our children will sing great songs about us years from now."

Perle is one of the founders of the Project for the New American Century, the PNAC. Other founders include Dick Cheney, now vice-president, Donald Rumsfeld, defence secretary, Paul Wolfowitz, deputy defence secretary, I Lewis Libby, Cheney's chief of staff, William J Bennett, Reagan's education secretary, and Zalmay Khalilzad, Bush's ambassador to Afghanistan. These are the modern chartists of American terrorism.

The PNAC's seminal report, Rebuilding America's Defences: strategy, forces and resources for a new century, was a blueprint of American aims in all but name. Two years ago it recommended an increase in arms-spending by $48bn so that Washington could "fight and win multiple, simultaneous major theatre wars". This has happened. It said the United States should develop "bunker-buster" nuclear weapons and make "star wars" a national priority. This is happening. It said that, in the event of Bush taking power, Iraq should be a target. And so it is.

As for Iraq's alleged "weapons of mass destruction", these were dismissed, in so many words, as a convenient excuse, which it is. "While the unresolved conflict with Iraq provides the immediate justification," it says, "the need for a substantial American force presence in the Gulf transcends the issue of the regime of Saddam Hussein."

How has this grand strategy been implemented?

A series of articles in the Washington Post, co-authored by Bob Woodward of Watergate fame and based on long interviews with senior members of the Bush administration, reveals how 11 September was manipulated.

On the morning of 12 September 2001, without any evidence of who the hijackers were, Rumsfeld demanded that the US attack Iraq. According to Woodward, Rumsfeld told a cabinet meeting that Iraq should be "a principal target of the first round in the war against terrorism". Iraq was temporarily spared only because Colin Powell, the secretary of state, persuaded Bush that "public opinion has to be prepared before a move against Iraq is possible". Afghanistan was chosen as the softer option.

If Jonathan Steele's estimate in the Guardian is correct, some 20,000 people in Afghanistan paid the price of this debate with their lives.

Time and again, 11 September is described as an "opportunity". In last April's New Yorker, the investigative reporter Nicholas Lemann wrote that Bush's most senior adviser, Condoleezza Rice, told him she had called together senior members of the National Security Council and asked them "to think about 'how do you capitalise on these opportunities'", which she compared with those of "1945 to 1947": the start of the cold war.

Since 11 September, America has established bases at the gateways to all the major sources of fossil fuels, especially central Asia. The Unocal oil company is to build a pipeline across Afghanistan. Bush has scrapped the Kyoto Protocol on greenhouse gas emissions, the war crimes provisions of the International Criminal Court and the anti-ballistic missile treaty. He has said he will use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear states "if necessary". Under cover of propaganda about Iraq's alleged weapons of mass destruction, the Bush regime is developing new weapons of mass destruction that undermine international treaties on biological and chemical warfare.

In the Los Angeles Times, the military analyst William Arkin describes a secret army set up by Donald Rumsfeld, similar to those run by Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger and which Congress outlawed. This "super-intelligence support activity" will bring together the "CIA and military covert action, information warfare, and deception". According to a classified document prepared for Rumsfeld, the new organisation, known by its Orwellian moniker as the Proactive Pre-emptive Operations Group, or P2OG, will provoke terrorist attacks which would then require "counter-attack" by the United States on countries "harbouring the terrorists".

In other words, innocent people will be killed by the United States. This is reminiscent of Operation Northwoods, the plan put to President Kennedy by his military chiefs for a phoney terrorist campaign - complete with bombings, hijackings, plane crashes and dead Americans - as justification for an invasion of Cuba. Kennedy rejected it. He was assassinated a few months later. Now Rumsfeld has resurrected Northwoods, but with resources undreamt of in 1963 and with no global rival to invite caution.

You have to keep reminding yourself this is not fantasy: that truly dangerous men, such as Perle and Rumsfeld and Cheney, have power. The thread running through their ruminations is the importance of the media: "the prioritised task of bringing on board journalists of repute to accept our position".

"Our position" is code for lying. Certainly, as a journalist, I have never known official lying to be more pervasive than today. We may laugh at the vacuities in Tony Blair's "Iraq dossier" and Jack Straw's inept lie that Iraq has developed a nuclear bomb (which his minions rushed to "explain"). But the more insidious lies, justifying an unprovoked attack on Iraq and linking it to would-be terrorists who are said to lurk in every Tube station, are routinely channelled as news. They are not news; they are black propaganda.

This corruption makes journalists and broadcasters mere ventriloquists' dummies. An attack on a nation of 22 million suffering people is discussed by liberal commentators as if it were a subject at an academic seminar, at which pieces can be pushed around a map, as the old imperialists used to do.

The issue for these humanitarians is not primarily the brutality of modern imperial domination, but how "bad" Saddam Hussein is. There is no admission that their decision to join the war party further seals the fate of perhaps thousands of innocent Iraqis condemned to wait on America's international death row. Their doublethink will not work. You cannot support murderous piracy in the name of humanitarianism. Moreover, the extremes of American fundamentalism that we now face have been staring at us for too long for those of good heart and sense not to recognise them.




2.

From: http://www.auschron.com/issues/dispatch/2002-11-29/cols_ventura.html

Weapons of Mass Deception

by Michael Ventura

In the days following 9/11, George W. Bush began speaking of "homeland security." Even then, some of us thought the phrase had a sinister, Orwellian ring. Bush proposed a White House Office of Homeland Security subject to no will but the president's -- no congressional oversight, no balance of constitutional powers, no accountability to the people. In the ensuing months a free press and some notable Democrats attacked the idea; the Democrats' counterproposal was a cabinet-level agency of Homeland Security, mandated by Congress and answerable to Constitutional checks and balances. Bush appeared to accede to this pressure and to accept the concept of a cabinet-level Homeland Security Department, mandated and overseen by the people's representatives. Most Americans think that's what they got when Congress recently passed the Homeland Security Act. What we really got was an intimidated Congress, frightened of appearing "soft on terrorism," which supplied Bush with the basic governmental structure necessary for a totalitarian America. These words no doubt sound extreme; perhaps they won't when you examine some details of your new Department of Homeland Security.

The new department will employ 170,000 people -- making it second only to the Pentagon as our largest government institution. Under its authority will be the Customs Service, the Coast Guard, the Secret Service, the Immigration and Naturalization Service, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the Border Patrol, and the Transportation Security Administration, to name a few. The New York Times reports that the bill "provides the new department with what congressional officials say is unprecedented power for a federal agency to organize itself as it chooses, without congressional oversight or interference" (authority "demanded by the Bush administration"). With the Secret Service and other law enforcement agencies under its control, Homeland Security will constitute an intelligence-gathering institution of massive proportions. "Administration officials acknowledge," says the Times, "that the Department of Homeland Security could eventually emerge as a rival to the FBI as a domestic intelligence-gathering agency." Language added to the bill since the recent election "allows the administration to reorganize the department after it is created." What this means in the real world is that essential security services (the Secret Service, the Coast Guard, and the Border Patrol) will no longer be subject to congressional "interference"; will no longer have to account for themselves to the people; and will no longer be answerable to any but the White House, which can institute any changes it wants in the new department without going to the people for approval. And the administration already admits that Homeland Security could become a super-FBI operating without any of the FBI's present constitutional constrictions.

In addition, the 170,000 Homeland Security employees will be stripped of civil service protections. This proposal was couched as a money-saving, anti-union tactic that would give the new department "flexibility" (Bush's word). What it means in everyday reality is the department will exert complete control over its employees, who will no doubt face severe consequences for acts of conscience (such as telling their fellow Americans what Homeland Security is really up to).

The Department of Homeland Security will include an Office of Information Awareness, employing a system that is being called Total Information Awareness: a massive computer database combining information from intelligence agencies with information gathered by commercial companies. Here is conservative columnist William Safire's description:

"This is what will happen to you. Every purchase you make with a credit card, every magazine subscription you buy and medical prescription you fill, every Web site you visit and e-mail you send or receive, every academic grade you receive, every bank deposit you make, every trip you book and every event you attend -- all these transactions and communications will go into what the Defense Department describes as 'a virtual centralized grand database.' To this computerized dossier on your private life from commercial sources, add every piece of information that government has about you -- passport application, driver's license and bridge toll records, judicial and divorce records, complaints from nosy neighbors to the FBI, your lifetime paper trail plus the latest hidden camera surveillance -- and you have the super-snoop's dream: a 'Total Information Awareness' about every U.S. citizen ... [the new agency] has been given a $200 million budget to create computer dossiers on 300 million Americans."

What is the rationale for this "Office of Information Awareness"? Not the "war on terrorism." None of the 9/11 attackers were American citizens; they would have barely shown up on such a database. The two or three Americans who have been connected to al Qaeda have been, by the government's own admission, low-level functionaries who posed no direct threat to public safety. "Total Information Awareness" is a war not on terrorism but on liberty. It's about terrorizing us -- for when people know their every move is being recorded by the government, they are apt to be cautious, self-doubting, and self-censoring, lest they draw the attention of the authorities. "Total Information Awareness" -- total as in totalitarian. That is the root of the word: total government control and coercion of the total range of human activity, for which the government requires (and will soon have) total information.

The Office of Information Awareness isn't an Orwellian fantasy. Thanks to a confused, timid, pliant Congress, it is now the law of the land. This "office," by the way, is under the command of John Poindexter. Remember him? In the Reagan administration, it was his idea to sell Iran missiles in exchange for American hostages, and then to use that money to fund an illegal (by U.S. and international law) "contra" movement against socialist Nicaragua -- "Iran/Contra" was his baby, and he was convicted on six counts for his crimes (one of them being that he lied to Congress under oath). But Poindexter served no prison time; Congress, you see, had granted him immunity. It is to Poindexter that every piece of information about your life is now being entrusted.

Add to this mix the rulings of America's new secret court. The New York Times reported that on Nov. 18 "a special federal appeals court" ruled "that the Justice Department has broad new powers ... the judges said today that the passage of [last year's USA PATRIOT Act] ensured that there is no wall between officials from the intelligence and criminal arms of the Justice Department ... Applications for criminal warrants must comply with the Fourth Amendment's proscriptions against intrusive searches and require an official declaration that there is 'probable cause' to believe the subject is involved in a crime. By contrast, the intelligence surveillance law requires only a showing that there is a probable cause that the subject is the agent of a foreign power," which could mean anything. "Today's ruling was a significant victory for Attorney General John Ashcroft, who announced immediately that he would use it to greatly expand [my italics] the use of the special intelligence court by prosecutors to obtain wiretaps." A New York Times editorial commented that this appeals court's proceedings "are held in secret, and the government is the only party allowed to appear before it. [My italics; i.e., no other opinions are allowed legal representation in this court.] The members of the court are hand-picked by Chief Justice William Rehnquist ... The combination of one-sided arguments and one-sided judges hardly instills confidence in the court's decisions."

What all this amounts to is an unprecedented shift of power not only from Congress to the presidency, but from the Constitution to the presidency. The essential idea of the Constitution -- that the president is answerable to Congress and to free courts -- has been subverted, gutted. More power is now concentrated in the White House than at any time in our history. We have taken a huge step from a republic to ... the opposite of a republic. We are living in redefined America. The groundwork has been laid. The price has yet to be paid. You'll pay it, and sooner than you think. Yes: you. And me. And every other American. The word is totalitarian. There will be no exemptions.

Michael Ventura 11/29/02 - Austin Chronicle.

---

See also:

Letters at 3AM [12-13-02] BY MICHAEL VENTURA
http://www.auschron.com/issues/dispatch/2002-12-13/cols_ventura.html
You don't think that this whole thing with Iraq could have anything to do with the fact that Iraq sits on 10% of the world's oil reserves? Naw. It's gotta be them weapons of mass destruction. EXCELLENT ARTICLE!

Letters at 3AM [11-15-02] BY MICHAEL VENTURA
http://www.auschron.com/issues/dispatch/2002-11-15/cols_ventura.html
America has engaged in a long-term strategy, through three presidential administrations, to take over the Iraqi people whom we've made helpless from a ruthless form of bio-warfare.

Letters at 3AM [09-20-02] BY MICHAEL VENTURA
http://www.auschron.com/issues/dispatch/2002-09-20/cols_ventura.html
The White House is intent on totalitarian measures and war; it employs incoherence because it cannot speak plainly of its machinations.

OTHER COLUMNS BY VENTURA AT
http://www.auschron.com/issues/dispatch/deep_focus/cols_ventura.html




3.

Date: Fri, 13 Dec 2002
From: David Morgan <dmorgan@web.net>

Canada the peacekeeper has a noble record:

Since 1948, there have been 54 United Nations peacekeeping operations. Forty-one of those operations have been created by the Security Council in the last 12 years. There are currently 15 United Nations peacekeeping operations in the field.

The small island nation of Fiji has taken part in virtually every UN peacekeeping operation, as has Canada.

Who is in charge?

Although peacekeeping is not specifically mentioned in the United Nations Charter, the Charter gives the Security Council primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security. The Council creates and defines peacekeeping missions.

UN Peacekeepers Killed

1,785 UN military & civilian peacekeepers killed 1948 to 30 Sept 2002

India: 107
Ireland: 84
Denmark: 47
Zambia: 42
Canada: 106
Sweden 64
Finland: 44
Norway: 41
France: 94
Pakistan: 63
Nepal: 44
Fiji: 39
Ghana: 94
Nigeria: 57
Poland: 43
Austria: 38
UK: 92
USA: 54
Italy: 42
Ethiopia: 32

But Canada's name as a peacekeeper is now increasingly tarnished:

- Since 1991 Canadian warships have helped enforce sanctions on Iraq that have resulted in the deaths of 5,000 children each month.

- 24 March 1999 Canadian jets join NATO in the 78-day bombing of Yugoslavia, marking the first time Canada had ever broken the UN Charter by making an
aggressive attack.

- Since Oct 2001 Canadian forces join US in a lawless attack on the people of Afghanistan

- Prime Minister Chretien has responded positively to US request to join in a war on Iraq.

So we need to know more about this soldier who wrote this peace keeping poem. Does he belong to Canada's noble peace-keeping tradition? Where is he stationed? What are his duties.?

David Morgan

Veteran




4.

From: http://www.commondreams.org/views02/1212-09.htm

Published on December 12, 2002 by FAIR's Media Beat

Decoding Some Top Buzz Words of 2002

by Norman Solomon

How words are used can be crucial to understanding and misunderstanding the world around us. The media lexicon is saturated with certain buzz phrases. They're popular -- but what do they mean?

"The use of words is to express ideas," James Madison wrote. "Perspicuity, therefore, requires not only that the ideas should be distinctly formed, but that they should be expressed by words distinctly and exclusively appropriate to them." More than two centuries later, surveying the wreckage of public language in political spheres, you might be tempted to murmur: "Dream on, Jim."

With 2002 nearing its end in the midst of great international tension, here's a sampling of some top U.S. media jargon:

"Pre-emptive" This adjective represents a kind of inversion of the Golden Rule: "Do violence onto others just in case they might otherwise do violence onto you." Brandished by Uncle Sam, we're led to believe that's a noble concept.

"Weapons of mass destruction" They're bad unless they're good. Globally, the U.S. government leads the way with thousands of unfathomably apocalyptic nuclear weapons. (Cue the media cheers.) Regionally, in the Middle East, only Israel has a nuclear arsenal -- estimated at 200 atomic warheads -- currently under the control of Ariel Sharon, who has proven to be lethally out of control on a number of occasions. (Cue the media shrugs.) Meanwhile, the possibility that Saddam Hussein might someday develop any such weapons is deemed to be sufficient reason to launch a war. (Cue the Pentagon missiles.)

"International community" Honorary members include any and all nations that are allied with Washington or accede to its policies. Other governments are evil rogue states.

"International law" This is the political equivalent of Play Dough, to be shaped, twisted and kneaded as needed. No concept is too outlandish, no rationalization too Orwellian when a powerful government combines with pliant news media. Few members of the national press corps are willing to question the basics when the man in the Oval Office issues the latest pronouncement about international behavior. It's a cinch that fierce condemnation would descend on any contrary power that chooses to do as we do and not as we say.

"Terrorism" The hands-down winner of the rhetorical sweepstakes for 2002, this word aptly condemns as reprehensible the killing of civilians, but the word is applied quite selectively rather than evenhandedly. When the day comes that news outlets accord the life of a Palestinian child the same reverence as the life of an Israeli child, we'll know that media coverage has moved beyond craven mediaspeak to a single standard of human rights.

Although you wouldn't know it from U.S. media coverage, 80 percent of the Palestinians killed in recent months by the Israeli Defense Force during curfew enforcement were children, according to an October report from the Israeli human rights group B'Tselem. Twelve people under the age of 16 had been killed, with dozens more wounded by Israeli gunfire in occupied areas, during a period of four months. "None of those killed endangered the lives of soldiers," B'Tselem said.

Closer to home, in less dramatic ways, the concept of "human rights" melts away when convenient. Even an assiduous reader of the U.S. press would be surprised to run across some key provisions of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted by the United Nations more than 50 years ago and theoretically in force today. For instance, the document declares without equivocation that "everyone has the right to work, to free choice of employment, to just and favorable conditions of work and to protection against unemployment."

Perhaps the Universal Declaration passage least likely to succeed with U.S. news media appears in Article 25: "Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and the necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control."

Words expressing those kinds of ideas are scarce in our media lexicon.




5.

From: http://www.prospect.org/print/V13/23/dreyfuss-r.html

Persian Gulf—or Tonkin Gulf?

Illegal "no-fly zones" could be war's trip wire.

By Robert Dreyfuss

In a pair of editorials after the 1991 Gulf War, one of them titled "Don't Shoot Down Iraqi Aircraft," The New York Times called the plan to create vast "no-fly zones" (NFZs) in Iraq "legally untenable and politically unwise." The editorials, based on a careful reading of United Nations resolutions, were explicit: "The [cease-fire] accord permits Iraq to fly all types of aircraft and sets no restriction on their use. Shooting them down would put the United States in the position of breaking an accord it is pledged to uphold." Saying that Washington was entering "new and dangerous territory," the Times warned, "The purpose [of the NFZs] is unclear, probably unwise and maybe even illegal."

In fact, no UN resolution or other international authority exists to legitimize the NFZs, which are currently the scene of an intensifying air-to-ground firefight between an armada of U.S. and British warplanes and an ineffectual Iraqi defense system. The British-American presence over Iraq is a case of might-makes-right, and Iraq's feeble attempts to defend its skies are justified under international law. Yet the NFZs are immeasurably more explosive now because a unilateral U.S. interpretation of UN Security Council Resolution 1441, adopted on Nov. 8, provides a pretext for launching the war that President George W. Bush wants.

Since the resolution's passage, France, Russia, China and other nations, along with UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, have worried about the presence of "hidden triggers" in the resolution, and they've opposed unilateral action against Iraq. One of those triggers is embedded in the eighth paragraph, which reads, "Iraq shall not take or threaten hostile acts directed against any representative or personnel of the United Nations or ... of any member state taking action to uphold any Council resolution." But American operations in the NFZs aren't upholding any UN resolutions, a fact that hasn't deterred the White House and the Pentagon from warning that Iraq's self-defense efforts are reason enough to trigger U.S. military action. "The United States believes that firing upon our aircraft in the no-fly zone, or British aircraft, is a violation. It is a material breach," says Scott McClellan, a White House spokesman.

CLIP

Still, the United States insists on the existence of the hidden trigger. In an interview with The American Prospect, John B. Bellinger III, senior associate counsel to the president and legal adviser to the National Security Council (nsc), says that other countries clearly understand that Paragraph 8 refers to the NFZs. "They know why we put that in there," he says, even if the specific reference to the zones didn't make the cut. "We've told them, 'You may not buy our legal theory,'" he says. "But the whole idea is to test Saddam's cooperation."

The legal justification for the British-American NFZs is based on a shaky interpretation of several past UN resolutions, especially 678, 688 and others.

CLIP

In fact, the NFZs were created -- first in the north, in 1991, and then in the south, in 1992 -- by the United States, Great Britain and France, acting unilaterally. (France dropped out, first refusing to go along with President Clinton's expansion of the southern NFZ in 1996, then quitting altogether in 1998.) For more than a decade, the United States has played a lethal cat-and-mouse game over Iraq, carrying out increasingly provocative patrols, sometimes drawing Iraqi fire or radar targeting, and then launching widespread bombing or missile strikes. Since 1991, thousands of such sorties have been carried out. And since 1998, when fighting intensified, at least 300 Iraqis have been killed by U.S. and British attacks.

From the beginning, Iraq rejected the NFZs. "Iraq does not recognize the no-fly zone because it was not a UN job," said then-Foreign Minister Tariq Aziz in 1993. "It was imposed by the Western powers."

CLIP

Could U.S. military action against Iraq trump the inspections regime? There's a precedent. In 1998, when President Clinton decided to launch a massive bombing attack against Baghdad, UN inspectors in Iraq had to pack up and leave. Iraq didn't kick them out, though the perception that it did has lasted to this day. If Iraq continues to cooperate with the inspectors, or if Hans Blix, the chief UN weapons inspector, moves a bit too slowly for the White House, the intensifying shooting war in Iraq's skies could suddenly make all that irrelevant once again.




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