Iraq 6: Stars and Gripes

March 18, 2003

CONTENTS

1. "Iraqis launch campaign of sabotage and defiance to undermine Saddam" (London Sunday Telegraph, March 16, 2003)
2. "See men shredded, then say you don't back war" (By Ann Clwyd, London Times, March 18, 2003)
3. "Vatican becomes anti-war rallying point" (AP, March 12, 2003)
4. Arab News editorial: "An illegal and immoral war" (March 18, 2003)
5. "Stars and Gripes Hollywood celebs aren't antiwar. They just hate the president" (Wall St. Journal, March 13, 2003)
6. "Iraqis sue over first Gulf War" (AFP, March 19, 2003)
7. "Home Front Command advises residents to seal rooms"


“IT IS ESSENTIAL TO LIBERATE THE PEOPLE OF IRAQ FROM THE REGIME OF SADDAM”

[Note by Tom Gross]

I attach a variety of articles and bulletins relating to Iraq:

1. "Iraqis launch campaign of sabotage and defiance to undermine Saddam" (London Sunday Telegraph, March 16, 2003). "To set an example, members of Saddam's security forces arrested a civil servant in the al-Hurriyya suburb of Baghdad on suspicion of preparing to leave the country. The unfortunate official was then tied to a pole in the street and passers-by were ordered to watch as his tongue was cut out and he was left to bleed to death."

2. "See men shredded, then say you don't back war" (By Ann Clwyd, London Times, March 18, 2003). Ms Clwyd, a member of parliament for Tony Blair's ruling Labor Party, relates horrific accounts of Saddam's torture and death machine: "Women were suspended by their hair as their families watched; men were forced to watch as their wives were raped... women were suspended by their legs while they were menstruating until their periods were over, a procedure designed to cause humiliation." And so on. "For these humanitarian reasons alone, it is essential to liberate the people of Iraq from the regime of Saddam," she writes.

3. "Vatican becomes anti-war rallying point" (Associated Press, March 12, 2003). Pope John Paul II and top Vatican officials are unleashing a barrage of condemnations of a possible U.S. military strike on Iraq, calling it immoral, risky and a "crime against peace."

4. Arab News editorial: "An illegal and immoral war" (March 18, 2003). "Is history repeating itself? It is as though the Middle East has not moved on since the end of World War I, when Western powers carved up what is now the Middle East to suit their own ends. Then, as now, Iraq was a morsel for the biggest power to dispose of at its pleasure."

5. "Stars and Gripes Hollywood celebs aren't antiwar. They just hate the president" (Wall St. Journal, March 13, 2003). "Some celebrities are at least honest about their hypocrisy. Comedian Janeane Garofalo was blunt in explaining why Hollywood types didn't protest any of Mr. Clinton's military ventures: "It wasn't very hip." That's ironic, because President Clinton's intervention in Kosovo it was much less justifiable. Weapons of mass destruction were not an issue; the rationale was exclusively humanitarian."

6. "Iraqis sue over first Gulf War" (Agence France-Presse, March 19, 2003). Seven Iraqi families have filed a lawsuit against former U.S. president George Bush, father of the current president, and three other U.S. leaders for alleged crimes during the first Gulf War in 1991, a lawmaker said. The action was brought under Belgium's universal competence law, which allows legal proceedings against people accused of war crimes, crimes against humanity, or genocide, regardless of their nationality or location.

7. "Home Front Command advises residents to seal rooms." Israeli army announcement advising Israeli citizens to seal their designated protective spaces, such as home shelters, shelters and sealed rooms.


FULL ARTICLES

IRAQIS LAUNCH CAMPAIGN OF SABOTAGE AND DEFIANCE TO UNDERMINE SADDAM

Iraqis launch campaign of sabotage and defiance to undermine Saddam
By Con Coughlin
The (London) Sunday Telegraph
March 16, 2003

Open acts of defiance by opponents of Saddam Hussein's regime have intensified in the past week, with saboteurs carrying out attacks against Iraq's railway system and protesters openly calling for the overthrow of the Iraqi dictator.

The most blatant act of sabotage took place 20 miles south of the north Iraqi city of Mosul when members of the Iraqi opposition blew up a stretch of track on the Mosul-Baghdad railway, causing the derailment of a train.

Before fleeing back to their base in Kurdistan, they left piles of leaflets by the side of the track urging the Iraqi soldiers who were sent to investigate the explosion to join the "international alliance to liberate Iraq" from "Saddam the criminal". In a separate incident, a rocket-propelled grenade was fired at a train illegally transporting fuel from Baghdad to Syria.

Demonstrations were also reported to have taken place in Kirkuk, where an estimated crowd of 20,000 marched on the Ba'ath party's main administrative headquarters demanding Saddam's overthrow. Three posters of the Iraqi leader were torn down and a grenade was thrown at the government building. One senior Ba'ath official was reported killed in the attack.

There were also unconfirmed reports that another demonstration by Iraqi Shi'ites in the holy city of Kerbala last weekend was violently suppressed after the intervention of militiamen loyal to Saddam.

The escalation in attacks by Iraqi opposition groups has also been accompanied by widespread acts of anti-Saddam vandalism. Posters of the Iraqi president, which adorn every public building, are being openly defaced and vandalised throughout the country.

Until recently anyone caught carrying out such acts would have received the death sentence. But the mounting acts of open defiance against Saddam's regime is indicative of the growing confidence being displayed by the main Iraqi opposition groups.

"Until recently such acts of open defiance were very rare, and were dealt with harshly," a Foreign Office official commented yesterday. "But as Saddam concentrates his energies on trying to protect his regime from attack, Iraqi opposition groups are becoming more audacious in their attacks."

The only area where Saddam can rely with confidence on the loyalty of his security forces is in the Ba'ath party's heartland around Baghdad. In an attempt to reassert his authority Saddam last week issued a directive ordering Iraqi officials not to give up their positions and flee the country.

To set an example, members of Saddam's security forces arrested a civil servant in the al-Hurriyya suburb of Baghdad on suspicion of preparing to leave the country. The unfortunate official was then tied to a pole in the street and passers-by were ordered to watch as his tongue was cut out and he was left to bleed to death.

 

SEE MEN SHREDDED, THEN SAY YOU DON’T BACK WAR

See men shredded, then say you don't back war
By Ann Clwyd
The Times of London
March 18, 2003

"There was a machine designed for shredding plastic. Men were dropped into it and we were again made to watch. Sometimes they went in head first and died quickly. Sometimes they went in feet first and died screaming. It was horrible. I saw 30 people die like this. Their remains would be placed in plastic bags and we were told they would be used as fish food... on one occasion, I saw Qusay [President Saddam Hussein's youngest son] personally supervise these murders."

This is one of the many witness statements that were taken by researchers from Indict - the organisation I chair to provide evidence for legal cases against specific Iraqi individuals for war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide. This account was taken in the past two weeks. Another witness told us about practices of the security services towards women: "Women were suspended by their hair as their families watched; men were forced to watch as their wives were raped... women were suspended by their legs while they were menstruating until their periods were over, a procedure designed to cause humiliation."

The accounts Indict has heard over the past six years are disgusting and horrifying. Our task is not merely passively to record what we are told but to challenge it as well, so that the evidence we produce is of the highest quality. All witnesses swear that their statements are true and sign them.

For these humanitarian reasons alone, it is essential to liberate the people of Iraq from the regime of Saddam. The 17 UN resolutions passed since 1991 on Iraq include Resolution 688, which calls for an end to repression of Iraqi civilians. It has been ignored. Torture, execution and ethnic-cleansing are everyday life in Saddam's Iraq. Were it not for the no-fly zones in the south and north of Iraq which some people still claim are illegal the Kurds and the Shia would no doubt still be attacked by Iraqi helicopter gunships.

For more than 20 years, senior Iraqi officials have committed genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity. This list includes far more than the gassing of 5,000 in Halabja and other villages in 1988. It includes serial war crimes during the Iran-Iraq war; the genocidal Anfal campaign against the Iraqi Kurds in 1987-88; the invasion of Kuwait and the killing of more than 1,000 Kuwaiti civilians; the violent suppression, which I witnessed, of the 1991 Kurdish uprising that led to 30,000 or more civilian deaths; the draining of the Southern Marshes during the 1990s, which ethnically cleansed thousands of Shias; and the summary executions of thousands of political opponents.

Many Iraqis wonder why the world applauded the military intervention that eventually rescued the Cambodians from Pol Pot and the Ugandans from Idi Amin when these took place without UN help. They ask why the world has ignored the crimes against them?

All these crimes have been recorded in detail by the UN, the US, Kuwaiti, British, Iranian and other Governments and groups such as Human Rights Watch, Amnesty and Indict. Yet the Security Council has failed to set up a war crimes tribunal on Iraq because of opposition from France, China and Russia. As a result, no Iraqi official has ever been indicted for some of the worst crimes of the 20th century. I have said incessantly that I would have preferred such a tribunal to war. But the time for offering Saddam incentives and more time is over.

I do not have a monopoly on wisdom or morality. But I know one thing. This evil, fascist regime must come to an end. With or without the help of the Security Council, and with or without the backing of the Labour Party in the House of Commons tonight.

(The author is Labour MP for Cynon Valley.)

 

VATICAN BECOMES ANTI-WAR RALLYING POINT

Vatican becomes anti-war rallying point
The Associated Press
March 12, 2003

Pope John Paul II and top Vatican officials are unleashing a barrage of condemnations of a possible U.S. military strike on Iraq, calling it immoral, risky and a "crime against peace."

The unwavering stance has made the pope one of the most visible opponents of war in current circumstances, and a rallying point for peace groups and politicians who seize on his words counseling against war. Even those supportive of a U.S.-led strike, including the prime ministers of Britain, Spain and Italy, have recently lined up to see him, aware of his leadership role.

President Bush, who has rarely met with opponents of his Iraqi stand in recent months, did receive an emissary from John Paul last week. Upon returning to Rome, the emissary, Cardinal Pio Laghi, said American officials had been friendly but that "friendship is not enough."

The next day, as he began a week of Lenten prayers, the pope said he will "bear in mind the needs of the Church and the concerns of all mankind, above all for peace in Iraq and the Holy Land."

The stance reflects what experts say is the Vatican's evolving position on just war, already seen by its opposition to the Gulf War, as well as concern about the impact of war on relations between Christians and Muslims.

"He is looking ahead for the rest of this century where Christian-Muslim relations are key to peace and religious freedom in Africa and many parts of Asia," said the Rev. Thomas Reese, editor of the Jesuit magazine America.

John Paul has insisted that war is a "defeat for humanity" and that a preventive strike against Iraq is neither legally nor morally justified.

Aides have repeatedly said the pope is not a pacifist, pointing to his support of humanitarian intervention to "disarm the aggressor" in Bosnia and East Timor and his repeat condemnations of terrorism following the Sept. 11 attacks.

But in some of the Vatican's strongest language against a possible war, its foreign minister Archbishop Jean-Louis Tauran said a unilateral military strike would be a "crime against peace" with no justification on grounds of self-defense.

Vatican officials have also spoken of what they consider are the political realities of an American attack on an Arab country.

"We want to say to America: Is it worth it to you? Won't you have have, afterward, decades of hostility in the Islamic world," asked the Vatican's No. 2 official, Cardinal Angelo Sodano.

The Vatican has been the center of diplomacy.

John Paul sent an envoy to meet with Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein last month and received Iraq's deputy prime minister, Tariq Aziz.

Bush, a Methodist, has sought to court Catholic voters, who made up a quarter of the electorate in 2000.

Although no top U.S. official has traveled to Rome to discuss Iraq with the Vatican, prominent conservative American Catholic, Michael Novak, came to help make the case that war is justified. "Humans of good will disagree," Novak said after his meetings.

Novak, in Rome under the State Department's public speakers program, did take issue with criticism of U.S. policies from some Vatican sources, including a Jesuit magazine close to the Vatican that suggested that the U.S. was acting out of economic and political motives, not an attempt to disarm Saddam.

The Vatican has long been stung by the accusation that Pope Pius XII, the World War II pope, failed to raise his voice to head off the Holocaust, an allegation the Vatican rejects.

Without drawing a direct parallel, Cardinal Roberto Tucci told Vatican Radio last week that the pope's efforts for peace have been recognized by the non-Christian world.

"No one can ever say that the pope didn't do enough," Tucci said.

 

AN ILLEGAL AND IMMORAL WAR

Editorial: An illegal and immoral war
Arab News
March 18, 2003

When American Secretary of State Colin Powell stated yesterday that the Security Council had failed to pass a test set by the United States, a new Gulf War became inevitable.

It was, of course, a test the Security Council never stood a chance of passing.

The Security Council had been given two false choices: Either meekly to submit to the will of the United States or, by rejecting a US-led proposal, reveal itself as powerless to stop the war.

Powell has gone on record as saying that the goal of this war is not only to remove Saddam, but to redraw the regional map as a whole.

That he has the nerve, again and again, to talk in such language betrays an extraordinary arrogance, bolstered by a conviction that his government holds all the trump cards.

This war which is illegal according to international law and immoral by any standards is about oil and America's strategic dominance of the Middle East - no more, no less. There was never any real debate. The war has been years in the planning, initially drawn up by neo-conservative zealots in Washington, D.C. who now dominate US defense policy.

The strategy had been finalized long before US President George W. Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair had assumed their respective offices.

These zealots must now surely be laughing in the knowledge that a small group of men and women has been able to harness the full military might of the world's only superpower to the promotion of their private agenda in the face of almost total worldwide opposition.

If the US, with British and Spanish backing, goes to war in the next few hours, this day will be remembered as one which marked the beginning of a new era in the Middle East and international relations.

Is history repeating itself?

It is as though the Middle East has not moved on since the end of World War I, when Western powers carved up what is now the Middle East to suit their own ends.

Then, as now, Iraq was a morsel for the biggest power to dispose of at its pleasure.

The last-minute summits organized by the Arab League and the Organization of the Islamic Conference proved only that the Arabs are divided. An Arab world speaking with a strong, united voice was the only force capable of stopping this war.

They did indeed fail an important test, and now they will have to live with the consequences.

Now the US will go it alone, without the UN, without legitimacy -& and in the full knowledge that none of Iraq's neighbors has the power or the will to do anything but either sit by and watch or join in.

So now another war is upon us, decent people the world over pray for one thing: A short war, with an absolute minimum of civilian casualties.

To say that is not to dignify a victory in Iraq as anything other than a victory for imperialist aggression.

But the alternative a long, drawn-out and bloody conflict - would be even more catastrophic for that country, this region and the rest of the world.

 

STARS AND GRIPES

Stars and Gripes
Hollywood celebs aren't antiwar. They just hate the president.
John Fund's Political Diary
The Wall St. Journal
March 13, 2003

Hollywood celebrities have become the most visible opponents of liberating Iraq. But as proof that where you stand depends on whether your friends are in power, let's look back at how those same celebrities reacted when Bill Clinton deployed U.S. power in Afghanistan, Sudan and Kosovo.

Actor Mike Farrell, best known for his role as Trapper John's replacement in "M*A*S*H," has emerged as a leading antiwar activist. This month, he even engaged in a surreal debate on geopolitics with former senator Fred Thompson on "Meet the Press." "It is inappropriate," Farrell declared, "for the administration to trump up a case in which we are ballyhooed into war."

But in 1999, Mr. Farrell defended the Clinton administration's rationale for war in Kosovo: "I think it's appropriate for the international community in situations like this to intervene. I am in favor of an intervention." To avoid casualties, the Clinton administration had bombers fly at such high altitudes that "collateral damage" to civilians was bound to increase.

Hollywood stars were oddly silent when Mr. Clinton dropped bombs on Afghanistan and an aspirin factory in Sudan in 1998 in an unsuccessful attempt to deter Osama bin Laden. They were silent when, also in 1998, Mr. Clinton signed the Iraq Liberation Act into law and made regime change official U.S. policy. Andrew Breitbart, who is writing a book on Hollywood, jokes that "to not notice this, the stars would have to have been sleeping in the Lincoln Bedroom, or perhaps performing at the White House."

Indeed, in 1999 singer Judy Collins--best know for her soulful renditions of antiwar songs actually sang at a White House gala at the very moment that U.S. and NATO bombs were flattening parts of Belgrade accidentally destroying the Chinese Embassy in the process.

Similarly, singer Sheryl Crow is appalled by George Bush's moves against Iraq, but she had no problem with Bill Clinton's intervention in the Balkans. The San Francisco Chronicle reports that the singer accompanied Hillary Clinton on a USO tour to entertain U.S. troops in Bosnia. "Once over there, I felt extremely patriotic," Ms. Crow told a reporter that year. "Here are these people, from 18-year-olds to military veterans, enduring real duress for the cause of peace. I don't ever want to play for a regular audience again, only military folks who are starving for music." Ms. Crow hasn't been seen around any military bases lately.

Some celebrities are at least honest about their hypocrisy. Comedian Janeane Garofalo was blunt in explaining why Hollywood types didn't protest any of Mr. Clinton's military ventures: "It wasn't very hip." That's ironic, because President Clinton's intervention in Kosovo it was much less justifiable. Weapons of mass destruction were not an issue; the rationale was exclusively humanitarian. "Our mission is clear," Mr. Clinton said in March, 1999: "to demonstrate the seriousness of NATO's purpose, so that the Serbian leaders understand the imperative of reversing course, to deter an even bloodier offensive against innocent civilians in Kosovo, and if necessary, to seriously damage the Serbian military's capacity to harm the people of Kosovo. In short, if President Milosevic will not make peace, we will limit his ability to make war." Insert the words "Iraq" and "Saddam" and "the United Nations" in the above excerpt and you could have a speech that President Bush would be happy to give on Iraq.

In fact, the Clinton administration was far less willing to seek approval from the United Nations for its bombing campaign than the Bush White House has been over Iraq. In criticizing the Bush team's decision to seek an 18th U.N. resolution to justify the use of force in Iraq, Richard Holbrooke, a Clinton U.N. ambassador, points out that "in a roughly similar situation, in 1999, the Clinton administration and our NATO allies decided to bomb Serbia (for 77 days) without even seeking U.N. approval, after it became clear that Russia would veto any proposal. This contrast with the supposedly muscular Bush administration is especially odd when one considers that Saddam Hussein is far worse than Slobodan Milosevic, and that Iraq has left a long trail of violated Security Council resolutions, while there were none in Kosovo."

Mr. Clinton himself now cautions against going to war in Iraq, but he seems to be having an argument with the man by the same name who occupied the White House for eight years. Here is President Clinton on Iraq in 1998: "What if Saddam fails to comply and we fail to act, or we take some ambiguous third route which gives him yet more opportunities to develop this program of weapons of mass destruction?... Well, he will conclude that the international community has lost its will. He will then conclude that he can go right on and do more to rebuild an arsenal of devastating destruction. And someday, some way, I guarantee you he'll use the arsenal."

All of this history has been conveniently washed down the Hollywood memory hole. So too has much of the record of American foreign policy successes over the last 20 years. I remember when majorities of people in Western Europe opposed the deployment of Cruise and Pershing missiles to counteract new Soviet missiles aimed at NATO member states. The demonstrations dwarfed even today's "peace" marches. History shows that was the right course of action; along with President Reagan's Strategic Defense Initiative, it helped precipitate the collapse of the Soviet Union.

I also remember when leftists and Hollywood stars of all stripes opposed American intervention in Grenada and supported the Sandinista regime in Nicaragua. The people of both countries have shown their gratitude for our help and today live in freedom. I remember, too, how many countries were hesitant to join the allied coalition in the 1991 Gulf War, fearing that it would turn out horribly. History has proved them wrong.

Nothing moves world opinion like success. If the "coalition of the willing" acting with or without further U.N. approval, succeeds in ridding the world of Saddam Hussein's regime, world attitudes will shift quickly just as they did after the collapse of the Soviet Union. As television screens fill with scenes of Iraqis greeting American soldiers as liberators, spitting on portraits of a toppled Saddam and pouring forth tales of the torture and degradation, these celebrities will have little to say. Their silence will speak volumes.

 

IRAQIS SUE OVER FIRST GULF WAR

Iraqis sue over first Gulf War
Agence France-Presse (AFP)
March 19, 2003

Seven Iraqi families have filed a lawsuit against former US president George Bush, father of the current president, and three other US leaders for alleged crimes during the first Gulf War in 1991, a lawmaker said.

The lawsuit cites Bush senior, Vice President Dick Cheney, Secretary of State Colin Powell and retired US Army General Norman Schwarzkopf, who led operation Desert Storm against Baghdad, said deputy Patrick Moriau.

Cheney was US defence secretary at the time of the first Gulf War, while Powell was chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

The action was brought under Belgium's universal competence law, which allows legal proceedings against people accused of war crimes, crimes against humanity, or genocide, regardless of their nationality or location.

The families who brought the action are either victims or relatives of victims of a US bombing of a civilian shelter in Baghdad that killed 403 people in February 1991, Moriau said.

Two of the families currently live in Belgium, added the socialist lawmaker, who accompanied the Iraqi plaintiffs when they filed the lawsuit. Heads of state, prime ministers and foreign ministers are immune from the Belgian universal competence law while in office.

 

IDF SPOKESPERSON’S ANNOUNCEMENT

IDF Spokesperson's announcement
Home Front Command advises residents to seal rooms

The IDF Home Front Command advises Israeli citizens, today March 18, 2003, to seal their designated protective spaces, such as home shelters, shelters and sealed rooms.

There is currently no need for people to enter their protective spaces.

Civilians who will presently wish to make use of their protective areas or sealed rooms are requested to keep the door to the room or area open in order to allow for ventilation.

Information regarding the preparation of the protective spaces and sealed rooms appears in the booklet distributed to civilians, as well as on the Home Front Command's website: www.idf.il.

In addition, the Home Front Command announces that beginning today, that informational programming regarding preparation of shelters and sealed rooms will be broadcast periodically on Channel 33.

The Home Front Command also stresses not to open the protective kits without receiving specific instruction to do so.

 

March 18, 2003

Instructional Programs to be screened by the Home Front Command
The IDF Spokesperson's Office would like to announce that as of this afternoon, instructional programs will be screened on channel 33. These instructional programs will deal with the sealing of rooms, the different areas that the country will be divided into in the case of an attack, and everything concerning the Gas mask. These programs will be screened in Hebrew, Arabic, Russian, Amheric, English and Spanish.

The programs will be screened at the following times:

Today at 16:00, 17:30 and 22:30 in Hebrew

Tomorrow between 10:00 and 13:00 in all the other languages.

Tomorrow At 16:00, 20:00 and 22:00 in Hebrew

We strongly recommend that you record these instructional programs and watch them with the other members of your household. You are also reminded not to remove your gas masks from their case before being ordered to do so.


All notes and summaries copyright © Tom Gross. All rights reserved.