March 5, 2003
World Media Watch
by Gloria R. Lalumia
BUZZFLASH NOTE: Once again, these are the views and perspectives of the individual papers, not of BuzzFlash or Gloria. They offer BuzzFlash readers a way of reading what other nations are saying about the crisis, whether we like it or not. We repeat: This is not an endorsement of their viewpoints.
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1//Asia Times Online, Hong Kong--PROBLEMS WITH A 'PAINLESS'
WAR (What is the probability that the war would achieve its ends? The
neo-conservatives in Washington, who seem to have a lock on the thinking
of the Bush administration, regard this as a certain outcome. But given
their poor understanding of Arab politics and culture, one cannot give
much weight to their ability to assess probabilities of events in the
2//Turkish Daily News, Turkey--AKP PONDERS FRESH BID ON US DEMANDS (Foreign Minister Yasar Yakis said that the government and the AK Party were still reviewing whether to resubmit a motion to Parliament...Turkey wants a written pledge on economic assistance and stronger guarantees that Iraqi Kurds would not be allowed to set up their own state in northern Iraq, Turkish sources have said. Yakis said negotiations with the United States remained where they were left off and said, "There were some responses we were expecting and they had not come yet. We'll see when the issue will be taken up again."...Private NTV television said Tuesday that renovation of Turkish bases had been stopped as prospects for troop deployment there appeared to be slim.)
3//Sydney Morning Herald, Australia--PM DENIES TROOPS ARE IN IRAQ (Asked if Australian Defence Force (ADF) personnel were in Iraq, the prime minister said on radio 2UE: "They are not...."I know that very directly from discussions I've had with our military.")
Daily Inquirer, Philippines--EDITORIAL & OPINION:
BEYOND DEFINITIONS (. When government officials describe their discussions
as "frank" and "cordial," they actually mean they
have agreed to disagree. Which was exactly what happened during Reyes'
meeting with US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld on Friday last week
to discuss the planned deployment of hundreds of US troops in Sulu
province in Mindanao...The issue actually goes beyond mere definitions.
Whether the two governments finally agree to call it a military "exercise," "training" or "operation" and
agree on the precise meaning of the term, the heart of the issue still
is whether such an activity is allowed by the Constitution.)
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Times Online March 5, 2003
PROBLEMS WITH A 'PAINLESS' WAR
In his speech last Wednesday to the American Enterprise Institute, US President George W Bush not only rehabilitated the Clausewitz definition of war, but went a step farther by presenting war as a painless way of accomplishing regime change. By laying out a Wilsonian vision of what a post-Saddam Iraq would look like, he sought to give war a justification that it had lacked previously. In this vision, regime change in Baghdad would be followed by the implementation of democracy in Iraq. This would permit the resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, presumably by removing a fundamental threat to Israeli security. Once this conflict was resolved, creative forces would be unleashed that would liberalize the entire Arab world. Almost parenthetically, the president noted that a major threat to US (and global) security would be removed by the elimination of Saddam Hussein.
In the Bush vision, given America's significant military advantage over Iraq, war carries no downside for the United States. Victory is assured, leading the president to aver repeatedly, "We shall prevail." Against such a backdrop, war develops an irresistible allure, since it is the only policy instrument with the potential for bringing about such great benefits that nobody would question its costs.
Unfortunately, this vision reflects poor judgment. As Joe Klein has noted in Time magazine, the world would have more confidence in Bush's judgment if "if he weren't always bathed in the blinding glare of his certainty". David Frum, the president's biographer, notes that Bush is providing a new kind of leadership to the United States, "a spiritual leadership". But even Frum is led to note, "In Iraq, it is about to be put to its most severe test yet."
Just because the costs of the war are masked does not mean they don't exist. A variety of scholars around the globe have concluded that war with Iraq would result in substantial costs to the United States, Iraq and the world community.
(SNIP) (Sections on costs to the US, Iraq, and the world community)
What is the probability that the war would achieve its ends? The neo-conservatives in Washington, who seem to have a lock on the thinking of the Bush administration, regard this as a certain outcome. But given their poor understanding of Arab politics and culture, one cannot give much weight to their ability to assess probabilities of events in the Middle East.
A more illuminating response comes from Yossi Alpher, former director of the Jaffe Center for Strategic Studies at Tel Aviv University, and now co-editor of bitterlemons.org, an Internet-based Israeli-Palestinian dialogue. Commenting on the neo-conservative obsession with establishing a Wilsonian democracy in Baghdad, Alpher says, "this is wishful thinking that appears to have little basis in the likely postwar reality. Indeed, the very opposite scenario - a wave of anti-American radicalism and terrorism sweeping the Middle East, Iraq engulfed in ethnic unrest, and millions of refugees destabilizing neighboring countries - is equally plausible."
The inevitability of war
The millions who marched in protest against this war on February 15 have been labeled "wimps, appeasers, and lefties" by the proponents of this war. A new strand of arrogance has emerged in US political thought, which argues that France and Germany have no right ever to disagree with the United States, since it liberated them from Adolf Hitler's evil regime. President Bush's advisors have told him to ignore the protesters, as have some leading pro-war Republicans. Senator John McCain of Arizona said it was foolish for people to protest on behalf of the Iraqi people, because the Iraqis live under Saddam Hussein and they will be far better off when they are liberated from his oppressive rule. Retired General Norman Schwarzkopf and former secretary of state James Baker, who had been opposed to invading Iraq without any provocation, have withdrawn their opposition to the war.
However, there are still people such as Douglas Hurd, Britain's foreign secretary during the Gulf War, who remain opposed to fighting a preemptive war in Iraq. Writing in the RUSI Journal, he opines, "We might win the war in six days and then lose it in six months." He says the Bush administration has made a serious mistake by swallowing "whole [Israeli Prime Minister Ariel] Sharon's argument that Israel is a straightforward ally against terrorism. We run the risk of being viewed not as liberators but as protectors of an oppressor." Lord Hurd says a war against Iraq has the risk of turning "the Middle East into a region of sullen humiliation, a fertile and almost inexhaustible recruiting ground for further terrorists".
Oblivious to all these views, the neo-conservatives are continuing to push ahead with their agenda. War against Iraq is almost a certainty now. What is equally certain is that it will not be an anodyne war.
Also of note:
AKP PONDERS FRESH BID ON US DEMANDS
Turkish leaders appeared to be considering a second bid on the U.S. demand for deployment of tens of thousands of combat troops to open a northern front against Iraq but signalled Turkey still had demands not met by the United States on the role it will play in the reshaping of Iraqi politics after a war.
Parliament rejected a government motion on Saturday to allow deployment of 62,000 U.S. troops on Turkish soil in a stunning vote, dealing a serious blow to U.S. war plans and prompting U.S. leaders to warn Turkey that it may lose "its chance to have a say" in the future of Iraq and not receive a pledged aid package.
A new and democratic Iraq will emerge and Turkey is losing its chance to take a more active role in this process, said Marc Grossman, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State, in an interview with private NTV television and warned the U.S. would not tolerate any unilateral Turkish act in northern Iraq.
There were signs Tuesday that the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) was debating whether to resubmit the motion for a second vote.
Foreign Minister Yasar Yakis said that the government and the AK Party were still reviewing whether to resubmit a motion to Parliament.
"We are evaluating it within both the party and the government," Yakis said when asked whether there were plans to resubmit the motion, but declined to mention any date.
No agreement yet on terms of cooperation
But Erdogan also urged the United States to take into account Turkey's sensitivities in the region. He did not elaborate, but AK Party deputies have said they wanted to see new steps from Washington before they approved the deployment.
Turkey wants a written pledge on economic assistance and stronger guarantees that Iraqi Kurds would not be allowed to set up their own state in northern Iraq, Turkish sources have said.
Yakis said negotiations with the United States remained where they were left off and said, "There were some responses we were expecting and they had not come yet. We'll see when the issue will be taken up again."
Private NTV television said Tuesday that renovation of Turkish bases had been stopped as prospects for troop deployment there appeared to be slim. The United States has already spent hundreds of millions of dollars for modernization of several air bases and ports for possible use by troops that will open a northern front against Iraq.
But analysts said Turkey's decision, depriving the United States of a "northern front", could delay war for two weeks or more, possibly into April. A new moon then would aid U.S. forces in night fighting in a lightning strike to capture Baghdad itself.
New vote unlikely before Erdogan's forming government
Yakis said a possible resubmission of the motion to Parliament had nothing to do with by-elections in the Southeastern province of Siirt set for Sunday but many believe a new vote is unlikely before then.
Erdogan, who is widely expected to be elected a deputy on Sunday which will make him eligible to become a prime minister and reshuffle the government, is highly unlikely to risk his popularity by backing a renewed motion before the elections in a province where anti-war feelings run high because of the geographical proximity to Iraq.
Assuming Erdogan is elected, then he can become premier in about two weeks.
He could present, as the new premier or premier-designate, a slightly revised version of the old motion, permitting 62,000 U.S. troops as well as warplanes. But senior AK Party deputy Ertugrul Yalcinbayir suggests a new premier alone cannot carry the day.
"The conditions haven't changed," he was quoted by NTV television as saying. "If the conditions don't change, the result won't change."
No aid if no cooperation
In addition to losing a say in the future of Iraq, Turkey could also lose all or much of up to $30 billion in aid to help weather the impact of war if it refuses U.S. help, U.S. officials made clear Tuesday.
"Most of it (the aid package) was predicated on helping Turkey meet the costs of involvement, the direct costs or the consequences, and therefore I guess I'd have to say much of that would not occur if there's not direct involvement by Turkey," said State Department Spokesman Richard Boucher told reporters.
Robert Pearson, the U.S. Ambassador to Turkey, said there would be no aid if there was no agreement on Turkish involvement. He was speaking after a 45-minute meeting with Prime Minister Abdullah Gul.
Morning Herald Wednesday 5 March 2003, 10:05AM
PM DENIES TROOPS ARE IN IRAQ
Australian troops are not on the ground in Iraq, Prime Minister John Howard says.
British reports said allied forces had entered the country ahead of a possible war but Mr Howard denied Australians were part of the contingent.
Asked if Australian Defence Force (ADF) personnel were in Iraq, the prime minister said on radio 2UE: "They are not...."I know that very directly from discussions I've had with our military."
He said ADF troops were in the Persian Gulf region to prepare for any attack.
EDITORIAL & OPINION: BEYOND DEFINITIONS
Defense Secretary Angelo Reyes announced upon his arrival Monday that he had a "frank, cordial, productive and successful" visit to the United States. In ordinary everyday language that would be interpreted as "mission accomplished," but in the language of diplomacy that is really an admission of failure. When government officials describe their discussions as "frank" and "cordial," they actually mean they have agreed to disagree. Which was exactly what happened during Reyes' meeting with US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld on Friday last week to discuss the planned deployment of hundreds of US troops in Sulu province in Mindanao.
Reyes himself admitted as much when he said he and Rumsfeld still had to "iron out the details of this initiative." He said they were "groping for a solution to the legal problem. It is a question of definitions and semantics."
The issue actually goes beyond mere definitions. Whether the two governments finally agree to call it a military "exercise," "training" or "operation" and agree on the precise meaning of the term, the heart of the issue still is whether such an activity is allowed by the Constitution.
It may never be known who assured US officials they could go after the Abu Sayyaf themselves, but they were so confident they had a done deal that they would publicly rebuke Presidential Spokesperson Ignacio Bunye for referring to the planned operation as an "exercise," saying he had "mischaracterized the scope of the operation." Rumsfeld has been quoted as saying, "Whatever it is we do, we describe in language that is consistent with how we do things." He said US officials would be "perfectly comfortable ... calling the plan 'a joint combat operation'."
There it is, clear as day: The Americans believed they were going into combat and they wanted it to be called no other way. Who made them believe so, nobody is telling, but it would be unbelievable to say the Americans misunderstood what they were getting into when they approved Balikatan 03-1. The fact that they had to rewrite the terms of reference already showed the 2003 edition would be different from the exercise conducted in Basilan last year. How different has been sufficiently explained by Rumsfeld and other Pentagon officials.
Mission creep is how Americans call the deepening involvement of its troops in an operation. And that's what some Filipino officials apparently tried to sneak in, until the Americans started blabbering about their new combat mission in Sulu. What made them think they could get away with such a blatant violation of the fundamental law?
UNEMPLOYMENT RATE HITS 31.7%
RIYADH, 5 March 2003 - The unemployment rate in the Kingdom has reached 31.7 percent, according to statistics published by the Saudi Monetary Agency (SAMA) quoted in Al-Watan newspaper yesterday.
The study's recommendations include a review of the sponsorship system and more Saudization. It also recommends increasing job opportunities for women and enhancing their role in society in a way that is compatible with Shariah.
A study issued five years ago by the manpower council in cooperation with a research center for the fight against crime showed that crime among unemployed Saudis rose by nearly 320 percent between 1990 and 1996, an annual growth rate of over 15 percent. This is expected to increase by another 136 percent by 2005.
The majority of perpetrators had been unemployed for one or two years, according to the study, and 84 percent of them blamed unemployment for their behavior. Theft ranked first among the crimes committed by the unemployed.
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© 2003, Gloria R. Lalumia, email@example.com
Radio for the Left at http://www.zianet.com/insightanalytical/radio.htm
otherwise noted, all original