April 2, 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//The Independent, UK--'NEW' EUROPE DISTANCES ITSELF
FROM WAR (The conflict in the Gulf is unpopular with voters, and
support for Washington and London has declined as casualties have
mounted. Meanwhile, some countries that never backed war have vented
their anger at being listed among America's 45-nation coalition of
4//The Daily Star, Lebanon-- BEIRUT OPPOSES CEASE-FIRE PROPOSAL AS 'LEGITIMIZING' WAR ON IRAQ, ARAB DIPLOMACY SEEKS TO SECURE SECURITY COUNCIL RESOLUTION (A diplomatic source said that Lebanon's opposition to a cease-fire stemmed from the fact that agreeing to it meant legitimizing the aggression against Iraq and reopening peace negotiations between the two sides for several years... Meanwhile, negotiations are ongoing between Arab diplomats in an attempt to secure nine votes of Security Council members, enough to issue an official UN condemnation of the US-led war on Iraq. Talks are also ongoing to try and obtain a similar condemnation of the war from the European Union, where a majority of member states opposed the invasion. Other negotiations with member states in the Non-Aligned Movement and the African bloc are aimed at securing a quorum at the Security Council.)
5//The Sydney Morning Herald, Australia--OILMEN'S BURNING WISH TO HELP SPURNED (Danny Clayton, operations manager for the delightfully named United States firm Boots and Coots, is a disappointed man. There has not been nearly enough destruction in Iraq for his corporate liking. Clayton is cranky because the Iraqis had set fire to just nine oil wells in the south of the country. Unless they somehow torch a whole lot more, Clayton's Texas-based company will likely go bust.)
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'NEW' EUROPE DISTANCES ITSELF FROM WAR
With troops locked in a bloody and unpredictable struggle in Iraq, leaders from "new" Europe are distancing themselves from the war that the US claims they back.
The conflict in the Gulf is unpopular with voters, and support for Washington and London has declined as casualties have mounted. Meanwhile, some countries that never backed war have vented their anger at being listed among America's 45-nation coalition of allies.
Silvio Berlusconi, the Italian Prime Minster, began his political retreat before a shot was fired. Mr Berlusconi was a signatory of the Anglo-Spanish letter that backed the US before the conflict begun. That did not translate into concrete military support, however. Last week, Mr Berlusconi was at pains to insist that the deployment in northern Iraq of 1,000 US paratroopers who had been stationed in Italy did not break a pledge that Italian bases would not be used for direct attacks on Saddam Hussein.
Denmark, which has backed the action, had to scale back its small military deployment because of parliamentary opposition. The Netherlands, which did not sign the Anglo-Spanish letter but was sympathetic, has ruled out military involvement, fearful of destabilising negotiations to form a coalition government.
Across the ex-Communist nations of Europe, identified by Donald Rumsfeld, the US Defence Secretary, as part of the "coalition of the willing", sentiment has proved ambivalent. One explanation is that the Anglo-Spanish letter endorsed by three of the applicant nations, and a subsequent declaration by a further 10 eastern European states, did not commit them to supporting hostilities. Some leaders went along with the formulation on the basis that taking a tough line might force President Saddam to back down.
Several nations provided logistical support because failing to do so would have provoked a diplomatic schism with Washington. Yet these nuances have been brushed aside by a Pentagon in its efforts to present the image of broad support.
Croatia was presented as part of the "coalition of the willing" on the basis that it opened its airspace and bases to US civilian aircraft. But Stipe Mesic, the President, denounced the war as "illegitimate" because it lacked UN backing. Slovenia has also rejected the idea that it backs the conflict.
Opinion / Comment
Andrei Piontkovsky, an independent political analyst, contributed this comment to The Moscow Times.
According to a number of recent television polls, some 80 percent of Russians - and probably more -- want Iraq to win the war.
It's not hard to imagine the immediate impact such a tectonic shift in the geopolitical order would have on Russian national security. Russia would be left out and left behind in this brave new world.
Fortunately for Russia, the Iraqi victory that the majority of our citizens so selflessly hope for will not happen.
The Americans are going nowhere, because the only place to go from here is oblivion. They will oust Saddam Hussein, disarm Iraq and install a loyal regime in Baghdad. The price for this "victory" will be far higher than expected, as evidenced by the serious miscalculations already made by American political and military planners.
The Russian leadership rightly calls the war in Iraq a "major political mistake," but it must not lose sight of Russia's strategic interests and descend into knee-jerk anti-Americanism. If the war is a mistake, it has been made by our key partner in the global coalition, whose defeat would spell defeat for the coalition as a whole and result in an immediate and enormous threat to all of its members, including Russia. And perhaps for Russia most of all, ringed as we are by unstable regimes that could be quickly overrun by triumphant terrorists.
Moscow understands this and, therefore, softens its condemnation of the war by repeating insistently that Russia's strategic partnership with the United States, built up over the last year and a half, is so crucial to both countries that it cannot be scuttled by a difference of opinion over Iraq. This correct but not terribly exciting argument doesn't play well on television, however. The current spate of anti-American hate fests on just about every Russian television channel has proven much more effective in the ratings. The tone and language used in news coverage of the war cannot have been left to chance, especially on the state-owned and state-controlled stations.
Our tireless political strategists seem to have realized that whipping up anti-Chechen feelings to galvanize Russian society doesn't work all that well anymore. In preparation for the upcoming parliamentary and presidential elections, they seem to be planning to rally the nation on the basis of anti-Americanism. And society, like an old war horse whose ears prick up at the familiar battle cry, is ready to respond with every last ounce of self-destructive passion.
This plan's success depends on cultivating the image of a strong, decisive president, but in fact it places Vladimir Putin in a classic Catch-22. If, as the responsible leader of his country, Putin should try to halt the growing anti-American hysteria at some point in order to preserve the diplomatic capital he has accumulated over the last 18 months, his actions would be interpreted as capitulation and a show of weakness. The Putin administration did much to set the current wave of anti-Americanism in motion, then quickly lost control of it. If Putin decides to ride that wave, he will be forced to adopt positions that directly conflict with his entire post-Sept. 11 foreign policy. His political opponents would rush to fill that breach, from the Communists to Boris Berezovsky, by reminding the nation of the U.S. bases in Central Asia, the bases that we closed in Vietnam and Cuba, and many other "concessions" made to Russia's past and present Enemy No. 1.
The current anti-American frenzy could lead Russia into a dead end in terms of both foreign and domestic policy. It must be stopped.
EXCLUSIVE: 'GOD'S WILL IS STRONGER THAN US WEAPONRY'
AMMAN, 1 April 2003 - There are over 40,000 Iraqi exiles already in Jordan, but since the start of the war it has become obvious that predictions of thousands more arriving as refugees were Iraqi gross miscalculations.
What in fact appears to be happening is the opposite. Huge numbers of the Iraqi exiles who initially left Iraq because of political reasons have decided to return to participate and fight side by side with their Iraqi brothers.
According to the Iraqi Embassy in Amman, 5,700 Iraqis have left Jordan to go and fight what they believe is an invasion and potential occupation of their home country.
"We have catered to these 5,700 Iraqis to get their documents in order," said Jawad Al-Ali, the Iraqi Embassy's press attache, in an interview with Arab News. "Some have lost their passports or their papers have simply expired," Al-Ali added. "On the first day of the war, we processed the papers of 2,500 Iraqis, and they are still coming."
Large groups are taking buses from midtown Amman for $17 per person in order to make their way back to Baghdad.
Also, the first free bus to Baghdad left here yesterday, courtesy of one of Saddam Hussein's sons, with 50 Iraqi men on board.
"It was too expensive for me to leave before, but now the trip is free and I'm going back to fight for my country," said Samir, a 35-year-old construction worker.
Also yesterday, dozens of "volunteers" left Beirut to take up arms in Iraq, proclaiming they were ready to embrace death to expel US and British forces from Arab land, witnesses said.
The mostly Lebanese young men, enraged by gruesome television images showing Iraqi civilian casualties of the 12-day-old war, left by land via Syria to join the fight. Witnesses saw 36 volunteers cross the Lebanese border into Syria in a bus. They said they were on their way to Iraq.
And some 15 young Algerians gathered yesterday outside the Iraq Embassy in Algiers, proclaiming themselves ready to die as martyrs to defend the "honor and dignity of Arabs and Muslims" as the "enemies of humanity" wage war on Iraq.
BEIRUT OPPOSES CEASE-FIRE PROPOSAL AS 'LEGITIMIZING' WAR ON IRAQ,
Lebanon doesn't believe that the Russian Federation's recent call for a cease-fire between the coalition forces and Iraq is adequate, stressing that US, UK and Australian forces should also withdraw back across the border.
A diplomatic source said that Lebanon's opposition to a cease-fire stemmed from the fact that agreeing to it meant legitimizing the aggression against Iraq and reopening peace negotiations between the two sides for several years.
The source said that Arab diplomacy had been quite active in the past two weeks trying to secure a Security Council resolution ordering an immediate halt to hostilities and a withdrawal of allied forces from Iraqi soil.
Meanwhile, negotiations are ongoing between Arab diplomats in an attempt to secure nine votes of Security Council members, enough to issue an official UN condemnation of the US-led war on Iraq. Talks are also ongoing to try and obtain a similar condemnation of the war from the European Union, where a majority of member states opposed the invasion. Other negotiations with member states in the Non-Aligned Movement and the African bloc are aimed at securing a quorum at the Security Council.
"It is hard to predict the response of UN member states with regard to holding an emergency Security Council meeting. In other words, it is enough for the Arabs to secure 96 votes, or half the number of votes at the UN General Assembly to arrange for a Security Council meeting, aimed at condemning the allied intrusion in Iraq," said the source.
However, the US delegation to the UN General Assembly is doing all it can to sabotage moves for holding a Security Council meeting on Iraq.
The United States is even threatening to halt its economic aid to countries that vote against the war effort in any future Security Council meeting.
OILMEN'S BURNING WISH TO HELP SPURNED
Danny Clayton, operations manager for the delightfully named United States firm Boots and Coots, is a disappointed man. There has not been nearly enough destruction in Iraq for his corporate liking.
Clayton is cranky because the Iraqis had set fire to just nine oil wells in the south of the country. Unless they somehow torch a whole lot more, Clayton's Texas-based company will likely go bust.
A couple of days ago, in comments to The New York Times, he lamented the situation. "It's as easy to destroy 90 wells as it is to destroy nine," he whined. "But there's still a good chance [of more fires]. They have several more oil fields, and I'm sure that they are not all secured yet."
You can understand his frustration. The 1991 Gulf War was much kinder
to his company. That time, there were about 700 well fires set on
the Kuwaiti fields by retreating Iraqis. Boots and Coots put out
about a third of them, thereby earning somewhere around $US100 million.
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© 2003, Gloria R. Lalumia, firstname.lastname@example.org
Radio for the Left at http://www.zianet.com/insightanalytical/radio.htm
otherwise noted, all original