Wednesday, March 26, 2003

In Pakistan, a Delicate Political Dance
Pakistan's main opposition Islamist coalition, Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA), has declared March 28 a "nationwide protest day," and it plans massive rallies in Peshawar and Quetta shortly thereafter. MMA has called for the removal of U.S. forces from Pakistan and warned that Washington will target Pakistan after it defeats Iraq. But both the MMA and the Pakistani government are walking carefully to prevent tipping their hand to the other.
After holding a large-scale and peaceful march in Lahore on March 23 to denounce U.S. military action in Iraq, Pakistan's main opposition Islamist coalition, Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA), has declared March 28 a "nationwide protest day." Coalition leaders also plan follow-on marches in Peshawar on March 30 and in Quetta on April 2. The MMA is using the demonstrations to strengthen its position domestically and to challenge the ruling Pakistani Muslim League (Quaid-i-Azam) (PML-QA), which backs President Pervez Musharraf.
But while the MMA calls on the U.S. military and FBI personnel to leave Pakistan and warns that Washington will set its sights on the country after it defeats Iraq, the coalition is still being careful not to overstep its limits. The Musharraf government, too, is carefully balancing its relations with the United States, its anti-war stance and its handling of the MMA. Both the MMA and the government are playing a delicate game -- one that could be tipped into chaos should either side misstep."

"While birds can fly, only humans can argue. Argument is the affirmation of our being. It is the principal instrument of human intercourse. Without argument the species would perish. As a subtle suggestion, it is the means by which we aid another. As a warning, it steers us from danger. As exposition, it teaches. As an expression of creativity, it is the gift of ourselves. As a protest, it struggles for justice. As a reasoned dialogue, it resolves disputes. As an assertion of self, it engenders respect. As an entreaty of love, it expresses our devotion. As a plea, it generates mercy. As charismatic oration it moves multitudes and changes history. We must argue -- to help, to warn, to lead, to love, to create, to learn, to enjoy justice, to be." Gerry Spence
The War Comes Alive in the Living Room
Maha Akeel, Arab News Staff

JEDDAH, 26 March 2003 — The streets of Jeddah have been unusually quiet throughout the day and night over the last few days. People wake up to images of war on their television screen. Those who stayed up all night in the run up to the war on Iraq, saw the strikes on Baghdad live. But how “live” was it?
No matter how emotionally involved and mentally focused we are on those ugly scenes of destruction, they remain scenes from a distant place, almost like watching a movie. Modern information technology gives us instant, clear pictures of events as they are unfolding on the ground in a real place far removed from us. Modern warfare technology gives us precision bombing and weapons of mass destruction operated by button as the military men and women sit comfortably in their bunkers.
Yes, the hot bunkers, heavy equipment and cumbersome gear are comfortable compared to the old days of face-to-face combat when a man killed another man and saw the blood, smelled the decaying flesh and heard the awful noises of the dying and the equally awful silence of the dead.
We know that US President George W. Bush has never experienced war. But his ignorance does not excuse his indifference. On the other hand, we also know that Iraqi President Saddam Hussein has no conscience, causing the death and destruction of his people and that his country is ultimately irrelevant to him. So who do we blame for this terrible, unjustifiable, unnecessary and unprovoked war?
We listen to the political analysts, the military experts, and the economic gurus, and it all seems like a show to us. But the fact remains that there are people dying, and that they may be fortunate compared to those who are maimed and will suffer life-long disability or illness. It is a shame that we can watch in awe as all this power destroys Baghdad, and forget that it is a city with a long history of civilization and culture that should be protected by all means and by the whole international community.
Unfortunately, all the millions of protesters around the world could not stop a few warmongers from executing their plans.
Watching the events on television with some family members, the reaction varied. The grandmother’s eyes filled up with tears thinking of the innocent lives particularly of children. “War is always terrible no matter what the reasons for it,” she said.
The 12-year old boy clapped his hands in excitement. “They’ve blown up a building,” he exclaimed. To him it’s like a video game, he does not comprehend the reality of it.
The 14-year old girl realized what was going on but what she really cared about was whether her school would be closed. The rest watched mostly in silence, except for a few words of grief for the Iraqis, a few words of anger toward Saddam and few words of disappointment for the US.



Harvesting Pearls

By Al Kamen
Wednesday, March 26, 2003; Page A15

There's been some to-do of late about Defense Department adviser Richard N. Perle working to get federal approval for bankrupt Global Crossing Ltd.'s sale to two Asian companies, Hong Kong-based Hutchison Whampoa Ltd. and Singapore Technologies Telemedia.
Perle is selling his services at bargain-basement rates: $125,000 for his time, and $600,000 if the sale is successful. Perle, chairman of the Defense Policy Board, told the New York Times's Stephen Labaton that there's no conflict of interest or other ethical problem as long as he doesn't give advice to the board on something in which he has an interest. The deal must be approved by a government committee that reviews foreign investment in this country.
But Perle's going to have to do some very heavy lifting to snag those 600 large. The FBI and Pentagon reportedly are opposed to the sale because a Chinese company would control Global Crossing's state-of-the-art fiber-optic network, which is used by the federal government.

An even greater hurdle doubtless will be intense opposition to his effort on the Hill, most likely from a number of influential GOP senators, perhaps Sens. Jeff Sessions (Ala.), Trent Lott (Miss.), Jon Kyl (Ariz.), James M. Inhofe (Okla.) and Wayne Allard (Colo.).
About 31/2 years ago, that group and others pushed for a resolution asking Panama to review a contract it awarded for operating container ship terminals at both ends of the canal. That contract had been awarded to none other than Hutchison Whampoa, which Lott said at the time had "reported Chinese military and intelligence ties."
"It alarms me that these Chinese companies, frankly, they do what the government tells them to do," Lott said then at a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing to look into this alarming situation, which he had said "could, in fact, be a threat to our national security."
"This administration [the Clinton administration] is allowing a scenario to develop where U.S. national security interests could not be protected without confronting the Chinese communists in the Americas," Lott wrote the Pentagon, saying, "We have given the farm away without a shot being fired."
Former defense secretary Caspar W. Weinberger told the committee that the canal's operations would always be threatened if the Chinese controlled the ports.
Hutchison Whampoa, is controlled by Hong Kong billionaire Li Ka-shing. He and his empire, according to the Miami Herald, are linked to several companies known as fronts for Chinese military and intelligence agencies. One of the companies has been indicted for smuggling automatic weapons into the United States for sale to Los Angeles street gangs, the paper reported and "Li himself has been accused of helping to finance several deals in which military technology was transferred from American companies to the Chinese Army."
Nothing has happened at the canal, of course, but that may be only because the Chicoms haven't issued orders for their troops there to march north. Remember, it's only a two-day drive from there to Harlingen, Tex. -- in a Ferrari.
And if the Senate was worried about Communist Chinese control of the canal, imagine how senators will feel when they find out about possible commie control of a huge chunk of the communications infrastructure, not of Panama, but of the American homeland.
Copyright 2003NYTimesCompanies
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Who Seeks to Profit From This War?'s+oil+fields+garner+intense+interest


"Who could have guessed that barely a decade later the United States, forsaking the very legal, democratic traditions that were its most admired characteristics, would be going to war to impose its will by force upon an alarmed, angry, frightened world united against it?"

A fantastic article by Jonathan Schell/ The Nation.

"The tragedy of America in the post-cold war era is that we have proved unequal to the responsibility that our own power placed upon us. Some of us became intoxicated with it, imagining that we could rule the world. Others of us--the Democratic Party, Congress, the judiciary, the news media--abdicated our obligation to challenge, to check and to oppose, letting the power-hungry have their way. The government of the United States went into opposition against its own founding principles, leaving it to the rest of the world to take up our cause. The French have been better Americans than we have. Because the Constitution, though battered, is still intact, we may still have time and opportunity to recoup. But for now, we will have to pay the price of our weakness. The costs will be heavy, first of all for the people of Iraq but also for others, including ourselves. The international order on which the common welfare, including its ecological and economic welfare, depends has sustained severe damage. The fight for "freedom" abroad is crippling freedom at home. The war to stop proliferation of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq has provoked that very proliferation in North Korea and Iran. More ground has already been lost in the field of proliferation than can be gained even by the most delirious victory in Baghdad. Former friends of America have been turned into rivals or foes. The United States may be about to win Iraq. It has already lost the world."
News Release


Colleen Kelly, 646-408-5676
Kelly Campbell, 415-518-1991
David Potorti, 919-608-7322

"The past is prophetic in that it asserts that wars are poor chisels for carving out peaceful tomorrows. One day we must come to see that peace is not merely a distant goal that we seek, but a means by which we arrive at that goal. We must pursue peaceful ends through peaceful means. How much longer must we play at deadly war games before we heed the plaintive pleas of the unnumbered dead and maimed of past wars?"

--Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.

September 11th Families for Peaceful Tomorrows condemns unconditionally the illegal, immoral, and unjustified US-led military action in Iraq. As family members of September 11th victims, we know how it feels to experience "shock and awe," and we do not want other innocent families to suffer the trauma and grief that we have endured. While we also condemn the brutality of Saddam Hussein's regime, it does not justify the brutality, death and destruction being visited upon Iraq and its citizens by our own government.

What others may view as a policy decision, we see clearly as the murder of innocent people. Death among the civilian population in Iraq will be immediate: the result of bombing that kills indiscriminately. Especially at risk are the children who make up 50% of Iraq's population. Death will also come later, from malnutrition and disease caused by the interruption of vital relief services and the destruction of infrastructure for supplying food and medicine. More deaths will occur years from now, as a result of the horrendous environmental impacts of waging war using lethal contaminants such as depleted uranium, a substance banned by the European Union.

We are also concerned about this war’s consequences for America's military personnel, brave women and men who enlisted to defend our country, only to find themselves sent to fight an unjust war of aggression. Our prayers are with them and their families, and our hopes are that they will return soon.

Meanwhile, American citizens will bear the staggering costs of military action and the resulting reduction in spending on domestic infrastructure and social programs. We assert that Congress's lack of accountability for this war is a serious threat to our Democracy. We call on the House and the Senate to fulfill their Constitutional roles, both as representatives of the public will and as a check against the abuse of power by the Executive branch. And we call on them to defend America from all of the threats—economic, political, and military—that gather against it.

This war will not make America safer. On the contrary, it has already resulted in heightened anti-American sentiment around the world, and is likely to promote further terrorist attacks, not just today, but years from today. It will not protect American families from another September 11th

Therefore, members of September 11th Families for Peaceful Tomorrows will continue to oppose this war and to draw attention to its civilian victims. We will demand compensation for them, as we did for innocent civilians killed and injured by our bombs in Afghanistan. These casualties must be included as we tally the costs of choosing to wage war.

Finally, we will keep the faith with millions of people across the United States and around the world who have formed a truly international community favoring peace and declaring this war immoral. We are confident that, in spite of the events of today, the wisdom of their views will prevail as the 21st century unfolds, and as we continue to build a global community that honors humanity, keeps families whole, and renders war obsolete.
Candidates tangle over Iraq
John Edwards and John Kerry dispute deception accusations by Howard Dean.

Register Staff Writer
Former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean on Monday accused rivals John Edwards and John Kerry of being intentionally deceptive about their positions supporting the Bush administration's war with Iraq.

"It seems to me he has changed his position," Dean said of Edwards. "Senator Kerry to this day continu0es to be ambivalent about his position."

Edwards and Kerry said they have been clear and consistent on Iraq. They accused Dean, who opposes the war, of distorting their positions for political purposes.

Dean was in Des Moines on Monday for the second day of a two-day campaign trip.