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The Progressive Response             22 July 2003            Vol. 7, No. 22

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      Click http://www.fpif.org/progresp/volume7/v7n22.html to view an HTML-formatted version of this issue of Progressive Response.


      The Progressive Response            22 July 2003           Vol. 7, No. 22
      Editor: John Gershman

      The Progressive Response (PR) is produced weekly by the Interhemispheric Resource Center (IRC, online at www.irc-online.org) as part of its Foreign Policy in Focus (FPIF) project. FPIF, a "Think Tank Without Walls," is an international network of analysts and activists dedicated to "making the U.S. a more responsible global leader and partner by advancing citizen movements and agendas." FPIF is joint project of the Interhemispheric Resource Center and the Institute for Policy Studies. We encourage responses to the opinions expressed in the PR and may print them in the "Letters and Comments" section. For more information on FPIF and joining our network, please consider visiting the FPIF website at http://www.fpif.org/, or email <feedback@...> to share your thoughts with us.

      John Gershman, editor of Progressive Response, is a senior analyst with the Interhemispheric Resource Center (IRC) (online at www.irc-online.org). He can be contacted at <john@...>.

                     **** We Count on Your Support ****


      I. Updates and Out-takes *** WAR EFFORT IMPEDES SECURITY AT HOME *** By Joe Moore, Alderman, City of Chicago, Illinois
      *** REAL WAR--VIRTUAL WEAPONS? *** By Ian Williams

      II. Outside the U.S. *** LIBERIA: ENDING THE HORROR *** By Ezekiel Pajibo

      III. Letters and Comments *** THE ISSUE OF TRUST ***
      *** AIDS APPOINTEE ***


      I. Updates and Out-takes

      By Joe Moore, Alderman, City of Chicago, Illinois

      (Editor's Note: Excerpted from a new global affairs commentary available in full at http://www.fpif.org/commentary/2003/0307cities.html .)

      Under the pretense of safeguarding our nation's security, President George W. Bush waged an unprovoked, pre-emptive military invasion of the nation of Iraq. Whether that war has made our nation and world more secure is certainly open to challenge. What is not open to challenge is the staggering financial cost of the war--$79 billion for just the first phase alone.

      While the President and Congress have not hesitated to spend whatever they deemed necessary on the Iraqi war effort, America's cities have received only a relative pittance to fund their new homeland security duties. This despite the fact that America's cities are now on the front lines in responding to any terrorist attacks, as the events of September 11th so tragically demonstrated. The threat of domestic terrorism has greatly expanded the duties and responsibilities of our local police, fire, and emergency workers.

      The Bush administration initially promised $3.5 billion in new funding for cities and towns to support upgraded security measures, a mere fraction of what was spent on the war effort in Iraq. Yet in the wake of preparations for the Iraqi invasion, only $1 billion was appropriated this fiscal year. And because Congress combined new homeland security funds with existing federal funds for crime prevention, public safety, and emergency preparedness, America's cities and towns actually experienced a net loss in federal support.

      The President's proposed 2004 budget continues this trend. While Bechtel is on track to control as much as $100 billion in spending to reconstruct Iraq, the President has proposed cutting $2 billion from crime prevention and public safety programs, such as the COPS, Local Law Enforcement Grant, and Byrne Grant programs.

      According to statistics compiled by the World Policy Institute, the cost of fighting 15 minutes of war in Iraq would have paid for all $10.1 million of Chicago's homeland security needs. And the cost of six days of war in Iraq would have financed the estimated $6 billion in homeland security costs for every city, town, and village in America.

      In addition to draining the resources we need to protect our citizens, the war is also depriving us of some of the people we have hired to do the job. The U.S. military urgently needs personnel with policing and firefighting skills for the mission in Iraq, so reservists with these skills are in hot demand. At the height of the war, the Reserves took 123 police and 17 firefighters off the streets of Chicago. Now, 75 of our police and 10 of our firefighters are still in Iraq. This story is being repeated in cities and towns across America.

      The Bush administration's entire rationale for waging war on Iraq was to make our nation more secure. Has this massive diversion of resources and personnel to wage war made our nation any safer? As recent terrorist actions throughout the world have demonstrated, our unilateral military action has served only to further radicalize Islamic fundamentalists and embolden terrorist organizations, such as al Qaeda. At the same time our cities, which are the frontline defenders against terrorist attacks at home, have been left holding the bag with little support from our federal government, leaving the citizens of our nation more vulnerable than ever.

      (Joe Moore is an Alderman for the City of Chicago, and a leader of the Cities for Peace movement. He wrote this piece for Foreign Policy In Focus (online at www.fpif.org) and can be reached at <AldMoore@...>.)


      By Ian Williams

      (Editor's Note: Excerpted from a new global affairs commentary available in full at http://www.fpif.org/commentary/2003/0307lies.html .)

      The Persian emperors used to have courtiers whose job was to whisper regularly in the rulers' ears the message that they were only mortal. Looking at the Persian Gulf today and the respective pitfalls of U.S. President George W. Bush, British Prime Minister Tony Blair, and former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein in the Iraq war, it appears the courtiers' profession needs reviving. Someone should be telling modern heads of state to avoid decisions based on weak evidence, unsubstantiated statements, and false hope. Contemporary leaders, like those of yore, ought to heed warnings to discount heady advice brought by people with their own agendas, be they the likes of neoconservative counselors to Bush and Blair or Hussein's Baathist advisers.

      Those advisers' remote dreams of developing an Iraqi nuclear arsenal of chemical and biological weaponry inspired Hussein's refusal for years to allow UN inspections of the non-existent weapons cache, eventually leading to his political suicide. Meanwhile, basing the invasion of Iraq on spurious claims about the arsenal and Hussein's ties to Al Qaeda, then trying to justify the post-invasion occupation on equally dubious allegations of Iraq's trade in uranium with Niger, have played directly into the hands of the political opposition to Blair and Bush.

      Results of the investigation showing the absence of the weapons of mass destruction (WMD) in Iraq have damaged Blair's credibility, perhaps fatally, since his whole case to the British for the war was grounded in pursuance of UN resolutions on Iraqi disarmament.

      At first, Bush seemed to have escaped the contumely that Blair received from his constituents, since the White House cast the war as a payback for Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. The general equation that Hussein and Osama bin Laden are both evil, (and both Arabs) and therefore in essence the same, held up with much of the television-watching public. But this rationale for invasion eventually was recognized as is an even bigger untruth than the WMD allegations. While Iraq certainly had once had weapons programs that Hussein had lied about, no one outside the fever-ridden neoconservative think-tanks could maintain seeing any connection whatsoever between Al Qaeda and Iraq.

      Now, the continuing embarrassment of the absence of any credible signs of missing weapons or imaginary links with Al Qaeda is exacerbated by the question of who knew, and when, that the documents about Iraq seeking uranium from Niger were fakes. The shame is going to mount, not least because visions of a quick victory in Iraq have turned into a nightmarish occupation with a visible daily toll on both occupiers and occupied. The outcome is that Democratic contenders for the U.S. presidency who may have been loath to cast aspersions on a successful war, have since come to consider it fair game to denounce an increasingly unpopular and unsuccessful occupation based upon an untruth.

      (Ian Williams <uswarreport@...> contributes frequently to Foreign Policy in Focus (online at www.fpif.org) on UN and international affairs.)


      By Jeremy Brecher

      (Editor's Note: Excerpted from a new discussion paper available in full at http://www.fpif.org/papers/iran2003.html .)

      This June, vigilante forces attacked nonviolent Iranian student protesters, charging them on motorcycles and assaulting them with batons, chains, and knives. Instead of protecting the students against the vigilante attacks, the Iranian government threatened to punish the students severely and arrested over 4,000 people. A new round of protests scheduled for early July was thwarted by a ban on meetings, the closing of university dorms, and the kidnapping of three student leaders. Continuing repression of the student movement, combined with deep popular unrest, is likely to keep the Iranian conflict in the world spotlight.

      Normally, the global peace movement and political left would respond to repression by an authoritarian, theocratic regime with outrage and protest. But so far there has been a deafening silence. The reason is probably not that peace activists don't care about democracy and human rights when they are trampled by opponents of America. More likely there is wariness about intervening in a complex, multiplayer drama in which the left could have an impact contrary to what it intends. The purpose of this essay is to promote the discussion needed to help the movement see its way clear to a more forthright, but responsible, response. Such a discussion may also help clarify other situations in which the peace movement and the left must respond to authoritarian regimes opposed to U.S. imperialism.

      The first step toward this goal is to demand that the Iranian regime release all political prisoners, regardless of their beliefs, and end the suppression of protesters' human rights by its own agencies and those of vigilante groups. There is also a clear need to support the peaceful struggle of the Iranian people for democracy, including a referendum to decide their own future. An important aspect here is the demand that European countries and the EU end both tacit and active support for the suppression of human rights and democracy by the Iranian regime.

      International support for human rights played a major role in the democratization in Poland, Czechoslovakia, and elsewhere in Eastern Europe. History indicates that outside support for responsible government can have a substantial impact in Iran as well. In 1996, a German court implicated Islamic Republic leaders of assassinating their opponents in Berlin. Several European countries then briefly cut diplomatic ties with the regime. The ruling had a huge impact on Iranian opinion, contributing substantially to the reformist President Khatami's landslide victory.

      Support can take the form of action as well as words. In Poland, labor and left activists bolstered the Solidarity movement by smuggling in printing presses, fax machines, photocopiers, and other means for mobilizing the public. Satellite broadcasts are already playing a significant support role for the Iranian movement. More direct contact, ranging from solidarity delegations to the kind of volunteer human rights observation and nonviolent intervention provided by the "Internationals" in Palestine, would be difficult but appropriate. So would a campaign for international human rights monitors.

      Such an approach is almost the opposite of a U.S. "liberation" that seeks to impose "democracy" and "human rights" through war and occupation, along the model of Afghanistan and Iraq. The international peace movement should demand human rights and democratization in Iran alongside its demands for an end to the U.S. occupation in Iraq and the Israeli occupation in Palestine.

      The left must also lay out an approach to the problem of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) that provides an alternative to the selective Bush administration policy of threatening to unilaterally "Saddamize" WMD-aspiring states. A good starting point is to demand that all countries support the Syrian-sponsored UN proposal to make the Middle East a WMD-free zone. This would require the U.S. and other powers to address the issue of Israeli nuclear weapons as part of discussions about eliminating weapons of mass destruction. And in order for any response to proliferation to be effective, the existing nuclear powers would need to meet their responsibilities under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty by moving promptly toward the elimination of their own nuclear weapons. In such a context, specific demands that Iran not build nuclear weapons and that it comply with IAEA demands for answers to questions about its nuclear program are appropriate. But such demands need to be combined with negotiations to provide Iran with other means of security against military attack.

      Iran is only one of many countries that appear to oppose the Bush administration's imperial juggernaut but that also suppress the human rights of their own people. It is always a temptation for the peace movement and the left to soft-pedal our critique of such regimes out of a feeling that "the enemy of my enemy is my friend." It is particularly hard to find a balanced position when Washington is utilizing the flaws of those regimes it opposes to justify aggression against them while ignoring the equal or greater crimes of regimes it supports.

      Failure to defend human rights in such circumstances only plays into the hands of the Bush juggernaut, however. Perhaps the most effective Bush administration justification for its aggression, especially with the media-manipulated American people, is its claim that the U.S. overthrow of regimes like those in Afghanistan and Iraq frees people from tyranny and establishes human rights and democracy. Any movement to terminate the Bush juggernaut shoots itself in the heart when it fails to identify a better way for people to liberate themselves from oppression. We can't afford to provide any justification for the charge that we are the defenders of tyrants. Let us instead be known as people whose fundamental solidarity is not with one or another government but with all people who are struggling for liberation from oppression.

      (Jeremy Brecher <jbrecher@...> is a historian and the author of 12 books, including Strike! and Globalization from Below, and is a regular contributor to Foreign Policy in Focus (online at www.fpif.org).)


      By Muqtedar Khan

      (Editor's Note: Excerpted from a new global affairs commentary available in full at http://www.fpif.org/commentary/2003/0307roadmap.html .)

      U.S. President George W. Bush's Road Map for Middle East Peace, while based on widely held hopes for an independent Palestinian state co-existing with a secure and safe Israel, may nonetheless fail to deliver peace in the region. The recent agreement between the Palestinian Authority (PA) and Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and the Al-Aqsa brigade to temporarily cease all military activities against Israel for the next three months, and the withdrawal of Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) from some Palestinian territories does suggest that the road map is now becoming a practical guide for reaching fulfillment of these hopes. But the plan has strategic and ethical flaws that make me deeply pessimistic over its prospects for success.

      The plan places asymmetrical demands on the two parties, which will become more and more palpable with time. It requires a ceasefire from Palestinian militants but does not call for cessation of hostilities by Israel. Sure, the ceasefire is to be followed by an Israeli withdrawal, already in its initial stages. But it does not put an end to the assassinations by Israeli forces that frequently include killing civilian men, women, and children. If Israel continues to wage war against Hamas and company, the ceasefire cannot be expected to last long. The expectations that the PA will do the job of reining in Hamas, something that the IDF has failed to accomplish in more than a decade, is another tenuous part of the road map.

      The map depicts a minimal role for the United States, the most powerful stakeholder in the scheme, while placing the largest share of the burden for bringing about change on the Palestinians, the weakest, the most disorganized, and the most insecure of all players involved. According to the plan, the Palestinians must stop all resistance to the occupation and then transform themselves from a chaotic and a frustrated society to a democratic, orderly, and peaceful community; then Israel will withdraw, dismantle some settlements, and set the stage for denouement.

      It is not clear what the United States will be doing during this critical period. If it continues with its coercive diplomacy in Iran and Syria, the negative fallout will most certainly mobilize radicals and undermine peacemakers. The United States cannot make peace between Israelis and Arabs in Palestine while maintaining an actively hostile posture toward other Arab and Muslim nations. There is no such thing as piecemeal peace.

      (Muqtedar Khan (online at www.ijtihad.org) is a visiting fellow at Brookings Institution's Saban Center for Middle East Policy and a regular analyst for Foreign Policy in Focus (online at www.fpif.org). He is chair of the Political Science Department and director of International Studies at Adrian College. His most recent book is American Muslims: Bridging Faith and Freedom.)


      II. Outside the U.S.

      By Ezekiel Pajibo

      (Editor's Note: Excerpted from a new outside the U.S. commentary available in full at http://www.fpif.org/outside/commentary/2003/0307liberia.html .)

      Liberians have become the world's refugees, fleeing their country en masse. They have been running for the past 13 years, but some would say that they started running in 1980, when Samuel Doe took over the country. He did so in a violent coup d'etat during which Liberia's 19th President and then Chairman of the Organization of African Unity (now the African Union) William R. Tolbert was killed. The 1980 coup undermined and ultimately derailed the growing political reform and democracy movement that had emerged in the late 1970s to challenge the True Whig Party dictatorship of Tolbert. It also launched the country's descent into political violence and criminality, a descent which has continued unabated.

      It is easy for commentators to suggest that the most important reason the U.S. should get involved in Liberia is because the country was settled by freed slaves from the United States. The best case is that U.S. intervention in Liberia represents accepting moral responsibility for U.S. support of Doe's regime and the destruction that followed.

      Certainly, an appropriate U.S. role would be to provide ECOWAS forces with logistical and financial support while also providing U.S. ground troops. The United Nations would be further emboldened to play a more active role in a transitional process. It would add more pressure on President Taylor to step down. U.S. troops on the ground would also pressure the two rebel groups: Liberia United for Reconciliation (LURD) and Democracy and Movement for Democracy in Liberia (MODEL) to end their violent atrocities. Neither group is an acceptable alternative to the current regime. Like Taylor's forces, they have committed egregious human rights violations.

      One important factor regarding the fate of President Taylor that cannot be negotiated is the dropping of war crimes charges against him. But the following scenarios might be explored. Nigeria has offered Mr Taylor asylum and he has accepted. Given that war crimes don't have statutes of limitation, he can be pursued once the country has returned to some normalcy and a legitimate government is in place. No doubt Liberian human rights campaigners, including this writer, will make it their singular duty to make sure Mr. Taylor answers for his crimes not only against the people of Sierra Leone but the people of Liberia.

      The idea of Liberia exists as a shining example of how best to transform a terrible crime to a great social innovation. Africans were taken from Africa and sold into slavery and their descendants returned to reclaim their birthright. How did this idea get so corrupted? Therein lies the problem. Liberia presents a moral challenge not only to the U.S. but to Africa as well.

      (Ezekiel Pajibo <epajibo@...> is an independent researcher/consultant based in Zimbabwe and an analyst for Foreign Policy in Focus (online at www.fpif.org).)


      By Martin Schwarz

      (Editor's Note: Excerpted from a new global affairs commentary available in full at http://www.fpif.org/outside/commentary/2003/0307iaea.html .)

      U.S. President George W. Bush's new doctrine of preventive war and pre-emptive strikes is turning the UN's nuclear watchdog into a lapdog.

      After decades of low-profile work to promote cooperation on peaceful use of nuclear energy, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is being forced to mediate between the United States and certain members of what the Bush administration terms the axis of evil--namely Iraq, Iran, and North Korea--, with the unfortunate outcome of a likely increase in nuclear weapons.

      Until the crisis over Iraq, the 2,200 employees and diplomats at the IAEA in Vienna led a relatively relaxed life, carrying out their duties to inspect and enforce the UN Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and encourage disarmament of atomic weapons of mass destruction.

      But something changed for them when they didn't find what Bush wanted them to find in their inspections of Iraq: nuclear weapons, or at least a clandestine nuclear program. That seriously damaged relations between Washington and the IAEA. "The U.S. was very angry with the way we presented our findings at the UN Security Council," one IAEA diplomat said. Since then the IAEA has found itself in both the U.S. and world spotlight. Mohamed El-Baradei, director general of the IAEA, has come under "immense pressure from the U.S.," as one diplomat at the UN in Vienna told me.

      There has been no time for a diplomatic reconciliation between the U.S. government and the IAEA, as the Bush administration has hastened to frame Iran and North Korea as the new nuclear threats to justify its doctrine.

      In North Korea, where good reasons exist to believe nuclear weapons are being developed, the IAEA inspectors were thrown out at the end of last year, prompting agency officials to surmise that their organization is in the middle of a bilateral game between the Asian nation and the United States. Saddled with the duty to resolve the conflict between the two over North Korea's nuclear program, but without the power to do so, the IAEA is facing the best example to date of problems it may face in the future.

      North Korea seized on its international obligations under the NPT only to provoke the United States to restart financial and humanitarian aid. For North Korea, bankrupt in every sense, nuclear weapons seem to be the only way to put pressure on the U.S. superpower. Pyongyang banished IAEA inspectors, not because of its dissatisfaction with the inspection regime, but due to fear of Bush and a possible pre-emptive strike. So North Korea is the first regime to learn this lesson from the standoff over Iraq: If you represent a real nuclear threat to the United States, it may have the will to solve bilateral problems not by force, but by negotiations.

      "The U.S. has destroyed our work," an IAEA official said. In other words: Washington's policy will not support non-proliferation efforts, but rather will lead into a new era of nuclear armament.

      (Martin Schwarz <martin_schwarz@...> is author of the forthcoming book (in German) Saddams blutiges Erbe:- Der wirkliche Krieg steht uns noch bevor on the consequences of the Iraq war. (For more information see http://irak.go.cc/ .) He's a regular contributor to Foreign Policy in Focus (online at www.fpif.org).)


      III. Letters and Comments

      *** THE ISSUE OF TRUST ***

      Re: The Unintended Consequences of Crisis Public Diplomacy (http://www.fpif.org/briefs/vol8/v8n02diplomacy.html)

      It occurs to me as a non-Muslim, non-American that this article attempts to answer the challenges of public diplomacy with solutions within the communication space. Hence the issues are described as communication style and cultural interpretation.

      The main, inescapable issues must certainly be trust/credibility and divergence of interests. No amount of culturally sensitive well-delivered communication will overcome a situation where either the U.S. Government does not practice what it preaches (e.g. quickly secures oil-related objectives in Iraq but does not focus on public utilities) or where there are clearly different interests (e.g. support for continued Israeli occupation of Palestinian territory).

      It's tough to convince anyone of anything if they think you are a liar and actively support their enemies!!

      - Dave Mason <dmason@...>


      *** AIDS APPOINTEE ***

      Re: AIDS Appointee Shows that Business Still Rules the Roost (http://www.fpif.org/commentary/2003/0307tobias.html)

      This is a compelling article, but what Mr. Lobe fails to mention is that George H.W. Bush, the former president, is a past employee of Eli Lily. After Carter appointed his own Director of the CIA, Bush became part of the Lily management team. I'm a bit surprised he didn't mention this in the article... I'd say that's an even more frightening connection.

      - Jim Hayes <jhayes3309@...>


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