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Hawks demand attack on Iraq, troops in Afghanistan

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    Assalamu alaikum, Hawks demand attack on Iraq, troops in Afghanistan Political war rages over Bush military strategy By Patrick Martin 1 November 2001
    Message 1 of 1 , Nov 1, 2001

      Hawks demand attack on Iraq, troops in Afghanistan
      Political war rages over Bush military strategy

      By Patrick Martin
      1 November 2001


      While US bombs and cruise missiles rain down on Afghanistan, another kind
      of warfare is taking place in Washington: a bitter internal struggle
      within the Bush administration and the political and foreign policy
      establishment over the direction and methods to be employed in the
      American military onslaught in the Middle East and Central Asia.

      The last week has seen a media barrage by those favoring a radical US
      escalation of the war. Demands have been raised for the rapid deployment
      of ground troops in Afghanistan and for publicly identifying Iraq as a
      target for imminent military action.

      The conflict over war policy cuts across party lines, with sections of the
      Bush administration and some congressional Democrats and Republicans
      adopting the more hawkish position, opposed by others, headed within the
      administration by Secretary of State Colin Powell, who favor limiting the
      war to Afghanistan, at least for now.

      These issues are not being broached in open political appeals to the
      American people, who have never been consulted in any serious way and are
      largely unaware of the active consideration of a second or expanded war.
      Rather, the struggle is conducted by means of selected leaks and planted
      commentaries in the media, aimed at influencing the narrow circle of elite
      opinion-makers in Washington.

      The attack-Iraq-now faction wants to find Saddam Hussein responsible for
      the anthrax mailings in the United States and use the anthrax scare as the
      pretext for a wider war. The Wall Street Journal led off with an editorial
      October 18, and a week later the campaign had spread to the television
      networks and other daily newspapers.

      That anthrax is only a pretext is proven by the fact that many right-wing
      commentators were on record favoring war with Iraq before the US bombing
      of Afghanistan began and before any anthrax infections were discovered.

      The October 1 issue of the journal Weekly Standard carried an open letter
      signed by William Kristol, Gary Bauer, William Bennett, Midge Decter,
      Francis Fukuyama, Jeane Kirkpatrick, Charles Krauthammer, Martin Peretz,
      Richard Perle, Norman Podhoretz, among others. This pronouncement called
      for punishing Iraq for the September 11 suicide hijackings, regardless of
      whether Saddam Hussein was responsible: It may be that the Iraqi
      government provided assistance in some form to the recent attack on the
      United States. But even if evidence does not link Iraq directly to the
      attack, any strategy aiming at the eradication of terrorism and its
      sponsors must include a determined effort to remove Saddam Hussein from

      Now the same principle is being applied to the anthrax attacks: regardless
      of whether Saddam Hussein had anything to do with them, the war on
      terrorism requires a war on Iraq.

      Anthrax additives

      On October 26, ABC News ran a special investigative report by Brian Ross,
      declaring that Iraq had been conclusively linked to the anthrax in a
      letter sent to Democratic Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle. Ross
      reported that the spores found on the Daschle letter were nearly identical
      to those discovered in Iraq in 1994. ABC NEWS also has learned that at
      least two labs have concluded the anthrax was coated with additives linked
      to the Iraqi biological weapons program.

      Ross claimed that five well-placed and separate sources have told ABC NEWS
      that initial tests have detected traces of bentonite and silica,
      substances that keep tiny anthrax particles floating in the air by
      preventing them from sticking togethermaking them more easily inhaled....
      As far as is known, only one country, Iraq, has used bentonite to produce
      biological weapons.

      Ross has produced more than one television exclusive which served US
      interests in relation to Iraq. When he worked as an investigative reporter
      for NBC News, he filed a report in April 1990 on alleged Iraqi attempts to
      obtain nuclear triggers from Western high-tech firms, a story which
      clearly required the tacit or active collaboration of American
      intelligence agencies.

      Also significant is the identity of one of the reports producers: Chris
      Vlasto. He was last in the news when he was identified as a media agent of
      the right-wing operatives who engineered the Clinton impeachment. Vlasto
      picked up the tab for a celebratory dinner for Paula Jones and her
      Christian fundamentalist attorneys the day they succeeded in hauling
      Clinton before a grand jury and compelling him to testify under oath about
      his sexual history, including answering questions about Monica Lewinsky.

      The morning after Rosss ABC News report, the go-slow-for-now faction in
      the Bush administration fired back in the Washington Post. A front-page
      lead article, co-authored by Bob Woodward and Dan Eggen, began: Top FBI
      and CIA officials believe that the anthrax attacks on Washington, New York
      and Florida are likely the work of one or more extremists in the United
      States who are probably not connected with Osama bin Ladens al Qaeda
      organization, government officials said yesterday.

      The Post quoted an unnamed senior official to the effect that everything
      seems to lean toward a domestic source. Nothing seems to fit with an
      overseas terrorist type operation. Investigators probing the anthrax
      mailings for the FBI and the US Postal Service were considering associates
      of right-wing hate groups among the likely suspects. Some links exist
      between fascist anti-Semitic groups in the United States and Islamic
      fundamentalists in the Middle East, they said, and at least one white
      supremacist group publicly praised the September 11 attack as a blow
      against the Jews.

      A second Washington Post article on October 30 debunked the anthrax
      additive claim. Federal officials said yesterday that the anthrax spores
      that infected workers at the New York Post and in the office of Senate
      Majority Leader Thomas A. Daschle (D-S.D.) were not mixed with bentonite,
      a mineral compound used by the Iraqi biological weapons program to make
      the spores more infectious, the newspaper reported.

      The chemical findings appeared to support recent hints by various US
      officials that Iraq is not a prime suspect in the recent anthrax attacks,
      which have killed three and wreaked havoc with the postal system.

      Escalating demands

      As it did throughout the impeachment crisis, the Wall Street Journal
      responded to the discrediting of its case by escalating its demands for
      action. In rapid succession the Journal published columns by Republican
      Senator John McCain calling for the introduction of ground troops into
      Afghanistan, by Democratic Senator Joseph Lieberman declaring Saddam
      Hussein Target No. 2 in the US war effort, and by editorial page editor
      Robert Bartley maintaining that Iraq was the only logical suspect for the
      anthrax attack.

      The column by Lieberman, the Democratic vice-presidential candidate last
      year, was particularly significant in giving a bipartisan coloration to
      the campaign for immediate war with Iraq. Lieberman quoted and praised
      Bushs historic address to Congress on September 20 and called on the
      administration to hold firm to the Bush Doctrine of attacking not only the
      terrorists responsible for the World Trade Center attack, but any country
      or regime which could be said to harbor them.

      Lieberman called on the government to be unflinching in our determination
      to remove a uniquely implacable enemy and terrorist, Saddam Hussein, from
      power before he strikes at us with weapons of mass destruction, adding,
      whether or not Saddam is implicated directly in the anthrax attacks or the
      horrors of Sept. 11, he is, by any common definition, a terrorist who must
      be removed.

      The same themedamn the facts, full speed ahead against Iraqwas the tenor
      of Bartleys column, which criticized bureaucracies at State, Defense and
      the CIA for holding back the Bush administration through a pettifogging
      concern for evidence on the source of the anthrax attacks. Bartley ended
      with the worry that our troops may be bogged down in the snows of
      Afghanistan while the main enemy goes untouched.

      A day later two prominent neo-conservatives, Charles Krauthammer and
      William Kristol, penned columns appearing in the Washington Post that
      bewailed the Bush administrations war policy as feckless and

      Krauthammer compared the Bush administrations methods in Afghanistan to
      those of the United States in Vietnam, repeating the right-wing canard
      that the US was defeated in Vietnam because Johnson and Nixon used
      insufficient military force. The war in Afghanistan was proceeding with
      half-measures, he declared. It has been fought to satisfy the diplomats
      rather than the generals.

      The United States should ride roughshod over popular opposition in the
      Arab and Muslim countries, abandon the pretense of concern over civilian
      casualties, and move ahead with maximum force: carpet-bombing of Taliban
      troops and Afghan cities with B-52s and B-2s, followed by full-scale

      Kristol denounced what he called three self-imposed constraints on the
      war: the failure to send ground troops immediately to Afghanistan, the
      failure to seek an immediate confrontation with Iraq, and the failure to
      capitalize on the anthrax scare for a full-scale war mobilization at home.

      He denounced the notion that the anthrax attacks had a domestic source,
      criticizing the FBI and CIA officials cited in the Posts own October 27
      article. He asked rhetorically, And what signal do we send when our law
      enforcement and intelligence agencies desperately try to convince the
      press that the anthrax attacks might have no relation to the Middle East?

      Brokaw and Rumsfeld

      The political significance of such attacks on Bush was underscored the
      same evening on NBC Nightly News, when anchorman Tom Brokaw interviewed
      Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and cited the criticism by Krauthammer
      and Kristol. Isnt that the beginning of an unraveling of the political
      coalition here at home, if these conservatives are saying that as publicly
      as they are? Brokaw asked.

      Brokaw made clear his own view of the proper military strategy in the
      following extraordinary exchange:

      Brokaw: Military analysts that Ive talked to say that we really wont be
      successful there until we, the United States, puts in a division-size
      force, seize [sic] an airport, make [sic] that the base of operations,
      somewhere in Afghanistan, probably in the south would be the first place
      to do that.

      Rumsfeld : Of course, theres military experts that are on every side of
      these issues. And you cite one, but theresfor every one you cite like
      that, there are some who have another opinion. That is a perfectly
      legitimate position that youve outlined. It is certainly something that
      people consider and discuss and has happened in other venues.

      The right-wing attacks on the Bush administration are characterized by a
      note of panic, bordering on hysteria. Kristol, for instance, wrote, Now,
      we face the threat of the Talibans continuing in power through the winter.
      This would be something close to a disaster. It would convey an impression
      of American weakness.

      Underlying this desperation is a recognition that domestic public support
      for the Bush administrations intervention in Central Asia, while
      superficially broad-based, is very thin. The onset of a full-fledged
      recession in the United States, or serious military reverses, could
      rapidly reveal the isolation of this government, whose origins lie in a
      stolen election, and whose social policies are deeply unpopular.

      See Also:
      Bush aides push war with Iraq

      FBI says none of 80 daily threats linked to al-Qaeda

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