global texts
Monday, January 13, 2003
International Herald Tribune Jan. 9, 2003

Feeling Isn't Argument: "Moral Clarity"
William Pfaff

PARIS President George W. Bush continues to repeat moral arguments for a U.S. attack on Iraq because his domestic political adviser, Karl Rove, has convinced him that the "moral clarity" of his declarations about the war against evil and the wickedness of Saddam Hussein have proved a decisive electoral asset.

However, his current difficulties in consolidating U.S. and international opinion behind an invasion of Iraq lie in the realms of reason and evidence. His speeches have, in those respects, offered nothing new to demonstrate that the United States should attack Iraq here and now, with or without a new United Nations mandate. ... [S]peeches such as the one the president gave at Fort Hood in Texas last Friday, again claiming that "either you're with those who love freedom or you're with those who hate innocent life," say nothing to those who need to be convinced that military intervention in Iraq will actually leave the Middle East better off than before...

While I mostly agree with Pfaff's article (no doubt he'd be thrilled at the news) Bush's claim that "either you're with those who love freedom or you're with those who hate innocent life" doesn't "say nothing to those who need to be convinced" etc. Explicitly, it says "you're with those who hate innocent life." Implicitly it tells then to keep quiet if they don't want more nasty things said about them. It announces to everyone the President's view of how the "debate" should be conducted. All these things have been said before, by Bush and others.

Sunday, January 12, 2003
In the U.K., it would appear that opposition to war with Iraq is the ascendant tendency. This is so in Prime Minister Blair's Labour Party, and in general. Labour's enthusiam for the adventure has never run high, to be sure. But the dissenters are recently more outspoken. At the same time Blair's close allies are calling for patience and deliberation. Makes sense to me.

British Doubts About Iraq War
Barnaby Mason, BBC diplomatic correspondent

BBC News Friday, 10 January, 2003, 13:24 GMT

The British Government has softened the tone of its rhetoric on Iraq, and is playing down the idea that war is fast approaching. The question is whether this is merely a tactical shift, or reflects a more fundamental doubt about the wisdom of military action. At Thursday's cabinet meeting Prime Minister Tony Blair emphasised the United Nations weapons inspectors had to be given the time and space they needed to do their job...British officials said they believed the inspection process remained effective, though how long it continued would depend on whether President Saddam Hussein was complying with last November's Security Council resolution.

Mr Blair's spokesman denied this position amounted to a U-turn. He also denied Britain was now pressing the United States to delay any war on Iraq for several months at least.

Revolt Possible
The most obvious reason for the change of tone is the growing opposition to war at home, notably among members of Mr Blair's own Labour Party. The political mood in London is shifting: people are getting more dubious about military action unless clear evidence emerges that Iraq is still concealing weapons of mass destruction.

Exchanges in parliament during the week gave weight to the prospect of a substantial revolt, perhaps extending to the resignation of junior ministers.That would be more likely if Mr Blair joined Washington in a war without the specific authorisation of a new Security Council resolution.

Another new element came in a speech by the prime minister to a conference in London of more than 150 British ambassadors. He called on the US to listen to the concerns of the rest of the world on a range of issues - even though he restated his commitment to disarming Iraq. What is clear is the British Government is responding both to the criticism of its own policy and to a more generalised dislike of the Bush administration. It wants to show it is at least listening.

Mr Blair also seeks to mark out a different position from Washington on the Palestinian-Israeli conflict in order to limit hostility to Britain in the Arab and Muslim world. That is why he has been trying to organise a limited Middle East conference in London.

But there are limits to all this activity and political manoeuvring. There is little evidence of a basic change in British policy on Iraq; Mr Blair is still convinced the threat of Saddam Hussein has to be dealt with, by military means if necessary. There is still everything to play for in the inspection game.

Although the inspectors say they have so far found no smoking gun, their interim briefing of the Security Council was critical of Iraq. They said the Iraqis had not produced information to show prohibited weapons from the past had been destroyed, nor had they made a serious effort to provide a full list of scientists who had worked on weapons programmes. Britain, like the United States, believes that efforts to interview Iraqi experts outside the country may produce either crucial evidence or clear-cut obstruction by Saddam Hussein.

If that turns out to be the case, the policy of allowing the inspectors more time will be vindicated. Mr Blair hopes the policy of patience, of allowing the inspectors more time, will eventually pay off.

Q&A: Will Iraq Action Be Delayed?

BBC News Friday, 10 January, 2003, 08:22 GMT

Could an attack on Iraq now be delayed after UN weapons inspectors said they had no "smoking gun" evidence of weapons of mass destruction? That was followed by UK Prime Minister Tony Blair calling for more time for the inspectors to do their jobs.

Defence analyst Colonel Andrew Duncan explains whether any attack on Iraq is likely to be put back.

Was the US not hoping to go to war in February or March?

Once President Bush went along with the UN inspectors' line - and he's also been giving hints that he'll accept a second UN resolution before he attacks Iraq - he knew he was in for a waiting game. There are various signals coming out, not just the ones in London from Tony Blair. There was something in the papers yesterday saying the Americans were now quite happy to fight during the heat because they would only fight at night because their night vision aids were so good.

There are signs that delay is in the air.

What else can US hawks do to prove their case?

I think the Americans are trying to have it both ways. If the UN finds some weapons then there's the excuse - we can go in because they've lied. But if the UN, after however many months it takes, says we don't think there's anything there, the Americans cay say we know there is something there, we're going to go and find it ourselves.

It doesn't really matter what happens with the inspectors, the Americans still have the chance to go in.


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