Tuesday, November 20, 2001

Elliot Cohen WW IV (World War 4)


World War IV
Let's call this conflict what it is.

Tuesday, November 20, 2001 12:01 a.m. EST

Political people often dislike calling things by their names. Truth, particularly in wartime, is so unpleasant that we drape it in a veil of evasions, and the right naming of things is far from a simple task.

Take the matter of this war. It is most assuredly something other than the "Afghan War," as the press sometimes calls it. After all, the biggest engagement took place on American soil, and the administration promises to wage the conflict globally, and not, primarily, against Afghans.

The "9/11 War," perhaps? But the war began well before Sept. 11, and its casualties include, at the very least, the dead and wounded in our embassies in Africa, on the USS Cole and, possibly, in Somalia and the Khobar Towers. "Osama bin Laden's War"? There are precedents for this in history (King Philip's War, Pontiac's War, or even The War of Jenkins' Ear), but the war did not begin with bin Laden and will not end with his death, which may come sooner than anyone had anticipated--including, one hopes, the man himself.

A less palatable but more accurate name is World War IV. The Cold War was World War III, which reminds us that not all global conflicts entail the movement of multimillion-man armies, or conventional front lines on a map. The analogy with the Cold War does, however, suggest some key features of that conflict: that it is, in fact, global; that it will involve a mixture of violent and nonviolent efforts; that it will require mobilization of skill, expertise and resources, if not of vast numbers of soldiers; that it may go on for a long time; and that it has ideological roots.

Americans still tiptoe around this last fact. The enemy in this war is not "terrorism"--a distilled essence of evil, conducted by the real-world equivalents of J. K. Rowling's Lord Voldemort, Tolkien's Sauron or C. S. Lewis's White Witch--but militant Islam. The enemy has an ideology, and an hour spent surfing the Web will give the average citizen at least the kind of insights that he might have found during World Wars II and III by reading "Mein Kampf" or the writings of Lenin, Stalin or Mao. Those insights, of course, eluded those in the West who preferred--understandably, but dangerously--to define the problem as something more manageable, such as German resentment about the Versailles Treaty, an exaggerated form of Russian national interest, or peasant resentment of landlords taken a bit too far. In the reported words of one survivor of the Holocaust, when asked what lesson he had taken from his experience of the 1940s, "If someone tells you that he intends to kill you, believe him."

Al Qaeda and its many affiliates consist of Muslim fanatics. They will, no doubt, find almost as many enemies among moderate Muslims as among infidels, and show them, if anything, less mercy. One hopes for a wave of revulsion among Muslims who abhor this rendition of their faith, understand the calamities of all-out war waged to erect a theocratic dystopia, and will fight these movements with no less vigor, and no more reservations, than do Christians, Jews, Hindus and, for that matter, atheists.

Afghanistan constitutes just one front in World War IV, and the battles there just one campaign.
The U.S. is within range of gaining two important objectives there: smashing al Qaeda (including the elimination of its leadership), and teaching the lesson that governments that shelter such organizations will themselves perish. But what next? Three ideas come to mind.

First, if one front in this war is the contest for free and moderate governance in the Muslim world, the U.S. should throw its weight behind pro-Western and anticlerical forces there. The immediate choice lies before the U.S. government in regard to Iran. We can either make tactical accommodations with the regime there in return for modest (or illusory) sharing of intelligence, reduced support for some terrorist groups and the like, or do everything in our power to support a civil society that loathes the mullahs and yearns to overturn their rule. It will be wise, moral and unpopular (among some of our allies) to choose the latter course. The overthrow of the first theocratic revolutionary Muslim state and its replacement by a moderate or secular government, however, would be no less important a victory in this war than the annihilation of bin Laden.

Second, the U.S. should continue to target regimes that sponsor terrorism. Iraq is the obvious candidate, having not only helped al Qaeda, but attacked Americans directly (including an assassination attempt against the first President Bush) and developed weapons of mass destruction. Again, American allies will flinch, and the military may shake its head at the prospect of revisiting the aborted Gulf War victory, but the costs of failing to do so, and the opportunities for success, make it good sense. The Iraqi military is weak, and the consequences of finishing off America's archenemy in the Arab world would reinforce the awe so badly damaged by a decade of cruise missiles flung at empty buildings.

Third, the U.S. must mobilize in earnest. The Afghan achievement is remarkable--within two months to have radically altered the balance of power there, to have effectively destroyed the Taliban state and smashed part of the al Qaeda--is testimony to what the American military and intelligence communities can do when turned on to a problem. But the Taliban were not the hardest case, and the airplanes dropping bombs on the enemy in Kunduz and Kandahar are in some cases older than their pilots, and suffering for lack of spare parts.

The combination of precision weapons, Special Operations forces, and sophisticated intelligence-gathering systems indicates the beginning of a desperately needed "transformation" of the American military. But this will require something more than the $20 billion a year in defense spending increases over the budget now in the offing.

Similarly, the creation of a homeland security office without real powers, the reluctance of the government to open comprehensive, formal inquiries into the disaster of Sept. 11, and the absence of big, imaginative programs--mass scholarships for public health programs, for example, or, more ambitious yet, a really substantial program of scientific research to emancipate the West from dependence upon Persian Gulf oil--tell us that Washington is somewhere between a war footing and business as usual.

It is, of course, early yet, and many of the signs--from the B-52s pounding Taliban front lines to CIA teams scouring the Afghan hills, from enhanced spending on vaccines and the Centers for Disease Control to the creation of military tribunals for foreign terrorists--indicate that the government is truly serious. But much remains to be done, beginning with acknowledging the scope of the task, and acting accordingly. Yet if after the Afghan campaign ends, the government lapses into a covert war of intelligence-gathering, arrests, and the odd explosion in a terrorist training camp, it will be a sign that it would rather avoid calling things by their true name.

Mr. Cohen is professor of strategic studies at the Nitze School of Advanced International Studies, Johns Hopkins University.

Books by Mr. Cohen

Books including contributions by Mr. Cohen

First Sentence:
WE SHALL BEGIN OUR EXPLORATION of military misfortune by looking at the five explanations most commonly offered by historians trying to account for defeat and disaster on the field of battle

Tuesday, February 13, 2001

Video :Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice - Iraq Has No WMD's


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Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice - Iraq Has No WMD's

Colin Powelll states clearly in February 2001, that Iraq is in no position to pose any threat to the US and has no weapons of mass destruction.

Tuesday, January 02, 2001

Notes on Iraq Sanctions: Humanitarian Implications and Options for the Future - Security Council - Global Policy Forum


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In 1990 Iraq invaded Kuwait. This upset the world community. So on Aug. 6th 1990- the UN began sanctions against the country. It turns out that the sanctions hurt the general population - but the military. After the US led attack on Iraq, and their withdrawal from Kuwait- the sanctions continued on a destroyed society. The sanctions continued to hurt the general population and not the leadership. On top of the sanctions War reparations were demanded of Iraq - preventing any possible hope of swiftly rebuilding what the war had destroyed.

Ahtisaari Report to Security Council on humanitarian crisis in Iraq and Kuwait. "Most means of modern life support have been destroyed or rendered tenuous." "Sanctions in respect of food supplies should immediately be removed." No remedy to humanitarian need, "without dealing with the underlying need for energy."
Apr 3 Resolution 687 begins cease-fire, establishes UN Special Commission on weapons, extends sanctions by tying them to Iraq's weapons.

The Future of Sanctions Report of The Select Committee on International Development, of the UK House of Commons, 27 January 2000. Excerpt Comprehensive Economic Sanctions Iraq (paras 17-42)

There is a clear consensus that the humanitarian and developmental situation in Iraq has deteriorated seriously since the imposition of comprehensive economic sanctions whilst, at the same time, sanctions have clearly failed to hurt those responsible for past violations of international law as Saddam Hussein and his ruling elite continue to enjoy a privileged existence.

Not all this humanitarian distress is the direct result of the sanctions regime. It appears that Saddam Hussein is quite prepared to manipulate the sanctions regime and the exemptions scheme to his own ends, even if that involves hurting ordinary Iraqi people. This does not, however, entirely excuse the international community from a part in the suffering of Iraqis. A sanctions regime which relies on the good faith of Saddam Hussein is fundamentally flawed.

Whatever the wisdom of the original imposition of sanctions, careful thought must now be given as to how to move from the current impasse without giving succour to Saddam Hussein and his friends. Any move away from comprehensive sanctions should go hand in hand with measures designed to target the real culprits, not the poor of Iraq but their leadership. Possibil-ities include a concerted attempt to target and either freeze or sequester the assets of Saddam Hussein and those connected to him, and the indictment of Saddam Hussein and his close associates as war criminals.

We find it difficult to believe that there will be a case in the future where the UN would be justified in imposing comprehensive economic sanctions on a country. In an increasingly interdependent world such sanctions cause significant suffering. However carefully exemptions are planned, the fact is that comprehensive economic sanctions only further concentrate power in the hands of the ruling elite. The UN will lose credibility if it advocates the rights of the poor whilst at the same time causing, if only indirectly, their further impoverishment.

Monday, January 01, 2001

Chronology of main events 1990-2001

Chronology of main events

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Aug 2 After months of tension, the Iraqi army invades Kuwait. The United Nations
Security Council passes Resolution 660 condemning the Invasion and demanding Iraq's immediate and unconditional withdrawal.

Aug 3 Arab League calls for Iraq's withdrawal from Kuwait.


Jan 9 US-Iraq talks fail.

Jan 13 UN Secretary-General's talks with Iraq fail.

Jan 16 Air war begins, destroying much of Iraq's civilian infrastructure.

Jan 21 Iran protests scale of bombing.

Jan 29 French defence minister Chevènement resigns in protest against scale of bombing.

Feb 3 Pope John Paul II rejects the claim that the war against Iraq is a "just war."

Feb.28 War ends.

Mar 20 Ahtisaari Report to Security Council on humanitarian crisis in Iraq and Kuwait. "…Most means of modern life support have been destroyed or rendered tenuous." "Sanctions in respect of food supplies should immediately be removed." No remedy to humanitarian need, "without dealing with the underlying need for energy."

Apr 3 Resolution 687 begins cease-fire, establishes UN Special Commission on weapons, extends sanctions by tying them to Iraq's weapons. UK ambassador Sir David Hannay states in the Council that "it will in fact prove impossible for Iraq to rejoin the community of civilized nations while Saddam Hussein remains in power."

Apr 5. Resolution 688 condemns "the repression of the Iraqi civilian population" in the ensuing civil war.

Mid-Apr US, UK and France organize a "no-fly" zone in northern Iraq, while Operation Provide Comfort carves out an autonomous zone in a large part of the Kurdish areas.

Jul 17 UN mission to Iraq led by Sadruddin Aga Khan concludes that Iraq needs $22 billion that year to provide civilian services at pre-war levels.

Aug 15 Resolution 706 acknowledges the Sadruddin Aga Khan Report and calls for oil sales not to exceed $1.6 billion over 6 months to be placed in escrow account, deducting 30% for a Compensation Commission, plus UNSCOM and other international obligations, leaving less than 1/3 of the Report's recommended amount for humanitarian aid.

Sep 19 Resolution 712 proposes that Iraq be allowed $1.6 billion oil sales over six months, of which $900 million would be available for civilian needs, disregarding the Secretary General's request that the cap be raised.


Feb 1 Iraq rejects 706 and 712.

Feb 5 Council declares that Iraq "therefore bears full responsibility for their humanitarian problems."

August US, UK and France establish no-fly zone in southern Iraq


Jan 13 US, UK and France attack Iraq with aircraft and cruise missiles. US and UK continue air strikes on January 17 and June 26.


Jan UN Secretary General Boutros Ghali issues a report calling sanctions a "blunt instrument"

Apr 14 Resolution 986 allows Iraqi government $2 billion in oil sales every six months. 13% of total available funds set aside for UN use in the northern governorates. Sanctions Committee must review and approve all supplies purchased through escrow account.

May 12 US Ambassador to the UN Madeleine Albright, in response to claims of half a million child deaths in sanctioned Iraq, replies: "I think this is a very hard choice, but the price - we think the price is worth it."

May 20 Iraq is no longer able to provide survival sustenance for its civilian population. Iraqi government and UN reach agreement on implementing Resolution 986.

Sep 3-4 In Operation Desert Strike, US fires cruise missiles at Iraqi targets

Dec 10 First oil sales start, beginning the Oil-for-Food program. It has since been renewed mostly in six month phases.

Feb 20 Oil-for-Food oil sales cap increased to $5.256 billion per six month phase.

Dec UNSCOM's credibility is undermined by evidence that staff members seconded to the agency by the United States have compromised the independence of the agency and engaged in espionage and covert action to overthrow the Iraq government.

Dec 15 UN weapons inspectors withdraw from Iraq due to impending aerial attacks by the United States and the UK.
Dec 16-19 Operation Desert Fox air campaign by US and UK

Mar 30 Security Council panel report finds that Iraq had ``experienced a shift from relative affluence to massive poverty'' and predicted that ``the humanitarian situation in Iraq will continue to be a dire one in the absence of a sustained revival of the Iraqi economy, which in turn cannot be achieved solely through remedial humanitarian efforts.''

Aug 12 UNICEF estimates that an additional half million children under five who would be alive under normal circumstances had died in Iraq between 1991 and 1998.

Dec 17 Resolution 1284 offers improvements in Oil-for-Food, although less than those recommended by the Security Council panel, and expresses its intention to suspend sanctions with the ``fundamental objective of improving the humanitarian situation'' in Iraq. The oil sales cap is removed and some items are allowed into Iraq with automatic Security Council approval.

Jun 8 Resolution 1302 establishes a team of "independent experts to prepare by
November 26, 2000 a comprehensive report and analysis of the humanitarian situation". Iraqi government does not allow the team to enter its territory. Security Council rejects the alternative of a report based on UN agency information and other reliable external sources.

Dec 5 Resolution 1330 further expands lists of humanitarian items. Compensation fund reduced to 25% from 30% of oil revenues with the additional resources targeted to vulnerable groups.

May-Jun UK, French, and Russian draft resolutions propose various new approaches. The UK proposes a Goods Review List of potential dual-use items and land-based border monitoring of Iraq trade. Objections by Russia and by Iraq, as well as differences among Permanent Members blocks Council action.

Jun 6 One month extension of Oil-for-Food under previous conditions.

Jul 4 Lacking agreement with Iraq, five month extension of existing Oil-for- Food.

Nov 29 Oil-for-Food program extended by six months in Resolution 1382. Resolution proposes a Goods Review List to be adopted in May.

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