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opposition to war? (two articles)
by Boris Stremlin
20 August 2002 20:27 UTC
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Think the plans for war against Iraq are getting bogged down in the face
of opposition within Bush's own party and among allies abroad? Think


The 'doubts' of GOP elders on Iraq attack have been
By Thomas Oliphant, 8/20/2002

IF THE GHOSTS of national security advisers past are
what President Bush has to worry about as he stumbles
toward a decision about Iraq, then he has nothing to
worry about.

Through a combination of press oversimplification and
partisan spin from opponents (and, ironically,
proponents) of war, the impression has been created of
widespread disagreement with the administration on the
part of Republican and Democratic predecessors,
including senior policy makers in the administration
of Bush's father.

Nothing could be further from the truth. The people
who have sat where Condoleezza Rice sits have
questions and challenges for Bush. They do not,
however, step forward as opponents of war but instead
as advocates of war as a last resort, as opponents of
war without allies, without laborious preparation of
public opinion in this country and abroad, of war
without careful planning for the rebuilding of Iraq.

Opponents of an attack on Iraq have attempted to
portray Bush as beset by broad disagreement from
within the Republican Party's foreign policy
establishment. And hard-line proponents of war have
portrayed those who have raised questions as appeasing
naysayers, presumably allied with such other
right-wing betes noires as Secretary of State Colin


Most attention has been focused on the spoken and
written words of Brent Scowcroft, Father Bush's
national security adviser and a central architect of
the Gulf War. While pseudo-Freudian babblers attempt
to speculate about father-son relations, they overlook
the fact that Scowcroft is anything but an opponent of
military action. What Scowcroft has actually said is
that if Saddam Hussein were to block a renewed,
intrusive inspections program under UN auspices, his
rejection could provide the persuasive reason for war
that many claim the United States does not have.
Compelling evidence that Saddam has acquired nuclear
weapons capability could have a similar effect.
Those just happen to be the two most likely scenarios
that could lead to war - with overwhelming public
support, Scowcroft's included. His so-called
objections are much more like cautions - that we must
make sure the Middle East isn't further destabilized,
that support for our worldwide struggle against
terrorism is not diminished. He argues, in other
words, for a comprehensive policy that includes a
response to Iraq; what he opposes is a sudden,
Iraq-only fixation.
Similarly, the cautions articulated by such figures as
former Secretary of State Lawrence Eagleburger and
retired General Wesley Clark, who led the campaign
against Yugoslavia, emphasize the importance of a
vigorous effort to recruit support from fellow members
of the NATO alliance - both for any eventual war and
for a multilateral approach to reconstruction after a

The most egregious misportrayals, however, involve
former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger and the
retiring House majority leader, Dick Armey of Texas.
In his spoken and written words of late, Kissinger's
only skeptical comments have involved the folly of
going forward toward war without a clear commitment to
a possibly lengthy and expensive nation-rebuilding
effort inside Iraq. Beyond the postwar obligation, the
bulk of Kissinger's commentary has consisted of an
argument that preemptive war to block the potential
use by a tyrant of a weapon of mass destruction is
just and even prudent.

Even Armey's point has been misconstrued. He has
concentrated on making a case that a sneak attack out
of the blue will properly earn widespread condemnation
abroad and at home - that even in the presence of
modern, mass-killing weapons, such strikes go against
American values. Yet the administration has been a
driving force behind the scenes for the very public
discussion about war in which Americans are now
engaged. The chances of a sneak attack could be rated
at virtually zero.

It is possible to argue that Bush should be more of a
participant in this vital discussion than he has been
to date, that the international conversation needs his
voice trying to make the case in detail. But the White
House has a point that Bush's full participation would
imply that a decision to go to war had been made when
it clearly has not been.

As the discussion proceeds, it is tempting to get
shrill, but this topic is too important. And as it
proceeds, it is also important not to mischaracterize
other people's views to fit one's own. Bush has
obstacles ahead, but the notion he has serious
opponents in his own party on Iraq is simply

Thomas Oliphant's e-mail address is oliphant@globe.com

This story ran on page A19 of the Boston Globe on
 Copyright 2002 Globe Newspaper Company.


Bush May Get Un Support For His War
An anti-war strategy that relies on the security
council will fail
ZNet Top
VisionStrategy Home

Opponents of an assault on Iraq assume that the US
will not try to get endorsement from the UN security
council. In fact, not only is the US likely to ask for
security council support, but it will probably get it.
To avoid being wrong-footed by such a move, opponents
of the war need a much more comprehensive policy for
containing American fundamentalism. Just saying "Stop
the war" is not enough.

The Bush team has a long history of managing
international opinion and getting its own way. Key
officials including Dick Cheney, Colin Powell and
Condoleezza Rice were in office when the Soviet Union
collapsed, Germany was unified and the Gulf war was
won. Nowadays they see their duty as being to
eliminate the axis of evil.

Even under President Clinton's weak leadership in
foreign policy, the US was able to bring its allies
into line over bombing in Bosnia and Kosovo, and
neither China nor Russia used their veto powers. This
is how the US "playbook" for managing international
opinion runs. At first, US policy appears lonely and
extreme. The debate is constructed around the idea
that the US does not want to be restricted by the UN,
which is indeed true. When the US magnanimously
decides that it will accept some form of UN blessing,
there is a carefully orchestrated sigh of relief that
America is returning to the multilateral fold.

Britain will be first in line to agree. Russia, which
has no interest in a direct confrontation with the US
and needs its economic support, including membership
of the World Trade Organisation, will quickly follow.
Without Russian opposition, France will not want to
use its veto. China has a consistent policy of

It is never quite this simple and events can upset the
best laid plans, but on issue after issue the US has
managed to strike deals and intimidate other states
into supporting UN resolutions. Some of the
non-permanent members of the security council will be
keen to help the US. Bulgaria wants Nato membership;
Colombia is reliant on Washington in its civil war;
Norway has a conservative government and is anxious
not to upset its guarantor against neighbouring
Russia; Mexico and Ireland have strong economic
dependence on the US.

This leaves Syria, Cameroon, Guinea and Singapore. The
US will therefore be able to find a majority of
positive votes with a few abstentions. Indeed, of the
total of 15 security council members (five permanent
and 10 temporary) the US may even now be able to count
on eight votes just by dragging the weak temporary
members into line.

Further pretexts for action may be found. UN
inspectors may go in, may have full access and may let
everyone off the hook. However, it is likely that some
real or exaggerated facts will be brought out, or
enough of a provocation made to Iraq that it expels
the inspectors.

Many commentators and politicians will be so grateful
for some kind of UN resolution that they will pay
little attention to what is in it. Some voices will
point out that it will doubtless fall far short of the
traditional UN language authorising war. In this
circumstance many people who oppose the attack on Iraq
and are generally opposed to the havoc the Bush
administration is wreaking with the international
system will be left high and dry. MPs who have signed
Alice Mahon's carefully moderate early day motion
calling for UN support as a prerequisite to any attack
will have found that they have trapped themselves into
support for a UN-sponsored war.

I hope I am wrong. But at a minimum Labour supporters
accustomed to the most arcane politics of resolutions
and procedures should begin, as no doubt the Russians
and Chinese are already, to calculate what price
Washington must pay for its war.

A good start will be to insist that the UN resolution
at the time of the 1991 Gulf War ceasefire is adhered
to in full. The ceasefire resolution stated the
importance of "all available means" being used to
achieve a wide-ranging list of objectives including a
nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction free
zone in the Middle East, control of armaments in the
region, a stronger biological weapons convention,
universal adherence to the chemical weapons convention
and the obligations under the nuclear
non-proliferation treaty.

In short, the ceasefire resolution of 1991 placed
further action against Iraq in the context of a global
system for the management and elimination of
armaments. That objective has been discarded. It
should remain the basis of a modern international
security strategy. There are many in the US who oppose
the fundamentalist policies of the present White House
team. We need to forge stronger links with them to
begin to craft a strategy of containment.

Dan Plesch is the senior research fellow at the Royal
United Services Institute for Defence Studies.

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