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watch out for these articles
by Tausch, Arno
02 April 2003 08:01 UTC
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The Times (London), 02 - 04 - 2003

April 02, 2003 

Strains of war test the allies
By David Charter, Tom Baldwin and Michael Evans

British dismay at US checkpoint killings

TENSIONS between Britain and the US over the conduct of the Iraq war were
growing last night as British commanders voiced their dismay at American
soldiers' heavy-handed tactics. 
The strains burst into the open after US troops fired on a civilian vehicle,
killing the driver, hours after seven Iraqi women and children were shot
dead at a checkpoint. An Apache helicopter was also said to have blown up a
lorry, killing 15 members of a single family, yesterday. 

Such killings highlighted a series of military and political differences
that senior British government sources say are creating "hairline cracks in
the relationship". 

The military relationship has been strained by "friendly fire" deaths, an
incident in which a Royal Marine commander complained that US troops
endangered his men, and the Americans' general attitude to the Iraqi

Politically, the allies have been at odds over the treatment of prisoners of
war, plans for postwar Iraq and the Middle East peace process. Britain has
also been dismayed by Donald Rumsfeld's threatening noises towards Iran and

Monday's checkpoint shootings were seen as a disaster for the coalition's
efforts to win Iraqi hearts and minds. Asked if they undermined attempts to
court the local population, Colonel Chris Vernon, a British army spokesman,
replied: "It does indeed, and if you were a civilian watching that you would
interpret it in that way." 

The difference in approach was epitomised yesterday when the Royal Marines
in four southern Iraqi towns swapped their helmets for berets as a sign of
goodwill. American troops wear helmets at all times and checkpoint troops
cover their faces with goggles and scarves. 

US commanders are also said to have instructed their troops to adopt tougher
tactics to weed out militiamen. "Everyone is now seen as a combatant until
proven otherwise," one Pentagon official is reported as saying before
Monday's checkpoint shooting. 

British military sources spoke at length about the hard-won experience of UK
troops from manning checkpoints and policing in Northern Ireland. "There is
no doubt that with that experience, as well as in peace support operations
in countries such as Bosnia, Kosovo and Sierra Leone, the British have
learnt the art of restraint," one source said. 

"The Americans have got a more blanket approach to things," said another.
"You will never see their Marines wandering around in berets. They still
wear hard helmets in Bosnia. You have got to be very careful you do not win
the battle and lose the war. We have to be sensitive and we do not want to
build up any resentment in the country." 

A senior American officer involved in war planning acknowledged yesterday
that the US had misjudged the mood of the Iraqi people. "There is the
information/psychological front that we try to push but we are probably not
as sophisticated about it as we want to be," he said. "There is a big
cultural difference between the United States and the Arab world that makes
it hard. 

"Are we getting the message across to the educated people? We are. But to
the people that want to be moved by the emotion and believe that there are
no good motives and think that the United States are here for oil and only
for oil, we have got to get the message across better." 

Tensions between the two countries' forces had already surfaced after the
deaths of three British servicemen in two "friendly fire" incidents after
which one survivor accused an American A10 pilot of showing no regard for
human life. A Royal Marine commander also accused the Americans of
abandoning his men during a joint operation in southern Iraq on the first
night of the war. 

Further differences have emerged over the treatment of prisoners of war -
though government sources said last night that Washington had now promised
that all would be given the protection of the Geneva Convention. 

But the Middle East is potentially the most divisive issue. Tony Blair has
staked huge amounts of political capital to secure President Bush's
reluctant backing for implementing a new "road map" for the peace process to
rebuild relations with Arab countries. 

A key prime ministerial adviser said yesterday that if Mr Bush failed to
fulfil his promises, that would represent a "significant breach which would
change things in the future". He added: "There are always stresses and
strains in the structure of this relationship. There is no rift, but we are
beginning to see hairline cracks." 

March 31, 2003

Washington Got It Wrong
Bring Our Soldiers Home

This was meant to be a quick, easy war. Shortly before I resigned a Cabinet
colleague told me not to worry about the political fall-out.

The war would be finished long before polling day for the May local

I just hope those who expected a quick victory are proved right. I have
already had my fill of this bloody and unnecessary war. I want our troops
home and I want them home before more of them are killed.

It is OK for Bush to say the war will go on for as long as it takes. He is
sitting pretty in the comfort of Camp David protected by scores of security
men to keep him safe.

It is easy to show you are resolute when you are not one of the poor guys
stuck in a sandstorm peering around for snipers.

This week British forces have shown bravery under attack and determination
in atrocious weather conditions. They are too disciplined to say it, but
they must have asked each other how British forces ended up exposed by the
mistakes of US politicians.

We were told the Iraqi army would be so joyful to be attacked that it would
not fight. A close colleague of US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld
predicted the march to Baghdad would be "a cakewalk".

We were told Saddam's troops would surrender. A few days before the war
Vice-President Dick Cheney predicted that the Republican Guard would lay
down their weapons.

We were told that the local population would welcome their invaders as
liberators. Paul Wolfowitz, No.2 at the Pentagon, promised that our tanks
would be greeted "with an explosion of joy and relief".

Personally I would like to volunteer Rumsfeld, Cheney and Wolfowitz to be
"embedded" alongside the journalists with the forward units.

That would give them a chance to hear what the troops fighting for every
bridge over the Euphrates think about their promises.

The top US General, William Wallace, has let the cat out of the bag. "The
enemy we are fighting is different from the one we'd war-gamed".

War is not some kind of harmless arcade game. Nobody should start a war on
the assumption that the enemy's army will co-operate. But that is exactly
what President Bush has done. And now his Marines have reached the outskirts
of Baghdad he does not seem to know what to do next.

It was not meant to be like this. By the time we got to Baghdad Saddam was
supposed to have crumpled. A few days before I resigned I was assured that
Saddam would be overthrown by his associates to save their own skins. But
they would only do it "at five minutes past midnight". It is now long past
that time and Saddam is still there. To compensate yesterday we blew up a
statue of Saddam in Basra. A statue! It is not the statue that terrifies
local people but the man himself and they know Saddam is still in control of

Having marched us up this cul-de-sac, Donald Rumsfeld has now come up with a
new tactic. Instead of going into Baghdad we should sit down outside it
until Saddam surrenders. There is no more brutal form of warfare than a
siege. People go hungry. The water and power to provide the sinews of a city
snap. Children die.

You can catch a glimpse of what would happen in Baghdad under siege by
looking at Basra. Its residents have endured several days of summer heat
without water.

In desperation they have been drinking water from the river into which the
sewage empties. Those conditions are ripe for cholera.

Last week President Bush promised that "Iraqis will see the great compassion
of the US". They certainly do not see it now. They don't see it in Baghdad.
What they see are women and children killed when missiles fall on market
places. They don't see it in Basra. What they see is the suffering of their
families with no water, precious little food, and no power to cook. There
will be a long-term legacy of hatred for the West if the Iraqi people
continue to suffer from the effects of the war we started.

Washington got it wrong over the ease with which the war could be won.
Washington could be just as wrong about the difficulty of running Iraq when
the fighting stops. Already there are real differences between Britain and
America over how to run post-war Iraq.

The dispute over the management of the port of Umm Qasr is a good example.
British officers sensibly took the view that the best and the most popular
solution would be to find local Iraqis who knew how to do it. Instead the US
have appointed an American company to take over the Iraqi asset. And guess
what? Stevedore Services of America who got the contract have a chairman
known for his donations to the Republican Party.

The argument between Blair and Bush over whether the UN will be in charge of
the reconstruction of Iraq is about more than international legitimacy. It
is about whether the Iraqi people can have confidence that their country is
being run for the benefit of themselves or for the benefit of the US.

Yesterday there was a sad and moving ceremony as the bodies of our brave
soldiers were brought back to Britain.

The Ministry of Defence announced that they were to be buried in Britain out
of consideration for their families. We must do all we can to ease the grief
of those who have lost a husband or a son, cut down in their prime.

Yet I can't help asking myself if there was not a better way to show
consideration for their families.

A better way could have been not to start a war which was never necessary
and is turning out to be badly planned. 

Front-line journalists in Iraq face tough time reporting war
Monday, 31-Mar-2003 6:20AM PST      Story from AFP / Luke Phillips
Copyright 2003 by Agence France-Presse (via ClariNet) 

DUBAI, March 31 (AFP) - Journalists in Iraq, whether embedded with coalition
forces or holed up under the eye of Iraqi authorities in Baghdad, face a
tough time reporting on a nasty war that has singularly failed to stay on

"We're about 100 miles (160 kilometres) south on the main highway. It's an
unfinished highway. It goes between the Tigris and Euphrates River in the
direction of Baghdad," journalist Phil Smucker told CNN in an interview as
battle raged around him in southern Iraq last week.

That dispatch was enough to see the Christian Science Monitor reporter
escorted to the Kuwaiti border by US forces and "expelled" for endangering a
military unit by being too specific.

Smucker was not one of the 600 journalists "embedded" with coalition forces
who formally agreed not to disclose information deemed too sensitive by
military commanders.

For journalists working outside the control of the US and British military
or the Iraqi authorities and the conditions they set in exchange for special
access, it is a high-risk venture.

Since the US-led war in Iraq was launched on March 20, veteran British ITN
television news correspondent Terry Lloyd is believed to have been killed in
southern Iraq, apparently after coming under fire from coalition forces as
he tried to cross the front lines independently.

Lloyd's French cameraman Fred Nerac and Lebanese interpreter Hussein Osman
are still missing.

Australian freelance cameraman Paul Moran was killed in a suicide car
bombing in northern Iraq while covering US airstrikes against an alleged
terrorist organisation.

In an apparent accident not linked to military action, Gaby Rado of
Britain's Channel 4 News fell from the roof of a hotel in the
Kurdish-controlled area of northern Iraq.

Many other correspondents and crews are lucky to be alive, some having
resurfaced after being reported missing and others offering terrifying
accounts of near-death scrapes in the heat of battle.

Even for those who accept to work within the US or Iraqi rules, it is still
a shooting war with bullets and bombs, ambushes and minefields.

"Truth should be an issue in this war, and having these reporters out there
accurately reporting conflict on the ground is important," Bryan Whitman of
the Pentagon's public affairs department said of the "embeds".

A cameraman of the Qatar-based Arabic-language Al-Jazeera television news
network reported missing on Friday was picked up by US forces outside Basra
and detained and interrogated for about 14 hours before being released.

In Basra, a reporter for Al-Jazeera, the sole media outlet with a crew
inside the southern Iraqi city, said the television team came under fire as
they tried to film food warehouses being shelled by British tanks.

Seven relieved Italian newspaper journalists who were reported missing
turned up in Baghdad on Saturday after being arrested in Basra when they
asked Iraqi policemen for directions.

The journalists were driving hire cars with Kuwaiti license plates and were
chided by authorities for having entered Iraq without a visa.

While the Italians said they had been treated well by the Iraqis, two
Portugese reporters, in the company of two Israeli colleagues, were less
lucky. They said they were "brutalised" by US military after being picked up
on suspicion of being spies and terrorists.

Israeli public television correspondent Dan Scemama told his network they
had spent the worst 48 hours of their lives during their "humiliating"
detention that included 36 hours inside a jeep with neither food nor medical

In Baghdad, foreign journalists who were housed in a press centre on the
ground floor of the information ministry have had to relocate to a city
hotel after Iraq's propaganda citadel sustained major damage in heavy
US-British bombing.

Vastly restricted in what they can cover, journalists -- accompanied by a
"minder" costing an obligatory 100 dollars a day -- often find themselves
bussed by the ministry to what it says are residential areas hit by
coalition planes, and hospitals caring for civilian casualties.

These trips offer powerful images that, much to the annoyance of Washington,
are often broadcast without censorship on Arab satellite television
stations, feeding pro-Iraq and anti-US sentiment on the Arab street.

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