Interesting Articles from the Net
coded jibes at Bush give conference what it wants to hear He had to be careful: an
unwritten rule of US public life demands that "politics stops at
the water's edge", that partisan hostilities be shelved when it
comes to foreign policy. Convention also dictates that a former
president give respectful support to his successor, especially when
But yesterday Clinton - whose
dazzling, dizzying career broke every rule in the US book - broke those
rules, too. He did it artfully, sometimes in code, but the 42nd
president of the United States used the floor of the Labour party
conference to unleash an acid critique of the Bush administration.
He had to be careful: an unwritten rule of US public life demands that "politics stops at the water's edge", that partisan hostilities be shelved when it comes to foreign policy. Convention also dictates that a former president give respectful support to his successor, especially when speaking abroad.
But yesterday Clinton - whose dazzling, dizzying career broke every rule in the US book - broke those rules, too. He did it artfully, sometimes in code, but the 42nd president of the United States used the floor of the Labour party conference to unleash an acid critique of the Bush administration.
Iran with or without the Shah was a Muslim and highly religious country also surrounded by countries who were also using religion directly or indirectly as a political tool. I do not claim that one must necessarily justify this, but I dare you to name one Muslim leader in the Middle East to this day who does not refer to God or Mohammed to justify its policies especially in regard to their more traditional minded population. Nasser the Egyptian referred to the Arab people and wanted to promote Arab Nationalism in the name of Islam.
Mazroei the brave member of Islamic parliament said 6 members of Guardian
Counsel are against 65 million. Read his interview with IRAN daily
"In the past few weeks Nelson Mandela
has called America a 'threat to world peace' and lambasted
Dick Cheney as a 'dinosaur'...", Gary Younge, The Guardian, UK
"America's case for war is built on blindness,
hypocrisy and lies George Bush and Donald Rumsfeld are wilfully
ignoring the realities of the Middle East. The result can only
be catastrophic", Robert Fisk, Independent.
"One year on: A view from the Middle East", Robert Fisk,
Independent. article on 9/11 from UK's Independent.
talks about the "dark september's" of the rest of the
world, chile's, lebonan, palestine, ...
Warplanes Striking to Degrade Iraqi Defenses
September 16, 2002
The destruction of the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001 had all the hallmarks of a turning point in history. Suddenly everything seemed different and nothing would ever be the same. People felt a similar shock after the bombing of Pearl Harbor in 1941, the stock market crash in 1929, the murder of John F. Kennedy in 1963 and, perhaps, even the stock market crash of 1987. But not all such traumas trigger a lasting shift in what the Germans call the zeitgeist, or the "spirit of the age."
How do futurists specializing on terrorism, such as Cetron, make such predictions? They read terrorist literature, interview people who know about terrorist groups, and scan the media for information. They keep up with new technologies, including the risks of nuclear terrorism. Some of them work for intelligence agencies and recruit agents to penetrate terrorist groups. Only this kind of covert intelligence would have enabled futurists to predict that an attack was likely in September 2001, or that it would involve hijacking airplanes to crash them into buildings.
This kind of specific intelligence may not have been available on 9/11, although the Egyptians claim to have provided a specific warning in early September, based on the work of their clandestine agents. But even without specific details, terrorism experts gave plenty of warning about the nature of the groups that were acting against us and the kind of tactics and technologies they were likely to use. There was a great deal that might have been done to prevent the 9/11 attacks.
But America was in denial. The problem was not so much a failure of intelligence as a zeitgeist that caused us to ignore it. We put the risk out of our minds, despite the attacks on American forces in Lebanon and on American embassies in Africa, and the previous bombing of the World Trade Center itself. On 9/11, denial was replaced by shock. The government rushed to collect better intelligence and took urgent military and security measures. The challenge for futurists now is to put aside both the denial and the shock, and to look further ahead. Military and security responses, important as they are, are not enough. We need to prepare for the post-9/11 world.
Back to Normal?
Financial Markets. Financial markets are one of the quickest and most sensitive indicators of a country’s mood. Panic can move quickly after a shock such as 9/11 and markets can spiral out of control. We have mechanisms for dealing with these panics, including "circuit breakers" that cut off or delay trading in the midst of a panic. But markets also have an inherent tendency to recover when investors perceive stocks as undervalued and buy in order to profit from the recovery. After the stock market crash of 1987, the markets stabilized and slowly recouped their losses.
After the 9/11 attacks, most investors wisely held back from the initial irrational panic. The markets were closed for a few days, justifiably since the attack site was so close to the stock exchange buildings. By the time the markets reopened, investors realized that stocks had not lost their fundamental value. Stock prices returned quite quickly to the level they had before the attack, and people who sold in panic suffered significant losses
Public Opinion. Sample surveys are another good source of information on the public mood, although they are not as quick as the financial markets. Futurists at Yankelovich, the National Opinion Research Center and elsewhere were quick to take the public’s pulse after the attacks. They found that people were eager to "rally around the flag." National pride and confidence in the military and other social institutions went up. In a NORC survey, the percent expressing "great confidence" in the military increased from 40% to 77%. The percent expressing "great confidence" in the executive branch of the government went from 13.5% to 51.5%. There was also an increase in faith in people in general, in organized religion, in Congress and in banks and other corporations. In their life styles and consumer behavior, most people made only minor changes such as cutting back on air travel until they felt the airlines were safe.
It would be a mistake, however, to assume that this short-term "return to normalcy" means that there will be no lasting impact of 9/11. Lasting impacts are likely to come in two ways. There will be changes in the rest of the world, and in the global system of which we are a part, that will require the United States to change. And there will be a gradual shift in the zeitgeist after the initial shock wears off, particularly among the younger generations. Futurist analysis can help us to understand the sources of these changes and their likely direction.
Impact of 9/11 on the World
Cultural Trends. Sociological futurist Pitirim Sorokin believed that history alternated between materialist and idealist phases. Writing in the 1930s and 1940s, he believed that a long period of materialist, empiricist, scientific dominance was coming to an end, to be followed by a new era dominated by idealistic, mystical culture. His theories are still popular with some "New Age" enthusiasts, but his prediction of a collapse of Western materialist culture was proven wrong. Today, even Osama bin Laden wears a Timex Ironman Triatholan watch and speaks to the world on satellite television. Historian Gilles Kepel argues that Islamist extremist movements are in decline throughout the Middle East, and that they have turned to terrorism out of frustration from their failure to win the domestic political struggles.
Rise and Fall of Empires. Futurists who study the rise and fall of global empires have found an approximately 100-year cycle, with major wars occurring at the transition from one dominant power to another. They believe that these long historical cycles may continue into the future. Writing in 1987, Modelski argued that there have been five major periods of warfare in modern European history: the Portuguese Cycle (1491-1516), the Dutch Cycle (1580-1609), the First British Cycle (1688-1713), the Second British Cycle (1792-1815) and the American Cycle (1914-1945). In 1982, Hopkins and Wallerstein looked at the same history and saw four major periods, those of the Hapsburgs, the Netherlands, Great Britain and the United States. While they disagreed as to where to draw the lines between epochs, these futurists agreed that the United States should be entering a phase of declining hegemony at the end of the century. Modelski expected American hegemony to be supplanted by that of the Soviet Union or Japan.
These predictions were proven wrong. The much-anticipated collapse of American hegemony never happened. Even if we accept the reality of the 100-year historical cycles, it was possible for a single nation to be dominant for two 100-year periods in a row, as Great Britain was. The Soviet Union is gone, the Japanese economy is troubled, and the European Community has its hands full dealing with Eastern Europe. Since no other nation is available to take over its leadership role in the world, the United States is faced with a choice. It can choose to turn inward, allowing the world system to fragment, or it can continue its world leadership role, perhaps for another 100 years.
Futurists have examined both of these possibilities.
If the United States chooses to turn inward, the likely outcome would be for the world to split into regional groupings along religious or "civilizational" lines. This possibility was anticipated in a best selling book, The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of the World Order, by Harvard professor Samuel Huntington. Huntington divided the world into regions along religious or ethnic lines, especially emphasizing the split between the Western and the Moslem "civilizations." His book provides support for Moslems who want to erect a firm boundary between their world and the Western world.
On the other side, futurists such as Michael Hart and Antonio Negri and Philip Bobbitt expect the United States to continue its dominant role, although sharing responsibilities as much as possible with allies. They describe the future as a global "empire" or "market-state" that transcends national rivalries.
The 9/11 attacks have had a major impact on America’s choice between these two alternatives, that is, between isolationist and interventionist roles in the world system. Thanks to 9/11, the isolationist tendencies on the right and the anti-American voices on the left have been marginalized. Troops have been sent to Afghanistan, and the Bush administration has resumed American efforts to mediate the Israeli/Palestinian dispute. There is a consensus among the country’s opinion leaders that the new technologies available to terrorists make it simply impossible for the United States and Western Europe to wall themselves off from the rest of the world.
Warfare Cycles. Will this new activism lead to an increase in war deaths? Futurists who study trends in warfare have found statistical evidence that there have been approximately 50-year peaks in war deaths over the last few centuries. This warfare cycle clearly has something to do with the rise and fall of empires, but not all wars between major powers lead to a shift from one empire to another. There may also be a generational factor. After a major war, the next generation often recoils from getting involved in another one. After two generations, memories of the horrors of war recede and bellicose sentiments become stronger.
But this warfare cycle seems to have ended. If it had continued, the world should have experienced a major war before the end of the twentieth century. The Cuban missile crisis may have been too soon, the memory of the horrors of World War II was still too strong, especially in Russia. But a World War III between the NATO and the Soviet Union was certainly a possibility. Fortunately, the development of thermonuclear weapons made this war simply too terrible to for either Soviet or American leaders to contemplate, and they were able to manage their conflicts until the Soviet system collapsed for internal reasons.
The 9/11 terrorists would like to provoke a global war between the West and the Moslem world. It could be argued that the War on Terrorism is that war, and that it is an alternative to the cyclical major war that was missed. So far, however, the United States has carefully avoided framing the conflict as one between Moslems and the West. Professor Huntington’s book served as a warning of a future that could be avoided, not as a prediction of an inevitable one. As long as the War on Terrorism remains limited in this way, the number of casualties seems certain to be modest compared to the wars of the last century.
Hit Saudis first
By Maureen Dowd '
WASHINGTON - I was dubious at first. But now I think Vice President Dick
Cheney has it right.
Making the case for going to war in the Middle East to veterans Monday, the
vice president said that "our goal would be ... a government that is
democratic and pluralistic, a nation where the human rights of every ethnic
and religious group are recognized and protected."
OK, I'm on board. Let's declare war on Saudi 'Arabia Let's do "regime
change" in a kingdom that gives medieval a bad name.
By overthrowing the Saudi monarchy, the Cheney-Rummy-CondiWolfy-Perle-W.
contingent could realize its dream of redrawing the Middle East map.
Once everyone realizes that we're no longer being hypocrites, coddling a
corrupt, repressive dictatorship that sponsors terrorism even as we plot to
crush a corrupt, repressive dictatorship that sponsors terrorism, it will
transform our relationship with the Arab world.
We won't need Charlotte Beers at ;the State; Department, thinking up Madison
Avenue slogans to make the Arab avenue love us.
("Democracy! Mm-mm, good.") If America is going to have a policy of
justified 'preemption, in' Henry Kissinger's clinical phrase, why not start
by chasing out those sorry - Saudi royals?
If we're willing to knock over Saddam for gassing the Kurds, we should be
willing to knock over the 'Saudis for letting the state-supported religious
police burn 15 girls to death last March in a Mecca school, forcing them
back inside a fiery building because they tried to flee without their
And shouldn't we preempt them before they teach more boys to hate American
infidels and- before they can stunt the lives of more women, 'The vice
president' declared Monday, "This nation will not-live at the mercy of
terrorists or terror regimes." I am absolutely with him.
And shouldn't we (and our SUVs) be at the mercy of this family that we arm
and protect and go to war for? The Saudis have never formally apologized to
America for the 15 Saudi citizens who came here and killed 3,000 Americans
as they went to work one sun-dappled September morning. They have never even
tried to rewrite their incendiary terrorist-breeding textbooks ' or stop
their newspapers from spewing anti-American, anti-Semitic lies, like their
stories accusing Jews of drinking children's blood. They brazenly held a
telethon, with King Fahd and, Crown Prince Abdullah giving millions, to
raise money for families of Palestinian suicide bombers, or "martyrs. " Last
week, the Saudi embassy here put out a glossy brochure hailing their
"humanitarian work" at the telethon.
It was embarrassing Tuesday, given President Bush',s swagger on Iraq, to
watch him fawn over the Saudis. At lunch at his ranch he entertained Prince
Bandar, the man who got private planes to spirit' Osama bin Laden's
relatives out of the United States after the attacks.
Bush also called Crown Prince Abdullah on Tuesday to assure him of the
"eternal friendship" between their countries and to soothe hurt Saudi
feelings over a lawsuit filed by-Sept. 11 victims charging Saudi support of
Cheney argues that we must invade Iraq while we have a strategic window for
action, while Saddam's army is still reeling.
But attacking Saudis would be even easier. They are soft and spoiled. On
Tuesday, Jerome Socolovsky of the Associated Press wrote about how King Fahd
brought' thousands of members of the House of Saud to Marbella, Spain where
they stocked up on luxury-items and hired North Atrican servants. Women in
veils and waterproof robes rode Jet Skis and members of the royal family
talked about the Sept. 11 attacks as an Israeli-CIA plot.
A Saudi invasion would be like the Panama invasion during Bush I. We already
have bases to use there. And this time Cheney won't have to beg the royals
to use their air space, or send American forces.
Once we make Saudi Arabia into our own self-serve gas pump, its neighbors
wilt get the democracy bug.
The Saudis would probably use' surrogates to fight anyway. They pay poor
workers from other countries to do their menial labor. And they paid the
Americans to fight the Iraqis in 1991. The joke among the American forces
then was: "What's the Saudi national anthem! 'On ward, Christian Soldiers."
We-haven't been hit at home by any of Saddam's Scud missiles.
But the human missiles launched by Saudi Arabia have taken their toll. '
Maureen Dowd writes for the New York Times.
ML: If you read my earlier books, you will find that I was the co-author of a book ("Debacle; Carter and the Fall of the Shah") that dealt with the 1979 Revolution, and another ("Perilous Statecraft") that dealt with the Iran-Contra affair, in which I had a minor role. I felt that Khomeini's seizure of power was a catastrophe at the time, and hoped it would be possible to change the Iranian regime in the mid-1980s, when I worked in the Reagan Administration. So I have been following Iranian matters for a long time, I have many Iranian friends, and I was in a good position to follow the events of the past year or two.
Finally, I hate tyrannies and like all Americans I immediately feel
drawn to brave people fighting for their freedom. So I thought it was
important to follow this story.
MPG - How do you foresee the aftermath of a secular victory in Iran, within Iran itself and the region as a whole?
ML : I'm not smart enough to answer that question. I hope to see a
freer Iran, that ends the long, ugly history of Iranian support for
terrorist groups, that gives women greater freedom, that separates
mosque and state, and that permits the talents of the Iranian people to
express themselves. If that happens, it will strike a powerful blow at
the crazy fundamentalists in neighboring countries like Iraq and Syria,
and quite possibly fatally wound organizations like Hezbollah and al
MPG - In your opinion, what should the Iranian opposition abroad
ML : I have always refused to get involved in "diaspora
politics." But in general, Iranians with the means to do so should
try to support the Iranian people who are fighting for their lives and
for their freedom. There are radio and television stations that need
help in the worst possible way, for example. And there is widespread
starvation inside the country. Surely it should be possible to organize
"care packages" with food and medicines!
MPG - Do you have a message for those who are fighting the
religous dictatorship inside Iran?
ML : I think that President Bush spoke for all of us: the Iranian
people should know that the American people fully support their
legitimate demands for freedom, and we Americans will support them now,
and do everything possible to help them as events unfold.
Monday, August 19, 2002
: In Memory of More than 400 Innocent Victims of Rex Cinema
- @ 06:53 PST The victims were
mainly families; watching the Iranian film of GavaznhA. Only a father
and his youngest daughter survived. They had left to get some ice
cream for the rest of the family, but when they returned, they found
the doors locked and were helpless to rescue the rest of their family
who were burning in the inferno.
The arson was
deliberately started by the Islamic fundamentalists. Those who had
given the orders are now in power in the Islamic Republic of Iran. One
of the main perpetrators was arrested by the previous regime and had
confessed to the crime and having received the religious fetwa. The
previous regime however failed to capitalise on this and expose the
true nature of the fundamentalists to the Iranian public. Some
military elements within the previous regime had decided not to rock
the boat in case it damaged the secret negotiations which were under
way at the time with Ayatollah Khomeini!
The tragedy of the
Rex Cinema was in fact a warning for future atrocities by Islamic
fundamentalists and their total disregard for the lives of innocent
The victims were mainly families; watching the Iranian film of GavaznhA. Only a father and his youngest daughter survived. They had left to get some ice cream for the rest of the family, but when they returned, they found the doors locked and were helpless to rescue the rest of their family who were burning in the inferno.
The arson was deliberately started by the Islamic fundamentalists. Those who had given the orders are now in power in the Islamic Republic of Iran. One of the main perpetrators was arrested by the previous regime and had confessed to the crime and having received the religious fetwa. The previous regime however failed to capitalise on this and expose the true nature of the fundamentalists to the Iranian public. Some military elements within the previous regime had decided not to rock the boat in case it damaged the secret negotiations which were under way at the time with Ayatollah Khomeini!
The tragedy of the
Rex Cinema was in fact a warning for future atrocities by Islamic
fundamentalists and their total disregard for the lives of innocent
Iranian President Says U.S. Leaders 'Misused' Sept. 11
August 14, 2002
By JOHN F. BURNS
KABUL, Afghanistan, Aug. 13 - President Mohammad Khatami of
Iran struck out at President Bush and other senior American
officials at a news conference here today, saying they had
"misused" the Sept. 11 attacks on the United States "to
create an atmosphere of violence and war" across the world
that could sow the seeds for still more destruction.
Mr. Khatami's visit to Afghanistan, Iran's eastern
neighbor, was the first in 40 years by an Iranian head of
state. He warned that American leaders, in widening their
campaign against terrorism, could unleash a chain reaction
that would engulf countries other than the intended targets
in a new round of violence. He implied, without saying so
explicitly, that the United States itself could be among
"The events of Sept. 11 were horrific, but the American
leaders misused them, too," Mr. Khatami told reporters
gathered in the old royal palace here in the Afghan capital
after talks with President Hamid Karzai. The attackers "did
it because they wanted to create an atmosphere of violence
and war in the world, but we know with certainty that in
today's world all our fates are linked."
"Those who plan to launch this war shouldn't think that the
effects will be felt only where they attack," he continued.
"To believe that you can make people submit by force is
wrong. We know that this approach only brings anger and
Although Mr. Khatami mentioned no country as a possible
target of an American attack, he appeared to be referring
to Mr. Bush's vow to overthrow President Saddam Hussein of
Iraq. Although Iran fought an eight-year war with Iraq in
the 1980's that cost the two nations at least a million
casualties, Iran opposes an American war in Iraq.
The Iranian leader's remarks had the effect of turning a
visit intended to focus on Iran's backing for Mr. Karzai's
new government into a forum for airing Iran's bitter
differences with the the United States, the Karzai
government's indispensable ally. Mr. Karzai, seated beside
Mr. Khatami at the news conference, remained studiously
neutral, saying Afghanistan sought good relations with both
Iran and the United States.
American relations with Iran had seemed to be thawing
slightly over the last several years with the hope that the
moderate Mr. Khatami would prevail over old guard
conservatives. But Mr. Bush's inclusion of Iran in an "axis
of evil" in his State of the Union address in January has
seemed to buoy the conservatives, and has brought bitter
responses from Mr. Khatami as well.
With his visit today, Mr. Khatami appeared eager, though,
to throw Iran's weight behind the Karzai government, and to
counter allegations by American officials that Iran has
been compounding Afghanistan's instability with narrowly
targeted policies aimed at promoting Iran's regional
In particular, officials in Washington have suggested that
Iran has sought to carve out an area of influence on
Afghanistan's western border by favoring a western warlord,
Ismail Khan, over the Kabul government, and by giving
sanctuary to members of Al Qaeda who fled to Iran after the
collapse of the Taliban.
Mr. Khatami today cited Iran's recent action in handing
over 16 Qaeda suspects to Saudi Arabia. Far from giving
sanctuary to Qaeda fugitives, he said, Iran had followed a
consistent policy of denying the use of its territory to
terrorist groups of all kinds.
"We have huge borders, but if we have any suspicions that
people crossing them might belong to Al Qaeda or other
terrorist groups, we immediately send them to their
countries of origin," he said.
But in Washington today, Secretary of Defense Donald H.
Rumsfeld, asked about Mr. Khatami's visit, said: "They are
permitting Al Qaeda to be present in their country today,
and it may very well be that they, for whatever reason,
have turned over some people to other countries. But
they've not turned any to us."
The political crosscurrents in Kabul today were
particularly striking for the fact that American Special
Forces soldiers cradling automatic rifles, with American
flags stitched to their baseball caps and shirt-sleeves,
controlled security throughout a day of engagements for Mr.
When he berated the United States in what was once the
Afghan king's audience chamber, Mr. Khatami was only about
20 feet away from a stone-faced American bodyguard, with at
least a dozen more outside. But the Americans appeared to
be trying to remain just far enough away to deny news
photographers a shot of Iran's leader under the protection
of heavily armed Americans.
To the chagrin of many Afghans who considered the move an
affront to national dignity, the American bodyguards
assumed responsibility for Mr. Karzai's protection last
month after the assassination of one of his closest
political allies, Hajji Abdul Qadir. Almost six weeks
later, Afghan investigators say they still have no clues as
to the identity or motive of the two gunmen.
Afghans have two main theories - that Mr. Qadir was a
victim of local feuds in Jalalabad, his eastern political
base, where competing warlords have become entangled in
rivalries over the area's rich traffic in opium and heroin;
or that he was the target of a conspiracy hatched within
the Karzai government itself. Deep divisions between Tajiks
and Pashtuns, the country's two main ethnic groups, have
seriously undermined the new government.
By taking over Mr. Karzai's security, the United States
showed how crucial it considers his survival is to hopes
that the government will strengthen its shaky credibility
and extend its authority into hinterland areas controlled
by recalcitrant warlords. As a Pashtun, like Mr. Qadir, Mr.
Karzai is outweighed politically in the government by
Tajiks. They became America's main allies in the fight
against the Taliban after Sept. 11.
Mr. Karzai saw to it today that Mr. Khan, who controls the
region around the city of Herat, was a prominent member of
his entourage for the talks, a move intended to signal a
new loyalty by Mr. Kahn to the Kabul government. Mr.
Khatami referred repeatedly at the news conference to
Iran's firm backing for "the central government" and noted
that a $550 million Iranian aid package would be managed
through the Kabul government - and not, as some in the
Karzai government had feared, as a local arrangement with
Western diplomats monitoring the visit said Iran's
commitment to back the Karzai government, together with
Pakistan's similar pledge, was a major plus for the new
administration as it wrestles with internal challenges to
its authority. With support from these countries that flank
Afghanistan to the east and west, as well as from the
former Soviet Central Asian republics to the north, the
diplomats said, the Kabul government has been relieved, at
least for now, of the strains that regional power politics
placed on past Afghan governments, including the Taliban.
Despite his warnings to the United States, Mr. Khatami
seemed eager to emphasize that Iran and the United States
had found a common interest in Afghanistan, both in the
overthrow of the Taliban and in the effort to help the new
government onto its feet. The Taliban and Al Qaeda, he
said, had posed major problems for Iran, not least in their
"completely different" views of Islam.
After Sept. 11, he said, Iran had offered its full support
to the American-led military campaign, including some steps
known only to Iranian and American officials that had made
the end of Taliban rule "much easier" than it might
otherwise have been.
But the Iranian leader's remarks were spiked throughout
with a strong sense of resentment against the Bush
administration. He made a pointed reference to conciliatory
steps by President Clinton's administration, which American
officials said at the time were aimed at strengthening Mr.
Khatami's hand in the internal power struggle.
This "way of dealing with matters was more logical, and
closer to the world's interest," he said, than the
hostility toward Iran that emerged as Washington defined
its policy after Sept. 11.
Under the Bush administration, Mr. Khatami said, an
"arrogance" about American power had taken over that
clouded Washington's judgment about its own interests. But
Iran remained hopeful, he said, that "America will put
aside this arrogance, and see the realities as they are."
"We still hope to see changes in the policies of the United
States," he added, "that will serve the interests of its
own people, and of the world."
The AIC runs and hides
Officers Say U.S. Aided Iraq in War Despite Use of Gas
Sat Aug 17, 3:17 PM ET
By PATRICK E. TYLER The New York Times
WASHINGTON, Aug. 17 - A covert American program during the Reagan
administration provided Iraq with critical battle planning assistance
at a time when American intelligence agencies knew that Iraqi
commanders would employ chemical weapons in waging the decisive battles
of the Iran-Iraq war, according to senior military officers with direct
knowledge of the program.
These officers, most of whom agreed to speak on the condition that they
not be named, spoke in response to a reporter's questions about the
nature of gas warfare on both sides of the conflict between Iran and
Iraq from 1981 to 1988. Iraq's use of gas in that conflict is
repeatedly cited by President Bush ( news - web sites) and, this week,
by his national security adviser, Condoleezza Rice ( news - web sites),
as justification for "regime change" in Iraq.
The covert program was carried out at a time when President Reagan's
top aides, including Secretary of State George P. Shultz, Defense
Secretary Frank C. Carlucci and Gen. Colin L. Powell, then the national
security adviser, were publicly condemning Iraq for its use of poison
gas, especially after Iraq attacked Kurds in Halabja in March 1988.
During the Iran-Iraq war, the United States decided it was imperative
that Iran be thwarted, so it could not overrun the important
oil-producing states in the Persian Gulf. It has long been known that
the United States provided intelligence assistance to Iraq in the form
of satellite photography to help the Iraqis understand how Iranian
forces were deployed against them. But the full nature of the program,
as described by former Defense Intelligence Agency officers, was not
Secretary of State Powell, through a spokesman, said the officers'
description of the program was "dead wrong," but declined to discuss
it. His deputy, Richard L. Armitage, a senior defense official at the
time, used an expletive relayed through a spokesman to indicate his
denial that the United States acquiesced in the use of chemical
The Defense Intelligence Agency declined to comment, as did Lt. Gen.
Leonard Peroots, retired, who supervised the program as the head of the
agency. Mr. Carlucci said, "My understanding is that what was provided"
to Iraq "was general order of battle information, not operational
"I certainly have no knowledge of U.S. participation in preparing
battle and strike packages," he said, "and doubt strongly that that
Later, he added, "I did agree that Iraq should not lose the war, but I
certainly had no foreknowledge of their use of chemical weapons."
Though senior officials of the Reagan administration publicly condemned
Iraq's employment of mustard gas, sarin, VX and other poisonous agents,
the American military officers said President Reagan, Vice President
George Bush and senior national security aides never withdrew their
support for the highly classified program in which more than 60
officers of the Defense Intelligence Agency were secretly providing
detailed information on Iranian deployments, tactical planning for
battles, plans for airstrikes and bomb-damage assessments for Iraq.
Iraq shared its battle plans with the Americans, without admitting the
use of chemical weapons, the military officers said. But Iraq's use of
chemical weapons, already established at that point, became more
evident in the war's final phase.
Saudi Arabia played a crucial role in pressing the Reagan
administration to offer aid to Iraq out of concern that Iranian
commanders were sending waves of young volunteers to overrun Iraqi
forces. Prince Bandar bin Sultan, the Saudi ambassador to the United
States, then and now, met with President Saddam Hussein ( news - web
sites) of Iraq and then told officials of the Central Intelligence
Agency ( news - web sites) and the Defense Intelligence Agency that
Iraq's military command was ready to accept American aid.
In early 1988, after the Iraqi Army, with American planning assistance,
retook the Fao Peninsula in an attack that reopened Iraq's access to
the Persian Gulf, a defense intelligence officer, Lt. Col. Rick
Francona, now retired, was sent to tour the battlefield with Iraqi
officers, the American military officers said.
He reported that Iraq had used chemical weapons to cinch its victory,
one former D.I.A. official said. Colonel Francona saw zones marked off
for chemical contamination, and containers for the drug atropine
scattered around, indicating that Iraqi soldiers had taken injections
to protect themselves from the effects of gas that might blow back over
their positions. (Colonel Francona could not be reached for comment.)
C.I.A. officials supported the program to assist Iraq, though they were
not involved. Separately, the C.I.A. provided Iraq with satellite
photography of the war front.
Col. Walter P. Lang, retired, the senior defense intelligence officer
at the time, said he would not discuss classified information, but
added that both D.I.A. and C.I.A. officials "were desperate to make
sure that Iraq did not lose" to Iran.
"The use of gas on the battlefield by the Iraqis was not a matter of
deep strategic concern," he said. What Mr. Reagan's aides were
concerned about, he said, was that Iran not break through to the Fao
Peninsula and spread the Islamic revolution to Kuwait and Saudi Arabia.
Colonel Lang asserted that the Defense Intelligence Agency "would have
never accepted the use of chemical weapons against civilians, but the
use against military objectives was seen as inevitable in the Iraqi
struggle for survival." Senior Reagan administration officials did
nothing to interfere with the continuation of the program, a former
participant in the program said.
Iraq did turn its chemical weapons against the Kurdish population of
northern Iraq, but the intelligence officers say they were not involved
in planning any of the military operations in which these assaults
occurred. They said the reason was that there were no major Iranian
troop concentrations in the north and the major battles where Iraq's
military command wanted assistance were on the southern war front.
The Pentagon ( news - web sites)'s battle damage assessments confirmed
that Iraqi military commanders had integrated chemical weapons
throughout their arsenal and were adding them to strike plans that
American advisers either prepared or suggested. Iran claimed it
suffered thousands of deaths from chemical weapons.
The American intelligence officers never encouraged or condoned Iraq's
use of chemical weapons, but neither did they oppose it because they
considered Iraq to be struggling for its survival, people involved at
the time said in interviews.
Another former senior D.I.A. official who was an expert on the Iraqi
military said the Reagan administration's treatment of the issue -
publicly condemning Iraq's use of gas while privately acquiescing in
its employment on the battlefield - was an example of the "Realpolitik"
of American interests in the war.
The effort on behalf of Iraq "was heavily compartmented," a former
D.I.A. official said, using the military jargon for restricting secrets
to those who need to know them.
"Having gone through the 440 days of the hostage crisis in Iran," he
said, "the period when we were the Great Satan, if Iraq had gone down
it would have had a catastrophic effect on Kuwait and Saudi Arabia, and
the whole region might have gone down - that was the backdrop of the
One officer said, "They had gotten better and better" and after a while
chemical weapons "were integrated into their fire plan for any large
operation, and it became more and more obvious."
A number of D.I.A. officers who took part in aiding Iraq more than a
decade ago when its military was actively using chemical weapons, now
say they believe that the United States should overthrow Mr. Hussein at
some point. But at the time, they say, they all believed that their
covert assistance to Mr. Hussein's military in the mid-1980's was a
crucial factor in Iraq's victory in the war and the containment of a
far more dangerous threat from Iran.
The Pentagon "wasn't so horrified by Iraq's use of gas," said one
veteran of the program. "It was just another way of killing people -
whether with a bullet or phosgene, it didn't make any difference," he
Former Secretary of State Shultz and Vice President Bush tried to
stanch the flow of chemical precursors to Iraq and spoke out against
Iraq's use of chemical arms, but Mr. Shultz, in his memoir, also
alluded to the struggle in the administration.
"I was stunned to read an intelligence analysis being circulated within
the administration that `we have demolished a budding relationship
(with Iraq) by taking a tough position in opposition to chemical
weapons,' " he wrote.
Mr. Shultz also wrote that he quarreled with William J. Casey, then the
director of central intelligence, over whether the United States should
press for a new chemical weapons ban at the Geneva Disarmament
Conference. Mr. Shultz declined further comment.