Saturday, November 08, 2003

The New World Scene

By John Pedler, diplomatic consultant
(former British diplomat, ex-‘Cold Warrior’) 8 November 2003

[This remains one of our basic papers: it was prepared for correspondents in the US who sought 'ammunition' re foreign and defence policy to counter President GW Bush, presumed Republican candidate in 2004]
An nescis, mi fili, quantilla prudentia regitur orbis?(Do you not know, my son, with what little wisdom the world is governed?)
Count Axel Gustafsson Oxenstierna, administrator of Sweden. Letter to his son, a young diplomat, 1648. 
It is now increasingly recognised that the US and British rush to war with Iraq on 20 March 2003 was a blunder on a world scale from which it is essential, but very difficult, to recover. But too few, even among politicians, understand how this occurred and what lessons must be drawn before the United States can again lead in addressing the world's pressing challenges - only one of which is international terrorism.

This note is necessarily repetitive of previous offerings. For it is compiled in response to US and UK correspondents' requests to set out in one place what seem the more important warnings given before the Iraq war by diplomatic, intelligence, military, academic, and media professionals about the likely consequences of an attack on Iraq not approved by the UN or at least by a consensus of the powers directly involved.

As one of these remarked - for various, often good, reasons, it is difficult for many distinguished individuals, let alone governments, to criticise the Bush Administration (or even the Blair premiership) as openly and comprehensively as they might like. Part of this task thus falls to us lesser mortals.
These warnings were well known. It took no great prescience to be among this year's outsize crop of Cassandras. And it is daily becoming clear that, as one assumed, these same warnings were also made within the US and UK governments at high official level. At the top level, we are discovering, it appears that they were sometimes played down, and "adjustments" made to the meagre intelligence available, to meet the political expectations of the US President and the British Prime Minister and their political advisers. (Mr. Bush and Mr. Blair had, it now seems, decided on war, without international approval if need be, at least as early as August 2002).


In August 2002 we expressed the fear that, as in August 1914, the world stood at a crossroads where a wrong choice - like World War I - would determine a subsequent dark history for the century. Many governments (with the exception of the US and the UK) and leading international observers recognised that what was at stake with the Iraq crisis was the world's gradual, fragile, progress towards
international resolution of its many urgent problems. This progress cannot be ensured without the participation, even leadership, of the US - the only superpower at present.

Such progress involves eventually transforming war into international police action - an aim for which, it can be said, tens of millions died in the two World Wars. (This was what the World War I slogan "the war to end war" implied). Would that slow, steady progress continue - or would the United States and then others revert to unilateralism setting back the course of history? The Iraq crisis, which (under a different US president), could relatively easily have marked a defining step in this positive direction, marked instead a reversal of this historic trend - humanity's one hope - back towards the unbridled nationalism of 1914.
Recalling these warnings, the UN Secretary General made this observation the central point in his "post mortem" speech after the defeat and occupation of Iraq.

But it is astonishing that so many still cannot accept that President Bush and Prime Minister Blair have indeed blundered on a world scale. And blundered despite so many warnings which it did not take an expert to see were well-founded. Let us consider the most important of these warnings and see how far they are already proving correct. It is a formidable list:

As all with any knowledge of Islam and the Middle East know, al-Qaeda's ideology is an extreme and violent mutation of Saudi Arabia's official Wahabi narrow, rigid, religious interpretation of Islam. Saddam Hussein, on the contrary, was a secular dictator representing a particularly cruel form of Ba'ath "national socialism" - somewhat akin to Hitler's Nazi National Socialist fascism. Just as Hitler repressed communism, Saddam repressed Islamic religious extremism.
So, not only would an American "unilateral" attack on Iraq
i) remove Saddam, al-Qaeda's principal ideological enemy, but, by ending Ba'ath repression, it would:
ii) open up for international terrorists a second front in Iraq at the very centre of the Middle East. A second front where al-Qaeda would be at home culturally and linguistically and the US operating very much "away". The collapse of Ba'ath control, particularly control of the frontiers, opened the way for al-Qaeda (and its alter ego or ally Ansar al-Islam - hitherto confined to a pocket in the Kurdish border area with Iran) to infiltrate Iraq - along with other terrorists. And
iii) without the Ba'ath or some other strong uniting hand, Iraq would be vulnerable to disintegration into Sunni, Kurd, and (backed by Iran) Shi'ite areas - upsetting the stability of the entire Middle East (a major al-Qaeda aim).
iv) Former Ba'athists, as Sunnis open to Wahabi doctrines and desperate to recover some position after losing a war, could likely be encouraged to make common cause with al-Qaeda cadres in terrorist opposition to the US occupation.
v) An open border would also enable Iranian hard liners to infiltrate to give support to Iraq's majority Shi'ites who would be sure to seek the political power denied them under Saddam. This could contribute towards a dissolution of Iraq as desired by al-Qaeda.
vi) The American prewar attempt to bribe the new Turkish Government (reportedly with some $11bn) to permit the US to attack Iraq from Turkey with the involvement of Turkish troops, would prejudice hopes of Iraqi acceptance of an American occupation. For all Iraqis, Turkey is the former imperial power still on its doorstep - unlike the UK which is far away. Not only the Kurds, for long oppressed by Turkey, but any Turkish involvement in war with Iraq or occupation would be likely to be bitterly resented by many ordinary Iraqis, Sunni and Shi'ite as well as Kurds.
Fortunately Turkey refused the American bribe. Although under renewed American pressure post war, it did agree to provide occupation troops, but has so far wisely refrained from doing so after the American-installed Iraqi Governing Council opposed their arrival.
vii) Iraq's history suggested that the Iraqi public's relief, however great, at being freed from Saddam, would quite soon turn against an American-run occupation. The CIA warned, prewar, that the Administration's assumption that American troops would receive long-standing welcome was mistaken. Although most Iraqis appear glad to be free of Saddam, the American honeymoon lasted even less time than many pundits predicted. One quote is typical of the ambivalent attitude of a large number of Iraqis towards the occupation: "Let's say someone came into your home and made a big mess... then he says 'Oh, I have to go now'. No he has to clean things up."
viii) American preoccupation with Iraq would help the Taliban and al-Qaeda to recover a position in Afghanistan (see 4. below).
ix) With Saddam removed, infiltration of, and internal extremist pressures on, Saudi Arabian society would be facilitated. And instability in Iraq, or even a move to some kind of Western style democracy ill-tailored to the region could help destabilise the Saudi oligarchy - a principal aim of al-Qaeda. Extremist pressures, even attacks, are indeed now affecting Saudi Arabia, but whether the Saudi regal oligarchy can respond effectively will largely depend on success in establishing a stable Iraqi government.
x) With the Americans in Iraq, an al-Qaeda-fanned Iraqi "struggle against occupation" would all but certainly become united with the Palestinians' second intifada against Israeli occupation. The two occupation regimes would in turn fan anti-American and anti-Jewish sentiment throughout the Islamic world and beyond - preparing the ground for al-Qaeda recruitment (See below 3).
xi) A rush to "unilateral" war and its likely aftermath must inevitably greatly increase anti-American sentiment, and loss of confidence in the US even among its friends. The Bush Administration would
risk squandering world sympathy won after 9.11 and make much more difficult and less effective international cooperation in rooting out al-Qaeda throughout the world.
xii) War and occupation of Iraq would do much to sharpen confrontation between the Islamic world and the secular and Christian West.

In the autumn of 2002, accepting much of the above, a DIA memo warned that a post-war Iraq would be "highly complex and driven by political and religious factions”. The US occupiers would be "hard pressed to keep the lid on... Saddam might decide to fight on, and there would be an influx of Islamic fighters". In February 2003, with war imminent, then US Army Chief of Staff General Eric Shinseki, basing himself on this and similar US official assessments, told Congress that the occupation forces would need to be far larger than the forces committed in the war itself. Aware of these dangers, a State Department analysis warned that a "liberal democracy would be difficult to achieve" in Iraq.

(But on 26 February 2003, President Bush nevertheless confidently repeated his claim that bringing "democracy" to Iraq would help "democratise" the other Arab countries - apparently oblivious of the immense difficulties he faced - difficulties he has since been obliged to recognise).

Despite the above, Bush Administration hawkish "spin" gave the impression that Saddam had been in some way involved in "9.11". A belief, polls suggested, that in June 2003 was still held by 71% of Americans, who therefore expressed their conviction that going to war had been right. (This was just before President Bush himself, correcting Vice President Cheney, declared that there was is fact no evidence of any such link).

The UK though, did not attempt to link Saddam with al-Qaeda. In February 2003, during the Security Council's prewar discussions, British Intelligence warned, "al-Qaeda is the greatest threat, and that threat will be heightened by an attack on Iraq".

The CIA was of course, always well aware of the gulf between Saddam and al-Qaeda. In November 2003, rather late in the day, CIA sources expressed surprise that al-Qaeda and Ba'athists were cooperating in terrorism in Iraq, because "the two are ideological enemies".

President Putin accurately summed up the occupation situation (as reported on 6 Oct 2003): "The invasion of Iraq has created a new terrorist haven where one did not exist previously" adding that Saddam "struggled against fundamentalists and either put them in jail or exiled them... the new coalition faces two enemies at once - the remains of Saddam and the fundamentalists."

After the passage nem con of Security Council Resolution 1441 returning the United Nations inspectors to Iraq, almost all expert opinion agreed that Saddam Hussein was effectively "back in his box". This would be the more certain if the French suggestion of greatly increasing the number of inspectors was accepted, while at the same time maintaining the military threat.

By February 2003 it was already apparent from IAEA inspections on the ground and aerial surveillance that Iraq was far from producing nuclear weapons. Most experts agreed that Saddam probably had stocks of chemical and biological weapons which might well be used on a battlefield, but lacked the means to deliver them effectively against US or British targets. A CIA assessment in October 2002 thus appeared correct: "Saddam Hussein poses little threat and is only likely to attack the US if attacked first". The risk of Iraq giving Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) to al-Qaeda was minimal - though this was a major reason Presdent Bush gave for going so precipitately to war.

(From the ongoing Kelly enquiry in the UK it is now clear that the British claim that Iraq could deploy WMD within 45 minutes referred only to battlefield chemical and possibly biological weapons. Experts doubted even that claim).

In these circumstances - as many observers had feared at least since the latter '90s and certainly by February 2003 - North Korea was far the most serious threat to world peace given its advanced nuclear and missile capabilities and unpredictable governance. Even Iran was a greater threat than Iraq.
Experts on North Korea warned that an attack on Iraq would detract attention from North Korea (and Iran). Committing in Iraq, US forces, US funds, and above all US prestige was to commit them in the wrong place to the considerable advantage of North Korea.

They also pointed out that an American "unilateral" attack on Iraq could well prompt even greater intransigence by North Korea (and perhaps also Iran) in forwarding its nuclear capabilities - partly because of genuinely increased fears of American intentions toward members of the "Axis of Evil", and partly to take advantage of US preoccupation with Iraq.

They deplored President Bush's linking of disparate North Korea with Iraq and Iran as members of this "axis" and were alarmed by his astonishingly undiplomatic remark "I hate Kim Jong Il" - the "Dear Leader" with semi-divine status. That could only make more difficult the task of North Korean negotiators in relations with Americans.

They argued that North Korea was not Iraq where America could risk going it alone. The only way to deal with this unpredictable state where taking any military action could provoke a second disastrous Korean war, was by delicate multilateral diplomacy and the coordination of pressures, involving not just the US, but China, Japan, South Korea, and Russia as well as other interested powers.

They concluded that the same simplistic and insensitive unilateralism which was driving Mr. Bush into a rush to war in Iraq, had already in some degree prejudiced an international approach to North Korea (and to Iran).

This has proved the case even though the Bush Administration, under great pressure not least from its traditional allies as well as because of its severe occupation problems in Iraq, has wisely begun to make an about turn from uni- to multi-lateralism in its confrontation with North Korea. This is seen by many as reflecting a dawning realisation by President Bush that he has too heavily relied on the "neocon hawks" with whom he chose to surround himself. Late though it is in the day, Mr. Bush now seems rather more ready to listen to Secretary of State Colin Powell and the State Department experts - at least over this greatest and most immediate threat of all.

Observers of al-Qaeda and Islam warned that, while Osama bin Laden and al-Qaeda have their own extremist ideology and maximalist strategic ends not shared by the bulk of their misled admirers, they derive most of their popular support from Arab and world wide Islamic resentment of, even hatred of, the United States, for its almost unquestioning support of Israel and its lack of sympathy for legitimate Palestinian aspirations.

This has been and remains the primary fuel for al-Qaeda recruitment and the acceptance by many young Muslims of the need for terrorism not only in Israel/Palestine, but world-wide. Indeed American acquiescence in destruction within the Palestinian Authority's area (not only of lives and property but of hope) - shown daily on TV - has lost America friends, even in Europe.

Well before "9.11" there was much expert agreement that America must take the lead in immediately nipping the "Second Intifada" in the bud. The more death and destruction on both sides in the escalating vicious circle of revenge and counter revenge, the more difficult it would be to negotiate any settlement. Hatred lasts a lifetime - and maybe much longer. Given the unsatisfactory nature of both Mr. Sharon and President Arafat as leaders for peace, several of those who knew the problem began to conclude (particularly after the failure of President Clinton's 2000 peace initiative), that a solution, broadly on the lines all but accepted, would have somehow to be foisted on the two parties by the "quartet" (the US, the UN, Europe, & Russia).

After "9.11" it became imperative to cure the Israel/Palestine purulent running sore which assisted al-Qaeda by infecting not just the Middle East and Western relations with the Islamic world, but - given the oil dimension - the entire international body politic. Many pointed out that a "unilateral" attack on Iraq, without some prior convincing demonstration of serious US intent to deal impartially with Israel/Palestine, would result in a linking of Palestine with Iraq and al-Qaeda. They warned that the Palestine problem would become intimately connected with the war on international terrorism - as has indeed happened.

Prewar there was hope that even a credible threat by the "quartet", backed by a large section of the international community, to impose a Palestinian solution might be sufficient without the actual use of force (intervention being limited to deployment of UN peacekeepers). Many Israelis, Palestinians, and American Jews began to see some such option as the only way to peace. But such a solution would be impossible to achieve without the determined leadership of an American President. And, politically, only a President at the beginning of his term, or towards the end of his eight years, could afford to stand back from pro Israeli hard-liners and take such a controversial lead.

But President Bush started his presidency as a "minimalist" internationally and from the outset publicly turned his back on the Israel/Palestine problem. Even when converted to intervention by "9.11" and gearing up for war with Iraq, his Administration continued to give it minimum attention. After the war, facing near chaos in Iraq, Mr. Bush launched an attempt to save the "Road Map". But, as almost all observers predicted, coming after, not before, his attack on Iraq, the President's initiative soon became moribund. As of now it seems that Mr. Bush has all but thrown away his own and America's prestige when this was most needed.

The Iraq war was indeed waged against the backdrop of ever worse carnage in Israel/Palestine - provoking ever greater Muslim disgust as the US continued to support more or less whatever Prime Minister Sharon's Israel did: Mr. Bush harshly condemning Palestinian terrorism with only mild reprimands to Israel and its "state terrorism".

President Bush's initial mistake of lumping all terrorism together with al-Qaeda international terrorism, has backfired. Palestinian terrorists are increasingly returning to the old aim of destroying Israel, instead of limiting themselves to the fight for a Palestinian state. To al-Qaeda's satisfaction, this is costing the Palestinians much of the support they had won in Europe and Russia.

Just as the lumping together of three quite different states in the "Axis of Evil" exacerbated relations with all of them at once - although diplomacy strives to separate potential enemies and deal with one at a time - so Mr. Bush's declaration of war against all terrorism has meant taking on, as well as al-Qaeda, all national terrorist groups (several of whom are widely perceived as "freedom fighters") and thereby pushing many of them into the arms of al-Qaeda. Every terrorist situation reflects or is fuelled by real or perceived injustice: each must be dealt with separately.

When is a rebellion terrorism, and when does it become a civil war? When is an uprising a rebellion, and when is it an attempt to escape subjugation and tyranny? There is much hypocrisy which is clouding the issues. States have armies and police; those they oppress have only guerrilla or terror as a weapon (unless Gandhi-like civil disobedience is an option). The United States was born from guerrilla war. Israel was born from terrorism. The US famously backed Osama bin Laden along with other Islamic terrorists against the Soviet occupiers of Afghanistan.

As over the years so many have so frequently pointed out, to the civilian victim there is little difference between being blown up by a terrorist and being blown up in an air attack - or being run over by an Israeli tank. In World War II there was much hope of wrecking enemy morale by bombing civilians. We who were there saw mass civilian casualties in Vietnam: and more American atrocities like My Lay are even now being resurrected. Even with "smart" weapons, the US appears to have killed substantially more "innocent civilians" in Iraq and Afghanistan than al-Qaeda killed on "9.11": it does not keep statistics of civilian deaths.

The truth, of course, is that all through history almost all states and almost all the oppressed who rise up in arms have used just about any means, however horrible, to gain their ends. War and terrorism are equally appalling: surely neither should ever be resorted to except in extremis. This of course is why, as mentioned at the beginning of this note, it is so vital for mankind to advance, however circumspectly, on the multilateral, not the unilateral, path espoused by the Bush Administration.

Hypocrisy prevents us from recognising the "beam" in our own eye - so making us incapable of understanding our enemies: the first requirement when making war or negotiating peace. (There is no space here to consider that one big question for the developed world: "why do they hate us so much?").

By the spring of 2002 there were many warnings that the security situation was deteriorating and that there was evidence of returning Taliban and its al-Qaeda's terrorist cadres. The US had won what was very generally regarded as a justified war. But the coalition so successfully formed to deal with Afghanistan was losing the peace - there were complaints that the US was again abandoning Afghanistan as it had done after the defeat of the Soviet Union. Much more money was needed to achieve wider security and for reconstruction and winning popular support through raising the living standards of ordinary Afghans. But for other countries to contribute more troops, expertise, and treasure, the United State had to take the lead.

All with knowledge of Afghanistan agreed that enduring coalition success there was essential for world-wide success against al-Qaeda. And that it would be folly to invade Iraq and so take on the far greater challenge - even in the best possible scenario - of occupying Iraq. Afghanistan required of the order of $10bn and by mid 2003 it had not even got $1bn, while the occupation of Iraq is now costing some 4bn a month - exclusive of reconstruction.

Prewar estimates of the cost of an Iraq war, plus the costs of occupation and reconstruction, exceeded $100bn and there were warnings that even this was likely to be a serious under-estimate. The Bush Administration is currently seeking some $87bn. Recently, only some $1.2bn was considered sufficient for Afghanistan. Clearly not enough to cause Afghans to back the Kabul government as the bringer of gifts and a better life.

The pre-Iraq war warnings have proved justified. The Iraq war has - to Taliban and al-Qaeda advantage - indeed distracted attention from priority Afghanistan, and diverted money and security resources to Iraq. This has put in jeopardy Afghanistan's future as a stable and reliable member of the international community. The countries forming the coalition concerning Afghanistan could - given the will - have made the crucial difference. But the countries the US is now wooing to find $36bn for Iraq could hardly make all the difference financially when it comes to funding Iraq. And the pledges for Iraq are swallowing potential funds for Afghanistan. The worse the security situation in Iraq, the worse the outlook for Afghanistan.

The Iraq crisis produced two major surprises which very few foresaw:

First: Saddam's readiness to accept war with America rather than reveal his limited, (or even perhaps non-existent WMD). This remains a mystery. Some suggest that Saddam deliberately sacrificed his country to enable him to stage a come-back after a forced withdrawal of a US which found the costs of occupation in life and treasure too high. This is not impossible - he seems to have arranged a remarkably secure hide-out for himself and he released his most dangerous criminals before the war started. Others suggest Saddam accepted war believing he could not long survive were the world and his own people to learn that he had little or none of the WMD which he brandished to inspire fear in the Iraqi people and in his neighbours and the world at large. Still others suggest that(like Mr. Bush who famously declared he relies on his staff for objective news) Saddam was surrounded by sycophants, so did not know the truth about his predicament.

Second: Mr. Blair's insistence on being rushed into war by President Bush. And this after what most observers believe was his and Mr. Powell's (and the French Foreign Minister M. de Villepin's) extraordinary and unexpected victory in securing the passage of Security Council Resolution 1441 of 8 November 2002 which returned the United Nations inspectors to Iraq. As stated above, almost all observers and most governments believed that the return of the inspectors effectively "put Saddam back in his box" - so providing several months respite after which it would be possible to reassess the Iraq threat.

Unlike Mr. Bush, a foreign affairs debutant, who reportedly prefers to rely almost entirely on advice from his coterie of "super hawk" advisers, Mr. Blair is exceptionally intelligent, able, and very well informed. He must surely have known of most at least of the warnings that so many distinguished experts - as well as serving government officials - urged upon him and his government. His decision to go into an unapproved war with Mr. Bush was described as "reckless" by a member of his cabinet, Clare Short, who eventually resigned. As it is, much of the British Army is stuck in Iraq pending America's pleasure - running up a bill of some £5m a day - nearly £2bn a year. Britain, like the US is over-stretched, financially as well as militarily, with no exit in sight.

We were among the many who believed that after the Resolution 1441 diplomatic victory for which he had fought so hard, Mr. Blair would side with those many governments and experts who urged forcefully
that the inspectors should be given reasonable time to complete their work, and that he would inform Mr. Bush that the UK could not join in an unapproved attack until this had happened.
Had he done so, Mr. Blair's own prestige in the world as well as in the UK, and the UK's standing among nations, must have been immensely enhanced. And, very possibly, Mr. Bush would indeed have delayed his attack - especially when polls were suggesting that a majority of Americans were against a war without Britain.

No one can foresee what such a delay would have brought. But it is quite possible that under such greatly increased pressure from all sides, further evolution would have begun in Iraqi politics and society. At any rate it is probable that war could have been delayed until after some progress both on North Korea, and Israel/Palestine, and that any attack deemed necessary would have had United Nations authorization. History teaches that evolution is always better than revolution - and patience almost always to be preferred over precipitate action.

Mr. Blair's explanation for going along with the so obviously over-impatient US President, was that the American alliance had to come before all else. As he is reported to have put it to his one time Foreign Secretary, Robin Cook, the only member of his cabinet who resigned before the war: "We must steer close to America. If we don't we shall lose our influence to shape what they do". Yet this was surely the prime occasion on which to attempt to stop the US from taking action so obviously potentially disastrous not only for itself, but for the UK - and indeed, the world. As several remarked at the time - the duty of a true ally is to tell you when you are wrong. Which is what America told Britain (France and Israel too) over the 1967 Suez campaign, obliging a retreat.

This is all the more extraordinary in that Britain has no national interest in Iraq not shared by most other major nations. President Bush, though, did and does have a strategic vision for the United States in the Arab world - however mistaken it may be. According to this, America needs to be in Iraq, geographical centre of Middle East, not only to get Iraq again producing oil and so reducing United States oil dependence on Saudi Arabia - put in question by "9.11", but also to forward Mr. Bush's highly controversial plan to use a new "democratic" Iraq that the US is to create, to act as a beacon for other Arab countries in a general move towards democracy instead of declining still further into a kind of Islamic decadence where al-Qaeda increasingly appeals to the young. His critics have pointed out that there were other ways of far less expensively and far more acceptably approaching this aim without risking the ever unpredictable violence of war.

Mr Blair, following Mr. Bush who all along claimed that the odious nature of Saddam's regime in itself justified war, also now claims that the Iraq war was justified because it ended Saddam's bloody reign.
Mr. Powell remarked after the war "I think a case could be made that human rights abuses were sufficient grounds for war even if no banned weapons are found." But why, it is asked, Iraq? There are several regimes as cruel as Saddam's - North Korea's certainly. And, as is often remarked, such "police action" must have broad international approval, or it is "vigilante": a dangerous precedent that other countries can cite.

That this fall back justification for war was never at the forefront in American and British thinking, is strongly suggested by the fact that there was no plan after victory quickly to obtain evidence of these abuses with the assistance of international experts. Mass graves were left unprotected to be searched by relatives for missing persons; witness and written evidence was not systematically recorded. Claims that Saddam killed some 300,000 of his own people may never now be substantiated or corrected. This negligence is extraordinary, even if no claim had been made that these abuses alone justified the war. We saw how a whole movement arose denying or minimising Hitler's genocide of Jews - now we risk seeing future whitewashing of Saddam's tyranny.

Meanwhile a great many of the most pacific and compassionate people in Britain and America, many of whom opposed the war (as in the unprecedented million man anti-war march through London) appear for the moment to have accepted this fall back justification.

As some observers warned before the war, the mere removal of Saddam would not justify the war
because in fact it would hold up, not advance the gradual international move towards accepting that some regimes are so repellent, so cruel and oblivious of Human Rights, and so prejudicial to regional or world harmony that they should be overthrown by widely approved international action.

This is a relatively new concept, because the basis for peace has for long been dependent on sovereign states respecting each other's sovereign inviolability no matter what they do within their own borders. Obviously any change in this doctrine, so much needed in our new interdependent world, cannot be applied to the big states - no matter how odious events like Stalin's vast purges, or Mao's murderous "Cultural Revolution". But it is slowly being applied to smaller states whether by multilateral diplomatic and other pressure, or by a group of interested nations using force - as NATO did against Milosevic's rump Yugoslavia in order to rescue Kosovans and finally to put an end to Serbia's aggression. The widely approved British intervention in the chaotic conditions in Sierra Leone is another example.
For for this new doctrine to take firmer root it is essential that no one country act without such prior wide approval and preferably not without a Security Council resolution.

In fact the overthrow of Saddam has set back this much needed evolution. It has so overstretched the United States both militarily and financially that it is unlikely that it or other states will any time soon be keen to join in even much needed military stabilisation actions. This summer's US military intervention in Liberia, whose principal protector has always been the US - although all but unanimously called for not least by the Sierra Leonians themselves - was reluctant, tardy, and minimal.

But the Bush Administration is, to its credit, at last showing some welcome interest in developing international cooperation in dealing with this challenging problem of tyrannies, genocides, and civil wars - short of military action. Notably Mr. Powell is playing a major role in trying to end the civil wars in the Sudan and Sri Lanka.

The danger is that, by falling back on the removal of what one UK minister described as a "bloody, brutal and murderous tyranny" as an excuse to justify war, Mr. Bush, despite his "neocon" hawkishness, will be supported politically by well-meaning doves in America. And that Mr. Blair too, will escape the criticism he deserves from the kindly anti-war masses in the UK.

Prewar, military observers warned that an occupation of Iraq would require far more troops than the slimmed down invasion forces required by the Rumsfeld doctrine. As mentioned above, this was echoed by the then US Army Chief of Staff - but his words went unheeded. As one expert warned "America's military strength risks being squandered on a non-urgent war."

The US Army thus risked finding itself overstretched in Iraq and America's Achilles heel exposed to enemies and friends alike. Paul Krugman in the New York Times pointed out last July "The myth of US overwhelming military might is being revealed in Iraq". Now a "leaked" memo from Mr. Rumsfeld reveals him as saying, "It is pretty clear that the Coalition can win in Afghanistan and Iraq, but it will be a long hard slog". The Administration can no longer hide the unpalatable fact that right now the security situation is steadily worsening in Iraq.

Although US spends $400bn a year on defence - more than all other major military powers combined - so much is spent on technological weapons and their development and the personnel needed to organise and control this, that there is a shortage of "boots on the ground". Of the US 33 combat brigades, 1/3 are in the gulf area. (Only some 7% of forces in Iraq are not American). Replacing them with fresh forces on normal tours of duty clashes with obligations in Afghanistan, Europe, South Korea and elsewhere - let alone allowing for the unforeseeable.

The deficit of "boots" and the prolongation of their tours of duty, have led to falling morale in the army in Iraq, morale already set-back by finding the much heralded welcome from the Iraqis short lived, and that front line troops are required to fight a guerrilla war and carry out police duties for which they are not trained. They know that, contrary to what their leaders say, the Iraq adventure has set back, not advanced, the war on terror - and that in fact Iraq was not the immediate threat to the US that they had been told was the reason for asking their considerable sacrifices. Not a few resent their Supreme Commander for his rush to war which put them in full battle dress into an Iraqi summer with temperatures often even exceeding 40 C. Yet morale is what counts among the men who actually have to fight.

The Administration is extremely anxious to avoid having to make good the deficit of "boots" by reinstating conscription - but so far it has found no country, apart from the UK - to deliver much more than token forces. And the Iraq experience, with its effect on morale, makes it harder to recruit a volunteer army.

US military power - excluding nuclear weapons - is based on swift intervention using high technology followed by speedy disengagement, leaving it other services to follow through their victories. But those other services, civil and military including linguists, trained to perform policing and in field intelligence duties are grossly inadequate. Any early success in Iraq therefore depended on massive aid from the UN and allies with Middle East and Arabic capabilities. But Mr. Bush had alienated the big powers who
doubted the need for a precipitate war in March, and he had charged the UN with irrelevance if it did not authorise an attack on his timetable.

Even Britain has become sufficiently concerned about America's military wisdom and its overstretched position, coupled with its diminishing interest in Europe, to make a move towards a separate European military capability. As its laboured response to the Bosnian and Kosovo crises showed, NATO is hardly reliable except in the case of major war - because not only the US but every other member can veto. And if some intervention is needed as in Macedonia, how can an America help which is overstretched militarily? The trumpeted capability to fight two wars simultaneously has been revealed as a hollow boast.

Financial warnings:
Just as United States' military vulnerability has been shown up in Iraq, so has the hole in Uncle Sam's supposedly bottomless pockets. There was plenty of warning: in the latter half of 2002 both financial and military experts repeatedly questioned as clearly unrealistic official estimates ranging from some $60bn to at worst some 100bn as the cost of the war and occupation - the reconstruction of Iraq was supposedly to be paid from oil revenues. Many questioned the outlook for future US budgets after Mr. Bush pushed through his sizeable tax cuts mainly for the more affluent. With substantial deficits predicted, how could the US also afford an expensive war? By July 2003, the actual cost of the military occupation was reported to be running at some $4bn a month.

At the same time independent oil experts warned that, even without allowing for sabotage either by Saddam or during an occupation, Iraqi petroleum infrastructure was so run down that it would take years, not months, to achieve an export capacity sufficient to begin significantly defraying the costs of reconstruction.

Oil exports have been bedevilled not only by years of neglect, but by terrorist attacks on pipelines. It is likely to be at least two years before Iraqi oil sales provide significant funding for reconstruction.
Congress - after much questioning and some balking - is expected to approve an extra $87bn for Iraq.
But it is now estimated that the total cost of reconstruction will be of the order of $200bn over 10 years - hopefully much of this will be met from oil exports as this period progresses.

Further, Security Council Resolution 1483 recognising the occupation, entails the occupying powers bearing responsibility for Iraq's estimated $359bn of debt.

The Congressional Budget Office puts the US budget deficit at $480bn with a projected deficit of $401bn for 2004. Instead of an expected budget surplus to 2013 of $891bn, a deficit of $1.4trn is estimated (and this only if President Bush's famous tax cuts prove to be temporary - otherwise a $3trn deficit can be expected over the ten years to 2013).

Yet not only California, but many other State budgets are currently in deficit and needing Federal support. And there is urgent need for renewal of the US own infrastructure. Bob Herbert in the New York Times in September is far from alone in complaining that "money should have been spent on US infrastructure instead of on this ill-advised war". Also squandered by Mr. Bush was the healthy budget position that he was bequeathed.

As mentioned above, the US has just sought, with only modest success, $36bn from the international community for the reconstruction of Iraq after pledging $20bn itself. Given the well-founded objections of many states to President's Bush's insistence to rush to war, it seems the US can expect little more than token payments similar to the token provision of troops by states anxious to show their pro-American orientation in their particular circumstances.

The immense US budget and balance of trade deficits, at present supported by massive inflows of funds from China and many other countries could, if confidence were lost, lead many to seek a haven in Euros. Some oil producers could sell oil for Euros. Such moves could destabilise the existing financial order with grave consequences - not only for the US.

The myth of America's endless wealth is being debunked for al-Qaeda and the rest of the world tosee.

a) Lack of planning:
Towards the end of 2002 experts were pointing out that while there was much publicised detailed planning for a quick and successful war in Iraq, there appeared to be a dangerous lack of any detailed
planning for the aftermath of victory. Yet a swift well-planned takeover from the defeated Ba'ath regime, and a well thought out plan for the transfer of power to an Iraqi government, was essential for a short and acceptable occupation.

Vital questions were: what provisional Iraqi authority in such a divided nation would be broadly acceptable to most Iraqis? What kind of constitution would be best for so divided a society as Iraq's? Who would write it? How then to organise elections? And even more immediately, what to do about the Iraqi army, police, civil service, and intelligence services? Simply disbanding them would court disaster - armed men and leading cadres would be unemployed and so fodder for extremism. But how were these institutions to be "de-Ba'athified" - perhaps on the lines of de-Nazification in Germany? How many linguists, Arabists, and other experts could be mobilised? The answers would determine how best to maintain security and public services.

The consensus was that a smooth takeover and successful reconstruction of Iraq would be far easier were any war to be approved by the Security Council and the UN and a large number of interested countries - including Iraq's Arab neighbours - willing to provide expertise. If America went it alone a great many Iraqi's would conclude that they were not there just to overthrow Saddam and "liberate them", but to take possession of Iraq's vast oil reserves to the advantage of US big business. A view that could only be heightened by the Bush Administration's far from transparent method of awarding main contracts for Iraq's reconstruction to such firms as Halliburton and Bechtel with close relations with the White House.
Had the war been a United Nations operation with the US responsible for the military, but with civilian security and reconstruction in UN hands, Iraqi perceptions could have been very different. (Even though the UN is not loved by many Iraqis because regarded - largely mistakenly - as responsible for the suffering and deprivation of many thanks to the sanctions imposed after the first Gulf War).

This stress on the need for extensive and detailed planning for a takeover was ignored - a Pentagon official, reflecting top thinking, claimed that few plans could be made until after victory, when it would be possible to see the situation on the ground.

The chaotic situation after the fall of Baghdad, and the failure quickly to restore security and move to repair public services, notably water and electricity, was made much worse a) not only by failing to make adequate plans and provide the resources to carry them out without delay, but also b) because, as the war was not approved, the technical, linguistic, and other expertise that the UN and other states could provide was not available.

The Iraqi army, faced with defeat, largely melted away with its light weapons. Disbanded soldiers became unemployed. An ideal background for recruitment for terrorism. Although the US made a major effort to find WMD (though rejecting the UN Inspectors' expertise) in order to "justify" the war, surprising little was done to find all Iraq's stocks of conventional weapons. These are now being used to attack not only the US forces, but much else.

In May 2003 the US Administrator in Iraq, Mr. Paul Bremer, formally disbanded the Iraqi army, only to admit later that this had been a mistake. As Mr. Mowffaq Al-Rubaie of the Iraq Governing Council put it: "Unemployment is nurturing terrorism".

In sum, there is no need to relate the disaster that ensued, which has led to such a degree of insecurity and terrorist acts as gravely to prejudice a return to normal life and a swift move towards reconstruction. Although, trying to conceal its embarrassment, the Bush Administration has done a welcome U turn returning to the UN and seeking international assistance, insecurity on the ground is so bad that the UN, voluntary agencies, and businesses attempting to organise reconstruction have been attacked and have had greatly to reduce their people on the ground for fear of attack.

The Ba'athists and al-Qaeda supporters - whether coordinating their efforts or acting separately (and there appears to be lamentably little intelligence about this) - are currently proving increasingly effective in attacking any organisation trying to help Iraq. Their aim is chaos.

b) Lack of exit strategy, the spectre of Vietnam:
This failure to plan for occupation and reconstruction meant also an inability to estimate the time it would take to handover to an Iraqi Government and so to end the occupation. When, prewar, the media raised the possibility of a "Vietnam" situation and the French warned that terrorists do not need jungles but can operate in densely populated areas surrounded by desert as in Algeria, the Bush Administration played down these fears.

But with the difficulties of arranging a political handover in a secure environment, and with the likelihood of reconstruction being delayed by insecurity and running into half a decade or more, the problem of exiting Iraq leaving a friendly stable government behind is now worrying both the Pentagon and the State Department - and surely also Mr. Karl Rove and his assistants planning the President's re-election campaign in 2004.

Those organising the indiscriminate violence in Iraq are counting on causing enough American casualties to bring about about an American retreat, as in Vietnam, the Lebanon, and Somalia - and to deter involvement by any other body such as the UN: a victory for al-Qaeda. The stakes are very high. America must stay the course and pay the price of the Bush Administration's rush to war.

All of us with intelligence experience know how vital it is to confirm information from electronic and aerial surveillance with "humint" - information from observers or spies on the ground. But equally all of us know from the experience of the Cold War how difficult it is to run spies with good access in ruthless totalitarian countries. As regards Iraq a great gap emerged when the international community failed to react to Saddam Hussein's expulsion of the UN inspectors. The British and American intelligence and security services, the electronic intercept services, and allied and foreign intelligence organisations well knew that by 2002 intelligence on Iraq was outdated or meagre and that much of it might be incorrect.
In September 2002 Prime Minister Blair remarked: "We haven't the faintest idea what has been going on for the last four years", adding that all that was known was that there was an attempt to rebuild weapons programmes.

Subsequent releases by the British and American governments - notably including the British so called "dodgy dossier" in early February 2003 were recognised by intelligence experts to be "scraping the barrel" in an attempt to show that Iraq possessed WMD which presented an immediate threat to world peace. Indeed the Inspectors were able to show that some items provided by US intelligence were not correct. Even Mr. Powell's speech to the Security Council was regarded as surprisingly unconvincing.
The result so far of the Kelly enquiry in the UK has served to heighten the suspicion that meagre intelligence was "spun" by 10 Downing Street in an attempt to bolster the case for war. It appears that intelligence chiefs were told that not North Korea nor Iran, but Iraq presented the biggest threat. It was evidently not easy for intelligence professionals to set out their true assessments based on the little available.

In the United States, after viewing the secret intelligence available, the House of Representatives Intelligence Committee decried the prewar intelligence on Iraq as "circumstantial, fragmentary, and outdated" adding that the Committee had seen nothing to suggest that there were significant items too delicate to be released to the Inspectors and the Security Council - as the Administration had suggested there were in the weeks leading up to war.

This "humint" failure has continued in post-war Iraq. Although the US officially suggests that the terrorists (or guerrillas) it faces are increasingly well organised and centrally directed, it has also admitted that local intelligence remains sparse. This reflects the cultural and linguistic barriers that the US faces. Again, these problems would have been far easier to overcome had the war had international approval. There would have been Iraqis, Arabists, and Arabic experts available from many sources.

It is hardly necessary to mention the very many prewar warnings about the damage which must inevitably be done to America's international interests, that were made in the months before the US and the UK went to war on 20 March 2003, by politicians, pundits, and the media. Even the American and British governments largely accepted that an attack on Iraq, not approved by the Security Council, risked causing serious and even possibly irreparable damage to the United Nations, NATO, the EU, and to American relations with many countries, including Germany and the three other permanent members of the Security Council.

The Bush Administration then exacerbated this situation by condemning the countries that opposed the Iraq adventure. The President himself declared that the UN risked becoming irrelevant if it did not approve his intended attack on Iraq. As the war began the Bush Administration even talked of punishing the countries, like France and Germany, that had dared oppose the US.

Yet it was these countries, as it turned out, that proved to have been in the right not only juridically but in correctly foreseeing what would result from the folly of a rush to war. (That they also had less worthy ulterior motives is of course true, but so did the United States. Only Britain had no real national interest in Iraq).

Much is now being made by both the US and these countries that the disagreement over going to war is behind them and that their relations with the US are fully repaired. But neither the governments nor their peoples have forgotten how they were blamed for being right - and that the Bush Administration' so hyped up antipathy that, in the case of France, some Americans absurdly began calling French fries "freedom fries"! It is safe to say that virtually no country has failed to draw far reaching conclusions about what confidence can be placed in the wisdom of the present United States' leadership. Indeed, it is reassuring that in many (especially the developed) countries, it is Mr. Bush and his Administration that are so disliked and mistrusted - not America itself nor its people.

Then there is the combined effect of present American policy over Iraq and Israel/Palestine in the Muslim world: while this has not proved as immediately disastrous as some pundits feared - for there was a fear uncontrollable riots in Egypt - the gulf between Muslims in general and the West has been much widened. Antipathy to America is now a major problem - just one example in mid 2002 polls suggested that 61% of Indonesians had a favourable view of the US. This is reported to have fallen to 15%. It now much harder for moderate Muslims to take a pro-Western, let alone a pro-American, stand as many used to except over Israel: a big plus for al-Qaeda without any new action against the US. It has simply taken advantage of US mistakes. The "9.11" attacks are continuing to work just fine as a detonator to shift the world al-Qaeda's way.

Last but far from least, for humanity faces possible extinction if nothing is done with a sense of urgency, were the complaints from a number of environmentalists that a war in Iraq would inevitably distract the world's attention from the gravity of the environmental crisis. For governments - faced with one all consuming challenge - can hardly deal with any other very large problem, no matter how urgent.

Because of Mr. Bush's refusal to take a lead, or indeed any serious part in resolving these environmental challenges, the other countries most concerned had the extraordinarily difficult task of attempting to go ahead with the ratification of the Kyoto Protocol without the US. Although woefully inadequate, Kyoto's application would be a first small step towards going ahead with international environmental protection until a new American Administration is persuaded to, or is shamed into, leading the way - as biggest polluter as well as only superpower - to supersede Kyoto and its defects, and to take a lead towards some far more effective environmental protection.

In April 2003 we were among those who predicted that the Bush Administration would quite soon be forced, by its inability to handle alone the situation in Iraq, to return to a greater degree of multilateralism.

President Bush has in fact shown considerable ability to adapt to meet crises. Starting off as a determined "minimalist" in international matters, after "9.11" he refrained from launching action against Afghanistan until he had wisely gathered wide international support.

He then became a "maximalist" internationally - but a unilateral "maximalist" with plans for America to go it alone if need be - notably over Iraq and Israel/Palestine.

Realising that Iraq's stabilisation and reconstruction were proving too much even for the United States, Mr. Bush is now returning to at least a degree of multilateralism.

But getting the US out of Iraq leaving behind a satisfactory government requires delicate and sensitive diplomacy with many countries. It is good news that neocom ideologues like Vice President Cheney and Secretary of Defence Rumsfeld at the moment appear to have lost some influence to the more pragmatic Secretary of State, Mr. Powell, and National Security Adviser, Miss Rice. But they too, are compromised by their positions in the past. So can the Bush Administration so shift its basic outlook as to recover the confidence of Iraqis and the outside world which is essential for an acceptable outcome?

That appears unlikely even should Mr. Bush prove right in believing that the present increasingly damaging attacks are the last throes of the moribund Ba'ath regime. Some members of the Governing Council and some religious - including Christian - leaders believe, to the contrary, that the violence is primarily due to foreign al-Qaeda supporters who have teamed up with Saddam's dispossessed Sunnis.
Many, if not most, Western observers on the ground assess that M. de Villepin and former Secretary of State Mrs. Albright are correct in believing that i) only the Iraqi army, police, and intelligence - stood down by the US after its victory - can deal with the insecurity (criminal as well as terrorist) which is making all but impossible the reconstruction of the country, and ii) that for better morale and a new
start, some form of hand over of sovereignty must be quickly arranged.

For psychologically it is essential that the Iraqis perceive the attacks as on them and their future and not primarily against the occupation. Public opinion would then rally firmly behind "their" forces of order. If, as it seems, this is correct, then can the Bush Administration - even if it completes its U turn - encourage the Iraqis to make the great effort and sacrifices required?

Of course, much depends on the terrorists: if they "overkill" Iraqis and wreck all hope of economic recovery, the population could unite against them, and with good Iraqi leadership, they would find themselves deprived of the ambivalent environment in which they are now "swimming". With the resulting improvement in Iraqi intelligence, the tide could then turn against them.

i) whatever responsible governments privately think of Mr. Bush, they all appreciate that it is in their interest and in the interest of the world that Iraq should be stabilised.
ii) other countries are now taking the lead from Mr. Bush's struggling America. China and the other neighbouring powers are pressuring America as well as North Korea in the attempt to oblige the North Koreans to keep the Korean peninsular free of nuclear weapons. Britain, France, and Germany are doing the same in an attempt to block Iranian nuclear ambitions. There is even concerted pressure, without America, on Russia to ratify the Kyoto Protocol and to relaunch environmental programs while waiting for "Administration change" - and a change of heart - in the United States.

The indictment is long and convincing: there were warnings galore - many of them simple common sense. As one distinguished correspondent said of the experts' efforts, "We did our best, but no one would listen". President Bush's (and Prime Minister Blair's) insistence on rushing to war with Iraq was indeed a "world blunder."

In just a few months on Mr. Bush's watch, the United States' has lost much of:
i) the confidence, even of its closest allies, in the wisdom of its foreign policy;
ii) the fear and respect for its military might - and its ability to intervene anywhere in the world;
iii) its ability to finance its international policies;
iv) the former broad world-wide approval of governments and peoples - and much of the sympathy it had after "9.11".
Far more seriously it has:
v) played into the hands of its enemies, and compromised its campaign against international terrorism. What President Bush presented as a walkover is already evoking the nightmare of defeat.
President Bush's simplistic and emotional use of the word "evil" and his perception of people as "good guys" (of President Putin approvingly, "I was able to get a sense of his soul") or "bad guys" (of those held in limbo in Guantanamo untried, "these are bad men") has been particularly damaging to the US and its friends. It lumps nations and individuals on one side of the fence or the other. It is "crusade" talk - all too closely reflecting the "jihad" extremism whipped up by bin Laden. It ignores the fact that all states, and indeed all individuals, have done what moralists would call evil: it is just a question of degree. It hampers negotiation. It is not the language of reason and toleration which alone can enable civilisations, religions, and peoples to share this planet.

More than one respected politician has suggested to us privately (rightly or wrongly) that Mr. Bush and Mr. Blair share something of such a black and white vision of the world based on "reborn Christian" theology. Some accounts suggest that, since Mr. Bush "was saved" at least from alchoholism, he is indeed motivated by such beliefs when making political decisions.

This too, reflects something of al-Qaeda's identification of politics with religion. Yet the hope of the non-Islamic world must be that tens of millions of moderate Muslims, who do not like theocracy but prefer to keep politics, law, and religion separate in the state apparatus, will prevail over the extremists. This is a delicate and difficult subject because political and religious power were, from the beginning, united in Islam. But it must be remembered that over several centuries Orthodox and Roman Catholic Christianity - and later Protestantism - were closely bound up with the state and Christendom's politics, despite their founder's dictum, "My kingdom is not of this world". Sadly, President Bush appears to have extraordinarily little comprehension of this complexity although he is running a "war" against Islamic terrorism.

In sum - the passage of Security Council Resolution 1441 in November 2002 may, as time goes on, prove to have marked the zenith of American power. Historians may see the folly of the rush to war with Iraq as the beginning of the end of a century of American predominance, just as the botching of the 2nd Boer War (1899/1902) exposed the limits of British power, leading to the end of Britain's century of predominance. It is possible that there may now be no second American century. If not, it was not al-Qaeda that switched the points for world history - it was President Bush and the discredited ideologues on whom he relies.
So it has to be doubtful if Mr. Bush - no matter how genuine his nascent conversion to multi-lateralism may prove as election year 2004 approaches - can foster success in Iraq. His mismanagement of the international struggle against al-Qaeda dismays governments. The US Advisory Group on Public Diplomacy for the Arab and Muslim World finds that, "Hostility towards America has reached shocking levels." This soaring anti-Americanism is far more anti-Bush than anti-America. Mr. Bush is seen as a growing part of the problem, and a diminishing part of the solution. Is it not in the interest of the world that he should go, and be replaced with someone more capable of "clearing up the mess"? Even if the situation continues to worsen, the US seems unlikely to withdraw from Iraq before November 2004. But, even if the corner is turned, many fear that a second term for Mr. Bush could bring a real defeat not just for the US but for the rest of us.

Responsible governments and senior statesmen do not talk about such things. Perceived interference in elections in other countries is almost always counter-productive. But, from what one can gather unattributedly, the consensus is that Mr. Bush (and the ‘Project for a New American Century’ "neocon hawks" surrounding him, seeking an American run ‘unipolar world’ bought about through ‘Iraq’ putting the US in control of the Middle East) must go if there is to be a better chance of extricating the US from Iraq with a degree of success. That requires a fresh face and a fresh start.

America's allies, even those the Bush Administration has most disparaged, want to see the US recover from this widespread anti-Americanism, and again be an effective and wise leader in tackling the great problems of WMD and international terrorism; over-population, globalisation and gross mal-distribution of wealth; disease; and the environment. A new US president must lead the world to the era of international oooperation made possible by the end of the Cold War.

This means that it is most important that the world's experts who warned so accurately of the risks over Iraq, and the world's media, will prove able this time round to gain a hearing among the electorate of the United States.

What is so disturbing is the failure so far of the Democratic Party, even after winning a majority of votes in the 2000 election, to produce and rally behind a leader of at least the calibre of Mr. Al Gore - so much respected for his good sense and expertise in international affairs. Democracy can only survive if there is an effective opposition. And, as already noted, the Democratic Party (like the British Conservative Party) failed to be that in 2002.

Unless events go far worse for Mr. Bush - as we must fervently hope they will not - he will be the Republican candidate. So, whether we approve of some of their Party's policies or not, we whose welfare largely depends on the American presidency, must surely hope that the Democrats will - as they have in the past - rise to the challenge of producing a strong and enlightened president. A person in this hour of the world's need capable of restoring the fortunes of the United States before further damage is done. A person brave enough and competent enough to ensure that the essentials of Mr. Bush's "Mission Accomplished" - a stable, responsible Iraq - are truly accomplished with Iraqi and
international support. A person not in bondage to the vagaries of the opinion polls.

[8 November, 2003 ends

No comments: