White House losing patience with UN over Iraq
A protester demonstrating
against US moves towards war on Iraq is arrested by New York
City police officers outside the US Mission to the United Nations
on October 21, 2002, in New York.
Compiled by Eamon Martin
Oct. 23 (AGR) White House spokesman Ari Fleischer
said on Oct. 22 that US efforts to negotiate a new UN resolution
on Iraqi disarmament were nearing an end, and said Washingtons
patience was limited.
We will continue to work in the United Nations,
Fleischer told reporters on Air Force One as president George
W. Bush traveled to a political rally in Pennsylvania. Its
coming down to the end... The United Nations does not have forever,
He said the United States continued to favor a single resolution
mandating Iraqi compliance with disarmament and inspection terms.
Such a resolution would pave the way for a full invasion and
occupation of Iraq should Iraqi president Saddam Hussein fail
On Oct. 21, US Ambassador John Negroponte gave a new draft
resolution to envoys from the four permanent council nations
France, Russia, China, and Britain as US, German,
Kuwaiti, and Czech forces conducted a mock drill in nuclear,
biological, and chemical warfare in Kuwait, and while marines
trained in new mock cities on military bases on Guam and in
Also that day, US State Department spokesman Richard Boucher
said the US was making it clear that its time to
wrap this up and would like to see this finished. He signaled
that the US was unlikely to compromise any further to meet the
concerns of the other UN Security Council (UNSC) members.
The latest draft was immediately met with stiff disapproval
by two veto-wielding UNSC powers. France has pushed for a two-stage
process in which a force resolution would be considered only
if Iraq failed to comply. On Tuesday, Frances foreign
minister insisted that the French aim is the return of weapons
inspectors and the elimination of any alleged weapons of mass
destruction and not the overthrow of the Iraqi government.
Russias foreign minister said Wednesday the latest US
version does not meet Russian criteria, while warning the United
States against making unacceptable demands on Baghdad.
The French proposal has the majority of support on the Security
Bush, on arriving at the rally in Pennsylvania, indicated that
he is running out of patience with the UN.
The UN cant make its mind up. If Saddam wont
disarm, we will lead a coalition to disarm him for the sake
of peace, Bush said. [The United Nations] must resolve
itself to be something more than the League of Nations, must
resolve itself to be more than a debating society, must resolve
itself to keep international peace.
On Friday, the US State Department asserted once again that
Bush has the authority to attack Iraq even if the UN does not
give the United States the support it has been seeking and not
getting for five weeks.
In any case, the US already has a force of 60,000 within striking
range of Iraq, and would be in a position to launch a land war
as early as December. The past six weeks have seen intensive,
and largely undisclosed, movement of US service personnel and
material to the Gulf. The number of US troops in striking range
of Iraq has risen from fewer than 20,000 in August.
General Tommy Franks, the US commander of the war on
terror, and a possible military administrator of a post-Saddam
Iraq according to the most recently leaked Pentagon reports,
is already in Qatar with senior officers. Fuel trucks and river
crossing equipment both essential for any march on Baghdad
were loaded aboard ships in Charleston, SC, on Oct. 23.
Bush has authorized US combat training for Iraqi opponents
of Hussein, and the Pentagon has identified as many as 5,000
recruits for an initial training phase to begin next month.
Bush authorized the training in a National Security Presidential
Directive on Oct. 3 that also approved the expenditure of $92
million in Defense Department funds, officials said. Defense
and State Department officials intend to brief Congress next
week on plans to instruct the Iraqis in basic combat as well
as specialized skills to serve as battlefield advisers, scouts
and interpreters with US ground troops in an invasion force.
Others in a force eventually to number about 10,000 will be
trained as forward spotters for laser-guided bombs and as military
police to run prisoner of war camps inside Iraq. Military officials
declined to say where the instruction would take place, but
said it would not be in the Middle East region.
Last Thursday, Bush had signed the Congressional war resolution,
authorizing him, at his sole discretion, to decide when diplomacy
has failed and force should be used against Iraq. The day before,
the Senate gave final congressional approval to the biggest
increase of military spending in two decades, awarding the Pentagon
with $355.1 billion.
During the signing, Bush promised to help Iraqi citizens
find the blessings of liberty within their own culture and their
own traditions. But he made no specific mention of his
administrations plans to occupy Iraq for possibly years
before the country would be allowed to hold free elections.
Our goal is to fully and finally remove a real threat
to world peace and to America, Bush said in a reference
clarified by Fleischer to mean both Husseins alleged weapons
and the leader himself.
This past week, Iraqis, by official reckoning, had re-elected
Hussein as president with 100 percent of the 11.4 million votes
Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz said that the referendum
on Husseins leadership reflected the determination of
Iraqs 22 million people to stand up to the United
In every Iraqi house there are weapons, rifles and other
conventional weapons, and they are ready to fight from house
to house, from street to street, he said, and if
the Americans come to Iraq they will be faced with great resistance
and they will suffer great losses.
Visiting with troops, deputy commander of Marine Forces Europe
Maj. Gen. Arnold Fields confirmed this view, saying, Its
going to be an urban fight and probably very bloody, but we
are well prepared.
On Sunday, Hussein announced a complete, comprehensive,
and final amnesty for all prisoners, including those accused
of political crimes and crimes against the state. The amnesty
was intended to thank the Iraqi people for their unanimity
in last weeks referendum.
The amnesty included prisoners, detainees and fugitives...
including those under sentence of death, inside or outside Iraq.
The exception was for murderers, who would be released only
with the consent of the victims families.
Also this week, Iraq has taken steps to return Kuwaits
national archive, which was looted by Iraqi forces during the
1990-91 Iraqi occupation of Kuwait. The first box of documents
was handed over in the demilitarized border zone along the Iraqi-Kuwaiti
frontier under UN supervision on Sunday.
Aziz said the government has had no links with al-Qaida or
Osama bin Laden, denying a charge frequently made by the Bush
We have no connection with al-Qaida or Osama bin Laden,
Aziz said on Friday night.
Aziz implied that Bushs demand for a new round of weapons
inspections, under more stringent conditions, was a pretext
to prepare the path for the US to invade Iraq and topple Hussein.
He contended that the real US purpose was to take control of
Iraqs oil fields.
Oil prices fell to a one-month low as traders scaled back their
expectations of a US-led attack on Iraq amid signs the Security
Council might be nearing a compromise resolution. Energy analysts
fully expect prices to spike some say as high as $60
per barrel at the outset of an attack.
Sources: Agence France Presse, BBC News, CBS, Independent
(UK), Iraq Journal, Miami Herald, New York Times, Reuters, Stars
And Stripes, Washington Post
Corporate consolidation focus of Media Democracy
By Gabriel Packard
New York, New York, Oct. 18 (IPS) Shallow drive-by
journalism, suppression of news stories, a lack of diversity
business as usual for the media giants, say organizers
of Media Democracy Day (MDD).
The problem, according to the groups behind Fridays MDD,
a worldwide movement that started last year in Canada, is that
the current media system has been abducted by a group
of six to nine mega-media conglomerates.
AOL /Time-Warner, as an example, controls over 12 film
and television companies, multiplex cinemas in 12 countries,
29 cable/digital providers, 24 book brands, 35 magazine titles,
52 record labels, theme parks and stores in 30 countries, four
professional sports teams, AOL US, AOL International, and eight
other major Internet portals. At last count, says MDD
A very small group of very big companies controls almost all
of the American media, they point out, and continued mergers
mean the group gets smaller while the companies get bigger.
Already, quite a limited range of political opinions
and perspectives are given space and time in mainstream press
and media, says Rachel Coen of Fairness and Accuracy in
Reporting (FAIR), a US media watch group. It becomes more
limited the more mergers and consolidation occurs.
The US government body responsible for regulating the media
and preserving diversity is the Federal Communications Commission
(FCC). According to Coen, the FCC is utterly failing the
American public, but its doing a fairly good job protecting
So if the FCC isnt going to stop the corporate-media
juggernaut, who is?
This is where the MDD comes in. It includes events in over
20 cities in countries from Australia to Bangladesh.
In Rosario, Argentina, a poll to run from Oct. 18 til the end
of the month, will ask people, what news have you looked
for in the media but not found? A report will summarize
the results, and a newspaper will be published containing that
news and photographs.
In Barcelona, Spain, supporters will go on an Undemocratic
Media Bicycle Tour. Organizers say they will visit offices
of newspapers, radio and TV stations and press agencies, stop
in front of them, make some noise, and attempt to stop their
work and reclaim attention.
They will be accompanied by Projectorcycle and
Screencycle, which will show incriminating
video evidence of media bias.
In Albuquerque, New Mexico, more than 350 media educators and
activists will meet for the founding summit of the Action Coalition
for Media Education (ACME).
Were going to kick off with a toast to Media Democracy
Day, says Eliza Dichter, who helped plan the ACME summit,
and is also co-founder and senior editor of Media Channel, a
media interest network. Whats really exciting,
says Dichter speaking about ACME, is that this is the
first time that media educators, media reformers and policy
activists can all get together (to) work in harmony and learn
from each other.
ACME plans to harness this cooperation into three main fronts
of action: educating, advocating independent media, and supporting
media reform. All of these will be pursued at many levels, from
the school board to Congress.
Education is a crucial part of social change, Dichter
says. And media education is crucial to the purpose of ACME.
In an age when most people get most of their information
visually through television, film, computers, video,
etc. citizens need to know how to think critically about
what they see and hear, she says.
The coalition will also provide a forum for teachers, health
officials and community leaders, who will then spread the information
nationwide, she adds.
A fundamental part of it, says Dichter, is
teaching individuals how to use communications technology to
create independent media. This will include instructing
people on how to use video, the internet, public access TV and
By independent media, we mean anything that
is outside of corporate mass-media.
In an age of second-hand experience, says David
Skinner, organizer of some of Vancouvers MDD events, when
most of what we know, or think we know, about the world is taken
from the media. We all have an interest in how the media are
financed and controlled, and what values and interests they
More information can be obtained at the MDD website: www.mediademocracyday.org.
Cell phones covered in blood:
Western consumer demand fuels
resource wars in poor nations
By Jim Lobe
Oct. 18 Consumer demand in Western industrialized
countries for sophisticated electronic equipment and luxury
goods earned at least $12 billion last year for rebel groups,
rapacious governments, and warlords in resource-rich developing
nations around the world, according to a new report released
by the Worldwatch Institute in Washington, DC Thursday.
The 91-page report, The Anatomy of Resource Wars,
found that local conflicts over control of diamonds, tropical
hardwoods, and other minerals like coltan, which is used in
the production of cell phones and other electronic equipment,
have killed or uprooted more than 20 million people, most of
them in Africa, over the past decade.
From Colombia to Angola to Afghanistan, people are dying
every day because consumer societies import and use materials
irrespective of where they originate, according to the
author, Michael Renner.
If you purchase a cell phone, you may very well be paying
to keep the war going in the Democratic Republic of the Congo
(DRC), where rival armies fight for control over deposits of
coltan, a commodity that just over a decade ago had little commercial
value, but is now vital for the one billion plus cell phones
in use today.
But the biggest resource looter over the past decade, according
to the report, was the UNITA rebel group in Angola, which finally
collapsed after its founder and long-time leader, Jonas Savimbi,
was killed in combat earlier this year. Between 1992 and 2001,
according to the report, the insurgency sold an estimated $4-4.2
billion in diamonds mined by its forces in the northeastern
part of the country.
Diamonds were also a leading source of money and arms for rebels
in Sierra Leone, who gained international notoriety during the
latter part of the 1990s by hacking off the limbs of unarmed
civilians to terrorize surrounding populations.
Such groups have benefited from economic globalization, according
to Renner. The enormous expansion in global trade, coupled
with lax or corrupt customs officials, has made access to key
markets relatively easy for warring groups, he said.
Companies and rich nations that benefit from cheap raw
materials have long turned a blind eye to the destruction at
their source, and most consumers dont know that a number
of common purchases bear the invisible imprint of violence,
Although rebel and government armies battle for control of
the resources, most of the violence in such conflicts are directed
In addition to the violence used to maintain control of local
populations, fighting groups often forcibly recruit boys into
their ranks and girls as sex slaves for older commanders. The
same armies also draft civilians, including children, to extract
resources without compensation.
Resource wars also tend to take place in or near areas that
are of significant environmental value, according to the report,
which cited conflicts over mineral and timber resources in ecologically
highly sensitive forests in the DRC, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea,
and Colombia as major examples. In many cases, indigenous populations
are also threatened.
While diamonds fed conflicts in Angola and Sierra Leone, control
over timber has played a major role in conflicts in Liberia,
Cambodia, Indonesia, and Myanmar (formerly Burma), while drugs
have fueled wars in Afghanistan and Colombia. Ownership disputes
over oil fields and pipelines have also contributed to conflicts
in Colombia and Sudan, according to the report.
Recent media attention about resource-driven conflicts has
spurred growing calls for global rules to ban goods acquired
in this way from being traded on global markets. Among the most
important efforts is a certification system that would track
individual diamonds from their source through international
commercial channels in order to assure the eventual buyer that
they are not purchasing blood diamonds.
In addition to endorsing a strong certification system, Worldwatch
is calling for the adoption of corporate codes of conduct in
resource extraction industries; support for activist campaigns
that name and shame companies that profit from illicit
commerce; and new regulations that would require companies to
become more transparent in their dealings in resource-rich countries.
Renner also urges stronger efforts to reduce the availability
of small arms, a major feature of resource conflicts, by adopting
stricter export regimes, regulating arms brokers, and better
marking and tracing of weapons.
More generally, the report calls for development aid to promote
greater diversification of resource-rich developing economies
in order to reduce their dependence on the resources which have
spurred so much conflict.
Source: OneWorld US