View from the Loft 

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Tuesday, January 14, 2003

Is peace still possible?

The thousands of demonstrators in Los Angeles on Saturday, January 11, thought so. For a link to some photos and a list of organizers and sponsors, go here.

Some Marin County women are taking it off to get media attention to anti-war messages. They join many others in the Bay Area who are fashioning their own protests and spreading the word against war.

United for Peace has a list of upcoming actions against the war, including the massive demonstration planned for this Saturday, January 18, a march in NYC, and women's anti-war actions.

People never before active in any kind of political movement are joining forces to protest the idea of war in Iraq and the infamous USAPatriot Act. "We just don't want to see people suffer," they say.

Trade unionists have now formed a group called U.S. Labor against the War (USLAW). An antiwar resolution passed easily.

Yet another poll shows that the majority of Americans do not want a unilateral war with Iraq, although 60% said they would eventually favor military action if it were the only way to get rid of Saddam Hussein. The poll also shows a considerable ignorance of the facts on the part of the general public, with half of those surveyed believing that at least one of the Sept. 11 hijackers was an Iraqi citizen. This is the kind of ignorance the Bushies are exploiting, particularly when they insist over and over that there is a link between al-Qaeda and Saddam Hussein.

Speaking of polls, a second major poll reports that Bush's approval rating has dropped 8 points to 58%. Other polls put him in the 60's, as Liberal Oasis points out, but the trend seems to be downward, and in any case, "the pundits should be on notice: to state as undisputed fact that Bush is widely popular is simply wrong."

Whoa! Before I even got the last poll results posted, here comes a third one putting Bush's approval rating in the 50s! A USA Today/CNN/Gallup poll shows a 5-point drop from last weekto 58%, the lowest since 9/11. Here's what scares me: what will the man do to recapture his popularity? If he thinks some rah-rah patriotism in the form of dropping bombs on Baghdad will do the trick, that's what he'll do, never mind the rest of the world. The people in Washington today know no shame, no restraint, in maintaining their power. So much as I like to see the man's popularity on the wane, I'm getting the shudders.

Bush has a few problems with his own party members, it would seem. Recently a group of GOP senators let Andrew Card know that they're not happy with the way they've been treated on the road to war. Sen. John Warner, a veteran and a veteran senator (elected to his fifth term), told Card, "I will not tolerate a continuation of what's been going on the last two years." The Pentagon, and especially Rumsfeld, are said to be completely dismissive of Congress. No kidding!

TIMEeurope asks its readers, "Which nation poses the greatest danger to world peace in 2003?" You get one guess who's winning in this very nonscientific poll. Do vote!

Antiwar.com's Justin Raimondo writes that "Now is the time for the worldwide antiwar movement to redouble its efforts, especially in the U.S. and the United Kingdom. The idea that war is 'inevitable' is just a lot of war propaganda, and recent events have underscored an important point: the ruling elites will not go to war if the price is perceived as too high. We must make them pay the full costs, politically, if they dare to defy world opinion." He cites the recent wobbling of the British, the reluctance of the Turks, the lack of a smoking gun, and hardening worldwide opinion in predicting that war may be put off for quite a while--even indefinitely.

New Zealand's Trade Minister, Jim Sutton, has abandoned the careful, diplomatic language of government officials to tell it like it is: he accuses the U.S. of arm-twisting in order to get other nations to go along with its war plans. Gosh, we're getting more popular by the day ...

Tony Blair has his hands full. Seems Mr. Bush's lap dog has run into some opposition on the home front. As Jackie Ashley opines in The Guardian, "The anti-war movement is not, as he seems to imagine, a bunch of hard-left, knee-jerk anti-Americans with no popular support. It is the popular support, the mainstream, the ordinary electorate," the people, in fact, who put him in office. Britain's International Development Secretary Clare Short said London should not join a unilateral U.S. attack on Iraq and said it was Britain's duty to restrain Washington.

Many members of the UN Security Council are taking a dim view of Washington's interpretation of Resolution 1441. They are mindful of criticism back home. The French citizenry is reportedly against war to the tune of 77% of the population. A majority of the Council nations remain unconvinced that Saddam Hussein presents a threat at this time.

Or is war inevitable?

However, Blair defied critics in his own party and asserted that the UN has no veto power over whether or not force is used against Iraq. It's difficult to understand what the hell Blair is playing at.

Meanwhile, UN inspectors find the military buildup in the Gulf worrying, fearing that it may be creating an "unstoppable" momentum.

And no wonder. Word comes now that more U.S. troops than previously thought may be needed in Iraq, especially as troops move into civilian areas and have to maintain order. As many as 350,000 troops or more could end up over there. Does anyone really think it possible that the U.S. government would spend the kind of money it's already spent on war preparations and then not make use of them? Is it possible to back away from war now?

Two seven-ship armadas carrying thousands of Marines have been sent to the Gulf. The Navy is prepared to have 6 aircraft carriers in the region; two are already there, two are ready to go, and two are being readied for deployment. There are currently 60,000 troops in the region, and Rumsfeld signed orders recently to send another 67,000.

Have a look at the latest version of the war plans for Iraq: Rummy wanted to go high-tech all the way, with minimal ground troops, but the generals, it would seem, are going to have their way. And one big reason is that Iraq's oil fields and infrastructure have to be protected.

Would you be surprised to hear that some of the Bushies are pushing the idea of tapping Iraq's oil to pay for the costs of the war? Officially, oil revenues during the occupation of Iraq will be used only to benefit the Iraqi people (I feel an attack of cynicism coming on), but there are strong advocates for the position that oil is part of the "spoils of war," and that the U.S. would take and keep oil money until such time as a democratic government is installed in Iraq.

Apparently Iraq has jamming devices capable of knocking American "smart" bombs off course. Nothing to worry about, we are told -- but some of us remember the spectacular success claimed for the Patriot missiles, when our own eyes could see that the bombs were dumber than we were being told. I fear that such jamming devices would end up mainly killing and maiming civilians as the misdirected bombs went astray. Is there no end to this madness?

The U.S. will be using depleted uranium (DU) weapons once again in Iraq. The U.S. claims that DU is harmless; many scientists remain on the fence on this issue; activists and Iraqi medical authorities blame the 320 tons of DU fired off during the Gulf war for the rising incidence of child cancers and birth defects there. Some also suspect that Gulf War illnesses may be traceable to DU.

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