View from the Loft 

war and peace, politics, books, rants, the passing parade ...


Wednesday, January 22, 2003

Never got back to the blog yesterday as planned. Things are moving quickly now, and I have to make a real effort to keep up to date here for the few of you who check in here regularly (or semi-regularly, since I write only semi-regularly!). Before I sum up recent events, I'd like to point you to a NY Times editorial that says, "Mr. Bush and his war cabinet would be wise to see the demonstrators as a clear sign that noticeable numbers of Americans no longer feel obliged to salute the administration's plans because of the shock of Sept. 11 and that many harbor serious doubts about his march toward war." Even the Times has had to admit that the antiwar movement is not a wild-eyed "fifth column" but people sickened by the prospect of an unjust war.

And I just found out that Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee has introduced legislation that would repeal the Use of Force Against Iraq Resolution (scroll down) that was signed into law last October!

America's and Britain's leaders aren't listening to the voices calling for peace, but European leaders are.

See how the lines are drawn among world leaders when it comes to war in Iraq.

The only debate going in in Washington now is how to justify the invasion of Iraq, with some of the Bushies demanding a "smoking gun" while others argue that "Baghdad's persistent thwarting of arms inspectors" is enough to justify it.

The U.S. is trying to make it look like it has support beyond the fanatical megalomania of Tony Blair, but so far it has managed to wangle very few resources from other nations in behind-the-scenes talks. Says one insider, "This is nothing like the [last] Gulf conflict: It will be a 95 percent US war."

The Pentagon is sending another 75,000 troops to the Gulf, which will bring the number of U.S. soldiers there close to that deemed necessary for an invasion of Iraq. War is now doable within a month, and despite Rummy's repeated assertions that "no one wants war," it is obvious to anyone with more than a brain stem that there is nothing Bush and his minions want more.

As part of "an administration-wide effort to counter rising opposition to war that could jeopardize Bush's fragile anti-Saddam coalition," Bush has taken to scolding the international community for its failure to dance to his particular tune. At a time of impending war, the best our "leader" can do is to say that he's "sick and tired" of delays and compare the current situation to "a re-run of a bad movie" that he's not interested in seeing again. Ah, the heights of eloquence ...

A Guardian poll shows that 47% of British voters are against war outright, while 81% agree that a second UN resolution is necessary before any attack can be launched against Iraq.

Meanwhile, Britain has committed one-fourth of its army to the coming war. The 26,000 British troops recently deployed bring the total British forces to 32,000. British ministers have been accused of sending ill-prepared, ill-equipped soldiers to the area: the lack of smallpox vaccinations, questions about the performance of the SA80 rifle, necessity of troops to buy their own kits (55% of the troops have had to spend their own money), equipment failures--the list goes on and on--worry members of Parliament.

France is not going along with the program: it has declared its opposition to war against Iraq. France, as a permanent member of the UN Security Council, has veto power against any resolution for military action that may be proposed. China and Russia, which also have veto power, have likewise signaled their opposition, as has Germany, which, though not a permanent member, will chair the Security Council in February. Apparently, rising opposition to the war in their own countries has played a part in hardening the positions of France and Germany. Foreign heads of state are also aware of American opposition to the war unless the UN supports military action.

(My daughter, Hannah, has been reading Le Mondein French and tells me that although the same stories are reported in the French newspaper as in mainstream American papers, the emphasis is often different, with the result that France's opposition to military force seems much more resolute and principled than it appears in the American news. I'm trying to get her to do some translation for me so I can put up some examples of this.)

Russia, not in favor of war against Iraq, says that it has knowledge from "a high-ranking source in the Russian general staff" that the decision to go to war has, indeed, already been made, but has not been made public. Big surprise, eh?

Tuesday, January 21, 2003

The demonstrations on the weekend were a huge success! Estimates of the crowds in D.C. and San Francisco vary widely, but there were hundreds of thousands of people out there calling for peace. Over 20,000 marched in Portland, Oregon. People marched in Japan and Russia.

And this time the media coverage of the events was a vast improvement over the coverage of the October 26 marches. Not perfect, but much, much better. Over and over, on radio and TV, we heard that the antiwar movement had grown and had broadened, that everyone from grandmas to Wall Street types were taking part. This is a good thing! As people realize that people just like Joe and Joan next door are participating in the antiwar movement, more people will feel that it's something they, too, can be a part of--that it's not just for left-wing crazies and cranks.

A Newsweek poll shows that by 60% to 35%, the American people would prefer that Bush not rush into attacking Iraq but rather try to find an alternative solution.

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