|Southwest Asia News Digest
Physicist Warns vs. Bush-Cheney Push for Nuclear War
On Oct. 16, Information Clearinghouse published the important warning by University of California San Diego physics professor, Jorge Hirsch, that "voting Republican in November is voting to wage nuclear war" on Iran. Hirsch, who has led a campaign by physicists against the 2002 Nuclear Posture Review and related pro-nuclear-use policies of the Bush Administration, issued a documented warning that if the Republicans are not defeated in November, then the U.S. will likely go to war with Iran "before President Bush leaves office."
EIR founder Lyndon LaRouche commented that the Hirsch assessment, and his concerns and proposals, are, for the purposes of policy making, without getting into detail, fundamentally correct.
On North Korea, Hirsch writes that "the nuclearization of North Korea only helps the plan to nuke Iran, which is why the administration did everything it could to encourage it."
He argues that the Rumsfeld "transformation" policies of downsizing the military ultimately lead to nuclear weapons use. Despite many calls for Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld's resignation from across the political spectrum, says Hirsch, Rumsfeld will not go until he has succeeded in overriding the "nuclear taboo," by "detonating a small tactical nuclear weapon against a U.S. enemy," probably Natanz or another Iranian facility.
Hirsch is also clear that the "cause" of the war has nothing to do with Iran's nuclear capability, because even hitting Iran with nuclear weapons won't destroy that. He says: "The nuclear weapons that the administration is planning to use against Iran are low-yield earth-penetrating weapons expected to cause 'reduced collateral damage.' Their real purpose is not to destroy facilities that are too deep underground to be destroyed by conventional weapons: it is primarily to erase the nuclear taboo, and secondarily to shock-and-awe Iran into surrender."
Hirsch argues that, although the decision to employ nuclear weapons in time of war lies with the President (according to NSC Memorandum 30 of 1948), the Congress nonetheless has the constitutional authority to "make rules for the government and [for] regulation" of the Armed Forces (Article 1, Sect. 8, Clause 14). The Congress could thus "block the authority of the President to order the use of nuclear weapons against non-nuclear-weapon countries by passing legislation." Since "Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld, with the advice of Kissinger, are hell-bent on pursuing" a nuclear attack on Iran, and since "a military takeover of government is not likely, and military refusal to carry out immoral orders is uncertain at best," therefore, Hirsch concludes, Congress must use its power to stop it. While there are many Republicans who agree, "a Republican Congress is likely to rubber-stamp any White House plan on Iran," and thus "voting Republican is voting to wage nuclear war."
Iraqis Face Genocidal Conditions; White House Denies Reality
During the week of Oct. 15-21, CNN aired a video made available to it reportedly by the Islamic Army of Iraq, through intermediaries, which documents the manner in which resistance forces target and kill U.S. troops, with sniper fire. The film shows how members of the resistance identify a group of U.S. troops, with Iraqis nearby, and wait until they are able to kill the U.S. forces, without attacking the Iraqis. Retired Gunnery Sgt. Jack Coughlin, who was a top Marine sniper in Iraq, commented on the film, saying the team of three people carrying out one recorded attack, must have been very well-trained, because they demonstrated great calm.
At the same time, reports are that death squads, thought to be operating out of the Interior Ministry, are continuing their killings in Baghdad, more than ever before. The number of deaths reported for Baghdad for September is 1,536; the Health Ministry therefore announced it would build two more morgues to handle 250 bodies per day.
In the face of such increasing violence, Iraqis who have the means to do so, are seeking safety abroad. According to Ron Redman, spokesman for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, at least 914,000 Iraqis have left since the war began in 2003. The agency says that there are 754,000 displaced Iraqis internally; the Iraqi government figures speak of 1.5 million internally displaced, but this includes 800,000 from before the invasion.
Most Iraqis who leave the country, go to Syria, at a rate of 40,000 per month, over the past four months. There are about 1.6 million Iraqis in the region, outside their homeland, mainly in Syria and Jordan, according to the UNHCR figures.
According to a report in the Independent, 18,000 of those leaving Iraq are doctors and nurses. More than 2,000 physicians and 164 nurses have been murdered. As a result, the hospitals are understaffed, not enough medicine is available, and people are dying needlessly. There were 34,000 doctors registered before the war.
The U.S. allocated $243 million to build 142 private clinics. By April 2004, twenty had been built. No funds remain. The U.S. has spent $1 billion on the health-care system, while eight times that is needed for the next four years. Seventy percent of deaths among children are caused by "easily treatable conditions," like diarrhea and respiratory problems. Over one-quarter of a million children have never been vaccinated.
To appreciate the tragic dimensions of these figures, one should remember that Iraq, prior to the 1991 war, was the showcase of the region as far as health care was concerned, with hospitals, clinics, and medical personnel at the same level as modern European countries.
Meanwhile, the White House continues to deny this reality. The administration has issued strong criticism against CNN forin the White House viewadding to the demoralization of Americans about the war.
Top U.S. Military Official: Baghdad Security Plan Has Failed
U.S. military spokesman Maj. Gen. William Caldwell said on Oct. 19, that the plan to secure Baghdad, launched in August, is under review. "We are obviously very concerned," he said, "about what we are seeing in the city. We are taking a lot of time to [look] back at the Baghdad security plan." He said "an intense amount of discussion" was taking place about how to alter the plan. "The violence is indeed disheartening," he said. "In Baghdad alone, we have seen a 22% increase in attacks during the first three weeks of Ramadan, as compared to the three weeks preceding Ramadan." Caldwell said that the joint U.S.-Iraqi operation, named "Operation Forward Together," begun in August, "has made a difference in the focus areas, but has not met our overall expectations of sustaining a reduction of levels of violence."
Speaking of the resistance forces, he said, "They are pushing back hard. In the focus areas where we conducted operations, there has been an increase in the amount of sectarian violence." The "focus" areas are specific neighborhoods that were targeted.
Saudis Reject Possible Partition of Iraq
At a meeting of the Saudi cabinet with King Abdullah on Oct. 16, a statement was issued regarding the Iraqi Parliament's recent vote for federalism, saying, "The Kingdom will stand with all patriotic forces that work for Iraq's unity. The Cabinet hopes that the leaders of Iraq and its wise men and Islamic scholars would uphold their duty of standing against attempts to partition the country under whatever guise."
This comes just days before a meeting is to take place of Iraqi religious leaders, to discuss reconciliation between Shi'ites and Sunnis. The meeting has been organized by the Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC), in Mecca. Saudi King Abdullah met with a delegation of Iraqi Sunni and Shi'ite scholars on Oct. 14. Included in the delegation was Harith al-Dhari, leader of the Association of Muslim Scholars. On Oct. 17, the King met Jordan's King Abdullah II, to discuss both on Iraq and Palestine. Both Saudi Arabia and Jordan would be torn apart by any Iraqi partition.
Lebanese Shi'ite Leader Endorses Saudi Peace Initiative
The Speaker of the Lebanese Parliament, Nabih Berri, has called for the resumption of peace talks with Israel based on the Saudi Peace Initiative of 2002, reported Ha'aretz Oct. 20.
"Now is the time to raise the issue of returning to peace negotiations," he told the Al Arabiyah network from Paris. He was also quoted in the London-based Asharq Al Awat daily. He made similar statements at a conference of the Inter-Parliamentary Union in Geneva, where he said now that Hezbollah had triumphed over Israel, the time for holding comprehensive talks had come. He was not referring to bilateral talks with Israel, but comprehensive talks based on the Saudi Peace Initiative of 2002 which is supported by all the nations of the Arab League.
Berri is leader of the Shi'ite based Amal Movement which is a rival of the Hezbollah, although the two are working together politically.
Bush Administration Blocks Israel-Syria Talks
"The U.S. is not interested in seeing Israel and Syria move ahead with a separate channel" from their own anti-Syrian policy, an Oct. 20 article in the Israeli daily Ha'aretz said. The article points out the fact that Israeli Police and Security Minister Avi Dichter, who was in Washington, met with National Security Council Director Stephen Hadley Oct. 17. Several weeks ago, Dichter had made positive statements about the possibility for negotiations, but after the meeting with Hadley, Dichter backed off his earlier statements.