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War: unlikely opposition + costs
11 March 2003
Opposition to the invasion of Iraq is coming from unexpected sources according to reports received this morning, with George Bush I warning his warmongering son about the dangers of unilateral action - see Bush Sr warning over unilateral action´ http://www.timesonline.co.uk/printFriendly/0,,1-5570-605770,00.html
In Britain, the Guardian reports that Tony Blair is facing the opening of floodgates to a catastrophic rebellion in his own ranks, as Clare Short said she would quit the cabinet if there was no second UN resolution supporting war in Iraq. In comments which were frank even by her standards, she said she feared the prime minister was being "extraordinarily reckless" with the future of the government. See Short spearheads rebellion with threat to quit over war at http://www.timesonline.co.uk/printFriendly/0,,1-5570-605770,00.html http://www.timesonline.co.uk/printFriendly/0,,1-5570-605770,00.html Excerpts of an interview with her are at http://politics.guardian.co.uk/foreignaffairs/story/0,11538,911126,00.html
This follows on from the reports last week that the British Attorney General, Lord Goldsmith, may resign because his advice to the British government is being ignored.
Tony Blair's political dilemmas over a possible military attack on Iraq increased today, with reports that the government's attorney general may resign if Britain goes to war without clear authorisation from the United Nations. Legal opinion varies on the basis for war under resolution 1441, but yesterday Cherie Booth's own legal chambers, Matrix, advised there was no authority for war without an unambiguous fresh resolution. Now it has emerged that there are fears within the government's legal service about the exact provisions of international law for a US-UK attack.
The full article Fresh resolution 'gives no authority for war'´ is available at
And the Independent on Sunday (9 March) published an editorial which could not have sent a clearer message to Tony Blair ...
You do not have the evidence. You do not have UN approval. You do not have your country's support. You do not have your party's support. You do not have the legal right. You do not have the moral right. You must not drag Britain into Bush's unjust and unnecessary war. Independent on Sunday, for full text see http://argument.independent.co.uk/leading_articles/story.jsp?story=385308
Meanwhile, across the Tasman, John Howard returned to Australia to strong criticism from families of people killed in the Bali bombing because of his comments linking the Bali bombing with the case for war on Iraq - see Unrepentant PM won't budge´ at http://www.smh.com.au/articles/2003/03/10/1047144923204.html
While the British and US governments scurry about making concessions´ to seek a compromise´ to achieve their aim of a pretence of Security Council authorisation for the invasion of Iraq - see for example Britain and US spell out steps to avoid attack at http://www.guardian.co.uk/international/story/0,3604,911070,00.html - the Russian government announced yesterday it would veto any such resolution, and this morning Chirac has said France would vote against any resolution that contains an ultimatum leading to war ``no matter what the circumstances.'' See Ivanov delivers warning´ at http://www.guardian.co.uk/Iraq/Story/0,2763,911484,00.html and France Will Vote Against Iraq Resolution at http://www.guardian.co.uk/worldlatest/story/0,1280,-2470120,00.html Pakistan has also announced it will not back such a resolution see
The fraudulence of the US government´s self-declared role as upholders of peace, democracy and international law has been further exposed by new reports of the torture of Afghani prisoners - see for example Duncan Campbell´s article Afghan prisoners beaten to death at US military interrogation base - 'Blunt force injuries' cited in murder ruling´ at http://www.guardian.co.uk/international/story/0,3604,909164,00.html
The US military´s plans to use CS gas and other chemical weapons in Iraq have been condemned by the Red Cross in recent days, see http://news.independent.co.uk/world/politics/story.jsp?story=385283 And of course the US government is not the only government guilty of gross hypocrisy in their planned invasion of Iraq - last week the Guardian revealed that the chemical plant which the US says is a key component in Iraq's chemical warfare arsenal was secretly built by Britain in 1985 - see Britain's dirty secret´ at http://www.guardian.co.uk/Iraq/Story/0,2763,908426,00.html
As well as the the appalling human cost of this war on the people of Iraq (and perhaps the region if it escalates), the threat to international peace and security, and the damage to future prospects of resolving conflict peacefully, the priorities of the warmongering governments are evident through even a cursory look at the figures involved.
With a war against Iraq perhaps days away, the world's richest governments have given the United Nations barely a quarter of the funds its agencies have asked for to deal with the expected humanitarian catastrophe. "We made an updated appeal for $120m (£75m) in February and have so far received $30m (£18.75m)," Elizabeth Byrs, the Geneva spokesperson for the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Activities (Unocha), said yesterday. See West's failure to donate humanitarian aid threatens catastrophe for millions´ at http://www.guardian.co.uk/international/story/0,3604,910816,00.html
Aside from the fact that the expected humanitarian catastrophe´ could so easily be avoided; figures such as those above are a drop in the bucket compared with just the US government´s military expenditure -
The Bush administration's war on terrorism and its proposed military intervention in Iraq have sparked the steepest increases in military and security spending in two decades:
Since September 11, 2001, the president has requested, and Congress has approved, over $110 billion in increases in military spending and military aid. The military budget has jumped from $329 billion in FY 2001 to over $380 billion in FY 2003 (see Table I, below). In addition to these increases in regular appropriations, the Pentagon has received over $30 billion in emergency and supplemental funding, and Congress has authorised roughly $3 billion in new military and security aid for US allies in the war on terrorism.
Spending on homeland security has doubled, from $18 billion to $38 billion per year, and a new Department of Homeland Security has been created.
The cost of the war in Afghanistan is at $15 to $20 billion so far. Independent estimates of the costs of a potential war with Iraq put the price tag at $100 billion or more. (War Without End? The Costs of the New Military Buildup´, William Hartung, February 2003. All figures are in US$. )
Recent articles on the Pentagon´s shock and awe´ war plans talk of 3,000 Tomahawk missiles in 48 hours for Baghdad alone; Tikrit, Saddam Hussein's birthplace and power base, to be razed; six kilos of ordnance for every Iraqi. See for example Allied bombs threaten a new generation of children with trauma, disease and death´ at http://news.independent.co.uk/world/middle_east/story.jsp?story=385533
In 2001, the unit cost of each Tomahawk cruise missile was US$2.5 million ...
And last week the Guardian reported the British Chancellor of the Exchequer had signed a blank cheque´ for the invasion of Iraq - see http://politics.guardian.co.uk/foreignaffairs/story/0,11538,907672,00.html
Strange how there´s no limit on spending for maiming, killing and destruction; and an apparent inability to link that, and the lack of political will to spend anything even remotely approaching these sums on real peace and security, with the root causes of terrorism´.