[R-G] Bush will begin war on Iraq 'within weeks' (Guardian, UK)
DavidMcR at aol.com
DavidMcR at aol.com
Thu Jan 23 23:38:12 MST 2003
In a message dated 1/24/03 1:35:22 AM Eastern Standard Time,
scottmclarty at yahoo.com writes:
<< The Message from the Bush Camp: 'It's War Within
· Washington now concentrating on timing
· State of union address to 'turn up the heat'
· Blair faces nightmare scenario over war
by Julian Borger in Washington, Ewen MacAskill
and Simon Tisdall
The Guardian (UK), Friday, January 24, 2003
President George Bush is determined to go to war
with Saddam Hussein in the next few weeks,
without UN backing if necessary, according to
authoritative sources in Washington and London.
The US president is "to turn up the heat" in his
state of the union address on Tuesday.
"The pressure comes from President Bush and it is
felt all the way down," a European official said.
"They're talking about weeks, not months. Months
is a banned word now."
Mr Bush wanted the US secretary of state, Colin
Powell, to force the issue of military action by
presenting evidence of Saddam Hussein's
violations of UN resolutions immediately after
weapons inspectors give their report to the UN on
Monday. In Washington circles such an event is
being referred to as the Adlai Stevenson moment.
The "Adlai Stevenson moment" has become
Washington shorthand for the US presentation of
its intelligence case. Stevenson was the US
ambassador to the UN at the time of the 1962
Cuban missile crisis, who dramatically confronted
the Soviet envoy with vivid aerial photographs of
nuclear missiles being unloaded in Cuba.
Downing Street was alarmed by the Bush
administration's sudden haste in moving towards a
climax. It was adamant that the decision to go to
war should not be declared before Tony Blair
flies to Camp David for talks with Mr Bush next
An informed source in Washington said: "Blair is
a good guy. They won't want to do that to him.
They want it to look like he played a part in the
policy-making but the decision has been made."
A key moment will now be the state of the union
address. According to a Washington source, the US
administration remains divided along old fault
lines about the precise timescale of war. The US
secretary of state, Donald Rumsfeld, wants Mr
Bush to set a clear and imminent deadline. But Mr
Powell, is resisting, asking for a little more
time for diplomatic coalition-building.
But both sides of the divide are making it
increasingly clear that the end result will be
military action, with or without UN backing.
The chief White House spokesman, Ari Fleischer,
yesterday brushed off mounting anti-war feeling
across Europe, led by France. It was "entirely
possible that France won't be on the line", he
said, adding that Britain, Australia, Italy,
Spain and "virtually all of the eastern European
countries" would provide support.
Mr Powell echoed this, saying: "I don't think we
will have to worry about going it alone."
The impatience within the White House for action
against Iraq came on a day in which the cracks in
the international coalition against Iraq widened.
China and Russia joined France and Germany in
warning the US against precipitate action and
calling for Washington to work within the UN.
The German foreign minister, Joschka Fischer,
revealed the extent of European anger over the US
position when he told Washington to "cool down".
The Russian foreign minister, Igor Ivanov, said:
"Russia deems that there is no evidence that
would justify a war in Iraq."
Mr Blair now finds himself perilously close to
his nightmare scenario - sandwiched between a US
administration bent on war and the rest of Europe
either openly hostile to military action or
Britain believes it has won a short reprieve
before the US presents its own intelligence
evidence against Saddam Hussein, in effect a
declaration of war, but only for a fortnight at
Mr Bush will lay out the broad case for toppling
President Saddam next Tuesday but White House
officials insist the speech, a year after the
president coined the phrase, "axis of evil", will
stop short of being a declaration of war. That
will await a more detailed presentation of
intelligence evidence in the next few weeks,
after Mr Blair visits Camp David.
"We said that has to be a substantive
consultation, not a fait accompli," one British
official said. The British argument is that the
longer the US waits before showing its hand, the
better the case it will have to put before the UN
security council, as the inspectors come across
more Iraqi infringements.
The Foreign Office had initially sought to defuse
the rising tension around next Monday's
inspectors' report by denying that it represented
a "moment of truth", but in recent days a source
conceded: "That was never going to be realistic.
Of course it's important."
At his meeting with Mr Powell yesterday, the
foreign secretary, Jack Straw, clung to the
official line. "There are still ways that this
can be resolved peacefully," he said. Mr Straw
repeated that the British preference is for a
second UN resolution before any further action
against Iraq but Mr Powell, in a change of tack,
refused to commit himself to seeking a second
One of the factors behind Washington's haste
appears to be the annual rise in temperatures in
the Iraqi desert over the next few months. In
theory, US and some allied troops have the
capacity to fight in any weather but the
effectiveness of both soldiers and equipment
diminishes rapidly when the temperature rises
"The planes have been designed for the cold war.
They start losing lift, carry lighter loads, and
must make shorter runs when the temperature goes
over 35," said one government official involved
in Anglo-American debates over the timing of an
© Guardian Newspapers Limited 2003
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