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What's Next? War Against France, North Korea?

What's Next? War Against France, North Korea?

By Firas Al-Atraqchi

They've pretty much tried it all; blaming Saddam for anthrax, West Nile Virus, 9-11, and ties to terrorists. They showed us cartoons of roving sci-fi labs in Iraq's hyperspace (because, apparently, no one has seen the mobile labs let alone provide proof they exist), movies of Saddam being kissed on the armpits (sure, that's a good reason to launch a hygienic war), and played audio of two incompetent Iraqis who just sit their saying 'yes,yes' over and over again.

'Yes', even U.S. Secretary of State Powell's excitement that the 'new' Osama bin Laden audio tape links Saddam to bin Laden fizzled when the latter called Saddam irrelevant and an 'infidel of Islam'.

So what wag the dog scenario are we to see in the next few days and weeks? One would think the poor dog is fatigued (you would be too if you were told to shake your tail to every song and dance) and has opted for early retirement. Oh wait, where did all the social security go?

However comic the above may sound (and lamentably true), the Bush administration has not run out of steam in its endless drive to invade Iraq.

Wednesday's edition of the Washington Post reports that U.S. National Security Adviser Condi Rice is exerting maximum effort to coerce UNMOVIC head Hans Blix to declare in Friday's U.N. Security Council report that Iraq is in violation and material breach.

"National security adviser Condoleezza Rice flew to New York this morning [Tuesday] to press chief U.N. weapons inspector Hans Blix to acknowledge in a Security Council briefing Friday that Iraq has failed to voluntarily scrap its prohibited chemical, biological and nuclear weapons programs, according to U.S. and U.N. diplomats," the Washington Post says.

The Washington Post article goes on to say "Rice's unannounced meeting with Blix underscored the Bush administration's concern that the Swedish diplomat's report to the council on Friday, while critical of Iraq, may not be decisive enough to persuade wavering Security Council members to support an immediate move to war."

Rice's efforts come on the heels of Blix and IAEA head Mohammed Al-Baradei's announcement on Monday that they had seen "the beginning of a serious effort on the part of the Iraqis, a beginning of a change of heart" concerning cooperation with the inspections teams. U.S. officials blasted the change of heart outright and claimed that Saddam was fooling the world.

Nevertheless, France, Germany, Belgium, Russia, and now China, have been strengthened by the inspectors' reports and have converged on a united front to prevent the U.S. from pushing through a new resolution legalising an invasion of Iraq. In recent days, on a visit to Paris, Putin signalled that hey may join France in vetoing any such resolution. In the meantime, France, Germany and Belgium are trying to present an alternative, peaceful mechanism to disarming Iraq, while also blocking Nato military aid to Turkey.

France's position has so irked U.S. officials that some are considering sanctions, or other punitive measures against European nations who do not latch on to the Bush doctrine.

According to Washington Post writer Jim VandeHei, "U.S. lawmakers, angry over France's and Germany's opposition to the administration's Iraq policies, are considering retaliatory gestures such as trade sanctions against the French and pressing for the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Germany."

Germany is also on the receiving end of 'punitive measures'.

Germany announced today that the purported bin Laden audio message makes no link between Saddam and Al-Qaida terrorists. In return, VandeHei says "There is also growing momentum on Capitol Hill to move many of the 71,455 U.S. troops from Germany. Marine Gen. James Jones, the U.S. commander in Europe, recently briefed lawmakers on an emerging plan to radically change the U.S. military presence in Europe, in great part by moving troops out of Germany."

Far from the European focus, the IAEA today decided to refer North Korea's nuclear intransigence to the Security Council for discussion. At a U.S. Congressional hearing, CIA director George Tenet admitted that unclassified material indicates that North Korea has one or two plutonium devices that are capable of hitting the western coast of the continental United States.

This marks the first time such a senior U.S. official has admitted that the U.S. is under threat from a possible North Korean attack. North Korea also announced that any sanctions slapped on the Marxist nation would be considered a declaration of war.

Nevertheless, the Bush administration has decided to ignore the North Korean and Al-Qaida threat and focus on Iraq instead.


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