The war on terror - is Iraq next on death row?
A history of the current situation in the war on terrorism - half a year after the war started.
With the threat of Afghanistan and the Taliban regime as good as erased, the attentions of the US and Great Britain have turned to Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein in the war against terrorism.
Between the dates of the 8th and 18th March 2002, this was the premier story, dominating the political coverage in newspapers and Internet news sites worldwide.
This write-up intends to review the media coverage given to the event. From Tony Blair’s MP’s displaying “deep unease” about the PM’s position on a military attack on Iraq on Friday March 8th, to The New York Times' debate on whether President Bush would unleash his nuclear arsenal if needs be on March 18th. It shall directly compare reporting from both sides of the Atlantic, with the Guardian and The Daily Telegraph forming the greater part of the content from the UK, with the highly respected websites of CNN and the New York times configuring the reporting in the US
In earlier days, it had come to light that Iraq and the dark, yet looming shadow of a seemingly forlorn Saddam Hussein had become the latest target of the trigger-happy United States president George W Bush. In an archetypal response from the British PM, he is right behind the US call to action against Iraq.
Friday March 8th and the Guardian tells of the “deep unease” sweeping MP’s as Blair makes clear his stance on action against Iraq. Over 60 MP’s at Westminster yesterday urged their restraint. However the foreign secretary told of the regimes “obsessive interest in biological weapons and it’s determination to obtain missiles”
Meanwhile on the other side of the Atlantic, I was wrong in my assumption that the approach would be a little more gung-ho so to speak as cnn.com reports. Somewhat surprisingly they play down rumours that vice president Dick Cheney’s sole purpose of his 12-nation middle east trip was to “build support for imminent military action” against Iraq. Perhaps the American tabloids would see this a little differently.
CNN’s Washington Bureau also reports that the new weapon’s inspections for Iraq “must be unconditional” In a somewhat more aggressive piece of Journalism words such as “confront” “violation” and “sanctions” are used to describe the process. As expected the approach of CNN is more aggressive than the laid back outlook provided by the Guardian.
The next big news arises two days later as classified information comes to light about likely US nuclear targets. In a report taken from the previous days LA Times it is revealed that “nuclear weapons could be used against Libya, Syria, China, Russia, Iran, Iraq and North Korea” This prompted a worldwide outrage including several outbursts at trigger-happy President George W Bush.
CNN jumps to the defence of the US, with a report suggesting that they were not a guide to US plans. A statesman for the Pentagon commented that “It does not provide operational guidance on nuclear targeting or planning” and is simply “the latest in a long series of reviews since the development of nuclear weapons”.
The report was also played down on CNN TV’s “late edition with Wolf Blitzer” as Gen. Richard Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff points out; "This preserves for the president all the options that a president would want to have in case this country or our friends and allies were attacked with weapons of mass destruction, be they nuclear, biological, chemical or, for that matter, high explosives”
(http://www.cnn.com/2002/US/03/09/nuclear.weapons/index.html, http://www.cnn.com/2002/US/03/10/nuclear.weapons/index.html, http://www.cnn.com/2002/US/03/10/nuclear.contingency/index.html)
Back home, the approach is a little more reserved and not so quick to just to the defence of the Americans, with the Daily Telegraph calling it a “serious concern”
Moving forward to March 13th the Guardian Unlimited website, reports on a possible marriage between the Al-Qaida and Iraq. Again the report is centred around vice president Dick Cheney who without evidence suggests that the mere possibility of this “Marriage” “is enough for the United States to threaten war - and to corral the rest of the world into a coalition to fight it” This article is a little more anti the American policy, claiming their motives are simply to enforce a re-enactment of the Gulf war. The Guardian, known for their independent views, has gone out on a limb here.
A similar piece appeared on the telegraph’s website, which said that; “Britain and America have compiled an intelligence-based dossier alleging that Saddam Hussein has developed increasingly close links with the al-Qa'eda terrorist group” This article presents a far more united front against Saddam, who allegedly had given shelter to 100’s of Al-Qaida soldiers.
That Day’s edition of the Daily Mirror, features a defiant Saddam Hussein on its front page, uttering the words “They don’t scare us” in referring to the US threats.
(Daily Mirror, 13th March 2002, page 1)
Meanwhile, across the Atlantic, CNN reports that President Bush has once again refused to rule out the possibility of using nuclear weapons. And in his press conference admitted that “Iraq and Saddam Hussein are a big problem…but one thing I will not allow is a nation such as Iraq to threaten our very future by developing weapons of mass destruction." I, for one, sense a certain amount of irony in this.
March 16th: An Article entitled “End Iraq threat now, Pentagon official says” from CNN’s Washington desk reports that “what we can’t do is just wait another 10, 20 years and hope nothing happens” as Iraq harbour weapons of mass destruction that “would make September 11th look tame by comparison”
Over the last week CNN’s approach has certainly become more gung-ho as I mentioned earlier, however the Guardian remains slightly cautious about any military action against Iraq. They reveal that Britain’s growing rift with Europe in the war against Terror is set to grow further as German chancellor Gerhard Schröder informs the UK that “he had no intention of participating in any unilateral military action launched against Baghdad by the United States” the word “Isolated” which dominates the headline, reflects the concern held by The Guardian.
Moving forward to the 18th March, their has been no major developments as Americas and ‘Dubya’ continue to keep their nuclear weapon card close to their chest as The New York Times reports. Cheney and Bush have been quick enough to warn Saddam Hussein they will do “whatever it takes” to stop him “would the president ever consider a pre-emptive nuclear strike?, the answers have ranged from ‘not likely’ to ‘no comment’” and concluding that ambiguity is everything in Nuclear deterrence.
Very little was settled during the ten days spanning the 8th-18th March 2002. What remains is simply a great deal of threats made by both sides, mostly the by American’s who seem to believe that only they have the right to possess these weapons of mass destruction.
The American Media have failed to pick up on this hypocrisy and by supporting the very same hypocrisy the Guardian starts to become a little concerned by it all, especially as Europe continues to distance itself from US policy.
Simultaneously, the bombing in Afghanistan still continues, although nobody seems to know what is actually being bombed, because there can hardly be anything left to bomb by now.
With thanks to the custodian, the oolong man and albert herring, I spotted a few mistakes, both factual and linguistic, in my w/u. They have been corrected