In a year, War?

So I was chatting with a reporter down in Washington today and we were swapping the RUM-INT (Rumors-Intelligence) we’ve heard. He’s of the theory that we won’t see war in early 2003, but late 2003 instead.

So I was chatting with a reporter down in Washington today and we were swapping the RUM-INT (Rumors-Intelligence) we’ve heard. He’s of the theory that we won’t see war in early 2003, but late 2003 instead. The rhetoric after tomorrow (don’t forget to vote!) will be racheted down to “let the U.N. do its job” and some time next year either some incident will be manufactured or Saddam will do something stupid. After that, war.
It makes a certain amount of sense, I have to admit. My buddy said there is some thought that more time would increase the chances of a palace coup thanks to the extra months of American sabre rattling. And fighting a war in November 2003 would be better for presidential politics since any victory would be fresh in voters’ minds come Nov. 2004. (This is the theory that Bush I fought the first Gulf War too soon, that if he had fought and won it in late 1991 or early 1992, he would have defeated Bill Clinton easily.)
Still, there are carrier groups en route to the Gulf, and the Navy was looking for transport ships not long ago. Jalal Talabani, leader of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, expects war after Ramadan, which ends Dec. 5. Also, I wonder about the patience of the Neo-Cons and the hawks surrounding Bush. Wolfowitz, Haas, Perl and Cheney are true believers and Bush has made a big deal in the United Nations that nownowNOW is the time to move since Iraq is a clear and present danger to the stability of the world. It wouldn’t do for America to squander its prestige by barking for war madly only to shrug come Nov. 6 and say, “We’ll chill.” (This is the “We have to go to war because if we don’t we’ll look foolish since we said we’re going to war” theory of international politics.)
War now or war later? Answer hazy, ask again later.

Saddam gets busy, orders murders of dissidents

Saddam orders murder of British-based Iraqi dissidents; Libya may help

OK. Let’s take a break from Turkish elections. In other news, Saddam has busied himself recently with ordering the assassination of Iraqi dissidents abroad, particularly in London where the Iraqi National Congress is based. The goal is to prevent them from making plans to form a government after the removal of Saddam.
The Iraqi strongman has reportedly contacted Libyan leader Col. Muammar Gaddafi for help in getting this work done, since the Libyans have a network of sleeper cells based in Britain in Europe.

In the past few months, senior members of his Ba’athist regime have visited a number of Arab countries to lobby for support. Intelligence officials were particularly interested in a recent visit to Libya by Saddam’s cousin, Ali Hassan al-Majid, who is wanted for war crimes over his role in using chemical weapons against the Kurds at Halabja in 1988. “Chemical Ali”, as he is known in Baghdad, spent several hours with Col Gaddafi.
Apart from asking for assistance with killing opposition figures, al-Majid is also believed to have asked for Libyan help in carrying out terrorist attacks against British and US targets in Europe and the Middle East. Saddam is also keen to target the Gulf states of Bahrain and Qatar, which are the main bases for US forces in the region. The Libyan leader’s response to the requests is not known.

If this is true, Saddam is feeling the heat (and Libya is back up to its old tricks.) My worry is that a desperate Saddam could strike out with more terrorist cells or with whatever weapons of mass destruction he may already possess in a “use ’em or lose ’em” tactic brought on by American rhetorical bludgeoning.

Turks say out with the old, in with the Allah

As it looked earlier, Turkish voters have given the Justice and Development Party (AKP) a resounding victory with 34.2 percent of the vote out of 99 percent of the votes counted. The Republican People’s Party (CHP) had 19.2 percent of the vote. None of the other political parties appeared to have crossed the 10 percent threshold for gaining seats in Parliament. This means AKP can probably form a government without a coalition partner within two weeks.
All three parties in the current coalition were defeated, and ailing Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit’s party registered barely 1 percent. This was a resounding rejection of the politicians and practices that have governed Turkey for generations.
This is likely a good thing in that sense, but as I mentioned earlier, it remains to be seen if Erdogan’s AKP has truly moderated its Islamic roots and can truly be a “Muslim Democratic” party in the mold of Europe’s Christian Democrats.