MAY PEACE PREVAIL ON EARTH
December 13, 2002
Defeating the U.S. War Plans Series #8: Latest Perspectives, Initiatives and News
Here is a final compilation for this week. Just to keep you up with the latest on this issue.
Earth Rainbow Network Coordinator
This compilation is archived at http://www.EarthRainbowNetwork.com/Archives2002/DefeatingUSWar8.htm
"Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it's time to pause and reflect."
- Mark Twain
"I object to violence because when it appears to do good, the good is only temporary; the evil it does is permanent."
- Mohandas Gandhi
1. Stories from Iraq
2. Harold Pinter speaks on American hysteria, ignorance, arrogance, stupidity and belligerence
3. Mass Demonstration and the Convening of the Grassroots Peace Congress in Washington, D.C.
4. Not Such a Super Power After All
5. US Set to Use Mines in Iraq
Carter warns against 'catastrophic' war
Former US president Jimmy Carter has warned of the potentially "catastrophic consequences" of a pre-emptive US war on Iraq. The comments came in his Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech in Oslo. Mr Carter did not mention either country by name, but said: "For powerful countries to adopt a principle of preventative war may well set an example that can have catastrophic consequences."
COUNTDOWN IN FOREIGN POLICY
As you know, the Bush administration has officially announced its own countdown with the recent release of its National Strategy to Combat Weapons of Mass Destruction. For the Bush team, the world is not a complicated place: economic policy means corporate policy, foreign policy is making foreigners follow U.S. policy, and military policy is about power--and there's nothing so powerful as our nuclear arsenal. So nuke them. It's a boy toy thing, with chickenhawks eager to start the countdown for war. CLIP
100 Arrested in U.S. Anti-War Protests (Dec 10)
Mass Arrest in NYC
(...) There were protests in more than 100 cities across the US. (...) The Shalom Center has initiated discussions with a range of groups in and beyond the religious community about calling for a nationwide fast for peace and against war on Martin Luther King's real birthday, January 15, the Wednesday before the weekend of official observance of his birthday.
Dr. Len Horowitz's take on the NWO after 9-11
Tell President Bush and Congress to Help, Not Undermine The United Nations' Inspectors
To send free faxes to the President and your Members of Congress, visit the TrueMajority Action Center. Just go at http://www.truemajority.com/index.asp?action=2349&ms=www3
United Nations inspectors have returned to Iraq to hunt down and destroy weapons of mass destruction. This is a triumph for the UN, the rule of law - even for President Bush who pushed so hard for this. So why does he seem hell-bent on making sure that no matter what happens it will lead to war? CLIP
U.S. Missile Intercept Test Fails (December 11)
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A Raytheon Corp.-built "kill vehicle" designed to destroy incoming warheads failed to separate from its booster on Wednesday in a test over the Pacific, setting back a multibillion-dollar system under development to shield against ballistic missiles from countries such as Iraq, Iran and North Korea. "We do not have an intercept," said Air Force Lt. Col. Rick Lehner of the Pentagon's Missile Defense Agency.
Henry Kissinger Redux by Mark Fiore
Meeting Today's Staffing Needs With Yesterday's Staff
Total Information Awareness by Mark Fiore
Bringing Paranoia to the People!
Star Trek, The Wrath of Condi
A 'star trek' spoof animation featuring GWBush and some of the key players in his administration. It captures with clever detail the detail and scope of the warnings received in the months and weeks
leading up to September 11th.
For more entertainment... much more, go to
All four animations above were recommended by Larry Morningstar <firstname.lastname@example.org> in his latest Socio-Political Report - to which you can subscribe upon request at email@example.com
From: Gary Malkin <firstname.lastname@example.org
Subject: Stories from Iraq
A friend of mine who is from Iraq sent me this email.
I thought you might find it of interest. Heart wrenching.
Hope you are well during these challenging times.
From: "Halla Ayla" <email@example.com>
Date: 08 Dec 2002
Jeremy Scahill reports daily on KPFA from Baghdad, he is a great reporter and a brave and honest human being. His recounts of what is going on in Iraq right now is heartwrenching. I am putting together some funds to send to these families and or others, please join me if you feel inclined.
The Progressive | December 2002 Issue
Oil Is Our Damnation
by Jeremy Scahill
IT'S AN UNDERSTATEMENT TO SAY THAT Baghdad is a congested city. Practically every car on the streets is a taxi. And while the government has recently put a fleet of shiny new yellow taxis on the roads, most of the cabs are "private." Teachers, engineers, sometimes even doctors, drive the family car to make ends meet in a country where the average monthly salary is about $5 to $10.
Relatively speaking, riding in a taxi is a pretty inexpensive way to get around. Most destinations in Baghdad will cost about 750 Iraqi dinars (roughly forty cents). And going to the gas station to fill up is a bit of a formality--fuel is practically free. A gallon of gas costs less than five cents, while a liter of clean drinking water costs a quarter.
But cheap gas is one of the few perks ordinary Iraqis gain from their country's vast oil resources. Ask anyone in Iraq what they think the coming war is about and you'll get the same answer everywhere, "Bush wants our oil."
"Our oil is like our damnation," says Adil Raheem, a university professor in the oil-rich port city of Basra in southern Iraq. "It will never bring us health and happiness as long as we have the U.S. government and its so-called interests here."
In addition to teaching English literature at a private college in Basra, Raheem is a volunteer with Iraq's Disaster Preparedness Team. Every week, he attends meetings where plans are being mapped out for coping with what many see as an inevitable war.
"Unfortunately, we have experience that has taught us a lot," he says. He recalls his efforts to get ready for war the first time the United States invaded, in early 1991. This time, he is more prepared. "Back then, everything was theoretical," he says. "Now, it's practical."
Iraq's oil belt, the south of the country, is clearly bracing for war. Trucks zoom along the highway pulling large howitzer-type cannons. Armed military posts line the roads. Some are large walled-in encampments; others are small bunkers with a half-dozen soldiers. On hillsides, people have arranged white rocks to form written messages, as though they are meant to be seen by aircraft. In several places, the message is in English: "Down U.S.A." In the distance, refinery flames dot the skyline in one of the most oil-wealthy regions in the world.
Almost no one in Basra speaks of war in the future tense. The city of 1.7 million people lies within the so-called no-fly zones imposed by the U.S. and Britain, allegedly to protect Shi'ite Muslims from Saddam. Air raid sirens blare through the city as U.S. war planes zoom above, regularly dropping bombs. The Iraqi government says that more than 1,300 civilians have been killed in these attacks.
"I feel sick when I hear the planes flying above. I cry," says Kareema, who lives in a two-room shack with her husband and four children. "I have psychological shock. I can't bear it. I listen to the radio and I feel scared. We are asking God just to save us."
Kareema's husband, Majid, is a struggling artist. Since the Gulf War, the family has had to move twice, both times to more sparse dwellings. The family members speak sadly of the "big" house they once had. Majid walks with a limp. During the Gulf War, he was driving in a carpool to the factory where he was working when a missile hit the road in front of them. Three of his co-workers were killed, while Majid and six others sustained injuries.
The two small rooms in their shack are full of Majid's paintings of Imam Ali, one of the holiest figures in Shi'ite Islam. The front courtyard of the house is infested with flies, hovering around the enclosed hole in the ground that serves as a toilet. Just a few feet away is the open-air family bedroom--four shabby bedsprings with thin, rotting foam mattresses.
Like many men in Basra, Majid works on the periphery of Iraq's oil industry as a mechanic. His monthly pay is a thin stack of nearly worthless dinars.
While Majid and his co-workers see little benefit from their country's vast oil resources, American companies are already making a killing off of what many see as a final push to seize control of Iraq's oil. Halliburton, once run by Vice President Dick Cheney, helped Saddam rebuild the industry in the 1990s, and now is turning a buck by servicing the massive troop buildup in the region.
Far away from Majid's shack in Basra, Western oil corporations salivate at their prospects in a post-Saddam Iraq. But it's not just the Exxon Mobils and Texacos. A recent report by Deutsche Bank says oil field services companies like Halliburton are in a prime position to profit from a war.
"We expect to see oil service contracts to rehabilitate old fields, but anticipate long-drawn-out negotiations on new fields," the report says, estimating the possible revenues to oil field services companies at around $1.5 billion. The New York Times reported on October 26: "Industry experts and the State Department have said that oil revenues will probably finance the rebuilding of Iraq, which has reserves second only to Saudi Arabia's."
Despite devastating U.S.-led economic sanctions, Iraq's stature as a global oil giant endures. Though it cranks out some three million barrels per day, the industry is in tatters. Under the oil-for-food program, Iraq is permitted to produce and sell an unlimited amount of its oil. But it does not control the revenue generated by these sales. The money is put into an account administered by a highly politicized group at the United Nations, known as the 661 Committee. Iraq must then apply for permission to use the funds to purchase goods or services on the world market. Consistently, the U.S. and Britain have blocked the importation of various goods, labeling them as "dual use"--meaning they could have military value. Over the last decade, this has included such items as pencils, chlorine, and ambulances.
Ultimately, the sanctions prevent Baghdad from carrying out any significant restoration of facilities damaged or destroyed by a decade of consistent U.S. bombing, beginning in the 1991 Gulf War. The prohibitions on importing spare parts or new machinery and equipment have largely blocked Iraq from producing oil at a level even remotely close to its projected capacity. More importantly, the stranglehold caused by sanctions has prevented Iraq from exploiting the untapped reserves of what it describes as gigantic oil fields.
Iraq's proven oil reserves total more than 112 billion barrels. Potential reserves are estimated at more than 200 billion barrels. Additionally, according to U.S. Department of Energy documents, Iraq contains 110 trillion cubic feet of gas.
"If you control the Iraqi oil, you are halfway there to controlling the world oil," says Dr. Faleh Al-Khayat, director general for planning at the Iraqi Oil Ministry. "And with your substantial hold on the Saudi fields, then you are in complete control of oil supplies for a long time to come."
The fields Al-Khayat refers to lie in southern Iraq: Majnoun and West Qurna (known as "The Giant"). These fields have lain largely idle for several decades, as they were repeatedly attacked during the Iran-Iraq war, as well as the Gulf War. Russia, which is owed some $8 billion by Iraq, has a $3.5 billion, twenty-three-year deal to rehabilitate Iraqi oil fields. Included in this agreement is the fifteen-billion-barrel West Qurna field. A 1997 deal between Baghdad and Moscow resulted in a plan for the Russian company Lukoil to begin oil production at the site. For years, Iraq has been negotiating a contract with the French company Elf for the lucrative twenty-billion-barrel Majnoun field. But, citing the U.N. sanctions, neither of these "friendly countries" moved much on the projects.
Last June, Iraq marked the thirtieth anniversary of its nationalization of foreign oil companies by announcing that it would no longer wait for the Russians or French. Iraq's oil minister, Amir Mohammed Rashid, accused them of "slackness" and bowing to pressure from the United States. Rashid announced that Baghdad was beginning immediate production at the two sites, saying it was a message to foreign oil companies that Iraq will not wait for them or an end to the sanctions. "We decided to move alone in developing these oil fields without any help," Rashid said.
Al-Khayat says Majnoun and West Qurna are "the greatest prizes of the oil industry in the world. We're talking about a half a million barrels each, at least. Together, that is as big as many OPEC countries. Now, we're talking about giant fields at the tip of the Gulf, on flat ground--not in the wilderness of Alaska or in the isolation of the Caspian Sea."
U.S. oil companies have lost out to Russian and French companies in bidding for Iraqi oil contracts. They hope to get a better shake at that oil under a post-Saddam regime. But as The New York Times reported: "Western energy companies have demurred from discussing the business possibilities in a post-Hussein Iraq, concerned that such talk would reinforce Baghdad's contention that the current conflict is driven by oil."
Demure all they want; the companies aren't convincing anyone at Iraq's Oil Ministry. "The United States principally would be very stupid not to exercise pressure," Al-Khayat says. "Especially in the Administration, which is led by the oiligarchs."
Before the Gulf War, American oil companies like Exxon and Mobil operated in Iraq. They utilized the wealthy Kirkuk field in northern Iraq and were partners in the discovery and exploitation of the prized Rumaila fields in the south. Al-Khayat says U.S. companies know the area "very well," and therefore know what they might eventually be missing.
"If I was the chairman of Exxon Mobil," Al-Khayat says, "I would be sitting at the doorstep of the State Department demanding that he should put pressure so that I would have a share in this." A diplomatic solution to the current crisis would be a disaster for U.S. corporations. But if the government in Baghdad is overthrown, the United States could declare an "all bets off" situation, paving the way for the Texacos, Exxon Mobils, and Halliburtons to move in.
Whoever controls Iraq's oil wealth, it's unlikely that the people who work in the industry will be better off.
Abu Mohammed lives in the poor Jumurriyah district of Basra. He is an imposing figure with rough, strong hands. He has worked throughout his adult life as an oil mechanic. Yet the meager salary that he earns from his work in the oil industry barely allows him to feed his family of eight, including two children with Down's syndrome. The minimal cost of education in Iraq is still too much for the family to afford, so only one of the children can attend school. The family lives in a rat-infested, decrepit hovel. Apart from a ceiling fan and a broken TV, they have no electrical appliances. They recently sold their refrigerator and electric cooker to repair a wall that crumbled.
Their residence is near an intersection that houses the garbage heap for their block. No one could remember the last time the massive, rotting mound was cleared away.
When foreign visitors enter Abu Mohammed's home, he offers nothing. His behavior is totally uncharacteristic of Iraqi hospitality. It emerges that nothing is offered because there is nothing to offer--not even tea. The family says their monthly food rations usually run out after twenty days. He tells a longtime foreign friend who has campaigned against U.S. policy not to visit anymore "because it is too painful." He simply has asked for a Caterpillar catalogue so he can see what modern equipment looks like.
Abu Mohammed is a proud and dignified man. He sits on the cement floor in his home, holding Haider, his teenage son with Down's syndrome, in his lap. The boy draws circles in the air as his father speaks. "I belong to a tribe and no matter what happens I will defend them," Abu Mohammed says. "Even this poor destroyed house is very dear to us. I will defend it, and I will not give it to anybody."
Outside, Abu Mohammed's children play near the murky, green water running in sewage ditches outside. His girls have worn the same dresses for years. Their father has given up wondering why anyone would want to punish him and his family so relentlessly. He says he and his wife do not speak with their children about the current situation.
"We don't want to scare them," he says. "What am I supposed to say? There will be a war and you will be dead?"
Jeremy Scahill is an independent journalist who reports for the nationally syndicated radio and TV show Democracy Now! He is currently based in Baghdad, Iraq, where he and filmmaker Jacquie Soohen are coordinating http://www.Iraqjournal.org, the only web site providing regular independent reporting from the ground in Baghdad.
From: "Ieneke van Houten" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: Harold Pinter speaks on American hysteria, ignorance, arrogance, stupidity and belligerence
Date: Mon, 9 Dec 2002
Turin Honorary Doctorate - November 27th 2002
I am deeply honoured to receive this degree from such a great university.
Earlier this year I had a major operation for cancer. The operation and its after-effects were something of a nightmare. I felt I was a man unable to swim bobbing about under water in a deep dark endless ocean. But I did not drown and I am very glad to be alive. However, I found that to emerge from a personal nightmare was to enter an infinitely more pervasive public nightmare - the nightmare of American hysteria, ignorance, arrogance, stupidity and belligerence; the most powerful nation the world has ever known effectively waging war against the rest of the world. "If you are not with us you are against us" President Bush has said. He has also said "We will not allow the world's worst weapons to remain in the hands of the world's worst leaders". Quite right. Look in the mirror chum. That's you.
The US is at this moment developing advanced systems of "weapons of mass destruction" and it prepared to use them where it sees fit. It has more of them than the rest of the world put together. It has walked away from international agreements on biological and chemical weapons, refusing to allow inspection of its own factories. The hypocrisy behind its public declarations and its own actions is almost a joke.
The United States believes that the three thousand deaths in New York are the only deaths that count, the only deaths that matter. They are American deaths. Other deaths are unreal, abstract, of no consequence.
The three thousand deaths in Afghanistan are never referred to.
The hundreds of thousands of Iraqi children dead through US and British sanctions which have deprived them of essential medicines are never referred to.
The effect of depleted uranium, used by America in the Gulf War, is never referred to. Radiation levels in Iraq are appallingly high. Babies are born with no brain, no eyes, no genitals. Where they do have ears, mouths or rectums, all that issues from these orifices is blood.
The two hundred thousand deaths in East Timor in 1975 brought about by the Indonesian government but inspired and supported by the United States are never referred to.
The half a million deaths in Guatemala, Chile, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Uruguay, Argentina and Haiti, in actions supported and subsidised by the United States are never referred to.
The millions of deaths in Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia are no longer referred to.
The desperate plight of the Palestinian people, the central factor in world unrest, is hardly referred to.
But what a misjudgement of the present and what a misreading of history this is.
People do not forget. They do not forget the death of their fellows, they do not forget torture and mutilation, they do not forget injustice, they do not forget oppression, they do not forget the terrorism of mighty powers. They not only don't forget. They strike back.
The atrocity in New York was predictable and inevitable. It was an act of retaliation against constant and systematic manifestations of state terrorism on the part of the United States over many years, in all parts of the world.
In Britain the public is now being warned to be "vigilant" in preparation for potential terrorist acts. The language is in itself preposterous. How will - or can - public vigilance be embodied? Wearing a scarf over your mouth to keep out poison gas? However, terrorist attacks are quite likely, the inevitable result of our Prime Minister's contemptible and shameful subservience to the United States. Apparently a terrorist poison gas attack on the London Underground system was recently prevented. But such an act may indeed take place. Thousands of school children travel on the London Underground every day. If there is a poison gas attack from which they die, the responsibility will rest entirely on the shoulders of our Prime Minister. Needless to say, the Prime Minister does not travel on the underground himself.
The planned war against Iraq is in fact a plan for premeditated murder of thousands of civilians in order, apparently, to rescue them from their dictator.
The United States and Britain are pursuing a course which can lead only to an escalation of violence throughout the world and finally to catastrophe.
It is obvious, however, that the United States is bursting at the seams to attack Iraq. I believe that it will do this - not just to take control of Iraqi oil - but because the US administration is now a bloodthirsty wild animal. Bombs are its only vocabulary. Many Americans, we know, are horrified by the posture of their government but seem to be helpless.
Unless Europe finds the solidarity, intelligence, courage and will to challenge and resist US power Europe itself will deserve Alexander Herzen's definition (as quoted in the Guardian newspaper in London recently) "We are not the doctors. We are the disease".
Mass Demonstration and the Convening of the Grassroots Peace Congress in Washington, D.C.
January 18 - 19, 2003
On January 18 and 19 tens of thousands of people will participate in mass protest activities on the Martin Luther King Jr. anniversary weekend.
The thousands who are coming to Washington, D.C., honor Dr. King and his legacy by opposing another criminal war - - this time not in Vietnam, but in the Middle East - - and by demanding instead that these hundreds of billions of dollars earmarked for war instead be spent on jobs, education, housing, health care and to meet human needs.
The grassroots Peace Congress will be comprised of delegations from all communities who are coming together in the streets and in a People's Congress to forge the opposition necessary to stop the Bush Administration's war drive: labor, students and youth, fighters for civil rights and women's rights, the LGBT community and people of faith.
More at http://www.voice4change.org/stories/showstory.asp?file=021112~vnw.asp
Sent by "Mark Graffis" <email@example.com>
Not Such a Super Power After All
Published on December 9, 2002 by the Guardian/UK
A new US poll shows that the world is falling out of love with America
by Peter Preston
Even the ambition is gargantuan. Only an American pollster like Pew would contemplate asking 38,000 people in 44 countries (speaking 63 languages and dialects) what they think of America. Only a superpower would try to take the world's temperature thus. The trouble is - when you hold their thermometer up to the light - the reading that comes back says this power isn't so super after all.
Take just a few out of thousands of figures. Nineteen countries with data available for comparison showed antipathy to the US on the rise, and goodwill draining away. Favorable ratings in western Europe, pretty consistently, were down five or six percentage points over the last three years. That turned to 22 points in Turkey and 13 points in Pakistan. Just 6% of the Egyptian public has a favorable view of the United States.
Is the spread of American ideas good or bad? Here in Britain, 50% say bad. But this soars to 67% in Germany, 68% in Russia, 71% in France - and rampant hostility the moment you get near the Middle East. Try Turkey at 78%, Pakistan at 81% and Egypt at 84%.
Does the US "consider others: not much/not at all?" Fifty-two per cent in Britain sign up on this line. But that's 73% in Canada, 73% in South Korea, 74% in Japan, 76% in France.
Do you reckon American policy towards Saddam is driven by getting its hands on Baghdad's oil? Forty-four per cent of Brits agree; 54% of Germans; 75% of French. Would you let the US use your bases to attack Iraq? Eighty-three per cent of Turks say no.
But maybe the most chilling question of the lot was reserved for Muslim respondents only. Did they approve of suicide bombing in defense of Islam? Seventy-three per cent in Lebanon said yes. Well, they would, wouldn't they? But what about the 43% in Jordan, the 44% in Bangladesh, the 47% in Nigeria, the 33% in Pakistan? And in Indonesia (including Bali)? Twenty-seven per cent said yes. Those are hundreds upon hundreds of millions of people with a totally different take on what constitutes terror. This is alienation on the grandest scale.
Now, of course, polls are only polls, a sampling through the autumn which can change with the seasons. And, of course, 44 countries don't represent the whole world. Some places - like Saudi - aren't hot on publics with any opinion. Some places - like Uzbekistan - appear to have gone overboard for smiling Americans bearing suitcases full of dollars. And, as with any survey of this complexity, there are counterflows. We quite like American movies, music and such. We benignly prefer a world where America is the "only superpower" - and 53% of Russians say this "makes the world a safer place". Yet it would be crazy to airbrush these findings away. They don't show a surge of sympathy and support over the months since 9/11. Precisely the reverse. They don't show trust and identification with American aims or American leadership. Rather the opposite. And the perception gap yawns ever wider. Only 20% of Americans think the US doesn't consider other countries much or at all. Eighty per cent of Americans believe it's good to see US ideas and customs spreading round the globe.
Here - very solemnly, indeed glumly - is the rub. A moment of profound disillusion, waiting to happen. A moment when phrases about the "world's only superpower" turn dusty on the lips.
We tend to talk of American hegemony as though it were established by force of arms. Tanks, planes, marines - and the cash to drive them on. That is the obvious fount of power. It is also the language of the politicians who sit in Washington. They take their physical dominance seriously; they have means of enforcing their policies and their ideologies - with or without outside assistance.
This isn't - before the steaming emails from points west begin flooding in - a matter of criticism. George Bush and Dick Cheney didn't hide their beliefs from the electorate in 2000, or even last month. Their reaction to the destruction of the World Trade Center has, in reality, proved pretty measured. They absolutely clearly have most - though not all - of the American public with them, for the time being at least. Dear Alistair Cooke, writing his increasingly blood-curdling letters from Manhattan, hears the sound of the patriot drum.
But there's a terrible limit to all this. The only superpower may, for a while, seek to ignore the rest of the world while it makes its plans and gives its orders. It may deride the distant wimps, wets and fanatics who decline to join the dance. It may enfold itself in a cocoon of grieving and determination. That is understandable.
It is also, though, totally at long-term odds with that bit of the American psyche which needs to be liked and respected, which needs the dream of a shining city on the hill to which peoples around the world aspire. An open society. A society that travels, cares, enjoys the fruits of globalization - and has no long-term means of shucking away unwelcome messages. Open societies could grow closed in the teeth of the cold war. They could demand obeisance with menaces. But the picture that Pew - an American institution - paints for America comes without menaces attached. It is one of hearts and minds being lost, of allies flaking away, of nations like Japan, Korea and Italy beginning to cross to the other side of the street. Can a "superpower" deal with such distrust and dislike? No: not if it needs to be loved.
- What the World Thinks in 2002 can be found on the Pew Research Center website, http://www.people-press.org
Also sent by "Mark Graffis" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
US Set to Use Mines in Iraq
Published on December 11, 2002 by USA Today
by Tom Squitieri
WASHINGTON - The Pentagon is preparing to use anti-personnel land mines in a war with Iraq, despite U.S. policy that calls for the military to stop using the mines everywhere in the world except Korea by 2003.
To prepare for a possible war with Baghdad, the Pentagon has stockpiled land mines at U.S. bases in countries ringing Iraq, according to Pentagon records. The decision to make the mines available comes despite a recent report by the General Accounting Office, Congress' investigative arm, concluding that their use in the 1991 Gulf War impeded U.S. forces while doing nothing to impair Iraqi forces.
Using the mines would stoke the international debate over the merits and morality of using land mines, which can remain deadly long after fighting ends.
From 15,000 to 20,000 people are killed or maimed worldwide each year by land mines, according to the United Nations. Of those, 80% are civilians and one-third are children.
Military experts say land mines can save soldiers' lives. They play a "vital and essential role" in battle by restricting where the enemy can move and protecting U.S. troops, said a Pentagon spokesman.
Officially, the Pentagon will say only that it "retains the right to use" land mines wherever it chooses, and that commanders can get approval to use them under rules designed to minimize risk to non-combatants. But critics say the risks to soldiers and civilians aren't worth it.
"It would be a terrible mistake for us to use land mines in Iraq," said Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., a prominent critic of land mines. "They are outmoded, indiscriminate weapons that have been banned by every other NATO member except Turkey, and they should be banned by the United States. We have other far more effective and precise weapons to do the job."
In advance of a possible war, Pentagon records show, the U.S. military has stored land mines in Bahrain, Qatar, Oman, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and on Diego Garcia, a British-owned island in the Indian Ocean where U.S. forces have a base.
In 1997, international negotiations produced a treaty to ban the use of land mines; 146 countries are parties to it. The United States has not signed the treaty, but in 1998 President Clinton directed U.S. armed forces to phase out use of land mines by 2003, except in Korea.
The Bush administration has been reviewing that policy. The Defense and the State departments have clashed over it, but for now the Clinton directive remains in effect.
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