Asia Pacific Report 50
Selected Excerpts


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    Asia Pacific Report Number 50, 24th February 2003

    In this Issue:
    1. Iraq, War and Global Terrorism:
    2. Australia: Howard's Pre-emption Doctrine
    3. Indonesia: Wild Claims
    4. Mexico: Tequila Sunrise: From 'Basket Case' to Going Concern.
    5. Cambodia: The Anti-Thai Riots

    1. IRAQ, WAR and GLOBAL TERRORISM
    Our opinion is that the sooner the US acts in Iraq to remove Saddam Hussein the better, preferably as the leader of an international coalition of states, which has always seemed likely, and, even better, with the support of the United Nations, which now seems possible. We believe that the case against Saddam was made years ago. Like Slobodan Milosevic, he should have been forced from power long ago and brought before an international tribunal for, among other things, crimes against humanity including his own people whom he systemically tortures, rapes, starves and murders; for war crimes in Iran and Kuwait involving, among other things, the use of mustard gas and in his own country for using women and children as human war shields; and for programs of genocide against the Kurds and the Marsh Arabs. It is estimated that well over a million people have been brutally put to death in Iraq by his regime because he hated them racially or because they disagreed with him politically.
    Threats to the WorldApart from that, the US and other nations believe, with very good reason, that Iraq is a direct and indirect military threat to the citizens of the US, the Middle East and much of the world, including Australia. This is because of its developing arsenal of weapons of mass destruction (WMD), its nuclear potential and its links to and support for global terrorists and revolutionary guerrillas, including al Qa'ida, Abu Sayyaf and Jemaah Islamiah who already have militarily attacked Americans, Australians, Indonesians and Europeans and other peoples around the world. (See below for more on Iraq-al Qa'ida connections).
    If President Bush goes to war, the primary reason will be to help defend his country and its people and assets around the world against further military attacks. If Prime Minister John Howard commits Australia to that war, he will be doing so in order to protect his people from further Bali-type attacks within Australia and elsewhere. And, ultimately other countries will join in for essentially these same reasons. It is time that the United Nations and its conventions were brought into line with the real, new world where serious, and even nuclear, threats emanate not only from sovereign states but revolutionary guerrillas with global reach. Whatever happens in Iraq, we are already at war.
    ArgumentsWhile we don't wish to get into a discussion canvassing all the pros and cons for a war against Iraq, we would like to make two comments:
    (i) It is argued in some circles that the US is guilty of a double standard for while it wants to strip Saddam of his WMD, it has such weapons itself and, even worse, will not forswear using them. Well, in any civilised society or nation, some people are allowed, indeed obliged, to carry weapons while others are outlawed from doing so. We do not allow criminals, gangsters and killers to carry sub-machine guns or roam the streets in tanks. Similarly the international community, in this case in the shape of the United Nations, has resolved that Nazi-like totalitarian psychopathic dictators and genocidal mass murderers like Saddam cannot possess WMD, including nuclear weapons, and should be stripped of them, and especially in Saddam's case because he has actually used chemical and biological weapons against others. Reinforcing that resolve is the understanding that Saddam believes in the purification of the soul through violence - through war, extermination and individual killings. (See below on What Saddam Believes). The US is now insisting, in the wake of September 11 and its realisation of the true potential of the Iraq-al-Qa'ida terrorism nexus, that the UN enforce its own resolutions. A policy of containment can no longer be effective, because the guerrillas are everywhere across the globe in a matrix of networks. After the Iraq issue is settled, the US will no doubt want action against other countries possessing or seeking similar weapons and who have links with international terrorists and guerrilla groups - nations like North Korea and Iran.
    (ii) Removing Saddam is, in our view, a prerequisite to dealing with Iran and the irrational threats North Korea poses to Asia and the US. It would also help considerably in Palestine and make it easier for the Saudis to deal with their problems with radicals and terrorists who, as we know, have blackmailed the governments of most of the nations in the Middle East for years. However, as President Bush has said, different threats and problems require different strategies. The US and its allies believe that the removal of Saddam will significantly change and ease many problems in the Middle East and is a necessary step if they are to move forward in the Israeli/Palestinian conflict.
    Most people understand that Saddam is a genocidal monster who, among other evils, gasses his own people; kills any significant political opposition, including those who oppose him in the boardroom; jails children of his cabinet ministers in order to keep them under control; executes members of his family who do not agree him; invades oil-rich neighbours such as Kuwait and Iran and threatens others such as Saudi Arabia in the hope of dominating the Persian Gulf and the Arabian peninsula in order to control its OIL and therefore as much of the world as he can. (It is Saddam, not Bush, who wishes to control the world's oil supplies).
    However, less is known about what motivates Saddam ideologically; what beliefs shape his thinking and vision and ultimate goals. Yet, obviously this is of fundamental importance in making any judgement about him, including what he might do in any given situation. Not knowing his ideology is like not understanding Hitler's Nazism or the nature of Ho Chi Minh's Leninism.
    For the following insights we are almost entirely indebted to an article by DAVID BROOKS, a senior editor at the Washington journal The Weekly Standard. His article was reprinted the Melbourne journal The Review, December 2002. The points made below have been liberally quoted, edited and expanded upon from that article.
    AFLAQISMSaddam's ideology derives from the ideas of his mentor and friend Michel AFLAQ who founded the socialist, pseudo-Marxist and Leninist Syrian and Iraqi Ba'ath parties. Saddam grew up through his teenage years as a cadre within the Leninist totalitarian cell-based structure of the Ba'ath Party where his whole world was what the party taught. As Brooks says Saddam is not "a general who took over a government by means of a military coup. He's not only a thug, a ruthless tribal leader, a Don Corleone-style godfather, a power-mad dictator. He is first and foremost a political activist, a party man."
    So, what does he believe?
    Point One: Above all else, he believes that the Arabs are the master race whose history and accomplishments are glorious. Like Hitler, his ideology is primarily racist.
    Two: He has a mystical belief in the purification of the soul through violence, the notion that the soul is elevated through warfare and violence.
    Three: He believes that life is a relentless struggle, of ever-widening wars and confrontations, of permanent revolution in the name of "some final and transcendent conquest for himself and the Arab Nation", says Brooks.
    Four: That the Ba'ath party is not a secular party, but is a believer's creed, similar in faith and purpose to early Islam, which, in Saddam's words, offers "spiritual ascendance in the process of the nation's uplift".
    Point Five: Saddam's mentor Aflaq, rejected all Western thought and denied that Western ideas could have any relevance to the higher civilisation of the Arabs.
    Six: Arab nationalism, as Aflaq conceived it, is not a secular concept. The Arab nation for him, and Saddam, is a transcendent spiritual force, a bit like Hegel's concept of the Spirit of History. The Arab nation is the ideal around which human history ascends. Arabs obtain spiritual perfection when they achieve solidarity with the Arab nation and purge themselves of the cancerous influences of the West.
    Seven: Arguing that all three great religions originated in the Middle East, Aflaq asserted that since religion entered Europe from the outside, it is alien to its character and history. Europeans and Americans, he believed, cannot really be Christian or religious or highly spiritual in the rich way Arabs can. (Osama bin Laden has said similar things).
    The Apparatus of YearningsEight: From the outset, the Ba'ath Party (i.e. the Arab Socialist Ba'ath Party, ABSP, to give it its full name) separated the world into the party of pure good (the Ba'athists) and the party of pure evil (just about everyone else). Once in power, the party behaved, in some respects, like ruling Leninist parties do everywhere. It built a parallel party structure on top of the normal government bureaucracy. It established its own army in addition to the regular Iraqi army and its own intelligence service, which at first was given the otherworldly name The Apparatus of Yearnings. Ambitious young people were compelled to join the party if they hoped to rise, or even study abroad. Leaving the party to join another political group remains to this day a crime punishable by death.
    Nine: The inferiority of other peoples is a frequent Saddam refrain. He has said that while Arabs should never become communists - because there is nothing they could profitably absorb from a European idea - it was perfectly acceptable for Africans, Asians and other races to do so.
    Ten: A sense of his eschatological frame of mind can be obtained from some of his speeches. For example, in January 2002, that is after 9/11, he declared: "The Americans have not yet established a civilisation, in the deep and comprehensive sense we give to civilisation. What they have established is a metropolis of force... Some people, perhaps including Arabs and some Muslims... consider the ascent of the United States to the summit as the last scene in the world picture, after which there will be no more summits and no one will try to ascend and sit comfortably there. They considered it the end of the world as they hoped for, or as scared souls suggested it to them." As Brooks commented, Saddam seems to be saying here that someday there will be a great historical culmination between the Arab and Western worlds. (The Mother of All Wars, perhaps?)
    Eleven: Saddam has also had some interesting things to say about his concept of the permanent revolution. For example:
  • "That is why a Revolution has no beginning and no end; it is not like a war, and its soldiers must not profit from its spoils. It is something continuous, it is a message to life, and the human being is only the bearer of the message... The Revolution has its eyes wide open. Throughout all its stages, the Revolution will remain capable of performing its role courageously and precisely without hesitation or panic, once it takes action to crush the pockets of the counter-revolution."
  • Like all totalitarians, Saddam has made it clear that even facts must give way to the revolution. In 1977, he said: "The writing of history must take on the same specificity as our Ba'athist way; in other words the writing of Arab history should be from our point of view with an emphasis on analysis and not realistic story telling".
  • In July 2002, he emphasised that all principles, even Ba'ath principles, are relative. "Truth" is determined by the revolution's immediate needs. Hence "Real Ba'athists refuse to be guided by the principles of their founding...they are guided by the needs of the future...It is ascension, ascension, and ascension....Our decisive criterion when there are various alternatives and visions in front of us, is not the modest picture, but the highest and the purest state."
  • Twelve: In conclusion, Brooks says, "In dealing with Saddam...we are not dealing with a normal thug or bully, but with a missionary whose lofty ideology has not changed in four decades, even as it has acquired over the past few years, some Islamist drapery...Saddam Hussein has taken awful risks throughout his career not because he 'miscalculated', as the game theorists asset, but because he was chasing his vision. He was following the dictates of the Ba'athist ideology, which calls for warfare, bloodshed, revolution, and conflict, on and on, against one and all, until the end of time."
    Osama and Saddam - Similarities and DifferencesWhat perhaps is most striking about the above is how similar, in many ways, Saddam's totalitarian world view is to that of Osama bin Laden, despite them coming from different philosophical positions and, ultimately, they hope, travelling to different destinations. (Not unlike Hitler and Stalin during the Nazi-Soviet Pact). Not surprisingly, both of them believe in the destruction of the West and each of them believes - however fantastic it might seem to most of us - that he possesses the ability to defeat the US (just as another totalitarian madman, North Korea's Kim Jong-il, believes he can defeat the US in a nuclear exchange - at least eventually.)
    Both Saddam and Osama have compatible, if not similar, direct and indirect strategies in their attacks on the US and the West.
    Whether or not there is any communication between the two (and it is hard to believe there is not, at least indirectly), each of them knows that the other is waging war on the same global battlefield as himself; that they have some common, intermediate, if not ultimate, objectives; and that they each have different roles to play in respect of those objectives. Osama and Al Qa'ida are concerned primarily with guerrilla warfare, terrorism and political warfare - that is, with mounting surprise terrorist attacks, building political infrastructure and waging global urban insurgency. Saddam's role on the other hand is to pose a large-scale regional threat to the Middle East through the deployment of deliverable nuclear and other WMD, while giving whatever financial, training and other support he can to anti-Western and Islamic revolutionary guerrillas and terrorists wherever he can. Since the war on Afghanistan, the latter has assumed a new importance because he still has sovereign state resources which al Qa'ida lost when the Taliban regime fell.
    Both Saddam and Osama hope that their global warfare will lead to the West breaking down and breaking apart, while millions of Muslims convert to Islamism, overthrowing moderate Muslim regimes around the world. Saddam has a further, and perhaps conflicting, objective of militarily and politically dominating the Persian Gulf and Arabian peninsula through the threat of his WMD, thereby controlling much of the world's oil supplies and indeed the world itself.
    As we said in APR 48, ultimately they can't win, perhaps not anywhere, but they have the potential to cause us a lot of damage, and over many years.
    Apart from what the US Secretary of State, Colin Powell, said to the United Nations about the links between Iraq and Al Qai'da and other terrorists, which in the circumstances should have been enough to convince anyone, our intelligence sources in North and Southeast Asia say that there has long been evidence of such connections in the region. For intelligence security and military operational reasons, Powell was limited in what he could reveal. Our sources in the region are similarly limited, but they have seen the classified evidence and the secret documentation.
    What follows below is based on that.
    Most people these days accept that Iraq, along with other Middle Eastern countries, is a significant financial and political supporter of the Palestinian organisation HAMAS and its military and terrorist wing, the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigade. Much has been made of Saddam's public financial support to the families of HAMAS suicide bombers in Israel. Unfortunately, however, most people think of HAMAS only, or overwhelmingly, in respect of Palestine. But it operates much more widely than that.
    It is also an international organisation with support and action groups in many countries and throughout the Muslim world, including the Philippines, Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia. This international HAMAS network receives Iraqi support, just like HAMAS in Palestine.
    In the early nineties, HAMAS in the Philippines built an extensive network of NGOs, charitable organisations and small commercial enterprises to propagate radical Islamic or Islamist causes and provide fronts for its support of terrorist organisations in the Southern Philippines and elsewhere including the ABU SAYYAF GROUP (ASG) and the MORO ISLAMIC LIBERATION FRONT (MILF). However, the main front it used was the Islamic Student Association of the Philippines (ISAP) which was comprised of both foreign and Filipino radical Muslims students. While many of the foreign students were Palestinians on Jordanian passports, it was headed in the early nineties by Khalid Jubair, a Pakistani and Ahmad al Hamwi a Syrian. From this safe Philippine base, HAMAS operated into Southern Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia.
    At the same time another extensive front network of NGOs and commercial enterprises was built in Manila and the southern regions of the Philippines by Mohammad Jamal KHALIFAH, a brother-in-law of Osama bin Laden. This al-Qa'ida group became known as the KHALIFAH NETWORK. Khalifah's right hand man was an Iraqi named Abdul Salam Zubair. The main organisations in the network were the International Relations and Information Center (IRIC), and a branch of the Saudi based International Islamic Relief Organisation (IIRO). There were another seven or eight organisations in the group, all of them headed by Arabs. The Kalifah Network had extensive and regular contacts with the HAMAS organisations, with MILF and the Abu Sayyaf Group. Indeed, Mohammad Khalifah recruited the Abu Sayyaf founder, ABUBAKAR JANJALANI and in every way helped him build his organisation. From his Manila office, he financed most of Abu Sayyaf's terrorist guerrillas and intelligence officers and operations through IIRO.
    Even more interestingly, another operative building a base and network in Manila at that time and one who was also well connected there into HAMAS, the Khalifah Network, MILF and the ASG was RAMZI YOUSEF, the man who planned and carried out the 1993 bomb attack on the World Trade Centre and plotted the hijacking of 11 US Airliners over the Pacific. He also drew up plans in Manila to hijack aircraft in the US and fly them into the Pentagon. From the outset, it was strongly believed that Yousef (aka Abdul Basit Karim) was a trained Iraqi intelligence officer, while one of the terrorists not caught following the 1993 WTC attack, was Abdul Rahman Yasin, an Iraqi American, who had lived in Banghdad before the attack and who escaped back there after it and is suspected to still live there. And there is more, for Yousef's uncle, Khaled Shaikh Mohammad, who also participated in the 1993 WTC attack and who lived with Yousef in Manila, is now wanted as one the major masterminds, if not the mastermind behind 9/11. It is not surprising, therefore, that many Americans believe or fear that there was Iraqi and Saddam involvement in the September 11 attack.
  • In recent times, the Philippine Armed Forces and Philippine National Police have arrested or captured groups of Abu Sayyaf terrorists only to find that about half of them were Iraqis. (Often married to Filipinos for cover and other operational reasons).
  • HAMAS, Abu Sayyaf , MILF and other al Qa'ida connected organisations around the region in Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia are parts of the regional umbrella organisation, JEMAAH ISLAMIAH (JI), which was responsible for the Bali bombings last October. Indeed, since JI is the regional manifestation of al Qa'ida, all of these regional groups are parts of al Qa'ida.
  • Further to the point, our sources around Southeast Asia say that throughout the late eighties and nineties officials and operatives of Saddam's totalitarian BA'ATH PARTY regularly coursed through the region linking up with radical Islamic political and terrorist groups and other political organisations and NGOs offering financial and other support and inviting Asians to the Middle East. Many of these Ba'ath party officials were also Iraqi intelligence officers.
  • Australians should not be surprised at this, for in an earlier period Ba'ath Party officials travelled around Australia with the Australian Labor Party's 'BAGHDAD BILL' HARTLEY, offering, among other things, to finance ALP election campaigns.
  • Yet, despite all of the above, we are told by some people that there is absolutely no evidence of connections between Iraq and foreign terrorist organisations. What sort of political analysis is that? What game is being played?
  • In our view, people who claim that (a) Iraq does not or may not, possess WMD, because it is somehow unproven or (2) that there are no links or proven links between Iraq and global terrorist groups including al Qai'da, are either naive or acting mischievously, for the political evidence is plainly there. When asking what is actionable evidence in politics and warfare, it is worthwhile pondering the following anecdote from the world of science where many people expect things to be empirically or forensically proven beyond doubt before acceptance. When Einstein put forward E=mc2, it was neither mathematically derived nor experimentally discovered, but the result of one of his "thought experiments". It wasn't validated experimentally or 'proven' for more than 30 years, yet nearly all physicists accepted it as true and acted upon it. It was very much intuition all round. It's a pity some people can't see or sense obvious truths in politics just as easily.
  • A Final point: The Australian Leader of the Opposition, Mr. Simon Crean, is one of those people who has claimed that Bush, Blair and Howard have not produced sufficient evidence for either the existence of Iraqi WMD or of any connection between Iraq and terrorist organisations. This is a very strange statement for a number of reasons. One of them is that Bush, Blair and Howard have all said that their statements have been made primarily on the basis of secret intelligence, which for intelligence security and military operational reasons, they may not be able to fully substantiate publicly. As Leader of the Opposition, Crean is privy to a great deal of the intelligence received by Howard, if not most of it. He seems to be saying, therefore, that not only does he distrust Bush, Blair and Howard, but also American, British, Australian and other intelligence services around the world. This is a very strange position for a politician who aspires to be prime minister of Australia.
  • 5. CAMBODIA: THE ANTI-THAI RIOTS
    Why would Cambodian Prime Minister, Hun Sen, provoke the vicious and extensive anti-Thai riots that destroyed Thai properties and businesses in Phnom Penh and other places throughout Cambodia, leading to the evacuation of thousands of Thai nationals? Indeed, he not only provoked them, but the Cambodian police and military stood aside and let the rioters run and burn, strongly suggesting that Hun Sen had organised the whole thing.
    A number of theories have been put forward, most of them containing some plausibility. Here's our theory. Through much of its recent history, the country has been divided between pro-Thai and pro Vietnamese Cambodians. Cambodia, like Laos, has been both a buffer state and battleground between an expansionist Vietnam and a defensive Siam. Hun Sen, like all Khmer Rouge types, is a pro-Viet Khmer; while many of his political opponents over the years such as Son Sann, members of the royal family like Prince Ranariddh, and going back further to the Lon Nol/Sirik Matak regime, have been pro- Thai. In recent years, peace in Cambodia coupled with Thailand's economic prosperity, has seen a rapid expansion of Thai trade and investment in Cambodia. We suspect that Hun Sen was becoming very uncomfortable with this increasing Thai presence and influence and, especially with elections approaching. So he decided to cut it down through riots disguised as a spontaneous outbreak of the Khmer people's 'nationalistic fervour'.


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