Top US generals and members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff are saying Iraqi President Saddam Hussein poses no immediate threat and the US should continue its policy of containment rather than invade. According to the Washington Post, their conclusion is based in part on intelligence assessments of the Iraq’s nuclear, chemical and biological weapons programs and his missile delivery capabilities.
Meanwhile, British Prime Minister Tony Blair has been told by the British government’s own lawyers that British participation in an invasion of Iraq would be illegal without a new United Nations mandate.
But none of this seems to be stopping the hardliners in Washington:
**The New York Times is reporting some senior administration and Pentagon officials are advocating a new approach: taking Baghdad and one or two key command centers and weapons depots first, in hopes of cutting off the country’s leadership and causing a quick collapse of the government.
Advocates of this "inside-out" approach say it reflects a strong desire to find a strategy that will not require a full quarter-million US troops. US allies in the Gulf are quietly advocating the quickest and smallest military operation possible, to lessen anti-American protests on their streets.
But something close to 250,000 troops might have to be deployed to the region anyway, to make sure that any forces that drop into Baghdad do not become isolated or surrounded.
**Meanwhile, more than 20,000 US marines are being readied for deployment in the Gulf by mid-October.
**Russian media cite sources in the Gulf as saying that the US military has set up "tent cities" in Kuwait, Bahrain and Qatar. US weapons manufacturers like Boeing continue to work around the clock to meet the Pentagon’s demands.
**Iraq reported U.S. and British warplanes struck southern Iraq again on Sunday. The assault was the second reported in less than a week in the southern no-fly zone.
***The Senate Foreign Relations Committee will hold hearings on Iraq this week. Every single so-called "expert" that has been called to testify supports a war against Iraq.
Two people who have insider knowledge of Iraq have not been invited, but they are with us today on Democracy Now!
Activists and anti-war groups across the US are participating in a national call in day today to demand that the Senate Foreign Relations Committee call people like Scott Ritter and Hans von Sponeck to testify at hearings set for Wednesday July 31 and Thursday August 1 on US military plans regarding Iraq.
- Hans von Sponeck, former Humanitarian Aid Coordinator for Iraq for Iraq from 1998-2000. He served the UN for 32 years and resigned from his post in protest in February 2000 in protest of the US-led sanctions on Iraq.
- Scott Ritter, former chief U.N. weapons inspector in Iraq.
- Kathy Kelly, founder of Voices in the Wilderness, a Chicago-based campaign to end the economic sanctions against the people of Iraq. They have called a national call-in day today to get Denis Halliday, Scott Ritter, and Hans von Sponeck included in the Congressional hearings.
- Call the Senate Foreign Relations Committee at this number: 202-224-4651.
- Names of witnesses can be faxed to 202-228-1612