Today's Papers

Sticks and Drones

The papers lead with roundups on the latest developments concerning Iraq. As the Bush administration makes its final diplomatic push to secure the votes it needs at the U.N. Security Council, Iraq issues its own set of demands to the U.N.

The New York Times says that officials in Washington are debating whether to proceed with a vote at the Security Council if it becomes clear that a loss there would be inevitable. The Los Angeles Times, however, quotes a British official who believes the support exists to pass the U.S.-Britain resolution. “The problem is, no one wants to be the first country to come out and take a stand,” he says.

The U.S. has given no indication that it will compromise beyond its March 17 deadline. Yesterday, as Iraq reportedly destroyed six more Al-Samoud missiles, Bush dismissed the act as a “public show.” In his weekly radio address, Bush said American intelligence “shows that even as [Saddam] is destroying these few missiles, he has ordered the continued production of the very same type of missiles.”

According to the NYT, the Iraqi government issued a statement saying that the latest U.N. weapons inspectors’ report deemed the country sufficiently free of weapons of mass destruction. The statement calls for the U.N. to end sanctions imposed on Iraq after the 1991 Persian Gulf War. The Washington Post adds that Iraq calls upon the Security Council to denounce the United States and Britain as “liars.”

Both the NYT and WP report that the U.S. and Britain are already making air strikes, attacking mobile radar systems in Iraq. According to the NYT, U.S. aircraft struck Iraqi targets 230 miles west of Baghdad, along the Iraq-Jordan border. The WP says aircraft are attacking southern Iraq.

In another article, the NYT says that U.S. and British special forces units are operating “deep” inside Iraq. Despite public opposition, Jordan’s King Abdullah II has quietly assented to allowing these troops to base themselves in Jordan’s eastern desert as they make their push westward. Jordanian officials say that no offensive missions will be flown from the west. In the LAT, a top Saudi official says that his nation is allowing U.S. troops to use two of its airports near the Iraq border, but they will be allowed there only in a defensive posture.

The CIA warns that terrorists may attack U.S. forces in Iraq after an invasion, the NYT reports. The agency cautions that terrorists may try to blend in with the Iraqi civilian population and may use explosives or toxins. The report also says there are four Al-Qaida “second- or third-tier leaders” in Baghdad.

The LAT, in an article headlined “ON IRAQ, CONGRESS CEDES ALL THE AUTHORITY TO BUSH,” the paper bemoans the decline of the legislative branch: “Back in ‘the world’s greatest deliberative body,’ the U.S. Senate spent most of last week mired in a partisan brawl over a single federal judge. The House, meanwhile, squabbled over a tax bill laden with special-interest goodies and passed a resolution mourning the death of Mister Rogers.”

The NYT reefers, and the other papers go inside with, the news that Israel has killed a top leader of Hamas. Ibrahim al-Makadmah and his three bodyguards were victims of missile fire by two Israeli helicopters. Hamas has vowed revenge for the killings. The paper also reports that Yasser Arafat has nominated Mahmoud Abbas, a critic of the Palestinians’ armed uprising, to the new post of prime minister. Abbas, who does not have much of a popular following, signed the Oslo Accords and has often clashed with Arafat.

The U.S. is getting out of one war, the WP reports inside. As soon as all missing Americans are accounted for, the Bush administration wants to pull out troops out of Colombia and have that country shoulder more of the military and financial burden for fighting its guerrilla war. Colombian President Alvaro Uribe wants more U.S. involvement, arguing that the battle with drug guerrillas is akin to the U.S. war on terrorism, but the Bush administration isn’t buying it. “This is a Colombian problem that the Colombians will have to solve,” says Marc Grossman, U.S. undersecretary of state for political affairs.

Another WP story inside reports that swarms of rebels in the Ivory Coast attacked the 3,000 French troops stationed there. The French army, in the area to protect French citizens and to police a cease-fire in the former colony, said it took seven hours to beat back the rebel attacks.

According to an AP report carried by the WP today, a new study by Dr. Mark A. Pereira of Boston’s Children’s Hospital has shown that fast food and obesity are linked. Not exactly a news flash, as the article points out. More interesting, however, is the study’s findings that, for reasons that remain unclear, this doesn’t apply to black men and women.