Democracy Now! March 13, 2003

Program Title:
Democracy Now! March 13, 2003
Series Title:
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Prime Minister Tony Blair says Britain will deploy troops with or without UN backing: we talk to a Conservative Party MP who opposes war and former Labour Party Chair Tony Benn; Uniting For Peace : can the UN General Assembly trump the Security Council by invoking a little-known resolution, and stop the war?; Serbian Prime Minister Zoran Djindjic is assassinated: we ll go to Belgrade

8:00-8:01 Billboard: 8:01-8:06 Headlines 8:06-8:07 One Minute Music Break 8:07-8:20: Serbia is under a state of emergency today following the assassination of Prime Minister Zoran Djindjic. Djindjic was gunned down yesterday morning by unknown assailants in a sniper attack in broad daylight outside a Serbian government building in Belgrade. Deputy Prime Minister Zarko Korac told Belgrade s B90 radio today that despite a number of arrests overnight the main suspects behind the assassination of the premier are still on the run. His comments came after the government accused a Belgrade-based criminal gang for the murder and named around 20 of its alleged leaders. Korac said one of the prime suspects is an associate of the state security service. Prime Minister Zoran Djindjic was the chief organizer of the October 2000 democratic revolution that toppled Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic. He became Prime Minister when the coalition swept to victory in parliamentary elections in January, 2001. Djindjic eventually handed over Milosevic to the war crimes tribunal at the Hague in return for $1.2 billion in economic aid. He had many enemies because of his pro-Western, market-oriented reforms. He pursued a reform program the World Bank called the most rigorous pursued anywhere in post-communist Europe. Djindjic was often criticized for seeking too much power and for mercilessly fighting his rivals. His rivals called him Little Slobo. Guest: Stojan Cerovic, columnist for the Serbian magazine Vreme, which means Time in English. Guest: Vesna Peric Zimonjic, journalist and reporter for the Independent in London. 8:20-8:21 One Minute Music Break 8:21-8:40: British Prime Minister Tony Blair yesterday told Parliament that British forces will join a US invasion of Iraq even if a majority of the UN security council does not endorse an attack. The Guardian of London calls it the biggest political gamble of his life. Blair is facing massive public opposition to an invasion on Iraq within his own Labour Party, opposition parties, and the public. On Tuesday, US War Secretary Donald Rumsfeld sparked a furor when he suggested for the first time that Blair might not be able to support a US invasion due to British public opinion. Rumsfeld said he would not count out going to war without Britain. He said Britain s role in an invasion is QUOTE unclear. On Sunday, one of Britain s most powerful cabinet ministers dealt a powerful blow to Blair. International Development Secretary Clare Short called Blair's behavior reckless and said she will resign if Blair commits British troops without U.N backing, in violation of international law. We'll talk to Tony Benn, a former Labour MP who served in Parliament for over half a century, in a minute. But first, we hear from Conservative Party MP Douglas Hogg. He was also a foreign minister during the 1991 Gulf War with responsibility for Middle East policy. He supported the Gulf War but is speaking out against this one. Earlier today, our senior producer Kris Abrams asked Hogg his response to Tony Blair's announcement that he will commit British troops with or without UN backing. Tape: Douglas Hogg, Member of Parliament with the Conservative Party. He is a former Cabinet Minister under John Major, and a leading lawyer - a Queen's Counsel, or 'QC'. He was also a foreign minister during the 1991 Gulf War with responsibility for Middle East policy. He supported that war but is speaking out against this one. Guest: Tony Benn, longest serving Member of Parliament (51 years), former secretary of state and former chairman of the Labour Party, Tape: Tony Benn interviews Saddam Hussein, February 2003 8:40-8:41 One-Minute Music Break 8:41-8:58: A coalition of lawyers and activists are spearheading an effort to stop the war by invoking a little-known United Nations resolution called United for Peace. Under the procedure, the UN General Assembly can demand an immediate ceasefire and withdrawal. The Security Council adopted Resolution 377 so the UN can act even if the Security Council is stalemated. Resolution 377 states that if there is a QUOTE "threat to peace, breach of the peace, or act of aggression" and the permanent members of the Security Council can't agree on action, the General Assembly can convene and recommend measures to "maintain or restore international peace and security." The "Uniting for Peace" mechanism has been used ten times. It was most recently invoked by the US. When Egypt nationalized the Suez Canal in 1956, Britain, France, and Israel invaded Egypt and began advancing on the Suez Canal. U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower demanded that the invasion stop. Resolutions in the UN Security Council called for a cease-fire but Britain and France vetoed them. Then the US appealed to the General Assembly and proposed a resolution calling for a ease-fire and a withdrawal of forces. The General Assembly held an emergency session and passed the resolution. Britain and France withdrew from Egypt within a week. We're joined right now by two people who have been meeting with United Nations delegations about this little-known resolution. Guest:Michael Ratner, President, Center for Constitutional Rights Contact: Guest: Stephen Sawyer, Political Adviser for Greenpeace International. Sawyer has spent the last 25 years working on issues from climate change to peace and disarmament issues. Yesterday, he spent the day meeting with governments at the UN to talk about the Uniting for Peace resolution. Contact: 8:58-8:59 Outro and Credits Democracy Now! is produced by Kris Abrams, Mike Burke, Angie Karran, Ana Nogueira and Elizabeth Press. Mike Di Filippo is our music maestro and engineer.

Date Recorded on: 
March 13, 2003
Date Broadcast on: 
March 13, 2003
Item duration: 
59 min.
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WBAI; Amy Goodman, host., March 13, 2003
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