Please Change Encoding
to Western European(ISO)
& select the fittest Text Size
Last updated: 5 November, 2005
IRAQ and the U.S.A
Stingy? Not with WMD and War
As the body count from the tsunami rises, America's international reputation plummets to new depths, thanks to
the Bush administration's smugly incompetent response.
While other world leaders immediately put forward action plans and solid donations, Bush has spent most of the past critical week on holiday at his Texas "ranch," riding his mountain bike and avoiding the press. Predictably, only allegations of stinginess increased the White House's initial measly offer of $15 million for the relief effort to a grand total of $35 million.
But it's unfair to say the Bush administration is stingy - it just has different priorities. The White House has so far requested roughly $100 billion for the occupation of Iraq in FY 2005, which translates to about $8.3 billion per month, or over $270 million per day (eighteen times more than the administration's first offer of help to tsunami victims). And that's only Iraq. The US military budget request for FY 2005 was 420.7 billion dollars - double that of China, Russia, the UK, France and Germany combined.
Of course, perpetual war requires a lavish arsenal so the US spends further billions each year perfecting its weapons of mass destruction. In 2004 alone, a full $6 billion was earmarked for federal biological weapons programs, dedicated to destructive pursuits including bringing back elements of the 1918 Spanish flu (which killed 40 million people) and producing even deadlier strains of anthrax. Meanwhile, the US budget for nuclear-weapon activities in fiscal 2004 topped $6 billion, which is twelve times more than allocated on securing/reducing existing stockpiles or on non-proliferation efforts. Also factor in the $10 billion Bush requested in FY 2005 for his failed missile "defense" program, a budget almost double what the Department of Homeland Security pays for the crucial activities of customs and border patrol.
In other words: it's not a problem of money. The Bush administration has ample funding available for war and for coming up with increasingly barbaric means of killing, just not much left over to help out in global humanitarian catastrophes.
How ironic that Bush uses Christianity as a cynical PR tool but fails to grasp the biblical proportions of this tsunami disaster. How glaring that the administration brags about its superior morality and devotion to family values, but shows no empathy in the face of overwhelming human tragedy. And how embarrassing that after the outpour of love and support the US received with 911, this is all our government can come up with in return.
by Heather Wokusch - 31st December, 2004
Search for Banned Arms In Iraq Ended Last Month
Critical September Report to Be Final Word
By Dafna Linzer
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, January 12, 2005; 1:00 PM
The hunt for biological, chemical and nuclear weapons in Iraq has come to an end nearly two years after President Bush ordered U.S. troops to disarm Saddam Hussein. The top CIA weapons hunter is home, and analysts are back at Langley.
In interviews, officials who served with the Iraq Survey Group (ISG) said the violence in Iraq, coupled with a lack of new information, led them to fold up the effort shortly before Christmas.
Four months after Charles A. Duelfer, who led the weapons hunt in 2004, submitted an interim report to Congress that contradicted nearly every prewar assertion about Iraq made by top Bush administration officials, a senior intelligence official said the findings will stand as the ISG's final conclusions and will be published this spring.
Asked if the ISG had stopped actively searching for WMD, White House spokesman Scott McClellan said today: "That's my understanding." He added, "A lot of their mission is focused elsewhere now."
Duelfer "is continuing to wrap things up at this point on an addendum to the report which will be issued sometime next month," McClellan said. "That's not going to fundamentally alter the findings of his earlier report."
President Bush, Vice President Cheney and other top administration officials asserted before the U.S. invasion in March 2003 that Iraq was reconstituting its nuclear weapons program, had chemical and biological weapons, and maintained links to al Qaeda affiliates to whom it might give such weapons to use against the United States.
Bush has expressed disappointment that no weapons or weapons programs were found, but the White House had been reluctant to call off the hunt, holding out the possibility that weapons were moved out of Iraq before the war or are well hidden somewhere inside the country. But the intelligence official said that possibility is very small.
Duelfer is back in Washington, finishing some addenda to his September report before it is reprinted.
"There's no particular news in them, just some odds and ends," the intelligence official said. The Government Printing Office will publish it in book form, the official said.
The CIA declined to authorize any official involved in the weapons search to speak on the record for this story. The intelligence official offered an authoritative account of the status of the hunt on the condition of anonymity. The agency did confirm that Duelfer is wrapping up his work and will not be replaced in Baghdad.
The ISG, established to search for weapons but now enmeshed in counterinsurgency work, remains under Pentagon command and is being led by Marine Corps Brig. Gen. Joseph McMenamin.
Intelligence officials said there is little left for the ISG to investigate because Duelfer's last report answered as many outstanding questions as possible. The ISG has interviewed every person it could find connected to programs that ended more than 10 years ago, and every suspected site within Iraq has been fully searched, or stripped bare by insurgents and thieves, according to several people involved in the weapons hunt.
Satellite photos show that entire facilities have been dismantled, possibly by scrap dealers who sold off parts and equipment to buyers around the world.
"The September 30 report is really pretty much the picture," the intelligence official said. "We've talked to so many people that someone would have said something. We received nothing that contradicts the picture we've put forward. It's possible there is a supply someplace, but what is much more likely is that [as time goes by] we will find a greater substantiation of the picture that we've already put forward."
Congress allotted hundreds of millions of dollars for the weapons hunt, and there has been no public accounting of the money. A spokesman for the Pentagon's Defense Intelligence Agency said the entire budget and the expenditures would remain classified.
Several hundred military translators and document experts will continue to sift through millions of pages of documents on paper and computer media sitting in a storeroom on a U.S. military base in Qatar.
But their work is focused on material that could support possible war crimes charges or shed light on the fate of Capt. Michael Scott Speicher, a Navy pilot who was shot down in an F/A-18 fighter over central Iraq on Jan. 17, 1991, the opening night of the Persian Gulf War. Although he was initially reported as killed in action, Speicher's status was changed to missing after evidence emerged that he had ejected alive from his aircraft.
The work on documents is not connected to weapons of mass destruction, officials said, and a small group of Iraqi scientists still in U.S. military custody are not being held in connection with weapons investigations, either.
Three people involved with the ISG said the weapons teams made several pleas to the Pentagon to release the scientists, who have been interviewed extensively. All three officials specifically mentioned Gen. Amir Saadi, who was a liaison between Hussein's government and U.N. inspectors; Rihab Taha, a biologist nicknamed "Dr. Germ" years ago by U.N. inspectors; her husband, Amir Rashid, the former oil minister; and Huda Amash, a biologist whose extensive dealings with U.N. inspectors earned her the nickname "Mrs. Anthrax."
None of the scientists has been involved in weapons programs since the 1991 Gulf War, the ISG determined more than a year ago, and all have cooperated with investigators despite nearly two years of jail time without charges. U.S. officials previously said they were being held because their denials of ongoing weapons programs were presumed to be lies; now, they say the scientists are being held in connection with the possible war crimes trials of Iraqis.
It has been more than a year since any Iraqi scientist was arrested in connection with weapons of mass destruction. Many of those questioned and cleared have since left Iraq, one senior official said, acknowledging for the first time that the "brain drain" that has long been feared "is well underway."
"A lot of it is because of the kidnapping industry" in Iraq, the official said. The State Department has been trying to implement programs designed to keep Iraqi scientists from seeking weapons-related work in neighboring countries, such as Syria and Iran.
Since March 2003, nearly a dozen people working for or with the weapons hunt have lost their lives to the insurgency. The most recent deaths came in November, when Duelfer's convoy was attacked during a routine mission around Baghdad and two of his bodyguards were killed.
Outgoing US ambassador defends UN
The outgoing US ambassador to the United Nations has said criticism of the UN should not detract from its importance to the world.
Speaking at his last Security Council meeting before retiring, John Danforth said the UN had proved it was vital for maintaining stability in the world.
Mr Danforth urged Washington to listen to the UN and be open to the views of others, even if they were critical.
He also defended the US, which was trying "to do the right thing".
Mr Danforth announced his retirement in November, after spending less than six months in the post.
No-one has yet been found to replace him.
'Place to listen'
Mr Danforth said his time at the UN had proved to him that he organisation was important for the stability of the world and for the welfare of the US.
"It's very important, I think the stronger you are, to be a country that listens and that takes onboard the views of others even though we may not end up agreeing with those views," he said.
"The UN is the place where the US can speak, it's also a place where we can listen, whether we end up agreeing or disagreeing with what he hear."
But the BBC's Susannah Price at the UN says Mr Danforth's ringing endorsement has not always been shared by the American government.
Washington was slow to support the UN Secretary General, Kofi Annan, after some US conservatives called for his resignation over corruption allegations involving the oil-for-food programme in Iraq.
The ambassador said there were areas on which to criticise the UN, such as allegations of sexual abuse of girls in the Democratic Republic of Congo by UN peacekeepers.
However, he also noted achievements such as the response to the Indian Ocean tsunami disaster and the UN's role in pressurising the Sudanese government and rebels to sign a peace agreement ending 20 years of civil war in the south of the country.
Story from BBC NEWS
Published: 2005/01/13 20:23:19 GMT
Support for War in Iraq Hits New Low
Most no longer back the administration's basis for invading, but a majority say U.S. troops should stay longer to assist with stabilization.
By Doyle McManus, Times Staff Writer
January 19, 2005
WASHINGTON -- Support for the war in Iraq has continued to erode, but most Americans still are inclined to give the Bush administration some time to try to stabilize the country before it withdraws U.S. troops, the Los Angeles Times Poll has found.
The poll, conducted Saturday through Monday, found that the percentage of Americans who believed the situation in Iraq was "worth going to war over" had sunk to a new low of 39%. When the same question was asked in a similar poll in October, 44% said it had been worth going to war.
But when asked whether the United States should begin withdrawing troops after Iraq's election Jan. 30, 52% said the administration should wait to see what the new Iraqi government wanted. More than a third, 37%, said the United States should begin drawing down at least some of its troop strength.
Americans are almost evenly divided over how long U.S. forces should stay in Iraq, the poll found: 47% said they would like to see most of the troops out within a year, while 49% say they could support a longer deployment -- including 37% who say the troops should remain "as long as it takes" to secure and stabilize the country.
The results suggest that while Americans have grown more pessimistic about the chances for success in Iraq, most are willing to give President Bush some time to try to turn the operation into a success.
"We are seeing lower support for the war, but I would have expected it to be even lower... given that the main rationale for the war -- the weapons of mass destruction -- turned out not to be there," said John Mueller, a political scientist at Ohio State University who is an authority on wartime public opinion.
Mueller noted that support for the war had been falling gradually since the United States invaded Iraq in March 2003, but that the erosion had not produced a majority in favor of early troop withdrawals.
"Support for this war is now lower than support for the Vietnam War was at the Tet offensive," Mueller said, citing the 1968 battles that were a turning point in U.S. public opinion then. "But in Vietnam [after Tet], the war continued for several years, and many people continued to support it through enormous casualties."
In Iraq, he noted, the number of U.S. casualties has been far lower than in Vietnam, a probable reason that public pressure for withdrawal has not mounted higher.
On the other hand, public support for increasing U.S. troop strength in Iraq -- a proposal Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and several other members of Congress have made -- is negligible, the poll found. Only 4% of respondents said they would favor increasing American forces after the Iraqi election.
Respondents to The Times poll were downbeat about the results of the war in Iraq on several counts.
Asked which side -- the United States or the anti-American insurgents -- was winning the war or if it was a stalemate, 58% said that neither side appeared to have the upper hand, while 29% said they believed the United States was winning and 10% said the insurgents were winning.
Respondents were divided on whether the Jan. 30 election was likely to be a turning point leading to a significant improvement in Iraq's stability: 31% said they thought it would have a positive effect, 34% said they expected no significant effect, and 27% said they thought the election would actually lead to more violence.
Respondents also were divided on whether the election would help advance democracy in the Middle East, one of the Bush administration's main goals: 47% said it would probably advance democracy, but 45% said it probably would not.
But 59% said they favored holding the election on schedule despite fears of violence on election day. Over a third, or 35%, said the vote should be postponed.
Almost half, or 45%, said they believed the war had destabilized the Middle East; 24% said they thought it had a stabilizing effect. In April 2003, 52% thought that military action against Iraq would stabilize the situation in the Middle East.
And a large majority, 65%, said they believed the war in Iraq had harmed the United States' image around the world. Only 10% said the U.S. image had been helped.
The Times poll, supervised by polling director Susan Pinkus, surveyed 1,033 adults. It has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.
US and allies 'kill most Iraqis'
Coalition and Iraqi troops may be responsible for killing 60% more non-combatants in Iraq than the insurgents, the BBC has learned.
The civilian death toll for the last six months is contained in confidential records obtained by Panorama.
More than 2,000 civilians were killed by the authorities, while insurgent attacks accounted for 1,200 deaths.
The Iraqi Ministry of Health figures are usually available only to members of Iraq's cabinet.
The data covers the period 1 July 2004 to 1 January 2005, and relates to all conflict-related civilian deaths and injuries recorded by Iraqi public hospitals. The figures exclude, where known, the deaths of insurgents.
The figures reveal that 3,274 Iraqi civilians were killed and 12,657 wounded in conflict-related violence during the period.
Conflict-related civilian deaths in Iraq. July 2004 to January 2005|
|aaaaaaaaa3,274 civilians killed in total |
|aaaaaaaaa2,041 by coalition and Iraqi security forces|
|aaaaaaaaa1,233 by insurgents|
|aaaaaaaaa12,657 civilians wounded in total|
|aaaaaaaaa8,542 by coalition and Iraqi security forces |
|aaaaaaaaa4,115 by insurgents|
Of those deaths, 60% - 2,041 civilians - were killed by the coalition and Iraqi security forces. A further 8,542 were wounded by them.
Insurgent attacks claimed 1,233 lives, and wounded 4,115 people, during the same period.
Insurgents have typically used car bombs to target Iraqi security forces, killing many civilians in the process.
Attacks have multiplied in the run-up to the election on 31 January.
Panorama interviewed US Ambassador John Negroponte shortly before it obtained the figures. He told reporter John Simpson:
"My impression is that the largest amount of civilian casualties definitely is a result of these indiscriminate car bombings.
"You yourself are aware of those as they occur in the Baghdad area and more frequently than not the largest number of victims of these acts of terror are innocent civilian bystanders".
The coalition has yet to respond to the figures.
There are no official records for the numbers of Iraqi casualties since the start of the conflict.
Unofficial estimates of the civilian toll vary from 10,000 up to 100,000.
Panorama's film Exit Strategy, reported by BBC world affairs editor John Simpson from Baghdad
Published: 2005/01/29 11:19:33 GMT
Iraq data 'includes rebel deaths' |
|Iraqi health ministry figures for deaths in violence cannot differentiate between those killed by coalition forces and insurgents, officials say.|
The BBC's Panorama programme reported coalition and Iraqi security forces were responsible
for most civilian conflict deaths in the past six months.
But the health ministry says that its figures were misinterpreted.
"The BBC regrets mistakes in its published and broadcast reports," said a BBC spokesman.
The Iraqi figures said that 3,274 people died in conflict situations in the period July-December 2004.
Of these, 2,041 of those were categorised as the result of "military operations" while 1,233 were blamed on "terrorist operations".
But the health ministry says those recorded as dying in military action included people killed by insurgents, not just those killed by troops from the multinational force or Iraqi security bodies.
The deaths recorded included those of militants as well as civilians, officials said.
The statistics also showed that 12,657 people were injured by the continuing violence in the same
Monday 10 January 2005, 16:40 Makka Time, 13:40 GMT
The influential Association of Muslim Scholars in Iraq has met a senior US embassy official and offered to call off an election boycott in return for a US timetable for troop withdrawal.
US embassy spokesman Bob Callahan said on Monday the offer was made at a meeting on Saturday with the Association of Muslim Scholars (AMS), which has previously called on Iraqis to boycott the 30 January ballot.
But chances of Washington setting such a schedule for the withdrawal of roughly 150,000 troops are slim.
"That was their offer to us," said Callahan. "We have no intention to establish a timeline for withdrawal from Iraq at present. The Iraqi government agrees."
Members of the AMS were not immediately available for comment.
The talks suggest that with only three weeks before Iraqis go to the polls, efforts are under way to heal rifts over US attacks on Sunni areas and encourage the community once dominant under ousted leader Saddam Hussein to take part in the political process.
No timetable set
Callahan declined to name the US official who met the AMS officials to discuss Sunni participation in the election, but said it was not ambassador John Negroponte.
The mainly Sunni Muslim AMS has always said it would not field candidates for elections while foreign troops remained in Iraq.
But it went a step further in the build-up to a US assault on Falluja in November by calling on Iraqis to boycott the vote itself, dealing a blow to polls already threatened by relentless violence.
US rejects AMS' poll conditions
Berlusconi contradicts US friendly-fire account
James Sturcke and agencies
Wednesday March 9, 2005
The Italian prime minister, Silvio Berlusconi, said today the driver of the car in which an Italian agent was killed by US forces in Iraq last week had obeyed orders to stop.
Mr Berlusconi said the car, which was taking the freed Italian hostage Giuliana Sgrena to Baghdad airport, pulled up immediately when American soldiers flashed a warning light at it.
The prime minister told the Italian senate that the intelligence agent Nicola Calipari, who received a state funeral in Rome on Monday, had US military authorisation for his operation to secure the release of Ms Sgrena.
Mr Berlusconi's version of events contradicts the initial statement from American forces, which said they fired on a speeding car, killing Mr Calipari and wounding Ms Sgrena and another agent, only after it failed to stop at a checkpoint.
In his first substantial address since Friday's shooting, Mr Berlusconi said the idea that Mr Calipari was killed by friendly fire was "painful" to accept. But he said he was assured the US was committed to getting to the bottom of the shooting.
"The US has no intention of evading the truth. I'm sure that in a very short time every aspect of this will be clarified," he said.
In his 10-minute address he made no mention of ransom payments to win Ms Sgrena's release. Some Italian officials have suggested a ransom was paid, but there has been no official confirmation.
"The case of friendly fire is certainly the most painful to bear," Mr Berlusconi said. "It feels like an injustice beyond any sentiment. It's something unreasonable.
"When Italian citizens have been victims of kidnappings, the government has always acted by following two directives: it has always rejected political blackmail, while at the same time activating all the political, diplomatic and intelligence channels to obtain the release of our nationals," he said.
Meanwhile, it emerged today that the US president, George Bush, has promised Italy a "fast and thorough" joint investigation into the killing of Mr Calipari. In a letter to the Italian president, Carlo Azeglio Ciampi, Mr Bush lamented the "tragic incident", Mr Ciampi's office said in a statement.
The Italian government has also called the shooting an "accident" but disputes the US version of events and demands that Washington shed light on the incident and punish those responsible.
Mr Berlusconi, a staunch supporter of the war in Iraq, sent 3,000 troops to the southern part of the country after the ousting of Saddam Hussein. Ms Sgrena, a journalist with the anti-war daily Il Manifesto, was taken hostage in Iraq on February 4.
The US military opened a separate inquiry today into the shooting of a Bulgarian soldier who Bulgarian officials believe may have been killed accidentally by coalition troops
From Guardian Unlimited Special report Italy
Thousands at UK anti-war protests
Protesters in the UK have been marching against the war in Iraq - two years after the US-led assault began.
Police say about 45,000 people joined a demonstration in London, while organisers put the figure at 100,000.
There was also a protest in Glasgow and demonstrations took place in over 30 cities across the world as part of an international day of action.
Protesters placed a coffin outside the American Embassy in London with the words "100,000 dead" written on it.
The coffin had been carried at the head of the march by two soldiers, George Solomou and Ray Hewitt, who left the army in protest at the war in Iraq.
"The Army have to understand that people in this country are saying no to this war in a big way. It's illegal, immoral and unjust and I won't be any part of it," Mr Hewitt said.
"I disagreed with it to start with because I was suspicious of the weapons of mass destruction claims - I saw the Iraqi army in 1991 and we destroyed it. The 45-minute claim was a lie."
The 34-year-old, from Bracknell in Berkshire, was a full-time lance corporal with the Royal Signals and served in a chemical reconnaissance vehicle in the first Gulf War before becoming a reservist in 1992.
Vigils were also held in Falkirk, Dumfries, Ullapool and Kirkwall.
Speaking of Italy's plans over troops in Iraq, Tony Blair told the House of Commons on Wednesday that security would be taken over by the Iraqi forces over a period of time.
"We've always said we should leave as soon as possible once the Iraqi forces are in the position where they are capable of dealing with their own security," he said.
On Saturday, Stop the War Coalition chairman Andrew Murray told the crowd: "We have tried to deliver a letter to the American Embassy. We have not been able to do that.
"It is in the name of the thousands of people demonstrating here today and we are going to tape a copy of the letter to this coffin."
Coalition co-founder John Rees said: "There is a very intense sense among people here that this is the last chance they will get before the general election to show what they think."
The Bring the Troops Home march, organised by the Stop the War Coalition, wound its way from Hyde Park past the American Embassy, in Grosvenor Square.
It ended in Trafalgar Square where speakers, art and entertainment were on hand at a so-called peace camp.
Members of the coalition, the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) and the Muslim Association of Britain took part in the rally.
Kate Hudson, of CND, said: "We will be marching because we reject warmongering foreign policy as well attacks on our civil liberties at home.
"We are calling for an end to the occupation of Iraq but we are also asking the question - where next Mr Bush?"
In Glasgow, the names of some of the UK, US and Iraqi victims of the war were read out, along with a "name and shame" list of MPs who backed the war.
The coalition said the protest had been "hardened" by the nomination of Paul Wolfowitz - widely thought to be an architect of the war - as chairman of the World Bank
From BBC Saturday, 19 March, 2005, 20:45 GMT
Two Years After Iraq Invasion, Protesters Hold Small Rallies
March 20, 2005
By ROBERT D. McFADDEN
Two years after the American-led invasion of Iraq, relatively small crowds of demonstrators - the home guard of the antiwar movement - mobilized yesterday in New York, San Francisco and cities and towns across the nation to condemn the war and demand the withdrawal of allied forces.
Thousands joined similar protests in European cities. On both sides of the Atlantic, the protests were passionate but largely peaceful, and nowhere near as big as those in February 2003, just before the war, when millions around the world marched to urge President Bush not to attack.
The American crowds ranged from about 350 in Times Square to several thousand in San Francisco. And in contrast to the vociferous rage of demonstrations two years ago, yesterday's protests were mostly somber and low-key, with marchers carrying cardboard coffins in silence to the beat of funereal drums, with rally speakers alluding often to the war dead and subdued crowds keeping behind police barriers.
Still, defiant resolution swirled in the afternoon air. "I don't like it," Ed Hedemann, 60, of Brooklyn, said of his impending arrest at a Flatbush Avenue recruiting station. "But there comes a time when, with the killing that's going on now, people have to stand up and say no. If that means getting arrested, that's a small sacrifice to make."
No serious injuries or clashes between demonstrators and the police were reported, although insults were exchanged by protesters and counterprotesters. Three dozen people were arrested in New York for blocking traffic or doorways at military recruiting centers, but these were choreographed with the time-honored rituals of civil disobedience, and restraint on all sides seemed to be the order of the day.
It was the last day of winter, but in many parts of America spring was in the air. In New York, the trees were bare silhouettes and the wind that scythed up from the rivers was cold. But a brilliant sun gilded the proceedings, and by midafternoon protesters were basking in temperatures in the high 40's.
Beyond New York and San Francisco, protests unfolded in Chicago, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, San Diego and what organizers said were 725 other cities and towns, places like Evergreen, Colo., where 13 people turned out to confront their neighbors with peace signs, and Algoma, Wis., where 8 people attended a "Bring Home the Troops" demonstration.
"We had no police problems," said Jill Bussiere, the protest leader in Algoma, population 3,353. "I called the police about a week ago, letting them know we would be there on the sidewalk, not blocking traffic. We were quite well received - many waves, some peace signs and thumbs up, a few beeps."
In communities large and small, the message was the same: End an unjust war that has killed more than 1,500 Americans and thousands of Iraqis, that has cost hundreds of billions of dollars and left America with frayed alliances and ugly images as occupiers and torturers.
In New York, the protesters carried simulated coffins draped in black shrouds and American flags. They taunted President Bush for the never-found weapons of mass destruction that were one of his stated justifications for war. They ridiculed his administration's color-coded barometer of terrorism threats and mocked its military recruiting slogans - the "Army of One," and "The Few, the Proud, the Marines."
Several thousand protesters marched from Harlem to Central Park for a rally where Representative Charles B. Rangel declared, "What we are doing here today is not popular, but it's the right thing to do." In Brooklyn, 300 people from two rallies that began miles apart converged on a military recruiting station at Flatbush Avenue near Lafayette Avenue. And in the Bronx, a vigil was held at a recruiting office.
In Midtown Manhattan, 350 protesters rallied at Dag Hammarskjold Plaza near the United Nations and, carrying simulated coffins to the beat of a snare drum, marched in silence to Times Square. More than two dozen - apparently volunteers for arrest - kneeled outside the recruiting station, then moved into the middle of Broadway between 43rd and 44th Streets and blocked traffic.
The police ordered them to move. In response, the protesters went limp, sprawling in the roadway. They were handcuffed with plastic strips and lifted onto a police truck, which took them away. Traffic was blocked for about five minutes. The police said later that 36 people had been arrested for disorderly conduct - 27 in Times Square, 8 in Brooklyn and one in Harlem.
Under the banners of a broad coalition of antiwar groups, including United for Peace and Justice and the War Resisters League, the protests were part of a weekend of marches, rallies, prayer gatherings, candlelight vigils, hip-hop concerts and other events to mark the second anniversary of the war's start.
The protesters included families with small children, students, professional and working people, veterans and families of service personnel, religious groups and many middle-aged and older people. Numbers were hard to gauge, but it seemed likely that tens of thousands took part across America.
In Europe, the gatherings were also modest compared to the 2003 protests. But 45,000 people marched in London in the day's largest protest. In Istanbul, Turkey, 15,000 demonstrated. In Spain, protests unfolded in nine cities, including Madrid and Barcelona. About 3,000 demonstrators halted traffic in Athens, and there were protests in Rome, Oslo, Stockholm and other cities.
President Bush did not comment on the protests, which seemed unlikely to have any significant effect on national policy or on the glacial movement of public opinion in America. But Mr. Bush, in his weekly radio address, defended the invasion of Iraq, noting that Saddam Hussein had been captured and an elected National Assembly installed in Baghdad to write a new constitution.
"On this day two years ago, we launched Operation Iraqi Freedom to disarm a brutal regime, free its people and defend the world from a grave danger," the president said.
Those missions, he said, have been accomplished.
Mr. Bush concluded, "Because of our actions, freedom is taking root in Iraq, and the American people are more secure."
In San Francisco, several thousand people marched through intermittent rain from a park to a rally at the Civic Center, carrying signs proclaiming "College Not Combat," and "Military Recruiters Lie." In Fayetteville, N.C., near Fort Bragg, the home of the 82nd Airborne Division and many of the special-forces units fighting in Iraq, 2,000 people, including veterans and families of service members, rallied in a park to hear speeches against the war. About 100 simulated coffins covered with American flags were on the ground. The tenor of the day was somber, with many references to the war dead.
In Chicago, about 1,000 protesters marched, watched by hundreds of police officers. At least two were arrested for refusing to move from Michigan Avenue, which had not been designated for the protest. Officers pushed others away and herded them into a park. Some protesters were indignant.
"It's not the 60's any more," said Erin Stephens, 23. "No one's putting daisies in the guns. It is a constitutional protected right to do this, and there's way too many police out here."
Reporting for this article was contributed by Ann Farmer, Janon Fisher, Corey Kilgannon and Colin Moynihan from New York; John DeSantis from Fayetteville, N.C.; Carolyn Marshall from San Francisco; and Gretchen Ruethling from Chicago.