Friday, October 07, 2005

(Late) morning copy 10.07.2005


There has been a lot of talk about the letter from Ayman al-Zawahiri to Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. But, this graf in the New York Times is important:

Mr. Zawahiri said in the letter, according to a partial translation provided by the official, who declined to provide verbatim translations of anything more than three sentences from the document. Under the ground rules for the briefing, the official cannot be identified.

But from a strategic point, it is good to know the enemy's (at least one of them) plans:

The letter outlines what the official described as a comprehensive and chilling strategic vision for Qaeda.

It includes a four-stage battle plan, beginning with the American military's expulsion, followed by the establishment of a militant Islamic caliphate across Iraq before moving to Syria, Lebanon and Egypt. The final step would be a battle against Israel.

Fred Kaplan's Slate lede:

President Bush's speech this morning, billed as a major statement about Iraq and the war on terror, was a sad spectacle—so ripe with lofty principles, so bereft of ideas on what to do with them. He approached the podium amid growing disapproval of his performance as a war president, ratcheting chaos and violence in Iraq, continuing terrorist attacks worldwide—and pleaded for nothing more than staying the course, with no turns or shifts, for a long, long time to come.

The Army's plan in the Washington Post:

The Army has embarked on a six-year plan to boost its combat power by 40,000 troops while reducing the number of noncombat jobs -- essentially giving the nation more forces to deploy without a costly increase in the active-duty Army's authorized strength of 482,000.

But the plan is based on two key conditions that remain far from certain: That no major new demand will arise for U.S. soldiers at home or abroad, and that the Army will be able to recruit between 75,000 and 80,000 new soldiers each year through 2011 -- a target the service missed this fiscal year, when 73,400 signed up.

Now the president compares this war to the Cold War, Los Angeles Times.

The road to hell is paved with good intentions, Salon:

"The Assassins' Gate" is almost certain to stand as the most comprehensive journalistic account of the greatest foreign-policy debacle in U.S. history.

Supreme Court

Add Charles Krauthammer to the list of promient conservatives upset at the Miers nomination:

If Harriet Miers were not a crony of the president of the United States, her nomination to the Supreme Court would be a joke, as it would have occurred to no one else to nominate her.


By choosing a nominee suggested by Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid and well known only to himself, the president has ducked a fight on the most important domestic question dividing liberals from conservatives: the principles by which one should read and interpret the Constitution. For a presidency marked by a courageous willingness to think and do big things, this nomination is a sorry retreat into smallness.

Expert analysis by Dan Balz:

The conservative project to reshape the judiciary long predates this presidency. This only heightened the surprise and resentment that the president has asked all those who have been in the vanguard of that movement to sublimate their feelings and now march in lockstep behind someone on his word alone.

Moreover, some conservatives regard it as patronizing for Bush to suggest Miers will continue to share his views on legal philosophy long after he leaves the White Houses.


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