Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Morning copy 11.30.2005

The war over the war in Iraq

Mark Mazzetti and Borzou Daragahi, in the Los Angeles Times, report that U.S. troops have authored news stories that are then placed in the Iraqi press:
Many of the articles are presented in the Iraqi press as unbiased news accounts written and reported by independent journalists. The stories trumpet the work of U.S. and Iraqi troops, denounce insurgents and tout U.S.-led efforts to rebuild the country.
This morning President George W. Bush will detail a document described as declassified and entitled the "National Security Strategy for Victory in Iraq".

The New York Times' report notes that "strategy for victory" was a catchphrase used by Don Rumsfeld recently and that the plan will look like:
The Pentagon now spends $6 billion a month to sustain the American military presence in Iraq. A senior administration official said Mr. Bush's ultimate goal, to which he assigned no schedule, is to move to a "smaller, more lethal" American force that "can be just as successful."
Two components of that smaller, more lethal force are the use of airpower, as reported this week in the New Yorker by Seymour Hersh, and military advisors working with Iraqi troops.

Note this nontimetable-timetable in Bloomberg News:
The reductions may begin as soon as April if there is improvement on the political and military fronts, said one administration official, speaking on condition of anonymity. Bush won't mention any starting point, and no administration official would speak on the record about expectations for when troops may be redeployed.
Los Angeles Times via the Seattle Times: Bush is taking a risk by relying on the Iraqi military:
But the experts also see a calculated risk being taken by the White House — that the highly suspect Iraqi military now can become the main protective force for the nascent government in Baghdad. That assessment is widely disputed by military specialists inside and outside the administration.
Howard LaFranchi, in the Christian Science Monitor, details the positive and negative aspects of the still reforming Iraqi force. On the positive side, the troops stand their ground and fight more efficiently than last year. However, there are concerns about their equipment, training and commitment to human rights.

My great fear is a Shiite controlled military and/or police creating a reactionary anti-government movement in al Anbar similar to the I.R.A. in Northern Ireland. One major component in "standing up" Iraqi units is that these units must be Iraqi in composition and in practice. Sectarian allied units will do the country more harm than good.

Dana Milbank, in the Washington Post, on Don Rumsfeld:
Last weekend, while other Americans were watching football and eating leftover turkey, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld ended the Iraqi insurgency.

It was easy, really: He declared that the insurgents would, henceforth, no longer be called insurgents.
The New York Daily News notes a slightly more concillatory tone from Hillary Clinton on her war vote:
"I take responsibility for my vote," she said, "and I, along with a majority of Americans, expect the President and his administration to take responsibility for the false assurances, faulty evidence and mismanagement of the war."
The media went overboard on the first Tuesday after the first Monday in declaring George W. Bush a deceased political animal. Republicans like Jon Kyl in Arizona and Marilyn Musgrave in Colorado are more than willing to have the president at a fundraiser and hitch their wagon to his star, Denver Post.

The Tennessean: A mounting toll in Iraq has some in Clarksville, Tennessee calling for a withdrawal:
With confirmation this week of the two most recent deaths, some residents of this superpatriotic town yesterday said enough is enough.

"Don't let any more of them young boys die. I say bring them home, bring them all home," said Sandy Meriwether, 64, chowing down on a favorite meal of white beans and cornbread at Frank's Hamburgers on North Second Street.
The Washington Post reports on the notion of withdrawal affecting Iraqis and troops:
"We all want the withdrawal," Nasir Abdul Karim, leader of Anbar province's Albu Rahad tribe, told scores of the armed Marines and Sunni sheiks, clerical leaders and other elders at the gathering Monday in Ramadi, 60 miles west of Baghdad. "We all believe it is an illegitimate occupation, and it is a legitimate resistance."

"We're committed to withdrawing," responded Brig. Gen. James L. Williams of the 2nd Marine Division, "as soon as we have strong units" in the Iraqi army to replace U.S.-led forces. "I understand the resistance," Williams added, commenting later that he was referring to the peaceful opposition to the U.S. presence in Iraq. "But you must understand we're military people. People who are shot at will shoot back."
More news...

In the interest of time (and me not being late for work) ledes.

Los Angeles Times:
SACRAMENTO — Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, launching an overhaul of his administration, is poised to hire a former Democratic Party activist and high-ranking aide to Gray Davis as his new chief of staff, sources familiar with the negotiations said Tuesday.
The Hill:
Rep. Randy “Duke” Cunningham (R-Calif.) will soon relinquish many of his properties and his freedom after pleading guilty to charges of fraud and conspiracy, but he will keep his government pension and could retain the privileges enjoyed by other former members of Congress.
The Boston Globe:
WASHINGTON -- Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice promised Germany's foreign minister yesterday that the United States would respond to a European Union inquiry into secret CIA prisons allegedly operating in Eastern Europe.
Corruption and the Congress

Bruce Bartlett in the Washington Times:
When Republicans no longer stand for any sort of principle, it becomes a simple matter to use power just to reward your friends or those with connections. Things like the Abramoff scandal are the logical consequences. A renewed commitment to principle is the best antidote.

In the words of conservative New York Post columnist John Podhoretz: "As is often the case when reformers take the reins of power, they've become mirror images of those they replaced. They've grown especially interested in rewarding their friends, punishing their enemies and using government power for their own narrow partisan ends."


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