Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Morning copy 12.14.2005

The war over the war in Iraq

Michael Rubin, an AEI "scholar", in OpinionJournal:
Not only has the Iraqi march toward democracy proved naysayers wrong, but Iraqis' growing embrace of democracy demonstrates the wisdom of staying the course. Iraqis are changing political culture. Howard Dean and John Murtha may believe that the U.S. military has lost. Brent Scowcroft may think Arab democracy a pipe dream. They are mistaken.
Democracy is working in Iraq. Prove it? I did, I just wrote it.

New York Times, headline: "Police Seize Forged Ballots Headed to Iraq From Iran." More:
The official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly, said the Iranian truck driver told the police under interrogation that at least three other trucks filled with ballots had crossed from Iran at different spots along the border.
Paul Starobin writes the cover story this week for National Journal:
The Pentagon, meanwhile, months ago began reviewing the question of whether the Iraqi conflict could be seen as a civil war. Back in the spring, Army Col. Bill Hix, then the chief of strategy for multinational forces in Iraq, initiated a conversation with two political science professors at Stanford University about applying the civil-war prism to Iraq. The discussion centered on the questions of how, and how quickly, a low-grade civil war can become full-blown. The Stanford duo, James D. Fearon and David D. Laitin, told Hix, who left his position in August, that civil wars have often occurred despite the presence of "foreign stabilization forces," and they encouraged him to look at past civil wars in such oil-rich countries as Algeria, Angola, and Nigeria. "I understand that by your metric, we are already in the midst of a civil war," Hix replied to the professors in a May e-mail, "but for reasons that are both operationally convenient and, I also think, valid ... I disagree."
Christian Science Monitor on Sunni voter participation (remember to keep telling yourself, "democracy is working"):
In some cases, they are being driven to participate by a sense of disenfranchisement and a desire to gain more political sway in a country many see as being dominated by a powerful Shiite and Kurdish alliance.

They are also motivated by a strong anti-US sentiment that runs throughout much of the Sunni community. In fact, some Sunni politicians are even using images of dead insurgents to attract support among those who are sympathetic to Iraq's violent rebellion.
The New York Times:
They have been frustrated by the rule of the religious Shiite parties, fearful of their Iranian-trained militias and galvanized by anger over mass arrests and detentions - especially in light of the recent disclosures of mistreatment of prisoners by official Iraqi forces.

"Most of the leaders feel abandoned by the national government," said Capt. Chris Ortega, 28, the head civil affairs officer for the Second Battalion, Seventh Cavalry Regiment of the Third Infantry Division, charged with securing Tikrit. "They feel that because this is Saddam's hometown and province, they're being punished by the national government. They feel they're not getting the proper allocation of resources."
Washington Post:
Although U.S. officials consider the semiautonomous Kurdish region of northern Iraq a model of what the rest of the country could someday become, the attacks last week were another reminder that Iraqis have been slow to discard the politics of force and intimidation in the country's lurch toward democracy.
Bloomberg News has a more sensible "scholar" who realizes that the election and subsequent political developments in Iraq could break either way:
``We're now going to see the beginning of the process of governing,'' Magnus Ranstorp, a Middle East analyst at the Stockholm-based Swedish National Defense College, said in a telephone interview. ``The question is: will the groups be able to come together and work for the benefit of all by moving beyond ethnicity?''
Salam Pax via the Guardian:
I have to admit, it is pretty confusing. We Iraqis went from absolutely no elections for 30 years to having to vote three times within an 11-month period. I tell you, we're exhausted. And just as you expect some nasty ingredients in your fast food, so it is the case with instant democracy - it looks good, but you don't really want to know how they cooked it.
The Pentagon is increasing the priority given to "nation building" to make that effort equivalent to combat operations, Washington Times.

The Hill notes Senator Jack Reed's role as a Democratic pointman on Iraq:
But Democrats say his mix of military background, dedication to policy and lack of any obvious ambition for higher office lend credibility to his arguments on Iraq. It is a combination that sharply contrasts with the personas of many Democrats who have chosen to engage in the debate over the war.

A.P. on Detlv Mehlis' investigation into Syria's actions in the death of Rafik Hariri:
"It remains to be seen whether the Syrian cooperation will be in full and without any conditions," Mehlis told the council as he presented his latest progress report on the probe. He later added: "We definitely are not seeing full cooperation because that would be cooperation in a timely manner."
Domestic politics

On the McCain torture amendment, New York Times:
Some military officials said the new guidelines could give the impression that the Army was pushing the limits on legal interrogation at the very moment when Mr. McCain, Republican of Arizona, is involved in intense three-way negotiations with the House and the Bush administration to prohibit the cruel treatment of prisoners.

In a high-level meeting at the Pentagon on Tuesday, some Army and other Pentagon officials raised concerns that Mr. McCain would be furious at what could appear to be a back-door effort to circumvent his intentions.

"This is a stick in McCain's eye," one official said. "It goes right up to the edge. He's not going to be comfortable with this."
The U.S. House of Representatives is close to passing a very tough anti-immigration law, conceptually different from George W. Bush's proposal in substantial ways (read: bad for business. bad for immigrants. bad for earning sympathy from the largest growing minority population that has a religious streak and conservative family values, generally speaking. read: what are they thinking, as everyone in the Congress has a pretty safe seat, save for a few.) Immigrants not in the country legally will become felons overnight, New York Times.

The USA Today on journalism and the Pentagon:
WASHINGTON — A $300 million Pentagon psychological warfare operation includes plans for placing pro-American messages in foreign media outlets without disclosing the U.S. government as the source, one of the military officials in charge of the program says.
The USA Today also has a story on Senator Arlen Specter (R., Penn.), who says he is not sure how he will vote on Samuel Alito's nomination.

Maybe I should just quit...

The New York Times says that conservative bloggers are more effective.


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