Tuesday, March 07, 2006

News roundup 03.07.2006

The Long War (in Iraq)

In a strange way, today's big stories about Iraq are all kinda' sorta' related. How long will the United States be there? A long time, if this administration has its way.

Dick Polman has a question from former Senator Gary Hart:
"Are we or are we not building permanent military bases [in Iraq]? I keep trying to get anybody [in the press] to ask about this. ... I'll tell you what I mean by permanent: pouring concrete and welding steel. Yes or no? Not tents and ditch latrines. Concrete bases and structures. Yes or no? They [the Bush people] have never disavowed it. ... You can't say you are leaving Iraq if you're also welding the steel. Why can't we seem to find out? I know the Republican Congress will not do its job of asking questions, even though that's the job of Congress.
Great question! Fortunately no one in the media seems to care. I do. Balad is a big freaking base, meant to last. Here's a (folksy) Washington Post story on that base from last month:
The 20,000 troops based at Balad, home to the major Air Force operation in Iraq and also the biggest Army logistical support center in the country, live in air-conditioned containers. Plans are being made to wire the metal boxes to bring the troops Internet, cable television and overseas telephone access.

Balad is scheduled to be one of the last four U.S. bases in Iraq and probably will be the very last, officials say. "Balad will be here, I believe, to the very end," said Brig. Gen. Frank Gorenc, the Slovenian-born F-15 pilot who commands the Air Force side of the operation.
Borzou Daragahi has the other big story:
BAGHDAD — The top U.S. envoy to Iraq said Monday that the 2003 toppling of Saddam Hussein's regime had opened a "Pandora's box" of volatile ethnic and sectarian tensions that could engulf the region in all-out war if America pulled out of the country too soon.

In remarks that were among the frankest and bleakest public assessments of the Iraq situation by a high-level American official, U.S. Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad said the "potential is there" for sectarian violence to become full-blown civil war.
This analyst in Dubai also sees Iraq as a long term issue for the region, Los Angeles Times:
"Iraq's a bomb that can eventually explode beyond control," said Mustafa Alani, a security analyst with the Gulf Research Center in Dubai. "Civil war may not be imminent, but what kind of government will you have there? The danger is over the long term, and it's creating a lot of apprehension. What will the Shiites do? Where will the foreign fighters go? You have to look from all dimensions."
The intent of this administration is to have United States bases in the Middle East, originally with a favorable partnership in Iraq -- at least that was what they were saying before the war. Most Iraqis don't want us in that country, but this administration wants to stay there.

The Los Angeles Times: "Britain Aims to Leave Iraq by Mid-'08"

The Christian Science Monitor reports on the delay in forming the Iraq government.

More from the Middle East

The Times of London: "Israel threatens to kill Hamas prime minister-designate"

The Los Angeles Times:
JERUSALEM — In a sharp challenge to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, the Hamas-dominated parliament Monday annulled a series of measures by the outgoing legislature aimed at strengthening the president's powers.

Hours later, tensions were stoked when an Israeli airstrike in Gaza City killed two Palestinian militants and three passersby, one of them an 8-year-old boy. Israel acknowledged having carried out the "targeted killing" of an Islamic Jihad field operative it said was responsible for a number of attacks against Israelis. It expressed regret over any civilian casualties.
The Los Angeles Times on Iran:
"I am not that fundamentalist, but I love my country," says Habari, a 31-year-old publishing company employee, chain-smoking in Tehran's Mellat Park recently, as he gazed at the spectacularly white Elburz Mountains.

"We don't like being accused by America or any other country. There are all these countries developing nuclear power: India, Pakistan and Israel. Why don't the Americans threaten them?"

Habari represents a strong strain of opinion here: nationalism mixed with a feeling that Iran too often has been treated as an exception to the rules of international relations.
Domestic politics

A.P.: "Senate Takes Up Bill on Lobbying Ethics"

WASHINGTON Mar 6, 2006 (AP)— Attorney General Alberto Gonzales' written answers to questions about the Bush administration's eavesdropping program may require him to testify a second time before the Senate Judiciary Committee, the panel's Republican chairman said Monday.

"There is a suggestion in his letter there are other classified intelligence programs that are currently under way," Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Arlen Specter, R-Pa., told reporters.
Peter S. Canellos of the Boston Globe:
Freed of that responsibility after losing the speakership in 1999, Gingrich has lobbed a few verbal explosives into the GOP tent, as he has sought to establish himself as the keeper of the conservative revolution.

Gore was more wonky than lively during his eight years as vice president under Clinton, but his defeat in the bitterly disputed 2000 presidential election gave him a rare jolt of emotion: anger.

Now, Gingrich and Gore are standing out more than ever.
The New York Times on Rep. Bill Thomas: "A Powerful House Republican Plans to Retire"

The New Orleans Times Picayune:
WASHINGTON -- President Bush is scheduled to visit New Orleans and Mississippi on Wednesday to talk about his recent $19.8 billion request to Congress for recovery aid to the hurricane-devastated Gulf Coast.


Blogger zen said...

Bases indeed planned according to NYT 2003 to which Rummy had this response.
US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld in a 21 April 2003 press conference said that any suggestion that the United States is planning a permanent military presence in Iraq is "inaccurate and unfortunate." Rumsfeld said "I have never, that I can recall, heard the subject of a permanent base in Iraq discussed in any meeting. ... The likelihood of it seems to me to be so low that it does not surprise me that it's never been discussed in my presence, to my knowledge. Why do I say it's low? Well, we've got all kinds of options and opportunities in that part of the world to locate forces, it's not like we need a new place. We have plenty of friends and plenty of ability to work with them and have locations for things that help to contribute to stability in the region. ... Rumsfeld: I think there is a down side. I think any impression that is left, which that article left, that the United States plans some sort of a permanent presence in that country, I think is a signal to the people of that country that's inaccurate and unfortunate, because we don't plan to function as an occupier, we don't plan to prescribe to any new government how we ought to be arranged in their country."

11:20 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

your blog rocks my suburban world. & this was a serious post- I genuinely feel more informed on the day-to-day, but you haven't beaten me over the head with obnoxious para-military lingo or your own politics. I wonder what it will mean to begin to think of our prescence in Iraq as truly permanent. I also like how you sift through the ridiculous amount of news that is flung at us everyday so I don't have to. Keep up the newsworthiness EditCopy! (Newsworthiness is probably already dated, maybe you could have a seperate section dedicated to letting us know when cute words have finished their short runs?)
-love, an admirer of the tropical fruit/popular holiday persuasion

12:06 PM  
Blogger copy editor said...

Zen, I don't trust Rummy at all with this one.

Anonymous, your ideas are quite inspirational. I'll need to track the new words from Stephen Colbert.

3:24 PM  
Blogger zen said...

LOL...yeah my point exactly, and not just "on this one."

3:43 PM  
Blogger copy editor said...

As you were saying...

4:16 PM  

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