Tuesday, March 14, 2006

News roundup 03.14.2006

The war in Iraq

There are a number of major developments in and about Iraq today.

CNN: "More than 80 dead in apparent reprisal killings"

The Christian Science Monitor:
"If the army and police and [US] forces don't cooperate to control the street, we will see more killing that will lead to civil war," says a Shiite Iraqi police colonel, who asked not to be named.
General Peter Pace has made a shift in his Iraq analysis and has moved closer to General John Abizaid (changing in its nature to a sectarian conflict). The Baltimore Sun:
"The Iraqi people themselves are standing at a crossroads, and they are making critical decisions for their country right now about which road they'll take," Pace said in a speech at the Hyatt Regency hotel.

"Everything is in place if they want to have a civil war," he said. "Everything is also in place if they want to have a united, unified future."
There is another Blair memo on Iraq that should cause a firestorm. The Guardian:
Senior British diplomatic and military staff gave Tony Blair explicit warnings three years ago that the US was disastrously mishandling the occupation of Iraq, according to leaked memos.
The Hartford Courant:
Ending two months of exploratory campaigning, Ned Lamont debuted Monday as a full-fledged challenger to Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman, promising a debate on the war in Iraq and a fight for the soul of the Democratic Party.
The New York Times:
On Monday, in Sadr City, the Shiite section in Baghdad where the terrorist suspects were executed, government forces vanished. The streets are ruled by aggressive teenagers with shiny soccer jerseys and machine guns.

They set up roadblocks and poke their heads into cars and detain whomever they want. Mosques blare warnings on loudspeakers for American troops to stay out. Increasingly, the Americans have been doing just that.

There seems to be no minimum age to join the action. A playful boy named Musa, who said he was 11 but looked about 8, was part of a 4-foot-tall militia struggling to drag chunks of concrete into the street to block cars on Monday.

"We're guarding the road," Musa explained.

He was carrying a toy pistol. Some of the other boys had real ones.

The more you think about this, the more important it becomes. The president of the United States has stated that a country is attacking our military personnel. The Philadelphia Inquirer: "Bush says Iran is supplying IEDs"

The Times of London:
BRITAIN will seek support for United Nations action on Iran from the full 15-nation Security Council today after the “Permanent Five” powers failed for a third day to agree a joint approach.
The Los Angeles Times:
TEHRAN — In spite of the hostile rhetoric in recent days over Iran's nuclear ambitions, the Islamic Republic may be losing its long-standing reluctance to speak directly with the United States, politicians and analysts here say.

There is a growing body of opinion in Iran that talks with Washington on the nuclear question and regional security issues could be in the country's interest. For the first time, reformers and conservatives appear to be in agreement on that question.

But as Tehran has shifted toward engagement with Washington, the U.S. has appeared to be moving in the opposite direction.
This is a significant change in Iranian thinking, if it is true. The United States should at least engage Iran for a brief period of time. If possible, make Iran engage in talks across multiple agencies to get as much intelligence as possible.

The Washington Times also reports: "Tehran elite turning on extremist presidency"

Iran has the most fascinating ability to move in multiple directions depending on which demographic to which you shift your focus.

Domestic politics

The Boston Globe: "Pentagon eyeing weapons in space"

Bloomberg News:
March 14 (Bloomberg) -- Republican Senator Arlen Specter, who has summoned top executives in the oil industry to appear before a Senate committee today, is seeking stronger antitrust enforcement to lower gasoline prices.
The Washington Times:
House and Senate Republicans will seek this week to increase spending on port security, homeland defense, health care and education in a clash with GOP leaders struggling to regain the mantle of fiscal discipline for their party.
The A.P.:
WASHINGTON Mar 14, 2006 (AP)— The Dubai-owned company that promised to surrender its U.S. port operations has no immediate plans to sell its U.S. subsidiary's interests at Miami's seaport, a senior executive wrote Monday in a private e-mail to business associates.

The New York Times:
For Indonesia and Australia, China is not just a rising power as it is often described in Washington but has already arrived as the regional power that spreads economic benefit. China is driving intra-Asian economic integration through the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, which excludes the United States, and by 2010 the region's trade with China is likely to outstrip its trade with the United States.

To sweeten the economic bonds, China has not been too pushy in other areas, stepping politely to address its strategic and diplomatic goals as it seeks the affections of surrounding countries, many of which have had longstanding relations with the United States.

"China has now established itself as the paramount regional power in Southeast Asia," said Milton Osborne, a former Australian diplomat and scholar on the region at the Lowy Institute of International Affairs in Sydney. "This is widely recognized in Southeast Asia, however people choose to express the idea."

Before leaving Washington, Ms. Rice sounded a cautionary note about China, with a harder edge than much of what is heard in Southeast Asia.


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