Tuesday, March 21, 2006

News roundup 03.21.2006

The president is demonstrating a clear understanding that his administration is in peril. Press conferences with (gasp) the media... Question and answer sessions... DotPDFs on websites...

The long war in Iraq

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- At a White House news conference Tuesday morning, President Bush said he was encouraged that Iraqi lawmakers were forming a council that gives each of the country's religious and ethnic groups a voice in making policy.
The New York Times has a lot of interesting details about the jailbreak in Iraq today: "Iraqi Insurgents Storm Police Station, Killing 15 Officers". 100 to 200 insurgents launched a coordinated escape plan with several entry points blocked to slow reinforcements.

Jim VandeHei in the Washington Post:
Three years of upbeat White House assessments about Iraq that turned out to be premature, incomplete or plain wrong are complicating President Bush's efforts to restore public faith in the military operation and his presidency, according to pollsters and Republican lawmakers and strategists.
Peter Baker in the Washington Post:
CLEVELAND, March 20 -- As President Bush tells the tale, the battle for Tall Afar offers a case study in how U.S. and Iraqi forces working together can root out insurgents and restore stability. "The example of Tall Afar," he told an audience here Monday, "gives me confidence in our strategy."

Reports from the streets of Tall Afar, half a world away, offer a more complex story. U.S. forces last fall did drive out radicals who had brutalized the mid-size city near the Syrian border. But lately, residents say, the city has taken another dark turn. "The armed men are fewer," Nassir Sebti, 42, an air-conditioning mechanic, told a Washington Post interviewer Monday, "but the assassinations between Sunni and Shiites have increased."
The Los Angeles Times: "Shiites Observe Holy Day Amid Heavy Security"

Times of India:
LONDON: Iraq is in the grip of an "intractable sectarian conflict" but not in a civil war situation, a top British commander said on Tuesday.

General Sir Rob Frey, deputy commander of all the multi-national forces in Iraq, said: "I think civil war is an inflammatory phrase and in my judgement simply does not describe where we are."
The Christian Science Monitor: "Iraqi turmoil puts Mideast on edge"

Francis Fukuyama in the Guardian:
Many opponents of the Iraq war both in the US and Europe have felt a not-so-secret sense of schadenfreude at the developing chaos in Iraq. While many might intellectually support the emergence of a stable, democratic, pro-western government in Baghdad, "success" in this matter would be seen as a vindication of all of the baggage that the Bush administration loaded on to this project, including its unilateralism, use of force and incompetent execution of the war's aftermath. Many would therefore be happy seeing Washington suffer a setback, to deter such interventions in the future.

But people should be careful what they wish for.
The Times of London: "Defiant Hamas packs Cabinet with hardliners"

The Boston Globe: "Jordan's Islamists see a path to political power"

And for a transition to Iran, Peter Canellos of the Boston Globe:
So the administration is in the awkward position of building a case for the dangers posed by Iran -- a case that shows every sign of being far clearer than the one against Hussein -- while making an increasingly implausible case that there is no reason to believe the last preemptive war was a mistake.
The Los Angeles Times: "Some U.S. Officials Fear Iran Is Helping Al Qaeda"

The A.P. on early Security Council diplomacy/strategy: "Russia and China differ with Europe, US on statement"

BEIJING (Reuters) - China and Russia are united in pushing for more diplomacy to resolve the Iranian nuclear issue, China said on Tuesday, a day after the two deflected Western moves to authorize U.N. Security Council threats against Iran.
From Russia with regime change

The Philadelphia Inquirer (A.P.):
MOSCOW - The Kremlin may be reclaiming a dominant role in its former Soviet backyard.

In Belarus, Moscow-allied strongman Alexander G. Lukashenko just won reelection by a landslide - at least by the official count. And President Vladimir V. Putin's allies could return to government in Sunday's Ukrainian parliamentary election, just more than a year after the Orange Revolution.
The Clintonistas

The New York Daily News:
WASHINGTON - After being surprised by her husband's role in the Dubai ports deal, Sen. Hillary Clinton has insisted that Bill Clinton give her "final say" over what he says and does, well-placed sources said.
The Houston Chronicle (A.P.):
MURFREESBORO, Tenn. — Former Vice President Al Gore said Monday he's not planning to run for president in 2008 but hasn't ruled out a future in politics.

"I'm enjoying what I'm doing," Gore told an audience at Middle Tennessee State University, where he gave a lecture on global warming, one in a series.
New Orleans

The Houston Chronicle:
NEW ORLEANS - Rebuild where you like, but rebuild at your own risk — that's the word from Mayor C. Ray Nagin after digesting the recommendations of a panel charged with planning the city's post-Katrina recovery.
The New Orleans Times Picayune:
After eliminating all recommendations that would have prohibited any of the city's neighborhoods from participating in its rebuilding process, New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin on Monday night presented a blueprint for restoring and improving the hurricane-devastated city.
The New Orleans Times Picayune:
Speaking to the Press Club of Baton Rouge, Vitter said that the state "needs to a have a single, unified, clear plan" on how it will help communities bounce back from the hits of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.

"There has been great progress in developing a plan," he said, "but we all need to keep pushing. We need to go further and do better" especially with greater cooperation between the Louisiana Recovery Authority, the state agency overseeing recovery efforts, and groups in the New Orleans area that have come up with their own rebuilding plans.


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