Wednesday, April 12, 2006

News roundup 04.12.2006

Iran, Iraq? Iraq, Iran?

The long war in Iraq.

The developing war with Iran?

David Ignatius in the Washington Post:
Kennedy's genius was to reject the Cuba options proposed by his advisers, hawk and dove alike, and choose his own peculiar outside-the-box strategy. He issued a deadline but privately delayed it; he answered a first, flexible message from Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev but not a second unyielding one; he said he would never take U.S. missiles out of Turkey, as the Soviets were demanding, and then secretly did precisely that. Disaster was avoided because Khrushchev believed Kennedy was willing to risk war -- but wanted to avoid it.

The Bush administration needs to be engaged in a similar exercise in creative thinking. The military planners will keep looking for targets (as they must, in a confrontation this serious). But Bush's advisers -- and most of all, the president himself -- must keep searching for ways to escape the inexorable logic that is propelling America and Iran toward war. I take heart from the fact that the counselor to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Philip Zelikow, is an expert on the Cuban missile crisis who co-authored the second edition of Allison's "Essence of Decision."

What worries me is that the relevant historical analogy may not be the 1962 war that didn't happen, but World War I, which did. The march toward war in 1914 resulted from the tight interlocking of alliances, obligations, perceived threats and strategic miscalculations. The British historian Niall Ferguson argued in his book "The Pity of War" that Britain's decision to enter World War I was a gross error of judgment that cost that nation its empire.
Financial Times: Russia and France condemn Iran's recent enrichment. El Pais: France and Germany condemn the enrichment.

The Los Angeles Times: "Iran Flaunts Its Nuclear Achievement"

The Washington Post: "Iran Declares Nuclear Advance"

The New York Times: "At the White House, Engaging Iran With Words Over Action"

The Christian Science Monitor (I am not a fan of argument by rhetorical question, it conveys a narrow range of options.):
It seems likely that precision airstrikes could set Iran's nuclear program back at least a year and perhaps several. Whether that delay is worth the probable consequences - the strengthening of a despotic regime within Iran and the increased likelihood of terrorism in nearby Iraq and the broader region - is what's at issue.

"The military option has a lot of costs," says Michael Rubin, an Iran expert at the American Enterprise Institute here. "But is the cost of the Islamic Republic of Iran having a nuclear weapon greater?"
This picture leads the Washington Times' front page today. A little Persian flair to enrichment.

The long war in Iraq

More misinformation from the administration to the American public.

The Washington Post:
On May 29, 2003, 50 days after the fall of Baghdad, President Bush proclaimed a fresh victory for his administration in Iraq: Two small trailers captured by U.S. and Kurdish troops had turned out to be long-sought mobile "biological laboratories." He declared, "We have found the weapons of mass destruction."

The claim, repeated by top administration officials for months afterward, was hailed at the time as a vindication of the decision to go to war. But even as Bush spoke, U.S. intelligence officials possessed powerful evidence that it was not true.

A secret fact-finding mission to Iraq -- not made public until now -- had already concluded that the trailers had nothing to do with biological weapons. Leaders of the Pentagon-sponsored mission transmitted their unanimous findings to Washington in a field report on May 27, 2003, two days before the president's statement.
The New York Times: "Deaths of U.S. Soldiers Climb Again in Iraq"

The A.P. via the USA Today:
BAGHDAD (AP) — The acting parliament speaker said Wednesday he will convene the Iraqi legislature next week to push forward the formation of a new government stalled over the issue of who will serve as prime minister. Meanwhile, a series of car bombs in three Iraqi cities left at least eight people dead and dozens wounded.

Adnan Pachachi, a Sunni Arab, told a press conference he decided to convene the assembly on Monday because "it's my duty to the Iraqi people in order to preserve the credibility of the democratic process."
The A.P. via the Philadelphia Inquirer: "Iraqi Shiites' split continues to block a unity government"


The Washington Post: "Immigrant Bill Fallout May Hurt House GOP"

CNN: "GOP leadership backs away from tough immigration measure"

The New York Times:
Decades later, Mr. Kennedy, the liberal leader and descendant of Irish immigrants, is back in the thick of another immigration fight, pushing strongly for a bipartisan compromise that would toughen border security while providing a route to legal status for millions of illegal residents. And some of the fight is with his own Democratic colleagues.

Mr. Kennedy's drive to strike a deal with Republicans is making some in his party nervous. They worry that the senator, in his desire to bring about changes in immigration law, will cede too much to Republicans and that the end product will fall short on the guest worker and citizenship provisions favored by most Democrats. They believe Mr. Kennedy made similar miscalculations when he cut initial deals with Republicans on Medicare drug coverage and education policy.
The Boston Globe:
But even as they celebrated the big turnout in 150 cities across the country, Latino and other immigrant organizers say their challenge will be to channel their energy into consistent political action. The rallies announced the presence of a potentially formidable force, the organizers said, though its potency will be determined by how well they can hold together a sometimes fragile coalition without a history of civic engagement.
The Hill: "Dems up Latino outreach"


Bloomberg News:
April 12 (Bloomberg) -- President George W. Bush's health- care initiatives, which he showcased as his top domestic priorities in the Jan. 31 State of the Union address, are stalled in Congress, with little chance for passage.
Boston Globe:
Governor Mitt Romney is expected to veto a fee of $295 per employee on some firms that is a key part of the new healthcare bill, angering Democrats he invited to appear with him this morning for a highly choreographed signing ceremony at Faneuil Hall.

The New York Times:
But since Hillary Rodham Clinton was elected to the Senate in 2000, Corning and its mainly Republican executives have become one of her largest sources of campaign contributions. And in that time, Mrs. Clinton has become one of the company's leading champions, delivering for it like no other Democratic lawmaker.

In April 2003, a month after Corning's political action committee gave $10,000 to her re-election campaign, Mrs. Clinton announced legislation that would provide hundreds of millions in federal aid to reduce diesel pollution, using, among other things, technology pioneered by Corning. It was one of several Congressional initiatives Mrs. Clinton has pushed that benefit the company.

The Hartford Courant:
What may have been seen as feistiness and a penchant for sardonic humor six years ago when he vaulted into national political prominence, is now sometimes regarded as a tendency to be testy and arrogant. Some Democrats who once found him so refreshing are now charging him with blind loyalty to the GOP. Republican conservatives, long suspicious of McCain's maverick tendencies, are demanding proof he's loyal to their pet causes.
Hugo Chavez (and the headline of the day)

The Los Angeles Times:
A Political Minefield in Venezuela's Oil Fields
Prospects that Chavez will nationalize the export industry add to the market's anxieties.
By Chris Kraul, Times Staff Writer
April 12, 2006

CARACAS, Venezuela — In the uneasy world of petroleum politics, fears that Venezuela will nationalize its oil industry may not rank at the moment with possible war in Iran or civil unrest in Nigeria. But Venezuela's recent actions directed at foreign energy companies are contributing to oil's relentless march toward record prices.

In New York futures trading Tuesday, oil pushed past $69 before closing at $68.98 a barrel, up 24 cents. That was just shy of the all-time high of $69.81 reached in August as Hurricane Katrina slammed the Gulf Coast.
Side note: summer gas prices are going to be insane.

Or maybe this is the headline of the day...

The USA Today: "La. parish might hire ex-FEMA director"


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