Wednesday, April 19, 2006

News roundup 04.19.2006

The long war in Iraq

Let's begin with the president's constant analysis.

Bloomberg News:
April 19 (Bloomberg) -- U.S. President George W. Bush said Iraqis must move swiftly to form a new government lest the ``vacuum in the political process'' produce further instability and violence.
The president has channeled PoliSci 101 in the past. The present courses of action by both the elected Iraqis and the United States is not resolving this vacuum. Today's news stories provide a clear demonstration.

A.P.: "Iraq PM: Quitting 'out of the question'"

The Philadelphia Inquirer: "Iraqis finger-point; stalemate drags on"

Meanwhile sectarian violence and a sort of He-Said/He-Said of this insurgency continues.

The Los Angeles Times:
BAGHDAD — Urban clashes continued for a second day in a volatile Sunni Arab neighborhood of northern Baghdad, leaving at least five Iraqis dead and 20 wounded in fighting Tuesday between gunmen and Iraqi security forces.

Witnesses described the hostilities as sectarian gun battles between Sunni Muslim residents and the Shiite Muslim-led security forces. But Iraqi officials said outside insurgents had infiltrated the capital's Adhamiya quarter and provoked clashes with police and the army. Fighting in the district Monday left at least three people dead.
Residents said the attack was clearly carried out by Shia militia.

"I have seen these members of the Badr militia and Mehdi Army wearing Iraqi Police (IP) uniforms and using IP pick-up trucks roaming our streets," said Abu Aziz, "They tried to reach our sacred Abu Hanifa mosque, but they were stopped before they could do so, thanks to god. Some were just wearing civilian clothes with black face masks, others were definitely commandos from the ministry of interior."
The Washington Post:
Tens of thousands of Iraqis have abandoned their homes and moved into makeshift housing in the last few weeks because of death threats from organized Sunni and Shi'ite militias and gangs, the president of the Iraqi Red Crescent Society said yesterday.
The Los Angeles Times has this development likely to fuel the ire of Sunnis:
BAGHDAD — Leaders of Iraq's Kurdish north have unveiled a controversial plan to consolidate their hold on the region's future petroleum resources, raising concerns about how the ethnically divided nation will share its oil revenue.
Nation builders

This is an interesting study because so many pundits and administration hawks like to comment on World War Two and post-WW2 reconstruction. From the Boston Globe:
The nearly 400-page report by the government-funded RAND Corporation compared the successful rebuilding of post-World War II Germany and Japan with more recent nation-building efforts in Iraq, Afghanistan, and the Balkans.

It found that those earlier reconstruction efforts put healthcare -- including nutrition, basic sanitation, and medical care -- at the top of the rebuilding agenda. But those efforts have not been replicated in recent nation-building efforts.

CNN: "China's leader begins U.S. visit"

The New York Times:
WASHINGTON, April 18 — The competition for access to oil is emerging high on the agenda for President Hu Jintao's visit to the White House this week. President Bush has called China's growing demand for oil one reason for rising prices, and has warned Beijing against trying to "lock up" global supplies.
The Christian Science Monitor:
BEIJING – Feted by Bill Gates, anticipating a 21-gun salute at the White House, spending $15 billion on US aircraft, software, farm and other goods, China's president Hu Jintao intends to show Americans this week that the world's fastest-rising power is not a threat. Mr. Hu is giving three speeches in four days, "more talking than he has done to the Chinese people all year," as a Western diplomatic source here puts it.
Bloomberg News:
April 19 (Bloomberg) -- China, which up to now has relied on U.S. presidents to keep Congress from derailing bilateral relations, is turning to lobbyists to burnish its image with increasingly assertive lawmakers.
The Financial Times:
The International Monetary Fund on Wednesday stepped up the pressure for far-reaching shifts in exchange rates, declaring that the dollar will have to depreciate “significantly” over the medium term if global economic imbalances are to be resolved in an orderly fashion.

In its clearest statement to date on this highly-charged subject, the IMF said it was essential that currencies in Asia and of oil exporters were allowed to appreciate as part of the required “realignment of exchange rates”. But it shied away from giving any specific figures as to the extent of appreciation required.
Staff shake up?

The story is really how little has changed, in both personnel and policy, despite how much change is clearly necessary. AP:
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Continuing a shakeup in President Bush's administration, White House press secretary Scott McClellan said Wednesday he is resigning, while longtime Bush confidant Karl Rove will lose his policy portfolio.
Reprint Karl Rove's business cards once again!!!1


A.P.: "US envoy says sanctions debated against Iran"

A.P.: "Bush: 'All options on the table' in dealing with Iran"

The Guardian:
Relations between the west and the hardline Iranian regime are set to worsen after a Tehran-based group claimed yesterday it was trying to recruit Iranians and other Muslims in Britain to carry out suicide bombings against Israel.
(I'm starting to think the Mullahs want a war.)

The Washington Times:
The Bush administration yesterday was at a loss to explain the rare presence in Washington of an Iranian government official who slipped into the United States under mysterious circumstances, apparently to attend a scholarly conference.
Rumsfeld's job

The New York Times:
WASHINGTON, April 18 — It has become a daily ritual, the defense of the defense secretary, complete with praise from serving generals, tributes from the president and, from the man on the spot, doses of charm, combativeness and even some humility.
The Chicago Tribune:
WASHINGTON -- Embattled Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld went on the offensive Tuesday, suggesting that a group of retired generals who have criticized his management of the Iraq war are actually upset about changes within the military during his five years as the Pentagon chief.
GOP budget

The Christian Science Monitor:
WASHINGTON – Remember Alaska's "bridge to nowhere"? It's about to be topped by what critics call Mississippi's "railroad to nowhere," which is quickly becoming the poster child for excessive spending by the Republican-controlled Congress.

The project, which was added to a $106.5 billion emergency defense spending bill in the Senate, would relocate a Gulf Coast rail line inland, to higher ground. Never mind that the hurricane-battered line was just repaired at a cost of at least $250 million. Or that at $700 million, the project championed by Mississippi's two US senators is being called the largest "earmark" ever.
The new OMB chief's tenure is prognosticated by the Hill:
But Portman’s good relationships could face a strain in his new position, with restive Republicans pushing for reform of the administration’s budgetary policy and a more concerted effort to rein in runaway federal spending. Portman’s nomination is the first White House shakeup under new Chief of Staff Joshua Bolten, who officially moved up from the helm of OMB on Monday and already has reached out to congressional leaders.


Blogger zen said...

Nation Builders
Interesting that the prior reconstruction efforts focus on the human side of what makes a nation stable and sustainable, and what is being pursued in Iraq focus more on increased militarism and defense.
More reflective of the unique regional pressures, or perhaps something more sinister?

1:54 PM  
Blogger copy editor said...

Zen, I don't think they are evil; I just think they are stupid.

But, it's debateable, which is pathetic.

3:51 PM  

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