Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Some paragraphs to consider


Note the sources (my emphasis) in this Los Angeles Times story:
Despite an increase in violence in Baghdad and elsewhere in the last three days, U.S. officials say the early results of the Baghdad offensive seem encouraging.

The capital's homicide rate, which soared to a high of more than 1,800 killings in July, appears to have plummeted by more than half in recent weeks, the U.S. military says.

But the military's plan carries the same potential weakness as previous efforts: U.S. troops, backed by Iraqi allies, descend on an area in force, pacify it and move on, leaving peacekeeping duties to overwhelmed Iraqi police officers and soldiers.

In the past, the "we stand down, Iraqis step up" blueprint has failed because the Iraqis have proved unable to keep the peace, U.S. officials say. The Iraqi security services' inability to keep Iraqis from killing one another was what prompted the newly bolstered U.S. presence in Baghdad.
The Washington Post:
Authorities say it was not an isolated incident. In Baghdad these days, not even the hospitals are safe. In growing numbers, sick and wounded Sunnis have been abducted from public hospitals operated by Iraq's Shiite-run Health Ministry and later killed, according to patients, families of victims, doctors and government officials.

As a result, more and more Iraqis are avoiding hospitals, making it even harder to preserve life in a city where death is seemingly everywhere. Gunshot victims are now being treated by nurses in makeshift emergency rooms set up in homes. Women giving birth are smuggled out of Baghdad and into clinics in safer provinces.
The Guardian:
The explosion happened at 9.50am local time (0650 BST), almost two hours after the detonation of an explosives-rigged bicycle near an army recruiting centre in Hilla, 60 miles south of Baghdad. The Hilla attack killed at least 12 people and injured 28, police said.

A man posing as a potential army recruit planted the bicycle outside the recruiting centre early in the morning, police Lieutenant Osama Ahmed said. The man walked off as volunteers to sign up for the army gathered outside the building.

The Washington Times:
The internal recriminations have targeted both Mr. Olmert and top commanders of the Israel Defense Forces, long seen as a bulwark of a Jewish state surrounded by larger, hostile Arab neighbors.

"They've destroyed the best army in the world," said Assaf Davidi, a 28-year-old reservist who fought in the 34-day war. "I don't trust these people to change the mistakes that were made."
JERUSALEM (AP) — U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan on Tuesday called Israel's air and sea blockade of Lebanon a "humiliation," while Israel said it won't end the embargo until peacekeeping forces on the border can prevent Hezbollah guerrillas from importing new weapons.
BEIRUT (AP) — Lebanese Prime Minister Fuad Saniora said Wednesday that he refused to have any direct contact with Israel and Lebanon would be the last Arab country to ever sign a peace deal with the Jewish state.

"Let it be clear, we are not seeking any agreement until there is just and comprehensive peace based on the Arab initiative," he said.

He was referring to a plan that came out of a 2002 Arab League summit in Beirut. It calls for Israel to return all territories it conquered in the 1967 Mideast war, the establishment of a Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital and a solution to the Palestinian refugee problem — all in exchange for peace and full normalization of Arab relations with Israel.

Israel has long sought a peace deal with Lebanon, but Beirut has hesitated as long as Israel's conflicts with the Palestinians and Syria remained unresolved.
Let's assume that Iran is 4 - 10 years away from a nuclear bomb. That should put more emphasis on the Mid East peace process. Isolating Iran from Europe, Russia, China, etc. is a smart idea. Isolating Iran from Jordan, Saudi Arabia, elements of Lebanon, Egypt, etc. (these powers would be so inclined) will require a substantial cool-down between Israel and the Palestinians.


The United States has issued a visa to former Iranian President Mohammad Khatami, despite Washington's row with Tehran over its nuclear programme.

Mr Khatami will be one of the most senior Iranian figures to visit the US since diplomatic ties were cut in 1979, apart from officials on UN business.

Mr Khatami's visit is being described as private.

The US state department said there were no plans for him to meet government officials.

Mr Khatami is to give a speech at Washington's National Cathedral on 7 September on the role that Islam, Judaism and Christianity can play in shaping peace.

He will also attend a conference at the UN in New York on promoting dialogue.
The Boston Globe:
These Iranians, in large ways and small, want more democracy and pluralism in their country, and they have taken risks to change their society. They are the kind of people whom US officials say they want to support. Yet they all agree that the last thing they need is help from the United States.

``The best thing the Americans can do for democracy in Iran is not to support it," Baghi, the activist, said recently in his office, next to a stack of his politically risky published books -- ``The Tragedy of Democracy in Iran," ``Clerics and Power," and a study that criticizes the government on its own terms, using Islamic teachings to indict Iran's justice system and its arbitrary arrests and executions.

Receiving US aid -- whether cash or simply public statements of support -- could destroy democracy advocates' chances of building grass-roots credibility at home, say Baghi and many other Iranians critical of their government. They prefer to steer their own course, pushing for gradual change and navigating a middle ground between accommodation and conflict with the Muslim clerics who rule Iran.
Someone needs to ask George W. Bush the following question: Do you believe that democracy advocate in Iran have difficulty pursuing their agenda when the United States voices support for democracy in Iran?

He'll stumble through that one, more so than usual.


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