WHO KNEW THE MILITARY had time for fighting the war of words? The pen (or is it now the keyboard) is mightier than the sword, or the M 16, or whatever else it is the Defense Department fights the war in Iraq with against the rejectionists, Saddamists, and the odd number of terrorists. As previously reported at the bottom of a long post (scroll way down), the military has enlisted the Lincoln Group to get the facts out on Iraq because Iraqis apparently wouldn’t know the truth of the war without that help. PLUS The new word is the generals see the war as Bush does too. THE IRAQIS CAN’T SEE apparently the war happening all around them. They have to read about it with United States plants of news of Bush’s new fire of freedom burning all around them because the country doesn’t have electrical power half the time for televisions to work. The Washington Post tells the tale:
"This is a military program to help get factual information about ongoing operations into Iraqi news," said Lt. Col. Barry Johnson, a military spokesman in Baghdad. "Because this is part of our ongoing operations and an important part of countering misinformation in the news by insurgents, I can't provide details of what that entails. I want to emphasize that all information used for marketing these stories is completely factual." . . .
“FACTUAL” HAS RAISED some opinions and concerns. Apparently Bush meant it when he said front line commanders would decide what level of troops and what level of BS would be needed to win the war over there. The Pentagon doesn’t know shit.
Bryan Whitman, a Pentagon spokesman, said that officials are looking into the matter and that "some things about it, if true, are a bit troubling." Sen. John W. Warner (R-Va.), chairman of the Armed Services Committee, said on MSNBC's "Hardball" program that his panel would look into the matter "because I'm concerned that our credibility abroad is very important."
CREDIBILITY MIGHT BE an issue. If you can’t win the war of guns, letting people know you are winning the war of words is key.
One Pentagon official said yesterday that such a program could violate Defense Department doctrine on psychological operations that bars intentionally misusing the media. "It's a transparency issue," the official said. "One should never have to guess as to who is providing the information."
Mr. Bush, in some passages of his speech, came much closer than he has before to matching the hard-nosed assessments of the war that have long been made by American commanders here, at least among themselves. While maintaining a stoic confidence in public, many of these commanders, over the past 18 months, have pressed behind the scenes for the Pentagon to move toward a more realistic appraisal of the war than has been common among major administration figures in Washington. These generals contend the war is winnable, though they do not says so with the tone of certainty that Mr. Bush mustered Wednesday at Annapolis.
WHAT EVERYONE WANTS to avoid according to Burns is another situation like Fallujah. The Fallujah the Pentagon remembers is the stop and go, are we in or out? fighting the enemy in a chosen spot Fallujah, not the Fallujah the Iraqis remember. That was the Fallujah that was destroyed to save it. The Pentagon now wants to pick its spots. Let the facts and foes fall where they may.
Now, American commanders say they believe they have a strategy that can win the war, if anything can. They have concentrated American forces for a series of offensives aimed at regaining control of strategic cities like Falluja - recaptured from the insurgents in a bloody offensive last November - and denying insurgent infiltrators safe havens in towns along the Syrian border. In Baghdad and other major cities, they have mounted a relentless campaign to track down, kill and capture Islamic militants whose bombing campaigns were killing as many as 600 Iraqis a month - and making headlines in the United States that eroded public support for the war.
IF YOU WANT TO KNOW the Times reporters' take (or is it the editors0, check the headline on the Burns piece: For Once, President and His Generals See the Same War. No one has been ordered to be optimistic, not yet.
THE TIMES IS MUCH MORE HARSH on its editorial page. Guess the reporters didn’t get the memo telling them they are part of the mainstream media against Bush. The editorial heads that way The snark jumps out to bite Bush in the butt: Plan:We Win! Note exclamation point. Can almost hear (applause) (laughter)
That may be the most grandiose set of ambitions for the region since the vision of Nebuchadnezzar's son Belshazzar, who saw the hand writing on the wall. Mr. Bush hates comparisons between Vietnam and Iraq. But after watching the president, we couldn't resist reading Richard Nixon's 1969 Vietnamization speech. Substitute the Iraqi constitutional process for the Paris peace talks, and Mr. Bush's ideas about the Iraqi Army are not much different from Nixon's plans - except Nixon admitted the war was going very badly (which was easier for him to do because he didn't start it), and he was very clear about the risks and huge sacrifices ahead. A president who seems less in touch with reality than Richard Nixon needs to get out more.
THIS IS VIETNAM IRAQ and new thinking is needed.
RECOMMENDED ADDITIONAL READS NTodd: I think he [Bush] doesn't pay attention to the news or the polls because they would make him feel bad. [Gallup] . . . we need a C-in-C who clearly understands the reality on the ground, talks frankly with us, and is willing to have an honest debate about what to do next. We don't have that. Instead, we have an administration whose definition of winning is scoring cheap political points, and that tactic is now working as well at home as it has in Iraq. Avedon on The Times and Bush and Nixon: Oh, now they find that disturbing? Anyway, even the cadets are bored by this by now. Bet it wouldn't happen with a real president.
UPDATE ON BUSH IN STEP WITH HIS GENERALS, IN SYNC, WHATEVER ALL TOGETHER EVERYBODY is the new mantra. The LA Times heads its piece on the war that has yet to see the peace with Bush Is Now in Step With His Generals, but the tone has some nuance the NY Times piece does not. On one level it offers more praise for the illusions Bush raises in an artful way, but damns the reality. Read it in full.
In many ways, his speech was an artful domestic tightrope walk, one in which he forcefully rejected his critics' calls for an immediate troop pullout — or even a timetable for one — and repeated the applause lines cherished by his core supporters. "I will settle for nothing less than complete victory," he said at one point. "We will stay as long as necessary to complete the mission." Yet behind these words, Bush's glowing assessment of the progress of Iraqi forces provided a response to two of his most crucial political constituencies: his core supporters desperate for reassurances that a plan exists for the victory he has so often promised, and the growing number of supporters-turned-skeptics who now demand a viable exit strategy.
"That's the trick for the president -- he has to turn around public opinion when he's at a low point in the polls," said John Weaver, a political strategist for Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.). "What they've got to do is win this argument and correct the misinformation that's out there about what's going on in Iraq and do so while leveling with the American people that it's going to be a long, hard slog."
IT WILL TAKE more than a trick, a lot more than another sales pitch to “correct the misinformation.” Bush’s problem is the people are a little too informed. And for people feeling previously tricked, John Weaver’s terminology is as poor as Bush’s repackaging of an old product.
TIP FOR ANDY CARD You don’t introduce old products in November, when people are already winter weary of war. Dan Froomkin has some great analysis. The key points?
Bush's speech -- combined with a new, rosy, slogan-filled White House document entitled " Victory in Iraq " -- kicks off a bold public-relations campaign to recast the debate about the war. But there are several reasons to suspect that it might not work: * It doesn't answer the most compelling question in contemporary American politics: When are the troops coming home? * It doesn't even include any objective ways of measuring progress towards an eventual U.S. pullout. * It is at heart a restatement, rather than a reappraisal, of a strategy that according to the polls the American public has overwhelmingly rejected. * The White House did not address, not to mention refute, the argument that the continued presence of American troops is making things worse, rather than better. * And nothing Bush said is likely to change the fact that he has a big credibility problem with most Americans.
COMPLETE WHAT? We will never accept anything but complete victory repeated over and over and over again sounds like complete BS.
WHAT YOU WILL HEAR a lot of for the next week at least.[White House transcript] Q Secondly, about the speech, couldn't people fairly ask why it is that the President hasn't had a strategy for victory before November 2005? MR. McCLELLAN: Well, that's inaccurate.
NEW, BUT NOT IMPROVED Bush basically admitted today that "terrorists" are a small portion of the insurgencyresistance enemy. Who will call him on this? [White House speech transcript]
The third group is the smallest, but the most lethal: the terrorists affiliated with or inspired by al Qaeda . Many are foreigners who are coming to fight freedom's progress in Iraq. This group includes terrorists from Saudi Arabia, and Syria, and Iran, and Egypt, and Sudan, and Yemen, and Libya, and other countries. Our commanders believe they're responsible for most of the suicide bombings, and the beheadings, and the other atrocities we see on our television.
BUSH WILL ALSO NEED to explain just what "the rejectionists" are rejecting.
A LITTLE LATE ON THIS TOOA broad Pentagon directive issued this week orders the U.S. military to be sure, the next time it goes to war, to prepare more thoroughly for picking up the pieces afterward.
NOW THAT’S PROGRESSIn fact, Mr. Bush came the closest he has yet to acknowledging mistakes - without calling them that - since August 2004, when in an interview he acknowledged a "miscalculation" in assessing how quickly an insurgency might develop. The Heretik now realizes mistakes (and admitting them) are for those who don't have a two and half years too late Plan for Victory.
MISCALCULATION FROM MISS CHEERLEADER BUMILLER The political calculation behind President Bush's speech in Annapolis on Wednesday is that Washington, not Baghdad, is the battlefront that will decide the ultimate outcome of the war in Iraq, but that Mr. Bush's decisions do not have to be driven by fears of heavy Republican losses in the 2006 midterm elections. The Heretik knows Ms. Cheerleader Bumiller is getting this news straight from under somebody’s desk, probably Rumsfeld’s, but this is um the road to disaster. Whether Bush will “lose” in Iraq may be debated. Whether he “wins” at home may be something Republicans up for election can’t wait for. If you want a clue where Bumiller stands on this, her piece is entitled Gaining Control in Iraq, and Regaining Support at Home.
UPDATE THURSDAY AM Dem in CT at The Next Hurrah has bad news for the cheerleader girl and cheerleader Boy President in the White House. The Heretik completely agrees Bush may think he can run on Iraq . . . but he will run into complete disaster.
TIP FOR BUMILLER Once people read past the headline, they will see you run as broad and as shallow as Bush. Whether Bumiller is a Bush plant in the press here or not remains for speculation another day, but it can't help Bush's cred on the street, Arab or Wall, that the United States is planting Bush stories burning with the fire of freedom in Iraq. Can you say propaganda?
SAY HELLO to the Lincoln Group. HOW THE LINCOLN GROUP describes itself Our professionals often work in foreign communities where crime, insurgency, terrorism, extreme poverty and instability make communications and operations an extreme challenge. So, people often wonder "How Can You Work There?" It's not simple, but we rely on our experience, quality people, flexibility, and a low profile to get the job done. The Heretik says low profile? Very low, but obviously not low enough.
GOOD TIMING, LINCOLN It comes as the State Department is training Iraqi reporters in basic journalism skills and Western media ethics, including one workshop titled "The Role of Press in a Democratic Society." Standards vary widely at Iraqi newspapers, many of which are shoestring operations.
TRICKS? Did somebody say tricks? More obviously will be needed.
MORE FUN FROM THE LAND OF LINCOLN GROUP SPEAKWhat do you do when you're not working? That all depends upon location and interest. Most of us use our free time to explore the countries we work in. Our staff enjoy dinners with the local community, shopping in new markets, and travel to ancient sites most people only read about. We often meet with senior officials from the local nation and gain new insight into the country's future. We also volunteer our time to assist local community efforts. You might also find us speaking at industry, academic and government sponsored events.
AM EARLY THURSDAY UDPATE NOW APPARENT to those with new eyes or those who have eyes now open is Bush cannot give up the fight. The goal of whatever might be accomplished by “winning” in Iraq is now sacrificed to Bush’s ego. He must be the one to “win” in Iraq. And he thinks he can use Iraq to win in the 2006 midterm elections. Sy Hersch looks right on Bush only talking to God. See Maha also on Murtha with Chris Matthews on Harbdall.
BUT WHAT ABOUT the apparent schizophrenia of the White House mind that used to be so on message? Rice says withdrawals are coming in Iraq, Rumsfeld says it's their country, and don't look for Cheney to be anything but Cheney. The Bush White House is like the hydra of myth. Once one snapping talking head is lopped off, two more spring up to replace it.
NO ONE EXPECTS WAR to be sweet. In Iraq few now believe it to be the cakewalk the latest one was sold as. All death in war is terrible, but some more terrible than others. So some weapons are banned and some just as terrible are not. The head of GlobalSecurity.org, John Pike, is a regular resource around here on weapons of war. He has what might be the last word on both white phosphorus, WP, and willy pete and its perception in the world. This demands to be read in full beyond what is excerpted here.
The U.S. government only compounded the problem by denying that WP had been used in Fallouja for anything other than illuminating the battlefield. The government flatly rejected the charge that it had been used to burn enemy combatants. This claim, however, was untrue and easily disproved. An Army Field Artillery magazine article written earlier this year by soldiers who had fired the artillery in Fallouja described "shake and bake" missions — cannons firing WP incendiary rounds along with high-explosive shells to flush out insurgents from trenches and hiding places. As usual, it is the coverup that gets you into trouble. The guilty flee where none pursueth, but the righteous are bold as a lion. What are the facts? What is the law?
READ IT the whole thing, both for Pike’s facts and his conclusions. What seems the last word may in fact be the first of many. Willy Pete is what it is. War is the worst men do upon men, upon soldiers and civilians. If we can discuss the worst that men do upon men, we may also ask about why, when and where.
MISSION ACCOMPLISHEDagain. As poll numbers fall as Iraqis stand up, we will run as fast as we can we will stand down. Victory kind of is ours. Do not look at that request for yet more money the man behind the curtain.
"I want my poll numbers to go up our troops to come home, but I don't want them to come home without having achieved partisan advantage at home without victory," he [Bush] said in brief comments to reporters in El Paso during a visit to the Mexican border. "And we've got a strategy I have never been able to clearly state before for victory." The president was describing another delusional fantasy he will engage in a speech he plans to give Wednesday at the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md.
A senior administration official said Mr. Bush's ultimate goal, to which he assigned no schedule, is to move to a "smaller, more lethal" American force that "can be just as successful." It is unclear how much of that vision Mr. Bush will explicitly describe Wednesday, in the first of four speeches about the Iraqi transition that he plans to give before the election of a long-term Iraqi government on Dec. 15.
IT IS UNCLEAR because as Bush struggles to clean up his political mess at home, we will engage in dirty war abroad. The predicted death squads are already there. Because Bush seeks political relief at home in no way means he is giving up on his goals in Iraq and the Middle East. The apparent war will become smaller in forces and its downsides smaller in the American consciousness. Mission Accomplished not yet.
FROM THE REVISED RUMSFELD BOOK OF REVELATIONS [NY Times]
"Our problem is that any time something needs to be done, we have a feeling we should rush in and fill the vacuum and do it ourselves. You know what happens when you do that? "First of all, you can't do it, because it's not our country. It's their country. And the second thing that happens is they don't develop the skills and the ability and the equipment and the orientation and the habit patterns of doing it for themselves. They have to do it for themselves."
ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDED READING RESISTANCE IS FUTILE or language languishes when Marines and Iraqi’s agree on “withdrawal.” Yeah, we all want that, but the war of words over what “the resistance” means shoots back and forth [WaPo]
"We all want the withdrawal," Nasir Abdul Karim, leader of Anbar province's Albu Rahad tribe, told scores of the armed Marines and Sunni sheiks, clerical leaders and other elders at the gathering Monday in Ramadi, 60 miles west of Baghdad. "We all believe it is an illegitimate occupation, and it is a legitimate resistance." "We're committed to withdrawing," responded Brig. Gen. James L. Williams of the 2nd Marine Division, "as soon as we have strong units" in the Iraqi army to replace U.S.-led forces. "I understand the resistance," Williams added, commenting later that he was referring to the peaceful opposition to the U.S. presence in Iraq. "But you must understand we're military people. People who are shot at will shoot back."
THE PLAN, THE PLAN! From the White House comes the plan on paper: National Strategy for Victory in Iraq. Olvier Willis: There’s really no concrete definition of victory here, still. California Yankee: Why a document like the National Strategy for Victory in Iraq, assembling our strategy into a single unclassified document, has never been done before now escapes me. It was obviously something that should have been done long before now. [WaPo] The new report says the U.S. strategy is working in Iraq, but victory will take time and many challenges remain. Think Progress: The problem is, it’s not a new strategy for success in Iraq; it’s a public relations document. The strategy describes what has transpired in Iraq to date as a resounding success and stubbornly refuses to establish any standards for accountability.
VERY EARLY REAL DEMOCRATIC RESPONSE [AP] Even before Bush finished speaking, Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid issued a statement claiming that Bush "recycled his tired rhetoric of 'stay the course' and once again missed an opportunity to lay out a real strategy for success in Iraq that will bring our troops safely home."
The Pentagon says white phosphorus was never aimed at civilians, but there are lingering reports of civilian victims. The military can't say whether the reports are true and does not intend to investigate them, a decision we find difficult to comprehend. Pentagon spokesmen say the Army took "extraordinary measures" to reduce civilian casualties, but they cannot say what those measures were. They also say that using white phosphorus against military targets is legal. That's true, but the 1983 convention bans its use against "civilians or civilian objects," which would make white phosphorus attacks in urban settings like Falluja highly inappropriate at best.
GEN. PACE: White phosphorus is a legitimate tool of the military. It is used for two primary purposes. One is to mark a location for strike by an aircraft, for example. The other is to be used -- because it does create white smoke -- to be used as a screening agent so that you can move your forces without being seen by the enemy. It is not a chemical weapon, it is an incendiary (sic) [It is not an incendiary weapon as defined by the 1980 Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons], and it is well within the law of war to use those weapons as they are being used for marking and for screening. Q But you and I have both seen the results of "Willy Pete" in Vietnam. And when it's on the skin, it doesn't stop burning until it goes all the way through or runs out of oxygen. It's a pretty tough weapon. Do you want to use it in urban areas such as Fallujah? GEN. PACE: No armed force in the world goes to greater effort than your armed force to protect civilians and to be very precise in the way we apply our power. A bullet goes through skin even faster than white phosphorus does. So I would rather have the proper instrument applied at the proper time as precisely as possible to get the job done in a way that kills as many of the bad guys as possible and does as little collateral damage as possible. That is just the nature of warfare. SEC. RUMSFELD: Let's see if there's a New York Times editorial quoting General Pace tomorrow. Unlikely.
THE WAR OVER WILLY PETE is at a stalemate. A lot of smoke. The Times asks a question the Pentagon doesn’t think needs an answer. Defenders of WP will find nothing new, nor will opponents. Only the people who talk about the topic change, the positions not at all.
IRAQIS HAVE DECIDED Iraq is their country after all. This presents problems for the country that said it would stay in Iraq as long as it takes and not a day longer. How do you pick a time to leave when a leading Iraqi cleric (Allah’s pick?) says Iraqis would do better if they led the fight you have led so far? How do you pick a time to leave when Allawi (the former US pick!) says security is worse off than it was under Saddam Hussein? Have we been blind to what has been going on or has someone thrown sand in our eyes on this? NO ONE COULD HAVE FORESEEN these sudden problems of Iraqis taking the fire of freedom and burning the Bush administration with it. We don’t want the next smoking gun to be a huge explosion in the Green Zone. The cleric obviously has an agenda as does Allawi. Maybe the United States could put listening on the President’s agenda. Whatever “victory” is in that war sundered land must be an Iraqi one. We are blind if we insist otherwise.
IF THE CALL of Abdul Aziz Hakim, head of the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq, were not enough concern for the United States, another more contentious cleric Moktada al-Sadr has grown yet more powerful. His militia the Mahdi Army has not disbanded. al-Sadr has been more than a mote in American eye for some time. In ways the United States may not see (or is it not officially recognize?), al-Sadr embodies the United States condundrum in Iraq. Foremost he doesn't accept United States authority.
STANDING AS A GUERILLA in opposition, al-Sadr also instructs his Mahdi followers to join the local police forces. The question of who controls Iraqi security and how it will evolve could not be more in focus. Shiite control of security forces has been blamed for the vengeful torture that recently took place at the Interior Ministry. The British think a purge of al-Sadr elements in the police is in order before they can withdraw. Withdrawal for the British is inevitable.
WITHDRAWAL BY UNITED STATES forces is already taking place. Or is the preferred word "redeployed?" Entire cities and regions have been left to the Iraqis to contend with among themselves. If we are taking the fight to "the terrorists" over there so we don't have to fight them here, "over there" is growing smaller and more specific. If things continue at the present pace, at some point we may not be able to see how small "over there" is.
RECOMMENDED ADDITIONAL READING THE WAY FORWARD [LA Times] Iraq's Sunni, Shiite and Kurdish leaders have finally found an issue on which they agree: a timetable for the U.S. to leave Iraq. That's fine. They have also agreed it's permissible for insurgents to kill U.S. soldiers. That's dreadful. But it's also the realization of prewar fears that if the aftermath of the invasion went poorly, American troops would be viewed not as liberators but as occupiers. The politicians did not spell out an exact date for U.S. troops to leave. That may be the reason the White House so far has not linked them to filmmaker Michael Moore, as it did 10 days ago in smearing decorated combat veteran Rep. John P. Murtha (D-Pa.) when he called for a immediate withdrawal of troops.
IRAQ, THEN AND NOW [Michael J.W.Stickings/ The Moderate Voice] Allawi is surely onto something. He may overstate the case, and he may
have an ax to grind, but abuse is a reality in present-day Iraq -- and
I don't mean Abu Ghraib-style abuse. And what concerns me, given this
ongoing abuse, is that Iraqis will soon have to govern themselves
without the large-scale presence of an occupying power. Are they
prepared to do so without sliding back into Saddam-style oppression?
WILL THE LAST HAWK Bush declare victory and leave Iraq? Can he do it without cutting and running? Or will he say the troops are trained enough and now we can start to pull out of that country we fucked helped towards democracy? Are we witnessing freedom on the march interruptus? We interrupt this occupation for an important announcement. As Iraqi forces stand up, we will stand down. We will fall down getting out of there quickly, but not quickly as those who would cut and run would. We will throw up as they stand down. We now return to regular programming. Is there a principle here or is everything secondary to politics?
WHEN DOVES CRY the war has been a disaster, they are attacked as fools. When former hawks say it’s time for a change, they are charged as traitors by the likes of Schmidt and Coldsore Coulter. When can we expect the attack dogs of the Bush administration to attack the Bush administration for its cowardly cut and run ways? The last hawk Bush now prepares to fly from what he said before. Will it fly or is what flies bullshit changed policy?
SOMETHING NOW falls from the skies and must be called for what it is. Hawkshit. Put on a hat because the storm won't end soon
A CLARIFICATION When the last hawk plans his flight out of Baghdad, it is not cutting and running, it is groundwork. Oy.
SO WILL IT FLY? The fire of freedom burns at The Heretik. Diebold democracy rules. Some votes are in on Bush’s new “groundwork.” John Cole of Balloon Juice votes NO, sort of: While drawing down 40k of 160k troops over the next year is certainly not cutting and running, I think it is pretty clear this decision is being based on domestic political considerations rather than facts on the ground. The mood grows tense. Maha votes YES, wtf: In other words, he’s going to declare victory so the troops can go home. Which is, of course, ENTIRELY DIFFERENT (snark) from “cutting and running.” And I’m predicting now that the “two-year withdrawal period” will be considerably shorter than two years.
THE HERETIK WILL tally the votes and if they are not as he would like, they will be discarded in favor of ones that are.
ALSO RECOMMENDED SAY IT AIN'T SO, CONDI Frozen Eli Lakesuffers meltdown in the NY Sun: If this latest diplomatic foray is not checked by some common sense it could become the exit strategy so many of the Bush administration's more feckless critics are demanding.
THE DEVIL IN THE DETAILS Joe Gandelman points out an inherent dishonesty: The Bush adminstration has insisted that setting any kind of even nebulous date for a withdrawal encourages the enemy to hold out and get even bolder. Translation: it has insinuated that by setting a timetable more American military could be killed. And it turned this into a partisan jihad, going after one political party when even some members of the GOP are voicing increasing doubts.
THE HERETIK SAYS to Bush and the rest: Oy. Somebody buy me a rubbersuit. The hawkshit will rain down for years, not that I am setting a timetable. Critics of the Bush administration must not encourage the enemy by criticizing the Bush administration that encourages the enemy. Or something.
WHOSE COUNTRY is it anyway? Iraq was easy when it was a case of Us vs Them. But Them has changed and Them don’t want Us anymore. Baby, it's not you, it's me. What a sad breakup. As reported yesterday, at the same time Dick Cheney was denouncing cut and run cowards in America for suggesting a timetable for American withdrawal or drawdown or just getting out of there, the Iraqis themselves were saying just the same thing. We appreciate your help. Blah, blah, blah. We want our forces trained. Blah, blah. But get out, Americans. Thank you. We will do it for ourselves. President Talabani said as much back in June. [story]
OH, AND OUR communique says targeting innocent Iraqis is bad but outside interventionists have a bullseye on their backs. Ta Ta. Arrivaderci. Don’t let the door hit the coalition of the willing on the way out.
WE MAY BE THANKFUL that the likes of Jean Schmidt will march right into Iraq to straighten those pesky Iraqis out. Or yell really loud. How will the United States keep the Islamofascists from establishing the caliphate of hate and its ideology of violence from here to Spain to Indonesia to the entire universe if we cannot fight them there? Will we really have to fight them here if we no longer can fight them in Iraq in the central front in the war on terror?
THE UNITED STATES NOW FACES a political catastrophe. Rhetoric falls before reality. Trench warfare awaits as various United States officials cover their um asses and toss dirt on each other for who is to blame for digging deeper in the quicksand.
TRULY IT WILL BE the test of democracy George Bush said it would be. The elected Iraqi government has spoken. We can no longer use their playground, even to kick the world’s new bullies' butts. How dare the Iraqis opt out of the the global war on terror! When the United States is out of Iraq, perhaps we can find and fight the terrorists where they really are.
RECOMMENDED ADDITIONAL READING CLINTON AND BIDENCUT AND RUN FOR PRESIDENT [WaPo] Biden and Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (N.Y.), both of whom are mentioned as potential candidates for the party's 2008 presidential nomination, praised Murtha yesterday even as they disagreed with the specifics of his proposal. Biden said he shared the "frustration" voiced by Murtha and others but was "not there yet" on Murtha's policy prescriptions. Clinton predicted that a hasty withdrawal would "cause more problems for us in America."
THE HERETIK NOTES Biden brave and noncommittal to the end. Not there yet? Doubtful he will ever be. Unless everyone is there ahead of him. And who actually is out front on this? Could be a surprise that is no surprise at all
ARE YOU TALKING TO ME? [Juan Cole] Sources at the conference told al-Hayat that they envisaged the withdrawal of foreign military forces from the cities within 6 months (i.e. mid-May?). They said that the withdrawal would be completed over a period of two years (i.e. November 2007). This timetable, al-Hayat says, appears actually to have been put forward by the Americans themselves. If that is true, we finally know exactly what George W. Bush means by "staying the course." It is a course that takes us to withdrawal.
THE BATTLE OVER WILLY PETE continues. What the facts are on white phosphorus use, what international weapons conventions apply, what the each side’s motivations are in the debate has reached a toxic level. Each side seeks to incinerate the other quickly. The debate of the weapon has become a metaphor for the debate on the war itself [story]
"It's discredited the American military without any basis in fact," said John E. Pike, an expert on weapons who runs GlobalSecurity.org, an independent clearinghouse for military information. He said the "stupidity and incompetence" of official comments had fueled suspicions of a cover-up. "The story most people around the world have is that the Americans are up to their old tricks - committing atrocities and lying about it," Mr. Pike said. "And that's completely incorrect." Daryl G. Kimball, director of the Arms Control Association, a nonprofit organization that researches nuclear issues, was more cautious. In light of the issues raised since the film was shown, he said, the Defense Department, and perhaps an independent body, should review whether American use of white phosphorus had been consistent with international weapons conventions. "There are legitimate questions that need to be asked," Mr. Kimball said. Given the history of Saddam Hussein's use of chemical weapons in Iraq, he said, "we have to be extremely careful" to comply with treaties and the rules of war.
WILLY PETEIN WAR serves to illuminate the battlefield in its legitimate use. What Willy Pete shows now is the shadow war over the war itself
IRAQI LEADERS JUST FINISHED meeting in Cairo to discuss among other things a timetable for US withdrawal at the same time Dick Cheney was saying withdrawal would be a disaster. [story]
Iraqi leaders, meeting at a reconciliation conference in Cairo, urged an end to violence in the country and demanded a timetable for the withdrawal of coalition troops from Iraq. In a final statement, read by Arab League chief Amre Moussa, host of the three-day summit, they called for ``the withdrawal of foreign troops according to a timetable, through putting in place an immediate national program to rebuild the armed forces.'' No date was specified. ``The Iraqi people look forward to the day when the foreign forces leave Iraq, when it's armed and security forces will be rebuilt and when they can enjoy peace and stability and get rid of terrorism,'' the leaders said in the statement. The session was broadcast live from the Egyptian capital by al-Jazeera.
Those who advocate a sudden withdraw from Iraq should answer a couple simple questions. Would the United States and other free nations be better off or worse off with Zarqawi, Bin Laden and Zawahiri in control Iraq?"
A FEW QUESTIONS: What about the Iraqis? Does the White House care what the Iraqis think? When will House Republicans attack Iraqi “cowards” for insisting on A timetable for withdrawal?
MORE: Think Progress has a bit about different view between Cheney and Rumsfeld.
AND BUMILLER [NY Times] Is there a rift in their relationship? Or is the couple just drifting apart? Has the senior partner taken the junior partner to the woodshed? And who is the senior partner, anyway? They spend quality time together, just the two of them . . . .”
ARE DICK AND BUSH TOGETHER? *Sigh*
MORE DICK TODAY CHENEY CONTINUES with his ability to say one thing in one sentence and then seem to pull back from it in the next. The first charge still sticks.
One might also argue that untruthful charges against the Commander-in-Chief have an insidious effect on the war effort itself. I'm unwilling to say that, only because I know the character of the United States Armed Forces -- men and women who are fighting the war on terror in Iraq, Afghanistan, and many other fronts.
IT IS THE ESSENCE of Dick, “the one” in the first sentence to make the same charges he made last week, and then say he is “unwilling” to make the same charges right after he has made the charges. The Heretik, "the one" in this sentence says Oy.