Filtered news 1/11

"Sending more Americans would undermine our strategy of encouraging Iraqis to take the lead in this fight. And sending more Americans would suggest that we intend to stay forever..." -- Liar in Chief, June 2005

"If we faltered, the forces of chaos would scent victory and decades of strife and aggression would stretch endlessly before us. The choice was clear. We would stay the course. And we shall stay the course." -- LBJ, 40 years ago

Cheers to world peace. It took New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson just days to do what Condi Rice et al. couldn't: broker a . Whoa, slow down, Dems! Stop fixing everything all at once. No one likes a showoff.

The dude on the $10 bill. Happy 252nd birthday, Alexander Hamilton, you rascal you! He was an indispensable part of America's birth...but a very poor dodger of ye olde musket ball. Pay . Alexander Hamilton predicting the Rise of King Bush II: "Now, mark my words. So long as we are a young and virtuous people, this instrument will bind us together in mutual interests, mutual welfare, and mutual happiness. But when we become old and corrupt, it will bind no longer." Chilling.

Texans with sharp teeth. Happy birthday to watchdog Jim Hightower...64 today. One of his book titles ought to be the mantra of the Democratic party: "There's Nothing in the Middle of the Road but Yellow Stripes and Dead Armadillos." Read more at his . And remember: "If you do not speak up when it matters, when would it matter that you speak? The opposite of courage is conformity. Even a dead fish can go with the flow."

What liberal media? ABC, NBC, and CBS all returned to regular programming. Fox held a post-speech discussion with National Review editor Rich Lowry and Democratic strategist Kirsten Powers, followed by an interview with Fox News military analyst retired Lt. Gen. Thomas McInerney, instead of cutting to Sen. Durbin. PBS and cable news networks CNN, MSNBC, and Fox News all aired Durbin's response.

What liberal media? Part II My copy of this morning's Wisconsin State Journal features an AP photo in the center of the upper fold of Page One depicting Army Staff Sgt. James Woodford, who watched Bush's speech an an airport TV in Atlanta -- and who supports the escalation. Now, given that the majority of troops, the majority of generals and the entire joint chiefs of staff oppose the escalation, why would the AP and the WSJ choose to run this photo of this guy on this morning in such a prominent position?

While he talked bipartisansip, he did this.... Breaking News from

Troop Surge Already Under Way
90 Advance Troops from 82nd Airborne Arrive in Baghdad

BAGHDAD, Iraq, Jan. 10, 2007— - President Bush's speech may be scheduled for tonight, but the troop surge in Iraq is already under way. ABC News has learned that the "surge" President Bush is expected to announce in a primetime speech tonight has already begun. Ninety advance troops from the 82nd Airborne division arrived in Baghdad today.

There's the "bipartisanship." The willingness to "work with" Congress to chart a new course in Iraq. The says 800 more troops to arrive in Baghdad tomorrow.

And they're going in almost naked, again If it's , it's so:

Better armor lacking for new troops in Iraq

WASHINGTON -- The thousands of troops that President Bush is expected to order to Iraq will join the fight largely without the protection of the latest armored vehicles that withstand bomb blasts far better than the Humvees in wide use, military officers said.

and falling.

Did the officers who allegedly they wanted more troops tell him to send them without armor? One explanation for the lack of proper armor:

[L]ack of money only partly explains why, four years into the war, there is a shortage of vehicles that can effectively survive an IED.

"The key reason it is taking so long is pretty simple: At each step along the way for the past four years, the key policymakers have assumed we were just months away from beginning to withdraw" from Iraq, said Loren B. Thompson, a national security analyst at the Lexington Institute, a nonpartisan think tank in Arlington, Va. "As a result, they never made long-term plans for occupying the country effectively."

As noted below by , it's commonly acknowledged that one of the single most costly mistakes made in the entire course of the war was to send the troops there with inadequate armor in the first place. To do it again, knowing what we know now about how this enemy fights, is an abdication of all responsibility by this Commander in Chief.

Bush will take to the air tonight with a that "mistakes were made":

"The president will say very clearly tonight that there were mistakes with the earlier operations, that it did not have enough Iraqi troops or U.S. troops, that the rules of engagement -- the terms in which our troops would actually conduct these operations -- were flawed," Bartlett said.

Then he'll go right ahead and make one of the same mistakes. Without mentioning that one, of course.

And have you ever seen spin this bald-faced?

"A vast majority of the American people are not satisfied with the progress in Iraq," Bartlett said. "President Bush is in their camp. He's not satisfied. He's going to say the strategy was not working. He's going to tell them specifically how we're going to fix the strategy."

"He's in their camp?"

He's in outer space, folks.

Leave it to the British to put things in perspective:

General: Now, Field Marshal Hague has formulated a brilliant new tactical plan to ensure final victory in the field.

Captain Blackadder: Ah, would this brilliant plan involve us climbing out of our trenches and walking very slowly towards the enemy, sir?

Captain Darling: How could you possibly know that Blackadder? It's classified information!

Captain Blackadder: It's the same plan that we used last time, and the seventeen times before that.

General: Exactly! And that is what is so brilliant about it! It will catch the watchful Hun totally off guard. Doing precisely what we've done eighteen times before is exactly the last thing they'll expect us to do this time! There is, however, one small problem...

Captain Blackadder: That everyone always gets slaughtered in the first ten seconds?

General: That's right. And Field Marshal Hague is worried that this may be depressing the men a tad. So, he's looking to find a way to cheer them up.

Captain Blackadder: Well, his resignation and suicide would seem the obvious.

Watch . Not to sound premature, but I'm wondering if President Bush didn’t hand us the keys to the White House last night.

Decisive ideological battles Bush : "The challenge playing out across the broader Middle East is more than a military conflict. It is the decisive ideological struggle of our time." Last few times we had those, the President of the United States moved heaven and earth to mobilize the nation and throw everything we could at the problem. Among other things, that meant a military draft. That was certainly the case in WWII, which wingnuts like to use as a comparison. It also happened during the anti-communism wars in Korea and Viet Nam (the latter being a far better, if imperfect, comparison for the current war). I can't take anyone bellowing crap like "decisive ideological struggle of our time" seriously when they refuse to call for the sort of national sacrifice that a real "decisive ideological struggle of our time" would demand. If Bush and his pals truly believe the fate of Western civilization hangs in the balance, they should show they mean it. Mobilize the country. Call for a draft. If they don't -- and it's clear that "more troops equals victory" is the current solution to everything -- then they're revealed as cynical con men more interested in passing the buck to the next president than in any real "struggle" over anything more than Bush's pride.

Quoting Keith Olbermann: "It is [Bush's] credibility versus that of generals, diplomats, allies, Republicans, Democrats, the Iraq Study group, past presidents, voters last November, and the majority of the American people." Other than that, Mrs. Lincoln, how did you like the play?

Remember our troops. How fun it must be to be caught in the middle of a never-ending war fueled by revenge, vanity, oil, and dirty politics. After all this is over, they will be the only ones to emerge with their honor (if not their limbs) intact.

Escalation. No, not in Iraq, silly. Faculty members at SMU are getting louder in their opposition to being the home of the . Happily, they agreed to meet planners halfway and name a urinal after him.

Dems make good on another promise For the first time in nearly a decade, the House of Representatives voted 315-116 today to boost the minimum wage from $5.15 per hour to $7.25 per hour.

American dream revoked Number of home foreclosures expected to hit people who took out subprime loans over the last nine years: 2.2. million Amount of wealth that will be wiped out as a result: $164 Billion
(Source: Center for Responsible Lending)

Dubya's next war President Bush’s address to the nation tonight included “.” Bush accused the Iranian government of “providing material support for attacks on American troops” and vowed to “seek out and destroy the networks providing advanced weaponry and training to our enemies.” Bush added, “I recently ordered the deployment of an additional carrier strike group to the region.” The White House with details about the president’s new policy. “Increase operations against Iranian actors” was listed in the “Key Tactical Shifts” section.

The New York Times notes, “One senior administration official said this evening that the omission of the usual wording about seeking a diplomatic solution [to the Iranian nuclear stand-off] ‘.’”

We are ruled by children (with apologies to those children who are morally and intellectually superior to the brats who are running and ruining our country) I realize that the Bush White House looked at the Iraq Study Group with some disdain. So-called “elder statesman,” mostly friends of Bush’s dad, weren’t going to come in and tell the president how to wage his war, no siree. Within a few minutes of Bush thanking ISG members for their work, Bush made the panel instantly irrelevant. The report that was going to “change everything” went from front-of-the-bookstore to remainder-table-discount in a matter of days.

But far more troubling is the notion that the Bush administration has shaped its escalation plan in part .

Although the president was publicly polite, few of the key Baker-Hamilton recommendations appealed to the administration, which intensified its own deliberations over a new “way forward” in Iraq. How to look distinctive from the study group became a recurring theme. As described by participants in the administration review, some staff members on the National Security Council became enamored of the idea of sending more troops to Iraq in part because it was not a key feature of Baker-Hamilton. (emphasis added)

I had to read that a couple of times to make sure I wasn’t seeing things. The Bush gang decided to change course in Iraq, but went out of their way to “look distinctive” from the Iraq Study Group? Troop escalation wasn’t in the ISG report, so the Bush gang latched onto the idea because the ISG didn’t endorse it? As if this all some kind of exercise in Oedipal spite?

Exactly what kind of men-children are we dealing with here? Legal Fiction’s publius, who also seemed disturbed by this, had a on the subject.

[I]f the NSC official is correct, Bush is picking this option out of vanity and spite simply because the Baker Group didn’t offer it. All in all, it sounds like a promising strategy. After all, if history has taught us nothing else, it’s that military strategies with no empirical basis adopted out of pride and vanity are usually phenomenally successful.

Be afraid.

Community rating for health insurance One of the arguments in favor of limited universal healthcare proposals -- like the one Arnold Schwarzenegger unveiled on Tuesday for California -- is that it's the best we can realistically hope for. Sure, an honest-to-goodness single-payer system might be superior, but special interests will never allow it to happen. Better to mollify the special interests and take what we can get.

Over at TNR, In fact, his guess is that special interests will fight just as hard to kill any plan, no matter what we do to try to get them on board:

This is one reason that, paradoxically, plans like Schwarzenegger's -- which seek to graft universal coverage onto the existing private insurance system, rather than create a single-payer plan that would supplant private insurance altogether -- may actually be as hard, if not harder, to accomplish politically. Any plan for universal health care is bound to offend at least some special interests. And these special interests will fight hard. So while trying to soften their opposition with a less radical plan helps, it may be more important to craft an alternative that captures voters' imaginations and rallies support behind it -- even if that means proposing even more sweeping changes.

The same thing is true nationally. Although Schwarzenegger would surely resist the comparison, his plan has more than a few elements in common with the Clinton health-care plan. The architects of that scheme tried very hard to come up with something that would please various stakeholders. That's a big reason that they, like Schwarzenegger, rejected calls for a single-payer system and settled instead on a proposal in which most people would continue to get insurance through the private sector. Yet, to their dismay, few of those stakeholders became enthusiastic supporters of the Clinton health-care plan. In fact, quite a few attacked it, pretty much sealing its defeat. It's easy to imagine a similar scenario playing out here.

This is the reason I swing back and forth on whether it's worth supporting half-hearted plans like Schwarzenegger's.

On the pro side: (1) It's better than nothing. If it helps people even a little bit, that's better than letting them suffer while we all wait for nirvana. (2) Liberals have gotten burned more times than I can count by not accepting half measures when they were offered. Inevitably, a decade later, we wish we'd accepted the compromise and then worked to improve it. (3) It might work. Stranger things have happened.

On the con side: (1) Cohn is right. You need public support to overcome special interest inertia, and the only way to get that is with a simple plan that people understand. Compromises just don't generate the requisite enthusiasm. (2) Compromise plans sometimes lock weird incentives into place forever. Just take a look at how the United States ended up with employer-based healthcare in the first place. (3) One of the whole points of single-payer healthcare is that it saves a lot of money by reducing administrative costs. Compromise plans don't. Without the cost savings, it's possible that we'll end up with a system that's even worse than what we have now.

In the end, the reason I support Schwarzenegger's plan is because it includes insurance company regulation, and in particular because it enforces community rating (i.e., a requirement that insurers accept all comers at the same price, regardless of age, occupation, or medical history). And while I can't back this up with a solid argument, my gut tells me that community rating will eventually put private healthcare insurers out of business. Even with universal coverage, there are just too many contradictions in trying to run a profit-making insurance company while being forced to insure even people that you know for an absolute fact you're going to lose money on.

I might be wrong about that. Insurance company managers are clever folks, after all, and might very well figure out how to game the system just well enough to stay around. But there's at least a chance that Schwarzenegger's plan will lead to their eventual demise, and thence to a more efficient, more rational healthcare system. For now, that prospect is enough to get me on board.

Shorter Jimmy Dobson : blessed are those with lobbying connections!

Focus on the Family Action Chairman James C. Dobson, Ph.D., today called on Americans to contact their senators about a measure he said constitutes "a grave threat" to freedom of speech.

"Democrats and a few Republicans are trying very, very quickly to insulate themselves from the public -- and to do it by muzzling people like us," Dobson said on his Focus on the Family radio broadcast.

S. 1, a lobbying-reform bill, is the first to come to a vote in the new Democrat-controlled Congress. One of its many provisions would require grassroots groups to report directly to the secretary of the Senate and clerk of the House any time they spend money to communicate to their constituents on public-policy issues that are before Congress.

Shorter Tony Perkins (same source): screw Separation of Church and State!

"Even pastors who would encourage the members of their congregation to call their senators, their congressmen, about marriage, about life issues," Perkins said, "could theoretically fall under the provisions of this measure."

Shorter Gary Bauer: lobbyists suck! Hypocrisy rules!

Gary Bauer, president of American Values, said on the broadcast that 'money talks' in the nation's capital. Some kind of lobbying reform really is needed, he said, just not one that's aimed at ordinary people.

"There's a place right outside the chambers of the Congress on Capitol Hill called 'Gucci Gulf,' " Bauer said. "It's called that because along that hallway there are lobbyists who make millions of dollars a year lining the walls in their Gucci shoes that cost $1,000 a pair.

"They are able to slip into legislation -- literally in the dark of night -- all kinds of amendments that help the special interests. It might be Big Unions, or Big Business or some foreign government that's hired a lobbyist. That's what the American people want an end to -- that's the scandalous stuff!"

There's more, but I won't bore you with the quotes. One of the richest quotes is a Dobson flunkie complaining that unions, corporations, and 527s are exempt from the new lobbying disclosure rules. Focus on the Family, you will recall, opened an advocacy wing before the 2004 elections so that Dobson could lobby without endangering the parent company's tax-free status. It was a resounding failure. Perhaps they're all worried that the won't be able to operate as effectively as it has in the past.

This is nothing but sour grapes after a crushing electoral defeat, and in the case of Gary Bauer, some serious chutzpah. I didn't notice his concern over Gucci gulf when Republicans controlled Congress and lobbyists were writing the legislation and he was . I file this in the same category as churches owning airplanes: The Imperial Faith, or, How On Earth Does This Square With "Foxes Have Holes, And Birds Of The Air Have Nests, But The Son Of Man Has Nowhere To Lay His Head"?

I gotta work on that filing system.

This guy must be reading those subversive Gospels Tonight the president announced his plan to by sending additional U.S. troops. His plan flies in the face of advice offered by and has the clear potential of worsening the that has exploded since the initial U.S. invasion. Religious leaders have called for the and I reaffirm my support for that position. Like Christians across the world - from the Vatican to the World Council of Churches - I remained convinced that the president's policies have created a deep moral crisis and that escalation of the war will create further chaos. Furthermore, I endorse calls in Congress to from the administration that would be used to pay for additional troops in Iraq. The Prince of Peace calls on us to reject war and to seek justice and we have not done enough to answer that call. -- The Rev.

Thomas Jefferson for today: "I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just, that His justice cannot sleep forever." May God have mercy on all of us for putting up with this criminal, sin-degraded administration a second longer than we had to.

The hate they spew The heat is raining down on KSFO and their crew over the hate speech that permeates the airwaves. Already almost 15,000 people have listened to what we're talking about. Morgan, Sussman and Lee tried to get Spocko's site closed down by ABC. | |

Morgan: Senator Obama, who is, as you call, a 'Halfrican' –
Sussman: Halfrican and, again, his father was — his father was from Kenya, his mother's white … My opinion as your average white guy — he is not allowed to wear the African-American badge because his family are not the descendants of slaves.

ABC's not going to change the hate, they're just going to go after the people that point it out. Very nice. The KSFO crowd can keep saying what they like, but don't expect advertisers to pony up for it. We're all very partisan, but we use facts to make our case and not some weird fascination with violence. And bloggers like Spocko will have C&L's support when they expose it. (h/t Joe for the video)

(CBS 5) SAN FRANCISCO At least two major corporations have pulled their advertisements from San Francisco radio station KSFO-AM after bloggers publicized clips of broadcasts in which hosts took aim at politicians and a listener believed to be Muslim. (full the fold) -13426">(Read the rest of this story…)

HOLY CRAP: communication with God…The Christian Right and …Here's an outfit which believes that contraception is a form of abortion and that

Like the good conservative pundit he is, Stephen gives President Bush some pointers on how to effectively "sell" the "surge" during tonight's primetime address — in a language he can understand. | |

Did they offer Kerry an apology in person? It's been a bad time for the right wing blogosphere. gets embarrassed. embarrassed and now a whole bunch more have to apologize to him in the most ridiculous fashion—by taking a . : In this particular instance, it appears, Kerry was not spurned by the troops. I stand corrected and apologize for the error. I hope they made an attempt to contact John Kerry personally. A lot of us have fun with graphics all the time, but we don't pretend it's anything other than that. There's a big difference in being partisan, but sticking with the facts. They are being partisan while rearranging the facts to meet their needs. Eric Boehlert has more on the AP story…

Why is my Dad in Gitmo? Excerpt: Ten-year-old Anas el-Banna will walk to 10 Downing Street this week to ask: Why can't my Dad come home? His father, Jamil, is one of eight British residents languishing at Gitmo, which opened five years ago tomorrow. Mr Banna, was taken to Gitmo four years ago after being seized in Gambia. He was accused of having a suspicious device in his luggage. It turned out to be a battery charger. No charges have been made.

"I doubt Hillary could become president because a woman should be past her sexuality when she runs. Hillary still has sexual power, and I don't think people will accept that. It's too threatening." -- Sharon Stone, according to

Hey Dubya, where's your smirk? : "George W. Bush spoke with all the confidence of a perp in a police lineup. I first interviewed the guy in 1987 and began covering his political rise in 1993, and I have never seen him, in public or private, look less convincing, less sure of himself, less cocky. With his knitted brow and stricken features, he looked, well, scared. Not surprising since what he was doing in the White House library was announcing the escalation of an unpopular war."

The important stuff I think William Arkin hits on the one in the president's speech: the direct threats of military force against Syria and Iran. I guess that counts as escalation too.

Larry Johnson: .

It won't do either Sen. Mikulski (D-MD): "This is a reckless plan -- it is about saving the Bush presidency, not about saving Iraq."

No sh*t Sherlock are early excerpts from President Bush's speech tonight. Our favorite: "Victory [in Iraq] will not look like the ones our fathers and grandfathers achieved. There will be no surrender ceremony on the deck of a battleship."

Was God not pleased? Gen. William 'Our Strategic Enemy is Satan' Boykin gets at the Pentagon. I think She's pissed.

He wants to be whatever the Wingnuts want him to be Curious to see what "authentic conservative" Mitt Romney looked and sounded like in real time back when he was a liberal? We've got some video of Romney in 1994, forcefully declaring his support for abortion rights and distancing himself from Ronald Reagan. Sit back and view it .

Another favorite Dubya quote: "Acting on the good advice of Senator Joe Lieberman and other key members of Congress, we will form a new, bipartisan working group that will help us come together across party lines to win the war on terror. This group will meet regularly with me and my administration; it will help strengthen our relationship with Congress." So the Republican and Connecticut for Lieberman parties will be represented. I suppose that's a start. Now if they would make it tri-partisan and include a Democrat or two, that would be something. I'm sure Bush can scrounge up one or two real Democrats to give him cover.

So far off the deep end, he's out of sight Being John McCain in 2007, heir apparent, seemingly means embracing the mantle of George W. Bush. All of it. Even down the the really deluded stuff.

RUSSERT: Go back, Senator, to 2002. The administration saying we would be greeting as liberators. John McCain saying that you thought success would be fairly easy.

MCCAIN: It was.

RUSSERT: In all honesty...

MCCAIN: It was easy, it was easy. I said the military operation would be easy. It was easy. We were greeted as liberators. And then there was a period of time...

Crooks and Liars has and more linky goodness.

Knock Out blow Keith Olberman reviews the lack of credibility that has permeated the Commander in Chief on Iraq. | | Keith: We would be greeted as liberators, with flowers. As they stood up–we would stand down, we would stay the course, we were never 'stay the course',The enemy was al Qaeda, was foreigners, terrorists, Baathists. The war would pay for itself, it would cost 1-point-7 billion dollars, 100 billion, 400 billion, half a trillion dollars. And after all of that, today it is his credibility versus that of generals, diplomats, allies, Republicans, Democrats, the Iraq Study Group, past presidents, voters last November, and the majority of the American people. -13443">(Read the rest of this story…)

"Going back now some four years, who can point to even a single Bush administration decision
in Iraq, either strategic or tactical, that didn't turn out to be either a bad idea or a complete disaster?
Anything? One good call? When the president goes before the people on Wednesday, he is basically
saying, trust me...given the track record and the fact that few people outside the White House seem
to think this is a good idea, what possible basis is there to put any trust in Bush's latest gambit?"
-- Josh Marshall, right as usual.

What liberal media? Part III The job of any White House it to promote its agenda so they use clever phrases whenever possible. It doesn't mean that the media has to or should use them. Isn't that like Journalism, 101? I've heard right wingers complaining when the Media labels it an "escalation," which it is. Question: "When has the term "surge" ever been used to describe a military action before?"

Bush sends GIs to die in his private fantasyland To listen to Bush's speech on Wednesday, you would imagine that al-Qaeda has occupied large swathes of Iraq with the help of Syria and Iran and is brandishing missiles at the US mainland. That the president of the United States can come out after nearly four years of such lies and try to put this fantasy over on the American people is shameful.

The answer to "al-Qaeda's" occupation of neighborhoods in Baghdad and the cities of al-Anbar is then, Bush says, to send in more US troops to "clear and hold" these neighborhoods.

But is that really the big problem in Iraq? Bush is thinking in terms of a conventional war, where armies fight to hold territory. But if a nimble guerrilla group can come out at night and set off a bomb at the base of a large tenement building in a Shiite neighborhood, they can keep the sectarian civil war going. They work by provoking reprisals. They like to hold territory if they can. But as we saw with Fallujah and Tal Afar, if they cannot they just scatter and blow things up elsewhere.

And the main problem is not "al-Qaeda," which is small and probably not that important, and anyway is not really Bin Laden's al-Qaeda. They are just Salafi jihadis who appropriated the name. When their leader, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, was killed, it didn't cause the insurgency to miss a beat. Conclusion: "al-Qaeda" is not central to the struggle. Izzat Ibrahim Duri and the Baath Party are probably the center of gravity of the resistance.

Bush admitted that the Sunni guerrilla destruction of the Askariyah (Golden Dome) shrine at Samarra set off an orgy of sectarian reprisals. But he does not seem to have actually absorbed the lesson here. The guerrillas did not have to hold territory in order to carry out that bombing. They just had to be able to sneak into a poorly guarded old building that Bush did not even know about and blow it up. The symbolic and psychic damage that they did to the Shiites was profound. Blowing up hundreds of worshippers on Ashura had not had nearly this impact, since the damaged shrine was dedicated to the hidden Twelfth Imam or Mahdi, the Shiite promised one. Many religious Shiites in Iraq are now millenarians, desperately waiting for the Promised One to reveal himself and restore the world to justice. The guerrillas hit the symbol of that hope.

There are other such targets. The Shrine of Imam Kadhim at Kadhimiya, the shrine of Ali in Najaf, and the shrine of Husayn in Karbala, and the person of Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani himself, also the person of Hujjat al-Islam Muqtada al-Sadr. (The arrogance and ignorance of the US chattering classes is such that they openly talk about "taking out" al-Sadr, as though that would calm the Iraqi Shiites down. Saddam thought like that when he offed Muqtada's father; didn't work.) The . Investments in guarding those sites (the most exposed of which is Kahdimiya) would be worth far more than temporarily intimidating angry Sunnis who have picked up a gun in the Dura neighborhood of Baghdad.

Bush could not help taking swipes at Iran and Syria. But the geography of his deployments gives the lie to his singling them out as mischief makers. Why send 4,000 extra troops to al-Anbar province? Why ignore Diyala Province near Iran, which is in flames, or Babel Province southwest of Baghdad? Diyala borders Iran, so isn't that the threat? But wait. Where is al-Anbar? Between Jordan and Baghdad. In other words, al-Anbar opens out into the vast Sunni Arab hinterland that supports the guerrilla movement with money and volunteers, coming in from Jordan. If Syria was the big problem, you would put the extra 4,000 troops up north along the border. If Iran was the big problem, you'd occupy Diyala. But little Jordan is an ally of the US, and Bush would not want to insult it by admitting that it is a major infiltration root for jihadis heading to Iraq.

The clear and hold strategy is not going to work in al-Anbar. Almost everyone there hates the Americans and wants them out. To clear and hold you need a sympathetic or potentially sympathetic civilian population that is being held hostage by militants, and which you can turn by offering them protection from the militants. I don't believe there are very many Iraqi Sunnis who can any longer be turned in that way. The opinion polling suggests that they overwhelmingly support violence against the US.

This strategy may have some successes here and there. It won't win the day, and I'd be surprised if it did not collapse by the end of the summer.

If part of the strategy is to assault the Mahdi Army frontally, that will cause enormous trouble in the Shiite south. or face the US military is in fact code. He is telling the Sadrists to lie low while the US mops up the Sunni Arab guerrillas. Sadr's militia became relatively quiescent for a whole year after the Marines defeated it at Najaf in August, 2004. But since it is rooted in an enormous social movement, the militia is fairly easy to reconstitute after it goes into hiding.

not to just withdraw from Iraq, fearing regional chaos.

compares Bush's speech to Kissinger's indirection during the 1972 negotiations with the N. Vietnamese. Making people think you are making progress when you are not has been a finely honed skill of this administration, far beyond anything Nixon could have dreamed of. But the dream machine is running up against Lincoln's dictum that you can't fool all the people all the time.


January 11, 2007 - 10:15am