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This page > Military Basra/Sadr City Iraq/Middle-East Political Developments Iraq-Related Political Developments in the U.S.

(reverse chronological order)
(author links are to the best information we can find on the author)

The Military Situation   (see also Basra / Sadr City Attacks)     (TOP)

  1. Money As A Weapon, 11 August 2008
    Dana Hedgpeth and Sarah Cohen, Washington Post
    (This article is based on "a review by The Washington Post of a government database detailing more than 26,000 CERP records, along with congressional documents and audits, plus interviews with troops and their commanders who have worked on the projects." It has an interactive feature for viewing locations and extent of projects over time.)
    The Commanders' Emergency Response Program (CERP) is reputed to be a huge help for soldiers operating in communities where there are immediate financial needs that experience significant delays when run through normal bureaucratic channels. Most commanders and soldiers give it high marks because of its flexibility and immediate "hearts and minds" applicability. But there is very little accountability involved in the $2.3 billion shelled out so far, nor with the $1.2 billion being added to it, including no documentation for $135 million handed out through Polish and South Korean forces, and an increasing number of projects larger than the "small" (under $500K) and "temporary" (less than 6 months) parameters set for the program. There is also no follow-through -- clinics built and abandoned, schools repeatedly re-built and re-attacked -- and no coordination -- a water treatment plant built right near another one, higher wages paid by one unit for the same work than are paid by a neighboring unit, etc. The military isn't trained to do this, and Congress is not happy about the Iraqi tendency to "let the Americans do it," when Iraq's budget surplus is now around $50 billion.
  2. General William Odom Tells Senate: Rapid Withdrawal Is Only Solution, 2 April 2008
    General William Odom, Testimony before Senate Foreign Relations Committee
    In this scathing and very detailed analysis of what has been happening in Iraq since "the surge" began, retired Army Lieutenant General William Odom point out that "[In testimony before you in January 2007] I rejected the claim that it was a new strategy. Rather, I said, it is a new tactic used to achieve the same old strategic aim, political stability. And I foresaw no serious prospects for success. I see no reason to change my judgment now. The surge is prolonging instability, not creating the conditions for unity as the president claims." He points out that violence has only subsided in places where we have "rented" quiet temporarily, such as in Anbar province. "We are being asked by the president to believe that this shift of so much power and finance to so many local chieftains is the road to political centralization. . . I challenge you to press the administration's witnesses this week to explain this absurdity. Ask them to name a single historical case where power has been aggregated successfully from local strong men to a central government except through bloody violence leading to a single winner, most often a dictator. . . How can our leaders celebrate this diffusion of power as effective state building? More accurately described, it has placed the United States astride several civil wars. And it allows all sides to consolidate, rearm, and refill their financial coffers at the US expense. . . The only sensible strategy is to withdraw rapidly but in good order. . ."
  3. Winning the Battle, Losing the War, 5 March 2008
    James Willbanks, New York Times
    While acknowledging the differences between Vietnam and Iraq, Willbanks points out that the Tet offensive in Vietnam taught ua a lesson in expectations: " . . . To dampen antiwar sentiment, Johnson and Westmoreland encouraged what turned out to be false expectations about our prospects in Vietnam, and this colored Americans' perception of the Tet offensive, stretching the president's credibility gap to the breaking point. A tactical victory became a strategic defeat and led to the virtual abdication of President Johnson. General Tran Do of North Vietnam acknowledged that the offensive failed to achieve its objectives, but noted that the public reaction in the United States was 'a fortunate result.' Gen. David Petraeus, commander of coalition forces in Iraq, is a student of the Vietnam War whose doctoral dissertation at Princeton was titled 'The American Military and the Lessons of Vietnam.' Clearly, he internalized those lessons, because in discussing the surge and the progress of the war in Iraq he has studiously avoided building undue expectations and has repeatedly said that there will be tough times ahead. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates was likewise careful in his recent comments about re-evaluating troop reduction plans this summer. The wisdom of their approach will become especially evident if insurgents in Iraq engage in any Tet-like offensive this year -- especially with a presidential election looming and the future of the American military commitment in Iraq hanging in the balance."
  4. Sunni Insurgents Exploit U.S.-Sponsored Militias, 3 March 2008
    Gareth Porter, InterPress Service North America
    "For months, U.S. President George W. Bush and Gen. David Petraeus have been touting the programme of recruiting tens of thousands of Sunnis into U.S.-financed 'Awakening Councils' as a master stroke of Iraq strategy which has weakened al Qaeda in Iraq and helps reduce sectarian conflict through 'bottom up reconciliation'. But the mainstream Sunni insurgents who have been fighting al Qaeda appear to have outmaneuvered U.S. strategists by using Awakening Councils to pursue their interests in weakening their most immediate enemy, reducing pressures from the U.S. military and establishing new political bases, while continuing to mount attacks on U.S. and Iraqi government forces . . ."
  5. Army demoting its standards, 27 January 2008
    Dan Moffett, Palm Beach Post
    (Note: article has since been removed.)
    Commentary on the National Priorities Project report on military recruiting. "Whoever succeeds President Bush will inherit the monumental challenge of repairing the damage the Iraq War has inflicted on the nation's military. . . Not only is the Army stretched thin, it is padded with thousands of new recruits who would not have been accepted a decade ago. . . It's becoming more and more legitimate to characterize Iraq as a rich man's war but a poor man's fight - as Vietnam ultimately became 40 years ago. More recruits are coming from poor neighborhoods, researchers found. Low- and middle-income families with household incomes between $30,000 and $54,999 have sent more sons and daughters into the military during the past four years. By region, the South had the highest recruitment rate, followed by the Midwest."

Basra / Sadr City Attacks     (TOP)
(See also the ETWF Basra/Sadr-City Timeline)

  1. Iraq [Government] Increasingly Caught Between US and Iran, 5 May 2008
    Scott Peterson and Howard LaFranchi, Christian Science Monitor
    The US has released its latest terrorism report, upping the number of US/Iraqi soldiers from "hundreds" to "thousands". The Iraqi government sent a delegation to Tehran to complain about Iranian interference. But a day later the Iraqi government backpedaled. "'We do not want to start a conflict with Iran,' says Iraqi spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh. 'We need our own government documentation of this interference, not from the Americans, not from the media.' He suggested Sunday that Iraq had no "hard evidence" of Iran's involvement or of the 2008 markings on seized weaponry, and that a top-level committee would be formed to investigate. . . [Iranian] Spokesman Salah al-Ubaydi was quoted in Asharq al-Awsat saying the Iraqi government was 'trying to find excuses' for poor fighting in Basra by blaming Iran. The weapons caches in Basra are 'quite normal because Iran sells weapons to anyone who wants and [the] al-Sadr movement, Al Qaeda, and the parties in Iraq's political process have Iranian weapons,' Mr. Ubaydi told the newspaper. 'Therefore it is quite natural to find Iranian weapons because they are sold and bought and any party can buy them.'"
    (Note:  See article on quiet U.S. acknowledgment of lack of evidence of Iran as source of ordinance.)
  2. Petraeus Hid Maliki Resistance to US Troops in Basra , 17 April 2008
    Gareth Porter, Inter Press Service
    A history of the events that led up to Prime Minister al-Maliki's sudden assault on Basra. "In testimony before Congressional committees last week, Gen. David Petraeus portrayed Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's late March offensive in Basra as a poorly planned effort that departed from what U.S. officials had expected. What Petraeus did not reveal is that al-Maliki was deliberately upsetting a Petraeus plan to put U.S. and British forces into Basra for a months-long operation to eliminate the Mahdi Army from the city. . . The main point of al-Maliki's operation, however, was that it would exclude U.S. troops. . . al-Maliki thus feared that a confrontation between thousands of U.S. and British troops and the Mahdi Army would further inflame the feelings of Shiites in the south about the occupation, with which his own regime has been so tightly linked. The Shiite south has become the most anti-occupation region in the country. The British polling firm ORB, which has been doing opinion surveys in Iraq since 2005, found in March that 69 percent of respondents in the south believed security would improve if foreign troops were withdrawn, and only 10 percent believed it would get worse." (emphasis added)
  3. Five Things You Need To Know To Understand The Latest Violence in Iraq, 27 March 2008
    Joshua Holland and Raed Jarrar, AlterNet
    "The [Basra/Sadr-City] 'crackdown' comes on the heels of the approval of a new "provincial law," which will ultimately determine whether Iraq remains a unified state with a strong central government or is divided into sectarian-based regional governates. The measure calls for provincial elections in October, and the winners of those elections will determine the future of the Iraqi state. Control of the country's oil wealth, and how its treasure will be developed, will also be significantly influenced by the outcome of the elections. It's a relatively straightforward story: Iraq is ablaze today as a result of an attempt to impose Colombian-style democracy on the unstable country: Maliki's goal, shared by the like-minded allies among the Shiite, Sunni and Kurdish communities that dominate his administration, and with at least tacit U.S. approval, is to kill off the opposition and then hold a vote. To better understand the nature of this latest round of conflict, here are five things one needs to know about what's taking place across Iraq.
    1. [The sectarian street-fighting is] A visible manifestation of Iraq's central-but-under-reported political conflict (not "sectarian violence") . . .
    2. U.S. is propping up unpopular regime; Sadr has support because of his platform . . .
    3. 'Iraqi forces' are, in fact, 'Iranian- (and U.S.-) backed Shiite militias' . . .
    4. [Non-democracy: the US supporting one side that is killing off its opposition] . . .
    5. Maliki's attempt to criminalize dissent [and suppress attempts at reconciliation]. . ."

Iraq/Middle-East Political Developments     (TOP)

  1. The Final Battle, 3 August 2008
    Michael Gordon, New York Times
    A lengthy but detailed look at the political complexities in Iraq.
    ". . . The tug of war among the religious parties and the Shiite tribes has emerged as one of the most-significant but also least-understood aspects of Iraq's political scene. It pits leaders from the Shiite core of Maliki's coalition against outsiders looking for a way in. It is a struggle between party officials who spent the Saddam years in exile, mostly in Iran, and tribal leaders who endured his rule at home -- and, on another level, a contest between urbanized Shiites, who lean more toward the religious parties and Sadr's movement, and agrarian Iraqis, whose loyalties lie more in tribal society. Significantly, it is also a rivalry between Shiites who favor a government based on religious parties and those who have a more secular vision. . . 'The most prominent dividing line in Iraqi politics now is between the "powers that be" and the "powers that aren't," ' Sam Parker, an Arabic speaker who works for the United States Institute of Peace, a policy center in Washington, told me recently. 'The "powers that be" spent much of the 1980s and 1990s in open opposition to Saddam. Nearly all of these leaders spent substantial time outside of Iraq. They have well-organized parties but lack a strong social base and have an outsize degree of influence in the national and provincial governments. Because of their disproportionate dominance of the political process, they only stand to lose by any movement toward political openness. 'The "powers that aren't," ' Parker added, 'are fragmented and weak. What they want is in.' Where does the U.S. stand? 'They seem to be working hard for provincial elections,' Parker said, 'which would make the system more inclusive and give the "powers that aren't" and the popular forces they represent an opportunity for a share of the power. But at the same time, the United States' main priority appears to be buttressing the state security apparatus that belongs to the "powers that be." ' In an ideal world the two policy imperatives would be balanced. The politics of inclusiveness would lay the foundation for the long-term stability of the country, while improvements in Maliki's capacity to govern would lead to a state that could supplant the Hobbesian state of nature that has typified Iraq -- and make it easier for the United States to reduce forces. Iraq, however, is far from an ideal world, and Maliki's growing confidence in his own power leaves the U.S. steadily less able to shape events."
  2. Will Sadr declare open war?, 22 April 2008  (10-minute video and transcript)
    Paul Jay, Pepe Escobar and Patrick Cockburn
    "Behind Sadr's warning to the US lies an unavoidable fact -- he holds critical cards. In this three part story on 'Who is Muqtada al-Sadr', Senior News Editor Paul Jay introduces the context . . . Sadr's call for all-out war until liberation if the attacks on Sadr city do not end. The Real News Analyst Pepe Escobar introduces Sadr in his own words with clips from a rare interview with Al Jazeera. Patrick Cockburn, author of the book Muqtada, tells Pepe Escobar that Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki's recent military offensive against al-Sadr may be an attempt to control the outcome of provisional elections to be held this fall, which al-Sadr and his allies are likely to win. Cockburn concludes a new phase in the war may have started, where large sections of Shia militias enter the fight against US occupation." Cockburn also dismisses what he terms the "journalistic cliches" of al-Sadr being a "renegade cleric, maverick cleric, firebrand cleric" or a stupid man who inherited a movement. He says al-Sadr is a politically sophisticated man who grew up in a political family as a lieutenant of his father, the founder of the movement, "and he ran his father's office, he ran his father's magazine. So he's very street wise. He was brought up in a very political atmosphere, and he has much more knowledge of Iraqi society at the bottom and how its politics works than most people in the present . . . Iraqi government, who have been in exile for ten, twenty, or thirty years."
  3. U.S. and Iran Find Common Ground in Iraq's Shiite Conflict, 21 April 2008
    James Glanz and Alissa J. Rubin
    This article comments on the complex, convoluted, and sometimes contradictory logic driving the two big external powers in Iraq. The U.S. supports a government that's willing to have it stay in Iraq, fighting against al-Sadr's Mahdi Army that wants the U.S. out of a unified Iraq. Meanwhile, Iran is supporting the same government because it is willing to have Iraq divided into semi-autonomous regions, including one in the neighboring oil-rich south over which Iran would have considerable influence -- a breakup opposed by al-Sadr, who stands a good chance of a significant victory in the south in October's provincial elections. In Baghdad, on the other hand, The U.S. military is involved in an attack on Sadr City that the Iranians strongly oppose.
  4. U.S. Attempt to Control Iraq's Oil and Economy Continues Behind the Scenes, 7 April 2008
    Maya Schenwar,
    "The coming months may be crucial in determining what kind of 'friends' the US and Iraq are going to be over the long haul. . . In a House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing last month, State Department Iraq Coordinator David Satterfield revealed the Declaration of Principles proposals have now been divided into a binding Status of Forces Agreement (on military involvement) and a nonbinding Strategic Framework Agreement (on economic and diplomatic relations). Neither would be submitted for the consent of Congress. Though Satterfield emphasized that, being nonbinding, the Strategic Framework would not "tie the hands" of future administrations, it could solidify changes the US has already made to Iraq's economic landscape
  5. Who Is Iraq's "Firebrand Cleric", 31 March, 2008
    Patrick Cockburn, Mother Jones (March 17 interview by Justin Elliot)
    This is an interview with Cockburn about his book, Muqtada: Muqtada al-Sadr, the Shia Revival, and the Struggle for Iraq. "The idea that he's a maverick is 100 percent contrary to his track record over the last five years. In fact he's very cautious, never pushing things too far, trying not to be pushed into a corner. [L. Paul] Jerry Bremer tried to arrest Muqtada and ignited a tremendous uprising over most of southern Iraq in 2004. You could see all these Americans in the Green Zone had completely failed to realize the kind of support he could get. They announced they were going to arrest him and suddenly the whole of southern Iraq erupted and Bremer [couldn't] control it anymore -- but Muqtada did. Then there was a big siege of Najaf. But Muqtada always sort of looked for a way out. So the idea of him as a maverick cleric, a firebrand, is one of these absurd journalistic cliches that takes on a life of its own, despite the fact that its contradicted by everything that happens. . . He's radical in the sense that he wants the U.S. occupation to end and has always said so from the beginning. Secondly, his support among the Shia really runs along class lines; it's mainly the poor who support him. His organization runs an enormous social network. Despite the fact that there's billions of dollars sitting in the Iraqi government reserves, somehow they are incapable of getting it out to the people. There are a very large number of people here who are on the edge of starvation. For those sort of people—a sizable chunk of people—that service makes them regard Muqtada as a sort of god. Another thing is that he's always been able to call on a core of young men. Young Shia who have been brought up with nothing, who are pretty anarchic, pretty dangerous[, who] . . . have killed very large numbers of other Iraqis. That's a major source of strength for Muqtada. . ."
    See also a review of Cockburn's book:  Who is Moqtada al-Sadr?, by Michael B. Farrell, Christian Science Monitor, 5 May 2008, and a video interview with Cockburn as part of a 22 April 2008 IWT RealNews' report, "Will Sadr Declare Open War?.
  6. The Iraqi Civil War Bush and the Media Don't Tell You About, 24 March 2008
    Raed Jarrar, Foreign Policy in Focus
    An insightful analysis of the real "civil war" -- political rather than religious -- in Iraq, between nationalists and separatists (both of which include all religious factions), and how the current religious and political divisions did not exist prior to 2003, and have been created and steadily fed by the occupation.
  7. Is Iran Winning the War in Iraq?, 26 February 2008
    Robert Dreyfuss, Alternet
    An analysis of the paradoxical influence of Iran in Iraq. On the one hand: "Despite its very public saber-rattling against Iran, however, the United States has spent most of the past five years in a de facto alliance with Iran in support of the Shiite-led (and US-installed) regime in Baghdad. The most powerful component of that regime, the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq (ISCI) and its disciplined Badr Corps militia, is also Iran's closest Iraqi ally. Taking advantage of the political vacuum created by the US destruction of Saddam Hussein's government, Tehran has established a vast presence, both overt and covert, in Iraq, with enormous influence among nearly all of its western neighbor's Shiite and Kurdish parties. 'The American military occupation of Iraq has facilitated an Iranian political occupation of Iraq,' says Chas Freeman, a former US ambassador to Saudi Arabia." On the other hand: ". . . despite Iran's enormous influence in Iraq, most Iraqis -- even most Iraqi Shiites -- are not pro-Iran. On the contrary, underneath the ruling alliance in Baghdad, there is a fierce undercurrent of Arab nationalism in Iraq that opposes both the US occupation and Iran's support for religious parties in Iraq. In recent months, this nationalism has begun to express itself in many ways . . . 'There is such a thing as Iraqi nationalism, and the default position tends to be one of hostility toward Iran,' says Freeman. 'Removing the US occupation as the focus of nationalism will almost certainly lead to a renewal of that nationalism's focus on Iran.'"
  8. Iraq's Tragic Future, 8 February 2008
    Scott Ritter, Truthdig
    Ritter examines the complex and sometimes hidden relationships between the various Iraqi entities involved in the conflict, with an aim to debunking what he considers myths of the war -- e.g., the "success" and potential longevity of the "surge" and the "Sunni awakening", Kurdish stability, al-Qaeda-in-Iraq as a physical entity rather than a Sunni con-game.

Iraq-Related Political Developments in the U.S.     (TOP)

  1. US presidents-to-be in denial, May 2008
    Dahr Jamail, Le Monde Diplomatique
    Jamail goes into the statements of the candidates and their advisers and finds no indication of an intention to get out of Iraq, much as Obama's earlier statements would indicate such a desire. He points out the way the media has enabled McCain to make his occupation points, and the two Democratic rivals to be ambivalent on the subject. "As soon as it was clear that the presidential primaries would be the news story of the year in the US, Iraq was dropped by the media. The occupation and the campaign for the presidential nominations were de-linked almost from the start. So we don't know what the potential candidates would do in Iraq. But pulling troops out doesn't seem to be an option for any of them. . . [Norman Solomon, columnist and founder director of the Institute for Public Accuracy, a national consortium of policy researchers and analysts, says]: 'Conventional media wisdom feeds on itself. What a lot of US journalists 'know' is what other journalists are saying, and so the spin cycle goes. Corporate media coverage is anyhow in sync with the range of opinion heard most often from Republican and Democratic leaders in Washington. News outlets say the war is receding as a political issue; when the candidates say less about the war, journalists point to them saying less as evidence that the war is receding as a political issue.' The US doesn't want to be in Iraq -- that is, 65% of actual people in the US oppose the occupation -- yet Obama, Clinton and McCain march towards the election with the media not challenging their ambivalent positions on Iraq."
  2. The 'Wright problem' belongs to America, 1 May 2008
    Charles Derber and Yale Magrass, Boston Globe
    In early 2007, only 15% of Americans in a Gallup poll thought the U.S. should play "the leading role" in the world. Yet, as this article points out, the administration has moved discussion of American foreign policy so far to the right that it is all framed in "war talk" terms -- conservative (U.S. hegemony via unilateral military action) or liberal (U.S. hegemony via multilateral institutions, partnerships, and "soft power.") The coverage of Rev. Jeremiah Wright has focused on his inflammatory statements and ignored perhaps his most important message. Wright observes that this message -- that we are causing large numbers of people to be killed in pursuit of the kind of global dominance most Americans reject -- is the same one Rev. Martin Luther King was sending clearly in the last years of his life. And, just as was the case at that time, the messenger is being vilified, and the topic rendered effectively off the table of political discourse.
    Note -- The questioning of this policy of global domination is the primary focus of the End The War First strategy outlined on this website.
  3. Hillary and Obama Spin a "Big Lie" About Iraq, 5 April 2008
    Joshua Holland, Alternet
    A comprehensive analysis of the consequences of all three candidates' express plans to stay in Iraq.
    ". . . There is a mile-wide gap between the Democrats' analysis of the war and that of John McCain, and that's evident in the candidates' rhetoric. Those differences are significant, in that they would lead to very different political climates in which the issue would be debated after the election. But all three candidates have embraced the Catch-22 that assures our enduring presence in Iraq. It can be summed up like this: U.S. forces must remain in Iraq as long as an active insurgency contributes to its instability, and an active insurgency will continue to create instability until the United States makes a commitment to a full withdrawal. Having accepted that narrative, the sad reality is that the Democratic candidates' Iraq policies differ only incrementally from that of John McCain, or from the long-term 'cooperation agreement' Bush is attempting to negotiate with the Iraqi government his administration installed in Baghdad. . . Steven Kull, director of the Program on International Policy Attitudes, told me last fall that 'among those [Iraqis] who believe the U.S. will withdraw, just 34 percent favor attacks against U.S. troops, but among those who believe the U.S. will not withdraw, 68 percent favor attacking coalition forces.' . . ."
  4. Managing Iraq's Econoccupation, 4 April 2008
    Maya Schenwar, Truthout
    "As violence rises again in Iraq, negotiations to institutionalize US economic dominance continue unabated. . . While the portion of the [Bush/Maliki] Declaration [of Principles] that suggests a permanent US military presence in Iraq has garnered much attention, the agreement also proposes another goal: to solidify "economic ties" between the two countries and grant the US preferential treatment in trading with Iraq. . . In a House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing last month, State Department Iraq Coordinator David Satterfield revealed the Declaration of Principles proposals have now been divided into a binding Status of Forces Agreement (on military involvement) and a nonbinding Strategic Framework Agreement (on economic and diplomatic relations)." This Strategic Framework could solidify all of the radical destructive changes to Iraq's economy instituted in the "100 Orders" issued by former Coalition Provisional Authority director L. Paul Bremer.
  5. Commentary on the GAO report on military spending, 2 April 2008
    Robert Scheer, Truthdig
    (see also GAO: Weapons systems over budget, overdue, underperforming, Elizabeth Newell,
    From the GAO report: "Since 2000, the Department of Defense (DOD) has roughly doubled its planned investment in new systems from $790 billion to $1.6 trillion in 2007, but acquisition outcomes in terms of cost and schedule have not improved. . . Of the 72 programs GAO assessed this year, none of them had proceeded through system development meeting the best-practice standards for mature technologies, stable design, or mature production processes by critical junctures of the program, each of which are essential for achieving planned cost, schedule, and performance outcomes."
  6. 6 Signs the U.S. May Be Headed for War in Iran, 13 March 2008
    Terry Atlas, U.S. News and World Report
    The author acknowledges that each of these may have other interpretations, but they clearly are steps in place to facilitate an attack on Iran . . .
    1. Admiral Fallon's resignation clears away practical military opposition
    2. Cheney's "peace" visit to Mideast has the earmarks of similar visit prior to Iraq War
    3. Israeli air-strike in Syria (in an area necessary for overflights to Iran) may have been to expose anti-aircraft electronic signatures
    4. Two new warships in position off Lebanon could provide protection for Israel in Iran war
    5. Israel has stopped saying it would act alone against Iran -- because it will have company?
    6. Israeli war with Iran-supported Hezbollah left a U.N.-policed buffer zone between the two

  7. Looming Threat for Dems: People Against the War Prefer McCain as President, 12 March 2008
    Ira Chernus, Alternet
    Because of changing perceptions of how the war is going (getting better),"...the polling numbers from late February and early March already show a less logical, more disturbing trend. A clear majority still think the war was a mistake. But when the question is which candidate will do best handling the war, McCain wins every time. In an LA Times/Bloomberg (LAT/B) poll, it's no contest. He outpolls Clinton on the question 51-35 and outpolls Obama 47-34. A Washington Post/ABC (WP/ABC) poll pitted McCain only against Obama. Though the result was closer, McCain still won 48-43. Yet 63% in that poll said the war was not worth fighting. In a New York Times/CBS News (NYT/CBS) poll, 58% said the U.S. should never have attacked Iraq. Yet again McCain gets the highest score on "making the right decisions on Iraq"; 58% are confident about McCain (27% "very" confident), 57% about Obama (only 20% "very" confident), and 50% about Clinton. Among the crucial independent voters, McCain gets 62% confidence, while Obama gets only 54% and Clinton 51%. Though 83% of Democrats say the war was wrong, a whopping 42% are confident McCain will make the right decisions on the war, while 21% of Democrats have no confidence in Obama and the same number no confidence in Clinton."
    Note: Any assumption that the election is a slam-dunk for the Democrats (remembering George Tenet's prediction on the war) will be misguided if the war is allowed to continue. The phony "red-phone" argument by international-scofflaw Cold-War/"War-on-Terror" advocates tends to favor the militarist candidate when the public has been misinformed about the underlying realities. Therefore, it is important that peace advocates counter the "red phone" argument forcefully with the supportable FACT that a peace-inducing, international-law-abiding foreign policy with a competent and honest intelligence service tends to avoid "red-phone" crises, and is better prepared to competently deal with them if and when they do happen.
  8. No Need for Lawmakers' Approval of Iraq Pact, U.S. [Administration] Reasserts, 6 March 2008
    Karen DeYoung, Washington Post
    The Bush administration yesterday advanced a new argument for why it does not require congressional approval to strike a long-term security agreement with Iraq, stating that Congress had already endorsed such an initiative through its 2002 resolution authorizing the use of force against Saddam Hussein. The 2002 measure, along with the congressional resolution passed one week after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks authorizing military action "to prevent any future acts of international terrorism against the United States," permits indefinite combat operations in Iraq, according to a statement by the State Department's Bureau of Legislative Affairs.
  9. Congress Ramps Up Fight Against Permanent Iraq Bases, 23 February 2008
    Maya Schenwar,
  10. Bush's recent signing statements that he would ignore any Congressional prohibition on permanent bases in Iraq has stiffened Congressional resolve to recover some of its lost balance of powers. In Congressional testimony, experts were almost unanimous in holding the Bush/Maliki "Declaration of Principles" to be unconstitutional, and Congress will be hosting five members of the Iraqi parliament who hold the same view on their side of the issue. Whether the new "embassy" is considered a "permanent base" can be debated, but there is agreement that it is capable of running (and probably intended to run) a controlling U.S. presence in Iraq. Erik Leaver, policy outreach director for Foreign Policy in Focus, points out that to avoid inevitable recurrences of "Iraq" around the world, a wholesale shift in mindset on US policy will be needed, since there are over 700 US military bases spread over all continents except Antarctica.

  11. The Million Year War: How Never to Withdraw From Iraq, 20 February 2008
    Tom Engelhardt, Tom Dispatch
    The administration has used the willing mainstream media (management, not reporters) as its best ally in removing Iraq from the focus of the news and the direct awareness of the American public. Now it is making sure that any timely withdrawal is next to impossible, not only with the Bush/Maliki agreement, but with increasing complexities in the concept of what is involved in withdrawal: "When it comes to withdrawal, the highest priority now seems to be frugality in saving all U.S. property. In other words, as the Bush administration continues to dig in, each of its acts makes leaving ever more complicated. If the subject at hand weren't so grim, this would be hilarious. An analogy might lie in an old joke: A boy murders his father and mother and then, arrested and brought to court, throws himself on the mercy of the judge as an orphan. The administration that rashly invaded Iraq, used it as a laboratory for any cockamamie scheme that came to mind, and threw money away profligately in one of the more flagrantly corrupt enterprises in recent history, now wants us to believe that future planning for draw-downs or withdrawals must be based on the need to preserve whatever we brought -- and are still bringing -- into the country."

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