November 2006 Archives

November 30, 2006

Cobban: Israel 'Controls The Reality' in Gaza

Helena Cobban at Just World News" opined November 30, 2006, that, "Israel's draconian 'movement controls': the reality" in the Palestinian enclaves in the West Bank and Gaza.
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Two Lame-Ducks Can't Solve Iraq's Problems

TIME magazine correspondent Aparism Garsh, writing from Baghdad, the Iraqi capital, says, "There's a reason why Iraqis aren't holding their breath over the Amman summit: Viewed from Baghdad, both [U.S. President] George Bush and [Iraqi Prime Minister] Nouri al-Maliki are lame ducks. As he winds down his second term," Garsh writes in a November 29, 2006, news analysis, "the American president is burdened with a hostile Senate and Congress — not to mention mounting public dissatisfaction with his performance. The Iraqi Prime Minister is less than six months into his first term, and already he faces the same problems."

To read more of this analysis, see "Bush and Maliki: A Summit of Lame Ducks."

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'Does Anybody Have A Good Plan For Iraq?'

"Does anybody have a good plan for Iraq?" asks Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank in a November 30, 2006, post headlined "One War, No Answers."

"Not President Bush," he opined. "He arrived in Jordan yesterday [November 29, 2006] for a crucial meeting with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, only for the White House to discover that the Iraqi was a no-show."

 "It was going to be more of a social meeting anyways," Bush aide Dan Bartlett told reporters at the Raghadan Palace in Amman," Milbank noted.

So, what's the point of meeting if its just a social call? The civil war in Iraq is too serious for that. But, being the good-little-caretaker that he is, Mr. al-Maliki will likely show up in Amman for a useless meeting with Mr. Bush.

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Nouri al-Maliki Should Watch His Back

"Thomas Ricks and Robin Wright at WaPo examine the increasing tendency of the American political class to blame the Iraqis for the political turmoil there," notes Professor Juan Cole over at Informed Comment, his widely-read blog on "on the Middle East, History, and Religion."

"I see," Mr. Cole wrote in a November 29, 2006, post. "The US invaded their country, abolished their army, gutted their civil service, occupied their cities, and now it is the Iraqis' fault."

More specifically, the Bush Administration seems to be saying it's Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's fault that President George W. Bush can't defeat an insurgency he spawned with the 2003 invasion and occupation of Iraq.

Mr. Maliki had better watch his back. If he doesn't there will be a knife in it that was made in America. See "Iraqi leader falls out of favour with US on eve of allied summit."

A FEW RELATED LINKS

Bush meets Maliki for last-ditch attempt to rescue Iraq from chaos ... The Independent, United Kingdom

Memo lays out the troubling truth --- Boston Herald, United States

Diplomatic Embarrassment or Simple Schedule Clarification? --- ABC News, United States

Dazed and confused --- Salon, United States

Leaked Memo Looms over Bush-Maliki Meeting --- National Public Radio, United States

Bush to Press Al-Maliki as Memo Questions Capability (Update2) --- Bloomberg News, United States

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November 28, 2006

Belgravia Dispatch Editor Defends Father's Position On Iraq

On November 27, 2006, Gregory Djerejian, the well-informed proprietor of The Belgravia Dispatch, one of the best blogs on news and opinion about international affairs and diplomacy, defended his father, Ambassador Edward P. Djerejian, from an aspersion cast by Michael Rubin over at The Corner, a National Review online blog. He called the elder Djerejian "Edward "Cakewalk" Djerejian?" The insult was put it in the form of a question. Mr. Djerejian wrote:

Via Glenn Reynolds, I see that Michael Rubin is resorting to "dowdification" of late, which is to say, Rubin takes a truncated quote from my father out of broad context and tries to play pretend that my father thought the Iraq conflict would be, a la Ken Adleman, a "cakewalk." By way of brief background, my father, a 33 year veteran of the Foreign Service, served as the United States Ambassador to both Syria and Israel, as well as Assistant Secretary of State for the Near East and South Asia. He is (or was, as the case may be) on good terms with political figures in the Middle East ranging from Arik Sharon, Bibi Netanyahu, Ehud Barak and Yitzhak Rabin to Hafez al-Asad, King Hussein (Abdullah’s father), Abu Mazen and Hosni Mubarak. (Incidentally, Rubin’s caricature of him as archetypal Arabist is wholly unpersuasive—as any of those Israeli leaders, past or present, would likely attest). Regardless and with apologies for being so plain about it, what a class of 1994 biology major from New Haven might think of him likely leaves him rather uninterested, I’m afraid.
Mr. Djerejian said, "Still, with Glenn Reynolds entering the fray and calling my father's predictions “naïve” (quite a charge coming from that famed Middle East specialist Instapundit(!)—seemingly always at the ‘aw shucks, sounds good’ ready to link whatever neo-con swill du jour), it appears I have to wade into this recriminatory morass, if for no other reason than to defend a family member I respect.

To read the entire post, please see "Did Somebody Say "Cakewalk" , Or "Naive"?
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Mr. President, Iraq Is Engaged In Civil War

MSNBC Correspondent David Shuster reported November 27, 2006, that U.S.President [George W. ] Bush is now in the midst of an overseas trip that will take him later this week a meeting in Jordan with Iraq's prime minister [Nouri Kamal al-Maliki].  But behind in Washington, D.C.," he opined, "the nation's Capitol is now gripped by a ferocious debate over the term "civil war." Mr. Shuster added:

Today, as Air Force One was halfway over the Atlantic Ocean, a White House spokesman protested a decision by several American news organizations, including NBC News, to call the violence in Iraq a civil war." 

"While the situation on the ground is very serious, neither Prime Minister Maliki or us (Bush White House) believe that Iraq is in a civil war," said National Security Council spokesman Gordon Johndroe.

The bottom line is that Mr. Bush nor Mr. Maliki has it to believe it. The facts speak for themselves. It's a civil war.

To read more, please see "Is conflict in Iraq a civil war? "

RELATED LINKS

Experts say civil war definition fits --- Bradenton Herald,  United States 

US can do little to stop civil war in Iraq, experts say --- San Jose Mercury News, United States

Civil War, Conventional Wisdom And Cronkite Moments --- CBS News, United States

'Iraq close to civil war' - Annan --- Irish Times, Ireland 

Annan urges action to avert civil war in Iraq --- Guardian Unlimited, United Kingdom

For US media, Iraq’s violence is a “civil war” --- Khaleej Times, United Arab Emirates 

It’s Civil War in Iraq. Now What? (7 Letters) --- New York Times, United States 

UPDATE 1-NBC says Iraq in civil war, White House disagrees --- Reuters

US says Iraq in "new phase" but denies civil war --- Reuters, United Kingdom

A Matter of Definition: What Makes a Civil War, and Who Declares ... --- New York Times, United States 

UN envoy warns of Iraq civil war --- Melbourne Herald Sun, Australia 

Maureen Dowd: With Iraq in civil war, question is who gets control --- Pasadena Star-News, United States

Full-blown civil war adds to body count in Iraq --- Capitol Hill Blue, United States

Regime Change, Not War, Remains Only US Solution in Middle East --- Human Events, United States

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November 26, 2006

Nouri al-Maliki Is In A Precarious Situation Not Of His Making

Nouri Kamal al-Maliki, "the Iraqi Prime Minister (seen in a June 12, 2006, photo meeting with President George W. Bush in Baghdad)  was looking increasingly precarious last night [November 26, 2006] as domestic factions worked to undermine him and Washington leaders came close to writing him off," reports Times of London correspondents Ned Parker in Baghdad and Tom Baldwin in Washington, the U.S. capital. See "War and failing confidence abroad weaken Iraqi leader."

They noted that Mr. al-Maliki "went on television to urge rival politicians to stop feuding and to plead with Iraqis to halt their country’s slide towards civil war." [Note: The country is already engaged in civil war.] 

"There were fears, however, that armed Sunni and Shia groups would go on the rampage today when a three-day ban on Baghdad traffic is lifted," the correspondents reported, adding:

"Mr al-Maliki announced that new measures would be taken to impose order, but did not give any details. Despite his appeals and several public appearances by Sunni, Shia and Kurdish leaders over the past three days, some government factions worked to promote a sectarian message."

The New York Times' Edward Wong, writing from Baghdad, quote Mr. al-Maliki as saying:

These actions are at most the reflection of political backgrounds and wills and sometimes the reflection of dogmatic, perverted backgrounds and wills. The crisis is political and the ones who can stop the cycle of aggravation and bloodletting of innocents are the politicians." See "Iraqi leader says politicians are causing violence."

Mr. al-Maliki is also catching hell from fellow Shiites for a situation that is not of his making. But since they can't get to Mr. Bush, or U.S. Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad,  Mr. al-Maliki, must bear the burden for Mr. Bush, who set the stage for the current carnage when he invaded Iraq in March 2003, and disturbed the social fabric that held for decades under former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein's iron-fisted ruled.

According to Los Angeles Times Correspondent Solomon Moore, writing from Baghdad, "Sunni and Shiite leaders say the U.S. is at the root of continuing violence and should withdraw its troops." See "Iraqi clerics call for end to hostilities."

As Louise Roug, another Times staff writer in Baghdad, notes, Mr. al-Maliki's plea "for national reconciliation at a memorial in Sadr City held for victims of a large-scale bombing attack last week" could not end Shias' calls for revenge against Sunnis. See "Angry Shiites hurl stones at Maliki's motorcade," 

In fact, according to Roug, "his pleas were met with shouts of "coward" and "collaborator."

To make matters worse, "Followers of the militant Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr took over state-run television" November 26, 2006, to denounce the Iraqi government, label Sunnis "terrorists," and issue what appeared to many viewers as a call to arms," according to Hannah Allam and Mohamed al Dulaimy, Baghdad-based correspondents for McClatchy Newspapers.

They reported that, "The two-hour broadcast, from a community gathering in the heart of the Shi'ite militia stronghold of Sadr City, included three members of Sadr's parliamentary bloc, who took questions from angry residents demanding revenge for a series of car bombings that killed 200 people on Thursday [November 23, 2006].

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November 22, 2006

Robert FisK: '...In Lebanon Nothing Is What It seems

"The Lebanese have been responding to the international outcry over [Lebanese Parliamentarian Pierre] Gemayel's murder with somewhat less rhetoric than President George Bush, whose promise "to support the Siniora government and its democracy" was greeted with the scorn it deserved," observed Beirut-based Robert Fisk, Middle East Correspondent for The Independent of London, in a November 23, 2006, dispatch.

"This," he added, "after all, was the same George Bush who had watched in silence this summer as the Israelis abused Siniora's democratic government and bombed Lebanon for 34 days, killing more than a thousand of its civilians. And the Lebanese knew what to make of [British Prime Minister] Tony Blair's remark - he who also delayed a ceasefire that would have saved countless lives here - when he said that "we need to do everything we can to protect democracy in Lebanon". It was a long-retired Christian militiaman, a rival of the Gemayel clan, who put it succinctly. "They don't care a damn about us," he said.

To read more, please see "Robert Fisk: Gemayel's mourners know that in Lebanon nothing is what it seems."

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The National Interest Online: Time To Make hard Choices On Lebanon

The National Interest Online's Alexis Debat and Ghassan Schbley reported November 22, 2006, that "The assassination of Pierre Gemayel  signals that the time has come for the U.S. government and the world community to make hard choices in Lebanon."

They noted that, "Gemayel, a minister, rising politician and the scion of a very powerful Christian Maronite family, was assassinated a few hours after the office of Michel Pharaon, state minister for parliamentary affairs, was sprayed with bullets by unknown gunmen.

"Pharaon is also a Christian legislator and member of the anti-Syrian bloc within the Lebanese parliament, which currently holds a majority of seats," the added. "Taken together with the American-sponsored Syrian-Iraqi normalization, these two dramatic events indicate that the regime of Bashir al-Asad is sending the U.S. government and the international community a strong and clear message: choose between Lebanon and Iraq."

To read more, please see "Syria’s Gemayel Missive."

A FEW RELATED LINKS

Assassination heightens tensions in political arena --- The Daily Star,  Lebanon 

UN to help Lebanon investigate Gemayel murder --- The Washington Post, USA

Crisis-hit Lebanon pleads for UN help in finding minister's killer --- Times Online, UK 

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Is Syria The Usual Suspect In Gemayel Assassination?

It seems that no matter what happens in Lebanon, Syria will be blamed. Take the November 21, 2006, assassination in Beirut of Lebanese cabinet minister Pierre Gemayel. The Financial Times says Syria did it. See the editorial "Syria the spoiler."

"The assassination of Industry Minister Pierre Gemayel on the eve of Lebanon's 63rd Independence Day heightened tensions Wednesday [November 22, 2006] between the Syrian-backed Hizbullah and pro-government leaders as angry voices quickly blamed Damascus," notes Naharnet News, the Lebanese news portal. See "Gemayel's Assassination Adds to Lebanon's Heightened Tensions.

Naharnet also said, "There was broad condemnation in the Lebanese press Wednesday of the assassination of anti-Syrian minister Pierre Gemayel and most papers agreed that it had wrongfooted Syria's local supporters.
Hizbullah and its allies had planned to take to the streets to demand the toppling of Prime Minister Fouad Saniora's government and its replacement with a government of national unity," the publication said. See  Lebanese Press: Syria's Supporters Wrongfooted by Assassination."

For a man who has created unprecedented chaos in Iraq as a result of his invasion and occupation of Syria's neighbor, U.S. President George W. Bush sounded rather hollow to this observer when he proclaimed:

Today we saw again the vicious face of those who oppose freedom. We strongly condemn the assassination today in Lebanon of Pierre Gemayel, who was a minister in the government of Prime Minister Siniora. We support the Siniora government and its democracy, and we support the Lebanese people's desire to live in peace. And we support their efforts to defend their democracy against attempts by Syria, Iran and allies, to foment instability and violence in that important country.

I call for a full investigation of the murder to identify those people and those forces behind the killing. We call on the international community to support Prime Minister Siniora's government. And one clear way to do so is for the United Nations Security Council to take all remaining steps needed to establish a special tribunal concerning the assassination of former Prime Minister [Rafik] Hariri, and to assure that those behind that killing and others that followed are brought to justice. I strongly believe the United Nations Security Council ought to act today. For the sake of peace, the free world must reject those who undermine young democracies and murder in the name of their hateful ideology. [For more, see "President Bush Visits with Troops at Hickam AFB in Hawaii"].

Professor Juan Cole at Informed Comment notes that, "The assassination of Lebanese cabinet minister Pierre Gemayel on Tuesday has thrown Lebanon "further into yet more turmoil," and views the crisis as "a further testament to the bankruptcy of George W. Bush's Middle East policy," he wrote in a November 22, 2006, post. He added:
Under the dishonest rhetoric of 'democratization,' what Bush has really been about is creating pro-American winners and anti-American losers in Afghanistan, Iraq, Palestine and Lebanon. Bush's vision is not democratic because he always installs a tyranny of the majority. The vanquished are to be crushed and ridiculed, the victors to exult in their triumph. It is like a Leni Riefenstahl film.
To read more, see "Bush's Cedar Revolution Collapses in Yet Another Policy Failure."

 Just World News proprietor Helena Cobban,  who From 1974 through 1981 "worked as a journalist in the Middle East, including five years as a Beirut-based regional correspondent for The Christian Science Monitor, and The Sunday Times of London." told her readers: "Yes, I know that young Pierre Genayyal was assassinated today in Beirut, and I send my condolences to his family."

"Huge kudos to his father, the former President Amin Gemayyel, for stressing the need for calm. It would be nice if world leaders could follow that good advice, too." To read more, see "Pierre Gemayyel killed.

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November 21, 2006

Can Al-Jazeera Break The CNN, BBC Global News Monopoly?

When Al Jazeera launched its English language television news network on November 15, 2006, it was billed as an effort "to reverse the information flow from South to North and to provide a voice to under-reported regions around the world.”

“[It] is a new force in the global English-speaking media with the ability to seek out and cover different perspectives of news,” the Doha, Qatar-based network said in a statement, which was excerpted in the English-language Egyptian magazine Monday Morning .

Linda S. Heard, described as "a specialist writer on Middle East affairs" notes that Al Jazeera is "the first English-language news channel head-quartered in the Middle East or Gulf. She asked:

What can Al Jazeera in English offer in terms of programming to compete with CNN, the BBC or Sky News? Does it deliver a Pan-Arab perspective like its long-established sister network? Or will it be watered down to suit a broader Western audience? [For her answer, see "A Qatari child is born"].

As Monday Morning reported, Al-Jazeera will carryout its mission from "four regional broadcasting centers in Doha, Kuala Lumpur, London and Washington, in addition to 20 other bureaus. It will also benefit from access to the facilities of its Arabic mother-channel." Monday Morning quoted "network general director Wadah Khanfar" as saying:

Launching the English channel offers the chance to reach out to a new audience that is used to hearing the name of Al-Jazeera without being able to watch it or to understand its language.
Khanfar pledged “impartial and balanced” news coverage, according to Monday Morning.

The magazine quotes an Arab media analyst, who allegedly requested anonymity, as telling reporters:

The worldwide broadcasting landscape is at a turning point with the launch of Al-Jazeera International, because this is the first time a media organization in the third world seeks a universal dimension. This channel should however mark its territory and distinguish itself from other known news channels, like CNN and BBC World, without going into controversy like its mother-channel,” which broadcasts in Arabic.
To read more of Monday Morning's report on Al Jazeera, see "Al-Jazeera Launches in English."

Will Europeans and Americans be able to get Al-Jazeera International? "Insofar as Europeans understand English, they will have the opportunity to access Al Jazeera’s unique perspective on world news," wrote columnist Frank Hennick of The Badger Herald, a University of Wisconsin publication that bills itself as "the  largest fully independent daily campus newspaper in the nation." He added in a November 20, 2006, commentary headlined "Al Jazeera offers political context:

We Americans, however, will remain left out of the intrigue, as no American cable or satellite service providers will offer these broadcasts," he noted. "In the United States, anyone curious about Al Jazeera English will need a broadband connection and a bit of Internet savvy, confining the audience to political “techies.”
This snub, while not momentous in itself, is emblematic of a much broader problem facing America.
The New York Sun's Brendan Bernhard also explained why Americans may not get to see the channel for a while."
 ... it took only a couple of days to discern that although one reason for its absence from American TV screens is political, another may be that the global range and scope of its reportage, were it to find an audience here, could prove an embarrassment to the relative parochialism of CNN, MSNBC, FOX News, et al. [For more, see Bernhard's November 21, 2006, report headlined "Is It Al-Jazeera Or CNN International?"].

And it could help break the U.S. monopoly on the distribution information, especially negative news, to Africa, Asia and the Middle East. According to  Der Spiegel Online's Bernhard Zand,  "The project could boost the self-esteem of a depressed cultural nation." For more, see "War of Cultures Hits the Airwaves."

Full-time "writer, journalist and commentator" Dilip Hiro put Al-Jazeera International into historical perspective. In a November 20, 2006, post at Comment is Free headlined "Why the world needs al-Jazeera English," he wrote:

It is not just Arabs and Asians who have felt irked by the biases of the Anglo-American media giants. The French have been equally troubled by the dominance of the English-speaking roll-on television news. Their frustration reached a peak during the run-up to the Anglo-American invasion of Iraq in March 2003.
Hiro said, "It led French president Jacques Chirac to back a plan to set up a French satellite television channel to compete with the CNN and BBC."

"As for Asia, Africa and Latin America, in the late 1970s the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) noted the existence of "information imperialism"," he added. "This led to the establishment of NAM news agency. But because it was cobbled together from state-run national news agencies, it failed to take off." 

Note: This article can also be found at The Blogging Journalist and The Editorial Observer.

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The Restoration of Ties Between Syria, Iraq Won't End War

Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari told a joint news conference November 21, 2006 in Baghdad that Syria and Iraq have renewed diplomatic ties after a 26-year break.

"We have signed a little while ago an agreement to restore complete diplomatic relations with Syria,” he said as Syrian foreign minister Walid Muallem stood beside him.

Agence France Press and other news outlets quoted Mr. Zebari as saying“(The) Iraqi flag will be raised in Syria and the Syrian flag will be hoisted in Baghdad.”

But it won't end the insurgency. That will happen when the U.S. leaves. And there is no guarantee that the Shia and the Sunnis will not battle each other for supremacy. Then there is the Kurdish issue that could result in more trouble if the Kurds continue to insist on controlling oil-rich Kirkuk. Not only that, Turkey has repeatedly said it will not tolerate an independent Kurdistan just across its border with Iraq.

To read more, please see "Iraq restores ties with Syria after 26-year break. Also see "Iraq, Syria agree to restore full diplomatic ties.

Note: Some reports say Syria and Iraq are restoring ties after 24-years;others say 26-years.

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November 20, 2006

Is Russian Intelligence Using Same Tactics Under Different Name?

British writer and journalist Martin Sixsmith reported November 21, 2006, in The Guardian that, "The near-unanimity with which the world concluded that Russia's security services were behind the poisoning of Aleksander Litvinenko suggests that the reputation of the KGB has not been erased by renaming it the FSB. And there is plenty of historical evidence that, whatever the name, the organisation's tactics change very slowly," he added.

To read more, see "Different name, same tactics.

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November 19, 2006

Bangkok Post: APEC Is No So Relaxed Anymore

The Bangkok Post of Thailand said in a November 20, 2006 editorial that, "The annual meetings of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) set have grown far beyond the group's aspirations of just 17 years ago. The first, two-day summit in Canberra involved 12 Pacific rim nations, did little but recognize the value of getting leaders together in a relaxed setting. Over the weekend in Vietnam, 21 countries took part, and the meetings had expanded to officials, NGOs, business leaders, foreign and trade ministers, each with their own agendas, needs and banquets. It is not so relaxed any more."

To read the entire editorial, please see "Apec provides personal touch."

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Did Microsoft, Citigroup, etc., Underwrite APEC Conference In Hanoi?

Wall Street Journal Correspondents Yochi J. Dreazen and James Hookway, writing from Hanoi, Vietnam, reported November 20, 2006, that, "Visitors arriving for Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation's summit here were greeted by something unusual when they stepped off of their airplanes: a wall-size airport billboard listing the large corporations, from Microsoft Corp. to Citigroup Inc., that helped underwrite the events for as much as a quarter-million dollars each."

To read more, please see "Where Money Buys Diplomacy."

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November 16, 2006

Is Operation Freedom Now Operation Cover Your Ass?

Helena Cobban over at Just World News thinks General John Abizaid, head of the Tampa, Florida-based U.S. Central Command, was on a cover-your-ass mission when he testified November 15, 2006, at the Senate Armed Services Committee's widely-covered hearings on the beleaguered Bush Administration's disastrous Iraq policy." See "Abizaid reveals the military dead-end."

Professor Juan Cole at Informed Comment offers an interpretation of what he calls "the contretemps Wednesday between Gen. John Abizaid and Republican Senator John McCain. His analysis is headlined "Abizaid Opposes Withdrawal, Increase in Troop Levels; Nearly 100 Killed, including 6 GIs Hayden: Almost Satanic Terror. 

Mr. Cole always offers a perspective worth reading whether you agree with him or not. And there are many that don't. In the above-referenced post, he offers ideas for withdrawing U.S. troops from Iraq.

Daniel W. Drezner, "associate professor of international politics at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University" in Massachusetts, today posted an interesting perspective over at Daniel W. Drezner.com on "The quickest and dirtiest path out of Iraq. It's based in part on American Prospect senior correspondent Laura Rozen's November 16, 2006, article in the Los Angeles Times headlined "Unleash the Shiites?" The subhead is "The U.S. may be forced to choose sides in Iraq's civil strife."

Mr. Drezner also surveyed other thinking on the issue, including  Monica Duffy Toft's November 13, 2006, Washington Post Op-Ed article headlined "Iraq Is Gone. Now What? "

Gregory Djerejian over at the The Belgravia Dispatch, a highly regarded journal of opinion, also offers a worth-reading perspective on the Iraqi debacle in a November 14, 2006, perspective headlined "Iraq: A Final (Bipartisan) Push?  There is quite a discussing taking place in the comment section. It had generated 88 posts when this item was published.

A FEW RELATED LINKS

General Abizaid Speaks Against Setting Firm Timetable for Iraq ... PBS, USA

Abizaid Warns Against Iraq Timetable ABC News, USA

ABC's World News omitted Abizaid's rebuttal of McCain's criticism ... Media Matters for America, USA

Analysis: Few Military Options in Iraq --- Washington Post, USA 

Iraq roundup --- Copeland Institute for Lower Learning, USA 

today's papers Abizaid argues against a quick withdrawal from Iraq ... Slate, USA

Note: This post can also be found at The Editorial Observer and The Weblog Gazette.

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Erdogan: Turkey Is Ready To Train Iraqi Policemen, Soldiers

The Daily Star of Lebanon reports in its  November 17, 2006, edition that, "Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan [of Turkey] told his Iraqi counterpart Thursday [November 16, 2006] that Turkey is prepared to train police and soldiers to help bring stability the volatile neighboring nation. The pledge came as Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's government plunged into crisis amid reports that kidnappers tortured many of the dozens of hostages seized from a government building and killed some of them," The Star noted.

"We are ready to give every kind of support," [Mr.] Erdogan said at a news conference with [Mr.] Maliki, according to The Star. "We are ready to train them - in the military field and in the police field."

To read more, please see "Erdogan pledges 'every kind of support' to help train Iraqi police and soldiers."

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Turkey's Erdogan Issues A Warning On Kirkuk

"Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said a certain ethnic group’s attempts to dominate Kirkuk would only cause trouble for the future of the country," Turkey's Zaman Daily Online reported November 16, 2006. See " Erdogan Gives Warning on Kirkuk.

According to Zaman, Mr. Erdogan said:

The issue of Kirkuk should be solved with a special formula of consensus with no resorts to any tricks. Kirkuk should be given a special status and have a future accordingly. Attempts to put Kirkuk under the rule of a certain ethnic group by changing the demographic structure and creating a ground of referendum will be no good; on the contrary, they would cause trouble for the future.

The statement was issued following a meeting today with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, who "arrived in Turkey on Thursday [November 16, 2006] for a two-day visit to discuss the deteriorating security situation in his country and Turkey's fight against Kurdish guerrillas," according to gulfnews.com. See "Iraqi PM Al Maliki arrives in Turkey for security talks.

Mr. Maliki was quoted as saying: “Kirkuk is an Iraqi city and will stay an Iraqi city.”

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November 14, 2006

Watching America

Watching America," which tracks "global opinion about the United States...," offers a good collection of informative news articles daily from various publications around the world. I recommend it.

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Tony Blair's Middle East Vision

Newsweek's Stryker McGuire contends in a November 14, 2006, "web exclusive"  that, "It became clear this week that [British Prime Minister Tony] Blair will devote an extraordinary effort during the final months of his premiership to the conflicts roiling the Middle East, an area in which Britain has a long and often tragic history of involvement and intervention."

To read more, please see "Turning East.

A FEW RELATED LINKS

Blair tells key US panel to focus on Palestinian issue --- The Daily Star, Lebanon 

Blair pushes US on Palestine conflict --- Times Online, UK 

Same old, same old --- The Guardian, UK

White House denies rift with Blair --- The Australian, Australia 

Blair sees a final chance to create peace in Middle East --- Scotsman, United Kingdom 

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November 13, 2006

Professor John Coopersmith: 'Who Will Pay for Iraq and When?'

"Who Will Pay for Iraq and When?" asks Texas A & M University History Professor John Coopersmith in a November 13, 2006, post at the History News Network (HNN).

Mr. Coopersmith, who writes for HNN, notes that, "In all the heated words about the Iraq war, we've heard little or nothing about paying for it. Regardless of how you feel about the war," he wrote, "you must concede that it is going to cost us all dearly."

It is already costing us dearly. See "The more-than-$2-trillion war."

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The Situation In Iraq Gets Grimmer With Each Passing Day

The situation in Iraq is getting grimmer with each passing day. See Today in Iraq's "Daily War News." Also see Professor Juan Cole's Informed Comment blog, which also offers daily war coverage. Things have gotten so bad that Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki has finally decided to authorized 'extreme force' against Iraqi militias.

Not only that, "U.S. military leaders are preparing to recommend changes in Iraq strategy," according to Reuters and other news outlets.See "Top general sees "good scrub" of Iraq policy.  It's going to get worse.

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November 12, 2006

Rumsfeld And The Specter Of War Crimes Charges

OhmyNews Correspondent Bhuwan Thapaliya explains in a November 12, 2006, post why former U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld may face criminal charges in Germany." I don't think Mr. Rumsfeld has much to worry about in this regard. Even if he is convicted, who would dare imprison him?

To read his analysis, see "After Saddam, Now Rumsfeld?

A FEW RELATED LINKS

US Lawyers to Seek Criminal Charges Against Rumsfeld in Germany ---Voice of America

Group seeks case against Rumsfeld over alleged prisoner abuse ' ... ABC Regional Online, Australia 

Would Rumsfeld Stepping Down Leave Him Open to Prosecution? --- Democracy Now, New York, USA 

War Crimes Lawsuit Prepared Against Donald Rumsfeld --- Periódico 26, Cuba 

'[W]ithout any question, [Rumsfeld] has committed War Crimes' ... AlterNet, California, USA 

German legal imperialism --- DetNews.com, Michigan, USA 

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Will Gates Call For A U.S. Withdrawal From Iraq?

Sarah Baxter, a Times of London Washington correspondent, has an incisive analysis in the November 12, 2006, Times Online on the direction Robert "Bob" Michael Gates, the U.S. secretary of defense designate, is likely to take in reshaping U.S. military policy in Iraq. The question is: Will he call for a U.S. withdrawal? Ms. Baxter attempts to answer the question.

U.S. President George W. Bush picked Mr. Gates, president of Texas A&M University, on November 8, 2006, to replace Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, who resigned after the Democrats captured both the U.S. House of Representatives and the Senate in the November 7, 2006, elections. See  Rumsfeld quits as Democrats sweep US election. Mr. Bush calls Mr. Gates an agent of change.

To read Ms. Baxter's analysis, see "New man at the Pentagon puts his hand on Baghdad exit door."

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November 11, 2006

Nat Hentoff: 'Bush Revives Espionage Act'

The Village Voice's Nat Hentoff says in a November 10, 2006, article that "Not many Americans know"  about the upcoming trial of Steven Rosen and Keith Weissman, "former and dismissed staff members of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), the leading pro-Israel lobbying organization."

Hentoff contends that the "trial, slated for next January, ... could result in future government suppression of news stories—based on classified information—such as The Washington Post's reports by Dana Priest of CIA secret prisons in Europe and the James Risen–Eric Lichtblau New York Times revelations on the National Security Agency's secret, warrantless spying on Americans."

Or it could just result in the conviction of two Americans who thinks they shouldn't punished for espionage just because the recipients of the government documents they purloined is Israel.

To read more of Hentoff's argument, see "Bush Revives Espionage Act.

Note: This post can also be found at The Editorial Observer, The Weblog Gazette and The Blogging Journalist.

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A White House Transcript Of Bush's November 11, 2006, Radio Address

 This post is for those interested in reading a White House transcript of U.S. President George W. Bush's November 11, 2006, radio address. Among other things, Mr. Bush's puts an interesting spin on the devastating defeat of the Republicans in the November 7, 2006, U.S. mid-term elections and his decision to finally dump Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld.  

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Iraq Study Groups Scheduled To Meet With Bush November 13

"The situation in Iraq is ``even worse than we thought,'' with key Iraqi leaders showing no willingness to compromise to avoid increasing violence, said Leon Panetta, a member of the high-powered advisory group that will recommend new options for the war," writes Media News Washington Bureau correspondent Frank Davies in a report in the Mercury News of San Jose, California.

Mr. Davies said, "The Iraq Study Group, including Panetta, plans to meet with President Bush and his national security team Monday," [November 13, 2006], "at the White House, and gather more data on the war through briefings and interviews next week. Panetta was chief of staff in the Clinton White House," he noted.

To read Mr. Davies' post, please see "Somber analysis of Iraq's future: Study group Meets With Bush Monday."

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What Do U.S. Troops In Iraq Think About Rumsfeld's Departure?

On November 10, 2006, the Times Online's Martin Fletcher, writing from Baghdad, said "Half of America and the upper echelons of the U.S. military may be cheering [outgoing U.S. Secretary of Defense] Donald Rumsfeld's resignation from the post of Defense Secretary, but there was no rejoicing yesterday [November 9, 2006] among those most directly affected by his decisions: the frontline soldiers in Iraq."

If I'm not mistaken, U.S. soldiers are trained to fight, not offer political opinions. Their is no democracy in the military. So, their opinions don't matter. However, I  can understand why some would not be pleased with Mr. Rumsfeld's departure, if, indeed, that is the case. There's a pride factor involved and not wanting their comrades deaths and injuries to have been in vain. Unfortunately, they are, thanks to fighting in an unjustified war.

To read more of Mr. Fletcher's post, see "Troops fear Rumsfeld's exit will end their Iraq mission."

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Douglas Feith: 'The Donald Rumsfeld I Know'

Douglas J. Feith, a Georgetown University professor who served as undersecretary of defense for policy in the Bush Administration from 2001 to 2005, contends that "Much of what you know about [outgoing Secretary of Defense] Donald Rumsfeld is wrong."

Mr. Feith, one of the warmongering neo-cons who advocated the invasion of Iraq, makes his assertion in an article in the November 12, 2006, edition of The Washington Post headlined "The Donald Rumsfeld I Know."

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BBC: 'Rumsfeld's Departure Pleases Arab Press'

"Many Middle East press commentators view what they dub the "fall" of U.S. defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld as symbolic of the perceived failure of U.S. policy in Iraq as a whole," according to a November 11, 2006, BBC News post.

The BBC said, "Several predict that his resignation will be the first of many members of the Bush administration."

To read more, please see "Rumsfeld's departure pleases Arab press."

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November 9, 2006

The Repudiation of Republicans And U.S. Policy In Iraq

The November 9, 2006, Asia Times Online has interesting articles on U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld's sacrificial resignation and the American people's humiliating repudiation of Bush Administration policy in Iraq and  Republican politicians in the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate.

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'Is Sri Lanka Now a Tit-For-Tat Killing Field'?

K.T. Rajasingham of the Asian Tribune says "A disinformation campaign and a counter-campaign to counter it are being waged at their best in Sri Lanka," a South Asian nation where the Government and  separatist Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) both seem to have little regard for civilians as they try to decimate each other. In fact,  Mr. Rajasingham notes that "the separatist Tamil rebel outfit and the Government of Sri Lanka (GoSL) are also involved in a grim game of numbers – that of counting the dead bodies."

"With their conflicting death toll numbers, both sides are involved in the peak of their disinformation campaign in presenting cases of killings to win justifications and international sympathy, unmindful of the plight of the "Sinnathambys" "Seyeds" and the "Silvas" –the average citizen of Sri Lanka," he added.

To read more of Mr. Rajasingham's astute observation, please see "They killed 68 in Kebithigollewa–So there goes 65 in Kathiraveli" : Is Sri Lanka now at a tit-for-tat killing field?"

RELATED LINKS

Thousands flee Sri Lanka camp --- Reuters, UK

Thousands flee after Sri Lanka army kills refugees --- Mail & Guardian Online, South Africa 

Sri Lanka gov't regrets civilian killings in northeast --- People's Daily Online, China 

Sri Lanka: UN official calls on all sides to protect civilians ... UN News Centre, New York

UN seeks int’l panel to probe Lankan rights abuses --- Daily Times, Pakistan

Sri Lanka: Amnesty International calls for inquiry into attack on displaced civilians --- Amnesty International, UK

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November 8, 2006

Joshua Landis: 'What Is It With War In Summer 2007'?

 Joshua Landis over at Syria Comment.com asks: What is it with War in Summer 2007? It's the headline on a commentary on Haaretz writer Amir Oren's post headlined "IDF preparing for another conflict by next summer" and The Daily Star of Lebanon's "Jewish state claims Hizbullah, Syria planning new war."

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Riverbend: 'Iraq Has Not Been This Bad In Decades'

In a caustic commentary on the verdict condemning former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein to death by hanging for crimes against humanity, Riverbend over at Baghdad Burning opines, in part, in a November 5, 2006, post:

Iraq has not been this bad in decades. The occupation is a failure. The various pro-American, pro-Iranian Iraqi governments are failures. The new Iraqi army is a deadly joke. Is it really time to turn Saddam into a martyr? Things are so bad that even pro-occupation Iraqis are going back on their initial ‘WE LOVE AMERICA’ frenzy. Laith Kubba (a.k.a. Mr. Catfish for his big mouth and constant look of stupidity) was recently on the BBC saying that this was just the beginning of justice, that people responsible for the taking of lives today should also be brought to justice.

River said Mr. Kubba "seems to have forgotten he was one of the supporters of the war and occupation, and an important member of one of the murderous pro-American governments. But history shall not forget Mr. Kubba."

To read the entire post, please see "When All Else Fails..."

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Reports Say U.S. Envoy To Pakistan Will Replace Khalilzad In Iraq

The Independent of London's Patrick Cockburn, writing from Arbil, northern Iraq, reports in a November 7, 2006, dispatch that Zalmay Khalilzad, the US envoy in Baghdad who tried to conciliate the Sunni people, is to leave his post in the next few months said a senior member of the US administration." See "'Failed' American envoy to leave Iraq

Mr.Cockburn quotes "a senior Kurdish political figure" as saying: "Khalilzad really failed because greater Sunni political participation has not reduced the violence and has at the same time angered the Shia."

A November 7, 2006, report in the Daily Times of Pakistan says "Ryan Crocker, US ambassador to Pakistan, is likely to replace" Mr. Khalilzad.  See "Crocker may replace Khalilzad in Baghdad.

A reporter as State Department spokesman Sean McCormack about it during his November 7, 2006, press briefing.

QUESTION: Sean, can you address reports about Ambassador Khalilzad's future? There are accounts that he's on his way out. Even a successor has been mentioned. Could you deal with that?

MR. MCCORMACK: Right. Yeah, Zal is doing -- I just asked the Secretary about this because I've seen the news reports -- the Secretary thinks Zal is doing a great job on behalf of her, as well as the President, in Iraq. It's tough circumstances and he has no immediate plans to go anywhere. He has a lot on his plate. The President and the Secretary have a lot for him -- a lot left for him to do there in Iraq and I don't think he has any immediate plans to leave.

QUESTION: These reports aren't talking really about immediate plans, but at the end of the year, a change or --

MR. MCCORMACK: Eventually we all leave. (Laughter.) Okay. Eventually, yeah -- eventually we all depart. Like I said, he has no immediate plans to leave."

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Was Killing of Pakistani Recruits Revenge For Madrassa Attack?

Was the November 8, 2006, killing of more than two dozen Pakistani soldiers by a suicide bomber revenge for the Pakistani military's October 30, 2006, pre-dawn attack on a  a madrassa or religious school in Pakistan's North-West Frontier Province (NWFP)

That's the obvious question amid reports that as many as 35 Pakistani recruits were killed today by a suicide bomber. See "Suicide bomber kills 35 soldiers. The attack "took place in the town of Dargai, in North West Frontier Province," according to Reuters.

The madrassa killings, which Pakistan claims were carried out against insurgents-in-training, reportedly resulted in the deaths of as many as 80 students. See " Eighty die as Pakistan bombs madrassa linked to militants and "Pakistan Islamists protest against madrassa attack.

Some observers have asked Did US bomb Pak madrassa? As might be expected, the U.S. says it wasn't involved. See "US had no involvement in attack on madrassa, says Boucher." According to The Washington Times, the air strike damaged Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf's "peace strategy."

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November 7, 2006

Guardian Unlimited: 'Give Ortega A Chance'

"In what critics call another sign of waning American influence in Central and Latin America, an "all-out" effort by the United States to convince Nicaraguans not to elect former Sandinista president Daniel Ortega to a second term has apparently failed," asserts The Christian Science Monitor's Tom Regan in a November 7, 2006, news analysis headlined "US fails in effort to derail Ortega presidential bid."

"Give Ortega a chance," the Guardian of London says in its November 8, 2006 leader. I concur. Although the Voice of America says "US Sounds Conciliatory Toward Nicaragua's Ortega, don't be surprised if the Bush Administration tries to undermine his government although he won through the democratic process.

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November 1, 2006

A Gathering For Michael

At 2 a.m. this morning,  I'll be leaving Chicago, USA, with my wife and my sisters Regina and Phyllis on an 800 mile-drive south down to the eastern Arkansas Delta. We are joining other family members from Milwaukee, Boston, Memphis, Muskogee, Oklahoma, Conway, Arkansas, Detroit and Kansas for the funeral of my youngest brother, Michael. He died October 27, 2006, at age 43, in Shannon, Mississippi.

His funeral will be Saturday, November 4,  in the small town of Earle, Arkansas, which is about 26-miles west of Memphis, Tennessee.

This will be the second funeral I've attended in less than a month. On October 19, 2006, I attended the funeral of my Aunt Alma. She was mother's oldest sister. Even then, I knew it wouldn't be long before I'd soon be attending another one. Regina had already alerted me. However, I still wasn't ready for it when she called me from Las Vegas on October 27 crying. She didn't sound like herself, so I knew something was wrong. She's usually a very upbeat woman. Her tears and the news of Michael's death brought me tears. I had forgotten how painful mourning a sibling could be. The last time one of us children died was on the morning of July 15, 1963, when my then youngest sister, Lois, died shortly after birth. My mother died a few minutes later. I had turned 12 the day before. 

Interestingly, I've found myself wondering whether Michael died from his lung cancer or the brain tumors the doctors found. I also found myself being thankful that my sister Jacqueline lived in Shannon. Somehow, years ago, Michael lured her to that small, Mississippi Delta town none of us had ever heard of. Now, except for friends, she's there alone with her children. She gave Michael the kind of loving care one would expect from a devoted sister.

Family members from other states also visited him in the weeks before his death. He was thankful for that although he could only tell them with a whisper.

So, I can't promise that I'll do much blogging for the remainder of the week. But I'll try. I'm taking my ThinkPad with me. Hopefully, my hotel room will have a connection.  If not, I'll probably try to get to an Internet cafe in Memphis.

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