Court Of Impeachment And War Crimes: Impeach Bush and Cheney News; Congress runs like Chickens leaving Bush In Charge of the Country and the WORLD!

Click for a full report.

Imbush Peach

An interview with Naomi Wolf about the 10 steps from democracy to dictatorship!

Stop The Spying Now

Stop the Spying!

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Impeach Bush and Cheney News; Congress runs like Chickens leaving Bush In Charge of the Country and the WORLD!



From Open Left
A letter from Caroline Fredrickson, Washington Director of ACLU


Much of your criticism is unwarranted: we worked FISA and hard (and have been since December 2005). We reached out to Democratic leaders -- we met with Pelosi and with Reid -- we spoke with the staff from every leadership office. They did not listen to us. It was dem leadership who scheduled the vote on these particular bills. Why be mad at us and not at them? We met with them. They rebuffed our arguments.

We weren't notified that the bill was moving until 6 days before when Rep. Harman let it slip on Late Edition with Wolf Blitzer. We gave it the full court press: with action alerts, meetings with Members of Congress and Senators and their staff.

Pelosi and friends spent the entire week negotiating with the DNI and cut out ALL the civil liberties groups - not just the ACLU. Senator Rockefeller led the effort on the Senate side (with McConnell). The bill only passed because a) 41 dems crossed the line in the house, after the "liberal leadership" could NOT muster up its own party to assert its 30 seat majority, and b) most importantly, Pelosi, our "liberal leader" scheduled the bill in the first place. She could have put any bill on the schedule and she chose the Administration's. We worked this hard, and somehow you blame the ACLU?

Here's the sad fact: Dems are scared to pieces about the issue of terrorism and feel that they desperately need to show "strength" - even when the cost is their principles, and our Constitution. Look for lots more of this in the Fall. (and of course "crime" has the same potential to soften spines).

We are trying to communicate to Americans what they lost. We need folks to keep the pressure on Congress -- as you know, this will be voted on again in six months.....It would be more helpful if you could explain to your readership what we lose when the Fourth Amendment gets turned on its head and Americans can be wiretapped without warrants than your finger pointing at the ACLU. We lost, but we worked it hard. One of the key problems for this battle was that Mike McConnell, the DNI, enjoys tremendous respect from the Democratic leadership. They believe everything he tells them. Why not attack them for that rather than attacking us? And what about buying into pressure from President Bush? Has there been a president who can be trusted as little on national security? Remember weapons of mass destruction? But still the Dems gave him what he wanted.

Then on Habeas:

Find Habeas is one small piece of a much broader campaign that has included a massive rally and lobby day, radio and print ads, in-district organizing, building coalitions both in DC and in the field, etc. (see below for the details)

And as to your comment on results (i.e., habeas hasn't been restored yet), we can say that the relevant committees in both the House and the Senate have held hearings over the past two months, and the House leadership is committed to moving a bipartisan habeas bill sponsored by House Armed Services Committee Chairman Ike Skelton, and the Senate is ready to vote on the habeas issue when the Defense Department authorization bill gets back on the Senate floor this fall. So while we have not had results yet, we think we are turning the corner on restoring habeas rights.

1,001 More Americans Have Been Killed in Iraq
by: Lowell

Wed Aug 08, 2007 at 06:34:57 AM EDT
To date, there have been 3,680 American soldiers killed in Iraq. There have also been 26,558 wounded, some egregiously. But that's not the entire story. According to the New York Times, "As of June 30, government figures show, 1,001 contractors had died in Iraq since the start of the war."

As Josh Marshall points out, "I'm not sure I've ever seen actual numbers" on private contractors killed in Iraq. Is there any reason why these statistics have not been released previously? They may be private sector, but they're still Americans killed in Iraq, helping the U.S. military carry out its mission.

I would also point out that the policy of our government, certainly during the Bush Administration, has been to contract out as many military functions as possible, to companies like Halliburton, Bechtel, and Blackwater. Whether or not you think this is a good thing (I don't), the fact is that it means we've got a lot more Americans fighting - and dying - in Iraq than the U.S. military statistics would lead us to believe.

Lowell :: 1,001 More Americans Have Been Killed in Iraq
US Iraq casualties rise to 57,994
Submitted by davidswanson on Tue, 2007-08-07 19:26. Media
By Michael Munk

US military occupation forces in Iraq suffered at least 192 combat casulties in the week ending August 7, as total casualties reached at least 57,994.The total includes 30,300 killed or wounded by what the Pentagon classifies as "hostile" causes and 27,694 (this number over a month old) more dead and injured from "non-hostile" causes.

US media divert attention from the actual cost in American life and limb by routinely reporting only the total killed (3,679 as of Aug. 7) and rarely mentioning the 27,279 wounded in combat. To further minimize public perception of the cost, they cover for the Pentagon by ignoring the 27,046 military victims of as accidents and illness serious enough to require medical evacuation (through June 30), although the 3,679 reported deaths include 648 (down one last week) who died from those same causes, including 116 suicides.

Although not defined as "casualties" since they have been discharged from active duty, as of the end of 2006 more than 180,000 U.S. military veterans of Iraq and Afganistan had filed disability claims.

The LA Times recently estimated that the number of employes of the US military contractors (182,000--not including all mercenaries) exceeds the number of the US troops in Iraq (160,000). It broke down that number as 118,00 Iraqis and 64,000 foreigners, including 21,000 Americans. Reuters reports that these contractors had suffered 11,502 contractor casualties (933 dead as of June 30; 10,569 wounded as of March 31).About 200 of the dead were Americans.

For those following The Oregonian's inconsistent reporting on US casualties, its box on what caused US casualties in Afganistan reverted to the accurate "as a result of the US invasion" on August 5.

Awhile ago it was difficult to find the word Impeachment in print or even hear it whispered by the media. That has changed. Now, as we all accept that though we will have to fight Bush and the Congress, the climate of political pressure is such that the war will be brought to an end; the only question is when?

We have entered a new phase where the realization is being voiced that the ending of our occupational role in Iraq will unleash the forces of religious Genocide in Iraq. That blood will be on our hands and there will be no way to disown, disavow it. Though I certainly do not condone the circumstances of Iraq before our ill planned, ill executed invasion; we must accept the fact that we have given extremists the environment and validation to embark on a massive post war blood letting.

The saddest component of I what I foresee is the impact upon the Kurds. They have been exemplary in avoiding deep involvement in the catastrophe, but it is inevitable that the post war period will see the bloodshed spill into that area as a matter of ethnic differences, oil concerns and the prevention of Kurdistan evolving into an independent state. Any plan of political partitioning would guarantee that result, and naturally evolving forces are headed in that direction no matter the denials of their officials to the contrary. Here is one place where the world could prevent the coming slaughter, but we have come to simply accept genocide around the world as a function of man’s unwillingness to confront it. We have become impotent and there does not seem to be a political Viagra available…so we will do nothing! Ed.
Iraqi Kurds pass own oil law

Submitted by davidswanson on Tue, 2007-08-07 16:51. Media

By Klawrojna

Iraq's largely autonomous Kurdish region passed its own oil law today, despite Iraq's parliament having failed to pass a national law after months of negotiations by the country's main political blocs.

Kurdish officials stressed that it had been drawn up in line with the national constitution and did not contradict the federal law, which Iraq's leaders agreed on 3 July but has not yet been sent to parliament.

The draft federal oil law is now in limbo while the national parliament is on its summer break for the month of August. No date has been set to debate it.

Iraq has the world's third-largest oil reserves, which are mainly in the north and the south of the country.

The national hydrocarbon law is seen as pivotal by Washington to reconciling warring Iraqis, rebuilding Iraq's shattered economy and attracting foreign investment.

After a week-long debate, Kurdish lawmakers passed the Petroleum Law of the Kurdistan Region unanimously.

"We have freedom and now we have a law that enables us to make new projects and sign new contracts for the benefit of our people," Kurdistan's Minister for Natural Resources Ashti Hawrami told Reuters afterwards.

"There is no problem with the previous contracts that we signed already before issuing this law, but we will review them to persuade all of them that these contracts are legal."

The Kurdistan region has signed several agreements with foreign companies.

The Kurdish law provides for the establishment of the Kurdistan National Oil Company and says "the regional government shall share revenue derived from petroleum with all the people of Iraq."

Kurdistan forced renegotiation of the national hydrocarbon law, fearing that it gave the federal government too much control over oil exploration, revenue sharing and negotiating contracts with foreign companies.

Kurdistan Oil and Gas Law approved by Kurdistan ParliamentBy

Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani hailed the Kurdistan National Assembly’s passage of the Kurdistan Oil and Gas Law as a “historic moment” that, “together with the Iraq Constitution, will be the foundation of our economic development,” and will allow the Kurdistan Regional Government to “chose the best, most experienced, the most committed investors” for the Region. (Statement by Prime Minister of the Kurdistan Regional Government Nechirvan Barzani )

The Kurdistan Region Oil and Gas Law is consistent with the Iraq Constitution and will require the Kurdistan Region to share revenues with the Federal Government and other regions in Iraq, just as other regions will share revenues with the Kurdistan Region. The Kurdistan Region will receive 17% of all revenues from all oil production in all of Iraq.

The Prime Minister stated that “this law is the concrete embodiment of our commitment to a federal, democratic, and pluralistic Iraq…We are giving much to Iraq, and we are receiving much in return.”

The law is also an important sign to the rest of Iraq and the international community that consensus on important issues is possible. The Prime Minister emphasized this by saying that “we are leading the way, through the passage of this Law, and showing others in Iraq and the international community that we can cooperate, we can develop, and we can succeed.”

Prime Minister Barzani thanked the Members of the Assembly, the Ministry of Justice, and in particular the Minster of Natural Resources, Dr. Ashti Hawrami, for their hard work and dedication.

Minister Hawrami echoed the Prime Minister’s statements regarding the important economic effect resulting from the passage of this law and also commented that the Kurdistan Regional Government would redouble its “efforts to ensure that the Iraq revenue sharing law and Iraq hydrocarbon law proceed through the federal parliament. All Iraqi peoples have a common interest in ensuring that investment and petroleum production are maximized.” (Ashti Hawrami: Kurdistan Region Oil and Gas Law)

The passage of this law is a concrete example of the hard work and pragmatism of the Kurdistan Regional Government and its dedication to demonstrating through action that it is committed to bringing wealth, fairness, transparency, and accountability to Iraq. It is also an important step towards the creation of a new Iraq – one based on the principles of pluralism, federalism and equality for all its peoples.

Statement by Prime Minister of the Kurdistan Regional Government Nechirvan Barzani: Kurdistan Region Oil and Gas LawBy

Today’s action by the Kurdistan National Assembly in passing the Kurdistan Region Oil Law is a historic moment that will be remembered for years to come. I thank the Members of the Assembly, the Ministry of Justice, and in particular the Minister of Natural Resources, Dr. Ashti Hawrami for their hard work and dedication.

We have all waited a long time for this day. Over the decades, oil in the Kurdistan Region has been more of a curse than a blessing. The people of the Kurdistan Region have never benefited from our natural resources. Successive governments in Iraq have deliberately left our oil in the ground as an effort to keep our people poor and to deny our aspirations for a better way of life.

Today, with the passage of this new Kurdistan Law in a federal Iraq, we know that those days are gone. The Constitution of Iraq, supported by more than 99 per cent of voters in the Kurdistan Region, gives us control over our oil. Together with the Iraq Constitution, the Kurdistan Region Oil and Gas Law will be the foundation of our economic development.

This Law is therefore good for the people of the Kurdistan Region. Under this Law, domestic and international investors can come to the Kurdistan Region, generate revenue, bring jobs and training and opportunities to us and our children. The Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), for its part, will be able to choose the best, most experienced, the most committed investors for our region who can bring us prosperity and share in our success. Together, we will build a bright future for our people.

The new Oil Law is not only good for people in the Kurdistan Region -- it is good for all Iraqi people. Consistent with the Iraq Constitution, this Law requires us to share revenue with the Federal Government and other Regions in Iraq just as other regions of Iraq will share their revenues with us.

We will receive 17% of all revenues from all oil production in all of Iraq. The process by which these funds are shared will be open and transparent. We will be able to depend on this revenue, to know when it is coming, and to plan our budgets accordingly. This law is the concrete embodiment of our commitment to a federal, democratic and pluralistic Iraq. We are giving much to Iraq, and we are receiving much in return.

The process of negotiation with Baghdad on the Hydrocarbon Law and the Revenue Sharing Law has taken us many months. While progress has been made, there are still obstacles to be overcome before a final agreement can be reached. After lengthy negotiations, and agreement, on the final drafts, the draft laws were sent to the Shura Council in Baghdad to be legally formatted. However, the Shura Council overstepped its mandate and instead made substantive political changes that contravened the agreement between the KRG and the Council of Ministers in Baghdad. This has caused a serious delay in the process.

If the Iraqi government and parties remain true to their word, as we have here, then the dreams of prosperity and stability that have guided us for years can come true. We are leading the way, through the passage of this Law, and showing others in Iraq and the international community that we can cooperate, we can develop, and we can succeed.

We in Kurdistan must lead from the front. We must demonstrate by our actions, not just words, that we are committed to bringing wealth, fairness, transparency, and accountability to Iraq. We must show the rest of Iraq what can be achieved with hard work, pragmatism, and strong, businesslike ethics.

This is a great and historic day for the people of the Kurdistan Region and I congratulate the Kurdistan National Assembly on its excellent work. Our bright future lies before us thanks to your efforts.

Iraq's wealth in the balance

The present draft Iraq oil law is virtually guaranteed to betray the vital interests of Iraqis
By Hussein Abdallah, Al Ahram Weekly

The US administration considers the ratification of the hydrocarbon law in Iraq as one of the major targets of the US occupation. Therefore, it has been pressing Iraq's government to pass the law, ostensibly as part of efforts to promote "reconciliation" among the country's religious and ethnic groups. Moreover, since oil provides 95 per cent of Iraq's national income, the recovery of the country's oil sector would reduce the US economic and military burden in Iraq.

Recent US government reports, however, show that much-awaited approval of this law designed to govern the granting of exploration rights to foreign companies would be just the beginning in addressing the Iraq oil problem. This law would provide only a broad framework for handling the Iraqi oil industry, leaving many devilish details to be worked out later. Another part of the law -- the distribution of revenue based on regional population -- will require a politically sensitive census to be undertaken, which is a difficult task under conditions of war.

Given that the law has been passed by the Iraqi cabinet and will be debated in parliament, it is vital to shed light on the nature of the law that already elicits fierce controversy. Overall, the law should be put on hold for several reasons, the most important of which are as follows.

First, the draft law is expected to clearly assign roles, decentralize the development of oil and gas fields, centralize control of revenues, and grant regions and regional oil companies the right to draw up contracts with foreign companies for exploration and development of new oil fields. Therefore, the law refers to several laws to be legislated later on, examples of which are the Iraq national oil company (INOC) law, the Oil Ministry law, and the appendices that design the contract models to be negotiated with foreign companies, being a service contract or a production sharing agreement (PSA). Since these laws represent integral parts of the main hydrocarbon law, it would be wiser to work out the whole integrated legal matrix and debate it in one go later on.

According to a recent report by the US Government Accountability Office, leaked in May 2007, a great deal of corruption has dogged Iraq's oil industry. Between 100,000- 300,000 barrels of oil per day are stolen and oil production has dwindled from 3.5 million barrels per day to less than two million barrels per day. The market value of such smuggling ranges between $5 and $15 million a day, with the aggregate value of corruption in the oil sector estimated by the Iraqi Auditor General at $24 billion over the past four years.

Since local corruption could not flourish without a foreign partner, who must market the stolen oil or pass bribes or launder funds, it would be better not to expand foreign participation in Iraq's oil industry, and surely not under the aegis of occupying powers.

Considering the lack of measuring gauges that identify the volume and quality of crude oil and gas at production points as well as at loading facilities and shipping ports, it is all the more important to put things on hold. Even such equipment as exists is faulty. It is imperative to immediately repair or install adequate measuring equipment, whether the hydrocarbon law is passed or postponed.

Contracts that sell the national wealth of an occupied country are illegal under international law and can be canceled once the occupied country is liberated. Therefore, the Iraqi governments should not expect to receive offers from well-established and respectable oil companies. Even if some American companies offer to develop Iraqi oil and gas, they have to keep in mind the possibility of their being disqualified once American troops leave.

In such a case, any investment will aim at making as much money as possible in the shortest possible time before abandoning Iraq. In the oil industry, this is the most wasteful type of investment. The industry is, by nature, based on far-sighted projections and requisite long-term infrastructure that the speculation-driven investor would be hesitant to undertake.

Second, besides several loopholes and ambiguities, the draft law is flawed by several shortcomings and matters overlooked. Most important is the lack of parliamentary sanction over concession contracts or agreements to be concluded with international oil companies (IOCs). Parliamentary oversight is an established rule in almost all oil producing countries.

The fact that such oversight is entrusted to the Federal Council for Oil and Gas (FCOG) does not furnish guarantees that the most will be made of the country's vital wealth. The FCOG is only part of the executive authority because it is formed by the cabinet; concession contracts and agreements negotiated and prepared by the executive authority should be sanctioned, or not, by parliament.

Article 5 of the draft law provides that parliament shall approve all petroleum treaties that Iraq signs with other countries. Yet this article does not apply to concession contracts and agreements, which are negotiated and concluded with IOCs and should be approved by parliament as well.

Article 2 excludes from the scope of the draft law several major oil and gas activities -- for example, the refining of petroleum, its industrial utilization, as well as the storage, transport and distribution of petroleum products. The wisdom of this shortcoming is not apparent because all such activities are interrelated and the exclusion of some may leave loopholes open for possible corruption. If these interrelated activities cannot be included in the draft oil law, they should be organized and legislated in a separate law.

Article 6 establishes the Iraq National Oil Company (INOC) as a holding company fully owned by the Iraqi government, its scope of operations defined. One aspect is for the company to carry out exploration and production operations in new areas on a competitive basis with foreign companies. Article 6 clearly leaves out a long-established clause which is usually embedded in hydrocarbon laws and gives priority to the national oil company in case of equal competitive standing with foreign companies.

We now come to the most crucial condition guaranteeing healthy management of the oil and gas sector: the free and independent decision of those Iraqi officials who are to negotiate and contract with IOCs. The model contract that will be approved by the law is designed in such a way that leaves many blank spaces to be filled later.

In fact, these blanks are the most crucial clauses because they cover such vital matters as production bonuses, the amount of investment to be spent on operations, the periods of each exploration and production phase, the amount of oil produced to be allocated to the foreign company for cost recovery, the period over which such costs will be recovered, the portion of total production to be obtained by the foreign company as profit (known as equity oil), the basis of sharing natural gas as well as the pricing of portions needed for domestic consumption out of the foreign company's share, and the amount of oil that is to be obtained by the Iraq government in compensation for the depletion of its national wealth (known as royalties), becoming due regardless of loss and profit after production.

There are countless such crucial matters that are left to the discretion and integrity of Iraqi negotiators, including, at the beginning, the selection of those IOCs that are to be included in a shortlist and exclusively allowed to apply for exploration and production rights.

Article 10 sets up the mechanisms of negotiation and contracting for granting rights to explore and produce oil and gas. These responsibilities are distributed among several bodies of the executive authority, on both national and regional levels. Once initial procedures are complete, the contract must be submitted to the FCOG within 30 days from the day of signing. The FCOG, if it so decides, would then submit the contract to the "Panel of Independent Advisors" for analysis on the extent of its compliance with model contracts approved by the FCOG.

If the executive body that negotiated the initial contract, being the Oil Ministry, INOC or regional authority, does not receive an objection from the FCOG within 60 days of receipt of the initial contract, the contract remains valid. This mechanism clearly assumes that the initial contract is valid unless the FCOG expresses its objection within 60 days by two-thirds majority, which may be difficult to secure in many cases.

This is a very rigid and inefficient way of handling the contracting process. The time allowed is too tight, squeezing the whole decision-making process into 90 days. In practice, it often takes much longer. Contract compliance with approved models is only a formal step -- clearly inadequate given the vital items that have to be negotiated. Such hastily concluded contracts can only give rise to problems, leaving real power in the hands of select Iraqi negotiators and IOCs, with increased possibility for corruption.

The fragmentation of the contracting process between federal and regional authorities, which is strongly favored by the Kurdistan regional government, is an inefficient system. It allows IOCs to maneuver and play Iraqi regions against each other. The most recent experience in this regard proved a complete failure -- Sudan. Like Iraq, there was disagreement between the north and south over the distribution of Sudan's oil wealth, 80 per cent of which lies in the south.

This prompted the government of southern Sudan to contract the UK White Nile Company to operate in a certain area that was also contracted by the national government to the French company Total. Conflicting claims were not resolved until the National Petroleum Commission was established in June 2007, representing Khartoum and Juba equally, ordering the White Nile Company to halt its activities and leave Sudan.

In light of the above, it is almost impossible for an Iraqi civil servant to freely and impartially select the best IOCs to deal with and get fair and just contractual terms for Iraq. It is now common knowledge that nothing of importance is done in Iraq without the approval of the US as an occupying power. The bottom line is, therefore, that the mere presence of US troops on Iraqi soil almost guarantees that this law will be a bad one.

Demo/GOP Prepare Gonzales ImpeachmentFree Market News Network - Pompano Beach,FL,USAA freshman Democratic Congress member from Tennessee is working with a former Reagan-era Justice Department lawyer to introduce Articles of Impeachment ...See all stories on this topic

Impeachment warrantedKansas City Star - MO,USAImpeachment is the one tool our Founding Fathers gave America to guarantee our president acts lawfully. Bush and Cheney have for

City Council Impeachment Resolution Falls ShortWMTW - Auburn,ME,USAPORTLAND, Maine -- A Portland City Council resolution calling for the US House to begin impeachment proceedings against President George W. Bush came up one ...See all stories on this topic

Conyers: Contradictory on Impeachment, - New ZealandNow chairman of the Judiciary Committee, where impeachment proceedings must begin, Conyers concurs with Speaker Nancy Pelosi that impeachment is "off the ...See all stories on this topic

Impeachment warranted . . .Orlando Sentinel - Orlando,FL,USAMany of us, like Monday's letter writer Bill Leavy, feel impeachment is warranted to thwart the executive branch's maniacal lust for power and disregard for ...See all stories on this topic

Telluride impeachment vote reaps stormDenver Post - Denver,CO,USATexas and Florida Republicans, who have sent the most e-mails decrying the council's impeachment vote, don't see it that way. ...See all stories on this topic

Wisconsin Green Party Affirms Green elected officials leadership ...By ronaldkanehardy Today the Wisconsin Green Party affirmed Green elected officials' sponsorship of resolutions calling for the impeachment of President Bush and Vice President Cheney, which they will bring before the Dane County Board and Madison City ...Wisconsin Green Party - Peace Party -

Rep. Steve Cohen Drafting Articles of Impeachment for GonzalesAccording to the Memphis Commercial Appeal, Congressman and Judiciary Committee Member Steve Cohen is moving beyond Congressman Inslee's bill to draw up actual articles of impeachment against Attorney General Alberto Gonzales: - Impeach... -

Impeachment as Solution to the Iraq WarBy populist ... for it and obscures the clearest path to a saner future. If instead Iraq was framed as the armed assault that it was (billed as "Shock and Awe"), there is a logical, expedient political solution at our disposal - impeachment...Drudge Retort: User Blogs -

Rep. Steve Cohen Drafts Articles of Impeachment for GonzalesBy Bob Fertik In a telephone interview from Memphis on Monday, Cohen said he and his staff are working with former Reagan Justice Department lawyer Bruce Fein to draw up articles of impeachment against Atty. Gen. Alberto Gonzales. - The Aggressive... -

Impeachment would be losing fightBy Phillip Brownlee Cheneybush Liberal Democrats are pressuring lawmakers to launch impeachment proceedings against President Bush and Vice President Cheney. But Michael Tomasky, a contributing editor at the American Prospect, warns against it. ...WE Blog -

Debate on Iraq surge's effectiveness heats up


Gen. David Petraeus treads cautiously in public, while two Brookings Institution scholars draw fire from the left for saying that the surge should be extended.
By Dan Murphy
from the August 9, 2007 edition

Cairo – Gen. David Petraeus, the top US commander in Iraq, is treading cautiously in public, a month before he and US ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker are expected to make a case to Congress that the military surge in Iraq, the recent buildup of US forces there, is getting results, the Associated Press reports.

In an Associated Press interview in late July in his office at the U.S. Embassy, Petraeus betrayed no sign of anxiety, except perhaps a hint of worry that he might tip his hand too early, thus opening himself to challenge from critics before he has fully armed himself with credible arguments for why the buildup is working.

… his tone was flat, almost a monotone. He chose his words carefully. Only when he got to the subject of the sacrifices made in this war by soldiers and their families did he get animated.

"This is too important to always turn the other cheek, shall we say. I think sometimes you have to have straightforward conversations," he says, adding: "I think I owe that to 3,600 families in the United States and the 160,000 coalition forces who are soldiering their hearts out. I take that responsibility very, very seriously."

While Petraeus and other commanders have hinted in the past that they are likely to recommend extending the surge in the September report, he has also said that the key to the plan is providing enough security so that political reconciliation – the key to ending Iraq's war – can take place.

In a recent opinion piece for The New York Times, Brookings Institution scholars Michael O'Hanlon and Kenneth Pollack argue that the US is "finally getting somewhere in Iraq, at least in military terms" and the surge should be extended.

For now, things look much better than before. American advisers told us that many of the corrupt and sectarian Iraqi commanders who once infested the force have been removed. The American high command assesses that more than three-quarters of the Iraqi Army battalion commanders in Baghdad are now reliable partners (at least for as long as American forces remain in Iraq).

But the two also note that political progress has been slim.

In the end, the situation in Iraq remains grave. In particular, we still face huge hurdles on the political front. Iraqi politicians of all stripes continue to dawdle and maneuver for position against one another when major steps towards reconciliation — or at least accommodation — are needed. This cannot continue indefinitely. Otherwise, once we begin to downsize, important communities may not feel committed to the status quo, and Iraqi security forces may splinter along ethnic and religious lines.

The opinion piece has generated heavy criticism from opponents of the war, who charge that it is boosterish and results from a very brief trip to the war zone. For instance, the Think Progress blog reports that Pennsylvania Democrat John Murtha said: "I dismiss it as rhetoric."

"In my estimation, the things I measure — oil production, electricity production, water — only 2 hours of electricity! I don't know where they were staying, I don't know what they saw… It's not getting better. It's rhetorical, is what's getting better," Murtha said. "It's an illusion."

However, Col. Pat Land (ret.), a former head of Middle East intelligence for the Defense Intelligence Agency, who has been a frequent critic of the conduct of the war on his blog Sic Semper Tyrannis 2007, said the piece reflects an improved understanding by American commanders of "the kind of war they are in," while also noting that long-term success there is still questionable. He approvingly comments on the two men's recent appearance on Fox News Sunday (FNS).

Towards the end of the FNS interview both men said that in the part of (counter-insurgency historian Bernard) Fall's formulation that concerns PA (political action) there has been NO, ZERO, NOTHING. In other words the Maliki government has not made any progress at all towards national reconciliation. They further say that they see no prospect for movement towards national reconciliation in Iraq under Malikis rule but that it would be folly for the United States to attempt to cause his removal.

In other words, they and I have much the same opinion. People on the left who greeted the NY Times oped with great agitation were mistaken in their reaction. The piece and the FNS interview today should be seen as deserved praise for long awaited comprehension of "this kind of war" by the US military. At the same time the esoteric meaning (attention straussians) of their exposition is that without an Iraqi government that wants inter-communal reconciliation there will be no peace in Iraq.

The prospect for that sort of reconciliation is precisely what seems to have receded in recent weeks, judging from the recent withdrawals from the national unity government of many secular and Sunni Arab officials.

The Washington Post reports that the five ministers from the Iraqiya coalition headed by former Prime Minister Iyad Allawi suspended their participation in cabinet meetings on Monday, following the withdrawal of the six ministers from the largest Sunni Arab block in parliament last week.

Legislators loyal to Allawi said the ministers would continue to run their ministries but not attend any cabinet meetings. They cited as reasons for their action a lack of progress on issues such as the status of Iraqi detainees, the repatriation of displaced Iraqis and the return of former members of Saddam Hussein's Baath Party to government jobs.

"This act is not an escalation, but it is an objection to what the government is doing," Alia Nusaiyef Jasim, a legislator in Allawi's secular Shiite al-Iraqiyah bloc, told the al-Jazeera television network. "The Iraqiyah bloc participated in the government on the basis of sharing in the decision-making, but the bloc is marginalized in the government"

By Middle East historian Juan Cole's count, on his blog Informed Comment, 17 out of 38 cabinet ministers have now either resigned or suspended their membership, meaning, in his analysis, that "it is no longer possible to speak of (Prime Minister Nuri) al-Maliki's as a national unity government."

In his blog, Abu Aardvark, Marc Lynch, a political science professor and Middle East expert at George Washington University, says he sees a hardening of sectarian politics in recent events that bodes poorly for security and stability in Iraq.

Maliki doesn't seem particularly frantic, and it's understandable why. His government won't fall as long as he maintains the support of the Shia bloc (and the Parliament isn't in session anyway to carry out a no-confidence vote). He probably likes seeing Sunnis running around all pissed off better than he likes seeing them around the table at Cabinet meetings. He certainly would rather lose his Sunni cover in the Cabinet than actually make any concessions on the sectarian policies which are kind of the raison d'etre of his government (as if he'd really move against Shi'a militia penetration of the army at a time when, in his view, the Americans are arming Sunni militias in a parallel security force).

It's just reported that Allawi is out… that leaves Maliki with a purely sectarian government, with sectarian-minded Shia allied with the Kurds.

Meanwhile, the decision of Iraq's parliament to go on vacation as the ruling coalition has tottered, and with little progress so far on key legislation, has been roundly criticized by American politicians, The New York Times reports.

Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and several members of Congress already have expressed disappointment with Iraq's 275 lawmakers for recessing when roughly 160,000 U.S. soldiers are enduring Iraq's blast-furnace summer to secure the country - ostensibly to make political progress possible. It did not help that the need for a break was among the only things that the warring factions could agree on.

This political cartoon from mid-July summed up the mood.

1 comment:

Nancy Maynard said...

Ed, one of your best ever! I posted a link over on Democratic Underground's Impeachment Group