Friday, March 28, 2008

Other Items

More than three dozen Democratic congressional candidates banded together yesterday to promise that, if elected, they will push for legislation calling for an immediate drawdown of troops in Iraq that would leave only a security force in place to guard the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad.

The above is the opening paragraph of Paul Kane's "42 Democrats Vow a Drawdown in Iraq If They Win Seats" (Washington Post) and it is cited by angry visitor who is "furious with you" (me) "for your non-stop promotion of this plan" and for not insisting that no military guard the US Embassy in Iraq. Anger can be a good thing but needs to be directed appropriately. For the record, the paragraph above, that the visitor is highlighting, is the first mention of the plan that has appeared at this site (and I would guess that's true of all community sites). I haven't had time to read the plan so I certainly could not have advocated for it and, in fact, I was making a point to avoid mentioning it before I could read it. So the visitor has obviously confused this site with some other site. In terms of the embassy, unlike many of the gas bags supposedly wanting to end the illegal war, we have noted that the US military will guard the Iraq embassy and usually include this phrase when we do note that "as they do every embassy around the globe." That's just standard practice. All the more so for an embassy in Iraq considering the events in Tehren during Jimm Carter's presidency.

Already the US State Department cannot get enough of their own diplomats to go to Iraq. Pull the military from guarding it after the illegal war ends and it will be even more so. You can argue that the US shouldn't have an embassy in Iraq (a point that really has not been pushed by the peace movement) but it's a bit late in the game to be pushing that and expecting it to garner traction. While it has been alternately dubbed "a fortress" or "a miltary base" (and there are truths to both categorizations), there has been no call put foward of "NO EMBASSY!" It's not a point the peace movement has rallied around.

They may attempt to do so. It will require a lot of education and also explaining since an embassy is supposed to represent diplomatic relations which translates to many as dialogue and that is something any peace movement encourages.

However, for the most part, the peace movement has focused elsewhere and/or accepted that an embassy will remain in Iraq (possibly due to the fact that, realistically, the US government has sunk so much money into that fortress that it's hard to imagine they would easily give it up). If an embassy (either the fortress or another structure) is present, standard operating procedure would be for it to have military guards. All the more so in the region due to the seizure of the embassy in Iran and the hostages taken during Jimmy Carter's presidency. Due to that moment, no president, coming from any poliltical party, would be likely to say, "Oh sure, we'll have an embassy but we won't have the military guard it." A bunker-like mentality led to the construction of the embassy and a bunker-like mentality will continue to center around that embassy.

If the visitor feels passionately about the issue (and he appears to), he can certainly begin advocating for no US embassies in Iraq but, again, that hasn't been a point that the peace movement has rallied around thus far and such an idea would need to be introduced repeatedly to gain traction.

But repeating, one more time, the above paragraph is the first time this site has noted the proposal.

In the New York Times today, Paul Krugman examines the proposals from Senators Hillary Clinton, John McCain and Barack Obama who are all running for president and are all talking the housing crisis:

All in all, the candidate's positions on the mortgage crisis tells the same tale as their positions on health care: a tale that is seriously at odds with the way they're often portrayed.
Mr. McCain, we're told, is a straight-talking maverick. But on domestic policy, he offers neither straight talk nor originality; instead, he panders shamelessly to right-wing ideologues.
Mrs. Clinton, we're assured by sources right and left, tortures puppies and eat babies. But her policy proposals continue to be surprisingly bold and progressive. Finally, Mr. Obama is widely portrayed, not least by himself, as a transformational figure who will usher in a new era. But his actual policy proposals, though liberal, tend to be cautious and relatively orthodox.

Tonight on NOW on PBS (check local listings and some stations air it Saturday or Sunday):

Could a new effort to fight global warming save money and create jobs at the same time? NOW looks at a city-wide plan in Cambridge, Massachusetts, to make all its buildings more energy efficient. Up to 80 percent of emissions in many urban cities comes from buildings. Cambridge hopes that this unprecedented effort to green its buildings will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 10 percent in just five years, the equivalent of taking 33,000 cars off the road. If every major city in America took the same approach, it would have a significant impact on the carbon footprint of the United States --and it would generate tens of millions of new "green" jobs.
The Cambridge Energy Alliance, a nonprofit group, will help clients cut their energy use 15-30 percent, which translates into a lower utility bill. The Alliance will then help clients secure loans to pay for the building retrofits, loans designed to pay themselves off by the savings on those utility bills. Retrofitting thousands of buildings could also create a new green job market in Cambridge. It's a bold new experiment, but the Alliance hopes to become a national model that puts green thinking on display, as well as more green in people's pockets. Will this entrepreneurial effort bring new converts to the environmental movement?

Back to Basra, Polly notes Damien McElroy's "Iraqi army calls on British air support in Basra" (Telegraph of London):

British warplanes have carried out bomb attacks on Shi'ite militia positions in Basra, directly entering the fray for the first time since the Iraqi army began the crackdown in the southern city.
Nouri al-Maliki, the Iraqi prime minister, conceded failure in his bid to crush rebel fighters in Basra today, offering an extended deadline and cash incentives for the surrender of heavy weapons.

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