Friday, April 11, 2008

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President Bush's decision to shorten soldiers’ deployments is a tacit admission of how Iraq is putting untenable strains on the U.S. military, its personnel and their families.
At the same time, his refusal to consider further troop reductions after a planned drawdown this summer shows that America remains stuck in the sand, and Iraqi progress will remain stuck in neutral.

The above is from the Waco Tribune's "Editorial: Wheels spinning in Iraq" (and the link has text and audio). And we're just taking a look at the reaction to his Thursday speech. DK notes this from Peter Schmitz' "Carte Blanche for General Petraeus in Iraq" (Der Spiegel):

Bush, in short, is changing nothing -- unless one counts the reduction in a tour of duty from 15 months to 12 months. For soldiers currently serving in Iraq, however, the change means nothing. It is also doubtful whether this small concession will be enough to ease resentment among top American commanders over the strain on their troops. In his testimony to the House Armed Services Committee on Wednesday General Richard Cody, the Army's outgoing vice chief of staff, said that the "Army is out of balance."

Lyle notes this from Ann McFeatters "Petraeus and Crocker paint grim reality of Iraq" (Scripps Howard News Service):

McCain exulted that progress has been made, even though Petraeus stressed it is "fragile" and "reversible." McCain said, "We are no longer staring into the abyss of defeat, and we can now look ahead to the genuine prospect of success."
But he and his buddy, Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, are among few optimists left in Washington. (And yet again McCain seemed confused as to the difference between Sunnis and Shiites.)

On where things stand in terms of 'ease' on the military, Peter Grier's "Stress still high on U.S. Military" (Christian Science Monitor, link also provides audio by Grier on the hearings this week):

But 140,000 US troops will remain in Iraq at least through September, per the recommendation of top commander Gen. David Petraeus. Many military experts believe that stabilizing the situation there could require a substantial US presence for years to come.
The bottom line: Many ground units have deployed multiple times to Iraq, and "people are tired," according to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Michael Mullen. Army leaders say the readiness of their brigades is down, their equipment is worn, and their ability to respond to any new contingency is questionable.
"We face a large and growing gap between our military commitments and our military capabilities. Something has to give," Andrew Bacevich, a West Point graduate and professor of international relations at Boston University, said in a Senate hearing Wednesday.
By most accountings Iraq is now the third-longest conflict in US history, shorter only than Vietnam and the Revolutionary War.
More than 500,000 US troops have served in Iraq since the 2003 invasion. Almost 200,000 have been deployed there more than once.

Frank James (Baltimore Sun) notes one reaction regarding Bully Boy's military 'plan':

Wow! Anthony Cordesman, one of Washington's most-respected national-security experts, just let President Bush have it. He opened up a can of you-know-what on the commander-in-chief.
In a new commentary on Gen. David Petraeus and Amb. Ryan Crocker's testimony this week, he reads the riot act to Bush in no uncertain terms.
"The Congress, our military, and the American people deserve more than inarticulate Presidential bluster that seems to thinly camouflage a leadership vacuum," writes Cordesman, an analyst at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a Washington think tank.
"Inarticulate presidential bluster" aka IPB. What do you really think, Mr. Cordesman?
Cordesman's outrage come from the inability of Petraeus and Crocker to provide a clear path to success in Iraq. But he doesn't blame them. He blames the man he accuses of IPB.
In a nutshell, Cordesman believes the U.S. has to lay down the law to Iraqi officials, give the Iraqis a limited amount of time to get their act together and head for the exits once the planned timeline reaches its end.

NPR's All Things Considered offers
a report on Bully Boy's request for $102 million more in illegal war funding and the page the link goes to offers audio reports on this week's testimony before Congress.

Reuters reports: "TOP AIDE TO SHI'ITE CLERIC SADR KILLED IN HOLY CITY OF NAJAF, CURFEW IMPOSED-IRAQI POLICE." Meanwhile, from Stephen Farrell's "Making Perfunctory Preparations for Combat in Anti-American Cleric’s Stronghold" (New York Times):

A trench, 4 feet long and 2 feet deep, had been dug in advance, taking up half the width of the main street.
It was halfheartedly concealed by an advertising sandwich board, although none of the hundreds of shoppers and passing drivers paid any attention to the two unmasked, casually dressed militiamen carrying out what is a relatively mundane activity for Sadr City, the Baghdad neighborhood that has been the focus of fighting between government forces and the Mahdi Army.
A few hundred yards along the road another roadside bomb was being laid, also in broad daylight. Again nobody blinked, and there were no government or American troops anywhere nearby to hinder the militia’s leisurely preparations.
This was the scene here on Thursday in the center of Moktada al-Sadr's east Baghdad stronghold, where the Mahdi Army, led by Mr. Sadr, an anti-American cleric, remains in control of much of the district. In other areas there was heavy fighting with American and Iraqi forces, which continued into Thursday night.
Hundreds of portraits of Mr. Sadr and his white-bearded father adorn streetlights and are plastered on walls every 25 yards in some areas.

For those wondering if the US military or the puppet have learned anything from last month's assault on Basra, the answer would appear to be no. They seem intent on ensuring Moqtada al-Sadr receives martyr status. Noah Barkin and Wisam Mohammed (Reuters) report:

U.S. and British forces killed 12 gunmen in air strikes on Iraq's southern oil-hub of Basra and the eastern Baghdad militia stronghold of Sadr City overnight, military officials said on Friday.
Basra had been the scene of fierce fighting late last month between Iraqi troops and black-masked militiamen loyal to radical Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, but Iraq's second largest city has been relatively quiet over the past two weeks.
In the early morning hours of Friday, however, Iraqi troops were fired upon when they tried to enter the northern Basra district of Hayaniya, a stronghold for Sadr's Mehdi Army, Iraqi police said.

McClatchy Newspapers' Nancy A. Youssef is among the panelists on the second hour of NPR's The Diane Rehm Show today. Broadcast will be archived and the second hour of the live broadcast begins airing at 11:00 EST this morning. Tonight (in most markets) NOW on PBS explores poverty. Bill Moyers Journal (also PBS and also tonight in most markets) looks at hunger in America. On the issue of economic realities David Bacon examines day laborers as he continues to report on immigrants and, in September, his latest book is released on this topic: Illegal Workers -- How Globalization Creates Migration and Criminalizes Immigrants (Beacon Press). You can also see his work here at Political Affairs magazine. Sunday on WBAI (11:00 a.m. EST), The Next Hour is hosted by Andrew Andrew and, on Monday, Cat Radio Cafe (2:00 p.m. EST):

Adam Mansbach talks about his new novel, "The End of the Jews"; Stephen Frailey, head of the Department of Photography at the School of Visual Arts discusses "The 2008 Mentors Exhibition"; and painter Simon Dinnerstein discusses his collaboration with his daughter, virtuoso pianist Simone Dinnerstein and radio star Robin Quivers on "A Night of Music & Art with the Dinnersteins," a fundraiser for Healing Bridges, an organization creating jobs for women in Africa.

Rachel notes Howard Wolfson's "HUBdate: Safe and Secure Communities" (

Previewing Today: Hillary delivers a “Solutions for Safe and Secure Communities Now” speech in West Philadelphia with Mayor Michael Nutter and outlines her $4 billion a year crime-fighting plan…the plan cuts murders in half, and “put[s] 100,000 more cops on the streets, create[s] a $1 billion grant program to fight recidivism, and provide[s] more funds to combat gangs and drugs.” Read more and more.

Recapping Yesterday: Hillary responded to President Bush’s address on Iraq: "The President refuses to face the reality that we are confronted with in Iraq"... "Mrs. Clinton also dismissed Mr. McCain's housing market proposals as 'warmed-over' and 'half-hearted' versions of her own plans." Read more.

Basking in Support: At last night's Allegheny County Democratic Dinner, Hillary "bask[ed] in support" ... and "invoking her mother, her daughter and the other women in her family, Pittsburgh's first female mayor [Sophie Masloff] endorsed a candidate battling to be the first woman to preside in the Oval Office." Read more.

Three In 36 Hours: Hillary received the support of three new automatic delegates over the past 36 hours...the campaign also announced that Hillary has now received the endorsement of over 270 elected officials in Pennsylvania. Read more and more.

Renewing the American Dream: Yesterday, Hillary attended the Beaver County Democratic Dinner in Hopewell Township, where "she promised a boisterous Democratic audience that she'd renew the American dream and repeatedly said she could fix mistakes made by President Bush on the economy and the war in Iraq." Read more.

On Tap in Indiana: Hillary will host "Solutions for the American Economy" events in Indianapolis, Mishawaka, and Valparaiso on Saturday. Sen. Bayh previewed the trip on a call with reporters. Read more.

Standing Strong: Other elected officials, including Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ) are joining Hillary in her calls for President Bush to boycott the opening ceremonies of the Beijing Olympics because of the recent human rights violations committed by the Chinese government against Tibetan protestors. Read more.

In Case You Missed It: Sen. Obama has lost the 10-point lead nationally over Sen. John McCain he had a month ago, while Hillary leads McCain 48% to 45% in the same poll. View here.

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