Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Other Items

It doesn’t look as though Americans in Iraq are going anywhere anytime soon. Officially Iraq’s sovereignty was handed back to its rightful owners years ago, which means the occupiers remain in the country at the invitation of the Iraqi government. OK, try not to laugh!
Fact is the occupying power is digging in for the long haul and there is little the Iraqi leadership can do about it even if it wanted to. When challenged about their supersized, superfortified embassy sprouting on prime land — which one must assume was sequestered rather than gifted by Iraq — and their mushrooming permanent military bases, the Americans cite the postwar German/Japan models.
In other words, they are saying the victor has a perfect right to hang around the necks of the vanquished in perpetuity.
In this case, I don’t blame Arab governments for refusing to send their diplomatic personnel into the jaws of danger merely to hobnob with Iraqi officials for the purposes of affording them legitimacy when, as we know, the real decision-making takes place in Washington.

The above is from Linda Heard's "Iraq: US Is Digging in for the Long Haul" (Arab News) and if you doubt Heard's observations, check out Michael Howard's "Luxury hotels and golf: welcome to the Green Zone: Pentagon airs plan to turn Baghdad military redoubt into a chic urban oasis" (Guardian of London):

Picture, if you will, a tree-lined plaza in Baghdad's International Village, flanked by fashion boutiques, swanky cafes, and shiny glass office towers. Nearby a golf course nestles agreeably, where a chip over the water to the final green is but a prelude to cocktails in the club house and a soothing massage in a luxury hotel, which would not look out of place in Sydney harbour. Then, as twilight falls, a pre-prandial stroll, perhaps, amid the cool of the Tigris Riverfront Park, where the peace is broken only by the soulful cries of egrets fishing.
Improbable though it all may seem, this is how some imaginative types in the US military are envisaging the future of Baghdad's Green Zone, the much-pummelled redoubt of the Iraqi capital where a bunker shot has until now had very different connotations.
A $5bn (£2.5bn) tourism and development scheme for the Green Zone being hatched by the Pentagon and an international investment consortium would give the heavily fortified area on the banks of the Tigris a "dream" makeover that will become a magnet for Iraqis, tourists, business people and investors. About half of the area is now occupied by coalition forces, the US state department or private foreign companies.
The US military released the first tentative artists' impression yesterday. An army source said the barbed wire, concrete blast barriers and checkpoints that currently disfigure the 5 sq mile area would be replaced by shopping malls, hotels, elegant apartment blocks and leisure parks. "This is at the end of the day an Iraqi-owned area and we will give it back to them with added value," said the source, who requested anonymity.

Sharon Weinberger covers it for Wired and concludes by noting: "This project reminds of me post-war announcements about Northwest airlines planning to start flights to Baghdad (from Detroit). Needless to say, it hasn't happened, yet."

In this morning's New York Times, Carl Hulse contribues "Democrats Set to Defy Bush on War Bill" which the paper buries on A25 and maybe just as well. The House Democratic leadership intends to include a provision in the bill that would call for 'significant' US troop withdrawals by December 2009 but, as you read further in, you learn that they expect it to pass the House and then be stripped out by the Senate.

taying on the topic of Democrats, Damien Cave (New York Times) offers one of the most serious looks at the proposed gas tax holiday with "For Primaries in Two States, a Variety of Scenarios". The Washington Post's Dan Balz addressed the topic yesterday on The NewsHour (PBS, transcript, audio, video):

DAN BALZ: Well, she's using it to define him as somebody who doesn't care about hardworking people, people who are struggling.
As she said yesterday, when she was on TV: "You know, I know all the economists don't care. I'm not -- I'm not siding with the economists. I'm siding with average people."
And the way she has framed it, which is not simply to give people some break, but also to force the oil companies to pay for it, is another way of sort of saying, "I'm on the side of average people, not on the side of big corporations."

From Brian Montopoli's "Clinton Camp Hits Obama Over Teamsters Report" (CBS News):

On a conference call with reporters this morning, the Clinton campaign knocked Barack Obama over a report in the Wall Street Journal today that Obama "won the endorsement of the Teamsters earlier this year after privately telling the union he supported ending the strict federal oversight imposed to root out corruption."
Clinton has not taken a position on oversight of the Teamsters, and, as the Journal notes, Obama's stance is unusual, as "[p]olicy makers have largely treated monitoring of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters as a legal matter left to the Justice Department since an independent review board was set up in 1992 to eliminate mob influence in the union."

And we'll close with this from Sholnn Freeman's "10 Iraqi Soldiers Die in Drive-By Attack" (Washington Post):

Gunmen killed 10 Iraqi army soldiers Monday in an evening drive-by attack on a security checkpoint in Iraq's volatile Diyala province, a military commander said.
Maj. Gen. Abdel-Karim al-Rubaie said more than 20 gunmen in several cars opened fire at the checkpoint in the town of Muqdadiyah. He said authorities captured one attacker who was injured. In a statement, the U.S. military blamed al-Qaeda in Iraq, the largely homegrown Sunni insurgent group that has targeted other Sunnis aligned with American and Iraqi forces.

And below is Jim Axelrod's report for Monday's The Early Show on CBS.

Added: Jess has asked that "Green Party" sites that can't stay "the hell out of the Democratic race and keep cheerleading Barack" be pulled from the permalinks. This will be happening community wide. So, for instance, if you're a "Green Party" site, you really have no reason to not cover your own party or, as Ty said, "No one needs to hear how White Mama woke up today and just 'knows' all about racism." Since Cynthia McKinney -- the presumed Green Party nominee -- has made it clear she is not running a real campaign, any Green Party site that schills for Obama will not be seen as a Green Party site and will be pulled. The 5% 'strategy' is crap and has offended Green Party members. This was addressed last month and Elaine covered it again last night. We're not playing, we're not supporting a psuedo-party. [Cedric addresses the issue of White Mama in this week's roundtable at Third.] The so-called "Voters for Peace" has been pulled. Other posers will be pulled as well. Lie somewhere else, we're not interested.

The e-mail address for this site is common_ills@yahoo.com.