Bob Schieffer: You said the other day in the 60 Minutes interview that you would not have thought at this point in your presidency that Iraq would be the least of your worries, something to that effect.
Barack Obama: Right. Right.
Bob Schieffer: Are things going well enough there now that you may consider speeding up the withdrawal of troops from Iraq?
Barack Obama: No, I think the plan that we put forward in Iraq is the right one, which is, let's have a very gradual withdrawal schedule through the national elections in Iraq. There's still work to be done on the political side to resolve differences between the various sectarian groups around issues like oil, around issues like provincial elections. And so we're gonna continue to make progress on that front. I'm confident that we're moving in the right direction. But Iraq is not yet completed. We still have a lot of work to do. We still have a lot of training of Iraqi forces to improve their capacity. I'm confident, though, that we're moving in the right direction.
The above is the entire discussion on Iraq from yesterday's Face The Nation (CBS News), click here for write up by Michelle Levi, video and transcript link. On the above, let's first repeat this from last night: "Despite the continued bombing in Basra, all but 400 of the approximately 4,000 British soldiers are gearing up to leave, Reuters reports. Remember that when violence is offered as the excuse for Barack slowing down his draw down." That's not a minor point and those paying attention to the Iraq War only grasp that. But it's also a historical point because it happens in war after war. With that in mind, would the draw down be speeded up? No, says Barack. That's what he says? Friday's Iraq snapshot noted NPR's Lourdes Garcia-Navarro (All Things Considered) interviewed Gen Ray Odierno, top US commander in Iraq. Now Barack said yesterday nothing will speed up the rate of the draw down. What did Odierno tell Lourdes Garcia-Navarro?
Lourdes Garcia-Navarro: Despite those worries and others, Odierno is considering more troop reductions this year ahead of Parliamentary elections.
Ray Odierno: In August, September time frame, I will look at how things are going and I will make another decision on whether I think we should either reduce our presence more. And that assessment will be based on "Do I think I have enough forces to ensure that we have a peaceful, successful, national election?" If I believe we can do that with less forces then we will off-ramp some forces.
Lourdes Garcia-Navarro: Eventually there will be around only 50,000 Americans here down from just under 140,000 now.
So are you confused? Or is it Barack that is?
Meanwhile Gina Chon's "Iraq Hopes Grow on Split in Sadr Body, Amnesties" (Wall St. Journal) reports on a supposed break in Moqtada al-Sadr's movement which takes place as "the government has begun granting secret amnesty deals to members of the breakaway group who also were members of Iranian-backed Shiite militias, in exchange for laying down their arms, according to government officials and three militia members who said they had won amnesty. The militias, dubbed special groups by the U.S. military, have continued to fight U.S. and Iraqi security forces." If either or both are true, al-Sadr's movement might be weakened.
In this morning's New York Times Rod Nordland examines the story the State Dept has been pushing "Humvees!" (yes, most of the feel-good fluff is pushed by either the State Dept or the military, credit to Nordland for -- intentionally or not -- including a sly reference to the hype "an American diplomat" was giving him). It's a bit like Patrick Cockburn's reports if he still had a brain. Meaning Nordland doesn't run with the feel-good spin, slap it together and call it "reporting." (But then, unlike Cockburn, Nordland's not in Iraq on a brief stop-over.) Which is why he's able to include a variety of details that allow for a more balanced view of the 'success' in Humvee sales. The customers are mainly Iraqi government officials (with Nordland cautioning against speculating against graft "since the new government has voted itself enormous pay raises"). About the only thing missing is why Humvees would be the choice. Nordland notes gas has gone from 19 cents a gallon in Iraq to $1.40. Humvees are gas guzzlers, they're not the only ones. In the US, the minivans were popular with many because they 'sat up high' and offered the illusion of protection for that reason, as did SUVs, Humvees, etc. If you're in one of the small cars -- and they are traditionally small cars -- in Iraq and are used to being run off the road by US military vehicles (huge vehicles), you would probably feel safer in a Humvee as well. (Whether you actually were or not is another issue.)
Xinhau reports a Baquba bike bombing which has claimed 3 lives (construction workers) with fifteen more left wounded today. In addition to the bike bombing, Reuters notes a Mosul roadside bombing which has claimed the life of 1 Iraqi soldier and left two more injured, 1 person shot dead in Mosul, a Mosul bombing which has claimed the life of 1 police officer and left four more injured and "a senior official in the Mosul branch of Displacement and Migration Office" was shot dead in Mosul and an aide was "seriously wounded".
While all the above goes on, Nouri al-Maliki, puppet of the occupation, is in Doha. Alsumaria reports:
On sidelines of Qatar Summit, Iraq PM Nuri Al Maliki met with Qatar Emir, the Syrian President Bashar Al Assad, the Lebanese President Michel Suleiman, Kuwait Emir Sabah Al Ahmad Al Jaber Al Sabah and the Arab League Secretary General Amr Moussa. During these meetings Maliki tackled relations with Iraq and urged the Arab leaders to support the country thru opening Embassies in Baghdad.
Al Maliki will address Iraq speech during the Summit. In his statement he is expected to point out to the progress in the security situation and in the political process. He will also talk about the future directives of the government on the economic and investment level and he will also present four Iraqi requests.
One should point out that the Iraqi item in the summit points out to the importance of respecting the unity, integrity and independence of Iraq as well as it stresses on the importance of respecting the will of Iraqi people and his right to choose its future. The Arab leaders hail in this point the efforts that were exerted by the Iraqi government in order to restore, security and stability and to push the political process forth. In addition they also call to enhance the national reconciliation.
Iraq's Foreign Ministry announced yesterday:
Prime Minister Arrives to Qatar
His Excellency Prime Minister Mr. Nuri Kamel Al-Maliki arrived on a head of a high-level delegation on 29/3/2009 to the Qatari capital Doha to participate in the meeting of the Arab summit to be held on 30-31/3/2009.
His Excellency was greeted by the Emir of State of Qatar, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, H Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Bin Khalifa and Prime Minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim bin Jabr Al-Thani and His Excellency Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari , Minister of Trade Abdul Falah Al-Soudani ,Mr. Labeed Abbawi Foreign Ministry Undersecretary and the Ambassador of the Republic of Iraq in Doha Dr. Jawad al-Hindawi.
Prime Minister Nuri Al-Maliko will head the Iraqi delegation to the Arab Summit in its (21) session , as well as the Conference of Arab States and South American countries which will be held on 31st of this month. The Prime Minister will hold a number of meetings with leaders of the States participating in the Summit.
Lastly, Bonnie notes Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts "Swinging Prez" went up last night and, on that, if there are links in Isaiah's text, it's at his request. However, enough drive-by e-mails are coming in that I've added links to the text:
Isaiah's latest The World Today Just Nuts "Swinging Prez." Barack, in Hef robe, declares, "Yeah, I proved Friday I'm the third term of George W. Bush. So what? In the campaign, I started off claiming troops out by March 2008 -- 11 months, then I moved it to 16. Now I'm saying maybe three years. Promise 'em anything and then do what you want." An excited Little Dicky squeals, "Barry! I love you!"
The specific "Not true!" being screamed is March 2008 end of Iraq War. See, the Cult of St. Barack is pretty damn stupid and never learned to read. They only know how to say "Praise Barry." Barack's always changed the date but his groupies were too busy wetting their shorts to notice. Re: March 2008, the link added is Jake Tapper's Feb. 2007 report on the then new candidate Barack Obama who loved to tell a crowd one thing (to huge applause) and then run to the press and say, "I didn't mean it." As you read Tapper's report, you will see that the plan Barack first pushed was March 2008. Also in "And the war drags on . . ." this appears: "US President Barack Obama appeared today on CBS' Face The Nation with moderator Bob Schieffer (here for text report with video option and link for transcript)." "Here" goes to a report by Michelle Levi. I wasn't aware there was an author listed for the report (I got the link over the phone from a friend at CBS News). Had I known the text report of the appearance had a byline, it would have been included. We'll note it now and my apologies.
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