Those elections are a key barometer for U.S. officials gauging stability and planning for a large-scale U.S. troop drawdown next year. Gen. Lanza said the U.S. military would make an assessment about 30 to 60 days after Iraq's elections to determine the next steps in the U.S. forces withdrawal. There are currently about 120,000 troops in Iraq, but that figure is scheduled to go down to about 50,000 by next August.
He made his comments a day after at least 25 people were killed in western Anbar province by three car bombs that went off near government buildings and a hospital in Ramadi. Gen. Lanza said overall, security has improved dramatically in the former insurgent stronghold of Anbar, and he said high-profile attacks have decreased by 51% so far in 2009, compared to the same period in 2008.
That's from Gina Chon's report on Brig Gen Stephen Lanza at the Wall St. Journal. Chon again reminds that the election law must be passed by Thursday in order for elections to be held in January. Rod Nordland (New York Times) also reports on the press conference:
"I really think the elections will be a point of departure by which we look at an assessment of true drawdown and really start moving our numbers from, let’s say, somewhere between 120,000 and 110,000 by the election, and then getting at that 50,000 by August 2010," he said Monday.
Wow. 120,000 at the end of October. Good thing the New York Times hasn't been claiming the 120,000 figure before then, right? Oh, wait, they have. Repeatedly. Don't look for a correction from them and remember it's part of their efforts to repeatedly undercount: Undercount the dead, undercount the number of forces on the ground, undercount the violence.
And continuing the paper's policy of climbing up the ass of Nouri al-Maliki, Timothy Williams informs today, "The semiautonomous Kurdish region has reopened a rift with the central government after announcing that it had halted all petroleum exports from Kurdistan until Baghdad pays the international companies that are pumping oil in the region." That's cute. A rift? Reopened by the KRG?
Baghdad's not paying the monies they are supposed to pay to the KRG. Grasp that. Grasp that the KRG is saying no more oil through Baghdad until they're paid. It's amazing the way the paper 'reports.' You can be sure that no US business that said "no" to another company or government due to non-payment would be accused of causing a 'rift.' Nouri's the new Saddam indeed. Just as CNN kissed his ass to remain in Iraq back then (as Eason revealed in that embarrassing NYT column sometime back), NYT kisses Nouri ass to remain in his good graces. Don't mistake what appears for reporting. Williams even goes so far to vouch for Nouri: "At the same time, the [Baghdad] government needs all the revenue it can get to pay for a host of pressing needs." A host of pressing needs? Millions on weaponry? That's not pressing. They're not needed, get real. Who's going to attack Iraq?
The United States has done so twice. Who else?
Iran? While they're so tight with Nouri? While they're apparently providing Nouri with a plane to travel in?
They need all these costly weapons to protect them from whom?
They don't need these weapons and Nouri has not, in his nearly three year reign, provided Iraqis with potable water or any other basic services that a functioning society has a right to expect. Maybe part of the reason Nouri keeps attacking Syria is because he needs to create an external threat in order to justify the spending? A meeting of Iraq and its neighbors continues for the second day in Egypt. Mu Xuequan (Xinhua) reports the 'big' thing on Iraq's agenda was again insisting they had evidence. Meanwhile Todays Zaman notes Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan begins a visit to Iraq on Thursday.
From Iraq, actual reporting can be found in Sahar Issa's "Iraqis arrest former top aide in Saddam's regime" (McClatchy Newspapers):
Iraqi security forces seized a top aide to the most wanted man in Iraq, capturing him Sunday in a helicopter raid in Diyala province, an Iraqi security official who participated in the raid said Monday.
Ayad Jalal Abdulwahab has been working closely with Izzat al Douri, the vice president under the regime of the late dictator Saddam Hussein, the security official said. Douri is still at large and is viewed by U.S. officials as Saddam's successor in the resistance movement. The Iraqi force that captured Abdulwahab turned him over to U.S. forces, which brought him to Baghdad, where he's undergoing interrogation, Iraqi officials said.
In England, the inquiry into the Iraq War headed by John Chilcot has not begun officially; however, five of the officials are meeting with British families who lost loved ones in Iraq. BBC reports:
A retired Army officer whose son was killed in Iraq has said the government "misled" the country over the reasons for going to war.
Colin Mildinhall was speaking as he and other relatives of those killed in Iraq met officials conducting the inquiry into the war and its aftermath.
He said the UK had been "lied to" by government over the presence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.
At WSWS, Patrick Martin calls out the lunatic War Hawk Thomas Friedman in "Friedman glorifies American militarism:"
While his latest opus presents the role of the American military as purely democratic, even altruistic, in other circumstances Friedman has openly embraced the imperialistic aims of Washington. In January 2003, as the Bush administration was gearing up for its unprovoked, illegal invasion of Iraq, he wrote a column in the Times headlined "A War for Oil?" His answer to that question: an enthusiastic yes.
"There is nothing illegitimate or immoral about the US being concerned that an evil, megalomaniacal dictator might acquire excessive influence over the natural resource that powers the world’s industrial base," he wrote. As we noted at the time, this remarkable doctrine smacks of Hitler's demands for lebensraum for German imperialism, giving a license for the United States to intervene militarily in any country possessed of significant natural resources, regardless of national sovereignty or international law.
Friedman's screed reflects the line of the Times, which has relentlessly campaigned for the prosecution and expansion of the war in Afghanistan. It underscores the further march to the right of the American liberal establishment.
The New York Times speaks in particular for a social layer, a generation of the upper-middle-class that has enriched itself over the past three decades and dropped any previous association with perspectives of social reform, let alone opposition to American militarism. Ex-radical or ex-liberal, they recognize that it is impossible to present Vietnam as a great humanitarian effort, so they seek to pass over this seminal experience of their youth in guilty silence.
But Vietnam was no aberration. It was the template for the current wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The historical balance sheet is the direct opposite of the claims made by Friedman about a democratic and humanitarian role for the US military. Vietnam, Korea, Iraq, Latin America -- the victims mount into the millions. In the half century since Hitler and Stalin, no institution has killed more people in wars and other acts of barbarism than the government of the United States and its military-intelligence apparatus.
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