Retired Lt. Gen. William Odom writes in the LATimes: “The United States upset the regional balance in the Middle East when it invaded Iraq. Restoring it requires bold initiatives, but "cutting and running" must precede them all. Only a complete withdrawal of all U.S. troops — within six months and with no preconditions — can break the paralysis that now enfeebles our diplomacy. And the greatest obstacles to cutting and running are the psychological inhibitions of our leaders and the public. Our leaders do not act because their reputations are at stake. The public does not force them to act because it is blinded by the president's conjured set of illusions: that we are reducing terrorism by fighting in Iraq; creating democracy there; preventing the spread of nuclear weapons; making Israel more secure; not allowing our fallen soldiers to have died in vain; and others. But reality can no longer be avoided. It is beyond U.S. power to prevent bloody sectarian violence in Iraq, the growing influence of Iran throughout the region, the probable spread of Sunni-Shiite strife to neighboring Arab states, the eventual rise to power of the anti-American cleric Muqtada Sadr or some other anti-American leader in Baghdad, and the spread of instability beyond Iraq. All of these things and more became unavoidable the day that U.S. forces invaded.These realities get worse every day that our forces remain in Iraq. They can't be wished away by clever diplomacy or by leaving our forces in Iraq for several more years.” Read the rest…
Meanwhile in Iraq: "How can we expect ordinary Iraqis to trust the police when we don't even trust them not to kill our own men?" asked Capt. Alexander Shaw, head of the police transition team of the 372nd Military Police Battalion, a Washington-based unit charged with overseeing training of all Iraqi police in western Baghdad. "To be perfectly honest, I'm not sure we're ever going to have police here that are free of the militia influence."
And in Britain: “Tony Blair faces the risk of a humiliating Commons defeat today over his refusal to allow a wide-ranging inquiry into the crisis in Iraq. The Tories, Liberal Democrats and as many as 40 Labour rebels are threatening to support a nationalist demand for a parliamentary examination of the war and its aftermath,” the UK Independent reports.
Israel, Itching Again
From the Jerusalem Post: “Israeli warplanes staged mock raids Tuesday over Hizbullah strongholds in south Beirut in the heaviest show of air power over Lebanon since the August 14 cease-fire. The Israeli fighter jets dived down at least six times to zoom low over the southern suburbs before roaring up to the sky. […]The roar of the jets caused concern among residents, some of whom took to the rooftops and balconies to watch, but no bombs were dropped. Flights at Beirut's international airport, which lies south of the city, were not affected. It was not clear what prompted Israel to stage the mock raids, which lasted more than 30 minutes. The IDF said the flights were part of routine intelligence gathering activities, Army Radio reported.” What’s routine for Israel, of course, is lawless arrogant bullying in anyone else’s book.
Bush's Teapot Dome
Condoleezza Rice, the putative Secretary of State, once had a 129,000-ton Chevron oil supertanker named after her. The Condoleeezza Rice. Rice served ten years on the board of the company (1991-2001), in keeping with similar service on similar boards by similarly oily members of the Bush administration. In 2001, Chevron renamed the supertanker the Altair Vogager. Oil companies are required to pay royalties to the federal government on product extracted from places like the Gulf of Mexico. The federal government went after Chevron, claiming it had been underpaying to the tune of tens of millions of dollars. On Monday, the federal government dropped the fight. Chevron can keep extracting. No royalties necessary. And other oil companies too. “The decision also sets a precedent that could make it easier for oil and gas companies to lower the value of what they pump each year from federal property and thus their payments to the government,” the Times reports. “Interior officials said on Friday that they had no choice but to drop their order to Chevron because a department appeals board had ruled against auditors in a separate case. But state governments and private landowners have challenged the company over essentially the same practices and reached settlements in which the company has paid $70 million in additional royalties.”
“The economic wellbeing of Britain and the rest of the world depends on changing to a low-carbon global economy, the Government’s chief economist said in a report published yesterday,” the UK Times reports. “Sir Nicholas Stern described climate change as the “greatest and widest-ranging market failure ever seen”, but said that action could and should be taken to avert the worst effects. n The Economics of Climate Change, commissioned by the Treasury, Sir Nicholas said that the problem could be tackled without stunting economic growth. He concluded that spending 1 per cent of gross domestic product each year on tackling climate change would save 5 to 20 per cent of GDP by the end of the century, but that Britain could not act alone — it required internationally agreed measures.” In other words, time, The Guardian says, is running out. And in the United States? Scientists and the public wildly disagree over global warming.
What’s Eating Katherine Harris?
From the Post: “Katherine Harris, who is trying to become a U.S. senator, says she is writing a tell-all about the many people who have wronged her. This includes, but is not necessarily limited to: the Republican leaders who didn't want her to run, the press that has covered her troubled campaign, and the many staffers who have quit her employ, whom she accuses of colluding with her opponent. She is vague about what, precisely, makes her a victim, but she says she has it all documented."I've been writing it all year," she says in that kittenish voice. She often smiles and cocks her head as if she's letting you in on a secret. "It's going to be a great book." If it is, it may be one of very few things that go well for the two-term Republican congresswoman.” Read the rest…
More severe circulation declines for the American newspaper industry: “he Audit Bureau of Circulations FAS-FAX report for the six-month period ending September 2006 released this morning confirmed yet again that major metros are struggling to show growth. The losses are steep while the gains are meager. This is the fourth consecutive semi-annual report to register a severe drop in daily circulation and -- perhaps more troubling to the industry -- Sunday copies. While the estimated decline 2.8% for daily circulation for all reporting papers may seem negligible, consider that in years past that decrease averaged around 1%. Sunday, considered the industry's bread-and-butter, showed even steeper losses, with a decline of about 3.4%.”
And Finally: North Korea on one hand is returning to the talk table, but Kim Jong-Il interprets sunrise as an act of war.