The Daily Journal
Candide’s Latest: November 30, 2006
Edited by Pierre Tristam/Candide's Notebooks
Operation Iraqi Free-Fall
Eject! Eject! Eject!
It isn’t really news. It’s a fulfillment of prophesy. The Iraq Study Group headed by James Baker and Lee Hamilton is about to recommend withdrawal from Iraq masked as a phased draw-down. The Times reports: “The bipartisan Iraq Study Group reached a consensus on Wednesday on a final report that will call for a gradual pullback of the 15 American combat brigades now in Iraq but stop short of setting a firm timetable for their withdrawal, according to people familiar with the panel’s deliberations.” In this context, a timetable is irrelevant anymore. The timetable is being set by the insurgency. Lack of an official timetable is the American way of saving face. But it won’t save “the mission,” as Bush, appropriating it as his own this week (“the one think I won’t do”) put it. But this is more worrisome:
The report leaves unstated whether the 15 combat brigades that are the bulk of American fighting forces in Iraq would be brought home, or simply pulled back to bases in Iraq or in neighboring countries. (A brigade typically consists of 3,000 to 5,000 troops.) From those bases, they would still be responsible for protecting a substantial number of American troops who would remain in Iraq, including 70,000 or more American trainers, logistics experts and members of a rapid reaction force.
The withdrawal, in other words, also stops short of ceding Iraq back to Iraqis and garrisons the United States permanently in Iraq and the region. That’s exactly what’s instigating the insurgency. It’s exactly what led Osama bin laden, seeing troops semi-[permanently garrisoned in Saudi Arabia in the 1990s, to plan the 2001 attacks. It reveals U.S. policy in the Middle East to be what it’s been suspected to be all along. A land grab, now no longer masked by the illusion of a well-meaning, Wilsonian spread of democracy. Arabs see it clearly enough. The Pentagon can withdraw its troops to garrisons all it wants. It’ll just end up cornering itself further into a Lebanon-like situation, where insurgents will start taking pot-shots and plan for massive, spectacular attacks until losses mount enough to cause a total withdrawal. Americans never learn.
Bush meanwhile want as far as saying this about Maliki, the Iraqi prime minister, when they finally met on Thursday: “He's the right guy for Iraq.” This from the man who said Harriet Miers was the right guy for the Supreme Court.
What Special Relationship?
Tony Blair, Bush’s Bitch
From the UK Times: “In a devastating verdict on Tony Blair’s decision to back war in Iraq and his “totally one-sided” relationship with President Bush, a US State Department official has said that Britain’s role as a bridge between America and Europe is now “disappearing before our eyes”. Kendall Myers, a senior State Department analyst, disclosed that for all Britain’s attempts to influence US policy in recent years, “we typically ignore them and take no notice — it’s a sad business”. He added that he felt “a little ashamed” at Mr Bush’s treatment of the Prime Minister, who had invested so much of his political capital in standing shoulder to shoulder with America after 9/11. Speaking at an academic forum in Washington on Tuesday night, he answered a question from The Times, saying: “It was a done deal from the beginning, it was a onesided relationship that was entered into with open eyes . . . there was nothing. There was no payback, no sense of reciprocity.”
The Cedars’ Uprooting
Hezbollah’s Mass Demonstration Today
From al-Jazeera: “Hezbollah-led opposition groups have called for mass protests to begin on Friday in central Beirut with the aim of bringing down the current government. The call for peaceful street action came on Thursday in a statement broadcast on Hezbollah's television station Al-Manar. It said the street action would begin on Friday at 3pm (1300GMT) in central Beirut, where the government of Fouad Siniora, the Lebanese prime minister, has its headquarters.” This from Haaretz: “The statement did not say where the protesters should assemble, but it said they should carry only the Lebanese flag and avoid party banners and posters. Although the statement said the protest would be peaceful, any attempt by demonstrators to take over government buildings could lead to violence. Previously groups that support Siniora's government have vowed to call counter demonstrations. Lebanese Army Commander Michel Suleiman was quoted Thursday as having told his troops to be fully prepared to fulfil their role of "protecting freedom of expression and preventing riots and attacks on public and private property."”
Let the Swifboating Resume
George Will vs. Jim Webb
George Will must be suffering from baseball withdrawal. He did not like the fact that Jim Webb, at a reception, snubbed questions by President Bush about his son: “Wednesday's Post reported that at a White House reception for newly elected members of Congress, Webb "tried to avoid President Bush," refusing to pass through the reception line or have his picture taken with the president. When Bush asked Webb, whose son is a Marine in Iraq, "How's your boy?" Webb replied, "I'd like to get them [sic] out of Iraq." When the president again asked "How's your boy?" Webb replied, "That's between me and my boy." Webb told The Post: "I'm not particularly interested in having a picture of me and George W. Bush on my wall. No offense to the institution of the presidency, and I'm certainly looking forward to working with him and his administration. [But] leaders do some symbolic things to try to convey who they are and what the message is."Webb certainly has conveyed what he is: a boor. Never mind the patent disrespect for the presidency. Webb's more gross offense was calculated rudeness toward another human being -- one who, disregarding many hard things Webb had said about him during the campaign, asked a civil and caring question, as one parent to another.” That last is especially disingenuous. A caring question from one parent to another? Is Will really suggesting that a serviceman in Iraq can be compared to a drunk Jenna in Texas? Will goes on to be offended by a Jim Webb column in the Wall Street Journal about wealth inequalities, badgering him for using “slapdash” prose before concluding with, of all things, one of those pedantic clichés that announce Will’s hypocrisy: “Based on Webb’s behavior before being sworn in, one shudders to think what he will be like after that.” The full Will…
La France Puérile
Art vs. “Child Porn”
From the UK Times: “Sir Nicholas Serota heads a list of eminent museum directors, curators and historians who have signed a petition against the prosecution of Henry-Claude Cousseau, a French colleague who has been accused of exhibiting child pornography as art. The director of the Tate as well as more than 100 international figures have come out in support of the director of the prestigious École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts in Paris , The Times has learnt. Mr Cousseau, 60, is accused of displaying works of “a violent pornographic nature, unacceptable for a young public”.