S/SW blog philosophy -

I credit favorite writers and public opinion makers.

A lifelong Democrat, my comments on Congress, the judiciary and the presidency are regular features.

My observations and commentary are on people and events in politics that affect the USA or the rest of the world, and stand for the interests of peace, security and justice.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

About Wars: Our plate is very full.


As I write this post the estimated cost of the war in Iraq is $600,300,425,303. That is a fact. Look at the counter in the right hand column to see the current cost. Many questions remain even though more and more is being revealed about our foreign policy/war plans. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif) is questioning President Obama's Iraq plan, according to Politico's Glenn Thrush. Do their differences set up their first real policy dispute?

President Obama released his new budget outline this week. "The Pentagon may be the first in line for cuts to offset stimulus spending," Tom Sanker at the IHT speculates on 2/28/09. Shanker writes that there are new lessons for the U.S. Army on Iraq duty. His fascinating report is about creative, non kinetic, coordinated tactics that could help the U.S. forces immeasurably as the level of troops is drawn down.

Afghanistan is soon to be the new front. It has echoes of Iraq. "Afghan civilian deaths rose 40 percent in 2008," the United Nations reports. So says IHT on 2/18/09. And with the introduction of more U.S. troops the prospect on an even bigger increase is there. To quote:

Civilian deaths have become a political flash point in Afghanistan, eroding public support for the war and inflaming tensions with President Hamid Karzai, who has bitterly condemned the American-led coalition for the rising toll.

Iraq and Afghanistan comprise two wars. As if that fact were not a big enough challenge to the fledgling Obama national security team, throw in the Israeli/Palestinian situation. Guest writer Amjad Atallah writes at Steve Clemons' Washington Note that the special envoys to the Middle East are, "the best possible team at the worst possible time." He concludes,

. . . on the Israeli-Palestinian front, this A-Team is coming in at the worst possible time. Both the Israeli and Palestinian political systems are fractured. Some 65 seats in Israel's 120 Knesset now are held by parties either explicitly opposed to a two-state solution or who interpret it in such a racist way that it would be unconscionable for the US to support. On the other side of the Green Line, Israel's destruction of Gaza has made Hamas more popular than ever in the West Bank and broadened their appeal internationally. Eight years of Bush policy have strengthened the most recalcitrant elements on both sides of the border.

To secure our interests now, we not only need a diplomatic A-Team, but a drastic and creative new policy that works with the reality that we can't expect the Israelis and Palestinians to end this conflict on their own.

For whatever reason there is cause to feel confident. In the administration there are among the best people around dealing with this full plate. The President's national security team is very smart and experienced. And the President knows how to exercise leadership, given their experience level. He is organized and able to do a number of things at once. We will be fine, and though it will be a big long meal, much of which will be hard to swallow. War is just that way.

Reference 1: Today from CQ - Behind the Lines (2/26/09) newsletter. To quote:

Bugs ‘n bombs, here and there: . . An unidentified weapon packed with strange “cube shaped shrapnel” killed or wounded civilians in the recent Gaza war, Danger Room finds Amnesty International alleging — while The New York Times sees the Pentagon planning to sink billions of dollars in armored vehicles and other technology to protect troops from roadside bombs in Afghanistan. . . The first nuclear power plant built in Iran was tested successfully by Iranian and Russian officials Wednesday, the Post reports.

Over there: “This has not been a good week for al Qaeda and its top leadership, a Middle East Times editor leads.“American missile strikes have reduced al Qaeda’s global reach but heightened the threat to Pakistan as the group disperses its cells there and fights to maintain its sanctuaries,” The New York Times leads. As violence falls in Baghdad, al-Qaeda-in-Iraq is taking its fight to desert outposts and rural villages, The Christian Science Monitor updates.

Reference 2: Just so you do not forget too soon, from the political Right, courtesy of Skewz, comes an "Urgent Agenda" item. It is labeled, "2.20.09: The Iranian Bomb." It is a very snarky piece epitomized by this exerpt,

By the time they arrange "talks," the Iranians may just have the bomb. What does Mr. Obama do then? Propose more talks?

. . . Pathetically, unbelievably, UN officials were still defending their inspections, which is what UN officials do. Some of them tried to downplay the discrepancy between what Iran originally reported about enrichment and the latest data: . . .

Oh, now they tell us. Impressive. So impressive. We still are not taking this seriously enough. The story above appeared on page 12 of The New York Times. It apparently wasn't important enough for the first 11 pages. After all, we don't want to seem like those neocon alarmists, do we, darlings?

See also Behind the Links, for further info on this subject.

Carol Gee - Online Universe is the all-in-one home page for all my websites.

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