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Know when to hold 'em, and...

[Bulletin: Mysterious unpleasant odor swamps Manhattan. Best bet: It's just New Jersey.]

FUBAR dept.: This week the president will tell us why he's going to surge, which is to say, escalate in Iraq, rather than draw down, redeploy, get the heck of Dodge. The Senate won't like it (Republican Chuck Hagel calls it "Alice in Wonderland" and "folly") but Biden says the Constitution doesn't let Congress call the shots and the president can pretty much do what he wants (mental note: His recent proposal to balance the budget by 2012 raises the serious possibility that he will not step down in 2009 and will instead name himself president-for-life).

The generals don't want a "surge." Bush says he listens to the generals, and this time he listened and said, "You're fired." Meanwhile, Scowcroft called Bush's vision of a democratic Middle East "revolutionary utopianism." Lindsey Graham says we need more troops to implement the Powell Doctrine -- he dropped that term on Meet the Press -- but the gentleman from South Carolina doesn't mention that the cornerstone of the Powell Doctrine is that you always know where to find the exit. There's nothing Powell Doctrine-like about doubling down in Iraq. Powell said so himself. (Loved the Rick Atkinson story on future U.S. president David Petraeus, who, barrelling toward Baghdad, says ominously, "Tell me how this ends.")

Biden, on Meet the Press (the transcript is definitely worth the read):

'Think of this, we're going to surge 20-, 30-, whatever the president says, thousand troops into Baghdad again, a city of six million people, six million people where civil war is raging. We're going to have our troops go door to door in 23 neighborhoods. We're going to keep them out of Sadr City where, in fact, we are not--we're told hands off because Maliki is dependent upon Sadr, the Mahdi army. This is a prescription for another tragedy. If we want to make sure we don't lose Iraq, don't use the last bullet in our gun here, prove ourselves to be impotent, and embolden every sector of the Iraqi population to conclude we are incapable of affecting outcomes there.'

There's much talk about how we can't "lose" in Iraq. Graham said, "If Iraq fails and you have open civil war and it creates a regional conflict that would follow us for decades, that's something every American should hope never happens ..." But just because you don't want to lose doesn't mean you keep drawing cards into a weak hand.

The situation is tragic. If Petraeus can bring some sanity to the picture, more power to him. We're due for good news. But Americans are dying in batches to bolster a sectarian government that seems intractably allied with anti-American Shiite militias. Who are our friends over there?? Saddam's lynch mob?

Biden made that point yesterday:

' me the moderate Iraqis. Name me the moderate Iraqis who are out there...prepared to make the kind of compromises democracy requires. We came back after the election when we were over there in--when, when, when, when they voted, the Iraqis. And the president said, "Great democratic move." And I sat in the White House, and I said, "Mr. President, it was a sectarian election. There was no democratic movement there." You've got to compromise. We keep looking for Thomas Jefferson hiding behind Iraq somewhere.'

Biden also announced that he's going to start a presidential exploratory committee. This coincides with his decision, as chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, to begin hearings on the war. Thus the hearings will inevitably be seen in some quarters as an attempt to get free media coverage for his presidential campaign.

By Joel Achenbach  |  January 8, 2007; 9:10 AM ET
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Next: Entering Gator Country


The "Meet the Press" interview was Biden at his best. Over on the Chris Mathew's Show one of the journalists commented that Senator Biden would do well if he didn't bloviate. From her mouth to Senator Biden's ear.

Posted by: Boko999 | January 8, 2007 11:35 AM | Report abuse

SCC- Senator Biden will do well in the primaries.

Posted by: Boko999 | January 8, 2007 11:39 AM | Report abuse

Would it be wrong for me to point out that Biden "borrowed" the idea to start a presidential exploratory committee for the '08 elections?

I thought so.

I suppose I understand that the Administration feels the need to shake things up in Baghdad with a show of force because what they've done so far hasn't worked, but again, these guys have earned our distrust.

Wouldn't it be a *real* shakeup if they pressed for political and social solutions rather than military ones?

Haven't we already sent soldiers door to door in troubled areas of Baghdad? Like, isn't the definition of stupidity continuing to do the same thing over and over when it's obviously not working? Sheesh.

"Cavalier" is a strong word, but there it is.

Hm. "You never count your money
when you're sittin' at the table,
there'll be time enough for countin'
when the dealing's done."

Oh, there will indeed be an accounting, I think. There always is.


Posted by: bc | January 8, 2007 11:39 AM | Report abuse

Whether there is an accounting or not is a moot point. The damage is done. Holding someone accountable in this day and age only serves our human need for vengeance and a quick sound bite with a picture on the news of some bigwig in cuffs headed off to a publicly-funded country club. But that is for the more normal of the fat cats. Bush himself is so sheltered by his money, power, and famous namous that he will never come to justice for the thousands he has led to doom. Just my two pennies...

Posted by: Gomer | January 8, 2007 12:11 PM | Report abuse

On Sunday, I favored watching Biden on Little Russ's program over listening to Scowcroft on Little George's show. And I concur wholeheartedly with Joel that the transcript, if you didn't see Sunday's "Meet the Press," is definitely worth the read.

I'm interested in Ryan Crocker, as mentioned in Froomkin's lede late last week (about the multiple turnovers in top administration jobs--fascinating analysis, by the way, again worthy of going back for a read if you didn't catch it the first time), and whose change in ambassadorships--from Pakistan to Baghdad, was covered by the NYT, a story reported by Scott Shane, also in the same timeframe:

That said, I've been doing a lot of reading of Gore Vidal's past essays, including the ones about previous presidents Nixon and Reagan--and will read his essay on Lincoln shortly, but Vidal loves the European press, which he calls [the place] "where bluebirds sing." The probability that Crocker would replace Khalilzad, who's getting bumped to the U.N., is not fresh news in Europe, where the likely dosey-do was reported (in the last graf or so) by London's Independent on Nov. 7, a full two months ago:

I'm interested in Crocker because he's a Spokane-born kid. I wondered if he's part of the railroad Crockers, but have found nothing to support this notion. If he was born in '49, (graduated with an Enlish degree from WallaWalla), and his dad was Air Force, then I suspect Pop was at Fairchild AFB. Yeah, we know Spokane. My great-aunt Lillian, after whom my mother (she born in Spokane) was named, was married for a time to the son of William Clay Merriam (long Army resume including Antietam), who pretty much founded Fort Spokane.

But as Shane's NYT reporting points out:
"Robin L. Raphel, a senior diplomat who worked with Mr. Crocker in Baghdad in 2003, said he was responsible for helping to put together the Iraqi Governing Council, the provisional government that oversaw the country for a year after the fall of Saddam Hussein."

So, we're sending a diplomat back into the diplomatic fray in the Green Zone somneone who was originally part of Bremer's problematic handling of Iraq immediately after the invasion. (I looked for any references to Crocker in Rajiv Chandrasekaran's book, but found none. Wish Rajiv would weigh in with what he observed of Crocker.)

Crocker put limited pressure on Pervez, according to the NYT, and according to Froomkin's theorizing, Unocal's Khalilzad is out because he was too lenient on the Sunnis. Diplomatic musical chairs, but the escalation in troops to Iraq is hardly about diplomacy, is it?

Posted by: Loomis | January 8, 2007 12:15 PM | Report abuse

Anybody who thinks the Iraq situation will be "fixed" in a year is clearly delusional. Diehl this morning is talking about 6 to 12 years and I think he is in the right bracket. The old metastable equilibrium (strongman of a sunni clan lording over every other sunni clans, shiite, kurds, etc) was broken by the US invasion and a new equilibrium must be established. I think the presence of US troops is slowing down the establishment of a new equilibrium. The world let ex-Youguslavia be parted in smaller countries, why would it be impossible to, eventually, do the same with Iraq. Turkey will have its knockers tied in a knot by the presence of a Kurdish state, sorry a Turkish-of-the-moutain state, but so what.

Posted by: Shrieking Denizen | January 8, 2007 12:19 PM | Report abuse

SonofCarl asks:
Loomis, did you see the bit in the NYT a while back about the reporter that looked for Gertrude Bell's gravesite in Baghdad?

I printed at the time this NYT story to which you refer, Sonofcarl, for myself because I was unaware of the circumstances of who drew the boundaries of Iraq. Bought the book about her about a week ago at the half-priced bookstore that I frequent because of the NYT feature story and also because the book was inexpensive. Then, lo and behold, Gertrude Bell's name pops up in an op-ed by Maureen Dowd about two days later.

I admit to being fascinated about how we got to where we are.

Posted by: Loomis | January 8, 2007 12:24 PM | Report abuse

I think Shrieking D. is right. When you make Jell-o, you do not place the molecules where you want them to be. You stir it up and let nature take its course. The Jell-o makes itself gel...

Posted by: Gomer | January 8, 2007 12:26 PM | Report abuse

Gomer, I think Iraq's food analogy, like Yugo's, might be those large rotating meat things found in donair shops. Kind of a unholy mess that looks somewhat disgusting and makes you say "how did they make this thing?". But when a piece is shaved off and made into a donair it's actually quite good (a little spicy for my taste sometimes, but that also fits with the analogy).

Posted by: SonofCarl | January 8, 2007 12:41 PM | Report abuse

Not familiar with a "donair"... anything like a gyro? That is a rotating meat cone I have met in my travels. I like the analogy, though. Even so, I am not sure anyone likes the taste of this thing we're stuck in. I just keep thinking, how egocentric of us to think that we could just go in and create a working democracy without bloodshed or protest. How many died in creating our democracy? And we actually wanted the freedom, independance, etc. We even went so far as to declare ourselves independant. Anybody see such a declaration of intent from Iraq, either before or after we accomplished our mission?

Posted by: Gomer | January 8, 2007 1:05 PM | Report abuse

"Haven't we already sent soldiers door to door in troubled areas of Baghdad?"-- bc

No, no this time it's totally different. See, this time the soldiers will be door-to-door asking the Iraqis to donate money to the Salvation Army.

Posted by: Wilbrod | January 8, 2007 1:12 PM | Report abuse

Playtime can help kids learn:

Next: a toy drive for Cassandra's reading program ;).

Posted by: Wilbrod | January 8, 2007 1:17 PM | Report abuse

A donair is the Halifax version of the Turkish inspired sandwich Döner-kebab developed in Germany.
Very tasty late night treat I might add. It is very much like like a Gyros indeed. shawarma. In Ottawa the same pita bread sandwich is generally called shawarma.

Posted by: Shrieking Denizen | January 8, 2007 1:33 PM | Report abuse

A Donair is the Halifax NS version of a döner-kebab, popular pita bread sandwich developed by the Turks of Germany. The pieces of meat (beef, chicken, lamb etc, sometimes augnmented by ground meat, are stacked on a big skewer to form a cylindrical object that is then roasted on a vertical spit. The Donair version is made entirely from ground meat, hence the mystery meat comment by SoC. The meat is sliced thin from the cylinder and lettuce-tomatoes-onion-cabbage-tabouleh-red marinated turnip-garlic and/or sesame sauce etc may be added to the meat.
The same things are called shawarma in Ottawa and are very similar to the Gyros indeed. The Gyros is made with greek style pita while shawarmas are made with thin lebanese pita bread.

Posted by: Shrieking Denizen | January 8, 2007 1:42 PM | Report abuse

Maybe the Manhattan aroma is the bulls:

Posted by: mostlylurking | January 8, 2007 1:44 PM | Report abuse

Sorry for the double post. The Comment Reviewing Monster was positive; it was witholding my comment. It lied.

Posted by: Shrieking Denizen | January 8, 2007 1:46 PM | Report abuse

sheesh! how come no one told me where were over here now! repost from last boodle:

"Achenblog is a great way to maintain sanity." AMEN slyness! lindaloo - it's called multi-tasking... my job is to be glued to a computer at all times and i have multiple monitors to do such. not cool of you to make that statement, believe me, i work for my money.

cassandra - i've said multiple times that i am very very unpointy! do you think i understand even HALF of what these pointy people say? trust me, i learn more here on the achenblog that i prolly did in school! don't you dare go anywhere sweets! and as for you being "just a county girl", i'm just a city girl and i like to know what goes on outside of the city so your point of view is indeed needed! (remember i'm the one who had to ask if you COULD actually tip a cow!)

Posted by: mo | January 8, 2007 1:48 PM | Report abuse

Well, if mo is gonna repost, so am I:

I believe 15% is acceptable mo.

Posted by: omni | January 8, 2007 2:06 PM | Report abuse

mo, While cow tipping isn't obligatory it is the only perk these poor beasts recieve.

Posted by: Boko999 | January 8, 2007 2:10 PM | Report abuse

Austin, Texas is having its own environmental problems this morning:

Police shut down 10 blocks of businesses in the heart of downtown early Monday after dozens of birds were found dead in the streets, but officials said preliminary tests showed no dangerous chemicals in the air.

As many as 60 dead pigeons, sparrows and grackles (no tears here) were found overnight along Congress Avenue, a main route through downtown. No human injuries or illnesses were reported.

The birds "prolly" flipped out when they heard about the yellow banana that a Canadian artist wants to launch and float in the skies high over Texas:

Posted by: Loomis | January 8, 2007 2:18 PM | Report abuse

I know Biden tends to bloviate, but he's still my first choice for president (followed by Edwards). And if he doesn't make it, I'd bet serious money he'll be the next Secretary of State under whoever's [Democratic] administration.

I feel quite guilty about this next part, and don't like it, but here it is: the worse and worse Bush does in Iraq (and he's just going off the deep end), the better it is in 2008. We're almost at the point now where the Dems could run William Jennings Bryan or Moe, Shemp and Curley and win a 2008 landslide. There's just no freakin' way Bush can keep this up for the next 18 months or so, and the GOP, whoever their candidate is, not go completely into the dumper. So what I feel so lousy about is thinking the worse Bush does for the U.S., the better it is for the Dems. But it's true.

And the other thing I think that's going to happen is that for the next 16-18 months, there are going to be hearing after hearing after hearing in the House and the Senate, every one of which will drive another nail into this admin's coffin (and hence, into the GOP chances for 2008. There's no way ANY GOP candidate survives what's going to happen next.)

The other thing is,--and this is not going to sound good, but maybe you'll understand what I mean: In Iraq, if this is a war we're supposed to be fighting, we just aren't killing enough people. We're loosing 3, 4, 5 of our guys a day (mostly to IEDs, formerly known in the old days as booby-traps), and I seldom see any casualty figures for the other side. There's so many bad guys over there, how can we not be killing them in droves? So just what the hell are we doing? I understand perfectly well about 4th generation warfare, house-to-house fighting, yadda yadda--and I'm just not seeing any progress, even the "bad" kind, never mind that pollyanna crap about how many schools have re-opened, or how many hours a day they have electricity in Baghdad, or whatever. I wanna hear about air interdiction of convoys coming in from Iran (if, indeed, as claimed, they are supplying munitions). I wanna hear about sweeps. I wanna hear about ground taken, Hill 542 secured, etc. In short, if we're supposed to be fighting somebody, I wanna hear about some fighting, not just our poor guys getting bumped off in onesies and twosies by hand grenades detonated with cellphones.

And for the life of me, I simply do NOT understand the present discussion about the use of the word "surge." Back in my day (post-Babylonian, post-Trojan War, what can I say), they were called "reinforcements." I understand why the WH is using the euphemism. But why isn't the other side using the traditional and correct military term of "reinforcements." It's like none of the commentators and pundits ever heard of the word.

Bush wants to send in reinforcements. Whether you agree or disagree, that's what they are. Jeez, we is this so hard for everybody? We've been calling them reinforcements for about 2,000 years, more or less. (Of course, it's a lousy idea, but linguistically speaking, that's neither here nor there.)

Posted by: Curmudgeon | January 8, 2007 2:22 PM | Report abuse

Re. Smelly Manhattan:

"We are waiting for the gas to pass," the mayor said.

Sounds like someone should have asked for their Manhattan donair without cucumbers or cabbage.

Please note that I wrote this nebulous comment without mentioning TBGs recent trip to the scene of the crime. I mean Manhattan.


Posted by: bc | January 8, 2007 2:27 PM | Report abuse

I ain't saying nuthin'.

Posted by: TBG | January 8, 2007 2:32 PM | Report abuse

How would anybody know that Manhatten is smelly today... Isn't it always?

Never been there, I just hate the smell of cities. They reek of urine, auto exhaust, and donairs...

Posted by: Gomer | January 8, 2007 2:34 PM | Report abuse

In other woids, I guess you'd call me silent but deadly.

Posted by: TBG | January 8, 2007 2:36 PM | Report abuse

The tragedy of Joe Biden is that he doesn't know where to put his efforts. He has as much chance being president as Laura Bush, and she ain't no hillary. instead of wasting his time and money running for President to satisfy his outsized ego, Biden should concentrate on chairing Foreign Relations, where he really can get something accomplished for the United States--namely, lead the effort to force Bush to withdraw ASAP. He might save a few lives of kids who otherwise would be sent over there. But as a candidate, Biden's arguments will be seen as strictly political.

Posted by: former biden aide | January 8, 2007 2:36 PM | Report abuse

Of course, I live outside of Austin, and apparently this town smells like dead birds today...

Posted by: Gomer | January 8, 2007 2:37 PM | Report abuse

The tragedy of Joe Biden is that he doesn't know where to put his efforts. He has as much chance being president as Laura Bush, and she ain't no hillary. instead of wasting his time and money running for President to satisfy his outsized ego, Biden should concentrate on chairing Foreign Relations, where he really can get something accomplished for the United States--namely, lead the effort to force Bush to withdraw ASAP. He might even save a few lives of kids who otherwise would be sent over there. But as a candidate, Biden's arguments will be seen as strictly political.

Posted by: former biden aide | January 8, 2007 2:37 PM | Report abuse

I'm a big Biden fan. Just wanted to make that clear.
Unfortunately it appears that anyone who speaks in anything but talking points is unworthy to lead.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 8, 2007 3:00 PM | Report abuse

Oops,s sorry the 3:00pm is mine

Posted by: Boko999 | January 8, 2007 3:01 PM | Report abuse

Mudge - You are the expert in this area. But isn't this "surge" talk kinda like the mindset of WWI? If something isn't working I guess that just means we need to do more of it?

Posted by: RD Padouk | January 8, 2007 3:05 PM | Report abuse

And if anybody knows how to detect IEDs, please let me know and I will see to it that you are rewarded beyond all dreams of avarice.

Posted by: RD Padouk | January 8, 2007 3:07 PM | Report abuse

Multi-topical commentary:

"Excuse me, is that a Geostationary Banana Over Texas, or are you just happy to see me?"

Could a person who strongly supports Joe for President be said to have drunk the Bidenade?

Stomach is now crying for a shawarma the way my cats cry for grilled salmon.

Will Tippi Hedren move to Austin?

Posted by: byoolin | January 8, 2007 3:10 PM | Report abuse

When I see a messed-up intersection or traffic pattern, I remark to my wife that even though I am no expert in the matter, have no engineering degree, and do not design roads for a living, even I can see that it is a stupid idea to make the road that way. I complain that there are people who have these degrees and abilities, people who get paid a lot more than I do to smooth these things out, and they are being trumped in their vocations by me, an ignoramus on these matters.

I felt the same way when we went to war in Iraq. Even I, a self-proclaimed idiot in these matters, could see that we were making a very bad move. The simple thought was, 'How would we Americans react if someone invaded our country?' Anybody see the movie Red Dawn? If some 80s flick (as well as me, the idiot) could easily predict an insurgency, why couldn't our fearless leaders?

We pay these people to do the dirty work for us, and we expect them to do it right. Stupid us... we haven't had an exit strategy for any of the major conflicts we have started since WWII, except to leave a little too late and abandon the natives as they hold or bag of excrement.

I have no degree in warmongering, but it seemed like a bad idea to me from the get-go.

Posted by: Gomer | January 8, 2007 3:11 PM | Report abuse

I think you mean 'bombs' when you say 'IEDs.' Who's counting the Iraqi casualties instead of just the American? Most of those casualties, even American, are not deaths. The horrific injuries are in some ways worse, and there are exponentially more of them. I am appalled the 'cost of the war' discussions in North America mean the cost in American lives. Um, unjustified invasion, 100s of 1000s of Iraqis maimed and killed, people.

Posted by: Yoki | January 8, 2007 3:14 PM | Report abuse

Here's the Post story on Iraqi casualties:

Mudge, I fear I am not ready to view events in Iraq through the lens of '08 politics. You talk about the worse Bush does, the better for the Democrats, etc., but these are human lives we're talking about. I know you know that too. Call me naive but I don't think regime change in Washington is going to make the problems in the Middle East magically disappear.

By the way...I just have to say it...GO GATORS!!!!!!

Posted by: Achenbach | January 8, 2007 3:17 PM | Report abuse

Newsweek this week picks up on earlier observations (Vali Nasr's "The Shia Revival"??) that some attacks on US troops in Iraq are primarily photo ops--the idea is to obtain video of the attack, preferably from several directions, and package for inspirational purposes. The videos circulate, and are far more persuasive to the general public than anything US spokespeople can say.

Posted by: Dave of the Coonties | January 8, 2007 3:22 PM | Report abuse

Notes from conversation with Achenbro in Colorado about the Big Game:

Chris Leak needs to play a mistake free game. Get the ball to Percy Harvin. Defense needs to at least slow down the OSU offense as much as possible.
Beans already made.
"Gonna need to make another beer run. Yesterday's games wiped out what I had on hand."

Posted by: Achenbach | January 8, 2007 3:22 PM | Report abuse

I gotta agree with Joel on this one... the Middle East's problems are thousands of years old and codified in three different religious texts. We can't do in two years or in twenty years anything to fix it simply. The locals' issues are religious and social, while our issues concern a nearsighted concentration on the black stuff brewing beneath their feet.

I disagree with the gator thing, though. Gig'em Aggies! Are we still playing? Oh, damn...

Posted by: Gomer | January 8, 2007 3:25 PM | Report abuse

As a long-time hater of one of the most ill-conceived, unfair, innane programs in college athletics (the Bowl Championship Series), I would like very much to see Boise State as the only undefeated D1 team in the country.

Therefore, I find myself doing what I always swore I would never, ever, in a million years, do...

Rooting for the Gators.

Posted by: Dooley | January 8, 2007 3:33 PM | Report abuse

I can't believe this old picture of my two favorite guys, Cheney and Rumsfeld. It's unbelievable - they haven't changed at all!

Posted by: Wheezy | January 8, 2007 3:34 PM | Report abuse


A little less hair, but just as evil...

Posted by: Gomer | January 8, 2007 3:37 PM | Report abuse

There is something so wrong about Gene not having a chat operational while Manhattan is smelly.

Posted by: dr | January 8, 2007 3:37 PM | Report abuse

Wheezy, that's hilarious. Where in the heck did you find it?

Cheney and Rumsfield as young men. Who knew?

Posted by: Slyness | January 8, 2007 3:39 PM | Report abuse

Yes, Padouk, it is absolutely classic WWI thinking, in the manner of British General Douglas Haig, who led most of that war. If ever there was an unthinking, inflexible "stay the course" kind of guy, it was Haig. And his answer to everything was "throw in more reinforcements." The worst kind of commander, and a man responsible for untold pointless slaughter, most notably at Passendaele and the 6-months-long ("we have to stay the course, doncha know) Battle of the Somme, which cost 300,000 allied lives and which accomplished...nothing. (His nickname was "the Butcher of the Somme." Fans of Blackadder Goes Forth see him reflected in Stephen Fry's role as General Sir Anthony Cecil Hogmanay Melchett, based on Haig.)

The thing about "stay the course" is that it tends to sound good, like one is tough, steely, and has resolve, courage of convictions, yadda yadda. But it also disguises lack of thinking, and inability to adapt and make changes when necessary. The great WWI historian Sir Basil Liddell Hart (with whom I used to pop a sherry during quieter moments on the front, and who served as an officer during most of the big battles; "the Baz," the "Bazmeister," and once or twice, "the Bazinator," as we liked to call him, was quite a guy) accused Haig of "ignoring reality" during his war planning. Sound like anybody else we know?

There is kind of a solution to the problem of IEDs, Padouk: give the troops some damn armor to ride around in. Won't work all the time, of course, but had the geniuses under Rumsfeld bothered to send enough armor, we could have prevented hundreds of deaths. Too late now, though.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | January 8, 2007 3:43 PM | Report abuse

Slyness, Wonkette has that picture up today. Would have just posted the link to Wonkette, but it's pretty far down on the page, so I just posted the link to the picture itself.

Posted by: Wheezy | January 8, 2007 3:48 PM | Report abuse

"As you know, you go to war with the Army you have. They're not the Army you might want or wish to have at a later time."

-- Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld


Posted by: Gomer | January 8, 2007 3:52 PM | Report abuse

I trust that Achenbro isn't depending on airlifts of beer and pretzels.

The other state universities in Florida (umm, I'd guess at least FIU, FAU, USF, and the enormous UCF) are probably eyeing Alabama's financial arrangements to obtain a new football coach, and are probably figuring out where the money will come from. Meanwhile, UF seems to have a little think tank on campus dedicated to figuring out how to bring the university up into the academic super-elite. Gotta beat Michigan.

It would be nice to think that the hot weather has accelerated the Gator mating season, and the Bull Gators are busy roaring out in the swamps (and the university's swimming area at a local lake). But I don't think so.

Posted by: Dave of the Coonties | January 8, 2007 3:53 PM | Report abuse

Mudge, I can't help but think about Iraq whenever I read about WWI.

What you suggest is the so-called "South African" solution for IEDs, and it is a great idea. However, as you seem to fully realize, it is also a solution for the next war.

But I am being asked to figger how to find those IEDs now. Preferably by COB.

Posted by: RD Padouk | January 8, 2007 3:53 PM | Report abuse


It really pains this ex-tank crewman to say it, but you can always defeat armor with a bigger bang. And the opponents over there have plenty of bigger bang available, since the plan to occupy... Oh, waitaminit.


Posted by: Scottynuke | January 8, 2007 3:57 PM | Report abuse

JA, I agree with your 3:18--that's why I said I feel bad about it. I don't WANT to think about the war in political terms; quite the opposite. It's far from my fondest wish to have the U.S. be internationally reviled, have our president be a laughingstock, and his approval rating in single digits. But that's where he's going.

Somebody in the punditocracy suggested the other day that "solving the Israeli-Palestinianian problem" would go a long way toward quieting the Middle East. Jeez, what PLANET is that person from? As though solving the Middle East "problem" could be accomplished (let alone by the incumbent gang of morons, never mind truly skilled, competent people).

Yes, I realize there are lives involved, which is why I feel so bad about the political calculus. But the calculus exists independent of me; it's there, whether I like it or not.
In part I was reacting to the Jackson Diehl thing which said it would more likely take 6 to 12 years, not 6 to 12 months, to "win" in Iraq. That may be true--but we don't HAVE 6 to 12 years. There is a "date certain": Bush has about 12 to 14 months to either demonstrably "win" or else demonstrably begin a withdrawal, and he has about 5 or 6 months after that to accomplish it. All I'm saying is, IMHO the war has less than 2 more years to run (worst case but most likely case). I don't think any president of either party could possibly extend it to any hypothetical "6 to 12 years," whether that number is "right" or not.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | January 8, 2007 4:00 PM | Report abuse

gas in manhattan and parrots in brooklyn...

Posted by: mo | January 8, 2007 4:00 PM | Report abuse

IIRC that picture came up in the photos from President Ford's funeral. Nixon or Kissinger was just to the left of them in the original.

Posted by: dr | January 8, 2007 4:01 PM | Report abuse

The mention of Stephen Fry made me wish GW had a Jeeves. Surely, Bush (not Shirley Booth) is as dense as Bertie Wooster, just not as good hearted.

Posted by: Boko999 | January 8, 2007 4:03 PM | Report abuse


How about blanket broad-spectrum EM emissions to try to set off electronic detonators? Maybe from an aircraft (I'm thinking of techniques for detonating magnetic mines).

Or, hey, a big nuclear airburst could make a an EMP that could wipe out all the electronics in Iraq--no more cellphone detonators. Guess there would be political "fallout", though...

Posted by: Dooley | January 8, 2007 4:03 PM | Report abuse

And now for something completely different--

*boodling from home as always*

Posted by: Maggie O'D | January 8, 2007 4:04 PM | Report abuse

The nasty thing about the IED's is that they are extremely low-risk for the bag guys. Bury one in the road, run the detonator wires a couple hundred yards away, wait for the convoy and push the button. You can broadcast the explosion from remote cameras that may not be anywhere near the guy with the button. Yeah, we've found and dispatched some of the bad guys, notably with the Fallujah sweep a while back, but like with any gurellia war they can fade back into the population and re-emerge when we go home.

Ultimately, this thing has to be settled politically by the Iraqis. It is always difficult in Islamic countries because politics and religion are essentailly treated as two sides of the same coin.

Posted by: ebtnut | January 8, 2007 4:08 PM | Report abuse

I strongly agree that solving the Isreali-Palestinian conflict would go a long way to quieting the Mid East. It would deprive hostile elements in Iran and elsewhere of a huge propaganda tool.
That won't happen until Bush is gone. He is too beholden to the Chritian/Zionists to ever come to a compromise, or put a leash on Isreal. Witness the events this summer in Lebenon.

Posted by: Boko999 | January 8, 2007 4:13 PM | Report abuse

Oooh, how about this one (as long as I'm in Destructo-mode)

Vaporize the entire area in question. Then run the resultant airborne debris through a gas chromatograph--that should tell you if there were any explosives present in the area before you destroyed it.

Maybe with ideas like this I can be a neocon too.

Posted by: Dooley | January 8, 2007 4:15 PM | Report abuse

I don't know about detecting IEDs, but I've often wondered about rolling remotely controlled convoy vehicles through known/suspected rough stretches for non-personnel transport. Rig them with automatons to make it look like there are soliders on board.

Include some mechanisms for disabling folks who try to board it (e.g. gas, electric shock, flash/bang stun anti-personnel devices), and a self-destruction mechanism for taking out some baddies if that's the right thing to do. GM can always make some more Humvees.

If someone's already doing this, that's great.

I don't know a friggin' thing about being in that kind of a situation, but I do know that if you want to get on the psychological offensive, you've got to start doing what the Other Guy Does Not Expect. Keep 'em guessing, make them worry.

BTW, think we telegraphed that punch (troop surge/reenforcement) a little bit (should it ever happen)? Think that the Bad Guys have already planned what to do about it?


Posted by: bc | January 8, 2007 4:27 PM | Report abuse


The only problem with vaporizing the area in question (aside form the mass casualties and bad publicity) is the effect it would have on our ability to get at our petroleum. World's second-largest reserves, and all that jazz. Can't put it in our tanks if it's irradiated.

Did I just say "our" oil? Freudian slip, I suppose...

Posted by: Gomer | January 8, 2007 4:29 PM | Report abuse

Flash/bang stun anti-personnel devices? Does that involve some really vile man opening his trench coat?

Posted by: LostInThought | January 8, 2007 4:34 PM | Report abuse

I think Joel gives Arbusto too much credit. He won't name himself president-for-life in 2009; the whole point of his plan to balance the budget by 2012 is to be the heck out of Dodge & forgotten by the deadline. Hey, it won't be HIS fault it didn't work.

RD, no insult taken from the previous Boodle!

Posted by: Ivansmom | January 8, 2007 4:34 PM | Report abuse

You have my sympathies, Padouk. I wouldn't want your job for anything. (If these things are triggered by cellphones, isn't it possible to rig up some kind of black box that transmits ALL cellphone frequencies for a short distance (50 yards, or whatever) in front of the vehicle, thus prematurely detonating the device? Of course, somebody musta thought of this by now. Why not just shut down the entire cellphone network, flood the whole town (or whole country) with all manner of radio transmitions, and "force" the bad guys to use land lines. We have "interior" lines of communications, so we have an advantage; why not just shut the bad guys down entirely (and who cares if the rest of the population goes down with it)?

This is supposed to be about electronic warfare and 21st century technology? Why are we allowing some idiot with a cellphone to kill people? I suppose there must be an answer; I just don't know what it is.

There is just so much about this war I don't understand (which puzzles me, because I'm pretty good at this stuff, and track it, and study it.) I don't know why we don't seal the borders with Iran and Syria, and blast the livin' hell out of anything that crosses. I don't know why we don't partition out the Kurds, and let 'em have their own state and their own army (or let them merge into Kurdistan, and screw what Turkey thinks). I don't understand why we didn't wipe out out al Sadr before, and why we don't wipe him out now (and if Maliki doesn't like it, too freakin' bad). Of course, I don't understand why Bremer et al. let the Iraqi army disband, or why they can't can't put that broken egg back together.

The only guys who understood how to fight this thing were Petraeus and McMaster. And it took 'em 4 freakin' years to finally put Petraeus in charge. (Answer: he's probably pro-Roe v Wade, and therefore unacceptable to, say, Michelle Malkin. Jesus wept.)

Oh, and meanwhile Afghanistan regresses.

Dumb, dumb, dumb, dumb, dumb.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | January 8, 2007 4:37 PM | Report abuse

This is fabulous.

Posted by: Yoki | January 8, 2007 4:38 PM | Report abuse

Slight correction Gomer Canada is #2 in oil reserves, Iran #3.

Posted by: dmd | January 8, 2007 4:38 PM | Report abuse

Mudge and you all - those are all good ideas - and variations of many are,in fact, being pursued. But did I mention the COB part?

Posted by: RD Padouk | January 8, 2007 4:44 PM | Report abuse

Good ideas, but IMHO sub-optimizing when compared to getting out more or less totally and letting the Iraquis sort things out, which they will anyway.

Posted by: LTL-CA | January 8, 2007 4:47 PM | Report abuse

What Mudge said is what I was suggesting (in seriousness). It should be possible to do that from an orbiting aircraft. Wouldn't stop direct and landline detonations, but it would make remote detonations more difficult.

Posted by: Dooley | January 8, 2007 4:48 PM | Report abuse

Hmm. If the Bush Administration really thinks we're in Baghdad to stay, why don't they build a tunnel system to move stuff and people around without being seen?

And if they did, would I know about it? Nope.

On the other hand, the idea to invest in tunnel systems probably isn't too popular after Tora Bora.

Yes, I'll be watching the game tonight, and don't have any investment in who wins. Well, I have friends on both sides; all I want is a game like last year's Texas- USC matchup. That's not too much to ask, is it? Though I'm afraid that the Boise State/Oklahoma game used up all of this year's BCS "instant classic" karma.


Posted by: bc | January 8, 2007 4:54 PM | Report abuse

I don't think going door through door in Bagdad will do anything but raise the level of animosity and violence. Both sides in this civil war regard the US as an enemy and the only solution is to pull back and let them have at it or bring in other interested parties and let them hammer out a cease fire.

Posted by: Boko999 | January 8, 2007 4:55 PM | Report abuse

I agree with you, scotty, that bigger armor just means bigger explosives -- but that in itself entails problems for the bad guys, insofar as it'll require exactly that, more and bigger explosives, which will be physically harder to put in place, and harder to disguise, and perhaps a bit easier to take countermeasures for.

Like bc said, if the current tactics aren't working, then we have to change them (or get the hell out, which would be my choice).

But IEDs aren't the only or even most important problem. Yes, IEDs account for 70 percent of our casualties. So let's say we found an effective countermeasure, and poof, overnight our casualties dropped by that 70 percent (or some high proportion thereof). In terms of the overall war, so what? We might not be losing nearly as many good men (and a few women), but we STILL wouldn't be accomplishing much of anything, just taking less casualties while [not] doing it. Whether we lost 3,000 troops or only 30 percent of that, 900, wouldn't have made us one tad more successful--just the horror aspect on our part would have been reduced. I don't think a lot of the objection to the war is strictly a question of our body county being "too high"; it's also that we aren't accomplishing anything with it. It might (or might not) be different if we had something to show for it. But either way, 900 dead or 3,000 dead, we still got zilch to show for it.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | January 8, 2007 4:57 PM | Report abuse

LIT, that 4:34 made me laugh.


Posted by: bc | January 8, 2007 5:02 PM | Report abuse

>But did I mention the COB part?

RD, in that case you're left with, and a permanent squint.

Posted by: Error Flynn | January 8, 2007 5:06 PM | Report abuse

Quit yer whining, Padouk. Dooley and I gave you our ideas at 4:03 and 4:00. You've had 66 minutes to implement them. What's taking you so long? Sheesh.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | January 8, 2007 5:06 PM | Report abuse

Curmudgeon has hit on the crux of this thing and that is, "What are we doing there?" We were given bs reasons when we first went into Iraq, but we should have listened to Bush earlier, when he gave us the only reason he feels he needs: Saddam tried to kill his daddy.

Anything else we heard was said only so Congress would approve the move. We captured and/or killed Saddam and sons, but beyond that, there is nothing, and there will be nothing accomplished.

By the way, what right do we have to invade a sovereign nation and kill its leader. We used to let the agency take care of that part, under cover of secrecy... or have I just seen too many movies?

By the way, thanks for the correction earlier, I know Iraq has a buttload of oil, don't know exactly how it compares to the rest.

Posted by: Gomer | January 8, 2007 5:11 PM | Report abuse

Mudge, getting the hell out would qualify to me as a change in tactics. Strategy, too.


Posted by: bc | January 8, 2007 5:12 PM | Report abuse

Me, too, bc, me, too. My favorite plan, in fact.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | January 8, 2007 5:16 PM | Report abuse

Okay, second time mentioned now. COB? Cash on the barrelhead?

There is absolutely no perfect solution to the IED threat.

First, armouring up leads, as scotty notes, to increasing the size and improving the type. When I was in Yugo our first casualties resulted from a mine strike in which one of the ingenious locals and dug (i) sideways (/i) from a pothole, so that the anti-tank mine then inserted was actually below ashphalt. Another one that I recall was a stack of three AT mines buried about three feet down, so that only a vehicle passing directly over would set it off. As it turned out, a tracked APC passed over, but the jeep following set it off (a light jeep actually has a higher PSI "footprint").

Second, unless you're giving up completely on direct contact with the locals, you have to get out of your vehicle at some point.

Third, and related to the last point, there is a high degree of "unfriendliness" to an armoured column going through an urban area. Some people may recall the problems in South Korea from some injuries and death from vehicle accidents. The greater the focus on "force protection", the greater the likelihood of such incidents.

I think if there's money to throw at the problem, and if the locals aren't helping (either due to hostility or fear of retaliation), I would saturate the convoy routes or other target areas with surveillance.

dmd, re: oil reserves, sshhhh!

Posted by: SonofCarl | January 8, 2007 5:17 PM | Report abuse

I still don't know what the mission is now or what an escalation is expected to achieve. Impose order so the two sides can negotiate some sort of settlement? They don't seem to want to and there's no way you can kill them into wanting to.
Right now the US finds itself trying to play the role of a peacemaker and if you'll pardon my assessment you guys suck at it.
As Senator Biden asked, where are the moderates, there is no Iraqi Thomas Jefferson.

Posted by: Boko999 | January 8, 2007 5:25 PM | Report abuse

Hey guys, give me my props; I'm seeing some of my old material recycled here.

(1) remote detonation of munitions: I boodled about this last year. Then I asked a friend in a "high place" and he asked friends who specifically work on this stuff. Modern munitions have benefitted from the lessons of bygone accidents (e.g., an aircraft radar system at short range setting off an air-to-air missile on the hangar deck of an aircraft carrier). High-intensity microwave radition could, in principle, do the job. However, modern munitions (the Iraqis are mostly using commercially-produced stuff, hence "modern") are designed to be resistant to accidental detonation in operational situations, so that you would need a very high intensity = horrible death of random persons caught in the beam plus very large and obvious emitting arrays, and so forth.

(2) I have previously noted (cynically) that terms such as "surge" are used in place of "reinforcements" when the idiots in question either (a) think they are so damned smart that they don't need to become familiar with the vast body of existing knowledge of military strategy and tactics, or (b) they know perfectly well that a "surge" really is "reinforcements", but the populace won't stand for it if you call it what it is.

(3) Many, many, radio-control units for electronic toys have now been sent to American troops, who use them to try to detonate devices in advance of a convoy, because similar devices have been used by the insurgency as detonators. Of course, that still can result in substantial Iraqi civilian casualties.

Mudge, I think that the problem with shutting down communications is that commercial stuff is no longer simple by comparison to classified military stuff. Modern cell phones are highly sophisticated. They're not so easy to jam, because of digital noise-reduction techniques. Also, I believe that our own guys are largely dependent on Iraqi infrastructure for communications, so you can't just knock down all the cell towers.

As long as I'm being repetitous: I continue to propose that the only thing like a solution is to cut off the manpower supply chain for the insurgency. That means making people happy. Making them rich won't do it, it will just promote inflation and keep the field level. You need to materially improve their lives. That means you need to reconstruct the infrastructure in ways that keep the insurgency from being able to take down infrastructure faster than it can be put up. Modular systems, small-scale local power generation and distribution, localized storage and distribution of water. Sewage strikes me as the biggest infrastructure problem. Anyway, this is my proposal.

Posted by: ScienceTim | January 8, 2007 5:30 PM | Report abuse

"Impose order so the two sides can negotiate some sort of settlement? They don't seem to want to and there's no way you can kill them into wanting to."

The two sides are Sunni and Shia, right? These folks have been at each others throats for hundreds of years, all over different interpretations of the same damn book written by the same damn man. We can no more get them to negotiate a settlement than we can put a man on the moon.

I know we've already done that last one, but can we do it today? No more than we can get Sunnis and Shi'ites to bed down together. I agree with Boko that we cannot kill them into wanting to.

Let'em work out their own problems.

Posted by: Gomer | January 8, 2007 5:34 PM | Report abuse

That's fine as far as it goes, Gomer. But since a good percentage of their problems were brought on by a) sanctions following the first Gulf war and b) the US invasion (destroyed infrastructure being just one of many examples), 'let them clean up their mess' doesn't do much to clear up the US's mess, does it?

Posted by: Yoki | January 8, 2007 5:38 PM | Report abuse

I agree with you on that one bc,If the game is anywhere close to last years game in excitement...that would be nice.....

When does the pregame...pregame bs start....or has that been going on for weeks now

Posted by: greenwithenvy | January 8, 2007 5:39 PM | Report abuse


You make a valid point, but you left one out:

c) Giving Saddam the weapons and support he needed to claim power and keep it until he started doing stuff we didn't like

Posted by: Gomer | January 8, 2007 5:50 PM | Report abuse

Thanks for the links on the white deer,but I think this is an albino,it travels around in a herd with other "white tail deer".I went looking for it today but didn't have any luck finding it.And as you know it sticks out like a sore thumb.

I will try again it is good exercise.

Oh by the way I live in west(by god) virginia

Posted by: greenwithenvy | January 8, 2007 5:51 PM | Report abuse

You know - you folks are really amazing. You came up with the main concepts right away - at least those that didn't involve small furry animals or flying insects.

The IED problem is nasty - and although the COB (Close of Business) comment was an obvious joke (I hope!) it should come as no surprise that there is *tremendous* pressure to QUICKLY improve detection - without unduly burdening the troops (first question from any soldier in a briefing: How much is this gonna weight?).

Ideally one would want to get these nasty little buggers before they are on the road at all. Also there are Vehicular mounted IEDs that do a huge amount of mayhem as well. Finally, the IEDs are getting less "I" all the time. They are evolving into very sophisticated weapons more akin to intelligent land-mines.

The only up shot of this is that they are getting easier to trace. Although they don't come with a "Made in" sticker, that's the way things seem to be heading. Which opens up a whole additional Mother of All Problems unless one want to venture into " Dooley territory."

And Mudge is quite right, even if we could neutralize all IEDs the big problems would still be there. However it surely would be nice to be able to let some of those soldiers see a few more birthdays. Or keep all their limbs.

Anyway - thanks for all the great thoughts! If nothing else, it made me feel better.

Now, it is my understanding that their is some ritualized athletic competition going on this evening. Go Gators!

Posted by: RD Padouk | January 8, 2007 5:54 PM | Report abuse

Gomer the answer to your question is Iraq is number 4 in oil reserves.

SoC we all know I would make a terrible spy, must learn to keep the plan quiet!!!

Posted by: dmd | January 8, 2007 5:57 PM | Report abuse

Saddam exacerbated the Sunni, Shi'a split by the way he he used his Suuni base to oppress the Shi'a and Kurds. That's why I think the best way to tamp all this crap down is to involve the Suadis and Iranians.
Shi'a and Sunni have and do live peacefully in other jurisdictions.
This situation is way past technical fixes and exhortations to play nice.

Posted by: Boko999 | January 8, 2007 6:04 PM | Report abuse

Gomer, comment monster ate my first reply to you, the answer is Iraq is number four in reserves.

Sorry SoC, but after a frustrating day attempting to seek intelligence at a certain unnamed federal government department I need something to be proud of, of course I am sure the US public employees are much bright and the departments are run in a much more efficient manner.

Posted by: dmd | January 8, 2007 6:05 PM | Report abuse

Yoki, yes, the US made the mess, but I would suggest (a) waiting until things settle down before getting too active with the infrastructure which may involve waiting out a lot of ugly violence, (b) as ScTim suggests, for immediately critical needs favor localized projects without major single points of failure, and (c) get the Coalition of the Billing out of there and let the Iraqis do the work. Maybe provide money, tools, materials, engineering advice and some security? Let Iraqis earn the money if they want to. (Would they be less cavalier about blowing up the place if they had just built it? Would paid-for reconstruction jobs be viewed as permanent employment if they got paid for rebuilding the same thing over and over?) I realize this doesn't directly address the safety of US & UK (& other? is anybody else still there?) soldiers.

Posted by: LTL-CA | January 8, 2007 6:09 PM | Report abuse

May I suggest a good article I ran across recently...

It's from a year ago, from a respected electrical engineering journal, on the efforts to rebuild Iraq's power grid. This project has bled money and had little to show for it. (Millions for expensive turbine generator systems that require natural gas, and Iraq has zip in terms of natural gas infrastructure. Huh.)

Kind of like Jerry Pournelle says, if the US has to become an Empire, couldn't we at least be a *competent* Empire?

I wish there was an unemotional way to proceed, based on where we are now and the likely future consequences of whatever actions we take. But politics are all about emotions, unfortunately.

And, arguably, if the root cause of the conflict is Sunni-Shia tensions, we just need to hang on a few more years, because the Sunnis are leaving in droves.... Then maybe some stability can be found.

Posted by: Les | January 8, 2007 6:16 PM | Report abuse

I don't know about you, but I am pushing for this next time I have a review.

Posted by: dr | January 8, 2007 6:41 PM | Report abuse

For those who like quizzes, here's one from the Education Life section of yesterday's NYT:

It's on topic (really!)

(I hope you can open it without a subscription.)

Posted by: Maggie O'D | January 8, 2007 6:48 PM | Report abuse

Maggie O'D-- where's the answer sheet? ;)

Posted by: Wilbrod | January 8, 2007 7:13 PM | Report abuse

Reading and hearing about Bush's "surge" plan, all I could think of was this:

ARTIST: Warren Zevon
TITLE: Lawyers, Guns and Money

I went home with the waitress
The way I always do
How was I to know
She was with the Russians, too

I was gambling in Havana
I took a little risk
Send lawyers, guns and money
Dad, get me out of this, ha

I'm the innocent bystander
But somehow I got stuck
Between a rock and a hard place
And I'm down on my luck
Yes, I'm down on my luck
Well, I'm down on my luck

Now I'm hiding in Honduras
I'm a desperate man
Send lawyers, guns and money
The sh!t has hit the fan

Send lawyers, guns and money (4x)

My apologies to the Warren Zevon estate. I'm pretty sure they wouldn't want to be associated with this administration, but the parallels between this song and George W. are almost uncanny. Replace "Havana" with "Baghdad", and "Honduras" with "Crawford".

Posted by: martooni | January 8, 2007 7:15 PM | Report abuse

And, of course, change the lyrics to...

But somehow I got stuck
Between Iraq and a hard place...

I love it, martooni!

Posted by: TBG | January 8, 2007 7:22 PM | Report abuse

martooni - That was great!

And remember to enjoy every sandwich.

I miss Warren Zevon.

Posted by: RD Padouk | January 8, 2007 7:23 PM | Report abuse

I'm sorry; here it is

How'd you do?

Posted by: Maggie O'D | January 8, 2007 7:23 PM | Report abuse

I can't believe I missed that one, TBG.

Good catch! ;-)

Posted by: martooni | January 8, 2007 7:25 PM | Report abuse

Wait! Was that a comma splice? Ooh, the horror!

Posted by: Maggie O'D | January 8, 2007 7:27 PM | Report abuse

I know Warren's body of work is expansive, but being a furry dude, I tend to get all primordial and thirsty for a kegger when I hear:

"Aahhoooooo..... Werewolves of London

Posted by: martooni | January 8, 2007 7:36 PM | Report abuse

And the best alliteration of any song...

Little old lady got mutilated late last night...

Posted by: TBG | January 8, 2007 7:39 PM | Report abuse

New kit. I was first (hands behind my back and digging my toe into the ground in front of me).

Posted by: dbG | January 8, 2007 7:40 PM | Report abuse


And just when things were getting to not be so serious...

(woah.... my "grammar checker" thingie just asploded)

Posted by: martooni | January 8, 2007 7:44 PM | Report abuse

Important story coming across at ABC News tonight, Brian Ross reporting, about threat to Niger oil fields.

Summary at this website. If American and European firms forced to withdraw from the fifth largest oil fields in Niger, several consequences projected to happen. Price of barrel of oil shoots up, as do prices at the pump, Chinese oil extraction companies move in. (Note: keep eyes on West Africa.)

ABC coverage here:

Posted by: Loomis | January 8, 2007 8:04 PM | Report abuse

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