On Leave

Last week I began working for the Obama campaign as its national veterans director. Although I have been open on this blog about my support for Obama, my new job requires me to recuse myself from blogging for the duration of the campaign.

Intel Dump will continue to reside here at washingtonpost.com, with one or more guest-bloggers filling my shoes for the next four months. More details to come soon.

By Phillip Carter |  July 14, 2008; 6:00 AM ET  | Category:  Civil-Military Relations
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Phil, advice for Barak:

On your trip next week, meet with the new Cencom commander, Dave Petraeus, and thank him and his forces for giving the nation time..time to form a vision of its future and time to debate its national security in a new climate. Then thank his relief, another West Pointer, for re instituting principled conduct among the troops.

Go to sea with the Navy (on a destroyer) at the upper end of the Gulf where the oil and Iranians are.

Then go to the Iraqi refugee camps that have proliferated and start a dialog on our responsibilities and our intentions for the rehabilitation and protection of these people whose human rights have been thrown to the wind by the chaos of the war.

Go to Amman, Dubai, Geneva, London, New York and off shore banks. Strongly demand the money looted from the Iraqis by our friends, foes and White House patrons be promptly returned.

It would be another contribution to our own rejuvenation.

Then go to the Kyber Pass as shout "We have not yet begun to fight!"

Godspeed and see you at the polls.

Posted by: Bill Keller | July 14, 2008 8:59 AM

Kick ass, Phil. Make sure Obama doesn't step on his tongue when talking about military issues.

Posted by: Jason | July 14, 2008 9:08 AM

Then go to the Khyber Pass, look northwest then south and east, and shout, in each direction: "We have not yet begun to fight!"

Posted by: Bill Keller | July 14, 2008 9:29 AM

Even while becoming increasingly involved in a Presidential campaign, Phil Carter has maintained a quality blog here, showing enough respect for his audience and devotion to his subject matter to keep it free of campaign polemics. He deserves a lot of credit for setting a better example than some others. I wish him all the best in his new assignment.

Now, with respect to a guest blogger: as a public service, I remind readers that Dana Priest does a weekly chat on the Post's web site every Thursday. This would be a good opportunity to lobby her.

Posted by: Zathras | July 14, 2008 10:16 AM

Best to Phil On leave & World A'Hoy All;

As my E@World Monday draws towards it's close;Now @9:12 PM ET +7.

I E-Barge In at this time,to 'jour gem'indicate for relivance @here.

Timetable no matter who?
Unresolved issues in the security negotiations and less violence may lead to a timetable for a US withdrawal from Iraq, writes Saif Nasrawi
Boosted by recent Iraqi military successes, Prime Minister Nuri Al-Maliki suggested for the first time Monday that Baghdad was seeking a timetable for a US withdrawal from Iraq as part of its negotiations with Washington on a security pact that will enable American forces to stay in Iraq beyond 2008.

During his visit to the United Arab Emirates, Al-Maliki told Arab ambassadors there that Iraq wants to reach a timetable for the withdrawal of US troops as part of the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) which is currently being negotiated with Washington to provide a legal basis to US troops to stay in Iraq after 31 December, when their United Nations mandate expires.

Al-Maliki's remarks came amid intense negotiations between Iraq and US officials over the agreement which the majority of Iraqi Shias view as infringing on their country's sovereignty.

Just few hours later, the White House tried to emphasise that it is not negotiating a "hard date" for a US withdrawal from Iraq, stating however that setting a "time frame" for American military presence in Iraq has already been part of the discussions with the Iraqi government.

"As Ambassador [Ryan] Crocker has said, we are looking at conditions, and not calendars -- and both sides are in agreement on this point," said White House spokesman Scott Stanzel. He noted that part of negotiating an agreement is the presumption that there would be "some understanding of time frames".

"The government's assessment is that the Iraqi troops are now capable of taking over security responsibilities with the minimum possible involvement by US troops," a government official told Al-Ahram Weekly. He added that Al-Maliki is well aware of the domestic pressure on US President George Bush's administration by the Congress and the American public to set a schedule for withdrawal. "We think it's not wise to reach an agreement with a president who has only six months in office," he said.

The democratic-dominated Congress has repeatedly expressed fears that any Iraq-US agreement would tie the hands of the next president. Democratic leaders have insisted that the agreement must be submitted to the Congress for its approval.

(Well known from above,my view is that our U.S. doesn't meet Iraq requests for a iraq departure date cause we want to Hang in Deathe,Lifelong Brain Impairment & Capture Harm's Way to Emerge as a Great Guzzling Gas Station Attendant!)


A senior government official told the Weekly that both Iraqi and US officials are concerned that a possible victory by the Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama in the November elections might mean a change in US policy in Iraq. He clarified that given the unresolved issues at the negotiation table, Baghdad and Washington are currently discussing a memorandum of understanding rather than a status of forces agreement as a way to avoid internal opposition in both countries.

He said that negotiations over a withdrawal timetable are "still in their early stage", clarifying that "the talks are now focussed more on reaching a short-term agreement for a year or two so that both governments could accept without serious opposition."


Iraqi and US officials, who began the security talks in March, are still quarrelling over the pivotal issues under negotiation, including the capacity for US troops to carry out military operations and arrests of Iraqis without Baghdad's prior permission, and legal immunity for American troops.

To All;The Best לחיים=To Life


Posted by: Michael of up West.Originally Manhattan.Now Jerusalem. | July 14, 2008 2:15 PM

"Then go to the Khyber Pass, look northwest then south and east, and shout, in each direction: "We have not yet begun to fight!"".

Yeah, and then say to yourself--and the nation, if you have the courage---'nor have we begun to find the manpower, or the cash, to pay for the fight, given that we are, as things now stand, anyway, almost a bankrupt govt, with a financial system on life support, and a nation that rejects, absolutely, a draft.' Then keep repeating yourself, 'I have to think like an adult....I have to think like an adult, I have to think like an adult, even if much of the nation and govt rejects that advice'.

Posted by: jonst | July 14, 2008 4:19 PM

jonst, I think you are overlooking the kind of fight we might make. After all, some of our best weapons are Nike shoes, Levi's pants, and Scooby-Doo reruns. I'm just sayin'.

Phil, good luck to you, and I commend Barack Obama on such a good choice of personnel.

Posted by: Doctory Jay | July 14, 2008 7:50 PM

Phil, good fortune to you and Sen Obama. Couple of comments -

1. Don't get your knickers in a knot re The New Yorker mag. Most of the rapid anti-Obama e-mailers wouldn't recognize The New Yorker if they used it for kindling.

2. Next time you give a Memorial Day speech about service, don't forget to recognize the U. S. Military - blinding omission, as far as I was concerned. The Peace Corps isn't doing the diplomacy job everywhere.

Posted by: davemaz | July 14, 2008 8:29 PM

Doctory Jay and Jonst:

You both bring an important facet. Yes, we don't or won't have the full commitment to fight costly. And we have to get ruthlessly imaginative.

Go back to the 911 Commission - a failure of imagination. bin Laden, limited assets unbridled imagination. WTC down and US Forces leave Saudi Arabia - mission accomplished. Thousands dead, billions lost - cost a dozen zealots and 500k.

We must fight like that to destroy this HIV-like enemy. All the same tricks.

Shout with me: "We have not yet begun to fight."

It is thinking like an adult with the courage to deal with a persistent enemy who is rebuilding its terminator capability. And you can't run away.

Finding it and disabling it and all its material and philosophy support and distribution capabilities -

This is what intelligence is all about even in a place called "Dump".

Posted by: Bill Keller | July 14, 2008 10:10 PM

I was wondering if it was the same Phil Carter, I just figured it was a coincidence.

Posted by: LT Nixon | July 15, 2008 12:32 AM

World A'Hoy (Hick) @'Happy Hour',(half -price E-use;11AM-1PM;) @my Local West Jerusalem Central Bus Station @ET +7;

Get A Load Of This:

Robert Fisk: 'Europe has a duty to educate the US about Middle East'

Tuesday, 15 July 2008

Picture caption:Foreign Minister Walid Moallem says Syria is ready to co-operate with the West

Mid-segment:"You in the West have a moral duty in Europe to educate the United States more about the Middle East. If they don't listen to you, they will not listen to us. They will continue with their mistakes." I don't think they're going to listen, I mutter. But Mr Moallem is in full flow.

"When we announced our position in the Security Council against the invasion of Iraq, the Americans adopted a policy of isolating Syria. We know that the United States is a superpower and many countries prefer to follow its policies without question. We say: 'We differ ... we belong to a region where we are in the middle of the eye of the storm. The United States is 10,000km far away from us. We are directly involved and influenced by regional issues. We consider dialogue, despite differences, is the most important in diplomacy. The message of President Assad to France is that the old policies are wrong, that only dialogue can solve difficult issues."


Just thought you might like to know;

Later this Jerusalem Tuesday afternoon,I'm to be freely E@World to 'jour gems' for Humanity.

If appropriate,I'll also revisist here.

Now;Rise Up for a Safe Successful Tuesday July 15,2008!

To Life!=לחיים.Pronounced Le Chaim.


Posted by: Michael of up West.Originally Manhattan.Now Jerusalem. | July 15, 2008 5:39 AM


Enjoy the coming fight. You at least will bring a touch of reality to the inner circle of politicians. Your success is not to be counted in that you won but that you engaged and gave your all. Its been a pleasure reading INTEL DUMP in its various iterations here from Australia. Go Hard, Hook In and perservere.


Posted by: Peter Harris | July 15, 2008 7:25 AM

Carter: Congratz. Maybe now is the time to produce that "Geopolitical thinking for Dummies. ( A handbook in complex understanding of the universe as officially approved by certified US veterans" and hand out to the Obama groundcrew and pollsters?

I am also looking forward to seeing your keypoint lists, there should be enough of those to choose from. "Transparency of command. accountability of resources and responsibility for results" could be good memetic kickers that might strike the military mindset.

Also, very good interview with the senator in Military Times. But I am worried about the macro-economical engine may conspire to make this a grim campaign, and you will have to work hard to get airtime for solid proposals. Good luck and I hope you are busy canvassing veterans and making reference groups, etc.!

Posted by: fnord | July 15, 2008 10:59 AM

6:40 PM ET +7 & my E@World 'jour gems' day is nearing it's close. But how's for Robert Fisk's other,of today,to stimulate your "Geopolitical thinking," as my predicessour post relates to.;

Robert Fisk: Day of jackals as Paris marks the overthrow of a monarch
Tuesday, 15 July 2008

The Caliph of Damascus celebrated the overthrow of the French king yesterday. Bashar al-Assad looked quite at home, standing in his pale blue suit, wearing those inevitable Baathist sunglasses, occasionally clapping the precision drill of the French regiments in front of him, some of whom spent decades repressing Arab nations.

The 1st Regiment of Spahis must surely have been of interest. Was it not this same French army which overthrew the first independent Arab government of Syria in 1920, coldly executing the minister of defence every bit as brutally as their predecessors chopped off Louis XVI's head? But Bashar looked every inch the self-confident President of Syria. As well he might.

Who could have imagined, just six months ago, that the man accused of Rafiq Hariri's murder - now hated by ex-president Jacques Chirac - would be standing a few metres from President Sarkozy of France, basking in the warmth of Parisian hospitality. Were there not a few soldiers in the Bastille Day parade who remembered the murder of 58 of their comrades at the French military headquarters in Lebanon in 1983 and that the French, at the time, blamed Bashar's father, Hafez, for his supposed complicity? But there were no end of cruel Arab regimes represented on the podium yesterday.

There was Sarkozy's co-host at the Mediterranean summit, President Hosni Mubarak, whose secret police regularly use electricity on their prisoners and whose prison guards force inmates to rape each other.

And there were the representatives of Algeria, whose policemen used to pump water into their prisoners till they burst; and Tunisia, where about a third of the population are paid spies for the secret police. And Morocco, where journalists are locked up for offending our latest plucky little king; and Israel, whose gentle treatment of all Palestinian prisoners has to be seen to be believed.

No wonder the French flics and "force de renseignement" and the Arab "mukhabarat" and any number of other dark figures littered the pavements around the Place de la Concorde yesterday. No one, it seems, can forget The Day of the Jackal, although tens of thousands of Arabs might have concluded that there were jackals enough on the podium alongside M. Sarkozy.

The French commentariat had bought the presidential line, prison hook and definitely sinker. "A winning gamble," one of Le Figaro's grovelling writers called it. The French admired Bashar's wife, Asma - a woman whose intelligence and elegance far surpass that of Madame La Presidente Carla, whose purple and red outfit matched the uniforms of the Foreign Legionaires. But the French still haven't learned the secret of Syrian foreign policy. Like the visa hunters in Casablanca, the Syrians wait. And wait. And wait. And in the end, there comes, inevitably, an invitation to Bastille Day.

לילה טוב=Good Night לחיים=To Life! Michael


Posted by: Michael of up West.Originally Manhattan.Now Jerusalem. | July 15, 2008 11:42 AM

Go, Phil, Go !!

Most of us spend far to much time preaching to the quire.
We do so enjoy a good sermon when it's something we find annoying and for which we all feel self-righteous about, but honestly, it's mostly shooting in the wrong direction.

You are getting out beyond the wire and taking the campaign into the field, so remember the drill:

Don't be an unintentional target, always consider your exposure, even when standing tall.

Listen, Listen and understand. Listen some more and ask probing questions to fell out what the indigenous people really think and believe.

Remember that belief in populations is often stronger than rational arguments. Changing belief is a move in trust and/or self interest, not a logical decision, so logic often does not work when trying to change beliefs.

Don't wait for the fight to come to you, because you may not like the battlefield or it's timing and terms, take the offensive.

In politics, like COIN, the objective is not how many points you score, or how many of the opposing forces you kill off, but how many see them selves supporting your side out of their own self interest.

Often they have to be convinced that supporting your cause is not a betrayal of their belief system. So understand that belief system and make sure that you build a bridge that they can cross without having to deny their faith and principles.

It's just like COIN, you win the children, the mothers, and get the elder leaders blessings, then the men can come out without fear of reprisal.

Just like COIN, a third of the population support you, a third religiously oppose you, and a third are indifferent. You have to give the third that support you the tools to convince the middle that it is both morally correct and in their self interest to follow you.

For the opposition you have to build bridges of self interest they can cross without having to abandon their faith. If possible use their "new" and deeper understanding of their faith for justifying crossing that bridge. Some case law they can use for president, to make the leap.

Politics, like war, is messier and more grizzly the closer you get to it. You will come out without PTSD, if you keep your principles and whits about you.

You will not fail us unless you fail to try.
Constitution, Principles & Law, all the swords you need.
Go, Phil, Go !!

Posted by: James M | July 15, 2008 11:27 PM

Don't get slimed by the politics machine, Phil. We'll be looking for your clearheaded commentary upon your return. Shower well beforehand ;)

Posted by: rangeragainstwar | July 15, 2008 11:41 PM

"Shout with me: "We have not yet begun to fight.""


When the tough gets going, you "disestablish"

Posted by: srv | July 16, 2008 3:02 PM

Seriously; Our America:This 'macro' Effect theatre of our U.S.
related: U.S. Triumphant Humanity Preservation!
collections: None
by Michael of upper west side Now Jerusalem · Today at 03:36 0 Comments

DARK SIDE for Humanity,seems set to Deathfully,spiral out of hand!

Well past time;for my PRIORITY 1 LIFE U.S. Triumphant Middle East Life Redemption Plan,to be kindled on the U.S. Geo-Strategic back burner!

America; Look It;

For these past 2/5ths of a Century,our U.S. State Deparment has been,justly,Demanding of my Israel against Settlements.Starting with freezing their Expansion.Always answered with Defiance!

Then,in early 2004,three U.S. DARK SIDE for Humanity,formative Elements converged,to Seduce,the April 14,2004 'Oval Office' handed U.S. Letter.Overwhelmingly Ratified into U.S. Israel Policy,by both Houses of Congress,that June;

DARK SIDE swerving U.S. Israel Policy;to the Effect:'Population stuffing @Settlements recognized as indicative for Israel's future final? border!

Phone me @International access 972,or Israel 0,then 50-5425235;to inquire,or book,for my required Introduction;my noon departing,2+ hours,'Illegal Settlement Expansion' self-escorted tour,meeting before Depature in my upper West Jerusalem.

If 'Free parking' sounds appealing,I'll phone direct,& we can meet up @that supermarket outdoor parking lot.

I charge 50 Shekels,or $15,per participant,which includes round-trip public armored bus transportation.

You'll View the Edge. Of the Israel development plans announced,Match. Ignition,after completion,should naturally lead to the,effective,extermination of Middle East warm-blooded Life in 12 hours or less.As per the WMD ping pong match likely to ensue.

In No Way Block Able by our U.S. DARK SIDE swerved U.S. Israel Policy!

You'll learn of my PRIORITY 1 LIFE U.S. Triumphant Middle East Life Redemption Plan;

Calling for a Revocation of our U.S. Letter 'Oval Office' handed April 14,04!

Followed by a major Westward re-deployment,for Key Elements of our cherished U.S. Power,to Virtually Non-Lethally Oversee,a long overdue;

Compliance Enforcement Regimen as per U.S. State Department 2/5ths of a Century Demands.of my Israel,Against Settlements.Starting with Freezing their Expansion.Always answered Defiantly.

Then;Whenever our U.S. State Department is ready;They'll announce that they are studying my U.S. Triumphant Middle East Life Redemtion Plan.

World news medis Focus on me;Unleashing my Voice!

Then;Sit back in awe;as the 'What The!' Tsunami Cracks across News-Talk Land!

Life,Liberty & Humanity Happiness Pursuit Stopping in it's Tracks;

Before 'Attack Iran' HITS THE FAN!

To Usher in;the U.S. Triumpant LIFE LIGHT SIDE!

U.S. Forces WorldWide;Again known as 'The Good Guys'

U.S. vested pre-eminent Humanity Respect,Regard & Security;Both National & for Americans WorldWide.

Recognized as LIFE's leader,towards LIBERTY & The PURSUIT OF HAPPINESS,into the uncertain future ahead.

The George W.Bush U.S. presidency renowned in Humanity history.

Secretary Rice's tenure Vindicated.

Israel given realistic hope;to Live;to See 2020. An All American achievement.

To Life!=לחיים.Pronounced Le Chaim.

Michael of the upper West side.

Originally Manhattan.

Now Jerusalem.

PRIORITY 1 LIFE Far West Jerusalem on Groupee Post New Gee Cast Body:box;

Thursday July 17,2008;Now @1:35 PM PT +10.

Posted by: Michael of up West.Orig.Manhattan.Now Jerusalem. | July 17, 2008 6:42 AM

Across our World;Yo; Phil Carter;

So your off over @Obama's campaign;

Y'All there,might well find this of interest:

Adrian Hamilton: Britain can offer Barack Obama advice on Iraq
With Obama's visit to Europe (and Iraq and Afghanistan) next week, there's been the inevitable discussion of America's relationship with Europe: who is now it's favourite ally and what would an Obama presidency mean for Britain's hallowed "special relationship"?



After all the strains and tensions of the Bush era and the Iraqi venture, will European-American relations return to the situation antebellum? Or are America's eyes now turned from the Atlantic to the Pacific now that China and India are emerging as the new economic giants?

All important questions, no doubt. And worth asking of a potential president whose interests, travel and background seem very divorced from Britain or the Continent. McCain knows Europe of old. Obama hardly knows it at all. If he has personal interests they lie to the south and east, in Africa and Asia.

But asking what he would do as president and seeking to read the runes from his visit here is surely the wrong way of looking at the visit.

This is a whistle-stop tour by an US presidential candidate intended, on his part, to show that he can operate abroad to repair US relations with its allies while, on Europe's part, it's meant to show that the EU's leaders can forge a relationship with the new man likely to take over the White House. Solid policy debate is not going to be on the agenda, nor any revelations. Indeed the one thing that London, Berlin, Paris and Rome will be worried about is how not to cross the line between paying due courtesy to a US candidate and embracing one man over the other.

Instead of worrying about what Obama will say to us (which won't be much beyond clichés), we should be thinking about what we can say to him. That's what he most needs after all. Chancellor Angela Merkel can offer him her views on relations with Russia and the future of the EU. Nicolas Sarkozy will fill him with visions of what France can do and how pro-American its President now is. Silvio Berlusconi will not doubt just try and smother him in praise and gifts.

Then;Potent Late segment:

But Britain - for all the current suggestions that we have become less important than Germany as a European ally - can offer advice on what concerns Obama most in this election: what to do about Iraq, the war, as Obama put it this week, that "distracts us from every threat that we face and so many opportunities we could seize."

If Gordon Brown had any sense he would say to his guest: "look, Mr Obama, you have based your campaign on an early withdrawal from Iraq and promising a complete change from Bush's policies of intervention and confrontation. Your problem is how practically to achieve this without looking as if you are cutting and running.

"Iraq's president has given you some help by saying he wants foreign troops out within a set deadline. And we're with you on that. We're overstretched and want out. We are also increasingly exposed in Afghanistan.

"What you could do, and where we could help you, is in achieving a pull-out within the context of a regional security framework. For that you need, both in Afghanistan and Iraq, Iran. The time is ripe. All the signs are that the Iranians want an end to confrontation and that they are willing to come back into the international community. They have problems at home, they need investment and growth. But they also need a US President to make a change in policy possible, free from the current politics of demand, threat and sanction.

"There's no need to fly to Tehran. But you could - as you have - give a date for withdrawal and organise regional conferences in which Iran's legitimate interests are recognised. Its interests are not so different from ours so far as the Taliban, al-Qa'ida and regional instability are concerned. Bring Iran in and you could be on the way not only to solving the nuclear issue, but also removing the constraints on Iranian and Iraqi oil and gas output. And that, I need not remind you, could do wonders for the energy market.


Mr Brown won't say any of this, of course. Instead he'll go on about Britain's contribution to the war effort, its lonely stance in Afghanistan and all it has done for America as its special friend, and how much we have "shared values." We have no views - not that they have been shared with the public at any rate - on the future of the EU, the Middle East, post-exit Iraq or even the credit crunch.

Well might Obama retort: "I am the face of the future. All you seem to be offering is a continuation of the past. Is there nothing else that you can do?"

It's a good question and one which the British public might ask as well as the Democrat candidate in the US presidentials.

To Life!=לחיים Far West now @3:25 PM ET +7;

Take Care.

Posted by: Michael of up West.Orig.Manhattan.Now Jerusalem. | July 17, 2008 8:25 AM

Philippe Sands ( http://www.vanityfair.com/politics/features/2008/05/guantanamo200805?printable=true¤tPage=all ) testified before the House Judiciary Committee Subcommittee on The Constitution, Civil Rights, and Civil Liberties Hearing on: From the Department of Justice to Guantanamo Bay: Administration Lawyers and Administration Interrogations Rules, Part IV.

The video at C-Span has no audio. The video at judiciary.house.gov has no video.

The Washington Post should post an online video library in H.264 format of all House and Senate Judiciary Committee oversight hearings, especially those involving torture.


Posted by: Singing Senator | July 17, 2008 10:26 AM

On U.S. Geo-Strategic reality; Check out Rosa Brooks @LA Times.com.And it might be a good idea to have an aspirin tablet handy.

ADD in D.C.
How else can you explain the spotty attention Bush and McCain have paid to Afghanistan?
Rosa Brooks
July 17, 2008
Added to the water supply in Washington, I mean. In a nation where every other 9-year-old seems to be medicated for attention deficit disorder, why do we refuse to take seriously the attention deficit disorder crisis afflicting so many of our political leaders?

Take John McCain. Immediately after 9/11, McCain shared the widespread view that the U.S. should go to war in Afghanistan to take out those responsible for the 9/11 attacks. But by late November 2001, he wanted to "move on to the next country." Uh-huh: "Next up, Baghdad!"

Of course, we stayed in Afghanistan too, but McCain had gotten tired of it. By April 2003, he said that "nobody in Afghanistan threatens the United States of America," so we could focus instead on the shiny new war in Iraq. "We don't read about [Afghanistan] anymore, because it's succeeded," he explained in October 2005.

But Iraq started getting boring too, so now McCain has turned his restless attention back to Afghanistan -- maybe because Barack Obama keeps hammering away at the issue. (Obama, who's been fairly consistent on Afghanistan for six years now, is either the rare politician who doesn't suffer from ADD, or he's smart enough to take his meds.) On Tuesday, McCain released a "comprehensive strategy for victory in Afghanistan." Previous claims of success were forgotten. "The status quo is unacceptable," McCain's campaign declared, but "McCain will turn around the war."

Right! Until we move on to the next country! (Remember, Iran is still high on McCain's list of bright, shiny objects.) I don't mean to pick on McCain here. ADD is rampant in the corridors of power, and McCain is far from the only sufferer. George W. Bush? A case too obvious to belabor. Congress could use some Ritalin too.

Mid-segment:But -- ahem -- let's not get distracted here. Back to Afghanistan! Let's think for a minute -- just a short little minute, I promise -- about what it would mean to "turn around the war" in Afghanistan.

Depends what the goal is: Make Afghanistan a stable democracy? Destroy the Taliban? Eliminate the link between illicit Afghan opium production and terrorist financing? Capture Osama bin Laden? No matter how you look at it, it's not going to be a job well-suited to a nation in the grip of an attention deficit disorder epidemic.

Consider the scope of the problem. In recent months, more U.S. troops have died in Afghanistan than in Iraq. According to The Times, in the first three months of 2008, insurgent attacks were up by nearly 40% in just the eastern provinces, compared with the same time period in 2007. Overall, according to the International Crisis Group, suicide bombings went up by 600% between 2005 and 2007, and insurgent attacks by 400%. (The Afghan insurgents, who apparently have a plentiful supply of Ritalin, are paying close attention to successful Iraqi insurgent and terrorist tactics and studiously applying those lessons.)

Meanwhile, U.S. and NATO troops operate under confusingly different rules of engagement and report to different command structures. The Afghan government remains weak and corrupt; the humanitarian situation remains fragile. And when things get hot, terrorists, Taliban and Afghan insurgents find convenient safe harbor across the border in Pakistan (one of the largest recipients of U.S. military aid), while elements of Pakistan's government turn a blind eye.

Ending:We need to make a long-term commitment to Afghanistan, but it won't be easy. At best, we'll withdraw most of our troops from Iraq within two years and redeploy many in Afghanistan, but that would still be a far cry from the 400,000 troops the outgoing commander of NATO forces in Afghanistan thinks are really needed. (Bye-bye, Iraq quagmire, hello, Afghanistan quagmire!) At worst, we'll need to maintain a massive troop presence in two countries at once (All Quagmire, All the Time).

And no U.S. military strategy will succeed if it's not accompanied by a regional political and diplomatic strategy: Stabilizing Afghanistan is inextricably linked to diffusing Pakistan's political crises as well. Doing this adequately will take resources and patient, sustained attention.

But don't mourn: organize! Start stockpiling that Ritalin now, folks: Whoever's in the White House next January is really going to need it.

Posted by: Michael of up West.Originally Manhattan.Now Jerusalem. | July 17, 2008 10:54 AM

Yes, this has been a great blog for years now. Phil Carter deserves the praise he gets. But it's my sense that this signals its demise.

If Obama wins as expected, Carter will undoubtedly get something in the new administration. Which wouldn't be at all surprising inasmuch as it's long been clear that this was Phil's long-term goal.

Posted by: Publius | July 18, 2008 11:54 AM

With respect to Afghanistan.

What will be the end result ?

Why are we throwing in NATO and US forces there ?

Is this about that "War on terror" thing ?

best regards

Posted by: ZenArcade | July 19, 2008 5:53 AM

A Washington Post employee going to work for Sen. Obama? Really? Phil, I think you'll find that Sen. Obama has serious issues with that constituency.


Posted by: Hope is Not A Foreign Policy | July 19, 2008 6:30 AM


Monday July 21,2008 is high noon along,hereabouts Far Jerusalem way @ET +7;

while Washington wakes up for a new day;

Why am I prose pontificating here?

A new Weekly Al-Ahram has E@World appeared;


Two Shia nightmares
Why does Al-Maliki really want a timetable for US withdrawal from Iraq? Salah Hemeid tries to figure it out

The July deadline for Iraq and the United States to sign a security agreement for the long-term status of US troops in Iraq is stumbling to a close. Officials of both the Bush administration and Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri Al-Maliki's government are now admitting that meeting a deadline that would allow Iraq to restore full sovereignty is farfetched.

On Sunday The Washington Post reported that the United States and Iraq have abandoned efforts to conclude the deal before the end of the presidency of George W Bush. Citing unnamed senior US officials, the newspaper said the decision effectively leaves talks over an extended US military presence in Iraq to the next administration.

In place of the formal status-of-forces agreement negotiators had hoped to complete by 31 July, the two governments are now working on a "bridge" document that would allow basic US military operations to continue beyond the expiration of a UN mandate at the end of the year. The influential paper said the failure of months of negotiations is being blamed on both the Iraqi refusal to accept US terms and the complexity of the task.

The disclosure came in the heat of repeated hardline statements by Al-Maliki and other Iraqi officials that they want a clear timetable for the full withdrawal of American troops from Iraq as a precondition for signing the security agreement. Al-Maliki first floated the idea last week during a visit to the United Arab Emirates when he said that his government's approach in the current negotiation was for signing a memorandum of understanding for withdrawal.


Later his national security adviser Muwaffaq Al-Rubaie went a step further, saying Baghdad would not accept any deal with the United States unless it included dates for the withdrawal of foreign forces, only to revoke it later by saying the current talks were focussed on agreeing on "timeline horizons, not specific dates", and that withdrawal would depend on the readiness of the Iraqi security forces.

Last month and during a visit to Jordan, Al-Maliki said that negotiations with the United States on the long-term security pact were deadlocked because of concern that the deal infringes Iraqi sovereignty. "We have reached an impasse, because when we opened these negotiations we did not realise that the US demands would so deeply affect Iraqi sovereignty and this is something we can never accept," he said. However, his Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari contradicted him saying that talks were in progress and a deal could still be reached by the end of July.

These contradictory statements raised questions about the actual position of the Iraqi leaders and if they are really as steadfast as they appear in calling for a withdrawal date or whether they are just manoeuvring. Many observers argue that Iraqi forces are not yet in a position to stand on their own against the two major challenges they face -- Al-Qaeda and other Sunni groups, and the Shia Mahdi Army which were partly suppressed in fierce battles this spring in Basra, Al-Amarah and Baghdad. Both groups could simply resurface afterwards to challenge the government once the Americans withdraw.

So does Al-Maliki really want a timetable, and if so why, knowing that Bush has repeatedly rejected calls for a troop withdrawal timeline?

Late segment:

Shias seem to fear that with a new, most likely Democratic administration in Washington next year, a new course will be taken in Iraq that will eventually help to empower Sunnis at their expense. The cause of their concern stems from their analysis that the sooner the Americans leave Iraq the better, and they should not make any move that will put their current long-awaited empowerment in jeopardy. Nothing can explain their agenda better than what Shia Interior Minister Jawad Al-Bolani wrote in an article in Asharq Al-Awsat: "Shia Arabs are with it [an agreement] publicly but against it secretly."

Indeed, the Iraqi Shias are just trying to avoid the Japanese example where an agreement for a prolonged military presence in Japan after WWII coincided with a new Republican- dominated Congress that forced president Truman to take a new approach in the occupied Asian nation. In order to block a communist and leftist resurgence in Japan the American occupation administration of General Macarthur halted the purge of the followers of the pre-war regime and brought thousands of them back to the government bureaucracy.

That approach, which was the brainchild of George Kennan, the well-known American diplomat, historian and strategist and part of his global containment policy against the Soviet- led Communist bloc, changed Japan probably for ever by reinstalling the old political class and prevent the emergence of an anti-American leftist movement, making Japan a bulwark in the Cold War against Communism.

If Al-Maliki and other Shia politicians have any motive behind procrastination it is to avoid the Japanese situation where a prolonged American presence will allow more Sunnis to rejoin the army, police and government bureaucracy, thus weakening their grip on power. In the Iraqi case the Shia-led government will be forced to completely abandon the de- Baathification law and Iran will become the "Communism threat", two nightmares for Iraqi Shia leaders.

Then,Ending:While watching closely the US election campaign and clashes between the two presidential hopefuls over the future of the American presence in their country, Iraqi Shia leaders are refining a strategy that will eventually either make the Americans leave or stay a bit longer, but in all cases never to make their presence permanent. This is why Al-Maliki keeps calling for a well-defined timetable for withdrawal of US troops in any agreement under discussion.

(While I can't fathom how I haven't E-included for here my Journalism derived Advisory,of yesterday.

It's Mega-explosivly pertinent,also,for here.

Giving you an option for thinking about as you drive to work.

I'll E-paste it along,following.

To Life!=לחיים. Pronounced Le Chaim.


Posted by: Michaelo of up West.Originally Manhattan.Now Jerusalem. | July 21, 2008 6:20 AM

lifeline04 wrote:

Advisory:Middle East nuclear war in 6 months.

Posted 7/20/2008 5:35 AM EDT on mycentraljersey.com

Using bombs to stave off war

By Benny Morris Published: July 18, 2008

Israel will almost surely attack Iran's nuclear sites in the next four
to seven months - and the leaders in Washington and even Tehran should
hope that the attack will be successful enough to cause at least a
significant delay in the Iranian production schedule, if not complete
destruction, of that country's nuclear program. Because if the attack
fails, the Middle East will almost certainly face a nuclear war - either
through a subsequent pre-emptive Israeli nuclear strike or a nuclear
exchange shortly after Iran gets the bomb.

It is in the interest of neither Iran nor the United States (nor, for
that matter, the rest of the world) that Iran be savaged by a nuclear
strike, or that both Israel and Iran suffer such a fate. We know what
would ensue: a traumatic destabilization of the Middle East with
resounding consequences around the globe, serious injury to the West's
oil supply and radioactive pollution of the earth's atmosphere and

But should Israel's conventional assault fail to significantly harm or
stall the Iranian program, a ratcheting up of the Iranian-Israeli
conflict to a nuclear level will most likely follow. Every intelligence
agency in the world believes the Iranian program is geared toward making
weapons, not to the peaceful applications of nuclear power. And, despite
the current talk of additional economic sanctions, everyone knows that
such measures have so far led nowhere and are unlikely to be applied
with sufficient scope to cause Iran real pain, given Russia's and
China's continued recalcitrance and Western Europe's (and America's)
ambivalence in behavior, if not in rhetoric. Western intelligence
agencies agree that Iran will reach the "point of no return" in
acquiring the capacity to produce nuclear weapons in one to four years.

Which leaves the world with only one option if it wishes to halt Iran's
march toward nuclear weaponry: the military option, meaning an aerial
assault by either the United States or Israel.


Which leaves only Israel - the country threatened almost daily with
destruction by Iran's leaders. Thus the recent reports about Israeli
plans and preparations to attack Iran (the period from Nov. 5 to Jan. 19
seems the best bet, as it gives the West half a year to try the
diplomatic route but ensures that Israel will have support from a
lame-duck White House).

Benny Morris, a professor of Middle Eastern history at Ben-Gurion
University, is the author, most recently, of "1948: A History of the
First Arab-Israeli War."

HI YO SILVER! Hold Up Humanity Deathly March to Nuclear WMD use,greasing
future actor's to toss their own to create 'peace' @their enemies! By;

U.S.Triumphant Engage @Life,LIBERTY & HAPPINESS PURSUIT for Humanity!

My PRIORITY 1 LIFE U.S.Triumphant Middle East Life Redemption Plan will
give Ahmadinejad reason to halt his enrichment.

Smiles do nothing to dull enrichment

By Zvi Bar'el in HAARETZ English Edition Sunday July 20,08 @Page 1
Left;below the fold.

"Iranian diplomacy is sometimes like a Persian rug - one must wait to
see its beauty," said the head of Iran's delegation to the nuclear talks
in Geneva, Saeed Jalili, when asked why Tehran has still not made a
decision about the offer of incentives in return for freezing its
uranium-enrichment activities. Was this yet another exercise in empty
rhetoric? An answer to this is expected in two weeks, after yet another
round of talks.


Ending:Criticism is directed at Ahmadinejad's aggressive style, which
paints Iran as a threat to world stability.

This image is something that Jalili will try to alter during the
negotiations. Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki spoke positively of
the "American presence at the talks" and the blunt tone disappeared in a
sea of smiles. But these are not likely to be enough to dull uranium
Every parent & guardian should know,if their charge is an unremitting
bully; Endlessly withholding 'tough love' discipline is bound to end in
Our U.S. State Department publically studying my U.S.,long
overdue,'tough love' against Settlements ME Life Redemption Plan will
have world news media find & focus on my Voice.

My Voice,"I Charge our United States of America with Conspiracy to have
me Murdered
7/21/2008 4:45:42 AM

lifeline04 wrote:
My Voice,"I Charge our United States of America with Conspiracy to have
me Murdered in early 1990,for my 'essential' act of 'Humanity
Preservation' Public Campaigning!*" Will Headline News Highlight my 18
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to-date;Titled:'Living On for Life:AGAINST ALL ODDS'

Will give me the Humanity 'top rated' platform to Speak towards
democratically swaying popular majorities,in my two democracies of
citizenship to supporting my U.S. Triumphant Middle East Life Redemption

Ushering in The U.S. Triumphant LIFE LIGHT SIDE!

U.S. Forces Worldwide,again known as 'The Good Guys'

America reaping pre-eminent Respect,Regard & Security;both National &
for Americans Worldwide.

Recognized as LIFE's leader towards LIBERTY & The PURSUIT OF HAPPINESS
into the uncertain future ahead.

The George W.Bush U.S. Presidency renowned in Humanity history.

Secretary Rice's tenure Vindicated.

Israel given realistic hope;to Live;to See;2020.An All-American


U.S.Military Command angered.Deeming my late 1989 New Zealand national
newspapers,full page ad,campaign,headlined as above;Restrictive to our
U.S. National Security Interest. So they ordered our CIA to track me
down & kill me.

Our CIA;Appreciating our reluctance to Execute against a native American
found peaceful & inspiring;So we,most creatively inserted a 2nd NOC
against my life,as my surprise roommate,on my subsequent sole
sightseeing trip to Vietnam.

@Da Nang,mid-tour;Fully realizing who she was with her successful
treatchery against my Life;

Having rendered my killing over to Vietnam Intelligence.So I Engaged

To Life!=לחיים.Pronounced Le Chaim.

Michael of the upper West side.

Originally Manhattan.

Now Jerusalem.

PRIORITY 1 LIFE @'Happy Hour.' Half-price @E,Sunday-Thursday from

Central Bus Station West Jerusalem Sunday July 20,2008;Now @12:11 PM ET

P.S. Earlier at the bookstore downstairs, I 'jour gem' noted another
Haaretz story before being staff relieved of my browsing copy;

Six arrested for allegedly plotting attack on Bush

By Haaretz Correspondent and Staff , By Amos Harel Page 2,center,left.

The Israel Police and the Shin Bet security service have arrested six
Arabs - two Israeli citizens and four Palestinian residents of East
Jerusalem - with alleged links to Al-Qaida. A gag order lifted on Friday
revealed that the suspects allegedly planned to attack U.S. President
George W. Bush's helicopter during a recent visit.


According to the charges, the suspects had been in contact with Al-Qaida
online in order to establish a terror cell in Israel. The indictment
states that one of the suspects, a student at the Hebrew University of
Jerusalem, used his cell phone to photograph the U.S. president's
planned landing site near the university stadium, and sent the images to
an Al-Qaida-linked Web site.

The student, Nazareth resident Mohammed Nijam, lived in a dormitory
overlooking the landing pad. Nijam allegedly asked about shooting down
the helicopter in a message on the Web site.

The other Israeli Arab suspect is also a student at the Hebrew

The Shin Bet said that investigators found bomb-making instructions on
several of the suspects' computers.

7/21/2008 4:49:27 AM

Posted by: Michael of up West.Originally Manhattan.Now Jerusalem. | July 21, 2008 6:27 AM

4:42 PM Dense caution;But U.S. intel dump relivant;

Arab order options in Iraq
The US and its Iraqi clients are to sign a long-term security agreement, rejected by the Iraqi people. The Arabs must take a position and act, writes Sameh Rashed*

As intense as the controversy over Iraqi-US negotiations on a security agreement has been and as diverse as the opinions have been on both sides, not a single Arab position on the issue has yet emerged. One cannot help but to wonder at the total Arab silence on a development that will affect the security and very future of an Arab country that serves as a gateway to the entire Arab region. Surely this seeming indifference conflicts with considerations of Arab national security and strategic regional interests. Even from the perspective of the interests and welfare of each individual Arab country one would think that Arab officials would show a little more concern for a possible contractual arrangement for perpetuating the US occupation of Iraq because such a precedent could be repeated in other Arab countries.

Hiding behind the principles of non-intervention and respect for another country's sovereignty simply does not work in this context. For one, Iraq does not enjoy the sovereignty that other nations are presumed to have. Its domestic affairs are an open field for outside meddling, the Arabs being one of the least influential players on the board. Secondly, when the question is connected with the creation of a new situation that will have major repercussions on the region whose member states presumably form a single political entity, considerations of national sovereignty would presumably take a back seat to considerations of the collective welfare and security of the whole. But even from the Iraqi perspective, Arab silence on US-Iraqi negotiations could be more harmful to the cause of Iraqi independence and sovereignty than intervention. The fact is that the Iraqi people, not only with respect to the agreement but also more generally, are caught in a vice between Washington and Tehran. They have no space to breathe, nor room to move, wedged as they are between the two clamps.


That the Arabs have continued to absent themselves from Iraq in spite of the fact that the Saddam era ended five years ago is no more than a perpetuation of an old mistake. The circumstances surrounding the former absence and the justifications in support of it may be open to debate, but for this practice to persist is both incomprehensible and unjustifiable, especially in view of the domestic opposition in Iraq to the agreement. In other words, an Arab return to Iraq would be consistent with the domestic mood there which, in turn, would lend legitimacy and impetus to the Arab role while the Arab role would add moral and political weight to the Iraqi rejection of the agreement.

Since Iraqi opinion is generally opposed to the agreement, a chief thrust of Arab efforts must be devoted directly to the substance of the agreement, which will dispense with the need to persuade the Iraqis that Arab intervention will work in their favour. It is important to note, in this regard, that for the first time since the occupation the Shia in Iraq have taken a united stance against the occupation. But this position merits a closer look. Naturally, it is connected with Tehran's opposition to the proposed formula, but this only partially explains the current attitude amongst the Shia in Iraq. After all, the agreement has been on the table for months, with Iran looking on, especially after the joint declaration of principles between Al-Maliki and Bush last November, which indicates that a realm of difference had existed.

What is new is that the Iraq-US agreement opened a previously non-existent window for dismantling the Iraqi-Iranian-US triangle, in which the latter two sides are literally rooted on an Iraqi base. Until recently, the possibility of breaking apart the alliance was virtually inconceivable, what with Iran having dug in its heels in Iraq and the US's army having established itself on Iraqi territory. However, Washington's determination to "institutionalise" its military presence and political intervention has incensed both the Iraqis and the Iranians. But this desire was neither unexpected nor sudden, which suggests that the current vehemence of opposition in Iraq has more to do with the small print in the agreement than with the general principle. Perhaps, too, one side or the other reneged on an earlier commitment. If this is the case, then the parties to the negotiations can overcome their differences over substance and procedure just as quickly, which means that if the Arabs want to have a say they must act quickly before the opportunity slips.


Therefore, the first essential step the Arabs must take is to take the proposed Iraqi-US security agreement and examine each of its articles very closely in terms of clearly defined criteria for what best serves collective Arab interests and Arab regional security. If they find that the agreement poses no real problem then they should congratulate the Iraqis on the American bases and reconcile themselves to an Iranian regional role in exchange for letting the agreement go through.

If, on the other hand, the Arabs feel that a contractual arrangement establishing permanent US military bases in Iraq, US control over Iraqi airspace and everlasting immunity for American soldiers in Iraq is harmful, they not only have a right to intervene but a duty -- a duty to Iraq and the Iraqi people even before themselves. The idea behind this founding step for the Arab role is that it will be grounded on an objective perception of a threat, as opposed to casting about for some way to act or even just rushing in to help the Iraqi people. In addition, close and cooperative study of the position they should adopt helps fortify that position with legitimacy and a sense of collective resolve. For this reason, the Arabs should approach the matter in an institutionalised framework and, specifically, through the Arab League, the body that organisationally embodies the so-called Arab order. Another advantage of working through the Arab League is that it offers a form of protection. Naturally, the league cannot shield its members from Washington's wrath, but it can help deflect some of that anger and alleviate pressure on individual members.

Lateish segment:

In order to keep deliberations on course and prevent them from becoming bogged down in theoretical conjectures, the Arabs could develop specific proposals pertaining to the actual points of the Iraqi-US agreement and the "contractual" nature of the relationship between Iraq and the occupation. On the question of possible alternatives to the occupation, or an American force in Iraq, it is important to recall that maintaining security has never been the true purpose of the American military presence in Iraq, but only a pretext. By undermining the pretext it will be possible to resolve the issue of American bases, for which there will be no more practical need. At the very least, those bases can then be reduced in quantity and quality. The following are some possible alternatives:

- Sending in a UN peacekeeping force and making the UN responsible for supervising conditions in the areas that are charged with sectarian tensions.

- Creating an Arab, Islamic or regional (Iranian, Turkish and Arab) force to fulfil the peacekeeping and tension monitoring missions.

- Keeping sufficient US forces in Iraq to undertake the tasks of restoring and maintaining security and stability while training Iraqi forces which would gradually take over these tasks from the Americans, with the provision that it is determined that they can perform them effectively before dispensing with US forces entirely. The advantage of this option is that it renders the American military presence in Iraq operationally accountable for Iraqi interests and not solely American strategic interests. It will also compel the American forces to take the question of training seriously.

- Rehabilitating the Iraqi army and revising security policies and methods of recruitment, training and organisation on a national as opposed to sectarian basis.

The same approach must be taken when addressing all remaining unjust provisions in the agreement. For example, on the question of immunity from prosecution granted to US soldiers regardless of their crimes or human rights abuses, the Arabs must press home the illegality and illegitimacy of this, if not within the framework of Iraqi law then within the framework of international law. As a practical step towards this end, the Arab group in the UN General Assembly can rally an international majority behind an international resolution guaranteeing Iraq's dignity and (presumed) independence. In fact, before this, the Arabs should appeal first to the Security Council, taking as their model that body's resolution regarding Lebanese domestic affairs adopted beneath the banner of the international community's desire to safeguard the sovereignty, stability and independence of Lebanon. Then, if this effort fails the Arabs can turn to the General Assembly.

It is perhaps difficult for the Arabs to come up with an alternative to American insistence on unrestricted access to Iraqi airspace. Washington's access to the airspace of any Arab country is based on a bilateral agreement signed in advance. Here, then, the Arabs could support the Iraqi rejection of such an encroachment on the principle of Iraqi sovereignty while underscoring the potential risks of including such a provision in the agreement. The most immediately danger is that US forces could use Iraqi airspace to strike Iran. In the longer run, those forces could use that airspace for military operations targeting certain areas or groups inside Iraq itself. The US alliance with the Shia in Iraq is not a Catholic marriage; if the situation between the US and Iran worsens, the Shia in Iraq can never be certain how the Americans will react. The same applies to the rest of the communities in Iraq under other circumstances.


As they deal with questions of this nature, the Arabs must keep direct and open lines of communication with Tehran, which perhaps has even more at stake in the short term. In view of the close relations between Iran and the Shia of Iraq, Arab-Iranian coordination over the question of the agreement is essential, especially given that the Arabs' direct influence inside Iraq at present is virtually negligible. Also, while Tehran has an immediate interest in altering some of the articles of the agreement and obtaining certain guarantees, the Arabs may well have no less of an interest in the long run in ensuring the emergence of an independent sovereign Iraq, or at least an Iraq that is not totally under American domination.

The agreement that Iraq's leadership and the US are planning to sign poses no less a challenge to the Arab countries than it does to Iraq and the Iraqi people. The role that the Arabs must play in this regard will be multifaceted and multitasked. Pointing to the ills of the agreement and bewailing Iraq's lost sovereignty will serve little purpose. What is needed, very urgently, is a single collective Arab stance that is practical and feasible. Even if the role the Arabs need to play is governed more by the demands of Arab welfare than by Iraqi needs, and even if there is no guarantee that the Arabs will succeed here, the fact that they worked together seriously and in concert will not only help save face (a secondary concern in view of the severity of the situation) but it will also help re-establish the bridges of Arab-Iraqi communication. In the future this should contribute, at least partially, to the reformulation of relations that have long lacked stability and equilibrium. I am speaking here not only of the relationship between the Iraqis and Arabs but also of the relations between the Iraqis and the Iranians, between Iran and the Arabs, and between the Americans and all the above.

* The writer is deputy managing editor of Al-Siyassa Al-Dawliya published by Al-Ahram.

Posted by: Michael of up West.Originally Manhattan.Now Jerusalem. | July 21, 2008 9:44 AM

5:32 PM;as my E@World 'jour gems' day draws to a close;

Mare Nostrum The Editorial of the current Weekly Al-Ahram

There is strength in diversity, so the adage goes. But such diversity is somewhat difficult to fathom. East meets West, North meets South. Islam and secularism meet. Syrians and Israelis talk about talks, or the possibility of talks. But all this diversity leaves the Germans miffed for not being briefed and consulted by their French hosts, and the Turks resentful and fearful that the new Gaulic Club Med is a ploy to keep them out of Europe.

The list of grievances goes on and on. However, most important of all is that we must not fool ourselves into believing that all is well unless the United States gets to have its say. The superpower, whether we like it or not, cannot be excluded from the Club Med. Yes, the US must not literally be a fully-fledged member of the Union for the Mediterranean, but it is bound to have a great influence behind the scene. Washington is the puppeteer, its allies Western or otherwise are the puppets, and the world is Washington's stage.

We can only hope that Club Med has reserved its penthouse suite for Uncle Sam, licking his wounds after the deaths on Sunday of nine United States soldiers at a remote outpost in eastern Afghanistan close to the Pakistan border.

The US might be a superpower, but it is not invincible. On top of this is the alarming news that capitalist America must bail out two of its most important property firms Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Will wonders never cease? It demonstrates that the state of the American economy is indeed in dire straits. Not only are American voters worried, but the whole wide world looks on in alarm.

The Democratic nominee Senator Barack Obama and his top advisers have repeatedly warned that the situation in Afghanistan and the frontier regions of Pakistan is critical. This surely must have a major impact on the US presidential elections, despite the fact that the economy has replaced the Iraq war as the issue about which voters are most concerned. Afghanistan, alas, required much more attention and resources than US President George W Bush has been willing to give it.

The nine US soldiers died when about 200 Taliban insurgents, reportedly from Pakistan, as well as Afghanistan, penetrated a recently built outpost in Kunar province in a coordinated assault. Fifteen other US troops and four Afghan army soldiers were also wounded in the raid. Recent incidents point to the growing military prowess of the Afghan insurgents, marked first by a major jailbreak in Kandahar in June and the influx of Taliban fighters into Kandahar Province in the south. The US death toll was the largest since 16 troops were killed when a military helicopter was shot down by the Taliban in Kunar three years ago. Obama and his advisers are right. Afghanistan is key to understanding the new world situation.

The visit to Afghanistan by the chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Michael Mullen, to Pakistan -- his fourth so far this year -- serves to highlight growing US unease, even exasperation, with its own inability to contain the rising power of the Taliban forces in Afghanistan and Pakistan. The omens bode ill. The power of militant Islamists might well spread to the rest of the world, and not just the Muslim world. They may even be found under your bed soon.


How does that fit in with the rosy world of the Mediterranean? Last Sunday's summit mattered, but let us get serious. Let us focus now on the vital concerns that dominate our lives: the food and fuel crises, the state of the American economy, the prowess of political Islam and a host of other challenges not least the Arab-Israeli conflict and the revival of the stalled Middle East peace process.

Posted by: Michael of up West.Originally Manhattan.Now Jerusalem. | July 21, 2008 10:33 AM

Opinions matter
When policies are imposed against the will of the majority affected, disaster and conflict are assured, writes James Zogby

It was 90 years ago this past week that then US president Woodrow Wilson delivered a speech elaborating his commitment to the principle of self-determination. Speaking on 4 July 1918, Wilson addressed what he called the four great "ends for which the people of the world are fighting".

One of these, he said, required that "the settlement of every question, whether of territory or sovereignty, of economic arrangement, or of political relationship, [should be determined] upon the basis of the free acceptance of that settlement by the people immediately concerned, and not upon the basis of material interest or advantage of any other nation or people which may desire a different settlement for the sake of its own exterior influence or mastery."

Though Wilson himself was not always consistent in the pursuit of this goal, his anti-colonial instinct put him at odds with US allies, Britain and France. In the aftermath of World War I, those two US allies had declared their ambitions to carve out "spheres of influence" in the Arab East. Having already concluded a pact among themselves to divide up the vast regions of the East, Britain and France sought international support for their goals.

Wilson challenged the allies with a proposal to ascertain the desires of the Arab peoples, commissioning two prominent Americans, Henry Churchill King and Charles R Crane, to go to the region and survey Arab attitudes. King and Crane set out to determine what Arabs wanted as their political future, whether to be independent or subordinated to a foreign power; how Arabs viewed both British and French plans to divide their region; and how Arabs viewed the intention of Britain to support the Zionist movement's goal of establishing a "Jewish homeland" in Palestine.

Since my brother John and I have long been involved in polling in the Arab world, the work of the King-Crane Commission is of special interest, as it was the first ever survey of Arab public opinion. First and foremost, King and Crane recognised that opinions mattered. As per Wilson's principle, they recognised that imposing policy without the agreement of the affected people would not work, since it would only generate resistance.

http://weekly.ahram.org.eg/2008/906/op5.htm (For verification;only.Entire text,here.)

Travelling throughout the Arab East for six weeks, the King-Crane Commission interviewed over 1,800 Arabs in the region that was to become Lebanon, Syria, Palestine and Jordan. What they found was that among the residents of what was to be Palestine, "if ... the wishes of Palestine's population are to be decisive as to what is to be done with Palestine, then it is to be remembered that the non-Jewish population of Palestine -- nearly nine-tenths of the whole -- are emphatically against the entire Zionist programme. [T]here is no one thing upon which the population of Palestine were more agreed upon than this."

That same feeling was shared by the broader population of the entire Arab East covered by their survey. The King-Crane report continued, "only two requests -- that for a united Syria and independence -- had larger support."

The British and French were unimpressed. Countered Lord Balfour, the British foreign minister, "in Palestine, we do not propose even to go through the form of consulting the wishes of the permanent inhabitants of the country, though the American commission has been going through the form of asking... Zionism, be it right or wrong, good or bad, is rooted in age-long traditions, in present needs, in future hopes, of far profounder import than the decisions and prejudices of the 700,000 Arabs who now inhabit that ancient land."

Facing strong dissent from isolationists in the Republican-led Senate, pressure from his European allies, and plagued by his own inconsistency, Wilson waffled. The British and the French had their way.


In the end, the Arab East was, in fact, carved into "spheres of influence" for Britain (Jordan and Palestine) and France (Lebanon and Syria). And many of the problems that plague the Middle East until today had their origin in that act.

It could have turned out differently. If the King-Crane findings had been heeded, the Zionist programme could have been modified (not disbanded), and ways would have been found to seek early reconciliation between those who sought a Jewish refuge and the aspirations of the indigenous people of the Arab East. This was not done. Instead, force was used to dismember the East and impose policies on an unwilling population.

Wilson's initial instinct was right. Opinions do matter. They did then, and still do today. Ignoring them, and implementing policies that do not have broad public support, only invites disastrous consequences. That was true then, and it is still true now.

The writer is president of the Arab American Institute.

Posted by: Michael of up West.Originally Manhattan.Now Jerusalem. | July 21, 2008 10:43 AM

Regretfully U.S. searing;But;

The bandwagon effect

IT'S AS IF the deaths on Sunday of nine US soldiers at a remote Afghan outpost were meant to dot the i's on US presidential hopeful Barack Obama's proposal -- now seconded by Republican presidential hopeful Senator John McCain -- to turn the focus from Iraq to Afghanistan, and to send 15,000 more US troops there.

A wave of 200 Taliban insurgents attacked from all sides and penetrated the Kunar redoubt, killing the troops and wounding 15 more -- a casualty rate of 50 per cent for the small American force. Four Afghan army soldiers were also wounded in the raid, which was eventually repelled after American warplanes dropped hundreds of pounds of bombs on the attackers, including a thermobaric anti-tank Hellfire missile which is widely condemned by human rights groups as especially barbaric. Despite this latest victory of the NATO forces, those still alive decided to retreat, tail between their legs, three days later.

Despite the Taliban's lack of outside support and the massive technical superiority and ruthlessness of the occupation, the insurgents have had several remarkable successes recently, including a major jailbreak in Kandahar in June which freed over 1,000 prisoners, followed by the liberation of 18 nearby villages.


Ending:Obama and McCain may have different assessments of Iraq, with Obama arguing it was a colossal mistake and a distraction from Afghanistan, and McCain supporting it even now, and saying US forces must apply the lessons of Iraq in Afghanistan, whatever that could possibly mean. But McCain has joined the Obama bandwagon on Afghanistan, and they are both calling for shifting troops there from Iraq and increasing "aid". Their common plan is to increase the toll on both sides ostensibly in order to bring peace and prosperity to the devastated country.

Posted by: Michael of up West.Originally Manhattan.Now Jerusalem. | July 21, 2008 10:51 AM

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U.S. Geo-Strategic Intelligence

Saeed Jalili's Pride

Iran's top nuclear negotiator and his boss Ahmadinejad see the nuclear program as a status symbol.

Jerusalem Post Sun.July 27,08 Comment & Features Lower front page Commentary.


After which my browes @bookstore downstairs,terminated by store management.

And That's the way it is; Sunday July 27,2008 8:53 AM PT +10;@my local;

West Jerusalem Central Bus Station. I'm Michael of the upper West Side;

Originally Manhattan. Now Jerusalem.

Sleep on;native America;while I go out @Life, also to acumen select current intelligence,for;

As 'jour gems' ,for fellow Humanity.

To Life!=לחיים PRIORITY 1 LIFE

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Segment of today's 'jour gems' for U.S. intel,also;

Both J'lem, Tehran silent on arms convoy blast

By Barak Ravid Page 2 upper right.

A blast that took place a week ago near Tehran wrecked a convoy of Revolutionary Guard Corps vehicles that was carrying arms to Hezbollah, according to a report Friday in the British daily The Telegraph. According to the report, the blast killed several people.

The Revolutionary Guards imposed a news blackout was imposed and opened an investigation into he possibility that the blast was the result of sabotage.


Mid-par.:Jerusalem has also not officially responded to the incident. The Prime Minister's Bureau said it was unfamiliar with the incident and therefore did not want to comment.

Ending:Israel says there are a number of ways for Iran to deliver weapons to Hezbollah. One is overland - by means of Iranian trains and trucks crossing Turkey and reaching Syria, where they unload the weapons and transfer them directly to Hezbollah via the border between Syria and Lebanon, which is wide-open.

In May 2007, a shipment of Iranian weapons bound for Hezbollah was discovered after the Iranian train that was carrying them derailed as it passed through Turkey.

Israeli sources say another means of delivering weapons is by air. Iranian planes loaded with munitions fly over Turkish air space and land at Damascus International Airport, where the weapons are unloaded. From there they are transferred in trucks to the Lebanese border.

According to the Telegraph report, there have been a number of mysterious explosions recently in Iran. One occurred at a mosque in Shiraz where a military exhibition was taking place, and another took place at a missile site, killing a number of technicians.

News in Brief Page 2 Bottom; Final Item 2:

Former Mossad Chief Ephraim Halevy told Time magazine in an interview published Thursday that an Israeli attack on Iran "could have an impact on us for the next 100 years," and should only be considered as a last resort. Halevy added that an Iranian attack on Israel would probably have little impact, because Iranian missiles would largely be intercepted by Israel's advanced anti-missile defense system. The magazine also quoted intelligence sources as saying that an Israeli attack on Iran would likely stall the Islamic republic's nuclear aspirations only by "a year or two." (Haaretz Service)

Opinion & Comment

The legacy of the tahadiyeh

By Aluf Benn

The most important strategic development during Ehud Olmert's term in office has been the tahadiyeh with Hamas in Gaza. But it is doubtful that the prime minister thinks so. He presented the agreement as a necessary evil and called his indirect interlocutors "despicable and bloodthirsty terrorists." We can understand him: No festivities accompany such arrangements, nor are there Nobel Prizes or spectacular signings on lawns - only shared interests and mutual recognition that not everything may be obtained by force. But the tahadiyeh, much more than the Annapolis process, is generating deep-seated change in Palestinian-Israeli relations.

Three years after the disengagement, 15 years after Oslo, Israel faces an independent Palestinian entity with full security and civilian responsibilities for a contiguous area in which there are no Israeli soldiers or settlers. Finally there is someone prepared and able to manage Gaza "with no High Court and no B'Tselem," as Yitzhak Rabin hoped. Finally there is an authentic Palestinian leadership that rose from the grassroots and demonstrates discipline and enforcement abilities. Finally the buds of mutual deterrence are emerging that may bring calm to the border.

For better or worse, "Hamastan" is the pilot program of the Palestinian state - the laboratory for a permanent-status agreement.


Ending:Stability: "The lull is fragile and will be short-term," Olmert warned. That is why the common interest in continuing it must be nurtured, and it must be understood that occasional outbursts of violence do not necessarily spell the end of the tahadiyeh. The cease-fire in the North survived the Second Lebanon War and was resumed immediately at its conclusion. That can happen in the South, too.

With you in war, but not in peace

By Zvi Bar'el

Truly simpatico, the presumptive Democratic U.S. presidential nominee. His suit is well-tailored, his step is assured and his smile winning. Did you see in Sderot how he stood there looking at the exhibition of Qassam shrapnel, how at Yad Vashem he laid the wreath so appropriately and how he recited the words so carefully crafted by his advisers? He sidestepped every land mine, no question received an answer that deviated from the standard federal response. Condoleezza Rice - even George W. Bush - could have signed off on every word.

And that is precisely the problem. The American workshop casts its presidential candidates in a predetermined mold. It plants in their mouths well-programmed texts that will match the imaginary meeting point of the lines crossing the United States from New York to Los Angeles, from Minnesota to Texas. Foreign policy does not bring in the voters unless it is part of domestic policy. That is why Iraq and Afghanistan, which are taking the lives of American soldiers, are part of domestic policy. That is, they are taking part in the elections. On the other hand, the deployment of antitank missiles in Europe is of interest mainly to foreign-news editors, the Israeli-Arab conflict is of interest to many U.S. academics in a small number of universities and a few well-funded research institutions, and officials in the Pentagon and the State Department. They're not exactly a majority.

Let's be precise. Israel is definitely part of U.S. domestic policy, but its conflict is not.


Ending:So be it. Israelis don't exactly love it when American Jews give them advice. Israel has also tended to reject most American proposals for solving the conflict. Obama and his advisers know full well the history of these peace plans. They also see before them the still-warm body of Bush's latest initiative. Could Obama be expected to present to the region a new America, one that treats the Israeli-Arab conflict with unfathomable seriousness, like for example the economic crisis or the Iranian threat? Will Israel's withdrawal from the territories earn a status similar to that of the U.S. withdrawal from Iraq?

The measured slogans uttered by Obama in Israel or in Jordan don't point to this. At this stage the candidate who is trying to gain the White House can be forgiven rather than judged over the exact ratio of salt to sugar in his speeches. But it is best to adopt a realistic approach. The U.S. will be there for Israel when the cannons roar. When it comes to peace, Israel will be on its own. No new American leadership, Democratic or Republican, will fight that war for it.

End of segment for U.S. intel.

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Tra La La La La;It's August 08;First Friday morning in Central West Jerusalem;Now @9:19 AM ET +7;

Fellow Intels;A Brand new Al-Ahram Weekly has appeared on the W.w.w.;& Say,my first 3 selections for my U.S. newspapers forums;Far & Thin;also to interest U.S. intels;as us.

But first @here;I take this relaxed early opportunity,to wish ALL;שבת שלום= Sabbath Peace; From Jerusalem.

To Life!=לחיים Pronounced Le Chaim.


Beautiful to behold
Iran responds to the West's package of incentives with rhetorical rather than confrontational posturing, writes Sherine Bahaa

On Saturday, the deadline set for Iran to declare its position regarding the freeze-for-freeze formula offered by the six world powers -- the United States, France, Britain, Germany, Russia and China -- in Geneva talks earlier this month, comes to an end. According to this formula, Iran would not add to its nuclear programme, and the US and other powers would not seek new international sanctions for six weeks to pave the way for formal negotiations. The proposal was originally offered to Iran last year and presented again to Tehran last month as part of a new proposal to ultimately give Iran economic and political incentives if it stops producing enriched uranium.

At a news conference after the negotiations Tehran gave no clear reply. Indeed, Tehran evaded the question every time it was raised. The meeting at Geneva's City Hall was one of the most important public encounters between Iranian and American officials since relations were halted after the American Embassy was seized in Tehran in 1979.

Iranians are sure that sending the third highest ranking official in US administration, William Burns, to meet with its Chief Nuclear Negotiator Said Jalili is an opportunity for more fruitful negotiations.

At the press conference, Jalili refused to say whether Iran would accept a freeze of its uranium enrichment programme. But he called the negotiating process a "very beautiful endeavour" with a result that he hoped would eventually be "beautiful to behold."


Other meetings have been authorised in the past. Madeleine Albright, as secretary of state, for example, once sat at the same table with then Iranian Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi and other emissaries at the United Nations to discuss Afghanistan. Colin Powell, as secretary of state, once shook Kharrazi's hand. American and Iranian officials have met episodically in Baghdad to discuss Iraq's security.

But now that the Bush administration has made such "an about- face", Iran has the space to make concessions without losing face itself.

The US administration has always linked any direct talks with the Iranians to an announced halt to the Persian state's nuclear activity.

In a rare interview with the American Broadcaster, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad told NBC TV, "Today, we see new behaviour shown by the United States. My question is: is such behaviour rooted in a new approach? In other words, mutual respect, cooperation and justice. Or, is this approach a continuation in the confrontation with Iranian people but in a new guise?"


Iranian leaders know that as long as they stop short of weaponisation, neither the Europeans nor the US military will approve an attack on Iran, with all its potentially devastating consequences for Western security. An attack will open up disastrous splits not only between the US and Europe, but possibly within the US security establishment itself.

Asked whether Iran would consider ceasing uranium enrichment -- a key demand of the US and other UN Security Council members, who have slapped three rounds of sanctions on Iran for its refusal to halt its nuclear programme -- Ahmadinejad said the Islamic Republic is "a great nation with a great economy". NBC quoted Ahmadinejad as saying that Iran is not scared of US bullying. "We are living in the 21st century."

Iran has threatened to blockade the Straits of Hormuz, an export channel for a quarter of the world's oil, if its nuclear facilities are targeted.

Oil is another potential for Iran. The country is the second-largest oil producer in the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and has vast economic potential.

More than promises
Iraqi Shia leader Ammar Al-Hakim speaks of the need to rebuild ties with Egypt and Arabs in interview with Salah Hemeid

For more than five years, Egypt, a Sunni Arab powerhouse, has been reluctant to invite top leaders of Iraq's ruling Shia factions to Cairo for fear that direct public contacts would send the wrong message -- that it condones the way Shia groups are handling the situation in Iraq.

Shia officials who have made the trip to Egypt since the 2003 US-led war were here either in official capacity or doing government-to-government business. Like many other Sunni Arab governments, Egypt views improvement of relations with Iraq as linked to ending Iranian influence in the chaos-stricken country and the establishment of a more representative government in Baghdad that gives Iraqi Sunnis a larger role.

Ammar Al-Hakim, deputy leader of the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI), a key partner in Prime Minister Nuri Al-Maliki's coalition government, travelled this week to Cairo in an attempt to alleviate that kind of mistrust in talks with senior Egyptian officials and Arab League Secretary-General Amr Moussa. In interview with Al-Ahram Weekly, Al-Hakim underlined that his message to Egypt and all Arabs is that Iraqi Shias are not Iran's stooges and they won't maintain close ties with the Persian nation at the expense of historic ties with their Arab brethren.



On another related issue that worries most Sunni Arabs, the rise of Shias in the region following the 2003 war that empowered Iraqi Shia and sparked fear of polarisation, Al-Hakim appears keen to carry another reassuring message. "We differentiate between two things: Shiism, which is only an interpretation of Islam and dedication to the family of the Prophet Mohamed, and any political project." Shiism, he said "is only a [religious] sect and not a political party and it is wrong to associate all the Arab Shias with one political project or a specific political agenda." He stressed: "Arab Shias are sons of their own countries and like Sunnis they should maintain their local identity."

Yet, Al-Hakim does not hide his resentment towards rising anti-Shia sentiment, including accusations of loyalty to Iran and allegations of a push to dominate the region. "On the other hand, its harmful to raise doubts about the Arab Shias' loyalty to their countries and to accuse them of harbouring a foreign agenda," he said. "Shias are citizens of their own countries and they are governed by their national specificity," he added.

It is not clear what response Al-Hakim has received from Egyptian officials he met as Egyptian state media kept his five-day visit low profile. One thing that was crystal clear, however, is that although Egypt cares about Iraq and its well being, it cannot hide its fears and strong distaste for present conditions in that Arab country.

Anatomy of power
Ayman El-Amir* explores common denominators between dictators the world over

After years of hiding in broad daylight, self-styled Bosnian-Serb leader Radovan Karadzic has been captured and will soon stand trial before The Hague International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia charged with crimes against humanity. The world may be one war criminal less but many keep wondering how, after a century of world wars, civil wars, ethnic cleansing and a host of crimes against humanity new tyrants and violent dictators keep surfacing. Despite differences in motivation, political circumstances and the extent of their crimes they all share one common trait, the intrinsic lust for power.

Power has assumed new definitions and functions. It no longer encompasses the old, almost naïve ideal of "power of the people, by the people, for the people"; it is now power over people, with the pretense of serving them despite their will.

Absolute power is a necessary instrument to rule unopposed for an indeterminable period of time, to go to war or to commit genocide or ethnic cleansing in the name of the people. This was the case in Nazi Germany, the Stalinist Soviet Union, Ceausecu's Romania, Pinochet's Chile, Saddam's Iraq, Sierra Leone, Rwanda and Srebrenica. In the Arab Middle East autocracy rules supreme and liquidates its opponents quietly, using more subtle tactics under different names and laws.

Karadzic, like his deceased godfather Slobodan Milosevic, was not born a serial killer.


Following par.:

During the Bosnian war and the mass slaughter of 8,000 men and boys in Srebrenica in July 1995 Karadzic was astounded by Western reaction to the genocide. He could not comprehend how Western countries failed to understand that his armed militias were doing the civilised world a favour by holding back the hordes of Muslim savages, the Turks as he called them. According to a New York Times reporter, on the night of 12-13 July, when Bosnian Serb forces under the command of General Ratko Mladic, another commander wanted for charges of genocide, rounded up several hundred youths a soldier smilingly told his commanding officer after the victims were led into the woods and shot in the back of the head: "It was a good hunt tonight, sir. There were a lot of rabbits in the bush".

Caution; If sleep is what your looking forward to; Don't read the following mid-par.It's U.S. citizens,Staggering! :

That is what Hitler and his Nazi lieutenants did to the Jews in their "final solution" strategy during World War II, what leaders like Augusto Pinochet did to the opposition in Chile, staging a US planned military coup to save the country from the danger of communism, and what the Israelis are doing to the Palestinians in the name of fighting terrorism. President George W Bush borrowed the same tactics to invade Iraq and Afghanistan, to intimidate Congress after 11 September into enacting Patriot Acts I and II which appalled human rights activists and organisations, and to scare the American people into re-electing him for a second term, painting himself as the only candidate capable of protecting them against a recurrence of 11 September. The humanitarian crisis in Darfur, Sudan, also demonstrates the pre- eminence of power over reason.


Arab despots have given up many of the attributes of historic dictators: no charisma, no cult of personality, no delusion of grandeur and no frantic adulation by the masses. But they have one thing in common: the drive for life-long power and reluctance to introduce an institutional successor.

A curious paradox is that at the time when some monarchies and emirates, particularly in the Gulf, are experimenting with participatory democracy at the legislative level, other old-time republican regimes are edging slowly, but determinedly, towards a form of feudal monarchy where pluralism and participatory democracy are the veneer but all real power rests with one person. The only genuine hope is that the resistance of the people is getting stiffer and the instruments of modern communication are empowering them to challenge the pretense of sham democracy.

* The writer is former Al-Ahram correspondent in Washington, DC. He also served as director of United Nations Radio and Television in New York.

Posted by: Michael of up West.Orig.Manhattan.Now Jerusalem | August 1, 2008 2:28 AM

Clouds over Kirkuk
Postponing Iraq's provincial elections might be Washington's and Baghdad's favoured position now, writes Saif Nasrawi

The Kurds are particularly angered by an article in the draft law which called for a 32 per cent equal representations in Kirkuk's governing bodies to be granted for Kurds, Arabs and Turkoman, while the remaining four per cent of the city's local councils will go to the Christian minority. Following the parliament's vote, Kurdish leader Masoud Barzani rushed to Baghdad for talks with his Shia allies to try to resolve the crisis. The head of SIIC, Abdul-Aziz Al-Hakim, later issued a statement stressing the need for national consensus. Barzani, on his side, asked Iraqi leaders to study Kurdish objections to the draft law and propose solutions within 48 hours.

A committee of Iraqi parliamentarians from different political groups was formed to study the unresolved issues and try to reach a compromise. Two days before the parliament goes into summer recess, members of the committee announced Monday that reaching a consensus over the controversial law "is becoming quite impossible before the parliament's vacation".

The Kirkuk issue has always been considered a flashpoint that could blow up over the next couple of months. Kurds are demanding control while Iraqi Arabs are resisting. The conflict has been seen as a crisis in waiting between Arabs, Turkoman and Kurds. Many Iraqi Arabs believe that Kurds not only want to control the northern city of Kirkuk, which contains almost 15 per cent of Iraq's oil reserves, but they plan to annex three other provinces where Kurds live: Diyala, Salahuddin and Ninewa. By vetoing the election law they would limit the Kurds' ability to press their gains there.


Lateish segment:

Khaled Al-Attiya, a deputy parliament speaker, said Monday that objections to a draft provincial law are making it difficult to hold the elections as planned this fall. He added that elections could be further delayed because of the need to update election registration records in early 2009.

Alongside the Kurds' insistence on keeping their five-year strong grip over Kirkuk that could be challenged by the current provincial elections law, SIIC and the IIP also fear that the outcome of provincial elections would undermine their dominance over Iraq's central and southern provinces. The SIIC is not confident because their main rival, the Sadrists, maintain strong military, tribal and social networks, a structure that the SIIC does not enjoy despite the government's US financial and military backing.


The nearly 110,000 Sunni leaders and fighters of the Awakening Councils, which were created by the Americans last year as part of the "surge strategy", are expected to win a landslide majority in the local elections, capitalising on their strong tribal networks and their military achievements against Al-Qaeda in the main Sunni areas of Anbar, Salahuddin and Mosul provinces.

The failed assassination attempt of Zaki Al-Kobaissi, a senior leader of the IIP and a member of the Anbar provincial council, on Sunday could be a reflection of the underlying and so far "controlled" competition among Sunni groups. Two of Al-Kobaissi's bodyguards were killed while he escaped with minor wounds when a bomb exploded inside the garage of his home.

Given the issues at stake, Al-Maliki's government might be pushed, unwillingly, to delay solving Iraq's central struggles again. "Everybody in the government seems content to postpone the local elections, which could spark an even worse civil strife," a senior Iraqi official said. "US officials are also now more reluctant to push the government to hold the elections, fearing that it could indirectly give credit to (US Democratic presidential candidate Barack) Obama's stance on Iraq," the official told the Weekly.

He added that the Americans fear undermining security gains ahead of November's US presidential elections. Obama, who visited Iraq, last week, reaffirmed his position that a timetable for US military withdrawal from Iraq would force the integration of Arab Sunnis into the political process.

Posted by: Michael of up West.Orig.Manhattan.Now Jerusalem | August 1, 2008 3:49 AM

Time for US-Iran détente
Finally common sense in US-Iran relations appears to be breaking the clouds, writes Muqtedar Khan*

For the past two years Iran and its nuclear programme have dominated America's foreign policy agenda. Iran's refusal to halt enriching uranium, which in its opinion it is entitled to do as a signatory of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty but that the West believes is an effort to develop nuclear weapons, and the oft repeated statement by Mahmoud Ahmadinejad that, "Israel will soon disappear from the map" have made Iran enemy number one in the eyes of the West.

But now there seems to be a change occurring in US-Iranian relations and prospects for détente seem real. Now not only is Ahmadinejad saying nice things about US diplomats, but also Iran is responding positively to US overtures.

American failures in Iraq, in Afghanistan, on energy pricing, in housing and financial markets, in addition to the weakening of the dollar, have handcuffed the Bush administration. Else we would have surely witnessed a war against Iran. Lack of domestic appetite for another war that would surely shoot oil prices further through the roof has removed the use of force option from the table. The Bush administration, after asserting for years that it will not talk to Iran unless it agrees to all Western demands, is now engaging in direct negotiations. The decision to send William Burns, a very senior US diplomat, to meet with Iran's nuclear negotiator along with Europeans last week clearly signals a significant shift in US policy.

It remains to be seen, however, whether this is an isolated episode or the beginning of a new modality in US-Iran relations. Talk that the US might even announce the opening of a US "interests section" in Iran next month, which has already been welcomed by the Iranians, is genuinely path breaking. If President Bush follows through, there is no doubt in my mind that Iran could become an important partner of the US in shaping the emerging Middle East.

But before the US and Iran can start normalising relations it is important that the mutual demonisation that both sides have indulged in be deconstructed. Iran has been painting the US as a "Great Satan" and the source of all evils in the Middle East while the US has consistently labelled Iran as a terrorist sponsor and as a threat to global peace.


Reports from Iran clearly suggest that Iranians are alienated from, and disgusted with, their own leadership and its failure to provide better governance and to deliver on populist promises made in electoral speeches. Their resentment is manifesting in higher regard and esteem for the US, negating the anti-US rhetoric of some of Iran's leaders. Azadeh Moaveni wrote in The Washington Post, 1 June 2008, "it might startle some Americans to realise that Iran has one of the most pro- American populations in the Middle East."

Scholars of the Middle East have repeatedly pointed out this paradox of US foreign policy. The US had become most hostile to the people who were most favourably disposed towards the US in the Middle East. It will take little to win the Iranians over. A gesture of friendship from Bush, a surprise visit to Tehran by Rice, or a gift of six passenger aircraft, should be enough to send Ahmadinejad packing in the elections due in 2009.


The perception that a nuclear Iran ruled by a madman poses a major threat to the world is the driving force behind Western paranoia about Iran. A sensible foreign policy from Washington is not possible until this misperception is deconstructed. Iran is not a threat; it is not capable of posing a serious threat. Iran's air force is defunct. Its economy is in a bad shape. High oil prices do not help Iran too much since it is a net importer of gasoline and its crude oil exports are inferior to its competitors. Add to this the fact that the US, France, Britain and Israel all have powerful air forces and huge stockpiles of nuclear weapons.

Additionally Islamic Iran has not invaded any country for any reason since the revolution in 1979; a record that neither the US nor Israel can match given the US's unnecessary invasion of Iraq in 2003 and Israel's overreaction in Lebanon in 2006.

Both Iran and the US now have an extraordinary opportunity to change their mutual destinies. Will they?

* The writer is director of Islamic Studies at the University of Delaware and fellow of the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding.

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