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About WMD’s. He did it to oust Hussein.  Duh.

I’m sure Bush, Cheney, and company will now offer their heartfelt apologies for going to war on a lie.

Although one wonders why we need 50,000 troops to stay behind now that it’s over.

Heard on the radio this morning that the month of July was the bloodiest month in over two years in terms of Iraqi deaths in excess of 500.  The US military is disputing the numbers, but I”m not sure what the motive would be for the Iraqi government to inflate them.

Obama says that 90 thousand troops are being “brought home,” which is good news; but are they coming home or being redeployed to Afghanistan?

I’m probably in a minority of one who doesn’t find the shoe incident particularly funny, especially not after hearing/reading reports that the individual is being tortured in custody.  However, I haven’t had time to read up with any kind of depth.  I’m not going to get in to the debate over whether the action was appropriate, nor whether it should be considered a symbolic protest rather than an assault.  I’m more concerned with the fallout.  Does anybody have a link to a story to get me caught up?

Hopefully I’ll have something intelligent to say about it later.

McCain yesterday on CNN discussing timetables:

First the Iraqi government gave Senator Barack Obama a boost by seeming to embrace his proposal for a 16-month timetable for withdrawing American troops from Iraq. But could Senator John McCain, who built his candidacy in large part on his opposition to a timetable for withdrawal from Iraq, possibly be following suit?

“I think it’s a pretty good timetable,” Mr. McCain said Friday in an interview on CNN’s “The Situation Room,’’ before adding that it should be based “on the conditions on the ground.’’

For months Mr. McCain, the presumptive Republican nominee, has railed against setting timetables for withdrawing from Iraq, and has criticized Mr. Obama, his Democratic rival, for suggesting one. But in recent days the debate has shifted as Iraqi officials, including Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, moved closer to Mr. Obama’s position.

In the interview on CNN Mr. McCain first seemed to downplay any possibility that Mr. Maliki would actually ask for the United States to withdraw its troops in the next 16 months to two years. “He won’t,’’ he said, explaining that he knows Mr. Maliki well.

Then, asked why he thinks Mr. Maliki had called 16 months a pretty good timetable, Mr. McCain gave his enigmatic answer.

“He said it’s a pretty good timetable based on conditions on the ground,’’ Mr. McCain said. “I think it’s a pretty good timetable, as we should — or horizons for withdrawal. But they have to be based on conditions on the ground. This success is very fragile. It’s incredibly impressive, but very fragile. So we know, those of us who have been involved in it for many years, know that if we reverse this, by setting a date for withdrawal, all of the hard-won victory can be reversed.’’

Now, can someone educate me on the whole Iraq-Pakistan border issue and the subsequent CBS editing of the interview to mitigate matters for McCain?

Addendum: Obama in Berlin, Ich bin nicht Bush. You can find the whole speech pretty easily at Youtube.

Second addendum: Great post at Kos entitled “McCain tries to throw election, Media won’t let him.” For those who can’t generate the energy to hit the link, here are the last two paragraphs:

Meanwhile the situation has risen to the level of Theater of the Absurd. The media is now hammering the theme that they are favoring Obama. I always knew that the Right would push this theme, but they don’t have to. It is now all over the news. Apparently equal coverage is required for a speech before 20 in Berlin, Ohio and a speech before 200,000 in Berlin, Germany. Obama was gracious enough to take the McCain advice and make the trip, now he is being accused of overstepping his role as a candidate.The media’s motivation is not a mystery, rather a multiple choice question. Clearly they have an interest in keeping the race competitive. They have always been intimidated by claims they have a liberal bias. They seem to crave respect from the right wing audience, and they seem to also crave Senator McCain’s friendship. Or perhaps it is out of deference to a preexisting good relationship with the Senator that they are showing him such kindness.

Meanwhile, the post title of the week from Jake Tapper: “New McCain ad bashes Obama for not visiting the troops using footage of Obama visiting the troops.”

From the German paper Der Spiegel:

In an interview with SPIEGEL, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki said Barack Obama’s 16 timeframe for a withdrawal from Iraq is the right one. Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki supports US presidential candidate Barack Obama’s plan to withdraw US troops from Iraq within 16 months. When asked in and interview with SPIEGEL when he thinks US troops should leave Iraq, Maliki responded “as soon as possible, as far as we are concerned.” He then continued: “US presidential candidate Barack Obama talks about 16 months. That, we think, would be the right timeframe for a withdrawal, with the possibility of slight changes.”

Now, normally it might have taken days for the story to break in the US press. Maybe it wouldn’t have received any attention at all. But somebody in the Bush administration, intending to distribute the story to an internal e-mail list, accidentally “hit the wrong button” and sent it to a much wider list. The unemployment rate probably just jumped one.

Obama’s camp seized on the opportunity:

The national security adviser to the Obama campaign, Susan Rice, said the senator welcomed Maliki’s support.“This presents an important opportunity to transition to Iraqi responsibility, while restoring our military and increasing our commitment to finish the fight in Afghanistan,” Rice said in a statement Saturday.

Ezra Klein of the American Prospect explains the significance of the development.

To really understand the importance of Maliki’s comments, you need to consider their opposite. Imagine if Maliki had walked in front of the cameras and said, “at this stage, a timetable for withdrawal is unrealistic, and we hope our American friends will not bow to domestic political pressures and be hasty in leaving Iraq just as the country improves.” It would be a transformative moment in this election. John McCain would talk of nothing else. The cable shows would talk of nothing else. Magazines would run thousands of covers about “Obama’s Iraq Problem.” Obama would probably lose the race.

So how should McCain respond? Probably they just keep their cool and let it ride out, hope Obama makes some more centrist concessions, and harp on those as flip flops once Obama is back and his trip is no longer making news. But he’s got two problems coming out of this.

1. Obama is starting to look like a statesman internationally. That’s cutting into the one advantage the talking heads are giving to McCain.

2. McCain made a comment way back in 2005 to the effect that if the Iraqi government asked us to leave, we would have to leave. Having already flip flopped on long term presence, he will be hard pressed to flip flop on Iraqi sovereignty. Right now McCain’s simply in denial.

Addendum – McCain strategist: “We’re f#$%ed!”

As one poster remarked, the timeline is popular with the Iraqi people and so Maliki’s hand may be forced by prevailing politics. But I wonder if the Bush people didn’t somehow manage to piss them off like they’ve done with pretty much everyone else.

And this goes beyond the presidential election. It could actually mean and end to the war, or our part in it anyway.

Expect from McCain over the next week: “…but, but, but… it was the surge! I deserve credit because I supported the surge!”

Second addendumMaliki: “So far the Americans have had trouble agreeing to a concrete timetable for withdrawal, because they feel it would appear tantamount to an admission of defeat.”

Third addendum: McCain, it turns out, does not believe in Iraqi sovereignty, making this flip-flop number 62. He doesn’t care what Maliki says.

“His domestic politics require him to be for us getting out,” said a senior McCain campaign official, speaking on the condition of anonymity. “The military says ‘conditions based’ and Maliki said ‘conditions based’ yesterday in the joint statement with Bush. Regardless, voters care about [the] military, not about Iraqi leaders.”

An Obama official, also speaking on background, asks:

“So given that al-Maliki said today that it’s time for an official timetable and that Obama “is right when he talks about 16 months,” will McCain honor that commitment and call for withdrawal or change his position that we should leave Iraq if asked?”

Fourth addendum: Looks like Malaki is trying to backtrack (no doubt he got an earful from Bush or a surly surrogate), but it’s too late. In fact, I think this is a tactical error which will only draw the whole discussion out longer. The cat’s out of the bag, and it’s the second time he’s said it. Note he’s not saying precisely how he was “misquoted.”

Fifth addendum: Turns out, Malaki’s only clarification was to emphasize that he’s not endorsing Obama for president. Even Fox reports it this way.

Sixth addendum: Telling quote from Sen. McCain:

“Could I mention the presence of my friend, Congressman Steve Pearce, who I believe will be joining me in the United States Senate?”

– Sen. John McCain, quoted by Politico, apparently planning to still be in the Senate next year.

A reminder – Clif Clendenen will be holding an event at Beginnings tomorrow evening beginning at 6 p.m. Despite what the initial posters said, the event is free. Lot’s of food. Music (including Steel Toed Slippers). Fun for the whole family. All are welcome regardless of campaign affiliation or endorsement.

….

Cristina Bauss will sub in for me on All Things Reconsidered tonight. I believe the topic will be Richardson Grove.

….

CNN spent a couple of hours on yesterday’s 5th anniversary of the war asking “was the war worth fighting?” The mainstream media framing leaves me cold often, but on this occasion I was ready to toss the television out the window (unfortunately, it’s not mine). The question is not whether it’s “worth” anything. The question is whether we have the right to attack a country which is no threat to us, however bad the regime may be – unless perhaps we are attempting to prevent genocide. But the genocide took place 20 years ago while he remained an ally against Iran.

The conclusion? Well, if you take Wolf Blitzer and company to heart, it’s not about the mistakes of the past. It’s about what McCain will do in the future. The initial war support wasn’t an error in judgment because “everybody” made the same mistake – except Obama of course, but his stand doesn’t count because he wasn’t yet in the Senate.

….

I am of course with my family in Monterey. I have fond memories, but as I’ve said previously, it’s no Santa Cruz.

Monterey’s alternative newspaper readers chose Starbucks as the county’s number one coffee house. Did I mention that Monterey is not Santa Cruz? Their number one bookstore is Borders.

….

Oddly enough, the seafood selection at Shopsmart in Redway is far superior to most anything I found today as I was hunting for wild caught shrimp. I finally found a specialty store in Monterey proper named Sea Harvest where the selection was maybe slightly better than Redway’s. More evidence we live in a blessed place.

…..

The parking meters in Monterey are electronic. They reset when you move your car. I wonder how long it took for that technology to pay for itself. Also annoying is the fact that the machines only accept quarters.

….

I’ve shut down the comments in the last Reggae thread. I don’t have time to clean it up.

….

Yours to the revolution.

Extra points to the first poster who can name the American novelist who used to sign off his letters that way. No, it wasn’t Steinbeck.

There’s an upsurge in Iraq violence over the past few days and we were almost in a violent melee with Iran.

I’ll post more about both later.

Addendum: There are some questions about the official account.

The photo comes from the same IPS page.

I was just perusing the Media Matters site when I came across this gem. It’s a couple of months old, but it deserves all the attention it can get because I really think this is how many Iraq war supporters think.

Fred Barnes is a conservative political commentator, formerly with the New Republic, but now a fixture at Fox. Barnes on Barack Obama:

On the October 6 edition of Fox News’ The Beltway Boys, co-host and Weekly Standard executive editor Fred Barnes claimed that Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) is “not in quite as strong a position on the war in Iraq as he really thinks he is.” He explained that when Obama delivered his 2002 speech against going to war with Iraq, “it was back in a time when the entire world believed Saddam Hussein in Iraq had weapons of mass destruction, that he would probably be willing to use them himself at some time or pass them along to terrorists who would use them. And yet, Barack Obama was against going to the war at that point.” According to Barnes: “I don’t think that shows that he is very strong on national security, which he needs to be.”

So basically, Obama’s weak on security because he was one of the few national political figures who didn’t buy the administration’s WMD claims hook, line, and sinker. Basically, those of us who knew it was being hyped because we’d seen it all before and bothered to remember really didn’t know the claims were being hyped and we were just lucky that our assumptions just happened to turn out to be correct. It certainly wasn’t that we were reading international and even some domestic intelligence reports which told us that Hussein was not a threat.

Actually, what amazed me is how correct we turned out to be. I really expected them to turn up something. Way back when I interviewed David McReynolds (Socialist Party presidential candidate in 1980 and 2000) on KMUD a couple of months after the war broke out I asked him whether he expected us to find WMDs. His response: “Certainly. Just as I expect cops who shoot a suspect to death to find a gun on his person.” Point is, we never even found something solid enough for the administration to hype. Yet some pro-war folk chastise those of us who were right from the beginning, I suspect to preempt an “I-told-you-so.” Bottom line: we should have believed out government, and it was a lack of virtue on our part that ultimately made us right.

Meanwhile, here’s a portion of Obama’s speech:

That’s what I’m opposed to. A dumb war. A rash war. A war based not on reason but on passion, not on principle but on politics. Now let me be clear — I suffer no illusions about Saddam Hussein. He is a brutal man. A ruthless man. A man who butchers his own people to secure his own power. He has repeatedly defied UN resolutions, thwarted UN inspection teams, developed chemical and biological weapons, and coveted nuclear capacity. He’s a bad guy. The world, and the Iraqi people, would be better off without him.But I also know that Saddam poses no imminent and direct threat to the United States, or to his neighbors, that the Iraqi economy is in shambles, that the Iraqi military a fraction of its former strength, and that in concert with the international community he can be contained until, in the way of all petty dictators, he falls away into the dustbin of history. I know that even a successful war against Iraq will require a US occupation of undetermined length, at undetermined cost, with undetermined consequences. I know that an invasion of Iraq without a clear rationale and without strong international support will only fan the flames of the Middle East, and encourage the worst, rather than best, impulses of the Arab world, and strengthen the recruitment arm of Al Qaeda. I am not opposed to all wars. I’m opposed to dumb wars.

But what difference does it make now, right? The “surge” has won the war. I know it’s true because I saw it on television.

Photo of Barnes comes from his Fox News page.


From the Times Standard:

… What’s most alarming to me is that while I received that information two months ago, the Bush Administration knew about it well before I did, yet the president continued with his war bravado,” said Thompson. “As recently as October, he said that Iran’s efforts to create nuclear technology could result in World War III”

….

“It is inappropriate that an administration which led our country into an ill-advised war in Iraq based on faulty intelligence could be so apparently irresponsible with intelligence on Iran,” Thompson said.

Thompson obviously isn’t Hindu.

I previously posted about the Kurdish war on Iran, and the Islamic solidarity elements of the anti-war movement assuming that the Kurdish groups were operating in conjunction with the American destabilization efforts. You’ve no doubt read the more recent news of fighting between Turks and the same Kurdish nationalists. Well, may to confound the anti-war movement, it turns out that we are providing intelligence assistance to Turkey in suppressing the Kurdish movement. This represents a change in policy.

From the Guardian (still haven’t found any mention in the American media, although the reporter is AP):

Pentagon officials are now starting to say publicly that the U.S. is flying manned spy planes over the border area, providing Turkey with more intelligence information, and that there are standing orders for American forces to capture rebels they find.

Only last Friday, the U.S. commander in northern Iraq, Maj. Gen Benjamin Mixon, said he planned to do “absolutely nothing” to counter Kurdish rebels operating from the region.

But the top American commander in Iraq, in comments that appeared aimed at allaying Turkish frustration over the matter, said Sunday the U.S. military was playing a role in trying to defuse tensions.

Gen. David Petraeus declined to elaborate. Since then, however, Pentagon officials have detailed a number of examples to undermine the rebels of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, holed up in bases in northern Iraq.

“`We are assisting the Turks in their efforts to combat the PKK by supplying them with intelligence, lots of intelligence,” Defense Department press secretary Geoff Morrell said.

And so far I can’t find any comment from the Kurdish region provisional government.

Update: The Kurdish Prime Minister has weighed in against the PKK. There will probably be some political fallout, particularly if he’s perceived as being an appeaser towards Turkey. This is all in the wake of PKK attacks on Turkish forces in September which resulted in the deaths of a number of Turkish troops. They seem to be doing quite well against Iranian forces as well. All of the sudden the PKK has everybody worried.

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