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FRIDAY, June 30, 2006
MONDAY through THURSDAY, June 26 through 29, 2006
SUNDAY, June 25, 2006
Vacations are great! Not the ones where you just take a few days off in your usual surroundings...but the ones where you get out of town. We did just that last week: riding the waves of the Atlantic, playing a little golf, soaking up sun....I came back with nothing to grouse at. But that was then. This is now. "I'm baaack".
Afganistan and all the other ...stans. To hear the liberal news media tell it, nothing good ever happens: just more bloodshed of ours and our friends. Well, that's not the way it is. See David Brooks' article published in The Day a few days ago. In addition, we should be considering the following:
FRIDAY through SATURDAY, June 23 through 24, 2006
Here's an interesting take on our history in Iraq."
ACFR NewsGroup No. 707, Monday, May 8, 2006SUNDAY through THURSDAY, June 18 through 22, 2006
ITEM 3: David Frum: Who Lost Iraq? It’s Not Who You Think
Who Lost Iraq? It's Not Who You Think
By David Frum
National Post (Canada)
Publication Date: May 2, 2006
Who messed up Iraq? Donald Rumsfeld is the usual nominee. For conservative hawks, attacks on the U.S. Defence Secretary provide a way to attack the war without attacking the larger administration. And for liberal opponents of the war, attacks on Rumsfeld provide a way to attack the war without attacking the military that planned and executed that war.
Now comes an important new book, Cobra II: The Inside Story of the Invasion and Occupation of Iraq, by New York Times correspondent Michael Gordon and retired Marine Corps Lieutenant General Bernard Trainor. Their story bears hard on Rumsfeld. But it daringly points a finger at a normally blame-proof figure: the general who actually planned and led the Iraq campaign: General Tommy Franks, head of U.S. Central Command during both the Afghan and Iraq wars.
It was General Franks who adamantly refused to engage in post-war planning for Iraq. Long before George W. Bush was elected president, CentCom (then led by Gen. Anthony Zinni--a future opponent of Bush's decision to overthrow Saddam) had drawn up a contingency plan for war with Iraq. This plan was a huge and heavy Colin-Powell-style plan, which contemplated the use of at least 380,000 troops. It deviated in almost every way from the plan actually adopted in 2003--with one exception. To quote Gordon and Trainor: "There was a gaping hole in the occupation annex of the plan. CENTCOM would have the responsibility of general security. But there was no plan for the political administration, restoration of basic services, training of police, or reconstruction of Iraq." The principal author of the Zinni plan: his deputy, Tommy Franks.
As the war plan moved from the realm of the contingency to the realm of the real, Franks continued to refuse to think about what would happen after the shooting ceased. Gordon and Trainor again: "Franks told his commanders that his assumption was that Colin Powell's State Department would have the lead for the rebuilding of Iraq's political institutions and infrastructure."
In October, 2002, however, Franks' assumption was invalidated: At Rumsfeld's insistence, the President agreed that the Department of Defence would assume overall responsibility for the postwar occupation.
Rumsfeld's civilian deputies, Paul Wolfowitz and Doug Feith, welcomed this responsibility as an opportunity to put Iraqis in charge of their country's reconstruction. But there was only one organized group of Iraqis able to serve as a transitional, provisional government: Ahmed Chalabi's Iraqi National Congress (INC). And General Franks fully shared the fierce, almost unreasoning, hatred for the INC that pervaded the State Department and CIA.
The INC, for example, proposed to recruit a brigade of Free Iraqi forces to enter Iraq with the coalition. "Franks remained unenthusiastic, to say the least. After a briefing from [Feith's aide Bill] Luti on his pet project, Franks turned to Feith in a Pentagon corridor, letting him know where he stood: 'I don't have time for this f--king bullshit,' Franks exclaimed."
Franks wanted to race to Baghdad as rapidly as possible. To achieve his plan, he bypassed thousands of Iraqi Fedayeen fighters. These black-garbed guerillas ambushed and killed American soldiers--and then faded into the landscape. The Americans could not chase or identify them because Franks' determination to travel light had sent U.S. forces into battle with few or no interpreters.
In late March, Franks' deputy commander, John Abizaid, discreetly asked the INC for help. Chalabi offered 1,000 men. Gordon and Trainor point out that while Franks had previously disdained Luti's proposal to train a carefully screened Iraqi force, his command now proposed a variant of the plan "conceived in haste to deal with unexpected difficulties."
But by the time the INC men landed in southern Iraq, the emergency had passed, and Franks had reverted to his previous attitude. "The fighters arrived with virtually no provisions and no welcome. They were ushered into a busted-up hangar. . . . For weeks, [the local commander] scrambled to find a way to arm and equip them. . . . They never played a significant military role."
Franks flew into Baghdad on April 16 to meet with senior U.S. commanders. He told them they should prepare to pull out within 60 days. "Franks laid down the rule that was to guide the next phase of the operation: The generals should be prepared to take as much risk departing as they had in their push to Baghdad." Franks intended to hand over responsibility to a new Iraqi government. But he himself had guaranteed that no such government was waiting to go.
Franks lived by his own "quick out" principle. He retired from the army in July, 2003, selling his memoirs for a reported $5-million, booked a busy speaking schedule, and joined the board of the Bank of America.
"HAPPY FATHER'S DAY. Here is some advice that any father can be proud to give to his child or grandchild."
>Bill Gates recently gave a speech at aTHURSDAY through SATURDAY, June 15 through 17, 2006
>High School about 11 things students did not and will
>not learn in school. He talks about how feel-good,
>politically correct teachings created a generation
>of kids with no concept of reality and how this
>concept set them up for failure in the real world.
>Rule 1: Life is not fair - get used to it!
>Rule 2: The world won't care about your
>self-esteem. The world will expect you to
>accomplish something BEFORE you feel good about
>Rule 3: You will NOT make $60,000 a
>year right out of high school. You won't be a
>vice-president with a car phone until you earn both.
>Rule 4: If you think your teacher is
>tough, wait till you get a boss.
>Rule 5: Flipping burgers is not beneath
>your dignity. Your Grandparents had a different word for
>burger flipping: they called it opportunity.
>Rule 6: If you mess up, it's not your
>parents' fault, so don't whine about your mistakes,
>learn from them.
>Rule 7: Before you were born, your
>parents weren't as boring as they are now. They got
>that way from paying your bills, cleaning your
>clothes and listening to you talk about how cool you
>thought you were. So before you save the rain
>forest from the parasites of your parent's
>generation, try delousing the closet in your own
>Rule 8: Your school may have done away
>with winners and losers, but life HAS NOT. In some
>schools, they have abolished failing grades and
>they'll give you as MANY TIMES as you want to get
>the right answer. This doesn't bear the slightest
>resemblance to ANYTHING in real life.
>Rule 9: Life is not divided into
>semesters. You don't get summers off and very few
>employers are interested in helping you FIND
>YOURSELF. Do that on your own time.
>Rule 10: Television is NOT real life.
>In real life, people actually
>have to leave the coffee shop and go to
>Rule 11: Be nice to nerds. Chances are
>you'll end up working for one.
The Democrats and the Republicans each have a tiger by the tail; and whoever lets go without being eaten will win in November. The Democrats' tiger is the war in Iraq. Their position is totally unreasonable given the current facts on the ground there and throughout a dangerous world. The Republicans' tiger is Immigration Reform. There the conservative position is totally unreasonable given the relevant facts. These facts have been addressed on several occasions in this section. Now comes the article in the WSJ on Wednesday by Holman W. Jenkins entitled "Spitting Into The Wind On Immigration" (Opinion, pA15). It is relatively short and very lucid on the topic. If the Republicans don't get this right, they will lose in November despite the Democrats' efforts to help them. And they will have earned the loss.
MONDAY through WEDNESDAY, June 12 through 14, 2006
SUNDAY, June 11, 2006
FRIDAY and SATURDAY, June 9 and 10, 2006
More on America's options in the Middle East and vis a vis the Muslim world. A very good recent book on the subject, informed by extensive personal experience and abundant research, is entitled "Storm From The East: The Struggle Between The Arab World And The Christian West" by Milton Viorst (Modern Library - Random House, New York, 2006). Proceeding from a sobering history of Islam and Christianity going back to the Seventh Century, the author then puts in context his views regarding everything that this administration has done wrong since 9/11. His proposed solution, however, seems to seek merely a return to the status quo ante, mediated by the Arab League.
It is my view that the the American world did change with the events of 9/11; that we were right to invade both Afganistan and Iraq, for different reasons; that the responsibility falls to us, as the only remaining superpower, to safeguard access to Middle Eastern oil as the life-blood of the modern world for decades to come; that we must make that strategic decision very clear to all, starting with the American people; that we must be much more the even-handed intermediary than we have been regarding the conflict between Israel and Palestine; and that we should continue to offer moderate Muslims everywhere a choice of self-government other than secular or religious despotism and the continued subjugation of 50% of the Muslim world: their women...a choice that they must implement with their own sweat and blood. This approach is not only pre-emptive self-defense, and not only an effort to do the right thing by hundreds of millions of people in the world of Islam currently held down by their own "leaders". It also gives a prospect of breaking the centuries - old chains of Christian - Islamic hostility that otherwise may well lead to a new and nuclear world war. Much better than the status quo ante. Fortunately, Congressional Republicans have just thwarted another Democratic siren song effort to hobble our options that would have prevented the U.S. from using war funds to plan for possible permanent bases in Iraq. They never learn. Meanwhile, let this debate continue.
THURSDAY, June 8, 2006
Abu Musab al-Zarqawi is dead. This is a good time to assess our goals and methods with respect to the Middle East and to the entire world of Islam. Reading the recently published book by Fawaz A. Gerges entitled "Journey of the Jihadist: Inside Muslim Militancy" (Harcourt Inc., 2006), it is clear that we are not dealing with a lunatic fringe, but with two generations of Muslims who have become, and have been made by their ultra-right Wahhabi teachers, staunch believers that the only way out of Islam's poverty, stagnation and humiliation is through the imposition of their brutal brand of religion on the world - and especially on "The Great Satan".
So, we have one non-negotiable position, and two choices. The non-negotiable, for decades to come and until we come to our senses regarding energy independence, is access to Middle Eastern oil. For that, we will go to war with anyone, anytime. Beyond that, we can take two paths. One is to retreat within Fortress America, keeping out the foreigners who have for centuries been the yeast for our growth. Call this "the decline and fall of the American empire". The other is to re-assert our role in the world as that beacon on the hill representing freedom, hope and possiblities,as we have always been. This will require decades-long committment of the American people, their treasure and their children, to continuing to promote secular democracy in the sea of Islam that is the Muslim world...a new world fought for by moderate Muslims themselves. In either case, we Americans will remain open to direct attacks on our homeland; and each of us is a soldier. There is no other choice. Now should begin the most important debate among Americans since the founding of our country. Fortunately, there are some influential people in our public life who see our future in these terms. (See "America's Oil Well", by Thomas Friedman, in today's The Day, Commentary, pA11). Will enough Americans have the maturity to engage in this debate and in the necessary decision? I don't know.
TUESDAY through WEDNESDAY, June 6 through 7, 2006
In March, the third annual report on priestly sexual abuse of minors
released; a supplementary report was also issued by John Jay College of
Criminal Justice. Here’s what was found:
It is highly unlikely that there are many institutions or demographic groups with
a better record than this (e.g., it is estimated that the rate of sexual abuse of
public school students is more than 100 times the abuse by priests).
Obviously, one victim is too many. But when 99.98 percent of priests today
are not under suspicion—and indeed most are good men—it is outrageous
that they continue to be subjected to vile depictions in the media, sneering
remarks by educators and inequitable treatment by lawmakers.
Stereotypes do not die easily, but it is high time our cultural elite
began to treat
priests with the degree of respect they’ve earned. Sweeping condemnations
of any group is rightly regarded as bigotry. Including Catholic priests.
William A. Donohue
President, Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights
MONDAY, June 5, 2006
It looks like there really is nothing new under the sun. "Past is Prologue".
About the time our original 13 states adopted their new constitution, in 1787, Alexander Tyler, a Scottish history professor at the University of Edinburgh, had this to say about the fall of the Athenian Republic some 2,000 years prior:SATURDAY and SUNDAY, June 3 and 4, 2006
"A democracy is always temporary in nature; it simply cannot exist as a permanent form of government. A democracy will continue to exist up until the time that voters discover that they can vote themselves generous
gifts from the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidates who promise the most benefits from the public
treasury, with the result that every democracy will finally collapse due to loose fiscal policy, which is always followed by a dictatorship."
"The average age of the worlds greatest civilizations from the beginning of history, has been about 200 years. During those 200 years, these nations always progressed through the following sequence:1. From bondage to spiritual faith;
2. From spiritual faith to great courage;
3. From courage to liberty;
4. From liberty to abundance;
5. From abundance to complacency;
6. From complacency to apathy;
7. From apathy to dependence;
8. From dependence back into bondage ."
Professor Joseph Olson of Hamline University School of Law, St. Paul, Minnesota, points out some interesting facts concerning the 2000 Presidential election:Population of counties won by:
Gore: 127 million; Bush: 143 million
Square miles of land won by:
Gore: 580,000; Bush: 2,427,000
States won by:
Gore: 19; Bush: 29
Murder rate per 100,000 residents in counties won by:
Gore: 13.2; Bush: 2.1
Professor Olson adds: "In aggregate, the map of the territory Bush won
was mostly the land owned by the tax-paying citizens of this great country. Gore's territory mostly encompassed those citizens living in government-owned tenements and living off government welfare..."
Olson believes the United States is now somewhere between the "complacency<BR>and apathy" phase of Professor Tyler's definition of democracy, with some 40 percent of the nation's population already having reached the "governmental dependency" phase.
New York Times
June 2, 2006
Insurgency Out, Anarchy In
By Thomas L. Friedman
President Bush has told us that the question of whether to withdraw from Iraq is one that his successor will have to deal with — not him. I don't think so. Mr. Bush is not going to have that luxury of passing Iraq along. You see, the insurgency in Iraq is in its "last throes" — just like Dick Cheney said. Unfortunately, it's being replaced by anarchy in many neighborhoods — not democracy. And I don't believe the American people will put up with two and half more years of babysitting anarchy instead of midwifing democracy.
The report that U.S. marines were involved in a massacre of Iraqis in Haditha — which the Pentagon needs to clarify fast — is a tragic reminder that a foreign occupation by U.S. forces can't go on for years. Most U.S. soldiers in Iraq have done heroic work, but occupations that drag on inevitably lead to Hadithas.
Right now we are paying for all the Bush team's missteps in Iraq: allowing looting after the fall of Baghdad, disbanding the Iraqi Army without an alternative security force or enough U.S. troops in place, fostering a culture of torture at Abu Ghraib and then letting the politics in Iraq drift for months without any outcome.(Note: I disagree with Freidman on this—mistakes were made, but they were not decisive in determining the direction and/or success of the insurgency, which likely would have occurred even if we and the coalition did everything right that Monday morning quarterbacking permits. Ty)
All of this created a security vacuum that has allowed a rogue's gallery of sectarian militias, death squads, gangs and Al Qaeda operatives to mushroom in Basra, Baghdad and the Sunni Triangle. The end result: while the mainstream Iraqi Sunnis have now joined the government, in a major way, this has not brought more stability. Because between the sectarian militias now murdering each other's civilians, tit for tat, and Al Qaeda just blowing up Iraqi civilians randomly, the new government can't get going. Too many Iraqis are paralyzed by fear.
Indeed, there has been a subtle but important change in the violence in Iraq. The main enemy in many places is no longer the Sunni insurgency. It is anarchy. Mini-wars of all against all. As the BBC reported Wednesday from Basra: Prime Minister Nuri Maliki "has declared a monthlong state of emergency in Basra, which has been plagued by sectarian clashes, anarchy and factional rivalry." That's what happens in a security vacuum.
Once this kind of militia madness takes root, it's very hard to uproot. U.S. troops can't do it, because it would require searching homes, neighborhood by neighborhood. Only a cohesive Iraqi national army could do that. And that can only be the product of a real national unity government, in which all parties feel they have a fair share of the pie and are committed to investing in an Iraqi army — not their own militia.
And such a national unity government can only be the product of Iraq's leaders deciding whether they love their kids more than they hate each other. That is the most important question Iraqis must answer. It can't be avoided any longer. That being the case, it is time for America to starting talking "deadlines." Too many Iraqi factions think they can just keep wrestling each other for small advantage while the country burns, but the U.S. Army provides a floor of security that prevents total chaos. The Iraqi parties need to know that we are not going to be played this way forever. Only an Iraq that can come together and make a fist can crush this militia culture.
Salvaging Iraq is still hugely important — for itself and for the region, which is facing two big trends. One is a population explosion, producing millions of young people looking for work. And the other is a huge explosion of windfall oil profits. Today, many autocratic Arab regimes are using these oil profits just to buy off their population explosions — in the form of government jobs and subsidized food and fuel — not to educate and empower their youth for the 21st century. But when the price of oil falls, and it will eventually, and these populations continue to rise, we will see destabilizing social explosions throughout the Arab world. It would be very helpful to have a different model in place in Iraq before that happens.
But the hour is late and the enemy is unique. We are not losing Iraq to the Iraqi Vietcong — traditional nationalists. Iraq has a freely elected nationalist government. No, we are losing in Iraq to sectarian theocrats, Islamo-fascists and local and regional tyrants, who have only one thing in common: the belief that America and its Iraqi allies must fail, that neither modernity nor democracy must be allowed to take root in Iraq.
It will be a global tragedy if they succeed, but it is hard to fight an enemy whose only concern is that you lose, not what happens after. It is impossible, though, without Iraqi leaders who can make a fist. We can't keep asking Americans to sacrifice their children for people who hate each other more than they love their own children.
ITEM 8: Edward Luttwak: Will Civil War Bring Lasting Peace to Iraq?
Los Angeles Times
June 2, 2006
Will Civil War Bring Lasting Peace To Iraq?
History shows civil wars must be fought without foreign interference before stability prevails.
By Edward N. Luttwak
CIVIL WARS can be especially atrocious as neighbors kill each other at close range, but they also have a purpose. They can bring lasting peace by destroying the will to fight and by removing the motives and opportunities for further violence.
England's civil war in the mid-17th century ensured the subsequent centuries of political stability under Parliament and a limited monarchy. But first there had to be a war with pitched battles and killing, including the decapitation of King Charles I, who had claimed absolute power by divine right.
The United States had its civil war two centuries later, which established the rule that states cannot leave the union — and abolished slavery in the process. The destruction was vast and the casualties immense as compared with all subsequent American wars, given the size of the population. But without the decisive victory of the Union, two separate and quarrelsome republics might still endure, periodically at war with each other.
Even Switzerland had a civil war — in 1847 — out of which came the limited but sturdy unity of its confederation. Close proximity, overlapping languages and centuries of common history were not enough to resolve differences between the cantons. They had to fight briefly, with 86 killed, to strike a balance of strength between them.
And so it must be with Iraq, the most haphazard of states, hurriedly created by the British after World War I with scant regard for its rival nationalities and sects. The sectarian hatred — erupting during the Saddam Hussein era and at full boil since his ouster — is now inflicting a heavy toll in casualties.
Attempts by U.S. and British forces to stop the killings are feeble; it would take many times as many troops as remain in Iraq to make any difference. Nor can the fundamental factors that are causing the violence be reversed at this point, certainly not by fielding more Iraqi army and police units.
Sure, it would be nice to think that all the parties could just sit down and partition the country peaceably. But the Shiites can't even agree among themselves, so what hope is there of them talking to the Sunnis? There is no hatred as strong as theological hatred. So it is time for outsiders to step aside and let the Iraqis fight it out among themselves, ending with each controlling its own region.
Of the conflicts, the Kurdish-Arab one is the least volatile. Decades of bloody fighting over Arab rule appear to be ending, and there's no longer any question that the Kurds will separate. The only question is whether they'll remain part of a loose Iraqi confederation or become an independent state.
As to the Shiites and Sunnis, however, there's no end in sight. The Shiite majority among the Arabs of Iraq had been ruled by Sunnis for centuries. But Hussein's vigorous attempt to modernize Iraq in a secular direction infuriated Shiite prelates. That in turn triggered brutal repression by the regime, which most Shiites inevitably viewed as yet another bout of Sunni oppression. The spread of Salafist fundamentalism among the Sunnis mandates violence against the Shiites.
And, while today's theocratic Iran is not necessarily viewed as a model, it demonstrates to Iraq's Shiites that they need not always be ruled by Sunnis. That in turn provokes the ire of the many Sunni Arabs who firmly believe that Iraq belongs to them regardless of their numbers.
And so the massacres continue on both sides.
Physical separation is therefore the only way to limit the carnage. That process has begun, to some extent, because the violence is driving out the members of one sect or the other from the many mixed villages, towns and city districts. This is a painful and very costly way of interrupting the cycle of attacks and reprisals, but that is how civil war achieves its purpose of eventually bringing peace.
Back in the 17th century, if the kings of continental Europe could have prevented England's civil war, it would have been at the price of perpetuating strife by blocking progress toward stable parliamentary government.
If the British and other European great powers had sent expeditionary armies to stop the enormous casualties and vast destruction of the American civil war, they could have prevented the eventual emergence of a peacefully united republic, perpetuating North-South hostility.
That is the mistake that the U.S. and its allies are now making by interfering with Iraq's civil war. They should disengage their troops from populated areas as much as possible, give up the intrusive checkpoints and patrols that are failing to contain the violence anyway and abandon the futile effort to build up military and police forces that are national only in name.
Some U.S. and allied forces still will be needed in remote desert bases to safeguard Iraq from foreign invasion, with some left to hold the Baghdad Green Zone. But for the rest, strict noninterference should be the rule. The sooner the Kurds, Sunni, Shiites, Turkmen and smaller minorities can define their own natural and stable boundaries within which they feel safe, the sooner the violence will come to an end.
Iraq's civil war is no different from the British, Swiss or American internal wars. It too should be allowed to bring peace.
EDWARD N. LUTTWAK is a senior advisor at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.
ITEM 9: Jim Hoagland: Bush’s Gamble on Iran
Bush's Gamble On Iran
By Jim Hoagland
Sunday, June 4, 2006; Page B07
President Bush handed Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and German Chancellor Angela Merkel a significant foreign policy victory and put new distance between himself and Vice President Cheney with last week's decision to dangle the carrot of U.S. participation in talks with Iran. But it is a victory of process rather than of substance and could still come undone.
Cheney has been outflanked by the diplomats of Foggy Bottom before, most notably in the summer of 2002, when Bush agreed to let Colin Powell take the case for a preventive strike against Iraq to the United Nations. But we know now that Bush had accepted the substance of Cheney's argument for war even as he let the diplomats ply their trade in New York.
So we are not out of the woods yet in this multifaceted crisis with Iran. At the same time, however, there are important differences between today and 2002. They suggest that this time the president has genuinely not yet made up his mind about acting militarily, if necessary, to halt or delay Iran from covertly developing nuclear weapons. That decision is probably a year away.
Expectations of successful talks with the Iranians are low at the White House. The true immediate significance of Rice's dramatic announcement was that it shows Bush is now fighting to save his battered presidency by allowing change in a White House where Cheney's influence has been paramount.
Bush's move to bring Wall Street heavyweight Henry Paulson in as his Treasury secretary was another case in point. The decision was made, senior aides told reporters, without participation by Cheney or political adviser Karl Rove. Whatever the accuracy of those anonymous comments, the fact that Bush aides made them without fear of retribution is a startling measure of the vice president's lessened standing.
Cheney still has strong allies in the administration, particularly Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. But the Pentagon is increasingly seen as the source of problems rather than solutions for this administration as Iraq goes from bad to worse, with the military, financial and moral costs of the American effort mounting toward unbearable levels.
The failure of a new "national unity" Iraqi cabinet to make much headway in stemming violence in Baghdad or providing services to the people -- after U.S. officials loudly proclaimed its formation as a "breakthrough" -- underlines the need for a sense of change to extend to Iraq if Bush is to save his presidency. But on Iraq there is still no sign of a winning strategy taking hold or of visible daylight between Bush and Cheney.
As insurgency and corruption have grown more intractable in Iraq, Cheney, Rice and the main U.S. allies in Europe have focused more on Iran, as if to leapfrog the problems of Iraq by concentrating on a new crisis, although from different directions.
The vice president has made no secret of his distrust of the Iranian regime and his desire to change it. The secretary of state and the Europeans, led by Chancellor Merkel, have convinced Bush that he must exhaust every peaceful avenue before asking for economic sanctions or other punitive measures against Tehran. British Prime Minister Tony Blair reportedly made the same points to Bush in their private talks here last month.
"The administration is going to great lengths to keep the international community on board as Bush tries to get on his feet again at home," a European ambassador said after hearing the State Department's top Middle Eastern expert, C. David Welch, insist that Bush had resisted endorsing Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's unilateral "realignment" plan for the West Bank during Olmert's visit here last month. "Otherwise, why emphasize so much something that did not happen?"
By the summer of 2007, Bush will be looking at two converging timelines: the end of his presidency and the fate of the diplomatic effort to talk the Iranians into a verifiable peaceful nuclear program. If the diplomats have not made significant headway, Bush will confront the terrible choice of acting militarily on his own before the end of his term or of leaving behind this nightmarish problem for his successor to deal with at the outset of his or her presidency.
Bush is more open to a diplomatic outcome for the Iranian crisis than he was on Iraq. He knows he can muster no significant international support for intervention in Iran. But the Iranians have the capacity to bring about the return of Dick Cheney to policy dominance if they continue to overplay their hand.
THURSDAY and FRIDAY, June 1 and 2, 2006
This is another one of those "pot pourri" sessions.