More recommended reading

Excerpts appear below.

  1. A battle for land in northern Iraq“, Los Angeles Times (5 April 2008)
  2. Obama Adviser Calls for Troops To Stay in Iraq Through 2010“, New York Sun (4 April 2008) — No comment needed; the headline tells the story.  Will be interesting to see if this is true.  If so, only the naive should be surprised. 
  3. We have a winner for the most naive — even obtuse — analysis of the week:  “The Basra Model“, Michael Hirsch, Newsweek  (3 April 2008)
  4. Blasphemers, Unite!“, Michael J. Totten, Commentary (web only)  (no date)

I.  “A battle for land in northern Iraq“, Los Angeles Times (5 April 2008) — “A struggle between Sunni Arabs and Kurds has torn apart the city of Mosul and could play a crucial role in drawing the region’s boundaries.”  Excerpt:

Far from the volatile Shiite rivalries that have shaken Baghdad and Basra, this city has been devastated by an epic struggle for land and power between Sunni Arabs and Kurds that has shattered the social fabric and could very well shape the future boundaries of northern Iraq.

Kurds say that they have been driven out of the city by Sunni Arab militants and criminal gangs, who have set off car bombs and kidnapped and killed members of their ethnic group. In turn, Kurdish forces have been accused of carrying out assassinations in Mosul and torturing Arab detainees elsewhere in the campaign to annex territory to the semiautonomous Kurdistan region.

The Iraqi government and U.S. military spokesmen blame the chaos on Al Qaeda in Iraq…

II.  “Obama Adviser Calls for Troops To Stay in Iraq Through 2010“, New York Sun (4 April 2008) — No comment needed; the headline tells the story.  Will be interesting to see if this is true.  If so, only the naive should be surprised.  Excerpt:

A key adviser to Senator Obama’s campaign is recommending in a confidential paper that America keep between 60,000 and 80,000 troops in Iraq as of late 2010, a plan at odds with the public pledge of the Illinois senator to withdraw combat forces from Iraq within 16 months of taking office. The paper, obtained by The New York Sun, was written by Colin Kahl for the center-left Center for a New American Security.

… Mr. Kahl is the day-to-day coordinator of the Obama campaign’s working group on Iraq.  A shorter and less detailed version of this paper appeared on the center’s Web site as a policy brief.  Both Mr. Kahl and a senior Obama campaign adviser reached yesterday said the paper does not represent the campaign’s Iraq position.

… This is not the first time the opinion of an adviser to the Obama campaign has differed with the candidate’s stated Iraq policy.  In February, Mr. Obama’s first foreign policy tutor, Samantha Power, told BBC that the senator’s current Iraq plan would likely change based on the advice of military commanders in 2009. She has since resigned her position as a formal adviser.

III.  We have a winner for the most naive — even obtuse — analysis of the week:  “The Basra Model“, Michael Hirsch, Newsweek  (3 April 2008) — Excerpt:

Washington has little intention of allowing the Iraqi national government to create a full-scale air force.  According to the Congressional Research Service, the Bush administration asked for more than $1.7 billion for new military construction in Iraq in fiscal ’07, a huge jump from the $200 million it requested for fiscal ’06.  Much of that money is being spent on U.S. air bases like Balad, north of Baghdad.  “One of the issues of sovereignty for any country is the ability to control their own airspace.  We will probably be helping the Iraqis with that problem for a very long time,” the then-base commander, Brig. Gen. Frank Gorenc, told me when I was last there two years ago this month.

Here is a translation, for those folks not following our actions in Iraq:

“One aspect of being soverign is control of their own airspace.  Iraq is our colony, so we will not allow them to do so for a very long time.  Building air bases there was an important goal of the invasion, although we cannot admit it, and we intend to keep them for many years — perhaps even one hundred years.”

IV.  “Blasphemers, Unite!“, Michael J. Totten, Commentary (web only)  (no date) — Excerpt:

Egypt’s Grand Imam Mohammed Sayyed Tantawi threatened “severe” consequences if the Dutch government doesn’t ban Parliamentarian Geert Wilders’ anti-Islamic film Fitna.  It makes no difference to Tantawi and other perpetually outraged Islamists that the Netherlands is a sovereign country with its own laws.  Ever since Iran’s Ayatollah Khomeini condemned Salman Rushdie to death for writing the supposedly offensive Satanic Verses – and sent death squads after him and his publishers around the world – radical Islamists have seen it as their right and duty to enforce their own unilateral anti-blasphemy laws on the human race.  (Meanwhile, liberal American Muslim Aziz Poonawalla hosts Fitna on his own Web site even though he, as should be expected, doesn’t like it.)

Fitna isn’t the only recent movie hard-line Islamists hope to squelch beyond their own borders.  The other is Persepolis, an animated film based on Iranian author Marjane Satrapi’s graphic novel of the same name about repression under both the Shah Reza Pahlavi and the Ayatollah Khomeini.

Please share your comments by posting below (brief and relevant, please), or email me at fabmaximus at hotmail dot com (note the spam-protected spelling). 

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