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Posted by: A Waco Farmer
From the Associated Press:

Iraqi Prime Minister Says No Retreat

"BAGHDAD (AP) Iraq's prime minister vowed Thursday to fight 'until the end' against Shiite militias in Basra despite protests by tens of thousands of followers of a radical cleric in Baghdad and deadly clashes across the capital and the oil-rich south.

"Mounting anger focused on Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, who is personally overseeing operations against the militias dominated by Muqtada al-Sadr's supporters amid a violent power struggle in Basra, Iraq's southern oil hub.

"The Iraqi leader made his pledge to tribal leaders in the Basra area as military operations continued for a fourth day with stiff resistance.

"'We have made up our minds to enter this battle and we will continue until the end. No retreat,' he said in a speech broadcast on Iraqi state TV."

Defining Moment?

Is this where the Maliki government finally emerges?

Or is this the end of a brief window of relative tranquility during which we all optimistically imagined a happy ending?

Either way, my sense is that we stand on the brink of a major turning point.
Posted by: A Waco Farmer
Just watched a significant portion of the PBS/Frontline documentary, Bush's War.

From the horror of 9/11 to the invasion of Iraq -- inside the epic story of how the war began & how it's been fought on the ground in Iraq and inside the government.


In brief: as always with any Frontline treatment of this president, there is much to say. I cannot promise that I will ever rise to any systematic attempt to offer balance, address the myriad sly omissions, or speak to the numerous invidious undertones. However, I expect that such a project could easily match the documentary itself in length and complicated story lines.

In praise of PBS, the documentary continued the Frontline tradition of artistic excellence; these works of partisan-skewed contemporary history are breathtakingly beautiful to watch.

In short, however, the tenor of Bush's War can be summed up most succinctly with this humble fact: out of four hours and thirty minutes of detailed reporting concerning the war in Iraq and the political skullduggery of the Bush White House, spanning more than six years, the documentary offered thirty seconds to Year Five and the successful "surge," with literally no mention of an Anbar Awakening or David Petraeus.

Enough said.
Posted by: A Waco Farmer
This week marks five years of our war in Iraq and counting. Looking back to 2002, those of us who supported American military action against Saddam perhaps expected "an easier triumph, and a result [quite frankly] more fundamental and astounding," but the war persists.

Please read this review of reasons that going into Iraq made sense at the time (re-recycled from previous posts for the sake of consistency). At the conclusion, there is also a question from a year or so ago (pre-surge), which asks, "Now What?" Thirteen months later, in the midst of a tumultuous presidential election year, this interrogatory remains the fundamental decision for our generation. Please read and comment. I would very much like to hear from you all on this.

Why did we have to go?

1. Saddam was bad. He deserved ouster, capture, trial, and execution. Twenty-five million Iraqis deserved an opportunity to take control of their lives free of Saddam's oppressive regime.

2. Saddam was at war with the United States and a threat to regional security. For more than a decade, we flew combat missions over Iraq and drew anti-aircraft fire everyday. Our forces were stationed in Saudi Arabia to neutralize the threat Saddam posed to the region. Our presence in Saudi (part of our essential commitment to preserving the peace) irritated the international Muslim community. In fact, Osama bin Laden cited our presence in Saudi Arabia as the casus belli for war against America in general and 9-11 specifically.

3. Saddam was contained--but only as a result of the costly military commitments cited above. In addition, Saddam was contained as a result of a United Nations sanctions regime. Before the war, several human rights organizations charged that the heartless US-driven sanctions policy had killed upwards of 500,000 Iraqis through malnutrition and lack of adequate medical attention. Later, we learned of massive corruption on the part of the UN in administering the sanctions against Saddam's Iraq. Moreover, by 2002, the flagging resolve of the French and other European powers threatened the entire sanctions program. Containment was a leaky policy taking on more water every day.

4. Saddam unbound meant a return to the status quo ante bellum in which he had threatened his neighbors and worked assiduously to manufacture and deploy weapons of mass destruction.

5. Saddam and 911? It is a long held article of faith in the mainstream media that "911 and Iraq were not connected." This is nonsense. What they mean to say is that Saddam and his regime were not complicit in the terrorist attacks of 911. Those two statements are not the same. Conflation of these two distinct ideas belies a fundamental misunderstanding of the task that confronts us.

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