Saturday, September 08, 2007

Daily Headliners--Petraeus non-report, Osama "BOO" Laden video, Chuck Hagel retires, The unending war,

We've got some interesting Daily Headliners to talk about for this weekend.

The Petraeus Report will be a non-report: I found this story through both Carpetbagger and Think Progress, with the original source story coming from The Washington Times:

A major political event unfolding Monday will be the report to President Bush by Gen. David H. Petraeus, commander in Iraq, and U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Ryan C. Crocker.

A senior military officer said there will be no written presentation to the president on security and stability in Iraq. "There is no report. It is an assessment provided by them by testimony," the officer said.

The only hard copy will be Gen. Petraeus' opening statement to Congress, scheduled for Monday, along with any charts he will use in explaining the results of the troop surge in Baghdad over the past several months.

So there is going to be no Petraeus Report--only the ramblings of General "Lacky" Petraeus here. What I find even more ironic is that for the past year, the Bush administration has been pushing this September Petraeus report as the report to determine whether the U.S. military will continue the war in Iraq, and whether the Iraqi government has achieved the benchmarks for both stabilizing the country and initiating political reform. Well, we know that the Iraqi government has not achieved the benchmarks needed for continuing the Bush troop surge. And we were told that General Petraeus will not be writing his own report, but that the Bush White House will be writing the report. Now we're told that there will be no Petraeus report. Talk about a Bush administration CYA here! Why even bother sending General Petraeus before Congress anyways, since he is going to be regurgitating the same, stale, dog and pony show that this administration has been attempting to force down our throats?

Bin Laden tape focuses on Iraq: It looks like the al Qaeda boogyman Osama bin Laden has popped up again with a new video. According to McClatchy News, bin Laden claims that the U.S. is repeating the mistake of the Soviet Union's 1979 invasion of Afghanistan, President Bush is leading the U.S. into failure in the Iraq war, and the congressional Democrats are failing to stop the war. It is pretty much a half hour rambling, of which you can read the transcript here. Of course, the most interesting thing about this bin Laden tape is that Osama's beard seems to have lost the gray hairs. Just check out this Yahoo News photo showing the Old Osama and the New Osama:

This two picture combination shows on the left, Osama bin Laden in an image made from an undated video broadcast on Friday, Oct. 29, 2004 by the Arab television station Al-Jazeera. On the right, bin Laden is shown in an image taken from a banner advertisement featured on an Islamic militant Web site where al-Qaida's media arm, Al-Sahab, frequently posts messages on Thursday Sept. 6, 2007. In the image posted Thursday, bin Laden's beard appears to have been dyed, a popular practice among Arab leaders, said Rita Katz, director of the SITE Institute, a Washington-based group that monitors terror messages. (AP Photo)

Now I know that everyone is talking about how Osama may be using Just For Men In Color Gel for Mustache, Beard & Sideburns, but I don't want to get into the color of Osama's beard here. What is more astounding here is that Osama bin Laden trimmed his beard slightly back. Osama, that was a strategic mistake on your part. Had you allowed your beard to grow out even longer, you could have used that beard as an extra appendage. Consider this video about what you could have done with your beard. From YouTube:

Just think of the strategic and tactical advantages you could achieve with the power of such a beard. Instead of picking up Skittles, you could be tossing grenades with your beard. And who says you have to hold an AK-47 in each hand--you could be blasting away with three AK-47s with one in each hand and one with your beard. The sad thing here is that this incredible advantage was freely given to you by the U.S. ad agencies--The Pentagon or Bush White House the potential of this new military weapon. Then again, you never realized it as well when you trimmed and dyed your beard. Or maybe you've been dreaming of virgins in Paradise, and needed a little hair and beard coloring so you can get some?

Hagel to retire, won't run for president: According to this MSNBC News story, Republican Senator Chuck Hagel will announce his retirement from the Senate Monday, and will not join the 2008 race for the presidency, as reported by the Omaha World-Herald newspaper. Hagel told his decision to Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell on Friday morning, and then to his staff on Friday afternoon.

Hagel was not the only GOP senator to retire. Last week, Virginia Senator John Warner announced his own retirement, creating more problems for the GOP that is still plagued with scandal and corruption. Warner was a former Senate Armed Services Committee chairman, and was an expert on military affairs. In fact, Warner called for President Bush to begin withdrawing U.S. troops in Iraq by Christmas.

So the Republicans have a problem here. They need to find two new senatorial candidates to replace Hagel and Warner in the 2008 elections--and these candidates had better be squeaky clean, considering the problems the GOP has with scandals today. And both these Republican candidates will be probably be running against strong Democratic candidates for these seats.

DKos user DHinMi has a great analysis of how Hagel's retirement can affect the 2008 Senate race. You can also read this interesting WaPost story on the GOP's election woes.

What Congress Needs To Ask Petraeus and Crocker: This story was posted on September 6, 2007 on Slate Magazine, but a couple of paragraphs reveal an astounding claim by this Bush administration to perpetuate an unending war in Iraq:

Stephen Biddle, a military analyst at the Council on Foreign Relations, is a key proponent of the patchwork-quilt strategy. But even he emphasizes that the idea would be a political nonstarter if it resulted in a lot more American deaths. The American public, he said in a phone interview, will support overseas deployments of troops—even for many years—as long as not many get killed. For instance, 64,000 U.S. troops are still in Germany, 60 years after the end of World War II and 16 years after the end of the Cold War. American soldiers have been keeping the peace in Bosnia now for more than a decade since the defeat of Slobodan Milosevic. In both operations, virtually no American soldiers have died as a result of hostile fire. (Biddle is a member of Petraeus' advisory panel, but he emphasized that his views here are entirely his own.)

Biddle also said (again, expressing his personal view) that the strategy in Iraq would require the presence of roughly 100,000 American troops for 20 years—and that, even so, it would be a "long-shot gamble."

Do Petraeus and Crocker agree with this assessment? Do they agree with each other? Petraeus is a military strategist; Crocker is an Arabist diplomat; they might calculate the risks and prospects differently.

I would say that Biddle revealed an important insight within this Bush administration's desire to keep this war going. I know I've said, many times, that President Bush wants to keep the war going to salvage his legacy, and to dump the entire Iraq mess on his Oval Office successor. I also know that the PNAC folks want to keep this war going in order to maintain control of Iraq's oil reserves, and to maintain an American military and imperial presence in the Middle East. We've also seen an instance of President Bush attempting to compare the U.S. occupation of Iraq with the U.S. troop presence in South Korea. But none of these PR-campaigns really matters--just keep the war going for whatever reason you can. Biddle created another PR talking point for continuing the war--as long as casualties don't significantly increase, the American public will support long term troop deployments, like the U.S. occupation in Iraq, for 20 years or longer. It is almost like the Bush administration, the PNAC neocons, and the GOP cannot back down on this war in Iraq because such a backing down will reveal the Republican Party as the party that is weak. The Republican Party will be known as the "losing" party. This is something that the GOP cannot accept--even though President Bush and PNAC neocons were responsible for getting us into this Iraq war, and were responsible for the decisions which made this Iraq war into a disaster. The Republican Party cannot accept failure, even when they are responsible for that failure. So for the GOP, it is better to continue a losing war rather than accept its failure and pull out.

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