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Ear to the Ground

No Exit (Yet)

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Posted on Apr 8, 2008
petraeus
AP photo / Susan Walsh

Hitting pause?: Gen. David Petraeus gave little indication that U.S. troops would withdraw from Iraq en masse before the next American president takes office.

Gen. David Petraeus dug in his heels during a Senate hearing Tuesday, refusing to give specifics about additional U.S. troop withdrawal plans after July, recommending a “pause” instead and taking heat from congressional opponents like Carl Levin and Hillary Clinton in the process.  Meanwhile, John McCain spoke of “real hope and optimism” for Iraq’s future.


The New York Times:

“This process will be continuous, with recommendations for further reductions made as conditions permit,” General Petraeus said. “This approach does not allow establishment of a set withdrawal timetable. However, it does provide the flexibility those of us on the ground need to preserve the still-fragile security gains our troopers have fought so hard and sacrificed so much to achieve.”

The lethality of terrorists within Iraq who say they are aligned with Al Qaeda has been “reduced significantly,” General Petraeus said, but they continue to pose a worrisome threat. Only “relentless pressure” will guarantee that terrorists cannot regroup, he added.

“Countless sectarian fault-lines still exist in Baghdad and elsewhere,” General Petraeus said, but he noted that Sunni leaders, who were marginalized by early efforts of the majority Shiite government, had joined the security over recent months, with important successes.

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Blackspeare's avatar

By Blackspeare, April 9, 2008 at 5:01 pm Link to this comment

It doesn’t matter who is the next president no one is going to pull out of Iraq in the near future——there is too much at stake.  We all know that the original reason for ousting Saddam Hussein was to secure a base and domination in the Arab ME.  While the insurgency is more of a bother, the real concern now is the increasing militancy of Iran.  Hard to figure out Iran——first they shake hands with Maliki, then they support Sadr and his Mehdi Army.  And apparently they are supplying advanced arms to the insurgents, whoever they are, and have launched deadly rockets into the Green Zone where two US officers were killed.  Could Iran be provoking a US response into Iranian territory to create a rallying point for their population?  They are playing a dangerous game for which the US may accommodate them!

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By jatihoon, April 9, 2008 at 9:01 am Link to this comment

” READY OR NOT”, we are staying, says General Patraeus and co.You do not like it, too bad, shove it up your ass.

McCain said, hear;hear and clapped his hands. Hillary and Obama said, Oh No: Oh No.

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By Jim Yell, April 9, 2008 at 6:55 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

toady?

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By cyrena, April 9, 2008 at 5:34 am Link to this comment

I’m posting this in empathy/understanding with those of you who are so pissed off with Clinton and Obama, (or any other democratic Senator perceived as saying less than they should have in today’s ‘hearings’ if ya wanna call them that.)

I do feel the frustration myself, but I also viewed the proceedings differently, based on pragmatism and the reality of how much could actually ‘be accomplished’ in that setting, and at this time. This is just the first part of the article. The link to the remainder is at the bottom.

I’ve also posted the same on another thread.

General Entrap-Us or General Entrapped?
  By Ira Chernus
  TomDispatch.com
  Sunday 06 April 2008

Democrats should treat Petraeus and his surge as irrelevant.

  It was supposed to be a “cakewalk.” General Petraeus would come to Congress, armed with his favorite charts showing that the “surge” had dramatically reduced violence in Iraq. He would earn universal acclaim for his plan to “pause” troop reductions from July until after the election in November - the same plan that John McCain counts on to help him win that election.

  When it comes to Iraq, though, the Bush administration’s cakewalks never seem to turn out as planned. The renewed violence of these last weeks in Iraq, and the prospect of more to come, gives war critics ample ammunition for a counterattack. The Democrats, including Senators Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, may find it irresistible to assault the general, and the President, with every argument they can muster in the hearings this week. However, a recent report suggests they may resist that impulse and treat the impact of the surge as an irrelevant issue.

(a link to the report is at the full article)

  Let’s hope that report is right, because a debate focused on military success or failure is a trap, with Petraeus’s testimony as the bait. After all, no debate in Congress will really be about the level of violence in Iraq. “Has the surge worked?” is just a symbolic way of asking: “Would you rather believe that America is a winner or a loser?” And in any battle over patriotic symbolism, the Republicans always seem to have the bigger guns.

  So the Democrats would be smart to refuse the bait and insist that this is not an old-fashioned World War II- style conflict, where force can produce a clear-cut winner. Then they could refocus the debate on two crucial truths: We have no right to be in Iraq; the sooner we get out, the sooner we can begin to heal the terrible damage the war has done to us here at home.

  Decoding the Battle over Iraq
  It should have been obvious all along that the Republicans do not mean it literally when they claim that reducing violence in Iraq is their highest priority. It’s not likely that too many of them care a whole lot about the killing and maiming of Iraqis. So when they speak so urgently about lower levels of violence, it’s a coded way of saying something else; in fact, a lot of things.

  For starters, “reduced violence” is a way to conjure up an image of American “success” in a war in which no real success (forget about “victory”) is possible. The level of violence is the only concrete yardstick the administration has come up with to gauge the success of the surge- no small matter when a successful surge has become the prime symbol of achievement for U.S. troops and so for the President’s (and John McCain’s) war policies. Because the Bush administration still hopes to sell its failing war to the public by turning it into a gripping story of winners and losers, “violence” has been its currency, its coin of the realm.

Full piece here

http://www.truthout.org/docs_2006/040708E.shtml

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By cyrena, April 8, 2008 at 10:56 pm Link to this comment

American Grand Delusions: Why the Testimony of General Petraeus Will Be Delusional
  By Tom Engelhardt
  TomDispatch.com
  Thursday 03 April 2008

  Yes, their defensive zone is the planet and they patrol it regularly. As ever, their planes and drones have been in the skies these last weeks. They struck a village in Somalia, tribal areas in Pakistan, rural areas in Afghanistan, and urban neighborhoods in Iraq. Their troops are training and advising the Iraqi army and police as well as the new Afghan army, while their Special Operations forces are planning to train Pakistan’s paramilitary Frontier Corps in that country’s wild, mountainous borderlands.

  Their Vice President arrived in Baghdad not long before the government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki launched its recent (failed) offensive against cleric Muqtada al-Sadr’s Mahdi Army militia in the southern oil city of Basra. To “discuss” their needs in their President’s eternal War on Terror, two of their top diplomats, a deputy secretary of state and an assistant secretary of state for South Asian affairs, arrived in Pakistan - to the helpless outrage of the local press - on the very day newly elected Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gillani was being given the oath of office. (“I don’t think it is a good idea for them to be here on this particular day right here in Islamabad, meeting with senior politicians in the new government, trying to dictate terms…” was the way Zaffar Abbas, editor of the newspaper Dawn, put it.)

  At home, their politicians have nationally televised debates in which they fervently discuss just how quickly they would launch air assaults against Pakistan’s tribal areas, without permission from the Pakistani government but based on “actionable intelligence” on terrorists. Their drones cruise the skies of the world looking for terrorist suspects to - in the phrase of the hour - “take out.” Agents from their intelligence services have, these last years, roamed the planet, kidnapping terrorist suspects directly off the streets of major cities and transporting them to their own secret prisons, or those of other countries willing to employ torture methods. Their spy satellites circle the globe listening in on conversations wherever they please, while their military has divided the whole planet into “commands,” the last of which, Africom, was just formed.

  As far as they are concerned, nowhere do their interests not come into play; nowhere, in fact, are they not paramount. As their President put it recently, “If [our] strategic interests are not in Iraq - the convergence point for the twin threats of al Qaeda and Iran, the nation Osama bin Laden’s deputy has called ‘the place for the greatest battle,’ the country at the heart of the most volatile region on Earth - then where are they?” (And you could easily substitute the names of other countries for Iraq.)

  Their President makes a habit of regularly telling other countries what they “must” do. “At the same time,” he said recently, “the regimes in Iran and Syria must stop supporting violence and terror in Iraq.” It’s especially important to him and his officials that other nations not “interfere” in situations where, as in Iraq, they are so obviously “foreigners” and have no business; no fingers, that is, are to be caught in other people’s cookie jars. Their Vice President made this point strikingly in an exchange with a TV interviewer:

More at the link

http://www.truthout.org/docs_2006/040408N.shtml

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By cyrena, April 8, 2008 at 10:33 pm Link to this comment

•  “The lethality of terrorists within Iraq who say they are aligned with Al Qaeda has been “reduced significantly,” General Petraeus said, but they continue to pose a worrisome threat.”

Terrorists who ‘SAY THEY ARE ALIGNED WITH al-Qaeda?”..

I wonder if he has any idea how totally stupid this sounds. Does he have a polling staff set-up to quiz the ‘terrorists’ and ask them who they are ‘aligned’ with? Where are the results? What’s the breakdown? How many ‘terrorists’ mark the ballot for al-Qaeda?


Meantime,

•  “..The Democratic chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, Senator Joseph R. Biden Jr. of Delaware, also criticized the Bush administration’s negotiations on a lasting security agreement with Iraq and its refusal to submit the agreement to the Senate for ratification. Mr. Crocker repeated several times that the agreement being negotiated would not rise to a level requiring a Senate vote, but that did not satisfy Mr. Biden.”

I don’t know if this is the agreement that Biden is talking about, (because I think there was another one just between bush and maliki) but the Iraqis aren’t gonna go for this one that is noted below, and it pretty much pisses the rest of us off as well

Secret US Plan for Military Future in Iraq
  By Seumas Milne
  The Guardian UK
  Tuesday 08 April 2008
Document outlines powers but sets no time limit on troop presence.

  A confidential draft agreement covering the future of US forces in Iraq, passed to the Guardian, shows that provision is being made for an open-ended military presence in the country.

  The draft strategic framework agreement between the US and Iraqi governments, dated March 7 and marked “secret” and “sensitive”, is intended to replace the existing UN mandate and authorises the US to “conduct military operations in Iraq and to detain individuals when necessary for imperative reasons of security” without time limit.

  The authorisation is described as “temporary” and the agreement says the US “does not desire permanent bases or a permanent military presence in Iraq”. But the absence of a time limit or restrictions on the US and other coalition forces - including the British - in the country means it is likely to be strongly opposed in Iraq and the US.

  Iraqi critics point out that the agreement contains no limits on numbers of US forces, the weapons they are able to deploy, their legal status or powers over Iraqi citizens, going far beyond long-term US security agreements with other countries. The agreement is intended to govern the status of the US military and other members of the multinational force.

  Following recent clashes between Iraqi troops and Moqtada al-Sadr’s Mahdi army in Basra, and threats by the Iraqi government to ban his supporters from regional elections in the autumn, anti-occupation Sadrists and Sunni parties are expected to mount strong opposition in parliament to the agreement, which the US wants to see finalised by the end of July. The UN mandate expires at the end of the year.

  One well-placed Iraqi Sunni political source said yesterday: “The feeling in Baghdad is that this agreement is going to be rejected in its current form, particularly after the events of the last couple of weeks. The government is more or less happy with it as it is, but parliament is a different matter.”

http://www.truthout.org/docs_2006/040808K.shtml

Note…Maliki and his few flunkies are OK with it, BUT THEY ALWAYS HAVE BEEN OK with ANYTHING Dick Bush tries to push on them. (like the OIL Draft Law). But, the Iraqi parliament and the people of Iraq, (the ones still alive) don’t want it at all, just like they don’t want the US military in their living space.

Just like our troops don’t need to be there, and never should have been there.

Gimme a few planes and some of those privately owned cruise ships. I’ll get ‘em home.

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By Dr. Knowitall, PhD, PhD, April 8, 2008 at 5:59 pm Link to this comment

Where the fuck is the outrage?  The only one of our elected officials that tried to suggest to Crocker and Petraeus that they were employees of the American people was Voinovich, a republican.

Why did they do this?  Who was it for? 

There was absolutely no difference to my ears between today’s hearings and those with Big Oil last month.

We are being had.  If there were ever a time for outrage, it’s now. But we’re not going to get that from Levin, Hillary, Obama, Biden et al. 

Those rich sobs sat there as a public spectacle saying nothing substantive and certainly nothing that the American people have demanded to hear, all in total disregard for the mothers and fathers and their sons and daughters who are dying or being maimed in that god-forsaken place, for oil.

If I heard anything at all, we were being set up for the war in Iran to begin imminently.  We are in big fucking trouble.  Those bastards give no consideration to the families in America and Iraq whose lives they are destroying.  What a joke, the senate armed services committee is.  What a travesty the Foreign relations committee is.  And Crocker.

Today’s performance by Hillary and Obama confirms for me that neither one of them will get my vote. 
Pardon this characterization, but they’re both pussies.

Thanks, I feel marginally better.

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By jbart, April 8, 2008 at 4:17 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

BE-TRAY-US, indeed !!
Will somebody please throw this lying sack-o-shit in Levenworth already. Talk about traitors.  This guy is nothing but a “mouth piece” for you-know-who and
is a disgrace to his service and employers (a.k.a. the American public).

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By samosamo, April 8, 2008 at 2:14 pm Link to this comment

I mean this insanity just keeps on going. I really feel bad for our military, everyone below the rank of a full colonel that is. These high ranking officers are clones of the neocons and are helping perpetuate this disasterous war. All in the name of money. This is the military industrial complex working at top notch efficiency.
This ideas or motives behind it all are as blatant as the greed or as deep down at the core as a take over of the whole world to physically shape it into a place they, neocons, can live in and this because the neocons have come to realize that there are too many people for them to enjoy life as they want to enjoy and what better way than to, under the excuse of war, exterminate masses of people in war. And what other better way than for the elites, who consider themselves as the end game of humanity, than to have other people do the dirty work.

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By tyler, April 8, 2008 at 1:40 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Let’s be honest and frank for just a second.  The reality of the iraq situation has not changed from the outset, and that is that the US is going to stay in iraq for a VERY LONG TIME.

You can’t seriously expect that after building 4 mega-bases there that they would just pack up and leave, do you?

All the parading of military officers in front of congress, all the hot air from both sides.  washington should have its own academy of acting awards, because thats exactly whats going on, an elaborate act for the sake of keeping the serfs (average americans) at bay. 

In washington, just in case some of you haven’t figured it out yet, it’s not as much left vs. right as it’s rich vs. poor.

Wake up americans, your cries for withdrawl are completely in vain.

No matter who gets into the whitehouse, america will not leave iraq.  That is a gaurantee.

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By felicity, April 8, 2008 at 1:36 pm Link to this comment

Petraeus is on his third tour of duty in Iraq.  The results of his first two assignments indicate that his sole brilliance seems to lie in his uncanny ability to invent military-sounding acronyms - and little else.  (Apparently, catchy military-sounding acronyms make a profound impression on the brain-dead Bush administration, not to mention its supporters in the brain-dead Senate.)

McCain says that the goal in Iraq is an Iraq which no longer needs American troops. And who decides that, Mr. McCain?  Nobody in his right mind would pass up the opportunity to have a foreign funded police force policing its streets.  So we can eliminate the Iraqi regime, which is enriching itself big time by our presence, as the group who is about to decide we don’t need your troops, America.

Iraq is the home of an ancient peoples.  We’re a young nation and we’re getting screwed, big time.

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By QuyTran, April 8, 2008 at 1:11 pm Link to this comment

That means more US soldiers killed in vain !

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By DennisD, April 8, 2008 at 12:58 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

All this “progress” after 5 years. If we pull anyone out the whole house of cards falls down. Sounds just like our other house of cards - the U.S. economy, now running on smoke and mirrors.

These clowns will just lie and stall into infinity to keep the money flowing. Ask anyone in government what it will cost for a given project and the answer is always the same - more. More time, lives, money etc.

Congress you’re a fu*king disgrace, you’ve enabled and allowed this to continue when each and every one of you scumbags has known from the beginning that it would be another Vietnam. I hope you all rot in hell.

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By Aegrus, April 8, 2008 at 12:36 pm Link to this comment

It’s pretty disgusting how this administration uses our service men and women to forward their own agenda. Our military work off of instructions, goals and objectives. There is no politics on the ground, just in Washington. To ask a military man how progress is going, it will only be in terms of the mission. We are discussing things in political terms, and use of General Patraeus is abhorrent and irrelevant to the efficacy of a needless war of profiteering and greed. This story has zero legitimacy.

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