The Iraq War lurches into the ‘win’ column

by twit

We’re pulling out of Iraq.

Via McClatchy on August 7, 2008:

BAGHDAD — The United States and Iraq are nearing completion of negotiations on a security agreement that would pull American troops out of Iraqi cities by next July and foresees all U.S. combat troops gone from Iraq by 2011, according to two Iraqi officials who are familiar with the negotiations.

… The U.S. agreement to set a specific date for the end of American operations in Iraqi cities and the withdrawal of U.S. combat forces marks a major turnaround for the Bush administration, which until last month had refused to discuss a timetable for withdrawal.

However, Iraqi officials were insistent that a date of some sort needed to be set.

… Under the agreement, the United States would pull its troops from Iraqi cities and onto American bases in Iraq by June 30, 2009, according to the Iraqi officials familiar with the negotiations.

We’ve won.

Diplomacy, what is it good for?

by twit

According to President Bush, absolutely nothing. From CNN on May 15, 2008:

In his first address to Israel’s parliament Thursday, President Bush reiterated the United States’ “unbreakable” alliance with the Jewish state and denounced calls to negotiate with “terrorists and radicals.”

In a speech before the Knesset, Bush compared calls to talk with unnamed terrorist groups as a “foolish delusion” that was suggested before World War II.

“As Nazi tanks crossed into Poland in 1939, an American senator declared, ‘Lord, if only I could have talked to Hitler, all of this might have been avoided,’ ” Bush said. “We have an obligation to call this what it is — the false comfort of appeasement, which has been repeatedly discredited by history.”

We already know that the Bush Administration doesn’t follow this rhetoric when implementing its actual foreign policy. We’ve already seen Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice talk about how “very supportive” the United States is of the government in Lebanon, despite its ties to Hezbollah and the US condemnation of this “terrorist organization.”

The latest development in diplomacy is reported by The Guardian on July 16, 2008:

The US is planning to establish a diplomatic presence in Tehran for the first time in 30 years, a remarkable turnaround in policy by president George Bush who has pursued a hawkish approach to Iran throughout his time in office.

The Guardian has learned that an announcement will be made in the next month to establish a US interests section in Tehran, a halfway house to setting up a full embassy. The move will see US diplomats stationed in the country.

But who will the Republicans criticize now? CBS News reports on July 9, 2008:

Obama has been criticized by Republicans for being too eager to engage enemies of the U.S. in talks.

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I so want this to be true

by lestro

I love the idea of a younger John McCain yanking some dude out of his chair. It would almost give me reason to like the guy, assuming the cause of the outburst was justified…

One of John McCain’s Republican colleagues says he saw the presumed GOP presidential nominee roughly grab an associate of Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega and lift him out of his chair during a diplomatic mission to the Central American nation in 1987 [...]

“McCain was down at the end of the table and we were talking to the head of the guerrilla group here at this end of the table and I don’t know what attracted my attention,” [Thad] Cochran (R-Miss.) said in an interview with the Sun Herald in Biloxi, Miss.

“But I saw some kind of quick movement at the bottom of the table and I looked down there and John had reached over and grabbed this guy by the shirt collar and had snatched him up like he was throwing him up out of the chair to tell him what he thought about him or whatever …”

Man, I’d love to know what that guy said to set off McCain, a guy with a temper that reportedly gets the better of him. This “Angry Johnny” schtick is nothing new, because back when he was running against Bush in 2000, Mac’s temper was also an issue, so much that the Washington Post and The Arizona Republic felt it necessary to bring up.

In a front page article and separate editorial Sunday, The Arizona Republic said it wanted the nation to know about the “volcanic” temper McCain has unleashed on several top state officials.

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Condoleezza Rice is “just very supportive” of Hezbollah

by twit

Slog points this bit out from a June 17, 2008 article by the NYT:

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice made a surprise visit to Lebanon on Monday, the first by a senior American official since an agreement last month that handed decisive new powers to Hezbollah, the militant Shiite group that the United States considers a terrorist organization.

Ms. Rice met with government leaders from both the government majority and the Hezbollah-led opposition

but there’s so much more!

“Congratulations,” Ms. Rice said as she shook hands with President Michel Suleiman, the former army chief who took office last month, filling a post that had been vacant for six months. “We are all just very supportive of your presidency and your government.”

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welcome to the future

by twit

Yesterday, in response to a report that hundreds of Tibetans have been killed since March 10, 2008, lestro wondered, “what if they hosted an Olympics and no one came?” and that made a lot of sense when we were just looking at the reports collected by Boing Boing, including this:

It was impossible not to notice that the United States removed China from its list of top 10 human rights violators just as the biggest anti-China protests in 20 years erupted in Tibet.

[...] China had a chance to shine for its Olympic coming-out party and is blowing it. Its leaders will continue to have to battle protests and unrest — and endure international reproach — until they ensure more freedom for all their citizens, including greater religious tolerance and freedom for Tibet.

from the New York Times Editorial Board, that maybe missed a bit of news before going to print with the phrase ‘international reproach,’ because it turns out that when it comes to the Olympics, it is exactly the opposite:

The European Union is not in favor of a growing call for a boycott of the Beijing Olympics to express disapproval over China’s crackdown on pro-independent movements in Tibet.

[...] Russia even supported the Chinese government. In a statement, Russia’s Foreign Ministry said, “Russia has repeatedly declared that it views Tibet as an inalienable part of China, and considers the resolution of relations with the Dalai Lama to be an internal matter of the People’s Republic of China.”

Even the Dalai Lama, although he condemned China for its rule of terror and cultural genocide, stopped short of calling for a boycott of the Olympic games.

[...] [Thomas Bach, German vice president of the International Olympic Committee] stressed sports organizations are not world governments and cannot solve problems that decades of international leaders and head of governments had tried, but likewise failed.

The Olympics are an international gesture of goodwill and an economic boom for the country hosting it. Historically, it has not been immune from being drawn into the fray of international conflicts. Fundamentally, it is a diplomatic exercise whether it wants to be or not.

I thought diplomacy was exactly how we are supposed to approach violations of international law. Especially when China sits as a permanent member of the Security Council. What else can be done?

Martin Luther King, Jr. sums it up well:

The ultimate tragedy is not the oppression and cruelty by the bad people but the silence over that by the good people.

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