Sixteen months after flood waters surged through New Orleans’ 9th Ward following the landfall of Hurricane Katrina and the bursting of levees, the devastated section of the city “remains all but vacant,” The Times-Picayune reports today. Only 3 percent of the ward’s homeowners have applied for electrical permits — “enough to power only 152 houses.“
Percent of Americans who support President Bush’s management of the war in Iraq, a record low, down from 34 percent in October. A record 70 percent “said they disapproved of his handling of the nearly 4-year-old war.”
I’m against it, naturally. So is Rod Dreher. He seems concerned, however, that American Muslims may be for it:
Trying to get at the heart of the matter, I asked if they thought sharia should be the law of the land in our secular pluralistic democracy. Another round of long-winded answers, amounting to, “It would never happen here.” That’s not what I’m asking, I said; should it happen here. Someone explained that Muslim community would never be big enough in this country to make that happen. Which is, of course, entirely beside the point, but we moved on. I had my answer.
Evasive! Well, obviously, I oppose efforts to impose sharia law on the United States in the strongest possible terms. I wonder if Dreher will join me in trying to get mail delivered on liquor stores open on Sundays. As bad as a sharia-style total ban on alcohol sales? Clearly not. And yet, I find this stuff annoying.
Rep. Ike Skelton (D-MO), the incoming chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, has released a statement expressing his serious concern over proposals to increase the U.S. presence in Iraq by up to 50,000 troops:
“The recent speculation in the press regarding an increase of 20,000 to 30,000 or even 50,000 troops in Iraq has left me with many concerns. Everything I’ve heard and everything I know to be true lead me to believe that this increase at best won’t change a thing, and at worst could exacerbate the situation even further. I am also extremely concerned about the additional burden that would be placed on the Army and Marine Corps.
“The Iraqis need to understand that responsibility for the future of that country is theirs. Beginning the redeployment of some number of American forces would send that message. I urge the President to carefully consider this option to help move the political situation in Iraq forward.
Yesterday, incoming Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) said he could support a brief increase in troop levels but only as part of a plan for phased withdrawal. Former Secretary of State Colin Powell and Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY), a member of the Armed Services Committee, have said they do not favor troop increases.
Read Skelton’s full statement: Read more
Flynt Leverett, a Middle East analyst who served under President Bush on the National Security Council, revealed on Friday that the White House has been blocking the publication of an op-ed he wrote for the New York Times. The column is critical of the administration’s refusal to engage Iran. Leverett accused the White House of trying to “silence an established critic of the administration’s foreign policy incompetence.” (Steve Clemons, Christy Hardin Smith, and Juan Cole have more.)
Today, Tony Snow was asked about Leverett’s allegations at the White House press briefing. At first, Snow admitted, “I don’t know anything about it.” Moments later, however, he issued a definitive denial. “The White House is not blocking his writings,” Snow said.
UPDATE: NDN Blog has more.
Transcript: Read more
Not that this wasn’t unexpected, but I think David Stern’s really gone overboard with the post-brawl suspensions. For one thing, from a basic PR standpoint I think overreacting to the fight in the post-Palace era actually does more to re-enforce the idea that the NBA has a discipline problem than it does to enhance the league’s image. The qualitative difference between players scuffling with each other in response to a dirty on-court play and players going into the stands to mix it up with misbehaving fans strikes me as enormous and something that should have been kept front-and-center. You’ve got to penalize guys who were throwing punches, but there’s no need for it to be this drastic.
What’s more, this just seems fundamentally unfair to the Nuggets to me. On balance, this incident was the Knicks’ fault. Collins’ foul was over-the-line and came in a situation where there was no call for hard fouls of any sort. Then, as best I can tell, it was Nate Robinson who transformed a post-flagrant dispute into a fight. But the balance of punishment that’s being doled out is overwhelmingly against the Nuggets. The suspensions to Robinson, Jeffries, and Collins won’t hurt the team very much and New York had little to lose anyway. Ten games without JR Smith and fifteen without Carmelo Anthony will probably be the difference-maker in keeping Denver out of the playoffs. It doesn’t sit right with me, though Wolves, Warriors, and Clippers fans will presumably hail Stern’s brand of harsh justice.
On an unrelated note, I’d like to associate myself with Bethlehem Shoals’ take on Allen Iverson.
Retired General Jack Keane is an “influential member of the Pentagon’s Defense Policy Board” who met with President Bush last week to push his plan to send 40,000 more U.S. troops to Iraq. According to media reports, President Bush is leaning toward taking Keane’s advice.
In the most recent issue of the Weekly Standard, editor Fred Barnes lauds Keane’s plan. He explains that is an “application” of the “counterinsurgency approach” that was executed “so successfully” in Vietnam:
The Keane-Kagan plan is not revolutionary. Rather, it is an application of a counterinsurgency approach that has proved to be effective elsewhere, notably in Vietnam. There, Gen. Creighton Abrams cleared out the Viet Cong so successfully that the South Vietnamese government took control of the country. Only when Congress cut off funds to South Vietnam in 1974 were the North Vietnamese able to win.
Barnes is parroting the view of Henry Kissinger. Bob Woodward explained in his book, State of Denial:
Kissinger sensed wobbliness everywhere on Iraq, and he increasingly saw it through the prism of the Vietnam War. For Kissinger, the overriding lesson of Vietnam is to stick it out.
In his writing, speeches and private comments, Kissinger claimed that the United States had essentially won the war in 1972, only to lose it because of the weakened resolve of the public and Congress.
You know Iraq is going badly when people suggest the way to turn it around is to make it more like Vietnam.
Iran’s local elections seem to have gone poorly for Mahmoud Ahmadinejad with his slate facing a variety of setbacks in local council elections. Someone who knows more about Iran than I do indicated that there was more significance in the results for something called the Experts’ Council, where Ahmadinejad’s allies also fared poorly. As Sam points out, however, despite all the attention he’s gotten in the West, Ahmadinejad doesn’t control Iran’s foreign policy nor neither his ascendancy nor its reversal should have any potential implications. One doubts that such minor things as “recent events” or “accurate analysis of the Iranian government” will deter America’s Iran hawks, however.
Speaking of which, two good policy papers on Iran out recent. Here’s Justin Logan on why starting a war with Iran is a bad idea. Here’s Flynt Leverett on how to strike a deal with Iran. And here’s the White House trying to stop Leverett from publishing.
– Navy veteran Donald Vance, who “went to Iraq as a security contractor, became a whistle-blower about possible illegal weapons trading at the firm for which he was working, and ended up being erroneously detained for 97 days at the military’s maximum-security detention facility in Baghdad.”