“Americans have opened nearly 1,000 new graves to bury U.S. troops killed in Iraq since Memorial Day a year ago. The figure is telling — and expected to rise in coming months. In the period from Memorial Day 2006 through Saturday, 980 soldiers and Marines died in Iraq, compared to 807 deaths in the previous year.”
Center for American Progress senior fellow Lawrence Korb and research associate Max Bergmann write in today’s Los Angeles Times that if Bush wants to maintain his escalation, he should call for reinstating the draft:
That would be the responsible path. Yet the president will never call for the draft. He knows the country would never support the level of sacrifice for this war that implementing a draft would demand. But this is one of the very reasons why the all-volunteer Army was designed the way it was — to prevent a commander in chief from fighting a war that lacks the support of the public.
If the president is committed to fighting the war in Iraq over the long term, instead of simply running out the clock on his presidency, he should have the courage of his convictions and call for reinstating the draft. If not, the only responsible course is to set a timetable to bring the troops home.
“The Bush administration has dismantled a special committee that was established last year to coordinate aggressive actions against Iran and Syria, State Department officials said this week.”
The interagency group, known as the Iran Syria Policy and Operations Group, met weekly throughout much of 2006 to coordinate actions such as curtailing Iran’s access to credit and banking institutions, organizing the sale of military equipment to Iran’s neighbors, and supporting democratic forces that oppose the two regimes.
State Department and White House officials said the dissolution of the group was simply a bureaucratic reorganization, but many analysts saw it as evidence of a softening in the US strategy toward the two countries. It comes as the Bush administration has embarked on a significant new effort to hold high-level meetings with Iran and Syria.
Several presidential candidates, including former Sen. John Edwards (D-NC) and Sens. Hillary Clinton (D-NY) and Barack Obama (D-IL) have withdrawn from the Fox News debate cosponsored by the Congressional Black Caucus. But others are still mulling the decision:
The sensitivities surrounding the issue were evident this week when a spokeswoman for Gov. Bill Richardson of New Mexico, who is seeking the Democratic presidential nomination, said Mr. Richardson would not participate in the debate, which is scheduled for September. But only a few hours later, the spokeswoman phoned the reporter to say that she had misspoken, and that Mr. Richardson had yet to decide. [...]
While Senator Joseph R. Biden Jr. of Delaware said this week through a spokesman that he would be there, he may not have much company; representatives for two other Democratic candidates, Senator Christopher J. Dodd of Connecticut and Representative Dennis J. Kucinich of Ohio, did not respond to messages asking whether they were in or out.
Last night on PBS’s NewsHour, New York Times columnist David Brooks argued that Congress acted “reasonably responsibly” in removing timelines from the Iraq supplemental.
Brooks incoherently argued, “The country wants to get out of Iraq, but they don’t want to get out precipitously. They want a managed withdrawal. The majority just isn’t there. So the majority in the Congress had to accede to those two realities.” Watch it:
It’s unclear what point Brooks is trying to make. He either doesn’t understand what the American public wants or he doesn’t understand the timetable legislation.
Brooks’ own paper conducted a poll recently that found “sixty-three percent say the United States should set a date for withdrawing troops from Iraq sometime in 2008.” The bill that the Senate and House passed with bipartisan majorities — and Bush vetoed on the fourth anniversary of Mission Accomplished — set a goal for the phased withdrawal to be completed by April 2008.
It certainly strikes me as likely, though not inevitable, that after we leave Iraq there will be an increase in the level of violence. So should we stay? No. On Memoir Day Weekend 2006 it was true that if we left Iraq there would likely be an increase in the level of violence. Memorial Day Weekend 2005? Same deal. 2004? Same. 2003? Same.
Trend lines matter. We’ve been in Iraq a long time now, and our presence keeps not improving the situation. The fact that the actual leaving may well be difficult is no reason to simply prolong the need to leave.
The 110th Congress has now been in session for 150 days. During that time, the House has passed all 10 bills it promised during the 2006 campaign, including enacting the 9/11 Commission recommendations, lobbying reform, a minimum wage hike, and stem cell research. The Senate has passed 6 of the 10; 3 others are currently being considered. The White House has signed just two of the bills. It has vetoed or threatened to veto 5. See the New York Times chart on the right for details.
Michael Moore yesterday gave his first live interview in over two years with HBO’s Bill Maher, discussing his new film on the U.S. health care industry, Sicko. Watch it:
You can watch the new trailer for Sicko HERE.
“A federal appeals court on Friday denied an organization permission to stage an antiwar demonstration on Saturday on the grounds of the United States Military Academy at West Point, where Vice President Dick Cheney is to deliver the commencement address. The court said the mere presence of the vice president does not turn West Point into a public forum and is not an ‘open invitation’ to about 1,000 protesters who had hoped to march onto the campus.”
The White House is playing down the New York Times report that the Bush administration “was weighing a scenario for possibly sharp cuts in U.S. troop levels in Iraq next year.” Spokeswoman Dana Perino: “We, of course, would like to be in a position to bring down troop levels, but certain conditions, as assessed by senior military advisers and commanders on the ground, need to be met to warrant that.”