Britain’s envoy to Iraq, Alastair Campbell, says the escalation is not working. “Campbell, whose remarks may cause embarrassment to Downing Street and anger in Washington,” said last week, “The evidence does not suggest that the surge is actually working, if reduction in casualties is a criterion. The figures in April were not encouraging.”
During a private White House meeting earlier this year, President Bush and Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Peter Pace were asked by a group of governors about their backup plan for Iraq. “The conclusion they took away, the governors later said, was that there is no Plan B.” Pace reportedly told them, “Plan B was to make Plan A work.”
But according to conservative Washington Post columnist Jim Hoagland, Plan B may be something far more dramatic: “Using Iraq as a springboard and rationale for an American military strike into Iran,” and “strong-arming the admittedly faltering government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki out of office and replacing Maliki with a U.S.-anointed Iraqi savior.”
Arab allies are urging such a course on Bush and would not object to U.S. military action against Iran. There is growing concern in Baghdad that Washington is developing a “Plan B” that involves both hitting Iran and ousting Maliki — who ironically was brought to office by American pressure to force out Ibrahim al-Jafari, Maliki’s predecessor. The concern is augmented by demands from both sides of the aisle in Congress that Maliki meet obviously unrealistic benchmarks quickly or face a cutoff of U.S. support.
Hoagland says such a plan would only “expand the current disaster,” and CentCom Commander
Gen. Admiral William Fallon reportedly “expressed strong opposition in February to an administration plan to increase the number of carrier strike groups in the Persian Gulf from two to three and vowed privately there would be no war against Iran as long as he was chief of CENTCOM.”
But the administration continues to rattle its sabers, most recently when Vice President Dick Cheney “used the deck of an American aircraft carrier just 150 miles off Iran’s coast as the backdrop…to warn the country that the United States was prepared to use its naval power to keep Tehran from disrupting off oil routes or ‘gaining nuclear weapons and dominating this region.’”
Thinking more about immigration policy, Mark Krikorian outlines the sort of compromise he’d think about:
But if they wanted a genuine compromise that would lead to amnesty, they needed to pair it with an end to future mass immigration — not just (theortically) re-orienting a portion of the family visas at some distant point in the future, but abolishing them now, along with deep cuts in employment-based and refugee immigration as well.
This sort of thing, I think, is what makes compromise so hard to come by. It’s genuinely ridiculous, in my opinion, that we accept the level of illegal immigration that we have right now. It’s ridiculous, rather than just plain bad, because it seems we could put a stop to it fairly easily. The basic shape of a crackdown-plus-amnesty compromise makes a ton of sense. The restrictionist view that implementation of an amnesty should be conditional on some evidence that the cracking down is having an impact makes sense. And with that framework in place, we could then allow for the level of immigration to the United States to be set by law in a manner of our choosing.
At this point, though, efforts at compromise totally break down. Mark Krikorian is upset about high levels of illegal immigration because he’s upset about high levels of immigration. He’s afraid of the looming Hispanic Pizza Menace. I, on other hand, have no such concerns. It seems undesirable to me to have large numbers of people living and working in the country illegally, but I have no problem with large numbers of people coming here from around the world to live and work. If I were dictator, we would step up enforcement, then have an amnesty, then raise the levels of legal immigration. Compromise efforts, however, keep trying blur the lines between people who want to reduce illegal immigration as part of an effort to reduce the number of foreign-born people in the United States, and people who want to reduce illegal immigration as part of an effort to reduce the number of illegal immigrants in the country, people whose status has become a large moral and practical problem.
It’s hard, however, to see legislation that could actually embody those goals — they’re too much in conflict.
“History will record that both of them saw the threat to the West posed by terrorism and responded courageously.”
The Washington Post today runs a powerful story on Arlington National Cemetary’s Section 60, home to the “the graves of 336 men and women killed in Iraq and Afghanistan — almost one in 10 of the dead.”
Mothers and widows, friends and regretful exes write intimate notes, some as casual as a message stuck on a refrigerator door.
“I called your old cellphone the other day. Someone named Brian has it now, and I couldn’t help but wonder if he knew anything about you.”
“It was so wonderful having lunch with you. Now that I know how easy it is to get here by Metro, I’ll come by way more often.”
Here, the deaths haven’t been fully absorbed. People talk to their dead. They still see their dead. “Somebody drives by,” says Linda Bishop, a few feet from the grave site of her son Jeff, “and you think it’s him. You see him.” The phone rings, says Xiomara Mena Anderson, standing over the grave of her son Andy, and “I always think it’s him.”
It’s been indicated to me that John Edwards’ forthcoming speech at the Council on Foreign Relations on Wednesday will substantially assuage my concerns about his national security vision.
If this were the daily sunset you had gotten used to growing up, you would understand the hesitancy of even Bill McKibben, a renowned environmentalist, to okay wind turbines on the horizon, interfering with bird migration in order to generate electricity.
However, in an opinion article in which McKibben confesses his sentiment, entitled “One world, one problem“, he ultimately resolves,
McKibben goes on to write a testament to the gravity of climate change and its meaning for the environmental movement, which the existential call for action is uniting. No matter your top concern – clean water, dolphin populations, crop survival, energy consumption – there is a link to climate change and a bigger picture to keep in mind.
Muqtada al-Sadr goes in for a little political repositioning, “reaching out to a broad array of Sunni leaders” and distancing itself from the US-backed, Shiite-led Iraqi government that it once supported. Sadr’s swung back and forth on this kind of thing, so I don’t think it need be seen as reflecting any true change of heart. Still, he seems like a pretty canny politician who has a better grasp than most Americans on the state of Iraqi public opinion.
Thus, when he has his minions saying things like “We want to aim the guns against the occupation and al-Qaeda, not between Iraqis” I think that’s a sound indication that this is the political sweet spot in Iraq. That, in turn, is just another indication that if we leave Iraq, there’ll be nothing left for Iraqis to do but turn on al-Qaeda; it’s only the fact of the occupation that prevents the objective unpopularity of al-Qaeda from becoming the most salient thing.