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Weekend Journal: July 13-15, 2007

When Even Robert Novak Is Worth a Read

Novak writing of National security adviser Stephen J. Hadley's visit with Congressional leaders just before July 4: "Hadley called his expedition a "scouting trip," leading one senator to ask what he was seeking. It was not advice on how to escape from Iraq. Instead, Hadley appeared interested in how previous supporters of Bush's course had drifted away. In the process, though, he planted seeds of concern. Some senators were left with the impression that the White House still does not recognize the scope of the Iraq dilemma. Worse yet, they see the president running out the clock until April, when a depleted U.S. military can be blamed for the fiasco."

Why haven't we read more about the military's impending depletion? What's Novak referring to? The fact that the army is out of tour extensions, and out of recruits? More Novak:

Based on what Hadley said, one senator concluded that "they just do not recognize the depth of the difficulty they are in." That difficulty entails running out of troops in nine months. Hadley increased latent fears of the U.S. military being made the fall guy -- a concern shared by many retired and some active senior officers, including a current infantry division commander. During his expedition, Hadley was asked why Bush named a serving Army officer -- Lt. Gen. Douglas Lute -- as a deputy national security adviser and "czar" of operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. Isn't that Hadley's job? Freshman Democratic Sen. Jim Webb, a lawmaker who has worn the nation's uniform in combat, was one of four senators who voted against Lute's confirmation. He told the Senate that Lute's return to the Army after serving in the administration would threaten the military's status as a "non-political organization." […] [Chuck] Hagel in the Financial Times last week [called] for an international mediator in Iraq under U.N. Security Council auspices. Hagel had advocated that proposal in a private letter to Bush several weeks earlier. Instead of the president responding to an overture from a longtime critic, Hagel was answered in routine fashion by a third-level bureaucrat (Jeffrey Bergner, assistant secretary of state for legislative affairs). As the first in a succession of Republican senators to be critical of Bush's Iraq policy, Hagel feared the worst when he returned home to conservative Nebraska for Fourth of July parades. Instead, he was pleasantly surprised by cheers and calls for the troops to be brought home. Perhaps a White House scouting trip into the American heartland might be worthwhile.

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Progress in Iraq?

The Times today asks its readers what they think of the kind of progress Bush’s Arabian Nights are achieving. The Times put it this way: “Do you think we have made progress in Iraq?” Funny answers:

  • “are you joking?”
  • “ha ha …. good joke. How about asking us some real questions; like should George Bush be impeached.”
  • “Maybe we’ve been ‘down’ so long that any movement looks like ‘up’ to the few remaining Bush supporters but that’s probably because they have their heads stuck in a place where the sun don’t shine.”
  • “Bush doesn’t want Congress to dictate war policy. Technically, he is correct. As Commander In Chief, he directs the war. But, as a practical matter, Congress has the Constitutional power to cease funding (end) the war. That gives them leverage to do just that - dictate policy (or at least, negotiate policy), or the war ends. Since this is what the overwhelming majority of the people want, Congress has the President over a barrel.”
  • “arrogant, clueless, inept but resolute!”
  • “If committing mass murder in a foreign country and murdering and maiming our own troops is “progress”, then “we” have definitely made it!”
  • “I have a “gut feeling” We’re knocking them dead!!! Bring em on!!!”
  • “There is progress in Irak. Towards the abyss”

See them all here.

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THE WEEKEND JOURNAL: JULY 13-15, 2007
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