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With portions of Iraq now under control of the insurgents, the administration is likely to delay a risky offensive until after the U.S. elections
GROWING DOUBTS ABOUT A POLICY IN TROUBLE
As the violence in Iraq accelerates, Senator John McCain believes it was a mistake to allow the insurgents a sanctuary in the first place. A growing number of other Republicans are also concerned. McCain thinks the U.S. needs 90,000 more troops to be able to hold on in Iraq. (Brian Knowlton, The International Herald Tribune, September 20, 2004)
•McCain's interview on Fox News Sunday
•The Nation's David Corn questions whether McCain is really in the Bush camp
•Bush forced to draw on next year's $25 billion emergency budget for troop rotation and intense fighting expected in Iraq this fall.
BOB NOVAK PREDICTS THAT BUSH'S ADVISORS ARE COUNSELLING A QUICK WITHDRAWAL AFTER IRAQ'S ELECTIONS
Novak detects a growing sense in Bush's inner circle, that the only sensible option is to cut our losses and pull out of Iraq next year whether the insurgency has been brought under control or not. (Bob Novak, Chicago Sun Times, September 20, 2004)
ANTHONY CORDESMAN: MOVING BEYOND ANGER AND COUNTER-TERRORISM
Cordesman, one of the shrewdest observers of Iraq's strategic situation, warns that a purely military approach is causing more problems than it is solving. It may finally be time to see Iraq in a larger context. (Anthony Cordesman, Center for Strategic and International Studies, September 13, 2004)
•Brookings updates its Iraq index (55 pages, pdf)
American hostage, Eugene Armstrong, was beheaded by insurgents, who killed another American hostage, Jack Hensley.
•Hensley's death confirmed (AP)
INSURGENTS WANT FREEDOM OF WOMEN PRISONERS HELD BY U.S.
Rihab Rashid Taha, known as "Dr. Germ" worked on Saddam's biological warfare program in the 1980s. She is one of two "high-profile" women prisoners held by the U.S. The other, Huda Salih Mahdi Ammash, is also accused of doing research on bioweapons. Iraq's justice minister announced that Rihab would be freed, and was then overruled by Iraq's prime minister. The prisoners are in U.S. custody. .>>Read details here>>(BBC, September 22, 2004)
DID THE PENTAGON HIDE 17,000 CASUALTIES?
The UPI's Mark Benjamin reports that the Pentagon has managed to avoid drawing attention to 17,000 non-combat injuries and illnesses in Iraq and Afghanistan by quietly flying soldiers to medical facilities outside the combat zone. Injuries have ranged from sprained backs to persistent fever and kidney stones. (Mark Benjamin, Editor & Publisher, September 15, 2004)
INCIDENT ON HAIFA STREET
Tom Engelhardt, writing in Tom Dispatch.com provides an excellent index to the week's coverage. The bottom line: not only is the tempo of the war picking up, but the insurgency is becoming more sophisticated in its strategy. (Tom Engelhardt, TomDispatch.com, September 20, 2004)
•Who is actually running Fallujah these days?
Diyah Rassan, writing for the Institute of War, Peace Reporting, profiles the forces on the ground, including the "Black Banners." (Diyah Rassan, IWPR, September 17, 2004)
•JUAN COLE ON THE ASSASSINATIONS OF TWO SHIITE CLERICS
THE CONSEQUENCES OF A U.S. DEFEAT
Pan-Arab nationalist, Khair al-Din Hasib, who was imprisoned for two years by Saddam Hussein, finds that Iraq's hand-picked transitional government has little credibility among Iraqis. Hasib predicts that a U.S. defeat in Iraq will change the alignment of power in the Middle East. (Khair al-Din Hasib, interviewed in Al Jazeera, September 9, 2004)
THE INVESTMENT DILEMMA OF OIL PRODUCERS
Bassam Fattouh, at the School of African and Oriental Studies at London University, notes that investment in new sources of oil and refineries, hit a low point when an earlier U.S. recession cut worldwide demand. No one expects cheap oil to come back anytime soon, but investors are holding back until the market becomes less volatile. (Bassam Fattouh, Middle East Economic Digest, September 15, 2004)
IRAN IN IRAQ'S SHADOW
Richard Russell, writing in the Autumn edition of Parameters (the quarterly of the U.S. Army War College) cautions that it would be a mistake to look at Iran solely through the prism of our experience in Iraq. While Iran is clearly trying to develop a nuclear weapon, its motivations are quite different from those of Saddam Hussein. (Richard Russell, Parameters, Autumn 2004)
CHINA: JIANG BOWS OUT
Jiang Zeming's decision to accept retirement marks the ultimate transition to the era of Hu Jintao. Li Yong Yan analyzes recent developments in Asia Times, September 21, 2004)
•The transition involved considerable last minute maneuvering
CHINA KEEPS HONG KONG DEMOCRACY UNDER CONTROL THROUGH A MASTERFUL BLEND OF INTIMIDATION AND INCENTIVES
Willy Lam analyzes China's effective strategy for keeping pro-democracy activists off balance during the recent elections for Hong Kong's Legislative Council. (Willy Lam, Jamestown Foundation, September 16, 2004)
RUSSIA PLANS PREEMPTIVE STRIKES AGAINST TERRORIST SUSPECTS
Following George Bush's philosophy, Russia plans to act preemptively against terrorist bases, regardless of where they are in the world. Speaking to a mayor's conference, Putin said he did not plan to use nuclear weapons. He cited various Bush administration declarations as proof that preemptive strikes are within the bounds of international law. (Russia Journal, September 20, 2004)
Russian police round up 16,000 people in Moscow in one day, and deport 850.
THE U.S. DEBATES HOW MUCH HELP TO GIVE RUSSIA IN THE WAR AGAINST TERROR
The U.S. is torn between wanting to support Russia's efforts to defend itself against terrorist attacks and sympathizing with the victims of Russia's counterproductive policies. Ira Straus points out in the Center for Defense Information, that it is an issue that needs clarification soon. (Ira Straus, CDI, September 16, 2004)
Despite the war in Iraq, Osama Bin Laden is still the main concern for survivors of 9/11
IMAGINING THE ULTIMATE CAMPAIGN AD
The Village Voice's Wayne Barrett notes that the Republican Convention only mentioned Osama Bin Laden once. For most Americans, though, Bin Laden remains the
ultimate villain of 9/11. It is a fact of life that the Kerry campaign seems to have overlooked.
As Barret puts it: "With all its metered focus groups, the Kerry campaign remains blind to the core weakness of the Bush campaign. It is not Iraq, still a 50-50 proposition with American voters. The economy is backdrop when life-and-death fear grips us. It is the abject failure of the Bush team to make America safer—either by corralling the killers or raising the defenses. Three times as many Americans died in two hours on 9-11 than have died in 18 months in Iraq, and the country trembles with belief that many more could die tomorrow. No one better embodies the dismal three-year Bush record on terror than bin Laden and Zawahiri, who resurfaced in a new tape just last week looking healthy and threatening, an ace in a card deck the White House has yet to deal.
(Wayne Barrett, The Village Voice, September 14, 2004)
CBS ADMITS THAT DOCUMENTS CONCERNING BUSH'S NATIONAL GUARD SERVICE CANNOT BE VERIFIED
Although a former secretary for the National Guard says the substance of documents concerning George Bush's National Guard service sounds right, the documents themselves may be forgeries. They could be the work of political tricksters on the left or right or somewhere in between, but the point is that CBS should have been more rigorous in its reporting. Boston University's Bob Zelnick and the Los Angeles Times' Tim Rutten discussed the case on PBS' Jim Lehrer NewsHour. As Zelnick put it: "I think the problem was the mind set. They were so sure that there was wrongdoing by George W. Bush during his National Guard days that they tended to suspend their judgment. They suspended their skepticism. They accepted people, they accepted documents that they should normally and would in the course of investigative reporting have rejected. They didn't hear cautionary voices that they otherwise should have heard..."
(Robert Zelnick, Tim Rutten, PBS NewsHour, September 21, 2004)