FACT SHEET: COMBATING TERRORISM WORLDWIDE - (WHITE HOUSE NEWS, AUGUST 6): The White House released the following fact sheet which states, inter alia, that "[a] secure environment is necessary to help the Government of Afghanistan with reconstruction and development. We and our ISAF [International Security Assistance Force] Allies and partners are implementing a comprehensive approach in Afghanistan that integrates stability operations with economic revitalization, the development of infrastructure, better governance, public diplomacy, a sound approach to counter-narcotics, and cooperation with Pakistan."
GENERAL JAMES MATTIS - ATTACKING THE AL QAEDA "NARRATIVE" - JIM GUIRARD (SMALL WARS JOURNAL, AUGUST 7): In public statements and in several Small Wars Journal postings, Dr. Dave Kilcullen of General David Petraeus' senior staff in Baghdad entered very slowly, very prudently into the virtually verboten realm of attacking al Qaeda-style Terrorism in Islamic religious context, rather than in Western secular terms. But even these measured Kilcullen attacks on the terrorists' religious legitimacy were in conflict with the State Department's basic rule in such matters. As stated on page 25 of the US National Startegy for Public Diplomacy and Strategic Communication, the official advisory is, in part, as follows: Use caution when dealing with faith issues. Government officials should be extremely cautious and, if possible, avoid using religious language, because it can mean different things and can be easily misunderstood...
BOOKS: WHY DO THEY HATE US? STRANGE ANSWERS LIE IN AL-QAIDA'S WRITINGS - REZA ASLAN (SLATE, AUGUST 6): It seems the president of the United States talks more about al-Qaida's goals than al-Qaida itself does. Rarely, if ever, do Bin Laden and Zawahiri discuss any specific social or political policy. What al-Qaida does lay out, however, are grievances, a means of weaving local and global resentments into a single anti-American narrative, the overarching aim of which is to form a collective identity across borders and nationalities, and to convince the world that it is locked in a cosmic contest between the forces of Truth and Falsehood, Belief and Unbelief, Good and Evil, Us and Them.
FIGHTING TERRORISTS REQUIRES UNDERSTANDING THEIR CONCEPT OF TIME: THE STRUGGLE AGAINST TERRORISM CAN BE IMPROVED ONLY WHEN THE PARTICULAR ISLAMIST VISION OF TIME IS FIRST RECOGNIZED, THEN CHALLENGED AND TRANSFORMED - LOUIS RENÉ BERES (CHRISTIAN SCIENCE MONITOR, AUGUST 8): Before we can win the war on terror, the jihadist terrorists will first need to be convinced that they are not now living in profane time, and that every intended act of sacrificial killing would represent an authentic betrayal of Islam. The great majority of Islamic clergy all over the world may already accept this salutary view, however silently. We must now urge them to speak up -- to call extremists back from the brink.
WHY TERRORISTS AREN'T SOLDIERS - WESLEY K. CLARK AND KAL RAUSTIALA (NEW YORK TIMES, AUGUST 8): The line between soldier and civilian has long been central to the law of war. Today that line is being blurred in the struggle against transnational terrorists. Since 9/11 the Bush administration has sought to categorize members of Al Qaeda and other jihadists as 'unlawful combatants' rather than treat them as criminals.
KILL OR CONVERT, BROUGHT TO YOU BY THE PENTAGON - MAX BLUMENTHAL (NATION, AUGUST 8/COMMON DREAMS): Operation Straight Up (OSU) is an evangelical entertainment troupe that actively proselytizes among active-duty members of the US military. As an official arm of the Defense Department's America Supports You program, OSU plans to mail copies of the controversial apocalyptic video game, Left Behind: Eternal Forces to soldiers serving in Iraq.
TOURISTS AND INVESTORS TO IRAQ? WHY NOT, SAY KURDS REUTERS (NEW YORK TIMES, AUGUST 7): The Kurds' main argument to persuade foreigners to visit and invest is security: there is no other place in Iraq where a foreigner can shop in local markets or walk the streets without fear of being killed or kidnapped.
DESPERATE IRAQIS FLEE COUNTRY - JAMES PALMER (WASHINGTON TIMES, AUGUST 8): More than 2 million Iraqis are estimated to have left the country in the more than four years since the fall of dictator Saddam Hussein.
TRIBAL CONNECTIONS: HOW COURTING SHEIKS SLOWED VIOLENCE IN IRAQ; MARINES TRY PAYMENTS, ALLIANCES IN ANBAR AREA; CHASING OUT AL QAEDA - GREG JAFFE (WALL STREET JOURNAL, AUGUST 8): The success in Anbar Province, which lies west of Baghdad, hasn't come easily. The key to the U.S. campaign has been recruiting, cultivating, and rewarding tribal leaders. But as remarkable as the turnaround here has been, it isn't clear how broad or lasting the gains will be.
IN THE MIDDLE OF A CIVIL WAR - GIAN P. GENTILE (WASHINGTON POST, AUGUST 7): The nature of the violence in Iraq is civil war.
THE MYTH OF MISTRUST: THE US BEMOANS THE LACK OF TRUST BETWEEN IRAQ'S SUNNIS AND SHIAS, WHICH ONLY SERVES TO HEIGHTEN THE CONTRADICTIONS OF THEIR OWN POLICY IN THE REGION - DILIP HIRO (GUARDIAN, AUGUST 8/COMMON DREAMS)
A NEW TUNE: ANALYSTS SEE PROGRESS IN IRAQ ? EDITORIAL (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, AUGUST 5): There is enough good happening on the battlefields of Iraq today that Congress should plan on sustaining the effort at least into 2008.
THE TENUOUS CASE FOR STRATEGIC PATIENCE IN IRAQ: A TRIP REPORT ANTHONY CORDESMAN (CENTER FOR INTERNATIONAL & STRATEGIC STUDIES, AUGUST 6): The U.S. also now has a country team in Iraq that is far more capable than in the past, and which may be able to develop and implement the kind of cohesive plans for US action in Iraq that have been weak or lacking to date. If that team can come forward with solid plans for an integrated approach to a sustained US effort to deal with Iraq's plans and risks, there would be a far stronger and more bipartisan case for strategic patience.
ANALYSIS: MILITARY SHOWS GAINS IN IRAQ - ROBERT BURNS, AP (BREIBART.COM, AUGUST 6): Magic is what it may take to turn US military gains in Iraq into the strategy's ultimate goal: a political process that moves Iraq's rival Sunnis, Shiites and Kurds from the brink of civil war to the threshold of peace --- and to get there on a timetable that takes account of growing war fatigue in the United States.
ARMY OF ONE: THE OVERHYPING OF DAVID PETRAEUS - ANDREW J. BACEVICH (NEW REPUBLIC, AUGUST 7): In June, General Petraeus issued to all members of his command in Iraq his personal "Counterinsurgency Guidance"-- ten key points to guide their actions. In point nine in this decalogue, the commander charges his troops to "Be first with the truth." The guidance is something that Petraeus himself should take to heart. For the truth is that the time to implement the strategy that he has devised does not exist.
IRAQ'S HALL OF MIRRORS: BRITAIN AND US ARE MAINTAINING POSITIVE ILLUSIONS ABOUT THE SITUATION IN IRAQ, BUT THE UNVARNISHED TRUTH IS LESS COMFORTABLE - SIMON TISDALL (GUARDIAN, AUGUST 8/COMMON DREAMS): Iraq existed, unsteadily, warts and all, under Saddam Hussein. But now it is disintegrating before our eyes. It may reconstitute itself in time. But the old construct is dead, destroyed by shock and awe and four years of mind-boggling Bushian incompetence.
A SURGE OF PHONY SPIN ON IRAQ: BUSH'S BACKERS ARE PEDDLING A SUNNY VIEW OF THE PRESIDENT'S STRATEGY -- DESPITE IRAQ'S POLITICAL CHAOS AND SOARING DEATH COUNTS - JUAN COLE (SALON, AUGUST 7)
WHY THE SURGE HAS FAILED: EVEN IN BAGHDAD, VERY LITTLE HAS CHANGED - PATRICK COCKBURN (COUNTERPUNCH, AUGUST 7): The surge is now joining a host of discredited formulae for success and fake turning points that the US has promoted in Iraq over the last 52 months. US commanders are often cheery believers in their own propaganda even as the ground is giving way beneath their feet.
IRAQI LEGISLATORS CAN'T TAKE THE HEAT - CYNTHIA TUCKER (AUGUST 6, BALTIMORESUN.COM): If the United States withdraws its troops, the Iraqis may tire of the bloodletting. Or maybe they won't. Either way, it's time to start bringing our soldiers and Marines home.
THE REAL DEBATE ABOUT IRAQ IS BETWEEN REAL, FAKE WAR FOES - IRA CHERNUS (DAILY CAMERA, AUGUST 5): The only way to stanch the loss of American blood is to end the war -- really, genuinely, completely.
THE FOREIGN POLICY COMMUNITY - GLENN GREENWALD (SALON, AUGUST 8): The Foreign Policy Community -- our establishment "scholars" -- were almost unanimously supportive of George Bush's invasion, worked themselves into a lather over Saddam's WMDs and mushroom clouds over U.S. cities, stayed silent in the face of obvious Bush abuses and excesses, embraced the most manipulative and fictitious neoconservative doctrines, and they still continuously issue all sorts of theoretical constructs to justify America's increasingly militaristic and imperial role.
MIDEAST TWO-STEP ? EDITORIAL (BALTIMORESUN.COM, AUGUST 8): If Mr. Bush wants to be remembered for something other than the dissolution of Iraq, an independent Palestinian state and a secure Israel would be a worthy challenge for a lame-duck president. He has nothing to lose.
WORKING-CLASS FIGHT: SOLIDARITY WITH IRANIANS - MICHAEL LEDEEN (NATIONAL REVIEW, AUGUST 8): If the West had the courage of its past convictions, every leader would denounce the terror in Iran, and every trade unionist would be shouting in front of Iranian embassies.
THE UNITED STATES AND 'REGIME CHANGE' IN IRAN - STEPHEN ZUNES (FOREIGN POLICY IN FOCUS, AUGUST 8/COMMON DREAMS): The dilemma for U.S. policy-makers is this: the most realistic way to overthrow the Iranian regime is through a process the United States cannot control. Freedom will some day come to Iran. When it does, however, it will be in spite of-rather than because of-the policies of the United States.
KERNEL OF EVIL - BRET STEPHENS (OPINION JOURNAL FROM THE WALL STREET JOURNAL EDITORIAL PAGE, AUGUST 7): If containment is what the U.S. wants, Saudi F-15s will not be of much use against an Iranian bomb. But those fighters might ultimately find their use against Iraq's Shiite-led democratic government, whose air force consists mainly of junkyard Warsaw Pact equipment.
WHY SAUDI ARABIA? WHY NOW? - COL. DANIEL SMITH (FOREIGN POLICY IN FOCUS, AUGUST 7/COMMON DREAMS): The irony of the Bush administration's arms deal with Saudi Arabia is that George Bush started the Iraq war over weapons that never existed. Now his administration seems to think the way to end the war is to make sure that there are more weapons -- ones that kill thousands every day. Go figure!
US TURKISH RELATIONS: RADIANT FUTURE OR DARK DAYS AHEAD? - PATRICIA KUSHLIS (WHIRLED VIEW, AUGUST 6): Change US policies, change our fearless leader and expect better relations with the Turkish government and improvement in Turkish anti-American poll numbers.
ARMING THE MIDDLE EAST: THE CHECKERED HISTORY OF AMERICAN WEAPONS DEALS - SIEGESMUND VON ILSEMANN (SPIEGEL INTERNATIONAL, AUGUST 6): The United States has upset its European allies with plans for a massive arms deal with several governments in the Middle East. Washington has been down this road before.
AMERICAN GENOCIDE IN THE MIDDLE EAST: THREE MILLION AND COUNTING - DAVID GOODNER (COMMON DREAMS, AUGUST 8): The US caused death count in the Middle East is over three million people, and that?s not even counting fatalities in Afghanistan or Palestine.
RUNNING OUT OF TIME, PATIENCE IN AFGHANISTAN - KARL F. INDERFURTH (BOSTON GLOBE, AUGUST 8): The battle for Afghan "hearts and minds" is in danger of being lost because of rising civilian casualties and war damage.
THE BUSH AND KARZAI SHOW: CONTRADICTIONS, AND MORE QUESTIONS THAN ANSWERS EDWARD M. GOMEZ (WORLD VIEWS, SF GATE, AUGUST 7)
POST-SOVIET MODERNITY - ROB SOBHANI (WASHINGTON TIMES, AUGUST 8): There are naive observers in Washington who argue that we ought to strike a "grand bargain" with the mullahs in Tehran, but, after spending an hour with the reformist president of this secular Muslim country, it is clear that Washington would do far better to enter into a long-term strategic "grand bargain" with Azerbaijan.
ANOTHER KOSOVO CRISIS? - MATTHEW KAMINSKI (WALL STREET JOURNAL, AUGUST 8): Unless the U.S. forcefully steps in to usher Kosovo to independence without any messy compromises, Southeast Europe could fall off track again, with nasty repercussions for everyone.
ILLEGAL IMMIGRATION IS OUR BEST FOREIGN AID PROGRAM - GREGORY CLARK (BALTIMORESUN.COM, AUGUST 6)
THE UNSEEN LIES: JOURNALISM AS PROPAGANDA JOHN PILGER (DEMOCRACYNOW.ORG, AUGUST 8/COMMON DREAMS): From right to left, secular to God-fearing, what so few people know is that in the last half century, United States administrations have overthrown 50 governments -- many of them democracies. In the process, thirty countries have been attacked and bombed, with the loss of countless lives. So what should we do? Real information, subversive information, remains the most potent power of all.
THE TERROR AMERICA WROUGHT - ROBERT SCHEER (TRUTHDIG, AUGUST8/COMMON DREAMS): The U.S. played midwife to the birth of the nuclear monster, the ultimate terrorist weapon that presents a continuing and growing threat to the survival of human life on Earth.