Reading at the Crossroads

Reading at the Crossroads is an archive for columns and letters which appeared in the Terre Haute Tribune Star. I also blog here when my patience is exhausted by what I feel is irritating, irrational and/or ironic in life. --gary daily

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Location: Terre Haute, Indiana, United States

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Monday, April 07, 2008

WAR - The Money [Part 6]

Of the many war slogans Bush has thrown at a naive public over the past five years, the one that offers trickles of hope for many is: “When they step up, we’ll step down.” There's the usual vagueness here, allowing some to insert their own hoped for end to the madness that is the Iraq War. On the other hand, it might just as well be the basis for McCain’s “100 years in Iraq” pronouncement. General Petraeus will report to Congress this week. (But not to us, American citizens and voters. In their usual arrogant style, the administration is keeping the full report under wraps.)

Perhaps General Petraeus will clarify how the following report represents a “stepping up.” Or does it point to something else, something McCain is ready to live with.
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New York Times April 4, 2008
More Than 1,000 in Iraq’s Forces Quit Basra Fight
By STEPHEN FARRELL and JAMES GLANZ

BAGHDAD — More than 1,000 Iraqi soldiers and policemen either refused to fight or simply abandoned their posts during the inconclusive assault against Shiite militias in Basra last week, a senior Iraqi government official said Thursday. Iraqi military officials said the group included dozens of officers, including at least two senior field commanders in the battle.

The desertions in the heat of a major battle cast fresh doubt on the effectiveness of the American-trained Iraqi security forces. The White House has conditioned further withdrawals of American troops on the readiness of the Iraqi military and police.

The crisis created by the desertions and other problems with the Basra operation was serious enough that Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki hastily began funneling some 10,000 recruits from local Shiite tribes into his armed forces. That move has already generated anger among Sunni tribesmen whom Mr. Maliki has been much less eager to recruit despite their cooperation with the government in its fight against Sunni insurgents and criminal gangs. . . .

Mr. Maliki also announced $100 million in economic assistance to Basra, to be administered by the central government in partnership with the provincial government, and said the government would create 25,000 jobs in the city over the coming year.

Citing that promise of assistance and the tribal discussions, Mr. Crocker said, “Were there deals? Like everything else, that is not an engagement you win purely by military means. The prime minister is employing the economic dimension of power right now, and good on him, I think. Money is in many respects his most important weapon and he is using it.”

Mr. Maliki said that the tribal recruits would be carefully vetted.
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Full article HERE.

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