Content by Charles Bird

Posted at 11:46am on Jul. 10, 2008 We need more COIN in the Afghan realm

it worked in Iraq, it'll work in afghanistan

By Charles Bird

Mudville Gazette has a good round-up of current events in Iraq, and it looks like the surge strategy is continuing to work. There are several factors now at play: the security situation is improved, al Qaeda is continuing to get shredded, the Mahdi militias are weakened and satisfactory progress has been made on 15 of 18 political benchmarks. Also factoring into the mix is the iniative taken by the al Maliki government. It started in Basra last March, then moved to Sadr City and then on to Mosul. Al Maliki & Co. aren't just being assertive with Shiite militias and al Qaeda, they are being more assertive with the United States in their negotiations for a Status of Forces Agreement. Omar Fadhil has an interesting take on the deal, and so does Dr. iRack:

Lets be clear on one thing: the current Iraqi leadership wants some kind of long-term partnership with the United States, including assurances that we will protect them against foreign invasion, continue to conduct counterterrorism operations, continue to train and support the ISF, continue to help them re-negotiate their debt obligations, etc. All of this is in the November 2007 "Declaration of Principles," signed by Bush and Maliki, which the SFA is meant to codify. What they bristle at--or at least see as a "marketing problem" with the Iraqi people--are the various immunities in the SOFA (for our troops and contractors--the latter of which has apparently been addressed) and prerogatives in the SOFA (such as control of Iraqi airspace, the right for U.S. troops to detain Iraqis, the right to conduct independent U.S. operations, basing rights, etc.). So think of this as a "sovereignty game." The Maliki government wants us to continue to help them with residual support--on their terms.

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Posted at 9:59pm on Jun. 28, 2008 Obama still not finished with his waffle?

By Charles Bird

I thought he finished it a couple of months ago, but apparently waffles are still on Obama's political plate. The latest is Obama's reaction to the Heller decision.

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Posted at 3:34pm on Jun. 9, 2008 Senate Democrats voted to keep gasoline prices high [updated]

By Charles Bird

The legislation to lift a moratorium on oil shale development has been stonewalled by Senate Democrats, led by Ken Salazar from Colorado.

You'd think this would be oil shale's moment.

You'd think with gas prices topping $4 and consumers crying uncle, Congress would be moving fast to spur development of a domestic oil resource so vast - 800 billion barrels of recoverable oil shale in Colorado, Utah and Wyoming alone - it could eventually rival the oil fields of Saudi Arabia.

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Posted at 1:36pm on Jun. 9, 2008 That other country

By Charles Bird

Because of the presidential race and the goings on in Iraq, I haven't read or written as much on that other country, Afghanistan, as I'd like. Actually, I've been paying more attention to Pakistan because of the Bhutto assassination and the Pakistani government's string of snafus in the western hinterlands. Bill Roggio describes the latest peace agreement with North Waziristan, which doesn't look terribly different from the previous peace agreements that have provided no peace to Afghanistan:

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Posted at 9:05am on Jun. 6, 2008 The bigger wuss

By Charles Bird

Now that I have your attention, this comment from Barack Obama will go absolutely nowhere:

While John McCain can legitimately tout moments of independence from his party in the past, such independence has not been the hallmark of his presidential campaign. It’s not change when John McCain decided to stand with George Bush ninety-five percent of the time, as he did in the Senate last year.

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Posted at 11:16am on Jun. 2, 2008 A question that I'd to see the MSM ask Obama

By Charles Bird

I've never heard an MSM journalist ask this question, and I can't think of a more relevant question that needs to be asked. Here it is:

Senator Obama, your stated policy of removing all combat brigades from Iraq in 16 months is not only a direct and complete rejection of the current surge strategy, but it also sends a clear message that, not only must you believe that we have lost in Iraq, but that that loss is inevitable and unchangeable. Will you level with the American people today and tell us that, by dint of your policy of sending troops home so rapidly, America has irretrievably lost in Iraq?

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Posted at 12:10pm on May 30, 2008 Obama should meet with Petraeus in Iraq, without preconditions

after all, he did say he would meet with adversaries

By Charles Bird

Within the first weeks after receiving enough delegates to secure the nomination, Barack Obama should go to Iraq and meet with General Petraeus without preconditions. There would be a lot of preparation. The first steps would not be to pre-judge all the items on the list.

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Posted at 11:28pm on May 27, 2008 ThinkProgress misleads again

By Charles Bird

Here is their spin on McCain and his website regarding Iraq:

On Tuesday, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) altered his campaign website to deemphasize his repeated calls for sending more troops to Iraq. The old version of McCain’s Iraq page argued that an increase of troops was a "crucial prerequisite for needed economic and political development in the country":

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Posted at 3:32pm on May 27, 2008 The Answer: FARC, Hugo Chavez and Barack Obama

The question: Name a South American terrorist group, its state sponsor, and a foreign policy fool

By Charles Bird

When FARC terrorist leader Raul Reyes was killed and his computer confiscated, Interpol was contacted to ascertain the authenticity of 40,000 files and 610 gigs worth of documents on the hard drive. Here's what The Economist says about it:

They represent only one side of a story, and most of their claims have yet to be independently corroborated. But Interpol has now concluded that the huge cache of e-mails and other documents recovered from the computers of Raúl Reyes, a senior leader of the FARC guerrillas killed in a Colombian bombing raid on his camp in Ecuador on March 1st, are authentic and undoctored. The documents throw new light on the inner workings of the FARC. And they raise some very pointed questions about the ties between Venezuela's leftist president, Hugo Chávez, and a group considered to be terrorists by the United States and the European Union (EU).

Batches of the documents have been seen by The Economist and several other publications. They appear to show that Mr Chávez offered the FARC up to $300m, and talked of allocating the guerrillas an oil ration which they could sell for profit. They also suggest that Venezuelan army officers helped the FARC to obtain small arms, such as rocket-propelled grenades, and to set up meetings with arms dealers.

Venezuelan officials have dismissed the documents as fabrications. That was contradicted by Ronald Noble, Interpol's secretary-general, who announced in Bogotá on May 15th, after two months of study by a team of 64 foreign experts, that the computer files came from the FARC camp and had not been modified in any way. Mr Chávez called this "ridiculous", questioning the impartiality of Mr Noble, who is American, and labelling him a "gringo policeman". However, in one indication of their accuracy, the documents provided information that in March guided police in Costa Rica to a house where they found $480,000 in cash, as an e-mail suggested.

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Posted at 12:32pm on May 26, 2008 About that surge strategy

it's still working

By Charles Bird

There wasn't much coverage of General Petraeus when he appeared before the Senate Armed Services Committee last Thursday. Even C-SPAN didn't show it live. Petraeus reported that violence is at a 4-year low and that he will likely reduce troop levels this September after the 45-day pause. His comments were more upbeat than six weeks ago, when the Basra offensive was in full flux, but he is still cautionary about the political situation. Here is what he said about al-Sadr and Basra.

There's more on the success of the Basra offensive and other stuff below the fold.

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