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September 09, 2008



But in private sessions or meetings they are always telling me and other reporters that the Americans must stay, and that if they leave right now it would be a big mistake and misadventure.
It's almost a shame the Times has such ironclad ethical rules against using unnamed sources, or Maher (any relation to Bill?) could write up something about these private sessions for a higher profile part of the paper than his blog.

Steve Skubinna

But in private sessions or meetings they are always telling me and other reporters that the Americans must stay, and that if they leave right now it would be a big mistake and misadventure.

I was aboard a ship forward deployed from Subic Bay when the Philippine Senate rejected the base treaty, and I believe it was due to this same mechanism. Filipino politicians routinely gave stem winding speeches denouncing the US, and then would call on the US embassy the next day to offer assurances that it was just for local consumption, and by the way, how's that aid package coming along?

I really believe that a critical mass of Senators got on their soapboxes and rode the anti-base argument to the point where they could not publicly back down in an open vote. Despite not really wanting the bases shut down, they had talked themselevs into a corner.

It probably didn't help that the implosion of the USSR and the volcanic destruction of Clark AB made the bases much less valuable real estate, so the US wasn't much adverse to leaving anyway. While leftists the world over would never admit it, the US does respect treaty obligations.

So the lesson here is, you can't always keep your public and private persona separate. And if they are opposed to each other, eventually you're going to face a choice you don't want to make. If these prominent Iraqis really think the US is going to ignore an official government request to leave and thus insulate them from the consequences of their public stance, they are as ignorant as they are shortsighted. It would be disastrous to leave prematurely, but we'd do it if asked.

M. Simon


Didn't the Volcano close Clark after the US had left? I was thinking to myself: save a lot of valuable eqpt that.

BTW I flew Flying Tigers to Clark with a 1 hour refueling stop in Japan. We were not allowed to leave the plane but since the exit doors were open I did get up to have a look out and breath the Japanese air.

Clark was funny, when I landed there there was a bamboo hut on the tarmac serving alcoholic drinks. Me and a couple of other sailors stopped and had a Mai-Tai or two before getting on the bus to Subic. BTW the bus ride was fun. Greenest country I have ever seen.

Walter Ronten

"We never see that sort of posturing in this country"??
What about the infamous rants of Barack Obama against NAFTA followed by private assurance to the Canadian Govt. that he really didn't mean it? Politicians publically posture all kinds of silly things they think they need to say to further their political position while fully knowing that the oposite would be best for them and their country and silently working for that goal. That this is happening in Iraq is actually one of the most definite signs of a growing democracy I have seen.


for every terrorist you kill you create two more proven wrong


There was a great story in the "dead-tree" WSJ yesterday about the Iraqi response to Joe Biden's plan to partition the country.

The best part was the one Sunni who wanted to have Joe Biden declared "personal non grata" thus keeping him out of the country.

Fuzzy Curmudgeon

Walter: I suspect the sentence to which you refer was typed with a great deal of irony.

Fat Man

Neo: Here it is. I think that this link is free.

Iraqi Leaders Opposed Biden's Partition Plan By Dan Senor in the Wall Street Journal on September 9, 2008 at Page A23:

Secular Sunni parliamentarian Mithal al-Alusi held a news conference in Baghdad to call on the Iraqi government to formally declare Mr. Biden "a persona non grata" in Iraq.

* * *

Mr. Senor is an adjunct senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations and a founder of Rosemont Capital. He served as a senior adviser to the Coalition in Iraq and was based in Baghdad in 2003 and 2004.


Sorry OT but wanted to work this in somewhere. "In Hunt for Bin Laden, a New Approach" in today's WaPo (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/09/09/AR2008090903404_pf.html), is a tendentious little bit where we have the juxtaposition of the following:

1) "'Iraq was a fundamental wrong turn. That was the most strategically negative action that was taken,' said John O. Brennan, a former deputy executive director of the CIA and a former chief of the National Counterterrorism Center. 'The collective effort in the government required to go after an individual like bin Laden -- the Iraq campaign consumed that.'"

2) "In late 2005, the CIA disbanded Alec Station, its special unit dedicated to tracking bin Laden. The search was going nowhere."

So let's get this straight, Iraq was a huge drag on resources, which the CIA concluded it did not need anyway, because it was all just a darn waste of time.


if we stay there will be trouble;
if we go there will be double.

Or so they say.

...definite signs of a growing democracy...

'bout time another Walter showed up 'round here.


... and keep an eye out for the biting humor.

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