Monday, September 1, 2008

Generally Speaking

The General’s Dilemma

David Petraeus, the pressures of politics, and the road out of Iraq.
by Steve Coll
See Article Here

Victory in Anbar (Wall Street Journal)
Two years ago, on September 11, 2006, the Washington Post stirred an election-year uproar with this chilling dispatch:

"The chief of intelligence for the Marine Corps in Iraq recently filed an unusual secret report concluding that the prospects for securing that country's western Anbar province are dim and that there is almost nothing the U.S. military can do to improve the political and social situation there . . ."

But there was something we could do: Pursue a different counterinsurgency strategy and commit more troops. And on Monday, U.S. forces formally handed control of a now largely peaceful Anbar to the Iraqi military. "We are in the last 10 yards of this terrible fight. The goal is very near," said Major-General John Kelly, commander of U.S. forces in Anbar, in a ceremony with U.S., Iraqi and tribal officials. Very few in the American media even noticed this remarkable victory. MORE

'Stop! Or We'll Say Stop Again!'


Hitching a ride on the dorsal fin of the ocean's most feared predator - the great white shark - doesn't normally come with a return ticket. But Michael Rutzen regularly swims and even claims to socialise with sharks who view him not as a convenient takeaway meal but as a fellow ocean traveller.

With apologies to comedian Robin Williams, that's the line that comes to mind when weighing the European Union's declaration yesterday on Russia's continued occupation of Georgia.
At a special meeting in Brussels, EU national leaders told Russian President Dmitry Medvedev to abide by the terms of a French-brokered cease-fire, including a pullback of Russian troops to their preconflict positions. If he doesn't do so, they warned, they will hold another meeting.

That's all.....

Well, that's almost all. The European leaders did make one concrete "threat." The EU said it would freeze negotiations with Moscow on a new economic cooperation agreement if Russian forces haven't pulled back to their pre-August 7 positions by next Monday. But this is meaningless. It had taken the Europeans months to agree among themselves to begin the talks, and even before the Russian invasion of Georgia Eastern European leaders had signaled that their countries were unlikely to sign off on any deal anytime soon. Nor was Moscow pushing very hard for it.  MORE

Changes in Politics

by Thomas Sowell
One of the few political cliches that makes sense is that "In politics, overnight is a lifetime."
Less than a year ago, the big question was whether Rudolph Giuliani could beat Hillary Clinton in this year's presidential election. Less than two months ago, Barack Obama had a huge lead over John McCain in the polls. Less than a week ago, the smart money was saying that Mitt Romney would be McCain's choice for vice president.
We don't need Barack Obama to create "change." Things change in politics, in the economy, and elsewhere in American society, without waiting for a political messiah to lead us into the promised land...... The Anbar handover is above all a tribute to the hundreds of Americans who have fought and died in places like Fallujah, Ramadi and Hit over these last five years. Over the horizon of history, we tend to recall only the successes in previous wars at such places as Guadalcanal, Peleliu and the Chosin Reservoir. We forget that those wars and battles were also marked by terrible blunders and setbacks, both political and military. What mattered is that our troops, and our country, had the determination to fight to an ultimate victory. So it is with the heroes of Anbar.    MORE

At 150, Central Park Is a Perfectly Balanced Masterpiece


Shark pictures show amazing killing display
This year, with surprisingly little fanfare, Central Park is celebrating its 150th birthday. Five years ago, there were fireworks and daylong festivities to mark the sesquicentennial of the city's decision, in 1853, to build a great urban park in the middle of Manhattan. But it was in 1858 that the municipality finally decided upon the so-called Greensward plan of Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux, and it was in that year as well that the great work began.  MORE

The wildlife photographer Chris Fellows spends over half of each year waiting off the coast of South Africa to capture the sharks at their grisly work.

Sharkman hitches ride on great white shark


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