Archive for the ‘policy’ Category

The Man Most Responsible, Perhaps, For American Progress in Iraq

November 18, 2008

I suppose it’s possible that George W. Bush would award Stephen J. Hadley the Medal of Freedom. Certainly the president’s national security adviser has earned it, for work that made possible the success we are now seeing in Iraq. And it would be within the president’s prerogative to see that work acknowledged with this honor before they both leave the White House come Jan. 20.

By William McGurn
The Wall Street Journal
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But how much better it would be all around — for the country, for the recipient, and even for Barack Obama — if Mr. Hadley were to receive this honor from the hands of the 44th president of the United States.

[Main Street] 

Stephen Hadley.  Photo by AP

Now, Mr. Hadley is a former colleague of mine from the White House. We did not always see eye to eye, and I know this self-effacing man well enough to know he would be appalled to find anyone putting his name forward for a medal. Yet one fact trumps everything else: Without this good man’s courage and persistence, there would have been no surge.

I don’t think I am talking out of school to mention facts that have been recorded in newspaper articles and books as different as Bing West’s “The Strongest Tribe” and Bob Woodward’s “The War Within.” The surge story begins back in 2006, when al Qaeda finally succeeded in setting the Shia and Sunni at each others’ throats. That October, with Baghdad consumed by sectarian fires, Mr. Hadley tasked William Luti to come up with a new way forward.

Read the rest:
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB122697257619435911.html

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Bush criticized on Iraq, N.Korea

November 18, 2008

President Bush’s efforts to resolve two major foreign-policy challenges in his waning days in office have prompted double-barreled criticisms, with leaders here and abroad questioning concessions his administration has made to Iraq and North Korea.

House Armed Services Committee Chairman Ike Skelton said Monday that he was “deeply troubled” by a pending status-of-forces agreement (SOFA) with Iraq because it could result in American troops being prosecuted in Iraqi courts.

Across the globe, Japan and South Korea have gone public with rare dissent, saying they are worried over an agreement on how to verify North Korean pledges to give up making fuel for nuclear weapons.

Mr. Skelton, the leading House Democrat responsible for the U.S. military, said: “I do not believe it was wise to push off major decisions about the legal protections U.S. troops would have in such cases or the crimes for which they could be charged.”

By Sara A. Carter and Nicholas Kralev 
The Washington Times

Read the rest:
http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2008/
nov/18/bush-criticized-on-iraq-nkorea/

Commentary: Letter to Obama on the Muslim world

November 14, 2008

First of all, as one of more than 66 million Americans of all races, religions and ethnicities who voted for you, your electoral victory was one of the proudest moments of our collective lives.

As our American political history witnessed the magnitude of our nation’s first African-American president, our society was also able to collectively (and finally) exhale, knowing that the mailbox at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. would now read “Obama” instead of “Bush.”

Arsalan Iftikhar says the Muslim world is looking to Barack Obama for leadership on many key issues. 
Above:  Arsalan Iftikhar says the Muslim world is looking to Barack Obama for leadership on many key issues.

With hardly a moment’s rest, as you transition toward Inauguration Day, our nation (and the rest of the world) will not wait for long before seeking your leadership on many pressing global issues.

From an economic recessionary mess to a perpetually broken health care system with 46 million American neighbors as uninsured casualties, your soon-to-be administration will face some monumental domestic and foreign policy issues that will affect us for generations.

From an ill-conceived war in Iraq to an oft-forgotten war in Afghanistan, from global flashpoints from Tel Aviv to Islamabad, your diplomatic and political interaction with the Muslim world may decide the success (or failure) of your foreign policy legacy.

Your unenviable task will be to undo the catastrophic policies of George W. Bush and his fellow neoconservative ideologues, facing the specter of al Qaeda’s sinister terrorism while undertaking public diplomacy efforts addressing anti-Americanism around the world.

Similarly, since the tragedy of September 11, the global Muslim community has continued its own daunting task of undoing catastrophic damage caused by Osama bin Laden and his creepy terrorist cronies.

From global debates on religious extremism broadcast on BBC World Television to global interfaith outreach with the Vatican, we Muslims are in the midst of our own internal dialogue condemning terrorism and reclaiming the mantle of Islam from the rusted claws of dinosaur extremists.

Again, let it be known to the world that Barack Obama is not (and has never been) a Muslim. Sadly, your presidential position vis-à-vis the Muslim world is still unenviable because some Republican adversaries sinisterly tried to paint you as a “crypto-Muslim” during the presidential election, although Sen. John McCain did not join in these absurd accusations.

Read the rest from CNN:
http://www.cnn.com/2008/POLITICS/11/12/iftikhar.obama/index.html

Iran Economists Slam Ahmadinejad For “Policy of Tension” With World

November 8, 2008

Iran‘s confrontational attitude toward the rest of the world is costing the country dearly in lost trade and investment, according to a letter signed by 60 economists published on Saturday.

The open letter, the latest broadside against President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and published by the semi-official Ilna news agency, denounced the “heavy price paid by the country over the negative consequences of government policy.”

  

Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad speaks with journalists ...
Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad speaks with journalists after meeting with his cabinet in Tehran January 23, 2008.REUTERS/FARS NEWS/Files

In particular, it spoke of the “misguided trade policy and the policy of tension with the rest of the world, which has deprived Iran of opportunities for trade and foreign investment.”

by Siavosh Ghazi, AFP
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It said the sanctions imposed by the UN Security Council over Iran’s refusal to halt uranium enrichment had added billions of dollars in extra costs to the country’s foreign trade.

The letter, signed by economists from major universities around the country, criticises what it calls “extremist idealism,” an “undue haste in acting” and the “absence of cost assessment on economic programmes.”

The economists also warn that the current global economic crisis “will impose heavy costs on the country,” while also pointing out that government finances will be severely hurt by the precipitous recent drop in oil prices.

Crude oil income accounts for 80 percent of foreign earnings…

Read the rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/200811
08/wl_mideast_afp/iranpolitics
economy_081108202009

Preparing for a New President: U.S. reviewing Afghanistan policy

November 6, 2008

The Bush administration is making plans for the transition of management of the Afghanistan and Iraq wars to the next president.

By Peter Bergen
CNN national security analyst

A review of Afghan policy has been under way for many weeks, led by Lt. Gen. Douglas E. Lute, the senior National Security Council official responsible for Afghanistan and Iraq. The classified strategic review is expected to be completed this week, according to a staffer involved in preparing it.

Military and administration sources say the review was commissioned after growing alarm in the Bush White House about the deteriorating situation in Afghanistan, which has recently seen more U.S. military deaths than in Iraq.

The country has experienced a sharp spike in violence along its eastern border with Pakistan since the summer. Those officials say the Bush administration felt that the review of Afghan policy could not wait months for a new administration to get up to speed.

In mid-October, senior Bush administration officials briefed advisers to both John McCain and Barack Obama on the deteriorating situation in Afghanistan. The meeting was held at the private Army and Navy Club in Washington and was organized, in part, by Barnett Rubin, a professor at New York University and one of the country’s leading experts on Afghanistan. The tone of the meeting was described by one participant as “realistic” and “certainly not upbeat.”

Read the rest:
http://www.cnn.com/2008/WORLD/meast/11/05/bergen.iraq.afghanistan
/index.html?section=cnn_latest

Infuriated By Possibility of Higher Taxes? So Is Joe The Plummer (See Video)

October 16, 2008

John McCain may have found a blue-collar face to help him argue that no American — not even the richest 5 percent — should pay higher taxes.

“Joe The Plumber” has weighed in on Wednesday’s presidential debate and he says that Barack Obama’s tax plan “infuriates me.”

“To be honest with you, that infuriates me,” plumber Joe Wurzelbacher told Nightline’s Terry Moran. “It’s not right for someone to decide you made too much—that you’ve done too good and now we’re going to take some of it back.”

“That’s just completely wrong,” he added.

Democratic presidential nominee Senator Barack Obama speaks ...
Joe the Plummer (L) Wurzelbacher talks with a guy that wants to raise his taxes and redistribute his wealth.  John McCain calls it class warfare….Democratic presidential nominee Senator Barack Obama spoke to Joe as Obama canvassed a neighbourhood in Holland, Ohio, October 12, 2008.(Jim Young/Reuters)

Read the rest and watch the video from ABC News’ Teddy Davis and Hope Ditto:
http://blogs.abcnews.com/politicalradar/
2008/10/joe-the-plumber.html

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By Andy Sullivan

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Barack Obama and John McCain may have turned him into the most famous small-business owner in America, but Joe the Plumber isn’t about to return the favor with an endorsement.
The morning after he emerged as the unexpected star of Wednesday night’s presidential debate, Joe Wurzelbacher of Holland, Ohio, declined to say who he will vote for in the November 4 election.

“It’s a personal decision, and myself and the button I push will know the answer,” the 34-year-old plumber and single father said on ABC’s “Good Morning America” program.

Later outside his home he told a crowd of reporters “I want the American people to vote for who they want to vote for,” and in an informed way.

He also said he was proud of what the U.S. military has accomplished in Iraq, feels his views are shared by many middle class working people he knows, is tired of people criticizing the United States and feels that the U.S. Social Security program is a “joke.”

Wurzelbacher came to prominence last week when he asked Obama about his tax plan during a campaign stop, which led to an appearance on a Fox News talk show and an invitation to a McCain rally.

Wurzelbacher said the sudden attention hasn’t yet translated into increased business.

“I hope I have a lot of jobs today. Yesterday I worked on a water main break for a gas station and that’s why I didn’t give any interviews. I was muddy and soaking wet,” he said.

Obama and McCain repeatedly invoked Wurzelbacher in their final debate as they sought to appeal to average Americans. McCain, a Republican, said Obama’s plan to raise taxes on those making more than $250,000 a year would hurt small-business owners like Wurzelbacher.

Read the rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20081016/us_nm/us_usa_politics_
plumber;_ylt=Am6aXw2iArr4XUtRD1GD8HGs0NUE

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Joe Doesn’t Have License as Plummer

By By JOHN SEEWER, Associated Press Writer

“That bothered me. I wished that they had talked more about issues that are important to Americans,” he told reporters gathered outside his home.

Wurzelbacher, 34, said he doesn’t have a good plan put together on how he would buy Newell Plumbing and Heating in nearby Toledo.

He said the business consists of owner Al Newell and him. Wurzelbacher said he’s worked there for six years and that the two have talked about his taking it over at some point.

“There’s a lot I’ve got to learn,” he said.

Wurzelbacher said he started his day with an early morning workout and came back to his suburban Toledo home to do live interviews with TV networks.

Reporters camped out by his house overnight and by midmorning there were 21 people on his driveway surrounding him, holding cameras and notebooks.

Wurzelbacher said he’s feeling overwhelmed.

“I’m kind of like Britney Spears having a headache. Everybody wants to know about it,” he joked.

Joe Wurzelbacher, right, or as Republican presidential candidate ...
Above: Joe Wurzelbacher, right, or as Republican presidential candidate Sen. John McCain dubbed him during Wednesday’s presidential debate, ‘Joe The Pumber’, chats with members of the news media outside of his home in Holland, Ohio, Thursday Oct. 16, 2008. Wurzelbacher was cited by the GOP presidential candidate as an example of someone who wants to buy a plumbing business but would be hurt by Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama’s tax plans. In Toledo on Sunday, Wurzelbacher told Obama that he was preparing to buy the plumbing company, which earns more than $250,000 a year, and said: ‘Your new tax plan is going to tax me more, isn’t it?’ Obama said that under his proposal taxes on any revenue from $250,000 on down would stay the same, but that amounts above that level would be subject to a 39 percent tax, instead of the current 36 percent rate.(AP Photo/Madalyn Ruggiero)

In Toledo on Sunday, Wurzelbacher told Obama that he was preparing to buy the plumbing company, which earns more than $250,000 a year, and said: “Your new tax plan is going to tax me more, isn’t it?”

Obama said that under his proposal taxes on any revenue from $250,000 on down would stay the same, but that amounts above that level would be subject to a 39 percent tax, instead of the current 36 percent rate.

Wurzelbacher said Obama’s tax plan wouldn’t affect him right now, because he doesn’t make $250,000. “But I hope someday I’ll make that,” he said.

“If you believed (Obama), I’d be receiving his tax cuts,” Wurzelbacher said. “But I don’t look at it that way. He’d still be hurting others.”

As he leaned against the Dodge Durango SUV parked in his driveway Thursday morning, Wurzelbacher indicated to reporters who crowded around that he was a conservative, a fan of the military and McCain. He said meeting McCain would be an honor but said he hadn’t been contacted by the Republican campaign.

Still, the plumber wouldn’t say who he was voting for and brushed off a question about whether he could influence the election or other voters.

“I don’t have a lot of pull. It’s not like I’m Matt Damon,” Wurzelbacher said.

“I just hope I’m not making too much of a fool of myself,” he added

Who Won Final Presidential Debate?

October 16, 2008

The morning of September 16, 2008, the Rasmussen poll is reporting that likely voters are for Obama 50%; McCain 46%…..

CNN polled people who wathed and said 58% said Obama won last night’s debate.  At Fox News, a “text-in” poll said 87% thought McCain won.  Dick Morris at Fox News said McCain won but Charles Krauthammer said the debate was a draw.  Most others said Obama won.

Who DID win?  Depends upon who you asked….

HEMPSTEAD, New York (CNN) — A majority of debate watchers think Sen. Barack Obama won the third and final presidential debate, according to a national poll conducted right afterward.
McCain, Obama get tough in final debate

Fifty-eight percent of debate watchers questioned in a CNN/Opinion Research Corp. poll said Democratic candidate Obama did the best job in the debate, with 31 percent saying Republican Sen. John McCain performed best.

The poll also suggests that debate watchers’ favorable opinion of Obama rose slightly during the debate, from 63 percent at the start to 66 percent at the end. The poll indicates that McCain’s favorables dropped slightly, from 51 percent to 49 percent.

The economy was the dominant issue of the debate, and 59 percent of debate watchers polled said Obama would do a better job handling the economy, 24 points ahead of McCain.

During the debate, McCain attacked Obama’s stance on taxes, accusing Obama of seeking tax increases that would “spread the wealth around.” But by 15 points, 56 percent to 41 percent, debate watchers polled said Obama would do a better job on taxes. By a 2-1 margin, 62 percent to 31 percent, debate watchers said Obama would do a better job on health care.

Sixty-six percent of debate watchers said Obama more clearly expressed his views, with 25 percent saying McCain was more clear about his views.

By 23 points, those polled said Obama was the stronger leader during the debate. By 48 points, they said Obama was more likeable.

Read the rest:
http://www.cnn.com/2008/POLITICS/
10/15/debate.poll/index.html

Final Debate: McCain Lands Blows But Obama May Have Escaped

October 16, 2008

Senator John McCain used the final debate of the presidential election on Wednesday night to raise persistent and pointed questions about Senator Barack Obama‘s character, judgment and policy prescriptions in a session that was by far the most spirited and combative of their encounters this fall.

By Jim Rutenberg
The New York Times
OCtober 16, 2008

At times showing anger and at others a methodical determination to make all his points, Mr. McCain pressed his Democratic rival on taxes, spending, the tone of the campaign and his association with the former Weather Underground leader William Ayers, using nearly every argument at his disposal in an effort to alter the course of a contest that has increasingly gone Mr. Obama’s way.

Todd Heisler/The New York Times

But Mr. Obama maintained a placid and at times bemused demeanor — if at times appearing to work at it — as he parried the attacks and pressed his consistent line that Mr. McCain would represent a continuation of President Bush’s unpopular policies, especially on the economy.

That set the backdrop for one of the sharpest exchanges of the evening, when, in response to Mr. Obama’s statement that Mr. McCain had repeatedly supported Mr. Bush’s economic policies, Mr. McCain fairly leaped out of his chair to say: “Senator Obama, I am not President Bush. If you wanted to run against President Bush, you should have run four years ago.”

Acknowledging Mr. McCain had his differences with Mr. Bush, Mr. Obama replied, “The fact of the matter is that if I occasionally mistake your policies for George Bush’s policies, it’s because on the core economic issues that matter to the American people — on tax policy, on energy policy, on spending priorities — you have been a vigorous supporter of President Bush.”

The debate touched on a wide variety of issues, including abortion, judicial appointments, trade and climate change as well as the economy, with the candidates often making clear the deep differences between them.

But it also put on display the two very different temperaments of the candidates with less than three weeks until Election Day. The lasting image of the night could be the split screen of Mr. Obama, doing his best to maintain his unflappable demeanor under a sometimes withering attack, and Mr. McCain looking coiled, occasionally breathing deeply, apparently in an expression of impatience.

Read the rest:
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/10/16/us/
politics/16debate.html?_r=1&hp&oref=slogin

Petraeus, Crocker to face scrutiny on war

April 7, 2008

By S.A. Miller and Sara A. Carter
The Washington Times
April 7, 2008

Capitol Hill Democrats say they will question Army Gen. David H. Petraeus and Ambassador to Iraq Ryan C. Crocker this week about how the 5-year-old Iraq war has sapped U.S. military readiness, imperiled positive results from the Afghanistan conflict and alienated the United States from the rest of the world. 

US General David Petraeus, commander of the US-led coalition ...

They also will push for a rapid pullout while posing questions about what they see as the ever-present threat of renewed fighting in Iraq, the lack of political reform by the government of Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and the oil-rich country’s failure to pay for the war or reconstruction.

“We are right back to where we started before the surge,” said Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr., Delaware Democrat and chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, which hears testimony tomorrow from Gen. Petraeus and Mr. Crocker.

They also testify tomorrow before the Senate Armed Services Committee and then Wednesday before House committees, fulfilling a mandate by the Democrat-led Congress for a follow-up to the war report they delivered in September.

Gen. Petraeus is expected to call for halting troop reductions that began in December for about six months to assess the security situation. That would keep about 140,000 troops in Iraq — 10,000 more than before the surge of troops last year that helped stifle insurgent and sectarian attacks.

Both Gen. Petraeus and Mr. Crocker are expected to highlight political and military gains, as well as persistent challenges to the mission, including Iranian influence in the country.

Although Iran helped broker a deal to stem the fighting that has spilled from Basra to other cities in the region, U.S. officials contend that behind the scenes Iran is continuing to supply weapons and training to Shi’ite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr’s Mahdi Army militia and other criminal elements connected to his militia.

Read the rest:
http://www.washingtontimes.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20080407/NATION/63822057/1001

Blogger outreach boosts McCain

March 31, 2008

By Stephen Dinan
The Washington Times
March 31, 2008

Even as talk radio was brutalizing Sen. John McCain in the Republican presidential primaries, conservative bloggers reached a respectful truce with the Arizona senator over touchy issues and gave him what the campaign called a “tremendous positive psychological” boost.
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The main reason: Mr. McCain’s blogger outreach, the most extensive of any presidential campaign in either party, helped keep him afloat in the dark days last summer when the major press was sizing up his campaign grave. During those times, Mr. McCain got attention and digital ink from the bloggers he invited to biweekly conference calls, and got a chance to talk policy.
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“During the unpleasantness, whenever Senator McCain put himself in front of reporters, the question was always, ‘How much did you raise today, when are you dropping out,’ ” said Patrick Hynes, a conservative blogger who Mr. McCain hired in 2006. “And then we’d put him on the phone with bloggers, and they’d want to talk about Iraq, and pork and chasing down al Qaeda.”
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For the campaign, it came down to deploying the campaign’s best asset — Mr. McCain himself — in a forum where he can excel.
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Mr. Hynes said the back-and-forth with bloggers took “a great deal of sting out of the criticisms” over immigration, Mr. McCain’s push for campaign-finance changes and other areas where conservatives have registered their discontent with the senator, who has secured enough delegates to win the Republican Party’s presidential nomination.

Read the rest:
http://www.washingtontimes.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20080331/NATION/499689152/1001