Bush’s ‘Troop Withdrawal’ Branded Phony; Sattar Assassination a blow to Bush Optimism; 1 million Dead in Iraq?

Our national discourse has now reached a point where it is a journalistic coup just to point out when a politician is lying. Thus, the headlines that Bush’s ‘troop cuts,’ announced in his speech last night, are phony, and reflect normal rotations.

Patrick Cockburn, whose excellent reporting is deeply informed by his risky forays into the real Iraq,, analyzes the meaning of the assassination of Sattar Abu Rishah for Bush’s policies, and finds that ‘ His killing is a serious blow to President Bush and the US commander in Iraq, General David Petraeus, who have both portrayed the US success in Anbar, once the heart of the Sunni rebellion against US forces, as a sign that victory was attainable across Iraq. ‘

Tina Susman reports the results of a recent British poll done in Iraq, which concludes that as many as a million Iraqis have died in war-related violence since late March of 2003. This estimate is higher than that in the Lancet study of last fall, since that study simply looked at excess deaths from all kinds of violence above what one would have expected from the baseline of 2002. That is, the Lancet study included criminal violence, tribal feuding, etc., not just military or guerrilla actions. The combination of the two, however, makes the Lancet study’s conclusions seem unassailable and if anything conservative.

David Broder thinks that US Ambassador in Iraq Ryan Crocker was admitting to Lindsay Graham that the US might push for a vote of no confidence in the al-Maliki government. Graham should please explain to us how the biggest bloc in parliament, the Shiite United Iraqi Alliance, is going to come up with a candidate substantially more effective than al-Maliki is. The UIA under the Iraqi constitution would form the next government.

Frank Davies confirms my own analysis that the Democrats lack the ability to get the US out of Iraq. Many readers suggested the route of cutting off funds and refusing to present any other Defense budget, but realistically speaking that is a very dangerous ploy that could get them defeated in the next election as obstructionists. And if they are defeated, the Republican Party will keep the US in Iraq, so what would be the point?

The NYT reports that the compromise on the draft petroleum bill crafted by oil minister Hussein Shahristani with the Kurdistan Regional Government appears to have collapsed amid acrimony. Passing an oil law was put forward by Bush last January as one of four benchmarks that had to be met by June. The Kurds are now demanding Shahristani’s resignation, since he calls independently-negotiated oil deals struck by the Kurdistan government with Hunt and other oil companies ‘illegal’ because they were not cleared by Baghdad. Children, can you spell ‘Fort Sumter’?

The Kurds are also upset that the referendum on adding oil-rich Kirkuk province to the Kurdistan Regional Government is certainly going to be postponed from the planned date of late 2007.

At the Global Affairs blog, Barnett Rubin reflects on how his posting on a possible ‘Iran war rollout’ has been received in the blogosphere.

At the Napoleon’s Egypt blog, an eyewitness account of the Battle of the Nile.