Beliefnet
God's Politics

the latest news on the war in Iraq, making work work, congress, Darfur, the Middle East, School of the Americas protest coverage, and select op-eds

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War in Iraq. Bush Says No Decision Yet on Troop Levels in Iraq – “President Bush said that he had made no decisions about altering the number of U.S. troops in Iraq, noting that there are “a lot of suggestions” still being evaluated.” U.S. Considers Raising Troop Levels in Iraq– “The idea would involve increasing U.S. forces by 20,000 troops or more in the hope of improving security.” Flaws Cited in Effort To Train Iraqi Forces – “The U.S. military’s effort to train Iraqi forces has been rife with problems, from officers being sent in with poor preparation to a lack of basic necessities such as interpreters and office materials, according to internal Army documents.”

Obama: Time to stop `coddling’ Iraq – “Amid intense speculation about whether he will run for president, Sen. Barack Obama used the spotlight to showcase his strategy for the war in Iraq, excoriating the Bush administration for its “misguided” war and describing a solution that includes dialogue with hostile nations in the region.” Obama calls for pullout in Iraq – “the popular Illinois Democrat who is considering a run for the White House, said the U.S. should start withdrawing troops from Iraq in the next four to six months, redeploy some forces to Afghanistan and bolster efforts to train Iraqi police.”

Diplomacy in Iraq. Iraq to Restore Long-Severed Relations With Neighbor Syria– “Iraq said that it would restore diplomatic ties with neighboring Syria after a break of nearly a quarter-century in an effort to solidify links with a neighbor seen as a conduit for insurgents fueling the violence in Iraq.” Syria and Iraq Restore Ties Severed in the Hussein Era– “As the United States undertakes a broad review of its role in Iraq, the neighboring countries of Iran, Turkey and Syria have stepped forward to try to position themselves in case of a major change in policy, leading to a recent flurry of diplomatic efforts.” Iran calls Iraq, Syria for summit – “In a bid apparently intended to counter U.S. influence in the region, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad invited his Iraqi and Syrian counterparts to a weekend summit in Tehran to tackle the chaos in Iraq, Iraqi lawmakers said.”

Make work work. Rep. Frank offers business a ‘grand bargain’ – “Representative Barney Frank has proposed in a series of meetings with business groups a “grand bargain” with corporate America: Democrats would agree to reduce regulations and support free-trade deals in exchange for businesses agreeing to greater wage increases and job benefits for workers.” A high-profile Houston win for ‘invisible’ janitors – “In a major step for labor in this right-to-work city, striking janitors reached an agreement with five major cleaning companies on a contract that guarantees the workers higher wages, more work hours and medical benefits.”

Congress. Pelosi team tries to steer Democrats to the center – “Anxious to chart a centrist course with Democrats’ new majority in Congress, incoming House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and her top deputies are busily working in private and public to rein in the liberal ambitions of some senior party heavyweights –including proposals to reinstate the military draft and end the Pentagon’s ban on gays in uniform.” Democrat’s draft bill faces uphill fight – “A prominent Democrat’s call for reinstating a military draft ignited a mini-firestorm as lawmakers on both sides of the aisle rushed to denounce any notion of a return to conscription.”

Sudan-Darfur. U.S. Sets Jan. 1 Deadline for Sudan to Act on Darfur– “Andrew Natsios, the U.S. special envoy to Sudan, said yesterday that the Bush administration will resort to an unspecified “Plan B” if the Sudanese government does not agree by Jan. 1 to complete negotiations on an expanded international peacekeeping force for its troubled Darfur region.” New bid to solve Darfur impasse – “Several African leaders are gathering in Libya to try to find a solution to the conflict in Sudan’s Darfur region. The beefing up of an African Union peacekeeping force in Darfur and the possible involvement of the UN is expected to top the agenda.” In war-torn Sudan, women wage peace – “Recent conferences highlight growing efforts to include women in the struggle to end brutal conflicts. … a recent four-day workshop in Khartoum organized by the US-based Initiative for Inclusive Security, a program to involve women in peace processes around the world. The conference was designed to include women’s voices in bringing peace to Darfur, and in efforts to rebuild Southern Sudan – itself the scene of a separate civil war that ended
last year.”

Middle East. Israel Orders Investigation of Bomb Use in Lebanon– “The Israeli military chief of staff, Lt. Gen. Dan Halutz, ordered an inquiry to determine whether the armed forces had followed his orders when it used large numbers of cluster bombs during the monthlong war with Hezbollah in Lebanon this summer.” IDF admits targeting civilian areas with cluster bombs – “The Israel Defense Forces discovered that there had been “irregularities” in the use of cluster munitions, even before the end of the recent Lebanon war … As a result of this information, Defense Minister Amir Peretz ordered an “extensive inquiry” into the use of these munitions before the war’s end. Meanwhile, for the first time Monday, the IDF admitted targeting populated areas with cluster munitions.” Israeli Map Says West Bank Posts Sit on Arab Land– “An Israeli advocacy group, using maps and figures leaked from inside the government, says that 39 percent of the land held by Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank is privately owned by Palestinians.” UN condemns Gaza abuses – “The top UN human rights official said yesterday Palestinians living in the Gaza strip had suffered “massive” human rights violations.”

School of the Americas. Slideshow and Audio Recording of Sunday vigil at the School of the Americas, from the Columbus (GA) Ledger-Enquirer.

Op-Eds.

Next move in Iraq? (Wesley Clark, USA Today) – “The mission in Iraq is spiraling into failure. American voters have sent a clear message: Bring our troops home, but don’t lose. That’s a tall order both for resurgent Democrats, some of whom are calling for a quick withdrawal, and the bipartisan Iraq Study Group, which is presumably crafting new options.”

An Opening on Abortion? (E. J. Dionne Jr., Washington Post) – “If both parties combine wisdom with shrewdness, the election of a new congressional majority should open the way for a better approach to the abortion question.”

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