George W Bush

Study Group Has Plans For Iraq Oil

While the Iraq Study Group report is short on specifics on how to achieve the goals it sets forth, it is specific on one thing: Oil.

Some interesting, but no doubt partisan, analysis of the report conducted by AlterNet looks into the specific four-point plan they group has for Iraqi oil and the motivation of some of the groups key members to see it happen.

The four point plan, apparently aimed at western control of Iraqi oil assets, is as follows:

  • Assist in the privatization of Iraq's oil industry.
  • Open Iraq to private foreign oil and energy companies
  • Assist in drafting a new "oil" law for Iraq
  • Assure that all oil revenue accrue to the central government

Bush, Bloomberg Stump For Changes In No Child Left Behind Act

Florida Governor Jeb Bush and New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg are together pushing for changes in the No Child Left Behind Act, which is up for renewal at the end of 2007.

Their chief criticism of the Act championed by Bush's brother, president George W Bush, is essentially that the Act is all stick and no carrot.

Two specific changes they would like to see include a grading system for school performance and the linking of teacher pay to their performance. Both of these things are being used in Bush's Florida and are under consideration in New York City's massive school district.

The No Child Left Behind Act gives schools a pass/fail grade of sorts and punishes schools that are failing. The Florida system grades schools like students with grades from A to F. This, they claim, gives schools passing with a C the desire to strive for an A.

There is a desire to grade teachers as well with some part of their pay dependent on their performance. With the strength of education unions, it is unclear how such a system would be implemented.

U.S. Middle East Diplomacy Continues To Unravel

Fuelled Partially by the ineptitude of the Bush Administration and partially by a Democratic takeover of congress, which some might argue is the result of the former, the political fabric of the middle east is starting to seriously fray and come apart at the seams.

Iran was once held in check partially by the Taliban to the east and Saddam Hussein to the west. The United States has eliminated both opponents for them. If you think that that is an exaggeration, consider this quote from Mohsen Rezai, an adviser to Ayatollah Khamanei of Iran:

"The kind of service that the Americans, with all their hatred, have done us — no superpower has ever done anything similar. America destroyed all our enemies in the region. It destroyed the Taliban. It destroyed Saddam Hussein… The Americans got so stuck in the soil of Iraq and Afghanistan that if they manage to drag themselves back to Washington in one piece, they should thank God. America presents us with an opportunity rather than a threat — not because it intended to, but because it miscalculated. They made many mistakes".

Iran To Aid Iraq With Security

On Wednesday, the presidents of Iran and Iraq, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Jalal Talabani respectively, held a joint press conference to announce that three days of talks between them had produced a security agreement to help stabilize Iraq.

"We discussed in the fields of security, economy, oil and industry. Our agreement was complete," Talabani told reporters. "This visit was 100 percent successful. Its result will appear soon."

As expected, Ahmadinejad took the opportunity to again urge the United States to withdraw its forces.

"I advise you to leave Iraq. Based on a timetable, transfer the responsibilities to Iraqi government. This will agree to your interests, too."

This announcement appears timed to preempt a planned meeting, in Jordan, between president Bush and Iraqi prime minister Al-Maliki on the same topic.

NATO Seeks More Forces For Afghanistan Amid Talks Of A 2008 Exit

Ahead of a NATO summit in Riga, George W Bush is pressing NATO allies for more troop commitments to bolster forces in Southern Afghanistan that are as much as 20% below the levels NATO commanders feel are appropriate to accomplish their mission.

The forces are ostensibly to aid the reconstruction effort, but a resurgent Taliban force in the area requires that the committed forces also be combat ready -- something several fledging NATO nations, like Estonia, are unwilling or unprepared to commit to.

Meanwhile, some of the largest NATO nations, the U.S., Britain, and France are facing political situations that make further troop commitments difficult to impossible. Bush faces a Democratic congress, while Blair and Chirac are almost certainly on their way out in coming months.

Saddam Verdict May Move Until After U.S. Elections

It seems the planned delivery of a verdict in Saddam Hussein's trial may be delayed from November 5th, curiously close to the election, until sometime after the election.

Any question of the original date's timing being related to the midterm elections in the U.S. has been denied as coincidental, but the delay comes after days of public feuding between U.S. officials and the government of Prime Minister al-Maliki.

A guilty verdict could reflect positively on [President George W.] Bush as a vindication of his policy to overthrow Saddam in 2003. The former Iraqi president is also on trial separately on charges of genocide against the country's ethnic Kurds in the late 1980s.

Administration Using Signing Statements To Grab Power

A 27-page report prepared by the non-partisan Congressional Research Service calls the Bush Administration's embracing of signing statements a "comprehensive strategy to strengthen and expand executive power."

Consider the 2007 Pentagon Budget, which forbids the use of intelligence garnered through illegal methods. Bush's response:

In Bush's signing statement, he suggested that he alone could decide whether the Pentagon could use such information. His signing statement instructed the military to view the law in light of ``the president's constitutional authority as commander in chief, including for the conduct of intelligence operations, and to supervise the unitary executive branch."

BBC News Analysis of the 'War on Terror'

What is the purpose of George W Bush's 'War on Terror' and what does it mean to the world? Has America's conduct in the 'War' shattered the coalition built up after September 11, 2001?

Five years after the terror attacks on September the 11th, the BBC takes a look at the 'War on Terror', its successes, its failures, and its consequences.

France Rejects 'War on Terror'

The French Prime Minister, Dominique de Villepin, has rejected George W Bush's 'War on Terror' in a speech to the French Parliament.

Villepin went on to highlight France's opposition to the U.S. Invasion of Iraq pointing out the destabilizing effect it has had on the region.

Administration Seeks War Crimes Protection

Accoring to this L.A. Times article, the Bush administration is seeking to retroactively exempt policymakers from prosecution under the War Crimes Act for any role they may have had in directing the torture or abuse of prisoners.

This does make one wonder if the whole Abu Ghraib drama may have an act or two left in it. Asking for such an amendment can only be politically damaging to the administration, so why seek an amendment to the Act to protect yourself unless the political damage is less costly than the damage criminal charges will bring.

Related Story:

Bush Again Misuses The Word 'War'

Addressing the heroic efforts of British security forces in thwarting a plot to blow up multiple passenger planes, president Bush again refers to the struggle against terrorism as a war. To be specific, a War Against Islamic Fascists, a phrase which, no doubt polls well with his base but is simply inaccurate.

Usage of the term 'war' has, in recent history, been used for many things; take for example the "war on drugs." (How's that going, by the way?) But, I think it's clear that when Bush uses that word in this context, he's seeking to invoke the image of "an armed conflict between nations, states, or parties." The problem is that Terrorism is an idea. It cannot be shot, stabbed, or blown up.

Declaring war against an idea is almost certainly a pursuit doomed to failure. The closest the U.S. has ever come to successfully fighting an idea is the "Cold War." An endeavor which took the better part of 50 years, trillions of dollars, and millions of lives (not all Americans.) We declared victory in the Cold War after the collapse of the Soviet Union, but we're still paying for the war today and for the forseeable future. The runaway defense spending of the 1980s, which continues today, was undoubtedly the coup de grace that toppled the Soviets as they collapsed under pressure to keep up. It remains to be seen whether the U.S. will survive the economic damage it did to itself in the conflict.

Dobbs Takes Bush To Task On Border Brag

In a commentary posted today, Lou Dobbs takes president Bush to task for bragging on empty accomplishments along the U.S. - Mexico border. Here's an excerpt:

When you talk about the National Guard delivering results at our border and brag about our Border Patrol agents seizing 17,000 pounds of illicit drugs and 2,500 illegal aliens along our southern border since June 15, well doggone it, it's just about obvious those fancy advisers of yours forgot to tell you that's actually well below last fiscal year's pace, when the Border Patrol caught more than 1 million illegal aliens and seized more than 1.3 million pounds of illicit drugs.

That's some accomplishment! Don't get me wrong, I agree with the president when it comes down to accepting the reality that illegals in this country are best dealt with through an opportunity to earn citizenship. But, he's trying to pander to both sides and in doing so, pleases no one.

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