Tuesday, January 15, 2008

A few days ago, the story out of Washington was that the "surge" had finally started to yield the political gains that justified it in the first place, with a new law which allowed Sunni functionaries from the former regime back into the Shiite-dominated government. Well, whenever you hear a story like that, wait a few days, and then read Spencer Ackerman, who reports that the law actually kicks out as many ex-Baathists as it lets in:

...the Shiite/Kurdish government finally passes a de-Baathification law, only the law is phony. The Sunnis are outraged: one Sunni parliamentarian calls the law "a sword on the neck of the people."
Or maybe Le Monde, which reports on the one thing on which the Shiites and Sunnis have lined up together: keeping the Kurds from taking control of Kirkuk (which was supposed to be the subject of a long-delayed referendum), an issue on which the "Shiite/Kurdish" coalition may itself be breaking up.

Gotta be careful with those French, though. They're covering the American presidential campaign as if it was about the issues; Le Monde's two American election stories today are about the Clinton and Obama stimulus plans, and trying to find some real policy import, possibly protectionist, in the bloviation of McCain and Romney about bringing jobs back to Michigan. Whereas here in America, listening to our own media, I know that what it's really about is whether the candidates can find a way to talk nice about each other. I'm listening to a radio hour on this theme on my local public radio station right now...


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