The first is from Scott Ritter, the former UN weapons inspector in Iraq (who I interviewed in April 2006 for Alternet). In an article for Truthdig entitled, "Iraq's Tragic Failure", Ritter examines the state of the U.S. occupation and the complete disconnect in the way it is portrayed here in the United States. His depressing (and probably right) conclusion?
If there is any winner in all of this it will be the Sunni resistance, or at least its leadership hiding in the shadow of the American occupation, as it continues to exploit the chaotic death spiral of post-Saddam Iraq for its own long-term plan of a Sunni resurgence in Iraq. That the Sunni resistance will continue to fight an American occupation is a guarantee. That it will continue to persevere is highly probable. That the United States will be able to stop it is unlikely. And so, the reality that the only policy direction worthy of consideration here in the United States concerning Iraq is the immediate and unconditional withdrawal of American forces continues to hold true. And the fact that this option is given short shrift by all capable of making or influencing such a decision guarantees that this bloody war will go on, inconclusively and incomprehensibly, for many more years. That is the one image in my crystal ball that emerges in full focus, and which will serve as the basis of defining a national nightmare for generations to come.
The next piece is by Rolling Stone's Matt Taibbi, who examines the Democratic Party's complete failure to end the war in Iraq -- despite promising to do so in 2006, and despite (rightfully) trashing President Bush's Iraq policy. With the liberal blogosphere all aflutter over their next messiah, Barack Obama, it's nice to see that some people still judge politicians not just by their rhetoric, but what they actually do. As Taibbi writes:
Democrats insist that the reason they can't cut off the money for the war, despite their majority in both houses, is purely political. "George Bush would be on TV every five minutes saying that the Democrats betrayed the troops," says Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, an Independent who voted against the war but caucuses with the Democrats. Then he glumly adds another reason. "Also, it just wasn't going to happen."
Why it "just wasn't going to happen" is the controversy. In and around the halls of Congress, the notion that the Democrats made a sincere effort to end the war meets with, at best, derisive laughter. Though few congressional aides would think of saying so on the record, in private many dismiss their party's lame anti-war effort as an absurd dog-and-pony show, a calculated attempt to score political points without ever being serious about bringing the troops home.
"Yeah, the amount of expletives that flew in our office alone was unbelievable," says an aide to one staunchly anti-war House member. "It was all about the public show. Reid and Pelosi would say they were taking this tough stand against Bush, but if you actually looked at what they were sending to a vote, it was like Swiss cheese. Full of holes."
Finally, we come to this article by Christopher Ketcham over at the Huffington Post regarding the burgeoning secessionist movement in Vermont. An excerpt:
Here's how it will be with Vermont: The leaders of its secessionist movement, the Second Vermont Republic, want to feed, shelter, clothe, and fuel a free republic broken from the empire. This doesn't mean the little country will sink into Albanian isolation, its citizens ceasing to trade with China or refusing to watch the rot beamed on DirecTV satellites. It will continue to be a tourist destination, its slopes welcoming New Yorkers and Quebecois equally. But the state's secesh want to keep their tax dollars at home and put them toward localized food economies (calling it "food sovereignty"), energy supplies based on wind and water, and credit lines out of community lenders freed from the distant tyrannical rate controls of central banks.
And about that job: I'm now covering climate change policy full-time, though I will be continuing to report on foreign policy -- my first love -- for Inter Press Service as often as I can. And so you know.