Thursday, May 18, 2006


Very interesting..... gee, didn't Rummy just state this week he wouldn't commit to when or how many troops would be withdrawn? And they are going to limit the U.S. deaths to just one a day. Ain't that grand? What does that mean? They're going to limit the deaths they report to one a day? Unfriggin believable. They're going to withdraw troops before the November elections. We all know's their ace in the hole.

Summit gamble for Blair and Bush
Tom Baldwin, Washington
May 19, 2006

BRITISH Prime Minister Tony Blair is preparing to fly to Washington for a "lame duck summit" with US President George W.Bush where he will tackle the issue of Iraq, which will probably now define both leaders' place in history.
It will be his first trip to Washington for almost a year and is a gamble at a time when he and Mr Bush are at their lowest ebb in the opinion polls.

The summit has been pencilled in for late this month but Downing Street sources say that depends on a new Iraqi government of national unity having been formed by then.

Such a development, expected in the next few days, would allow them to claim a breakthrough. Iraq's incoming prime minister said yesterday he would unveil his cabinet to parliament this weekend.

His comments came as new Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi said the invasion had been a "grave error" and that he would propose withdrawing Italy's 3000 troops. The threat was largely symbolic, as a withdrawal had already been pencilled in for the end of the year.

British and US sources say Mr Bush and Mr Blair have other pressing issues to discuss, including the nuclear standoff with Iran and the growing frost in relations with Russia, but Iraq will dominate.

Both men continue to believe Iraq can become a stable, modern democracy, but only if their successors are willing to "stay the course" by keeping at least some support troops there for several more years.

Much thought has been given to developing a military counter-insurgency strategy, heavily influenced by the relative success of the British armed forces, which can be sustained after they have left office.

Pentagon advisers now talk about limiting the deaths of US servicemen to "no more than one killed in action a day".

They are preparing for a substantial withdrawal of up to 50,000 troops by the end of the year, and believe that the remaining force can be kept away from the line of fire by "hunkering down" inside heavily fortified, semi-permanent bases.

Mr Bush could certainly do with some support from Mr Blair, who remains popular in the US and has always articulated the case for war better than the American President.

But Mr Blair will not seek to boost the US's flagging support for the war. "This is not an exercise in backboning," a British diplomat said.

He will instead deliver a speech suggesting that he arrived at the same conclusion as Mr Bush - on the need to remove Saddam Hussein - from a different direction.

He intends to return to the theme of a 1999 speech in Chicago when he set out a doctrine of humanitarian interventionism.

A close ally said: "Tony feels terribly misunderstood. He desperately wants to explain his foreign policy by putting Iraq in the context of previous interventions such as Kosovo, increasing aid for Africa, supporting the Middle East peace process and his position on climate change."

Mr Blair has devoted considerable time over the past month to planning the address. It is expected to emphasise the need to reform multilateral organisations including the UN and the World Trade Organisation.

Friends privately acknowledge that Mr Blair's political fortunes have never fully recovered from his failure to win a second UN resolution authorising military action against Iraq.

Since then, the British Prime Minister's desire to confront his critics has been frustrated by advisers who have urged him to stay away from an issue that they believe is now largely "parked" in Britain.

Question Girl