The problems with ‘strategic patience’
Michael O’Hanlon’s latest in the Washington Post (with Ann Gildroy) offers a chance to step back and assess the emerging argument for “strategic patience” which I suspect will become central to the upcoming national debate. What strikes me most about these arguments is their refusal to spell out the mechanisms by which they expect to see American military presence translate into a happy ending, to frankly assess the conditions under which an American drawdown would become possible, to specify indicators which would suggest that their approach is not working, and their refusal to think seriously about the strategic incentives created by different American postures. Instead, it’s just a “magic box”: keep the troops in place and hope for the best.
Pentagon institute calls Iraq war ‘a major debacle’ with outcome ‘in doubt’
The war in Iraq has become “a major debacle” and the outcome “is in doubt” despite improvements in security from the buildup in U.S. forces, according to a highly critical study published Thursday by the Pentagon’s premier military educational institute.
The report [PDF] released by the National Defense University raises fresh doubts about President Bush’s projections of a U.S. victory in Iraq just a week after Bush announced that he was suspending U.S. troop reductions.
The report carries considerable weight because it was written by Joseph Collins, a former senior Pentagon official, and was based in part on interviews with other former senior defense and intelligence officials who played roles in prewar preparations.
Poll: Obama pulling away
Despite her campaign’s relentless attacks on Barack Obama’s qualifications and electability, Hillary Clinton has lost a lot of ground with Democratic voters nationwide going into Tuesday’s critical primary in Pennsylvania, a new NEWSWEEK poll shows.
The survey of 1,209 registered voters found that Obama now leads Clinton by nearly 20 points, or 54 percent to 35 percent, among registered Democrats and those who lean Democratic nationwide. The previous Newsweek poll, conducted in March after Clinton’s big primary wins in Ohio and Texas, showed the two Democrats locked in a statistical tie (45 percent for Obama to 44 percent for Clinton). The new poll puts Obama ahead among women as well as men, and voters aged 60 and older as well as younger voters.
Superdelegates unswayed by Clinton’s attacks
Throughout their contentious debate on Wednesday, Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton tried again and again to put Senator Barack Obama on the defensive in a pointed attempt, her advisers say, to raise doubts about his electability among a small but powerful audience: the uncommitted superdelegates who will most likely determine the nomination.
Yet despite giving it her best shot in what might have been their final debate, interviews on Thursday with a cross-section of these superdelegates — members of Congress, elected officials and party leaders — showed that none had been persuaded much by her attacks on Mr. Obama’s strength as a potential Democratic nominee, his recent gaffes and his relationships with his former pastor and with a onetime member of the Weather Underground.
U.S. lacks plan to operate in Pakistani tribal areas, GAO Says
The Bush administration has no comprehensive plan for dealing with the threat posed by Pakistan’s lawless tribal areas, where al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden is believed to be hiding, according to a new report released yesterday from the research arm of Congress.
The Government Accountability Office also said “the United States has not met its national security goals to destroy terrorist threats and close the safe haven” provided by the tribal areas, despite having spent more than $10 billion for Pakistani military operations in the mountainous border region.”
GAO staff members interviewed experts inside and outside the government, and “we found broad agreement . . . that al-Qaida had regenerated its ability to attack the United States and had succeeded in establishing a safe haven” in the unpoliced region, the report says.