Signs that the retreat following the the November elections is starting to end is suggested not by a single dramatic event but by a succession of small ones. Often the change is simply atmospheric. Something feels different. People regain their confidence. But most of all it comes from the realization from those who have formerly been on the defensive that the opposition is not ten feet tall.
- Pelosi passes on Hastings: " In a decision that could roil Democratic unity in the new House, Speaker-to-be Nancy Pelosi passed over Rep. Alcee Hastings Tuesday for the chairmanship of the Intelligence Committee." (AP/Breitbart)
- France 2 loses the second Mohammed al-Dura case. The French state broadcaster had filed for defamation against Charles Enderlin, who argued that France 2 had massaged its footage to make it appear that a boy, Mohammed al-Dura was killed Israeli fire by hiding the outtakes.
- The Canadians ask the Europeans to put their money where their mouth is: A handful of European NATO countries offered minor concessions to a Canadian request that they allow their troops to reinforce the Canadian contingent, recently under attack in Kandahar, Afghanistan in “emergency” circumstances. But the NATO countries argued over what might constitute an “emergency”, according to the Canadian Press.
- Who Is Captain Jamil Hussein? And why does he turn up constantly as a source in AP Baghdad stringer Qais al-Bashir’s stories? Curt at Flopping Aces has done some intensive investigative work, assisted by multiple other bloggers, and has turned up several “phantom policemen” repeatedly quoted in Western media, whom Centcom has never heard of. (Flopping Aces)
- Can we say "admits?": Iran’s Hezbollah is said to be helping Moktada al-Sadr’s Mahdi Army in Iraq. “American officials say the Iranians have also provided direct support to Shiite militias in Iraq, including explosives and trigger devices for roadside bombs, and training for several thousand fighters, mostly in Iran. The training is carried out by the Iranian Revolutionary Guards and the Ministry of Intelligence and Security, they say.” So says the New York Times.
- The U.N. Security Council voted unanimously Tuesday to extend the mandate of the 160,000-member multinational force in Iraq. The council acted quickly in response to a request from Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki who said a top government priority is to assume full responsibility for security and stability in the country but it needs more time, according to the AP.
The retreat may not stop, but it is not inconceivable that it is beginning to stop. And that's good news because it means a balance is coming back into the picture. Two events were principally responsible for changing the atmospherics. The first was the ill-advised attempt by Nancy Pelosi, which she has since rectified, to place Alcee Hastings in the House Intelligence chair. The second was the Syrian assassination of Gemayel in Lebanon which heavily undercut proposals to obtain a Syrian and Iranian sponsored American withdrawal plan from Iraq. In both cases the public saw in the clearest terms what perils awaited and realized that not everything the anti-administration critics advocated was necessarily an improvement.