Wednesday, January 26, 2005

A light at the end of the tunnel? A timetable (or, rather, a "timeline") for withdrawal from parts of Iraq?

That's what Tony Blair sees:

Tony Blair has signalled that the US and Britain will begin handing over control of large parts of Iraq to the country's security forces after Sunday's national elections, seeking to underscore the legitimacy of the newly-elected government.

... in a Financial Times interview the prime minister said the coalition was set to agree "timelines" with the new government that would indicate the pace at which Iraqi forces could take control of peaceful parts of the country.

"There are areas where we would be able to hand over to those Iraqi forces. Remember, 14 out of the 18 provinces in Iraq are relatively peaceful and stable."

Mr Blair indicated that as this handover developed it would become clearer when the coalition could leave altogether....

I'm not sure how this jibes with the Army's plan to keep 120,000 troops in Iraq for the next two years, or Bush's statement on the subject in the first debate with Kerry ("I know putting artificial deadlines won't work.... You can't do that and expect to win the war on terror"), but I guess that's why Tony Blair gets to run a big country and I just run a blog.

Blair also sees Dr. Jekyll where most sensible people see Mr. Hyde:

He argued that ... following President George W. Bush's re-election, US foreign policy was undergoing an "evolution ... that has been underestimated by people".

A sign of that, Mr Blair argued, was US policy on climate change, which will be at the heart of the prime minister's address to the World Economic Forum in Davos tonight. He said the US "does want to get back into a dialogue" on climate change, arguing that "the administration ... [has] long since moved from the position that there is not an issue here"....

Hmmm, let's see:

Last week, the U.S. delegation to the World Conference on Disaster Reduction lobbied for the deletion of all references to climate change from a new U.N. action plan on natural disasters. It did so despite the recent conclusion of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a U.N.-organized network of scientists, that global warming will cause more extreme weather events, including hurricanes and droughts, in the decades to come.

Meanwhile, the administration is doing its best to impose its political will on the scientific community at home.

According to The Washington Post, James Hansen, head of NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies, accused a senior administration official of trying to block him from discussing the dangerous effects of global warning. And Bush's top science adviser, John Marburger, has warned researchers that they risk losing their federal funding if they publicly oppose administration policies.

Yeah, that sounds like a new Bush, all right.

Blair always seems desperate to prove that his way of thinking is essentially shared by Bush -- that Bush likes Blair and the Blairist Third Way. Maybe somebody needs to send Tony a copy of He's Just Not That Into You.

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