Bloggers are suspicious about the timing of a massive air assault by American and Iraqi forces and equally dubious about the pre-emptive nature of the Bush administration's national-security policy. They're also weighing in on Jessica Simpson's reported snub of President Bush.
Shock and swarm: More than 200 tactical ground vehicles and 50 aircraft are taking part in a joint air assault by the U.S. and Iraqi troops during Operation Swarmer. The target area near Samarra, the site of the recent mosque bombing, is believed to be heavily populated by insurgents.
Liberal AK at Penguins on the Equator points readers to a New Yorker story by Seymour Hersh that predicted the increase in air strikes to avoid U.S. casualties. "The flip side is that it matters greatly who is calling in the strikes (in order to ensure that the targets are legitimate and that Iraqis working for the US aren't simply trying to settle old scores)," AK reasons. "Iraqi civilian casualties will likely go up, and the offensive could actually have the effect of emboldening the insurgents."
Dave Anthony on group blog Blackfolks is skeptical about the Bush administration's motive in launching the air assaults while controversy swirls around the administration. He remembers that "when Clinton lobbed cruise missiles into Sudan and Afghanistan they accused him of 'wagging the dog' to get his scandal out of the headlines." Journalist Joy-Ann Reid at Reidreport agrees: "You might as well call it 'Operation: Change the Headlines.' "
Liberal Gideon Starorzewski lists the reasons why Anthony and Reid may have a point. He calls the operation: "1) A distraction from Bush's policy failures and the scandals plaguing his administration and his party, 2) A desperate attempt to resuscitate Bush's image, which keep's flatlining on the table of public opinion, and 3) A failure of Bush's Iraq policy; despite three years, $400 billion dollars, and over 2300 US troops dead, the Bush administration still hasn't been able to restabilize the country it destabilized."
Alabaman Jason Coleman objects: "This is NOT the big deal that the media is trying to play up, it's not an escalation in the violence, it's an ESCALATION OF TRAINING AND OPERATIONS on the Iraqi's part. This is a good thing people!!!!" The Gun Toting Liberal is happy to see some action. "Three cheers for the President (finally), the troops (always), and the Iraqis (sometimes) who are pitching in on this effort," says GTL.
"Is this another stability operation, or do we have a high-value target in our sights?" asks military blogger Citizen Smash on Indepundit. "Broad hints are being dropped that the target may be Zarqawi himself," Smash claims later in the day.
W. Thomas Smith Jr. on the National Review's Corner blog tries to clear up the difference between a bombing campaign and an air assault for people who think an air assault will kill loads of civilians. "An 'air assault' is actually a helicopter-borne infantry assault. In this case, large numbers of helicopters are ferrying airborne-infantry soldiers to enemy targets," Smith writes.
Read what bloggers are saying about Operation Swarmer.
Pre-emptive griping: President Bush issued a document today detailing his national security strategies, reaffirming his policy of pre-emptive action against terrorists. The report also includes strategies for widening the reach of democracy around the world.
"The doctrine of 'preemptive war', which was declared illegal by the International War Crimes Tribunal at Nuremburg following World War II, is being explicitly reaffirmed today by President Bush in the 2006 version of the U.S. national security strategy," says D.C. blogger and administration critic Effwit. NotKhan at Undercommon calls it the "Shoot First, Cover Up Later" policy.
The report cites Iran as a particularly troublesome security threat. "A policy of going around starting wars with countries we don't like because we're paranoid won't lead anywhere good. …The best way to protect ourselves from attack is not to crush all possible enemies, which creates many more, but to convince people not to want to attack us in the first place," says the Liberal Walrus.
Talk radio Libertarian Neal Boortz thinks Bush's head is in the right place concerning Iran and the strike-first policy is the way to go. "At this point, the only way it seems like we are going to stop Iran's nuclear weapons program is if we do it ourselves. And how do we do that? By bombing their reactors," he asserts. Darth Dilbert on Return of the Conservatives also argues that the proactive strategy is best. "This look towards national security is lost upon the RATs and their allies in the media who prefer appeasement and surrender as their solution," Dilbert jabs.
Here's what bloggers are saying about the national security report.
Snubbing the Dub: Jessica Simpson declined to attend a Republican fund-raiser where she was invited to meet President Bush, reportedly because she did not want to politicize her work with Operation Smile, a children's charity.
Defamer dishes Simpson a backhanded compliment: "Now, please excuse us while we attend to the unsettling, alien emotions and accompanying hot flashes associated with our newly-developing respect for Jessica Simpson."
Read more about Simpson and Bush here.