What will the September report mean for the war in Iraq?

A summary of what's in the major U.S. newspapers.
April 30 2007 6:02 AM

The September Report

The Los Angeles Timesleads with a news analysis piece claiming that September will be the make-or-break month for political support of the war in Iraq. The Washington Post leads with reports that senior Iraqi army and police officials were dismissed  by Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's office for aggressively combating Shiite militias. Even as thousands of Iraqis fled their homeland over the last six months, only a few dozen were allowed into the U.S. as refugees, leads USA Today. The New York Times leads with China's widespread acceptance of adding a coal derivative called melamine to animal feed, a practice that may have contaminated U.S. pet food, leading to several pet deaths. The Wall Street Journal leads its world-wide newsbox with reports that Iran will join a region-wide summit on reducing violence in Iraq, a story the NYT off-leads.

The LAT's analysis begins by saying President Bush will veto the recently passed emergency supplemental spending bill and that Congress will then send him a bill funding the war in Iraq without withdrawal language. The paper asserts that the locus of the debate will then shift to September, when Gen. David H. Petraeus will deliver a progress report on the effectiveness of the president's troop surge plan. The odd part of the piece is the LAT's assumption that 1) political support for the war will live or die by this report and that 2) the news in the report will be bad. The sources the paper has on record are chiefly Democrats who opposed the war to begin with, not moderates who may have their thinking reversed. One Republican, Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, does say "all options" should be on the table if more progress doesn't materialize by fall—but one member does not a trend make.

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The WP, meanwhile, argues that no matter what the facts on the ground are, political realities at home make it virtually impossible for most Republicans to break ranks with the White House on the war. The WP reports that Republican members are finding the fervor of the pro-war Republican base makes it hard to have anything but unflagging support for the war, no matter what independent voters may think.

The WP's lead story on Prime Minister Maliki is informed by long-standing rumors that his administration was intentionally lax on controlling sectarian violence, particularly Shiite militias backed by Maliki's political allies. Mailiki has denied these claims. In the last two months, however, a number of high-ranking officials involved in fighting sectarian violence have been fired or pressured to quit.

The delay in admitting Iraqis to the U.S. is at least partially caused by the amount of time needed for background checks, reports USAT. Only 68 Iraqis could be admitted in the last six months. During that same period, however, the U.S. took in more than 1,300 Cubans and more than 2,400 Iranians. The paper doesn't explain why nationals from countries with long-standing difficult relationships with the United States have an easier time gaining entry.

The NYT piece on the use of melamine as an animal-feed filler focuses on widespread Chinese acceptance of a pragmatic decision—melamine gives feed the appearance of being high in protein with little additional cost. But there's a larger point at work here and it's one that the paper just barely touches on: the difficulties of ensuring the safety of America's food supply when so much of our food comes from overseas.

Both the United States and Iran will send diplomatic representatives to a region-wide summit on stabilizing Iraq. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said the two nations might have rare direct discussions, but that Iran's nuclear program won't be brought up. Instead, the two sides will talk about the presumably mutual goal of strengthening security in Iraq. As the NYT points out, however, nearly everything the United States could ask of Iran, whether it's tightening border controls or ending arms shipments to insurgents, would imply a certain amount of guilt on Iran's part.

The NYT covers National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley's search for a "war czar," an adviser who would brief the president on the war in Iraq. The paper paints the job search as a dodge on Hadley's part, arguing that everything the czar would hypothetically do should fall under Hadley's job description. Unfortunately, the article contains a little dodge of its own, devoting two-thirds of its word count to lampooning Hadley's straight-laced demeanor instead of bolstering its argument that the czar would be superfluous.

The WP  profiles  Sen. Hillary Clinton's polling master, Mark Penn.

The NYT does a feature on Sen. Barack Obama's increasingly difficult relationship with his afrocentric, radical leftist pastor.

A disease akin to Ebola for fish threatens to wipe out fish stocks in and around the Great Lakes, saysUSAT. So far the disease is not contractible by humans, but it could have serious environmental and economic impacts throughout the region if it continues to spread.

The WP reports that the Virginia Tech shootings have opened up a rift in the Korean-American community. Older, community-minded people feel the need to apologize for the gunman's actions, while younger members claim the shooting exposes the community's aversion to normal, individualist displays of emotion.

Remember the Maine health plan before proposing a national health-care solution, warns the NYT.

The LAT says Iraq veterans are playing a larger role in the anti-war movement, muddling the meaning of the phrase, "support the troops."

Forget spyware—USAT says the new trend in market research is to get your permission before spying on your every move.

Women are 25 times more likely to be harassed online than men, reports the WP, a trend that's threatening to drive some women out the blogosphere.

The NYT discovers that, yes, dancing still burns calories, even when there's a video game involved.

Jesse Stanchak is a writer living in Washington, D.C.

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