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Daily Column
US Papers Sun: Drug Use Up In Iraqi Soldiers
John McCain, Joe Lieberman and Lindsey Graham write an Op-Ed
By DANIEL W. SMITH 12/21/2008 02:00 AM ET
Not a big news day. The New York Times has a grand total of one actual news story related to Iraq, and the Washington Post doesn’t even have that. The Post makes some amends by offering an op-ed by three big-shot senators. The Times also has a few related opinion pieces on military restructuring.

From Baghdad
Mudhafer al-Husaini and Erica Goode of the New York Times have an interesting report on prescription abuse among Iraqi soldiers. The article begins...
For an Iraqi Army soldier patrolling Baghdad’s unpredictable streets, each 12-hour shift is an exercise in terror and uncertainty. So Ahmed Qasim pops a small white tablet called Artane to help him through his duties.

“For me, it helps me to get the job done,” he said. “I can’t bear working without taking Artane. It makes me happy and high, but I still can control myself.”
Artane is used to treat Parkinson’s disease and that can have “euphoric effects when used in high doses”. A curious thing is that it has caries no physical addiction, like some drugs, but just a psychological one. It is not a problem for addiction in other countries it seems, but in Iraq, undoubtedly the drug of choice. Valium comes second, being available over-the-counter in Iraq. Soldiers, and others (including rampant use among those in prisons) can get them through the black market or networks of legal pharmacies which sell them illegally.

Of the difficult life of an Iraqi soldier, the one interviewed said, “We don’t commit suicide... and that’s why we resort to Artane and other drugs.”

Opinion
Senators John McCain, Joe Lieberman and Lindsey Graham collaborate on an op-ed in the Washington Post entitled ”A Chance For Concensus On Iraq”, in which they speak of the security gains in, and how a “responsible” conclusion could be brought to Iraq.

There are platitudes we’ve heard before, like “Iraq can serve as an anchor of stability in the region, a counter to Iranian hegemony and a model of democracy for the Middle East,” three points that current domestic Iraqi politics might call into question. (Those of us in Baghdad aren't being blinded by democracy's new beacon of light just yet)

They observe the time-honored tradition of demanding bi-partisanship from the other team to get things done, but that's where the article takes an unexpected turn, and is at its best. There actually is a spirit of bipartisanship to it. They write, “Based on our observations and consultations in Baghdad, we are optimistic that President-elect Obama will be able to fulfill a major step of his plan for withdrawal next year by redeploying U.S. combat forces from Iraq's cities while maintaining a residual force to train and mentor our Iraqi allies.”

No matter what the reason is for it, it is nice to hear.

New York Times op-ed contributor William A. Owens writes on the bloated and expensive military industrial complex, and the need for a “revolution” to make cuts without jeopardizing national security and the safety of troops. With innovative thinking, Owens says it is possible, but obviously quite a challenge.
What President Dwight D. Eisenhower called the “military-industrial complex” is resurgent, this time driven by defense contractors. Their myopic drive to assure quarterly profits stifles innovation. And little changes because they wield inordinate influence through contracts in nearly every Congressional district.
The New York Times Editorial page looks into some ways to do this, in ”How to Pay for a 21st-Century Military”. It is mostly cuts in Pentagon projects they see as outdated, or based on programs or ideology from the cold war.

Here are their recommendations, discussed further in the article.
End production of the Air Force’s F-22.
Cancel the DDG-1000 Zumwalt class destroyer.
Halt production of the Virginia class sub.
Pull the plug on the Marine Corps’s V-22 Osprey.
Halt premature deployment of missile defense.
Negotiate deep cuts in nuclear weapons.
Trim the active-duty Navy and Air Force.
Increase the size of the ground force.
Pay for the Navy’s needed littoral combat ships.
Resupply the National Guard and the Reserves.
Christian Science Monitor, USA Today, Wall Street Journal, no Sunday Editions.

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