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U.S. Papers Sunday: 25-0
The Battle in Washington Eclipses the War in Iraq
By EASON JORDAN 01/14/2007 03:18 AM ET
The New York Times and Washington Post are stuffed with Iraq-focused reporting, analyses, and commentaries – 25 in all. Yet, amazingly, not a single one of those original stories comes from Iraq itself (in fairness, there’s a Baghdad-datelined AP report in the NYT). Why? With 140,000 U.S. troops in Iraq, Iraqis and Americans being killed there every day, and with the U.S. troop presence costing American taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars a day, Americans deserve and need meaty reporting from the war zone daily. And I pity the newspaper correspondents risking life and limb in Iraq only to see their editors opt not to include a single original story from Iraq in the huge Sunday papers (two days straight for the NYT).

NEW YORK TIMES

Correspondents Adam Nagourney and Patrick Healy report on how the Bush "Surge" makes the 2008 U.S. presidential race all the more interesting, with presumed candidates Hillary Clinton and John McCain taking sharply different paths when it comes to Iraq (she made a day trip to Baghdad yesterday, as noted in this story).

Republican unity is unraveling when it comes to Iraq and other issues, reports Carl Hulse. “We have got a lot of free agents,” Republican Senator John Thune is quoted as saying as President Bush’s popularity plummets.

Jim Rutenberg reports on the Bush administration facing a huge PR challenge in trying to get the American people on board with Bush's "surge" plan.

N.R. Kleinfeld reports on the mixed reaction among U.S. service men and women in this country to Bush's Iraq "surge" plan. Full-time troops seem mostly supportive, while many reservists are angry and disappointed.

In the Week in Review section, David Greenberg provides an interesting take on past and present presidential mea culpas. He writes: “While these confessions may work in the short term, they rarely work long-term magic. That typically requires a new course of action.”

Also in the WiR section, Kate Zernike examines how Bush's legacy might impact the 2008 Congressional elections. Republicans are nervous, and Democrats are bullish.

Again the WiR section, in a piece headlined “The Best We Can Hope For,” correspondent Helene Cooper provides a bleak set of assessments about how the Iraq war might end for the U.S. She quotes military expert Stephen Biddle as saying “In the best-case scenario, we’ll be in Iraq for 15-20 years.”

Kicking off the commentaries is a column by Frank Rich, who provides his usual well-written weekly Bush-bashing diatribe. Rich describes Bush as looking “as broken as this war.”

Nicholas Kristof opens his column this way: "With Iraq sliding off a cliff, another 20,000 young Americans along as well, it's worth wrestling with a larger question: Why are we so awful at foreign policy?"

In an op-ed, U.S. Army Captain Luis Carlos Montalvan says the U.S. must insist Iraqi leaders declare war on corruption because otherwise trying to make things right in Iraq will be a futile.

The newspaper offers an editorial of its own headlined "Picking Up the Pieces." The editorial lambasts Bush, declares the Iraq war “unwinnable,” and closes this way: “History will surely blame Mr. Bush for leading America into Iraq, but it will blame Congress if it does not act to push him onto a more realistic path.”

WASHINGTON POST

Rajiv Chandrasekaran provides a fascinating page one report on how the newly-appointed U.S. official tasked with leading the U.S.-directed reconstruction efforts in Iraq was recalled for that position after quitting a big U.S. Iraq job in 2003 because he was fed up with U.S. bungling. Rajiv (spelling his last name once is challenging enough), now a big-wig at the Post, previously served as the paper’s Baghdad bureau chief, and he wrote a terrific book on Iraq.

Peter Baker and Michael Abramowitz report on Bush's increasing isolation on Capitol Hill. The story includes this quote from Iraq Study Group member (and Democrat) Leon Panetta: “No president can conduct a war without the support of the American people and without the support of Congress.” William Kristol, the Weekly Standard editor who supports the “surge,” offers this criticism of the Bush administration: “they’re not the most competent at executing the war.”

Shailagh Murray profiles a Republican congressman, Charlie Dent, who's struggling with whether to support Bush's Iraq "surge." Dent says, “I’m very skeptical, I’m very concerned.”

Ann Scott Tyson profiles Admiral William Fallon, the newly-nominated chief of Central Command, which oversees U.S. military efforts (or lack thereof) in most of the world’s hot spots, including Iraq, Afghanistan, Iran, and northeast Africa. He’s widely admired for his diplomatic skills, and he’s expected to focus on the big picture while leaving Iraq to the U.S. commander there, General David Petraeus.

The Outlook section is overflowing with commentaries.

Leslie Gelb and Richard Betts compare and contrast the wars in Iraq and Vietnam, arguing that despite the differences in those wars the end-game goal is the same: while perhaps not winning per se, not outright losing. They argue a loss in Iraq, which they see as increasingly likely, would have greater fallout than the U.S. loss in Vietnam.

In an op-ed headlined “Trapped by Hubris, Again,” Washington Post Associate Editor Robert Kaiser writes that "For the United States, Iraq has become another Vietnam."

In his op-ed, Robert Brigham urges the Bush administration to follow the Iraq Study Group recommendation for the U.S. to commence talks with Syria and Iran.

In a commentary headlined “The big gambit in Iraq,” columnist David Broder writes that Bush has given up hope of regaining public support for the war, while hoping to somehow make progress in Iraq, anyway.

Columnist George Will's column is headlined "Bush's Hail Mary Pass," and he writes Bush and his critics are likely to come out of this conflict terribly battered.

Columnist Jim Hoagland writes of the challenges facing Iraq-bound U.S. General David Petraeus and how, if any general can overcome the challenges there, it's Petraeus.

In an op-ed, Iraq expert Michael O'Hanlon writes that despite the odds against the plan working, Bush's "surge" plan is "still the right thing to try – as long as we do not count on it succeeding and we start working on backup plans even as we grant Bush his request.”

The soon-to-be top U.S. general in Iraq, David Petraeus, in 1987 wrote his 328-page doctoral thesis on the lessons learned from Vietnam, and the Post provides excerpts here. A highlight: urging the president not to commit U.S. troops to a conflict unless the president “can ensure sufficient public support to permit carrying the commitment through to its conclusion.”

In the weekly feature entitled “Tom Ricks’s InBox” – he’s the Post’s Pentagon correspondent – Ricks shares an e-mail from a Iraq war vet who asks whether anyone else sees the similarity between an infamous Vietnam war photo and the images of Saddam being executed.

Finally, Post Ombudsman Deborah Howell notes complaints from readers about the Post's reporting and choice and placement of photos regarding Saddam Hussein's execution.

USA TODAY

Dark on weekends.

WALL STREET JOURNAL

Dark on weekends.

CHRISTIAN SCIENCE MONITOR

Dark on weekends.

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