- McClatchy shocker:
An exhaustive review of more than 600,000 Iraqi documents that were captured after the 2003 U.S. invasion has found no evidence that Saddam Hussein's regime had any operational links with Osama bin Laden's al Qaida terrorist network.
- Paul Richter:
President Bush's plans to end his term with a strong U.S. military presence in Iraq, and to leave tough decisions about ending the unpopular war to his successor.
The plans also would allow Bush to live up to his pledge to the defining mission of his presidency, and perhaps to improve his chances for a decent legacy. He can say he left office pursuing a strategy that was having at least some success in suppressing violence, a claim that some historians may view sympathetically.
- Mark Danner:
At the center of our national life stands the master narrative of this bifurcated politics: the Iraq war, fought to eliminate the threat of weapons of mass destruction that turned out not to exist, brought to a quick and glorious conclusion on a sunlit aircraft carrier deck whose victory celebration almost instantly became a national embarrassment. That was four and a half years ago; the war's ending and indeed its beginning, so clearly defined for that single trembling instant, have long since vanished into contested history.
- Jack Balkin:
[Bush's larger strategy is] to entrench the U.S. presence in Iraq for the foreseeable future, and do what he can to ensure that John McCain becomes President, or failing that, Hillary Clinton as a second best solution. He figures that McCain, and, to a lesser extent Clinton, are most likely to continue aspects of his policies and keep troops in Iraq for some time. The longer that the next president continues his policies-- including warrantless surveillance, his interrogation practices, and his war in Iraq, the longer these features will become normalized and/or the next President's problem.
- Robert Costanza makes an interesting point about the prevailing indicator of our economic health:
An oil spill, for example, increases GDP because someone has to clean it up, but it obviously detracts from well-being. More crime, more sickness, more war, more pollution, more fires, storms and pestilence are all potentially positives for the GDP because they can spur an increase in economic activity.
GDP also ignores activity that may enhance well-being but is outside the market. The unpaid work of parents caring for their children at home doesn't show up in GDP, but if they decide to work outside the home and pay for child care, GDP suddenly increases. And even though $1 in income means a lot more to the poor than to the rich, GDP takes no account of income distribution.
In short, GDP was never intended to be a measure of citizens' welfare -- and it functions poorly as such. Yet it is used as a surrogate appraisal of national well-being in far too many circumstances.