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Wednesday, September 26, 2007


"Why I want to keep fighting in Iraq." Kirkuk, Iraq - Despite strong public appeals by Gen. David Petraeus and President Bush this month, American views on the Iraq war remain dim. The latest Pew survey shows that 54 percent say US troops should come home as soon as possible, while 47 percent believe the US will probably or definitely fail to achieve its goals in Iraq. Many experts and politicians, meanwhile, have suggested the war can't be won.

I am a US soldier in Iraq. And I disagree. It's not too late to succeed. The stakes in Iraq are too high not to keep fighting for progress.

...I've been asked by more than one Iraqi, "How long are you staying?" When I reply "At least a year," I'm told "A year is nothing in Iraq. It is a blink of the eye."

Local tradesmen are justifiably proud of their history and are fond of printing "Welcome to Iraq – More than 7,000 years of civilization" on hand-tooled leather goods. Time here is measured not in weeks and months, but in years and decades. How can we measure progress any differently?

Iral oil exports to north rise. Iraq's state oil company now has 15 million barrels of crude for sale at the Turkish port of Ceyhan this month, the biggest amount at least since the war began. And foreign oil investors are taking notice.

When measured against Iraq's vast oil reserves (the world's second largest), the precious crude flowing north these days is modest. But the ability to sell – and generate revenues for the nation – is directly connected to the ability to secure the pipelines. In the first three months of this year, the pipeline from the central Iraqi refinery at Bayji (one of three in Iraq) suffered 30 attacks that caused "significant" financial loses, Iraqi officials say. But in the past six months, there have been fewer than 10 attacks... As a member of the Iraq Study Group, Jaffe interviewed people about the Bayji oil refinery nearly a year ago. At the time, the plant was subject to so many attacks that those Jaffe spoke with suggested that the best option would be to close down the refinery. "So if [the security situation there] has changed, it's a big improvement."

Softened Iran resolution passes Senate; Obama missed the vote (again!) After 24 hours of wrangling over legislative language, the Senate adopted a resolution that urges the Bush administration to designate a militant Iranian group as a "foreign terrorist organization." ...Democratic presidential candidates were divided on the question. Sen. Hillary Clinton of New York voted for the resolution, while Sens. Joseph R. Biden Jr. of Delaware and Christopher Dodd of Connecticut voted against the measure. Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.), missed the vote.