Various thoughts on current events with an emphasis on politics, legal issues, books, movies and whatever is on my mind. Emails can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org; please put "blog comments" in the subject line.
And Also: I saw the second half of Season 2 of Friday Nights Lights on DVD. It was okay, characters great, but skipped over some tedious plot material. S1 and the second half of S4 were much better.
I did not see the extended coverage of "a key milestone in the withdrawal of American forces more than seven years after the US-led invasion that ousted dictator Saddam Hussein," Keith hosted last night on the "last US combat brigade" leaving Iraq. Partially it is a matter of:
On September 1, the US mission in Iraq will be re-christened "Operation New Dawn", from "Operation Iraqi Freedom" -- the name given to American operations since the invasion. To fill the gap left by departing troops, the US State Department is to more than double the number of security contractors it employs in Iraq to around 7,000, the New York Times reported.
I don't see a segment among the many (watching a bit now -- it's interesting) is labeled as addressing this matter. We have been taught by various segments on Rachel Maddow to distrust security contractors, but now more will go there. Will some be related to Xe or whatever they call themselves now? Keith at one point made a telling comment of the "symbolic" nature of this final removal. As another blog noted:
Yet, lost beneath the headlines and fanfare is the following fact: around 50,000 troops will remain in Iraq. The government is not describing them as combat troops. Instead, it is calling these soldiers advisers, as the Washington Post reports:
By the end of this month, the United States will have six brigades in Iraq, by far its smallest footprint since the 2003 invasion. Those that remain are conventional combat brigades reconfigured slightly and rebranded "advise and assist brigades." The primary mission of those units and the roughly 4,500 U.S. special operations forces that will stay behind will be to train Iraqi troops.
The Iraq War will continue to exact financial and physical costs on the United States and the people of Iraq.
The idea that these troops, tens of thousands overall, will not be involved in any military type activities, including loss of lives, to me seems a bit dubious. There is also another year for this new mission, whatever they call it, to go on. The spokesman interviewed by Rachel said we shouldn't call this a "war." That has some importance (just as those held in Afghanistan), but let's see how much that matters. I like Keith remember another "ending" some years back of combat operations, even if this time the qualifier "major" isn't included.