The British will cut their troop presence in Iraq in half -- events permitting -- by the end of the year. Though apparently Prince Harry will still be going there if the Daily Mirror is to be believed.
A federal appeals court has ruled (in a decision that will be appealed to the Supreme Court) that Gitmo detainees can't challenge their internment in U.S. courts, thanks to the Republican Congress stripping that power from them last year. They can thus be held indefinitely until they are tried before the flawed military commissions that Bush has set up. Congressional Democrats have said they will revisit the commission law to fix the most glaring problems. If they plan to do that, they should get to it; it's an affront to liberty to hold people for years without charge, or try them in a court that doesn't afford them full rights.
Iran, in a mirror image of recent U.S. charges, has accused the United States of supplying Sunni militants who last week car-bombed a bus of Iranian Revolutionary Guards. Their claim comes complete with bullet cartridges bearing U.S. markings. Does this prove U.S. involvement? No. But it's interesting to note that the Iranians have roughly as much evidence backing up their claim as we have of Iranian involvement in Iraq. And just as it's very likely Iran is meddling in Iraq, would anyone be surprised to discover that we're supporting anti-Iran militants? That is not a reason to turn a blind eye to Iranian meddling; but it is a reason to look askance at the moral outrage the White House has tried to generate over the issue. Meanwhile, there are no updates on the sniper rifles allegedly supplied by Iran. The smoking gun remains elusive.
Separately, Iran is making noises about stopping its enrichment program -- if Western countries do the same. The non-offer comes a day before the International Atomic Energy Agency is expected to issue a critical report that will trigger even harsher U.N. sanctions against the country. Iran once again demonstrates it is not serious about negotiating, and the IAEA report will show that it has expanded, rather than slowed, its enrichment activities. The question is what sort of measures Russia and China will allow the U.N. to take.
Mitt Romney is somewhat ironically attacking John McCain for being inconsistent on abortion. For my money, though, the funniest thing is that Mitt's guy in charge of conservative outreach is named Marx.
Finally, the U.N. approved an 8,000-strong African Union peacekeeping force for Somalia, a measure that allows the AU to deploy troops and relieve the Ethiopians that have been propping up the provisional government there. It remains to be seen if such a force will be enough to stop the spiraling violence in Somalia, but it demonstrates the renewed international attention being paid to that country after years of neglect. Let's hope they pull it off.
Gitmo, Romney, Somalia, Iraq, Iran, politics, midtopia