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Aug 21st, 2008


Sixth District Walking Tour — Phase 2 Kick-Off

After completing my 100-mile walking tour the length of the Sixth District from north to south last Saturday, I will undertake a second walking tour the breadth of the Sixth District from east to west down Highway 23 from Foley to Paynesville this Friday and Saturday, to introduce myself to residents and to get the word out about my candidacy in the Sept. 9 primary.

The event kicks off Friday, Aug. 22, at the Benton County Courts Facility (615 Highway 23) in Foley with a press conference, after which I will set out on foot to St. Cloud and Waite Park along Highway 23, a distance of 24 miles. On Saturday, Aug. 23, I will resume my walk down Highway 23 from Waite Park to Rockville, Cold Spring, Richmond, and Paynesville (30 miles), for a total of 54 miles.



‘No Victory Dances’

Gen. David Petraeus explains why vigilance is still needed in Iraq, and why Afghanistan in some ways is a bigger worry

By Rod Nordland
Newsweek Web Exclusive
Aug. 21, 2008


NEWSWEEK: I asked tribal sheiks there whether Al Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) could ever come back if Sunnis fail to reach a political settlement with Baghdad, and they all said, “No, we’re past Al Qaeda. We might start fighting the Americans again, but not with Al Qaeda.”

David Petraeus: I think it’s true that they are past Al Qaeda. They are past … an organization that embraces an extremist ideology, employs indiscriminate violence, and practices oppressive social actions such as forced marriage or cutting fingers off smokers.

Forget that, no smoking …

That was the tipping point when they cut the fingers off the first person who was smoking. I mean, can you imagine an Anbar sheik being told he can’t smoke? They’re not necessarily past what used to be called “resistance,” though, or something like that …

We’ve been burned before by being overly optimistic in this war.

We have, we have. And so we have to be very careful, and we are with respect to Anbar. We know [the insurgents are] trying to come back in …

In so many ways, it sounds like Al Qaeda in Iraq has been defeated, but the U.S. military is reluctant to say so.

You won’t find a single military leader in this theater who will say that.

You could be the first.

Yeah, I could, but I won’t be.

But at least can’t we say “strategically defeated”?

There’s no military leader who will but yeah, you can. We’ll leave that to the academics. … They continue to be … Public Enemy No. 1. Now, there have been periods where we focus more on the [Shia] militia, frankly. But after the very significant operations against the militia in Basra, Maydan, Sadr City, elsewhere in Baghdad and so forth, there was the militia ceasefire; there’s now the transformation of the militia by Moqtada al-Sadr into an organization that focuses on social services and cultural issues. …

Could there have been an Awakening without the surge

Well, there could have been an Awakening, but you couldn’t have exploited it … And by the way, in the course of our surge of 30,000, the Iraqis surged by over 130,000 actually, and climbing. The Sons of Iraq [armed Sunni neighborhood volunteers], the Awakening, that’s another 99,000 now. …

Beyond that, I think there was an intellectual construct. You know, it wasn’t just “the surge.” It wasn’t just extra forces. It was the kind of conceptual guidance that was put out at the same time that we employed the additional forces … starting with a focus on securing the population, which can only be done by living among them.

[Another] intellectual construct was … an explicit idea that we have to identify and separate the irreconcilables from the reconcilables, but that you’re not going to kill your way out of an insurgency …

Will there be an Afghan surge?

Again, it would be premature. As [Defense Secretary Robert] Gates and others have all noted, there’s clearly a need for additional forces, given the pressure the insurgents have exerted in this year in particular. …

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