- The Washington Times - Monday, March 6, 2006

Murtha’s stance

The U.S. presence in Iraq is hurting the worldwide war on terrorism and benefits only Iran and al Qaeda, Rep. John P. Murtha said yesterday.

“The only people who want us in Iraq are Iran and al Qaeda,” the Pennsylvania Democrat said on CBS’ “Face the Nation.” “And I talked to a top-level commander the other day, and he said China wants us there also. Why? Because we’re depleting our resources … our troop resources and our fiscal resources.

“The war on terrorism is worldwide. In Iraq, it’s a civil war,” Mr. Murtha said.

Mr. Murtha, who in November called for the immediate withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq, said it was useless for the United States to advise Iraqis, Reuters news agency reports.

“One of the problems I see and frustrating things is our ambassador keeps giving advice to the Iraqis,” Mr. Murtha said. “Every time we give the Iraqis advice, they vote for someone else. … The Iraqis don’t pay attention to our advice.”

The U.S. role in fighting terrorism around the world is being subverted by Iraq, said Mr. Murtha, who characterized the sectarian strife between Iraq’s Sunni and Shi’ite Muslims as a civil war that must be settled internally.

Flying alone

“If you’re a Republican who wants to be president, the place to be this weekend is Memphis’ Peabody Hotel, with its parading ducks — and politicians,” Howard Fineman writes in Newsweek.

“Unless, of course, you’re [former New York Mayor] Rudy Giuliani. In that case, you skip the Southern Republican Leadership Conference even if — or, rather, especially because — it’s the unofficial launch of the GOP’s 2008 presidential cycle. Let lesser birds flock there; ‘America’s mayor’ will be traveling on business.

“For a man with near-total name ID, a 9/11 hero’s aura — and, most valuable in these post-Katrina days, a reputation for administrative competence — it’s best to fly alluringly alone for now,” Mr. Fineman said.

Gingrich ready

“Wildly irresponsible governance in Washington. Incipient civil war in Iraq. I know what you’re thinking: What this country needs right now is … Newt Gingrich,” Jonathan Chait writes in the Los Angeles Times.

“OK, maybe you’re not thinking that. But you know who is? Newt Gingrich,” Mr. Chait said, referring to the former House speaker, a Georgia Republican.

“One of the rules of presidential politics is that the higher profile a prospective candidate has, the more coy he can be about his intentions to run. So, at the top of the spectrum you have, say, Hillary Clinton, who because of her lofty status can resolutely deny any intention to run and still leave everybody believing that she intends to do it anyway.

“At the bottom end of the spectrum you have washed-up, semi-employed pols like Gingrich. Few people think Gingrich ought to or will run, so he’s forced to show a lot of leg. Gingrich has been telling anyone who will listen that he plans to decide next summer, and he has splashed the resulting headlines — i.e., ‘Gingrich’s Words Sound Like Those of a Presidential Candidate’ — on his Web site.

“(Gingrich’s Web site also features a section titled, ‘Bring Newt to Your Event.’ Why didn’t I discover this before my daughter’s birthday party?)” Mr. Chait wrote.

Apologetic churchmen

American church officials pleaded for forgiveness last month “for the sins of the United States — from the Iraq War, to Bush’s rejection of the Kyoto Accord, to the racism exposed by Hurricane Katrina, to economic exploitation, and for the more general American sin of idolatry,” Mark D. Tooley writes at www.weeklystandard.com.

“The clerics were representing 34 Protestant and Orthodox denominations in America at the Assembly of the World Council of Churches (WCC) meeting in Porto Alegre, Brazil,” Mr. Tooley said.

“‘Our leaders turned a deaf ear to the voices of church leaders throughout our nation and the world, entering into imperial projects that seek to dominate and control for the sake of our own national interests,’ lamented the apologetic Americans. ‘Nations have been demonized, and God has been enlisted in national agendas that are nothing short of idolatrous.’

“The Geneva-based WCC, which includes 340 churches totaling 550 million members, has been governed by leftists for decades. About 25 percent of the world’s Christians belong to Protestant or Orthodox communions in the WCC. Thanks largely to leadership by leftist Europeans, the WCC long ago abandoned traditional Christian notions of ecumenism and evangelism in favor of radical liberation theologies that demonized the West, capitalism, and even Christianity. (Perhaps most famously, the WCC grudgingly refused to criticize the Soviet bloc during the final decades of the Cold War, while supporting and sometimes actually funding Soviet-backed insurgencies.)

“But the WCC’s core constituency and primary donors are the waning European Protestant churches. Christians from the Global South, whose ‘liberation’ the WCC advocates, tend to be more interested in the traditional faith than in the WCC’s political causes. Maybe this growing dichotomy between the WCC staff and their constituency explains why delegates in attendance responded unenthusiastically to the self-abasement of the U.S. clerics.”

Kerry’s strategy

“The February political footnotes included this little item: Sen.John Kerry in less than 24 hours last week raised $250,000 in an e-mail to his fans for three Democratic Iraq war vets running for Congress,” Paul Bedard writes in the Washington Whispers column of U.S. News & World Report.

“But Kerry’s effort wasn’t a fire-and-forget for his comrades. Insiders say Kerry and his war pals Max Cleland, former Georgia senator, and fellow ex-Swift boat skipper Wade Sanders have hatched plans to help some 70 Democratic Iraq war vets win office,” Mr. Bedard said.

“Over a Georgetown dinner this month, the trio reminisced about Vietnam and how, as young men, Kerry and Cleland returned to run for office. They recalled how the Nixon White House tried to divide vets between those who supported the president and those who didn’t, and they vowed to stop that from happening to Iraq war vets.

“‘Blood is thicker than water,’ we hear Kerry said. ‘Karl Rove’s gonna come after these kids hard. It’s Richard Nixon all over again. We’re gonna make sure these vets have the ammunition to shoot back.’ Their plan: Raise $500,000 for a ‘Fight Back Fund,’ campaign for candidates, and even endorse vets in primary races — a rarity.

“GOP spokeswoman Tracey Schmitt, however, warned vets away from Kerry, who in the 2004 election got tangled up in his conflicting positions on the Iraq war. She urged them to avoid ‘a senator who has a proven record of playing politics with national security.’”

Greg Pierce can be reached at 202/636-3285 or gpierce@washingtontimes.com.

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