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Jonathan Tobin: Defending the Right to a Jewish State

Heather Hale: Compliment your kids without giving them big heads

Megan Shauri: 10 ways you are ruining your own happiness

Carolyn Bigda: 8 Best Dividend Stocks for 2015

Kiplinger's Personal Finance editors: 7 Things You Didn't Know About Paying Off Student Loans

Samantha Olson: The Crucial Mistake 55% Of Parents Are Making At Their Baby's Bedtime

Densie Well, Ph.D., R.D. Open your eyes to yellow vegetables

The Kosher Gourmet by Megan Gordon With its colorful cache of purples and oranges and reds, COLLARD GREEN SLAW is a marvelous mood booster --- not to mention just downright delish
April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review

As U.S.-Iraqi troop talks faltered, Obama didn't pick up the phone

By Roy Gutman





JewishWorldReview.com |

iAGHDAD— (MCT) Throughout the summer and autumn, as talks on a continued U.S. military presence in Iraq foundered, President Barack Obama and his point man on Iraq, Vice President Joe Biden, remained aloof from the process, not even phoning top Iraqi officials to help reach a deal, according to logs released by the U.S. Embassy here.

The omission is an unusual one, given the high priority that U.S. officials had given to achieving an agreement for some sort of residual U.S. presence in Iraq after the Dec. 31 pullout deadline set in a 2008 pact between the two countries. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and other senior Pentagon officials spoke often about the need for an agreement in a pivotal country in a volatile region and insisted talks were continuing up until Friday, when Obama announced that all U.S. troops would be coming home before the end of December.

A listing of direct conversations provided by the embassy - drawn, the embassy said, from the White House website - indicates that Obama had no direct contact with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki between Feb. 13, when he telephoned the prime minister, until Friday, when he called al-Maliki to tell him U.S. troops would be withdrawn by Dec. 31.

Also absent for nearly the entire year was Biden. According to the official listing, Biden telephoned al-Maliki on Dec. 21, the day al-Maliki formed a new government, and visited here Jan. 18, but had no direct contact after that date, according to the official listing.

U.S. Embassy officials, asked in July whether Biden was coming to help secure the deal, which military officers said needed to be concluded by July 31 for planning purposes, said the vice president was too busy trying to end the donnybrook in Congress over raising the national debt ceiling to visit Iraq.

On Tuesday, a White House spokesman, Tommy Vietor, denied that Obama and Biden had not talked to al-Maliki during the negotiations. But he did not respond to a request for the dates of conversations between the president and al-Maliki.

"The VP talked to senior Iraqi leaders multiple times during that period of time," Vietor wrote in an email. "The president also engaged with Iraqi leaders. Your story is totally wrong."

Iraqi government spokesman Tahseen al Shaikhli said he could not explain the lack of contact between al-Maliki and top-level Americans.

"You'll have to ask (Obama) why he didn't intervene before this, or call before this," he said.


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Shaikhli said his government still hopes that an invitation that Obama extended for a meeting with al-Maliki in December might lead to an agreement between the two countries that would allow uniformed U.S. trainers to deploy to Iraq.

"Maybe when they sit together, they will solve most of the problems," he said, adding, "Or maybe they will complicate it more."

The issue of whether some U.S. troops might remain in Iraq after the Dec. 31 date, which was set by the so-called Status of Forces Agreement that the administration of President George W. Bush negotiated with the Iraqi government, had always been a complicated one - both for Iraqi officials and Obama, who promised as a presidential candidate in 2008 that he would bring U.S. troops home from Iraq.

Al-Maliki announced on May 11 that he would consult politicians at every level before deciding whether to ask the United States to keep troops here, and he said he hoped to reach a decision by July 31, the date set by the U.S. military. Iraqi officials soon were saying that the country was hoping that at least 10,000 to 15,000 troops would stay behind.

Iraqi political leaders, with the exception of followers of the militant Shiite Muslim cleric Muqtada al-Sadr and veteran politician Ahmed Chalabi, indicated that they would favor the continued presence of U.S. forces, but they were less certain about the U.S. demand to provide immunity from prosecution for troops serving here.

The top politicians, already gridlocked on other security issues, including who would serve as ministers of defense and the interior, were unable to agree at the initial sessions.

Panetta flew to Baghdad on July 11, his first trip since becoming defense secretary, but he didn't make any headway. "I'd like things to move a lot faster here, frankly," he told U.S. troops then. "Do you want us to stay, don't you want us to stay? Damn it, make a decision."

A major complication was the insistence by the Obama administration that the accord go before the Iraqi parliament, something that in the end Iraqi politicians decided was impossible. But whether that restriction was necessary is an open question. Many status-of-forces agreements are signed at the executive level only, particularly in countries without elected legislatures.

But the White House turned the issue over to the State Department's legal affairs office, reporters in Baghdad were told on Saturday. The lawyers gave a variety of options, but Obama chose the most stringent, approval by Iraq's legislature of a new agreement, citing as precedent that the Iraqi parliament had approved the 2008 agreement, reporters were told.

By mid-September, Iraqi government spokesmen had lowered their goal for a continued presence of U.S. military trainers to about 3,000. But they were also determined not to give in on the American demand for immunity for U.S. troops.

When the Iraqis announced that they had reached a decision Oct. 4 to request trainers, the figure was "more than 5,000," according to Iraqi President Jalal Talabani, who told reporters Oct. 10 that Iraqi was seeking a "yes or no" response from the Americans. He said there would be no grant of immunity to Americans who stayed behind, however, something the Pentagon had previously said would be required if any troops were to remain.

Whether an earlier Obama intervention would have changed the course of the talks is unknowable.

Shaikhli, the Iraqi spokesman, said his government still is hoping for an agreement that would provide American forces with "legal protection" rather than "immunity," meaning that the U.S. would retain jurisdiction if a soldier committed a crime against another soldier, but that Iraqi law would hold sway if the soldier were accused of injuring an Iraqi civilian.

Shaikhli said, however, that he didn't think such an agreement should be put before the Iraqi parliament.

"We have to wait until the negotiation is finished," he said, "and we should not jump to a conclusion."


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