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The Daily Wildcat

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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat



    Keep on Iraq-in’ me, Davey

    Gen. David Petraeus, the top American military commander in Iraq, delivered a long-awaited report to Congress this week about military progress in the war and the possibility of troop withdrawal and exit strategies. Petraeus said the conflict “”remains complex, difficult and sometimes downright frustrating,”” but that some progress has been made. He also provided a timetable for gradual withdrawal of American forces and delivered a harsh warning to legislators about the disastrous effects of leaving Iraq too rapidly.

    While the far-left has fallen over itself bashing General “”Betray-Us,”” members’ predisposed bias against any positive news out of Iraq ignores the fact that, in spite of almost endless political ineptness (in both Iraq and the U.S.), there have actually been some steps forward. These are largely the successes of “”bottom-up initiatives,”” through which small numbers of U.S. forces have collaborated with leaders in local regions on goals pertinent to them – micro-improvements, if you will. The most dramatic of these improvements has occurred in the Anbar Province in western Iraq, where local Sunni forces have turned against al-Qaeda (a Sunni-based group).

    This development in particular cannot be overstated. After all, this is what the War on Terror should be about – turning moderate Muslims against extremist terrorists. Even those calling for an end to the war should be optimistic about the report: Petraeus emphasizes that force reductions will continue until pre-surge levels are reached by July 2008, with the first reductions beginning this month. It is na’ve to pretend that all U.S. troops will return overnight; as military operations go, this surge is well on its way to as successful a conclusion as we could hope for.

    -Evan Lisull is a sophomore majoring in economics and political science.

    This much-heralded September surge report will hardly affect the polemic Iraq debate. All parties present received their desired sound bite: pro-war Bushites received optimistic military statistics while pull-out enthusiasts received dismal reports about diplomacy efforts. Considering half of the report was written by the White House, Gen. Petraeus was undoubtedly limited in what he could express.

    Nonetheless, Petraeus’ statistics on the surge are convincing. His numbers indicate that since the surge began five weeks ago, weekly attacks have declined by more than 41 percent. But debate on statistics constituted less than 15 minutes of the report. The senators clearly were not interested on the tactical success of Petraeus’ power rangers. The more pressing issue, and the one that consumed the vast majority of the two hearings, is whether the surge has effectively relieved pressure on Iraqi policymakers so they can focus on successful coalition-building.

    The resounding response was no. Political relations between Shia and Sunni factions in the Iraqi parliament continue to deteriorate, with the critical Sadrist bloc, which currently holds nearly 11 percent of parliament seats, now threatening to leave the United Iraqi Alliance. It is clear that Iraqi democracy has deeper problems than insurgency violence. Petraeus may have proved his acumen as a general, but as a nation-builder, the U.S. Army is as effective as the protestors in pink escorted out of the hearings.

    -Matt Rolland is a junior majoring in economics and international studies.

    Get publicity or die tryin’

    As part of an increasingly overwrought publicity feud, superstar rapper 50 Cent has pledged to stop recording solo albums if his new CD debuts lower than Kanye West’s on hip-hop charts. Both exhaustively promoted albums that went on sale yesterday, giving consumers an ostensible opportunity to settle the lamest rap rivalry ever.

    This is fantastic! I mean, what a week for the entertainment business! The only thing that could possibly beat a sedated Britney Spears stumbling around stage will be when a rapper is eliminated this week “”Survivor””-style. This is huge and ultimately moving for society and entertainment. Sure, we could just wait for time to pass and their careers to fizzle out. But how long will that take? Britney shaved her head and did a little “”why kids shouldn’t do drugs”” dance and she’s still hanging in there somehow.

    This system that Kanye and 50 have set up is priceless. Finally, a quick and painless way to get rid of bad artists: Just put together two popular, successful artists, get them mad enough that they threaten their careers and then throw in a country singer to knock them both out. Perfect.

    -Chelsea Jo Simpson is a junior majoring in journalism and Spanish.

    50 Cent’s hyping of this release date as a general election for the Supreme Ruler of Hip-Hop Nation is a feeble attempt to rescue a dying music genre. Contrary to the belief of the industry “”suits,”” record sales are diving due to the flood of inartistic, hackneyed and “”wack”” products – not the prevalence of free versions online.

    Hip-hop heads are wising up and becoming less likely to fork over $15 for lazy rhymes laced with tactless sexual innuendos and juvenile gun fetishism. “”Fiddy”” should have spent more time trying to provide his people with substantive lyrics and less time hyping. Who knows? Maybe he labored for hours crafting head-spinning gems like this one: “”I appear and disappear wit’ the heata’ like Houdini.”” I doubt it.

    50 Cent is the gluttonous tyrant of the rap world, betraying rap fans and the art of emceeing on his ascent to the throne. This election week, depose rap’s tyrant and elect a write-in candidate such as Common or Talib Kweli, genuine leaders in the art of hip-hop.

    -Eric Reichenbacher is a junior majoring in economics and international studies.

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