Ive been slaving over


I’ve been slaving over a book review this weekend. So there hasn’t been time for too many posts. But take a look at a few of the recent updates on Middle East expert Juan Cole’s always informative website, particularly his running commentary on American attempts to arrange for foreign troops and aid.

India now apparently categorically rules out sending her troops to Iraq, UN resolution or no UN resolution. Unless of course we put some very high-end weapons on the table to sweeten the deal, in which case maybe they’ll play ball.

Cole also notes an apparent, emerging US strategy of trying to isolate the French on the Security Council by cutting the Russians back in on some of the lucrative business contracts they had with the old Iraqi regime.

The idea seems to be that the French want substantive political concessions, whereas the Russians might be bought off with economic favors — namely, getting back some of what went down the drain with Saddam.

The whole thing’s enough to make your head spin. And if it does, yours will be like a lot of heads at the White House after they saw the string of polls that came out over the last few days — each of which seems to show a rapid drop in the number of Americans who think the White House has a plan for dealing with Iraq. See this poll run-down in Newsweek, this one in the Post, this one from CNN/Time, and this one from CNN/USATODAY.