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Security politics


Vice President Cheney made unannounced stops in Pakistan and Afghanistan this morning.  The pool reporter notes that Cheney "looks pretty chipper, near the end of a week-long odyssey."  The New York Times front-pages that the White House is warning Pakistan's prime minister that the Democratic-controlled Congress could cut off funding to his country unless he becomes more aggressive in hunting down al Qaeda operatives. 

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice yesterday on ABC called Hill Democrats' efforts to narrow Bush's authority in Iraq "'the worst of micromanagement' that would intrude on the president's power as commander in chief to manage the war." 

Conservative columnist Bob Novak writes that very few Republican senators -- even those like Norm Coleman and Chuck Hagel, who backed the non-binding resolution opposing Bush's troop increase -- are now behind the move to repeal the 2002 war authorization.  "If Hagel is lost, Democrats might fall short of the 50 senators necessary for passage, much less the 60 senators necessary to close off debate.  Bush may be an unpopular president fighting an unpopular war, but Democrats are finding it hard to make war policy from Capitol Hill." 

Sen. Joe Lieberman (I), who recently suggested that the course of the Iraq war funding debate might prompt him to switch to the GOP, writes in a Wall Street Journal op-ed that Congress "faces a choice in the weeks and months ahead.  Will we allow our actions to be driven by the changing conditions on the ground in Iraq -- or by the unchanging political and ideological positions long ago staked out in Washington?"  He concludes, "Instead of undermining Gen. Petraeus before he has been in Iraq for even a month, let us give him and his troops the time and support they need to succeed." 

Although they're on opposite ends of the debate over a troop increase, GOP Sen. John Warner will endorse Sen. John McCain for president today, McCain's campaign just announced.  Roll Call reports, "In a brief interview, Warner, a former Armed Services chairman and one-time secretary of the Navy, cited his long personal history with McCain - as well as the importance of national security issues in the 2008 campaign - as the chief factors that led to his endorsement."  McCain "was released from captivity in 1973 while Warner was serving as Navy Secretary." 

Borrowing a straight-talk page from McCain, sort of, former Sen. John Edwards (D) said on CBS yesterday that there's no way to predict how a US troop withdrawal would affect the situation in Iraq and Iraqis.  "I have, I guess, enough faith in our people to think they can accept the truth."  McCain said in Iowa last week that he's not sure what would happen next if the troop increase doesn't work.

In a front-page article, the New York Times notes that although Sen. Barack Obama (D) was against the Iraq war in 2002, his plan to end it isn't all that different from his chief rivals for the nomination.  "Iraq remains a defining topic in the opening stages of the 2008 presidential race, but it may prove easier for Mr. Obama, Democrat of Illinois, to revisit the past than to distinguish his views in the future." 

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) repeated his call for a troop withdrawal and voiced support for a timetable yesterday.  The Los Angeles Times notes, "Schwarzenegger's position on what to do about an unpopular war has been rapidly evolving.  During a trade mission to Mexico in November, the governor espoused more of a stay-the-course approach...  But Schwarzenegger conceded Sunday that as someone who is still comparatively new to politics, he is apt to make mistakes." 

Angelina Jolie has been nominated to join the highbrow Council on Foreign Relations.  The CFR, whose members include Henry Kissinger and Alan Greenspan, "decided on Friday to accept the 32-year-old to be considered for a special five-year term designed to 'nurture the next generation of foreign policy makers.'"