Tuesday, September 16, 2008

20 Months in Baghdad

By David Ignatius
Wednesday, September 17, 2008; Page A19

BAGHDAD -- The night before Gen. David Petraeus turned over command here, a group of senior officers gathered at Camp Victory to say goodbye. It was like a football team's testimonial dinner at the end of a winning season: There were steaks and baked potatoes and a highlight film of the general's 20-month command, scored with rock music, called "Surge of Hope."

The signature line of the video was a statement Petraeus made to Congress when he began what seemed to many people like mission impossible: "Hard is not hopeless." That was his closing comment, too, as he relinquished command in an elaborate ceremony yesterday at the gilded Al Faw Palace. But now, he said, Iraq was "still hard but hopeful."

Petraeus did something astonishing here. It wasn't simply managing the "surge" of U.S. troops, whose precise effects military historians will be debating for years. It was that he restored confidence and purpose for a military that had begun to think, deep down, that this war was unwinnable and unsustainable.

By force of will, Petraeus and his president, George W. Bush, turned that around. They didn't win in Iraq, but they created the possibility of an honorable exit.

Petraeus still doesn't have an answer to the haunting question he asked in March 2003 as the war was beginning: "Tell me how this ends." The ending almost certainly will be ragged; Iraq's political institutions are still fragile and in some cases nonexistent; the country could still be sundered by a Sunni-Shiite civil war. But Iraq now has at least a chance to make it.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates put it eloquently yesterday when he said of Petraeus, paraphrasing Gen. Douglas MacArthur: "You have built courage when courage seemed to fail; regained faith when there seemed to be little cause for faith; and created hope when hope had become forlorn."

Petraeus was the most political of generals, though not in the MacArthur man-on-horseback sense. He understood that part of his job was to communicate with the public -- through the media, through Congress, through his picture-perfect military demeanor. This zest for the public eye sometimes nearly derailed Petraeus; he was so assiduous in cultivating the media that reporters wondered how early he must rise to answer all his journalistic e-mail; his own aides muttered about how frequently the boss changed uniforms so that he would always look sharp.

But this media-savvy commander was precisely what the Iraq war needed in the age of 24/7 coverage. With President Bush largely discredited, Petraeus became the public face of the war. He was a political officer to an extent we rarely see in the American military, and through his quiet demeanor, he made it work.

Though Petraeus will go down as the "surge" commander, there's a lively debate within the military about just what accomplished the turnaround. Was it numbers -- the five additional combat brigades? Was it the new counterinsurgency tactics Petraeus instilled among his troops? Or was it the brutally efficient new intelligence tools used by U.S. Special Operations forces to hunt and kill members of al-Qaeda in Iraq?

The answer, surely, is that it was a combination of all of the above. But the virtuous cycle that developed in Iraq would have been impossible without the signal of American resolve that President Bush sent in backing Petraeus and his strategy. Iraq was hurtling toward civil war in 2006 in part because Iraqis thought we were about to bail out; Petraeus and the surge changed that psychology.

Will it last? That's hard to answer, even for Petraeus. All the forces that were tearing the Iraqi nation apart are still there; Sunnis, Shiites and Kurds are not yet reconciled to the idea of sharing power in a democratic state.

What's clear, though, even in a brief visit here, are signs that the Iraqi nation is regaining its sense of sovereignty: You see it in the new swagger of Iraqi generals such as Lt. Gen. Aboud Qanbar, the commander of Baghdad, a beefy man in a red beret and gaudy camouflage uniform; in the in-your-face bargaining by Iraqi politicians over the status-of-forces agreement with the United States; in the political dance of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, who goes from a meeting with Gates to an iftar dinner with followers of former insurgent Moqtada al-Sadr.

Iraq is still a bruised country. It will bleed for years. But the very fact that it is still a country at all is a tribute to a remarkable American general and his insistence that "hard is not hopeless."

Thursday, August 21, 2008

How to Access the Preset Radio Stations of Your SanDisk Sansa

Accessing preset radio stations will save time when you want to listen to the radio using your SanDisk Sansa. You'll be able to locate stations you enjoy most without having to scroll through all the available stations. Follow these steps to find out how.

Articles resource

Start "Radio" from the main menu.

Go to the sub-menu.

Go to "Radio Options."

Select "View All Presets."

Select the "Preset" you want to listen to.

Find Real Lovers

Friday, August 15, 2008

How to Buy Cbeyond VoIP

Cbeyond is a telecom company that mainly caters to the needs of small businesses. Cbeyond offers customized VoIP packages with some unique customer support and purchasing their service is easy.


Evaluate your VoIP needs. Before buying a Cbeyond VoIP service, you should make a clear assessment of your present and future needs. If you are a small business company, Cbeyond may just work perfectly for you.

Visit the official Cbeyond website. Learn about features and services offered. Check new offers and promotions.

Click on the Schedule a Visit link on the homepage of the website. Fill in the form and a sales agent of the company will contact you to learn more about your needs. The agent would give you a customized service plan and rates. You can also call the toll free number 1-866-424-554 to learn more about Cbeyond services.

Explore the Cbeyond for Your Business service on the website. It gives you a clear assessment on what plan fits you perfectly with given employee size, internet connection and existing phone lines. For example, for a company size of 4-30 employees Beyond Voice 1 package is recommended.

Consider adding VoIP phone lines within a package. For example, you can purchase up to 15 landlines in Beyond Voice Package 1, 24 in Beyond Voice 2 and up to 48 lines in Beyond Voice 3 plans. Evaluate your options carefully.

Consider using mobile VoIP phone lines for convenient access. Ask the company representative about VoIP roaming.

Send an email to Cbeyond sales staff for specific query on inside.sales@Cbeyond.net.

Find and buy tickets by category

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

How to Buy Blank CDs

Blank CDs cost anywhere from 10 cents to more than $1 apiece. The kind you buy depends on your equipment and what you want to do.

Find and buy tickets by category

Check your computer manual to see if your CD burner is a CD-R (recordable) or a CD-RW (rewritable). Recordable discs can be used only once, but rewritable discs can be used over and over.

Keep in mind that blank CD-Rs will work in a CD-RW burner, but CD-RWs won't work in a CD-R burner.

Buy blank CDs with gold-tone on the bottom to record archival material, such as family photographs or financial records.

Get less-expensive green-toned CDs if you're making everyday copies of documents, photos, and music.

Buy CD-Rs (not CD-RWs) if you're recording music to be played on a portable or car stereo. Choose blank CDs labeled "Music," "Digital Audio" or "DA" if your CD burner is part of your system.

Find Real Lovers

Monday, August 11, 2008

How to Buy A High-End Plasma TV

If you are in the market for a high-end television, you have to consider getting a plasma HDTV. Some of the best televisions out are Pioneer and Panasonic. If you watch sports, an HDTV is a must. Do your research. Finding the TV that best fits your need can be tough. I have found that you get what you pay for. A more affordable plasma may mean sacrificing quality or even life of the screen.

Decide how big of a screen you can fit into your viewing area. The size of the set can generally be measured by the diagonal measure of the screen.

Go to a site that has good information of Plasma TVs, like http://www.plasmatvbuyingguide.com. Read some reviews and decide for yourself which one best suits your needs.

Once you've found the Plasma that best fits your needs, find a retailer that is reputed in your city as being the best. In the Puget Sound area, I got mine at http://www.magnoliaav.com. The service was great and the associates were knowledgable.

Look at three different televisions. You will notice a difference in each one. Try to get one that has a good screen, such as the Pioneer models. I suggest the Elite line. They have a honeycomb architecture and the picture quality is excellent.

Make sure that the set has all of the connection types that you need. A good set will have HDMI, Component and S-Video.

Pay for setup and installation. For a small fee, they will deliver the set and install it for you. There is no need to haul something that you've paid so much for.