SCOTUS Punts on Abortion

Just posted at the New York Times, by the Associated Press:

The Supreme Court ruled unanimously Wednesday that a lower court was wrong to strike down New Hampshire abortion restrictions, steering clear of a major ruling on they placed an undue burden on women. …

… Justices said a lower court went too far by permanently blocking the law that requires a parent to be told before a daughter ends her pregnancy.

An appeals court must now reconsider the law, which requires that a parent be informed 48 hours before a minor child has an abortion but makes no exception for a medical emergency that threatens the youth’s health.

The opinion was written by Justice Sandra Day O’Connor. The AP points out this may be the last SCOTUS opinion she will write.

An appeals court must now reconsider the law, which requires that a parent be informed 48 hours before a minor child has an abortion but makes no exception for a medical emergency that threatens the youth’s health.

I’d like to read the decision before writing much about it. The AP story highlights the fact that the justices had been asked to decide if the Nebraska law had put an undue burden on young women seeking an abortion. Instead, the court punted the decision back to lower courts.

Update: Carnival of the Feminists at Feministe.

Update update:
Written decision here (PDF).

More Liberal Bias

Seems to me that if the dreaded “MSM” were really hellbent on making the Bush Administration look bad, this story would have been more widely reported in the U.S. press. Had I not spotted it in The Guardian (UK) today I might not have noticed it at all —

Julian Borger of The Guardian writes,

An official assessment drawn up by the US foreign aid agency depicts the security situation in Iraq as dire, amounting to a “social breakdown” in which criminals have “almost free rein”.

The “conflict assessment” is an attachment to an invitation to contractors to bid on a project rehabilitating Iraqi cities published earlier this month by the US Agency for International Development (USAid).

The picture it paints is not only darker than the optimistic accounts from the White House and the Pentagon, it also gives a more complex profile of the insurgency than the straightforward “rejectionists, Saddamists and terrorists” described by George Bush.

The USAid analysis talks of an “internecine conflict” involving religious, ethnic, criminal and tribal groups. “It is increasingly common for tribesmen to ‘turn in’ to the authorities enemies as insurgents – this as a form of tribal revenge,” the paper says, casting doubt on the efficacy of counter-insurgent sweeps by coalition and Iraqi forces.

Meanwhile, foreign jihadist groups are growing in strength, the report said.

The Guardian said this story was first reported in the Washington Post. Sure enough, it was — yesterday, buried on page A13. Walter Pincus wrote that the dire report was an annex to a request for contractors to bid on a $1.32 billion project to help stabilize Iraqi cities.

To prepare potential bidders for the task, USAID included an annex with the contractor application. It describes Iraq as being in the midst of an insurgency whose tactics “include creating chaos in Iraq society as a whole and fomenting civil war.” Many of the attacks are against coalition and Iraqi security forces, the annex says, and they “significantly damage the country’s infrastructure and cause a tide of adverse economic and social effects that ripple across Iraq.”

Is that supposed to encourage bidders?

Although President Bush and senior administration officials tend to see the enemy primarily as Saddam Hussein loyalists and foreign terrorists, the USAID analysis also places emphasis on “internecine conflict,” which includes “religious-sectarian, ethnic, tribal, criminal and politically based” violence.

The Sunni-vs.-Shiite violence goes back centuries. Today, the differences are being exploited on both sides as Sunni bombings of Shiite sites along with kidnappings and killings have been matched by Shiite retaliation and revenge killings of Sunnis.

“It is increasingly common for tribesmen to ‘turn in’ to the authorities enemies as insurgents, this as a form of tribal revenge,” the paper says.

The activities of religious extremists against secular Iraqis were also noted by USAID. The paper describes how in the southern part of Iraq, which is dominated by Shiites, “social liberties have been curtailed dramatically by roving bands of self-appointed religious-moral police.” In cities, women’s dress codes are enforced and barbers who remove facial hair have been killed, and liquor stores and clubs have been bombed.

Get this:

The USAID paper describes some findings that in the past were carried only in classified briefings, congressional sources said.

In other words, it’s not like the White House and Congress are utterly unaware of this. They just aren’t telling us. And neither is most of the “liberal” media.

Which leaves us with getting the truth from Riverbend, who posts today about Iraqi reconstruction, then and now.

In 1991, at the end of the Gulf War, southern Iraq was badly damaged.

What happened in the south in 1991 is similar to what happened in Baghdad in 2003- burning, looting and attacks. The area fell into chaos after the Republican Guard was pulled out to different governorates for the duration of the war. Meanwhile, the US was bombing the Iraqi army as it was pulling out of Kuwait and the Tawabin were killing off some of the Iraqi troops who had abandoned their tanks and artillery and were coming back on foot through the south. Many of those troops, and the civilians killed during the attacks, looting, and burning, were buried in some of the mass graves we conveniently blame solely on Saddam and the Republican Guard- but no one bothers to mention this anymore because it’s easier to blame the dictator.

But I digress- the topic today is reconstruction. Immediately after the war, various ministries were brought together to do the reconstruction work. The focus was on the infrastructure- to bring back the refineries, electricity, water, bridges, and telecommunications.

The task was a daunting one because so many of Iraq’s major infrastructure projects and buildings had been designed and built by foreign contractors from all over the world including French, German, Chinese and Japanese companies. The foreign expertise was unavailable after 1991 due to the war and embargo and Iraqi engineers and technicians found themselves facing the devastation of the Gulf War all alone with limited supplies.

Two years and approximately 8 billion Iraqi dinars later, nearly 90% of the damage had been repaired. It took an estimated 6,000 engineers (all Iraqi), 42,000 technicians, and 12,000 administrators, but bridges were soon up again, telephones were more or less functioning in most areas, refineries were working, water was running and electricity wasn’t back 100%, but it was certainly better than it is today. Within the first two years over 100 small and large bridges had been reconstructed, 16 refineries, over 50 factories and industrial compounds, etc.

It wasn’t perfect- it wasn’t Halliburton… It wasn’t KBR…but it was Iraqi. There was that sense of satisfaction and pride looking upon a building or bridge that was damaged during the war and seeing it up and running and looking better than it did before.

So how does the U.S. reconstruction measure up?

Now, nearly three years after this war, the buildings are still piles of debris. Electricity is terrible. Water is cut off for days at a time. Telephone lines come and go. Oil production isn’t even at pre-war levels… and Iraqis hear about the billions upon billions that come and go. A billion here for security… Five hundred million there for the infrastructure… Millions for voting… Iraq falling into deeper debt… Engineers without jobs simply because they are not a part of this political party or that religious group… And the country still in shambles.

Let’s skip back to Walter Pincus in WaPo.

Paul Pillar, the CIA’s former national intelligence officer for the Middle East and now a visiting professor at Georgetown University, said the analysis conveyed “the reality that the violence in Iraq is complex and multi-faceted.”

One weakness of the paper, Pillar said, is the underplaying of the “resentment of the foreign occupation.” He said there are Iraqi “nationalists” beyond just the Sunnis who resent the presence of U.S. and other foreign troops. “There is a valid basis for some of the pro-withdrawal arguments,” he said, referring to recent statements by Rep. John P. Murtha (D-Pa.).

Seems to me Riverbend makes a case for putting Iraqis in charge of Iraqi reconstruction, also, and then getting out of their way. However, given the mess the U.S. has made of nation-building, and the fact that the Iraqi government is still trying to get on its feet, one wonders if the Iraqis could bring the same focus to rebuilding infrastructure this time.

(Cross-posted to The American Street)

Update: See Jeanne at Body and Soul.