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Massive truck bombs in Baghdad last week dramatized sectarian differences, even as Prime Minister al-Maliki claimed to have security well in hand. Will political instability lead to civil war?  Will Iran extend its influence in Iraqi affairs? Should the US continue its troop withdrawal? Also, the legacy of "Liberal Lion" Ted Kennedy, who died of cancer last night at the age of 77.

Banner image: Iraqi men inspect damaged vehicles still strewn on a street, four days after a truck bombing outside the foreign ministry building in central Baghdad on August 23. Photo: Ahmad Al-Rubaye/AFP/Getty Images

Making News Democrats Lose a Big Presence in the Senate 7 MIN, 33 SEC

kennedy.jpgThe so-called “Liberal Lion” of the US Senate, Democrat Edward Kennedy of Massachusetts, succumbed to brain cancer last night at the age of 77. Speaking today from Chilmark, Massachusetts, President Obama interrupted his vacation to mourn the loss of "one of the greatest senators of our time." Jennifer Duffy is senior editor and analyst for the Cook Political Report.

Jennifer Duffy, Cook Political Report (@jennifereduffy)

Main Topic Bombs and Politics in Iraq 35 MIN, 20 SEC

hakim.jpgLast week two massive truck bombs killed 100 people in downtown Baghdad and wounded 1000 more, a serious blow to Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. He'd been dismantling blast walls and claiming that Iraqi forces could maintain security now that US troops have pulled out of the cities. The death of rival leader Abdul Aziz Hakim, who today succumbed to cancer, has increased political uncertainty. In the aftermath of the US invasion, Hakim gained enough power to be a visitor at the Bush White House, but also had close ties with Iran. Is the time ripe for another Sunni insurgency? Will the Kurds start a civil war? Iran and the US are competing for influence in Iraq. Will American troops be dragged back in or are US interests best served by continuing to withdraw?

Rod Nordland, New York Times (@rodnordland)
David Ignatius, Washington Post / Harvard's Kennedy School of Government (@IgnatiusPost)
Juan Cole, University of Michigan (@jricole)
Peter Galbraith, gubernatorial candidate and former diplomat (@GalbraithforVT)

The End of Iraq

Peter Galbraith

Reporter's Notebook Kennedy's Death Marks End of an Era in American Politics 7 MIN, 30 SEC

kennedy-rx.jpgJames Sterling Young, director of the Kennedy Oral History Project at the University of Virginia, says, “Most people grow up and go into politics. The Kennedys go into politics and then they grow up.” Fitting words for Edward Kennedy, who died last night of brain cancer at the age of 77. Kennedy served in the US Senate longer than any one else except Robert Byrd of West Virginia and Strom Thurmond of South Carolina.  When he first took office, expectations were not so high. Richard Reeves, Senior Lecturer at USC’s Annenberg School of Communications, is author of President Kennedy: Profile of Power.

Richard Reeves, USC Annenberg School for Communication

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