Saturday, August 30, 2014

Eugene Robinson finds his voice

I used to agree with the Washington Post's Eugene Robinson a lot.  During the Bully Boy Bush years, he was a hard hitting columnist who pulled no punches.

Then came the ascension of Barack and Robinson's been a near constant embarrassment.

It got to the point where I finally gave up about a year and a half ago, even thinking he might find a way to reroute himself back to a columnist worth reading.

But my friend Maggie continued to have hope and she sent me his latest "Have We Gone To War Again?" which offers:

I’d like to know whether the United States is at war with the Islamic State. I’d like to know why — or why not. I’d like to know whether the goal of U.S. policy is to contain the jihadist militia or destroy it.
President Obama? Members of Congress? Please pay attention. I’m talking to you.


It's good to see there is something that matters to him enough to abandon blind devotion to a Democratic party president.

I'd like to see this as a beginning of  a needed change but I'm not all that hopeful these days.


Closing with C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"


Saturday, August 30th, 2014.  Chaos and violence continue, serious questions should be raised about Barack's recent speech and statements, is Barack raising IS' profile, and much more.


We'll start with this Tweet.






Iraq -- US F-18 fighter jet refuels from a U.S. Air Force KC-135 Stratotanker aircraft over northern Iraq 





Thursday, the State Dept's Brett McGurk Tweeted, "Today in #Iraq, US air strikes against #ISIS terrorists destroyed four armed vehicles, a humvee, tank, construction vehicle, & checkpoint."  AP notes this was the 106th US bombing in Iraq since August 8th.

Cedric and Wally emphasized the financial cost on Friday noting that a cost of $7.5 million a day means at least $555 million through Friday which would be over a half-billion dollars.

That's not coming out of US President Barack Obama's pocket, the US tax payer is footing the bill.

It's a bill that continues to grow.

The US taxpayer didn't authorize the bill and certainly wasn't consulted about putting more money on the tab.
They're not even informed what the plan is because there is no plan.  Karen DeYoung (Washington Post) reports:

Amid conflicting congressional demands, impatient Arab allies, and public concern that he will do too much or too little, President Obama made bluntly clear Thursday why he has not yet implemented a comprehensive U.S. response to the Islamist insurgency that is rapidly spreading across the Middle East.
“We don’t have a strategy yet,” Obama said, in response to questions about when he is prepared to begin military action in Syria, and, if not, why not?

White House spokesperson Josh Earnest has made the media rounds insisting that Iraq is not without a strategy, just Syria.

That's spin, not truth.

The White House continues to link Syria and Iraq so, if they have no plan for Syria, then they have no plan for Iraq.

The White House presents the Islamic State as darting back and forth between Syria and Iraq -- which share a border -- and doing damage in both countries as part of a larger, coherent plan to implement a fundamentalist state.

Is that correct?

Who knows.  They've never backed it up.

Asked why what is taking place is taking place, from the State Dept to the White House, they can't provide concrete answers.  They can talk 'barbaric' and other rhetoric.  They can assert that the entire Middle East is at risk and, more recently, that the US mainland is at risk.

It's a cute little fear fantasy.

It dissolves a bit if you apply common sense to it.

Syria and Iraq share a border.

Syria also shares a border with Turkey.

Is the Islamic State somehow intimidated by Turkey?

Or by Israel or Jordan?

Syria borders Iraq, Turkey, Israel and Jordan.

And just off the coast of Syria, to its west, you have the Republic of Cyprus.

If you were a terrorist group intent on taking territory -- which really seems more like the goal of a group of invaders (and historically we've not referred to such groups as terrorists) -- wouldn't Cyprus be your first target?

It's small.  It's an island -- meaning you could monitor incoming and outgoing traffic much easier than with landlocked countries.

It's a bit of a resort island which, for most people, would say 'soft target' -- especially when contrasted with a large country.

Syria's not responsible for Iraq but the US government has wanted war with the Syrian government for some time.  They wanted it under Bully Boy Bush -- remember the diplomatic tiffs -- and they want it under Barack.


A connection that Syria and Iraq do have -- that can be established factually -- is that Sunnis and Shi'ites are going into both countries to fight.  In both countries -- and this is what has given IS its power -- Sunnis feel persecuted.

You can argue whether they are or not.

That's really pointless.

The perception is they are being persecuted.

That perception is strong and growing.

Friday the 22nd saw an attack that the White House and State Dept handled poorly in terms of perception.  The White House has worked since to improve their communication skills and tools. They did a better job this week.

I will give them credit for it.

I'll note that they are addressing this internally.

I'll also point out that the press has been no where on this story.

They've been out to lunch on pretty much everything.

Currently, Barack is being consistently slammed by one country repeatedly for his Middle East actions.

And the slams getting plenty of attention.

Why?

Because Barack was an idiot in 2013.

We said here that Barack needed to cool the rhetoric.  We said he was using the office of the presidency to elevate Vladimir Putin.

He was and he did.

That wasn't his intent.

Putin went from fading world stage player to Barack's rival and, yes, equal.

No one wanted to face that -- or maybe they wanted more conflict?  Certainly some long for a return of the Cold War.

Barack's making -- repeatedly -- the same mistake now with regards to the Islamic State.

As defined by the White House, we're talking about a minor group of crooks.

So why is the US President obsessing publicly?  Why are the White House and the State Dept yacking non-stop?

They're elevating IS daily.

That may be part of an attempt to scare the American public into supporting attacks.  Or it may just be stupidity.

Unless someone was wanting a return of Cold War tensions -- and a number of people do want that -- it's obvious that Barack's 2013 actions were a mistake.  That's why we called them out when they were happening.

Unless the point is to use fear the way Bully Boy Bush did, to elevate IS to the point that the entire world trembles, Barack is making another huge mistake.


Let's move back to fighter jets bombing Iraq -- US fighter jets.

But it's not war, US President Barack Obama insists.

Zeke J. Miller (Time magazine) notes of Barack's Thursday speech on Iraq and the brief questions and answers that followed:

The President defended his decision not to seek authorization from Congress before beginning strikes on ISIS targets in Iraq three weeks ago, saying the urgency of the threat to the U.S. consulate in Erbil required immediate action. “I can’t afford to wait in order to make sure that those folks are protected,” Obama said. Since Aug. 8, the military has conducted 106 air strikes in Iraq, according to U.S. Central Command.


This week, Leon Wieseltier had an article published.  It's an article wanting war on Iraq.  So, of course, it's published by The New Republic.   Wieseltier skewers some of the 'facts' offered by Barack and the administration -- 'facts' the pres has run with.  Here's an excerpt:



His announcement of the authorization for the air drops and the air strikes was so riddled with qualifications and circumscriptions, so casuistic, so replete with assurances about his own lack of enthusiasm for his course of action, that it sounded almost like an apology for what he was authorizing. He intended to engage the effects, not the causes. The important thing was that this act of humanitarian intervention not be mistaken for an act of humanitarian intervention. Rand Paul and the liberals were to be given no occasion for panic.
But the president’s actions have already exceeded the president’s reasons. Most of the American air strikes in northern Iraq have had the proper objective of protecting the dam. Is this because Americans might get wet if the dam were exploded?

While it's good to see the nonsense offered for bombing Mosul mocked, it's also true that Barack's claims have other implications.

Reality, Barack failed in Benghazi.

The attack on US facilities on September 11, 2012 (resulting in the deaths of Glen Doherty, Tyrone Woods, Sean Smith and Ambassador Chris Stevens) were a failure on Barack's watch and a failure for Barack.

(They may or may not have been more than a failure, for the purpose of the point that follows, we're not pondering that.)

As a result of that failure and all the fallout that has followed, Barack needs to be cautious.  He owes it to the diplomatic service (whose interests the press has never really given a damn about when covering Benghazi) and he owes it to the American public.

He knows that and may have overreacted out of caution and a desire to prevent loss of lives.

The bombing of Mosul on the pretext that a damn could fall apart and flood the US Embassy in Baghdad is a joke.  It's one the press treated seriously for far too long.

But was the spin on that, from Barack and the administration, about concern -- or sole concern -- over protecting US personnel?

For years, just war theory was in play.  Bully Boy Bush appeared to do away with that concept when he started the illegal war on Iraq.

Suddenly, he proposed a notion that you could declare war not because you had been attacked but because you might be attacked -- by mythical WMD -- at some point in the future.  Barack appears to have run with that notion -- one with no legal backing or support.


From Thursday's Iraq speech by Barack:

Zeke Miller:  Thank you, Mr. President.  Last year, you said that you believe our democracy is stronger when the President acts with the support of Congress.  In response to Chuck’s question you said you don’t have a strategy yet, but you’ll reconsider that going forward.  But why didn’t you go to Congress before this current round of strikes in Iraq?  Do you not believe that that’s the case anymore, what you said last year?  And throughout your career you’ve also said that -- you raised concerns with the expansion of powers of the executive.  Are you concerned that your recent actions, unilaterally, had maybe -- have cut against that?


THE PRESIDENT:  No.  And here’s why:  It is not just part of my responsibility, but it is a sacred duty for me as Commander-in-Chief to protect the American people.  And that requires me to act fast, based on information I receive, if an embassy of ours or a consulate of ours is being threatened.  The decisions I made were based on very concrete assessments about the possibility that Erbil might be overrun in the Kurdish region and that our consulate could be in danger.  And I can’t afford to wait in order to make sure that those folks are protected.



At least he didn't use the lie about Baghdad being flooded.  (When we called it out here, FYI, we did so because two engineers raised the issue to me.  I wouldn't have thought to question it had it not been pointed out to me how ridiculous it was and how the claim was backed up not by engineers or an engineering study but by the words of a general -- who would leave office in disgrace -- and an ambassador.)


But this is another example of Barack building on questionable (I would say "illegal") activities of Bully Boy Bush and this 'building on' has serious consequences.

These actions can become legal by custom.

They need to be objected to.

But Barack's not just taken Bully Boy Bush's plan, he's expanded upon it.

Bully Boy Bush argued that a war was necessary because the country in question (Iraq) might someday hurt the US mainland.  Barack is arguing that this 'maybe' can be expanded beyond the country's national borders.  Now acts of war can be carried out for a 'maybe' that might be an attack on a US consulate.

Since the US government has diplomatic embassies and consulates in pretty much every country, what Barack's maintaining has huge implications and serious consequences.

It would be great if maybe, just for a few minutes, we could address that.













 

Friday, August 29, 2014

Bruce The Fool Springsteen

Or maybe he wants it for cash.

He's turning a song -- "Out law Pete" -- into a children's book.

Didn't realize he was that hard up for cash.

Or that the children's market was that hard up for authors.




Closing with C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"


Thursday, August 28, 2014.  Chaos and violence continue, Barack speaks about Iraq, we note Chris Hill's continued stupidity as he continues to lie about Iraq, over 800 civilians in Falluja have been killed from Nouri al-Maliki's bombings, and much more.


Today on a KPFA newsbreak, Mark Mericle noted:

Oakland Congresswoman Barbara Lee is one of three lawmakers who have sent a letter to Republican House Speaker John Boehner calling for a debate and a vote on an authorization for the use of military force in Iraq when the House of Representatives returns on September 8th.  In a statement, Lee says that it's clear that the current US mission in Iraq is extended beyond the limited, specific and targeted scope of preventing genocide and ensuring the security of US personnel there.  Lee said the president must seek Congressional authorization before the situation escalates further. She was joined by Democrat Jim McGovern and Republican Walter Jones.  The three were the principle co-sponsers of a resolution that overwhelming passed the House with 370 votes.  It said the president should not deploy or maintain United States armed forces in a sustained combat role in Iraq without the specific authorization from Congress.

Time's Jay Newton-Small explains:


There are some in Congress who are calling on Obama to push through a War Powers Resolution. Article II of the Constitution grants the President the power to defend the country. But Article I gives only Congress the power to declare war. So, what in a post-war-on-terrorism era constitutes an actual war? In 1973, afraid of Vietnam mission creep, Congress passed the War Powers Act, which requires the President to consult Congress 60 days after engaging in hostilities. If you count bombing a foreign country as hostile — as the U.S. did against militants in northern Iraq on Aug. 7 — then the 60 days expires Oct. 7.
Theoretically, if Congress cares about not further weakening its oversight of the President’s ability to bomb whatever country he pleases, lawmakers will move to pass a War Powers Resolution in the next month. Presidents, including Obama, have argued that the War Powers Act is unconstitutional. But a turf fight over who gets to go to war is the last thing on Congress’ mind weeks before the midterm elections.


Meanwhile, US President Barack Obama insisted today that "throughout this process, we've consulted closely with Congress, and the feedback I've gotten from Congress is, is that we're doing the right thing."

He was speaking this afternoon at the White House -- in the suit that gave Cedric and Wally pause.


US President Barack Obama:  Second, in Iraq, our dedicated pilots and crews continue to carry out the targeted strikes that I authorized to protect Americans there and to address the humanitarian situation on the ground.  As Commander-in-Chief, I will always do what is necessary to protect the American people and defend against evolving threats to our homeland.  Because of our strikes, the terrorists of ISIL are losing arms and equipment.  In some areas, Iraqi government and Kurdish forces have begun to push them back.  And we continue to be proud and grateful to our extraordinary personnel serving in this mission.   Now, ISIL poses an immediate threat to the people of Iraq and to people throughout the region.  And that’s why our military action in Iraq has to be part of a broader, comprehensive strategy to protect our people and to support our partners who are taking the fight to ISIL.  And that starts with Iraq’s leaders building on the progress that they've made so far and forming an inclusive government that will unite their country and strengthen their security forces to confront ISIL.  Any successful strategy, though, also needs strong regional partners.  I'm encouraged so far that countries in the region -- countries that don't always agree on many things -- increasingly recognize the primacy of the threat that ISIL poses to all of them.  And I've asked Secretary Kerry to travel to the region to continue to build the coalition that’s needed to meet this threat.  As I've said, rooting out a cancer like ISIL will not be quick or easy, but I'm confident that we can -- and we will -- working closely with our allies and our partners.  For our part, I've directed Secretary Hagel and our Joint Chiefs of Staff to prepare a range of options.  I'll be meeting with my National Security Council again this evening as we continue to develop that strategy.  And I've been consulting with members of Congress and I’ll continue to do so in the days ahead.


Barack was several minutes late for the appearance which is strange until you realize he was supposed to begin speaking at four but had been scheduled to meet, also at four, with US Vice President Joe Biden and the National Security Council.  Barack is said to have met for four minutes ahead of the meeting.  A quick four minutes.  And, as he noted in his remarks, he was meeting with them later that evening as well.

"Them" was identified in this White House press release:

Readout of the President’s Meeting with the National Security Council on Iraq and ISIL

This afternoon the President met with his National Security Council to discuss the situation in Iraq, our ongoing efforts to support the Iraqi government, and our comprehensive strategy to counter the threat posed by ISIL in Iraq and Syria.  The President will continue to consult with his national security team in the days to come.  
 Participants in today’s meeting included:
The Vice President (via secure video)
Secretary of State John Kerry (via secure video)
Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel (via secure video)
Attorney General Eric Holder
Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson (via secure video)
White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough
National Security Advisor Susan Rice
U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations Samantha Power (via secure video)
White House Counsel Neil Eggleston
Director of National Intelligence James Clapper
Director of the Central Intelligence Agency John Brennan
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Martin Dempsey (via secure video)
Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff James Winnefeld
Director of the National Counterterrorism Center Matthew Olsen
U.S. Central Command Commander Lloyd Austin (via secure video)
Director of the Office of Management and Budget Shaun Donovan
Deputy National Security Advisor Antony Blinken
Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism Lisa Monaco
Deputy National Security Advisor for International Economics Caroline Atkinson
Deputy Secretary of State William Burns
White House Coordinator for the Middle East, North Africa, and Gulf Region Philip Gordon
Assistant to the President and Director of the Office of Legislative Affairs Katie Fallon
Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Iraq and Iran Brett McGurk
U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Robert Stephen Beecroft (via secure video)

Suzanne George, Executive Secretary and Chief of Staff of the National Security Council



In an embarrassing article for the Guardian (Barack is seen as torn -- deer in the headlights, little puppy, etc.), Spencer Ackerman does note, "Obama’s national security team convened at the White House Thursday afternoon to discuss the contours of a still-inchoate strategy. Administration officials have recently begun describing Isis in apocalyptic and near-hysterical terms, even as they decline to endorse additional military action against it, a discrepancy that has prompted confusion in Washington and beyond."

Maybe these sketchy meetings explain in part why the 'mission' in Iraq still lacks a mission?


Josh Jordan Tweeted the following today:



  • Pew Poll - Obama approval on the issues: Economy 39-55 Immigration 31-61* Russia/Ukraine 35-52 Israel 37-48 Iraq 35-56* * = all time low



  • Francis Matthew (Gulf News) notes:


    This alarming lack of purpose is reflected in how the world’s superpower is confused about what it is trying to do. President Barack Obama has offered some deeply contradictory messages as he first authorised humanitarian support on a strictly limited basis, but then talked of refusing to allow Isil to continue and the necessity of a long drawn-out struggle.

    It is clear that the growing acceptance of the importance of defeating Isil is creating some very uneasy alliances, as the Iranians and Bashar Al Assad regime in Syria offer to work with the Americans and Saudis. This fits into the new pragmatic search for stability that will dominate the Arab world for the next few years, as regional and world powers work with any non-Islamist who can regain control of a nation state and impose an end to civil war and chaos.



    Here are some Tweets in reaction to Barack's speech:

  • Be fair re: President's admission we have no IS strategy: only been in office dealing w Iraq 6 yrs, Syria for 3, IS took Fallujah in Jan.

  • Where are people getting that Obama is an isolationist? Drone wars, extended Iraq War, stay in Afghanistan until 2024, Syria, Libya, etc.




  • We'll come back to Barack's event later in the snapshot.

    Let's knock out the discussion at the State Dept today in the press briefing moderated by spokesperson Jen Psaki:




    QUESTION: We talked about – yesterday on Iraq we talked about the situation for – of the Turkmen in the north of the country.

    MS. PSAKI: Sure.

    QUESTION: Do you have any more information about the supposedly dire situation they’re in and what the United States might be planning?

    MS. PSAKI: Sure. I have a little bit on information. We are very concerned about the dire conditions for the mainly Turkmen population in Amirli as well as the ongoing humanitarian situation throughout northern and central Iraq. We’re focused on reviewing options to assess how we can best help alleviate the situation in Amirli. Our embassy and military personnel at our joint operation centers in Iraq are already working closely with the Iraqi Government to share information and discuss ways to provide relief to those in need, and certainly we’re having ongoing internal discussions as well.


    The Turkmen are the latest in-need in Iraq.

    It's a real shame when the in-need included gay and perceived gay teenagers that the US government couldn't and wouldn't do a damn thing.  Since Hillary was Secretary of State then, should she run for the presidential nomination, let's hope reporters have done their work and are willing to ask her why she failed so many in need?


    And will the in-need ever include the civilians of Falluja?

    We've noted repeatedly that Nouri is shelling civilian neighborhoods in Falluja and has been since the start of this year.  We've noted repeatedly that this is a War Crime and is legally defined as such.

    At what point does the White House intend to object to ongoing War Crimes?


    Mustafa Habib (Niqash) reports:



    Many of the buildings are damaged or completely destroyed. Anyone who manages to get into Fallujah will see a city that looks as though it’s out of a picture taken just after World War II.

    “Some areas – such as al-Hay al-Sinaie and Nazzal – have been completely levelled,” one of the city’s tribal leaders, Ahmed al-Halbusi, told NIQASH. “It would be almost impossible for people to go back and live in those areas again because they are so damaged. Additionally the Iraqi air force is still shelling those areas even though we have no idea why.”

    Al-Halbusi was now looking after a five-year-old boy named Othman. “His whole family was killed in the Nazzal area,” al-Halbusi explains. “He was playing in his garden and his family were in the house when the house was hit. He was the only survivor.”

    There are dozens of similar stories. The Iraqi army has been attacking Fallujah since the beginning of the year. Every day the army shells the city two different ways – with ground artillery from their camps near the city. One of the major camps is the nearby Mazra camp.

    The people of Fallujah say that this method seems to be fairly ineffective and doesn’t cause a lot of damage. They are far more concerned about the second method the Iraqi army is using: air bombardment.  

    Military helicopters bomb the city too – some of these helicopters are old ones, dating back to Saddam Hussein’s army, and some are new Russian-made machines, received recently. The helicopters often use barrel bombs, locals say. When these land and don’t explode, they try to disarm them.


    Niqash can do a major piece on this, why are they the only ones who can?

    These War Crimes take place every day.

    We used the April 16th snapshot to demonstrate this, covering Nouri's bombings in January, February, March and April.

    Do we need to do that again?

    Spend an entire snapshot documenting these bombings and how many are left wounded or dead?

    Nouri gets away with it because it is often just a few this day and a few that.

    But we've pointed out that, over a prolonged period, these small daily numbers add up.

    Doubt it?

    National Iraqi News Agency reports:

    Spokesman for the hospital in Fallujah Dr. Ahmed Al-Shami said on Thursday that the number of the martyrs in Fallujah since the beginning of military operations by more than 8 months amounted to 812 people, while the total number of wounded to 2488 people.
    He told the National Iraqi News Agency / NINA / that this is not the final statistics due to the continued bombardment of the city in addition to that a number of the martyrs were buried without arriving to the hospital and the wounded were treated in homes and health centers.
    He added that 16 percent of the martyrs are children and 19 percent of them women, while the injured proportion of children reached 11 percent and women 17 percent. 




    What is the number that will prompt disgust and lead to vocal rejection of Nouri's assault on Sunni civilians?

    The embarrassing UNHCR wanted to whine about 'terrorism' in Iraq.

    What is terrorism but not being safe in your own home?

    Read Mustafa Habib's piece for Niqash -- it's very clear that those civilians in the city are pretty much stuck there.

    They shouldn't have to leave their homes to begin with but now they have no choice.

    And these are the civilians Nouri kills and wounds daily.

    When does this become an issue?

    When the number killed hits a thousand?

    At the end of February, I was speaking to a friend in the administration about these murders -- they are murders, Nouri is a murderer.  And it was just so small, I was told, these deaths, and, besides, the US was working with him on getting a cease fire.  They'd eventually get a '48' hour cease fire.  But Nouri couldn't even honor that.

    I want to know what the magic number is that leads to an international outcry?

    I would have thought, myself, that the fact that these are War Crimes would prompt outrage.

    Nope.

    Very few acknowledge what's taking place.

    What continues to take place.


    And the silence that surrounds it goes to Nouri's enablers.  Patrick Cockburn is only one of many who have been silent.  Nouri has had many, many enablers.

    Take Barack's first US Ambassador to Iraq Christopher Hill.

    Chris Hill was a joke.  A lazy idiot who showed up for his confirmation hearing with his hair sticking out at all angles and food stains on his shirt (see the March 25, 2009 snapshot and the March 26th one).




    The Pig-Pen Ambassador

     
     

    Isaiah captured the moment in  The World Today Just Nuts "The Pig-Pen Ambassador."
    That alone should have raised alarms.

    Hill's answers were even worse than his failure to dress to impress for a Senate hearing.

    And once he became ambassador, he dresses up as a Secret Service agent with some tawdry idiot dressing  as First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy to spoof the assassination of JFK.


    chris hill


    That's what trashy Chris Hill thinks passes for professional.  (Peter Van Buren  posted the photo to his blog here and here.)


    I'd love to leave Chris alone but he can't stop being a danger to himself and others.


    Gulf News runs Chris' latest crap today.  It opens:


    Nouri Al Maliki’s fitful departure from Iraq’s premiership recalled many other cliffhanger exits by unpopular political leaders. His leaving did not come a moment too soon for the many Iraqis who have laid all of the country’s current troubles at his doorstep.


    Do we see a problem already?


    Sunday morning, we offered "Nouri's not gone yet -- as Falluja civilians can attest."

    Chris is an idiot, over and over he's an idiot.

    When he left Iraq August 13, 2010, he swore to Anthony Shadid (New York Times) that the political stalemate he'd been no help in resolving was nearly over and that a power-sharing agreement "was just weeks away."

    Weeks away?

    Did he mean 12 weeks -- which is also known as three months -- because that's how much longer Nouri drug out the political stalemate.

    The idiot told NPR that Nouri would abide by the results of the 2010 election.

    But Nouri didn't.

    Over and over, Chris Hill has been wrong.

    Now he writes:



    Al Maliki, according to this view, was endlessly divisive, driven by authoritarian tendencies, lacking in elementary political skills, and incapable of leading an army in disarray. But his greatest failure was his inability to grasp that successful governance in Iraq requires reaching out to other communities, notably the Sunnis and Kurds.
    Instead, Al Maliki ordered preventive arrests of young Sunni men, supposedly in anticipation of their defection to terrorist groups, and hounded his political opponents, in some instances driving them out of government (and in one case into exile).

    No doubt, much of this narrative has a basis in fact. But if it were the whole story, the mild-mannered, western-educated prime minister-designate, Haider Al Abadi, would have an easy task in stitching things back together. After all, Iraq’s Sunnis would have every reason to support Al Abadi now that Al Maliki has gone.


    Chris needs to spare Nouri because he enabled him.  Calling him out now is calling out himself.

    If you don't get what a liar Chris -- or Patrick Cockburn or any of Nouri's concubines -- don't listen to me.  I've talked this issue to death.

    Let's instead hear from Barack again.  Here's what he said today:

    Keep in mind we had been in communications with the Iraqi government for more than a year indicating that we saw significant problems in the Sunni areas.  Prime Minister Maliki was not as responsive perhaps as we would have liked to some of the underlying political grievances that existed at the time.There is no doubt that in order for Iraq security forces to be successful, they're going to need help.  They're going to need help from us.  They're going to need help from our international partners.  They're going to need additional training.  They're going to need additional equipment.  And we are going to be prepared to offer that support.
    There may be a role for an international coalition providing additional air support for their operations.  But the reason it’s so important that an Iraqi government be in place is this is not simply a military problem.  The problem we have had consistently is a Sunni population that feels alienated from Baghdad and does not feel invested in what’s happening, and does not feel as if anybody is looking out for them.
    If we can get a government in place that provides Sunnis some hope that a national government serves their interest, if they can regain some confidence and trust that it will follow through on commitments that were made way back in 2006 and 2007 and 2008 and earlier about how you arrive at, for example, de-Baathification laws and give people opportunities so they're not locked out of government positions -- if those things are followed through on, and we are able to combine it with a sound military strategy, then I think we can be successful.  If we can't, then the idea that the United States or any outside power would perpetually defeat ISIS I think is unrealistic.
    As I’ve said before -- I think I said in the previous press conference -- our military is the best in the world.  We can route ISIS on the ground and keep a lid on things temporarily.  But then as soon as we leave, the same problems come back again.  So we’ve got to make sure that Iraqis understand in the end they're going to be responsible for their own security.  And part of that is going to be the capacity for them to make compromises.


    Barack needs to rebuke Chris Hill publicly.

    The White House fired Chris.

    Fired him for cause, in fact.

    Hill was a failure who couldn't hold onto his job.

    Now he's going to be presented as a trusted source?


    We'll close with this,   Zeke Miller (Time magazine) asking Barack a question and Barack's response:



    Q    Thank you, Mr. President.  Last year, you said that you believe our democracy is stronger when the President acts with the support of Congress.  In response to Chuck’s question you said you don’t have a strategy yet, but you’ll reconsider that going forward.  But why didn’t you go to Congress before this current round of strikes in Iraq?  Do you not believe that that’s the case anymore, what you said last year?  And throughout your career you’ve also said that -- you raised concerns with the expansion of powers of the executive.  Are you concerned that your recent actions, unilaterally, had maybe -- have cut against that?


    THE PRESIDENT:  No.  And here’s why:  It is not just part of my responsibility, but it is a sacred duty for me as Commander-in-Chief to protect the American people.  And that requires me to act fast, based on information I receive, if an embassy of ours or a consulate of ours is being threatened.  The decisions I made were based on very concrete assessments about the possibility that Erbil might be overrun in the Kurdish region and that our consulate could be in danger.  And I can’t afford to wait in order to make sure that those folks are protected.
    But throughout this process, we’ve consulted closely with Congress, and the feedback I’ve gotten from Congress is, is that we’re doing the right thing.  Now, as we go forward -- as I’ve described to Chuck -- and look at a broader regional strategy with an international coalition and partners to systematically degrade ISIL’s capacity to engage in the terrible violence and disruptions that they’ve been engaging in not just in Syria, not just in Iraq, but potentially elsewhere if we don’t nip this at the bud, then those consultations with Congress for something that is longer term I think become more relevant.
    And it is my intention that Congress has to have some buy-in as representatives of the American people.  And, by the way, the American people need to hear what that strategy is.  But as I said to Chuck, I don’t want to put the cart before the horse.  And in some of the media reports the suggestion seems to have been that we’re about to go full scale on an elaborate strategy for defeating ISIL, and the suggestion, I guess, has been that we’ll start moving forward imminently and somehow Congress -- still out of town -- is going to be left in the dark.  That’s not what’s going to happen.

    We are going to continue to focus on protecting the American people.  We’re going to continue, where we can, to engage in the sort of humanitarian acts that saved so many folks who were trapped on a mountain.  We are going to work politically and diplomatically with folks in the region.  And we’re going to cobble together the kind of coalition that we need for a long-term strategy as soon as we are able to fit together the military, political and economic components of that strategy.  There will be a military aspect to that, and it’s going to be important for Congress to know what that is, in part because it may cost some money.












     

    Thursday, August 28, 2014

    No more war on Iraq

    I've got nothing so let me note Workers World who did have something to say this week:

    Stop the U.S. drive to war!

    By on August 27, 2014
    Each day the Barack Obama administration draws closer to escalating U.S. military intervention in Iraq and extending it to Syria. Already having bombed Iraq for the first time since 2011, the Pentagon admits to sending surveillance drones into Syrian airspace. At the same time Washington and its imperialist allies are pouring weapons into the Iraqi regional Kurdish government in Erbil and, now that Nuri al-Maliki has resigned his post as prime minister under pressure from Washington, into the new pro-West regime in Baghdad.
    Before discussing the events there further, we should state our position up front. We oppose any U.S. intervention in Iraq, Syria or any other place in the region. Whatever the pretext for a military intervention, U.S. imperialism will use it to weaken the authority and diminish the sovereignty of the states where it intervenes. Whatever reason it gives for intervention, the real reason will be to expand U.S. strategic and commercial interests and, in this region, to seize control of energy resources.
    The pretext for this latest U.S. war drive is the reported success of the group that calls itself the Islamic State in seizing territory in Iraq and Syria. We shouldn’t forget that the U.S. and its monarchist allies in Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the Gulf emirates helped to arm and fund the I.S. when it fought only against the Damascus government — just as they armed and funded Osama bin Laden when he fought against a progressive Afghan government in the 1980s. Now, however, every imperialist statesperson and their counterparts from Egypt to Saudi Arabia and Qatar shout that I.S. is evil incarnate and must be eradicated.
    During the last week of August, the U.S. imperialist propaganda machine seized upon an I.S. atrocity that could be seen on video: the killing of American journalist James Foley.
    It was one of many atrocities committed in the world that week. Israeli rockets killed the families of Hamas leaders, including children, bringing the death toll for children in Gaza to almost 500. Cops outside St. Louis gunned down another innocent, unarmed African-American man on the street — also available on video.
    The difference was that politicians, columnists and talk-show participants in the U.S. all had something to say about this particular atrocity and about why the I.S. is now the greatest of all evils. The unanimity within the pro-imperialist media was breathtaking.
    Very few mentioned that the only reason the I.S. got a foothold in Iraq is that the U.S. invasion and occupation of that country destroyed much of it while tearing apart its different religious and ethnic populations. And the only reason the I.S. could grab land in Syria is that the imperialists, Turkey and the Gulf states fed weapons to them to promote the war against Damascus.
    To our knowledge, no one in the media here mentioned the recent speech by Hassan Nasrallah, the leader of the Hezbollah liberation fighters in Lebanon, who called on the peoples of the region and their organizations to unite against the I.S. At the same time, he warned that the imperialists could not be relied on in this battle.
    Even when someone considers the I.S. to be an enemy of everything progressive, they should be suspicious about what the imperialists are up to. Whenever the propaganda guns are focused on some leader or organization — whether it be Hugo Ch├ívez, Robert Mugabe, Saddam Hussein, Ayatollah Khomenei, Moammar Gadhafi, Bashar al-Assad or even Osama bin Laden — it means the imperialists are mobilizing for reactionary ends, whether we think the target is a revolutionary hero or a scoundrel.
    When Washington imposes sanctions, war and blockades, they harm not just the demonized individuals but the whole population of their countries. In this case, Washington plans war. The New York Times published an editorial Aug. 25 calling for Obama to form an imperialist coalition, including Washington’s clients in the region, to go to war against the I.S. And other voices are pushing even more stridently for war.
    If we want to prevent more damage to the peoples of Iraq and Syria, if we want to use U.S. resources for the working class at home and not squander it on wars abroad, then we must mobilize to keep the U.S. and the other imperialists from another intervention in Iraq and Syria.
    The activists on the West Coast — especially the port of Oakland, Calif. — provided a splendid example of how this should be done when they stopped the Israeli ship Zim from unloading in protest against the attack on Gaza. Not only with symbolic actions, but by interfering with business as usual will we be able to interfere with the start of yet another imperialist war.
    Stop the U.S. intervention in Iraq and Syria!
    Articles copyright 1995-2014 Workers World. Verbatim copying and distribution is permitted in any medium without royalty provided this notice is preserved



    Closing with C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"



    Wednesday, August 27, 2014.  Chaos and violence continue, Nouri claims there is a "plan B" to keep him on as prime minister, Nouri verbally attacks a high ranking US official, a new wave of refugees sweeps Iraq, a coalition of something wants increased war on Iraq, and much more.


    Tonight the Washington Post published a column by Anbar Province Governor Ahmed Khalaf al-Dulaimi which notes:

    We are struggling in this war against the forces of darkness, but we are a people who can see the light at the end of the tunnel, even if it is thousands of miles away. No matter how dim the light, we hope that it will shine brighter every day.

    Iraqis have the right to live in peace. Our young people have the right to enjoy all the wonderful things that life has to offer. And we have a responsibility to give them hope that will empower them to live life to the fullest, to reach out to their counterparts in other nations and to turn away from death and extremism. 



    The Iraqi people are a strong group who has overcome repeatedly the attacks and 'help' from outsiders.  And, of course, they managed to survive two terms under the despot and tyrant Nouri al-Maliki.

    We frequently note he's not gone here and sometimes add that Nouri will only be truly gone when he's in the ground.

    Some e-mails insist that's too harsh.  Nouri's shown a kinder side in recent days and weeks, one e-mailer argued.

    Has he?  Well that certainly erases his sending his goons into middle schools and high schools to liken gay men to vampires and to encourage the students to bully, harm and kill and Iraqi gays they might know.  Right?  And doesn't it wipe away all the Sunni protesters he killed?

    And doesn't it just vanish all the civilians in Falluja he's killed and wounded with his bombing of residential -neighborhoods?  (National Iraq News Agency notes the bombing of Falluja's residential neighborhoods today left 3 civilians dead and seven more injured.)

    And we could go on and on.

    Nouri's a thug.

    I'm not kind to thugs, so sorry.

    And my belief that Nouri's not gone yet -- even though the world press tells us he is outgoing -- gone, gone, gone?

    Hamza Mustafa (Asharq Al-Awsat) reports:

    Iraq’s outgoing Prime Minister Nuri Al-Maliki said on Wednesday he was prepared to form a new government from among Iraq’s Shi’ite parties if ongoing talks on the shape of the new government fail.
    Speaking in his weekly national address, Maliki claimed that the Shi’ite-led National Alliance—which includes his State of Law coalition, parties loyal to firebrand cleric Moqtada Al-Sadr, and the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq (ISCI)—had a “Plan B” in place if Prime Minister-designate Haider Al-Abadi was unable to make progress in talks on forming a government with Sunni and Kurdish factions.


    Still think Nouri's packed it in?  Or, and this is a better guess, are you thinking Nouri's actively working to ensure that Prime Minister-designate Haider al-Abadi fails so that he can be named to the position and take 30 days to form a government?

    Mustafa notes the National Alliance says they have no plan B involving Nouri.  Is he lying?

    Most likely.  He usually does, after all.

    But his personal Eva Braun was on Democracy Now! this week and Sunni-hater Patrick Cockburn couldn't stop making excuses for his beloved:




    Well, I think, you know, that Maliki is finished. I think he’s been finished for some time. The question was: Would he fight it out? He had military units that were personally loyal to him, but he found that after the new prime minister had been appointed, the Iranians had turned against him. They wouldn’t support him. He didn’t have any outside political support. His own party was disintegrating or would no longer support him. So I think that the transition will happen.
    But I think what is wrong is to think that—almost everything now is being blamed on al-Maliki, both inside and outside Baghdad, that he was the person who provoked the Sunni uprising, he was the hate figure for the Sunni, he produced an army that was riddled with corruption. But I think that it’s exaggerated, that it’s as if there was a magic wand that would be used once al-Maliki had gone. But there were other reasons for this uprising, for the creation of ISIS—notably, the rebellion in Syria in 2011. This changed the regional balance of power. That was a Sunni rebellion, which Iraqi politicians over the last couple of years were always telling me, if the West supports the opposition in Syria, this will destabilize Iraq. And they were dead right. It wasn’t just al-Maliki.


    He did provoke the Sunni uprising?  I realize it's difficult for Patrick to speak with Nouri's cock down his throat but the Sunnis were protesting in 2011 and were promised by Nouri that corruption ends in 100 days and it was another lie from Nouri.  They took to the streets again as December 2012 rolled around and they ended up being attacked and savaged.

    And Patrick, if you can hear us over the sucking noise you're making, who do you think had Sunnis rounded up and tossed into prison?  The Easter Bunny?

    Who created military forces without the authorization of Parliament?

    The man whose pubes your nose is in.  That's right.

    Because you're a worthless person who hates the Sunnis, you never bothered to report any of this over the years.  That's on you.  Lying about it now won't help you any.

    In yesterday's snapshot, we noted The Progressive published an article on Iraq by Stephen Zunes. With Patrick Cockburn's latest spin for Nouri still fresh, let's see what Zunes has to say on the same topics:


    The biggest division among Iraq’s Arabs, however, is not between Sunnis and Shias but between nationalist and sectarian tendencies within both communities. Under the corrupt and autocratic U.S.-backed Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, Shia sectarians dominated. This resulted in an initially nonviolent Sunni backlash, which was met by severe government repression. This backlash was eventually hijacked by ISIS, which rid the major Sunni-dominated cities of government control.


    Yeah, that's pretty much the way most of us who've paid attention to Iraq over the last four years feel it went down.  You won't find it in Patrick Cockburn's 'reporting.'  You can find it in our archives.  Over and over. But I don't hate Sunnis and I was never vested in lying for Nouri al-Maliki (or any other official).  Sadly, Patrick Cockburn can't say the same.

    There's so much he can't say -- can't or won't.  You have governments vying to be by Barack's side in the latest wave of the Iraq War.  Paddy Cock Burn got anything to say about that?

    Of course not.

    Jen Psaki, State Dept spokesperson, had to address it and other topics in today's State Dept press briefing:

    QUESTION: We have a story out today that cites officials talking about the United States considering a new humanitarian mission in Iraq. This one would be to the north for the ethnic Shiite Turkmen. Do you have any – anything to share about this? Why is the situation so dire? What’s being planned?

    MS. PSAKI: Well, I don’t have any new information for you, Brad. I will say, broadly speaking, we’re very focused on addressing the humanitarian concerns across Iraq. Obviously, this is something we continue to asses with our Iraqi partners. We’re also working at the same time on an effort to put together a coalition of countries in Europe, in the Arab world, and beyond that who might be able to contribute to taking on the threat of ISIL and the causes that have resulted, which, of course, is some of the humanitarian results that you mentioned.
    And as you all know, there’s many ways to contribute. There’s humanitarian, military, intelligence, diplomatic, and we know this is an effort that is going to require significant focus and all hands on deck – not just the United States, but a range of countries. And you’ve already seen that there are a range of countries that have offered a range of assistance in Iraq, whether it’s humanitarian assistance or other countries who have taken strikes. We’ve seen the efforts of Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, United Kingdom, and many, many others, who have given assistance. And this is an effort that we think needs to be over the long term to take this on.


    QUESTION: Do you have any – I mean, are you concerned about the situation, particularly of the Turkmen right now, in the north of Iraq?


    MS. PSAKI: Well, I think it’s a situation we’re watching closely, just as we’re watching any humanitarian situation in Iraq that raises concerns. And as you know, we continue to assess necessary steps to take.

    QUESTION: Are you – sorry, go ahead.


    QUESTION: Just – Said, thank you. Just in terms of the coalition-building, have you anything more to say about other countries that might help on the military side of it?


    MS. PSAKI: Well, I think it’s really important to note that this is about many areas of contribution. They include military. They include humanitarian. They include intelligence. They include diplomatic efforts. We’re not going to make announcements for other countries, of course, about what they may or may not do. You’ve seen some countries take steps in Iraq to take on the threat of ISIL. Obviously, we’re having conversations with a range – dozens of countries about what contribution they’re able to make.

    QUESTION: Who’s taking on ISIL militarily in Iraq --


    QUESTION: Yeah, besides the Americans.

    QUESTION: -- besides you and Iran, which I assume is not part of your coalition?

    MS. PSAKI: Well, what I mean, Brad, is that obviously there are countries who are all considering what options they can take and they may be willing to take to take on the threat of ISIL, whether it’s Iraq or across borders.
    More on this? Let’s finish this issue. Go ahead.

    QUESTION: Are you aware about the desperate situation of the people in the town of Amirli in north Iraq – northern Iraq?

    MS. PSAKI: Well, I think as I said in response to Brad’s question, we are watching closely the humanitarian situation in Iraq; that’s obviously impacting many communities. And we continue to assess how we can provide the best assistance. And obviously this is not a short-term effort, this is a long-term effort, which is why it’s so important to work through a coalition of countries in a coordinated manner, with regional and international partners to see how we can address.


    QUESTION: But to help the people of Amirli match the – one of the goals of the President’s mission in Iraq, right – humanitarian relief?


    MS. PSAKI: Certainly, one of the goals is humanitarian relief. You’ve seen contributions we’ve already made. We continue to assess what more we can do.


    QUESTION: Yeah. On ISIL in Syria, you have said that you will not coordinate with the Assad Government because it has allowed a vacuum that has fostered ISIL. That’s still correct?


    MS. PSAKI: Yes.


    QUESTION: Now with the Iranian Government, they have fostered sectarianism in Baghdad, which you said contributed – is a political problem that’s possibly greater than the military problem. They have funded, they have armed, they have trained the Assad Government. And yet, the Secretary has said explicitly we’re open to them playing a constructive role numerous times. Is that a --

    MS. PSAKI: But I think we’ve also said, clearly – and I think the context of his remarks are important – that there’s many ways you can play a constructive role, and certainly supporting a unified Iraqi Government – which I think is what his reference was to at the time – and one that takes into account the views of all parties, is one that many countries can play a productive role in. And if Iran was able to play a productive role in moving that process forward when that statement was made months ago or weeks ago, then that’s something we would certainly support.
    We’ve also talked about our concern about certain kinds of outside intervention in Iraq as well.

    QUESTION: Okay. But in terms of ISIL generally – Iraq or Syria – the comments that he made are not relevant in terms of Iran’s ability to play a constructive role in the military fight against the organization.

    MS. PSAKI: I would encourage you to look back at the context, which I recall was about the formation of a governing – of a government in Iraq, which certainly has moved forward several steps since then.


    David Williams and Jason Groves (Daily Mail) report, "America is poised to ask Britain to support air strikes against jihadi positions in northern Iraq, it was reported last night."  While England plays coy, Australia is apparently desperate to be invited to the ball.  Daniel Hurst (Guardian) reports:

    Australia has signalled its willingness to contribute Super Hornets to US-led air strikes in Iraq, with the defence force “at a high state of readiness”.

    The defence minister, David Johnston, said Australia was yet to be approached to provide assistance other than humanitarian relief, but would continue to talk to the US about steps to preserve civilian life from the threat posed by the Islamic State (Isis).

    And Australians are apparently all in for anything.  Pak Yiu (4BC 1116 Talk) speaks with Neil James the Executive Director of the Australian Defense Association:

    Mr James said an intervention like the one in 2003 is unlikely, but it could be possible.
    “There may be a fair bit of air support to the new Iraqi government but I can’t see a similar type of multinational intervention there was back in 2003.”

    Unlikely . . . but maybe, he says.


    Who's in charge of the war?

    Not the US Congress which can't find a voice one way or the other.

    How about the White House?

    New York Times' columnist Maureen Dowd offers this take:

    As he has grown weary of Washington, President Barack Obama has shed parts of his presidency, like drying petals falling off a rose.
    He left the explaining and selling of his signature health care legislation to Bill Clinton. He outsourced Congress to Rahm Emanuel in the first term, and now doesn't bother to source it at all. He left schmoozing, as well as a spiraling Iraq, to Joe Biden. Ben Rhodes, a deputy national security adviser, comes across as more than a messagemeister. As the president floats in the empyrean, Rhodes seems to make foreign policy even as he's spinning it.




    Meanwhile National Iraqi News Agency reports:

    A security source in Anbar said on Tuesday that, an unknown military plane bombed a school, which includes a number of displaced people from the city of Falluja, west of Anbar.
    The source told the National Iraqi News Agency / NINA/ that the school is located amid Kubaisa in Hit district, west of Anbar were bombed by unidentified aircraft, without knowing the size of the losses caused by the bombing. 




    Kitabat reports an American aircraft crashed to the west of Baghdad International Airport -- as they describe the craft, it was a remote control drone. Kitabat also reports 27 corpses were discovered dumped to the north of Baghdad.   And in Baghdad?  Iraq Times notes the corpse of 1 woman and 6 men were discovered throughout Baghdad today.  Alsumaria reports 1 Iraqi soldier was shot dead in Baghdad, a bombing in a booby-trapped Ramadi home left 1 police member dead, and 1 civilian was shot dead in western Baghdad.  All Iraq News adds 1 health department employee was shot dead in Raibya,  National Iraqi News notes the handcuffed corpses of 2 young men were dumped on the road in Tuz Khurmato.  Margaret Griffis (Antiwar.com) reports 168 violent deaths took place in Iraq today.


    As the violence continues, it impacts the country.  Sean Callebs (CCTV -- link is video) reports 1.5 million have been displaced by violence from the Islamic State. Iraq has seen waves of both external and internal refugees throughout the war.  Alsumaria notes the General Secretariat of the Council of Minister Mohammed Taher al-Tamimi is calling for the Iraqi schools to take in the displaced children.



    We'll try to grab the topic of religious minorities tomorrow.  For now, let's return to the topic of Nouri.  He announced the alleged plan B today in his weekly speech.  He did more than that in the speech.

    Among other things, he attacked US Vice President Joe Biden.

    Kitabat notes Nouri accused Joe of attempting to divide Iraq into three separate regions -- Shi'ite, Sunni and Kurd.  Al Mada also notes Nouri's "attack" (they use the term) on Joe. All Iraq News notes he called on Joe "to respect the Iraqi people and constitution" -- to which Joe Biden could reply, "You first."