And now there's a concerted effort to blame much of the mess on Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, who apparently richly deserves his failing grades and may soon find himself dismissed from class. But the chorus of disapproval has become so intense that one wonders: Is this perhaps our exit strategy?
Blame the disaster on the Iraqis and then quit; we gave them every chance, we gave them lives and money and time, we gave them advice and pep talks and freedom, and they have been too petty, too vengeful, too lazy, too spineless to build on all we’ve given them. So we’re out of there. Bye bye, Iraq.
There are two problems with that speculation. The first is that President Bush does not appear to be searching for a way out. Instead, he is searching for a rationale for staying in.
His latest piece of deceptive irrelevance is his comparison of Iraq and Vietnam. We left behind an awful mess in Vietnam, the president reminds us; we dare not do that again.
The sober response is that the Vietnam mess would have been no greater had we left there much, much sooner. Had we left, for example, when Lyndon Johnson realized -- as he said in his taped conversations with McGeorge Bundy and Senator Richard Russell on May 27, 1964, a year before our large-scale buildup in Vietnam began -- that the war was "pointless." He called it "the biggest damn mess I ever saw" and lamented, "I don't think it's worth fighting for, and I don't think we can get out." And we didn't get out, not for 11 more years.
That's from Leonard Fein's "We Do Not Know How To Leave Iraq" (The Jewish Daily Foward). What's an Irish-Catholic doing reading The Forward? Actually, I wan't. We had dinner tonight with 2 friends of C.I.'s and they mentioned the article which none of us had seen. They know Fein (and I believe C.I. does as well but I only came in when they were talking about how two people called it like it was on al-Maliki today, C.I. and Fein. So throughout dinner, I told myself I had to read Fein's piece when I was getting ready to blog later.
al-Maliki is a failure. You can't look at how bad things are for Iraqis and deny al-Maliki's absolute failure. Malnutrion, death squads, go down the list. He may be the night manager at Bully Boy's World of War, but he's done a crappy job on his shift.
I went to CounterPunch looking for something to link to but saw a "poor al-Maliki" piece. al-Maliki is not a poor Iraqi. He is in the safety of the Green Zone excpet when jetting around. He will leave office (if he leaves alive) very wealthy. While he's done well for himself, he's done poorly for Iraqis. In my opinion, he's a collaborator with Bully Boy in destroying Iraq.
And that's before you even get to the fact that he's claiming now the theft of Iraqi oil law is about to happen.
Riverbend of Baghdad Burning is probably now a refugee. In April she wrote that her family was leaving for Syria or Jordan. Hopefully, they made it there safely.
But think about that. Riverbend is probably the best known Iraqi woman. And she's most likely now a refugee. That happened under al-Maliki. That happened because of who al-Maliki backed. And who backed al-Maliki.
So save the tears for al-Maliki. He doesn't deserve them. He's a collaborator.
Cry for Riverbend and her family. Cry for the Iraqis who have died, been maimed, lost loved ones, lost their homes, been imprisoned falsely . . . But don't cry for Bully Boy's night manager.
Closing with C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"
Wednesday, August 29, 2007. Chaos and violence continue, the US military announces another death, Texas gears up for a big rally on Saturday, Bully Boy wants another $50 billion for his illegal war, and more.
Starting with war resistance. Nick Chin and Hannah Morong (US Socialist Worker) report the Eli Israel was a huge hit in Kennebunkport, Maine on Saturday at the peace rally held there where Cindy Sheehan, Dennis Kucinich, Carlos and Melida Arredonod, Cynthia McKinney and Dahlia Wasfi were among the over 4,000 people participating. Eli Israel is the first service member to publicly refuse to fight in the illegal war while being stationed in Iraq. The reporters quote Israel asking, "What's going to stop [the war]? It has to stop from the inside."
There is a growing movement of resistance within the US military which includes Timothy Richard, Robert Weiss, Phil McDowell, Steve Yoczik, Ross Spears, Zamesha Dominique, Jared Hood, James Burmeister, Eli Israel, Joshua Key, Ehren Watada, Terri Johnson, Carla Gomez, Luke Kamunen, Leif Kamunen, Leo Kamunen, Camilo Mejia, Kimberly Rivera, Dean Walcott, Linjamin Mull, Agustin Aguayo, Justin Colby, Marc Train, Abdullah Webster, Robert Zabala, Darrell Anderson, Kyle Snyder, Corey Glass, Jeremy Hinzman, Kevin Lee, Mark Wilkerson, Patrick Hart, Ricky Clousing, Ivan Brobeck, Aidan Delgado, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Stephen Funk, Clifton Hicks, David Sanders, Dan Felushko,Brandon Hughey, Clifford Cornell, Joshua Despain, Joshua Casteel, Katherine Jashinski, Dale Bartell, Chris Teske, Matt Lowell, Jimmy Massey, Chris Capps, Tim Richard, Hart Viges, Michael Blake, Christopher Mogwai, Christian Kjar, Kyle Huwer, Vincent La Volpa, DeShawn Reed and Kevin Benderman. In total, forty-one US war resisters in Canada have applied for asylum.Information on war resistance within the military can be found at The Objector, The G.I. Rights Hotline, Iraq Veterans Against the War and the War Resisters Support Campaign. Courage to Resist offers information on all public war resisters. Tom Joad maintains a list of known war resisters.
Iraq Veterans Against the War were also a big hit at the Kennebunkport rally. They'll no doubt be a huge hit Saturday in Texas. In what may be one of the biggest actions in Texas against the illegal war in September, Texans For Peace are staging an American People's Poll on Iraq in Fort Worth, Texas featuring many speakers including IVAW's Adam Kokesh, Leonard Shelton and Hart Viges as well as Diane Wilson, Tina Richards, Ann Wright and many others. Click here for the press release. There is not a fee to attend, the event is Saturday, in Fort Worth, Texas which is also where the Republican Straw Poll will be "taking place in General Worth Square". People will begin arriving at nine in the morning, the speeches will begin at 1:30. There will be music and entertainment. Though the event is free, people can donate and Texans For Peace is encouraging everyone planning to attend to print up tickets online. The tickets will be used for a number count of those attending. No one will be turned away because they didn't have access to a computer to print up the ticket. A number of community members are in the D-FW area. If you're en route to the rally and see a friend, take them along. Texans For Peace are encouraging people to invite friends. This could be the biggest peace rally the area has seen. The event's theme is "Bring the troops home now and take care of them."
Throughout the day (nine to five, this is a Saturday) there will be canvassing and straw polls, the pre-rally entertainment starts at one p.m. and the peace rally begins at 1:30 and lasts until 3:30. Fort Worth is a city in Texas, part of the Dallas and Fort Worth region known there as "DFW." Suburbs, towns and cities in the area include Denton, Plano, Arlington, Irvining, Bach Springs, Desoto, Duncanville, Lewisville, Addison, Grand Prairie and a host of others. There is a point. Texans for Peace notes that you can catch the Trinity Railway Express to Fort Worth and that at 12:30 pm volunteers will be helping transport people to the rally.Community member Diana and her family took part in the April 2006 immigrants rally in downtown Dallas that had at least a half million participants making it the largest protest in Dallas' history. She noted the traffic issue when she shared her experiences from that rally. Today, she explained over the phone that the easiest thing for people to the north, east or south of Fort Worth wanting to attend Saturday's events but unsure of how to get there is to utilize the Trinity train. She suggests grabbing a Dart Express Train and taking it to Union Station (in downtown Dallas). You can pick up the TRE there. ("It's the big, brown -- same brown as UPS uses --train that runs right next to the two light rails," says Diana.) ADDED: Dallas and Billie both note that there is also a solid white train. Billie: "Brown or white, they are real trains that look like trains, not the light rail." Texans for Peace notes that the TRE (Trinity Railway Express) runs from eight in the morning until eleven at night on Saturdays.
[The last two paragraphs were noted yesterday and will be noted tomorrow and Friday. Texas members in that area, or able to get to that area, will hopefully be attending and getting the word out.]
Yesterday, Bully Boy gave another laughable speech. Cedric, Wally and I addressed it yesterday. Michael Abramowitz (Washington Post) observes the "upbeat" speech came as Bully Boy "is stepping up his case for keeping additional U.S. forces in the country. However, Democrats and Iraq experts say that Bush's proposals will face a steep hurdle because many of his predictions of success have not materialized." Thomas E. Ricks (Washington Post) reports that the White House will be asking for another 50 billion dollars ($50,000,000,000.00) for the illegal war "which would come on top of about $460 billion in the fiscal 2008 defense budget and $147 billion in a pending supplemental bill to fund the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq" with the announcement most likely coming "after congressional hearings scheduled for mid-September featuring the two top U.S. officials in Iraq. Army Gen. David H. Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan C. Crocker will assess the stat eof the war and the effect of the new strategy the U.S. military has pursued this year."
Bully Boy's responsible for the illegal war. The puppet's responsible for his lousy performance. Leila Fadel (McClatchy Newspapers) interviews him and he declares that he did not arrive at "this postition from being a king or a prince but have reached here through a political process, democracy and national will." Each claim, in and of itself, laughable. He then tries to play himself off as an accident of history: "I never wished to be put in a position of responsibility, neither did I see for one minute to be here." Apparently, he was just sipping a soda at the counter of Schwaabs and Bully Boy liked the way al-Maliki filled out a sweater. In a report by Fadel on the interview, it's noted that: "Despite Maliki's confidence, the scene at his office made it clear that his survival isn't being debated only in Washington. Maliki's security guards were closely watching a talk show on a wide screen Panasonic television in the lobby. The topic was whether Maliki is the only choice for Iraq, and political pundits were debating whether the prime minister should step down. When Maliki entered, the guards turned down the volume, but kept the program on."
This week Erica Bouris (Foreign Policy in Focus) became the latest offer that criticism of al-Maliki is not helpful. Well sometimes the truth hurts. al-Maliki has done an awful job and doesn't represent Iraqis.
Let's deal with some basics before we get to specifics. Iraq is a war zone. Iraq is occupied. Leaders in those situations (in any country) have a limited number of options. They can lead a resistance to occupying forces. They can attempt to work with the occupation in a 'savy' manner that benefits the people of the country. Or they can become a collaborator in the occuaption. They can attempt to work between all the options listed -- ping-ponging back and forth -- but those are the options for leaders in any occupied country. Bouris declares, "Scolding Maliki, however tempting it is in the dog days of August, when heat, violence, and the 2008 election are all a little close for comfort, is a dangerous temptation to give in to. Especially when combined with the just released National Intelligence Estimate report that paints a grimp picture of Maliki's ability to lead Iraq towards effective governance." In other words, Bouris is aware of the NIE and its evaluation of the puppet so why is she bothered by criticisim of al-Maliki? She fears that al-Maliki might begin to "reach out to less moderate Shiites. Or he could broaden his horizons and respond to the overtures of the Iranians. The Iranians would likely be happy to lend a supportive hand to keep Maliki securely in power."
Nouri al-Maliki came into puppet office with ties to Iran (he lived there in exile). US intelligence notes those ties and when they became firmer is when al-Maliki started getting more public criticism. al-Maliki cannot be pushed closer to Iran, he's already there. That may or may not be a bad thing for Iraq or for the United States. But a claim that he might be pushed into the arms of Iran requires a lack of awareness of his firm ties prior to becoming prime minister and the strengthening of those ties since he has.
As to the concern that he might "reach out to less moderate Shiites" -- again, anyone paying attention will raise an eye brow over that 'fear' as well. Not only has al-Maliki backed the Shia death squads and refused to call out their attacks, calling his Interior Ministry "thugs" is being generous. On July 30th, Ned Parker (Los Angeles Times) walked readers through the Interior Ministry building noting that Mahdi Gharrawi controls the second floor ("Last year, U.S. and Iraqi troops found 1,400 prisoners, mostly Sunnis, at a base he controlled in eastern Baghdad. Many showed signs of torture"), the sixth floor is "home to border enforcement and the major crimes unit, belongs to the Badr Organization militia. Its leader, Deputy Minister Ahmed Khfaji, is lauded by some Western officials as an efficient administrator and suspected by others of running secret prisons," the seventh floor is the location of "a turf war" betwen the Badhr Organization and Kurds . . .
That is not a new development, that is not a rarely reported development. al-Maliki would have a very difficult time getting closer with "less moderate Shiites" because they're already arm-in-arm.
"Maliki is the stupidest man alive (well, after Bush of course . . .) if he belives his arrogance and callous handling of the sitatuion will work to dismiss it from the minds of Iraqis. By doing what he is doing, he's making it more clear than ever that under his rule, under his government, vigilante justice is the only way to go. Why leave it to the security forces and police? Simply hire a militia or gang to get revenge." Riverbend (Baghdad Burning) wrote that on February 20th of this year. She was commenting specifically of the refusal to pursue justice for Sabrine Al Janabi. What does Riverbend think today? Her last post was in April and she noted that she and her family were going to attempt to make it to Syria or Jordan:
Riverbend is now a refugee and under the puppet's 'rule' a vast number of those have been created.
On Monday, Amy Goodman (Democracy Now!) explained, "Meanwhile the Iraqi Red Crescent reports the number of internally displaced Iraqis has also doubled over the course of the so-called U.S. troop surge. More than 1.1 million Iraqis are now internally-displaced, up from under four-hundred fifty thousand earlier this year." Today, Amy Goodman (Democracy Now!) noted that "the Iraqi refugee crisis worsens by the month. The United Nations says the monthly rate of displacement has reached 60,000 people -- an increase of 10,000 over previous estimates. Some 4.2 million Iraqis have fled their homes since the U.S. invasion of Iraq." Do we want to talk orphans? Jonathan Finer (Washington Post) reported in 2006 that prior to the illegal war approximately 400 children were living in orphanages throughout Iraq but by the beginning of 2006, the number had already grown to 1,000.
Assuming the puppet was attempting to be 'savy' and not collaborating, he has failed. There are many things the US wants. Top of the list, the US wants to put into law the theft of Iraqi oil. If he was attempting to be 'savy,' he could have used the desires to leverage items that would make life under occupation a little better for Iraqis. He hasn't.
He told Fadel, "The support for the Sunnis is something we do not accept -- because we do not agree to support either Sunnis or Shiites. I have made a pledge to deal with matters according to state law and citizens regardless of their affiliations. Our responsibility is to break down the barriers that have been erected recently". The first eleven words are probably the closest to the truth al-Maliki got: "The support for the Sunnis is something we do not accept". That would explain creating an 'alliance' this month without Sunnis and trashing the US White House's 'benchmarks' two and sixteen.
He is a miserable failure and with regards to the Sunni population, he is a menace by whom he appoints and what he chooses to recognize and what he chooses to ignore.
Over a week before the NIE was made public, Peter W. Galbraith (The New York Review of Books) was already laying reality out: "Provincial elections will make Iraq less governable while the process of constitutional revision could break the country apart. . . . Iraq's mainstream Shiite leaders resist holding new provincial elections because they know what such elections are likely to bring. Because the Sunnis boycotted the January 2005 elections, they do not control the northern governorate, or province, of Nineveh, in which there is a Sunni majority, and they are not represented in governorates with mixed populations, such as Diyala province, northeast of Baghdad. New elections would, it is argued, give Sunnis a greater voice in the places where they live, and the Shiites say they do not have a problem with this, although just how they would treat the militant Sunnis who would be elected is far from clear."
Reality is reality and calling al-Maliki out for his failures is reality. Reality check: Baghad went under 'crackdown' when? June 2006. Over a year later and nothing to show for it. No improvement. On September 2, 2006 -- almost a year ago -- AFP reported the effects of the 'crackdown' -- the only real effects: "Several of Iraq's leading booksellers and writers have burnt a pyre of books to denounce a curfew which they said has turned the centre of Baghdad's intellectual life into 'a street of ghosts'." The curfews only inflame the tensions, they do not solve anything. The 'crackdown' has been an extreme curfew. It has had resulted in the destruction of many of the last remaining cosmopolitan aspects of Baghdad.
al-Maliki was not swept in by 'national will' as he claims to McClatchy Newspapers. He got the job when Ibrahim al-Jaafari didn't have the support needed. April 22, 2006 was when al-Maliki became the prime mnister. From the May 17, 2006 snapshot: "CNN, the Associated Press and BBC note that Iraqi prime minister-designate Nuri al-Maliki will, apparently, announce his cabinet nominations this Saturday. As the rah-rah-rah-put-on-Etta-James'-"At Last!"-mood builds, it's left to AFP to note the obvious: the parliment meets Saturday because the constitutional deadline is Monday, the 22nd. al-Maliki has already missed his own imposed deadline. The Monday deadline is not optional." On May 22nd, he had a cabinet -- if you were willing to ignore Iraq's Constitution and al-Maliki was. As Amy Goodman (Democracy Now!) noted, the 'cabinet' wasn't full: "Several key cabinet positions remain unfilled including Minister of Defense and Minister of the Interior." Of course, the Constitutional deadline of May 22nd was about the full cabinet, not partial.
That should have been the first clue that he was ineffective. How about that fabeled 24-point plan al-Maliki was talking up in May? In May of 2006, it should be noted. That 'peace plan' didn't amount to anything. After the Green Zone barricades were stormed in June 2006 (the reason for the crackdown), al-Maliki suddenly had a new 'plan' and it was another 'peace plan'. Lot of praise for an awful plan and one that never worked but let's drop back to October 3, 2006's snapshot:
Operation Happy Talkers are on the move and telling you that Nouri al-Maliki offers a 'four-point' peace plan. You may have trouble reading of the 'four-point' plan because the third point isn't about "peace" or "democracy" so reports tend to ignore it. The first step has already been (rightly) dismissed by Andrew North (BBC) of the "local security committees": "In fact, most neighourhoods of Baghdad set up their own local security bodies some time ago to protect themselves -- because they do not trust the authorities to look after them." AP reports that the Iraqi parliament voted in favor of the 'peace' plan (reality title: "continued carnage plan").
As we went on to note (and noted repeatedly), it was difficult to hear about the plan because so much of the press made a point of ignoring one point. The third plank of the 'peace plan' was the attack on a free press. The war on the press. It was the war on the press that created the problems in Falluja in April 2004 when Paul Bremer's itsy-bitsy feelings were hurt over a political cartoon. It was the war on the press that led al-Maliki to shut down al-Arabiya in September 2006.The 'peace plan' pushed in the fall of 2006 only enshrined the assault on a free press though most media outlets avoided noting that. The assault continues. Ali al-Fadhily (IPS) reported yesterday on the "fascist behavior" in Falluja where even the journalists live in fear "after a few of them were arrested and held for several days. One of the detained journalists spoke to IPS on condition of anonymity. Visible shaken, he said that a major in the Fallujah police force had told him that freedom of the media had been missued and the police would not allow it anymore. He said the major told him that 'the news you transmit to the world will be what we tell you, not what you pick up from the street'."
al-Maliki is a puppet. There's no question of that. When he was in Egypt, the US decided to install permanent barricades in Baghdad. al-Maliki declared, "I oppse the building of the wall, and its construction will stop," as Alissa J. Rubin (New York Times) noted before adding that the US "military did not say whether the wall's construction would be halted." And the following day, as CNN reported, Iraq's Brig. General Qassim Atta held a press conference in Baghdad where he declared, "We will continue to set up these barries in Adhamiya and other areas." And, FYI, the construction continued.
al-Maliki is a puppet. There's no question of that. But he wanted to have the title of "prime minister" and be seen as a leader. The Iraqi people have nothing to show from his 'leadership'. If this was al-Maliki being 'savy' for 15 months, he's an idiot. More likely, he decided to be a collaborator in an illegal occupation. Regardless, he has not used the limited power he does hold to leverage better conditions for Iraqis. He has allowed Shi'ite death squads to run free, he has allowed his Interior Ministry to target Sunnis when they coveted their homes. The statements being made by people holding office in the US government, mild as they are, are not really that different from what was being stated publicly by October 2006. The difference is that the jury is no longer out on al-Maliki. September 30, 2006, Amit R. Paley and Sudarsan Raghavan (Washington Post) reported that then US Ambassador to Iraq Zalmay Khalilzad said of al-Maliki, "He has a window of a couple months. If the perception is that this unity government is not able to deal with this issue [the death toll and threat of civil war], then a big opportunity would have been lost and it would take a long time to address this issue." In their opening sentence, Paley and Raghavan wrote, "The U.S. ambassador to Iraq warned on Friday that time is running out for Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki to contain the burgeoning sectarian bloodshed that threatens to plunge the country into a civil war." That was almost a year ago. The statements or threats are the same today as they were then except for the fact that there's no talk of "if" -- the jury is in, the puppet failed. By the US government's standards he has failed. By measures of daily life for Iraqis he has failed.
US forces arrested Iranians in Baghdad. Stephen Farrell (New York Times) reports, "An Iranian Energy Ministry delegation was arrested by American troops at a hotel in central Baghdad during an official visit to Iraq" while the US military "did not mention the hotel" and asserted the arrests took place "near the checkpoint on the east bank of the Tigris" but staff at the hotel say "the members were eating dinner in the ground floor restaurant" of the hotel when they were arrested, handcuffed and blindfolded. Robin Stringer (Bloomberg News) notes they were released and that the US military's latest version of the ever changing story is that they waived the Iranians through a checkpoint and then changed their minds which is how they ended up arrested at the hotel.
In other violence.
Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Baghdad car bombing that claimed 1 life (three wounded). Reuters reports a Kirkuk car bombing claimed 3 lives (seven people wounded), a Kirkuk mortar attack claimed 2 lives (one more wounded), a Diwaniyah roadside bombing claimed the lives of 2 "bodyguards of a government official",
Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports Hawija shooting that left an Iraqi soldier dead and 1 person shot dead in Kirkuk. Reuters reports a police officer shot dead in Najaf.
Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 11 corpses discovered in Baghdad.
Today the US military announced: "One Multi-National Corps Iraq Soldier died of wounds suffered during combat operations in the vicinity of Kirkuk Aug. 28." The announcement brings the ICCC total for the number of US service members killed in Iraq this month to 75 with 3733 being the total number killed in the illegal war since it started.
Another thing we'll be noting through the end of the week -- events for Army of None, published by Seven Stories Press, available at Courage to Resist and many other places, which is written by Aimee Allison and David Solnit. This Thursday there will be a release celebration for the event at Club Oasis (135 12th St., btwen. Madison and Oak Sts., Oakland 6 blocks E. of Broadway/12th St. -- click here for East Bay express' map of Club Oasis' location). The event is free and open to all. The authors will be there, Jeff Paterson will have a slide show, there will be a puppet show, poets, snakcs, a dj . . . The event starts at 6:30 pm. More information can be found [Warning: MySpace page] by clicking here.Aug 29, at 12:00P, Aimee and David on KPFA Radio! @ KPFA Radio 94.1;Aug 30, at 6:00P Army of None Book Release Party & Tour Kick-Off @ Oasis Restaurant &amp; Bar - Oakland, CA;Sep 14 at 4:00P Army of None Workshop - San Jose, CA @ Californians for Justice, San Jose, CA;Sep 14 at 7:30P Army of None Book Release/Signing - San Jose, CA @ Dowtown San Jose - Location TBA; Sep 15 at 12:00P Army of None Tour in Pittsburgh, PA;Sep 19 at 7:00P Army of None Tour in Cleveland, OH;Sep 20 at 6:00P Army of None Tour @ Kent, OH;Sep 23 at 6:00P Army of None Tour @ Milwaukee, WI;Sep 24 at 6:00P Army of None Tour in Milwaukee, WI @ Milwaukee, WI;Sep 25 at 7:00P Army of None Tour @ Madison, WI;Sep 26 at 6:00P Army of None Tour @ Madison, WI;Sep 27 at 6:30P Army of None Tour @ May Day Books, Minneapolis MN;Sep 28 at 10:00A Army of None Tour @ High Schools in Minneapolis, MN;Sep 28 at 7:30P Army of None Tour @ Lyndale United Church of Christ, Minneapolis MN;Sep 29 at 1:00P Army of None Tour @ Rondo Community Outreach Library - St. Paul, MN;Oct 12 at 7:00P Army of None Tour @ Bluestockings Bookstore - New York City;and Oct 17 at 7:00P Army of None Tour @ Sanctuary for Independent Media - Troy, NY
iraq veterans against the war
army of noneaimeee allisondavid solnitdemocracy nowamy goodman
leila fadelmcclatchy newspapers
the socialist worker
the new york timesalissa j. rubin
the washington postamit r. paleysudarsan raghavan
the los angeles times