Friday, June 19, 2015


Am I the only one creeped out by Brett McGurk?

The State Dept flunky was to be the US Ambassador to Iraq, you may remember, until it turned out that he's spent previous time in Iraq sleeping around on his wife and eventually leaving her for Gina Chon of the Wall St. Journal (the paper fired her when they learned that  she allowed lover boy Brett to see her articles and alter them before she submitted them to the paper).

Brett's got that creepy look to his rubber face of late.

The look that says, "I stick my cock in anything."

You can really picture him, for example, sticking it in the hose of a vacuum cleaner.

He's just become a real creepy figure.

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

Thursday, June 18, 2015.  Chaos and violence continue, Gen Martin Dempsey states why the US is in Iraq "right now," we implode the media lie that it's John McCain and a bunch of Republicans questioning Barack Obama's plan or 'plan' for Iraq, Ash Carter offers an extremely screwed up version of what a "political solution" is in Iraq, and much more.

US Defense Secretary Ash Carter declared Wednesday that he found it hard to believe that Baghdad would fall to the Islamic State because so many of the Iraqi forces were being used to surround it and he did not believe Shi'ites would allow it to fall.

He was speaking to Congress, testifying before the House Armed Services Committee in a joint appearance with Gen Martin Dempsey, the Chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

"That's why we're there right now," Dempsey quickly added to Carter's response.  "I mean the threat to Erbil was what drew us into the kinetic portion of this fight as well as the threat to Baghdad and the fact that we have our diplomatic presence there in the form of our Embassy and thousands of American citizens.  So -- Look, we will always protect our national interest with -- uh, unilaterally.  And some of the recent special operations strikes and some of the other kinetic strikes that you have seen us conduct -- both manned and unmanned -- and let's not forget that . . ."

As Dempsey meandered on and on, droning from one point to the next, rarely landing  on an actual point (were he a singer, we'd say he sang all around the note without ever actually hitting it), it became clear that US President Barack Obama's plan or 'plan' was as muddled as Dempsey's answer.

Which may be why, today, the US State Dept's John Kirby tried to stay far, far from the hearing.

QUESTION: Yeah. A follow-up on Iraq is you have been talking about the reforms in the Iraqi army, but there are reports also, the Foreign Affairs and International Crisis Group. They are talking about the fragmentation among Peshmerga also, the politicizing by the PUK and KDP forces. There are also a plan by the minister of Peshmerga to reform, and the ministry of Peshmerga too. Would you support this kind of reforms, or are you also concerned about the fragmentation among the Peshmerga forces?

MR KIRBY: I don’t think I’m going to make any statements here today about the reform of the Peshmerga. I mean, our focus is fighting against ISIL inside Iraq and in Syria. It’s a broad coalition. We’re working through the government in Baghdad. That’s how the support is getting to the Pesh, is through Baghdad, and I think we’d let the Iraqi Government speak to reforms in there.
What I will say is, writ large, we are constantly as a part of this mission looking for ways to help Iraq improve the capability, competence and the battlefield performance of Iraqi Security Forces. And two, a measure of that has been our support to help advise and assist Peshmerga as well.
I’ve got just time for a couple more. Back here.

QUESTION: Just on yesterday’s comments made by Secretary of Defense Ash Carter at the hearing. He said a couple of things, one about Iraq. He said the United States did have a policy for the possibility of the disintegration of Iraq as a country. He said we will enable the local forces and they will not be a single country at that time. Can you elaborate more on that and do you really believe that Iraq is going to disintegrate, that’s why you have a policy for it?

MR KIRBY: I didn’t see those particular comments, and again, I am not the spokesman for the Secretary of Defense. So it’s not my place to speak to what he said or what he meant. Again, I’ll go back to – our policies remain unchanged, that the – we’re working with Prime Minister Abadi’s government, the elected Government of Iraq, which is a sovereign nation, and the support that we provide them militarily and otherwise goes through the government in Baghdad.

QUESTION: Also on Syria --

MR KIRBY: Now, I will – I do want to add that one of the things that – about Prime Minister Abadi’s leadership that we have noted with respect is the fact that he is trying to decentralize a little bit and he is trying to empower governors to act more on their behalf.

QUESTION: You do support a decentralized system of governance for Iraq, right?

MR KIRBY: I’m sorry?

QUESTION: You do support a decentralized system of governance?

MR KIRBY: We support Prime Minister Abadi’s efforts to decentralize some control in a federal-like way. But ultimately, these are his decisions that he has to make and obviously to be responsive to his electorate, the Iraqi people. But yes, we support his efforts – and these are his efforts. We’re – it’s not – we’re not making him do it; he’s doing this.

They support Haider al-Abadi.

How very sad.

They supported thug Nouri al-Maliki before.

They don't support the Iraqi people, please grasp that.

Please grasp the stupidity of mistaking a leader (a puppet) for the object of support.

Thug Nouri was supported.

So much so that when he lost the 2010 elections, Barack backed Nouri in his refusal to step down as prime minister.

So for eight months, the country was brought to a standstill (this is the political stalemate) and it only moved forward after the US government strong armed Iraqi leaders into signing off on The Erbil Agreement which went around the Iraqi voters, went around the Iraqi Constitution, and decreed loser Nouri would have a second term.

Again, the US government does not support the Iraqi people.

Instead, it's support whatever psychopath or loser they install as the head of the Iraqi government.

They support this thug until it's too embarrassing on the international stage to continue to support him.

Then they put the rabid dog down and move on to another.

Barack has no real strategy or plan.

For months, the press has lied about it and covered for him.

When they have allowed criticism to seep through, they've portrayed it as part of 'madman' John McCain's attacks and those other Republicans who stand with him.

Certainly, the media lie insists, no Democrats are opposed to Barack's plan.

US House Rep Tulsi Gabbard: You know we've heard a lot about this first line of effort that you outlined in your opening remarks to address the political and the sectarian situation in Iraq.  And I think it's important as we look at this question of what is our strategy to defeat ISIS, it's important that we operate in the world that actually exists -- not the one that we hope or we wished could exist or would exist in the future.  It's important to recognize that while these ideals are good to have, we're operating in the world that exists today.  So even as we look at this administration's policy, the previous administration's policy, the billions of dollars and the thousands of lives that have been spent in holding onto this unified central government policy -- even as we hear rhetoric from Prime Minister Abadi, the reality is that experts both who wear the uniform and those who have studied the Middle East for very long time all say for practical purposes you have three regions in Iraq, it's a fractured country with the Kurds in the north, the Shias have their strong hold in Baghdad essentially and you have the Sunni territories largely to the west.  So when you look at this question and you look at, Mr. Secretary, your answer to Mr. O'Rourke's question with regards to give us an example how there has been a plan or there is a plan in place to allow for this and support governance and the ability, for example, for the Sunni tribes to secure themselves.  And you talked about how this would happen in the future, help the Iraqi people put a plan in place for governance as territory is recovered.  But my question goes to Tikrit.  This is an offensive that took place not that long ago.  I questioned before this offensive occurred two members of the administration: What was the plan?  And there was no plan at that time.  And we saw as a result, once Tikrit was taken, Sunni families were terrorized by Shia militias, homes were burned down, businesses were looted and, as a result, you continue to see why these Sunni people have no motivation to go and fight for this so-called Iraqi security force, this Iraqi government that shuts down bridges when they're trying to run away from ISIS.  So, as you say, it's essential Sunni fighters are brought into the fold, I think we all recognize that the Sunni people need to be empowered but this is why there's no faith by many in Congress and the Sunni tribes most importantly that there is a plan in place to empower them.

Secretary Ash Carter:  I, uh, very much respect your expertise and your perspective, uh, on-on this and one of my favorite sayings is that "Hope is not a strategy."  And this is a strategy, uh, the strategy, the particular part of the strategy which has to do with the integrity of the Iraqi state is a challenging one, no question about it, for all the reasons you described. It is -- if it can be achieved -- better than sectarianism for the Iraqi people and for what we want which is ISIL's lasting defeat.  Is it difficult to achieve?  Yes.  Does it involve as an essential ingredient empowering the Sunnis and giving them the will to participate?  Absolutely.  Is Tikrit a good example of what we're trying to achieve?  No.  It wasn't.  That's the whole point. That was a -- That was not an ordered operation under the exclusive control of the Iraqi government, uhm, and it did -- it had the kind of aftermath that exactly incentivizes us in trying to get Sunnis into the fight because if you put Shias into the Sunni fight, you know how that ends.  That is not lasting, uh, defeat.  So that's why we're trying to get the Sunnis into the fight.  I think you are uh-uh-uh asking exactly the right question.  I think it's more than hope.  I think there's some prospect that we can do this.  We're determined to do it.  There are plenty of Iraqis that say that they will support that strategy and that, uhm, uh, we can make it succeed. 

US House Rep Tulsi Gabbard: Thank you, Mr. Secretary.  I would just continue to urge the administration to -- to consider changing its policy on supporting this government in Baghdad.  You mentioned sectarianism is the problem.  I would argue that this government in Baghdad is further adding fuel to the fire of sectarianism by allowing these Shi'ite militias, by allowing this sectarianism persecution and oppression to continue  which only allows further oxygen for ISIS to continue to exist and continue to grow in Sunni territories.  Thank you.

That's Iraq War veteran and Democratic House Representative Tulsi Gabbard.

And she's making strong remarks.

She's noting that the current actions of the Iraqi government are "further adding fuel to the fire of sectarianism" and encouraging support for the Islamic State.

The exchange also made clear that Ash Carter doesn't understand what a political solution is.

Gabbard referred to US House Rep Beto O'Rourke's earlier remarks.  O'Rourke is also a Democrat.  He's also bothered by the plan or 'plan.'

And many would be bothered by it if the press would get honest about it.

Let's look at what Carter has to say when O'Rourke questions the plan or 'plan.'

US House Rep Beto O'Rourke:  Mr. Secretary, in the nine lines of effort that comprise our strategy, the first one that you cited is political and you said that every other line of effort follows from that -- we must be successful politically if we're going to be successful at all in any of these other lines of strategy and if we are going to achieve our goals in the region.  You gave as an example in your opening testimony building governance.  Can you tell us where we have built governance in that region successfully?  And the follow up question to that is how long will that take since everything follows the success of that first line of effort?

Secretary Ash Carter:  That - It- uh - is a very good question.  It's a very complicated task.  And-and in-in-in Iraq it will mean when helping the Iraqis, helping them, when they recover territory from ISIL to build a system of governance that the people who live there support and are willing to support and defend in the long term.  You say, 'Where have we had success?'  My own view is we've had considerable success in Afghanistan.  I was just speaking to President [Mohammed Ashraf] Ghani yesterday morning.  He was reporting the results of the campaign there -- again, the Afghan security forces which we are enabling, which we trained and equipped and are enabling.  The national unity government of president Ghani and CEO [Abdullah] Abdullah which is a multi-sectarian government holding together.  This in Afghanistan, which, I think, if you go back 15 years would say, a very unlikely place for that to be done.  So we have assisted and enabled that. Our people are very good at that.  We're not at that stage yet in Iraq.  But when we get to that stage, I think that we will participate in an international effort to help these places that are tragically demolished to rebuild themselves and govern themselves.

US House Rep Beto O'Rourke:  So 15 years in Afghanistan to get to a successful example of building governance in this region and including the fact that we've been in Iraq in one form or another since 2003, invested tens of billions of dollars to assist in building governance, trained and equipped an army that melted in the face of the enemy, I have some serious reservations about the potential to achieve success on this first line of effort.  The third line of effort that you mentioned is helping to produce a capable, committed local ground force.  You admitted that we had budgeted to train and equip 24,000, have only been able to recruit 7,000.  You add to that the only ground forces apart from the Iraqi army are these Shia militias funded and led and armed by Iran.  Is this a serious proposal ?  Is this a serious line of effort that we can seriously expect to succeed given the most recent failures and your admission that the Iraqi national army lacks the will to fight?  

Secretary Ash Carter: Well it's a serious uh-uh-uh effort but it hinges upon Sunni fighters coming into the Iraqi security forces being trained and equipped by us in the coalition, enabled by us but fighting for their homeland.  That's the essential ingredient.  Uhm, that was absent starting last summer -- quite clearly absent.  Not everywhere. Cause IS -- Earlier we talked about the Peshmerga, I mentioned the CTS and other units of the Iraqi security forces that did fight.  And as you indicate, there are Shia militias which we don't support -- we only support those that fall under the government of Iraq as part of our overall strategy of supporting a multi-sectarian government uh,uh there.  So that is, uh-uh, the strategy.  It-it's difficult -- I think the gap between 7,000 and 24,000 -- the whole point of Tacadum is to try to close that gap because we're trying to close that with Sunni fighters, that's the essential ingredient and I think we need --  we're going to get on track to try to close that gap and that's important. 

US House Rep Beto O'Rourke:  In an exchange earlier, one of my colleagues and you had agreed that one of our primary missions is to support soldiers and families.  Uhm, I can think of no greater way of supporting them than ensuring that we have a strategy that can succeed when we're going to place them in harms way and acknowledge that many of them will lose their lives or have their lives change irrevocably upon return so I hope there's a plan B from the administration.  

Secretary Ash Carter: Ah --

US House Rep Beto O'Rourke: With that I yield back.

Secretary Ash Carter: Amen to that. That's yet another reason why they deserve -- as you deserve -- a clear explanation of what we're trying to accomplish. 

So much of what Carter said was troublesome including the use of failed state Afghanistan as an example of success.

Troublesome also includes this statement:

But when we get to that stage, I think that we will participate in an international effort to help these places that are tragically demolished to rebuild themselves and govern themselves.

The US will "help these places that are tragically demolished to rebuild themselves and govern themselves"?

I'm sorry, did Afghanistan attempt suicide?

I kind of remember the US government attacking the country.

While what's happened in Afghanistan, Libya and Iraq (among others) is tragic and they have even been "tragically demolished" -- all three were "tragically demolished" by the US government.

Carter's testimony really appears to suggest that the countries took down themselves, demolished themselves or imploded by accident with no assistance from the US government.

Secretary Ash Carter: Well it's a serious uh-uh-uh effort but it hinges upon Sunni fighters coming into the Iraqi security forces being trained and equipped by us in the coalition, enabled by us but fighting for their homeland.  That's the essential ingredient.  Uhm, that was absent starting last summer -- quite clearly absent.  Not everywhere. Cause IS -- Earlier we talked about the Peshmerga, I mentioned the CTS and other units of the Iraqi security forces that did fight.  And as you indicate, there are Shia militias which we don't support -- we only support those that fall under the government of Iraq as part of our overall strategy of supporting a multi-sectarian government uh,uh there.  So that is, uh-uh, the strategy.  It-it's difficult -- I think the gap between 7,000 and 24,000 -- the whole point of Tacadum is to try to close that gap because we're trying to close that with Sunni fighters, that's the essential ingredient and I think we need --  we're going to get on track to try to close that gap and that's important. 

Carter's talking about what he hopes will happen.

Hasn't happened yet in Iraq -- but he hopes it will.

He hopes.

While insisting that "hope is not a strategy," he builds his actions around empty hope that's failed to pan out so far.

You sort of picture him having transferred every American tax dollar into dimes and then parking himself at one of the cheap slot machines while he pulls the lever over and over just knowing that it's got to pay off at some point.

As bothersome as that and other remarks by Carter were, here's where it really falls apart:

Secretary Ash Carter:  That - It- uh - is a very good question.  It's a very complicated task.  And-and in-in-in Iraq it will mean when helping the Iraqis, helping them, when they recover territory from ISIL to build a system of governance that the people who live there support and are willing to support and defend in the long term.

This is a political solution?

This is what the administration is now calling a political solution?

You topple a city or town the Islamic State controls and then you set up some installed government and this is a political solution?

You do this, according to Carter, bit by bit?

The first obvious question is: And what of the Sunni cities that aren't controlled by the Islamic State?

How do they get this so-called 'political solution'?

They clearly don't.

But this isn't a political solution.

A political solution is addressing the ways in which Sunnis are shut out of the government -- not to mention targeted by the government.

This is the national government.

Ash Carter must think the world a fool if he truly believes that the biggest complaint of Sunnis in 2013 and 2014 was that their local governments were not working for them.

Their biggest complaint was about the national government and it remains the focus of ire.

A year-plus worth of protests by Sunnis were kicked off by the actions of the national government and these protests were against the national actions of the government.

Unless Ash Carter's declaring that the US government -- as many Shi'ite Iraqis fear -- is about to split up the country into three regions, his so-called 'political solution' for local cities (under the control of the Islamic State) does nothing to address the political solution.

If this were the "Syrian snapshot," we'd quote US House Rep Tammy Duckworth's strong exchange. As Dempsey prattled on up "we have had some difficulty recruiting and retaining" fighters among the (so-called) Syrian rebels, Duckworth asked him, "So at what point is there diminished returns?  I mean, if you have so few recruits that can meet this criteria and the commitment is so great, is it worth it?"

That's a serious question.

It deserved a serious response.

Instead, Dempsey offered, "But we've got to partner with somebody."

Oh, so it's prom night and everyone must get laid.

No, the US government doesn't have to partner with anybody.

The belief that it does explains a lot of conflicts and wars.

And, for the record, Tammy Duckworth is a Democrat (now serving in the House and currently running for the US Senate).  She's also an Iraq War veteran.  But the point is, the media's narrative that it's John McCain and Lindsey Graham and Kelly Ayotte -- all Republicans -- calling out the plan or 'plan'?  It's a lie.

It's always been a lie.

The media's real interested in creating straw man and divisions these days.

The media's not too committed in telling the American people what's really going on.

An exception would be Kristina Wong (The Hill) who has consistently covered conflicts between Congress and the White House in the last year and who today notes:

Two House Democrats want their colleagues to sign a letter to President Obama urging him to resist calls to escalate U.S. military involvement in the fight against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS).  
Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-Ariz.), a former Marine, and Rep. Mark Takai (D-Hawaii), an Army National Guard lieutenant colonel — both members of the Armed Services Committee — say the U.S. should not fight the Iraqi military's battles for them. 

We covered the hearing in Wednesday's snapshot.  We've noted another aspect of it today.  We'll offer a third report on it in Saturday's snapshot.

This was an important hearing and we will take the time to examine parts of it.

I'm not really impressed with what's passed for coverage of it from media outlets.

Deb Riechmann (AP) and Jacqueline Klimas (Washington Times) have offered some of the strongest coverage of the hearing.

Margaret Griffis ( counts 61 violent deaths across Iraq today.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Call Debbie (Harry)

At the Scotland Herald, Christina O'Neill compiles a top-ten highlights list on the Debbie Harry, front woman of the rock group Blondie.  I'll note two:

 3. Debbie Harry credits an Australian TV cockup as giving the band their big break in 1967. The country's Countdown pop show was to play the video for X Offender but they accidentally showed the B-side In The Flesh instead; the song soared to Number Two in the Australian charts, which was the group's first big hit in any country.
4. While Blondie has built a devoted fanbase over the years, one of their musical peers was less than thrilled with the band's rise to global fame. Singer Patti Smith reportedly put her foot down and gave CBCB club bosses an ultimatum when she realised the band were performing in the same venue as her, and Blondie had to move to the nearby Bowery venue to play.

Correction to the above: "X Offender" was released in 1976.

"X Offender" did not make it to number two in Australia.

"In The Flesh" was the 1976 single that shot to number two in Australia.

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

Wednesday, June 17, 2015.  Chaos and violence continue, the US plan for continued war on Iraq is addressed in Congress, Congress refuses to demand US forces leave Iraq, the State Dept thinks they can rewrite vocabulary when reality doesn't go there way, and much more.

"I would hope," US House Rep Adam Smith  declared this morning,  "that we would have learned over the course of the last 14 years of having a substantial presence in both Iraq and Afghanistan that the west showing up in the Muslim world and saying 'we're here solve your problems' isn't going to get it done."

He was speaking at the House Armed Services Committee hearing.  Smith is the Ranking Member on the Committee, US House Rep Mac Thornberry is the Chair and today they were hearing testimony from Defense Secretary Ash Carter and Gen Martin Dempsey (Chair of the Joint-Chiefs of Staff).

Thornberry had questions regarding US President Barack Obama's decision to send 450 more US troops into Iraq and to set them up at a base in Anbar Province.

This decision has had many vocal critics.

Such as Daniel Wagner (Huffington Post) who observed:

Mr. Obama apparently believes that being seen to be doing something is better than doing nothing, but he is wrong. The U.S. tried a war, installing a prime minister, and implementing a post-war counter-insurgency strategy. None of them worked for a reason: The Iraqi government is the wrong partner.
It took a long time for the U.S. to acknowledge that continuing to back Nouri al-Maliki for as long as it did was a big mistake, but by the time it did, it was really too late to salvage the situation. Iran is running the government and a feckless military. Trying to support the government or the military now is based on an alternate reality that 'could' have become true a dozen years ago, but bears little resemblance to the reality today. What will it take for the U.S. government to admit that what it is doing isn't working?

 The editorial board of the Baltimore Sun pointed out Tuesday:, "Sending a few hundred troops merely gives the impression that he is taking action while really just kicking the can down the road for the next American president to contend with."  From the May 21st snapshot:

And what's especially sad is he went on and on while campaigning for president (the first time) about how the answer wasn't to play "kick the can."  He was, he insisted, someone who took action and made decisions.
But his Iraq action is nothing but kick the can.
Every day, you can picture him praying, "Just semi-hold together until January 2017, just semi-hold together until January 2017."
The whole point of his (minimum) three year action on Iraq that he started in mid 2014 was that he wouldn't be the one left holding the bag at the end.
So he grits his teeth and lies, "I don't think we're losing."

Aamer al-Qaisi (World Meets Us) observes:

There is nothing new in what the Americans have to say. On the tenth of June last year when Mosul fell, the Americans told us to expect a long war that could take three years. Only now - a year after Mosul's fall, it has become five years. We know nothing about the most recent projections of the American administration after it altered its strategy from merely encouraging the arming of various warring factions and the Peshmerga to now accepting the participation of the Popular Mobilization Forces [Shiite militias] in efforts to liberate occupied cities from Daesh!
Amid all the "creative chaos" of the American approach, we stand a year out from the fall of Mosul, four million people have fled, there is a waterfall of blood and the political cracks are deepening by the day – free gifts for Daesh, which it uses to extend its aggression and hatred toward everything human in this country ...
Posted By Worldmeets.US

The truth we must courageously face up to is that we are fighting Daesh without any kind of strategy – political or military. We are in fact in the heart of the chaos. Politically, our wonderful politicians continue to exchange insults and accusations while brandishing slogans of reconciliation, national unity and Iraqi brotherhood. That is all for internal consumption – and we're fed up with it. Militarily, we continue to lack united leadership and a military strategy that could serve as a compass for all those fighting Daesh. Our military victories lack purpose and depth in terms of returning displaced people to their homes and restoring social peace in liberated cities that have been destroyed by war!

Those are only a few of the critics of Barack's announcement last week.

The announcement was more of the same -- announcing to continue the same actions begun back in August of last year.

The actions have not produced any visible successes.

And when people note that reality, the White House responds that this is not something which can succeed overnight and that this is something which will require years.

That stalling tactic is used as an attempt to silence criticism and to shirk oversight.

Which is why this moment during the hearing is so important:

Chair Mac Thornberry:  So what's the reasonable time period for us to check back and see whether this is working as we hope?

Secretary Ash Carter:  I honestly think it's-it's reasonable for you to ask in-in weeks, uh, because, uh, I --  we're already getting an inflow of, uh, Sunni fighters.  We'll put them through the training program.  We have the capacity to do that.

That was one of two key moments in the hearing.

We'll note more of the hearing tomorrow but today we're focusing on the above and one other moment.

In the above exchange, Carter is stating clearly that in weeks, not years, it will be possible to render a judgment of success or failure.

A year ago, Barack told the world that the only answer to Iraq's crises was a political solution.  He stressed a military solution was not going to solve the deeper problems.

And yet he's tasked the entire administration -- even the State Dept -- with working on the military aspect.

Why is that?

We offered that he was using the State Dept not just to get 'coalition' partners who could join in the air bombing campaign but also to get other countries to send in troops.

The Iraq War is not ending.

And the second big moment in the hearing covered that.

Ranking Member Adam Smith: The Chairman and I met last week with the Sunni leader of the Iraqi Parliament [Salim al-Jabouri] and one of the things he said during our meeting that surprised me a little bit as we were talking about the difficulty of getting support from the Baghdad government and sort of shifting focus to where could the Sunnis in that path sort of from Anbar up into Syria where ISIL is most dominant and he expressed disappointment, frankly, that the other Gulf states -- Saudi Arabia, UAE -- or even Turkey, to go up north.  It did not seem to really be willing to provide much support -- uhm, even Jordan as well -- uhm, for the Sunnis in that area.  Uhm, number one is do you agree with that assessment?  I tend to take this guy at his word.  Uhm, and number two, why?  Uhm, it would seem to me that defeating ISIL is something that would be very important to Saudi Arabia -- amongst the others there.  Why aren't they doing more, uh, to help those groups that want to resist ISIS in that part of Iraq and Syria? 

Secretary Ash Carter:  That's a critical question and it goes back to something that you said in your opening statement about other Sunnis and Arab forces countering ISIL.  And I too met with Mr. Jabouri last-last week who said the same thing  and I think he was speaking on behalf of a number of the Sunni forces -- political forces in western Iraq who would like to see more support and recognize -- as I think you noted and the Chairman noted in the operning statements -- that Americans and westerners  are, uh -- can lead and enable but if they get too high a profile that becomes a problem in its own right.

Ranking Member Adam Smith:  Exactly.

Secretary Ash Carter:  Therefore all the more reason to get others uh, uh involved -- Sunnis involved in the fight.  Now the-the head -- one thing I'll note is the heads of state of the GCC were here in Washington and we went to Camp David -- about three weeks ago.  And I would say that this was one of the major themes of our conversation with them.  The other one being, to get them back to what the Chairman said checking Iranian malign influence which they're also concerned about.  Their concern about ISIL is genuine but their actions, I think, can be greatly strengthened.  And that was one of the principle things that we talked about, getting - leading them in the train and equip program --

Ranking Member Adam Smith:  But again --

Secretary Ash Carter:  Sorry?

Ranking Member Adam Smith:  Yeah, I got all that.  But why?  Why isn't -- What, in your opinion, having worked with these people, why isn't it happening?

Secretary Ash Carter:  Well  one reason is that they simply lack the capacity and so we talked a lot about building special operations forces that had counter -- as opposed to air forces.  We have enough air forces.  We're looking for ground forces. 

We're looking for ground forces.

Let it sink in.

The American pubic will not stomach  a large US military presence in Iraq.

That's why Barack's slowly -- generally by the 500s -- increased the US military presence in Iraq.

But it's also why the State Dept has been tasked with urging other countries to send their militaries into Iraq.

Canada did.

And they've already seen a body count.

Others may as well.

But "We're looking for ground forces."

And this is not about ending a war, this is about prolonging it, about getting others to fight it.

In other words, Barack won a Nobel Peace Prize for lying.

The Iraq War is not ending and that was made clear in the US House of Representatives today.  Reuters reports that 288 members voted against a bill which "would have forced President Barack Obama to pull all U.S. troops from Iraq and Syria as soon as one month from now, but nearly one-third of the chamber voted for the measure."  Only 139 members voted for it.

The two incidents above were key in the hearing.  The plan is to note more of the hearing in the next snapshot.

This go round, we'll note the root cause, as discussed in the hearing and one other thing.

Ranking Member Adam Smith:  . . .  we are still relying on the Baghdad government.  It is our hope that there will be an Iraqi government that is sufficiently inclusive so that Sunnis will be willing to fight for it.  I just don't see that happening.  Starting with [Nouri] al-Maliki, they set up a very sectarian, separatist government that did everything to shove the Sunnis into the arms of ISIS.  Now I've not met [Haider] al-Abadi , uh, but I've heard that he has a desire to change that.  The trouble is the people below him have no desire to change that and he does not have the power simply to make them -- the Minister of Defense, the Minister of the Interior, the various Shia militias, Iran change their minds. So as we continue to try to do that, I fear that strategy won't work.  Now I know why we do it: Because what's the alternative?  How do we offer the Sunnis a reasonable place to be if they don't have some support from Baghdad? But I think we need to start thinking about it.

I don't get this belief that Haider's got some desire to change anything.

He's done nothing since being installed as prime minister.

And why would he?

He's not only part of Nouri al-Maliki's Dawa party (a terrorist organization that attacked the US -- just FYI, since the White House is all about fighting terrorists -- or at least about fighting people they don't like that they label 'terrorist'), he's also part of Nouri's State of Law.

Dawa alone?

Fine, it's a political party in Iraq.

But State of Law was the organization Nouri created to avoid running on Dawa's platform and to try to take control of the Shi'ite political map.

When you're a member of both, you're a little too close to Nouri to ever make a real break from the sectarian ways that brought Iraq to brink of collapse.

Along with the root cause of the problems in Iraq today, we'll note Ramadi from the hearing.  Ramadi fell to the Islamic State last April.  The administration attempted to down play it.  Secretary of Defense Ash Carter was slammed by Haider al-Abadi, among others, for noting the failure of the Iraqi military.

US Vice President Joe Biden jumped into the fray to try to kiss Haider's boo boos and soothe his hurt feelings.

But Carter was speaking plainly and owed no apology for that.

In his prepared remarks at today's hearing, Carter raised the issue of Ramadi:

What we saw in Ramadi last month was deeply disappointing -- and illustrated the importance of a capable and motivated Iraqi ground force. In the days that followed, all of us on the President’s national security team, at his direction, took another hard look at our campaign across all the lines of effort. At DoD, I convened my team before, during, and after my trip to the Asia-Pacific to examine our execution of DoD's lines of effort, and to prepare options for the President if his approval was required for any enhancements we identified. In our meetings at both the Pentagon and the White House, we determined that while we have the right strategic framework, execution of the campaign can and should be strengthened…especially on the ground. We determined that our training efforts could be enhanced and thus are now focusing on increasing participation in and throughput of our training efforts, working closely with the Iraqi government and stressing the focus on drawing in Sunni forces, which are underrepresented in the Iraqi Security Forces. We also determined that our equipping of the Iraqi Security Forces had proceeded too slowly. This process was earlier sometimes delayed by bureaucracy in Baghdad, but occasionally also in Washington. That is why we are now expediting delivery of essential equipment and materiel, like anti-tank capabilities and counter-IED equipment, to the Iraqi security forces -- including Kurdish and Sunni tribal forces. We also determined that we could enable Iraqi Security Forces with more tailored advice and assistance, including with critical outreach to local Sunni communities. That is why on advice from Chairman Dempsey and General Austin, and at my recommendation, last week President Obama authorized the deployment of 450 personnel to Iraq’s Taqqadum military base in Anbar Province to establish an additional site where we could advise and assist the Iraqi security forces. Situated between Ramadi and Fallujah, Taqqadum is a key location for engaging Sunni tribes, and Prime Minister Abadi, Iraqi military officials, and Sunni leaders have all committed to using Taqqadum to reinvigorate and expedite the recruitment of Sunni fighters.

The poorly planned and executed 'liberation' of Tikrit was suppose to give the Iraqi forces a boost -- a tiny win was supposed to improve morale.

But Tikrit didn't end up looking or feeling like a win and took far too many weeks to uplift spirits.

To be followed by the fall of Ramadi was a cruel blow for morale.

And Ramadi is not fading.  AFP reports:

Islamic State took over the city of Ramadi because an Iraqi commander unnecessarily ordered his forces to withdraw, a senior officer in the US-led anti-jihadi coalition has said.
“Ramadi was lost because the Iraqi commander in Ramadi elected to withdraw. In other words, if he had elected to stay, he would still be there today,” the British army’s Brigadier Christopher Ghika told journalists in Baghdad on Wednesday.

“Ramadi was not a Daesh victory – Daesh did not win Ramadi, Daesh did not fight and defeat the Iraqi army in Ramadi,” Ghika said, using an Arabic acronym for the jihadi group that overran large parts of Iraq last year.

Meanwhile, Margaret Griffis ( counts 195 violent deaths across Iraq today.

This as Press TV reports that Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi arrived in Tehran today:

During his short visit to Iran, the Iraqi premier is scheduled to sit down with Iranian officials, including President Hassan Rouhani, to exchange views on different issues, including anti-terrorism campaign.
The Iraqi premier will also discuss mutual relations with Iranian officials during his stay in Tehran.
Iran’s Ambassador to Iraq Hassan Danaifar said Monday that Abadi’s visit to Iran comes at the invitation of Iranian First Vice President Es’haq Jahangiri.
This is Abasi’s second visit to Iran since he took office in September 2014.

He can go to Iran because he's motivated the Parliament to vote this week.

No, not on a national guard -- that's what the White House has been pushing for -- pushing for it for about a year now.

But the Parliament did vote on the very important and pressing issue of a new national anthem.

So don't say Haider's accomplished nothing.

In the US this week, the Senate voted on an amendment to arm the Kurds directly (the effort for this was led by Senators Barbra Boxer and Joni Ernst).  The measure failed in a close vote.

This vote was noted in today's State Dept press briefing moderated by John Kirby.

QUESTION: On Iraq, on the consequences of the Senate refusal to directly arm Peshmerga, have you got any concern from the KRG side on that, especially when Secretary Kerry sent a letter to the Senate and discouraging them to go forward and change the amendment that made in the House?

MR KIRBY: So let me just talk more broadly. We do continue to arm and equip the Peshmerga, and we do it in coordination and through the Iraqi Government in Baghdad. So any suggestion that they’re not getting arms and equipment and things they need is just simply not true. It’s being done through the government in Baghdad, who has been very responsive in making sure that they aren’t stopping or hindering the flow of that equipment. And it’s been quite a bit: coalition-wide, over 95 airlift missions, 8 million pounds of donated ammunition and equipment, and more keeps coming. So I’m not going to speak specifically to action on the Hill, but I can tell you that the Pesh continue to get what they need and we continue to look at ways to get them more.

QUESTION: But have you got any concern from the KRG side to the State Department? (Inaudible.)

MR KIRBY: Have I heard of any concerns from the KRG side to the State Department?


MR KIRBY: I’m not aware of anything. I think they’ve made their – I think they – in the past, they’ve regularly made their concerns known, and they’ve stated that.

QUESTION: But on this issue --

MR KIRBY: But they continue to get, we believe – and I can – can show that they’re continuing to get arms and equipment and materiel and that will continue to flow.

QUESTION: But the Senate amendment would have given you the authority to give them directly heavy weapons, like tanks and maybe rocket launchers and perhaps helicopters and so on. Will that – is that issue now put to rest? You don’t --

MR KIRBY: I’m not going to talk about pending legislation here or the status of it. It is – it’s our policy, of Secretary Kerry, the policy that we’re executing, to work through the Baghdad government to provide this materiel and assistance, and it is getting to them. I mean, the policy, as being executed, is working.

QUESTION: Now, on the issue of troops on the ground, seeing that – from last week, seeing that U.S. troops now in Iraq are at the brigade level, maybe 4,000 people, how is that not mission creep? How is that not going up incrementally?

MR KIRBY: Well, mission creep is when the mission changes --


MR KIRBY: -- and the mission expands and grows. The mission is not changing. The mission, with respect to advise and assist, is exactly the same as it’s been since when we started it months ago.

QUESTION: So you could --

MR KIRBY: Go ahead.

QUESTION: You could conceivably have a division in there and the mission will not change?

MR KIRBY: Well, I’m not going to – I don’t think it’s kind of very useful to get into hypothetical estimates of what – of how many more troops there’s going to be. This isn’t about numbers of troops; it’s about what they’re doing. And the “what” hasn’t changed at all. Part and parcel of this strategy is assisting the Iraqi Security Forces, improving their competence and battlefield capability, and that’s what this extra – additional, I should say, additional 450 troops are going to do there in Anbar province.

Actually, Kirby's redefining "mission creep" and I don't think he gets to set the terms for everyone anymore than he gets to rewrite the dictionary on behalf of the American people.

Yet still he tries to do so.

QUESTION: Okay. And then secondly, on Iraq, is Iraq today a quagmire? Is it a stalemate in which no side can win and the U.S. is just sinking its resources?

MR KIRBY: Are these your words that you want to apply to Iraq or are you reading from somebody else’s commentary?

QUESTION: I mean, do you have a response?

MR KIRBY: I think what we’re dealing with in Iraq is a very dangerous, lethal group, and it’s not just from their perspective, Iraq. It’s Iraq and Syria. And this is a fight that the Iraqis need to lead. It’s their fight. This is their strategy we’re helping them execute. And I would add that though it’s going to be a long slog and though it continues to be dangerous, and though this group continues to be quite lethal and determined, there has been progress made across almost all the lines of effort.

So nobody said this is going to be easy. We’ve long said three to five years, and I think we still hold to that.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Greenwich Village

The full title is Greenwich Village: Music That Defined A Generation.

That's what I'd recommend you stream on Netlifx.

It's a look back at an influential time and period and features many people sharing observations and memories.

I enjoyed Carly Simon most but also enjoyed Arlo Guthrie, Judy Collins and Michelle Phillips.

If you're looking for something to stream this week on Netflix, go with this documentary.

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

Tuesday, June 16, 2015.  Chaos and violence continue, Haider al-Abadi gets closer to Iran, some Iraqi officials have even closer ties to Iran, Brett McGurk yet again outlines what DoD will do in Iraq while failing to note the State Dept's role, Nouri al-Maliki lurks in the background, and much more.

Tell Congress to end U.S. warfare in Iraq:                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 

Do Iraqis care whether it's Bully Boy Bush or Barack bombing them?

And are they longing to be led by Iraqi turncoats who fought on the side of Iran during the Iraq-Iran war?

  • Qasim al-Araji is an MP who leads the Badr bloc in Parliament.  Hadi al-Amari is the Minister of Transportation and the head of the Badr miliita. Mohammed Salem al-Ghabban is the Minister of the Interior.

    It really is amazing how many traitors to Iraq are now in the government of Iraq.

    Rudaw notes, "Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi is expected in Tehran on Wednesday in order to meet with top Iranian top officials, according to a Baghdad government announcement."  AFP reminds, "With its forces in disarray last June, Baghdad turned to volunteer forces that are dominated by Iran-backed Shiite militias for support, and they have proved instrumental to Iraqi gains against ISIS."

    While he trolls to Tehran, his government is in shambles.  Over 7,000 detainees are currently sentenced to die and the Ministry of Justice is carrying out executions while bypassing the presidency council.

    The presidency council -- the president of Iraq and its vice presidents -- is the only group authorized to sign off on an execution.  That's per Iraq's Constitution and if the Ministry of Justice is not in compliance with the Constitution, the Minister of Justice Haidar Zamili should be removed from his post.

    While Haider hurries to bow and scrape in Tehran, cleric and movement leader Moqtada al-Sadr speaks to French television.  France 24 notes:

    Sadr was interviewed by FRANCE 24’s Michel Kik on June 13, 2015, in the cleric’s office in the Iraqi city of Najaf, in the Shiite heartland of southern Iraq.
    In characteristic form, Sadr also lashed out against Washington for “sowing divisions” in the Middle East. “America gives arms to Sunnis, to Shiites, to Kurds, heightening sectarianism and ethnic tensions,” he said.

    Real Clear Politics offers a partial transcription:

    MOQTADA AL-SADR: I would like to convey a message to the Americans. The American intervention displays that the U.S. can no longer claim to be a super power. The Islamic State group only has 5,000 members according to estimates, and the world's biggest super power has not been able to defeat this terrorist group in Syria, Iraq, and other regions, so the U.S. can no longer claim they are a super power.

    FRANCE 24 INTERVIEWER: That is the question. What is the objective of the Americans? Some say the U.S. support the Islamic State organization, others say Americans dropping weapons. There are many assumptions doing the rounds about this. What in your view is the goal? Why don't the U.S. want to get rid of this organization?

    MOQTADA AL-SADR: The Americans always do the same thing. First of all, they create discord somewhere, and then they stoke the fire. Exacerbate tensions with weapons, by fostering sectarianism, exacerbating the tensions, and the Americans let the protagonists kill each other, the watch the situation and they enjoy the bloodshed.

    National Iraqi News Agency notes that Moqtada has declared Iraq is at "its worst now" and that, "Iraq is sinking into a spiral of violence."

    And as it sinks, will trash rise?

    Specifically, will former prime minister and forever thug Nouri al-Maliki use the conditions to stage a comeback or coup?

    Guy Taylor (Washington Examiner) reports on how US officials believe Nouri is currently thwarting any efforts new prime minister Haider al-Abadi might make towards reaching a political solution in Iraq:

    The Obama administration continues to publicly back Mr. al-Abadi. But in private, several high-level U.S. officials from the intelligence community and the administration echoed Mr. Mufriji’s assertions and voiced frustration that Mr. al-Maliki is trying to play the spoiler.
    Those officials, who spoke anonymously with The Times, said a big part of the problem is that Mr. al-Maliki — not Mr. al-Abadi — holds the most sway over Shiite militias leading the fight against the Islamic State, despite a desire by many Sunni tribes in the nation to take up arms against the extremists. Iraq’s national army, all sides agree, has not performed well in direct engagements with Islamic State fighters.

    Nouri's an easy scapegoat.

    Is he really the reason there's no political solution in Iraq?

    A year ago, Barack Obama declared that a political solution was the only answer to the crises in Iraq.

    A year ago.

    But the US hasn't done anything to aid such a solution.

    In fact, the 'diplomatic arm' of the government has repeatedly confused itself with the Pentagon.

    That was made clear yet again this week when Brett McGurk appeared on NBC's Meet the Press hosted by Chuck Todd.

    I'm joined by Ambassador Brett McGurk. He's the president's diplomatic eyes on the ground in Iraq, and an ISIS expert these days. His official is Deputy Special Presidential Envoy for the Global Coalition to Counter ISIL or ISIS. He is also key advisor to President George W. Bush on Iraq and Afghanistan, and he just returned from Iraq on Thursday. Welcome to Meet the Press.

    Thank you. I'm honored to be here.

    Let me ask it this way. Obviously the president's plan really depends on a functioning Iraqi military. What do 450 advisors going to need $20 billion in training the Iraqi army hasn't done?

    Well, Chuck, we're of course, nine months into what's going to be a long-term campaign. And what the announcement the president made this week is designed we've looked at what really works. And we had a training mission, which is longer term, we also have an advise and assist mission. And we found that every time we have advised and assisted Iraqi forces' tribal fighters, the Kurds, they've been very effective against ISIS.

    Taqaddum Air Base is centrally located right between Ramadi and Fallujah. After Ramadi fell, about three weeks ago, we saw Iraqi forces consolidate. You know, when Mosul fell, five Iraqi divisions completely disintegrated. Ramadi was a little different. They actually retreated, consolidated, they reset their headquarters of Taqaddum Air Base. And Prime Minister Abadi asked us to come to help him to train to plan to recruit Sunni fighters to take back territory.

    We looked at that. And based upon success we've had in other areas of Anbar Province, at Al Asad Air Base, we've been working there since November with three tribes. They're mobilized, they're fighting. And the Iraqi Seventh, the first Iraqi Army division is out there fighting. And they've actually had some real success. So what the National Security Council Team and the president we said, "What's worked, what hasn't worked?" The advise and assist mission has been very effective. We think that Taqaddum, we can really make some gains there.

    It seems as if whether you want to go back to the surge or go to this plan that you just described, that you say is taking what works, the common denominator is this: as long as the United States is there, Iraq can be cobbled together. The minute you try to withdraw the American presence, Iraq falls apart. It's been that way now for 14 years. How is that ever going to change?

    Well, it's a question we ask ourselves every day, let me say two things. I think we have to keep in mind what the enemy ISIS is. We've looked at it very closely. Main assessment last summer and it still holds. It is better in every respect than its predecessor, Al Qaeda in Iraq. It's better manned, it's better equipped, they're better fighters. And we remember what it took for U.S. forces to defeat that enemy.

    It's also a real threat to the United States. This is something we've never seen before. The number of fighters, the number of Jihadist fighters coming into Syria right now, about 24,000, depending on who's counting, but it's about twice as many that went into Afghanistan over ten years to fight the Soviet Union in 1980s. We know what that led to.

    So we have to get our hands on this. It's why we built a global coalition to defeat it and many facets, including the foreign fighter flow. But in Iraq, we're not trying to make Iraq into a Jeffersonian democracy and a perfect place. Prime Minister Abadi's vision for the government is much more federalism, much more local control.

    As Sunnis rise up to take on ISIS, they're going to have much more autonomy in their provinces. It's called a functioning federalism, it's consistent with their constitution, and we've been working with them. I was in Iraq last week

    It's a partition with an umbrella. It's a three partition, but with a little bit of a federal umbrella

    It's a constitutional federalist framework. Now I was in Iraq last week, you know, talking not only to the central government leaders, but the governor of Anbar Province, the local tribal leaders, I just got off the phone with some of our commanders in the field. Now that we're based in Taqaddum, and working with the tribal committee in Anbar, we're gonna see over the next week, I think pretty soon some new tribal fighters coming in to get equipped and get into the fight.

    I'm going to ask you about something the former president George Bush said this week in an interview with an Israel media outlet. He said this, "A fair number of people in our country were saying that the was impossible to defeat Al Qaeda in Iraq, which is ISIS as far as I'm concerned. They said I must get out of Iraq. But I chose the opposite. I sent 30,000 more troops as opposed to 30,000 fewer.

    "I think history will show that Al Qaeda in Iraq was defeated. And so I chose the path of boots on the ground. And we'll whether or not our government adjusts to the realities on the ground." He's essentially, first time we've heard him directly, I think, criticize the strategy. If he thinks there has to be boots on the ground, why is he wrong?

    Well, Chuck, I've worked closely with two presidents. And I think the strategy we have now, it was a different time. When we were in Iraq before, we were there, we had real authority to do whatever we wanted. We're there now at the invitation of the Iraqi government. And we have to work very closely with them.

    But the president made, again, specifically tailored to what works, we're there to advise and assist, to get Sunni tribal fighters into the fight, to work with Iraqis to reconsolidate and get their plan together. Every time we've advised and assisted an Iraqi operation, it's been successful. In northern Syria, as we speak, the Kurds, with Arab Free Syrian Army Fighters, and some Christian organized units, they're really giving a beating to ISIS.

    And they're very close to cutting off the main supply route that ISIS has in its capital of Raqqa. So there's a lot going on, Chuck. I think we'll watch the Euphrates Valley over the next six months, from Raqqa, to Ramadi, to Fallujah--

    We're going to be focused there.

    Those six months, success or failure depends on--


    Specifically in Anbar province. That's where we're focused. 

    Did Brett talk about a political solution?


    He talked about everything but a political solution.

    Last week, Barack Obama made some remarks that continue to haunt him.  One person sounding off?  Former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates.  Martin Matishak (The Hill) speaks with Gates:

    “Just adding another few hundred troops doing more of the same I think is not likely to make much of a difference,” he said.
    “We have to figure out what our strategy is. We should have had a strategy a year ago that took into account differences within the Iraqi government and the sectarian difference in the country and so on,” Gates added. 

    Gates is far from the only one concerned with Barack's more of the same passed off as 'strategy' or a 'plan.'  The editorial board of the Baltimore Sun weighs in:

    The chances that a few hundred more American advisers can turn the situation around are remote unless Iraqi leaders can get their act together and unify the country against ISIS. Until that happens, sending more U.S. troops only serves as window dressing for a continued U.S. withdrawal from the region.
    After years of U.S. effort and billions of dollars spent training and equipping the Iraqi security forces, only to see them suffer a humiliating setback when Islamic State fighters captured the city of Ramadi last month, it's clear the U.S. strategy isn't working. Airstrikes by the U.S.-led coalition haven't stopped ISIS advances on the ground, and U.S. commanders openly admit that plans to retake the major Iraqi city of Mosul, which fell to the insurgents last summer, are now on hold indefinitely. There's no telling how long the current military stalemate will last, but ISIS clearly has the advantage.
    [. . .]
    We are first to admit that there is no easy solution here, but the American public is being ill served by any suggestion that what Mr. Obama is doing will make the slightest difference. Sending a few hundred troops merely gives the impression that he is taking action while really just kicking the can down the road for the next American president to contend with.


    At Reuters, Peter Van Buren shares his take which includes:

    This is likely only the beginning of Obama’s surge. General Martin Dempsey, chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, outlined the establishment of what he called “lily pads” — American base-lets scattered around the country. Of course, like Taqaddum, these lily pads will require hundreds more American military advisers to serve as flies, at risk of being snapped up by an Islamic State frog.  Any attack on U.S. troops would require a response, a cycle that could draw the U.S. deeper into open conflict.
    The new strategy also revises the role of American troops in Iraq. “Advise and assist” is the new “training.” While careful to say Americans would not engage in combat per se, signals suggest advice and assistance will be dispensed quite close to the front.
    In sum: More troops, more bases, more forward-leaning roles, all operating at times against the will of a host government the United States appears to have lost patience with. The bright light of victory is years down a long tunnel.
    We’ve seen this before. It was Vietnam.
    Some details are different. The jumps from air power to trainers to advisors to combat troops took years in the Vietnam War. Obama has reached the advisor stage in just months. The Iranians fighting in Iraq do share a short-term goal with the United States in pushing back Islamic State, but like the Russians and Chinese in Vietnam, ultimately have an agenda in conflict with American policy.

    Meanwhile, similarities scream. As in Vietnam, a series of U.S.-midwifed governments in Baghdad have failed to follow Washington’s orders; they have proceeded independently amid incompetence and corruption. Both wars are characterized as good versus evil (baby killers in Vietnam, jihadis chopping off heads with swords in Iraq); both were sold under questionable pretenses (humanitarian intervention in Iraq, reaction to an alleged but doubtful attack on U.S. Navy ships in the Gulf of Tonkin in 1964) and as part of a great global struggle (against communism, against Islamic extremism). Despite the stakes claimed, few allies, if any, join in. In each war, the titular national army — trained, advised and retrained at great cost — would not fight for its country. The host country is charged with ultimate responsibility for resolving its (American-created) problems, even as America assumes a greater role.

    And on the ground in Iraq, the dying continues.  Margaret Griffis ( counts 275 violent deaths across Iraq today.  275 dead doesn't have the bright spin Brett McGurk likes to offer -- maybe the reason that the administration avoids talking about the dead unless it's the dead killed by US war planes dropping bombs from overhead -- at which point, it's talk of dead 'terrorists' while repeatedly ignoring that all the dead are not terrorists and that these bombs have killed a large number of civilians.


    Tuesday, June 16, 2015

    The dullness of her

    barack post-tpa vote

    That's Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts "Barack Post-TPA Vote" and it and my "Kat's Korner: Steve Grand's Perfect Summer Soundtrack" went up Sunday.

    I have no idea when this went up.

    It's Hillary Clinton's 14 track playlist on Spotify.

    I wasn't impressed.

    In fact, it reminded me of the Celine Dion song she either picked as her 2008 campaign song or almost picked.

    Her list is generic and features nothing unique.

    It's a lot of plastic meant to make her likable.

    There's not one unique -- or even oddball -- selection.

    It says nothing about her other than "I want to be liked."

    And that's how she kicks off her presidential campaign?

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

    Monday, June 15, 2015. Chaos and violence continue, War Hawk Hillary formally announces her campaign and offers not one remark on Iraq, the military brass balks at Barack's full on war plans, we look at who can speak out and who remains silent, and much more.

    If only the insight of art translated easily into the action of activism and 'activism.'

    Sometimes it seems
    We'll touch that dream
    But things come slow or not at all
    And the ones on top, won't make it stop
    So convinced that they might fall
    Let's love ourselves and we can't fail
    To make a better situation
    Tomorrow, our seeds will grow
    All we need is dedication
    Let me tell ya that
    -- "Everything Is Everything," written by Lauryn Hill and Johari Newton, first appears on The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill

    The peace movement in the US fell apart and as it allowed itself to become a cheerleader for then-candidate Barack Obama (and how's that working out?).  Margaret Kimberley (Black Agenda Report) sees hope in the United National Antiwar Coalition.  And certainly the Black Is Back Coalition has demonstrated a backbone and refused to stay silent and refused to lie.

    This week's. Black Agenda Radio, hosted by Glen Ford and Nellie Bailey (first airs each Monday at 4:00 pm EST on the Progressive Radio Network),  features Black Is Back Coalition Chair Omali Yeshitela offering some realities including on how his group never fell into the trap of promoting war -- not even Barack Obama's wars.

    Omali Yehitela: We didn't claim to be fortunetellers or anything of the kind but we knew the nature of the social system that we were confronted with, that we were dealing with, and we know that the system wouldn't do us any favor by handing us some great guy who was going to represent the interests of Africans or the oppressed people of the world -- of that we were absolutely confident. And so we were able to look beyond the manifestation of wonderful, post-racial situation that was being offered up to us and to the people. And I think what was really critical about this and something that    perhaps we need to talk about to some extent at our conference in August is that there is something wrong that there were so many people who called themselves leaders, groups, organizations, personalities who were dead wrong on this, who held up Obama for the people, who raised no criticism for the people and I loathe to think just how absolute this thing would have been for Obama and for imperalism had not the Black Is Back Coalition been on the scene up to now.

    Glen Ford:  And the Black Is Back coalition has taken note over these years about who those forces were, how they behaved and how they're pretending to have behaved now.

    Omali Yeshitela:  [Laughs] Indeed.  And me and you were one of the key people doing that.  I mean, you debated virtually everyone of those who had the courage to come out and publicly state support for impearlism through Obama.  And subsequently over the last several months, as you just suggested, the position that people had at the moment, they've been morphing, and we're getting a certain kind of historical revisionism coming along that they really didn't support him all the way, they just kind of supported him from some of them.  But there's even some die hards who, up to now, who are claiming that Obama is the best thing to happen to African people since white bread

     A lot of liars have done a lot of damage.

    They've wrecked the peace and social justice movement in the US and done it for partisan politics.

    They're still around, these hacks and whores.  CodeStink, for example, is pimping the military as the new peace movement -- when the reality is Barack and his administration are so war hungry that even the military brass are putting the brakes on them.

    They're missing the point as always.

    Greg Jaffe and Missy Ryan (Washington Post) report, "As President Obama was weighing how to halt Islamic State advances in Iraq, some of the strongest resistance to boosting U.S. involvement came from a surprising place: a war-weary military that has grown increasingly skeptical that force can prevail in a conflict fueled by political and religious grievances."

    We noted that last night and CodeStink found it on Monday and saw it as proof that 'we are winning!' when the reality is that any thinking person reading the article would have grasped this was not about peace but about how big the war goals of Barack really are that even the military brass is balking.

    When we noted it last night, we were talking about the Twitter idiots who obsess over Bully Boy Bush or Dick Cheney.

    War Criminals.

    I'm not afraid to say it, I've not been afraid to say it.

    While many were too scared to speak out under Bully Boy Bush (the same way they are under Barack), we called a War Criminal a "War Criminal."

    There is a very limited space for Iraq coverage in the US and it really is disgusting to see whores try to crowd out that space with their partisan crap that has nothing to do with what's going on in Iraq today.  If Bully Boy Bush were in the White House overseeing the Iraq War, I would be calling him out right now (as I did when he was in the White House).  But he's long gone and I'm not going to masturbate to revenge fantasies about him in order to pimp the Democratic Party's goals.

    Iraq is still a political football in the US which is among the reasons there is so little honesty about Iraq today.

    Dahr Jamail has a new -- or 'new' -- article supposedly about Iraq at Truthout.  It's the first time he's noted Iraq since April 13th -- over two months ago.  And back then, he wasn't noting current events either.

    A woman wants to sue Bully Boy Bush and company for the illegal war.

    Ramsey Clark is on board with it.

    Can you please stop boring the s**t out of me?

    Reality, nothing is going to come from this case.

    The Iraq War is an illegal one -- it's also an ongoing one, pay attention, Dahr.  The US court system will never recognize that.  It didn't with Vietnam and it won't with Iraq.

    This is masturbation, not news coverage.

    The Iraqi woman, Sundus Saleh, has every right to speak out.

    She has every right to try to sue.

    But the courts will find that she has no standing and this will not end up in the Supreme Court.

    It's just not happening and deluding this woman into thinking that she's got a case is pretty s**tty.

    (So is making a woman think she can trust Ramsey.  From Jane Fonda to Lynne Stewart, Ramsey's managed to skate away while the women have been left holding the blame for actions they and Ramsey took.  It must be nice to be the son of a late Supreme Court judge if that means they go after Lynne and imprison her while they let you walk.)

    But more to the point, what the hell does this have to do with what's going on in Iraq right now?

    Dahr's avoided that for how many months?

    Let's not pretend that these slam-Bully-Boy-Bush 'reports' are about anything other than whoring for the Democratic Party.

    Revolution Newspaper notes where we are today:

    On June 10, Barack Obama announced he was sending “450 additional U.S. military personnel to train, advise, and assist Iraqi Security Forces at Taqaddum military base in eastern Anbar province”—a new base in western Iraq, where the Islamic State (or ISIS) has been on the offensive. This brings the total number of U.S. troops and “advisors” in Iraq up to 3,500.
    Two U.S. invasions of Iraq, and a decade of occupation in various forms, have turned Iraq into a living hell for the people there. Since 1991, U.S. invasions and sanctions have led to the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Iraqi people, with children, the elderly, and the most vulnerable suffering the most. Millions of people in Iraq and neighboring Syria, which is wracked with a war between reactionary powers that has been in large part exacerbated by the U.S., have been driven from their homes.
    In Iraq, the basic physical and social coherence of society has been shredded, depriving people of basic necessities like clean water, medical care, sewage, and education. Brutal Sharia law (Islamic fundamentalist rules that, among other things, mandate severe oppression of women) is in effect. Iraq’s culture was literally looted from museums as a direct result, or as a byproduct, of U.S. occupation.

    Any new U.S. troops Obama is sending to Iraq will add to all those horrors. They represent a new step in a set of related moves by the Obama administration to re-insert the U.S. military into Iraq.
    [, , ,]
    The 450 U.S. troops on their way to Iraq are part of the Obama administration’s plan to respond to the situation. They will become part of, and expand, a network of bases around Iraq. The stated purpose of these bases is to train and direct the Iraqi army, along with other militias, with the idea that these forces can be deployed to kill and die for those objectives of the U.S. empire. Not stated in public pronouncements, but very importantly, this network of bases could serve as an infrastructure and scaffolding that could be quickly built up and expanded if and when the U.S. sees a necessity to send many more troops into Iraq at any point, for any reason.

    These bases already exist in the Iraqi cities of Al Asad, Besmaya, Erbil, and Taji, where more than 9,000 Iraqi troops have already been trained, with an additional 3,000 currently in training, essentially under the command of 3,000 U.S. “advisors” (and, according to many reports, about an equal number of “private contractors”).

    These are the issues that aren't being addressed at Truthout and elsewhere as everyone enlists in the two year political campaign of the Democratic Party.

    That would be the party that promised, in 2006, to end the war if they were given one house of Congress.  They were given both houses of Congress in the 2006 mid-term election.

    They didn't end the war.

    And even now the posers like US House Rep Barbara Lee can do little more than whine that Congress needs to vote on Barack's latest actions.

    They do nothing.

    On Saturday, Thomas Gaist (WSWS) reported on current events and on the remarks of Gen Martin Dempsey, Chair of the Joint Chiefs:

    The new US garrisons will house further deployments of hundreds more US troops, beyond the deployment of an additional 450 US forces announced by the Obama administration on Wednesday.
    The Pentagon aims to establish a chain of “lily pads, if you will, that allow us to continue to encourage the Iraqi security forces forward,” Dempsey said. US military planners are already looking at possible locations for bases in central Iraq, he added.
    “We’re looking all the time at whether there might be additional sites necessary,” Dempsey said while speaking to reporters during a visit to Europe this week.

    The US currently maintains a force of some 3,100 troops in Iraq, a figure set to increase to nearly 3,600 as a result of the new deployment announced Wednesday.

    That's World Socialist Web Site.

    And elsewhere?

    The Progressive?  That pathetic rag hasn't offered one word on Iraq, not one word on the announcement that Barack is sending still more US troops into Iraq, not a word on the plan for bases.

    Bur the moronic Ruth Conniff is in charge now and, remember, she boasted to KPFA in 2006 that, in her gated community, no one had been touched by the Iraq War.

    And she thought that was something to boast of and be proud of.

    The Nation has offered no serious critique of Barack's announced plans.

    Earlier this month, they did print a fairy tale for their idiotic readers.   "It’s worth noting that many of the people pulling Obama into these strategic choices are the same ones who cheered us into the war in Iraq. "

    If he's that much of a weakling, that much of a coward, he shouldn't be President of the United States.

    But the reality is that he's not being "pulled" anywhere, he's doing what he wants to do.

    And there is something very troubling and deeply racist about The Nation's repeated needs to strip agency from a person of color.

    They're trying to portray him as a saint but the reality is that they're making him out to be a powerless fool.  And that's deeply racist, regardless of the intent.

    What The Nation, The Progressive, Amy Goodman and all their ilk ignore, Michael Brenner (Huffington Post) explores:

    5. Locating the new base in Anbar province between insurgent held Ramadi and Falluja conforms to this scheme. For that location makes sense only if the American troops there foresaw some kind of combat role. Training, in theory, could occur anywhere in the country. The new advisers will be stationed at Taqaddum, an Iraqi base near the city of Habbaniya. It will supplement the American teams operating at another nearby Anbar location, al-Asad. This large air base already is in a vulnerable position being surrounded by ISIL controlled territory.
    6. General Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, now has made explicit what was only implied in the original announcement. Dempsey delineated a strategy that entails a string of what he called "lily pads" -- American military bases around the country designed to fragment and weaken ISIL forces. "You could see one in the corridor from Baghdad to Tikrit to Kirkuk to Mosul." General Dempsey acknowledged that such sites would require many more troops than those already authorized.
    7. This deployment mode increases the already high likelihood that the American forces soon will shooting and being shot. The most compelling argument for this shift to combat activities is the imperative to defend American lives. Let us recall that this was the original justification for the initial air strikes to protect American citizens threatened by ISIL near Kirkuk last summer -- and the intense reaction to the beheading of James Foley

    Instead of exploring that, too many rush to whore.  There's no whore like John Nichols.  Remember, this is the man who wrote the book on impeachment and was all set to promote it until Nancy Pelosi declared impeachment was off the table.  At which point, he ceased promoting his book.  John Nichols savaged Hillary in 2007 and 2008 as she sought the Democratic Party's presidential nomination.  He savaged her sometimes with truth (there's a lot in her 'resume') but mostly with lies.  So it is hilarious to watch him try to come to grips with whoring for Hillary -- he's doing it and it's hilarious.

    Treating Iraq as the past allows Hillary's support for the Iraq War to be explained away and dismissed.  Didn't she address it in her book?

    Of course, if you can't take accountability in front of people for your mistakes, you write about them in a book and pretend that's counts as an exchange and a full accounting.

    Hillary voted for the war.  She supported it.

    But if people would try, for just a moment, to focus on Iraq today, the biggest issue is not whether or not you would have voted for the Iraq War.

    If you're trying to become the next President of the United States, the biggest issue regarding Iraq is what plan you have for it?

    Does Hillary have one?

    Haven't heard her address it.

    Now, check the archives, we cautioned the glory hog to quit lying that she was in charge of Iraq.

    See, the DoD mission became a State Dept mission.

    And while she was Secretary of State, her primary Iraq related duty was the budget.

    But she's a glory hog and had to pretend that she was in charge.  (Joe Biden was in charge and the second on it was Samantha Power.)

    Well, she lied.

    And now she has to live with the lie.

    She has spent years claiming to be in charge of Iraq.

    So she needs to answer how it fell apart (again) under her watch.

    Instead of doing that, she wastes everyone's time.  That includes her 'announcement' Saturday that she was running for the Democratic Party's presidential nomination.

    Yes, everything about her is fake-ass even waiting this late to announce the obvious.

    Of her Saturday nonsense, Patrick Martin (WSWS) observes:

    Clinton’s speech was notable for its near-silence on foreign policy, aside from a few sentences threatening China, Russia, North Korea and Iran. This is a remarkable omission for someone who served as US secretary of state for four years. There was no mention of the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Libya or Ukraine. She said nothing of drone warfare or the NSA spying on the telecommunications and Internet usage of every American.
    Of all the candidates, Clinton has the longest and closest ties to the military-intelligence apparatus, going back to her years in her husband’s White House, followed by eight years on the Senate Armed Services Committee and four years as the chief representative of American imperialism overseas.
    Millions of people voted for Obama in 2008 in the mistaken hope that he would end the wars launched under the Bush administration, only to see the Obama-Biden-Clinton administration expand the war in Afghanistan, attack Libya, intervene in Syria and Yemen, relaunch the war in Iraq and provoke conflicts with nuclear-armed Russia and China in Ukraine and the South China Sea. Behind the backs of the American people, the ruling class is plotting world war.

    Clinton chose not to present this record in her official campaign kickoff because of the widespread antiwar sentiment in the American population. The American people will be given no alternative between a bellicose Republican presidential nominee and a Democrat equally fervent in her willingness to use military force to promote the global interests of American imperialism.

    Margaret Griffis ( counts 129 violent deaths in Iraq today.  So why isn't candidate Clinton being asked what her plan for Iraq is?

    Shouldn't she have one?  After four years as Secretary of State, shouldn't she be able to publicly address the issue?

    Or are we expected to listen to the nonsense about her dead mother?

    We all had a mother.  Some are living, some are dead.

    Hillary needs to stop using dead people to justify her ambition.

    That's probably the biggest lie she tells, pushing her ambition -- there's nothing wrong with ambition -- off on others and refusing to own it or to cop to it.

    So she uses her dead mother in one speech after another to make that the narrative.

    If you lied as much as Hillary, you'd base your remarks on a dead person who couldn't counter or comment.

    129 killed in one day -- at least 129 -- and the woman who's used the press to pimp her campaign for months finally announces officially on Saturday and she has nothing to say about Iraq?

    And the bulk of the press pretend not to notice.