Thursday, April 15, 2021

Iraq snapshot

 Thursday, April 15, 2021.  Joe Biden speaks, will he deliver?


US President Joe Biden lied to the American people yet again in a speech broadcast last night.  Patrick Martin (WSWS) observes:


US President Joe Biden announced Wednesday afternoon that the remaining American troops in Afghanistan would begin pulling out on May 1 and that all of them would be withdrawn from Afghanistan by September 11, 2021.

The choice of a final withdrawal date was intended to reinforce the longstanding lie by Washington that its invasion and occupation of Afghanistan were in response to the terrorist attacks on New York and Washington on September 11, 2001. In reality, the attack on Afghanistan was in preparation well before that date, and the invasion was aimed at accomplishing long-term strategic aims for American imperialism.The televised statement from the White House and the accompanying media buildup, however, could not dispel the atmosphere of futility and failure that surrounds the withdrawal—if, indeed, the final pullout takes place on schedule.

Biden reportedly rejected pleas by Pentagon and CIA officials that any pullout should be “conditions-based,” i.e., conditional on some sort of agreement between the Taliban insurgents and the Kabul puppet regime established by the United States. By one account, citing an unnamed “senior administration official,” Biden viewed such an approach as “a recipe for staying in Afghanistan forever.”

While warning the Taliban not to attack American forces or their NATO allies during the withdrawal period, Biden indicated that there were no circumstances in which he would reverse his decision. He only left open the threat that US military force could be employed against any possible terrorist threat to the United States, a warning that applies to virtually every country in the world.

While there are officially 2,500 US troops in Afghanistan and another 6,500 from other NATO countries, press reports indicate that the actual number of American soldiers is 3,500. This does not count thousands of other American personnel, from CIA agents to mercenaries to Special Forces paratroopers, who are likely to continue operations in that country as long as Washington feels it necessary to prop up the Kabul regime, which has no other base of support.

[. . .]

In his remarks Wednesday, Biden referred to the 2,300 American soldiers killed in Afghanistan, the tens of thousands of wounded and $2 trillion expended on 20 years of war. He made no reference whatsoever to the catastrophic impact on the Afghan people and on Afghanistan as a society, one of many destroyed by American imperialism over the past two decades, along with Iraq, Syria, Libya, Yemen and large parts of northern Africa.

Similarly, there has been virtually no mention in the US media of the damage and the colossal loss of life inflicted by American forces. Instead, there were crocodile tears about the savagery of the Taliban and the likelihood of severe setbacks for women’s rights should the fundamentalist religious group come to power again in Kabul.

One of the most cynical efforts to portray Biden’s decision as a humanitarian and even progressive action came from David Sanger, the designated recipient of leaks from the CIA and Pentagon at the New York Times. He wrote that Biden was pulling out troops at least in part because “he wants the United States focused on a transformational economic and social agenda at home,” adding that in Biden’s view “the priorities are fighting poverty and racial inequities and increasing investment in broadband, semiconductors, artificial intelligence and 5G communications—not using the military to prop up the government of President Ashraf Ghani.” He concluded, “In the end, the argument that won the day is that the future of Kenosha is more important than defending Kabul.”

The resources squandered by American imperialism in Afghanistan will not go to rebuild deindustrialized cities in the Midwest, however. They will be redeployed against the major targets of Washington, in Russia and China.


The war on Afghanistan did not start because of 9/11.  The Taliban did not attack the United States on September 11, 2001.  They were asked to hand over Osama bin Laden and others in al Qaeda.  Their reply was they wanted to see some evidence of a connection to the crime.  That's really not uncommon.  When one country wants another country to hand someone over (think Julian Assange who continues to be persecuted by the US government), they present a case and some backing information that they believe justifies extradition.  The US government refused to provide any.  Bellicose and belligerent, the Bully Boy Bush regime conveyed through then-Secretary of State Collie The Blot Powell that they would provide their supporting evidence after -- after -- the extraditions took place.  Some will or have read that to mean that the US had no proof connecting Osama bin Laden to the 9/11 attack and that might be (FBI judgments in the early '00s would fuel that belief) but it also likely that the refusal to provide support for the demand was just the usual US government looking down on other countries and try to bully others into getting their way.


Joe connected it to 9/11 without explaining that the Taliban had stated they needed supporting evidence to do the deportation.  The refusal to deport is what led to the war on Afghanistan.


Like the Iraq War (and Iraq wars), the Afghanistan War accomplished nothing but death and destruction.  All these years later, there's still a non-functioning government in place, a corrupt government, an abusive government.  Again, just like Iraq.


At THE AMERICAN PROPSECT, Sarah Leah Whitson offers:


Thirty years ago, some classmates and I took a break from our studies at Harvard and set out on a self-appointed mission. We traveled to Iraq to investigate the true devastation caused by the U.S.-led coalition’s bombardment. Little did we know that the 1991 war would be remembered as a blip in America’s Iraq adventures, now merely called the First Gulf War, to be followed by decades of far greater devastation: 22 years of sanctions and air strikes, a Second Gulf War, military occupation, and what’s now just another one of our global endless wars.

Today, the country remains in shambles, and the Iraqi people are left holding the bag. Purveyors of American empire and Iraqi desperation never tire of offering up fresh justifications to give the U.S. just one more go at a fix. But it really is time for the U.S. to step aside, as it’s been promising to do for far too long. For those focused on the welfare of the people of Iraq, but still driven, despite the overwhelming evidence of three decades, to seek help from the U.S. government, it’s past time to come to terms with the reality that U.S. policies have never helped the Iraqi people.


[. . .]

And so again, our group returned to Iraq, just before the war in January 2003, this time in a bid to bring Nobel Peace Prize laureates Nelson Mandela and Jimmy Carter to the country to negotiate a last-ditch resolution to the conflict. We failed. Instead, Bush pursued the calamity of the U.S. war, with strong bipartisan support, as prominent Democrats fell over themselves to establish their war-hawk credentials: Then-Sen. Joe Biden, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, voted for the war, as did then-Sen. Hillary Clinton, with stacked-deck hearings lasting less than two days, engineered by then–Senate Foreign Relations Committee Director Tony Blinken. The war soon became laden with even creepier mission creep than the prior Iraq war: the overthrow of Hussein and calamitous dismantling of Iraqi government institutions, a two-year occupation replete with notorious torture prisons and military contractors run amok, and the installation of a hand-picked Shia-dominated, Iran-influenced government facing ever-emergent Sunni resistance militias. The war and the government system established by the U.S. solidified the notion of the country as split between Sunnis and Shias.

One corrupt and brutal sectarian administration after another tried to quash new uprisings by Iraqis aggrieved by their rule, particularly in the Sunni provinces, bolstered with what became permanent U.S. military forces providing “essential” military support for their survival. The U.S. spent tens of billions more on advisers to new Iraqi governments, providing advice on constitution drafting, governance, and reconstruction, even, of course, rebuilding the electrical plants we destroyed in 1991; estimates of the cost of the war and its aftermath run to $2 trillion. Much if not most of the money was spent in military aid to bolster Iraq’s security forces. Even after the formal “withdrawal” of U.S troops in 2011 under President Obama, over 5,000 defense contractors and 20,000 embassy and consulate personnel, all with diplomatic immunity, remained in the country to service over $10 billion in arms deals and “train and advise” Iraqi security forces. The U.S. also continued to determine fateful political outcomes for the country, most disastrously with then–Vice President Joe Biden tipping the scales to ensure Nouri Al-Maliki’s re-election as prime minister, despite warning bells that Maliki had become increasingly sectarian, violent, and authoritarian.

Sadly, the post-occupation Iraqi security forces emerged as unjust and brutal as their predecessors, as mountains of human rights reports attest. There was a time when an Iraqi or Kurdish security official would be embarrassed when confronted with evidence of torture, mass executions, massacres, burning of homes, and razing of villages, unfavorably comparing them to the tyrant under whom they themselves had suffered. But with time, the shame faded and only the repression remained. By 2013, following the Maliki government’s multiple massacres of Sunni protesters, I warned that a civil war was imminent.


Read in full.   Wonder why the US remains in Iraq.  


B-b-b-ut Joe said troops were coming out of Afghanistan!!!!


He says a lot of things  Donald Trump said some things from time to time.  He promised to end the Iraq War when campaigning in 2016.  But he didn't.  He did (finally) reduce the troop level a little.  Take a look at how we covered it -- with skepticism and noting it wasn't what was promised or what was needed.  


We didn't fall for Barack Obama's lies either.  


Joe's lies?  As Vice President, he was over Iraq.  Sarah's condensing a huge time period in her article because it's a huge time period to cover.  Most of the sentences in her essay could be developed into three to four paragraphs or even individual papers.  


But let's note two things Joe-related.


In 2010, Iraq held elections.  She notes Joe backed Nouri al-Maliki:


The U.S. also continued to determine fateful political outcomes for the country, most disastrously with then–Vice President Joe Biden tipping the scales to ensure Nouri Al-Maliki’s re-election as prime minister, despite warning bells that Maliki had become increasingly sectarian, violent, and authoritarian.


Again, that's 2010.  And Nouri's thuggish ways were already well known.  For years.  In fact, Joe Biden was in charge of Iraq because Nouri's ways were well known.


Huh?


Hillary Clinton was Secretary of State in 2010.  The drawdown (passed off as a "withdrawal") would see the State Dept put over Iraq -- DoD handed off to them.  But Joe would continue to be the one over Iraq.


Why?


Because in an open hearing in 2008 (April of 2008, we covered it) ,Hillary Clinton noted that Nouri was a thug.  She used the term "thug."  It was an accurate description.  But it was a very well covered hearing, the press was out in full force.  You had David Petraeus and Ryan Crocker spending the week appearing before various Congressional committees to resell the Iraq War.  They brought press attention.  Also bringing press attention?  Senators Hillary and Barack.  They were both running for the Democratic Party's presidential nomination.  So the press was out in full force.


Well -- not full force.  Spencer Ackerman had decided that 'reporting' meant lying for his candidate of choice (Barack) and refusing to cover Hillary in the hearing where she was so much stronger and more forceful than Barack who arrived late but got to jump ahead of the line because Chair John Kerry always thought Barack was cute and dreamy -- bromance?  More like brolust.  Spencer was watching the hearing via TV or internet and 'live blogging' it but he missed out on Hillary's 20-plus minutes and insisted he had lost his signal.  No, he'd lost his marbles and was reaching around in his briefs in desperation because Hillary outshined Barack in that hearing.  


So in that hearing, Hillary called Nouri a thug.  Which he is. She wasn't the only one to make that call.  Among the others making the call that week?  Then-Senator Barbara Boxer.  


Because of that moment, Hillary could not be over Iraq, not when Nouri was prime minister (2006 through 2014).  So Barack put Joe over Iraq.  


What few realized was that Joe called Nouri a thug as well.  But it was the least reported on hearing that week (we covered it).  The press was apparently exhausted from the weeks worth of House and Senate hearings on Iraq and they didn't even show for the hearing.  It was a good hearing and both Joe and Senator Russ Feingold made important points in it.  


Nouri lost the 2010 election.  It was a shock to many -- including a lying male reporter' on NPR who called the election for Nouri -- stated he won, not that he was calling it, but that Nouri won -- the day after the election when they didn't even have a third of the votes counted or figures released.


It shouldn't have been a shock.  Joe was tight with Chris Hill -- because idiots run in packs?  Chris was US Ambassador to Iraq at the time.  Ahead of the 2010 election, Chrissy had a hissy.  The press was covering Gen Ray Odierno and not Chrissy!!!!  Chrissy was a pompous ass who said nothing of news value whereas Odierno offered quotes that the press loved to run with.  Odierno also didn't put on airs.  In addition, he was accessible to the media (while Chrissy was famous for being unavailable during working hours because he was napping -- on the job, on the American taxpayers' dime).


So Chrissy whined to Joe and Joe ran to Barack and Ray Odiero was told not to be speaking to the press because Chrissy never got enough validation as a child and this was a trigger incident for him -- why, oh why, couldn't Iraq just be a safe space for Chrissy!


This pulled Ray out of the decision making he should have been in on.  Ahead of the elections, he saw that it was likely Nouri would lose the election (we did too) because bribing people with ice and water right before the elections really doesn't make up for the terror you have inflicted upon them with sectret prisons and torture centers.  Ray stated there was a good chance Nouri would lose and his fear was that Nouri would then refuse to step down.


Which, please remember, is exactly what happened.


He would have to be looped back into the conversation by Hillary and Secretary of Defense Bob Gates.  And Chrissy would leave Iraq before the year was out and leave in disgrace.

.  

Joe said troops out of Afghanistan!  


And he also said, in 2010, that the US would respect the will of the Iraqi people in the election.  But they didn't.  Nouri lost to Ayad Allawi.  And the democratic process should have been bye-bye Nouri.  But then Joe and others (including Samantha Power) decided that the US needed Nouri for 'stability' and because if he was in place, he would agree to troops remaining in Iraq, and because . . .


Votes didn't matter.  The Iraqi people didn't matter.  All that mattered was keeping Nouri in place.  


So Joe oversaw The Erbil Agreement.  This was a legal contract that the various political heads in Iraq signed off on.  It would give Nouri a second term -- something the voters didn't do.  In exchange, the contract gave the various political blocs things they wanted.


Joe put his stamp of approval on.  And it meant nothing -- Joe's word meant nothing.


Nouri used The Erbil Agreement to get his second term and then ignored it until a few months later his spokesperson announced the contract was illegal and Nouri would not be bound by it.  For any confused on the timeline, this is before Nouri's son gets involved in the corrupt Russia deal that requires Nouri turning on the same spokesperson and the spokesperson fleeing the country.


Now the day Nouri was named prime minister-designate -- over 8 months after the election -- Ayad Allawi walked out of the Parliament.  And guess who got on the phone with him?  


Barack Obama.


Most Americans don't even know the name Ayad Allawi.  But he was important enough for the president of the United States to call him.


On that phone call, Barack begged him to get his party back into the Parliament and swore that The Erbil Agreement had the full backing of the US government and would be implemented.


Iraqi leaders learned the hard way what the "full backing of the US government" means = nothing.


Not one damn thing.


Nouri refused to implement the provisions in the contract and the US government refused to pressure him to do so.


Joe said some words last night.  I'm not going to get overly excited.  I regularly shake my head hear at the Kurdish leaders who keep buying the US government's word and keep getting betrayed.  Not only has this happened throughout the ongoing Iraq War, referencing and quoting the Pike Report, we've traced that constant and intentional betrayal back to the administration of Richard Nixon.


Now if I castigate the Kurdish leaders for never learning, I damn well better learn.  And I have learned.  Words are very easy for the US government, action's a lot harder.


Kentucky's WAVE 3 offers the thoughts on local Iraq and Afghanistan War veterans on Joe's remarks.



 

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Ajamu Baraka: For a Peaceful Pacific

 

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