In today's Knight Report, House Democrats have passed a bill that would preserve the war in Iraq until August 2008, maintain half the 150,000 troops currently in Iraq, and offer no opposition to a new war in Iran consistent with the Democratic Leadership Council. I'm Robert Knight, in New York.
House Democrats, operating under the strategic vision of the Democratic Leadership Council, Friday passed yet another resolution that would save the war in Iraq from the impatient will of Congressional voters who gave the Democrats a bi-cameral majority and an anti-war mandate in November mid-term elections. By a margin of 218, which is fourteen short of the 232 Democrats currently in the House, Democrats led by Speaker Nancy Pelosi, narrowly secured passage of HR 1591 -- officially called "The US Troop Readiness, Veterans Health and Iraq Accountability Act of 2007." Pelosi bragged that the measure was "a giant step to end the war and responsibly redeploy our troops out of Iraq."
But in reality, the bill fulfills neither claim. The measure grants President Bush the unimpeded prerogative of maintaining his current escalation in Iraq through October 2007 at which time he is merely requested to self-certify success in his self-defined benchmarks.
Those benchmarks include provisions for the Iraqi occupation regime to reign in death squads
and to enact the US designed and multi-national friendly oil law that is presently before Iraq's absentee occupation parliament.
Regardless of Bush's automatic auto-certifications, no actual troop withdrawals would be required before August 2008 during the height of the national party conventions at which time the Democrats would then blame the Republicans with a war whose continuation they would have guaranteed until the eve of the November 2008 presidential election.
But even when the August deadline matures, Bush would still be allowed to maintain more than half of the 150,000 trooops in Iraq due to a term of art in the legislation that requests the redeployment but not the homecoming of some 70,000 so-called combat troops. This would leave an equal or greater number of US troops in Iraq under the vague but permanent classifications of counter-insurgency, security and training for what New York Senator Hillary Clinton calls "remaining vital national security interests in the heart of the oil region."
The rhetorical flourish of referring only to the withdrawal of combat troops recalls the tactic by which earlier administrations once referred to US soldiers in Vietnam as advisers rather than troops.
Moreover the bill's supposedly stringent requirements that new troops in Iraq receive better training, equipment and recuperation is, in fact, non-binding since Bush could unilaterally waive that requirement by invoking the words "national security" during any future escalations he might contemplate.
The bill also fails to limit war funds or prohibit a new war in Iran and maintains 90% of government funding for the mercenaries and privatized security squads that support military and corporate operations inside Iraq.
It also features a protein-packed pork barrel that subsidizes the spinach, shrimp, and peanut industries to the tune of a quarter billion dollars. The Senate today began debate on its version of the pro-war House measure which faces a White House veto even as the measure is voted through later this week.
Despite the disappointment of anti-war voters who elected the Democratic majority, Pelosi's plan is quite consistent with the latest epistle from the Democratic Leadership Council's Wil Marshall, the president of the 'Progressive' Policy Institute, who declared in January, "It makes little strategic sense for the new majority in Congress to micro-manage troop deployments in Iraq." The neoconservative Democratic maven concluded that, "If there is to be a calamitous, Vietnam style, US defeat in Iraq, Karl Rove would probably like nothing better than to goad Democrats to assuming full responsibility for it. There's no reason to fall into this trap now."
That from the Democratic Leadership Council's 'Progressive' Policy Institute. The conservative Democratic strategy on maintaining the Iraq war, without serious challenge to the Republican White House has suggested to some critics, that the Democrats deserve a new name to match their new vision for Iraq: "The Grand Old Party of the Second Part." From exile in New York, I'm Robert Knight for Flashpoints.
The above is Knight's Knight Report, in full, from yesterday's Knight Report. The Knight Report airs at the start of Flashpoints (minus technical difficulties or illness) Mondays through Thursdays (I believe Fridays were also included when Knight was recently in the Bay Area). The Knight Report is the headlines for the hour long program hosted by Dennis Bernstein and Nora Barrows-Friedman. On Fridays, the last fifteen minutes of the hourly program offers news in Spanish. The program airs live online via Flashpoints and KPFA and also over the airwaves in the Bay Area, from 5:00 pm to 6:00 pm, Monday through Friday. Archived broadcasts can be found at Flashpoints and in the KPFA archives.
Today the US military announced: "A Marine assigned to Multi National Force-West died March 24 while conducting combat operations in Al Anbar Province." When the House measure passed on Friday, ICCC's count was 3234. Right now the count is 3242. That's 18 deaths since the Democratic-led US House decided they wanted to buy into the illegal war.
Returning to the paper of laughable record, is Alissa J. Rubin the slowest correspondent in Baghdad or does she just read that way? (Or is she edited from above that way?) Today's offering is "Iraqis Announce New Steps Aimed at Reconciling Sunnis and Shiites" and here's one paragraph that's typical of the entire nonsense:
Changing the de-Baathification laws was one of the political goals for the Iraqi government set by the Bush administration six months ago.
Search through the entire article, in vain, for any mention of who implemented the de-Baathification? Apparently, Rubin believes (or wants the reader to) that Iraq decided to de-Baathify itself. "de-Baathify yourself, de-Baathify/ de-Baathify yourself, set youself free"? Is that how it went? Iraqis running through the streets, as though in a Simple Minds video, deciding for themselves that this was the move to make?
Well that's not how it happened. Paul Bremer implemented that program -- over the warnings of many (even the Council of Foreign Relations slammed that Bremer-bit). Bremer went after the Baathists not because they were 'in league with Saddam Hussein.' He did so -- over loud objections -- because you need to get the public sector employees out of the public sector when you're about to have a tag sale. As much damage as disbanding the Iraqi army did to many Iraqis, the de-Baathification did even more damage because the public sector contained many women workers who were suddenly unemployed for the "crime" of belonging to a legal party in Iraq. It's as though Bremer was channeling Bully Boy's own desire to run the Democratic Party out of the United States.
(Don't fret so, Bully Boy, with the Dems in the House so eager to buy into your war, the War Hawks of both major parties should be able to live -- and invade -- together in perfect disharmony.)
So the question is who in the world does the Times think it is fooling as it pimps a story about Zalmay's departure and how a marker has been laid down for the Iraqis -- "You re-Baathify, you hear me!" -- without ever noting de-Baathification was never an Iraqi implemented plan to begin with. Bremer did it. The US administration did it. It's really sad to see a paper to so eager to cheapen itself on something so obvious just to please the administration. The US administration did it, now they want to change it. Apparently, bringing that long promised, turned corner all the closer -- if only the people of Iraq were as stupid as the New York Times thinks its own domestic readership is. The damage is done and Iraqis will not forget it. (Nor was it accidental. It was intentional and part of the plans of the US administration -- one more plan, in fact, that helped destroy the rights of Iraqi women. So it's interesting that Rubin shows up to front this article -- sort of like when a defense team uses their token female attorney to rip into a rape victim on the stand.)
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nora barrows friedman
the new york times
alissa j. rubin