Near the edge of this dust-colored mountain village, a man dressed in military fatigues, his AK-47 casually lying near his feet and a grenade dangling from his waist, keeps sentry along a dry, rock-strewn creek bed.
The trail is a well-known route for smugglers, and they pass by frequently, crossing between Iraq and neighboring Iran, a steady procession of donkeys hauling food, fuel canisters and boxes filled with who knows what.
As each smuggler passes, the sentry stretches out his hand and the smuggler pays, sometimes a dollar's worth of Iranian tumans, sometimes $5 worth.
The sentry identifies himself as a member of the Kurdistan Workers' Party, the PKK, the rebel group that has inflamed Turkish anger with attacks that have killed 30 Turkish soldiers in the last month. The U.S. State Department has included the group on its terrorist list for years.
The sentry, however, is hardly in hiding. He's in plain view of a checkpoint atop a nearby bluff, manned by a member of the peshmerga, the regional militia of the Kurdish Regional Government, the U.S.-allied rulers of northern Iraq.
That PKK guerrillas operate under the nose of the peshmerga angers Turkish officials, who say the Kurdish Regional Government inside Iraq has done nothing to prevent the rebels from launching attacks from northern Iraq that have killed thousands of Turks. Last month, Turkey's parliament authorized its military to enter Iraq to confront the PKK.
The above is from Bobby Cina Calvan's "In Iraqi Kurdistan, sympathy for the PKK abounds" (McClatchy Newspapers) and he also notes that the US was involved in the release of the eight Turkish soldiers who were captured last month. Was involved. Yesterday's spin was that the puppet government had accomplished a feat and done so all by themselves. The US military, like a parent doing a kid's science fair project and then bragging, "Look at that! All by themselves!"
As CNN notes the big meetup between Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Bully Boy takes place today in DC. Meanwhile, the BBC aired their own version of the bad (and pro-war) docuemtnary No End In Sight. Nafeez Mosaddeq Ahmen dissects John Ware's docu-drama in "More Pontification, More Propaganda on Iraq" (Dissident Voice):
Hmmm. Not quite. Extensive evidence in the public record, evidence that Ware failed to acknowledge let alone address, shows that the Bush administration was indeed working on a very specific postwar plan for Iraq. Such as the State Department’s detailed "reconstruction" plan, designed to rob the country of its resources.
American investigative journalist Greg Palast, who has reported for BBC Newsnight, the Observer and the Guardian, obtained a State Department document, "Moving the Iraqi Economy from Recovery to Growth," in February 2003. In 101-pages, the document detailed the Bush administration's plans for a complete rewrite of Iraq’s "policies, laws and regulations", based on low taxes on big business, and quick sales of Iraq’s banks and bridges, "all state enterprises" to foreign investors.
Among other things, the document stipulates that Iraq would have to "privatize" its "oil and supporting industries." Annex D of the document set out, Palast reports, "a strict 360-day schedule for the free-market makeover of Iraq." Under the tutelage of Paul Bremer, the Coalition Provisional Authority imposed in the aftermath of the invasion issued "exactly 100 orders that remade Iraq in the image of the Economy Plan." Palast lists several major examples, but one is worth citing here by way of illustration:
"Order 12, 'Trade Liberalization', permitted the tax- and tariff-free import of foreign products. One big winner was Cargill, the world's largest grain merchant, which flooded Iraq with hundreds of thousands of tons of wheat. For Iraqi farmers, already wounded by sanctions and war, this was devastating. They could not compete with the US and Australian surpluses dumped on them. But 'the import plan' carried out the letter of the Economy Plan."
It is no surprise then that Palast quotes a disgruntled US government insider who worked on the State Department plan, noting that it conflicted fundamentally with real Iraqi democracy. "They have [Deputy Defense Secretary Paul] Wolfowitz coming out saying it's going to be a democratic country but we’re going to do something that 99 percent of the people of Iraq wouldn't vote for."
From the very beginning, reports from high-level sources indicated that the Americans and British were not very interested in facilitating Iraqi democratization. They originally wanted a "regime change" that focused on the removal of Saddam himself and his top associates, without a fundamental restructuring of the regime itself. This had been the strategy as early as the 1991 Gulf War, during which Richard Haas, then Senior Director of Near East Affairs at the US National Security Council, confirmed that: "Our policy is to get rid of Saddam, not his regime." Haas, of course later became Director of Policy Planning in the State Department under the administration of President George W Bush.
Ware, like No End In Sight, tries to paint the illegal war and the state of Iraq today as good intentions gone horribly wrong. This was planned. Naomi Klein's The Shock Doctrine: The Rise Of Disaster Capitalism outlines this in depth. Lynda notes Katharine Q. Seelye's "Obama Plays Convincing Obama in a Skit Mocking Clinton" in this morning's New York Times:
"Saturday Night Live" has relentlessly mocked Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton and this weekend allowed Senator Barack Obama, a chief rival for the Democratic presidential nomination, to join in the skewering.
The comedy show portrayed Mrs. Clinton dressed as a bride at a Halloween party, while the actors playing Bill Clinton and some of the other Democratic candidates called her a witch. All the candidates were lampooned except Mr. Obama, extending what some rival campaigns privately complain is a glut of positive news coverage.
The Obama campaign said yesterday that they were allowed to "tweak" the script, but the extent of such tweaks was not clear.
Lynda notes she read The Nation's nonsense (noted here) and thinks you have to be "stupid or a liar to write what Ari Merbler wrote. The standards at that magazine have gone to crap." Yes, they have but take comfort in the fact that there's an alternate take on Obama's lines ("tweak"ed) which is that he's such a stick in the mud he can't even cut loose at a party. To that, I'd add, it takes a lot of ego to attend a costume party as yourself. (He wore an Obama mask in the skit.)
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