Thursday, February 19, 2009

Draw down is not withdrawal

The administration sought yesterday to couch the orders as what the senior official called "the beginning of the drawdown of troops in Iraq," where both units had been scheduled to deploy. While that is technically true, White House decisions on Afghanistan and Iraq are proceeding on parallel but not necessarily overlapping tracks.
During the presidential campaign, Obama pledged to drawn down the U.S. presence in Iraq -- currently at 146,000 troops -- at a rate of one brigade a month for what he said would be a complete combat withdrawal within 16 months, with an unspecified "residual force" remaining.
During his first week in office, he instructed military planners to present options for withdrawal under various conditions on the ground and at various speeds. Those options have not yet been presented to the White House, although the senior official said yesterday that Obama expects to receive them and make a decision on a timeline "in the near future."

That's from Karen DeYoung's "More Troops Headed to Afghanistan" (Washington Post) and Lloyd notes it. It was published in yesterday's paper. We dealt with the topic yesterday:

Ross Colvin's "US to decide in weeks, 'not months' on Iraq troop cuts" (Reuters) tells us an unnamed administration source has declared the decision of what Barack plans to do about "cutting troop levels in Iraq" will come "in weeks, not 'days or months'." Rebecca noted that last night. As pointed out most recently in the Feb. 6th snapshot, what to do was supposedly already settled, that campaign 'promise' which included him initiating upon being sworn in. But his Cult never holds him accountable. A bunch of mental midgets, shameful mental midgets.

Day one, Barack 'promised,' upon being sworn in on day one, he would task the military with his plan for 'withdrawal' (of 'combat' troops) and he's still not done that. It wasn't, "On day one, I will say, 'Hey, chiefs, what do you want to do? Let's talk options?"

Karen DeYoung has a strong report, I just wasn't in the mood to go through all the ways in which Barack is lying and getting away with it (go through it again). The New York Times wanted the Iraq War and wants a big Afghanistan War. Today Thom Shanker's "New Lessons For the Army On Iraq Duty" is the sort of Cosmo cover for the War Hawk set: "You can have it all!" No, you can't. We'll come back to that. From the article:

Because General Hertling had fewer troops than might be needed, he and his team had to find other ways to build their fighting strength. Their decisions -- analyzed in an after-action review by commanders here this month -- offer lessons to the Obama administration as it prepares for further reductions of American troops. The analysis suggests that there may indeed be ways for the American military to do more with less, as will be required in the months ahead.
Commanders found that it was possible to leave some zones of northern Iraq more or less uncovered, to focus their forces elsewhere in a series of combat and reconstruction missions. So frequently did fighting forces and civil affairs personnel move that commanders dubbed their battlefield locator map "the Dancing Icons."
With conventional troops spread thinly across the north, commanders also relied heavily on Special Operations forces to carry out missions against top insurgent and terrorist leaders.

The reality is that Barack's only justifiable decision is to withdraw all US troops from Iraq. That's what's needed, that's what Americans believe he promised (including *a senile idiot in today's Los Angeles Times who can't ask me not to be mean to her here and also give stupid interviews*). The Iraq War is an illegal war and needs to end. That is my opinion, that is the opinion of this community.

[*That does not refer to an employee of the LAT. It is an interview in today's paper. The interview subject is the senile idiot.*]

But you can't do half-way. You can't end it half-way and you can't continue it half-way. And when people are dying in Iraq, Barack can't claim no one ever warned him that his draw down (not a withdrawal) wasn't going to put Iraqis and Americans at risk. He was warned. He chose to ignore it. And Shanker's reporting on an idiotic study that contradicts itself.

"Oh, we provided safety!!!! See, it can be done!!!!" That's what the study attempts to say. Uh, Shanker, where's your section on the reconstruction?

Where is it?

That was supposed to be 70% of the tasks for those under Maj Gen Mark P. Hertling's command.

So where are the results on that?

We hear all about how they were able to provide security when they focused on that.

And doing that, how did the reconstruction fare?

We'll surmise it did not fare well or that would have been trumpeted.

In other words, no, you can't do it all.

And for those who want to know why the Times was so vested in the propaganda of the 'Mother Of All Bombers' earlier this month, read the last section of Shanker's article which confesses more than he grasps.

But, repeating one more time, leaving 70,000 US troops in Iraq is not withdrawal. Using that number to continue the illegal war puts the 70,000 at risk. You cannot have it all, no matter what Thom Shanker wants to tell you at his Cosmo Girl best today. Barack's only option is a real withdrawal. If he choose anything else, he's owning that illegal war and all the deaths.

In other inept government news, Iraq still does not have a Speaker of Parliament. They tossed out their Speaker in December. Let's drop back to the Jan. 12th snapshot:

Willam Brockman Bankhead was the Speaker of the US House of Representatives for over four years. He died unexpectably of a heart attack on September 15, 1940. (For those unfamiliar with Bankhead, he was the father of Tallulah Bankhead.) The following day, Sam Rayburn became Speaker of the House. The following day. December 23rd, Mahmoud al-Mashhadani was forced out of the Speakership of the Iraqi Parliament. The week prior he had stated he was resigning. He attempted to take that back but a large number wanted him gone as Speaker and had wanted him gone for some time with repeated public efforts to oust him.

Today's the 19th. They may make it two months (or more!) with no Speaker. Nouri want to claim Baghdad's got a functioning government again?

Waleed Ibrahim, Aseel Kami, Missy Ryan, Michael Christie and Victoria Main (Reuters) report
that despite the lack of Speaker, they plan to tackle the 2009 budget next week. Yep, the 2009 budget. Yes, most countries have that place before the fiscal year starts let alone the calendar year. But, hey, Nouri's itty-bitty feelings get hurt when anyone points out the reality of how little 'progress' is being made so maybe we're all supposed to look the other way? The reporters inform, "Work on the budget, an important task as Iraq confronts sharply lower oil revenues at a time when it desperately needs funds to rebuild after six years of war, has been held up by parliament's inability to agree on a new speaker."

AP reports Army Staff Sgt Hal Warner has entered a plea of guilty to the charge of assaulting an Iraqi prisoner (who later died) saying "he stood on the back of the detainee's legs and later stripped the detainee naked in the desert."

The Kurdish Regional Government notes:

Prime Minister's speech at opening of German Consulate General

Ladies and gentlemen,
Distinguished guests,

Good afternoon and welcome to you all. On behalf of the people and the government of the Kurdistan Region, I would like to offer a very warm welcome to the Foreign Minister of the Federal Republic of Germany, His Excellency Frank-Walter Steinmeier, and to the Foreign Minister of the Federal Republic of Iraq, His Excellency Hoshyar Zibari, and their accompanying delegations.

I am pleased and privileged to be here with you today to participate in the official opening of the Consulate General of the Federal Republic of Germany in the Kurdistan Region. Today is an historic day and marks the start of a new era in our relations.

Germany has a strong global reputation in the fields of industry, commerce and development, and is an effective member of the European Union. Germany also has a long history with the peoples of the region.

We in the Kurdistan Regional Government have worked hard to establish friendships and build bridges with members of the international community. Germany has been among our very important partners.

The opening of this Consulate today in the Kurdistan Region is a most encouraging sign to strengthen our relations. This step comes after the important changes that have occurred in Iraq – the transition from dictatorship and one-party rule to a federal and democratic Iraq; an Iraq that is governed by the Constitution.

We in the KRG are committed to the Constitution for which the people of Iraq have voted. And we will work closely with the main Iraqi parties to build a country that achieves the dreams of all.

We understand the desire of the government and private companies of Germany to participate at a variety of levels within the Kurdistan Region and Iraq. The Goethe Institute for culture has opened a Dialogue Centre in Erbil. German contributions in the sector of education have been very much appreciated as well.

German companies have long had a presence in the Region, and German business delegations have been active participants in the trade fairs in the Kurdistan Region.

I deem it necessary to briefly highlight the history of the Kurdistan Region under the rule of the former dictatorial regime. And at the same time I want to point out the freedom that Federal Iraq enjoys today. I would also like to discuss the KRG vision for the future.

The history of our people has been one of oppression and systematic violations of the most basic human rights. We have suffered genocide at the hands of the brutal Ba’ath regime. In order to foster recognition of the mass killing that has been committed, later this year we will sponsor an academic conference in Brussels regarding the genocide against our people.

The history of this crime is not that distant. Twenty years ago, and in front of the eyes of the entire world, our people suffered ethnic cleansing, mass killing, and the deployment of chemical weapons against them. Unfortunately the international community, at that time, was not ready to come to our aid in order to put an end to the genocidal campaign against the people of the Kurdistan Region.

Today is an opportunity for all those who call for the protection of human rights and freedom to come to the support of oppressed people. We believe that the European Union, as a humanitarian matter of conscience, cannot turn a blind eye to the crimes that were committed against our people.

And I hope that the European Parliament will issue a resolution recognising the crime of genocide against our people, with a view to preventing such a crime from ever occurring again. We in the KRG appreciate the fact that the Iraqi Council of Representatives already has passed such a resolution recognising this crime as genocide. Here I would like to once again thank members of the Iraqi Parliament for this noble position in supporting truth and justice and condemning this crime.

We in the government have scaled up our cooperation with the private sector. Our citizens can see and recognise an improvement in living conditions and services. And though we still have more to do, our Region is developing and flourishing.

On this occasion I invite our guests today to become involved in our process of reconstruction and rebuilding. And I would invite you to cooperate with us, and to return home and spread the word that the Kurdistan Region can act as a gateway to Federal Iraq and is open for business.

We in the KRG continue to cooperate with the Federal Republic of Iraq, in pursuit of a democratic, federal, pluralistic state based on the Constitution and the rule of law.
Respect for the rule of law and principles guaranteed in the Constitution are prerequisites for any genuine democracy. We will continue to work in a spirit of cooperation and fraternity, and we will promote dialogue and peaceful coexistence.

Indeed the principles of peaceful coexistence and the culture of tolerance have made the Kurdistan Region a safe haven and have inspired the displaced; particularly our Christian brothers and sisters, to find refuge here. We have done whatever possible to help and support minorities.

And in the Kurdistan Region the Kurds, Turkmen, Assyrians, Syriacs, Chaldeans and Arabs – whether Muslim, Christian or Yezidi – from different ethnicities and religions, all live together in peace. This is a success that we cherish deeply.

We are very pleased by the visit of His Excellency the Foreign Minister of Germany, along with his accompanying delegation. We commend the German government for opening their Consulate General in the Kurdistan Region.

And we hope that you return with a positive impression and are able to discuss the stability and peace in the Region with your colleagues in the European Union, so that other countries are encouraged to come to the Kurdistan Region for the same purpose.

This step is a turning point to further develop and strengthen relations between the Kurdistan Region, as a part of Iraq, and Germany.

We hope that this initiative will help to reduce the obstacles European citizens face when travelling to the Kurdistan Region, such as travel advisory restrictions.

We thank the German Embassy in Iraq for their continued efforts in promoting relations between both countries, Iraq and Germany.

I would also like to thank the Embassy Office of Germany in the Kurdistan Region, which has worked very hard to improve relations. I commend you for your efforts.

I would also like to thank France for recently deciding to upgrade their presence from embassy office to consulate. I would also like to thank those countries who had earlier decided to open their consulates, such as Iran and the Russian Federation.

I assure you that the Kurdistan Regional Government is ready to provide every kind of coordination and cooperation necessary for the German Consulate General, and we wish you much success.

Thank you very much.

See also

Press release on the German Foreign Minister's visit.

Photos of the German Foreign Minister's visit to Kurdistan Region

Reuters notes at least 10 dead in today's violence: a Balad Ruz roadside bombing that claimed the lives of 4 Iraqi soldiers, a Garma roadside bombing that claimed the life of 1 police officer, a Mosul roadside bombing that claimed the life of 1 police officer, 1 shop owner shot dead in Mosul, 1 Iraqi soldier shot dead in Mosul, 1 man shot dead in Mosul (and his car stolen), a Mosul roadside bombing that wounded one person, a Baghdad roadside bombing which left eight people injured, another Baghdad roadside bombing which left three people injured and a Mosul car bombing that claimed the life of 1 police officer with seven people left injured.

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thomas friedman is a great man

oh boy it never ends