Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Iraq realities

Barack Obama ran on withdrawal from Iraq in 2008. Now we have a 2010 date? What are we doing occupying another country? The war to oust Saddam Hussein is long over. Get out of Iraq now.

That's from Saul Korn's letter to the editors of the Detroit News and he's one of many weighing in, some pro and some con. Ron Embree offers:

Hopefully most of the troops will be back in the United States by 2010. If our economy and unemployment rate continue on the course they are now, we will need these troops to police our own country.

If "by 2010" means January 2010, it's a sign of how badly the press has reported Barack's 'plan.' No more than 10,000 (max) US troops are expected to leave Iraq by December 31st of this year. People do not seem to be absorbing that point (Embree may or may not have absorbed it).

Vic highlights the following from Eric Margolis' "U.S. influence in Iraq far from over" (Toronto Sun):

So will U.S. troops leave Iraq? Will those responsible for this trumped-up war face justice?
No, on both counts.
President Obama says U.S. combat troops will leave Iraq by the end of 2011. However, the U.S. military occupation will not end. What we are seeing is a public relations shell game.
The U.S. has 142,000 soldiers and nearly 100,000 mercenaries occupying Iraq. Obama's plan calls for withdrawing the larger portion of the U.S. garrison but leaving 50,000-60,000 troops in Iraq.
To get around his promise to withdraw all "combat" troops, the president and his advisers are rebranding the stay-behind garrison as "training troops, protection for American interests, and counterterrorism forces."
At a time when the U.S. is bankrupt and faces a $1.75 trillion deficit, the Pentagon's gargantuan $664 billion budget (50% of total global military spending) will grow in 2009 and 2010 by another $200 billion to pay for the occupation of Iraq and Obama's expanded war in Afghanistan. Throw in another $40 billion to $50 billion for the CIA and other intelligence agencies.
Obama insists the U.S. will withdraw from Iraq. But his words are belied by the Pentagon, which continues to expand bases in Iraq, including Balad and Al-Asad, with 4,400-metre runways for heavy bombers and transports.

That's reality and let's use it as a jumping off point to fantasy. For years, Norman Solomon, David Corn and others hissed and clawed at people in the 9-11 Truth Movement stating that there was no proof to back up their claims and that these claims (apparently without proof) were a distraction from the peace movement (Solomon) and the things that really matter (Corn). We have never attacked the 9-11 Truth Movement -- we aren't part of it, it's not our focus, but we've never attacked it. However, if Solomon and Corn want to spend years and years (and they have) attacking people for fantasies, it's about time they stepped up and went after Gareth Porter. We're not highlighting the Real News Network video we've been sent (to the public account). We're not interested. For the first few minutes, Gareth's actually reporting and analyzing. Then he goes nutty. Barack can't do this or that, the military's controlling him.

You know what, the military may be controlling him. And the government may have planned 9-11. There's no proof to back up either. But if conjecture and theories and hypothesis on the part of the 9-11 Truth Movement need to result in nasty call-ins from David Corn and Norman needs to insist what KPFA can and cannot air or distribute as gifts to those who donate to the station, it's about time they went after Gareth.

Gareth Porter is getting very upset with the many -- and it's a lot -- people calling him a water carrier for Barack and worse. In the latest Real News Network video, he provides them the ammo they need. He starts off with the facts and then goes into fantasy.

It doesn't matter whether the military 'controls' Barack or not. It can't be proved. You need to stick to reality and reality is Barack Obama is the president of the United States. Reality is he said the buck stops with the president (see the April debate with Hillary). If you're unhappy with his Iraq draw down -- and anyone wanting to end the illegal war should be unhappy -- you hold him accountable. You don't invent reasons to let him off the hook.

He's the president of the United States. If he chooses not to use that power (as Gareth appears to believe) out of fear or out of being controlled by some 'other' that doesn't change a thing. He wanted the job, he got the job, he needs to do the job.

There are no excuses and it's funny how common the Barack apologists fantasies are. I don't want hear any nut-job fantasies about how the Joint-Chiefs is controlling Barack or any other crap that can't be proven. If that's harsh, I'm sure the 9-11 Truth Movement could tell you all about harsh. And they haven't bothered anyone, they've gone about their own business and been attacked for it.

People like Gareth Porter are actively floating conspiracy theories which they cannot back up and they are presenting them as fact. That needs to stop and shame on all the ones who will attack this group or that for not sticking to the facts but will let Gareth Porter, a reporter, get away with repeating these crackpot fantasies over and over without ever calling him out.

I believe David Corn at one point said, "I deal in reality." Start dealing in reality.

The Real News Network might try doing the same because it is laughable for them to include an appeal for money and claim that they are a source for people to get the news, to be presented reality, after airing Gareth's crackpot fantasies.

For the record, I don't dislike Gareth and we've highlighted him before and will most likely highlight him again. But it's not supposed to be about "likes" and "dislikes." Media criticism isn't supposed to be a sidebar to a Playboy centerfold. It's supposed to be about making the needed calls, even if they might make some uncomfortable. (I also wouldn't have commented at this point were it not for the fact that we were sent the Real News Network video and, no, we're not highlighting that garbage. Garbage is "It's not Barack's fault! He's being controlled!")


A national veterans' organization today objected to calling President Obama's announcement on Iraq a "withdrawal," adding that keeping troops there and Afghanistan will "put the nail in the coffin of America's economy."
Veterans For Peace, referring to several published reports that the Obama plan will leave 50,000 or more troops in Iraq, and pointing to the buildup already underway in Afghanistan, warned that such policies will have the same effect on the new President as the Vietnam War did on Lyndon Johnson's plans for the Great Society.
"I really believe President Obama wants to do good things for the country," said VFP president, Mike Ferner, "but if he continues on this course he's charted, his hopes are guaranteed to founder on the shoals of war. This way lies disaster. For all our sakes, I hope he reconsiders."
The 58 year-old former Navy Hospital Corpsman added, "Besides the suffering and death caused by prolonging these wars, America simply can no longer afford the cost of empire. Unfortunately, that's exactly what these policies do. Their purpose is to control an entire region of the world and its resources. If you look at history, it's clear the longterm outlook for empires is not very pleasant."
Ferner concluded that "Barack Obama became president in part because millions of voters were sick of these wars and wanted them stopped, period. Saying that only 'non-combat' troops will be left after 19 months is just sleight of hand so we can keep tens of thousands of soldiers in Iraq and send thousands more to Afghanistan."

One person who is not going to Iraq is Lisa Pagan. Pagan is the mother who showed up to Fort Benning, Georgia with her two kids. She had been honorably discharged from the military in 2005 and was now being recalled. Andrea Stone and Marisol Bello offer "Mom's plight shows Army strain" (USA Today):

The IRR, Individual Ready Reserve, is the military's backup corps when it needs highly trained troops fast. Soldiers enter the IRR after active-duty service and remain until the end of an eight-year military service obligation. Until the Gulf War in 1991, most troops could forget about the IRR and get on with civilian life, says University of Maryland military sociologist Mady Wechsler Segal. "It was rare" to be called up for a second tour, she says.
No longer. Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have stretched the Army to the limits and forced it to tap the IRR. Since 2001, nearly 27,000 soldiers have been ordered back, and 11,000 have been sent to Iraq and Afghanistan.
Nearly as many have asked to be excused. Six in 10 cite medical reasons or family concerns.
Pagan lives with her husband, Travis, and their children, Elizabeth, 4, and Eric, 3, in Davidson, N.C. She figured a lack of child care would get her out of her IRR obligation. She enlisted in 2002 and served three years as a truck driver until she completed active duty in 2005. She was running a child-care center in her home and taking classes at Fayetteville State University when she was ordered to return in December 2007.
Mark Waple, Pagan's lawyer, says she asked for an exemption as her family's primary caretaker. The Army denied her request and subsequent appeals. Waple says she reported for duty rather than risk a court-martial.

The Kurdistan Regional Government notes:

President Barzani arrives in Germany to meet Chancellor Angela Merkel after Italy visit

» President Barzani with Prime Minister Berlusconi in Rome last week
Berlin, Germany ( – Kurdistan Region President Masoud Barzani arrived in Germany today to hold meetings with Chancellor Angela Merkel, the German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, and other senior officials.

Foreign Minister Steinmeier visited the Kurdistan Region last month to open the Consulate General in the capital, Erbil.

President Barzani is on the second stage of his European tour. Earlier this week in Rome, he met Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi and His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI.

President Barzani has been active in pursuing stronger relationships with the international community, recently completing a trip to Qatar and Kuwait. He will continue his European tour with a visit the United Kingdom. He said, “The Kurdistan Region has much to gain from developing friendships with European nations in a wide variety of fields and economic sectors, and I look forward to a closer partnership with countries such as Italy.”

Prime Minister Berlusconi and President Barzani discussed a number of issues, focusing on opportunities for mutually beneficial economic cooperation and the improved relations between the Kurdistan Region and neighbouring states.

Pope Benedict praised the Kurdistan Region’s commitment to tolerance and peaceful coexistence. President Barzani extended to the Pope an invitation to visit the Region. President Barzani was accompanied by his Chief of Staff, Dr Fuad Hussein; Kurdistan Regional Government Minister for Finance Mr Sarkis Aghajan, who in 2006 was knighted by Pope Benedict for his services to the Christian community in Iraq; and Iraq’s Ambassador to the Vatican.

And Iraq's Foreign Ministry announces:

Iraq's Ambassador in Qatar Visits Crown Prince

The Iraqi ambassador in Doha Dr.Jawad Al-Hindawi visited on 2 \ 3 \ 2009, the Crown Prince Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani. During the meeting, the Ambassador spoke about the common denominators between the State of Qatar and the Republic of Iraq and attempt to establish the concept of the State and the rule of law and the democratic process has reflected the will of the people and the adherence to the concept of the two rights and justice.

Dr. Hindawi expressed Iraq's desire for Qatar to open its embassy in Baghdad and designate an ambassador, and the activation of the joint committee between Iraq and Qatar, and spoke about Iraq's foreign relations, which are similar to the major powers and regional countries and Arab States which would enable the relations between Iraq and Qatar to be politically and economically influential in Iraq and the region.

The following community sites updated last night:

And Bonnie asks that we note the five part's of Al Distraction, Domestic Arts Czar: Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts "Al Distraction"; Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts "Domestic Arts Czar"; Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts "Rounding up Lucy"; Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts "Making Dennis the Menace" and Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts "Shutting Down The Domestic Arts Czar."

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