Sunday, June 28, 2009

And the war drags on . . .

Sunday, June 28th, two days before the allged pull-out of all Iraqi cities and towns and the New York Times' news section features how many reports on Iraq? Can you guess? Zero. We'll just assume Chris Hill was too busy to feed the paper talking points.

NPR's filing one of their increasingly rare reports from Baghdad [Quil Lawrence for All Things Considered] but the New York Times takes the day off. Hala Jaber, Ali Rifat Amman and Tony Allen-Mills (Times of London) quote Sheiak Harith al-Dhari stating, "The resistance will not subside. I expect the insurgency to increase in both strength and ferocity, at least until the total withdrawal of the occupiers. Logic dictates that as long as there is fire under the pot, then the pot will continue to boil." Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports:

The guys with the guns and bombs and best-laid plans may think the U.S. withdrawal of combat troops from major Iraqi cities will work.
But some ordinary Iraqis harbor another idea.
[. . .]
"We will be happy to see the American forces go, but I feel there is more stability in their presence," said Husam Ayid, 27, in Tikrit in northern Iraq. "The armed groups (insurgents) will become more active -- and we don't know who or what side they will target."

And no reporting from the New York Times. Well that's not true. They're busy chasing down who slept with whom and did the pedophile's doctor tell the truth and a hundred other stories that don't matter one bit and that will have on impact on our lives other than (for some) momentary titilation. Meanwhile Michael Goodman's telling readers "Iraq is back at the forefront for President Obama after months on the back burner" (New York Daily News) -- and fumbling around what will be a talking point if violence in July and August increases substantially (or if US fatalties increase dramatically). Lindsay Wise (Houston Chronicle) reports on the Texas Army National Guard's 72 Brigade will be shipping to Iraq for a nine month tour of duty. And AP notes the weekend burial of 23-year-old Edmond Lo who was killed serving in Iraq by a June 13th roadside bombing.

They're just there to try and make the people free,
But the way that they're doing it, it don't seem like that to me.
Just more blood-letting and misery and tears
That this poor country's known for the last twenty years,
And the war drags on.
-- words and lyrics by Mick Softly (available on Donovan's Fairytale)

Last Sunday, ICCC's number of US troops killed in Iraq since the start of the illegal war was 4314 and tonight? 4316.

Turning to some of the violence in today's news cycle . . .


Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Baghdad car bombing which left six people wounded, a second Baghdad car bombing which left seven people injured, a Ramadi sticky bombing attack on a council member that claimed the life of her husband and left her injured.


Dropping back to Saturday, Reuters notes 1 "preacher inside a mosque" was shot dead in Mosul and 1 man was shot dead in a Mosul drive-by.

Today the top US Commander in Iraq, General Ray Odierno, spoke with Fox News' Bret Baier (transcript here at PDDNet) and we'll note this section:

BAIER: Lastly, General, what's your biggest concern going forward? What makes you stay up at night?
ODIERNO: Well, I mean, it has to do with the potential political drivers of instability that remain. We still have much work to do in terms of Arab-Kurd relations.
We still have reconciliation to go through. We've made some good steps towards reconciliation, but they have to continue to address the area of reconciliation in Iraq. So I think it's these political issues that will be the most important as we move towards the national elections.
And I think these could cause some instability, and that's what I worry about. What I hope is these will be solved through politics and diplomatic measures and not through violence.

Though the US press skipped reporting on it last week, the Kurds have a new constitution and it announces that regions, such as the oil-rich Kirkuk, belong to them. It's a big deal and it's why Odierno raises that potential conflict. In another section he demonstrates how much better he is than Chris Hill at talking points. Baier also lays down the argument that could historically topple the presidency of Barack. No one's paid attention that that.

Baier's noting the ungrateful comments the US installed Nouri al-Maliki is making and how it may or may not be to increase his own popularity ahead of elections scheduled for January. If violence in Iraq increases or the death toll for US service members increases, Barack's goose is historically cooked. He will not come back from it. He's not discussing the contingency plans in place if violence increases; however, in 2007, he revealed to the New York Times that he would send more troops into Iraq if violence increased due to a withdrawal. (The June 30th pull-back did not exist at the time of his interview.) Anything like that, anything resembling that, would be seen as a surge and, for any who've forgotten, Barack and the surge have a strained relationship. He's made so many mistakes that's it only demonstrated how out of touch his cabinet is with military families or with history. This month the US traded two prisoners who were 'high value' and were thought to be the ringleaders behind the invasion of a US base and assault on that US base resulting in the deaths of five US soldiers. They made that trade because? Nouri and the British wanted it. The British hoped they could get their five hostages released. (They got two of them released -- both dead.) That's a mistake of epic proportions that anyone with a basic understanding of 20th century history would have warned Barack against allowing. That no one did goes to how out of touch his administration is.

You've potentially angered the families of the five fallen (one father has gone public about being outraged) but, more than that, you've risked outraging the families who lost someone in Iraq or who had someone serve in Iraq. You've said the five deaths didn't matter as much as making some foreign leader (al-Maliki and Brown) happy. With Anita Hill's awful treatment by the US Senate, people didn't seem to grasp how that would fester and result in huge outrage. A similar sentiment is building slowly as a result of Barack releasing what are seen as the two brothers who are responsible for the deaths of five US soldiers, killed on American base in Iraq. This isn't about the right wing, and people would be smart to grasp that.

The right wing is stumbling around for their arguments. Read Michael Goodwin who almost gets at the fact that Barack can't 'surge' if there are problems in Iraq without looking like a hypocrite due to his own public remarks (and repeated remarks) about Bully Boy's 'surge.' That's what the right wing's trying to pull together but not quite there yet.

The military families are not right-wing or left-wing. The POW issues -- whether it's Korea or Vietnam -- have not been right or left wing issues. And families have repeatedly been willing to work with any and every politician who would help them.

Barack was never going to have the right-wing on his side and all that never ending catering he does to them has been a huge waste of time. In the process of trying to figure out how he can appease and embrace them, his advisors failed to grasp that military families are independent and they are not shut up. They do not fall silent because of polls. They do not slink away because the 'news' move on. They bond and they fight together for what they believe in. It was a huge mistake for Barack to let those two prisoners walk. It was a bigger mistake for the White House to have failed to have addressed it publicly. That's the the step that will have people protesting Barack well into his eighties. And that's the thing, unnoticed by the bulk of the US press (Christian Science Monitor was the only outlet that treated it seriously) that buries Barack's presidency historically even if the economy turns around.

It would appear that Barack's overly educated system of advisors felt that military families were a bunch of dumb hicks that you could pull one over on. If that was indeed the belief, it was a mistaken one. And it was a costly mistake.

Mike Tharp (McClatchy Newspapers) offers some reality on the pull-out:

But the Status of Forces Agreement setting the June 30 deadline leaves a lot of discretionary decisions to the Americans. Lieut. Col. Drake Johnson, 39, a liaison officer with the Iraqi police, could have termed the patrol a "force protection" mission, not a "combined patrol." In that case, only Americans would've been walking the route.
That's one reason on Tuesday, when Iraqis wake up, they will still see U.S. soldiers and Marines on patrol and in convoys. That's why some Iraqis -- like the one who yelled at the patrol, "Hey, it's too bad you guys will be leaving soon!" -- may be disappointed with the profile, the footprint, that the Americans will still display in Iraq.

New content at Third:

Truest statement of the week
A note to our readers
Editorial: Save us from the panty sniffers
TV: Give till it hurts
A Rucka, a Batwoman, a Zeus and a Heatwave
Ty's Corner
Be very, very scared
Winter Soldier covered by Free Speech Radio News
Unsolicited e-mails
Question raised last week
Papuans being slaughtered
The Quota Queen's on her head

Isaiah's latest goes up after this. Pru notes "Demand more from Iraq inquiry" (Great Britain's Socialist Worker):

The row over the transparency, or otherwise, of the inquiry into the war on Iraq has exposed the continuing influence of Tony Blair on the Labour Party – and the weakness of Gordon Brown.
Blair put pressure on Brown to ensure that the inquiry into the war would be held in private. But it took Brown just days to backtrack on this promise.
He has now conceded that some parts will be held in public and remains under pressure to hold the entire inquiry in public.
The inquiry itself looks set to cause Brown more headaches.
Lindsey German, the convenor of the Stop the War coalition, said, “The inquiry will now be held in the run-up to the general election, which will be a disaster for Labour.”
She also pointed to major problems with the inquiry that anti-war activists should be camaigning over.
“The board of the inquiry is all pro-war,” she said. “There are no lawyers who said the war was illegal and no anti-war MPs.
“We need answers and that requires a full and open investigation.”
Anti war activists should submit their own evidence to the inquiry and hold protests at MPs’ surgeries to demand that the warmongers are brought to justice.
© Socialist Worker (unless otherwise stated). You may republish if you include an active link to the original.
Share this story on:
Delicious Digg reddit Facebook StumbleUpon
If you found this article useful please help us maintain SW by »
making a donation.
» comment on article » email article » printable version

The e-mail for this site is

all things considered
quil lawrence
hala jaber
ali rifat
tony allen-mills
michael goodwin
lindsay wise