Monday, June 01, 2009

McGovern asks 'Why not order all U.S. troops out by Thanksgiving?'

First, why not order all U.S. troops out of Iraq and Afghanistan by Thanksgiving? They should be greeted at home with a duplication of the GI Bill of Rights that I enjoyed as a combat bomber pilot following World War II.
This means offering each soldier a college education at any school of his or her choice. In 1945, after completing my few remaining months for a Bachelor's degree at Dakota Wesleyan, I enrolled at Northwestern University and went all the way to a Ph.D. in history without any cost to me except hard work. Other veterans chose to buy a farm or start a business with low-cost, government-guaranteed loans.
We now spend $12 billion a month on wars in Iraq and Afghanistan -- two mistaken invasions that have increased violence and terrorism in the Middle East. For a fraction of what we are spending on these badly conceived interventions, we could fund a new GI Bill with full medical care for the tens of thousands of veterans who have lost legs or arms or suffered lasting nerve or brain damage.
The second step I would take is to ask Congress to shift half of our military budget to other sources of national security. For almost 50 years, American foreign and national-security policy were believed to require a military budget big enough to win wars against Russia, China and a smaller country such as North Korea simultaneously. We waged what was called a Cold War against an alleged "Sino-Soviet bloc."

The above is George McGovern writing in "My Advice for Obama" (Wall St. Journal). My thoughts on McGovern are already known so we'll just note at least he's aware the Iraq War drags on and then we'll move on.

Abed Falah al-Sudani

Saturday Abed Falal al-Sudani was arrested after the flight he was on was forced to turn back to Iraq. Until last Monday, al-Sudani had been the Trade Minister of Iraq. This morning Richard Spencer (Telegraph of London) quotes a passenger on the plane stating, "The captain told us we had to go back to Baghdad because of congestion at the destination airport." Nada Bakri's "Iraq's Ex-Trade Minister Is Detained in Graft Investigation" (Washington Post) explained yesterday

Sudani is a member of Maliki's Dawa party, a fact the prime minister's opponents have highlighted. Maliki, buffeted by charges that corruption reaches into the highest levels of government, has tried in recent days to seize the initiative from his detractors, declaring Friday that the government's anti-corruption committee would launch a vast campaign against those stealing public funds.
Interior Ministry officials said the order to turn around Sudani's plane and arrest him came from Maliki's office Saturday.
"We will not remain silent over corruption after today," Maliki said in the past week during a visit to the Trade Ministry. "We will pursue those corrupt and bring them to justice."

Sami Moubayed (Asia Times) notes al-Maliki's campaign against graft is doubtful and that there are 997 arrest warrantes on corruption charges still waiting for al-Maliki's signature despite al-Maliki's public claims to be stamping out corruption:

Inspired by the new atmosphere in Iraq, an Iraqi blog, (which means "writings"), ran an article accusing one of Maliki's aides of corruption, calling on the prime minister to sack even his closest advisors if found to be guilty. The writer, Ali Hussein, was immediately sued by the prime minister, who demanded compensation of a staggering one billion Iraqi dinars (over US$800,000), claiming that nepotism charges brought against his aide-de-camp were untrue. It must be noted that the blog's creator, Iyad al-Zamili, who has been residing in Germany since 2003, was himself a former supporter of Maliki, most notably during the provincial elections of January 2009.
The striking contrast between the story of the "Sudani three" and that of Maliki's aide, raises doubt about the prime minister's commitment to the anti-graft drive. One of the reasons why the prime minister is so furious is that the 62-year-old Sudani is a member of Maliki's own Da'wa Party. If Maliki was aware of Sudani's wrongdoings - but ignored them - then he is guilty. If he had no idea what was taking place, then he is equally guilty.
This is the 10th time a ministerial seat has become vacant under Maliki, after members of the Iraqi Accordance Front and the Sadrist bloc stepped down in 2007.
People are starting to wonder whether Maliki is heading a real cabinet, or a wobbly coalition where ministers resign - or fall - with no prior notice? The trade minister, after all, was originally brought down by parliament, which is headed by the new Sunni speaker Iyad Samarrai, and not by the prime minister.

At the New York Times Iraq blog, Christoph Bangert offers "Visual Diary: A Slide Revisited" which attempts to argue safety in Baghdad! via a photo of a slide from 2005 and one from this month -- both taken by Bangert who insists:

When I visited on a recent weekday during a low level dust storm, and took this photograph above, kids were playing in the park despite the gloomy mood of the day.
Maybe this new picture of the slide can be seen as an appropriate metaphor for Iraq once more, as despite the tremendous improvements, the general mood in Iraq is still filled with uncertainty.

Maybe it could . . . were it not for the fact that Bangert insists "kids were playing in the park" but he offers a photo of one lonely kid on a slide. The other kids were where? A photographer shouldn't require anyone else explaining the problem with visual proof that doesn't hold up.

Bonnie notes Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts "Fair Play For Old Men" went up Sunday. Kendall highlights this from Iraq Veterans Against the War:

IVAW Member Victor Agosto Refuses Deployment to Afghanistan


By Dahr Jamail, IPS News, Support Victor by making a donation to his legal defense fund

"It’s a matter of what I’m willing to live with," Specialist Victor Agosto of the U.S. Army, who is refusing orders to deploy to Afghanistan, explained to IPS. "I’m not willing to participate in this occupation, knowing it is completely wrong."

Agosto, who returned from a 13-month deployment to Iraq in November 2007, is based at Fort Hood in Killeen, Texas. While in Iraq, Agosto never left his base, located in northern Iraq.

"I never had any traumatic experiences, never fired my weapon," Agosto told IPS in a phone interview. "I mostly worked in information technology, working on computers and keeping the network functioning well. But it was in Iraq that I turned against the occupations. Through my reading, and watching what was going on, I started to feel very guilty."

Dahr's book The Will to Resist: Soldiers Who Refuse to Fight in Iraq and Afghanistan will be published July 1st by Haymarket Books. If members note things like the above (and I see it in the e-mails), we'll include it in the morning. But our focus is in Iraq. Led by the networks, a huge number of people have packed up and headed for Afghanistan. Tom Hayden wrote another embarrassing column last week that, to read it, you'd assume it was Afghanistan in which over 139,000 US service members were stationed. We're not following the 'craze' and our focus remains Iraq.

I'm noting this video of IVAW co-chair Adam Kokesh:

He states: "Please share this, repost it, put it on your facebook status, etc. We're not starting the r3VOLution without you, but you don't want to get left behind! We can't do this without you . . ."

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nada bakri
the washington post
dahr jamail