Monday, July 06, 2009

Pilger, US role in Iraq

So what we will see as Obama has said, we will see American ground troops gradually withdrawn. But as they do so, the use of electronic weaponry and bombing will increase. Unless there is an understanding of this in this country, unless people stopped taking the pronouncements of governments at their word. When Obama went to Annapolis and said we’re getting out of Iraq and appeared to be giving a timetable, within a matter of weeks, I believe, General Casey contradicted him and said -- we will probably be there for another 10 years. And other Pentagon generals put it even higher, 15 years.

John Pilger on today's Democracy Now!, "John Pilger on Honduras, Iran, Gaza, the Corporate Media, Obama’s Wars and Resisting the American Empire." In today's New York Times, Alissa J. Rubin contributes "America's New Role in Iraq Prompts a Search for Means of Influence" which is billed as "NEWS ANALYSIS." Rubin offers her take (with help from Sheryl Gay Stolberg) on where things stand now on the ground in Iraq. She offers:

Many Iraqis say that since the Obama administration took office, America's policy towards Iraq has seemed unfocused and distant. In interviews, more than a dozen Iraqi policy makers felt that Iraq had been displaced by concerns about Afghanistan and Pakistan and that the administration had not given much thought to Iraq beyond its resolve to get the troops out.

Rubin states US officials require "a new tone" due to their "reputation for being heavy-handed". She also notes that "the Americans helped most leading Iraqi politicians, including Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, come to power -- and stay there -- they can no longer expect the Iraqis to acknowledge the help, because being close to the Americans risks alienating average Iraqis." The first half of the sentence is remarkable for the New York Times. The second half really should have led to an exploration of US troops but it doesn't. This is where the point needs to be made that when Iraqi leaders are attacking US troops in their public remarks (as Nouri has), they are creating a climate that is very dangerous. I'm not talking about the degredation for the US military on the international stage (that is taking place but someone else can explore that), I'm talking about a country where the US is (rightly) seen as occupiers and foreigners and the people do not trust them or want them present and then you add in a national figure who regularly degrades them with his remarks?

Here's what could happen, underscore "could." As Nouri tries to achieve popularity in Iraq (ahead of the January elections), he moves from degrading US troops to degrading Barack Obama. At that point you damn well better believe the White House will object. Now they didn't object earlier this year when Nouri trashed Joe Biden. They had no problem with it and Barack even joked about it publicly.

The White House has sent a message to Nouri and the world by 'okaying' the mockery of Biden and their continued refusal to call out Nouri's verbal attacks on the US military send a message at well.

And it sends a message within the US as well but that wouldn't fall under Rubin's scope.

On the New York Times. Last night, I typed, "The New York Times. Which is honestly why I'm doing this so late. I was not in the mood to take the paper out of it's blue plastic baggie." A number of e-mails to the public account indicate I need to clear that up. I have no problem making fun of the paper, I have no problem calling it out, I have no problem raging against it. (It's also praised here when it has earned it.) But that statement wasn't intended as an attack on the paper. If I were attacking, I would have offered more than aside. The dread of pulling the paper out of the bag it's delivered in wasn't about the paper, it was about having to go online. That's what yesterday's comment meant; however, a number of drive-by e-mails offer praise for my 'calling out' the paper. We've called it out frequently (we've called Rubin out frequently, we've praised her as well). Last night's comment was about five years in November and no day off. For those late to the party, the plan (announced in the summer 2005) was for this site to go dark after the 2008 election. That didn't happen for a variety of reasons (including Stan wanting to start a site but not wanting to do it when everyone else was shutting down). Some people are having the times of their lives and great for them. But Elaine, Ava and I are ready to shut down shop. For Stan and other reasons, I agreed to six months more and that's all I'm agreeing to this point, six month installments. I've agreed to a second six months which will take us through November 2009. It'll be five years, there's never been a day off and, for drive-bys who don't know, the weekend's are not 'off' time or 'down' time (I guess it's the latter since we still post entries here on the weekends). The weekends are working on Third Estate Sunday Review. I'm thrilled with the community -- members with their own websites and those without, members who do community newsletters, and everyone -- but on holidays especially, and especially now, my attitude is more and more, "I'm just not in the mood."

And to use that to leap to the e-mails. Before we get to not in the mood e-mails, a number of community members are noting that "Editorial: Taking sexism seriously" from Third is reposted at The New Agenda. I asked Ava and Jess if they knew and they didn't but we're more than fine with it. TNA gave credit so it's not a problem and good for them because, honestly, every time something like that editorial is posted, my phone won't stop ringing with feminist friends calling (Ava's phone doesn't stop ringing either) but while they applaud it, they can't 'touch it' because it would 'backfire' on them -- but they're really, really glad we're covering it. Really. Really really. So good for TNA. What they've done by reposting it is underscoring that their mission is improving the status of women, not in improving their own personal status and, more and more, it's very hard to look at the established organizations and not feel that they've become more about the leaders' personal status and less and less about actually improving women's lives.

Okay, now to the not-in-the-mood e-mails. Ava ripped apart a woman early in 2008 when she sent us her bad and sexist 'parody' of Hillary in bed. You'd think when Ava sends you a blistering e-mail (and it was blistering), you'd know that we're not interested in your writing. But Palin's announcement Friday (Sarah Palin) means the same woman has shown up with a new 'parody' of . . . you guessed it, Sarah Palin in bed. (To clarify that, both the Hillary 'parody' and the Palin 'parody' are not of the two women sleeping, they are of the women attempting to have sex.) We're not interested, we're never going to be interested, I don't know why you continue to send us your crap. Considering that you hopped on board the USS Barack and that you supposedly care about ending the Iraq War, it would appear that it's long passed the point where you should be turning your bad writing to a parody of Barack in bed. Here's a suggestion for you: He promises he'll pull out and then doesn't. You know, just like with Iraq.

I'm not interested in your "What Jesus would do" columns. I'm a grown woman with kids. Would Jesus have done natural child birth? I don't know and I don't care. I certainly don't ask myself, when climbing into bed with a man, "What would Jesus do? Would Jesus go down?" Do you think Jesus would do that? I don't. Guess what, I don't have Christ complex or any desire to sit around sifting through simplistic columns wondering what ANY ONE would do. Like most people today, I'm living my life and making a thousand mistakes as I go along. You worry where Jesus would stand on the various political issues of today, I'm not a religious figure come back to life. I'm not Jesus, I'm not the Budda, I'm not Mohammed, I'm not Hera. I am a highly flawed human being and I'm really not basing my political decisions on what some religious figure might or might not do according to some half-baked crackpot who thought they stumbled upon a writing device but really just demonstrated the thin-to-non-existent connection between actual thought and writing.

To be clear, a philosophical dialogue on an issue (using any historical figure) would be of potential interest. (Philosophy was one of my fields of study in grad school.) That sort of exploration won't be breezily written in less than eight minutes. Nor will it be so devoid of any indication that an issue was actually grappled with.

Still on the e-mails. If you're sending something you've written that's been published somewhere else, please include a link so we can provide that link. Generally speaking, unless it's an action, we excerpt here.

If it's Iraq, it has a good chance of being up here. If it's not Iraq? Don't e-mail, "You need to . . ." I don't need to do anything online. I don't need to do a thing. And we're not interested in Barack's garbage health care non-plan. What's the faux left argument there, "We'll get it passed (whatever it is) and then hold his feet to the fire to fix it!"? I'm still remembering them (Tom Hayden, Laura Flanders and all the other liars) swearing during the primaries that he had to get the nomination and then they'd hold his feet to the fire. He got the nomination. Well they'd hold his feet to the fire when he won the election. It was so important, apparently, that 'feminist' Katha Pollitt even announced she had decided to stop calling out sexism to do her part to elect Barack. What a proud moment for Katha. He won the election. And still we wait for those people to hold his feet to the fire. Still we wait.

Not only do I not "need to" cover Barack's health care but you really don't want to piss me off on this issue because I did study and advocate for the Clinton plan back in the 90s and you really don't want me critiquing Barack's nonsense, you really don't want me to expose all the holes in it, all the problems and how ridiculous it is. So consider yourself fortunate that I'm ignoring it. And stop e-mailing or you may end up with a detailed critique of the non-plan. Also stop calling the president's fan base (his e-mail data base) a grassroots organization. When a group takes their marching orders from the president of the United States (regardless of whom the president is), they are not, in fact, a grassroots organization. They are servants to the powerful.

But to end the negativity, there was some good news, Robert McNamara is dead. Now we just have to wait for Hank Kissinger and all the big Vietnam War Criminals will be dead and gone. The big ones.

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