Wednesday, August 19, 2009

'Oh, Right, That Iraq Thing's Still Going On'

For some reason, this story has not received as much attention as it ought to. Turns out that United States General Ray Odierno and Iraq's leadership are at odds over the timetable for the departure of American forces. How this issue gets resolved is likely to have major implications for both countries and, perhaps, the wider region.
After the U.S. overthrew Saddam in 2003, the northern part of the country turned into a political free-for-all with Arabs, Kurds and Turkmen competing for rights to the oil-rich city of Kirkuk. In recent months, violence in the surrounding area has climbed and Odierno now wants to deploy troops to the north of the country to help tamp down the fighting. This would involve American troops patrolling with Iraqi army troops and the Kurdish Peshmerga.

The above is the opening to Charles Cooper's "Oh, Right, That Iraq Thing's Still Going On" (Coop's Corner, CBS News). And, yes, the Iraq War drags on. Cooper notes a hypothesis that Nouri al-Maliki is calling for a referendum on the Status Of Forces Agreement as an attemp tto curry favor with Iran or do its bidding. Just as likely, it's more empty words from Nouri as he tries to garner votes -- see yesterday's snapshot. (A politician making empty promises? In the United States, we certainly know nothing -- NOTHING -- about that.) And, as usual, there seems to be a sense on the part of many to go literal and stay there.

What if the vote does take place? What if Iraqis reject the SOFA? If Nouri remains as prime minister, is he bound by that? He's done nothing prior to indicate he listens to the Iraqi people. Nouri may well support a vote (or may be rigging something that appears to look like that which then blows up in Parliament's face) but would 'security issues' bind Nouri to a referendum vote? Nouri's been consolidating a great deal of power. Daniel Atzmon (Foreign Policy In Focus) wrote about that this month, "The Bully in Baghdad," but few others seem to notice. [The New York Times deliberately looks the other way and have tossed aside any shot at reporting to pitch their lots with Nouri. You wonder if there's a violent 'palace coup,' do the Times stenographers go down with Nouri?]

The Iraq War drags on. And Tom Hayden, Opportunist Supreme, can be found pontificating about Afghanistan and completely unconcered with Iraq. A typical Tom move. He did it with Vietnam as well. Right before he was kicked out of the commune (for his sexist and worst behavior -- criminal behavior?), right before he got excommunicated and had to live under an alias (not from the government, the FBI was visiting Tom all the time in his 'underground period,' Tom was hiding out from the left while using the name Troy), Tom had grown bored with Vietnam as well. It was only when his lust for 'Hollywood' (Tom was always film obsessed -- and fame obsessed) that he suddenly re-emerged as Mr. Vietnam. Even then, he quickly lost interest and that scatter brained inability to commit to anything explains not only his personal life (ouch!) but also why "I Will Be a US Senator!" not only never made it to the US Congress but couldn't even remain in the state assembly in California (despite the natural advantage incumbents have). So Tommy does the only thing he's good at -- ask any woman -- he moves on.

And he's far from alone.

But the Iraq War hasn't ended. And with the opining vacuum, Hayden, Norman Solomon, Katrina vanden Heuvel, Matthew Rothschild, John Nichols and all the other pikers have left, don't expect it to remain empty. Many people in this country still give a damn about ending the Iraq War. And maybe they'll turn to voices like Douglas Cohn and Eleanor Clift? The two are promoting federalism in Iraq in their latest column, "So much is still wrong in Iraq" (The Pocono Record). And, once upon a time, an active left decried that. But when the pikers WalkOn,, they abdicate their role in the debate and lose their ability to weigh in.

I do not support the US splitting Iraq into a federation. If Iraq chooses to split itself into that, it's Iraq's business. Cohen and Clift open with:

For six years we have been a voice in the wilderness, repeatedly warning that Iraq was going to break up along Sunni, Shiite and Kurdish ethnic lines, and it would do so with or without United States assistance, except that if it partitioned without our help, civil strife would do it instead.

Is it the right thing to do? It may or may not be the right thing for Iraq to do but it was always the wrong thing for the US to do. You do not go into another country and decide to split it up.

D.K. Jamaal (Progressive Examiner) digs into recent history to remind people Barack's never been the 'anti-war' candidate and how, when that was pointed out, the response was to falsely yell "racism!" If only Tom-Tom and all the other members of the Cult of St. Barack who cared so very, very much in 2008 would take accountability today. Jamaal explains:

As President, Obama has timidly held to Bush’s own plan to move troops from Iraqi cities by June 2009, this despite complaining about that deal as a Presidential candidate. Purportedly, the 130,000 American soldiers still in Iraq are now based in rural areas. Breaking his campaign promise to begin removing combat forces immediately, Obama told a Veterans of Foreign Wars convention yesterday, "We will begin removing our combat brigades from Iraq later this year."
Later this year? The President has already stepped back from his original May 2010 deadline for withdrawal of combat troops. Will the new August 2010 deadline hold or be broken also now that General Odierno, the commander of forces in Iraq, is requesting more troops?

In an update to yesterday's snapshot, an e-mail advises that War Criminal Lynndie England is being 'managed' and the book she's getting press on is not her book -- she didn't write it. The authors of the book are not invited on Lynndie's 'book tour'. The e-mail's verified by a friend who knows the writer. If the writer wishes to go public or wishes to be quoted anonymously, ___ will be. But I am noting War Criminal Lynndie is a on a for-show round of sympathy and the right-wing is pushing her. Her Library of Congress appearance was a stunt and I've also heard from people at the Library of Congress questioning the claims of death threats. In which case, that was yet another stunt to build sympathy for Lynndie. By the way, the book is Tortured and it was written by Gary S. Winkler whom I am told was not invited to the Library of Congress event despite offering to appear.

Zach notes John Piler's video at Information Clearing House where he speaks about Empire and Obama. This speech was also broadcast on KPFA's Flashpoints. I want to say it was last week. Independent journalist David Bacon reports on "Taft's New Community of Mixtec Farmworkers" (ImmigrationProf Blog):

Taft was once a speculator's boomtown, surrounded by a forest of oil wells, hotbed the state's burgeoning petroleum industry. Today it is a divided community, home to a growing farm worker population, who work in the fields of the southern San Joaquin Valley. Hundreds of families have migrated to Taft from the town of San Pablo Tijaltepec in Oaxaca, in southern Mexico. These Mixtec migrants charge that they are not treated as welcome participants in Taft's town life. Meanwhile, families try to preserve the indigenous Mixtec culture they've brought with them, while working and sending money home to those who depend on remittances from the north to survive.

David Bacon's latest book is Illegal People -- How Globalization Creates Migration and Criminalizes Immigrants (Beacon Press) which just won the CLR James Award.

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thomas friedman is a great man

oh boy it never ends