A number of people are e-mailing this morning about Sgt. Eduviges G. Wolf who is identified in some reports (this one, for example) as having died in Iraq. She was killed in Afghanistan and you can click here for the DoD announcement of her death.
The deaths continue and, once upon a time, the Congress pretended to care enough to want 'benchmarks' placed on Iraq -- metrics to measure 'progress' -- with the supposed practice of not 'wasting lives' for something that could not be 'won'. (The then-White House wanted it as well but they're no longer around.) So the Bush administration came up with a set of benchmarks and Nouri al-Maliki signed off on them and, in 2007, there was the belief (lie) that these benchmarks would be met. It's 2009, nearly 2010, and they haven't been.
But where's the Congressional outcry? Where's the demand that US service members leave the country if there's no 'progress'?
This morning Dow Jones reports that the KRG's represenative Qubad Talabani is stating that, following the January elections, the draft oil law may "finally pass." Really? It might. In 2010?
(This is the theft of Iraqi oil law, by the way.) Provided that there are January elections.
Those elections were supposed to take place in December. They didn't. They were pushed back to January. Weeks ago was the deadline for passing the elections law and the deadline was missed. Appearing before the US House Armed Services Committee last week, the Pentagon's Michele Flournoy insisted that time remained:
Although the government of Iraq's self-imposed deadline of October 15th for passing the elections law has passed, we judge that the COR [Council Of Representatives] still has another week or two to come to some kind of an agreement on the elections law before it will put the January date -- the early January date -- in jeopardy in terms of the election commission's ability to actually physically execute the, uh, the election. If a new law with open lists is not passed, the fall back solution for them is to return to the 2005 election law which is based on a closed list system. But that could be used for upcoming elections, the COR would simply have to vote on an election date. If that law is not passed in the next two weeks, they will be looking at slipping the date to later in January which would still be compliant with the [Iraqi] Constitution but would be later than originally planned.
It is now one week since Flournoy claimed Iraq had two weeks. There is no progress. The same day she was testifying to Congress, " Rod Nordland (New York Times) reported, "The Iraqi Independent High Electoral Commission and United Nations elections experts have said Iraq needs at least 90 days to adequately prepare for the vote. Iraq's existing election law was declared unconstitutional by its highest court, which said it needs to be replaced or amended." The court ruling would appear to render obsolete Flournoy's claim that the law for the 2005 elections could still be used with just passage of legislation for a new date. In addition, 90 days? There are 3 days left in this month, 30 in November and 31 in December. That's 64.
90 days needed. 90 minus 64 (check my math always) is 26 days. That would be January 26th, if legislation passed Parliament today. If.
Following the 2006 mid-terms, which gave control of both houses of Congress to the Democrats, there was a lot of tough talk about Iraq. You see how that worked out, don't you. No 'progress' and no more pretending to be distressed or bothered by that lack of 'progress' from the Congress. A lot of pretending that the Iraq War has ended or ends next week. In reality, Pamela E. Walck (Savannah Morning News) reports Fort Stewart is sending 400 soldiers from the 2nd Heavy Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry to Iraq for a year. Jessica Fitzgerald's husband (Spc Kevin Fitzgerald) is among those deploying and she tells Walck, "This is his second deployment. It's not any easier this time." Spc Carla Robinson tells Walck, "I'm really feeling pretty positive right now. The sooner we get there, the sooner we can come home." And Sgt Brandon Bodily states, "This is my first deployment. I'm just hoping I come back safely." P. Norman Moody (Floriday Today) reports, "Florida National Guard soldiers from Cocoa began intense training this week for deployment in January to Iraq and Kuwait. The Guard's 53rd Infantry Brigade kicked off the training for 2,500 troops in what's expected to be the largest single-unit deployment of the Florida National Guard since World War II."
The Iraqi Freedom Congress' Amjad Ali weighs in with "Amid violence, Iraq Freedom Congress calls for a sovereign, secular, transitional government" (Flesh & Stone):
Over nearly seven years the "political process" did not result in anything but ferocious fighting between the forces and the parties that were part of this process in order to gain as much privilege, influence, power and wealth as possible. This conflict resulted in prolongation of the political chaos, an insecurity in Iraq, exacerbated poverty and destitution, and curtailed social and health services.
The elections, one of the mechanisms of imposing the "political process," have never solved the issue of the power struggle because none of the elections held changed the sectarian and ethnic quotas. And that means the elections merely reproduced the same forces that are currently in power.
All of the elections have been characterized by farces such as fraud, political assassinations, and the delayed announcement of voting results until agreements among the influential forces had been reached. However, after every election, we witnessed an increase of violence and terrorist activities as part of political arm twisting among these forces.
National reconciliation was one of the themes to bring together the political movements that did not participate in power sharing with the forces that supported the war and occupation. The reconciliation was projected by the occupation administration to involve the pan-Arab nationalist forces who were excluded from the formation of a new Iraq to impose security and political stability. However, fears of the parties in power (political Islam, Shiite in particular, and Kurdish nationalists) has undermined national reconciliation.
In the midst of the current political situation, neither the occupation nor the successive governments have been able to establish a state in Iraq. The conflict among the parties and the forces has always been a key factor in that lack of progress. Moreover, the conflict over what would be the identity of the state -- whether an Islamist Shiite, a Islamist Sunni, Arab nationalist, or federal moderate Islamist --is another obstacle to the establishment of an Iraqi state.
The ongoing violence, which is another form of political conflict, will not end through a political process that was brought by the occupation. And the experience of nearly seven years of conflict between the political forces taught us that the violence would not be terminated. In fact, it would only reproduce more violence and terror. What is happening today, such as restructuring old alliances and forming new ones and the escalation of the conflicts within the one party, is an explanation of how deep the crisis is. As a result we could hear the prime minister and a number of political parties calling for an end to the rule of consensus or democracy through consensus.
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