Sunday, July 18, 2010

And the war drags on . . .

James in Brighton sent a link to crazy ass Patrick Cockburn and noted that I should "read all the way through." My first thought was, "Does James have a fever? Why is he sending me this crap? And he loathes Patrick Cockburn more than even I do." So I read over the usual prattle from the slowest reporter in the world -- this is the man who, please remember, 'confused' a stoning with a hanging. This is all the man who sniffs Nouri al-Maliki's dirty briefs like they're cocaine. And Crazy Ass Cockburn is writing about how the Iraq War is over. He's the worst writer in the world -- not only with facts but his prose is bad, really bad. If he wasn't part of the circle jerk, he would have been publicly ridiculed long ago. (His relatives include Laura Flanders and Alexander Cockburn.) So I'm wondering why does anyone believe this liar at this late date and then I get to the pay-off: The comments. And, in fact, no one does. He's called out (rightly) for being unable "to attribute responsibility for state-terrorism to countries and leaders the world still regards as civilized" and instead blaming Iraqis for the state of their country, he's called out for his simplistic statements re: Iraqi oil ("Talk about showing a breathtaking lack of understanding. Would a single American tanks have rolled a single yeard without all that Iraqi oil wealth."), he's called out for buying into the SOFA (mocked with, "This must be that dry British humor we've heard all about, eh?"), he's called out for significant omissions ("No mention of the massive city within a city Baghad 'embassy'/CIA base, or the [*]7+massiver permanent military bases the US is leaving scattered around Iraq then? Nope, because that would be journalism.") repeatedly ("A good point. The US' largest embassy is somehow magically impervious to mainstream reporting. Almost like somebody gave out a list of topics to avoid.") For the comments only, here is a link to Crazy Ass Cockburn's "America lowers the flag" at the Independent of London. The comments tell on the liar and demonstrate that people are watching, people are aware of who the media whores are, the ones who have enabled the continuation of this illegal war -- one Cock burn fell in like -- if not love -- with once Barack Obama became the US president -- just another pathetic outsider obsessing over someone else's house and unable to get his own in order. Just another pathetic baby raised to worship an authoritarian figure all his life. In the last few years of the (ongoing) Iraq War, Patrick Cockburn's 'reporting' has been as damaging to truth as was Judith Miller's.

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 4412. Tonight? 4412.

Patty Cockburn tells us the war is over. Of course it's not. It did end for approximately 50 Sunnis today. Ernesto Londono (Washington Post) reports, "Two suicide bombings targeting members of local guard forces killed at least 48 people Sunday and heightened concern about the future of the groups as the number of U.S. troops in the country is reduced." Ned Parker and Usama Redha (Los Angeles Times) add, "The two bombers blew themselves up as Awakening movement fighters approached to question the pair, who were standing outside the Iraqi army base in Radwaniya, witnesses and security officials said. At least 42 people were killed in the attack southwest of Baghdad that officials said was carried out by two mentally disabled men. Farther west, Awakening members were assaulted by a gunman who opened fire on their headquarters in the town of Qaim near the Syrian border. After being wounded, the gunman detonated explosives strapped to his body, killing four of the Awakening members, security officials said." Sahwa, "Awakenings" and "Sons Of Iraq" are some of the names. BBC News offers a fact sheet here. Please note, despite what the BBC says, Sahwa were apparently not all Sunnis. According to Gen David Petraeus when he testified before Congress in April 2008, there were some Shi'ites as well. For example, from the April 8, 2008 snapshot:

The most dramatic moment came as committee chair Carl Levin was questioning Petraeus and a man in the gallery began exclaiming "Bring them home!" repeatedly. (He did so at least 16 times before he was escor[t]ed out). The most hilarious moment was hearing Petraeus explain that it's tough in the school yard and America needs to fork over their lunch money in Iraq to avoid getting beat up. In his opening remarks, Petraues explained of the "Awakening" Council (aka "Sons of Iraq," et al) that it was a good thing "there are now over 91,000 Sons of Iraq -- Shia as well as Sunni -- under contract to help Coalition and Iraqi Forces protect their neighborhoods and secure infrastructure and roads. These volunteers have contributed significantly in various areas, and the savings in vehicles not lost because of reduced violence -- not to mention the priceless lives saved -- have far outweighed the cost of their monthly contracts." Again, the US must fork over their lunch money, apparently, to avoid being beat up.
How much lunch money is the US forking over? Members of the "Awakening" Council are paid, by the US, a minimum of $300 a month (US dollars). By Petraeus' figures that mean the US is paying $27,300,000 a month. $27 million a month is going to the "Awakening" Councils who, Petraeus brags, have led to "savings in vehicles not lost". Again, in this morning's hearings, the top commander in Iraq explained that the US strategy is forking over the lunch money to school yard bullies. What a pride moment for the country.
Crocker's entire testimony can be boiled down to a statement he made in his opening statements, "What has been achieved is substantial, but it is also reversible." Which would translate in the real world as nothing has really changed. During questioning from Senator Jack Reed, Crocker would rush to shore up the "Awakening" Council members as well. He would say there were about 90,000 of them and, pay attention, the transitioning of them is delayed due to "illliteracy and physical disabilities."

We can go over that repeatedly. Petraeus appeared several times before Congress that week, we attended the hearings and reported on all of them. Petraeus did not fumble, did not stumble when making the assertion that Shia were also part of the Sahwa. Not only did no member of ever Congress ever question him on it, but over two years later the press never has either. Since he was testifying before Congress and since no one has ever questioned his assertion (made more than once in the April hearings), we'll assume he was telling the truth.

From that day's snapshot we'll note Senator Barbara Boxer as well to provide more information on Sahwa:

She wanted to know about the training, all the training, that had gone on and then on again. "We've done a lot for the Iraqis just in terms of the numbers themselves," Boxer declared. "I'll tell you what concerns me and most of my constituents, you said -- many times -- the gains in Iraq are fragile and reversable. . . . So my constituents and I believe that" after all the deaths, all the money, "you have to wonder why the best that you can say is that the gains are fragile and reversable." Noting the lack of military success and Hagel's points, Boxer pointed out that nothing was being done diplomatically "and I listened carefully to Senator Hagel and Ambassador Crocker -- from the answer you gave him, I don't get the" feeling that the White House has given anything, it's still "the status quo. She then turned to the issue of monies and the militias, "You are asking us for millions more to pay off the militias and, by the way, I have an article here that says Maliki recently told a London paper that he was concerned about half of them" and wouldn't put them into the forces because he doubts their loyalty. She noted that $182 million a year was being paid, $18 million a month, to these "Awakening" Council members and "why don't you ask the Iraqis to pay the entire cost of that progam" because as Senator Lugar pointed out, "It could be an opportunity" for the Iraqi government "to turn it into something more long term." This is a point, she declared, that she intends to bring up when it's time to vote on the next spending supplamental. Crocker tried to split hairs.
Boxer: I asked you why they couldn't pay for it. . . . I don't want to argue a point. . . I'm just asking you why we would object to asking them to pay for that entire program giving all that we are giving them in blood and everything else?
Crocker declared that he'd take that point back to Iraq when he returned.

Despite repeated announcements by the US government -- which the press dutifuly repeated without verifying -- the US government continued payment of some Sahwa well into 2010. These days, most wait and wait for Nouri to pay them. Most complain that the payments are two or three months behind.

Remember, the Sahwa is the 'answer' Petraeus is currently pushing in Afghanistan.

In other violence today . . .

Mohammed Al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports
a Baghdad sticky bombing claimed 1 life and injured three people, a Baghdad roadside bombing wounded two people, and, dropping back to yesterday, another claimed Sahwa member Amir Kathim

Reuters notes 1 Iraqi soldier was shot dead in Kirkuk.

Jason Ditz ( observes
, "Today’s attack is just the latest in a string of high profile attacks that have killed hundreds this month, suggesting that the relative calm of June is the exception, rather than the rule, and that the several months prior of rising violence is a trend that is continuing into the sweltering Iraqi summer."

New content at Third:

Isaiah's latest goes up after this and Pru notes Sian Ruddick's "Anti-war soldier Joe Glenton is released from military prison" (Great Britian's Socialist Worker):

Joe Glenton, the British soldier who refused to fight in Afghanistan, was released from military prison on Monday after serving four months for going absent without leave (Awol).

He walked out of the gates of the prison in Colchester to cheers from his supporters. His wife Clare and his mother Sue were with him.

Joe became disillusioned with the war and is suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder after his first tour.

Joe told Socialist Worker, “It feels absolutely fantastic to be out.

“I stand by what I did. I’d do another four months just to show them up. The other prisoners didn’t have a bad word to say to me.”

Joe and his family are calling for British troops to be pulled out of Afghanistan, as the number of deaths intensify in the country.

Sue said, “We’re celebrating Joe coming home today. But there are 314 other families who can’t celebrate and we’re very aware of that.

“They’re not going to see their loved ones again—it’s really sad. And there are going to be more tragic deaths in Afghanistan.”

Clare told Socialist Worker, “It’s really important what Joe did. He got so many letters of support inside, which shows what people really think about the war.”


Sue added, “Joe’s tapped into something. People in this country don’t think we should be in Afghanistan.

“We’re not benefiting the Afghans and it’s not benefiting our country.

“I’m really proud of Joe. Soldiers have a conscience and are still human beings.”

Joe said, “It’s got to the point where people who previously weren’t that interested have come to the conclusion that there’s something fundamentally wrong and excuses aren’t good enough any more.

“The government is completely detached from the working class lads that go to fight in these wars.

“These lads have given me massive support. Soldiers are from low-income families, working class backgrounds.

“They’re given glossy brochures about the army and it doesn’t work out like that.

“It soon becomes clear that they’re lubricating the ambitions of the people in power with their own blood.

“If the politicians are so keen to get out there and drum up jingoism then they should put their own lives on the line.

“Those guys who have died won’t have a homecoming like I have today.

“That loss is personal for me. I’ve had mates who died out there so I take it to heart.”

Joe was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder when he returned from Afghanistan. But the army refused to recognise the condition for months and bullied him instead of providing treatment.

Joe said, “Soldiers come off tour damaged physically and psychologically.


“There are a lot of cases of domestic violence, alcoholism, drugs—people come back and explode because there’s no support.

“The extent of my debrief was to be told, ‘don’t go home and beat up the wife’.

“Former soldiers are on the scrapheap with 20,000 in the justice system and who knows how many more on the streets once their use to the army is expended.

“In the economic crisis it may seem a tempting option to join the army. But I’d say don’t do it because we’re involved in something very sordid in Afghanistan.”

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