Saturday, December 18, 2010

As Tina sang, We don't need another hero

Luis Moreno-Ocampo is useless and a sign of the futility of so much of the left. The Argentine became the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court June 16, 2003, shortly after the Iraq War began. And many on the left wasted years attempting to get another Big Daddy to rescue them. Whether it's Democratic Underground or any of the other worthless and phallic worshiping websites, they repeatedly insisted Moreno-Ocampo was going to be the savior and he just needed to be appealed to.

All you folks think you run my life
Say I should be willing to compromise
I say all you demons go back to hell
I'll save my soul save myself
-- "Crossroads," written by Tracy Chapman, first appears on her album of the same name

Instead of repeatedly pining for a hero to emerge and pinning all their hopes on some man -- it's always a man for that group of lefties (though they work overtime to build up Elizabeth Warren to prove they're not sexists) -- they might try less jerking off and more activism. Then again, no one should be robbed of their sole talent so maybe they should just continue as is.

In May of 2005, Richard Norton-Taylor (Guardian) reported:

Lawyers acting for anti-war groups yesterday presented the international criminal court with evidence which, they say, shows that the government acted unlawfully by participating in the US-led invasion of Iraq.
They say that British forces acted out of all proportion to the official war aim - ridding Iraq of its banned weapons programme but not regime change.
They also argue that British troops acted, and were ordered to act, beyond the bounds of military necessity. British soldiers acted unlawfully by detaining and, they allege, mistreating Iraqi civilians, and by targeting cluster munitions on urban areas.

The attorneys were correct to file, they have to pursue any and all potential avenues. But the open letter referred to earlier? It emerges in July of 2008. Long after people should have noticed -- five years after Luis Moreno-Ocampo took over as the prosecutor for the ICC -- that he wasn't doing a damn thing and didn't plan on it.

For public consumption, he often talked a good game. For example, in March 2007 (four years after the start of the illegal war), Gethin Chamberlain (Telegraph of London) reported:

Tony Blair faces the prospect of an International Criminal Court investigation for alleged coalition war crimes in Iraq.
The court's chief prosecutor told The Sunday Telegraph that he would be willing to launch an inquiry and could envisage a scenario in which the Prime Minister and American President George W Bush could one day face charges at The Hague.
Luis Moreno-Ocampo urged Arab countries, particularly Iraq, to sign up to the court to enable allegations against the West to be pursued. Iraq's ambassador to the United Nations said that his country was actively considering signing up.

Afua Hirsch (Guardian) reports today on a WikiLeaks released US State Dept cable which fouces on Luis Moreno-Ocampo and was written in 2003 and concludes, "Privately, Ocampo has said that he wishes to dsipose of Iraq issues (ie Not to investigate them.)" He played a good performance on the world state, he just never meant it and a lot of time was wasted drooling over the notion that this man was going to save us all. That sort of thinking is not only futile in and of itself, it prevents real actions from taking place as everyone dreams that some man is going to be their winning lotto ticket.

Luis Moreno-Ocampo was never going to end the Iraq War, punish the aggressors responsible for it or do a damn thing on the issue. By the time the open letter was circulating, 2008, that was very obvious. The US State Dept cable indicates that it was obvious to the US government in 2003. (Title refers to Tina Turner's hit from the Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome film "We Don't Need Another Hero.")

In other news, Ned Parker and Raheem Salman (Los Angeles Times) report three Sunni politicians who were banned when they attempted to run in the March elections have been 'unbanned.' Liz Sly and Aaron C. Davis (Washington Post) report that, "Iraq's main Sunni bloc said Saturday that it will definitely participate in the next Iraqi government, after parliament implemented one of its key conditions and cleared the way for Shiite Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki to announce at least a partial cabinet in the coming week." That doesn't mean things have been solved with this issue (let alone others) or that this is the end of the story on this issue. Rawya Rageh (Al Jazeera) points out, "We understand that his [al-Maliki's] longstanding rival, the former prime minister Iyad Allawi, had said on Friday he's agreed to be part of the government, on condition that actually they become real partners. It seems that all the main hurdles for now have been overcome but you never know, in Iraqi politics everything can change in the 11th hour." Jack Healy (New York Times) covers the story better than many but this passage appears to have a problem:

It also clears the way for Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki to name his cabinet, potentially ending nine months of feuding and political drift that has followed inconclusive national elections in March.
Mr. Maliki's allies said he could announce a new government as early as Monday, five days before he is required to do so under a constitutionally mandated deadline.

That's not how Nouri himself interpreted Article 76 in 2006. Why the hell would we change the interpretation now?

Here's Article 76 from the Iraqi Constitution (PDF format warning, click here):

Article 76:
First: The President of the Republic shall charge the nominee of the largest
Council of Representatives bloc with the formation of the Council of Ministers
within fifteen days from the date of the election of the President of the Republic.
Second: The Prime Minister-designate shall undertake the naming of the members
of his Council of Ministers within a period not to exceed thirty days from the date
of his designation.
Third: If the Prime Minister-designate fails to form the Council of Ministers
during the period specified in clause “Second,” the President of the Republic shall
charge a new nominee for the post of Prime Minister within fifteen days.
Fourth: The Prime Minister-designate shall present the names of his members of
the Council of Ministers and the ministerial program to the Council of
Representatives. He is deemed to have gained its confidence upon the approval,
by an absolute majority of the Council of Representatives, of the individual
Ministers and the ministerial program.
Fifth: The President of the Republic shall charge another nominee to form the
Council of Ministers within fifteen days in case the Council of Ministers did not
win the vote of confidence.

These are five steps and they're all under the 30 day clause. The fifteen days is repeating and the third and fifth clause. Not only that section Article 61, Section 8, subsection D on the withdrawal of consent by the Council of Ministers touches on similar issues.

In 2006, Nouri didn't interpret it to mean that 30 days to form a government meant you had 30 days to find nominees and then you had additional time to get them voted on. That's an intriguing, novel and new interpretation of Article 76 -- one that would appear to exist today solely because Nouri can't meet the deadline. Forming a government means having ministers and a program -- not a nominated program and some people the prime minister-designate really hopes the Parliament will approve. Clock should be ticking for Nouri, instead efforts are made to provide him with additional time.

March 7th, Iraq concluded Parliamentary elections. The Guardian's editorial board noted in August, "These elections were hailed prematurely by Mr Obama as a success, but everything that has happened since has surely doused that optimism in a cold shower of reality." 163 seats are needed to form the executive government (prime minister and council of ministers). When no single slate wins 163 seats (or possibly higher -- 163 is the number today but the Parliament added seats this election and, in four more years, they may add more which could increase the number of seats needed to form the executive government), power-sharing coalitions must be formed with other slates, parties and/or individual candidates. (Eight Parliament seats were awarded, for example, to minority candidates who represent various religious minorities in Iraq.) Ayad Allawi is the head of Iraqiya which won 91 seats in the Parliament making it the biggest seat holder. Second place went to State Of Law which Nouri al-Maliki, the current prime minister, heads. They won 89 seats. Nouri made a big show of lodging complaints and issuing allegations to distract and delay the certification of the initial results while he formed a power-sharing coalition with third place winner Iraqi National Alliance -- this coalition still does not give them 163 seats. November 10th a power sharing deal resulted in the Parliament meeting for the second time and voting in a Speaker. And then Iraqiya felt double crossed on the deal and the bulk of their members stormed out of the Parliament. David Ignatius (Washington Post) explains, "The fragility of the coalition was dramatically obvious Thursday as members of the Iraqiya party, which represents Sunnis, walked out of Parliament, claiming that they were already being double-crossed by Maliki. Iraqi politics is always an exercise in brinkmanship, and the compromises unfortunately remain of the save-your-neck variety, rather than reflecting a deeper accord. " After that, Jalal Talabani was voted President of Iraq. Talabani then named Nouri as the prime minister-delegate. If Nouri can meet the conditions outlined in Article 76 of the Constitution (basically nominate ministers for each council and have Parliament vote to approve each one with a minimum of 163 votes each time and to vote for his council program) within thirty days, he becomes the prime minister. If not, Talabani must name another prime minister-delegate. In 2005, Iraq took four months and seven days to pick a prime minister-delegate. It took eight months and two days to name Nouri as prime minister-delegate. His first go-round, on April 22, 2006, his thirty day limit kicked in. May 20, 2006, he announced his cabinet -- sort of. Sort of because he didn't nominate a Minister of Defense, a Minister of Interior and a Minister of a National Security. This was accomplished, John F. Burns wrote in "For Some, a Last, Best Hope for U.S. Efforts in Iraq" (New York Times), only with "muscular" assistance from the Bush White House. Nouri declared he would be the Interior Ministry temporarily. Temporarily lasted until June 8, 2006. This was when the US was able to strong-arm, when they'd knocked out the other choice for prime minister (Ibrahim al-Jaafari) to install puppet Nouri and when they had over 100,000 troops on the ground in Iraq. Nouri had no competition. That's very different from today. The Constitution is very clear and it is doubtful his opponents -- including within his own alliance -- will look the other way if he can't fill all the posts in 30 days. As Leila Fadel (Washington Post) observes, "With the three top slots resolved, Maliki will now begin to distribute ministries and other top jobs, a process that has the potential to be as divisive as the initial phase of government formation." Jane Arraf (Christian Science Monitor) points out, "Maliki now has 30 days to decide on cabinet posts - some of which will likely go to Iraqiya - and put together a full government. His governing coalition owes part of its existence to followers of hard-line cleric Muqtada al Sadr, leading Sunnis and others to believe that his government will be indebted to Iran." The stalemate ends when the country has a prime minister. It is now nine months, nine days and counting. Thursday November 25th, Nouri was finally 'officially' named prime minister-designate. Leila Fadel (Washington Post) explained, "In 30 days, he is to present his cabinet to parliament or lose the nomination." Steven Lee Myers (New York Times) added, "Even if Mr. Maliki meets the 30-day deadline in late December -- which is not a certainty, given the chronic disregard for legal deadlines in Iraqi politics -- the country will have spent more than nine months under a caretaker government without a functioning legislature. Many of Iraq's most critical needs -- from basic services to investment -- have remained unaddressed throughout the impasse." Jane Arraf (Al Jazeera) offered, "He has an extremely difficult task ahed of him, these next 30 days are going to be a very tough sell for all of these parties that all want something very important in this government. It took a record eight months to actually come up with this coalition, but now what al-Maliki has to do is put all those people in the competing positions that backed him into slots in the government and he has a month to day that from today."

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