Friday, June 24, 2011

Muddled 'leaders'

Joe Gould (Military Times -- link has text and video) reports Barack's carefully selected visit to Fort Drum which was supposed to provide excellent spin posing as press has backfired. Speaking to the troops present, Barack prattled on about being able to personally award Jared Monti with the Medal of Honor and how he remembers it because it was the first time he did that where it wasn't posthumously. Gould reports:

Except that Monti was receiving it posthumously. At a White House ceremony in 2009, Obama presented Sgt. 1st Class Monti’s parents with the medal for his heroic actions in Afghanistan. Monti, 30, was leading a scouting mission along the Pakistan border when a resupply helicopter blew the unit’s cover; Monti twice ran into gunfire to retrieve a wounded comrade before he was killed by an enemy grenade.
Obama appeared to have confused Monti with the only living Medal of Honor recipient, Sal Giunta. The president’s got plenty on his plate, to be sure. But if he’s sincere when he says that it’s his greatest honor to be the commander-in-chief, you’d think he’d be able to remember the lone recipient of the military’s highest honor.

There has been no apology as yet but, in an update, Gould notes Jay Carney, White House flack, has said Barack was tired and spoke off the top of his head.

Yesterday, Baghdad was slammed with bombings in what Tim Craig (Washington Post) notes was "the worst [attack] in Baghdad in several months." Xinhua notes a Baghdad home invasion targeting a Sahwa ("Awakening," "Sons Of Iraq") in which the Sahwa was killed and you can relate the two in Nouri's lack of concern about the security situation. Violence continues to get worse and has for months. For months, Nouri's refused to name a Minister of Defense, a Minister of Interior or a Minister of National Security. Those three security positions remain vacant and not even the increased violence has forced Nouri to do what, according to the Constitution, should have taken place months ago. Sahwa were largely Sunni fighters (but not just Sunni according to Gen David Petraeus) who were put on the US payroll so they would stop attacking US service members and equipment and they were supposed to transition to the Iraqi payroll and to Iraqi security jobs. Instead, Nouri became more infamous for not paying them, for issuing arrest warrants on them and for antagonizing them. As Sahwa felt targeted and persecuted and went unpaid, many became less and less concerned with risking their lives to work at keeping Iraq secure. There was concern among the US military brass that this would happen and that, if it did, the security situation would worsen.

The entire deterioration can and should be pinned on Nouri. He was the last prime minister and managed to become the new prime minister. He's been in power since spring 2006. The instability, lack of basic services, lack of jobs and increased violence are all a referendum of sorts on his 'leadership.'

Al Mada reports that drugs are on the rise in Iraq, illegal drug use and illegal drugs are flooding into the country. They note rumors that farms are being groomed to grow poppy (opium) and the denials of that grooming from the Agricultural Ministry which states it is monitoring all the fields. Increased drug use is another thing that's happened under Nouri's leadership. Considering the intolerance of drugs in Iran, no wonder the Iranian leadership is losing confidence in Nouri.
Meanwhile John Chua (New American Media) reports on Iraqi bloggers including those who post on Wahda:

The paucity of Arabic blogs in Iraq motivated us to launch Wahda in 2009. Since then a new wave of online activity has emerged, not just documenting and organizing protests or reporting on grievances, but also blogging about arts, culture and other specific interests.
There’s even a site called that catalogs the growing diversity of bloggers. Although many are still blogging in English, a growing number like (by young bloggers in Baghdad) and (about Armenian-Iraqi issues) are also using Arabic. Meanwhile, Wahda remains committed to encouraging people to communicate across sectarian divides and the best way to do so is with the language most Iraqis use—Arabic.
Attracting commentators from all over the country, Wahda is a central site for Iraqis to congregate online. Many of them have their ear to the ground. For example, it was a citizen journalist on who reported recently that the Kurdish Regional Government finally agreed to negotiate with the protestors, a news development largely ignored in the West.
Wahda gets over 18,000 visitors a month, a high figure considering only five percent of Iraqis have Internet at home. Even local mainstream media have taken notice of citizen journalism on Wahda and other sites. This is the general trend in the region.

I was and am unfamiliar with Wahda but the article mentioned former Iraqi bloggers like Riverbend so I checked it out. Today, at least, it's more of a lifestyle section and there's no indication that a war is taking place in Iraq. Only two articles on the main page qualify as news and one is on the KRG, the other is Faizan Aldanek's brief report (3 paragrahps) on Nasiriyah.

The following community sites -- plus and Jane Fonda -- updated last night and this morning:

And we'll close with this from the Santa Fe New Mexican's "Light? What Light? Bring 'em All Home"

The president couldn't have chosen worse words Wednesday as a framework for announcing a minimal troop withdrawal from Afghanistan: "The light of a secure peace can be seen in the distance."

Shades of Lyndon Johnson, linked forever to the "light at the end of the tunnel" he sought to show a press and public increasingly and properly wary of our war in Vietnam. That war, fought on behalf of a corrupt regime with our military's hands tied, would go on for another half-dozen years after Johnson's public-relations campaign on behalf of futility and 60,000 American deaths before we abandoned the place amid chaos.

I believe the editorial board of the Santa Fe New Mexican is the first to call for an immediate withdrawal from Afghanistan after Barack's speech this week.

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