Wednesday, August 17, 2011

The US leaves Iraq when?

Washington is determined to continue pursuing the aims that motivated the invasion of 2003: domination of Iraq and its oil wealth and the use of Iraqi territory to project US military power throughout the region. Increasingly, US control over Iraq has been severely undermined by Iran’s substantial influence as well as by growing economic interests of other powers, including Turkey and China.
This is why the Pentagon and the Obama administration -- Obama's campaign pledges about ending the US war in Iraq notwithstanding -- are determined to maintain a military grip over the country.
Whether or not the Maliki government is able to secure a negotiated deal for extending the stay of US troops, Washington has worked to assure itself a continued military role. In eight years of occupation, the US has deliberately limited the capacities of the Iraqi military, leaving it without an air force or a navy and consequently the ability to protect the country's borders. US air power will continue to control the Iraqi skies no matter what decision is taken by Iraq's parliament.

That's from Bill Van Auken's "After wave of attacks, US signals troops could stay in Iraq" (WSWS). Note that WSWS publishes it, not The Nation, not The Progressive, not any of the publications who milked the Iraq War like a cash cow when Bush occupied the White House but can't be bothered with it today because they might have to call out Barack Obama and, goodness knows, that's just too damn difficult for them. Van Auken notes Hillary Clinton and Leon Panetta's embarrassing joint-appearance yesterday (there will be a third entry this morning commenting on Hillary and Leon) and for more on the statements about the US military remaining in Iraq, click here for Xinhua's text and audio report. Extension or withdrawal was addressed yesterday on The NewsHour (PBS -- link offers audio option, video and text). Excerpt:

MARGARET WARNER: Do they think it [violence] is related to the fact that, just two weeks ago, on Aug. 3, the Baghdad government, the Maliki government, and the U.S. announced that they were going to enter formal talks about extending the U.S. presence?

ANNIE GOWEN: Well, I think that's -- everybody has been holding their breath, you know, all the Iraqi citizens and the Americans here as well. I mean, that's like the $64,000 question here, which is, are the American troops going to go in total by the deadline? There's 46,000 here now, far fewer than were here during the surge in '07. But, you know, they're talking about maybe a force of 10,000 trainers that could stay, but, really, nobody knows. And the Iraqis haven't made a decision. And the American Army officials are just waiting for them to sort of agree behind the scenes as to what they're going to even ask for.

And, to clarify something, why do we say audio? A visitor e-mailed, "If it's video it will have audio." We note different options because different people benefit from different things. For example, if you had streaming issues because you were using an older computer or you didn't have DSL, knowing that there is an audio only option matters. That means you can listen to the link. When we note "audio," we mean audio by itself. The NewsHour has an audio component. (NBC Nightly News offers the option of an audio only podcast, FYI.)

Anna Mulrine (Christian Science Monitor) and Oren Dorell (USA Today) are among the many reporting on US Maj Gen Jeffrey Buchanan's remarks. Apparently someone speaks with the US government's approval and it's news for that reason only.

Though headline writers make an effort to stress (distort?) Buchanan's words, he didn't say anything new or different. Nouri al-Maliki has long stated that he believed Iraq could protect itself from internal threats. Buchanan also spoke of internal threats. The only purpose the series of articles (which fail to mention Nouri's earlier statements) might serve is to remind casual readers that the Iraq War continues.

It would have been great if the 'internal threat' statements could have been analyzed. Internal threats, Iraq's own people. Of course Nouri should be able to defend his puppet government against them, he's been armed to the teeth. But that's apparently not of interest. Stale quotes that repeat that which has already been said, however, is always of interest when it comes out of designated US official mouths.

The only thing of real news value in any of the reports comes from the report filed by Barbara Starr (CNN): "Buchanan also confirmed the United States is informally talking to Iraq about a continued U.S. troop presence in the country after the end of this year. He didn't rule out that troops could find themselves in combat in a new arrangement, but emphasized the expectation is Iraq will ask for help with training its troops."

I am not going to waste my morning on the New York Times. I'll merely note that the Erbil Agreement took place in November -- NOT December -- and the New York Times continues to look like the most uninformed outlet in the world as it repeatedly asserts that the Erbil Agreement took place in December (today the idiot is Michael Schmidt). We were noting the Erbil Agreement November 10, 2010. We covered it November 11, 2010 -- even noting Barack's now forgotten phone call to Ayad Allawi. Since Tim Arango and Schmidt have such a difficult time grasping when the Erbil Agreement was created (three days in November and you can check the KRG public statement applauding the agreement on the third day), maybe they should phone their colleague David E. Sanger who appeared November 12, 2010 on The Diane Rehm Show and, along with Nancy A. Youssef (McClatchy) and Rajiv Chndrasekaran (Washington Post), discussed the Erbil Agreement? He couldn't discuss an agreement in November if it wasn't created until December. It's as though they just create their 'facts' at the New York Times. (I grimaced at two things in Schmidt's article but was still planning to highlight a section of it until I got to the factual error. I'm just not in the mood and I don't understand how they keep making the same mistake over and over.)

Monday's snapshot noted, " Carnegie Middle East Center's Maria Fantappie sees additional problems between the political groupings and their leaders [. . .]" -- and she noted the growing gulf between Nouri and Moqtada al-Sadr. She may be the only one featured in a US outlet to note it. It's getting wider and more public. Al Rafidayn reports Moqtada al-Sadr's latest "Dear Moqtada" missives included a question from a follower about the Minister of Electricity Ra'ad Shalal al-Ani who resigned yesterday. Moqtada shares that he feels Ra'ad Shalal al-Ani got off easy and that a simple resignation is not enough for the level of betrayal. He goes on to suggest that there is "a network" of corruption within Nouri's Cabinet. Strong words for supposed allies.

Dar Addustour notes
that a 17-year-old male in Sulaimaniyah shot dead his 37-year-old father, his 35-year-old mother and his 11-year-old sister and that the man then turned himself in and states that he killed them because he could not afford to care for them on his government salary (he has a disabled brother as well as a wife and they were not killed).

We'll close with this from Nima Shirazi's "The Invisible Dead and "The Last Word": Lawrence O'Donnell 'Rewrites' the Occupation of Afghanistan" (World Can't Wait):

Notably, many news outlets such as ABC, NBC, CBS, and The Washington Post claimed the helicopter crash and its 30 American casualties marked the "deadliest day of the war", without adding the vital qualification, "for United States military personnel." Even the progressive website Truthout provided its daily email blast that day with the headline: "Deadliest Day in Decade-Long Afghanistan War: 31 Troops Killed in Shootdown."
The obvious implication of these reports was that on no single day since October 7, 2001, when the U.S.-led invasion and bombing campaign began, had as many people been killed in Afghanistan as on August 6, 2011.

Perhaps most brazen and sanctimonious regarding this claim was MSNBC's primetime anchor Lawrence O'Donnell. Introducing the "Rewrite" segment of his Monday August 8 broadcast of "The Last Word", O'Donnell looked directly into the camera and, in his measured and most heartfelt serious voice, told his viewers:

"This weekend saw the worst single loss of life in the ten years of the Afghan War."

He was lying. Unless, of course, like so many Americans, O'Donnell doesn't count Afghan civilians as human beings worthy of being allowed to stay alive. In fact, the invisibility of the native population of Afghanistan is so ubiquitous in the American media, O'Donnell and his writers probably didn't even think they needed to acknowledge civilian death tolls at the hands of foreign armies. As General Tommy Franks, who led the invasions of both Afghanistan and Iraq, told reporters at Bagram Air Base in March 2002 when asked about how many people the U.S. military has killed, "You know we don't do body counts."

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