Monday, September 19, 2011. Chaos and violence continue, a US soldier dies over the weekend, Jalal Talabani comes to the US, the 8 arrested last week in the investigation of killing 22 Shia pilgrims are released, the governmental gridlock continues in Iraq, Matthew Rotshcild's latest guest is a doozy, and more.
As noted Thursday, with no release of death announcements by DoD, the Pentagon's official death count of US military personnel in the Iraq War rose by 2 this month (before Sunday's death). The Pentagon has not corrected their numbers. I asked a friend at DoD about it on Friday. The official message back today is, "The numbers are the numbers." Are they correct? "We have issued no correction." Which would mean adding one to the count, the number of US military personnel who have died in the Iraq War thus far stands at 4480. (Add 4,421 from "Operation Iraqi Freedom" to 58 from "Operation New Dawn" -- new name for the Iraq War and then add 1 for Sunday's death.)
Is Tom Hadyen drunk or crazy? "You're going to laugh so hard," swore a friend (one of many women the married Tom came onto the 80s who was shot down -- as a general rule, those of us with money rejected Tom while women who thought he might be a stepping stone hopped in bed). I didn't laugh. I can't take the sounds of spit washing around in a mouth repeatedly combined with lip smacking. I'm glad Matthew Rothschild conducted the interview (for Progressive Radio) by phone because I'm sure he'd have been covered with spit otherwise. Tom goes to a subject that we are not touching here but doesn't it seem like he went there to try to ensure Barack gets re-elected? Yeah, it did. He has no shame. He will play with anything, toy with any topic, no matter how violent and what might result to get his way. It's disgusting. Barack supporters would do well to keep their distance from Tom Hayden. When not raising that, he lied and distorted -- and Matthew let him -- about the man who shot US House Rep Gabrielle Giffords. Mainly he paraded his own vanity. No one's ever been obssed with Tom (nor ever more interested in Tom than Tom himself is interested in Tom). But the moment that was saddest (I wish I could have laughed as many women did listening to the ass speak) was when he declared, "I've spent the last two years, I'm sure the White House doesn't like it, just hammering on Afghanistan, Iraq, the . . . [long list of issues] and the only thing I can see is my persistent pressure gradually turning him around." Yes, Tom, it was your persistent pressure, it was all you. (He struggles with words throughout and Matthew has to correct his terms elsewhere in the interview. Again, was he drunk?)
That would have been it on Iraq, that aside. The interview had gone on for over 24 minutes and despite Tom's claims of his persistent pressure and despite his idiotic Ending the
War in Iraq book in 2007 (pillars? I think Tom's got a penis fascination), he ran away from the Iraq War long, long ago. More frightening is that he ran away from reality as well. What planet does Tom now live on?
Tom Hayden: If he -- if he just took the 47,000 troops out of Iraq, which we're waiting on pins and needles what is he going to do? That would mean 50 billion dollars that could go straight to job creation in the US.
Matthew Rothschild: I'm willing to bet you he leaves most of those there --
Tom Hayden: No! He won't!
Matthew Rothschild: -- if he can get the Iraqi government to agree.
Tom Hayden: He won't. It'll be between 47,000 and zero. But it's an insane policy and he knows it. He -- he's not in control of the whole situation. I mean, the insanity is Bush and the American government installed a pro-Shia, a pro-Iran regime with torture chambers in Baghdad and now is being asked by Saudi Arabia to leave some troops behind, uh, to counter-balance Iran in the conflict between -- the regional conflict between Saudis -- Saudis and Sunnis. If I was a soldier, and I have a close friend who is in Iraq fighting, uh, uhm, I-I would not want to be pinned down in the crossfire between sectarian uh forces with 10,000 or 13,000 of my buddies. So that's the argument against. Save money, get the troops out, and, you know, don't go to bat for Saudi Arabia in exchange for oil, fighting against a regime that the United States installed so the-the-the issue in Iraq isn't over. The argument remains. We shall know in a month!
Oh my heavens. How he slurred his words. If he wasn't drunk, he needs to get to a doctor to check and see if he's had a slight stroke.
Tom -- whom Barack derided on the campaign trail last go round "Tom Hayden Democrats," remember? -- just knows what's in Barack's heart: "But it's an insane policy and he knows it." He then insists, "He -- he's not in control of the whole situation." Oh my goodness, the conspiracy theories never cease from this nutcase.
He is the president of the United States. Everything he's done, he's meant to do. He may not have anticipated this or that response, but he decided his own actions. I am so sick of the groupies who can't grow the hell up after all this time.
I believe when Tom was slurring "Saudis and Sunnis" what he actually meant was "Shi'ites and Sunnis." He's always been obsessed with Saudi Arabia. Not over human rights issues but over his paranoia of Arabs. (I've written before of that as has Elaine.)
But let's move to this stupidity: "I mean, the insanity is Bush and the American government installed a pro-Shia, a pro-Iran regime with torture chambers in Baghdad and now is being asked [. . .]" Tom Hayden, how drunk were you?
The Bush adminstraion installed a pro-Iranian regime, yes. They refused the choice of Iraq for prime minister and insisted upon Nouri al-Malik in April of 2006. Yes. But, Tom, what happened in 2010?
The lesson of the 2009 elections (provincial elections and I'm speaking of the ones at the start of the year so that excludes the KRG which held their provincial elections months later) was that the Iraqi people were rejecting sectarianism and embracing a national identity. Not that surprising, the sectarian divide was largely encouraged by the US -- Laura Flanders documented this repeatedly in 2004, 20005 and 2006 on her Air America Radio programs The Laura Flanders Show and Radio Nation with Laura Flanders. Many Iraqis would explain that the first thing Americans would ask them was if they were Sunni or Shia and that really wasn't their first thought. The theme of the 2009 elections was repeated when Iraqis voted in March 2010. Even after Nouri stamped his feet and got votes tossed out, even after he whined and threw a tantrum and was given votes he didn't earn to shut him up, Iraqiya still came in first. Iraqiya was the non-sectarian slate. You could be Sunni or Shi'ite or anything and be a part of Iraqiya. Well, you couldn't be Sunni in many cases and run for office. If you did, Nouri had you disqualified by insisting you were a Ba'ahtists. But Iraqiya was about a national Iraq identity. And this is what Iraqis voted for.
After the numbers were juggled for Nouri (who'd already abused his position to try to influence the outcome prior to the elections -- including kicking out popular Iraqiya candidates), the US government had a choice: They could back the Iraqi people or they could go against them.
The Iraqi people, you know, the group Tom Hayden forgot in all of his remarks about Iraq?
The US government wasn't concerned with the Iraqi people either. You had an element within the CIA -- which Leon Panetta ignored and did not advocate for -- who wanted Ayad Allawi. (Not a big surprise, Allawi was a CIA asset for many years.) You had an element of Big Oil and business that wanted Adel Abdul-Mahdi (until he resigned recently, he was Iraq's Shi'ite Vice President). A group of what we'll call 'East Coast intellectuals' who had some sway over the White House argued for Ammar al-Hakim and used as one of their talking points that his youth (he's 40-years-old) would be a plus and signifiy a fresh start in Iraq and "a new Iraq" (that's a direct quote from their talking points). (Ammar al-Hakim heads the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq.) No one argued for a Kurdish prime minister. Possibly due to the fact that Jalal Talabani had already made clear he wanted to remain president of Iraq. (Talabani is a Kurd.) There were various factions within the administration.
Samantha Power in her role of foreign policy guru for Barack (she's been that since he was in the Senate) and as National Security Advisor insisted upon Nouri al-Maliki. Nouri, she pointed out, was already agreeable to extending the US military presence beyond 2011. If they brought in someone new, he might promise that he'd extend it but would he? They knew Nouri would because he had so many times before and he'd already agreed on the oil law (see theft of Iraqi oil). (I'm presenting her argument, I am not agreeing with it. I think Nouri's the king of the double cross.) Due to her position of primacy on foreign policy with Barack for so many years, she was able to overide everyone -- including Cabinet heads and Joe Biden.
It would be easy to say that the White House based their decision on self-interest. But the truth is it wasn't just Samantha Power's option that was about self-interest. All of the options were about self-interest. No one ever spoke of a strong Iraq, no one ever spoke of the Iraqi people.
The 2010 elections were fraught with danger. Candidates Nouri didn't like were targeted and kicked out of the process. Some candidates were targeted and wounded, some were killed. There were threats of violence and there was violence the day of the elections. But Iraqis turned out to vote. Despite fears, despite violence, they showed up at the polls. Yet for all of the grand talk from US officials about "democracy" in Iraq, no one in the current administration gave a damn about "democracy" or the voice of the Iraqi people when it came to who to pick for prime minister.
The US shot down suggestions that a caretaker government should be put in place while elections issues were resolved. Had that been done, Nouri would have lost a lot of power and the Constitution might have been followed. Per the Constitution, Ayad Allawi, leader of Iraqiya, should have had first crack at putting together a Cabinet, he should have been named prime minister-designate and given the 30 days to put together a Cabinet. But that didn't happen. The Iraqi people and the Iraqi Constitution were disrespected and the US ended up backing Nouri. (Samantha Power made cracks about Allawi being Al Gore. When she made those cracks, she may not yet realize it, she made enemies within the administration who leak on her to the press to this day. Democrats, Samantha, did not find your cracks about Gore and the stolen 2000 election funny.)
The Bush administration may have installed Nouri the first time but, in 2010, there was an opportunity for change. The Barack Obama administration decided to keep things just as they were.
Last week, Nouri was publicly attacking his political rival Ayad Allawi whose Iraqiya bested Nouri's State of Law in the March 7, 2010 elections. Nouri's insisted that Allawi has no place in the government.
Other participants in the government begged to differ before Nouri made those remarks and since then it does not appear Nouri's incendiary speech has scared anyone away from Allawi. Hossam Acommok (Al Mada) reports that Allawi and Iraqi President Jalal Talabani have agreed that the country needs a national partnership and to move away from one monopoly of power. The two met and discussed various issues including the refusal by Nouri al-Maliki to implement the Erbil Agreement agreed to last November (and the partnership agreement signed off on by all political blocs to end Political Stalemate I). Acommok reports on the rumors that the Kurds will push for a no-confidence vote in Parliament -- rumors which result in warnings from State of Law. What happens next is said to wait until Talabani returns from the US. Aswat al-Iraq reports, "Iraq's President Jalal Talabani flew to New York on Monday to attend the meetings of the UN General Assembly in its 66th session, a Presidency statement reported."
Before he departed for the US, Al Sabaah notes, Talabani also met with Nouri al-Maliki and the discussions included the Kurds demands (Talabani is a Kurd) which include a return to the Erbil Agreement and opposition to Nouri's gas and oil bill. It's noted that when Kurdish representatives meet Nouri in the near future, they will be bringing along copies of the Erbil Agreement as a reminder of what was agreed to by all parties. (The Kurds have also threatened to make this document public.) In yet another blow to Nouri, Ehsan al-Awadi, an MP with the National Alliance, has declared that they support the Erbil Agreement and call for it to be implemented as soon as possible. (However, 'new agreements' appears to be about the oil & gas bill and, if so, that means the National Alliance is not joining with the Kurds in decrying that proposal.)
The Iraqi Bar Association began in 1933 and has become the country's largest organization for attorneys. Baghdad is the location of its central headquarters. Al Saabah notes Nouri gave a speech to organization on Saturday (its their 78th anniversary) and that he spoke of the need for the Constitution to recognize the role of the courts. If that puzzles you, it's because US media ignored what that's in reference to. They haven't even reported on Allawi and Nouri's feud. From Tuesday's snapshot:
Asharq al-Awsat interviews Ayad Allawi (Iraiqya leader who's been meeting with the Kurdish leaders -- Iraqiya won the March 7, 2010 elections) and their first question for him is about his recent comments that there was a need for early elections and a need for a vote of no confidence on Nouri al-Maliki, has his opinion changed? He replies that nothing has changed and unless the Erbil Agreement is followed, as KRG President Barzani is insisting, then early elections need to be held. He states that they should be transparent and follow the election laws. (They put it is either/or. Allawi rejects that in his first answer and again near the end of the interview when he explains that first you do the vote of no-confidence in the current government and then you move to early elections.) Asked if he doesn't find it strange that 8 years after the end of Saddam Hussein's regime, Iraqi decisions are still spoken of in light of what the US wants or what Iran wants, Allawi replies that it is clear the government (Nouri) was negotiating with Iran on how to form a government -- down to the smallest details. He states that when he met with Bashar al-Assad, president of Syria [presumably in 2010], al-Assad stated he would be speaking with Iranian officials and what was the response to Adel Abdul al-Mahdi being prime minister. The point is to indicate that Iran was being catered to. (I'm sure the US was as well, however, Allawi focuses on Iran.) Adel Abdul al-Mahdi was, until recently, one of Iraq's two vice presidents. He's a member of the Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council. Big Oil supported him in 2006 for prime minister and they also wanted him in 2010. His announcement that he was resigning as vice president earlier this year may have been setting up another run for prime minister.
Allawi states that the Erbil Agreement needs to be implemented, that the meet-up in Erbil and the agreement itself took place in a spirit to work together for Iraq and build something sincere but now "the other party" [the unnamed is Nouri] repeatedly finds excuses not to implement. Asked if the problem is the agreement, Allawi clearly states that the problem is "the other party" and that the agreement is clear. He rejects the notion of one-party rule and specifically names Nouri when rejecting it, stating that this is a private scheme of "Maliki" and not something with wide support even within Dawa (Dawa is Nouri's political party, State of Law is the slate Nouri ran with).
It's that interview that enrages Nouri and leads him to declare that Allawi has no place in the Iraqi government. And it's in that interview that Allawi offers the legal opinion that Nouri's use of the courts to advance his agenda is problematic due to the fact that Constitutional issues cannot be changed by the courts because, according to Allawi, the Constitution came before the Courts. Nouri controls the country's Supreme Court and has repeatedly used it to reinterpret the Constitution in his favor especially as he battled to remain the prime minister. Allawi argues that this is illegal and unconstitutional because the Constitution is the basis for all so, therefore, the Courts can't alter the Constitution. (If you carry this legal argument out, only Parliament could alter the Constitution as represenatives of the people and any alteration, like any law, would require the presidency council -- Iraq's president and vice presidents -- to agree to the change.)
That was probably the main thing that ticked Nouri off about the article. Sunday, Dar Addustour reported the Kurds echoing the point about the Constitution being supreme. They have to support that position because if it's not supreme than an act by the Nouri-controlled courts could render Article 140 (which promises how the issue of disputed Kirkuk will be resolved) obsolete. The article also notes that the political situation is seen as "a crisis" (where are the US reports on this, it has been building all week) and notes the Speaker of Parliament Osama al-Nujaifi is traveling to the KRG tomorrow to talk with leaders there about the Erbil Agreement and other issues.
Aswat al-Iraq reports al-Nujaifi was to meet with Barham Saleh, KRG Premier, to discuss the ongoing governmental issues -- the failure to implement the Erbil Agreement, the oil and gas bill proposed by Nouri al-Maliki. Al Mada notes that the Kurds are "fed up" with Nouri's style of governing and with being marginalized while their demands are ignored. Some do believe that it would be difficult to replace Nouri currently (a no-confidence vote in Parliament) but as this situation continues to build, who knows? Dar Addustour notes some Kurdish insiders see Nouri's window of time closing and that current demands are the last chance. But Aswat al-Iraq reports rumors that al-Nujaifi would be proposing a new agreement. Al Mada notes Nouri's specific failure to proceed on the section of the Erbil Agreement revolving around the national council (security committee that was to be headed by Ayad Allawi) is also harming his standing. And they note that Sadrists are bothered by State of Law's militia Knights of Law. (State of Law is Nouri's political slate.)
Over the weekend, Al Rafidayn covered what may be read as a step back by Nouri (I don't think it is), his agreeing with al-Nujaifi that his oil & gas bill is only a draft and that Parliament can change it. He uses the term "amend." That's why I don't see it as a step back. Nouri has insisted that Parliament does not have the power to right laws, that it can only accept proposals from Nouri's Cabinet and vote up or down on them. This move strikes me as more of Nouri backing up his belief that laws cannot originate within the Parliament and I base that call on the language Nouri uses.
While the governmental crisis continues, Fadhel al-Badrani (Reuters) reported Saturday on the brewing sectarian crisis. 22 Shi'ites were killed his week, pilgrims taken off a bus. al-Badrani misses what created the original tension or resentment following the killings. As we've noted Arab social media was inflamed over the response of a huge sum of money offered to find the killers (offered by Sunni Sawha leaders -- that didn't change the anger or resenment in Arab social media -- possibly because Sawha were already seen as turncoats) and Nouri sent in the military to investigate. It was repeatedly pointed out that the killing of Iraqi Christians and other minorities didn't result in that and, after that point had been made repeatedly, the next point emerging (primary point) was that no one could recall that sort of effort being made when Sunnis in Iraq were killed.
8 Sunnis were quickly arrested, al-Badrani notes, and public outcry forced Nouri to release four of them. (Click here for Al Rafidayn's report on the decision to release four.) Without that missing step, the one documenting the reaction to the reactions to the killings, you really can't grasp why resentments built. Al Rafidayn is currently reporting that four more -- which would be all eight -- are being released because there is no evidence against any of the eight. Reuters reports that Iraqi officials announced Sunday that last Monday's attack on a bus of Shi'ite pilgrims, 22 of which were killed, was carried out by "Arab foreigners." Reuters is apparently too kind or shy to point out that last week saw the arrests of eight Iraqis in Anbar Province for the killings, four of which were quickly released with reports on Saturday stating the other four would be released as well. Alsumaria TV notes, "Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri Al Maliki ordered the release of all the detainees from Al Ratba District on account of Al Nukhaib incident, Anbar Province said."
If you're not familiar with Iraqi 'justice,' the release of those arrested doesn't just happen and never that quickly. If you're arrested, you disappear into a hole and maybe a year or so later you are able to climb out or maybe you stay disappeared. Nouri's hand was forced and it was forced because this quickly became a major incident. Al Mada notes the release of the eight arrested resulted not from "legal procedures" but a political deal.
CALENDAR SPANNING OVER 5 DECADES OF PEACEMAKING & ART ANNOUNCES ITS FINAL EDITION
War Resisters League (WRL), a 98-year-old secular pacifist organization in the United States, announced today that their 2012 Peace Calendar, Organize This! A 1955-2011 Retrospective (ISBN: 0-940862-24-7), will be the final volume in a 57-year calendar series. For the first decade of its existence, the WRL peace calendar was the only progressive political calendar available.
This last edition is full-color with a foreword by Noam Chomsky. The pages of Organize This! include the covers of the 56 previous peace calendars which featured the writing and images of a wide range of renowned peacemakers and artists such as Pete Seeger, Dr. Benjamin Spock, Adolfo Pérez Esquivel, John Sayles, A. Philip Randolph, Ben Shahn, Ed Asner, Ruby Dee, Mary Frank, Dick Gregory, Grace Paley, Vera B. Williams, Ivan Chermayeff, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Coretta Scott King, and Howard Zinn.
"WRL builds awareness of, and organizes against, every facet of militarism, working with civilians, GI resisters, and veterans' groups throughout the United States," Chomsky writes in his foreword. "For the last 57 years, the WRL Peace Calendar has been a vital part of this consciousness-raising and activism."
Liz Roberts, Organize This! editor and WRL Membership and Development Coordinator, said, "The 2012 peace calendar is not just a retrospective of previous WRL calendars. It's a keepsake of a long-running publication focused on anti-militarist organizing and peacemaking efforts for nearly 60 years. WRL's Peace Calendars recorded the times in prose, poetry, lyrics, recipes and art."
"Having begun work on peace calendars 40 years ago, I must say the final volume truly represents what WRL strives to achieve: the removal of all causes of war. The 2012 calendar unites WRL's anti-war message with its long tradition of partnering with social justice movements" said former staff member Wendy Schwartz, who wrote the calendar's afterword.
WRL ends this long tradition with a retrospective that shows the breadth of themes and vibrant artwork of every previous volume. In addition to the 56 pages of color artwork, the calendar's date pages note events vital to the history of the movement for peace and social justice. There is also a directory of peace and justice organizations and publications in the United States, and a list of international contacts. Spiral bound, 144 pages, 5.5 x 8.5, Organize This! A 1955-2011 Retrospective retails for $14.95. It is available directly from the War Resisters League (www.warresisters.org/store) and at better bookstores everywhere.
Declining sales have made the calendar increasingly less effective as a fundraiser, and the digital age has made the paper datebook obsolete for many. Still, ending WRL's long tradition of producing the peace calendar was not an easy decision, in part because of the calendar's popularity as a holiday gift. Thus the organization has pledged to begin offering different items suitable for gift giving in the coming years.
War Resisters League, headquartered in New York City, is affiliated with War Resisters' International, which is based in London. WRL believes war to be a crime against humanity, and advocates Gandhian nonviolence as the method for creating a democratic society free of war, racism, sexism, and human exploitation.
-- Liz Roberts Development& Membership Coordinator
War Resisters League 339 Lafayette St. New York, NY 10012
We started with Tom Hayden, now we move to Danny Schechter, yes, all the crazies are out. Know how to jump start Danny's heart? Trash the government of Israel. If you can do that, he loves you big smoochies. It doesn't matter what else you do. You can be a tyrant and he'll support you. Which explains his ZNet valentine to Turkey and its prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogen. His stupidity explains the column's 'facts.' Recep Tayyip Erdogen is prime minister -- a post elected by the Turkish Parliament. Erdogen is not elected by the people and therefore -- pay attention, Danny -- he never "won an amazing 50% of the votes in a recent election." Click here for BBC's sketch of Erdogen which includes his 1998 conviction for inciting religious hatred (he was released early -- apparently for good behavior). Click here to watch him in 2010 insisting, on CNN, that there was no Armenian Genocide ("not at all"). Click here for more on the Armenian Genocide, also known as the Armenian Holocaust. As CNN notes, "Historians have extensively documented the Ottoman military's forced death-march of hundreds of thousands of ethnic Armenians into the Syrian desert in 1915. Every April 24, Armenians worldwide observe a rememberance day for those killed. The deaths decimated the Armenian population in what is now eastern Turkey." Click here for a critique of Erdogen creating a police state made by political rival and former judge Emine Ulker Tarhan. Click here for Amnesty International on Turkey. I've been to Turkey, I like the country, I like the people. My point in noting the above is pointing out that Danny's fallen in love with not with Turkey or the people of Turkey but with the government of Turkey because he and they share a common enemy. Erdogen is not Ghandia and Turkey is not paradise. Probably a good idea not to fall in love with a politician. And we never look sillier on the left than when we fall in love with any foreign government. We really should refrain from repeatedly making that mistake. I also wonder how his valentine to the Turkish government plays to Amernian readers? Or is he attempting to run them off as well?
Danny gushes about Turkey today and ignores it's assaults on northern Iraq. Somehow Danny missed that as well. Is he aware his hero asked the US government for predator drones? Is he aware innocent farmers and shepherds have had to flee their homes due to the nonstop bombing of northern Iraq by Turkish war planes? Is he aware that along with wounding innocent Iraqis, the bombings have also killed them? Is he aware that northern Iraq is being physically destroyed with these bombings? Or that this might be the intention of the Turkish government in bombing northern Iraq to begin with?
(Like Tom, Danny tried to make money off of the war. He did a documentary film on it and then turned that into a book with transcript of the screenplay. You'd think people who tried to make a buck off the war would at least try to remember it but you'd be wrong.)