Sunday, October 16, 2011

And the war drags on . . .

Has the White House given up on keeping US troops in Iraq? I shared what I was told yesterday. AP is sticking with their story even though they are the only outlet reporting it (the Telegraph of London gives the impression they are adding to AP's work -- they aren't, they're just regurgitating it). I did speak with a friend who's working on the story for a daily paper and they are hearing the same thing I've been told. Maybe AP is right and everyone else is wrong? That could be and I certainly could be wrong and am wrong all the time. I'd love to be wrong on this. (And, as Jim notes, I took this off the table for a topic at Third. I'll go out on the limb but I don't want to drag Third out there with me.) Reuters offers an analysis of where things stand currently.

So what's going on? No one knows. If AP's report is correct -- or rather if AP's sources were correct -- the Iraq War may well be over. (Though already there are rumors of increasing the number of US soldiers under the State Dept's umbrella.) If AP's sources told the truth, then an announcement should be forthcoming from the White House.

If, on the other hand, this was -- as I was told -- a bluff and one started without fully informing everyone in the White House that should have been informed, this was probably a mistake. The power of no only works if you're honestly willing to walk away.

You can't bluff with the power of no.

You have to be willing to walk away from the table. You can't just threaten.

In the last three years, Tom Hayden and others have tried to villify the power of no and push it off on Republicans. Of course, his kind would. They're up on their hind legs around the dinner table begging for scraps. They'll take whatever they can get.

The power of no has been used successfully by many women in the entertainment industry. But we're willing to walk away. If you're not willing to, you can't use it. "No" has to mean "no." It can't mean "Okay, I'll cave." (And what so threatens Tom Hayden about the power of "no" may have to do with its sexual implications and the whole "No means no" subtext.)

It's not a bluff. You can't cave. You can't walk back in and say, "Oh, okay. Well, I know I told you that it was this way or nothing but it turns out it's not . . ."

If Democrats had the guts to use the power of no, the Iraq War wouldn't have happened. It's real power. And the only thing that makes me think the current administration might be able to pull off the power of no on this issue is that Samantha Power is a point person. I don't care for Power, but she's not usually one to blink.

Some of the usual sad sacks are rushing in to offer praise. (I see nothing to praise in any direction because I see nothing concrete.) They need a hero and they serve up Nouri al-Maliki as one. Demonstrating, yet again, how desperate they are for heroes and how little they pay attention to events in Iraq. It's pretty much an accepted wisdom in Iraq currently that Nouri did order the journalist murdered last month. It's also a known that he's tortured and run secret prisons. All the things that were supposed to be outrageous about Saddam Hussein are exhibited by Little Nouri. And yet some rush forward to praise him.

In the foreign press, many try to make sense of what's going on. Focusing on the immunity issue, Musa Keilani (Al Arabiya) comments on the negotiations:

Baghdad says that the issue is outside the purview of the status of forces agreement with the U.S., which governs the presence of more than 46,000 American soldiers currently in Iraq, and therefore, the terms of reference, as contained in the status of forces agreement that expires on December 31, 2011, will not apply to the trainers.
Senior U.S. military commanders say they are still studying the issue and that negotiations with Baghdad are continuing.
At issue here is the U.S. insistence that the American trainers in Iraq have the same immunity from prosecution for crimes committed outside the training bases their colleagues had before withdrawal. U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta insists on blanket immunity for all U.S. soldiers as combatants or trainers.
Iraq says that there is no need for such immunity since the trainers would be operating only within the bases.

Nizar Latif (The National Newspaper) reports on reaction to the AP story in Iraq:

Publicly at least, Iraq's politicians have been sanguine about the prospect of few active-duty US soldiers remaining in the country.
"If the Americans have decided to leave by the end of the year, then we welcome that," said Mohammad Al Seyhood, an MP with the ruling National Alliance bloc.
Privately, however, a significant number of politicians and ordinary Iraqis seem alarmed that such a comprehensive withdrawal will leave behind national security forces unprepared for the enormous task of safeguarding their country.

Again, at this point, no one knows what's happening. The AP may have landed the biggest scoop of the Iraq War or they may have been tricked. For this week, the Iraq War continues.

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, the number of US military people killed in the Iraq War since the start of the illegal war was 4481. Tonight? PDF format warning, DoD lists the the number of Americans killed serving in Iraq at 4481.


Aswat al-Iraq reports, "Thousands of demonstrators paraded Khanaqin city protesting dismounting the Kurdish flag from Iraqi governmental institutions. Member of the Provincial Council, Dilair Hassan, a leading member in the Kurdistan bloc, told Aswat al-Iraq that "about 20,000 persons, from different parts of Iraq, participated to denounce Baghdad government decision to dismount the Kurdish flag." AP offers, "The right to fly the Kurdish flag is a deeply emotional issue for many who see it as a sign of independence against both the deposed Saddam Hussein regime and the current Arab-dominated government in Baghdad. In contrast, many Arabs see such attempts to fly the Kurdish flag in Khanaqin and other places as creeping expansion of Kurdish power and influence." AFP covers the protest here. DPA estimates 20,000 took to the streets in protest and notes that "sources" say 1 protester "was hospitalized with severe burns after setting himself on fire."

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