Saturday, October 08, 2011

The pretense of withdrawal

Chelsea J. Carter (CNN) reports US Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta was speaking to US sailors in Naples yesterday and was asked about the issue of whether or not US troops would stay in Iraq (as US troops under the US Defense Dept -- as opposed to under the State Dept umbrella or NATO) stating that they would not stay without a guarantee of immunity. He is quoted as responding, "If they want the benefits of what we can provide, if they want the assistance, if they want the training, if they want the operational skills that we can provide, then I think they have to understand that they've got to give us some protections in that process. [. . .] If you're going to play a large role in dealing with another country where it requires, as I said, a large group of troops to be on the ground and to be dealing with that country, I want to make damn sure that you're protected."

Immunity will have to be addressed or US troops won't be able to stay. It can be addressed via a memo of understanding between the White House and the prime minister of Iraq, it can be addressed via immunity being passed by the Parliament, it can be addressed by twisting the interpretations of several existing documents, it can be addressed by shoving all the US troops under the State Dept banner (if you've forgotten, the US State Dept will be handling 'training' as well), it can be addressed with a new agreement, it can be addressed by using NATO. And those are just some of the notions the White House is tossing around.

NATO, as noted in yesterday's snapshot, is one of many possibilities for keeping US troops in Iraq if (note the "if") Iraq can't provide immunity. Dan Zak (Washington Post) reports tonight, " A State Department official said Saturday that while Iraq is not likely to budge on its resistance to military immunity, there are other paths to continuing the U.S. training mission in the country." Iraqi MP Mahmoud Othman is quoted stating, "Americans misuse immunity. They've had it for eight years. They made a lot of violations . . . Sometimes they killed people, attacked people, captured people, and no one could tell them anything. Iraq doesn't want a repeat of that."

And while negotiations continue and other options are pursued, what else is going on?

Mary Beth Sheridan and Dan Zak (Washington Post) report, "The State Department is racing against an end-of-year deadline to take over Iraq operations from the U.S. military, throwing together buildings and marshaling contractors in its biggest overseas operation since the effort to rebuild Europe after World War II." As Jason Ditz ( observes, "Though much of the narrative of the past several months has been about the US military not leaving Iraq after December, the US State Department is still operating under the assumption that they are, and as such are throwing together an operation they say will be the largest since the Marshall Plan to rebuild Europe after World War II."

Marissa Gallo (Baltimore Sun) reports, "Families and friends of Maryland Army National Guard soldiers gathered Saturday morning at the Edgewood Area of Aberdeen Proving Ground to honor and say goodbye to their husbands, wives, brothers, sisters and all of the important people in their lives before they are deployed to Iraq Sunday." And be sure and read further into the article or you might miss this, "When the troops return in a year or so, Adkins says the MNG will do its best to find jobs for the soldiers and help them readjust to the 'real world'." When the troops return in a year . . .

In today's violence, Reuters notes a Mosul bombing injured six people, a Mosol home invasion resulted in the death of 1 woman and a second Mosul home invasion resulted in an ex-police officer being injured.

Two peace makers spoke this week: Cindy Sheehan and Cynthia McKinney. Click here to listen to the dialogue from Cindy Sheehan's Soapbox program and click here to read the transcript:

CM: Not in a bad way, that’s right. But now and I have honestly I have believed in the United Nations but not any more.

CS: Right.

CM: Not any more. I saw what the United Nations was supposed to do. Actually my first involvement with what the UN was supposed to do was Rwanda. But prior to Rwanda there was East Timor. So I have seen the failings of the United Nations of course now we can list amongst the failings, we can list Haiti as an abject failure and it was the UN that brought in the cholera and no reparations have ever been paid Haitian people for that. The United Nations peacekeepers go around the world and with them go all the vices known to human kind. So not anymore, not anymore. The United Nations has become a tool from the aspect of justice. So apparently as I have traveled I’ve noticed there is a kind of apartheid around the world. Now that apartheid even extends into the global economy, administration of justice, culture such that there was a time that the United Nations I really believed that the United Nations was there to protect people, protect cultures, to protect. But not anymore I don’t believe it. So I think that as we look for new structures to promote peace, to promote our values the United Nations is one of those structures whose time has come and gone.

CS: You know Cynthia when the UN first passed the resolution of the no fly zone in Libya I sent out an e-mail to my supporters and I said, "you all know that a no fly zone is just code for we are going to begin bombing soon." And it was just a few days. As a matter of fact it was the anniversary of the initial invasion of Iraq in 2003 that the Obama administration starting bombing Libya and of course there was no congressional approval of that.

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