Tuesday, October 11, 2011

'Withdrawal' -- Just another part of the stalemate

Al Mada calls it the largest US occupation since the Marshall Plan, the US State Dept's intent to send 16,000 employees into Iraq. Approximately 80% of these 16,000, the paper notes, are not State Dept workers but instead are contractors. It's noted that the prospects of graft and corruption are high due to the size of the mission (which will include training Iraqis). Al Sabaah notes that Jalal Talabani met with a number of editorial boards to discuss various issues including the decision to approve 5,000 US troops to stay in Iraq beyond 2011 (that's last week's decision). Meanwhile Al Sabaah reports that Nouri is publicly floating the idea of obtaining military equipment from France or Russia and Nouri notes that negotiations with the US are ongoing. Walter Pincus wonders "So what's the goal of our being in Iraq again?" (Washington Post):

It’s been more than eight years since Saddam was deposed, yet Iraq — and even Baghdad — remain a war zone for Americans. Along with those 5,000 private contractor guards needed on the ground, the State Department is now looking to hire a contractor to provide drones for aerial surveillance.
In addition, last Wednesday, the Swedish defense group Saab AB announced that it had received a $23.7 million order from State to buy its Giraffe multi-mission radar system and related services. Two units owned by the U.S. Army are now on loan to State to protect the U.S. Embassy and other buildings in Baghdad’s Green Zone. State had to buy its own drones now because the units take 15 months to build. Then it will return the others to the Army.
The embassy area is “the target of rocket and mortar attacks on an almost daily basis,” according to a State document justifying the purchase. The Giraffe system provides 360-degree coverage with a single unit, says the document, and the capability “to detect, sense and warn of prospective rocket, artillery and mortar attacks.” State even believes it needs protection against “ordnance launched against U.S. personnel via unmanned aerial vehicles, an identified high-risk potential for future attacks,” according to the document.

Sahfiq Qazzaz asks a similiar question, one that can be summed up as "What have the Kurds gotten out of this?" (Rudaw):

Amid all of this, the feeling of helplessness among American officials with regard to the situation in Iraq is coupled with their concerns about the dangerous conditions in a country that was expected to fare better.
A report by veteran politicians James Baker and Lee Hamilton in 2006 emphasized the need for a “strategic shift” in Iraq, asserting that Iraq can convince Kurds to lower the bar on their demands only through a strong centralized system, winning the public’s loyalty and establishing a united national identity.
To put it in another way, the report’s recommendations called for a government in Iraq that can save the country from falling off a cliff. This would have provided the opportunity or the Bush administration to have a speedier withdrawal less marked by defeat.
The events of the last few years showed that the report’s strategy was not realized. Eight years after the liberation of Iraq, Professor Michael Gunter says, “Most Shias and Sunnis try to restore the situation to the past… and there are some in the Kurdistan Region who believe it’s better for them to militarily confront Baghdad sooner rather than later lest in the future the balance of power would be less in Kurds’ favor.”

Dan Zak (Washington Post) reports
from Anbar Province and quotes the head of the Security and Defense Committee for the Province, Eifan al-Issawi, stating, "The Iraqi police and army forces are in dire need of aid from the U.S. [. . .] We need continuous support for our forces because al-Qaeda is not an easy enemy and should not be taken lightly."

In other news, Bushra Juhi (AP) reports on the increasingly bleak picture for Iraqi women as it becomes more and more evident that little will be done to restore their rights. (Prior to the Iraqi war, they had more rights than any women in the region. The US installed thugs who specialized in ignorance and thuggery and they repeatedly dismantled the rights of women.) Juhi notes that the World Health Organization estimates that one-fifth of Iraqi women have been abused.

We'll close with this from Chris Hedges' "Why the Elites Are in Trouble" (Information Clearing House):

Ketchup, a petite 22-year-old from Chicago with wavy red hair and glasses with bright red frames, arrived in Zuccotti Park in New York on Sept. 17. She had a tent, a rolling suitcase, 40 dollars’ worth of food, the graphic version of Howard Zinn’s “A People’s History of the United States” and a sleeping bag. She had no return ticket, no idea what she was undertaking, and no acquaintances among the stragglers who joined her that afternoon to begin the Wall Street occupation. She decided to go to New York after reading the Canadian magazine Adbusters, which called for the occupation, although she noted that when she got to the park Adbusters had no discernable presence.
The lords of finance in the looming towers surrounding the park, who toy with money and lives, who make the political class, the press and the judiciary jump at their demands, who destroy the ecosystem for profit and drain the U.S. Treasury to gamble and speculate, took little notice of Ketchup or any of the other scruffy activists on the street below them. The elites consider everyone outside their sphere marginal or invisible. And what significance could an artist who paid her bills by working as a waitress have for the powerful? What could she and the others in Zuccotti Park do to them? What threat can the weak pose to the strong? Those who worship money believe their buckets of cash, like the $4.6 million JPMorgan Chase gave a few days ago to the New York City Police Foundation, can buy them perpetual power and security. Masters all, kneeling before the idols of the marketplace, blinded by their self-importance, impervious to human suffering, bloated from unchecked greed and privilege, they were about to be taught a lesson in the folly of hubris.
Even now, three weeks later, elites, and their mouthpieces in the press, continue to puzzle over what people like Ketchup want. Where is the list of demands? Why don’t they present us with specific goals? Why can’t they articulate an agenda?
The goal to people like Ketchup is very, very clear. It can be articulated in one word—REBELLION. These protesters have not come to work within the system. They are not pleading with Congress for electoral reform. They know electoral politics is a farce and have found another way to be heard and exercise power. They have no faith, nor should they, in the political system or the two major political parties. They know the press will not amplify their voices, and so they created a press of their own. They know the economy serves the oligarchs, so they formed their own communal system. This movement is an effort to take our country back.

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