Monday, March 19, 2012. Chaos and violence continue, Barack tries to squeeze a cheap campaign buck out of the blood and bones of the dead, the Abu Ghraib torture queen weighs in with her thoughts, and more on this 9th anniversary of the start of the Iraq War.
AFP's Prashant Rao Tweets on this evening's violence:
prashantrao#Iraq violence: a half-dozen bombings in Baquba, Diyala province, have killed two people and wounded 25 today, according to officials. @AFP
I'm confused by Peter Juul's post at Think Progress. Is he reporting? Is he offering his opinion? What the hell is that last pargraph? If it's a summary of what Antony Blinken (National Security Advisor to Vice President Joe Biden) said? If so, it should state that. If it's a quote from Blinken, it should be in quotations. It reads like it was a paragraph that kept getting moved down as the piece was written until finally it was forgotten and left in while posting by mistake. (And if that's what it is, I've done that dozens of times myself.) But why would you run Blinken's nonsense unchecked?
First off, just because you're nothing but a partisan, don't push it off on other people. There are many people who care about Iraq in the US and will tell you how Barack Obama screwed it up that do not and did not want more troops on the ground in Iraq. Stop lying. Stop whoring.
Second, why quote Blinken on violence being down if you use the sectarian fighting/ethnic cleansing as your base? First off the dates are wrong. It's 2006 to 2007 and I'm surprised to have to point that out to Peter Juul because, back in December, writing with Matthew Duss, he had the dates correct. Of course, in that article, instead of quoting an idiotic Blinken's nonsense about violence, Juul and Duss noted, "Iraq still endures a level of violence that in any other country would be considered a crisis." What happened? How did that not get tossed in when 'reporting' on what Blinken said?
Third, what does Barack have to do with 2006 - 2007 levels of violence? He's not president then. He's not president when Bully Boy Bush implements the "surge" and the violence goes down (mainly because the ethnic cleansing has taken place with thousands and thousands dead and 4.1 million refugee crisis). Why would you use that as a baseline to judge Barack?
Fourth, if you're going to use that as a baseline, try remembering Barack opposed the surge. If I thought there was honest bone in Barack's body, I'd go into his summer 2008 interview that, if he had enemies at Saturday Night Live, could have been the 'hoot' Sarah Palin's was. He came off very uninformed and very testy. But everyone looked the other way.
Blinken lied. Does it even qualifies as news at this late date? The government lies and whores over and over. And so much of the press goes along with it.
Iraq is a failure. And it's worth noting Blinken said it wasn't only because reality loves to slap these liars in the face.
He insists that the current political crisis is like the one in 2007, "In the end, the main difference between the two episodes [2007 and today] was that in 2007/2008, the boycott lasted eight months -- at a time when the United States had more than 150,000 troops on the ground. In 2012, we had no troops on the ground, and the boycott ended after less than two months."
When you lie like that, you really should be fired. There's no excuse for that kind of lying. The 2007 issue wasn't a crisis and it was various members boycotting the Cabinet. They didn't leave the Parliament. Right now, it's a crisis and the boycott of Parliament and the Cabinet (both) really wasn't the issue. To lie like Antony Blinken's doing should really get you fired. There's no excuse for it. The political crisis has been going on for some time. The briefest explanation goes like this.
1) March 2010 elections are held. Nouri's State of Law comes in second to Ayad Allawi's Iraqiay. Per the Constitution, Iraqiya should have first dibs on forming a coalition.
2) Nouri bitches, whines and moans and has the US backing him so he's able to be a big baby for eight long months as Iraq cannot move forward, cannot do a thing. This is Political Stalemate I and this is where Barack Obama made the mistake and owns the tragedy that is Iraq.
3) Ayad Allawi may be a monster, may be Ned Flanders from The Simpsons, I don't know and I don't care. I do care that we have free and fair elections. I do care that when we tell Iraqis that they can solve their problems at the ballot box, we listen to what their votes say. Nouri's second place showing wasn't a surprise. Iraqis were moving towards a national identity and that was reflected in the 2009 provincial elections. The 2010 elections merely confirmed the trend.
4) A national identity would go a long way towards healing the rifst and allowing the country to come together. Instead of encouraging that, instead of respecting the votes of the Iraqi people, the White House backed Nouri al-Maliki -- already known for running secret prisons as documented time and again by the outstanding reporting of Ned Parker for the Los Angeles Times. They could have backed the Iraqi people. Without the US support, Nouri wouldn't have been able to dig his heels in for 8 months.
5) Backing Nouri included telling Iraqiya and the Kurds and others that it really was best for Nouri to stay on as prime minister and, if you'll agree to that, you'll get this. "This" was outlined in the US-brokered Erbil Agreement that the political blocs signed off on in November 2010. This ended Political Stalemate I. Parliament finally had a real session. Jalal Talabani was named President, Tareq al-Hashemi and Adil Abdul-Mahdi were named Vice Presidents. (All three held those positions before the 2010 election.) Nouri was named prime minister-designate. This is why Iraqis, in the immediate press that followed, began asking (and would continue for months after to ask), "Why did we even bother to vote? Nothing changed." Was to piss on the promise democracy, Barack Obama. Way to instill a belief in the power of the vote.
7) Nouri does what he always does, stalls. And after a month, he's wrongly moved from prime minister-designate to prime minister (he did not name a full Cabinet, the Constitution says you name a Cabinet, not part of one, not half of one, a Cabinet) or someone else is immediately named prime minister-designate. At this point, Political Stalemate II has started. Nouri is not holding the Kirkuk census and referendum as promised to the Kurds to get them on board with the Erbil Agreement, Nouri is not naming Allawi to an independent security committee as promised to get Iraqiya on board with the Erbil Agreement.
8) He stalls and he stalls. And has no intention of living up to the Erbil Agreement. If you want to talk about violence -- three ministries are security ministries: Interior, Defense and National Security. Nouri makes himself the head of all three by refusing to nominate people for the three posts. That's 13 months -- during which violence has increased -- that Iraq's three security posts have been empty.
9) Over the summer, the Kurds get tired of Nouri's excuses and call for him to return to the Erbil Agreement. Iraqiya joins the call. Other elements including Moqtada al-Sadr join the call.
10) With Nouri ignoring that call, Iraqiya announces their boycott, he calls for Deputy Prime Minister Saleh al-Mutlaq (Sunni and a member of Iraqiya) to be stripped of his office, Vice President al-Hashemi goes to the KRG on business, Nouri insists that al-Hashemi is a terrorist and swears out an arrest warrant. (Adil Abdul-Mahdi bailed on the nonsense over the summer noting the corruption in Nouri's government after Nouri asked for 100 days to address the corruption -- another stall tactic from Nouri -- and then 100 days later attempted to pretend like something would be done. Abdul-Mahdi has used the time since to play diplomat, traveling throughout Iraq and meeting with various groups.) This is when the press pays attention. December 19th. Now on December 16th, Nouri had tanks circling the homes and offices of various members of Iraqiya -- a detail only the Washington Post's Liz Sly bothered to report. ("In recent days, the homes of top Sunni politicians in the fortified Green Zone have been ringed by tanks and armored personnel carriers, and rumors are flying that arrest warrants will be issued for other Sunni leaders.")
11) Iraqiya called off their boycott when Blinken begged them to and promised them that the Erbil Agreement would be honored. A detail Blinken leaves out. It's not one history will leave out. It's cute the way he erases his own involvement, isn't it? He got a boycott ended. That's it. The problems still remain and if he and Joe Biden can't make good on this round of promises, Iraqiya's going to start talking as badly about the administration as the Kurds are. (And, like the Kurds, they will have good reason to do so.)
The only thing that ends the crisis is a return to the Erbil Agreement. Nouri doesn't want to do that. When he doesn't want to do something he stalls and stalls some more. He wasn't supposed to become Prime Minister without a full Cabinet, but he's 15 months into this term and still has never appointed a Minister of the Interior, a Minister of Defense or a Minister of National Security.
While Blinken lies and claims success and wants to insist that Iraq's reaching out to neighbors, let's look at what that really means for the US. Nouri al-Maliki wrapped up a recent visit to Kuwait and wanted everyone to know he didn't leave empty handed. Saturday, Dar Addustour reported Kuwait had agreed to release 9 Iraqi prisoners -- including the one who allegedly plotted to assassinate George H.W. Bush. Today Al Rafidayn explains that Raad al-Asadi is one of the nine -- he's the one arrested in Kuwait in 1993 for attempting to assassinate George H.W. Bush. You might think would warrant attention from the US press. When Bully Boy Bush was mentioning the alleged attempt in his speech to the UN General Assembly in September 2002, the press was happy to cover it. Whenever Bush mentioned it, the press was happy to cover it. When he didn't, the press was still happy to cover it. Not to mention that June 26, 1993, Bill Clinton ordered a missile attack on downtown Baghdad as a result of the alleged assassination attempt. Andrew Glass (POLITICO) reported on that attack two years ago noting: In all, 23 Tomahawk missiles were fired from the USS Peterson in the Red Sea and from the cruiser USS Chancellorsville in the Persian Gulf, destroying the building and, according to Iraqi accounts, killing at least eight civilians. The Sunday morning American missile attack was meant to retaliate for an Iraqi plot to assassinate George H.W. Bush during the former president's visit to Kuwait, where he was to be honored for his role in leading the coalition that drove Iraqi invaders from that country during the 1991 Persian Gulf War.
So was it all just another government lie? If not, it seems rather strange that there's no US press interest in the deal Nouri made. It seems strange that Blinken wants to tout Iraq's success at the same time Nouri's securing the release of Poppy Bush's alleged assassin.
Blinken insists that the US Embassy in Baghdad and US Ambassador James Jeffrey have a strong relationship with Nouri. Jeffrey's been repeatedly rebuffed by Nouri since December 19th. And last month, Tim Arango (New York Times) reported the truth which includes:
After the American troops departed in December, life became more difficult for the thousands of diplomats and contractors left behind. Convoys of food that had been escorted by the United States military from Kuwait were delayed at border crossing as Iraqis demanded documentation that the Americans were unaccustomed to providing.
Barack chose badly. He chose to get in bed with a thug. That's on him. People can try to lie and pretty it up but no one forced Barack to do the nasty with Nouri.
Today -- no link to that garbage -- Barack wants to use Iraq to help his re-election campaign and he's got this site that you can fill in a message of thanks to a vet -- and Barack will have your e-mail and zip code to use for his re-election. That's beyond tacky. There just aren't words for that.
I'm sorry for anyone who had to fight in the illegal war, I'm sorry to the families and friends who lost a loved one, I'm sorry to those who came back injured, I'm sorry to those who had to put their lives on hold, I'm sorry the United States government didn't value the lives of its own citizens (we always knew they didn't care about Iraqis -- after all that was the message of the Clinton-era sanctions). As for thanks, I believe Barack Obama should be kissing the ass of everyone in the antiwar movement -- a movement he co-opted and rode to the White House. The Iraq War was based on lies and illegal. And the US occupation of Iraq has not ended.
I'm sorry Barack lied to the American people and said the first thing he would do when he was sworn in was to start the withdrawal process, that we had his word on that. I'm sorry that Barack lied and that when Samantha Power let the truth slip in March 2008, she was forced out and John Nichols and all the other whores tried to distract the American people. I'm sorry Barack's a liar and killer. I'm sorry he was ordering a drone attack upon being sworn in.
As we 'celebrate' the illegal war that cost (conservative estimate) 2 million Iraqi lives, I'm sorry to Iraq and the children of Iraq who will live with the fallout for decades to come (we'll go into that tomorrow). I'm sorry that Mr. Pretend To Be Against The Iraq War Barack Obama has never said a damn word about all the Iraqis killed and wounded in this illegal war. I'm sorry for the wounded because they have to continue to live in a country the US government destroyed.
I'm sorry that there was no honest examination of the Iraq War by the press that dropped it like a hot potato after they sold it or by the Democratic Party that used it as an election booster and then quickly got on board with it. I'm sorry that War Hawk and War Criminal Barack Obama thinks he has some higher ground to stand from and issue apologies for what those under him do. From Sherwood Ross' "Obama Apologizes for Kandahar Massacre -- But Not His Own Killings" (Scoop):
How shall the world view the apology by President Obama for the massacre of 16 Afghan villagers allegedly by a lone U.S. serviceman in Kandahar Province when the President is himself personally responsible for the extra-judicial killing of hundreds of civilians by means of drone aircraft strikes whose crime he defends? Army Staff Sgt., Robert Bales, of Lake Tapps, Wash., is being held in prison in Fort Leavenworth, Kan. Mr. Obama is free to travel the campaign trail.
"We're heart-broken over the loss of innocent life," the president said of the Kandahar massacre. His seeming expression of contrition rings hollow, though, particularly if one considers how Mr. Obama goes about his daily routine ordering drone strikes and seemingly is unaffected by the "loss of innocent lives" they cause, as well as by the hated companion night raids on Afghan homes, also the result of his policy.
I'm sorry that elected Democrats seem to think their going along with the Libyan War will be forgotten. I'm sorry that the party has sold out whatever scraps of ethics it had to get behind Barack in all of his destruction. His tantrum baby, smashing everything in sight from public financing during the general election, to humanity.
Today Barack Obama declared of Iraqis, "Their lives are better. They got the better end of the deal." Oh, wait, that was his doppelganger Lynddie England -- whom AFP reports on today. Like Barack, the torture queen of Abu Ghraib has nothing to say about Iraqis who were hurt or killed, she's only focused on "people on our side." Heaven help anyone whom Lynddie England believes is on her side.
I'm sorry that pompous asses think international law can be trashed -- both with starting the Iraq War and then walking away from the promise made to Camp Ashraf residents in Iraq. I'm sorry that idiots and asses seem to think rights are only granted to those we approve of. That's how you get so much prison abuse in the US, that thinking. 'There's prisoners, who cares what happens to them.' Either human rights and the law matter or they don't.
How did the Holocaust happen? Over six million Jews were murdered also killed were gays and lesbians, gypsies, disabled or challenged people, civilians and soldiers of the USSR and others. How did it happen?
Because I don't care about the gypsies, or I don't care about the disabled or . . .
That's how it happened. Don't pretend, don't kid. It happened because a comfortable people -- often in the US -- were able to look down on other human beings. They didn't do the cleansing, but they damn well made sure they didn't do any defending of the targeted populations.
Peter Certo's garbage at Foreign Policy In Focus reads like a primer of how to allow the Holocaust. Never once does Peter Certo express even a bit of concern for the residents of Camp Ashraf, never once does he note the legal obligations to Camp Ashraf, never once does he even mention Camp Ashraf but damned if he doesn't attack people who've spoken out for the Camp Ashraf residents.
As I've explained before, I had no idea who the residents of Camp Ashraf were until well into the Iraq War and then I asked disinterested parties (friends at the United Nations -- the UN was a disinterested party at that time, that's not true today) to walk me through. This is a legal issue and legal's what everyone wants to avoid. Because the legal issue is clear: The residents are protected under international law and the Geneva Convention.
It's also a humanitarian issue and either you believe all people have a right to protection or you don't believe that. And if you don't believe that, we're back to the days where the fact that you hate Jewish people means it's okay if the Nazis kill them -- that's it's okay if the Nazi's kill a 1,000 Jews, or 10,000 Jews but somewhere after it reaches 6 million, well then all the sudden you've got a few concerns -- too damn late, you've got a few concerns.
It's cute the way IPS's Foreign Policy in Focus has time to yack about others. Were I Foreign Policy in Focus, I think I'd be on my knees before the world begging forgiveness.
Emira Woods:You know, the other laureate, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, we hold her up, as well. She is Africa's first democratically elected woman president. She has long been an icon and a role model for many on the continent and around the world. I have to say it's a little bit -- it's interesting, this prize going to her. It is just a few days before the elections, and she is, as the incumbent, running for president, and the elections are next week, October 11th, in Liberia. Clearly, women were fundamental in terms of getting her into office, and, many believe, keeping her in office on this path to peace for the last six years. But she comes from a different tradition. And let's remember, you know, it's -- Ellen Johnson Sirleaf remains, really, the only president on the continent of Africa that offered to host the U.S. Africa Command, AFRICOM, very controversial move, not well supported by civil society, or particularly the Council of Churches and others in Liberia who were not in support of that. So, really, this award, it comes at a challenging moment, probably for the opposition in Liberia, but it also, for many of us who are committed to peace, is a reminder that this should be a clarion call for the President to remember her commitment to long-term peace and justice, not only for the people of Liberia, but for all of the African continent and the world.
As Amy Goodman explained, "Emira Woods, co-director of Foreign Policy in Focus, Institute for Policy Studies". Foreign Policy in Focus is part of IPS. And the woman lovely Emira was praising? She's in the news today. Tamasin Ford and Bonnie Allen (Guardian) report:
In a joint interview with Tony Blair, who was left looking visibly uncomfortable by her remarks, Sirleaf told the Guardian: "We've got certain traditional values in our society that we would like to preserve."
Liberian legislation classes "voluntary sodomy" as a misdemeanour punishable by up to one year in prison, but two new bills have been proposed that would target homosexuality with much tougher sentences.
Blair, on a visit to Liberia in his capacity as the founder of the AfricaGovernance Initiative (AGI), a charity that aims to strengthen African governments, refused to comment on Sirleaf's remarks.
Again, were I Foreign Policy in Focus, I'd be begging for forgiveness right now for praising a proud homophobe like Sirleaf. March 5th, we first noted the attacks on the Iraqi youth with "Emo kids in Iraq targeted for death." It's 14 days later and The Nation magazine's never said a damn word about what's taking place. There is a connection -- there are multiple actually -- Katrina vanden Hevuel is an IPS Trustee. And she's editor and publisher of The Nation. It's cute the way they all ignore the LGBT issues, isn't it? Especially Katrina whose family home has many closets -- none of them unoccupied. But if Katrina ever practiced ethical journalism, she'd have to disclose things like being an IPS Trustee. I mean you don't write this lengthy column -- as she did last June -- praising IPS through the roof and 'forget' to disclose your an IPS Trustee unless you're practice the art of concealment.
And The Nation ignores the Iraq War today. The war that saw its circulation soar (it's long since crashed). Democracy Now! didn't even note in the headline. According to Democracy Now! back then, the Iraq War started at 9:30 EST, March 19th. But nothing on it today. Nothing at The Progressive on the Iraq War though they do want you to know about Uncle Tom's Cabin being published 160 years ago tomorrow. Tomorrow. We'll link because it's Kevin Alexander Gray. Uprising Radio didn't have time for the Iraq War anniversary today. Nor did In These Times. Those outlets should all be ashamed of themselves.
But that's really it. (Feel free to e-mail -- firstname.lastname@example.org -- if you have some program I've missed. I haven't been by a TV or radio and am going by speed listens over the phone and what Pacifica friends are telling me.)
It's handful. Thank goodness for Ann Wright. Thank goodness for David Swanson. But that's really it today. As of right now, Antiwar.com has done NOTHING on Iraq today. Their most recent piece is Margaret Griffis Sunday piece on violence.
Lynddie England didn't take the day off from spinning lies. Barack Obama didn't miss a chance to try to make a buck off the illegal war today. But those who supposedly gave a damn, they had others things to do and they are a big reason that not only has the government not gotten honest about the Iraq War but also why so many wars continue to sprout and flourish under a 'peace' president.
Jonathan Groubert: And then there was the way Iraqi males viewed Iraqi females running around in shorts and t-shirts
Safa al-Sultani: Like, our boys, they grow up in this cultural environment and, as a result, they opposed to something like that, they opposed to something like girls playing basketball or --
Jonathan Groubert: What did they say to you?
Safa al-Sultani: Like, "Don't try to act like American girls." Like, you should start thinking more and evaluate if that's really appropriate to be done here. This is the first thing they said. The second thing they said that 'this is unacceptable' so they won't accept -- some won't accept you in our groups because you're doing something like we are opposing to.
Jonathan Groubert: And what do you say when they say that to you?
Safa al-Sultani: I say, first of all, we are not imitating anyone, this is something that we were wanting to do a long time ago but we didn't have the chance and the opportunity to do it and you'll get used to it with time, deal with it.
Jonathan Groubert: And do they accept that? Do they get angry?
Safa al-Sultani: They got angry. But actually, they accepted it, after two years or
something like that.
Jonathan Groubert: The very idea of creating a women's sports team is groundbreaking in and of itself but what makes Safa's team at AUiS really special is that in a country where ethnic differences have meant tension and killing as far back as people can remember, this team is ethnically mixed.
Safa al-Sultani: You have Christian, you have Arab Sunni, you have Arab Shi'ite, you have Kurdish, you have Turkoman, you have Sabi -- it's mini-Iraq, you know?
Jonathan Groubert: What did you know about other ethnic populations in Iraq? Christians, Kurds, what image did you have of them before going to the AUiS? And let's start with the Kurds.
Safa al-Sultani: This one, I was really negative. I was negative because, like, Saddam put this bad image of Kurds people in our heads.
Jonathan Groubert: But what exactly is a bad image? What exactly were you thinking?
Safa al-Sultani: Okay, the bad image is that they were people who always challenged his power but he didn't present it that way, he presented it as challenging "our" power, and Kurds always want to get Arabs down, like they don't want a good life for them. So, as a result, like naturally you'd grow up and say that Kurd people are bad.
Jonathan Groubert: So have there ever been ethnic tensions on the team?
Safa al-Sultani: Sure. I won't lie and say that, 'No, there was none.' And I created some of them [laughing] actually.
Jonathan Groubert: What do you mean? What did you do?
Safa al-Sultani: Like, okay, there was an Arab girl who got hurt and a Kurdish girl of course I would to help the Arab girl first. I would leave the Kurdish one to suffer for a bit. But then I would help her. Of course, this is not the case anymore. I am totally different now, don't get me wrong. But that would happen at the beginning, like there were tensions, we didn't help each other because, I've seen how people treat me out in the street, so I just reflected them and the team and of course that wasn't actually me.
Jonathan Groubert: Did you actually see that happen? Like an ethnic conflict between two girls on the team? That you would have to deal with?
Safa al-Sultani: It happens while we're playing. Like, 'She kept the ball. Why she kept the ball? Why she didn't give it to me to score?' Like something as simple as that. You know, connected to ethnic background.
Jonathan Groubert: Safa had her reasons to be suspicious of others. Her mother is a Sunni politician from Baghdad who was on the governing council in 2004. Her mother and brother were in a car leaving Najaf, a Shi'ite stronghold, when they were ambushed.
Safa al-Sultani: And my dad said, let's get out of this house and go to your uncle's house and I was like, 'Okay fine, let's do it.' But I didn't actually know what was happening. But then I was sitting with them in my uncle's house and there on the TV they were saying that my mom, she got in an attack. I was like, "What? No one told me about that." Because they were afraid because they know that I am like really sensitive so they didn't want to do it because they didn't even know what happened, like we didn't know about my brother died until the day after.
Jonathan Groubert: I'm so sorry. What happened?
Safa al-Sultani: They were on their way from Baghdad to Najaf and they were in their own car and the terrorists who attacked them were like cars and guns, shooting them, and all this stuff happened.