Wednesday, September 26, 2012

It's not just that Special-Ops are in Iraq, it's that the White House wants more troops deployed there

Michael R. Gordon and Bernard Trainor's new book The Endgame is noted by Peter Feaver (Foreign Policy) who summarizes some of the points in the book:

  • A president unable to engage in effective personal diplomacy at crunch time because he had failed to invest in the hard work of retail diplomacy along the way. This is a problem that extends well past Iraq, as another blockbuster New York Times story makes clear. As an unnamed U.S. diplomat told the NYT: "He's not good with personal relationships; that's not what interests him...But in the Middle East, those relationships are essential. The lack of them deprives D.C. of the ability to influence leadership decisions."
  • A team whose wild over-confidence contributed to the failure to react in a timely manner to an unraveling situation. In one of the most devastating items in the piece, Gordon quotes Vice President Biden: "I'll bet you my vice presidency Maliki will extend the SOFA," he added, referring to the Status of Forces Agreement the Obama administration hoped to negotiate."
  • A team paralyzed by infighting and poisonous civil-military relations. Gordon reports that Thomas Donilon, Obama's national security advisor, criticized Admiral Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, for presenting military advice that ran counter to what the White House wanted to hear.

Feaver points out that he himself called out the failed negotiatons to extend the US military presence.  He apparently can't find links to where he called out the squashing of democracy by the White House in 2010 when they backed Nouri despited Iraqiya coming in first in the elections which, per the Iraqi Constitution, meant Iraqiya should have had first crack at forming a government, not that Nouri should get a second term.  That was the important moment.  You were either going to embrace democracy then or you weren't.  The Iraqi people watched as the message was sent that you can go to the polls, you can win an election but, in the end, all that matters is what the US government wants.  A great many of Iraq's current problems -- and even more of the future ones -- can and will be traced to that moment.

You can't claim to support democracy -- a claim Barack ridiculously made to the United Nations yesterday -- and then step on the will of the Iraqi people and be taken seriously.  Nor do you help a fledging democracy emerge by overthrowing the will of the people.

For Feaver, military is always the answer, he goes there automatically.  But by the time the December 2011 rolls around,  the Iraqi people have already lived over a year with their votes disregarded and with the government in Political Stalemate II because, on top of everything else, the US government did not back the contract they negotiated (the Erbil Agreement).

The military will never be my first go-to for problem solving and Feaver and I will always differ on that but it's a shame he's read the new book (which has two authors, a point he also misses) and his take away includes nothing about how a fledging democracy got a crash course in Your Vote Doesn't Matter 101. 

In yesterday's New York Times, Tim Arango had an article which included this in the middle:

Iraq and the United States are negotiating an agreement that could result in the return of small units of American soldiers to Iraq on training missions. At the request of the Iraqi government, according to General Caslen, a unit of Army Special Operations soldiers was recently deployed to Iraq to advise on counterterrorism and help with intelligence.

I didn't read the article until this morning but, as we noted in yesterday's snapshot,  "And though some in the administration believe that if he wins re-election this November, that the first thing that will happen with Iraq is new negotiations to put US troops on the ground there."  That's the talk of the administration right now.  And it's been said publicly in Congressional hearings.  Glad it finally made it into print.  As for Special-Ops, Ted Koppel reported that they were remaining and did so at the end of last year on Brian Williams poorly named program.  I always have to stop and think, "It's not 30 Rock, what is it? It was December 12th . . . "  You have to wonder if ratings might be higher with a different title.  It's Rock Center with Brian Williams.  From Koppel's report:

MR. KOPPEL: I realize you can't go into it in any detail, but I would assume that there is a healthy CIA mission here. I would assume that JSOC may still be active in this country, the joint special operations. You've got FBI here. You've got DEA here. Can, can you give me sort of a, a menu of, of who all falls under your control?

AMB. JAMES JEFFREY: You're actually doing pretty well, were I authorized to talk about half of this stuff.

Koppel also addressed it on NPR.  That didn't stop 'reporter' Scott Horsley from getting it wrong and earning "Biggest Damn Liar of the Week" from Third on September 2nd.

I only read Arango's article this morning due to a friend passing on Tom Hayden's 6 paragraph post about it at The Nation.

And if you haven't noticed, it's taking forever to get this entry completed.  Because what do you say after that?

And this is the time and this is the place to say it.

So what do you say?

Do you point out, "Thanks, Tom, but aren't you aware Special Ops never left Iraq?"

Do you point out that suddenly Tom wants to wax on about humanity and Vietnam but no where does Tom call out Barack.

Who's doing this, Tom?

The person you spent this month praising and telling us that we had to vote for?

Remember your column? Insisting the was only one right path for the left and it was voting for Obama?  Remember that?  "Saving Obama, Saving Ourselves?"   We called you out for it.  It inspired Isaiah to do The World Today Just Nuts "Tom Hayden Democrats" captures.

tom hayden democrats 1

You want to talk about humanity, Tom?  You want to talk about what this means for the Iraqi people?  Then you need to retract "Saving Obama, Saving Ourselves!"  You can't have it both ways.  You can't pretend to give a damn about Iraqs, take to The Nation to call out the Special-Ops and pretend this is happening without Barack's say so.

It doesn't work that way unless your goal is to be a hypocrite.

Tom couldn't say a word about Kim when it might have mattered.  he hasn't said a word about her since she was arrested last Thursday.  Christopher Jamison isn't silent.  The Veterans for Peace member writes a letter to the editors of the Watertown Daily Times where he concludes, "Had I been ordered to do a second tour to Vietnam, knowing what I know now, I think I would have done what Kimberly Rivera did. I hope I would have had the courage to resist and denounce the war then as she has with the Iraq war now."

When I said that (and much more) to the friend who passed on Tom's piece over the phone (a friend with The Nation), I was told that the "net gain" was that Tom and the magazine were talking about the Special-Ops.

In a vacuum.  And please note that Tom does not tell readers what Arango did: Negotiations are continuing to send US troops back into Iraq.

That's not in his piece.  It's Arango's sentence right before the one that spawned six paragraphs and Tom can't mention it?

I'm sorry, I'd love to see the "net gain" in this but I just see the hypocrisy and, as I said over the phone this morning, "How sweet.  Tommy's finally rediscovered Iraq.  He couldn't help Iraq's LGBT community.  He was silent as US war resister Kim Rivera was forced out of Canada and arrrested in the US.  He can't decry the alarming number of executions taking place in Iraq and heaven forbid he call out Nouri al-Maliki.  Yeah, right, there's so much to be greatful for in those six paragraphs."  I wish I could be nicer about it but it's not a game to me and I really don't give damn about who occupies the White House at this point.  I am deeply concerned about the fact that we have made Iraq even worse for Iraqis in the last four years and who the hell would have thought that was possible after the tragic and illegal invasion?

 The following community sites -- plus The Diane Rehm Show, World Can't Wait,, Pacifica Evening News and C-SPAN -- updated last night and today:

For the five people sending e-mails to the public account asking that I post Barack's campaign video, I'll do that just as soon as he grows a vagina, okay?  If you haven't noticed, the only campaign we're noting material from is Jill Stein's.  We're doing that because she's from the left, she's a "she" (which damn well matters after all the vile sexism of 2008), because she's independent and doesn't have corporations dollars to get the word out and because she's got actual stands and proposals.  She actually can and will talk about poverty in America.  I don't think Barack remembers that word these days.  But, as a woman, even though I have little to no interest in the presidential election, I will note Jill Stein's run.  And as soon as Barack sprouts a vagina, he can be bi-gender!, we'll get right on noting his campaign videos too because, poor little fellow, he just doesn't have the money from Wall Street.  Oh.  Wait.  He does.

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