Monday, October 29, 2012

Iraq searches plane, US administration evades responsibilities

Al Rafidayn reports that Iraq announced yesterday that they had searched an Iranian plane bound for Syria on Saturday.  The Windsor Star notes the announcement.  The Voice of Russia quotes an Iraqi official stating that "the plane was carrying medicine and food supplies."  Whether the search was sincere or not (I have no idea), the search and the announcement come about not because of the administration but because of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

At a September 20th Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on the nomination of Robert S. Beecroft to be US Ambassador to Iraq (see that week's Wednesday and Thursday snapshots), Senator John Kerry, Chair of the Committee pressed this issue and made clear that he, like others on the Committee, was frustrated with the use of Iraqi air space to carry goods into Syria. (The Senate, like the White House, believes this is taking place. Nouri al-Maliki's government has consistently denied that it is.)  From the hearing.

Chair John Kerry: Can you share with me an answer to the issue I raised about the Iranians using American airspace in order to support [Syrian President Bashar] Assad? What are we doing, what have you been doing -- if anything, to try to limit that use?

Charge d'Affaires Robert S. Beecroft: I have personally engaged on this repeatedly at the highest levels of Iraqi government. My colleagues in Baghdad have engaged on this. We're continuing to engage on it. And every single visitor representing the US government from the Senate, recently three visitors, to administration officials has raised it with the Iraqis and made very clear that we find this unnaceptable and we find it unhelpful and detrimental to the region and to Iraq and, of course -- first and foremost, to the Syrian people. It's something that needs to stop and we are pressing and will continue to press until it does stop.

Chair John Kerry: Well, I mean, it may stop when it's too late. If so many people have entreated the government to stop and that doesn't seem to be having an impact -- uh, that sort of alarms me a little bit and seems to send a signal to me: Maybe -- Maybe we should make some of our assistance or some of our support contingent on some kind of appropriate response? I mean it just seems completely inappropriate that we're trying to help build their democracy, support them, put American lives on the line, money into the country and they're working against our interest so overtly -- against their own interests too -- I might add.

Charge d'Affaires Robert S. Beecroft: Senator, Senator, I share your concerns 100%. I'll 
 continue to engage. And, with your permission, I will make very clear to the Iraqis what you've said to me today -- and that is you find it alarming and that it may put our assistance and our cooperation on issues at stake.

Chair John Kerry: Well I think that it would be very hard. I mean, around here, I think right now there's a lot of anxiety about places that seem to be trying to have it both ways. So I wish you would relay that obviously and I think that members of the Committee would -- would want to do so.

While Committee Chair Kerry and the entire Senate Foreign Relations Committee were on this, State Dept spokesperson Victoria Nuland would rush to publicly distance the State Dept from the Committee.  

Maybe John Kerry and the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, not the administration, should have been put in charge of Iraq and not the administration.  There the only ones who seem to be functioning at a mature and diplomatic level.  

Whether the searches are sincere or not, Nouri al-Maliki got the Committee's message that he better start making an effort.   The administration has been incredibly ineffective on the issue of Iraq.  When they have decided to do something, they've sided against the Iraqi people.

Amanda Antell (Daily Barometer) reports on a lecture Maj Gen Jeff Buchanan gave last week:

"We didn’t have a good idea of Iraqi culture. The process of an election wasn’t established, [nor was] an idea of their values or culture," Buchanan said.
The Iraqi people had been forced to live a certain way, and it didn’t change overnight.  The values of free election and press are starting to take hold; however, the biggest contribution actually goes to the Western media, which showed the Iraqi government the media could be trusted.

Antell reports that Buchanan also declared that mistakes have to be admitted to.  So he might try -- especially when he's talking about trust -- to stop lying.  In 2010, the White House sided with second place Nouri al-Maliki, ignoring the will of the Iraqi people and sending the message that their votes didn't matter.  Iraqiya came in first.  They should have had first shot at forming a government.

From  John Barry's "'The Engame' Is A Well Researched, Highly Critical Look at U.S. Policy in Iraq" (The Daily Beast):

As Michael Gordon and Bernard Trainor charge in their ambitious new history of the Iraq war, The Endgame, Obama's administration sacrificed political influence by failing in 2010 to insist that the results of Iraq's first proper election be honored: "When the Obama administration acquiesced in the questionable judicial opinion that prevented Ayad Allawi's bloc, after it had won the most seats in 2010, from the first attempt at forming a new government, it undermined the prospects, however slim, for a compromise that might have led to a genuinely inclusive and cross-sectarian government."

Even if the US was bound and determined to have Nouri get a second term, they could have backed the effort to go forward (Nouri dug in his heels -- with the White House backing -- and created an 8 month political stalemate).  They could have said, "The Constitution must be followed, the results honored."  They could have then worked behind the scenes to ensure that Ayad Allawi (leader of Iraqiya) was not able to form a government in 30 days.  A prime minister-designate is named and then has 30 days to form a Cabinet.  If he or she fails to do that in 30 days, another prime minister-designate is named.  Meaning, they could have backed the process, backed the Constitution and still rigged things so that Nouri could have a second term.  Considering the divisions, it would have been very likely that Allawi couldn't have formed a government -- especially with the US government spreading 'influence' around the way they did to get support for Nouri.

I'm not recommending that they should have done that.  I am saying that if they wanted to rig the process to keep Nouri -- as they wanted and as they ended up doing -- they could have done it in such a way that still honored the Constitution or at least gave the appearence of doing so.    

Instead, they send the message that the will of the people didn't matter, the Iraqi Constitution didn't matter and that voting didn't matter.  If Buchanan wants to talk about honesty and the need for the government to admit mistakes, then mistakes need to be admitted or it's just empty lip service.

Bonnie reminds that Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts "Campaigning" went up last night.
On this week's Law and Disorder Radio,  an hour long program that airs Monday mornings at 9:00 a.m. EST on WBAI and around the country throughout the week, hosted by attorneys Heidi Boghosian, Michael S. Smith and Michael Ratner (Center for Constitutional Rights) topics addressed include Dick Cheney and qualified immunity, NYPD's forcing Mosque Crawler to become an informant, professor Al McCoy on the Bully Boy Bush and Barack administrations use of torture and the NLG's Urszula Masny-Latos on police spying in Boston.

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