Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Pinocchio Obama



 From March 8, 2008, it's Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts "Pinocchio Obama."

Rating a new ad from Barack Obama's re-election campaign, Glenn Kessler (Washington Post) gives it three Pinocchios.  Among other things, the ad proclaims, "Mitt Romney would have left thirty thousand troops there [Iraq]."  Kessler reviews how the Status Of Force Agreement (negotiated under the Bush administration) was coming to an end and the Barack administration attempted to negotiate another agreement.  The deal faltered on the issue of immunity.  But even after it was seen as faltering, negotiations continued (and still continue -- but we will get to that).

This was established by Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta and General Martin Dempsey (Chair of the Joint Chiefs) appeared before the Senate Armed Services Committee November 15, 2011 (for reporting on that hearing,  see  "Iraq snapshot,"  "Iraq snapshot,"  "Iraq snapshot."  Ava reported on it with "Scott Brown questions Panetta and Dempsey (Ava), Wally reported on it with "The costs (Wally)" and Kat reported on it with "Who wanted what?").  By November 15th, the press had been telling you for weeks that negotiations were over.  But that's not what Senator Joe Lieberman and Panetta were saying at the hearing.  Excerpt.

Senator Joe Lieberman:  Let me, Secretary Panetta, pick up from that point. I've heard from friends in Iraq -- Iraqis -- that Prime Minister Maliki said at one point that he needed to stop the negotiations -- leave aside for one moment the reasons -- but he was prepared to begin negotiations again between two sovereign nations -- the US and Iraq -- about some troops being in Iraq after January 1st.  So that's what I've heard from there. But I want to ask you from the administration point of view. I know that Prime Minister Maliki is coming here in a few weeks to Washington. Is the administration planning to pursue further discussions with the Iraqi government about deploying at least some US forces in Iraq after the end of this year?
Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta: Senator, as I pointed out in my testimony, what we seek with Iraq is a normal relationship now and that does involve continuing negotiations with them as to what their needs are.  Uh, and I believe there will be continuing negotations.  We're in negotiations now with regards to the size of the security office that will be there and so there will be -- There aren't zero troops that are going to be there. We'll have, you know, hundreds that will be present by virtue of that office assuming we can work out an agreement there.  But I think that once we've completed the implementation of the security agreement that there will begin a series of negotiations about what exactly are additional areas where we can be of assistance? What level of trainers do they need? What can we do with regards to CT [Counter-Terrorism] operations? What will we do on exercises -- joint-exercises -- that work together?

As Kessler points out, the administration attempted to negotiate a variation of a SOFA and failed.  Failed.  But the administration wants to spin.  Kessler:

In other words, Obama has spun a diplomatic failure — an inability to reach a deal with Iraq — into a “mission accomplished” talking point. In fact, Obama made a dubious claim in the debate that having any troops in Iraq “would not help us in the Middle East.”
Since the departure of U.S. troops, the United States has lost leverage in Iraq. For instance, Iran uses Iraqi airspace and convoys on the ground to ferry arms and military equipment to the beleaguered regime in Syria — a government that Obama says must fall.

On Iraq, Bruce Riedel notes today at the Jakarta Globe:

In Iraq, the 2007 surge was supposed to destroy Al-Qaeda's franchise, the Islamic State of Iraq. Despite enormous pressure and repeated decapitation of senior leadership, the group has survived and recovered.
It appeals to the Sunni Arab minority, which feels oppressed by the Shi'ite-dominated government. Al-Qaeda in Iraq focuses its attacks on the Shi'ite regime, which it labels a modern "Safavid evil den," a reference to the Shiite Persian Empire in the 17th century that ruled Iran and Iraq. Its leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi has promised more attacks in Iraq and in the United States.
Al-Qaeda in Iraq is also working to export its jihad into the chaos and civil war in Syria. Zawahiri called for jihadists across the world to flock to Syria this spring to join the uprising against the Bashar al-Assad regime and the Alawite minority that supports it. 

Riedel is part of Brookings which deserves some serious scorn (and will receive it in another entry) but he's not part of that so we won't go into all that with regards to him. 

Barack deserves the full four Pinocchios -- the most the Post gives -- because his ad is a blatant lie.  It's at the core of his re-election campaign and, as Kessler notes, he's spinning his diplomatic failure as keeping to a 2008 campaign promise.  More to the point, he's still trying to get a deal to send more US troops back into Iraq.   Tim Arango (New York Times) reported September 26th:

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.

The following community sites -- plus Ms. magazine blog, Pacifica Evening News, The Diane Rehm Show, C-SPAN, The NewsHour, Adam Kokesh, and Susan's On The Edge -- updated last night and this morning:

There are two links above to the third party debate.  Looking briefly through the e-mails this morning, a number are expecting Ava and I to weigh in.  No.  A) We were speaking last night about the issue of the wars and the elections.  We weren't watching the debate.  B) We just covered one yesterday morning. (Romney and Barack.)  C) I doubt Iraq was mentioned but I will check to see if it was.  If it was, it better have been honestly or they'll get called out the same way any other candidate would be.  If the debate were tonight or Thursday night, there's a chance Ava and I would have done a next morning piece on it.  But our morning is too busy for that today, sorry.

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