Thursday, June 19, 2014

Iraq snapshot

Thursday, June 19, 2014.  Chaos and violence continue, Barack announces more US troops are going into Iraq, he fails to define the mission clearly, we remind that he discussed the step he's taking today back in 2007 (but the press hid it away), The Nation offers a strong editorial while others in panhandle media cower, and much more (including Barack's acknowledgment that US troops have been in Iraq as advisors already).

Lindsay Wise (McClatchy Newspapers) reports, "President Barack Obama announced on Thursday that the U.S. would send up to 300 military advisers to Iraq to assess how best to advise and train Iraqi forces. But the president stressed that American combat troops would not deploy to the country again."  We're back to that nonsense again?  Troops on the ground aren't 'combat troops'?

We're back to pretending and hair splitting, aren't we?

Remember this?

The point is as long as we have American troops in Iraq -- no matter what you call them -- you can call them 'noncombat' troops, you can call them Mousekateers -- they're going to be fighting and dying -- some of them.

That's what Thomas E. Ricks told Steve Inskeep on NPR's Morning Edition March 4, 2009.

Let's flip through the scrapbook some more. August 31, 2010, Barack gave a speech from the Oval Office.  Anyone remember it?  Here's the opening:

Good evening.  Tonight, I’d like to talk to you about the end of our combat mission in Iraq, the ongoing security challenges we face, and the need to rebuild our nation here at home. 
I know this historic moment comes at a time of great uncertainty for many Americans.  We’ve now been through nearly a decade of war.  We’ve endured a long and painful recession.  And sometimes in the midst of these storms, the future that we’re trying to build for our nation -- a future of lasting peace and long-term prosperity -- may seem beyond our reach.

But this milestone should serve as a reminder to all Americans that the future is ours to shape if we move forward with confidence and commitment.  It should also serve as a message to the world that the United States of America intends to sustain and strengthen our leadership in this young century.

Yea!  War was over!  Combat troops were out of the country!  What was left was 'advisers,' right?

So he gave that speech August 31, 2010.

What happened the next month?  Anyone, remember?

Here's a hint: Seven.   And, no, we're not talking Jeri Ryan's character on Star Trek: Voyager.

7 was the number of US troops who died in Iraq in September 2010, when 'combat' operations were over an all 'combat' troops had left the country.

October 2010: 2 US troops were killed.

November 2010:  2 US troops were killed.

December 2010: 1

January 2011: 6

February 2011: 3

March 2011: 2

April 2011: 11

May 2011: 2

June 2011: 15

July 2011: 5

Zero for August 2011

September 2011: 4

October 2011: 4

November 2011: 2

Zero for December 2011.

Zero for January 2012.

August 31, 2010, Barack gave a speech about 'combat' soldiers leaving Iraq and 'combat' operations having ended but 66 troops would die after 'combat' ended.

Today, Barack made a declaration that the White House media team Tweeted:

They're not?  You said August 31, 2010 that they were out of combat and combat operations were over.  66 troops died after you made that claim in a speech.

So why should anyone believe you?  Do you have a crystal ball?  Runes? Tarot cards?  Maybe you use a pendulum? Or spell craft?

Please do explain to the American people how sending troops into Iraq comes with guarantees when your pretty words of August 31, 2010 did not protect 66 service members, did not prevent their deaths.

There are no guarantees and Barack lies when he tries to sweet talk the American people.

But a number of fools make up the American people.  And a number of that segment are self-deluding fools.

What Barack's doing right now?

It's disgusting.

But it's not surprising and he's, in fact, keeping his word.

But a lot of the Cult of St. Barack refused to tell you those truths.

For example, the New York Times refused to tell the truth.  Where there is stupidity, there is Tom Hayden on his knees, mouth open and waiting.  Back when he was still a US senator, Barack, in the midst of campaigning for the Democratic Party's presidential nomination (October 2007), gave an interview to the New York Times.  If you missed that (Tom-Tom Hayden did), Barack talked about how his 'withdrawal' didn't mean US troops would stay out of Iraq.  If the security situation got bad inside Iraq, Barack said, he would send troops into Iraq even if they'd been removed.

That's pretty big news -- especially when it's coming from someone running on a soundbyte claiming he will remove all US troops from Iraq and it's the first thing he'll do as president.

That's pretty big news.

So someone might want to ask why the New York Times failed to report that fact?

It never made it into the paper.

We noted it here.  We noted it when the paper's website published the transcript of that interview.

That should have been an issue in the debates but it took a lot of whoring to present Barack as anti-war and a lot of whores (hey, Tom Hayden!) were invested in that lie.

Barack is being completely dishonest about the risks the US troops will face in Iraq.  But he's also sticking to what he stated he would do.  It's not his fault that the New York Times had an explosive story but refused to publish it.  It's not his fault that after we noted his remarks here -- after we wrote it up at Third the way the New York Times should have -- no one else seemed too concern.

Again, the Cult of St. Barack was vested in maintaining a lie.

Anyone feeling betrayed that a politician they voted for to get US troops out of Iraq is sending more back in should be aware that Barack spoke of this while running for office but the media and his knob polishers refused to cover his remarks.

Here's one of the relevant sections of that interview with Barack (again, it was asked, it was answered, it just didn't make it into the article the paper published online and in print):

Q. In your plan presented in September, you mentioned if there was widespread sectarian killing, you said you would reserve the right to send American forces back into Iraq as part of an international effort to stem the sectarian killings and to protect the population. So there are some circumstances that even after the pullout of combat forces, you would envision a population security mission. Would you be prepared to do this unilaterally? How bad would it have to be before you would contemplate going back into Iraq?

A. I don’t think this is something that you can perfectly calibrate. You have to look at the situation on the ground. As I’ve already noted, I believe that there will be a spike in violence as we make a transition. Keep in mind that I think that there’s going to be more violence over the long haul by us not changing the course, so I’m weighing – again – bad options.
It is conceivable that there comes a point where things descend into the mayhem that shocks the conscience and we say to ourselves, this is not acceptable, anymore that what happened in Darfur is not acceptable. At that point, my strong, strong preference would be to work in concert with the international community. Now I think there are some things that we can do to prevent some of that, that are non-military. I think it’s important, and I mentioned this in the speech in September, for us to start setting up an international commission that is tracking some of the activities that are going on in Iraq and allow for the perpetrators of mass violence to be held accountable.  

Senator Barbara Boxer embarrassed herself on national television today.  Appearing on Andrea Mitchell Reports (MSNBC -- link is video), Boxer made it clear she didn't need to hear Barack speak because she was already going to do whatever he wanted.  As I noted yesterday, the elderly fool always goes jingoistic when a Democrat is in the White House and what a huge embarrassment she was prattling on about "our commander in chief."  Does the idiot Boxer believe she's now in the military?

Civilian control over the military is a hallmark of US democracy.  Barack Obama is commander in chief of the military.  If you're in the military, he's your commander in chief.  There is no commander in chief over the United States.  What a whorish thing to do, Barbara Boxer, as the US sees democracy erode daily, you feel the need to act as if we're now a junta?  Shame on you.

She offered up, "And Maliki never reached out to the Sunnis, it left an opening for these extremists."  How do US boots on the ground fix Nouri al-Maliki's problems?

Appearing on The Lead with Jake Tapper (CNN -- no video of this is up at the site right now), Senator Saxby Chambliss noted there are no definitions to the mission Barack is proposing.

It's an important point.  I don't support Barack sending troops in, Chambliss does. We can agree that the mission needs to be clearly defined.

What is success?

How it will it be measured?

What would warrant even more troops being sent in?  What would result in US troops leaving?

None of this is defined.

A speech consisting of 946 words and nothing is clearly defined.

Whether you support or oppose the move, whether you support or oppose Barack, it needs to be defined.  If it's not defined, and Barack is your favorite president of all time, there's a good chance this mission will do huge damage to his reputation and his legacy.  It is in everyone's interest -- including the Iraqi people -- for Barack to clearly define this mission, its goals and the measurements for success or failure.

Barack insisted in his speech that there would be no "mission creep" -- well he was insisting that in 2007 to the New York Times -- check the transcript.

The Iraq War?  An illegal war.

Few officials in the US will speak that truth.

Many, however, will argue tactics and claim it was a poorly planned war.

Where are those people right now?

Where are the people demanding that before Barack sends another US troop into Iraq, he clearly and publicly define what the mission is, what the perimeters are and what the goals are?

Let's do a quick sidebar.  We noted  Tom Hayden this week and how he lied in a column and ridiculed those who pointed out that the US military remained in Iraq.

Little Tommy had a hissy fit offline about that.  Guess what?  I don't give a damn.

But all those names he's called me, he needs to now start calling Barack those names as well.

Or did Tom Hayden miss Barack declaring today:

We have had advisers in Iraq through our embassy and we are prepared to send a small number of additional American military advisers -- up to 300 -- to assess how we can best train, advise and support Iraqi security forces going forward. 

Oops.  Sad times for Tommy.

Jake Tapper (again, no video has yet posted) spoke with retired General Anthony Zinni this afternoon and wanted to know about the risks for the US troops being sent in.  "Well, it depends upon which level they're advising," Zinni noted.  And, Tapper wanted to know, "How dangerous could this be for those 300 troops?"  Zinni replied, "Well, depening upon where you are . . ."

Zinni was brought on to offer commentary after Barack had spoken.  Over an hour after Barack had spoken.

And even the general could not figure out the basics involved.

This mission is not being defined, it's pretty words and bromides.  It's nothing concrete.

Francis A. Boyle is an attorney and a professor  at the University of Illinois College of Law. His books include Foundations of World Order (Duke University Press: 1999) and Tackling America’s Toughest Questions (2009).   His most recent book is United Ireland, Human Rights and International Law.  He notes of Barack's announcement:

This could escalate in any number of ways -- exactly what the War Powers Resolution was supposed to stop. It's not legitimate for the president -- or members of Congress -- to make arrangements that violate the Constitution and the War Powers Resolution. Obama just stated that the 300 U.S. troops would be doing training, but CNN reports his spokesperson Jay Carney stated they would also 'provide airfield management security and logistic support.' Does this mean that they will become the required forward air controllers for the targeted and precise military action that Obama says he is preparing? If the U.S. is going to target ISIS, will it be limited to Iraq or will it eventually go into Syria?

Those questions and so many more were not answered by today's speech.

Margaret Talev (Bloomberg News) observes, "Obama declined to say whether the U.S. continues to have confidence in Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, who the administration blames for inflaming sectarian divisions in OPEC’s second-largest oil producer."

Martin Chulov and Spencer Ackerman (Guardian) report:

A spokesman for the Iraqi prime minister, Nouri al-Maliki, has said he will not stand down as a condition of US air strikes against Sunni militants who have made a lightning advance across the country.
Iraq's foreign minister, Hoshyar Zebari, on Wednesday made a public call on al-Arabiya television for the US to launch strikes but Barack Obama has come under pressure from senior US politicians to persuade Maliki, a Shia Muslim who has pursued sectarian policies, to step down over what they see as failed leadership in the face of an insurgency.

Nouri has to go for the violence, yes.  He also has to go because he's dishonest.  He has broken every oath he's taken, every promise he's made.  And this is who the US government wants to do business with?

On CNN's Crossfire this evening, US House Rep Loretta Sanchez declared, "Maliki really did not take the opening, the space that we made for him. [. . .]  He created the dilemma that we now find ourselves in."

I agree with Loretta but I ask how do 300 or so 'advisors' change that?

Last week, Barack insisted changes would need to be seen, changes on the part of Nouri.  He's changed nothing.  But he's getting what he wanted, isn't he?

How does today's announcement from Barack address what Alissa J. Rubin and Rod Nordland (New York Times) reported earlier this week:

The bodies of 44 Sunni prisoners were found in a government-controlled police station in Baquba, about 40 miles north of Baghdad. They had all been shot Monday night in the head or chest. Then the remains of four young men who had been shot were found dumped Tuesday on a street in a Baghdad neighborhood controlled by Shiite militiamen.
By evening, it was Shiites who were the victims again, as a suicide bombing in a crowded market in Sadr City killed at least 14 people, local hospital officials said.

The editorial board of The Nation magazine insisted yesterday that no US troops should go to Iraq.  We'll note this from the editorial:

But American military involvement in the latest eruption in Iraq, reportedly under consideration by President Obama, would be the wrong response to that suffering, morally and strategically. Even if limited to airstrikes, whether from F-16s, cruise missiles or drones, military action by Washington would almost certainly kill civilians, especially since ISIS is concentrated in heavily populated cities. Worse, such action would inflame, not ease, Iraq’s sectarian divisions, allying Washington more closely with Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki’s monumentally corrupt and sectarian regime and against a seething Sunni population, and would send recruits streaming into ISIS’s camp.
President Obama has hinted that he’ll make any US military support conditional on a change in Maliki’s sectarian style of governance. Since taking office, Maliki has excluded Sunnis from power—dismantling the Sunni tribal militia of the Anbar Awakening, accusing leading Sunni politicians of “terrorism,” creating security and intelligence machinery that reports only to him, and installing pet generals throughout an army so corrupt and incompetent that it simply fled at the start of the ISIS offensive. But if the United States couldn’t persuade Maliki to change his spots when it had some 150,000 troops in-country and advisers in every ministry, it certainly can’t do so long-distance. Despite eight years of blood and treasure lost in the Iraqi quagmire after 2003, the United States has precious little leverage left.

It be nice if, for example, The Nation had the spine to call out Nouri's War Crimes.  However, they're the only ones standing upright.  The Progressive is silent (remember, Iraq never touched Ruth Conniff's gated community as she shared on KPFA in the final years of Bully Boy Bush occupying the White House).  Joshua Rosenblat has the sole piece on Iraq at In These Times which does nothing but summarize what Barack said (and quote what Barack said) -- an opinion journal to scared to have an opinion?

No wonder Joel's struggling so much to raise money to keep In These Times afloat. (The merger with the Center for Media and Democracy is what temporarily saved The Progressive -- if that move hadn't been made, The Progressive would have stopped publishing by the end of the year.  They're begging money right now and not being honest about how dire the situation is -- how dire it still is.)

Sidebar: We're not interested in Amy Goodman's garbage.  The Goody Whore pimped Shi'ites on her show and we ignored those segments.  Now she's spun together a column pretending to inform but really just whoring for Shi'ite Iraq.  Strange, isn't it, Mohammed Al Dulaimy went on to discuss reality and he's not included in her column.  But the Shi'ites, they're experts.  We're not interested in the Goody Whore.

There are legal implications in what is taking place.  Barack's claiming -- as Elaine noted in "Barack wants his renewed war on Iraq" and Mike noted in "Iraq" -- that he doesn't need Congressional authorization for what he's doing.  Marjorie Cohn takes on that notion and she's right to do so and I wish her all the luck with it.  At another time, we'd make it a whole snapshot but there's just too much to cover these days.  We'll instead note this from Marjorie's Truthout piece:

The US-led invasion of Iraq helped install Nuri Kamal al-Maliki, a Shiite Muslim, as prime minister. But instead of uniting the different religious groups after the US troops left two and a half years ago, the al-Maliki government viciously cracked down on its opponents. Torture, rape and arbitrary, mass arrests of Sunnis were common. Protestors were murdered, their leaders assassinated. What began as a peaceful opposition movement during the "Iraqi Spring" turned violent in response to al-Maliki's repression. Many of those nonviolent protestors have joined ISIS.

Chelsea J. Carter, Laura Smith-Spark and Elise Labot (CNN) report:

There's a heavy police and military presence on the streets of the Iraqi capital and at checkpoints that sometimes appear to pop up overnight.
Nowhere is the sense of fear more palpable than at Baghdad International Airport, where hundreds and hundreds of people wait in long security and check-in lines for one of the few, precious seats available on flights out of Iraq.

What might also cause alarm?

The death toll.

Through yesterday, Iraq Body Count counts 2,731 violent deaths in Iraq so far this month.

That makes June 2014 the most violent month in Iraq since May 2007 when the month's total deaths reached 2834.

Wednesday night on The NewsHour (PBS -- link is text, audio and video), Judy Woodruff moderated a discussion between Senator Tim Kaine and Senator John McCain.  We'll note this:

JUDY WOODRUFF: Should the U.S. be providing military — more military assistance to Iraq right now?

SEN. TIM KAINE: Judy, the question is a little bit premature, because what we really need — and there is a process — the way this is supposed to work is the president will come to us and lay out what he thinks is the preferred option.
And then, after consulting with Congress, we will go forward. I expect that he will do that soon. He’s already been in significant consultation, not only with leadership, but with others like me, but when he does come, there’s going to be some hard questions.
Maliki — we had the opportunity. The U.S. wanted the stay in Iraq and Maliki basically kicked us out. He didn’t want us to stay. Then he ignored all the advice that we and others gave him about how to govern Iraq, to try to do it in a way that brought Kurds and Sunnis and Shias together. Instead, he’s run Iraq for Shias and marginalized, even oppressing Sunni and Kurds.
And so this extremism, the Sunni extremism, has been a predictable consequence of that, in my view. They’re horrible people doing horrible things, but he’s given them an opening by governing in such an autocratic way.
So, if it’s just a matter of, do we come in now to back up Maliki with military force after he kicked us out and after he’s governed the wrong way, that would be foolish. What we should be first talking about is, are there reforms that the Iraqis are willing to make to try to demonstrate to all in the country that they are all going to be treated equally?
Those kind of reforms really are the things that have to happen before we decide what kind of assistance we should provide.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, you have had raised a couple of things. And let me just pick them one by one.
In terms of the reforms, Prime Minister Maliki says he has reached out, for example, to Sunnis. He’s brought them — he’s given them a role in his government. He says, in essence, that it’s just wrong to say that he has not reached out.

SEN. TIM KAINE: Virtually every objective account that we have heard from Iraq experts here, not only folks connected with the administration, State Department, DOD, but NGOs and others, suggest just the contrary, that he has ignored that advice and that he has run this government for Shias with the strong support of the Shia-based government in Iran, and he has done it in a way that has marginalized Sunnis and marginalized Kurds.
And that’s why they’re not coming to his aid right now.

We'll note McCain now publicly favors "boots on the ground" but we're not interested in his comments.  Not because he's a Republican but because Kaine came close to something, circled around it -- like Cher with a note she never quite hits -- but never got to it.  We'll cover it in Friday's snapshot.  We are by no means done with this topic.

We'll close with the full speech Barack gave today on Iraq:

Remarks by the President on the Situation in Iraq

James S. Brady Press Briefing Room

1:32 P.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT:  Good afternoon, everybody.  I just met with my national security team to discuss the situation in Iraq.  We’ve been meeting regularly to review the situation since ISIL, a terrorist organization that operates in Iraq and Syria, made advances inside of Iraq.  As I said last week, ISIL poses a threat to the Iraqi people, to the region, and to U.S. interests.  So today I wanted to provide you an update on how we’re responding to the situation.
First, we are working to secure our embassy and personnel operating inside of Iraq.  As President, I have no greater priority than the safety of our men and women serving overseas.  So I’ve taken some steps to relocate some of our embassy personnel, and we’ve sent reinforcements to better secure our facilities.
Second, at my direction, we have significantly increased our intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance assets so that we’ve got a better picture of what’s taking place inside of Iraq.  And this will give us a greater understanding of what ISIL is doing, where it’s located, and how we might support efforts to counter this threat. 
Third, the United States will continue to increase our support to Iraqi security forces.  We’re prepared to create joint operation centers in Baghdad and northern Iraq to share intelligence and coordinate planning to confront the terrorist threat of ISIL.  Through our new Counterterrorism Partnership Fund, we’re prepared to work with Congress to provide additional equipment.  We have had advisors in Iraq through our embassy, and we’re prepared to send a small number of additional American military advisors -- up to 300 -- to assess how we can best train, advise, and support Iraqi security forces going forward.
American forces will not be returning to combat in Iraq, but we will help Iraqis as they take the fight to terrorists who threaten the Iraqi people, the region, and American interests as well.
Fourth, in recent days, we’ve positioned additional U.S. military assets in the region.  Because of our increased intelligence resources, we’re developing more information about potential targets associated with ISIL.  And going forward, we will be prepared to take targeted and precise military action, if and when we determine that the situation on the ground requires it.  If we do, I will consult closely with Congress and leaders in Iraq and in the region.
I want to emphasize, though, that the best and most effective response to a threat like ISIL will ultimately involve partnerships where local forces, like Iraqis, take the lead. 
Finally, the United States will lead a diplomatic effort to work with Iraqi leaders and the countries in the region to support stability in Iraq.  At my direction, Secretary Kerry will depart this weekend for meetings in the Middle East and Europe, where he’ll be able to consult with our allies and partners.  And just as all Iraq’s neighbors must respect Iraq’s territorial integrity, all of Iraq’s neighbors have a vital interest in ensuring that Iraq does not descend into civil war or become a safe haven for terrorists.
Above all, Iraqi leaders must rise above their differences and come together around a political plan for Iraq’s future.  Shia, Sunni, Kurds -- all Iraqis -- must have confidence that they can advance their interests and aspirations through the political process rather than through violence.  National unity meetings have to go forward to build consensus across Iraq’s different communities.  Now that the results of Iraq’s recent election has been certified, a new parliament should convene as soon as possible.  The formation of a new government will be an opportunity to begin a genuine dialogue and forge a government that represents the legitimate interests of all Iraqis.
Now, it’s not the place for the United States to choose Iraq’s leaders.  It is clear, though, that only leaders that can govern with an inclusive agenda are going to be able to truly bring the Iraqi people together and help them through this crisis.  Meanwhile, the United States will not pursue military options that support one sect inside of Iraq at the expense of another.  There’s no military solution inside of Iraq, certainly not one that is led by the United States.  But there is an urgent need for an inclusive political process, a more capable Iraqi security force, and counterterrorism efforts that deny groups like ISIL a safe haven.
In closing, recent days have reminded us of the deep scars left by America’s war in Iraq.  Alongside the loss of nearly 4,500 American patriots, many veterans carry the wounds of that war, and will for the rest of their lives.  Here at home, Iraq sparked vigorous debates and intense emotions in the past, and we’ve seen some of those debates resurface. 
But what’s clear from the last decade is the need for the United States to ask hard questions before we take action abroad, particularly military action.  The most important question we should all be asking, the issue that we have to keep front and center -- the issue that I keep front and center -- is what is in the national security interests of the United States of America.  As Commander-in-Chief, that’s what I stay focused on.  As Americans, that’s what all of us should be focused on. 
And going forward, we will continue to consult closely with Congress.  We will keep the American people informed.  We will remain vigilant.  And we will continue to do everything in our power to protect the security of the United States and the safety of the American people. 
So with that, I’m going to take a couple of questions. 

We'll note questions tomorrow, we've gone way too long as it is.