Monday, September 29, 2014

Iraq snapshot

Monday, September 29, 2014.  Chaos and violence continue, Barack's 'plan' loses its shock value, the Islamic State is said to be closer to Baghdad, Barack pleads intel failure, and much more.

Who was it that claimed Barack Obama played three dimensional chess?

Whomever started that lie should step forward and take accountability for that outlandish claim.

Iraq?  His 'plan' is falling apart for anyone who wants to pay attention.

Lizzie Dearden (Irish Indpendent) reports:

According to the Foundation for Relief and Reconciliation in the Middle East, Isil was approaching the Iraqi capital yesterday morning.
"The Islamic State are now less than 2km away from entering Baghdad," a spokesperson said.
"They said it could never happen and now it almost has. President Obama says he overestimated what the Iraqi Army could do. Well you only need to be here a very short while to know they can do very very little."

B-b-b-ut the plan!  The plan to bomb from the air!  That plan was foolproof, right?

Wrong.  We noted it would become normalized and it has.

The effectiveness would never last for weeks.  It only had an element of surprise for so long.

Kristina Wong (The Hill) reports:

Islamic State in Iraq and Syria militants are adjusting to U.S. airstrikes, making it more difficult to target them, an Air Force general said Monday.
ISIS fighters in Iraq and Syria had previously traveled in columns of vehicles with flags, Air Force Maj. Gen. Jeffrey Harrigian, Air Force assistant deputy chief of staff for operations, plans and requirements, told reporters at a briefing Monday.
"They are now dispersing themselves to allow themselves situations to be more survivable, if you will, which requires us to work harder to locate them, and then develop the situation to appropriately target them," Harrigian said.

If only that could have been anticipated, if . . .

Wait.  We did anticipate it and we noted it here.

Is the US intelligence community really that stupid or is the person receiving the intel in daily briefings that struggles with comprehension?

Dearden noted that Barack admitted to faulty intel.

Wow.  So Barack might have overestimated the Iraqi military?

The Shi'ite militia is part of the Iraqi forces -- remains part.  Nouri brought them in -- Tim Arango broke that story in the fall of 2013.

There's been no effort by the new prime minister to address that even though these militias are seen as death squads -- by Sunnis, yes, but also by other Shi'ites.

Did Barack miss that fact in an briefing as well?

Realities like this matter.

They matter in terms of what any campaign or plan can accomplish, yes.

Ir matters for safety reasons, it also matters for financial reasons.  Kate Brannen (Foreign Policy) was noting last week that "$7 million to $10 million a day" was being spent by the Pentagon on Barack's 'plan' and that the figure was likely to rise and increase the Defense Dept's 2015 fiscal budget.  And, as Paul D. Shinkman (US News and World Reports) explains, Operation No Name still has no name and the Pentagon gets a bit testy when asked about that fact.

When asked about facts, Barack Obama just gets confused.

On Sunday's 60 Minutes, US President Barack Obama repeatedly demonstrated how little he understood of Iraq.  We focused on this section of the interview:

President Barack Obama: Well, I think our head of the intelligence community, Jim Clapper, has acknowledged that I think they underestimated what had been taking place in Syria. Essentially, what happened with ISIL was that you had al Qaeda in Iraq, which was a vicious group, but our Marines were able to quash with the help of Sunni tribes. They went back underground. But over the past couple of years, during the chaos of the Syrian civil war, where essentially you have huge swathes of the country that are completely ungoverned, they were able to reconstitute themselves and take advantage of that chaos, and attract foreign fighters who believed in their jihadist nonsense, and traveled everywhere from Europe to the United States to Australia to other parts of the Muslim world, converging on Syria. And so this became ground zero for jihadists around the world. And they have been very savvy in terms of their social media. In some cases, you have old remnants of Saddam Hussein's military that had been expunged from the Iraqi military, which gave them some traditional military capacity, and not just terrorist capacity. And this is one of the challenges that we are going to have generally, is where you have got states that are failing or in the midst of civil war, these kinds of organizations thrive. That is why it's so important for us to recognize part of our solution here is going to be military. We just have to push them back and shrink their space and go after their command-and-control and their capacity and their weapons and their fueling, and cut off their financing, and work to eliminate the flow of foreign fighters. But what we also have to do is, we have to come up with political solutions in Iraq and Syria in particular, but in the Middle East generally, that arrives at an accommodation between Sunni and Shia populations that right now are the biggest cause of conflict, not just in the Middle East, but in the world.

In terms of facts, that's incorrect for a number of reasons including the Marines did not quash 'al Qaeda in Iraq.'

Sahwa/Awakenings/Sons Of Iraq and Daughters Of Iraq turned the tide and did so because they were paid to.  

Let's drop back to the April 8, 2008 snapshot.  And let's remember Barack had only been serving for three years as a US Senator at the time and had spent the previous year and 2008 campaigning so he missed a lot of hearings and the ones he showed up for in April of 2008?  He was late to them.  People like John Kerry and Joe Biden babied him, babied his little candy ass, let him show up late and immediately, even though it wasn't his turn and rules on seniority required he wait his term, would let him jump ahead of everyone so he could stumble through his questions -- with more unnatural pauses than Sandy Dennis managed in her entire acting career -- and then Barack would rush out of the hearing.  So he missed a lot, a whole lot.

From the April 8, 2008 snapshot:

Today The Petraeus & Crocker Variety Hour took their act on the road.  First stop, the Senate Armed Services Committee.  Gen David Petraeus and US Ambassador Ryan Crocker are supposed to be providing a status report on the Iraq War.  They didn't.  In fact, Petraeus made clear that the status report would come . . . next September.  When the results are this bad, you stall -- which is exactly what Petraeus did. 
The most dramatic moment came as committee chair Carl Levin was questioning Petraeus and a man in the gallery began exclaiming "Bring them home!" repeatedly.  (He did so at least 16 times before he was escored out).  The most hilarious moment was hearing Petraeus explain that it's tough in the school yard and America needs to fork over their lunch money in Iraq to avoid getting beat up.  In his opening remarks, Petraues explained of the "Awakening" Council (aka "Sons of Iraq," et al) that it was a good thing "there are now over 91,000 Sons of Iraq -- Shia as well as Sunni -- under contract to help Coalition and Iraqi Forces protect their neighborhoods and secure infrastructure and roads.  These volunteers have contributed significantly in various areas, and the savings in vehicles not lost because of reduced violence -- not to mention the priceless lives saved -- have far outweighed the cost of their monthly contracts."  Again, the US must fork over their lunch money, apparently, to avoid being beat up. 
How much lunch money is the US forking over?  Members of the "Awakening" Council are paid, by the US, a minimum of $300 a month (US dollars).  By Petraeus' figures that mean the US is paying $27,300,000 a month.  $27 million a month is going to the "Awakening" Councils who, Petraeus brags, have led to "savings in vehicles not lost".  Again, in this morning's hearings, the top commander in Iraq explained that the US strategy is forking over the lunch money to school yard bullies.  What a proud moment for the country.

 I'm being kind right now and leaving it at that but we can quote people from Barack's administration and reveal not only how stupid and incorrect Barack's remarks were but how lunatic his supposed 'plan' is.  We'll probably save that for later this week.

The White House had to announce that Barack's remarks about Clapper were not meant to imply that he no longer had faith in James I Lied To Congress Clapper.

Let's stay with Clapper and intel because they've received attention today.

On The NewsHour (PBS -- link is video, audio only option and transcript) , anchor Judy Woodrfuff spoke with Frederick Kagan, brother-in-law of the State Dept's Victoria Nuland, about Barack's remarks.  Excerpt.

JUDY WOODRUFF: And that is the other part of this I want to ask you about, because the president also said that the — he said the intelligence community overestimated the ability and the will of the Iraqi army to fight. What is your take on that?

FREDERICK KAGAN: Well, I think that there were a lot of warning signs about weaknesses in the Iraqi security forces that good analysts at the Institute for the Study of War had been tracking in 2013 and laying out.
And there was a lot of desertions. There was a large amnesty that Prime Minister Maliki granted in 2013 which were indicative of morale problems. I’m sure the intelligence community was aware of those. I’m sure that it was aware of the risks.
I think what Director Clapper was saying was that, from the standpoint of putting a really fine point on it and saying, well, at this moment, ISIS has the capability to do this and the Iraqi security forces will fold, that, they didn’t estimate. But I suspect that in terms of generally understanding the state of play, again, I would be very surprised if the intelligence community had really missed that fundamentally.

JUDY WOODRUFF: So when the president went on — and I looked — I was just looking at his interview with Steve Kroft of “60 Minutes.”  He said the U.S. left a democracy in Iraq that was intact. He said a well-equipped military with the ability to chart their own course. But he said it was squandered.
And we have heard this argument before from the administration, their belief, their view and the view of many that all this was squandered by the former Prime Minister Maliki.

FREDERICK KAGAN: Well, I think the situation that we left behind in 2011 was squandered. I think it was squandered by Maliki and I think it was squandered by President Obama.
I think that the failure to maintain any kind of U.S. military support for the Iraqis was critical. Among other things, it’s misleading to say that the Iraqi army was actually properly equipped. It wasn’t. It hadn’t been designed to stand on its own. It hadn’t — it had no air support of its own. It had no ability to police its own airspace.
It had a variety of lax in intelligence surveillance and reconnaissance that everyone had expected that the U.S. would continue to provide. So when we pulled out in 2011, it wasn’t just about pulling out our ground forces. It was about withdrawing from the Iraqi security forces enablers that they had thought they would continue to have and leaving them in a bad condition to deal with the fight that they faced.

Prime Minister Maliki is Nouri al-Maliki.  In 2006, the Bully Boy Bush White House insisted Nouri be made prime minister.  In 2010, Barack's White House insisted Nouri get a second term.  Tyrant Nouri had US backing until roughly late May of this year.

Kagan is also the husband of Kim Kagan, historian and head of the War Hawk foundation The Institute for the Study of War.  Jonah Goldberg is also on the right-wing.  In his Los Angeles Times column, he notes:

"That's true. That's absolutely true," Obama replied. "Jim Clapper has acknowledged that I think they underestimated what had been taking place in Syria."

Eli Lake of the Daily Beast contacted a "former senior Pentagon official who worked closely on the threat posed by Sunni jihadists in Syria and Iraq," who was, in Lake's words, "flabbergasted" by the president's remarks. "Either the president doesn't read the intelligence he's getting or he's bulls—ing," the official said.

How does Barack repeatedly skirt accountability?

Blame it on lazy and useless press.

State Dept spokesperson Jen Psaki gave a press briefing this afternoon, the first one the State Dept's done since September 19th.  Yes, we're referring to the 'daily' press breifing.  Despite it having been 10 days since the last press briefing, Iraq did not weigh heavy in the briefing.

Oh, so it was only the subject of three or four questions but surely --


It wasn't a minor issue in the press briefing, it was not an issue.  There were no questions specifically about Iraq.

Barack's 'plan' is falling apart but the useless and cowardly and cowed press had nothing to say.  They all asked their usual crap ass questions that mean nothing and that go nowhere and pretended they did their job.  They didn't do a damn thing.  I've called Jen and spokesperson Marie Harf for these briefings before.  Let's be really clear that the blame for today rests solely with the US press.

There is so much to ask about.  Or there should be.

Patrick Cockburn (Independent) notes today:

 The selection of a new Prime Minister, Haider al-Abadi, to replace Nouri al-Maliki last month was supposed to introduce a more conciliatory government that would appeal to Iraq’s Sunni minority from which Isis draws its support.
Mr Abadi promised to end the random bombardment of Sunni civilians, but Fallujah has been shelled for six out of seven days, with 28 killed and 117 injured. Despite the military crisis, the government has still not been able to gets its choice for the two top security jobs, the Defence Minister and Interior Minister, through parliament.

Yeah, it takes him awhile to get there.  We've been there for weeks now but at least he noted it, right? (We'll come back to that.)

National Iraqi News Agency reports Sunday's continued bombing of residential neighborhoods in Falluja left 4 civilians dead and fifteen more injured.

Yes, new Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi ordered an end to these bombings three weeks ago.

No, these bombings have not ceased.

Yes, this is part of the reason his image has fallen so quickly.

Tomorrow, if Arabic social media efforts pan out, will see a protest in Baghdad against the new prime minister.

At Al Arabiya, Dr. Naser al-Tamimi notes the various political failures taking place:

It seems that the United States has limited the political reform to the issue of replacing the Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, with some small concessions to the Sunni politicians whose political influence is confined within the Green Zone only. To make matters worse, with the floundering Iraqi army and its weak performance, the influence of these militias has begun to grow and affect all vital organs of the Iraqi state. Even more worrying, the rule of the militias will be further enhanced as it will take time for the Iraqi government to organize the army, consequently exacerbate the fears of the Sunni Arabs more than ever.

Where are the accomplishments on the diplomatic side?

They don't exist.

Despite Barack insisting Iraq needs a political solution, the White House has poured their time and energy into military actions and military campaigns and they have nothing to show to demonstrate that a new prime minister meant a new Iraq, one for all Iraqis.

We've been noting that repeatedly.  I'll be nice and even say "applause for Patrick Cockburn for noting it today."

Patrick's trying to join the grown ups table and lest anyone make the mistake that I offered him an empty seat next to me, I didn't.  Patrick's Sunni bias is well documented and established.  I don't care for Patrick.  Tariq Ali is an old friend.  He's attempting a rescue on Patrick's image.  Tariq's fought many battles over the years, I can't recall one as futile.  But for laughs, click here, read Tariq attempting to lead Patrick down the road of rehabilitation.

He never can get it right, can he?

Not even with Tariq spoon feeding him throughout the interview.

The underpinning for the protests that kicked off in December 2012 which lasted over a year?  That was what was happening to women and girls in Iraqi prisons.

You'll note Cockburn avoids that topic.

While Patrick Cockburn stumbles blindly down the hall Norman Pollack (CounterPunch) captures the world we live in today:

America has become unrecognizable, World Conquest in the air we breathe, a POTUS Caligula-like who feigns the persona of Mother Theresa, utterly corrupt in his professions of peace as he rolls out what has become shock-and-awe demonstrations to which the world, under duress, is becoming accustomed. Nothing out of bounds: Tomahawk missiles from offshore, waves of airstrikes, business as usual. Not a drop of hesitation, as lawyers dust off 9/11-era authorization for what is proving a never-ending onslaught, today, terrorists, tomorrow, Russia, the next day, China, then perhaps day after, dissidents, such that remain, in America itself, a rapacious, devouring, demiurge of insatiable conquest-at-any-cost.
Would ISIS even exist, had not the US sought to control the Middle East ever since the deposition of Mossadegh in Iran, the military build-up and defense of Israel, the American military bases throughout the region, the invasion of Iraq (fill in the in-between blanks, and carry forward to today)? America has not learned that repression breeds resistance, that counterrevolution establishes interconnections among the oppressed, that occupations and spheres-of-influence cannot (thank goodness) be made permanent. In every sense of the word, the US has CREATED what it now calls terrorism, the fruit of unwanted intervention, power politics, installing regimes which do our bidding.

More truth tellers are needed but that's true in any time period.

We're a left site.  For those bothered that Pollack is the only left voice quoted -- while right wing Goldberg and Kagan also got quoted -- take it up with someone else.

I can't put words in the mouths of those who choose to be silent.

My side, the left, includes a lot of pathetic cowards who can't find their voice because there's a Democrat in the White House.

If you want to make a difference, look at the left outlets and notice who is staying silent (or the hacks like David Corn who are whoring for this ongoing war now that Barack's in charge of it).  Take notice and remember.  At some point, a Republican will be in the White House again.

When that happens, these cowards will suddenly find spines and they'll want to beg for money -- because none of them can get real jobs.  When they beg, don't give them a cent.

Remember how they were cowards or whores.

Don't support that.

Let them starve or find real jobs.

While our brave 'left' leaders can't speak a new poll shares what the US military is thinking.   Andrew Tilghman, Gina Harkins, David Larter, Stephen Losey, Hope Hodge Seck, Michelle Tan and Jeff Schogol (Military Times) report on their poll of service members:

On the surface, troops appear to support President Obama’s repeated vows not to let the U.S. military get “dragged into another ground war” in Iraq. Yet at the same time, the views of many service members are shaped by a deep ambivalence about this commander in chief and questions about his ability to lead the nation through a major war, according to the survey and interviews.
The reader survey asked more than 2,200 active-duty troops this question: “In your opinion, do you think the U.S. military should send a substantial number of combat troops to Iraq to support the Iraqi security forces?” Slightly more than 70 percent responded: “No.”