In Friday's snapshot we noted US House Rep Tammy Duckworth was being denied the right to vote by proxy on Democratic leadership posts in the House of Representatives:
Tammy Duckworth is not only a member of Congress, she's also a veteran of the Iraq War. Nancy Pelosi chose to 'honor' veterans this week by announcing that a veteran who lost both legs in combat would not be allowed to vote by proxy on the issue of who would hold what office -- for example, who would be the next Ranking Member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee.
Duckworth is at home in Illinois. Why doesn't she just fly to DC?
CBS News notes Duckworth "was told by doctor that it was unsafe for her to fly at this stage in her pregnancy."
Amanda Marcotte (Slate) notes today:
This is a sticky situation. Though the principle of fairness in doling out exceptions is compelling, as Nia-Malika Henderson of the Washington Post points out, Democrats "have framed themselves as the party of working women" and this "does put them in an awkward position," particularly as the Supreme Court will soon be hearing a case over whether or not UPS should have given one of its pregnant employees a temporary accommodation, moving her to light work duty during her pregnancy. Making matters worse, the denial of Duckworth's request might be political. Duckworth supports putting Rep. Frank Pallone on the Energy and Commerce Committee, but Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, who objected to Duckworth's request, is campaigning for Rep. Anna Eshoo to get the job instead.
Let's turn to the topic of Iraq. Alex Kingsbury usually broadcasts his stupidity on WBUR but today brought it to the Boston Globe:
The goals of the Iraq surge were spelled out explicitly by the White House in Jan. 2007: Stop the raging sectarian bloodletting and reconcile Sunnis, Shiites, and Kurds in the government. “A successful strategy for Iraq goes beyond military operations,” then-President George W. Bush said.
I've never like little bitches in my life and Alex Kingsbury is nothing but a little bitch.
That would be American asses who blame the Iraqi people.
I'm sorry that Kingsbury thinks it's acceptable to rewrite history and blame the Iraqi people.
First, the 'surge.' He condescendingly says later in the piece that the lie of a success of the 'surge' lets veterans fool themselves but we need to be honest.
Let's get honest.
The 'surge' had two parts. There was what the US military was tasked with. There was what the Iraqi government was tasked with.
People who served in Iraq as part of the US military surge are not fooling themselves or lying to themselves. They did the job they were tasked to do.
They did it very well.
I was -- and remain -- opposed to the 'surge.' That doesn't mean I have to lie about it. I'm not an unethical whore -- would that Kingsbury could make the same claim.
The US military did what it was supposed.
This does matter.
It's not academic.
It matters right now with what's going on and if Kingsbury can't be honest about it, he's not just a dirty whore, he's a dirty whore doing tremendous damage.
Currently US President Barack is doing a 'surge' in bombing campaigns from the air. These bombings are killing people -- and not just terrorists -- and they're destroying the country.
But Barack's justification is that these military efforts are supposed to take on and/or distract the Islamic State allowing the Iraqi government to work towards a political solution. Barack spent the summer insisting a political solution was the only answer.
Are you getting why it matters yet?
I don't doubt for one moment that the US military is capable of carrying out every order they're given.
They did it during Bully Boy Bush's 'surge' and they're doing it during Barack's 'surge.
The Iraqi part of the 'surge' did not work under Bully Boy Bush and it doesn't appear to be working under Barack. Under Barack, a ton of time and attention is being focused on the military aspect and meeting with 30 defense ministers here and there and sending the State Dept's Brett McGurk to meet with defense officials in Jordan and other countries.
But Brett's State Dept and he -- and other State Dept officials -- should be working on the ground, as diplomats, to attempt to help Iraqi politicians come together and arrive at a political solution.
There's a degree of blame that can be placed on Bully Boy Bush re the Iraqi part of the surge.
In 2006, the White House opposed Ibrahim al-Jaffari getting a second term. He was the choice of the Iraqi Parliament. But the White House had a number of reasons for which to oppose al-Jaffari (were any of them good? that's another discussion but I'd say overall: No, none of them were good reasons). The White House insisted upon Nouri al-Maliki. US officials went to him, prepped him for it and then insisted he be named prime minister.
2007 is when Nouri agrees to the benchmarks to continue funding -- US tax dollars -- pour into Iraq.
These benchmarks should have been accomplished before the start of 2008.
The White House was afraid the Congress might cut off funding and they proposed the benchmarks to measure success. These were not complex benchmarks.
But Nouri couldn't pull it off in 2007.
So the White House (and a whorish press) sought to act as if a law not being passed didn't signify failure if a law had been proposed (but never voted on or voted down). So there was 'partial' grading by sad little outlets like McClatchy Newspapers.
In 2008, Nouri couldn't pull off the benchmarks.
Barack becomes president in January 2009 (he's sworn in) and throughout 2009 Nouri's still unable to get the benchmarks passed -- back in 2007, he agreed he would get them passed. He failed.
In 2010, still not passed.
And, in 2010 -- pay attention, this is one main reason we don't blame the Iraqi people -- the country had parliamentary elections.
Ayad Allawi's Iraqiya bested incumbent Nouri al-Maliki's State of Law. This was amazing. You could refer to Deborah Amos report and study of the 2010 elections -- we've noted that repeatedly, we've quoted from it repeatedly. It documents, among other things, how Nouri manipulated the Iraqi military.
The most important thing about those elections was what it said about the Iraqi people.
In the 2009 provincial elections, you could see in the votes a move towards a national identity.
With more voters rejecting Nouri's sectarian ways and embracing the inclusive Iraqiya, the 2010 vote was so important.
And it wasn't a tiny victory, it was a huge victory for the Iraqi people.
But Barack Obama decided to stick with Nouri.
He had US officials broker The Erbil Agreement, a legal contract that went around the Iraqi Constitution and, most importantly, the will of the Iraqi people and gave Nouri a second term.
Don't you dare blame the Iraqi people for what happened from 2010 to 2014 when they went to the polls and voted for change but Barack Obama decided they'd get a second term of Nouri instead.
That's not minor.
And that's not on them.
So stop insulting the Iraqi people.
And stop insulting the Iraqi politicians for that time period as well.
The Erbil Agreement? A legal contract that political leaders signed off on only after Nouri refused to step down for 8 months following the elction (he had the support of the US government). They agreed because they wanted the government to move forward (it was at a standstill). But that contract said, "We give Nouri a second term, we get . . ." And each political bloc had wants and needs.
But Nouri used it to get his second term and then refused to honor The Erbil Agreement.
He took what he wanted, a second term, but refused to honor the promises he made.
By the summer of 2011, he was being called out for refusing to implement the contract -- called out by the Kurds, by Iraqiya and by Shi'ite cleric and movement leader Moqtada al-Sadr.
By April 2012, they were tired of waiting, they were tired of asking. With Shi'ite leader (of the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq) Ammar al-Hakim and many others, they met and discussed a vote in Parliament of no-confidence. They gathered signatures on a petition -- per the Iraqi Constitution. They were then to hand it over to the President of Iraq who would officially present it to the Parliament.
Throughout the gathering of signatures, Moqtada repeatedly stated Nouri could end the process at any point by implementing The Erbil Agreement.
During all of this the US government played dumb. Pretended they didn't broker The Erbil Agreement, pretended they didn't swear this was a legal binding contract with the full backing of the White House, pretended Barack didn't personally call Ayad Allawi after Allawi walked out of Parliament in November 2010 when he (rightly) suspected Nouri was never going to implement The Erbil Agreement.
Now things got even worse.
US Vice President Joe Biden used all his persuasion and pressure on Jalal Talabani, President of Iraq, to get the vote killed.
Jalal announced that some people who signed now said they wouldn't sign if the petition was circulated now.
That's not how it works. You don't get to retract your signature. You're not forced to vote no-confidence because you signed the petition, but you're not able to remove your name.
Nor was Jalal legally able to allow people to remove their names. Nor was he supposed to 'vet' the signatures.
He had a purely ceremonial role: Present it to Parliament.
But Jalal did the White House's bidding.
He immediately then left Iraq, lying that he had a health emergency and needed immediate surgery.
Turned out, he went to Germany for knee surgery -- elective surgery.
Jalal's was karmically punished for his lie a year later when he suffered a stroke that would keep him in Germany and out of the country for nearly 18 months.
Few things enrage me more than hearing someone say "those people just want to kill each other" or "they don't want peace."
When have "those people" (Iraqis) been able to determine the outcome of their lives?
First, the US government (under Bully Boy Bush) imposed Nouri al-Maliki -- a tyrant -- on them in 2006 and then the US government (under Barack Obama) demanded Nouri get a second term in 2010 -- this long after Ned Parker (then with the Los Angeles Times, now with Reuters) had documented Nouri's use of torture chambers and secret prisons.
Don't blame the Iraqi people. Don't even blame the Iraqi politicians since more than enough were willing to sign on for a no-confidence vote.
"Those people"? "Those people" responsible are Bully Boy Bush and Barack Obama.
Don't trash the Iraqi people.
You don't look smart.
You don't look enlightened.
You look like a small-minded idiot.
Bully Boy Bush installed a tyrant and did so largely because the CIA profile of Nouri noted his paranoia and it was thought he could be easily manipulated as a result. Four years later, Barack kept him because people like Samantha Power insisted that Nouri was providing stability (whatever he provided, it was via terrorizing the Iraqi people) and that the US troop drawdown could take place if Nouri got a second term.
Never once, did either Bush or Barack make the needs, wants or desires of the Iraqi people the primary focus.
So don't start blaming people who were victimized by the US government.
And stop lying.
This is a lie.
What follows from the surge mythology is the idea that a few thousand residual US troops could have prevented Maliki from indulging in his worst sectarian impulses, or held off the ISIS rout.
It's a known lie to people who bothered to pay attention.
When did Nouri send the military to surround the homes of Sunni politicians in Iraq?
After the US drawdown was complete.
Liz Sly, among others, reported on it.
Where were you?
Oh, that's right, thumb up your ass and eyes closed.
US troops would absolutely have made a difference.
Nouri held off until they left.
And I say that as someone who believes -- even now -- all US troops should be out of Iraq.
But my belief in all US forces out now is not going to lead me to lie or whore or pretend.
I have integrity.
If John McCain, US Senator, had won the 2008 presidential election, he might have tried keeping US forces in Iraq throughout his first term (and his second if he'd had one). Based on his remarks, that is a possibility -- a strong one.
And, yes, things would be calmer.
And McCain spoke of a presence similar to what the US has in South Korea -- all these decades after the Korean War.
I don't pretend to be an expert on Korea.
But on Iraq?
All my classes come to bear here as well as personal experience.
Yes, US troops remaining in Iraq after the end of 2011 (in the thousands) would have led to less violence in Iraq.
But that wouldn't have solved anything.
Unless US troops were (or now "are") going to remain in Iraq for multiple decades to come to prop up the government.
The reason for the violence is the Iraqi people don't have a buy-in with the Iraqi government.
Most leaders were imposed by the US -- most were exiles who only returned after the US-led invasion.
A puppet government that worked old grudges didn't prompt a buy-in.
Barack has said a political solution is the only answer.
He's 100% right on that.
But he's not focusing US efforts on that.
Like Bully Boy Bush, he's more interested in responding to violence with force.
And the window of opportunity for change in Iraq continues to close.
There are lessons to learn from the 'surge' of Bully Boy Bush, lessons that apply today.
It's a damn shame that Alex Kingsbury can't find any.
Maybe he spent too much time working on his insults of Iraqis and veterans?
And one more thing, counter-insurgency didn't fail because of US service members, it failed for the reason it always fails -- it's war on a native people. In addition to everything else, it's trickery and deceit and there's nothing 'honorable' about that.
Before we move to violence, let's get a laugh in.
Today, US Secretary of State John Kerry declared that the Islamic State was neither "a state nor truly Islamic" -- did he follow it with "discuss"? John Kerry as Mike Meyers' Linda Richmond.
Let's move to today's violence. The United Nations News Centre reports:
A United Nations convoy of three vehicles proceeding from the Baghdad International Airport to the International Zone was hit with at least one explosion this morning, the Organization’s assistance mission in the country reported today.
According to a statement from the UN Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI), no UN personnel were killed or injured in the incident and all proceeded safely back to the UN Compound. One of the vehicles sustained serious damage.
“The unfortunate incident this morning will not deter the UN from continuing its work in support of Iraq and its people, who have lived with violence for too long,” UNAMI chief Nickolay Mladenov said.
Other violence in today's news cycle? Al Arabiya News reports:
Five members of an Iraqi family who refused to marry off their daughter to a fighter in the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) have been executed by the militant group in a “horrific crime,” Iraq’s Human Rights Ministry said over the weekend.
In a statement posted on its website Sunday, the ministry said ISIS militants executed the five family members – mother, father and three children – and then kidnapped the 14-year-old girl, taking her to an undisclosed location.
In some of today's other violence? NINA reports that the Islamic State hanged a police officer in the center of Falluja.
Hanging him in the center of Falluja was intended to send a message.
And this message comes at a time when the current Iraqi government, presided over by new Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi isn't working towards a political solution at all. Reuters notes there is no genuine effort to bring the Sunni tribe leaders in -- the group that made up Sahwa (Awakenings, Sons of Iraq, Daughters of Iraq). Reuters notes:
Iraq's robust official spin machine has certainly suggested the Shi'ite-led government and even its militia allies who have few friends among the Sunni tribesmen, are swinging into action.But there are few real signs of momentum needed to bury sectarian differences and create a united force to counter IS in Anbar, which it has engulfed steadily throughout 2014 to the point where senior U.S. military officials last month described the situation there as fraught.
Sabah Karhoot, provincial council chief of Anbar, home to the Albu Nimr, told Reuters there were still enough fighters to take on Islamic State but they needed effective weapons and ammunition from Baghdad.
Where is the White House?
What are they doing?
The Sunni tribe leaders were supposed to have been brought in back in August.
It still hasn't happened.
The World Tribune reports, "The State Department has endorsed two Iraqi military requests from the United States as it struggles to recover territory lost to ISIL. Officials said the requests, which amount to nearly $700 million, would include air weapons as well as spare parts for artillery and trucks."
That's called leverage.
You don't hand it over.
You don't agree to it.
You say, "You want this? You believe you need it? Well we need to see movements towards a political solution. Step one is you bring Sunnis into the process. Let's see some tribe leaders brought in. And why don't we revisit some of those issues that led Sunnis to protest non-stop for over a year -- despite being killed by Nouri's thugs."
That's what you do.
You don't hand over things and then say, "Okay, now I need you to do something for me."
They're the ones wanting. Extract concessions every step of the way.
Back to the violence, Alsumaria reports that a roadside bombing outside Samarra left 2 police officers dead and two more injured, a Saidiya roadside bombing left at least two people injured, an Aden roadside bombing left three people injured, two Baghdad car bombings left 5 people dead and twenty more injured, and Baghdad Operations Command announced that they rescued an 80-year-old man who had been kidnapped.
On the issue of kidnapping, Mohammed Shafiq (Alsumaria) reports Speaker of Parliament Salem al-Jubouri called today for the government to devise an emergency action plan to deal with the issue of kidnapping. al-Jubouri noted the terror the kidnappings have caused the Iraqi people and the vast amounts of money the kidnappers have been able to make.
Thursday, Gen Martin Dempsey told Congress that he may suggest US troops be sent into on the ground combat in Iraq -- as "participants" and not "advisors." Yesterday, Barbara Starr (CNN) reported Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel is now floating increased numbers of US troops in Iraq as well.
Hagel's not the only one singing that tired song.
Sunday in Australia, Barack joined the chorus. Tom Allerd (Sydney Morning Herald) quotes Barack stating, "Yes, there are always circumstances in which the United States might need to deploy US ground troop." Though Barack stated he would not go into hypotheticals,Allard notes that Barack went on to note a hypothetical. National Iraqi News Agency reports it this way:
Obama said in his speech in the top twenty conference in Australia: "The United States is working to train Iraqis and may send combat troops if the terrorist organization getting strategic weapons[.]"
As for Dempsey, NINA reports:
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey said that "military force will not eliminate / IS / without an Iraqi national unity and the Iraqi government did not succeed in ending the division between / Sunni and Shiaa / in the country.
He said in a press statement that "the US military helped the Iraqi forces and the Peshmerga in pulling Iraq away from the abyss and the battle with / IS/ begun to bear fruit against a group of dwarves adopting extremist ideology."
Dempsey said, " building confidence requires time as well as the US mission that may continue years."
A US mission that may continue [for] years.
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