Saturday, January 10, 2015

Iraq snapshot

Saturday, January 10, 2014.  Chaos and violence continue, Americans oppose ground troops in Iraq in a poll the press ignores, Juan Cole slimes the military, and more.

Cher weighs in on Iraq:

The damage was done and the damage continues.  Margaret Griffis ( notes 139 violent deaths in Iraq yesterday with 21 more injured.

How is Barack's bombing campaign (passed off as a 'plan') reducing violence?

As we ponder that, let's move over to note how it's always interesting what gets attention and what doesn't.  Everyone and their dog (that would be the Christian Science Monitor) weighed in on the poll regarding the number of Republicans who believed (wrongly) that WMD (one of the false reasons given for the illegal war on Iraq) were discovered there.  We covered the poll in Wednesday's snapshot but we covered it: "32% of Democrats in the US and 51% of Republicans wrongly believe WMDs were discovered in Iraq."  Though many outlets used the poll -- which has issues that should question some of the validity of the results -- to do another slam book post on Republicans and Fox News, that 32% of Democrats believe the lie is telling.

A few wanted to insist that the bad New York Times article was responsible.


One report can't do that.

Not even if it's amplified.

The issue is no one was held accountable.  When no one's held accountable, the message is no one needs to be held accountable because no one was wrong.

You go into Jack In The Box and order fries, walk out the door, look in the sack and discover they gave you onion rings, you can walk back in and they will take accountability for their mistake and give you the fries you ordered.

One of the reasons given for the 'need' to go to war on Iraq was that Iraq had WMD and was seeking out Betty Crocker Yellow Cake Uranium or some such nonsense.

And these reasons have not led to accountability.

Except maybe for Valerie Plame and Joe Wilson.

Joe is the former US Ambassador to Iraq who exposed Bully Boy Bush's lie about the yellow cake uranium and he was held accountable for that truth telling by the BBB administration which went on to illegally out his wife Valerie Plame as a CIA operative.  (Thanks to his father, Poppy Bush, it is illegal for a US government official or employee to out a CIA operative.  It is not a crime for others to do so.  Which is why columnist Robert Novak committed no crime -- a fact that David Corn -- in his never ending eagerness to suck the phallus of the CIA -- frequently was confused over.)

So Joe and Valerie suffered.

Cindy Sheehan and others across the US suffered as they saw their family members perish in the Iraq War or return home wounded.

The American people -- for many generations -- are suffering -- and will suffer -- as a result of the financial debt the illegal war has created.

But despite all the suffering and consequences being doled out to various people, the ones who lied were never held accountable.

Colin Powell is treated as 'respectable' by the media despite his public lying.  He's far from the only one.

And let's not forget that his cuddle buddy, Lawrence Wilkerson, was given free reign by the media (especially MSNBC and Democracy Now!) to rewrite history and present Colin Powell -- human filth since Vietnam -- as a victim and a truthful person.

When no one's held accountable for lying, when there are no prosecutions for deceiving the American people and starting an illegal war, people will assume the lies were true.

But, as usual, that was too much for the media in this country to address.

Heaven forbid we address the glaring lack of accountability.

And heaven forbid we address a real poll -- one whose methodology raises no questions.

See there were two polls that had to do with Iraq that were released this week.

And if you wanted to slam book Republicans and Fox News, you focused on the questionable one (and generally ignored the 32% of Democrats who believed the lie of WMD found).

And if you support war, you'll continue to ignore the other poll.

57% of Americans oppose sending US troops into combat in Iraq.  (Yes, they are already in combat.  Dropping bombs from planes is combat and, throughout the US Air Force's history, people have long received decorations for those combat missions.)

57% oppose.

That's a majority.

That, however, wasn't big news this week.

A search of even doesn't even turn up a report or citation.

The poll was conducted by the Brookings Institute -- a centrist organization not known for pacifist sentiment.

It was released on Thursday.

I missed it until a friend at Brookings asked why I wasn't noting it. probably missed it for the same reason.

But what about the MSM which usually can't stop presenting Brookings as a "trusted voice."

One poll offered easy scorn towards a group of Americans -- a group of Americans that many in the MSM look down upon, let's be honest.  And they glommed on that poll -- and zoomed in on the results they loved about the people they dislike (Republicans) while ignoring the results on their kindred (Democrats).

But a poll that speaks against what the administration wants?

That poll receives pretty much no attention at all.

Shibley Telhami, who conducted the survey, notes, "If airstrikes are not enough to stop ISIS, 57 percent of Americans oppose sending U.S. ground troops into Iraq to fight the Islamic State.  On the other hand, 53 percent of Republicans favor sending ground troops."

That the number for Republicans is only 53% is rather amazing.  It's also a number, if peace activists were familiar with it, that could be worked on.

You better believe that the War Hawks are aware of the poll.  You better believe they'll be working to lower the 57%.

You better believe that includes the White House.

As far back as June, US President Barack Obama (rightly) insisted that the only answer for Iraq's crises was a political solution.

But the US government hasn't focused their efforts on that, have they?

Instead, the DoD and the State Dept -- and the State Dept -- have focused on roping in other countries to join in the bombings and pressuring these countries to put troops on the ground -- whether they're billed as 'advisors' or what have you.

The White House hasn't been able to get the ground forces it needs.

As we've noted before, many State Dept efforts on this have been greeted with foreign officials responding, 'Why should we be sending in combat forces when you government isn't?"

This repeated reaction from officials in other countries forced the White House to show its hand last month.

That's when they sent US Secretary of State John Kerry to argue, December 9th, before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that Congress must pass an authorization for Barack's actions in Iraq and Syria and that this legislation must include that Barack can send US combat troops into Iraq.

Secretary of State John Kerry: However, while we certainly believe this is the soundest policy, and while the president has been clear he's open to clarifications on the use of U.S. combat troops to be outlined in an AUMF, that does not mean we should pre-emptively bind the hands of the commander in chief oo  or our commanders in the field -- in responding to scenarios and contingencies that are impossible to foresee. 

Barack wants ground troops in Iraq.

Or, if you're an idiot like Ray McGovern, a rogue John Kerry wants them!

His Hips Are Plenty Wide To Hide Barack!

Who knew?

John has such a narrow frame.

But just as Barack hid behind Hillary's skirt during his first term, he now hides behind John's rather bony ass.

And a lot of liars and idiots are willing to go along with that nonsense and pretend that when Kerry goes before the Senate -- and sends his written remarks, his opening statement, 48 hours before appearing -- the White House is caught by surprise that Kerry's asking for ground troops.

Not only are they caught by surprise but poor little Barack can't even stand up to John.

Not only that, Barack's unable to tell the press he rejects the call for ground troops.

He's a prisoner!

Do men like Ray McGovern portray Barack as such a weakling because it lets them get off on their sexual fantasies where they're strong and important and rescue the damsel Barack?

There were two polls this week.

One led to mockery.

Which one is really important in 2015?

Which one matters right now as the White House wants Congress to give them the right to put US forces into combat in Iraq?

That would be the poll the press ignored, that would be the Brookings poll.

Something else that matters is Asa Fitch and Ghassan Adnan's report for the Wall St. Journal which notes thug Nouri al-Maliki is still plotting to return as prime minister.

After finally being forced out of office in August (though he continues to refuse to leave the prime minister's house), Nouri al-Maliki continues to plot and conspire.  Haider al-Abadi, Iraq's current prime minister, is seen as weak and not all that different from Nouri when it comes to sectarian positions.

We'll note this from the article:

Mr. Maliki still harbors major political ambitions of his own, say insiders such as Ali Dabbagh, who worked as Mr. Maliki’s spokesman in his first term as prime minister but now opposes him.

“Maliki is still dreaming, and this is going to kill him,” he said. “I think finally he should accept the reality. This is politics and this is like a wheel, down and up, and you are down. I don’t think that anybody would allow you to come up—ever.” 

That's Ali al-Dabbagh.

We used to mock Ali in the snapshots, note what a liar he was for Nouri and how the day would come when Nouri would turn on him (as Nouri turns on everyone).

That came with the $4 billion weapons deal with Russia.

The deal was corrupt (on the Iraqi side).  Nouri's son was one of the many profiting from the deal.

As the corruption was exposed -- in the Iraq press -- Nouri began looking for fall guys.

Ali al-Dabbagh fled the country (and his post as spokesperson) when Nouri attempted to scapegoat him.

al-Dabbagh feels safe enough now not only to return to Iraq but also to publicly criticize Nouri.

That criticism won't go unnoticed by Nouri, a petty man who will nurse a grudge like it's a bottle of vintage scotch.

Juan Cole was an Iraq War cheerleader -- he also cheerleaded the assault on Libya.  Friday morning we noted his latest nonsense and we'll continue that conversation briefly by noting this, "Sharif was about to go to Iraq in 2005, himself, to fight Bush's troops there."  I realize that the nomad lacked basic education in his formative years and never really took courses in US history and civics but the military is not the military of an individual, even if that person is occupying the Oval Office.

In a column where he blames Bush repeatedly, attacks him repeatedly, for him to then type "Bush's troops"?

Now he can mock them, he can ridicule them.

But he can also face the fall out.

And that fall out should include his stupidity in assuming that the US troops belong to any Oval Office occupant.  They are not toys, they are not possessions.

They are also not the ones calling the shots.  How easy it is to attack a group of people -- especially ones who do not make policy.

Turning to the issue of veterans, Senators Patty Murray and Johnny Isakson deliver a win to veterans.  Senator Murray is the Chair of the Senate Finance Committee and serves on the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee.  Senator Johnny Isakson serves on the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee as well.  Senator Murray's office issued the following:

For Immediate Release                                                      CONTACT: Murray (202) 224-2834
Friday, January 9th, 2014                                                                                        Isakson (202) 224-7777
Top U.S. Army Official Fixes Retirement Benefits Issue After Calls from Murray, Isakson
In a November letter to Army Secretary McHugh, the Senators called for immediate reversal of previous policy

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senators Patty Murray (D-WA) and Johnny Isakson (R-GA) applauded U.S. Army Secretary John McHugh for reversing a policy that caused a significant number of Army officers to retire at a lower rank and lose significant retirement benefits, as much as $1,000 per month for the rest of their lives.  

Under the now-reversed policy, a significant group of Army captains and majors (former non-commissioned officers who were recruited for Officer Candidate School after September 11, 2001) were forced to retire at their highest previous enlisted rank, instead of their rank as officers, as a result of the Army’s use of Enhanced-Selective Early Retirement Boards (E-SERB).  In November, the Senators sent a letter to Sec. McHugh calling for this change. The new policy will result in a significant increase in lifetime retirement benefits for the impacted soldiers, for some as much as $1,000 per month or more, or just over $1 million over a 40 year retirement in the case of a captain forced to retire as a sergeant first class.   

“I heartily share your concern regarding those officers…who were informed they must retire in their previous enlisted grade,” Secretary McHugh wrote to the Senators.  “I am pleased to inform you that…I have waived the minimum requirement for those officers, allowing them to retire as officers without regard to the number of years they  have in active commissioned service.”  

The full text of Secretary McHugh’s letter can be viewed HERE.  

"These brave men and women answered the Army’s call to duty not just once, but twice, and I applaud Secretary McHugh’s swift action to correct this policy and ensure we fully honor the service and sacrifice of our nation’s heroes,” Senator Murray said. “I'm grateful to my friend and colleague, Senator Isakson, for joining me in this fight.”
“I am thrilled Secretary McHugh responded quickly and is taking the steps necessary to rectify this situation and allow these deserving men and women to retire at the rank they have earned and appropriately honor their service to our nation,” said Isakson, chairman of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee.

Read a one-page summary of the issue here.

Under the previous Army policy, a soldier must have served at least 8 years of active service as a commissioned officer in order to retire as a commissioned officer.  Soldiers who served 20 years total, but less than 8 years as commissioned officers, were retired at their highest enlisted rank. 

During the “Grow the Army” effort, the Army dramatically increased the number of officers commissioned via its Officer Candidate School (OCS).  The Army expanded to a post 9-11 peak of 570,000 soldiers in 2010 and is currently executing an end strength reduction designed to shrink the Army to 450,000 soldiers.  Many of those OCS graduates are now being forced to retire through the E-SERB process as the Army shrinks.  Officers with more than 18 years active service are screened by E-SERB and those selected will be forced to retire on the first day of the month following the month they reach 20 years of service. These former non-commissioned officers stepped up and volunteered for OCS at a time the Army badly needed officers and served honorably for between 6 and 7 years, but many were being retired at enlisted ranks they had not held in years. 

Senators Murray and Isakson were joined in sending their initial letter by: Senators Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Saxby Chambliss (R-GA), Susan Collins (R-ME), Tom Harkin (D-IA), Mike Johanns (R-NE), Tim Johnson (D-SD), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Claire McCaskill (D-MO), Mark Pryor (D-AR), Bernard Sanders (D-VT) and Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH).
Sean Coit
Press Secretary
Office of U.S. Senator Patty Murray

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