Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Iraq snapshot

Wednesday, February 25, 2015.  Chaos and violence continue, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee discusses Iraq and Barack's AUMF request, the American people learn -- if any outlet bothers to cover it -- that the plan is for US forces in Iraq for over 3 years (many years to come), the State Dept can't do diplomacy but they excel in bitchy, and much more.

Decently well?

Does that modifier or "well" really belong?

Because they flew out of  Senator Bob Corker's mouth today.  He declared, "I think many people feel decently well about what's happening in Iraq."

No, it didn't make sense.

Nor did Corker.

Republicans and Democrats in Congress -- forget about the American people -- do not feel "well about what's happening in Iraq" -- decently well or otherwise.

Corker was speaking at the start of this afternoon's Senate Foreign Relations Committee.  Corker is the Chair, Senator Bob Menendez is the Ranking Member. Appearing before the Committee was retired Gen John Allen whom US President Barack Obama has named the Special Presidential Envoy for The Global Coalition to Counter the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.

Let's get to the really big news about Barack's war.

It is endless.

It's US troops committed far beyond three years to Iraq.

This was established in Senator Ben Cardin's line of questioning.

Senator Ben Cardin:  Of course the President's request to Congress is pretty specific on ISIL and expires in three years.  It's clear that there may well be a need for a continued military US presence beyond that three years. 

Envoy John Allen: Uh, I would say probably a need for military activity, US military activity, of some form or another, yes sir.

Get it?

First off, this is John McCain.

If you've forgotten, John McCain, while campaigning for the GOP presidential nomination, declared he as fine with US troops in Iraq forever -- or that's how it was portrayed.

He meant US troops in Iraq in the manner in which they remain in South Korea all the years after the Korean War.

Barack Obama was the candidate who was supposed to be 'different.'

And he was going to get all US troops out of Iraq within 16 months of being sworn in as president.

Samantha Power -- as we noted in real time while whores like John Nichols lied -- was forced out of Barack's campaign not because of what she said about Hillary Clinton but because the BBC was about to air an interview with her where she revealed Barack's campaign promise wasn't a promise and that he'd decide what to do after he was sworn in.  This interview was going to be big and Samantha had to 'save' Barack by leaving the campaign so that Barack wasn't forced to answer questions about what she'd said.


The little whores of the press ignored it.

And months later, when Tom Hayden was outraged about Barack (the July 4, 2008 holiday), he stumbled upon this and wanted to know why no one made a big deal out of it?  And he answered his own question with Hillary's campaign ignored the issue.


They raised it repeatedly.

In conference calls with the press and in repeated press releases.

It was the press that didn't give a damn.

They were too busy -- remembering the infamous video of Barack wearing jeans and walking past them on the plane -- oohing and awing over Barack to actually cover what he said and what his aids said.

So now, to steal from Jeremiah Wright, the chickens have come home to roost.

The liar who pretended he was always against the Iraq War lied as well about getting US troops out.

The end of 2011 was a drawdown, not a withdrawal.

By fall of 2012, as Tim Arango reported in the New York Times, Barack had sent another special ops brigade into Iraq.

By June 2014, he was sending troops in openly.

And now his envoy tells Congress that the plan is for a continued US military presence -- that Barack pictures it not just for the next three years, but for well beyond that.

How did that chump change work out for The Cult of St. Barack?

Because it didn't improve anything in Iraq and never took all US troops out of the country.

But, hey, we got to see his nipples, right?

He went jogging without shirts and didn't that make up for everything else?

Didn't his man boobs -- moobs -- sliding all around while he jogged make up for everything else?

Let's hope he was a wealth of masturbation fantasies because all he offered was fantasy and, again, to steal from his mentor Jeremiah Wrights, the chickens are coming home to roost.

This was also made clear during an exchange in this afternoon's hearing regarding the issue of "enduring" US forces in Iraq.

Ranking Member Bob Menendez: What does "enduring" -- no "enduring combat forces" mean?

Envoy John Allen: I think obviously, the-the nature of the  contingency or the emergency or the potential conflict will give us the indications of what kinds of measures would need to be taken in the aggregate to deal with that emergency to give the President the kind of options that he needs in order to protect the lives of American citizens and American interests and the homeland. Each one of these emergencies will be different.  Each one will require a different aggregation of American hard and soft  power ultimately to solve them.  And so I think it would be difficult to put necessarily a level of precision against the word "enduring."  I think  what we'll seek --  what we'll seek to do -- and I believe this administration -- and future administrations would be obviously very interested in consulting with the Congress about each -- .

Ranking Member Bob Menendez: I-I appreciate a consultation.  The problem is you reference your answer in context of emergencies but no "enduring offensive combat troops" doesn't necessarily only apply to emergencies.  If you send 20,000 troops and they're there for 4 months, is that enduring?

Envoy John Allen:  Uh-uh again, Senator, I think that trying to put a specific amount of time on the word "enduring' uh, uh --

Ranking Member Bob Menendez: So it's neither time nor size?

Envoy John Allen:  I think we take a full appreciation of what we're facing.  And I -- And I believe that we give the president the options necessary in order to deal with the emergency and "enduring" might only be two weeks.  But "enduring might be two years"  I think we need to ensure that we put the right resources against the contingency and give us the amount of time necessary -- "us" being all of the American people -- the time necessary to solve the problem.

Ranking Member Bob Menendez:  And I think you've stated the challenge that we have.  Two weeks is one thing.  Two years is another thing.  And this is the problem with the language as it exists. There is no clear, defining element of the authorization given to the president in which hundreds -- but maybe tens of thousands -- of troops could be sent.  They could be sent for long periods of time.   That's -- That's a challenge.  And so how we get our arms around that?  You know, I know -- I think I can fairly speak for Democrats -- we want to fight ISIL, we want to give the president the wherewith all to degrade and deter them but we can't provide a blank check to this and a future president because everything that's envisioned goes beyond this president.  So I want to use your expertise to try to put my arms around it and I see the challenge that we have.  Let me ask you this, following up on the Chairman's questions, isn't it basically true that unless we buy into something about  getting rid of Assad, Turkey isn't really going to engage with us in the way we want them to?

Envoy John Allen:  Uh, the Turks have not indicated that to me in our conversations.  I think we share the same goal with respect to Syria and that is that the solution to Syria is not going to be determined by military force. That ultimately, we -- we desire a political outcome in Syria that is the will of the Syrian people and that that outcome is one that does not include Bashar al-Assad.  I think we share that goal with Turkey.  But I  have not had, in my conversations with the Turks the requirement that we take concerted action against Bashar al-Assad as the precondition necessarily for the Turks to have any greater role in the coalition to deal with ISIL. 

Ranking Member Bob Menendez:  Isn't it true that at this point Turkey is still allowing foreign fighters to cross its borders into Syria?

Envoy John Allen: If foreign fighters get across the border in Turkey it's not because the Turks are allowing them.  Again I've  had a conversation with them yesterday. I've watched them grip this problem    It  is a greater problem than many of us had imagined at the  beginning.  They have attempted to strengthen their border crossing protocols.  We're seeking greater information sharing and intelligence sharing   with them in that regard.  We are restructuring some elements of the coalition specifically to focus the capabilities of nations on the issue of the movement and the dealing of foreign fighters through transit states of which the Turks are going to play an important role in that process within that coalition.  So do foreign fighters cross Turkey and get into Syria?  Yes, they do.  Are the Turks permitting them to do that? I don't believe so. I think that the Turks are working hard, ultimately, to do -- to take the measures necessary to staunch that flow the best they can.

Ranking Member Bob Menendez:  And one final question: Iran.  Iran is in the midst of  Iraq. It's in the midst of Syria.  Uh, do we share mutual goals with Iran?

Envoy John Allen:  Well I would say our goals with respect to Iraq is that we return Iraq to the sovereign control of the Iraqi people and to the central government in Baghdad.  My --

Ranking Member Bob Menendez:  You think the Iranians share that?

Envoy John Allen:  Oh, I believe so. I-I-I believe that the Iranians - their interests -- they would consider that their interests are best served by an Iraq -- 

Ranking Member Bob Menendez:  They have a very significant influence in Iraq.

Envoy John Allen: Well they have regional interests.  And those interests are, in fact, in Iraq.  That's not something that should surprise us or necessarily alarm us.

Ranking Member Bob Menendez:   I'm looking beyond.  So if we think an accommodation with Iran to fight ISIL is good, the aftermath of that in Iraq, in Syria, in Yemen and elsewhere -- in my view -- is not so good.  And so sometimes we look at the short game as opposed to the long one and I'm concerned about what the long one is.

Envoy John Allen:  Uh, Senator, I would not propose that we are accommodating Iran in Iraq at this particular moment. We're undertaking the measures that we're taking in Iraq with the Iraqis.  We're not cooperating with the Iranians.  As-As you have pointed out and as your argument presupposes Iranians have an interest in a stable Iraq just as we in the region have an interest in a stable Iraq.  But that doesn't mean we are accommodating the Iranians by virtue of the actions that we are taking in Iraq.

On this week's Law and Disorder Radio, first airing Monday on  WBAI  and around the country throughout the week. the hosts discussed the AUMF Barack's requesting.   The program is hosted by attorneys Heidi Boghosian, Michael S. Smith and Michael Ratner (Center for Constitutional Rights)  and we'll note this section of their discussion on the "enduring" issue.

Michael Ratner:  A second one -- and a big struggle is going on --  or, I don't know if it's big, a struggle of some sort -- at least in the press around these guys -- is the use of ground forces.  How are we going to limit the use of ground forces?  Initially, I think we were told there won't be any ground forces used against ISIS or they believe they have to use ground forces. So what does this Authorization to Use Military Force say -- the new proposed one?  This does not authorize the use of the United States armed forces in -- and here's the key word -- "enduring" offensive ground combat operations.  The word is "enduring offensive ground combat operations."

Heidi Boghosian: Right.  And what does that mean? That means a long term -- 

Michael Ratner: How long is enduring?

Heidi Boghosian:  -- something short of -- Exactly.

Michael Ratner: One year? Two year?  Five years?  Ten years?

Heidi Boghosian:  Right. 

Michael Ratner:  What's "enduring"? Forever?

Heidi Boghosian:  It's over broad and vaguely drafted. 

Michael Ratner: It's meaningless.

Heidi Boghosian: Right.

Let me make a comment about today's hearing.  What's with 'general'?

He's an ambassador now.  His title is "envoy."  Is he ashamed of it?

Is Congress embarrassed by it?

Yes, he's a retired general.

He's also an active ambassador.

That's his title.

Clearly, this administration has no respect for diplomacy, they've made that clear.  And we'll get to that topic in a moment.  But does the Congress have no respect also?

Being an Ambassador is a pretty big deal.

Check the archives, we praised Michael Hayden for dropping "general" and asking to be called "director" when he appeared before Congress because that's what he was.  He was a retired general who came back into government service to become the Director of the CIA.

I don't approve of militarizing civilian posts and I don't approve of treating an ambassador as if that's an overnight job at Denny's.  If "ambassador" is beneath John Allen, he needs to resign the post immediately.

He is not in the military anymore.  He is attached to the State Dept.  If he won't show respect for his current position, he doesn't need to hold it.

If he's embarrassed to be called ambassador or envoy, that's really going to interfere with any accomplishments he might have.

Let's note an exchange regarding Sunnis and regarding Mosul.  The Islamic State took Mosul last June and continue to hold it.  The US administration last week announced that March or April or May was the time or 'time' to attack Mosul and liberate or 'liberate' it.

Senator Rand Paul: What percentage would you say is an estimate of how many of the official Iraqi army are Sunni versus Shia?

Envoy John Allen:  I'll have to take the question, sir, and get back to you

Senator Rand Paul:  Well -- 

Envoy John Allen: Right now, the standing army, the preponderance is, uh, -- the majority is Shia.  But I can't give you the numbers.  I'll take the question.

Senator Rand Paul:  The reason I ask is sort of on the heels of what Senator Carden is asking global  security reports basically somewhere between 80 and 90% of the official Iraqi army being Shia. I think to have an enduring victory, there's some question from some of us whether you can have an enduring victory and occupy Mosul and be seen as a legitimate government if you've got an 80 to 90% Shia force?  So I think that still is a significant political problem and a significant military problem as well.  Of the chieftens that fought in the surge -- just an estimate -- what percentage is engaged on our side now fighting against ISIS, what percentage are on the sidelines and what percentage indifferent?

Envoy John Allen:  Again, those are numbers that are difficult to give you with any precision.  The ones that I fought alongside in '07 and '08, the ones that I have spoken to without exception have indicated their desire to fight Da'ash, have recovered their lands to ultimately return, in this case, to Al-Anbar Province, to the tribes and ultimately to Iraq.  And so they've been very forthcoming in their desire to do that.  Every one that I have spoken to.

Senator Rand Paul:  And the chieftens are no longer in the area?  Have been driven out of the area?  The ones that you've spoken to?

Envoy John Allen:  Well many of them are.  Some at great risk traveled out of the area ultimately to speak with us.  But, uh, they are.  And many of them are in Amman [Jordan] and other places.

Senator Rand Paul:  With regard to arming the Kurds, there were reports a month or two ago that Germany wanted to send arms directly to them but there were objections by our government saying everything had to go through Baghdad.  Are arms for our allies forced to go through Baghdad to get to the Kurds? 

Envoy John Allen: Uhm, I'll take the question but let me offer this.  Uh, Baghdad has not disproved any requests, uh, that the Kurds have made for weapons.  We have attempted to work with Baghdad to streamline to the maximum extent possible to reduce any delays that may inhibit or impair, uh, the expeditious delivery of arms and equipment to the Kurds.

Senator Rand Paul:  You think this includes sufficient technology and long range weaponry to meet their needs and their requests?

Envoy John Allen:  Well all that is coming.  As you know sir, and through the support of the Congress, we're training and equipping 12 Iraqi brigades -- 3 of which are Peshmerga brigades [Peshmerga are an elite Kurdish fighting force] and with Peshmerga brigades we'll be armed and equipped with exactly the same  that the other 9 Iraqi brigades will receive. 

Senator Rand Paul:  We're destroying or abandoning equipment in Afghanistan.  Is there any possibility that any of that could be transported to the Kurds?

Envoy John Allen:  That's a question that we should pose to the Dept of Defense but I'll take the question.

As Senator Paul's time wound down, suddenly Allen wanted to address the earlier question about the Shi'ite majority in the military.

Well . . .

not address . . .

more distract.

There will be a clearing force.

For Mosul and other areas.

But he's really hopeful that they can get the Sunni police to take part.

Paul suggested that the invading force should be Sunni (Mosul is a Sunni dominant city) and that there should be leafleting of the city announcing that fact to increase support for the action.

I'm attending a hearing tomorrow and I was at another one today -- I'd love for both of them to make into the snapshots -- that may or may not happen.  But we will note today's hearing in Thursday's snapshot to cover a few more aspects.

For now, we'll note that, while pressing for the new AUMF, the administration continues to insist it doesn't really need it.

Chair Bob Corker:  Yesterday, Senator Kerry testified that he felt like today the administration already has because of the '01 AUMF  and the '02 AUMF the authority to conduct the operations that are being conducted in Iraq and Syria.  Do you -- do you agree with that assessment?

Envoy John Allen: I do, Chairman.

Chair Bob Corker: Okay.  So it's an interesting place where we find ourselves, where six months after conflicts have begun, a new AUMF is being offered.  And I know that in order to pursue one properly through Congress, that's the standard process which I appreciate.

Of course, that's Secretary Kerry -- John Kerry left the Senate to become Secretary of State (though he appears to believe he's Secretary of Defense).  And Kerry's in the news cycle today -- weighing in on Iraq.

Elad Benari (Israel Nation News) reports US Secretary of State John Kerry has gotten bitchy -- they really need to think of a new name for the State Dept since bitchy has replaced diplomacy -- about Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu:

The comments, according to The Huffington Post, came as Kerry was testifying before the House Foreign Affairs Committee. Committee member Rep. Albio Sires (D-N.J.) pointed to Netanyahu’s upcoming address to the Congress as evidence of the weakness of the deal being negotiated between Iran and the six world powers.

“The Prime Minister was also profoundly forward-leaning and very outspoken about the importance of invading Iraq and George W. Bush,” Kerry shot back, referring to Netanyahu.

David Francis (Foreign Policy) refers to Kerry as "the nation's top diplomat" but that should probably be "the nation's top bitch."  At any rate, Francis notes:

It was an odd critique from Kerry, who had voted to authorize the invasion of Iraq. It was also the latest in a string of increasingly harsh and personal attacks on Netanyahu by senior administration officials.
On Tuesday night, National Security Advisor Susan Rice told Charlie Rose in an interview that Netanyahu’s visit “injected a degree of partisanship, which is not only unfortunate. I think it’s destructive of the fabric of the relationship.”

Kerry did a little bit more than vote "to authorize the invasion of Iraq."  Focusing just on Iraq, here's how David Paul Kuhn (CBS News) covered Kerry's flip-flops back in 2004:

Following Iraq's invasion of Kuwait in January 1991, Kerry broke with the majority of senators and voted against authorizing the first Gulf War. He said on the Senate floor, "It is a vote about war because whether or not the president exercises his power, we will have no further say after this vote."
Kerry thus voted against war after Iraq took aggressive military action. He said a vote in favor of military action was tantamount to giving Congress "no further say" on the war.
In October 2002, he supported the current war in Iraq, despite the fact that Iraq took no aggressive action against its neighbors.
In announcing his candidacy for president, in September 2003, he said his October 2002 vote was simply "to threaten" the use of force, apparently backtracking from his belief in 1991 that such a vote would grant the president an open-ended ticket to wage war.

If I Knew Then What I Know Now…
"We should not have gone to war knowing the information that we know today," Kerry said Wednesday on ABC's "Good Morning America." "Knowing there was no imminent threat to America, knowing there were no weapons of mass destruction, knowing there was no connection of Saddam Hussein to al Qaeda, I would not have gone to war. That's plain and simple."
But on Aug. 9, 2004, when asked if he would still have gone to war knowing Saddam Hussein did not possess weapons of mass destruction, Kerry said: "Yes, I would have voted for the authority. I believe it was the right authority for a president to have." Speaking to reporters at the edge of the Grand Canyon, he added: "[Although] I would have done this very differently from the way President Bush has."
The Kerry campaign says voting to authorize the war in Iraq is different from deciding diplomacy has failed and waging war. But Kerry's nuanced position has contradicted itself on whether it was right or wrong to wage the war.
In May 2003, at the first Democratic primary debate, John Kerry said his vote authorizing the president to use force was the "right decision" though he would have "preferred if we had given diplomacy a greater opportunity."
But then in January 2004, Kerry began to run as anti-war candidate, saying, "I don't believe the president took us to war as he should have."

The $87 Billion Vote
In September 2003, Kerry implied that voting against wartime funding bills was equivalent to abandoning the troops.
"I don't think any United States senator is going to abandon our troops and recklessly leave Iraq to whatever follows as a result of simply cutting and running," he said.
Then, in October 2003, a year after voting to support the use of force in Iraq, Kerry voted against an $87 billion supplemental funding bill for U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. He did support an alternative bill that funded the $87 billion by cutting some of President Bush's tax cuts.
But when it was apparent the alternative bill would not pass, he decided to go on record as not supporting the legislation to fund soldiers.
Kerry complicated matters with his now infamous words, "I actually did vote for the $87 billion before I voted against it."

Who is John Kerry to criticize anyone for how they acted re: Iraq or what they supported?

Maybe since he -- at one time or another -- pretty much supported everything, he feels he's an 'expert'?

The only expertise he's showing these days is bitchy.

And it's all over the State Dept.  For example, in Monday's State Dept press briefing, spokesperson Jen Psaki took part:

QUESTION: Iraqi Kurdish officials have accused Baghdad – I’m not sure if you’ve seen the reports – of having failed to abide by the most recent agreement over oil and budget. Prime Minister Abadi says, because partly of the oil price drop, Iraq has no money to send to the KRG. KRG says why does Iraq – why is Iraq able to pay the salaries of all of the Iraqis, including the residents of Mosul, except for Kurdistan.
Is that your assessment that the agreement between Baghdad and Kurdistan is unraveling?

MS. PSAKI: It is not. We understand that both Baghdad and Erbil remain committed to seeking implementation of the deal that is enshrined in the budget law. We recognize that Iraq writ large is facing financial difficulties due to low oil prices, the large refugee and IDP population, and the need to focus on defense spending because of the fight against ISIL. I would refer you to the Government of Iraq, but I do also recall news reports that Baghdad transferred two payments totaling $1 billion late last year as part of the agreement that was reached. So certainly, it’s not accurate to suggest that --

QUESTION: But this year, they haven’t done it according to the top Kurdish officials. They were just in Baghdad last week. Baghdad said --

MS. PSAKI: Well, the Iraqi parliament also just recently passed its $103 billion 2015 budget, which includes payments to the KRG. So I would point you to the Government of Iraq to ask that question.

QUESTION: So would you be concerned as the United States – if that is true, which is really true, that Iraq has not paid or is not going to pay KRG --

MS. PSAKI: I don’t see what you’re presenting as evidence that it’s true.

QUESTION: Why is --

MS. PSAKI: Or do you have more information you want to provide us?

QUESTION: Yeah, yeah. The prime minister of Kurdistan, he just talked to the media, and he’s --

MS. PSAKI: Well, I’m just referring to the fact that last year there were two payments reportedly made. I would certainly have you confirm that with the relevant authorities. The budget just passed. It includes payment to the KRG – payments to the KRG. Both sides have said they’re committed to the plan. So I’d suggest you pose your questions to the Iraqi Government on this issue.

How bad was the bitchy?

So bad that the State Dept hasn't held a press briefing since.

Margaret Griffis ( counts 187 violent deaths today in Iraq and 100 people kidnapped.

law and disorder radio
michael s. smith
heidi boghosian
michael ratner