Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Iraq snapshot

Tuesday, April 22, 2015.  Chaos and violence continue, a political solution remains elusive and unsought in Iraq, Haider al-Abadi puts refugees into Abu Ghraib prison, Chelsea Manning is appealing for donations to her legal fund, Hillary Clinton isn't fit for office unless the US wants a replay of Tricky Dick's presidency, and much more.

Let's start with Hillary Clinton since she can't stop trying to put herself in the news.

Hillary, married to Bill Clinton, has been First Lady of the United States.  In 2000, while in her final year as First Lady, she finally ran for elected office herself (in addition to being President of the United States, Bill had also been Governor of Arkansas) and she won a seat in the US Senate.  In 2006, she ran for re-election again.  Her last two years as a senator (2007 and 2008) were spent running for the Democratic Party's presidential nomination (through June of 2008) and then in campaigning for Barack Obama to be President of the United States. Once he was sworn in as President, she slid into the Cabinet slot of Secretary of State and held that post for four years before stepping down.

How could someone support Hillary in 2008 and not support her in 2016?

That's a valid question.

And as I watch the various liars rush to support her today -- people who smeared her falsely as a racist in 2008 and insisted she was calling for Barack to be killed in the spring of 2008 -- I think asking them about their shift to embracing Hillary is also a valid question.

In 2008, there were many differences for me.

I did not support Hillary in 2007 and hadn't even thought of it.  I know Hillary, I knew everyone who was running on the Democratic Party side except for Barack.  (Elaine and I met Barack once and once was more than enough.  He's a War Hawk and in a very brief conversation with him at a fundraiser, that became clear.  We did not give money and we immediately left the fundraiser after this man running as anti-war for the US Senate insisted that the US was already in Iraq so that issue was already resolved.)

In 2008, Hillary did not have four years of Secretary of State dragging her down.

When someone belittles you (as Barack did Hillary in every manner possible -- including flipping the bird in one infamous moment), going to work in their administration does not make you look mature or reasonable.

It makes you look sad and pathetic.

It's insulting to you and it's very much insulting to the people who supported you.

Hillary always takes for granted the support she has.  I've known her for years but it only hit home when Hillary did what was best for her ambition.

Instead of rewarding her supporters, instead of using her position as a US senator to do some good, she became the lackey.

What is she most known for as Secretary of State besides photo ops and Benghazi?

Rushing to tell then-Secretary of Defense Robert Gates that her opposition to the surge was pure politics and she didn't mean it.  Now Barack said the same thing at the same encounter.  As usual The Cult of St. Barack covered for him and made it all about her.

But she's craven.

Was she telling the truth to Gates?

Who knows.

Her entire life is about saying and doing anything to advance herself.

Some of her supporters touched on this recently with her e-mail scandal.

Hillary, we were told, didn't do anything wrong.  We were supposed to take it on faith that she had not deleted anything that mattered, they insisted, and grasp that she did it to defend herself, that all the scandals she's suffered forced her to take extra measures.

Yes, they did.

And those measures are not acceptable in a president.

The best explanation of her e-mail scandal is that she felt she had the right to hide from the public that which they owned.  Her work product as Secretary of State -- every e-mail, every memo -- belonged to the US people.

She knows that.

Once upon a time, she would have lectured others on it.

Now she's so craven that she doesn't even respect it.

That's why she shouldn't have been Secretary of State.

She corrupted anything that was worthy of praise.

She also took a clear mistake -- supporting the Iraq War -- and turned one incident into an established pattern.

As Secretary of State, she tried to out hawk everyone.  War was her answer to everything.

And she sounded like a crazed serial killer in her attacks on Chelsea Manning and Ed Snowden (among others).

Chelsea Manning acted on good faith and in an attempt to provide understanding and justice and to provoke a needed debate in this country.  Chelsea served in the US military as Bradley Manning.

Here is Logan Price detailing some of Hillary's attacks on Chelsea in 2011:

For those who don’t believe that Bradley’s alleged personal life and sexuality may be used against him, by either officials or media critics, this gem of information was presented in a recent Vanity Fair article about Hillary Clinton, while on tour in the Middle East:
Obama“Hillary told staff that she could not fathom how an army private, Bradley Manning, with psychological problems and a drag-queen boyfriend could single-handedly cause the United States unprecedented embarrassment just by labeling massive downloads as Lady Gaga songs.”
Were those comments verbatim, or just the ill-chosen words of the author? We may never know, but one thing is for sure, they were published in a major pop-culture outlet, and there is no taking them back.
Here is a good take-down of the allegation that Manning had “psychological problems.” As for Hillary’s comment about Bradley’s boyfriend, it is not only false, but inappropriate.
If Hillary did indeed say anything of the sort,  it is yet another reminder of the Obama administration’s willingness to disregard the fact that Bradley Manning has not yet been convicted of any crimes.
At a fundraiser in San Francisco in April,  Obama told me that Bradley Manning “broke the law,”  a legally irresponsible and inappropriate statement that could constitute an “unlawful command influence” over any military judge or jury that may preside over Bradley’s case.
Should the President and commander-in-chief,  or the Secretary of State for that matter, really be saying such things about a high profile prisoner like Bradley Manning who has not yet been to trial?
The release of the Diplomatic Cables may have been embarrassing for the Obama administration, but for Bradley, his life hangs in the balance.

This is an excerpt.  Read the full article here.

Chelsea is a whistle-blower.  She remains in a military prison.  Today, her Tweets included the following:

Hillary should have to answer about the treatments of whistle-blowers.  She should also be forced to clarify her remarks attacking Chelsea as a person, not simply attacking Chelsea's actions (which exposed a corrupt and vile State Dept -- among other things).

Hillary  became more and more vile with every year she served and the moment she will most be remembered for screeching "At this point, what difference does it make!" when asked about an attack that killed four Americans (at least four, from other remarks she's made since, the death toll was eventually higher) and wounded many more.

That's Hillary in 2016.

That wasn't Hillary in 2008.

She made clear in those four years that she was craven, that she was a War Hawk, that she was not to be trusted and that she didn't believe in accountability.

That's far different from 2008 where you had her up against a liar posing as an anti-war candidate (Barack) and one who would use every bit of sexism possible to advance himself.

Barack has nothing to point to with pride in the seven years he's so far served as president.

And that the 2008 sexism can't take place today was Hillary's accomplishment.

Had she not gone into the administration, his sexism (which, yes, does include those work-bonding moments of all male basketball and all male golf) would have been addressed by the press.

But it will be addressed by history.

Allowing a man who drunkenly mocked Hillary by groping her cut out to be your speech writer as president?

The future will not look kindly on Barack Obama.

A failure as a president, a failure as a human being.

And a smart Hillary would have sat out his administration.

She could have never run again and been seen as something of a hero for surviving the sexism and staying in the 2008 race.

And a real hero would have done that.

But she's not about heroism, she's about advancing herself.

So she spat on her supporters and went to work for the man who degraded and insulted her (and degraded and insulted her supporters).

She has nothing to point to with pride.

And she's become more touchy and more entitled and more of terror.

Just last year, there was Terry Gross (NPR's Fresh Air) delicately attempting to get Hillary to walk through her transition (sudden transition) to supporting marriage equality and she snapped and lost it repeatedly.

Queen Hillary must never be doubted or questioned.

Knowing that right now, how can anyone think this out of control, crazed person belongs in the Oval Office?

She is Richard Nixon waiting to happen.

If you doubt it, go back to the e-mail scandal.

You can tell yourself nothing untoward happened.  I don't believe that, but you can tell yourself that.

But can you also pretend this scandal is anyone else's fault?

She knew she wanted to run for president.  She knew she probably would run for president.

But in between two runs, she takes the post of Secretary of State and uses her own e-mail.  That may be the standard to be Secretary of Ag but it's not the standard for someone wanting to be president.

She then goes on to destroy the e-mails and to lie about it (contrary to her initial public remarks, she did not use only one portable device to do e-mails).

This is Richard Nixon behavior.

And it's present and public before she's ever president.

There are so many reasons she shouldn't be president today.

In 2008, she should have been president.

And the country would be different today.

We might be in the same number of wars or we might be in more (I doubt we'd be in less, but it's possible we could be).

But we would have been a nation with eyes wide open.

In 2008, Barack was lying about against the war and about pulling all US troops out within 16 months and lying about everything.

Worst of all?

He was getting away with it.

The country has nothing to show for seven years of Barack -- except maybe just how many lies can be told.

The same press and Cult of St. Barack so desperate to lie for him had no such position with regards to Hillary.

If President Hillary had gone to war on Libya without Congressional support?

You really think some mealy mouthed words from Michael Ratner -- words quickly forgotten as he rushed to whore for Barack on something else -- would have been the end of it?

No, a President Hillary would have been held accountable.

A President Hillary in January 2009 would not have The Nation magazine lying for her, The Progressive, Democracy Now!, etc.  Amnesty International -- US branch -- would not have disgraced itself by promoting her on their website.  No one remembers that today but Amnesty forgot that they were supposed to defend human rights and instead featured Barack, whored for him.  We called them out at Third -- we were the only ones to do so -- but between our mocking them and the slow realization that Barack was just another War Hawk, they took down their little page praising him -- a page intended to chronicle his accomplishments -- but there were none.

A President Hillary couldn't have sold that awful ObamaCare as something good for the country.  Anything less than what was truly needed -- universal coverage via the expansion of Medicare for all -- would have been called out.

And called out from the left.

The disgusting United for Peace and Justice would not have announced days after the 2008 election that they were folding tent and their work was done if Hillary had been elected (and not Barack).

The left would either have forced Hillary to make some real changes or they would have spent every moment protesting and exposing her.

Barack's regressive policies have turned the country backwards.

President Hillary might have also offered regressive policies but the 'independent' media of The Nation, KPFA, et al would have sounded the alarms and the American people -- especially those who followed left 'independent' media would have damn well known what was going on.

There were so many reasons to support her in 2008 (and we even made the IF Stone case back in real time).

There are no reasons to support her in 2016.

More than baggage, she now carries a pattern.  She has contempt for accountability.  She's openly hostile to any question that doesn't fawn over her.  She's a bully and she's Richard Nixon.

Sexism is real and it was only touched on in the above.  It's still present today as the 'left' continues beating up on women.  The two most zoomed in on members of the press today?  Judith Miller and Maureen Dowd.  One woman's work helped sell the illegal war.  The other railed against it -- one of the few national columnists that can be said of.  Yet both women are attacked.

Thomas Friedman's not attacked, mind you.

But Maureen's attacked by the 'left.'

Sexism was real in 2008 and it's real today.  And we may go into that aspect at some point.

But what we've done above?  I've explained why I, someone who supported Hillary in 2008, cannot support her in 2016.  Let's see if any of the many on the left who attacked her in 2008 but now want to support her can explain their own transition.

Liars like Claire McCaskill can't.

Though, in fairness to Claire, she's deeply afraid.  She should be.  A President Hillary would probably exact her pound of flesh on Claire regardless of the support Claire's suddenly decided to offer today.

When the candidates begin debating onstage, Hillary should find that the craven 'left'  and their stupidity isn't shared by all.


She's going to have answer questions about Iraq.

Not just that hideous vote.

She's going to have to answer about being Secretary of State as Iraq descended into flames.

She's going to have to answer how she refused to fully brief Congress on the most minute details -- including how the millions and billions her State Dept requested for Iraq would be spent?

She's going to have to ask why she refused to support the continuation of the efforts of Stuart Bowen but instead was part of the move to shut down the office of the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction.  She's going to have to ask why she didn't demand an Inspector General over her department.  Her four years had none.  The only time in modern history that can be said.  John Kerry, coming into the office, was asked by Congress about it and he said they'd work on it, that they would get one and, months later, the State Department once again had an Inspector General.

What the Cult of St. Barack ignored and endured won't stay hidden as Hillary attempts to become president.

Turning to Iraq today, National Iraqi News Agency reports:

Vice- President Iyad Allawi said on Saturday that the access to the state of citizenship and to confront the injustice is our goal for achieving the national reconciliation and the unity of the community, noting that Iraq will emerge from this ordeal strong and united.

He said during a meeting with a group of elders and notables and clerics of the province of Basra, according to a statement by his office that Basra suffers from problems which must be stopped, and promote the province and maintain its social fabric, adding that the issue is in the whole country represented in to get out of the crisis that all the areas suffer from terrorism, extremism, violence, conflict, unemployment and corruption.

This is not a new position for Ayad Allawi to be arguing.

دخول قوات برية اجنبية لن يساعد بل يجب ان تكون ستراتيجية سياسية لتحقيق مصالحة وطنية.
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His remarks should not be seen as controversial.

They are what Barack Obama argued last June.  But Barack and the White House and the State Department have done nothing to work towards a political solution.  Instead, the focus has been on bombing and building a fighting/training coalition.

Few have bothered to question the lack of focus on a political solution.  We'll again note Manal Omar and Sarhang Hamasaeed (Foreign Policy) observation from earlier this week:

Addressing Iraq’s problems at the root means encouraging and implementing more inclusive administrative policies. Obama was right when he said last summer that there’s no military solution to Iraq’s problems, and that, “The only lasting solution is for Iraqis to come together and form an inclusive government.” However, a truly inclusive Iraqi state has yet to emerge under Abadi. To do that, Abadi needs to simultaneously create avenues of participation so that the Sunnis can re-engage in the political process more widely, and keep a working relationship with the Kurds by addressing key agreements yet to be fulfilled.
Currently, Abadi has not gained the full trust of Iraq’s Sunni population, who suffered in a post-2003 Iraq dominated by a Shiite-led government. Many Sunni tribes throughout the country have yet to join the fight against IS, especially in Anbar province, which is mostly controlled by IS and other Sunni militant groups. But this dynamic can change if Abadi’s administration is more attentive to Sunni needs during the fight against IS, offering a light at the end of the tunnel for not abandoning the government during the conflict. Granting more autonomy to Sunni provinces, for example, or freeing Sunni prisoners can achieve this. A truly inclusive Iraqi government with an army rebuilt to include Kurds and Sunnis is key to mitigating the Islamic State’s advance and ensuring its defeat.
This cannot happen without Abadi ending the sectarian policies of his predecessor that alienated mostly the Sunnis and Kurds, but some of the Shiites as well. 

Having nothing to report on that front, the State Dept's Brett McGurk busies himself Tweeting about bombings.


That's the number of violent deaths across Iraq that Margaret Griffis (Antiwar.com) counts for Tuesday.

Barack's been bombing Iraq since August.

Nothing's going to be accomplished with this.

The whole point of it was to create a space for a political solution to Iraq's crises.

But there's been no movement there.

Haider al-Abadi, prime minister of Iraq since August, has managed to enlarge the refugee crisis.  Today, the UNHCR issued a statement today which included:

The UN refugee agency on Tuesday reported that Iraqi civilians fleeing violence in Ramadi face numerous challenges, including dwindling resources, checkpoints, entry restrictions and security procedures to navigate on their journeys to safety.
An estimated 114,000 Iraqis have fled Ramadi, located in Iraq's restive Anbar province, over the past two weeks as conflict between government forces and extremists intensified. Of these, about 39,000 remain inside the province many unable to move further afield.

The crisis is real and is growing.  And maybe had he sent reinforcements to Ramadi last Wednesday instead of to the oil refinery in Baiji, the crisis would have not have grown and continued.

As we've already noted, Haider al-Abadi, prime minister of Iraq, has issued a rule that none of these refugees can enter Baghdad unless they have a "sponsor" in Baghdad.

Despite outcry from politicians -- in Parliament and ones on the Baghdad provincial council -- and despite Haider's office implying on Saturday that the policy had ceased, it has not ceased.

And you could argue it's now much worse:  Haider's said to be routing some of the refugees into Abu Ghraib prison.

So you've lost your home and you've had to flee for safety, you're nervous, you're scared and Haider's idea of 'comfort' is to provide you shelter . . . in Iraq's most notorious prison.

Ramadi is one of the most populated cities in Anbar Province.  The other is Falluja.

Civilians in Falluja learned Haider hadn't forgotten them today.

The Iraqi military continues its 15 month and counting campaign of bombing civilians homes in Falluja.  The latest daily attack?  Iraqi Spring MC reports 1 civilians and nineteen more are injured.

Yes, these bombings are legally defined War Crimes.

Yes, Haider al-Abadi announced September 13th that they had ended.

Yes, September 14th found the bombing continuing.

As it has ever since.

Haider's words never measure up to his actions.

In other news, the notorious Badr Brigade (thugs in a militia for the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq) have declared that they don't need US air support.  As we've noted before, Ammar al-Hakim, leader of ISCI, has long been considered a friend of the US government.  His public statements recently and those of the Badr Brigade make clear that a rift has taken place.

And, no, there are no real efforts by the State Dept to address that.