Tuesday, July 07, 2015

Iraq snapshot

Tuesday, July 7, 2015.  Chaos and violence continue, Barack's 'facts' get challenged, Jill Stein links arms with Hillary Clinton to form Two Candidates Who Won't Talk Iraq, we note the shameful Iraq Body Count, the proposed law for Iraq's National Guard is published, and much more.

Yesterday, US President Barack Obama spun on Iraq.

Today, State Dept spokesperson John Kirby tried to re-spin when problems were noted with Barack's 'facts.'



QUESTION: Thank you. Just on the President’s statement yesterday at the Pentagon, he mentioned a number of battlefield victories in both Iraq and Syria. He actually pointed namely to seven areas. And what I noticed was that six out of those seven areas were in the northern regions of Iraq and Syria, where basically the Kurds are in control. Can you say the Kurds are your only effective partner on the ground?

MR KIRBY: What I can say is – and I’m not going to get into military analysis – is that when you have capable, effective partners on the ground against ISIL – indigenous partners on the ground – you can be much more effective against that group. We’ve seen that in parts of Iraq where – whether it’s Peshmerga up in the north or Iraqi Security Forces down in the south, when they are effective, they can have an immense impact on ISIL. And we have seen that in areas in northern Syria with counter-ISIL fighters there. And again, the President detailed some of that and I talked to some of that yesterday as well. They have been effective in certain places and at certain times.

QUESTION: And, like, the only example really he gave that was outside the Kurdistan regions was Tikrit, which was achieved with the help of Iranian-backed Shia forces. So can’t you --

MR KIRBY: No, that’s not true. He talked about --

QUESTION: What else?

MR KIRBY: -- Mosul Dam, he talked about --

QUESTION: Mosul Dam was with the Kurdish forces. It was --

MR KIRBY: He talked about – there’s been other – the Baiji refinery. I mean, there’s been other areas in Iraq. I know where you’re trying to go with this, and what I’m trying to tell you is that you need good partners on the ground. In Iraq, we’re building and we’re working towards helping advise and assist the Iraqi Security Forces so that they can become more capable. And in some ways and in some places and at some times in this fight, they have been very capable.

In the north in Iraq, of course, there’s been some assistance provided to the Peshmerga, as they have taken the fight to ISIL in northern Iraq. And yes, we have provided some coalition air support to counter-ISIL fighters in the north in Syria. And we’re still trying to get a program stood up to train and equip a moderate Syrian opposition. Now it’s going slow. We talked about this yesterday. I think we all recognize there’s a lot of work to be done. But the whole focus of that effort is to help create additional competent, effective, capable security forces inside Syria that can go after ISIL – could protect their neighborhoods, their communities, and go after ISIL.

Barack's speech led Mike to name him "Idiot of the week" and to note Barack claimed Baiji on the same  day Rudaw reported "Clashes resume in Baiji after 'great victory'."  Trina offered "Barack wants more war" which emphasized Thomas Gaist (WSWS) report:

Rather than attempt a legal justification for the war, which has been launched and prosecuted behind the backs of the American people and in defiance of popular opposition, Obama defended his administration’s war policies by boasting of the large kill count achieved by the US-led coalition.
“It’s important to recognize the progress that’s been made. We’ve eliminated thousands of fighters,” Obama said, underscoring the fact that it has become routine for the American president to speak of “killing” or “taking out” people around the world.
Obama reiterated the US goal of regime change in Syria, declaring that the US would do more to aid the anti-Assad opposition, and adding that “the only way” to end the civil war in that country was to “transition to an inclusive government” without Assad.
Noting that he had recently discussed the war against ISIS with Russian President Putin, Obama hinted that Putin was amenable to Washington’s plans to topple Assad.
He said that the US would step up its counterterrorism operations in countries “from Afghanistan to Nigeria.” This was a signal that Washington will continue its drone strikes, bombings, commando operations and other illegal actions in Yemen, Somalia, Afghanistan, Pakistan and other countries.
Obama devoted nearly half of his remarks to what he called the fight against terror threats within the United States. He said, ominously, that his administration was “partnering with Muslim communities” in the US and added that “we expect those communities to step up.” This was a thinly veiled justification for continuing government surveillance of the American people and other repressive measures, carried out under the pretext of “protecting the homeland.”
His remarks followed days of media scaremongering leading up to the Independence Day holiday on July 4. For several days, the networks led their news broadcasts with alarming reports of heightened terror threats, without producing a shred of evidence to substantiate their warnings, while acknowledging that the government had not detected any “credible, specific threats.”
Obama’s emphasis on the “war on terror” at home made clear that the relentless campaign of the government to sow fear and anxiety among the public in order to justify internal repression and external military aggression would continue unabated.

Rebecca noted how poorly Barack looked in "barack looks like s**t" while Kat pondered Barack's claims of "Success?" with Kat concluding:

Today really was Barack's "MISSION ACCOMPLISHED" moment.
Did anyone notice?

Barack's speech was offensive and insulting on so many levels.

This included his conclusion:

In closing, let me note that this Fourth of July we celebrated 239 years of American independence.  Across more than two centuries, we’ve faced much bigger, much more formidable challenges than this -- Civil War, a Great Depression, fascism, communism, terrible natural disasters, 9/11.  And every time, every generation, our nation has risen to the moment.  We don’t simply endure; we emerge stronger than before.  And that will be the case here.  
Our mission to destroy ISIL and to keep our country safe will be difficult.  It will take time.  There will be setbacks as well as progress.  But as President and Commander-in-Chief, I want to say to all our men and women in uniform who are serving in this operation -- our pilots, the crews on the ground, our personnel not only on the ground but at sea, our intelligence teams and our diplomatic teams -- I want to thank you.  We are proud of you, and you have my total confidence that you’re going to succeed.  
To the American people, I want to say we will continue to be vigilant.  We will persevere.  And just as we have for more than two centuries, we will ultimately prevail.  

He wants to thank the military but not the American people at large?

He wouldn't have a job if it weren't for the American people at large.

He's just another War Hawk who never wore a uniform or carried a gun but wants to pretend like that's the only way to measure patriotism.

We could offer the fear examples but I really don't care to promote his scare tactics.

When Bully Boy Bush pulled this sort of thing, he would be mocked and called out.

We no longer live in such a world.

That became clear over the weekend when the dreadful Jill Stein announced she was seeking the Green Party's presidential nomination -- presumably so she could damage the party even more than she did in her 2012 run.

As we noted at Third, "Editorial: The endless joke that is Jill Stein."

Stein used her announcement speech to take a strong stand against . . .

talking about Iraq.

In her silence on the topic, she linked arms with Hillary Clinton, the only other candidate who can't and won't talk about Iraq.

That's who should be the presidential nominee?

March 10, 2008, the Green Party issued a statement which included:

WASHINGTON, DC -- Green Party leaders today compared the Green demand for an immediate end to the occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan to the pro-occupation positions of the Democratic and Republican presidential candidates.

Greens said that party members supported protests planned by International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) locals on the west coast on May 1, 2008.

"Along with the election of Greens to Congress, actions like those planned by ILWU members are what we need to force the immediate withdrawal of US troops from Iraq and Afghanistan," said Rodger Jennings, Green candidate for the US House in Illinois (District 12) <http://www.rodgerjennings.org>. "The longshore workers intend to press Democratic and Republican presidential candidates to change their warhawk positions. Like the Green Party, the ILWU has opposed both of President Bush's wars from the beginning."

The text of the ILWU's February 26, 2008 resolution can be read here <http://www.labournet.net/docks2/0802/ilwu1may1.htm>. The ILWU letter to the AFL-CIO can be read here <http://www.labournet.net/world/0802/ilwu1may2.html>.

The Green Party of the United States has called for immediate troop withdrawal and impeachment of President Bush and Vice President Cheney for numerous crimes and abuses of power, including deception and manipulated intelligence to justify the invasion of Iraq. Greens also favor a sharp reduction in the military budget, shifting funds over to health care, conservation programs, efforts to curb global warming, and other urgent needs.

"While Democrats have retreated, our own Green presidential candidates -- Jesse Johnson, Cynthia McKinney, Kent Mesplay, and Kat Swift -- have aggressively promoted the Green Party's position on the wars and on impeachment," said Dr. Julia Willebrand, co-chair of the Green Party's International Committee <http://www.gp.org/committees/intl>.

Democratic candidates Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama have promised to pull 'combat' troops, but would leave thousands of US military personnel and contractors, including mercenary security firms, in Iraq to prolong the illegal occupation. Republican John McCain would maintain the Bush policy that would extend the occupation for several generations, bankrupting America both morally and fiscally.

On other war-related issues, Ms. Clinton, Mr. Obama, and Mr. McCain agree (while Greens hold contrary positions):

Jill Stein's speech was racially tone deaf and insulting.  A White woman, her former running mate in 2012, is going to speak for African-Americans?

Thanks to so many in this room who are leading the charge - to Cheri Honkala for lifting the voices of black, brown and poor people in the fight for economic justice [. . .]

And as Ava has repeatedly noted, Brown people?

Who is okaying this as a term to call Latinos and Hispanics because there was no vote taken on the matter?

And because what crayons do we next pull from the box to describe Asian-Americans and Native Americans and Arab-Americans?

"Black" has a long and proud history in the African-American community -- Black Is Beautiful, Black Power, Black Panthers, etc.

But "Brown" really does seem to be imposed on the Latino community by a number of Anlgo White activists.

At any rate, it's unclear how White Anglo Cheri is "lifting the voices" of African-Americans or Latinos?

Equally unclear is how that became her 'job'?

Cheri and Jill ran an uninspiring non-campaign in 2012 that did much to drive Greens away from the party.

Ava and I noted Jill's campaign failures immediately after the election in "Let The Fun Begin."  Jill has done nothing to address those criticisms.

This go round, she does appear willing to take on Hillary.

As Stan noted of Jill in "The White Bitch Cometh," her entire reason for campaigning appears to be in order to engage in a sexist catfight with Hillary Clinton.  (And, as he also noted, her attacks on Hillary only make the larger voting pool sympathetic to Hillary.)

In a speech consisting of over 1400 words, Jill Stein never found -- or made -- the time to note Iraq.

Again from that 2008 Green Party press release:

"While Democrats have retreated, our own Green presidential candidates -- Jesse Johnson, Cynthia McKinney, Kent Mesplay, and Kat Swift -- have aggressively promoted the Green Party's position on the wars and on impeachment," said Dr. Julia Willebrand, co-chair of the Green Party's International Committee <http://www.gp.org/committees/intl>.

So why is it that Jill Stein 'deserves' the party's nomination.

Kat Swift or Kent Mesplay or Jess Johnson would all be a strong choice.  

(I would have no problem with 2008's nominee Cynthia McKinney running again but due to her experiences in 2008, I seriously doubt she would.)

And Kat, Kent and Jess have put in their time.

Jill really is the 'Green' Hillary Clinton.

She's coming in with a sense of entitlement, insisting she's the only choice.

It's amazing how the Democratic Party's 'little sister' can't stop emulating it.

In the Iraq that Jill Stein's 'beautiful mind' (she's so Barbara Bush) can't be bothered with, Margaret Griffis (Antiwar.com) counts 231 violent deaths on Tuesday alone.

Today, Pierre Bienaime (CJR) explores the issue of deaths in Iraq and specifically the infamous Iraq Body Count.  Among other things, the report allows people to once again note Nafeez Ahmed's  "How the Pentagon is hiding the dead" (Medium):

In this exclusive investigation, Insurge Intelligence reveals that a leading anti-war monitoring group, Iraq Body Count (IBC), is deeply embedded in the Western foreign policy establishment. IBC’s key advisers and researchers have received direct and indirect funding from US government propaganda agencies and Pentagon contractors. It is no surprise, then, that IBC-affiliated scholars promote narratives of conflict that serve violent US client-regimes and promote NATO counter-insurgency doctrines.
IBC has not only systematically underrepresented the Iraqi death toll, it has done so on the basis of demonstrably fraudulent attacks on standard scientific procedures. IBC affiliated scholars are actively applying sophisticated techniques of statistical manipulation to whitewash US complicity in violence in Afghanistan and Colombia.
Through dubious ideological alliances with US and British defense agencies, they are making misleading pseudoscience academically acceptable. Even leading medical journals are now proudly publishing their dubious statistical analyses that lend legitimacy to US militarism abroad.
This subordination of academic conflict research to the interests of the Pentagon sets a dangerous precedent: it permits the US government to control who counts the dead across conflicts involving US interests — all in the name of science and peace.

And money.  Don't forget money.

Oh, most did.

Let's drop back to the June 26, 2014 snapshot:

Through yesterday, Iraq Body Count counts 1681 deaths from violence in Iraq so far this month.  And --

Oh, goodness.  Only 1681?

I'm the biggest liar in the world!  I'm the biggest bitch!  I've said the count was at 3,000 and clearly I'm just a damn liar.

See, here's a screen snap of the count.

What a damn liar I am!

Oh, wait.

I'm not.

I pay good money for information.  So today when Martha told me an e-mail came in saying take a screensnap of IBC's count immediately and explained why, I told her to reply that I would be hitting their pay pal account with a generous thank you.

Here's the count minutes before IBC changed it.

No, I didn't lie.

But I'm told -- and paid for this information -- that IBC lowered the count under pressure from US officials.

I paid for it so I'll damn well repeat it.

And Iraq Body Count may not like that charge being exposed; however, when you drop a count from 3211 to 1681, don't think no one will catch you.

I'm sure they'll now try to come out with some alternate reason.

But I believe what I was told.  That source has been consistently honest.

More to the point, why does IBC drop their count by nearly half with no note?  Why do they try to hide what they did?

I am told Iraq Body Count was under pressure from US officials to drop their count and agreed to.  That's what I believe happened but I can't wait to hear the fairy tale IBC intends to offer the world -- and, tip, be sure your lie includes a reason for not explaining at your site that you dropped the count.

IBC never offered a reason for their actions.

They probably thought it would just fade away.

But it didn't.

And it's part of many examples of how the 'independent' IBC actually answers to the US government and does their bidding.

Today,  Alsumaria published the text for the bill on the National Guard.  The proposed law does note the Sons Of Iraq (Sahwa, "Awakenings" -- a largely Sunni body) as well as tribal fighters, it notes the Shi'ite militias as well.  As written those groupings would be allowed to join the National Guard.  In terms of arms, the law declares the group would be more heavily armed than the federal police but less than the Iraqi army.  It goes into commissions and, as I'm reading it, Sunnis might have difficulty of meeting the criteria since they've been shut out of the process and might not have the one year qualification to be made a Major General.  The Guard itself is put under the Prime Minister in his/her role as Commander in Chief.

Article 13 outlines some general requirements which include:

* Both parents must be Iraqi

* volunteer must be at least 18

* permanent volunteers cannot be older than 35 and reserve volunteers cannot be older than 45

* must meet medical requirements (pass physical)

* no felony conviction (or misdemeanor on moral turpitude)

In yesterday's snapshot, we again noted the failure of the Parliament to pass the National Guard bill (while they did make time to vote on a new national anthem). National Iraqi News Agency notes that, in addition to the National Guard bill, they also failed to pass a law regarding the Federal Court as well as one regarding the justice and accountability commission.