Tuesday, October 06, 2015

Iraq snapshot

Tuesday, October 6, 2015.  Chaos and violence continue, Tony Blair lies again, Alice Fordham and NPR offer some truth telling, and much more.

War Criminal Tony Blair emerged from beneath the rock he's been living to impart some of the stupidity and blood lust that's condemned him to his own personal hell.

Jewish News reports of Blair:

Speaking to Rabbi David Wolpe  – named the most influential rabbi in America by Newsweek magazine – the former prime minister, said: “We can apologise for the mistakes, but in the end we got rid of Saddam Hussein… Once you get rid of the tyrants, you get competition between Islamists and more moderate groups.”

Saddam Hussein is gone, War Criminal Tony Blair remains -- though Arrest Blair might be able to address that.

Saddam Hussein's actions and crimes did not lead Iraq to the brink of extinction.

Tony Blair's actions -- along with Bully Boy Bush's actions and John Howard's action -- destroyed Iraq.

He seems to think that as long as he points to Saddam, his own guilt vanishes.

It doesn't work that way.

And destruction is not a 'mistake.'  It's a crime.

Lies used to launch a war also don't go to character or nobility.

Tony Blair's a cheap thug who should stand trial at the Hague.

And Saddam Hussein was contained and not a threat to other nations.

Just War theory allows for no war on Iraq.

Tony's a criminal who wants to paint himself as a hero.

It's not an identity the world's prepared to pin on him.

His actions brought down the Labour Party in England.

He's despised around the globe.

And every time he tries to lie his way out, it only reminds people just how much they loathe him.

In fairness, others are also responsible for Iraq.

That list includes Barack Obama.

Liars and whores -- is there really a difference anymore -- work overtime to pretend otherwise.

And they probably fool an ignorant American public that's depended on the US media -- which largely withdrew from Iraq at the end of 2008 -- to inform them of reality.

At Huffington Post, Libertarian Doug Bandow, at best, sports ignorance, and, at worst, flat out lies:

Bush continued to support the Maliki government even as it ruthlessly targeted Sunnis, setting the stage for Iraq's effective break-up. In 2007 U.S. military adviser Emma Sky wrote of the U.S. military's frustration "by what they viewed as the schemes of Maliki and his inner circle to actively sabotage our efforts to draw Sunnis out of the insurgency." Al-Qaeda in Iraq survived, mutating into the Islamic State. The Bush administration then became one of the Islamic State's chief armorers when Iraqi soldiers fled before ISIS forces, abandoning their expensive, high-tech weapons which U.S. aircraft had to destroy last year.
Third, President Bush failed to win Iraqi approval of a continuing U.S. military presence and governing Status of Forces Agreement. With Americans ready to leave and Iraqis determined to move on, Bush planned an American exit. Retired Army Chief of Staff Gen. Raymond Odierno explained: "us leaving at the end of 2011 was negotiated in 2008 by the Bush administration. And that was always the plan, we had promised them that we would respect their sovereignty." Indeed, while Republican candidates now treat this departure as a failure--Jeb Bush proclaimed "that premature withdrawal was the fatal error"--attempting to stay would have been much worse. Washington would have had leverage only by threatening to withdraw its garrison, which the Maliki government desired. U.S. troops would have had little impact on Iraqi political developments, unless augmented and deployed in anti-insurgency operations, which Americans did not support. And a continuing military occupation would have provided radicals from every sectarian viewpoint with a target. 

First off, Odierno's comments conflict with others.  When a conflict occurs, you tend to go with the people who were actually in the room.  Odierno did not take part in the negotiations.  Brett McGurk, Condi Rice and others -- who were actually involved in the negotiations (this was a diplomatic effort, not a military one) -- have stated differently and they are correct.

Not only were they in the room but their remarks are also accurate based on the public record.

Bully Boy Bush negotiated the SOFA for three years.  Why three years?

It replaced the United Nations mandate.

That provided the legal cover for the US troops to be in Iraq.

The UN mandate had been a yearly agreement.

At the end of 2006, Nouri signed off on it for another year.

The Iraqi Parliament was furious.

Nouri promised he would get their approval next time.

At the end of 2007, he did not.

It was becoming a political issue.

For that reason, the agreement was a three year agreement.

(And don't forget that Barack tried to extend it.)

That's the reality.

Reality is hard for Doug Barlow so he lies, "Bush continued to support the Maliki government even as it ruthlessly targeted Sunnis, setting the stage for Iraq's effective break-up."

The ruthless targeting?

You mean in 2010?

After Nouri's secret torture prisons were exposed?

But Barack, Joe Biden and Samantha Power demanded Nouri continue as prime minister?

Even after Nouri lost the election to Ayad Allawi?

Is that what liar Doug Bandow means?

Is that what the cheap, little hustler means?

I'm not seeing any world leaders with cleans hands when it comes to Iraq.

I also think it's less than honest when Barlow cites Emma Sky's book --  The Unraveling: High Hopes and Missed Opportunities in Iraq. -- and portrays Odierno as supporting US troops leaving at the end of 2011 when Sky notes on page 311, "He believed twenty thousand or so US troops were needed to say in Iraq in post-2011 to train Iraqi security forces and to provide the psychological support to maintain a level of stability.  He envisaged a long-term strategic partnership between the two countries."

Doug Bandow will most likely get away with his lie because the American media has ignored Iraq and even should Emma Sky's book sell a million copies domestically -- and be hugely popular at public and school libraries -- it still won't reach most Americans.

Charlie Rose has never brought Emma Sky on his program to discuss the book.

In part because he can't handle the truths she tells and in part because he's so strongly anti-woman.

In Canada, she can get on TV and radio.  Let's again note her August appearance on Kevin Sylvester's This Sunday Edition (CBC).  Let's excerpt the section on the 2010 election -- when Barack's president and Nouri loses.  Wasn't Bully Boy Bush who "continued to support the Maliki government even as it ruthlessly targeted Sunnis, setting the stage for Iraq's effective break-up" then.

Emma Sky: And that national election was a very closely contested election. Iraqis of all persuasions and stripes went out to participate in that election.  They'd become convinced that politics was the way forward, that they could achieve what they wanted through politics and not violence.  To people who had previously been insurgents, people who'd not voted before turned out in large numbers to vote in that election.  And during that election, the incumbent, Nouri al-Maliki, lost by 2 seats.  And the bloc that won was a bloc called Iraqiya led by Ayad Allawi which campaigned on "NO" to sectarianism, really trying to move beyond this horrible sectarian fighting -- an Iraq for Iraqis and no sectarianism.  And that message had attracted most of the Sunnis, a lot of the secular Shia and minority groups as well.

Kevin Sylvester:  People who felt they'd been shut out during Maliki's regime basically -- or his governance.

Emma Sky:  Yes, people that felt, you know, that they wanted to be part of the country called Iraq not -- they wanted to be this, they wanted Iraq to be the focus and not sect or ethnicity to be the focus.  And Maliki refused to accept the results.  He just said, "It is not right."  He wanted a recount.  He tried to use de-Ba'athification to eliminate or disqualify some Iraqiya members and take away the votes that they had gained.  And he just sat in his seat and sat in his seat.  And it became a real sort of internal disagreement within the US system about what to do?  So my boss, Gen [Ray] Odierno, was adamant that the US should uphold the Constitutional process, protect the political process, allow the winning group to have first go at trying to form the government for thirty days.  And he didn't think Allawi would be able to do it with himself as prime minister but he thought if you start the process they could reach agreement between Allawi and Maliki or a third candidate might appear who could become the new prime minister. So that was his recommendation.

Kevin Sylvester:   Well he even calls [US Vice President Joe] Biden -- Biden seems to suggest that that's what the administration will support and then they do a complete switch around.  What happened?

Emma Sky:  Well the ambassador at the time was a guy who hadn't got experience of the region, he was new in Iraq and didn't really want to be there.  He didn't have the same feel for the country as the general who'd been there for year after year after year.

Kevin Sylvester:  Chris Hill.

Emma Sky:  And he had, for him, you know 'Iraq needs a Shia strongman. Maliki's our man.  Maliki's our friend.  Maliki will give us a follow on security agreement to keep troops in country.'  So it looks as if Biden's listening to these two recommendations and that at the end Biden went along with the Ambassador's recommendation.  And the problem -- well a number of problems -- but nobody wanted Maliki.  People were very fearful that he was becoming a dictator, that he was sectarian, that he was divisive. And the elites had tried to remove him through votes of no confidence in previous years and the US had stepped in each time and said, "Look, this is not the time, do it through a national election."  So they had a national election, Maliki lost and they were really convinced they'd be able to get rid of him.  So when Biden made clear that the US position was to keep Maliki as prime minister, this caused a huge upset with Iraqiya.  They began to fear that America was plotting with Iran in secret agreement.  So they moved further and further and further away from being able to reach a compromise with Maliki.  And no matter how much pressure the Americans put on Iraqiya, they weren't going to agree to Maliki as prime minister and provided this opening to Iran because Iran's influence was way low at this stage because America -- America was credited with ending the civil war through the 'surge.'  But Iran sensed an opportunity and the Iranians pressured Moqtada al-Sadr -- and they pressured him and pressured him.  And he hated Maliki but they put so much pressure on to agree to a second Maliki term and the price for that was all American troops out of the country by the end of 2011.  So during this period, Americans got outplayed by Iran and Maliki moved very much over to the Iranian camp because they'd guaranteed his second term.

Kevin Sylvester:  Should-should the Obama administration been paying more attention?  Should they have -- You know, you talk about Chris Hill, the ambassador you mentioned, seemed more -- at one point, you describe him being more interested in putting green lawn turf down on the Embassy in order to play la crosse or something.  This is a guy you definitely paint as not having his head in Iraq.  How much of what has happened since then is at the fault of the Obama administration?  Hillary Clinton who put Chris Hill in place? [For the record, Barack Obama nominated Chris Hill for the post -- and the Senate confirmed it -- not Hillary.]  How much of what happens -- has happened since -- is at their feet?

Emma Sky:  Well, you know, I think they have to take some responsibility for this because of this mistake made in 2010.  And Hillary Clinton wasn't very much involved in Iraq.  She did appoint the ambassador [no, she did not] but she wasn't involved in Iraq because President Obama had designated Biden to be his point-man on Iraq and Biden really didn't have the instinct for Iraq. He very much believed in ancient hatreds, it's in your blood, you just grow up hating each other and you think if there was anybody who would have actually understood Iraq it would have been Obama himself.  You know, he understands identity more than many people.  He understands multiple identities and how identities can change.  He understands the potential of people to change. So he's got quite a different world view from somebody like Joe Biden who's always, you know, "My grandfather was Irish and hated the British.  That's how things are."  So it is unfortunate that when the American public had enough of this war, they wanted to end the war.  For me, it wasn't so much about the troops leaving, it was the politics -- the poisonous politics.  And keeping Maliki in power when his poisonous politics were already evident was, for me, the huge mistake the Obama administration made. Because what Maliki did in his second term was to go after his rivals.  He was determined he was never going to lose an election again.  So he accused leading Sunni politicians of terrorism and pushed them out of the political process.  He reneged on his promises that he'd made to the tribal leaders who had fought against al Qaeda in Iraq during the surge. [She's referring to Sahwa, also known as Sons of Iraq and Daughters of Iraq and as Awakenings.]  He didn't pay them.  He subverted the judiciary.  And just ended up causing these mass Sunni protests that created the environment that the Islamic State could rear its ugly head and say, "Hey!"  And sadly -- and tragically, many Sunnis thought, "Maybe the Islamic State is better than Maliki."  And you've got to be pretty bad for people to think the Islamic State's better. 

That's Barack, that's on Barack.

Again, I don't believe any leader's hands are blood free when it comes to Iraq.

I certainly don't believe Jill Stein's hands are blood free.

She ran an embarrassing campaign in 2012 for president.  She was the Green Party nominee and she offered mild criticism of Barack but went after Mitt Romney (the GOP nominee) like crazy -- especially after Barack lost a debate to Mitt.

She didn't run a campaign, she acted like the kid sister to the Democratic Party.

As September drew to a close, Tim Arango (New York Times) reported that the US had just sent in a Special-Ops division into Iraq:

Iraq and the United States are negotiating an agreement that could result in the return of small units of American soldiers to Iraq on training missions. At the request of the Iraqi government, according to General Caslen, a unit of Army Special Operations soldiers was recently deployed to Iraq to advise on counterterrorism and help with intelligence.  

Mitt and Barack were arguing over Iraq with each, frankly, lying through their teeth.

Jill Stein didn't even raise the issue or point to the New York Times report to discredit or question Barack (or point out that Mitt was wrong in his charges).

Jill was worthless, a lousy candidate.

And she's another Hillary Clinton.

She thinks she's owed the Green Party's 2016 nomination.

And liars in the press help her.

The Green Party will not select their nominee until the summer of 2016.

She is among those running for the nomination.

And her cult has done their best to pretend she has the nomination and bully other candidates into backing down.

But she can't fight for anything but her own vanity.

Where was Jill when Barack was bombing Libya?

"Where was Jill?" should be the rallying cry of her opponents because she was never anywhere to be found.

By contrast, I know where Cynthia McKinney was.

She was publicly objecting to war on Libya.

Looking at the state of Libya today, she was right.

Cynthia was the 2008 Green Party presidential nominee and she is weighing rather or not to seek the nomination in 2016.

Cynthia's a fighter, Jill's not.

That probably goes a long, long way towards explaining all the fawning press Jill's been getting.

That and the fact that she offers tidy bromides as opposed to penetrating analysis or real criticism.

Where's her critique of Operation Inherent Failure, for example?

Pravda notes, "According to Italian newspaper Corrierre della Sera, Italy will start bombing terrorists in Iraq in the next few hours. Italy will launch the operation only after all the details are coordinated with the US command."  

Jill's got no statement on Iraq at her website.

She's got nothing.

This as Alice Fordham reports today for NPR's Morning Edition (link is text and audio  and transcript)..

Fordham sketches out an Iraq plagued by shortage of supplies -- not just guns for recruits but also boots --  and funds with Sunni tribes ready to fight but forced to the sidelines and Ramadi still held by the Islamic State.

She quotes Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi expressing his disappointment over what the US has offered -- he thought it would be more.

A key section of her report is this:

FORDHAM:  To get an idea of what's going to be needed, I meet a soldier who's been fighting close to Ramadi.


FORDHAM: He won't give his name because he's afraid of his commanders but tells me it's not like the government or coalition isn't doing anything. He recently had American training, and they armed his unit, too.

UNIDENTIFIED SOLDIER: (Through interpreter) They transfer us to Ramadi. We spent two days there. We liberated from 30 to 40 kilometers.

FORDHAM: Liberated the outskirts from ISIS, that is. And following heavy casualties, reinforcements arrived. But he says the officers are still a problem.


FORDHAM: They take bribes to let people go on leave and flee themselves as soon as the battle heats up. Food and water are scarce. Plus, he too says ISIS just has way more men and weapons and uses devastating car bombs in battle.
How long do you think before Ramadi is retaken?

UNIDENTIFIED SOLDIER: (Through interpreter) Ramadi retaken will last from seven to eight years.

Again, it's Operation Inherent Failure.

People might try paying attention.

The call for US troops to be sent into Iraq in larger numbers will only grow.  Those of us opposed to it now should be taking a stand now.

The US State Dept issued the following today:

Media Note
Office of the Spokesperson
Washington, DC
October 6, 2015
Special Presidential Envoy for the Global Coalition to Counter ISIL General John Allen arrived in Baghdad, Iraq today to meet with senior Iraqi government and security officials. During his meetings with Iraqi officials, General Allen will discuss the Coalition’s continued support for Iraqi-led efforts to degrade and defeat ISIL, as well as recent developments in the region.

In some of today's violence, Alsumaria reports 2 dead in a Falluja clash, 2 corpses were discovered in the streets of Baghdad (dead from gunshot wounds), and an armed attack outside of Baghdad left a dentist dead.