Monday, November 09, 2015

Iraq snapshot

Monday, November 9, 2015.  Chaos and violence continue, the US government continues dropping bombs on Iraq but makes plans to toss a few pennies for the lives of civilians they've killed, the six-month attempt to retake Ramadi remains a failure, a call emerges for Haider al-Abadi to resign as prime minister, and much more.

Starting with a Tweet:

  • So sad and heartbreaking at what's happening in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan with these never ending wars

  • Never-ending indeed.

    In the ongoing Iraq War, the US Defense Dept announced today:

    Strikes in Iraq

    Bomber, fighter, and attack aircraft conducted 11 strikes in Iraq, coordinated with and in support of Iraq’s government:

    -- Near Albu Hayat, two strikes struck two separate ISIL tactical units and destroyed two ISIL fighting positions.

    -- Near Kisik, two strikes struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed an ISIL fighting position and suppressed another fighting position.

    -- Near Mosul, one strike suppressed an ISIL mortar position.

    -- Near Ramadi, two strikes destroyed an ISIL heavy machine gun, an ISIL weapons cache, an ISIL building, an ISIL vehicle, and an ISIL fighting position.

    -- Near Sinjar, four strikes destroyed two ISIL command and control nodes, 12 ISIL fighting positions, and suppressed an ISIL rocket position.

    Today,  Press TV noted, "The Pentagon is ready to compensate the families of Iraqis killed by American bombs during US airstrikes against purported Daesh (ISIL) positions there, a new report says."  They're cribbing from Kate Brannen's Daily Beast report which notes:

    The Pentagon is about to get a $5 million fund to pay the Iraqi families of civilians killed by American airstrikes. It’s a big change for the U.S. military, which has yet to publicly acknowledge accidentally killing or wounding any innocents in the country even after 3,586 airstrikes targeting the so-called Islamic State.

    The US government, repeating "has yet to publicly acknowledge accidentally killing or wounding any innocents."

    But they do and now they've got the slush fund to toss a few pennies at the family members of the dead and wounded in an attempt to shut them up.  Justin Salhani (Think Progress) adds, "The number of casualties is also likely to increase in the coming weeks as the Obama administration steps up the air campaign against ISIS."

    What could finally end the Iraq War?

    Massive protests.

    In the meantime, some may hang their hopes on the US Congress.

    Amy Goodman (Democracy Now!) noted this morning, "A group of bipartisan House lawmakers are calling for Congress to vote on the escalating U.S. wars in Iraq and Syria. More than a year after the United States launched airstrikes against the self-proclaimed Islamic State, Congress has yet to vote on authorizing force. The Obama administration has controversially claimed their actions are covered by the 2001 congressional vote authorizing force against al-Qaeda. The open letter calling for a vote was signed by members of both parties, including Democratic Congressmembers Barbara Lee, Jim McGovern and John Lewis, and members of the right-wing Freedom Caucus. The lawmakers said they 'do not share the same policy prescriptions' but do share the belief it’s 'past time' for a vote on the wars."

    Goodman managed to put her meaty paw on the scales yet again -- while pretending to practice journalism.  Did you notice?  She gave three names.  All Democrats.

    We'll note this press release that US House Rep Tom Cole's office issued  on Friday:

    Nov 6, 2015

    Washington, D.C. – A broad, bipartisan coalition of 35 House lawmakers called on Speaker Ryan today to schedule and debate an Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF) as quickly as possible following the recent announcement by President Obama of a deepening entanglement in Syria and Iraq.
    The letter to Speaker Ryan is led by Representatives Jim McGovern (D-MA), Tom Cole, (R-OK), Barbara Lee (D-CA), Walter Jones (R-NC), Peter Welch (D-VT), and John Lewis (D-GA). 
    “Last week, the president announced [that] the U.S. will deploy a U.S. Special Operations contingent into northern Syria to be embedded with and to advise opposition militant forces in that region; and U.S. military advisors and special operations forces already in Iraq will be embedded with Kurdish and Iraqi forces on the front lines of combat,” the lawmakers wrote, calling the move part of “a significant escalation in U.S. military operations in the region” that places “U.S. military personnel on the front lines of combat operations.”
    “We do not share the same policy prescriptions for U.S. military engagement in the region, but we do share the belief that it is past time for the Congress to fulfill its obligations under the Constitution and vote on an AUMF that clearly delineates the authority and limits, if any, on U.S. military engagement in Iraq, Syria and the surrounding region,” the lawmakers added. 
    “Congress can no longer ask our brave service men and women to continue to serve in harm’s way while we fail in carrying out our constitutional responsibility in the area of war and peace,” the lawmakers concluded. “As long as the House fails to assert its constitutional prerogatives and authority, the Administration may continue to expand the mission and level of engagement of U.S. Armed Forces throughout the region. We strongly urge you, Mr. Speaker, to bring an AUMF to the floor of the House as quickly as possible.”
    Other Members signing the letter are Reps. Justin Amash (R-MI), Michael Burgess (R-TX), David Cicilline (D-RI), John Conyers (D-MI), Joe Crowley (D-NY), John Abney Culberson (R-TX), Peter A. DeFazio (D-OR), John J. Duncan, Jr. (R-TN), John Garamendi (D-CA), Paul A. Gosar (R-AZ), Janice Hahn (D-CA), Richard L. Hanna (R-NY), Joe Kennedy (D-MA), Daniel Kildee (D-MI), Raúl R. Labrador (R-ID), Thomas Massie (R-KY), Mick Mulvaney (R-SC), Beto O’Rourke (D-TX), Chellie Pingree (D-ME), Bill Posey (R-FL), Charles Rangel (D-NY), Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA), Matt Salmon (R-AZ), Mark Sanford (R-SC), Janice D. Schakowsky (D-IL), Louise Slaughter (D-NY), Ed Whitfield (R-KY), Ted S. Yoho (R-FL), and Ryan K. Zinke (R-MT).
    The full letter, sent today, can be found here.

    If they were to vote, it would be the first authorization for war Congress had voted on since 2002 when they voted to authorize the Iraq War.  Shira Schoenberg (MassLive) adds, "McGovern, an opponent of expanded use of military force in Iraq and Syria, previously introduced a resolution that would have required the U.S. to withdraw troops from Iraq and Syria and end U.S. airstrikes there."

    In the meantime, Operation Inherent Failure stumbles on.

    Mitchell Prothero (McClatchy Newspapers) offers a clear-eyed look at reality, one which opens:

     Iraqi forces’ hopes of recapturing the city of Ramadi from the Islamic State have stalled, largely because their efforts to cut resupply routes into the city of nearly 1 million have failed.
    Iraqi planners had hoped a cordon around the city, the capital of Anbar province, Iraq’s largest, would prevent the Islamic State from being able to prepare for a long siege. But local military commanders, residents and analysts say the Iraqi forces were unable to maintain the cordon and that the Islamic State has been able to resupply.
    Iraqi officials have announced a new operation to retake the city nearly every week since the Islamic State routed its defenders last spring. But despite the vows, it’s become clear that the government has neither the manpower nor the training to conduct an offensive in a huge city that remains packed with civilians. The Islamic State apparently has succeeded in keeping civilians from fleeing.

    Read more here:

    Some offer clear eyed truths, some offer xenophobia (with typo sprinkles):

  • US should never have entered Iraq at all! Let thise backwards countries manage themselves. #oil#bush

  • I'm sorry but Iraq is not a backward place.

    If you're unhappy with who is in charge?

    Guess what?

     So are the Iraqi people.

    Do you think they wanted to be ruled by Iraqi exiles who spent decades outside of Iraq but showed up after the US invasion and the US government made them 'leaders'?

    Or how about the 'brain drain'?

    The violence -- that the Bully Boy Bush White House encouraged (and that Barack Obama appears to encourage as well through the inept Operation Inherent Failure) -- led to what was labeled as the 'brain drain' -- Iraq's intellectuals, doctors, etc, leaving the country.

    And let's note the reality of the corruption of so many 'leaders' in Iraq that the US government has backed (and often installed).

    Related,  Susannah George (AP) reports at least 69 people have died from electrocution as flash floods met faulty wiring and poor construction. George notes:

    Many died in their homes as they waded through flooded first-floor rooms. Others, like the al-Qurayshi sisters, were electrocuted in the city streets where electrical lines are haphazard and jerry-rigged, connecting homes to the municipal grid and a network of generators. Most homes in Baghdad only receive nine to 14 hours of electricity a day from the government. While the rainy Iraqi winter has only just begun, this year's death toll is already higher than last year's, when fewer than 60 were killed by electrocution amid widespread floods.

    These were preventable deaths.

    The government should have ensured public safety.

    Instead of pouring money into the crumbling infrastructure, the officials stole the money time and again which is why Transparency International regularly ranks Iraq as one of the most corrupt governments in the world.

    The current government of Haider al-Abadi isn't seen as a great deal better than the previous government of thug Nouri al-Maliki.  The Huffington Post speaks to the governor of Kirku Najmaldin Karim who calls today for Haider to step down:

    "The time has come for Prime Minister Abadi to submit his resignation and form a new government of technocrats that he picks," Karim said, speaking at the headquarters of the Kurdistan Regional Government here. "He can pick among the Kurds, among the Arabs -- Sunni Arabs, among the [Shiites] -- among the minorities. He can do that. I think that's the only way you can say if Prime Minister Abadi is successful or a failure: if he picks his own ministers. But this way he can blame the parties."

    Protests against government mismanagement and corruption erupted in Iraq in August. Though Abadi initially capitalized on the public dissent to try and push through reforms unpopular among other politicians in the Shiite-dominated government, his opponents have since stymied those efforts at change -- and left the prime minister, seen by Washington and many analysts as the best hope for a united and stable Iraq, at a loss.

    With all that going on, some people can only whine about themselves and turn their tangental 'suffering' into the story of Iraq.

    Let's do a song dedication to certain (now) public people who ignore Iraq over and over except when they can continue their own personal grudge.  We get it.  The Bully Boy Bush administration outed you as an undercover spy.

    Guess what?

    It wasn't the end of your life.

    And Iraqis actually suffered and  continue to suffer in the Iraq War.  No one offered them big publishing advances (for a book that never sold) or hired Naomi Watts to play them in a box office failure.

    So maybe everything isn't always about you?

    And you can House and Garden
    Vogue and Glamour, Mademoiselle
    Well, I know you can Bitch and Screw
    And Penthouse just as well
    No, I don't expect humility
    But what about some good old
    Dishonest modesty?
    -- "Dishonest Modesty," written by Carly Simon and Zach Wiesner, first appears on Carly's ANOTHER PASSENGER

    Your efforts to make it all about you are about as successful as the 2010 film about your 'tragedy' was -- FAIR GAME failed at the box office and then some indicating that any good will had long ago been exhausted.  Valerie Plame should grasp that familiarity breeds contempt (see the growing backlash against Caitlin Jenner) and that she's become about as interesting a 'reality' TV star.  That's what happens when you don't give back and instead make everything about you.

    Turning to repulsion at a War Hawk, H.A. Goodman (Huffington Post) makes a case for Bernie Sanders by exploring how voters feel about Hillary Clinton:

    When under half of Democrats would "enthusiastically support" Clinton and 27% would only do so "because she is the nominee," even Democrats planning to vote for the former Secretary of State hold reservations.
    Then, there are 14% who will not support her in a general election; this figure could easily increase. Also, not only will a sizable percentage of Democrats refuse to vote for Clinton, but 57% of Americans find Clinton "not honest and trustworthy."
    In addition, Clinton's negative favorability ratings in 9 out of 10 national polls make her unelectable as a candidate in a general election. If you can name a presidential candidate in American history who voters both didn't trust and didn't like, I'd love to hear the name.
    Furthermore, recent polls showing Clinton ahead of Sanders by an astronomical figure target primarily landline telephones and also highlight the fact that even the landline telephone respondents don't trust or admire Clinton. Even in positive polls, there's enough evidence to show that Clinton is simply unelectable in a general election, and I explain why in this YouTube video.
    The truth is that Sanders defeats Trump by a wider margin than Clinton in a general election. 
    [. . .]
    When I wrote in The Cleveland Plain Dealer that Bernie Sanders Can Win, Sanders was at 21% support in the Democratic primary. Sanders is now at 31% support and polling trajectory shows him winning the Democratic nomination. And no, Biden votes shouldn't all go to Clinton. 

    And we'll close with this from the office of Senator Johnny Isakson, Chair of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee:

    Monday, November 9, 2015
    Contact: Amanda Maddox, 202-224-7777
    Lauren Gaydos, 202-224-9126

    Isakson to Hold Nomination Hearing for Department of Veterans Affairs Inspector General
    WASHINGTON The Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, chaired by U.S. Senator Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., will hold a nomination hearing on Tuesday, November 17, 2015, to consider the pending nomination of Michael J. Missal to be Inspector General of the Department of Veterans Affairs. 
    The hearing will be streamed online at Media planning to attend should RSVP to
    WHO:         Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs
    WHERE:   418 Russell Senate Office Building
    WHEN:      2:30 PM
                       Tuesday, November 17, 2015
    The Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs is chaired by U.S. Senator Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., in the 114th Congress.

    Isakson is a veteran himself – having served in the Georgia Air National Guard from 1966-1972 – and has been a member of the Senate VA Committee since he joined the Senate in 2005. Isakson’s home state of Georgia is home to more than a dozen military installations representing each branch of the military as well as more than 750,000 veterans.