Wednesday, December 02, 2015

Iraq snapshot

Wednesday, December 2, 2015.  Chaos and violence continue, Barack's broken promise on Iraq get's some press attention, US House Rep Beto O'Rourke asks what is success in the war on the Islamic State and how do we know when it ends, and much more.

Barack said he'd end the war in Iraq.  (More often, in his 2007 and 2008 stump speeches, he'd yell, "We want to end the war in Iraq!"  A line they were so impressed with, they featured it heavily in TV ads during the Democratic Party primaries of 2008.)

But then, he also swore he'd close Guantanamo.

And he promised to walk on that picket line.

But never did that either.

He swore he'd filibuster any bill, while he was still a US senator, that gave tech companies immunity from fines for 'helping' the government spy on a citizen without a warrant and he didn't keep that promise.

Not to mention that, as Jake Tapper (CNN) pointed out, this was the 7th year in a row that Barack broke his promise that he would use "genocide" to describe the Armenian genocide.

And his promise to be the sunshine president -- open and transparent?  Karen J. Greenberg (LOS ANGELES TIMES) explains:

Obama's self-professed aim was to restore trust between the people and their government by pledging to promote accountability and provide "information for citizens about what their government is doing." Toward that end, the president quickly released a number of previously classified documents from the Bush years on torture policy.
But that, as it happened, was the end of the sunshine. In the five years since, little of note has occurred in the name of transparency and much, including a war against whistle-blowers, has been pursued in the name of secrecy. The administration has also, even after Edward Snowden's devastating revelations, continued for the most part to defend the NSA's massive, secret, warrantless surveillance.

So are we really that surprised that the third and fourth term of Bully Boy Bush has broken yet another promise?

All those broken promises?

And all those promises
that you made and left behind
were filled with emptiness
You were never really mine
Every sweet caress
was just your second best
Broken promises

Baby, I'm amazed
at how long I still believed
How many lies it takes
before someone like me sees
All the tears you cry
never can deny
that you make love a lie
All the tears you cry
they never could deny
that you make love a lie
-- "All Those Promises," written by Janis Ian, appears on her album Folk Is The New Black

At yesterday's US House Armed Services Committee hearing, Secretary of Defense Ash Carter declared:

 Next, in full coordination with the government of Iraq, we're deploying a specialized, expeditionary targeting force to assist Iraqi and Kurdish Peshmerga forces and put even more pressure on ISIL.  These special operators will, over time, be able to conduct raids, free hostages, gather intelligence and capture ISIL leaders.   

Amy Goodman (DEMOCRACY NOW!) pimped and whored for Barack, destroyed her good name, used the 2009 inauguration as a fund raiser for her program, so it's not that surprising that she basically ignored this huge development, reducing it to a headline -- not even the headline:

Pentagon officials have announced the U.S. is deploying more special operations troops to Iraq and Syria. Speaking to Congress Tuesday, Defense Secretary Ashton Carter said the U.S. special forces are authorized to conduct raids, gather intelligence, free hostages and capture members of ISIS. He also said the troops would conduct unilateral operations inside Syria. 

Tom Bowman (NPR's ALL THINGS CONSIDERED) offered a more substantial report which clocked in at over three minutes and included US House Rep Barbara Lee's statement that, "The deployment of additional special operations forces to Iraq should be a wake-up call to Congress.  It's past time to hold a serious debate on the costs and consequences of yet another war in the Middle East."

It is past time for a serious debate and this should be a wake up call -- however, it's clearly meaningless to Amy Goodman so-called 'left' 'leader.'

We'll note Barbara Lee's statement in full:

Additional Troop Deployment Demands Congressional Action

Washington, DC – Yesterday, President Obama ordered the deployment of additional specialized “expeditionary” forces to Iraq and Syria. Congresswoman Barbara Lee released this statement:
“Everyone agrees that ISIL is a barbaric terrorist organization that must be degraded and dismantled. As this conflict expands, Congress must be actively involved in addressing ISIL.   
The deployment of additional special operations forces to Iraq should be a wake-up call to Congress – it’s past time to hold a serious debate on the costs and consequences of yet another war in the Middle East.
294 days ago, President Obama sent Congress a draft military authorization; it has remained on the Speaker’s desk ever since.
It is simply unacceptable.
Every day, this war escalates and more American troops are placed in harm’s way. Congress must live up to its constitutional duty to give the American people a voice on matters of war and peace.
National security experts are clear, there is no military solution to this conflict. Only a comprehensive, regionally-led strategy that addresses the underlying political, economic, diplomatic and humanitarian issues in the region will ultimately be effective.  
My legislation, H.J. Res. 30, lays out a comprehensive strategy while ending the blank checks for endless war that have allowed this conflict to escalate unchecked by Congress.
Congresswoman Lee is a member of the Appropriations and Budget Committees, the Steering and Policy Committee, is a Senior Democratic Whip, former chair of the Congressional Black Caucus and co-chair of the Progressive Caucus. She serves as chair of the Whip’s Task Force on Poverty and Opportunity.

WSWS treated Carter's announcement as real news with Niles Williamson and Thomas Gaist reporting:

Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter announced Tuesday that the US plans to deploy a new contingent of Special Forces to Iraq to carry out military operations against ISIS targets throughout the country as well across the border in Syria. The US ground force will include at least 200 commandos, according to an AFP report published late Tuesday.
Testifying before the House Armed Services Committee alongside Gen. Joseph Dunford, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Carter said a “specialized expeditionary targeting force” would be deployed to assist the Iraqi military and Kurdish Peshmerga forces in retaking territory from ISIS.
According to Carter, these soldiers will work with Iraqi and Kurdish forces to conduct raids, free hostages, gather intelligence and capture ISIS leaders throughout Iraq. They will also, Carter said, conduct “unilateral operations” in Syria. “We are at war,” he told the assembled House of Representatives members.

Dunford told the committee that the new force would increase the effectiveness of military operations in Iraq and Syria and accelerate the collection of intelligence on ISIS operations. “We’re fighting a campaign across Iraq and Syria so we’re going to go where the enemy is, and we’re going to conduct operations where they most effectively degrade the capabilities of the enemy,” he stated.

We covered the hearing in yesterday's snapshot -- emphasizing Carter's Iraq remarks, US House Rep Loretta Sanchez's line of questioning and US House Rep Walter Jones embarrassing himself.

Ann offered her thoughts on the hearing's big news in "Yeah, I blame Jill Stein," Stan offered his in "Thanks for screwing up TV, Barack," Marcia with "New and old" and Betty with "Barack's a damn liar."

And reporting on the hearing, Cedric's "Hank Johnson's sexual obsession with Barack" and Wally's "THIS JUST IN! HANK HIS JOHNSON!" covered US House Rep Hank Johnson wasting everyone's time to profess his strangely sexual obsession with Barack and Carter and Gen Joe Dunford refusing to indulge Johnson,  At Rebecca's site, Wally reported on Ranking Member Adam Smith  in "Even House Democrats are criticizing Saint Barack.(Wally)," at Trina's site Ava reported on the obsession with oil that was at the heart of the hearing in "It's still about the oil," Mike reported on US House Rep Niki Tsongas offering some realities about the so-called coalition in "US Armed Services Committee hearing offers a little bit of reality," Ruth reported on US House Rep John Kline's questioning which established that there was no cap on the number of US troops that could be in Iraq "Iraq still matters,"  Kat took on the surreal aspect with "The US just declared war on everyone but Santa," and Elaine covered one time anti-war US House Rep Jackie Speier making an idiot of herself in statements and dress with "The idiot Jackie Speier,"

    Today, we'll cover another exchange from the hearing.

    The Iraq War is the never-ending war.

    When does it end?

    That was an issue raised in Tuesday's hearing.

    US House Rep Beto O'Rourke: Mr. Secretary, if we are indeed at war, how will we know when we have won?

    Secretary Ash Carter:  The destruction of ISIL involves their destruction from any territory they claim to uh-uh claim to occupy and their destruction elsewhere around the world -- including their various branches and so forth -- that's the --

    US House Rep Beto O'Rourke: So as long as ISIL's in Iraq or Syria or Libya or Afghanistan or anywhere else in the world, we will still be at war?

    Secretary Ash Carter: I believe that in today's world uh-- One -- It -- uh -- These treats are difficult to confine to one place and that is the reason why we have to go there and why we have to go to Syria and Iraq and strike at it and strike at other places where it is.  It's in the nature of today's world: Mobility among people you see this underlying this and, above all, mobility of information which can radicalize people who've never gone anywhere except in there -- on their keyboard.

    US House Rep Beto O'Rourke:  I think it's important if we are at war to define the clearest and the most precise terms of what victory looks like.  With 15 years of Afghanistan in mind, with the fact that we've been in Iraq off and on since 2003 -- or you can take it all the way back to 1991, to keep us out of perpetual war, I think it's really important that we explicitly define the objectives and the outcomes for which we're fighting.  I think we owe that to our service members, I think we owe that to ourselves.  And I would hope that we could come up with a better definition of victory and success.  I appreciate that you acknowledge the importance of political and diplomatic components of a solution in Iraq or in Syria, but I'm interested in your response to a question asked by Mr. Gibson in terms of conditionality.  There's so much in those countries -- I'll just use Iraq as an example -- that we do not control, cannot control and will not be able to predict when it comes to the political outcomes and so when we say we are going to set conditions on our aid, when we say we are going to set conditions on our military presence, do we really mean that?  Is that a viable threat?  Will we really walk away from Iraq if the government there doesn't meet those conditions?  And I think that's an important question because if, in fact, we will not, then I wonder what the motivation is there for the Iraqi government to take the very important and very difficult steps to integrate these other minorities -- whether they be Kurds, whether they be Sunnis -- into a functioning government -- decentralized or otherwise?

    Secretary Ash Carter: Uh, first of all with respect to the first part of your question, uhm, the -- It -- The -- Your point gets back -- is exactly the military and the political going together.  In addition to the -- The only end state that involves the lasting defeat of ISIL is one in which there are -- whether there is local governance that cannot be once again supplanted by ISIL.  That's why once again the political and the military go together -- that's the heart of the strategy and that's why enabling committed, capable forces who can make victory stick is the other part of the definition of victory, critical --

    US House Rep Beto O'Rourke:  Yes.

    Secretary Ash Carter (Con't):  -- to the strategy. With respect to the leverage, I'll start there in Baghdad but the leverage involves offering to do more for those who are pursuing the same objectives and withholding our support from those who are taking a different path or not going down the path they're supposed to.  So we find alternatives, we find people that can act.  If-if-if the people that we're dealing with are not capable of -- because we have to act and we will find such forces that are capable.

    US House Rep Beto O'Rourke:  Very quickly, for General Dunford, what does ISIS want us to do and how does that factor into our strategy for confronting them.

    Gen Joe Dunfurd:  ISIS wants us to be impetuous right now as opposed to being aggressive and they would love nothing more than a large presence of US forces on the ground in Iraq and Syria so that they could have a call to jihad. 

    In Brussels today, US Secretary of State John Kerry was asked about Iraq.

    MR KIRBY: Our first question today will come from Arshad Mohammed from Reuters.

    QUESTION: Secretary Kerry, my question is about the fight against Islamic State both in Syria and Iraq. Leaving aside the British parliamentary vote today and the German commitments yesterday, what tangible commitments did you get from other NATO partners to fight Islamic State in Syria?
    And on Iraq, Prime Minister Abadi issued a fairly ambiguous statement yesterday about the planned U.S. Special Ops deployment, saying he didn’t see a need for ground troops, he would have to approve any deployments. Was he fully consulted about this? Would he have to approve movements of the Special Operations forces in Iraq? And can you live with those kinds of constraints?

    SECRETARY KERRY: Well, the answer – let me take the first part first. We’re very pleased with the efforts by Prime Minister Cameron to go to the parliament and to ask for the right for Great Britain to join us in striking against ISIL in Syria. This is a very important step. We applaud his leadership on it and I hope that the parliament will vote to grant that because it is important for the world to join together in this initiative, and we welcome Germany’s efforts. I just met with Foreign Minister Steinmeier who has just left here to go back to Berlin in order to speak to this issue in the Bundestag later today. And we welcome Germany’s efforts to contribute to this.
    Other nations are indeed stepping up and considering exactly what they will do. There are a number of countries, and I need to let them have the space to go back and speak to their parliaments and talk with their leadership. But they are committed to be helpful in various different ways. We have asked for the participation of special forces of people to provide police training; people to provide ammo, military assistance; people can provide enablers – there are various ways in which countries can contribute. They don’t have to necessarily be troops engaged in kinetic action. There are medical facilities, there are other assets that could be deployed, there is intelligence gathering, there is all kinds of support structures necessary to this kind of endeavor, whether it’s flying refueling or flying defensive. There are many things that countries can do. And a number of countries will leave here today prepared to go back to consult with their governments, and we will be in touch with them on a military-to-military basis as well as diplomatic basis in order to secure additional help in this effort.
    What I was impressed by, and in fact, moved by was the absolute broad-based understanding that Daesh represents not a threat just to Syria or to Jordan or to Turkey, Lebanon, but Daesh is now a proven reality and a threat throughout the world. Because any one person has the ability with the – with certain instructions, if they’re prepared to go die, to unfortunately do great harm in that process. And we’ve seen that in many different places. So we are all engaged in this effort. Countries can help us with traveler information, with exchange of information, and other kinds of security efforts and initiatives with respect to public events and security, travel, migration, and so forth. So we are anticipating that there will be a very constructive response to this, and over the days ahead.

    With respect to Iraq, the Government of Iraq was of course briefed in advance of Secretary Carter’s announcement. And we will continue to work very, very closely with our Iraqi partners on exactly who would be deployed, where they would be deployed, what kinds of missions people would undertake, how they would support Iraqi efforts to degrade and destroy ISIL. We have full and total respect and work with, for Prime Minister Abadi’s leadership. We work very closely with him. And we strongly support his efforts to restore Iraq’s sovereignty and territorial integrity against ISIL attacks, and I can assure you that as the plans are developed, it will be in full consultation and with the full consent of the Iraqi Government. And I have no doubt that this announcement should be viewed entirely in the context of what we have announced a year ago. It’s the same mission – not a different one – but we need to provide greater assistance in ways that meet with the Iraqis’ both consent and needs.

    Arshad Mohammed and Sabine Siebold (REUTERS) report on Kerry here.  Kerry's comments were raised in today's US State Dept press briefing moderated by spokesperson Mark Toner.


    QUESTION: Mark, can you clarify a statement that the Secretary made earlier today in Brussels? This was in reference to Iraq. He was asked specifically about Prime Minister Abadi’s comment about foreign ground combat troops not being needed in Iraq. And in his response, the Secretary mentioned having respect for the work of Prime Minister Abadi’s leadership and a close relationship with Iraqi partners, but he didn’t specifically address Abadi’s statement. So how exactly is the U.S. responding to what Abadi is saying about there not being a need for foreign ground combat forces in – on – in Iraq?

    MR TONER: Again, I don’t have Prime Minister Abadi’s statements in front of me, but my understanding is that he said any kind of deployment would have to be under – with the approval and with the coordination of the Iraqi Government and Iraqi military, Iraqi armed forces. And I think that Secretary Carter said as much in responding to a question on this last night, or he spoke to it – addressed it and said that absolutely, we are – excuse me – any additional forces that we would put into Iraq or on the ground in Iraq would be taken in full coordination with the Government of Iraq.

    QUESTION: So the U.S. does not believe that Iraq is against ground forces in spite of this statement, but just wants coordination – but Iraq is asking for coordination?

    MR TONER: That’s our assessment, yeah.

    QUESTION: But he was clear today that there are not a need for U.S. troops.

    MR TONER: Again, what’s – I just want to be clear on this and would refer you to the Department of Defense for any other details, but – because I don’t want to speak on behalf of them, but any steps, any additional troops that we would send into Iraq would obviously be done with the coordination of the Iraqi Government.

    QUESTION: On the word that they used, expeditionary force.

    MR TONER: Forgive me? I didn’t hear what you said.

    QUESTION: Expeditionary force. Is that – the term they used, expeditionary force. I mean, that takes us – that harkens back, like, to the Spanish-American War. I mean, this is – what does that mean, really?

    MR TONER: I can’t begin to – again, I’m going to refer you to the Department of Defense to elaborate on why that’s different than, for example, Special Operations Forces, but I’m sure there’s very clear lines drawn between the different aspects of them.

    We'll again note Scott Atran and Nafees Hamid's "Paris: The War ISIS Wants" was published by THE NEW YORK REVIEW OF BOOKS a few weeks ago.  From the essay:

    Indeed, ISIS’s theatrical brutality—whether in the Middle East or now in Europe—is part of a conscious plan designed to instill among believers a sense of meaning that is sacred and sublime, while scaring the hell out of fence-sitters and enemies. This strategy was outlined in the 2004 manifesto Idarat at Tawahoush (The Management of Savagery), a tract written for ISIS’s precursor, the Iraqi branch of al-Qaeda; tawahoush comes from wahsh or “beast,” so an animal-like state. Here are some of its main axioms:

    Diversify and widen the vexation strikes against the Crusader-Zionist enemy in every place in the Islamic world, and even outside of it if possible, so as to disperse the efforts of the alliance of the enemy and thus drain it to the greatest extent possible.
    To be effective, attacks should be launched against soft targets that cannot possibly be defended to any appreciable degree, leading to a debilitating security state:

    If a tourist resort that the Crusaders patronize…is hit, all of the tourist resorts in all of the states of the world will have to be secured by the work of additional forces, which are double the ordinary amount, and a huge increase in spending.
    Crucially, these tactics are also designed to appeal to disaffected young who tend to rebel against authority, are eager for for self-sacrifice, and are filled with energy and idealism that calls for “moderation” (wasatiyyah) only seek to suppress. The aim is

    to motivate crowds drawn from the masses to fly to the regions which we manage, particularly the youth… [For] the youth of the nation are closer to the innate nature [of humans] on account of the rebelliousness within them.
    Finally, these violent attacks should be used to draw the West as deeply and actively as possible into military conflict:

    Work to expose the weakness of America’s centralized power by pushing it to abandon the media psychological war and war by proxy until it fights directly.

    Eleven years later, ISIS is using this approach against America’s most important allies in Europe. 

    On this week's Law and Disorder Radio,  an hour long program that airs Monday mornings at 9:00 a.m. EST on WBAI and around the country throughout the week, hosted by attorneys Heidi Boghosian, Michael S. Smith and Michael Ratner (Center for Constitutional Rights), Nafees Hamid addressed the Paris attacks and his belief that the Islamic State's goal is "the eradication of the gray zone," forcing people to choose sides.  From the broadcast:

    Nafees Hamid: One goal is to polarize society -- is to make -- to convince Muslims that they just can't be happy in western lands, that they will always be second and third class citiznes, living in these areas, that they will always be persecuted, that the humanism of western ideals is just a fantasy, it's a lie.  And by creating those atacks, they want -- there's sort of this tacit alliance between hard right-wing groups and the Islamic State.  On the one hand every time an attack happens hard right-wing groups in France, for example the National Front, benefits from this.  It feeds into their narrative that, "Look, we have to not accept these Syrian refugees.  We have to close down our borders, we have to limit immigration, we have to have stricter laws in the banlieues where the majority of the people are Muslim, [. .. .]"  So it advances the far right cause and it polarizes society more and the hope of ISIS is that it pushes someone in the center into the hands of groups like ISIS>

    Heidi Boghosian:  We've read a lot about attemtps to appeal to so-called disaffected youth.  Would you say that is a primary target of this whole agenda?

    Nafees Hamid:  Yes.  But it's also important to know that disaffected youth -- It's not necesarrily that they're poor, for example.  When we think about disaffected youth, we often sometimes think of somebody who does not have a job, someone who is struggling economically.  And it's true that right now you see more people coming from in and out of prison and people who have  a little bit of a criminal background or are poor but historically that hasn't been the case.  And there are plent of people who are middle class, educated people who had career prospects.  Whereas like 20% of them don't even have an Islamic heritage at all -- they're converts.  So, yes, I would say disaffected and open to political consicousness.  As they ascribe in THE MANAGEMENT OF SAVAGERY that there's an inherent rebellion that we need to tap into rebelliousness -- a passion that exists in young people that we need to tap into.  And right now, many of those people in western culture are not feeling that way -- and it's not just jihadi movements.  It's sort of a little bit of a stereotype.  People wanting to find purpose and meaning in their life.  People wanting to have an impact feel like they can do more than just go get a job and have security in their life.  So this -- this spirit is kind of what they're trying to tap into.

    How does the US government address that?  Apparently, it doesn't.  But they did continue bombing Iraq today with the Defense Dept noting:

    Strikes in Iraq
    Attack, bomber, fighter, remotely piloted aircraft and rocket artillery conducted 15 strikes in Iraq, coordinated with and in support of Iraq’s government:

    -- Near Albu Hayat, one strike struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed an ISIL fighting position.

    -- Near Ramadi, nine strikes struck three ISIL tactical units and destroyed an ISIL mortar position, 10 ISIL fighting positions, an ISIL tactical vehicle, five ISIL heavy machine guns, two ISIL rocket-propelled grenade positions, an ISIL tunnel, an ISIL anti-tank position, an ISIL vehicle bomb, an ISIL staging location, two ISIL buildings, an ISIL command and control node, cratered an ISIL-used road, and denied ISIL access to terrain.

    -- Near Sinjar, one strike struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed an ISIL fighting position, an ISIL heavy machine gun, an ISIL vehicle, and an ISIL fighting position.

    -- Near Sultan Abdallah, two strikes struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed an ISIL mortar position, an ISIL fighting position, and suppressed an ISIL mortar position.

    -- Near Tal Afar, two strikes struck an ISIL tactical unit and an ISIL vehicle bomb facility and destroyed an ISIL vehicle.


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