Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Iraq snapshot

Tuesday, February 23, 2016.  Chaos and violence continue, Iraq continues to be an issue in the 2016 US presidential race, corruption continues in Iraq, and much more

In the 2016 US presidential race, Iraq remains an issue -- much to frustration of Hillary Clinton who, as  a US Senator, voted for the war and supported it throughout most of her years in the Senate.

  • she defend mass murderer Kissinger instead of Iraqi women & girls who now being tortured by isil thx 2 her vote 4 Iraq war.
  • Hillary should beg for forgiveness from the families who lost loved ones in the Iraq war she voted for.

  • “I am happy to admit that voting for Iraq War and the Patriot Act was a mistake when everybody else does the same"

  • Of course, when forced to comment, Hillary calls her vote for the Iraq War a "mistake."  To that,
    Ben Tanosborn (RUSSIA INSIDER) offers:

    Time and time again we, Americans, keep referring to the invasion of Iraq in 2003 as a mistake; almost in unanimity: Democrats and Republicans.  But it was not a mistake, not by a long shot!  It was a calculated, belligerent act by a government clique of elitist war-hawks, Bush-Junior and Dick Cheney at the top of the criminal heap.  Fortunately for these American leaders, and unfortunately for the rest of us, only leaders from nations vanquished are indicted and go to trial.  If the Axis had prevailed in World War II, and we were living in Hitler’s Millennium, there would not have been those Nuremberg Trials (1945-9), or the subsequent enactment of important, critical international law, such as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948), or the Geneva Convention (1949).  No, no gallows for Bush and Cheney… only admiration from fools!
    [. . .]
    Yes; Hillary Rodham Clinton, former First Lady, Senator and Secretary of State constantly invokes her extensive experience in affairs of state as strongly qualifying her for the White House; yet her vast experience follows for the most part decisions with bad judgment… bad experience which in my book is counterproductive to that required from a prospective good and effective leader. 

    Meanwhile, Paul Rosenberg (SALON) takes Cranky Clinton to task for the sliming she and her supporters are giving her rival US Senator Bernie Sanders who stood against the war:

    But we’ve also seen a predictable Clinton emphasis on foreign policy, taking aim at Sanders’ comparatively meager record—as we saw in the PBS debate in Milwaukee [transcript]—and trying to portray it as utterly disqualifying, rather than as yet another reflection of a profound elite/mass divide, symbolized by their starkly different views of elite elder statesman Henry Kissinger.
    However, such a move also requires a massive case of amnesia—above and beyond her palling around with Henry Kissinger, that is—for Clinton’s hawkish differences with Obama as well as Sanders.  It’s not just her Iraq War vote we’re talking about. Sanders is also far more in tune with Obama’s willingness to negotiate with enemies—a formerly bipartisan posture that traces back to John F. Kennedy (“Let us never negotiate out of fear, but let us never fear to negotiate”) as well as Teddy Roosevelt (“Speak softly and carry a big stick—you will go far”). 
    The fact that this is now seen as a soft, risky or fringe position by many in the establishment simply goes to show how badly the establishment has lost its way, on foreign policy, every bit as much as on domestic issues.

    Sanctions had already harmed Iraq before the start of the current war (March 2003).  The illegal war resulted in the deaths of over one million Iraqis.

    As appalling as that figure is, the dead aren't coming back.

    And the living?

    They not only mourn, they have to live with and in the system the US created.

    That's a government largely ruled by Shi'ites who fled Iraq like cowards before the US-led invasion of 2003.  In exile, they nursed their hatred and suckled on their fear.  When they re-merged in Iraq and were placed in positions of power, they misused their positions to fuel hatred.

    And did we note how corrupt they are?

    Last week, MEM reported, "Iraq’s Commission of Public Integrity referred on Thursday four former senior officials to court on charges of corruption.  The Commission said in a statement released on Thursday that it had referred to court two former deputies of Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, the former director of former Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s military office and Baghdad’s former mayor."

    Nouri al-Maliki became a very rich man while prime minister (2006 - 2014) and was able to secure a fleet of sports cars and pricey digs (such as the one in London) for his idiot son.

    The bulk of the Iraqi people live in or near poverty.

    This despite the fact that the country has approximately 30 million citizens and brings in billions each year via oil.

    Last Friday, Martin Chulov (GUARDIAN) explained:

    Now, with plunging oil prices leaving Iraq’s revenues in more jeopardy than at any time since the US invasion, attention is shifting to what the custodians of public funds have done over more than a decade with tens of billions of dollars that could otherwise be a buffer from such a budget shock.
    If, as projected, global oil prices remain at historic lows, Iraq will be unable to pay some of its civil servants, or honour pledges to build roads and power stations in the next financial year. The gravity of the crisis has created uncomfortable reckonings for Iraq’s political class, military leaders and some senior religious figures, who have led a staggering 13-year pillage that has left Iraq consistently rated as one of the top five least transparent and most corrupt countries in the world.
    “Believe me, most of the senior names in the country have been responsible for stealing nearly all its wealth,” said Jabouri. “There are names at the top of the tree who would kill me if I went after them. When people here steal, they steal openly. They brag about it. There is a virus here, like Ebola. It is called corruption. There is no hope, I am sorry to say.”

    In its most recent survey, Transparency International ranked Iraq 161 out of 168 countries on the issue of transparency.  Why so low?  Because it's so corrupt.

    Barham Othman (NRTTV) offers, "Conflict of interest is popular in Iraq in public institutions including the ministries of natural resources and that has caused corruption. Conflict of interest has caused corruption in Iraq, but since there is no rule of law for the action, authorities have taken advantage of the situation, especially politicians. Iraq after 2003 became a free market in almost every business sector; that opened lots of paths for foreign companies to invest in Iraq. People in power took advantage of that, using their positions for private gains instead of for the public’s benefit."

    The failed state that is Iraq.

    And corruption is only one of the problems that plague.

    Christine Van Den Toorn (FOREIGN POLICY) examined the state of Iraq this week and noted:

    The liberation of towns from the Islamic State has had the surprising effect on my Iraqi friends of making them more despondent than they were before. When they are asked when things will turn around, they shrug and say Allah karim, akin to the English expression “when pigs fly.” Just after Sinjar was “liberated,” one of my former students from the area sent me pictures of his family’s Friday lunch spread before and after they devoured it, labeling them Sinjar “before liberation” and “after liberation.”
    Iraq is now face to face with the classic “day after” dilemma. Many of its towns are demolished, and there is no money to rebuild. There is no agreement on which groups should secure and govern the areas and who gets to go back. The most visceral and volatile barrier is the newfound distrust among the local populations of liberated areas, who see one another as collaborators, bystanders, or victims of the Islamic State. Left unattended, these “day after” dynamics will — and have already — lead to internecine conflict and political gridlock that will undermine battlefield victories, similar to what happened in 2010 when the military successes of the Sunni Sahwa militias, Arabic for “awakening,” against Al Qaeda in Iraq were squandered due to a lack of lasting national and local political deals.
    This is evident in Iraq’s disputed post-Islamic State territories, where both the Kurdistan Regional Government in Erbil and the Iraqi federal government in Baghdad feel they have greater claims than ever before. That leaves them even further from local and national political deals that would produce lasting peace. Meanwhile, local forces with varying degrees of loyalty to Baghdad and Erbil have multiplied and militarized.

    The political solution?

    The one US President Barack Obama insisted was needed to solve the country's crises?

    He began publicly insisting that was needed on June 19, 2014.

    But the US State Dept was too busy trying to be the US Defense Dept to focus on diplomacy, to aid the government of Iraq in coming together, to reconcile.

    February 11th, Haider al-Abadi gave an address via the Iraqi media and declared:

    Since I was honoured with the responsibility of being Prime Minister, despite the serious security challenges and [Islamic State] occupation of one-third of the area of Iraq, we have set within our key objectives, the economic, financial and administrative reform in the forefront, in addition to the fight against corruption.

    Those are the goals as he sees them.

    National reconciliation?

    Doesn't even make Haider's list.

    Yet the Islamic State would never have gotten a foothold in Iraq were it not for Nouri al-Maliki's persecution of the Sunni population.

    That persecution continues.

    Just last week, in liberated Ramadi, Shi'ite militias were blowing up the homes of Sunnis.

    And they did that with the Iraqi army watching.

    The persecution continues.

    And until it's addressed, the Islamic State will continue to remain in Iraq.

    That's true no matter how many bombs get dropped on the country.

    You want to destroy the Islamic State?

    Then you have to address what void it filled.

    When the Sunnis were being persecuted, the world turned a blind eye.

    That's when the Islamic State stepped forward.

    Stop the persecution of the Sunni population in Iraq and there's no reason for anyone in Iraq to support the Islamic State or any reason for it to be in the country.

    In the US, Senator Johnny Isakson is the Chair of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee.  His office notes the following:

    Monday, February 23, 2016
    Contact: Amanda Maddox, 202-224-7777
    Lauren Gaydos, 202-224-9126

    Isakson to Hold Hearing with American Legion
    WASHINGTON The Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, chaired by U.S. Senator Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., along with the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, are holding series of hearings with Veterans Service Organizations (VSOs) to consider their respective legislative priorities for this year.
    The second in the series of VSO hearings will take place tomorrow, Wednesday, February 24, 2016, with The American Legion. 
    The hearing will be streamed online at www.veterans.senate.gov. Media who plan to attend should RSVP to Majority_Press@vetaff.senate.gov.
    WHO:         Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs
                       House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs
    WHERE:   216 Hart Senate Office Building
    WHEN:      10:00 AM
                       Wednesday, February 24, 2016
    See below for the witness list.
    Dale Barnett, National Commander
    Accompanied by:
    Brett Reistad, Chairman, National Legislative Commission
    Ralph Bozella, Chairman, National Veterans Affairs and Rehabilitation Commission
    Ian dePlanque, Director, National Legislative Division
    Louis Celli, Jr., Director, National Veterans Affairs and Rehabilitation Division
    James W. Oxford, Chairman, Veterans Employment & Education Commission
    Joseph Sharpe, Jr., Director, Veterans Employment & Education Division
    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.