Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Iraq snapshot

Wednesday, August 17, 2016.  Iraq gets some attention in the US campaign for president, Jill Stein prepares for CNN Town Hall, and much more.

First up, reminder:

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That's Green Party presidential nominee Jill Stein with her running mate Ajamu Baraka on CNN's Town Hall tonight.

From reality to fantasies . . .

I know people who risked their lives to set up Iraqi elections that worked, not surprisingly Trump is totally dismissing all of their work


Do you also know Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy?

Had relations with the Easter Bunny, have you?

Iraq elections worked?

In 2010, they were overturned by US President Barack Obama (following Nouri al-Maliki's 8 month refusal to step down after he lost, the US brokered The Erbil Agreement, a legal contract that went around the votes and the voters).

Maybe she means the 2005 propaganda which never stood the test of time.

Or maybe she means the 2014 elections?

Not really sure which elections she thinks "worked" but I'm not really sure how one failure after another can be defined as "working."

Let's move over to PBS' THE NEWSHOUR:

MARGARET WARNER:  Yesterday, Republican nominee Donald Trump delivered a fuller anti-ISIS message in Youngstown, Ohio.

DONALD TRUMP: My administration will aggressively pursue joint and coalition military operations to crush and destroy ISIS, international cooperation to cut off their funding, expanded intelligence-sharing, and cyber-warfare to disrupt and disable a their propaganda and recruiting.

MARGARET WARNER: He also proclaimed that he would end what he called an era of nation-building, and would take harsh steps to stop ISIS from penetrating the United States.

DONALD TRUMP: The time is overdue to develop a new screening test for the threats we face today. I call it extreme vetting. I call it extreme, extreme vetting.

MARGARET WARNER: It would screen out those who sympathize with terror groups and those who have, in his words, any hostile attitude towards our country or its principles.

DONALD TRUMP: Those who do not believe in our Constitution.

MARGARET WARNER: In a Web video released last night, Democrat Hillary Clinton’s campaign tried to turn Trump’s own words against him, saying he would fail the test he’d set for immigrants.

It would have been nice if PBS had played the video or linked to it.

I wasted 30 minutes this morning trying to find it at Hillary's lousy website which is like a boutique run by a trophy wife who only opens it on days she wants to.  It's the most useless site in the world and the color schemes are just flat out tacky.

Donald Trump wants "extreme vetting" and "extreme, extreme vetting"?

That's not really surprising.  We've had that in the US for some time.

What he appears to be calling for is not that outrageous.

At THIRD, we have repeatedly expressed a viewpoint on immigration.  We've used Cuba as our example.  By all means take in people who want to come to this country but they need to understand this is not a base for them to launch their war against Cuba.

If they've got a battle to fight, they can fight it in Cuba or in another country.

If they want to come to the US to start over, by all means do.

But you are not going to come to this country and then agitate endlessly for war on Cuba or plot to attack Cuba.

You want a fresh start?

Great, come on over.

But this is not a staging platform for an attempted coup of your native country.

A number of right-wing Cubans have repeatedly misunderstood or misrepresented their desire to become American citizens.

So, yes, you better believe in the Constitution.

And if you do, maybe you don't kill your daughter with your car and think that running her down is acceptable behavior?

As one Iraqi male did.

We could list all the crimes by Iraqi refugees -- there appears to have just been a gang rape of a 28-year-old woman by nine Iraqi immigrants in Austria -- but the point is, there are things that any immigrant may be used to their own culture that will not fly in this culture.

You will not, for example, get away with so-called 'honor' killings.

If you do genital mutilation on your daughter in this country, you will be arrested.

Killing gay men and lesbians will not be applauded in US schools.

There are a huge number of things that are encouraged -- encouraged by the government of Iraq -- that would not be tolerated in the US and would be seen as criminal.

If someone wants to come to the US, fine.  But they need to understand the country that they are entering and follow the laws.  And we do not need any exiles who are in this country solely to plot the overthrow of their host country.

Extreme, extreme?

Barack Obama put those in when he stopped the flow of Iraqi immigration to the US.

But no one wants to talk about that.

Was he right to do it?

He was concerned.

Does that mean he was right to do it?

I have no idea because the press never forced him to address the topic publicly.

I would give him the benefit of the doubt that he would not just turn his back on a program that the late Ted Kennedy had championed, turn his back for no valid reason.

Do I give him the benefit of the doubt because he's a Democrat?

(No one could argue I've ever given any president the benefit of the doubt because of the office they held.)

Maybe I do.

I am certainly more suspect of Donald Trump (from my interaction with him -- not do to his politics).

And maybe others rush to give Barack the benefit of the doubt because when the Iraqi refugees were put on hold, no one wanted to make waves.

Donald Trump: The time is overdue to develop a new screening test for the threats we face today. I call it extreme vetting. I call it extreme, extreme vetting. Our country has enough problems. We don't need more. And these are problems like we've never had before. In addition to screening out all members of the sympathizers of terrorist groups, we must also screen out any who have hostile attitudes toward our country or its principles, or who believe that Sharia law should supplant American law. Those who do not believe in our Constitution or who support bigotry and hatred will not be admitted for immigration into our country. Only those who we expect to flourish in our country and to embrace a tolerant American society should be issued visas. To put these new procedures in place, we will have to temporarily suspend immigration from some of the most dangerous and volatile regions of the world, that have a history of exporting terrorism.

That's what he's calling for.

Some are attempting to make it controversial.

It's not controversial.

The Constitution is the law of the land.

Sharia law?

The US is a secular country with a wall between church and state.

For good reason.

Pissed off
Jacked up
Scream into the mike
Spit into the loving cup
Strut like a rooster
March like a man
God's hired hands and the devil bands
Packing the same grandstands
Different clothes
"Pot in their pockets!"
Different hair
"Sexually active"
Raise a screaming guitar 
or a bible in the air
Theatre of anguish
Theatre of glory
God's hired hands and the devil bands
Oh come let us adore -- ME!
Lord, there's danger in this land
You get witch-hunts and wars
When church and state hold hands
-- "Tax Free," written by Joni Mitchell, first appears on her DOG EAT DOG album

In America, you can worship an apple if you want and do everything that the apples tells you to when it calls you to the mount.

You can make that choice.

But there is no choice with regards to US law.

You must follow it.

Sharia law is sexist -- look at the requirements for establishing rape took place, for example.

It has no place in the US.

We've spent too many years fighting for the rights of those assaulted to suddenly bring in a new 'law' that we're going to be fighting the same battles on all over again.

Women are not worth less more than men in the US.

It does not take X number of women to equal one man (see witness requirements for Sharia law).


MARGARET WARNER: Last November, Clinton said she would defeat ISIS by massing more U.S. ground troops against the group, though with limits.

HILLARY CLINTON (D), Presidential Nominee: And we should be honest about the fact that, to be successful, airstrikes will have to be combined with ground forces actually taking back more territory from ISIS. Like President Obama, I do not believe that we should again have 100,000 American troops in combat in the Middle East.

MARGARET WARNER: That fits with the picture of Clinton in a joint Washington Post/ProPublica report today about the early Obama administration debate over whether to fulfill his campaign pledge to pull out of Iraq altogether.
It notes that Clinton was — quote — “one of the most vocal advocates for a muscular U.S. presence in Iraq after the withdrawal deadline at the end of 2011.” Clinton lost that argument, and all U.S. fighting forces left.
It’s also been widely reported that, in 2013, Clinton and then CIA Director David Petraeus proposed arming and training the so-called moderate rebels in neighboring Syria, but that the president rejected it.

Hillary's got a past she can't escape.

On the subject of David Petraeus -- once the top commanding US officer in Iraq?  He was interviewed by Margaret Brennan (CBS EVENING NEWS WITH SCOTT PELLEY):

MARGARET BRENNAN: What concerns you the most about Iraq right now?

DAVID PETRAEUS: Iraqi politics. We'll defeat the Islamic State. That's going to happen. Its just a question of how long it takes. But it's Iraqi politics that have to become more inclusive if you're to cement the gains on the battlefield and to bring the Sunni Arabs back into the fabric of Iraqi society, which is critical to the way forward for that country.

[. . .]

BRENNAN: For the next president, will they have to speak to the American public and talk about Americans dying in combat in Iraq once again?

PETRAEUS: I fear that that probably is the case, that future presidents will, on their watch, have Americans dying in places like Iraq. I think the future president realizes and the country realizes, this is going to be an ultra-marathon, not a sprint. This is really a generational struggle. And so it's not just this president who will be engaged in this or even just the next president. It is probably several presidents to come.

The State Dept is supposed to be reassuring Americans that they are working on diplomacy in Iraq.  This statement was released on Monday:

Special Presidential Envoy Brett McGurk Visits Iraq 
August 15, 2016 
On August 11-14,‎ Special Presidential Envoy for the Global Coalition to Counter ISIL Brett McGurk and his deputy, Lt. General (R) Terry Wolff, visited Iraq for meetings with senior Iraqi government and security officials. Accompanied by U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Stuart Jones, Mr. McGurk met with Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, Minister of Defense Khalid al-Obaidi, Speaker of Parliament Saleem Jabouri, Iraqi Kurdistan Region (IKR) President Massoud Barzani, and other senior political, religious, and security figures.
Special Presidential Envoy McGurk commended the Iraqi security forces and Kurdish Peshmerga for their achievements on the battlefield. He welcomed the recent advances by Kurdish Peshmerga east of Mosul, and Iraqi forces south of Mosul, which are helping to shape the conditions for Mosul's ultimate liberation and stabilization. He also outlined recent increases in U.S. and coalition support, including support for stabilization in liberated areas to ensure battlefield gains are durable and lasting. ‎In meetings with the Governor of Ninewa Province, the Ninewa Operations Commander, and other leaders involved in planning for the liberation of Mosul, he emphasized the importance of a well-coordinated military, political, and economic campaign plan. The United States and the coalition are committed to working with all Iraqi leaders to ensure this plan is well developed and resourced. Deputy Special Presidential Envoy Wolff will remain in Iraq for follow up engagements over the coming weeks.
Importantly, Special Presidential Envoy McGurk, Lt. Gen. Wolff, and Ambassador Jones, attended a joint planning session with IKR President Barzani and the National Security Advisor for the Government of Iraq, Faleh Fayyad. This was the second joint meeting between these leaders, and the U.S. delegation was encouraged by the commitment to partnership and ensuring close coordination between Baghdad and Erbil as the planning for Mosul accelerates. McGurk also met with Archbishop of Erbil, Bashar Warda, to discuss the importance of incorporating Christians and all minority groups into these planning efforts, and ensure conditions can be established to return these populations to their home areas as soon as possible following their liberation from ISIL terrorists.
In all his meetings, Special Presidential Envoy McGurk reaffirmed the Coalition’s and United States’ commitment to provide assistance to the Iraqi campaign to defeat ISIL on the battlefield but also after the battles are won with essential humanitarian and stabilization support. Mr. McGurk noted the recent Pledging Conference in Support of Iraq held in Washington last month, which generated over $2 billion in humanitarian assistance pledges from around the world. To date, more than 700,000 Iraqis have returned to their homes in areas liberated from ISIL, but many remain displaced, and it is incumbent upon the entire international community to help Iraqis rebuild their lives as ISIL is defeated.

No, it doesn't really have a lot to do with diplomacy.

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