Here are 3 things you should know this morning: - Some U.S. forces are reportedly being redeployed from Iraq to Afghanistan - Wall Street begins trading after the worst week in 2 years - "Super Sick Monday?" Researchers predict 14 million Americans will call in sick today
Susannah George and Qassim Abdul-Zahra (AP) report the drawdown has been observed by western contractors and they get some confirmation from unnamed Iraqis. This is a drawdown -- not a withdrawal.
How big is the drawdown? No one knows for sure at this point.
And don't forget that Fort Drum is readying a deployment to Iraq.
Oh, wait. They're there as reported Saturday by THE WATERTOWN DAILY TIMES:
Soldiers from the 925th Contracting Battalion formally marked the beginning of their deployment to Iraq during a ceremony on Friday.
The soldiers will be the Regional Contracting Center and provide contracting support to enhance and sustain building partner capacity operations that enable efforts to counter ISIS and increase regional stability.
[. . .]
This is in addition to the approximately 500 soldiers from the 10th Mountain Division headquarters who will also deploy to Iraq this year.
A drawdown, not a withdrawal, is currently taking place.
There's not been a withdrawal since this phase of the Iraq War started in March of 2003 (Ted Koppel warned at the end of 2011 but so few wanted to listen).
For a year, I sent Marines to Iraq and Afghanistan sometimes I was the last stateside Marine they saw before leaving for a warzone. I remember people I knew from CLC-21 and I was the first person they saw, and they hugged me. Why the F**K are we still there? Iraq to Afghanistan
A very good question.
Will Higginbotham (IPS) has a story -- story being the operative term -- about Iraq:
In Iraq, thirty years of armed conflict has killed hundreds of thousands of people, wounded countless more, displaced millions and laid cities and towns to waste.
Amongst all of this death and destruction, there is an often-overlooked victim whose harm has far reaching consequences: The environment.
Whilst Iraq’s environment has suffered from degradation due to conflict for decades, in recent years it has been exacerbated due to the so-called Islamic State (ISIS).
“Wherever ISIS has been there has been huge environmental destruction and with that have come potentially major health threats to the public,” says Wim Zwijnenburg, a lead researcher at the dutch not-for profit, PAX.
Over the past two years, PAX has used public satellite images, social media and first-hand field research to track the environmental damage and the subsequent risk to public health in the northern parts of Iraq.
It was that burning of oil, for example, that caused the environmental destruction -- not the bombs dropped on, say Mosul, right?
"Right" as Nipsey Russell says in WILDCATS.
It has nothing to do with oil and the US 'experts' who've decided that no damage to the local ecology is too great, right?
In 2007, Luke Mitchell reported for HARPER'S about how the smell of oil was all over Rumaila nd making observations like the following:
I was making that same journey from well to terminal, and yet in all my time in Iraq I would see the oil itself only once. This was in a particularly empty patch of desert, beyond even the lonely cinder-block houses and the rock-throwing kids. We had sped past dry concrete canals and abandoned oil drums and rocket-charred tanks, past mile upon mile of flat dirt and rust, and then we found ourselves driving between a series of mirror-black ponds. These pools crept along both sides of the highway, and through the scratchy ballistic glass of our SUV it was hard to tell at first if the liquid within was oil or water. There were no ripples, though—the pools were thick—and the hot asphalt smell was strong enough that it had become a taste. Sam said the oil came from leaky pipes, that there is no EPA watching over Rumaila. “You have to give the devil his due here,” he said, meaning Iraq. “On a good day, they export 60,000 to 70,000 barrels an hour. If 500 barrels of crude spill on the ground here, what is that? Not more than a half minute of export.”
[. . .]
We wandered further into the maze of pipes, and Sam paused in front of another tank. This was a desalting unit. Sam said the groundwater in Rumaila is so salty and alkaline that if you put it in your mouth you would gag and probably throw up.
But the problem is the actions of ISIS?
Seven months since Mosul was recaptured from IS, the stench of death still wafts from nearly every rubble-filled corner in the Old City, amid a government tussle over how to collect the bodies of militants and civilians still rotting in the streets:
Civilians left rotting in the streets all these weeks later but it's ISIS?
When it comes to Iraq, IPS broke with reality during the years Barack Obama was in the White House. Even reaching with both hands now, it can't seem to find its way back.
The problem remains that no one cared about anything but getting their hands on Iraq's oil. When the looting took place in the early days of the war, what was Donald Rumsfeld's henny penny crack?
They never cared.
And they didn't care enough about the population to protect them.
ISIS is a terrorist group.
But it wasn't ISIS using White Phosphorus in Iraq -- it was the United States government.
Depleted uranium? That wasn't ISIS either.
Iraq became a toxic place and that's why the rate of birth defects increased so significantly -- as did the rates of cancer.
But here's IPS distorting reality yet again.
Fiona Apple's "Oh Well" (first appears on EXTRAORDINARY MACHINE.
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