Thursday, January 11, 2007

Iraq snapshot

Thursday, January 11, 2006.  Chaos and violence continue in Iraq though it gets little attention,  Bully Boy eats up more time with his dismal performance (continued dismal performance), Ehren Watada prepares to speak this weekend in what may be his final speech before the February 5th court-martial, Condi Rice challenges Bully Boy for American Most In Denial, and the world says no to Bully Boy's plans for escalation (more US troops being sent to Iraq).
Starting with Bully Boy's Cop Rock-like bust in primetime yesterday.  Saying exactly the same thing, in the same way he always had, Bully Boy had nothing to offer Iraq, the United States or the world.  Speaking to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee today, US Secretary of State Condi Rice said the fact that just because they didn't act properly in the past doesn't mean that they won't act properly in the future.  She was speaking of Iraqis but she could apply it to the 'logic' of the the administration.
That was what Bully Boy's speech last night was built upon.  Two months from the four-year anniversary of the start of the illegal war, he wants to say, as he did last night, "Where mistakes have been made, the responsibility rests with me" -- what does that even mean?  That's ownership?  That's nothing.  There are no efforts at responsibility or accountability.  As with the 'government' of Nouri al-Maliki, there are no results -- only Bully Boy's had nearly four years. 
With those ten words ("Where mistakes have been made, the responsibility rests with me"), he wants yet another blank check to continue the same illegal war that is already lost.  There were no benchmarks in Bully Boy's speech.  But another thing still missing is a definition of 'success.' 
There is no 'win' to be had in Iraq but what is the mission?  What mission is reason to continue the illegal war?  There is none, none explained to the people.  The administration wants . . . 'democracy building' -- at the point of a gun?  The administration wants . .  . a peace keeping mission?  Whose being protected, what is the goal and airy terms like 'democracy' or 'liberation' demonstrate that there is still no plan, there is nothing that a military can achieve, and that the illegal war has no defense.
Speaking to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee today, Rice rejected the notion of troops being placed on the Iraqi borders -- "I don't think you want to depend on boots on the grounds to defend those borders." So what are they doing?  Today, she can't articulate it and the Bully Boy can't.  And when you grasp that 3019 US troops have died, the fact that they seem to think ten little words grant them a "fresh start" in an illegal war is not just surprising, it's appalling.
US Senator Russ Feingold stated, of Bully Boy's Primetime Bust, "the president ignored the recommendations of members of both parties, military leaders, foreign policy experts, and the will of the American people by announcing that he intends to escalate our involvement in Iraq by sending more troops there.   Congress must bring an end to what has been one of the greatest foreign policy mistakes in the history of our nation.  The President continues to deny the devastating impact that keeping our brave troops in Iraq is having on our national security.  The American people have rejected the Administration's Iraq-centric foreign policy.  It is time to bring our troops out of Iraq and refocus on defeating the global terrorist networks that threaten this country."
US Senator Chuck Hagel stated, "I think this speech given last night by this president represents the most dangerous foreign policy blunder in this country since Vietnam if it's carried out. . . . I will resist it."
Surveying opinion in the Middle East, Maggie Michael (AP) reports that the speech has resulted in "strong skepticism across the Mideast, where many predicted that even with more soldiers, America would fail to break the cycle of violence" and quotes Areeb el-Rentawi, Al-Quds Center for Political Studies (Amman, Jordan), stating that the Bully Boy "didn't answer the main question: What if al-Maliki falied in meeting the new plan?  Al-Maliki's government is part of the problem, not the solution."
Speaking with Amy Goodman on Democracy Now!, from Najaf, Sami Rasouli compared Bully Boy's escalation to current conditions in Iraq, "Actually, Amy, for the last four days, I couldn't get a shower -- because there is no electricity, there is no heating, so water's so cold in this harsh winter in Iraq -- because Iraq has a continental climate that's very cold in the winter and very hot in the summer.  So, as I speak to you, I really stink -- and, as the increasing prices in the economy that's collapsing stink and the Iraq government policy stinks, even the American policy, that so-called surge in Iraq, stinks too because, as you know, and Iraqis know and the others, that the occupation is a form of war.  So any escalation in this type of war, the resistance is going to escalate too."
Similar sentiments are voiced by Lara Logan (CBS News): "Iraqis have been talking about nothing else all day, and most of the people we've spoken to say they do not want more U.S. troops here.  They don't believe this is going to help."
And the puppet government?  Sabrina Tavernise and John F. Burns (New York Times) report that puppet of the occupation Nouri al-Maliki and aides are "wary" and "fear that an increased American troop presence, particularly in Baghdad, will be accompanied by a more assertive American role that will conflict with the Shiite government's haste to cut back on American authority and run the war the way it wants."
The American people?  Jon Cohen (Washington Post) reports on a joint poll by the Post and ABC on the proposed escalation which found that "61 percent oppose the force increase, with 52 'strongly' opposing the build-up.  Thirty-six percent support the additional troops; only one-quarter of the public is strongly supportive."  CBS and AP report on a CBS News poll which found 53% of those polled do not favor the escalation, only 37% favored it -- echoing the Post-ABC News poll.  Most interesting was this finding from CBS's poll: "68 percent of Americans -- the same number as before the speech -- said they were uneasy about the president's ability to make decisions about Iraq."
David Olive (Toronto Star) sees the illegal war as a "Pandora's Box" that Bully Boy now wants to treat like a hot potato "in order that his successor as president -- and not Bush -- wears the stigma of defeat in Iraq."
Guy Dinmore (Financial Times of London) observes the speech dismissed advice regarding diplomacy, dubs it a "hardline speech" and quotes Cliff Kupchan, Eurasis Group, stating, "Bush is tapping anti-Iranian senteiment in Congress and the American public to bolster his case."  Speaking with Andrea Lewis today on KPFA's The Morning Show, Michael Klare (Hampshire College's Professor of Peace and World Security Studies) detected in the speech the adminstration's arguing expanding the war beyond Iraq into neighboring countries:  "This was not a message about Iraq.  This was a message about preparing the American people for a wider war in the region."  Also taking part in that discussion, Natalie Goldring (Georgetown University's Center for Peace and Security Studies) stated,
"We can't win in Iraq.  I don't think it's possible. President Bush, to my mind, is increasingly isolated in painting this picture of an Iraq that is somehow a democratic presence and a peaceful Middle East is miraculously transformed by the American presence.  In reality our presence there is making things worse.  The Iraqis are in fact worse off if you look at things like their energy production and other key measures of whether people are comfortable in their homes.  They're worse off than they were under Saddam which is a really scary prospect.  So I don't think we can win.  We do need to get out." 
United for Peace & Justice's Leslie Cagan echoed Professor Goldring's thoughts on Democracy Now! today where she stated, "This war has to end.  It never should have started.  It was a war totally based on lies.  It has to end.  It has to end now."  Cagan noted actions taking place around the country today and also noted that "in just a few weeks, on Saturday January 27th, people from every corner of the country are gathering here in Washington, where I am right now, to march around the Capitol, to deliver our message: it is time to end the war.  The people spoke.  The voters of this country had their opportunity in November to make their voices heard.  Now we're saying to Congress, 'You need to act on the will of the people of this country.'  So on Saturday January 27th, people will be getting on buses and trains and carpools and every other manner of transportation and gathering here in Washington on the Mall between 3rd Street and 7th Street at 11:00 am in the morning and delivering this message.  And on top of that, we're asking people to stay here in Washington for a few more days to do a massive lobby day on Monday the 29th".  Information on the actions this month on the 27th and 29th as well as today can be found by clicking here.
Thulasi Srikanthan (Toronto Star) reports the only real 'surge' and it's in Canada as War Resisters Support Campaign's Lee Zaslofsky notes the "surge in the number of calls from American troops during the past week" which has resulted in the War Resisters Support Campaign requesting "help in housing soldiers fleeing the U.S."  The War Resisters Support Campaign helps American troops who are seeking asylum in Canada.  In other news of war resistance, Paul Boring (Whidbey News Times) reports US war resister Ehren Watada will be speaking this Saturday (January 13th) at 1:00 pm at the Coupeville Recreation Hall (901 NW Alexander ST., Whidbey Island in Coupeville, Washington). 
In June of last year, Ehren Watada became the first officer to publicly refuse to deploy to Iraq.  He faces a court-martial on Feburary 5th.  Camp Resistance is set up outside Fort Lewis where Watada is serving and it's a project of Iraq Veterans Against the War (each day they gather at off I-5, exit 119 in Dupont, Washington).  Damon Murphy notes that today: "We were approached by a Sgt. of the Dupont Police Department. He brought news that the property owner wanted us off of his land; the reason given was due to a misunderstanding about the amount of time we'd be there. The impression was that we'd be there for the two or three days surrounding Lt. Ehren Watada's Court Martial Pre-Trial; the reality, is that IVAW is deployed. When you're deployed you’re stuck. When you’re deployed, all you have is what is next to you: people, tools for your survival, and the mission at hand. Our mission at hand, regardless of where it takes place, is standing in solidarity with Lt. Ehren Watada as he awaits his pending Court Martial, twenty-seven days from now."
Watada is part of a movement of resistance within the military that also includes Kyle Snyder, Ivan Brobeck, Darrell Anderson, Ricky Clousing, Aidan Delgado, Mark Wilkerson, Agustin Aguayo, Joshua Key, Camilo Meija, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Stephen Funk, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Jeremy Hinzman, Corey Glass, Patrick Hart, Clifford Cornell, Joshua Despain, Katherine Jashinski, Chris Teske and Kevin Benderman. In total, thirty-eight US war resisters in Canada have applied for asylum.

Information on war resistance within the military can be found at Center on Conscience & War, The Objector, The G.I. Rights Hotline, and the War Resisters Support Campaign. Courage to Resist offers information on all public war resisters.
In "Oh, Condi" news -- the Senate testimony today . . .  Rice noted that Sadr's bloc "pulled out and the government didn't collapse"; however, she fails to note how little got accomplished or the attempts to woo the bloc back.  She boasted that, "We know why sectarian violence didn't come down" -- apparently now that Negroponte's under her, he's spilled all the beans on the death squads.  She declared, "We're not going to stay married to a plan that isn't working."  But failed to ask the important question: Should This Marriage Be Saved?  She refused to be pinned down on 'specifics' but did note, "The oil law is important."  (Well, they did name a tanker after her.)  (Here's an AP article -- my remarks are based on watching it on TV.)
In Iraq today?  Apparently building on Bully Boy's belicose speech, an Iranian consular office was targeted by the US military.  Reuters reports that "US forces stormed an Iranian consular office in the northern Iraqi Kurdish city of Arbil and arrested five people, including diplomates and staff".  The Australian notes that the US military has confirmed six arrests "but did not confirm if any were Iranians".  The Cihan News Agency notes that "US soldiers seized computers and official documents" and reports five arrests following the US military "forcing open the outer gate" to the building.  Xinhua reports: "The Iranian Embassy in Baghdad sent a letter to the Iraqi Foreign Ministry Thursday morning to protest against 'the U.S. illegal move' and call on the Iraqi government to help secure immediate release of the five people".  BBC notes: "Reports say the Iranian consulate there was set up last year under an agreement with the Kurdish regional government to facilitate cross-border visits."
And it was six.  The US military released a statement saying they "took six individuals into custody".  KUNA reports: "The Presidency and government of Iraq's Kurdistan Thursday demanded the Multi-National Force (MNF) to release Iranian consulate staff members who were detained earlier today."
Reuters reports a mortar attack Wednesday in Mosul on a "Sunni Arab girls' school" that left nine wounded ("included four students and three other children").  The US military press release on that was apparently written by a PIG hence the term "housewives" -- it notes that four high school girls were injured, three children and two adult women (that, in a throwback, they term "housewives").
DPA reports three dead and 31 wounded from a truck bomb in Samaraa and that "[a]mong the dead was Asaad Yassin, president of the municipal council of Samaraa".
What?  You think anyone's reporting on Iraqis today?  Seriously, CBS and AP note that an oil pipeline was attacked "in northern Iraq" because, apparently, they keep the eye on the prize -- if oil is "the prize" -- but forget about it.  Don't think that means Iraqis aren't dying today -- they are.  But even the bit that usually gets reported is being ignored today. 
Jennie Matthew (AFP) notes that "walls" are the latest US 'answer' (and even mentions Israel while failing to note the illegality of that) because if Haidtha residents won't welcome foreign fighters, wall 'em off!  Such passes for 'answers' in the illegal war.  This as there's also a new 'plan' for Baghdad -- and "Truth" would be so pleased -- she might even want to grab credit.  Julian E. Barnes (Los Angeles Times) reports that "gated communities" are coming to Baghdad "forcibly".  Such are the plans -- the sort of laughable crap you'd expect to see stereotyped to some elderly, dottering fool convinced the world was out to get them -- which would be a perfect transition for Bully Boy's speech today; however, I think Wally and Cedric are covering that.
Finally, in Australia, ABC reports that John Howard, prime minister, is standing hip to hip with the Bully Boy but there are no plans for Australia to send in more forces and reports that "Opposition Leader Kevin Rudd mainstains that Mr Howard shares responsibility for the failures in Iraq and . . . [that] Mr Bush's statement has confirmed the coalition is losing the war, not winning it."  Again, Howard's hip to hip with Bully Boy does not translate as more Australian troops being sent to Iraq.  The Times of London quotes Howard declaring, "There is no direct implication for Australian forces in Iraq.  We have an appropriately sized force and one that can be maintained."  For the record the number of Australian forces in Iraq is 450. 

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