Monday, November 24, 2008

NYT laughs at Iraqis

In today's New York Times, James Glanz and Steven Lee Myers play "Let's make fun of Iraqis." "Iraqi Foes of Security Pact Cite Its Failure to Shield Nation's Assets From Suits" starts on A6 and the 'laughs' continue through A10. Oh, those silly Iraqis, Glanz and Myers chortle:

Iraqi lawmakers opposed to the proposed security agreement with the United States have seized on a new argument that has emerged only in recent days: the accord does not explicitly protect Iraq's vast oil wealth and other assets from seizure to satisfy billions of dollars in legal claims against the former government of Saddam Hussein.

Oh, those silly Iraqis! Glanz and Myers forget to tell readers that Iraqi MPs have had a copy of the treaty for less than a week. The two 'reporters' also need to be knocked off their high horses because the Iraqi MPs are doing what they refuse to: Read the document.

How silly of the Iraqis not to just repeat what officials say the treaty says -- you know, what the Times and so much more of the alleged 'free' press has done day after damn day.

The 'reporters' find it 'cute' that MPs are worried about this and all but rolls their eyes in print as they explain for the 'thickheaded' that, of course, Nouri al-Maliki will go to the United Nations to get an extension of that via some form of a mandate.

Mandate. The UN Security Council mandate expires December 31st and it does offer protection for Iraqi assets. And al-Maliki will go back to have that aspect extended but refuses to extend the mandate itself?

Who's the idiot?

It doesn't look like it's the Iraqi MPs, it looks like it's two 'reporters' who are awfully full of themselves and think it's 'educated' and 'sophisticated' to look down on Iraqi MPs who are doing the work that the press long ago should have.

The vote in Parliament is now supposed to take place Wednesday and we'll again note this from the American Freedom Campaign:

Does this sound right to you? Next week, the Iraqi Parliament is expected to vote on whether to approve an agreement setting the terms of the ongoing military relationship between the United States and Iraq. So far, so good. A legislative body, representing the people of a nation, shall determine the extent to which that nation's future will be intertwined with that of another. Of course, one would expect that the United States Congress would be given the same opportunity. That, however, is not the case. Or at least it is not what the Bush administration is allowing to happen. Shockingly, the Bush administration is not even letting Congress read the full agreement before it is signed!
We need you to send a message immediately to U.S. House and Senate leaders, urging them to demand the constitutional input and approval to which they are entitled.
The administration has asserted that the agreement between the U.S. and Iraq is merely a Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) and therefore does not require congressional approval. Yet the agreement goes far beyond the traditional limits of a SOFA, which typically set the terms for bringing materials and equipment into a nation and outline the legal procedures that will apply to members of the military who are accused of crimes. Believe it or not, the current agreement contains terms that will actually give Iraq a measure of control over U.S. forces. No foreign nation or international entity has ever been given the authority to direct U.S. forces without prior congressional approval - either through a majority vote of both chambers or a two-thirds vote in the Senate in the case of treaties.
If this agreement goes into effect without congressional approval, it will establish a precedent under which future presidents can exercise broad unilateral control over the U.S. military -- and even give foreign nations control over our troops. Congress must take immediate action. Unfortunately, they are about to adjourn for at least a couple of weeks. But it is not too late for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to make a statement, signaling their strong belief that Congress will not be bound by and need not fund an agreement that has not been approved by Congress.
Please send an E-mail encouraging such action to Speaker Pelosi and Majority Leader Reid immediately by clicking [here]
This is truly a dire situation and we hope that you will join us in calling for action. Thank you. Steve Fox

Campaign Director
American Freedom Campaign
Action Fund

You can read an English translation of the Arabic version via American Friends Service Committee; however, remember that the official English version has not been released and that it differs from the Arabic version.

Jeremy R. Hammond examines the treaty in "U.S. Would Control Profits from Iraqi Oil Exports Under Agreement" (Information Clearing House):

The terms of the agreement effectively allow the U.S. to continue to control billions of dollars of proceeds from the sale of exported Iraqi oil held in the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. It also contains numerous loopholes that could allow the continuing long-term presence of U.S. military forces and would effectively maintain U.S. jurisdiction over crimes committed by American soldiers.
Iraq's cabinet approved the agreement a week ago with 27 members voting in favor, out of 28 ministers who were present, with nine ministers absent. It is now being debated in the Parliament.
Abdul Qadir al-Obaidi, Iraq's minister of defense, issued a dire warning that without the agreement and continued presence of U.S. forces, "then what happened in the Gulf of Aden will happen in the Arabian Gulf too. Pirates will start in these ports in a way you can't even imagine."
Governments often use fear tactics to push through controversial legislation. Before the U.S. invasion, members of the Congress were told that if they didn't authorize the President to use military force against Iraq, Saddam Hussein might attack the east coast of the United States with biological weapons from unmanned aerial vehicles, for example. More recently, members of Congress were warned that if they did not pass the highly unpopular bill taking taxpayers' dollars to bail out banking and investment corporations, there would be martial law in America.

Dropping back to yesterday, Lloyd notes Ernesto London's "Kurds in N. Iraq Receive Arms From Bulgaria: 3 Planeloads of Munitions Worry Officials in Baghdad" (Washington Post):

Kurdish officials this fall took delivery of three planeloads of small arms and ammunition imported from Bulgaria, three U.S. military officials said, an acquisition that occurred outside the weapons procurement procedures of Iraq's central government.
The large quantity of weapons and the timing of the shipment alarmed U.S. officials, who have grown concerned about the prospect of an armed confrontation between Iraqi Kurds and the government at a time when the Kurds are attempting to expand their control over parts of northern Iraq.
[. . .]
Iraq's interior minister, Jawad al-Bolani, said in an interview that central government officials did not authorize the purchase of weapons from Bulgaria. He said such an acquisition would constitute a "violation" of Iraqi law because only the Ministries of Interior and Defense are authorized to import weapons.

And I'll pair that with Andrea Bruce's "As Kurdish North Grows, Some Are Left Out" from today's Washington Post:

Hyder Hassan Aziz, 46, walks the damp streets of Irbil with his hands thrust in his coat pockets and his shoulders tense, close to his ears. His clothes are faded gray, like the overcast early-morning sky, and he looks at the ground when he walks, kicking small stones with every step.
The bakery is a block from the apartment building where Hyder has lived with his family for 12 years. His morning routine, buying fresh bread for breakfast, has changed very little in that time. But in the past five years, the street has become barely recognizable. Although most people in Iraq have been suffering because of the war, the Kurdish region in the country's north has been growing, becoming unaffordable for the working class.

Bruce is also a news photographer.

In other news, Cynthia McKinney was the Green Party's presidential candidate this year and Dissident Voice offers her "A Funny Thing Happened to Me on My Way to the Damascus Conference:"

Today, November 23rd, I was slated to give remarks in Damascus, Syria at a Conference being held to commemorate the 60th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and, sadly, the 60th year that the Palestinian people have been denied their Right of Return enshrined in that Universal Declaration. But a funny thing happened to me while at the Atlanta airport on my way to the Conference: I was not allowed to exit the country.
I do believe that it was just a misunderstanding. But the insecurity experienced on a daily basis by innocent Palestinians is not. Innocent Palestinians are trapped in a violent, stateless twilight zone imposed on them by an international order that favors a country reported to have completed its nuclear triad as many as eight years ago, although Israel has remained ambiguous on the subject. President Jimmy Carter informed us that Israel had as many as 150 nuclear weapons, and Israel’s allies are among the most militarily sophisticated on the planet. Military engagement, then, is untenable. Therefore the exigency of diplomacy and international law.
The Palestinians should at least be able to count on the protections of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. What is happening to Palestinians in Gaza right now, subjected to an Israeli-imposed blockade, has drawn the attention of the United Nations Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon, who noted that over half of the civilians in Gaza are children. Even The Los Angeles Times criticized Israel’s lockdown of Gaza that is keeping food, fuel, and medicine from civilians. Even so, Israel stood fast by its decision to seal Gaza’s openings. But where are the voices of concern coming from the corridors of power inside the United States? Is the subject of Palestinian human rights taboo inside the United States Government and its government-to-be? I hope not. Following is the speech I would have given today had I been able to attend the Damascus Conference.

Betty noted Cynthia's article. Bonnie reminds that Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts "Tina Fey: America's Sour-Heart" went up yesterday.

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