Thursday, August 20, 2009

Smug US official feeds into Iraqi paranoia in wake of bombings

The deadly bombings Wednesday in Baghdad near two key government ministries raise questions about whether U.S. and Iraqi officials have moved too quickly to dismantle many of the security steps that brought about a dramatic drop in bloodshed in the Iraqi capital in the last two years.
Neither American officials in Washington nor Iraqi officials in Baghdad seemed willing to entertain bringing U.S. troops back into the city, however, even as violence has risen over the last two months.
Iraqi politicians, who are vying for January's scheduled parliamentary elections, want to exert their independence from the Americans. At the Pentagon, commanders are looking for ways to shift resources from former President George W. Bush's war toward Afghanistan, which President Barack Obama this week called "fundamental to the defense of our people."

The above is from Sahar Issa and Nancy A. Youssef's "Baghdad bombings question: Did U.S. draw back too fast?" (McClatchy Newspapers). Yesterday's massive bombings in Baghdad have people scrambling to figure out their meaning. Jake Tapper and Karen Travers (ABC News) report:

Responding to the wave of explosions in Iraq today, a Senior Administration official tells ABC News that the attacks -- which have killed at least 75 people -- "indicate the depths these opponents will go in their attempts to destabilize Iraq. The indiscriminate nature of the attacks -- and the blatant killing of innocent Muslims -- is disconcerting."
The official adds that "at the same time, we believe these attacks will energize our Iraqi partners to continue their efforts to build Iraq."
Note the spin at the end that this will energize Iraqi troops, not scare them off -- not a view held by all observers of the conflict.

What is that, Scared Stupid? It's certainly stupid on the part of the US government to make statements like that. Iraq's attempting to apportion blame. Iraqis are not fond of the US to begin with. The violence follows Nouri floating that Iraqis might be able to vote on the Status Of Forces Agreement -- with most assuming that means the SOFA would be terminated (twelve months after official notice was given). That's followed with bombings -- coordinated bombings? That reveal just how inept Iraqi security forces currently are. And a US official wants to make that statement?

Barack Obama needs to ask whomever made that statement to step forward and resign.

Does no one pay attention to the level of paranoia in Baghdad? (Some of it warranted -- such as when British forces were found with bombs and dressed as Muslims.) When Iraqi Christians are targeted in northern Iraq, there's a group that thinks A, a group that thinks B and a group that thinks it must be the Kurdish pesh merga because they must be attempting to make Iraqi Christians think only they can save them.

Kurdish leaders always deny that charge. It's certainly never been backed up with anything empirical. However, it remains one of the popular hypothesis among Iraqis whenever Iraqi Christians are attacked in northern Iraq -- whenever any minority population is attacked in northern Iraq.

And Iraqis have been quoted throughout this illegal war blaming the US for bombings -- not just in a "If they weren't here, this wouldn't be happening," but also in a 'they are secretly behind it.'

When something horrific happens, it is human nature to attempt to construct a narrative and to apportion blame -- especially to apportion blame because without blame, it could (scary thought!) happen to any of us at any time. So the (false) 'teachable moment' is constructed.

The reason, there's always a reason
Behind the reason
When you look for a reason
A reason, I can give you a reason
And maybe you'll think
It's a really good reason
But I come up with the reasons
-- "The Reason," lyrics by Carly Simon, music by Carly Simon and Danny Kortchmar, first appears on her Letters Never Sent album

So in that climate, you do not need an American government official looking at the bombings and seeing 'benefits'. Such an official encourages charges and hatred and it won't be his or her butt in Iraq, it will be US service members and diplomatic staff who will have to deal with the fall out. If Stephen Biddle (whom I loathe) made that statement, it wouldn't matter. He's a private citizen. But when a government official makes it, the statement carries more weight and, considering the climate in Iraq, it was an irresponsible remark. Barack should ask the person to step forward and resign or be fired. I don't mean a witch hunt. If the person's not honorable enough to step forward, there are other things to address. But the request should be made and, if the anonymous official has any self-respect, he or she would resign.

Repeating, that is not a "Private citizens should watch what they say." I'm not Ari. A private citizen can say whatever they want. But for a government official to make that statement? It's not helpful and it risks the lives of Americans in Iraq. (It also undermines administration policies but I'm not overly concerned with that. Although the press is still giving the administration a ride, the reality is that by March everything had descended to petty turf wars and there's so much acrimony and rivalry that nothing's going to be accomplished without a serious shake up at the White House. At the White House. This has nothing to do with State or any other department. The departments are largely running fine and, at State, Hillary's really boosted morale. But at the White House, there is no sense of a team and only petty rivalries and never ending scorecards of real and imagined sleights.)

Along with feeding fears, the statements also show a lack of compassion. Adam Ashton (McClatchy Newspapers) notes:

"Where are the police? I lost a brother, and they are sitting in their cars with air conditioning," said Um Khatab, whose 42-year-old brother died when the floor where he worked at the Foreign Ministry collapsed in the day's largest bombing.
Her cries of mourning reverberated in the street while teams of police officers sifted through the site, making their way past burnt-out cars and scorched pavement.

That woman has enough to deal with. She doesn't also need some smug, US government official trying to turn her tragedy into a 'teachable moment.' Sam Dagher (New York Times) reports:

A senior Shiite politician went on Iraqiya to call on Mr. Maliki to fire the security and intelligence officials responsible for the areas that were attacked.
"We must punish those who made mistakes," said the politician, Hadi al-Ameri.

Accountability shouldn't just be for Iraqis.

In their editorial "Violence in Iraq: The limits of restraint," the Guardian estimates that almost 700 Iraqis have died since the June 30th (limited) handover and (limited) pull-back.

The cocky reaction of Iraqi generals and police chiefs when the Americans began their withdrawal to the sidelines looks pretty overblown in retrospect. Not only could they handle security as well as the Americans, some of these officers implied, they could handle it better with the foreigners out of the way. Now the Iraqi forces are face to face with their own deficiencies. Major General Qassim al-Moussawi, one of their commanders, was reduced yesterday to saying on state television that they "must take most of the blame". American journalists, reporting in recent weeks on the few joint operations that the two armies are now conducting, have picked up on the many bad habits that the training programmes have failed to eradicate, from slackness in patrolling to knocking off for tea at inappropriate moments. In a report which caused a stir when it became public two weeks ago, Colonel Timothy Reese, a senior US military adviser, listed corruption, poor management, lack of initiative, and failure to resist pressure from Shia political parties as unhappy characteristics of the Iraqi security forces.

"There comes a time when silence is betrayal" is one of two quotes by MLK that Cindy Sheehan notes in "We Have the Moral High Ground" (Cindy's Soapbox):

I remember back in the good ol' days of 2005 and 2006 when being against the wars was not only politically correct, but it was very popular. I remember receiving dozens of awards, uncountable accolades and even was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize.
Those were the halcyon days of the anti-war movement before the Democrats took over the government (off of the backs of the anti-war movement) and it became anathema to be against the wars and I became unpopular on all sides. I guess at that point, I could have gone with the flow and pretended to support the violence so I could remain popular, but I think I have to fiercely hold on to my core values whether I am "liked" or not.
Killing is wrong no matter if it is state-sanction murder or otherwise. Period. Not too much more to say on that subject, except what I quote above from Dr. King.
However, while the so-called left is obsessed over supporting a very crappy Democratic health care plan, people in far away countries are being deprived of their health and very lives by the Obama Regime's continuation of Bush's ruinous foreign policy.

We'll close with the opening of Sherwood Ross' "Congress Shirks Its Responsibility, Allows White House to Make Wars" (New Zealand's Scoop):

On occasion, critics of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars have questioned, with good reason, whether the American war in Afghanistan has been carried far beyond what Congress authorized. This raises a fundamental question that has bedeviled the country since 1950.
Although the Constitution requires Congress to make the decision to go to war and to decide the kind of war to be fought (navel, land, air), since the Korean conflict it has largely abdicated that responsibility to the president, says a law school dean and authority on the issue. The result has been more frequent (and frequently misguided) wars, than there would have been had Congress done its duty.
"Since 1950, the constitutional plan (of America’s founders) has been destroyed, and the power to start wars without a previous Congressional declaration or authorization has been claimed by every President except Eisenhower," says Lawrence Velvel, dean of the Masachusetts School of Law at Andover.
The framers of the Constitution put the decision-making power on war in Congress because "they felt that war was a disaster and the Executive was too prone to war," Velvel said. Today, with regard to war "we have inverted the constitutional plan, and war is decided upon not by Congress, but by the President."
Velvel, who has written extensively on the issue, said the only power the Founders left to the President was his authority to repel an immediate attack on American lives, property or territory---a power he cannot lawfully inflate into a continuing war. The Founders "deliberately rejected the British system in which the king made the decision to go to war, with his powers being facilitated because he had a standing army, could provide navies, and could raise monies for the armed services," Velvel pointed out.

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sam dagher

cindy sheehan