Monday, August 2, 2010. Chaos and violence continue, Barry offers more pretty lies, Nouri thinks Iraqis want a weak prime minister, Iraq sees more violence last month than in the last two years, and more.
Princess Tiny Meat took both inches to Atlanta, Georgia where he addressed the Disabled American Veterans. (Click here for the speech at the White House website.) Remember kiddies, vote for a fool who worships Ronald Reagan, don't be surprised by the s**t that flows out of his mouth. Which is how we got stuck with the hoariest of right-wing lies, "Many of you served in the jungles of Vietnam. You also served with honor, but were often shunned when you came home." Princess Tiny Meat's suffering from Rambo damage and apparently jerking both inches raw to a Bedtime for Bonzo poster. What now, Tom Hayden, now that your man's broken your heart yet again?
Celebrity in chief Barry O declared: "As a candidate for President, I pledged to bring the war in Iraq to a responsible end. Shortly after taking office, I announced our new strategy for Iraq and for a transition to full Iraqi responsibility. And I made it clear that by August 31, 2010 America's combat mission in Iraq would end. And that is exactly what we are doing -- as promised, on schedule."
Turning to the US presidential race. Barack Obama? Arab News notes, "For Obama, who recently changed his positions on campaign finance and a wiretapping law, the suggestion that he was also changing course on a central premise of his candidacy holds particular peril. While Obama has long said he would consult commanders in the field when withdrawing troops, that point might have been lost on many Democratic primary voters who supported his call to end the war." What's going on? A bit of reality on War Hawk Barack. Suzanne Goldenberg (Guardian of London) puts it this way, ".Barack Obama was yesterday fending off charges from right and left that he had abandoned the core premise of his candidacy - the withdrawal of all US combat forces from Iraq within 16 months of taking office - in an attempt to attract voters from the political centre." Suzanne's a little out of it. So were Katrina vanden Heuvel and Arianna Huffington on ABC's This Week last Sunday. Withdrawal in 16 months? That's 'so January 2008.' Barack promised withdrawal of all (combat) troops within 10 months in a speech in Houston, Texas. Always one to carry water for Barack, Tom Hayden immediately penned "End the War in 2009" (which popped up online at The Nation, Feb. 20th and elsewhere a bit later). Hayden: "In his victory speech in Texas Tuesday, Barack Obama promised to end the Iraq war in 2009, a new commitment that parallels recent opinion pieces in The Nation. Prior to his Houston remarks, Obama's previous position favored an American combat troop withdrawal over a sixteen-to-eighteen-month timeframe. He has been less specific on the number and mission of any advisors he would elave behind." (The Texas primary was in March. Barack was in Texas campaigning, for any more confused than usual by Tom-Tom's bad-bad writing.) Texas community members saw the 10 month 'promise' pushed in advertising as well as on the campaign trail. Those were his words (and Tom-Tom notes 'words matter') so let's all drop the nonsense that Barack's plan was 16 months (or at least leave the lying to Katrina who's become so very good at it). Goldenberg's uninformed, ignorant or lying -- take your pick. In her piece (dated tomorrow), she traces the uproar to Thursday when Barack said he might 'refine' his Iraq 'plan.' If that's when the uproar started, is Arianna Huffington psychic? Arianna was calling him out for 'refining' on Iraq Sunday on This Week. More water carrying from the allegedly 'independent' Guardian of London (which never wrote about the Downing Street Memos because 'independence' did not include informing people that Tony Blair lied England into an illegal war -- no time for 'truth-telling' while Blair was in office at any rate.) CNN reports that presumed GOP presidential candidate John McCain and the RNC are calling Barack a "flip-flopper" and they quote Barack's 'clarification' where Barack lies and says he has always said 16 months. No, Barack, you went to ten months in February. AP reports he celebrated the 4th of July in Butte, Montana (Kansas, he's done with you, he got what he needed) eating a hot dog. Tom Baldwin (Times of London) observes, "Grassroots activists whose energy and donations have helped to propel Barack Obama towards the White House are suddenly choking on the bitter pill of disillusion. In less than a month since clinching the Democratic nomination, he has performed a series of policy pirouettes to assuage concerns about his candidacy among a wider and more conservative electorate." Geoff Elliott (The Australian) points out, "Barack Obama has started a dramtic reversal of the policies that helped him defeat Hillary Clinton for the presidential nomination, softening hardlines stances on the Iraq war and troop withdrawals.
Campaigning in North Dakota, Senator Obama said that while the US could not sustain a long-term presence in Iraq, his trip to the Gulf nation this month might prompt him to "refine my policies" on the war." John Bentley (CBS News) quotes Brian Rogers of the McCain campaign stating, "Today, Barack Obama reversed that position, proving once again his words do not matter. He has now adopted John McCain's position that we cannot risk the progress we have made in Iraq by beginning to withdraw our troops immediately without concern for conditions on the ground. Now that Barack Obama has changed course and proven his past positions to be just empty words, we would like to congratulate him on taking John McCain's principled stand on this critical national security issue. If he had visited Iraq sooner or actually had a one-on-one meeting with Gen. Petraeus, he would have changed his position long ago." Jonathan Weisman (Washington Post) terms it Barack exploring "the possibility of slowing a promised, gradual withdrawal from Iraq". NPR has two audio reports here.
He started campaigning by promising sixteen months -- and Barack's groupies never called out his grandstanding proposal/demand on Bush in 2007 that would have forced Bush to pull out sooner had it passed -- and he quickly dropped it to ten. Words mattered, whine Tom-Tom Hayden. At least once upon a time. Ten months went and now 16 months have passed by. Tom's old man, poor Tom Hayden.
Go look at your eyes
They're full of moon
You like roses and kisses and pretty men to tell you
All those pretty lies, pretty lies
When you gonna realize they're only pretty lies
Only pretty lies, just pretty lies
-- "The Last Time I Saw Richard," written by Joni Mitchell, from her seminal benchmark Blue
I don't need any one to tell me pretty lies. Reality is that Barack didn't keep his promise. That's reality. Reality is also that screaming "We want to end the war and we want to end it now!" as his tent revivals of the Cult of St. Barack led many people to believe that the sixteen month or ten month 'withdrawal' meant all US troops home. It was "We want to end the war and we want to end it now!" Not "We want to end the war and leave behind 50,000 US troops!" (Or, for that matter, militarize the State Dept.)
Pretty men who tell you pretty lies. Just pretty lies.
Barry O exclaimed, "Today -- even as terrorists try to derail Iraq's progress -- because of the sacrifices of our troops and their Iraqi partners, violence in Iraq continues to be near the lowest it's been in years." He's as bad a liar as Bush. First off, AFP led the pack Saturday with the report of July's violence (see "Over 535 people killed in Iraq in the month of July") making July the deadliest month for Iraq in two years and two months time. Salam Faraj (AFP) reports, "July was the deadliest month in Iraq since May 2008 [. . .] The figures show a sharp upswing in the level of violence nearly five months after parliamentary elections which have yet to result in the formation of a new government and as the United States continues a major withdrawal of its forces." And this was Iraqi figures, furnished by the Iraqi government. A government notorious for undercounting the dead. As for "terrorists," try Iraqis. Iraqis unhappy with a government installed by the US. Howard LaFranchi (Christian Science Monitor) reports, "Obama's positive words about Iraq, both at West Point and Monday in Atlanta, were reminiscent of former President Bush's talk of 'mission accomplished' and implanting 'democracy' in Iraq. Republican leaders are already suggesting the 'Obama as Bush' response they are preparing for the president as he draws attention to the transition in Iraq."
Armstrongx15: You wonder what happens to these people as they get into power -- They tell the same convincing lies that past politicians in other wars spread. They disgust me so utterly I'm glad I've not had my lunch.
AlanMoore: They're still there, still fighting . . in what was is this the end of anything?
BlueMoonRising: [Quoting Barack] "Let us never forget -- it was Afghanistan where al-Qaida plotted and trained to murder 3,000 innocent people on 9/11." So why did you kill 500,000 iraqis then? Oh i remember, all that oil your stealing...."
LorienQuestion: Should be interesting to see what happens in 2011, when all of the US troops will supposedly be withdrawn. My guess, is that in insurgency will be so strong by then that Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki will have a change of heart in 2011 and ask for some "Non-Combat?'' America troops to remain. What amazes me the most is this, we seen how terrorist/insurgencies/violent anti-government/etc/ forces operate never before has an insurgency force remain so active and competent for so long. Taken in the consideration, that the opposing force is so technically advance, and numerous; usually as time goes on resources get used up, veteran insurgency officers get killed or captured, all of these things should be difficult to replace and have a detrimental effect on the insurgency efforts, especially with 85,000 American troops etc.
smellyecoli2: I believe every word said by our dear President Obama.I believe in the tooth fairy,the man in the moon and I do speak with Elvis each night as we have dinner!!!
Iraqi reaction? Kathleen Hennessey and Liz Sly (Los Angeles Times) quote women's rights activist Basma Khatib, "Iraqis had hoped they would have a strong independent government by now, but no one expected it to drag on this long. It's a big mess and things might get a lot worse if we don't have a government soon."
In the US, Stephen M. Walt (Foreign Policy) offers this take, "Obama didn't get us into Iraq, and he's doing the right thing to get us out more-or-less on the schedule that the Bush adminstration negotiated back in 2008. But it's now clear that the much-vaunted 'surge' was a strategic failure, and Iraq could easily spin back out of control once U.S. forces are gone. Even in the best case, Iraq can only be judged a defeat for the United States: we will have spent trillions of dollars and lost thousands of lives in order to bring to power an unstable government that is sympathetic to Iran and unlikely to be particularly friendly to the United States. Americans don't like losing, however, and Obama is going to get blamed for this outcome even though it was entirely his predecessor's fault." Brian Montopoli (CBS News) takes on the issue of "non-combat" troops:
Last year, I asked Defense Secretary Robert Gates to explain the difference between combat troops and "non-combat" troops. The "non-combat" troops, I noted, will still be capable of engaging the enemy. Gates insisted there would be a significant difference between the activities of combat and non-combat troops.
"All of the combat units will be out of Iraq by the end of August  and those that are left will have a combat capability," he said. "There will be, as the president said, targeted counterterrorism operations. There will be continued embeds with some of the Iraqi forces in a training capacity and so on."
He continued: "So there will be the capability, but the units will be gone, and, more importantly, the mission will have changed. And so the notion of being engaged in combat in the way we have been up until now will be completely different."
So while the troops will be "non-combat," they will still be engaged in "targeted counterterrorism operations" and working and fighting alongside Iraqi forces, according to Gates.
The wars since 2001 have cost more than $1 trillion, thousands of American servicemen and women have been killed our wounded, and more than a million innocent Iraqis have lost their lives. Even as our emphasis has shifted to the war in Afghansitan, civilian casualties are still higher in Iraq. The majority of American people do not want this war and they are looking to their leaders to end this disastrous misadventure. We cannot end the war and leave 50,000 U.S. soldiers behind. We cannot be in and out at the same time; we cannot put this war behind us until we end it; we cannot end it until all the troops are home. Although the Status Of Forces Agreement (SOFA), which was negotiated by the Bush Administration and governs the U.S. presence in Iraq, states that all U.S. forces must leave Iraq by the end of 2011, the Agreement could be renegotiated. Private security forces, operating under the Department of State, could replace American service members. The SOFA originally called for the withdrawal of all U.S. combat troops by June of last year. The Adminsitration pushed back the deadline for withdrawal due to increasing violence in Iraq. Even as American combat troops are withdrawn over the next month, the Iraqi government faces increasing sectarian violence and civilian casualties, as a coalition government is yet to be formed. Further complicating the U.S. status in Iraq is a recent report by the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction which states that the Department of Defense cannot properly account for $8.9 billion in Iraqi oil funds meant for reconstruction efforts.
Senator Russ Feingold: Thank you, sir. The State Dept is planning to make up for the departure of US troops by doubling its security contractors. Even though such contractors often don't have the essential security capabilities that are provided by our troops. I'm concerned this will be dangerous and also lead to a situation where we don't have meaningful control over our own contractors. What alternatives have you considered?
Ambassador James Jeffrey: Senator, this is an extremely important point. Uh, if confirmed as chief of mission, my first responsibility will be for the safety and security of the personnel under my supervision and I've put a lot of time and effort into looking at this. Uhm. The -- after the incident in 2007 in Baghdad involving the Blackwater security people, the State Dept did a very thorough investigation called the Kennedy Report. I've read that report. It concluded -- and I think that this conclusion remains true today -- that the State Dept has done a very good job in an extremely lethal environment protecting its people and keeping them alive and safe; however, there needed to be certain steps, technical steps, rule of engagement steps, coordination steps -- coordination both with the US military and with the Iraq authorities, and more supervision. Now we put, uh, a direct hire State Dept officer or person with all movements So -- And we have more technical control through, uh, basically recordings, audio and video equipment and such so that we're able to determine what happened and review any incident and since then there has not been a serious incident. But I want to underscore, this is a very, very difficult mission. This is, uh, uh, a defensive mission, not an offensive one, but it involves thousands of people, many movements in a very lethal environment and it is something we have to remain very concerned about.
Ranking Member Richard Lugar: While making fewer headlines, the situation in Iraq continues to be vital to the national security of the United States. Iraq held parliamentary elections on March 7, 2009, but an agreement on who will be the Prime Minister may not be concluded for several months. The redeployment of American forces in Iraq has begun, and by September, all but 50,000 U.S. troops will have departed the country. President Obama has said that by the end of 2011, all US troops will be out of Iraq. Plans submitted by the Administration suggest that US involvement in Iraq will remain robust well beyond that with more than 5,000 diplomats and civilian advisers working with civil society and the Iraqi government. The uncertain political situation creates risks for our transition plans. Our military has been involved in areas of governance far beyond security and turning over those critical responsibilities will be challenging. The State Dept has asked for more than $800 million in start-up costs for a police mentoring and training program. The program envisions having 350 advisors at three camps who will fan out to 50 sites in the country, about half of which would be reachable by ground and the rest requiring air support. With the military's departure, we are told, the Dept may hire as many as 7,000 contract security personnel. An AP article last month suggested the Iraq mission would need the equivalent of a squadron of Blackhawk helicopters, 50 ambush-protected vehicles and equipment to protect against rockets and mortars. It is important that the Administration flesh out how all the pieces of this unprecedented operation will fit together in Iraq as American troops depart.
Turning to the violence, last night we noted how you could find news of the violence at Al Jazeera, but at other places, no one wanted to offend the US military brass which had long laid down the rule that the ethnic cleansing period ("civil war" -- 2006 to 2007) would be the benchmark for violence and nothing else would matter. NPR, go to their Iraq page, did feature a report by Kelly McEvers -- a lengthy report -- in the hourly news during Weekend Edition but somehow they never got around to posting that report to their website. No, they didn't. Voice of America -- a US propaganda outlet which cannot legally broadcast in the US -- had the story of the ncrease in violence up at their website, but NPR didn't. And it wasn't just NPR. Sure, you can find it at the wire services (AFP, Reuters, UPI, AP). You can find CNN's wire service (which a number of papers are beginning to carry more regularly including the San Francisco Chronicle). You can find it via China's Xinhua. But, on Sunday, where wa the New York Times, where was the Washington Post, where was the Tribune papers (LA Times, Chicago Tribune, etc.), where was McClatchy, where was the Wall St. Journal, where was the Christian Science Monitor? All the US dailies that still have Iraq desks apparently went out for drinks early yesterdy and are still tying one on. Binge drinking is certainly a nicer hypothesis than a news blackout to assist the government, so let's just go with that, okay? Of the major US daily newspapers, only the Wall St. Journal (here) and the Washington Post (here and here) even bother to post wire stories on the violence at their websites (both go with AP stories). Violence is up but US outlets have a really difficult time telling you about that. Why is that? Are they serving the news consumer or are they serving the military brass?
They were serving the military. Tim Arango explains that in today's New York Times. Arango's mistaken that AP had the story first. AFP had the story first and I know that because it was an AFP editor that called me Saturday and told me about the story while they were breaking it. AP didn't even have the story at that point. In fairness to Arango, AFP is foreign based and he may be just be noting AP because it's US-based. At any rate, is Iraq a soverign country?
And, apparently, we don't have a free press in the US.
Arango explains that US news or 'news' outlets were given the figures by the Iraqi ministries but that the US military disputed the figures.
The Iraqi ministries keep these figures, these figures are usually a vast undercount, and the press runs with them each month. Except for July. For July the same ministries provide the figures that the press always runs with and now they want to stop because the US military is dictating what?
The US military is running Iraq? The US military is running the press? Both? What's the deal?
Arango's report informs you that when the US military says "stop the presses" our so-called free press complies. If it's a free country, if it's a sovereign country, than the numbers released by the Iraqi ministries really shouldn't have resulted in a "stop the presses!" move by the US military. What a shameful and telling moment about the state of the US press, a government -- an alleged sovereign nation -- releases official statistics from their ministries -- as they do each month -- and because a foreign military (the US military) disagrees with the numbers, the press fails to report on them.
Let's cover violence.
Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Sunday Mosul roadside bombing which left five people wounded. Sahar Issa also reports a Baghdad roadside bombing today which claimed 2 lives and left four people injured, a Mosul bombing which injured six people, a Mosul roadside bombing which wounded "two little girls," a Mosul roadside bombing which left two members of the police force wounded, a Mosul car bombing which claimed two lives and a Garma home bombing which claimed the lives of 1 police officer, "his wife and 11-year-old son" while leaving a seven-year-old son injured. Reuters adds that two Mosul hand grenade attacks resulted in six people being injured.
Meanwhile Lara Jakes (AP) quotes Nouri al-Maliki stating, "I do not sweet talk. They say they want a weak prime minister." Strangely, that wasn't Little Nouri's campaign pitch as he attempts to remain prime minister.
March 7th, Iraq concluded Parliamentary elections. Three months and two days later, still no government. 163 seats are needed to form the executive government (prime minister and council of ministers). When no single slate wins 163 seats (or possibly higher -- 163 is the number today but the Parliament added seats this election and, in four more years, they may add more which could increase the number of seats needed to form the executive government), power-sharing coalitions must be formed with other slates, parties and/or individual candidates. (Eight Parliament seats were awarded, for example, to minority candidates who represent various religious minorities in Iraq.) Ayad Allawi is the head of Iraqiya which won 91 seats in the Parliament making it the biggest seat holder. Second place went to State Of Law which Nouri al-Maliki, the current prime minister, heads. They won 89 seats. Nouri made a big show of lodging complaints and issuing allegations to distract and delay the certification of the initial results while he formed a power-sharing coalition with third place winner Iraqi National Alliance -- this coalition still does not give them 163 seats. They are claiming they have the right to form the government. It's four months and five days and, in 2005, Iraq took four months and seven days to pick a prime minister. It's now 4 months and 26 days. Sunday Ernesto Londono (Washingont Post) reported that the Iraqi National Alliance has broken off talks with Nouri's State Of Law -- apparently damaging Nouri's efforts to remain a strong-man/dictator in Iraq -- and MP Bahaa al-Aaraji is quoted stating, "We found that our negotiations with State of Law weren't serious." Yes, that might be why Nouri's whining today. Saturday Ernesto Londono (Washington Post) reported Ayad Allawi was predicting that "a breakthrough is unlikely before September or October because little official business is conducted during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, which begins in mid-August."
3 days after documents of 8 years of war crimes against the people of Afghanistan were leaked, what does the U.S. government do? Admit or apologize for the crimes? No -- go after the leakers! Pentagon Launches 'Manhunt' for Document Leaker. Cut off the funding for the wars? No, vote another $59 billion! On Friday U.S. Conducts Afghan massacre - On Tuesday Congress Votes to fund more death. The massive release of documents by Wikileaks.org only proves what our movement has been saying for years: the illegitimate occupation is built on regarding all civillians as potential enemies, killing them in strikes from the air, detaining them indefinitely, depriving them of safe havens from either the Taliban, the war lords in Karzai's government, or US troops, and carving up the resources under Afghanistan for foreign use. In the name of a war for empire, everyone here and there is less safe.