Friday, September 03, 2010

The never-ending Iraq War

The poster behind the Iraqi general's desk was of an M1 Abrams battle tank. When his cellphone rang, it played the theme song from the Clint Eastwood movie "The Good, the Bad and the Ugly."
It is not hard to believe such a man when he says that Iraq will continue to need the Americans after 2011.
But continued American help does not necessarily mean continued combat troops, insisted Maj. Gen. Mohammed al-Askari, the spokesman for Iraq's Ministry of Defense.
General Askari and his aides were in full damage-control mode throughout the buildup to President Obama's declaration of an end to combat operations on Aug. 31. Even as the American military was seeking to rebrand the mission from one of combat to one of training, the Iraqis were given an unwanted Ramadan headache by quotes attributed to Iraq's chief of staff, Lt. Gen. Babaker B. Shawkat Zebari, saying that the Iraqi Army may not be ready to defend the nation until 2020.

That's the opening to Stephen Farrell's "Iraqi Military Adjusts to U.S. Support, Minus Combat Troops" and the bad news for subscribers to the New York Times is that the article isn't in print. You can find it online at the paper's At War Blog. We went with the opening above because it's a strong one but you can grab any section of the long article and it's got to be one of the strongest overseas reports the paper's filed this week. As noted, it's a long article and the good thing for journalism is that, online, it's allowed to be. Had it been printed, it would have been butchered for space constraints. The other positive is that by being original online content (and strong content), it can increase the paper's online presence.

Leila Fadel (Washington Post) continues to report on Iraqis reactions to Barack's Tuesday night speech and today she focuses on the Kurds:

"They decided to finish it, but they know it's not over," Othman said Thursday. "War with terrorism is here, and Iranian intervention is here. They are lying to tell their people that they left behind a government that is capable and Iraqi security forces that are capable. . . . There is no government, the people don't have confidence in the Iraqi security forces, and Iraqi suffering is increasing."
Many people here say that they did not expect Obama's declaration to sound so final or that Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates would acknowledge that the war is over, albeit "clouded" by its start in a U.S.-led invasion based on a false premise.
"I'm disappointed by this new administration," Othman said. "They want to run away from Iraq."
He also criticized Vice President Biden's trip to Baghdad this week to mark the end of the U.S. combat mission, questioning why Biden did not hold a news conference while he was here. "This is America - it's supposed to be transparent," he said.

Arab News also reports
on Iraq reactions: "Biden called on Iraqi leaders to speed up the process of forming a government. 'They said they have withdrawn, but they are still controlling us. They are the ones who make the decisions in Iraq,' Um Ahmed, a 42-year-old housewife, said."

In early 2005, Jill Carroll reported on the emerging threats to women's rights in Iraq for the Christian Science Monitor:

Covered in layers of flowing black fabric that extend to the tips of her gloved hands, Jenan al-Ubaedy knows her first priority as one of some 90 women who will sit in the national assembly: implementing Islamic law.
She is quick to tick off what sharia will mean for married women. "[The husband] can beat his wife but not in a forceful way, leaving no mark. If he should leave a mark, he will pay," she says of a system she supports. "He can beat her when she is not obeying him in his rights. We want her to be educated enough that she will not force him to beat her, and if he beats her with no right, we want her to be strong enough to go to the police."
Broadening support for sharia may not have been the anticipated outcome of the US mandate that women make up one third of the national assembly. But Dr. Ubaedy's vision is shared by many members of the United Iraqi Alliance, a list of religious Shiite candidates that won a majority of seats. She says the women on the UIA list are meeting now to coordinate their agendas and reach out to women from other parties.

On Antiwar Radio, Scott Horton does a roundtable with's Jason Ditz and Kelley B. Vlahos and Horton brings up a 2005 Christian Science Monitor article (I believe it's the Carroll article excerpted above, I could be wrong) and how he asked Dahr Jamail if things were really bad for women as the article indicated. Dahr agreed that it was and we'll pick up with Kelley B. Vlahos.

Kelly B. Vlahos: Well I think that's the dirty little secret of this war and, again, something that you never would have heard in Obama's speech last night, is despite all this talk about freedom and democracy, we've created an ultra-religious Shia state. And that's, you know -- far be it from me to impose my values but that we spent close to a trillion dollars on these wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and what we've gotten is completely the opposite of what we were told we were fighting for. We do have women who are basically bought and sold like chattel and mistreated by their husbands and cloaked in burkas and whatever. This -- This is, like I said, diametrically opposed to our -- to our -- the belief that we were going over there to 'liberate' a people. And like Jason said and like you said and like Dahr said, this is happening and it's been happening for years. It's just that the media has chosen not to focus on the religiosity of the movement in southern Iraq right now. And it's really, you know, a real sad state. And I'd like to go back for a second, we were talking about the quality of life. You know, Michael O'Hanlon who, as you know, is a mouthpiece for the basically the pro-war faction of the Washington establishment loves to turn to this Iraq Index that the Brookings Institute puts out. You know, in a recent op-ed, he said, 'Well, you know, if you look at our index, it shows that things are better for Iraqis today and Iraqis support America more than ever since the 2003 invasion.' Well I went on that Iraq Index and a lot of these metrics have not been updated since 2009. And I don't know where he's getting this pro-American polling results from either because the last polling they did was in January 2010 was of maybe 1500 Iraqis who said 51% said that things may be better for them in 2010 and that's the last of the polling I found in there index.

Scott Horton also interviews Aaron Glantz here
and it's a real shame that the money-losing Pacifica refused to fund War Comes Home despite all their public promises. The promised program and website quickly disappeared. But they've wasted everyone's time with that ridiculous (and cheap) Letters From Washington which basically does nothing you can't catch Leigh Ann Caldwell already doing on Pacifica. War Comes Home had something worth saying and it raised funds -- something Letters From Washington hasn't done -- as a result of carrying Winter Soldier.

Matthew Rusling (Xinhua) has a strong article on the justifications some are currently offering for the illegal war. I don't have time to refute them this morning but I'm sure, as you read along, you'll catch how self-deluding many of the 'experts' are.

TV notes. On PBS' Washington Week, Dan Balz (Washington Post), John Dickerson (CBS News, Slate), Doyle McManus (Los Angeles Times) and Deborah Solomon (Wall St. Journal) join Gwen around the table. Gwen now has a weekly column at Washington Week and the current one is "Why We Love It When the President Goes Away." This week, Bonnie Erbe will sit down with Karen Czarnecki, Cari Dominguez, Melinda Henneberger and Eleanor Holmes Norton on the latest broadcast of PBS' To The Contrary to discuss the week's events. And this week's To The Contrary online extra is about gay Republicans coming out of the closet. Need To Know is PBS' new program covering current events. This week's hour long broadcast airs Fridays on most PBS stations -- but check local listings -- and it explores the money behind and in the 2010 mid-term elections. And turning to broadcast TV, Sunday CBS' 60 Minutes offers:

The $60 Billion Fraud
Medicare and Medicaid fraudsters are beating U.S. taxpayers out of an estimated $90 billion a year - $60 billion of it from Medicare - using a billing scam that is surprisingly easy to execute. Steve Kroft investigates Medicare. | Watch Video

The SEED School
There's a unique school that's giving kids from an inner-city neighborhood that only graduates 33 percent of its high school students a shot at college they never had before. Byron Pitts reports on SEED School, the first urban, public boarding school. | Watch Video

Tennis Twins
Pro tennis' leading doubles champions are identical twins who are so coordinated on the court that their opponents actually suspect they have twin telepathy. Lesley Stahl reports. | Watch Video

60 Minutes, Sunday, Sept. 5, at 7 p.m. ET/PT.

And, radio note, on The Diane Rehm Show (begins airing on most NPR stations and streaming live at 10:00 am EST), Diane's joined for the first hour (domestic) by panelists John Dickerson (CBS News, Slate), Susan Page (USA Today) and Jerry Seib (Wall St. Journal) and for the second hour (international) by Youchi Dreazen (National Journal), Adberrahim Foukara (Al Jazeera) and Kevin Whitelaw (Congressional Quarterly).

We're again noting Sherwood Ross' "Obama and His Family Tied To CIA For Years, Investigative Reporter Says" (Bohdi Thunder):

President Obama---as well as his mother, father, step-father and grandmother---all were connected to the Central Intelligence Agency---possibly explaining why the President praises the “Agency”and declines to prosecute its officials for their crimes, an investigative reporter says.
According to a published report in the September “Rock Creek Free Press” of Washington, D.C., investigative reporter Wayne Madsen says Obama's mother Ann Dunham worked “on behalf of a number of CIA front operations, including the East-West Center at the University of Hawaii, the U.S. Agency for International Development(USAID), and the Ford Foundation.” The East-West Center had long been affiliated with CIA activities in the Asia-Pacific region, Madsen says.

I believe it was well before John Pilger noted Barack's CIA-ties that Ava and I noted in a TV commentary at Third that an 'independent' media type was vouching for Barack. I believe it was Elaine who explained online how she and I knew the CIA agent. I'll go ahead and put it here. We were in England years and years ago (during Vietnam) when Elaine was dating a member of the British government and we were at a state dinner. This ghastly woman -- that we always avoided in America -- began heading towards us in all her tugboat glory and loudly calling our names out. Elaine's then-boyfriend made a comment he didn't finish and that was rather oblique but I rightly guessed (and he confirmed when I did) that the reason he loathed the woman was that she was CIA. It was no surprise to see the old whore turn up vouching for Ann Dumham in 2008. She did many of the things Ann did for country and I'll bite my tongue on Ann for now. But the little whore was on TV vouching for Ann and doing so as 'independent' media. And the whore's outlet has no money, makes no money. As Ava and I explained in real time, the outlet is a CIA front company. You need to be very careful about which 'indpendent' media you consume. And CIA whores should probably think twice before busting their own cover by explaining how they know Ann during TV interviews.

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