Tuesday, November 16, 2010

White House works to continue the Iraq War

A special envoy from President Barack Obama raised the possibility in a secret meeting with senior Iraqi military and civilian officials in Baghdad Sep. 23 that his administration would leave more than 15,000 combat troops in Iraq after the 2011 deadline for U.S. withdrawal, according to a senior Iraqi intelligence official familiar with the details of the meeting.
But the White House official, Puneet Talwar, special assistant to the president and senior director for the Gulf States, Iran and Iraq on the National Security Council (NSC) staff, said the deployment would have to be handled in a way that was consistent the president's pledge to withdraw U.S. troops completely from Iraq under the 2008 agreement, the official said.

The above is from Gareth Porter's "U.S. Envoy Secretly Offered Troops in Iraq after 2011" (IPS). It's probably one of the most important articles of the week so look for it to be roundly ignored. If pressed, it may be turned into an aside but never anything more. We're not supposed to notice reality and certainly not supposed to call out the Christ-child as the liar he is (see "TV: Hermetically sealed 'independent' media" for one reason why). It's more important for some to cover and lie than to end an illegal war. Notice who made the offer -- NSC. NSC? The militarization of diplomacy, as we've repeatedly pointed out, is being done by the NSC. That's why the new US Ambassador to Iraq was selected. It's why, while Barack's silent on the targeting of Iraqi Christians, the NSC has now issued two statements this month decrying the targeting. It goes back to who Barack tasked the issue of Iraq to after the 2008 elections and before he was sworn in -- a known liar who far too many treated as a sympathetic figure. Porter tells more truth than many want to hear.

Meanwhile US paid Hiwa Osman shows up at Rudaw where he launches a broadside on Iraqiya that makes little sense unless you're aware that he served three years (2005 through 2008) as media advisor to Jalal Talabani. Considering the huge screw ups the Kurds may have made in order to save the presidency for Jalal Talabani (see yesterday's snapshot), it's only natural that Osman would attempt to spin in order to shift the focus away from the embarrassment which is his former boss. While that may be understandable, putting Osman on the US payroll is not -- especially when no one bothered to teach him that if you're writing of and citing Jalal, your former boss, it's your obligation to disclose that relationship in your article. Apparently, time is made to teach spying at the Institute for War and Peace Reporting but they forget to teach journalism ethics like disclosure and conflict of interest.

March 7th, Iraq concluded Parliamentary elections. The Guardian's editorial board noted in August, "These elections were hailed prematurely by Mr Obama as a success, but everything that has happened since has surely doused that optimism in a cold shower of reality." 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. November 10th a power sharing deal resulted in the Parliament meeting for the second time and voting in a Speaker. And then Iraqiya felt double crossed on the deal and the bulk of their members stormed out of the Parliament. David Ignatius (Washington Post) explains, "The fragility of the coalition was dramatically obvious Thursday as members of the Iraqiya party, which represents Sunnis, walked out of Parliament, claiming that they were already being double-crossed by Maliki. Iraqi politics is always an exercise in brinkmanship, and the compromises unfortunately remain of the save-your-neck variety, rather than reflecting a deeper accord. " After that, Jalal Talabani was voted President of Iraq. Talabani then named Nouri as the prime minister-delegate. If Nouri can meet the conditions outlined in Article 76 of the Constitution (basically nominate ministers for each council and have Parliament vote to approve each one with a minimum of 163 votes each time and to vote for his council program) within thirty days, he becomes the prime minister. If not, Talabani must name another prime minister-delegate. . In 2005, Iraq took four months and seven days to pick a prime minister-delegate. It took eight months and two days to name Nouri as prime minister-delegate. His first go-round, on April 22, 2006, his thirty day limit kicked in. May 20, 2006, he announced his cabinet -- sort of. Sort of because he didn't nominate a Minister of Defense, a Minister of Interior and a Minister of a Natioanl Security. This was accomplished, John F. Burns wrote in "For Some, a Last, Best Hope for U.S. Efforts in Iraq" (New York Times), only with via "muscular" assistance from the Bush White House. Nouri declared he would be the Interior Ministry temporarily. Temporarily lasted until June 8, 2006. This was when the US was able to strong-arm, when they'd knocked out the other choice for prime minister (Ibrahim al-Jaafari) to install puppet Nouri and when they had over 100,000 troops on the ground in Iraq. Nouri had no competition. That's very different from today. The Constitution is very clear and it is doubtful his opponents -- including within his own alliance -- will look the other way if he can't fill all the posts in 30 days. As Leila Fadel (Washington Post) observes, "With the three top slots resolved, Maliki will now begin to distribute ministries and other top jobs, a process that has the potential to be as divisive as the initial phase of government formation." Jane Arraf (Christian Science Monitor) points out, "Maliki now has 30 days to decide on cabinet posts - some of which will likely go to Iraqiya - and put together a full government. His governing coalition owes part of its existence to followers of hard-line cleric Muqtada al Sadr, leading Sunnis and others to believe that his government will be indebted to Iran." The stalemate ends when the country has a prime minister. It is now eight months, nine days and counting.

Meanwhile Marina Ottaway and Danial Kaysi examine the deal the parties have signed off on with a frankness not generally found in analysis from the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace:

Second, the agreement does not really appear to be legally enforceable. Its implementation depends on the good will of all major political factions, but particularly that of Maliki. And the provisions can only be implemented quickly by taking some liberties with the constitution and the law. This is particularly true regarding the National Council for Higher Strategic Policies. There is no written agreement about the powers of the National Council, although the verbal agreement apparently indicates that the Council will not simply be an advisory body. When the idea of creating a National Council was first raised by the United States, it was seen by Maliki’s opponents, and even by some of his supporters who worried that he was becoming too powerful, as a way of curbing his power. But Maliki compared it to the U.S. National Security Council, a body that advises the president but has no autonomous power of its own. The differences over its authority remain and even a law will not solve the problem. No matter what the law says, the Council cannot reduce the powers of the prime minister without a constitutional amendment and the constitution precludes amendments until the end of the second election cycle four years hence. Therefore the power of the National Council will depend on Maliki’s willingness to comply with its decisions. The likelihood he will is not great.
The problem of reversing the de-ba’thification decision against al-Mutlaq, al-Awadi and al-Aani is also complex and is likely to entail either a process that takes too long to satisfy immediate political needs or one that overlooks legal niceties. The Justice and Accountability Commission that decides on de-ba'thification is undoubtedly a highly political and partisan body; indeed some Iraqis believe that it acted unconstitutionally when it banned many candidates from taking part in the elections.
Technically, though, its decisions can only be reversed by the courts—at least this is what happened during the election campaign—and the courts would have to review all decisions, not just those against three individuals. But the agreement requires the Council of Representatives to reverse a decision by the Commission. Indeed the walk-out by a majority of Iraqiya members during the first parliamentary session took place because Iraqiya feared the parliament intended to ignore the de-ba’thification issue—it was supposed to take action on this issue before electing the president, as required by the verbal agreement. During their second session on November 13, the Council of Representatives voted to form a committee to study the issue.

And we'll close with this:

David Swanson, author of "Daybreak: Undoing the Imperial Presidency and Forming a More Perfect Union," which rose to #1 among nonfiction books on Amazon.com the day it was published, will publish a new book called "War Is A Lie" on Monday, November 22nd and encourage readers to purchase it that day on Amazon.

More information as well as a variety of audio and eBooks, and bulk purchasing are available at http://warisalie.org

WAR IS A LIE is a thorough refutation of every major argument used to justify wars, drawing on evidence from numerous past wars, with a focus on those wars that have been most widely defended as just and good. This is a handbook of sorts, a manual to be used in debunking future lies before future wars have a chance to begin.

“David Swanson despises war and lying, and unmasks them both with rare intelligence. I learn something new on every page.” — Jeff Cohen, founder of FAIR and author of Cable News Confidential.

“While Americans elect leaders whom they trust are honest, truthful and really care about the kids they send to kill for our country, War Is A Lie reveals decade after decade the sordid side of our history — that our elected officials lie us into war with stunning and embarrassing regularity and are little concerned about the harm to innocent civilians, much less to members of our own military.” — Colonel (retired) Ann Wright, author of Dissent: Voices of Conscience.

Table of Contents
Introduction 7
1. Wars Are Not Fought Against Evil 15
2. Wars Are Not Launched in Defense 47
3. Wars Are Not Waged Out of Generosity 86
4. Wars Are Not Unavoidable 106
5. Warriors Are Not Heroes 131
6. War Makers Do Not Have Noble Motives 168
7. Wars Are Not Prolonged for the Good of Soldiers 196
8. Wars Are Not Fought on Battlefields 212
9. Wars Are Not Won, and Are Not Ended By Enlarging Them 235
10. War News Does Not Come From Disinterested Observers 250
11. War Does Not Bring Security and Is Not Sustainable 267
12. Wars Are Not Legal 291
13. Wars Cannot Be Both Planned and Avoided 312
14. War Is Over If You Want It 323
Notes 337
Index 352
Acknowledgments 369
About the Author 371

“This book is every American’s best defense against the greatest danger we face as human beings: the threat of war. Swanson reveals how American leaders (from both major political parties) have confused the public to create the illusion of consent for endless destruction and slaughter. Behind the fear-mongering, flag-waving and lies of George W. Bush and the blandishments of Ronald Reagan and Barack Obama lies the ugly reality that our leaders have been seduced by political ambition, delusions of military superiority, and the promise of secrecy and impunity to commit otherwise unthinkable crimes.” — Nicolas J. S. Davies, Author of Blood On Our Hands: the American Invasion and Destruction of Iraq.

“David Swanson is an antidote to the toxins of complacency and evasion. He insists on rousing the sleepwalkers, confronting the deadly prevaricators and shining a bright light on possibilities for a truly better world.” — Norman Solomon, author of War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death.

"This book is revolutionary, and certainly truth-telling in a remarkable and brave way. The writing is so clear and easy-to-read, too. A pleasure to read, except that the content is so devastating, because it all means that not only are we utterly deceived but our entire reality is based on that deception. Swanson has gotten to the core of something. The only thing is I'm not sure he realizes how hopeless it is to expect a change -- and yet that is part of the appeal of his writing: his hopefulness in the face of lies and repression and denial." — Jennifer Van Bergen, author of The Twilight of Democracy: The Bush Plan for America.

“War Is A Lie is an important and compelling book that arrives at a time when America is engaged in its longest running war to date. Swanson offers an incisive examination of the rationalizations, justifications, and outright lies that have led the United States, and other nations, into battle. And he shows the personal cost to the current generation of combatants returning from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.” — Cynthia Wachtell, author of War No More: The Antiwar Impulse in American Literature 1861-1914.

“David Swanson has taken the mantle of AJ Muste, who had the guts and the audacity to declare World War II to have been unnecessary and wrong. Swanson takes Muste’s argument further to make the audacious claim that all wars are not just unnecessary, but a crime. He is correct, of course. Just as no good outcome (whether the ouster of a tyrant or the freeing of captive nations) can compensate for the death of millions of innocents, which of course is the argument made in defense of calling World War II a ‘good’ war, no good (whether the ousting of a tyrant or the claimed improvement in the rights of oppressed women) can compensate for the death of hundreds of thousands of innocents in Iraq or of tens of thousands of innocents in Afghanistan. This is a book that every American should read, especially those who think the United States is the good guy.” — Dave Lindorff , journalist, author of The Case for Impeachment, and founder of the online newspaper ThisCantBeHappening!


Swanson is planning a very limited book tour, including an event in Los Angeles on December 9, 2010. For more information or to request a review copy or an interview, contact david@davidswanson.org



David Swanson is the author of "War Is A Lie" and needs your help to make it #1 on Amazon on November 22:







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