The New York Times never considered it news but online this evening and in tomorrow's paper, you can read Andrew E. Kramer's report on Exxon and Iraq -- they do have their priorities, you understand. They don't have a lot more than that though. I'm not seeing anything of value in the report -- posted online this evening -- that wasn't in yesterday's snapshot. (But the Michael Klare opinion is a nice touch.) This morning Bloomberg News was reporting that the Baghdad-government wasn't recognizing the KRG's contract with Exxon but this afternoon they filed a report stating an accord had been reached between the KRG and the Baghdad-based government.
Meanwhile R.S. Kalha explores the realities of the relationship between the governments of Iraq and the US in "Is America Finally Withdrawing From Iraq? -- Analysis" (Eurasia Review):
Having spent at least about US$ 3 trillion, taken thousands as casualties both dead and wounded, the Americans are not going to give up that easily. The Shiite Iraqi PM Nourie al-Maliki is slated to visit the White House on December 12, 2011, just a few days before the deadline runs out. If he changes his mind and signs the status of forces agreement with the US, it will certainly not be out of character and in tune with the Iraqi political temperament. Nevertheless, the Americans are not taking any chances and have already made alternative plans.
The US Embassy in Baghdad is going to be strengthened and will have about 17,000 personnel on its rolls. Situated in the 'Green Zone' on a 104 acre plot with its own electricity, water and sewage, it is one of the most expensive and largest US Embassies in the world and its entire requirements are supplied from Kuwait under armed guard. US Consulates exist in Basra, Mosul and Kirkuk, each about 1,000 strong with its own security personnel. The US Embassy also has an 'Office for Security Co-operation' under which will come all US army trainers, private contractors and assorted military personnel—all under the cover of diplomatic immunity. Presently about $ 10 billion worth of arms deals are under negotiations. Once the negotiations are completed, additional US military personnel will arrive to train and 'co-ordinate' with their Iraqi counterparts. These large numbers of 'trainers' will also be under US Embassy cover.
Presently the Iraqi air force is non-existent. This means that the air space over Iraq will be controlled by the US for the foreseeable future. The US will continue to fly drones over Iraq targeting any potential enemy. It also means that the US can reinforce its residual troops under the 'cover' of the US Embassy as and when it is required without any serious hindrance. It also means that the Shiite-led Iraqi government cannot move its troops without US concurrence since they would have no air cover. And to make it absolutely certain that matters do not go out of hand, the present day Iraqi forces are commanded by a Kurdish officer General Zebari. The Americans have made an assessment and quite rightly so that of the three communities in Iraq, the Kurds will remain the most loyal. In any case the Kurdish dominated areas of Iraq are outside the political control of the Iraqi government and even the Kirkuk question remains unresolved.
Thus President Obama has very skilfully reaped the political benefits of ordering a 'technical' withdrawal and ending the US mission there, whilst not only retaining the substance of the US posture and presence but immeasurably strengthening it.
Al Mada notes that the US government plans to keep an eye on Tehran and on Baghdad by deploying troops to Kuwait and that the US government is currently in negotiations with the government of Kuwait to discuss adding additional troops.
US News and World Reports' Debate Club explores Iraq today. Daniel J. Gllington's argument can be found here. Lawrence J. Korb makes his argument here. And we'll excerpt from Phyllis Bennis' argument entitled "Iraq War a Failure on All Fronts:"
Are we safer? Of course not--the Iraq war has destroyed U.S. credibility, making the U.S. symbolic of torture and targeted assassination instead of freedom and democracy. Justified by lies about "WMDs" and launched in the face of global and UN rejection, the war undermined international law and turned the U.S. into a rogue state in the eyes of much of the world.
And the costs.
The human cost: 4,482 U.S. troops killed, more than 32,000 injured; 103,451–113,029 Iraqi civilians killed (estimates--the Pentagon "doesn't do body counts").
The economic cost: $802 billion and counting (not yet including the years ahead of multibillion-dollar healthcare costs for wounded veterans and more) could pay instead for converting 344 million U.S. homes to solar energy, or hiring 11.7 million elementary school teachers for a year, or providing 409 million low-income children with healthcare. Which makes us safer?
Reminder, Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts "Portions" went up yesterday. We'll close with this from ETAN:
For Immediate Release
Contact: John M. Miller, ; mobile: , email@example.com
November 12, 2011 - On the 20th anniversary of the <http://etan.org/timor/SntaCRUZ.htm>infamous massacre at cemetery in Timor-Leste, the and Action Network (ETAN) called for the U.S. and other governments and the United Nations to commit to justice for the victims and their families. The 1991 massacre -- witnessed and filmed by foreign journalists -- was a major in Timor-Leste's struggle for liberation.
"When we saw and heard about the Indonesian military shooting down hundreds of peaceful, unarmed student protesters, we knew we had to do something to stop the killing. The Santa Cruz massacre inspired many around the world to work for justice for the East Timorese people," said John M. Miller, National Coordinator of ETAN. "It directly led to the founding of ETAN in the United States, and to our commitment to work for self-determination for Timor-Leste by changing U.S. government policies which had supported the Indonesia's illegal invasion and occupation."
"Justice for all those killed, tortured, raped and forced to flee Indonesia’s brutal occupation has been delayed too long," he added.
Many in Timor-Leste are focused on learning the location of their relatives’ graves. The remains of many of the victims have not been found.
“While Timor-Leste is now independent, its people will not be able to overcome their tragic past without knowing what was done with their relatives’ and friends’ bodies. Ongoing impunity for decades of systematic Indonesian military and police atrocities keeps the Timorese and Indonesian people from consolidating their democracies and moving on with their lives,” said Miller. "ETAN will not rest until justice is done."
ETAN urged Congress and the Obama administration to respond to the recommendations of Timor-Leste's Commission for Truth, Reception and Reconciliation, including its calls for an international tribunal to try perpetrators of crimes against humanity during the Indonesian occupation, reparations from Indonesia and other countries that supported the occupation, and restrictions on foreign assistance to the Indonesian military.
"President Obama should urge President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono to immediately release all information that can help identify and locate those who were disappeared during the occupation,” said Miller. The two leaders are scheduled to meet in the coming weeks.
"Obama must restrict U.S. military assistance until the Indonesian generals and political leaders who organized and directed numerous crimes during the 24-years of illegal occupation are credibly tried," Miller added.
On November 12, 1991, Indonesian troops opened fire on a memorial procession - turned into a peaceful pro-independence demonstration - at the Santa Cruz cemetery in , the capital of Timor-Leste. More than 270 mostly-young Timorese were murdered. Unlike previous mass atrocities committed during Indonesia's 24-year occupation, the massacre was witnessed by the NY-based <http://www.democracynow.org/1997/11/12/massacre_the_story_of_east_timor>Amy Goodman and <http://www.etan.org/timor/nairndili.htm>Allan and other international journalists. Their first-hand reports, video and photographs were shown worldwide. The Santa Cruz massacre galvanized international support for Timor-Leste and was the catalyst for congressional action to stem the flow of U.S. weapons and other assistance for Indonesia’s security forces.
One month after the massacre, on International Human Rights Day (December 10), a few dozen concerned people picketed in front of the Indonesian Mission to the United Nations in . Although they did not intend to start an ongoing movement, the Timorese cause – and the response from people across the United States to the government’s complicity in the oppression of the East Timorese – was so compelling that they had to keep working. One year later, grassroots pressure persuaded the U.S. Congress to terminate taxpayer-funded training for Indonesian soldiers in the United States, the first of many legislative victories which eventually moved from supporting to opposing the murderous occupation.
In a <http://etan.org/news/2011/08anti.htm>recent statement, ANTI (Timor-Leste National Alliance for an International Tribunal), demanded that the United Nations Security Council "cut the chain of impunity in Timor-Leste and other countries' by establishing a credible International Tribunal in order to judge the principal perpetrators of serious crimes and crimes against humanity in Timor-Leste during the Indonesian occupation."
During more than two decades of occupation of Timor-Leste, Indonesian soldiers committed serious crimes with impunity, taking as many as 184,000 Timorese lives and torturing, raping and displacing countless others. Timor-Leste became independent in 2002.
Timor-Leste's <http://etan.org/news/2006/02indo.htm>Commission for Reception, Truth and Reconciliation researched and documented the nation’s experiences during the occupation. The Commission’s comprehensive 2,500-page report recommended establishment of an international criminal tribunal and also advocated that countries (including the U.S.) which backed the occupation and corporations which sold weapons to Indonesia during that period should pay reparations to victims. The Commission urged the international community not to support Indonesia's military until it was thoroughly reformed and respectful of human rights.
Indonesia has agreed to provide information about the fate of the disappeared but has failed to do so. The joint Timor-Leste-Indonesia Commission on Truth and Friendship recommended the creation of a Commission for Disappeared Persons "to acquire information about the fate of disappeared people and cooperate to gather data and provide information to their families." Work on this issue has been repeatedly thwarted by Indonesia.
ETAN was formed in reaction to the Santa Cruz massacre. The U.S.-based organization, which celebrates its 20th anniversary this December 10, advocates for democracy, justice and human rights for Timor-Leste and Indonesia. For more information on the massacre see <http://etan.org/timor/SntaCRUZ.htm>http://etan.org/timor/SntaCRUZ.htm or ETAN's web site: <http://www.etan.org/>http://www.etan.org.
Please donate! Support ETAN: http://www.etan.org/etan/2011micaapp.htm
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John M. Miller, National Coordinator
East Timor & Indonesia Action Network (ETAN)
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the new york times
andrew e. kramer
us news and world reports
daniel j. gallington
lawrence j. korb