Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Iraq snapshot

Tuesday, April 14, 2015.  Chaos and violence continue, Haider al-Abadi comes begging to DC, a media whore thinks Judith Miller's current embarrassments means he can slink back in, and much more.

On a day of fakery, it's only fitting that one of the all time biggest US fakes attempted to return to prominence.

Who are we talking about?

In April of 2000, Norman Solomon noted this gas bag in a "Media Jeopardy" column:

Although he represented "the left" for six years on CNN's "Crossfire" program, this pundit identifies himself as "a wishy-washy moderate."

Who is Michael Kinsley? 

Yes, we're talking about Michael Kinsley -- Michael "I'm not really a liberal but I played one on TV."

And he did.  On CNN's Crossfire.

He faked his way through a lot of things.  At the end of 1999, Norman Solomon awarded Kinsley an 'honor:'

Take It on Faith Award: Michael Kinsley. In a Time magazine essay, Kinsley -- who works for two of the planet's most powerful communications firms, Microsoft and Time Warner -- sought to persuade readers that the World Trade Organization is a fine institution, despite protests. Kinsley's Dec. 13 piece ended with these words: "But really, the WTO is OK. Do the math. Or take it on faith."

Norman Solomon, in his book War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death, it was pretty much a requirement that a useless gas bag like Michael be included:

"The president's ability to decide when and where to use America's military power is now absolute," Michael Kinsey observed as the invasion of Iraq ended in (temporary) triumph.  "Congress cannot stop him.  That's not what the Constitution says, and it's not what the War Powers Act says, but that's how it works in practice."

Staying with the Iraq War, the Times of London broke the news on The Downing Street Memo.

And in the US, the response from most news outlets was silence.

Or in MK's case, ridicule.

Bob Somerby (Daily Howler) observed in June 2005:

Maybe now you’ll start to believe the things we’ve said about Michael Kinsley and, by extension, about the fops who are runing our mainstream press corps. In Sunday’s Post (and Los Angeles Times), Kinsley writes an astonishing column about the Downing Street memo. Do a gang of millionaire fops drive our discourse? In case you didn’t know that already, Kinsley sets out to prove it—in spades.
As noted, Kinsley discusses the famous Downing Street memo; in it, a top adviser to Tony Blair seems to say that President Bush had decided on war with Iraq as early as July 2002 (and was “fixing” the facts and the intel accordingly). The memo appeared on May 1 in the Times of London; concerned citizens have been dissecting it from that day to this, even as the Washington press corps struggled to avoid all discussion. (Panel discussions about Kerry’s grades at Yale were far more germane.) But good news! The great Kinsley has finally read the whole memo! Drink in the sheer condescension as he explains why he did:
KINSLEY (6/12/05; pgh 1): After about the 200th e-mail from a stranger demanding that I cease my personal coverup of something called the Downing Street Memo, I decided to read it. It's all over the blogosphere and Air America, the left-wing talk radio network: This is the smoking gun of the Iraq war. It is proof positive that President Bush was determined to invade Iraq the year before he did so. The whole "weapons of mass destruction" concern was phony from the start, and the drama about inspections was just kabuki: going through the motions.
At the Times, Daniel Okrent always seemed to think it was beneath his dignity to receive e-mails from the herd, and Kinsley betrays the same condescension, grumping about the effort required to get him to do his job. Only after receiving demands from hundreds of “strangers” did he do what any citizen would; only then did he bother to read “something called the Downing Street Memo,” the locution he uses to show his disdain for the people who asked him to function. And if you don’t find yourself struck by Kinsley’s bald condescension, we hope you’ll find yourself insulted when you read his account of the memo’s contents. “I don’t buy the fuss,” Kinsley writes. Then he starts to explain why that is:
KINSLEY (2): Although it is flattering to be thought personally responsible for allowing a proven war criminal to remain in office, in the end I don't buy the fuss. Nevertheless, I am enjoying it, as an encouraging sign of the revival of the left. Developing a paranoid theory and promoting it to the very edge of national respectability takes a certain amount of ideological self-confidence. It takes a critical mass of citizens with extreme views and the time and energy to obsess about them. It takes a promotional infrastructure and the widely shared self-discipline to settle on a story line, disseminate it and stick to it.
There you start to have it, readers! If you think the Downing Street memo may show or suggest that Bush was determined to invade Iraq early on, you have “a paranoid theory” and “extreme views”—and “the time and energy to obsess about them.” (This distinguishes you from Kinsley, who didn’t have the time or energy to read the memo until forced.) Indeed, throughout his piece, Kinsley keeps saying that you’re an “extremist” with “extreme views” if you’re bothered by this memo’s contents. Maybe now you’ll believe what we’ve told you about this bizarre, fallen man.

In her book Watchdogs of Democracy: The Waning Washington Press Corps and How It Has Failed the Public, the late Helen Thomas made room for Kinsley:

Los Angeles Times editorial page editor Michael Kinsley decided that the classified minutes of the Blair meeting were not a "smoking gun."  He felt it was nor proof that Bush was determined to invade Iraq a year before he gave the green light.  "I don't buy the fuss," Kinsley said. 

FAIR issued an action alert on the topic and noted:

Los Angeles Times editorial page editor Michael Kinsley opted for sarcasm over serious discussion, deriding activists in a June 12 column for sending him emails “demanding that I cease my personal cover-up of something called the Downing Street Memo.” Kinsley kidded that the fuss was a good sign for the Left: “Developing a paranoid theory and promoting it to the very edge of national respectability takes ideological self-confidence.”
What does Kinsley mean by paranoid? Criticizing the Times for not giving the story much attention would be accurate: Prior to the Bush-Blair press conference, a Nexis search shows one story about the Downing Street minutes appeared in the paper nearly two weeks after the story broke (5/12/05), and that columnist Robert Scheer mentioned it a few days later (5/17/05).
In fact, Kinsley’s mocking seemed to serve no purpose, since his fallback position is a familiar media defense: We all knew the Bush administration wanted war, so this simply isn’t news. As Kinsley put it, “Of course, you don’t need a secret memo to know this.” As for “intelligence and facts…being fixed around the policy,” Kinsley eventually acknowledged that “we know now that this was true.”

So, to follow Kinsley’s logic: People who demand more Downing Street coverage have developed a “paranoid theory” that accurately portrays White House decision-making on Iraq. His only quarrel with what he calls a “vast conspiracy” pushing the mainstream media to take the memo more seriously is that the activists think such information is important, and should be brought to the attention of the public, whereas Kinsley–and apparently many others in the mainstream media–doesn’t “buy the fuss.”

We need to note the realities of the hideous Michael Kinsley but we don't have time to include everyone.  He was widely called out.  One person we'll note is David Swanson who probably did more to raise awareness of the Downing Street Memo than anyone else in America.

As part of the continued failure of Vanity Fair, they've added Kinsley to their staff.

Worse, they let him weigh in on Iraq today,

In many ways, "How the Bush Wars Opened the Door for ISIS" is the sort of crap that any idiot who ignored Iraq for the last 12 years could have churned out in their sleep.

Any idiot.

But Michael Kinsley is a special kind of idiot.

Which is how he manages to write:

And yes, the number of Americans in Iraq is relatively trivial, but President Obama has already agreed under pressure to increase troop levels, just long enough, you understand, to help wipe out the latest—and, seemingly, the worst—malefactor, the terrorist group known as ISIS.

Is it trivial to you?

Was it hard to tear away from your porn and type that sentence?

In the November 10, 2014 Iraq snapshot, we dealt with Richard Brunt's lies about US troops being out of Iraq:

Well just because you're letting the precum pool in your pants doesn't mean you need to share your erotic fantasies with the rest of us.

Brunt's so busy jizzing while moaning Barack, he actually writes, "Obama brought soldiers home from Iraq."


For example, he brought these two home last month -- in body bags.

That's Lance Cpl. Sean P. Neal (photo from Facebook).   We noted his death in October 25th snapshot.

That's Cpl Jordan Spears (photo from Marine Corps).  Last month, he was reclassified as the first death in 'Operation Inherent Resolve.'

[. . .]

But this week, DoD issued the following:


Release No: NR-599-14
December 02, 2014

DoD Identifies Air Force Casualty

  The Department of Defense announced today the death of an Airman who was supporting Operation Inherent Resolve.
Capt. William H. DuBois, 30, of New Castle, Colorado, died Dec. 1 when his F-16 aircraft crashed near a coalition air base in the Middle East. He was assigned to the 77th Fighter Squadron, Shaw Air Force Base, South Carolina.

For more information media may contact the 20th Fighter Wing Public Affairs Office at 803-895-2019.  

Those three deaths?

They aren't trivial to the service members' family and friends.

They shouldn't be trivial to the country but Micheal Kinsley's a very busy stooge and he clearly has other concerns.

A non-trivial press would have noted these three American deaths in Barack's war on the Islamic State.

And would have noted them today as Iraq's Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi met with US Vice President Joe Biden . . .

Prime Minister Al-Abadi met with Vice President Biden this morning to discuss strengthening of bilateral relations
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and with US President Barack Obama.

Prime Minister Al-Abadi meets President Obama to discuss efforts to enhance Iraq's capabilities to defeat Daesh
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The whole world knew what Haider wanted out of the meet-up.  From yesterday's snapshot:

Saturday, Arshad Mohammed and Phil Stewart (Reuters) broke the news that on his visit to DC, Haider al-Abadi intends to ask for more weapons and needs them on credit.  Dar Addustour adds that Haider intends to ask the US government for money to rebuild areas 'liberated' from the Islamic State.  Mohammad Sabah (Al Mada) reports Haider's wish list includes the White House accelerating the delivery of the Apache helicopters and the F-16 warplanes. AFP notes Haider also intends to ask for more US air strikes.

And what did Barack want?

He apparently never defined his wants.  Maybe that's why he so frequently comes out the loser in any negotiation?

AP reports Haider's getting $200 million in reconstruction funds.

If there were any strings on that donation/grant, the press hasn't reported on it.

The only glimmer of hope came at the end of the brief remarks Barack and Haider made to the press:

Q    But would you give them additional weapons, Mr. President, like Apache helicopters and drones and F-16 that the Prime Minister has been asking?  At least it’s been reported as asking.

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  I think this is why we are having this meeting to make sure that we are continually improving our coordination to make sure that Iraqi security forces are in a position to succeed in our common mission.

So at least Barack didn't hop directly into the backseat with Haider.

There may be hope yet.

Jason Ditz (Antiwar.com) observes, "The US has struggled to justify its repeated influxes of military aid to Iraq, both because of the Iraqi military’s tendency to lose billions of dollars worth of advanced US weapons to ISIS control, and because of Iraq’s increasingly checkered human rights record."

During their brief press conference, Barack spoke far more than Haider.  We'll note this section:

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  This is something that we discussed extensively.  I think that, as I’ve said before and I will repeat, we expect Iran to have an important relationship with Iraq as a close neighbor.  And obviously the fact that Iraq is a Shia-majority country means that it will be influenced and have relations with Iran as well.  And at the point in which Daesh or ISIL was surging and the Iraqi government was still getting organized at that point, I think the mobilization of Shia militias was something that was understood to protect Baghdad or other critical areas. 
Once Prime Minister Abadi took power, once he reorganized the government and the security forces, once the coalition came in at the invitation of and in an agreement with a sovereign Iraqi government, then our expectation is from that point on, any foreign assistance that is helping to defeat ISIL has to go through the Iraqi government.  That’s how you respect Iraqi sovereignty. That’s how you recognize the democratic government that was hard-earned and is being upheld in the work that Prime Minister Abadi is doing in reaching out to all the various factions inside of Iraq.

And so I think Prime Minister Abadi’s position has been that he welcomes help, as you just heard, but it needs to be help that is not simply coordinated with the Iraqi government but ultimately is answerable to the Iraqi government and is funneled through the chain of command within the Iraqi government. 

This did not sit well with everyone.

Al Mada reports Ammar al-Hakim reacted to those comments by declaring they would gladly take money from DC but they didn't need any advice on the militias.

Ammar is the leader of the Islamic Supreme Council in Iraq -- one of the larger Shi'ite groupings.  ISCI has always had close ties to Iran.  Not only did Ammar and his father Abdul Aziz al-Hakim seek asylum in Iran while Saddam Hussein was president of Iraq but Abdul elected to spend the last year and a half of his life (while dying of lung cancer) in Iran where he died on August 26, 2009.

Ammar's gotten increasingly hostile towards the US government in the last six months or so leading to speculation that he feels wrongly looked over for the post of prime minister. He's been the choice of many in the US intelligence community for some time but he's never managed to pull support from other areas -- Big Oil, the 'diplomatic community,' etc.

It could also be that Ammar's simply tired of the US government and its overstayed welcome.  It could be that simple.

But regardless of why, Ammar has clearly soured on the US government.

Today, Barack declared, "We discussed how we can be supportive of the progress that's being made in shaping an inclusive governance agenda.  I emphasized that the United States’ prime interest is to defeat ISIL and to respect Iraqi sovereignty, and that will continue to be our policy."

How inclusive is that government going to be without the support of Ammar al-Hakim?

He's a key Shi'ite figures and represents a large number of Shi'ites.

So how did the US government ever think it was okay to be estranged from Ammar?

It appears that all these months of focusing on bombings and getting other countries to send troops to Iraq at the expense of working on actual diplomacy is finally starting to bite the administration in its collective ass.

Margaret Griffis (Antiwar.com) counts 160 violent deaths in Iraq today.

The White House issued the following today:

Joint Statement by the United States of America and the Republic of Iraq

President Obama welcomed Haider Al-Abadi, Prime Minister of the Republic of Iraq, and the accompanying delegation to Washington from April 13-16, 2015.  The President and the Prime Minister met today at the White House to reaffirm the long-term U.S.-Iraq strategic partnership based on mutual respect and common interests and their shared commitment to the U.S.-Iraq Strategic Framework Agreement.  The President expressed his strong support for the progress that the Prime Minister and the Iraqi government have accomplished since the two leaders last met seven months ago. 
Working Together to Destroy ISIL
President Obama and Prime Minister Al-Abadi reviewed progress in the campaign to degrade and ultimately destroy ISIL.  The two leaders honored the sacrifices of Iraqis from all communities in the fight against ISIL and expressed appreciation for the significant contributions of more than 60 partners in the global coalition to counter ISIL.  Over 1,900 U.S. and coalition strikes in Iraq have played a critical role in halting ISIL’s advance and supporting the Iraqi Security Forces in liberating significant Iraqi territory once held by ISIL.  The Prime Minister praised the performance of the Iraqi Security Forces, including the volunteer fighters in the Popular Mobilization Forces, the Peshmerga forces, and local tribal fighters.  Prime Minister Al-Abadi thanked the President and the American people for the critical support provided to Iraq, including the important work of U.S. service men and women currently stationed in Iraq and the region, and both leaders reaffirmed the core security partnership between their two countries. 
The President and Prime Minister discussed next steps in the campaign to counter ISIL.  The Prime Minister stressed the importance of stabilizing areas liberated from ISIL control, and ensuring the full transfer of authority to local officials and local police; the maintenance of civil order; the protection of civilians; the peaceful return of displaced residents; and the restoration of government services and the economy.  The Prime Minister emphasized that the Government of Iraq has zero tolerance for human rights abuses and requested assistance from the United States and the coalition to enable immediate and long-term stabilization in areas liberated from ISIL.  The Prime Minister underscored the integral role that local populations are playing in liberating their own areas and, accordingly, stressed the importance of enrolling additional tribal fighters in the fight against ISIL as part of the Popular Mobilization Forces.  President Obama pledged to continue to support Iraqi Security Forces and tribal engagement initiatives with U.S. training and equipment.  He specifically welcomed the recent decision by the Iraqi government to supply thousands of rifles and other equipment to tribal fighters in eastern Anbar province, building on the successful model at Al Asad airbase in western Anbar, where U.S. advisors are enabling tribal operations against ISIL in coordination with Iraqi Security Forces.
The two leaders underscored the threat that terrorism poses to Iraq, the region, and the global community.  Both leaders emphasized the importance of implementing of UNSC resolutions 2178 and 2199.  They also discussed the critical importance of addressing the sources of extremism and violence, including additional combined efforts in these areas over the coming weeks, and the President noted that the Prime Minister would continue discussions on the military campaign against ISIL in his meetings with the Secretary of Defense on April 15, in addition to the coalition plenary meeting on the same day. 
Strengthening a Unified and Democratic Iraq
Prime Minister Al-Abadi updated the President on political developments in Iraq, including his cabinet’s efforts to implement the ambitious national program set forth upon the formation of the government.  He noted parliament’s passage of a national budget, Iraq’s first in years with cross-sectarian support, with key provisions on oil exports and revenue sharing with the Kurdistan Regional Government.  Prime Minister Al-Abadi affirmed his priority remains the passage of legislation that was outlined in the national program.  The President welcomed the progress that has been made to date, and called on all political blocs to make the compromises necessary for full implementation of the national program.
More broadly, the Prime Minister outlined his vision of a more decentralized model of governance, as called for under the Constitution of Iraq, a model that he asserted was an essential element of the broader strategy for progress in Iraq.  He detailed the government’s program to devolve security and service delivery to the provincial and local levels.  In this light, he noted efforts to empower local government in the stabilization of liberated areas.  He also highlighted the importance of the National Guard in providing more authority over security to the residents of Iraq’s provinces and to ensuring that Iraq’s security forces are broadly representative and close to the communities they are sworn to protect and defend.  The President expressed support for the strategy outlined by the Prime Minister and committed to provide all appropriate assistance and support, as called for in the Strategic Framework Agreement, to strengthen Iraq’s constitutional democracy.
Enhancing Opportunities for the Iraqi People
The President and the Prime Minister both noted that our two nations must continue to enhance broad bilateral cooperation under the Strategic Framework Agreement.  The Prime Minister outlined the range of Iraq’s challenges resulting from the global decline in the price of oil, the humanitarian crisis, and Iraq’s fight against ISIL.  Prime Minister Al-Abadi outlined his government’s strategy to shore up the Iraqi economy, including revitalization of Iraq’s energy infrastructure and reforms to mitigate corruption and reduce wasteful spending.  The two leaders agreed that international support for Iraq’s fight against ISIL could be leveraged toward enhancing Iraq’s integration with the global economy. 
President Obama noted that economic cooperation is central to the long-term U.S.-Iraq partnership.  The President congratulated the Prime Minister on Iraq’s recent record high oil exports, the highest in more than thirty years, and they affirmed that they will work together to expand Iraqi oil production and exports in the future.  The President said he had directed Vice President Biden to convene, on April 16, a Higher Coordinating Committee meeting of the Strategic Framework Agreement to focus specifically on economic issues, including bilateral trade, energy cooperation, private sector reform, and Iraq's fiscal stability.
President Obama and Prime Minister Al-Abadi both reaffirmed the need to address the humanitarian situation in Iraq, where more than 2.6 million Iraqis have been internally displaced since January 2014.  President Obama noted his recent decision to provide nearly $205 million dollars in additional humanitarian assistance to Iraqis in the region and to support Iraq’s response to the Syrian crisis, bringing the U.S. contribution to help displaced Iraqis to more than $407 million since the start of fiscal year 2014. 
Reinforcing Regional Cooperation
President Obama expressed his strong support for increased cooperation between Iraq and regional partners on the basis of mutual respect for sovereignty and non-interference in domestic affairs.  The Prime Minister updated the President on his consultations with regional capitals and his efforts to enhance regional diplomatic representation in Baghdad.  The President confirmed the importance of establishing a strong diplomatic presence in Baghdad by all regional Arab states.
The two leaders agreed that there are no military solutions to the region’s conflicts.  To this end, Prime Minister Al-Abadi welcomed the framework for a Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action between the P5+1 and Iran regarding Iran’s nuclear program as a means towards greater peace and stability in the region.  Both leaders affirmed that a strong U.S.-Iraq relationship was critical for regional security and in the long-term interests of both countries. 

This visit provides an opportunity to review the important progress that Iraq and the United States have made together and to discuss ways to further enhance cooperation across the full spectrum of the strategic partnership.  The rapid and extensive response by the United States to the current challenges facing Iraq has highlighted the robust and steadfast relationship between our two countries, and the President and the Prime Minister agreed on the importance of continuing to strengthen this enduring relationship.

jason ditz