Saturday, January 17, 2015

Iraq snapshot

Saturday, January 17, 2014.  Today we look at Iraq in terms of the US zooming in on Cindy Sheehan and how she is us and we are her in all the ways that are beautiful and that are ugly and, mainly, what it likely means for the 2016 elections.

Anyone can comment about movies -- they're a democratic art form.  That doesn't mean they can comment intelligently.

I have no interest in seeing Clint Eastwood's latest film.  I'm not a friend of Clint's, I'm not a fan of his films (as an actor or a director) and I don't care for the war combat genre (whose only real classics for me come from Brian De Palma: Redacted and Casualties of War).  Clint's new film is American Sniper.

I've not insulted it and have no plans to.

It's not a film I'd make or choose to see but it's not shocking that Clint was interested in the topic and I'm sure he told it cinematic manner.  We noted the film in the December 30th snapshot.  And yesterday's snapshot included IAVA's congratulations to Clint and company for their Academy Award nominations.

Good luck to Clint and company and, for those who've missed it over the ten long years Ava and I've covered TV at Third, I prefer comedies.  After comedies, I like a good thriller (Alan J. Pakula was one of the masters and no one does suspense like Brian De Palma). I'm also not interested in sitting through films where women do nothing and are discarded on the sidelines. (In fairness to Clint, the source material for his film meant it would focus on a man's journey and the setting didn't lead to much more for women than what Natalie Wood did in Rebel Without A Cause.)

I say that to explain what has been a 'controversial' position.  (Sadly for the e-mailers, I don't avoid controversy, I court it.)  I have defended the film and Clint's right to make it and that's upset a few e-mailers (who haven't seen the movie but know when their 'leaders' stir up s**t, it's their job to eat it).

My stance is an artistic stance and if that's too much for you maybe you can bury your head in the sand.

Here's a reality you might try grasping: If you didn't view the art, you don't have an opinion on what it says.

Friday, Cindy Sheehan wrote a deeply stupid post not limited to this:

Along with another glorification of the War State (Zero Dark Thirty) winning best film title at the Oscars last year and Hollywood’s long history of working with the Pentagon (or War Department) to make decades of Warnography, I was reminded about an episode in my own history.

First, the Academy has no award for Best Film Title.  Possibly, Cindy means Best Picture?

Best Picture went to Ben Affleck's Argo.

But again, when faux outrage is stirred, the sheep know to eat s**t and swallow.  Kathryn Bigelow was made fair game by a cabal that's worked publicly and repeatedly since their attempt to destroy the Academy Award chances for Ron Howard's A Beautiful Mind.  It's cute the way this group operates and how, when they destroy, they get away with it -- or think they do.  But that's a tale for another a day -- and when we had time to trace the group's roots which go back decades.

Instead, we'll focus on Cindy's explanations and fantasies of why a film wasn't made of her life.

I don't have the time -- or interest -- in going into copyrights and authorship and the need for people to sign consent agreements to be portrayed in films -- these are legal issues that clearly escape Cindy and I'm not in the mood to spoonfeed today.

We would get lost in the weeds attempting to explain all that.

We're going to focus on film.

Cindy believes there was a possible plot to prevent her story from being told.  That two different groups of producers were attempting to keep her tied up at two different times so that her story would not be told on the big screen.

She feels this might be possible because no film was made.

It might be possible.

Anything is.

But the basics of film and the industry argue against any conspiracy.

As a woman of a certain age, Cindy's story was always going to be hard for the big screen.

She notes Susan Sarandon was attached -- or at least mentioned --  to the film proposal in 2006 and 2007.

And that's about 10 years after Susan could deliver any real audience at the box office.

That's why Susan's doing films like Tammy (where she's not the lead) and the Lifetime film playing Marilyn Monroe's mother.

I don't mean that as an insult to Susan.  We're talking realities here -- the things Cindy avoided in her post.

Susan was all wrong for the role as well.

Cindy's not stupid by any means but she doesn't project intelligence the way Susan does.

Or the way Jane Fonda does which was Mike Nichols wasn't interested in Jane for the part of Karen Silkwood (Jane had tried to get the film rights for the story on Karen Silkwood) and Meryl Streep played the role instead.

Meryl could have played Cindy.   Again, Cindy's not stupid, she's smart.  But there are types and Susan Sarandon would have been the wrong fit for Cindy.

Back when studios still thought Susan could carry a film -- she couldn't, some actors can't, some very good actors can't,  she starred in Safe Passage.  That's more or less how she would have played Cindy and it wouldn't have worked nor would it have sold tickets.

Susan has tremendous talent and cast her as the woman who unravels the secrets in a thriller or as the seductive vamp or any number of roles and she'll deliver.  But when she plays someone newly awakened it doesn't really work because, like Jane Fonda, her characters are a little bit faster than everyone else on the uptake so you don't buy them as 'awakening' to politics -- though you do buy them 'awakening' to love.

The part could have been played by Meryl (a given) or by Jessica Lange or Sally Field -- and Sally probably would have been the most effective in the role.  The role could have been played by Michelle Pfeiffer, Jodie Foster, Debra Winger, Joan Cusack, Rosanna Arquette, Melanie Griffith, Charlize Theron, etc.  Of the women listed after Field, the only one whose name only would have interested studios enough to consider the film would have been Jodie Foster.

Jodie could deliver an audience large enough to make back the costs of filming and, if she and the film delivered, she could have brought in a much larger audience.

But even with Jodie, working against the film was that the role had already been played by Jane Fonda -- Sally Hyde in Coming Home, Jane won her second Best Actress Academy Award for playing a woman who awakens to the realities of war.

Sally was only one part of the story.  Jon Voight (who won a Best Actor Academy Award for his performance) played Ron Kovic with a fictional name.  Bruce Dern and Jane's marriage ends due to the war, Jon Voight's character finds his voice when he loses so many other things, there's the subplot with Vi and her brother and so much more -- including graphic sex scenes (Jane had a body double).  Don't forget the graphic sex scenes.

All of that and a beautiful, muted look via Haskell Wexler and innovations via director Hal Ashby -- he used sound like no on else before him.

It made for a film.

But The Cindy Sheehan Story, as portrayed in Peace Mom, is a TV movie, if you're trying to pull off the arc of awakening.  Probably starring Meredith Baxter.  It could also be a powerful play if you zoomed in on just the day Casey Sheehan dies and the aftermath on the family -- we're talking the immediate effects.  And that could also make for a powerful premium cable channel movie.

You have to know what the story is and where the story fits because a Lifetime TV movie is not going to sell tickets in theaters.  You're wasting everyone's time delivering a pitch for a TV movie to a film studio exec.

Cindy thinks there might have been some conspiracy.

There was most likely none at all.

Her film never had studio backing -- nor even serious interest from a studio.

Even if it had, there are projects studios get behind which get gutted all the time.  Jodie Foster and Robert Redford were supposed to star in Crisis In The Hot Zone but Redford was a dick and a vain one and Jodie walked.  The film had been in competition with Dustin Hoffman, Rene Russo and Morgan Freeman's Outbreak to see which could start shooting first.  That ended when no other name actress wanted to put up with Redford's nonsense.

Films go under all the time, they go from talk to nothing.

They can even be announced -- and advertised -- and then not get made.


That's Faye Dunaway.  Height of her beauty.  Height of her box office.

And she's going to make the film Duet For One.  It's about to begin filming.


When it was made a few years later, it would star Julie Andrews.

There was no plot to keep Faye busy, to tie her up, so no one else could use her in movies.

Joan Crawford would leave MGM for, among other reasons, the refusal to allow her to star in The Spiral Staircase despite the fact that she'd optioned the source material.  (A few years later, RKO would make the film and it would be a hit.)  Miriam Hopkins thought she'd play the lead in the film of Jezebel.  She'd played the role on Broadway, she held the rights, Jack Warner led her to believe that handing the rights over to his studio meant she'd star in the film.  Instead, Bette Davis played the role and won her second Best Actress Academy Award.  Bette Davis was led to believe she'd star as Mary Todd Lincoln but when the project moved from development towards filming, Jack Warner refused to greenlight claiming a film that told the truth would be an insult to Abraham Lincoln's memory.

Yentl is a film classic and one that director Barbra Streisand should forever feel proud of.  But as much as the film on the screen is something to be proud of, Barbra's dedication to the project is also something to be proud of. She started working on the project in 1968 and never lost faith in it, never took a "no" as the final answer and, in 1983, the film was reality.

Or look at The Dollmaker.  In 1971, Jane Fonda falls in love with Harriette Arnow's book. In 1974, she meets with the author about making the book.  She's in her grey-listed period -- where politics keep US studios from hiring her for many projects (though she still has a few offers coming in -- she turned down Chinatown and The Exorcist, among others, during this period).  When Tricky Dick resigns and realities have to be reconsidered, studios are interested again and her first leading role is in the box office hit Fun With Dick and Jane (1977).  One hit after another followed and Jane still couldn't get studio interest for the film.  So, as she herself tells it, she met with ABC in 1979, the day after she won her second Academy Award, and she (and Bruce Gilbert) proposed The Dollmaker as a movie of the week for the TV network.  ABC was all for it but there was still the issue of the script.  It would be 1983 before the TV movie was filmed and 1984 when it aired.   (Jane won an Emmy for her performance.)

To get a film made -- for the big screen or for TV or (today) the internet) -- you have to be a long distance runner.

The film frustrations Cindy Sheehan went through don't even qualify as a 1 K fun run.

Let's deal with another aspect and then we'll circle around.

Casey Sheehan died.

That was a huge loss for his family.

As someone who felt her loss was great enough to warrant a meeting with a world leader, I'm not really sure where Cindy gets off insulting Chris Kyle.

Guess what, it's not all about you, Cindy Sheehan.

I've defended Cindy here repeatedly over the years.  She's said nothing to help another mother, has she? She can't identify with Pat Smith's loss?

I've wondered about that.

And now here is she is trashing a dead man because she thinks he's racist -- or says she thinks it.

If only we were all so pure and wonderful like Cindy Sheehan?

The fact of the matter is she needs to lose the judgmental.

There's no reason for her to insult Chris Kyle.

Her view of her son is in conflict with those who served with him.

That's not surprising.

He was put through the same socialization process everyone in the military is.

So I'm not understanding why Cindy's being so awful to Chris Kyle who has a family that misses him dearly.

You're not happy that he shot Iraqis?

I'm not happy that any Iraqis were shot.

But the blame for that, for Americans, goes to the White House (then and now) and the Congress.

Casey Sheehan didn't declare war on Iraq.  Neither did Chris Kyle.

If you're offended by what Chris Kyle did, then you need to take that argument up the chain.

Stop blaming the people and start blaming those in charge.

Chris Kyle broke no law.

He said some mean spirited things about Arabs?

I don't doubt it.

And I'm not stupid enough to assume he came up with those remarks himself.  I'm fully aware that this was part of training, part of the socialization, part of the attempt to create the belief in 'the other' which allows the dehumanization necessary to kill.

Now maybe moon beams shot out of Casey Sheehan's ass like Cindy seems to think.  Maybe they didn't.  But I'm not going to insult Casey Sheehan because I'm opposed to the ongoing war.  And I'm not going to insult Chris Kyle for it either.

I don't expect Cindy to be a saint.  I do expect her to have common sense.

Her post is beneath her and goes to the reality that she has a myth about Casey with regards to Iraq and it's a myth she wills herself to believe.

Chris Kyle.could have been her son but she attacks him and berates him in a post.

She has no humanity to share and can't relate to the family of Chris Kyle on any level.

Nursing a myth takes a lot out of you.

 And let's point out the obvious about her supposed offense regarding what Kyle wrote in his book.

Cindy does a radio show.  If she really cares about the Iraqi people why doesn't she cover Iraq?

If she really cares why, in the year long bombing of Falluja's residential neighborhoods, has she never devoted an episode to this topic?

These are War Crimes, legally defined War Crimes.

And Cindy's not calling them out, she's not using her forum to draw attention to the thousands of civilians who have been killed and wounded for the 'crime' of being in their neighborhood, for the 'crime' of being in their homes.

This is not the Islamic State.

Grasp that.

This is the Iraqi military bombing Falluja daily.

It started under Nouri al-Maliki.  September 13th, new Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi noted how wrong it was -- but stopped short of calling it a War Crime -- it is one, it's the legal definition of "collective punishment" -- and promised the bombings had stopped.  The next day they continued.

So when Cindy's going to talk about that?

I'm so tired of people who pretend they care about this or that but when they've got the chance to talk about something that matters, they don't.

Ongoing War Crimes and no one wants to call them out.  It's pretty much Human Rights Watch, Felicity Arbuthonot and this community willing to call out the War Crimes. (If you call it out or know someone who does, send a link to and it will gladly be noted here.)

How damn difficult is for a citizen in, for example, the United States to call out the Iraqi government attacking civilians daily in Falluja?

I don't think it's difficult at all.

But the silence from Cindy Sheehan and others never ends.

Pick any day at random, let's go with June 18th: The bombing of Falluja's residential neighborhoods claimed the lives of 6 civilians -- two of whom were children -- with sixteen more civilians injured.

So don't come whimpering to me about some 'naughty words' that were used in a book when you don't have the guts, the spine, the compassion, the humanity to call out the year long suffering of Sunnis in Falluja as the military has repeatedly targeted the residential neighborhoods wounding and killing thousands in 2014 alone.

The United Nations refuses to release an 'official' count on deaths in Falluja and that's because they don't want to speak up about the ongoing War Crimes.

The only time they've acknowledged it seriously was when new Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi announced these bombings had ended -- then the UN had praise to offer publicly.  But the bombings didn't end, the UN didn't retract their praise or even acknowledge that the bombings continued.

Iraqi Spring MC notes 3 civilians dead and four injured on Friday from the Iraqi military's non-stop bombing of civilian areas in Falluja.

And these bombings have other impacts as well.

النازحون من منازلهم جراء القصف العشوائي المتعمد من قبل القوات الحكومية على منازل المدنيين. .

As Iraqi Spring MC notes, they add to the ever-growing refugee population in Iraq.

The silence also means others can get away with it.

Today, civilian areas in and around Baghdad were bombed by the war planes in the US-led coalition.

But let's all get upset over what Chris Kyle wrote in a sentence or two in his book.

That is the real crime -- right, Cindy Sheehan?

Not the ongoing bombings of civilians, not the never-ending war.

Yeah, you play strong and proud over your attacks on a dead man who can't defend himself and who might be a little too close to what you fear your son was like in Iraq.

Can your crazy -- can it, market it, sell it, maybe it'll make you rich.

It just won't help end any wars.  But the woman who occupied a ditch in Crawford can't be bothered with Iraq today unless it's to trash a dead soldier.

I don't have time for the crazy.

There are two ways to make The Cindy Sheehan Story -- I said we'd work back to it -- a big screen film.

The first is to deal with the tragedy of those quiet moments when Cindy's alone with her memories and has to realize if the construct she's created about Casey is accurate or not?

That sort of haunting is what got Music Box a greenlight (and when the studio paid Jane Fonda a small fortune not to act in the film and replaced her with Jessica Lange, that was about sexism and age-ism and not a conspiracy).

The other story, the one I urged to the second group of film makers Cindy whines about -- yeah, I'm going to call it whining.  I've been kind when she's misconstrued Rob Reiner who is a friend of mine.  But I'm not going to be kind here.  She's whining and doing so stupidly.  She had two different groups approach her about making a film and she never took the lead and she never fought for it but instead sat back and expected to happen when the reality is over 99% of proposed films never get made and any that do require people to champion the projects and fight.

The other story is about a woman who allowed herself to be used.

This is the reality, not the story Cindy wants to tell.  She likes to, for example, claim she was against Barack from the start.  That's a lie.  It's a known lie.  She was for Barack up until the Democratic Party primaries ended.  Common Dreams is among the websites she left comments on.  She can claim she was trying to destroy Hillary Clinton (his opponent in the 2008 primaries, for those who've forgotten).  Doesn't really matter.  Oh, wait, it does.  Had Hillary been elected president in 2008, the so-called peace movement wouldn't have folded up the tent and gone home.

But the film that would work as cinema is about a woman who really wasn't sure where she stood on the war while her son was alive.  She waivered.  And that's understandable and even something most can feel empathy towards her for.  Then she became outspoken.  This is months before her Crawford, Texas stand.

And then she's in the DFW area at a Veterans for Peace meeting and decides, since Bully Boy Bush is at his Crawford, Texas ranchette, to go down there.

It's decided to start Camp Casey.

And tons of people show up.

Most are grass-roots people who want to end the war.

But there are those who see it as political hay.

And then some anti-Semitic statements Cindy made emerge.

And let's not pretend that they were anti-Israeli government.  They weren't.  They were anti-Semitic.  Doesn't make Cindy a bad person (we won't rush to attack her the way she rushed to attack Chris Kyle), just means she needs to be a little more informed.

And that's really when they have Cindy -- and a detail not often told.

The behind the scenes players -- only some of which she's named -- rush to spin it as (a) she didn't make those comments and (b) even if she did, she's a dumb little home maker so no one should get too upset about it.

August is a dead month for the media and they were happy to let the spin settle and continue to cover the woman in the ditch outside a world leader's home, demanding to speak with him to know why her son died in Iraq.

Partisan bloggers for the Democratic Party took part in the lie that Cindy wasn't opposed to the war, she just wanted an answer.  A blogger named Jude, for example, is someone we broke with over this lie.  Jude was pimping it online -- she was always a Democratic Party house organ and not an individual blogger -- and she wasn't the only one.

And Cindy allowed it.

She walked in the narrow confines she was instructed to.

She wouldn't sell party politics but she would -- and did -- take part in the media creation of "Peace Mom."

And after the 2006 mid-terms, the Democratic Party and their various outlets and organs had no use for her.

She had helped them deliver both houses of Congress to the Democrats.

The political party had used the illegal war to drum up votes.

So if you thought they were ending the Iraq War in 2007, you were a damn fool.

They weren't going to end it, not when they had a presidential election two years out that they could win by harnessing the outrage over the Iraq War and turning it into votes.

Cindy betrayed herself in various little ways.

But none of that prepared her for the betrayal she would face from others.

You can make that film as a comedy or as a thriller.  You can use Frank Capra's Meet John Doe as your backdrop -- they share many of the same plot points.

And it's a movie that could put people in the seats because it's not just the story of Cindy, it's the story of America in the last fifteen or so years.

In one way or another, like Cindy, we all did small steps of self-betrayal.  We kidded ourselves that it was for 'the greater good.'  We kidded ourselves that, when we were silent, it was helping the movement.

Whether you think Occupy was a movement or not, the lack of criticism -- serious criticism -- allowed whatever it was to peter out quickly and Occupy is no more despite the hopes and dreams of a bunch of elderly radicals in NYC.

But we did that in the peace movement or the anti-war movement.  We pretended it was okay that those with divided loyalties -- at best (you can't serve the peace movement and a corporatist, War Hawk political party at the same time) -- were in the forefront.

We created our own free speech pens and sat out so much time in them.

It set the stage for the next presidential election, "2008: The Year of Living Hormonally (Year in Review)."

A time when all good Democrats must not call out Barack for putting homophobes on stage at campaign events, a time where all good Democrats must not note that after the Iraq War started in 2003, Barack was a public supporter of it -- yes, 'anti-war' Barack got on board.

We 'built' that.  And we created the stage for the events Joan Didion so aptly described (link goes to New York Review of Books podcast):

What troubled had nothing to do with the candidate himself.
It had to do instead with the reaction he evoked.
Close to the heart of it was the way in which only the very young were decreed of capable of truly appreciating the candidate. Again and again, perfectly sentient adults cited the clinching of arguments made on the candidate's behalf by their children -- by quite small children. Again and again, we were told that this was a generational thing, we couldn't understand. In a flash we were sent back to high school, and we couldn't sit with the popular kids, we didn't get it. The "Style" section of The New York Times yesterday morning mentioned the Obama t-shirts that "makes irony look old."
Irony was now out.
Naivete translated into "hope" was now in.
Innocence, even when it looked like ignorance, was now prized.

By then, some had begun speaking out.  Cindy was among those.  But she and I and many, many others helped set the stage for what came after by biting our tongues when we should have been speaking out.  By thinking silence on an issue meant helping the larger issues.

I've known all my life Naomi Klein was the child of a war resister.  I know Naomi's father and knew him before she was born.

But as Naomi refused -- refused -- to speak out on war resisters, I stayed silent for years.

She had no right to.  She owed it to the community to speak out, to pay it forward.

And yet she'd plug her books and plug her articles and act ditzy on Al Franken's radio show ('Oh, you can't say s**t on the radio in America? Giggle, giggle, I'm practically a bra-less starlet!').

At one point when I said I was going public, it was conveyed to me that Naomi feared going public would mean she would lose entry to the United States, be put on some sort of list.

That was nutty but okay, I bit my tongue.

And I did it far too long.  When there was serious media attention on war resisters in the early days, I should've outed Naomi as a child of a Vietnam war resister, an American who went to Canada.  That would have forced her to address the issues in all the interviews she was giving, it would have raised the profile of war resisters, it would have put a human face on it and it would have argued: 'Canada, you have a figure of global prominence in Naomi Klein and you have her as a citizen because you welcomed war resisters in the past.  Do so again.'

We all lied and that's how we arrived at the point we're at now.

And we're still lying because people don't want to tell you how Hillary probably wins if she runs for president.

She wins because we're so f**king ugly on the left now.

We're an eye sore.

Large segments of the country are repulsed by it and this allows the neoliberals to argue that we need to drop the 'purity tests' and we need to be 'rationale' and Hillary's the candidate for us and blah blah blah.

The pendulum swings back and forth not because the country is bi-polar but because the middle and the apathetic (which does comprise the bulk of the United States population) grow outraged over the excesses of the right when they're in power and over the excesses of the left when they're in power.

Both segments seem to think they have a right to dictate to the American people how they should live their lives and the voters reject that repeatedly over and over.

We could have stood for something beyond partisan politics in the last six years but we didn't.

And now it's likely Hillary Clinton in the White House or a Republican and, honestly, aren't the two really just the same damn thing?


Friday, January 16, 2015

Now they feign interest in Iraq's LGBTQ community

We'll start with a Tweet.

Iraq: They came for Christians, Yezidis, Kurds. Now they come for homosexuals. throw 2 off roof for being gay.

We noted the attack in the snapshot a few hours ago.

Others had noted around the same time that journalist Toby Harnden.did.  We didn't note them.

We noted Harnden who is journalist who I would say lean's right.

And that's fine, even though we're left, because I feel like I know where he is coming from.

But when I see Julie Lenarz Tweeting it, I have this strong repulsion.

With Harnden, it's part of a canvas and incidents.

With Lenarz, it's about screaming for intervention.

She's not so much expressing horror as using the attack to call for what she wants -- ground forces in Iraq.

She's with a relatively new institution, Human Security Centre, so when I think, "Well suddenly they're interested in the attacks on Iraq's LGBTQ community?  Where were they throughout Nouri al-Maliki's second term when Nouri was using the Ministry of the Interior to attack, threaten and kill men suspected of being gay?"

And, sidebar, that's another difference between Harnden and Lenarz, he noted the reality that the dead this week were suspected of being gay.  People like Lenarz are so quick to utilize a crisis, to harness a tragedy, they don't bother with that.  They're going to label the dead the same way the killers labeled them -- and they're in such a rush for war that they don't see the dead as people -- men who may or may not have been gay but will now be gay in death -- the same way some in the press rush to run with "prostitute" for various women killed in Iraq -- women who may or may not have been prostitutes but their killers said they were and now that's what some in the press want them to be.

Lenarz could argue that her organization was silent back when Nouri's goons were killing men suspected of being gay because her organization didn't exist.

And that's true.

It was 'born' only recently.

But Lenarz herself?  She's no infant.

Nor are the others in charge of her organization.

They were functioning adults calling for war in various places back when Nouri was targeting men suspected of being gay.

And the issue didn't warrant comment from Lenarz and the others back then.

But today, when it can be used to garner public support for do-something-do-anything-we're-outraged-and-we're-stupid-so-we-just-want-violence-to-cleanse-our-outrage, now Lenarz wants to talk about the persecution.

I wish I could look at her Tweet and think, "Well, good, at last we're all going to call out these outrages."

But she's not calling them out.

Her Tweet's too busy creating a narrative to even note outrage or disgust over what was done in the photos she reposts.

Because she's too busy fighting to ensure that ground troops from foreign countries are sent into combat in Iraq.

I'm opposed to that but set that aside for just one second.

Lenarz is arguing for a 'solution' that is no 'solution' to the tragedies she uses to advance her cause.

The Islamic State's not doing anything, with regards to LGBTQ issues, that Nouri's government wasn't already doing.

Lenarz isn't interested in the protection of the LGBTQ community in Iraq.

She has no interest in that.

She's got no solutions for these attacks.

She just wants to use them -- and feign horror over them -- to pimp a war.

Again, I wish I could show more charity to those who are known as The Cruise Missile Left but I'm just not a fan of War Hawks.

Someone also ought to point out to her that her narrative leaves out the scientist and journalists targeted by the Islamic State (and that this narrative also goes for the Iraqi government).

The following community sites -- plus FPIF,, IPS and Jody Watley -- updated:

  • The e-mail address for this site is



  • Iraq snapshot

    Friday, January 16, 2015.  Chaos and violence continue, Barack's 'plan' continues to receive criticism, the Defense Dept notes it's not a plan intended to solve anything, various groups remain targeted in Iraq, and much more.

    The outgoing US Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel spoke at Fort Bliss in El Paso, Texas today.on Thursday.

    Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel:  Every day is different, every year is different, every day defines something.  Yesterday is gone, we can't do anything about yesterday.  We can't do a hell of a lot about today, actually.  We can do something about tomorrow.
    And how we define tomorrow, how we define our institutions, how do we define everything that we know is right and we believe in, and how do we prepare our institutions and the next class and the next class and the next group of sergeants majors, those who will have responsibilities that will come after you, how you prepare them, that also is part of responsibility.  And that also feeds into judgment, because that, ultimately, is one of the greatest responsibilities of leadership is preparing an institution for the future.
    We have been trying to do that the last couple of years in Washington, since I have been secretary of defense, not only in the technological edge of assuring that our technical capabilities do not erode as we have had to deal with severe budget issues over the last couple of years, which you all have been part of and had to maneuver and engage and navigate, and you've done it incredibly well, but also other demands and factors and defining dynamics in a world that is now partly intimidated by the -- by the immediacy of everything.  The immediacy of judgments.  The immediacy of we want an answer now.
    And there's where judgment especially comes into play.  I have believed, and as I worked my way along the last 48 years in different jobs, that especially today, but I think it's probably been true through history, that sometimes there are not immediate answers to problems.
    We Americans contest that, we fight that:  Well, of course there's an answer to the problem.  We'll fix it.  Let's go to war.  Let's commit troops.  Or let's present a policy to address that problem.  There's an answer to it.
    Many times, we find that the problem, the challenge, the issue, can only be solved through an evolving process of solutions, ultimately getting to the high ground of resolution.
    That's -- that's the kind of world we're living in.
    Look at the Middle East today.  The Middle East is captive to being now in the grips of historical differences, tribal, religious, ethnic.  That's not the only challenge and that's not the only force that's driving Islamic fundamentalism and terrorism in these -- these ideologies that have nothing to do with religion --that are brutal, murderous, irresponsible.
    That's not religion.  But yet, the divisions and the lines of those divisions as to how they started and how they perpetuate, much rooted in religious or ethnic differences.
    There's not one answer to that.  I think there are evolving solutions, which we are helping play a role in that, but we can't fix that.  The United States of America can't fix that problem.  No country outside that region can fix that problem.  It will be the people themselves who will ultimately have to come to some resolution through a process of evolving solutions to fix it.
    The world will be presented more and more with those kinds of issues, where responsible leadership will always end up having to rely on responsible judgment, and how do we deal with these problems?
    Jon Harper (Stars and Stripes) notes, "Hagel’s remarks came at a time when America is again deploying troops to Iraq to try to defeat insurgents. The U.S. military has also been injected into Syria’s civil war, waging an air campaign and planning to train moderate Syrian rebels to take on the Islamic State terrorist group and other radical factions. Still, the Iraqi government and some in Congress are calling for the Obama administration to step up American military involvement in the conflict against the militants."

    In Wednesday's snapshot, we covered some of the Iraqi government's critiques of and opposition to the US' military involvement in Iraq.  Mustafa Habib (Niqash) has written another important report, this one focusing on the distance growing between the governments of Iraq and the United States:

    The US has been leading an international alliance against the extremist Islamic State group in Iraq. But locals say the US is not doing enough. Politicians in Baghdad recently led a call to scrap the strategic agreement the two countries have had since 2008. Could this be a symptom of Iran's ever-growing influence in Iraq? 

    Four months have passed since the US began to work with an international alliance to confront the threat of the extremist group, the Islamic State, in Iraq. Yet for many locals, there don’t seem to be any obvious results.

    The Islamic State, or IS, group still has control of over around 70 percent of the province of Anbar as well as other cities, like Tikrit and Baiji in Salahaddin province as well as parts of Diyala and Kirkuk.

    As a result of what appears to be something of a stalemate, some Iraqi politicians have started to question an essential agreement between Iraq and the US, known as the Strategic Framework Agreement for a Relationship of Friendship and Cooperation between the United States and the Republic of Iraq. It’s known as the SFA for short.

    As the US Embassy in Iraq’s website describes the agreement, which was signed in November 2008, it, “guides our overall political, economic, cultural, and security ties with Iraq”. 

    Section 3 of the SFA describes the close cooperation between the two signatories on defence and security in Iraq. Yet slowly but surely Iraqis are starting to question: Why can’t a superpower like the US defeat the IS group? 

    And last week Iraqi MPs began to push for answers, with some even suggesting a cancellation of the SFA. Among them was Alia Nassif, an MP for the ruling State of Law party, a Shiite Muslim-majority party headed by both the current and former Prime Ministers of Iraq. “Iraq does not benefit from the security agreement with the US,” a statement from Nassif’s office said. “On the contrary the agreement has become a heavy burden on us because the US has not fulfilled one of its stated obligations – strengthening and supporting the democratic system in Iraq. The IS group threatens the whole existence of the Iraqi state.”

    As the critiques and slams grow louder, it creates the space for Nouri to return.  And there are those on Arabic social media who don't see the critiques of Haider al-Abadi as 'spontaneous' but as part of an arrangement the current prime minister has with previous prime minister Nouri al-Maliki that will allow him to return to power.

    Some argue this supposed plan is the reason Haider's refused to demand Nouri vacate the prime minister residence.  Haider became prime minister in August, yet all these months later he still does not live in the home of the prime minister, all these months later Nouri continues to reside there and refuses to leave.

    The month Haider became prime minister is the same month US President Barack Obama began ordering war planes to bomb Iraq.  Like Haider, Barack's accomplished very little.

    At the Pentagon on Thursday, an Air Force press briefing was held with the Secretary of the Air Force Deborah Lee James and the Chief of Staff of the Air Force General Mark A. Welsh III taking questions.  We'll note this exchange.

    Q: Do you think that there's just too much emphasis at the moment on the air part of the equation, that everyone thinks you're going -- from the air, you can defeat ISIS, you can defeat Al Qaeda in Yemen, when defeat may not be what is possible from the air?

    GEN. WELSH: No, I don't think, speaking specifically to ISIS, that the -- that the DOD approach is not to defeat ISIS from the air. The intent is to inhibit ISIS, to attrite ISIS, to slow ISIS down, to give a ground force time to be trained because the ground force will be required.
    You -- you don't dictate end states from the air. You can't control territory. You can't influence people. You can't maintain lines of control after you've established them. That will take a ground force -- in this case, a coalition ground force that's being trained now to try and make that effort, and we'll support it from the air.

    You don't dictate end states from the air.

    . . . the DOD approach is not to defeat ISIS fromt he air.

    Over a billion dollars has been spent on Barack's 'plan' since August and it's accomplished nothing of merit and even the Defense Dept is no longer propping it up.

    The 'plan' was for these air bombings to continue and, in February, for the Iraqi military to attempt to retake Mosul.

    Now it's thought that this would be too soon, that the Iraqi military is not ready yet.  When will it be ready?

    Haider al-Abadi started this week making comments about how, in three years, the Iraqi military might be ready.  


    So these bombings will just continue and the billions will just keep adding up?

    There is no plan so it should come as no surprise that the White House also failed to come up with a backup plan.

    Two incidents of violence garnered Twitter attention on Thursday.

  • | fighters stoning an Iraqi women in Nineveh Province accused of adultery.

    And on the topic of violence, the Iraqi government announced 16 Sunni corpses were discovered in a mass grave in Kobachi. Sameer N. Yacoub (AP) rushes to blame the Islamic State by quoting a mayor of a nearby city.  AP presents no qualifiers or questions. Saif Hameed, Ned Parker and Gareth Jones (Reuters) note the mayor's claim but also note the area was liberated in November and "Shi'ite militias have also been accused of atrocities when retaking land from Islamic State, which swept across northern Iraq last summer as the Iraqi army collapsed."

    Iraqi Spring MC notes 1 corpse was discovered in Basra (blindfolded with shots to the head),  a border police captain was killed in Muqdadiyah, an Aden roadside bombing left six people injured or dead, the Iraqi military's bombing of the residential neighborhood's in Falluja left 2 civilians dead and thirteen more (including three children) injured, and the corpse of the brother of an Iraqi journalist who was kidnapped was discovered outside Samarra.  Alsumaria reports a Heer home bombing left 3 women dead.  National Iraqi News Agency notes 1 corpse was discovered dumped in the streets of Baghdad.

    Al Jazeera adds:

    Sources told Al Jazeera that at least 16 Peshmerga soldiers were killed on Thursday trying to repel an ISIL attack on the Mosul Dam in Nineveh province.
    The dam, located on the Tigris river, provides electricity to northwestern province of Anbar, which is under ISIL's control.
    In another attack, seven fighters from militias fighting against ISIL in Diyala Province were killed in the town of al- Mansuriya.

    In news of other attacks, Paul McLeary (Defense News) reports, "The 300 US soldiers and Marines at al Asad air base in Iraq's Anbar province continue to see mortar fire directed at their positions, with six more mortar rounds landing on the sprawling complex last week."  As those US troops remain under attack, National Iraqi News Agency notes Anthony H. Cordesman is predicting that the number of US troops in Iraq by the end of 2015 will be around 9,000 to 15,000.

    Meanwhile Margaret Griffis ( counts 134 violent deaths across Iraq on Thursday with twenty-three more people injured.

    In other news, Column Lynch (Foreign Policy) reports the White House's ambassador-at-large for War Crimes is stepping down and notes:

    The administration has largely pressed the case for accountability for crimes selectively, passionately promoting the international prosecution of political rivals, from the late Libyan leader Muammar al-Qaddafi to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, while seeking to protect American military personnel and allies like Israel from international scrutiny for their own alleged crimes, according to rights advocates. The Obama Administration has made it clear it has no intention of formally joining the International Criminal Court, arguing that a push for Senate ratification of the treaty establishing the Hague-based court would be destined for defeat.
    The administration’s standing on such issues has also been tainted by its refusal to punish CIA operatives involved in the torture of detainees or to close down the U.S. detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, a source of widespread outrage around the world. 

    Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America issued the following on Thursday:

    New York, N.Y. (January 15, 2015) – American Sniper, the biopic of Iraq war veteran U.S. Navy Seal Chris Kyle, earned six Oscar nominations this morning, including nods for Best Picture and Best Actor for Bradley Cooper. The film, based on Kyle’s New York Times best-selling biography of the same name, offers a gripping portrayal of the Iraq War, the struggles of post-traumatic stress and the impact of war on military families.
    “IAVA congratulates the American Sniper team on this historic achievement. American Sniper is a new war film classic and maybe the greatest modern war film of our time. Its power is in its focused simplicity that accurately portrays the heroism, horror and tragedy that is the Iraq War,” said IAVA CEO and Founder Paul Rieckhoff, who attended the New York City premiere in December. “About 2.8 million men and women have served in the post-9/11 wars, yet there is still a clear military-civilian divide in this country. But director Clint Eastwood – an Army veteran himself who used the G.I. bill to go to college – got it right. We hope all Americans will see the film, join in the conversation, and learn more about veterans’ issues at”
    American Sniper was nominated for an Oscar in the following categories:
    • Best Picture
    • Best Actor
    • Best Sound Editing
    • Best Adapted Screen Play
    • Best Film Editing
    • Best Sound Mixing
    Over the past few weeks, IAVA has partnered with the film to bring more than 40 pre-released screenings to its members nationwide. IAVA met with Bradley Cooper and sent members and staff to the film’s premiere in Washington, D.C.
    The film depicts extremely violent war imagery. Veterans in need of community are encouraged to explore IAVA’s member-based programs or call the Veteran Crisis Line at 800-273-8255 to be connected with qualified responders.
    The 87th annual Academy Awards will be held on Feb. 22, 2015, at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood, Los Angeles. The film opens in theaters nationwide tomorrow.
    Note to media: Email or call 212-982-9699 to speak with IAVA CEO and Founder Paul Rieckhoff or IAVA leadership.
    Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America ( is the nation's first and largest nonpartisan, nonprofit organization representing veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan and has nearly 300,000 Member Veterans and civilian supporters nationwide. Celebrating its 10th year anniversary, IAVA recently received the highest rating - four-stars - from Charity Navigator, America's largest charity evaluator.