Tonight, at 9:34 EST, the Iraq War hits the 17 years mark.
Yes, the Iraq War continues despite lies otherwise. From Andrew Milburn's "The Iraq War is not over yet (MILITARY TIMES):
Five coalition servicemen died this past week in Iraq. Capt. Moises Navas and Gunnery Sgt. Diego Pongo, both Marines, were killed in northern Iraq by Islamic State fighters, while a few days later, Army Spc. Juan Covarrubias, Air Force Staff Sgt. Marshal Roberts and British medic Lance Cpl. Brodie Gillon died in a rocket attack launched by a Shia militia group.
If media attention hadn’t been fixated on Covid-19, their deaths might have raised the question of what the United States is still doing in Iraq. It’s a fair question. The Islamic State’s physical caliphate is no more, and in the wake of assassination of Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani, the Iraqi parliament recently voted to expel U.S. forces. Now, with Iranian-backed militia groups targeting U.S. troops, it’s probably a good time for the administration to assess its policy objectives in Iraq.
To be clear, this isn’t going to be diatribe against military involvement overseas. I have, over the course of a 31-year career, seen my share of wasted effort and lives in pursuit of incoherent policy objectives, but am not of the view that the U.S. can simply retreat behind its borders and expect its national interests to take care of themselves. And there is good reason for continued U.S. military involvement in Iraq: to pre-empt a resurgence of the Islamic State — a threat which, as this recent incident illustrates, has not gone away — and as a check on the malign influence of Iran. The 5,000 U.S. troops currently there might be a relatively small price to pay to achieve those goals, if that is indeed the plan. But at a time when the United States finds itself again at a decision point in Iraq, I am concerned that once again there are no clear policy objectives to guide U.S. military involvement.
While he feels there may still be a role for the US military in Iraq, I do not.
Why are propping up a government with our military when the government has killed protesters and reporters -- not in the distant past but in the ongoing present?
From Amnesty International:
From October onwards, security forces, including factions of the Popular Mobilization Units (PMU), used excessive force against protesters involved in nationwide demonstrations, killing over 500 and injuring thousands; many of those killed were shot with live ammunition or hit with previously unseen tear gas canisters. Activists, as well as lawyers representing protesters, medics treating injured ones and journalists covering the protests, were subjected to arrest, enforced disappearance and other forms of intimidation by intelligence and security forces. Authorities blocked access to the internet, apparently to prevent the circulation of images of abuses by security forces. Approximately 1.55 million people remained internally displaced; many faced severe restrictions on their freedom of movement. Abrupt camp closures in Anbar and Ninewa governorates forced many families into secondary displacement. Thousands of men and boys remained missing after being forcibly disappeared by Iraqi security forces, including the PMU, while fleeing IS-held territories. There were widespread reports of torture and other ill-treatment of detainees held by central Iraqi and KRG forces, particularly of those suspected of affiliation with IS. Iraqi courts continued to pass down death sentences, some after unfair trials. IS targeted civilians, carrying out bomb attacks in cities and assassinating community leaders.
From Human Rights Watch:
Unidentified armed forces, apparently in cooperation with Iraqi national and local security forces, carried out a brutal spate of killings in Baghdad’s main protest area on December 6, 2019, Human Rights Watch said today. Estimates range between 29 and 80 dead, and 137 injured. Electricity to the area was cut during the attack, making it harder for protesters to identify the killers and flee to safety. Police and military forces withdrew as the unidentified militia, some in uniforms, began shooting.
The killings come three months into protests in Baghdad and southern Iraq, in which the death toll has reached 511 people, according to the Ministry of Health. Given the level of unlawful killings by the state forces, countries such as the United States, United Kingdom, and Iran – that provide military and law enforcement training and support to Iraq – should end such assistance until the authorities take effective action to stop the killings and hold abusers to account. The United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva should hold a special session into the killings of protesters in Iraq.
“The US, UK, and Iran can’t have it both ways, calling on the Iraqi government to respect the rights of protesters while supporting the Iraqi forces killing protesters or standing by,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. “With killings of protesters continuing day after day, they should end this support.”
Five witnesses to the killings told Human Rights Watch by phone that on December 6 about 1,000 protesters were present in Baghdad’s al-Khilani Square, 600 meters north of Tahrir Square, and in al-Senak Garage, a five-story parking garage just off al-Khilani Square they had been occupying since November 16. At about 7:30 p.m., they said they saw seven pickup trucks speed into al-Khilani Square and slow down. As the vehicles drove through the square slowly, gunmen in plain black uniforms and civilian dress opened fire with AK-47s and PK machine guns above the protesters, before lowering and firing directly at them. At the time, the witnesses said the protesters were gathered peacefully and not threatening any violent acts.
The witnesses said they saw about two dozen Federal Police and Iraqi Security Forces (ISF), who were manning two checkpoints in the square, leave by car as the gunmen arrived. Some nine hours later, at 4:30 a.m. on December 7, the armed men left, they said, and within a few minutes security forces returned.
Grasp that the above, what the government of Iraq is carrying out on the people right now, that's what leads neoliberals like Samantha Power -- the Cruise Missile Left crowd -- to call for regime change and war. Grasp that. The government in place, the one US troops are on the ground in Iraq supporting, is carrying out acts that would lead elements in the US to call for war.
Those of us old enough to remember the start of the ongoing Iraq War should be highly familiar with A Problem From Hell Samantha Power and the others in the Cruise Missile Left. But let's make sure we're all on the same page.
I'm not sure if Edward S. Herman coined the term or not but he certainly popularized it. This is from a piece at ZNET that he wrote months before the start of the Iraq War:
A prominent set of commentators claiming to speak from the left
have aligned themselves with the national leadership in support
of an aggressive military interventionism and projection of
power abroad. This is by no means a genuine left—that
is, one that opposes the powerful in the interest of the non-elite
majority. I call them a “cruise missile left” (CML)
because of their alignment with power and their eager support
of external violence, which is a very important component
of their intellectual labors. One of their cohort, Christopher
Hitchens, even explicitly lauds cruise missiles themselves—“precision-guided
weaponry”—which he finds “good in itself,”
but especially admirable when decimating the forces of evil
that are the official targets (“Its a Good Time for War…,”
September 8, 2002).
CMLs often designate themselves the “pragmatic,”
“rational,” and “decent” left and they
spend considerable energy attacking their erstwhile comrades
for failing to keep in touch with the U.S. public, for “reflexive
anti-Americanism” (Todd Gitlin), for “genuflecting
only briefly—if at all—to the [9/11] dead”
(Marc Cooper), for “refusing to acknowledge that the
country faced real dangers” and has a right to defend
itself (Michael Walzer), and for not crediting U.S. policy
with successes when it attacks and removes bad men from power
(Michael Berube et al.), among other leftists’ failings.
CMLs are of course welcomed by the mainstream media, because
they not only support the elite political agenda, they attack
its real left critics with great vigor and with the credibility
of alleged leftists who have escaped “the politics of
guilt and resentment” (Walzer, “Can There Be a Decent
Left?,” Dissent, Spring 2002). Marc Cooper recently
published a second article in the Los Angeles Times
that focused on the recent failures of the peace movement,
attributed to the influence of a left faction “steeped
in four decades’ worth of crude anti-Americanism,”
although why he and the “decent left” haven’t
successfully stepped into the breach and revitalized the movement,
Cooper never makes clear (“Protest: A Smart Peace Movement
is MIA,” LAT, September 29, 2002). CMLs even speak
of the “Chomsky-left” as a generic class of leftists
who are extremist, angry, reflexively anti-American, etc.,
and attacking Chomsky is a favorite outing for CMLs. This
helps improve their access to the mainstream media, where
in addition to garnering publicity they are relatively free
from critical response.
One problem with the CMLs is that, not really being on the
left, they have lost sight of what the left is all about.
The left’s criterion of success is not the extent to
which it is listened to or heard, irrespective of message
content; it is its success in getting a left message across
(and on some issues, like “free trade,” and the
merits of overseas military ventures [except in the heat of
battle and under a furious elite propaganda barrage], the
“radical left” is far closer to mainstream opinion
than is the “decent left,” and it is listened to
on those issues by ordinary citizens when they can be reached).
On issues where it is in a minority position, a real left
does not abandon its position in order to be acceptable. Marc
Cooper objects to the left’s “scold mold” and
its “alienation from its own national institutions,”
and Gitlin calls on the left to be “practical—the
stakes are too great for the luxury of any fundamentalism.”
One can readily imagine the Cooper, Gitlin, Walzer, Berube,
and Hitchens equivalents of the 1850s explaining to the abolitionists
that they must tone down their message and alter or even drop
their anti-racist and anti-slavery message given the “political
realities” and public sentiment. But then, as now, a
genuine left focuses on the struggle against basic exploitative
and unjust policies and structures—it does not give up
its radical educational and organizing role in order to win
transitory victories and gain access and approval from the
mainstream. Most certainly it does not join militaristic bandwagons
and support wars against distant small targets on the grounds
of the evil being attacked in some particular case.
More recently, Danny Haiphong (BLACK AGENDA REPORT) explained:
The cruise missile left has aligned with the Democratic Party and the intelligence agencies against Trump and have dropped any anti-war, anti-imperialist, and anti-capitalist tendencies in the process.
Nowhere is this clearer than in its position on Syria. The cruise missile left is best represented by the likes of Democracy Now! and The Intercept. Both sources have worked together to subtly forward the agenda of US imperialism. Since 2011, Amy Goodman has never strayed from the NATO line on countries such as Libya, Syria, and Russia. Like the corporate media, Goodman and her staff at Democracy Now! have provided positive coverage of so-called humanitarian groups like the White Helmets which have long been proven to work directly with NATO-armed jihadist mercenaries ravaging Syria . The Intercept and Democracy Now! have refused to invite any guests on their show that deviate from the NATO line on Syria.
These sources have benefited from the corporate takeover of the US media. Democracy Now! and The Intercept act as an escape valve from corporate media lies, which make them more difficult to criticize when they serve the same interests as the corporate media outlets that spurred their formation. In their coverage of the alleged chemical attack in Douma, both Amy Goodman and Glenn Greenwald joined the imperial chorus that the Syrian government bore responsibility for an attack that had yet to be proven even happened. Even Secretary of Defense James “Mad Dog” Mattis admitted that the US lacked evidence backing up their claims against Assad. The Intercept and Democracy Now! staked their firm position against the Syrian government despite the overwhelming evidence that Syria destroyed its chemical weapons in the OPCW brokered deal between Russia and the US in 2013 and that Syria, Russia, and their allies are the only parties interested in coming to a peaceful resolution to the war.
Cruise missile leftists thus bear much of the responsibility for the US, UK, and French airstrikes conducted against Syria on April 14th. After the strikes, Amy Goodman invited Chelsea Manning and so-called activist Rahmah Kudaimi to her show. Manning was given little time to speak while over seventy percent of the joint interview was taken up by Kudaimi’s assertions that US airstrikes “enable” the Syrian “regime.” Kudaimi practically begged the US to conduct the airstrikes correctly and fulfill the legitimate demand of the Syrian people to overthrow the Syrian government. Nowhere did Amy Goodman challenge such blatant support of US imperial objectives in Syria and beyond.
There is no reason for the US military to be in Iraq. There never was. To remain is to prop up the government which is not representative of the Iraqi people and which actively works to attack the Iraqi people.
Grasp how unembraced that government is by the Iraqi people. They have no real prime minister.
Adil Abdul Mahdi? In November, he announced his resignation. In December, he gave his I-really-really-really-mean-it-I'm-resigning notice. Still no new prime minister.
Iraqi president Barham Salih announced Mohammed Allawi as prime minister-designate. He wasn't able to put together a Cabinet and he announced that he was resigning as prime minister-designate. As noted in Tuesday's snapshot, Salih has now named Adnan al-Zurufi prime minister-designate. THE NATIONAL notes:
Adnan Al Zurfi is a former official of the US-run authorities who took over Iraq after the 2003 invasion to remove Saddam Hussein.
Mr Al Zurfi, 54, is head of the Nasr parliamentary grouping of former prime minister Haider Al Abadi, also a US ally.
He has 30 days to form his cabinet, which must then be put to a vote of confidence in Iraq’s divided Parliament.
Hours after Zurfi was nominated, powerful Shia blocs quickly lined up to pose their rejection. Lawmakers told Reuters that President Barham Salih had named Zurfi only after larger rival Shia political parties failed to agree on one candidate.
Some of those same groups rounded on the new candidate, who is head of the small Nasr parliamentary group of former prime minister Haider al-Abadi, a U.S. ally.
"We hold the president fully responsible for the repercussions of these provocative steps," read a statement from the Fatih alliance, which represents mostly Iran-backed Shia militia leaders in parliament.
"He's an American joker and we reject him," said Hassan Salim, a lawmaker from Asaib Ahl al-Haq Iranian-backed group which the United States designated as a terrorist organization in January.
Zurfi lived in the United States as a refugee in the 1990s after fleeing the regime of Saddam Hussein and he later became a U.S. citizen. He is seen as a comparatively secular figure in a country long dominated by sectarian parties.
Turning to the US and the Democratic Party's presidential nomination, there are people calling for Bernie Sanders to drop out of the race.
Bernie should do what Bernie wants to do.
If he's tired of the race, drop out.
But if he wants to stay in, he should.
He has more media coverage while he's in the race which allows his serious attempts to address the coronvirus to get more traction. He can also highlight other issues.
That's one thing to remember.
Second? You need 1991 delegates to win the nomination. Joe Biden doesn't have that. He has 1132. That's a long way from 1991. Bernie has 817. The race is far from settled.
Third? In the 2008 Democratic Party primary, Hillary Clinton waited until June 7th to drop out and endorse Barack Obama. It's not even April right now.
Bernie needs to do what's going to make him happy.
But the race is not over and he gains more media attention for any proposal he makes while he is running for the nomination.
On coronavirus. Donald Trump is linking it to China. China is very populated country. If he has criticism of the Chinese government and how it handled the outbreak, he should be specific that he's criticizing the government. A number of e-mails to the public account claim that I have attacked his remarks on that and that I'm part of some revisionary movement.
Wrong and wrong.
I don't follow most of what he says. I don't mean to mean or cruel but I don't. I'm not obsessed with him. I don't follow his Tweets. He is not my life. I'm not pathetic like Debra Messing and others who feel the need to respond to everyone of his Tweets and everyone of his remarks. I have a life and I focus on issues that matter. I do feel he mispoke and it might have been intentional on the coronavirus. As I noted in a snapshot last week, being the president means being the national cheerleader on an international stage. And I noted I wasn't going to hold some remarks against him for that reason -- while also noting that I don't believe you manage public opinion, I believe you share all information.
So, no, I haven't attacked his remarks.
As for revisionary movement, I had to ask Martha and Shirley what the drive-by e-mails are saying on that.
According to the e-mails the 1918 Influenza is 'revisionary.' It was, supposedly, taught as the Spanish flu for decades and decades.
I don't know that.
Ava and I called it the 1918 influenza in "TV: The future is out there" (and in pieces for community newsletters) because that's what the PBS special we saw called it. Ava's much younger than I am and she wasn't taught "Spanish flu" but allows she doesn't remember it being taught at all. Me?
I long ago shared I went through a trauma that wiped away my memory. I've shared that here many times. I've noted that's why I always operate from the belief that I'm the least intelligent person in the room. I've shared how I had to start with children's books on various subjects to re-learn all I had lost in my memory. This isn't new but I understand a drive-by reader isn't going to know everything that's up here.
But it is up here. I lost everything pretty much. So what I was taught in school vanished. I have college and to hold my own in college I had to start with children's books on whatever subject and slowly progress. I've compared myself repeatedly (here I've done this) to Joey on FRIENDS when he buys the one encylopedia volume and learns that and gets upset when the conversation steers beyond the letter of the volume he bought.
I can't say you weren't taught to call it the Spanish flu back when you were in school. I can't even say I wasn't taught that. I can say that I have no idea what I was taught in school. I had to relearn and that's good because it does allow me to be free of a lot of prejudices that I would otherwise have ingrained into me from the indoctrination that was passed off as education -- an indoctrination that told you gays and lesbians were mentally ill, that told you slavery was noble and the slaves were happy (yes, that was actually taught in some school systems) and so much more nonsense.
I knew nothing of the influenza attack until we watched the PBS special weeks ago. Nothing. Couldn't have told you the year or anything about it. Couldn't have even guessed that it was during WWI.
The following sites updated: