Saturday, June 06, 2020

Iraq and Biden: Almost doesn't count

May 7th, Mustafa al-Kadhimi became prime minister of Iraq.  Today?  He finally formed a Cabinet.  ALJAZEERA reports, "Iraq's parliament has given its vote of confidence to seven cabinet ministers, including the key oil and foreign affairs posts, completing the 22-member government of Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi."  And it only took him fifty-eight days.  

30.  For those who've forgotten, that's the time limit Iraq's Constitution sets for forming a Cabinet.  You have 30 days after you are named prime minister-designate.  April 9th, Mustafa was named prime minister-designate.  May 7th, he was named prime minister despite the fact that he hadn't formed a Cabinet.

As Brandy told us years ago, everybody knows almost doesn't count.

The inability to follow the Constitution does not speak well for the Iraqi government and Mustafa's taking 58 days to form a Cabinet does not speak well for him.

Fuad Hussein of the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) is now Iraq’s foreign minister, joining Judge Salar Abdulsatar – of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK)  - appointed as justice minister on Saturday. 

Kurds now hold three of 22 cabinet positions, with Nazanin Mohammed previously voted in as Construction, Housing, Municipalities, and Public Works minister.

REUTERS points out, "Kadhimi's government faces a health crisis as coronavirus cases rise, an oil-dependent economy in dire straits, the attempted resurgence of Islamic State militants, and U.S.-Iranian tension that brought the region to the brink of war earlier this year."  On the economy, Suadad al-Salhy (MIDDLE EAST EYE) notes:

Just a month into his fledgling rule, Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi is facing an economic crisis that could leave millions of Iraqis out of pocket and may spell fresh unrest in the beleaguered country.

The recent sharp decline in oil prices, the coronavirus pandemic and months of political turbulence have left Iraq’s financial situation in tatters.

Appearing on the horizon is Baghdad’s inability to secure the next two months’ salaries for public sector employees, or pay pensions and benefits, a loss of income that would affect the majority of Iraqi households.

On ISIS, Sajad Jiyad (WPR) offers:

The Islamic State is stepping up its attacks in Iraq, fulfilling the expectations of many analysts that the extremist group would mount a comeback after the Iraqi government declared victory over it in 2017.

While the Islamic State has yet to show the same capabilities it had at its peak in 2013 and 2014, when it gained control of several provinces and population centers — including Mosul, one of Iraq's largest cities — the tempo of attacks has been increasing for over six months. This coincides with a period of domestic unrest due to widespread anti-government protests.

I don't understand his scale.  The rise of ISIS wasn't surprising to us here.  We saw it coming, we noted it as it did.  We noted how it would play out and that's what happened -- Sunnis were persecuted, ISIS rose up in response to that.  ISIS passed themselves off as defenders of the Sunnis.  Though some Sunnis may have believed that for a brief time (they may not), the dominant mood became -- as we said it would -- this is someone else's fight because the government has been attacking me.  

Jiyad is using a scale that involves the taking of territory.

ISIS is a terrorist organization.  What they managed to do -- thanks to the weakness of thug and professional coward Nouri al-Maliki -- was not typical and probably no one in ISIS expects it to happen again.  

When you put a finger on the scale like that -- act as though that is the norm for a terrorist group -- you're never going to honestly assess what the terrorism that they're inflicting.  

Meanwhile, in the US, Salena Zito (NEW YORK POST) reports on the Pennsylvania primary:

Meanwhile, Biden, who boasts Scranton as his hometown and has based his national campaign headquarters in Philadelphia, has earned just under 78 percent of his party’s support. Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and Hawaiian Rep. Tulsi Gabbard ate away at his numbers, with Sanders winning nearly 20 percent of the vote even though he has dropped out of the race and urged his supporters to back Biden.

What’s more, only registered party members can vote in their party’s primary in this state and there are approximately 800,000 more registered Democrats than Republicans in Pennsylvania.

In some counties, including Erie, Washington and Beaver, the percentage of Biden voters slipped to the low 70s. These ancestral Democratic counties are important, because this is where voters turned out in droves for Trump in 2016, helping to match the blue votes in and around Philadelphia to give him a squeaker of a victory.

For those who've forgotten, Tulsi dropped out before Bernie Sanders.  She dropped out March 19th, Bernie dropped out April 8th.  That both continued to chip away at Joe's support goes to just how weak a candidate Joe Biden is.  He's never built enthusiasm.  He's no-mentum Joe.  And that does matter.  If you doubt it, note this observation from Helmut Norpoth (THE HILL):

Along this vein, a recent national poll shows Biden ahead of Trump. But it also reveals Trump has a lead in more than a dozen swing states. In 2016, as the record shows, those states split almost evenly between Trump and Clinton. This year, the same states favor Trump over Biden by 7 points. If anything, this portends an even bigger victory for Trump in the Electoral College and then second place in the popular vote once again.

In late January, Black Lives Matter commissioned eight focus groups of young black voters in swing states to drill down on a problem for Democrats since Barack Obama left office: why they weren’t excited to vote. One black man from Philadelphia told a pollster that his mother and grandfather had voted over the years, and “all of them got nothing. So why should I participate in the same process?"

The focus groups were conducted before unrest swept the country in response to the killing of George Floyd at the hands of police. It also preceded the outbreak of a pandemic that’s ravaged the country and an economic downturn that’s left more than 40 million unemployed. 

At the center of all three crises are black Americans. 

In response, Democrats have urged African Americans to channel their frustrations into voting. But for younger black voters, many of whom are protesting in dozens of American cities, that requires trust in a system that they believe has done little for them or their families. Joe Biden is struggling to connect with young voters, particularly those of color, according to public and private polling — a serious problem for the former vice president that started during the presidential primary. 

 Joe's got other problems as well.  Including the credible accusation of assault made by Tara Reade.  Nicky Reid (COUNTERPUNCH) observes:

Well, I can tell you dearest motherf**kers, without a shadow of a doubt, that I believe Tara Reade for the same reasons I believe Juanita Broaddrick, Christine Blasey Ford, and Donald Trump’s bevy of accusers. I believe women who accuse political predators of sexual predation because as an anarcha-feminist I know that hierarchies of any kind, be they religious, corporate, judicial, or governmental, are structures built on an architecture of exploitation. I believe Tara Reade for the same reason I would believe any credible woman who accused Ted Bundy of assaulting her, because anyone capable of murdering 40 women is more than capable of “lesser” acts of brutality. The same goes for anyone capable of 40,000 or 400,000 murders as the Bidens and the Clintons of this world are guilty of, with their casually cruel policies in the Middle East.

Do you really think that’s a coincidence? That men capable of ordering drone strikes the way you or I order a f**king pizza might suffer from similar forms of sociopathic depravity in their private lives? Why do you think Jeffrey Epstein was so popular with Democrats and Republicans alike? Why do you think nearly every president from Kennedy to Reagan has nearly as many accusers as they do wars under their belts? Because Imperialists rape, in the Mekong Delta or the country club. They are predators by the very nature of their chosen careers, and you don’t just turn that kind of entitled violence off when you head home from the office in the evening.

Hillary Clinton almost made it to the White House in 2016.  And she was a much stronger candidate than Joe.  The DNC has decided on Joe.  If he loses in November, remember, Brandy said it years ago, "Almost doesn't count."

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    The Good, the Potential, and What Might Happen

    The Good, the Potential, and What Might Happen

    By David Swanson

    Already we’ve seen, as a result of people taking to the streets in the United States:

    • Four policemen indicted.
    • More racist monuments dismantled.
    • Some minimal and inconsistent limit on what the New York Times editorial page will defend having done in the way of spreading evil.
    • Some minimal and inconsistent limit on what Twitter will do in the way of spreading evil.
    • A virtual ban on continuing the pretense that kneeling for Black Lives Matter during a national anthem is an unacceptable violation of the sacred flag. (Note that the change is not in intellectual ability but in what is deemed morally acceptable.)
    • Much greater recognition of the value provided by those who videotape the police committing murder.
    • Some recognition of the harm done by prosecutors — largely due to the accident that a particular former prosecutor wants to be a vice presidential candidate.
    • Federal legislation introduced and discussed to halt the provision of war weapons to police, to make it easier to prosecute police, and to prevent the U.S. military from attacking demonstrators.
    • Proposals widely discussed and even considered by local governments to defund or eliminate armed police.
    • A reduction in the pretense that racism is over.
    • An increase in recognition that police cause violence and blame it on protesters.
    • An increase in recognition that corporate media outlets distract from problems being protested by focusing on violence blamed on protesters.
    • Some increase in recognition that extreme inequality, poverty, powerlessness, and structural and personal racism will keep boiling over if not addressed.
    • Outrage at the militarization of police and at the use of military troops and unidentified troops/police in the United States.
    • The power of courageous nonviolent activism on display, moving opinion and policy and even winning over armed militarized police.

    This has happened, remarkably, despite:

    • The longstanding pretense in U.S. media and culture that activism doesn’t work.
    • The longstanding severe shortage of activism in the United States.
    • The COVID-19 pandemic.
    • The partisan identification of violating shelter-in-place policies with the Republican Party and armed rightwing racists.
    • The billion dollar a year pro-military marketing campaign funded by the U.S. government.

    What could happen if this continues and escalates strategically and creatively:

    • It could become routine for police to be barred from murdering people.
    • Media and social media outlets could block promotion of violence, including police violence and war violence.
    • Colin Kaepernick could get his job back.
    • The Pentagon could cease providing weapons to police, and not provide them to dictators or coup-leaders or mercenaries or secret agencies, but destroy them.
    • The U.S. military and National Guard could be kept entirely off of U.S. land, including U.S. borders.
    • Cultural and educational and activist changes could reshape U.S. society on many other issues as well.
    • Billionaires could be taxed, a Green New Deal and Medicare for All and Public College and fair trade and universal basic income could become law.
    • People objecting to the military on U.S. streets could object to the U.S. military on the rest of the world’s streets. Wars could be ended. Bases could be closed.
    • Money could be moved from police to human needs, and from militarism to human and environmental needs.

    What might go wrong?

    • The excitement could fade.
    • The media could be distracted.
    • Trump could start a war.
    • The crackdown could work.
    • The pandemic could surge.
    • The Democrats could take the White House and all activism evaporate if it was more partisan in basis than it sometimes appeared.

    So, what should we do?

    • Carpe Diem! And quickly. Anything that you can do to help should be done immediately.


    David Swanson is an author, activist, journalist, and radio host. He is executive director of and campaign coordinator for Swanson's books include War Is A Lie. He blogs at and He hosts Talk Nation Radio. He is a 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019 Nobel Peace Prize Nominee.

    Follow him on Twitter: @davidcnswanson and FaceBook.

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