Friday, May 22, 2015

Required reading

I'll praise the article but not the author.


If you missed it last year, Dexter Filkins had a strong article on Iraq and what was taking place.


Revisit Dexter Filkins's reporting on the factors that led to the rise of ISIS and the collapse of Iraq:
31 retweets 43 favorites


Make a point to read it.


"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):

Thursday, May 21, 2015. Chaos and violence continue, politicians continue lying about Iraq, Haider al-Abadi goes off on a whirlwind trip to Russia, Barack insists that the Islamic State is not winning in Iraq, and much more.



Throughout this week, I've repeatedly stressed that the only politician with a national profile who can tell the truth on Iraq is former Senator Mike Gravel.  No one else can.

Today, Fritz comes along to prove me . . . right.

Former Senator Ernest F. Hollings comes along to prove that, while a train can whistle, a politician can only lie.

"Why America invaded -- and failed in -- Iraq," finds Fritz name dropping ("my old desk partner, Joe Biden"), envious of other countries ("What does Mossad say about Iraq?") but mainly just lying.  Lying to himself and others.

Fritz insists he was against the Iraq War . . . before he was for it.  See speaking to then-Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, sharp as a tack Fritz noticed Rumsfeld didn't answer him when he asked Donald, "What does Mossad say about Iraq?"  So Fritz knew he had to vote against the 2002 war on Iraq resolution.  Bully Boy Bush goes on TV making the case for starting war without provocation by declaring, "We cannot wait until the smoking gun is a mushroom cloud."  Then Fritz "knew" (his term) that the CIA told Bully Boy Bush that Iraq had WMD.

How did he know it?

I think he spread his legs while Peatsy Hollings, noted music hater, whispered in the vicinity of his anus, "Real men start illegal wars."

That makes about as much since as anything else in his long lie of a column.

Personal favorite?

This passage:

I remember debating a PNAC Resolution on Iraq in 1998. We finally agreed under Trent Lott, the Senate majority leader, to a resolution on Iraq by a voice vote so long as the last paragraph was worded: “Under no circumstance does this permit military action against Iraq.” At that time, we wanted to stir dissent and have Iraq headed for a democracy but under no circumstance invade.  

Yes, in the world of civil disobedience, no one has done more than the US Congress.  He wanted "to stir dissent"?

Again, politicians lie.

And then they lie again.

Fritz isn't just lying, he's also stupid.

It's a generational stupid on his part.

Fritz spends his retirement writing these columns and gets all excited when they're printed.  Not since Peatsy railed against the Prince-written Sheena Easton hit "Sugar Walls" has either spouse had an encounter with the modern world so many of us live in today.

Meaning?

Only an old fool who didn't grasp the internet would type that he voted for the resolution only after its last paragraph included "Under no circumstance does this permit military action against Iraq."

Only an old fool who didn't grasp the internet would type that claim.

Click here.

It's the resolution that passed the Senate (identical to what passed the House, by the way).

Where's the statement, Fritz?

It's not in the bill.




105th CONGRESS
  2d Session
                                S. 2525

  To establish a program to support a transition to democracy in Iraq.


_______________________________________________________________________


                   IN THE SENATE OF THE UNITED STATES

                           September 29, 1998

   Mr. Lott (for himself, Mr. Kerrey, Mr. McCain, Mr. Lieberman, Mr. 
Helms, Mr. Shelby, Mr. Brownback, and Mr. Kyl) introduced the following 
  bill; which was read twice and referred to the Committee on Foreign 
                               Relations

_______________________________________________________________________

                                 A BILL


 
  To establish a program to support a transition to democracy in Iraq.

    Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the 
United States of America in Congress assembled,

SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.

    This Act may be cited as the ``Iraq Liberation Act of 1998''.

SEC. 2. FINDINGS.

    The Congress makes the following findings:
            (1) On September 22, 1980, Iraq invaded Iran, starting an 
        eight year war in which Iraq employed chemical weapons against 
        Iranian troops and ballistic missiles against Iranian cities.
            (2) In February 1988, Iraq forcibly relocated Kurdish 
        civilians from their home villages in the Anfal campaign, 
        killing an estimated 50,000 to 180,000 Kurds.
            (3) On March 16, 1988, Iraq used chemical weapons against 
        Iraqi Kurdish civilian opponents in the town of Halabja, 
        killing an estimated 5,000 Kurds and causing numerous birth 
        defects that affect the town today.
            (4) On August 2, 1990, Iraq invaded and began a seven month 
        occupation of Kuwait, killing and committing numerous abuses 
        against Kuwaiti civilians, and setting Kuwait's oil wells 
        ablaze upon retreat.
            (5) Hostilities in Operation Desert Storm ended on February 
        28, 1991, and Iraq subsequently accepted the ceasefire 
        conditions specified in United Nations Security Council 
        Resolution 687 (April 3, 1991) requiring Iraq, among other 
        things, to disclose fully and permit the dismantlement of its 
        weapons of mass destruction programs and submit to long-term 
        monitoring and verification of such dismantlement.
            (6) In April 1993, Iraq orchestrated a failed plot to 
        assassinate former President George Bush during his April 14-
        16, 1993, visit to Kuwait.
            (7) In October 1994, Iraq moved 80,000 troops to areas near 
        the border with Kuwait, posing an imminent threat of a renewed 
        invasion of or attack against Kuwait.
            (8) On August 31, 1996, Iraq suppressed many of its 
        opponents by helping one Kurdish faction capture Irbil, the 
        seat of the Kurdish regional government.
            (9) Since March 1996, Iraq has systematically sought to 
        deny weapons inspectors from the United Nations Special 
        Commission on Iraq (UNSCOM) access to key facilities and 
        documents, has on several occasions endangered the safe 
        operation of UNSCOM helicopters transporting UNSCOM personnel 
        in Iraq, and has persisted in a pattern of deception and 
        concealment regarding the history of its weapons of mass 
        destruction programs.
            (10) On August 5, 1998, Iraq ceased all cooperation with 
        UNSCOM, and subsequently threatened to end long-term monitoring 
        activities by the International Atomic Energy Agency and 
        UNSCOM.
            (11) On August 14, 1998, President Clinton signed Public 
        Law 105-235, which declared that ``the Government of Iraq is in 
        material and unacceptable breach of its international 
        obligations'' and urged the President ``to take appropriate 
        action, in accordance with the Constitution and relevant laws 
        of the United States, to bring Iraq into compliance with its 
        international obligations.''.

SEC. 3. POLICY OF THE UNITED STATES.

    It should be the policy of the United States to seek to remove the 
regime headed by Saddam Hussein from power in Iraq and to promote the 
emergence of a democratic government to replace that regime.

SEC. 4. ASSISTANCE TO SUPPORT A TRANSITION TO DEMOCRACY IN IRAQ.

    (a) Authority To Provide Assistance.--The President may provide to 
the Iraqi democratic opposition organizations designated in accordance 
with section 5 the following assistance:
            (1) Broadcasting.--(A) Grant assistance to such 
        organizations for radio and television broadcasting by such 
        organizations to Iraq.
            (B) There is authorized to be appropriated to the United 
        States Information Agency $2,000,000 for fiscal year 1999 to 
        carry out this paragraph.
            (2) Military assistance.--(A) The President is authorized 
        to direct the drawdown of defense articles from the stocks of 
        the Department of Defense, defense services of the Department 
        of Defense, and military education and training for such 
        organizations.
            (B) The aggregate value (as defined in section 644(m) of 
        the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961) of assistance provided 
        under this paragraph may not exceed $97,000,000.
    (b) Humanitarian Assistance.--The Congress urges the President to 
use existing authorities under the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 to 
provide humanitarian assistance to individuals living in areas of Iraq 
controlled by organizations designated in accordance with section 5, 
with emphasis on addressing the needs of individuals who have fled to 
such areas from areas under the control of the Saddam Hussein regime.
    (c) Restriction on Assistance.--No assistance under this section 
shall be provided to any group within an organization designated in 
accordance with section 5 which group is, at the time the assistance is 
to be provided, engaged in military cooperation with the Saddam Hussein 
regime.
    (d) Notification Requirement.--The President shall notify the 
congressional committees specified in section 634A of the Foreign 
Assistance Act of 1961 at least 15 days in advance of each obligation 
of assistance under this section in accordance with the procedures 
applicable to reprogramming notifications under such section 634A.
    (e) Reimbursement Relating to Military Assistance.--
            (1) In general.--Defense articles, defense services, and 
        military education and training provided under subsection 
        (a)(2) shall be made available without reimbursement to the 
        Department of Defense except to the extent that funds are 
        appropriated pursuant to paragraph (2).
            (2) Authorization of appropriations.--There are authorized 
        to be appropriated to the President for each of the fiscal 
        years 1998 and 1999 such sums as may be necessary to reimburse 
        the applicable appropriation, fund, or account for the value 
        (as defined in section 644(m) of the Foreign Assistance Act if 
        1961) of defense articles, defense services, or military 
        education and training provided under subsection (a)(2).
    (f) Availability of Funds.--(1) Amounts authorized to be 
appropriated under this section are authorized to remain available 
until expended.
    (2) Amounts authorized to be appropriated under this section are in 
addition to amounts otherwise available for the purposes described in 
this section.

SEC. 5. DESIGNATION OF IRAQI DEMOCRATIC OPPOSITION ORGANIZATION.

    (a) Initial Designation.--Not later than 90 days after the date of 
enactment of this Act, the President shall designate one or more Iraqi 
democratic opposition organizations that satisfy the criteria set forth 
in subsection (c) as eligible to receive assistance under section 4.
    (b) Designation of Additional Groups.--At any time subsequent to 
the initial designation pursuant to subsection (a), the President may 
designate one or more additional Iraqi democratic opposition 
organizations that satisfy the criteria set forth in subsection (c) as 
eligible to receive assistance under section 4.
    (c) Criteria for Designation.--In designating an organization 
pursuant to this section, the President shall consider only 
organizations that--
            (1) include a broad spectrum of Iraqi individuals and 
        groups opposed to the Saddam Hussein regime; and
            (2) are committed to democratic values, to respect for 
        human rights, to peaceful relations with Iraq's neighbors, to 
        maintaining Iraq's territorial integrity, and to fostering 
        cooperation among democratic opponents of the Saddam Hussein 
        regime.
    (d) Notification Requirement.--At least 15 days in advance of 
designating an Iraqi democratic opposition organization pursuant to 
this section, the President shall notify the congressional committees 
specified in section 634A of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 of his 
proposed designation in accordance with the procedures applicable to 
reprogramming notifications under such section 634A.

SEC. 6. WAR CRIMES TRIBUNAL FOR IRAQ.

    Consistent with section 301 of the Foreign Relations Authorization 
Act, Fiscal Years 1992 and 1993 (Public Law 102-138), House Concurrent 
Resolution 137, 105th Congress (approved by the House of 
Representatives on November 13, 1997), and Senate Concurrent Resolution 
78, 105th Congress (approved by the Senate on March 13, 1998), the 
Congress urges the President to call upon the United Nations to 
establish an international criminal tribunal for the purpose of 
indicting, prosecuting, and imprisoning Saddam Hussein and other Iraqi 
officials who are responsible for crimes against humanity, genocide, 
and other criminal violations of international law.

SEC. 7. ASSISTANCE FOR IRAQ UPON REPLACEMENT OF SADDAM HUSSEIN REGIME.

    It is the sense of Congress that, once Saddam Hussein is removed 
from power in Iraq, the United States should support Iraq's transition 
to democracy by providing immediate and substantial humanitarian 
assistance to the Iraqi people, by providing democracy transition 
assistance to Iraqi parties and movements with democratic goals, and by 
convening Iraq's foreign creditors to develop a multilateral response 
to Iraq's foreign debt incurred by Saddam Hussein's regime.
                                 


"Under no circumstance does this permit military action against Iraq"?

No, it's not in the resolution.

Well there was other action in the Senate, on Iraq, in 1998.

Maybe it was in another Iraq resolution?

It wasn't in this one.  Or this one.  Or this one. Or this one.


Now maybe Fritz isn't lying.

Maybe his mind is gone?

Or maybe in real time Trent Lott put one over on him and tricked him into believing the phrase was in a bill on Iraq in 1998 when it wasn't?


Again, find me a politician with a national profile who's not lying about Iraq.  Other than Mike Gravel, you really can't.


They lie.

US President Barack Obama's in the news cycle for his interview with The Atlantic where he declares of Iraq, "I don't think we're losing."

Does he understand the concept of losing?

He does.  He's still enraged, for example, that Bobby Rush kicked his ass in 2002.

So he lies.

And what's especially sad is he went on and on while campaigning for president (the first time) about how the answer wasn't to play "kick the can."  He was, he insisted, someone who took action and made decisions.

But his Iraq action is nothing but kick the can.

Every day, you can picture him praying, "Just semi-hold together until January 2017, just semi-hold together until January 2017."

The whole point of his (minimum) three year action on Iraq that he started in mid 2014 was that he wouldn't be the one left holding the bag at the end.

So he grits his teeth and lies, "I don't think we're losing."

Jason Ditz (Antiwar.com) reminds, "Obama began the ISIS war after the fall of the city of Mosul to ISIS, and expanded the war to Syria in September. Since then, ISIS has increased its territory in Iraq, including taking virtually the whole of the Anbar Province, Iraq’s largest. They also hold over 50% of Syrian territory now."  AFP adds, "Even with sustained US airpower, many observers are skeptical the Iraqi army can win the war against the well trained and highly motivated Islamic State group."

Syndicated Washington Post columnist Eugene Robinson doesn't see 'victory' or even 'not losing' in Iraq.  He notes:

The simple truth is that if Iraqis will not join together to fight for a united and peaceful country, there will be continuing conflict and chaos that potentially threaten American interests.
We should be debating how best to contain and minimize the threat. Further escalating the U.S. military role, I would argue, will almost surely lead to a quagmire that makes us no more secure. If the choice is go big or go home, we should pick the latter.


I'm glad Robinson's covering Iraq and I think a solid argument is made in his column.

But since Barack declared last June that the only answer for Iraq was a "political solution," maybe that should be factored in?

Specifically, the US government's refusal to aid the Iraqi government in working towards this or to use Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi's need for aid or weapons by demanding concessions from him to move the political process along.

We focus here on the mistreatment of the Sunnis very often because -- under Haider and Nouri al-Maliki before -- the Sunnis have been targeted with violence.  But let's not pretend that life's wonderful in Iraq for a Shi'ite civilian who doesn't hold office.

Robinson's correct that the Iraqi military collapses over and over.

But might that be due on some level to the fact that there's nothing in Iraq for the Iraqi people.

Billions of dollars flood in via oil sales but potable water remains a dream in Iraq.

You can't get out of the faucet.

You can boil your water on the stove before drinking it -- as many Iraqis do.

Where is the improvement in their lives?

Where is any indication that the government intends to serve them?

It's a government of exiles, hidden behind the walls of the Green Zone.

Who wants to risk, let alone give, their life for something like that?

Margaret Griffis (Antiwar.com) counts 69 violent deaths across Iraq today.


Ramadi has fallen to the Islamic State but, not to worry, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi declares they have Ramadi surrounded and will soon retake it.

Of course, he made that statement not from Ramadi or even Baghdad.

But from Russia.

Alsumaria reports he also declared that some foreign powers called on him not to go to Russia.


Who could he be speaking of?

It's highly doubtful Iran has any problem with his visit to Russia.

What country might have the biggest problem?

Who could that be?

Right, the United States government.

Did they?

And did they encourage him to not to go to Russia?

No one knows based on the public record but Haider clearly wants to stand on the national stage and imply.

This right after he's gotten US President Barack Obama to hastily deliver missiles.  BBC News reports, "The US military says it is sending 1,000 anti-tank missiles to the Iraqi government following the fall of Ramadi to Islamic State (IS) forces."  Missiles, which, no doubt, the Iraqi military and militias will leave on the ground of a contested city as they rush to flee (based on past performance).

So off he goes to Russia and insults the US.

No doubt, he'll rush to clarify that he was speaking of a super power, but not the US.  He meant this other super power, one that no one's ever heard of and that he can't, of course, name.

Should he be in Russia today?

Maybe.

In the Iraqi press for the last three weeks, one report after another has featured one Iraqi official after another insisting that Iraq needed to secure an alternative country for weapon supply.

So you could argue that this visit was needed.

But even if you argued that, it's still difficult to argue that Haider himself should be out of the country glad handing when the still-not-on-the-run Islamic State is seizing more areas.


Of course the visit wasn't just about weapons, it was also about oil.  Alsumaria notes that, while in Moscow, Haider met with the heads of Soyuz Group Oil and Gas, LUKoil and Gazprom.


Meanwhile, Iraqi Spring MC notes that the Iraqi Center for Documentation of War Crimes is stating they will file an appeal with United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon over the actions of the militias and Baghdad's SWAT forces as well as the indiscriminate shelling which has injured and killed thousands of Iraqis.


The bombing of Falluja's residential neighborhoods carried out by the Iraqi government and now having existed for 16 continuous months -- leaving many civilians wounded or dead.

September 13, 2014.  That's the day Haider stood before the press and proclaimed that these bombings (which are War Crimes) were over.  No more.  He had stopped them.

September 14, 2014.  That's the day the bombings continued.

And still continue.

And Haider's off in Russia when he needs to be seeing that his (empty) promises are kept.

More weapons -- from the US and from Russia -- are not the answer to the political crises in Iraq.





 

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Oh, Toni

Bruce A. Dixon (Black Agenda Report) notes of Toni Morrison:

When great artists like Toni heap effusive praise upon politicians for meager and misleading promises, and policies that fail even to live up to these, they're not speaking courageous truth to power. They're just sucking up to their influential friends.


That is accurate and it is true of so many.

I used to think, "They just must be stupid."  Now I realize they're not stupid, they're just whores.

Toni Morrison chief among them.


"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):

Wednesday, May 20, 2015.  Chaos and violence continue, the WMD issue or 'issue' continues to obscure larger points on the Iraq War, Baghdad again refuses refugees, the Pentagon continues to maintain all is well and much more.



In yesterday's snapshot, we noted how, excepting former US Senator Mike Gravel, no US politician with a national presence tells the truth about Iraq.

They all tend to repeat the comforting lies about how the US 'helped' Iraq and how a 'gift' was given (at gun point) and it's always noble and wonderful -- on the side of the 'giver.'  Very little attention is ever given to those that the 'gift' was imposed upon.

Damon Linker, non-politician, attempts to grapple, all these years later, with whether or not Bully Boy Bush and others lied about believing former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein was sitting on Weapons of Mass Destruction.  At The Week, Linker notes this belief (or stated 'belief') was held by many Democrats in the five or so years leading up to the Iraq War:

I read or listened in real time to most of the statements quoted in this useful Larry Elder column from 2006. Bill Clinton in 1998 and 2003; Clinton Secretary of State Madeleine Albright in February 1998; Clinton National Security Advisor Sandy Berger in 1998; Rep. Nancy Pelosi in 1998; General Wesley Clark in 2002; Sen. John Rockefeller in 2002; French President Jacques Chirac in 2003 — all of them, and many more, expressed the overwhelming consensus of the Washington elite of both parties that Saddam Hussein was hiding WMD and that this made him a serious threat both to our allies in the region and the United States itself.



And Linker concludes:


Twelve years later, rather than doing the hard work of figuring out why so many Democrats (including the party's presumptive presidential nominee in 2016) made the unwise decision to support the invasion, liberals have decided to go easy on themselves by treating the Bush administration not as foolish but as sinister, conniving, evil. What a relief it must be to exonerate oneself from complicity in a catastrophic mistake by portraying oneself as an innocent victim of a diabolical plot.


It's an interesting column, one worth reading and I applaud the effort.

I started speaking out against the Iraq War publicly in February 2003 (one month before the war started).

To me, today's discussion is b.s.

Whether it's a little government monkey like Mike Morrell making statements that no one should believe or the continued other nonsense, it doesn't really matter.

I didn't base my objection on WMD being present or not being present.

Apparently, there are a lot of idiots or, in fairness, a lot of people who were silent when it mattered that now want to pretend they were brave.

Brave would never having been declaring that the Iraq War had to be fought or not fought based on WMDs.

WMDs couldn't be proven or disproven short of the United Nations weapons inspectors being allowed to do their job.  (Bully Boy Bush did not allow them to do their job.)

I am never gong to build an argument around something I can't prove or disprove.

I don't know anyone in the early days against the war who was going around saying, "Saddam doesn't have WMDs!"  I'm sure some people some where did that.  But those of us that were speaking out -- especially on the college lecture circuit -- were not making that claim.

And I really find it dishonest that these Democratic partsians are today trying to pretend that WMD was the issue.

WMD was the side show.

I spoke out against the illegal war because it was illegal.

Just War theory didn't spring up in the last five days of 2002.

Its roots go back to Saint Augustine and Thomas of Aquin -- and even pre-date that if you pull in The Mahabharata.  Centuries of legal theory, centuries of ethical exploration resulted in the Just War theory.

Bully Boy Bush was trashing that.

There is no go-it-alone justification unless you are attacked.

The US was not attacked by Iraq.


There was no legal justification to go to war with Iraq.  There was no ethical justification.

What Bully Boy Bush did was upend the law, upend tradition and insist that there was a new justification for war:  You could now legally go to war with a country because you suspected that at some point in the near or distant future they might decide to attack you.

There was no imminent threat nor was the US responding to an attack that had taken place.

The Iraq War was a war of choice.

The choice being made -- not by the people of America, not by the people of Iraq -- was going to have long lasting implications.  For Iraq, the most immediate implication would be the tragedy of lives lost both during combat and in the immediate years following.  For the US, it would mean our government was not just embracing its inner thug, it was now fondling its inner thug in public.

There would be no more efforts to pretend -- and there haven't been.

Libya?

We bombed it.

I beliee Hillary Clinton's argument is: We did it because we could.

There is no more pretense that the US government follows the law.

It just acts as a big bully doing whatever it wants.

Now the uni-polar system doesn't last for long.

In part, that's due to the fact that bullies breed hostility.

Whether a multi-polar system will come into being or a bi-polar system will return (Russia versus the US again?), something will take its place.

But WMD is nonsense and b.s.

And not noting how certain Republicans and Democrats felt that the uni-polar system meant the US could (and should) do whatever it wants?

I'm really not into stupidity.

I feel like I'm watching five-year-olds trying to explain rain.

Only with five-year-olds, they're cute.

There's nothing cute about adults basing arguments 12 years after the start of the Iraq War on whether or not it was known that Iraq had WMD before the Iraq War started.

When the US government was moving towards going to war on Iraq and doing so without even the cover of a United Nations authorization, when they were doing it with no attack from Iraq and no imminent attack, they were upending the rules of engagement and destroying the traditions that engagement were based upon.

Generally, when rulers act as the US government did in 2003, they're not seen well in history.  Nazi Germany didn't feel the need to follow international law, didn't feel the need to embrace Just War theory.

The actions were criminal.

And when one country does it, you can't then scream that others can't.

So when the US government was giving up even the public pretense of Just War, it had a huge effect.

In 2003, I would say, if asked, that I didn't believe the case had been made that Iraq had WMD.  But, I'd add, that was my belief and I didn't know for a fact.

I did build my opposition to the Iraq War on WMD.

And to go even further, I honestly believed -- belief, not fact -- that after the war started, if Iraq didn't have WMD then Bully Boy Bush would plant them in Iraq.

So I stayed away from that topic.  It was a non-issue because I couldn't say one way or another whether Iraq did or did not have WMD.

If you're interested in this topic for whatever reason, the only thing of value I think you'll find to back up your case that Bully Boy Bush and others were lying?

On the eve of the war, then-US Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison (a Republican) wrote a column insisting that US troops needed better suits and protection when they went into Iraq.  What was she talking about?

The WMDs that they were going to be greeted with.

And she was actually right.

Think about it.  Bully Boy Bush is arguing Iraq has chemical weapons and WMDs and needs to be taken out for that reason.

But Bully Boy Bush wasn't arming, equipping and outfitting US troops sent into Iraq to face that.

I would assume that the senator was honestly concerned and had bought the notion that Iraq had WMD -- the notion Bully Boy Bush repeatedly sold.

But if Bully Boy Bush believed it, why wasn't he ensuring the protection of the troops?

There are two possible answers: He didn't give a damn about US troops or he knew there were no WMDs.  He should be presented with those two options by the press and asked to explain which it was?  I don't find either answer as a 'win' for him -- and I doubt history will either.

So if the WMD debate is what you're focused on, trying to pursuing that angle.

But wars have been justified on lies throughout history -- not just Gulf on Tonkin.

No one else has been so eager to publicly destroy the agreed upon structure and rules as Bully Boy Bush.

And this is because of the collapse of the Soviet Union which led the neocons (and some neoliberals as well) to begin arguing in the late 90s -- in one academic article after another -- that the world was a uni-polar system now with the US in charge and the US needed to seize that moment to leave its imprint.  International politics on the college level suddenly had introductory books and collections and readers where these arguments were being made.  And on the college level back then, you would have pushback from many sides -- including conservatives -- because these claims were pie-in-the-sky and unrealistic.  But the die hards stuck to them and, with Bully Boy Bush administration and the aftermath of 9-11, they were able to present their ridiculous claims (on world order, on war, etc) as part of a 'new world,' a post-9/11 world and, with fear overrunning the country, they got what they wanted.

I spoke out because there were serious implications here, long lasting ones.  Again, a friend had booked a college campus tour and then she had a larger tour offered where she could reach more people.  (Neither she nor I made any money off of this, we were donating our time.  To this day, I have never made  a penny off the illegal war and never want to do so.)  With the bigger tour and the chance to reach more people (and hopefully use that to stop the impending war), she needed to take that tour.  But she couldn't just leave the earlier one unfilled.  So I told her I'd grab the dates she'd already agreed to on the smaller tour.  And that's what I did.

But it never ended for me.  I'm still speaking out against the (still) ongoing Iraq War.

And I want my life back.  I don't want to be online with 'new content' every damn day as has happened since this site started.  I don't want to spend every year -- my final years? -- talking about Iraq.

And I'm aware those are selfish comments and that's why I haven't stopped yet.

How lucky am I, an American citizen in the US, to be able to stop thinking about Iraq.

Iraqis -- both in Iraq and those who've been forced to flee -- don't have that luxury.

They will never be able to stop thinking about what has happened to their country.

The only ones today who can stop thinking, the only Iraqis who can?

Those are the ones who've been killed in this illegal war.

So I will whine -- I'll will drive my BMW loudly through the public square (Bitch Moan and Whine) -- but I will continue to try give time to this topic for a little while longer.

Even so,  I don't have the patience or the spirit to indulge liars or partisans hacks who want to distort the history, the reality of the illegal war.


I've seen and done things I want to forget
I've seen soldiers fall like lumps of meat
Blown and shot out beyond belief
Arms and legs were in the trees 
I've seen and done things I want to forget
coming from an unearthly place
Longing to see a woman's face
Instead of the words that gather pace
The words that maketh murder
-- "The Words That Maketh Murder," written by PJ Harvey, first appears on her album Let England Shake



The politicians lie.  Barack included. The Iraq War is an illegal war.  US troops were misused and treated disgracefully (both in being sent over there and in the way they were treated by the US government after -- and, by the way, where's the parade?  I though Barack's excuse was that troops were still in Afghanistan but in 2012 there would be a parade.  Where's that parade?).

I do not attack any service member who was deployed to Iraq.  They did what they were trained to do and what they were ordered to.  They are not the criminals.  In some cases, they are heroes -- yes, an illegal war can have heroes.  Abby Martin's made a spectacle of herself with her idiotic and tasteless t-shirt ("F**k Chris Kyle").  She has nothing to contribute to the conversation.  She's spoiled little girl throwing a tantrum and being indulged by some.


The Iraqi people were victimized by an out of control US government (also by a British government and an Australian one).  Easily a million have been killed in the Iraq War.  And as we've repeatedly maintained here, the dead are the lucky ones when you consider the alternative of being injured and living in combat.  A bomb -- market bomb, bomb dropped from a US war plane, whatever -- takes off you leg?   Life was hard for you in Iraq already and now you have to navigate a never-ending combat zone without a leg?

The western press has always treated the injured as a class better off.  By contrast, the Iraqi press has always tended to lump the totals together.

Along with the immediate victims, the use of various illegal chemicals -- by the US government -- means that birth defects have skyrocketed in Iraq and that these birth defects are not a transitional element of the Iraq War but one of its longest lasting effects -- one that will be felt for decades.


These are the truths and they are the truths that are avoided as politicians rush to dress their War Crimes up in nobility rags.


The never-ending Iraq War has gone on for so long that so many western journalists have now covered it for multiple outlets -- Leila Fadel, Sam Dagher, Dexter Filkins, Ned Parker, Liz Sly, Alice Fordham, Missy Ryan, etc.  Nancy A. Youssef covered Iraq for Knight Ridder Newspapers and then for McClatchy Newspapers and now for The Daily Beast.  She Tweets today:






  • Overheard at the Pentagon: "We've been exaggerating the strength of the Iraqi Army since the '80s. What else is new?"






  • Aaron Mehta (Defense News) reports Pentagon spokespersons are insisting there will be no change in "stragegy" (there's no strategy, only tactics) with Col Pat Ryder boasting/insisting, "I think our record speaks for itself."

    It does.

    But it's not saying anything to boast about.  Joshua Keating (Slate) observes:

    U.S. commanders have been describing ISIS as having “peaked” or being “on defense” in statement after statement since the fall of 2014—but a lot of anti-ISIS progress has been ambiguous at best. After Ramadi, reading Vice President Biden’s confident early-April proclamation that “ISIL’s momentum in Iraq has halted and in many places has been flat-out reversed,” it’s hard not to be reminded of his predecessor assuring the country that the Iraqi insurgency was in its “last throes” in 2005.


    Hassan Hassan (Foreign Policy) reminds, "The Islamic State’s recent advance did not take the world by surprise, as it did when the group captured Mosul and other areas across Iraq last year. This time, the United States said it conducted seven airstrikes in Ramadi, in an effort to prevent its fall, in the 24 hours before the city was lost. Local officials in Ramadi, meanwhile, had repeatedly warned that the city would be overrun if they did not receive urgent reinforcements. But the international and Iraqi support that arrived was simply insufficient to hold the city."  Hugh Naylor (Washington Post) points out, "The fall of Ramadi amounts to more than the loss of a major city in Iraq’s largest province, analysts say. It could undermine Sunni support for Iraq’s broader effort to drive back the Islamic State, vastly complicating the war effort."



    This is a point that Shadi Hamid makes clear in a Tweet:



  • Iraq's circular loop --> The more ISIS gains, the more Iraq needs militias. The more Iraq uses militias, the more Sunni support ISIS gets.




  • The fall of Ramadi has added to Iraq's already existing refugee crisis.










  • Refugees were totally expected.

    Are we really supposed to believe that Haider al-Abadi was again -- again -- taken by surprise?


    Because it is also very easy to read this as yet another example of the targeting of the Sunnis.

    When Haider pulled this earlier, there was great outcry from all Iraqis -- including Shi'ites.  It was noted that Baghdad belonged to all and that Haider's actions were discrimination and possibly illegal.

    And yet, weeks later, he's doing it again.


    At today's US State Dept background briefing on Iraq, McClatchy Newspapers' Hannah Allam raised the issue:

    HANNAH ALLAM: Okay. First of all, on the refugee issue, what are you – what are the discussions with Abadi about letting people in? I mean, you’ve got thousands of people stranded, four days, they can’t go back, they get killed, they won’t let them in even with a sponsor now.


    SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: So I understand – again, I’ve been told as of this morning that the bridge has been open for refugees with a sponsor with a place to – what that means is that they need a place to go in Baghdad because you can’t just have a – otherwise, you just have a really chaotic situation which can quickly get out of control. So the bridge has been open to refugees with a sponsor in Baghdad. And the UN, again, who is doing just heroic work, is working to set up facilities for those who are on the other side of the bridge. That’s what’s happening as we speak, so hopefully, I’ll have a little more for you in the next 24 hours or so.



    Allam's report on the briefing can be found here.

    Margaret Griffis (Antiwar.com) counts 151 dead across Iraq in today's violence.







    nancy a. youssef

    antiwar.com




    Wednesday, May 20, 2015

    "Rhiannon"

    For me, the best Fleetwood Mac song ever is "Rhiannon."

    She is like a cat in the dark
    And then she is the darkness

    I love that song.

    Stevie Nicks wrote it and sings it, brings it alive.

    As much as I love the studio version and the live version on the 1979 "Fleetwood Mac Live," I think my favorite version is the one of Stevie singing it while she plays the piano -- it's on the boxed set Enchanted.



    "Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):

    Tuesday, May 20, 2015.  Chaos and violence continue, the liars never stop lying about Iraq or treating it as a political football, Hillary still can't talk about her grave error (fobbed off as a "mistake" in today's comments), the White House appears to flip flop on the arming of Sunnis, and much more.



    We're going to start with a  quick round of Name That Republican! 


    December 1, 2009, US President Barack Obama declared "we are bringing the Iraq War to a responsible end."

    Name the Republican, desperate for glory, who quickly added:

    That we are doing so is a testament to the character of the men and women in uniform.  Thanks to their courage, grit and perseverance, we have given Iraqis a chance to shape their future, and we are successfully leaving Iraq to its people. 


    The US gave Iraq something, did they?

    Those damn Republicans always so full of themselves, seeing tragedy and crimes as a gift.  Shame on them, may they rot in --

    Huh?

    Oh, that was Barack.


    Yeah, Barack's repeatedly lied about the Iraq War.


    Most infamously he lied in his March 26, 2014 speech -- so much lying we needed the March 26, 2014 snapshot and the March 27, 2014 snapshot to cover it.


    You can use those links for our comments but let's note reaction from others to that hideous speech.



    William Rivers Pitt (Truthout) declared:

    Truthout does not forget. We were at the forefront of the struggle against that disastrous war, and we will not stand idly by as an alleged "good guy" slaps a coat of paint over it to cover up the blood on the walls. President Obama sounds for all the world like a used car salesman trying to peddle a lemon, and that will not happen on our watch. 




    DS Wright (Firedoglake) noted:

    Yesterday President Barack Obama tried to claim that the United States government’s actions in the 2003 Iraq War were legal and different than Russia’s actions in Crimea because the US had “sought to work within the international system.” Apparently merely seeking to work within the international system is some kind of get out of jail free card. If one follows Obama’s logic then Russia need only to have “sought” a doomed UN resolution justifying the annexation of Crimea before doing so, this would have made their actions legitimate under Obama’s standard.



     The Voice of Russia offered:

    Matt Howard and Ross Caputi, members of the Iraq Veterans Against the War, spoke with Common Dreams by phone and said that the president's narrative on the events that led up to the Iraq invasion, inside or outside the context of Ukraine, was simply "not grounded in reality." "We went from one lie, which was weapons of mass destruction, to another lie which was liberation and freedom," said Howard. "This idea that Iraq is somehow better off or that the US waged a so-called 'Good War' is ridiculous."



    Grasp the above.  And there are two points here.

    The first, a lot of people -- usually stupid people -- but some are also whores -- are glomming onto remarks by candidates for the GOP's presidential nomination to insist that this person or that person isn't fit to serve.

    Now Jeb Bush brings his own problems on himself.

    No one forced him to pick one position and then, after the press kicks him around the room for a day or two, rush to pick another position.

    That's something worthy of comment -- it's probably killed his career, in fact.

    But this nonsense of jumping on remarks?

    Okay, let's do that.

    But let's do that honestly.

    In which case, there's Mike Gravel and who else?

    Who besides former US Senator Mike Gravel has told the truth about Iraq?  The whole truth, not the half truth?  What politician?

    Not Ralph Nader.

    Ralph Nader's made himself useless and needs to find a rocking chair in an old folk's home.  Bernie Sanders?  Bernie's lied for years.  Yes, he voted against the war in 2002 but he never did join the Out of Iraq Caucus while he as in the House and he never really did anything to stop the illegal war after it started.

    US House Rep John Conyers had no power and had to hold hearings in a basement room -- but he held hearings there.  What did Bernie Sanders ever do?

    The same media that's all over this GOP politician or that?

    They mocked John Conyers for holding hearings.  They mocked him, they laughed at him, they ridiculed him.

    So I'm not really in the mood to get behind them today even though I don't particularly care for the people they're targeting.

    I do care about fairness.

    Barack's remarks have been dishonest and disgusting.

    Pretty much every national politician -- of both parties and of Bernie's laughable Democratic Socialist party -- has lied about Iraq.

    Which brings us to part two of this.

    Elderly poindexter Paul Krugman got praised this week when he shouldn't have been.

    In 2008, Paul was for Hillary and against Barack and, back then, he could be honest about Barack.  But we all saw how quickly Paul could whore.  No one whores like an elderly whore locked away in academia.

    In his ridiculous column, Paul declared:

    1) the Iraq War "was worse than a mistake, it was a crime."

    2) the lies were "actually obvious even at the time"


    And I can agree with that.

    I can even agree that there was a campaign of "insinuation" where charges were stated or inferred but there was never any proof provided.

    Insinuation is also my biggest problem with the column.

    Paul claims he stands for truth -- no whore stands except maybe on their head and that's only if the john paying for it is into that.

    But he tells you about Bully Boy Bush and the White House and blah blah blah.

    But that's not the truth, not the full truth.

    It is the "fool truth" and many fools rush to embrace it and amplify it.

    Paul's insinuations all go to the Republicans.

    "Democrat" never pops up nor do any of the Democrats who supported the war -- not the ones who did so with the 2002 vote nor the many votes which followed after.

    Paul's not providing the full truth.

    Frances A. Boyle's not a politician.  Maybe that's why he can provide the full truth?

    But he and Ramsey Clarke, former US Attorney General, can both provide the truth about the craven nature of Democratic politicians and operatives (John Podesta).

    It wasn't just the 2002 vote that so saw many Democrats embrace the Iraq War.

    On the eve of war, John Conyers assembled Democrats in Congress for a presentation on how the war could be stopped by impeaching Bully Boy Bush.

    Boyle and Clarke made that presentation.

    And did so convincingly.

    Then Podesta spoke about how supporting the Iraq War could keep you in office.

    So let's not be Paul Krugman.

    Let's not be dishonest whores.

    Democrats and Republicans supported the illegal war.

    Pretending otherwise allows this garbage to appear:


    I find it maddening people act like there were no opponents to Iraq war; esp weird since 1 of them is sitting in WH



    What a little whore.  It would be funny if so many weren't dead or wounded from the illegal war that Neera thinks she can use to lie with.

    I'm tired of the liars.

    Barack was against the war for about five seconds in 2002 when speaking to less than a dozen people.

    When he was running to become a US Senator -- as we've noted forever  -- Elaine and I were invited to a fundraiser by friends.  It was a big money fundraisers for Barack.  And we went and intended to max out on our donations to his campaign.

    The problem was he opened his mouth.

    During our face time with the antiwar senator, Elaine noted how glad she was to support a candidate who wanted to end the Iraq War.  At which point, Barack insisted to us that the US was now in Iraq so opposition to the war no longer mattered.

    What no longer mattered to us was donating to his campaign.

    Let me be really clear here because there's a lot of confusion.

    I like Jeri Ryan.  She's not a friend. But I do know her and I do like her as a person (and I think she's a solid actress).

    When Barack's dirty tricks embarrassed her, when it put private details into the public sphere so that now even a 10-year-old was forced to learn things about his parents that he never should have -- that no one should have?

    There's no way in hell I would've gone to one of Barack's fundraisers after that.

    My point being, this fundraiser wasn't 2004.

    By late 2003, Barack was already arguing that opposition to the illegal war no longer mattered.

    It doesn't matter to Neera, she's a cheap little liar.

    She's trash.

    If that reality escapes you, ask yourself what she was doing 2007 and 2008?

    She was the policy director for Hillary's presidential campaign -- covering foreign affairs and other issues.  The Iraq War didn't matter much to Neera then, did it?

    No, it did not.

    If you look at her writing 'career' -- or 'writing' career -- you quickly discover Iraq doesn't matter at all.

    In fact, in her one apparent piece (partially) on the Iraq War, December 2005's "Campaigns Are Destiny" for the American Prospect, she complained that Bully Boy Bush had made Iraq "dangerous" -- in fact, "more dangerous."

    The problem?

    "So he has stayed the course in Iraq despite ample evidence that this has made the occupation more dangerous for U.S. soldiers."

    The only smart thing Neera ever did was lose that ridiculous mushroom cap hairdo that made her face look like a shriveled up slug.  But even that wasn't 'brave' and it had nothing to do with Iraq.

    Neera's a cheap, tawdry whore who will use Iraq as a political football despite the fact that she's never called out the illegal war and her only expressed concern ever was about US troops.

    She's never expressed sorrow or regret for the Iraqi people -- those killed, those wounded or those living in the nightmare the US government created.



    Emma Sky is the author of The Unraveling: High Hopes and Missed Opportunities in Iraq.  And Iraq certainly continues to unravel.  We'll again note this from her "Iraq Shows That 'Tactics Without Strategy Is the Noise Before Defeat" (New York Times):


    Politicians try to use the situation in Iraq for political advantage, without much consideration of Iraqis themselves; Democrats blame Republicans for invading Iraq in the first place, and Republicans blame Democrats for not leaving troops there. The U.S. military blames U.S. government civilians for not doing enough; and the latter blames the former for trying to do too much. We need to honestly examine what took place there so that we learn how and when to respond to instability in the world.



    Neera and others think they can use the Iraq War.

    They don't give a damn about the Iraqis.

    They're not arguing for the US to accept more refugees -- or for Barack to honor the promise he made to the late Ted Kennedy on the refugee issue -- they're not interested in any issue pertaining to Iraq.


    But they do want to lie and whore and pretend like the Republicans are the ones who created the illegal war and that the Republicans did so all on their own.


    Neera wants you to see Barack as 'anti Iraq War.'

    But forget the story that Elaine and I've been telling since long before Barack was president.

    If Barack was so against the Iraq War, wouldn't his administration -- now in its seventh year -- have made room for people against the war -- especially in key positions?

    John Kerry voted for the Iraq War (and deserves more laughs than even Jeb Bush due to John's infamous "I was for it before I was against it" statement -- as does John's 2004 statement that he'd vote to authorize the war all over again if given the chance).  He's Secretary of State.

    Hillary had that post and she also voted for the Iraq War.

    Chuck Hagel was Secretary of Defense and he too voted for the Iraq War authorization in 2002.

    Had grabby hands John Edwards not been revealed as human sewage, he would have been in Barack's administration and, yes, he too voted for the 2002 authorization.

    Former army colonel and diplomat Ann Wright resigned from the State Dept in March 2003 over the Iraq War and did so with a public letter.

    Barack didn't appoint Ann to any post.

    He's found several posts for Samantha Power and Susan Rice -- women who supported the Iraq War.


    Barack's not against the Iraq War.

    He wouldn't be continuing it if he were against it.

    He wouldn't have sent troops into Iraq in 2012 after his drawdown in November 2011 if he were against it.

    In September 2012, Tim Arango (New York Times) reported, "Iraq and the United States are negotiating an agreement that could result in the return of small units of American soldiers to Iraq on training missions. At the request of the Iraqi government, according to General Caslen, a unit of Army Special Operations soldiers was recently deployed to Iraq to advise on counterterrorism and help with intelligence."


    That wouldn't have happened if Barack was against the Iraq War.

    No national politician -- other than Mike Gravel -- has told the truth about Iraq.

    They've all lied.

    They all continue to lie.

    They lie for their 'side' and their side is never the Iraqi people.

    Their interest is never in the outcome for the Iraqi people.

    Their 'side' is also never the side of the truth.

    Paul Krugman can fool a few people into believing he wrote a truthful column.

    But it's just a whine -- a one-sided whine at that -- where he's also working an old grudge that has nothing to do with Iraq but everything to do with the New York Times over-ruling him on his use of the term "lie."

    But let's all pretend not to notice that as well.

    We are becoming a deeply stupid people and that's because we're far too eager to embrace comforting lies than to seek out the truth.  And far to eager to hail half-truthers like Paul Krugman as heroes.


    Hillary needs to be asked about Iraq today.  (All the candidates do, but let's focus on her due to her 2002 vote for the Iraq War.)

    She needs to be asked what she learned from her vote.

    She needs to be asked how she would address Iraq today?

    They get that, don't they?  The whores like Paul Krugman who write of violence in Iraq as if it's past issue?  As though Iraqis aren't dying daily?

    If Hillary were a natural campaigner like Bill (she's not, which is why she avoids the press), she wouldn't have to be asked about that vote.


    Adam B. Lerner (POLITICO) notes of her comments today:

    "I made it very clear that I made a mistake, plain and simple. And I have written about it in my book, I have talked about it in the past,” Clinton told reporters at an event in Cedar Falls, Iowa, adding that “what we now see is a very different and very dangerous situation.”
     

    No, it's not a mistake.

    It's a stupid action.

    John Cassidy (New Yorker) rushes to rescue Hillary -- like the liar and idiot that he is.  He also praises Krugman's idiotic and dishonest column while insisting Paul was "one of the few commentators in the mainstream press who expressed skepticism in the run-up to the March 2003 invasion" -- was he?

    I seem to remember Maureen Dowd.  Much more widely read then and now.

    I seem to remember, for example, her March 9, 2003 column entitled "The Xanax Cowboy" -- where, unlike Krugman, she got in "fudged" (he failed at "lie") to apply to Bully Boy Bush -- and she was referring to his lies about Iraq.

    Hillary's  writing about her 2002 vote  -- ghost writing, let's be honest -- in a book is not taking accountability for it in public.

    She failed to do so in 2008 and she's failing to do so today.

    She'd be saying, "Yes, I voted for the war -- what a stupid thing to do and I regret it.  But here's what I would do with regards to Iraq today -- a country I feel an obligation to because of that 2002 vote. . . ."

    Equally true, Jeb and company could be replying to reporters, "Yes, I would vote for the war if it were 2002.  But it's 2015 and let's talk about what we need to do today to help the Iraqi people."  With the exception of Senator Rand Paul, no one's taking a firm stand, on the GOP presidential candidates' side, against the war.

    Rand Paul has taken a stand against the Iraq War and he's also someone who has offered thoughts on what to do today.

    The media doesn't want to 'glom' on that because it doesn't allow them to play the self-righteous card.

    Not all of the media is self-righteous.

    Or useless.

    Trudy Rubin has long covered the Iraq War (she's with the Philadelphia Inquirer and her column is nationally syndicated).  She didn't walk away from the topic when the rest of the media deserted.  I've noted I don't always agree with her but I respect her work and focus.  She surveys Iraq in her latest column and finds fault with Bully Boy Bush's actions and Barack Obama's.  We'll focus on the Barack aspect because (a) he's in the White House now and (b) she's noting the harm of 2010 which so few ever want to mention or acknowledge:


    None of this absolves Obama from responsibility for his role in ISIS' emergence. Most glaring was the strong U.S. support for Maliki after he lost a close election in 2010. U.S. officials should have tried harder to help the winner, Iyad Allawi, form a government. As a secular Shiite, Allawi was far more skeptical of Iran and he might have allayed the Sunni resentments that helped fuel ISIS. I also believe Obama should have pushed much harder to keep a small U.S. troop presence in Iraq.

    But to blame the rise of ISIS only on Obama requires a blatant rewriting of recent history. The seeds of ISIS were planted when Bush's policies empowered Shiite religious parties and militias. Bush opened the door to massive Iranian influence in Iraq as the ayatollahs rushed to support fellow Shiites, which scared some Sunnis into supporting the jihadis.


    Margaret Griffis (Antiwar.com) counts 61 violent deaths across Iraq today.



    Meanwhile, Dexter Filkins has a long piece at The New Yorker on the fall of Ramadi:






    When Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi visited the White House last month, American officials were so encouraged by the progress that they bestowed another two hundred million dollars or so on the Iraqi government. (The U.S. has spent about $1.9 billion on military operations and hardware in Iraq and Syria in the most recent operations.)
    What happened in Ramadi over the weekend revealed just how misplaced any optimism about Iraq really is. The town, dominated by members of Iraq’s Sunni minority, was largely being held by the Iraqi Army, which has proved to be a deeply fractured and incompetent institution. Last June, when ISIS first swept out of Syria and into northern Iraq, large parts of the Iraqi Army largely disintegrated. Since then, the focus of American efforts has been to rebuild the Army and turn it into an effective fighting force. Even by American assessments, this is a long-term project. The disaster in Ramadi proved just how difficult the challenge is.


    And then there is the loss of Ramadi itself. Without it, most of Anbar’s populated areas are now in ISIS’s hands. (Fallujah has been under ISIS control since last year.) The big airbase at Al Assad, which was the center for much of the Iraqi Army’s (and American) operations, is now cut off in the desert. “The fall of Ramadi is a game-changer,” Jessica Lewis McFate, the head of research at the Institute for the Study of War, which released a detailed report on the war just before Ramadi’s fall, said. “Whatever confidence remained the Iraqi security forces is likely to collapse.”




    In the aftermath of the Islamic State seizing Ramadi, AFP reports:


    US President Barack Obama is considering faster training and more arms supplies for Iraqi tribes, while eying a rapid counteroffensive to retake Ramadi from the Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (ISIL), a US official has said.



    Wait.

    I'm confused.

    Isn't that what the Defense Authorization Act the House proposed (and passed) argued for and didn't the White House publicly condemn it?  Didn't Vice President Joe Biden personally call Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi to assure him the bill didn't have the White House's support and that it would not pass?

    Well Joe's a liar on two counts.  It did pass the House last week.

    And turns out it does have the White House support.



















    the new york times



    antiwar.com

    Tuesday, May 19, 2015

    Will arrogance take her down?

    Isaiah's latest The World Today Just Nuts "Hair Crimes" went up last night.

    hair crimes



    On the topic of Hillary, Joe Battenfeld (Boston Herald) notes:


    Clinton’s lack of press conferences and infrequent appearances have become a joke. Even Democrats are starting to question her above-it-all attitude, even though her campaign acts like they know best.
    “She’s enjoyed engaging in hours of public question-and-answer sessions,” Clinton spokesman Harrell Kirstein said.
    Actually, Clinton has made only three campaign trips since announcing and those “question-and-answer” sessions have been extremely friendly. She’s answered only a handful of questions from the media. No interviews.
    More from Kirstein: “As the campaign progresses, (she) looks forward to more engagement with voters and press as she has done throughout her years in New Hampshire.”
    In other words, I’ll get to your questions when I’m good and ready.


    Will Hillary's arrogance take her down?

    If so, will that happen before or after she reaches the White House?




    "Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):

    Monday, May 18, 2015.  Chaos and violence continue, Ramadi falls, the US government spins, Shi'ite militias are sent in, and much more.



    At the New York Times, Emma Sky contributes "Iraq Shows That 'Tactics Without Strategy Is the Noise Before Defeat" which includes:


    Politicians try to use the situation in Iraq for political advantage, without much consideration of Iraqis themselves; Democrats blame Republicans for invading Iraq in the first place, and Republicans blame Democrats for not leaving troops there. The U.S. military blames U.S. government civilians for not doing enough; and the latter blames the former for trying to do too much. We need to honestly examine what took place there so that we learn how and when to respond to instability in the world.


    Emma Sky is the author of The Unraveling: High Hopes and Missed Opportunities in Iraq.  And Iraq certainly continues to unravel.

    Last June, the Islamic State seized Mosul.

    The Iraqi military fled.

    In some sort of early anniversary celebration,  the Islamic State -- which still controls Mosul -- seized Ramadi over the weekend.


    Oh, and  the Iraqi military fled.

    Hamdi Alkhshali and Catherine E. Shoichet (CNN) reported, "The key Iraqi city of Ramadi fell to ISIS on Sunday after government security forces pulled out of a military base on the west side of the city, the mayor and a high-ranking security official said."  Al Jazeera added, "Iraqi special forces soldiers were reported to be fleeing the city on Sunday as the armed group succeeded in breaching their last holdout."

    This after how many millions (more) US tax dollars have been spent training them?

    Billions?

    In mid-April, Stan noted how, since August, the White House has spent over $2 billion on fighting (with combat, not with diplomacy) the Islamic State.


    You can argue that things stand today exactly where they stood a year ago.

    No improvement at all.

    And you can click here for the Guardian's post of the Iraqi military fleeing Ramadi and the Islamic State.

    This fleeing is disturbing.

    Especially when you grasp that they didn't just flee open spaces in Ramadi.

    Reuters notes, "Earlier, security sources said government forces evacuated a key military base after it came under attack by the insurgents, who had already taken one of the last districts still holding out." They couldn't even hold their own military base.


    Every time they flee, the Islamic State gets a stronger foothold and if the military confronts them -- if! -- it's much harder to do that after they've taken a city.

    If?

    Mosul remains under control a year later.

    What does it really say about the Iraqi military and the Iraqi government that they want to act militarily and talk about doing so but they refuse to do so.

    There is no progress.

    Barack's spent over a billion on Iraq -- between weapons, US forces and 'aid' -- since August and for what?  Where is the progress?

    Despite Barack declaring that the only solution was a "political solution," no real work has been spent on that. Instead it's been empty promises and the focus has been on the military which, as we see again today, continues to falter and fail.

    What's the end game, Barack?

    Is the US going to remain in Iraq forever to prop up the US-installed government?


    Reuters notes, "The Pentagon said on Sunday that Islamic State militants had gained the advantage in fighting in Ramadi and that if the western Iraqi city fell, the U.S.-led coalition would support Iraqi forces 'to take it back later'."


    Elissa Smith is the person being quoted on "to take it back later."

    Someone should ask the Pentagon and the White House what that statement means.

    US forces were already flying overhead and dropping bombs during the failed attempt.

    If you doubt it:


    Eight airstrikes against targets in over recent hours & US support accelerating. spoke w/PM Abadi, readout to follow 2/2
    87 retweets 30 favorites



    Eight, Brett gasped, pulling furiously at his pud, eight!



    So exactly what does it mean when the Pentagon says that US forces will "support Iraqi forces" now?


    Because, short of ground troops in combat, what support is there left?


    Senator John McCain's long been calling for ground troops.  [For those with short term memories or visiting for the first time, I do not see US troops in Iraq as the answer to anything except the question: "How can you make things even worse in Iraq today?"]  McCain's office issued the following today:

    Washington, D.C. ­– U.S. Senators John McCain (R-AZ) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC) released the following statement today on the fall of Ramadi, the capital of Iraq’s Anbar Province, to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL):
    “Today the black flags of ISIL fly over Ramadi, the capital of Iraq’s Anbar Province. Anbar was once a symbol of Iraqis working together with brave young Americans in uniform to defeat Al-Qaeda. Today it appears to be a sad reminder of this Administration’s indecisive air campaign in Iraq and Syria and a broader lack of strategy to achieve its stated objective of degrading and destroying ISIL.
    “Nearly 200 Americans gave their lives fighting in Ramadi, yet the Administration continues to denigrate their sacrifice with statements diminishing the city’s importance. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Martin Dempsey said Ramadi was just ‘brick and mortar.’ Today, Secretary of State John Kerry called Ramadi a mere ‘target of opportunity,’ never mind the countless Iraqis slaughtered in the aftermath of the city’s fall. The fall of Ramadi, despite Administration statements to the contrary, is a significant defeat.
    “Equally disturbing, reports indicate Iranian-backed Shia militias are preparing to launch a counteroffensive in the largely Sunni province. Whatever operational success Shia militias may have in Anbar would be far exceeded by the strategic damage caused by their violent sectarianism and the fear and suspicion it breeds among Iraqi Sunnis. Moreover, the prominent role of these militias continues to feed the perception of a Baghdad government unable or unwilling to protect Sunnis.
    “Shia militants and Iranian meddling will only foster the conditions that gave to ISIL in the first place. Defeating ISIL requires empowering Sunnis who want to rise up and fight ISIL themselves, including by integrating them into Iraq’s security forces and providing more robust American military assistance.”
    ###




    First, Senator Lindsey Graham is running for the Republican's presidential nomination.  Theodore Schleifer (CNN) reports, "If he was elected president, Graham said he would increase the number of boots on the ground from 3,000 to about 10,000 in order to stymie the growing threat posed by the Islamic militant group, ISIS."

    Second, as the press release noted,  the administration is down playing the fall of Ramadi.



    At the US State Dept this afternoon, spokesperson Jeff Rathke was spinning madly.


    QUESTION: Could you give us a review of, I guess, what would be the good, the bad, and the ugly of your fight against the Islamic State this weekend? Specifically on Ramadi, what you’re doing now to reverse this setback, and where you stand with the Iraqi forces on trying to --


    MR RATHKE: Mm-hmm. Okay. Well, the news about Ramadi, of course, got a lot of attention over the weekend. I would point out a couple of things. First, Ramadi has been contested for the last 18 months. ISIL first moved openly into Ramadi on January 1st, 2014, and Iraqi forces and local fighters have fought back against them throughout this period. Starting late last week, ISIL launched a series of suicide vehicle bombs that had a large impact, and this also – and since then we’ve also heard from ISIL’s own comments that the suicide bombers were foreign fighters.
    We’ve always known that the fight would be long and difficult, especially in Anbar province, and so there’s no denying that this is a setback, but there’s also no denying that the United States will help the Iraqis take back Ramadi. As of today, we are supporting the Iraqi Security Forces and the Government of Iraq with precision airstrikes and advice to the Iraqi forces. Our aircraft are in the air searching for ISIL targets, and they will continue to do so until Ramadi is retaken. Since the beginning of May, we’ve conducted 35 airstrikes in Ramadi, and that includes nine over the last 24 hours, and those strikes will continue. My colleagues at the Pentagon will have more details, perhaps, to share about that.
    But we believe that the Iraqi Security Forces have the capacity and the will to retake Ramadi, with coalition support, and as we’ve always said, this fight against ISIL will be difficult and would take time.
    I would – just one larger context point I would say: There’s also no question that overall, since the formation of the international coalition to fight ISIL that ISIL has been driven back in Iraq. It has lost as much as 25 percent of the area that it once controlled. And I would also highlight that on Saturday, thanks to the skill and extraordinary competency of some of our forces, a major ISIL leader who was responsible for its funding mechanism, through the oil sales, was eliminated from the battlefield and significant intelligence gains were achieved. And so while this was an American operation, it was also done in close coordination with our Iraqi partners.

    QUESTION: One --

    QUESTION: Before we get to --


    QUESTION: Can I ask one real simple (inaudible)? You said, “We believe the Iraqi military have the capacity and the will to take back Ramadi.” Why do you believe that?


    MR RATHKE: Well, we’ve been working with Prime Minister Abadi and with the Iraqi Security Forces since the formation of his government, and through our joint operation centers we’ve been intensifying our training and equipping program with the Iraqi Security Forces. We’ve also seen Prime Minister Abadi reach out to the Sunni population of Iraq. We – and in addition, he has worked to build bridges and is working now to – with the Popular Mobilization Forces, to focus on retaking Ramadi. So we think this is – that they are capable of doing that.


    QUESTION: But at the same time, for a --


    QUESTION: One follow-up from me, if I may, and it’s the only one I’ll ask you. You believed that the Iraqi forces were capable of defending Iraq when the United States withdrew all of its forces in December of 2011. You had at that point been involved in training and equipping the Iraqi forces in a massive way, for multiple years, and you were wrong. They didn’t have the will to fight, and they didn’t seem to have the ability to defend their territory – witness ISIL’s rise. Why are you right now that they have the ability and the will – your words – to take back Ramadi when you were wrong in the previous judgment?


    MR RATHKE: Well, I think there’s a very different situation Iraq right now. First of all, if you look at the shared understanding among Iraq’s leadership of the need to fight ISIL, that ISIL is the primary threat, and the focus on that, I think that’s different. Second, you see Prime Minister Abadi reaching out across sectarian lines to all communities in Iraq in ways that we hadn’t seen before. And also you have – I think the experience over the last 18 months has focused Iraqi minds, and especially the Iraqi leadership, on the urgent task of confronting ISIL. I think that’s what we see as different.
    Brad, did you have further --


    QUESTION: Just last week you mentioned that – I asked if Ramadi was a strategic priority, and you said that it was important. Is regaining control of that city now a strategic priority?


    MR RATHKE: Well, as we discussed last week, I think we’ll let the Iraqis define their strategic priorities. Clearly, it is important to retake Ramadi, and we are confident that Ramadi will be retaken. And I would point out that over the weekend, there – in consultation with the leaders in Anbar, with Anbari leaders as well as the tribes there, Prime Minister Abadi has ordered the Popular Mobilization Forces to assist in that fight. This was a unanimous vote, and I think that’s also a clear indication of shared purpose.


    QUESTION: Just – you’ve – what do you assess – why do you assess that they lost? I mean, they have better equipment, they have American equipment; they’ve been getting training now from the U.S. military. Why can’t they hold what is clearly, in your words, an important city?


    MR RATHKE: Well, as I said as well, this is – the city has been contested for some time. I’m not in a position to do a battlefield analysis from here. I think my colleagues in uniform would be better positioned to offer thoughts about the particular circumstances on the ground. As I mentioned, there was a series of large suicide vehicle bomb attacks, which also --


    QUESTION: This isn’t new. This tactic has been used elsewhere. Why haven’t they learned to adapt to these yet?


    MR RATHKE: Well, again, I’m not going to be – I’m not in a position to do an analysis of their operational tactics from here, so – but go ahead.


    QUESTION: Can I just ask one last one?


    MR RATHKE: Yeah.


    QUESTION: You said that the long-term trend shows ISIL is losing ground, and you cited the area – losing 25 percent. I mean, the majority of Iraq is uninhabitable desert, so I don’t quite understand why you think it’s important to gain 25 percent of arid nothingness and lose a city of a million people. How do you square those two as a positive?



    MR RATHKE: I’m not trying to suggest – I’m not trying to downplay the importance of Ramadi. I’m simply pointing out that over the last 12 months, the trend has been for ISIL to be pushed back in Iraq. You see this in Tikrit most recently, and you’ve seen it in other places where the siege – going all the way back into last summer, when there were real fears about whether Baghdad itself might even come under threat. We don’t have those fears now. We don’t see Baghdad as under threat, and we see in a number of places, including in Anbar and other parts of northern Iraq, ISIL being pushed back. It’s not a uniform positive message or a uniform positive picture; there are setbacks like in Ramadi. But we are confident that the Iraqi political leadership and their security forces working with us will be successful.


    Again, he was spinning wildly.

    And, to be clear, the "real fears about whether Baghdad itself might even come under threat"?

    How were those "real fears"?

    In real time, we laughed at the notion here.

    Why would the Islamic State attempt to seize Baghdad?

    How was that ever a "real fear"?

    In retrospect, it appears either the White House and the rest of the administration grossly misjudged the Islamic State's intent or else they were trying to drum up fear to justify all the US troops Barack was sending back into Iraq and Barack's putting the US Air Force back into combat in Iraq.


    Noting the spin -- which included the denial that Ramadi had fallen, Jonathan S. Landay and Hannah Allam (McClatchy Newspapers) point out:


    It wasn’t clear why the administration clung to an upbeat message three days after the Islamic State overran most of Ramadi and a day after Iraq’s best special forces unit fled the city with other troops, local police and tribal fighters. The message was delivered in nearly identical verbiage by White House, State Department and Pentagon spokesmen and was reinforced by a statement from Army Gen. Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
    “ISIL’s gains in Ramadi are a serious setback for its long-suffering inhabitants. It is also a setback for the ISF (Iraqi Security Forces),” said Dempsey. “Setbacks are regrettable but not uncommon in warfare. Much effort will now be required to reclaim the city. We will continue to support Iraq’s security forces with U.S. airstrikes, training and equipment.”

    Read more here: http://www.mcclatchydc.com/2015/05/18/267090/experts-us-claims-ramadi-a-mere.html#storylink=cpy


    At least Gen Martin Dempsey is consistent -- wrong, but consistent.  Back in April, Rebecca noted how  Dempsey declared  that it didn't matter if Ramadi fell.



    Let's leave the sweat drenched fantasies and fears of the administration for something a little more factual.  Jim Muir (BBC News) offers an analysis of the events and he notes:



    The fall of Ramadi is a disaster for the Iraqi army and government, and especially its Prime Minister, Haider al-Abadi.
    After the recapture of another provincial capital, Tikrit, at the end of March, he announced the start of a similar campaign to "liberate" Anbar province (the country's biggest) and flew to Ramadi to kick it off.
    Now Ramadi has gone, and along with it the military command centre for the whole province. A few days before the final collapse on Sunday, Mr Abbadi said he would not allow it to fall.
    It did. 



    Muir's not out on a limb.  Nor is he alone in that assessment.  Zack Beuachamp (Vox) observes, "This has significance beyond even just Ramadi: it shows the fundamental weakness of the Iraqi military and its deep dependence on radical Shia militias. It also shows that the campaign to defeat ISIS in Iraq, even if it still looks likely to succeed in the long run, will be a long, hard slog."


    NINA reports that Hadi al-Amiri is now in Ramadi to lead the militias.  Hadi is a thug, a Shi'ite thug.  He's infamous for many things but his most recent infamy is probably due to his threat, last month, to "mutilate" Americans.  This was his reaction to a bill in the House (which passed Friday, see Saturday's snapshot).  His reaction was to threaten bodily harm to Americans.




    Nour Malas (Wall St. Journal) offers:


    U.S. and some Iraqi officials fear the deployment of Shiite militias, particularly on a battlefield as chaotic as Anbar. The province is already a home to a volatile mix of Sunni tribesmen and other security units.
    American officials also fear that the militias, if not commanded by the government, could inadvertently get caught in U.S.-led airstrikes. And some say their involvement in the fight, after such a desperate government loss, undermines Mr. Abadi’s authority while strengthening the hand of Iran, which has close relationships with some of the Iraqi Shiite militias.


    And the violence continues across Iraq with Margaret Griffis (Antiwar.com) counting at least 55 violent deaths today.











    cnn