Speaking of hell-raising: I managed to raise a few social-media hackles recently when I posted the following: “I honestly don’t understand why people are so depressed about Trump. Policy-wise, he isn’t much different than Obama. Trump is truth in advertising: he is an asshole, our country acts like an asshole. No need for phony smiles, PC rhetoric.”
This led to a discussion comparing Trump not just to Obama, but other American presidents. There were lots of great comments. Still, I was struck by something that few people seem to be aware of — America’s rich history of presidential assholery. Given how wicked smart my readers are, I was surprised to hear some of them refer favorably to Trump’s predecessors.
Trump is a thieving, lying turd. In that respect, he is as presidential as it gets. Going back to Day One, the United States has been led by white males behaving badly.
They are all assholes.
They have the ego, after all.
They are all narcissists.
They get into office and any pretense of humility flies out the window -- as do any ethics. It's what allows them to use drones and make joekes about it.
All of them assholes.
"Iraq snapshot" (THE COMMON ILLS):
Pro-Hashd Triumph Coalition withdraw from alliance with PM list and issue a statement to confirm they “are ready to form an alliance with him post elections” Signed by: Hadi Ameri #Iraq
Now it all begins or continues to
Spiral down, spiral down
Look upon the self
Look upon the other
We need a better understanding
Now we'll spiral down
Continue to spiral down
I'm no where near my peace
As you spiral down
Now it all begins or continues to
I'm no where near my peace
As you spiral down
"Spiral Down," written by Michael Timmins, first appears on The Cowboy Junkies' AT THE END OF PATHS TAKEN
Over the weekend, Hayder al-Abadi built an alliance. As we noted yesterday, it appeared the forming principal was "block Nouri."
But while Hayder may be prime minister now, Nouri al-Maliki has more than a few tricks left.
ASHARQ AL-AWSAT reports that Hayder's Victory alliance has "collapsed overnight" as a result of the militias (PMF) walking out on it. Some are saying they walked, some are saying they were nudged. The PMF are now supposed to return to whose side? Nouri al-Maliki, former prime minister and forever thug. There's even talk that Salim al-Jubouri (Speaker of Parliament and a Sunni) might join Nouri's list. If so, that would make him the Saleh al-Mutlaq of this election.
Remember when we told you how unpopular Saleh was?
And how some 'mused' it wasn't the case?
And three weeks later, Sunni Saleh went to a Sunni protest and he got rocks thrown at him?
Yeah. If Salim joins with Nouri, that will be his fate. His statements beginning on Friday have been causing alarm among the Sunni online community who feel he is not sufficiently supportive of Sunni interests.
And the Sunnis were largely alarmed by Hayder's coalition even without talk of Salim joining.
I'm in Baghdad where there is deep anxiety among Iraqi Sunnis about PM Abadi's decision to join the PMU electoral coalition. They believe his moderate leadership is over, and they fear that genuine Sunni inclusion is over
NIQASH's Mustafa Habib offered these Tweets on the election:
There is common proverb says: "If two Iraqis meet, they will form three parties" hhh
New record in #Iraqi elections, 143 parties & 27 alliances will participate in upcoming elections, source: Iraqi Electoral Commission (1)
There are other problems as well.
This is not a minor issue.
Kirkuk remains a powder keg.
Are you surprised?
As The RAND Corporation observed six years ago in "Resolving Kirkuk:"
Of all the issues that could spark violence between these groups, none is more explosive than the political and legal status of the city of Kirkuk.
Kirkuk is a microcosm of the most significant unresolved issues in post-Saddam Iraq: territorial disputes, division of oil and gas resources, and the power of the regions vis-a-vis Baghdad. Until political, legal and constitutional disputes regarding these issues are settled at the national level, it will be difficult to determine the final status of the city, i.e., whether or not it should be incorporated into the Kurdistan Region.
Kick the can.
Since the 2003 invasion, the issue of Kirkuk has been ignored.
It was supposed to have been resolved, per the Iraqi Constitution, by the end of 2007.
Kirkuk has been repeatedly identified by one think tank and one organization -- over and over -- as a conflict that needs to be resolved.
And over and over, it has been kick the can by one US administration after another.
Joost Hitlermann (at THE ATLANTIC) offered:
On October 16, Iraqi forces and Iran-backed Iraqi Shia militias retook the city of Kirkuk and its surrounding oil fields from the Kurds. It was a relatively bloodless affair, thanks to a deal between Abadi and a faction of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), the KDP’s political rival, which had opposed the [September 25th, non-binding] referendum [on Kurdish independence] and jumped on the chance to turn the tables on Barzani. Soon, these forces had retaken most of what the Iraqi constitution refers to as the disputed territories: a broad swath of land stretching from the Iranian to the Syrian border with Kirkuk at its center, which both Erbil and Baghdad claim. Kurdish peshmerga affiliated with the PUK and KDP either withdrew or fled.
This went down in terrible violence. The Kurds were attacked and the world watched and no one stepped forward.
A non-binding resolution was used an excuse for the attacks and the War Crimes.
In any logical world, this made no sense.
Earlier this month, Patrick Wintour (GUARDIAN) reported:
Foreign Office ministers inadvertently helped neutralise the Iraqi Kurds, one of Britain’s most effective allies in efforts to limit Iranian influence in the Middle East, a former UK and Nato official has claimed.
The claims, which refer to the weeks in September and October 2017 when the Iraqi government moved against Kurdish militia after an independence referendum, are expected to be raised with the Foreign Office minister Alistair Burt at a parliamentary hearing on Tuesday in which the UK government will be asked to justify its assertion that Baghdad has recaptured disputed Kurd-held territory with “limited clashes and loss of life”.
Kurdistan, against overwhelming international advice, held a vote on independence in September that prompted Baghdad to react by forcibly taking back disputed territories outside the Iraqi Kurdish region’s original 2003 borders, including Kirkuk and the surrounding oilfields.
Tom Hardie-Forsyth, a former Cabinet Office and Nato official and now an informal adviser to the Kurdistan regional government, said in written evidence to the foreign affairs select committee that UK ministers possessed detailed intelligence warning of the precise links between Tehran and the Baghdad-backed Shia militia operating in Iraq.
There have been numerous claims of human rights abuses led by these militia, notably by parts of the Hashd al-Shaabi (Has), also known as the Popular Mobilisation Forces, to remove Kurds from Kirkuk.
Baghdad’s tough response has led to turmoil among the Kurdish political leadership, a near breakdown in relations between the Kurdish and Iraqi governments, and a weakening of the UK-trained peshmerga forces that played a key role in driving the Islamic State out of northern Iraq.
No one stepped forward -- not to offer assistance or defense, not to even offer verbal support. The international community watched as Baghdad used collective punishment to destroy a region and a people over . . . a non-binding referendum.
What took place is not minor to the Kurds.
From the video above:
The biggest treason the biggest betrayal ever in the history of Kurdish history was selling Kurdish soil this way. Handing over Kirkuk this way supporting Iraqi forces in this. On top of this, the heroic PUK Peshmerga who defended and gave so much sacrifice also suffered. This resulted into collapsing the whole frontline. Bit by bit, some Peshmerga had to withdraw with command which led to change in the frontline. Every change had its influence on the other. Unfortunately, Peshmerga came into a difficult situation. That's why they couldn't defend Kurdistan the way they should against the Iraq attack.
The following community sites -- plus Jody Watley and BLACK AGENDA REPORT -- updated: