Friday, September 03, 2010

John Pilger versus the whores

"Flying the Flag, Faking the News" (John Pilger, Information Clearing House):

False reality The last US combat troops have left Iraq "as promised, on schedule", according to President Barack Obama. The TV news has been filled with cinematic images of the "last US soldiers", silhouetted against the dawn light, crossing the border into Kuwait.

Fact They have not left. At least 50,000 troops will continue to operate from 94 bases. American air assaults are unchanged, as are special forces' assassinations. The number of "military contractors" is 100,000 and rising. Most Iraqi oil is now under direct foreign control.

False reality BBC presenters have described the departing US troops as a "sort of victorious army" that has achieved "a remarkable change in [Iraq's] fortunes". Their commander, General David Petraeus, is a "celebrity", "charming", "savvy" and "remarkable".

Fact There is no victory of any sort. There is a catastrophic disaster, and attempts to present it as otherwise are a model of Bernays's campaign to "rebrand" the slaughter of the First World War as "necessary" and "noble". In 1980, Ronald Reagan, running for president, rebranded the invasion of Vietnam, in which up to three million people died, as a "noble cause", a theme taken up enthusiastically by Hollywood. Today's Iraq war movies have a similar purging theme: the invader as both idealist and victim.

False reality It is not known how many Iraqis have died. They are "countless", or maybe "in the tens of thousands".

Fact As a direct consequence of the Anglo-American-led invasion, a million Iraqis have died. This figure, from Opinion Research Business, follows peer-reviewed research by Johns Hopkins University in Washington, DC, whose methods were secretly affirmed as "best practice" and "robust" by the Blair government's chief scientific adviser. This is rarely reported or presented to "charming" American generals. Neither is the dispossession of four million Iraqis, the malnourishment of most Iraqi children, the epidemic of mental illness, or the poisoning of the environment.

So the illegal war they lied to the world to start is also the illegal war they lie to the world about ending. How typical.

What is probably the most surprising thing to me is the left or 'left' which did not try to refute the lies. The Nation, for example, should have been all over this. Instead, they served up John Nichols calling Barack's speech "graceful" and basically being the tired whore that John Nichols became in the last decade. At The Progressive, Matthew Rothschild did call it out. But The Progressive has a much smaller online presence and audience. It's basically Rothschild with an occasional assist from someone else. The Nation has multiple blogs, by contrast. Daily writers like Greg Mitchell (who was all about the Sarah Palin this week).

As disappointing as The Nation was, I can't ignore In These Times' silence on the Tuesday speech. Why be online if you are not going to respond?

Oh, right. They won't call out Barack. They live not to call out Barack. They're not anti-war, they're not pro-peace. They're just little whores who whore for Barack.

They're the Jimmy Carter boosters of 1978 and we all know where that took us.

It's a real shame that we can't get honesty from the left 'writers' and radio 'personalities' who are always begging us to send them more money. But that's the reality of 2010.

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):

Friday September 3, 2010. Chaos and violence continue, Tony Blair lies to the world about donating 'royalties' (that will most likely not exist) to wounded British soldiers, AP takes a stand for the facts, the political stalemate continues, Iraqis weigh in on Tuesday's speech by Barack Obama, and more.
Today Poynter publishes an internal AP memo written by Tom Kent, the AP's Deputy Managing Editor for Standards and Production,
Whatever the subject, we should be correct and consistent in our description of what the situation in Iraq is. This guidance summarizes the situation and suggests wording to use and avoid.
To begin with, combat in Iraq is not over, and we should not uncritically repeat suggestions that it is, even if they come from senior officials. The situation on the ground in Iraq is no different today than it has been for some months. Iraqi security forces are still fighting Sunni and al-Qaida insurgents. Many Iraqis remain very concerned for their country's future despite a dramatic improvement in security, the economy and living conditions in many areas.
As for U.S. involvement, it also goes too far to say that the U.S. part in the conflict in Iraq is over. President Obama said Monday night that "the American combat mission in Iraq has ended. Operation Iraqi Freedom is over, and the Iraqi people now have lead responsibility for the security of their country."
However, 50,000 American troops remain in country. Our own reporting on the ground confirms that some of these troops, especially some 4,500 special operations forces, continue to be directly engaged in military operations. These troops are accompanying Iraqi soldiers into battle with militant groups and may well fire and be fired on.
In addition, although administration spokesmen say we are now at the tail end of American involvement and all troops will be gone by the end of 2011, there is no guarantee that this will be the case.
Our stories about Iraq should make clear that U.S. troops remain involved in combat operations alongside Iraqi forces, although U.S. officials say the American combat mission has formally ended. We can also say the United States has ended its major combat role in Iraq, or that it has transferred military authority to Iraqi forces. We can add that beyond U.S. boots on the ground, Iraq is expected to need U.S. air power and other military support for years to control its own air space and to deter possible attack from abroad.
Unless there is balancing language, our content should not refer to the end of combat in Iraq, or the end of U.S. military involvement. Nor should it say flat-out (since we can't predict the future) that the United States is at the end of its military role.
We're opening with that because it is news and it is important. To be clear, not every journalist has jumped on the Iraq War over ball. For every idiot on MSNBC or John Nichols, there have been cautious voices who have refused to play along. Diane Rehm has repeatedly noted that 50,000 troops and the claim of an end make no sense, Michael R. Gordon has offered perspective as well, as has Steve Inskeep, Matthew Rothschild, Chris Floyd, Sonali Kolhatkar, Jane Arraf, Margaret Warner, Scott Horton, Jason Ditz, and Kelley B. Vlahos among others. But they have been the exception. (Scott Horton is the journalist, not the attorney. To be clear on which one, he gets a link.) More commonly, American news consumers have been repeatedly greeted with blind repetition of White House spin and, especially for so-called 'independent' media (Katrina, we're especially talking about The Nation, the magazine you've ruined), a desire not to contradict Blessed Barack.
We wanted an independent media -- in terms of the advertising-backed as well as the donation dependant -- when the build up to the Iraq War was beginning. We attacked and bemoaned corporate media but where has Panhandle Media been the last two years? They've had no independence. Let's not kid that you can be part of Journolist and be independent. Let's not kid that you can be exposed as a part of Journolist -- as the bulk of The Nation writers were -- and get away without issuing a public statement of apology to your readers. It doesn't matter that you're an "opinion writer" -- in fact that's even worse because people reading Katha Pollitt, Chris Hayes, Eric Alterman, Richard Kim and the other Nation writers who were on Journolist thought they were reading independent thinkers, unaware that they joined with other like-minded writers to determine what to cover (Chris Hayes and Spencer Ackerman issued the edict not to cover Jeremiah Wright -- even to object to him -- because it could hurt Barack). Whores. That's who staffs independent media and that's only demonstrated all the more when they refuse to apologize for their backroom dealings, their hidden agreements and instead carp about Tucker Carlson and the outlet (Daily Journal) which exposed them.
The other reason is that Tom Kent notes that the media can't "predict" the future. We've noted that here for nearly two years as outlets have repeatedly insisted that the SOFA means the Iraq War ends at the end of 2011 when it doesn't mean that at all. Tom Kent and AP deserve serious applause for doing what we say we want to see: An independent media that questions, an independent media which doesn't just repeat the spin of government officials.
Today on the second hour of The Diane Rehm Show (NPR), Diane spoke about Iraq with Youchi Dreazen (National Journal), Adberrahim Foukara (Al Jazeera) and Kevin Whitelaw (Congressional Quarterly).
Diane Rehm: Let's talk about the president's comments on the US combat mission in Iraq officially over. Kevin, what does that mean for the role of the remaining 50,000?
Kevin Whitelaw: Well that's right. The-the combat phase of the war is over according to-to the Pentagon and according to President Obama. That doesn't mean that US troops will not engage in any combat anymore. We still have a-a sizeable portion, ten, fifteen percent of the force, that really is part of a Special Forces component that is stationed in Iraq. Still, remember, 50,000 troops. So you take about ten, fifteen percent of that. These are troops that will still go out on missions here and there to captue and kill --
Diane Rehm: With Iraqis?
Kevin Whitelaw: In most cases. We don't know for sure, keep in mind, whether or not there might still be some unilateral missions but in most cases that's correct, they'll go out with Iraqis to-to do certain targeted missions and they'll also -- in the various training mission, the larger training mission -- there will be US troops that accompany Iraqis on various missions and you can expect that if they find themselves under fire they will certainly defend themselves. So there is still combat capability with this force that is in place. Having said that, what it does mean is that the Iraqis are-are, you know, in the front lines, they're the ones that are expected to do-to do the bulk of the security work and to make the bulk of the security decisions about where to target, where to go, how to defend and how to proceed.
Diane Rehm: What about NATO forces still in Iraq, Abderrahim?
Abderrahim Foukara: Well, I mean, if I may comment on the - the broader issue first of all?
Diane Rehm: Sure.
Adberrahim Foukara: It all harks back to democracy obvivously. In a democracy, when you make a pledge, you have to live up to it. President Obama made the pledge that, you know, he would get the US forces out of Iraq and obviously now that we uh-uh-uh closing up to-to the November election, he has to be seen as living up to his word. Now leaving -- withdrawing 50,000 combat troops and leaving several thousands more in Iraq at this time when there isn't even a government in place in Iraq, when despite all pronouncements to the contrary, security forces -- the Iraqi security forces are still not up to snuff, it is -- It may be a little controversial calling this phase, combat phase, over because, it seems to me that, US forces will remain in Iraq, will continue to be combat forces, in one kind or another, in one situation or another. So I hark back to my opening statement in this show which is that in the same way that it is managing the crisis situation between the Israelis and the Palestinians, Iraq will remain a crisis and the United States will keep on managing that crisis for a long time to come.
Diane Rehm: Youchi.
Youchi Dreazen: You know the war in Iraq has been a war of semantics from the very beginning. "The Coalition of the Willing" which didn't exist. I mean, there was a coalition of the US and a small number of allies, in some cases absurdly small. The one Icelandic female soldier who I met who was, excuse me, who was Iceland's entire military contingent in Iraq. You had five Dutch. You had a Costa Rican bomb dismanteling team who didn't want to leave any of its bases so, if the bomb was brought to them, they would dismantle it but otherwise they wouldn't go. So you had the "Coalition of the Willing" which of course didn't exist, you had "Shock and Awe" which neither "shocked" nor "awed." Now you have this transition from combat mission over to advise-and-assist mission beginning and the previous points were exactly right. You have 50,000 troops which is a considerable number. They are still having the same equipment they had before. They still have the same armored vehicles. They will still be out on patrol. It's a semantic difference but that's been the case with Iraq from the very beginning. The key difference to my mind is there's no government. The second key difference from what the president said, the president's speech sounded very much like "We are out the door." The feeling within the Pentagon is that this will be renegotiated and that, by the end of next year, there will still be troops there.
Diane Rehm: David Ignatius wrote in the Washington Post yesterday that, "One of the mysteries of U.S. policy is why Washington keeps pushing a formula that will allow Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki to keep his job (or another top post) at a time when he is rejected by nearly all Iraqi political parties. America's silent ally in this peculiar gambit is Iran. After so much pain, Iraqis deserve better." Youchi?
Youchi Dreazen: There is a very short and simple answer to the first part of the question. It's that American officials have come to like Nouri al-Maliki and to trust him which is remarkable if you remember a memo leaked out a few years ago, which had been written by Stephen Hadley who was then the National Security Advisor for the Bush administration, raising questions about Maliki and making clear that, if you read the memo carefully enough, that he was under some sort of American surveillance because they didn't trust him. Now they do. And the reason why there willing to keep him in power -- even as a caretaker, let alone post as a caretaker -- is that there's a feeling that he's a person you can do business with, a person you can trust and who has some measure of control with the security forces.
Diane Rehm: But how much trust is there, Kevin, that they can finally get a government put together?
Kevin Whitelaw: You know, we've been down this road. Every time there has been one of these elections, there's been a lengthy transition. This one's been even longer than the other ones but all the other ones did result in a government that was able to exercise some amount of control. At this point, it has dragged out even more, it's a sign of how little trust still exists between the parties over there and I think you also have a sense of while, while, there's a lot of Iraqis who are not big fans of Prime Minister Maliki, he's still something of a known entity to them whereas any new member -- any new potential leader , particularly from a different party will be a gamble, a roll of the dice. And so you have a real difficult question there for these Iraqi politicians to decide: Do you go with -- Which guy do you go with? The devil you know? The devil you once knew, which is a former prime minister Ayad Allawi, whose party, whose coalition did well in the election? Or do you bring in yet again somebody else? And then, obviously, all of the political jockeying below that level. It's-it's --
Diane Rehm: And considering all of that, how realistic is it that the US will pull out at the end of 2011?
Adberrahim Foukara: I think militarily they will. My sense is the President Obama will be able to live up to his pledge to get all or most of the military out of - out of Iraq and by the end of 2011. Now what will that remain for the role of the United States in Iraq? I think the role of Iraq in the United States will, in different ways, continue to be very strong, for different reasons. One of them is obviously the fear although [US Vice President] Joe Biden actually trashed it but the fear that the Iranians are playing an increasing role and therefore for the United States to handover, if you will, Iraq to the Iranians or to anybody else, for that matter, in the region, it's not going to happen. Having said that, there's nothing that the United States, I think, they current state of play being what it is in Iraq, there's nothing that the United States can do in Iraq to actually increase its influence beyond what the -- beyond the influence that's actually attributed to-to the Iranians. You have to remember that the United States, the Americans have built a huge embassy, it's probably one of the largest embassies in the world in terms of its physical size and in terms of its staffing and that gives you an indication as to the transformation of the role of the United States in Iraq post-2011. But there's no doubt that the United States has lost influence in Iraq.
Diane Rehm: There is also transformation of opinion about the United States as a result of the war in Iraq. Youchi?
Youchi Dreazen: Well that was something that President Obama tried to address in his speech earlier this week. You know the multiple facets of that, obviously, the war began in tremendous, tremendous controversy which has never really gone away. It was a measure of original sin in many ways. It was seen as illegitimate, it was seen as under false pretenses. In Iraq, you've seen opinion on the United States really vary, almost like on a sign [sound?]wave. There was the initial, what Gen [David] Petraeus referred to as "the man on the moon" feeling of "Hey, US, you put a man on the moon. Why can't you restore our electricity? Why can't you restore our water or our sewage?" Then during the civil war, there was the feeling of the US is at least less of an evil than the Shi'ite death squads or the Sunni death squads. Now again, there's a feeling of -- my Iraqi staff are e-mailing from Iraqi daily, my fromer Iraqi staff when I was at the Wall St. Journal, there's still no power, it's a 125 [degrees] and they have three hours of electricity a day. So there's again the feeling of, 'We know you spent all this money, we know that it enriched a lot of corrupt officials, but why can't you fix these very, very basic issues?' One point on the speech that I thought was very interesting, if you think back to how politicized this war has been from the start -- Did Bush lie? Did Bush tell the truth? Was Saddam containable? Etc. I thought it was remarkable that, on the end, in the speech, that basically was our "We're departing" -- President Obama couched the cost of the war primarily as an economic issue. I mean, in his reasoning for why it's good we're getting out, he paid tribute to the troops, he paid tribute to the sacrifice and then said, 'We need to spend that money here at home.' And I just found it very interesting that a war that began with so much high level debate about honesty and lying and torture and deception and all these grand issues, in the end, comes down to 'we can't afford it.'
The conversation continued. We'll stop there. If Adberrahim Foukara crotch nuzzling of Barack got on your nerves, Marcia's addressing that tonight at her site. Again, FYI, Diane has a new book that was just released today Life With Maxie -- Maxie is her chichuahua and the book's being called a must for dog and pet lovers.
Before we go to any other topics, let's go to some Iraqi voices. Thursday Leila Fadel (Washington Post) offered the views of some Iraqis:

Outside the heavily fortified Green Zone, where many of Biden's meetings took place, Iraqis expressed fear and frustration.
"We wanted change, and nothing's changed," said Mohammed Imad, 21, leaning against a wall covered with old election posters.
[. . .]
"Whose celebration is this?" said Ibrahim Abdul Wahab, 57, a resident of Haifa Street in downtown Baghdad, where Sunni insurgents were in control more than two years ago. "It's his, not Iraq's. Where are the promises of the planned democracy?"
Yahiya Haji: I did not hear the speech and do not care about it. It is all a lie. The American troops will stay in Iraq without a withdrawal, and who knows whether 50,000 or 1,000 soldiers will remain. No one can tell, not a security agreement or the prime minister. They will keep a force ready in case there are any security problems."
Qasim Daoud, 44, Engineer: "Why should I listen to him? What will he say? All the words are known and have been said before. This is all a lie, the talk about withdrawal. Yesterday, there was a U.S. patrol in my neighborhood. Withdrawing, and leaving 50,000 soldiers?"
Muhammed al-Shaliji, 43: " I did not hear the speech and I am not interested in what he said."
Ayad Muhammed, 52, Unemployed: "I did not hear the speech because I do not think that the U.S. will ever leave us alone."
Omar Walid, 40, Unemployed: "Half the speech was a lie, because they will not leave Iraq. If they were going to leave us why did they build 93 military bases. As for what he said -- that they will stick with the security agreement and be responsible for Iraq' borders -- say to him, 'here were you when the Iranian forces attacked Iraq? Where were you when the Iranians took over Faka oil field? Where were you when the Turkish forces attacked us?'"
McClatchy Newspapers' Iraqi correspondents offer the views of some Iraqis. Army Officer Qaswar Abu Tariq states: "People have a right to be afraid. It (what the US has done in Iraq) is not a job well done. No one in his right mind, only perhaps a politician would like to see occupation forces extend their presence. But look around you – what do you see? The country's borders are open on all sides, open for any who wish to enter and do their will inside Iraq, whether Iran, Syria or any other of the neighbouring countries. Was the decision to withdraw come at a time when they (US) left a force able to secure our borders? No. There is no such thing - whatever the politicians say.. Believe me, if we were able to secure our borders the terrorist attacks would fall to one half – at least. So they (US) failed to provide Iraq with secure borders. And how sovereign can a country be if it needs the air-force of the U.S to protect it's air-space? In seven years, why have no steps been taken to revive our air-force? " 70-year-old, retired school teacher and grandmother of seven, Widad Hameed is interviewed:
(Will violence escalate when the USF pull out??) (Long pause..) "I am torn between two considerations answering this question. Firstly -- I am strongly opposed to the presence of foreign troops on Iraqi sovereign soil -- and therefore hope to see them leave as quickly as possible -- This is on principle. But on the other hand, I am afraid of what might happen after they leave. I have no great faith in the abilities of the ISF and feel that the chaos in our political situation will be reflected upon the security scene as the politicians slug it out and violence will rise and the people will pay. As for the Americans -- The chaos we are witnessing is a result of their failed plans, and I don't think there is anything they could do at this late date to make a difference. Had they wanted to achieve better results, they should have been more serious about training and arming the ISF -- commanders and ranks alike – Seven years should have been long enough".

(Should the USF interfere if violence rose to unbearable levels?) "Though I hate to say it -- But, yes, they should interfere. They have a moral duty to the citizens of Iraq. It was because of their intervention (the occupation) that security has disappeared from our lives. The chaos now present in Iraq is their doing – and they must protect us from the dangers that they brought with them when they invaded Iraq. They must protect us from al Qaida, the militias and the political violence. It is their moral duty.
Leila Fadel (Washington Post) continued to report on Iraqis reactions today and noted the Kurds:

"They decided to finish it, but they know it's not over," Othman said Thursday. "War with terrorism is here, and Iranian intervention is here. They are lying to tell their people that they left behind a government that is capable and Iraqi security forces that are capable. . . . There is no government, the people don't have confidence in the Iraqi security forces, and Iraqi suffering is increasing."
Many people here say that they did not expect Obama's declaration to sound so final or that Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates would acknowledge that the war is over, albeit "clouded" by its start in a U.S.-led invasion based on a false premise.
"I'm disappointed by this new administration," Othman said. "They want to run away from Iraq."
He also criticized Vice President Biden's trip to Baghdad this week to mark the end of the U.S. combat mission, questioning why Biden did not hold a news conference while he was here. "This is America - it's supposed to be transparent," he said.

Arab News also reports
on Iraq reactions: "Biden called on Iraqi leaders to speed up the process of forming a government. 'They said they have withdrawn, but they are still controlling us. They are the ones who make the decisions in Iraq,' Um Ahmed, a 42-year-old housewife, said."
The political stalemate was noted by Diane and her guests. March 7th, Iraq concluded Parliamentary elections. The Guardian's editorial board notes, "These elections were hailed prematurely by Mr Obama as a success, but everything that has happened since has surely doused that optimism in a cold shower of reality." 163 seats are needed to form the executive government (prime minister and council of ministers). When no single slate wins 163 seats (or possibly higher -- 163 is the number today but the Parliament added seats this election and, in four more years, they may add more which could increase the number of seats needed to form the executive government), power-sharing coalitions must be formed with other slates, parties and/or individual candidates. (Eight Parliament seats were awarded, for example, to minority candidates who represent various religious minorities in Iraq.) Ayad Allawi is the head of Iraqiya which won 91 seats in the Parliament making it the biggest seat holder. Second place went to State Of Law which Nouri al-Maliki, the current prime minister, heads. They won 89 seats. Nouri made a big show of lodging complaints and issuing allegations to distract and delay the certification of the initial results while he formed a power-sharing coalition with third place winner Iraqi National Alliance -- this coalition still does not give them 163 seats. They are claiming they have the right to form the government. In 2005, Iraq took four months and seven days to pick a prime minister. It's now 5 months and 27 days. Phil Sands (National Newspaper) notes that if the stalemate continues through September 8th, it will then be a half a year since Iraqis voted.
Today Qassim Abdul-Zahra (AP) reports that Adel Abdul-Mahdi's name has been officially tossed into the ring by the Iraqi National Alliance. He is currently Iraq's Shi'ite vice president and the INA has long pushed him for the post. ICG's Joost Hiltermann tells AP, "This is all really an attempt by INA to put pressure on State of Law to throw al-Maliki under the bus. That will only happen when State of Law has no other choice."
Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Baghdad roadside bombing which targeted security forces (Iraqi police and Sahwa) and injured four bystanders, 2 Sahwa and 1 police officer, 1 corpse (Christian male) discovered in Mosul, a Mosul roadside bombing which claimed 1 life and left another person wounded and, dropping back to Thursday night, a Baghdad sticky bombing targeting police Lt Col Mohammed Riyadh which left him injured and claimed the life of his brother and a Baghdad roadside bombing which wounded three Iraqi sodliers.
I'm Matt Rotschild the editor of The Progressive magazine with my Progressive Point of View which you can also grab at our website at Yeah, I watched Obama's speech on Iraq and I can't say I was bold over or blown away. First of all, to refer to the US invasion and occupation as "this remarkable chapter in the history of the United States and Iraq," as Obama did, is to really cake on the make up. And was it "a war to disarm a state," as he asserted, or was it instead a war to secure oil, or a war to project US power, or a war not of necessity and not of choice but of therapy for George Bush to overcome his little Oedipal complex? By the way, I could have lived without Obama's saluting of his hapless and criminal predecessor, couldn't you? And I know every president, every politician and now, it seems, every citizen must bow down to all the soldiers who serve in our military, but was it accurate of Obama to say that "at every turn, America's men and women in uniform have served with courage and resolve"? I'm sure the vast majority did but what about those who followed Rumsfeld's brutal interrogation orders? What about Abu Ghraib? What about the two dozens or more Iraqis our soldiers murdered in detention? I'm glad Obama is ending combat operation sin Iraq and getting most of our troops out of there. But he didn't need to rewrite history in the process. I'm Matt Rothschild and that's how I see it.
You can read Matthew's commentary in text form here. He leaves out one aspect in terms of crimes -- there are many, he had to select which to note -- that we are going to tackle at Third so I'll bite my tongue. The only War Crimes resulting in any real convictions. And if you're a TCI community member, you're already saying the name and know what I'm referring to.
Barack is the Ghost of Illegal War Present and Future. Bush is the Ghost of Illegal War Past. He's far from the only illegal war past ghost popping up.
In an effort to rehabilitate himself and land a big advance for his next book, one-time British prime minister Tony Blair's promoting his latest book Go Down Tones: Confessions Of A War Hawk. And as he attempts to make like the giddiest Gabor but comes off more like a dazed and disoriented Dame Edith, Blair described to Steve Inskeep (Morning Edition, NPR) yesterday a chapter of his book which must be entitled: "At Least She Died In A 'Democracy'."

Tony Blair: Yes. This is someone who came to see me before the Iraqi conflict. And I remember sitting in Downing Street, up in the drawing room in Downing Street, and her explaining to me how her family had been tortured and killed by Saddam and how the country was crying out for release from Saddam. And then, after May 2003, when Saddam was toppled, she went back to Iraq, and then a few months later sectarians killed her.

If you think/hope this led Blair to examine his War Hawk motives and actions, you don't know Tony Blair. Instead, he obsesses over what she might say now ("What would she say now?" he repeatedly asks like a Dane in a Shakespeare play) and wondering what a dead person might say is probably a great deal easier on the mind than taking accoutability for the death you caused. He's also obsessed with comparisons to Communism and the USSR (read or listen to the interview, you'll see it) so apparently the dead woman's a variation, in Tony's mind, of "Better dead than Red." Regrets, he has a few. But the illegal invasion isn't among them. Robert Marquand (Christian Science Monitor) explains Blair would gladly do the illegal war again; however, he would consider giving Gordon Brown the axe. (Gordon Brown is not pleased.) Not everyone is taking Blair's multitude of claims at face value. Alexander Chancellor (Guardian) observes:

Tony Blair says in his memoir that the bloody chaos that followed the invasion of Iraq in 2003 came as a complete surprise to him. "I can say that never did I guess the nightmare that unfolded," he writes. "The truth is we did not anticipate the role of al-Qaida." Odd that, when all and sundry were warning him about it, including former president of France Jacques Chirac and Eliza Manningham-Buller, former head of MI5, who only a few weeks ago testified to that effect to the Chilcot inquiry. She said she had warned the government that an invasion would increase the terrorist threat to Britain and pave the way for an al-Qaida jihad in Iraq. That Blair should have imagined that all would go smoothly after the overthrow of Saddam Hussein suggests both a remarkable lack of foresight and a stubborn resistance to any unwelcome advice.

While some offer reality, the Miss Hathaway to Tony's Milburn Drysdale, John Rentoul attempts yet again to rewrite history and deny that Tony is a War Hawk. John's not just a spinner, he's demented. Back in October 2009, it wasn't that he was wrong (it was already over for Labour -- as their own polling demonstrated, Gordon Brown needed to step down by Labor Day 2009), it was that he spun the polls intentionally. He intentionally deceived the public. And who benefited? No one. Those who bothered to believe John Rentoul never saw the Liberal-Democrat and Conservative wins coming. But it was all there in the polling, John just ignored it to continue to serve Tony. Robert Fisk (Independent of London) isn't falling for it or spit-shining Tony's knob:

Has this wretched man learned nothing? On and on, it went during his BBC interview: "I would absolutely...","I definitely...", "I believed absolutely clearly...", "It was very, very clear that this changed everything" – "this" being 11 September 2001 – "Let me state clearly and unequivocally", "The Intelligence picture was clear...", "legal justification was quite clear", "We said completely accurately... "Because I believed strongly, then and now...", "My definitive view in the end is..." You would have thought we won the war in Iraq, that we were winning the war in Afghanistan, that we were going to win the next war in Iran. And why not, if Lord Blair of Kut al-Amara says so.

At The Progreesive, Amitabh Pal takes on Tony and his bad book:
He glibly asserts that "the full array of experts were consulted" before he made his decision, blithely omitting how his government distorted the input. But then, the honesty and/or judgment of a man is seriously in doubt when he lists George W. Bush "near the top" of any list of political leaders with the "most integrity."
Speaking of whom, it will be interesting to see how the less eloquent of the pair handles the Iraq fiasco in his memoir, coming to a bookstore near you in November. Unwilling to wait that long, Republican leaders are already engaged in a rewriting of history. John McCain, John Boehner and Mitch McConnell all criticized President Obama for allegedly not giving Bush credit enough in his recent Iraq speech for the supposed success of the surge.
No amount of memoir writing or bloviating will nullify the central truth about the Iraq War: It was a folly based on deceit and lies that brought about unconscionable suffering. Blair, Bush and their supporters can spin all they want.
Okay, Pal repeats one error that the media's glommed on and it needs to be corrected. Tony Blair can't sell books. Tony Blair is hated in England. As well as around the world. As he realized how hated he was -- when his literary agent was attempting to shop Tony's next book -- a p.r. campaign was begun: Tony would donate his ROYALTIES from the book sales to help the British soldiers injured in Iraq.
Pay attention, that's BULLS**T. Tony's gotten some favorable comments from some idiots who either don't know what they're talking about (one British soldier) or lackeys who don't care about the truth (a number in the press). Pal doesn't praise Blair for that announcement but does repeat it.
It's a LIE. The book isn't expected to sell in big numbers. It's hoped that it will have a run on the bestseller list (four to six weeks is the big expectation). That hope would allow Tony to pocket a big advance for his next book -- which, his outline explains, will be on the peace process between the Israelies and the Palestinians (something he might need to tell participants engaged in it currently since he's planning to write about all of them). The sales for this book will determine furture advances.
Now, PAY ATTENTION, Tony's offered to donate royalties from the sales of the books. Tony's not offering anything from the huge advance he got for writing this book. The HUGE ADVANCE, PAY ATTENTION, means that the book must be on the best seller list for six months for any royalties of any real significance to be credited to Tony. In other words, he pocketed at least six figures (some say seven) for this book and will keep that advance. He's not donating it. That huge advance means that there is little chance of a profit (even before you add in how unpopular he is) and the royalties are profits from the book sales after the publishing company, AFTER, deduct the costs of printing, promoting and, yes, his advance. There will probably be little-to-no royalties from this book. Also in the air is where the 'promise' applies. Tony's American publishing company states they're unaware of any alteration in the contract they signed before Tony made his current promise to donate royalties.
It's a scam. Tony The Liar Blair is lying again. He's using the wounded British soldiers in an attempt to sell his bad book. He's hiding behind them. He is not handing over that big advance to them. He's not donating that to them. This should have been explained from the very start when the spin began that Tony was being charitable. You've got a lot of whores in the press who are not doing their job. (I'm not calling Pal a whore. This should have been explained in the British press.)
To include that (and thank you to friends at Blair's British publishing house for their input), we have to pull out other things; however, that's really important because he's being declared "Saint Tony" for doing nothing. We can't note this article by Atul Aneja because we don't have the room. or Cindy Sheehan's commentary We'll pick it up tomorrow. I don't like liars and pressure needs to be put on Blair to turn that advance he pocketed for the book over to the British soldiers because, otherwise, they're not getting any money of significance (as he's well aware).
TV notes. On PBS' Washington Week, Dan Balz (Washington Post), John Dickerson (CBS News, Slate), Doyle McManus (Los Angeles Times) and Deborah Solomon (Wall St. Journal) join Gwen around the table. Gwen now has a weekly column at Washington Week and the current one is "Why We Love It When the President Goes Away." This week, Bonnie Erbe will sit down with Karen Czarnecki, Cari Dominguez, Melinda Henneberger and Eleanor Holmes Norton on the latest broadcast of PBS' To The Contrary to discuss the week's events. And this week's To The Contrary online extra is about gay Republicans coming out of the closet. Need To Know is PBS' new program covering current events. This week's hour long broadcast airs Fridays on most PBS stations -- but check local listings -- and it explores the money behind and in the 2010 mid-term elections. And turning to broadcast TV, Sunday CBS' 60 Minutes offers:
The $60 Billion Fraud
Medicare and Medicaid fraudsters are beating U.S. taxpayers out of an estimated $90 billion a year - $60 billion of it from Medicare - using a billing scam that is surprisingly easy to execute. Steve Kroft investigates Medicare. |
Watch Video

The SEED School
There's a unique school that's giving kids from an inner-city neighborhood that only graduates 33 percent of its high school students a shot at college they never had before. Byron Pitts reports on SEED School, the first urban, public boarding school. |
Watch Video

Tennis Twins
Pro tennis' leading doubles champions are identical twins who are so coordinated on the court that their opponents actually suspect they have twin telepathy. Lesley Stahl reports. |
Watch Video

60 Minutes, Sunday, Sept. 5, at 7 p.m. ET/PT.

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Brave actions and photos

"The Disobedient on Why They Resisted the Ft. Hood Deployment to Iraq" (World Can't Wait):

Five peace activists successfully blockaded six buses carrying Fort Hood Soldiers deploying to Iraq outside Fort Hood's Clarke gate this morning at around 4 a.m. While the activists took the width of Clarke Rd. and slowed the buses to a halt, police made no arrests, but instead beat the activists out of the streets using automatic weapons and police dogs so the deploying Soldiers could proceed.

Among those blockading were three veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and one military spouse. The action, organized by a group calling themselves "Fort Hood Disobeys," was aimed at preventing the deployment of the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment Soldiers to what the veterans termed an illegal and immoral occupation.

At the link, there's a video worth watching.

Fort Hood

That's the illustration that Betty's kids, Kat, Wally, Dallas and Isaiah worked on for Third's "Editorial: Biggest action of last week" and it's a rendering of the five brave activists who stood up: Matthis Chiroux, Crystal Colon, Bobby Whittenberg-James, Jeff Grant and Cynthia Thomas. Their action was brave and it was historical. There is no way that an honest documentary of resistance to the war can be made without including that action. No one else has tried it. It was new, it was novel and they were very, very brave.

Friday I asked that you pass on the news of the action to your friends and I'm going to repeat that. They already did the work, the five of them. That was the hard part. The easy part is just introducing the action to your friends. In doing so, you may inspire further actions or spark something. You have nothing to lose and we have so much to gain.

If you click here, you can see photos of destruction from the Iraq War thus far. Information Clearing House wrongly calls it Bush's war. It's Barack's as well. It was his before last night but after his attempt to redeam Bush in that crap-ass speech, you better believe the illegal war belongs to Barry as well.

There wasn't a great deal that Bill Clinton did as president that shocked me. I wasn't a Clinton-hater, I wasn't a Clintonista. He did some things rights, he did some things wrong. The biggest shocker for me, the biggest wrong, was his efforts to provide redemption to Richard Nixon in Tricky Dick's final hours.

At least Bill could use as an excuse that it was 'long ago.' It didn't make me forgive Tricky Dick or embrace Bill's strategy. But it was an excuse. A lame one, but an excuse none the less. There is no excuse for Barack's praise of Bush.

War Hawks stick together. Especially when it allows them to stand against the bulk of the American people. That's what empire is all about, screwing over the citizens.

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):

Wednesday, September 1, 2010. Chaos and violence continues, no word yet from Tricky Dick Nixon on whether hell froze over or not but Barack did lie through his teeth last night, a look at reactions to Barack's speech and more.

Last night, US President Barack Obama hogged US air waves to spew a bunch of pretty lies, just pretty lies. He hailed Iraq as a success -- somehow forgetting that we have a measure for Iraq success. The White House proposed it at the end of 2006 and Congress signed off on it (and Barack was in the Senate at that time). They're called benchmarks. And Iraq's government or 'government' was supposed to meet those benchmarks to qualify for further funding. Not meet by the end of time, mind you, they were supposed to meet them ALL within 12 months. They never, ever did. Iraq is not a success and all the gas baggery in the world attempting to spin for Barack somehow forgot that the White House proposed a series of benchmarks, the Congress endorsed them and Nouri al-Maliki agreed ot them but they never got met. That would mean: Failure.
Today on the first hour of The Diane Rehm Show (NPR), Diane explored the Iraq War with her guests Phyllis Bennis (IPS), Rajiv Chandrasekaran (Washington Post, author of Imperial Life In The Emerald City), and retired Gen James Dubik. And, FYI, Diane has a new book that was just released today Life With Maxie -- Maxie is her chichuahua and the book's being called a must for dog and pet lovers.
Phyllis Bennis: I think the reality is that getting our troops out is only step one. It's not step last of the obligations that we have to the people of Iraq. Most of us that have been against this war since before it was waged believe that getting the troops out now -- whether it was, we've said now seven years ago, we say now today -- is the first step. Before that we can't make good on the obligations of real reparations, real reconstruction. What we're doing instead, I'm afraid, Diane, is we're moving -- the transition is not from US control to Iraqi control but rather from Pentagon control to State Dept control. We're militarizing diplomacy by sending in -- now it would be armored cars or armored personnel carriers, planes, surveillance drones, a 7,000 armed contractor team of what I would consider mercenaries that will not be under the Pentagon's control so they will legally be able to stay even after the official pullout time because they won't be under the control of the Dept of Defense -- the only part that's identified in that agreement. So this is not good enough in terms of the moves that we need towards a real end to our military engagement.
The entire hour was worth listening to and we'll note other parts throughout the snapshot. But last night, Mr. Pretty Lies decided to share more of the same with the American people in a prime time address. With the world? No, Mr. Pretty Lies was happy to talk about 'sacrifice' but somehow the 'sacrifice' never really included the Iraqi people or, for that matter, the battered and bruised US Constitution which was violated by both the Bush administration and the Barack administration to start and continue the ongoing and illegal war on Iraq.
There is no legal recognition of pre-emptive wars of aggression. There never has been and, hopefully, there never will be. One of the most infamous wars is WWII and Adolf Hitler wages a war of aggression. Germany was not attacked. Germany made the decision to go to war. It was an illegal move on the part of Germany. By the same context, the US-led invasion was illegal.
The Iraq Inquiry has yet to issue any findings but testimonies have demonstrated that Tony Blair (then-Prime Minister of England when the war began) had already been advised that the war would be illegal without authorization from the United Nations. The UN resolution that passed was to allow inspectors into Iraq (to search for those mythical Weapons of Mass Destruction) . As one legal adviser serving under Blair after another has testified, that resolution did not 'okay' a war and, to be legal, a second resolution was needed. Blair was repeatedly informed of that. Even while being informed of that, he told Bully Boy Bush that whatever he (Bush) decided, England would go along.
The US did not want a second resolution and, based on British testimony, it appears that they did not want to go back for a second resolution because they feared that they might be hemmed in or constrained by a second resolution -- that conditions and qualifiers might be added. (Appears? The Inquiry's public testimony has largely come from the British -- plus Hans Blix)
The three 'biggies' for starting the illegal war were: US White House occupant Bully Boy Bush, British Prime Minister Tony Blair and Australian Prime Minister John Howard -- Howard, of course, is forever treated as the third wheel and forgotten.
The United Nations authorized inspectors to enter Iraq and search for Weapons of Mass Destruction. They found none. As noted during Hans Blix's ridiculous testimony to the Inquiry, Blair, Bush or Howard could claim Blix as the reason for their war of aggression. Blix repeatedly hedged in his reports, repeatedly painted things as more dire than they actually were and should be remembered as one of the War Hawks. But the three can't hide behind Blix because they all lied in their own countries. And, here, we'll do like history and just forget John Howard.
Tony Blair and his Cabinet lied to the citizens of the United Kingdom to sell the illegal war. They falsely asserted that the UK could be attacked by Iraq with WMD within 45 minutes. It was a lie. As has been demonstrated in public testimony to the Inquiry, it was a lie Blair knew to be a lie before it was ever repeated. Bush lied so much that it would be impossible to chart every one of them -- even with a series of Venn diagrams.
He lied by inference -- repeatedly linking 9-11 to Iraq when there was no connection between the two -- and he lied outright. On the latter, there was the "mushroom cloud" nonsense where he would attempt to scare the American public. At one point, he would warn of Iraq attempting to purchase "yellow cake uranium" which was a lie -- a known lie. Former US Ambassador Joe Wilson would be tasked with visiting Niger to determine whether the rumors were true or false. Wilson would report to the government that the rumors were false. As the lie was repeated and repeated by Bush and his administration, Wilson would begin to push back and, after the illegal war had started, pen the New York Times column "What I Didn't Find In Africa." As retaliation for documenting that the illegal war was built on lies, the administration would go after Wilson and target his wife Valerie Plame -- Plame was then an undercover agent for the CIA. Plame's cover would be blown by the administration. Scooter Libby would eventually get to know a federal prison very well as a result of his role in the outing of Plame.
Bush lied and people died. That was one of many slogans throughout the ongoing and illegal war. Bush did lie. He also lied to Congress. Colin Powell lied to the United Nations (Powell would infamously tell Barbara Walters in 2006 that his testimony to the United Nations was a ''blot'' on his record while lying that he didn't realize he was lying -- Powell's handmaiden Lawrence Wilkerson is a professional liar but he's become a MSNBC hero because he lies that Powell is innocent -- the record demonstrates otherwise -- and puts all blame on Bush). Bush lied, Dick Cheney lied, Collie lied (Cheney taunted that Collie needed to get down in the mud with the rest of them and that his approval rating was high enough that he could afford to), they all lied.
In the midst of their lies, in the fall of 2002, the administration forced a vote in Congress. What was being voted for is in dispute for some. What's not in dispute is that the vote was pushed by the administration ahead of the 2002 mid-term elections because -- having falsely linked Iraq and 9-11 and having created the 'terrorism' scare with never ending 'chatter' in the media -- the administration could use a no-vote in an attempt to paint opponents as 'weak on terror.' Elizabeth Edwards has always maintained that then-Senator John Edwards voted for the authorization believing that a second one would be needed. She maintained that, for example, to Ruth Conniff on the pages of The Progressive. (Matthew Rothschild's called out that assertion in his note to the readers in that issue.) Then-Senator Hillary Clinton has also stated that she believed the vote would still require the Bush administration to come back before Congress should the US go to war. Not-in-the-Senate Barack Obama gave a whiny and petulant speech about 'dumb wars' and wars and he wasn't opposed to all wars but he was opposed to this one -- at that time. By the 2004 DNC convention in Boston, he would be telling the New York Times that, had he been in the US Senate in 2002, he would have voted FOR the authorization. Elected to the US Senate in the fall of 2004, he would go on to repeatedly vote FOR the illegal war by repeatedly voting TO fund the war. Somehow that didn't matter to his press whores on the left and 'left' who would help create the fairytale (Bill Clinton called it correctly) that Barack was anti-war and had always opposed the Iraq War.
Lies were needed to sell the war, lies were needed to continue it. Judith Miller was a star reporter for the New York Times before the war began. She'd worked her way up to that post having previously worked for NPR, The Progressive and other outlets. Her pre-war reporting was little more than stenography which helped sell the wars. Miller, however, did not lie. She was a bad reporter. But if she'd lied, she wouldn't have disgraced herself in Iraq as she commandeered a US military unit and basically led them on search missions for WMD. Miller betrayed her profession but there's nothing to indicate that she also lied. (She appears to have foolishly believed every false claim used to sell the Iraq War.) Miller became the poster child of the illegal war (and would lose her job at the New York Times for that and other reasons -- so kicked to the curb was she that Maureen Dowd was allowed to mock Miller on the pages of the paper). But Miller was far from the only propagandist in the press corps who helped sell the illegal war. The others largely kept their heads down -- including the one who co-wrote the October 1, 2001 front-page New York Times article which first falsely linked 9-11 and Iraq and claimed that Saddam Hussein, then leader of Iraq, had terrorist training facilities where hijackers were trained (9-11 is September 11, 2011, when US planes were hijacked and two flown into the World Trade Centers, one crashed into the Pentagon and one crashed in a Pennsylvania field). It helped to have a penis. If you were a man, you didn't get called out.
This was best demonstrated when Miller was no longer a front-pager but the New York Times Go-Go Boyz in The Green Zone were. Their lies continued the Iraq War. But other than Danny Schechter, Molly Bingham, Thomas E. Ricks and the writers for WSWS, few bothered to call out the Dexy Gordons and John Burns. Dexy let the military proof his copy -- which is why it was how many days old when it hit the paper? But type up what the military wants and you too can win awards the way Dexy did. It was their lies that prolonged the illegal war most of all. Things were awful in Iraq but they didn't tell you that. In 2006, on campus speaking engagements, Dexy would suddenly want to share the things they didn't put in during real time and seemed to think that a campus qualified for a confessional and he was somehow absolved. Had they not been creating waves of Operation Happy Talk, the American public might have caught on a lot sooner to just how bad things were. There are the lies that start wars, there are the lies that continue them.
One of the biggest lies Barack conveyed last night was that the Iraq War was over. It is not over. Making that very clear is this from Elisabeth Bumiller (New York Times):

(One soldier did ask if the end of combat operations meant the end of extra combat pay. Mr. Gates said that as far as he was concerned, combat pay still applied in Iraq, where troops are still being killed by homemade bombs, sniper fire and mortar attacks.)
Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Baghdad sticky bombing which claimed the life of 1 police officer and left two more injured, a second Baghdad sticky bombing which claimed the life of 1 provincial council employee and injured three more poeple, a Baghdad makret bombing which injured three people and Sadiyah bombing which injured PUK Party head Shakir Soltan and his driver. Reuters notes that "twin roadside bombings" in Baghdad resulted in six people injured.
Back to the first hour of The Diane Rehm Show (NPR),
Diane Rehm: On the other hand, Phyllis, the Iraqi government has been in place for six months since the elections, there has been no real government formed.
Phyllis Bennis: There is no government. There's a caretaker government, the holdovers from the last election are still in control with far too much power. They are completely dependant at the end of the day on US support -- political, financial and ultimately military. So the question is -- and I would really disagree with the general on this -- the future is not "ours" to make, the future belongs to Iraq. The future belongs to Iraqis. We are not Iraqis. And the notion that we are going to determine the question of when is their success isn't our judgment call. Unfortunately, the Iraqi leaders who are now in control don't represent their country. The Parliament does but the government does not and in that context it makes it very difficult to say well the government will have the right to say we'd like you to stay longer or whatever -- That's simply not representative of what we did to that country.
At 7:30 a.m. EST in the US, a handover ceremony began in Iraq. US Ambassador to Iraq James Jeffrey introduced Joe Biden to the crowd (USF/MNF streamed the proceedings live this morning) as someone who "knows what it's like to have a close family member deployed" in Iraq. Speaking at Camp Victory's Al Faw Palace, Biden declared, with no sense of irony, of the location for the speech, "I can't but help think of the irony that we are here today occupying a palace for a noble reason that was once occupied by Saddam Hussein." A friend at the White House disputes my take. So I will note that maybe Joe did grasp the irony. Let's start with his assertions. One, the palace was once occupied by Hussein. Two, it is now occupied "for a noble reason by the US". Do we know the definition of irony? It's when the actual meaning is the opposite of the literal meaning. So did Hussein occupy the palace? Yes. Not ironic there. Is the US doing so "for a noble reason" -- Okay, that could be irony. Because it's not "for noble reasons."
"Our remaining troops, I might add, as combat ready as any in" the US military, Biden said. He later hailed Odierno as, "Not only a warrior but a diplomat." And command has just been handed over to Austin. Though why command of an 'ended' war would need to be handed over, It makes no sense unless you grasp that the Iraq War did not end last night with Barack's pretty lies speech. At the Defense Dept, there's a photo essay of the ceremony which existed primarily for Gen Ray Odierno to step down as the top US commander in Iraq and for Gen Lloyd Austin to take over. Sam Dagher and Julian E. Barnes (Wall St. Journal) note, "Gen. Odierno, who served for 55 months in Iraq in different capacities and had an enlisted son lose an arm in the conflict, paid tribute to the sacrifices of U.S. and Iraqi soldiers and the Iraqi people."
Back to the first hour of The Diane Rehm Show (NPR),
Diane Rehm: And what about the moral obligation to the people of the United States in terms of, number one, truth telling, number two, the human life sacrificed, number three, the money sacrificed? I mean, there are morals on both side when you enter a war. Phyllis?
Phyllis Bennis: This was never a moral war and I'm convinced that the lives of those soldiers that were lost, the US soldiers and the Iraqi civilians that were killed in such greater numbers were not worth it. I think that is a reality. I don't think you can declare something makes it worth it. It was a wasted, illegal war based on lies. And I think that if -- Look at Diane's question of how do we come to grips with this as a country. The issue is accountability and I think it's a great failure of our governing officials at every level, not just President Obama, but Congress in particular, that there has not been a clear effort to do what the Canadians have begun to do, what the British did, what all the coalition members have done to investigate who lied, what was the basis on which this war was waged and hold acountable those individauls who make that decision.
Let's go to reactions to Barack's speech last night. Matthew Rothschild (The Progressive) has a very strong critique and we'll note this from it:
And I know every President, every politician, and now it seems every citizen must bow down to all the soldiers who serve in our military, but was it accurate of Obama to say that "at every turn, America's men and women in uniform have served with courage
and resolve"? I'm sure the vast majority did, and I wouldn't have traded places with any of them. But what about those who followed Rumsfeld's brutal interrogation orders? What about Abu Ghraib? What about the dozens of Iraqis our personnel murdered in detention?
Did that show "courage and resolve?"
Most distressingly, Obama treated the war in Iraq as if it were a minor, tactical disagreement, rather than a fundamental, black and white difference between two irreconcilable views. "I am mindful that the Iraq war has been a contentious issue at home," he said. "It is time to turn the page." To underline the point, he mentioned that he'd telephoned former President George W. Bush before delivering the speech, though he mercifully spared us details of that conversation. Needless to say, the unprovoked invasion of Iraq by the United States in 2003 was a clear-cut, criminal war of aggression, making it far more than a merely "contentious" issue. Hundreds of thousands of Iraqis died for no good reason, and many thousands more are likely to perish as Iraq's bitterly divided body politic settles its differences with guns and bombs over the next five or ten years. Millions of Iraqi children have been traumatized beyond repair. By going into Iraq, the United States alienated its friends, weakened its alliances, emboldened its adversaries, blackened its reputation, squandered a trillion dollars, suffered tens of thousands of dead and wounded, utterly failed to spread democracy and freedom in the region, vastly strengthened Iran's strategic position in the Middle East and the Persian Gulf and devastated a nation by shattering its economy, its state institutions and its very social fabric in a manner that will take at least two generations to repair. None of this seems to have occurred to President Obama, who wants to turn the bloody page.
[ . . .]
Unfortunately, despite Obama's words in pledging to withdraw US forces from Iraq by the end of 2011, he will find himself under enormous pressure to renege on that promise. And there's precious little reason to believe that he won't cave in to that pressure, particularly if Iraq devolves into civil war sometime in 2011.
Chris Floyd (World Can't Wait) disputes one of Barack's many false claims:
"We have met our responsibility!"
No, Mister President, we have not.
Not until many Americans of high degree stand in the dock for war crimes. Not until the United States pays hundreds of billions of dollars in unrestricted reparations to the people of Iraq for the rape of their country and the mass murder of their people. Not until the United States opens its borders to accept all those who have been and will be driven from Iraq by the savage ruin we have inflicted upon them, or in flight from the vicious thugs and sectarians we have loosed -- and empowered -- in the land. Not until you, Mister President, go down on your knees, in sackcloth and ashes, and proclaim a National of Day of Shame to be marked each year by lamentations, reparations and confessions of blood guilt for our crime against humanity in Iraq.
Also offering a strong critique is David Swanson's "More War Lies" (War Is A Crime):
Lies aren't used just to start wars, but also to escalate them, continue them, and even reduce or end them. And we got a pile of war lies from the president Tuesday evening.
Obama claimed the war on Iraq was initially a war to disarm a state. Really? And then "terrorist" Iraqis attacked our troops in their country. Yet if they had done that in our country, I suspect they would still be the terrorists. And then it became a civil war which we were innocently caught up in. Uh huh.
U.S. participants in this crime are heroes, always and everywhere. That's sacred. The troops' mission has involved protecting the Iraqi people, and by golly they've done a superb job, as long as we don't mention the complete devastation of Iraq, the million dead, the millions of refugees, and the intense resentment of those remaining toward our country for what we've done to theirs.
The Iraqi people now (dead, in exile, in a ruined nation) have a chance that they supposedly didn't have before we destroyed their country, a country that was actually a better place to live in in every way in 2003 than it is now, and in 1989 than in 2003. To hear President Obama, this war has been for the benefit of the Iraqi people, and these wars have been about al Qaeda and 9-11.
Jason Ditz ( breaks it down in one sentence, "President Barack Obama tonight made his carefully choreographed 'end of the Iraq War' speech, assuring Americans that this fake end, as opposed to the other fake ends, stands as an 'historic moment' in American history and a 'milestone' that 'should serve as a reminder to all the world' of America's military leadership." The New Republic offers Andrew J. Bacevich's "Obama Wants Us To Forget The Lessons Of Iraq:"

The Iraq war? Fuggedaboudit. "Now, it is time to turn the page." So advises the commander-in-chief at least. "[T]he bottom line is this," President Obama remarked last Saturday, "the war is ending." Alas, it's not. Instead, the conflict is simply entering a new phase. And before we hasten to turn the page -- something that the great majority of Americans are keen to do -- common decency demands that we reflect on all that has occurred in bringing us to this moment. Absent reflection, learning becomes an impossibility.
For those Americans still persuaded that everything changed the moment Obama entered the Oval Office, let's provide a little context. The event that historians will enshrine as the Iraq war actually began back in 1990 when Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait, Iraq's unloved and unlovable neighbor. Through much of the previous decade, the United States had viewed Saddam as an ally of sorts, a secular bulwark against the looming threat of Islamic radicalism then seemingly centered in Tehran. Saddam's war of aggression against Iran, launched in 1980, did not much discomfit Washington, which offered the Iraqi dictator a helping hand when his legions faced apparent defeat.
Today Democracy Now! also devoted significant attention to Iraq. We'll attempt to note some of that in tomorrow's snapshot. Turning to England, at Iraq Inquiry Digest, Chris Ames notes this from the Telegraph of London: "Mr Blair says he was angry at being asked when giving evidence to the Iraq Inquiry led by Lord Chilcot earlier this year if he regretted anything. He writes that he took a conscious decision to give an answer that was incomplete so he would avoid a headline, 'Blair apologises for war'." Chris points out, "Blair justifies giving a public inquiry an incomplete answer because he was concerned about the headlines. Very Blair. But if you justify acting in that way for that reason, why would anyone believe anything else that you said?"

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Mission Fail

As Barack babbled away in front of those ugly, ugly curtains tonight, I was struck by not only what a liar he is but how stupid he is.

As we do, I am mindful that the Iraq War has been a contentious issue at home. Here, too, it is time to turn the page. This afternoon, I spoke to former President George W. Bush. It's well known that he and I disagreed about the war from its outset. Yet no one could doubt President Bush’s support for our troops, or his love of country and commitment to our security. As I have said, there were patriots who supported this war, and patriots who opposed it. And all of us are united in appreciation for our servicemen and women, and our hope for Iraq's future.

Hey, dumb ass, why don't you just shut up. Those of us working in the medical field knew damn well that Bush was deliberately lying about the funding needs of the returning veterans. No, he didn't give a damn about them. In fact, one of the reasons I was glad to vote for John Kerry was because Kerry pointed this out.

As Kerry pointed out in the third debate, Bush refused to fully fund VA care or the VA hospitals. That is not, pay attention, Barack, supporting veterans.

We didn't need the Christ Child trying to walk on water with his little one incher hanging out the front of his pants. But that's what we got. Princess Tiny Meat.

Watching him speak in that pompous manner, I was reminded of the rumors of his abusive nature. I fully believe it after seeing him tonight.

Ruth's "The scroll" is worthy of a read. Think about what she's writing. I happen to agree with her. A nation-state does not own the works of the people. The people own the works. This can be clearly seen in the revulsion over the way early "Americans" robbed Native Americans' culture.

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):

Tuesday, August 31, 2010. Chaos and violence continue, Barack prepares to give a big speech (which won't end the war), Iraqis are less than impressed, the CIA had the biggest office where?, the War Hawks and War Whores crawl out of the woodworks, and more.
As Barack prepares to speak tonight about the Iraq War, the world learns that blood for oil worked out very good for Halliburton. Dick Cheney's cesspool has landed a contract. AP reports it is "from Italian firm Eni" for an Iraqi oil field. Reuters adds Eni wants Halliburton "to help squeeze more oil from 20 wells in the Zubair field in southern Iraq." Dick Cheney spent 8 years running and ruining the US government while Bully Boy Bush struggled with his addicition to games of dress up. John Dickerson (Slate via CBS News) weighs in on how Bully Boy Barack's helping out Bully Boy Bush, "As for Obama, he is not consciously trying to improve the public's view of the Bush years. Indeed, he is actively reminding people of the mess he inherited from his predecessor. It is a key theme of the entire Democratic campaign. At the same time, as Obama demonstrates the natural limits of presidential action, he unwittingly adds perspective to assessments of what President Bush could do. As he benefits from policies he once opposed--such as the surge in Iraq, which helped make tomorrow's speech possible -- Obama proves that even a smart politician with the best of intentions can be wrong. And as he champions making tough calls even in the face of popular opposition, he often sounds eerily like his predecessor." Maybe they discussed that in their phone call to one another today?
Simon Jenkins (Guardian) provides some truths that may go missing in tonight's speech by Barack.
As his troops return home, Iraqis are marginally freer than in 2003, and considerably less secure. Two million remain abroad as refugees from seven years of anarchy, with another 2 million internally displaced. Ironically, almost all Iraqi Christians have had to flee. Under western rule, production of oil -- Iraq's staple product -- is still below its pre-invasion level, and homes enjoy fewer hours of electricity. This is dreadful.
Some 100,000 civilians are estimated to have lost their lives from occupation-related violence. The country has no stable government, minimal reconstruction, and daily deaths and kidnappings. Endemic corruption is fuelled by unaudited aid. Increasing Islamist rule leaves most women less, not more, liberated. All this is the result of a mind-boggling $751bn of US expenditure, surely the worst value for money in the history of modern diplomacy.
The News Chief editorial board notes that this is the second time the US government has declared combat operations over and points out, "Now we are proclaiming the end of 'formal combat operations,' meaning that what the troops do will be either reactive or in support of Iraqi troops. It still will be combat." Anne E. Kornblut (Washington Post) reports on the advance swirl around the speech:

"Maybe he's entitled to the partial victory lap, but this is not the right moment for it," said analyst Michael O'Hanlon of the Brookings Institution, who has been critical of both Democratic and Republican approaches to the war. "If I were him, I'd wait until we have an Iraqi government, and do it with the Iraqis together."
O'Hanlon said he was "confused about the planned Oval Office speech." It could raise unrealistic expectations among the public about the chances for calm in Iraq, he said. And the timing of the pullout of combat troops may be seen as having more to do with the president's political needs than with real signs of progress on the ground.
Jason Ditz ( observes, "Less than two weeks ago Americans were glued to their TVs for footage of the 'last brigade' of US soldiers withdrawing from Iraq. With embedded MSNBC journalists and in-studio officials trumpeting a military victory, an America exultant in having finally "won" the war, it was extremely successful, and that 50,000 US troops are still there and hundreds of Iraqis have died since the announcement was really only a minor hiccup. It was so successful, in fact, that the Obama Administration has decided to do it again, which is one of the advantages fake endings of wars have over actual endings."
In Iraq, desperate not to be John Howard at the War Dance -- the former Australian prime minister tried very hard to hop on Bush but Tony Blair was always in Bush's lap -- Nouri al-Maliki decided to hold his own little press conference and ensure he was not the wallflower of the news cycle. Reuters reports that Nouri crowed on Iraqi TV, "Iraq today is sovereign and independent." Was the would-be New Saddam announcing he was stepping down as prime minister -- something the people and the politicians want? No. He was ignoring that and ignoring the fact that his term of office expired sometime ago. He was, however, hiding behind the semantics that will allow US President Barack Obama to lie to the American people tonight and declare the Iraq War over. Anna Fifield (Financial Times of London) points out, "Mr Maliki, the leader of the Shia State of Law party has refused to relinquish the prime ministership, six months after March elections which saw the Iraqiya coalition, a secular alliance led by Iyad Allawi, his rival, win the most seats." Al Jazeera's Mike Hanna observes, "Nouri al-Maliki is essentially a caretaker prime minister. There is no government in place." March 7th, Iraq concluded Parliamentary elections. The Guardian's editorial board notes, "These elections were hailed prematurely by Mr Obama as a success, but everything that has happened since has surely doused that optimism in a cold shower of reality." 163 seats are needed to form the executive government (prime minister and council of ministers). When no single slate wins 163 seats (or possibly higher -- 163 is the number today but the Parliament added seats this election and, in four more years, they may add more which could increase the number of seats needed to form the executive government), power-sharing coalitions must be formed with other slates, parties and/or individual candidates. (Eight Parliament seats were awarded, for example, to minority candidates who represent various religious minorities in Iraq.) Ayad Allawi is the head of Iraqiya which won 91 seats in the Parliament making it the biggest seat holder. Second place went to State Of Law which Nouri al-Maliki, the current prime minister, heads. They won 89 seats. Nouri made a big show of lodging complaints and issuing allegations to distract and delay the certification of the initial results while he formed a power-sharing coalition with third place winner Iraqi National Alliance -- this coalition still does not give them 163 seats. They are claiming they have the right to form the government. In 2005, Iraq took four months and seven days to pick a prime minister. It's now 5 months and 24 days. Phil Sands (National Newspaper) notes that if the stalemate continues through September 8th, it will then be a half a year since Iraqis voted. Yesterday, Anthony Shadid (New York Times) reported that the top US commander in Iraq, Gen Ray Odierno, is stating that the political stalemate could cause harm and "I worry about that a little bit." AFP quotes the Supreme Islamic Council of Iraq's Ammar al-Hakim stating, "We have started to reach the end of the tunnel. In the next few days, we are heading toward resolving the issue and accelerating the formation of a new government."
Jasim Al Azzawi (Gulf News) feels that Allawi has three reasons to refuse to take second place to Nouri including his age (could be his last chance to again become prime minister), Iraqiya (which won't want a second place role after winning the most votes) and
waiving Nouri through comes with "no guarantees that his [Allawi's] future decisions and actions will not be reversed and nullified by Al Maliki's powerful generals in charge of security and intelligence services. Given his limited options, Allawi's strategy is to stay firm, watch Al Maliki stew in his own juice and wait for him to commit a blunder." Meanwhile Zhang Xu (Xinhua) reports, "Arab and Islamic countries, basically Egypt and Turkey, should send peace-keeping troops to Iraq with the coordination of Arab League, Iraq's cross-sectarian Iraqia List bloc's media official Ahmad al-Dileimi told Xinhua in an exclusive interview in Damascus on Sunday." If you're late to the party on Iraq's attempts at elections, Xiong Tong (Xinua) provides a comprehensive overview here. Meanwhile Alsumaria TV reports that there are rumors that Al Iraiqya has internal disagreements "over the government formation" but that the spokesperson Haidar Al Mulla denies the rumors. Siobhan Gorman (Wall St. Journal) reports that unnamed "US spy officials" are concerned over Iraq's inability thus far to form a government and notes that "eyes and ears" have een provided in Iraq by "spy agencies like the National Security Agency and the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency" and the unnamed "official . . . declined to say how many officers from the spy agencies will be moved out of Iraq. Until this year, Baghdad, for example, was the Central Intelligence Agency's largest station, and it's now been eclipsed this year by Afghanistant." Reuters notes that Ben Rhodes declared on Air Force One today that, "Iraq should move forward with a sense of urgency." Who is Rhodes? The White House Deputy National Security Adviser. Remember, pay attention to who's in charge of Iraq -- it's the US national security group. Reporting on the increase in murders in Iraq, Usama Redha and Ned Parker (Los Angeles Times) explain, "But like other killings and assassinations in a wave of violence that has crept up on Iraq during an unnerving political stalemate, no one really knows who the "bad men" are. Was Fakher killed by a Sunni Arab insurgent group like Al Qaeda in Iraq, or a Shiite Muslim militia like the one that once controlled the neighborhood, or did the attack stem from a personal feud? Iraqis are left muttering one word, vague yet ominous: Terrorists, the television announcer intoned about Fakher's killers. Terrorism, police recorded in their books. It was terrorists, his parents say."
Marie Colvin (Sunday Times via the Australian) examines Sahwa -- aka Sons of Iraq, Awakenings -- and explains they are both "angry and disillusioned" and, "Many have not been paid for two months. They believe their job prospects have diminished because they are not favoured by the Shi'ite dominated government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. Mudhir al-Mawla, the official responsible for integrating the 52,000 members of the Sons of Iraq, confirms that the process has been frozen for a year. Worse, the militia is being targeted by a resurgent al-Qa'ida, particularly in Anbar province, including Fallujah. Here al-Qa'ida is offering young men $US200 ($224) a time to take part in attacks, a huge sum in a city with few jobs." And this comes, as Nafia Abdul Jabbar (AFP) noted, at a time when "[d]ozens of fihters, who helped avert a civil war and were crucial to curbing Iraq's sectarian violence when it peaked in 2006 and 2007, have been killed in recent months in acts of retaliation." Barbara Surk and Rebecca Santana (AP) remind, "The Sunni militias, also known as the Sons of Iraq, were a key element in turning the tide against Sunni-led terrorist groups such as al-Qaida, and the American military began paying the militias to fight on their side. That responsibility now lies with the Iraqi government, which is also supposed to incorporate many of them into government ministries. But many Sons of Iraq complain the government is turning its back on the militias, failing to pay them on time or find them good jobs."
Yesterday on Uprising, Sonali Kolhatkar spoke with Hadani Ditmars about the so-called 'end' of the Iraq War. Excerpt:
Hadani Ditmars: Of course, there's still a huge US presence in Iraq. An embassy the size of Vatican City, several desert bases that are going to remain. I think we really shouldn't be focusing so much on the 'withdrawal.' What we should look at are the larger systemic issues. The huge humanitarian catostrophe that Iraq is-is experiencing at the moment where seven years after the invasion, as you can read about in the new issue of New Internationalist which I traveled back to Baghdad in February, March to write and photograph. Seven years later the legacy of this invasion is that 43% of Iraqis live in abject poverty, 70% don't have access to clean drinking water, huge unemployment rate, terrible security situation, drastic decline in the status of women and a secular society that has become Islamicized in a bad way -- I mean, I don't even want to call is Islamicized, just militia rule has become the norm. So I think we have to look at these larger underlying issues. I don't think that the so-called withdrawal is really going to effect those issues one way or another. It could have a shorterm, as it has in the past several weeks. upswing in violent attacks, further deterioration of the security situation. But the underlying issues and the underlying damage that has been done by this disastorous invasion and occupation are still there, still need to be addressed.
Sonali Kolhatkar: What is the so-called advisery role that the US troop will play to the Iraqi army. What dot that mean?
Hadani Ditmars: Well, you know, I don't work for the Pentagon so I can't tell you exactly, but I assume it's going to be a very hands-on approach rather than arms' length. At the same time there is a sense of abandonment. I mean, I'm sure you read the Tariq Aziz interview in the Guardian a few weeks ago where he said that Iraq is not ready and that the Americans by withdrawing are abandoning Iraq to the wolves. Well I would say that Iraq has already been abandoned to the wolves, sadly. So this could just make a bad situation worse. It's not really a full withdrawal. It's not really the end of ocupation. But in terms of an advisory role perhaps there will still be some sort of military advice going on. It's really just kind of window dressing, as I say, for the larger issues. There's still a political power, there's still a huge issue around sectarian violence and the sectarian strife. You know, it's a bit frustrating when you've been covering Iraq for as long as I have -- since 1997 -- that the media in the West is primarily interested in Iraq when there's some news that is really more about America than Iraq, you know? When there's been a bombing, or even the elections which were kind of pseudo democratic I would say, there was a flurry of media interest in Iraq. But it's very difficult to get people interested in the status of women and how it's declined drastically or in the larger issue of how this once secular society has become radicalized and fundamentalist, etc. So, yeah, you know, I think obviously the $53 billion that's been spent on "aid," a lot of that has gone to military hardware in the name of military advisory activity. A lot of that has gone into the pockets of American military contractors. And, of course, to this growing army of mercenaries.
Sonali Kolhatkar: And I want to ask you about that privatizing -- further privatizing of the occupation. But first, what do ordinary Iraqis -- what is the view of most Iraqis? Obviously, it's not going to be homogenius but if you can give us a sense of what most Iraqis think about the security situation in their county it would be helpful
Hadani Ditmars: Well I don't know if you read the issue that I wrote and photographed but there was a sixty-eight-year-old architect, Muwafaq al-Taei, a former Saddam-era town planner and he's quite an interesting fellow because as he was being forced to build these terrible villas for Saddam, he was also a Communist and a Shia so he was being spied on at the same time. So he was almost killed by US troops post-invasion when he was doing a project with the Marsh Arabs. So he's rather philosophical as are many Iraqis. And he says in the issue that Iraqis always sort of make do and anarchy is the mother of invention and we'll get through this. But, you know, there's this incredible sort of resilience that people have which I just find staggering really because the average Iraqi has been through so much. At the time of elections, they were -- they were quite cynical about what was going on -- and rightly so because there was nothing really in the way of campaign finance laws. There were incumbents like Ahmed Chalabi who were simultaneously running for office and at the same time nixing the bids of rival opponents under the auspices of the infamous de-Ba'athification Commission. Government forces were rounding up opponents and jailing them under trumped up terrorism charges. So, you know, some Iraqis -- a lot of Iraqis I met were not voting and they were quite cynical about it. At the same time, when the polling stations were being bombed, this sort of encouraged Iraqis to actually get out and vote -- almost in spite of what was going on. Lately when I've been speaking with Muwafaq in Baghdad, he just says, "Well we're just getting on with it, you know, the country isn't really being run by the politicians, it's being run by the Iraqi people and we're just trying our best to make do." It's almost like they've been set a drift. They have no real functioning state. And this is really a contrast from, of course, the Ba'athist when the state was the great provider, when Iraq had the best public health and education system in the Arab world. Having said that, the state still remains the main employer. So it's -- it's really sad to see what's happened to the country. Going back even for the first time in seven years, I was shocked to see how Baghdad had been so completely broken and colonized and walled off into sectarian neighborhoods. If you look at the fact spread, in the May issue of the New Internationalist, there's some quite damning statistics. But there's also a very telling map of Baghdad -- one from 2003, before the invasion, one from 2008. And I don't know if you had a chance to look at that but you'll see that in 2003 most of the neighborhoods were mixed -- meaning Sunni, Shia, Christian, Muslim, Arab, Kurd. After the invasion, in 2008, the majority of the -- in particular after the sectarian wars of 2006 and 2007, most of Baghdad neighborhoods were sectarian enclaves and the majority Shia. So the whole social fabric of -- not to mention the political landscape has shifted radically. And Iraqis are really, I think, just left reeling from it all and trying to struggle for daily survival.
Marco Werman: Jane Arraf is in Baghdad for the Christian Science Monitor. She says Iraqis have mixed feelings about this transition.
Jane Arraf: Now everybody here wants to see occupation forces gone. That's indisputable. They don't like seeing American soldiers in the street. They don't like seeing any foreign soldiers in the street. It's fairly natural. But having said that, there is a real sense here that this is still a broken country and it was the Americans, pretty much, who broke it. That's the feeling in the streets. And until they fix it, they shouldn't just leave. Now the US will say -- US officials who are here will say they're not just flipping a switch, they're not just leaving, they're going to remain engaged. That doesn't actually mean a lot to people in the street because really what matters to them is, "Are the car bombs going off? Are those rockets being fired?" Is there a sense that someone will protect them? Increasingly that's looking towards the borders.
Jane Arraf (CSM via McClatchy Newspapers) reports, "In Baghdad, all leave for Iraqi soldiers and police was canceled, and new checkpoints were set up across the city, adding another level of frustration to Iraqis struggling to get through 115-degree heat amid power cuts and water shortages - many of them fasting during the holy month of Ramadan." For The NewsHour (PBS -- link has transcript, audio and video), Margaret Warner reported from Iraq last night:
MARGARET WARNER: After nearly two years of steadily declining bloodshed, violence has been on the uptick for the past two months. The Iraqis are in charge of security in the cities and their main line of defense are checkpoints like these.
CAPT. MOHAMMED RADEWI, Iraqi Army (through translator): For the present moment, the situation is unstable, and the army is using these checkpoints to control the situation.
MARGARET WARNER: Iraqi checkpoints themselves are becoming targets, as they were last week in a string of attacks aimed at undermining Iraqis' confidence in their government and security forces. Baghdad resident Janan Jezma was gloomy when asked about the U.S. force drawdown.
JANAN JEZMA, resident of Baghdad: I think we need America here. We need America here. I think so.
MARGARET WARNER: One city that has had its fill of American troops is Fallujah, west of Baghdad, in the heart of the Sunni Triangle.
If you'd like to ask Margaret Warner a question about Iraq click here. The NewsHour's Rundown News Blog is collecting question. At the program's blog today, Larisa Epatko features the voices of five Iraqis on how they see the future of their country.
-- after
US House Rep Ron Paul delivered the following (and you can hear the audio at
Amid much fanfare last week, the last supposed "combat" troops left Iraq as the administration touted the beginning of the end of the Iraq War and a change in the role of the United States in that country. Considering the continued public frustration with the war effort and with the growing laundry list of broken promises, this was merely another one of the administration's operations in political maneuvering and semantics in order to convince an increasingly war-weary public that the Iraq War is at last ending. However, military officials confirm that we are committed to intervention in that country for years to come, and our operations have, in fact, changed minimally, if really at all.
After eight long, draining years, I have to wonder if our government even understands what it is to end a war anymore. The end of a war, to most people, means all the troops come home, out of harm's way. It means we stop killing people and getting killed. It means we stop sending troops and armed personnel over and draining our treasury for military operations in that foreign land. But much like the infamous "mission accomplished" moment of the last administration, this "end" of the war also means none of those things.
50,000 U.S. troops remain in Iraq, and they are still receiving combat pay. One soldier was killed in Basra just last Sunday, after the supposed end of combat operations, and the same day 5,000 men and women of the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment at Fort Hood were deployed to Iraq. Their mission will be anything but desk duty. Among other things, they will accompany the Iraqi military on dangerous patrols, continue to be involved in the hunt for terrorists, and provide air support for the Iraqi military. They should be receiving combat pay, because they will be serving a combat role!
Of course, the number of private contractors -- who perform many of the same roles as troops, but for a lot more money -- is expected to double. So this is a funny way of ending combat operations in Iraq. We are still meddling in their affairs, we are still putting our men and women in danger, and we are still spending money we don't have. This looks more like an escalation than a drawdown to me!
The ongoing war in Iraq takes place against a backdrop of economic crisis at home, as fresh numbers indicate that our economic situation is as bad as ever, and getting worse! Our foreign policy is based on an illusion: that we are actually paying for it. What we are doing is borrowing and printing the money to maintain our presence overseas. Americans are seeing the cost of this irresponsible approach as our economic decline continues. Unemployed Americans have been questioning a policy that ships hundreds of billions of dollars overseas while their own communities crumble and their frustration is growing. An end to this type of foreign policy is way overdue.
A return to the traditional American foreign policy of active private engagement and non-interventionism is the only alternative that can restore our moral and fiscal health.
All the liars and whores try desperately to spin today. For example, BBC's Mark Mardell who today wants to scribble about the Iraq War being right. He whored yesterday, he whores today. He wants you to know the illegal war was right because, get this, Richie Armitage told him that. Read in vain for any reminder that Richie is the chatty gossip who helped out Valerie Plame. You won't find out about that. The War Hawk Richie gets to spin and, unlike when he was almost in trouble (and should have been), there's no effort to lie and claim he was ever against the Iraq War. (That was the cover story, if you've forgotten: Why would he intentionally out Plame, he was against the war!) Mark Mardell drools over Richie ("hardman," "massively built," "arms and shoulders muscled") and you just have to wonder what Richie did to get such fawning press.

All the whores are grabbing a street light apparently. For example it's hard to tell which is more disgraceful, Paul Woflowitz for attempting to lie yet again or the New York Times for printing his garabage? Then again, there's something symbolic about the two public menaces who helped sell the illegal war coming together today.

But it's not just the New York Times. US House Rep Howard P. McKeon, a War Hawk from the Republican side of the aisle, gets to whine in the Los Angeles Times that Congress better keep funding Iraq, it just better. Are you starting to notice how nothing has changed?

The Iraq War is not ending. And not a damn thing's been learned. The liars and pushers are invited back by the media and the closest to an 'expanded' point of view the media wants to provide is apparently NPR's Morning Edition bringing on White House plus-size spokesmodel Robert Gibbs to 'talk' Iraq with Steve Inskeep. (Inskeep did ask some needed questions but tubby Gibbs danced around them.) It's left to Peter Bergen (CNN) to point out:
It also bears recalling that almost none of the goals of the war as described by proponents of overthrowing Saddam were achieved:
-- An alliance between Saddam and al Qaeda wasn't interrupted because there wasn't one, according to any number of studies, including one by the Institute for Defense Analyses, the Pentagon's internal think tank. Indeed, it was only after the US-led invasion of Iraq that al Qaeda established itself in the country, rising by 2006 to become an insurgent organization that controlled most of Sunni Iraq.
-- There was no democratic domino effect around the Middle East. Quite the opposite; the authoritarian regimes became more firmly entrenched.
-- Peace did not come to Israel, as the well-known academic Fouad Ajami anticipated before the war in Foreign Affairs. Ajami predicted that the road to Jerusalem went through Baghdad.
-- Nor did the war pay for itself as posited by top Pentagon official Paul Wolfowitz, who told Congress in 2003 that oil revenues "could bring between 50 and 100 billion dollars over the course of the next two or three years. We're dealing with a country that could really finance its own reconstruction, and relatively soon." Quite the reverse: Iraq was a giant money sink for the American economy.
-- The supposed threat to the United States from Saddam wasn't ended because there wasn't one to begin with. And in his place arose a Shia-dominated Arab state, the first in modern history.
With few exceptions, all we're hearing from are the War Hawks and no one's supposed to notice that. No one's supposed to notice that the same whores who sold the illegal war are invited to weigh in again. Where are the voices of peace? Where are the voices of those who were right about the illegal war? Watch, listen and read in vain at most outlets. One who was right, Phyllis Bennis (Foreign Policy In Focus), issues the following statement:

The U.S. occupation of Iraq continues on a somewhat smaller scale, with 50,000 troops. These are combat troops, "re-missioned" by the Pentagon with new tasks, but even Secretary of Defense Gates admits they will have continuing combat capability and will continue counter-terrorism operations. The 4500 Special Forces among them will continue their "capture or kill" raids while building up the Iraqi Special Operations Forces as an El Salvador-style death squad.
The only transition underway is not from U.S. to Iraqi control, but from Pentagon to State Department deployment. Thousands of new military contractors, armored transport, planes, "rapid response" forces and other military resources will all be shifted from Pentagon to State Dept control, thus remaining within the terms of the U.S.-Iraqi Status of forces Agreement that calls for all U.S. troops and Pentagon-controlled mercenaries to leave by the end of 2011.
President Obama's speech will not use any terms remotely close to "mission accomplished" -- because with violence up, sectarianism rampant, the government paralyzed, corruption sky-high and rising, oil contracts creating more violence instead of national wealth, there is no victory to claim.
We'll close with this from David Swanson's "Peace Movement Pushes for End to War on Iraq" about a forum over the weekend focusing on Iraq (Phyllis Bennis was at the forum, use link for full report):

The second and last panel included:
Josh Stieber, Iraq Veterans Against the War
David Swanson, author
Bill Fletcher, labor leader, scholar
Medea Benjamin, CODEPINK and Global Exchange

Stieber discussed, from the point of view of a soldier who believed the war lies and came to reject them, the incoherence of the bundle of excuses for this war that we've all been offered. On the one hand this is a war to kill evil Muslims. On the other hand it's a war to spread human rights. We help people out by bombing them, something Stieber said many U.S. soldiers end up joking about, most of them quickly losing any belief in the morality of their cause.

I argued for voting out of office those who fund the wars, and for holding the war makers criminally and constitutionally responsible, including through launching an effort to impeach Jay Bybee and open up a congressional review of war lies and the crime of aggression.

Bill Fletcher picked up where Head-Roc had left off, arguing for the need to make peace not just a preference people have when a pollster asks them, but something that resonates with them as central to the betterment of their daily lives. He pointed to the Chicano Moratorium exactly 40 years earlier as a movement to learn from.

Medea Benjamin inspired, as always, with tales of recent activism by CODE PINK to oppose the war funding, to build alliances, and to hold accountable war criminals including Karl Rove and Erik Prince. And she pushed for participation on a massive scale in the march on October 2nd: