Today we learned that Leon Panetta, former CIA director and current Secretary of Defense, has stated troops in Iraq beyond December 31st is a done deal. There should be universal outrage. Instead, watch for silence aas the usual suspects pretend not to notice.
The Libyan War goes on as well. C.I.'s snapshot is huge. It was even bigger at one point. One of the things she had to edit out was something she slid over to me. She did the transcription so give her the credit.
Kevin Pina: Well today NATO backed troops in Libya claimed they'd taken the last key oil facility in Zawiya as bombs continue to fall on Tripoli. Support for the Libyan government remains strong throughout the west as reports are claiming even as fears grow of a larger military assault on the horizon. And joining us once again from Tripoli, Libya is our Flashpoints special correspondent Mahdi Nazemroya. Mahdi, welcome back to Flashpoints.
Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya: Thank you, Kevin.
Kevin Pina: Mahdi, we understand that there are reports now that are saying the so-called rebels, the so-called insurgents, they're alternately being called. You called it. Yesterday I saw AP refer to them as opposition forces. You actually called that one. Whatever you refer to them, what they're saying is that they've taken the key town of Zawiya which is the last of the oil centers inside Libya, as they put it, tightening the noose around Tripoli. We even hear and see articles coming out saying that the 'rebel' chiefs are fearing a bloodbath in Tripoli should they attempt to take it. What's really going on on the ground there, Mahdi? What can you tell us?
Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya: Well I can tell you just driving here in Tripoli that it's very tranquil. There's no fighting here. It's peaceful and it's calm. There was mounting psychological tension here the last couple of days but now it's gone downward. I can tell you that there is still fighting on the route from here to Tunis which is an artery for this district of Tripoli. Around Zawiya there is still fighting between the insurgents and the government forces. In Surmon everything is alright. And basically what the media is saying about Zawiya is incorrect because the rebels are to the south of the city and Zawiya district. They have not taken over the oil refinery. They have not presented any evidence for it whatsoever and Libyan television showed Zawiya and the oil refinery today as well as a number of other oil refineries and no insurgents controlling those sights.
Kevin Pina: And you're listening to Flashpoints on Pacifica Radio. And that is the voice of Mahdi Nazemroaya our special correspondent speaking to us directly from Tripoli, Libya. Mahdi is also a research assistant with the Centre for Research on Globalization based in Montreal, Canada. Now, Mahdi, we have also heard that there have been recent NATO bombings. You say it's normal there but they're also reporting in the press that just within the last 24 hours there have been large explosions heard in the capitol of Tripoli, Libya.
Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya: Well, Kevin, NATO bombs have been ongoing. I don't think there's been a day where I haven't heard them or felt the earth shake or been told about the bombings here in Tripoli or around it. They're bombing all over Libya. And last night there were very heavy bombings. There were bombings today. On my way here, there was a bombing. So NATO -- the North Atlantic Treaty Organization -- has not stopped bombing. And I want to remind listeners that most of these sites are civilian and it's mostly civilians that get killed -- like they did in Zlitan where mostly women and children were slaughtered by NATO.
Kevin Pina: And, of course, that was a report that came out last week that we spoke about yesterday where they are saying that 85 civilians were killed in an attack on Zlitan, including 33 women and how many children?
Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya: There was 33 and 32 of them were women and children.
Kevin Pina: So altogether we're talking about 65 women and children were killed in Zlitan overall?
Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya: Yes, that is correct.
Kevin Pina: So is there growing fear now that the so-called 'rebels' or insurgents -- these guys with big guns that are coming from Qatar with US money French francs in their pockets, that these guys are going to be overrunning Tripoli anytime soon?
Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya: To be dead honest with you, there is fear. This is because of the psychological dimensions of the war and the media push. There was fear the last couple of days but that fear is beginning to disappear. There was tensions, especially two days ago. There was a high amount of tensions. And the BBC today said there was going to be an airlift of foreign nationals. I've asked Libyan officials about that and they know nothing about it. So I don't know what the BBC reporters are coming up with these claims. But there was psychological tensions here, that is definite. But now it has gone away. And that psychological tension is the biggest enemy. The Libyans have been winning this war but if they give into fear that can be their downfall.
Kevin Pina: And that is the voice of Mahdi Nazemroaya, Flashpoints' special correspondent speaking to us from Tripoli, Libya. Finally, Mahdi, I know that there have been protests of millions of Libyans in Tripoli and throughout the surrounding areas in support of the Libyan government and specifically in support of Muammar Gaddafi. In many ways, we can say that we weren't hearing the truth about the extent of the popular support that Gaddafi actually still enjoys within Libya. In fact, we can say that we've been told misinformation based upon the reports that you've been giving us. But do you see, even if these so-called insurgents were able to come in to Tripoli, do you see any waning of that popular support for the Libyan government and for Muammar Gaddafi? And, if not, isn't this really going to end in a bloodbath? Isn't this going to be house-to-house fighting? Isn't this going to be a protracted battle, house-to-house, within the capitol.
Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya: Number one, I'd like to emphasize that I don't want to see any bloodshed from a personal vantage point here. From my personal perspective, I'm against that. But if they do come here, I don't think that Muammar Gaddafi's support is going to wane. I think that there will be fighting and it will be heavy and it will be protracted. Yes, there will be definite fighting and he will still have a strong base of support. Let me put it this way, Col Gaddafi is more popular in his own country -- and especially in the continent of Africa -- he's more popular in Libya and the continent of Africa than President Barack Hussein Obama is in the United States or David Cameron is in the United Kingdom or Great Britain or Northern Ireland or Nicolas Sarkozy is in the French Republic. He's far more popular here than them. It's not absolute popularity but he's far more popular than those figures and the population is not going to side with insurgents or forces that it sees as foreign proxies working for NATO in their country. You might have some elements that will switch sides. That's always a possibility. But at present, I'd have to tell you that you're going to see most of the population in Tripoli and the district of Tripoli side with him as they have for the last five to six months.
Kevin Pina: Well we're going to have to leave it there and, again, that is Mahdi Nazemroaya Flashpoints special correspondent giving us yet another insightful report on the ground from Tripoli, Libya. Mahdi, thanks again for joining us on Flashpoints.
So that is some independent Libyan War coverage and you can use the links to listen to it.
And we didn't need to invent a 'hero.' We just needed honesty. Underscored by events of today.
Because so many liars were such pathetic liars, the Iraq War goes on. And I'm not talking Judy Miller or George W. Bush. I'm talking the really pathetic: Amy Goodman, Tom Hayden, Bill Fletcher, Matthew Rothschild, Barbara Ehrenreich, Naomi Klein, John Nichols, Naomi Wolf, go down the damn list. Go down the list of all the people who swore that Barack Obama would end the Iraq War, that US troops would no longer occupy Iraq, that US troops would be gone. They lied and then they lied again. Over and over.
Spoiled brats unable to grow the hell up and deal with reality. Teeny boppers playing at politics. They dressed Barack as a god and today their false god appears to have broken the promise that they pimped so hard.
Kevin Baron (Stars & Stripes) notes that the Iraqi response is that they have not agreed to trainers but US Secretary of Defense "Leon Panetta said Friday that Iraq has already said yet to extending noncombat U.S. forces there beyond 2011, and that the Pentagon is negotiating that presence [. . . that] there is unanimous consent among key Iraqi leaders to address U.S. demands. Those demands include that Iraqis begin negotiating internally what type of U.S. training force they would like, begin a process to select a defense minister, craft a new Status of Forces Agreement and increase operations against Iranian-backed militants." Reid J. Epstein (POLITICO) refers to a transcript and quotes Panetta stating, "My view is that they finally did say yes, which is that as a result of a meeting that Talabani had last week, that all of the, it was unanimous consent among the key leaders of the country to go ahead and request that we negotiate on some kind of training, what a training presence would look like, they did at least put in place a process to try and get a Minister of Defence decided and we think they're making some progress on that front." Adam Entous (Wall St. Journal) adds:
Pentagon spokesman George Little said later that Mr. Panetta was not predicting the outcome of negotiations with the Iraqi government.
"The secretary was asked if there had been progress in our discussions with the Iraqi government since his visit six weeks ago," Mr. Little said. "He made clear that the Iraqis have said yes to discussions about the strategic relationship beyond 2011, and what that relationship might look like."
For those who have forgotten (and those who pretend to forgot -- I'm sure that's going to include a lot of people this weekend), Iraq was a major issue in 2008. Falling back to September 26, 2008, the first debate between GOP presidential candidate John McCain and Democratic Party presidential candidate Barack Obama -- independent candidate Ralph Nader and Green Party candidate Cynthia McKinney were shut out of the debates due to the inability to lie and pander. PBS NewsHour's Jim Lehrer is the moderator. From the transcript.
LEHRER: All right. Let's go another subject. Lead question, two minutes to you, senator McCain. Much has been said about the lessons of Vietnam. What do you see as the lessons of Iraq?
MCCAIN: I think the lessons of Iraq are very clear that you cannot have a failed strategy that will then cause you to nearly lose a conflict. Our initial military success, we went in to Baghdad and everybody celebrated. And then the war was very badly mishandled. I went to Iraq in 2003 and came back and said, we've got to change this strategy. This strategy requires additional troops, it requires a fundamental change in strategy and I fought for it. And finally, we came up with a great general and a strategy that has succeeded. This strategy has succeeded. And we are winning in Iraq. And we will come home with victory and with honor. And that withdrawal is the result of every counterinsurgency that succeeds. And I want to tell you that now that we will succeed and our troops will come home, and not in defeat, that we will see a stable ally in the region and a fledgling democracy. The consequences of defeat would have been increased Iranian influence. It would have been increase in sectarian violence. It would have been a wider war, which the United States of America might have had to come back. So there was a lot at stake there. And thanks to this great general, David Petraeus, and the troops who serve under him, they have succeeded. And we are winning in Iraq, and we will come home. And we will come home as we have when we have won other wars and not in defeat.
LEHRER: Two minutes, how you see the lessons of Iraq, Senator Obama.
OBAMA: Well, this is an area where Senator McCain and I have a fundamental difference because I think the first question is whether we should have gone into the war in the first place. Now six years ago, I stood up and opposed this war at a time when it was politically risky to do so because I said that not only did we not know how much it was going to cost, what our exit strategy might be, how it would affect our relationships around the world, and whether our intelligence was sound, but also because we hadn't finished the job in Afghanistan. We hadn't caught bin Laden. We hadn't put al Qaeda to rest, and as a consequence, I thought that it was going to be a distraction. Now Senator McCain and President Bush had a very different judgment. And I wish I had been wrong for the sake of the country and they had been right, but that's not the case. We've spent over $600 billion so far, soon to be $1 trillion. We have lost over 4,000 lives. We have seen 30,000 wounded, and most importantly, from a strategic national security perspective, al Qaeda is resurgent, stronger now than at any time since 2001. We took our eye off the ball. And not to mention that we are still spending $10 billion a month, when they have a $79 billion surplus, at a time when we are in great distress here at home, and we just talked about the fact that our budget is way overstretched and we are borrowing money from overseas to try to finance just some of the basic functions of our government. So I think the lesson to be drawn is that we should never hesitate to use military force, and I will not, as president, in order to keep the American people safe. But we have to use our military wisely. And we did not use our military wisely in Iraq.
LEHRER: Do you agree with that, the lesson of Iraq?
MCCAIN: The next president of the United States is not going to have to address the issue as to whether we went into Iraq or not. The next president of the United States is going to have to decide how we leave, when we leave, and what we leave behind. That's the decision of the next president of the United States. Senator Obama said the surge could not work, said it would increase sectarian violence, said it was doomed to failure. Recently on a television program, he said it exceed our wildest expectations. But yet, after conceding that, he still says that he would oppose the surge if he had to decide that again today. Incredibly, incredibly Senator Obama didn't go to Iraq for 900 days and never asked for a meeting with General Petraeus.
LEHRER: Well, let's go at some of these things ...
MCCAIN: Senator Obama is the chairperson of a committee that oversights NATO that's in Afghanistan. To this day, he has never had a hearing.
LEHRER: What about that point?
MCCAIN: I mean, it's remarkable.
LEHRER: All right. What about that point?
OBAMA: Which point? He raised a whole bunch of them.
LEHRER: I know, OK, let's go to the latter point and we'll back up. The point about your not having been...
OBAMA: Look, I'm very proud of my vice presidential selection, Joe Biden, who is the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and as he explains, and as John well knows, the issues of Afghanistan, the issues of Iraq, critical issues like that, don't go through my subcommittee because they're done as a committee as a whole. But that's Senate inside baseball. But let's get back to the core issue here. Senator McCain is absolutely right that the violence has been reduced as a consequence of the extraordinary sacrifice of our troops and our military families. They have done a brilliant job, and General Petraeus has done a brilliant job. But understand, that was a tactic designed to contain the damage of the previous four years of mismanagement of this war. And so John likes -- John, you like to pretend like the war started in 2007. You talk about the surge. The war started in 2003, and at the time when the war started, you said it was going to be quick and easy. You said we knew where the weapons of mass destruction were. You were wrong. You said that we were going to be greeted as liberators. You were wrong. You said that there was no history of violence between Shia and Sunni. And you were wrong. And so my question is . . .
LEHRER: Senator Obama . . .
OBAMA: . . . of judgment, of whether or not -- of whether or not -- if the question is who is best-equipped as the next president to make good decisions about how we use our military, how we make sure that we are prepared and ready for the next conflict, then I think we can take a look at our judgment.
LEHRER: I have got a lot on the plate here...
MCCAIN: I'm afraid Senator Obama doesn't understand the difference between a tactic and a strategy. But the important -- I'd like to tell you, two Fourths of July ago I was in Baghdad. General Petraeus invited Senator Lindsey Graham and me to attend a ceremony where 688 brave young Americans, whose enlistment had expired, were reenlisting to stay and fight for Iraqi freedom and American freedom. I was honored to be there. I was honored to speak to those troops. And you know, afterwards, we spent a lot of time with them. And you know what they said to us? They said, let us win. They said, let us win. We don't want our kids coming back here. And this strategy, and this general, they are winning. Senator Obama refuses to acknowledge that we are winning in Iraq.
OBAMA: That's not true.
MCCAIN: They just passed an electoral . . . .
OBAMA: That's not true.
MCCAIN: An election law just in the last few days. There is social, economic progress, and a strategy, a strategy of going into an area, clearing and holding, and the people of the country then become allied with you. They inform on the bad guys. And peace comes to the country, and prosperity. That's what's happening in Iraq, and it wasn't a tactic.
LEHRER: Let me see...
OBAMA: Jim, Jim, this is a big . . .
MCCAIN: It was a stratagem. And that same strategy will be employed in Afghanistan by this great general. And Senator Obama, who after promising not to vote to cut off funds for the troops, did the incredible thing of voting to cut off the funds for the troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.
OBAMA: Jim, there are a whole bunch of things we have got to answer. First of all, let's talk about this troop funding issue because John always brings this up. Senator McCain cut -- Senator McCain opposed funding for troops in legislation that had a timetable, because he didn't believe in a timetable. I opposed funding a mission that had no timetable, and was open- ended, giving a blank check to George Bush. We had a difference on the timetable. We didn't have a difference on whether or not we were going to be funding troops.
And on and on it went. We could quote in full. They aren't done yet. Because Iraq was a huge issue in 2008. Democrats used it the same way they used in 2006 to take back Congress. They used it and then they ignored it.
And Barack likes to pretend that the Iraq War ended August 31, 2010. Strange, though, the DoD counts 57 dead since that date. [PDF format warning, click here. Operation New Dawn is the name Barack gave to the post-August 31, 2010 Iraq 'adventure.'] 57 dead and he wants to pretend the Iraq War is over and that he kept his campaign promise.
57 dead and today so many whores in this country play footsie with him.
Much earlier in 2008, Barack Obama was glomming on a remark McCain made. John McCain made a comment regarding remaining in Iraq for 100 years. Back in 2008, Brian Montopoli (CBS News -- link has text and video) reported on it, noting that McCain had stated in January "Make it a hundred" to the suggestion that Bush wanted to keep US troops in Iraq for fifty years. And McCain added, "We've been in Japan for 60 years. We've been in South Korea for 50 years or so. That would be fine with me, as long as Americans are not being injured or harmed or wounded or killed." Montopoli made this call, "McCain appears to be talking about maintaining a presence in Iraq, not continuing the type of war America is now fighting." Alone among the left press, Zachary Roth (CJR) noted Barack's had lept on the "100 years" and "in doing so, Obama is seriously misleading voters -- if not outright lying to them -- about exactly what McCain said. And some in the press are failing to call him on it." Barack, as Roth points out, couldn't stop weighing in on McCain's remark. "We are bogged down in a war that John McCain now suggests might go on for another hundred years," Barack insisted and at another time, "(McCain) says that he is willing to send our troops into another hundred years of war in Iraq." And yet again, "We can't afford to stay in Iraq, like John McCain said, for another hundred years." As Roth noted, when called on it, Barack began to stop using the term war. But he continued to criticize John McCain for keeping US troops in Iraq . . . the very thing that Barack will now be doing.
People who voted for Barack thought they were voting to end the Iraq War. Remember the tent revivals, Barack yelling, "We want to end the war! And we want to end it now!" He was so fond of that moment, he used it in commercials in over 34 states during the 2008 primaries (that number may be higher, I could only confirm 34 states this evening with a friend who worked on the campaign).
And people might have known better, might have known what a liar Barack was, if the whores hadn't been out in full force. 2008 was The Year of Living Hormonally. And let's recall how that year went down because it's forgotten and unknown history for some:
Elements of the left were always going to side with Barack early on because there was a lie -- produced by fringe radicals on the left (hello, Carl!) -- that Barack was secretly a Socialist. Barack was and is a Corporatist War Hawk. I also wrongly thought that any elements of the left (other than Carl) would quickly grasp that reality after the wave of hype susided. I was wrong there too since this summer found an agitated Philip Maldari floating just that ['Barack is a Socialist!'] on KPFA thereby proving that only the dumb die hard.
In January Goody [Amy Goodman] brought the Black Agenda Report's Glen Ford on the program to discuss Barack and that was a good thing because, strangely, there had never been someone publicly critical of Barack brought on as a guest to the five times a week, hourly program. But while Barack supporters were all over the show and on solo segments or segments with other Barack supporters, bringing on Glen Ford required Goody pair him with the Barack Cultist Michael Eric Dyson. That was strange also due to the fact that, throughout 2007, Amy Goodman offered a plethora of Hillary Haters who never required 'balance' and she continued to do so as January began.
In that month alone, prior to Glen Ford, she'd already offered Robert Parry, apparently enroute to the padded room he now inhabits, insisting that 'evil' Hillary would do just what her husband did because wives behave exactly like their husbands. If, indeed, that's the case, better get the Thorazine ready for Mrs. Parry. There was never an effort made by Goody to stop the foaming at the mouth Parry and say, "Hold on a second. You have spent this decade and the bulk of the nineties writing one article after another in defense of or in praise of Bill Clinton. Why are you suddenly so scared that your deranged fantasy of Hillary being just like Bill will come true?"
You don't ask those questions. To you or me, those questions may seem basic. It's not every day, for instance, that journalist Robert Parry morphs into nutty Christopher Hitchens. But what you're forgetting is that adolescence is all about recreation. It's all about finding another identity. New hair styles are tried, new clothes, new friends, it's all about reinvention. And who but a sane person would attempt to deny Bobby Parry his shot at a second adolescence? And there were so many more important questions to ask.
Is she really going out with him?
Well, there she is. Let's ask her.
Betty, is that Jimmy's ring you're wearing?
Gee, it must be great riding with him
Is he picking you up after school today?
By the way, where'd you meet him?
I met him at the candy store
He turned around and smiled at me
You get the picture? (yes, we see)
That's when I fell for (the leader of the pack)
-- "The Leader of the Pack," written by Ellie Greenwich, Jeff Barry and Shadow Morton
Goody had another Drooling Over Barack Teeny Booper in January: Allan Nairn. Nairn wanted the whole world to know that, if asked, he would gladly be pinned by Barack but he would even settle for Barack's letterman's jacket. Here's the moment that resulted in Allan becoming a 2008 homecoming nominee:
[Allan Nairn]: He actually doesn't need to finance his campaign, to go to the hedge funds, to go to Wall Street. But he does anyway. And he does, I think, because if he doesn't, they wouldn't trust him. They might think that he's on the wrong team, and they might start attacking him. He is someone who, in terms of the money he needs for his campaign, he could afford to come out for single-payer healthcare, for example, but he doesn't. He doesn't need money from the health insurance industry, that's wasting several percentage points of the American GDP in a way that no other industrial rich country in the world does, yet he chooses not to do that, because he doesn't want to be attacked by those corporations.
This was back when everyone (except The New York Times) was lying about Barack and pretending he was being made by small donors. He was a corporatist even then and, hopefully for Allan, the blood of East Timor (Barack buddy Dennis Blair) will wash off the white formal he wore as a duchess to the Barack Ball.
Some of you are going to be upset because this is big news and I'm basically recycling. About six hours ago, I learned what Panetta said in the interview. My rage has not subsided. Were we speaking face to face, I'd say, "Let me let it rip, but let me warn you about the language." At Trina and Mike's Iraq War Study Group this evening, my presentation on this would have made Redd Foxx blush. Even now what I really want to say is to all these lying whores of the left who had no ethics at all, what I want to say is: "May you rot in eternal ___ing hell for what you have done to the children of Iraq."
And to be very clear for those late to the party, that is not a blanket attack on Barack supporters. I am talking about leaders who knew better and lied, who gamed the system and cheated and whored. I have friends who didn't rank Iraq high on their list or even at all and they voted for Barack for other reasons. That's fine. Your vote is you vote. The people I am talking about, for example, went on KPFA to provide 'debate analysis' of the debate between Barack and Hillary and all 'forgot' to reveal on air that they were for Barack. They enjoyed telling you that Hillary "cackled" because sexism is so needed on the left, apparantly. They just didn't want to tell you that they had rigged the 'analysis' and 'debate' by only inviting Barack supporters to the program. Laura Flanders and Tom Hayden and that ugly man with the little prissy girl voice and all the rest. They lied, they whored. And it is the children of Iraq who suffer for it. You will note not one of them has yet to apologize for their actions.
Scott Horton (Harper's, not Antiwar Radio's Scott Horton) was on Law & Disorder Radio this week pretending he had always known reality about Barack. You don't have to take my word for it, go back and read his 2008 ravings, check out his media appearances from that year. These are the people with blood on their hands, with the blood of Iraqi children on their hands. If they had played fair and stuck to the ethics they espoused, that would be one thing. (And some supporters of Barack did in fact do that. I'm not referring to those supporters or calling them out.) But that's not what these whores did.
And you don't want to read me dictating "whore, whore, whore" over and over. (We are a work safe site and that is one of the rare curse words we can use here.) (I have a very foul mouth and have never pretended otherwise. We are work safe so that people can read it at work without getting written up.)
So I will pick this topic up again but I can't do it right now. All I've wanted to do for the last six hours is act out Rebecca De Mornay's amazing scene as Peyton in The Hand That Rocks The Cradle, where she goes into the bathroom, grabs the plunger and tears the bathroom up. That has been my level of rage for the last six hours.
The Diane Rehm Show (second hour -- link has audio and transcript options -- both options are free to all visitors at Diane's site) addressed Iraq today -- and this was before the news of Panetta's remarks. Joining Diane for the second hour was the New York Times' Thom Shanker, McClatchy Nancy A. Youssef (who noted Iraq prior to the excerpt) and the Washington Post's David Ignatius.
Diane Rehm: Now, I'd like to move on to Iraq where there has been a particularly violent week, Thom.
Thom Shanker: Well, that's certainly true. I mean, there have been a series of complex attacks. These are not just sort of individual bombs, individual men with rifles, but series of explosions to enter compounds followed by, you know, a raiding party, which shows planning, which shows power, which shows tenacity. I think we do need to recall, though, that there was a similar spike in attacks exactly a year ago at the Ramadan period. So this is troubling. It shows the great gaps that remain in the Iraqi security forces even as America moves to draw down by the end of the year. But it was just this one individual spike. And except for the month of June, which was the highest number of American combat deaths in three years, the rate and pace of attacks has gone down this year.
Diane Rehm: Nancy, what is the controversy over Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's choice of enacting defense minister?
Nancy A. Youssef: Well, it's a sustained attack on Nouri al-Maliki, which is that he is treating the military as an extension of his own armed militia group and that he isn't taking a nationalist approach to the security of his country. You know, Monday was the deadliest day in Iraq so far this year. And I think it's worth pointing out that on August 31 of last year, the president declared the end of combat operations in Iraq. We've lost 57 U.S. troops since then. And we're -- as Thom mentioned, we're seeing these complex attacks. On Monday, they started at 7:00 a.m. and continued until 8:00 p.m. And I have to say I kept wondering, what was the motive? Is it an effort by Al-Qaida to keep the United States -- engaging the United States to force the Iraqi government to ask us to stay to keep the sort of enemy in sight, if you will? Possibly. Is it Iran's effort to keep us engaged and, some would say, entangled in Iraq? Possibly. And the reason those two extremes are there is because this wasn't just an attack on Sunnis or just on Shiite -- albeit the Shiite took a lot more of the attacks -- but it's suggested that both sides had launched these coordinated attacks. And I think, for Iraqis, it was reminiscent of those horrific days at the height of the sectarian war when scores of people would be killed on any given day.
David Ignatius: You do have an Iraq that's beset. You have Al-Qaida showing that it's still capable of extreme violence, still capable of coordinated attacks. You had the chief U.S. military spokesman in Iraq saying this week that whatever the threat posed by Al-Qaida, the biggest threat in Iraq are Shiite militias backed by Iran, which he identified as the critical problem. Everybody, knowing that U.S. troops are on their way out, wants to take credit for driving the troops out, which is -- you know, it's sorta like raiding a retreating army I think adding to the bleak picture in Iraq is the fact that Maliki, on whom the U.S. has surprisingly relied given his weakness, more than a year after the coalition agreement that got him the prime ministership in which he promised that the opposition, the Iraqiya Party could name the defense minister, has not followed through on that. And indeed appointed an acting defense minister this week, Dulaimi, who was rejected in effect by Iraqiya. In other words, he's basically welched on the deal and I think people are really upset about it.
Nancy A. Youssef: Well, he wants to retain control of the military. He wants it to stay in his hands and not risk giving it to another rival, another party to lose that control because his power, particularly with every brigade that comes -- every U.S. brigade that comes out, rests with the Iraqi military. That's his base, in a way, more than any other group in Iraq.
Diane Rehm: And at the same time, you had Turkey attacking Kurdish targets in Northern Iraq.
Thom Shanker: Right. The Kurdish separatists, you know, have been raiding from their bases in northern Iraq into Turkey. And so Turkey responded very viciously this week with counterattacks. We do have to remember, though, that, you know, if you look at the bigger picture, Turkey remains Iraq's largest trading partner. So while this is worrisome and it's a problem, it is not really affecting the bilateral relationships...
Diane Rehm: So what...
Thom Shanker: ...between the two countries.
Diane Rehm: ...what was the response by Iraq?
Thom Shanker: Well, Iraq right now is really unable -- its forces are, you know, incompetent, stretched thin. And even where they're strong, they are looking at the internal crisis, the Al-Qaida, Mesopotamia, the Shiite militias that David referred to. And one of the real problems, Diane, with a stalemate is come the end of December, all the American forces have to be out of there unless there's some sort of extension or new agreement on the status of forces. I was talking to a two-star general just yesterday who's in from Iraq and he said that nobody expects the current SOFA agreement to be extended. It's too broad --
Diane Rehm: Status of Forces Agreement.
Thom Shanker: -- exactly, to stay in place. And what the U.S. side is drawing up options for is a very limited, very narrow sort of deal, 3,000 troops, 10,000 troops to do training. And what the Iraqis really need is intelligence to find out where the bad guys are and where to go after them. That's what the Iraqis -- they have no intelligence or sustainment.
Let's grab the topic of the bombing of northern Iraq and move to that. The Iraqi Parliament is now in recess. Before going into recess yesterday, Alsumaria TV reportsa, there was "a Kurdish request to add the issue of Turkish bombarding on Irbil and Duhok provinces borders on the session's agenda. Following this request the speaker called the committee of security and defense to study the issue and to present a report about the situation after the vacation." The Turkish military is targeting the PKK. The PKK is one of many Kurdish groups which supports and fights for a Kurdish homeland. Aaron Hess (International Socialist Review) described them in 2008, "The PKK emerged in 1984 as a major force in response to Turkey's oppression of its Kurdish population. Since the late 1970s, Turkey has waged a relentless war of attrition that has killed tens of thousands of Kurds and driven millions from their homes. The Kurds are the world's largest stateless population -- whose main population concentration straddles Turkey, Iraq, Iran, and Syria -- and have been the victims of imperialist wars and manipulation since the colonial period. While Turkey has granted limited rights to the Kurds in recent years in order to accommodate the European Union, which it seeks to join, even these are now at risk." The Kurdistan Regional Government in Iraq has been a concern to Turkey because they fear that if it ever moves from semi-autonomous to fully independent -- such as if Iraq was to break up into three regions -- then that would encourage the Kurdish population in Turkey. For that reason, Turkey is overly interested in all things Iraq. So much so that they signed an agreement with the US government in 2007 to share intelligence which the Turkish military has been using when launching bomb raids. However, this has not prevented the loss of civilian life in northern Iraq. Back to Aaron Hess, he noted, "The Turkish establishment sees growing Kurdish power in Iraq as one step down the road to a mass separatist movement of Kurds within Turkey itself, fighting to unify a greater Kurdistan. In late October 2007, Turkey's daily newspaper Hurriyet accused the prime minister of the KRG, Massoud Barzani, of turning the 'Kurdish dream' into a 'Turkish nightmare'." Bloomberg News notes tensions have risen "since a general election [in Turkey] June 12, when the courts barred several pro-Kurdish candidates from entering parliament, culminating in a declaration of Kurdish autonomy last month." Todays Zaman notes threats that additional "legal action could also be taken against Kurdish politicians [in Turkey] currently boycotting parliament and accused of close links to the PKK."
Seyhmus Cakan (Reuters) notes the Turkish military continued air raids last night over northern Iraq and states this wave "marks a stark escalation of the 27-year-old conflict" between the government of Turkey and the PKK. AFP notes Turkish war planes continue bombing today "for a third straight day." Suzan Fraser (AP) quotes PKK spokesperson Ahmed Danis stating, "Our fighters left these bases a while ago and now they are in constant mobility. Therefore there were no casualties." Ergun Babahan (Hurriyet Daily News) offers the opinion that, "There is no point in calls for peace in an environment where news of the death of young people arrives every day. The administration of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK, or those who are managing it eitehr believe that they can overcome Turkey by military intrusions or they hope that they will have more popular support in an atmoshphere that becomes more anti-democratic in such a struggle." Rizgar Hemid Sindi (Rudaw) argues:
On the Turkish front, Prime Minister Receb Tayyib Erdogan has started policy reforms backed by the US and the EU. Under Erdogan's government, Turkish military generals are living their worst nightmare. Several of those who had participated in the massacre and torture of Kurds are now in prison.
Last month, the country's top army general resigned from his post, saying he could no longer protect his officers from being thrown in jail.
The largest pro-Kurdish party in Turkey, the Peace and Democratic Party (BDP), won 36 parliamentary seats in the June elections. Several TV channels have been given permission to broadcast news and other porgrasm in Kurdish. Erdogan, whose party holds the majority of seats in the Turkish parliament, has promised to amend the constitution to make it more democratic.
The situation shows that participating in municipal and parliamentary elections is a much better strategy for the Kurds.
Ivan Watson, Mohammed Tawfeeq and Yesim Comert (CNN) quote KRG spokesperson Kawa Mahmoud stating, "We always emphasize that shelling (the) Iraqi border is inconsisten with international conventions and good neighborly relations, and we consider it as intervention and disregard for the sovereignty of the Kurdish and Iraqi territory." Mahmoud also noted that Turkey's repeated bombings were harming the KRG's infrastructure.
Meanwhile Aswat al-Iraq reports US Ambassador to Iraq James Jeffrey met in the KRG with KRG President Masoud Barzani to discuss a number of issues. The ongoing air raid assault has prompted only the mildest of critiques from Nouri al-Maliki. al-Maliki and his State of Law have had much harsher criticism for Iraq's president Jalal Talabani. Alsumaria TV reports that State of Law has taken offense to Talabani's statements that Monday's bombings throughout Iraq partly resulted from Iraq's inability to name people to the security posts.
Reuters notes that Iraq's violence included a Kirkuk attack that left a police officer "seriously wounded," 1 person shot dead in Mosul, a Baghdad roadside bombing last night which left three people injured, 1 corpse discovered in Kirkuk last night, a Kirkuk sticky bombing last night which injured a police officer and his wife and 1 person shot dead in Kirkuk.
According to United for Peace and Justice's (UFPJ) Michael McPhearson, it's partly partisan politics. Many anti-war protesters were Democrats. "Once Obama got into office, they kind of demobilized themselves," and America's major media provided no momentum to reinvigorate them.
"Because he's a Democrat," said McPhearson, "they don't want to oppose him in the same way as they opposed Bush. The politics of it allows him more breathing room when it comes to the wars."
Of course, UFPJ also has been less anti-war active under Obama than Bush, not quiescent, but much less resonant than through 2008.
UFPJ "calls for an immediate withdrawal of US and NATO forces from Afghanistan with a negotiated just settlement involving international parties, including regional neighbors" when condemnation is essential.
Moreover, it says nothing about war and occupation of Iraq, not enough about Afghanistan, the lawlessness of all US wars, why they're waged, other illegal wars against Libya, Pakistan, Yemen, and Somalia, support for Israeli belligerence against Palestinians, as well as denouncing them all as Washington-sponsored imperial aggression.
Failure to do so betrays the trust of its member groups and followers. All US wars are illegal. America is responsible for daily crimes of war and against humanity in every theater. Exposing and denouncing them is the first crucial step to arousing public anger enough to stop them.
I'm so sick of the liars of United for Peace & Justice. The day after the 2008 election, they posted their litte 'everything is beautiful, go home' post and then they want to whine about the state of the movement today as if they had no part in it. For almost three years now, they have remained silent and done nothing. Not only have that not staged a convincing protest, they've failed to support the genuine efforts of people like Cindy Sheehan. They couldn't be bothered offering even just 'online support' to any of Cindy's actions. In a column on the financial costs of war, Linda Greene (Bloomington Alternative) writes about an October event of Cindy's:
Sheehan is the mother of Spc. Casey Sheehan, who was killed in action in the Iraq war on April 4, 2004. Since then, she has become an activist for peace and human rights.
Sheehan travels and speaks widely and has returned recently from France and Japan. The author of five books, she is currently writing her sixth, on Hugo Chavez, Venezuela and the Bolivarian revolution. She is also the host of her own radio show, Cindy Sheehan's Soapbox.
For Sheehan, war is also an environmental issue. "The U.S. military is both the largest polluter in the world and the largest consumer of fossil fuel," she says. "The current U.S. military missions not only pollute the world using conventional weaponry, but the war machine's increasing use of weapons and equipment enhanced with depleted uranium is also contaminating the planet and further compromising the delicate balance of life."
This will be Sheehan's first visit to Bloomington.
The talk, sponsored by the Bloomington Peace Action Coalition, the Bloomington branch of the Women's International League for Peace & Freedom, the 9/11 Working Group of Bloomington, and the Just Peace Task Force and Green Sanctuary Task Force on Global Climate Change of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Bloomington, commemorates the 10th anniversary of the start of the Afghanistan war, Oct. 7.