Friday, December 11, 2015

Senator Claire McCaskill is a pig

That's the reality.

You may remember her attack on GAME OF THORNS earlier this year -- she was so offended by the sexual violence.

All her grandstanding did was remind me of how she betrayed women veterans last year:

Military rape survivor: Sen. McCaskill betrayed us – The ...

thelead.blogs.cnn.com/.../military-rape-surviv...
The Lead with Jake Tapper
Mar 7, 2014 - Sen. Claire McCaskill led the effort to defeat Gillibrand's bill, a move ... founded "Women Veterans Social Justice," a non-profit that provides ...

[VIDEO] CNN: Military rape survivor: Sen. McCaskill ...

www.protectourdefenders.com/video-cnn-military-rape-survivor-sen-mc...
Mar 10, 2014 - [VIDEO] CNN: Military rape survivor: Sen. McCaskill betrayed us ... Committee Member, Veteran, and Founder of Women Veterans Social Justice, ... Sen. Claire McCaskill led the effort to defeat Gillibrand's bill, a move military ...



So I was at the Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on Wednesday and found Claire to be her usual pig self.

The topic was Iraq and Syria.

But pig Claire couldn't focus on that because she was too busy misusing her time for questioning to instead pimp for Hillary Clinton's 2016 presidential run.

She was stomping her feet about Senator Ted Cruz, a Republican, and how he was not at the hearing.

I asked C.I. did the pig do that in 2008?

When there were hearings held by Committees she served on, did she have a hissy fit that Barack Obama, a senator at the time, was not present?

No.

But she's just a political whore grandstanding.

She got even piggier as she wanted the American people to believe that the air bombings the US is carrying out in Iraq are safe.

Cruz wants carpet bombings, she insisted, and that would endanger civilians ("women and children") but Barack's doing the right thing which is safe and precise.

Sell that lie elsewhere, you damn pig.


Claire is and remains trash.





"Iraq snapshot" (THE COMMON ILLS):
Thursday, December 10, 2015.  Chaos and violence continue, the State Dept's John Kirby attempts to humiliate and attack a woman in a briefing today, Secretary of Defense Ash Carter inadvertently explains how fear of the 'alternative' leads the US government to support despots, and much more.




Let's start with bitchy.

US State Dept spokesperson John Kirby flaunted his own stupidty when he unleashed his bitchy at today's State Dept press briefing and launched his attack on RT [RUSSIA TODAY].


State Dept. dodges RT’s question about Turkish troops in Iraq, gets personal                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      
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Gayane Chichakyan is the RT journalist who dared to ask a question.

It was a basic question and John Kirby turned into a full on bitch.

As shameful as he was, equally shameful was REUTERS whose 'reporter' rushed in to change the subject and rescue the State Dept.

Let's jump in to where Chickakryan attempts to get answers to her questions.



QUESTION: I have one more question on Turkey, please.

MR KIRBY: Okay, go ahead.

QUESTION: Thank you. Well, you were saying that it’s up to Turkey and Iraq to figure out the situation with the uninvited Turkish troops. But the U.S. does take upon itself to invite forces from other countries into Iraq and in Syria. Ash Carter was telling Congress yesterday that he personally reached out to 40 countries asking them to commit special ops for the fight and other support. The Iraqi parliament is concerned that their country is becoming this ground where different countries do what they want. The Iraqi parliament’s Security and Defense Committee is calling for the review or cancelation of the U.S. security agreement with Iraq. What does the U.S. do to address their concerns?


MR KIRBY: Address whose concerns?


QUESTION: The Iraqi parliament’s Security and Defense Committee that is now calling to review or cancel the agreement with the U.S.


MR KIRBY: I haven’t seen those reports, ma’am. We continue to work with the Iraqi Government. The troops that Secretary Carter referred to, that decision was done in full coordination and cooperation with the Iraqi Government. If you’re trying to suggest that somehow U.S. military assistance against ISIL is untoward or being done without full coordination with the Iraq Government, it’s just a completely baseless charge. And I don’t think it’s worth having any more discussions about it.


QUESTION: But you’re saying – are you saying that you’re not aware of the Iraqi parliament’s – this Security and Defense Committee’s initiative that they want to --


MR KIRBY: I haven’t seen that, no. I haven’t seen that.


QUESTION: Okay. What – the situation where the U.S. invites forces --


MR KIRBY: I’m going to give you just one more, honestly, and then that’s it. Okay?


QUESTION: Sure.


MR KIRBY: Go ahead.


QUESTION: The situation where the U.S. invites forces to Iraq and the U.S. is leading this coalition, but when something goes wrong, the U.S. says it’s none of our business, like with the Turkish troops. Let – you have to figure it out between yourselves. Should it be of no concern to Iraq?


MR KIRBY: Should what be of no concern? I love these questions that are 10 minutes long then I’m supposed to get the grain of it out of there. Should what be of no concern?


QUESTION: The fact that when something – you have this cooperation, you have this agreement, but when something goes wrong, the U.S. says it’s none of our business, like with what’s happening with the Turkish troops.


MR KIRBY: Oh, come on. Again, another ridiculous question. When have we ever said it’s none of our business?


QUESTION: You are saying that about the Turkish troops.


MR KIRBY: What I’m – no. No, I’m not. I’m saying that – I’ll say it again, okay? We want this to be worked out bilaterally between Turkey and Iraq. And the way you’re trying to twist all of this around to make it look like we’re doing something nefarious or that we’re – we’ve got some sort of inappropriate relationships here, I mean, it’s just so silly. And I can’t believe --


QUESTION: Well, am I really twisting it? You – have you --


MR KIRBY: I can’t believe, honestly, that you aren’t embarrassed to ask these questions. You have to be looking at these questions and almost laughing to yourself, don’t you? I mean, they’re absolutely crazy.


QUESTION: So --


MR KIRBY: So we are working very closely with the Abadi government, right. We are working inside a coalition of 65 nations – 65 nations that have signed up to go after ISIL in Iraq and in Syria – let me finish. You’ve had your moment. Sixty-five nations. And what we have said from the very beginning – I said it when I was at the Pentagon in uniform – is that we want any action against ISIL inside Iraq, specifically, to be done with full cooperation and coordination with the Iraqi Government and with their sovereign permission. That hasn’t changed one whit. Now there’s this dispute between Turkey and Iraq over the presence of a small number of troops, okay?


QUESTION: Should --


MR KIRBY: And we – I’ve said – I said it over the last several days and I’ll say it again: Nothing’s changed about our position about the sovereign nature of Iraq and the fact that troops operating against ISIL inside Iraq needs to be done with the Iraqi Government’s permission. And we’ve stated that publicly, we’ve stated that privately, to every member of the coalition. Nothing’s changed about that.


QUESTION: Sir --


MR KIRBY: And we want Turkey and Iraq to work this out, and they are. You are trying to find a way to make this some big divisive issue, and even the Turks and the Iraqis know that it’s not and they’re working their way through it. So let’s let them work their way through it and let the rest of everybody keep focusing on ISIL, which is what we should do, and which, by the way, the Russians aren’t doing.


QUESTION: If I may – if I may – if I may --


QUESTION: Is it – I’m sorry, should I not – should I not ask --


QUESTION: If I may – if I may --


QUESTION: Should I not be asking what the U.S. assessment of Turkey’s actions is?


MR KIRBY: You – ma’am – I’m going take this one, Arshad, then I’m going to come to you. You can – you can --


QUESTION: Should I not be asking that question? Exactly which question should I be embarrassed about, sir?


MR KIRBY: You can ask me whatever you want. I’m just stunned that you’re not embarrassed by some of the questions you ask. And I notice that --


QUESTION: Exactly which question?


MR KIRBY: I notice that RT very rarely asks any tough questions of their own government. So you can ask whatever you want. That’s the beauty of this setting, right, here at the State Department. You can come in here and ask me whatever you want, and you can be as – just as challenging as you want to be and accusatory in your questions – some of those today, absolutely ridiculous. You can do that here in the United States, but I don’t see you --


QUESTION: Which question was ridiculous, sir?


MR KIRBY: I don’t see you asking those same questions of your own government about ISIL in Syria.


QUESTION: Which of my questions was ridiculous?


MR KIRBY: And I would love to see those questions get asked.

Arshad.


QUESTION: I’d like to switch to just saying one quick word about Barry Schweid.



First, way to go Arshad Mohammed.  You're a little suck ass, aren't you?

Arshad is periodically selected as the go-to when the State Dept wants to leak and Arshad, like a declawed house tabby, earns those leaks (billed as "exclusives" and "scoops") by refusing to ever press the State Dept or practice actual journalism.


Now let's go to John Kirby's stupidity.  One more time:


QUESTION: Thank you. Well, you were saying that it’s up to Turkey and Iraq to figure out the situation with the uninvited Turkish troops. But the U.S. does take upon itself to invite forces from other countries into Iraq and in Syria. Ash Carter was telling Congress yesterday that he personally reached out to 40 countries asking them to commit special ops for the fight and other support. The Iraqi parliament is concerned that their country is becoming this ground where different countries do what they want. The Iraqi parliament’s Security and Defense Committee is calling for the review or cancelation of the U.S. security agreement with Iraq. What does the U.S. do to address their concerns?

MR KIRBY: Address whose concerns?


QUESTION: The Iraqi parliament’s Security and Defense Committee that is now calling to review or cancel the agreement with the U.S.


MR KIRBY: I haven’t seen those reports, ma’am. We continue to work with the Iraqi Government. The troops that Secretary Carter referred to, that decision was done in full coordination and cooperation with the Iraqi Government. If you’re trying to suggest that somehow U.S. military assistance against ISIL is untoward or being done without full coordination with the Iraq Government, it’s just a completely baseless charge. And I don’t think it’s worth having any more discussions about it.


QUESTION: But you’re saying – are you saying that you’re not aware of the Iraqi parliament’s – this Security and Defense Committee’s initiative that they want to --


MR KIRBY: I haven’t seen that, no. I haven’t seen that.





Is he unable to do his damn job?

He hasn't seen the reports?

As of Thursday afternoon, he knew nothing of this?



Wednesday morning at 7:56 a.m., we posted "Turkey's invasion of Iraq continues" which included:

SPUTNIK reports:

The Security and Defense Committee of the Iraqi Parliament has called for a review or cancellation of an agreement with the United States on security over Washington’s lack of a clear reaction to the worsening situation in the country, committee member Hamid al-Mutlaq told Sputnik on Wednesday.


Wednesday morning, we were aware of this.

Thursday afternoon, the US State Dept is still ignorant of it?

John Kirby looks like a stupid fool.

His ignorance does not speak well for himself or for his department.

How can they counter terrorism or practice diplomacy if they can't even follow the news cycle?  If 32 hours after a major bit of news makes it into the cycle, they still don't know what's going on, what does that say about their knowledge base or their efforts to carry out their core job functions?


John Kirby should curb his inner bitch and instead apply himself towards following the news cycle.

Not only was it in the news Wednesday morning, it is major news that the State Dept should have been following:  A member of the Iraqi Parliament's Security and Defense Committee is stating that the Committee is going to review the security agreement with the US and the State Dept is unaware of that?

This is further proof that the State Dept is unable to carry out their diplomatic mission in Iraq because they've mistaken themselves for an annex of the Defense Dept (Kirby, after all, is the former Pentagon spokesperson -- so much for rewarding diplomacy or career diplomats at State).

Whose war on women?

John Kirby decided to go full on bitch and, it's worth noting, he's never done that to a man.

But, on the State Dept payroll, he thought he had the right to attack and attempt to humiliate a journalist for asking a question.

That sort of sexism certainly applied at the Defense Dept which -- all these years later -- still can't honestly address violence against women, let alone harassment.

What a wonderful way to be an ambassador to the world: Kirby's attack on Gayane Chichakyan and attempt to humiliate her -- and to use humiliation to try to silence her -- on the world stage with the whole world watching.

That's not diplomacy.

It's also unacceptable.

There is also the issue of the revived tensions between the US government and the Russian government.  In that environment, the world doesn't need a bitchy US spokesperson attacking a Russian reporter.

Before we close this topic out, let's zoom in on this part of the exchange:


QUESTION: The situation where the U.S. invites forces to Iraq and the U.S. is leading this coalition, but when something goes wrong, the U.S. says it’s none of our business, like with the Turkish troops. Let – you have to figure it out between yourselves. Should it be of no concern to Iraq?

MR KIRBY: Should what be of no concern? I love these questions that are 10 minutes long then I’m supposed to get the grain of it out of there. Should what be of no concern?


QUESTION: The fact that when something – you have this cooperation, you have this agreement, but when something goes wrong, the U.S. says it’s none of our business, like with what’s happening with the Turkish troops.


MR KIRBY: Oh, come on. Again, another ridiculous question. When have we ever said it’s none of our business?



She's not wrong at all.

The US has done that repeatedly.

The State Dept has been one of the worst offenders.

Oh, we don't want to get into the oil disputes in Iraq -- but the central government out of Baghdad is right!!!!!!

Do you now how many times Victoria Nuland pulled that crap when she was spokesperson for the State Dept?

(To Nuland's credit, she never tried to shame a reporter -- or serve her up for public ridicule -- just for asking a question.)


Or how about the Hawaija massacre?

On one hand, you had peaceful demonstrators staging a sit-in.

On the other hand, you had the forces Nouri al-Maliki sent in to surround the square and attack the protesters.


For those who've forgotten (or maybe never knew to begin with), The April 23, 2013 massacre of a sit-in in Hawija which resulted from  Nouri's federal forces storming in.  Alsumaria noted Kirkuk's Department of Health (Hawija is in Kirkuk)  announced 50 activists have died and 110 were injured in the assault.   AFP reported the death toll eventually (as some wounded died) rose to 53 dead.   UNICEF noted that the dead included 8 children (twelve more were injured).

The State Dept's response?

To call for both sides to be civil.

Both the unarmed protesters practicing civil disobedience and the thugs who murdered them.

And, go to the archives, the Sunday before the slaughter, I wrote about the State Dept contacting me with their concerns.  They knew where this was headed: Violence.

And they did nothing.

Remember that, because we're coming back to that topic as we go into a Congressional hearing below.


Yesterday's snapshot covered some of Wednesday's Senate Armed Services Committee hearing and the testimony offered by the Vice Chair of the Joint Chiefs Gen Paul Selva and by the Secretary of Defense Ash Carter.  We also covered the money issue in "Turkey's invasion and occupation of Iraq continues..." and Mike's "So now attack helicopters" covered the hearing as well.

As noted yesterday, the White House is now offering Iraq attack helicopters and the US forces to pilot them.

Secretary Ash Carter:  Turning to northern Iraq , Pe shmerga units, with the help of U.S. air power and advisers, have retaken the town of Sinjar, cutting the main line of communication between Raqqa and Mosul, the two largest cities under ISIL’s control. To move people and supplies, ISIL now must rely on b ackroads, where we will locate and destroy them. Elsewhere in Iraq, we have about 3,500 troops at six locations in support of Iraqi Security Forces, or ISF. There, we’ve been providing increased lethal fire and augmenting the existing training, advising, and assisting program. And we’re prepared to do more as Iraq shows capability and motivation in the counter-ISIL fight and in reso lving its political divisions. After a frustratingly long time, we are starting to see some movement in the operation to re capture Ramadi. Over the past several months, the coalition has provided specialized training and equipment – including combat engineering techniques like in-stride breaching and bulldozing, and munitions like AT-4 shoulder- fired missiles to stop truck bo mbs – to the Iraqi Army and counter- terrorism service units that are now beginning to enter Ramadi neighborhoods from multiple directions. In fact, in the last 24 hours, the ISF retook the Anbar Operations Center on the northern bank of the Euphrates River across from Ramadi’s city center. This is an important step, but there is still tough fighting ahead. ISIL has counter- attacked several times , but thus far the ISF has shown resilience. The United States is prepared to assist the Iraqi Army with additional unique capabilities to help them finish the job, including attack helicopters and accompanying advisors, if requested by Prime Minister Abadi.



US President Barack Obama never ended the Iraq War and, after a low intensity breather, is now publicly expanding it yet again.


Let's note an exchange from Wednesday's hearing.



Senator Bill Nelson:  So go over to Iraq.  Is that anti-sectarianism?  Is it working with the forces on the ground that we're supporting from the air?


Secretary Ash Carter:  Well first of all, uh,  Prime Minister Abadi, I've spoken to him frequently.  I'll have the opportunity to speak to him in the coming days uuhhhh when I-I too will be visiting our-our troops in theater.  Is-is  committed  precisely to that kind of vision for Iraq.  I believe him.  I've talked to him.

Senator Bill Nelson:  Do you think that's working?


Secretary Ash Carter: Whether he can pull it off in Baghdad, that is obviously a difficult matter for him.  We are supporting him in that regard because we, uh, believe that the alternative -- which is further sectarian division, civil war, cleansing and so forth.  We've seen that before.  And if he can keep his vision of an Iraq which as he called it  is decentralized.  So it's not everybody under the thumb of Baghdad because he knows the Sunni and the Kurds won't go fot that.  But still the ability to retain an integral state that keeps peace within its borders -- that's what he's committed to --

Senator Bill Nelson:  Right.

Secretary Ash Carter (Con't):  -- that's the end state we also want in Iraq.

Senator Bill Nelson:  Right.  So it's possible with Assad leaving Syria, you could get Syria under control but everything could go haywire in Iraq?

Secretary Ash Carter:  There are two separate dynamics.  They're different dynamics.  There's one thing I'll-I'll mention that I mentioned to you when I was with you six-six weeks ago and has subsequently come to pass.  I was talking about the importance of getting the town of Sinjar.  You're talking about The territory but-but a lot of that territory is empty it's the towns that matter.  The critical crossing of Sinjar.  Now what is Sinjar?  Sinjar is a place in between Mosul and Raqaa.  And to cut ISIL into it's Syrian branch and stop from cross-feeding is a, uh, the objective, uh, of taking Sinjar.  And so in the end the political end states are different for Syria and, uh, Iraqi absolutely.



That exchange should alarm for so many reasons.

But chiefly due to Carter's insisting of Haider al-Abadi:


 We are supporting him in that regard because we, uh, believe that the alternative -- which is further sectarian division, civil war, cleansing and so forth.  


Yeah, that belief allowed the White House go overrule Iraqi voters and give Nouri al-Maliki a second term as prime minister in 2010.

And Nouri al-Maliki took Iraq to the brink of destruction in his second term.


While the US government went along with him because of their fears of "the alternative."  Ruled by fear, the US government joined Nouri in corruption and persecution.


This week, Emma Sky addressed this period in a column for CNN:


What went wrong?
The turnout for the 2010 elections was high. Polls showed belief in the political process and optimism that the country was moving beyond the sectarianism that had bedeviled it.
Iraqiyya, a coalition led by Ayad Allawi (a secular Shia), campaigned on a platform of "no to sectarianism," and "Iraq for all Iraqis." It attracted support from Iraq's Sunnis, secular Shia, and minorities. And it won the most seats in the elections.
However, Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki refused to accept the election results. He called for a recount and used Debaathification to try to disqualify Iraqiyya candidates and to annul their votes. When that failed to give him victory, he further intimidated his rivals and pressured the judiciary, underscoring his determination to remain in power.
[. . .]
Secure in his seat, al-Maliki accused Sunni politicians of terrorism, and drove them out of the political process. He also reneged on his promises to tribal leaders who had fought against al Qaeda in Iraq, arrested Sunnis en masse, and subverted the democratic institutions that were supposed to keep a check on his power. Sunni protests were violently crushed. All the while, the White House kept silent.
It was clear to anyone who followed Iraq closely that politics were breaking down -- not "breaking out" as a White House official claimed -- as al-Maliki became increasingly authoritarian and moved closer to Iran. Furthermore, the capacity and willingness of Iraqi society to contain al Qaeda in Iraq was being eroded through the assassination, detention and flight of Sunni Awakening leaders, as well as the increasing politicization of the Iraqi security forces as al-Maliki replaced leaders who he suspected of being close to the United States with ones personally loyal to him.


Earlier this year, Emma Sky's book  THE UNRAVELING: HIGH HOPES AND MISSED OPPORTUNITIES IN IRAQ   was published.


Ash Carter's insisting that Haider must be supported because of the fear of the 'alternative' is also important in terms of  a Congressional hearing last week.

We covered last week's hearing in the Tuesday December 1sts snapshot  and the Wednesday, December 3rd snapshot and in "Ash Carter spun wildly to Congress," additional reporting: Cedric's "Hank Johnson's sexual obsession with Barack" and Wally's "THIS JUST IN! HANK HIS JOHNSON!" covered US House Rep Hank Johnson wasting everyone's time to profess his strangely sexual obsession with Barack and Carter and Gen Joe Dunford refusing to indulge Johnson,  At Rebecca's site, Wally reported on Ranking Member Adam Smith  in "Even House Democrats are criticizing Saint Barack.(Wally)," at Trina's site Ava reported on the obsession with oil that was at the heart of the hearing in "It's still about the oil," Mike reported on US House Rep Niki Tsongas offering some realities about the so-called coalition in "US Armed Services Committee hearing offers a little bit of reality," Ruth reported on US House Rep John Kline's questioning which established that there was no cap on the number of US troops that could be in Iraq "Iraq still matters,"  Kat took on the surreal aspect with "The US just declared war on everyone but Santa," Elaine covered one time anti-war US House Rep Jackie Speier making an idiot of herself in statements and dress with "The idiot Jackie Speier" and Dona moderated a roundtable at Third on the hearing with "Congress and Iraq."


From that hearing, we'll note this exchange.



US House Rep Beto O'Rourke:   There's so much in those countries -- I'll just use Iraq as an example -- that we do not control, cannot control and will not be able to predict when it comes to the political outcomes and so when we say we are going to set conditions on our aid, when we say we are going to set conditions on our military presence, do we really mean that?  Is that a viable threat?  Will we really walk away from Iraq if the government there doesn't meet those conditions?  And I think that's an important question because if, in fact, we will not, then I wonder what the motivation is there for the Iraqi government to take the very important and very difficult steps to integrate these other minorities -- whether they be Kurds, whether they be Sunnis -- into a functioning government -- decentralized or otherwise?


Secretary Ash Carter: Uh, first of all with respect to the first part of your question, uhm, the -- It -- The -- Your point gets back -- is exactly the military and the political going together.  In addition to the -- The only end state that involves the lasting defeat of ISIL is one in which there are -- whether there is local governance that cannot be once again supplanted by ISIL.  That's why once again the political and the military go together -- that's the heart of the strategy and that's why enabling committed, capable forces who can make victory stick is the other part of the definition of victory, critical --


US House Rep Beto O'Rourke:  Yes.


Secretary Ash Carter (Con't):  -- to the strategy. With respect to the leverage, I'll start there in Baghdad but the leverage involves offering to do more for those who are pursuing the same objectives and withholding our support from those who are taking a different path or not going down the path they're supposed to.  So we find alternatives, we find people that can act.  If-if-if the people 
that we're dealing with are not capable of -- because we have to act and we will find such forces that are capable. 





Nouri al-Maliki was rewarded by the White House with a second term when he'd done nothing to bring Iraq together.  And after Barack Obama gave Nouri a second term in 2010, Nouri went on to further persecute the Sunnis.


When the Hawija massacre took place in April 2013?

The US State Dept and President Barack Obama were both too interested, too vested in supporting despot Nouri.

Nouri was allowed to use Iraqi forces to kill innocent civilians -- over 50 of them -- including children! -- and that was because Barack feared the 'alternative' to Nouri.



While so much of the press ignored the massacre, others stepped up.   BRussells Tribunal carried a translation of one activist who was an eye-witness to what went down:



 


I am Thamer Hussein Mousa from the village of Mansuriya in the district of Hawija. I am disabled. My left arm was amputated from the shoulder and my left leg amputated from the hip, my right leg is paralyzed due to a sciatic nerve injury, and I have lost sight in my left eye.
I have five daughters and one son. My son’s name is Mohammed Thamer. I am no different to any other Iraqi citizen. I love what is good for my people and would like to see an end to the injustice in my country.

When we heard about the peaceful protests in Al-Hawija, taking place at ‘dignity and honor square’, I began attending with my son to reclaim our usurped rights. We attended the protests every day, but last Friday the area of protest was besieged before my son and I could leave; just like all the other protestors there.

Food and drink were forbidden to be brought into the area….

On the day of the massacre (Tuesday 23 April 2013) we were caught by surprise when Al-Maliki forces started to raid the area. They began by spraying boiling water on the protestors, followed by heavy helicopter shelling. My little son stood beside me. We were both injured due to the shelling.

My son, who stood next to my wheelchair, refused to leave me alone. He told me that he was afraid and that we needed to get out of the area. We tried to leave. My son pushed my wheelchair and all around us, people were falling to the ground.

Shortly after that, two men dressed in military uniforms approached us. One of them spoke to us in Persian; therefore we didn’t understand what he said. His partner then translated. It was nothing but insults and curses. He then asked me “Handicapped, what do you want?” I did not reply. Finally I said to him, “Kill me, but please spare my son”. My son interrupted me and said, “No, kill me but spare my father”. Again I told him “Please, spare my son. His mother is waiting for him and I am just a tired, disabled man. Kill me, but please leave my son”. The man replied “No, I will kill your son first and then you. This will serve you as a lesson.” He then took my son and killed him right in front of my eyes. He fired bullets into his chest and then fired more rounds. I can’t recall anything after that. I lost consciousness and only woke up in the hospital, where I underwent surgery as my intestines were hanging out of my body as a result of the shot.

After all of what has happened to me and my little son – my only son, the son who I was waiting for to grow up so he could help me – after all that, I was surprised to hear Ali Ghaidan (Lieutenant General, Commander of all Iraqi Army Ground Forces) saying on television, “We killed terrorists” and displaying a list of names, among them my name: Thamer Hussein Mousa.

I ask you by the name of God, I appeal to everyone who has a shred of humanity. Is it reasonable to label me a terrorist while I am in this situation, with this arm, and with this paralyzed leg and a blind eye?

I ask you by the name of God, is it reasonable to label me a terrorist? I appeal to all civil society and human rights organizations, the League of Arab States and the Conference of Islamic States to consider my situation; all alone with my five baby daughters, with no one to support us but God. I was waiting for my son to grow up and he was killed in this horrifying way.



I hold Obama responsible for this act because he is the one who gave them these weapons. The weapons and aircrafts they used and fired upon us were American weapons. I also hold the United States of America responsible for this criminal act, above all, Obama.


 


That's reality.

And that's what Barack tolerated and embraced out of fear of the 'alternative.'

US House Rep Beto O'Rourke was right to ask if there is anything that will make the US government withdraw its support?

Ash Carter stammered through a lot of words but he never could provide a real answer to the question.


In the same hearing, US House Rep Adam Smith (Ranking Member of the House Armed Services Committee) noted how there's little difference for Iraqis with Haider al-Abadi replacing Nouri as prime minister (in the fall of 2014).


But Ash Carter wants to pretend otherwise.

Let's move to another exchange from this week's Senate Armed Services Committee hearing.


Senator Mazie Hirono:  What does defeating ISIS look like?


Secretary Ash Carter:  In Iraq and Syria, which I said is-i-is necessary but not sufficient, but necessary?  It means destroying their organization, their leadership, their ability to control territory, their ability to have a source of revenue and their ability to claim that they are anything but a bunch of barbaraians.  That's what eliminating them means -- that's the end state that we're seeking in Iraq and Syria.  Of course, to get that to stick brings us back to what others -- to what others have been talking about: the political dimension of it.  But for the military dimension of it, that's the point of view, that's the objective.



No one's talking about the political dimensions.


If a senator or House representative happens to ask about it, the administration avoids the issue.



From last week's House Armed Services Committee hearing:


US House Rep Loretta Sanchez:  You said that we are arming the Kurds.  The last time I spoke to [KRG President Mahmoud] Barzani, he suggested that they needed heavier duty weapons versus light arms.  And so my question -- my first question -- would be what are we arming them with?  I mean, is this really for the battlefield that they find?  Secondly,  I'd like you to address this whole issue with respect to the Iraqi army and the inability for us to get integrated -- or for Iraq's government to get it integrated.  I remember back in the -- under the Constitution and the whole issue of, for example, having a vote on the Kurd area being an independent entity, for example.  That was something that I continued to ask our military leaders at the time who were overseeing Iraq and the reality was they kept saying, 'That's the hardest part, that's the hardest part, we're going to get to it.'  And we never got to it before we were gone.  Now we see the fruits of that in that we are still not able to have a military that -- or police force -- that's very integrated.  So what do we do about that?   Uhm, so we've been taking back territory in Iraq and one of the issues that we had is it always takes additional -- I mean, we need to leave troops there or we need to leave somebody there in order to hold onto it. Otherwise, we end up losing that territory.  So what is our strategy to do that?  And the recruitment effort.  I would like -- and I'm sure that it would be not within the public realm, but I would love to get briefed on the cyber issues and how we're countering the recruitment with respect to ISIS, ISIL, whatever you want to call them. these days, from a global perspective.  But in particular are we doing anything that you can talk about in this setting with respect to the recruiting effort in the region itself?  And lastly, DIME -- Diplomacy, Intelligence, Military, Economic.  You know, it's not just military that we need here.  So, Secretary, if you could speak a little to what are some of the other efforts we're doing to counter-act what is really something we need to eliminate which is ISIS.  Thank you.

Secretary Ash Carter: Uh-uh, Congresswoman Sanchez, I'll touch two of the points and ask-ask the Chairman especially with respect -- with-with respect to arming the Kurds -- if you don't mind, Mr. Chairman -- and-and-and generally the Iraqi security forces.  Uhm, you talk about DIME?  Absolutely, it is essential that we recognize even though we -- uhh-uhh, I believe this is absolutely true -- are the center of the campaign because there must be a military defeat of ISIL.  And I also believe that, uh, Iraq and Syria since it is the heart of ISIL, we have to defeat it there.  That said, this is a global fight, it's a multi-dimensional fight, it's in the intelligence sphere, it's in the homeland security sphere, it's in the law enforcement sphere.  And I'm not going to [have] much more to say about that except that I have begun to convene, uh, with Secretary Kerry -- and I appreciate his cooperation, in this regard -- all of the agencies and going through what we're all doing -- making sure that the right hand knows what the left is. So in cyber, you're right I can't talk about it here.  I'm happy to come give you a classified briefing.  But we are linked up.  That's very important.  The FBI.  Jim Comey. Homeland Security.  The intelligence community.  Uh-uh and-and our DoD people.  Last thing I'll say is you ask, we thought about a hold force, a-uh-ugh necessity for a hold force is at the root of our strategy. Our strategy is to find, identify and enable forces that can not only take territory but hold territory because we are -- we know from the last fourteen years that that's the tricky part.  The hard part about getting victory to stick is to find people who can hold territory and govern it decently so that the likes of ISIL don't come back.  And-and as I said, they're hard to find.  They do exist but they're hard to find.  And we're going to try to make a snowball and get more. 


DIME's important, Carter insists.

But no time and effort is being expanded on it.

All the talk is of bombing, all the focus is on military.

Over the next 12 months, let's pretend the US war planes could bomb every member of the Islamic State to death.

Then what?

Because the Islamic State would continue to multiply -- and will continue to multiply.

Until you address the reasons it got a foothold in Iraq to begin with (primarily the persecution of the Sunni people), you aren't defeating the Islamic State and you're not preventing it from multiplying.


Meanwhile, Robert Burns (AP) reports on Barack's plans to send a new group of US forces into Iraq and notes:

Even the name — "specialized expeditionary targeting force" — is a bit of a riddle.
The main point is that the force is intended to ratchet up pressure on Islamic State militants by using a small group of special operations troops — possibly fewer than 100 — to more aggressively use intelligence information, including capturing and killing the group's leaders. In theory, this would generate even more and better intelligence, feeding what the military calls a "virtuous cycle" of intelligence-driven air and ground operations.


We'll close with this from the US Defense Dept:


Strikes in Iraq
Attack, bomber, fighter and remotely piloted aircraft conducted 20 strikes in Iraq, coordinated with and in support of Iraq’s government:

-- Near Huwayjah, two strikes struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed two ISIL vehicles and wounded two ISIL fighters.

-- Near Qaim, two strikes struck two separate ISIL tactical units and destroyed two ISIL vehicles.

-- Near Fallujah, one strike destroyed seven ISIL fighting positions.

-- Near Kisik, three strikes struck three separate ISIL tactical units and destroyed two ISIL vehicles and an ISIL fighting position.

-- Near Mosul, two strikes struck two separate ISIL tactical units and destroyed an ISIL vehicle and an ISIL checkpoint.

-- Near Qayyarah, one strike struck an ISIL tactical unit.

-- Near Ramadi, six strikes struck two separate ISIL tactical units and destroyed two ISIL boats, five ISIL fighting positions, three ISIL weapons caches, and four ISIL command and control nodes.

-- Near Sinjar, two strikes struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed two ISIL heavy machine guns, an ISIL fighting position, and two ISIL vehicles.

-- Near Sultan Abdallah, one strike struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed an ISIL fighting position and an ISIL vehicle.

Task force officials define a strike as one or more kinetic events that occur in roughly the same geographic location to produce a single, sometimes cumulative, effect. Therefore, officials explained, a single aircraft delivering a single weapon against a lone ISIL vehicle is one strike, but so is multiple aircraft delivering dozens of weapons against buildings, vehicles and weapon systems in a compound, for example, having the cumulative effect of making those targets harder or impossible for ISIL to use. Accordingly, officials said, they do not report the number or type of aircraft employed in a strike, the number of munitions dropped in each strike, or the number of individual munition impact points against a target.












Thursday, December 10, 2015

Put her in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame already





  • Janet Jackson belongs in the Hall.

    So many women do.

    But Janet really kicked a bloated musical landscape in its flabby ass in 1986 and she has continued to make amazing music.




    "Iraq snapshot" (THE COMMON ILLS):
    Wednesday, December 9, 2015.  Chaos and violence continue, the US government continues dropping bombs on Iraq, Turkey refuses to leave Iraq, Ash Carter announces the White House is prepared to send US troops in attack helicopters to retake Ramadi, and much more.


    Today, US Secretary of Defense Ash Carter informed the world that the White House was prepared to send US troops into battle in Iraq including with the use of helicopters.


    Carter was appearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee along side the Vice Chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen Paul Selva.


    Carter last appeared together before the House Armed Services Committee (at that hearing, he was testifying with the Chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen Joe Dunford).  It was at that hearing that Gen Ash Carter announced the change in policy:



    Next, in full coordination with the government of Iraq, we're deploying a specialized, expeditionary targeting force to assist Iraqi and Kurdish Peshmerga forces and put even more pressure on ISIL.  These special operators will, over time, be able to conduct raids, free hostages, gather intelligence and capture ISIL leaders.   


    We covered last week's hearing in the Tuesday December 1sts snapshot  and the Wednesday, December 3rd snapshot and in "Ash Carter spun wildly to Congress," additional reporting: Cedric's "Hank Johnson's sexual obsession with Barack" and Wally's "THIS JUST IN! HANK HIS JOHNSON!" covered US House Rep Hank Johnson wasting everyone's time to profess his strangely sexual obsession with Barack and Carter and Gen Joe Dunford refusing to indulge Johnson,  At Rebecca's site, Wally reported on Ranking Member Adam Smith  in "Even House Democrats are criticizing Saint Barack.(Wally)," at Trina's site Ava reported on the obsession with oil that was at the heart of the hearing in "It's still about the oil," Mike reported on US House Rep Niki Tsongas offering some realities about the so-called coalition in "US Armed Services Committee hearing offers a little bit of reality," Ruth reported on US House Rep John Kline's questioning which established that there was no cap on the number of US troops that could be in Iraq "Iraq still matters,"  Kat took on the surreal aspect with "The US just declared war on everyone but Santa," Elaine covered one time anti-war US House Rep Jackie Speier making an idiot of herself in statements and dress with "The idiot Jackie Speier" and Dona moderated a roundtable at Third on the hearing with "Congress and Iraq."



    Today, Ash Carter announced US troops could help retake Ramadi with attack helicopters -- provided Iraq's Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi gave the go ahead.

    In his opening remarks, Carter declared, "After a frustrating long time, we are starting to see some movement in the operation to recapture Ramadi."  The main reveal in that sentence would be "frustratingly long time."

    And  "some movement"?  They've been in this battle since May.

    At what point do they actually recapture Ramadi?



    We'll note this from Carter:

    Next, in full coordination with the government of Iraq, we’ re deploying a specialized expeditionary targeting force to assist the ISF and Kurdish Peshmerga forces and to put even more pressure on ISIL through a variety of raids and intelligence gathering . While this force will also be in a position to conduct unilateral operations in Syria, in Iraq the force will operate at the invitation of the Iraqi government and focus on defending its borders and building the ISF's ability to conduct similar operations. We will not be discussing specifics of this expeditionary targeting force or its operations in unclassified settings, both to protect our forces and preserve the element of surprise. We want this expeditionary targeting force to make ISIL and its leaders wonder when they go to bed at night, who's going to be coming in the window? Chairman Dunford and I recognize that in principle there are alternatives to the strategic approach we have adopted to drive ISIL from Syria n and Iraqi territory -- including the introduction of a significant foreign ground force, hypothetically international but including U.S. forces, even in the absence of capable, motivated, local ground forces. While we certainly have the capability to furnish a U.S. component to such a ground force, we have not recommended this course of action for several reasons: In the near -term, it would be a significant undertaking that, realistically, we would have to do largely by ourselves; and it would be ceding our comparative advantage of special forces, mobility, and firepower, instead fighting on the enemy's terms. In the medium- term, by seeming to Americanize the conflicts in Iraq and Syria, we could well turn those fighting ISIL or inclined to resist their rule into fighting us instead . As Chairman Dunford testified last week, ISIL "would love nothing more than a large presence of U.S. forces on the ground in Iraq and Syria, so that they could have a call to jihad." And lastly, in the longterm, there would still remain the problem of securing and governing the territory -- these must be done by local forces. So in the end, while we can enable them, we cannot substitute for them.



    The above statements were touched on during a line of questioning.


    Senator John McCain is the Chair of the Committee and Senator Jack Reed is the Ranking Member. Today, we're going to note McCain's line of questioning.  Next time we'll not Senator Bill Nelson.


    Chair John McCain:  Mr. Secretary, on the first of December before the House Armed Services Committee, Congressman Forbes asked Gen Dunford,  


    US House Rep randy Forbes:  Have we currently contained ISIL.

    Gen Joe Dunford:  We have not -- We have not contained ISIL.


    Chair John McCain:  Uh, Mr. Secretary, do you agree with Gen Dunford?


    Secretary Ash Carter:  I, uh, agree with what Gen Dunford said, yes.



    Chair John McCain:  So if we have not contained -- we have not contained ISIL, how are we to believe that we are succeeding against ISIL?

    Secretary Ash Carter:  I, uh, think that, uhm, we are, uh, building momentum against ISIL.  I'm going to be very careful about describing the trajec -- I've described the trajectory of that success all around Iraq and Syria, some actions we're taking in Libya.  Uh, it's not my principal responsibility but I met yesterday with the Secretary of Homeland Security, the Director of the FBI, the Director of National Intelligence and other officials to talk about what we could do more of to -- uhm, uh-uh, strengthen the defense of the homeland as the Dept of Defense.  But in our principle responsibility which is to take the fight to Syria and Iraq, I've  described the actions that we've taken in just the -- 


    Chair John McCain:  Thank you.

    Secretary Ash Carter (Con't): -- and I think they are building momentum.

    Chair John McCain:  Thank you.   How long do you think it will be before we retake Mosul or Raqqa?

    Secretary Ash Carter:  Uh-uh, with respect to Mosul, Mr. Chairman, uh, it is hard to say because it depends -- that depends much on the progress of the Iraqi security forces which I described in building themselves into a more capable combat force.  With respect to Ramadi -- 

    Chair John McCain:  Raqqa.

    Secretary Ash Carter (Con't):  -- as I described --

    Chair John McCain:  Raqqa

    Secretary Ash Carter:  Oh-oh, Raqqa. Well, Raqqa?  There the, uh, problem -- and you noted this yourself, Mr. Chairman, uh, the, uh, Syrian Kurds to the north have done an excellent job of clearing their territory --

    Chair John McCain:  We're not going to go into -- We're not going to go into Raqqa and you I know that.

    Secretary Ash Carter:  They're not going to go to Raqqa, no, no -- 


    Chair John McCain:  We haven't --

    Secretary Ash Carter:  It would be -- It would be the Syrian -- it would be the Syrian Arabs.

    Chair John McCain:  I guess the point here, Mr. Secretary, here we are with attacks on the homeland  of the United States of America, we have not contained ISIL and we have no timeline.  The timeline I was given when Senator [Lindsey] Graham and I went over there was at least the end of next year for Mosul and there is no plan, no strategy to retake Raqqa and I think it's pretty obvious to all that as long as they have the caliphate base then they are able to orchestrate  attacks such as they've successfully achieved in the last several weeks whether it be Ankara, Russian airliners, southern Beirut, Paris or San Bernardino. So here we are with a -- and you've described some measures that are probably very helpful but with no timeline with which to take out the caliphate from which there are many things happening including -- according to news reports -- developing chemical weapons. So -- and this is why I'm really puzzled.  This morning, by the way, on one of the news shows [MSNBC's MORNING JOE], former head of the United States Army, Chief of Staff of the United States Army, Gen Ray Odierno said we ought to have American contingent troops on the ground.  And I frankly do not understand the logic in your statement about "while you certainly have the capability to harness a US component in such a ground force, we do not recommend it because it would be a significant undertaking" -- I agree -- "we would have to do it largely by ourselves" -- I do not agree -- "it would be ceding our comparative advantage" -- we'd be -- "in the medium term it would seem to Americanize the conflict" -- Does somehow -- does anybody really believe that if the United States struck  back against the people that just slaughtered some Americans in San Bernardino that somehow that would encourage them?  What encourages them, Mr. Secretary, is success.  And they have a pretty serious record here of success just in the last couple of months just since you were here.  So I do not understand why in the world you wouldn't want Gen [Jack] Keane, the architect of the surge, the successful surge, and other military leaders including, this morning, former Chief of Staff of the Untied States Army, a small component of American forces with an international force which could be -- if the United States had the credibility -- could be gathered and then go in and take out this caliphate.  As long as the caliphate -- I know of no expert who doesn't believe that as long as this caliphate exists in Raqqa they're going to be able to orchestrate attacks and metastasize and maybe even move to Libya.  So maybe you can help the Committee out again that this would somehow cede a comparative advantage if we went in with a large Arab force, the Turks and Egyptians even other Sunni nations and go in there and take those people out?  There's 20 to 30,000 of them.  They're -- It's -- They are not giants.  So -- But -- Finally --

    Secretary Ash Carter:  Yeah.

    Chair John McCain:  --  someone's going to have to convince me that air power alone and Special Operation Forces are going to succeed in the short term in order to prevent other further things such as San Bernardino.  I'd love to hear your response.

    Secretary Ash Carter:  Uh, a couple of things, Mr. Chairman.  First of all, to your main point about, uh-uhm, more American forces -- and I-I-I would say Special Forces but others as well that train, advise and accompany -- they're not Special Forces, we are doing --

    Chair John McCain:  -- I was talking about a multi-national force.

    Secretary Ash Carter:  There, Mr. Chairman, I-uh-uh, as I indicated, I too wish that particularly the Sunni Arab nations of the Gulf would do more.  And going way back --

    Chair John McCain:  They are willing to do so --

    Secretary Ash Carter (Con't):  -- to -- I've --

    Chair John McCain (Con't):  -- if there's a large commitment.

    Secretary Ash Cater (Con't):  -- I've had -- I've had lengthy conversations --

    Chair John McCain:  And so have I.

    Secretary Ash Carter (Con't):  -- with representatives there.  Well I-I-I-I have to say that, uhm, I have, uh, consistently emphasized to them that they have a unique role here and, uh, also so far as they're concerned about Iran which is another concern that they have -- by the way, that we have also -- a totally different but, uh, serious subject also.  Uh, that, uh, what I've emphasized to them is that we don't like it but the Iranians are in the game on the ground.  And I very much would like -- we would very much welcome -- we have repeatedly said this -- working with those countries on the ground because we believe as you noted that they, uh, would have a distinct advantage in a ground fight.  With respect to the Europeans, the Europeans have, generally speaking, uh, offered to do more within their capabilities and capacities.  I will note here -- and this is uneven across-across Europe -- but in general  I am quite concerned with the level of investment that Europe is making in its militaries and its alliance and partnership and, therefore, with the United States, there is much more that their economies would enable, uhm, them to do and that their history as-as-as standing up for the same kind of civilized values that we stand up with really require of them.  And so while we're getting more from the Europeans -- and I've indicated I'd like for more -- and I'd like there to still be more so in that sense I'm completely with you.  I-I-I simply on the basis of my urgent and consistent consultations with them unless, uh-uh-uh-uh-uh have less, uh, high hopes, uh, perhaps that you  would assemble such force.  We would certainly welcome that.  With that --

    Chair John McCain:  Could I just also say that I urgently and fervently  ask you for a strategy that you can tell us when we're going to take Mosul, when we're going to take Raqqa and when we're going to wipe out this caliphate.  And, frankly, I have not seen that.  General, did you want to add anything? 

    Gen Paul Selva:  Sir, I would add three points. First, I agree completely that defending the homeland is our top priority.  Second, taking the fight -- 

    Chair John McCain:  That's helpful.

    Gen Paul Selva (Con't):  -- taking the fight to the caliphate is what is going on today in Iraq and in Syria.  The combination of increasing the momentum with the movements in Iraq in Baiji as well as in Ramadi and partnering with --

    Chair John McCain:   And, again, General there is no timeline for Mosul and Raqqa which is the basis of the caliphate. 

    Gen Paul Selva:  Sir, the fight on the ground defines the progress we will make against the caliphate.  We have put significant pressure on northern Syria.  We have -- we have taken -- with Syrian Arab coalition partners -- have taken significant ground in the north and in the east of Syria.  They are using the equipment that we have provided  to put pressure on ISIL's main lines of communication between Raqqa and Mosul.  To provide a timeline would be to deny the fact that the enemy on the ground gets a vote but they do not have freedom of maneuver.  They do not have operational freedom of maneuver, they do not have tactical -- 

    Chair John McCain:  General, they were just able to orchestrate an attack in San Bernardino, California.  My time is long ago expired. 




    Barack Obama's decision to break his promise of no-boots-on-the-ground was raised in today's State Dept press briefing



     QUESTION: Would you agree that President Obama’s initial plan not to put U.S. boots on the ground to fight ISIL has changed?

    MR KIRBY: I’m sorry, I did not hear the first part of your question.

    QUESTION: Would you agree that President Obama’s initial plan not to put U.S. boots on the ground to fight ISIL has changed?

    MR KIRBY: Would I agree that his original decision not to put U.S. boots on the ground to fight ISIL has changed?

    QUESTION: That’s correct.


    MR KIRBY: What’s happened is the – so first of all, let me back up. There’s – the President has been clear from the very beginning as Commander-in-Chief that we’re not going to fight a large, sustained combat counter-insurgency effort in Iraq or in Syria against ISIL. He never said there was never going to be U.S. boots on the ground. And a matter of fact, there’s more than 3,000 U.S. troops in Iraq right now in a training, advising, and assisting capacity. The additional Special Operations Forces that the Secretary of Defense has talked about and which Secretary Kerry fully supports, which will be operating – there’ll be a small expeditionary force that they’ve already – that the Defense Department has already talked about in Iraq, and then there will be some – there are some small number in Syria as we speak – are largely an extension of that same mission: train, advise, and assist.
    Now, that said, the Defense Department – and I don’t want to speak to military matters too much, but the Defense Department has said that there will be a component of their job, these Special Operations Forces, that would include conducting raids and assisting indigenous partners in combat that they are conducting against ISIL. So it’s very much consistent with the original mission set given to U.S. troops that have been assisting indigenous partners against ISIL. But nothing has changed about the Commander-in-Chief’s very clear direction that this isn’t going to be a long, sustained U.S. ground operation or effort against ISIL.


    QUESTION: Do you think that the 3,500 troops and more on their way is not a big ground operation? Do you --


    MR KIRBY: It’s not when you consider the scale of the kind of force presence that we had in Iraq up until 2011 and what we had in Afghanistan – certainly nowhere near what we have in Afghanistan now, which is just under 10,000. So it’s not on that scale, and that’s the scale that we’re measuring it against.
    Again, I really don’t want to talk about military matters, but nobody’s underestimating that 3,000 is still 3,000, and that U.S. troops are in – are doing important work against a very – assisting others against a very dangerous enemy. We’re all mindful of that. And not to mention that you have pilots and air crew that are also flying combat missions over Iraq and Syria. I think everybody understands that – the importance of that. But it’s nowhere near the scale in terms of the troops that we have seen in the last 14 years in both Iraq and Afghanistan. It’s much smaller than that, and I think it – as we used to say, it’s not just how many you have; it’s what they’re doing. And it’s very clear that the mission for our troops against ISIL is the same mission it’s always been, which is to help degrade and destroy this organization by helping build the capacity of indigenous partners on the ground, both Iraq – both in Iraq and in Syria. Okay?


    QUESTION: But it’s also clear that those are boots on the ground, right, right now?


    MR KIRBY: I’m not disputing that there are U.S. troops on the ground. But nobody ever said there – nobody said there wouldn’t ever be. What was made clear was that the mission wouldn’t be a large, sustained ground combat operation against ISIL, and we aren’t doing that. That is – nothing has changed about that, not one bit.


    QUESTION: John, I just wanted to – if you could clarify the use of the term “expeditionary” force. It’s a mouthful. Can --


    MR KIRBY: Expeditionary.

    QUESTION: Expeditionary --

    MR KIRBY: Just say it slow. It just rolls right off.

    QUESTION: Is it – I mean I – “expeditionary.”

    MR KIRBY: There you go.

    QUESTION: Okay. So is it intended to expedite – I mean, is that – what is it going to do?

    MR KIRBY: No, “expeditionary” --

    QUESTION: I mean, as a military man, explain to us the difference --

    MR KIRBY: “Expeditionary” means that the mission or that – and the units applied to a mission are being deployed someplace other than where they’re based for usually a limited amount of time and for a very discrete mission set.

    QUESTION: So it is mobility, right?

    MR KIRBY: It – part of being expeditionary is being agile, it’s being flexible, it’s being mobile. Absolutely, yeah.

    QUESTION: Okay. So they could strike, let’s say, here one day, then move another 400 miles and strike?

    MR KIRBY: Well, I mean, it’s about being mobile, yes. It is. But, I mean, I wouldn’t get into specific operational parameters.
    Yeah.

    QUESTION: And so how come this was never used before? This is the first time this phrase is being used --

    QUESTION: Since the Spanish-American --

    QUESTION: If all it means is that they’re being sent other than where they’re based, then presumably all troops that are sent elsewhere --

    MR KIRBY: Well, you’d have to --

    QUESTION: (Inaudible.) It’s been used for decades.

    QUESTION: Really?

    QUESTION: Yeah.

    QUESTION: It was used by --

    QUESTION: The Allied Expeditionary Force that went to – that fought in World War I. (Laughter.)

    MR KIRBY: I don’t think I – I don’t think I need to be here anymore.

    QUESTION: You’ve got to say – you’ve got to – (laughter) --

    MR KIRBY: I defer to Arshad, who’s absolutely correct. (Laughter.) No, he’s right.

    QUESTION: Someone with more knowledge --

    MR KIRBY: It’s not a new phrase, it’s not a new term, and I would point you to the Defense Department for more details about that.


    And there you see the useless State Dept press -- more focused on when the term "expeditionary" was last used or first used than on the broken promises of a sitting president.


    They also aren't eager to question the State Dept or the Defense Dept -- let alone Barack himself -- on how the plan or 'plan' has been a failure.


    Today, the Defense Dept announced:

    Strikes in Iraq
    Rocket artillery and fighter, bomber, attack, and remotely piloted aircraft conducted 22 strikes in Iraq, coordinated with and in support of the Iraqi government:
    -- Near Huwayjah, a strike destroyed four ISIL bunkers and seven ISIL trenches.
    -- Near Albu Hayat, a strike struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed two ISIL vehicles, two ISIL rockets, and an ISIL weapons cache.
    -- Near Kirkuk, a strike struck an ISIL tactical unit, suppressed an ISIL mortar system, and destroyed an ISIL heavy machine gun and two ISIL fighting positions.
    -- Near Kisik, a strike destroyed four ISIL rockets.
    -- Near Mosul, two strikes struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed an ISIL vehicle.
    -- Near Qayyarah, seven strikes struck an ISIL logistical facility, an ISIL training facility, an ISIL weapons cache, an ISIL weapons storage facility, two ISIL staging areas, and an ISIL tactical unit, and destroyed an ISIL bunker.
    -- Near Ramadi, four strikes struck three separate large ISIL tactical units, denied ISIL access to terrain, and destroyed three ISIL bed down locations, two ISIL light machine guns, two ISIL heavy machine guns, an ISIL recoilless rifle, four ISIL fighting positions, an ISIL tactical vehicle, three ISIL buildings, four ISIL vehicle bombs, an ISIL vehicle bomb making factory, an ISIL staging area, an ISIL compound, an ISIL resupply location, and two ISIL command and control nodes.
    -- Near Sinjar, three strikes struck two separate ISIL tactical units, immobilized an ISIL vehicle, and destroyed three ISIL fighting positions and an ISIL heavy machine gun.
    -- Near Baghdadi, a strike struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed an ISIL building.
    -- Near Fallujah, a strike destroyed an ISIL homemade explosives cache, an ISIL bed down location and an ISIL vehicle bomb making factory.


    Task force officials define a strike as one or more kinetic events that occur in roughly the same geographic location to produce a single, sometimes cumulative, effect. Therefore, officials explained, a single aircraft delivering a single weapon against a lone ISIL vehicle is one strike, but so is multiple aircraft delivering dozens of weapons against buildings, vehicles and weapon systems in a compound, for example, having the cumulative effect of making those targets harder or impossible for ISIL to use. Accordingly, officials said, they do not report the number or type of aircraft employed in a strike, the number of munitions dropped in each strike, or the number of individual munition impact points against a target.





    Chair John McCain:  In response, Mr. Secretary, in response to your last two points?  One, on the funding, we just received that request last week but you know very well that's the result of the absolute failure of the expenditure of what was judged then to be $43 million and for or five people were trained  We don't want to approve of something like that again.  We want to -- We want to -- If you want that kind of money to train and equip, we want to know what the plan is.  And we don't want to see a repetition of testimony by the head of Central Command who said, "Well we have four or five less and we've spent $43 million."  We have an obligation to the taxpayers

    Turning to the continued Turkish invasion of Iraq, Sunday, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi gave Turkey 48 hours to remove their troops from Mosul.  Yesterday saw Turkey's response: We'll stop sending troops into Iraq . . . but we're leaving those already in Mosul.

    In someone's mind, that was an 'answer.'

    The same way, when Iraqi officials -- including Haider -- denounced Turkey's bombing of northern Iraq and Turkey -- with the backing of the US government -- blew off the concerns and continues to bomb northern Iraq.


    Yesterday, Russia -- which has its own tensions with Turkey -- took the matter to the United Nations Security Council.  Edith M. Lederer (AP) reports that Vitaly Churkin, Russia's Ambassador to the United Nations, states he declared Turkey was conducting itself "recklessly and inexplicably" and that they were acting without legal backing.

    Though Hadier had insisted he would take the matter to the United Nations, he did not do so.

    In  a chance to play catch up -- and also an effort to practice some face saving -- he's made a move.  Tulay Karadeniz and Ercan Gurses (REUTERS) report that he issued a statement (whine?) insisting, "NATO must use its authority to urge Turkey to withdraw immediately from Iraqi territory."  RUDAW adds:


    NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg vowed Tuesday  to preserve the integrity and sovereignty of Iraq, after Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi called on the organization to use its authority to force a withdrawal of Turkish forces from Iraq.


    At THE NEW YORKER, Dexter Filkins weighs in noting:



    The Turkish move into Iraq is the latest in a series of geopolitical flailings by the blustering and impulsive Turkish President, Recep Tayyip Erdo─čan. Most of them are related to the civil war in Syria. Since 2011, when the Syrian uprising began, Erdo─čan has sought to gain some kind of advantage there, or at least to feel sure that he is backing the right horse. And he’s failed miserably. As much as any other leader in the region, Erdo─čan has pushed vigorously for the removal of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. To see this through, the Turkish government has backed the most extreme rebel groups, including ISIS, allowing and even helping foreign fighters to come into Turkey and cross into Syria. ISIS would never have metastasized as virulently as it has without Turkey’s assistance.









     

    Wednesday, December 09, 2015

    Iraq

    Third's new content is up:


    9 of the 14 stories address Iraq.

    That's really amazing.

    At Third, they've been able to focus on Iraq weekly for ten years now.

    So few can make that claim.


    I recommend all of the above but I especially want to note "Congress and Iraq" which is a roundtable.


    Here's an excerpt:

    Dona:  December 1st, the House Armed Services Committee held a hearing that was largely ignored by our so-called independent media -- i.e. DEMOCRACY NOW!, THE NATION, THE PROGRESSIVE, IN THESE TIMES . . .   This community didn't ignore it and I'm roundtabling with the people who attended the hearing and reported on it.  C.I. reported on it  in Tuesday's snapshot  and Wednesday's snapshot and in "Ash Carter spun wildly to Congress," additional reporting: Cedric's "Hank Johnson's sexual obsession with Barack" and Wally's "THIS JUST IN! HANK HIS JOHNSON!" covered US House Rep Hank Johnson wasting everyone's time to profess his strangely sexual obsession with Barack and Carter and Gen Joe Dunford refusing to indulge Johnson,  At Rebecca's site, Wally reported on Ranking Member Adam Smith  in "Even House Democrats are criticizing Saint Barack.(Wally)," at Trina's site Ava reported on the obsession with oil that was at the heart of the hearing in "It's still about the oil," Mike reported on US House Rep Niki Tsongas offering some realities about the so-called coalition in "US Armed Services Committee hearing offers a little bit of reality," Ruth reported on US House Rep John Kline's questioning which established that there was no cap on the number of US troops that could be in Iraq "Iraq still matters,"  Kat took on the surreal aspect with "The US just declared war on everyone but Santa," and Elaine covered one time anti-war US House Rep Jackie Speier making an idiot of herself in statements and dress with "The idiot Jackie Speier," And please note, I cribbed freely from C.I.'s listing last week to summarize the reports.  Okay, let's start with the big news.  Ruth?


    Ruth: Okay, appearing before the Committee were Secretary of Defense Ash Carter and General Joe Dunford.  General Dunford is the Chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.  The Committee Chair is US House Representative Max Thornberry and the Ranking Member is US House Representative Adam Smith.  The big news was Secretary Carter declaring the following:



     Next, in full coordination with the government of Iraq, we're deploying a specialized, expeditionary targeting force to assist Iraqi and Kurdish Peshmerga forces and put even more pressure on ISIL.  These special operators will, over time, be able to conduct raids, free hostages, gather intelligence and capture ISIL leaders.   


    Dona:  So the Iraq War doesn't end.  The never-ending Iraq War goes on and on forever.  Ava, you may remember this, our shock -- my shock, your shock, Jim's shock, Jess' shock and Ty's shock -- back in 2005 when in an off-hand comment, C.I. said the Iraq War wouldn't be over by 2008.  She said that we'd probably have shut down our sites before the war ended.

    Ava: Right.  We were like, "Huh?"  And then we thought about it, and this was summer of 2005, and realized she was probably right.  That was one of the most depressing moments of that year.  Realizing that we were trying to end the war and the sentiment had turned against the war and that even with that the Iraq War would likely go on.  Which it has.


    Dona: Which it has.  Which it most certainly has. Kat, what stood out to you most about the hearing?


    Kat: Well, C.I. pointed this out in a snapshot, how Carter makes this monumental announcement, and does so early in the hearing, and yet the rest of the hearing is never, "Huh?"  Or, "What did you just say?"  Or, "I can't believe we're sending more troops into Iraq, let alone now we're doing combat operations."  It was like Ash Carter farted in the middle of the hearing and everyone averted their gaze out of embarrassment for him.


    Dona: Well that's descriptive.  Elaine, you and Wally and Cedric picked the most embarrassing Rep in the hearing.  You went with Jackie Speier and the guys went with Hank Johnson.



    I'll stop it there and not quote myself.

    But make a point to read it.

    More to the point, make a point to talk about Iraq.

    If you support peace, you can't be silent right now, not with more US forces being sent into Iraq.


    "Iraq snapshot" (THE COMMON ILLS):
    Tuesday, December 8, 2015.  Chaos and violence continue, more bombs are dropped on Iraq (with no measurable effect), Turkey and Iraq continue to argue over Turkish troops in Iraq, Haider al-Abadi's position remains precarious, and much more.


    Turkey has halted its deployment of troops to Iraq, AUSTRALIA ASSOCIATED PRESS reports.  But before you breathe a sigh of relief, Turkey's Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mevlut Cavusoglu, states that the troops already in Iraq will not be withdrawn.

    What's going on?

    Iraq's Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, on Sunday, gave Turkey 48 hours to remove troops from Mosul. That ticking alarm clock is about to buzz.  So where do things stand?  SPUTNIK reports:

    Turkish troops remain in Iraq despite a partial withdrawal, Iraq's Defense Ministry spokesman Nuseir Nouri told Sputnik Arabic.
    In a convoluted statement, the spokesman first denied that Turkish troops were present in Iraq, then saying that there are troops protecting the camps training Masoud Barzani-linked fighters. On Friday, up to 150 Turkish military personnel had been deployed in northern Iraq's Nineveh province allegedly to provide training to the fighters.


    Iraq's quickly become The Land of the Non-Withdrawal.  US troops are still there.  Now Turkish ones as well.


    This has not set well with Iraqis and a demonstration took place today.  Seamus Kearney (EuroNews) reports, "Hundreds of protesters have gathered outside the Turkish embassy in Baghdad, demanding the withdrawal of Turkish troops from the north of the country."


    It's hard to see how this non-withdrawal is going to please protesters.


    And let's remember, this is Iraq and Turkey.

    Iraqis were already outraged about Turkish war planes bombing northern Iraq.  Haider al-Abadi had called for that to end but the US government wanted it to continue.

    Who won that battle?

    The US government.

    Leaving Haider humiliated.


    Humiliation which may have egged on former prime minister Nouri al-Maliki who continues to be the subject of press and social media whispers -- specifically that he's planning an attempted coup that will restore him as prime minister.


    He was a hideous prime minister.  That's not an endorsement of Haider al-Abadi.

    Like Nouri, he's seen as a puppet of Iran.  (In truth, both men are as indebted and indentured to the United States government as they are to Iran.)


    Tareq al-Hashemi, former two-term vice president of Iraq, has a column at MIDDLE EAST MONITOR on Iran and a recent event where Iranians stormed an Iraqi border -- an event that Tareq notes Iran would never have allowed to take place there and one that many suspect was a planned event on the part of the Iranian government:



    The position of Al-Abadi’s government, which only made a useless statement, is one of collusion. If the government wanted to, it could have taken pre-emptive or subsequent measures to reinforce the border crossing with enough military forces that are capable of deterring the storming of the border when it noticed these suspicious gatherings. There is no doubt that the government monitors the growth of the gatherings over the past few days. The government also could have, at a later time, worked on containing them and forcing them to return, but it did not do so. 
    We did, however, see the government use excessive force against the Iraqis displaced from Anbar. Didn’t the government hold up thousands of Iraqis and refuses, until this day, to allow them to enter the country through the Bazibir Bridge, west of Baghdad, even those who are sick, elderly, disabled, women and children? Didn’t the government deprive hundreds of thousands of displaced families from their right to return to their municipalities and areas of residence after they were liberated from [the Islamic State]’s control?



    As most reading Tareq's column will grasp, those from Anbar were predominately Sunni.

    That has always been the complaint against the central-Baghdad government when Nouri was in charge and remains the complaint to this day with Haider in charge:  The government persecutes Sunnis while protecting Shi'ites.


    That's why the Islamic State got its foothold in Iraq to begin with.

    It's also one of the continuing threats to the stability of Haider al-Abadi's government.


    On the precarious Haider, Ramzy Mardini (WORLD POLITICS REVIEW) explains:

    In early November, Abadi's efforts to implement a reform agenda that intended to tackle a corrupt and dysfunctional political system were decisively defeated in a unanimous vote in Parliament.  From then on, his reform initiatives, which were announced in the summer of 2015 in response to mass demonstrations in Baghdad and southern Iraq, will require Parliament's approval.  This limits any unilateral power the prime minister has to shape Iraq going forward.  Opposition to his proposed reforms exposed his vulnerability, which is now visible not only to the public but also to his political rivals.  Indeed, despite waging a war focused on reclaiming lost territory on Iraq's periphery, Baghdad is now preoccupied with a dangerous power struggle within the political establishment that Iran had worked for years to cultivate.
    For Abadi, it is not the military threat posed by the Islamic State, per se, that looms over his premiership.  Instead, the real threat to his leadership, and perhpas to US interests to maintain an allied government in Baghdad, is an intra-Shi'ite contest for political authority.  This competition is occurring within a fragment government led by a prime minister who depends for his political survival on the very same forces threatening that survival.  Indeed, former Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki whose autocratic and sectarian leadership the West blames for Iraq's ills, has leveraged his prior relationships with pro-Iran Shi'ite militias and managed to make a potential comeback to threaten his successor.  Abadi also faces challenges to his authority from other Shi'ite figures aligned with Iran, who, at best, effectively limit his power, and, at worst, could attempt to unseat him.







    Back to the issue of Turkey, Chas Freeman was the US Ambassador to Saudi Arabia from 1989 to 1992.  Sputnik interviewed him about this latest crisis and he states, "The basic principles of international law are no longer respected in the Middle East.  This Turkish intervention reflects the breakdown of sovereignty and territorial integrity in the Levant catalyzed by the American invasion of Iraq, which was itself unauthorized under international law."


    Monday,  ARUTZ SHEVA reported that Iraq's prime minister Haider al-Abadi has declared he will appeal the issue to the United Nations Security Council if Turkish troops are not removed.


    Too late for him with Russia beating him to the punch in calling for a discussion. Eyewitness News notes, "The discussion was expected to follow a closed-door meeting of the 15-nation council on unrelated issues."

    AFP reminds:

    Relations between Moscow and Ankara have been tense since Turkish fighter jets shot down a Russian fighter jet on the Syrian border on November 24.
    Since then, Russia has imposed sanctions on Turkey, including a ban on the import of some Turkish foods and a halt on sales of Turkish holiday travel packages -- a major blow to the tourist industry. 



    The issue was touched on briefly at today's US State Dept press briefing moderated by spokesperson John Kirby.



    QUESTION: John, on this, on Turkey-Iraq. Turkish foreign minister has said today that Turkey won’t send more troops to Iraq, but at the same time, they won’t withdraw the troops that they have in Iraq. Do you have anything on this?


    MR KIRBY: Well, I’ve seen those reports, Michel. Again, as I said yesterday, this is an issue for Turkey and Iraq to continue to work out. We’re encouraged by the fact that their defense ministers have spoken. We want to see that dialogue continue. This is an issue that both of them, we believe, need to continue to discuss, work out.


    QUESTION: And how do you view that Russia called the UN Security Council to discuss this issue?


    MR KIRBY: I’m sorry?


    QUESTION: That Russia has called the UN Security Council to discuss the Turkish --


    MR KIRBY: We continue to believe that the best path forward here is for Turkey and Iraq to work this out bilaterally and to have discussions. And they have, and we’re encouraged by that. And as I said yesterday, we believe that this can and should be – and there should be no reason why it couldn’t be – resolved peacefully through dialogue and discussion. As I also said, we want – it’s important and I want to restate this as a sound principle, because it’s a principle that needs to be continually hit home. Iraq’s a sovereign country; and we want all efforts against ISIL inside Iraq to be done with the cooperation, in consultation with the Iraqi Government and with their full permission. That’s an important fundamental principle here to respect the sovereignty of Iraq and that won’t change going forward. But we believe that this is best resolved between Turkey and Iraq.


    QUESTION: Do you mean that you don’t support discussing this issue and the --



    MR KIRBY: No, what I said was, rather than tell you what we don’t support, let me tell you what we do support, and that is that we support Turkey and Iraq continuing to have a dialogue and working their way through this.


    What they do support?

    They supported Turkey.

    The White House supported the bombs Turkey has dropped on northern Iraq and defended Turkey doing so -- all the while Haider and other government officials in Iraq objected.  The White House has backed Turkey's military infusion/invasion of Iraq as well.


    What they won't back is anything that addresses the actual problems in Iraq.







    Sunday night, US President Barack Obama gave his third speech from the Oval Office since being sworn in back in January of 2009 ("Watch the full video and read the President’s remarks:").


    What did he say?

    Nothing of any value.

    A lot to scare any actually paying attention.


    For example, let's note these bullet points the White House prepared.





    President Obama's ISIL strategy abroad



    That's how you defeat the Islamic State?

    Only if you're an idiot.


    Barack's a failure.

    He's a failure because he can't speak the truth, he's a failure because he can't speak up, he's a failure because he wanted the title of president but didn't want to do the work.

    Over a year ago, June 19, 2014, Barack told the world a political solution was needed.


    Now he's too chicken to even note that reality.

    So he offers a lot of b.s. that's supposed to make him look tough but only makes him look pathetic.

    The only way you defeat the Islamic State is by robbing it of is very reason for existence -- the persecution of the Sunnis.


    Quentin Sommerville (NEW STATESMAN) explains:


    As Britain makes a decision on whether to bomb IS in Syria, as we are already doing in Iraq, we appear to have little understanding of why IS has become so strong and, indeed, why its support is growing. In our disgust at its medieval methods of torture and killing, it is easy to forget that IS is not merely tolerated but welcomed in its strongholds in Iraq and Syria. It is true that there are many foreign fighters in both cities but there are also Sunni Arab populations that regard IS rule as a better alternative to the Shia-led government of Iraq, Iranian-funded militias, the Kurds or the regime of Syria’s president, Bashar al-Assad.



    The point is one Barack grasps verbally but one he fails to provide action for.  Instead of providing a diplomatic infusion, bringing all the agents to the table and hashing things out, he prefers to drop bombs and send in troops.

    None of which will erase the Islamic State or what pops up to replace the Islamic State -- which popped up to replace al Qaeda in Mesopotamia.



    Today the US Defense Dept announced:

    Strikes in Iraq
    Fighter, bomber, and remotely piloted aircraft conducted 20 strikes in Iraq, coordinated with and in support of the Iraqi government:

    -- Near Huwayjah, four strikes struck three separate ISIL tactical units, wounded two ISIL fighters, damaged an ISIL trench, and destroyed an ISIL vehicle and an ISIL tunnel.

    -- Near Kisik, three strikes struck three separate ISIL tactical units and destroyed three ISIL fighting positions and an ISIL rocket cache.

    -- Near Mosul, a strike destroyed an ISIL excavator.

    -- Near Ramadi, six strikes struck two separate ISIL tactical units, denied ISIL access to terrain, and destroyed three ISIL ammo caches, 12 ISIL buildings, an ISIL command and control node, an ISIL sniper position, seven ISIL heavy machine guns, four ISIL staging areas, an ISIL mortar system, an ISIL tactical vehicle, an ISIL tunnel entrance, seven ISIL fighting positions, and two ISIL supply caches.

    -- Near Sinjar, a strike destroyed an ISIL vehicle.

    -- Near Tal Afar, two strikes destroyed three ISIL weapons caches, nine ISIL bunkers, three ISIL tunnels, and an ISIL vehicle.

    -- Near Hit, a strike destroyed an ISIL homemade explosives facility and two ISIL vehicle bombs.

    -- Near Qayyarah, two strikes destroyed an ISIL logistics facility and an ISIL vehicle bomb-making facility.


    Task force officials define a strike as one or more kinetic events that occur in roughly the same geographic location to produce a single, sometimes cumulative, effect. Therefore, officials explained, a single aircraft delivering a single weapon against a lone ISIL vehicle is one strike, but so is multiple aircraft delivering dozens of weapons against buildings, vehicles and weapon systems in a compound, for example, having the cumulative effect of making those targets harder or impossible for ISIL to use. Accordingly, officials said, they do not report the number or type of aircraft employed in a strike, the number of munitions dropped in each strike, or the number of individual munition impact points against a target.


    These bombs have been dropped on Iraq since Augut 2014 by US war planes.

    They've had no real effect other than terrorizing the Iraqi people and putting US tax payers further in debt for financial cost of a never-ending war.


    Quentin Sommerville concludes his essay on the Islamic State with this, "The grievances in Iraq and Syria that allowed it to flourish have not been addressed and have only intensified – and appear to lie far beyond the reach of air strikes alone."


    Exactly.



    The following community sites updated tonight: