Tuesday, April 11, 2017

That embarrassing ISO

At WSWS, Andre Damon nails it:

In Socialist Worker, the ISO’s Ashley Smith writes that “no one should be surprised by Assad’s willingness to violate the agreement [of 2013] and use chemical weapons.” Adopting the line of the Democratic Party, Smith declares that it is “hard to take Trump’s humanitarian pretensions seriously” because until recently “Trump supported some kind of rapprochement with Assad and Russia.”
In doing so, the ISO complains, the Trump administration “made explicit what had been implicit under Barack Obama—that the US would tolerate Assad staying on in power as a de facto ally for the sake of the war on ISIS.” The main problem with the policy of the US is that it “has turned a blind eye while Russia, Iran and Hezbollah intervened in support of Assad’s counterrevolutionary war to save his dictatorship.”
Thus, the ISO, along with International Viewpoint, aligns itself with the CIA and those factions of the ruling class that have criticized Trump not for his extreme right-wing and warmongering policies, but for being too close to Russia.
The position of these organizations is the outcome of broader social and political processes going back a half century. The anti-war movement as it emerged in the 1960s was predominantly middle-class in character, drawing in radical sections of young people opposed to universal conscription and dissatisfied with the conservative cultural environment that predominated. The organizations that led this movement sought to prevent the fight against war from developing into a movement of the working class against capitalism.

Over the course of the ensuing five decades, the leaders of the anti-Vietnam War protest movement have traveled far to the right, in many cases themselves becoming leading figures in bourgeois politics. Ideologically, these social layers have ever more openly repudiated Marxism and embraced post-modernism and identity politics. Politically, they have taken up the “human rights” justifications of US imperialism.

The US SOCIALIST WORKER is an embarrassment.

They refused to stand up to Barack.

They let him bomb and war on anyone.

Now their only concern?

The sincerity of Donald Trump.

Guess what, ISO, for the people being hit with these bombs?  Donald Trump seems pretty sincere in his hatred.

I really can't stand these fake asses.

Let's move on.

"TV: HULU serves up the worst" (Ava and C.I., THE THIRD ESTATE SUNDAY REVIEW):
The whole syfy point of the first episode?

Matchmakers are cloning.

The point of the second episode?

Twelve minutes in, we're closer to the syfy twist -- closer but still not there.

No thought is going into the writing of these scripts.

There's no effort to create good characters.

There's no effort to create twists and turns.

A one line synopsis is fleshed out with dialogue (bad dialogue) and we're supposed to consider that the height of a science fiction anthology series?

Neither episode is worth watching.

They're cheesy episodes that are poorly written and go for camp -- but not gay camp, some sort of dweeb camp.

Which is why we checked out in the middle of the third episode.

A science fiction  show that makes GOOSEBUMPS look like PSYCHO is always going to be a hard sell.

Even more so when it's an anthology series.

You have to stream DIMENSION to get how really awful this HULU show is.

"Iraq snapshot" (THE COMMON ILLS):
Tuesday, April 11, 2017.  Chaos and violence continue, The Mosul Slog continues, Iraq is among the countries with the highest number of executions in 2016, and much more.

Brookings and the Lawfare Institute publish a piece by Paul Salem and Randa Slim which opens:

The United States has played a leading role in fighting the Islamic State, but now it must prepare for the fights that will take place at negotiating tables and reconciliation conferences. Iraqis recognize that the coming months will be difficult. In a recent visit to Iraq, our interlocutors from various political stripes emphasized the enormity of the challenges facing the country after the expected expulsion of the Islamic State from Mosul. If we are not to make the same mistake of winning the war and again losing the peace, the Trump administration should look beyond the focus on the current battle and develop a layered and sustainable strategy to help Iraq move toward stability. While this strategy will include military and aid components, it will need to have a strong political and diplomatic component. War, including civil war, is the continuation of politics by other means. If Iraq does not get its politics in order, the country’s political struggles will continue to play out in other violent ways that Iraqis have come to know too well, and the specter of more sectarian conflict, radicalization, and terrorism will persist.
First, to be sure, a defeat of the Islamic State in Mosul will not be the end of the kinetic battle against the terrorist organization in Iraq. Though 70 percent of Mosul has been liberated, there are still an estimated 400,000 people behind Islamic State lines in the city. A fair number of these are families of Islamic State fighters who came to Mosul from Diyala, Anbar, and Tikrit. While Iraqi forces have retaken major cities, Islamic State fighters are still entrenched in about 40 percent of Kirkuk province, including the districts of Hawija, Riyadh, and Rashad, which lie on the western side of the province. They also control Tal Afar, parts of Sinjar province, and in Anbar they hold the cities of Ana, Rawa, and Qaim, all close to the border with Syria. Even if defeated there, they could head for the less accessible hills and deserts of Diyala and Anbar provinces, and as long as they also have havens across the border in Syria—most prominently in Raqqa and Deir Ezzor—they can always return. Still, their defeat in Mosul will mean the end of their experiment in religious rule in Iraq and a great blow to their prestige and appeal.

The ongoing kinetic threats justify maintaining a medium-term U.S. military presence around current troop levels of 5,000-6,000 personnel to maintain support, training, and cooperation with the Iraqi armed forces. This is what the Iraqi government has requested, and the United States should provide this assistance. Indeed, President Trump has himself said “we shouldn’t have gone in; but certainly we shouldn’t have left.

So they finally get around to discussing the need for diplomacy and it's used to argue for troops to remain in Iraq?

War Hags, one and all.

Iraq does need a diplomatic surge and it's needed one for some time.

And we've made that argument repeatedly for years now.

Welcome to the room, Sara
Welcome to the choir, sir
"Welcome to the Room, Sara," written by Stevie Nicks, first appears on Fleetwood Mac's TANGO IN THE NIGHT

Welcome to the room, War Hags.

But those of us who've been standing here already for some time are fully aware that you only mention diplomacy now because you're attempting to justify keeping US troops in Iraq.

A diplomatic surge should have taken place in 2014 when the bombings did.

The failure to do so goes a long, long way towards explaining the never-ending mess.

In fact, Barack Obama was insisting, June 19, 2014, that the only answer for Iraq's myriad of crises was a political solution.

But no time was spent on that.

Now, as the operation against Mosul is said to be winding down, now, as they lose their justification for boots on the ground, War Hags emerge to suddenly call for a diplomatic surge -- but, understand, one tied to boots on the ground.

Those of us calling for a diplomatic surge have long noted that reconciliation could have been tied to F-16s or any other weapons that the US has been supplying to Iraq for years now.

Reconciliation, after all, was a White House defined benchmark for success in 2007 that Iraq agreed to.

But it never met that benchmark.

Ten years after agreeing, it still hasn't met it.

The Mosul Slog hits day 175.

Lots of happy talk from Iraqi officials to the press, but still no end in sight.

This operation was supposed to last mere weeks, remember?

Or when CNN's Elise Labott embarrassed herself in a State Dept press briefing by yelling "NO!" when a reporter suggested it was a slog?

But still it continues.

AP reports:

Drone footage taken by the AP in the Dawasa neighborhood of western Mosul on April 5 shows entire streets reduced to rubble, with deep craters dug up by airstrikes. By comparison, eastern Mosul was generally preserved, with damage mainly concentrated on individual buildings and road junctions.
[. . .]
Much of the destruction is wrought by Iraqi and coalition air power. An analysis of bombing in western Mosul between March 8 and 25, conducted by Human Rights Watch and using satellite imagery, identified 780 impact sites that may have been caused by large, air-delivered munitions, resulting in the destruction of hundreds of buildings. The analysis called the destruction comparable in intensity to the Russian-Syrian air attacks on Aleppo in September and October last year.

The brutal fight for Iraq's western Mosul is taking a heavy toll on civilians:

battle continues unabated as Iraqi forces fight in narrow streets, April 11, . (REUTERS/Andres Martinez Casares)

And the militias -- now part of the Iraqi forces, don't forget -- always have time to terrorize civilians.

Shia militia 'launches grenade attack on Iraqi communists'

Turning to the issue of the death penalty, Amnesty International has a new report covering known 2016 executions:

China remained the world’s top executioner – but the true extent of the use of the death penalty in China is unknown as this data is considered a state secret; the global figure of at least 1,032 excludes the thousands of executions believed to have been carried out in China.
Excluding China, 87% of all executions took place in just four countries – Iran, Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Pakistan.

For the first time since 2006, the USA was not one of the five biggest executioners, falling to seventh behind Egypt. The 20 executions in the USA was the lowest in the country since 1991.

In Iraq last year, 145 people were given death sentences and 88 people were executed.

New content at THIRD:

The following community sites -- plus Jody Watley, BLACK AGENDA REPORT, THE GUARDIAN, THE PACIFICA EVENING NEWS and Tavis Smiley -- updated:

  • Sick
    11 hours ago