Friday, May 10, 2019

Is it 2004?

I think it was John Lennon who said all analogies are inherentl false (in THE ROLLING STONE INTERVIEW he and Yoko Ono did in the early 70s) but Michael Tracey's analogy above makes a lot of sense to me.

"Iraq snapshot" (THE COMMON ILLS):
Thursday, May 9, 2019.  The war drums continue beating, the Iraq War remains a testament to all that is wrong with the US government, and much more.

The same people who falsified intelligence before the Iraq War are now beating the drums for war with Iran. All of us have a responsibility to view their claims with skepticism.

Blind faith is not the way to go with government claims.

If the administration isn't going after Iran, it's going after Venezuela.  Rev Jesse Jackson (COMMON DREAMS) observes:

Recent forays into regime change — in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Honduras, Syria — have all ended in disaster, ruinous not only for the people of the country but also for U.S. lives and treasure as well.
Venezuela poses no threat to the U.S. It is a bitterly divided country, politically, racially and economically. The U.S. was party to a failed coup attempt against Hugo Chavez in 2002.
Maduro’s misrule, the falling price of oil, U.S. sanctions have all combined to crater the Venezuelan economy, spreading misery with millions deciding to leave. Bolton recklessly boasts about U.S. plans to help rebuild the economy once Maduro is gone — “planning for what we call the day after.”
No doubt, Trump will want the U.S. or U.S. companies to “take the oil,” as he claims we should have done in Iraq. This folly is likely to put us in the middle of a civil war that will only add to the humanitarian disaster in Venezuela.

Surely, we should have learned from Libya that a bad state is not nearly as bad as a failed state.

Should have.  But do we ever learn?  The actions of our government would indicate otherwise.  As would the actions of our media.  Owen Walsh (FAIR) observes:

Presidential hopeful Tulsi Gabbard has not garnered much press coverage since announcing her bid on February 2; she’s the 13th-most-mentioned Democratic candidate on TV news, according to FAIR’s most recent count (4/14/19).
But when corporate media do talk about the Hawaii congressmember, they tend to reveal more about themselves than about her.
A veteran of the Iraq War, Gabbard is centering her presidential campaign around anti-interventionism (2/3/19): the belief that US interference in foreign countries, especially in the form of regime-change wars, increases the suffering of the citizens in those countries.
When corporate outlets talk about this anti-interventionist position, they primarily use it to negatively characterize the candidates who espouse it. Few in establishment media seem interested in going any deeper or considering the veracity of arguments raised by anti-interventionists.
The Washington Post (1/15/19) listed Gabbard’s anti-interventionism as a factor that hurts her electability in a video titled, “Why Some See Tulsi Gabbard as a Controversial 2020 Candidate.” Part of the video’s explanation: “The congresswoman has raised concern among Democrats in the past when she criticized Obama’s strategy on Iran, ISIS and Syria.”
CBS News (2/4/19) briefly interviewed Honolulu Civil Beats reporter Nick Grube regarding Gabbard’s campaign announcement. The anchors had clearly never encountered the term anti-interventionism before, struggling to even pronounce the word, then laughing and saying it “doesn’t roll off the tongue.” When asked to define the candidate’s position, Grube equated it to President Trump’s foreign policy. But “America First” rallying cries aside, it hardly seems accurate to call Trump an anti-interventionist, given his administration’s regime change efforts in Venezuela, his unilateral reimposition of sanctions on Iran (, 5/2/19) and his escalation of the drone wars (Daily Beast, 11/25/18).

When Gabbard appears on talkshows, she is typically on the receiving end of baseless questions coated in assumptions of military altruism. Gabbard appeared on ABC’s The View (2/20/19) and articulated her argument that US intervention does more harm than good to the people purportedly being helped. Rather than respond to any of the points she raised, however, the hosts resorted to the kinds of shallow questions that have been supporting interventionism for decades.

Iraq is an ongoing war and an ongoing nightmare.  XINHUA reports:

In the early morning, IS militants broke into the house of the mayor of al-Gawar village in the southwest of Mosul city, some 400 km north of the capital Baghdad, killing him, his wife and four of his sons, and injuring two of his other family members, said Ahmed Ali from the media office of the Nineveh Operations Command.
Iraqi security forces rushed to the scene and launched a search operation to track the assailants, Ali added.

In the central province of Salahudin, IS militants stormed a mill and shot dead the guard in a village near the town of Shirqat, some 280 km north of Baghdad, Mohammed al-Bazi, from Salahudin's provincial police, told Xinhua.

ISIS was never defeated, we noted that in real time.  Others slowly caught on or slowly found their voices a little later.  Now it's pretty much accepted that ISIS continues to operate in Iraq.  RUDAW reports this morning:

ISIS was declared defeated in Iraq in December 2017, but the group remains a serious security threat. The militants have returned to their underground insurgency roots, but with more sophistication as they seek to take advantage of divisions in Iraqi society.

Islamic State (ISIS) militants in Iraq spent the first three months of the year focused on “reconstitution and recruitment,” according to a US Defense Department report released on May 7.

There are daily reports of ISIS militants carrying out hit-and-run attacks on security personnel and infrastructure, and kidnapping and killing local officials and civilians in areas where massive security gaps exist – primarily in the desert regions of Anbar near the border with Syria and in the disputed areas where there are gaps between Iraqi and Kurdish forces.

“In addition, ISIS focused on exploiting weaknesses and failure of the Iraqi government, which has struggled to rebuild areas liberated from ISIS and provide basic services and economic opportunities to millions of Iraqis, particularly in Sunni areas where ISIS recruiting efforts are strongest,” the Defense report stated.

In the disputed area around Makhmour, ISIS militants are essentially operating freely, even in daylight hours, and are making efforts to forge friendly ties with Sunni locals. Residents in Mosul, who say they receive minimal support from Baghdad for reconstruction of the war-ravaged city, believe government corruption has done more damage to their city than ISIS. 

ISIS was never defeated.  Iraq was so bad off -- due to their government (installed by the US) -- that a terrorist group that resorts to violence was able to take over swaths of land.  When the bulk of the territory was finally (years later) taken back from ISIS, foolish voices wrongly hailed that as a victory and the end of ISIS.  The goal of terrorism is not to take over land.  It is not governance.  ISIS had morphed into something else because of all that was wrong with the failed state of Iraq.  All re-taking Mosul did was allow ISIS to focus on their primary aims once again.

It's important to remember that ISIS rose before when the Iraqi government was abusing its people and when it had no Minister of Defense nor a Minister of the Interior.  Some pretend that the government no longer abuses its people (many residents of Mosul and Basra would argue differently) but there's no denying that, from October of last year to the present, the Iraqi government has been operating without a Minister of Defense, without a Minister of Interior.

Who gets punished in Iraq?

Dropping back to the snapshot from Tuesday, April 30th:

For those who've forgotten, the group labeled as "devil worshipers" by the international press throughout the first decade of the Iraq War suddenly got a rehab when they merged with the neocons to implore that more US troops be sent into Iraq.  Apparently, their religion renders them ineffective in battle so they needed others to fight for them.  For reasons they might want to address, the Iraqi military didn't feel the need to help them.  The Kurdish peshmerga did and their thanks for that help was to be endlessly attacked by Yazidi leaders.

In the end, the Yazidi leadership just can't seem to get along with anyone.

Now they're saying that children should be discarded.  MANORAMAOLINE explains, "Those who had children with IS fighters faced a difficult choice: either remain ex-communicated from their Yazidi relatives, or leave the children behind. Dozens who returned to the Yazidi heartland of  Sinjar in northwest Iraq in recent months chose the latter."


What a religion.

Stay away or abandon your child.

What a religion.

I think the world needs to register this.  I think the world needs to grasp that the official Yazidi position is that children should be abandoned -- even infants.

And the world should grasp that and remember it so that the next time the Yazidis -- in all their pathetic splendor -- are unable to fight for themselves and are whining that they need help?  Don't pick up the phone.  Just let it ring.

People who scapegoat innocent children are not people you want as allies.

Their leadership is war like and demands one war after another.  They've made known that the US should remain in Syria.  I'm sorry, who asked them?  If they think fighters need to be in Syria, why don't they take their delicate little asses over their themselves.  They're so very good, the Yazidi leadership, at insisting others fight.

It's past time that the rank and file Yazidis either reject their leadership or accept that they're telling the world that they're okay with this.

What is being done here is appalling.  It's truly an indecency.  It's also how hate is bred and it is how never-ending wars are launched.  These children will grow up feeling scapegoated and attacked and persecuted.  It is perfectly natural that they will want to respond as adults.  What kind of an idiot, what grown adult, sets that in motion?

It's the 21st century, unless you're a Yazidi leader.  In which case, it's the Dark Ages.

Jane Arraf (MORNING EDITION, NPR) reports on this issue today:

It's the night before a group of Yazidi women and children freed from ISIS in Syria cross the border home to Iraq.
A pale young woman with shrapnel wounds stretches out on a mattress. An older woman in a velveteen housedress leans against the wall cradling her bandaged arm — broken by an ISIS wife who accused her of taking food in the last days of the caliphate.
On the floor near a small heater warming the concrete room, a 5-year-old girl has been crying for so long that her sobs have turned to jagged coughs.
Her mother, who is 22, sits on the floor holding the girl's head in her lap, smoothing the hair off her face as she cries. The woman's other hand reaches out to grasp the tiny fingers of her sleeping 2-year-old son. It will likely be the last night she will spend with both her children. Her daughter is the child of her Yazidi husband, murdered by ISIS. The boy, Ibrahim, the son of a Moroccan ISIS fighter who enslaved her, won't be allowed to go home with her.

Five years after the ISIS genocide against the ancient Yazidi religious minority in northern Iraq, hundreds of women are being forced to choose between returning home and keeping their young children born as a result of rape by ISIS fighters.
While leaders of the conservative religion decreed early on that the roughly 3,500 kidnapped Yazidi women would be welcomed back, they have drawn the line at accepting children with ISIS fathers. Many of the women were held as sex slaves. Because of the deep stigma against victims of rape in the Arab and Kurdish region in which Yazidis live, the decree welcoming them back was unprecedented.
"It's been three years and he wasn't apart from me for even a minute, and I leave him in one minute?" says the boy's mother. "I love him just like my daughter, but my parents won't accept him. Nothing is in my hands." She starts to sob, and soon almost everyone else in the room is in tears. NPR is not using the woman's and her daughter's names because of the sensitivity of the situation.

The little girl has been crying since morning, when they made an earlier attempt to cross the border, leaving Ibrahim behind. They returned to the village when they found the border crossing closed for the day.
"My daughter was crying, saying, 'Why is my brother not coming with us? I want to go back to Ibrahim,' " says the woman. "When I came back, he saw the car, and he ran toward me and hugged me. It was very painful."
"All the mothers cry because they are from the mother's flesh and blood," says Fahima Suleiman, one of the Yazidi women helping to take care of the women and children freed from captivity in Syria. "They don't want to give them up. ... But if [the children] go with the mother, the family doesn't accept them and the community doesn't accept them, so they are forced to leave them here."
She says any family in Iraq taking in a child from an ISIS father would be shunned by the Yazidi community: "No one will look at them. No one will drink their water. No one will visit them."

Women being torn from their children or exiled?  That's a product of the ongoing, still illegal Iraq War.  And in the face of this and so much more, some in the US are determined to not only keep the Iraq War going but also to sell new wars on Iran and Venezuela.   It gets worse in Iraq.  Human Rights Watch noted earlier this week:

The Iraqi government should reject a plan that would unlawfully detain families with perceived Islamic State (also known as ISIS) affiliation, Human Rights Watch said today. In early 2019, Iraq’s Implementation and Follow Up National Reconciliation Committee presented to Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi a proposal calling for the internment of up to 280,000 people, primarily women and their children. 
“The Iraqi government proposal to confine alleged families of ISIS members not only violates international law but is also contrary to the government’s stated aim of reconciling populations post-ISIS,” said Lama Fakih, deputy Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. “Detaining families not accused of any crimes is a form of collective punishment that will fuel resentment and put the lives of thousands of people on endless hold.”
In a meeting on April 7, the committee’s president, Dr. Mohammed Salman al-Saadi, shared an outline of the plan with Human Rights Watch. He said that it would affect all spouses, children, siblings, and parents of alleged ISIS members, whether the member is dead, disappeared, or in detention. Human Rights Watch raised its concerns with the proposal in letters to Abdul-Mahdi and President Barham Salih in late April.

Interior Ministry officials have told Human Rights Watch that the plan would affect an estimated 250,000 people. Humanitarian agencies believe that there are another 31,000 Iraqis in refugee and displacement camps in northeast Syria that the Iraqi government is returning home. Government officials have said they suspect that many of these returning families might be ISIS-affiliated.
[. . .]
Iraqi security forces would guard the compounds but would not be allowed to enter, al-Saadi said, addressing a consistent problem in Iraq’s camps for the displaced. Inside the compound, the Interior Ministry’s community policing department would provide law enforcement, primarily through its female staff. However, the head of the community policing department in Baghdad, Khalid Lamuhana, told Human Rights Watch that his unit currently has just 752 staff members across the whole country, including only about 20 women.
The Implementation and Follow Up National Reconciliation Committee would negotiate returns of interned families to their areas of origin. Only after an agreement is secured with local communities and the interned families have completed deradicalization would the authorities allow them to return home. Al-Saadi did not specify a time frame. He said the families would only receive permanent documentation once they are approved to leave the compound.
The government’s proposal, if implemented, would violate Iraq’s obligations under international law, Human Rights Watch said. In the context of a non-international armed conflict, such as in Iraq, international human rights law continues to apply. International human rights law prohibits arbitrary detention and requires promptly taking people in custody before a judge and charging them with a criminal offense or releasing them. Any deprivation of liberty must be according to law that is “accessible, understandable, non-retroactive and applied in a consistent and predictable way,” and allows individuals being detained to have their detention judicially reviewed. Any detention that lacks such legal basis is both unlawful and arbitrary.
International human rights law and humanitarian law allow punishment for people found responsible for crimes only after a fair trial to determine individual guilt. Imposing collective punishment on families, villages, or communities violates the laws of war and amounts to a war crime. Similarly, ordering the forced displacement of civilians for reasons connected with the conflict, apart from imperative military reasons or for their protection, is also a war crime. Under international human rights law, children may be detained only as a measure of last resort and for the shortest appropriate period of time.
The plan could also violate Iraqi law, Human Rights Watch said. Iraq’s Constitution enshrines the right of every Iraqi to free movement, travel, and residence inside and outside of Iraq. Human Rights Watch knows of no laws passed that would allow the government to rescind those rights and to confine people not accused of committing a crime. Two senior judges in Baghdad told Human Rights Watch that the proposal could easily be challenged in court.
These actions are not a recipe for peace or for reconciliation.  They are part of prolonging and continuing a war.

This is a war that former US senator and former vice president Joe Biden supported -- gladly and willingly.  Now he wants to be president and a lot of people feel he has questions to answer.  Former US senator Mike Gravel is also running for the Democratic Party's presidential nomination.

How long will we continue to deny that the leading candidate for the Democratic nomination is simply a racist?

William Rivers Pitt (TRUTHOUT) offers:

Biden’s professed respect for war criminal Dick Cheney four years ago was only the tip of the iceberg. His (third) presidential campaign was leaning on his bonny relationship with Republicans before it officially started. “I read in The New York Times today that one of my problems if I were to run for president, I like Republicans. OK, well, bless me father for I have sinned,” he said at the Conference of Mayors back in January while ironically making the sign of the cross.
There are a whole bunch of Democrats in Michigan who don’t appreciate the joke. On the eve of the historic 2018 midterm elections, Biden went to Benton Harbor and sang the praises of Republican incumbent Rep. Fred Upton, who was in a nip-and-tuck race with Democratic challenger Matt Longjohn. With three weeks still to go before the vote, the quest to regain control of the House of Representatives from the GOP hinged on every close race.
“Mr. Biden stunned Democrats and elated Republicans by praising Mr. Upton while the lawmaker looked on from the audience,” reported The New York Times. “The local Democratic Party pleaded with Mr. Biden to repair what it saw as a damaging error, to no avail. On Nov. 6, Mr. Upton defeated his Democratic challenger by four and a half percentage points.”

Biden, it should be noted, was paid $200,000 for his appearance at the event, neither the first nor the last time he has enjoyed the comforts of Republican money. Last I heard, Michigan is pretty important to any candidate who hopes to become president. To quote the Starks of Winterfell: The North remembers, Mr. Biden.

Adolph Reed and Cornel West (BLACK AGENDA REPORT) point out:

Biden’s history regarding women and gender issues is as checkered as his record on race. As clueless and distasteful as his history of smarmy dealings with individual women is, his public record is worse. On reproductive freedom, through the 1970s he was openly anti-abortion and, as Andrew Cockburn reports  in a fine Harper’s article, asserted in a 1974 interview that he felt that Roe v Wade “went too far”and that he didn’t think “a woman has the sole right to say what should happen to her body”. He supported the Hyde amendment, which denied federal funding for abortions and opposed the use of US foreign aid for abortion research.
Of course, his most conspicuous affront to women was his role as chair of the Senate judiciary committee in condoning committee members’ vile and viciously sexist attacks on Anita Hill when she came forward to testify against the supreme court nominee Clarence Thomas. He then abruptly adjourned the hearing while two other female former employees of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission under Thomas were waiting to give testimony corroborating Hill’s allegations; Biden thus assured confirmation of one of the worst, most dangerously conservative supreme court appointees of the 20th century.
In addition to Biden’s disturbing record on domestic policy, he has been a consistent warmonger. He has supported every military intervention he’s been able to, including, most disastrously voting for the 2002 resolution authorizing war against Iraq and ushering the country into the endless war against “terror” we remain immersed in.

As times have changed, Biden has expressed retrospective misgivings about some of those earlier actions and stances. For example, he very recently attempted to offer an apology of sorts, more like an unpology, to Anita Hill , which she quite understandably rejected. And he remains a pure, dyed-in-the-wool neoliberal, as much as ever a tool of Wall Street and corporations.We deserve better than a candidate who wants us to look past his record and focus only on the image he wants to project and, when that tack fails, can offer progressives only a “my bad”.

The following sites updated: