Thursday, December 17, 2020

Turley on Swalwell and Ava and C.I. on disco

Eric Swalwell's actions should be investigated and he should probably be kicked out of Congress.  The media largerly ignores what he has done.  Otherwise, he gets praised by partisan idiots.

Taking on this nonsense?  Jonathan Turley:

Even in today’s hyperbolic political environment, a declaration on Fox News this afternoon by Brad Woodhouse, the former DNC Communications Director, is breathtaking.  Asked whether Swalwell should have been left on the House Intelligence Committee after an alleged intimate relationship with a Chinese spy, Woodhouse declared Swalwell did everything right after being notified by the FBI. He then added “we should give Eric Swalwell the congressional medal of honor his conduct.” As a military history buff, the comparison did not sit well with me, but it was particularly odd coming from Woodhouse.
     The Congressional Medal of Honor recognizes brave corporals, not corporeal bravery.  Just in case there is a need for the distinction, consider Corporal Mitchell Red Cloud Jr.
      Here is the CMH inscription:

Rank and organization: Corporal, U S. Army, Company E, 19th Infantry Regiment, 24th Infantry Division. Place and date: Near Chonghyon, Korea, 5 November 1950. Entered service at: Merrilan Wis. Born: 2 July 1924, Hatfield, Wis. G.O. No.: 26, 25 April 1951. Citation: Corporal. Red Cloud, Company E, distinguished himself by conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity above and beyond the call of duty in action against the enemy. From his position on the point of a ridge immediately in front of the company command post he was the first to detect the approach of the Chinese Communist forces and give the alarm as the enemy charged from a brush-covered area less than 100 feet from him. Springing up he delivered devastating pointblank automatic rifle fire into the advancing enemy. His accurate and intense fire checked this assault and gained time for the company to consolidate its defense. With utter fearlessness he maintained his firing position until severely wounded by enemy fire. Refusing assistance he pulled himself to his feet and wrapping his arm around a tree continued his deadly fire again, until he was fatally wounded. This heroic act stopped the enemy from overrunning his company’s position and gained time for reorganization and evacuation of the wounded. Corporal. Red Cloud’s dauntless courage and gallant self-sacrifice reflects the highest credit upon himself and upholds the esteemed traditions of the U.S. Army.

He wrapped himself around a tree to fight off the Chinese.

Red Cloud was a Ho-Chunk Native American born in Hatfield, Wisconsin. He served in combat with the Marines in World War II and was wounded.  They wanted to medically discharge him but he refused and went on to fight with the Marines at Okinawa.  He then enlisted with the Army in 1945 and fought in Korea.  He was shot eight times and kept fighting.  That is an encounter with the Chinese that is worthy to repeat to our children unlike Swalwell’s brave encounter with Fang Fang.

While not ignoring any distinction Swalwell achieved in his “action,’ the CMH is meant to recognize some who “distinguishes himself conspicuously by gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty.” Whatever call Swalwell was answering, it was not the call of duty for a CMH.

Again Swalwell should be investigated.  

"TV: The tragedy in HBO's Bee Gees' documentary" (Ava and C.I., THE THIRD ESTATE SUNDAY REVIEW):

We could write a multi-volume book about all the lies and errors in the special.  We're going to instead move to the narrative regarding disco and zoom in on that.  The 'documentary' tries to tell you that (a) the Bee Gees were defeated as popular recording artists because of the death of disco and (b) that disco was killed off by racists and homophobes.  

Both narratives are simplistic and artificial.

Let's deal with the latter because this really enraged us.  


Where are the women?  Lulu, British pop star, appears but only because she was married to a Brother Gibb.  The men behind the 'documentary' -- Frank Miller (director and producer) and Mark Monroe (screenwriter and producer) can't find any women worth talking to.  This despite the fact that Olivia Newton-John was a friend of the Brothers Gibb, a star at the same time and recorded their music.  Also ignored?  Barbra Streisand -- who is spoken about in the film but does not go on camera.  (With Barbara, she knows truth and may not have wanted to lie.)  Diana Ross is shown  but not interviewed.  (We checked, Diana was not asked to go on camera.)  Dionne Warwick is noted but not interviewed.  Barbra, Diana and Dionne all worked with the brothers Gibb -- each for one album.  But they weren't brought on to talk.

A fat and wrinkled Justin Timberlake is brought on to giggle in that girlish and fey manner of his.  Nick Jonas wasn't even born when the Bee Gees were making hits but he's brought on as an expert as well.  What the Bee Gees and Chris Martin (Coldplay) have in common escapes us but there he is in front of the camera.  Male critics are brought on.

Where are the women?

Mr. Nicky Siano babbles on about "the gay and the Black community" in a way that reminds us of all those segments on MSNBC with Keith Olbermann and Michael Mustafo attacking women -- reminded us of how elderly gay White men can be some of the worst sexists.

Sexism.  The backlash against disco was about racism, homophobia and sexism.  It's amazing how so many are eager to drop women out of the storyline.  

Disco queens?  Donna Summer, Gloria Gaynor, Diana Ross, Thelma Houston, Anita Ward, Janice Marie Johnson and Hazel Payne (A Taste of Honey), Cheryl Lynn, Alicia Bridges, Andrea True Connection, . . . 

How do you leave women out of the story of disco?  

Maybe you leave women out of the story by refusing to interview them?  Or acknowledge them even?

Disco was about liberation.  It was about sexual liberation, it was about liberation period.  Diana Ross' "Love Hangover," "Once In The Morning," "Lovin' Livin' and Givin'," "Top of the World," "What You Gave Me," "The Boss," "No One Gets The Prize," "It's My House," "Upside Down," "I'm Coming Out" . . .  These are songs where women are making real statements.  Because they were disco queens, some of these statements were adopted by gay men who loved the music and loved the divas.  Cher became a disco queen with "Take Me Home."  That was a song where she picks up a man and she takes him home.  Women were strong in disco songs.  They had power.

Please note, also, that, as Cher admitted, a lot of people tried to talk her out of doing disco.  No one ever tried to talk Mick Jagger and Keith Richards out of disco ("Miss You"), no one tried to talk Rod Stewart out of it ("Da Ya Think I'm Sexy," "Passion").   But when Cher is going to do disco, a number of people freak out and tell her not to do it.  

Read the whole thing, more amazing work from Ava and C.I.

"Iraq snapshot" (THE COMMON ILLS):

Wednesday, December 16, 2020.  The US government destroyed the lives of girls and women in Iraq and the US government has done nothing to repair the damage.

"Identity politics.'' Some on the left keep hissing that.  You wonder if they have a brain -- one capable of learning and expanding.  No this or that woman brought into Joe Biden's administration is probably not going to do anything for the country just because of gender.  The glass barrier has been broken regarding press secretaries and heads of cabinet -- and Kamala Harris just broke the glass ceiling on the vice president.  That really just leaves the office of president.  And that will be broken at some point.  Conditions for women in the US are not great.  But they are better than in many countries and there are role models -- good ones, not corporate whores -- for young girls throughout the country.  


The British ambassador in Iraq, Stephen Hickey, visited Najaf on Tuesday and affirmed his country's support for Iraq.

Hickey visited the holy city at the invitation of al-Rafidain Center for Dialogue, where he delivered a lecture on relations between Iraq and Britain.

During his visit, Hickey discussed with seniors officials ways to enhance relations between the two countries and assured Iraq of international financial support to conduct the elections next June.

Speaking during a news conference Hickey said: "I am sure there will be financial support via the United Nations to conduct these elections and it is important that there be monitoring by the United Nations of these elections."

Stephen Hickey is the UK ambassador to Iraq.  All of UK's ambassadors to Iraq have been men.  Does it matter?  The same is true of the US.

The US destroyed the rights of women in Iraq.  Iraqi women have had to fight for their rights and did so against the extremists that the US government backed.  Ava and I met with members of Barack Obama's transition team in late November of 2008.  We explained that (a) there are qualified women who can be the ambassador to Iraq -- we provided examples, including Ann Wright but also women who wouldn't be so 'controversial' to centrist Barack.  We explained that (b) women's roles in Iraq had been reduced and that it would be a plus for Iraq if a woman had a powerful role.  We got nods and agreement and, after each meeting, we'd look at each other and say, "They're not going to do a damn thing."  And they didn't.

Barack did nothing.  Ryan Crocker was in office when Barack was sworn in.  Barack then nominated: Chris Hill, James Jeffrey, Brett McGurk, Robert S. Beecroft, Stuart E. Jones and Douglas Silliman. All but Brett McGurk was confirmed.  We were lucky to have friends in the Senate, Democrats, who would say hell no to Brett.  What is acceptable in the US doesn't help women in Iraq.  Meaning, his being married and having affairs in Iraq, leaving his wife finally to marry a woman who left her husband?  No, that man could not be an ambassador in the regressive and restrictive Iraq that the US government created.  Any Iraqi woman visiting or working for the US Embassy in Iraq would have a target on her back.  This is a country that has 'honor' killings -- where women are killed for various 'disgraces' -- like being raped, or marrying the 'wrong' man or whatever they've done that has offended the sensibilities of those who would rob women of every right that they have.  These people stood up to Barack and he had to tell Brett that the post just wasn't going to be his.

But look at that list.  In eight years, he nominated six people and all six were men.  There were, in Barack's mind (Joe Biden's too), no women who could handle the duties of being an ambassador.

Now in the US, the net effect is that we just realize how stupid and sexist our leaders are.

But putting a woman in that position could have helped women and girls in Iraq.  In Iraq, that isn't 'identity politics.'  This is about providing a role model, this is about making men who aren't necessarly wanting to interact with women learn that they have to do so.

It would have made a difference.

If you're wondering, there were five other US ambassadors to Iraq since the 2003 US-led invasion.  John Negroponte was the first, next came Zalmay Khalizad and then Ryan Crocker.  Those were under Bully Boy Bush.  We've covered the five Barack got confirmed (and six nominated).  Donald Trump has had two if you count acting ambassador Joey R. Hood.  He was replaced with Ambassador Matthew H. Tueller.

The US is responsible for the destruction of the rights of women in Iraq.  So is the UK and Australia -- the three main leaders of the illegal war.  Today, Australia's Ministry for Foreign Affairs issued the following:

Ambassador to Iraq

  • Media release
16 December 2020

Today I announce the appointment of Ms Paula Ganly as Australia’s next Ambassador to Iraq.

Australia and Iraq have a long history of partnership and cooperation. We stood by Iraq during the Da’esh conflict and continue to work with the Government of Iraq to build a more stable and secure country.

Together with New Zealand, Australian Defence Force personnel have trained more than 47,000 Iraqi security force personnel since early 2015. We have assisted Iraq’s recovery through our $100 million humanitarian and stabilisation assistance package. Australia’s aid package focuses on assisting vulnerable Iraqis, particularly women, girls and people living with disabilities.

With more than 67,000 Australians born in Iraq, our personal ties are strong.

Ms Ganly is a senior career officer with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) and was most recently the Executive Director, Diplomatic Academy. Her career reflects a wealth of experience in diplomatic security, consular policy and ministerial support, having worked in DFAT and the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet.

She has previously served overseas in London, Beijing, Hong Kong, Prague, Seoul, Dhaka and Caracas.

I thank outgoing Ambassador Joanne Loundes for her contributions to advancing Australia’s interests in Iraq since 2018.

\She will be Australia's ninth ambassador to Iraq since the start of the illegal war and the second women -- as the release notes, Joanne Loundes is who Ganly is replacing.  Australia has now found two qualified women but the US can't find one.

UNAMI is the United Nations mission in Iraq.  It is headed by the UN Secretary-General's Special Representative.  There have been seven of them since the start of the illegal war.  Only one, the current one, has been a woman.  Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert since November 1, 2018.  

The US and UK have done nothing to make up for the hell they created for Iraqi women and girls.  Let's remember that just a few years back, the Parliament was trying to pass a law to allow men -- grown men -- to marry girls as young as nine.  Let's remember that they have 'trial marriages' that leave women with a scarlet letter but don't harm the man if the man opts out of the pretend marriage.  

No woman could ever do worse as US Ambassador to Iraq than Chris Hill.  And certainly, many, many women are immensely qualified for the post.  And whomever is picked -- man or woman -- will only implement policy -- they won't make it.  They might argue for or advocate for something but, in the end, they're just implementing policy.  So why can't it be a woman?

And why hasn't the US government made a real effort to help women in Iraq.

Iraq, the land of widows and orphans.  That's thanks to the US-led war.

Illya Tsukanov (SPUTNIK) reports:

The United States first used depleted uranium (DU) ammunition against Iraq during the Gulf War of 1990-1991, and then again during the 2003 invasion. According to available estimates, the US contaminated Iraq with at least 2,320 tonnes of the highly toxic substance, with DU affecting both American servicemen and Iraq’s civilian population.

Baghdad will be filing a case against the United States with European courts over Washington’s use of DU weapons, Iraq’s al-Maalomah News Agency has reported, citing Hatif al-Rikabi, an adviser to the Iraqi parliament’s foreign affairs committee.

Speaking to the news agency on Sunday, al-Rikabi indicated that he would be filing suits in courts in Sweden and Germany over alleged major US crimes, including the use of depleted uranium munitions.

That's damage caused by the US government.  There is other damage the US government caused.  MEMO reports:

Three separate simultaneous bombs targeted liquor stores west of the Iraqi capital, Baghdad, causing material damages, the Iraqi security media cell said.

The Iraqi Defence Ministry's Media Cell said in a statement that an unknown group calling itself Ahl Al-Ma'rouf targeted the stores on Monday night using improvised explosive devices or IEDs.

According to the statement, a fourth bomb attached to a civilian car has exploded in a neighbourhood in western Baghdad, causing material damage.

Local media circulated a statement issued by the group calling on the security forces deployed in the vicinity of liquor stores and nightclubs to withdraw from the areas ahead of the areas being targeted.

So three stores are no more.  Probably stores run by Iraqi Christians since they were alcohol stores.  The radical mob is back and ready to terrorize Iraq.  How?  The US didn't just coddle them, it put their people in charge.  Nouri al-Maliki, forever thug and former prime minister.  That was due to the US and he's part of the thuggery (and the corruption).  

Mustafa Saadoun (AL-MONITOR) provides context on the latest bombing:

Six days earlier, Iraqi security forces dismantled an explosive device near a liquor store in the upscale district of al-Mansour, which is located far from the influence of armed groups.

A group calling itself People of the Good issued a statement on Dec. 14, calling on Iraqi security forces to stay away from liquor shops. "After the number of security forces increased to protect these stores, we call on them to move away from them, because we will continue targeting them until the land of Baghdad is cleared of their filth," the group said.

People of the Good is one of the unknown groups that appeared recently; it is widely believed to be affiliated with Iran-backed Kataib Hezbollah.

AFP notes, "Over the past two months, at least 14 alcohol shops across the city have been firebombed in the middle of the night or just before dawn, with three simultaneous attacks in different districts Monday night alone."   The climate is not good in Iraq.  DAILY SABAH reports:

An Iraqi anti-government protester was shot dead in east Baghdad by masked gunmen on Tuesday evening, according to a security source, a medic and an activist network.

Salah al-Iraqi was well-known for his active role in the rallies that erupted in Iraq's capital and the Shiite-majority south last year, slamming the government as corrupt, inefficient and beholden to neighboring Iran.

Iraqi was killed in the capital's Baghdad al-Jadida district, according to a medic, a security source and the Iraqi Network for Social Media (INSM), a collection of activists who reported on the protests and their aftermath.

Dilan Sirwan (RUDAW) explains:

Prior to his death on Tuesday, Al-Iraqi urged the Iraqi people to not sit down and watch injustice. “The free die, while the cowards rule,” he said in a Facebook post

Social media videos show Al-Iraqi’s coffin being carried by a crowd of mourning and chanting protestors.

Al-Iraqi is not the first activist involved in the protests to be assassinated.

Nearly 560 protesters and security force members have been killed since October 2019, according to data provided in July by Hisham Dawoud, advisor to Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi.

Iraqi security analyst and Rudaw columnist Husham al-Hashimi was assassinated in July by unknown armed groups in Baghdad, with many accusing Iran-backed militias of being behind his death. Despite Kadhimi’s promise to hunt down the killers, no one has been arrested over his death. 

Two high-profile activists in Basra were brazenly killed in the span of a single week in August. 

Back to a previous topic, Tahsin Qasim (RUDAW) reports:

A hundred Shingal (Sinjar) women will become police as part of the recent Erbil-Baghdad security and administration agreement for the disputed area, according to Shingal mayor Mahma Khalil.

As part of the deal’s new armed force to be created from the local population, Yazidi women in Shingal will serve as police for the first time ever.

“I have registered my name for the Shingal police force. It has been my dream to hold a gun someday, to defend my country, and become police,” Halaa Jardo, an applicant to the new force.

Many of those expected to take up the role survived horrors under the Islamic State (ISIS).

That is good news but the KRG region has always led on this issue.  Both the Barzanis and Talibanis, for example, have had strong women in prominent roles.  Those are the two political dynasties in Iraq.

Iraq's ceremonial president Barham Salih Tweeted the following a few days ago:

at Climate Ambition Summit 2020: Iraq is moving into a new, greener era. Iraq will promote renewable energies, reduce carbon emissions and work on the Iraqi response to #ParisAgreement, with focus on role of youth and women in development. #ClimateAction

He is also a Kurd.  The Kurds have led on this issue and we've noted this.  But where is the US?  Something as simple as naming a woman to be ambassador to Iraq is just too much for our so-called leaders.

New content at THIRD:

The following sites updated:

Wednesday, December 16, 2020

What the world needs now

From Sunday, here's  Isaiah's THE WORLD TODAY JUST NUTS "Dianne Does Her Duty"


Tonight/this morning?  Just feeling blah.  But one thing that makes me smile is Diana Ross' cover of "What The World Needs Now."

"Iraq snapshot" (THE COMMON ILLS):

 Tuesday, December 15, 2020.  Joe Biden will be the next president of the United States.

It's over.  Yesterday, the electoral college voted -- as noted in Wally's "THIS JUST IN! IT'S OVER (TELL SIDNEY POWELL)!," Cedric's "Another voting sham cries Sidney Powell!," Ann's "The electoral college conspiracy!" and  Betty's "To the Supreme Court!" -- and Joe Biden will be the next president of the United States. 

Some people had little fits and had to whine that Donald Trump was challenging this or that.  It's the process.  It played out.  There was never a need to panic of have a hissy fit.  Al Gore should have been president in 2000.  Hopefully, the next time  there's a need to challenge, the person will do so and we'll all remember that, in 2020, when Donald exhausted every option, the world did not fall apart.  

What took place was transparent and the rulings from various courts were clear and concise.  We say how the system was designed to work and it did.  

Observers, fair ones -- not just Donald supporters, can rightly note that the media didn't play fair in any manner.  Their behavior was embarrassing and shameful.  But the election results are what they are and the process worked. 

Is Donald still fighting/soldiering on?  At 10:30 pm EST, his campaign was sending everyone -- every e-mail address they had -- an unnamed prize ("weekly impact offer") that you would find about after -- after -- you donated money (a minimum of five dollars).  So it looks like even Donald has accepted the results -- though clearly he's still on the grift.  

If he doesn't accept them?

It's over.  The electoral college voted.  Joe Biden could be revealed tomorrow as the Son of Sam who'd kept it hidden all these years.  Joe would be arrested but that wouldn't make Donald president.  Kamala would be next in line.  The electoral college, as set up in the Constitution, is the last chance.  After they vote, that's it.  

January 20th, Joe Biden is set to be sworn in as the next president of the United States. 

Right now?  Donald Trump remains president.

His legacy isn't much of note.  He could try to change that in his final days in office.

Pardoning Ed Snowden would be a major step and it would be something many would praise him for.  Pardoning Ed and Julian Assange both would do a lot to improve his poor image.  

More likely though, he'll just pull the nonsense Bill Clinton did at the end of his second term when Bill did a lot of executive orders as he was on his way out the door, knowing full well that they weren't laws and that Bully Boy Bush would immediately overturn them.  

If that's all Donald has to offer, his historical note will be a sad and ugly one.

He wanted to remove all US troops from Iraq, we're told.  Well we all have wants, it's our actions we're judged by.  Wasn't that Jimmy Carter's point when he confessed to lusting after other women in his heart?  That we all have wants but it is our actions that count?

He wanted to release all of the JFK files that were supposed to be released. However?  He didn't.  

He was persecuted and I won't deny that reality.  The press and the DNC and ex-CIA trash worked together to destroy him before he was ever sworn in.  That's reality.  And it's part of his legacy.  Yes, they put up walls.

But he was the leader and he should have managed to get around those walls.

His failure to publicly call out James Jeffrey after Jeffrey revealed that he and others intentionally lied to Donald Trump about the number of US troops in Syria after Donald had ordered them to be reduced to a certain number?  That's appalling.  He's exploded on Twitter repeatedly but this was an issue that actually should have had a response.  What Jeffrey was confessing to was treason.  There is no other word for it.  Donald, the president of the United States, in his position of commander-in-chief, gave an order and Jeffrey and others worked behind his back to keep the order from being carried out.  That's treason.  

Jeffrey can resign in protest and go public.  That's allowed.  But what he did is not allowed.  

Now maybe Donald is being nice (it could happen) because treason can result in execution.  Maybe he wants to spare Jeffrey and others a trial.  

I think they should be tried.  Failure to hold them accountable (they can be tried without being executed) sends a message to everyone that you can get away with this.

This especially effects Joe Biden.

We all know Joe is in mental decline.  He shouldn't have run for the presidency.  But he did and now he's the president.  Do we really want to say it's okay for people serving in the administration who disagree with Joe's policy to just lie to him and tell him that it's being carried out?  It goes beyond insubordination, it's treason.  And it shouldn't take place regardless of who is president.

At ALJAZEERA, Zeidon Alkinani writes:

For more than 17 years since its invasion of Iraq, the United States has failed to present itself as a partner interested in supporting Iraqi efforts for democratic and economic development. It has continued to pursue its military and geopolitical interests at the expense of the Iraqi people, their security and wellbeing.

This became clear once again at the beginning of this year when, amid a popular uprising against rampant corruption, sectarian politics, political violence, unemployment, and Iranian interference in Iraq, the Trump administration decided to assassinate in Baghdad top Iranian General Qassem Soleimani. Instead of backing the Iraqi people’s democratic aspirations, Washington once again propped up the dysfunctional political status quo by escalating its confrontation with Iran and in this way, undermining the movement for reform and political change.

In this context, the fact that US President Donald Trump is pursuing his own narrow political interests in Iraq in the last months of his presidency is hardly surprising to Iraqis. His decision to withdraw more US troops from the country is another attempt to present himself as fulfilling his election promises while setting yet another foreign policy trap for the incoming administration of Joe Biden.

In his pursuit of disastrous policies in Iraq, however, Trump is no different from his predecessors. And many Iraqis fear that his successor may bring more of the same.

[. . .]

Having gone through the same failed policies of three consecutive US presidents since 2003, many Iraqis are cautious about expecting much from the upcoming Biden administration.

The Iraqi Kurds are probably the most optimistic about his presidency. They hope he could be “America’s most pro-Kurdish president”, given his past statements on Kurdish statehood and ties with Erbil’s leadership.

Iraq’s Sunni Arabs, who once denounced the US occupation because of their marginalisation on the political scene, are now in favour of a US military presence against the enormous Iranian influence. Biden’s willingness to expand the deployment of US troops will probably be welcomed by Sunni Arab political circles.

The Shia Arabs are ambivalent at best.  The elites – the majority of whom adopt a pro-Iran discourse – will probably evaluate Biden’s administration based on its approach to de-escalation with Iran. But there are also many among the ordinary Shia population who are frustrated by both Tehran and Washington. They would like to see the Iranian grip on Iraq relax and a strong Iraqi national state emerge, but their bitter experience with Trump during the protests of 2019-2020 has dampened their hopes that the US can be an effective anti-Iran influence.

Biden himself has a mixed record on Iraq as a senator and vice president. In June 2006, he proposed a soft partition of Iraq to allow for federal autonomy for the Shia Arab, Sunni Arab, and Kurdish communities, which was welcomed by the Kurds, but rejected by many Arabs.

He continued to promote his plan even amid the war against ISIL (ISIS), calling in a 2014 Washington Post article for “functioning federalism… which would ensure equitable revenue-sharing for all provinces and establish locally rooted security structures”.

Biden would do well to drop this proposal from his foreign policy objectives in Iraq. Solidifying political divisions between the different communities would encourage more political fragmentation and provide even more ground for the expansion of Iranian influence. A semi-autonomous Shia region would most likely fall completely under the control of Tehran.

At FOREIGN POLICY, Farhad Alaaldin teams with Kenneth Pollack to argue for international aid to Iraq:

Iraq is headed for a financial collapse, and in its current fragile state, fiscal ruin is likely to bring down its rickety political system, which could then ignite yet another round of civil war.

[. . . .]

Iraq’s coming crisis is a crisis of liquidity. Iraq will need money to prevent the collapse of its financial system, which would be the first domino to fall. If the United States were willing to pledge a significant amount, perhaps $1 billion, it should be possible to put together a larger package of $5 billion to $10 billion for Iraq with other countries chipping in.

The idea of providing $1 billion in emergency budget support to Iraq may seem impossible at this moment. It shouldn’t. It wouldn’t come out of the pockets of ordinary Americans in the form of increased taxes—and the last 12 years should have taught the United States two important lessons about this part of the world.

First, what happens in the Middle East does not stay there. And second, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure—as Washington’s tragic policies toward Iraq, Syria, and Libya have all demonstrated.

They also insist on tying the future of Iraq to Mustafa al-Kahdimi -- ignoring the reality that he said he'd be a one term prime minister.  They ignore the fact that more money poured into Iraq doesn't end the corruption.

They want to pretend that the state has the problems it does because it has so many government workers.  I'm sorry, which ones are getting $100 million pay checks?  Iraq's population isn't even 40 million.  They bring in how many billions a year?  The state payroll is not the problem -- not when it comes to actual workers.  Now that payroll is padded and that needs to stop.

But quit pretending that the 'corruption' is the system Iraq has (Kenneth is screaming for them to have capitalism and do away with the safety net).  The problem is the various leaders and officials who steal from the public moneys.  

And more aid isn't going to stop that.

Transparency International finds, yearly, Iraq to in the top five of the most corrupt countries in the world.  

As for the shaky government, of course it is.  Mustafa, like every prime minister before him, fled Iraq under Saddam Hussein.  The US and Iran keep putting cowards in charge of the country.  

Equally true, when the people do vote, what do they see?  In 2010, they watched as Joe Biden overturned their votes with The Erbil Agreement.  But we want them to believe voting matters?  And that they have a say in the system?

They only have a say in their government if the US and Iran sign off on it.

Get honest about that.

This 'crisis' by the way?  It was completely anticipated.  That's why Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani called for the government to refuse the IMF.  He did not see the point in borrowing and certainly not in putting 'austerity' thugs in charge of Iraq.

Protests continue in Iraq:

Dhi Qar: Demonstrators continue to arrive at Haboubi Square in the center of Nasiriyah, despite preventing entry to the square by the government forces .
Quote Tweet
هيئة علماء المسلمين في العراق
الهيئة نت| ذي قار: استمرار توافد المتظاهرين إلى ساحة (الحبوبي) وسط مدينة الناصرية، رغم منع القوات الحكومية الدخول للساحة بالقوة. للاشتراك في قناة الهيئة على تطبيق (تيليغرام):

Murat Sofuoglu (TRT WORLD) explains:

While protests have occasionally hit the Kurdish region since 2015, the latest demonstrations have been more intense.

In recent months, many civil servants and their families in Iraq’s Kurdish region have been stuck in a growing political disagreement between Erbil and Baghdad over how the regional government should operate its energy sources, primarily, oil exports.  

Since April, the Iraqi central government has not paid the salaries of the regional government’s civil servants. This includes Peshmergas, the armed forces of the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG), all with the aim to punish the Erbil government’s direct oil exports to other countries without the consent of Baghdad. 

Most of the protests have been concentrated in the cities of Sulaymaniyah and Halapja, which are located in northeastern Iraq near the Iranian border. In both cities, the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), one of the main parties in the Kurdish region, which has long been at loggerheads with the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), the region’s leading political movement led by Masoud Barzani, has a powerful presence. 

Pope Francis is scheduled to visit Iraq in March.  Father Rif’at Bader (VATICAN NEWS) explains the whys for the visit:

Pope Francis goes to Iraq at a time when his predecessors were unable to do so due to the complexities of the pressing conditions that prevailed recently, including wars, sectarian violence, terrorist attacks, and the complexities of the political affairs in that fraternal country.

Pope John Paul II had an earnest wish to visit Iraq in 1999, but due to the blockade which was imposed on Iraq at the time late President Saddam Hussein postponed the visit that was scheduled that year. Thus, the saint pope made a "spiritual" pilgrimage to this country, on March 12, 2000, in order to start the pilgrimage journey in the year of the great jubilee from the country of Prophet Abraham which was fulfilled with a visit to Egypt, Jordan and Palestine. A year later he walked in the steps of Paul the Apostle to Syria.

Today, Pope Francis--who always focuses on respect for the poor, the refugees and the immigrants, as well as their right to a safe life-- goes to Iraq where in recent years Christian and Yazidis, especially from the Nineveh Plain and Mosul and from neighboring towns and cities, have been forcibly displaced to countries of the world in the wake of the terrorist acts conducted by ISIS at the time.

Pope Francis comes to Iraq in the first place to encourage the Christian community in Iraq which has withstood political “turbulences” that took place including foreign wars or in-fighting. There is still a bright and glorious Christian presence despite the dramatic decrease in numbers.

Consequently, the Pontiff wants to encourage those who are steadfast in the land of their ancestors in spite of the successive disasters especially during his scheduled visit to the city of Erbil, where there are currently good numbers of forcibly displaced people from Mosul and the towns of the Nineveh Plain. His Holiness will also visit Mosul and Qaraqosh township to further encourage the forcibly displaced who live abroad to possibly return to the land of their ancestors and grandparents.

Pope Francis wants in the second place to promote dialogue and common living  between all the religious components, whether at the ecumenical level between sisterly Churches, or through Islamic-Christian relations. It is well-known that there is not only Christian-Sunni dialogue, but there is also Shiite-Christian dialogue. On the land of Iraq, there is a historical presence of Sabean-Mandeans, Yazidis, Baha'is, as well as  other religions and traditions.

Furthermore, Pope Francis--who is the man who supports dialogue-- wants to emphasize the feeling, the duty and the responsibility of fraternal common living among the various components of the Iraqi people, under the umbrella of citizenship, especially a few months after he signed an important document called "Fratelli Tutti" or "We are all brothers and sisters."

Pope Francis will definitely send a message for the pursuit of paths of peace, dialogue, fraternity, cooperation and constructive cooperation among the various politicians in Iraq in order to rebuild a strong modern Iraqi state after years of hard and bitter wars, sectarian squabbles, and attacks by terrorist groups, so as to restore the spirit of hope among all Iraqis, especially the youth, for  a better future.

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