There are many great Christmas songs including "Silent Night." However, for me, the one that always grabs me is "Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas."
It is a great song whomever sings it but Judy Garland did the definitive version of the song years ago in the film MEET ME IN ST. LOUIS.
The only version that ever came close, for me anyway, was the Pretenders' cover in the 80s.
"Iraq snapshot" (THE COMMON ILLS):
Thursday, December 24, 2020. Donald Trump considers response to an attack in Iraq on Sunday (that he blames on Iran -- who may or may not be responsible), his pardons get coverage, and more.
That video features Mark Kimmitt as the expert. Who?
Mark Kimmitt was the Assistant Secretary of State for Political Affairs for the final five months of Bully Boy Bush's occupation of the White House. He was also a Brigadier General in the US military and he was the subject of an internal DoD investigation in 2008 at the behest of then-US Senator Joe Biden. It involved his manner of leadership and included a focus on his time in Baghdad in 2004. The charges included that he was deficient in leadership and that he referred to women with profanity. There is a rumored charge that is much more serious but was found lacking so we aren't going to mention it.
He is also known for lying to the public about a US attack on a wedding in Syria. From the PRESS ASSOCIATION, May 24, 2004:
A home video taken in Iraq supports victims' claims that US forces bombed a wedding celebration and killed up to 45 people in the attack.
The dead included the cameraman, Yasser Shawkat Abdullah, hired to record the festivities, which ended on Tuesday night before the planes struck. The video was obtained yesterday by Associated Press Television News (APTN)..
The US military says it is investigating the attack, which took place in the village of Mogr el-Deeb about five miles from the Syrian border, but that all evidence so far indicates the target was a safe house for foreign fighters.
"There was no evidence of a wedding: no decorations, no musical instruments found, no large quantities of food or leftover servings one would expect from a wedding celebration," Brig Gen Mark Kimmitt, the chief US military spokesman in Iraq , said on Saturday.
"There may have been some kind of celebration. Bad people have celebrations too."
But video that APTN shot a day after the attack shows fragments of musical instruments, pots and pans, and brightly coloured beddings used for celebrations, scattered around the bombed-out tent.
In the video above, Kimmitt is discussing what might happen should elements of or loyal to the Iranian government attack US troops or US facilities and workers in Iraq. The issue is raised by Sunday's attack. Dropping back to earlier this week:
The big news in Iraq today? A missile attack. Aqeel Najim, Hamdi Alkhshali and Nicky Robertson (CNN) report:
A rocket attack on Baghdad's diplomatic Green Zone Sunday night was "a terrorist act" that undermines Iraq's international reputation, the country's president says.
The U.S. Embassy confirms rockets targeting the International Zone resulted in the engagement of Embassy defensive systems. There was some minor damage on the Embassy compound but no injuries or casualties. 1/
We have received reports of damage to residential areas near the U.S. Embassy and possibly some injuries to innocent Iraqi civilians. As we have said many times... 2/
... these sorts of attacks on diplomatic facilities are a violation of international law and are a direct assault on the sovereignty of the Iraqi government. 3/
We call on all Iraqi political and governmental leaders to take steps to prevent such attacks and hold accountable those responsible. 4/4
Hadi al-Amari heads the Badr militia (which the US government defines as a terrorist organization). ALSUMARIA reports that al-Amari has condemned the rocket attack. ALSUMARIA also has a photo essay about a nearby apartment that was hit by a photo essay.
The attack was Sunday. Yesterday, US CENTCOM issued the following statement:
Dec. 23, 2020 --
The Dec. 20, 2020 rocket attack on the green zone in Iraq was almost certainly conducted by an Iranian-backed Rogue Militia Group. While this 21 rocket attack caused no U.S. injuries or casualties, the attack did damage buildings in the U.S. Embassy compound, and was clearly NOT intended to avoid casualties.
These groups are Iranian-backed because Iran provides both material
support and direction. They are rogue because they are actually acting
on behalf of Iranian interests and direction in a direct betrayal of
Iraqi sovereignty. It is important for the people of Iraq to understand
that past attacks by the Iranian-backed Rogue Militia Groups have killed
more Iraqi civilians and members of the Iraqi Security Forces than they
have killed Americans. The United States will hold Iran accountable for
the deaths of any Americans that result from the work of these
Iranian-backed Rogue Militia Groups.
Captain Bill Urban, USN, U.S. Central Command Spokesman
Steve Holland (REUTERS) notes, "Top U.S. national security officials agreed on Wednesday on a proposed range of options to present to President Donald Trump aimed at deterring any attack on U.S. military or diplomatic personnel in Iraq, a senior administration official told Reuters."
In other news, AP reports on President Donald Trump's latest pardons including of four Blackwater mercenaries:
In the group announced Tuesday night were four former government contractors convicted in a 2007 massacre in Baghdad that left more a dozen Iraqi civilians dead and caused an international uproar over the use of private security guards in a war zone.
Supporters of Nicholas Slatten, Paul Slough, Evan Liberty and Dustin Heard, the former contractors at Blackwater Worldwide, had lobbied for pardons, arguing that the men had been excessively punished in an investigation and prosecution they said was tainted by problems and withheld exculpatory evidence. All four were serving lengthy prison sentences.
The pardons reflected Trump’s apparent willingness to give the benefit of doubt to American servicemembers and contractors when it comes to acts of violence in warzones against civilians. Last November, for instance, he pardoned a former U.S. Army commando who was set to stand trial next year in the killing of a suspected Afghan bomb-maker and a former Army lieutenant convicted of murder for ordering his men to fire upon three Afghans.
“Paul Slough and his colleagues didn’t deserve to spend one minute in prison,” said Brian Heberlig, a lawyer for one of the four pardoned Blackwater defendants. “I am overwhelmed with emotion at this fantastic news.”
Any anger over the pardons is understandable and we have covered the slaughter in depth. Martin Chulov and Michael Safi (GUARDIAN) do a service by noting the following:
The 14 victims killed by the Blackwater guards were Ahmad Haitham Ahmad al-Rubaie, Mahassin Mohssen Kadhum Al-Khazali, Osama Fadhil Abbas, Ali Mohammed Hafedh Abdul Razzaq, Mohamed Abbas Mahmoud, Qasim Mohamed Abbas Mahmoud, Sa’adi Ali Abbas Alkarkh, Mushtaq Karim Abd Al-Razzaq, Ghaniyah Hassan Ali, Ibrahim Abid Ayash, Hamoud Sa’eed Abttan, Uday Ismail Ibrahiem, Mahdi Sahib Nasir and Ali Khalil Abdul Hussein.
They undercut their solid work with nonsense like this:
As the incoming president, Biden is certain to be lobbied heavily by Iraqi officials to reverse the decision. “It will be the first thing we discuss with him,” said an aide to Mustafa al-Kadhimi, the Iraqi prime minister.
If you're so stupid that you write something like that, maybe you shouldn't write.
I have not slammed this pardon. My stance is the same and has been throughout the life of this site -- 16 years now -- and throughout my own life. I don't slam pardons. Doesn't mean I agree with them. I don't police the pardon power. I believe that, among others, Leonard Peltier should be pardoned.
The pardon is a right granted the US president by the Constitution. I think more pardons should be granted. For some on the right, Peltier is off limits and deserve to rot in prison. I don't agree with that. I see him as a political prisoner. I don't go reactionary on their choices because I do not like it when they go reactionary on leftists in needs of pardon.
But the stupidity here is that Joe Biden, when he becomes president, or anyone who is president, can overturn another president's pardons. That would destroy the whole power the Constitution grants. It would lead to back and forths to the end of time -- back and forths that would do on well past the death of the person pardoned.
For the power to exist, it has to exist: Meaning a president has the right to pardon. When you take back or overturn that power, don't pretend it exists.
There is no legal precedent for overturning a presidential pardon. For THE GUARDIAN to fail to note that is fake news of the worst sort.
And do not e-mail me with garbage about Andrew Johnson's pardons and what President Ulysses S. Grant did. That's not the same thing. Johnson pardoned two people but the pardons weren't issued. They were delivered but basically intentionally not opened and recognized. As a result, new President Grant pulled them back. Had they been opened and the two men set free, Grant couldn't have done what he did. We do not live in the days of the Pony Express. Trumps pardons have been issued and are recognized. This is in no way a similar situation.
The nonsense from THE GUARDIAN will be read and give people false hope of something that will not happen -- that might include people in Iraq. Shame on them. Again, that is the epitome of fake news.
Win Without War issued a statement that includes, "With today’s pardon, Trump once again sent a signal to the world that while the United States government supposedly champions human rights, when it comes to taking responsibility for its own actions, it will happily excuse even the most heinous crimes."
Actually, the stronger message sent is that Win Without War is a piece of crap, do-nothing group. They have no message on Iraq nor do they recognize the ongoing war. They are a partisan organization which only exists to tar and feather Republicans. Would that tar and feathering Republicans end the never-ending war, I'd gladly join in. But the reality is that Democrats have also allowed the war to continue -- not to mention allowed it to start.
For opposition to the pardon that is actually ethically grounded, see Patrick Martin's response at WSWS.
We'll wind down with this from Andrew Bacevich's latest column at COMMON DREAMS:
Surely, though, war has contributed in no small way to “the bloated mass of rank unwieldy woe” besetting our nation today. And were Merle Haggard to update “Are the Good Times Really Over?” he would doubtless include the 2003 invasion and occupation of Iraq alongside Vietnam as prominent among the factors that have sent this country caroming downward.
In the evening of my life, as I reflect on the events of our time that ended up mattering most, the wars in Vietnam and Iraq top my list. Together, they define the poles around which much of my professional life has revolved, whether as a soldier, teacher, or writer. It would be fair to say that I'm haunted by those two conflicts.
I could write pages and pages on how Vietnam and Iraq differ from each other, beginning with the fact that they are separated in time by nearly a half-century. Locale, the contours of the battlefields, the character of combat, the casualties inflicted and sustained, the sheer quantity of ordnance expended -- when it comes to such measures and others, Vietnam and Iraq differ greatly. Yet while those differences are worth noting, it’s the unappreciated similarities between them that are truly instructive.
Seven such similarities stand out:
First, Vietnam and Iraq were both avoidable: For the United States, they were wars of choice. No one pushed us. We dove in headfirst.
Second, both turned out to be superfluous, undertaken in response to threats -- monolithic Communism and Iraqi weapons of mass destruction -- that were figments of fevered imaginations. In both cases, cynicism and moral cowardice played a role in paving the way toward war. Dissenting voices were ignored.
Third, both conflicts proved to be costly distractions. Each devoured on a prodigious scale resources that might have been used so much more productively elsewhere. Each diverted attention from matters of far more immediate importance to Americans. Each, in other words, triggered a massive hemorrhage of blood, treasure, and influence to no purpose whatsoever.
Fourth, in each instance, political leaders in Washington and senior commanders in the field collaborated in committing grievous blunders. War is complicated. All wars see their share of mistakes and misjudgments. But those two featured a level of incompetence unmatched since Custer’s Last Stand.
Fifth, thanks to that incompetence, both devolved into self-inflicted quagmires. In Washington, in Saigon, and in Baghdad’s “Green Zone,” baffled authorities watched as the control of events slipped from their grasp. Meanwhile, in the field, U.S. troops flailed about for years in futile pursuit of a satisfactory outcome.
Sixth, on the home front, both conflicts left behind a poisonous legacy of unrest, rancor, and bitterness. Members of the Baby Boom generation (to which I belong) have chosen to enshrine Vietnam-era protest as high-minded and admirable. Many Americans then held and still hold a different opinion. As for the Iraq War, it contributed mightily to yawning political cleavages that appear unlikely to heal anytime soon.
And finally, with both political and military elites alike preferring simply to move on, neither war has received a proper accounting. Their place in the larger narrative of American history is still unsettled. This may be the most important similarity of all. Both Vietnam and Iraq remain bizarrely undigested, their true meaning yet to be discerned and acknowledged. Too recent to forget, too confounding to ignore, they remain anomalous.
The American wars in Vietnam and Iraq are contradictions that await resolution.
And we'll note this tweet from Middle East Research and Information Project:
The following sites updated: