I really don't know what to say. Today we found out, from the Secretary of Defense, that extending the US military presence in Iraq was a done deal.
And if anything makes me madder than that news it's seeing all the liars who won't say boo. I'm sick of them. It's exactly this reason that I am not a Democrat. I'm a Green. Democrats should feel very ashamed right now for trusting in Barack, for trusting that snake oil con artist.
And we didn't need to invent a 'hero.' We just needed honesty. Underscored by events of today.
Because so many liars were such pathetic liars, the Iraq War goes on. And I'm not talking Judy Miller or George W. Bush. I'm talking the really pathetic: Amy Goodman, Tom Hayden, Bill Fletcher, Matthew Rothschild, Barbara Ehrenreich, Naomi Klein, John Nichols, Naomi Wolf, go down the damn list. Go down the list of all the people who swore that Barack Obama would end the Iraq War, that US troops would no longer occupy Iraq, that US troops would be gone. They lied and then they lied again. Over and over.
Spoiled brats unable to grow the hell up and deal with reality. Teeny boppers playing at politics. They dressed Barack as a god and today their false god appears to have broken the promise that they pimped so hard.
Kevin Baron (Stars & Stripes) notes that the Iraqi response is that they have not agreed to trainers but US Secretary of Defense "Leon Panetta said Friday that Iraq has already said yet to extending noncombat U.S. forces there beyond 2011, and that the Pentagon is negotiating that presence [. . . that] there is unanimous consent among key Iraqi leaders to address U.S. demands. Those demands include that Iraqis begin negotiating internally what type of U.S. training force they would like, begin a process to select a defense minister, craft a new Status of Forces Agreement and increase operations against Iranian-backed militants." Reid J. Epstein (POLITICO) refers to a transcript and quotes Panetta stating, "My view is that they finally did say yes, which is that as a result of a meeting that Talabani had last week, that all of the, it was unanimous consent among the key leaders of the country to go ahead and request that we negotiate on some kind of training, what a training presence would look like, they did at least put in place a process to try and get a Minister of Defence decided and we think they're making some progress on that front." Adam Entous (Wall St. Journal) adds:
Pentagon spokesman George Little said later that Mr. Panetta was not predicting the outcome of negotiations with the Iraqi government.
"The secretary was asked if there had been progress in our discussions with the Iraqi government since his visit six weeks ago," Mr. Little said. "He made clear that the Iraqis have said yes to discussions about the strategic relationship beyond 2011, and what that relationship might look like."
For those who have forgotten (and those who pretend to forgot -- I'm sure that's going to include a lot of people this weekend), Iraq was a major issue in 2008. Falling back to September 26, 2008, the first debate between GOP presidential candidate John McCain and Democratic Party presidential candidate Barack Obama -- independent candidate Ralph Nader and Green Party candidate Cynthia McKinney were shut out of the debates due to the inability to lie and pander. PBS NewsHour's Jim Lehrer is the moderator. From the transcript.
LEHRER: All right. Let's go another subject. Lead question, two minutes to you, senator McCain. Much has been said about the lessons of Vietnam. What do you see as the lessons of Iraq?
MCCAIN: I think the lessons of Iraq are very clear that you cannot have a failed strategy that will then cause you to nearly lose a conflict. Our initial military success, we went in to Baghdad and everybody celebrated. And then the war was very badly mishandled. I went to Iraq in 2003 and came back and said, we've got to change this strategy. This strategy requires additional troops, it requires a fundamental change in strategy and I fought for it. And finally, we came up with a great general and a strategy that has succeeded. This strategy has succeeded. And we are winning in Iraq. And we will come home with victory and with honor. And that withdrawal is the result of every counterinsurgency that succeeds. And I want to tell you that now that we will succeed and our troops will come home, and not in defeat, that we will see a stable ally in the region and a fledgling democracy. The consequences of defeat would have been increased Iranian influence. It would have been increase in sectarian violence. It would have been a wider war, which the United States of America might have had to come back. So there was a lot at stake there. And thanks to this great general, David Petraeus, and the troops who serve under him, they have succeeded. And we are winning in Iraq, and we will come home. And we will come home as we have when we have won other wars and not in defeat.
LEHRER: Two minutes, how you see the lessons of Iraq, Senator Obama.
OBAMA: Well, this is an area where Senator McCain and I have a fundamental difference because I think the first question is whether we should have gone into the war in the first place. Now six years ago, I stood up and opposed this war at a time when it was politically risky to do so because I said that not only did we not know how much it was going to cost, what our exit strategy might be, how it would affect our relationships around the world, and whether our intelligence was sound, but also because we hadn't finished the job in Afghanistan. We hadn't caught bin Laden. We hadn't put al Qaeda to rest, and as a consequence, I thought that it was going to be a distraction. Now Senator McCain and President Bush had a very different judgment. And I wish I had been wrong for the sake of the country and they had been right, but that's not the case. We've spent over $600 billion so far, soon to be $1 trillion. We have lost over 4,000 lives. We have seen 30,000 wounded, and most importantly, from a strategic national security perspective, al Qaeda is resurgent, stronger now than at any time since 2001. We took our eye off the ball. And not to mention that we are still spending $10 billion a month, when they have a $79 billion surplus, at a time when we are in great distress here at home, and we just talked about the fact that our budget is way overstretched and we are borrowing money from overseas to try to finance just some of the basic functions of our government. So I think the lesson to be drawn is that we should never hesitate to use military force, and I will not, as president, in order to keep the American people safe. But we have to use our military wisely. And we did not use our military wisely in Iraq.
LEHRER: Do you agree with that, the lesson of Iraq?
MCCAIN: The next president of the United States is not going to have to address the issue as to whether we went into Iraq or not. The next president of the United States is going to have to decide how we leave, when we leave, and what we leave behind. That's the decision of the next president of the United States. Senator Obama said the surge could not work, said it would increase sectarian violence, said it was doomed to failure. Recently on a television program, he said it exceed our wildest expectations. But yet, after conceding that, he still says that he would oppose the surge if he had to decide that again today. Incredibly, incredibly Senator Obama didn't go to Iraq for 900 days and never asked for a meeting with General Petraeus.
LEHRER: Well, let's go at some of these things ...
MCCAIN: Senator Obama is the chairperson of a committee that oversights NATO that's in Afghanistan. To this day, he has never had a hearing.
LEHRER: What about that point?
MCCAIN: I mean, it's remarkable.
LEHRER: All right. What about that point?
OBAMA: Which point? He raised a whole bunch of them.
LEHRER: I know, OK, let's go to the latter point and we'll back up. The point about your not having been...
OBAMA: Look, I'm very proud of my vice presidential selection, Joe Biden, who is the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and as he explains, and as John well knows, the issues of Afghanistan, the issues of Iraq, critical issues like that, don't go through my subcommittee because they're done as a committee as a whole. But that's Senate inside baseball. But let's get back to the core issue here. Senator McCain is absolutely right that the violence has been reduced as a consequence of the extraordinary sacrifice of our troops and our military families. They have done a brilliant job, and General Petraeus has done a brilliant job. But understand, that was a tactic designed to contain the damage of the previous four years of mismanagement of this war. And so John likes -- John, you like to pretend like the war started in 2007. You talk about the surge. The war started in 2003, and at the time when the war started, you said it was going to be quick and easy. You said we knew where the weapons of mass destruction were. You were wrong. You said that we were going to be greeted as liberators. You were wrong. You said that there was no history of violence between Shia and Sunni. And you were wrong. And so my question is . . .
LEHRER: Senator Obama . . .
OBAMA: . . . of judgment, of whether or not -- of whether or not -- if the question is who is best-equipped as the next president to make good decisions about how we use our military, how we make sure that we are prepared and ready for the next conflict, then I think we can take a look at our judgment.
LEHRER: I have got a lot on the plate here...
MCCAIN: I'm afraid Senator Obama doesn't understand the difference between a tactic and a strategy. But the important -- I'd like to tell you, two Fourths of July ago I was in Baghdad. General Petraeus invited Senator Lindsey Graham and me to attend a ceremony where 688 brave young Americans, whose enlistment had expired, were reenlisting to stay and fight for Iraqi freedom and American freedom. I was honored to be there. I was honored to speak to those troops. And you know, afterwards, we spent a lot of time with them. And you know what they said to us? They said, let us win. They said, let us win. We don't want our kids coming back here. And this strategy, and this general, they are winning. Senator Obama refuses to acknowledge that we are winning in Iraq.
OBAMA: That's not true.
MCCAIN: They just passed an electoral . . . .
OBAMA: That's not true.
MCCAIN: An election law just in the last few days. There is social, economic progress, and a strategy, a strategy of going into an area, clearing and holding, and the people of the country then become allied with you. They inform on the bad guys. And peace comes to the country, and prosperity. That's what's happening in Iraq, and it wasn't a tactic.
LEHRER: Let me see...
OBAMA: Jim, Jim, this is a big . . .
MCCAIN: It was a stratagem. And that same strategy will be employed in Afghanistan by this great general. And Senator Obama, who after promising not to vote to cut off funds for the troops, did the incredible thing of voting to cut off the funds for the troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.
OBAMA: Jim, there are a whole bunch of things we have got to answer. First of all, let's talk about this troop funding issue because John always brings this up. Senator McCain cut -- Senator McCain opposed funding for troops in legislation that had a timetable, because he didn't believe in a timetable. I opposed funding a mission that had no timetable, and was open- ended, giving a blank check to George Bush. We had a difference on the timetable. We didn't have a difference on whether or not we were going to be funding troops.
And on and on it went. We could quote in full. They aren't done yet. Because Iraq was a huge issue in 2008. Democrats used it the same way they used in 2006 to take back Congress. They used it and then they ignored it.
And Barack likes to pretend that the Iraq War ended August 31, 2010. Strange, though, the DoD counts 57 dead since that date. [PDF format warning, click here. Operation New Dawn is the name Barack gave to the post-August 31, 2010 Iraq 'adventure.'] 57 dead and he wants to pretend the Iraq War is over and that he kept his campaign promise.
57 dead and today so many whores in this country play footsie with him.
Much earlier in 2008, Barack Obama was glomming on a remark McCain made. John McCain made a comment regarding remaining in Iraq for 100 years. Back in 2008, Brian Montopoli (CBS News -- link has text and video) reported on it, noting that McCain had stated in January "Make it a hundred" to the suggestion that Bush wanted to keep US troops in Iraq for fifty years. And McCain added, "We've been in Japan for 60 years. We've been in South Korea for 50 years or so. That would be fine with me, as long as Americans are not being injured or harmed or wounded or killed." Montopoli made this call, "McCain appears to be talking about maintaining a presence in Iraq, not continuing the type of war America is now fighting." Alone among the left press, Zachary Roth (CJR) noted Barack's had lept on the "100 years" and "in doing so, Obama is seriously misleading voters -- if not outright lying to them -- about exactly what McCain said. And some in the press are failing to call him on it." Barack, as Roth points out, couldn't stop weighing in on McCain's remark. "We are bogged down in a war that John McCain now suggests might go on for another hundred years," Barack insisted and at another time, "(McCain) says that he is willing to send our troops into another hundred years of war in Iraq." And yet again, "We can't afford to stay in Iraq, like John McCain said, for another hundred years." As Roth noted, when called on it, Barack began to stop using the term war. But he continued to criticize John McCain for keeping US troops in Iraq . . . the very thing that Barack will now be doing.
People who voted for Barack thought they were voting to end the Iraq War. Remember the tent revivals, Barack yelling, "We want to end the war! And we want to end it now!" He was so fond of that moment, he used it in commercials in over 34 states during the 2008 primaries (that number may be higher, I could only confirm 34 states this evening with a friend who worked on the campaign).
And people might have known better, might have known what a liar Barack was, if the whores hadn't been out in full force. 2008 was The Year of Living Hormonally. And let's recall how that year went down because it's forgotten and unknown history for some:
Elements of the left were always going to side with Barack early on because there was a lie -- produced by fringe radicals on the left (hello, Carl!) -- that Barack was secretly a Socialist. Barack was and is a Corporatist War Hawk. I also wrongly thought that any elements of the left (other than Carl) would quickly grasp that reality after the wave of hype susided. I was wrong there too since this summer found an agitated Philip Maldari floating just that ['Barack is a Socialist!'] on KPFA thereby proving that only the dumb die hard.
In January Goody [Amy Goodman] brought the Black Agenda Report's Glen Ford on the program to discuss Barack and that was a good thing because, strangely, there had never been someone publicly critical of Barack brought on as a guest to the five times a week, hourly program. But while Barack supporters were all over the show and on solo segments or segments with other Barack supporters, bringing on Glen Ford required Goody pair him with the Barack Cultist Michael Eric Dyson. That was strange also due to the fact that, throughout 2007, Amy Goodman offered a plethora of Hillary Haters who never required 'balance' and she continued to do so as January began.
In that month alone, prior to Glen Ford, she'd already offered Robert Parry, apparently enroute to the padded room he now inhabits, insisting that 'evil' Hillary would do just what her husband did because wives behave exactly like their husbands. If, indeed, that's the case, better get the Thorazine ready for Mrs. Parry. There was never an effort made by Goody to stop the foaming at the mouth Parry and say, "Hold on a second. You have spent this decade and the bulk of the nineties writing one article after another in defense of or in praise of Bill Clinton. Why are you suddenly so scared that your deranged fantasy of Hillary being just like Bill will come true?"
You don't ask those questions. To you or me, those questions may seem basic. It's not every day, for instance, that journalist Robert Parry morphs into nutty Christopher Hitchens. But what you're forgetting is that adolescence is all about recreation. It's all about finding another identity. New hair styles are tried, new clothes, new friends, it's all about reinvention. And who but a sane person would attempt to deny Bobby Parry his shot at a second adolescence? And there were so many more important questions to ask.
Is she really going out with him?
Well, there she is. Let's ask her.
Betty, is that Jimmy's ring you're wearing?
Gee, it must be great riding with him
Is he picking you up after school today?
By the way, where'd you meet him?
I met him at the candy store
He turned around and smiled at me
You get the picture? (yes, we see)
That's when I fell for (the leader of the pack)
-- "The Leader of the Pack," written by Ellie Greenwich, Jeff Barry and Shadow Morton
Goody had another Drooling Over Barack Teeny Booper in January: Allan Nairn. Nairn wanted the whole world to know that, if asked, he would gladly be pinned by Barack but he would even settle for Barack's letterman's jacket. Here's the moment that resulted in Allan becoming a 2008 homecoming nominee:
[Allan Nairn]: He actually doesn't need to finance his campaign, to go to the hedge funds, to go to Wall Street. But he does anyway. And he does, I think, because if he doesn't, they wouldn't trust him. They might think that he's on the wrong team, and they might start attacking him. He is someone who, in terms of the money he needs for his campaign, he could afford to come out for single-payer healthcare, for example, but he doesn't. He doesn't need money from the health insurance industry, that's wasting several percentage points of the American GDP in a way that no other industrial rich country in the world does, yet he chooses not to do that, because he doesn't want to be attacked by those corporations.
This was back when everyone (except The New York Times) was lying about Barack and pretending he was being made by small donors. He was a corporatist even then and, hopefully for Allan, the blood of East Timor (Barack buddy Dennis Blair) will wash off the white formal he wore as a duchess to the Barack Ball.
Some of you are going to be upset because this is big news and I'm basically recycling. About six hours ago, I learned what Panetta said in the interview. My rage has not subsided. Were we speaking face to face, I'd say, "Let me let it rip, but let me warn you about the language." At Trina and Mike's Iraq War Study Group this evening, my presentation on this would have made Redd Foxx blush. Even now what I really want to say is to all these lying whores of the left who had no ethics at all, what I want to say is: "May you rot in eternal ___ing hell for what you have done to the children of Iraq."
And to be very clear for those late to the party, that is not a blanket attack on Barack supporters. I am talking about leaders who knew better and lied, who gamed the system and cheated and whored. I have friends who didn't rank Iraq high on their list or even at all and they voted for Barack for other reasons. That's fine. Your vote is you vote. The people I am talking about, for example, went on KPFA to provide 'debate analysis' of the debate between Barack and Hillary and all 'forgot' to reveal on air that they were for Barack. They enjoyed telling you that Hillary "cackled" because sexism is so needed on the left, apparantly. They just didn't want to tell you that they had rigged the 'analysis' and 'debate' by only inviting Barack supporters to the program. Laura Flanders and Tom Hayden and that ugly man with the little prissy girl voice and all the rest. They lied, they whored. And it is the children of Iraq who suffer for it. You will note not one of them has yet to apologize for their actions.
Scott Horton (Harper's, not Antiwar Radio's Scott Horton) was on Law & Disorder Radio this week pretending he had always known reality about Barack. You don't have to take my word for it, go back and read his 2008 ravings, check out his media appearances from that year. These are the people with blood on their hands, with the blood of Iraqi children on their hands. If they had played fair and stuck to the ethics they espoused, that would be one thing. (And some supporters of Barack did in fact do that. I'm not referring to those supporters or calling them out.) But that's not what these whores did.
And you don't want to read me dictating "whore, whore, whore" over and over. (We are a work safe site and that is one of the rare curse words we can use here.) (I have a very foul mouth and have never pretended otherwise. We are work safe so that people can read it at work without getting written up.)
So I will pick this topic up again but I can't do it right now. All I've wanted to do for the last six hours is act out Rebecca De Mornay's amazing scene as Peyton in The Hand That Rocks The Cradle, where she goes into the bathroom, grabs the plunger and tears the bathroom up. That has been my level of rage for the last six hours.
The Diane Rehm Show (second hour -- link has audio and transcript options -- both options are free to all visitors at Diane's site) addressed Iraq today -- and this was before the news of Panetta's remarks. Joining Diane for the second hour was the New York Times' Thom Shanker, McClatchy Nancy A. Youssef (who noted Iraq prior to the excerpt) and the Washington Post's David Ignatius.
Diane Rehm: Now, I'd like to move on to Iraq where there has been a particularly violent week, Thom.
Thom Shanker: Well, that's certainly true. I mean, there have been a series of complex attacks. These are not just sort of individual bombs, individual men with rifles, but series of explosions to enter compounds followed by, you know, a raiding party, which shows planning, which shows power, which shows tenacity. I think we do need to recall, though, that there was a similar spike in attacks exactly a year ago at the Ramadan period. So this is troubling. It shows the great gaps that remain in the Iraqi security forces even as America moves to draw down by the end of the year. But it was just this one individual spike. And except for the month of June, which was the highest number of American combat deaths in three years, the rate and pace of attacks has gone down this year.
Diane Rehm: Nancy, what is the controversy over Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's choice of enacting defense minister?
Nancy A. Youssef: Well, it's a sustained attack on Nouri al-Maliki, which is that he is treating the military as an extension of his own armed militia group and that he isn't taking a nationalist approach to the security of his country. You know, Monday was the deadliest day in Iraq so far this year. And I think it's worth pointing out that on August 31 of last year, the president declared the end of combat operations in Iraq. We've lost 57 U.S. troops since then. And we're -- as Thom mentioned, we're seeing these complex attacks. On Monday, they started at 7:00 a.m. and continued until 8:00 p.m. And I have to say I kept wondering, what was the motive? Is it an effort by Al-Qaida to keep the United States -- engaging the United States to force the Iraqi government to ask us to stay to keep the sort of enemy in sight, if you will? Possibly. Is it Iran's effort to keep us engaged and, some would say, entangled in Iraq? Possibly. And the reason those two extremes are there is because this wasn't just an attack on Sunnis or just on Shiite -- albeit the Shiite took a lot more of the attacks -- but it's suggested that both sides had launched these coordinated attacks. And I think, for Iraqis, it was reminiscent of those horrific days at the height of the sectarian war when scores of people would be killed on any given day.
David Ignatius: You do have an Iraq that's beset. You have Al-Qaida showing that it's still capable of extreme violence, still capable of coordinated attacks. You had the chief U.S. military spokesman in Iraq saying this week that whatever the threat posed by Al-Qaida, the biggest threat in Iraq are Shiite militias backed by Iran, which he identified as the critical problem. Everybody, knowing that U.S. troops are on their way out, wants to take credit for driving the troops out, which is -- you know, it's sorta like raiding a retreating army I think adding to the bleak picture in Iraq is the fact that Maliki, on whom the U.S. has surprisingly relied given his weakness, more than a year after the coalition agreement that got him the prime ministership in which he promised that the opposition, the Iraqiya Party could name the defense minister, has not followed through on that. And indeed appointed an acting defense minister this week, Dulaimi, who was rejected in effect by Iraqiya. In other words, he's basically welched on the deal and I think people are really upset about it.
Nancy A. Youssef: Well, he wants to retain control of the military. He wants it to stay in his hands and not risk giving it to another rival, another party to lose that control because his power, particularly with every brigade that comes -- every U.S. brigade that comes out, rests with the Iraqi military. That's his base, in a way, more than any other group in Iraq.
Diane Rehm: And at the same time, you had Turkey attacking Kurdish targets in Northern Iraq.
Thom Shanker: Right. The Kurdish separatists, you know, have been raiding from their bases in northern Iraq into Turkey. And so Turkey responded very viciously this week with counterattacks. We do have to remember, though, that, you know, if you look at the bigger picture, Turkey remains Iraq's largest trading partner. So while this is worrisome and it's a problem, it is not really affecting the bilateral relationships...
Diane Rehm: So what...
Thom Shanker: ...between the two countries.
Diane Rehm: ...what was the response by Iraq?
Thom Shanker: Well, Iraq right now is really unable -- its forces are, you know, incompetent, stretched thin. And even where they're strong, they are looking at the internal crisis, the Al-Qaida, Mesopotamia, the Shiite militias that David referred to. And one of the real problems, Diane, with a stalemate is come the end of December, all the American forces have to be out of there unless there's some sort of extension or new agreement on the status of forces. I was talking to a two-star general just yesterday who's in from Iraq and he said that nobody expects the current SOFA agreement to be extended. It's too broad --
Diane Rehm: Status of Forces Agreement.
Thom Shanker: -- exactly, to stay in place. And what the U.S. side is drawing up options for is a very limited, very narrow sort of deal, 3,000 troops, 10,000 troops to do training. And what the Iraqis really need is intelligence to find out where the bad guys are and where to go after them. That's what the Iraqis -- they have no intelligence or sustainment.
Let's grab the topic of the bombing of northern Iraq and move to that. The Iraqi Parliament is now in recess. Before going into recess yesterday, Alsumaria TV reportsa, there was "a Kurdish request to add the issue of Turkish bombarding on Irbil and Duhok provinces borders on the session's agenda. Following this request the speaker called the committee of security and defense to study the issue and to present a report about the situation after the vacation." The Turkish military is targeting the PKK. The PKK is one of many Kurdish groups which supports and fights for a Kurdish homeland. Aaron Hess (International Socialist Review) described them in 2008, "The PKK emerged in 1984 as a major force in response to Turkey's oppression of its Kurdish population. Since the late 1970s, Turkey has waged a relentless war of attrition that has killed tens of thousands of Kurds and driven millions from their homes. The Kurds are the world's largest stateless population -- whose main population concentration straddles Turkey, Iraq, Iran, and Syria -- and have been the victims of imperialist wars and manipulation since the colonial period. While Turkey has granted limited rights to the Kurds in recent years in order to accommodate the European Union, which it seeks to join, even these are now at risk." The Kurdistan Regional Government in Iraq has been a concern to Turkey because they fear that if it ever moves from semi-autonomous to fully independent -- such as if Iraq was to break up into three regions -- then that would encourage the Kurdish population in Turkey. For that reason, Turkey is overly interested in all things Iraq. So much so that they signed an agreement with the US government in 2007 to share intelligence which the Turkish military has been using when launching bomb raids. However, this has not prevented the loss of civilian life in northern Iraq. Back to Aaron Hess, he noted, "The Turkish establishment sees growing Kurdish power in Iraq as one step down the road to a mass separatist movement of Kurds within Turkey itself, fighting to unify a greater Kurdistan. In late October 2007, Turkey's daily newspaper Hurriyet accused the prime minister of the KRG, Massoud Barzani, of turning the 'Kurdish dream' into a 'Turkish nightmare'." Bloomberg News notes tensions have risen "since a general election [in Turkey] June 12, when the courts barred several pro-Kurdish candidates from entering parliament, culminating in a declaration of Kurdish autonomy last month." Todays Zaman notes threats that additional "legal action could also be taken against Kurdish politicians [in Turkey] currently boycotting parliament and accused of close links to the PKK."
Seyhmus Cakan (Reuters) notes the Turkish military continued air raids last night over northern Iraq and states this wave "marks a stark escalation of the 27-year-old conflict" between the government of Turkey and the PKK. AFP notes Turkish war planes continue bombing today "for a third straight day." Suzan Fraser (AP) quotes PKK spokesperson Ahmed Danis stating, "Our fighters left these bases a while ago and now they are in constant mobility. Therefore there were no casualties." Ergun Babahan (Hurriyet Daily News) offers the opinion that, "There is no point in calls for peace in an environment where news of the death of young people arrives every day. The administration of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK, or those who are managing it eitehr believe that they can overcome Turkey by military intrusions or they hope that they will have more popular support in an atmoshphere that becomes more anti-democratic in such a struggle." Rizgar Hemid Sindi (Rudaw) argues:
On the Turkish front, Prime Minister Receb Tayyib Erdogan has started policy reforms backed by the US and the EU. Under Erdogan's government, Turkish military generals are living their worst nightmare. Several of those who had participated in the massacre and torture of Kurds are now in prison.
Last month, the country's top army general resigned from his post, saying he could no longer protect his officers from being thrown in jail.
The largest pro-Kurdish party in Turkey, the Peace and Democratic Party (BDP), won 36 parliamentary seats in the June elections. Several TV channels have been given permission to broadcast news and other porgrasm in Kurdish. Erdogan, whose party holds the majority of seats in the Turkish parliament, has promised to amend the constitution to make it more democratic.
The situation shows that participating in municipal and parliamentary elections is a much better strategy for the Kurds.
Ivan Watson, Mohammed Tawfeeq and Yesim Comert (CNN) quote KRG spokesperson Kawa Mahmoud stating, "We always emphasize that shelling (the) Iraqi border is inconsisten with international conventions and good neighborly relations, and we consider it as intervention and disregard for the sovereignty of the Kurdish and Iraqi territory." Mahmoud also noted that Turkey's repeated bombings were harming the KRG's infrastructure.
Meanwhile Aswat al-Iraq reports US Ambassador to Iraq James Jeffrey met in the KRG with KRG President Masoud Barzani to discuss a number of issues. The ongoing air raid assault has prompted only the mildest of critiques from Nouri al-Maliki. al-Maliki and his State of Law have had much harsher criticism for Iraq's president Jalal Talabani. Alsumaria TV reports that State of Law has taken offense to Talabani's statements that Monday's bombings throughout Iraq partly resulted from Iraq's inability to name people to the security posts.
Reuters notes that Iraq's violence included a Kirkuk attack that left a police officer "seriously wounded," 1 person shot dead in Mosul, a Baghdad roadside bombing last night which left three people injured, 1 corpse discovered in Kirkuk last night, a Kirkuk sticky bombing last night which injured a police officer and his wife and 1 person shot dead in Kirkuk.
According to United for Peace and Justice's (UFPJ) Michael McPhearson, it's partly partisan politics. Many anti-war protesters were Democrats. "Once Obama got into office, they kind of demobilized themselves," and America's major media provided no momentum to reinvigorate them.
"Because he's a Democrat," said McPhearson, "they don't want to oppose him in the same way as they opposed Bush. The politics of it allows him more breathing room when it comes to the wars."
Of course, UFPJ also has been less anti-war active under Obama than Bush, not quiescent, but much less resonant than through 2008.
UFPJ "calls for an immediate withdrawal of US and NATO forces from Afghanistan with a negotiated just settlement involving international parties, including regional neighbors" when condemnation is essential.
Moreover, it says nothing about war and occupation of Iraq, not enough about Afghanistan, the lawlessness of all US wars, why they're waged, other illegal wars against Libya, Pakistan, Yemen, and Somalia, support for Israeli belligerence against Palestinians, as well as denouncing them all as Washington-sponsored imperial aggression.
Failure to do so betrays the trust of its member groups and followers. All US wars are illegal. America is responsible for daily crimes of war and against humanity in every theater. Exposing and denouncing them is the first crucial step to arousing public anger enough to stop them.
I'm so sick of the liars of United for Peace & Justice. The day after the 2008 election, they posted their litte 'everything is beautiful, go home' post and then they want to whine about the state of the movement today as if they had no part in it. For almost three years now, they have remained silent and done nothing. Not only have that not staged a convincing protest, they've failed to support the genuine efforts of people like Cindy Sheehan. They couldn't be bothered offering even just 'online support' to any of Cindy's actions. In a column on the financial costs of war, Linda Greene (Bloomington Alternative) writes about an October event of Cindy's:
Sheehan is the mother of Spc. Casey Sheehan, who was killed in action in the Iraq war on April 4, 2004. Since then, she has become an activist for peace and human rights.
Sheehan travels and speaks widely and has returned recently from France and Japan. The author of five books, she is currently writing her sixth, on Hugo Chavez, Venezuela and the Bolivarian revolution. She is also the host of her own radio show, Cindy Sheehan's Soapbox.
For Sheehan, war is also an environmental issue. "The U.S. military is both the largest polluter in the world and the largest consumer of fossil fuel," she says. "The current U.S. military missions not only pollute the world using conventional weaponry, but the war machine's increasing use of weapons and equipment enhanced with depleted uranium is also contaminating the planet and further compromising the delicate balance of life."
This will be Sheehan's first visit to Bloomington.
The talk, sponsored by the Bloomington Peace Action Coalition, the Bloomington branch of the Women's International League for Peace & Freedom, the 9/11 Working Group of Bloomington, and the Just Peace Task Force and Green Sanctuary Task Force on Global Climate Change of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Bloomington, commemorates the 10th anniversary of the start of the Afghanistan war, Oct. 7.
Thursday, August 18, 2011. Chaos and violence continue, Iraqi children continue suffer, autism is on the rise in Iraq, Turkey's prime minister appears to be declaring war on northern Iraq, and more.
Starting with the Libyan War, we noted some things in the August 10th snapshot that we'll note again. Black Star News (via San Francisco Bay View) notes that "the entire Black population" of Misrata has been driven out of the city by the so-called rebels and cites this Wall St. Journal report where the rebels boast of being "the brigade for purging slaves, black skin." Were George W. Bush still illegally occupying the White House, there would be a huge outcry over that. Instead it's little reported. Black Star News states the New York Times has ignored the racism of the so-called rebels of the Transitional National Council and the attacks on Black Libyans:
If the case was reversed and Black Libyans were committing ethnic cleansing against non-Black Libyans, does anyone believe that the people who now control the editorials or the news pages at the New York Times would ignore such a story? Evidently, it doesn't bother the sages at the Times that Black Libyans are specifically being targeted for liquidation because of their skin color.
Instead, the New York Times is busy boasting of its support for NATO's bombing campaign -- as in a recent editorial -- which this week alone is reported to have killed 20 civilians. The Times has also ignored Rep. Dennis Kucinich's call to the International Criminal court (ICC) to investigate NATO commanders on possible war crimes in connection to Libyan civilians killed.
The Times can't write about the ethnic cleansing of Black Libyans and migrants from other African countries because it would diminish the reputation of the 'rebels,' who the Times have fully embraced, even after the ICC also reported that they too have committed war crimes. Instead, the Times is comfortable with the simplistic narrative, "al-Qaddafi bad," "rebels good," regardless of the fact that the Wall Street Journal also reported the rebels are being trained by former al-Qaeda leaders who were released from U.S. custody in Guantanamo Bay.
The mostly black town of Tawurgha has fallen to NATO-backed rebels after a long siege, according to al-Jazeera, the Qatar-based media mouthpiece for the rebels. It is an event only racists could celebrate, a triumph of hate and Euro-American arms and money over an enclave of dark-skinned Libyans descended from Africans once sold in the town's slave market. As the Wall Street Journalreported on June 21, the road to Tawurgha (sometimes spelled Ta-wer-gha), 25 miles from the port of Misurata, is punctuated by rebel graffiti vowing to "purge slaves, black skin." Previously, Benghazi-based rebels methodically cleansed Misurata's black neighborhoods, warning residents never to return to their jobs or classrooms.
Rebels claimed Tawurgha's defenders used civilians as "human shields" during the final assault -- the stock phrase deployed to justify massacres of non-combatants. President Obama has, in effect, been arming a racist lynch mob and calling them freedom fighters.
Government forces earlier claimed to have recaptured Misurata, itself, along with other battlefield victories, reports that are mirrored by rebel boasts of progress in encircling the capital city, Tripoli, and its 1.5 million people. The pace of military activity has quickened, dramatically, with the September 27 expiration of the Euro-American "mandate" in Libya approaching. NATO has stepped up bombing of pro-government towns along a wide front, throwing every available unit of feuding rebel forces into the fray in hopes of achieving regime change before the deadline. Rebel claims to have captured the town of Brega are in dispute. According to the rebel high command, the oil port was once defended by a brigade of "Chadian" soldiers -- another "black African" threat that Amnesty International and other outside observers found to be totally fictional. The rebellion appears to run on Africanophobia.
Omali Yeshitela: The fact is there are more than 700 US military bases around the world and then you count all the other imperialist powers and what is necessary for them to do at this moment to try and maintain the status quo to try and maintain an imperialist dominated world that extracts so much value that half the people on the planet live off less than two-US-dollars a day. That is what people around the world, in the process right now as we speak are struggling to overturn. And that is why there are all these wars that are going down -- in fact, a situation of permanent warfare that the imperialists have to be engaged in to try and maintain the status quo. And then particularly in cities throughout the imperialist countries themselves, like the United States, and what we're seeing happening in England and France and places like Belgium and Germany where there are growing internal colonies such as that exists with us and with the Mexican people and the so-called Indians it is a crucial question and right now history is being turned right-side-up and those who've been historically so oppresed, now are determing what progess -- real progress is in the world today. And Back Is Black is a part of this process and is calling on everybody else who is genuinely interested in ending wars to stand on the side of these oppressed peoples and to oppose the imperialist attempt to maintain the status quo which is oppressive and exploitive.
Glen Ford: And of course economic warfare is at least as deadly as the shooting kind.
Omali Yeshitela: It's at least. In fact, the economic warfare that I just mentioned, you know that half the people on the earth living on two-US-dollars a day, that is extraordinary. And this poverty that's responsible for disease and death plagues us in some places where there are more natural resources that the imperialists are extracting where people ought to be doing well but they cannot do well because those resources are being sucked out and they are filling super markets throughout the US and other places like that and pocket books on Wall Street and the board rooms [. . .]
Glen Ford: And this might be another expanded struggle for the Back Is Black Coalition -- focusing on convincing people that economic aggression is also a kind of warfare.
Omali Yeshitela: It is because the problem that we have is that even when people are looking at England as an example and I say that because it's quite topical obviously and they can see young people who are rising up and burning shops and things like that, what has to be recognized is that economic warfare, that is a form of violence too, people can see the shop being burned and they say that is violence but the economic warfare, where people are deprived of the right to live and to live in dignity that is a form of warfare and that is debiliating as you know and crushing not only to the human body but also to the human spirit. And it is something that we in the Back Is Black Coalition find unacceptable and that's why we have to do August 20th as an international day of action against the wars on Africa and African people worldwide.
Scott Horton: Let's talk about the Iraq War. I know it's the summer of 2011 and as far as most people are concerned there's no such thing anymore. But I know better than that and I was wondering if you could give us the latest. I saw that there were a string of bombings over the weekend, right?
Jason Ditz: Right we had one of the deadliest days in over a year in the war and we've had bombings pretty much on a daily basis and the Obama administration is still talking about how they're open to the idea of staying if only they're asked which is a somewhat disingenuous comment because they've been demanding to be asked for several months now.
Scott Horton: Yes, as we've covered on the show. And now help me understand exactly where we're at in that process because it seems like Nouri al-Maliki had said, 'Okay, you can keep some trainers because I can give you that without turning it over to the Parliament first.' Did that stick?
Jason Ditz: It seems like that much has stuck but it looks like there's still a push for more. And whether they get more or not remains to be seen.
Scott Horton: And now when they say some trainers, how many is that? Do you know?
Jason Ditz: We don't know. It's not been clear at all how many they're talking but it's a lot.
Scott Horton: Well now I wonder if Maliki making that decision himself is what Ryan Crocker the now Ambassador to Afghanistan was talking about in these WikiLeaks cables when he was saying that Maliki is turning towards dictatorship. This was written up by John Glaser at the Antiwar.com Blog. He had some WikiLeaks here, did you see this?
Jason Ditz: Yeah and that could be part of it but I think that Maliki made a much broader grasp for power than that. He's still the acting Defense Minister, the acting Interior Minister, he's also the Public Security Minister. He's kept all of the ministries that have any control over any armed forces or law enforcement group. So he's very much been consolidating power for awhile and the effort to cut Parliament out of the decision on the US troops is one more step along the way.
Scott Horton: Well now and so what kind of noise is the Parliament making about whether they're going to go along with inviting more troops? Or would they really have to? I mean, they do have to go to the Parliament on that, don't they?
Jason Ditz: Theoretically they should have to go to the Parliament but it's not clear if they would or not. Of course, in the US, when the Status Of Forces Agreement was passed in 2008, there was a little bit of a question of whether or not President Bush should go to Congress about it and he just decided, no, he wasn't going to and that was pretty much the end of that. So it seems like there hoping to go the same way with the Iraqi Parliament and just cut them out of the process --
Scott Horton: They never held a referendum.
Jason Ditz: Right. The 2008 vote was narrowly passed with the promise of a referendum within six months bringing the question to the Iraqi people and that referendum, years later, never happened. So it was a pretty ugly battle at the time and it's probably going to be a much uglier battle this time around.
Scott Horton: Yeah, well, you know it's really too bad that we can't read Nouri al-Maliki's mind. I wish I could but it seems to me like there's at least a good chance that he's more or less playing the same script that he played in 2008 which is 'okay, okay, I'll try to convince them to let you keep all these bases, I'll do my very best' then by the end of the year, time is up, you gotta' sign and they sign a deal no bases and everybody out by the end of the year 2011. And I'm kind of thinking this is maybe what's going on here he's playing smart politics and telling the Americans, 'You know, I'm doing my very best to oblige you, I'm trying to get permission out of these guys but so far I'm having trouble.' But then again, I guess, it's not hard to imagine that he needs our help
Jason Ditz: Certainly and the US troops are going to be there largely to prop him up. So it's not hard to imagine that he would see that as a good thing
The continued danger to U.S. military men and women deployed in Iraq was brought home to an NBC News team at the beginning of this month. Pentagon correspondent Jim Miklaszewski, cameraman Jim Long and I were at Victory Base in Baghdad when insurgents began launching rockets at the complex. As the sirens blared and an announcer warned of "Incoming!" an enlisted soldier ran by and said, "Here we go again." He later explained that the enemy has been "peppering" Victory with rockets lately and showed off several places where shrapnel had pocked blast walls and shattered windows.
NBC News also notes that Sgt Mark Cofield's death July 17th was the most recent US military Iraq War death and quotes his sister Sara Cofield saying, "Mark was my rock. He was my brother, he was my world. He raised me." In July, Alyssa Chin (KKTV -- link has text and video) reports that the fallen's father and brother are also serving and she spoke with family and friends of Mark
Alyssa Chin: This is a man who was promoted to sergeant just 18 months after training.
Sara Cofield (Sister): You never thought it would be you. You always thought you were the lucky one to have all three of them come back. So . . . [whisper] that was hard.
Alyssa Chin: Friends and family are left wondering exactly what happened overseas to Sgt Mark Cofield, a man they watched grow up?
Suzi Dixon (family friend): This just comes so close to home and it just hits your heart and it makes it all real.
Liz Cameron (neighbor): There's going to be such a hole in this community's heart because Mark was all about love.
Alyssa Chin: According to those who knew him best, the 25-year-old excelled at everything. A hockey player for most of his life, he competed for Rampart High School. While in Iraq, he started running marathons and even won a few.
Samantha Wolf (family friend): Mark had one of the biggest hearts of anybody I've ever met.
Ester Mabry (family friend): He had the strength and compassion that normally you don't see together.
Alyssa Chin: While gathered in the Cofield home, stories and memories of Mark overflow with smiles, love, and warmth. But his sister Sara will remember him most for the times they shared together.
Sara Cofield: I'm proud to say that my brother served, that's a good thing. He not only was a soldier and served our country and will be missed as a part of it but he'll be missed as a brother, and as a son, and as a friend.
In the face of such losses, you'd hope news outlets could at least be honest but that's apparently too much to hope for. ABC6 News notes, "159 soldiers from Minnesota are getting ready to head to 'deployment training' before being sent to Kuwait. The Minnesota National Guard's 2nd Battalion, 135th Infantry are heading overseas to help with the troop drawdown from Iraq. This group of soldiers are part of the second largest deployment of National Guard troops since World War 2." Really? For the withdrawal? The one supposed to take place December 31, 2011? Then they'd only need to deploy until then, right? Matt Peterson (Austin Daily Herald) adds, "Though Spc. Trevor Kolb of Austin has been enlisted in the Minnesota National Guard for two years, he's going to find out a lot more this fall. Kolb, along with the second largest deployment of the Minnesota National Guard since World War II, is going to Kuwait for one year." For a year? So it's not about a December withdrawal. Imagine that. In fact, it's about using Kuwait as a holding tank -- which was discussed in a 2008 Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing. Did no one pay attention? Apparently not.
Turning to the ongoing violence that is Iraq, Reuters notes 1 Iraqi soldier was shot dead in Mosul (three more injured), 1 man was shot outside his Mosul home, a Baghdad raid by Iraqi forces resulted in 2 suspected being killed and 2 soldiers being killed (three more soldiers were injured), a Baghdad roadside bombing injured two people, and all that follows took place Wednesday night -- a series of Baghdad home invasions targeting police officers resulted in the death of 1 police officer and two people being injured, a Baghdad roadside bombing left three people injured, another Baghdad roadside bombing claimed the life of 1 police officer (and left another injured) and a Tarmiya car bombing claimed the lives of 2 of Brigadier Tawfiq Ahmed's bodyguards and left seven people injured.
Yesterday the Turkish military launched another air bombing on northern Iraq. The Guardian notes, "The jets hit 60 suspected rebel targets in the mountainous region near the border with Turkey late on Wednesday as well as targets on Mount Qandil, along the Iraqi-Iranian border, where leaders of the rebel group Kurdistan Workers' party, or PKK, are believed to be hiding." The paper also notes that the Turkish government will discuss the PKK today in a national security meeting. The Telegraph of London reports that "168 rounds of artillery" were used by Turkish warplanes and that, "In Baghdad, the Iraqi government objected to the attacks, but also said rebels should not launch attacks from its territory aimed at Turkey." Sebnem Arsu (New York Times) quotes a written statement from the command of the Turkish Army, "Similar actions of the Turkish Armed Forces inside and outside the country will continue in a determined way until the North of Iraq would be turned into a secure residential area and the terror organization that uses the area as a launch pad for attacks would be eliminated." So the Turkish plan is to bomb the northern region into a residential area? Not sure how that works. Ivan Watson and Yesim Comert (CNN) state Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared "a new period is starting" in this ongoing crisis and "Rebels from PKK have claimed responsibility for a series of attacks over the last month, including a Saturday ambush near the southeastern province of Sirnak that killed at least three soldiers. In a statement e-mailed to CNN, the PKK also claimed responsibility for last week's sabotage of a natural gas pipeline between Turkey and its eastern neighbor Iran." Bloomberg News quotes Erdogan stating, "We're at the end of words, our patience due to Ramadan is over."
The PKK is one of many Kurdish groups which supports and fights for a Kurdish homeland. Aaron Hess (International Socialist Review) described them in 2008, "The PKK emerged in 1984 as a major force in response to Turkey's oppression of its Kurdish population. Since the late 1970s, Turkey has waged a relentless war of attrition that has killed tens of thousands of Kurds and driven millions from their homes. The Kurds are the world's largest stateless population -- whose main population concentration straddles Turkey, Iraq, Iran, and Syria -- and have been the victims of imperialist wars and manipulation since the colonial period. While Turkey has granted limited rights to the Kurds in recent years in order to accommodate the European Union, which it seeks to join, even these are now at risk." The Kurdistan Regional Government in Iraq has been a concern to Turkey because they fear that if it ever moves from semi-autonomous to fully independent -- such as if Iraq was to break up into three regions -- then that would encourage the Kurdish population in Turkey. For that reason, Turkey is overly interested in all things Iraq. So much so that they signed an agreement with the US government in 2007 to share intelligence which the Turkish military has been using when launching bomb raids. However, this has not prevented the loss of civilian life in northern Iraq. Back to Aaron Hess, he noted, "The Turkish establishment sees growing Kurdish power in Iraq as one step down the road to a mass separatist movement of Kurds within Turkey itself, fighting to unify a greater Kurdistan. In late October 2007, Turkey's daily newspaper Hurriyet accused the prime minister of the KRG, Massoud Barzani, of turning the 'Kurdish dream' into a 'Turkish nightmare'."
Major Ali Jassem al-Tamimi, an Iraqi army representative to the NCCC, was confident the centres would continue to function after the US withdrawal, but conceded that disputes may arise. "We expect that after the US withdrawal, we will work in the same way and... the same effort will continue, but there might be some small conflicts between one side and another," Tamimi said. Captain Massud Hussein, representing the peshmerga, agreed with Tamimi, but added that the situation "will be improved for the better if they (the Americans) stay."
The US stepped into the mediation role when the central government in Baghdad and the KRG government were at loggerheads with each hurling accusations at one another. It's very easy to paint it now as the military of each group not getting along but the issue was much larger than that.
On the second hour of The Diane Rehm Show July 17, 2009, Moises Naim, Yochi Dreazen and David Ignatius were Diane's panelists and during the discussion of Iraq, Moises noted the reality side-stepped today.
Moises Naim: And the Kurdish prime minister yesterday said that the Kurdish autonomous region was closer to going to war with the central government than ever before, since 2003, since the US invasion. And that points, as Yochi said, to the tensions about the divisions -- federalism, they're trying to find out what is the divisions of authority, power between a centralized government and a regional government. And this is a region that is quite different in its governance, in its function, in its economy, in its politics, than the rest of the country.
As noted in Diane's discussion, things are very tense between the central government in Baghdad and the Kurdish Regional Government. Anthony Shadid (Washington Post) reports, "In separate interviews, Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani and the region's president, Massoud Barzani, described a stalemate in attempts to resolve long-standing disputes with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's emboldened government. Had it not been for the presence of the U.S. military in northern Iraq, Nechirvan Barzani said, fighting might have started in the most volatile regions." Quil Lawrence (NPR's All Things Considered) reported this afternoon on the tensions quoting Barzani, "Whoever wants to get ahead in Iraqi politics does so by criticizing the Kurds." On territorial disputes and what may have been an attempt by al-Maliki's government to enroach on Kurdish territories June 28th, Lawrence quotes Barzani stating, "Our problem is that we do not believe there is any political will in Baghdad to solve this problem."
In that All Things Considered report, Quil Lawrence provided this background, "Most recently, on June 28th, Nechirvan Barzani says, Iraqi army soldiers arrived in the mostly Kurdish town of Debaga, northwest of Kirkuk, at around 2:00 in the morning. Citizens filled the streets to prevent the Iraqi army from passing. And a mostly Kurdish division of the Iraqi army arrived and blocked the road, essentially putting Kurdish and Arab units of the same army on opposite ends of machine gun barrels. It took 24 hours to resolve the issue, and the Arab unit eventually withdrew." A month later, August 17, 2009, Deborah Amos (All Things Considered) reported on the plan US Gen Ray Odierno (then the top US commander in Iraq) has proposed to both the KRG and the central government in Baghdad: US troops would go into northern Iraq and patrol with Iraqi forces and the Kurdish Peshmerga as a three-way joint-force in what was hoped to be team building exercises. And the RAND Corporation report released at the end of last month noted the need for these team building exercises to continue but noted that the US State Dept is not equipped to take over from the US military to continue them.
The potential conflict between the each side's military is underscored today as Alsumaria TV reports, "Peshmerga Minister of Kurdistan Regional Government Jaafar Mustapha warned on Wednesday against Kurds boycott to the Iraqi Army for it has become a 'central army', he argued. Kurds have no longer any power in the Iraqi Army. The incidents that are occurring in the regions where Iraqi army is deployed especially in Diyala have never occurred at the time of Baath, Peshmerga Minister said." Sean Kane (Foreign Policy) wonders, "Will the phasing out of the U.S. role mean, as one leaked U.S. intelligence report suggested, that without strong and fair third party influence tensions along the Arab-Kurdish line may quickly turn to violence? Or is too much being made of the transition in what was always intended to be a temporary mechanism?" Baram Subhi (niqash) notes that some are hopeful about the Golden Lions, "The Golden Lions unit is composed of almost 400 members from three different security forces operating in Kirkuk: the Iraqi army, the local police forces and the Iraqi Kurdish military force known as the Peshmerga. The tripartite force, which eventually hopes to increase its number to 1,000, was the idea of Ray Odierno, former commander of US forces in Iraq, who hoped a joint force like this one might help put an end to ethnic clashes in the area."
Last week, the UN Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights released [PDF format warning] "2010 Report on Human Rights in Iraq." The plan here was to cover a section each of the five days. Thursday I forgot so we're grabbing it today and tomorrow. On the 10th, we covered journalists, we covered the prisons in the August 9th snapshot with women and Iraq's LBGT community was covered in the August 8th snapshot). Today we're focusing on the reports findings regarding the children of Iraq. 2010 saw at least 194 Iraqi children killed in violence wih another 232 injured. This is the violence of bombings and shootings,etc. This is not the violence of domestic abuse. For example, March 26, 2010 saw 23 children killed in Baquba bombings. There are rumors that young children are recruited to take part in armed conflict and an 11-year-old would-be suicide bomber caught in Ramadi April 6, 2010 described how three men recruited him. Iraqi children also die from the actions of the Iraqi and US armies. These deaths come in home invasions and in bombings. Iraqi children are also at risk of being killed by cluster bombs and landmines that are currently "contaminating 1,700 square kilometres of land" in Iraq. In 2006, the Iraqis Ministry of Health partnered with the World Health Organization to conduct the Iraqi Mental Health Survey of Iraqi children. The survey found "that almost half of those surveyed had experienced a war related trauma."
Children continue to be prime kidnapping targets in Iraq wih at least 31 kidnapped in 2010 (those numbers only cover ten of Iraq's eighteen provinces).
Iraqi children can be found in the jails and prisons of Iraq. And often, they're held with adults -- 520 boys and girls shared facilities with adults (those figures do not include the Kurdistan Regional Government) and "759 boys and girls were held in facilities for convicts. Numerous children, some of them extremely young, are deprived of their liberty and a child-friendly environment merely because their mothers, with whom they stay, are detained and imprisoned."
Iraqi schools face vandalization and destruction and violence prevents 2 million children from attending school. For those schools able to hold classes, they're overcrowded. The report notes, "Thousands of children with disabilities remain without access to schools, and the children of internally displaced families face a lack of educational facilities." October 31, 2010, Our Lady of Salvation Church in Baghdad was attacked. Following that, "it was reported that many Christian schools, often sharing the same grounds as their churches, cancelled classes for several weeks out of fear of a similar attack."
The report notes, "The Government of Iraq received from the World Bank a loan of $100 million US dollars over the next 30 years to boost school construction. However, the current capacity of the government to implement construction works and issues of availability of land, are hindering the progress of the school construction programme."
The report notes that children beggars in the KRG may be Arabs who came o the region with their families who were escaping violence elsewhere in Iraq. The KRG has created "homes for children who are either homeless or are unable to live with their families for various reasons" and these homes are in all three provinces but the report notes there needs to be more programs that could integrate these children back "into society." The KRG has also created juvenile police stations in all three provinces and all three also "have reformatories or detention centres for children where convicted children are kept. During visits, UNAMI assessed the living conditions as satisfactory in all three reformatories and one detention centre. The rooms are big and clean with natural light and ventilation. Overcrowding is not a problem. children housed in these facilities expressed satisfaction with the quality of food. However, educational, social and play activities are few and are not really adequate or geared for children."
Today Suha Sheikhly (Al Mada) reports on an autistic child in Iraq. Sheikhly encountered 8-year-old Hisham in the airport. His mother was told that autism had become more common in Iraq and that "the reason given for the rise in autism cases is the toxic minerals in the environment such as mercury and lead" and the war has spread these minerals. When Hisham was beginning to walk and teeth it was noticable to his mother that had difficulty with language and social skills. The article explains that the doctors do not see autism as "crazy" or deformity but as a mental illness and that Iraqi children with autism have special needs. Hisham's mother was told that the increased levels of mercury and lead in the environment was the likely cause and she believes this because behind the family's home are piles of scraps, "remnants of the military". Iraqi doctors recommend 40 hours of education a week for autistic children and do not recommend leaving the child in a vacuum (alone) or parked in front of the TV for long hours. A study of autism in Iraq by the Uniiversity of Cambridge found that there were 75 cases per ten thousand people aged five to eleven years old.
An e-mail asks, "Are you ever going to Facebook again?" I'm thinking not. I just don't have the time. We're doing a lot of work on the house. We've got another round of layoffs at work which means more work for those of us who aren't laid off. We're already overworked as it is. I just don't see how it's possible. Maybe I can do Facebook on Saturdays?
Kevin Pina: The world attention has turned back to Libya after NATO kills more than eighty civilians in a bombing raid on the town of Ziltan. The toll includes 33 children and 20 women according to our special correspondent on the ground. This comes on the heels of new reports that say Britian will have spent more than $420 million waging war in Libya by mid-September while the price tag to the US tax payer is an estimated $1 billion. And joining us once again from Tripoli, Libya is our special correspondent Mahdi Nazemroaya. Mahdi is also a research assistant with the Centre for Research on Globalization based in Montreal, Canada. Mahdi, welcome back to Flashpoints on Pacifica Radio.
Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya: Thank you, Kevin.
Kevin Pina: So Mahdi, give us an update. We know we haven't spoke for a couple of weeks here. Tell us what has happened. There have been tremendous developments on the ground there, many claims by NATO, by the so-called 'rebels,' of victories. There have also been claims of massacres by NATO. And, finally, I understand Amnesty International actually doing something and calling for an investigation into an attack on civilians.
Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya: Alright. Well since March 8th, there's been very heavy bombings here. Specifically one that's come to a lot of attention which resulted in the heaviest casualties that are known in one day -- civilian casualties was the attack on Ziltan. Which took place, Ziltan is a district near Misrata. And 85 people were killed, including 33 children, 32 women and 20 men. And many of the civilians were also wounded very heavily and taken to hospitals either in the district or brought here to Tripoli. It was bombed, according to NATO, at 11:30 [p.m.] local time on August 8th. And there was further bombings several hours later at 2:34 [a.m.] on August 9th. So there were, I believe, three sets of bombings.on August 8th at 11:30 p.m., about, and ending at 2:34 a.m. on the followng day. In between that what resulted was a lot of people who came to the rescue of the bombed people were also bombed. So that is why the casualties are very high. [. . .], the military spokesperson of Operation United Protection for NATO has claimed that they bombed a military area but all the evidence on the ground has shown the usual civilians homes, farmers homes and civilians. And it resulted in 3 days of mourning here in Libya and the mainstream media challenged the Libyan government on the numbers. I think they lost sight of the fact that civilians were heavily hurt. And I've seen some of the children, I've talked to the victims there. It is very distrubing. Children now in the morning jump up instead of getting up. So Ziltan was bombed. Now there's been heavy fighting in the west. There's been heavy fighting in Misrata. The Libyan government has annouced here in Libya that Misrata has been freed. Liberated. The Libyan military entered there yesterday. And there was heavy gun fighting there. And now they've left Misrata. It's been freed. And they didn't stay in their positions in Misrata because NATO would bomb them and they're afraid of this. So they only moved in and moved out. Now west of here there's been fighting. Before I start on the fighting, I want to announce also that the local TV stations were again bombed exactly when Ziltan was bombed, as well as a concrete factory and a cultural center in al-Khams and some local municipal community buildings. At the same time that this happened, also, Human Rights Watch arrived. A few days earlier, Human Rights Watch arrived on the ground here in Libya, they sent representatives from the head office in New York. I was actually asked to go to a meeting involving members of the Human Rights Watch. I didn't go. It was at the Al Mehari.
There's much more (the segment's over 30 minutes). We always do an excerpt and we also need to excerpt briefly another segment. Dr. Khaled Al Bazelya is the head of Libyan Television's LEC division (their English language channel). Kevin Pina spoke with him about the NATO attacks on Libyan TV for the last three weeks, resulting in the deaths of 3 journalists, with twelve more injured. "We are professional journalists. We have nothing to do with -- We are not politicians. We just transfer the news," Dr. Khaled Al Bazelya explained. "[. . .] We report what we see. We ask the International Journalist Association and Human Rights to look into this issue because journalists should be protected all over the world." Kevin noted the silence on the attacks.
Kevin Pina: Reporters Without Borders has not commented at all on the bombing of Libyan journalists.
Dr. Khaled Al Bazelya: They didn't comment, no.
Kevin Pina: What about the Committee to Protect Journalists in New York? Have they commented at all?
Dr. Khaled Al Bazelya: No, not yet. Not yet. Although the news has been transmitted by CNN, by AP, by Reuters, by most of the agencies. They all reported this incident and our statement on the inicdent We are a very peaceful people. We want peace. But we are a part of an organization that reports the truth.
[. . .]
Kevin Pina: Now of course NATO after the attack on Libyan Television said that they were halting the voice of terrorism of the Gaddafi regime. How do you respond to that?
Dr. Khaled Al Bazelya: Well I don't know. I don't understand this philosophy at all. I mean, a journalist is a journalist. You see that the reports are coming from Tripoli from the New York Times and the Washington Post, they have journalists from all over the world. The best of the world is in Tripoli at the moment and we give them the freedom, the freedom for their rights, the freedom. So we should be given the same as their journalists, as the French, the Italians, the British, the Americans. That's what we are asking for. We are journalists and we should be treated the same.
Attacking journalists is a War Crime. When US forces attacked journalists in a Baghdad hotel, Amy Goodman wrote about it and talked about it. Non-stop. In the 2000s, she also talked about (and wrote about) NATO bombing Serbia TV. But Barack's in the White House and Amy Goodman will do her little headline so that when Barack's out of office, she can claim she covered it. But gone are actual segments decrying the attacks on journalists. Repeating, that is a War Crime, bombing journalists is a War Crime.
Turning to Iraq, a day after everyone's reported on Leon Panetta, Secretary of Defense, commenting on the US government's desire to keep US troops in Iraq beyond 2011, the Defense Department issues a press release. A Tweet AFP's Prashant Rao highlighted actually said it all.
In addition, click here for Xinhua's text and audio report of the Clinton and Panetta Road Show/Eye Sore. Barbara Starr (CNN) reports on another US official making remarks about continuing the Iraq War, US Maj Gen Jeffrey Buchanan, "Buchanan also confirmed the United States is informally talking to Iraq about a continued U.S. troop presence in the country after the end of this year. He didn't rule out that troops could find themselves in combat in a new arrangement, but emphasized the expectation is Iraq will ask for help with training its troops."
Washington is determined to continue pursuing the aims that motivated the invasion of 2003: domination of Iraq and its oil wealth and the use of Iraqi territory to project US military power throughout the region. Increasingly, US control over Iraq has been severely undermined by Iran's substantial influence as well as by growing economic interests of other powers, including Turkey and China.
This is why the Pentagon and the Obama administration -- Obama's campaign pledges about ending the US war in Iraq notwithstanding -- are determined to maintain a military grip over the country.
Whether or not the Maliki government is able to secure a negotiated deal for extending the stay of US troops, Washington has worked to assure itself a continued military role. In eight years of occupation, the US has deliberately limited the capacities of the Iraqi military, leaving it without an air force or a navy and consequently the ability to protect the country's borders. US air power will continue to control the Iraqi skies no matter what decision is taken by Iraq's parliament.
"If we have not gotten our troops out by the time I am President, it is the first thing I will do," he thundered in the fall of 2007. "I will get our troops home. We will bring an end to this war. You can take that to the bank."
But don't count on cashing that check. The Washington Post brings the unsurprising news that Iraqi leaders have agreed to begin talks with the U.S. on allowing the foreign military occupation of their country to continue beyond this year -- re-branded, naturally, as a mission of "training" and "support." The move comes after an increasingly public campaign by top White House and military officials to pressure Iraqi leaders into tearing up the Status of Forces Agreement they signed with the Bush administration, which mandates the removal of all foreign troops by the end of 2011.
As with any relationship, saying goodbye is always the hardest part for an empire. The U.S. political establishment has long desired a foothold in the Middle East from which it could exert influence over the trade of the region's natural resources. Remember, Iraq has lots of oil, as those who launched the invasion of the country in 2003 were all too aware . They aren't too keen on giving that up.
And as is to be expected when one maintains the most powerful -- and expensive -- military in world history, there are strong institutional pressures within the Pentagon for maintaining the status quo. Peace may be good for children and other living things, but it's boring for generals -- especially politically ambitious ones -- and bad for bomb manufacturers.
MARGARET WARNER: Do they think it [violence] is related to the fact that, just two weeks ago, on Aug. 3, the Baghdad government, the Maliki government, and the U.S. announced that they were going to enter formal talks about extending the U.S. presence?
ANNIE GOWEN: Well, I think that's -- everybody has been holding their breath, you know, all the Iraqi citizens and the Americans here as well. I mean, that's like the $64,000 question here, which is, are the American troops going to go in total by the deadline? There's 46,000 here now, far fewer than were here during the surge in '07. But, you know, they're talking about maybe a force of 10,000 trainers that could stay, but, really, nobody knows. And the Iraqis haven't made a decision. And the American Army officials are just waiting for them to sort of agree behind the scenes as to what they're going to even ask for.
AFP reports that radical cleric and Tubby Toon Moqada al-Sadr issued a statement declaring if US forces remain in Iraq beyond December 31, 2011 "there will be war." The statement was issued online where Moqtada likes to cultivate a presence with tweens (mentally) as he self-styles as a gentler despot, the older brother you're thankful you never had. It's there, for example, where he attacked a supposed ally this week. Monday's snapshot noted, " Carnegie Middle East Center's Maria Fantappie sees additional problems between the political groupings and their leaders [. . .]" -- and she noted the growing gulf between Nouri and Moqtada al-Sadr. She may be the only one featured in a US outlet to note it. It's getting wider and more public. Al Rafidayn reports Moqtada al-Sadr's latest "Dear Moqtada" missives included a question from a follower about the Minister of Electricity Ra'ad Shalal al-Ani who resigned yesterday. Moqtada shares that he feels Ra'ad Shalal al-Ani got off easy and that a simple resignation is not enough for the level of betrayal. He goes on to suggest that there is "a network" of corruption within Nouri's Cabinet. Strong words for supposed allies.
Staying with the Cabinet, there are vacancies. The vacancies were noted in the Hillary & Leon: A Love For Tax Dollars yesterday.
From yesterday's snapshot: "With violence on the rise and Iraq seeing its worst day of violence, Nouri al-Maliki is desperate to change the narrative. AFP reports today that his 'media advisor' Ali Mussawi declared today tha Nouri had just 'appointed Saadun al-Dulaimi as interim minister of defence.' Because during all this violence, Iraq has had no Minister of Defense. Nouri was supposed to name one and Parliament approve one. He never did. He was also supposed to name a Minister of National Security and a Minister of Interior. Those are the three security ministries. But Nouri never has named them. He gave the posts to himself instead. And he's done a bang-up job . . . if increased violence was the goal." Reidar Visser (Gulf Analysis) walks through the meanings of the appointment:
The significance of the appointment relates to two levels. Firstly, in terms of the architecture of the second Maliki government, it means Maliki could be seen as moving towards consolidating a situation in which no regular parliament appointments may take place for some time with respect to the security ministries: In early June he appointed Falih al-Fayyad of the Jaafari wing of the Daawa movement as acting minister of state for national security, whereas Maliki himself continues as acting interior minister. This is a different scenario from what happened in 2006, at which time it was precisely the security ministries that held up the completion of the government after the first posts had been allocated in May, but a solution was subsequently found and the full cabinet was approved by parliament in June.
Secondly, at the political level, the latest move is a clear rebuke to the secular Iraqiyya, which has lately signalled unhappiness about the direction in which the second Maliki government is evolving. Whereas Dulaymi may technically belong to the Unity of Iraq faction (which has technically been enrolled in Iraqiyya recently), it is very clear that Dulaymi is not the candidate of the leadership of Iraqiyya. In other words, he is what Maliki sometimes describes as a "Sunni candidate" rather than an Iraqiyya candidate. The more this kind of sectarian logic gets reified in the Iraqi government, the more we get back to the political atmosphere of 2006 when sectarian violence was at its height.
Reidar Vissar notes Falih al-Fayyad is interim Minster of National Security. That's the first time that's appeared here because I missed it. And that's not "I missed it because I had other things to juggle and forgot to include it." I missed it, I wasn't even aware of it. Though neither al-Fayyad or al-Dulaymi hold real positions, I would've included the puppet's puppets had I know of it but I didn't. My apologies.
Puppet's puppets is not just a phrase, it's what they are. Neither was confirmed by Parliament. They have no power. They do what Nouri tells them are they're gone. While the Parliament (rightly) noted in the Minister of Electricity scandal that they had the power to fire not Nouri, these two puppets weren't confirmed by Parliament. Technically, they don't really exist. Nouri can dismiss them at any time. The positions remain unfilled not just because they are "temporary" or "acting" but because they were never confirmed by Parliament. With that confirmation, Ministers have a bit of power on the Council and can go against Nouri (and have). Without it, they sit at the table only as long as Nouri allows them to. They follow his orders, his commands and failure to do so means losing their position. So Nouri has managed a power-grab yet again.
Parliament never should have allowed him to move from prime minister-designate (November) to prime minister (end of December) without having formed a Cabinet as the Constitution dictates. There's no measure in the Constitution that allows them to return him to the post of prime minister-designate but they can call for a no-confidence vote. If they really wanted US forces out of Iraq, they'd do so immediately and vote in someone new.
Mohammed Tawfeeq (CNN) observes "a flurry of attacks" took place in Iraq today. Reuters notes a Baghdad attack in which a stationary shop owner was killed and three customers were injured, 2 Kirkuk roadside bombings claimed 1 life and left five people injured, a Kirkuk bombing apparently targeting the Kurdistan Democratic Party which injured two security guards, a Mosul grenade attack which left three people injured, a second Mosul grenade attack which left a child injured, 1 man shot dead in a Mosul market and a Mosul roadside bombing which claimed the life of 1 police officer and left another injured. In addition, Mohammed Tawfeeq notes, "A suicide bomber rammed an explosives-laden car into the house of Gen. Tawfeeq Ahmed, chief of police of Tarmiya, about 50 kilometers (more than 30 miles) north of Baghdad. Two people were killed, and seven others were wounded, but the officer was not in the house when it was attacked, and the structure was badly damaged."
That was far from the only violence. Seyhmus Cakan (Retuers) reports 12 Turkish soldiers were killed (that number is disputed in some reports) and the Turkish government states it was by the PKK (Kuridstan Workers Party -- a group who advocates for and fights for an independent Kurdish nation) so they sent military planes over northern Iraq to bomb the mountains. Today's Zaman adds, "NTV news channel says some 15 warplanes took off from a Turkish base to strike at bases from where PKK launch attacks on Turkish targets. CNN-Turk television says Turkish F-16s were involved in the raids." Joe Parkinson (Wall St. Journal) adds, "According to a spokesman for the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party, or PKK, Turkish F16 jets bombed rebel encampments in Iraqi territory near the Iran border for around two hours Wednesday evening local time. He said he had received no reports of deaths or injuries but that the 'bombing was very heavy'."
Pres TV: US is not simply suppose to carry out unilateral operations let alone air strikes in Iraq, so how could such attacks happen against the security pack between Baghdad and Washington?
Prysner: This is just another example of the myth about Iraqi sovereignty. Unites States' government seeks to exert as much dominance over the Iraqi government as is possible. Large blocks of the Iraqi government are only empowered because of the backing of Washington, as any government elected under an occupation, orchestrated by the occupation, would be. These attacks being carried out reveal the type of colonial relationship between the US government and the Iraqi government, where it doesn't really matter what is on the books and what is on paper. The US government will continue to essentially do what it wants in that region.
Pres TV: There are numerous indicators that the US has planned a long term stay in Iraq, why do you think the US wants to keep its troops there despite the strong opposition by the people of Iraq?
Prysner: If the US government was telling the truth, and the only reason they went into the war in Iraq was to find these weapons of mass destruction, to prevent an attack to the United States, and to bring freedom and democracy to the Iraqi people, if that was true, the US government not in any way would be trying to extend the occupation, but they are very much trying to extend the occupation and that is because they went to war in Iraq for profit, for the control of its resources, for the strategic advantage of having a US military base to continue their military presence in the region. That is why they want to stay. Because the gains they hoped to make by invading and occupying Iraq which are; controlling its economy, reaping massive profit off of its resources, and having a base of military presence to attack and exert dominance over the rest of the region, will not be accomplished if the US military simply withdraws right now it is too fragile and too much of a risk for the US government to take.