Saturday, February 21, 2015

If only we could all agree

AEI is the American Enterprise Institute.

It's a right-wing creation.  Sort of like the old Heritage Foundation.

I'm a Green.  I'm a liberal.

But I did find an article interesting (my father sent it to me) on the AEI.

It opens:

“No one is advocating re-invading Iraq” or sending the United States down “a slippery slope to have 200,000 troops in Iraq forever” when they call for more American involvement across the board in helping Baghdad defeat the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS or ISIL), provide an alternative to Iran and reconcile its warring sectarian and ethnic factions, a leading proponent of the 2007–2008 Iraq U.S. troop surge, said Wednesday.
Frederick Kagan, a scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, said at a forum on Iraq’s future, “Virtually the only tool we are using in Iraq is the military.”
Kagan; his wife, Kimberly Kagan, founder of the Institute for the Study of War; and Kenneth Pollack, a Middle East analyst at the Brookings Institution, reported the findings of their recent trip to Iraq at t the American Enterprise Institute’s Washington offices.

Pollack said what he heard from a number of Iraqi leaders—across the sectarian divide—was “We (Iraqis) are ready to follow if you guys (the United States) will lead.” They “want security and want other stuff as well” from military equipment to petroleum extracting equipment, technological advice, and help in attracting investment from other nations to Baghdad. “We are in a better position than the Iranians to do that.”

I do agree with the Kagans (who are neocons) that the US government is doing nothing to go beyond the military issue.

I would hope that is something we could all agree on despite whether we were right or left.

And I think C.I.'s right in the snapshot today -- unless the White House plans to work on political solutions, this military emphasis isn't going to solve a thing.

This is C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

Saturday, February 21, 2015.  Chaos and violence continue, there are warnings that an attempt to take on the Islamic State will fail, there is no political solution, there's no honesty about what took place in the last years in Iraq, and much more.

Retired military Lt Michael T. Flynn served as Director of Defense Intelligence Agency from July 2012 to August 2014.  He's now penned a column for POLITICO in which he argues that US President Barack Obama's efforts against the Islamic State will fail:

Unless the United States takes dramatically more action than we have done so far in Iraq, the fractious, largely Shiite-composed units that make up the Iraqi army are not likely to be able, by themselves, to overwhelm a Sunni stronghold like Mosul, even though they outnumber the enemy by ten to one. The United States must be prepared to provide far more combat capabilities and enablers such as command and control, intelligence, logistics, and fire support, to name just a few things.
Yet to defeat an enemy, you first must admit they exist, and this we have not done. I believe there continues to be confusion at the highest level of our government about what it is we’re facing, and the American public want clarity as well as moral and intellectual courage, which they are not now getting.
There are some who argue that violent Islamists are not an existential threat and therefore can simply be managed as criminals, or as a local issue in Iraq and Syria. I respectfully and strongly disagree.

He may be right.  I disagree with many of his conclusions.  I do think the efforts Barack is pursuing will fail but for different reasons than Flynn argues.

Flynn writes of evil and seeing it when looking at the other side in Iraq.  I'm sure some Iraqis looking back at the US-led coalition saw 'evil' as well.  That combat is 'savage' really doesn't strike me as surprising or illuminating.

Flynn's probably brilliant when it comes to staging an attack or an assault and probably in finding defensive postures as well.

But in reality, it doesn't matter who controls Mosul in April or who controls it in May.

Yes, it's been controlled since June by the Islamic State.

But, believe it or not, that's not the issue.

Yes, a military operation that takes back Mosul is a good thing.

For a day or two.

Maybe a month.

But it's meaningless if that's all that happens.

The American media largely continues to lie about what happened in Iraq.

Left voices obsess over Bully Boy Bush and want to whine about 2003.

Hey, it's an illegal war, it's an ongoing illegal war.

Bully Boy Bush is War Criminal.

We've covered that.

We've dealt with that.

We've addressed it.

But that really has little to do with right now today.

Bully Boy Bush started the Iraq War and it's all dominoes or something ever since!

On the left we rightly rejected the domino theory with regards to Vietnam but we want to pretend like it exists within Iraq.

Iraq had found a form of stability when compared to its worst days of the 'civil war' (ethnic cleansing).

This happened for a number of reasons.

And if we can't be honest about what happened to turn that around, to bring Iraq back to the brink, then let's just declare war endlessly and repeatedly and never learn a damn thing because that's the path we've chosen.

In its eagerness to withdraw from Iraq, the Obama administration also undermined the country’s central democratic institutions. After preaching the virtues of democracy around the world, Obama chose to bypass the secular, Western-leaning winner of Iraq’s 2010 parliamentary elections, Ayad Allawi, in favor of the runner-up, Nouri al-Maliki. Ignoring Maliki’s sectarian and autocratic tendencies, the White House then repeatedly lobbied Congress to expedite sales of advanced American military equipment, including F-16 fighter jets, AH-64 Apache attack helicopters, and Hellfire missiles — even as the Iranian-allied strongman unleashed a reign of terror and purged his political enemies with less sophisticated American weapons systems.
Paradoxically, after Maliki actually won the 2014 parliamentary election — despite reigniting a Sunni insurgency and a broader civil war — the White House finally pivoted away from him. Washington’s preferred choice this time was Haider al-Abadi, a genuinely moderate and unifying member of the Dawa Islamic Party, which Maliki continues to formally lead.  Nevertheless, the precedent set twice by Obama — that the United States does not actually respect the intent of Iraq’s Constitution nor Iraqi elections results — will haunt the United States and Iraq alike for decades to come.

I agree with most of the above.

I'm less concerned about Barack (finally) dropping support in 2014 for Nouri.

In 2010, the results of the election were overturned by Barack Obama via The Erbil Agreement.

That didn't happen in 2014.

Allawi's Iraqiya won in 2010.  Iraqiya did not get to see one of their own become prime minister.

In 2014, State of Law (and Dawa) has the post of prime minister.

Nouri is an MP.  That's all the people can elect, MPs.  They can put a party or a slate in the lead but the Prime Minister is elected by the Parliament.

Nouri wanted a third term.

But the Parliament -- in a deal brokered by the US government and the Iranian government -- chose someone else from the same victorious group.

They didn't have to.

They could have followed the Constitution and named Moqtada al-Sadr or Ammar al-Hakim prime minister.  Both non-Dawa and non-State of Law leaders were part of the coalition -- the Shi'ite coalition -- banding together.

I don't feel that the election was stolen in 2014 because Nouri didn't have a 'right' to the post.  You can argue Dawa and State of Law -- more than any grouping in the Shi'ite alliance -- had a right to field their candidate for the post.  And that is what happened.

I don't like Nouri and that should be factored into my opinion.

I don't pretend to like Nouri.

In 2006, he was imposed upon Iraq by Bully Boy Bush.  A month after he became prime minister (not prime minister-designate, prime minister), his weakness was already on display.  His paranoia would be displayed shortly there after.

He had a lousy first term.

But his second term was so horrific that it's easy to, by comparison, see his first term as 'normal.'

I firmly believe that had Nouri gotten a third term, Iraq would have splintered completely.  I don't mean become a federation, I mean the entire social fabric would have been gone.

And I could be wrong on all of that but I toss that out there because I don't claim I'm unbiased when it comes to Nouri.  I can applaud or call out any official -- Allawi, Moqtada, you name it.  But Nouri is a destroyer and I'm not going to pretend I'm fair about him.

His second term is what no one wants to pay attention to.

The western reporters, the western officials, especially Barack and the White House thing they can physically seize Mosul or another location and everything's solved.

They get away with that nonsense because we all want to pretend that Bully Boy Bush is the cause of everything.

Bully Boy Bush was not in the White House in 2010.

Nouri lost the election, stamped his feet, the UN caved and gave him a few votes his slate didn't earn but he still wasn't the winner.

And he refused to step down.

Parliament couldn't form a new government.

For eight months, he refused to step down.

He brought the government to a standstill.  This period was known as the "political stalemate."

And instead of demanding that he step down, having lost the election, the White House decided to back Nouri al-Maliki for a second term.


Ask Samantha Power why.  She argued for Nouri.

The White House oversaw the negotiation of The Erbil Agreement.

This legal contract finally brought the stalemate to an end.

The leaders of all the political blocs signed off on the contract -- Nouri is a leader of a political bloc, he signed off too.

The White House portrayed the situation as: Nouri has held out for nearly 8 months, he could hold out longer so be the bigger person and give him the second term to do what's right for Iraq and, in exchange, we'll get you what you want by putting it in this legally binding contract that has the full backing of the US government.

So, for example, the Kurds were promised Article 140 would be implemented.

I've slammed the Kurds for being stupid on this and I'll slam them again.

Nouri became prime minister in the spring of 2006.  Iraq's current Constitution was already in place.  Article 140 of that Constitution demanded that the prime minister implement Article 140 (census and referendum on the disputed territories).  Both Baghdad and Erbil (KRG) claimed oil rich Kirkuk.  Article 140 would resolve the issue, it was the means by which to resolve it.

Nouri refused to implement it.

The Constitution gave him a deadline: December 31, 2007.

That's written into the Iraqi Constitution.

But 2007 ended and Nouri refused to implement Article 140.

He refused to in 2008.  And in 2009.

In 2010, Nouri's going to suddenly implement it because he signs a contract promising he will?

That was stupidity on the Kurds part.

And it was stupidity on everyone's part because Nouri's first term was nothing but broken promises.

If Nouri wanted a second term and the Kurds and others were willing to give it to him in exchange for X,Y and Z, then they should have demanded he first honor those requests, honor those legal promises.

They didn't.

They signed The Erbil Agreement, this allowed Parliament to finally have a real session and name a president and allow the president to name a prime minister-designate (I'm leaving a lot out including the back stabbing carried out by Jalal Talabani).  Nouri's named that and, on that first session, that first day, after being named, what does he say?

He can't implement the contract (Erbil Agreement) just yet.

Just yet.

Ayad Allawi (and members of Iraqiya -- not all) walked out of the session.

Barack personally called Allawi and asked him to call off the boycott.  The boycott was highlighting Nouri's broken promises and the US didn't want their puppet looking bad.  Barack personally promised Allawi that The Erbil Agreement would be implemented.

The press whores in the west pretended it would as well.

Then a few months passed without it being implemented and suddenly the White House and the US press pretended there had never been an Erbil Agreement.

And this is when Iraq falls apart and the world looks the other way.

The power-sharing agreement is not honored.  Nouri's attorney tells the Iraqi press that The Erbil Agreement is illegal so Nouri will not be honoring it.

By the summer of 2011, Iraqiya, Moqtada al-Sadr, the Kurds (primarily the Barzani family but Jalal Talabani wants some easy headlines so he joins in as well) and others are calling for The Erbil Agreement to be implemented.

Nouri blows them off.

As 2012 begins, Iraqi politicians begin talking about holding a vote of no-confidence in Parliament -- if the vote is one of no-confidence, Nouri is no longer prime minister.

Moqtada al-Sadr repeatedly and publicly states Nouri can end this effort at any point by implementing The Erbil Agreement -- the contract Nouri signed.

At this point, Iraqi voters have had their votes stripped away by the White House.

But their elected officials in Parliament are going to do something.

And the vote requires first a petition.  Enough signatures are gathered.

There will be a vote and it is likely Nouri will be out as prime minister . . .

but the US strong arms Jalal Talabani (one of the weakest figures in Iraqi politics) and Jalal agrees to stop the vote.

His role is pure ceremony.  He is to introduce the petition to the legislative body in a session of Parliament.

That's all his role is.

But, under US pressure and coaching, Jalal declares he has to vet the signatures.  Each one.

And not only does he have to ask each MP if they signed the petition but Jalal invents the power to ask them, "Would you still sign it?"  And if they say, "Yes, I signed it but no I wouldn't today," Jalal removed them as signers.

Or that was his excuse for disqualifying signatures.

No one could prove what he did because he announced it after the fact and refused to back it up with any evidence.

Not only that but he fled to Germany immediately and his office announced he required critical, life saving surgery.

He went to Germany and had knee surgery.

Don't confuse this with his December 2012 trip to Germany.

Having lied in May of 2012 about needing critical medical attention, karma kicked his fat ass and gave him a stroke in December 2012 and he had to be flown back to Germany.

So now you have the people stripped of their votes, their elected officials refused official redress and so the people took to the streets to begin a year of protests.

And they had reason to protest.  No jobs.

Iraqi girls and women being tortured and raped in jails and prison.

The disappeared -- male and female -- who vanished into Iraq's prisons.

The arrests without arrest warrants.

The arrests of family members charged with no crime and suspected of no crime but arrested because they were related to a suspect.

The people took to the streets and Nouri responded by targeting the protesters, having them harassed and followed home, having them beaten and killed by Iraqi forces.

The Iraqis were denied their vote by Barack, the then saw their elected officials denied Constitutional redress so they took to the streets and instead of supporting them the US government chose to ignore them.

The above really just focuses on the Sunni element.  There were also Nouri's battles with the Kurds and with other Shi'ites and with ethnic and religious minorities.

But Nouri's attacks on the Iraqi people, his constantly calling any rival or body who stood up to him 'terrorists,' his constant verbal attacks on surrounding countries, all of this brought the chaos and the violence back to the level that many thought was gone.

Driving the Islamic State out of Mosul in April is useless if nothing is done about the realities, the political crises (plural) that Nouri fostered and that continue under new prime minister Haider al-Abadi.

Erin Banco (International Business Times) reports:

The U.S. effort to stop the Islamic State group in Iraq’s Anbar province, though only a few months old, is being hindered by the Iraqi military, the partner President Barack Obama said on multiple occasions was cooperating with all of the country’s sects to stop the militant group’s advance. In a replay of the “Sunni Awakening” strategy in 2006 that funneled arms to Sunni tribes in western Iraq in a successful bid to stop al Qaeda, the U.S. enlisted tribal leaders to halt the Islamic State group with American weapons. But now leaders and their fighters say they have not received any of those weapons, because the Shiite-dominated Iraqi Army is hoarding them in Baghdad.
“The U.S. government has not provided us with the weapons directly. The Iraqi military has them,” Muhand Murshad Drueesh Alwany, a Sunni militiaman in Ramadi who also fought alongside U.S. troops in Anbar in 2007, told International Business Times. “American soldiers are so far only consulting and training in their mission in Anbar, and are also conducting airstrikes.”

A trench project is being carried out.  It's a moat.

Those of us with long memories who were paying attention in 2006 may remember that when the Green Zone was almost breached one June Friday, Baghdad went into a panic.  Walls were put up all over (Nouri was out of the country at the time and expressed outrage over this and insisted the walls would come down when he returned to Baghdad -- didn't happen).  Nouri's plan was a moat around Baghdad.  That, Nouri felt, was the answer.  That didn't happen either.

But Reuters notes a moat is being dug to protect Kerbala and they explain some reaction to this:

Many Sunnis, however, fear the trench is not a temporary security measure but just one more example of how they are being expelled from sensitive areas in central Iraq, which they say the Shi’ite majority wants to control.
The trench and an accompanying berm, now more than half built, wind through traditional Sunni tribal lands whose civilian population has been caught in the crosshairs between Islamic State insurgents and military offensives by Shi’ite militias and Iraqi security forces.
“The goal is for the Shi’ite militias to cleanse the Sunnis from the area,” said a sheikh from al-Aweisat, an agricultural region about 40 km southwest of Baghdad that has been cut up by the trench.

These are not things that take Iraq away from the brink.

June 13, 2014, Barack stated:

I do want to be clear though, this is not solely or even primarily a military challenge.  Over the past decade, American troops have made extraordinary sacrifices to give Iraqis an opportunity to claim their own future.  Unfortunately, Iraq’s leaders have been unable to overcome too often the mistrust and sectarian differences that have long been simmering there, and that’s created vulnerabilities within the Iraqi government as well as their security forces.
So any action that we may take to provide assistance to Iraqi security forces has to be joined by a serious and sincere effort by Iraq’s leaders to set aside sectarian differences, to promote stability, and account for the legitimate interests of all of Iraq’s communities, and to continue to build the capacity of an effective security force.  We can’t do it for them.  And in the absence of this type of political effort, short-term military action, including any assistance we might provide, won’t succeed. 
So this should be a wake-up call.  Iraq’s leaders have to demonstrate a willingness to make hard decisions and compromises on behalf of the Iraqi people in order to bring the country together.  In that effort, they will have the support of the United States and our friends and our allies. 

There's been no movement on any political solutions -- or even on just one.

So the US is going to have to waste more money and for nothing.  And the Iraqi military is going to have fight and die for nothing.

This is the same problem and it's still not being addressed.

Throwing bombs at it isn't a solution.

I'm opposed to war.

But if there was a political solution going on along with a military solution, maybe a case could be made for US involvement.

But eight months ago, Barack told the world Iraq required a political solution and there's been no solution, there's been no movement towards a solution.

In fact, Haider really is another Nouri.

He gets applause for announcing he will stop the military bombing of civilians in Falluja.  But the bombings continue.  Empty words.

He gets applause for reaching an agreement on oil with the Kurds.  But the 'agreement' was just words and is being used -- the prospect of the supposed deal -- is being used for leverage.  Empty words.

It's bad enough in my opinion that the Iraq War continues.  But to keep spending money on it and to ignore that nothing is changing is insanity.

Either Barack is nuts or he just wants the war because he and his administration have done nothing to move Iraq towards a political solution.

Margaret Griffis ( counts 72 dead across Iraq from violence on Friday.

“This is a separation line between the Sunnis and the Shi’ites,” he told Reuters.

We'll note this Tweet by the State Dept's Brett McGurk.

    1. Milestone: PM Abadi appoints Dr. Thikra Alwash as Mayor of . 1st woman mayor in its 1250-year history.

  • She will have symbolic value.

    Whether she'll have more than that was debated hotly in the Iraqi press on Thursday.


    Friday, February 20, 2015

    Does elderly Mia Farrow not get how racist she comes off?

    The retired actress (forced retirement) Mia Farrow certainly thinks she's wonderful.

    Her self-love permeates her Twitter feed.

    She's so very fond of herself and that jerk Nicholas Kristof.

    And she and her circle of White friends sure do love to explain the African-American community.

    To, in fact, speak for it.

    As though they're honorary Blacks.

    Mia has a token she sometimes links to but mainly she just reTweets her White circle jerk.

    And it's really noticeable when she decides she needs to weigh in on the issue of Eddie Murphy and Bill Cosby.

    Cracker, who asked you?

    Do you not know how to shut your damn mouth?

    Eddie declined to spoof Bill in the SNL special on Sunday.

    Mia wants you to know she has no problem kicking Cosby when he's down.

    Well she's a bitch.

    She's always been one.

    She breaks up marriages, she claims affairs with dead men to insult the widows, she's a bitch.

    Bill Cosby may be guilty of crimes against women.  Rape and assault and drugging.

    Personally, I'd guess he is.

    But his career's now over.

    I don't think we need to drag it through the ground.

    If some woman wants to sue him, please do so.

    But without a court verdict, I don't see the need to humiliate him.

    I think many African-Americans breathed a sigh of relief re: Eddie's decision.

    See Mia's a White bitch who grew up in a White world where everyone White got to do what they wanted.  (I'm not saying that's true of all White people.  I'm saying in her spoiled and pampered existence, she hung out with other spoiled brats.)

    Bill Cosby was a trail blazer as an African-American performer.

    That Eddie declined to tear down a historic figure was a good thing in my opinion.

    That's not white washing the crimes Bill Cosby is accused of.  It is noting that they've been well covered in the press and that, at this point, there is such a thing as going overboard.

    And you know it's going overboard when Cracker Mia thinks she needs to weigh in.

    Hey, Mia, why don't you tell us about all your three-ways, as long as you feel like sharing?

    At least that might be interesting.

    This is C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

    Thursday, February 19, 2015.  Chaos and violence continue, the Islamic State kills a journalist, Iraqi forces spend two days physically attacking journalists in Baghdad, how many US Marines are on the ground in Iraq because Iraqi media has a number and western media plays dumb, CENTCOM whispers about an upcoming assault on Mosul which may involve US troops, Barack's little lecture at this week's failed summit results in criticism from an Iraqi leader who had been seen as a friend of the US government, Nouri continues to reign on Arabic social media (as the most crooked and criminal person on the face of the planet), and much more.

    Starting with reporters . . .

    Iraqi journalist killed by Daesh: Qais Talal Agha show same respect we give to western journos

    Qais was kidnapped last June and executed Wednesday in Mosul with his corpse handed over to his family afterwards.  The Journalistic Freedoms Observatory notes that 8 more journalists are said to be held by the Islamic State in Nineveh Province. Qais was 27 years old.

    That murder is outrageous.

    It's also all too common in Iraq.

    Iraqis may recoil at the actions of the Islamic State but they're not pushed into the arms of their government -- no, not when their government is beating up journalists.

    Wednesday saw a reporter and photographer for the Sumerian Channel severely beaten and a number of other journalists were harmed -- they were attacked by security forces in Baghdad who were insisting upon seeing their cell phones.  Al Arabiya News reports:

    Several journalists were beaten on Wednesday during a press conference with senior government officials held at the Al-Nahrain Strategic Studies Center in Baghdad, Al Arabiya News Channel reported.
    Al Arabiya’s correspondent in Baghdad said the journalists were assaulted by the body guards of National Security Advisor Faleh Al Fayad when some of them demanded more time to film the event, which was also attended by Interior Minister Mohammed Ghabban and Iraq's Military Spokesman Saad Maan.

    Alsumaria notes that today another group of journalists were attacked when they openly protested yesterday's attack.  They were attacked by Iraqi forces.  Today's attack took place in Baghdad's Tahrir Square and left several reporters beaten including an Al-Fayhaa photographer.

    It's such a public nightmare that even Iraq's laughable Ministry of Human Rights has had to issue a statement decrying the attack.  All Iraq News notes National Alliance MP Hamdiya al-Husseiny has denounced the attacks.  Alsumaria notes that Diyala Province Governor Amer Nostra is demanding that those responsible for the attacks be punished.  Meanwhile the Observatory for Journalistic Freedoms is stating that an apology will not suffice and will not be accepted, that the attack is an attack on basic rights and an apology will accomplish nothing.

    All Iraq News reports Speaker of Parliament Saleem al-Jubouri has declared that legal actions will be taken against those who attacked the journalists. While journalists attached to the United Nations in Geneva are calling for an investigation into the "criminal" attacks.

    So how many billion has the US taxpayer forked over for the training of Iraqi forces?

    Back in January, Loveday Morris (Washington Post) reported on US training efforts and observed, "Years after the U.S. military tried to create a new army in Iraq -- at a cost of over $25 billion -- American trainers have returned to help rebuild the country’s fighting force."


    So they can kill journalists more quickly?

    Why are US tax dollars being used to provide training and weapons to forces who openly and publicly attack the press?

    And does the US press think that if they ignore it (a) they're helping US President Barack Obama and (b) being real journalists?

    On (a), probably.

    They whore constantly.

    On (b), let's remember that when a US reporter dies, the US press expects the entire world to stop and mourn.

    But the same press ignored all the deaths of Iraqi journalists.

    Their true outrage over the Islamic State, please remember, has nothing to do with what the Islamic State does in Iraq.  It has to do with one American reporter and one American-Israeli reporter being killed by the Islamic State.

    When that happened, they went crazy, they put on the hair shirts, they wailed, they wanted 'justice.'

    When it's the Iraqis that suffer, the US press really doesn't give a damn.

    You can tell by the fact that they don't even pretend to be interested in any of the daily (ongoing) violence in Iraq.

    A point this Tweet really dries home.

                               Retweeted 5,517 times

    While CNN talks Nutella and Kittens, they ignore the 50 Muslims slaughtered in the streets of Iraq today by the Shia.

    In other violence, Alsumaria reports a roadside bombing southwest of Baghdad left 2 parents and their daughter dead,  All Iraq News states over "150 civilians" were executed in Anbar today by the Islamic State.  Margaret Griffis ( counts 196 violent deaths today throughout Iraq.

    Still no political solutions in sight to stem the violence.

    But Barack's always up for tossing the US military at any problem -- apparently mistaking trained forces for a giant paper towel from a roll of Bounty.

    Alsumaria reports US Marines -- about 3,000 -- are now on the ground in Iraq to participate in the upcoming effort to seize control of Mosul (which the Islamic State has controlled since June).  3,000 is not being reported in the US.

    Zero is being reported in the US.

    In fact, when even the possibility is floated,   MSM outlets tends to avert their gaze and turn their heads.  Jason Ditz ( notes, "US officials are now saying that the offensive against the ISIS-held city of Mosul will be supported by the US, with both airstrikes and “if necessary” US ground troops backing the Iraqi military."

    Ditz links to the only MSM outlet noting US troops possibly being involved in an assault to take back Mosul, NBC News' Jim Miklaszewski who opens with:

    Iraqi military forces backed by U.S. airstrikes and possibly American ground troops could launch an assault to wrest control of the city of Mosul from ISIS as early as April, a senior U.S. official told NBC News on Thursday.      

    Paul McLeary (Defense News) also cites an unnamed CENTCOM official as his source for these numbers, "Approximately 20,000 to 25,000 Iraqi and Peshmerga troops will move on the city to retake it from an estimated 2,000 IS fighters -- an attacking force that will include five Iraqi Army brigades, three peshmerga brigades, and former Mosul police forces, tribal fighters, and Iraqi Counter Terrorism Service troops."

    If you're thinking this is a source Paul has cultivated and worked . . .

    You're wrong.

    This was not a private conversation.

    It was a background briefing.

    Here's how that works, the Pentagon is the john insisting on his fantasies being played out and the press are the whores working to make the fantasy come true.

    At least Nancy A. Youssef (Daily Beast) provides some context when repeating the words the Pentagon wants the news to carry:

    That the Pentagon would announce the makeup, time frame, and goal of a military campaign is unusual, particularly against a group considered to be one of the world’s most lethal. Indeed, ISIS stormed Mosul (and took control of it on June 10) in large part because the Iraqi forces stationed there ran away from their posts. ISIS’s swift sweep through Mosul sparked the U.S.-led military campaign.
    [. . .]
    The CENTCOM official said he was announcing the details of the upcoming operation to demonstrate “the level of commitment… to this upcoming operation.”

    Press Association notes that the effort will begin in March . . .

    or . . .

    . . .  April.

    The Pentagon's not sure which.

    Doesn't exactly build confidence, does it?

    "we are not at war with Islam" says Obama. But he is at war in 5 Islamic countries (Afg, Iraq & drones in Yemen,Pak & Somalia)
    74 retweets 56 favorites

    Good point.  We noted the remark and the perception in yesterday's snapshot and also pointed out:

    Today, he decided to speak on behalf of Muslims.
    And he's not a Muslim.
    How do you think that plays in the Middle East?
    The man who's bombing Iraq, the man whose drones are killing civilians in Yemen and Pakistan and elsewhere, this man declared today -- this non-Muslim -- what is and isn't Islam, what is and isn't the proper practice.
    How do you think that plays out?
    There's a good chance that Barack put his big foot in his big mouth yet again and only did more damage.

    How do you think it plays out, Barack lecturing the Muslim world?

    If you're still pondering that, All Iraq News reports:

    The head of the Supreme Iraqi Islamic Council, Ammar al-Hakim, denounced the "double standards of the US towards fighting terrorism, considering these double standards as "helpful factor for encouraging terrorism."
    In his speech at the weekly cultural Forum he holds in his office in Baghdad, al-Hakim said "We heard reports over killing a Muslim family in the US for racist reasons but we did not hear any denouncement for this crime," noting that "Even the US President took many days to issue a denouncement for this crime which is considered a clear evidence for double standards." 

    That's not Moqtada al-Sadr, cleric and movement leader, speaking.  Moqtada?  The press loves to call him "radical cleric" because he opposes US forces on Iraqi soil and always has and because he's repeatedly called out the US government.

    No, that's Ammar.  Ammar who, like his late father, has always been a friend to the US government.

    Ammar who many administration officials were saying should be named Iraq's new prime minister (instead it was Haider al-Abadi).

    Ammar felt the need to call out Barack.

    The xenophobia of the White House is matched only by its hubris.

    Again, there are times when, if you're smart, you learn to shut your mouth.

    I know Bill Clinton, I like Bill Clinton.  So you can dismiss this observation if you need to.  But when Bill Clinton hosted events -- like Barack's summit this week -- he was more than happy to let others shine.  He was more than happy to let others speak.

    By contrast, Barack's got to be the center of attention, the one who knows everything and can't stop talking.  It's a 'summit' in name only.  The entire purpose for everyone to assemble and listen to Barack drone on.

    The world did not need non-Muslim Barack explaining what was and wasn't Islam.  In a world in which Muslims are repeatedly persecuted, the last thing needed was a non-Muslim standing up and trying to be the voice -- the single voice -- of a group he's not even a part of.  Pompous doesn't begin to describe it.  And it was and it is offensive.

    Mr. Know It All
    Well ya think you know it all
    But ya don't know a thing at all
    Ain't it, ain't it something y'all
    When somebody tells you something 'bout you
    Think that they know you more than you do
    So you take it down another pill to swallow

    -- "Mr. Know It All," written by Brian Seals, Ester Dean, Brett James, Dante Jones, first recorded by  Kelly Clarkson for her album Stronger

    Barack chose to grand stand and lecture yesterday.  Today, Ammar al-Hakim had words for Barack.  You can be sure others in the Middle East felt even more strongly than Ammar.

    The government of Iraq has wrongly claimed the right to Jewish artifacts. The Jews were persecuted in Iraq prior to the 2003 invasion.  Following the start of the Iraq War, the Jewish community was targeted even more and has dwindled to approximately 5 people.  Yet the Iraqi government believes that the Jewish property that they stole or that they forced Jews to leave behind somehow belongs to them.

    There's the exhibit that we've gone over repeatedly.  But there's also an artifact that has made it to Israel -- a 200-year-old Torah scroll -- and no one seems to know how.

    Some thought the US government might have had it and kept it out of the official archive (that they restored and digitized and plan to hand over to the Iraqi government).

    In response to this suspicion, last month the US Embassy in Baghdad issued the following:

    Regarding the Status of the Iraqi Jewish Archive

    January 28, 2015
    The Iraqi Jewish Archive remains in the custody of the U.S. National Archives and Record Administration while plans are finalized on future exhibitions in the United States.  None of the materials in the Iraqi Jewish Archive have traveled outside of the United States.  The United States continues to abide by the terms of its agreement with the Government of Iraq.

    The exhibit of the material in Washington in 2013 and New York in 2014 has led to increased understanding between Iraq and the United States, and a greater recognition of the diverse heritage of Iraq.  We look forward to continuing our cooperation with the Government of Iraq on this matter so that the exhibit can be displayed in other cities in the United States.

    Again, no one knows how the scroll left Iraq and ended up in Israel.  Last month, Justin Moyer (Washington Post) offered:

    How the scroll left Iraq isn’t clear. Jews emigrating to Israel from Iraq were once forbidden from taking cultural objects. But the scroll may have been smuggled out of the country after the United States’s invasion in 2003. The scroll had ended up at Israel’s embassy in Jordan, where Jewish artifacts were often brought after the beginning of the Iraq War. It may even have been salvaged by U.S. soldiers.

    But after a mob attacked Israel’s embassy in Cairo in 2011, Jordan didn’t seem like such a safe place for a Torah after all.

    We bring up the issue today because former prime minister and forever thug Nouri al-Maliki is more than just one of Iraq's three vice presidents.  He's also the subject of intense debate and speculation in Arabic social media where his criminality is always being discussed.

    This week's big Nouri speculation?  That Nouri actually arranged for the scroll to work its way to Israel in a long process that would hide his involvement in the scroll's journey and that he did this for the cash with the Israeli government paying him several million dollars.

    Is it true?

    Who knows?

    I'd guess not.

    But Nouri told so many lies when he was prime minister (and attacked and killed so many people) and destroyed Iraq that it's only fitting that whenever anything controversial arises, he is always the first person suspected of wrong doing.

    jim miklaszewski
    ned parker
    nancy a. youssef
    the daily beast

    jason ditz

    Thursday, February 19, 2015

    The truth that needs to be spoken

    At Dissident Voice, Ajamu Baraka notes in "Obama’s Legacy: Permanent War and Liberal/Radical Accommodation?:"

    As the U.S. increasingly turned to lawless violence to advance its interests over the last seven years of the presidency of Barack Obama, “leftists” in the U.S. objectively aligned themselves with the U.S./EU/NATO axis of domination through their silence or outright support in the name of opposing authoritarian regimes.

    It should be on a billboard -- in fact on billboards all across America.

    This is C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

    Wednesday, February 18, 2015.  Chaos and violence continue, BBC News blows the whistle on the White House's big summit, US President Barack Obama continues to make everything about himself, US Secretary of State John Kerry tries to sound smart (but doesn't come off that way), State Dept Marie Harf continues to come under fire for her remarks (surprise: we defend her remarks), possible candidate for the GOP's presidential nomination Jeb Bush finds he does have to talk Iraq (including the past), and much more.

    Andrew Buncombe and Michael Day (Independent) quote US President Barack Obama declaring today, "We are not at war with Islam."  Of course, yesterday speaking to the National Press Club, as Jason Ditz ( noted, Attorney General Eric Holder declared the US was "not in a time of war."  The full quote actually is, "Now we're not in a time of war, I understand that."

    Let's there's Iraq, Afghanistan, The Drone War, still Libya . . .

    What world is Eric Holder living in because it's not the rest of us occupy.

    His statement is so astounding it could be key in a committal hearing.

    But Eric need not worry because what is the current administration if not a living tribute and salute to John Kennedy Toole's A Confederacy of Dunces?

    If Vice President Joe Biden isn't garnering attention for groping some man or woman, it's because one of the other members of the administration opened their mouth.

    Today, at Barack's big summit, for example, there was John Kerry who appears bound and determined to end his career as a laughing stock.  Doubt it?

    Secretary of State John Kerry:  We’re here for a simple, transcendent reason: To safeguard the future for our people, all of our citizens, and to safeguard it from people who slaughter children, innocent children in a Pakistani school; people who pin price tags on little girls in Iraq and sell them into slavery; people who put a devout Muslim from Jordan in a fiery cage for all to see; people who send young women into the markets in Nigeria with orders to blow themselves up; people who murder Jews in France and Christians in Egypt just because they belong to a different faith; people who execute a good and brave Japanese man because his government pledged humanitarian assistance -- I repeat humanitarian assistance -- to help the hurting and the homeless in the Middle East; people who kidnap a young woman from Arizona who perceived God in the eyes of the suffering and who dedicated her life to helping people in need in Syria. 

    It's the sentence that never ends.

    But long before he's left you gasping for breath, he's already made a complete ass out of himself.

    "We're here for a simple, transcendent reason."

    Are we here for a "simple reason" or for a "transcendent reason"?

    Because, thing is, they're at odds.

    It can't be both.

    Does John know the English language?

    Transcendent is mystical or spiritual or incomparable or peerless or unparalleled or unsurpassed or divine or . . .

    None of that is simple.

    As usual, John's efforts to try to come across erudite not only give them impression that he's stuffy but also that he's deeply stupid.

    "Simple" said it all -- both for John Kerry and for the point he was trying to make.

    But Mr. Fussy never can leave well enough alone, can he?

    Barack's administration's become a lot like the weather -- if you don't like the current buffoon in the spotlight for whatever idiocy or faux pas just wait a few minutes and another member of the administration will take their place.

    The embarrassing and multi-day summit the administration has staged is part of the buffoonery -- at least a response to it.

    Barack's failure to join other world leaders in Paris for a Freedom March last January left him feeling a little pissy at the global criticism of his absence.  Which, "a former US intelligence official" tells Tara McKelvey (BBC News), is why the summit is taking place: "to tamp down criticism of Mr Obama for not being at the Paris march."  McKelvey reports:

    Still the planning seems a bit chaotic. Invitations to the summit went out to foreign embassies on 29 January, a State Department official told me.
    At an event at the Atlantic Council in Washington on the following day, European officials said they still weren't sure which minister would be appropriate to send to Washington.
    Even those who are passionate about the goals of the summit - combating violent extremism - wonder about the optics - a term the Washington political class use to describe how an event is perceived.
    One participant, a former State Department official, says there isn't enough time to coordinate ministers for public appearances - one of the main goals for this kind of event.

    The Latin American Herald Tribune notes, "More than 50 countries since Tuesday have been participating in the summit in Washington and on Thursday many foreign and interior ministers will be on hand to share experiences of integration, education and police coordination in battling extremists."  Oriana Pawlyk (Military Times) notes one group that's not "actively" present: The Pentagon. Which might be a good thing for reasons we'll go into later.

    Ian Hanchett ( notes US House Rep (and Iraq War veteran) Tulsi Gabbard appeared on Fox News' Your World with Neil Cavuto and offered this take on the summit:

    Unless you accurately identify who your enemy is, then you can’t come up with an effective strategy, a winning strategy to defeat that enemy. My concern here with the summit that’s happening right now in Washington is that it really is a diversion from what our real focus needs to be, and that focus is on this Islamic extremist threat that is posed not only to the United States and the American people, but around the world. From what we’ve heard so far, the administration is really claiming that the motivation or the — the thing that’s fueling this terrorism, around the world, is something that has to do with poverty, has to do with a lack of jobs, or lack of access to education, really a materialistic motivation. And therefore, they are proposing that the solution must be to alleviate poverty around the world, to continue this failed Bush and Obama policy of nation building. The danger here is, again, that you’re not identifying the threat, and you’re not identifying the fact that they are not fueled by a materialistic motivation, it’s actually a theological, this radical Islamic ideology that is allowing them to continue to recruit, that is allowing them to continue to grow in strength and really that’s really fueling these horrific terrorist activities around the world.

    You can agree with Gabbard's points or not.  I largely disagree with her (on ways to combat IS) but what's she stated, she's stated clearly which puts her miles ahead of Barack.

    Speaking at the close of today's summit, he declared, "My point is this:  As Americans, we are strong and we are resilient."

    Anytime you deliver 13 long, rambling sentences and then have to offer "My point is," you've failed as a public speaker.  In a speech, you make your "point" immediately and then develop it.

    Here's Barack at his worst, at his most preening and at his most dangerous:

    Al Qaeda and ISIL and groups like it are desperate for legitimacy.  They try to portray themselves as religious leaders -- holy warriors in defense of Islam.  That’s why ISIL presumes to declare itself the “Islamic State.”  And they propagate the notion that America -- and the West, generally -- is at war with Islam.  That’s how they recruit.  That’s how they try to radicalize young people.  We must never accept the premise that they put forward, because it is a lie.  Nor should we grant these terrorists the religious legitimacy that they seek.  They are not religious leaders -- they’re terrorists.  (Applause.)  And we are not at war with Islam.  We are at war with people who have perverted Islam.  (Applause.)

    Most will miss it.

    They missed as Iraq slid into one political crises after another and the Islamic State was able to enter the country and grab a foothold.

    We didn't miss it.

    And we don't miss the embarrassment in Barack's remarks above.

    First on the name "Islamic State."  When the Weather Underground dubbed themselves that, they weren't claiming they controlled the weather or spoke for the four elements.

    If that's confusing to Barack he could ask 'just a guy in my neighborhood' Bill Ayers.  Weren't they just at MSNBC host Alex Wagner's wedding this past summer?  Of course, Bill Ayers is a useless little bitch -- arm candy that went sour over the years.  Bernardine Dohrn is the thinker (and the doer) in that couple and always has been.  But, with help from Bernardine, even Bill could probably clarify that point for Barack.

    Second, and this is the important part, Barack's not a Muslim.

    This has been stated and stated repeatedly.  So much so that some, over the years (Naomi Klein, for example) have noted that the denials come off insulting -- as though there's something wrong with Islam or being a Muslim.

    Any religion has degrees.

    For example, categories of Judaism in the United States today would include Chasidic, Orthodox, Reform and Conservative.

    There are many examples of violent wings of religion in the US.  You have a strand of Christianity who believe its acceptable to kill doctors and blow up clinics where abortions are performed.  You have a semi-lighter strand that doesn't believe in carrying those activities out themselves but does believe in applauding them.

    Religion's a complex issue and people can easily get their feelings hurt -- rational people as well as radicals who may or may not resort to violence.

    Which is why religion needs to be spoken of carefully.

    Barack's not a Muslim.

    Why is he speaking?

    He claims there's no US war on Islam.

    But if you ask people around the world, you'd find a significant number disagree.

    Some would point out that Islam has been the chief characteristic for the wars the US has carried out since 2001.

    Does that mean the US government is at war with or declared war on Islam?

    It doesn't have to.

    I don't personally believe that the US government is making a point to go after a religion.  I do feel they're making a point to go after resources but that's an argument for another day.

    Whether you agree with the perception or not, that the US is at war with Islam, you need to be aware the perception is out there.

    And while a number of us are aware Barack never knows when to shut his mouth and feels the whole world needs him uncesnored on Knaye West, the Superbowl, this and that, the reality is that his inflated ego does a lot of harm.

    Today, he decided to speak on behalf of Muslims.

    And he's not a Muslim.

    How do you think that plays in the Middle East?

    The man who's bombing Iraq, the man whose drones are killing civilians in Yemen and Pakistan and elsewhere, this man declared today -- this non-Muslim -- what is and isn't Islam, what is and isn't the proper practice.

    How do you think that plays out?

    There's a good chance that Barack put his big foot in his big mouth yet again and only did more damage.

    Last week, we noted the words of Rania Al-Abdullah, Queen of Jordan.  In far less words than Barack used, she made similar points.  But she has standing.  She is a member of the region.  She is a Muslim.

    She has standing.

    She's not an outsider finger-pointing.

    The White House and the State Dept failed to highlight the very important speech -- which was news in the Arab world -- that she gave.  They were too busy focusing on bombs but, clearly, Barack's speech writer(s) did study Rania Al-Abdullah's speech.

    I'm not really seeing how a foreigner and non-Muslim telling the world what Islam is and isn't scores points.  I do see how it might antagonize and how it might backfire.

    Barack's become the White man that wants to discuss racism as long as he can dictate the terms and define the boundaries.  Maybe it's his 'typical White person' grandma rubbing off on him?

    I have no idea.

    But when you're already dropping bombs on Muslims -- civilians as well as your so-called targets -- maybe you don't also get the right to speak for them or to define their religion to the world?

    And maybe when you attempt either, you only inflame and anger people who might have been on the fence.  Maybe your refusal to give Muslims the basic respect they deserve only serves to radicalize others?

    Last week, we covered the Queen of Jordan's speech in two snapshots because it was so important and so needed.  Again, clearly Barack's speechwriter(s) agreed with that assessment.

    But while we covered it, the State Dept refused to even acknowledge it -- the same for the White House.

    For this summit to have had any value, the White House should have invited Rainia Al-Abdullah to speak.

    Instead of hearing from someone with personal experience and wisdom, Barack wanted to show boat.

    I hope his ego got fed because nothing was accomplished with his remarks other than portraying the President of the United States as someone who would lecture Muslims and 'explain' to them what Islam really is about.

    In addition, someone should clarify to the White House speech writers that a laundry list is not a speech.  And that for this function, the flourishes should have been kept to a minimum and the focus should have been on what can be done.

    The White House speech writers may be paid to listen to Barack drone on but the international audience wasn't.

    He needs to make his main points and do so quickly.

    Barack wasn't the only one getting attention for a speech today.

    There was also Jeb Bush who we were just noting in yesterday's snapshot -- specifically how he couldn't avoid the subject of Iraq -- even in part.

    Stephen Collinson (CNN) observes:

    Democrats are vowing to tether him to the controversial decisions of his brother, President George W. Bush, who they blame for starting a war in Iraq on false pretenses and for presiding over a disastrous occupation that cost trillions of dollars, thousands of U.S. and Iraqi lives and destabilized the region.
    The challenges of addressing his family's foreign policy legacy are clear to Bush, who is already trying to defuse them.
      "I love my father and my brother. I admire their service to the nation and the difficult decisions they had to make," Bush said Wednesday. "But I am my own man -- and my views are shaped by my own thinking and own experiences."

      Igor Bobic (Huffington Post) reports:

      "There were mistakes in Iraq for sure," the likely presidential candidate said in a Q&A session at the Chicago Council on Global Affairs. "Using the intelligence capability that everybody embraced about weapons of mass destruction turns out to not be accurate. Not creating an environment of security after the successful taking out of [Iraqi dictator Saddam] Hussein was a mistake because Iraqis wanted security more than anything else."
      "But my brother's administration, through the surge, which was one of the most heroic acts of courage politically that any president's done because there was no support for this, it was hugely successful, it created a stability when the new president came in," he added.

      That talking point can be defeated very easily.

      It can also be addressed stupidly which is probably how my side (the left) will handle it.

      They will insist that the 'surge' was a failure and blah blah blah.

      And in doing so they will anger military families and military members and veterans who rightly know that the US military succeeded with the 'surge.'

      They did everything they were tasked to do, everything they were trained to do.

      But Bully Boy Bush insisted the 'surge' had to take place to allow the political issues in Iraq to be resolved.

      Don't we love how Oval Office occupants pretend to care about the political issues in Iraq?

      At any rate, Bully Boy Bush had given Nouri al-Maliki (forever thug and then-prime minister) a set of benchmarks to meet so he could show progress in Iraq to the US Congress.

      The 'surge' was supposed to provide the room, the space, for the political to be dealt with.

      The US military did not fail in the 'surge.'

      The White House failed.

      Bully Boy Bush failed.

      American troops risked their lives -- some lost their lives during the surge -- and did so to provide space for political solutions.

      But none came, no political solutions came.

      And that White House -- just like the current one -- just accepted it.

      Didn't use the diplomatic tool box to force political movement.

      Bully Boy Bush sent thousand of US troops into Iraq for the 'surge' and then failed to follow up on what the 'surge' was supposed to allow time for.

      That's how you talk about the 'surge' because it's reality.

      It's also how you talk about it if you're interested in pulling in voters as opposed to just preaching to your own tiny church.

      Jeb could craft a winning response (I'm not here to help a Bush) that would tamp down briefly on criticism -- it wouldn't be a political response, it would be a personal one and he and his team can ponder that on their own.

      But note how AP opens their coverage of Jeb's remarks today:

      Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush said Wednesday there can be no diplomacy with Islamic State militants, but only a U.S.-led coalition of Middle Eastern countries committed to "tightening the noose and taking them out."

      And that's why he can't avoid Iraq or his brother's actions with regards to Iraq.

      He wants to suggest what needs to take place.

      Most Americans -- as the polls demonstrate -- believe the Iraq War was a mistake.

      He can't suggest future movement and be credible without acknowledging serious mistakes.

      It's been noted by many Democratic observers that Hillary can't run on Barack and win.  There's not enough political support in the country for that.  Most -- check the polls -- have felt for some time now that the country was headed in the wrong direction -- on the economy and other factors.

      She's going to have to distance herself if she runs for the DNC nomination.  Jeb and Hillary both are going to have to distance themselves if they want to win the White House.

      Sadly, these are the two who appear to be the 'hope' for America at this point.

      In yesterday's snapshot, we noted State Dept spokesperson Marie Harf and Jen Psaki and this lead to an e-mail from Newsbusters about Geoffrey Dickens' analysis of the lack of coverage on Harf's remarks from the networks.

      I have no problem noting that item or linking to it.

      But from the e-mail, it's clear I wasn't clear.

      I think it's karma that Marie's being mocked.

      I think it's fitting.

      But not because I think she said something crazy.  This is also where I disagree with US House Rep Tulsi Gabbard who we noted much, much earlier.

      Marie's right: Jobs are needed in Iraq.  (And she meant Syria as well but our focus is Iraq.)

      Marie's comments weren't crazy.  Not to me.

      That Newsbusters finds them so is not surprising, they look at the world from a different angle and that's good and it's good that we are all aware of that angle because we can toss things around in our minds and see what we back up and believe in.

      For me, that's Marie's comments.

      Her failure as spokesperson to note this in all the months since June go to why she deserves to be made fun of.

      She hasn't done her job.

      In fairness to her, and to Jen Psaki, the State Dept hasn't done its job.  John Kerry confused himself with Secretary of Defense and Barack has stupidly allowed that to take place -- even encouraged it.

      In June, Barack noted the only solution for Iraq was a political solution, not a military one.

      A political one involves jobs.

      Iraq has a very young population and it has a very unemployed population.

      I think we pitched, for three years, that Nouri needed to stop importing nurses from other countries and start educating Iraqis to take these positions.  Nouri finally seized on it after the April elections when he was desperate for a third term.

      Iraq has all of these foreigners pouring into the country to do various jobs (and a number of them are victimized -- but that's another story).  This shouldn't be happening when Iraq's unemployment rate is in the double digits.

      Marie is correct: Jobs are needed.

      There are many other issues that could also help -- this is the political solution that Barack can talk about but apparently never order anyone in the administration to work on.

      'They just need jobs' is an oversimplification.  It's not what Marie Harf meant.  She was attempting to speak -- no one ever gets a chance to speak clearly when they're opposite motor mouth Chris Matthews -- about the landscape of changes that could make a huge difference in Iraq.

      She's taken a lot of flack for her remarks.

      And I don't shed a tear because she and the State Dept should have been selling this all along.  They wait over half a year after Barack's given his 'political solution required' speech (which was a strong one, by the way) to attempt to expand on it.

      So that's on them.

      Lastly, Margaret Griffis ( counts 194 violent deaths in Iraq today.