Saturday, June 13, 2015

Martin O'Malley

AP has a lengthy round up report on the various campaigns which includes:

Martin O'Malley says he has something Democratic presidential rival Hillary Rodham Clinton does not: executive experience.
Campaigning Saturday in New Castle, New Hampshire, the former governor of Maryland and mayor of Baltimore said: "I bring not only that executive experience but also a new perspective."
O'Malley acknowledges that his foreign policy resume can't match Clinton's, the former secretary of state. But he adds that it's time for America to have a fresh perspective on world affairs.

And let me note this Tweet:


. clearly enjoys meeting people & the press. Joyful and smart on the trail.

Martin O'Malley is running for the Democratic Party's presidential nomination.

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

Saturday, June 13, 2015.  Chaos and violence continue, the State Dept tries to spin the meaning of bases in Iraq, Barack's legal rationale is dubbed 'thin and shallow,' Amy Goodman sells war,  BBC News never sees torture or forced confessions -- only guilty people (who've not yet been convicted of any crime), and much more.

Earlier this week, as Barack Obama again sent more US troops into Iraq, The Nation's Katrina vanden Heuvel offered this:

  • This should not be part of Pres's legacy-- Obama Does Have a Strategy in Iraq: Escalation

  • I knew when it went up because a friend at The Nation immediately called and said it had to be -- had to be -- included in a snapshot.

    It was, the friend insisted, a statement.

    I scoffed at the notion but said we'd note it at some point if there was time.

    Today, we make time.

    As weak as Katrina's Tweet ('statement') is, she now stands like a giant for what she Tweeted.


    All things fake-ass eventually lead to Amy Goodman -- the Porter Goss of the '10s.

    Thursday on the weak ass and fake ass Democracy Now!, Goody Whore was pimping war.

    She brought on a ridiculous guest -- the Guardian's Shiv Malik -- because his revisionary faux history exempts Barack as a player and pins blame on all others.

    So eager was she to wash Barack clean that she brought on a War Hawk and gave him time to insist, "Now, that doesn’t mean that America should simply carry on focusing on al-Qaeda and not regear its intelligence machine, its military machine towards ISIS. You know, if you were wondering what’s a greater threat, ISIS certainly is."

    Most adults are able to grasp that Amy should have pushed back against this urge for warring.

    And if you've seen Goody play Last Journalist Standing, you know damn well that she's always preaching that when a guest goes on Charlie Rose or wherever and expresses an opinion it's the host's job to push back against it -- especially if it's promoting war.

    That was then.


    If you're preaching war on her show, she'll let it slip on by, don't stop, slip on by . . .

    With Goody pimping war, Katrina vanden Heuvel's weak Tweet (which couldn't call out Barack, only express horror at escalation) suddenly makes her come off like MLK brought back to life.

    Judged against an ever shrinking baseline, Katrina manages to stand stall.

    Not all the left once against the illegal war has turned to silence or weak stances.  For example, Thomas Gaist (WSWS) is able to report honestly what's going on:

    The Pentagon is preparing to develop a network of new US military bases in strategic areas of Iraq, General Martin Dempsey, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told reporters Thursday.
    The new US garrisons will house further deployments of hundreds more US troops, beyond the deployment of an additional 450 US forces announced by the Obama administration on Wednesday.
    The Pentagon aims to establish a chain of “lily pads, if you will, that allow us to continue to encourage the Iraqi security forces forward,” Dempsey said. US military planners are already looking at possible locations for bases in central Iraq, he added.
    “We’re looking all the time at whether there might be additional sites necessary,” Dempsey said while speaking to reporters during a visit to Europe this week.
    The US currently maintains a force of some 3,100 troops in Iraq, a figure set to increase to nearly 3,600 as a result of the new deployment announced Wednesday.
    The US may eventually decide to go “all-in” with its intervention, State Department spokesman Admiral John Kirby said in statements earlier this week. Even in such a scenario, the war would likely continue for at least 3-5 more years, Kirby said.

    While WSWS talks reality, the State Dept played words games on Friday in the press briefing moderated by spokesperson Jeff Rathke.

    QUESTION: Continue Iraq?

    MR RATHKE: Go ahead.

    QUESTION: Yeah, just on the – like the consideration of adding more bases and troops to Iraq. So if this becomes a reality and you’ll reoccupy the bases that you used to --

    MR RATHKE: Well, wait, I think it important to make clear here that there is no contemplation of U.S. bases. The U.S. train and advise and assist program in support of the Iraqi Government and the Iraqi Security Forces are located on Iraqi bases where we have a presence that is necessary to carry out that mission. But these are Iraqi bases.

    QUESTION: But didn’t General Dempsey say that those bases will be used by the United States? He called them the “lily-pad” bases.

    MR RATHKE: Well, I think what the chairman said is consistent with the strategy the President has laid out, and that strategy is if there is a request from the Iraqi – if there’s a request from the Iraqi Government and the President’s military advisors recommend additional venues to further train, advise – to further the train, advise, and assist mission, then the U.S. Government would consider that. And I think that’s been clear.

    QUESTION: So while we’re seeing this kind of incremental increase in the number of troops and bases in Iraq, they are being used by --

    MR RATHKE: But, no, no. Again, you’re using this word “bases,” and I want to be really clear about that word, because what we’re talking about are – is U.S. support at Iraqi bases --

    QUESTION: Okay. Iraqi bases.

    MR RATHKE: -- where we are carrying out a train, advise, and assist mission.

    QUESTION: But you’re using them.

    MR RATHKE: Well, but not exclusively. For example, at Taqaddum where the 450 or so additional U.S. personnel will be located, that is the Iraqi operations headquarters. So these are in no way U.S. bases. These are Iraqi bases where the U.S. is carrying out our mission to support the Iraqi Security Forces.

    QUESTION: Okay. Well, with this gradual increase in the number of troops, why shouldn’t Americans or Iraqis be worried that the United States will actually commit itself to a long war – slide itself into a long and bloody war that it used to fight for, like eight years?

    MR RATHKE: Well, the mission I think is quite clear. We are on the one hand carrying out airstrikes in support of Iraqi Security Forces under Iraqi command and control to push ISIS out of Iraq. And on the other hand, we have a train, advise, and assist mission which is in support of Prime Minister Abadi and the Iraqi Security Forces, and that is our mission. That mission is not changing. The ways in which we’re carrying out that mission have just been revised to include additional personnel carrying out the train, advise, and assist mission. But you’re --

    QUESTION: Okay.

    MR RATHKE: -- presupposing a completely different mission, and that’s not the mission that the United States has in Iraq.

    QUESTION: And you’re saying this is not a change in strategy. This is just completing the --

    MR RATHKE: No, as I think people have – as I think several U.S. Government officials have said in the course of this week, the strategy remains the same; of course, we’re always looking at ways to better execute the strategy. And in response to a very specific request from Prime Minister Abadi for additional support in advising and assisting Iraqi Security Forces and supporting their integration with the Sunni militias in Anbar, the United States has decided to commit additional personnel to that effort. So – but I think that’s --

    QUESTION: Just --

    MR RATHKE: -- that’s been quite clear.

    QUESTION: Just one more. Will any of these new troops go to Kurdistan, or just to the center of Iraq?

    MR RATHKE: Well, we have existing efforts in Kurdistan at the joint operations center where they work closely with their Kurdish colleagues.

    QUESTION: The new forces, in other words.

    MR RATHKE: And so the new – but the additional forces are focused on the Taqaddum base. My colleagues from the Department of Defense have offered more detail about that, but I don’t want to – I don’t – I take a certain suggestion from your question that we’re not doing things with Kurdish forces, and nothing could be further from the truth. Our partnership in the Kurdistan region, with the Kurdish forces, has been an important part from the very start of our train, advise, and assist mission and that continues.

    But Jeff Rathke is only one sick joke in a wealth of embarrassments.

    Few could ever top 'reporter' Orla Guerin (BBC News) who offers:

    Iraq's newest enemy, Islamic State, is in residence in the city of Ramadi just 110km (70 miles) west.
    We came face to face with members of an IS cell in the capital, who are now in custody. They are accused of helping to plan bomb attacks that killed about 50 people late last year.
    The cell leader, Haider Mansur, limped into view, in a yellow prison uniform. We were told he injured himself trying to evade arrest. The 34-year-old was handcuffed and had shackled feet. He said he was studying accountancy before Islamic State came calling. With his short hair and neatly trimmed beard, he almost looked the part.

    No, Orla, you didn't come 'face to face,' you were taken to Haider.

    You were taken to Haider who is a suspect.

    Haider has not been convicted of anything -- a fact -- a fact -- that you failed to acknowledge in your so-called report.

    He is injured which indicates he may have been tortured -- as so many in Iraqi custody are or has the BBC banned Human Rights Watch from employee laptops and tablets?

    The long history of forced confessions in Iraq are not a secret.

    But Olra gets taken to an injured suspect who is in custody and Orla presents him not as a suspect but as a convicted criminal.

    Orla Guerin is the reason so many people around the world hate reporters -- they refuse to do their job.

    And entertainment programming like Dr. Who, Coupling, Call The Midwife, Sherlock, Orphan Black, etc may give the BBC a glow around the world but Orla Guerin's 'report' dulls that shine immensely.

    'Reporters' were quick to hail the 'liberation' of Tikrit in April as a 'success' as well.

    Despite the fact that it was a failure.

    It was a failure for many reasons.

    First of all, it was supposed to take a few days for the Iraqi forces to arrive in Tikrit.  It took weeks.

    Second of all, all the Iraqi forces -- military and Shi'ite militias -- needed was the leader of Iran's Quds Forces, right?

    That's what they thought.

    But instead, thousands of Iraqi forces were held at bay by a handful of Islamic State fighters.

    Third, that likely would have continued had Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi not begged for US war planes to strike.

    The response is in dispute -- some say the US government demanded Shi'ite militias (and Iranian Quds Force) leave the area first but others say the Shi'ite militias (and Iranian Quds Force) left because they were disgusted that the US was going to provide support.

    At any rate, the 'liberation' of Tikrit just underscored that nothing was going to happen in terms of military advances in Iraq without US support.

    Fourth, it was a failure because of the looting and violence the Shi'ite militias carried out -- not rumored, captured in photographs.  The response to this was Haider lying that it didn't happen and journalist Ned Parker (Reuters) being forced to leave Iraq because he dared to report the truth and the response was for him to be threatened, for his face to broadcast on state television, for Haider to attack him (not by name) in two consecutive speeches and state that Ned Parker's type of reporting was a threat to Iraq and finally for Haider to visit DC and mock Ned Parker while Haider insisted he wished he had -- and vowed he soon would -- the power to control all the press in Iraq.

    And when he said that?

    No one seemed to care enough to report it even though he said it at a public forum.

    (What the world press ignored, we reported on -- see the April 16th snapshot.)

    Fifth, despite claims to the contrary, Tikrit was never fully under Baghdad's control.

    And now, less than two months after the so-called 'success'?

    Charles Lister breaks it down in a Tweet.

  • Tikrit.  The somewhat 'success' isn't even that now.

    Poor Haider, such a failure he's probably making thug Nouri al-Maliki seem better to the US government by contrast.

    Nouri al-Maliki's a War Criminal.

    But the US government tolerated and ignored his crimes throughout the second term they insisted he get (over ruling the Iraqi people in the process).

    When Nouri terrorized Iraq's LGBT community, the White House looked the other way (and lashed out at Congressional lawmakers who were objecting to the persecution).

    When Nouri targeted and killed Iraqi journalists and activists, the White House looked the other way with idiots like failed US Ambassador to Iraq Chris Hill insisting that a thug was what Iraq required to 'whip it into shape.'

    When Nouri arrested the spouses and children and parents and siblings of suspects -- people whose only crime was being Sunni and being related to suspects -- the White House stayed silent.

    When Iraqi women and girls were tortured and raped in prisons -- and the Iraqi Parliament documented these allegations -- the White House stayed silent.

    When Nouri attacked peaceful protesters, the White House stayed silent.

    Today, they're staying silent as Haider continues Nouri's crimes.

    They're pretending that it's okay and that they're focused on 'the bigger picture.'

    But when a so-called leader terrorizes a people, there is no bigger picture.

    Meanwhile Marisa Taylor and Jonathan S. Landay (McClatchy Newspapers) report:

    As U.S. military operations against the Islamic State approach the one-year mark, the White House has failed to give Congress and the public a comprehensive written analysis setting out the legal powers that President Barack Obama is using to put U.S. personnel in harm’s way in Iraq and Syria.
    The absence of an in-depth legal rationale takes on greater urgency with Obama’s decision this week to dispatch up to an additional 450 U.S. military trainers and other personnel to Iraq and to establish a second training site for Iraqi forces in war-ravaged Anbar province, most of which is under Islamic State control.
    The only document the White House has provided to a few key lawmakers comprises four pages of what are essentially talking points, described by those who’ve read them as shallow and based on disputed assertions of presidential authority.

    Read more here:

    I'm not a Richard Haass fan, I'm not a Richard Haass foe.

    I'm neutral.  But he did have a Tweet worth considering today.

  • / parallels 1)flawed decisionmaking; 2) incremental tweaks to failing policy; 3)discredited partner-not scale of US commitment

  • It's hard to disagree with those three points.

    There are certainly many, many more points to make but it is very hard to disagree with his three conclusions.

    Kristina Wong (The Hill) notes many members of Congress are expressing skepticism of Barack's move to continue the same 'plan' -- which hasn't worked -- but with more US troops being sent to Iraq.  From Wong's report, we'll note US House Rep and Iraq War veteran Seth Moulton:

    “Military trainers on the ground, I mean, that is really a combat role. … When the Iraqi unit that we were partnering with came under fire … that started the battle of Najaf, which was some of the most brutal fighting of the war until that time,” he said. 
    "So an advisory mission can very quickly become a ground combat mission. I mean, let's not forget: The Vietnam War started as a military advisory mission." 

    Anthony H. Cordesman (CSIS) addresses Barack's 'plan' with these observations:

    There may be some merit in sending in 450 more advisors and support personnel to Iraq – raising the U.S. total to some 3,550 – and focusing on creating Sunni forces in Anbar. There may be some merit in deploying U.S. combat aircraft more forward to an Iraqi air base at Al Taqqadum in Anbar, and there may be some merit in trying to directly integrate more Sunnis into the Iraqi 7th and 8th divisions – the two divisions that will have to try and drive ISIL forces out of Anbar.
    But , creeping incrementalism is rarely a way of correcting a failed or inadequate strategy, and this approach certainly is not a new strategy or a way of addressing the problems that the existing strategy does not address. The announcements of the last few days do not, by any means, reflect a new strategy, they do not address the problems in the existing strategy, and some proposals seem to be of questionable effectiveness.

    [. . .]

    It does not address Iraq’s deep and growing internal political and military divisions between Arab Sunni, Arab Shi’ite, and Kurd – divisions likely to be steadily fueled by Iraq’s much lower oil revenues, Iranian pressure, and the Kurdish seizure of new disputed territory in Ninewa and around Kirkuk. It has been clear from the start that success in Iraq required a far better solution to its internal problems – and quite possibly some form of federalism – as well as much more effective governance.

    Iraq has to make its own decisions, but providing strong U.S. encouragement, plans, options, and a truly proactive U.S. Embassy in Baghdad are changes in strategy that are long overdue. So is a U.S. aid plan that focuses more on helping the Iraqi government reform and address Sunni and Kurdish expectations and needs. Leading from the rear is one thing, remaining in the rear and doing little or nothing is quite another. And, this is particularly true when there is no apparent end game for lasting stability and security in either Iraq or Syria.

    As the White House continues to ignore working towards a political solution -- one that Barack swore June 19, 2014 was the only answer to resolve Iraq's crises -- the violence continues.

    AFP notes 4 suicide car bombings in Hajjaj today have left at least 11 Iraqi forces dead with twenty-seven more people injured.  As for yesterday,  Margaret Griffis ( counts 131 violent deaths across Iraq on Friday.


    Friday, June 12, 2015

    Tweeting Iraq

  • If US deployed 150,000 troops in Iraq, says Odierno, it could defeat ISIS. But a year later, "it would be right back where we are today."

  • This is C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

    Thursday, June 12, 2015.  Chaos and violence continue, more civilians killed in coalition air strikes, it's left to General Ray Odierno to talk about the needed political solution, the year long US battle against the Islamic State leaves US taxpayers nearly $3 billion in debt, and much more.

    The Washington Post's Eugene Robinson offers some consolation, "Don't feel bad if you’re confused about what the United States is trying to accomplish in Iraq. President Obama doesn't seem to know, either --  or else he won't say."

    Yes, no one gets Barack Obama in trouble more than Barack and his own mouth and his declaration Monday ("We don't yet have a complete strategy because it requires commitments on the part of the Iraqis.") continues to haunt.

    In June of last year, he sent US forces into Iraq to determine what to do.  

    Apparently, their efforts were in vain since all this time later Barack still doesn't know what to do.

     "We don't yet have a complete strategy because it requires commitments on the part of the Iraqis."

    Many have noted over the ensuing months that Barack's 'plan' was less than a plan -- so much less than a plan.  And on Monday, Barack chose to agree with his critics. 

    It was June of last year when Barack announced that the only solution to Iraq's crises (plural) was a political solution.  

    Yet his 'plan' ended up being to send US troops into Iraq as 'trainers' and to have US war planes bomb the country daily.

    The political solution would, apparently, have to wait.

    And it has which has rendered any US efforts useless.

    From time to time, State Dept officials such as Brett McGurk or Antony Blinken will try to insist that efforts to get Sunnis to join in combat against the Islamic State qualifies as a political solution.

    No, it doesn't and, no, Barack was not referring to that on June 19, 2014 when he declared a political solution the only answer for Iraq.

    What can't be discussed by the White House, gets aired on CBS This Morning (link is video):

    Gen Ray Odierno:  Well I think first I would just say that you've got to understand why this is happening.  And my thought is we had this in a good place three or four years ago and-and Iraq was safe, the economy was growing, we turned it over to the Iraqi government.  I believe it's because the Iraqi government has not been able to bring all the different groups together.  Until you solve that problem, in my mind, it doesn't matter how many people you put on the ground --

    Charlie Rose: That's right.

    Gen Ray Odierno:  And so my worry is: Could I put 150,000 soldiers on the ground and defeat ISIS?  Yes. But then --

    Charlie Rose:  If you put 150,000 --

    Gen Ray Odierno:  But then what?

    Charlie Rose:  If you put 150,000 on it, it would defeat ISIS?

    Gen Ray Odierno:  Yeah.

    Charlie Rose:  But then what?  But then what? 

    Gen Ray Odierno:  You have to solve the political problem.

    Charlie Rose:  It would go right back to where we are.  A year later it would be right back to where we are today.  So I believe before we even consider anything like that, we need to solve --

    Gen Ray Odierno:  The political problem.

    Charlie Rose:  -- the political problem. 

    Gayle King:  But do you think -- General, do you think we're leading towards ultimately boots on the ground?

    Gen Ray Odierno: I-I think what we're trying to do -- Listen, in order to solve this problem, you need the Arab communities to solve this problem.  The United States cannot solve this problem by itself.  We need the Arabs to step up.  We need them to understand we have extremism here and they have to help us and include the Iraqis --

    [cross talk]

    Gayle King: And why haven't they done that?

    Gen Ray Odierno:  Well again, there's this underlying -- there's this underlying throughout the Middle East, there's this underlying Sunni - Shia issue.  Iran, Saudi Arabia -- Sunni - Shia issue -- that's playing out.  And that's what's making it more difficult for us and for anybody else to help them defeat this threat. 

    Gayle King and Charlie Rose are two of the hosts of CBS This Morning.  The third host is Norah O'Donnell who also took part in the interview.  She raised some issues I'd like to get to next snapshot but we don't have time tonight. 

    Our point above is that General Odierno can and will talk about what is needed while the State Dept stays silent.

    A political solution is needed, a unified government that is not targeting Sunnis.

    This effort should be led by the State Dept but it's not leading on it, it's not helping with it, instead the White House has tasked the State Dept with using diplomatic channels to try to bring in more trainers and war planes from other foreign countries.

    The political solution is not being addressed.

    It's being ignored.

    Ray Odierno is correct that a political solution is needed and it is the only thing that will change anything.

    Without a political solution, as he notes, you can still defeat the Islamic State "but then what" because all the issues that led to the rise of IS in Iraq are still present so you're just going to have a new group rise up or a new variation of IS.  The Islamic State took root in Iraq because of the various crises.  Until the roots of those crises are addressed, it doesn't matter whether or not IS is defeated because it or something similar will always spring up.

    So what is Barack doing?

    Ian Bremmer (Time magazine) explains, "Aversion is the name of the game these days. Obama talks a big game about ISIS and how it must be destroyed, just like he talks big about how Russia must leave Ukraine. But he carefully avoids mentioning who exactly will defeat ISIS or drive Russia out of Ukraine. It looks like Obama is doing just enough to drag out these difficult challenges --  and hand them over to the next President."

    And that pretty much sums up Barack's supposed 'plan.'

    A year in, that pretty much sums up Barack's 'plan.'

    This despite the fact that AP reports the fight against the Islamic State is costing American taxpayers $9 million a day with the total at $2.7 billion so far.

    Under Bully Boy Bush, the US antiwar movement -- or 'movement' -- used to object to US boots on the ground and to military bases.  The biggest criticism US House Rep Nancy Pelosi faced on Iraq during that period came over US military bases in Iraq and her ludicrous attempt to redefine the term "permanent" to justify the goal of keeping longterm bases in Iraq.  (Nancy said nothing was permanent -- and as her many facelifts have proven, nothing is permanent.)

    Today there's barely a peep over either issue and, let's be clear, this is also about US bases in Iraq.

    A day after the White House announced the deployment of 450 more U.S. troops to Iraq and a new training hub in Anbar province, Army General Martin Dempsey said the Pentagon was considering more sites in strategic areas such as the corridor from Baghdad to Tikrit and further north toward Mosul.
    Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, acknowledged these might require sending more U.S. troops, which already numbered about 3,100 in Iraq before Wednesday's announcement. His spokesman said American forces could also be moved from within Iraq to avoid troop increases.

    A.N.S.W.E.R.'s Richard Becker spoke with Russia Today about the White House announcing the 450 more troops to be deployed to Iraq.

    RT: Why do you think the US decided to deploy a military unit which mostly specializes in combat rather than training activities?

    RB: I think that they see the weakness, it’s very clear to them. They invested tens of billions of dollars in building up the Iraqi military but it hasn’t worked. I remember way back in January 1975, the army of South Vietnam that was constructed in a similar way under occupation was rated the fifth largest military in the world and five months later it didn’t exist anymore. The US government, the Pentagon and the White House are trying to find a way to salvage this situation, to salvage something in Iraq after all that blood, mostly blood on the Iraqi side of course, but it’s not clear that they do have any kind of a clear strategy in that regard.

    RT: The US has pulled out of Iraq but now it's going back in. Is this an admission it never really succeeded?

    RB: This has been a disaster for US policy. You can see with the great arrogance that the Iraqi government was dismantled back in 2003, the military was dismantled, there are always proclamations about Iraqis welcoming the US troops and how this was all going to be a new day for Iraq and the entire Middle East. And instead it turned into a disaster. The US barely escaped from outright defeat back in 2009 and 2010. Then it pulled out the troops. But the instability that was introduced into the whole region by the US invasion of Iraq, by its allies’ support for the opposition in Syria, its dismantling of the Libyan state, all of this has come togetherto create a situation which Washington doesn’t really have a grip on how to deal with. They are trying some of these things but it doesn’t appear that this will push back IS. 

    Meanwhile the coalition bombed the town of Hawija.  Iraqi Spring MC posted this at their Twitter feed:

  • : إحدى الصور الملتقطة لآثار القصف الحكومي على سوق الحويجة والذي خلف أكثر من 100 قتيل من المدنيين.

  • Margaret Griffis ( counts 61 violent deaths across Iraq.

    We'll close with this from the forever bumbling US State Dept -- Thursday press briefing by spokesperson Jeff Rathke.

    QUESTION: Yesterday, Speaker of Iraqi Parliament al-Jibouri met with Deputy Secretary Blinken. Do you have anything to share with us about that meeting?

    MR RATHKE: Yes. We put out a fairly detailed readout last night, but maybe if I can hit a couple of highlights, and I think the – it’s important that this meeting took place on the same day that the White House and the Department of Defense announced additional steps in our train, advise, and assist mission with Iraqi authorities.
    The meeting with the Parliamentary Speaker al-Jibouri was an opportunity for our side to stress that our support for the campaign to degrade and defeat ISIL, as well as to discuss ongoing political initiatives that address the needs of the Iraqi people, and at the same time the deputy secretary highlighted the U.S. deployment of additional personnel to al-Taqaddum base. And this is in support of the Iraqi Council of Ministers’ five-point plan, which was approved back on May 19th, and that includes as a central element accelerating the training and equipping of Sunni volunteers and other steps to assist people in Anbar to retake their province from ISIL.

    QUESTION: On Monday, Mr. al-Jibouri at the U.S. Institute of Peace said without arming the tribal forces, it’s impossible – that’s what he said – to recapture Ramadi or those areas. Do you share his view on that issue?

    MR RATHKE: Well, we have – as we have said, that we are working with, we will be working with Sunni forces in Anbar, including through this train, advise, and assist mission, to expedite the delivery of weapons. As we have consistently said, this is done in coordination with the Iraqi central government, and it will continue to be done in coordination with the Iraqi central government, because that’s a central element of our policy. And indeed, our additional steps and the deployment of additional advisors that was announced yesterday is focused precisely on supporting the Iraqi Council of Ministers’ plan. Prime Minister Abadi and his government want to accelerate the training of Sunni volunteers, and so we’re going to be taking these steps to support that

    QUESTION: He also raised another concern that the Sunnis have at the USIP. He said last time in 2007, when the United States armed the Sunni groups, after the United States left, most of those people who were armed were chased and tried by the Iraqi Government, quote/unquote. That’s what he said. But now the Sunnis need a – some sort of guarantor that the same thing is not going to happen again after ISIS is gone. Are you willing to provide that guarantor for the Sunnis and encouraging them to be part of the fight and they won’t be in trouble by the law?

    MR RATHKE: Well, I’m not sure specifically what you mean by guarantee, but again, it is the Iraqi Government’s policy and it is the prime minister’s policy supported across ethnic and sectarian lines by the council of ministers to accelerate the training and equipping of Sunni tribal fighters. So I’m not going to draw a connection between the policy now that the prime minister stands behind and whatever might have happened in the past.

    QUESTION: But in all fairness, right after the awakening, councils were formed and they were paid because they were overseen by the Americans, by Petraeus at the time. Right after you – the Americans left, they stopped paying them, then they started putting them in prison. So I mean, there is a legitimate grievance there. I mean, I don’t know if you agree.

    MR RATHKE: Well, again, as I said in my answer to Namo’s question, we’re – if you look at the situation now, what is important is that there is an Iraqi Government policy which supports the training and equipping of more Sunni tribal fighters. And that’s what we’re supporting.


    Thursday, June 11, 2015

    Martin O'Malley on Jack Heath Radio Thursday morning

    Note this Tweet:

    Looking forward to being on @jackheathradio tomorrow at 8am! Tune in: #NHpolitics

    He is running for the Democratic Party's presidential nomination -- the one Hillary thinks is owed to her.

    Check out the interview if you're able to.

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

    Wednesday, June 10, 2015.  Chaos and violence continue, the White House announces more US troops to Iraq, the plan or 'plan' remains the same (and continues to lack a longterm strategy), various people weigh in on Barack's decision, the State Dept continues to wish they could carry guns and shoot-shoot bullets of fire while ignoring the diplomatic role they're supposed to be pursuing, nearly 300 violent deaths in Iraq today, and much more.

    Yesterday's whispers and speculation were accurate, Barack's sending more into Iraq. Today, the White House issued the following announcement:

    The White House
    Office of the Press Secretary
    For Immediate Release

    Statement by the Press Secretary on Additional U.S. Steps in the Counter-ISIL Effort

    In furtherance of his comprehensive strategy to degrade and destroy the ISIL terrorist group, President Obama has approved additional actions to enhance the implementation of the counter-ISIL campaign.
    To improve the capabilities and effectiveness of partners on the ground, the President authorized the deployment of up to 450 additional U.S. military personnel to train, advise, and assist Iraqi Security Forces at Taqaddum military base in eastern Anbar province. The President made this decision after a request from Prime Minister Haider Al-Abadi and upon the recommendation of Secretary Carter and Chairman Dempsey, and with the unanimous support of his national security team. These new advisors will work to build capacity of Iraqi forces, including local tribal fighters, to improve their ability to plan, lead, and conduct operations against ISIL in eastern Anbar under the command of the Prime Minister. This effort will complement the ‎efforts of U.S. and coalition trainers at the four previously-established training sites in Al-Asad, Besmaya, Erbil, and Taji, where over 9,000 Iraqi troops have already been trained, with an additional 3,000 currently in training. These additional U.S. troops will not serve in a combat role and will augment the 3,100 U.S. troops who have already deployed to Iraq.
    This train, advise, and assist mission builds on lessons learned during the past several months and is just one aspect of our commitment to support the Iraqi Security Forces. Toward this end, the President has also directed the expedited delivery of essential equipment and materiel in coordination with the central government to Iraqi forces, including Peshmerga and tribal fighters, operating under Iraqi command, to ensure that our partners have the equipment needed to effectively fight ISIL.
    The President also approved a comprehensive approach to aid the Iraqi government’s efforts to support the people and communities living in areas newly liberated from ISIL. At the President’s direction, the United States has been working closely with the Iraqi government, the global counter-ISIL coalition, and the United Nations to develop a holistic framework to help the Iraqi government provide sustained security, services and assistance, and local governance among other key support. The United States fully supports the development of an international fund facilitated by the United Nations to help these communities across Iraq recover.
    More broadly, we will continue our efforts to leverage all instruments of power to counter ISIL globally and most importantly, to protect the US Homeland. Thousands of foreign fighters – including Europeans and some Americans – have joined ISIL in Syria and Iraq. We remain concerned that these trained fighters will return to their home countries and carry out attacks and seek to inspire supporters to conduct attacks at home, and the President directed his national security team to intensify efforts with coalition partners to stem the flow of foreign fighters to and from Iraq and Syria.
    The President also reaffirmed U.S. support for the efforts of Prime Minister Al-Abadi and other Iraqi leaders to build an inclusive and effective governance structure within which all of Iraq’s diverse communities feel that they have a say in determining the future of their country. In this regard, the U.S. will fully support the plan endorsed by the Council of Ministers on May 19 for the liberation of Anbar, as well as the Iraqi Government’s priority of de-centralization to empower local communities in line with the Iraqi Constitution. This “functional federalism” effort being pursued by the Iraqi government is integral to ensuring that ISIL – once defeated – can never again return to Iraqi soil.

    Kristin Donnelly, Alicia Jennings and Halimah Abdullah (NBC News) note, "The U.S. troops will not serve in a combat role and will augment the more than 3,000 U.S. troops who have already deployed to Iraq, according to administration officials. The first wave moving to the Taqaddum base will be forces already in country on the ground, and then the administration will pull additional forces from out of country to that site."  Wolf Blitzner (CNN -- link is video) explained it this way, "President Obama is now planning to send another 450 US troops to Iraq after confessing just days ago that the US lacked a 'complete strategy' for fighting the terrorist group."

    On All Things Considered (NPR -- link is audio and text), host Audie Cornish discussed Barack's move with NPR correspondent Tom Bowman:

    CORNISH: There are these 450 U.S. military trainers. Is this actually a change in U.S. strategy, or are we seeing more of the same?

    BOWMAN: You know, it's really more of the same. The U.S. will now have about 3,500 troops there. And we're seeing a bit of a change in focus with these new troops - trying to get more Sunni tribal members to fight alongside the army that is largely Shia and take on the so-called Islamic State. Now, they'll be working out of a base not too far from Ramadi. It's called Taqaddum, and it's also, interestingly, where the Marines were stationed during the war. And, of course, Ramadi is a provincial capital, as you said, that was seized by ISIS just a several weeks ago.

    Later in the broadcast, Cornish spoke with former US Ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker who stated, "I think the real significance of the announcement today is not in the number of trainers. It's in the indication that the U.S. is thinking seriously about this, is engaging, perhaps in a way we haven't so far. So I hope there's more to follow. That would be the significance."  US House Speaker John Boehner participated in a press conference today and was one of many weighing in on the announced action.  Martin Matishak (The Hill) quotes Boehner stating, "I support the tactical move the president's taking, but where's the overarching strategy to deal with state -- the largest state sponsor of terrorism in the region, Iran, and to deal with ISIL and all of their related groups?"

    The news prompted a roundtable discussion on The NewsHour (PBS -- link is text and video) where co-anchor Judy Woodruff spoke with "former U.S. Defense Secretary and CIA Director Leon Panetta, former commander in chief of U.S. Central Command, retired General Anthony Zinni, former Undersecretary of Policy at the Department of Defense Michele Flournoy, and retired U.S. Army Colonel Andrew Bacevich."  Excerpt.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Andrew Bacevich, what about you? Is this the right thing to do right now?

    COL. ANDREW BACEVICH (RET.), Boston University: Well, I think it’s a very modest adjustment to the existing policy. And the emphasis here is on very modest.
    The policy is based on the assumption that we have the capability to create effective Iraqi forces. Now, when you think about it, we have been trying to do that for 10 years now. We have not succeeded, and I’m a little bit skeptical that the addition of 450 trainers is going to make that much of a difference.
    I’m sure that they will be able to transfer some important skills to the people that they train, but will they be able to transfer the will to fight, which would seem to be the fundamental problem with the Iraqi forces that have basically been taking a licking from ISIS?

    JUDY WOODRUFF: General Zinni, what about you?

    GEN. ANTHONY ZINNI (RET.), Former Commander, U.S. Central Command: Well, I think it’s an indication that we continue to underestimate the capability of ISIS, the enemy, and overestimate the capabilities of the Iraqi military to deal with this.
    The strategy from the beginning has had several flaws, in my view. One, it believes that time is on our side. It’s been a year now that ISIS has occupied land inside Iraq and has basically not moved much, and we haven’t been able to move them much. And, second, it depends on some magical ground force that’s going to appear through some coalition or the resurrection of an Iraqi military that’s effective.
    That hasn’t happened. Third, it’s based on an Iraqi government that is — to follow what Andrew said, is going to create more in the hearts of the Iraqi military to be willing to fight, and that hasn’t materialized either.
    So I think this is almost deja vu to Vietnam before we committed the ground forces. We dribble in more and more advisers and support. It’s not what’s in the hands of the soldiers. As Andrew said, it’s what’s in their hearts, and that’s going to be the difference. And I don’t think we can continue to let this thing just go on as it is.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, let me turn to Secretary Panetta.
    Why are not those concerns yours, Secretary Panetta? Why shouldn’t Americans be concerned that, if the Iraqis don’t have the will to fight, why should more U.S. trainers make a difference?

    LEON PANETTA: This isn’t just about Iraq. This is about a threat to our national security.
    If ISIS is allowed to have a base of operations in Iraq, make no mistake about it, their intentions are to use that as a base of attacking our country and attacking our homeland. That’s why we have got to push the Iraqis to make sure that the Sunnis do engage and that they’re armed, and that the Kurds do the same.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Colonel Bacevich, though, you’re saying that you don’t think the Iraqis have that will.

    COL. ANDREW J. BACEVICH: Well, more than that, with all due respect, I think Secretary Panetta is vastly exaggerating the threat posed by ISIS.
    The threat posed by ISIS to the United States of America is actually very, very limited. We probably should be worrying more about drug lords in Mexico, in terms of a direct threat to our safety. ISIS threatens the stability of a region that we ourselves destabilized, as a result of our own folly back in 2003. And that’s worth remembering, because we therefore ought to be just a little bit humble about thinking some kind of commitment of American military power directly or indirectly is going to fix the problem.
    The evidence is quite clear. U.S. military intervention in this region creates greater instability, not stability. If we want to somehow find a way to put the region back together again, we need to look to someone else to assume the principal burden for taking the fight to ISIS.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, let me turn to Michele Flournoy.
    Why isn’t he right, that the U.S. really is overestimating the strength of ISIS; we should be more worried about what’s going on in our border to the south than we are about this fighting forces thousands and thousands of miles away?

    MICHELE FLOURNOY: I think we need to look beyond the snapshot of ISIS today.
    ISIS is the new jihad — violent jihadist vanguard in the Middle East and globally. They are displacing al-Qaida as the — sort of the group to follow and the group to emulate. They are gaining ground in Libya. They are gaining ground even in Afghanistan.
    They, I think in the next few years, if not stopped, will displace al-Qaida and be a global network that will not only have objectives locally, but will have transnational objectives. We already see thousands of foreign fighters coming from Europe, primarily other states in the Gulf. Those fighters will eventually return and be looking to carry out jihad in their home countries.
    But on this question of will to fight, I think the key question is political. The Sunnis have been persecuted by a Shia-dominated government in Iraq. They will fight if they believe that there is a — they’re going to be treated differently in the end. That’s what will create the will to fight on the part of the Sunni population.

    Again, many weighed in today.  Among them, BBC News' Jon Sopel shared this take on the decision:

    After the fall of Ramadi and then the suggestion by the US defence secretary that the Iraqis didn't have the will to fight, this announcement is an admission that the strategy isn't working.
    What is striking is that these additional troops will be operating from a military base in Anbar province, where Islamic State has made major gains.
    The aim is to bring Sunni tribes into the fight against IS - they have so far refused to get involved out of their mistrust of the Shia dominated government in Baghdad.
    Involving them is now a key component of Pentagon strategy.
    But it will mean the US trainers will be operating close to IS front lines, and that will present its own security concerns for the US, and an opportunity for Islamic State.

    Some attempts were made to provide context.

    For example, Bryan Bender, Nahal Toosi and Philip Ewing (POLITICO) offer, "President Barack Obama was elected on a promise of extricating the U.S. military from Iraq -- what he called a 'clean break.' More than six years later, he’s found there’s simply no escaping the pressure to send U.S. combat forces back."

    The War Without End.

    It's not a new creation.

    Nor is Barack the first failure in the Oval Office when it comes to ending a war.

    It would be nice if reporters took the issue seriously and began pressing Barack for serious answers.  Granted, he gives so few real press conferences.  He's more likely to take a few questions at one of those photo op events after he meets with some foreign official, the people he calls on know they're going to be called on and they play their roles like actors not like journalists.

    It was pioneering journalist and legend Nancy Dickerson who got serious with then-President Richard Nixon.  Nancy Dickerson was the subject of the book On Her Trail written by her son John Dickerson who continues to write for Slate and is the new moderator of Face The Nation (CBS).

    In January of 1971, two years into his first term as president, Nancy Dickerson brought up campaign words.

    "Mr. President, speaking of your campaigns, you made the kickoff address in New Hampshire in 1968," Dickerson reminded.  "You made a speech [about] how the next President had give this country the lift of a driving dream."

    Nixon used that phrase repeatedly during the campaign -- his first successful one -- for the presidency.

    "Well," Nancy Dickerson pointed out,  "as yet, many people have failed to perceive the lift of a driving dream.  I wondered if you could articulate that dream for us briefly and tell us how you plan to specifically get it across to the people in the next two years?"

    "Miss Dickerson," Tricky Dick responded,  "before we can really get a lift of a driving dream, we have to get rid of some of the nightmares we inherited.  One of those nightmares is a war without end.  We are ending that war."

    We are?

    "We" wouldn't.

    The war Nixon 'inherited' wouldn't end during his first term.

    Nor would it be ended by him.

    He'd leave in disgrace during his second term, forced to resign to avoid criminal charges (the Watergate scandal).  The war would wind down under his presidential replacement Gerald Ford.

    Barack appears in no danger of impeachment but the Iraq War (he 'inherited') most likely won't end before he leaves office.  Per his own words, the current phase will continue beyond January 2017 when the next US president is sworn in.

    It's a shame there's no equivalent to Nancy Dickerson currently assigned to the White House beat.

    Phyllis Bennis (IPS) explains:

    Almost nine months after President Obama admitted that “we don’t have a strategy yet” to challenge the Islamic State — and just days after he said he still has “no complete Iraq strategy” — the non-strategy suddenly has a name: escalation.
    [. . .]
    The official reason is linked to the Islamic State’s recent seizure of Ramadi, the capital of Anbar province and a key city only 70 or so miles from Baghdad. (As Business Insider so nicely put it, Ramadi is closer to Baghdad than New York is to East Hampton.)
    Obama and other top U.S. officials initially attempted to downplay the significance of Ramadi, describing the inability of the Iraqi military to defend it as simply a “tactical retreat.” But there’s no question that the loss of the city, followed quickly by the Islamic State’s seizure of the strategic Syrian city and ancient ruins of Palmyra, reflected a serious consolidation of the group’s military power.
    Since then it’s been a rough few weeks for Obama’s war on ISIS.
    On June 2, news broke that the Iraq military had managed to lose 2,300 armored Humvees, at least 40 M1A1 tanks, 74,000 machine guns, and 52 or more howitzers, mainly to the Islamic State. Weapons were abandoned by fleeing troops, captured on the battlefield, and in some cases likely sold to ISIS and other militias. In a Reuters article caustically titled “Dude, Where’s My Humvee?” Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi admitted blithely, “we lost a lot of weapons.”
    The Reuters writers were equally direct: “The United States is effectively supplying the Islamic State with tools of war the militant group cannot otherwise hope to acquire from its patrons.”

    The above will allow as honest.  The rest?

    Phyllis is becoming a real embarrassment.

    I don't have time to placate and/or shame her into truth telling the way Elaine did a few years back when Phyllis was lying about the bodycount (Iraqi dead).

    And I'm at the point where I'm probably going to start calling a whore a "whore."

    Phyllis desire to lie and whore is destroying everything she ever stood for.

    I hope when Barack's out of office and Phyllis grasps the tattered remains of her one formidable reputation to her naked body in the public square, she'll still feel propping up a War Hawk, lying for him, was worth it.

    It is so damn amazing to me just how many Socialists in the US have gone out of their way to prop up a Democrat.  What really is in it for them when they whore like this for a Democrat?

    I don't enjoy Ezra Klein's whoring.  But he's a Democrat whoring for a Democratic president so I can at least understand why he's chosen his occupation.

    As a Democrat, I've always assumed Socialists (and Communists) were far more dedicated than I was and far more honest since they didn't have to self-check to make sure they weren't offering knee jerk defenses of their own when it came to politicians.

    But if Barack's two terms in the White House have made anything clear, it's that Socialists will rush to whore for him even faster than Democrats.  Certain Socialists. at any rate.

    At World Socialist Web Site, Tom Hall covered this group of unethicals last week with "The Bernie Sanders campaign and the American pseudo-left."  So it's no surprise that it's at WSWS today where Bill Van Auken cuts through the nonsense and offers the real historical context:

    The bellicose sentiments of the American ruling class found expression in the testimony delivered to a US Congressional panel last week by longtime Pentagon advisor Anthony Cordesman, of the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a Washington DC think tank.
    “The US needs to act upon a key lesson from Vietnam,” Cordesman told Congress. “Generating or rebuilding forces in the rear is not enough, and is an almost certain recipe for failure. New or weak forces need forward deployed teams of advisors to help them actually fight.”
    In other words, Iraqi government troops will fight only if they are led by US “advisors” sent into combat with them. One would think that the larger lesson of Vietnam is that such tactical remedies cannot overcome the underlying problem of getting an indigenous force to fight on behalf of a corrupt puppet regime imposed by US imperialism.
    The second prescription provided by Cordesman is that the Pentagon cast off its “restrictions on the use of airpower” and accept the “grim realities of war.”
    “The US cannot make avoiding all civilian casualties a strategic objective,” he insisted, adding, “There is nothing humanitarian about saving a small number of civilian lives and opening up whole towns and cities to prolonged occupation by threats” such as ISIS.

    Given that reports compiled by independent journalists place the number of Iraqi and Syrian civilians killed in the air strikes conducted by the US and its allies at between 418 and 850, what Cordesman is advocating is a Vietnam-style slaughter from the air. He speaks for influential layers of the ruling establishment and the Pentagon that want a quick resolution of the crisis in Iraq so that they can turn their attention to the preparation of far more catastrophic wars against nuclear-armed Russia and China.

    Every day, at every White House press briefing, every State Dept press briefing, reporters should be asking, "Where's the political solution?  What's the US government doing to help Iraq reach a political solution?  June 19, 2014, the president said a political solution was Iraq's only hope so what's being done towards that?"

    The Defense Dept can handle bombings all by itself.  It doesn't need the State Dept but, for whatever reasons, the State Dept has confused itself with the Pentagon.

    For example, the State Dept's Deputy Secretary Tweeted this:

    Discussed add'l US train/advise support for Iraqi forces w/ CoR Speaker al-Jibouri tonight. United in fight vs. ISIL.                              


    So you've met with the Speaker of Iraq's Parliament?

    Iraq's Parliament is unicameral.

    That means there's only one house.

    In the US, the Congress is bi-cameral and has the House of Representatives and the Senate.  The United Kingdom has the House of Commons and the House of Lords in their legislative body.

    But Iraq just has one house.  So Salim al-Jabouri is basically Iraq's Speaker of the House and Senate Majority Leader rolled into one.

    And this is who the State Dept's deputy speaker chose to talk military with?

    Not to address the issues of unity and reconciliation?

    Or issues that the Parliament hasn't voted on (such as the national guard -- there's a military issue big boy Antony could have grabbed).

    al-Jabouri is the highest ranking Sunni official in the Iraq government (the only possible equal would be Osama al-Nujaifi who serves as one of Iraq's three vice presidents and being one of three may reduce al-Nujaifi's power).

    al-Jabouri comes to the US and it's not treated as a major event and a major opportunity to engage in diplomacy on issues related to national unity, reconciliation and much more?

    But almost one year ago, Barack Obama stood before the American people and the world and proclaimed the only answer to Iraq's crises was a political solution?

    This morning, we noted Amnesty International's report on the Yazidis carrying out revenge attacks -- the victims extracting vengeance.  Part of the cycle of violence that will not stop without unity and reconciliation.

    Margaret Griffis ( notes 268 violent deaths across Iraq today -- but Barack sees no pressure to work on that political solution?

    Lastly, David Bacon's latest book is The Right to Stay Home: How US Policy Drives Mexican Migration.  This is from Bacon's "ENFORCEMENT IS NOT THE ANSWER TO EUROPE'S MIGRANT CRISIS" (Al Jazeera America):

    Every day people launch themselves in rickety boats into the Mediterranean, hoping to navigate the perilous passage to Europe -- hundreds drowning in the attempt.  In the last weekend of May alone, European naval and merchant ships rescued more than 5,000 migrants after boats issued a distress call, according the European Union border control agency, Frontex.  The death toll is on the rise.  At least 1, 770 people have died so far this year. The International Organization for Migration (IOM) warns that the migrant death toll could reach 30,000 in 2015.

    Others die in the sea off Southeast Asia, hoping to get to Australia, or any country other than the one they left.  Meanwhile, hundreds die every year crossing the desert through northern Mexico into the United States.  Some perish from thirst and exposure, some fall from railroad cars heading for the border, while dozens more are murdered simply because they're vulnerable migrants.

    Over the last two months, the migrant crisis in the Mediterranean has captured the global spotlight.  But so far the EU response has focused on enforcement and a crackdown on traffickers. Recently some European political leaders proposed using their navies to stop boats carrying migrants, returning the refuge-seekers to their points of origin, mostly in Libya, and then sinking the craft.  This enforcement-based approach not only ignores the primary drives of migration but also jeopardizes millions of people who are seeking refuge from repressive regimes.

    The governments of wealthy countries all use heavy enforcement against migrants as a supposed deterrent to migration.  Australia's navy seizes boats on the high seas, and tows them to the isolated island nation of Nauru.  There it pays a private contractor $1.2 billion to keep migrants in a detention center. The U.S. continues building privately-run detention centers.  The latest, the South Texas Detention Center, already holds 2400 mothers and children from Central America.

    International law guarantees the right to seek asylum.  Seizing boats and mass detentions are violations of this basic right, and endanger migrants themselves.  EU rules and standards require identifying migrants and hosting them in adequate conditions.  Asylum seekers' cases must be assessed on an individual basis in the first country in which they arrive.  They must be allowed to reunite with family members who are already living in EU countries.

    bill van auken