Thursday, September 10, 2020

You have choices


Howie Hawkins.  Remember, you do have a choice in the election.  Can't vote for Trump or Biden?  There's my guy Howie.  There's Gloria La Riva, Jo Jorgensen and Joseph Kishore.  You have choices.

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

 Thursday, September 10, 2020.  Iraq remains a US designed mess and look who shows up to whine about (some) US troops leaving Iraq.

The big Iraq story remains the drawdown of US forces in Iraq.

When the reduction takes place, it is said there will be 3,000 US troops in Iraq.  Of course, that count won't include US special-ops.

Paul Reickhoff is displeased by the move.  If that surprises you, you're unaware of who Paul is.  He's a bloody War Hawk and always has been.  He's an MSNBC figure and he's that because he supports wars.  When Paul's doing his IAVA work, we tend to ignore his other side.  Our only criticism of him was his repeated need -- for years -- to present himself to the media expert on all topics to do with veterans.  We especially called him out for making himself the IAVA 'expert' for the media on assault in the military.  Paul's never been raped or assaulted.  Most who are?  Women.  But time and again -- because of his macho bulls**t -- he'd try to speak to issues that female veterans should be speaking to.

Again, that's about it when it came to IAVA.  Well, one more thing.  Paul and MSNBC need to be clear on something.  Paul serves on the board of directors of IAVA.  That's really all he does now.  Stop presenting him as the leader of IAVA -- that would be Jeremy Butler and it has been Jeremy since IAVA made the January 29, 2019 announcement.  That's nearly two years ago.  Stop lying.

Outside of IAVA how did the macho pig that we used to call Mommy's Pantyhose because of the ridiculous way he dressed his bald head, how did he conduct himself.

As a War Pig.  For example, he went to any outlet that would have him (MSNBC will always have him) to trash Lt Ehren Watada.  Paul doesn't know the law, not even military law.  Paul was wrong in everyone of his predictions about what would happen legally to Ehren.  

For those who don't remember Ehren, he was an officer who refused to comply with the order to deploy to Iraq.

Lt Ehren Watada took a courageous stand and he is a hero.

Paul is a war monger who has for years tried to speak for women -- shut up, Paul -- and he's now trying to pretend he's still running IAVA.  Poor Jeremy Butler.  Know it all Paul's not going to let him lead IAVA apparently.  

Paul believes that the troops are being used as "props'' by Donald Trump.  Or that's the garbage he spewed on MSNBC yesterday.  Better props than cannon fodder.  He will scream and whine and have his hissy fit over and over.  And each time he does, he will get closer and closer to being outright rejected by IAVA.  Paul's decision to step down as leader wasn't Paul's decision but do we want to go into that?

The US military has accomplished nothing in Iraq.  That's the reality.  Training?  That's what they supposedly do now.  They have been training and retraining the Iraqi forces since 2003.  

Let's drop back to the December 1, 2011 snapshot:

US House Rep Dana Rohrabacher: This whole episode in American history is a very disturbing thing to look at.  And I think when people look back, they're going to wonder why the hell did we ever go into Iraq?  And there will be no question, even in our minds today, whether or not the money that was expended and the lives and the blood that was expended there was worth it?  It was not.  And whatever we are spending now should be terminated and as soon as we can get those troops out, the better.  When you find yourself in a bad situation, you don't try to mess around to make it a little bit less bad, you just step over and try to get in a good situation somewhere else where you can accomplish things.


Yeah, some can speak the truth and not shy from it. Rohrabacher was speaking at a hearing yesterday, one about the State Dept's plan to spend or waste billions training the Iraqi police or supposedly training since DoD contracts set the pattern for a lack of accountability that it has now handed off to State. 
"Number one, does the government of Iraq -- whose personnel we intend to train -- support the program?" asked US House Rep Gary Ackerman yesterday. "Interviews with senior Iraqi officials by the Special Inspector General show utter disdain for the program. When the Iraqis suggest that we take our money and do things instead that are good for the United States, I think that might be a clue."
That was Ackerman's important question yesterday afternoon at the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on the Middle East and South Asia hearing on Iraq.  US House Rep Steve Chabot is the Chair of the Subcommittee, US House Rep Gary Ackerman is the Ranking Member.  The first panel was the State Dept's Brooke Darby.  The second panel was the Inspector General for the Office of the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction Stuart W. Bowen and SIGIR's Assistant Inspector General for Iraq Glenn D. Furbish.  Chabot had a few comments to make at the start of the hearing.  They often echoed comments made in the November 15th Senate Armed Services Committee hearing [see the November 15th "Iraq snapshot," the November 16th "Iraq snapshot" and the November 17th "Iraq snapshot" and other community reporting on the hearing included Ava's "Scott Brown questions Panetta and Dempsey (Ava)," Wally's "The costs (Wally)" and Kat's "Who wanted what?" ]. But while Senators Joe Lieberman, John McCain and Lindsey Graham made their comments during rounds of questions, Chabot made his as the start of the hearing in his opening remarks. 
Chair Steve Chabot: Unfortunately, these negotiations failed due to, in my opinion, mismanagement by this White House.  Amazingly, the White House is now trying to tout the breakdown and lack of agreement as a success in as much as it has met a promise President Obama made as a candidate. This blatant politicization calls into question the White House's effort to secure an extension.  Fulfilling a campaign promise at the expense of American national security  is at best strategic neglect and at worse downright irresponsible.  And the White House tacitly admits this in negotiating an extension in the first place. I fear, however, that our objective is no longer to ensure that Iraq is stable but merely to withdraw our forces by the end of this year in order to meet a political time line. Saying that Iraq is secure, stable and self-reliant -- as Deputy National Security Advisor Dennis McDonough  recently did -- does not make it so.  And to borrow a quote from then-Senator Hillary Clinton , It requires "the willing suspension of disbelief" to believe that withdrawing our forces from Iraq at a time when Iranian agents seek to harm at every turn our country and its allies advances our strategic interests.  Although I understand that Iraq is a sovereign country, I believe there is much more we could have done to secure a reasonable troop presence beyond the end of this year.
McCain was wrongly criticized for not grasping Iraq was a sovereign nation in some press accounts. Wrongly.  McCain grasped that fact and acknowledged it repeatedly in the hearing.  Chabot may have wanted all of that at the start of the hearing to ensure that he was not misunderstood.  In addition, Chabot noted the "reports of obstruction and noncooperation on the part of the Department of State during SIGIR's audit.  This is extremely distressing and, to echo the sentiments of several of my colleagues in the other body which they recently expressed in a letter to Secretary of State Clinton, the Department of State is legally obliged to cooperate fully with SIGIR in the execution of its mission; jurisdictional games are unacceptable." In his opening remarks, the Ranking Member weighed in on that topic as well.
Ranking Member Gary Ackerman:  He [Bowen] has testified before other bodies of Congress, he has released written quarterly reports, as well as specific audits and the message is the same: The program for which the Department of State officially took responsibility on October 1st is nearly a text book case of government procurement -- in this case, foreign assistance -- doesn't buy what we think we're paying for, what we want and why more money will only make the problem worse.  Failed procurement is not a problem unique to the State Department.  And when it comes to frittering away millions, Foggy Bottom is a rank amateur compared to the Department of Defense. As our colleagues on the Armed Services committees have learned, the best of projects with the most desirable of purposes can go horribly, horribly off-track; and the hardest thing it seems that any bureaucracy can do is pull the plug on a failed initiative.  How do we know the Police Development Program is going off-track?  Very simple things demonstrate a strong likelihood of waste and mismanagement.  Number one, does the government of Iraq -- whose personnel we intend to train -- support the program? Interviews with senior Iraqi officials by the Special Inspector General show utter disdain for the program. When the Iraqis suggest that we take our money and do things instead that are good for the United States, I think that might be a clue.
Ackerman went on to note how "the program's objectives remain a mushy bowl of vague platitudes" and how  it had "no comprehensive and detailed plan for execution, there is no current assessment of Iraqi police force capability and, perhaps most tellingly, there are no outcome-based metrics.  This is a flashing-red warning light."

Every thing Gary Ackerman said in that hearing remains true today.  It was true in 2008 and we could quote from multiple hearings we covered -- especially the Petraeus and Crocker hearings -- to back that up.  

Paul can't back up anything because he's an idiot who never does the work required.  ''You need someone to talk about combat rape?  Give me ten seconds to Google it and then I'll go on air!"

There's a reason that IAVA didn't lead on many issues and that reason is Paul.

I'm not going to pretend that Donald Trump's drawdown is a withdrawal -- any more than I pretended that Barack Obama's drawdown was a withdrawal -- but I'm also not going to pretend it's nothing.

If further action follows, we might finally see a withdrawal and that would be something to applaud.

The Iraqi people do not want foreign forces -- that includes US forces -- on their soil.  But in Paul's world, they don't matter because they're not American.  US forces have never had a clearly defined mission after the first few weeks of the war.  They have been tasked with objective that are not military objectives.  The military and the diplomatic side has never gotten along in Iraq.  That's most true when Gen Ray Odierno was the top military commander and Chris Hill was the napping ambassador but it's been true throughout.  (For those who forgot or didn't know, Chrissy Hill threw a temper tantrum at one point, insisting to the White House that Odierno was getting too much media attention and wanted them to order him to 'stand down' in terms of the press so that Chrissy could get some camera time.)  Iraqi forces don't want the US training.  That was obvious in 2007 -- and many US trainers told the press that.  It became more obvious when the US State Dept was supposed to take over the training and the Ministry of the Interior made clear that they didn't want training or help.

Paul's missed all of that.

He has nothing to offer but "boo Donald Trump!"  He's become a really pathetic individual.

Is the US going to stay in Iraq forever?  It's 18 years this March.  Are Americans ever going to get honest about why US forces are kept on Iraqi soil?  Oil?  Well sure.  But more to the point since the invasion, US troops are kept on Iraqi soil to prop up a government that doesn't represent the Iraqi people and never has.

Do you really think that in a country of nearly 40 million, the Iraqi people are never able to find a prime minister who wasn't a chicken?

Every choice that has been imposed on them -- by the US and Iran -- has been someone who fled the country under Saddam.

Would you want to have cowards rule you?

No, no one would.  But time and again, that's who gets imposed.  And we all play dumb in the US and pretend like we don't notice.  

When Mosul was taken by the Islamic State in 2014, the security forces collapsed for the same reason that they did when thug Nouri al-Maliki sent them into Basra in 2008.  You had mass desertion in 2008 because why give your life for a pay check?  That's all it was.  There is no national identity. (Current Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi is attempting to bring back a day to honor Iraq's national spirit -- but to do so on a day that is not the anniversary of the creation of the Ba'ath Party).

The government does not serve the Iraqi people (something many in the US should be able to relate to).  It rips off the national resources and let's the people suffer over and over.

US forces are needed to protect the Iraqi government (that is what prompted Barack to send many more in back in 2014 -- they were afraid the Green Zone would fall).  The Iraqi government is non-responsive to the needs of the people.  When the people demand their needs be met, the Iraqi government begins wounding and killing them.

There is no point in keeping US forces on the ground in Iraq.  Nothing has been accomplished in the 18 years and nothing is going to be accomplished with 18 more.  The Iraqi people are a young population but they can't be tricked.  At one point, Donald Rumsfeld was convinced that if the US just stayed in Iraq for six years, the Iraqis would be exhausted and embrace the rulers forced on them.  That has not happened and I don't see how it happens.  (Nor should it happen.  If you believe in self-rule, you don't pull stunts like that.)

Mina Aldroubi (THE NATIONAL) reports:

Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa Al Kadhimi has abolished sectarian considerations in deciding admissions to military colleges and hiring at state institutions.

The move is seen as an attempt by Mr Al Kadhimi to curb sectarian divides and unite the war-torn country.

“The Prime Minister has requested the cancellation of classification of students based on their sectarian affiliation, this will also apply to all state institutions,” the prime minister's office said on Wednesday.

That's one of Mustafa's efforts at building national unity.  I don't see it working in the short term.  There was a time when national unity could have been built.  That was 2010 when the Iraqi people went to the polls and made it clear that they wanted a national identity.  But since the US hadn't been involved in that and since they didn't care about democracy, Joe Biden and the rest overturned the votes of the Iraqi people.

Every time Joe opens his damn mouth with some suggestion that Donald won't accept the results in November, a functioning press would bring up how Joe led the US effort that overturned the votes of the Iraqi people and instead gave a thug a second term.  Nouri's second term is what gives birth to ISIS in Iraq.

Bryan Dyne and Andre Damon have an important article at WSWS.  It would require a snapshot of its own. Maybe we'll do something on it at THIRD.

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