Saturday, January 30, 2021

Joe Biden is not an improvement

Joe Biden earlier this month: Deliver the two Georgia elections to the Democrats and I'll give you the $2,000 stimulus.  

Joe Biden after both were elected: When I said $2,000, I was talking about 2,000 minus the $600 checks Donald Trump sent out a few weeks ago.

Joe Biden after he becomes president: We'll look at checks.

As Jimmy Dore points out, now we're being told there will be no stimulus checks until March.  We may not get them in March but we definitely won't get them in January or February.

Joe Biden is a f**king liar and he's a rapist.  And you have to be a whore or a cuck to be supporting him -- or a whoring cuck.

He's a liar and he made his career out of lying.

Now a bunch of assholes -- Krystal Ball, I'm looking you -- are trying to shame people who didn't want to vote for him?  As C.I. pointed out in the roundtable we did Friday night for Polly's Brew, that's what that Rising segment really was about.


I don't need to be diverted or channeled into supporting some personality or political party.  I need honesty and truth -- two thins in short supply in this country.

Joe Biden is not an improvement.  He's Donald Trump minus the fake tan.

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

 Friday, January 1 2021.  History is largely ignored by the press.

REUTERS notes, "Iraqi security forces have killed Abu Yaser al-Issawi, an Islamic State commander who had claimed to be the leader of the group in Iraq and its 'deputy caliph', Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi said on Thursday."  Said?  Well he Tweeted:

We promised and fulfilled. I gave my word to pursue [ISIS] terrorists, we gave them a thundering response. Our heroic armed forces have eliminated [ISIS] commander Abu Yaser Al-Issawi as part of an intelligence-led operation. Long live Iraq and its patriotic armed forces.

And while Tweeted is more accurate than "said,"  even more accurate would be "claimed."

How many times did we hear, for example, that Abu Ayyub al-Masri was killed -- starting as far back as 2006 and he wasn't killed until 2010.  And what of the other leader, Abu Omar al-Baghdadi?  How many times was the world told he was dead? Repeatedly in 2007, as I remember, and also true, the Iraqi government insisted they had arrested him in 2009 -- even produced photos claiming it was him.  It wasn't.  He would be killed in 2010 -- in the same attack that killed al-Masri, by the way.

More to the point, those two deaths didn't really matter.  David Rising (AP) reported on those two deaths:

The U.S. and Iraq claimed a major victory against al-Qaida on Monday, saying their forces killed the terror group's two top figures in this country in an air and ground assault on their safehouse near Saddam Hussein's hometown.

Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki announced the killings of Abu Omar al-Baghdadi and Abu Ayyub al-Masri at a news conference and showed photographs of their bloody corpses. U.S. military officials later confirmed the deaths, which Vice President Joe Biden called a "potentially devastating blow" to al-Qaida in Iraq.

[. . .]

But Biden, President Barack Obama's point person on Iraq, said the deaths of the al-Qaida leaders underscored their overall improvement.

"The Iraqis led this operation, and it was based on intelligence the Iraqi security forces themselves developed," said Biden, who came before reporters in the White House briefing room to draw added attention to the results.

Potentially devastating blow, Joe?

No.  No, four years later, they'd not only be stronger, they'd become one of the most infamous terrorist groups in the world when they seized control of the second largest city in Iraq, Mosul.  Now terrorist groups terrorize -- hence their name.  They don't attempt to rule.  Somehow, ISIS -- not at all weakened -- managed to do what none before them could and they occupied and controlled Mosul not for days, not for weeks, not for months, for years.

And something else let's not forget, a US service member was killed in that attack.  Private 1st Class Charlie Cabay Antonio.  He was 28 years old, his friends called him Bong, he was from Kahuhi, Hawaii.  He suffered.  His family and friends suffered.

But for all of Joe's blustering -- which never included mentioning Charlie Antonio by name -- ISIS wasn't ended or even really harmed.

As Matthew Frankel noted two months later that year (2010) at Brookings:

Much has been made of Monday’s announcement of the recent killing of the number three man in all of Al Qaeda. The consensus seems to be that Mustafa Abu al-Yazid’s death will be a significant blow in the war on terror, but it’s much more likely to have no effect at all. If the past seven years in Iraq is any indication, the removal of enemy leaders has little to no impact on the group’s ability to conduct attacks against us.

The recent killing of top two leaders of Al Qaeda in Iraq, Abu Ayub al-Masri and Abu Umar al-Baghdadi, is a perfect example. “The death of these terrorists is potentially the most significant blow to Al Qaeda in Iraq since the beginning of the insurgency,” said General Ray Odierno, commander of US forces in Iraq, after the operation, which took place late last month.

The good feeling lasted less than three weeks, however. A series of devastating jihadist-led coordinated attacks across Iraq, killing over 100 people, soon reduced Odierno’s comments to mere hyperbole. And the fact that Masri’s death didn’t mean the end of Al Qaeda in Iraq shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone who has followed Iraq closely since 2003. In the past, whenever officials have pronounced upon the significance of an enemy killing, it has always proven premature.

So why hasn’t the removal of insurgent and terrorist leadership yielded more successful outcomes in Iraq? My research of twenty different high-value targeting campaigns from Algeria to Chechnya to Japan suggests that such operations have the greatest chance of success when conducted by local forces against a centralized opponent in conjunction with larger counterinsurgency operations. Until recently, American targeting efforts in Iraq failed to meet any of these criteria.

One needs to go back in time only four years to understand this dynamic firsthand. In June 2006, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi was finally killed after a months-long manhunt. “Zarqawi’s death is a severe blow to Al Qaeda. It’s a victory in the global war on terror,” President Bush said at the time. But the “victory”—such as it was—proved to be short-lived. Weekly attacks against Coalition forces climbed from 950 in the week before Zarqawi’s death to 1400 just three months later. High-profile attacks nearly doubled over the next nine months, according to U.S. military data.

And our struggles with high-value targeting operations in Iraq have hardly been limited to Sunni jihadist groups. Overemphasis on targeting operations plagued our efforts in the early years of the war. In the months following the fall of Saddam Hussein’s regime, U.S. forces made finding the fugitive leader, his sons, and other holdouts from the infamous “deck of cards” their top priority, ignoring the fact that anti-occupation sentiment had spread to tribal and non-Baathist Sunni figures and spawned a broad decentralized insurgency.

Poorly-conceived and poorly-managed targeting efforts added fuel to the fire. Brazen midnight US military raids sometimes led to the capture of an insurgent, but often created a new generation of enemies as a result of rough tactics and lack of sensitivity towards local customs.

Furthermore, since the Sunni insurgency was decentralized, with local commanders holding large amounts of autonomy, the targeting campaign did little to stem the levels of violence. The eventual capture of Saddam, and the deaths of his sons, had no effect on the growing insurgency. Instead, it took a combination of persistent attacks by Shia militias and the rise of the Anbar Awakening to defeat the bulk of the Sunni insurgency.

History has shown that a military force that fights insurgents far from its home turf, like American soldiers have done in Iraq, will have a severe disadvantage because troops don’t understand the local cultural dynamics and networks. Despite our technological superiority, the United States often falls short in the area of local intelligence collection, leading to poor target selection and unnecessary collateral damage as we have seen in both Iraq and Afghanistan.

The press, yet again, plays dumb today and treats a claim as proof and treats the claim as significant.  There's no historical evidence to suggest that the death, if it took place, is in any way significant or that it will alter the trajectory of ISIS in any significant manner.

But don't let facts, reality or the examples from the past interrupt the nonsensical ravings, right?

And don't let the claim force you to note the executions in Iraq.  MEMO notes:

Executions are imminent in Iraq following the president's approval of the death sentences for hundreds of Sunni prisoners in response to the suicide bombings in the capital Baghdad last week, the Arab Organisation for Human Rights in the UK (AOHR UK) has warned.

The execution of 340 civilians arrested and detained under Article 4 of the country's Terrorism Law was approved two days after the bomb blasts, in which 32 were killed and for which [ISIS] claimed responsibility.

Three detainees were executed last Monday in the Nasiriyah Central Prison. According to AOHR UK, the condemned men came from the provinces of Nineveh, Anbar. Notably, all three were Sunni Muslims, raising concerns that their execution was based on sectarian grounds.

Mosul.  The city was destroyed by bombings carried out by ISIS, the US government and the Iraqi government.  That US and Iraq were 'liberating' the city.  All this time later, Mosul remains in ruins.  AFP reports on one section of the city:

Mosul's Old City still lies in ruins three years after intense fighting drove out Islamic State jihadists. Many Mosul residents long waited for compensation or rebuilding -- in vain, as Iraq remains mired in political and economic crisis, reported AFP. With rebuilding unlikely and Iraq's economy in tailspin, homeowners are desperate to sell. But many who lived through the horrors of IS rule there are now unable to find buyers for their properties in what still resembles a warzone.

A few days ago, THE NEW ARAB Tweeted:

"#Iraq's second largest city remains scarred by the war against the Islamic State. Although peace has returned, much of Mosul still lies in ruins" writes Sylvain Mercadier

Last month, Samya Kullab (AP) wrote:

The U.N. has estimated that over 8,000 Mosul homes were destroyed in intense airstrikes to root out IS. The nine-month operation left at least 9,000 dead, according to an AP investigation.

Memories of the group’s brutality still haunt locals, who remember a time when the city squares were used for the public beheading of those who dared violate the militants' rules.

The Old City on the west bank of the Tigris River, once the jewel of Mosul, remains in ruins even as newer parts of the city have seen a cautious recovery. The revival, the residents say, is mostly their own doing.

“I didn’t see a single dollar from the government,” said Ahmed Sarhan, who runs a family coffee business.

There are many problems with what Kullab wrote -- not reported, typed.  Including where did the reconstruction money go?  

Recently, the last seven or so months, the Iraqi government has claimed (lied) that they diverted it to COVID relief.  Again, that's a lie.  But if they had diverted it, it still wouldn't explain where all the money was prior to the COVID emerging on the world stage in February of last year.  Mosul should have been rebuilt long ago and it is an example of the ongoing corruption of the Iraqi government that continues year after year, regardless of which coward who fled Iraq is installed as prime minister.  

In 2020, AFP noted, "Iraq gathered $30 billion in pledges from international donors in Kuwait in 2018 to rebuild, but virtually none of the funds have been disbursed."  30 billion.  And yet no real rebuilding -- the rebuilding that has taken place has been done by the United Nations.

$30 billion.  Wasted.  A corrupt government that pockets the money -- over and over, we see this.

Turning to the US, David Sirota has a DAILY POSTER report that NEWSWEEK is part of:

On January 4, Joe Biden made an unequivocal pledge, telling voters that by electing Democrats to Georgia's senate seats, "you can make an immediate difference in your own lives, the lives of people all across this country because their election will put an end to the block in Washington on that $2,000 stimulus check, that money that will go out the door immediately to people who are in real trouble."

Less than four weeks later:

  • Biden is pushing $1,400 checks, rather than using his election mandate to demand new, full $2,000 checks.
  • Democrats are now suggesting that it could take at least until March to even pass the legislation, even as the economic crisis worsens.
  • Biden is now responding to threats of Republican obstructionism by floating the idea of reducing the number of people who would even get the checks. "He is open to negotiating the eligibility requirements of his proposed $1,400 COVID stimulus check, a nod to lawmakers who have said they should be more targeted," reported Reuters.
  • The signals of retreat are happening even as new polling data show that the original promise for a full $2,000 stimulus check is wildly popular.

Feel familiar? We've gotten into a flux-capacitor-powered DeLorean, flown back in time and dropped ourselves into 2009.

Back then, Barack Obama and Biden had gotten themselves elected in the middle of an economic crisis after promising to pass a public health insurance option. It was a promise as clear and explicit as the $2,000 checks promise is today—their platform was explicit in pledging that "any American will have the opportunity to enroll in the new public plan."

But then over the course of the year, as Republicans in the congressional minority kicked and screamed, the administration ever so gradually started backing down, rather than using the election mandate to try to shame the GOP into submission.

By the middle of the year, Obama said: "The public option, whether we have it or we don't have it, is not the entirety of health care reform." His Health and Human Services secretary said that it was "not the essential element" of health care reform.

By the winter, Obama lied, insisting "I didn't campaign on a public option."

And then by 2010, the Obama White House had killed the plan, and Senate Democrats refused to even bring it up for a floor vote when they had the chance. Soon after, voters delivered what Obama called a "shellacking" in the midterm election, effectively foreclosing on the possibility of transformative change during Obama's presidency.

At WSWS, Bill Van Auken notes that Joe's already warring with Iran:

Meanwhile, an Iranian government spokesman appealed directly to the Biden administration to lift sanctions that have restricted the country’s ability to import vaccines needed to combat the COVID-19 pandemic, which has hit Iran harder than any other country in the region, with 1.4 million reported cases and nearly 60,000 reported deaths.

“Since [Biden’s] administration claims not to be anti-science like the previous expects it to free the transfer of Iran’s own foreign exchange resources to fight the coronavirus and for health and food, and lift banking sanctions quickly,” government spokesman Ali Rabiei told state television.

With its appeal for “unity” with the Republican Party, the Biden administration has little stomach for a swift and sharp reversal of the “maximum pressure” campaign imposed by Trump. Leading right-wing congressional Democrats, including Senator Robert Menendez, the incoming chairman of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, have also opposed any letup of US aggression against Iran.

Biden has also pledged to “engage” with Israel before taking any steps to change the current “maximum pressure” regime against Iran, while Blinken has repeatedly stated that the new administration views Israel’s security as “sacrosanct.”

Tel Aviv has not only opposed any US return to the JCPOA but has threatened to militarily attack Iran and its nuclear facilities in response. This was expressed most directly by the new chief of staff of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), Lt. Gen. Aviv Kochavi, who gave a bellicose speech on Tuesday, declaring a return to the Iran nuclear deal an “intolerable threat” to Israel. He said that “anything that is similar to the current deal is a bad thing, and we cannot allow it,” adding that he had ordered the IDF to prepare new “operative plans” for attacking Iran.

The following sites updated:

Friday, January 29, 2021

Call Me Kat

I'm really enjoying Call Me Kat, Mayim Bialik's new sitcom.  Along with Mayim, the cast includes Swoosie Kurtz, Leslie Jordan, Kyla Pratt and especially Cheyenne Jackson.  It's a strong cast but I'm really glad to see Cheyenne.  

Remember Tracy Morgan's anti-homophobic remarks?

Which ones, right?  The first ones where everyone was shocked and appalled and Tina Fey felt the need to say that this isn't really Tracy.  Shut up, Saltine.

But what ended up happening on 30 ROCK?  Cheyenne's character disappears. 

If you don't know Cheyenne is an out gay man.  I don't think he was ever in the closet.  I felt Tina made a choice and it wasn't a choice a sane or caring person would make.

Anyway, he's great and the show's great.  If you haven't checked it out yet, you should.  Mayim is Cat, she has a cafe -- with cats! -- and it's a funny show.  

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

Thursday, January 28, 2021.  Joe Biden's fakery and futile efforts to 'awaken' him are among today's topics.

Starting in the US, Genevieve Leigh (WSWS) has a problem with David Sirota's recent article:

The article argues that the Biden administration is capable of making “a psychological shift” to the left, with enough pressure from below. Sirota pleads with youth and workers to not “lose hope” in the Democrats, despite their ever-further shift to the right.

Sirota begins his article by noting that just four weeks after Biden promised voters in Georgia $2,000 stimulus checks if they secured the Democratic Party control of the Senate, his administration is already walking back the deal in Congress. He also notes that the Democrats have indicated they are “open to negotiating” eligibility requirements for the stimulus checks and suggested that it could take at least until March to even pass the legislation.

Sirota makes no mention of the state of the pandemic, which continues to rage unabated throughout the country, or the January 6 insurrection at the Capitol, which Jacobin and the DSA have systematically downplayed and covered up over the last three weeks.

He goes on to recount the experience of 2009, the last time that the Democrats controlled all three branches of government: “You’ll recall that back then, Barack Obama and Biden got themselves elected in the middle of an economic crisis after promising to pass a public health insurance option.” By 2010, the Obama administration killed the plan, and as Sirota writes: “Senate Democrats refused to even bring it up for a floor vote when they had the chance.”

He continues: “The public option fight should be a harrowing cautionary tale for Biden. … [Biden] of all people should know that this story never ends well.” Sirota concludes by asking, “The question is: Can he and Democrats learn from the past?”

As they promote the fiction that the Democratic Party can be pushed to the left, one might be tempted to reply, “Can Sirota and Jacobin learn from the past?” However, in the case of both Sirota and Biden, it is not a question of insufficient mental capacity, however lacking they may be in this regard, but class interests.

I agree with Genevieve's point -- as did Trina -- but I do want to add one thing, this Tweet from David Sirota on January 25th:

We lost some subscribers after breaking this news. Clearly, theres a risk to independent news orgs that do not toe the party line. Please help us keep doing this reporting by becoming a supporting subscriber here. We need your help:

I am not an apologist for David Sirota -- couldn't be if I wanted to due to the past because the community wouldn't allow me to (David once announced he was going to sue us when we noted a failure to disclose on his part).  Nor am I trying to rescue him.

But I want to add that detail because I put up with six or so years of Danny Schechter whining in e-mails through Barack's first term and most of his second (Danny died in March 2015) about how awful a job Barack Obama was doing and how he couldn't say a word because he'd lose funding.  Over and over, he always had an excuse.  And he always had an excuse for me because we met several times on different campuses when I was speaking out against the Iraq War and he was promoting his documentary on how the media sold the Iraq War.  

When he was telling the world that Tina Turner had to -- had to -- forgive Ike Turner, Ava and I called him out.  Ike terrorized her and Danny thinks she has to forgive him?  He put her in the hospital multiple times.  Danny publicly wrote his remarks so we called him out and we called out another at the time that was minimizing the years of abuse that Tina suffered at the hands of Ike.  That began Danny's whines in e-mails.  

I already thought Danny was rather pathetic.  He'd done a documentary on the Iraq War and then rushed to ignore it and Iraq.  He'd always e-mail or, if we bumped into each other, face-to-face try to get me to promote something he'd written or produced.  And I found it hilarious as the years passed because he wouldn't do the same for us.  I never asked for this site to be noted there.  But from time to time, he did in the first year.  Then he stopped and that was fine except he would, for example, call out MoveOn.Org and type something like, "As some sites say, ' . . .' because they walked away from the Iraq War.''  Some sites?

He meant this site.

I do not like George Soros.  I think he has a blood on his hands because he made his fortune via speculation.  Blood money.  I do not approve of him, I do not like him.  Yet for years, Ava and I have had to put up with false rumors that we are funded by George Soros.  In 2007, we wrote "TV: Friendly faces aren't who we meet" for THIRD.  Danny decided to post it at MEDIA CHANNEL -- post in full -- and because Danny got Soros funds, we have been accused of getting Soros funds.  We didn't even know he'd reposted it.  Those things get reposted everywhere -- especially in the UK -- but I did tell Danny that he'd created a problem for us.  We didn't even get a byline credit, by the way.

Because I am too controversial per Danny.  That's why he'd refer to THE COMMON ILLS, quote it even, but not name it or link to it.  "Everybody knows what site I'm talking about," he'd insist.

What a coward.  

Every now and then, friends in publishing will try to talk me into writing a book about all this -- being online, telling my truths and what goes on behind the scenes when I do.  If I ever did, I would certainly quote at length from Danny's many embarrassing e-mails where he whines, for example, that he knows Barack didn't bring all the troops home but if he says that he won't get his funding.  I replied back that he could say "some sites" referring to us or he could quote Ted Koppel or cite Ted's reports for NBC and NPR.  No, no, no.  He'd say that ______ or ______ was already on his case and he'd lose everything if he told the truth about Barack.

So our 'news dissector' spent the last seven or so years of his life begging for money from people he was actively and knowingly lying to.  

David's very clear in his Tweet (and there are others like it) that he told the truth he could and suffered.  That's a world away from Danny Schechter.  

That's not to rescue him or to say Genevieve is wrong.

I agree with her, that tone is off putting -- and it's off putting to many of us who long ago learned that the Democratic Party refuses to be pushed.  Joe Biden is not going to be pushed.  You might be able to shame him -- shame is a very strong characteristic in Joe's make up -- but you're not to push him or cajole him into doing the right thing.

I don't know what the answer is.  I agree 100% with Genevieve that pimping that notion is off putting and, honestly, insulting to those of us who are 'woke' to this reality because we've seen it over and over.  That's why Tom Hayden was so damn useless.  He went from believing in things to being a whore.  Even when Barack Obama was insulting him by name in the primaries "Tom Hayden Democrats," Tom was still such a whore and such a weakling that he was out there telling people to vote for Barack.  He should have been telling them to vote for basically anyone else.  Bill because of his promise on the Iraq War, for example, or Mike Gravel because he'd actually made change happen before.  

There are a lot of people who have just known that they were going to change the party and they didn't.  That's why I laugh at AOC.  She refuses to harness the power that she does have.  She thinks she's going to outsmart or out maneuver Nancy Pelosi, get Nancy to do what she wants.  AOC is not smarter than John Conyers.  John, a Civil Rights lion, thought he could get Nancy to come around on impeachment of Bully Boy Bush.  But she wouldn't.  And she crippled him.  So, yeah, I laugh at glossy AOC and her stupidity as she keeps losing to Nancy and giving in without a real fight.  She doesn't know her history (she clearly doesn't know the Constitution).  Pretty girl, pretty girl.

This is from Ann Garrison's interview with Ajamu Baraka (BLACK AGENDA REPORT):

Ann Garrison: On January 20, we saw Joe Biden carry on about “unity” behind seven-foot fences topped with razor wire and 25,000 plus National Guard troops deployed . One friend of mine said that this pointed to an irony deficiency. Is there anything you'd like to say about it? 

Ajamu Baraka: Well, I think it is ironic, but it's quite understandable that the kinds of activities that the US has been involved in promoting and supporting globally—undermining democracies, subverting states, undermining and destroying any semblance of the rule of law—have basically come back to haunt them. You have a militant movement in the US partially inspired by the inability of the state and the system to address their material interests and to look at their concerns regarding their own understanding of democracy and its deficiencies. They feel like they lack space to articulate those views, and they’ve decided to engage in militant actions to make sure that their voices are heard, and they believe that they are upholding democracy.

And their experience with the state made them feel justified in advancing their concerns about democracy in violent forms. The state has demonstrated to them that the way you defend democracy is through state violence. So they were taking their defense into their own hands and bringing it right back to the center of empire. Some of us call that blowback. 

AG: For the past four years, liberals on the coasts have excoriated the white working class in the middle of the country, whom they perceive to be deplorable Trump supporters. Do you think that this is helpful? 

AB: No. Not only is it not helpful, it is inaccurate and it has helped to create the narrative that many of these forces have embraced; that is the centerpiece of their grievances. They believe that liberals and the liberal order have not addressed their needs, their interests. They believe that the economic elites are only out for themselves and that therefore they needed to rally behind Trump, a billionaire who claimed that he understood their interests and would fight for them because nobody else was.

So this characterization of them as deplorables, and as either Nazis or Nazi-like, is not only not helpful but also contradictory in the sense that those folks who level those charges still have not been able to explain why the Trump presidency happened.

For example, some nine million people who voted for Trump in 2016 had voted for Barack Obama in 2012. Liberals can't explain why, after four years of constant anti-Trump rhetoric, the Trump forces expanded their ranks by another 11 million voters. So this is something in play that's a little bit more sophisticated than these people just being deplorables or Nazis. And that something has to be interrogated. It has to be extracted. It has to be understood if you're going to have a politics to counter it. And right now the liberals have not understood where these elements are coming from because they have basically painted those 75 million people as a monolith of deplorables.

The neoliberals have constructed a politics that is going to result in a continuation of the same conditions, politically and economically, that created what they pretend to be most opposed to—the Trump movement. So this is the failure of imagination, the failure of critical analysis, the embracing of illusions that has characterized much of the politics in the US for a couple of decades now. And we see the consequences of that with us every day. 

AG: In the 48 hours after Biden became president, Israel bombed Syria, killing a family of four, a US convoy of trucks crossed into Syria to steal oil yet again, a double suicide bombing in Baghdad killed 32 people and Foreign Affairs, the journal of the US Council on Foreign Relations, published a piece with the headline “Th M yth of a  R esponsible  W ithdrawal from Afghanistan ,” which said, “the Biden administration should accept that there is no feasible middle way for a responsible withdrawal.” What do you think is next? 

AB: The continuation of policies that have resulted in the US being bogged down in Afghanistan for two decades, policies that will ensure that the wars that the US is involved in will continue. There will be a continuation of the commitment to US global full-spectrum dominance. In other words, violence is still at the center of the neoliberal project. And they intend to reintroduce that instrument under the Biden administration.

There were reports leading up to the election that Democratic Party-associated elements were secretly suggesting to the Afghan authorities that they would not have to worry about a peace process being executed once Joe Biden came to power. And they made the argument using some of the same terms and framework that we saw in that article in Foreign Affairs, that the US had a responsibility to remain in Afghanistan. And so they will fully prepare to undermine whatever progress was made for extracting US forces from that territory.


If you need audio of the interview, go to KPFA's page for the COVID, RACE AND DEMOCRACY program, it's the 1/11/21 episode that they broadcast on 1/18/21.

Staying with the topic of fraudster Joe Biden, yesterday we noted part one of Jonathan Burleigh's two-part series on Joe and climate for WSWS.  Here's a section from part two:

As Biden has assembled his new administration, he devoted Wednesday, January 27, to unveiling his plans to fight climate change, with former Secretary of State John Kerry as his “climate envoy” and former EPA Administrator Gena McCarthy as the top White House adviser on climate change.

The record of these two leaders of the Biden climate policy demonstrates both the insincerity of the new administration’s appeal to widespread popular concerns over global warming and the alignment of its policies with the worldwide interests of American imperialism.

McCarthy was head of the EPA during the worst pollution event in recent history, the systematic poisoning of the population of Flint, Michigan in the lead-in-water scandal that came to light in 2015. The federal EPA shared responsibility with state and local officials for covering up the profit-driven decisions that produced this catastrophe, leading to the deaths of dozens of people and the poisoning of tens of thousands, including many children who may suffer lifelong consequences.

That such an official is chosen for a top White House position, rather than publicly denounced and prosecuted, only demonstrates for the thousandth time that there is one law for the capitalists and their top servants, and another law for everyone else.

As for Kerry, the former senator, presidential candidate and secretary of state, he has so many crimes in the service of American imperialism on his dossier that it would take another article of this length just to list them all. Suffice it to say that he has supported all the American wars in the Middle East, including the 2003 invasion of Iraq, the US attack on Libya in 2011, and the ongoing interventions in Syria and Yemen, as well as the war in Afghanistan, now more than 20 years old.

His selection as climate envoy is a declaration by Biden that US efforts in relation to environmental issues will be driven, first and foremost, by the geopolitical needs of American imperialism, and particularly its predatory aims for the subjugation of China and Russia, which Washington regards as its two biggest military and security rivals.

Biden’s choice of Kerry has been widely hailed by liberal and pseudoleft commentators, who drummed up 2020 votes for the Democrats as a sign that the new President is serious about climate change. Kerry co-chaired the Biden-Sanders unity task force on climate together with Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a member of the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) faction of the Democratic Party. One result of this task force was the Biden climate plan, a highly watered-down version of the Green New Deal popularized by Ocasio-Cortez.

Moving over to Iraq . . . 

That's Minister of Agriculture Muhammad al-Khafaji insisting that Iraq's goal is to reach food security.   He gives lip service.  He doesn't seem very clear on the issue or on how bad it is in Iraq.  The United Nations'  Food and Agricultural Organization notes:

The protracted conflict and ongoing economic crisis in Iraq has left 3.2 million people food insecure, including those who depend on agriculture for their livelihoods. Violence continues to force people to abandon farms, causing the displacement of almost 3 million people and destroying or damaging harvests, equipment, supplies, livestock, seeds, crops and stored food. Water shortages and the lack or high cost of agricultural inputs continue to negatively affect the performance of the sector. Families report limited livelihood opportunities, which reduces their purchasing power and restricts their access to the public distribution system – an important social safety net that entitles Iraqis to receive rations of flour, rice and cooking oil from the government.

Last summer, the US Carnegie Endowment for International Peace noted:

As the Coronavirus pandemic batters Iraq, the Iraqi state is grappling to respond to the evolving outbreak. At the same time, the government is trying to fill a $40 billion deficit in the state budget arising from plummeting oil prices, which is estimated to have slashed the government revenues by half. With the pandemic and economic challenges taking top priority for the Iraqi government, Iraq is exposed to the prospect of food insecurity. Compounded by antiquated and competing state institutions underfunded and plagued by bureaucratic inefficiency and complexity, Iraq’s government needs rapid institutional and policy reform in addition to a reorganization of its safety net systems to respond to the risks of food insecurity.

Iraq struggles from chronic structural and emerging challenges that have hampered its food production over the years. Iraq’s population has been multiplying, from 23.5 million in 2000 to around 39 million Iraqis in 2019. This amounts to a 66 percent increase in population in 20 years. Food supply, both locally produced and imported, has been struggling to catch up with the population growth. Moreover, Iraq’s political turmoil and instability, the cyclical conflict and wars, and the corruption and mismanagement of state resources exacerbate this problem. Food supply increased from 13.8 million tons in 2000 to an estimated 20 million tons in 2019, a 44 percent increase in the same period.

Concurrently, Iraq’s urban population almost doubled over those two decades, largely due to migration from rural areas in search of employment. Climate change has negatively impacted agricultural communities. In particular, reduced the water supply from Tigris and Euphrates Rivers and the salinization of water tables has caused mounting desertification. Compounding these issues is the economic collapse—which began with UN sanctions and worsened during the collapse of state institutions following the U.S. invasion of 2003—and subsequent conflict and wars.  The economic and political toll of rounds of conflict—starting with Gulf War and continuing with the Islamic State’s rampage in Iraq’s food basket governorates—and the waves of human displacement have all wreaked havoc on Iraq’s food system in terms of local production and in its ability to procure food. The pandemic has only added more stress to the fragile food system, disrupting food supply chains, increasing food costs, and decreasing Iraqi household purchasing power as more Iraqis slide into poverty.

Today, the institutions at the core of Iraq’s food system remain persistently misunderstood and neglected, given the continuous degradation of the Iraqi state. Policy and institutional reform – specifically governing the agriculture and food sector – have taken a backseat as successive Iraqi governments and the international community have prioritized food and agricultural aid in response to the country’s crises and challenges.  However, Iraq will likely struggle to mitigate the effects of current crises on food security unless it reforms the complex web of institutions governing food production and supply, empowers and consolidates state organizations, and reforms the institutional environment of food production.

The Iraqi government's decision to devalue the dinar will likely increase the number at risk of food insecurity.  

Meanwhile Pope Francis has gotten his COVID shots and is preparing to visit Iraq in March.  ALJAZEERA reports:

Pope Francis will meet top Shia religious leader Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani during the first-ever papal visit to Iraq in March, a senior Catholic cleric told the AFP news agency on Thursday.

Louis Sako, the patriarch of Iraq’s Chaldean Catholic Church, said it would be a “private visit” between the two religious figures “without formalities”.

If the Pope is able to visit, he will be the first pope to visit Iraq.

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