Okay, my grandfather delayed the snapshot today. Seriously. C.I. and the gang (Ava, Kat and Wally) had just gotten to my folks and C.I. was speaking to the Iraq Study Group we do on Fridays and my grandfather had a question. He was talking about something he saw at The Progressive. (He doesn't normally go but C.I. included Matthew Rothschild's critique in Wednesday's snapshot and so my grandfather decided to give it a try.) He's talking about Tony Blair and how he's donating his royalties from his new book to a charity for British soldiers wounded in the Iraq War and asking about that when C.I. stops him and says, "Wait a minute, do you believe that a lot of money is going to be going to charity?" C.I. then looks around because my grandfather does and so do other people present who have heard about the donations.
So she says, "Okay, okay, just give me one second" as she's dialing on her cell phone. "Hold the snapshot," she says. Then she explains to us about the realities of the 'royalities.' Tony Blair got a huge amount of money to write the book, an advance. The book has to make back that amount (it most likely won't) before any royalties will ever be seen.
Tony hasn't given the charity the advance and has no plans to. So he's made an empty offer that's gotten him some good press when it shouldn't have. After C.I. walked us through that, she disappeared to add that onto the snapshot before it went up.
So basically my grandfather got to scream, "Stop the presses!" :D
The Iraq War hasn't ended. The Toronto Star offers a roundup of some of the critical commentaries on Barack's speech:
JILL LAWRENCE, PoliticsDaily.com: “I get it. On his list of campaign promises, the president wants to check the box next to ‘responsibly get us out of Iraq' and quickly move on. But for me, that's not enough. I want to hear about first principles from him — principles that determine when we go to war. I want to hear about fact-based decision-making — why we go to war. I want to hear about smart planning and contingency planning and choosing competent people to lead us into, and out of, potential quagmires ... I want to know I can once again trust my government.”
Did you catch Sherwood Ross' "Obama and His Family Tied To CIA For Years, Investigative Reporter Says" (Bohdi Thunder):
President Obama---as well as his mother, father, step-father and grandmother---all were connected to the Central Intelligence Agency---possibly explaining why the President praises the “Agency”and declines to prosecute its officials for their crimes, an investigative reporter says.
According to a published report in the September “Rock Creek Free Press” of Washington, D.C., investigative reporter Wayne Madsen says Obama's mother Ann Dunham worked “on behalf of a number of CIA front operations, including the East-West Center at the University of Hawaii, the U.S. Agency for International Development(USAID), and the Ford Foundation.” The East-West Center had long been affiliated with CIA activities in the Asia-Pacific region, Madsen says.
What's more, Obama's father, Barack Obama Sr., arrived in Hawaii from Kenya as part of a CIA program to identify and train Africans who would be useful to the Agency in its Cold War operations against the Soviets, Madsen says. Obama Sr. divorced Ms. Dunham in 1964.
Ms. Dunham married Lolo Soetoro the following year, a man Madsen says assisted in the violent CIA coup against Indonesian President Sukarno that claimed a million lives. Obama's mother taught English for USAID, “which was a major cover for CIA activities in Indonesia and throughout Southeast Asia,” Madsen reports. That USAID was a cover for CIA covert operations in Laos was admitted by its administrator Dr. John Hannah on Metromedia News. Madsen says the organization was also a cover for the CIA in Indonesia.
Ms. Dunham worked in Indonesia at a time when Midwest Universities Consortium for International Activities(MUCIA)---a group that included the University of Illinois, Wisconsin, Michigan State, Minnesota and Indiana--- was accused of being a front for CIA activities in Indonesia and elsewhere. Ms. Dunham traveled to Ghana, Nepal, Bangladesh, India and Thailand “working on micro-financing projects” for the CIA, Madsen reports.
That's a really important column so read the whole thing. And have a great Labor Day weekend. Here's C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"
Friday September 3, 2010. Chaos and violence continue, Tony Blair lies to the world about donating 'royalties' (that will most likely not exist) to wounded British soldiers, AP takes a stand for the facts, the political stalemate continues, Iraqis weigh in on Tuesday's speech by Barack Obama, and more.
Today Poynter publishes an internal AP memo written by Tom Kent, the AP's Deputy Managing Editor for Standards and Production,
Whatever the subject, we should be correct and consistent in our description of what the situation in Iraq is. This guidance summarizes the situation and suggests wording to use and avoid.
To begin with, combat in Iraq is not over, and we should not uncritically repeat suggestions that it is, even if they come from senior officials. The situation on the ground in Iraq is no different today than it has been for some months. Iraqi security forces are still fighting Sunni and al-Qaida insurgents. Many Iraqis remain very concerned for their country's future despite a dramatic improvement in security, the economy and living conditions in many areas.
As for U.S. involvement, it also goes too far to say that the U.S. part in the conflict in Iraq is over. President Obama said Monday night that "the American combat mission in Iraq has ended. Operation Iraqi Freedom is over, and the Iraqi people now have lead responsibility for the security of their country."
However, 50,000 American troops remain in country. Our own reporting on the ground confirms that some of these troops, especially some 4,500 special operations forces, continue to be directly engaged in military operations. These troops are accompanying Iraqi soldiers into battle with militant groups and may well fire and be fired on.
In addition, although administration spokesmen say we are now at the tail end of American involvement and all troops will be gone by the end of 2011, there is no guarantee that this will be the case.
Our stories about Iraq should make clear that U.S. troops remain involved in combat operations alongside Iraqi forces, although U.S. officials say the American combat mission has formally ended. We can also say the United States has ended its major combat role in Iraq, or that it has transferred military authority to Iraqi forces. We can add that beyond U.S. boots on the ground, Iraq is expected to need U.S. air power and other military support for years to control its own air space and to deter possible attack from abroad.
Unless there is balancing language, our content should not refer to the end of combat in Iraq, or the end of U.S. military involvement. Nor should it say flat-out (since we can't predict the future) that the United States is at the end of its military role.
We're opening with that because it is news and it is important. To be clear, not every journalist has jumped on the Iraq War over ball. For every idiot on MSNBC or John Nichols, there have been cautious voices who have refused to play along. Diane Rehm has repeatedly noted that 50,000 troops and the claim of an end make no sense, Michael R. Gordon has offered perspective as well, as has Steve Inskeep, Matthew Rothschild, Chris Floyd, Sonali Kolhatkar, Jane Arraf, Margaret Warner, Scott Horton, Jason Ditz, and Kelley B. Vlahos among others. But they have been the exception. (Scott Horton is the journalist, not the attorney. To be clear on which one, he gets a link.) More commonly, American news consumers have been repeatedly greeted with blind repetition of White House spin and, especially for so-called 'independent' media (Katrina, we're especially talking about The Nation, the magazine you've ruined), a desire not to contradict Blessed Barack.
We wanted an independent media -- in terms of the advertising-backed as well as the donation dependant -- when the build up to the Iraq War was beginning. We attacked and bemoaned corporate media but where has Panhandle Media been the last two years? They've had no independence. Let's not kid that you can be part of Journolist and be independent. Let's not kid that you can be exposed as a part of Journolist -- as the bulk of The Nation writers were -- and get away without issuing a public statement of apology to your readers. It doesn't matter that you're an "opinion writer" -- in fact that's even worse because people reading Katha Pollitt, Chris Hayes, Eric Alterman, Richard Kim and the other Nation writers who were on Journolist thought they were reading independent thinkers, unaware that they joined with other like-minded writers to determine what to cover (Chris Hayes and Spencer Ackerman issued the edict not to cover Jeremiah Wright -- even to object to him -- because it could hurt Barack). Whores. That's who staffs independent media and that's only demonstrated all the more when they refuse to apologize for their backroom dealings, their hidden agreements and instead carp about Tucker Carlson and the outlet (Daily Journal) which exposed them.
The other reason is that Tom Kent notes that the media can't "predict" the future. We've noted that here for nearly two years as outlets have repeatedly insisted that the SOFA means the Iraq War ends at the end of 2011 when it doesn't mean that at all. Tom Kent and AP deserve serious applause for doing what we say we want to see: An independent media that questions, an independent media which doesn't just repeat the spin of government officials.
Today on the second hour of The Diane Rehm Show (NPR), Diane spoke about Iraq with Youchi Dreazen (National Journal), Adberrahim Foukara (Al Jazeera) and Kevin Whitelaw (Congressional Quarterly).
Diane Rehm: Let's talk about the president's comments on the US combat mission in Iraq officially over. Kevin, what does that mean for the role of the remaining 50,000?
Kevin Whitelaw: Well that's right. The-the combat phase of the war is over according to-to the Pentagon and according to President Obama. That doesn't mean that US troops will not engage in any combat anymore. We still have a-a sizeable portion, ten, fifteen percent of the force, that really is part of a Special Forces component that is stationed in Iraq. Still, remember, 50,000 troops. So you take about ten, fifteen percent of that. These are troops that will still go out on missions here and there to captue and kill --
Diane Rehm: With Iraqis?
Kevin Whitelaw: In most cases. We don't know for sure, keep in mind, whether or not there might still be some unilateral missions but in most cases that's correct, they'll go out with Iraqis to-to do certain targeted missions and they'll also -- in the various training mission, the larger training mission -- there will be US troops that accompany Iraqis on various missions and you can expect that if they find themselves under fire they will certainly defend themselves. So there is still combat capability with this force that is in place. Having said that, what it does mean is that the Iraqis are-are, you know, in the front lines, they're the ones that are expected to do-to do the bulk of the security work and to make the bulk of the security decisions about where to target, where to go, how to defend and how to proceed.
Diane Rehm: What about NATO forces still in Iraq, Abderrahim?
Abderrahim Foukara: Well, I mean, if I may comment on the - the broader issue first of all?
Diane Rehm: Sure.
Adberrahim Foukara: It all harks back to democracy obvivously. In a democracy, when you make a pledge, you have to live up to it. President Obama made the pledge that, you know, he would get the US forces out of Iraq and obviously now that we uh-uh-uh closing up to-to the November election, he has to be seen as living up to his word. Now leaving -- withdrawing 50,000 combat troops and leaving several thousands more in Iraq at this time when there isn't even a government in place in Iraq, when despite all pronouncements to the contrary, security forces -- the Iraqi security forces are still not up to snuff, it is -- It may be a little controversial calling this phase, combat phase, over because, it seems to me that, US forces will remain in Iraq, will continue to be combat forces, in one kind or another, in one situation or another. So I hark back to my opening statement in this show which is that in the same way that it is managing the crisis situation between the Israelis and the Palestinians, Iraq will remain a crisis and the United States will keep on managing that crisis for a long time to come.
Diane Rehm: Youchi.
Youchi Dreazen: You know the war in Iraq has been a war of semantics from the very beginning. "The Coalition of the Willing" which didn't exist. I mean, there was a coalition of the US and a small number of allies, in some cases absurdly small. The one Icelandic female soldier who I met who was, excuse me, who was Iceland's entire military contingent in Iraq. You had five Dutch. You had a Costa Rican bomb dismanteling team who didn't want to leave any of its bases so, if the bomb was brought to them, they would dismantle it but otherwise they wouldn't go. So you had the "Coalition of the Willing" which of course didn't exist, you had "Shock and Awe" which neither "shocked" nor "awed." Now you have this transition from combat mission over to advise-and-assist mission beginning and the previous points were exactly right. You have 50,000 troops which is a considerable number. They are still having the same equipment they had before. They still have the same armored vehicles. They will still be out on patrol. It's a semantic difference but that's been the case with Iraq from the very beginning. The key difference to my mind is there's no government. The second key difference from what the president said, the president's speech sounded very much like "We are out the door." The feeling within the Pentagon is that this will be renegotiated and that, by the end of next year, there will still be troops there.
Diane Rehm: David Ignatius wrote in the Washington Post yesterday that, "One of the mysteries of U.S. policy is why Washington keeps pushing a formula that will allow Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki to keep his job (or another top post) at a time when he is rejected by nearly all Iraqi political parties. America's silent ally in this peculiar gambit is Iran. After so much pain, Iraqis deserve better." Youchi?
Youchi Dreazen: There is a very short and simple answer to the first part of the question. It's that American officials have come to like Nouri al-Maliki and to trust him which is remarkable if you remember a memo leaked out a few years ago, which had been written by Stephen Hadley who was then the National Security Advisor for the Bush administration, raising questions about Maliki and making clear that, if you read the memo carefully enough, that he was under some sort of American surveillance because they didn't trust him. Now they do. And the reason why there willing to keep him in power -- even as a caretaker, let alone post as a caretaker -- is that there's a feeling that he's a person you can do business with, a person you can trust and who has some measure of control with the security forces.
Diane Rehm: But how much trust is there, Kevin, that they can finally get a government put together?
Kevin Whitelaw: You know, we've been down this road. Every time there has been one of these elections, there's been a lengthy transition. This one's been even longer than the other ones but all the other ones did result in a government that was able to exercise some amount of control. At this point, it has dragged out even more, it's a sign of how little trust still exists between the parties over there and I think you also have a sense of while, while, there's a lot of Iraqis who are not big fans of Prime Minister Maliki, he's still something of a known entity to them whereas any new member -- any new potential leader , particularly from a different party will be a gamble, a roll of the dice. And so you have a real difficult question there for these Iraqi politicians to decide: Do you go with -- Which guy do you go with? The devil you know? The devil you once knew, which is a former prime minister Ayad Allawi, whose party, whose coalition did well in the election? Or do you bring in yet again somebody else? And then, obviously, all of the political jockeying below that level. It's-it's --
Diane Rehm: And considering all of that, how realistic is it that the US will pull out at the end of 2011?
Adberrahim Foukara: I think militarily they will. My sense is the President Obama will be able to live up to his pledge to get all or most of the military out of - out of Iraq and by the end of 2011. Now what will that remain for the role of the United States in Iraq? I think the role of Iraq in the United States will, in different ways, continue to be very strong, for different reasons. One of them is obviously the fear although [US Vice President] Joe Biden actually trashed it but the fear that the Iranians are playing an increasing role and therefore for the United States to handover, if you will, Iraq to the Iranians or to anybody else, for that matter, in the region, it's not going to happen. Having said that, there's nothing that the United States, I think, they current state of play being what it is in Iraq, there's nothing that the United States can do in Iraq to actually increase its influence beyond what the -- beyond the influence that's actually attributed to-to the Iranians. You have to remember that the United States, the Americans have built a huge embassy, it's probably one of the largest embassies in the world in terms of its physical size and in terms of its staffing and that gives you an indication as to the transformation of the role of the United States in Iraq post-2011. But there's no doubt that the United States has lost influence in Iraq.
Diane Rehm: There is also transformation of opinion about the United States as a result of the war in Iraq. Youchi?
Youchi Dreazen: Well that was something that President Obama tried to address in his speech earlier this week. You know the multiple facets of that, obviously, the war began in tremendous, tremendous controversy which has never really gone away. It was a measure of original sin in many ways. It was seen as illegitimate, it was seen as under false pretenses. In Iraq, you've seen opinion on the United States really vary, almost like on a sign [sound?]wave. There was the initial, what Gen [David] Petraeus referred to as "the man on the moon" feeling of "Hey, US, you put a man on the moon. Why can't you restore our electricity? Why can't you restore our water or our sewage?" Then during the civil war, there was the feeling of the US is at least less of an evil than the Shi'ite death squads or the Sunni death squads. Now again, there's a feeling of -- my Iraqi staff are e-mailing from Iraqi daily, my fromer Iraqi staff when I was at the Wall St. Journal, there's still no power, it's a 125 [degrees] and they have three hours of electricity a day. So there's again the feeling of, 'We know you spent all this money, we know that it enriched a lot of corrupt officials, but why can't you fix these very, very basic issues?' One point on the speech that I thought was very interesting, if you think back to how politicized this war has been from the start -- Did Bush lie? Did Bush tell the truth? Was Saddam containable? Etc. I thought it was remarkable that, on the end, in the speech, that basically was our "We're departing" -- President Obama couched the cost of the war primarily as an economic issue. I mean, in his reasoning for why it's good we're getting out, he paid tribute to the troops, he paid tribute to the sacrifice and then said, 'We need to spend that money here at home.' And I just found it very interesting that a war that began with so much high level debate about honesty and lying and torture and deception and all these grand issues, in the end, comes down to 'we can't afford it.'
The conversation continued. We'll stop there. If Adberrahim Foukara crotch nuzzling of Barack got on your nerves, Marcia's addressing that tonight at her site. Again, FYI, Diane has a new book that was just released today Life With Maxie -- Maxie is her chichuahua and the book's being called a must for dog and pet lovers.
Before we go to any other topics, let's go to some Iraqi voices. Thursday Leila Fadel (Washington Post) offered the views of some Iraqis:
Outside the heavily fortified Green Zone, where many of Biden's meetings took place, Iraqis expressed fear and frustration.
"We wanted change, and nothing's changed," said Mohammed Imad, 21, leaning against a wall covered with old election posters.
[. . .]
"Whose celebration is this?" said Ibrahim Abdul Wahab, 57, a resident of Haifa Street in downtown Baghdad, where Sunni insurgents were in control more than two years ago. "It's his, not Iraq's. Where are the promises of the planned democracy?"
Stephen Farrell and the New York Times' Iraqi correspondents provided the opinions of 26 Iraqis at the paper's At War Blog and we'll note five (in addition to text, the link also includes video):
Yahiya Haji: I did not hear the speech and do not care about it. It is all a lie. The American troops will stay in Iraq without a withdrawal, and who knows whether 50,000 or 1,000 soldiers will remain. No one can tell, not a security agreement or the prime minister. They will keep a force ready in case there are any security problems."
Qasim Daoud, 44, Engineer: "Why should I listen to him? What will he say? All the words are known and have been said before. This is all a lie, the talk about withdrawal. Yesterday, there was a U.S. patrol in my neighborhood. Withdrawing, and leaving 50,000 soldiers?"
Muhammed al-Shaliji, 43: " I did not hear the speech and I am not interested in what he said."
Ayad Muhammed, 52, Unemployed: "I did not hear the speech because I do not think that the U.S. will ever leave us alone."
Omar Walid, 40, Unemployed: "Half the speech was a lie, because they will not leave Iraq. If they were going to leave us why did they build 93 military bases. As for what he said -- that they will stick with the security agreement and be responsible for Iraq' borders -- say to him, 'here were you when the Iranian forces attacked Iraq? Where were you when the Iranians took over Faka oil field? Where were you when the Turkish forces attacked us?'"
McClatchy Newspapers' Iraqi correspondents offer the views of some Iraqis. Army Officer Qaswar Abu Tariq states: "People have a right to be afraid. It (what the US has done in Iraq) is not a job well done. No one in his right mind, only perhaps a politician would like to see occupation forces extend their presence. But look around you – what do you see? The country's borders are open on all sides, open for any who wish to enter and do their will inside Iraq, whether Iran, Syria or any other of the neighbouring countries. Was the decision to withdraw come at a time when they (US) left a force able to secure our borders? No. There is no such thing - whatever the politicians say.. Believe me, if we were able to secure our borders the terrorist attacks would fall to one half – at least. So they (US) failed to provide Iraq with secure borders. And how sovereign can a country be if it needs the air-force of the U.S to protect it's air-space? In seven years, why have no steps been taken to revive our air-force? " 70-year-old, retired school teacher and grandmother of seven, Widad Hameed is interviewed:
(Will violence escalate when the USF pull out??) (Long pause..) "I am torn between two considerations answering this question. Firstly -- I am strongly opposed to the presence of foreign troops on Iraqi sovereign soil -- and therefore hope to see them leave as quickly as possible -- This is on principle. But on the other hand, I am afraid of what might happen after they leave. I have no great faith in the abilities of the ISF and feel that the chaos in our political situation will be reflected upon the security scene as the politicians slug it out and violence will rise and the people will pay. As for the Americans -- The chaos we are witnessing is a result of their failed plans, and I don't think there is anything they could do at this late date to make a difference. Had they wanted to achieve better results, they should have been more serious about training and arming the ISF -- commanders and ranks alike – Seven years should have been long enough".
(Should the USF interfere if violence rose to unbearable levels?) "Though I hate to say it -- But, yes, they should interfere. They have a moral duty to the citizens of Iraq. It was because of their intervention (the occupation) that security has disappeared from our lives. The chaos now present in Iraq is their doing – and they must protect us from the dangers that they brought with them when they invaded Iraq. They must protect us from al Qaida, the militias and the political violence. It is their moral duty.
Leila Fadel (Washington Post) continued to report on Iraqis reactions today and noted the Kurds:
"They decided to finish it, but they know it's not over," Othman said Thursday. "War with terrorism is here, and Iranian intervention is here. They are lying to tell their people that they left behind a government that is capable and Iraqi security forces that are capable. . . . There is no government, the people don't have confidence in the Iraqi security forces, and Iraqi suffering is increasing."
Many people here say that they did not expect Obama's declaration to sound so final or that Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates would acknowledge that the war is over, albeit "clouded" by its start in a U.S.-led invasion based on a false premise.
"I'm disappointed by this new administration," Othman said. "They want to run away from Iraq."
He also criticized Vice President Biden's trip to Baghdad this week to mark the end of the U.S. combat mission, questioning why Biden did not hold a news conference while he was here. "This is America - it's supposed to be transparent," he said.
Arab News also reports on Iraq reactions: "Biden called on Iraqi leaders to speed up the process of forming a government. 'They said they have withdrawn, but they are still controlling us. They are the ones who make the decisions in Iraq,' Um Ahmed, a 42-year-old housewife, said."
The political stalemate was noted by Diane and her guests. March 7th, Iraq concluded Parliamentary elections. The Guardian's editorial board notes, "These elections were hailed prematurely by Mr Obama as a success, but everything that has happened since has surely doused that optimism in a cold shower of reality." 163 seats are needed to form the executive government (prime minister and council of ministers). When no single slate wins 163 seats (or possibly higher -- 163 is the number today but the Parliament added seats this election and, in four more years, they may add more which could increase the number of seats needed to form the executive government), power-sharing coalitions must be formed with other slates, parties and/or individual candidates. (Eight Parliament seats were awarded, for example, to minority candidates who represent various religious minorities in Iraq.) Ayad Allawi is the head of Iraqiya which won 91 seats in the Parliament making it the biggest seat holder. Second place went to State Of Law which Nouri al-Maliki, the current prime minister, heads. They won 89 seats. Nouri made a big show of lodging complaints and issuing allegations to distract and delay the certification of the initial results while he formed a power-sharing coalition with third place winner Iraqi National Alliance -- this coalition still does not give them 163 seats. They are claiming they have the right to form the government. In 2005, Iraq took four months and seven days to pick a prime minister. It's now 5 months and 27 days. Phil Sands (National Newspaper) notes that if the stalemate continues through September 8th, it will then be a half a year since Iraqis voted.
Today Qassim Abdul-Zahra (AP) reports that Adel Abdul-Mahdi's name has been officially tossed into the ring by the Iraqi National Alliance. He is currently Iraq's Shi'ite vice president and the INA has long pushed him for the post. ICG's Joost Hiltermann tells AP, "This is all really an attempt by INA to put pressure on State of Law to throw al-Maliki under the bus. That will only happen when State of Law has no other choice."
Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Baghdad roadside bombing which targeted security forces (Iraqi police and Sahwa) and injured four bystanders, 2 Sahwa and 1 police officer, 1 corpse (Christian male) discovered in Mosul, a Mosul roadside bombing which claimed 1 life and left another person wounded and, dropping back to Thursday night, a Baghdad sticky bombing targeting police Lt Col Mohammed Riyadh which left him injured and claimed the life of his brother and a Baghdad roadside bombing which wounded three Iraqi sodliers.
Back to Barack's speech last Tuesday, Matthew Rothschild offers his audio Progressive Point of View:
I'm Matt Rotschild the editor of The Progressive magazine with my Progressive Point of View which you can also grab at our website at Progressive.org. Yeah, I watched Obama's speech on Iraq and I can't say I was bold over or blown away. First of all, to refer to the US invasion and occupation as "this remarkable chapter in the history of the United States and Iraq," as Obama did, is to really cake on the make up. And was it "a war to disarm a state," as he asserted, or was it instead a war to secure oil, or a war to project US power, or a war not of necessity and not of choice but of therapy for George Bush to overcome his little Oedipal complex? By the way, I could have lived without Obama's saluting of his hapless and criminal predecessor, couldn't you? And I know every president, every politician and now, it seems, every citizen must bow down to all the soldiers who serve in our military, but was it accurate of Obama to say that "at every turn, America's men and women in uniform have served with courage and resolve"? I'm sure the vast majority did but what about those who followed Rumsfeld's brutal interrogation orders? What about Abu Ghraib? What about the two dozens or more Iraqis our soldiers murdered in detention? I'm glad Obama is ending combat operation sin Iraq and getting most of our troops out of there. But he didn't need to rewrite history in the process. I'm Matt Rothschild and that's how I see it.
You can read Matthew's commentary in text form here. He leaves out one aspect in terms of crimes -- there are many, he had to select which to note -- that we are going to tackle at Third so I'll bite my tongue. The only War Crimes resulting in any real convictions. And if you're a TCI community member, you're already saying the name and know what I'm referring to.
Barack is the Ghost of Illegal War Present and Future. Bush is the Ghost of Illegal War Past. He's far from the only illegal war past ghost popping up.
In an effort to rehabilitate himself and land a big advance for his next book, one-time British prime minister Tony Blair's promoting his latest book Go Down Tones: Confessions Of A War Hawk. And as he attempts to make like the giddiest Gabor but comes off more like a dazed and disoriented Dame Edith, Blair described to Steve Inskeep (Morning Edition, NPR) yesterday a chapter of his book which must be entitled: "At Least She Died In A 'Democracy'."
Tony Blair: Yes. This is someone who came to see me before the Iraqi conflict. And I remember sitting in Downing Street, up in the drawing room in Downing Street, and her explaining to me how her family had been tortured and killed by Saddam and how the country was crying out for release from Saddam. And then, after May 2003, when Saddam was toppled, she went back to Iraq, and then a few months later sectarians killed her.
If you think/hope this led Blair to examine his War Hawk motives and actions, you don't know Tony Blair. Instead, he obsesses over what she might say now ("What would she say now?" he repeatedly asks like a Dane in a Shakespeare play) and wondering what a dead person might say is probably a great deal easier on the mind than taking accoutability for the death you caused. He's also obsessed with comparisons to Communism and the USSR (read or listen to the interview, you'll see it) so apparently the dead woman's a variation, in Tony's mind, of "Better dead than Red." Regrets, he has a few. But the illegal invasion isn't among them. Robert Marquand (Christian Science Monitor) explains Blair would gladly do the illegal war again; however, he would consider giving Gordon Brown the axe. (Gordon Brown is not pleased.) Not everyone is taking Blair's multitude of claims at face value. Alexander Chancellor (Guardian) observes:
Tony Blair says in his memoir that the bloody chaos that followed the invasion of Iraq in 2003 came as a complete surprise to him. "I can say that never did I guess the nightmare that unfolded," he writes. "The truth is we did not anticipate the role of al-Qaida." Odd that, when all and sundry were warning him about it, including former president of France Jacques Chirac and Eliza Manningham-Buller, former head of MI5, who only a few weeks ago testified to that effect to the Chilcot inquiry. She said she had warned the government that an invasion would increase the terrorist threat to Britain and pave the way for an al-Qaida jihad in Iraq. That Blair should have imagined that all would go smoothly after the overthrow of Saddam Hussein suggests both a remarkable lack of foresight and a stubborn resistance to any unwelcome advice.
While some offer reality, the Miss Hathaway to Tony's Milburn Drysdale, John Rentoul attempts yet again to rewrite history and deny that Tony is a War Hawk. John's not just a spinner, he's demented. Back in October 2009, it wasn't that he was wrong (it was already over for Labour -- as their own polling demonstrated, Gordon Brown needed to step down by Labor Day 2009), it was that he spun the polls intentionally. He intentionally deceived the public. And who benefited? No one. Those who bothered to believe John Rentoul never saw the Liberal-Democrat and Conservative wins coming. But it was all there in the polling, John just ignored it to continue to serve Tony. Robert Fisk (Independent of London) isn't falling for it or spit-shining Tony's knob:
Has this wretched man learned nothing? On and on, it went during his BBC interview: "I would absolutely...","I definitely...", "I believed absolutely clearly...", "It was very, very clear that this changed everything" – "this" being 11 September 2001 – "Let me state clearly and unequivocally", "The Intelligence picture was clear...", "legal justification was quite clear", "We said completely accurately... "Because I believed strongly, then and now...", "My definitive view in the end is..." You would have thought we won the war in Iraq, that we were winning the war in Afghanistan, that we were going to win the next war in Iran. And why not, if Lord Blair of Kut al-Amara says so.
At The Progreesive, Amitabh Pal takes on Tony and his bad book:
He glibly asserts that "the full array of experts were consulted" before he made his decision, blithely omitting how his government distorted the input. But then, the honesty and/or judgment of a man is seriously in doubt when he lists George W. Bush "near the top" of any list of political leaders with the "most integrity."
Speaking of whom, it will be interesting to see how the less eloquent of the pair handles the Iraq fiasco in his memoir, coming to a bookstore near you in November. Unwilling to wait that long, Republican leaders are already engaged in a rewriting of history. John McCain, John Boehner and Mitch McConnell all criticized President Obama for allegedly not giving Bush credit enough in his recent Iraq speech for the supposed success of the surge.
No amount of memoir writing or bloviating will nullify the central truth about the Iraq War: It was a folly based on deceit and lies that brought about unconscionable suffering. Blair, Bush and their supporters can spin all they want.
Okay, Pal repeats one error that the media's glommed on and it needs to be corrected. Tony Blair can't sell books. Tony Blair is hated in England. As well as around the world. As he realized how hated he was -- when his literary agent was attempting to shop Tony's next book -- a p.r. campaign was begun: Tony would donate his ROYALTIES from the book sales to help the British soldiers injured in Iraq.
Pay attention, that's BULLS**T. Tony's gotten some favorable comments from some idiots who either don't know what they're talking about (one British soldier) or lackeys who don't care about the truth (a number in the press). Pal doesn't praise Blair for that announcement but does repeat it.
It's a LIE. The book isn't expected to sell in big numbers. It's hoped that it will have a run on the bestseller list (four to six weeks is the big expectation). That hope would allow Tony to pocket a big advance for his next book -- which, his outline explains, will be on the peace process between the Israelies and the Palestinians (something he might need to tell participants engaged in it currently since he's planning to write about all of them). The sales for this book will determine furture advances.
Now, PAY ATTENTION, Tony's offered to donate royalties from the sales of the books. Tony's not offering anything from the huge advance he got for writing this book. The HUGE ADVANCE, PAY ATTENTION, means that the book must be on the best seller list for six months for any royalties of any real significance to be credited to Tony. In other words, he pocketed at least six figures (some say seven) for this book and will keep that advance. He's not donating it. That huge advance means that there is little chance of a profit (even before you add in how unpopular he is) and the royalties are profits from the book sales after the publishing company, AFTER, deduct the costs of printing, promoting and, yes, his advance. There will probably be little-to-no royalties from this book. Also in the air is where the 'promise' applies. Tony's American publishing company states they're unaware of any alteration in the contract they signed before Tony made his current promise to donate royalties.
It's a scam. Tony The Liar Blair is lying again. He's using the wounded British soldiers in an attempt to sell his bad book. He's hiding behind them. He is not handing over that big advance to them. He's not donating that to them. This should have been explained from the very start when the spin began that Tony was being charitable. You've got a lot of whores in the press who are not doing their job. (I'm not calling Pal a whore. This should have been explained in the British press.)
To include that (and thank you to friends at Blair's British publishing house for their input), we have to pull out other things; however, that's really important because he's being declared "Saint Tony" for doing nothing. We can't note this article by Atul Aneja because we don't have the room. or Cindy Sheehan's commentary We'll pick it up tomorrow. I don't like liars and pressure needs to be put on Blair to turn that advance he pocketed for the book over to the British soldiers because, otherwise, they're not getting any money of significance (as he's well aware).
TV notes. On PBS' Washington Week, Dan Balz (Washington Post), John Dickerson (CBS News, Slate), Doyle McManus (Los Angeles Times) and Deborah Solomon (Wall St. Journal) join Gwen around the table. Gwen now has a weekly column at Washington Week and the current one is "Why We Love It When the President Goes Away." This week, Bonnie Erbe will sit down with Karen Czarnecki, Cari Dominguez, Melinda Henneberger and Eleanor Holmes Norton on the latest broadcast of PBS' To The Contrary to discuss the week's events. And this week's To The Contrary online extra is about gay Republicans coming out of the closet. Need To Know is PBS' new program covering current events. This week's hour long broadcast airs Fridays on most PBS stations -- but check local listings -- and it explores the money behind and in the 2010 mid-term elections. And turning to broadcast TV, Sunday CBS' 60 Minutes offers:
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