Thursday, October 08, 2015

I'm getting sick of Bill Clinton

Former presidents don't need to be in the daily news cycle constantly.

But if Hillary's able to become president, First Lady Bill obviously intends to use his East Wing to lecture us constantly.

I'm already sick of him.

He needs to just shut up.

His 'defense' of his wife actually makes her look weak and unable to stand up for herself.

While it makes him look like he never knows how to shut up.

Can we endure four years of that crap?

I'm not joking, I'm sick of him.

And I don't dislike Bill.

But I'm sick of him running to the press to scold and hector.

Just shut the f**k up and let your wife, the candidate, fight her own battles.

Here's C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

Wednesday, October 10, 2015.  Chaos and violence continue, claims are treated as fact by the ridiculous NBC News and AFP, Hillary continues to pretend that the 2008 SOFA is the responsibility of Bully Boy Bush (no, it's her responsibility as well and Barack's and Joe's and . . .) and we're going to start calling out 'fact checkers' who lie about what took place in 2008, the US Senate holds a hearing on Iraq with a focus on the Ashraf community, and much more.

NBC News insists, "Iraqi military plans to retake the city of Ramadi from ISIS militants for the first time in months, officials said."  AFP quotes Anbar Council Member insisting, "If operations continue at this pace, I expect the liberation of Ramadi to be possible by the end of the month."

Oh, what wonderful propaganda that almost makes the months long effort to retake Ramadi (begun in May) seem like it might be a success soon.


Let's drop back to Alice Fordham report for NPR's Morning Edition (link is text and audio  and transcript) yesterday:

FORDHAM: That's Army Colonel Lawrence al Issawi. He says they're holding ground but aren't strong enough to actually push ISIS back. A major offensive was expected four months ago to take back the provincial capital, Ramadi. I ask defense minister Khalid al Obeidi in Baghdad why that never happened.

KHALID AL OBEIDI: (Speaking Arabic).

FORDHAM: He tells me, "we can't lose any more soldiers," and, "you endanger civilians by going in before your forces are ready." But he won't say when they might be ready, although Iraqi officials cite a dire financial situation and massive corruption in the military as obstacles to fighting ISIS. To get an idea of what's going to be needed, I meet a soldier who's been fighting close to Ramadi.


FORDHAM: He won't give his name because he's afraid of his commanders but tells me it's not like the government or coalition isn't doing anything. He recently had American training, and they armed his unit, too.

UNIDENTIFIED SOLDIER: (Through interpreter) They transfer us to Ramadi. We spent two days there. We liberated from 30 to 40 kilometers.

FORDHAM: Liberated the outskirts from ISIS, that is. And following heavy casualties, reinforcements arrived. But he says the officers are still a problem.


FORDHAM: They take bribes to let people go on leave and flee themselves as soon as the battle heats up. Food and water are scarce. Plus, he too says ISIS just has way more men and weapons and uses devastating car bombs in battle.
How long do you think before Ramadi is retaken?

UNIDENTIFIED SOLDIER: (Through interpreter) Ramadi retaken will last from seven to eight years.

AFP's really been an embarrassment when it comes to reporting or 'reporting' from Iraq for some time now.

Let's stay with cheap liars long enough to note the ongoing disgrace that is Hillary Clinton.

BBC News reports the craven and cranky candidate is firing back at Jeb Bush -- Bush is trying to win the GOP's 2016 presidential nomination, Cranky feels she's owed the 2016 Democratic Party's presidential nomination:

On Tuesday Mr Bush accused the Obama administration of a "premature withdrawal" of US forces from Iraq in 2011, with "grievous" costs.
Mrs Clinton replied by saying it was Mr Bush's brother George W Bush who, as president, negotiated a US withdrawal.

Barack attempted to do another Status Of Forces Agreement to keep US troops in Iraq beyond 2011 (and they actually were but can't continually waste time spoon feeding the stupid and uninformed -- Ted Koppel attempted to in real time on both NPR and NBC).

In 2014, Katie Sanders (PolitiFact) noted ABC News' Martha Raddatz:

Martha Raddatz, ABC’s chief global affairs correspondent, was wearing her TV pundit hat when she said Allen’s idea for a strategy "makes me think back about what the Obama administration originally wanted."

"They wanted 10,000 troops to remain in Iraq -- not combat troops, but military advisers, special operations forces, to watch the counterterrorism effort," she said. "So perhaps they'd go that way, but it would be a tough one."

She evaluated Raddatz' remarks and concluded:

Raddatz said the Obama administration originally "wanted 10,000 troops to remain in Iraq -- not combat troops, but military advisers, special operations forces, to watch the counterterrorism effort."
For a period, at least, the Obama administration did envision leaving 10,000 troops in Iraq past the Dec. 31, 2011, pullout of forces. That number went down to about 5,000 before negotiations stalled amid a legal snare over immunity of American forces in Iraqi courts.

Her claim is accurate but needs additional information. We rate her claim Mostly True.

Now let's deal with an issue -- a fact -- that PolitiFact and other fact checkers have repeatedly ignored.

Cranky Clinton likes to say Bully Boy Bush negotiated the SOFA.

It was his deal, she and other cheap trash insist.

I'm sorry, I didn't join the Cult of St. Barack so I never took an oath to lie for him.

So in my best Cher "Follow This You Bitches" manner . . .

Here's reality that cheap trash doesn't tell you.

The SOFA is a treaty.

The Iraqi Parliament voted on it and approved it.

All US treaties must be approved by the US Senate.

Senator Hillary Clinton was among the first to point that out and campaigned -- in 2008 -- on the promise that she would demand a Senate vote on any SOFA.

As the rudderless and leaderless Barack so often did in 2008, he copied Hillary.

He made that a promise as well.

Joe Biden, while Hillary and Barack were going back and forth, had already dropped out of the campaign for the 2008 Democratic Party's presidential nomination.

But he also was the Chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

We covered the April 10, 2008 hearing he chaired -- did anyone else?  Again, follow this, you bitches.

Joe told the Bush State Dept witnesses that the treaty would require Senate confirmation.

And when Joe joined Barack's campaign as his running mate, the campaign promised on their website that any treaty would require a vote by the Senate.

Hillary was a senator when the treaty went through (Thanksgiving Day, 2008).  So was Barack.  So was Joe.

Where was the damn vote?

There was no vote.

If Hillary's unhappy -- she's always unhappy, look at the corners of her mouth, it's the mouth of a person whose had a miserable life -- she needs to put on her big girl panties and take a hard look in the mirror.

Saying Bully Boy Bush negotiated the treaty?

That's one half of the damn story.

The other half is that Hillary, Barack, Joe and so many others broke their public promise to demand a Senate vote.

And please note, I can also list Democrats in the House of Representatives in 2008 who publicly stated the Senate would have to vote.

Instead, they rolled over.

So the reality is that this is the treaty that Bully Boy Bush (by action) and Democrats like Hillary (by inaction) pushed through.

Stop pretending otherwise.

From nonsense to reality . . .

Retired Col Wesley Martin shared today, "I remember back in the seventies, there used to be this little cartoon of a pair of goldfish in a blender and they're in the water.  And there's this little button for the blender -- they're waiting for it to be turned on. And one  goldfish says to the other, 'I can't handle the stress.'  That's what it reminds me of, for the residents."

He was offering testimony on the Ashraf community moved from Camp Ashraf to Camp Liberty and still not resettled outside of Iraq.

For a more detailed view, we'll note this.

Senator Jack Reed: This morning, our hearing focuses on Iranian influence in Iraq and the plight of the nearly 2,400 residents at Camp Liberty in Iraq -- members of the Iranian dissident group the Mujahadeen-e-Khalq or MEK. The Iranian dissidents at Camp Liberty are in an increasingly perilous situation having repeatedly come under attack.  And these attacks, which have killed more than 100 MEK members since 2009, clearly indicate the threat to this group from Iran and Iranian-backed militias seeking to eliminate and silence these dissidents.  The deteriorating security situation in Iraq only highlights the urgent need to find safe refuge for these individuals outside that country.  The United States have had a special relationship with the MEK dating back to the height of the Iraq War in the mid 2000s.  This stems in part from the MEK's agreement at the US military's request to disarm and move into Camp Ashraf in north eastern Iraq.  The US military extended under the Geneva Conventions to the Camp Ashraf residents.  However, as the United States drew down its forces consistent with its obligations under the 2008 security agreements signed by President Bush and Prime Minister Maliki, US forces were no longer well positioned to provide for the safety and security of the Camp Ashraf residents.  In December of 2011, the government of Iraq signed a memorandum with the United Nations in which the Iraq government committed to ensure the safety and the security of these residents as part of the process of relocating them to Camp Liberty outside Baghdad to facilitate the settlement process.  However, the United States, through the State Dept, has had to repeatedly press the government of Iraq to live up to its obligations to provide for the safety and well being of the Camp Liberty residents and Camp Liberty residents remain in fear that the government of Iraq will extradite them to Iran at Tehran's request. The State Dept now is the lead US government agency advocating on behalf of the Camp Liberty residents. And the State Dept is working the United Nations Assistance Mission in Iraq and the United Nations High Commission for Refugees to find resettlement options for these residents outside of Iraq. It is my understanding that as of the beginning of this month, nearly 800 Camp Liberty residents have been processed by the UNHCR and resettled outside of Iraq.  Unfortunately, this resettlement process has dragged on for years and much more still needs to be done to find homes for the remaining Camp Liberty residents. I would urge all participants in the resettlement process to cooperate fully to advance the resettlement of these very vulnerable individuals.  One issue that I expect will arise this morning is whether the United States should accept more Camp Liberty residents for resettlement.  While the MEK was removed from the list of foreign terrorists organizations in 2012, group members continue to be barred from admission to the United States because of their Tier Three status under US anti-terrorism laws.  Nonetheless, I understand that the administration has adopted a policy that would allow Camp Liberty residents to be paroled in the United States if they renounce their affiliation with the MEK.  Under this policy, some 29 Camp Liberty residents have ultimately resettled in the United States making the United States one of the larger recipient countries for these refugees.  I hope the testimony of our witnesses this morning will help shine a light on what more can be done to accelerate the resettlement process so that the residents of Camp Liberty can be brought to safety outside of  Iraq once and for all.

Senator Reed was speaking at this morning's Senate Armed Services Committee hearing.  He is the Ranking Member of the Committee, Senator John McCain is the Committee Chair.  The witnesses appearing before the Committee were retired US Gen James Jones, former US Senator Joe Lieberman and retired US Colonel Wesley Martin.

"We wouldn't be sitting here today,"  Gen James Jones declared, "if we'd just had an airlift.  The, uh, there's just some other points I think are outrageous.  The officers -- the Iraqi officers that led the attack on Camp Ashraf and killed -- are responsible for the killing of women and children -- are the ones responsible for dealing with Camp Liberty today. And you talk about an insult?  Adding insult to injury? It's incredible.  And I just -- I just find it unbelievable that this problem has not been resolved three or four years ago.

Noting the Albanian government specifically for taking in a large number of residents, Jones wanted to clarify a point, "By the way the cost for relocation is being born by the MEK.  It's not being born by us, it's not being born by the UN.  Money's been allocated.  I forget the number, but it's [amount whispered to him] $20 million of their funds to relocate their wives, their sisters, their brothers, their family members and their colleagues."

Senator Thom Tillis also wanted to clarify a point.

Senator Thom Tillis: I want to be clear then.  So they're living in horrible conditions every day, worrying about whether or not they're going to be alive the following day.   And these are people who peacefully disarmed --

Col Wesley Martin:  Yes, sir.

Senator Thom Tillis (Con't):  -- and protected American soldiers when we came into Iraq.  And we made a promise that we would take care of them.

Col Wesley Martin:  That is correct, sir.

Let's stay with clarification a bit more.

Senator Joe Manchin: Let me ask another -- and, Gen Jones, this might be to you. In your testimony, you cited the three most lethal events occurred in 2009 to 2013 during prime minister Maliki's time in office.  Since Prime Minister Abadi took office in 2014, have there been any changes in the situation in Camp Liberty when it comes to the security or resettlement?  Have you seen any changes?

Gen James Jones:  Uhm, I'd defer to Wes for the details but, uhm, uh, I think the attacks have been less -- lessened.  But the fact that the Iraqi military who are regularly in the camp are still the ones who conducted the raids in previous years -- and the killings -- is indicative of the kind of pressure that they want to keep on the citizens in the camp.  Wes, you may have more details?

Senator Joe Manchin:  Has it improved is what I'm asking?

Col Wesley Martin:  It hasn't improved and --

Senator Joe Manchin:  It has not?

Col Wesley Martin:  It has not.  And it has not deteroriarted.  They're still in that blender [70s comic reference, noted earlier] waiting for that button to be pushed.  Abadi.  He's the prime minister. But he's in a very precarious position because Maliki still controls Dawa [political] party, Maliki still has the ear of Tehran and, as you recall, Maliki was forced out only after ISIS took over major parts of the country.  Both, uh, the Ayatollah in Iran and President Obama were blessing him for a third term which was against the Constitution -- the Iraqi Constitution -- but he was force out when [Iranian] General [Qassem] Soleimani went to him and said, "You have to step down."  And then a member of his Dawa party was brought up. Abadi has made a lot of great promises.  There are demonstrations going on throughout Iraq.  He's drawing the support of them. [C.I. note: That's what the western press largely says, it is not, however, the truth.  The protesters are clear that they do not feel Abadi's doing anything other than offering empty promises.]  He's drawing the support of, uh, [Grand] Ayatollah [Ali al-]Sistani. And surprisingly he's drawing the support of the Mahdi army with Moqtada al-Sadr.

Senator Joe Manchin:  I have another one.  This is a most difficult question.  It's when the State Dept de-listed the MEK as a foreign terrorist organization in 2012, it stated, "The Department does not overlook or forget the MEK's past acts of terrorism including its involvement with the killings of US citizens in Iran in the 1970s and an attack on US soil in 1992.  The Department also has serious concerns about the MEK as an organization particularly with regard to allegations of abuse committed against its own members."  How has the MEK addressed the concerns raised about potential abuse of its own members since the de-listing, sir?

Col Wesley Martin: Since the de-listing, it hasn't needed to be addressed.  In this same document that [former] Governor [Tom] Ridge provided Senator McCain -- I'll get you a copy of it -- I addressed that thoroughly. I investigated those -- when I was the Base Commander military policeman -- I went and investigated those allegations of abuse and along with a lot of other allegations.  They were unfounded.  What I found, while I was there, and since then, the MEK is the most lied to and --

Senator Joe Manchin:  Is the State Dept corrected its findings?

Col Wesley Martin:  No, sir. This report [the Ridge one] was generated when [the State Dept's] Julia Frifield sent to Congressman [Ed}] Royce a repetition of the previous lies and all the omissions. 

We'll leave that aspect there -- I've not read Ridge's report.  I'm comfortable sharing what Martin testified to that he saw but the discussion of a report (that I've not read) isn't something I'm eager to get stuck on.  We will note that the report was a response to claims of abuse and the report states no abuse took place.

I'm not a Joe Lieberman fan but we're not ignoring him.  We'll note a section of his testimony in the next snapshot.

For now, we'll close this snapshot's coverage of the hearing by noting the reference to recently reported comments and developments.

Chair John McCain: A Shi'ite leader was quoted yesterday as saying that the United States air strikes were ineffective so therefore they needed the Iranian and the Russian assistance.  What-what-what is your assessment of the Iranian influence now in Iraq and how it may more endanger the lives and welfare of the residents of the Camp?

Gen James Jones: Sir, my -- as I mentioned in my prepared remarks, I was present when the former King of Saudi Arabia issued his warning about then-prime minister Maliki which was proven to be correct.  It was my hope that the new prime minister and the leader of Iraq would -- would have shown more appreciation for the sacrifice that was made on behalf of his country by the United States.  I-I think that such statements are not only insulting to our commitment but also just show-show how deeply the Iranian influence has, uh, permeated the, uh, Baghdad, the capital of Iraq and it's leadership.  Unfortunately.

Chair John McCain: Suppose that the Russians begin air attacks in Iraq.  What-what-what -- One, what does that mean?  And, two, what should the United States reaction be?

Gen James Jones:  Well the United -- in my view, it means, uh, unless-unless the Russians, uh, agree to join the, uh, the international, uh, coalition and cooperate under the air tasking orders and, uh, and bring a certain military competence in coordination to the fore, you run the risk of having chaos in the skies. Uhm, the United States, with all -- with all due respect, the United States should do everything in its power, I think, to avert that situation and to make sure that what's happening in Syria does not happen in the skies over Iraq regardless of whether the prime minister welcomes the addition of the Russians. 

Chair John McCain:  But he does have a point about the effectiveness of the air campaign against ISIS.

Gen James Jones:  Yes, it-it does in the sense that the United States has made its decision as to what it's going to do.  My understanding is that we're re-looking at our commitment and we'll hopefully ramp it up a bit more.  As you know, my personal belief is that the longest road to victory here is, uh, is purely an air campaign, uhm, but if that's all that we have, we ought to make it a massive air campaign.

Chair John McCain: Didn't we learn in a campaign that you and I were long ago engaged [Vietnam] that incrementalism doesn't work and air campaigns alone doesn't work?

Gen James Jones:  That's correct.

Wednesday, October 07, 2015

Hillary's enuich

Didn't blog Monday, sorry.

We're all tired of blogging 5 days a week, if you missed it.

If C.I. stopped The Common Ills, I think we'd all close down community wide right now.

We've just been at it for so long.

For me, it's ten years now.

And I didn't think that was going to be.

If you'd asked me in 2005, I probably would have thought I'd blog for a few years.

Instead, it's been ten.

Now Matthew Yglesias.

He's one of the fat boys who cheerleaded the Iraq War from the left or 'left.'

Fat f**k has an article at Vox where he insists that Hillary's breaking the rules is why we should support her.

I get it.

He's into pain.

He needs to be walked around on, probably, strapped to some stretching device, put in a chastity device, all that crap turns him on so he wants an out of control person as president.

If you've forgotten, here on the left in most of the 00s, we objected to Bully Boy Bush breaking the rules.

Now sick f**k Matthew Yglesias argues that we need Hillary in the White House so she can break the rules.

New content at Third:

Which was written by Dallas and:

The Third Estate Sunday Review's Jim, Dona, Ty, Jess and Ava,
Rebecca of Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude,
Betty of Thomas Friedman Is a Great Man,
C.I. of The Common Ills and The Third Estate Sunday Review,
Kat of Kat's Korner (of The Common Ills),
Mike of Mikey Likes It!,
Elaine of Like Maria Said Paz),
Cedric of Cedric's Big Mix,
Ruth of Ruth's Report,
Wally of The Daily Jot,
Trina of Trina's Kitchen,
Stan of Oh Boy It Never Ends,
Isaiah of The World Today Just Nuts,
and Ann of Ann's Mega Dub.

Also be sure to check out Kat's "Kat's Korner The triumphant return of Janet " -- her review of Janet Jackson's new album Unbreakable.

Here's C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

Tuesday, October 6, 2015.  Chaos and violence continue, Tony Blair lies again, Alice Fordham and NPR offer some truth telling, and much more.

War Criminal Tony Blair emerged from beneath the rock he's been living to impart some of the stupidity and blood lust that's condemned him to his own personal hell.

Jewish News reports of Blair:

Speaking to Rabbi David Wolpe  – named the most influential rabbi in America by Newsweek magazine – the former prime minister, said: “We can apologise for the mistakes, but in the end we got rid of Saddam Hussein… Once you get rid of the tyrants, you get competition between Islamists and more moderate groups.”

Saddam Hussein is gone, War Criminal Tony Blair remains -- though Arrest Blair might be able to address that.

Saddam Hussein's actions and crimes did not lead Iraq to the brink of extinction.

Tony Blair's actions -- along with Bully Boy Bush's actions and John Howard's action -- destroyed Iraq.

He seems to think that as long as he points to Saddam, his own guilt vanishes.

It doesn't work that way.

And destruction is not a 'mistake.'  It's a crime.

Lies used to launch a war also don't go to character or nobility.

Tony Blair's a cheap thug who should stand trial at the Hague.

And Saddam Hussein was contained and not a threat to other nations.

Just War theory allows for no war on Iraq.

Tony's a criminal who wants to paint himself as a hero.

It's not an identity the world's prepared to pin on him.

His actions brought down the Labour Party in England.

He's despised around the globe.

And every time he tries to lie his way out, it only reminds people just how much they loathe him.

In fairness, others are also responsible for Iraq.

That list includes Barack Obama.

Liars and whores -- is there really a difference anymore -- work overtime to pretend otherwise.

And they probably fool an ignorant American public that's depended on the US media -- which largely withdrew from Iraq at the end of 2008 -- to inform them of reality.

At Huffington Post, Libertarian Doug Bandow, at best, sports ignorance, and, at worst, flat out lies:

Bush continued to support the Maliki government even as it ruthlessly targeted Sunnis, setting the stage for Iraq's effective break-up. In 2007 U.S. military adviser Emma Sky wrote of the U.S. military's frustration "by what they viewed as the schemes of Maliki and his inner circle to actively sabotage our efforts to draw Sunnis out of the insurgency." Al-Qaeda in Iraq survived, mutating into the Islamic State. The Bush administration then became one of the Islamic State's chief armorers when Iraqi soldiers fled before ISIS forces, abandoning their expensive, high-tech weapons which U.S. aircraft had to destroy last year.
Third, President Bush failed to win Iraqi approval of a continuing U.S. military presence and governing Status of Forces Agreement. With Americans ready to leave and Iraqis determined to move on, Bush planned an American exit. Retired Army Chief of Staff Gen. Raymond Odierno explained: "us leaving at the end of 2011 was negotiated in 2008 by the Bush administration. And that was always the plan, we had promised them that we would respect their sovereignty." Indeed, while Republican candidates now treat this departure as a failure--Jeb Bush proclaimed "that premature withdrawal was the fatal error"--attempting to stay would have been much worse. Washington would have had leverage only by threatening to withdraw its garrison, which the Maliki government desired. U.S. troops would have had little impact on Iraqi political developments, unless augmented and deployed in anti-insurgency operations, which Americans did not support. And a continuing military occupation would have provided radicals from every sectarian viewpoint with a target. 

First off, Odierno's comments conflict with others.  When a conflict occurs, you tend to go with the people who were actually in the room.  Odierno did not take part in the negotiations.  Brett McGurk, Condi Rice and others -- who were actually involved in the negotiations (this was a diplomatic effort, not a military one) -- have stated differently and they are correct.

Not only were they in the room but their remarks are also accurate based on the public record.

Bully Boy Bush negotiated the SOFA for three years.  Why three years?

It replaced the United Nations mandate.

That provided the legal cover for the US troops to be in Iraq.

The UN mandate had been a yearly agreement.

At the end of 2006, Nouri signed off on it for another year.

The Iraqi Parliament was furious.

Nouri promised he would get their approval next time.

At the end of 2007, he did not.

It was becoming a political issue.

For that reason, the agreement was a three year agreement.

(And don't forget that Barack tried to extend it.)

That's the reality.

Reality is hard for Doug Barlow so he lies, "Bush continued to support the Maliki government even as it ruthlessly targeted Sunnis, setting the stage for Iraq's effective break-up."

The ruthless targeting?

You mean in 2010?

After Nouri's secret torture prisons were exposed?

But Barack, Joe Biden and Samantha Power demanded Nouri continue as prime minister?

Even after Nouri lost the election to Ayad Allawi?

Is that what liar Doug Bandow means?

Is that what the cheap, little hustler means?

I'm not seeing any world leaders with cleans hands when it comes to Iraq.

I also think it's less than honest when Barlow cites Emma Sky's book --  The Unraveling: High Hopes and Missed Opportunities in Iraq. -- and portrays Odierno as supporting US troops leaving at the end of 2011 when Sky notes on page 311, "He believed twenty thousand or so US troops were needed to say in Iraq in post-2011 to train Iraqi security forces and to provide the psychological support to maintain a level of stability.  He envisaged a long-term strategic partnership between the two countries."

Doug Bandow will most likely get away with his lie because the American media has ignored Iraq and even should Emma Sky's book sell a million copies domestically -- and be hugely popular at public and school libraries -- it still won't reach most Americans.

Charlie Rose has never brought Emma Sky on his program to discuss the book.

In part because he can't handle the truths she tells and in part because he's so strongly anti-woman.

In Canada, she can get on TV and radio.  Let's again note her August appearance on Kevin Sylvester's This Sunday Edition (CBC).  Let's excerpt the section on the 2010 election -- when Barack's president and Nouri loses.  Wasn't Bully Boy Bush who "continued to support the Maliki government even as it ruthlessly targeted Sunnis, setting the stage for Iraq's effective break-up" then.

Emma Sky: And that national election was a very closely contested election. Iraqis of all persuasions and stripes went out to participate in that election.  They'd become convinced that politics was the way forward, that they could achieve what they wanted through politics and not violence.  To people who had previously been insurgents, people who'd not voted before turned out in large numbers to vote in that election.  And during that election, the incumbent, Nouri al-Maliki, lost by 2 seats.  And the bloc that won was a bloc called Iraqiya led by Ayad Allawi which campaigned on "NO" to sectarianism, really trying to move beyond this horrible sectarian fighting -- an Iraq for Iraqis and no sectarianism.  And that message had attracted most of the Sunnis, a lot of the secular Shia and minority groups as well.

Kevin Sylvester:  People who felt they'd been shut out during Maliki's regime basically -- or his governance.

Emma Sky:  Yes, people that felt, you know, that they wanted to be part of the country called Iraq not -- they wanted to be this, they wanted Iraq to be the focus and not sect or ethnicity to be the focus.  And Maliki refused to accept the results.  He just said, "It is not right."  He wanted a recount.  He tried to use de-Ba'athification to eliminate or disqualify some Iraqiya members and take away the votes that they had gained.  And he just sat in his seat and sat in his seat.  And it became a real sort of internal disagreement within the US system about what to do?  So my boss, Gen [Ray] Odierno, was adamant that the US should uphold the Constitutional process, protect the political process, allow the winning group to have first go at trying to form the government for thirty days.  And he didn't think Allawi would be able to do it with himself as prime minister but he thought if you start the process they could reach agreement between Allawi and Maliki or a third candidate might appear who could become the new prime minister. So that was his recommendation.

Kevin Sylvester:   Well he even calls [US Vice President Joe] Biden -- Biden seems to suggest that that's what the administration will support and then they do a complete switch around.  What happened?

Emma Sky:  Well the ambassador at the time was a guy who hadn't got experience of the region, he was new in Iraq and didn't really want to be there.  He didn't have the same feel for the country as the general who'd been there for year after year after year.

Kevin Sylvester:  Chris Hill.

Emma Sky:  And he had, for him, you know 'Iraq needs a Shia strongman. Maliki's our man.  Maliki's our friend.  Maliki will give us a follow on security agreement to keep troops in country.'  So it looks as if Biden's listening to these two recommendations and that at the end Biden went along with the Ambassador's recommendation.  And the problem -- well a number of problems -- but nobody wanted Maliki.  People were very fearful that he was becoming a dictator, that he was sectarian, that he was divisive. And the elites had tried to remove him through votes of no confidence in previous years and the US had stepped in each time and said, "Look, this is not the time, do it through a national election."  So they had a national election, Maliki lost and they were really convinced they'd be able to get rid of him.  So when Biden made clear that the US position was to keep Maliki as prime minister, this caused a huge upset with Iraqiya.  They began to fear that America was plotting with Iran in secret agreement.  So they moved further and further and further away from being able to reach a compromise with Maliki.  And no matter how much pressure the Americans put on Iraqiya, they weren't going to agree to Maliki as prime minister and provided this opening to Iran because Iran's influence was way low at this stage because America -- America was credited with ending the civil war through the 'surge.'  But Iran sensed an opportunity and the Iranians pressured Moqtada al-Sadr -- and they pressured him and pressured him.  And he hated Maliki but they put so much pressure on to agree to a second Maliki term and the price for that was all American troops out of the country by the end of 2011.  So during this period, Americans got outplayed by Iran and Maliki moved very much over to the Iranian camp because they'd guaranteed his second term.

Kevin Sylvester:  Should-should the Obama administration been paying more attention?  Should they have -- You know, you talk about Chris Hill, the ambassador you mentioned, seemed more -- at one point, you describe him being more interested in putting green lawn turf down on the Embassy in order to play la crosse or something.  This is a guy you definitely paint as not having his head in Iraq.  How much of what has happened since then is at the fault of the Obama administration?  Hillary Clinton who put Chris Hill in place? [For the record, Barack Obama nominated Chris Hill for the post -- and the Senate confirmed it -- not Hillary.]  How much of what happens -- has happened since -- is at their feet?

Emma Sky:  Well, you know, I think they have to take some responsibility for this because of this mistake made in 2010.  And Hillary Clinton wasn't very much involved in Iraq.  She did appoint the ambassador [no, she did not] but she wasn't involved in Iraq because President Obama had designated Biden to be his point-man on Iraq and Biden really didn't have the instinct for Iraq. He very much believed in ancient hatreds, it's in your blood, you just grow up hating each other and you think if there was anybody who would have actually understood Iraq it would have been Obama himself.  You know, he understands identity more than many people.  He understands multiple identities and how identities can change.  He understands the potential of people to change. So he's got quite a different world view from somebody like Joe Biden who's always, you know, "My grandfather was Irish and hated the British.  That's how things are."  So it is unfortunate that when the American public had enough of this war, they wanted to end the war.  For me, it wasn't so much about the troops leaving, it was the politics -- the poisonous politics.  And keeping Maliki in power when his poisonous politics were already evident was, for me, the huge mistake the Obama administration made. Because what Maliki did in his second term was to go after his rivals.  He was determined he was never going to lose an election again.  So he accused leading Sunni politicians of terrorism and pushed them out of the political process.  He reneged on his promises that he'd made to the tribal leaders who had fought against al Qaeda in Iraq during the surge. [She's referring to Sahwa, also known as Sons of Iraq and Daughters of Iraq and as Awakenings.]  He didn't pay them.  He subverted the judiciary.  And just ended up causing these mass Sunni protests that created the environment that the Islamic State could rear its ugly head and say, "Hey!"  And sadly -- and tragically, many Sunnis thought, "Maybe the Islamic State is better than Maliki."  And you've got to be pretty bad for people to think the Islamic State's better. 

That's Barack, that's on Barack.

Again, I don't believe any leader's hands are blood free when it comes to Iraq.

I certainly don't believe Jill Stein's hands are blood free.

She ran an embarrassing campaign in 2012 for president.  She was the Green Party nominee and she offered mild criticism of Barack but went after Mitt Romney (the GOP nominee) like crazy -- especially after Barack lost a debate to Mitt.

She didn't run a campaign, she acted like the kid sister to the Democratic Party.

As September drew to a close, Tim Arango (New York Times) reported that the US had just sent in a Special-Ops division into Iraq:

Iraq and the United States are negotiating an agreement that could result in the return of small units of American soldiers to Iraq on training missions. At the request of the Iraqi government, according to General Caslen, a unit of Army Special Operations soldiers was recently deployed to Iraq to advise on counterterrorism and help with intelligence.  

Mitt and Barack were arguing over Iraq with each, frankly, lying through their teeth.

Jill Stein didn't even raise the issue or point to the New York Times report to discredit or question Barack (or point out that Mitt was wrong in his charges).

Jill was worthless, a lousy candidate.

And she's another Hillary Clinton.

She thinks she's owed the Green Party's 2016 nomination.

And liars in the press help her.

The Green Party will not select their nominee until the summer of 2016.

She is among those running for the nomination.

And her cult has done their best to pretend she has the nomination and bully other candidates into backing down.

But she can't fight for anything but her own vanity.

Where was Jill when Barack was bombing Libya?

"Where was Jill?" should be the rallying cry of her opponents because she was never anywhere to be found.

By contrast, I know where Cynthia McKinney was.

She was publicly objecting to war on Libya.

Looking at the state of Libya today, she was right.

Cynthia was the 2008 Green Party presidential nominee and she is weighing rather or not to seek the nomination in 2016.

Cynthia's a fighter, Jill's not.

That probably goes a long, long way towards explaining all the fawning press Jill's been getting.

That and the fact that she offers tidy bromides as opposed to penetrating analysis or real criticism.

Where's her critique of Operation Inherent Failure, for example?

Pravda notes, "According to Italian newspaper Corrierre della Sera, Italy will start bombing terrorists in Iraq in the next few hours. Italy will launch the operation only after all the details are coordinated with the US command."

Jill's got no statement on Iraq at her website.

She's got nothing.

This as Alice Fordham reports today for NPR's Morning Edition (link is text and audio  and transcript)..

Fordham sketches out an Iraq plagued by shortage of supplies -- not just guns for recruits but also boots --  and funds with Sunni tribes ready to fight but forced to the sidelines and Ramadi still held by the Islamic State.

She quotes Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi expressing his disappointment over what the US has offered -- he thought it would be more.

A key section of her report is this:

FORDHAM:  To get an idea of what's going to be needed, I meet a soldier who's been fighting close to Ramadi.


FORDHAM: He won't give his name because he's afraid of his commanders but tells me it's not like the government or coalition isn't doing anything. He recently had American training, and they armed his unit, too.

UNIDENTIFIED SOLDIER: (Through interpreter) They transfer us to Ramadi. We spent two days there. We liberated from 30 to 40 kilometers.

FORDHAM: Liberated the outskirts from ISIS, that is. And following heavy casualties, reinforcements arrived. But he says the officers are still a problem.


FORDHAM: They take bribes to let people go on leave and flee themselves as soon as the battle heats up. Food and water are scarce. Plus, he too says ISIS just has way more men and weapons and uses devastating car bombs in battle.
How long do you think before Ramadi is retaken?

UNIDENTIFIED SOLDIER: (Through interpreter) Ramadi retaken will last from seven to eight years.

Again, it's Operation Inherent Failure.

People might try paying attention.

The call for US troops to be sent into Iraq in larger numbers will only grow.  Those of us opposed to it now should be taking a stand now.

The US State Dept issued the following today:

Media Note
Office of the Spokesperson
Washington, DC
October 6, 2015
Special Presidential Envoy for the Global Coalition to Counter ISIL General John Allen arrived in Baghdad, Iraq today to meet with senior Iraqi government and security officials. During his meetings with Iraqi officials, General Allen will discuss the Coalition’s continued support for Iraqi-led efforts to degrade and defeat ISIL, as well as recent developments in the region.

In some of today's violence, Alsumaria reports 2 dead in a Falluja clash, 2 corpses were discovered in the streets of Baghdad (dead from gunshot wounds), and an armed attack outside of Baghdad left a dentist dead.

  • Sunday, October 04, 2015

    Loser of the week

    My pick?

    ABC's Marvel's Agents of Shield.

    Tuesday's episode better be better.

    I was so disappointed with the season three debut.

    Where was Ming Na's character?

    (She'll be back Tuesday.)

    Like most of the characters, she was scattered.

    There was far too much Colson and far too little others.

    So Sky is now called "Daisy" (her birth name).

    They jumped too far ahead of the season two ender and it was frequently confusing or boring as a result.

    Where was Ward?

    Good or evil, his character adds a lot to the show and when he's underutilized, the show suffers.

    The show really needed Ming Na.

    When she's not on and Ward's a blip, there's really no point in watching.

    I don't understand why all the threads from the season two finale were so quickly dropped.

    But it was a hugely disappointing episode.

    Here's C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

    Saturday, October 3, 2015.  Chaos and violence continue, one outlet joins The New Yorker in breaking the silence on prostitution in Iraq, Hillary Clinton can't address the topic but maybe if she focuses on the 'business' aspect of the sex trade she'll find a voice, and much more.

    Friday morning, we again noted The New Yorker report on prostitution in Iraq written by Rania Abouzeid and that CNN's Arwa Damon had Tweeted about it but that it was otherwise being ignored.

    From the article:

    In 2012, Iraq passed its first law specifically against human trafficking, but the law is routinely ignored, and sexual crimes, including rape and forced prostitution, are common, women’s-rights groups say. Statistics are hard to come by, but in 2011, according to the latest Ministry of Planning report, a survey found that more than nine per cent of respondents between the ages of fifteen and fifty-four said they had been subjected to sexual violence. The real number is likely much higher, given the shame attached to reporting such crimes in a society where a family’s honor is often tied to the chastity of its women. The victims of these crimes are often considered outcasts and can be killed for “dishonoring” their family or their community.

    Since 2006, Layla, a rape victim and former prostitute, has been secretly mapping Iraq’s underworld of sex trafficking and prostitution. Through her network of contacts in the sex trade, she gathers information about who is selling whom and for how much, where the victims are from, and where they are prostituted and trafficked. She passes the information, through intermediaries, to Iraqi authorities, who usually fail to act on it. Still, her work has helped to convict several pimps, including some who kidnapped children. That Saturday night, I accompanied Layla and Mohammad on a tour of some of the places that she investigates, on the condition that I change her name, minimize details that might identify her, and not name her intermediaries.

    Friday on PRI's The World, Carol Hills spoke with Raina Abouzeid about her report.  Excerpt.

    Rania Abouzeid:  But she's told me on more than one occasion that she sees this as her life's cause that she is absolutely determined regardless of the personal violence that she is often threatened with, because it is a dangerous job to sort of move undercover and pretend that you're a pimp or that you're a retired pimp in her case to get access to these brothels and to get into these nightclubs and to have the kind of relationships that she has with pimps and prostitutes.  But she's nonetheless absolutely devoted to this cause.

    Carol Hills:  You accompanied her as she tried to get information and she was sort of under cover as a pimp herself in order to get information.  What did you observe her do in order to get information?

    Rania Abouzeid:  One of the reasons she can do this was because she was in the trade many years ago.  She has those sort of connections and she mines those connections.  So she's a known quantity if you like in this underworld in Iraq.  And she, uh, she taps into those connections and she uses them to expand her network and it also gives her a kind of street cred, if you like, with these people that she's dealing with.

    Carol Hills:  Can you give a couple of examples of the kind of women or girls that are finding themselves in the sex trade.

    Rania Abouzeid:  Well it's mainly women and girls who don't have the support of their families -- either because they're fleeing from their families because of some sort of domestic abuse or they've been displaced and their usual family network isn't around them so they're -- so they're in an alien environment, if you like. And you know what one of the young ladies in my piece found herself in a very rough neighborhood because it was cheaper and it didn't take long for pimps and their women in this trade -- for one of these pimps to find her and to offer her free shelter, free food, a sense of stability and that's how she was lured into this trade.

    Carol Hills:  You just mentioned that many of the pimps are women and that really surprised me.  How-how does that happen?  It's so different from -- at least our image -- of how prostitution and the sex trade operate.

    Rania Abouzeid:  Yes, it's a very different model to the sort of western stereotype of the pimp -- the male pimp -- who's sort of controls the women.  In Iraq, actually in much of the developing world, these are criminal networks that are run by women.  But there are men behind them.  There's quite a tangled web of men behind them and corrupt police and militia men in the case of Iraq.

    Carol Hills:  Is the current Iraqi government doing anything about this?

    Rania Abouzeid:  Well in August of this year, the Women's Affairs Ministry which was always short of money anyhow was closed down as part of downsizing.  And that was one body that was supposed to sort of advocate for women's affairs.  And it was shut down.

    And it was shut down.

    As we noted September 10th, "What 'reform' under Haider means thus far is that quotas are going and gone -- meaning minority populations will not be represented or have a seat at the table.  In addition, shutting down the Ministry of Women's Affairs -- not a budget concern since it never had a real budget -- means that there will not be bodies in the government to track the treatment (or mistreatment) of certain segments."

    Why is it that when Haider al-Abadi falsely sold his announced moves as 'reform' no one wanted to call them out -- no one in the press.  They wanted to pretend that closing down an underfunded ministry would, in fact, address corruption.

    Instead, it leaves a segment of the population without any real resources.

    And where were our brave defenders of women's rights in the United States?

    I don't want to hear any two-faced women's 'leader' announce yet again: "Human rights are women's rights."

    I don't want to hear that or anything else if they were no where to be found when Haider al-Abadi was trying to dismantle the Ministry of Women's Affairs.

    Hillary Clinton, for example, was more than happy to vote (2002) to destroy Iraq and to continue to support the illegal war until it became a problem in 2007 as she was seeking the Democratic Party's 2008 presidential nomination.

    Today, she's again seeking that nomination but she has nothing to say about Iraqi women.

    The notion that some fluff in a badly (ghost)written book means she no longer has to answer for Iraq is one pimped by the whores who want to ignore what a War Hawk Hillary is.

    Remember, she can talk business opportunities brought about by the destruction of Iraq, she just can't address the problems facing the Iraqi people.

    Moving from a presidential aspirant to the actual US President, Barack Obama mentioned the Middle East briefly this week.


    He forgot Iraq.

    On the issue of Russia and the air strikes in Syria garnered a lot of press attention this week.  To a lesser extent so did the announcement of the government of Iraq that they would be sharing intelligence with Russia.

    The latter topic was addressed this week on Fresh Air (NPR -- link is audio and text) when Dave Davies spoke with the Washington Post's Joby Warrick.

    DAVIES: The other development here is that the Russians recently announced an agreement with Iraq and Iran to share intelligence about ISIS. They didn't let the Americans know about this, right? I mean, what are we to make of that?

    WARRICK: It's clearly a slap in the face of the Obama administration because, you know, the Iraqis are supposedly our allies. The Iranians certainly aren't, but we've tried to work with them in finding ways - you know, common interest - in going against ISIS. But here, you know, Russia is asserting its own role without telling the United States and essentially giving the signal or the message that the U.S. has been ineffective and been powerless. As Putin said in his speech at the U.N., it's made the situation much worse, so Russia is moving in, again, in a very dramatic fashion to say we're going to take charge here. We're going to help bring a solution to the region. If eventually it leads to a more cooperative effort between the U.S. and Russia and others in doing something against ISIS, that'll be great. I think it's way, way too early to say if that's - if we can have that kind of a hopeful outcome.

    Still on Russia, Kevin Liptak (CNN) reports, "In a joint statement Friday, the governments of nations fighting ISIS -- including the United States, the United Kingdom and Saudi Arabia -- said Russia's military strikes 'constitute a further escalation and will only fuel more extremism and radicalization'."

    Oh, Russian strikes will do that?

    Fuel more extremism and radicalization?

    Russian strikes will do that?

    Not US strikes in Syria or Iraq?

    Because the US government has no diplomatic efforts in Iraq, just more bombs dropped.

    Friday the Defense Dept bragged:

    Airstrikes in Iraq
    Bomber, fighter, attack, fighter-attack and remotely piloted aircraft conducted 20 airstrikes in Iraq, coordinated with and in support of the Iraqi government:
    -- Near Huwayjah, six strikes struck three separate ISIL tactical units and destroyed an ISIL ammunition cache, an ISIL vehicle, an ISIL vehicle bomb assembly area and an ISIL mortar system.
    -- Near Albu Hayat, a strike destroyed an ISIL vehicle.
    -- Near Beiji, two strikes struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed 17 ISIL tactical fighting positions and wounded an ISIL fighter.
    -- Near Kirkuk, two strikes struck two separate ISIL tactical units and destroyed an ISIL fighting position.
    -- Near Kisik, a strike struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed an ISIL rocket
    -- Near Ramadi, two strikes struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed two ISIL fighting positions and an ISIL command and control node.
    -- Near Mosul, a strike destroyed an ISIL tactical vehicle.
    -- Near Sinjar, four strikes struck three separate ISIL tactical units and destroyed two ISIL fighting positions and an ISIL vehicle.

    -- Near Tal Afar, a strike struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed an ISIL vehicle.

    And there's this:

  • In other violence, Al Jazeera notes twin suicide bombers took their own lives in different parts of Baghdad today while also killing 24 other people.

    Still on violence, this week saw the United Nations Assistance Mission in Iraq (UNAMI) issue their figures for the month of September:

    Baghdad, 1 October 2015 – According to casualty figures released today by UNAMI, a total of 717 Iraqis were killed and another 1,216 were injured in acts of terrorism, violence and armed conflict in September 2015*.

    The number of civilians killed was 537 (including 42 civilian police and casualty figures in Anbar), and the number of civilians injured was 925 (including 38 civilian police and casualty figures in Anbar).

    A further 180 members of the Iraqi Security Forces (including Peshmerga, SWAT and militias fighting alongside the Iraqi Army / Not including casualties from Anbar Operations) were killed and 291 were injured.

    “The United Nations remains deeply concerned by the ongoing violence and the high rate of ensuing casualties”, the Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General for Iraq (SRSG), Mr. Jan Kubis said. He however noted that “the cycle of violence, displacement and migration, should not hamper the need to properly and meaningfully address the key economic, security, social and institutional reforms that will help stabilize the situation and restore hope among the Iraqis”.

    Baghdad was the worst affected Governorate with 840 civilian casualties (257 killed, 583 injured). Diyala suffered 67 killed and 86 injured, Salahadin 87 killed and 64 injured, Ninewa 75 killed and 8 injured, and Kirkuk 16 killed and 6 injured.

    According to information obtained by UNAMI from the Health Directorate in Anbar, the Governorate suffered a total of 204 civilian casualties (28 killed and 176injured).

    *CAVEATS: In general, UNAMI has been hindered in effectively verifying casualties in conflict areas. Figures for casualties from Anbar Governorate are provided by the Health Directorate and are noted below. Casualty figures obtained from the Anbar Health Directorate might not fully reflect the real number of casualties in those areas due to the increased volatility of the situation on the ground and the disruption of services. In some cases, UNAMI could only partially verify certain incidents. UNAMI has also received, without being able to verify, reports of large numbers of casualties along with unknown numbers of persons who have died from secondary effects of violence after having fled their homes due to exposure to the elements, lack of water, food, medicines and health care. For these reasons, the figures reported have to be considered as the absolute minimum

    In other failures for Haider al-Abadi, Press TV reports there are now over 800 confirmed cases of cholera in Iraq.

    Reuters reports that July saw Haider al-Abadi refusing to pay the salaries to workers -- "pensioners, civil servants, doctors, teachers, nurses, police and workers at state-owned companies" -- in Iraqi cities controlled by the Islamic State.  And what are people saying about this move?

    The Iraqi government’s decision to choke off funding for Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) by cutting off all wages and pensions in cities controlled by the group has plunged people into hardship and could help the insurgents tighten their grip, officials and residents say.

    Way to go, Haider al-Abadi, way to make things even worse.