Friday, December 25, 2015

Where things stand

First up, Merry Christmas!

Secondly, here's Hillary Clinton and Martin O'Malley via Isaiah's  "Who's Debate Is It Anyway?"


The moderators really shut O'Malley out of the debate.

Even Bernie Sanders didn't fare so well.

They let bossy ass Hillary Clinton call all the shots.

She talked over everyone and when David Muir or Martha Raddatz would finally tell her it wasn't her turn, she'd just keep yacking.

She never shuts up.

Can you image what a presidential address from her would be like?

Hillary is hideous.  No one should support her campaign.

Okay, at WSWS, Andre Damon breaks down where things stand today:

This holiday season, people all over the world will celebrate Christmas by expressing sentiments of tolerance and brotherhood. They will exchange gifts and cards, and try to smile a little more, in the distant hope that their individual benevolence might somehow extricate the world, at least somewhat, from the mire it is lodged in.
These genuine sentiments are, of course, goaded on by a good deal of official promotion. Anyone visiting a shopping mall or airport in much of the world over the holiday period will hear Christmas carols piped through loudspeakers extolling “peace on Earth, goodwill to men,” and exhorting them to have a “Merry Christmas.”
The holiday season is always a time where hypocrisy is pressed into service by the political establishment, a “Christmas spirit” created from the collision between religion and frantic merchandising. But there have been few holiday seasons so unhappy for so many people, and in which the spirit of tolerance and benevolence supposedly epitomized in the “Christmas spirit” clashes so obviously with reality.
Not since the end of the Second World War seventy years ago has the absence of “peace on Earth” been so stark, or “goodwill to men” so absent. Numerous public figures, from the Pope to the Prince of Jordan to The New York Times opinion page, have declared that the Third World War has already begun.
American warplanes and drones swarm the Middle East and North Africa, bombing, killing and maiming indiscriminately and driving millions from their homes. President Obama, according to press reports, will spend his holiday mulling over plans to further expand bombing in populated areas in Syria, which will radically expand civilian casualties.
Every major combatant in the first two world wars is again on the warpath. Germany and Japan, are feverishly remilitarizing to assert their influence on the European continent and in East Asia, respectively.

And that's the cold hard truth.

Even if the Cult of St. Barack refuses to admit it.

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

Wednesday, December 23, 2015.  Chaos and violence continue, the Ramadi effort has already hit a snag, the Islamic State is popular in Mosul, Barack Obama finally weighs in on the persecution of Iraqi Christians, and much more.

Susanna Capelouto and Hamdi Alkhshali (CNN) note, "Iraq's military is just a half-mile away from the ISIS-held government compound in Ramadi in Iraq's battle to retake the city from the terrorist group, the head of Iraq's joint forces said on state television."  Maher Chmaytelli (REUTERS) adds, "Iraq's army chief was quoted on Wednesday as saying he needed only days to drive Islamic State from Ramadi, the city whose fall in May exposed the weakness of the Baghdad government and dampened hopes of restoring control in the north and west."

But the march to success, as has repeatedly been the case so far, hit a bit of a snag.

 Ghassan Adnan and Matt Bradley (WALL ST. JOURNAL) report:

A new push by Iraqi forces to retake Ramadi appeared to stall Wednesday in the face of resistance from Islamic State fighters, a day after government troops made quick progress toward the center of the strategic city just 60 miles from the capital.
By Wednesday afternoon, Iraqi forces had paused within 800 yards of a former government compound in the city center that they are aiming to recapture, said Gen. Talib Sheghati, head of Iraq’s Joint Operations Command which coordinates with the U.S.-led coalition battling Islamic State.

Gen. Sheghati said the Iraqi forces were working to defuse bomb-rigged homes and buildings, land mines and improvised explosive devices buried under roadways.

The Iraqi forces vastly outnumber the Islamic State in Ramadi.

But even that's not apparently enough to get them to press forward.

This morning,  Falih Hassan and Kareem Fahim (NEW YORK TIMES) reported that even more Iraqi troops are being sent to Ramadi (yesterday, there were 10,000 -- for the 350 Islamic State fighters) and that, according to US military spokesperson Col Steven Warren, "there had been no significant developments in the battle to reclaim the city."

All of those forces, a bridge via the US and bombings from war planes?

Still not enough, apparently.

Today, the US Defense Dept announced:

Strikes in Iraq
Attack, bomber, fighter and remotely piloted aircraft conducted 24 strikes in Iraq, coordinated with and in support of Iraq’s government:

-- Near Huwayjah, one strike struck an ISIL tactical unit.

-- Near Habbaniyah, five strikes struck four ISIL staging areas and an ISIL headquarters.

-- Near Mosul, eight strikes struck six separate ISIL tactical units and destroyed an ISIL building, an ISIL crane, an ISIL bulldozer, two ISIL excavators, two ISIL vehicles, five ISIL fighting positions, an ISIL heavy machine gun, an ISIL light machine gun and an ISIL checkpoint and wounded an ISIL fighter.

-- Near Ramadi, four strikes struck two separate ISIL tactical units and destroyed an ISIL bunker, 19 ISIL fighting positions, three ISIL sniper positions, an ISIL anti-air artillery piece, four ISIL rocket-propelled grenade positions, two ISIL recoilless rifles, two ISIL grenade launcher positions, two ISIL heavy machine gun positions, three ISIL command-and-control nodes, two ISIL bed-down locations, an ISIL staging area, cratered an ISIL-used road and denied ISIL access to terrain.

-- Near Sinjar, one strike struck an ISIL tactical unit.

-- Near Sultan Abdallah, one strike struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed an ISIL fighting position.

-- Near Fallujah, one strike destroyed an ISIL bunker.

-- Near Kisik, two strikes struck two separate ISIL tactical units and destroyed three ISIL fighting positions.

-- Near Tal Afar, one strike struck an ISIL tactical unit.

Task force officials define a strike as one or more kinetic events that occur in roughly the same geographic location to produce a single, sometimes cumulative, effect. Therefore, officials explained, a single aircraft delivering a single weapon against a lone ISIL vehicle is one strike, but so is multiple aircraft delivering dozens of weapons against buildings, vehicles and weapon systems in a compound, for example, having the cumulative effect of making those targets harder or impossible for ISIL to use. Accordingly, officials said, they do not report the number or type of aircraft employed in a strike, the number of munitions dropped in each strike, or the number of individual munition impact points against a target.

Those war planes, bombing non-stop since August -- of 2014!  And achieving so little -- so little that some might even argue they've achieved nothing.

in the terminal where dreams
let so many tickets through
when strangers look in faces
and see somebody there they knew
you might meet me tomorrow
as all the lights are blooming green
and you're feeling a little lonely,
a little sad, a little mean
remember a place
inside of that hotel
where you could do anything you want to do
you couldn't tell
If it's more trouble than it's worth
ah, this is more trouble than it's worth
-- "Living It Up," written by Rickie Lee Jones, first appears on her album Pirates

More trouble than it's worth?


June 19, 2014, US President Barack Obama insisted that Iraq's crises required a political solution.  But he's refused to address that issue.  He's poured everything into a military approach and ignored diplomacy.

And there's been no real advance.

Ruth Pollard (SYDNEY MORNING HERALD) explains:

 Even if Iraqi forces were to reoccupy all of the areas now controlled by IS and the Syrian city of Raqqa – now its unofficial capital – was liberated, without serious reform a group like the IS and all the chaos it causes will just re-emerge from the ashes, warns says Zaid al-Ali, an Iraqi lawyer and author of the book The Struggle for Iraq's Future.
"Without serious security sector reform and serious justice sector reform in Iraq there is absolutely no point engaging in any of these initiatives," says Ali, also a visiting lecturer and fellow at Princeton University.
Instead of dealing with the threat of Islamic State militants by undertaking military and police operations based on good intelligence, Iraqi forces were randomly rounding people up, arresting them and forcing them to pay bribes to get out.
"The justice system is equally shambolic … in most cases the most senior leadership of [IS] get away scot free while the people who cannot afford to pay bribes are left behind," Ali says.

The government's persecution of the Sunnis is why the Islamic State got its foothold in Iraq to begin with.  As world governments ignored the targeting of Sunnis, the only group that appeared to stand up for them was the Islamic State.

Whis is why Shane Dixon Kavanaugh (VOCATIV) reports:

Research published by IIACCS, a reputable polling firm in Iraq, shows that support for ISIS among residents living in Mosul, the nation’s second-largest city, has steadily increased since it fell to the terror group 18 months ago. The survey also found that residents’ doubts about the Iraqi Army, and about the aggressive anti-ISIS air campaign led by the United States, are lingering.
Nearly 40 percent of people surveyed said ISIS represents their views and interests. That’s up from just 10 percent in June 2014, the month the militants seized control of the city. Around 34 percent of participants said that they now support the Islamic State’s self-declared caliphate and 39 percent would like jihadists to maintain control of Mosul.

You have to address the root causes.  If you don't, you will never defeat the Islamic State.

Embedded image permalink

Children carry through the streets
A brilliant painted star
Angels gather 'round the hearth
Strumming on guitars
Men of great renown and faith
Say prayers on boulevards
It's the night before Christmas
But you don’t have to be an angel
To sing harmony
And you don't have to be a child
To love the mystery
And you don’t have to be a wise man
On bended knee
The heart of this Christmas is in you and me
The night before Christmas
The night before Christmas 
-- "The Night Before Christmas," written by Carly Simon, first appears on the soundtrack for Nora Ephron's THIS IS MY LIFE

On this topic, Saif Hameed (REUTERS) reports:

With Christmas falling this year a day after Prophet Mohammad's birthday, the city of Baghdad is holding Christmas celebrations in a sign of brotherhood with Iraq's hard-pressed Christian community.
Fireworks will illuminate the Tigris river every night of the week and a 25-metre (82 feet) Christmas tree has been set up in Zawraa public park. In Zayuna camp, in the east of the city, children listened to Christmas carols on Wednesday and danced with Santa Claus to Iraqi songs. 

And about there, reporting ends and whoring begins.

They're all whoring.  One outlet after another.

The Islamic State, we're told has destroyed life for Christians in Iraq.

They apparently believe news consumers are so stupid that they can't remember a year ago or two.

Every year, the press has reported how difficult things are for Iraqi Christians.

Long before the Islamic State emerged, the troubles were via Shi'ite militias.

Barack has long been accused of avoiding the persecution of Iraqi Christians -- among others.  But this year, he issued a statement.

The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release

Statement by the President on Persecuted Christians at Christmas

During this season of Advent, Christians in the United States and around the world are preparing to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ.  At this time, those of us fortunate enough to live in countries that honor the birthright of all people to practice their faith freely give thanks for that blessing.  Michelle and I are also ever-mindful that many of our fellow Christians do not enjoy that right, and hold especially close to our hearts and minds those who have been driven from their ancient homelands by unspeakable violence and persecution.
In some areas of the Middle East where church bells have rung for centuries on Christmas Day, this year they will be silent; this silence bears tragic witness to the brutal atrocities committed against these communities by ISIL. 
We join with people around the world in praying for God’s protection for persecuted Christians and those of other faiths, as well as for those brave men and women engaged in our military, diplomatic, and humanitarian efforts to alleviate their suffering and restore stability, security, and hope to their nations.  As the old Christmas carol reminds us:
The Wrong shall fail,
The Right prevail,
With peace on earth, good-will to men.

So there you have it, when he can't blame the persecution on the Islamic State, he has nothing to say.  When he can blame it on IS, he rushes to finally weigh in.

Changing topics, Taylor Weatherby (HOLLYWOOD LIFE) notes:

Congrats are in order for Shaima Qassem Abdulrahman! The 20-year-old student was recently crowned Miss Iraq, becoming the first to receive the honor since 1972. But as her country is facing some turmoil, Shaima’s win comes with several death threats for her involvement with the competition. Despite the scary circumstances, the newest Miss Iraq is hopeful that her title will have a positive affect on all Iraqi women.

Kate Storey covers the for ELLE here.  Faisal Al Yafai (THE NATIONAL) finds the whole thing to be a sham and offers:

It is a country where, while young Iraqis walk down a catwalk, it is still unsafe for women (and men) to walk down the street.
Where the number of women in work has plummeted since the US invasion. Where female political representation, though mandated by law, is contorted by political parties. Where the legal system cannot provide justice for the crimes committed against women by both Iraqis and Americans.
It isn't clear how any of those issues will be progressed by young girls wearing nice clothes and parading on a stage in front of judges. Nor is it especially clear how their doing so constitutes a “celebration of life”.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Joe Biden, you threw us to the she-wolf!

Almost Christmas!!!!!

We should have stayed on the mainland.

We flew back home and even though I wanted to go to Mom's and all, flying back out of Hawaii this week was so much harder than in November.

The packing was crazier (we didn't pack gifts, we had those mailed already).

The flying was crazier.

It was all just crazy, crazy, crazy.

It was so f-ed up, I should call it Hillary Clinton.

Did you catch the debate on Saturday?

What a frightmare.
Isaiah live cartooned the debate and this is his  "Hillary's Debate Strategy."


She just would not shut up, would she?

She clearly things every turn is her turn.

She clearly never learned to play well with others.

She spoke out of turn, talked over people, ignored the moderators when they told her it wasn't her turn.

It was very irritating.

And very telling.

Hillary's really the best the Democratic Party can do?

In what world.

Joe Biden, you could have saved us!!!!

Now we're going to need to hope that a Jack Anderson or something emerges.

New content at Third:

And Dallas and the following wrote it:

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.

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

Tuesday, December 22, 2015.  Chaos and violence continue, Ramadi is supposedly on the verge of liberation or 'liberation,'  Hillary Clinton's desire for a no-fly zone over Syria gets a robust reply, and much more.

What I'm trying to say is
It's time 
To get in the way
It's crazy 
That this thing is still going on
I can't believe
This thing's still going on 
And it goes
Na na na na na na 
I hate the war
Na na na na na na 
I hate the war
Na na na na na na
I hate the war
-- "I Hate The War" (written by Greg Goldberg, on The Ballet's Mattachine!)

This morning on CNN, reciter Barbara Starr made an ass out of herself with a recitation of factoids about Iraq which included 500 Islamic State fighters were thought to be holed up in Ramadi and that Haider al-Abadi, prime minister of Iraq, had amassed 10,000 troops to take them on as the Iraqi forces finally may be about to enter Ramadi (the last five months have been non-stop failure for them in this mission).  [In a report on CNN in the afternoon, she dropped the number of Islamic State fighters in Ramadi to 350.]  She failed to note how ridiculous the odds yet again were -- 20 Iraqi forces for ever Islamic State member and though she was eager to note that there was resistance in Iraq to US forces, she failed to pin down where that resistance comes from.

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi has signaled to the US government that he himself is willing to have US forces on the ground in combat.  He's also said this would be a hard sell.



Are the Kurds wanting the US out of Iraq?


Okay, then the Sunnis?


The Sunnis have been wanting more US involvement for years now.

The why of that goes to the hard sell.

Sunnis have argued more US involvement could end the persecution of the Sunnis.

Persecution by whom?

Hard line, radical Shi'ites.

Such as the one who leads the Bard terrorists -- popularly referred to as the Badr militia or Badr brigade.

(And let's all pretend we've never heard of the Badr brigade's death squads.)

I don't want US troops on the ground in Iraq.

And reasons for that desire include that this is Iraq's battle and the US government needs to stay out of it (and stop propping up the figure head government that they have imposed).

But Shi'ites like Bard terrorist leader Hadi al-Amiri don't want US forces on the ground for a different reason.

Their actions in 'liberated' areas have been destructive -- to put it mildly.

They have carried out attacks on Sunni civilians in the name of 'revenge' (the Islamic State is a Sunni organization).  They have burned Sunni homes, they have looted.

And they have killed for sport.
As Kirk H. Sowell noted in August at Carnegie Endowment for International Peace:
Badr—founded in the 1980s in Iran, its continued supporter—is not only the most important of the various armed groups composing the Popular Mobilization Forces (Hashd). It also symbolizes how Iraqis’ hopes for a democratic country governed by the rule of law have given way to a political system that is expressly sectarian and increasingly resembles a garrison state. No other militia-political party was better prepared to capitalize on the collapse of Iraqi security forces in northern Iraq last June. Badr’s military commander, Ameri—who tried and failed to get an appointment as minister of defense or interior, in part due to U.S. opposition—has been transportation minister since Maliki’s second cabinet and is now a parliamentarian. Under the new government of Haider al-Abadi, Ameri was able to get a member of his party, Mohammed Salem al-Ghabban, confirmed as interior minister. Prior to leaving office, Maliki had made Ameri the military governor of Diyala—an informal appointment usually described euphemistically as al-masuul al-amani (the security official)—which he remains to this day.
Ameri, now on leave from parliament, has captured far more renown in his militia commander role than he ever did as a cabinet minister. In October 2014, Ameri was often described as the “leader” of the militia-led offensive to subdue Jurf al-Sakhr, a mostly Sunni area south of Baghdad, and consolidate Shia control around the capital. By February 2015 Badr had secured Diyala, whose narrow Sunni Arab majority is nestled between Baghdad and Iran. Badr and other militias sustained criticism that they were engaging in retribution attacks and attempting to cleanse the Sunni population from these areas. But the ministry of human rights—also held by a Badrist, Mohammed Mahdi al-Bayati—sent a senior official to speak at Badr’s February 16 celebration of their victory in Diyala and defend the conduct of the Badr-led Hashd.
Ameri’s military preeminence continued in March with the launch of the operation to liberate Tikrit and northern Salahuddin. Iran, through Badr, initially played more of a role in the offensive than Iraqi leaders did, and photos of the infamous Quds Force commander Qassem Soleimani sometimes appeared alongside Ameri himself, dominating media coverage. Yet the militia-led offensive was forced to step back from Tikrit to let the U.S.-led international coalition conduct airstrikes against dug-in jihadis, allowing the formal security services—army and federal police—to lead the liberation of the city. Although Prime Minister Abadi initially held back the militias in Anbar out of fear of sectarian conflict, he gave way after the security forces defending the provincial capital of Ramadi collapsed on May 17. Ameri promptly took the lead as “field commander” of the new Anbar offensive, only to decide in early June—apparently entirely on his own—to shift focus to Fallujah, which lies between Ramadi and Baghdad. 
The videos of abuse are all over the internet.

Briefly, they were of momentary interest -- remember that?
From the March 23rd snapshot:

ABC News aired an important report March 11th and a second one March 12th. March 12's report is transcribed below:

David Muir: Now to new fall out after our ABC investigation last night. It involves the fight against ISIS known for those awful videos, lining up their victims on the beach.  And now a new concern.  Are some of the Iraqi forces -- trained and paid for by US taxpayers -- using techniques that are just as brutal?  Well the State Dept tonight responding to our report and ABC's chief investigative reporter Brian Ross back on the job tonight.

Brian Ross:  The State Dept called these scenes today serious and disturbing.  Brutal images of what appear to be Iraqi forces and militias carrying out, celebrating, torture and beheadings.  In this torture scene, two US weapons against the wall. This video shows two civilians, pleading for their lives, about to be shot dead.  A man with an American supplied weapon walks by, a gunman with what appears to be the insignia of Iraqi Special Forces caught on tape.

US State Dept spokesperson Jen Psaki: Their behavior must be above reproach or they risk being painted with the same brush as ISIL fighters.

Brian Ross:  The Pentagon says it has already cut off money to some Iraqi units because of gross human rights violations.  But Senator Patrick Leahy says the ABC News report shows the government should cut off money to more Iraqi units.

Senator Patrick Leahy: When you look at at the videos and look at the uniforms being worn, do we really want to say the US condones that?

Brian Ross: US officials tonight tell ABC News that America's top military leader Gen Martin Dempsey, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, has repeatedly warned Iraqi leaders about the conduct of the Iraqi military and the militias that fight with them -- especially because the US is sending $1.5 billion to the Iraqi army and almost 3,000 American troops to help train them.

ABC News was reporting on them much to the displeasure of the White House -- and then the story was disappeared.

It popped up today on CNN's THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER when Jake spoke with US House Rep Tulsi Gabbard, an Iraq War veteran:

Jake Tapper: Congresswoman Gabbard, thanks for joining me.  ISIS took control of Ramadi in May, as you know, that was an embarrassing defeat for the Iraqi army.  If Iraqi forces do succeed in retaking Ramadi this time around, are you confident that this time they can keep ISIS out?

US House Rep Tulsi Gabbard:  Jake, I think it's too early to tell, quite frankly.  I think a lot's going to depend upon how the people there are treated by the occupying forces that will remain there after this battle is won  And that's a key thing that we've got to focus on here because we've seen in previous battles, as you've mentioned, with other cities, where the battle has been won but you've seen how the sectarian tensions have been completely gotten in the way, how the people there in these Sunni communities were persecuted and it allowed the space for ISIS to come back in and take over.

Jake Tapper:  The Pentagon says that the only role the US military is playing in this attempt to retake Ramadi is air support.  Should US troops being doing more?  Maybe on the ground hunting and killing ISIS fighters?

US House Rep Tulsi Gabbard:  Well I think generally what I have long called for is having these hubs throughout the region in different places where our special forces can operate from and conduct quick strike attacks against ISIS, al Qaeda and these other Islamic, extremist groups there in Iraq.  It's going to be critical -- especially in these Sunni communities that you empower the Sunni tribes -- that you equip them and you arm them so that they can fight these fights and then, more importantly for the longterm, that you have a plan in place to govern and secure these territories.  And this is why I've long called for a three-state solution -- arming and empowering the Kurds in the north, the Sunnis and the Shia, and having some form of a three-state semi-autonomous or autonomous region.  And I think similar is what's needed in Syria as well.

Jake Tapper:  Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said, during the Democratic debate, we are where we need to be in the fight against ISIS.  Are we?

US House Rep Tulsi Gabbard:  I would heartily disagree with that.  We've got a strategy that's being executed that frankly doesn't make a whole lot of sense.  I've been calling for an end to the counter-productive, illegal war to overthrow the Syrian government of Asad and very clearly talking about how dangerous a no-fly zone in Syria would be.  We heard the President talk the other day about his opposition to a no-fly zone but at the same time we've heard from many of our presidential candidates how they're advocating for a no-fly zone.  I don't see how your head can be screwed on straight if you're pushing for a no-fly zone.  When we hear people like Chris Christie and Marco Rubio saying that they would shoot down a Russian plane that violates that no-fly zone kicking off a US - Russia war, kicking off an escalation to a world war or a nuclear war.  This is something that points to a very important issue which is the fact that our political leaders are not operating with a military mindset.  This is something that I and other young officers in the military learn early on in the military and that is that before you go out and execute a certain course of action, you've got to look at what are the consequences?  How will your enemy -- or other actors -- react to that course of action?  And, once they react, how will you -- what will your response to that be? And then what will their response to that be?  And continue to go down the line, layer by layer.  So if you look at what's happening in the Middle East now, the mess that we're in today, can be pointed directly, starting with the Bush administration, continuing today, with that lack of military mindset, that lack of foresight -- whether you're talking about overthrowing Saddam in Iraq, Qaddafi in Libya, the Arab Spring, [Hosni] Mubarak in Egypt and now Assad in Syria. 

Gabbard noted the persecution of the Sunnis.

Why can't Starr?

Today, Daniel Victor (NEW YORK TIMES) notes, "A new Miss Iraq was crowned in Baghdad for the first time since 1972 in a contest that faced fierce conservative opposition as well as reported death threats against some participants."

gets first beauty queen since 1972
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gets first beauty queen since 1972
Embedded image permalink

As THE WEEK noted:

 The Miss Iraq beauty pageant has been held for the first time in over 40 years, despite death threats and the dangers of Islamic State.
Shaima Qassem Abdelrahman, 20, became the first woman to claim the title since the first and last Miss Iraq contest took place in 1972. The economics student from Kirkuk is now eligible to represent the country at the Miss Universe contest.

That's more than worth noting.

Both for the risks involved for all the contestants.

For the "X" is puts on the back of the winner Shaima Qassem Abdelrahman.

For the courage of all the contestants.

Salim Essad (CNN) explains:

The pageant website and its Facebook page were inundated with death threats against the women -- so much so that the nearly 200 participants dropped to less than 10.
In the end, Qasim, 20, an economics major at the University of Kirkuk, received her crown to the applause of a supportive audience cheering her on for prevailing against the odds.

It's a big moment.

And it takes a big moron to mess it up.

It takes an idiot -- in fact, it takes a lot of idiots.  Hello, Mycah Hazel whose stupidity is republished by HUFFINGTON POST (where else) as she argues that Miss Iraq is a bold slap in the face of ISIS:

Nevertheless, the 2015 Miss Iraq competition proves not only that there is potential for an Iraq that is above violence but that there are already Iraqi women promoting and working towards this goal, by representing their country even amidst threats of death. There are people beyond government leaders who are seeking to defeat ISIS, not with bombs, but with smiles of Iraqi pride -- smiles of stronger caliber than any AK-47.

As Winona Ryder tells Ethan Hawke in REALITY BITES. "You're bravado is embarrassing."

Here's a clue for Baby Cum Pants Hazel, next time stop using Iraq to whore for the Democratic Party.  You're need to bring up the GOP only
demonstrates your gross ignorance.

As does your xenophobic and condescending statements about Iraqi "pride."

Baby Cum Pants Hazel needs to grasp that Iraq was a haven in the region when it came to women's rights -- before the US-led invasion toppled Saddam Hussein.

She also needs to grasp that the US government put in charge Shi'ite thugs -- intentionally, a country in shock can't fight back -- who decimated women's rights.  That the prime minister until 2014, Nouri al-Maliki, appeased his Shi'ite thugs by refusing to nominate a single woman to his January 2011 cabinet of ministers.

She needs to grasp that the women he did embrace spoke out against women's rights and tried to impose dress codes.

She needs to grasp that Iraqi women have been fighting not only bullets and bombs, but the US-led destruction of their rights.

And, guess what, Baby Cum Pants Hazel?

None of the above  -- nor the beatings and rapes Iraqi women endured in prisons under Nouri al-Maliki -- was carried out by the Islamic State.

So buy a clue and sit your tired ass down.

You thought you had something to share.

You didn't.

Next time, grasp that Iraqi women are strong and don't deserve your xenophobia or your attempts to use them as pawns to attack the Republican Party.

Before you compose more slash fiction for the Democratic Party, you damn well better grasp that Iraqi women have been fighting the US occupation's attacks on their rights for years now.  They've taken to the streets to do so.  If that's surprising to you, maybe it goes to your own inherent weakness.

Today, the US Defense Dept announced:

Strikes in Iraq
Attack, fighter, bomber, and remotely piloted aircraft conducted 17 strikes in Iraq, coordinated with and in support of the Iraqi government:
-- Near Fallujah, two strikes struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed a bomb-making facility and wounded two ISIL fighters.
-- Near Kisik, a strike suppressed ISIL rocket fire.
-- Near Mosul, seven strikes struck six separate ISIL tactical units and destroyed an ISIL building, 12 ISIL fighting positions, an ISIL heavy machine gun, two ISIL vehicles, five ISIL bunkers, and seven ISIL assembly areas.
-- Near Qayyarah, a strike destroyed an ISIL excavator.
-- Near Ramadi, six strikes struck two separate ISIL tactical units, denied ISIL access to terrain, wounded two ISIL fighters and destroyed four ISIL command and control nodes, four ISIL weapons caches, two ISIL buildings, and an ISIL vehicle bomb.

Task force officials define a strike as one or more kinetic events that occur in roughly the same geographic location to produce a single, sometimes cumulative, effect. Therefore, officials explained, a single aircraft delivering a single weapon against a lone ISIL vehicle is a strike, but so is multiple aircraft delivering dozens of weapons against buildings, vehicles and weapon systems in a compound, for example, having the cumulative effect of making those targets harder or impossible for ISIL to use. Accordingly, officials said, they do not report the number or type of aircraft employed in a strike, the number of munitions dropped in each strike, or the number of individual munition impact points against a target.

Last week, US war planes bombed (and killed) Iraqi forces -- by mistake.  And today?  REUTERS reports, "About 20 people, including at least 12 civilians, were killed on Monday in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul, in two air strikes that destroyed houses believed to be used by Islamic State militants, six eyewitnesses and a medical source said."

Monday, December 21, 2015

I like Norman Pollack but . . .


Do we need this?

History does matter but it needs to illuminate today or be in a book -- such as Howard Zinn's books.

If you're not going to hit on today, then just go away.

I'm sorry.

I don't need the 'bravery' of taking on some man who's been dead for decades.

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

Saturday, December 19, 2015.  Chaos and violence continue, the US bombings of Iraq continue, Friday's bombing that killed Iraqi forces remains in the news, Iraq and the Islamic State are topics in the Democratic Party's presidential debate, Hillary Clinton gets caught apparently lying about Donald Trump appearing in Islamic State videos, and much more.

Tonight at St. Anselm College in New Hampshire, the three candidates vying for the Democratic Part's 2016 presidential nomination -- Bernie Sanders, Martin O'Malley and Hillary Clinton -- took the stage for a debate broadcast by ABC NEWS and moderated by Martha Raddatz and David Muir.   Isaiah live cartooned the debate.  He offered "What Bernie Wants for America"

He also offered "Who's Debate Is It Anyway?"

And he offered "Hillary's Debate Strategy."

Fact checking took place after the debate.  The biggest liar?

Apparently Hillary Clinton.  CNN offers:

Reality Check: Clinton on ISIS using Trump videos
By Kristen Holmes, CNN White House producer
Speaking about Donald Trump's proposed ban on Muslims entering the United States, Hillary Clinton said Saturday that ISIS was using video of the businessman to recruit fighters.
"They are going to people showing videos of Donald Trump insulting Islam and Muslims in order to recruit more radical jihadists," Clinton said of the GOP frontrunner during the third Democratic debate hosted by ABC.
It is difficult to speak to all of ISIS's communication, some of which happen in the open on social media sites but others hidden in what's known as the "dark web."
While there have been some tweets and comments posted on ISIS-supported social media referencing Trump's rhetoric, according to information sent recently by SITE Intelligence Groups, there is no evidence that ISIS itself has released videos featuring Trump.
Neither ISIS' main media outlets, nor any ISIS affiliates, have used footage capitalizing on Trump's anti-Muslim language, according to Laith Alkhouri, the co-founder and director of Flashpoint, a group that monitors jihadist activity online. However, Alkhouri noted in comments to CNN on Saturday that Trump's comments do play directly into the recruitment playbook and he has no doubt eventually it could be referenced in official ISIS communications.
Alkhouri said the comments have also been mentioned in top tier ISIS web forums in the dark web. Not too heavily discussed, but they were definitely part of the "news feed, if you will," Alkhouri said.
The Clinton campaign directed CNN to an NBC News story published on December 8, in which the executive director of the SITE Intelligence Group says of ISIS: "They love him from the sense that he is supporting their rhetoric."
"They follow everything Donald Trump says," Rita Katz told NBC. "When he says, 'No Muslims should be allowed in America,' they tell people, 'We told you America hates Muslims and here is proof.' "
Ultimately, however, there is no evidence of ISIS using videos of Donald Trump for recruitment.
Verdict: False

Angie Drobnic Holan (POLITIFACT) also covered the claim:

"We also need to make sure that the really discriminatory messages that Trump is sending around the world don't fall on receptive ears," Clinton said. "He is becoming ISIS's best recruiter. They are going to people showing Donald Trump insulting Islam and Muslims in order to recruit more radical jihadists."
Not having heard that before, our eyebrows went up when we heard Clinton’s comment, and we weren’t alone. The Twittersphere, on both the right and the left, picked up on Clinton’s statement and questioned whether she had any evidence for it.
Extensive Google searches did not turn up any evidence. And the response from the Clinton campaign did not point to any specific videos.
The campaign pointed to an NBC News article that quoted Rita Katz of the SITE Intelligence Group, which monitors the social media activities of Islamic terrorist groups.
"They love him from the sense that he is supporting their rhetoric," she said. "They follow everything Donald Trump says. When he says, 'No Muslims should be allowed in America,' they tell people, 'We told you America hates Muslims and here is proof.' "
The article also quoted David Phillips, director of the Program on Peace-Building and Rights at Columbia University's Institute for the Study of Human Rights, saying that "Trump's incendiary anti-Muslim comments will surely be used by ISIS social media to demonize the United States and attract recruits to fight in Iraq and Syria."
But while such quotes support the notion that ISIS could be making recruiting videos, or will do so, they do not support Clinton’s contention -- offered in the present tense -- that they are currently doing so. tweeted at J.M. Berger, author of the book ISIS: The State of Terror, and Berger tweeted back, "I would be surprised if they had and we didn't hear about it in a big way."

For now, it seems that Clinton has turned speculative left-of-center rhetoric into fact. At PolitiFact, the burden of proof is on the person making the claim. We’ll update our fact-check in the event solid evidence emerges. But for now, that evidence does not exist. The Clinton campaign did not provide any evidence that this is already happening -- only that it could be happening, or that it may in the future. If ISIS was using Trump for recruitment videos, we would expect a frenzy of media coverage over it. We rated this statement False.  

Glenn Kessler and Michelle Ye Hee Lee (WASHINGTON POST) also note the claim:

As evidence, the Clinton campaign pointed to an NBC News report quoting Rita Katz, executive director of the SITE Intelligence Group, which monitors social media activities of Islamic terrorist groups, that Trump’s anti-Muslim rhetoric was a great recruiting tool for ISIS.
“They love him from the sense that he is supporting their rhetoric,” Katz told NBC. “They love him from the sense that he is supporting their rhetoric.” She added: “They follow everything Donald Trump says. When he says, ‘No Muslims should be allowed in America,’ they tell people, ‘We told you America hates Muslims and here is proof.’”

But Katz did not specifically refer to a video, only to social media. We couldn’t immediately find evidence such a video yet existed.

From the transcript at THE WASHINGTON POST, we'll note this section of the debate on the Islamic State:

RADDATZ: Thank you. I do want to move to the fight against ISIS.


RADDATZ: For the people of New Hampshire, the brutality of ISIS is personal. James Foley grew up here. The first hostage, a journalist, brutally executed last year. You've all said ISIS is a ruthless enemy and must be stopped. Al Qaida as well.
Senator Sanders, you voted to send U.S. ground forces to fight in the coalition to help destroy Al Qaida in Afghanistan. Can you then explain you why don't support sending U.S. combat troops to join a coalition to fight ISIS?

SANDERS: And I also voted and helped lead the effort against the war in Iraq, which will go down in history as one of the worst foreign blunders -- foreign policy blunders in the history of our country.
I voted against the first Gulf War, which set the stage, I believe, for the second Iraq war. And what I believe right now, and I believe this is terribly important, is the United States of America cannot succeed, or be thought of as the policeman of the world, that when there's an international crisis all over the world, in France and in the U.K. Or -- hey, just call up the American military and the American taxpayers, they're going to send the troops.
And if they have to be in the Middle East for 20 or 30 years no problem.

RADDATZ: But why Al Qaida, why not ISIS?

SANDERS: I have a problem with that, Martha. What I believe has got to happen is there must be an international coalition, including Russia, a well-coordinated effort.
But I agree, as I mentioned a moment ago, with King Abdullah. This is a war for the soul of Islam. The troops on the ground should not be American troops. They should be Muslim troops. I believe that countries like Saudi Arabia and Qatar have got to step up to the plate, have got to contribute the money that we need, and the troops that we need, to destroy ISIS with American support.

RADDATZ: The administration has tried that over and over again. If it doesn't work and this threat is so great, what's your plan B?

SANDERS: My plan is to make it work, to tell Saudi Arabia that instead of going to war in Yemen, they, one of the wealthiest countries on Earth, are going to have to go to war against ISIS.
To tell Qatar, that instead of spending $200 billion on the World Cup, maybe they should pay attention to ISIS, which is at their doorstep.

RADDATZ: Secretary Clinton, you too have ruled out a large U.S. combat force, yet you support sending in special operations forces to Syria, and sending those 100 to 200 troops to Iraq to do exploitation kill raids.
We've already lost one Delta Force member in a raid. It has looked very much to me like we're already in ground combat on frequent trips I've made there.
So, are you fooling Americans when you say, we're not putting American combat troops back into Syria or Iraq?

CLINTON: No. Not at all. I think that what we're facing with ISIS is especially complicated. It was a different situation in Afghanistan. We were attacked from Afghanistan. Al Qaida was based in Afghanistan. We went after those who had attacked us.
What's happening in Syria and Iraq is that, because of the failures in the region, including the failure of the prior government in Baghdad, led by Maliki, there has been a resurgence of Sunni activities, as exemplified by ISIS. And we have to support Sunni-Arab and Kurdish forces against ISIS, because I believe it would be not only a strategic mistake for the United States to put ground combat troops in, as opposed to special operators, as opposed to trainers, because that is exactly what ISIS wants.
They've advertised that. They want American troops back in the Middle East. They want American soldiers on the ground fighting them, giving them many more targets, and giving them a great recruiting opportunity.

CLINTON: So, I think it's absolutely wrong policy for us to be even imagining we're going end up putting tens of thousands of American troops into Syria and Iraq to fight ISIS.
And we do have to form a coalition. I know how hard that is. I have formed them. I put together a coalition, including Arabs, with respect to Libya and a coalition to put sanctions onto Iran. And you have to really work hard at it.
And the final thing I would say, bringing Donald Trump back into it, if you're going to put together a coalition in the region to take on the threat of ISIS you don't want to alienate the very countries and people you need to be part of the coalition. And so that is part of the reason why this is so difficult.

RADDATZ: Secretary Clinton, I want -- I want to follow up on that. You do support sending special operations forces there. You support what the president has done already. One of the lessons people draw from Vietnam and war since is that a little force can turn into a little more and a little more. President Obama certainly didn't expect to be sending 30,000 additional troops into Afghanistan the first year of his presidency.
Are you prepared to run the risk of a bigger war to achieve your goals to destroy ISIS, or are you prepared to give up on those goals if it requires a larger force?

CLINTON: Well, I just think you're asking a question with a false choice. I believe if we lead an air coalition, which we are now in the position of doing and intensify it, if we continue to build back up the Iraqi army, which has had some recent success in Ramadi, as you know, if we get back talking to the tribal sheiks in Anbar to try to rebuild those relationships, which were very successful, in going after Al Qaida in Iraq, if we get the Turks to pay more attention to ISIS than they're paying to the Kurds, if we do put together the kind of coalition with the specific tasks that I am outlining, I think we can be successful in destroying ISIS.
So that's what I'm focused on, that's what I've outlined and that's what I would do as president.

RADDATZ: Governor O'Malley.
(APPLAUSE) You've emphasized the need for more human intelligence on the ground. What is it our intelligence community is not doing now that needs to be done?

O'MALLEY: Well, we have invested nowhere near what we should be investing in human intelligence on the ground. And what I'm talking about is not only the covert CIA intelligence, I'm also talking about diplomatic intelligence. I mean, we've seen time and time again, especially in this very troubled region of nation-state failures, and then we have no idea who the next generation of leaders are that are coming forward.
So what I would say is not only do we need to be thinking in military terms, but we do our military a disservice when we don't greatly dial up the investment that we are making in diplomacy and human intelligence and when we fail to dial up properly, the role of sustainable development in all of this. As president, I would make the administrator of USAID an actual cabinet member. We have to act in a much more whole of government approach, as General Dempsey said.
And I do believe, and I would disagree somewhat with one of my colleagues, this is a genocidal threat. They have now created a safe haven in the vacuum that we allowed to be partly and because of our blunders, to be created to be created in the areas of Syria and Iraq. We cannot allow safe havens, and as a leader of moral nations around this Earth, we need to come up with new alliances and new ways to prepare for these new sorts of threats, because Martha, this will not be the last region where nation-states fail.
And you've seen a little bit of this emerging in the -- in the African Union and the things that they have done to better stabilize Somalia. We need to pay attention here in Central America as well. So this is the new type of threats that we're facing and we need to lead as a nation in confronting it and putting together new alliances and new coalitions.

CLINTON: Well, I just want to quickly add...

RADDATZ: Thank you.

CLINTON: Martha, that -- you know, one of the reasons why I have advocated for a no-fly zone is in order to create those safe refuges within Syria, to try to protect people on the ground both from Assad's forces, who are continuing to drop barrel bombs, and from ISIS. And of course, it has to be de-conflicted with the Russians, who are also flying in that space.
I'm hoping that because of the very recent announcement of the agreement at the Security Council, which embodies actually an agreement that I negotiated back in Geneva in June of 2012, we're going to get a diplomatic effort in Syria to begin to try to make a transition. A no-fly zone would prevent the outflow of refugees and give us a chance to have some safe spaces.

RADDATZ: Secretary Clinton, I'd like to go back to that if I could. ISIS doesn't have aircraft, Al Qaida doesn't have aircraft. So would you shoot down a Syrian military aircraft or a Russian airplane?

CLINTON: I do not think it would come to that. We are already de-conflicting air space. We know...

RADDATZ: But isn't that a decision you should make now, whether...

CLINTON: No, I don't think so. I am advocating...

RADDATZ: ... if you're advocating this?

CLINTON: I am advocating the no-fly zone both because I think it would help us on the ground to protect Syrians; I'm also advocating it because I think it gives us some leverage in our conversations with Russia.
Now that Russia has joined us in the Security Council, has adopted an agreement that we hashed out a long day in Geneva three years ago, now I think we can have those conversations. The no-fly zone, I would hope, would be also shared by Russia. If they will begin to turn their military attention away from going after the adversaries of Assad toward ISIS and put the Assad future on the political and diplomatic track, where it belongs.


MUIR: I want to take this to Senator -- I'm going to take this to Senator Sanders next, because I think there...


SANDERS: I have a difference of opinion with Secretary Clinton on this. Our differences are fairly deep on this issue. We disagreed on the war in Iraq. We both listened to the information from Bush and Cheney. I voted against the war.
But I think -- and I say this with due respect -- that I worry too much that Secretary Clinton is too much into regime change and a little bit too aggressive without knowing what the unintended consequences might be.
Yes, we could get rid of Saddam Hussein, but that destabilized the entire region. Yes, we could get rid of Gadhafi, a terrible dictator, but that created a vacuum for ISIS. Yes, we could get rid of Assad tomorrow, but that would create another political vacuum that would benefit ISIS. So I think, yeah, regime change is easy, getting rid of dictators is easy. But before you do that, you've got to think about what happens the day after. And in my view, what we need to do is put together broad coalitions to understand that we're not going to have a political vacuum filled by terrorists, that, in fact, we are going to move steadily -- and maybe slowly -- toward democratic societies, in terms of Assad, a terrible dictator. But I think in Syria the primary focus now must be on destroying ISIS and working over the years to get rid of Assad. That's the secondary issue.

CLINTON: That is exactly...

MUIR: Senator, thank you.

CLINTON: That is exactly what I just said and what I just described.

MUIR: Yeah, but, Secretary Clinton -- Secretary Clinton...

CLINTON: And that is important, because now we have a U.N. Security Council that will enable us to do that. And, you know, with all due respect, Senator, you voted for regime change with respect to Libya. You joined the Senate in voting to get rid of Gadhafi, and you asked that there be a Security Council validation of that with a resolution.
All of these are very difficult issues. I know that; I've been dealing with them for a long time. And, of course, we have to continue to do what is necessary when someone like Gadhafi, a despot with American blood on his hands, is overturned. But I'll tell you what would have happened, if we had not joined with our European partners and our Arab partners to assist the people in Libya, you would be looking at Syria. Now the Libyans are turning their attention to try to dislodge ISIS from its foothold and begin to try to move together to have a unified nation.

SANDERS: I was not the secretary of state...

MUIR: Senator Sanders, Senator Sanders, hold on. One moment, please. I'm going to ask the secretary here, because there does appear to be some daylight here between the policies, at least in respect to when you take out Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Right now or do you wait? Do you tackle ISIS first?
You have said, Secretary Clinton, that you come to the conclusion that we have to proceed on both fronts at once. We heard from the senator just this week that we must put aside the issue of how quickly we get rid of Assad and come together with countries, including Russia and Iran, to destroy ISIS first. Is he wrong?

CLINTON: I think we're missing the point here. We are doing both at the same time.

MUIR: But that's what he's saying, we should put that aside for now and go after ISIS.

CLINTON: Well, I don't agree with that, because we will not get the support on the ground in Syria to dislodge ISIS if the fighters there who are not associated with ISIS, but whose principal goal is getting rid of Assad, don't believe there is a political, diplomatic channel that is ongoing. We now have that. We have the U.N. Security Council adopting a resolution that lays out a transition path. It's very important we operate on both at the same time.
And let me just say a word about coalition-building, because I've heard Senator Sanders say this. I know how hard it is to build coalitions. I think it would be a grave mistake to ask for any more Iranian troops inside Syria. That is like asking the arsonist to come and pour more gas on the fire.
The Iranians getting more of a presence in Syria, linking with Hezbollah, their proxy in Lebanon, would threaten Israel and would make it more difficult for us to move on a path to have a transition that at some point would deal with Assad's future.


SANDERS: I happen to think...

O'MALLEY: I'd like to offer a...

MUIR: She says we have to proceed on both fronts at once.

SANDERS: Secretary Clinton is right. This is a complicated issue. I don't think anyone has a magical solution.
But this is what I do believe. Yes, of course Assad is a terrible dictator. But I think we have got to get our foreign policies and priorities right. The immediate -- it is not Assad who is attacking the United States. It is ISIS. And ISIS is attacking France and attacking Russian airliners.
The major priority, right now, in terms of our foreign and military policy should be the destruction of ISIS.
And I think -- and I think we bring together that broad coalition, including Russia, to help us destroy ISIS. And work on a timetable to get rid of Assad, hopefully through Democratic elections. First priority, destroy ISIS.

MUIR: Senator sanders, thank you.

O'MALLEY: May I offer a different generation's perspective on this?

MUIR: Governor O'Malley?

O'MALLEY: During the Cold War -- during the Cold War, we got into a bad habit of always looking to see who was wearing the jersey of the communists, and who was wearing the U.S. jersey. We got into a bad habit of creating big bureaucracies, old methodologies, to undermine regimes that were not friendly to the United States. Look what we did in Iran with Mosaddegh. And look at the results that we're still dealing with because of that. I would suggest to you that we need to leave the Cold War behind us, and we need to put together new alliances and new approaches to dealing with this, and we need to restrain ourselves.
I mean, I know Secretary Clinton was gleeful when Gadhafi was torn apart. And the world, no doubt is a better place without him. But look, we didn't know what was happening next. And we fell into the same trap with Assad, saying -- as if it's our job to say, Assad must go.
We have a role to play in this world. But we need to leave the Cold War and that sort of antiquated thinking behind.

MUIR: But -- you criticized -- you criticized Secretary Clinton for what came next. What's your proposal for what comes after Assad?

O'MALLEY: I believe that we need to focus on destroying ISIL. That is the clear and present danger. And I believe that we can springboard off of this new U.N. resolution, and we should create, as Secretary Clinton indicated, and I agree with that, that there should be a political process.
But we shouldn't be the ones declaring that Assad must go. Where did it ever say in the Constitution, where is it written that it's the job of the United States of America or its secretary of State to determine when dictators have to go?

We have a role to play in this world. But it is not the world -- the role of traveling the world looking for new monsters to destroy. 

In TIME magazine's online poll, with  19,351 participants voting, 84% say Senator Bernie Sanders won the debate.

Friday,  AFP reported, "Iraq's joint operations command said 10 Iraqi soldiers were killed or wounded on Friday by so-called friendly fire from US-led coalition aircraft west of Baghdad."

Not just from the US-led coalition aircraft, from a US war plane.  US Secretary of Defense Ash Cater made that clear when speaking today on board the USS Kearsarge.

SECRETARY OF DEFENSE ASH CARTER: I just wanted to recap the last week. We've been to many of the locations from which this multi-axis attack on ISIL is going to be launched. As you know, I'm looking for ways to accelerate our campaign. We've identified a number of them in the course of travels to Iraq, to Turkey, even to Afghanistan yesterday. But this is a multi-mission trip, and this visit to the Gulf illustrates, first, the campaign against ISIL. I'll come back to that in the minute. But we can't forget there's a larger mission of deterrence, maintaining freedom of navigation, countering Iranian maligned influence. So these vessels here have a number of missions out here.

But countering ISIL is one of the reasons for our forces in this region. In that connection, it was very, very significant to me to be able to visit the Charles de Gaulle. That's the French vessel which has been participating in air strikes against ISIL, the first mission, and is now down here in the Gulf second mission, keeping the peace, deterring aggression, ensuring freedom of navigation here, during a period of time when there's not an American aircraft carrier here, there's a French aircraft carrier. And that shows you how close our cooperation is.

I had an opportunity this morning to speak to the French Defense Minister Le Drian, who allowed me to go aboard his vessel, and sadly wasn't able to be here himself. He's meeting with President Hollande at this moment in Paris, so he couldn't be here. But we talked this morning. And we are completely aligned with France on the mission of defeating ISIL, the need to do so in Syria and Iraq, France's willingness to do more as we do more, both in the air and on the ground and here at sea, and both militarily and politically, we and France are completely aligned.

And that's the way it should be. That's the way it has been. And I was very gratified to see that in action out aboard the Charles de Gaulle, which, by the way, is commanding Task Force 50 out here now. So it's -- no kidding, there are Americans who are subordinate to French command out here. That's how close our cooperation is.

So, with that, let me take your questions.

Q: Can you tell us about your call with the Iraqi prime minister?

SEC. CARTER: Oh, I'm sorry. I left that out. Yes. Yes, I also had the opportunity to speak to Prime Minister Abadi this morning. I was conveying our condolences on the loss of lives of Iraqi servicemembers last night. I explained to him our regrets, and he and I agreed that this was an event that we both regretted and that there would be an investigation of it, but that these kinds of things happen when you're fighting side-by-side, as we are, and we recommitted ourselves to that campaign against ISIL.

So this is a regrettable incident. We both know that. These things happen in war. And he and I both expressed regret over the incident and also determination to continue the campaign to expel ISIL from Iraqi territory.

Q: Was it an American...

STAFF: Hold on a second.

Q: Was it an American aircraft that did this?

STAFF: Let's go Missy first.

Q: Just a follow-up (inaudible) what do you know about the incident and how it occurred? And secondly, Prime Minister Abadi is already under pressure from some in the Iraqi political space who oppose American -- deepening American involvement in the campaign in Iraq. What's your response to the potential for this to increase that pressure on Prime Minister Abadi?

SEC. CARTER: Well, I wanted to assure Prime Minister Abadi that I was aware of this incident, that we regretted this incident. I don't want to go into it, because you never know whether you know all the facts of an incident from the beginning. But it has all indications of being a mistake of the kind that can happen on a dynamic battlefield between two forces, ours and Iraqi forces, that are working so closely together.

In a way, this is a sign of how closely we are working together. And an accident happened. It's tragic. I expressed our condolences. But he and I both recognize that things like this can happen in war.

Q: Yeah, but what about the political effect this could have in terms for Prime Minister Abadi who's already under pressure from some people who oppose the American military participation?

SEC. CARTER: Well, the government of Iraq and Prime Minister Abadi are committed, as we are, to an effective decentralized governance of a single state of Iraq, and that includes importantly the common mission of defeating ISIL. This shows the -- this incident shows that things happen in wartime, but also the closeness of our relationship on the battlefield, and then shared with Prime Minister Abadi, as well. And I hope Iraqis will understand that this is a reflection of things that happened in combat, but it's also a reflection of how closely we are working with the government of Prime Minister Abadi towards a common objective.

Q: So it was an American aircraft?

SEC. CARTER: It was an American -- that's the -- I want to be very careful. That's the information I have now. It seems to be the case and, again, seems to be a mistake that involves both sides, and regrettable. It happens when you're working this closely together.

Today, the US Defense Dept issued the following announcements on bombings of Iraq:

Strikes in Iraq
Attack, bomber and fighter aircraft conducted 17 strikes in Iraq, coordinated with and in support of the Iraqi government:

-- Near Fallujah, two strikes struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed two ISIL vehicles, four ISIL fighting positions, and an ISIL front end loader. One strike is currently under investigation for a potential friendly fire incident.

-- Near Kirkuk, one strike struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed an ISIL excavator and wounded ISIL fighters.

-- Near Makhmur, one strike struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed an ISIL light machine gun and an ISIL heavy machine gun.

-- Near Mosul, six strikes struck three separate ISIL tactical units and destroyed an ISIL heavy machine gun, two ISIL fighting positions, damaged an ISIL bunker, and suppressed an ISIL heavy machine gun and an ISIL mortar position.

-- Near Ramadi, four strikes struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed an ISIL vehicle borne improvised explosive device (VBIED), an ISIL building, nine ISIL fighting positions, an ISIL sniper position, an ISIL staging area, and denied ISIL access to terrain.

-- Near Sinjar, three strikes struck three separate ISIL tactical units and destroyed two ISIL heavy machine guns, and two ISIL fighting positions.

Task force officials define a strike as one or more kinetic events that occur in roughly the same geographic location to produce a single, sometimes cumulative, effect. Therefore, officials explained, a single aircraft delivering a single weapon against a lone ISIL vehicle is a strike, but so is multiple aircraft delivering dozens of weapons against buildings, vehicles and weapon systems in a compound, for example, having the cumulative effect of making those targets harder or impossible for ISIL to use. Accordingly, officials said, they do not report the number or type of aircraft employed in a strike, the number of munitions dropped in each strike, or the number of individual munition impact points against a target.

These bombings have gone on since August of 2014 and yet the Islamic State remains in Iraq.

Let's note Martin O'Malley again from tonight's debate:

O'MALLEY: Well, we have invested nowhere near what we should be investing in human intelligence on the ground. And what I'm talking about is not only the covert CIA intelligence, I'm also talking about diplomatic intelligence. I mean, we've seen time and time again, especially in this very troubled region of nation-state failures, and then we have no idea who the next generation of leaders are that are coming forward.
So what I would say is not only do we need to be thinking in military terms, but we do our military a disservice when we don't greatly dial up the investment that we are making in diplomacy and human intelligence and when we fail to dial up properly, the role of sustainable development in all of this. As president, I would make the administrator of USAID an actual cabinet member. We have to act in a much more whole of government approach, as General Dempsey said.

Despite US President Barack Obama declaring on June 19, 2014 that the only solution to Iraq's crises was a political solution, the White House has failed to use diplomatic power and resorted repeatedly to doing the same thing.