Friday, September 02, 2022

The do-nothings

Roger D. Harris has a long essay at DISSIDENT VOICE and this is an excerpt:

Rather than allowing Trump to fade into the shadows, the Democrats have continued to fan the flames of fear of fascism for their partisan advantage with their liberal constituency. By the same token, though, their publicity helps to mobilize the very right populism that they oppose.

Hence, over a year and a half since the original incident on 1/6/21, the House select investigative committee continued to keep the media spotlight on the former chief executive. And with a professional TV producer for the primetime extravaganza.

Defending “our democracy”

What has happened since that infamous day? The angry Republican mob took some selfies in the Capitol and went home. They never returned.

Meanwhile the Democrats had hundreds of the perpetrators pursued, causing some to be imprisoned. Under Democratic leadership, the US Army – not the civilian police – occupied the streets of the national capital. And new legislation was passed extending police powers to limit protests.

In the name of preserving “our democracy” and fighting fascism, measures that are in fact fascistic were enacted. What ensued under Democratic aegis is not what democracy looks like.

Butters, in another article, calls for a “mass anti-fascist front” against the Republican Party’s assault on voting rights in New York State. He fails to mention the Democrat’s own record of restricting voter choice through their initiative to greatly increase the votes needed for third parties to stay on the ballot in that state. The measure, in effect, denies ballot status to the Green Party.

 The main danger

The Democrats’ championing of de-platforming dissenting voices from social media is for Butters counterposed by the cancel culture of the right. Butters argues that the “main danger” is “the increasingly fascistic power grab by Trump and the Republican Party” in contrast to what he characterizes as the concern with the “deep state.”

Butters dismisses the love affair of Democrats with the FBI and CIA. However, the “deep state” is the coercive apparatus of fascism.

With its uncomely embrace of foreign policy neo-conservatives (e.g., Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Under Secretary Victoria Nuland, National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan, Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines), the Democrats have eclipsed the Republicans as the leading party of war. Now even accused war criminal Henry Kissinger stands to the left of the Democrats.

While 57 Republicans demurred, the Democrats – including the Squad – unanimously voted to appropriate tens of billions of dollars for the Ukraine War. Such hyper-aggressive nationalist partisans make untrustworthy bulwarks against fascism.

The Democratic Party has to learn that look-it's-Trump! isn't a policy and it's not going to improve our lives.  We need Medicare For All, we need policies that address global warming, we need politicians that answer to the people.

John Stauber notes:

Because fear is all ⁦⁩ have to offer, and their scared base eats it up:

The party refuses to stand up for the people.  They still haven't codified ROE.  They are becoming a do-nothing party.  They shouldn't be surprised if people don't feel the need to vote for their hollow words.

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

Thursday, September 1, 2022.   How bad are things in Iraq and how badly has Joe Biden bungled it?  Judith Miller feels safe returning to the topic of Iraq.  Judith.  Miller.

Mustafa serves Moqtada.  

If you're going to analyze what took place and do it honestly, you need to note what Iraqis have been noting for weeks now -- when the Shi'ite youth peacefully worked for change, the Iraqis forces mowed them down and Mustafa did nothing.  You need to contrast that -- as Arabic social media has -- with how he's responded to Moqtada's cult.  But if you're really going to analyze what took place and do it honestly, you go to someone like Mohammed Tawfeeq who has long covered Iraq for CNN and not two nobodies like Adam and Abbas who don't cover Iraq.  'Oh, they cover the Middle East!'  They haven't covered Iraq.  They lack the knowledge base and they lack the experience.  By contrast, not only is Mohammed someone with years of experience covering Iraq, he also hails from Iraq.  You've got expertise, experience and a triple Emmy winner in Mohammed but you ignore assigning this to him?  Maybe Adam and Abbas can be WARNER BROS DISCOVERY's next cuts because they are clearly useless and not up to the job.  

On the media.  I'm going to strongly critique CNN and others -- probably ALJAZEERA in a moment -- but outlets like BREAKING POINTS WITH KRYSTAL AND SAAGAR and DEMOCRACY NOW! that are picking up the story right now?  I'm not expecting much from them and, honestly, I'm just glad to see some Iraq coverage from outlets that usually ignore the country and the ongoing war.

But these other  outlets that do cover it some?  I'm not giving them a pass for presenting garbage to the western news consumer.

Turning to a different aspect, Jeff Schogol (TASK AND PURPOSE) notes:

Roughly 2,500 U.S. service members are currently in Iraq as the country’s political paralysis has erupted into the most serious outbreak of violence in years.

[. . . ]

So far, no additional troops have been requested to increase security at the U.S. embassy in Baghdad, said Army Lt. Col. David Eastburn, a spokesman for U.S. Central Command.

Air sirens went off at the US Embassy this week.  But the US State Dept says the embassy's not going to be evacuatedKuwait and Bahrain are calling for their citizens to leave Iraq.  For over a month now, Congress has been sending letters to President Joe Biden telling him that more attention needs to be given to Iraq and Joe has just ignored it.  October 10th, Iraq held elections.  All these months later, still no president declared, still no prime minister.  And Joe's done nothing.  Let's note this:

As David Schenker, a former Assistant Secretary of State for the Near East under former President Trump wrote a week ago, senior State Department and National Security Council officials visited Iraq only twice in the nearly nine months between the national election last October and the most recent outbreak of violence this week. 

Do you get how bad Joe's doing?  I don't think you do.  Maybe this will help though, the admonishment above?  Coming from Judith Miller.  Yes, that Judith Miller.  Joe's doing such a bad job that Judith can return to the topic of Iraq despite her record of pre-war coverage.

On US troops in Iraq (all should be home) we need to note a report from last weekend.  Daniel Brown and Azmi Haroun (BUSINESS INSIDER) reported

In the 76 countries in which the US is currently fighting terrorism, at least three have been incredibly deadly: Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan.

And as the US pullout from Afghanistan nears the one year mark, Brown University's Costs of War Project report details just how deadly they've been. It counts how many people have been killed by the "United States' post-9/11 wars" in these three countries, along with others.

The report accounts for deaths in Afghanistan and Pakistan between October 2001 and October 2018, and in Iraq between March 2003 and September 2021.

In October 2001, the US invaded Afghanistan to defeat the al-Qaeda and the Taliban, and 20 years later, on August 30, 2021, the US completed a chaotic withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan as the Taliban regained full control of the country.

[. . .]

6,951 US military deaths.

Iraq: 4,550 deaths.

Afghanistan: 2,401 deaths.

Pakistan: 0 deaths.

There were also 21 civilian DOD deaths, including six in Afghanistan and 15 in Iraq, the Cost of War report notes.

7,820 US contractor deaths.

Iraq: 3,793 deaths.

Afghanistan: 3,937 deaths.

Pakistan: 90 deaths.


109,154 national military and police deaths.

Iraq: 41,726 deaths.

Afghanistan: 58,596 deaths.

Pakistan: 8,832 deaths.

1,464 Allied troop deaths.

Iraq: 323 deaths.

Afghanistan: 1,141 deaths.

Pakistan: 0 deaths.

244,124 — 266,427 civilians.

Iraq: 182,272 — 204,575 deaths.

Afghanistan: 38,480 deaths.

Pakistan: 23,372 deaths.

109,396 — 114,471 opposition fighters.

Iraq: 34,806 — 39,881 deaths.

Afghanistan: 42,100 deaths.

Pakistan: 32,490 deaths.

362 journalists and media workers.

Iraq: 245 deaths.

Afghanistan: 54 deaths.

Pakistan: 63 deaths.

566 humanitarian and NGO workers.

Iraq: 62 deaths.

Afghanistan: 409 deaths.

Pakistan: 95 deaths.

479,858 — 507,236 total deaths.

Iraq: 267,792 — 295,170 deaths. 

Afghanistan: 147,124 deaths.

Pakistan: 64,942 deaths.

Read the full report here.

Read the original article on Business Insider

It's an undercount, to be sure, but it's the most serious attempt at a real count in over a decade.

Anyone worried about an overcount on US troops killed in Iraq and citing DoD figures, should grasp that the US government's count buries troops killed in Iraq after December 2011 under the heading "Operation Inherent Resolve" and which covers deaths in "Bahrain, Cyprus, Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates, the Mediterranean Sea east of 25 [degrees] longitude, the Persian Gulf and the Red Sea."

That lumping is how they and the press get to pretend that the war ended at the end of 2011 -- when in fact, there are 74 more deaths after that.

In addition, Brown's Costs of War study notes that there have been 30,177 suicides among veterans of the post-9/11 wars.


Back to the media, I am so sick of the one-sided nonsense with regards to Iraq.  ALJAZEERA wants to 'explain' what happened.  They do so how?  By only quoting Moqtada al-Sadr's followers.  I'm sick of it.  They quote one who wants you to know he does what his leader tells him (how pathetic, shame on anyone taking marching orders from a politician).  The fool explains that he occupied the Parliament -- 

Stop.  A real journalism outlet then explains that the cult broke into the Green Zone.  That's what they did.  You can be glad, you can say it should belong to the people, you can say whatever you want.  But the reality is that they broke in.  Since 2006, the late spring, early summer, the big fear of Iraqi politicians and US leaders has been that the Green Zone would be breached.  Nouri al-Maliki would use that possible breach that didn't happen in 2006 to later justify his attacks on the press -- which included a correspondent for THE NEW YORK TIMES being threatened -- that followed in the fall of 2006.  It was a big deal.  Barack Obama never pulled all US troops out of Iraq.

If you want to whine about today's media not being believed, grasp that it wasn't just in the lead up to the Iraq War that they lied.  They lied about the 'withdrawal.'  Barack did a drawdown, not a withdrawal.  That's why the Pentagon never waivered in calling it a drawdown.  Troops remained in Iraq.  Ted Koppel reported on that.  He did so on an NBC program -- they got cancelled -- and on an NPR program -- they got cancelled.  Telling the truth, the lesson is, does not pay off.  Doubt it?  MCCLATHY NEWSPAPERS.  


That's not reality.  THE HOUSTON PRESS told the truth once upon a time and angered a Bush.  It closed shop in the 90s.

MCLATCHY had many newspapers in 2002 and 2003 and they did not tell the truth.

The only one doing actual journalism was KNIGHT RIDDER NEWSPAPERS.  They told the truth about Iraq.

You don't understand how corrupt American journalism is unless you start paying attention and note that, time and again, it is the outlets programs that tell the truth that close shop.

MCCLATCHY lied like everyone else.  After the start of the war, they would purchase KNIGHT RIDDER NEWSPAPERS.  They were going under. 

Lie about the Iraq War like THE NEW YORK TIMES, THE WASHINGTON POST, PBS, NPR and everyone else and you stay in business.

Lie, be wrong, just run with the pack and there is no fall out.

Why aren't people brave in the media?  Because too often they've seen reality.  

The ones that hang on play the game and deceive in the process.  It's been that way throughout the lifetime of the American press.  

US troops?  Some went to Kuwait, some remained.  The Secretary of the Defense testified to that in an open hearing, in response to the questions from the late Senator Kay Hagan.  She was a smart lady.  She knew the press was going to ignore it.  And they did.  All but one reporter.  We covered the hearing here, the day of the hearing, and returned to it for several days after the hearing.  

The press was lying to the American people and claiming a withdrawal.  Instead of correcting the record via the information from the Senate hearing, the press elected to focus on a cat fight between John McCain and Leon Panetta.  There was none.  There were sharp words at the start of the hearing and that was it.  They were both cordial to one another as the hearing progressed.

But that's what paid 'journalists' -- paid by respectable outlets -- chose to focus on.

In 2012, Barack sent a brigade of special-ops into Iraq.

Tim Arango worked it into a report for THE NEW YORK TIMES -- a report on Syria.

Jill would not allow it to be in a report on Iraq.  She would not allow it to be a front page report as it should have been.  Barack was running for re-election and repeating the lie that he had withdrawn.  Mitt Romney was an idiot who thought he could look tougher than Barack by attacking for the 'withdrawal.'  Jill Abramson isn't a journalist.  When she was wrongly elevated at THE TIMES, we got the Iraq War coverage from Judith Miller and others that Jill would try to pretend she didn't greenlight all the way through.  And she wasn't journalist when she was put in charge of the paper.  She refused to allow various stories into the paper.  If it would hurt Barack, she would censor the news.

And with an election less than three full months away, there was no way she was going to let the truth about US troops going back into Iraq -- even with a US military official on record with his comments.

In 2014, Barack publicly sent more US troops into Iraq.


The terrorist group ISIS had done more than just attack.  It had grabbed areas in Anbar Province and, further north, Mosul.  There was very real fear in the White House that Baghdad would be the next to fall.  They overestimated ISIS.  But that fear, that the Green Zone would be breached, is what prompted Barack to publicly send US forces back in.

And now Moqtada's cult has breached the Green Zone and the press wants to act like that's normal and not newsworthy?

This is the same hideous press that couldn't tell the truth regarding the militias.  They said they were disenfranchised and they were.

I knew that the moment the announcement was made.  I don't like the militias, so we didn't do a lot on it.  But we noted it.  When the elections did take place we noted they were disenfranchised.  When they took up that critique, we noted that they were right.

It's not about what I like or don't like.  The truth is the truth. 

And the press struggles with the public because the press struggles with the truth.

Right now, because of Monday and Tuesday's violence, some more people are paying attention to Iraq -- for a moment or two.  It doesn't help them and it doesn't help Iraq, for news outlets to lie.

While many western outlets are failing with regards to covering what's going on in Iraq, Jean Shaoul files a strong report for WSWS which includes:

The violence erupted after al-Sadr announced his “final retirement” from politics. Hundreds of his supporters in his Sairoon movement took to the streets and broke through the concrete barriers of the heavily fortified Green Zone, where Iraq’s federal parliament and government buildings, as well as the US and other foreign embassies, are located.

Protests also broke out in Iraq’s southern provinces, where al-Sadr’s supporters burned tires and blocked roads in the oil-rich province of Basra, and hundreds demonstrated outside the governorate building in Missan.

The caretaker government of Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi imposed a dusk-to-dawn curfew, while Iran, which has sought to bring Iraq’s Shiite factions closer together, closed its borders with Iraq, as millions of Iranians prepared to visit Iraq for an annual pilgrimage to Shia sites.

On Monday night, al-Sadr said he was going on hunger strike until the violence and the use of weapons stopped. The next day, in a bid to disassociate himself from the violence, he apologised and called on his followers to leave the Green Zone and the camps where they have been protesting for the last four weeks, prompting many of his supporters to leave.

Al-Sadr’s retirement threat—the fourth this erratic and unprincipled politician has made over the last eight years—and the violence he knew it would unleash are bound up with his determination to take direct control of Iraq’s sectarian-ethnic political system at the expense of his Shia rivals in the Coordination Framework.

While al-Sadr, who comes from a leading Shia clerical family, led the main Shia resistance to the US occupation, he has no progressive answers to the enormous social problems confronting the Iraqi people. Posing as a nationalist opposed to foreign interference in Iraq, he has links to both Washington and Tehran. He has acted as kingmaker in forging ruling coalitions and placed his own supporters in key positions in the cabinet, the state-owned oil company, powerful ministries and local authorities. They take a cut of government contracts to pass on to his organisation, which runs a militia and provides jobs and social welfare for his impoverished supporters in Baghdad’s slums.

Al-Sadr’s announcement of his “final retirement” followed the resignation of the 83-year-old Grand Ayatollah Kadhim al-Haeri, a close associate of al-Sadr’s father and spiritual leader of the Sadrists, who challenged his right to act as the heir of his father, Mohammed Sadeq al-Sadr, saying, “You cannot lead by their names. In reality you are not a Sadrist even if you are from the family of Sadrists.” Haeri called on his followers to transfer their allegiance to Iran’s Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and “obey” Iran’s supreme leader as “the most worthy and competent [individual] to lead the [Muslim] nation.”

Moqtada's getting desperate.  He's losing his hold on the cult.  He's stating he's out of politics and he's never going to be an Ayatollah -- hotel management is a general studies degree, Moqtada, it's not a religious honor.

The Atlantic Council's Abbas Kadhim notes:

One day before this arbitrary deadline, Ayatollah Kadhim al-Haeri, who enjoys a following from many Sadrists, announced his retirement and, oddly, issued a two-page letter that included a denouncement of Sadr and his supporters, accusing them of dividing the Iraqi people in the name of the Sadr family that has enjoyed long-standing respect in Iraq and beyond. Haeri also recommended that his followers emulate Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei— another gesture that antagonized Sadrist leaders who have protested increased Iranian influence and accused their rivals of being Iranian agents. 

The Sadrist response to Haeri’s retirement letter was fierce and Sadr announced his “complete withdrawal” from the public scene, leaving his rivals to face the angry masses—mostly Sadr’s followers.

We'll wind down with this from Margaret Kimberley's latest column for BLACK AGENDA REPORT:

The Biden administration announcement of so-called student loan debt relief does little to alleviate the problem it claims to solve. Forgiving $20,000 for Pell grant holders and $10,000 for all who earn less than $125,000 is questionable for a variety of reasons. It is a midterm election bait and switch that pleases gullible democrats, helps only a minority of borrowers, and is nothing like what candidate Biden proposed during the 2020 campaign.

Americans owe $1.7 trillion in student loan debt. This crisis did not occur by happenstance. Universities did not escape the neoliberal onslaught and are fund raising machines charging astronomical amounts of money for tuition and room and board. Decades of austerity have slashed spending for public institutions. Once so inexpensive that they were practically free, they now offer little respite from crushing debt. There is no way for working people to secure the higher education they’re told they need without ruining themselves financially, and in so doing defeating the purpose of attending college.

Of course college should be free and student loan debt should be forgiven. The issue is of great importance to Black people, who are usually unable to pay very little if any tuition and incur debt from the first day of school. White people are more likely to have assets and family resources they can tap. They may not incur any student loan debt at all unless they attend graduate school. 

The rationale for this catastrophe is quite simple. The race to the bottom is an essential part of the corporate drive to keep Americans desperate. The living wage work that is the holy grail for college students is less likely to exist. The international capitalist overlords want the system to be this way, and they have created a system which keeps everyone, including the educated, in a grip of stagnant wages, insecure employment, and a diminishing social safety net.

Senator Joe Biden played a role in creating these terrible conditions. In 2005 he and 17 other democrats joined republicans in voting for the Bankruptcy Act, which made it all but impossible to discharge student loan debt in bankruptcy. The Delaware senator was beholden to the consumer credit industry, like all of that state’s elected officials. They were the drivers in ensuring that filing for bankruptcy for any reason would become very difficult and they were always among Biden’s biggest campaign contributors.

Of course Biden knows what people need and want. During his campaign he said , “I propose to forgive all undergraduate tuition-related federal student debt from two- and four-year public colleges and universities for debt-holders earning up to $125,000.” At other times he included Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) in this debt forgiveness plan.

It is easy to point out the discrepancy between what he promised and what he now proposes, but the problem is bigger than the laundry list of Biden campaign lies. There is great confusion among Black people about student loan debt relief, what it will really accomplish, and what is actually needed.

The following sites updated:

Wednesday, August 31, 2022

The Hulk, MARVEL and other issues

Didn't feel like writing last night.  Sorry.  Just wasn't up to covering the news.  Sometimes it's just too depressing.  Normally, I've got a day of the week that I cover/recap THE GOLDBERGS and one where I do SUPERMAN AND LOIS.  But with summer, there are no new episodes.  We did learn yesterday that the dad on THE GOLDBERGS is dead.  He will have died before the next season starts.  Anyway, this:

Mark Ruffalo has embodied the character of The Hulk for a decade. He had his debut on The Avengers in 2012 and went on to become an essential member of the superhero team. He has continued as Hulk in the new Disney+ show She-Hulk: Attorney at Law.

Mark Ruffalo was asked in an interview with Variety if he plans to stay with Marvel or retire as Phases 5 and 6 loom. He had this to say:

"I mean, I'll probably do it as long as they'll have me, if people are interested, and I can bring something that's interesting to me to it, and interesting to the fans. But I have no idea. I mean, you know, when you look at the comics, there's some pretty grizzled, old versions of him. I'm like, OK, the 67-year-old Hulk, that would be interesting - if all of us are still here making movies and there's a world that allows for us to do that anymore. With what we're living in and heading towards, the future feels more precarious than any other time. So I don't want to get too far ahead of myself. But I hope I'm still around to do it."

First off, Mark's 55 in November.  67 isn't that far off.  Second, Edward Norton was my favorite Hulk.  I wish he'd been brought back.

It's time to replace Mark.  I like him, I'm a fan.  But with Black Widow dead, he doesn't really work.  He and Scarlet had a chemistry that would have me arguing for him to continue in the role if Black Widow were still around.  But she's not.  And the writing of Hulk and Bruce is tired.  It's not Mark, it's the writing.  They aren't capable of making Hulk interesting and he gets weaker and weaker.  So it really is time for MARVEL to do the only thing they know to do when they run out of steam, recast the role and do an origin story.

I also believe that the MARVEL film brand is being destroyed by really awful DISNEY+ shows.  The only show truly worth watching so far was THE FALCON AND THE WINTER SOLDIER.  And if you don't grasp that, you live in a bubble.  When you have comic book fans turning on these programs, you've got a serious problem.  And don't whine when the box office starts to falter even more after you've abused the fans with these bad shows. 

MARVEL shows should have stayed on NETFLIX.  NETFLIX knew how to do them.  They were worth watching.  

These DISNEY+ shows are a nightmare.  And I just read about WONDER MAN and it's going to be a Hollywood parody.

I'm sorry, who has been asking for that?

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

Wednesday, August 31, 2022.  Iraq appears to be headed for another round of elections.

Starting with the US war on Russia.  From DEMOCRACY NOW!:

AMY GOODMAN: Meanwhile, President Biden announced $3 billion in more military aid for Ukraine last week, including money for missiles, artillery rounds and drones to help Ukrainian forces fight Russia.

We begin today’s show looking at U.S. policy on Russia and China. We’re joined by the economist Jeffrey Sachs, director of the Center for Sustainable Development at Columbia University. He’s president of the U.N. Sustainable Development Solutions Network. He served as adviser to three U.N. secretaries-general. His latest article is headlined “The West’s False Narrative About Russia and China.”

He begins the article by writing, quote, “The world is on the edge of nuclear catastrophe in no small part because of the failure of Western political leaders to be forthright about the causes of the escalating global conflicts. The relentless Western narrative that the West is noble while Russia and China are evil is simple-minded and extraordinarily dangerous,” Jeffrey Sachs writes.

Jeffrey Sachs, welcome to Democracy Now! Why don’t you take it from there?

JEFFREY SACHS: Thank you. Good to be with you.

AMY GOODMAN: What is the story that people in the West and around the world should understand about what’s happening right now with these conflicts, with Russia, with Russia and Ukraine, and with China?

JEFFREY SACHS: The main point, Amy, is that we are not using diplomacy; we are using weaponry. This sale now announced to Taiwan that you’ve been discussing this morning is just another case in point. This does not make Taiwan safer. This does not make the world safer. It certainly doesn’t make the United States safer.

This goes back a long way. I think it’s useful to start 30 years ago. The Soviet Union ended, and some American leaders got it into their head that there was now what they called the unipolar world, that the U.S. was the sole superpower, and we could run the show. The results have been disastrous. We have had now three decades of militarization of American foreign policy. A new database that Tufts is maintaining has just shown that there have been more than 100 military interventions by the United States since 1991. It’s really unbelievable.

And I have seen, in my own experience over the last 30 years working extensively in Russia, in Central Europe, in China and in other parts of the world, how the U.S. approach is a military-first, and often a military-only, approach. We arm who we want. We call for NATO enlargement, no matter what other countries say may be harmful to their security interests. We brush aside anyone else’s security interests. And when they complain, we ship more armaments to our allies in that region. We go to war when we want, where we want, whether it was Afghanistan or Iraq or the covert war against Assad in Syria, which is even today not properly understood by the American people, or the war in Libya. And we say, “We’re peace-loving. What’s wrong with Russia and China? They are so warlike. They’re out to undermine the world.” And we end up in terrible confrontations.

The war in Ukraine — just to finish the introductory view — could have been avoided and should have been avoided through diplomacy. What President Putin of Russia was saying for years was “Do not expand NATO into the Black Sea, not to Ukraine, much less to Georgia,” which if people look on the map, straight across to the eastern edge of the Black Sea. Russia said, “This will surround us. This will jeopardize our security. Let us have diplomacy.” The United States rejected all diplomacy. I tried to contact the White House at the end of 2021 — in fact, I did contact the White House and said there will be war unless the U.S. enters diplomatic talks with President Putin over this question of NATO enlargement. I was told the U.S. will never do that. That is off the table. And it was off the table. Now we have a war that’s extraordinarily dangerous.

And we are taking exactly the same tactics in East Asia that led to the war in Ukraine. We’re organizing alliances, building up weaponry, trash-talking China, having Speaker Pelosi fly to Taiwan, when the Chinese government said, “Please, lower the temperature, lower the tensions.” We say, “No, we do what we want,” and now send more arms. This is a recipe for yet another war. And to my mind, it’s terrifying.

We are at the 60th anniversary of the Cuban missile crisis, which I’ve studied all my life and I’ve written about, have written a book about the aftermath. We are driving to the precipice, and we are filled with our enthusiasm as we do so. And it’s just unaccountably dangerous and wrongheaded, the whole approach of U.S. foreign policy. And it’s bipartisan.

Meanwhile Elena Evdokimova Tweets:

BTW, "Ukraine was part of the invasion of Iraq, and occupied Iraq, with the NATO for 5 years with 5000 soldiers". They were OK with the concept of invasion and occupation of another country then. Source:


The violence got so much, Iraq's actually getting a bit of attention.  Here's BREAKING POINTS WITH KRYSTAL AND SAAGAR.


  • Amna Nawaz:

    A tense calm has returned in Iraq's capital city after the worst violence there in years. Fighting between rival factions left at least 30 dead and dozens more wounded.

    Simona Foltyn is in Baghdad and has this report.

  • Simona Foltyn:

    After a night of deadly clashes between Iraq's Shiite factions, a sudden reversal today, as followers of the influential Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr began withdrawing from the Green Zone, home to embassies and government institutions in Central Baghdad.

  • Ahmed Ahmed, Protester (through translator):

    As members of Sadrist movement, we follow what our leader orders. The leader asked us to withdraw.

  • Simona Foltyn:

    In a televised address, Sadr ordered his supporters and militia to leave.

  • Muqtada Al-Sadr, Iraqi Political Leader (through translator):

    I still believe that my supporters are disciplined and obedient. And if in the next 60 Minutes, they do not withdraw, as well as from Parliament, then I will abandon these supporters.

  • Simona Foltyn:

    Sadr's call for de-escalation came after weeks of unrest, during which he tried, but ultimately failed to force his will onto his political rivals.

    Moments after he announced his withdrawal from politics on Monday, hundreds of angry supporters stormed the government palace. The protests quickly turned into heavy fighting, and armed wings of Iran-aligned parties who oppose Sadr forcing the cleric to back down.

  • Muqtada Al-Sadr (through translator):

    I had hoped for peaceful protests, with pure hearts, hearts filled with love for their country, not ones that resort to gunfire. This saddens the revolution.

  • Simona Foltyn:

    The clashes stoked fears that the country could descend into a fresh cycle of violence.

  • Nour Al-Moussawi, Iraqi Civilian (through translator):

    This dangerous situation and the overtaking of the government's property or storming the highest authority, which is the Republican Palace, will destabilize the economic situation, as well as our daily lives.

  • Simona Foltyn:

    All of this played out against the backdrop of political deadlock. Sadr's party won the largest share of seats in last October's parliamentary elections, but not enough to form a government.

    His refusal to negotiate with Shia rivals has left the government, and the country in limbo. The curfew has now been lifted and life in the Iraqi Capitol is slowly returning to normal, marking the end of Baghdad's bloodiest day in recent years.

    But a dangerous precedent has been set and, for now, the rifts over government formation that sparked the armed clashes remain unresolved. In the absence of a clear path towards a political solution, there's a risk that the two sides may once again resort to settling their scores in the streets.

    For the "PBS NewsHour," I'm Simona Foltyn in Baghdad.

  • At THE WASHINGTON POST, Ishaan Tharoor recaps:

    First, there was anger, then protests, then a spasm of violence that left dozens dead and hundreds wounded. Now, there’s only an uneasy and fragile calm. For the better part of two decades, Baghdad has endured strife, instability and tragedy in equal measure. But the chaos that engulfed the Iraqi capital on Monday night and Tuesday morning marked the deadliest round of violence in years.

    Supporters of prominent Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr clashed with Iraqi security forces and Iran-allied militias in Baghdad’s fortified Green Zone and stormed the presidential palace. The sound of machine-gun fire and the thud of rocket-propelled grenades rocked the heart of the city. The violence sprawled across the country, with Sadrists attacking the offices of factions linked to Iran in various cities. More than 30 people were killed, with the death toll expected to rise at the time of writing.

    But by Tuesday afternoon, Sadr called on his followers to withdraw and lamented the loss of life. For his supposed restraint, he earned the plaudits of Iraqi President Barham Salih and Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi, who has been operating in a caretaker role as Iraqi politicians have failed for almost a year to form a government.


    October 10th, Iraq held elections.  Thanks to Joe Biden who, as US vice president, oversaw The Erbil Agreement in 2010, Iraqis support for elections has weakened.  That's when they voted Nouri al-Maliki out after his first term as prime minister but Joe oversaw the contract that tossed aside the people's votes and gave Nouri a second term he didn't win.  Iraq, under US occupation, has remained one of the most corrupt governments in the world.  Many live in poverty while Iraq rakes in billions each year from oil, money that never makes it to the people.  Right now, yet again, cholera outbreark, a regular feature any summer in Iraq.  Potable water, a basic human necessity (as the people in Jackson, Mississippi can attest) is an issue.  Iraq has suffered through a very hot summer with out dependable electricity (something residents of southeast Michigan can currently relate to).  

    The government does not serve the people (which people everywhere can probably relate to).  And so the participation in voting had dipped and decreased.  Iraqis actively sat out the 2021 election with the exception of members of the Shi'ite militias who were disenfranchised.  They long ago became members of the Iraqi security forces -- recognized as such.  At the last minute, Mustafa al-Kadhimi disenfranchised them because they weren't going to vote for him.  All security forces are supposed to vote in the early election.  This is because on actual election day, they have to be dispersed throughout the country to protect polling places.  Mustafa banned the militias -- and only the militias -- from the early voting.  

    Moqtada al-Sadr would benefit from all of this.  His political party did not get the most votes in the election.  His alliance did.  There's a difference.  For months, he tried to form a government and he failed repeatedly.  

    He stamped his feet and threatened to withdraw his members from Parliament.  No one really cared so he made good on this threat.

    Then he started whining the Parliament needed to be dissolved.  It didn't feel that way and he had no voice in it now because his MPs had resigned.  He sent his cult into the Green Zone to occupy the Parliament.  Then he demanded the judiciary dissolve Parliament.

    They said no, they didn't have that power.

    Now the violence has broken out.

    Mustafa, a Sad supporter, is now saying he will resign if violence continues and Barham Salah (a Sadr supporter) is saying early elections might be the answer.

    Might be?

    Might be.

    It's a system where Moqtada doesn't get his way so he stomps his feet and everyone rushes to appease the angry child.

    A new election is very unlikely to give Moqtada what he wants.

    A new election is most likely going to result in Shi'ites who sat out voting last time showing up at the polls this go round.  Which means Moqtada returns to being a small part of Iraq. 

    What happens then?  He stomps his feet and gets another election?


    The following sites updated: