First up, Graham Norton.
I checked Monday and Tuesday and he didn't have anything new up. I must not have checked on Wednesday because he's got like three of four new videos now.
Here's C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"
The U.S. and its allies invaded Iraq 20 years ago in Operation Iraqi Freedom. President George W. Bush’s press secretary Ari Fleischer twice accidentally referred to it as Operation Iraqi Liberation, which was definitely not its official name and would have generated an unfortunate acronym.
The men and women who launched this catastrophic, criminal war have paid no price over the past two decades. On the contrary, they’ve been showered with promotions and cash. There are two ways to look at this.
One is that their job was to make the right decisions for America (politicians) and to tell the truth (journalists). This would mean that since then, the system has malfunctioned over and over again, accidentally promoting people who are blatantly incompetent failures.
Another way to look at it is that their job was to start a war that would extend the U.S. empire and be extremely profitable for the U.S. defense establishment and oil industry, with no regard for what’s best for America or telling the truth. This would mean that they were extremely competent, and the system has not been making hundreds of terrible mistakes, but rather has done exactly the right thing by promoting them.
There are still US soldiers on counter-terrorist missions in Iraq and Syria. The Authorisation to Use Military Force that Congress first granted to the Bush administration in the run-up to the 2003 invasion has yet to be repealed by the Senate, and has been cited by the Obama and Trump administrations in justifying operations in the region.
Coleen Rowley, an FBI whistleblower who exposed security lapses leading to the 9/11 attacks, wrote an open letter to the FBI director in March 2003, warning of a “flood of terrorism” resulting from the Iraq invasion. She says now that two decades on, nobody has been held accountable for the fatal mistakes.
“I think the real danger is that their propaganda was very successful, and people like Bush and Cheney have now been rehabilitated,” Rowley said. “Even the liberals have embraced Bush and Cheney.”
The terrible mistakes made leading to and during the Iraq war forced no resignations and neither George W Bush nor his vice-president, Dick Cheney – nor any other senior official who made the case the war and then oversaw a disastrous occupation – have ever been held to account by any form of commission or tribunal.
The Iraq reconstruction failed to account for the lessons of Vietnam (the CORDS program in particular.) The Afghan reconstruction failed to account for the lessons of Iraq. We now sit and wait to see the coming Ukraine reconstruction fail to remember any of it at all.
“It is obvious that American business can become the locomotive that will once again push forward global economic growth,” President Zelensky said, boasting that BlackRock, JP Morgan, and Goldman Sachs “have already become part of our Ukrainian way.” The New York Times calls Ukraine “the world’s largest construction site,” and predicts projects there in the multi-billions, as high in some estimates as $750 billion.
It will be, says the Times, a “gold rush: the reconstruction of Ukraine once the war is over. Already the staggering rebuilding task is evident. Hundreds of thousands of homes, schools, hospitals and factories have been obliterated along with critical energy facilities and miles of roads, rail tracks and seaports. The profound human tragedy is unavoidably also a huge economic opportunity.”
We did worse than nothing. Iraq before our invasion(s) was a more or less stable place, good enough that Saddam was even an ally of sorts during the Iraq-Iran War. By the time we were finished, Iraq was looking closer to a corrupt client state of Iran. Where once most literate Americans knew the name of the Iraqi prime minister — a regular White House guest — now, unless he’s changed his name to Zelensky, nobody cares anymore. And that’s what the sign on the door leading out of Iraq (and perhaps into Ukraine) reads: tens of thousands of lives and billions of dollars later, no one cares, if they even remember.
Unlike the bulk of people weighing in, Peter's tying in then and now and his knowledge of Iraq doesn't stop in 2008. The November 2008 election of Barack Obama lead 'activists' like United for Peace and Justice to close shop -- their very own "MISSION ACCOMPLISHED" moment -- and media outlets to withdraw -- ABC announced at the end of 2008, for example, that they would be using BBC NEWS reports to cover Iraq instead of their own correspondents.
The media withdrew from Iraq. All this time later, US troops remain in Iraq.
Twenty years ago, in Baghdad, I shared quarters with Iraqis and internationals in a small hotel, the Al-Fanar, which had been home base for numerous Voices in the Wilderness delegations acting in open defiance of the economic sanctions against Iraq. U.S. government officials charged us as criminals for delivering medicines to Iraqi hospitals. In response, we told them we understood the penalties they threatened us with (twelve years in prison and a $1 million fine), but we couldn’t be governed by unjust laws primarily punishing children. And we invited government officials to join us. Instead, we were steadily joined by other peace groups longing to prevent a looming war.
In late January 2003, I still hoped war could be averted. The International Atomic Energy Agency’s report was imminent. If it declared that Iraq didn’t have weapons of mass destruction (WMD), U.S. allies might drop out of the attack plans, in spite of the massive military buildup we were witnessing on nightly television. Then came Secretary of State Colin Powell’s February 5, 2003, United Nations briefing, when he insisted that Iraq did indeed possess WMD. His presentation was eventually proven to be fraudulent on every count, but it tragically gave the United States enough credibility to proceed at full throttle with its “Shock and Awe” bombing campaign.
Beginning in mid-March 2003, the ghastly aerial attacks pounded Iraq day and night. In our hotel, parents and grandparents prayed to survive ear-splitting blasts and sickening thuds. A lively, engaging nine-year-old girl completely lost control over her bladder. Toddlers devised games to mimic the sounds of bombs and pretended to use small flashlights as guns.
Our team visited hospital wards where maimed children moaned as they recovered from surgeries. I remember sitting on a bench outside of an emergency room. Next to me, a woman convulsed in sobs asking, “How will I tell him? What will I say?” She needed to tell her nephew, who was undergoing emergency surgery, that he had not only lost both his arms but also that she was now his only surviving relative. A U.S. bomb had hit Ali Abbas’s family as they shared a lunch outside their home. A surgeon later reported that he had already told Ali that they had amputated both of his arms. “But,” Ali had asked him, “will I always be this way?
I returned to the Al-Fanar Hotel that evening feeling overwhelmed by anger and shame. Alone in my room, I pounded my pillow, tearfully murmuring, “Will we always be this way?”
Throughout the Forever Wars of the past two decades, U.S. elites in the military-industrial-Congressional-media complex have manifested an insatiable appetite for war. They seldom heed the wreckage they have left behind after “ending” a war of choice.
The Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft is a fairly new think-tank (2019). It was started by Andrew Bacevich and has recieved funding from the Koch brothers and George Soros. Where we're concerned is the proposal on Iraq that they've published -- written by Steven Simon and Adam Weinstein:
Withdraw all U.S. troops from Iraq within five years (except Marine Security Guards for the protection of the Embassy and OSC–I personnel under the U.S. Mission), recognizing that temporary combined training exercises, military delegations, and combined planning efforts using TDY personnel would be useful and should continue if both countries wish.
Iraq and the United States are negotiating an agreement that could result in the return of small units of American soldiers to Iraq on training missions. At the request of the Iraqi government, according to General Caslen, a unit of Army Special Operations soldiers was recently deployed to Iraq to advise on counterterrorism and help with intelligence.
A new report published last week by the Anti-Defamation League Center on Extremism found that an “all-time high” number of “white supremacist propaganda” incidents occurred in the United States in 2022, eclipsing the previous year’s record total of 4,876 by nearly 2,000.
“Our data shows,” the ADL wrote, “a 38 percent increase in incidents from the previous year, with a total of 6,751 … the highest number of white supremacist propaganda incidents ADL has ever recorded.”
In addition to an increase in white supremacist incidents, the ADL recorded a more than doubling of “antisemitic propaganda” incidents, rising from 352 in 2021 to 852 in 2022. These included banner drops on roadways, in-person demonstrations, leafleting neighborhoods and projecting images on buildings and stadiums.
The ADL found that propaganda efforts were undertaken in every US state except Hawaii, with the most active states being Texas, Massachusetts, Virginia, Michigan, Pennsylvania, California, Utah, Florida, Connecticut and Georgia. These propaganda efforts were organized by “at least 50 different white supremacist groups” according to the ADL, however, “three of them—Patriot Front, Goyim Defense League (GDL) and White Lives Matter (WLM)—were responsible for 93 percent of the activity.”
White supremacist “events” such as demonstrations at state capitols, parades and local businesses, organized by WLM, GDL, Patriot Front, the Proud Boys and others increased by 55 percent last year, from 108 in 2021 to 167 in 2022.
The only area where ADL recorded a decrease in fascist activity was on school campuses, where the ADL found 219 incidents of white supremacist propaganda in 2022, a slight 6 percent decrease from 2021. Fascist propaganda, overwhelmingly distributed by Patriot Front (74 percent of all incidents), was discovered on campuses in 39 different states, led by Texas, Arizona, California, Florida, Idaho, Ohio, Illinois and Michigan.
This is the second report released by the ADL in the last month that has documented an historic rise in far-right agitation and violence in the US.
Last month, the ADL reported that every single “extremist” mass killing in 2022 was linked to far-right ideology. Notably, the ADL did not mention that every mass killing linked to in their report was directly inspired by Republican Party politicians and their sycophants in right-wing media. This is also the case in the March report, which likewise does not mention Trump or the role of the Republican Party in cultivating these right-wing and openly fascist elements.
While the Republicans, according to the American Civil Liberties Union, have advanced some 420 pieces of anti-LGBTQ legislation so far in 2023, violent Republican rhetoric is translating into threats of real-world fascist terrorist violence.