Friday, October 17, 2014

Presidential Stature

presidential stature

From July 31, 2011, that's "Presidential Stature."  C.I. wrote:

 Barack declares, "If nothing else my actions the last few weeks in the crisis I have created have demonstrated my true stature!" Indeed. Isaiah archives his comics at The World Today Just Nuts.

With Ebola and everything else, the comic could apply to today.

But honestly . . .

I don't even remember drawing it.

I'm guessing it was about Libya.

But I'm guessing.

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

Thursday, October 16, 2014.  Chaos and violence continue, the Iraqi Parliament meets and then adjourns until Saturday, the White House's 'diplomacy' team heads home, CNN's Elise Labott forces the Pentagon spokesperson to dance, and much more.

US Vice President Joe Biden has two sons: Beau and Hunter.  Hunter is in the news.  Eric Brander (CNN) reports that Hunter Biden's February 2014 discharge from the Navy Reserve was an "administrative discharge" after he tested positive for cocaine.  I know Joe (and like Joe) and we're not going to be accused or hiding what happened.  But we're also not a gossip site so let's note that drug use takes place in all families, that the military especially needs to up their efforts to address drug use and addiction.

Hunter is an adult and responsible for his own decisions and, if he has an addiction, the treatment of his disease.  He has issued a statement today taking responsibility.

Falling down doesn't define us, how we brush ourselves off and resume our journey does.  All eyes are on Hunter right now and that's not a comfortable place for anyone to be in.

Ibrahim al-Jaafari is a former prime minister of Iraq and is currently the Minister of Foreign Affairs.  National Iraqi News Agency reports he held a press conference today to announce "that there was no state party which asked to bring ground troops to Iraq."

That's a nice thought.  Not a clear one, not an honest one, but a nice one.

Earlier this month, Laura Smith-Spark, Ben Wedeman and Greg Botellho (CNN) reported on Anbar Provincial Council's request for US forces for combat.  They're provincial and not federal but that call was significant and only becomes more so.  But you can ignore that.

And I guess if you pretend hard enough, you can convince yourself that all the US forces Barack sent over since June are something other than 'ground troops.'

Barack pretends otherwise, after all, and so do many Americans.  As Peter Certo (Other Words) observes:

If Barack Obama owes his presidency to one thing, it was the good sense he had back in 2002 to call the Iraq War what it was: “dumb.”

Now, with scarcely a whisper of debate, Obama has become the fourth consecutive U.S. president to bomb Iraq — and in fact has outdone his predecessors by spreading the war to Islamic State targets in Syria as well. With the Pentagon predicting that this latest conflict could rage for three years or longer, Obama is now poised to leave behind a Middle East quagmire that closely resembles the one he was elected to end.

But before Ibrahim gets crowned the great pretender, check out Pentagon spokesperson Rear Admiral John Kirby.  In the grand tradition of the crossovers on The Bionic Woman and The Six Million Dollar Man, today the Pentagon and the State Dept held a joint press conference.  During the press conference, CNN's Elise Labott nailed him and Kirby just pretended otherwise.

RADM KIRBY: Thanks. Thank you. Thanks, Jen. Thanks for welcoming me over here. As Jen said, this is something we’ve been talking about for a long time. We just work together so closely every single day that we thought this was a good idea. And now I’m going to beg her to come over to the Pentagon and do it in our briefing room as well. So that’ll be the next iteration of this.
I just want to update you on – quickly on two military operations that the Defense Department has been focused on in recent weeks: our efforts against ISIL, of course, and our efforts in the Ebola response in West Africa.
With regard to the counter-ISIL effort, Operation Inherent Resolve – we just officially unveiled that name yesterday – U.S. forces conducted 14 airstrikes near the town of Kobani yesterday and today. Initial reports that we’re getting from Central Command indicate that those strikes successfully hit 19 ISIL buildings, two command posts, three fighting positions, three sniper positions, one staging location, and one heavy machine gun. Very precise targeting. With these airstrikes, we took advantage of the opportunity to hit ISIL as they attempt to mass their forces and combat power on the Kurdish-held positions – or portions, I’m sorry, of Kobani. While the security situation there does remain tenuous, ISIL’s advances appear to have slowed and we know that we have inflicted damage upon them.
On our response to Ebola in West Africa, Operation United Assistance, our forces on the ground in Liberia continue to make progress in setting up infrastructure and facilities to support the international response. Setup has been complete on the 25-bed hospital, and we expect it to be fully operational, with U.S. public health service medical workers taking responsibility for that unit next week. Meanwhile, personnel from the U.S. Naval Medical Research Center continue to operate three mobile medical labs, which provide 24-hour turnaround results on samples. To date, they have processed more than 1,200 total samples. And lastly, construction continues on the Ebola treatment facilities with the first expected to be completed by the end of the month.
And I want to emphasize, again, that no U.S. military personnel will be providing direct patient care to the local population. As my Pentagon colleagues have heard me say many times, we’re focused on four lines of effort and only four lines of effort: command and control, logistics support, training, and engineering.
With that --

MS. PSAKI: All right. Well, as we typically do, we’ll stay with one topic. We talked about this, so let’s try to do that if we can. I know yesterday was a little wild and wooly.
Go ahead, Matt.

QUESTION: Thank you. I’m looking forward to this. Double the pleasure, double the information, I hope. Right?

MS. PSAKI: Double the fun.

QUESTION: Double the fun.


QUESTION: (Off-mike.)

QUESTION: I just have one logistic question about this briefing. Are you, Admiral, going to be staying for the whole thing or are you going to leave?

RADM KIRBY: That depends on how --

QUESTION: All right, because I have a question that’s not related to either Ebola or ISIL for you.

RADM KIRBY: No, I’ll be here.


RADM KIRBY: I’ll be here the whole time.

QUESTION: All right. So let’s start with Kobani then. So in your comments just now in talking about the progress that the operation has made --


QUESTION: -- does this mean that saving Kobani from falling has now become a priority in the campaign?

RADM KIRBY: Well, we’ve been focused on Kobani for a long time. This isn’t the first day that we’ve done strikes there. We’ve been doing them for a long time. What makes Kobani significant is the fact that ISIL wants it. And the more they want it, the more forces and resources they apply to it, the more targets that are available for us to hit there. I said it yesterday, keep saying it: Kobani could still fall. Our military participation is from the air and the air only right now, and we’ve all been honest about the fact that air power alone is not going to be able to save any town in particular.

QUESTION: Right. But you and other officials, including Jen, have said in the past that – or indicated, and Secretary Kerry has as well, that losing Kobani or Kobani falling to ISIL is not a huge strategic loss, and now it seems like you’re really ramping up the effort to keep it – to prevent it – to prevent it from falling. And I’m just wondering, has the decision been made within the Administration that the propaganda or other symbolic – a symbolic victory in Kobani would be too much to stomach, from your – an ISIL victory in Kobani would be too much?

RADM KIRBY: I think we’ve been pretty consistent about the fact that we need to all be prepared for other towns and other cities to fall too. This group wants ground. They want territory, they want infrastructure. We all need to be prepared for them to continue to try to grab that, and succeed in taking it. There’s been no strategic shift here as far as I know, at least from the military perspective, about Kobani or any other town. What we’re trying to do in Syria – and this is an important point, Matt – in Syria we’re trying to deny safe haven and sanctuary. They want safe haven and sanctuary in Kobani; we’re trying to help not let that happen.
So Kobani matters from that perspective. It also matters tactically because, as I said, they’re putting more resources to the fight, so there are more targets. We’ve killed several hundred of their fighters in just these strikes in and around Kobani. It would be irresponsible for us not to try to target them in a more aggressive way as they become more aggressive around Kobani itself.
And the last thing is, frankly, it’s an issue of balancing resources. One of the reasons you’ve seen additional strikes in the last couple of days is because we haven’t been able to strike quite as much, quite as aggressively inside Iraq. There’s been terrible weather there, sandstorms this time of year. It’s made it very hard for us to get intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance platforms up over to see what we’re trying to do in Iraq. So we’ve had resources available that we might not have otherwise had available to strike them there in Kobani. Does that answer your question?

QUESTION: Yeah, I think so.

QUESTION: Can I follow up?

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Can I follow on that? Elise Labott with CNN. Welcome.


QUESTION: Yesterday, General Allen said that the increase in airstrikes in Kobani was for humanitarian purposes, and it sounds like now you’re saying that there’s more of a target. Rather than humanitarian aspects along the lines of what you did with the Yezidis, it sounds like this is more – you have more targets of opportunity.

RADM KIRBY: It is that. There’s a humanitarian component to it, no question about it.

QUESTION: Well, there wasn’t last week. I mean, it didn’t seem last week that there was.

RADM KIRBY: No, there’s a – there was a humanitarian component to it. But we don’t estimate that – right now, we think there’s hundreds, not thousands, of citizens remaining in Kobani. It fluctuates and it changed, but we believe most of the population is out of there. That doesn’t mean they’re out of danger, though, and so there is a humanitarian component to this. If we can help the Kurdish militia keep Kobani – keep ISIL out of Kobani, then you by default are helping protect the population that remains there. And so there is a component to it.

QUESTION: So is it more now that you feel that as long as you have targets, you’ll continue to strike them, or is it now you’ve made the decision that come hell or high water you’re going to make sure that this town doesn’t fall?

RADM KIRBY: We are going to continue – I think it’s a great question. We are on the offense against these guys. There’s this narrative out there that they’re opportunistic and they’re adaptive and they’re agile. Nobody is more opportunistic or agile or adaptive than the United States military, and so we’re going to continue to go after them wherever they are and wherever we can.
There’s going to be a limit, though. You can’t just hit every place you know them to be, because we do – unlike them, we have to be discreet and discriminant about collateral damage and civilian casualties. So we’re going to hit them where we can, where we can do it effectively, have an effect on their ability to sustain themselves and to operate, but without having a bad effect – a negative effect – on the surrounding population.

QUESTION: But it’s – but you said it still could fall and that --


QUESTION: -- wouldn’t mean that your goals weren’t achieved.

RADM KIRBY: That’s – our goals have not changed with respect to going after ISIL in Syria or in and around Kobani. And I said it yesterday, I’ll say it again: That town could still fall. We all need to be prepared for that possibility.

Pretenders also include the Iraqi Parliament which is back from its long holiday.  Kind of.   All Iraq News reports that today's session saw 217 MPs show up.  That might be good news were it not for the fact that Iraq's Parliament has 328 MPs.

So in the midst of multiple crises which have led other nations to contribute (wisely in the case of Germany which is sending doctors, poorly in the case of those dropping bombs), over 100 members of Parliament can't even show up for the sessions?

Thought Barack was going to be working on that political solution?

When exactly?

He's dropped bombs.  He's named his ridiculous bombing campaign.

Exactly when does he focus on the political?

The State Dept's Brett McGurk Tweeted the following today.

So now you go home?

The Parliament takes two weeks off, finally comes back into session and that's when the US government decides to send what passes for a diplomatic team home?

Barack can -- and did -- attend a meet-up this week with approximately 20 defense ministers from various nations but when it's time to talk diplomacy, it's reduced to Blinken and McGurk?

No wonder there's still no move towards a political solution in Iraq.

In related news, NINA reports:

An informed source said Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi request to extend the deadline to provide the names of the security ministers for 24 hours.
The source said in a press statement: "The prime minister, Haidar al-Abadi asked the parliament to extend the deadline to provide the names of the security minister for 24 hours." 

Sure, why not?

Iraq hasn't had either since March 2010, so why rush now?

Because Iraq's falling apart.

So they showed up today -- or about two-thirds did -- and did nothing and now, All Iraq News reports, they've decided to adjourn until Saturday.

They did this as violence rolled Iraq.  National Iraqi News Agency notes a Ramadi suicide car bomber took his own life and the lives of 4 Iraqi security forces with five more left injured, a Mahmudiyah car bombing left 6 people dead and fifteen more injured, and2 Baiji home bombings left 17 family members dead and three more injured.  All Iraq News reports 11 corpses were discovered in Tikrit.  AP notes 2 car bombings in Baghdad's Dolaie section which left 14 people dead and thirty-four injured.  AP also notes the aftermath of the bombing:

Angry residents in the neighbourhood threw stones at police checkpoints and police cars that arrived to respond to the blasts, prompting police to withdraw from the area. Senior Iraqi officials have tried to reassure residents that the capital is too well-protected for militants to capture, even as they struggle to stop frequent near daily deadly attacks. 

On the topic of the Iraqi police, Elizabeth Palmer (CBS News) observes, "Basic training lasts 45 days. The young recruits are almost done. In two weeks, they'll be sent into combat. They're called police, but they're trained like the military."  A ton of money -- US tax payer money -- was already spent training the Iraqi police.

You may remember that the Minister of Interior said in the fall of 2011 that the US should find a better way to spend their money and that training wasn't needed.


You may remember that the man the US press insisted was the Minister of the Interior said that.  He wasn't the Minister.  The ministry was headless.  Nouri al-Maliki, thug and prime minister, refused to nominate anyone to head the security ministries.  Instead, he named flunkies 'acting ministers' which -- while unconstitutional -- allowed him to control the ministries.

So actually, the flunky was speaking on behalf of Nouri.

Now they need help.

One plan being tossed around was basically three sets of forces -- Kurds, Sunnis and Shi'ites -- making up a national guard.

The justification for this was probably best explained by Fareed Zakaria (CNN's Global Public Square), "Billions of dollar poured into it, because it was based on the idea that there was an Iraq, that there was a nation that there would be a national army for. Maybe we need a different strategy, which is to stand up sectarian militias, Shia militias, Sunni militias. They already exist. And the Kurds have their Peshmerga, that model. Send them into fight in their areas, not in other areas where they would be regarded as a foreign army."

That notion appears to be dead now.  Tamer el-Ghobashy (Wall St. Journal) reports:

Momentum has swung against the proposal to create a national guard that would encompass local forces in Iraq’s provinces as rival political blocs expressed reservations over who would be allowed into the new service and how funding would be allocated.
The Obama administration has pushed the national guard proposal as a way to bring minority Sunnis closer to the Shiite-dominated central government after years of policies espoused by former Prime Minister Iraqi Nouri al-Maliki that excluded them.

So the police are being rushed through training, the national guard idea appears dead, Shi'ite militias terrorize Sunnis throughout Iraq.  On those militias, NINA quotes Kirkuk's Sheikh Othman Agha calling for "a solution to the militias, which are spread in public roads and highways being contrary to the Constitution and detrimental to the national interest and harmony among citizens of one nation."

It's a shame the Minister of Defense and the Minister of Interior aren't addressing these issues and --

Oh, wait, again there is no Minister of Defense and there is no Minister of Interior.

All Iraq News reports rumors that Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi intends to make new nominations for the post on Saturday: Khalid al-Ubaidi for Minister of Defense and the always controversial Ahmed Chalabi for Minister of Interior.

On violence . . .

  •  .

    Winding down, the following community sites posted today:

  • Also, earlier this week, Mike's "The Invasion," Stan's "Halloween," Marcia's "Aliens," Ann's "Insidious," Elaine's "Scream," Ruth's "The Omen,"  Rebecca's "rosemary's baby," Betty's "The Exorcist," Trina's "The Believers" and Kat's "The Birds" were entries in a theme on favorite horror movies.

    Read on ...

    Friday, October 10, 2014

    Spanked on the Global Stage

     Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts "Spanked on the Global Stage"

    spanked on the global stage


    From July 24, 2011, that's "Spanked on the Global Stage." 

    And as Libya continues to break apart and be consumed by violence, I'd argue that in death, Muammar Gaddafi continues to spank Barack.

    C.I. wrote:

     Muammar Gaddafi has Barack over his knee and asks, as he spanks, "Who 'must leave now'? Huh? Who?" Barack responds, "Republicans are so much easier to punk! Ow! Ow!" Isaiah archives his comics at The World Today Just Nuts.


    I think that one holds up. 

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

    Thursday, October 9, 2014.  Chaos and violence continue, World Can't Wait calls out the continued Iraq War, Barack Obama's 'plan' for Iraq is shot down across the political spectrum, 'trend stories' aren't news, 'trend stories' are frequently insulting to women, there's no such thing as a heroic or good suicide bomber, one country's media whores may have to find real jobs (yes, I wish it were the US but it's not) and much more.

    Let's start with The World Can't Wait this is from their most recent statement where they point out the problems were not caused by the drawdown of US forces at the end of 2011:

    The U.S. withdrawal left what had been a relatively secular country split along sectarian lines, with a weak puppet government, and a huge opening for Islamic fundamentalists to push for religious rule.
    No party in this fight, not Islamic militias, not the new Iraqi government — paid for by the U.S. — and certainly not the war machine of the U.S. itself, has "right" on its side. Tomahawk missiles fired from US carriers in the Persian Gulf, drone strikes and bombs can only bring unimaginable suffering to the Iraqi people.
    We in the U.S. must speak out against any U.S. attacks on Iraq & Syria. By exposing and standing against the lies and crimes of our government, whether by Bush or Obama, we can make a difference in how people see what's going on.
    Months of cable "news" repeating Pentagon press releases, has created a situation where people in the U.S. are  supporting more war on Iraq - and now on Syria - based on lies.   Huge numbers -- enough to elect a Democrat as president in 2008 -- had come to oppose the Bush regime's unjust and immoral war on Iraq.
    But now too many people are drawn back into accepting new wars, on the basis that "something has to be done about ISIS."
    The Islamic State (ISIS or ISIL) is both a response to U.S. occupation of the region, and also literally, in some cases, was created by torture in U.S. prisons in Iraq; by billions of dollars in U.S. arms strewn about the region; and funded by close U.S. allies Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Qatar, societies where people also have scarcely any rights.  The Islamic State offers a disastrous future for the people, and is no damn good.
    But U.S. occupations, bombs, economic exploitation, and support of every reactionary regime in the region have done more damage, by far, than any Islamic fundamentalist group in Iraq and Afghanistan.  It was the Bush regime that sold the wars on Afghanistan and Iraq — countries which never attacked the U.S. — on the basis of defeating the Taliban and al Qaeda, only to have strengthened the basis on which they operate.
    The U.S. military cannot do anything to stop the violence of ISIS. NOTHING good can come from U.S. bombing, and we need to say so immediately and widely. Join us.

    Download PDF (half-page, double-sided).


    Good for World Can't Wait -- and I mean that.

    Too many people are silent, a fact Elaine noted in her last post:

    For two years now, I've called out Medea [Benjamin]'s 'protest' literature on The Drone War for slamming this or that person but never Barack Obama.  There are articles she's written condemning The Drone War that don't even mention Barack.
    She's a dirty whore.  She was just in Latin America a few months back saying we in the US had to worry because the next president might be worse than Barack.
    We're spied on, he kills people with drones, he's apparently after Julian Assange and Ed Snowden, he's started one war after another.
    If there's not a movement in the US -- and there really isn't -- that's on the heads and asses of whores like Medea who've spent the last six years applauding Barack and refusing to call him out.

    And Elaine's right.

    And when others refuse to speak it pushes the work off onto those of us who will and we're already doing all we can.

    I'm tired and I'm tired of being online.

    But good news, I don't have to be.

    No, a man e-mailed today to inform me that, "since you claim to be a feminist," I have to write about Nicholas Vinocur and Pauline Mevel (Reuters) report which opens:

    Foad, a French truck driver of Moroccan origin, traveled alone through Syria to rescue his 15-year-old sister from an Islamist group she said was holding her captive. But when they finally stood face to face, in tears, she would not leave.
    Foad is convinced that his sister Nora, whom he described as an impressionable teen who loved Disney movies before leaving for Syria one afternoon in January, stayed on because she was threatened with execution by the French-speaking commander, or emir, of the group she joined.

    The former high school student is among dozens of European girls, many of them her age, living with such groups in Syria. It is an aspect of the conflict that is beginning to worry European governments previously more focused on the flow of young men to join the ranks of Islamic State and others.

    Do I have to write about that?

    Well it's good to know I can step down and hand off the baton, or at least the curling wand, to a man so capable and knowing that he knows what I must do as a feminist.

    Except I don't see the feminist value in that story.

    I guess you can argue that it proves women can be into destruction and killing but is that really a newly emerging detail?  Did we miss all of human history as well as Hillary Clinton's 'diplomatic' efforts in and out of office?

    There's nothing a woman can't do -- whether it's doing good or doing bad.

    The Reuters story?

    It's the sort of 'trend' story Susan Faludi's documented so well in Backlash: The Undeclared War Against American Women.

    It's heavy on anecdotes and it's short on facts.

    More to the point though, it's one of those It Sings stories.

    They don't celebrate women, they don't note women.  The hook of these stories, the very narrative, is, "Look at what it can do" (or has done).  Women are "it."  Or maybe it's our vaginas are "it."

    We've ignored two similar stories.

    A female peshmerga went into an Islamic State area in Iraq and blew herself up.

    She completed a suicide mission.

    I don't get where I applaud that.

    There were many people -- men and women -- e-mailing that this 'heroic' act had to be celebrated.

    My own feelings about suicide would be if that's what someone wants to do, it's what they want to do and some of us carry more pain or handle it worse or whatever.  I'm not going to condemn anyone who's taken their own life.

    But I'm also not going to celebrate suicide bombing as heroic.

    If it's heroic for one side to do it, it's heroic for another side to do it.

    I don't want to live in a world where suicide bombing is applauded or considered heroic.

    Had the woman fought to the death, it wouldn't have surprised me.  Many women throughout history have.  However, I would have agreed that could be heroic.

    But I don't want suicide bombers all over the world because some nut jobs in the peshmerga think this is a cool way to kill.  There's nothing cool about it and if we applaud it in Iraq, we'll need to applaud it in the United States and elsewhere.

    There was nothing heroic about what the woman did.  I wouldn't even call her a "human bomb" -- she was divorced from humanity when she took part in that effort.

    And that has nothing to do with her gender, I'd feel the same way if it was a man.

    I'm very bothered that the press tried to present her actions as glamorous or brave because if a suicide bomber goes off in Denver, it won't be glamorous or brave.

    The other one we ignored was women fighters and how they may terrify the Islamic State.

    We've covered women fighters before.  We may be the only who regularly noted the Daughters of Iraq. And we noted them and treated the development as something serious.  But then, repeatedly, the Daughters of Iraq popped up and disappeared based on whether or not they could be packaged as a 'trend story.'

    We use "police officer" or "police member" here.  We realize the power of words and we know in spite of all the women in Iraq who had been part of the police force prior to the start of the illegal war in 2003, there was an effort to make it a job only men could do as Iraq was controlled by fundamentalists like Nouri al-Maliki.

    And make no mistake, when you can't appoint women to your Cabinet, when even your Minister of Women's Affairs is a man, you're a fundamentalist.  You're actually much worse than that but we'll keep it clean.

    My plan was to avoid these awful recent stories because at least women were getting recognized and the real story of Iraq reporting in the last eleven years is how western reporters have repeatedly ignored women and presented the story of Iraq as taking place in men's prison.  But this repeated nonsense in the e-mails where some drive-by insists this or that 'trend story' is about feminism or women's advancement is grating.

    I don't know how to explain it with any more clarity but, no, feminism is not turning yourself into a walking bomb.

    Now I am a feminist voice, not the feminist voice, but I'd be more than happy to have an exchange with any feminist that thought becoming a walking bomb was feminism -- mainly due to hearing just how they could shore up such a weak argument.

    Speaking of weak arguments, Barack Obama's 'plan' for Iraq.

    It's being called out across the political spectrum.

    RIA Novosti quotes former Russian Ambassador to Libya Veniamin Popov stating, "Airstrikes alone are not enough to win against the Islamic State organization.  This is the US that lifted the lid, because they actively tried to overthrow [Syrian President Bashar] Assad, and thought that all means are good. So that, they directly or indirectly supported the terrorist organizations [in Syria]. And they got what they created."

    In the US, Bill Van Auken (World Socialist Web Site ) notes yesterday's meeting Barack had with US military officials and explains, "As the meetings took place, there was further evidence that American policy in the region is in a state of disarray, beset by the immense contradictions in US policy, which had backed Islamist militias in the war for regime change in Syria, and is now attempting to curb the largest of these sectarian-based armed groups, the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), after its overrunning of roughly a third of Iraq’s territory. American policy is further roiled by the conflicting agendas of the so-called “international coalition” that Obama has assembled to support the US-led war."

    The Washington Examiner's editorial board weighs in noting, "Even where the casual deployment of air power can tip the balance of a war, it cannot establish a just or stable peace afterward. The best possible outcome of this strategy in Iraq and Syria might well be prolonged war among most of the same parties, but with a different balance in terms of their relative strength and odds of victory."


    The editorial board of the Wall Street Journal offers:

    A senior Obama Administration official headlined a leading story in Wednesday’s New York Times about American frustration with Turkish “inaction” in Syria. “There’s growing angst about Turkey dragging its feet to act to prevent a massacre less than a mile from its border,” this anonymous official said. “This isn’t how a NATO ally acts while hell is unfolding a stone’s throw from their border.” The charge was repeated in other media outlets.
    It’d be nice to know why the White House thinks a public spat with a crucial NATO and Middle Eastern partner helps the war against ISIS. The U.S. “angst” over “dragging its feet” applies far better to what the French and British, the Arab Gulf allies, Jordan and above all Turkey have thought about American inaction on Syria while hundreds of thousands died and an Islamist ISIS army emerged to take huge chunks of territory.

    Outside of the ever shrinking Cult of St. Barack, questions are being asked about the 'plan' and how it even qualifies as a plan.  On the issue of Turkey, Karen DeYoung and Liz Sly (Washington Post) report:

    In a sign of their reluctance to directly antagonize Turkey on the eve of a key diplomatic meeting, U.S. officials sent mixed signals on Ankara’s demand that the United States establish a protected buffer zone along Turkey’s border with Syria.
    “It is not now on the table as a military option that we’re considering,” said Rear Adm. John F. Kirby, the Pentagon press secretary.

    Separately, Secretary of State John F. Kerry said the idea of a buffer zone was “worth looking at very, very closely” and that it would be discussed when retired Gen. John Allen, coordinator of the U.S.-led coalition against Islamic State forces in Iraq and Syria, holds high-level meetings in Turkey on Thursday.

    The paper's Liz Sly Tweets:

    Back to DeYoung and Sly's report, if the administration isn't sending mixed signals, they're antagonizing allies or would be allies.

    They're also antagonizing the Iraqi people.  All the propaganda in the world can't hide that.  Yes, CENTCOM notes:

    In Iraq, an airstrike south of Sinjar destroyed an ISIL bunker and ammunition cache and a small ISIL unit. Another airstrike, south of Sinjar Mountain, destroyed an ISIL armed vehicle and a small ISIL unit. To conduct these strikes, the U.S. employed attack aircraft deployed to the Centcom area of operations. All aircraft exited the strike areas safely.

     The strikes were conducted as part of President Barack Obama's comprehensive strategy to degrade and destroy ISIL.

    Mu Xuequan (Xinhua) reports:

    In Iraq's northern province of Nineveh, more than 20 people were killed and some 30 others wounded in the morning air strikes by the U.S.-led coalition against buildings believed to be IS headquarters in the eastern part of the provincial capital city of Mosul, some 400 km of Baghdad, an official from the security committee of Nineveh's provincial council told Xinhua.

    Which is a polite way of saying the US just bombed civilians (again).  Still on violence, NINA notes a Baquba car bombing left 9 people dead and ten more injured and an Abu Dshir roadside bombing left 2 people dead and eight more injured.

    Of course, today's Iraq news wasn't all bad.  Ibrahim Saleh (Niqash) reports:

    Media organizations that fostered close links with and, some say, published or broadcast propaganda, for Iraq’s former Prime Minister are finding that their funding has dried up. Analysts and other suitably qualified individuals who used to defend al-Maliki in the media are having the same problems.

    While his bosses searched for a new investor, young Iraqi journalist Hussein Aslawi was forced to resign. As the search for extra funding went on, the satellite TV channel Aslawi worked for had decided to cut down on its number of staff.

    “And I tendered my resignation because things just are not the same anymore,” explains Aslawi, who worked as a news editor. “All of this is happening because the channel’s administrators have strong links to [former Iraqi Prime Minister] Nouri al-Maliki. So this is the result of his election loss,” Aslawi notes.

    The media organisation’s administrators had pinned all their hopes – and the future of their operating budget - on al-Maliki winning a third term. “And despite our warnings, they didn’t do anything to protect themselves in case al-Maliki lost,” Aslawi says. “That’s why things have gotten so bad.”

    Shortly before the last general elections in Iraq, held at the end of April this year, Aslawi says the satellite channel, whose name he did not want to reveal for fear of repercussions, received a lot of money from al-Maliki and his allies from out of a special campaign budget. “The money was paid on the condition that the channel changed its policies and supported al-Maliki,” says the young journalist, who adds that he and his colleagues were all shocked when they heard about the deal.  

    “The channel became like al-Maliki’s spokesperson,” Aslawi says. “And it stayed that way up until Haider al-Abadi [the new Iraqi prime Minister] was assigned to form a government.”

    At that stage, the channel was forced to stop broadcasting for almost two weeks. “And today its fate lies in finding somebody to finance it,” Aslawi notes. “But that seems very unlikely to happen.”

    Whores forced out of their jobs?  Forced to work real ones or starve?

    It could happen here!

    Pacifica Radio could be taken down -- largely because of the waste and theft at WBAI throughout the '00s  and because All Media Whore Amy Goodman scammed Pacifica and walked away with millions.  The Nation has the coffers filled enough to continue online but print is iffy by the financial projections they hope no one leaks to the media.  (Will I or won't I? -- that is the question.) Others are even more worse off.

    And should be.

    Your loyalty should be to your listeners and readers.  You shouldn't whore yourself out for the powerful.  When someone's in the Oval Office, they have not just the Secret Service but also a team of rabid attack dogs to defend them.  They don't need the so-called press whoring to protect them.

    But democracy does need a real press.

    And Panhandle Media has failed the country and if dried up and disappeared what would we really miss?

    Not much at all.

    They don't report, they don't do much of anything except explain how awful Republicans are (or anyone who criticizes Barack) and look the other way.

    They don't deserve to be on the air and they certainly don't deserve your money.

    In Iraq, whores are being sent packing.

    Too bad we can't say the same for the United States.

    Lastly, David Bacon's latest book is The Right to Stay Home: How US Policy Drives Mexican Migration. We'll close with this from Bacon's "Tribunal Takes Up Mexico's Migrant 'Hell'" (The Progressive):

    MEXICO CITY (10/8/14) -- Just before judges heard testimony on migration at the Permanent People's Tribunal in Mexico City last week, the Mexican government announced a new measure that might have been deliberately intended to show why activists brought the Tribunal to Mexico to begin with, three years ago.  Interior (Gobernacion) Secretary Miguel Angel Osorio Chong told the press that the speed of trains known by migrants as "La Bestia" (The Beast) would be doubled.

    Photos of "La Bestia" have become famous around the world, showing young migrants crowded on top of boxcars, riding the rails from the Guatemala border to near the U.S. It's a slow train, but many boys and girls have lost arms and legs trying to get on or off, and wind up living in limbo in the Casas de Migrantes -- the hostels run by the Catholic Church and other migrant rights activists throughout Mexico.  Osorio Chong said Mexico would require the companies operating the trains - a partnership between mining giant Grupo Mexico and the U.S. corporation Kansas City Southern - to hike their speed to make it harder for the migrants.

    In the Tribunal, young people, giving only their first names out of fear, said they'd see many more severed limbs and deaths as a result, but that it wouldn't stop people from coming.  Armed gangs regularly rob the migrants, they charged, and young people get beaten and raped.  If they're willing to face this, they'll try to get on the trains no matter how fast they go.  "Mexico is a hell for migrants already," fumed Father Pedro Pantoja, who organized the Casa de Migrantes in Saltillo.



    Read on ...

    Thursday, October 2, 2014

    War Whore

    war whore


    From July 17, 2011, that's  "War Whore.

    C.I. wrote:

     No, it's not Mrs. Doubtfire. The woman explains, "Hi. I'm Babsie Ehrenreich and you should listen to me when I pretend to be against the current wars. True, I don't call out Barack but my ugly daughter Rosa was the Counselor to the Under Secretary of Defense for policy. Getting now why I never call out Barack? The term for me is 'War Whore'." Isaiah archives his comics at The World Today Just Nuts.

    I didn't remember drawing that when I pulled it up tonight.  And I still don't remember.

    Usually, something can jog my memory.

    I stand by the cartoon and am glad I did it but I really don't remember drawing it.

    In terms of capturing the awful Ehrenreich, I think I drew her pretty accurately.

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

    Thursday, October 2, 2014.  Chaos and violence continue, Australia is set to join in the bombing of Iraq, Leon Panetta tells some uncomfortable truths, Salon sends the lightest weight in their bordello out to 'argue' against Panetta, the administration finally wants to focus some on diplomatic efforts at a political solution in Iraq, and much more.

    US President Barack Obama's Better Living Through Bombing 'plan' just officially got another partner.

  • Australia cabinet gives approval for fighter jets to join air strikes against Islamic State targets in Iraq
  • : PM Tony Abbott has announced Australia will begin air strikes and deploy special forces in Iraq.

  • While Australia joins the UK and US in the bombings, , DPA reports that Germany's Minister of Defense Ursula von der Leyen declared today that her country will be sending an unspecified number of "military doctors" into northern Iraq.

    The contrast between Germany's approach and Barack's is telling.

    Let's move to this:

    The deal never materialized. To this day, I believe that a small U.S. troop presence in Iraq could have effectively advised the Iraqi military on how to deal with al-Qaeda’s resurgence and the sectarian violence that has engulfed the country.
    Over the following two and a half years, the situation in Iraq slowly deteriorated. Al-Maliki was responsible, as he exacerbated the deep sectarian issues polarizing his country. Meanwhile, with the conflict in Syria raging, an al-Qaeda offshoot—ISIS, or the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria—gained strength. Using Syria as its base, it began to move into Iraq in 2014, grabbing power in towns and villages across Iraq’s north, including Mosul and Tall ‘Afar. These were strategically important cities that U.S. forces had fought and died to secure.

    That's from an excerpt of Leon Panetta and Jim Newton's Worthy Fight -- from an excerpt which Time magazine has published. (October 7th, Penguin Press publishes the book.)  Panetta has served in the US army (where he rose to the rank of First Lieutenant), the US House of Representatives, as the Director of Office of Management and Budget during Bill Clinton's presidency, as the White House Chief of Staff during Bill's presidency, as the Director of the CIA during Barack Obama's presidency and finally as Secretary of Defense during Barack's presidency.  As disclosed before, I know Leon and have known him for years.

    The deal?

    The deal Panetta's referring to.

    Leaving thousands of US troops in Iraq after December 31, 2011.

    Panetta explains he wanted it, others in Defense and State wanted and US President Barack Obama had an attitude if they put it together he was for it but he wasn't going to help them in any way.

    The lackadaisical president?

    Yes, that is Barack.  What people who have left the administration attempt to figure out is Barack so tentative because he's afraid of making a mistake or is he just bored?

    The American people thought -- those who voted for him -- that they had someone who would fight for them and then discovered he could rouse himself for the corporations -- who donated so often and so well to his campaigns -- but he had no stomach for fighting for the people.

    The book -- yes, I've read it -- goes beyond Iraq -- and will be carried beyond Iraq -- to paint a portrait that the mainstream press has largely shielded the public from.

    Which is why the whores of Salon come out swinging.

    Like den mother Joan Walsh, the kids of Salon barely pass for half-wits.

    Simon Maloy is the joke chosen to feed comfort food to Salon's uninformed readers.

    Simon kicks off things with a factual inaccuracy -- what most would call a lie:

    Former Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta caused quite a stir today when he wrote a piece for Time magazine laying blame for the current chaos in Iraq at the feet of the Obama administration.

    That's it, that's the moron the whores of Salon send out?

    Leon wrote a book -- co-wrote.

    "Wrote a piece for Time"?

    Time is excerpting the book.

    How damn stupid is Simon Maloy?

    And how the hell did even the gutter trash of Salon see fit to let this surface?

    After insulting Republicans -- that's all Joan Walsh decaying and demented crew can handle -- Simon then wants to lie some more or just flaunt his damn stupidity -- and he's pretty damn stupid:

    To sum up the situation: in late 2008, George W. Bush and Iraqi prime minister Nouri al-Maliki signed a security agreement stipulating that all U.S. troops would be withdrawn from the country by the end of 2011. Starting in 2010, the Obama administration began negotiating with the Iraqis to rejigger the agreement to allow a small residual force of American soldiers to remain behind. Those negotiations were ultimately unsuccessful. By October 2011 both sides had agreed that all troops would be gone by the end of that year, in accordance with the original security agreement.

    Is that summing up?

    Is it, really?

    It's lying, that's for damn sure.

    Then-Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta: Senator, as I pointed out in my testimony, what we seek with Iraq is a normal relationship now and that does involve continuing negotiations with them as to what their needs are.  Uh, and I believe there will be continuing negotations.  We're in negotiations now with regards to the size of the security office that will be there and so there will be -- There aren't zero troops that are going to be there. We'll have, you know, hundreds that will be present by virtue of that office assuming we can work out an agreement there.  But I think that once we've completed the implementation of the security agreement that there will begin a series of negotiations about what exactly are additional areas where we can be of assistance? What level of trainers do they need? What can we do with regards to CT [Counter-Terrorism] operations? What will we do on exercises -- joint-exercises -- that work together?

    "By October 2011 both sides had agreed that all troops would be gone by the end of that year, in accordance with the original security agreement," Simon scribbles.

    Then why did Leon tell the Senate Armed Services Committee the sentences I just quoted above?

    They're from the November 15, 2011 snapshot.

    That snapshot is covering that day's Senate Armed Services Committee hearing.  [Community reporting on that hearing also includes the November 16, 2011 "Iraq snapshot," the November 17, 2011 "Iraq snapshot," by Ava in "Scott Brown questions Panetta and Dempsey (Ava)," by Wally with "The costs (Wally)," by Kat in "Who wanted what?" and by Third Estate Sunday Review in "Enduring bases, staging platforms, continued war" and "Gen Dempsey talks "10 enduring" US bases in Iraq."]

    Both sides had not agreed by the end of October 2011, negotiations continued.

    I'm real sorry that Simon and Salon are cheap, lying whores who never do the work required.  You'd think if you'd signed on to whore and lie for Barack, you'd put a little more effort into lying convincingly.

    Simon's a piece of trash.

    He's aware of that hearing.  In limited form.

    He's basically cribbed Kat's report noted above.

    He 'magically' notes the exchange she reported on, that she quoted.

    But she did it back in November 2011.

    And she also understands the context which has escaped a thief and liar like Simon who goes around grabbing the work of others but, having not been at the hearing or even went to the archives to watch the hearings, he doesn't understand the exchange at all.

    Simon's a liar. He's a thief.  He's a whore.

    He couldn't work anywhere but Salon.

    And that the left puts up with Salon because it tells pleasing lies about the White House?

    Joan Walsh should have been escorted to a padded cell years ago.

    Maybe when she was attacking Latinos and Latinas?  She doesn't want you to know about that.  She probably doesn't stand by that xenophobia now either.

    But then she doesn't stand by anything.  She recasts herself daily based on the shifting winds of popularity.

    America needs reporting.  It can take informed commentary as well.  But this nonsense of partisan attack squads passing themselves off as journalists?

    These people are whores.  Whether they're whoring for Bully Boy Bush or whoring for Barack Obama, they're whores.  They may tell you a pleasing lie -- a whore will say whatever it takes to turn a trick -- but they don't inform you, they don't make your life or anyone else's better.

    Since February 2003, I have publicly spoken out against the Iraq War -- then it was the impending war, now it's the never-ending war.  Since November 2004, I've been online here and, starting in January 2005, helping at Third.

    I didn't pull punches or kiss as when Bully Boy Bush was running the illegal war and I don't now that it's Barack.  My positions don't change because the White House flips parties or the House or whatever.

    There is no consistency to Salon -- it's not the only bordello posing as a news or media outlet.

    As someone who has thought about Iraq every day (and written about it every day) -- regardless of whether it's a 'hot topic' or not -- it bothers me tremendously when little whores bring their disease ridden bodies out in public and attempt to rewrite basic facts to benefit whatever politician they're having wet dreams over today.

    Iraq matters.

    It matters all by itself, without noting US losses (no one should have died in the illegal war).

    It matters because it's not a thing, it's not an object.

    It is a land where millions of people try to live -- in spite of the bombings by this faction or that faction or the US government or the British government or . . .

    Salon and the other whores reduce Iraq to a political football, something they can attack Republicans with or improve Democrats' image with.

    Iraq is not a political football.

    It is the home to millions.  It was the home to over a million Iraqis who died in this illegal war, this unprovoked attack on their country.

    I don't have any respect for some cheap whore who wants to turn it into 'Barack was right!' or 'Bush was right!'

    They have never suffered the way the Iraqi people have suffered and continue to suffer.

    If you're so divorced from humanity that you can't recognize their suffering, at least have the brains to stop using them to prop up your political paper dolls.

    14-year-old Abeer Qassim Hamza al-Janabi was gang-raped by US soldiers while her parents and five-year-old sister were murdered in the next room and then Abeer was murdered.

    That 2006 War Crime?  Salon gave it 9 mentions.  Two of those were with regards to Brian De Palma's classic film Redacted.  Only 1 of the 9 was a piece about Abeer.  In the other 8, she's an aside.

    That's how Salon 'covered' it.  One brief report in 2006 and then name dropping her in 8 more articles -- briefly name dropping her.

    We didn't ignore Abeer here.  And we followed the Article 32 hearing on the War Crimes, we then followed the courts-martial on it and the civil criminal case against ringleader Steven Dale Green.

    When Nouri al-Maliki was targeting Iraqi youth who were either gay or perceived as gay, we spent months covering it here.


    They had US politicians to whore for.

    Over and over, as Iraqis suffered, Salon turned a blind eye.  Now they want to act as experts on Iraq?  A whore will tell you anything up until the point that the money changes hands.

    Rebecca Kaplan (CBS News) reports  -- reports -- on Panetta's remarks here.

    Partisans have attacked Senator John McCain for his remarks about the agreement not reached with Iraq.  They have called him a liar and worse.  I've called him many things here (check the archives) and few of them nice but I have defended him from the claims that he's lied re: the agreement process. I don't like John McCain (I do like and know Cindy McCain), I would never vote for John McCain but, unlike Salon, I'm not interested in authoring political erotica.  McCain was not lying and today he and Senator Lindsey Graham issued this statement:

    Washington, D.C. ­– U.S. Senators John McCain (R-AZ) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC) today released the following comment on statements made this week by former Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta and Ambassador Ryan Crocker confirming that the Obama Administration could have reached an agreement to leave residual forces in Iraq, but never made a full effort, despite being warned that failing to do so may lead to the situation we are in today in Iraq:
    “The latest statements by two of the most respected national security officials to serve under President Obama definitively refute the falsehood that this Administration has told the American people for years about their efforts to leave a residual force in Iraq,” said Senators McCain and Graham. “As we have said all along, and as Secretary Panetta and Ambassador Crocker have now confirmed, the Obama Administration never made a full effort to leave a residual force in Iraq, despite being warned that failing to do so would risk exactly the scenario we’ve seen unfold today, with the emergence of terrorist safe-havens as Iraq slides back into chaos, threatening America’s national security.”
    Below are Secretary Panetta’s book excerpt in TIME Magazine and Ambassador Crocker’s Defense One interview.

    At some point, the whores will start the 'what difference does it make' and 'let's not rehash the past' arguments -- as they realize they have no ground to stand on, they'll shift to silencing the topic itself.

    But what happened does matter and understanding it can help with what's happening currently in Iraq.

    Barack keeps insisting he has a 'plan.'  Like Bully Boy Bush, he doesn't.  Like Bully Boy Bush, he's merely passing it on to the next occupant of the White House.

    Jen Psaki, State Dept spokesperson, offered an overview of the 'plan' today that made more sense than anything anyone else in the administration has been able to offer:

    Finally, as you may all have seen, Special President – Presidential Envoy for the Global Coalition to Counter ISIL General John Allen and Deputy Special Presidential Envoy Brett McGurk arrived in Iraq today for intensive consultations with Iraqi Government officials and regional Iraqi leaders on how the United States can support Iraq in the fight against ISIL. That Special Envoy Allen went to Iraq for his first international trip in his new capacity speaks to the importance of – the United States places on coordination with and support for Iraq as we build this global coalition to degrade and defeat ISIL. General Allen and Ambassador McGurk’s discussions in Iraq and elsewhere will follow on the coalition-building efforts that President Obama and Secretary Kerry led at the NATO summit in Wales, during meetings in Jeddah and in Cairo, and most recently in New York at UNGA.
    From Iraq, General Allen and Ambassador McGurk will travel on to Brussels for meetings with NATO and EU leadership, where the focus will be cracking down on ISIL’s foreign fighter pipeline and countering its financing streams. Then they will travel on to Amman for consultations with Jordanian officials and key regional players. From Amman they will travel to Cairo to meet with Egyptian Government officials and the Arab League ambassadors. Their conversations there will follow on President Obama’s recent meeting with President Sisi in New York and Secretary Kerry’s discussions during his last trip to Cairo. They will finally conclude their visit in Turkey, a key NATO ally, where they will meet with Turkish military and political leaders to discuss their potential contributions to the international coalition, including combating the threat from foreign fighters. In Turkey, they will also meet with Syrian opposition leaders, both affirming our continued support for their brave efforts in the fight against ISIL and continuing our ongoing dialogue about the best ways to support these efforts.

    In conversations with General Allen and Ambassador McGurk – in these conversations they will have they will discuss coalition cooperation across the five lines of effort – not just military support for our partners, but also – with our partners, I should say, but also stopping foreign fighters, slashing ISIL’s access to financing, maximizing humanitarian assistance and protection for vulnerable victims of the conflict, and exposing ISIL’s extremist, nihilistic message for what it really is. There’s been lots of attention paid to the military component, as we’ve discussed in here, but this trip is about more than that. It’s about expanding this coalition and about building on the five lines of effort that they’re focused on. They will also finally return to the region later this month to meet with other key coalition partners as well, so this will be the first of a number of trips.

    Let's hope the administration is finally going to work the diplomatic angle.

    Psaki was speaking at today's State Dept press briefing.

    She raised the issue of Iraq herself and did so before taking questions.

    Maybe she felt she had to since all week long reporters at the briefings have ignored Iraq?

    We'll note this from today's briefing:

    QUESTION: When he will be arriving to Ankara, Ambassador McGurk and General Allen?

    MS. PSAKI: Next week. But again, we’re still finalizing some specifics about the trip. So I think we’ll have more technical updates with each day about who’ll they be meeting with and what day they’ll arrive, et cetera.

    QUESTION: Should we assume that each city one day? I mean, Iraq, Baghdad, Brussels, Amman, Cairo, and Ankara (inaudible)?

    MS. PSAKI: About that, but some may spend more than one day. So again, I said the end of the trip is Turkey, so I would assume the end of next week.

    QUESTION: And – but the meetings with the president, the prime minister, is there any --

    MS. PSAKI: Again, as I just said, because we’re talking about a week and a half from now or near the end of next week, I think we’ll have more updates on specific meetings as we get a little bit closer, and as soon as we have that information, we’ll make it available.

    QUESTION: So it’s almost one month that – when President Obama started to discuss this issue with the Turkish side since the Wales summit. So how do you see right now the – where we are in terms of the fight against the ISIL in terms of the contribution coming from Ankara?

    MS. PSAKI: Well, I think, one, we welcome the Turkish parliament’s vote to authorize Turkish military action, as I mentioned. Turkey has – and their leaders – have indicated they want to play a more prominent role with the coalition. We welcome that. They’re an important counterterrorism partner, an important NATO ally, so we understand the sensitivity that they had for several weeks with – the country had with their diplomats, and now we’re ready to move forward. And they’ve indicated they want to be an active partner.

    QUESTION: Do you believe that – are you on the same page with the Turkish leadership in terms of the priorities in this fight? I mean, ISIS is obviously the priority for U.S. side, but do you think that the Turks also are seeing ISIS as a priority while --

    MS. PSAKI: I think Turkey, from all of our discussions with them, certainly understands the threat posed by ISIL. But I would point you to them for more on that particular question.

    Brett McGurk Tweeted earlier today:

    It's good to see the administration finally addressing the diplomatic angle.  And hopefully it's not too late.

    Diplomacy might have some impact -- it probably would have at an earlier date -- but the 'plan' itself remains a joke.  Peter Certo (link goes to the Institute for Policy Studies) points out:

    Obama says the plan is to hammer IS targets from the air while bolstering partners on the ground—including the Iraqi Army, Kurdish fighters in Iraq, and “moderate” Syrian rebel groups—in a bid to roll back the advance of IS throughout Iraq and Syria without putting U.S. “boots on the ground” (never mind those 1,600 troops and advisers that have already been sent to Iraq, along with a likely undisclosed number of special forces).
    As my colleague Phyllis Bennis is fond of saying, you can’t bomb extremism out of existence. She’s right.
    For one thing, bombs cause civilian casualties, which are inherently radicalizing. “The U.S. bombs do not fall on ‘extremism,’” Bennis has written of the strikes on IS’ capital in Syria. “They are falling on Raqqa, a 2,000 year-old Syrian city with a population of more than a quarter of a million people—men, women, and children who had no say in the takeover of their city by ISIS. The Pentagon is bombing targets like the post office and the governor’s compound, and the likelihood of large number of civilian casualties, as well as devastation of the ancient city, is almost certain.”
    A protracted air campaign is likely to cause a raft of unintended consequences. In Yemen and Pakistan, for example—the targets of the vast majority of U.S. drone strikes on alleged al-Qaeda “militants”—civilian populations have grappled with severe trauma and stress from living under the constant hovering drones. Terrorist recruiters have repeatedly sought to exploit this trauma—especially among the thousands of Yemenis and Pakistanis who have lost innocent loved ones. The best that can be said of these years-long campaigns from a national security perspective is that they’re holding actions. Al-Qaeda has certainly not been destroyed in either country, and it’s entirely possible that the drones themselves are providing a continued rationale for the group’s survival. It’s unclear why the Obama administration seems to think it can effect a different outcome in the vastly more complicated theater of Iraq and Syria.
    Then there’s the problem of what comes after the bombs. If IS falls back under the weight of U.S. airstrikes, who moves in to secure the territory on the ground?
    In Iraq, there are a few possibilities at this stage: the Iraqi Army, one of a number of Shiite paramilitary groups, or, in the north, Kurdish peshmerga fighters.

    We saw the limitations of the Iraqi Army most dramatically earlier this summer in Mosul, where, after firing scarcely a shot, some 30,000 Iraqi soldiers turned the city—and millions of dollars worth of U.S.-supplied military equipment—over to just 800 attacking IS soldiers. In the years leading up to its capture of the city, IS had freely operated a lucrative protection racket among Mosul’s private businesses and cut deals with corrupt local leaders and members of Iraq’s security forces. So despite the Iraqi Army’s heavy footprint in Mosul—including a burdensome and much loathed system of traffic checkpoints—IS had been consolidating power there long before formally taking over.

    On the Iraqi forces, Ryan Crocker tells Bernard Gwertzman (Council on Foreign Relations):

    If you look at it from former Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s perspective, with Iraq’s history of military coups, his own coming of age as a member of a sectarian and persecuted political party, you are going to see an enemy behind every bush.
    When he chose his commanders, he didn’t choose them on the basis of their leadership capability or their battlefield experience. It was loyalty. Could he be absolutely certain that they would never turn against him?

    [Maliki] put individuals with no command ability [and who] were not a threat to him into command positions—when you look at what happened in June, it wasn’t the rank and file that broke first, it was the leadership. Division commanders suddenly decided they needed to be in Baghdad before they ever engaged with ISIS.

    We'll close with an Iraq War veteran (still) being held in Mexico.


    Image from Free USMC Sgt Andrew Tahmooressi Facebook page.  
    Iraq and American Veterans of America issued the following:

    IAVA Urges Mexico to Release Imprisoned U.S. Marine

    CONTACT: Gretchen Andersen (212) 982-9699 or
    IAVA Urges Mexico to Release Imprisoned U.S. Marine 
    New vets stand by Jill Tahmooressi in her quest to free her son 

    New York, NY (Oct. 1, 2014) – Today, the U.S. House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere heard testimony from Jill Tahmooressi on the imprisonment of her son, U.S. Marine Sergeant Andrew Tahmooressi, who has been detained in Mexico since March. IAVA released the following statement from CEO and Founder Paul Rieckhoff:

    “IAVA stands strongly with U.S. Marine Sergeant Andrew Tahmooressi’s mother, Jill, in her relentless quest to have him freed from prison in Mexico. Ms. Tahmooressi’s articulate and strong appeal for her son – who has been wrongly imprisoned for mistakenly crossing into Mexico in March – not only pulls at the heartstrings; it angers all veterans who should be able to count on their government to have their backs when they return from active duty. Andrew is one of our own, and America should never leave one of our own behind.
    “Andrew’s combat-related PTSD was acquired in defense of his country, and he needs to return to the United States immediately for treatment. We urge President Obama to intervene directly with Mexico, cut through the red tape, and get Sergeant Tahmooressi back on U.S. soil. America’s veterans have not forgotten him, and the President should not forget about him either. Andrew deserves to come home, get treatment, and have a chance to live a productive life.”

    Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America ( is the nation's first and largest nonpartisan, nonprofit organization representing veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan and has nearly 300,000 Member Veterans and civilian supporters nationwide. Celebrating its 10th year anniversary, IAVA recently received the highest rating - four-stars - from Charity Navigator, America's largest charity evaluator.

    Read on ...
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