Sunday, September 14, 2014

Welcome Back


the motto

 


From June 19, 2011, that's "Welcome Back." 


C.I. wrote:

 Barack fiddles with his tie and declares, "2012's motto? Respect. Empower. Include. Win." He explains, "In other words, welcome back everyone we threw under the bus. In 2012, we're going to need you!" Isaiah archives his comics at The World Today Just Nuts.


The 'coalition' Donna Brazile just knew was going to emerge never did so, in 2012, Barack was back to pretending to care about all voters.


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



Friday, September 13, 2014.  Chaos and violence continue, Barack's speech implodes, and a little more.


US President Barack Obama spoke Wednesday about Iraq.  By Thursday, the speech was a joke.

Stephen Colbert was Tweeting:


Obama brought back the Iraq War AND Gilmore Girls is coming to Netflix!?! It's a miracle!

As Betty pointed out, "it has already fallen apart."  Trina noted her encounters with The Cult of St Barack and how it appears "there's no more hopium to smoke."  And Susan Jones (CNS News via Information Clearing House) explains:

NBC News Correspondent Richard Engel, reporting live from Kurdistan in northern Iraq Wednesday night, said U.S. troops are on the ground in Iraq and avoiding reporters.
"I know there are already American boots on the ground where I am now," Engel told MSNBC. "They are not necessarily firing their rifles or kicking down doors, and we're not going on embeds with these troops.

"They are troops who are staying away from reporters, they are embedded with local fighters trying to guide in air strikes, gathering intelligence -- the kind of thing you would have thought the Green Berets would have done many years ago, and which are now being done by Navy SEALS and Delta Force and other Special Operations Forces.



At today's Pentagon press briefing, spokesperson Rear Adm Jack Kirby attempted to push back against the reality of what US troops were doing in Iraq:



Q: Admiral, thank you. On the strategy, specifically, do military commanders really believe that ISIS can be defeated or destroyed with U.S. airpower alone and without sending U.S. combat troops or U.S. troops in the field to lase these targets, to find these targets? Because one of the criticisms is you can't rely on others to do it. And without having these men in the field, you're not going to have an accurate picture of the targets.


REAR ADM. KIRBY: The short answer to your question, Justin, is yes, but now let me try to explain what I mean by that. We've said all along -- Secretary Hagel has been very clear -- that there's not going to be a purely military solution to the threat that ISIL poses in the region, specifically inside Iraq. There's not going to be a military solution here.


We have been conducting airstrikes now for a number of weeks. I think we're up over almost 160 of them. They have helped provide some space and support to Iraqi security forces on the ground, as well as Kurdish forces up north. But military measures are not going to be enough.


And so the other thing that I would say is, it's -- we've been able to do these very effective and -- and we know we're having a tactical effect on ISIL, and we've been able to do that without, quote, unquote, "combat boots on the ground."


Q: Now you're doing more of them. You have -- you've said you're going to ramp up the airstrikes, so...


REAR ADM. KIRBY: We're going to -- I think you can expect that we will be more aggressive going forward, but we've been pretty aggressive so far, nearly 160, all very effective, and effective without needing U.S. troops in a combat role on the ground in Iraq. The commander-in-chief has been very clear, we're not going to do that and that's not part of the mission going forward.


The other point -- and I think it's -- and we need to consistently make this -- is that the destruction of ISIL and their capabilities is going to require more than just airpower. We've been very honest about that. And it's going to require partners on the ground to take back and hold the territory that this group has tried and -- and it has tried to obtain and maintain.


It also is going to take the ultimate destruction of their ideology. And that -- that also can't be done just through military means alone. That has to be done through good governance, both in Iraq and in Syria -- we've talked about that -- and in a responsive political process, so that the people that are falling sway to this radical ideology are no longer drawn to it. So that's -- I mean, that's really the long-term answer.


Q: I think people would be surprised, though, to hear you say that there is no military solution, given the nature of ISIS. I mean, this is primarily a military strategy, is it not?


REAR ADM. KIRBY: What is primarily a military strategy?





Q: To defeat and destroy ISIL has to be done militarily, doesn't it?



Uh-oh, logic entered the room and left Kirby scrambling.

If Kirby's going to sell this latest phase of the Iraq War, he's going to have to work harder.  Maybe borrow one of those eye-sore jumpsuits Victoria Clarke wore when she was spinning the start of the war?

The clothes change, the people change, but the war just drags on.

The State Dept's not even trying.

They're the 10th grader who grabs a sister's old paper, types a new cover sheet and pretends work has been done.  For example, the State Dept's Catherine Russell attempted today to sell this phase of the ongoing, illegal war on the backs of Iraqi women:

Beheadings are not the only horrors perpetrated by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, known as ISIL.  Over the past two months, there has been a tragic stream of reports about thousands of women and girls abducted from their families and sold in markets. These violent extremists are attacking their own women and girls.
While captive, these women and children have been tortured, raped, given to ISIL thugs as “brides,” or kept as sex slaves. Some have committed suicide to avoid sexual enslavement. Others have been forced to watch as ISIL beat their children to coerce the women into converting to Islam. Some have simply been executed. Hundreds of women and girls have been taken from Iraq to ISIL camps in Syria and never heard from again.
We cannot allow these voices, these lives, to be silenced. All of us must stand up for those who are defenseless.
Reports indicate that ISIL has abducted between 1,500 to 4,000 women and girls, mainly from Iraq’s religious community of Yezidis and other minority groups. Girls as young as 12 or 13 have been forced to marry extremists or sold to the highest bidder -- like cattle at an auction.  These are young girls, mothers, and sisters facing imminent rape, trafficking, and forced marriage.  These are women and girls who pleaded to be killed in airstrikes rather than be brutalized by ISIL.

A lot of people have said this or that was happening to Yezidi women.

No one's really been able to prove it, but they do say it, don't they?



PFrance 24's Wassim Nasr and Djamel Belayachi noted last week:


Photos of women allegedly sold as slaves

Citing an Iraqi parliamentarian, several websites claimed that hundreds of women from the Yazidi community had been sold as slaves after the capture of Sinjar at the beginning of August. One photo showing women chained and veiled spread on social networks and was taken as proof of the claim. It turns out that this image was taken during a Shiite procession in the town of Nabatieh, in southern Lebanon, in 2013.


 
The fake photo of 'enslaved women' circulating on social media networks.
Already at this time, the same photo had been published online by websites claiming it showed the jihadist organisation’s treatment of women in Syria.


They have plenty of other examples in their report.

And isn't sad that the best the State Dept can offer is a 'people say' kind of foot noting?

The State Dept's recent interest in women is touching.

Where were they when Iraqi women and girls were being falsely imprisoned and tortured and raped?

Where was the concern for women then?

This was one of the main underlying issues which led to over a year of continuous street protests.

But the State Dept didn't say 'boo' about it, did they?

When Nouri al-Maliki was overseeing rape and torture, they didn't object once.

Back then, they were more than happy to stay silent.

Ali Younes (Arab Daily News) notes some problem with Barack's plan or 'plan:'

The key to Obama’s objective however, is not just to try to degrade and destroy ISIL a tall order by on its own, but rather to try to end the sectarian divisions in Iraq and compel the Iraqi Shia establishment to treat the Iraqi Sunnis as partners.
To start with the new Iraqi government needs to have a new beginning by including the disfranchised Sunnis in the government, the army and other governmental and security agencies. Iraqi Sunnis argue that the 8 years of Al Maliki’s sectarian rule has left them alienated and created so much hatred and division in Iraq.


The illegal war is not ending but the administration seems unable to sell it (or anything else) with any real enthusiasm.

How bad is it?

The State Dept held a lengthy press briefing today.

Spokesperson Marie Harf acted as moderator.

However, Iraq wasn't on her mind.

And it wasn't on the minds of any reporters attending either.


Two days ago Barack sold the latest phase of the Iraq War.

Yet the State Dept can't even be bothered with addressing the topic?







Read on ...

Saturday, September 6, 2014

The Campaign Beings In Earnest



The Campaign Begins In Earnest

 

From June 12, 2011, that's "The Campaign Begins In Earnest."

C.I. notes:

Barack asks David Axelrod, "How about 'This time, I'm ready!'?" Isaiah archives his comics at The World Today Just Nuts.


Barack's still not ready for the job.

But we're all not supposed to notice.


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



Saturday, September 6, 2014.  Chaos and violence continue, no end in sight to Barack's undefined mission, John Kerry tries to sell the spin, there's talk of who might be Iraq's vice presidents, and more.




US Secretary of State John Kerry spoke in Wales Friday.  We'll note some of it:



Everybody here understands what ISIL is and the challenge that it represents. I would say to all of you, including those of you – the defense ministers who are now with us, but we had a very provocative conversation last night among the foreign ministers regarding some of the overall challenges we all face, the number of failed states and the challenges of disorder in so many countries. In many ways, I believe ISIL presents us with an opportunity. And it’s an opportunity to prove that we have the ability to come together, that our capacities for defense are not so frozen in an old model that we can’t respond to something like ISIL, that we can’t pull ourselves together and effect the coalition of clearly the willing and the capable to be able to deal with ISIL.

Contrary to what you sort of heard in the politics of our country, the President is totally committed; there is a strategy that is clear, becoming more clear by the day. And it really relies on a holistic approach to ISIL. That is to say that we need to do kinetic, we need to attack them in ways that prevent them from taking over territory, that bolster the Iraqi security forces, others in the region who are prepared to take them on, without committing troops of our own, obviously. I think that’s a redline for everybody here, no boots on the ground. Nevertheless, there are many ways in which we can train, advise, assist, and equip. There are kinetic operations we can run in direct support of Iraqi security forces.

And we’ve proven the model in the last weeks – breaking the siege on Sinjar Mountain, breaking the siege of Amirli, breaking of momentum that was moving towards Erbil, and in effect picking up enough intel to understand that the minute we hit them, these guys are not 10 feet tall. They’re not as disciplined as everybody thinks. They’re not as organized as everybody thinks. And we have the technology, we have the know-how. What we need is obviously the willpower to make certain that we are steady and stay at this.

There is no contain policy for ISIL. They’re an ambitious, avowed genocidal, territorial-grabbing, Caliphate-desiring, quasi state within a regular army. And leaving them in some capacity intact anywhere would leave a cancer in place that will ultimately come back to haunt us. So there is no issue in our minds about our determination to build this coalition, go after this. I’ll give you a quick take at what we are looking for and what we’re going to do.

When we say holistic, we mean every aspect of this group, and I think this could become conceivably a model that can help us with Boko Haram, could help us with Shabaab, with other groups if we can do this successfully. And NATO needs to think of it that way as we consider sort of our role in this new world we’re living in. We need to go after their financing mechanisms and sources, and we need to elicit broad-based support within the world of (inaudible) as well as in the world of normal banking and cover entities, businesses and so forth. Which means our law enforcement and intelligence agencies are going to need to coordinate and work together that have a clear part of an agenda within this framework.

We need a major humanitarian component that needs to be coordinated with the economic component, which will be real, to help Iraq get on its feet. We need a foreign fighter component. President Obama is going to be leading a National Security Council meeting in New York in the course of UNGA. We want – hope everybody will take part in that and help us lay down a critical agenda with respect to how we deal, all of us, with foreign fighters, which is a challenge to every country here, which is partly why we are all here.




Throughout, John's losing the audience with his efforts to footnote and show off that someone did this week's vocabulary list.  He really should stop trying to show off and keep it plain spoken.

I don't agree with much of anything he's saying but the speech starts to fall apart early on and is cratering when he tosses out Boko Haram.  It only gets worse as he tries to talk "kinetic."  (We've spared you that.)

We've used the term here and been specific in its use.  John's all over the place with it and probably confusing people.

Was John's speech supposed to be homework for Americans or was he attempting to communicate with them?

Does no one know how to communicate in the administration?

It's the show boating, the need to dandy up, that divorces them from the reality so many Americans live in.


So the take away from the above is that, no, US Senator Dianne Feinstein, bombs alone won't change a thing.

They'll change numbers -- they'll increase the numbers of the Islamic State.

John Kerry needs to define what the non-military approach will be.

The American people are left in the dark.

The reason for that is, honestly, the White House still doesn't have a plan.

It doesn't have a plan for war, it doesn't have a plan for diplomacy.


No US troops should have been sent into Iraq in June.  Barack certainly shouldn't have announced this week he was sending even more into Iraq.  As Kristina Wong (The Hill) reported Tuesday, "President Obama has ordered 405 additional U.S. troops to Iraq on Tuesday, bringing the total of U.S. forces authorized there to more than 1,000, the White House announced Tuesday."




I'm back on Gasoline Alley
Where the smoke looks like a misty valley
And the dotted hills where pills go down the wrong way
In the service of the king and his kingdom too
Oh-oh-oh, oh-oh-oh
I was the man and the woman and the who-knows-who
-- "Down The Wrong Way," written by Chrissie Hynde and Bjorn Yttling, first appears on Chrissie's new album Stockholm.




But if you make the decision to send troops in -- and Barack did make that decision -- then you have already reviewed all options and you should know what you will be doing next.

Otherwise, you're just sending troops in blindly and that's what Barack has done.

And instead of presenting a mission, he's responded to each worsening by tossing more troops onto the fire.

Shame on those -- in Congress, and across the US -- who accept this as a plan.


Kristina Wong (The Hill) reported Friday morning, "Military officials are signaling that the fight against Islamist militants in Iraq could take years, raising the possibility of a new, open-ended military commitment that lasts beyond the Obama presidency.  Tony Blinken, the White House’s deputy national security adviser, says defeating the Islamic State of Syria and Iraq (ISIS) would require a long-term commitment."

And that was before John Kerry gave the speech we noted earlier.  In it, his final statements include this, "It may take a year, it may take two years, it may take three years."


A planned mission wouldn't be open-ended. 

John Kerry grasped that in the Bully Boy Bush years when he was among those insisting there needed to be some form of benchmarks by which to measure whether Iraq was progressing or not.  He also once grasped the reality of war.  No longer.


In fact, it's sad that more concern for US troops is expressed by the President of the Kurdistan Regional Government than by the American president.  National Iraqi News Agency reports:


Head of the Kurdistan region Massoud Barzani said on Wednesday, during a meeting with US Senator for the State of Michigan Carl Levin that: "We do not want from America and the nations of the world to send their sons to Kurdistan, but we want to secure humanitarian and military aids to the people of Kurdistan and the Peshmerga, to be able to defend ourselves and the citizens and religious and national components.
A statement by the presidency of the region, today, "said that Barzani stressed to Sen. George and the delegation accompanying him that the region will not allow to terrorism to have a base in Kurdistan.



By the way, the US would send men and women -- sons and daughters.  I appreciate Barzani's sentiment.  Is he being sexist?  I don't think so.  I don't even think it's that he's of a certain age.  I think it's that he's talking about what he's seeing and what he's seeing in the KRG is American men.  If that is the case, there are implications to that which aren't even being touched on.

Maybe someone else will unpack that?  (Probably not and we'll get stuck with it next week.)


For now, let's repeat: I'm against more war on Iraq.

I'd think even the War Hawks who seem to get giddy at the thought of blood spilled on the battlefield would be rushing over to my side as Barack proves repeatedly that the role of commander-in-chief is beyond his grasp.


But these days, it's all beyond his grasp.

Who would have thought the administration of Barack Obama -- aka Mr. Pretty Words -- would have difficulty with messaging?


This inability to communicate clearly was again on display today when John Kerry spoke and it's  all the more troubling when you grasp that John thinks he was crystal in his statements as evidenced by remarks like this,  "We need a clarity to the strategy, and a clarity to what everybody is going to undertake."

Are you waiting for someone to provide that clarity to you, John? 

Because that clarity was actually needed before Barack started sending US troops into Iraq as spring was winding down and summer beginning.

If anyone's getting the spin across even semi-successfully it's the State Dept spokespersons Jen Psaki and Marie Harf.

Friday, Marie Harf handled the department's press briefing and noted, "Second item at the top – second and final item at the top. Deputy Assistant Secretary Brett McGurk arrived in Baghdad today for several days of discussions with Iraqi leaders on our mutual efforts in confronting ISIL to include the next steps in building a regional and international coalition to support those efforts. He will also support the efforts of Ambassador Beecroft in encouraging the Iraqis to complete their government formation process as soon as possible. McGurk will also travel to Erbil for discussions and then later join the Secretary during his onward travel to the region following the NATO summit as well."


We'll also note this section -- a minor one to many, a blink of the eye.


QUESTION: And finally, it looks like the U.S. is sending former U.S. Ambassador Ross Wilson to Ankara as a temporary –


MS. HARF: Yes.


QUESTION: Can you tell us a little bit on that appointment?


MS. HARF: Yep. So John Bass, who is President Obama’s nominee as ambassador to Turkey, is awaiting a confirmation vote from the Senate as are 50 other – over 50 other ambassadorial nominees awaiting a vote. So we are facing the prospect of a long-term gap in filling this crucial position of ambassador to Turkey. Obviously, we recognize the centrality of a strong U.S.-Turkey relationship, so the Secretary has asked Ross Wilson to return to Ankara – he served as ambassador there from 2005 until 2008 – to serve as the charge d’affaires until John Bass is confirmed as the ambassador. We, as we do with all of our nominees, encourage the Senate to confirm him as soon as possible.


Why are we noting that?

Hmm.

Not all nominees have been held up.  We know that, right?


Let's back up to our earlier quote from Marie Hart.

See if you can spot the puzzling moment.

I'll give you a hint, Marie's not making a mistake.  Don't look for that.



Second item at the top – second and final item at the top. Deputy Assistant Secretary Brett McGurk arrived in Baghdad today for several days of discussions with Iraqi leaders on our mutual efforts in confronting ISIL to include the next steps in building a regional and international coalition to support those efforts. He will also support the efforts of Ambassador Beecroft in encouraging the Iraqis to complete their government formation process as soon as possible. McGurk will also travel to Erbil for discussions and then later join the Secretary during his onward travel to the region following the NATO summit as well.


Did you catch it?

Okay, let's move in for a close up in case anyone missed it:

He will also support the efforts of Ambassador Beecroft in encouraging the Iraqis to complete their government formation process as soon as possible.


Ambassador Beecroft?

Robert Steven Beecroft is not the Ambassador of Iraq anymore.

Let's quote from the Senate Democrat's website:



The Senate confirmed the Beecroft, Dynan, Kai’aina, Logan and Handelsman nominations by voice votes.
Senators should expect 2 roll call votes at 5:30pm on Monday, July 7. Those votes would be on the following items:

What was Beecroft confirmed to be?  US Ambassador to Egypt.


As The Atlantic Council noted the next day (June 27th):


The Senate has confirmed the new US ambassador, Robert Beecroft, to Egypt after lengthy delays. The president nominated the envoy in May, but his nomination was held up in a larger Senate logjam that has affected dozens of appointees. Beecroft’s nomination was confirmed by voice vote.


So who is the US Ambassador to Iraq?


Let's again quote from the Senate Democrats' website on June 26th:


1:45PM the Senate began a 15minute roll call vote on confirmation of Calendar #897 Stuart E. Jones, of Virginia, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Republic of Iraq;

Confirmed: 93-0


Barack's first nominee for US Ambassador to Iraq was the hideous Chris Hill. He didn't make it to a second year in the post.  Then Barack nominated James Jeffrey and Jeffrey was more of an adult than Chris.  (He also didn't get fired the way Hill did.  Jeffrey chose to leave and there's a story there the press has apparently all agreed not to touch.)  Then Barack nominated Brett McGurk but that was a failed nomination.

So Barack nominated Beecroft who became the third US Ambassador to Iraq since 2009.  And now Stuart Jones is Barack's fourth US Ambassador to Iraq.

This never-ending game of musical chairs neither inspires confidence nor fosters consistency. 

Iraq needs a diplomatic solution.  Barack's rightly and repeatedly noted in the last months.

It's difficult to see how this was going to be achieved with The Obama Conga Line of Iraq Ambassadors doing can-can kicks across the Middle East.


Brett McGurk's now meeting with Beecroft in Baghdad.  Another sign that it wasn't the time to again swap out the post. 

If only Ice Cube had been around to advise McGurk, Brett might be the ambassador today.  (In 21 Jump Street, Ice Cube tells Channing Tatum, "Keep that dirty dick inside your pants.")  In fairness to Brett, whose nomination I opposed, he's pretty much done the job without the title.

Brett McGurk Tweeted:






John Kerry should be there for those talks but Marie Harf made clear in today's press briefing that, at present, there were no plans for Kerry to be in Iraq.


Time is running out.

August 11th is when the prime minister-designate was named and that's when the 30 day time limit kicked off.  Barack observed,  "Today, Iraq took a promising step forward in this critical effort.   Last month, the Iraqi people named a new President.  Today, President Masum named a new Prime Minister designate, Dr. Haider al-Abadi.  Under the Iraqi constitution, this is an important step towards forming a new government that can unite Iraq’s different communities."


Five days to form a Cabinet.  And this as NINA reports State of Law MP Ammar al-Shibli is insisting that "some political blocs to submit unacceptable names and incompetent to Prime Minister [designate] Haider Abadi to embarrass him."

Well there's at least one looney name being bandied about.  All Iraq News reports there are three names for vice president and one for Foreign Minister.   Former prime minister Ibrahim al-Jafaari is said to be the choice for Minister of Foreign Affairs.  The three names for vice president?
Iraqiya leader Ayad Allai, former Speaker of Parliament Osama al-Nujaifi and thug and . . .  'outgoing' prime minister Nouri al-Maliki.


Again, Nouri's never gone until he's in the ground.

People underestimated him as a thug and they continue to underestimate him.

Which is a real shame because Nouri remains the biggest obstacle to peace in Iraq.


Margaret Griffis (Antiwar.com) counts 52 dead in Friday's violence with another 38 injured.







kristina wong



Read on ...

Friday, August 29, 2014

The Plan For Day 101



The Plan for Day 101

 

From June 6, 2011, that's "The Plan For Day 101." C.I. wrote:


Nouri's 100 Days -- to fix, restore and improve the government -- expires June 7th. But he's not worried. Nouri explains, "End of 100 Days? I'll just toss on some war paint and distract them!' Isaiah archives his comics at The World Today Just Nuts.


And Nouri remains, all these years later, still head of the country, hoping to be kept on another 4 years.

Iraq couldn't survive it.


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



Thursday, August 28, 2014.  Chaos and violence continue, Barack speaks about Iraq, we note Chris Hill's continued stupidity as he continues to lie about Iraq, over 800 civilians in Falluja have been killed from Nouri al-Maliki's bombings, and much more.


Today on a KPFA newsbreak, Mark Mericle noted:

Oakland Congresswoman Barbara Lee is one of three lawmakers who have sent a letter to Republican House Speaker John Boehner calling for a debate and a vote on an authorization for the use of military force in Iraq when the House of Representatives returns on September 8th.  In a statement, Lee says that it's clear that the current US mission in Iraq is extended beyond the limited, specific and targeted scope of preventing genocide and ensuring the security of US personnel there.  Lee said the president must seek Congressional authorization before the situation escalates further. She was joined by Democrat Jim McGovern and Republican Walter Jones.  The three were the principle co-sponsers of a resolution that overwhelming passed the House with 370 votes.  It said the president should not deploy or maintain United States armed forces in a sustained combat role in Iraq without the specific authorization from Congress.

Time's Jay Newton-Small explains:


There are some in Congress who are calling on Obama to push through a War Powers Resolution. Article II of the Constitution grants the President the power to defend the country. But Article I gives only Congress the power to declare war. So, what in a post-war-on-terrorism era constitutes an actual war? In 1973, afraid of Vietnam mission creep, Congress passed the War Powers Act, which requires the President to consult Congress 60 days after engaging in hostilities. If you count bombing a foreign country as hostile — as the U.S. did against militants in northern Iraq on Aug. 7 — then the 60 days expires Oct. 7.
Theoretically, if Congress cares about not further weakening its oversight of the President’s ability to bomb whatever country he pleases, lawmakers will move to pass a War Powers Resolution in the next month. Presidents, including Obama, have argued that the War Powers Act is unconstitutional. But a turf fight over who gets to go to war is the last thing on Congress’ mind weeks before the midterm elections.


Meanwhile, US President Barack Obama insisted today that "throughout this process, we've consulted closely with Congress, and the feedback I've gotten from Congress is, is that we're doing the right thing."

He was speaking this afternoon at the White House -- in the suit that gave Cedric and Wally pause.


US President Barack Obama:  Second, in Iraq, our dedicated pilots and crews continue to carry out the targeted strikes that I authorized to protect Americans there and to address the humanitarian situation on the ground.  As Commander-in-Chief, I will always do what is necessary to protect the American people and defend against evolving threats to our homeland.  Because of our strikes, the terrorists of ISIL are losing arms and equipment.  In some areas, Iraqi government and Kurdish forces have begun to push them back.  And we continue to be proud and grateful to our extraordinary personnel serving in this mission.   Now, ISIL poses an immediate threat to the people of Iraq and to people throughout the region.  And that’s why our military action in Iraq has to be part of a broader, comprehensive strategy to protect our people and to support our partners who are taking the fight to ISIL.  And that starts with Iraq’s leaders building on the progress that they've made so far and forming an inclusive government that will unite their country and strengthen their security forces to confront ISIL.  Any successful strategy, though, also needs strong regional partners.  I'm encouraged so far that countries in the region -- countries that don't always agree on many things -- increasingly recognize the primacy of the threat that ISIL poses to all of them.  And I've asked Secretary Kerry to travel to the region to continue to build the coalition that’s needed to meet this threat.  As I've said, rooting out a cancer like ISIL will not be quick or easy, but I'm confident that we can -- and we will -- working closely with our allies and our partners.  For our part, I've directed Secretary Hagel and our Joint Chiefs of Staff to prepare a range of options.  I'll be meeting with my National Security Council again this evening as we continue to develop that strategy.  And I've been consulting with members of Congress and I’ll continue to do so in the days ahead.


Barack was several minutes late for the appearance which is strange until you realize he was supposed to begin speaking at four but had been scheduled to meet, also at four, with US Vice President Joe Biden and the National Security Council.  Barack is said to have met for four minutes ahead of the meeting.  A quick four minutes.  And, as he noted in his remarks, he was meeting with them later that evening as well.

"Them" was identified in this White House press release:

Readout of the President’s Meeting with the National Security Council on Iraq and ISIL

This afternoon the President met with his National Security Council to discuss the situation in Iraq, our ongoing efforts to support the Iraqi government, and our comprehensive strategy to counter the threat posed by ISIL in Iraq and Syria.  The President will continue to consult with his national security team in the days to come.  
 Participants in today’s meeting included:
The Vice President (via secure video)
Secretary of State John Kerry (via secure video)
Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel (via secure video)
Attorney General Eric Holder
Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson (via secure video)
White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough
National Security Advisor Susan Rice
U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations Samantha Power (via secure video)
White House Counsel Neil Eggleston
Director of National Intelligence James Clapper
Director of the Central Intelligence Agency John Brennan
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Martin Dempsey (via secure video)
Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff James Winnefeld
Director of the National Counterterrorism Center Matthew Olsen
U.S. Central Command Commander Lloyd Austin (via secure video)
Director of the Office of Management and Budget Shaun Donovan
Deputy National Security Advisor Antony Blinken
Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism Lisa Monaco
Deputy National Security Advisor for International Economics Caroline Atkinson
Deputy Secretary of State William Burns
White House Coordinator for the Middle East, North Africa, and Gulf Region Philip Gordon
Assistant to the President and Director of the Office of Legislative Affairs Katie Fallon
Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Iraq and Iran Brett McGurk
U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Robert Stephen Beecroft (via secure video)

Suzanne George, Executive Secretary and Chief of Staff of the National Security Council



In an embarrassing article for the Guardian (Barack is seen as torn -- deer in the headlights, little puppy, etc.), Spencer Ackerman does note, "Obama’s national security team convened at the White House Thursday afternoon to discuss the contours of a still-inchoate strategy. Administration officials have recently begun describing Isis in apocalyptic and near-hysterical terms, even as they decline to endorse additional military action against it, a discrepancy that has prompted confusion in Washington and beyond."

Maybe these sketchy meetings explain in part why the 'mission' in Iraq still lacks a mission?


Josh Jordan Tweeted the following today:



  • Pew Poll - Obama approval on the issues: Economy 39-55 Immigration 31-61* Russia/Ukraine 35-52 Israel 37-48 Iraq 35-56* * = all time low



  • Francis Matthew (Gulf News) notes:


    This alarming lack of purpose is reflected in how the world’s superpower is confused about what it is trying to do. President Barack Obama has offered some deeply contradictory messages as he first authorised humanitarian support on a strictly limited basis, but then talked of refusing to allow Isil to continue and the necessity of a long drawn-out struggle.

    It is clear that the growing acceptance of the importance of defeating Isil is creating some very uneasy alliances, as the Iranians and Bashar Al Assad regime in Syria offer to work with the Americans and Saudis. This fits into the new pragmatic search for stability that will dominate the Arab world for the next few years, as regional and world powers work with any non-Islamist who can regain control of a nation state and impose an end to civil war and chaos.



    Here are some Tweets in reaction to Barack's speech:

  • Be fair re: President's admission we have no IS strategy: only been in office dealing w Iraq 6 yrs, Syria for 3, IS took Fallujah in Jan.

  • Where are people getting that Obama is an isolationist? Drone wars, extended Iraq War, stay in Afghanistan until 2024, Syria, Libya, etc.




  • We'll come back to Barack's event later in the snapshot.

    Let's knock out the discussion at the State Dept today in the press briefing moderated by spokesperson Jen Psaki:




    QUESTION: We talked about – yesterday on Iraq we talked about the situation for – of the Turkmen in the north of the country.

    MS. PSAKI: Sure.

    QUESTION: Do you have any more information about the supposedly dire situation they’re in and what the United States might be planning?

    MS. PSAKI: Sure. I have a little bit on information. We are very concerned about the dire conditions for the mainly Turkmen population in Amirli as well as the ongoing humanitarian situation throughout northern and central Iraq. We’re focused on reviewing options to assess how we can best help alleviate the situation in Amirli. Our embassy and military personnel at our joint operation centers in Iraq are already working closely with the Iraqi Government to share information and discuss ways to provide relief to those in need, and certainly we’re having ongoing internal discussions as well.


    The Turkmen are the latest in-need in Iraq.

    It's a real shame when the in-need included gay and perceived gay teenagers that the US government couldn't and wouldn't do a damn thing.  Since Hillary was Secretary of State then, should she run for the presidential nomination, let's hope reporters have done their work and are willing to ask her why she failed so many in need?


    And will the in-need ever include the civilians of Falluja?

    We've noted repeatedly that Nouri is shelling civilian neighborhoods in Falluja and has been since the start of this year.  We've noted repeatedly that this is a War Crime and is legally defined as such.

    At what point does the White House intend to object to ongoing War Crimes?


    Mustafa Habib (Niqash) reports:



    Many of the buildings are damaged or completely destroyed. Anyone who manages to get into Fallujah will see a city that looks as though it’s out of a picture taken just after World War II.

    “Some areas – such as al-Hay al-Sinaie and Nazzal – have been completely levelled,” one of the city’s tribal leaders, Ahmed al-Halbusi, told NIQASH. “It would be almost impossible for people to go back and live in those areas again because they are so damaged. Additionally the Iraqi air force is still shelling those areas even though we have no idea why.”

    Al-Halbusi was now looking after a five-year-old boy named Othman. “His whole family was killed in the Nazzal area,” al-Halbusi explains. “He was playing in his garden and his family were in the house when the house was hit. He was the only survivor.”

    There are dozens of similar stories. The Iraqi army has been attacking Fallujah since the beginning of the year. Every day the army shells the city two different ways – with ground artillery from their camps near the city. One of the major camps is the nearby Mazra camp.

    The people of Fallujah say that this method seems to be fairly ineffective and doesn’t cause a lot of damage. They are far more concerned about the second method the Iraqi army is using: air bombardment.  

    Military helicopters bomb the city too – some of these helicopters are old ones, dating back to Saddam Hussein’s army, and some are new Russian-made machines, received recently. The helicopters often use barrel bombs, locals say. When these land and don’t explode, they try to disarm them.


    Niqash can do a major piece on this, why are they the only ones who can?

    These War Crimes take place every day.

    We used the April 16th snapshot to demonstrate this, covering Nouri's bombings in January, February, March and April.

    Do we need to do that again?

    Spend an entire snapshot documenting these bombings and how many are left wounded or dead?

    Nouri gets away with it because it is often just a few this day and a few that.

    But we've pointed out that, over a prolonged period, these small daily numbers add up.

    Doubt it?

    National Iraqi News Agency reports:

    Spokesman for the hospital in Fallujah Dr. Ahmed Al-Shami said on Thursday that the number of the martyrs in Fallujah since the beginning of military operations by more than 8 months amounted to 812 people, while the total number of wounded to 2488 people.
    He told the National Iraqi News Agency / NINA / that this is not the final statistics due to the continued bombardment of the city in addition to that a number of the martyrs were buried without arriving to the hospital and the wounded were treated in homes and health centers.
    He added that 16 percent of the martyrs are children and 19 percent of them women, while the injured proportion of children reached 11 percent and women 17 percent. 




    What is the number that will prompt disgust and lead to vocal rejection of Nouri's assault on Sunni civilians?

    The embarrassing UNHCR wanted to whine about 'terrorism' in Iraq.

    What is terrorism but not being safe in your own home?

    Read Mustafa Habib's piece for Niqash -- it's very clear that those civilians in the city are pretty much stuck there.

    They shouldn't have to leave their homes to begin with but now they have no choice.

    And these are the civilians Nouri kills and wounds daily.

    When does this become an issue?

    When the number killed hits a thousand?

    At the end of February, I was speaking to a friend in the administration about these murders -- they are murders, Nouri is a murderer.  And it was just so small, I was told, these deaths, and, besides, the US was working with him on getting a cease fire.  They'd eventually get a '48' hour cease fire.  But Nouri couldn't even honor that.

    I want to know what the magic number is that leads to an international outcry?

    I would have thought, myself, that the fact that these are War Crimes would prompt outrage.

    Nope.

    Very few acknowledge what's taking place.

    What continues to take place.


    And the silence that surrounds it goes to Nouri's enablers.  Patrick Cockburn is only one of many who have been silent.  Nouri has had many, many enablers.

    Take Barack's first US Ambassador to Iraq Christopher Hill.

    Chris Hill was a joke.  A lazy idiot who showed up for his confirmation hearing with his hair sticking out at all angles and food stains on his shirt (see the March 25, 2009 snapshot and the March 26th one).




    The Pig-Pen Ambassador

     
     

    Isaiah captured the moment in  The World Today Just Nuts "The Pig-Pen Ambassador."
    That alone should have raised alarms.

    Hill's answers were even worse than his failure to dress to impress for a Senate hearing.

    And once he became ambassador, he dresses up as a Secret Service agent with some tawdry idiot dressing  as First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy to spoof the assassination of JFK.


    chris hill


    That's what trashy Chris Hill thinks passes for professional.  (Peter Van Buren  posted the photo to his blog here and here.)


    I'd love to leave Chris alone but he can't stop being a danger to himself and others.


    Gulf News runs Chris' latest crap today.  It opens:


    Nouri Al Maliki’s fitful departure from Iraq’s premiership recalled many other cliffhanger exits by unpopular political leaders. His leaving did not come a moment too soon for the many Iraqis who have laid all of the country’s current troubles at his doorstep.


    Do we see a problem already?


    Sunday morning, we offered "Nouri's not gone yet -- as Falluja civilians can attest."

    Chris is an idiot, over and over he's an idiot.

    When he left Iraq August 13, 2010, he swore to Anthony Shadid (New York Times) that the political stalemate he'd been no help in resolving was nearly over and that a power-sharing agreement "was just weeks away."

    Weeks away?

    Did he mean 12 weeks -- which is also known as three months -- because that's how much longer Nouri drug out the political stalemate.

    The idiot told NPR that Nouri would abide by the results of the 2010 election.

    But Nouri didn't.

    Over and over, Chris Hill has been wrong.

    Now he writes:



    Al Maliki, according to this view, was endlessly divisive, driven by authoritarian tendencies, lacking in elementary political skills, and incapable of leading an army in disarray. But his greatest failure was his inability to grasp that successful governance in Iraq requires reaching out to other communities, notably the Sunnis and Kurds.
    Instead, Al Maliki ordered preventive arrests of young Sunni men, supposedly in anticipation of their defection to terrorist groups, and hounded his political opponents, in some instances driving them out of government (and in one case into exile).

    No doubt, much of this narrative has a basis in fact. But if it were the whole story, the mild-mannered, western-educated prime minister-designate, Haider Al Abadi, would have an easy task in stitching things back together. After all, Iraq’s Sunnis would have every reason to support Al Abadi now that Al Maliki has gone.


    Chris needs to spare Nouri because he enabled him.  Calling him out now is calling out himself.

    If you don't get what a liar Chris -- or Patrick Cockburn or any of Nouri's concubines -- don't listen to me.  I've talked this issue to death.

    Let's instead hear from Barack again.  Here's what he said today:

    Keep in mind we had been in communications with the Iraqi government for more than a year indicating that we saw significant problems in the Sunni areas.  Prime Minister Maliki was not as responsive perhaps as we would have liked to some of the underlying political grievances that existed at the time.There is no doubt that in order for Iraq security forces to be successful, they're going to need help.  They're going to need help from us.  They're going to need help from our international partners.  They're going to need additional training.  They're going to need additional equipment.  And we are going to be prepared to offer that support.
    There may be a role for an international coalition providing additional air support for their operations.  But the reason it’s so important that an Iraqi government be in place is this is not simply a military problem.  The problem we have had consistently is a Sunni population that feels alienated from Baghdad and does not feel invested in what’s happening, and does not feel as if anybody is looking out for them.
    If we can get a government in place that provides Sunnis some hope that a national government serves their interest, if they can regain some confidence and trust that it will follow through on commitments that were made way back in 2006 and 2007 and 2008 and earlier about how you arrive at, for example, de-Baathification laws and give people opportunities so they're not locked out of government positions -- if those things are followed through on, and we are able to combine it with a sound military strategy, then I think we can be successful.  If we can't, then the idea that the United States or any outside power would perpetually defeat ISIS I think is unrealistic.
    As I’ve said before -- I think I said in the previous press conference -- our military is the best in the world.  We can route ISIS on the ground and keep a lid on things temporarily.  But then as soon as we leave, the same problems come back again.  So we’ve got to make sure that Iraqis understand in the end they're going to be responsible for their own security.  And part of that is going to be the capacity for them to make compromises.


    Barack needs to rebuke Chris Hill publicly.

    The White House fired Chris.

    Fired him for cause, in fact.

    Hill was a failure who couldn't hold onto his job.

    Now he's going to be presented as a trusted source?


    We'll close with this,   Zeke Miller (Time magazine) asking Barack a question and Barack's response:



    Q    Thank you, Mr. President.  Last year, you said that you believe our democracy is stronger when the President acts with the support of Congress.  In response to Chuck’s question you said you don’t have a strategy yet, but you’ll reconsider that going forward.  But why didn’t you go to Congress before this current round of strikes in Iraq?  Do you not believe that that’s the case anymore, what you said last year?  And throughout your career you’ve also said that -- you raised concerns with the expansion of powers of the executive.  Are you concerned that your recent actions, unilaterally, had maybe -- have cut against that?


    THE PRESIDENT:  No.  And here’s why:  It is not just part of my responsibility, but it is a sacred duty for me as Commander-in-Chief to protect the American people.  And that requires me to act fast, based on information I receive, if an embassy of ours or a consulate of ours is being threatened.  The decisions I made were based on very concrete assessments about the possibility that Erbil might be overrun in the Kurdish region and that our consulate could be in danger.  And I can’t afford to wait in order to make sure that those folks are protected.
    But throughout this process, we’ve consulted closely with Congress, and the feedback I’ve gotten from Congress is, is that we’re doing the right thing.  Now, as we go forward -- as I’ve described to Chuck -- and look at a broader regional strategy with an international coalition and partners to systematically degrade ISIL’s capacity to engage in the terrible violence and disruptions that they’ve been engaging in not just in Syria, not just in Iraq, but potentially elsewhere if we don’t nip this at the bud, then those consultations with Congress for something that is longer term I think become more relevant.
    And it is my intention that Congress has to have some buy-in as representatives of the American people.  And, by the way, the American people need to hear what that strategy is.  But as I said to Chuck, I don’t want to put the cart before the horse.  And in some of the media reports the suggestion seems to have been that we’re about to go full scale on an elaborate strategy for defeating ISIL, and the suggestion, I guess, has been that we’ll start moving forward imminently and somehow Congress -- still out of town -- is going to be left in the dark.  That’s not what’s going to happen.

    We are going to continue to focus on protecting the American people.  We’re going to continue, where we can, to engage in the sort of humanitarian acts that saved so many folks who were trapped on a mountain.  We are going to work politically and diplomatically with folks in the region.  And we’re going to cobble together the kind of coalition that we need for a long-term strategy as soon as we are able to fit together the military, political and economic components of that strategy.  There will be a military aspect to that, and it’s going to be important for Congress to know what that is, in part because it may cost some money.












     
    Read on ...

    Thursday, August 21, 2014

    Believe and Little Man




    Little Man


     


    May 22, 2011, that's"The Little Man." 

    C.I. wrote:

     With images of Guantanamo and the barbed wire blocking the flag, Barack declares, "The United States opposed the use of violence and repression against the people of the region." She Hulk adds, "Applaud! Applaud the Little Man!" Isaiah archives his comics at The World Today Just Nuts.

    "Little Man" was a Sonny Bono song, FYI.  So I will go with Cher for tonight's theme post on dance songs.

    I'll go with "Believe."

    That was a weird song for the time.

    And Cher was in need of a comeback at the time.

    Some thought she couldn't but with "Believe," she conquered everyone.

    I would love to hear Cher sing it straight without the special effects.



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


    Thursday, August 21, 2014.  Chaos and violence continue, where is the peace movement?, Barack launches more air strikes and more US troops may be headed to Iraq, and much more.


    Let's start with Doug Henwood.  His low rated program Behind The News was evicted from WBAI.  He must be very proud of it because he bothered to keep it alive -- listeners be damned.

    He has one more week in August.

    If Doug doesn't note Iraq next week, he'll have ignored it for two months.  He covered soccer, mind you, on Behind The Gossip.  He just didn't cover Iraq.

    Remembering the high horses he and his wife Liza Featherstone were once on, I'm surprised by that.  Doug insulted a friend of mine (now deceased) who was a leftist but supported the Iraq War.  I didn't support the Iraq War and we just agreed not to speak of it.  But Doug got insulting.

    Like he cared.

    Now I have to wonder if he did?

    Two months of shows and not one damn word on Iraq?

    I'm sorry, I thought he was an economist.  He did a show on the sluggish job market in the US back in July.  How much has the Iraq War effected the economy?  As it's drained the US treasury?  As it's left the country in debt for generations?

    And now Barack is kicking it back up?

    That's not worth a story?

    Well, Doug, on behalf of my late friend, "You're full of s**."

    Doug probably feels like , goodness, he did a show this week on Ferguson!

    Yeah, and that's exactly the problem.

    White hosts on Pacifica.  They remember race when ever tensions flare. Then they bring on guests.

    Why are there so few African-American hosts on Pacifica?  If you don't count the DC station -- and no one does -- where are the African-American hosts?

    I would suggest the world really doesn't need White Doug Henwood deciding to give a show over to Ferguson.  I'd suggest that's exactly the problem.  White hosts controlling the Pacifica airwaves and race being a discussion only when the noble Bwana Doug decides to focus on the topic.

    Related: I don't support censorship.

    And I allow art wide latitude.

    I like Dead Prez.  I have no problem with them being on the air -- most of the time.

    I don't understand how playing a song encouraging violence is in keeping with Pacifica's mission statement.  I wouldn't care normally but tensions are high in the US and I'm failing to see how playing this helps:


    Backseat of the 'lac, big gat in my lap 
    Ready for combat, feelin like Geronimo Pratt 
    We had the windows cracked, headed up the strip 
    Black rag in my hand, don't want no prints on the clip 
    Hollow tips cuz we thorough with this shit my ni**a 
    This ain't no game, we bang for uhuru my n**ga 
    I take a left at the light, turn off the headlights and ride real slow 
    Now holla at me when you see the 5-0 (there they go, there they go!) 
    Alrite Dirty, yall boys ready? 
    We 'bout to turn drive-bys revolutionary 
    *POW POW POW POW POW* 
    YEAH MUTHAF**KA YEAH! 
    *POW POW POW POW POW* 
    YEAH MUTHAF**KA YEAH! 
    Look at 'em run, too scared to pull they guns 
    Outta shape from them coffees and them cinnamon buns 
    This s**t is fun, how I feel when the tables is turned 
    Hollow tips hit yah flesh through yo vests and it burn 
    That's a lesson you learn, comin strait from the slums 
    And it don't stop till we get full freedom!


    As art, I have no problem with it.  Were it to be from autobiographical notes, they still turned it into art.  And I love confessional songwriting.  I don't have a problem with it being played on the airwaves of other stations right now but for Pacifica to be playing it right now?

    I'm not sure how that fits the role Pacifica early on cast itself in?

    It becomes more problematic when the song is used at the end of a program about the killing of Brown.

    And if this is supposed to pass for 'strength' and a position we need to embrace?  I thought Pacifica was created by pacifists for pacifists.

    Is playing it meant to foster violence?  Stroke hate?

    I have no idea.

    But it is interesting how there is so much outrage over the death of one man killed in the US.  (Dead Prez released their song in 2004.  It reflects many deaths similar to that of Michael Brown's but it was written over a decade ago.)

    The anger stems in part from the fact that the police are supposed to protect.

    I'm not calling anyone guilty, FYI.  I'm not following the case and I trust that Attorney General Eric Holder will ensure that there is a real investigation into what happened.  (Disclosure, I know and like Eric.)

    But I'm saying one death prompts such huge outrage across the country and even beyond.

    Partly, that's because a police officer -- protect and serve -- was the one firing the fatal shots.

    The anger is also based on historic patterns of violence targeting African-Americans in the US.

    There have been many Micheal Browns and many Michelle Browns -- though African-American women who have been killed or injured are frequently overlooked by communities when it's time for activism.

    But Brown wasn't the first African-American to be killed by the police.

    So his death is preceded by many more, many millions more would be my guess -- although it's a guess and I don't know if anyone's ever attempted to arrive at a historical number on this.

    But here's the thing.

    The police are supposed to protect and serve.  (And maybe they did.  I wasn't there and the main reason to have an investigation is to determine what happens.  Plus, in the US, everyone is presumed innocent unless they're proven guilty.)  (That goes for the police officer and it also goes for Michael Brown with regard to the videotape the police released.)

    But what's the government supposed to do?

    I ask because the US government is bombing Iraq.

    Iraqis are dying.

    Millions already have just in the last two decades.

    Where's the outrage on that?

    I'm not taking anything away from the late Michael Brown -- and we ran US President Barack Obama's words on Brown last week.  (I thought Barack spoke wisely on the issue.  We've ignored others 'speaking' -- tea leaf reading -- on the issue.  Stop sending it.  I won't be part of a mob to convict before facts are known.  And I also don't see this site as a place to pour flammable hate onto an already tense situation.)

    But I am asking why suddenly Iraqi lives are worth so little?

    By suddenly, I mean the apathy of today versus the mood in 2002.

    I'm not asking anyone to stop grieving for Michael Brown.

    I am asking why we're not able to enlarge our notion of suffering and to call out what's taking place in Iraq.

    Some might argue that with Christians being targeted (as well as Yazidis and other minority religions), the American public feels torn.

    They're conflicted, someone might argue insisting that they feel something must be done.

    Okay.

    But is bombing the only thing that can be done?

    If you're worried about Iraqi Christians, for example, shouldn't you be arguing that the US needs to be opening its arms to them -- especially when other countries are announcing they'll be taking in these targeted refugees.

    Michael Brown was apparently a very loved person by all who knew him.  His death -- whatever the cause -- is very sad.  But so are the Iraqis being killed.

    "They're terrorists!"

    Because the people killing them say that?

    Civilian have been dying in the US' bombings of Mosul.  The Western press doesn't really care but Americans should.  Their government is killing innocents -- undisputed innocents -- while trying to target what they say are terrorists.

    In and out of Iraq, the US government has a long history of killing 'terrorists' who later turn out to be farmers or wedding guests or reporters or . . .

    Where is the outrage?

    Jane Fonda  is so upset over Michael Brown's death but she can't say a word about Iraqis?  (Well why be surprised?  For all of her concern over race, African-Americans have never figured prominently in any of the films she produced or the TV show she produced -- 9 to 5 -- or in the one that's she's now producing but has yet to air.)

    Jane swore silence wasn't an option on Iraq.  She swore that in 2007.  When a Republican occupied the White House.  Today?

    Apparently silence is an option.

    And I've decided to follow my friend Jane's lead.

    I am going to be silent this fall as I speak on college campuses.  Last spring, I wasted a lot of time defending Jane from a campus craze rumor that's spread from Florida to Washington state and back again: Jane got away with her Vietnam activities because she was really CIA.

    I denied it.

    Now I'm going to follow Jane's lead of silence and just say, "I don't know."

    United for Peace and Justice is silent too.  Not about Jane being CIA -- or maybe they're silent on that as well.  But I mean they're silent on Barack bombing Iraq and  Barack's efforts to send more US troops into Iraq.

    I guess these days Leslie Cagan's united for something other than peace?


    Fox News notes:

    The Defense Department reported Wednesday afternoon that U.S. aircraft have conducted another 14 strikes near the Mosul Dam, which Kurdish and Iraqi forces recently re-took from Islamic militants. The latest strikes took out militants’ Humvees and other targets.

    A senior U.S. official also told Fox News that military planners are weighing the possibility of sending more American forces to Iraq mainly to provide additional security “in and around Baghdad,” at the request of the State Department.


    Even World Can't Wait is silent other than Debra Sweet.  Dennis Loo's written another one of his reactionary rage pieces (he knows just what happened in Ferguson -- stop the investigation, Dennis knows everything!) but he can't stop to think of Iraq, can he?



    Tom Vanden Brooks (USA Today) reports:

    U.S. military commanders in the Middle East are urging the Pentagon to intensify the air war against Islamic State targets in Iraq, two Defense Department officials said Wednesday.
    Top officers at Central Command, which oversees military operations in the Middle East, are urging that the list of targets be expanded, according to the officials who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly about the plans.

    Michael Franti used to sing, with conviction, "We can bomb the world to pieces but we can't bomb it into peace."

    Where's that voice today?


    Today, the world heard from US Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel who declared:

    Given the nature of this threat, at President Obama's direction and the request of the Iraqi government, the U.S. military has provided assistance to Iraqi security forces in order to protect U.S. personnel and facilities and support Iraq's efforts to counter ISIL in addition to providing humanitarian assistance.
    American air strikes and American arms and assistance helped Iraqi and Kurdish forces blunt ISIL's advance around Irbil, where American diplomats and troops are working, and help the Iraqis retake and hold-Mosul Dam. A breach of the dam would have threatened the lives of thousands of Iraqis as well as Americans at our facilities in Baghdad and prevented the Iraqi government from providing critical services to its citizens.
    The United States led an international effort to address the humanitarian crisis that unfolded at Mount Sinjar. As there continues to be an acute humanitarian need elsewhere in Iraq, the U.S. appreciates the partnership of the United Kingdom, Canada, France, Italy and Australia and the United Nations in helping provide relief. I expect more nations to step forward with more assistance in the weeks ahead.
    Overall, these operations have stalled ISIL's momentum and enabled Iraqi and Kurdish forces to regain their footing and take the initiative. As Iraqi and Kurdish forces continue to take the initiative, the United States will continue to support them.
    But addressing the threat posed by ISIL to the future of Iraq requires political reform in Iraq. The country's peaceful transition of power last week was important, and the United States will continue urging Iraq's new prime minister to establish an inclusive government that is responsive to the needs of all Iraq's citizens. A united Iraq will be a more secure and prosperous Iraq.
    Political reform will make it harder for ISIL to exploit sectarian divisions. The United States and the international community will increase support for Iraq in tandem with political progress.
    The president, the chairman and I are all very clear eyed about the challenges ahead. We are pursuing a long-term strategy against ISIL because ISIL clearly poses a long-term threat. We should expect ISIL to regroup and stage new offenses.

      And the U.S. military's involvement is not over. President Obama has been very clear on this point. Our objectives remain clear and limited -- to protect American citizens and facilities, to provide assistance to Iraqi forces as they confront ISIL, and to join with international partners to address the humanitarian crisis.


    Does it sound like the US military is moving on?  Or does it sound like they're staying?

    The Defense Dept noted today, "Since Aug. 8, U.S. Central Command has conducted a total of 90 airstrikes across Iraq. Of those 90 strikes, 57 have been in support of Iraqi forces near the Mosul Dam."

    Where's the outcry?

    A functioning peace movement would be calling out the bombings?

    But a functioning peace movement would also note that Barack's pushing the US back in on the same 'logic' that Bully Boy said would lead to withdrawal.

    As they stand up, we will step down.

    That was the way Bully Boy Bush put it.

    As Iraq's military stood up, there would be no need for the US military and they would fall back to the US.

    Today?

    Barack says that as the Iraqi military stands up, they will receive more US military support.

    It's like a never ending cycle.

    And now Barack's doing what with the UN?

    From what Marie Harf said in today's State Dept press briefing, you'd assume our 'brave' 'peace' 'leaders' would be up in arms.

    QUESTION: You think, Madam, this is going to be major discussion of issue at the United Nations upcoming General Assembly meetings, and because who is funding them and who’s arming them and how to stop this new – many people call new face of terrorism or al-Qaida?


    MS. HARF: I think it will be. And as we’ve talked about a little bit, the President will be chairing a Security Council session on foreign fighters, particularly Syria and Iraq. I think it will be an incredibly important decision – or discussion, excuse me – around the General Assembly. When you have this many world leaders in one place, I don’t know, quite frankly, how it couldn’t be.


    QUESTION: And you think you need major powers with you like China and Russia?



    MS. HARF: We need everyone who will join us in this fight against ISIL.


    At the Los Angeles Times, Robin Wright asks what the point of the mission or 'mission' Barack has launched is and how success can be measured:

    What does "win" actually mean this time around? It's pretty fuzzy right now. We're in that feel-good phase of having helped prevent a genocide. But what's next specifically — and beyond?
    An American role is not likely to stop at the Mosul dam, where fighting reportedly resumed a day after Obama said Iraqi forces, with backup from American air power, had reclaimed it.
    How long could this mission last, if the Islamic State does not crumble as quickly as the Iraqi army did? I wouldn't bet on weeks. Or even months. This is a new phase in confronting extremism.

    Iraq is a new phase but most in the media prefer to ignore that.  It's not 'sexy' enough apparently.  But it's in a new phase and it could get worse or things could improve.


    You never asked for trouble but you've got fire that burns so bright… bright
    You turn and face the struggle when all the others turn and hide… hide

    You hold your head above the waves above the war they try to wage
    You are stronger than their hate


    Time for you to walk out walk in your own shoes
     -- "In Your Shoes," written by Sarah McLachlan, first appears on Sarah's new album Shine On



    The editorial board of the Christian Science Monitor offers:


    Iraq took a big step in that direction last week when Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki was forced to relinquish power, marking the country’s first peaceful transition of power in more than a decade. His tyrannical, violent rule had not only set the majority Shiites against minority Sunnis, it had also set Shiite against Shiite. His own ruling Islamic coalition had come to realize that sectarian-based politics had failed, threatening not only Iraqi democracy but the country itself. A political vacuum had left Iraq open to attack by the militants of Islamic State (IS), the group previously known as Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant or ISIS.
    A newly designated prime minister, Haider al-Abadi, was chosen to counter the threat from IS – precisely because of his ability to work with disaffected Sunnis as well as ethnic Kurds. “The country is in your hands,” whispered Iraq’s president, Fuad Masum, as he charged Mr. Abadi with the task of forming a new government.


    Before the April elections, we pointed out that not only did Nouri create the problems but that his continued presence at prime minister provided a common enemy to a variety of groups that, if Nouri weren't prime minister, would find less commonalities amongst themselves and probably splinter.

    Shane Harris (Foreign Policy) feels the splintering is taking place:

     ISIS and JRTN aren't natural allies. The former wants to erase Iraq's current borders and establish a caliphate, while the latter has been a largely secular movement that seeks to regain the official power and influence it held before the U.S. invasion in 2003. But they are aligned in their opposition to, and hatred of, outgoing Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's Shiite-dominated government. Each side wants him to go, and JRTN recognizes that ISIS stands the best chance of violently overthrowing the Iranian-backed regime in Baghdad.
    "The Baathists and ISIS had a marriage of convenience at the start of the takeover of Mosul," said Letta Tayler, a senior researcher with Human Rights Watch and a former journalist, who has reported extensively from Iraq on ISIS's human rights abuses and persecution of Shiites and religious minorities. "Baathists got muscle from ISIS, and ISIS got local legitimacy through the Baathists."

    But now that marriage may be fraying, to the possible benefit of Washington and Baghdad. 


    Regardless of fraying or not, the violence continues.  Margaret Griffis (Antiwar.com) reports, "At least 31 people were killed and 28 more were wounded. The low numbers, however, are deceptive. The Iraqi military also reported dozens of militant deaths across the country but gave no solid numbers."

    Lastly, music.  Last night, community sites focused on a favorite disco song.  So you got Kat with  "Heart of Glass," Elaine with "Lead Me On,"  Mike with "Rock The Boat, Don't Tip The Boat Over," Marcia with "We Are Family," Ruth with "Enough is Enough," Rebecca with "love to love you baby," Betty with "Upside Down,"  Ann with "Love Hangover" and Trina with "Don't Stop Till You Get Enough."  Without disco would the world even have the dance music of today?  One of the queens of dance music is Jody Watley and she's offered "Connecting Through Music. Paradise.."












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