Category Archives: Iraq

Surely we have room

How about we get really humanitarian. Let us reach out and invite the persecuted Yazidi minority threatened by ISIS to establish a community here in the US.  We’ve sent bombers but those people are still in desperate straits.

The entire world population of Yazidis may be as few as 700K, and those in Iraq probably number between 200-300K, possibly less.  There’s already a large community in Nebraska.

And somewhere Paul Wolfowitz is saying we can clean up this mess in Iraq quickly and easily and it won’t cost the price of a movie plus popcorn. For sure.

http://murfinsandburglars.files.wordpress.com/2009/07/auto-tune-news-bill-kristol-all-in.jpg?w=300

It’ll be easy. Honest.

Shamelessly do I copy/paste an entire post from Andrew Sullivan today since I just saw that battle-hardened warrior Bill Kristol on the teevee saying with a straight face what Sullivan recounts here. It was an utterly  hallucinatory experience.

Here’s Sullivan: What do you do with near-clinical fanatics who, in their own minds, never make mistakes and whose worldview remains intact even after it has been empirically dismantled in front of their eyes? In real life, you try and get them to get professional help.

In the case of those who only recently sent thousands of American servicemembers to their deaths in a utopian scheme to foment a democracy in a sectarian dictatorship, we have to merely endure their gall in even appearing in front of the cameras. But the extent of their pathology is deeper than one might expect. And so there is actually a seminar this fall, sponsored by the Hertog Foundation, which explores the origins of the terrible decision-making that led us into the worst foreign policy mistake since Vietnam. And the fair and balanced teaching team?

It will be led by Paul D. Wolfowitz, who served during the Persian Gulf War as the Under Secretary of Defense for Policy and as Deputy Secretary of Defense during the first years of the Iraq War, and by Lewis Libby, who served during the first war as Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Policy and during the Iraq War as Chief of Staff and National Security Adviser to Vice President Dick Cheney.

Next spring: how the Iraq War spread human rights … by Donald Rumsfeld.

Most people are aware that relatively few of the architects of a war have fully acknowledged the extent of their error – let alone express remorse or even shame at the more than a hundred thousands civilian deaths their adventure incurred for a phony reason. No, all this time, they have been giving each other awards, lecturing congressmen and Senators, writing pieces in the Weekly Standard and the New Republic, being fellated by David Gregory, and sucking at the teet of the neocon welfare state, as if they had nothing to answer for, and nothing to explain.

Which, I suppose makes the following paragraph in Bill Kristol’s latest case for war less shocking than it should be:

Now is not the time to re-litigate either the decision to invade Iraq in 2003 or the decision to withdraw from it in 2011. The crisis is urgent, and it would be useful to focus on a path ahead rather than indulge in recriminations. All paths are now fraught with difficulties, including the path we recommend. But the alternatives of permitting a victory for al Qaeda and/or strengthening Iran would be disastrous.

But it is shocking; it is, in fact, an outrage, a shameless, disgusting abdication of all responsibility for the past combined with a sickening argument to do exactly the same fricking thing all over again. And yes, I’m not imagining. This is what these true know-nothing/learn-nothing fanatics want the US to do:

It would mean not merely conducting U.S. air strikes, but also accompanying those strikes with special operators, and perhaps regular U.S. military units, on the ground. This is the only chance we have to persuade Iraq’s Sunni Arabs that they have an alternative to joining up with al Qaeda or being at the mercy of government-backed and Iranian-backed death squads, and that we have not thrown in with the Iranians. It is also the only way to regain influence with the Iraqi government and to stabilize the Iraqi Security Forces on terms that would allow us to demand the demobilization of Shi’a militias and to move to limit Iranian influence and to create bargaining chips with Iran to insist on the withdrawal of their forces if and when the situation stabilizes.

What’s staggering is the maximalism of their goals and the lies they are insinuating into the discourse now, just as they did before.

Last time, you could ascribe it to fathomless ignorance. This time, they have no excuse. ISIS is not al Qaeda; it’s far worse in ways that even al Qaeda has noted undermine its cause rather than strengthen it. It may be strategically way over its head already. And the idea that the US has to fight both ISIS and Iran simultaneously is so unhinged and so self-evidently impossible to contain or control that only these feckless fools would even begin to suggest it. Having empowered Iran by dismantling Iraq, Kristol actually wants the US now to enter a live war against ISIS and the Quds forces. You begin to see how every military catastrophe can be used to justify the next catastrophe. It’s a perfect circle for the neocons’ goal of the unending war. I don’t know what to say about it really. It shocks in its solipsism; stuns in its surrealism; chills in its callousness and recklessness. So perhaps the only response is to republish what this charlatan was saying in 2003 in a tone utterly unchanged from his tone today, with a certainty which was just as faked then as it is now. Read carefully and remember he has recanted not a word of it:

February 2003 (from his book, “The War Over Iraq“):  According to one estimate, initially as many as 75,000 troops may be required to police the war’s aftermath, at a cost of $16 billion a year. As other countries’ forces arrive, and as Iraq rebuilds its economy and political system, that force could probably be drawn down to several thousand soldiers after a year or two.

February 24, 2003:  “Having defeated and then occupied Iraq, democratizing the country should not be too tall an order for the world’s sole superpower.”

March 5, 2003: “We’ll be vindicated when we discover the weapons of mass destruction.”

April 1 2003: “On this issue of the Shia in Iraq, I think there’s been a certain amount of, frankly, Terry, a kind of pop sociology in America that, you know, somehow the Shia can’t get along with the Sunni and the Shia in Iraq just want to establish some kind of Islamic fundamentalist regime. There’s almost no evidence of that at all. Iraq’s always been very secular.”

Yes, “always been very secular”. Always. Would you buy a used pamphlet from this man – let alone another full scale war in Iraq?

Who lost Iraq?

Who lost Iraq? Two views:

Fareed Zacharia says that first, above all, Nouri Al-Maliki lost it.

The prime minister and his ruling party have behaved like thugs, excluding the Sunnis from power, using the army, police forces and militias to terrorize their opponents. The insurgency the Maliki government faces today was utterly predictable because, in fact, it happened before. From 2003 onward, Iraq faced a Sunni insurgency that was finally tamped down by Gen. David Petraeus, who said explicitly at the time that the core element of his strategy was political, bringing Sunni tribes and militias into the fold. The surge’s success, he often noted, bought time for a real power-sharing deal in Iraq that would bring the Sunnis into the structure of the government. . .

But how did Maliki come to be prime minister of Iraq? He was the product of a series of momentous decisions made by the Bush administration. Having invaded Iraq with a small force — what the expert Tom Ricks called “the worst war plan in American history” — the administration needed to find local allies. It quickly decided to destroy Iraq’s Sunni ruling establishment and empower the hard-line Shiite religious parties that had opposed Saddam Hussein. This meant that a structure of Sunni power that had been in the area for centuries collapsed. These moves — to disband the army, dismantle the bureaucracy [Moe: thank you Paul Bremmer you creep] and purge Sunnis in general — might have been more consequential than the invasion itself.

Dexter Filkins, noting among other things that the border between Iraq and Syria has been erased, names three causes: 1) the Syrian war, and 2)  Al-Maliki, whose thuggery since the US withdrawal (which itself was necessitated in part by his absolute refusal to sign the usual Status of Forces Agreement to provide legal protections to remaining US Troops), and 3) . . .

Which brings us to the third reason. When the Americans invaded, in March, 2003, they destroyed the Iraqi state—its military, its bureaucracy, its police force, and most everything else that might hold a country together. They spent the next nine years trying to build a state to replace the one they crushed. By 2011, by any reasonable measure, the Americans had made a lot of headway but were not finished with the job . . .

Today, many Iraqis, including some close to Maliki, say that a small force of American soldiers—working in non-combat roles—would have provided a crucial stabilizing factor that is now missing from Iraq.

So Bush broke it and Obama left before it was finished (I’m surprised that Filkins beleives we could ever actually ‘finish’ it). By the way, Filkins is a war correspondent of the ‘old school’ and spent years in Iraq during the war and his book about that time, The Forever War, is just stunning.

 

Oh damn them damn them and damn them again

When (perhaps ‘if’ but I’m not hopeful) Iraq dissolves and brings eastern Syria and Kurdistan with it and the region falls into a few more decades of war, I will remember Paul Wolfowitz assuring the Senate before our 2003 invasion that ‘there is no history of sectarian violence in Iraq’. Really, he said that. In a neighborhood where sectarian war has been the norm for  a thousand years. He said that.

Damn them all.

Let’s remember more than the fallen . . .

image006 (2)Today is the 240th day of the twelfth year of the US war in Afghanistan. So as we approach 13 years there, and pass the 11th year of the Iraq occupation, let’s tune out those who would call a President who moves to extricate us a ‘traitor’. Instead, let’s remember Korea and Vietnam and the lessons we failed to learn from those two hapless interventions.

Afghanistan is already slipping back into its territorial and tribal fights and Iraq is facing increasing sectarian conflict reminiscent of the Sunni/Shia ‘civil war’ of 2005-06.

My hope for today is that those who call for more war will find no ears to hear. Let them shout into the wind.

Bill Keller wins – meet the new Joe Lieberman

The once (and never-again-please-I-beg-you) Editor of The New York Times, Bill Keller, steps up to speak out about Syria:

As a rule, I admire President Obama’s cool calculation in foreign policy . . . frankly I’ve shared his hesitation about Syria, in part because*, during an earlier column-writing interlude at the outset of the Iraq invasion, I found myself a reluctant hawk. That turned out to be a humbling error of judgment, and it left me gun-shy.

*Good old Bill, predictable fellow that he is, still thinks it’s all about him. (The whole sorry thing is here.)

Of course, there are important lessons to be drawn from our sad experience in Iraq: Be clear about America’s national interest. Be skeptical of the intelligence. Be careful whom you trust. Consider the limits of military power. Never go into a crisis, especially one in the Middle East, expecting a cakewalk.

Now, here we go . . .

But in Syria, I fear prudence has become fatalism, and our caution has been the father of missed opportunities, diminished credibility and enlarged tragedy.

Looks like he got over that gun-shyness thing just in time for Sock It To Me: Chapter II. I think John McCain and Ms. Graham should have the guy over for a few cocktails and high fives.

7 brilliant insights from Noam Chomsky on American empire

POSTED BY ORHAN

Reposted from AlterNet.  Note: I rearranged the entries in the article from shorter to longer.

by Laura Gottesdiener, AlterNet

Noam Chomsky is an expert on many matters — linguistics, how our economy functions and propaganda, among others. One area where his wisdom especially shines through is in articulating the structure and functioning of the American empire. Chomsky has been speaking and publishing on the topic since the ’60s. Below are seven powerful quotes on the evils, atrocities and ironies of the American empire taken from his personal site and from a fan-curated Web site dedicated to collecting Chomsky‘s observations.

1. “[The U.S. still names] military helicopter gunships after victims of genocide. Nobody bats an eyelash about that: Blackhawk. Apache. And Comanche. If the Luftwaffe named its military helicopters Jew and Gypsy, I suppose people would notice.” — Propaganda and the Public Mind: Conversations with Noam Chomsky and David Barsamian

2. “Suppose that, say, China established military bases in Colombia to carry out chemical warfare in Kentucky and North Carolina to destroy this lethal crop [tobacco] that is killing huge numbers of Chinese.” — Noam Chomsky on the irony of the drug war waged by the United States in Central and South America

3. “If something is right (or wrong) for us, it’s right (or wrong) for others. It follows that if it’s wrong for Cuba, Nicaragua, Haiti, and a long list of others to bomb Washington and New York, then it’s wrong for Rumsfeld to bomb Afghanistan (on much flimsier pretexts), and he should be brought before war crimes trials.” — “On Terrorism,”Noam Chomsky interviewed by John Bolender, Jump Arts Journal, January 2004

4. “Globalization is the result of powerful governments, especially that of the United States, pushing trade deals and other accords down the throats of the world’s people to make it easier for corporations and the wealthy to dominate the economies of nations around the world without having obligations to the peoples of those nations.” — Profit over People: Neoliberalism and the Global Order Continue reading

Gunpowder in the air? The Three Amigos are ready – again!

Messrs McCain, Lindsay and Lieberman are calling for war again. They always do – this is their act and it’s getting stale.

Mr. McCain, Mr. Lieberman and Miss Graham

Of course they’ll insist they don’t want ‘real’ war, just ‘support for the rebels’. They’re not particularly concerned that there are many different kinds of rebels – now including worrisome Islamist elements.

The three gentlemen had an op-ed in The Washington Post the other day, laying out their case. It is – thank Elvis – not tea party reasoning and it’s not all about Jeebus either. But it is classical neo-con Middle East war hawk stuff, evidenced by this, reason number-whatever:

. . . ensuring that al-Qaeda and its violent brethren are unable to secure a new foothold in the heart of the Middle East.

I heard those exact words about Iraq – in 2003, 04, 05, 06 . . . from the same war party.

The people who are doing the best job right now of keeping the Islamists in check are the countries actually in the heart of the Middle East; for them, the danger is at their own front doors. Right now, even the new Egyptian government and its Muslim Brotherhood president are themselves taking aggressive action.

Syria isn’t Egypt. And Egypt wasn’t Libya. And Libya wasn’t Tunisia.

But Syria could be Lebanon, which would be a fearsome outcome. But no matter the danger, we can’t do it from here. You can’t kill an idea with a bullet. Only politics can achieve that.

Reagan’s failure in Lebanon proved it.

Perhaps he’s hitting a few golf balls?

I sure hope George Bush is having a nice life.

Today is the 145th day of the 11th year of the War in Afghanistan.

And are we still at ‘war’ in Iraq? We invaded that country nine years ago this month, so something like 4,000 days?

$1.3 Trillion American dollars (mostly borrowed, can’t raise taxes ya’ know; this ain’t the 1940’s fer Elvis’ sake!). Watch the dollar clock here.

US military dead in Iraq – 4486.

US military dead in Afghanistan – 1914.

Could it actually happen?

Today’s big news is that Romney lost three caucuses last night.  Anyone remember who won them in ’08? Of course not. No delegates were even in play last night; in a few months it won’t matter a bit.

Our elections – as they often are – could be decided by events over which neither the President, nor any candidate has control (most of which even the United States can’t control); we can only mitigate them. So who the Republicans ultimately nominate and who wins the November election may depend on:

  • the state of the ‘Arab spring’ by July
  • the state of the European economy this summer, and thus
  • the state of the US economy
  • Afghanistan and, yes, Iraq where conflicts are still largely religious and more violence is inevitable
  • the price of oil

Any or all of these things will factor in our elections (as will the conservative success in spinning them as Obama failures). In normal times, even with these  problems, I think Romney would still be the likely candidate. (And I still think Obama would win the election.)

But what if times aren’t normal? What if one of those things explode? What if that happens before the Republican convention . . . if that happens, bombast could take the day. Fear could triumph.

Much as we allowed ourselves, in our fear, to be lied into Iraq discarding both the truth and history, could the GOP do the same and reject Romney?

If that did happen, frightened delegates could be seduced by a radical voice articulating their fears.  We all know who that would mean.

Welcome home. Welcome home.

The next Friedman Unit in Iraq should be interesting

I posted this morning about Turkey’s military movement into Northern Iraq which was followed today by Obama’s abrupt announcement that all US troops (not just combat troops) would be out of Iraq by the end of this year (although this is always a bit confusing since the Embassy will have 16,000 personnel).

And now, it seems that we closed the last US norther base in Iraq yesterday.

U.S. shutters northern HQ in Iraq

BAGHDAD — The U.S. military closed the second of its three regional headquarters in Iraq on Thursday, redeploying 750 soldiers, consolidating command of nationwide operations under a single Army unit and maintaining a rapid pace of withdrawal 10 weeks before the expiration of its security agreement with Baghdad.

I doubt very much that these are unrelated events. I just had the news on and it’s all chitterjaberchatter about the troop withdrawal announcement. But I haven’t heard anything about the Turkish troops.  But the story in the Washington Post notes that:

As the U.S. military carried out its deactivation ceremony, 10,000 Turkish soldiers engaged in a ground offensive against Kurdish rebels who had attacked border towns Wednesday, the Turkish military said.

Iraq, part deux?

Remember “Kurdistan:, that region spanning northern Iraq and eastern Turkey that has. for decades, sought independence? Iraq might have allowed it to happen were it not for a dispute over Tikrit, an important oil city. But Turkey was never going to allow it to happen.

I was just visiting my friend Mac at Talk and Politics, and guess what?

After the Kurdish PKK killed 26 Turkish security forces this week – Turkey has now launched a big military operation into Northern Iraq with 22 battalions with air support.

For the U.S., I think this is going to be ‘rock and hard place’. Our presence there, despite the drawdown of combat troops, remains murky. From wikipedia:

In a speech at the Oval Office on 31 August 2010 Obama declared “the American combat mission in Iraq has ended. Operation Iraqi Freedom is over, and the Iraqi people now have lead responsibility for the security of their country.”[87][88][89] Beginning September 1, 2010, the American operational name for its involvement in Iraq changed from “Operation Iraqi Freedom” to “Operation New Dawn.” The remaining 50,000 U.S. troops are now designated as “advise and assist brigades” assigned to non-combat operations while retaining the ability to revert to combat operations as necessary.

UPDATE: Obama just announced that all US troops, not just combat troops, will be out of Iraq by the end of this year. That’s really interesting.

Still rebuilding Iraq. The US can wait.

Those cranes would be welcome in my home town

Our ’embassy’ in Baghdad opened in 2009. We call it an embassy, but it’s really a small city behind enormous blast walls and protected by thousands of troops and contractors. It’s entirely independent of Baghdad itself, and has its own power plants, water supply and waster water treatment facilities.  There are 21 stand alone buildings.

It is larger than Vatican City. It is larger than Disney World. And up to now security has been the responsiblity of the US Department of Defense.  That ends soon and all tasks, including security, are to be turned over to the US State Department.

The State Department is racing against an end-of-year deadline to take over Iraq operations from the U.S. military, throwing up buildings and marshalling contractors in its biggest overseas operation since the effort to rebuild Europe after World War II.

While attention in Washington and Baghdad has centered on the number of U.S. troops that may remain in Iraq, they will be dwarfed by an estimated 16,000 civilians under the American ambassador — the size of an Army division.

I certainly understand that appearances matter – a diplomatic presence is less hostile than a military presence. It’s friendlier. And that’s a good thing.  But come on . . . !

The list of responsibilities the State Department will pick up from the military is daunting. It will have to provide security . . . in a country that is still rocked by daily bombings and assassinations. State is contracting a security force of about 5,000.

. . . The State Department will operate its own air service — the 46-aircraft Embassy Air Iraq — and its own hospitals . . .  4,600 contractors, mostly non-American, will provide cooking, cleaning, medical care and other services. Rounding out the civilian presence are about 4,600 people scattered over 10 or 11 outside sites.

I wonder what the budget is?

Never forget this either

POSTED BY ORHAN

Since 9/11, America has dished out a lot more than was done to us that day.

Some of the “achievements” that resulted from the 9/11 attacks include: the invasion and occupation of Afghanistan and Iraq, causing the deaths of hundreds of thousands of innocent men, women, and children, and displacement of up to four million more, as well as strengthening Iran’s influence in the region; the murders of hundreds of innocents by drone attacks in Pakistan, destabilizing the government and triggering the rise of the Pakistani Taliban; the breakdown of the rule of law, including preventive war and detention, kidnappings and renditions, extrajudicial murders, outsourcing of torture; the normalization and popular acceptance of torture techniques that we hanged war criminals for after WWII; the massive expansion of executive power to the point the President now asserts the authority to order the killing of anyone, Americans included, anytime, anywhere in the world, without explanation or justification; the expansion of domestic government surveillance of all Americans, including logging all internet activity and monitoring of phone conversations and financial transactions; normalization and acceptance of stop-and-search, humiliating pat-downs at airports, machine gun-wielding soldiers on streets and in subways, arrests of anti-war activists; expansion of the propaganda machine used to keep the population in perpetual fear, e.g., the three Pakistanis supposedly on their way to the US yesterday to attack by car bomb.

All this is old news, but it must be remembered, too. Today’s ceremonies are an integral part of the propaganda machine, even allowing for the fact that our tears are real; the cry “never forget” is now part of the national DNA. And we won’t forget: a hundred years from now, if America still exists, 9/11 will be used as an excuse for bombing third-world countries. 9/11 has become little more than a pretext for endless war and repression.

UPDATE FROM MOE: I just came accross this graphic at Sekan’s blog, along with a related story. I think it’s a perfect compliment to Orhan’s post and adds even more perspective, so I throwing it in.

Wonder if they’ll have political parties?

I hope they have enough traffic lights

Guess the wars are on my mind today – all this deficit talk without any talk of wars is disgraceful. So I decided to check in and see how things are going with our new Embassy in Baghdad.

Did you know:

  • It’s the largest and most expensive embassy in the world
  • It’s two and a half times the size of Vatican City
  • It’s budgeted at $6.2 billion
  • The embassy complex comprises 21 buildings on a 104 acre (42 ha) site (Disneyland is 85 acres).
  • A Kuwaiti company got the contract to build it

From Wikipedia:

The embassy has extensive housing and infrastructure facilities in addition to the usual diplomatic buildings. The buildings include:[8]

  • Six apartment buildings for employees
  • Water and waste treatment facilities
  • A power station
  • Two “major diplomatic office buildings”
  • Recreation, including a gym, cinema, and a swimming pool

The complex is heavily fortified, even by the standards of the Green Zone. The details are largely secret, but it is likely to include a significant US Marine Security Guard detachment. Fortifications include deep security perimeters, buildings reinforced beyond the usual standard, and five highly guarded entrances.[citation needed]

Your basic small city. Embassy my ass. We’re never leaving Iraq.

And let us not forget the 800 or so military bases we have across the world which cost us about $102 billion yearly.

Jobs. Jobs. Jobs.