Wednesday, March 30, 2011



son of a bush




Last night at the National Defense University in DC, US President Barack Obama stammered and started and stopped in that gear ripping speaking 'style' he has. (Here for text of speech at The Atlantic; here for text and video at White House website.) As Ava and I noted in early 2009: "We watched Monday in full as Barack uh-uh-uhed and spoke in that robotic manner that allows him to find more unnatural pauses than Estelle Parsons and Kim Stanley combined. 'He's our Method president!' we quickly gasped while wishing we could have one president this decade capable of normal speech. If he gets any worse, he'll be Sandy Dennis."
I have seen and done things I want to forget
A Corporal whose nerves were shot
Climbing behind a fierce, gone sun
I seen flies swarming everyone
Soldiers fell like loads of meat
These are the words, the words are these
Death lingering, stunk
Flies swarming everyone
Over the whole summit peak
Flesh quivering in the heat.
This was something else again
I fear it cannot explain
The words that make, the words that make murder
What if I take my problem to the United Nations
What if I take my problem to the United Nations
What if I take my problem to the United Nations
-- "The Words That Maketh Murder," written by PJ Harvey, from her new album Let England Shake
Last night, Barack was attempting to justify starting the Libyan War but just came across as a "Son of a Bush." Today Prensa Latina carries Fidel Castro's "NATO's Fascist War." He references a February 21st column explaining "The Nato Plan Is To Occupy Libya" (link goes to English version). Today, Castro expresses desbelief, noting that "Not even the fascist leaders of Germany and Italy were so extremely brazen following the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War in 1936" and notes that over 50 years ago (March 1960) was the La Coubre incident "when the US killed over 100 Cubans" and the response from the Cuban people was "Fatherland or Death" and he sees a similar response among the people of Libya as a possibility. (La Coubre was a ship which exploded in the Havana Harbor in March 4, 1960. It's generally considered to have been a CIA assault. Time magazine whitewashed it snidely in the March 14, 1960 article.) For community reactions, see Marcia's post, Ruth's, Rebecca's, Elaine's, Mike's, Betty's, Trina's, Kat's, Ann's and Cedric's and Wally's (joint-post) (and if you've had enough of the topic, Stan covers No Ordinary Family at his website).
To be blunt, we went down that road in Iraq. Thanks to the extraordinary sacrifices of our troops and the determination of our diplomats, we are hopeful about Iraq's future. But regime change there took eight years, thousands of American and Iraqi lives, and nearly a trillion dollars. That is not something we can afford to repeat in Libya.
And it's not something that was done in Iraq. Is he that stupid or is it his speech writers? First off, does he really want to be playing True Confessions when his British buddies like Jack Straw have insisted there was no policy of regime change -- insisted that before the Iraq Inquiry? Second, Saddam Hussein was president of Iraq when the US invaded in 2003. The US took Baghdad April 9, 2003 and Hussein was no where to be found. Presumably, that was regime change. If not, US forces captured him December 13, 2003. Did that qualify as regime change? He stood trial beginning in June of 2004. Are you telling me regime change still hadn't taken place? He was executed December 30, 2006? Regime change still hadn't take place?

What a load of crap. Regime change took place April 9, 2003. The US has occupied Iraq since and propped up a puppet government. A new thug replaced an old one, that's not progress and shame on anyone who attempts to pretend it was.
It's exactly those kinds of lies that breed the violence in Iraq. Today, AFP reports a Tikrit provincial counil building was invaded by assailants wearing "suicide vests" and a security official stated at the time the report was filed, "Police cannot approach because the gunmen are shooting from inside. All of the attackers are wearing suicide belts." DPA notes that before they took control of the building, they first "set off two car bombs outside the headquarters." Citing Ministry of the Interior officials, Mohammed Tawfeeq (CNN) reports that the assailants wore police uniforms. Lara Jakes and Sameer N. Yacoub (AP) quote the province's governor, Ahmed Abdullah, telling AP, "We've lost contact with three provinicial council members who were inside the building when the attack took place." The death toll continued to rise with updates. By 6:16 PM Baghdad time, Al Jazeera had counted 19 dead and noted, "Rawya Rageh, Al Jazeera's correspondent in the capital Baghdad, said there has not been this kind of attack since the siege on a Baghdad Church" October 31st.
Among the dead is said to be journalist Sabah al-Bazi. Al Arabiya reports their correspondent was one of 20 people killed. AFP reports that, as police rushed to the scene, a car bomb went off claiming the lives of Sabah al-Bazi, police Col Imad Nofan and Nofan's deputy. MediArabe reports 20 dead and sixty injured. By ten p.m. Baghdad time, Zhang Xiang (Xinhua) was reporting 40 dead and one hundred injured while Hassan Obeidi (AFP) was reporting 58 dead and ninety-seven injured. Xiang notes that at least four of the dead "were provincial council members" and that "U.S. helicopters flew over the area as U.S. and Iraqi SWAT (Special Weapons And Tactics) force arrived in the afternoon at the scene and started operation to free the hostages and killed the suicide bombers, the source said." Obeidi adds, "Hospital sources said they had received the bodies of six attackers. They said two showed they had died after detonating their suicide vests, and four were killed by shots fired by security forces."
Moving just a little further north from Tikrit, you find Kirkuk. Tim Arango (New York Times) reports:
Many in this divided city want U.S. troops to stay longer than President Barack Obama's administration has said they will, and a tense standoff last week showed why. Kurdish troops from the north were in positions on the outskirts of Arab neighborhoods.
To calm the latest flare-up of the longstanding ethnic rivalries here has required a rush of high-level diplomacy, including phone calls from Vice President Joe Biden to Kurdish leaders and the deployment of U.S. troops, a rarity in Iraq today.

Oil-rich Kirkuk, sought after by the KRG and the government or 'government' in Baghdad. A story of grievances of who was forced out most, who suffered the worst, who can claim it. In 2005, a method for resolving the issue was decided upon and written into the Iraqi Constitution. By 2007, a census would be taken followed by a referendum on the issue. The Constitution went into effect in the second half of 2005, Iraq held elections in December 2005. In April 2006, Nouri al-Maliki became prime minister-designate and, in May 2006, prime minister.

Who dropped the ball?

That would be Nouri. Despite being bound by the Constitution, despite then agreeing to the White House benchmarks (which included the resolution of Kirkuk) in 2007, Nouri's never followed through as he was required to do. As late as November, it appeared the census would finally take place. Sure, Nouri had postponed it plenty of times. But it was set for early December and it needed to take place. And Nouri was full of promises to the Kurds of how it would take place. Then he became prime minister designate and, although he couldn't come up with a full Cabinet, he could and did immediately call off the census.

Kirkuk is an issue for Iraqis because, once decided, it will be a sore spot for decades, possibly longer. It is their country and, for those who don't give a damn about that, you really don't decades of hate towards the US because they awarded Kirkuk to one side or the other. By not ensuring that Nouri followed the Constitution, the US has made the decision: Kirkuk belongs to Baghdad. If that doesn't change real damn quick, the US takes the fall for the decision.

The US government has repeatedly supported Nouri and backed him up. They've kept US forces on the ground to ensure he remains in power. To allow him to repeatedly ignore the Constitution is making a decision. By default, the US government is making a decision.

And it's a real damn shame that so few have paid attention to the issue. And a real damn shame John Kerry's become such a joke that he'd support a nominee for US Ambassador (Chris Hill) who clearly didn't grasp the issues in his confirmation hearing despite bragging about the intense tutorial he'd received. Kirkuk was minor, Hill insisted, nothing but a minor land dispute. And it all just sailed over John Kerry's head. And whatever the US had diplomatically accomplished under Ryan Croker fell by the wayside. John Kerry wants to be Secretary of State but he wasn't ready to be Chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. From the March 25, 2009 snapshot reporting on then-nominee Chris Hill's testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee:
He was ill prepared throughout and even with the softballs lobbed by the Democratic majority committee, he wasn't able to answer the questions. He was prepped. Senator Edward Kaufman asked a question and Hill was bragging about his prep there. The question was about Kirkuk and Hill wanted the committee to know that, just days ago, he had a special briefing: "I had the briefing. It turns out it is a very complex issue."
"It turns out it is a very complex issue." That statement is frightening. It's all the more frightening that Hill needed the briefing because, as he stated, he couldn't understand what the hold up re: Kirkuk was. It was just a land dispute! (Kirkuk is oil-rich, the Kurdistan Regional Government says it belongs to them and that Saddam diluted Kurdish power and control. The central government wants it as well.) Kirkuk is a great deal more than a land dispute. It goes to history, it goes to long-standing grievances, it goes to resources and it goes to control. That Hill couldn't grasp that as a casual observer is frightening. His remarks on Kirkuk were all over the place throughout the hearing and, had he not informed he'd been briefed on Kirkuk, one would assume he'd never given the matter more than ten seconds thought.
It's not a pressing issue, he insisted. The hydrocarbons law is the pressing issue. Not Kirkuk. Even when he thought it was a mere land dispute, he should have grasped how important Kirkuk is. At times, his answers indicated the US would decide what to do (bad move -- Iraqis need to make that decision because it's their land; the US doesn't need to be involved) and at other times he seemed to think the United Nations. Never once did he seem aware that maybe an regarding Iraqi land should be decided by Iraqis (either just within the province or throughout the country). His grasp of the United Nations work was also troubling because he seems to believe they have this huge team of workers on the ground and that they've always been working on the issue of Kirkuk. Reality, the UN got invovled in the Kirkuk issue last year only because it threatened to derail the provincial elections (and almost did). Hill seems completely ignorant of those realities. He thinks the KRG is the equivalent of Bosnia and Kosovo. He would tell Senator Russ Feingold that the issue of Kirkuk was "just old fashioned land dispute." Told him that today after also claiming that's what he used to think before his briefing days ago. Hill appeared to have no short term memory at all and no record of what he'd said to one senator before answering the other.
Despite having no concept of the issue, Tuesday April 21, 2009, Hill was confirmed by the Senate to the post of US Ambassador to Iraq -- a post in which he was infamous for doing nothing other than taking long afternoon naps. (James Jeffrey is the current US Ambassador to Iraq and -- as anyone would be -- he's a huge improvement over Hill.) While Hill dithered, the situation got much worse. Today Olga Belogolova (National Journal) advises, "In a recent book called Unfinished Business: An American Strategy for Iraq Moving Forward," six Iraq experts, including Brookings Institutions' Kenneth M. Pollack, warn that the fractured region could slip into an all-out civil war." UPI reports, "Last week it took the deployment of U.S. troops to prevent a confrontation after Kurdish soldiers from the north took positions on the outskirts of Kirkuk's Arab neighborhoods." Back when Hill was showing up at his confirmation hearing the then-top US commander in Iraq, Gen Ray Odierno, had already called Kirkuk the most pressing issue then facing Iraq.

RECOMMENDED: "Iraq snapshot"
Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts "Son of a Bush"
"Nouri makes nominations"
"The issue of Kirkuk"
"The new Curveball"
"The liar"
"Who I agree with"
"war whore juan cole"
"The embarrassing and the sad"
"Ex-boyfriends, NPR, Barack -- they all think we're stupid"
"Impeach him"
"No Ordinary Family"
"Monday thoughts"
"A celebrity with a mission"