Saturday, June 25, 2011







Kevin Pina: What has he offered? What has President Obama put on the table in his speech yesterday?
Gareth Porter: I'm afraid my analysis is not a very optimistic one in the sense that I'm afraid he's offering a scam which is very similar to that that he's undertaken in Iraq. And I say that because what he did in his speech if you really carefully read through it, there's a passage that really demands parsing in light of the Iraq experience -- where he talks about the "responsible withdrawal" from Afghanistan being similar to what we did in Iraq. By that, he's talking about essentially, you know, once he's withdrawn the full increment of the so-called "surge" troops, that is the 33,000 that he added as a result of a decision in 2009 -- in December 2009 --
Kevin Pina: Subsequent to George Bush's committments -- troop committments.
Gareth Porter: Well that's right. I mean, first of all, he put in an increment that the Bush administration had already agreed on, he kind of taking up the burden of the Bush administration, that is in March 2009. But then in Decemeber 2009 came the big 33,000 increment which now he's talking about withdrawing that by the end of 2012 -- sorry, not the end of 2012 but September 2012, excuse me. And that is not everything that the military and the Pentagon wanted but I calculate that it's about 80% of what they asked for. [ . . .] My concern is beyond 2012. He's completely, without any details going to manuever. What he's going to do about Afghanistan once the surge troops have been removed. And what he has said is that it will be, like I said, it will be like Iraq. There will be a responsible withdrawal. He says there'll be some withdrawal after 2012.
Kevin Pina: And a larger role for contractors?
Gareth Porter: He doesn't talk about that but we know that there are contractors in Afghanistan. But look, there's -- The big problem here is that what he's talking about is the potential for a perpetual war in Afghanistan. He's really conceeded to the military the idea that even beyond 2013 -- 2013 -- the United States will continue to have combat troops there. Now he's being very vague in terms of what the policy is going to be like afterr 2013. But it's clear if you look at what happened in Iraq that this is what's going to happen.
Dana Milbank (Washington Post) heard echoes of George W. Bush's "MISSION ACCOMPLISHED" and also questioned the veracity of the claims Barack made:
"Drawdown from a position of strength" sounds eerily like the "return on success" phrase that George W. Bush used in Iraq -- and the similarities did not end there. "We take comfort in knowing that the tide of war is receding," Obama told the nation. "We have ended our combat mission in Iraq, with 100,000 American troops already out of that country. And even as there will be dark days ahead in Afghanistan, the light of a secure peace can be seen in the distance."
To be sure, the president was characteristically muted in his celebration, warning of "huge challenges" ahead. His staff was rather less restrained; speaking under the cloak of anonymity, his aides held a teleconference Wednesday afternoon with audible chest thumping. "We haven't seen a terrorist threat emanating from Afghanistan for the past seven or eight years," one boasted, finding "no indication that there is any effort within Afghanistan to use Afghanistan as a launching pad to carry out attacks. . . . The threat has come from Pakistan over the past half-dozen years or so, and longer."
So if there hasn't been a terrorist threat coming from Afghanistan for seven or eight years, why did Obama send tens of thousands of additional troops into a conflict that has claimed more than 1,500 American lives? And why is he leaving most of them there?
Ah yes, those glorious days of "unity" -- when no one, save a brave few, dared stand up against the war hysteria. When anyone who looked vaguely Muslim was attacked in the streets. United in hatred and fear -- what a grotesque nostalgia for our "progressive" president to give voice to! Like his predecessor, Obama has often praised this mystic post-9/11"unity," including twice in this speech, and therein lies the mark of the tyrant, who always welcomes the unthinking submission to authority wartime brings.
This war-narrative is getting threadbare, however, and has some significant gaps: suddenly, we are told that, seemingly out of nowhere, "our focus shifted," and "a second war was launched" – apparently all by itself, by means of spontaneous combustion. One hardly expects him to mention of the key role played by his own party, which stood by and cowered -- or cheered -- as George W. Bush led the nation down into the quagmire, banners flying. But the distancing act -- "by the time I took office" – is a little too glib: Bush gets all the blame for Iraq, and the decision to escalate the Afghan war is pushed off on "our military commanders." But isn't Obama the commander-in-chief?
Our president, a prisoner of history, bravely confronts circumstances shaped by others. He praises himself for making "one of the most difficult decisions I've made as President," the launching of the "surge" in which 30,000 more troops were sent to the supposedly neglected Afghan front. "We set clear objectives," he avers, and yet our ultimate goal was -- and still is -- obscured in murk: does anyone, including the President, know what victory looks like?

And in what may be the first editorial board of a daily newspaper since Barack's speech earlier this week to call for an immediate withdrawal from Afghanistan, the Santa Fe New Mexican offers "Light? What Light? Bring 'em All Home"

The president couldn't have chosen worse words Wednesday as a framework for announcing a minimal troop withdrawal from Afghanistan: "The light of a secure peace can be seen in the distance."
Shades of Lyndon Johnson, linked forever to the "light at the end of the tunnel" he sought to show a press and public increasingly and properly wary of our war in Vietnam. That war, fought on behalf of a corrupt regime with our military's hands tied, would go on for another half-dozen years after Johnson's public-relations campaign on behalf of futility and 60,000 American deaths before we abandoned the place amid chaos.
Let's move on over to Iraq and let's start by noting The Diane Rehm Show (NPR). When Diane ignores Iraq on her Friday 'round up' of pretend stories and non-issue, it's disgusting because she knows better, she knows when the US is at war, it is the job of the US press to cover it. But Diane, for all her faults, was not a War Whore. Katty Kay was. The trash from England -- who forever thinks she's about to step into a time machine and be transported back to the 90s where she can Chris Matthews can cackle as they trash Hillary Clinton (Katty's always jumping at the bit to trash Hillary to this day) -- shouldn't be allowed on NPR to begin with. Truly, the media needed to get accountable after selling the illegal war on Iraq. Accountability would mean two-bit whores like Katty Kay weren't put back on the airwaves.
Of course if that happened, we wouldn't realize just what a stupid imbecile Katty Kay is.
There was Katty, in the second hour, avoiding Iraq even when National Journal's Michael Hirsh managed to work it in for one sentence. Katty quickly changed the subject. At the end of the show, Katty found there was time to fill. So she launched into China -- where no US forces are on the ground. Maybe Brit's shouldn't host American programs that the US government pays for if they're so stupid that they really think that after the violence in Iraq this week, China was the way to go?
But there was Katty, wanting to talk abot Syria and proving she's the stupidst and sorriest excuse for a journalist today.
KATTY: How nervous are people, Nancy? I mean, not just in Syria, of course, but in all . . . I mean -- uh, how many countries does Syria border? I can't count them, but it's right there in the middle of that area. And it's causing -- the ripples of what is happening in Syria are being uh watched very carefully from Israel --
Nancy A. Youssef: That's right!
KATTY: -- from Lebanon, of course, from Turkey, from Iran. They must all be watching what's going on there.
Do they not teach geography in England?
She doesn't know what borders Syria but managed to cheerlead the impending Iraq War?
Iran does not border Syria. Iraq, howevver, does. What a stupid moron. She wants to talk about Syria but doesn't know the countries around it. In 2002 and 2003, you couldn't escape Katty insisting that the US must go to war with Iraq. And today she doesn't even know that Iraq borders Syria. (And that Iran doesn't.)
NPR can't deal with Iraq these days and not just Diane's bad show, but all of NPR -- forty dead in four Baghdad bombings yesterday and not one damn story on any of their three major "news magazines" NPR airs daily. That's putting the Crock in the Joan B. Kroc Fellowship. Iraq does get discussed elsewhere, it can be done. On Antiwar Radio, Scott Horton spoke with journalist Patrick Cockburn about Iraq.

Scott Horton: My first question, if it's alright, is going to be about the sujbect of your book there, Moqtada al-Sadr, and the future of Iraq and whether or not that includes the American occupation after the end of this year which is the deadline for withdrawal in the Status Of Forces Agreement. I'm sure you're aware that the Secretary of Defense and others in the administration have made it pretty clear that they want Malki to "invite us" to stay longer. I just wonder, of course, you've always told me on this show is that Moqtada al-Sadr is the answer to that question. Is that still the case and is his position still the same?
Patrick Cockburn: If US troops remain then this is not going to be without opposition -- particularly from Moqtada, from the Sadrists. So, you know, up to now the assumption has been that they would not stay. I don't think they've quite taken on board that having some troops -- depending on how many troops -- stay, having troops remain and trying to be some sort of player in Iraq you know is going to create a reaction in the opposite direction.
Scott Horton: Well so I mean as far as the oversimplified math of it goes, is it still a matter of Maliki, the prime minister, needs Moqtada al-Sadr's support and Sadr will not support him if he makes this compromise and therefore he will not? Is it that easy?
Patrick Cockburn: No, everything in Iraq is sort of complicated because everybody has the ability to checkmate everybody else. I mean Maliki got back in because ultimately the Sadrists backed him. He got support from the US and -- excuse me [coughs] -- he got support from Iran. Somebody, an Iraqi leader, said to me, you know it's a lucky Maliki, you know, he's got support from the Great Satan -- which the Iranians call the US. And he got support from the Axis of Evil -- which is what the US calls Iran. Now he needed Moqtada to get back. He needed various other people to get back. He did deals. Now is he going to drop everybody say now he's back in and return to what made him so unpopular previously and try and sort of set up an autocracy. We don't know. He keeps sort of ducking and diving. But I don't think having a continued US presence is going to stabilize Iraq.
The Youth of Iraq continue attempting to save their country with protests demanding the basic rights owed alll human beings. Today's protests were called "Firm Roots Friday." The Great Iraqi Revolution notes, "Our Correspondent in Baghdad: Streams of crowds approaching Tahrir amidst pressures and hurdles imposed by heavily deployed security forces around the Squar while the crowds chant 'THEY ARE ALL THIEVES!'" Here for video of the Baghdad protesters chanting "'Jethab Nourie Al Maliki' (Nourie Al Maliki is a Liar)!!!"

RECOMMENDED: "Iraq snapshot"
"Thug Nouri and First Lady Moqtada"
"Muddled 'leaders'"
"I Hate The War"
"Meatloaf in the Kitchen"
"A political declaration"
"Cynthia McKinney"
"3 men, 3 women"
"6 men, no women"
"stevie nicks rocks europe"
"Does The NewsHour exist to amuse itself?"
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"Marriage Equality"
"Barack's problem"
"The Next Three Days"
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"Thoughts on the war lust"
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"Mr. Roboto goes home"