CELEBRITY IN CHIEF BARRY O JUST GOT ANOTHER AWARD!
HE'S BEEN NAMED "THE WEAKEST U.S. PRESIDENT OF ALL TIME"!
REACHED FOR COMMENT, A GLEEFUL DAHLIBAMA GUSHED, "YOU ALWAYS HOPE YOUR WORK WILL BE NOTED BUT WITH SO MUCH GOING ON IN THE WORLD, YOU'RE NEVER SURE IT WILL BE. THEN A MOMENT LIKE THIS COMES ALONG."
BARRY O STOPPED SPEAKING TO WIPE AWAY A FEW TEARS OF JOY.
"I WON A TIN OF DIFFERENT KINDS OF POPCORN ONCE IN COLLEGE. IT DOESN'T PREPARE YOU FOR THIS MOMENT. "
FROM THE TCI WIRE:
The western press whores themselves out repeatedly.
That's why Nouri is in power right now. He didn't get a second term from the voters, they didn't go for him which is why his State of Law came in second in the 2010 parliamentary elections. The White House gave him the second term in 2010. And Iraq has suffered ever since.
Here's the Brookings Institution's Kenneth M. Pollack:
The problems began after Iraq's 2010 national elections. The elections themselves were wonderful -- the best yet. Iraqis voted overwhelmingly for Ayad Allawi’s mostly-Sunni Iraqiya and Maliki's overwhelmingly Shi'a State of Law coalitions, the two groups seen as most secular, least sectarian and least tied to the militias. Of the two, Iraqiya garnered slightly more votes. But Maliki refused to believe that he had lost, insisting that the vote had been rigged (perhaps by the Americans, his aides claimed) and refusing to allow Allawi to take the first turn at forming a government. Then he pressured Iraq's high court to rule that he could get the first shot at forming a government, which deadlocked the entire political system. And the United States (and the UN) went along and said nothing. Rather than insist that Allawi be given the first chance, as is customary in most democracies and as was clearly what was best for Iraqi democracy. The U.S. did nothing. Ten months of political backstabbing followed, and in the end, the Iranians forced Moqtada al-Sadr to back Maliki, uniting the Shi'a behind him. At that point, the Kurds fell into place, believing that the prime minister had to be a Shi'a, and Iraqiya's chances were finished. It was also a defeat for Iraqi democracy. The message that it sent to Iraq's people and politicians alike was that the United States under the new Obama Administration was no longer going to enforce the rules of the democratic road. Washington was not going to insist that the will of the people win out. America was willing to step aside and allow Iraq's traditional political culture of pay-offs, log-rolling, threats and violence to re-emerge to determine who would rule the country. It undermined the reform of Iraqi politics and resurrected the specter of the failed state.
Pollack leaves a lot out in the above but you'll note that he does begin to put some blame on the White House. They can't escape it forever. And the best thing about the blame? It may mean the White House can't steal the 2014 election (supposed to take place April 30th) for Nouri this go round -- or at least not without getting called out.
We're playing catch up with Pollack. Last week's "Leahy: In any country, this legal interpretation is extraordinary" covered the Senate Judicial Committee hearing, the "Iraq snapshot" on the 12th covered the
Senate Veterans Affairs Committee hearing and the "Iraq snapshot" for the 13th covered US Secretary of State John Kerry appearing before the House Foreign Affairs Committee.
We've got one more hearing to report on from last week. Thursday, December 12th, there was a joint hearing held by the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Terrorism, Nonproliferation and Trade and the Subcommittee on the Middle East and North Africa. For the first Subcommittee, the Chair is Ted Poe and the Ranking Member is Howard Berman. US House Rep Ileana Ros-Lehtinen is the Chair of the second Subcommittee and US House Rep Ted Deutch is the Ranking Member.
The topic was al Qaeda in Iraq. We may explore that identification in another snapshot. For now, we'll just note Pollack on the term:
Nevertheless, it is also important to recognize that AQI was actually only one of many Sunni insurgent/terrorist/militia groups operating in Iraq against the Shi'a, the Americans and to a lesser extent, the Kurds. At the height of Iraq’s civil war, dozens of groups like the 1920s Revolution Brigade, Ansar al-Sunnah, Jaysh al-Muhammad and Jaysh Rijal al-Tariqa Naqshbandia (JRTN). Many, but not all, of these groups embraced the same Salafist theology as AQI, but all of them espoused the same virulent Sunni chauvinism. To a considerable extent, we have come to use the term "AQI" as a shorthand term describing a wider range of violent Sunni extremist groups.
Appearing before the two Subcommittees were Pollack, Jessica D. Lewis (Institute for the Study of War), Michael Knights (Washington Institute for Near East Policy and Daniel Byman (professor in the Security Studies Program at Georgetown University).
We're going to note the hearing in at least two snapshots. Since the topic was Iraq, we may end up doing more coverage of it than just two snapshots.
Congress was highly resistant to Nouri al-Maliki when he met with them in the last week of October. (Friday, November 1st, he went to the White House and met with US President Barack Obama.) They're resistant because they know Nouri's a thug.
They don't have to whore like Jane Arraf and other reporters do.
We're very critical of John Kerry's failures with regards to Iraq. So much so that some e-mails complain about how Hillary got a pass. I think you need to look at the reporting in January on Hillary's testimony to Congress before you argue Hillary got a pass.
In terms of Iraq, Hillary wasn't over it. We noted that in real time. US Vice President Joe Biden was supposed to be in charge but he really couldn't go around War Hawk Samantha Power either (Power argued the White House had to give Nouri a second term -- Barack went along with her).
One good reason for Hillary not being over Iraq and for her making only one visit to the country? Nouri al-Maliki hates her. He hates most women, true. But Hillary talked what a thug and criminal he was in an April 2008 Senate hearing. Nouri never forgot. Now Biden made similar comments but spread out over time. He's also a man so Nouri's more likely to go meek.
It is not just Democrats or just Republicans that know Nouri's a thug, an abuser of human rights, a criminal. This is known in both parties of Congress. And when I note that here, someone wants to whine that that's just not true. Like Senator Barbara Boxer's public remarks indicting Nouri have vanished?
From Thursday's hearing, we're first going to note two statements on Nouri.
Subcommittee Chair Ted Poe is a Republican. We don't usually note party i.d. -- there are already enough harsh divisions in this country. But to make sure everyone gets that both parties know Nouri is a thug and a menace, we're going to do two party i.d.s.
Subcommittee Chair Ted Poe: Now he wants some help once again. He talks out of both sides of his mouth while trying to cozy up to the United States, he cozies up to the Iranians at the same time. Prime Minister Maliki came here dragging the sack in November wanting more tax payer money. He wanted attack helicopters and all sorts of advanced equipment. But is that what he needs to go after al Qaeda? Does he have other reasons for wanting that equipment? Maliki has centralized power. alienated the Sunnis, brought back the Shi'ite hit squads. This in part has allowed al Qaeda to return to be back in Iraq. What Maliki needs is a new strategy to fight al Qaeda. This includes doing a better job of reaching out to the Sunni population so that they feel that Maliki represents all Iraqis, not just one group.
Alright. Ranking Member Brad Sherman is a Democrat. What does he think of Nouri?
Ranking Member Brad Sherman: And he wants American weapons. And his biggest argument is that we should give him American weapons because his enemies hate us. The problem is, his friends hate us too. And his friends in Tehran are more dangerous to us than his enemies in Falluja. Now Maliki's argument goes something like this: He holds office today solely as a result of various actions taken by the United States -- some of which were mistakes. And so therefore he is our product and therefore we have to protect him and do whatever he wants. And so therefore he is one of the good guys no matter who he allies himself with today. The fact is, his allegiance to Tehran is only a little bit less than Assad's allegiance to Tehran. But Maliki's government goes something like this: Since he has been the beneficiary of a series of American mistakes in the past, we have a legal duty to continue to make mistakes on his behalf in the future. Uhm, if we're going to provide him with weapons, there ought to be at least four conditions. The first is that he start trying to reach a compromise with at least some elements of the Sunni community. He's taken provocative actions against Sunnis such as postponing elections in Sunni areas and forcing prominent Sunni politicians out of the government. He shouldn't be seeking the best deal he can for the Shi'ite community, he should be seeking a peace that would benefit not only him but the United States. And he needs to allow proper Sunni representation in his government. Second, if he wants our weapons, he ought to pay for them. People involved in foreign policy seem to be so focused on foreign policy that whether we get paid for the weapons is a footnote. The fact is Iraq has plenty of oil now, will have even more in the future. They've to enough cash to pay for the weapons now and they can certainly borrow on the international markets and, at very minimum, they can agree to pay us later in cash or oil. Third, he's got to stop Iranian flights over his air space into Syria. He'll say, 'Well then give me an airforce.' We don't have to. All he has to do is authorize the Saudi, the Turkish or the American airforce to ensure that his air space is not used by Iranian thugs transiting to so that they can destroy and kill as many innocent people and some non-innocent people in Syria. And finally he's got to focus on the hostages of Camp Ashraf and the human rights of those in Camp Hurriyah also known as Camp Liberty. These are international responsibilities that he has. So if there is no penetrating analysis, the argument will be: 'We created him, he seems like a good guy, he's in trouble, therefore we give him weapons for free.' That is the default position of our foreign policy
Get it? Criticism of Nouri is bi-partisan. It is not about who controls the White House. Though Democrats were the most vocal of the two groups back when Bully Boy Bush was in the White House, many Republicans in Congress, especially in the Senate, were publicly critical of Nouri and his thug ways.
And now we're going to note Kenneth Pollack's testimony:
Unfortunately, over the past two years, Iraq has taken a noticeable turn for the worse, although how bad things will get still remains uncertain. Our topic today, the reemergence of al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI), is among the most visible and frightening manifestations of Iraq's downward turn. AQI has been one of the principal culprits in the worsening violence across Iraq. In 2012, Iraq experienced a 10 percent increase in violent civilian deaths. That was the first annual increase since 2006, prior to the so-called "surge." In 2013, Iraq may very well experience a 100 percent increase in violent civilian deaths over 2012. Thus, it is not an exaggeration to say that violence is multiplying in Iraq by orders of magnitude. However, we need to recognize that the increasing violence in Iraq, and the reemergence of groups like AQI do not constitute Iraq's problems per se. They are instead the symptoms of those problems. They are the outward manifestations of deep-seated structural conflicts and unresolved differences among Iraq’s various constituencies. Although it is not impossible to mitigate or even resolve those underlying problems, they will not be overcome easily, and few of Iraq's political leaders are making the kind of effort that would be needed to do so. Instead, most of Iraq's leaders concentrate on achieving short-term tactical gains against their rivals, often in ways that exacerbate those problems rather than ameliorating them. For this reason, it will be difficult even to meaningfully reduce the levels of violence in Iraq without addressing Iraq's fundamental political -- and, to a lesser extent, economic and social -- problems. Iraq will never be peaceful, prosperous and free of the scourge of AQI and groups like it until Iraq's leaders properly grapple with those underlying problems and forge reasonable compromises to allow the country to move forward. The converse is also true. The longer that Iraq's fundamental political problems are allowed to fester; the longer that Iraq's bad, old political culture is allowed to hold sway; and the longer that Iraq's leaders obsess over how to beat their adversaries rather than fixing what ails the nation, the worse the violence is likely to get and the stronger that groups like AQI are likely to grow. In the end, as they hope, these groups might succeed in pushing the country back into civil war. [. . .] Looking back, Iraq may have reached its political, military and economic apex in 2009 and early 2010. In 2009 Iraq held provincial elections, and in 2010 national elections, that had resulted in stunning victories for those parties considered the most secular, the most vested in improving governance and services, the least tied to the militias and the least sectarian. They also handed equally stunning defeats to the parties most closely tied to the militias and the civil war. Indeed, the militias -- Sunni and Shi'a -- were withering, as were the vast majority of terrorist groups. Violence and deaths were way down. Secular, peaceful, nationalistic Iraqi leaders -- including Sunnis like Osama al-Nujaifi and Rafe al-Issawi -- were emerging and becoming dominant figures in government. There was a widespread feeling that everyone had to play by the democratic rules and no one could get caught subverting the will of the Iraqi people or even being too corrupt. All of this progress was very real, but it was also very fragile. Like a bone that had been fractured but was now mending, it needed a cast to protect it, hold it, and allow the bones to knit together and become strong. That role was played by the United States, in particular by our military forces in Iraq. During that time frame, it became an increasingly symbolic role as the drawdown in troop strength meant that we did less and less of the actual provision of security for Iraqis, but it was an absolutely critical role. As long as American forces remained, Iraqis did not fear the re-emergence of the security vacuum or the widespread use of violence by any group -- including whichever group controlled the government, thereby giving it by far the greatest capacity to use violence against its rivals. It also meant that Iraq's political leaders had to abide by the democratic rules of the road laid down by the Americans. This enabled good Iraqis to act constructively, and prevented the bad ones from acting too destructively. Iraqis could assume that the future would be better, not worse, and make decisions based on their hopes, not their fears. The problems began after Iraq's 2010 national elections. The elections themselves were wonderful -- the best yet. Iraqis voted overwhelmingly for Ayad Allawi's mostly-Sunni Iraqiya and Maliki's overwhelmingly Shi'a State of Law coalitions, the two groups seen as most secular, least sectarian and least tied to the militias. Of the two, Iraqiya garnered slightly more votes. But Maliki refused to believe that he had lost, insisting that the vote had been rigged -- perhaps by the Americans, his aides claimed -- and refusing to allow Allawi to take the first turn at forming a government. Then he pressured Iraq's high court to rule that he could get the first shot at forming a government, which deadlocked the entire political system. And the United States -- and the UN -- went along and said nothing. Rather than insist that Allawi be given the first chance, as is customary in most democracies and as was clearly what was best for Iraqi democracy. The US did nothing. Ten months of political backstabbing followed, and in the end, the Iranians forced Muqtada as-Sadr to back Maliki, uniting the Shi'a behind him. At that point, the Kurds fell into place, believing that the prime minister had to be a Shi'a, and Iraqiya's chances were finished. It was also a defeat for Iraqi democracy. The message that it sent to Iraq's people and politicians alike was that the United States under the new Obama Administration was no longer going to enforce the rules of the democratic road. Washington was not going to insist that the will of the people win out. America was willing to step aside and allow Iraq's traditional political culture of pay-offs, log-rolling, threats and violence to re-emerge to determine who would rule the country. It undermined the reform of Iraqi politics and resurrected the specter of the failed state. Having backed Maliki for prime minister simply to end the embarrassing political stalemate, the Administration compounded its mistake by lashing itself uncritically to his government. No matter what Maliki did -- good, bad or indifferent -- Washington backed him. Whether it was out of fear of being criticized for allowing him to remain in office in the first place, or sheer lack of interest and a desire to simply do what was easiest and required the least effort on the part of the US, the Administration applauded and overlooked everything he did. Maliki certainly did some good. He was not all bad. But he also did some very bad things -- things that were highly subversive of Iraqi democracy. Among the worst was to thoroughly politicize the ISF, ousting huge numbers of the competent, apolitical officers that the United States had worked so hard to put in place and replacing them with people loyal to him, regardless of their credentials. Very quickly, the ISF went from an apolitical force that most Iraqis trusted, to a servant of the Maliki government deeply distrusted by those outside the prime minister's camp.
Again, we'll cover the hearing in at least one more snapshot this week. But the violence isn't happening in a vacuum. The foreign media in Iraq has been far too permissive when it comes to Nouri al-Maliki, allowing him to define what is violence, allowing him to define what started the violence.
The fact of the matter is, in 2010, he refused to nominate people to head the security ministries so that he could control them. Why is it only CNN can note that this is harmful to the security situation?
They've fawned over Nouri, they've covered for him. They've done everything but hold him accountable.
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