Saturday, May 16, 2015








QUESTION: Did you consider that the Iraqi Government is fulfilling its commitment regarding the Sunni tribes, first? And is – or will the U.S. provide the Sunni arms directly without passing the Iraqi Government?

MR RATHKE: Well, our policy on arms transfers to Iraq is – remains the same. We – all of those arms transfers are coordinated through the Iraqi central government. That’s not going to change. And as I said, Prime Minister Abadi has made it a priority to reach out to the Sunni population in particular in Anbar, and so we support those efforts.

Namo, go ahead.

QUESTION: We have seen little progress in Prime Minister Abadi’s outreach to the Sunnis, because – I mean, if you just look at the cities and towns that have been falling to ISIS in Iraq, almost all of them have been Sunni towns. It’s predominately Sunni towns. Does that – what does that tell us? Does that – doesn’t that tell us that the Iraqi army, which is basically a predominately Shia army, is unwilling to protect Sunni areas? Or doesn’t that also tell us that Prime Minister Abadi has failed in his outreach toward – to the Sunnis? Because they have been demanding weapons and also some equipment that they need to defend themselves.

MR RATHKE: Well, and the Iraqi Government has been providing it. So they --

QUESTION: But they have failed.

MR RATHKE: No, but – I wouldn’t accept that characterization. The prime minister has been reaching out. He has made the commitments to enlist and to arm tribal fighters. And those aren’t just the commitments on paper, they’ve been happening. I was just talking about some of the most recent steps in answer to Michel’s question. And so in addition to his personal engagement in Anbar, there was just last week an induction of another thousand tribal fighters. So yes, more efforts are needed but Prime Minister Abadi has focused on this and he continues to pursue that.

That is Jeff Rathke and the State Dept's opinion.

It is not fact and should not be mistaken for fact.

The Congress begs to differ.

And too bad for the State Dept, Congress can cut off funding.

Now the White House and the State Dept can go around Congress if Congress cuts off funding -- the White House and the State Dept can do that by (a) breaking the law, (b) creating a Constitutional crisis and (c) courting impeachment of US President Barack Obama.

If they choose to pursue that, it will certainly liven up the remainder of Lame Duck Obama's final term in office.

Congress' opinion on the matter can be found below:

Requirements relating to assistance for fiscal year 2016
In general
Not later than 90 days after the date of the enactment of this subsection, the Secretary of Defense and the Secretary of State shall jointly submit to the appropriate congressional committees an assessment of the extent to which the Government of Iraq is meeting the conditions described in subparagraph (B).
The conditions described in this subparagraph are that the Government of Iraq—
is addressing the grievances of ethnic and sectarian minorities;
is increasing political inclusiveness;
is conducting efforts sufficient to reduce support for the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant and improve stability in Iraq;
is legislating the Iraqi Sunni National Guard;
is ensuring that minorities are represented in adequate numbers, trained, and equipped in government security organizations;
is ending support to Shia militias and stopping abuses of elements of the Iraqi population by such militias;
is ensuring that supplies, equipment, and weaponry supplied by the United States are appropriately distributed to security forces with a national security mission in Iraq, including the Kurdish Peshmerga, Sunni tribal security forces with a national security mission, and the Iraqi Sunni National Guard;
is releasing prisoners from ethnic or sectarian minorities who have been arrested and held without trial or to charge and try such prisoners in a fair, transparent, and prompt manner; and
is taking such other actions as the Secretaries consider appropriate.
The Secretary of Defense and the Secretary of State may submit an update of the assessment required under subparagraph (A) to the extent necessary.
The assessment required under subparagraph (A) and the update of the assessment authorized under subparagraph (C) may be submitted as part of the quarterly report required under subsection (d).
Restriction on direct assistance to Government of Iraq
If the Secretary of Defense and the Secretary of State do not submit the assessment required by paragraph (1) or if the Secretaries submit the assessment required by paragraph (1) but the assessment indicates that the Government of Iraq has not substantially achieved the conditions contained in the assessment, the Secretaries shall withhold the provision of assistance pursuant to subsection (a) directly to the Government of Iraq for fiscal year 2016 until such time as the Secretaries submit an update of the assessment that indicates that the Government of Iraq has substantially achieved the conditions contained in the assessment.
Direct assistance to certain covered groups
In general
Of the funds authorized to be appropriated under this section for fiscal year 2016, not less than 25 percent of such funds shall be obligated and expended for assistance directly to the groups described in subparagraph (E) (of which not less than 12.5 percent of such funds shall be obligated and expended for assistance directly to the group described in clause (i) of such subparagraph).
Additional direct assistance
If the Secretary of Defense and the Secretary of State withhold the provision of assistance pursuant to subsection (a) directly to the Government of Iraq for fiscal year 2016 in accordance with paragraph (2) of this subsection, the Secretaries shall obligate and expend not less than an additional 60 percent of all unobligated funds authorized to be appropriated under this section for fiscal year 2016 for assistance directly to the groups described in subparagraph (E).
Cost-sharing requirement inapplicable
The cost-sharing requirement of subsection (k) shall not apply with respect to funds that are obligated or expended for assistance directly to the groups described in subparagraph (E).
Rule of construction
Notwithstanding any other provision of law, the groups described in subparagraph (E) shall each be deemed to be a country for purposes of meeting the eligibility requirements of section 3 of the Arms Export Control Act (22 U.S.C. 2753) and chapter 2 of part II of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 (22 U.S.C. 2311 et seq.).
Covered groups
The groups described in this subparagraph are—
the Kurdish Peshmerga;
Sunni tribal security forces with a national security mission; and
the Iraqi Sunni National Guard.

That's Sec. 1223 of H.R. 1735 which passed the House on Friday (it remains a bill, the Senate has to pass their version) on a vote with 269 members supporting it (41 were Democrats) and 151 opposing it (143 were Democrats) while 12 members elected not to vote.

Wow, there is widespread Democratic opposition to this Iraq proposal.


The Iraq issue is the least controversial element of the bill (well the changes related to the registration and tracking of sex offenders is probably the section that has the most support from Democrats and Republicans, but after that, Iraq's the least controversial).

If you're not grasping that, Democrats are noting publicly their problems with the bill.  Leo Shane III (Military Times) reports, "House lawmakers on Friday approved a $612 billion defense authorization bill for next year despite objections from Democratic leaders and a White House veto threat over plans to skirt spending caps with oversized temporary war funds."

That makes me laugh.

For two reasons.

First, I've been at these hearings, Armed Services Comittee hearings, and heard Democrats and Republicans on the Committee -- both sides -- insist that the military must be sacrosacnt and not part of the sequestration (automatic cuts) and blah, blah, blah.

And, for the record, in the Veterans Affairs Comittee hearings (House and Senate), we hear the same statements, the automatic cuts should not effect the VA.

Every committee works to protect its own turf.

And now Nancy Pelosi, House Minority Leader, is objecting to fudging numbers because . . . she thinks sequestration should just be eliminated when it comes to the military.

More money flows to the DoD than any other element in the budget but Nancy is opposed to cut being implemented on Defense.

Once upon a time, Americans believed in a thing called  "shared sacrifice."

Meaning we all share in the cuts equally.

But they don't want to do that -- it's not full of the high drama Congress and the White House count on.

It's like the issue of the homeless in America.

Congress doesn't give a damn.

Unless it's veterans.

If it's veterans homeless, oh, let's talk, let's do, let's fund.

But the American citizens that Congress is supposed to represent -- all citizens, not just veterans?

They don't give a damn.

Nor does Barack.

He's promised that veterans homelessness ends this year.

Well bully for him.

But when does the US government ever intend to end homelessness in America?

The crisis exploded during Ronald Reagan's two terms as president.

And he's more or less blamed for it.

But Ronald Reagan's not only out of the White House, he's dead.

What prevented George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, Bully Boy Bush and now Barack Obama from seriously addressing this issue and ending homelessness in America?

The only thing that stopped them was a lack of caring.

(HW is infamous for stepping over the sleeping homeless while leaving various DC eateries.)

Paul Kane (Washington Post) offers that "Democrats largely opposed the measure Friday because of their demands for new negotiations to set up different spending limits on defense and non-defense agencies that were imposed by the 2011 Budget Control Act."

I hope that's clear enough for everyone.

The second reason I laugh?

The Iraq measure in the bill was supposed to be so controversial.

It is to the White House but it's not to Congress -- not to Congressional Democrats, not to Congressional Republicans.

Well they bellowed, and they hollered
And they threw each other down
Down in this valley
This cruel and lovely valley
Oh it should have been an alley
In some low down part of town

-- "Memorial Day," written by Carly Simon, first appears on her album Spy

And didn't they, though?

Didn't the press -- mirroring the White House -- because goodness forbid they come up with their own behavior -- insist that this was wrong, so wrong, so wrong?

Didn't they tell you that this Iraq section was going to be rethought?  And maybe pulled from the bill?

Didn't happen.

Never was going to happen.

And only idiots who hadn't attended Congressional hearings would have bought and/or promoted that nonsense.

It passed.

And it's not the source of Democratic objections.

Even the White House has sat its wild ass down on this matter realizing that they never had a chance at turning Congressional opinion on that in the first place but certainly not after certain thugs in Iraq -- thugs in the Iraqi government -- thought they could publicly threaten harm to the United States?

Congress is many things.  Arrogant to be sure.  But it's not a weak-willed president desperate to cave and remain silent in the face of threats from another country.

More than anything else, those threats solidified support in the House for this already popular provision.

So the Democrats are bothered that, to avoid spending caps, the bill ups the temporary expendiatures.

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