Thursday, January 01, 2009

Unity train keeps on rolling . . .

Today the US military announced: "A U.S. Soldier died, Dec. 31, in Balad, Iraq from injuries sustained during combat operations, Dec. 30."  And they announced: "A Multi-National Division -- Baghdad Soldier died from wounds sustained during a mortar attack in Baghdad Dec. 31."  The announcements bring the total number of US service members killed in Iraq since the start of the illegal war to 4221.  The toll for the month thus far is 14.  You could say, "The death toll so far is the same as the media reported for October" but . . .  14 was the October death toll; however, the media rushed to insist it was 13. So it'll be cute to see if anyone references the October death toll in their reporting and, if so, how they do it.  If your outlet reported 13 and never corrected it, you're really pushing it to just say, "The same number as in October."  13 was the death toll for July -- the lowest monthly death toll for 2008.
Speaking of bad reporting . . . The Philadelphia Inquirer's Trudy Rubin wrote a laughable column (another one) that was published in the US on Christmas Eve and was published Monday in Taiwan.  Trudy sees "signs of change on the streets of Baghdad" but, silly fool, she also believes that the US treaty with the puppet government in Baghdad will be followed.  There are puppets in Baghdad smarter than Trudes.  Where to start?
The "US Troops Withdrawal Agreement" is what the treaty was called by al-Maliki and what foolish idiots believed it was.  It was no such thing.  The treaty was needed to grant another one-year extension.  The United Nations' Security Council could have extended the mandate for a year but the White House didn't want that.  (Nor did al-Maliki who had -- two years in a row -- already gone around Parliament to get the mandate extended twice.) The treaty needed to cover a year.  When the US began addressing it (in 2007), they frequently spoke of that reality.  Trudy (and Patrick Cockburn) must have been sleeping.  2009 is the only year that both sides have to follow.  2010 can find the contract altered or cancelled.  The same with 2011.  In 2010, both parties may choose to replace it with a new treaty.  It is a one-year contract with two options for renewal. 
In mid-November, al-Maliki took to Iraq TV (state TV) to declare, "The pact stipulates that U.S. troops are to withdraw from cities and towns by June 30, 2009.  And it is a deadline that will not be extended.  It also says that [the US] should withdraw from Iraqi land, water and air space by January 1, 2011 -- which is a deadline that will not be extended."  That was back when he was calling it the "US Withdrawal Agreement."
Nouri and Bully Boy were shoulder-to-shoulder recently.  Remember that?  At al-Maliki's palace?  Maybe people forget because the one-shoe, two-shoe incident attracted so much attention?  But check the transcript at the White House and see what al-Maliki's calling it?  Is he calling it the "US Withdrawal Agreement"?  No.  He's using the same term the White House did "SOFA" -- Status Of Forces Agreement.  It's not a withdrawal agreement.  And at the December 20th Green Zone press conference, Iraqi Maj Gen Qassim Atta called the treaty the "US Withdrawal Agreement"?  No.  He referred to the June 2009 'withdrawal' as being "according to what's been said during -- the agreements, an agreement, the security agreement". 
The US Withdrawal Agreement was just a brand al-Maliki slapped on it in November when he was attempting to pressure Parliament to vote for it.  Since then, that 'term' is no longer used, not even by al-Maliki.  Now let's deal with the June claim Trudy's pimping.  From the December 22nd snapshot:
Today Elisabeth Bumiller (New York Times) examines the realities of the so-called US withdrawal from Iraq and it's not a pretty sight.  Bumiller and Thom Shanker reported last week on how the 'plan' presented to president-elect Barack Obama -- the Petraeus-Odierno plan -- wouldn't allow for that campaign 'promise' of a US withdrawal of combat troops from Iraq.  Friday Julian E. Barnes (Los Angeles Times) reported that word games could allow for the impression that promises were being kept -- including what the treaty masquerading as a Status Of Forces Agreement allegedly promised. For context,  Sudarsan Raghavan and Qais Mizher (Washington Post) explained last week, "American combat troops will remain inside Iraqi cities to train and mentor Iraqi forces after next summer, despite a security agreement that calls for their withdrawal from urban areas by June 30, the top U.S. military commander said Saturday."  With all that as the backdrop, Bumiller explains today that "a semantic dance" has begun at the Pentagon over what qualifies as a combat soldier and, with regards to the treaty, "Even though the agreement with the Iraqi government calls for all American combat troops to be out of the cities by the end of June, military planners are now quietly acknowledging that many will stay behind as renamed "trainers" and "advisers" in what are effectively combat roles. In other words, they will still be engaged in combat, just called something else."  Bumiller notes that "trainers" and "advisers" will be the renaming terms for "combat troops" in order to keep them in Iraq: "In other words, they will still be engaged in combat, just called something else." Of Barack, she notes, "it has become clear that his definition of ending the war means leaving behind many thousands of American troops."
So that means we've taken care of The Trudys and their "withdraw from major cities in June!" nonsense.  (And it's already been learned that even the private contractors/mercenaries clause may not stand.)  With the well known history of US treaties, you really had to be naive to think it would work out any differently.  Naive or a liar.
So let's back up to this 'safer' claim.  The same  December 20th Green Zone press conference found Maj Gen Atta expounding on what's in store for the coming year: "The year of 2009 is going to witness a lot more coordination between Baghdad Amanat and the BOC and also the traffic police to reopen all the closed roads and streets and to also lift or remove all the concrete barries or security barriers, and [. . . .]"  Really?  And the security's going to hold?  Hmmm.  It's very likely that some of the news outlets pulling reporters from Iraq and sending them to Afghanistan may have to alter those plans at some point in the new year.

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