Friday, September 03, 2010

Pretending to work





To Margaret Warner last night, Joe Biden denied that 2006 and 2007 were being used as the benchmark (Warner noted how Iraqis told her the use of such a benchmark is offensive) but the reality is that is what they point to in order to declare a 'calmer' Iraq. On All Things Considered (NPR -- link has text and audio) yesterday, Melissa Block spoke with Iraq's one time legal adviser to the United Nations Zaid Al-Ali.
Melissa Block: You spent time traveling all over Iraq, and I'd like to start with you in the south of the country, the largely Shiite south, an area with huge oil reserves. What are conditions and security like there, for example, in the port city of Basra?
Zaid Al-Ali: Well, I mean, today, the conditions are very poor throughout Iraq, the south included. But comparably, if you're comparing it to, for example, 2007 or 2006, they've improved somewhat, especially from a security point of view. You can, you know, go from one place to the other without being certain that you'll be killed on the way or kidnapped. However, regularly, there's demonstrations and riots over poor quality of public services, particularly electricity and the state of hygiene. Basra used to be called the Venice of the south because it's a city that's made up of a large network of canals, and those are now filled with garbage, completely chock-o-block. It's really amazing. You have this sense of a very poor country despite all the wealth of natural resources.
Melissa Block: Right, so the people in the south aren't reaping the rewards of those oil riches that we mentioned?
Zaid Al-Ali: No, they aren't. And that's really the amazing thing is we often hear that Iraq's ruling elite is sectarian in the sense that the Shia only care about the Shia and the Sunnis only care about the Sunnis. Well, it turns out that that's not even true. If that were true, then there would be improvement on the current situation because in fact they don't render any services to anyone.

It's a sovereign Iraq -- or that's what we're told by Barack. South African Press Association reports:
But for Fadel, the supposed sovereignty of Iraq is also contradicted by the "preponderant" US role in the country, particularly on security issues, and UN sanctions which give the New York-based institution considerable power here.
"Baghdad is still under Chapter 7 of the UN charter," he said, which means that 20 years after the invasion of Kuwait, Iraq is still the target of drastic sanctions of the Security Council.
Chief among them is the requirement to pay 5% of oil revenues into a UN special fund which handles war reparations, and to which Iraq has paid $30bn so far.
"Iraq still needs the American umbrella. It is unable to protect itself from external attacks," Fadel added.
Barack's Tuesday night speech included his 'sharing the limelight' with his pal Bully Boy Bush. Marcia refers to it as "Barack goes down on Bush," Cedric and Wally saw it as proof that Barack's got a crush on Bush, Mike argued it was proof positive that Barack was both a fraud and a putz, Elaine fact-checked the little liar on his claim that Bush loved veterans and backed them and dreamed of them and Elaine fact checked him by noting what John Kerry argued in 2004 debates against Bush, and Rebecca went after War Hawk Tony Blair and his claim that "military action was justified" by noting that if it were justified why would it require lying. On Free Speech Radio News yesterday, Norman Solomon shared the following evaluation of Barack's Tuesday night speech, "The speech really wasn't so much about Iraq except as a segueway to glorify a war based on lies, and then by contrast, at least inferentially, declaring the Afghanistan war as even more glorious, ostensibly." Meanwhile Andrew Malcolm (Los Angeles Times) reports Barack Tweeted his own speech. Meanwhile the Center for Constitutional Rights' Bill Quigley and Laura Raymond observe:
Another false ending to the Iraq war is being declared. Nearly seven years after George Bush's infamous "Mission Accomplished" speech on the USS Abraham Lincoln, President Obama has just given a major address to mark the withdrawal of all but 50,000 combat troops from Iraq. But, while thousands of US troops are marching out, thousands of additional private military contractors (PMCs) are marching in. The number of armed security contractors in Iraq will more than double in the coming months.
While the mainstream media is debating whether Iraq can be declared a victory or not there is virtually no discussion regarding this surge in contractors. Meanwhile, serious questions about the accountability of private military contractors remain.
In the past decade the United States has dramatically shifted the way in which it wages war -- fewer soldiers and more contractors.
Last month, the Congressional Research Service reported that the Department of Defense (DoD) workforce has 19% more contractors (207,600) than uniformed personnel (175,000) in Iraq and Afghanistan, making the wars in these two countries the most outsourced and privatized in U.S. history.
According to a recent State Department briefing to Congress's Commission on Wartime Contracting, from now on, instead of soldiers, private military contractors will be disposing of improvised explosive devices, recovering killed and wounded personnel, downed aircraft and damaged vehicles, policing Baghdad's International Zone, providing convoy security, and clearing travel routes, among other security-related duties.
The death of trust is what Tim Dunlop (Australia's ABC's The Drum Unleashed) explores, noting the undermining of both trust in the government and in the media as a result of their selling of the illegal war. He also notes how the empire responded to being called out:
Inevitably, the empire(s) fought back. A million articles appeared that sought to brand "bloggers" as know-nothing kids in pyjamas living in their parents' basements. They were ridiculed and lampooned, even as their complaints about false information on WMDs, the role of al Qaida in Iraq, the death toll, were vindicated.
Politicians attacked too. Dissenters were labelled as unpatriotic or useful idiots or whatever other insults could be found to cover their own culpability.
Who could forget
John Howard piously declaring, "If there's a demonstration, it does give some encouragement to the leadership in Iraq," and that "People who demonstrate and who give comfort to Saddam Hussein must understand that and must realise that..."
Governments even attacked public servants they deemed enemies. In the US, CIA undercover agent
Valerie Plame was outed after her husband criticised the Bush administration, while here, the Howard Government dishonestly smeared former intelligence analyst, Andrew Wilkie.
In his Tuesday night speech, Barack lied that the US was 'safer' as a result of the Iraq War. Interviewing War Hawk Tony Blair today on NPR's Morning Edition (link has text and audio), Steve Inskeep pointed out, "A little bit earlier this year, a former head of MI-5, British intelligence service, gave testimony about the war in Iraq in which she said that that war, or perhaps we should say the narrative of that war, radicalized many Muslims inside Britain and outside Britain to turn against the West. Did the decision go to war in Iraq, the inevitable decision to have Westerners killing Muslims, with the inevitable propaganda that would be made of that, turn out to be counterproductive?" Blair's promoting his new book What I Did For Bush: It Takes A Sex Slave. Steve Inskeep is referring to Eliza Manningham-Buller who testified to the Iraq Inquiry July 20. From that day's snapshot:
Committee Member Roderic Lyne: So you're saying you had evidence that the Iraq conflict, our involvment in the Iraq conflict was a motivation, a trigger, for people who were involved in the attacks in London in July 2005, who were going to Afghanistan to fight. Were there other attacks or planned attacks in which you had evidence that Iraq was a motivating factor?
Eliza Manningham-Buller: Yes. I mean, if you take the video wills that were retrieved on various occasions after various plots, where terrorists who had expected to be dead explained why they had done what they did, it features. It is part of what we call the single narrative, which is the view of some that everything the west was doing was part of a fundamental hostility to the Muslim world and to Islam, of which manifestations were Iraq and Afghanistan, but which pre-dated those because it pre-dated 9/11, but it was enhance by those events.

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