Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Why he didn't send one






The morning began with AP reporting that 5 US soldiers were killed today in Iraq. Five US soldiers. That's 41 US soldiers killed since August 31st when Barack announced the 'end' of 'combat operations' January 22, 2009 -- 2 days after Barack was sworn in -- the US military death toll in Iraq stood at 4229. Sunday it was 4457. (Note, that is the Defense Dept count. The link goes to the official DoD tally which has not yet been updated to note the 5 deaths today.) Add the 5 today for 4462. It's 29 months since Barack was sworn in as President of the United States and US troops remain in Iraq and the US government pushes for an extension of the SOFA to stay beyond 2011 and plans to slide troops under the State Dept umbrella -- and Strategic Framework Agreement -- if the SOFA isn't extended or a new agreement made.
July 23, 2007, the Democratic Party had their candidates vying for the party's presidential nomination debate in South Carolina (CNN/YouTube debate). From that debate . . .
Senator Barack Obama: We just heard a White House spokesman, Tony Snow, excuse the fact that the Iraqi legislature went on vacation for three weeks because it's hot in Baghdad. Well, let me tell you: It is hot for American troops who are over there with 100 pounds worth of gear. And that kind of irresponsibility is not helpful. So we have to begin a phased withdrawal; have our combat troops out by March 31st of next year; and initiate the kind of diplomatic surge that is necessary in these surrounding regions to make sure that everybody is carrying their weight. And that is what I will do on day one, as president of the United States, if we have not done it in the intervening months.
Of course, my favorite Barack lie on the Iraq War was the one he featured in the campaign commericals of states about to have their primaries. "We want to end the war!" Barack would shout to yelling and applause. "And we want to end it now!"
I have no idea where "day one" or "now!" went but someone forgot to pack the sense of immediacy since it never made it into the White House as evidenced by the fact that US troops remain in Iraq. And US troops continue to die in Iraq. 233 US troops have died in Iraq since Barack Obama was sworn in as president. 233 US troops have died in Iraq since the man swearing he'd end the Iraq War took his presidential oath. 233 and this passes for 'peace'? 233 -- a figure Elizabeth Flock (Washington Post) should have on her list of numbers. Dropping back to Friday's snapshot:
In related news, John R. Parkinson (ABC News) reports that Speaker of the House John Boehner has said Barack Obama needs to "step up and help the American understand why these missions are vital to the nationaal security interest of our country. [. . .] I really do believe that the president needs to speak out, in terms of our mission in Afghanistan, our mission in Iraq, our mission in Libya, and the doubts that our members have frankly reflected they're reflecting what they're heaing from their constituents."
And Boehner appears to have had a point judging by the White House today. "In other words, I was right!" Jay Carney laughed at the White House press briefing as he attempted to handle such important issues as whether Angela Merkel's visit was a "state visit" or a "government visit." It was disgusting for a number of reasons including that the long-in-the-tooth Jay is more than a bit too old to be grabbing this position.
Setting aside Tony Snow who, as a personal favor, took the job in the Bully Boy Bush administration, I believe you have to drop back to Jerald terHorst to find someone older than Jay. Jerald terHorst was 52-years-old and only served for 30 days. He resigned when Gerald Ford pardoned Richard Nixon, "As your spokesman, I do not know how I could credibly defend that decision in the absence of a like decision to grant absolute pardon to the young men who evaded Vietnam military service as a matter of conscience and the absence of pardons for former aides and associates of Mr. Nixon who have been charged with crimes -- and imprisoned -- stemming from the same Watergate situation." There's something really sick about seeing a 46-year-old man in a position that's really the equivalent of stock boy at the local grocer.
But mainly it was disgusting that it was 21 minutes into the briefing before Jay acknowledge the 5 deaths and then only because he had been asked about US forces remaining in Iraq past 2011. And note how he gets uh-uh-uh so nervous when forced to speak of death.
Jay Carney: I have nothing new for you on that. First of all, I would like to say that we are obviously aware of the fact that we lost US servicemen today and uh and uh and we express condolences to their uh families once notifications have been made and-and uh and uh it's a stark reminder that those who serve uh in Iraq do so uh-uh in a way that continues to place them at risk despite the enormous progress that has been made there uh and uh on your question, I have nothing new to announce. The process, as you know, is simply that we are abiding by the Status Of Forces Agreement that will have us withdrawing the remainder of our troops by the end of this year. I and others have said that we'll entertain requests by the Iraqi government if uh entertain in terms of discuss possible requests for uh-uh some sort of new Status Of Forces Agreement that would be obviously uh-uh quite different from the one we have now. But as of now we fully intend to fulfill our obligation under that SOFA and withdraw all our remaining forces.
The whole day was a big lark until, 21 minutes into the briefing, someone had to bring up Iraq. Uh-uh Carney at having to even address the subject. Many people have no choice but to address it because it's their child or their son or their daughter or their wife or their husband deployed to Iraq. I'd guess the loved ones taking part in the Saturday send-off in St. George, Utah for the 474 members of the state's National Guard who are depolying to Iraq, AP covers it here, don't have the luxury Jay Carney does of acting like Spunky -- the newest Mouskateer. How very fortunate he is to assume the position after Helen Thomas was savaged and expelled, thereby allowing him to ignore the realities of war nearly every work day.
Meredith Vieira: Details are still coming in about what happened in Iraq. We're going to go right to NBC's Jim Miklaszewski at the Pentagon. Mik, what can you tell us?
Jim Miklaszewski: Good morning, Meredith. This is the single worst if not one of the single worst attacks on US military forces in Iraq since the official end of formal 'combat operations' there in Iraq last August. According to US military and Iraqi officials 5 US service members were killed in a rocket attack on US military base -- one of many in or around Baghdad -- this morning. Now the timing of this attack cannot be dismissed because this comes at a time as the US military is in fact preparing to withdraw all combat forces, all US military forces, from Iraq by the end of the year Meredith.
Meredith Vieira: So does that now call that into question? Whether or not those troops will be removed by the end of the year?
Jim Miklaszewski: Well that's why the timing of this is so important. The Iraqi government itself is struggling with how to ask the US military to stay. There are currently 50,000 US troops there. Again, they're supposed to be out by the end of the year. But it's clear that the Iraqis cannot provide all the kind of defenses that they need and they're preparing to ask the US. So, again, this attack appears aimed at convincing the American people that all American troops should leave Iraq by the end of this year.
Rebecca Santanna (AP) reports, "Five American troops serving as advisers to Iraqi security police in eastern Baghdad were killed Monday when rockets slammed into the compound where they lived. The deaths were the largest single-day loss of life for American forces in two years." Al Jazeera pins the date down, "Monday's attack killed the highest number of US service personnel in a single day since May 11, 2009, when a US soldier opened fire on five of his colleagues on a base just outside Baghdad. That soldier was later arrested and charged with the killings." Mohammed Tawfeeq (CNN) reports on today's 5 deaths and notes that "two Iraqi security officials told CNN Monday that the servicemembers were killed during an early morning mortar attack at a U.S. military base in southeastern Baghdad. Five servicemembers also were wounded in the attack, said the officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to release the information." Muhanad Mohammed (Reuters) quotes an unnamed "senior Iraqi security official" stating, "This morning, the American base at Loyalty Camp came under rocket attack. There was a lot of smoke inside and the Americans died in that attack in the Baladiyat area."
Prashant Rao (AFP) floats, "The latest violence raises key questions over the capabilities of Iraqi security forces ahead of a year-end deadline for Washington to pull out, with US officials pressing their counterparts in Baghdad to decide soon whether or not they want an extended American military presence." Ned Parker (Los Angeles Times) explains, "Both Shiite and Sunni extremist groups are eager to target the Americans and claim they defeated the U.S. troops ahead of their departure. Eastern Baghdad is rife with Shiite militia groups -- radical cleric Muqtada Sadr's elite fighting unit, the Promisde Day Brigade, as well as a splinter group called Asab al Haq or the League of Righteous." Last week, Patricia Haslach, US Ambassador Iraq Transition Coordinator, told the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on the Middle East and South Asia (link has text and video) that, "The Sadrist trend is taking steps to revive the Jaysh al-Mahdi, which poses a serious threat to Iraq's democratic institutions and future." Jack Healy and Michael S. Schmidt (New York Times) observe, "As Iraqi politicans tiptoe into that highly charged discussion [asking that US troops stay in Iraq beyond 2011], American military officials say that militants are stepping up attacks against bases and convoys, especially in Iraq's south, hitting them with mortars, rockets and improvised roadside bombs. In Baghdad, the number of mortar and rocket attacks against American and Iraqi targets jumped [. . .] to 37 in May from 17 in April."

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