Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Tweeting Fool





David Zahniser (Los Angeles Times) reports the vote was twelve for and one against today when, "The Los Angeles City Council called Tuesday for the federal government to end its wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, saying money for those foreign wars should be invested in cities and other domestic needs." This follows the June 20th by the Annual Conference of US Mayors, held in Baltimore, passing the resolution demanding the wars be brought to an end and the vast amounts of money spent on these wars be spent instead on domestic needs in the United States.
The LA City Council's move comes as Lara Jakes (AP) reports 10,000 is the number of US soldiers the White House is floating to Iraq to keep with an understanding that Iraq will respond by September to the offer. Jakes reports, "Already, though, the White House has worked out options to keep between 8,500 and 10,000 active-duty troops to continue training Iraqi security forces during 2012, according to senior Obama administration and U.S. military officials in interviews with The Associated Press." This happening after Robert Gates has left his post as US Secretary of Defense may force even some members of the Cult of St. Barack to face the fact that Barack is the one pushing to extend the US military presence in Iraq, not Gates who, repeating, is gone. VoteVets' Ashwin Madia has not been among the foolish; however, today at Huffington Post, he writes, "Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid -- the president's top ally in the Senate -- came out forcefully today against a continued American presence in Iraq, which most observers believe President Obama is for. Senator Reid said, according to the Associated Press, "As Iraq becomes increasingly capable, it is time for our own troops to return home by the end of the year and for these precious resources to be directed elsewhere. There is no question that the United States must continue to provide support for the Iraqis as they progress, but now is the time for our military mission to come to a close."
Madia links to an AP article (one that quotes Madia) and Reid's statment is actually about the 15 US soldiers who died last month. The idea that Harry Reid is going to lead the fight is hard to believe. He did lead the fight . . . against the House efforts to end the Iraq War when Bush occupied the White House. Madia sees Reid's statements as meaningful. Others could disagree. Reid's not saying anything.
Reid's comments -- made in response to June's 15 deaths of US soldiers in the Iraq War -- are not inconsistent with Barack's (and Bush's) claims that "we will stand down as they stand up." Harry Reid didn't call for an end to the Iraq War or even that the SOFA be followed.
He says "our military mission is over." How does that differ with Barack's (false) assertion August 31st that 'combat missions' were over? It doesn't. And on 'stand up' does no one follow the violence in Iraq? Here's Washington Post's Ed O'Keefe discussing it with Washington Week's Gwen Ifill on tonight's NewsHour (PBS -- link has text, video and audio):
GWEN IFILL: Well, if the U.S. says the Iraqis should step up and do something about it, what does this tell us about the state of Iraqi security right now?
ED O'KEEFE: Well, part of the reason -- or part of the frustration among American officials is that, while their pleased with how the Iraqi security forces have responded -- they have taken the lead in several counterterrorism measures -- they have targeted insurgent groups over the past several weeks and months -- they feel that perhaps they could be doing a little more. Part of it, the problem, is that the Iraqi prime minister, Nouri al-Maliki, still hasn't named a new defense minister and a new interior minister, and that, if there were leadership at the top of those two important ministries, perhaps there would be clearer direction given to the Iraqi security forces to go out and target these groups a little more.
That said, for the most part, if you talk to military officials here, they say a lot of progress has been made, that, whether you're an infantry soldier in the Iraqi army or part of the special forces, you are better trained today than you were even just a year ago.
Reid has issued a brief statement acknowledging 15 deaths where he states the US will 'stand down as Iraqis stand up' and that the US 'military mission is over.' That's perfectly in keeping with Barack's remarks. Wish it wasn't. Wish Harry Reid was finally going to find a spine and lead a mission worthy of the post of Senate Majority Leader. And it could happen but it doesn't seem likely. Reid was the stalling block for Democratic efforts in the House to put a minimum of restrictions on the Iraq War when Bush was in office. This isn't my hypothesis, this is fact. Nancy Pelosi has spoken publicly -- including to the
San Francisco Chronicle's edtiorial board -- about Reid on the Iraq War. She got very angry when a reporter questioned her (rightly) about the refusal to end the Iraq War and began listing off what the House had attempted and told the reporter that people needed to ask Reid why the Senate refused to act.
Jay Carney: I will have to bump that to the Defense Department. I don't have a specific answer for you on that. We are, as of now, on track to withdraw all of the U.S. forces in Iraq by the end of this year, as dictated by the agreement we have with the Iraqi government and as promised by the President of the United States. So we have said for a long time now if the Iraqi government asks us to maintain some level of troops beyond that end-of-the-year deadline, we would consider it. That doesn't necessarily mean we would do it. We would just consider it. And I really don't have any more information on that possible outcome, because, again, we haven't even gotten a request.
There's Carney's lies and there's reality. Saturday Ed O'Keefe (Washington Post) reported US Ambassador to Iraq James Jeffery spoke with reporters today about the US mission in Iraq beyond 2011 and stated that "keeping thousands of troops in Iraq" after 2011 is a possibility. Also over the weekend, Tim Arango (New York Times) reported on the US Special Forces in Iraq and how they're training the Iraqi Special Operations forces to bash in the doors of suspect's homes in the middle of the night ("the sound of glass shattering and screams pierced the nighttime stillness" really doesn't sound like freedom or democracy) and quoted Iraqi Maj Gen Fadhel al-Barwari stating, "The Americans need to stay because we don't have control over our borders." On the Fourth, a US Senator weighed in. US Senator John McCain tells Anna Fifield (Finanical Times of London -- link has text and video) that the US neeeds to keep troops on the ground in Iraq, "I'm talking 10,000-13,000 specifically for intelligence capabilities, air capabilities and also as a peacekeeping force up in the disputed areas around Kirkuk and that area." McCain was visiting Afghanistan with (among others) Senators Joe Lieberman and Lindsey Graham. Also weighing in that day was Sabah Jawad of the London-based Iraqi Democrats Against Occupation who told Iran's Press TV (link has text and video):

Yes it's quite obvious they don't want to withdraw, they don't even want to withdraw now more than before because of the uprisings that have taken place in the Arab world; they want to keep their military presence in Iraq. As you said they have the biggest embassy here in Iraq and also that this embassy is supposed to staff over 16,000 employees. I don't know of any other country where the Americans have a 16,000 staff in their embassies. This is an indication that these people will be in full control of the security situation in Iraq -- security operations. They will control Iraq's air space and the Iraqi economy. They will advise every important minister in Iraq and they will continue to interfere in the internal situation in Iraq for the foreseeable future. So these all are indications for the future that the US does not want to withdraw from Iraq. They have invested a lot of money in the occupation of Iraq and they continue the occupation of Iraq and they want to be there to steal even more oil and to tie up Iraq in its entirety to the so-called free market and to multinational oil companies.

Al Mada reports that "well-informed sources" (unidentified by the paper) are stating that the discussions taking place between the government and the US Embassy on US troops staying beyond 2011 continue and that what is being discussed currently is a memorandum which would allow for US forces to remain in Iraq for another five years and it is thought that going that route (memorandum of understanding) would allow Nouri to bypass the Parliament. (Al Mada also does a write up of Tim Arango's NYT report on US Special Forces.) Al Rafidayn reports Ammar al-Hakim is calling for a series of "extended meetings" to discuss US troops remaining on the ground in Iraq beyond 2011. He wants the heads of all the political blocs to attend a general meeting to address the issue. On The NewsHour Ed O'Keefe offered a summary of the various talks going on:
As one U.S. official joked to me a little while ago, he said, look, six months from now, one of these reports will have gotten it right. But, tonight, there is no discussion going on between U.S. officials and the Iraqis over how many troops might stay on beyond December. We had a conversation with the U.S. ambassador here over the weekend. And he said, look, if the Iraqis come to us with some kind of proposal for troops to stay, we will consider it. For us, it's not about the numbers. It's about what exactly U.S. troops would do. Most of them in the last year have focused on what is called advise-and-assist responsibilities. They essentially hang back when Iraqi forces go out to conduct counterterrorism measures or target other groups, and only jump into it if, for some reason, it's not going well. But you talk to military officials they say things are going pretty well. The problem is, Iraq still can't defend its skies, still can't defend its big port down in Basra, and military officials say that the Iraqi still want some more training, whether it's basic infantry training or more specialized training. So it's there that U.S. officials believe the Iraqis will come to them with some kind of a request. We're expecting the Iraqi president, Jalal Talabani, to meet with the prime minister, Maliki, and other political leaders as early as this week to once again talk about this. There have been several meetings, and no big conclusions just yet. But the thought is that perhaps we're getting much closer to some kind of a request that would be given to U.S. officials. And at that point, it lands back in the lap of President Obama and the Pentagon. They will have to discuss this, figure out what exactly they could do, how many more troops could stay here beyond December.
CNN reports that the US opened a consulate in Basra today (and notes the last one shuttered its doors in 1967). Ed O'Keefe noted Monday that the US plan was 15 consulates around Iraq staffed by "roughtly 17,000 US diplomats, contractors and security personnel."

RECOMMENDED: "Iraq snapshot"
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"McCain and others talk continued Iraq War"
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