Thursday, November 07, 2013

Sebelius still isn't doing her job









The RAND Corporation has been around in the United States for a very long time.  It's hailed as a think tank which is like calling The Brookings Institute a social club.  While Brookings flirts with military worship, RAND has that in its DNA  -- creation of RAND was by the US Air Force with the sole purpose of exploring better weapons.  In 1948, RAND supposedly separates from the government but its work really doesn't change and certainly the usual suppliers feed it (Ford Foundation, etc).  They (after 'independence') popularize the notion of 'winnable' nuclear war.   Where there is propaganda posing as science and thought, you will often find RAND.  The late Chalmers Johnson offered a history of RAND at in 2008 which included:

For example, RAND's research conclusions on the Third World, limited war, and counterinsurgency during the Vietnam War were notably wrong-headed. It argued that the United States should support "military modernization" in underdeveloped countries, that military takeovers and military rule were good things, that we could work with military officers in other countries, where democracy was best honored in the breach. The result was that virtually every government in East Asia during the 1960s and 1970s was a U.S.-backed military dictatorship, including South Vietnam, South Korea, Thailand, the Philippines, Indonesia, and Taiwan.
It is also important to note that RAND's analytical errors were not just those of commission -- excessive mathematical reductionism -- but also of omission. As Abella notes, "In spite of the collective brilliance of RAND there would be one area of science that would forever elude it, one whose absence would time and again expose the organization to peril: the knowledge of the human psyche."
Following the axioms of mathematical economics, RAND researchers tended to lump all human motives under what the Canadian political scientist C. B. Macpherson called "possessive individualism" and not to analyze them further. Therefore, they often misunderstood mass political movements, failing to appreciate the strength of organizations like the Vietcong and its resistance to the RAND-conceived Vietnam War strategy of "escalated" bombing of military and civilian targets.

Now RAND's  published an argument (posing as science) entitled Ending the US War In Iraq.  The full title is Ending the US War in Iraq: The Final Transition, Operational Maneuver, and Disestablishment of United States Forces-Iraq and the authors are Rick Brennan Jr, Charles P. Ries, Larry Hanauer, Ben Connable, Terrence K. Kelly, Michael J. McNerney, Stephanie Young, Jason Campbell and K. Scott McMahon.  It runs nearly 600 pages (the report itself is 344 pages of text).  Former US Ambassador to Iraq James Jeffrey writes the foreword.

Jeffrey gets to tell the first lies.  No, not about WMD.  Jeffrey skips the whole start of the war and pretends that its start was as natural as summer turning into fall.  No, his lie is that this 'historical record' is "an independent and objective analysis."  Since when does the US government hand over documentation to groups to let them form independent and objective analysis?

Jeffreys writes:

In collaboration with the U.S. Embassy in Iraq, the United States Forces - Iraq (USF - I) provided RAND access to plans, operations, orders, internal staff deliberations, strategic and operational assessments, and a host of other contemporaneous information on how U.S. forces completed, transferred, transformed, or terminated all activities being conducted in Iraq.  In addition, a RAND research team spent two weeks in Iraq in 2011, interviewing the leaders and staffs of both Embassy Baghdad and USF - I. 

No, that's not the description of independence.  That's the description of the US government hiring someone to craft an argument they want.

After the first lie of 'independent' analysis, the lies just come tumbling out of Jeffrey.  Such as here:

With U.S. assistance, Iraq has been given an opportunity for a sovereign and stable future, possessing the tools necessary to maintain internal security and the foundation necessary for external defense. The United States and Iraq should continue to work together to develop a government that is answerable to its people and their elected representatives, with a growing economy that is capable of continued growth and development.
This partnership is the same the United States seeks to share with all nations governed by principles of freedom, that respect the rights of their citizens, and that ensure the benefits of this freedom for all. This is the future the United States desires with Iraq. It is a future of mutual respect and mutual benefit. This opportunity has come at great cost and sacrifice, both by the people of Iraq and all who have served there. It should not be squandered. 

Those are pretty lies, but they're still lies.

You like roses and kisses and pretty men to tell you
All those pretty lies, pretty lies
When you gonna realize they're only pretty lies
Only pretty lies, just pretty lies
-- "The Last Time I Saw Richard," written by Joni Mitchell, first appears on her Blue

James Jeffrey became US Ambassador to Iraq solely because Barack Obama's hand picked golden boy wasn't golden.  Turned out that was a coating of urine on Chris Hill.  Every petty move, every 'analysis' was deeply, deeply wrong and Hill was and remains deeply stupid.

Little Chris went to Iraq and didn't have the brains or sense even to not insult Iraqis in front of Iraqi staff.  He ran them into the ground and did so in front of Iraqis.  He was known for his bi-polar spiral, his office naps and his petty attacks on Gen  Ray Odierno who Chris Hill was deeply jealous of -- a jealousy that led him to whine to the White House that the press liked Odierno better and the White House responded to Chris' tantrum by telling Odierno to stop speaking to the press.

For those who've forgotten, Odierno was the top US commander in Iraq.  That is who Chris Hill was jealous of and attempting to sideline.

Odierno also had common sense -- another skill set absent in Chris Hill.

As March 2010 parliamentary elections approached, the US press did what it always does, acted as lackeys to the White House.  And so you got all these ridiculous stories about how Nouri would 'win' and get a second term, win by a huge majority.  The US press (and much of the Western press) offered fluff, the Arab press outlets were reporting on Nouri's bribery efforts.   (At its most basic, the man who never took the time to bring the Iraqi people drinkable water was especially fond of bringing them large amounts of ice in trailers in the lead up to the election.)

Nouri had been appointed as Prime Minister in the spring of 2006 not because he had any support from the Iraqi people -- most didn't even know his name at that point -- but because he was the choice of the Bush administration.  (The White House had nixed Ibrahim al-Jafaari -- Parliament's choice -- which was part of the reason the elections took place in December 2005 but no one was named prime minister-designate until April 2006.)  He was a failure.

He did nothing to improve electricity, water or any public services.  He took part in cutting and gutting the ration-card system and what rations your card could allow you to receive free for yourself and your family.  This wasn't popular.  Of course it wasn't.  Why would people used to getting basic food staples for free be happy when then staples were greatly reduced.?  Of course they wouldn't.  And this was taking place during not only war but also during increased poverty.  It was not a smart move.

It did make many (the World Bank, for example) outside of Iraq happy.  To the Iraqi people, it was just more evidence of how the country lacked a leader and instead had a US-installed puppet who danced for others.  The fate of the Iraqi children today damns Nouri as a failure.  Ali Mamouri (Al-Monitor) explores the status of the children and notes:

In addition to this, there are an increasing number of homeless children in Iraq. According to statistics, one out of every eight Iraqi children is displaced. They are usually exploited and sent to beg in the streets or to work under harsh conditions and sometimes even used as prostitutes. They are often exposed to physical or sexual abuse, and cases have been reported where they have been exploited to carry out terrorist acts. When children involved in terrorist acts are arrested, Iraqi law does not take into consideration their special situation. They are punished  with sentences similar to those passed on adults, which often entail many years of imprisonment.
On another note, high rates of child labor in Iraq have been registered and some studies have shown that there are nearly 100,000 children in the Iraqi workforce. Moreover, 83% of Iraqi children have worked for their families on a permanent basis, without receiving any wage. Children usually work under dire and harmful conditions such as in garbage collection, brick and steel factories and farming. However, Article 29.b.3 of the Iraqi Constitution specifies that “economic exploitation of children shall be completely prohibited. The state shall take the necessary measures to protect them.” Yet, state institutions are not efficiently combating this phenomenon for many reasons, including the preoccupation by the government with issues of maintaining security and fighting terrorism. The emergence of widespread child labor in Iraq is furthermore an issue of utmost difficulty to deal with. In many cases, children are the breadwinners for their younger siblings and have no one else to rely on.

Nouri was then -- and is now -- known for his dramatic statements (threats?) that never pan out.  In his first term, when Iraqis were still willing to give him a chance, they realized how little his words meant.  His first big stand took place when he was out of Iraq.  The 2006 summer violence was on the rise.  The US military began putting up more Bremer Walls (barricade walls) throughout Iraq.  Nouri insisted that the walls would immediately be removed.  He got back to Baghdad . . . and the walls remained.

In 2008, he oversaw an attack that the Bush White House wanted -- in Basra and in Sadr City in Baghdad -- an attack on Shi'ites.  In Basra, record numbers of Iraqis self-checked out of the Iraqi military.  Prior to that, he'd already overseen a 'sectarian war' (the ethnic cleansing of 2006 and 2007). While the US press gas bagged over that two year period, they focused on b.s. like the 'surge.'  This was an injection of US forces into Iraq, a 'surge' in the number of them.

The US press wanted to pretend that they were focused on that.  The whores didn't even get that right.  The 'surge' was part of the benchmarks -- a set of goals that Nouri's government would meet in order to continue to receive US tax dollars, US military and so much more.  The 'surge' was supposed to take the Iraqi emphasis off dealing with violence and give them the ability to focus on the needed political.

The 'surge' was a failure.  Yes, the US military did their job.  But the benchmarks were never met -- not in 2007, not in 2008.  The surge was a failure.

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