WAR HAWKS BARRY O AND HILLARY CLINTON ARE THE TWO MOST ADMIRED PEOPLE IN THE UNITED STATES.
NO WORD ON WHETHER CHARLES MANSON CAME IN THIRD.
FROM THE TCI WIRE:
Before we get to Iraq, Kia Makarechi (Vanity Fair) explains:
President Barack Obama declared the 13-year war in Afghanistan officially over on Sunday, praising the troops and claiming that Americans are safer for their efforts. In Kabul, General John Campbell folded the flag of the International Security Assistance Force, and unfurled the flag of a new mission, Resolute Support.
But while the administration would like to characterize this as a victory, the end of a conflict, it’s more of a re-branding. More than 10,000 United States troops will remain in Afghanistan, and just over one month ago, the president secretly expanded their 2015 combat mission to include fighting with the Taliban and/or al-Qaeda, the Haqqani network, or other insurgent groups. The expansion of duties, which was first reported in The New York Times, also allows for the use of American manned aircraft and drones. Some 4,000 NATO troops will also remain in Afghanistan next year.
If only there'd been that kind of honesty with regard to the Iraq drawdown -- which didn't end the war and, look around, hasn't ended US military involvement in Iraq.
At today's US State Dept press briefing, moderated by spokesperson Jeff Rathke, the following exchange took place.
QUESTION: Okay. So first on Iraq, yesterday, General Allen told Der Spiegel that an Iraqi ground offensive will occur when the time is right. What is your current assessment of Iraqi forces, and do you have an update – a timetable for any kind of ground offensive? And a separate one on Russia/Syria.
MR. RATHKE: Well, of course we are engaged with Iraqi forces to help improve their capacity. We’ve already seen Iraq take the initiative in places like Sinjar, where now the siege has been broken, and in a variety of other places where they have taken the fight to ISIL. I’m not going to get ahead of their decisions about further military activity, of course. That’s – that is something that one wouldn’t want to telegraph, and it’s also a question for the Iraqis to decide first and foremost.
Well that's good to know.
Better to know would be reality.
It wasn't the Iraqi military that "we've already seen . . . take the initiative in places like Sinjar." Sinjar was the Peshmerga. They are not part of the Iraqi army. They are the Kurdish elite force trained and based in the Kurdistan Region (northern Iraq) and answerable to the Kurdish government.
The US government knows it -- Rathke damn well should -- because there have been stand offs regarding disputed areas in Iraq -- stands offs between the Peshmerga and the Iraqi army.
Do you think just because the US government pretends otherwise -- and because some stupid people in the US nod along -- either side in Iraq has forgotten it?
The Peshmerga has always had their act together.
When Shi'ite militias became a recognizable problem in Baghdad, the Kurds offered to send the Peshmerga in. Baghdad didn't want that, the Shi'ite government in charge of Iraq did not want that.
But from the beginning of the Iraq War, the only functioning military in Iraq has been the Peshmerga.
I don't understand how pretending that reality hasn't taken place helps anyone.
Now the Iraqi military has had some limited successes -- both with the help of the Peshmerga and all by themselves. But what happens after?
Isabel Coles (Reuters) reports:
Like dozens of other communities in Iraq, this small Sunni settlement in northern Salahuddin province’s Tuz Khurmatu district has been reduced to rubble. In October, Shia militiamen and Kurdish peshmerga captured the village from the Sunni militant group ISIS. The victors then laid it to waste, looting anything of value and setting fire to much of the rest. Residents have still not been allowed to return.
“Our people are burning them,” said one of the Shia militiamen when asked about the smoke drifting up from still smouldering houses. Asked why, he shrugged as if the answer was self-evident.
Well, it's something.
It's nothing you can build on.
It's something only fool would bill as a "success."
But it's something -- something very disturbing and troubling..
And that destruction taking place on a smaller scale it mirrored by the nonstop bombings of Iraq, from the air, that the US is leading.
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