Wednesday, June 25, 2014

More bad news for Barry








On this week's Cindy Sheehan Soapbox, Cindy speaks with Iraqi-American peace activist Dr. Dahlia Wasfi.

Cindy Sheehan:  Well, obviously, we were talking before the interview, it's just disheartening because Obama has gotten away with so much since he's been president.  And I'm not saying, you know, that an active movement against what he's doing would have stopped anything --

Dr. Dahlia Wasfi:  Right.

Cindy Sheehan:  -- but at least we would have -- we would be out there showing our opposition.  Now I want to talk about an article you just posted on CounterPunch called "Keep Calm and Trust Iraqis with Iraq."  Now I have been getting some communications with people and they're telling me, "But, Cindy, this is different because I protested to oppose the 2003 invasion and occupation but I don't want to see Iraq fall to Islamic fundamentalists."  First of all, is that what is happening? And secondly, like you wrote in your article, keep calm and trust Iraqis with Iraq.  What business is it of ours?  And can you just talk a little bit about that?

Dr. Dahlia Wasfi:  Sure.  It's been actually -- It's eye opening and quite disappointing though I think understandable just the level of discomfort and suspicion around Muslims in general. 

Cindy Sheehan:  Mmm-hmm.

Dr. Dahlia Wasfi:  That people can be so easily -- Just the concept of Islamic fundamentalism -- the seeds were planted and the roots run deep in this country of this fear of The Other.  And it's still working to trigger fear here.  It's upsetting.  But actually, if they didn't want Islamic fundamentalism in Iraq, then we shouldn't have handed the keys over to Nouri al-Maliki.

Cindy Sheehan:  Right.

Dr. Dahlia Wasfi:  We essentially brought a very conservative -- I don't know whether to say "right wing."  In this country, I would say right wing.  But a very conservative fundamentalist party that Nouri al-Maliki belongs to called the Dawa Party.  And they found, the Dawa Party started in Iraq but found its base in Iran when they -- some of them -- were exiled, some of them fled on their own.  But the reason for that was Saddam Hussein was secular and parties like the Dawa Party -- they're not the only ones -- but the multiple parties that were seeking theocratic rule which is, of course, what has been in Iran since 1979.  And they got support for that in Iran so they grew very strong -- at least grew strong in Iran since their days of exile -- I think mostly in the 1980s.  And over that time parties like this built up religious militias.  Now what happens when the US invaded was the borders were left wide open and, of course, for many years the Shia majority in Iran wanted access to the holiest  cities like Karbala in Iraq and Saddam Hussein purposely shut down that route -- that travel route -- again, to limit the amount of theocracy that was in the country and also everything was about maintaining and protecting the regime.  So after 2003, a lot of the parties, a lot of the followers, a lot of the militias, they all crossed the border into Iraq and the southern part of Iraq was greatly influenced and controlled, dominated, by these militias.  When we brought Nouri al-Maliki to power and  just before him Ibraham al-Jafaari and the Constitution that we helped "independent Iraq" write, this opened the door for Sharia Law -- very conservative rule and it's very sectarian.  What happened as we helped the training and arming of the new Iraqi army and police was that these militias -- members of these militias -- became incorporated into the army and police and they have been acting as death squads in Iraq.  So the big fear should have been back in 2003 -- very religious influence.  What we're seeing now is the backlash of that.  There are extremist groups on the other side.  Because we brought one extremist group to power, just from cause and effect, you're going to find other extremist groups merging like ISIS.  They are one of multiple groups who have set their political differences aside for now and are working together for the common goal of removing the Shia sectarian regime in Baghdad. It's messy.  It's not fully neat and tidy but this is what I'm hearing from the people on the ground.

That's just the opening of the interview.  Time permitting, we'll note more of it this week. Dexter Filkins (New Yorker) observes:

As dramatic as the insurgents’ approach has been, it is not terribly surprising. They have fed on the deep discontent that prevails across the Sunni heartland, provoked and sustained by Maliki. Since the last American forces departed, he has embarked on a stridently sectarian project aimed at marginalizing the Sunni minority. He has presided over the arrest of his Sunni political opponents, jailed thousands of Sunni men, and excluded the Sunni population from any meaningful role in government. The Sunni Finance Minister, Rafe al-Essawi, fled the capital; the Sunni Vice-President, Tariq al-Hashemi, fled the country and faces a death sentence if he returns. When the Sunnis rose up in anger, as they did in Falluja and elsewhere, Maliki ordered the Army to shell civilian areas and detain more Sunni men. Ever since the fall of Saddam Hussein, Iraq’s Sunnis have been faced with the choice of pledging their allegiance to the Shiite-led government in Baghdad or to the armed groups within their own community.

Let's start with non-surprising news.  Jacob Siegel (Daily Beast) reports:

As Iraq devolves into a multi-party civil war, President Obama has moved one step closer to sending military forces back into the country. Yet the White House has not clearly explained what the proposed contingent of 300 special operations troops would actually do, other than some vague talk about advising their Iraqi counterparts. Veterans of the special operations community spoke with The Daily Beast about what the operation would likely entail and expressed their skepticism about how much it could accomplish.
Asked if he believed sending the small military force into Iraq was a good thing, a special operations veteran and former CIA officer said, “It’s not a good thing or a bad thing, it’s a no thing. These guys are being given an impossible mission. What are they going to do? Host a dinner party? It’s 300 guys to stop ISIS from taking over Baghdad.”
On Monday, as reports spread that ISIS had captured border crossing points along the length of Iraq’s western frontier, the Obama administration cleared the most significant obstacle to sending the U.S. military to Iraq. The White House announced a diplomatic agreement providing immunity for U.S. forces from prosecution under Iraqi law. It now seems like only a matter of time before the planned 300 special operations troops arrive in Iraq. But what they will do there is an open question.

Last Thursday, we noted the plan was murky at best

It's an important point.  I don't support Barack sending troops in, [Senator Saxby] Chambliss does. We can agree that the mission needs to be clearly defined.
What is success?
How it will it be measured?
What would warrant even more troops being sent in?  What would result in US troops leaving?
None of this is defined.
A speech consisting of 946 words and nothing is clearly defined.
Whether you support or oppose the move, whether you support or oppose Barack, it needs to be defined.  If it's not defined, and Barack is your favorite president of all time, there's a good chance this mission will do huge damage to his reputation and his legacy.  It is in everyone's interest -- including the Iraqi people -- for Barack to clearly define this mission, its goals and the measurements for success or failure.
Barack insisted in his speech that there would be no "mission creep" -- well he was insisting that in 2007 to the New York Times -- check the transcript.

National Iraqi News Agency reports a Syrian fighter jet bombed the city of Qaim in Anbar Province today resulting in 20 deaths and ninety-three people being injured.  And this is why Barack can't guarantee "mission creep."  Incidents like the bombing of Qaim -- which may or may not have happened -- can pull the US further into a country.

'Advisors' were in Vietnam and then came the Gulf of Tonkin incident involving the USS Maddox. William P. O'Connor (CounterPunch) noted in 2008:

According to President Johnson, the U.S.S. Maddox was fired upon by North Vietnamese forces. This so-called attack in international waters led to the direct and massive build up of American forces in the region. Many years after the Gulf of Tonkin resolution was passed, however, President Johnson said, “Hell, for all I know, we could have been shooting at a bunch of seals out there” (McNamara 141). The young soldiers in the field were not privy to such remarks.

In 2010, O'Connor noted:

After Kennedy’s assassination, his successor Lyndon Johnson never told the more than 150,000 U.S. casualties that his administration made up the “attack” on the U.S.S. Maddox in the Gulf of Tonkin, which expanded the war. Johnson later joked, “For all I know they could have been shooting at a bunch of seals out there.” Determined not to be the first American administration to lose a war, the Executive Branch beat its breasts, twisted arms and waved the flag until Congress approved the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution. Johnson laughed and later called the resolution “grandma’s nightgown.” because he said, “It covers everything.” 
Some have mistaken Rachel Maddow's column this week -- originally for the Washington Post -- as 'antiwar.'  How stupid are you?
Rachel wants legislative cover for Barack.
There are many in Congress who want Congress to pass a bill granting authorization.  They're not opposed to providing troops on the ground.  They want to define (help spread war) what responses can further war.  An attack from Syria, like the one NINA is describing, would likely be such a response.  This is how you get mission creep.
(Aided by creeps like Rachel.)
Barack can't convey to the American people what he wants out of his Iraq mission.
And it's not a plan worth having.  The US shouldn't be in Iraq. 

 Gary Langer (ABC News) reports on a new ABC News - Washington Post poll.  "Two-thirds oppose sending ground troops to fight the Sunni insurgents in Iraq" and 52% of those surveyed disapproved of Barack's methods of addressing the issue of Iraq (the poll has a 3.5% margin of error).  Sarah Dutton, Jennifer De Pinto, Anthony Salvanto and Fred Backus (CBS News) report on another poll, a CBS News - New York Times poll, which finds only 18% of those surveyed feel the Iraq War was 'woth it' (75% say it was not worth it) and:

When Americans are asked about a range of military options in Iraq, there is support for some actions, but not others. A slim majority of Americans (51 percent) favor sending military advisers into Iraq to train and advise the Iraqi military and collect intelligence, which President Obama has proposed. Forty-two percent oppose it. There is bipartisan support for this plan.

Barack's mission is both controversial and ambiguous.  He's failed to define the mission, define success or even the need for it.

He's floundering.

She's floundering
Good God, what she does in one day you wouldn't believe
She's into Christian Science
And voodoo
And laugh therapy
And bathtub therapy
One day she's a Jesus freak
Then she goes Orange with Rajneesh
Oh, God, she uses the mandela
Gone to Silva Mind Control
She's into homeography
And Sufism
-- "Floundering," written by Carly Simon, first appears on Carly's Hello Big Man

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