back to gordon brown. life really seemed to have turned a corner for him awhile back, while he wasn't looking, and it all came loose. he keeps trying to wind the yarn back up but it's not just one strand that's come loose, it's the anchor stitch. (if that made sense, thank my grandmother who tried to teach me to knit when i was 14. if it didn't, blame me for not knowing what the hell i think i'm talking about.) nigel morris (independent of london) explains:
Gordon Brown suffered a wounding double blow to his authority yesterday as he abandoned moves to sell a stake in Royal Mail and was defeated by Labour rebels over plans to clean up the Commons after the expenses scandal.
The fresh setbacks came after he endured bruising clashes with David Cameron over spending plans and faced ridicule from Tory MPs after he spoke of a "zero per cent rise" in budgets.
The retreat over part-privatisation of Royal Mail was blamed by Lord Mandelson, the Business Secretary, on the struggle to attract buyers in the recession. But the opposition parties claimed the climbdown had been forced by the growing opposition to the sale among Labour MPs and trade unions.
now i thought, and i was obviously wrong on this, that tony blair would end his prime minister run as the new harold wilson.
harold wilson was p.m. of the u.k. largely during the vietnam era (p.m. from 1964 to 1970 and then 1974 to 1976). and he was going to do this and do that and, to his credit, he did a little. not much. but he had all this power given to him by having control of both houses and the end result was that he weakened not only his party in terms of elections (after wilson, it wasn't all that hard for tories to take over) but he weakened his party's platform and beliefs. he watered down and watered down what it meant to be labour so that the 'new labour' (neo liberals) could show up in the 80s and claim they were the true successors of the party, the rightful heirs.
this is ross lydall from the scotsman:
THE UK government yesterday performed its second major U-turn in two days, when controversial proposals to part-privatise Royal Mail were abandoned.
Critics said the move, hard on the heels of the scrapping of compulsory ID cards, was a humiliating climbdown and showed Gordon Brown's administration was in a "state of paralysed indecision".It adds to a series of blows to Mr Brown, from the 10p income tax fiasco to the reversal of his decision to hold the Iraq inquiry in secret, and comes a month after he was undermined by a series of Cabinet resignations and forced to fight for his political life.
he is the wounded and the sharks are circling, they smell the blood in the water. it is going to be something to watch as this drags on and on. if i were gordon brown, i would immediately step down and allow the party to appoint some 1 else so that they'd have a better shot at stronger returns in the upcoming elections.
michael white (guardian) rightly observes 'trust is easy to lose, impossible to regain:'
Thatcher's admirers claim she only lied twice – large lies, since they involved the Westland scandal and the sinking of the Argentinian cruiser Belgrano – which is generous. But, unlike Harold Wilson, she had a reputation for plain speaking so got away with things. Early in his career, Wilson had been dogged by a mistake he owned up to, and resorted to verbal trickery to avoid repeating the experience. He remained terrified of being caught in a lie, old hands still recall.
Less deft than Wilson, Gordon Brown retreats into statistical juggling and double-counting, even as he protests his Presbyterian integrity. "I have always told the truth, I have always told people as it is," he told the BBC as he struggled to defuse Tory accusations that he has systematically misled voters about his public spending plans.
There is nothing new in charge and counter-charge. As Disraeli once observed there are "lies, damned lies and statistics". As shadow chancellor in the mid-90s, Brown was brilliant at wrapping selective stats around John Major's neck, a habit he carried into the Treasury, initially with some success.
and when even the guardian has stopped carrying gordon's water, he's in trouble.
let's close with c.i.'s 'Iraq snapshot:'
Wednesday, July 1, 2009. Chaos and violence continue, Kenneth Pollack Laments, Patrick Murphy tackles Don't Ask, Don't Tell, and more.
Today US House Rep Patrick Murphy spoke about the need to repeal Don't Ask, Don't Tell. The Clinton era compromise came about when Colin Powell and others flaunted their homophobia and refused to allow gays and lesbians to serve openly in the military, a pledge Bill Clinton campaigned upon. The compromise was that you couldn't be asked about your sexuality and you couldn't talk about it. Unless you were straight. It was a compromise and, for that time period, a step forward. Today is out of date and out of step. Josh Drobnyk (Pennslyvania Ave. Blog) reports that with Ellen Tauscher's departure from Congress (she's now Undersecretary of State for Arms Control and International Security), Murphy will now take the lead on the Military Readiness Enhancement Act which would not only repeal Don't Ask, Don't Tell, it would also allow everyone to serve regardless of their sexuality and with no requirement that they hide who they are. Iraq War veteran Murphy states, "This is going to take months and months, but change is going to happen." Yesterday Lt Dan Choi learned that a US Army board was recommending he be discharged because he is gay and refuses to hide in a closet. Martin Wisckol (Orange County Register) quotes Choi, "I'm a leader. A setback is an opportunity to keep fighting, and I'm going to do that through my actions." Yesterday Jasmyn Belcher (WRVO -- audio and text) spoke with Choi who explained, "My job is to be here and to continue being an officer everything I was trained to do regardless of the discomfort, regardless of the emotions that are going on, you still do your duty. I believe this is my duty to stand up and to fight to stay in." Choi is not done fighting and hopefully he will be successful at a higher level but if he's not he will be, as Stan noted last night, the 266th US service member to be discharged for being gay since Barack Obama was sworn in as president. If Barack wanted to, all he need do is issue an executive order for a stop-loss on discharges under Don't Ask, Don't Tell. That would stop it right away. Congress could then address it but all the people (over 200 under Obama already) being discharged would no longer be drummed out of the military as a result of that executive order. CNN notes this citing Knights Out's Sue Fulton: "Fulton said that while Obama can't change the law himself, he could sign an executive order halting discharges while the policy is under review." Barry O likes to play helpless but he's not. One executive order is all it would take. The Syracuse Post-Standard editorializes for the Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy to be eliminated and observes that "enforcing the policy has cost taxpayers more than $400 million since 1994."
Joe Garofoli (San Francisco Chronicle) adds, "Still, some analysts say Choi's case is another example of how Washington leaders aren't showing much urgency -- or leadership -- in overturning 'don't ask, don't tell.' Obama has said he wants Congress to overturn the law; congressional laders say they are waiting for the president to take the lead; and military leaders say they won't change the policy unless directed by Congress." Mike McAndrew and Mark Weiner (Syracuse Post-Standard) report Choi "said he refuses to lie about being involved in a relationship with another man. Choi said the relationship has made him a better person, a better Christian and a better officer." Alexa James (Times Herald-Record) quotes Choi explaining, "All I did was tell the truth. I refused to lie about my boyfriend. His name is Matthew, not Martha."
Today McClatchy Newspapers' Sahar Issa appeared on Democracy Now! to address Iraq.
Sahar Issa: National Sovereignty Day, of course, is a day that is celebrated by the hearts of all Iraqis, you must know that Iraqi's pride -- is a proud country -- Iraqis are proud people. It is difficult for them not to be happy at the action of foreign troops leaving their cities and streets. At the same time that they are happy to gain control over their streets and cities there is doubt in their hearts whether the Iraqi security forces are actually adequate to the task that is in front of them in the coming days and weeks and months of keeping the peace and keeping the population secure. This is as the bottom of the doubts that you see: Is the Iraqi force actually adequate to the task? Are the Iraqi forces infiltrated by many? The Iraqi force has been formed upon somewhat sectarian lines. The Iraqi force also because of the administrative corruption -- has many people who have brought in their relatives, their friends, their neighbors, people who are not professional. And after six years, perhaps it would be a legitimate question to ask and to forward to the American forces: after six years of training they have understaken to present Iraq with a new force after dismantling the old one, why isn't the Iraqi force actually adequate to the task? The people of Iraq ask this question. It is the first question they ask. They are still not confident that the Iraqi forces are capable.
Those observations jibe with those of Alissa J. Rubin's (New York Times), "The excitement however, has run hollow for many Iraqis, who fear that their country's security forces are not ready to stand alone and who see the government's claims of independence as overblown." Back to the Democracy Now! segment:
JUAN GONZALEZ: And, Sahar Issa, what about the ability of the Iraqi government to provide basic services to the population? There's obviously many reports of corruption within the government and continued infighting among the various factions. How has the public seen the ability of the government to administer the society?
SAHAR ISSA: To tell you the truth, if you look back a little bit, you will find that with the height of violence that only started coming down in the beginning of 2008, and while human life was at stake, violence was like a blanket, cutting off a cross-section of what is really happening inside the Iraqi government, because everything was so clouded, people were hurt, they couldn't look further than their lot.
But when the violence ebbed after the beginning of 2008, people started picking up the reins of their lives, looking around to see what was going on. And they found, horrendously, that the government is totally riddled with corruption. It is totally built on tribal and sectarian bases, where people have their relatives in very sensitive places simply to make the profit. And the confidence in Iraqis that they had at first when they went to elect their government, they lost this confidence. They said, "Then what is the difference, if it is going to be tribal again? What is the difference between this government and the past, even if it is elected, if it is going to use the same lines?"
And that is, of course, part of the problem, is that it is not a matter of just putting the government out there. The problem is this government needs to gain the confidence of the people. It needs to give them something that they can hold onto. It needs to look at their very difficult lives. They didn't have electricity when the -- you know, outside this building, if I walk out now, it is so hot, toys will melt in cars. To just to give you an idea, toys will melt in cars. That is the heat. And people don't have electricity. After six years, they don't have water in their homes.
I spoke to a person yesterday in Beya'a neighborhood, when we were touring the city for reactions. And she said, "How can I be happy with sovereignty, if sovereignty has not brought me enough water to bathe, I can't wash my clothes, if I don't have electricity so I can sleep at night? What kind of sovereignty is this?" We are struggling, my dear friend. We are struggling so hard to reach square one. And so far, we haven't achieved it yet.
AMY GOODMAN: Sahar Issa, are you afraid of having your image known, of being identified as a reporter?
SAHAR ISSA: Oh, certainly, certainly, certainly. Working for a foreign -- never mind a US, American -- news agency will have me very clearly titled as the pastor's pie or working for the occupation. People -- the simpler people, let us say -- can't differentiate between a person who is picking up information and lighting things and making things public for -- to, how do you say, to extend a hand to other people to know what is actually going on inside our country. They can't tell the difference between this person and the person who's gathering information perhaps for intelligence preferences. And therefore, yes, of course, I am afraid. No one knows. Only my parents and my children and the people working with me know. And even the people who are working with me, not all of them know where I live. That's how bad it is.
Jeremy Scahill was also a guest on the segment.
JEREMY SCAHILL: Right. I mean, this is a very contrived sort of Hallmark holiday here. I doubt that decades from now many Iraqis are going to be, you know, telling their grandchildren where they were on National Sovereignty Day. I mean, remember the whole stumbling of President Bush: when he declared Iraqi sovereignty, he talked about the definition of sovereignty as a sovereign entity. Paul Bremer already officially handed over sovereignty to the Iraqis five years ago, and yet we have 130,000 US troops that remain in the country. This really is George Bush's Iraq plan that Barack Obama is now implementing and taking the political risk of implementing, because if the violence blows up, then of course it looks very much like Barack Obama has been a failure in Iraq, and not George Bush. So Obama, in many ways, has played into the Bush administration's hand. But we can see the clearest endgame of the US occupation in the fact that the Iraqi government, on a day when they declare their own sovereignty and you have the US military commander handing over the keys to the Defense Ministry, the Iraqi Oil Ministry opens up the country for bidding now on its oil resources, and you had eight of the ten top oil companies in the world that are not part of a nationalized state apparatus. In other words, eight of the ten most powerful private oil corporations in the world are now bidding for large shares of the Iraqi oil supply. I mean, to me, this is a grotesque symbol of what exactly is happening in Iraq.
And let me just say, Juan, that while we're seeing the sort of contrived celebrations, where ordinary Iraqis, for the most part, are not permitted to go into these big celebrations -- it's largely off-duty police officers, Iraqi soldiers and dignitaries -- the reality is that US soldiers are simply going to the outskirts of the cities and could easily go in to strike at them. General Ray Odierno, the top US military commander there, would not be clear on how many US soldiers are going to remain in the region. At the end of the day, the US has a massive eighty-football-field-size embassy. They have thousands upon thousands of contractors, 130,000 troops still in the country. And they're going to keep a force of 35,000 to 50,000 residual US forces when Obama is officially done withdrawing from Iraq. So, in reality, we see Barack Obama implementing, almost to the letter, George Bush's and the neocons' plan for Iraq, while putting a Democratic stamp on it and essentially downsizing and rebranding what remains a US occupation. So, no, this is Hallmark holiday stuff. And I think it's clear for anyone who's been following this that this is the same situation as when Bush tried to declare Iraqi sovereignty, when Paul Bremer snuck out of Baghdad in June of 2004.
At Information Clearing House, Jeremy explains of the for-show play-day:
While a lot of the media hype today focuses on the U.S. "withdrawal," that is hardly the reality. As previously reported, U.S. military commanders have said they are preparing for an Iraq presence for another 15-20 years, the U.S. embassy is the size of Vatican City, there is no official plan for the withdrawal of contractors and new corporate mercenary contracts are being awarded. The Status of Forces Agreement (SoFA) between the U.S. and Iraq gives the U.S. the right to extend the occupation indefinitely and to continue intervening militarily in Iraq ad infinitum. Article 27 of the SoFA allows the U.S. to undertake military action, "or any other measure," inside Iraq's borders "In the event of any external or internal threat or aggression against Iraq." As the airwaves and internet are flooded with reports of this new Iraqi sovereignty and U.S. withdrawal, it is important to remember a bit of history. Five years ago -- almost to the day -- President Bush put on an almost identical show. His proconsul L. Paul Bremer "handed over sovereignty" to the Iraqi government just before he skulked out of Baghdad on a secret flight (right after he issued an order banning Iraq from prosecuting contractors). Despite the pronouncements and proclamations and media hype, the occupation continued and real sovereignty was non-existent.
Meanwhile CNN reports that Moqtada al-Sadr has released a call for all US forces to leave Iraq and stated their presence "shows that the (Iraqi) government and the occupation are not serious about the withdrawal". Noting the silence on Iraq in the US, Dan Baltz asks "Have We Forgotten Iraq?" (Washington Post) in which he wonders, "If they [the White House] are wrong [about Iraq being able to stand up], there may be questions about what kind of country Americans are preparing to leave behind. Obama could find himself under pressure to adjust the withdrawal timetable." Or he could realize that it was a mistake to delay withdrawal because there is nothing else the US military can do (even the war hawks should agree with that) and allowing them to remain in the country as babysitters really turns them into sitting ducks of the continued occupation. And let's stop pretending the White House doesn't have plans. As we noted in Third's "Editorial: Save us from the panty sniffers" Sunday, US Ambassador to Iraq Chris Hill gave a press conference in the US June 18th:
What should have bothered Americans was Hill's refusal to discuss "contingency plans" for Iraq should the (partial) pull-back from cities (June 30th) result in increased violence. "Well, again," he repeated, "I don't want to discuss contingency plans." Why not? And why aren't these contingency plans known to the American public?
While Thomas E. Ricks (Foreign Policy) ignored Hill's press conference, he feels something important is missed from the press conference Gen Ray Odierno held yesterday in Baghdad: "We'll be operating in the belts around Baghdad." Ricks takes that to mean "that the U.S. strategy in the coming months will be to try to protect Baghdad by cutting off insurgents and militias operating in the fields, towns and palm groves that surround much of the capital. And that was where some of the heaviest fighting took place during the spring and summer of 2007, as 'the surge' began." So that may be, that may be, as Cass Elliot once sang ("California Earthquake") but equally true, and reporters know this, when a person loses it at a scheduled press conference, that's also known as "very telling." Translation, Reuters shouldn't have been the only outlet to report on Odierno Earthquake yesterday. And, no, Ricks hasn't written of that.
Here's some of the exchange from the DoD transcript:Q General, it's Andrew Gray from Reuters. You talked about a small number of U.S. forces remaining in the cities to train and advise. Can you put a figure? How many U.S. forces will remain? GEN. ODIERNO: Yeah, people have been trying to get me to say a figure now for about a month. And the reason I won't do it is because it's going to be different every single day, and it'll be based on how much training, how much advising, how much coordination is required. That will change each and every day. So I won't put a number on it. It is a smaller number, a significantly smaller number than what we've had in the cities now. But it has very specific missions: train the Iraqi security forces, advise them as we continue to move forward, enable them in order to -- potentially if they need some help with aviation, logistics, et cetera. But more -- almost as important, coordinate and help us to continue our situational awareness of all situations within Iraq. And that will help us to better support the Iraqi security forces.
Q General, just to follow up briefly, I am disappointed you didn't give us the scoop after a month of holding out, but I wonder if you could at least give us a -- you know, is it an -- a few thousand? If you could give us a kind of ballpark -- are we talking about several thousand? Would that be a reasonable ballpark to use? GEN. ODIERNO: Again -- again, there's hundreds of cities around, and we have hundreds of -- you know, and I've let the local commanders work this out. So for me to give a number would frankly be inaccurate, and I just don't want to do it. There'll be trainers, advisers, helping throughout all of the Iraqi cities where we continue to support and advise Iraqi security forces. Q Whatever the number is, how are you going to convince them basically, the U.S. forces remaining, not to jump in and be helpful, where perhaps you would prefer that the Iraqis take the lead? What will be different about what they're told to do, in a situation where they might think, their first instinct is, gosh, we can do that better.
GEN. ODIERNO: Well, again this is -- I call it -- we are working on changing our mindsets in the city. And I equate it to when we first started the surge, where we had to change our mindset. So pushing our soldiers back out, getting back into the communities, really partnering with the Iraqi security forces and today, it's the same kind of thing. We have to change our mindset. When we're in the cities, there's very specific things that we'll do. Actually we've been out of the cities, a large majority of the cities now, for the last eight months. So it's really only Mosul and the last remnants that we've had, in Baghdad, that have pulled out over the last few weeks. So we've actually been implementing this in many parts of Baghdad for a long time. And they understand what their mission is. They understand what we expect them to do. And you know, we have worked this very closely with all of the leaders in Iraq. We've worked -- I've worked very closely with the minister of defense, the minister of interior, the operations commanders, the operational commanders in order to work this out. And I feel very comfortable with where we're at.
Q General, it's Tom Bowman with NPR. I mean, you're reluctant to talk about how many trainers and mentors are in the cities. And it raises a question about whether or not this is just a show or not whether, you know, this is just semantics. There are essentially U.S. soldiers with guns in the cities. You can call them trainers or mentors. But how different is it from what we saw maybe two-three weeks ago? And if you have U.S. soldiers just outside the cities, I mean, what is this? Is this just a show for the American people?
GEN. ODIERNO: Well, I would say, you probably didn't listen to what I just said. Because what I just said was, having battalions and brigades inside a city is significantly different than having trainers, advisers and MiTT teams. And I said, we'll be operating in the belts around Baghdad. I've been very clear about this, just like we did in the surge. We had -- the reason we had to surge forces is, we had to get people in the cities. And then we had to eliminate safe havens and sanctuaries in the belts around Baghdad. It's the same thing, except the Iraqis will take responsibility for security in the cities. We will continue to do full-spectrum operations, outside of the cities, to work the safe havens and sanctuaries around the cities. And we will continue to do that. And it's legitimate, legitimate operations that we'll continue to conduct outside of the cities. If you're here in Baghdad, you would know. There is a significant change inside of the cities. There are thousands among thousands of soldiers that have pulled out of Baghdad. There -- and there hasn't been any soldiers in the cities in southern Iraq, there hasn't been any soldiers in the cities in Ramadi, there hasn't been any soldiers in the cities in Fallujah for months now. And we've been executing this very well. So again, if you're here in Iraq, you would see it for yourself there is a significant change.
As we noted yesterday, he apologized for his outburst (and referred to it as his "temper"). But that's a key moment of the press conference and not just because some reporters are now talking of starting a pool to see how quickly they can get Odierno to explode in the next press briefing, but also because that's not normal behavior from him. He's under huge pressure from the White House to walk their line and stick to their script and his feelings are rather well known about that at this late date. The troops haven't left Mosul and are not leaving Baghdad and no one knows what else and no one knows how many. Except Ray Odierno. He knows exactly what is going on with US troops in Iraq. And he's not allowed to reveal that. That's where his frustration comes in. He felt like the biggest idiot in the world because he couldn't answer the question that he knew the answer to but which the White House won't let him speak on. That, Thomas E. Ricks, is an important detail.
Now let's sit down at the piano, it's time for "Miss Kenneth Laments" -- the lost Cole Porter song. "Sure, well, first, of course," hemmed and hawed War Hawk and Cheerleader Kenny Pollack, "as listeners of your show are aware, 'cause I've been on the show any number of times to talk about, this, I did believe that an, uh, invasion would be necessary but not the invasion that we got. Not in the time that we did it, not in the way that we did it, not how we did it or with whom we did it. As for what have we accomplished? I think the jury is still out." Brookings Boy Kenny sure was nervous and, please note, his 'answer' was to a question about whether or not the Iraq War was worth it. Monday on NPR's The Diane Rehm Show, Diane explained, "And here's a question for you, Ken Pollack, you were among those who favored US invasion of Iraq. What do you believe we have gained if anything?" The question wasn't did he support the illegal war before it started.
And yet, he nervously stated, before getting to the question he'd been asked, ""Sure, well, first, of course, as listeners of your show are aware, 'cause I've been on the show any number of times to talk about, this, I did believe that an, uh, invasion would be necessary but not the invasion that we got. Not in the time that we did it, not in the way that we did it, not how we did it or with whom we did it." First, let's again note, this is the talking point and War Hawks pushed it after Vietnam as well. It goes like this: "The problem wasn't the war and its illegality, the problem was the way it was fought." No, the problem was the war. As for what he advocated for? His 2002 book Threatening Storm: The Case for Invading Iraq made it pretty clear in the title but in it he argues for the US "to mount a full-scale invasion of Iraq to smash the Iraqi armed forces, depose Saddam's regime, and rid the country of weapons of mass destruction." Saddam had no WMDs. Kenny boy forgot to include that on NPR Monday. He forgot to admit that or own any of his mistakes. Instead, he wanted to complain that the war he dreamed of arrived in the wrong size and color.
The Wall St. Journal's Gina Chon appears briefly at the start of the program, reporting from Iraq, but technical difficulties sideline her.
Diane Rehm: Okay, let's talk about what the Iraqi people can and cannot do.
Paul Pillar: As part of the bargaining that Prime Minister Maliki had to get agreement with his cabinet and Parliament for the security agreement, he agreed that there would be a referendum to approve or disapprove the agreement. Your caller is correct that July 30th was the date that had been previously set but it appears that it is most likely going to be delayed until January to coincide with the Parliamentary election. So that will be an important outcome -- whether or not the Iraqi people approve it. If they disapprove it, then what -- as I understand the agreement -- what comes into play is the withdrawal clause which basically says 'either party has a year to terminate the agreement' which means that would move up the deadline for all US forces to -- to get out by almost a year -- to 2010 rather than 2011. But, again, that does not preclude some new agreement being negotiated between the governments of the day in Baghdad and Washington.
Kenneth Pollack: This is a really important point because what you're seeing now is the Iraqis using the politics to deal with the security situation in potentially very difficult ways, dangerous ways. We talked a lot about how the Iraqis, the Iraqi people, are ambivalent about the agreement. We haven't talked about Prime Minister Maliki and his own ambivalence. At one level, he knows that he can't allow the country to fall apart and he's nervous that his own security forces can't hold it together. By the same token though, he sees the United States as an impediment to his consolidation of power and I think that there's a lot of evidence to suggest that he's moving it to January in hope that it will either discredit all of his political adversaries or cause a termination of the agreement prematurely exactly as Paul was suggesting.
[. . .]
Diane Rehm: Just before the break, one of our callers, Lily in Syracuse, New York, had asked about the referendum that's going to take place -- the decision of the Iraqi [. . .] [people] to stay or not to stay. That's a really important point, Paul.
Paul: It's very important and I'm glad we got the call, that raised the issue but I would simply agree with what we heard from Ken before the break. It's partly Maliki continuing to play a political game. But if -- if the referendum, it's voted down, uh, in January, uh, there are going to be extremely difficult decisions for the Obama administration to make about its policy and posture in Iraq over the course of the next year. To some extent, it might be seen as a political blessing for much of his constituency, it means getting out earlier, but he is going to have to sit down with his commanders, with General Petraeus, General Odeireno, or who ever is occupying their jobs at that time and have some very hard talk about the security situation in Iraq as of the end, not of 2011, but of 2010.
Elise Labott: And let's not forget that President Obama won, in part, the presidency on his campaign to withdraw US forces from Iraq. He said that the war in Afghanistan was the more important war, the war that was the greater threat to US national security with the emergent -- the reemergence of the Taliban and al Qaeda and he wanted to pay more attention to that war and by all accounts you can't do that with 130,000 troops in Iraq. But the question is if the sectarian violence gets worse, if Iraq continues to spiral, the question is: Does Barack Obama have blood on his hands if -- if he withdraws all of his troops from Iraq and a lot of people -- it's a moral dilemma for him.
Diane Rehm: Ken Pollack?
Kenneth Pollack: Well I think that there's also a strategic consideration which is that the truth is that Iraq is ultimately of far greater strategic consequence to the United States than Afghanistan. Afghanistan is a problem because of the terrorism problem and because of relationship to Pakistan but you can't solve the problem of Afghanistan through Pakistan.
That last Pollack 'gem' is included to dissuade his cult from e-mailing and saying, "His 2002 book said!" Don't give me that crap. Don't spit out the Slate book review claiming Kenny's 2002 book said Afghanistan was more important. Kenny's all over the map, always has been, there's never been a cohesive argument from him. Only baseless charges followed by meaningless laments. The full hour was devoted to Iraq (here for that segment itself) for those who missed it. (I did. An NPR friend passed it on.) The guests were (very briefly) Gina Chon, CNN's Elise Labott, Brookings Kenneth Pollack and Georgetown's Paul Pilar.
Earlier mid-June US Ambassador to Iraq Chris Hill claimed that fatalies were down in the month of June. Silly Chris and silly reporters who fell for that garbage. Reuters reports that there was a spike and that the official numbers from the Iraqi Health Ministry is 373 for the month of June. Those are the Iraqi government figures. The actual figures are likely far higher. In some of today's violence, Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports Iraqi forces shot dead a man in Mosul (a 'suspect') and that a Mosul roadside bombing injured a police officer.
Sir! No Sir! Exposing and Debunking Military Lies from Vietnam to Iraq notes a national anti-war conference put on by National Assembly to End the Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and Pittsburg End The War to be held at La Roche College in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Veterans for Peace's Michael T. McPherson, Arab American Union's Marily Levin, Black Voices for Peace's Gail Austin, Arab American Union's Monadel Herzallah and Iraqi poet-activist Zaineb Alani are among those participating. Cindy Sheehan will be participating as well and we'll note her in just a moment. Diane Rejman is also with Veterans for Peace and she tackles recruitment at CounterPunch noting:
The recruiting system leaves out the second part of this. Recruiters talk about travel, adventure, skill-training, and getting your college education paid for. They don't mention that the travel and adventure may involve being in 110 degree+ temperatures, loaded up with gear, sleeping in tents, having your life threatened on a daily basis, and maybe not even having enough clean water to drink. They don't mention that the skill-training is usually not transferable to a civilian job, or that some of the skills taught include how to be a prejudiced, hate-filled, bigot, who can be capable of killing another human being without feeling. They don't explain that the military will teach a person to hate when he or she enlists, but doesn't teach love when the soldier returns. And they certainly don't mention that only 14 percent of soldiers who sign up for the GI Bill use the benefit.
The lies of omission often go further. A recruiter may promise a job as a pilot, knowing the soldier won't qualify and will possibly end up as a truck driver in Iraq – one of the most dangerous jobs. A prospective Navy medic may not understand that he or she may end up in a combat zone since they are the ones who take care of Marines. Or the biggest lie of all – they convince the soldier he or she is signing up for three years, and don't point out that these days, with the stop-loss program in place, the enlistment agreement (note I don't use the word "contract") currently commits the soldier potentially to a life sentence.
But you know what, these are only a few of the lies involved in keeping a war machine going. The bigger ones come from society itself. That war is a good thing. That movies and video games represent reality. You get killed in a video game, press a button, and start over. You don't lose a friend, body parts, or your mind.
Click here to see Diane Rejman performing Bob Dylan's "Joe Brown."
As noted in yesterday's snapshot, US presidential candidate Cynthia McKinney and others on The Spirty of Humanity being detained by the Israeli government and prevented from delivering humanitarian supplies to Gaza. Peace Mom Cindy Sheehan is calling out the detention:
Nobel Peace Prize Nominee, Human Rights' Activist and Gold Star Mother, Cindy Sheehan, calls on the Israeli government to immediately release the members and crew of the boat The Spirit of Humanity that was attempting to deliver humanitarian aid to the devastated peoples of Gaza.Speaking from Newton, Mass, Ms. Sheehan commented: "The detention of the crew and human rights' workers on The Spirit of Humanity is a clear violation of international law, as the blockade of Gaza is a clear violation of not only international law but the human rights of the people of Gaza. Not only must the Israeli government immediately release and recompense the captives, but it must allow the humanitarian aid to penetrate the blockade."
She continued: "I not only call on the Israeli government to do the right thing, but I call on our own President, who has claimed that he is an advocate for human rights, to condemn this act of international piracy by the rogue state of Israel and also demand the release of the kidnapped aid workers. This condemnation must be as strong and clear as the condemnation for the Somali 'pirates' was. A very courageous and dear friend of mine, Cynthia McKinney, was on that boat and the captives must all be treated with dignity and respect and speedily released."
Cindy Sheehan's Myth America Tour continues this month. The dates for the start of the month include:
July 8th Wednesday 2 to 4 p.m. Cleveland Book Signing
Mac Bac's Books
1820 Coventry Road
Cleveland Hts. OH
Akron Main Public Library
July 8th 7 to 9 p.m.
60 S. High St.
Akron, OH 44326
Cleveland Community pot luck with Cindy
July 9th four to six p.m.
10220 Clifton Ave.
St. Coleman's Parish Hall
July 9th seven to nine p.m.
West 65th and Madison
July 10th noon to two p.m.
National Assembly to End the War
July 11th to 12th
Al Franken in a US Senator. See, the US can do recounts and can be patient. Al Franken and Norm Coleman (his Republican opponent who lost) proved (probably not intentionally on Coleman's part) that the Supreme Court did not need to stop the process in Bush v. Gore. The votes could have been counted. And would have been easily before Christmas 2000. Al Franken is interviewed by former US Senator Fred Thompson here. The only one put out by the long drawn out process was Senator Amy Klobuchar and even she and her staff managed. The US can do recounts, no matter what the Supreme Court thinks.
iraqmike mcandrewmark weinerjoe garofolithe san francisco chroniclealexa james
jeremy scahillthe washington postdan balzthe new york timesalissa j. rubinsahar issamcclatchy newspapersdemocracy now
nprthe diane rehm show