That's Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts "The Snipper." It's perfect.
Chris Hedges' latest is not. We are at the end of the empire, his headline and opening sentence tell us. He then goes on a literature survey to back it up. Back it up?
I'm reminded of Susan Faludi's Backlash and how she points out that the proof Allen Bloom offers in The Closing of the American Mind is not much proof at all:
The Closing of the American Mind is so packed with erudite and classical allusions that its critique of feminism appears to be grounded in Plato, not personal umbrage. But weed the Bloomian garden of its overcultivated metaphors, polysyllabic flourishes, and profuse quotations from the ancient Greek philosophers, Roussean, Flaubert, and Shakespeare, and you're left with a scholarly wasteland: no research, no evidence, not even a single quotation from a single-living human being to support Bloom's analysis of the contemporary situation between the sexes. The closest he comes is one reference to "overhearing" conversations between couples in restaurants.
That's a good description of Chris Hedges' latest.
I hope he's right. I hope empire is ending. But if it is and what's to come next are not addressed as he hops from a Margaret Atwood novel (a great one, I love Atwood) to many men.
And, by the way, Chris, people wouldn't think you were such a sexist if you didn't write columns like this -- citing six men (plus Barack) and only two women (Hannah Arendt is the other woman).
Here's C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"
First, we addressed the coverage of al Qaeda in Iraq earlier today. A 'sweet' 'analyst' e-mailed to advise me of how "uninformed" I am for this statement:
Starting in 2009, regular press reports pop up about how Nouri's failure to pay or create other jobs for Sahwa (Sunnis and a few Shi'ites paid to stop attacking US forces and US equipment) was leading them to join rebel groups or terrorist groups or other groups.
"Everyone," the e-mail informs me, "knows that the Sons of Iraq are Sunni." Sahwa is also known as "Awakenings" and "Sons Of Iraq" (with the less covered female counterparts known as "Daughters Of Iraq." As for what "everyone" knows, I know reality, what do you know? Oh, that's right, you know crap ass nothing.
You read the conventional wisdom in the press and you think you know something. Here? We report on Congressional hearings and have for years.
That means that the April 2008 week of The Petraeus and Crocker Show, where the then top-US commander in Iraq, David Petraeus, and then-US Ambassador Ryan Crocker testified to Congress, we were at everyone of those hearings. That included catching both the morning and the afternoon hearings on April 8th. From that day's snapshot:
Today The Petraeus & Crocker Variety Hour took their act on the road. First stop, the Senate Armed Services Committee. Gen David Petraeus and US Ambassador Ryan Crocker are supposed to be providing a status report on the Iraq War. They didn't. In fact, Petraeus made clear that the status report would come . . . next September. When the results are this bad, you stall -- which is exactly what Petraeus did.
The most dramatic moment came as committee chair Carl Levin was questioning Petraeus and a man in the gallery began exclaiming "Bring them home!" repeatedly. (He did so at least 16 times before he was escored out). The most hilarious moment was hearing Petraeus explain that it's tough in the school yard and America needs to fork over their lunch money in Iraq to avoid getting beat up. In his opening remarks, Petraues explained of the "Awakening" Council (aka "Sons of Iraq," et al) that it was a good thing "there are now over 91,000 Sons of Iraq -- Shia as well as Sunni -- under contract to help Coalition and Iraqi Forces protect their neighborhoods and secure infrastructure and roads. These volunteers have contributed significantly in various areas, and the savings in vehicles not lost because of reduced violence -- not to mention the priceless lives saved -- have far outweighed the cost of their monthly contracts." Again, the US must fork over their lunch money, apparently, to avoid being beat up.
How much lunch money is the US forking over? Members of the "Awakening" Council are paid, by the US, a minimum of $300 a month (US dollars). By Petraeus' figures that mean the US is paying $27,300,000 a month. $27 million a month is going to the "Awakening" Councils who, Petraeus brags, have led to "savings in vehicles not lost". Again, in this morning's hearings, the top commander in Iraq explained that the US strategy is forking over the lunch money to school yard bullies. What a [proud] moment for the country.
Crocker's entire testimony can be boiled down to a statement he made in his opening statements, "What has been achieved is substantial, but it is also reversible." Which would translate in the real world as nothing has really changed. During questioning from Senator Jack Reed, Crocker would rush to shore up the "Awakening" Council members as well. He would say there were about 90,000 of them and, pay attention, the transitioning of them is delayed due to "illliteracy and physical disabilities."
What did Petraeus testify too? "There are now over 91,000 Sons of Iraq -- Shia as well as Sunni . . ." Maybe 'analysts' should take off their pajamas and stop depending upon other people for research?
Yes, the press has repeatedly and consistently reported of SOI/Awakenings/Sahwa being just Sunni. But Petreaus implemented the program and reported on it to Congress so I would give that a little more credence than a wire report.
'Well people get flustered in hearings and can mispeak.'
They can. Petraeus didn't that day or that week. That day, his toughest moment came in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee when Senator Barbara Boxer questioned him about the monies being paid to these groups. He got nervous but he didn't mispeak.
But in terms of the "Shia as well as Sunni"? As I recall that moment in the hearing (I could be wrong, it was over five years ago -- but, thing is, I'm not wrong), Petraeus didn't just say it, he had a visual aid, a chart, to illustrated it. So the chart would have had to have been wrong too.
In addition, and this is what really nails it, I remember being really ticked off when he said it. What really pisses me off in a hearing? Someone wasting everyone's time reading their written statement for the record out loud. There's no reason for it. It's put in the record. Stop it, please. When Secretary of State John Kerry chaired committees, he would instruct/beg witnesses not to waste everyone's time by reading those prepared remarks.
Prepared remarks. Meaning Petraeus was reading from his written submission. This was not an ad-lib in response to a question. He said. He meant to say it, he put it in writing before he said it and he brought a visual aid.
At your own website, you're drowning in errors so I am touched that you took the time to try to find an error by me. I'm sure they are here. I am human being, not a computer. But, thing is, Shi'ites being a small part of the Sahwa, Awakening, Sons Of Iraq, was not a mistake. If you want to question it, you take the question to David Petraeus but don't tell me I have something wrong when it's based upon the testimony of the person who implemented the program. I sat through the hearings, I covered them. I know what was said.
On the topic of attacks in Iraq, cleric and movement leader Moqtada al-Sadr granted an interview to Asharq Al-Awsat:
In an exclusive interview with Asharq Al-Awsat the head of Shi’ite Sadr Movement Moqtada Al-Sadr said that Iraq is ruled by terrorism, and predicted that the situation will worsen in the near future.
“Iraq today is at the height of danger and has become a prisoner of terrorism, extremism and violence,” Sadr told Asharq Al-Awsat.
“Iraq is under the rule of terrorism, bombing cars, murder and bloodshed,” he said, adding, “This is how Iraq is and this is the situation it is in.”
The Shi’ite leader accused the country’s prime minister, Nouri Al-Maliki, of being a failure, claiming that Iraq needs a “father-like ruler,” instead of Maliki whom he expected would attempt to remain in power for a “third or perhaps fourth term… or even forever.”
And Nouri is a failure. And Moqtada's probably correct about Nouri wanting a "fourth term . . . or even forever." We already know he wants a third term and -- this after promising AFP in 2011 that he would not seek a third term. Back then, people were rightly complaining about him and his lack of leadership -- as is taking place today. But back then, leaders were being toppled throughout the region in what was dubbed the Arab Spring. Afraid of becoming just another ousted leader, Nouri made a series of promises including that he'd end corruption in 100 days and that he wouldn't seek a third term. 100 days? That was the first broken promise. He didn't care, he just used it to by time and when 100 days rolled around, he didn't even make the pretense of ending corruption and he and his flunkies have spent the last two years insisting that his promise to AFP wasn't a promise.
His intended end of the month visit to DC is about making sure that he still has the White House backing. While the US government has refused to acknowledge the visit and the last official statement (from State Dept spokesperson Marie Harf) this past week is that there is no visit, the Iraqi press tells a different story. Nouri's office announced the visit October 6th the one the State Dept was denying on Wednesday. Saturday, All Iraq News reported on Nouri's planned visit to DC noting that security issues will be the focus of the meet-up. National Iraqi News Agency reports today the visit is scheduled for October 25th. And, by the way, this visit Marie Harf lied about? NINA notes it comes "in response to an official invitation of U.S. President Barack Obama."
Speaker of Parliament Osama al-Nujaifi has declared parliamentary elections will take place April 30th. All Iraq News reports today that the Independent High Electoral Commission has approved the schedule. IHEC also announced they will begin training election employees shortly. Of course, an announcement or a declaration isn't the same as passing a law and the Parliament still hasn't passed the required election law. al-Nujaifi has declared a date and stated Iraq can use the previous election law. From the October 7th snapshot:
Alsumaria reports that Speaker of Parliament Osama al-Nujaifi presided over a session today which 220 MPs attended and that the election bill was raised.
NINA states that a date for the elections was agreed upon: April 30th. Before the session started, Iraqiya MP Mudhhir al-Janabi predicted to All Iraq News that a law would not be passed in today's session. Of course, he was correct. NINA notes Iraqiya MP Haider Mulla has announced no law was passed and states they will not allow "the will of the Iraqi people [to be broken] through the postponement of elections and the failure to approve the law. This is a red line will not allow it because entitlement for each of the Iraqi people." Alsumaria notes National Alliance MP Ammar Tohme held a press conference decrying the inability to pass an election law and stating that this is failure that keeps repeating. Alsumaria reports al-Nujaifi states if they can't pass a law, they will use Law 16 of 2009 -- the parliamentary election law used for 2010.
Of course, just saying it doesn't make it so. And while MP Mahmoud Othman's been telling everyone for days (NINA here) that as soon as soon as Eid al-Adha ends (the holiday starts tomorrow) that the Kurdish bloc will cease objections to the bill and vote for it, those are just words as well. Also true, if Othman spoke for the Kurdish Alliance, he wouldn't be billed as an "independent MP."
Currently, the Parliament agree on a law but somehow, magic?, they're all going to agree with Osama al-Nujaifi's announcement that a previous law can be used?
That seems pretty pie in the sky for a country that is always 'turning a corner' to listen to the spinners but whose government continues the same death march it began in 2006.
On elections and security, Mustafa al-Kadhimi (Al-Monitor) offers these thoughts:
The electoral campaigning that actually begins in Iraq more than a year prior to any elections prevents the resolution of the security crisis and stands in the way of taking the necessary steps needed to achieve social peace.
Why is this? The answer is that all competing factions consider any progress on the security, political, or service levels to be an electoral card that must be exploited in Iraq. Supporters of the regime view progress as an effective card to be played during electoral campaigns. Meanwhile, their opponents strive to prevent such progress from being attained prior to elections, because they know that it would be exploited by others at their expense.
It is a vicious and extremely complex cycle of death. It cannot be escaped without a return to the main principle upon which states are established: to Jean-Jacques Rousseau and his The Social Contract, to a redefinition of the Iraqi state’s central mission to safeguard the security, rights, freedoms, and welfare of its people. States must be tools by which these “contracts” are implemented. It is wrong for the populace, and Iraqi politicians in particular, to erroneously believe that the term “government” equates to “state”.
Security must not be made into an electoral issue. Security and military forces must not be transformed into a tool used by governments or parties. They are the people’s right arm and their protector.
If the premise of the above argument is correct, six months before an election may be a little late to start insisting, "Security must not be made into an electoral issue." Then again, Nouri's slate is all about making security into an electoral issue -- it's why they're called State of Law.
Mohammed Tawfeeq (CNN) notes, "A string of car and roadside bombings across Iraq on Sunday killed at least 44 people and wounded more than 140 others, police officials told CNN." Yesterday, All Iraq News reported that the Ministry of Interior was insisting 45 people were killed or wounded -- with over 30 of that 45 being wounded. And that's among the reasons few trust Nouri's government. It was just last week that the Iraqi Times was calling out Nouri's government for its repeated lies on the number of dead and wounded. The paper noted the government attempts to lower criticism by lying about the number of dead and wounded.
While Nouri's headless security ministries can pretend the death toll isn't that hight, Adnan Abu Zeed (Al-Monitor) reports on a place that can't avoid the realities of the death toll:
During the past few months, Iraq’s memory of the “morgue refrigerators” has returned — after having somewhat diminished over the past two years but never having completely disappeared.
The western press has a knee jerk reaction of blaming all violence on 'al Qaeda in Iraq.' That certainly let's Nouri and his thugs off the hook. Friday NINA reported an Imam was also assassinated in Mosul. Aswat al-Iraq reported on Saturday:
Mutahidoun Bloc MP Mohammed Iqbal said that "there is governmental connivance in assassinating Sheikh Ali al-Shama' in Mosul city yesterday, Friday.
The statement, by his office, denounced the assassination, expressing "astonishment" for the absence of the security forces.
The deceased was one of the activists in Mosul city, whose "killing was to intimidate all activists", the statement added.
It is highly unlikely 'al Qaead' is killing Sunni activists. Since December 21st, protests have been ongoing in Iraq. Usman Butt (Policy Mic) notes:
In addition to direct violence, groups organized along sectarian lines often seek to intimidate one another and instigate more violence. The latest clashes involved a group of young Shia men who marched into a Sunni neighborhood, chanting and cursing Sunni holy figures and labelling them "Nawasib," a derogatory term. To make matters worse, the protesters marched alongside the Iraqi security forces who were protecting them.
That Iraqi security forces protect and abet anti-Sunni protests should be no surprise to many Sunni and Shia leaders in Iraq. Nouri Al-Maliki has been accused of running a sectarian government by both Sunni and Shia religious leaders. Earlier this year, thousands of Sunnis marched against the Al-Maliki government complaining of institutional discrimination, high unemployment, and corruption. The wave of demonstrations was referred to as the "Sunni spring."
Again, it's highly unlikely that al Qaeda is killing Sunni activists. Nouri al-Maliki (prime minister and chief thug of Iraq) is supporting Shi'ite militias -- arming and paying them to attack Sunnis. At the end of last month, Tim Arango (New York Times) reported on that and noted:
In supporting Asaib al-Haq, Mr. Maliki has apparently made the risky calculation that by backing some Shiite militias, even in secret, he can maintain control over the country’s restive Shiite population and, ultimately, retain power after the next national elections, which are scheduled for next year. Militiamen and residents of Shiite areas say members of Asaib al-Haq are given government badges and weapons and allowed freedom of movement by the security forces.
Again, it's highly unlikely that al Qaeda is killing Sunni activists. But the western press really isn't interested in that, are they? They're certainly not interested in amplifying Arango's reporting.
They're interested in pimping lies about how Nouri's gone out of his way to meet the demands of the protesters. No, he hasn't. He would not (finally) meet this month with a representative for the demonstrators if he was meeting their demands. Mushreq Abbas (Al-Monitor) reports today:
The Sunni demonstrators that have been protesting for more than 10 months are awaiting the results of the talks between Anbar’s governor Ahmed Khalaf al-Dulaimi and Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki about the demonstrators’ demands. On Oct. 3, Anbar’s tribes authorized the city's governor to negotiate with the government. But this authorization caused a split among the demonstrators and was rejected by some tribal elders and clerics.
Sheikh Ali Hatem al-Dulaimi, one of the leaders of the Anbar demonstrations, asserted in an Oct. 3 speech that the Sunni demonstrations have authorized Anbar’s governor to negotiate with the government and that the decision was made in consultation with tribal elders and the main leaders of the demonstrations in the cities. He also said that the objectives of the authorization are to achieve security in the province and stop the government' from claiming that the demonstrations have no one to negotiate in their name.
A spokesman for Anbar protesters, Basem al-Anbari, indicated immediately after the announcement of the appointment that “A meeting was held between the leaders of the protests in Anbar, tribal elders and members of the provincial council, during which they decided to appoint Ahmed al-Dulaimi as head of the committee to negotiate with the federal government on the demonstrators’ demands.”
In fact, Anbar’s governor met with Maliki on Oct. 5 and told him of the demonstrators’ demands.
One of their demands -- prompted by the 'disappeared' and the rapes of women and girls in Iraqi prisons and detention centers -- was for the innocent to be released. Nouri's long pretended to have heard and met that demand.
For those late to the party, this refers primarily to those who have not been charged with anything. Following the hideous example of the US government in Iraq, Iraqi law now allows for the arresting of people who are suspected of no wrong doing. Your brother is a terrorist suspect. The police and military can't find him? They can arrest you. Or his mother. Or his father. Or his children. Or his wife. Or . . .
These are the innocents. They have committed no crime, even the Iraqi police don't accuse them of a crime. But they're related to a suspect and may spend months or years in prison.
That's Iraqi 'justice' for you and, again, it's only following the example the US government earlier set in Iraq.
Back in June, Nouri's little committee announced that 7,000 prisoners (including 200 women) had been released since January as part of the demand to release the innocents. The problems with the number are many. First and foremost, no list has been provided naming those released. Nouri's already lying about the death toll. Is it really a big stretch to think he might lie about the number of prisoners released as well? Second, 7,000 seems like a big number . . . unless you pay attention. In the last two weeks, over 900 people have been arrested in mass arrests. Today alone, 20 were arrested just in Kirkuk and 25 in Mosul. And that qualifies as a slow day. Saturday, NINA reported:
Cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, urged the three presidencies to release "innocent prisoners and the honorable resistant fighters who have not stained their hands with the blood of innocent Iraqis.
He said in a speech delivered on his behalf during the seminar held in Najaf and hosted by the Sadrists today : " Sadr sent two letters to the three presidencies, including his demand to release the Sadrist detainees .
Staying with Iraqi 'justice,' in last Thursday's snapshot, we noted the 42 executions in Iraq last week brought the total to 132 for the year so far, three more than were executed in Iraq in 2012. NINA reports today Iraqiya MP Talal Zobaie has declared some of the executed had been set for release and called out the government for "executing innocent Iraqi detainees in spite [of] a clear provision to release them due to their innocence of the charges against them." What Nouri's government has long been accused of is true, according to Zobaie, he's using the death penalty to kill Sunnis. That's why his State of Law has repeatedly blocked an amnesty law. This rumor has been behind many of the prison riots. The western press never cares about what's behind it, they're too busy trying to link it to al Qaeda. But many of the riots start because Nouri's moving death row prisoners from their cells to another facility where they can be executed.
Violence continues in Iraq. Through yesterday, Iraq Body Count notes 490 violent deaths for the month thus far. AFP's WG Dunlop Tweeted:
Today? National Iraqi News Agency reports an armed clash between al Qaeda in Iraq and Ansar Assuna left 3 of them dead "and others wounded," 2 Kirkuk car bombings left 4 people dead, 1 government employee was shot dead outside his Falluja home, a Ramadi bombing left two police officers injured, an Aneh bombing left a military colonel injured, a Tikrit roadside bombing claimed the lives of 3 police officers and left five other people (including three police officers) injured, and Ali Hussein Ali was killed in Balad by a roadside bombing which also left his son injured (he was a Yahtrib council member).
The UN News Centre notes:
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today condemned in the strongest terms a string of bombings which have killed or wounded scores of Iraqis ahead of the Eid Al-Adha holiday.
The bombings are “particularly despicable” due to the timing given Eid is a time when Iraqis extend their hands to the needy and the suffering, Mr. Ban said in a statement from his spokesperson.
“On this holiday, the Secretary-General reiterates his call on Iraqi leaders to work for political unity and bring the country back from the brink of sectarian violence,” according to the statement.
Dozens of people have reportedly been killed in the past days, including school children.
Mr. Ban extended his deepest condolences to the families of the victims and the Government of Iraq, and wishes the wounded a speedy recovery.
Today, US Ambassador to Iraq Stephen Beecroft issued the following statement:
As Muslims in Iraq and around the world commemorate the faith, devotion and self-sacrifice of Abraham, I would like to join President Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry in extending warm greetings and best wishes to everyone celebrating Eid al-Adha. We are all deeply moved by the outpouring of charity and the spirit of community that this holiday inspires. The U.S. Mission in Iraq extends its best wishes to all of you. Eid Mubarak.
And UNAMI issued the following:
Baghdad, 14 October 2013 – On the occasion of Eid Al-Adha Al-Mubarak, the Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General for Iraq (SRSG), Mr. Nickolay Mladenov, extends his best wishes to the people and Government of Iraq, on behalf of the entire UN family.
“On this Eid and at this crucial time, I would like to plead for unity and understanding among all the Iraqis and their political, religious, and civil leaders. It is only through working together that the people of Iraq can stand up to the violence that is tearing society apart”, Mr. Mladenov said.
““I hope that as people extend their hands to the poor and those suffering, they will remember that only through sharing, tolerance and justice can peace and prosperity be achieved. Eid Mubarak!”
On Eid, AFP's Mohamad Ali Harissi Tweeted about Eid at the Syrian refugee camp in the Kurdistan Regional Government (semi-autonomous government in northern Iraq).
Mohamad Ali Harissi (AFP) conducted an interview with KRG President Massoud Barzani over the weekend:
The Kurdish people have a right to self-determination and statehood, but this will not be accomplished through violence, Iraqi Kurdish leader Massud Barzani said.
It is "a natural right for there to be a state for the Kurdish people, but this will not be achieved by violence, and must be done in a natural way," Barzani, the president of Iraq's autonomous Kurdistan region, said in an exclusive interview with AFP.
This "age is the age of understanding, and we encourage dialogue between the Kurds and... the states" where Kurdish populations live, he said.
We'll touch more on Barzani's statements tomorrow.