Category Archives: Iraq

Hillary Clinton’s disqualifying experience

What does being qualified to serve as president mean? You hear it a lot about the current Clinton iteration. Lots of people who earnestly don’t want Hillary Clinton to be president will tell you there’s no doubt she’s qualified, but [insert objection here]. Her supporters acknowledge no deficiencies other than, perhaps, an almost embarrassing overabundance of competence. It’s because of her previous White House experience, her Senate experience and her Ministry of War Diplomacy experience.

There’s no denying Clinton has experience, but how, exactly, does it qualify her to be president? Her first significant experience in the (so far only) Clinton administration was the monumental health insurance reform fiasco. Her first significant vote in the Senate was the one green-lighting the invasion of Iraq, a massively stupid, destructive, unjustifiable decision that she refused to repudiate for more than a decade.
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On Patriot Day, we begin the war we have been fighting for years

Yesterday was Patriot Day, by proclamation of the President. The proclamation was released by the press office at 9:24 AM, about two hours before the office released excerpts from the speech the President delivered about 10 hours later.

Pre-speech excerpts are a tradition. These are the lines administration officials want the chucktodds of the press to be talking and writing about in the hours before the speech, the “Tonight, the President will say” lines. These are the lines meant to manage expectations and convey gravitas. They’re released in the morning so the chucktodds have time to write something up that is similar to but not identical with what all the other chucktodds are saying and writing, and which includes responses from anonymous administration officials — somber, but favorable — and public experts (“experts disagree!”).
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The past is prologue, those who don’t learn are doomed, blah blah blah: but Ahmad Fucking Chalabi?

Updated 10:53 6.19.2014
Further updated 7:14 6.20.2014

Every now and then, WTF just doesn’t do it, and you have to holler out, WHAT THE FUCK??????

Over the past two days the American ambassador, Robert S. Beecroft, along with Brett McGurk, the senior State Department official on Iraq and Iran, have met with Usama Nujaifi, the leader of the largest Sunni contingent, United For Reform, and with Ahmad Chalabi, one of the several potential Shiite candidates for prime minister, according to people close to each of those factions, as well as other political figures.

That’s right: the Obama administration, according to the New York Times and other sources, are apparently considering a renewal of US support for Ahmad Chalabi, the prepackaged Bush administration choice to parachute in and make Iraq safe for looting by US oil and arms trade interests, who coincidentally provided much of the fabricated “evidence” used by the Bushies to justify the invasion.
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Routine carnage in Boston

I was browsing through my news feed yesterday morning when I ran across a story about the US bombing a wedding in Afghanistan. I thought something like “Jeez, again?”* and didn’t click through for the full story because it was so familiar. Now I can’t find it, but I think it said 30 dead. A few minutes later I ran across this story, which I also didn’t read beyond the summary but for some reason flagged in the feed: Bombs kill more than 30 across Iraq before local poll. (That turned out to be a very low, early estimate.)

It wasn’t too long after that, maybe 20 minutes, when reports of the atrocity in Boston began popping up on the feed, and among my first reactions when I saw the early accounts of two dead was “Well, that doesn’t sound too bad.” Less than the 30 dead at the wedding and the 30 in the other bombs in the other cities, anyway. It took a little while to locate some shock, and 24 hours later I still find myself thinking the same thing — horrible but could’ve been worse — and wondering the same thing that occurred to me yesterday when I was looking at stories about it: what would the papers be like if this was happening in an American city every week or two?

I got thousands of results when I searched Google News for the bombing. Initially they were the same two or three stories and then there were more. I stopped regularly watching television news more than 20 years ago — around the time the elder Bush’s Iraq extravaganza broke CNN’s Bernard Shaw — and haven’t seen more than an hour of it here and there since so I don’t know how that went, but I know how it went.

I don’t know how it went in Afghanistan and Iraq, with the wedding and the bombs and whatever other violence they suffered. I don’t know what they have by way of newspapers or what the penetration of television is. The Newseum in Washington, D.C., has a daily roundup of the front pages of more than 400 US newspapers (more than 800 worldwide) every day, but none from Iraq and only one from Afghanistan. All but a very few US papers have a Boston story today — I didn’t look at all of them but I only noticed two that didn’t. Many of the overseas papers do too. The one paper listed for Afghanistan, the Mideast edition of Stars and Stripes, doesn’t.

The US is responsible for much of the violence in Iraq and Afghanistan. I don’t think Americans collectively are responsible; certainly some thousands of people should be in chains, and of course everyone who did their killings and kidnappings and whatever counter to the rules upon which the people who don’t go to war have settled. I don’t know what could have been done short of throwing some tens of millions of bodies upon the gears, in Mario Savio’s formulation; that is, climbing into the intakes of the engines on the troop and equipment transports, blocking the meetings of Congress, and otherwise physically impinging upon the ability of the concern to do business.

I guess that’s what we should have done, but that’s blood over the dam now. What I wonder, though, is how many Americans will wonder now what it’s like to live through a bomb at the marathon or the market or the church, or the missile attacks that may or may not be errant, every week or two or three, and whether if they get a sense of it then they might stoop to recklessness to stop the next reckless US government. Or whether we would just get used to it.

*This turns out to have been this, an 11-year-old London Daily Mail story that somehow burbled up in the feed.

The good wars: Libya metastasizes and Afghanistan has a cobra snake for a necktie

The invasion of Afghanistan and the overthrow of Libya’s Qaddafi are supposed by liberal interventionists to have been good wars. Most of them have by now had their fill of Afghanistan and want out, but getting out is likely to be a nightmare. The Libyan adventure is still quite popular, when it is remembered, but is well on the way to becoming a classic case study in blowback. A recent story in Foreign Affairs magazine, the house organ of the Council on Foreign Relations, named some of the harsh consequences of the war for nearby countries and Libya herself.

First, there are the weapons: The neighborhood, especially Algeria, Mauritania, and Niger, was always uneasy about Libya’s civil war. Many feared that it would pry the lid off Tripoli’s sizeable weapons cache and lead to the dispersal of arms across the region. It turns out that they were right to be worried. Then, there is the money: Locating Libya’s financial assets after the war has been another complicated matter. Members of Qaddafi’s inner circle who know where the money is stashed are missing or unidentifiable. Basically, billions of dollars might wind up in the hands of individuals who could use the cash to sponsor terrorism or otherwise destabilize Libya. And finally, there are the refugees: Tens of thousands of Africans, no longer welcome in Libya, returned home this year. Besides the fact that many of them are ripe for jihadi infiltration, they will further strain the region’s weak economies. Already, food security is becoming a major issue and famine looms.

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“The Kipling is strong with this one …”

It’s like an epidemic. First there was David Atkins, representing from the mean streets of Santa Barbara for the liberal fans of violent empire, and now Max Boot, Dean of the Kipling School for Foreign Policy in the 21st Century, has popped his head up to chitter angrily at opponents of US military intervention in Syria.

Max Boot … I love Max Boot. He’s got the perfect imperialist name and, unlike Atkins, has both self-awareness and balls enough to proudly quote from “The White Man’s Burden” in one of his essays—America’s Destiny Is to Police the World, published in the Financial Times a few weeks before the invasion of Iraq. But more than that, he penned the single best line ever written in support of American imperialism in a piece, The Case for American Empire, that appeared in the Weekly Standard a few weeks post-911. Stand back and let it shine, o my brothers …

Afghanistan and other troubled lands today cry out for the sort of enlightened foreign administration once provided by self-confident Englishmen in jodhpurs and pith helmets.

You could make a career out of deconstructing that. It’s glorious.

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Blogs on Parade: “They’re Wrong About Everything” edition

I have been lazy about referring the two of you to other blogs. I keep forgetting that it’s perfectly legitimate in this business to just quote stuff and then say I wrote something, which makes me feel better about not having written anything. Here are some things that people I like have found other people to be fantastically wrong about.

Jack Crow on the threat to traditional marriage:

If you’re looking for what degrades or corrupts the, heh, marriage bond, you ain’t ever going to find it the affections and affectations of homosexuals. But, you will find a whole lot of sundered wedded union in the wake of deployment, military industrial centralization and the austerity which follows war upon war. That shit is disruptive. The gays, not so much.

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The IMF wants me, plus, Iraq Who?

The latest scam spam in my inbox is a letter from a high-ranking official of the International Monetary Fund telling me to deal only with him in recovering my money from Nigeria. What is it with Nigeria?

Okay, so the war in Iraq is over, according to Obama. This is because the Iraqis rejected his energetic pleas to let him keep some troops in the country—”Okay, not 30,000. How about 10,000? 5? 3500? Okay, fine, we’re leaving, but don’t blame me if we have to come back in with guns a-blazing …”—rather than observing the exit plan humorously agreed upon by the Bush administration.

But even with that we’re not leaving, not if you count the 16,000-strong crowd manning the murder holes in the State Department’s gigantic downtown Baghdad bunker. By way of comparison, that’s almost as many people as staff every other US embassy in the world combined, minus Afghanistan.
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The case for invading Iraq: Mitt Romney’s foreign policy team is on it

If you were to set out building a fantasy Bad Foreign Policy team, one that could reliably saddle you with the most foul, murderous foreign policy disasters imaginable, the place you would want to start is here, at the Project for a New American Century (PNAC). That’s what the Bush administration did, staffing their foreign policy and national security establishments with signatories to the now-dormant organization’s statement of principles.
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Today, we are all cheese-eating surrender monkeys

The New York Times editorial board chooses the not-quite-successful-yet six-month effort to kill Muammar Gaddafi or chase him out of Libya as an occasion to scold our NATO friends; Barack Obama runs recent history in Iraq and Afghanistan through the scrubber; David Ignatius gives Tom Friedman a run for the money.

In an editorial entitled “NATO’s Teachable Moment“, the Times editors decry the degree to which the UK and France had to rely on the US to fill gaps in the NATO supply of munitions and accessories such as AWACs (Airborne Warning And Control System) aircraft during the six-month campaign against Libya. It is evidence, they say, that those countries are overly and unfairly reliant on the US war machine.

They also resurrect former US secretary of war Bob Gates’s hilarious warning that NATO countries “risked becoming militarily irrelevant unless they stepped up investment in their forces and equipment.”

To Gates and the editorial board, that’s a shameful future. But I ask you: could there possibly be any more cheerful fate in this day and age than to become militarily irrelevant?
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