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Total number of comments: 60 (since 2013-11-28 15:36:05)

Don Bacon

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  • American Weapons, provided to Syrian rebels, fall into Hands of al-Qaeda
    • The US spawned al-Qaeda and still supports it. The US has a huge military presence in Qatar, and just down the street in Doha is a giant mosque which is al-Qaeda headquarters, with the despotic Qatar amir being AQ's chief financial supporter. Of course Qatar as an al-Qaeda "safe haven" never comes up as it has in Afghanistan, being the main excuse for endless war there, because of the Persian Gulf political situation, and because the has relied on AQ in other places like Libya and Syria.

  • Unlike Iraq, Iran, Libya, N. Korea, Israel has Impunity from Defying UNSC (Gaza Ceasefire)
    • Not to distract from Israel's behavior, but also in Ukraine another US ally gets away with murder. UNSC Resolution S/RES/2166(2014):

      "The Security Council...Demands that all military activities, including by armed groups, be immediately ceased in the immediate area surrounding the crash site to allow for security and safety of the international investigation."

      Australian and Dutch investigators have been unable to get through to the MH17 crash site in eastern Ukraine for the third day running as fighting continues in the rebel-held region.

      Ukrainian troops “had entered into” the towns of Shakhtarsk and Torez and “battles were continuing for the complete liberation” of the towns of Pervomaysk and Snizhne, the press office for the Ukraine military operation against the insurgents said.

  • Israel's Gaza Campaign Endangers US Security: Why Obama & Kerry are Furious
  • Bush Trifecta lands on Obama: Gaza, Iraq and Afghanistan Imploding
    • The myth that Obama opposed the Iraq War never dies. Actually Obama, along with H. Clinton, supported every war spending bill while he was in the senate. Prior to entering the senate, when he didn't have any national authority, Obama might have remarked that he was against the war. But that isn't really "opposing" it either, is it, compared to those of us who marched as early as December 2002.

  • New Congressional Sanctions on Iran Will Backfire . . . on Congress
  • Gatesgate: Why Obama was right to Distrust his Generals on Afghanistan
    • On generals, Obama should have hearted Truman and not Reagan.

      "It's the fellows who go to West Point and are trained to think they're gods in uniform that I plan to take apart".--Harry S Truman

    • Obama did not oppose the Iraq War. Upon arriving in the Senate, Sen. Obama supported every funding bill for Iraq, some $300 billion, until he started running for President. [2005 Vote # 117, HR1268, 5/10/05; 2005 Vote # 326, S1042, 11/15/05; 2006 Vote # 112, HR4939, 5/4/06; 2006 Vote # 239; 2006 Vote # 186, S2766, 6/22/06; HR5631, 9/7/06]

      Obama also, in the Senate, teamed up with Hillary Clinton to pass a bill expanding the size of US ground forces.

      As president, Obama tried NOT to leave Iraq, but Iraq refused to allow US military troops to stay.

  • How the US Government Betrayed the Constitution and invented an Imaginary Fascist One
    • The idea that the US Constitution is a compendium of our rights is wrong and destructive. That document constitutes the government and prohibits it from denying some basic rights. We have many more rights that are inherent, God-given as it says in the Declaration of Independence.

      As Justice Roberts has said, there is no right to abortion in the Constitution, and he's correct. There is also no right to breathe or have sex, or pop pills for that matter.

      Founding Fathers: Neither Hamilton nor Madison originally wanted the Constitution to include a Bill of Rights, because they were concerned that any specific enumeration of rights might open the door to legal sophistries that could override an intuitive appeal to natural rights, and reduce the guarantee of rights to a set of narrow technicalities, meaningless in practice and understood only by lawyers. When Madison saw that the sentiment in favor of a Bill of Rights had become so overwhelming that it could not be forestalled, he insisted on writing it himself, and incorporating the Ninth and Tenth Amendments as a precaution against the adoption of narrow technical interpretations.

      The Declaration of Independence, 1776, recognizes that people have certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. So the government is betraying not only the Constitution in some cases but more importantly our inherent rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. The government, or any government, doesn't determine our rights, not mine anyhow.

  • When Syria was a US Ally (or at Least Helpful)
    • It is worth remembering the times in modern history when Syria was cooperative with the US

      Similar to Libya, also attacked by U.S.
      Remarks by Ambassador Gene A. Cretz
      at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
      Friday, June 4, 2010 (excerpts)

      "The United States and Libya have just embarked on the second year of fully renewed diplomatic relations – including the first exchange of Ambassadors in 36 years. In previous speeches, I have made – and will continue to make – the case that continued engagement with Libya is in our long-term national interest. . .Today, Libya remains a strong ally in countering terrorism in a volatile region. . ."

      Which then changed to..
      Clinton on Qaddafi: "We came, we saw, he died."

  • All Hell Breaks Loose in Libya
    • This was all predicted by those of us against this illegal aggression by the West upon Libya. I guess it didn't come up at Power's recent hearing that she was a primary supporter of yet another US foreign policy mistake.

  • Obama: "Trayvon Martin could have been me 35 years ago"
    • Untrue story. You made it up. There is no foundation for the claim that Zimmerman assaulted Martin, including no marks on Martin except the bullet path. Martin sucker-punched Zimmerman, whose nose was broken, and then furthered the assault, which is why he was shot dead.

    • Obama could have been Martin, straddling Zimmerman on the ground, and beating Z's head into a concrete sidewalk? That's interesting.

      Also, stand your ground was not an element of this case. It was self defense, because of the above.

  • Top Ten American Steps toward a Police State
    • Do they have border patrol checkpoints on interior highways in Michigan, complete with armed thugs, cameras and dogs? They do in my area.

  • Iran candidates all "Loyal Servants of Dictator": Kadivar
  • Why Obama doesn't want to intervene in Syria
    • Everyone always forgets that if foreigners bomb a hated regime’s installations and accidentally thereby kill large numbers of innocent civilians, the dead civilians show up on the front page and everyone turns against the foreign air force. NATO only avoided this outcome in Libya by staying mostly away from the cities.

      Message for U.S. Citizens - Explosions Outside of French Embassy
      April 23, 2013
      Embassy of the United States of America
      Tripoli, Libya
      We advise all U.S. citizens in Libya to remain cautious and recommend postponing all travel within the country.
      link to libya.usembassy.gov

  • How the Pentagon Helped Make Afghanistan the Most Corrupt Country on Earth (Hiro)
    • Afghanistan GDP - now ten times what it was prior to the US assault
      2001 $2B
      2002 $4
      2003 $5
      2004 $5
      2005 $6
      2007 $9
      2008 $11
      2009 $12
      2010 $16
      2011 $19

      And it'll sink back, hurting a lot of people

  • Despite Offer of Direct Talks, U.S. Intensifies Economic War Against Iran (Democracy Now!)
    • “The Obama administration is ratcheting up . . . the White House announced a new. . ."

      I believe the increased sanctions resulted from a law passed by the Congress and signed by the president at the last legal opportunity. The U.S. still has some semblance of democracy, and (thanks to expert propaganda) the people acting through their representatives want to stick it to those dastardly dangerous Iranians.

  • Ahmadinejad: US must Cease Militarily Targetting Iran before Direct Negotiations
    • "[Iran's] nuclear enrichment program is for two purposes, to provide the deterrent of latency, and for the same reason that Japan suggested nuclear reactors to Saudi Arabia– to preserve its petroleum as an export commodity rather than using it itself."

      But you're equating nuclear enrichment with nuclear reactors. Iran wants both enrichment and reactors, Saudi Arabia seeks only the latter. The U.S. objects to enrichment not reactors.

  • Top Five Objections to the White House's Drone Killing Memo
  • UN to look into US Drone Program, but the Biggest Victim is Democracy
  • Top Ten Republican Myths on Benghazi that Justify Hillary Clinton's Anger
    • Also Clinton contradicted herself.

      "With all due respect, the fact is we had four dead Americans. Was it because of a protest or was it because of guys out for a walk one night decided they'd go kill some Americans?"

      Her fists shaking, she continued: "What difference, at this point, does it make? It is our job to figure out what happened and do everything we can to prevent it from ever happening again, senator."

      First it was "What difference does it make [how it happened]" and immediately thereafter "It is our job to figure out what happened."

    • Hours before US Ambassador Christopher Stevens died in a terrorist attack in Libya, he sent Secretary of State Hillary Clinton a cable warning that local militias were threatening to take away security officers guarding the US diplomats.

      Why was Stevens in Benghazi?
      * he served as a key contact with the Saudis to coordinate the recruitment by Saudi Arabia of Islamic fighters from North Africa and Libya.
      * a meeting with the Turkish ambassador
      * he "must get out and meet with a variety of individuals especially in countries that have multiple centers of energy or power."
      * to arrange a shipment: "A Libyan ship carrying the largest consignment of weapons for Syria since the uprising began has docked in Turkey and most of its cargo is making its way to rebels on the front lines" -- Sep 14
      or, from Obama-
      * to review plans to establish a new cultural center and modernize a hospital. haha

  • The Rise of the Sunnis and the Decline of Iran, Iraq and Hizbullah: The Middle East in 2013
    • "2013 will see Iranian influence in the Middle East continue a decline that began with the Arab upheavals of 2011."

      But is any loss of Iranian influence in the Levant a problem? Your penultimate sentence sentence provides the answer for readers who read that far and aren't over-awed by the scary headline with its 'decline in Iranian influence.'

      Iran is far from Israel/Palestine and has limited clients in that region. If it is forced out of the Levant, it will lose a talking point in domestic elections at most.

      Actually Iran never did have much influence in the Middle East except in Lebanon and Palestine, and they were charity cases for Iran. Iran's future is to its north and east, not its west. That's where the economic growth is, and Iran will have a piece of it.

      Iran excels at diplomacy - it has to - and it is using its strength to extend its influence with Central and South Asia, particularly India which wants Iran as a corridor to Central Asia and even Europe.

      Iran has the energy that Asia needs. It exports oil, gas and electricity and has found new energy sources. Plus, regarding contiguous states, Iran does have Iraq and probably the new Afghanistan as allies, Turkey still wants Iran energy, Turkmenistan is an ally, Russia isn't far away and Pakistan badly needs Iran gas.

  • Top 10 Ways the Middle East Changed, 2012
    • It's interesting how Israel and Bahrain have governments and Iran and Syria have regimes. I guess that's academic freedom.

  • Benghazi's Deep Throat fingers Islamist Leaders for Attacks as State Dept Criticized on Consular Security
    • Any human being who was unlucky enough to be detained at Gitmo would be a risk, as they weren't inclined to forgive and forget their false imprisonment and the determination that they were a "probable AQ member."

      Then bin Qumu was used by Stevens, who may have had a torture history when he was DCM. We don't know what happened between Stevens and bin Qumu after that. Stevens wasn't a total choir-boy, I imagine.

      Many or most of the Gitmo prisoners, who were treated worse than animals, were arbitrarily selected with no evidence. Some were simply a victim of tribal bounties. The US wanted bodies, that's all. They were "functionally innocent" w/o the "functionally."

    • Two wikileaks wires showing involvement of Sufyan Ben Qumu and Chris Stevens, DCM in Tripoli

      wikileaks: O 131650Z DEC 07
      FM AMEMBASSY TRIPOLI
      SUBJECT: LIBYA: FOLLOW-UP ON ACCESS TO RETURNED GTMO DETAINEES

      ". . .acknowledged to DCM and P/E Chief the GOL's commitment to provide Embassy access to returned Guantanamo Bay detainees.. . . Dr. Sawani characterized access to the returned detainees as "a straightforward matter" and said he was "sure" visits with al-Rimi and Hamouda could be quickly arranged. ." ."

      wikileaks: O 030917Z JAN 08
      FM AMEMBASSY TRIPOLI
      SUBJECT: LIBYA: FAMILY VISIT FOR RETURNED GTMO DETAINEE CONFIRMED

      "...Ben Qumu Abu Sufian Ibrahim Ahmed Hamouda. . .claimed to have not had a family visit. . . A/DCM spoke with . . .counterpart Muhammad Tarnish January 2 . .[Hamouda's] physical condition and spirits as "very good"

    • " Sufyan Ben Qumu, from the notoriously radical town of Derna, and a former prisoner at Guantanamo"

      For more than five years, Abu Sufian Ibrahim Ahmed Hamuda bin Qumu was a prisoner at the Guantánamo Bay prison, judged “a probable member of Al Qaeda” by the analysts there. They concluded in a newly disclosed 2005 assessment that his release would represent a “medium to high risk, as he is likely to pose a threat to the U.S., its interests and allies.”

      Nevertheless, Hamouda bin Qumu was returned to Libya in 2007, where Chris Stevens helped him get settled in. Stevens was DCM (Deputy Chief of Mission) from 2007 to 2009. There are two wikileaks wires mentioning Stevens' help for bin Qumu.

      In March 2011 Christopher Stevens attended a meeting in Paris between Clinton, Sarkozy and Jabril, set up by Bernard-Henri Lévy. Stevens was among those who urged Clinton to describe to President Obama the call for help that he had just heard. From March 2011 to November 2011 Stevens was Special Representative to the National Transitional Council in Benghazi.

      During this time, Abu Sufian Ibrahim Ahmed Hamuda bin Qumu was a notable figure in the Libyan rebels’ fight to oust Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi. bin Qumu was a leader of a ragtag band of fighters known as the Darnah Brigade -- a remarkable turnabout resulting from shifting American policies.

  • Morsi's Second Coup Provokes Mass Protest in Egypt
  • Blaming Gen. Petraeus for the Wrong Mistakes: Remembering Afghanistan (Cook)
    • also:
      *insurgency, DOD — An organized movement aimed at the overthrow of a constituted government through use of subversion and armed conflict.

    • “counterinsurgency” — i.e. winning hearts and minds throughout the country = a false description by Cook

      *counterinsurgency, DOD — Those military, paramilitary, political, economic, psychological, and
      civic actions taken by a government to defeat insurgency. Also called COIN.

      FM 3-24 - COIN
      Legitimacy Is the Main Objective
      1-113. The primary objective of any COIN operation is to foster development of effective governance by a legitimate government.

      Logic 101: You can't have a counterinsurgency without an insurgency. Neither Iraq nor Afghanistan was an insurgency, a revolt against an established government. Instead they were resistances against brutal US military occupations and their puppet governments.

  • Republicans Tip world off to covert CIA Role in Libya
    • "the Benghazi consulate "

      There is no US consulate in Benghazi, which is why State didn't care about security and why State tried to avoid responsibility. It was a CIA operation with about two dozen agents. (Ineffective in intelligence, of course.) Why should State provide security for CIA? Besides, the Agency likes to keep a low profile.

      The US does not have an embassy, a consulate or a diplomatic mission in Benghazi. There are none listed on this State Department list of all the US embassies and consulates in the world.
      link to usembassy.gov

      On September 12, 2012, SecState Clinton made two statements. She never used the word “consulate.”To describe the place that was attacked in Benghazi she used instead the words ‘U.S. diplomatic post, compound, our buildings and our office.’
      link to state.gov
      link to state.gov

      There is (and was) no US consulate in Benghazi. No consul. No consular officials. No commercial officers. No diplomats of any kind. No consulate. It was a CIA operation with two dozen agents which the US has euphemistically called a "mission." Gives it a religious flavor. Chris Stevens was in this dangerous, volatile city in eastern Libya to coordinate CIA arms shipments to Turkey. His last official act in Benghazi was a dinner meeting with the Turkish ambassador.

      Stevens was also probably using his past knowledge of Libyan militias -- he managed them for the US from Benghazi in 2011 -- to coordinate drone strikes in eastern Libya. There were several reported (by CNN) against an al Qaeda training camp in the Derna area in June.

      The real story here is the Benghazi-Turkey arms & people connection and drone strikes that motivated Ambassador Stevens to be in Benghazi rather than in Tripoli where he was needed for necessary diplomatic functions.

  • The Shameful Politicization of the Benghazi Consulate Attack
    • Oh, I forgot to mention -- why did Stevens supposedly go to Benghazi?

      In Obama's UNGA speech he said that Ambassador Stevens "traveled to Benghazi to review plans to establish a new cultural center and modernize a hospital."

      Sure, Barry.

    • Excellent question.

      In early September Stevens went on a trip to Stuttgart (AFRICOM probably) and the to a friend's wedding in Sweden, and then to Vienna. Vienna?? UN offices there, and probably lots of spooks.

      When he came back to Tripoli there was a new President and Prime Minister, trying to form a government. But Stevens decided not to participate in those important activities. Instead he went to volatile Eastern Libya to stay five days at the old insecure house, then a CIA haven, where he spent six months last year assisting jihadists to overthrow the Libya government. (They include the militia accused of attacking the Americans in Benghazi.) The CIA was presumably in Benghazi, currently, to track down missing weapons.

      While Stevens was in Benghazi the ship Intisaar´(victory), with 400 tons of cargo which included ´SAM-7 surface-to air anti aircraft missiles and rocket-propelled grenades (RPG`s), sailed from Benghazi to Iskenderun, Hatay province, Turkey, a stone's throw from Syria. (I guess they found the weapons.)

      Stevens' last official function the evening of 9/11 was a discussion with the Turkish ambassador. How interesting that the US ambassador to Libya would have a discussion in Benghazi with the Turkish ambassador to Libya. How very interesting.

      So who was Stevens? State or CIA?

    • "the Benghazi consulate"

      There is no US consulate in Benghazi, which is why State didn't care about security and why State tried to avoid responsibility. It was a CIA operation with a dozen agents. (Ineffective, of course.) Why should State provide security for CIA? Besides, the Agency likes to keep a low profile.

      The US does not have an embassy, a consulate or a diplomatic mission in Benghazi. There are none listed on this State Department list of all the US embassies and consulates in the world.
      link to usembassy.gov

      On September 12, 2012, SecState Clinton made two statements. She never used the word “consulate.”To describe the place that was attacked in Benghazi she used instead the words ‘U.S. diplomatic post, compound, our buildings and our office.’
      link to state.gov
      link to state.gov

      There is (and was) no US consulate in Benghazi. No consul. No consular officials. No commercial officers. No diplomats of any kind. No consulate. It was CIA.

      That's why the stupid congressmen reacted negatively yesterday, during their hearing, to satellite photos of the facilities in Benghazi (they'd already been televised).

      Why did State take the fall for CIA incompetence? I guess I would too if faced with the probable alternative.

  • Romney and the Syrian Dilemma
    • "It is in fact a source of shame to our major world institutions that they are allowing a government to use military weapons against its own civilian population."

      I guess that means that you're not a COIN fan. Counterinsurgency doesn't work for you. There goes some great US military history, into the bin.

  • Obama Plays Hardball and Egypt's Morsi Folds
    • This isn't just an Obama-Morsi thing -- there are other people involved, like the citizens of Egypt. Morsi is MB and there are anti-blasphemy considerations. In a larger sense, the U.S. is not popular with the citizens of Egypt, nor in Muslim countries in general. Morsi, again, has to re responsive to the will of his people, of course he does.

      According to a recent Pew global poll, only 15 percent of people in Muslim countries have a favorable view of the U.S. and it's tending downward. Favorable ratings are 48% in Lebanon, Tunisia 45%, Egypt 19%, Turkey 15%, Jordan 12%, Pakistan 12%.

      Regarding drone strikes, disapproval is:
      Tunisia 72%, Turkey 81%, Egypt 89%, Jordan 85%.
      link to pewglobal.org

  • The West Will Have to Compromise on Syria (Schmidt)
    • "In Libya, Gaddafi was so isolated in his own country that the Libyans were able to defeat him militarily with a little help from the West."

      A little help? How about the 30,000 bombs dropped, which certainly caused casualties equivalent to the hyped unsubstantiated number of 20,000 in Syria.

  • Tutu Slams Tony Blair for Illegal Iraq War, boycotts Leadership Conference
    • I guess that Archbishop Tutu wouldn't be too happy if Senator Kerry would become the next US Secretary of State.

      CNN, August 10, 2004
      Kerry stands by 'yes' vote on Iraq war
      Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry said Monday he would not have changed his vote to authorize the war against Iraq, but said he would have handled things "very differently" from President Bush.

      Bush's campaign has challenged Kerry to give a yes-or-no answer about whether he stood by the October 2002 vote which gave Bush authority to use military force against Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein.

      The question of going to war in Iraq has become a major issue on the campaign trail, especially in light of the fact that no weapons of mass destruction have been found there.

  • Plot to Provoke war with Iran thwarted by Navy analyst
    • "without telling them" doesn't equate to " unbeknownst."

    • This is the same time that Admiral William "Fox" Fallon was Commander, US Central Command (covering the Middle East). Fallon would have been aware of Cosgriff's activities in his area and would have helped to stymie them, I believe.

      wiki--In an Al-Jazeera broadcast on September 30, 2007, Admiral Fallon criticized those publicly urging war, stating "This constant drum beat of conflict is what strikes me which is not helpful and not useful. [...] I expect that there will be no war and that is what we ought to be working for."
      On March 11, 2008, he announced his resignation from CENTCOM and retirement from active duty, citing administrative complications caused in part by an article in Esquire Magazine, which described him as the only thing standing between the Bush Administration and war with Iran.

  • Top Ten differences between White Terrorists and Others
  • Iran, UNSC talks have the effect of Averting War
    • Good diary.
      Regarding Parchin (reports):
      # explosive chamber installed 2000
      # used 2003?
      # two IAEA visits 2005

      Iran is playing the US like a fish. Benefits? They got Iraq as an ally, Afghanistan is next.

  • Top 5 Dangers that the Syria Conflict could Destabilize its Neighbors
    • (Reuters) - Syria says a year-long revolt to topple President Bashar al-Assad is now over, but it will keep its forces in cities to "maintain security" until it is safe to withdraw in line with a U.N.-backed peace deal.

  • Divided Arab League Won't Call for al-Assad to Step Down
  • US Public Wants out of Afghanistan as 3 Western Troops Killed by Afghan Troops
    • @JTMcPhee
      "the Bales murders?"
      Jumping the gun, aren't we?
      Or do you always believe the government.

    • General Allen says that the troops just have to expect to be shot by the US ally.

      Mar 26, 2012
      DOD News Briefing with Gen. Allen from the Pentagon

      General Allen on green-on-blue: " we should expect that this will occur"
      Q: General, going back to green -- to the green-on-blue incidents, Secretary Panetta has suggested in his comments recently that this -- we're not seeing -- we're not going to see the end of these and that this is part of the price of war. Would you agree with that?

      GEN. ALLEN: I think it is a characteristic of counterinsurgencies that we've experienced before. We experienced these in Iraq. We experienced them in Vietnam. And on any occasion where you're dealing with an insurgency and where you're also growing an indigenous force which ultimately will be the principal opposition to that insurgency, the enemy's going to do all that they can to disrupt both the counterinsurgency operations, but also disrupt the integrity of the indigenous forces that developed. So we should be -- we should expect that this will occur in counterinsurgency operations and as we saw it in Iraq and we've seen it in -- historically in counterinsurgencies, but also in Vietnam. It is a characteristic of this kind of warfare.
      link to defense.gov

  • Western Intelligence Analysts Worry that Iran Sanctions are Hurting West: IRGC
  • The Arab Revolutions Continue, its Just not Mostly on American TV
    • Don't forget Saudi Arabia.

      Mar 24, 2012
      (Ahlul Bayt News Agency) - Thousands of Saudi protesters have staged a fresh anti-government demonstration in the eastern city of Qatif despite a violent crackdown on protests in the oil-rich region.

      Mar 24, 2012
      Saudi Arabia says wanted Shiite, 3 security men wounded
      Reuters
      LONDON: A fugitive member of Saudi Arabia’s Shiite Muslim minority and three members of a security patrol were wounded in a gunfight late Thursday, the Saudi Interior Ministry said Friday. The shooting in Awamiya follows repeated anti-government protests and clashes with security forces in the area, part of the Eastern Province’s Qatif district, over the past year.

      Mar 22, 2012
      As protests across the Middle East have gotten headlines - from Egypt to Yemen, Tunisia to Syria - unrest in Saudi Arabia, though on a much smaller scale, has attracted much less attention. That changed earlier this month, when dozens of students at King Khaled University in the south of the country were injured as they protested conditions at the school.

      Feb 22, 2012
      DUBAI — Shiite Muslim dignitaries in predominantly Sunni Saudi Arabia denounced on Wednesday the use of violence by authorities in dealing with protests in the mostly Shiite east of the country. A statement signed by 41 people criticised using the "language of arms against peaceful demonstrations" and called for a "serious investigation" into the violence, which has killed seven people since November.

      Feb 12, 2012
      US Embassy Msg: Exercise Caution in the Eastern Province
      The U.S. Consulate General in Dhahran continues to advise U.S. citizens living in, or considering travel to, Qatif, Awamiya, Safwa and Saihat in the Eastern Province, to exercise caution and be aware of the potential for protests that sometimes result in violence. At least two persons have reportedly been killed and a number of others injured in the last several days following confrontations between demonstrators and government security forces in the city of Qatif.

  • Why don't we have better Reporting on the Afghanistan Army? It is our Best Hope for Getting Out
    • There's been some good reporting from Gareth Porter: "Contrary to the official portrayal of the Afghan National Army (ANA) as ethnically balanced, the latest data from United States sources reveal that the Tajik minority now accounts for far more ANA troops than the Pashtuns, the country's largest ethnic group."

      Joshua Partlow: "At least one in seven Afghan soldiers walked off the job during the first six months of this year, a worsening trend at a time when Afghan and U.S. officials are trying to shift the burden of fighting the Taliban to Afghan security forces."

      Ray Rivera: "As the deadline looms for the withdrawal of most foreign forces in 2014, the need to enlist more southern Pashtuns is pressing if Afghanistan is to have a national army that resembles the ethnic and geographic makeup of the country."

      CJ Chivers: "While the American soldiers organized and coordinated their part of the battle on the outpost here, the Afghan soldiers did not participate. Some simply sat and watched."

      and even the Pentagon!
      The recent Oct 2011 DOD “Report on Progress Toward Security and Stability in Afghanistan” brags on the ANA’s vast size, 170,00 troops. How did it grow so large so fast? The report tells us:
      “The ANA has grown dramatically over the past two years and the majority of this force was fielded without receiving any professional training at the branch schools.”
      "The ANSF [army & police] continues to require enabling support, including air (both transport and close air support), logistics, ISR, and medical, from coalition resources to perform at the level necessary to produce the security effects required for Transition."

      They’ve had no professional training! I guess that’s why their exploits go unreported and why Amlaqullah Patyani, in charge of all Afghan army training, recently said: “We have no clue how to operate the weapons that NATO gives us.”

      The ANA is not a competent, complete military force! So it can't operate on its own.
      link to defense.gov

  • Al-Sadr Threatens Mahdi Army Revival if US Troops Stay
    • The above discussion on "troops" v. "forces" is an inevitable result of the executive agreement for withdrawal which doesn't exist as an English U.S. official document, to my knowledge. The translation that I have (above) says "forces."

    • Links for the two Iraq agreements (translations):

      * Withdrawal of Forces agreement: "All the United States Forces shall withdraw from all Iraqi territory no later than December 31, 2011.*
      link to media.mcclatchydc.com

      * Strategic Framework Agreement: "the Parties shall continue to foster close cooperation concerning defense and security arrangements without prejudice to Iraqi sovereignty over its land, sea, and air territory."
      link to globalsecurity.org

    • There is no Iraq Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA). According to the DOD Dictionary, a status-of-forces agreement (SOFA) is an agreement that defines the legal position of a visiting military force deployed in the territory of a friendly state. It does not deal with overall bilateral relationships. That’s what a treaty is for.

      There is no treaty either. The agreements between the US and Iraq regarding US military presence were purposely not treated as a treaty. In the US they were treated as an executive agreement — SOFA was a convenient term — so as to avoid senate advice and consent in accordance with the US Constitution. The Repubs and the Dems were complicit in this subterfuge in the fall of 2008, Obama and Biden being the lead Dems at this time. (The process on the Iraq side was more open.)

      Bush didn’t want to mess with the senate, and the Dems were looking forward to being in the position they are presently in, where a new executive agreement is so much easier than going back to the senate for a new treaty. It’s another indicator as if one were needed of the commonality of executive privilege in the two political parties.

      There aren’t even any US documents. What we have are translations of Iraqi documents.

      On November 26, 2007, President Bush and Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki co-signed the Declaration of Principles for a Long-Term Relationship of Cooperation and Friendship Between the Republic of Iraq and the United States of America.

      There are two agreements:
      * a Withdrawal of Forces Agreement: “All the United States Forces shall withdraw from all Iraqi territory no later than December 31, 2011.
      * a Strategic Framework Agreement: “the Parties shall continue to foster close cooperation concerning defense and security arrangements without prejudice to Iraqi sovereignty over its land, sea, and air territory.”

      The U.S. wants to alter the withdrawal agreement.

  • Fareed Zakaria Destroys Beck on Lunatic Islamophobia
    • Zakaria made a good start and even suggested (but didn't state) that Glenn Beck by his own defintion might be a terrorist. But one is left with the main idea that really, only Muslims can be terrorists. There aren't as many of them as Beck suggests, but still all terrorists are Muslims.

      Zakaria doesn't mention the terror that the US exerts daily in various countries. Terror, it is apparent, is only an act performed by non-Americans. Not as many Muslims are involved as Glenn Beck states, but nevertheless it is only a Muslim activity.

      But isn't the US a principal terror perpertrator? And don't these US terror acts then result un what Zakaria calls "11,000 terror attacks" as depicted by the US State Dept.? Aren't these "11,000 terror attacks" the logical blowback to US terrorism?

      The US State Dept. definition of terrorism is:
      "terrorism” is defined to be an activity that (1) involves a violent act or an act dangerous to human life, property, or infrastructure; and (2) appears to be intended to intimidate or coerce a civilian population; to influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion; or to affect the conduct of a government by mass destruction, assassination, kidnapping, or hostage-taking.
      link to state.gov

      So this was simply more back-door US propaganda against Muslims. The US is right, Muslims (and Beck) are wrong, according to Zakaria.

  • Could Wikileaks leave Iraq without a Government?
    • Interesting. The Iraqi PM is implicated in "running death squads."

      Too bad he's not an American -- US leaders are never implicated in activities which are orders of magnitude worse than any death squads, like "running death armies."(TM)

  • Iraqi Military Acts Swiftly to Avert Minibus Bombing at Rusafa HQ
    • I guess that those sniping skills are hard for Iraqis to acquire. It might take a few more years and a few billion dollars. On the other hand, I wouldn't be surprised if some contract personnel could do it, like soon. All because those darn Iraqis just can't snipe. I wonder what else they can't do? After all, US national security is at stake here, which is nothing to snipe at.

  • The Speech President Obama Should Give about the Iraq War (But Won't)
    • Professor, thank you for mentioning the UN Charter. When I was a kid in elementary school, after WWII, there were blue flags in my school and the UN meant something. People had worked hard to provide an international framework for solving international problems peacefully. Now that has been largely lost (except for you) . The Iraq debates, whether to attack that country or not, never considered the UN Charter. Neither did Afghanistan, nor Iran for the last half dozen years.

      So the UN Charter means nothing to the US warmongers. For all intents and purposes it has seemingly (and wrongly) gone the way of the League of Nations, into the dustbin of history. Thanks again for mentioning it.

  • Taliban influence Spreading in Afghanistan
    • The current quagmire involving a hundred thousand US troops in an already doomed enterprise was entered into eyes-wide-open by our brilliant president.

      Last fall President Obama conducted a review of the Afghanistan mess, based on an August 31 report from General McChrystal. The report included these statements:

      "Pakistan's insurgency is clearly supported from Pakistan. Senior leaders of the major Afghan insurgent groups are based in Pakistan, are linked with al Qaeda and other violent extremist groups, and are reportedly aided by some elements of Pakistan's ISI." (p. 2-10)

      "Indian political and economic influence is increasing in Afghanistan, including significant development efforts and financial investment. In addition, the current Afhan government is perceived by Islamabad to be pro-India." P. 2-11)
      link to media.washingtonpost.com

      What did President Obama do upon receiving this information? First, he sent a letter to the president of Pakistan.

      News report: President Obama warned in a letter to Pakistani president Asif Ali Zardari that the US would no longer put up with the contacts.

      Next President Obama announced a new (his second) Afghanistan strategy, "a new way forward".

      Remarks by the President in Address to the Nation on the Way Forward in Afghanistan and Pakistan, December 1, 2009
      THE PRESIDENT: "Good evening. To the United States Corps of Cadets, to the men and women of our Armed Services, and to my fellow Americans: I want to speak to you tonight about our effort in Afghanistan -- the nature of our commitment there, the scope of our interests, and the strategy that my administration will pursue to bring this war to a successful conclusion.

      "I insisted on a thorough review of our strategy. . .This review is now complete. And as Commander-in-Chief, I have determined that it is in our vital national interest to send an additional 30,000 U.S. troops to Afghanistan.

      "We will meet these objectives in three ways. First, we will pursue a military strategy that will break the Taliban's momentum and increase Afghanistan's capacity over the next 18 months. . .

      "Second, we will work with our partners, the United Nations, and the Afghan people to pursue a more effective civilian strategy,. . .

      "Third, we will act with the full recognition that our success in Afghanistan is inextricably linked to our partnership with Pakistan. . ."(end of speech extract)

      The US has a continuing partnership with a country behind the killing of Americans!

      That speech was delivered in Eisenhower Hall Theater, United States Military Academy at West Point, West Point, New York, on December 1, 2009 to American young men and women some of whom are (or soon will be) in Afghanistan being exposed to death and injury by people aided by a country that Obama has partnered with, Pakistan, all the while Obama knowing that Pakistan was assisting fighters that are killing Americans.

      That has been confirmed by wikileaks and that's treasonous.

  • Russia: Missiles not Covered by UN Weapons Ban on Iran
  • Cameron Plans changed by RPG Threat;
    Taliban Resurge in Helmand
    • "Secretary of Defense Robert Gates said on Thursday that he wanted to see substantial progress by the end of this year or he would have to rethink the counter-insurgency campaign."

      Come on, professor, is there any doubt that Gates will see substantial progress?

      There already has been "substantial progress."
      Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Michele Flournoy:
      “I believe we are achieving success,” she said. “We are on the right road for the first time in a long time in Afghanistan. I would argue for the first time, we finally have the right mission, the right strategy, the right leadership team in place.” --congressional testimony, May 6, 2010

  • "This Scares Everybody" says BP:
    Top Kill Fails, Imperils Gulf;
    "There are no Solar Spills"
    • Seventeen nations have offered assistance — but “the final decision is up to BP” to accept it, according to the State Department

      Adm. Thad Allen, Incident Commander: “To push BP out of the way, it would raise the question, to replace them with what?” [White House briefing, 5/24/10]

      TITLE 33 > CHAPTER 26 > SUBCHAPTER III
      § 1321. Oil and hazardous substance liability

      (c) Federal removal authority
      (1) General removal requirement
      (A) The President shall, in accordance with the National Contingency Plan and any appropriate Area Contingency Plan, ensure effective and immediate removal of a discharge, and mitigation or prevention of a substantial threat of a discharge, of oil or a hazardous substance—
      (i) into or on the navigable waters;
      (ii) on the adjoining shorelines to the navigable waters;
      (iii) into or on the waters of the exclusive economic zone; or
      (iv) that may affect natural resources belonging to, appertaining to, or under the exclusive management authority of the United States.
      (B) In carrying out this paragraph, the President may—
      (i) remove or arrange for the removal of a discharge, and mitigate or prevent a substantial threat of a discharge, at any time;
      (ii) direct or monitor all Federal, State, and private actions to remove a discharge; and
      (iii) remove and, if necessary, destroy a vessel discharging, or threatening to discharge, by whatever means are available.

      Obama has the authority (of course) to direct or monitor all Federal, State, and private actions to remove a discharge, but he's married to BP.

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