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Stuff Happens: The Pentagon's Argument of Last Resort on Iraq
By Tom Engelhardt | TomDispatch.com
It's the ultimate argument, the final bastion against withdrawal, and over these last years, the Bush administration has made sure it would have plenty of heft. Ironically, its strength lies in the fact that it has nothing to do with the vicissitudes of Iraqi politics, the relative power of Shiites or Sunnis, the influence of Iran, or even the riptides of war. It really doesn't matter what Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki or oppositional cleric Muqtada al-Sadr think about it. In fact, it's an argument that has nothing to do with Iraq and everything to do with us, with the American way of war (and life), which makes it almost unassailable.
US President George W Bush believes the Iraq war has been successful and is "very pleased" with what is happening there, he said in a pre-recorded interview broadcast on a Japanese television network on Sunday.
"I think the decision to remove Saddam Hussein was right," Bush told the Sunday Project program of the private Asahi network.
Saddam was an enemy of the United States and a lot of people thought he had weapons of mass destruction, Bush said, adding "remarkable" progress had been made in Iraq since the late dictator was toppled in 2003.
"People have been able to take their troops out of Iraq because Iraq is becoming successful. I'm very pleased with what is taking place there now," he said, adding there still is "a lot of work" to be done.
BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Iraq will not seek to extend the U.N. mandate of U.S. troops and they will pull out immediately if Iraqi parliament fails to approve a pact allowing them to stay until 2011, Iraq's prime minister said on Sunday.
by Linda Milazzo
In an effort to establish peaceful diplomacy with the government and people of Iran, and to model for the new Obama administration the power of cooperative good will, three highly regarded American peace makers have ventured to Iran. CODEPINK cofounders, Jodie Evans and Medea Benjamin, along with former Army Colonel and decorated Foreign Service Diplomat Ann Wright, are visiting Iran on visas coordinated by the Fellowship Of Reconciliation, which similarly organized the September 24th meeting in New York City between civilian leaders of the American peace movement and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
In that historic citizen diplomacy gathering, Iranian President Ahmadinejad met with approximately 120 representatives from American peace and social justice organizations, where over the course of two hours, he took unfiltered questions from the groups. The question from the women of Codepink, who travel extensively on missions of peace, addressed why the organization's founders were repeatedly denied visas to Iran. Ahmadinejad promised to remedy the situation and provide the women their visas. Thanks to the efforts of the Fellowship of Reconciliation, working in consort with the government of Iran, visas to Iran were issued on Monday to Benjamin, Evans and Wright. Seventy-two hours later, these intrepid citizen diplomats were packed and on their way.
I caught up with Evans yesterday on her stop-over in Frankfurt and asked her to explain the intent of her mission. She replied:
"We're traveling to Iran to strengthen our connections with as many groups as possible in the areas of government, culture, education, women and, of course, peace. We've come to deepen our work as citizen diplomats to model the type of diplomacy we HOPE to see from our new government."
The US media present SOFA as nearly a done deal, opposed by only a minority of Sadrists in the parliament. You don't hear about the protests of over a million people in our mainstream news against the proposed Status of Forces Agreement in Iraq. These photos never quite make it to the front page (or any other) of our "free press."
Iraq's defense minister on Saturday warned of the dangers of withdrawing U.S. forces before the end of 2011, a date set with Washington in a security pact opposed by some lawmakers.
Defense Minister General Abdel Qader Jassim said withdrawing before that date would threaten Iraq's oil exports, enable neighboring countries to encroach on Iraqi territory and give free reign to foreign spies.
"The period of the timetabled withdrawal gives us enough time to complete our abilities -- training, combat and technical -- and secures us great support," Jassim told a news conference in Baghdad.
By Aws Qusay and Khalid al-Ansary, Reuters
BAGHDAD - Followers of Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr marched on Friday against a pact letting U.S. forces stay in Iraq until 2011, toppling an effigy of President George W. Bush where U.S. troops once tore down a statue of Saddam Hussein.
Thousands of demonstrators chanted and waved Iraqi flags in Baghdad's Firdos square, where U.S. forces pulled down a statue of the ousted Iraqi dictator when they took the city in 2003.
The pact, approved by both governments and now being debated rancorously in the Iraqi parliament, requires U.S. troops to leave the streets of Iraqi towns by the middle of next year and to leave the country by December 31, 2011.
U.S. forces will need Iraqi warrants to arrest people, and U.S. contractors will be subjected to Iraqi law.
Nearly 100,000 hand-fired clay figures, representing lives lost in the Iraq war, will be the backdrop on Friday for an Iraq Moratorium action in the California community of Aptos, near Santa Cruz.
The display is the work of artist Kathleen Crocetti, a high school art teacher, who told the San Jose Mercury News:
"I'm doing this to help people visualize the number of people killed in the Iraq war. We need a physical connection to that number. I thought we went into the war under false pretenses, and I can't sanction pre-emptive war. I feel such shame and sadness in my name as an American," she said. "I feel responsible for the pain and grief because of this war."
The 4,000-plus small white clay figures, each holding a U.S. flag, represent dead American service members. The 92,000 dark clay figures, behind the Americans like a shadow, represent Iraqis. She uses the number from Iraq Body Count, which includes documented civilian deaths. It is a very conservative number; others estimate the count could be as high as a million.
Contractors in Iraq could face charges in earlier incidents
By Nancy A. Youssef | McClatchy Newspapers
Private security contractors operating in Iraq could face Iraqi prosecution for acts committed when they supposedly had immunity from Iraqi law, U.S. officials said Thursday.
A new U.S.-Iraq security agreement doesn't specifically prevent Iraqi officials from bringing criminal charges retroactively in cases such as the September 2007 shooting deaths of 17 Iraqi civilians by contractors protecting a State Department convoy, officials told security company officials during meetings in Washington Thursday.
The news caught company officials by surprise.
Unofficial Translation of U.S. - Iraq Troop Agreement from the Arabic Text
By McClatchy Newspapers | McClatchy Newspapers | Submitted by Michael Munk | www.MichaelMunk.com
Translated from the Arabic by Sahar Issa, Jenan Hussein and Hussein Kadhim of the McClatchy Baghdad Bureau.
An Agreement between the Republic of Iraq and the United States of America regarding the Withdrawal of the American Forces from Iraq and Regulating their Activities During their Temporary Presence in it
Based on a letter that will be sent from the President of the United States to the Prime Minister of Iraq, the United States will remain committed to helping Iraq in regard to the demand it submitted to the Security Council to extend the protection and other arrangements regarding petroleum, petroleum products and natural gas produced in Iraq and the resources and commitments that stem from these sales and the Development Fund of Iraq, these are the arrangements defined in the two resolutions of the Security Council (1483)(2003) and (1546)(2003).
National Archives Building Occupied Again by Veterans for Peace
by Mike Ferner
At one point a Boy Scout troop came by and one of the vets on the ground crew smiled and said, "You boys can get your democracy badge here if you check this out." The scoutmaster, visibly unhappy with the display said, "Well, the troops sure aren't going to like this." "We are the troops," the vet responded.
"I could see your banners three blocks away," the young man said excitedly. "And since I knew they were hanging on the Archives building, I wondered if it might be some kind of free speech exhibit so I had to come over and see."
The National Archives Building does indeed house originals of the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights which specifically guarantees freedom of speech. But this was no Archives-sponsored exhibit. It was the real thing.
By Adam Ashton, McClatchy Newspapers
BAGHDAD - Iraqi and American leaders say that a new security pact will have all U.S. forces and military contractors out of Iraq by 2012, but 14th Ramadan Street is skeptical.
"Americans won't leave," said Mazin Ali, 30, a coach driver. "They are the decision makers in all Iraq. The decision is theirs."
He and others on 14th Ramadan Street, a commercial strip in Baghdad's Mansour district, see too many signs of a long-term American commitment to believe that the U.S. will withdraw on the timetable in the so-called status of forces agreement.
"It is not reasonable, because even if it was true and they would commit to the dates, there are great big loopholes," said Khalid Muhsin Abid, 57, pointing to the sprawling new, nearly $600 million U.S. Embassy compound on the Tigris River as evidence that the U.S. will stay.
Iraqi leaders, however, say that the agreement will end the U.S. occupation of their country that began in March 2003.
From American Freedom Campaign Action Fund
Does this sound right to you?
Next week, the Iraqi Parliament is expected to vote on whether to approve an agreement setting the terms of the ongoing military relationship between the United States and Iraq. So far, so good. A legislative body, representing the people of a nation, shall determine the extent to which that nation's future will be intertwined with that of another.
Of course, one would expect that the United States Congress would be given the same opportunity. That, however, is not the case. Or at least it is not what the Bush administration is allowing to happen. Shockingly, the Bush administration is not even letting Congress read the full agreement before it is signed!
We need you to send a message immediately to U.S. House and Senate leaders, urging them to demand the constitutional input and approval to which they are entitled.
By Robin Long, prisoner of conscience | November 6, 2008
Dear President-elect Obama,
My name is Robin Long. I am currently serving a 15-month sentence at a Naval brig in California. I am locked up for refusing to participate in the invasion of the sovereign nation of Iraq, a military action I felt was wrong and an action condemned by most of the international community.
It was illegal and immoral.
19 year-old Army private Tony Anderson was court martialed Monday and sentenced to 14 months of confinement and given a dishonorable discharge from the military for "desertion with intent to avoid hazardous duty" and "disobeying a lawful order." The young soldier refused to deploy to Iraq in July of this year on the grounds of conscientious objection to war.
"I know in my heart that it is wrong to willfully hurt or kill another human being. I simply cannot do it. I don't regret following my conscience," he said at his trial as he struggled to compose himself. "I know there must be consequences for my actions and I must accept this fact."
Donate to Tony's defense here. For the next two weeks, you can write to him at: Tony Anderson / El Paso County Sheriff's Office / 2739 E. Las Vegas / Colorado Springs, CO 80906
by Amitai Etzioni, Huffington Post
My original timetable called for President Obama to retire Admiral Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (the highest ranking uniformed military commander) on Jan 20 at 12:01 pm -- as quickly as possible after the new president took his oath of office. I then considered that one must first find a suitable replacement. President Obama should make it clear that he will not tolerate military officers publicly denouncing his policies, not to mention undermining an agreement the United States and the Iraqi government just worked out of after agonizing negotiations.
Washington D.C. (November 20, 2008) – Congressman Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) today made the following statement regarding the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) that provides a legal framework for the U.S. military presence in Iraq until 2011:
“The Status of Forces Agreement ensures that our service men and women will remain in harm’s way until 2011.
“To date Congress has appropriated approximately $657 billion for the war in Iraq, but expert analysis tells us that the real cost of funding this war will amount to $3 trillion. Yet dollar figures cannot begin to estimate the true cost of war, which includes the lives of the 4,201 of our honorable troops who have been killed in Iraq; the more than 30,000 of our troops that have been wounded; or the more than 1 million innocent Iraqi civilian lives that have been lost.
Here's a good article on the SOFA that claims members of Congress are insisting on their right to approve or reject treaties. The only member cited by name is Barbara Lee.
Here's a letter (PDF) that Lee, Woolsey, and Waters just sent to Pelosi on this.
Lee is joined by
Rep Baldwin, Tammy [WI-2] - 9/9/2008
Rep Carson, Andre [IN-7] - 9/9/2008
Rep Davis, Danny K. [IL-7] - 9/10/2008
Rep Filner, Bob [CA-51] - 9/9/2008
Rep Matsui, Doris O. [CA-5] - 9/9/2008
Rep McCarthy, Carolyn [NY-4] - 9/10/2008
Rep McDermott, Jim [WA-7] - 9/9/2008
Rep McGovern, James P. [MA-3] - 9/15/2008
Rep Moore, Gwen [WI-4] - 9/9/2008
Rep Payne, Donald M. [NJ-10] - 9/15/2008
Rep Schakowsky, Janice D. [IL-9] - 9/9/2008
Rep Waters, Maxine [CA-35] - 9/15/2008
Rep Woolsey, Lynn C. [CA-6] - 9/9/2008
in sponsoring H.R.6846 while Senator Joe Biden (is he still a senator?) is joined by
Sen Casey, Robert P., Jr. [PA] - 8/1/2008
Sen Hagel, Chuck [NE] - 8/1/2008
Sen Voinovich, George V. [OH] - 8/1/2008
Sen Webb, Jim [VA] - 8/1/2008
in sponsoring S.3433
It is the sense of Congress that--
(1) any agreement that sets forth the `broad parameters of the overall bilateral relationship [as between the United States and the Republic of Iraq] in every field,' particularly one that includes a security commitment or arrangement provided to the Republic of Iraq by the United States, would result in serious military, political, and economic obligations for the United States, and thus, consistent with past practice, should involve a joint decision by the executive and legislative branches; and
(2) a short-term extension of the mandate of the Multi-National Force in Iraq (currently provided by United Nations Security Council Resolution 1790 (2007)), would, in concert with Iraqi law, provide United States forces with the authorities, privileges, and immunities necessary for those forces to carry out their mission in Iraq.
By Gareth Porter, IPS
WASHINGTON, Nov 18 (IPS) - The text of the U.S.-Iraq Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) signed by U.S. Ambassador Ryan Crocker and Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari Monday closes the door to a further U.S. military presence beyond 2011 even more tightly than the previous draft and locks in a swift end to Iraqi dependence on the U.S. military that appears to be irreversible.
The agreement ends the George W. Bush administration's aspiration for a long-term military presence, aimed both at projecting power in the region from bases in Iraq and at maintaining that Iraqi military dependence on U.S. training, advice and support.
According to Helena Cobban, This is Raed Jarrar's English re-translation of the Arabic translation published by Al-Sabah in Baghdad.
Notice the title: "An agreement regarding the withdrawal of the U.S. forces from Iraq and regulating the U.S. activities during its temporary presence, between the United States and the Iraqi government."
"I believe setting a deadline for withdrawal would demoralize the Iraqi people, would encourage killers across the broader Middle East, and send a signal that America will not keep its commitments. Setting a deadline for withdrawal is setting a date for failure -- and that would be irresponsible."
One of Britain's most authoritative judicial figures last night delivered a blistering attack on the invasion of Iraq, describing it as a serious violation of international law, and accusing Britain and the US of acting like a "world vigilante".
Lord Bingham, in his first major speech since retiring as the senior law lord, rejected the then attorney general's defence of the 2003 invasion as fundamentally flawed.
By Nick Mottern and Bill Rau
When Iraqi imams sit down with prisoners at a US detention center in Iraq to discuss Islam, they are working for a subsidiary of Global Innovation (GI) Partners LLP, a California- and London-based private equity firm that claims to have “$2 billion in capital under management”.
GI Partners sells, among other things: base maintenance for US military forces in Iraq; psychiatric care in the United Kingdom; in-room television and movies for hotels; wine; movie production studios and pubs. GI Partners also manages hundreds of millions of dollars for California and Oregon public employees pension funds and, according to the GI Partners website, pension funds in the Netherlands and the Middle East.
Will the US government or the mainstream media finally acknowledgethe slaughter of Iraqis by the US military?
By Michael Schwartz
I recently received a set of questions from Le Monde Diplomatique reporter Kim Bredesen about the 2007 Project Censored story regarding 1,000,000 Iraqi deaths due to the U.S. invasion and war. The questions and answers are, I think, useful in framing both the untold story of the slaughter in Iraq and the failure of the U.S. media to report on its extend or on U.S. culpability for it.
I observed recently that your story on Iraqi deaths caused by US >> occupation became story no.1 in this year's listing by Project Censored. I wondered if I could ask you a few questions on e-mail regarding this issue?
Kim Bredesen, Le Monde diplomatiqe (Norway)
These are my questions.
1.Do you expect that the new administration under Barrack Obama will acknowledge the validity of the statistics concerning Iraqi deaths caused by the US occupation force?
By Michael Schwartz
A friend recently sent me a set of questions/propositions about the war in Iraq. The interchange summarizes my views about the current situation and how we got there.
Clinton started war against Iraq, not Bush as Democrats insist!
I think there is a good argument to be made that the policy that led to the war originated with Jimmy Carter. The Carter Doctrine, enunciated in response to the first oil crisis, said that the U.S. would use “any means necessary” including “military power” to maintain access to Middle East oil. To implement this, he established the Rapid Deployment Force (later renamed Centcom), the military command that is currently fighting the wars in both Iraq and Afghanistan.
By Agence France Presse
BAGHDAD - Followers of anti-American Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr were making a bid on Monday to kill a controversial Iraq-US military pact passed by the Iraqi cabinet by trying to block it in parliament.
The Sadrist movement has vigorously opposed the wide-ranging agreement, which would replace a UN mandate that expires at the end of the year and allow US forces to remain in the country until the end of 2011.
Ahmed Masaudi, spokesman for Sadr's 30-member parliamentary bloc, said the movement would submit a bill that would require a two-thirds majority for parliamentary approval, replacing the current requirement of a simple majority.
"(The current law) is contrary to the constitution and to the instructions from the Guide, Sistani, to obtain a national consensus on this agreement," Masaudi said on Sunday, referring to Grand Ayatollah Ali Husseini al-Sistani.
Here's the latest Iraq SOFA. Czech and Iraqi parliaments may both reject SOFAs while US Senate sleeps. We should have a No More SOFAs campaign, symbolized by a senator snoring on a sofa.
Dubya and Givemhellharry.
[NOTE: parliament is only the final hurdle (and a very high one) because the US Senate is lying facedown in the dirt with its eyes closed -- that goes for the treaties on "missile defense" with Czech Republic and elsewhere too. Somebody send the WSJ a copy of the US Constitution please. -- DS]
By Gina Chon, Wall Street Journal
After about nine months of intense negotiations, the Iraqi cabinet passed a security agreement Sunday that calls for U.S. troops to leave Iraq at the end of 2011. The next hurdle is in the Iraqi parliament, which will take up the pact Monday and is the final step in the approval process.
WHAT: Ann Wright and David Swanson speaking prior to screening of "Body of War," Phil Donahue's documentary about a veteran of the occupation of Iraq
WHERE: Starlight Cafe
511 5th ST.
Lynchburg, VA 24504
WHEN: 7 p.m., Wednesday, November 19, 2008
Copies of Wright's book, "DISSENT: Voices of Conscience: Government Insiders Speak Out Against the War in Iraq," will be available for purchase.
During the run-up to war in Iraq, Army Colonel (Ret.) and diplomat Ann Wright resigned her State Department post. She was one among dozens of government insiders and active-duty military personnel who leaked documents, spoke out, resigned, or refused to deploy in protest of government actions they felt were illegal. In "Dissent: Voices of Conscience," Ann Wright and Susan Dixon tell the stories of these men and women, who risked careers, reputations, and even freedom out of loyalty to the Constitution and the rule of law.
By xofferson, Docudharma
Having again elected a new Congress with a mandate to end the war, activists are determined to hold Congress accountable this time. The Raise Hell for Molly Ivins Campaign is urging contact with members of Congress, in their home offices, on the Third Friday of the month -- Iraq Moratorium day -- and has produced a video with Vietnam vet Ron Kovic to promote it. (That's next Friday, Nov. 21.)
United for Peace and Justice (UFPJ) is urging meetings with members of Congress in their home offices between now and Jan. 3, when they are seated. Says UFPJ: