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Iraq Withdrawal? Don’t Take it to the Bank August 17, 2011

Posted by rogerhollander in Iraq and Afghanistan, War.
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// ]]>Roger’s note: If you believe in Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny, then feel free to go ahead and believe in Obama’s promise to bring all US troops home from Iraq by the end of the year.  After all the investment in the largest embassy in the history of the world, a slew of military bases, and all that OIL, there is no way that the Pentagon will allow their puppet Obama to keep that promise.  And for Obama, what is one more broken election promise? And don’t forget that a US pull out from Iraq will cause massive unemployment for all those poor Halliburton and other mercenary contractors.
opednews.com, August 16, 2011

Since coming to Washington, Barack Obama has won a Nobel Prize for Peace, but he hasn’t been much of a peacemaker. Instead, he has doubled down on his predecessor’s wars while launching blatantly illegal ones of his own. But, as his supporters would be quick to point out, at least he’s standing by his pledge to bring the troops home from Iraq.

Right?

That’s certainly what America’s latest war president has been saying. Speaking to supporters this month, he was unequivocal . “If somebody asks about the war [in Iraq] . . . you have a pretty simple answer, which is all our folks are going to be out of there by the end of the year.”

Obama’s statement was a welcome reaffirmation of what he promised on the campaign trail. “If we have not gotten our troops out by the time I am President, it is the first thing I will do,” he thundered in the fall of 2007.  “I will get our troops home. We will bring an end to this war. You can take that to the bank.”

But don’t count on cashing that check. The Washington Post brings the unsurprising news that Iraqi leaders have agreed to begin talks with the U.S. on allowing the foreign military occupation of their country to continue beyond this year — re-branded, naturally, as a mission of “training” and “support.” The move comes after an increasingly public campaign by top White House and military officials to pressure Iraqi leaders into tearing up the Status of Forces Agreement they signed with the Bush administration, which mandates the removal of all foreign troops by the end of 2011.

As with any relationship, saying goodbye is always the hardest part for an empire. The U.S. political establishment has long desired a foothold in the Middle East from which it could exert influence over the trade of the region’s natural resources. Remember, Iraq has lots of oil, as those who launched the invasion of the country in 2003 were all too aware . They aren’t too keen on giving that up.

And as is to be expected when one maintains the most powerful — and expensive — military in world history, there are strong institutional pressures within the Pentagon for maintaining the status quo. Peace may be good for children and other living things, but it’s boring for generals — especially politically ambitious ones — and bad for bomb manufacturers.

The longer U.S. troops stay in Iraq and ensure that country’s fidelity to U.S. policy, the more weapons the Iraqi government will buy from American companies. Indeed, Prime Minister Maliki just announced that Iraq would buy 38 F-16 fighters, taking billions of dollars away from food and shelter for poor Iraqis while boosting Lockheed Martin’s war chest. Add in the fact that Iraq is situated right next to Iran, the one oil-rich country in the region opposed to U.S. hegemony, and you’ve got a good recipe for indefinite occupation.

Of course, if Obama was as committed to withdrawing “all troops from Iraq” as he claims, all he would need to do is stick by the Bush-era agreement for troops to leave by December 31. Doing so would not only provide him cover from claims he is surrendering to the terrorists — hey, a Republican negotiated the deal — but it would fulfill a key campaign pledge and help soothe liberal anger over his escalation of Afghanistan and his illegal war in Libya.

Obama has no plans for a full withdrawal, though, as his hand-picked appointees make clear. You can almost hear him thinking: What are liberals going to do, vote Republican?

Echoing the top military brass, former Defense Secretary Robert Gates first noted earlier this year supposed Iraqi “interest in having a continuing presence” in Iraq. His successor, Leon Panetta, then told senators during his June confirmation hearing that he had “every confidence” the Iraqi government would ask for such a U.S. presence beyond 2011.

Like clockwork, Iraqi leaders are set to ask for just that, with The Washington Post reporting that Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and his allies have decided any request to extend the U.S. occupation will “not require signing a new accord.” That means no messy parliamentary battles or referendums, where the popular anti-American sentiment would surface.

Ah, democracy.

The Obama administration is prepared to keep about 10,000 troops in Iraq, and their “non-combat” tasks could include training, air defense, intelligence, reconnaissance and joint counter-terrorism missions. These are the same sort of operations that have left at least 56 U.S. soldiers dead since Obama announced the end of U.S. combat operations last August.

One thing is certain: U.S. officials who once claimed to be bringing democracy to Iraq couldn’t be more thrilled at the subversion of it. Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of Joint Chiefs of Staff, alluded to that in a comment remarking on the Iraqis’ recent decision to open talks with the U.S. on an extended, rebranded occupation. “There are some very difficult political challenges, internal challenges associated with reaching this decision,” he noted, said “challenges” being the fact that the people the occupation is ostensibly being extended to protect don’t actually want the “protection” the U.S. government is offering.

Mullen added that a final agreement must include “guarantees of legal immunity for American forces.” Obviously, we wouldn’t want any ungrateful Iraqis to prosecute U.S. soldiers if they kill civilians while engaging in “non-combat” duties.

Here at home, opinion polls have for years shown that two-thirds of Americans oppose the war in Iraq. Opposition to a continued presence has also been building in Congress, always the most lagging indicator. On July 22, Congresswoman Barbara Lee and 94 other representatives sent a letter to President Obama urging him to bring all U.S. troops and military contractors home by the end of this year and she is introducing a bill that would cut off funding.

As for the Iraqi opinion, anti-U.S. cleric and politician Moqtada al-Sadr put out a statement on August 3 saying that any foreign solider remaining in his country after 2011 would “be treated as an unjust invader and should be opposed with military resistance.” We’ll mark him down as a “no thanks.” According to Al-Iraqiya TV, meanwhile, 2.5 million of al-Sadr’s compatriot s have signed a petition calling for U.S. troops to get out.

“We want them to leave, even before the end of this year,” Youseff Ahmad, a tribal sheik from the Iraqi town of Al Rufait, recently told one reporter . “They’ve destroyed us. They’ve only brought killing and disaster.” Ahmad spoke after having just witnessed U.S. troops’ “training” and “support” mission in action, the consequence of which was “a shootout involving bullets, grenades and American Apache helicopters that left the tribal Sheik and two others dead, and several wounded, including two young girls.”

Even top members of the Iraqi government are saying no thanks, even if their more powerful colleagues are toeing the U.S. line. On Sunday, Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi said that a continued American military presence in Iraq would be “a problem, not a solution,” adding that training could be done by other countries at a cheaper price.

American officials acknowledge that al-Hashemi is speaking for the bulk of his fellow countrymen, with U.S. diplomats telling The New York Times that their own polling shows a “majority of Iraqis have a negative view of the American role in Iraq.”

No wonder Nouri al-Maliki and his thuggish cronies, fearful their power to torture and suppress political opponents will evaporate without U.S. support, aren’t willing to let average Iraqis have a say in their country’s future. The question is: will Americans, who support a complete withdrawal and want to bring the war dollars home , ever get a say in the future of their country? Tell President Obama to stick to his promises and bring the troops home.

Www.globalexchange.org

U.S. Threat to Atom Bomb North Korea Never Forgotten May 27, 2009

Posted by rogerhollander in Foreign Policy, History, North/South Korea, War.
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Jay Janson

www.opednews.com, May 27, 2009

North Korea again in the news.

Ominously, President Obama has promised “action” after denouncing North Korea’s underground nuclear explosion on May 26th. This follows Obama’s recent successful call for increased UN sanctions after North Korea’s space rocket launch – which apparently sent the wrong message with counterproductive effect – that is, unless Obama wanted North Korea to feel threatened. 

Scary, because it should be of frighteningly serious concern that yet another nation comes to have nuclear weapon technology that could possibly be transferred to, or fall in the hands of terrorists seeking homicidal vengeance for the America,s predatory hegemony over the poorer and vulnerable nations of the world.

Where is this new diplomacy of open communication with enemy nations the electorate was promised and commercial media keeps announcing?

Shall we not best ponder whether the North Korean insistence that its tests of weaponry are intended  enhance its defensive strength in the face of US threats could be based on its perception of reality.

On November 30, 1950, President Truman at a press conference, remarked that the use of the atomic bomb was under active consideration. Koreans heard this as menacingly foreboding apocalypse, for U.S. forces were in retreat and had suffered some serious losses subsequent to China sending ‘volunteer’ forces to help the North Koreans defend as U.S. forces neared the Chinese border some 45 days earlier.

Originally, the civil war had been over, the North having won quickly and easily when the U.S. invaded, subsequently punishing Korea with millions of casualties.

North Korea was bombed to rubble by the U.S. which also leveled almost every town in South Korea to prevent the overthrow of the U.S. sponsored Rhee dictatorship (Rhee was forced to flee the country a few years after the war anyway).

The period immediately before the war was marked by escalating border conflicts at the 38th Parallel and attempts to negotiate elections for the entirety of Korea. The years befpre had seen rebellions in the South, one occasioning a terrible massacre of 30,000 on Cheju Island far off the southern tip of South Korea, under U.S. occupation.  Koreans, both North and South, are well aware of this turbulent history that predates the North’s successful invasion

Not many years ago, the president of a civilian government in South
Korea apologized to its people for the massacres that happened there even years after the U.S. ‘police action’ was over.

The Clinton administration expressed regret to Koreans for the massacres of civilians by U.S. troops, which South Koreans were finally permitted to talk about.

But no American president has seen fit to apologize for similar massacres which occurred as the US conquered North Korea.  The United States apologizing to an announced ‘enemy’ in today’s climate of empire would be unheard of, especially within conglomerate owned war promoting media.  After all, whatever damage done to an designated enemy must be advantageous. Our United States is not about to apologize for what we did to Korea or any other country even before it was designated an enemy. President Wilson signed on to the Japanese occupation of Korea and Truman’s divided Korea in two, once the Japanese surrendered.

Heartlessly, most political leaders in the world dominating industrialized nations insist that the death a couple of million Koreans was worth preventing a unified Korea under communist government. Communist Russia eventually evaporated, and communist, in name only, China and Vietnam are now welcomed trading partners. A permitted communist Korea might have just as likely evolved into an acceptable near capitalist society as well.

North Koreans have the memory of the most brutal of bombings, protracted war, the U.S.  invasion which included UN documented massacres, the further devastation incurred in expelling the U.S. Army and Navy with the aid of the Chinese, plus threats of atomic bombing and terrifying cautions and warnings  of U.S. bacteriological warfare.

North Koreans, have also experienced terrible suffering during the postwar rebuilding of their scorched land while under duress of strict U.S. sanctions. Progressives in the West attribute some of the responsibility for the severity of the government in the North, and the lack of freedom of its people, to the effects of the merciless and vindictive foreign policy of the U.S., which has kept tens of thousands of troops near its border all these years, while decrying the North’s massive buildup of its military.

 Of course all this is justified in U.S. commercial media with an American shrug of the shoulders and, ‘The North attacked the South first,’ and the North was a communist dictatorship.  It still is, but a lot more intense about the strength of its military.

Russia and China are for finding a solution in the six party negotiations. Obama is again for increasing punishment, while  certainly knowing that this is merely heating up the confrontation between the  massive American Empire and a diminutive, by comparison, North  Korea, once pulverized by U.S. air power.

Seems like candidate Obama’s promise of talking to one’s ‘enemies’ is being replaced by threats and punishments, rather openly in the case of North Korea,  and Iran, while setting stern preconditions for lifting the economic blockade on Cuba.

North Korea is going to a lot of expense to acquire nuclear capability. Is it possible that America has fueled this paranoid impulse with its past threat to nuke North Korea, and its subsequent efforts to isolate and vilify its government as Evil.

Note: For further background on North Korea’s perhaps understandable fears or dangerous paranoia see articles below:
   
More than 100,000 massacred by allies during Korean War, Telegraph Co.,UK, by Richard Spencer in Seoul, 29 Dec 2008
“More than 100,000 South Korean civilians were massacred by allied troops fighting alongside Britain and the US in the Korean War, an official investigation has revealed.

Obama Calls on U.N. to Punish North Korea Over Rocket, but WHO PUNISHES THE U.S.?  April 6, 2009, OpEdNews
Commercial media feeding frenzy on the space missile launch by North Korea at the same time whipping up fear of Iran. Obama has harsh words for North Korea, as earlier for Afghanistan, Pakistan, Venezuela and Iran, which received a kind invite to talk mixed in with such severe public criticism as to make the invitation unacceptable. So far, Obama, both as president and as commander-in-chief belies change to serious diplomacy.

April 17, 2009, OpEdNew

On the Need for Truth and Reconciliation Commissions in America

“In 2005, in keeping with its maturation as a constitutional democracy, the South Korean National Assembly established a Truth and Reconciliation Commission to seek to “reveal the truth behind civilian massacres during the Korean War and human rights abuses during the [South Korean] authoritarian period and recent evidence of U.S. and South Korean responsibility for the massacre of civilians before and during the Korean War.”

Feb. 27, 2008, OpEdNews
NY Phil Plays in a Korea Once Destroyed by U.S. Invasion, Flattened by U.S. Bombers
“Beautiful telecast. Koreans interviewed spoke of avowed resolve to protect their country,they knew Americans were their enemies, spoke softly, politely, with calm pleasant countenance. Americans can go on thinking they were good guys doing good. But they might like to remember that ‘good’ was done in Korea, to Koreans, all of whom were not in agreement that it was for their own good. Picasso’s Cheju Massacre Painting sobering”

CODEPINK Calls Obama’s Announcement of Timetable, Residual Troops in Iraq a ‘Broken Promise’ February 27, 2009

Posted by rogerhollander in Iraq and Afghanistan, Peace, War.
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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 27, 2009
4:12 PM
CONTACT: CODEPINK

Medea Benjamin, CODEPINK co-founder, 415-235-6517
Jean Stevens, CODEPINK media coordinator, 508-769-2138

Americans must continue to push for change

WASHINGTON – February 27 – CODEPINK Women for Peace is disheartened by President Obama’s announcement this morning for troop withdrawal by Aug. 2010, later than his campaign promise, leaving residual troops until December 2011.

Americans voted for Obama largely based on his opposition to the war since its start, and his promise to end the occupation in 2009.

“While the move toward withdrawal is positive, this timeline and leaving tens of thousands of residual troops sounds more like occupation-lite than an end to occupation,” said Medea Benjamin, co-founder of CODEPINK. “But compared to the past eight years of moving backward, at least there’s an atmosphere now where we can continue to apply pressure on the administration to push forward.”

CODEPINK women call on Obama and his administration to immediately withdraw all U.S. troops, including residual forces from Iraq. Instead, the U.S. government should increase efforts in diplomacy, humanitarian aid and refugee resettlement. Continued troop presence will only encourage more armed opposition within Iraq and will not force the Iraqi government and Iraqi factions to negotiate power. In addition, with the continued presence of U.S. troops, the international community will doubt the U.S. commitment to withdrawal and will wait to invest in diplomatic and reconstruction efforts.

“Up to 50,000 troops is a big number to leave behind,” said Dana Balicki, CODEPINK campaign coordinator. “And there hasn’t been any word on military bases left in Iraq that will continue to drain billions of dollars from U.S. taxpayers at a time where that money is very much needed at home. But the withdrawal, and a timeline, is a baby step forward from past policies. As citizens, it’s our job to move Obama to take giant strides.”

For interviews and more information, please call Jean Stevens, national media coordinator, at 508-769-2138 or Medea Benjamin, CODEPINK co-founder, at 415-235-6517.

###

CODEPINK is a women-initiated grassroots peace and social justice movement working to end the war in Iraq, stop new wars, and redirect our resources into healthcare, education and other life-affirming activities. CODEPINK rejects the Bush administration’s fear-based politics that justify violence, and instead calls for policies based on compassion, kindness and a commitment to international law. With an emphasis on joy and humor, CODEPINK women and men seek to activate, amplify and inspire a community of peacemakers through creative campaigns and a commitment to non-violence.

CODEPINK Links: HomepageCODEPINK (Press Center)CODEPINNK (Action Center)

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