Tag Archives: Iraq
Yes We Can (Hold Babies) – European Edition
Recently President Obama travelled to Europe, Turkey, and Iraq in a his first large-scale trip abroad that resulted in massive international relations coup. His trip featured 18 bilateral meetings with world leaders – two major speeches (Prague and Ankara) – hosted two town hall meetings (France and Turkey) – six news conferences with a total of 35 questions – and traveled approximately 10,000 miles. Obama’s trip was a PR triumph, while he began the slow process of rebuilding America’s relationship with our allies across the globe.
Some Post-Trip Diagnosis
From whitehouse.org: The White House posted a great gallery of photos from the trip. These photos are interesting in that they are not the usual photo op photos, eg Obama + Foreign Head of State + Flags. They depict various behind the scenes instances that would not usually be released to the public. Also, some badass Air Force One/Marine One photos.
From Salon: Our man Juan Cole shreds conservative punditry for their negative reaction to Obama’s trip. He compares the hysteria of the right to the insanity caused by War of the Worlds radio broadcast and describes the Republican sphere of commentary as:
The weeping and trembling of Sean Hannity, Karl Rove, Rush Limbaugh and William Kristol underlined once again that the right-wingers are playground crybabies who kick and scream and faint whenever they do not get their way.
Professor Cole then proceeds to tear down every part of Republican criticism and perfectly throws their arguments back in their faces. This piece is perfect evidence that the insane arguments made by the right are easily defeated one fact is used against them.
A new report says a half-built prison in Khan Bani Saad, Iraq, will probably never be used.
This CNN article details what Iraqi residents in the Diyala region nicknamed “the whale,” a $40 million high-security prison that will probably never hold a single inmate because construction is halted. The prison has been called theÂ biggest mistake in the US-led rebuilding of Iraq’s infrastructure, and it serves as a symbol for the botched reconstruction effeort-and the failure of the US to comprehensively address the massive problems the conflict in Iraq have caused. Stuart W. Bowen Jr., the special inspector general for Iraq reconstruction, whose oversight jurisdiction covers $50 billion in U.S. funds appropriated by Congress for Iraq, argues the unstable environment caused by ongoing sectarian violence makes effective rebuilding impossible-
The massive reconstruction initiative was marked by waste and failures caused by blinkered and disjointed pre-war planning — and was pursued amid deteriorating securityâ€¦This question underscores an overarching hard lesson from Iraq: Beware of pursuing large-scale reconstruction programs while significant conflict continues. (more…)
The Republic of Estonia announced they would withdrawl all 34 troops they currently have deployed in Iraq.
What is the “coalition of the willing” coming to?Â Estonia, why have you betrayed us!!!!!!!
Foreign Policy Magazine has an interesting article discussing the counterinsurgency model created under the leadership of General Petraeus, as well as an interview with the General. The article discusses the controversy of this new doctrine, as well as the importance for the United States to change strategies in Afghanistan.
The interview with General Petraeus is what I would like to focus on for this post though. It’s clear in the interview that General Petraeus has been listening to critics of the status quo, which is a very encouraging sign. He begins the interview with the following statement:
In looking at which lessons learned in Iraq might be applicable in Afghanistan, it is important to remember a key principle of counterinsurgency operations: Every case is unique. That is certainly true of Afghanistan (just as it was true, of course, in Iraq). While general concepts that proved important in Iraq may be applicable in Afghanistanâ€”concepts such as the importance of securing and serving the population and the necessity of living among the people to secure themâ€”the application of those â€˜big ideasâ€™ has to be adapted to Afghanistan. The â€˜operationalizationâ€™ will inevitably be different, as Afghanistan has a very different history and very different â€˜muscle memoryâ€™ in terms of central governance (or lack thereof). It also lacks the natural resources that Iraq has and is more rural. It has very different (and quite extreme) terrain and weather. And it has a smaller amount of educated human capital, due to higher rates of illiteracy, as well as substantial unemployment, an economy whose biggest cash export is illegal, and significant challenges of corruption. Finally, it lacks sufficient levels of basic services like electricity, drinking water, and educationâ€”though there has been progress in a number of these areas and many others since 2001.
One cannot adequately address the challenges in Afghanistan without adding Pakistan into the equation. In fact, those seeking to help Afghanistan and Pakistan need to widen the aperture even farther, to encompass at least the Central Asian states, India, Iran, and even China and Russia.
Yesterday, the response of this blog to the shoe-throwing incident was laughter. Today, it is time to evaluate how serious this incident truly is, and whether or not the journalist who threw the shoes, Muntader al-Zaidi, was right to throw them.
Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki called Mr. al-Zaidi’s action “a shameful savage act” and has demanded a public apology. The incident has embarassed him, so this response of outrage should be expected.
On the other hand, his brother, Maythem al-Zaidi, said that he was “proud of his brother- as all Iraqis would be.”
About 100 American and Iraqi lawyers have already offered their services free of charge, including Khalil al-Dulaymi, the guy who defended Saddam Hussein. When asked whether or not he would accept the services of Mr. al-Dulaymi, Maythem said, “Why not, we are all Iraqis.”
Throughout Iraq, many people are forming strong opinions about the incident. The New York Times documents these reactions quite well. Here are a few samples:
More than a year since the Sept 16 2007 killings of 17 Iraqis inÂ Nisoor Square five Blackwater guards surrendered themselves to federalÂ authoritiesÂ in Utah this morning. Â Soon after their surrender this morning each man was charged with 14 counts of manslaughter, 20 counts attempted manslaughter, and 1 count using an automatic weapon to commit a violent crime.Â (more…)
Barack Obama on Iraq and Afghanistan
-Barack Obama was against the War in Iraq from the very beginning. He was willing to take a bold political stance and buck the bipartisan conventional wisdom in Washington and 60% of the American people to oppose the war. Not only did he oppose it, but he opposed it for prescient reasons, warning of â€œan occupation of undetermined length, with undetermined costs, and undetermined consequencesâ€.
-In January 2007, Barack Obama introduced legislation that would responsibly end the war in Iraq, with a phased withdrawal of combat troops.
His plan for Iraq and Afghanistan:
-Barack Obama favors a timeline for withdrawal of combat troops from Iraq. This would begin immediately and would involve the removal of 1 to 2 brigades per month until all active combat troops were removed. This timeline would be responsible and would be based on conditions on the ground, in consultation with our military officials on the ground and the Iraqi government.
-Our current policy gives the Iraqi government a blank check for their current lack of action and political will. Only a strict timetable for withdrawal will create the necessary impetus for concessions and power-sharing within the Iraqi government. This will be accompanied with a surge in diplomacy led by the Obama administration to negotiate directly with Iraqâ€™s neighbors to create a stake for them in Iraqâ€™s future. It will also go along with the will of the Iraqi leaders and the Iraqi people.
-Withdrawal of troops from Iraq will allow us to focus on the war in Afghanistan, which has been neglected as part of an effort to engage in an unnecessary war in Iraq. The Taliban is resurgent within the country and al-Qaeda has been re-emerging to plot another attack. Our armed forces are already overstretched right now and we should be allocating these scarce resources on the place where it is needed the most.
Statistics to Know:
-The War in Iraq has cost $556, 126, 220, 837 as of 12:46 AM on September 22, 2008 and over 175 million just for Ann Arbor alone
-4148 US soldiers have died in Iraq and 587 have died in Afghanistan
-70% of Iraqis want us to leave, including the Prime Minister
â€œHere is the truth: fighting a war without end will not force the Iraqis to take responsibility for their own future. And fighting in a war without end will not make the American people safer.
So when I am Commander-in-Chief, I will set a new goal on day one: I will end this war. Not because politics compels it. Not because our troops cannot bear the burden- as heavy as it is. But because it is the right thing to do for our national security, and it will ultimately make us safer.â€
â€”Barack Obama, Clinton, Fayetteville, North Carolina, March 19, 2008
There’s no doubt in my mind that once these people are gone that we will be welcomed as liberators.”- John McCain 3/24/03-Hardball
^ Not on anyone’s Veep shortlist ^
Welcome to Monday, July 28th 2008… The weighty feeling of a Vice-Presidential selection is in the air… McCain met with his “inner-circle” yesterday and has no scheduled events today. Obama is meeting with top business leaders to talk economics.
From the Political Wire: Why we might have trouble keeping Michigan blue this November… It comes in the form of Mitt Romney. To refresh yourself on who Mitt Romney is you can go here, here, here, and here.
From The Huffington Post: A conversation between two HuffPo writers and Senator Carl Levin about how Obama’s trip will change the history of this campaign.
From Salon: THE BEST ARTICLE EVER – A rundown of all those artists writing songs about Obama. For a taste I direct you to this calypso beat entitled “Barack the Magnificent.” I will post the video after the jump.
From Politico: Why all those Latino voters we were so worried about at the end of the primary are now supporting Obama.
From the Detroit Free Press: Mr. Mayor, Enough! After shoving a police officer, being forced to take drug tests, and ordered to post bail – the editorial board at the Free Press says enough!
From Harvard Dems: A look at the true media bias against Barack Obama.
I just wanted to call attention to the differences between both candidates recent trips abroad.
John McCain traveled to Columbia and Mexico.
Barack Obama is traveling to Afghanistan, Iraq, Jordan, Israel, Palestine, Germany, France, and the United Kingdom.
John McCain spoke about free trade, trade, Columbia, open trade, trade agreements, trade that is free, trade, CAFTA, NAFTA, and DOHA…. all things that Americans hate and despise.
Barack Obama is spreading a message of strength, love, security, cooperation, and love.
John McCain’s trip is not going to be remembered…. at all. He basically left the country for a vacay with an unknown agenda or duration… the media, the American people, his campaign, and his dog barely even noticed he was gone.
Barack Obama’s trip is being thoroughly covered by the national media, which is only going to grow in intensity as all 3 network anchors cover his trip: Katie Couric is in Jordan on Tuesday, ABC’s Charles Gibson is in Israel on Wednesday and NBC’s Brian Williams is in Germany on Thursday.
If this was a Facebook album…
McCain’s album would be entitled “FrEe TrAdE BoNaNzA 08!”
Other great moments in white people arriving in South America… Cortes, Nazi war criminals, the CIA, and Pinochet (maybe not completely white, but still a massive douche). BTW – this is the only picture I could find of the trip.
First of all, I’ll join Nathaniel in calling attention to the massive, but forgotten story of Prime Minister al-Maliki’s endorsement of Sen. Obama’s Iraq plan. Like Nathaniel, it’s only in blogs and opinion journals that I find an admission of how earth-shaking this announcement is. This ought to be the one and only domestic story in any serious journalistic outlet. Instead, it’s easier to find Joe Lieberman’s Sharptonesque rhymes (“chose to lose” “retreat and defeat”) on CNN. Â If the US ignores (as it surely will under a President McCain) the expressed wishes of a democratic government that our troops end the occupation of their territory, the entire premise of the Iraq War will come tumbling down. We will prove that we have not created an independent democracy and that, regardless of our intentions at the war’s outset, we have instead devolved into old-fashioned imperialism and colonialism despite the Kiplingesque justifications we will doubtless hear. (more…)