Monday, May 25, 2015

A Krauthammer Diversion

I'm making a diversion from my in-depth summary of the C-51 hearings to deal with the latest propaganda attack from supporters of the GBWT.  This [extremely stupid] meme has been issuing from the orifices of several neo-cons but trying to read this particular version of it the other day has driven me to have to post a response.

Charles Krauthammer: "Ramadi defeat marks bottom for Obama's Middle East retreat"

So, apparently bad weather grounded the planes of the US anti-ISIS coalition and that left the inept Iraqi military alone against ISIS in the city of Ramadi. This resulted in a defeat for the Iraqi military who abandoned several types of armoured vehicles and heavy artillery. Krauthammer is going to try to pin this on Barack Obama, and take the opportunity to try to vindicate his hero, george dubya bush. Let's have a look at it, shall we?

Ramadi falls. The Iraqi army flees. The great 60-nation anti-Islamic State coalition so grandly proclaimed by the Obama administration is nowhere to be seen. Instead, it’s the defence minister of Iran who flies into Baghdad, an unsubtle demonstration of who’s in charge — while the U.S. air campaign proves futile and America’s alleged strategy for combating the Islamic State is in freefall.
Iran is Shiite. The majority of Iraqis are Shiites. There is a sectarian war between the Shiite and Sunni variants of the Islamic version of the religious delusion. Accusations about handing over Iraq to Iran predate the Obama administration. bush II overthrew the secular dictatorship of the (at least nominally) Sunni Saddam Hussein and dismantled his basically Sunni-based military and political structure. Elections based on one-person, one-vote would inevitably empower the Shiite majority against the Sunni and Kurdish minorities. Unemployment and exclusion meant that the majority of resistance to the US occupation came from the Sunni regions of Iraq. These are the parts of Iraq that happen to border Syria, engulfed in a civil war between the secular Baathist dictatorship of Bashar al-Assad and Sunni religious extremists, including ISIS.
It gets worse. The Gulf States’ top leaders, betrayed and bitter, ostentatiously boycott President Obama’s failed Camp David summit. “We were America’s best friend in the Arab world for 50 years,” laments Saudi Arabia’s former intelligence chief.

Note: “were,” not “are.
Ah yes! Saudi Arabia! The biggest exporter of Islamic fundamentalists, including Osama bin Laden and most of the 9-11 highjackers. An extremist, corrupt monarchical dictatorship, vilely misogynist and shameless employer of practices such as torture and decapitation.  I wonder what Krauthammer's point is?
We are scraping bottom. Following six years of President Obama’s steady and determined withdrawal from the Middle East, America’s standing in the region has collapsed. And yet the question incessantly asked of the various presidential candidates is not about that. It’s a retrospective hypothetical: Would you have invaded Iraq in 2003 if you had known then what we know now?
Obama is withdrawing from the Middle East? Who knew? He toppled Qaddafi. He's supported the insurgency in Syria. He's continued to arm the Israelis. He's droned Yemen for years and is now supporting Saudi Arabia's assault on that country. 

America's standing in the region was abysmal during the bush II years. It rebounded somewhat at the beginning of the Obama years, but subsequent betrayals and insults have lowered it again. Whether its actually lower than bush II's numbers is questionable. And probably irrelevant, since it's hard to be any lower than it was under bush.

Of course, that's public opinion. Which generally doesn't matter in dictatorships. Israel's leadership openly supports Obama's Repug rivals. But Netanyahu's behaviour has been disgraceful and his government are vile, murderous racists. (No doubt Krauthammer's kind of people though.) The Saudis are going a little crazy with their Sectarianism, and I hardly think sane people would like the policies that they desire from a US presidential administration. 

All this; the successes of ISIS, the anger of pychopathic racist and/or totalitarian governments in the Middle East towards the USA, Obama's non-existent withdrawal from the Middle East, are, to Krauthammer, much more important than renewed interest in whether any of the current crop of presidential hopefuls still think it was a good idea to have invaded Iraq in 2003. (Note: Krauthammer thought it was a good idea then, and he still thinks so now.) (Note: This makes Krauthammer a fucking idiot.)
First, the question is not just a hypothetical, but an inherently impossible hypothetical. It contradicts itself. Had we known there were no weapons of mass destruction, the very question would not have arisen. The premise of the war — the basis for going to the U.N., to the Congress and, indeed, to the nation — was Iraq’s possession of WMD in violation of the central condition for the cease-fire that ended the first Gulf War. No WMD, no hypothetical to answer in the first place.
What a gibbering mad-man! "The premise of the war ... was Iraq's possession of WMD" should, in all fairness be "Iraq's alleged possession of WMD." But the real kicker is his bizarre:

 "No WMD, no hypothetical to answer in the first pace."

I mean, isn't that the whole fucking point of the question????? "Now that we KNOW there were no WMD, should we have STILL invaded Iraq?" 

The answer is obviously "NO!" but Krauthammer doesn't even want to concede that!

Ordinary Person: "Would you have gone out without an umbrella if you'd know it was going to rain?"

Krauthammer: "If I'd known it was going to rain, I wouldn't have gone outside!"

Ordinary Person: "Okay. We now know that it was going to rain. So it was a mistake to go outside?"

Krauthammer: "What a ridiculous question! It's a contradictory hypothetical! It's an impossible question to answer!"

And all of this; all of Krauthammer's dodges, is predicated on the notion that it was a sane and sensible thing to believe that Saddam had WMDs at the time. It wasn't. Those millions of us from around the world who doubted the lies (because they were lies) and the grasping at straws, were never acknowledged by the "serious" people. The imperialists, the merchants of death and the oily special interests wanted "the facts fixed around the policy." Secretary of State Colin Powell shouted in frustration about the "bullshit" he was expected to peddle to the United Nations to get its approval for the invasion. (Like a "good soldier" "only following orders" he gave a slightly less idiotic speech than he might have, but I and others at the time thought it was laughable garbage.)

Like Matt Taibbi said on "Democracy Now":
MATT TAIBBI: So, the problem that I have with all of this is this—again, a revisionist history, this idea that the mistake was that we were misled by this faulty intelligence, and were it not for the fruit of the poison tree, were it not for Judith Miller and a few people in the Bush administration who presented this case to us, we would never have made this decision, we would have gotten it right the first time around. But the reality is, a lot of the people who were looking at this issue saw through all of that. We didn’t need to even consider the intelligence that the Bush administration was trying to present. It was clearly a manufactured crisis. We were invading the wrong country. This wasn’t—you know, this wasn’t a difficult call. It wasn’t like Fermat’s theorem that we had to figure out. This was a pretty obvious manipulation by the Bush administration. And to pretend that, "Oh, yes, we were misled by this faulty intelligence," I think is going to become the new normal on both sides of the aisle.
But the whole thing—the whole argument was one dubious supposition piled on top of another. The intelligence was maybe the fifth or sixth element in the chain of faulty assumptions that they asked us to accept in order to go to war. And the idea that Judith Miller’s reporting was something that we could hang our hats on as the reason we went to war is absurd, beginning with the idea that Saddam Hussein had any kind of connection to al-Qaeda, which was implied at every turn by this government. You know, the Bush administration, these were some of the people—these are some of the greatest liars in the history of politics, and even they couldn’t come up with a connection between al-Qaeda and Saddam Hussein. And yet this was implied. Seventy percent of the country believed it. And the press unblinkingly allowed that kind of propaganda to be spread in their pages.
Back to Krauthammer:
Second, the “if you knew then” question implicitly locates the origin and cause of the current disasters in 2003. As if the fall of Ramadi was predetermined then, as if the author of the current regional collapse is George W. Bush.
That would indeed be unfair to bush II. Because the recent fall of Ramadi is also the byproduct of the bipartisan agreement to destabilize Syria by employing lunatic Sunni extremists exported by Saudi Arabia and other afflicted despotisms. But there's no question that the sectarian violence and division exacerbated by bush II's invasion of Iraq helped set the table for the fall of Ramadi.
This is nonsense. The fact is that by the end of Bush’s tenure, the war had been won. You can argue that the price of that victory was too high. Fine. We can debate that until the end of time. But what is not debatable is that it was a victory. Bush bequeathed to Obama a success. By whose measure? By Obama’s. As he told the troops at Fort Bragg on Dec. 14, 2011, “We are leaving behind a sovereign, stable, and self-reliant Iraq, with a representative government that was elected by its people.” This was, said the president, a “moment of success.”
What a stupid asshole Krauthammer is! No. What is nonsense was saying that Saddam Hussein had chemical weapons and that he would use them against the United States. It was saying he had a nuclear weapons program. It was saying that his balsa wood drones could be used against the United States. It was saying that this Third World military was an existential threat to the United States. It was pretending that his 1990 invasion of Kuwait was evidence of a new Hitler out to conquer the world. (When he'd gone to the trouble of asking the American Ambassador for permission before he did it.)

So, Obama, who wanted to stay in Iraq (as we'll see) decided not to trash the results of the invasion of Iraq while addressing soldiers at Fort Bragg in 2011? What were other people saying about Iraq in 2011? 

The best answer to the whole question of "stability" that I've been able to find is this essay by Juan Cole. Among other things, it states that Iraq had been "stable" under the iron fist of dictator Saddam Hussein and that it was quite clearly bush II who smashed that state of affairs producing civil and sectarian war. It was slowly coalescing into a Shiite dictatorship, and, therefore, "stability" until the incursions of ISIS. But it was by no means a settled, stable, happy country. It was, by any honest measure, less "stable" than before the invasion.
Which Obama proceeded to fully squander. With the 2012 election approaching, he chose to liquidate our military presence in Iraq. We didn’t just withdraw our forces. We abandoned, destroyed or turned over our equipment, stores, installations and bases. We surrendered our most valuable strategic assets, such as control of Iraqi airspace, soon to become the indispensable conduit for Iran to supply and sustain the Assad regime in Syria and cement its influence all the way to the Mediterranean. And, most relevant to the fall of Ramadi, we abandoned the vast intelligence network we had so painstakingly constructed in Anbar province, without which our current patchwork operations there are largely blind and correspondingly feeble.
So much madness, ignorance and delusion, in such a tight paragraph!

1. First of all, the withdrawal date from Iraq was negotiated by george dubya bush. Very important fact.  Devastates Krauthammer's entire rant. 
First, the troop withdrawal is required by an agreement which George W. Bush negotiated and entered into with Iraq and which was ratified by the Iraqi Parliament prior to Obama’s inauguration. Let’s listen to the White House itself today: “’This deal was cut by the Bush administration, the agreement was always that at end of the year we would leave. . . .’ an administration official said.As I said, it’s a good thing that this agreement is being adhered to, and one can reasonably argue that Obama’s campaign advocacy for the war’s end influenced the making of that agreement, but the Year End 2011 withdrawal date was agreed to by the Bush administration and codified by them in a binding agreement.
Second, the Obama administration has been working for months to persuade, pressure and cajole Iraq to allow U.S. troops to remain in that country beyond the deadline.
2. Obama tried to re-negotiate the exit, but was hampered by the fact that he wanted US troops to enjoy legal immunity from Iraqi law. Even after all the tortures, rapes and murders. But what really spoiled things for Barack Obama was how Wikileaks (thanks to the heroism of Chelsea Manning) brought attention to such US war crimes as the execution of an Iraqi family and the calling-in of air-strikes to cover-up the evidence.
That cable was released by WikiLeaks in May, 2011, and, as McClatchy put it at the time, “provides evidence that U.S. troops executed at least 10 Iraqi civilians, including a woman in her 70s and a 5-month-old infant, then called in an airstrike to destroy the evidence, during a controversial 2006 incident in the central Iraqi town of Ishaqi.” The U.S. then lied and claimed the civilians were killed by the airstrike. Although this incident had been previously documented by the U.N. special rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, the high-profile release of the cable by WikiLeaks generated substantial attention (and disgust) in Iraq, which made it politically unpalatable for the Iraqi government to grant the legal immunity the Obama adminstration was seeking. Indeed, it was widely reported at the time the cable was released that it made it much more difficult for Iraq to allow U.S. troops to remain beyond the deadline under any conditions.
3. OF COURSE the US turned over equipment and bases to the Iraqi military when it left as per bush II's negotiated withdrawal date! What does this imbecile Krauthammer suggest should have happened? That the US military leave and refuse to arm the government that it set up???? (Really! The nonsense these guys will spew once they get started on a topic!)

4. The "vast intelligence network" that Krauthammer is referring to no doubt contained Sunnis who have now happily gravitated to the ISIS banner. The bulk of the resistance to the US occupation (once again, for deluded, confused types like Krauthammer) came from the Sunni areas (Anbar Province) that had been removed from power and marginalized under the Shiite majority government. The "Anbar Awakening" was basically a combination of increased troop levels PLUS massive bribery, to persuade Sunni leaders to make peace with the new state of affairs.

The important factor for all of this NOW, is to look at the origins of the Sunni-extremist ISIS and how it was able to build itself up into a force that could defeat the Iraqi military in Anbar. (SPOILER ALERT: It's the bipartisan US support for Saudi Arabia's exporting of Sunni extremism, to destroy secular Arab nationalism. IOW: It's the fault of fools like bush II, Obama, and their cheerleaders like Krauthammer.)

Let's continue. Here's a howler:
The current collapse was not predetermined in 2003 but in 2011. Isn’t that what should be asked of Hillary Clinton? We know you think the invasion of 2003 was a mistake. But what about the abandonment of 2011? Was that not a mistake?
Given the fact that both the mistake of 2003 and the "mistake" of 2011 were the work of george dubya bush, your question is stupid.
Mme. Secretary: When you arrived at State, al-Qaeda in Iraq had been crushed and expelled from Anbar. The Iraqi government had from Basra to Sadr City fought and defeated the radical, Iranian-proxy Shiite militias. Yet today these militias are back, once again dominating Baghdad. On your watch, we gave up our position as the dominant influence over a “sovereign, stable, and self-reliant Iraq” — forfeiting that position gratuitously to Iran. Was that not a mistake? And where were you when it was made?
Yes. But al-Qaeda (and other Sunni extremist groups) was strengthened in Libya and Syria by the bipartisan, long-term employment of these deluded psychopaths for blinkered, short-term foreign policy goals. This goes back to at least Carter in Afghanistan.

Iran (as I've already said) was inevitably strengthened by giving control over Iraq to its Shiite majority. Prime Minister Maliki was an ally of both the US and Iran. It was bush II who helped increase Iran's influence. (If that sort of thing is important to you.) And, while he may have quieted down, Muqtada al-Sadr was definitely not taken-out as a major player in Iraqi politics before 2011.

It's kind of sad; Krauthammer's play-acting as if he could grill the Secretary of State. Not for the cheek of it, but for his obvious half-knowledge about everything he's pontificating on.
Iraq is now a battlefield between the Sunni jihadists of the Islamic State and the Shiite jihadists of Iran’s Islamic Republic. There is no viable centre. We abandoned it. The Obama administration’s unilateral pullout created a vacuum for the entry of the worst of the worst.
You babbling maniac! Unless you're going to come out and say that encouraging a radical Sunni rebellion against Syria's Assad was a bad idea, you have no business blaming the collapse of western Iraq on Obama alone. Especially, because, as I will point out as many times as necessary, the 2011 withdrawal was BUSH'S POLICY!!!!!

Oh yeah; and there is no Shiite jihad in Iraq. Just Shiite militias pushing-back against Sunni ISIS. That were created and encouraged by both Repugs and Democrats with Saudi management.
And the damage was self-inflicted. The current situation in Iraq, says David Petraeus, “is tragic foremost because it didn’t have to turn out this way. The hard-earned progress of the surge was sustained for over three years.”
Do the math. That’s 2009 through 2011, the first three Obama years. And then came the unraveling. When? “Starting in late 2011,” says Petraeus.
Want to do retrospective hypotheticals? Start there.
Yeah. Start there. George W. Bush's negotiated withdrawal date. 

I'm glad that's out of my system. Over a million people killed. ONE MILLION. Several MILLIONS MORE devastated, turned into refugees. Tortured. Maimed. Forced into prostitution. Uprooted. Demoralized. Devastated.

US-Americans (many of them anyway) will go on and on about how traumatic September 11th, 2001 was for them. Or about the sufferings of their own soldiers. But the people of Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Palestine, etc., etc., are just supposed to quietly endure year after year after year of brutality and stupidity.

And then I'm supposed to read a babbling dunce like Charles Krauthammer. His essay was deluded, ignorant, insane and stupid, literally from start to finish. Absolute garbage. Pure tripe. Not a single redeeming feature.

And then he dredges out the disgraced (and disgraceful) General Petraeus to lend supposed weight to his drivel! 

No comments: