Wednesday, December 1, 2010

No Ordinary Family

Okay, read Betty's "Somerby and thoughts on a program I don't miss at all" from yesterday and read her tonight. I've talked with her about what she's going to write and it's going to be a don't miss post. I also want to steer you towards Trina's "Freeze? Barack needs to fire." from last night.

I think Trina's an important blogger (I know she's a great person). My reason for thinking that is we'd all love to be C.I. who is just so smart and works so hard to follow this twist and that turn in Iraq and has just carved out a space as the go-to voice if you want to know about Iraq. (Unlike Juan Cole, C.I. has a record which stands up.) And Trina's original focus was the economy and she's maintained that throughout her years of blogging. I just think she does a great job and I've noted her posts before here and I've certainly noted what a great person she is but I don't think I've ever noted how much I appreciate all her posts on the economy.

So thank you, Trina.

Now, I'm talking about No Ordinary Hero tonight.

I watched on Hulu.

It was the best episode ever until the last 15 or so minutes.

Stephanie (the mother) and Jim were celebrating their anniversary but ended up at a crime scene with a man who could throw fire. Jim fought the man at one point. And the man tried to burn him alive. Stephanie stepped in to help out Jim. Then the police had him but he escaped. At which point, Stephanie used her speed to go after him. He tried to kill her and Jim stepped in and saved her. So it was pretty much an equal crime fighting by the two of them which I really enjoyed.

But the fire man died. And Jim felt guilty (the man was trying to kill his wife, why feel guilty?). And Stephanie felt like both of them shouldn't do this, that there were parents who didn't even ride on the same plane to avoid risks blah blah.

Before that, this could have been the episode that let Stephanie be an equal partner in the crime fighting. Instead, it's going to be all about Jim again until probably the last episode of the season. That's nonsense.

JJ (Jim Junior) played poker and used his powers to cheat. Then when that didn't work, he got his sister to help (I'm forgetting her name, sorry). They won a lot of money -- JJ planning to get a computer he wanted -- but they lost it all after the broke Jim's anniversary gift to Stephanie and took it to the school after hours to fix it and got caught by the security guard. (The sister read the guard's mind and he was complaining about how little money he made so she gave him all the winnings they had and he didn't call the cops on them.)

One more thing. Almost forgot. This made no sense. Stephanie called Katie and asked her to check on the kids. Katie's Stephanie's lab assistant. So Katie and "Will" go over. Now Katie wants to be sure he's not lying to her so she asks the sister to read "Will"'s mind. The sister can't and finds that strange (but tells Katie that she can and that "Will" loves her).

Okay. Now explain this, "Will" and JJ are in the same room and if not meeting for the first time (I believe they were) certainly interacting.

JJ created "Will." Remember?

JJ made up "Will." He chatted online with Katie as "Will." Then she wanted to meet up and he bailed on her because he wasn't Will. But this bad guy showed up for the dinner and posed as Will. So how come JJ wasn't suspicious or calling out this "Will" when he knows -- or should -- that "Will" doesn't really exist?

Going out with C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

Wednesday, December 1, 2010. Chaos and violence continue, the Iraqi government releases monthly figures and, oops, no one thinks to check them against already reported dead and wounded, WikiLeaks remains in the news, Iran is the focus of much worry for many countries, Robert Gates says the latest WikiLeaks release really isn't that damaging, and more.

It's December 1st and AFP reports that the Iraqi government (Ministries of Defense, Health and Interior) have released what they like to call statistics on the death toll and wounded for November. They claim 171 people were killed and that 293 people were wounded. They lie and AFP waives them through. At least 214 people died in November (not counting US service members) and at least 784 were wounded according to press accounts. The real figures are probably much higher. It's amazing that November 2nd saw a greater number reported injured by the press then ALL the people the ministries claim were wounded in the month of November.

Check my mouth, here's our breakdown for the 214 dead and 784 wounded. November 1st 3 people were reported dead (the rising toll from the assault on Our Lady of Salvation Church in Baghdad is not counted in this since the assault was October 31st). November 2nd 76 people were reported killed and over 300 were wounded. November 3rd, 1 person was reported dead and eight wounded. November 4th, 6 people were reported dead and 26 injured. November 5th, 5 were reported dead and 18 wounded. November 6th, 1 person was reported dead and 33 injured. November 7th, 6 people were reported dead and 28 injured. November 8th, 27 people were reported dead and 86 injured. November 9th, 2 people were reported dead and 7 wounded. November 10th, 5 were reported dead and 39 injured. November 11th, 2 were reported dead and 26 injured. November 12th, 1 person was reported dead and 4 wounded. November 13th, 5 people were reported dead and 13 injured. November 14th, 9 people were reported dead and 16 wounded. November 15th, 9 people were reported dead and 39 wounded. November 16th, 2 people were reported dead. November 17th no deaths or injuries were reported. November 18th, 3 people were reported dead and 21wounded. November 19th, 2 people were reported dead and 1 wounded. November 20th, 3 people were reported dead and 4 injured. November 21st, 3 people were reported dead. November 22nd, 5 people were reported dead and 12 wounded.
November 23rd, 9 people were reported dead and 6 injured. November 24th, 11 people were reported dead and 27 injured. November 25th, 1 person was reported dead and 13 injured. November 26th, 3 people were reported dead and 31 injured. November 27th, 5 people were reported dead and 7 wounded. November 28th, 2 people were reported dead and 7 injured. November 29th, 7 people were reported dead and 11 injured. November 30th. 5 people were reported dead and 32 injured.

Reuters sits in its own filth and claims that there's been a drop in violence each month for three months semi-using the so-called statistics (AFP rightly uses the full statistics, Reuters breaks those statistics up and just focuses on 'civilians').

AFP notes 2 US service members were reported dead last month while serving in Iraq. They were Staff Sgt Loleni W. Gandy and Sgt David J. Luff Jr. Larry Davis (Local 12 -- link has text and video) spoke with Lucy Luff, mother of David, who states of their phone call 12 hours before he died, "He was happy. He was getting ready to come home. He was going to come home in February. He was going to be with the family." Lauren Pack (Middletown Journal) adds, "The funeral service will be at 10 a.m. Friday at the Brown-Dawson Funeral Home, 1350 Millville Ave. Burial with full military honors will follow at the Greenwood Cemetery. Visitation will be from 5 to 9 p.m. Thursday at Hamilton High School." The Washington Post is tallying the US military deaths in Afghanistan and Iraq and you can click here for a graph and click on the bars for more details (they do not break it up by Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom).

2 6

3 24

Reuters reported yesterday that the promised census has -- no surprise -- been delayed. But as puzzling as Reuters' website glitches of late (as they retool) is reporting that "Iraq's cabinet decided on Tuesday to postpone . . ."

What cabinet would that be?

Are we still humoring Barack and pretending that Nouri had a 'caretaker' government going on? Even after we know that the US didn't believe that nor did Iraq's neighbors? In one of the funnier moments in the article, Reuters writes "The count had been scheduled for December 5, after being delayed from October 24."

October 24th? Of 2007? That's when the census and referendum were supposed to take place, check the Iraqi Constitution. Contrast that nonsense with the straightforward opening
Lara Jakes (AP) offers, "Iraq's government said Tuesday it will again delay a nationwide census that could determine the real numbers of the country's religious and ethnic groups." What AP opens with, Reuters buries in paragraph six.

It's not a good time for the Kurds in Iraq.

March 7th, Iraq concluded Parliamentary elections. The Guardian's editorial board noted in August, "These elections were hailed prematurely by Mr Obama as a success, but everything that has happened since has surely doused that optimism in a cold shower of reality." 163 seats are needed to form the executive government (prime minister and council of ministers). When no single slate wins 163 seats (or possibly higher -- 163 is the number today but the Parliament added seats this election and, in four more years, they may add more which could increase the number of seats needed to form the executive government), power-sharing coalitions must be formed with other slates, parties and/or individual candidates. (Eight Parliament seats were awarded, for example, to minority candidates who represent various religious minorities in Iraq.) Ayad Allawi is the head of Iraqiya which won 91 seats in the Parliament making it the biggest seat holder. Second place went to State Of Law which Nouri al-Maliki, the current prime minister, heads. They won 89 seats. Nouri made a big show of lodging complaints and issuing allegations to distract and delay the certification of the initial results while he formed a power-sharing coalition with third place winner Iraqi National Alliance -- this coalition still does not give them 163 seats. November 10th a power sharing deal resulted in the Parliament meeting for the second time and voting in a Speaker. And then Iraqiya felt double crossed on the deal and the bulk of their members stormed out of the Parliament. David Ignatius (Washington Post) explains, "The fragility of the coalition was dramatically obvious Thursday as members of the Iraqiya party, which represents Sunnis, walked out of Parliament, claiming that they were already being double-crossed by Maliki. Iraqi politics is always an exercise in brinkmanship, and the compromises unfortunately remain of the save-your-neck variety, rather than reflecting a deeper accord. " After that, Jalal Talabani was voted President of Iraq. Talabani then named Nouri as the prime minister-delegate. If Nouri can meet the conditions outlined in Article 76 of the Constitution (basically nominate ministers for each council and have Parliament vote to approve each one with a minimum of 163 votes each time and to vote for his council program) within thirty days, he becomes the prime minister. If not, Talabani must name another prime minister-delegate. . In 2005, Iraq took four months and seven days to pick a prime minister-delegate. It took eight months and two days to name Nouri as prime minister-delegate. His first go-round, on April 22, 2006, his thirty day limit kicked in. May 20, 2006, he announced his cabinet -- sort of. Sort of because he didn't nominate a Minister of Defense, a Minister of Interior and a Minister of a Natioanl Security. This was accomplished, John F. Burns wrote in "For Some, a Last, Best Hope for U.S. Efforts in Iraq" (New York Times), only with "muscular" assistance from the Bush White House. Nouri declared he would be the Interior Ministry temporarily. Temporarily lasted until June 8, 2006. This was when the US was able to strong-arm, when they'd knocked out the other choice for prime minister (Ibrahim al-Jaafari) to install puppet Nouri and when they had over 100,000 troops on the ground in Iraq. Nouri had no competition. That's very different from today. The Constitution is very clear and it is doubtful his opponents -- including within his own alliance -- will look the other way if he can't fill all the posts in 30 days. As Leila Fadel (Washington Post) observes, "With the three top slots resolved, Maliki will now begin to distribute ministries and other top jobs, a process that has the potential to be as divisive as the initial phase of government formation." Jane Arraf (Christian Science Monitor) points out, "Maliki now has 30 days to decide on cabinet posts - some of which will likely go to Iraqiya - and put together a full government. His governing coalition owes part of its existence to followers of hard-line cleric Muqtada al Sadr, leading Sunnis and others to believe that his government will be indebted to Iran." The stalemate ends when the country has a prime minister. It is now eight months, twenty-four days and counting. Thursday November 25th, Nouri was finally 'officially' named prime minister-designate. Leila Fadel (Washington Post) explained, "In 30 days, he is to present his cabinet to parliament or lose the nomination." Steven Lee Myers (New York Times) added, "Even if Mr. Maliki meets the 30-day deadline in late December -- which is not a certainty, given the chronic disregard for legal deadlines in Iraqi politics -- the country will have spent more than nine months under a caretaker government without a functioning legislature. Many of Iraq's most critical needs -- from basic services to investment -- have remained unaddressed throughout the impasse." Jane Arraf (Al Jazeera) offered, "He has an extremely difficult task ahed of him, these next 30 days are going to be a very tough sell for all of these parties that all want something very important in this government. It took a record eight months to actually come up with this coalition, but now what al-Maliki has to do is put all those people in the competing positions that backed him into slots in the government and he has a month to day that from today."

And one of the ways that Nouri put together the power-sharing arrangement was by promising the census would take place. Kurds were very vocal with Jalal Talabani when he declared that an independent Kurdistan was just a dream ("The idea of a united Kurdistan is just a dream written in poetry" was the exact quote) about their displeasure and they were so vocal that Jalal had to announce he wouldn't seek the presidency in order to clamp down on the outcry. As is usual with Jalal, his went back on his word. And now he is the 'new' president of Iraq again and the census has been delayed. In the KRG provincial elections of 2009, disappointment with Jalal is one reason that other parties did well. So now there's no census. Let's drop back to the November 15th snapshot:

Many pundits are offering that Iran seems a clear winner and that Iraqiya seems a clearr loser. The Kurds didn't really win either -- though the Kurdish leaders got what they wanted. The new Speaker, for example, Osama al-Nufaifi was popular with Shi'ites and the Kurds went along with it after some initial discussion where they considered rejecting the choice due to the fact that he and his family are seen as incredibly anti-Kurdish. If that impression is strengthened by the way Osama runs the Parliament, look for Kurdish leadership to face some of the most difficult and stinging criticism thus far. The sort that could, in fact, allow the non-home grown Goran to be the serious challenger that the CIA was hoping it would be back in 2009.

Marina Ottaway and Danial Kaysi tackle the issue of the power-sharing arrangement in "
Iraq's Parliament Elects a Controversial Speaker" (Carnegie Endowment for International Peace):

Nujeifi's election as speaker of parliament will undoubtedly create tensions with the Kurds. He and his brother Atheel Nujeifi, the governor of Nineveh province, are considered Arab nationalists and have long rejected Kurdish claims over Kirkuk and parts of Nineveh. Their outspoken views have created alarm among Kurdish leaders. In fact, the strong stand taken by the Nujeifi brothers -- as well as similar stances of other players within Iraqiya -- was a key obstacle to the formation of an alliance between Iraqiya and the Kurdish parties that could have created an alternative to a State of Law government.

Nujeifi has made many statements that were bound to anger the Kurds. As a member of parliament, he accused Kurdish militias of driving people out of their residences in some areas in Mosul, a statement that spurred a Kurdish walk-out from parliament and forced Iraqiya to issue an apology and distance itself from Nujeifi's charges. In December 2009, he also criticized the guarantees given to the Kurds by Americans through Article 140 of the constitution, calling it a violation of Iraq's sovereignty and a source for ethnic strife.

In early 2010, the Kurds even threatened to take Nujeifi to court for stating that Kurds do not belong to the Iraqi entity. While Nujeifi's statement was ambiguous, some Kurdish members of parliament saw it as a violation of the constitution and a call for ethnic cleansing. Nujeifi also declared in a televised interview that the Kurds were implementing a widespread policy of "Kurdification" in Kirkuk and Dohuk, and that "the population of Kirkuk was originally composed mainly of Turkmen, that of Dohuk, of Christians…we haven't heard in the past of these places having Kurds in them." He also said that Maliki had shown him documents that proved that the Kurds were taking steps to frighten Christians into leaving Mosul. Maliki's spokesperson, Ali Dabbagh, promptly denied any such conversation. Similarly, Nujeifi also claimed that the Kurds were attempting to change the demographics in certain parts of Mosul by driving out 30,000 Arabs and Yazidis.

Ma'ad Fayad (Asharq Al-Awsat) interviews Iyad Allawi who declares, "A range of factors have led to this result, the most important of which was the position of Iran, which has intervened strongly and widely on two issues. First, it has fixed red lines in relation to certain Iraqi political leaders, primarily me and the Al-Iraqiya List. Second, Tehran has focused its main support on the forces that represent the sectarian political project. This is why it was no coincidence and not surprising to see the State of Law Coalition [SLC] under the leadership of Al-Maliki and the Iraqi National Alliance under the leadership of Ammar al-Hakim invited [to Tehran]. Subsequently, the formation of the National Alliance was declared. This alliance or bloc was then considered to be the largest bloc, and the Federal Court gave its opinion and said that the largest bloc is one that can be formed after the election. This is neither correct, nor constitutional, nor legal, nor democratic.
Moreover, in the first three months after the publication of the election results, the brothers in the SLC tried to prolong the status quo. For this end they used the Debathification issue (the Accountability and Justice Commission) and removed about 500 candidates from the electoral list. Then, they involved the country in the problem of the definition of the largest bloc and the smallest bloc, and whether the largest bloc is the one that has won the election or the one that was formed in the House of Representatives. Then, they involved us in the issue of recounting votes and sorting them by hand, which did not change the results of the election. These three months gave them room to consecrate a few matters. This is in addition to the role played by Iran, and to the unclear and vague role of the United States concerning the situation in Iraq."

Iran? Today Ernesto Londono (Washington Post) filed a major report on issues involving the Iraq-Iran border. Assertions are presented as fact and it appears all assertions are coming from the US military plus a few key local Iraqi sources. The report can be read many ways but the best is probably as a reflection of American military anxiety and possibly the roll-out for extending the US military presence in Iraq as appears apparent in this sentence: "Top Iraqi commanders have said that their lack of a regionally competitive air force and the country's fledgling border guard force will leave them highly vulnerable to external threats after U.S. forces pull out completely at the end of 2011." Iran isn't just a concern for the US. The Guardian publishes a US embassy cable from April 9, 2009 in which diplomatic staff notify the State Dept in DC about Saudi Arabia's concerns:



10. (S) The Secretary said the U.S. is looking to see if Iran can be engaged in any productive manner and noted that Special Advisor Ross would travel to the region soon for consultations. AbZ told the Secretary that UAE feels threatened by Iran today, even though Iran does not yet have a nuclear capability. AbZ asserted that the UAE is even more worried about Iranian intentions than is Israel. AbZ encouraged the U.S. to consider a GCC plus 3 and P5 plus 1 joint meeting.


Iraqi GCC plus 3


11. (S) The Secretary expressed interest in the Iraqi invitations for a GCC plus 3 meeting in Baghdad, at a date to be determined. She noted the value of the GCC plus 3 mechanism not only for furthering Arab engagement with the Iraqi government during a time of transition, but as a way to send a message to Iran that Iraq has broad support in the Arab world.




12. (S) The Secretary told AbZ that the U.S. needs help to stem the flow of funds from the Gulf to the Taliban. She noted that one area of potential action is reviving training related to bulk cash smuggling.

13. (S) Thanking the UAE for hosting the Friends of Pakistan preparatory meeting, the Secretary said she hopes AbZ would attend the April donors conference in Tokyo. AbZ confirmed that he plans to attend and said that the UAE will make a "strong" pledge, but no decision has been made on an exact dollar figure.

14. (S) AbZ express concern over Saudi Arabia's decision not to make a pledge at the Tokyo conference. AbZ said that the Saudis have never liked the Pakistan Peoples Party, and support Nawaz Sharif. In addition, AbZ posited that Saudi Arabia suspects that Zardari is Shia, thus creating Saudi concern of a Shia triangle in the region between Iran, the Maliki government in Iraq, and Pakistan under Zardari. Feltman noted a pattern of Saudi behavior of withholding financial assistance - not supporting March 14 in Lebanon, not sending funds to the PA, and not planning a pledge for Pakistan. Otaiba added that Saudi Arabia also failed make a commitment at the G20 meeting.

WikiLeaks major release has often dominated the news cycle this week. For an overview of the latest release by WikiLeaks, we'll note this from Sunday's KPFA Evening News:

Anthony Fest: The whistle blower website WikiLeaks released another trove of confidential documents today. Last month WikiLeaks released thousands of Pentagon documents most associated with the US occupation of Iraq. In contrast, the documents made public today include thousands of diplomatic cables -- communications between the State Dept and Washington and US consulates all around the world. The documents cover both the George W. Bush and the Barack Obama administrations. WikiLeaks gave an advance look at the documents to several media organizations including
the New York Times and the British newspaper the Guardian. Those publications now have articles on their websites analyzing the documents. WikiLeaks says it will post the documents on its own website in the coming days although it has said its site was the target of a cyber attack today. The documents release is certain to provoke tension between the US and its allies. For example, some of the cables say that Saudi donors are the largest financiers of terror groups. Other cables detail the cover-up of US military activities. One of them records a meeting last January between US Gen David Petreaus and the president of Yemen about air attacks against rebels in Yemen. The president, Ali Abdullah Saleh, tells Petraeus, "We'll continue to say they are our bombs and not yours." According to the Guardian, the documents reveal that some Arab leaders had privately urged an air attack against Iran and that US officials had been instructed to spy on the United Nations' leadership. Among the other disclosures are deep fears in Washington and London about the security of Paksitan's nuclear weapons. Another document asserts massive corruption at high levels of the Afghanistan government saying the Afghan vice president traveled to the United Arab Emirates carrying $52 million in cash. Still other documents disparage the British military in Afghanistan.

Iraq and Iran are the topic of many cables released by WikiLeaks. Ryan Grim (Huffington Post) notes a July 31, 2008 cable addresses Egyptian concerns:

Iraq: Don't Pull Out Too Soon

¶4. (C) Turning to Iraq, Senator Kerry asked Mubarak if he had
changed his opinion of Prime Minister Al Maliki after Iraq's
successful stabilization efforts in Basra and Sadr City.
Mubarak said he "I am not critical. He came to Cairo. I gave
him my phone number but he hasn't called us." He noted that
Egypt offered to host and train Iraqi forces, but that the
offer had not been acted upon by the Iraqis. He said the
U.S. "cannot withdraw until you strengthen the armed forces
and police. Until then you have to stay."

Beware The Iranians

¶5. (C) Mubarak's top concern for the stability of Iraq and
the region is Iran. He believes that "as a result of the
invasion of Iraq, Iran is spreading everywhere." He urged the
U.S. to be wary of what Iran says. "They are big, fat liars
and justify their lies because they believe it is for a
higher purpose." He said he believes this opinion is shared
by other leaders in the region. Nonetheless, he opined that
no Arab state will join the U.S. in a defense relationship
vis-a-vis Iran out of fear of "sabotage and Iranian
terrorism." He said Iran's sponsorship of terrorism is
"well-known but I cannot say it publicly. It would create a
dangerous situation." Mubarak said that sanctions are the
best hope for containing Iran, but Arab states won't dare to
endorse them.

It'll be interesting to see how that one plays out re: John Kerry. Drop back to a March 2004 statement he made that some saw as controversial and that the Bush administration criticized him for. How close is he to foreign leaders? That was the question in 2004 when he began boasting.
AFP emphasizes a WikiLeaks release in which Egypt's president, Hosni Mubarack, insists that the US should "allow a dictator to take over" Iraq. Which may explain US support for Nouri al-Maliki.

Heather Langan (Bloomberg News) reports on another cable detailing a briefing between US Adm Mike Mullen, chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the head of Egypt's spy program Omar Suleiman: "Suleiman added that the Egyptian intelligence service had begun "recruiting agents in Iraq and Syria," according to the cable. He also said the U.S. shouldn't limit its focus on Iran to one issue at a time, such as the Islamic republic's nuclear program."

Matthew Rothschild (The Progressive) offers this take on the US government's pushback against WikiLeaks:

No, the real eye-opener is the reactionary impulse of people in power to repress those who disseminate information.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called the dislcosure "not just an attack on America's foreign policy interests. It is an attack on the international community."
Rep. Peter King echoed her comments, saying, "This is worse even than a physical attack on Americans, it's worse than a military attack."
All right, just wait a second here. Pearl Harbor was an attack on America. 9/11 was an attack on America. The Wikileaks document drop was not an attack on America. Our nuclear weapons are not on heightened alert (at least I sure hope they're not). The Pentagon isn't calling up more troops. No one was killed; no one was injured.
Nevertheless, Sen. Joe Lieberman said the Wikileaks staff had "blood on their hands."
Lieberman, Clinton, and King are trying to convict Wikileaks with guilt by hyperbole.

US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates actually went against the grain yesterday at the Pentagon when asked about WikiLeaks. His lengthy response included the following:

But let me say -- let me address the latter part of your question. This is obviouslyl a massive dump of information. First of all, I would say unlike the Pentagon Papers, one of the things that is important, I think, in all of these releases, whether it's Afghanistan, Iraq or the releases this week, is the lack of any signficant difference between what the U.S. government says publicly and what these things show privately, whereas the Pentagon Papers showed that many in the government were not only lying to the Ameircan people, they were lying to themselves.
But let me -- let me just offer some perspective as somebody who's been at this a long time. Every other government in the world knows the United States government leaks like a siever, and it has for a long time. And I dragged this up the other day when I was looking at some of these prospective releases. And this is a quote from John Adams: "How can a government go on, publishing all of their negotiations with foreign nations, I know not. To me, it appears as dangerous and pernicious as it is novel."
When we went to real congressional oversight of intelligence in the mid-70s, there was a broad view that no other foreign intelligence service would ever share information with us again if we were going to share it all with the Congress. Those fears all proved unfounded.
Now I've heard the impact of these releases on our foreign policy described as a meltdown, as a game-changer, and so on. I think -- I think those descriptions are fairly signficantly overwrought. The fact is, government deal with the United States because it's in their interest, not because they like us, not because they trust us, and not because they believe we can keep secrets. Many governments -- some governments deal with us because they fear us, some because they respect us, most because they need us. We are still essentially, as has been said before, the indispensable nation.
So other nations will continue to deal with us. They will continue to work with us. We will continue to share sensitive information with one another.
Is this embarrassing? Yes. Is it awkward? Yes. Consequences for U.S. foreign policy? I think fairly modest.

Click here to read in full. I think we represented it well in the excerpt above. Kevin Paule (Student Life) points out, "The empire is unsustainable, as the record deficits under the Bush and Obama administrations clearly show. Our greatest threat lies not in a cave thousands of miles away, but rather in the flaws of our foreign policy over the past century. The role of America as the world's policeman has involved our country in nations on every inhabited continent. Rather than respect the sovereignty of foreign countries and provide defense here at home, the United States has adopted an aggressive stance that creates more enemies than it defeats. A simple history of U.S. policy in the Middle East reveals the insanity." Meanwhile Justin Raimondo ( takes it to the issue of the personal, "One thing I personally appreciate about the WikiLeaks mega-dump is that it provides me with plenty to write about for the next few years, at least. There is so much material here that one could hardly hope to cover it all, and pick up all the little gems that are just waiting to be discovered by the avid researcher. For some time to come I'll be mining this rich lode -- rich with meaning, and heavy with lessons for critics of the interventionist foreign policy consensus. "

Turning to violence, AKI reports that Iraqi Christian Fady Walid Jibrai was at his Mosul grocery store when assailants killed him yesterday. Xinhua adds that his brother was wounded in the shooting and also details other violence yesterday while last night a Mosul military checkpoint was attacked and 1 Iraqi soldier died and another was left injured, when police arrived on the scene of the assault a bomb went off injuring a police officer, and a Mosul car bombing injured three Iraqi soldiers. Reuters reports that a Kirkuk roadside bombing injured the Dibbis police chief today and an Anbar Province roadside bombing claimed the lives of two bodyguards for Lt Col Mohammed Abdul-Majeed. Alsumaira TV reports a Baghdad sticky bombing injured "an employee at Iraq's Health Ministry".

We'll cover the issue of Iraqi refugees tomorrow but breaking news is that a "brawl" took place at Australia's detention center for immigrants on Christmas Island -- where last month an Iraqi refugee apparently took his own life rather than return to Iraq -- and Australia's ABC News reports that the country's Immigration Dept states they are investigating. Following the apparent suicide, immigrants protested in common areas, some went on hunger strikes and some sewed their mouths shut.

In the US, people are gearing up for a protest that will take place later this month. Chris Hedges (Information Clearing House) notes:

On Dec. 16 I will join Daniel Ellsberg, Medea Benjamin, Ray McGovern and several military veteran activists outside the White House to protest the futile and endless wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Many of us will, after our rally in Lafayette Park, attempt to chain ourselves to the fence outside the White House. It is a pretty good bet we will all spend a night in jail. Hope, from now on, will look like this.
Hope is not trusting in the ultimate goodness of Barack Obama, who, like Herod of old, sold out his people. It is not having a positive attitude or pretending that happy thoughts and false optimism will make the world better. Hope is not about chanting packaged campaign slogans or trusting in the better nature of the Democratic Party. Hope does not mean that our protests will suddenly awaken the dead consciences, the atrophied souls, of the plutocrats running Halliburton, Goldman Sachs, ExxonMobil or the government.
Hope does not mean we will halt the firing in Afghanistan of the next Hellfire missile, whose explosive blast sucks the oxygen out of the air and leaves the dead, including children, scattered like limp rag dolls on the ground. Hope does not mean we will reform Wall Street swindlers and speculators, or halt the pillaging of our economy as we print $600 billion in new money with the desperation of all collapsing states. Hope does not mean that the nation's ministers and rabbis, who know the words of the great Hebrew prophets, will leave their houses of worship to practice the religious beliefs they preach. Most clerics like fine, abstract words about justice and full collection plates, but know little of real hope.
Hope knows that unless we physically defy government control we are complicit in the violence of the state. All who resist keep hope alive. All who succumb to fear, despair and apathy become enemies of hope. They become, in their passivity, agents of injustice. If the enemies of hope are finally victorious, the poison of violence will become not only the language of power but the language of opposition. And those who resist with nonviolence are in times like these the thin line of defense between a civil society and its disintegration.

the washington post
ernesto londono
the guardian
the huffington post
ryan grim
the associated press
lara jakes
marina ottaway
danial kaysi
alsumaria tv
matthew rothschild
the progressive
chris hedges
justin raimondo

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