The American Bear

Sunshine/Lollipops

Iraq and the Persistence of American Hegemony

… With history being but mere ‘opinion’ in U.S. political debate the aggressively misleading ‘division’ over whether it was the war on Iraq (2003) or the forced withdrawal of U.S. troops (2011) that is responsible for Iraq’s recent dissolution is so much chatter coming from a group that should rightly be in prison or already hung for their war crimes. Following from the SOFA (Status of Forces Agreement) penned by Mr. Bush that committed the U.S. to quit Iraq by 2011, and against his campaign promise to end the war there, Mr. Obama did everything in his power to persuade the Iraqi government to allow a large U.S. troop presence to remain after the date for withdrawal had passed. The central sticking point was the refusal of the Iraqi government to give blanket immunity to U.S. troops for crimes committed against the people of Iraq. In other words, Mr. Obama could have continued the U.S. war if he had been willing to let the Iraqis prosecute criminal acts committed by Americans in Iraq. Apparently unwilling to risk murder, rape and torture prosecutions against U.S. troops, Mr. Obama reluctantly settled for withdrawal of all but the tens of thousands of troops now ‘guarding’ the U.S. embassy in Iraq. Democrat partisans could rightly point to the rank hypocrisy of the central architects of the Iraq war blaming Mr. Obama’s reluctant withdrawal for current circumstance if there hadn’t existed a bi-partisan front in favor of war against Iraq for most of the last quarter-century.

The question of how a relatively small group of cloistered gangsters can so consistently destroy everything they touch (except the bank accounts of their benefactors) and still remain in power gets to the heart of the American conundrum. As with oil company profits, international finance and ‘outsourced’ environmental devastation, perpetual chaos and destruction is the American business model. Iraq was destroyed so that U.S. munitions manufacturers could sell their wares, so that U.S. infrastructure builders could ‘reconstruct’ the country, so that multi-national oil companies could profit from rising oil prices and so that the U.S. polity could be distracted from careful examination of who ‘their’ government actually works for. Lest this seem unduly conspiratorial, what precisely was the reason the U.S. attacked and occupied Iraq in the 2000s? Iraq had no relationship with Al-Qaeda prior to 2003, WMDs supplied by the U.S. had already been removed long before the start of the war, the idea of ‘democratization’ at the point of a gun is a non sequitur and elimination of the ‘madman’ Saddam Hussein requires overlooking the relationship senior U.S. leadership had with him from the early 1960s through prosecution of the war in the mid-2000s. As there were no ‘good’ reasons for war on Iraq perhaps it is time to look at the bad reasons for it. […]

Shooting and Crying: The Unlearned Lessons of American Atrocity

… I have no doubt that the overwhelming majority of the soldiers who fought in Fallujah or took part elsewhere in this gigantic war crime thought of themselves as good people trying to do a good thing in difficult circumstances. That’s what they were told they were doing; and, poisoned from birth, like all of us, by that all-pervasive myth of exceptionalism, of special privilege for anything and everything done by the United States, most of them lacked the will — or even the conceptual tools — to question this belief. (Brave souls like Chelsea Manning and the Iraq Vets Against the War are among the exceptions.) I am sorry if some of them — and the survivors of the thousands of Americans killed in the process of unleashing this mass murder — now feel that the war was fought in vain, and that the American dead “were sacrificed for nothing,” as one “angry” ex-Marine told the Times after hearing that Fallujah was temporarily in the hands of the extremist militias engendered by the American invasion of Iraq.

This is unfortunate for them — but let us be absolutely clear on this point.  To any American soldier who thought he or she was fighting in Iraq for anything other than the aggrandizement of a bloodthirsty elite, then yes, yes, a thousand times yes: you fought in vain. You fought under false premises, you were ordered to carry out a great crime — and you carried it out. And yes, yes, a thousand times yes: every American soldier who was killed in Iraq was “sacrificed for nothing.” This was true from the very first moment of the war, from the moment you set foot in Iraq. [As Arthur Silber notes here.] It did not suddenly become the truth 11 years later, when Fallujah became embroiled in the sectarian strife the war set loose.

So remember again the reality. Remember again what actually happened. The United States military, at the behest of its political leaders, carried out an abominable war crime in Iraq that killed hundreds of thousands of innocent people. Think of those innocent people who were murdered — and those who go on being murdered in the hellhole America made of Iraq — and then consider where the real tragedy lies, whom the real victims are. Some might think it was people like Artica Salim, whose young body was blown apart by an American bomb during weeks of bombardment to “soften up” the city before the Marlboro Men moved in. But the New York Times — which “stovepiped” so many helpful lies from government warmongers to help make the entirely specious case for aggression, and speaks today, as it spoke then, as the voice of the American establishment — thinks the real victims were the Marines who attacked Fallujah. [read]

US to Send More Drones, Missiles to Iraq | Defense News

According to a report in the New York Times, Iraq has requested ten relatively low-tech ScanEagle drones along with forty-eight Raven drones in order to track al Qaeda fighters who have been operating with impunity in the vast expanses of Anbar providence and in Western Iraq, which shares a border with Syria.

All of the drones will be delivered in 2014.

Seventy-five Hellfire missiles were also delivered to Iraq last week …

… In July, the US announced over $4 billion in Foreign Military Sales to Iraq that included everything from infantry carriers to ground-to-air rockets.

The Pentagon’s request to Congress included $2.4 billion for 681 Stinger anti-aircraft missiles and 40 truck-mounted launchers, Sentinel radars, and three Hawk anti-aircraft batteries with 216 Hawk missiles.

… The United States is also planning to begin delivering F-16 fighters to Iraq late next year.

M of A | "Disorder" In And "Saving" Iraq

So who is responsible for “disorder” in Iraq ? Who created it? Who must “save” Iraq (whatever that may mean)?

Not the New York Times which spread the propaganda about weapon of mass destruction in Iraq and pushed the U.S. public to accept a war on Iraq. Not the editors of the NYT who called for sanctions and that disastrous war. Not the United States which destroyed the Iraqi state. Not the Saudis who currently, with CIA support, finance and weaponized AlQaeda and bring new fighters to Syria and Iraq.

No. It must be the fault of Iraqis and especially their prime minister al-Maliki.

Maliki and the Iraqi security forces need weapons and better intelligence to defeat AlQaeda, the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. The U.S. does not want to deliver such or help repair the damage it has done to Iraq. That is good, says the editors:

President Obama and Mr. Maliki, who met at the White House on Friday, agreed on the need for equipment so Iraqi forces can pursue militants. But there was no indication that Mr. Maliki, who plans to run for a third term, had received new commitments for American-made weapons like Apache helicopters and expedited delivery of F-16 fighters.

Given his authoritarian duplicity, there is no reason to trust him with even more arms unless he adopts a more inclusive approach to governing and ensures that next April’s election will be fair and democratic.

It really needs very shallow minds and a lot of chutzpa to write such editorials without collapsing from some major cognitive disorder and dissonance.

It has been previously reported that the United States provided tactical intelligence to Iraq at the same time that officials suspected Hussein would use chemical weapons. But the CIA documents, which sat almost entirely unnoticed in a trove of declassified material at the National Archives in College Park, Md., combined with exclusive interviews with former intelligence officials, reveal new details about the depth of the United States’ knowledge of how and when Iraq employed the deadly agents. They show that senior U.S. officials were being regularly informed about the scale of the nerve gas attacks. They are tantamount to an official American admission of complicity in some of the most gruesome chemical weapons attacks ever launched. CIA Files Prove America Helped Saddam as He Gassed Iran | Shane Harris and Matthew M. Aid

At least 45 people were killed in bomb attacks across Iraq on Tuesday, most of them in busy markets and commercial areas of the capital Baghdad, police and medics said. The deadliest assault took place in the predominantly Shi’ite Shaab neighborhood of northern Baghdad, where two car bombs killed eight people. There were also explosions in the mainly Shi’ite districts of Abu Dsheer, Kamaliya, Tobchi and Shula. “A blast hit near a crowded market full of people shopping,” said Ali Sadoun, a policeman whose patrol was stationed in Shula. “When police and people gathered to help the wounded, a second bomb went off, tearing through bodies.” Sunni Muslims were the apparent targets of blasts in Amriya and Abu Ghraib, on the city’s western outskirts. A sustained campaign of attacks since the start of the year has increased fears of wider conflict in a country where ethnic Kurds, Shi’ite and Sunni Muslims have yet to find a stable power-sharing compromise. Nearly 50 killed in Iraq bombings | Reuters (via randomactsofchaos)

(via randomactsofchaos)

Dozens killed in Iraq bombings | Al Akhbar English

Ten car-bomb explosions killed at least 39 people across the Iraqi capital on Monday, police and medical sources said.

In the central district of Karada, two parked car bombs went off killing at least eight people, and another two car bombs exploded simultaneously near a market in the western district of Jihad, killing eight.

Violence has been increasing in Iraq in recent months, with more than 1,000 people killed in May alone, making it the deadliest month since the bloodletting of 2006-07.

Remember When NSA Surveillance Was Used to Help Launch the Iraq War? | The Nation

Many Washington policymakers and journalists have framed the NSA surveillance controversy as a debate between privacy and security. Proponents of the data dragnets argue straightforwardly that it is necessary to protect Americans from terrorists. “I flew over World Trade Center going to Senator [Frank] Lautenberg’s funeral, and in the distance was the Statue of Liberty. And I thought of those bodies jumping out of that building, hitting the canopy,” Senator Dianne Feinstein said on Sunday. “Part of our obligation is keeping Americans safe.”

Opponents often accept the same frame, but argue that the country has traded away too much privacy. “I want our law enforcement people to be vigorous in going after terrorists.” Senator Bernie Sanders told Chris Hayes on MSNBC’s All In Monday night. “But I happen to believe they can do that without disregarding the constitution of the United States or the civil liberties of the American people.”

But what if the government abuses the vast surveillance power it is accumulating? What if the NSA is used for political purposes, not safety? This is often left out of the debate, or dismissed outright. Eric Posner wrote at the New York Times website that “I am unaware—and correct me if I am wrong—of a single instance during the last 12 years of war-on-terror-related surveillance in which the government used information obtained for security purposes to target a political opponent, dissenter or critic.”

Unfortunately, NSA has already abused its surveillance power in at least one case where political opponents were targeted, and it’s a big one.

In 2003, a woman named Katharine Gun, who was working for a British intelligence agency, leaked a memo to the press from an NSA agent named Frank Koza. It described a massive American effort to monitor the communications of six delegations to the United Nations—the so-called “Middle Six” who were undecided on authorizing the Iraq War and who were being fiercely courted by both sides.

Here’s what memo said, in part. (Note “the Agency” is the NSA):

As you’ve likely heard by now, the Agency is mounting a surge particularly directed at the UN Security Council (UNSC) members (minus US and GBR of course) for insights as to how to membership is reacting to the on-going debate RE: Iraq, plans to vote on any related resolutions, what related policies/ negotiating positions they may be considering, alliances/ dependencies, etc - the whole gamut of information that could give US policymakers an edge in obtaining results favorable to US goals or to head off surprises. In RT, that means a QRC surge effort to revive/ create efforts against UNSC members Angola, Cameroon, Chile, Bulgaria and Guinea, as well as extra focus on Pakistan UN matters.

We’ve also asked ALL RT topi’s to emphasize and make sure they pay attention to existing non-UNSC member UN-related and domestic comms for anything useful related to the UNSC deliberations/ debates/ votes. We have a lot of special UN-related diplomatic coverage (various UN delegations) from countries not sitting on the UNSC right now that could contribute related perspectives/ insights/ whatever. We recognize that we can’t afford to ignore this possible source.

The British newspaper the Observer had three former intelligence officials confirm its authenticity, and confirmed that indeed a man named Frank Koza worked at the NSA. The British government tacitly admitted the memo was real by charging Gun with violating the Official Secrets Act. The charges were later dropped when the British government was worried it would have to disclose secret legal advice about the war during the trial.

James Bamford, a veteran journalist covering the NSA, confirmed the account in his book and said it extended to monitoring United Nations weapons inspectors in Iraq. At the time, however, U.S. media outlets covered the story lightly, or ignored it completely, in the case of the New York Times.

So here is a clear case where the U.S. government used its surveillance powers—ostensibly in place for national security—to target political opponents and advance an invasion of Iraq. The memo states explicitly that the surveillance is being used to “give US policymakers an edge in obtaining results favorable to US goals or to head off surprises.”

While this may be news to many people fiercely debating the NSA this week, it is not news to the United Nations. They have already accepted illegal surveillance as a part of international diplomacy. Here’s what several United Nations official told Foreign Policy this week:

Several U.N. based diplomats and officials interviewed for this story said they shared similar expectations—that most of their electronic and digital communications are being monitored by friendly and unfriendly governments.

“I think we all assume all of our emails are being monitored by all sorts of countries,” said one senior U.N. official, who like most others interviewed for this piece spoke by telephone or communicated by email on the condition of anonymity.

One chief argument made by civil libertarians is that massive surveillance power will inevitably lead to abuse—that the mission will creep from security to political and diplomatic applications. The fact is, it already has.

So one must then wonder: where does it go next?

More than 60 killed in Iraq bombings | Al Akhbar English

A wave of violence across Iraq on Monday killed 61 people, nearly half of them in a series of attacks in the northern city of Mosul, officials said.

In Mosul at least 29 people were killed when five car bombs targeted the army and police, the officials said, adding a curfew had been imposed in the city.

Thirteen people were killed and 53 wounded when two near-simultaneous car bombs and a suicide attack tore through a wholesale market north of Baghdad, a police officer and a medic said.

The blasts went off in the town of Judaida al-Shat, which lies just west of Baquba, capital of Diyala province and one of the most violent areas in the country.

The attacks targeted fruit and vegetable stall owners who were crowding the market, purchasing goods for the day’s trading.

Another car bomb exploded near a fish market near Taji on the northern edge of Baghdad, killing at least seven people, while a vehicle rigged with explosives also went off in the northern town of Tuz Khurmatu, killing three others.

No group immediately claimed responsibility for the attacks, but Sunni militants linked to al-Qaeda often stage these common simultaneous and mass-casualty bombings.

The violence comes amid a surge in attacks in Iraq, with unrest in May pushing the month’s death toll to the highest such figure since 2008, raising concerns of a revival of the all-out sectarian war that blighted the country in 2006 and 2007.

There has been a heightened level of attacks since the beginning of the year, coinciding with rising discontent among the Sunni Arab minority that erupted into protests in late December.

Analysts say the failure of the Iraqi authorities to address underlying frustrations among the Sunni community has given fuel and room for militants to increase their activities.

The UN envoy to Iraq Martin Kobler has warned that the violence is “ready to explode.”

In a bid to ease tensions, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has in recent days met with two of his arch rivals – the speaker of parliament and the president of the autonomous Kurdish region.

While the country’s top politicians have pledged to address persistent political disputes, which analysts say are linked to violence levels, no tangible moves have yet been announced.

War Crimes as Policy | Douglas Valentine and Nicolas J.S. Davies

In February the Guardian and BBC Arabic unveiled a documentary exploring the role of retired Colonel James Steele in the recruitment, training and initial deployments of the CIA advised and funded Special Police Commandos in Iraq.

The documentary tells how the Commandos tortured and murdered tens of thousands of Iraqi men and boys. But the Commandos were only one of America’s many weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. Along with US military forces – which murdered indiscriminately – and various CIA funded death squads – which murdered selectively – and the CIA’s rampaging palace guard – the 5,000 man strong Iraq Special Operations Forces – the Commandos were part of a genocidal campaign that killed about 10% of the Sunni Arabs of Iraq by 2008, and drove about half of all Sunnis from their homes.

Including economic sanctions, and a 50 year history of sabotage and subversion, America and its Iraqi collaborators visited far more death and destruction on Iraq than Saddam Hussein and his regime.

For the last few weeks, American pundits have been cataloguing the horrors. They tell how the Bush and Obama regimes, united in the unstated policy of war crimes, probably murdered more than a million Iraqis, displaced around five million, and imprisoned and tortured hundreds of thousands without trial.

A few have further explained that the dictatorial administrative detention laws, torture, and executions that characterize the occupation are still in place under Prime Minister Maliki. The prime minister’s office, notably, is where the CIA’s Counter-Terrorism Bureau is currently ensconced.

All of this meets the definition of genocide in the Genocide Convention, and violates multiple articles of the Geneva Conventions, which guarantee protection to civilians in time of war. But the responsible Americans have gone unpunished for their war crimes, not least of which was falsifying intelligence about Iraq’s non-existent weapon of mass destruction as a pretext for the invasion. British legal advisors repeatedly warned their government that invading Iraq would be a crime of aggression, which they called “one of the most serious offenses under international law.”

For anyone familiar with the CIA, this was predictable. But the US Government, through secrecy and censorship, destroyed much of the hard evidence of its war crimes, making it harder to prove. And the media is content to revise history and focus public attention on front men like Steele, rather than the institutions – in particular the CIA – for whom they work.

History, however, provides contextual evidence that what happened in Iraq amounts to a policy of carefully planned war crimes.

[…] Another problem, apart from historical amnesia, is that each war crime is viewed as an isolated incident, and when the dots are connected, the focus is on some shadowy character like Steele. The Guardian made an attempt to connect Steele to Petraeus and Rumsfeld, which again, is commendable. But the fact is that the entire National Security State has been designed and staffed with right-wing ideologues who support the unstated US policy of war crimes for profit.

We know who these security ideologues are. The problem is, they regularly have lunch with the reporters we trust to nail them to the wall. [READ]