Saturday, April 25, 2020

Enchilada Casser-Ole! in the Kitchen

A lot of stuff for this post.  First, Elaine's posts:

  • DNC brought this on themselves
  • Members of Congress are non-essential workers, please remember that
  • Peggy Lipton really could sing
  • Fiona

  • Elaine is my daughter-in-law.  I always enjoy reading her posts but she's been addressing realities that we're not getting everywhere.  She's talked about the way Congress is failing America during this pandemic.  She's talked about how in these stressful times we all find some small joy we can zoom in on to try to get through these days.  They've been some needed posts and I wanted to be sure that I applauded her publicly for them.

    Now Mike's posts:

  • You picked him, you didn't need my vote
  • Lying Nancy, truth telling Tara and Ted Rall calls it
  • Chris Cillizza is pretty damn stupid
  • How is Congress not an essential worker required to report for their shift?

  • Mike's one of my four sons.  He and Elaine are married.  Mike's also being recognized by me and that's because he's talking about the failure of Congress as well, among other things.  I want to applaud him as well.

    Another needed round of applause.  Read "Life just got a little harder for fake asses like Alyssa Milano (Ava and C.I.)."

    They did a great job.  First let me note C.I. individually, though.  Since the Tara Reade story broke (Tara has stated that Joe Biden assaulted her), C.I. has covered it.  She has covered in the Iraq snapshots, she's usually covered it in her Saturday night post as well.  Sometimes in her Sunday post, sometimes now.  She's reposted videos of discussions about this case.  She's done everything she can to draw attention to this case -- including the roundtable she moderated in the community.

    Covering it every day in the snapshot is not easy.  She has to find a new way to cover it, a new way to tell this story.  In Friday's snapshot, written before Ryan Grim's story broke (she added that to the snapshot, as she notes, later that day when it broke), she drew attention to the case by, for example, taking on a lunatic woman who wanted you to know -- in a video -- that it's our responsibility to redeem rapists.  No, it's not you stupid idiot.  That woman was an idiot and C.I. was right to call her out.  But C.I. did things like that every day, day after day, to draw attention to Tara's case.  And I applaud her for that and for the heavy lifting she's done, day after day.

    Now with Ava.  Ava and C.I. cover the media for THIRD and have done that -- and done a wonderful job of that -- for 15 years.  They have an amazing body of work. Since Tara came forward with her story, Ava and C.I. have covered it every week at THIRD.  They have done an amazing job.

    Today, Friday afternoon (sorry, I haven't been to sleep yet), so yesterday, Ryan Grim broke the news that there is more evidence backing Tara's story.

    A lot of bitches -- Amanda Marcotte, Joan Walsh, Baby Jessica Valenti, Michelle Goldberg, etc -- have refused to support Tara.  And, oh, it's too bad because her mother's dead and we can't prove that she told her mother what she said she did.

    Friday afternoon, Ryan Grim broke the news that they found Tara's mother on a 1993 Larry King episode (that would have been Larry King Live, which was Larry's CNN talk show -- a show I miss today and can't stand the garbage CNN offers today).  She calls in and explains her daughter has a story to tell.  Read Ryan's report.

    Tara already had enough proof.  Her brother remembers it, a friend remembers it -- both from 1993, hearing it then.  Another friend remembers her talking about it in the '00s, several interns remember her being removed from her duties as Tara had said happened (it was retaliation).  Most 'he-said/she-said' never has that amount of support.  And now we have the mother talking about it as she called into Larry King in 1993.

    Joe's a rapist.  Stop pretending.  He's a damn rapist.

    Now his cult is going to ignore this and try to attack Tara like they always do.

    How do you get the word out?

    Ava and C.I. use Alyssa The Liar Milano as their opening, as their entry.

    People don't get what they do.  They're not just writing to write.  They cover things to raise awareness and get the word out.  Making Tara the headline would result in Tara supporters reading it.  Only.  Making Alyssa -- an attention whore supreme who more and more people loathe each day -- the focus of the headline ensures that people who haven't followed the Tara Reade story are going to see what they wrote and learn about Tara. 

    Ava and C.I. know what they're doing.  They've been doing it for 15 years.  Applause to them, applause for them.

    Tina e-mailed me to ask if I liked Taste of Home recipes?  I do.  I don't highlight them here very often.  When I do, it tends to be their recipes for diabetics and I am selecting those recipes.  But outside of when I'm trying to note diabetes (I'll get back to that), I'm also not selecting very much myself.  I started this site forever ago.  2006, I had to look it up on the side where the previous posts are listed.  I ran out of my own favorite recipes by 2009 if not sooner.  I'm a nurse.  I'm at the Mayo Clinic and other medical sites all the time so I will see a recipe or two there every year and I'm highlighting those.  But the bulk of the recipes here are what readers are e-mailing me. 

    Let me do the diabetic thing before I forget.  (I had to do clinic today and then fill in at the hospital due to shortages -- a double shift and I'm exhausted.)  In better times -- remember those?  we will see them again? -- I was doing two recipes a week.  One was my regular Friday recipe where I note what readers have sent in.  The other was another day during the week where I noted diabetic recipes.

    The point of starting this site was the Iraq War was going on -- it still is -- C.I. produces content on Iraq every day.  By reposting that here, I was doing my part to get the word out.  But besides reposting, what could I offer?

    I have eight kids.  Money was always tight.  (I just corrected that sentence, it read "Monday was always tight."  I mention that because I am very tired so if I did something like that elsewhere in this post, please forgive me.  I'm trying to post before I go to bed because I'm going to be worn out still when I wake up.  Double shifts are something for a woman much younger than me.)  So since money was always tight, I do know how to stretch a dollar.  And we were in the midst of a very bad economy -- I don't think it's improved all that much.  So what I could offer was recipes.  Things you could cook at home -- even if you were just beginning to cook.  Things that would save you money and would be healthy for you.

    So that's why Trina's Kitchen came to be.  (And thank you to C.I. who stayed with me on the phone and helped me set it up.  I could not have handled Blogger/Blogspot by myself back then.  I would've given up and just said, "Well, I tried.") 

    And when things are better, I do hope I can go back to doing the diabetic recipes each week as well.  Diabetes is out of control in this country.  Some of that can be addressed through nutrition.  That's not blaming anyone, by the way.  Type II or Type I, we're looking at genetics and other issues.  C.I. has talked about her diabetes so I'll note her as an example.  She's underweight.  You don't have to be overweight to get diabetes.  Nick Jonas (I like his music) and others have promoted a very negative image of Type II diabetics.  I don't encourage that. People have diabetes due to many issues.  For C.I., the stress.  Her blood sugar levels can leap due to the stress.  I've seen it happen.  She's been in my physical kitchen and just fine when a call comes in -- say from a journalist who's not able to get a story on the air or whatever -- and she'll go from fine to almost fainting.  And if she takes her blood sugar -- because I'm nagging -- at that moment, she's gone from normal to over 300 and done so in 15 or so minutes.  I know stress is factor but I have never seen anything like that before.  And there was a month when she had to have surgery and her blood sugar was too high the morning of the surgery (because a rude nurse stressed her out) so to be sure that didn't happen again she used a device with a sensor and was taking it constantly just to learn about it. Her stress levels are what effect her blood sugar. 

    Some people are born with it, some people develop it.  It's not anyone's 'fault.'  Diseases and medical conditions should not be seen as 'fault' conditions. 

    And, like the United Kingdom, we are seeing so many more cases of diabetes these days.  So I do want to return to offering those recipes.

    But let me get real here, the way I applauded Elaine and Mike for doing it.

    This is so stressful right now.  I've noted that if you're going to a clinic or a hospital, you should be thanking the custodial staff because, without them, the place you are at would not be clean.

    And that's stress that they have to deal with.  They are wiping down and sweeping up and empty trash that has been touched by everyone.  They could easily be exposed.  And they know that.  And they're doing their jobs and I applaud them for it.

    Then there are the non-medical workers who admit you or check you in for your appointment.  They are also at risk and deserve applause.  I have a friend, Sandy, who basically is on the phone at a clinic all day.  She has other duties but that's really what she's doing.  She's calling every patient with an appointment to be sure they know what's required (masks must be worn) and to make sure they are comfortable coming into a clinic for an appointment.  She talks to people who are in their 80s and 90s and she's often the only person they talk to that day due to the isolation.  And some are worried and some are sick and it so stressful for her.  She feels for everyone of those people who is basically alone.  I applaud her for the work she's doing.

    An I applaud our techs and our doctors and you know I applaud the nurses.  (I'm a nurse, as I've explained before -- I hope I noted it above but I'm not scrolling through to find out.) 

    So many people are giving so much so that our healthcare system in this country does not collapse in the midst of this pandemic.  They deserve applause.

    Elaine applauded a woman at her McDonalds this week.  We need to applaud everyone like that, people going into work that allow us to go through the drive thru or to have food delivered.  We need to applaud the grocery store workers who are keeping our grocery stores open and our access to food possible.

    So many people are giving so much, risking so much.  And that's why it really pisses me off that our Congress is not in session.  I'm a nurse who honestly should be retired by now.  I've put in my time.  But I'm at work.  Why the hell is Congress not in session?  Where is their leadership, where is their sacrifice?  I'm so sick of them.

    Anyway, Tina offers this recipe which is "Enchilada Casser-Ole!" and is from Taste of Home magazine:


    • 1 pound lean ground beef (90% lean)
    • 1 large onion, chopped
    • 2 cups salsa
    • 1 can (15 ounces) black beans, rinsed and drained
    • 1/4 cup reduced-fat Italian salad dressing
    • 2 tablespoons reduced-sodium taco seasoning
    • 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 6 flour tortillas (8 inches)
  • 3/4 cup reduced-fat sour cream
  • 1 cup shredded reduced-fat Mexican cheese blend
  • 1 cup shredded lettuce
  • 1 medium tomato, chopped
  • 1/4 cup minced fresh cilantro

  • Directions

    • In a large skillet, cook beef and onion over medium heat until meat is no longer pink; drain. Stir in the salsa, beans, dressing, taco seasoning and cumin. Place 3 tortillas in an 11x7-in. baking dish coated with cooking spray. Layer with half of the meat mixture, sour cream and cheese. Repeat layers.
    • Cover and bake at 400° for 25 minutes. Uncover; bake until heated through, 5-10 minutes longer. Let stand for 5 minutes; top with lettuce, tomato and cilantro.

    This is C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot" for Friday:

    Friday, April 24, 2020.  Joe Biden maintains his silence on the rape accusation, Iraq's prime minister-designate still struggle to come up with a portfolio, Barbara Slavin sees US troops leaving Iraq, and much more.

    ADDED 4/24/203:28 EST: Ryan Grim has a scoop at THE INTERCEPT:

    In interviews with The Intercept, Reade also mentioned that her mother had made a phone call to “Larry King Live” on CNN, during which she made reference to her daughter’s experience on Capitol Hill. Reade told The Intercept that her mother called in asking for advice after Reade, then in her 20s, left Biden’s office. “I remember it being an anonymous call and her saying my daughter was sexually harassed and retaliated against and fired, where can she go for help? I was mortified,” Reade told me.
    Reade couldn’t remember the date or the year of the phone call, and King didn’t include the names of callers on his show. I was unable to find the call, but mentioned it in an interview with Katie Halper, the podcast host who first aired Reade’s allegation. After the podcast aired, a listener managed to find the call and sent it to The Intercept.
    On August 11, 1993, King aired a program titled, “Washington: The Cruelest City on Earth?” Toward the end of the program, he introduces a caller dialing in from San Luis Obispo, California. Congressional records list August 1993 as Reade’s last month of employment with Biden’s Senate office, and, according to property records, Reade’s mother, Jeanette Altimus, was living in San Luis Obispo County. Here is the transcript of the beginning of the call:
    KING: San Luis Obispo, California, hello.
    CALLER: Yes, hello. I’m wondering what a staffer would do besides go to the press in Washington? My daughter has just left there, after working for a prominent senator, and could not get through with her problems at all, and the only thing she could have done was go to the press, and she chose not to do it out of respect for him.
    KING: In other words, she had a story to tell but, out of respect for the person she worked for, she didn’t tell it?
    CALLER: That’s true.

    King’s panel of guests offered no suggestions, and instead the conversation veered into a discussion of whether any of the men on set would leak damaging personal information about a rival to the press.

    Joe Biden thinks he deserves to be president.  But he doesn't think he has to answer publicly when a woman accuses him of assault or rape.  Tara Reade has come forward to accuse Joe of assault.  Katie Halper interviewed Tara about the assault.  At THE GUARDIAN this morning, she writes:

    You can hear and read Reade’s heart-wrenching account yourself, but to summarize her claims: she says she brought Joe Biden his gym bag as she’d been instructed. The two of them were alone and that is when she says “he just had me up against the wall and his hands were on me and underneath my clothes. And then he went down my skirt, but then up inside it and he penetrated me with his fingers ... Everything shattered in that moment.”
    Reade’s good friend Jane (not her real name), who lived at the same residence and interned for another senator at the time, told me that Reade called her after the incident: “When I said, ‘Did you feel like you could walk away?’, [Tara] said no. And that his hand went where it shouldn’t below the belt...He said something that made [Tara] feel like a grain of dust… small and insignificant. On the can’t see someone’s facial expression… but you can tell when someone’s voice is shaking... She was definitely confused, disoriented.”
    Reade’s brother also remembers learning about the incident: “First my mom told me about it. She was up in arms. And I was like I don’t know what happened. I think my sister was trying to spare me.” Indeed, Reade did try to spare her younger brother somewhat but, as he told me, “I remember my sister being specifically asked to handle a gym bag... And there was a moment he had her up against the wall and made a hand move under her clothes.”
    [. . .]
    Political leaders, the media and victims’ advocates for months have refused to honor Reade’s request to be heard, sacrificing not only one woman but basic principles at the heart of the Democratic party and the survivors’ justice movement that brave Democratic women helped build.

    The corporate media has done an appalling job covering the story.  College newspapers, however, have led on this story.  Genna Edwards (THE PITT NEWS) observes:

    Biden, like Trump, has been accused of sexual misconduct and assault by multiple women. And like Trump, he and his campaign deny these claims. Biden’s history as a “Democratic” politician is littered with choices that are incredibly un-Democratic. He’s more of a centrist than anything, going wherever the money and power want him to go. He wavers on abortion, having supported the Hyde Ammendment. He is not an LGBTQ+ ally. He voted for the Iraq war. He is anti-Social Security and anti-Medicare. Tara Reade, a former staff assistant to Biden, has accused him of sexual assault — I believe her. I’ve seen the videos of Biden inappropriately touching and sniffing young girls.
    So. As both a leftist and a queer woman, I am appalled. Losing Sanders robs us of any dignity the American people may have had left. If I have to choose between two unfit men in the fall to lead my country out of a historic pandemic that neither are fit to fix given their policies, well — I’m moving to an underground bunker.

    If I thought myself naive for believing in politics before this, boy, is that smacking me in the face now. I try to have hope, stupid white woman hope, and I’ve tried to have hope again and again. I thought Sanders was it this time, that we could escape this Trump hell and feel at least marginally better about living in this country.

    We'll note another college paper, Liddy Grantland (DUKE CHRONICLE) offers:

    I disagree with Joe Biden on many issues. I believe that there were better choices in the Democratic primary, and I voted that way. With his ever-increasing delegate lead, though, I was begrudgingly becoming accustomed to the idea of casting my vote for him in November. As much as I remain opposed to much of his past and current work, I believed fewer people would be harmed by his presidency than would be harmed by another four years of Donald Trump in office. I still believe that. 
    But I now know that no matter what happens in November, the Oval Office will almost certainly be occupied for the next four years by a perpetrator of sexual assault.
    This is not the first election where voters have had to choose between two candidates who have caused direct harm. Black, Brown and Indigenous voters have had to choose between the lesser of two evils—the person less likely to rob them of their freedom and dignity—in nearly every election where they have even been able to cast a ballot. 

    It would be politically convenient for me to forget Tara Reade, to ignore the harsh reality about this member of my team. Many people on my team have already made that choice. I understand it. But I will not do the same.

    Lena Felton (THE LILY) speaks to a number of women about the way the media and others have treated Tara Reade:

    Such is the case for Alannah Raitt, a 25-year-old bus driver and barista who’s also a volunteer aide for Joshua Collins, a Democratic candidate for Congress in Tacoma, Wash. “I will not support people who can’t seem to respect people’s bodily autonomy or can’t seem to understand the concept of consent,” says Raitt, who identifies as a victim of sexual assault. “I don’t understand how so many people can say ‘Oh, well, Trump’s done it too.’ That’s the lowest bar on the planet, and that’s not an excuse.”

    The same goes for Sarah Ann Masse, who was one of the first women in October 2017 to allege sexual misconduct by disgraced Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein. It doesn’t matter which party the accused stands for, she says: “For me, sexual violence is not a partisan issue. If we’re going to believe survivors, we have to believe them regardless of the politics of their abuser and regardless of whether we like their policies.”

    Survivors are watching what happens.  They are seeing this unfold and they are fully aware that this is harmful to all women, to all survivors.  Instead of reporting, most outlets are attacking Tara Reade.  It sends a message.  Fake asses like Alyssa Milano have used #MeToo to cover for their failed careers.  But when they could be of any value at all, the Alyssa Milanos refuse to support women.

    At COUNTERPUNCH this morning, MG outlines her experiences and notes:

    I might not be ready to tell my story, but I am sharing this anyways. Nothing Tara did in the subsequent years after Joe Biden digitally raped her disqualifies her story. Nothing I did in the years following my assault changes what happened to me. Holding such a secret for so long, living a lie as truth is a defense mechanism for those of us who are not ready to tell. It is a way to pretend that “that thing” never happened. That defense mechanism kicks into overdrive when the perpetrator is a public figure. You become smaller, so you do more to deny the truth. You share a different face publicly than the emotionally scarred one.
    As George Orwell said, if you want to keep a secret, you have to hide it from yourself. Shame on everyone for trying to psychoanalysis a victim that is still concealing their truth. Shame on the Democrats for forcing Biden on all the women and men who can see their story in Tara’s story. Who now see a version of their attacker in what liberals claim is the “women’s rights” candidate for the President of the United States. Biden is a secret the party is trying to hide from themselves, and it is going to cost us all dearly in the end.

    THE TAKEAWAY spoke to VOX's Anna North about the charges against Biden.

    On THE KATIE HALPER SHOW this week, Katie offers an interview with Tara's friend who corroborates Tara's story and was told of it in real time -- after that she speaks with THE INTERCEPT's Ryan Grim and with journalist Rich McHugh.

    We're also going to note this video.

    On the one hand, I can see what she's going for, healing.  On the other, I'm damn tired of women being the world's punching bag, the canary in the coalmine.  I'm tired of it.

    Would INFINITE LUNCHBOX do a video about the need to help killers find their way back?  It's only when women are the targets that we have to think about the criminals and the suffering of the criminals.  Let a woman be raped and the supposed 'fair' reaction is to think about the suffering that the rapist is going through.

    Assault is a crime.

    It's not my job to humor or defend Joe Biden if he assaulted Tara Reade.  It's not my job to do that for anyone who assaults a woman.

    I do get the whole let's-heal-America which, let's be honest, is largely bulls**t.  But I am going to repeat, we only have this attitude when it's women.

    We only have this attitude when it's women and man might suffer for his actions.

    How is the nonsense INFINITE LUNCHBOX offers any different from the earlier nonsense of "boys will be boys"?

    It's not.  It's a new twist on rape culutre.

    Danny Schechter used to bother me all the time for money.  And then he got his little feelings hurt when I said no more.  That was after terrorist Ike Turner died.  I know Tina.  I love Tina.  She lived through terrorism.  But Ike dies and there's Danny claiming that Tina forgives Ike or has to if she doesn't because . . . STFU.  I told him not to ask me for money anymore, not to bother me anymore.  He was a fan boy and that supposed to mean that a man gets to wipe away all of his crimes.

    Time and again, that's what happens to women.  Ike abusing and terrorizing Tina is well established.  Even then, it becomes a case of "Oh, well, he had a hard life and Tina's forgiven him or should . . ."

    No one says that about a Palestinian who's been terrorized -- nor should they -- or someone who was tortured at Guantanamo (nor should they).  But let a woman be attacked by a man and it becomes a case of the woman has to soothe the delicate feelings of the male criminal.

    Only women are expected to make things better for their attacker.  That's bulls**t.

    Turning to Iraq, ASHARQ AL-AWSAT reports:

    Four forged ministerial lists were circulated and were said to represent the composition of Iraqi Prime Minister designate Mustafa al-Kadhimi’s government, yet it was reported that the fifth list that has been circulating for the past two days is the legitimate one.

    The list which includes 14 ministers could be passed by the parliament, while the rest of the portfolios are to be discussed between Kadhimi and the political blocs that represent the three main components in the country (Shiites, Sunnis, Kurds).

    The PM-designate has not yet named figures who would head the defense and security portfolios.

    Reasons behind this postponement vary. Some say differences over the interior and defense portfolios are limited between Sunnis and Shiites, while others suggest that Kadhimi wants to nominate both ministers himself without resorting to blocs or components.

    Mustafa al-Kadhimi remains prime minister-designate.  He is the third prime minister-designate so far this year.  Will he succeed where the other two failed?

    At THE ATLANTIC COUNCIL, Barbara Slavin offers:

    A withdrawal of most US military forces from Iraq seems likely this year as the Iraqi government seeks to maintain some sort of diplomatic and economic relationship with the United States without alienating its powerful neighbor Iran. How this withdrawal is managed will help determine future US influence not only in Iraq but in the Middle East as a whole.
    Iranian support for Prime Minister-designate Mustafa al-Kadhimi—who has had good relations with the United States—appears to be predicated on his agreeing to negotiate a new Status of Forces agreement (SFA) with Washington, which aims to remove the bulk of the several thousand US troops still deployed in Iraq.
    The Americans’ mission was ostensibly to prevent the resurgence of the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) and to train Iraqi armed forces. However, the US jeopardized their continued presence in the country by breaching the terms of a 2008 SFA; they targeted Iran-backed Shia militias and the leader of Iran’s Quds Force, Qasem Soleimani, on Iraqi soil after a spate of attacks on American military and diplomatic targets last year. Even if the US actions were justified both to defend Americans and to deter future attacks, they represented a significant escalation in the rules of the game—an unprecedented targeting of a senior Iranian official in a foreign country. 
    The attack near Baghdad, when Soleimani was on an official visit, put Iraq in an untenable position. Iraq cannot afford to alienate a powerful neighbor with which it shares a 1,400-kilometer border and which has deep relations with a variety of Iraqi armed groups. If forced to choose, Baghdad will choose Iran, not the United States. It is, therefore, not in US interests to force Iraq to make such a choice.
    While Tehran has long sought an exit of US forces from Iraq, Iran-backed militias did not attack US forces in Iraq while the US remained in compliance with the 2015 nuclear deal. The situation deteriorated after the US withdrew unilaterally from that deal in 2018 and sought to put a total embargo on Iran’s oil exports in 2019. That was when Iran commenced a series of retaliatory actions in the Persian Gulf and Iraq that prompted the assassination of Soleimani in early 2020. Also killed by the drone strike near Baghdad airport, were several Iraqis, including Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, the leader of the Kataib Hezbollah militia and deputy commander of all of the Popular Mobilization Forces that had battled ISIS. The assassinations led the Iraqi parliament to pass a non-binding resolution expelling American forces.
    Tensions abated somewhat after Tehran accidentally shot down a Ukrainian civilian airliner on January 8, mistaking it for a hostile US missile. The outbreak of the coronavirus in Iran and its neighbors also took attention away from US-Iran strains. However, a second spate of tit-for-tat attacks occurred in March, leading to the death of two more Americans and a British citizen, as well as three Iraqi soldiers, an Iraqi civilian, and several militia members. US forces have now been withdrawn from three isolated outposts in Iraq and consolidated in the relatively safe Kurdish city of Erbil and at the al-Assad air base outside Baghdad. The United States also brought in Patriot missile batteries to defend these bases against militia rockets.
    This author has argued elsewhere that the decision to kill Soleimani and Muhandis was an overreaction to Iranian provocations that would make a long-term US military presence in Iraq very difficult—if not untenable. That the crisis came at a time when Iraqis had been protesting in the streets against Iran’s excessive influence in their country made assassination even more strategically questionable. Overnight, the issue became the United States, not Iran.
    However, it is still possible to retain US influence in Iraq and to offer Iraqis an alternative to complete domination by Iran. This goal would be advanced by an effort to de-escalate tensions with Tehran; at a minimum, to deal with any provocation by Iran-backed groups in a way that does not humiliate Iraqi politicians by violating their country’s sovereignty.
    Ideally, the United States should re-examine its policy of “maximum pressure” toward Iran, which has not and will not achieve its stated goals. Iran is more, not less, aggressive in the region, continuing its development of ballistic missiles—including its first successful satellite launch—and has accelerated its nuclear program. More pressure will either lead to war, strengthen Iranian hardliners, or both. Even a botched initial response to the coronavirus does not appear to have increased the chances for regime change. If anything, these crises have increased the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps’ economic and political dominance. 
    The United States could use the pandemic as an opportunity to make goodwill gestures toward Iran. While the Iranian government has rebuffed such offers, they resonate with the Iranian people, whose views of America and its citizens have historically been much more positive. The neutral US reaction to the first transaction by INSTEX was a good first step and further guidance from OFAC facilitating the supply of medicine and medical devices to Tehran was welcome. Iran should, also, be allowed to receive the emergency loan it requested from the International Monetary Fund and have access to revenue frozen in foreign banks for medical supplies.
    However, even in the absence of any real improvement in US-Iran ties, it should still be possible to remove Iraq from the middle of hostilities. This will oblige the United States to significantly reduce its forces in Iraq and restrict the remaining troops’ role to training and counter-ISIS operations. Iran, in turn, should restrain its Iraqi proxies from attacking US targets and give Kadhimi a solid chance to stand up a new government.
    Since 2003, little has happened in Iraqi politics without Iran playing a role, which is predictable, given Iran’s long association with the Iraqi Shia and Kurds that opposed the rule of Saddam Hussein. The US lost opportunities to cooperate with or, at least, avoid antagonizing Iran, swayed by those in the administration who hubristically believed that they could instigate regime change in Tehran. Other mistakes—such as dissolving the Iraqi army, failing to protect Iraqi infrastructure from looting, and installing a Lebanon-like system in Iraq, with top positions for ethno-religious factions—doomed the country to sectarian strife and increased Iran’s ability to manipulate political developments. Nevertheless, as memories of the 2003 invasion fade, young Iraqis are more focused on constructing a less sectarian society that delivers jobs and other tangible economic benefits. They resent Iran’s meddling and want to reconnect with the Arab world and beyond.

    The United States can support this trend by keeping Iraq out of its fight with Iran to make it easier for Iraqi politicians, businesspeople, and security officials to maintain some sort of constructive relationship with Americans. US intervention in Iraq has cost thousands of American and tens of thousands of Iraqi lives as well as billions in US taxpayer funds. For those who died and sacrificed on all sides since the invasion, the United States should find a way to withdraw most of its military forces with dignity. Otherwise, US credibility and influence throughout the region will fade to the benefit of Iran, China, Russia and ISIS.

    The following sites updated: