This is Richard D. Wolff talking about the economy and how Covid is impacting it.
And this is a video of him speaking about the historical attacks the US has carried out on Latin America.
This is C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot" for Thursday:
Thursday, September 24, 2020. Simplistic stories populate the US media while Iraq's president has a journalist arrested and this somehow is ignored despite the coverage he receives for his UN speech.
At THE HILL, Daniel Depetres argues:
Indeed, Washington's fixation on Iran prevents President Trump's stated desire to extricate U.S. troops from conflicts in the Middle East. Thousands of U.S. service members remain in Iraq and Syria to contain a country that, at best, is a mid-level power in the region.
While approximately 2,500 U.S. troops are scheduled to withdraw from Iraq over the next two months, 3,000 Americans will continue to operate in the country with a muddled, expansive mission of countering Iranian interference on Iraqi soil. President Donald Trump admitted as much during a 2019 interview. He told CBS News that U.S. forces would remain stationed at the al-Asad base to monitor Iranian activities in Iraq. Fast-forward to today, and the U.S. objective in Iraq is largely the same. According to Gen. Kenneth McKenzie, the top U.S. military commander in the Middle East, U.S. troops are in Iraq in part to check Iran's influence — influence, ironically, the Iranians have accumulated in their next-door neighbor thanks in significant part to the counterproductive, destructive U.S. invasion of Iraq over 17 years ago. "[W]e remain focused on Iran as our central problem," McKenzie told reporters last month.
As a result of this mindset, thousands of U.S. troops are stuck in Iraq, dodging rockets and mortars every month, to watch a nation — Iran — whose GDP is slightly larger than the state of Michigan and whose ability to project influence in the Middle East is limited by its weakness as a military power as well as its neighbors' incentive to resist Iranian expansion.
Is that true? Because it doesn't sound true. Over at COUNTERPUNCH, Medea Benjamin and Nicholas J.S. Davies argue:
If the Democrats manage to push Joe Biden over the finish line in November’s election, he will find himself presiding over a decadent, declining empire. He will either continue the policies that have led the American empire to decadence and decline, or seize the moment to move our nation into a new phase: a transition to a peaceful and sustainable post-imperial future.
The foreign policy team Biden assembles will be key, including his choice for Secretary of Defense. But Biden’s rumored favorite, Michele Flournoy, is not the gal for this historic moment. Yes, she would break the glass ceiling as the first female Secretary of Defense, but, as one of the architects of our endless wars and record military budgets, she would only help to steer the American empire farther down its current path of lost wars, corrupt militarism and terminal decline.
Is that true? It also doesn't ring true. In the first commentary, we're being told that, but for Iran, US troops would be out of Iraq. In the second commentary, we're being told beware Michele Flournoy.
We've warned against Michele here for over a decade. We covered her appearances before Congress. She's a frothing at the mouth War Hawk and she's got that look that Joe likes, that look that he likes to flirt with and Michele's always loved to flirt back. That was one of the objections lodged against her, years later, when Barack was briefly considering her for Secretary of Defense -- (a) where would her loyalties be (to the president or the vice president) and (b) the press that had rolled their eyes over the interaction between Michele and Joe might not be so reticent about covering this if the same behavior was taking place between the Secretary of Defense and the vice president. Yes, Michele would be a danger as Secretary of Defense. But that's not really the issue. Yes, US policy towards Iran impacts on the decision to keep US troops in Iraq. But that's not the only thing keeping them there.
Both of the arguments above are simplistic. And I'm left to wonder: Did no one read Kimberly Dozier's report at TIME this week? Because if you read it, there's no need to single-strand theory this complex issue.
Michele Flournoy? She's the least of the problems in a Biden administration. Kimberly interviews the people advising him. People like scum of the earth Brett McGurk. All the War Hawks. They explain that a President Joe Biden wouldn't have 'forever wars' -- instead, he'd just have US troops in Iraq and the rest of the Middle East for his entire term. They don't like the label 'forever wars,' apparently. To zoom in on Iraq, Joe's advisers don't offer Iran as a reason. Again, it is a reason -- "a" -- not "the." And pretending it's the sole reason leads to simplistic and sloppy writing.
Biden’s former National Security Advisor Colin Kahl, now an informal advisor to the Biden campaign, says he believes the former Vice President’s regional military strategy would entail keeping a small U.S. special operations presence in places like Iraq and Afghanistan, with the permission of those governments. “Where we have enduring counterterrorism missions, we’ll keep a few thousand troops,” Kahl tells TIME.
This “indirect approach” means working through local forces, but also keeps enough U.S. troops on the ground to act as “sensors,” Kahl says, able to assess the stability of the country and their partner military’s skill, and to fill in gaps in intelligence with U.S. drones and other technology. Though Biden has “very modest views on what we can accomplish through military action across the greater Middle East,” Kahl says, the Democratic nominee also believes “that we have to stay laser-focused” on terrorist organizations like ISIS and al-Qaeda “that threaten the American homeland.”
Kahl compares the two times the U.S. defeated al-Qaeda in Iraq, first under President George W. Bush, and again against the organization’s next incarnation as ISIS.
Is Dozier lazy in her typing or is that last sentence above reflective of her own thinking? ISIS was not the "next incarnation" of al Qaeda. That's takes a lot of stupidity to type that sentence -- whether it's Dozier's own opinion or just that of Kahl.
Brookings Daniel L. Byman April 29, 2015, testifying before the Subcommittee on Counterterterrorism and Intelligence of the House Committee on Homeland Security:
The Islamic State’s influence and model are spreading. Even in many Muslim countries where the Islamic State does not have a strong presence, its rise is radicalizing their populations, fomenting sectarianism, and making a troubled region worse.1 The Islamic State’s successes in Syria and Iraq alarmed many observers in Washington and prompted the Obama administration to overcome its longstanding hesitation to become more militarily involved in Iraq and Syria. But there is one person for whom the Islamic State’s rise is even more frightening: Ayman al-Zawahiri. Although the Al Qaeda leader might be expected to rejoice at the emergence of a strong jihadist group that delights in beheading Americans (among other horrors), in reality the Islamic State’s rise risks Al Qaeda’s demise. When Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi rejected Al Qaeda’s authority and later declared a caliphate, he split the always-fractious jihadist movement. The two are now competing for more than the leadership of the jihadist movement: they are competing for its soul.
Who will emerge triumphant is not clear. However, the implications of one side’s victory or of continuing division are profound for the Muslim world and for the United States, shaping the likely targets of the jihadist movement, its ability to achieve its goals, and the overall stability of the Middle East. The United States can exploit this split, both to decrease the threat and to weaken the movement as a whole.
No, they are not the same group and ISIS is not and was not al Qaeda's next incarnation.
But go through Dozier's article and grasp that if Joe Biden becomes president, the forever wars go on. Grasp that Michele, not quoted in the article, is the least of the problems. Did they seize on her, Medea and Nicholas, because she is a "her"?
I find Brett McGurk much more frightening. He was less so when Bully Boy Bush occupied the White House. No one took him seriously then. Well, Gina Chon did. The press coverage of Iraq, remember that, how we all decried it? Turns out, when not suffering "blue balls" (his term) in Iraq, married Brett was sleeping with married Gina -- not married to each other -- yeah, it matters we'll briefly note why that is. And, in exchange, Gina was letting Brett vet her copy and shape her coverage of events. He was part of the US government. Now when this came out -- and it came out here first not at, as POLITICO tries to pretend, as some DC paper/website -- this was a huge story, right?
A reporter let a government official alter her copy. She slept with him and let him decide the coverage of Iraq. This was not independent reporting and it was yet another story of corruption in the Bully Boy Bush era and administration. So it was big news, right?
Wrong. Hillary Clinton loves a cheating man and she brought Brett in to Barack's administration.
The scandal broke when Brett was nominated by Barack to be the US Ambassador to Iraq.
That could not happen. And one US senator (I would give public credit but they don't want it) made it very clear to Barack that there would be multiple Democrats objecting to Brett's nomination.
Gina Chon was married at the time to someone else. (Brett and Gina left their spouses to take up with the only people on the earth who can stand them -- each other.)
In a country where 'honor' killings still take place, putting a man who slept with a married woman in charge of the US Embassy would make every Iraqi woman going into that Embassy a potential target. Of Brett? No. Of fundamentalist Iraqis who were already upset that a foreigner like Brett was in the Green Zone and making policy for their country. Under Bully Boy Bush, the US had already destroyed the rights of Iraqi women. As the Democratic senator put it to Barack, the Senate would not just sit by while women were further sidelined in Iraq. (The Iraqi press and Arabic social media had covered the scandal -- the one that was largely ignored here in the US.)
The always laughable CJR pretends a journalistic watchdog. But they refused to cover what came out -- that Gina had allowed Brett to vet and dictate her copy. THE WALL STREET JOURNAL fired her for this in the midst of the scandal -- and I've heard the tape of that meeting and noted that in real time. She was fired.
CJR stands for COLUMBIA JOURNALISM REVIEW. But they avoided this story. Why? Because it was now linked to precious Barack Obama. Can't talk reality when that happens. They finally were forced to cover it because one of their idiots went to town on some female reporter who had slept with a local official. Our own Martha took to the CJR comments to point out the rank hypocrisy and so CJR did a tiny paragraph or two on the issue.
Brett McGurk was always a dangerous person. But he's much more dangerous than Michele because, due to Barack, the press treats Brett like a wise and trusted person. He's neither wise nor to be trusted. He egged on the Iraq War and that's why Bully Boy Bush put him over various programs in Iraq.
He is not to be trusted.
I don't trust, honestly, any of the men in Dozier's report. They're all War Hawks. It's interesting, isn't it, how CODEPINK's Medea always teams up with a man to write. I guess she's allergic to women, is that it? And when she does do something it's against Condi Rice or Michele or Hillary or . . .
And I'm not saying any of those women should be off limits. I am saying we are seeing a pattern of Medea going after women. Again, Michele's not Brett McGurk. When has Medea called out Brett? Did she call out Brett and Gina? No, she didn't. You had a government official dictating to a reporter what would be written -- and this was what would be written about a war. Yet 'anti-war' Medea never said "boo" and never has since. But now she wants you to know that we must all be wary of Michele. Not a word about Brett but yet again focus on this woman. It's always a woman.
From June 7, 2012, this is Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts "Standing Behind McGurk"
Isaiah's latest The World Today Just Nuts "Standing Behind McGurk." White House spokersperson Jay Carney declares, "We continue to stand behind Brett McGurk." David Plouffe adds, "Mainly because if we stood in front of him, we're scared he'd _____ us." Isaiah archives his comics at The World Today Just Nuts.
Michele will be called out. She doesn't have Barack's stamp-of-approval. Brett's gotten a pass so far. Medea really needs to take a look at herself in the mirror.
Yesterday, Iraqi President Barham Salih spoke to the United Nations.
Before and after the emergence of the coronavirus, Iraq faced epidemics that were “no less deadly and dangerous to the world – terrorism and corruption,” President Barham Salih told world leaders in a pre-recorded address to the UN General Assembly.
“If we have defeated the terrorists militarily, the war is far from won,” the President told the Assembly’s annual debate, being held virtually this year due to the coronavirus pandemic. Indeed, he said, Iraq’s war against terrorism was continuing.
Mr. Salih warned against underestimating the danger of terrorism and stressed the all too real possibilities “of its return and the reorganization of its ranks”, and added that “any complacency, or preoccupation with conflicts in the region, will be an outlet for the return of these deadly groups.”
He went on to denounce the “rampant corruption and interference” that had harmed his country’s national sovereignty. Such acts would also impede Iraq’s efforts to combat terrorism and extremism.
Mr. Salih stressed the need to isolate the corrupt elements involved in capital flight. Faced with the scourge of corruption, the President called for the creation of an international coalition on the model of the coalition against terrorism.
He further urged the international community to stand with Iraq so that the crimes committed against the Yazidis, including the crimes of genocide, do not happen again. He detailed his recent meeting with Yazidi women, during which they told him of “the indescribable suffering” they continue to endure.
COVID-19 and misinformation
Calling on developed countries to support developing ones, Mr. Salih stressed the need to fight misinformation, which jeopardizes the lives of millions. Early planning can guarantee equity in the distribution of a COVID‑19 vaccine, he said, stressing that the international community must prevent its distribution from becoming a commercial act.
Within the limited health‑care infrastructure resources of his country, he said, Iraq is fighting the pandemic, while continuing its ongoing battle against the scourges of terrorism and corruption.
Change in Iraq
Forty years of war, blockades and terrorism, he reflected, is the lamentable history that Iraq carries. The plummeting oil prices in the global market and the economic havoc wreaked by the pandemic have exacerbated this burden.
Around a year ago, the country saw a popular movement in which citizens expressed a desire for change and dialogue. Pointing to reforms undertaken in response, he said that a new Government was formed in 2020.
The Iraqi people wish to usher in a new political age, he said, noting the intention to hold early elections in 2021. Calling for technical assistance from the United Nations, he said, “we do not want Iraq to become a playground for external forces.”
PBS' NEWSHOUR published the full speech on their YOUTUBE channel.
The western press loves Salih. He's trying to thwart upcoming elections, he's corrupt and so much more, but they love him. Especially in the US, they love Salih. He's not the saint they portray him as. The Committee To Protect Journalists issued the following yesterday:
New York, September 23, 2020 – Kurdish authorities in Iraq should immediately release journalist Bahroz Jaafer, drop all charges against him, and allow the press to cover and write critically about politicians without fear of detention or legal action, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.
Yesterday, police arrested Jaafer, a columnist for the independent news website Peyser Press, in the northeastern Iraqi Kurdish city of Sulaymaniyah and transferred him to the Azmar police station, where he remains in detention, according to news reports and a statement by the Metro Center for Journalists’ Rights and Advocacy, a local press freedom group.
Authorities charged Jaafer with criminal defamation, according to the Metro Center. If tried and convicted under Article 433 of Iraq’s penal code, Jaafer could face up to one year in jail and a fine of up to 100 dinars (about 8 US cents).
The arrest was sparked by a defamation complaint filed by the lawyer of Iraqi President Barham Salih, in response to a column by Jaafer criticizing the president, according to those reports.
“Iraqi authorities should develop a thicker skin and stop resorting to the criminal code to stifle critical reporting and commentary,” said CPJ’s Middle East and North Africa representative, Ignacio Miguel Delgado. “Iraqi President Salih should immediately drop the defamation complaint against journalist Bahroz Jaafer, and local authorities should release him unconditionally.”
On August 29, Jaafer published a column titled “How much longer will the president be driving the wrong side?” in which he criticized Salih, also an ethnic Kurd, for allegedly failing to support Iraqi Kurdistan amid disputes with the national government over land, oil, and the autonomous region’s budget.
Karwan Anwar, head of the Sulaymaniyah branch of the government-funded Kurdistan Journalists’ Syndicate, told local broadcaster Rudaw that Jaafer, a member of the syndicate, is required to remain in detention until a hearing scheduled for September 30, unless he is granted bail beforehand.
The Iraqi president’s media office did not immediately reply to CPJ’s request for comment sent via messaging app. Dindar Zebari, the Kurdish regional government’s coordinator for international advocacy, did not immediately reply to CPJ’s emailed request for comment.
Salih's done nothing to help the Iraqi people -- that includes the Iraqi activists. Sunday we noted the kidnapping of activist Sajjad al-Iraqi.
Mystery still shrouds the case of Sajjad al-Iraqi, an activist who was kidnapped last Saturday by a group of gunmen in the southern Dhi Qar province, Iraq. His predicament has transformed into a security and social crisis that shook the Levantine nation.
In Nasiriyah, where al-Iraqi was kidnapped, tribal chiefs were conflicted over Baghdad dispatching anti-terrorism forces to look for the abducted activist and to arrest the perpetrators. Some welcomed the initiative, while others rejected it.
Despite security taskforces having identifying the abductors, locating their residences and issuing arrest warrants for two of them, no tangible progress was made on the case.
Iraqi activists are this week gathering in the capital Baghdad to mark the anniversary of the country's bloody anti-government uprising, which saw hundreds of protesters killed by security forces.
October 1 will mark one year since demonstrators first took to the streets calling for the resignation of Prime Minister Adel Abdel Mahdi and an end to government corruption and economic mismanagement.
The anti-government protests were met with a heavy-handed response by security forces and Iran-linked militias, with tear gas and live fire killing more than 700 demonstrators and injuring thousands
Violence against protesters further galvanised the movement, transforming it into a wider anti-sectarian call for an end to damaging Iranian and American influences in the country.
The following sites updated: