i really hate political parties. everywhere. all of them. on some level i think they make people stupid. i think they blind people to seeing outside of their little ideological bubble. it keeps people from seeing the facts. even journalists who are supposed to be reporting. now i have no idea what ewen macaskill’s political affiliation is and as far as i know he is not american, but in the guardian said today here is what he says about barack obama’s pledge to withdraw troops from iraq:
Of the 142,000 US troops in Iraq, between 92,000 and 107,000 are to leave by August next year. The mission at that point will change, from combat to one that deals primarily with training Iraqi forces, supporting the Iraqi government and engaging in counter-terrorism.
His delivery contrasted with the premature celebrations of President George Bush (right) almost six years ago when, shortly after the invasion, he spoke on an aircraft carrier beneath the now infamous banner reading ‘mission accomplished’.
He had gone to North Carolina to bury the biggest and most divisive issue of the Bush era, the failed neo-conservative experiment to create a model Arab country that would be a beacon for the rest. He did that with the words: “Let me say this as plainly as I can – by August 31 2010, our combat mission in Iraq will end.”
In doing so, Obama fulfilled one of the central pledges of his election campaign.
ummmm. actually no. this was not his campaign promise. obama promised that there would be a complete withdrawal by march 2008. now that has changed to most will be withdrawn by 2010. here is jamal dajani on mosaic tv giving us a more accurate picture of what obama promised and what how that campaign pledge has been altered:
macaskill adds another point in his article, that of defense secretary robert gates and his desire to keep a military presence, including its military bases:
The US defence secretary, Robert Gates, who had served in the post under Bush and was kept in office by Obama, introduced an element of doubt to the president’s insistence that all US troops will be gone. Talking with reporters after the speech, Gates said he would like a “some very modest-sized presence for training and helping” Iraqi forces after 2011, but only if the Iraqi government requested this and there was no indication that it would.
patrick cockburn gives us a more accurate assessment of what will happen, which is more in line with gates than with obama’s so-called promises (which, for those drinking the koolaid, can clearly be counted on as always already broken):
Under the terms of the new treaty, the Americans would retain the long-term use of more than 50 bases in Iraq. American negotiators are also demanding immunity from Iraqi law for US troops and contractors, and a free hand to carry out arrests and conduct military activities in Iraq without consulting the Baghdad government.
of course, jeremy scahill has a much different read on the situation as well, which is more accurate and smarter than others assessing obama’s real intentions in iraq:
Then there’s the monstrous U.S. embassy unveiled last month in Baghdad, the largest of any nation anywhere in the history of the planet and itself resembling a military base. Maintaining this fortified city will require a sizable armed U.S. presence in Baghdad and will regularly place U.S. diplomats in armed convoys that put Iraqi civilian lives in jeopardy.
Whether this job is performed by State Department Diplomatic Security or mercenaries from the company formerly known as Blackwater (or else a corporation more acceptable to the Obama administration), the U.S. will have a substantial paramilitary force regularly escorting U.S. VIPs around Iraq — a proven recipe for civilian deaths and injuries. Obama’s speech on Friday did not even address the question of military contractors — a crucial omission given that their presence rivals that of U.S. troops by a ratio of over 1-to-1.
Finally, the Status of Forces Agreement, which supposedly lays out a timetable for U.S. withdrawal, contains a gaping loophole that leaves open the possibility of a continuation of the occupation and a sustained presence of U.S. forces well beyond 2011, “upon request by the government of Iraq.” Article 27 of the SOFA allows the U.S. to undertake military action, “or any other measure,” inside Iraq’s borders “In the event of any external or internal threat or aggression against Iraq.” Could this mean an election where the wrong candidate or party wins? What is the definition of a threat?
….Adopting the Bush Narrative
Beyond the headline-generating news, Obama’s speech at Camp Lejeune delivered a number of lines — wrapped in laudatory rhetoric — that could have been delivered by Bush himself.
“I want to be very clear,” Obama told the military audience. “We sent our troops to Iraq to do away with Saddam Hussein’s regime — and you got the job done.” Perhaps it bears remembering that “removing Saddam” was justification two or three offered by the Bush administration after the WMD fraud was exposed.
“We kept our troops in Iraq to help establish a sovereign government,” Obama went on, “and you got the job done.” (The idea that Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki regime is either sovereign or a government is hotly debated in Iraq.) “And we will leave the Iraqi people with a hard-earned opportunity to live a better life — that is your achievement; that is the prospect that you have made possible.”
As much as could be said about this, perhaps the best response was delivered on Friday by Washington Post correspondent Thomas Ricks, who knows the situation in Iraq about as well as any journalist.
“We won’t know for 10 or 15 years whether we actually did something right, even in removing Saddam Hussein,” he said on MSNBC. “We may very well end up with a strongman, stronger than Saddam, closer to Tehran and certainly will be anti-American. That’s in some ways the best-case scenario if that country holds together.”
Regardless of what happens down the line, the world knows the truth about the lies that both Democrats and Republicans promoted in support of Bush’s war against Iraq. Rather than inspire hope among Iraqis, the U.S. occupation has devastated their country and opened Iraq’s gates for unprecedented violence and instability in their country and the region.
Obama, the candidate, used to riff on these truths on the campaign trail. The contradiction between President Obama’s speech at Camp Lejeune and his rhetoric before he was elected should serve as a warning to those who take his words at face value. But more important, combined with his plan to escalate the war in Afghanistan, Obama’s adoption of key lies from Bush’s Iraq narrative should be seen as a dangerous indicator of things to come.
for those who still think that obama is somehow different or better than bush, who are deluded because they think that the closing of guantanamo is a sign that he is the new and improved version of american hegemony, check out how things have become worse for prisoners in guantanamo since he took office:
Abuse of prisoners at Guantanamo Bay has worsened sharply since President Barack Obama took office as prison guards “get their kicks in” before the camp is closed, according to a lawyer who represents detainees.
Abuses began to pick up in December after Obama was elected, human rights lawyer Ahmed Ghappour told Reuters. He cited beatings, the dislocation of limbs, spraying of pepper spray into closed cells, applying pepper spray to toilet paper and over-forcefeeding detainees who are on hunger strike.
The Pentagon said on Monday that it had received renewed reports of prisoner abuse during a recent review of conditions at Guantanamo, but had concluded that all prisoners were being kept in accordance with the Geneva Conventions.
“According to my clients, there has been a ramping up in abuse since President Obama was inaugurated,” said Ghappour, a British-American lawyer with Reprieve, a legal charity that represents 31 detainees at Guantanamo.
and just to prove that america, like its terrorist partner in crime, has the right to be racist, it has officially announced that it will boycott the world conference on racism, also known as durban 2:
The Conference Against Racism, to be held in Geneva in April, is a follow-up to the conference held in the South African town of Durban in 2001.
On Friday, a US delegation taking part in the preparatory talks in Geneva, said the draft resolution was unacceptable.
The US and Israeli delegations walked out of the 2001 meeting in protest against the resolution which likened Zionism – the movement to establish and maintain a Jewish state – to racism.
Israel and Canada have already announced they will boycott the conference, which is known as Durban II.
these are reasons why americans should join answer’s protest on march 21st. because things have not changed. things are getting worse:
1 The war in Afghanistan is expanding and widening. President Obama announced last week that another 17,000 troops are on their way to Afghanistan. Only 18 percent of Afghanis support this escalation and only 34 percent of the people of the United States approve of the added troops despite the president’s popularity, according to the Washington Post/ABC poll announced on February 17, 2009. This is a colonial war. The president of Afghanistan, Hamid Karzai, was not involved in the decision to add more occupying troops into his country. Rather, he was “informed of the deployments in a telephone call with Obama” on February 17, according to the Washington Post (February 18, 2009).
2 About 350,000 U.S. troops and U.S.-paid private contractors (mercenaries) still occupy Iraq. The Iraqi people want the occupation to end. Gen. Ray Odierno, the top U.S. commander in Iraq, is insisting that only two of the 14 combat brigades in Iraq exit in 2009. The war and occupation of Iraq costs $430 million each day. If the U.S. government were to end the military occupation, any and all future Iraqi governments would return to a position of political independence from the economic and political dictates of the United States. Iraq’s anti-colonial legacy has created a political reality that prohibits the country from becoming like Kuwait or Saudi Arabia–an out-and-out dependency on U.S. imperialism. That is the real reason that the U.S. government fears a complete disengagement from Iraq and an end to its military occupation.
3 Israel’s Siege of Gaza remains in place, with the full backing of Washington. The U.S. government has continued to fund Israel’s war and blockade against the people of Gaza. The Pentagon provided the funding, and technical and logistical support for the establishment of the Israeli war machine, including its massive cluster and white phosphorous bomb arsenal, and the country’s large cache of nuclear bombs.
4 The new Justice Department has announced that it will continue the policy of renditions, meaning the CIA and Pentagon will capture and kidnap individuals anywhere in the world and transfer them to other countries. “The Obama administration appears to have determined that the rendition program was one component of the Bush administration’s war on terrorism that it could not afford to discard.” (LA Times, Feb. 1, 2009)
5 The new administration has stepped up the air strikes that are killing an increasingly large number of Pakistani civilians. Unmanned drone bombing attacks violate Pakistani sovereignty and are creating an ocean of resentment and anger inside of Pakistan. The U.S. government has no right to carry out these drone bombing strikes in Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen. The people of the United States would not accept the legitimacy of other governments ordering air attacks in the United States. We must openly and loudly reject such tactics by the government that speaks in our name and spends our tax dollars for such aggression.
6 The real Pentagon war budget is over $1.3 trillion annually. This is greater than the combined total of most of the other countries in the world, including all the NATO countries, and Russia and China. Some label this “waste spending” because it spends precious resources to build exotic and high cost weapons, a new generation of nuclear weapons, and space-based war fighting capabilities, while filling the coffers of the big investors (i.e., the biggest banks) in the war corporations. Pentagon contracting is often based on guaranteed “cost-plus” contracts that reward price gouging since corporate profit is based on a fixed percentage above their expenses. Another label for this process is “extreme corruption” and theft from the public treasury.
7 More than 20 million people are now unemployed and under-employed. Nine million families are either in foreclosure or are at risk of foreclosure this year, according to the statistics just released by the government. Forty-seven million people are without health care. College tuition hikes are soaring and millions of students are at risk of being forced out of school. The people want change. They don’t want a simple tweaking of Bush’s criminal foreign policies. They want to put people’s needs before corporate greed. They want an end to wars of aggression that are wreaking havoc, death and destruction abroad, and diverting urgently needed resources in the service of semi-colonialism and Empire.