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davidswanson Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Aug-20-10 08:17 AM
Original message
Sorry for Calling Obama a Liar on Iraq ... Too Soon
If I'm going to properly confess my sins, I'll need to start at the beginning. In the beginning were the campaign promises, and let's just say that only flies and loyal partisans could stand the smell of them.

"I will promise you this, that if we have not gotten our troops out by the time I am president, it is the first thing I will do. I will get our troops home. We will bring an end to this war. You can take that to the bank." Thus spoke candidate Obama, and he hit the same theme over and over again at countless campaign events.

When President Bush failed to pull out of Iraq, Senator Obama in 2007 said that Congress should overrule the president and end the war in order to represent the American people. Amen, brother!

What candidate Obama explained in serious interviews was a little different. He said repeatedly that he would begin a withdrawal his first month in office, pull out one to two brigades per month and be done in 16 months. That would have been back in May.

Of course, Obama did not do that. He also dropped his objections to the unconstitutional treaty Bush and Maliki had drawn up and ceased suggesting that the United States Senate should exercise its constitutional duty to consent to or reject any treaties made with foreign (even puppet) nations. President Obama did, however, lay out a schedule for withdrawal of all but 50,000 "non-combat troops" by the end of this month (August 2010).

In May Obama delayed part of that withdrawal, and I dared to suggest he was not being straight with us and was scrapping the withdrawal plan. The uproar at the Democratic websites was tremendous. I was obliged to withdraw my withdrawal comment. I did take notice, however, in July when Obama shipped more "non-troop" mercenaries to Iraq.

Then on Tuesday, I got this bit of news from Gareth Porter:

"Seventeen months after President Barack Obama pledged to withdraw all combat brigades from Iraq by Sep. 1, 2010, he quietly abandoned that pledge Monday, admitting implicitly that such combat brigades would remain until the end of 2011. Obama declared in a speech to disabled U.S. veterans in Atlanta that 'America's combat mission in Iraq' would end by the end of August, to be replaced by a mission of 'supporting and training Iraqi security forces'. That statement was in line with the pledge he had made on Feb. 27, 2009, when he said, 'Let me say this as plainly as I can: by Aug. 31, 2010, our combat mission in Iraq will end.' In the sentence preceding that pledge, however, he had said, 'I have chosen a timeline that will remove our combat brigades over the next 18 months.' Obama said nothing in his speech Monday about withdrawing 'combat brigades' or 'combat troops' from Iraq until the end of 2011. Even the concept of 'ending the U.S. combat mission' may be highly misleading, much like the concept of 'withdrawing U.S. combat brigades' was in 2009. Under the administration's definition of the concept, combat operations will continue after August 2010, but will be defined as the secondary role of U.S. forces in Iraq. The primary role will be to 'advise and assist' Iraqi forces.

"An official who spoke with IPS on condition that his statements would be attributed to a 'senior administration official' acknowledged that the 50,000 U.S. troops remaining in Iraq beyond the deadline will have the same combat capabilities as the combat brigades that have been withdrawn. The official also acknowledged that the troops will engage in some combat but suggested that the combat would be 'mostly' for defensive purposes. That language implied that there might be circumstances in which U.S. forces would carry out offensive operations as well. IPS has learned, in fact, that the question of what kind of combat U.S. troops might become involved in depends in part on the Iraqi government, which will still be able to request offensive military actions by U.S. troops if it feels it necessary.

"Obama's jettisoning of one of his key campaign promises and of a high-profile pledge early in his administration without explicit acknowledgement highlights the way in which language on national security policy can be manipulated for political benefit with the acquiescence of the news media. Obama's apparent pledge of withdrawal of combat troops by the Sep. 1 deadline in his Feb. 27, 2009, speech generated headlines across the commercial news media. That allowed the administration to satisfy its anti-war Democratic Party base on a pivotal national security policy issue. At the same time, however, it allowed Obama to back away from his campaign promise on Iraq withdrawal, and to signal to those political and bureaucratic forces backing a long- term military presence in Iraq that he had no intention of pulling out all combat troops at least until the end of 2011. He could do so because the news media were inclined to let the apparent Obama withdrawal pledge stand as the dominant narrative line, even though the evidence indicated it was a falsehood.

"Only a few days after the Obama speech, Secretary of Defence Robert Gates was more forthright about the policy. In an appearance on Meet the Press Mar. 1, 2009, Gates said the 'transition force' remaining after Aug. 31, 2010 would have 'a very different kind of mission', and that the units remaining in Iraq 'will be characterised differently'. 'They will be called advisory and assistance brigades,' said Gates. 'They won't be called combat brigades.' But 'advisory and assistance brigades' were configured with the same combat capabilities as the 'combat brigade teams' which had been the basic U.S. military unit of combat organisation for six years, as IPS reported in March 20009. . . .

". . . The 'senior administration official' told IPS that Obama is still 'committed to withdrawal of all U.S. forces by the end of 2011'. That is the withdrawal deadline in the U.S.-Iraq withdrawal agreement of November 2008. But the same military and Pentagon officials who prevailed on Obama to back down on his withdrawal pledge also have pressed in the past for continued U.S. military presence in Iraq beyond 2011, regardless of the U.S. withdrawal agreement with the Iraqi government. In November 2008, after Obama's election, Gen. Odierno was asked by Washington Post correspondent Tom Ricks 'what the U.S. military presence would look like around 2014 or 2015'. Odierno said he 'would like to see a force probably around 30,000 or so, 35,000', which would still be carrying out combat operations. . . . In July, Odierno suggested that a U.N. peacekeeping force might be needed in Kirkuk after 2011, along with a hint that a continued U.S. presence there might be requested by the Iraqi government."

This excellent report by Porter followed Dave Lindorff's reaction on Monday to the same news:

"I was listening to NPR's 'Morning Edition' broadcast this morning in the car, and I heard a reporter say that President Obama was 'redefining' the American role in Iraq, now that he had brought the number of US forces in that country down to 'only' 50,000 troops, and that 'combat operations' would be ending effective this month. The remaining forces, the reporter announced, with no hint of irony and no explanation, would 'only' be engaged in helping to train Iraqi troops and police, and in 'counter-insurgency' operations. Excuse me, but aren't we at war in Afghanistan, and isn't that operation, involving about 200,000 US, Australian, and NATO troops (excluding the Dutch, who are pulling out after the country's participation in it brought down the conservative government), called a 'counter-insurgency' campaign? Isn't counter-insurgency by definition a kind of 'combat'?

"WTF? This crap is called journalism?

"By the way, about that 50,000 number. For the record, that is a lot of soldiers. It is for one thing two times the number of US troops stationed in South Korea. It is twice the number of troops that were employed in the invasion of Panama in 1989. It is about the number of troops the US had in Vietnam in early 1964 after the first round of escalation by then President Lyndon Johnson . . . .

". . . The Obama administration and the Pentagon are trying to trick a war-weary American public into believing that the 50,000 US troops that will be more or less permanently garrisoned in the rather permanent-looking bases that the US has constructed around Baghdad and elsewhere in Iraq will be just like the US troops lodged more or less permanently in Germany, Italy, Japan and Korea and in other countries around the world. But those troops aren't doing any fighting, except in bars, and are mostly just hanging around playing at soldiering and wasting taxpayer money on prostitutes, gambling, drinking and cars. That will not be the case for the soldiers based in Iraq, however, which is a country still torn by internecine conflicts created or unleashed by the US invasion, and which also has many armed fighters who are committed to ousting the US entirely from their occupied country. And indeed, that 50,000-troop army is actually an army of occupation. Its role in training an Iraqi army and police force, as in Afghanistan, is to create a puppet military that will do its bidding. This is fundamentally different from the role of garrisons in South Korea, Japan, Italy or Germany."

In fact, Obama is escalating troop presence in Afghanistan, while somewhat reducing it in Iraq, even though Iraq is no more peaceful or stable than Afghanistan. The different approaches are all about US politics and the stories the US corporate media and Democratic loyalists allow to be told.

Lindorff appears to have doubts that the complete withdrawal from Iraq by the end of 2011 will happen on schedule, or ever. I predicted as much the day Bush and Maliki announced the treaty, and I suggested that anyone who took it seriously should have a talk with some Native Americans. I've learned my lesson, however, and will never object to the continued presence into 2012 before it's 2012. That just wouldn't be appropriate.
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Usrename Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Aug-20-10 08:34 AM
Response to Original message
1. The prophet Orwell predicted exactly this kind of doublethink.
If uniformed soldiers are replaced by US-paid mercenaries, is it still an occupation?

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lunatica Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Aug-20-10 09:20 AM
Response to Reply #1
3. And if those mercenaries are killed is it still insurgents attacking the US?
Edited on Fri Aug-20-10 09:20 AM by lunatica
And how much are we paying for the mercenaries? Are they from Xe? Is this a privatized war now?
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Sheepshank Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Aug-20-10 09:24 AM
Response to Reply #1
4. Apparently you failed to watch one part of Avatar
the nationals can kick out mercenaries....btw there was an element of wryness in this line. Any visitor can be kicked out.

In addition, the article while denigrating the idea 50,000 troops remaining, compared them to troop population in combat zones only, and failed to use the available comparison that there are 50,000 currently in Germany. Nice way to herd the readers reader with partial information.
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RaleighNCDUer Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Aug-20-10 09:48 AM
Response to Reply #4
5. Uh, the third paragraph of Lindorf's referenced in the piece DOES
'use the available comparison that there are 50,000 currently in Germany' - making the point that NOBODY IN GERMANY IS SHOOTING AT THEM.

There is no comparison between the forces stationed in Europe and those in Iraq. There are not, and will not be, large dependent populations in Iraq, with high schools and off-base housing because it is still a war zone. Just saying they are not combat troops does not mean nobody else will be dying there.

Kudos for getting those troops out who we have gotten out, but this thing is far from over.
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SammyWinstonJack Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Aug-20-10 07:54 PM
Response to Reply #4
17. Yeah because Germany and Iraq are EXACTLY the same scenario w/regard to ongoing conflict ....
and all that jazz. :eyes:
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blindpig Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Aug-20-10 09:16 AM
Response to Original message
2. k&r for duplicity
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scheming daemons Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Aug-20-10 09:53 AM
Response to Original message
6. K&U... an impressive effort at moving the goalposts, David
Edited on Fri Aug-20-10 09:53 AM by scheming daemons

Obama kept his promise on Iraq. If you're going to quibble over it getting done in August instead of May, then you are proving your pettiness.

Also... with regards to Afghanistan.... Obama is doing exactly what he promised during the campaign. You may not like it, but you can't argue that you were "duped".
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bvar22 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Aug-20-10 06:55 PM
Response to Reply #6
12. That is incorrect.
Candidate Obama stated that he would increase troop strength in Afghanistan by 3 brigades (about 15,000) to pursue Al Qaeda in the mountainous regions of Afghanistan. THAT troop increase and mission was implemented early in 2008 to very little objection from The Left since it WAS part of the Obama campaign platform.

Obama's "SURGE" of 30,000 more troops (in addition to the 15,000), and the expansion of the WAR to Pakistan was NEVER mentioned during the campaign.
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TheKentuckian Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Aug-20-10 07:18 PM
Response to Reply #12
13. Exactly, the entire scope changed. A penny is not a pound.
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joeybee12 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Aug-20-10 09:55 AM
Response to Original message
7. You can fool some of the people some of the time, but you can fool journalists
ALL of the time.
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Skittles Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Aug-20-10 07:41 PM
Response to Reply #7
15. it's obvious many people can ALWAYS be fooled
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Ignis Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Aug-20-10 02:13 PM
Response to Original message
8. K&R. It was brave of you to respond to an obvious rule violation.
It takes real courage to press on when you know the game is rigged.

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Vincevega Donating Member (35 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Aug-21-10 09:55 PM
Response to Reply #8
24. Double standards
Exactly, why does he still have his user account, most people will get a lifetime ban if they dared to post the information contained in this journal. Btw am not suggesting that he gets banned, but the administrators need to start treating everyone equally and if that means a ban, so be it.
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xocet Donating Member (699 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Aug-20-10 03:05 PM
Response to Original message
9. k & r n/t
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joeybee12 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Aug-20-10 03:07 PM
Response to Original message
10. I rec'd...the usual suspects are here arguing that up is down and that's ok
since Obama did it.
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Radical Activist Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Aug-20-10 03:14 PM
Response to Original message
11. Actually, this is exactly what candidate Obama proposed.
Edited on Fri Aug-20-10 03:16 PM by Radical Activist

We can safely redeploy our combat brigades at a pace that would remove them in 16 months. That would be the summer of 2010 two years from now, and more than seven years after the war began. After this redeployment, a residual force in Iraq would perform limited missions: going after any remnants of Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia, protecting American service members and, so long as the Iraqis make political progress, training Iraqi security forces. That would not be a precipitous withdrawal.

In carrying out this strategy, we would inevitably need to make tactical adjustments. As I have often said, I would consult with commanders on the ground and the Iraqi government to ensure that our troops were redeployed safely, and our interests protected. We would move them from secure areas first and volatile areas later. We would pursue a diplomatic offensive with every nation in the region on behalf of Iraqs stability, and commit $2 billion to a new international effort to support Iraqs refugees.

Your argument would be stronger without the false framing.
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netania99 Donating Member (172 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Aug-20-10 07:20 PM
Response to Original message
14. Idaho Guard unit starts training this month for Iraq
I'm not sure how the National Guard fits into the "non-combat troops" category, but apparently these men and women are going back to Iraq in November:

Idaho Guard unit starts training this month for Iraq

By Scott Logan

Story Created: Aug 19, 2010 at 4:24 PM MDT

Story Updated: Aug 19, 2010 at 5:18 PM MDT

BOISE -- The last American combat brigade -- the Fourth Strykers with the Second Infantry Division -- crossed from Iraq to Kuwait in the early morning hours Thursday.

But as the last combat brigade departs Iraq , Idaho's 116th Cavalry Brigade Combat Team will begin training this month for its second deployment to that country in November.


The Idaho National Guard unit (which is also made up of Oregonians and Montanans) will not be going in a combat capacity but they'll fight if they have to.

"Make no mistake. Our men and women will not be going over there defanged and declawed," said Col. Tim Marsano with the Idaho National Guard. "They will be ready to undertake any kind of military operation they need to do."
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Starry Messenger Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Aug-20-10 07:47 PM
Response to Original message
16. k & r
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bigtree Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Aug-20-10 08:01 PM
Response to Original message
18. in order to make your point (and the others you posted as well)
You have to reinterpret what the President has actually said on Iraq (like, 'trying to trick a war-weary American public into believing that the 50,000 US troops . . . etc.). I heard the President outline the risks and challenges ahead in Iraq in much the same way as the authors have in their criticisms. What I didn't hear was some rosy assessment about the future. What I've observed is a 'political' commitment from the President to withdraw the troops is being honored, despite the risks and challenges ahead that critics describe. Isn't that what we expected and asked for?

I don't know how you can admit that there's a risk of troops getting killed or injured in Iraq right now and be so dismissive of the force protection he's left in place until the eventual draw down?

Do you believe in U.S. diplomatic and aid efforts in Iraq? Who's responsible for protecting those personnel? Iraqis?

There won't be anywhere near 50,000 troops engaged in offensive operations in Iraq. Most of the troops are going to be responsible for making the transition from their force protection of the green-zoned regime to whatever security they decide will remain in place. But the reduction in force from Bush's constant 160,000 to 50,000 and beyond is significant and represents the 'walking away' from Iraq that most of us have been advocating for, mostly indifferent to the political and 'security' concerns that Bush used to keep us bogged down there. That's a significant and substantive change, despite the ability of critics of the administration to point to the risks and challenges which remain.
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Radical Activist Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Aug-21-10 03:05 PM
Response to Reply #18
23. It's an interesting phenomenon.
Obama was very up front about what's still happening in Iraq and that it's not over. Yet, we see punditry like this written as though they're exposing some secret plot to mislead the public. All Swanson has done is show that Obama was truthful, both during the campaign and in his current comments about the withdrawal.

I have to wonder if some pundits are stuck in a certain mindset about their relationship to power after 30 years of conservative Presidents. They don't know how to approach a President with who has shared goals and makes tangible progress toward achieving them.
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nashville_brook Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Aug-20-10 08:14 PM
Response to Original message
19. k n f'n r
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maryf Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Aug-20-10 10:53 PM
Response to Original message
20. K&R
but let me be inappropriate...I object to the continued presence that will be there in 2012... :)
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davidswanson Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Aug-21-10 09:01 AM
Response to Original message
21. stop this horse s---
Attention Central Texas Area Activists:

There are only a few days left before actions kick off at Fort Hood Aug. 22 opposing the deployment of the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment to Iraq.

We will be engaging in radical direct action of which optional elements may risk minor legal ramifications. This is a multi-faceted action with various degrees of potential risk, and individuals unable to take on such risks are as needed as those who are. However, we have never won anything without sacrifice. We have never influenced our government by behaving submissively.

Only weeks after announcing the 2nd end of combat operations in Iraq, the U.S. is preparing to deploy a combat unit to Iraq yet again. We know their claims are a semantics game; a rebranding of the same old bloody occupation. This time, however, we say No More!

Thus far, all of our cleverly worded signs and chants have unsurprisingly failed to halt the biggest war machine in history. It is long past time we move beyond protest to resistance. We now ask not only for your signs and banners but for your bodies and your raised fists. Please stand with us at Fort Hood as we engage in direct action to jam the gears of the US Empire's War Machine.

There will be a final organizing meeting the evening of Saturday, August 21st at 8pm in the Killeen, Texas, area. Following this meeting, all participants will need to remain in the area for the next 24 hours. Contact with your name, a brief bio and the degree to which you are interested in participating for more information and to learn the location of the meeting. Lodging can be provided on a first come, first serve basis. Contact us now to RSVP.

This struggle must be waged here in our military community. Marches in Washington and New York can only do so much. Our Soldiers must see us in THEIR streets waging just struggle in the defense of human life. Only then will they find the courage to disobey Fort Hood.

In struggle,

The Disobedient
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midnight Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Aug-21-10 10:48 AM
Response to Original message
22. David you saw the writing on the wall and as a good citizen
read to all who were concerned.
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proud2BlibKansan Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Aug-25-10 02:28 PM
Response to Original message
25. Thank you David.
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