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Old 04-09-2009, 07:21 AM   #1 (permalink)
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United States President Barack Obama's up-to-the-last-minute secret Iraq drop-in was as virtual as a Nevada-based Predator drone pilot's visit to the tribal areas in Pakistan. Iraqis have every reason to say the president did not see Iraq - but the Pentagon in Iraq.

From the minute Air Force One landed at Baghdad International at 4.42pm local time this Tuesday, the whole stunt spelled out "security ops". Air Force One only touched down after the whole airport was shut down.

Obama was then supposed to board a helicopter to visit the Green Zone citadel. But even the Green Zone was deemed a supreme security risk. According to White House spin, the trip was canceled because of a "sandstorm".

So no Red Zone Obama - not even Green Zone Obama. It was Pentagon Zone Obama all the way. The president happened to arrive in Baghdad for this gated community photo op - or victory lap - after his European grand tour one day after "Black Monday", when six coordinated bombs in Shi'ite neighborhoods killed 34 people and wounded more than 100. Wasn't the "surge" of Bush and General Davis Petraeus a "huge success", as Republicans and US corporate media had been spinning for months?

Well, not really. Not when al-Maliki's majority Shi'ite coalition government is shoving droves of Sunni leaders of the Awakening Councils in jail; not when "national reconciliation", heavily spun by Maliki's minions, is a myth; not when you remove a blast wall or two from a Shi'ite neighborhood and immediately afterward Sunni guerrilla outfits see an opening for a car bomb spree.

Under these circumstances, for Obama to speak of "political progress" sounded a bit of a stretch. Obama, for all his charisma, is still the president of an occupying power.

Iraqis, Sunni and Shi'ite alike, are extremely suspicious of the Obama administration's - and the Pentagon's - plans to maintain a "residual force" of up to 50,000 US troops in Iraq for the foreseeable future, not to mention more than 70,000 mercenaries of all stripes.

And what are they supposed to make of these Obama words for the occupying troops: "You have given Iraq the opportunity to stand on its own as a democratic country. That is an extraordinary achievement." Is this Obamaspeak for the classic Bushspeak: "We'll bomb you to democracy, whether you like it or not?"

Iraqis will be even more suspicious of the new, humongous, $534-billion Pentagon budget for fiscal year 2010. (It's bigger than the last budget of the Bush era, and that does not even include the "emergency supplements" for Iraq and Afghanistan.) Talk about military spending as a stimulus package.

Moreover, this new, Robert Gates-proposed counter-insurgency-crazy Pentagon only goes to show that the "Long War", the former "global war on terror" - which the White House and the State Department now refer to as Overseas Contingency Operations - remains the framework of the whole US national security strategy. And Obama abides by it.

Once again in Ankara, Obama stressed, "The United States will remove our combat brigades by the end of next August, while working with the Iraqi government as they take responsibility for security." But he also stressed, "Iraq, Turkey and the United States face a common threat from terrorism. That includes the al-Qaeda terrorists who have sought to drive Iraqis apart and destroy their country." Obama insists on bundling all the myriad groups of the Sunni Arab resistance to US occupation as "al-Qaeda". No informed citizen in Iraq, Turkey or all over the Muslim world will fall for it.

It also doesn't help that Obama in his Ankara speech said, "Peace in the region will also be advanced if Iran forgoes any nuclear-weapons ambitions." For all the administration's overtures to unclench the fists in the US-Iran relationship, Obama keeps implying that Tehran is carrying out a nuclear weapons program - something that the US intelligence establishment itself has admitted on the record is not true.

The Bush administration's record of "hateful ideology" remains imprinted in the psyche of hundreds of millions of Muslims everywhere. Virtually every opinion poll from the Maghreb to the Middle East and South Asia still reveals deep misgivings regarding the way the US sees Muslims.

A rhetorical change is more than welcome. But enough photo ops or victory laps in the US "empire of bases". Action does speak louder than words. As much as Obama can go to real Strasbourg and real Istanbul, the time has come to go to the real Kabul, the real Tehran and the real Baghdad.
Asia Times Online :: Middle East News, Iraq, Iran current affairs

i thought this was interesting to read that whilst to some, the rise of Obama to the Whitehouse suggested a cause for hope, in the eyes of many, it was little more than an effort in 're-branding'.
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Old 04-09-2009, 08:48 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by PaoloSmythe View Post
i thought this was interesting to read that whilst to some, the rise of Obama to the Whitehouse suggested a cause for hope, in the eyes of many, it was little more than an effort in 're-branding'.
They have every right to be suspicious and nothing, including attitudes, will change overnight, no matter what Obama does. Obama is the chief executive of a powerful nation with a shitload of problems, not the messiah. He is doing what he can to offer hope, but that does not mean everyone will embrace it.
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Old 04-09-2009, 02:10 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Wow, you found an article highly critical of the U.S. efforts in Iraq. You going to tell me you live at 221b Baker Street next?

Labeling a bombing streak that killed 34 people in one day in Iraq with a title like 'Black Monday' is like labeling a shooting spree that killed 1 person in the U.S. 'Black Monday.' Right there tells me this article is about as balanced at Fox news, but in the other direction.

To expect opinions of the Muslim world to change overnight, whatever the action, doesn't give much credit to the judgement of Muslims. Does the author of this article think Muslims are complete idiots? Did he expect Obama to walk on water and change all the guns to flowers with a wave of his hand? They've got every right to be suspicious. I'm not sure what the author of the article was expecting, maybe like the montage of 'Democracy has come to Iraq' as Family Guy portrayed it would have made him happy?

I'd give more credence to this article if the author had the cajones to say what would have satisfied him. Instead he took the Republican's approach of bitching but offering no solutions. In the U.S. we call this whining.

What would have satisfied you Paolo? What actions could Obama have taken while in Iraq that would have earned your seal of approval?
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Old 04-09-2009, 05:07 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Some people consider it a rebranding because they want to consider it a rebranding. Opinions don't hold weight if you're finding facts to fit arguments.

And I've said it a few dozen times, but: If a region that's primarily still entrenched in pre-Enlightenment thought, that still believes in things like clitoral circumcision and class and gender based justice systems has 'deep misgivings' about the US, how is that the US's fault? The Mormon sectarians who still practice polygamy have 'deep misgivings' that the UN is going to come steal their land, that's not the UN's fault, is it?

The Arab world has a legitimate beef with the Western world, and that's the Sykes-Picot agreement. They can take that up with the UK and France. But just because the US has been used a scapegoat by corrupt regimes for decades doesn't mean we owe them an apology.
 
Old 04-09-2009, 06:00 PM   #5 (permalink)
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And I've said it a few dozen times, but: If a region that's primarily still entrenched in pre-Enlightenment thought, that still believes in things like clitoral circumcision and class and gender based justice systems has 'deep misgivings' about the US, how is that the US's fault?
On the contrary, we've given them plenty of reason not to trust us. Differences in customs and culture aren't enough for anyone to go to war over. Their 'backwards' customs aren't what makes them hate us, one has nothing to do with the other.

Things are getting uncomfortably close to the brink here with all these countries that have or are close to developing nukes. Not talking never got nothing not done (X4 bonus!!). It's time to look at things that take a higher priority than gender rights and letting Israel keep its 1967 gains.
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Old 04-09-2009, 07:53 PM   #6 (permalink)
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On the contrary, we've given them plenty of reason not to trust us. Differences in customs and culture aren't enough for anyone to go to war over. Their 'backwards' customs aren't what makes them hate us, one has nothing to do with the other.

Things are getting uncomfortably close to the brink here with all these countries that have or are close to developing nukes. Not talking never got nothing not done (X4 bonus!!). It's time to look at things that take a higher priority than gender rights and letting Israel keep its 1967 gains.
What reason have they given us to trust them? Why do we have to accept their culture when they are openly hostile to ours? Why do we have to try and talk them out of nukes, or accept that they'll get them, when we can forcibly prevent them? Why do we have to keep trying to open lines of dialogue when they never do, and instead rely on attacking us or our allies? Why do we have to disregard integral tenets of our beliefs like basic human equality just to avoid annoying them?

Why is it always up to us to make the concession, to turn the other cheek, to look the other way? And how are we the bad guy if we aren't trying hard enough to give in to their demands?

And what, exactly, holds higher priority than freedom and human dignity?
 
Old 04-10-2009, 08:53 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by SpringheelJack View Post
What reason have they given us to trust them? Why do we have to accept their culture when they are openly hostile to ours? Why do we have to try and talk them out of nukes, or accept that they'll get them, when we can forcibly prevent them? Why do we have to keep trying to open lines of dialogue when they never do, and instead rely on attacking us or our allies? Why do we have to disregard integral tenets of our beliefs like basic human equality just to avoid annoying them?
Because Dick Cheney's party lost the election and because trying the tactic you've mentioned for the last 8 years has only gotten us an Iran closer to nukes that's never been further away diplomatically.
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Why is it always up to us to make the concession, to turn the other cheek, to look the other way? And how are we the bad guy if we aren't trying hard enough to give in to their demands?
We haven't had a cheek smacked by them (NK or Iran) to have to turn the other cheek. I'm sure you weren't alive for it, and I wasn't even standing yet, but the U.S. has been responsible for more U.S. deaths in Iran than Iran has. We're not the bad guys if we don't make concessions, we're idiots if we don't talk.
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And what, exactly, holds higher priority than freedom and human dignity?
As I said in the first sentence of the paragraph you're addressing, nukes. If I have to choose between an Iranian wife catching a beating for walking down the street alone or a tactical nuke popping off in downtown Manhattan, the wife's on her own.

Nothing has caused the death of more people on this planet than religion and ideology. Strict adherence to either, by either side, never ends well.
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