Tuesday, May 27, 2008

OBAMA'S IRAQ POSITION REMAINS IN DOUBT

From Democracy Now

AMY GOODMAN: Senator Obama, quick question: 70 percent of Iraqis say they want the US to withdraw completely; why don't you call for a total withdrawal?

SEN. BARACK OBAMA: Well, I do, except for our embassy. I call for amnesty and protecting our civilian contractors there.

AMY GOODMAN: You've said a residual force-

SEN. BARACK OBAMA: Yeah, but-

AMY GOODMAN: -which means [inaudible] thousands [inaudible].

SEN. BARACK OBAMA: Well, no. I mean, I don't think that you've read exactly what I've said. What I said is that we do need to have a strike force in the region. It doesn't necessarily have to be in Iraq; it could be in Kuwait or other places. But we do have to have some presence in order to not only protect them, but also potentially to protect their territorial integrity.

AMY GOODMAN: Can you call for a ban on the private military contractors like Blackwater?

SEN. BARACK OBAMA: I've actually-I'm the one who sponsored the bill that called for the investigation of Blackwater in [inaudible], so-

AMY GOODMAN: But would you support the Sanders one now?

SEN. BARACK OBAMA: Here's the problem: we have 140,000 private contractors right there, so unless we want to replace all of or a big chunk of those with US troops, we can't draw down the contractors faster than we can draw down our troops. So what I want to do is draw-I want them out in the same way that we make sure that we draw out our own combat troops. Alright?

JEREMY SCAHILL, DEMOCRACY NOW: I started looking at Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton's Iraq plans, and one of the things that I discovered is that both of them intend to keep the Green Zone intact. Both of them intend to keep the current US embassy project, which is slated to be the largest embassy in the history of the world. . . . I think it's 500 CIA operatives alone, a thousand personnel. And they're also going to keep open the Baghdad airport indefinitely. And what that means is that even though the rhetoric of withdrawal is everywhere in the Democratic campaign, we're talking about a pretty substantial level of US forces and personnel remaining in Iraq indefinitely. . .

Obama is saying he wants to keep the embassy. Obama is saying he wants to keep the Green Zone. Obama is saying he wants to keep the Baghdad airport. Who's guarding US diplomats right now at this largest embassy in the history of the world? Well, it's Blackwater, Triple Canopy and DynCorp; it's these private security companies. . . And so, the situation right now is that Obama seems to have painted himself into a corner on this issue, . . .

JUAN GONZALEZ: Well, let me ask you, in terms of this whole issue of mercenaries in general, I mean, are we facing the possibility that a Democratic president would in essence reduce the troops but increase the mercenaries?

JEREMY SCAHILL: . . . Joseph Schmitz, who's one of the leading executives in the Blackwater empire, recently said this: "There is a scenario where we could as a government, the United States, could pull back the military footprint, and there would then be more of a need for private contractors to go in." So apparently these contractors see a silver lining in that scenario. You know, the reality is, right now, that these forces are one of the most significant threats to Iraqis in the country. I mean, we've seen scores of incidents where they've shot at them, etc.

ELI LAKE, NY SUN A key adviser to Senator Obama's campaign is recommending in a confidential paper that America keep between 60,000 and 80,000 troops in Iraq as of late 2010, a plan at odds with the public pledge of the Illinois senator to withdraw combat forces from Iraq within 16 months of taking office.

The paper, obtained by The New York Sun, was written by Colin Kahl for the center-left Center for a New American Security. In "Stay on Success: A Policy of Conditional Engagement," Mr. Kahl writes that through negotiations with the Iraqi government "the U.S. should aim to transition to a sustainable over-watch posture (of perhaps 60,000-80,000 forces) by the end of 2010 (although the specific timelines should be the byproduct of negotiations and conditions on the ground)."

Mr. Kahl is the day-to-day coordinator of the Obama campaign's working group on Iraq. . .

Both Mr. Kahl and a senior Obama campaign adviser reached yesterday said the paper does not represent the campaign's Iraq position. Nonetheless, the paper could provide clues as to the ultimate size of the residual American force the candidate has said would remain in Iraq after the withdrawal of combat brigades. The campaign has not publicly discussed the size of such a force in the past.

This is not the first time the opinion of an adviser to the Obama campaign has differed with the candidate's stated Iraq policy. In February, Mr. Obama's first foreign policy tutor, Samantha Power, told BBC that the senator's current Iraq plan would likely change based on the advice of military commanders in 2009. She has since resigned her position as a formal adviser. . .

In an interview yesterday, a senior Obama foreign affairs adviser, Susan Rice, said the Iraq working group is not the last word on the campaign's Iraq policy. . . Mr. Obama's policy to date also allows for a residual force for Iraq. In early Iowa debates, the senator would not pledge to remove all soldiers from Iraq, a distinction from his promise to withdraw all combat brigades. Also, Mr. Obama has stipulated that he would be open to having the military train the Iraqi Security Forces if he received guarantees that those forces would not be the shock troops of one side of an Iraqi civil war.

But the Obama campaign has also not said how many troops would make up this residual force. "We have not put a number on that. It depends on the circumstances on the ground," Ms. Rice said. She added, "It would be worse than folly, it would be dangerous, to put a hard number on the residual forces."

Mr. Kahl's paper laid out what he called a "middle way" between unlimited engagement in Iraq and complete and rapid disengagement. The approach is contingent, he said, on the progress and willingness of Iraq's major confessional parties in reaching political accommodation.

"There is a fundamental difference in the assumption between the Democratic approach and the Bush-McCain approach. That approach is premised on the assumption the Iraqi government wants to reach accommodation and what they need is time. The surge is premised on the notion of creating breathing space," Mr. Kahl said. He added that his strategy would pressure and entice the Iraqi government to begin political accommodation by not only starting the withdrawal, but also by stating that America had no intention to hold permanent bases in the country.

2 Comments:

At May 27, 2008 10:45 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"...the center-left Center for a New American Security..."

I guess we know what happened to the PNAC.

 
At May 28, 2008 11:10 PM, Blogger Dan said...

A War for Israel

by Jeffrey Blankfort

When Malaysian Prime Minister Mathahir Mohammed declared at an international Islamic Conference in Kuala Lumpur in mid-October, 2003 that "today the Jews rule the world by proxy [and] They get others to fight and die for them,[1] the reactions in the U.S. and the West were predictable.

It was "a speech that was taken right out of the Protocols of Zion," according to one Israeli commentator[2], and Mathahir would be accused of imitating Hitler and insuring that "Muslims around the world are similarly being fed a regular diet of classic big lies about Jewish power.[3]

Big lies? Given Israel's unchecked dominion over the Palestinians and its Arab neighbors over the past half century, supported in every way possible by the United States, one can assume that Muslims, not to mention intelligent non-Muslims, have no need for additional instruction as to the extent of Jewish power. As further proof of its existence, if such were needed, there would be no attempt to measure the Malaysian prime minister's words against the reality of the times to determine if there was anything accurate in his assessment.

If Mathahir could be accused of anything, it would be of being sloppy historically and using too broad a brush. The Jews, as such, control nothing. A segment of American Jewry, however, has been able, with few exceptions, to shape U.S. Middle East policy since the mid-Sixties. Given America's position as a major world power, and now its only superpower, that is not a small achievement.

Over the years, that segment, the organized American Jewish community - in short, the Israel lobby - has amassed unparalleled political power through skillfully combining the wealth of its members[4] with its extraordinary organizational skills to achieve what amounts to a corporate takeover of the U.S. Congress and virtual veto power over the presidency.

There is virtually no sector of the American body politic that has been immune to the lobby's penetration. That its primary goal has not been to improve the security and well-being of the United States or the American people, but to advance the interests of a foreign country, namely Israel, may be debated, but it was acknowledged, in part, more than a dozen years ago by Sen. Howard Metzenbaum (D-Ohio), who complained to an annual conference of the National Jewish Community Relations Advisory Council that "There's only one issue members [of Congress] think is important to American Jews - Israel."[5]

It was no secret that Israel had long been interested in eliminating the regime of Saddam Hussein in Iraq and redrawing the map of the Middle East to enhance its power in the region.[6] Initiating that undertaking became a task for key individuals in and around the White House with deep roots in right-wing Israeli politics. The attack on the World Trade Center supplied the opportunity. That Iraq had nothing to do with it was immaterial. The lobby's propaganda apparatus would make the American people believe otherwise.

The first step has been completed. Saddam Hussein has been removed, not by Israel, but by the U.S. and its "coalition of the willing." From the perspective of the Israelis and, one must assume, the lobby, it is better that American and foreign soldiers do the shedding of blood, Iraqi and their own, rather than those of Israel, the world's fourth ranked military power. Such an accusation will most assuredly draw cries of "blood libel" from the likes of the Anti-Defamation League, but it is a conclusion that one can readily draw from the facts. The degree to which the present Iraq situation, as well as the first Gulf War, can be attributed to efforts of key individuals and the major Jewish organizations that constitute the lobby is what this article will examine.*

*The lobby┬╣s existence and power well predate its alliance with what may be called its Christian fundamentalist auxiliary, which has given it unprecedented influence over both Congress and the White House.

http://www.leftcurve.org/LC28WebPages/WarForIsrael.html

 

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