Thursday, August 29, 2019

Editorial: The same never-ending response to the same never-ending war

Iraq. Iraq. Iraq.  If only our presidential candidates weren't such Jan Bradys and could actually address this never ending war.  But they're so desperately pursuing George Glass that they have time for little else.  Meanwhile Iraq continues to flounder.  It's the same issues that have always been present.  The US government keeps installing leaders.  These leaders do not represent the Iraqi people so they are not seen as legitimate.  An illegitimate government is not a government that takes root.

Though Bully Boy Bush overlooked this reality repeatedly while he occupied the Oval Office, by 2012, President Barack Obama realized Nouri al-Maliki was a problem, not a benefit.  When Nouri called after the November 2012 election to congratulate Barack on re-election, Barack refused to speak to him and had the call redirected to Vice President Joe Biden.  In 2010, Barack had trusted his advisors who argued that it was better to stay with Nouri.  Background: In 2010, Iraqis went to the polls.  Conventional wisdom was that Nouri would win re-election as prime minister and win by a large margin.  That did not happen.  For background, this is from the December 1, 2010 "Iraq snapshot:"

March 7th, Iraq concluded Parliamentary elections. The Guardian's editorial board noted in August, "These elections were hailed prematurely by Mr Obama as a success, but everything that has happened since has surely doused that optimism in a cold shower of reality." 163 seats are needed to form the executive government (prime minister and council of ministers). When no single slate wins 163 seats (or possibly higher -- 163 is the number today but the Parliament added seats this election and, in four more years, they may add more which could increase the number of seats needed to form the executive government), power-sharing coalitions must be formed with other slates, parties and/or individual candidates. (Eight Parliament seats were awarded, for example, to minority candidates who represent various religious minorities in Iraq.) Ayad Allawi is the head of Iraqiya which won 91 seats in the Parliament making it the biggest seat holder. Second place went to State Of Law which Nouri al-Maliki, the current prime minister, heads. They won 89 seats. Nouri made a big show of lodging complaints and issuing allegations to distract and delay the certification of the initial results while he formed a power-sharing coalition with third place winner Iraqi National Alliance -- this coalition still does not give them 163 seats. November 10th a power sharing deal resulted in the Parliament meeting for the second time and voting in a Speaker. And then Iraqiya felt double crossed on the deal and the bulk of their members stormed out of the Parliament. David Ignatius (Washington Post) explains, "The fragility of the coalition was dramatically obvious Thursday as members of the Iraqiya party, which represents Sunnis, walked out of Parliament, claiming that they were already being double-crossed by Maliki. Iraqi politics is always an exercise in brinkmanship, and the compromises unfortunately remain of the save-your-neck variety, rather than reflecting a deeper accord. " After that, Jalal Talabani was voted President of Iraq. Talabani then named Nouri as the prime minister-delegate. If Nouri can meet the conditions outlined in Article 76 of the Constitution (basically nominate ministers for each council and have Parliament vote to approve each one with a minimum of 163 votes each time and to vote for his council program) within thirty days, he becomes the prime minister. If not, Talabani must name another prime minister-delegate. . In 2005, Iraq took four months and seven days to pick a prime minister-delegate. It took eight months and two days to name Nouri as prime minister-delegate. His first go-round, on April 22, 2006, his thirty day limit kicked in. May 20, 2006, he announced his cabinet -- sort of. Sort of because he didn't nominate a Minister of Defense, a Minister of Interior and a Minister of a Natioanl Security. This was accomplished, John F. Burns wrote in "For Some, a Last, Best Hope for U.S. Efforts in Iraq" (New York Times), only with "muscular" assistance from the Bush White House. Nouri declared he would be the Interior Ministry temporarily. Temporarily lasted until June 8, 2006. This was when the US was able to strong-arm, when they'd knocked out the other choice for prime minister (Ibrahim al-Jaafari) to install puppet Nouri and when they had over 100,000 troops on the ground in Iraq. Nouri had no competition. That's very different from today. The Constitution is very clear and it is doubtful his opponents -- including within his own alliance -- will look the other way if he can't fill all the posts in 30 days. As Leila Fadel (Washington Post) observes, "With the three top slots resolved, Maliki will now begin to distribute ministries and other top jobs, a process that has the potential to be as divisive as the initial phase of government formation." Jane Arraf (Christian Science Monitor) points out, "Maliki now has 30 days to decide on cabinet posts - some of which will likely go to Iraqiya - and put together a full government. His governing coalition owes part of its existence to followers of hard-line cleric Muqtada al Sadr, leading Sunnis and others to believe that his government will be indebted to Iran." The stalemate ends when the country has a prime minister. It is now eight months, twenty-four days and counting. Thursday November 25th, Nouri was finally 'officially' named prime minister-designate. Leila Fadel (Washington Post) explained, "In 30 days, he is to present his cabinet to parliament or lose the nomination." Steven Lee Myers (New York Times) added, "Even if Mr. Maliki meets the 30-day deadline in late December -- which is not a certainty, given the chronic disregard for legal deadlines in Iraqi politics -- the country will have spent more than nine months under a caretaker government without a functioning legislature. Many of Iraq's most critical needs -- from basic services to investment -- have remained unaddressed throughout the impasse." Jane Arraf (Al Jazeera) offered, "He has an extremely difficult task ahead of him, these next 30 days are going to be a very tough sell for all of these parties that all want something very important in this government. It took a record eight months to actually come up with this coalition, but now what al-Maliki has to do is put all those people in the competing positions that backed him into slots in the government and he has a month to day that from today."

It's the same circus every election.  It never moves forward.

They never follow the Iraqi Constitution.

They just do whatever they want and the people see this.

Right now, provincial elections will be held shortly and all indicators are that voting will be down in those elections.

Why vote?

When your vote is overturned by the US government, why vote?

When your 'representatives' don't represent you, why vote?

The Iraqi people are not vested in the Iraqi government because it neither represents nor serves them and that's been the reality of every government since the US-led invasion of 2003.

Nothing's changed.  They move the figure head around but the government still doesn't serve the people.  And yet the US taxpayer is still forking over millions.  In fact, two weeks ago, it was announced that the US taxpayer had 'gifted' $730 million more for this year.

We know the government's corrupt.  We know the money's not going to the people.  We know Iraq is one of the worst ranked countries by Transparency International.  But we keep tossing money out and the question is why?  And why do we continue to use US troops in Iraq?  In 2007, the Democratic-led Congress insisted upon benchmarks being met for continued US deployment in Iraq.

Guess what?

Those benchmarks were never met.  All these years later.  It's time for US troops to come home.  They are not police.  They are not government builders.  They are trained for combat and their mission should be closed.

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