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Posts Tagged ‘Iraq’

EconomicPolicyJournal.com: U.S. Threatens Iraq That It Will Lose Access to Its Bank Account at the Federal Reserve

Posted by M. C. on January 12, 2020

You can be sure that every country in the world will take notice of the threat.

When the move away from the dollar as a reverse currency begins in earnest, the flight from the dollar on foreign exchange markets will be fierce.

https://www.economicpolicyjournal.com/2020/01/us-threatens-iraq-that-it-will-lose.html

This is stunning news.

The Trump administration warned Iraq this past week that it risks losing access to a critical government bank account if Baghdad kicks out American forces following the U.S. airstrike that killed a top Iranian general, according to Iraqi officials, reports The Wall Street Journal.

Here are the details via The Journal:

The State Department warned that the U.S. could shut down Iraq’s access to the country’s central bank account held at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, a move that could jolt Iraq’s already shaky economy, the officials said.

Iraq, like other countries, maintains government accounts at the New York Fed as an important part of managing the country’s finances, including revenue from oil sales. Loss of access to the accounts could restrict Iraq’s use of that revenue, creating a cash crunch in Iraq’s financial system and constricting a critical lubricant for the economy.

Bottom line: The U.S. continues to use the global dominance of the US dollar to bully countries that don’t fall in line with its demands.

You can be sure that every country in the world will take notice of the threat.

When the move away from the dollar as a re(serve)verse currency begins in earnest, the flight from the dollar on foreign exchange markets will be fierce.

And that is what economic blowback will look like: The crash of the dollar.

RW

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The Long Sordid History of Pentagon Intervention in Iraq – The Future of Freedom Foundation

Posted by M. C. on January 11, 2020

Ninth, once the Pentagon discovered that there were no weapons of mass destruction, which was the Pentagon’s excuse for the invasion in the first place, it should have apologized for its “mistake” and come home. Instead, the Pentagon stayed in Iraq for several more years, killing and injuring countless more Iraqis…

https://www.fff.org/2020/01/10/the-long-sordid-history-of-pentagon-intervention-in-iraq/

by

There is no reason for the Pentagon to be depressed, despondent, or angry over the fact that Iraqi officials are kicking the Pentagon out of Iraq. The Pentagon doesn’t belong in Iraq in the first place.

First, it’s important to keep in mind that ever since the Pentagon and the rest of the U.S. national-security establishment lost their official Cold War enemy, the Soviet Union, with the end of the Cold War in 1989, Iraq never invaded the United States or even threatened to do so. In the 30 years that the Pentagon has been killing people and wreaking destruction in Iraq, it has always been the Pentagon that has been the aggressor and Iraq the defender.

Second, it’s also important to keep in mind that during the 1980s, Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein was a partner and ally of the Pentagon, when the Pentagon was helping him to wage his brutal 8-year war against Iran.

Third, U.S. officials expressed indifference to their partner and ally Saddam when he expressed exasperation with Kuwait, which, he said, was stealing oil from Iraq by slant-drilling into Iraqi land. That expressed indifference to a partner and ally could easily be construed as giving a green light for Saddam’s invasion of Kuwait.

Fourth, when Iraq invaded Kuwait, the dispute was no business of the Pentagon, given that the invasion did not constitute an invasion of the United States. Nonetheless, the Pentagon intervened in the conflict, notwithstanding the fact that Congress had not declared war on Iraq, as the Constitution requires. The Pentagon killed countless Iraqis in what was clearly an illegal U.S. war under U.S. law.

Fifth, the Pentagon had no business intentionally destroying Iraq’s water-and-sewage treatment plants during the course of its intervention. That was a war crime, especially since the Pentagon’s intent was to spread infectious illnesses among the Iraqi people.

Sixth, the Pentagon had no legitimate authority to establish “no-fly zones” over Iraq after hostilities ended. The Pentagon continue to kill Iraqis during the enforcement of such zones, including a teenage boy who was just tending his sheep.

Seventh, the Pentagon had no business enforcing sanctions on Iraq during the 1990s, especially when it became painfully clear that they were killing hundreds of thousands of Iraqi children, including through infectious illnesses from polluted water. The sanctions were preventing Iraqis from repairing the water-and-sewage treatment plants that the Pentagon had intentionally destroyed during the Persian Gulf War. It was the deaths of those children that turned out to be a major contributing cause to anti-American terrorism, such as the 1993 attack on the World Trade Center, the attack on the USS Cole, the attacks on the U.S. embassies in East Africa, the 9/11 attacks, the Fort Hood attacks, the Detroit would-be attack, and many more.

Eighth, the Pentagon had no legitimate authority to invade Iraq after the 9/11 attacks because Congress never issued a declaration of war against Iraq, as the Constitution requires. Moreover, even if Iraq had weapons of mass destruction in violation of UN resolutions, only the UN had the authority to enforce its own resolutions. Iraq never invaded the United States. That made the Pentagon the aggressor against Iraq once again. The Pentagon killed and injured countless more Iraqis in the process and ended up destroying the entire country under its mantra “Operation Iraqi Freedom.”

Ninth, once the Pentagon discovered that there were no weapons of mass destruction, which was the Pentagon’s excuse for the invasion in the first place, it should have apologized for its “mistake” and come home. Instead, the Pentagon stayed in Iraq for several more years, killing and injuring countless more Iraqis during its occupation and wreaking continued destruction all across the country.

Tenth, the Pentagon’s invasion of Iraq gave rise to ISIS, which the Pentagon used as the excuse for wreaking even more death and destruction, not only in Iraq but also across the Middle East. That’s why the Pentagon is in Iraq today—ostensibly to defeat the entity that the Pentagon brought into existence with its illegal invasion and occupation of Iraq.

Evicting the Pentagon from Iraq is the best thing Iraqi officials could do, both for the people of the Middle East and the United States. The Pentagon has wreaked enough death, suffering, and destruction in Iraq and the rest of the Middle East. The sooner the Pentagon comes home, the better off everyone will be.

Donate – Jacob Hornberger – Libertarian for President

Next President?

 

 

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The USA Doubles Down On Its Saudi Allegiance | Zero Hedge

Posted by M. C. on January 5, 2020

There is a great deal of wishful thinking that fantasises about US military defeat, but it is simply unrealistic if the USA actually opted for full scale invasion…

Disagree – Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen!, Sudan…

Wait a minute – didn’t SA finance 9/11?

https://www.zerohedge.com/geopolitical/usa-doubles-down-its-saudi-allegiance

 

For the United States to abandon proxy warfare and directly kill one of Iran’s most senior political figures has changed international politics in a fundamental way. It is a massive error. Its ramifications are profound and complex.

There is also a lesson to be learned here in that this morning there will be excitement and satisfaction in the palaces of Washington, Tel Aviv, Riyadh and Tehran. All of the political elites will see prospects for gain from the new fluidity. While for ordinary people in all those countries there is only the certainty of more conflict, death and economic loss, for the political elite, the arms manufacturers, the military and security services and allied interests, the hedge funds, speculators and oil companies, there are the sweet smells of cash and power.

Tehran will be pleased because the USA has just definitively lost Iraq. Iraq has a Shia majority and so naturally tends to ally with Iran. The only thing preventing that was the Arab nationalism of Saddam Hussein’s Ba’ath Socialist Party. Bush and Blair were certainly fully informed that by destroying the Ba’ath system they were creating an Iranian/Iraqi nexus, but they decided that was containable. The “containment” consisted of a deliberate and profound push across the Middle East to oppose Shia influence in proxy wars everywhere.

This is the root cause of the disastrous war in Yemen, where the Zaidi-Shia would have been victorious long ago but for the sustained brutal aerial warfare on civilians carried out by the Western powers through Saudi Arabia. This anti-Shia western policy included the unwavering support for the Sunni Bahraini autocracy in the brutal suppression of its overwhelmingly Shia population. And of course it included the sustained and disastrous attempt to overthrow the Assad regime in Syria and replace it with pro-Saudi Sunni jihadists.

This switch in US foreign policy was known in the White House of 2007 as “the redirection”. It meant that Sunni jihadists like Al-Qaida and later al-Nusra were able to switch back to being valued allies of the United States. It redoubled the slavish tying of US foreign policy to Saudi interests. The axis was completed once Mohammad Bin Salman took control of Saudi Arabia. His predecessors had been coy about their de facto alliance with Israel. MBS felt no shyness about openly promoting Israeli interests, under the cloak of mutual alliance against Iran, calculating quite correctly that Arab street hatred of the Shia outweighed any solidarity with the Palestinians. Common enemies were easy for the USA/Saudi/Israeli alliance to identify; Iran, the Houthi, Assad and of course the Shia Hezbollah, the only military force to have given the Israelis a bloody nose. The Palestinians themselves are predominantly Sunni and their own Hamas was left friendless and isolated.

The principal difficulty of this policy for the USA of course is Iraq. Having imposed a rough democracy on Iraq, the governments were always likely to be Shia dominated and highly susceptible to Iranian influence. The USA had a continuing handle through dwindling occupying forces and through control of the process which produced the government. They also provided financial resources to partially restore the physical infrastructure the US and its allies had themselves destroyed, and of course to fund a near infinite pool of corruption.

That US influence was balanced by strong Iranian aligned militia forces who were an alternative source of strength to the government of Baghdad, and of course by the fact that the centre of Sunni tribal strength, the city of Falluja, had itself been obliterated by the United States, three times, in an act of genocide of Iraqi Sunni population.

Through all this the Iraqi Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi had until now tiptoed with great care. Pro-Iranian yet a long term American client, his government maintained a form of impartiality based on an open hand to accept massive bribes from anybody. That is now over. He is pro-Iranian now…

Nevertheless, Tel Aviv and Riyadh will also be celebrating today at the idea that their dream of the USA destroying their regional rival Iran, as Iraq and Libya were destroyed, is coming closer. The USA could do this. The impact of technology on modern warfare should not be underestimated. There is a great deal of wishful thinking that fantasises about US military defeat, but it is simply unrealistic if the USA actually opted for full scale invasion…

In the short term, Trump in this situation needs either to pull out troops from Iraq or massively to reinforce them. The UK does not have the latter option, having neither men nor money, and should remove its 1400 troops now. Whether the “triumph” of killing Suleimani gives Trump enough political cover for an early pullout – the wise move – I am unsure. 2020 is going to be a very dangerous year indeed.

*  *  *

Unlike his adversaries including the Integrity Initiative, the 77th Brigade, Bellingcat, the Atlantic Council and hundreds of other warmongering propaganda operations, Craig’s blog has no source of state, corporate or institutional finance whatsoever. It runs entirely on voluntary subscriptions from its readers – many of whom do not necessarily agree with the every article, but welcome the alternative voice, insider information and debate. Subscriptions to keep Craig’s blog going are gratefully received.

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Watch “Trump Stumbling Into Neocon Trap In Iraq” on YouTube

Posted by M. C. on January 3, 2020

Regression…deja Vu all over again.

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Responsible Statecraft Wearing Out a Welcome in Iraq

Posted by M. C. on January 2, 2020

Deja Vu All Over Again – Yogi Berra

https://responsiblestatecraft.org/2019/12/31/wearing-out-a-welcome-in-iraq/


Paul R. Pillar

The scene in the Green Zone in Baghdad easily evokes memories of Tehran forty years ago. A U.S. embassy in the Persian Gulf region is under siege by an angry mob.  The protestors, predominantly young, break through the outer walls of the compound as U.S. diplomats take refuge in a safe room. President Trump implicitly extends the parallel by reacting in the narrowly anti-Iran terms that have defined his policies in this part of the world.  Iran is orchestrating an attack on the U.S. Embassy in Iraq,” Trump tweeted from Mar-a-Lago. “To those many millions of people in Iraq who want freedom and who don’t want to be dominated and controlled by Iran, this is your time!”

But a closer look at what has been happening in Iraq suggests that genuine anger had much more to do with events than any orchestration did. The protestors who smashed their way into the embassy compound did so in defiance of appeals from leaders armed with loudspeakers. And the popular anger displayed at the embassy was also quite visible elsewhere in Iraq. If there is a parallel with Tehran in 1979, it is to be found primarily in a U.S. failure to anticipate and understand the nature of the anti-U.S. anger so much in evidence.

The newest outburst in Baghdad is in response to U.S. airstrikes Sunday on facilities in Iraq of the Kataib Hezbollah militia, which killed at least 25 and wounded at least 55 more. The airstrikes were billed as retaliation for a rocket fired two days earlier at an Iraqi naval base that killed an American civilian contractor and wounded “several” other Iraqi and U.S. personnel. Iraqis noticed the obvious disproportionality between the U.S. airstrikes and what they were retaliating for, and this disproportionality was part of what underlay the angry popular response. Another part was the fact that a foreign power was taking it on itself to conduct a military attack inside Iraq against Iraqi citizens.

The senior Shia cleric in Iraq, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, was reflecting the sentiments of many Iraqis when he condemned what he called “atrocious aggression” by the United States and violation of Iraqi sovereignty “under the pretext of responding to some illegal practices by some sides.” Sistani said that “only Iraqi authorities are entitled to deal with these practices and take necessary measures to prevent them.”

Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi condemned the U.S. attack as “an unacceptable vicious assault that will have dangerous consequences.”  Iraq’s National Security Council stated that it would have to reconsider its relationship with the U.S.-led coalition working against the Islamic State (ISIS) in Iraq.

Before the events of the past few days, recurrent popular protests in Iraq had acquired an anti-Iran tinge. The Trump administration may have interpreted this as Iraqis finally deciding to go all in with the administration’s own nothing-but-hostility posture toward Iran that has been the basis of its “maximum pressure” campaign against Iran. If so, this interpretation was mistaken. Most Iraqis do not want endless confrontation with Iran and a risk of once again suffering, as they did in the 1980s, from open conflict with Iran.

Most Iraqis are dissatisfied with the performance of their own government. Given that Iran is the most influential foreign power in Iraq today, it became an auxiliary target of the popular dissatisfaction with the Iraqi regime. If the United States had instead been the most influential foreign power in Iraq today, it would have been that auxiliary target.

The U.S. knack for counterproductive military actions in Iraq continues. The war that the Bush administration launched in 2003 provided the biggest single boost to Iranian influence in Iraq, or for that matter to Iranian influence in the Persian Gulf region generally. Now this week’s U.S. airstrikes have converted what had been a story of popular protests with an anti-Iran tinge into a story of strongly anti-U.S. protests.

If there has been Iranian orchestration behind any of this—including the rocket attack on the Iraqi naval base last week—it would have been a calculated attempt to provoke just the sort of unpopular U.S. response that in fact occurred, thereby taking the focus of angry Iraqi citizens away from Iran and redirecting it toward the United States.

U.S. military personnel are in Iraq supposedly on an anti-ISIS mission.  Under the Trump administration, there appears to have been mission creep, in Iraq as well as Syria, in which somehow confronting Iran has become part of a new mission. That mission has never been justified. No one has explained exactly how the current state of Iraqi-Iranian relations threatens U.S. interests—beyond any threat to the very same U.S. military personnel in Iraq, which brings circular reasoning into play. Seemingly forgotten among all this is how Iran, and the Iraqi elements it supports, also have been performing an anti-ISIS mission.

The United States would serve its own interests by letting that mission be performed by the locals best in position to perform it, and moving toward a withdrawal of its forces from Iraq. Let someone else worry about inflaming popular sentiment through perceived violations of sovereignty. Such a redirection of U.S. policy would take those troops out of harm’s way. It would reduce the risk of a U.S.-Iranian clash, benefiting nobody, on an Iraqi battlefield. And it would reduce the chance of anther U.S. embassy being overrun by an angry mob.

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PLUNDERING IRAQ

Posted by M. C. on December 7, 2019

https://ericmargolis.com/2019/11/plundering-iraq/

by

Victor Hugo said of the devastated Balkans in the 19th century: ‘The Turks have passed by here. All is in ruins or mourning.’

Welcome to modern Iraq.

The British were always masters of efficient imperialism. In the 19th century, they managed to rule a quarter of the Earth’s surface with only a relatively small army supported by a great fleet.

Many of their imperial subjects were so overawed by the pomp and circumstance of British rule that they often willingly cooperated, or at least bent the knee.

Call it colonialism 101. Ardent students of Roman history, the British early on adopted the Roman strategy of ‘divide et impera’, divide and conquer. The application of this strategy allowed the British Empire to rule over vast numbers of people with minimal force.

In my last book, `American Raj,’ I sought to show how the American Empire was using techniques of the British Imperial Raj (raj = rule in Hindi) employed in India to control the Mideast. Now, we are seeing the same strategy in forgotten Iraq.

Few talk or think about Iraq these days; the media ignores this important but demolished nation. Iraq, let’s recall, was the target of a major western aggression concocted by George W. Bush, Dick Cheney and Britain’s Tony Blair, financed and encouraged by the Gulf oil sheikdoms and Saudi Arabia.

Most people don’t understand that Iraq remains a US-occupied nation. We hear nothing about the billions of dollars of Iraqi oil extracted by big US oil firms since 2003. For the US, Iraq was a treasure house of oil with 12% of world reserves. It was OPEC’s 2nd largest producer.

Recall one of the leading neocons who engineered the invasion of Iraq, Paul Wolfowitz, claimed the US could finance its entire invasion of Iraq (he estimated the cost at about $70 billion) by plundering Iraq’s oil. Today, the cost of the occupation has reached over $1 trillion. Wolfie is nowhere to be seen. Meanwhile, President Trump says the US will grab Syria’s oil fields. Wherever it may be, oil is as American as apple pie.

So where did all the money go? A large amount for corrupt Iraqi politicians and more for the ten plus US bases in Iraq. Perhaps a modest payoff for neighboring Iran, and Iraq’s Shia clergy, or helping finance Iraq and Syria’s ISIS. But that still leaves a huge amount of unaccounted cash from oil plundered by the US. One day we may find out…

I was in Iraq in 2001 and 2003 and saw how much it had developed in spite of the draconian rule of Saddam Hussein. I was one of only a few journalists trying to dispute the western lies about Iraq. The dim-witted Iraqi secret police threatened to hang me as a spy – after I revealed their germ warfare plant at Salman Pak had been set up and was secretly run by British technicians.

Today, Iraq is far worse off than during the days of Saddam Hussein. It is being plundered and exploited while its people suffer. So much for ‘liberation.’

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PLUNDERING IRAQ « Eric Margolis

Posted by M. C. on November 18, 2019

https://ericmargolis.com/2019/11/plundering-iraq/

by

Victor Hugo said of the devastated Balkans in the 19th century: ‘The Turks have passed by here. All is in ruins or mourning.’

Welcome to modern Iraq.

The British were always masters of efficient imperialism. In the 19th century, they managed to rule a quarter of the Earth’s surface with only a relatively small army supported by a great fleet.

Many of their imperial subjects were so overawed by the pomp and circumstance of British rule that they often willingly cooperated, or at least bent the knee.

Call it colonialism 101. Ardent students of Roman history, the British early on adopted the Roman strategy of ‘divide et impera’, divide and conquer. The application of this strategy allowed the British Empire to rule over vast numbers of people with minimal force.

In my last book, `American Raj,’ I sought to show how the American Empire was using techniques of the British Imperial Raj (raj = rule in Hindi) employed in India to control the Mideast. Now, we are seeing the same strategy in forgotten Iraq.

Few talk or think about Iraq these days; the media ignores this important but demolished nation. Iraq, let’s recall, was the target of a major western aggression concocted by George W. Bush, Dick Cheney and Britain’s Tony Blair, financed and encouraged by the Gulf oil sheikdoms and Saudi Arabia.

Most people don’t understand that Iraq remains a US-occupied nation. We hear nothing about the billions of dollars of Iraqi oil extracted by big US oil firms since 2003. For the US, Iraq was a treasure house of oil with 12% of world reserves. It was OPEC’s 2nd largest producer.

Recall one of the leading neocons who engineered the invasion of Iraq, Paul Wolfowitz, claimed the US could finance its entire invasion of Iraq (he estimated the cost at about $70 billion) by plundering Iraq’s oil. Today, the cost of the occupation has reached over $1 trillion. Wolfie is nowhere to be seen. Meanwhile, President Trump says the US will grab Syria’s oil fields. Wherever it may be, oil is as American as apple pie.

So where did all the money go? A large amount for corrupt Iraqi politicians and more for the ten plus US bases in Iraq. Perhaps a modest payoff for neighboring Iran, and Iraq’s Shia clergy, or helping finance Iraq and Syria’s ISIS. But that still leaves a huge amount of unaccounted cash from oil plundered by the US. One day we may find out.

In recent weeks, Shia and Sunni Iraqis have been rioting to protest continuing US proxy rule via a Washington-installed puppet regime in Baghdad that, curiously, also has some Iranian support. As of this writing, 120 Iraqis have been shot dead and some 6,000 wounded. This while scores of Palestinians are being killed by Israel in Gaza…

Today, Iraq is far worse off than during the days of Saddam Hussein. It is being plundered and exploited while its people suffer. So much for ‘liberation.’

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The Forgotten Plunder of Iraq | Common Dreams Views

 

 

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Just as Iraq begins to find peace, it once again becomes the battleground for an American proxy war | The Independent

Posted by M. C. on October 1, 2019

https://www.independent.co.uk/voices/iraq-us-iran-israel-proxy-war-middle-east-peace-abu-alaa-al-walai-shia-a9123436.html

Baghdad is full of new restaurants and shops and the streets are thronged with people until late at night. But many Iraqis wonder how long this will last if the US-Iran confrontation escalates into a shooting war

People in Baghdad are fearful that the next war between the US and Iran will take place in Iraq, which is only just returning to peace after the defeat of Isis. Alarm that Iraq will be sucked into such a conflict has increased here because of recent Israeli drone attacks on the bases of the Iraqi paramilitary group known as the Hashd al-Shaabi, which is accused by the US and Israel of acting as a proxy of Iran.

“The new development is that Israel has entered the conflict in Iraq,” says Abu Alaa al-Walai, the leader of Kataib Sayyid al-Shuhada, a militant Shia paramilitary movement with ties to Iran, speaking in an exclusive interview with The Independent in Baghdad. He says that three Israeli drones attacked one of his bases in the Iraqi capital, called al-Saqr, on 12 August, leading to the explosion of 50 tons of weaponry. The Israelis confirm that they carried out the raid, which was preceded by several others, claiming that they hit Iranian missiles on their way to Syria and Lebanon.

It is the likelihood of US complicity in the Israeli action which could provoke a political crisis in Iraq. Abu Alaa says that an unpublished Iraqi government report on the attack reveals that the Israeli drones were launched from a US base called Kassad in Kurdish-controlled northeast Syria. “Iraqi radar tracked one out of three of the drones travelling at 140km before, during and after the attack,” he says.

US policy in the Middle East is notoriously incoherent and contradictory under President Trump, but allowing Israel to make pin-prick attacks from a US base against the Hashd looks peculiarly like self-destruction from an American point of view. It has already led to a bill passing through the Iraqi parliament demanding the withdrawal of US forces from the country.

Asked if Kataib Sayyid al-Shuhada would attack US forces, if there is a war between the US and Iran, Abu Alaa replies: “Absolutely, yes”. He expresses enthusiasm for drone warfare, saying that the successful drone assault on the Saudi oil facilities on 14 September makes battlefields more equal for groups like his own. “We are working day and night to develop drones that can be put together in a living room,” he says…

There are good reasons for them to be worried: US and Saudi authority in the Middle East has been damaged by Iranian-inspired attacks – the Iranian modus operandi is normally to act through others – on oil tankers in the Gulf, a high-flying US drone, and the Saudi oil industry. So far, Mr Trump has not thought it is in the US’s interest to hit back, but he cannot indefinitely absorb this kind of punishment without looking weak.

Iraq is one place where the US and its allies could try to retaliate and their main target is likely to be the Hashd. This could in turn provoke attacks on US bases which look vulnerable in the age of the drone. Iraqis dread the idea of another military conflict, but they fear it may in any case be heading in their direction.

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A New Film Blows the Whistle on War – Progressive.org

Posted by M. C. on September 3, 2019

https://progressive.org/dispatches/new-film-official-secrets-blows-the-whistle-on-war-rampell-190830/

by

Official Secrets, co-written and directed by Gavin Hood,  is one of the best movies ever made about investigative reporting and whistle-blowing—a film in a league with All the President’s Men and Snowden.

Like the 1976 Watergate classic starring Robert Redford and Dustin Hoffman as Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, and Oliver Stone’s 2016 drama about exposure of the National Security Agency’s clandestine mass warrantless surveillance program, the U.K.-set Secrets is based on a true story.

The film is about Martin Bright, a reporter with The Observer (played by Matt Smith), and Katharine Gun, a translator for the British government (played by Keira Knightley). Gun is responsible for what Pentagon Papers leaker Daniel Ellsberg called “the most important and courageous leak I have ever seen. No one else – including myself – has ever done what Gun did: tell secret truths at personal risk, before an imminent war, in time, possibly, to avert it.”

In early 2003, during the lead-up to the U.S. attack on Iraq, Gun came across an email from a shadowy National Security Agency official named Frank Koza. It revealed U.S. plans to spy on U.N. Security Council members in order to blackmail them into voting for a resolution approving a military offensive against Baghdad. The resolution was seen as key to providing the strike with a fig leaf of legitimacy from the international community for a war based largely on the dubious proposition that Saddam Hussein possessed “Weapons of Mass Destruction.”

In the movie, Gun had already begun doubting President George W. Bush and Prime Minister Tony Blair’s pretext for assaulting Iraq. She is shown yelling at the television, such as when David Frost interviews Blair and she shouts “bloody liar!” at the screen. (Secrets enhances its verisimilitude by intercutting news clips with the actors’ dramatizations.)

To further complicate matters, Gun’s presumably Muslim husband Yasar (Palestinian actor Adam Bakri) is a Turk with a sketchy immigration status. The troubled translator surreptitiously prints out Koza’s message, and wrestles with her conscience as she tries, Hamlet-like, to decide what to do.

When the hard copy of Koza’s email is leaked to the The Observer, it ignites an internal fight. The British Sunday newspaper has been co-opted by the Blair government: In exchange for preferential treatment, including high level access, the liberal-leaning Observer has favored war, giving Blair “left cover” for attacking Iraq.

But journalists Bright and Ed Vulliamy (Rhys Ifans) of The Observer’s sister newspaper, The Guardian, a daily, argue for publishing the nefarious scheme. “You’re the press, not a PR agency for Blair,” Vulliamy insists to cautious editors.

After Vulliamy tracks Koza down, The Observer’s management relents and publishes Bright’s report in a March 2, 2003, front-page article headlined, “Revealed: U.S. Dirty Tricks to Win Vote on Iraq War.” All hell breaks loose: Gun is charged with violating the Official Secrets Act, which prohibits disclosure of confidential state information. She becomes a cause célèbre and is defended by Ben Emmerson (Ralph Fiennes), a human rights attorney in the William Kunstler/Michael Ratner tradition.


At nearly two hours long, Official Secrets raises a number of philosophical and political issues.  Following a private screening, Hood agreed with my observation that the film is of a piece with his 2007 Rendition and 2015 Eye in the Sky. The South African filmmaker referred to these features as his “trilogy,” as all three focus on different disturbing aspects of the post-9/11 “war on terror.”

Rendition dramatized the U.S. intelligence community’s pernicious policy of shipping terrorism suspects off to overseas black op sites to be tortured and imprisoned, absent being found guilty of any crimes. Eye challenged the ethics, accuracy, and efficiency of drone warfare…

If the press is the “fourth estate,” the cinema is arguably the “fifth estate.” By combining mass entertainment, drama, and first-rate acting with a true tale of an ordinary woman who stood up to the powers-that-be, Official Secrets indicts Blair, Bush, and other mass murderers in the court of public opinion—at a theater near you.

Official Secrets opens nationwide August 30.

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Tulsi: A Living Reminder of Iraq’s Liars and Apologists | The American Conservative

Posted by M. C. on August 5, 2019

Gore Vidal once christened his country the “United States of Amnesia,” explaining that Americans live in a perpetual state of a hangover: “Every morning we wake up having forgotten what happened the night before.”

https://www.theamericanconservative.com/articles/tulsi-a-living-reminder-of-iraqs-liars-and-apologists/

By David Masciotra

Estimates of the number of civilians who died during the war in Iraq range from 151,000 to 655,000. An additional 4,491 American military personnel perished in the war. Mozhgan Savabieasfahani, toxicologist at the University of Michigan, has organized several research expeditions to Iraq to measure the contamination and pollution still poisoning the air and water supply from the tons of munitions dropped during the war. It does not require any expertise to assume what the studies confirm: disease is still widespread and birth defects are gruesomely common. Back home, it is difficult to measure just how many struggle with critical injuries and post-traumatic stress disorder.

The gains of war in Iraq remain elusive, especially considering that the justifications for invasion—weapons of mass destruction, Saddam Hussein’s connection to al-Qaeda, the ambition to create a Western-style democracy at gunpoint—remain “murky at best.” That’s a quote from the 9/11 Commission’s conclusion on the so-called evidence linking Iraq to Osama bin Laden’s group, which actually did carry out the worst terrorist attack in American history.

As far as stupid and barbarous decisions are concerned, it is difficult to top the war in Iraq. It is also difficult to match its price tag, which, according to a recent Brown University study, amounts to $1.1 trillion.

Gore Vidal once christened his country the “United States of Amnesia,” explaining that Americans live in a perpetual state of a hangover: “Every morning we wake up having forgotten what happened the night before.”… Read the rest of this entry »

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