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“de-Baathification Program”: Bush/Cheney Created Conditions That Led Directly To ISIL

It takes a lot of gall for people like Dick Cheney to utter even one critical word about President Obama’s strategy to eliminate the threat of ISIL in the Middle East.

In fact, it was the unnecessary Bush/Cheney Iraq War that created the conditions that led directly to the rise of the “Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant” (ISIL).

Former George H.W. Bush Secretary of State James Baker said as much on this week’s edition of “Meet the Press.” He noted that after the first President Bush had ousted Saddam Hussein from Kuwait in 1991, the U.S. had refrained from marching on Baghdad precisely to avoid kicking over the sectarian hornet’s nest that was subsequently unleashed by the Bush/Cheney attack on Iraq in 2003.

But it wasn’t just the War in Iraq itself that set the stage for the subsequent 12 years of renewed, high-intensity sectarian strife between Sunni’s and Shiites in the Middle East. It was also what came after.

Bush’s “de-Baathification program” eliminated all vestiges of Sunni power in Iraqi society and set the stage for the Sunni insurrection against American occupation and the new Shiite-led government. Bush disbanded the entire Sunni-dominated Iraqi Army and bureaucracy. He didn’t change it. He didn’t make it more inclusive of Shiites and Kurds. He just disbanded it. It is no accident that two of the top commanders of today’s ISIL are former commanders in the Saddam-era Iraqi military.

General Petraeus took steps to reverse these policies with his “Sunni Awakening” programs that engaged the Sunni tribes against what was then known as Al Qaeda in Iraq. But the progress he made ultimately collapsed because the Bush/Cheney regime helped install Nouri Al-Maliki as Prime Minister who systematically disenfranchised Sunnis throughout Iraq.

And that’s not all. The War in Iraq — which had nothing whatsoever to do with “terrorism” when it was launched — created massive numbers of terrorists that otherwise would not have dreamed of joining extremist organizations. It did so by killing massive numbers of Iraqis, creating hundreds of thousands of refugees, imprisoning thousands, and convincing many residents of the Middle East that the terrorist narrative was correct: that the U.S. and the West were really about taking Muslim lands.

And after all, contrary to Dick Cheney’s absurd assertion that U.S. forces would be greeted in Iraq as “liberators,” no one likes a foreign nation to occupy their country.

The War did more than any propagandist could possibly do to radicalize vulnerable young people. And by setting off wave after wave of sectarian slaughter it created blood feuds that will never be forgiven.

The Iraq War — and the Sunni power vacuum caused first by U.S. policies and then Al Maliki — created the perfect conditions that allowed a vicious band of extremists to take huge swaths of territory.

And now many of the same people who caused this foreign policy disaster have the audacity to criticize President Obama’s measured efforts to clean up the mess they created. And they do so often without ever saying what they themselves would do to solve the horrific problems that they created.

It reminds you of a bunch of arsonists standing at the scene of a fire criticizing the techniques used by the firefighters who are trying to extinguish the blaze they themselves have set.

Oh, they say: “If you had just left a residual force after the withdrawal of U.S. troops everything would be hunky dory.”

Do they really think that several thousand U.S. troops would have solved Iraq’s problems when hundreds of thousands failed to do so?

And of course they conveniently forget to mention that neither the Iraqi’s nor the U.S. voters wanted a “residual” force to remain in Iraq. And they forget that the Iraqi government would not agree to conditions that would allow a “residual” force to be stationed in Iraq.

Or perhaps they wish U.S. troops were now going door to door in Iraq cities rooting out adherents to ISIL? Only a few neo-con die-hards want more U.S. troops on the ground in the Middle East.

Or then there is the refrain that President Obama should have helped “arm” the moderate Syrian opposition earlier. Let’s remember that had he acted at an earlier point it is entirely likely that many of those arms would now be in ISIL hands — and we must be extremely careful even now to avoid precisely that problem in the days ahead.

The president’s response to ISIL is supported by almost two-thirds of Americans because it seems to be the only reasonable response where the cure is not worse than the disease.

It recognizes that the problem posed by ISIL must first and foremost be dealt with by other Sunni’s in the region. It is aimed at building an international coalition to degrade and ultimately destroy the ability of this vicious organization to threaten people in the Middle East or elsewhere. And it relies on American airpower to bolster the abilities of other Sunni forces to accomplish this goal.

But most Americans also realize this will not be easy — and they’re right. It won’t be easy to clean up the horrific mess created by the Bush/Cheney policies in the Middle East.

Frankly, I don’t think that any of the architects of the Iraq War should ever be invited on TV to say one word about foreign policy — and especially the Middle East. They have zero credibility to comment. They have been wrong over and over again and created the conditions that spawned the problems we face today.

But if they are invited to act as “talking heads,” interviewers must at least have the common decency to point out their failed track record — and to demand that they do more than criticize the president’s efforts to clean up their mistakes. They must also be required to tell us exactly what they would do to fix it.

And if any of them actually do propose a course of action, you can pretty much be sure that based on their past track records, that course of action is wrong.

 

By: Robert Creamer, Partner, Democracy Partners; The Huffington Post Blog, September 15, 2014

 

 

September 18, 2014 Posted by | Bush-Cheney Administration, Iraq War, Neo-Cons | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Once Again Senators”: Obama Prosecutes Terrorist Suspect And The “Little Generals” Complain Again

Sulaiman Abu Ghaith, Osama bin Laden’s son-in-law and an al Qaeda spokesperson, appeared in a New York courtroom this morning, and pleaded not guilty to plotting to kill Americans. It was his first court appearance after having been captured on Feb. 28 and flown to New York last week.

Of course, there apparently has to be a political angle to the proceedings, and as Adam Serwer noted, several congressional Republicans are “furious” at the Obama administration for “prosecuting an alleged terrorist.” And why might that be? Because the GOP officials disapprove of the use of the federal court system.

Several Senate Republicans are slamming the administration’s to move its latest terror suspect through the federal court system, bypassing the military tribunals in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. […]

“Military detention for enemy combatants has been the rule, not the exception. By processing terrorists like [Ghaith] through civilian courts, the administration risks missing important opportunities to gather intelligence to prevent future attacks and save lives,” according to a joint statement by Sens. Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.), Lindsey Graham (R.S.C.) and John McCain (R-Ariz.).

Do we really have to explain this to Congress again?

Look, we have a very capable system of federal courts, which have tried and convicted plenty of terrorists. We have also have a terrific system of federal penitentiaries, which have a record of never, ever allowing a convicted terrorist to escape.

On the other hand, we also have a system of military commissions, which tend to be an ineffective setting for trying suspected terrorists. It’s why every modern presidential administration has relied on civilian courts for these kinds of trials. It’s why the Pentagon, Justice Department, and intelligence agencies are unanimous in their support for trying accused terrorists in civilian courts. It’s why folks like David Petraeus and Colin Powell — retired generals McCain, Graham, and Ayotte tend to take seriously — agree with the Obama administration and endorse Article III trials.

So why must Republicans rely on stale, misleading talking points?

 

By: Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, March 8, 2013

March 10, 2013 Posted by | National Security | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Blown Out Of The Water Like Naval Scrap”: Petraeus Benghazi Testimony Shreds GOP Attack On Rice

On Friday the Republican politicians who had so angrily demanded the testimony of David Petraeus about Benghazi got what they wanted—and what they deserved—when the former CIA director set forth the facts proving that their conspiracy theories and witch-hunts are dead wrong.

Appearing behind closed doors on Capitol Hill, Gen. Petraeus, recently resigned from the spy agency over his illicit affair with biographer Paula Broadwell, answered questions from legislators concerning the tragic Sept. 11 assault that left Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other diplomatic personnel dead.

When the session concluded, Petraeus was spirited away. And Senator John McCain (R-AZ), whose criticism of the Obama administration over Benghazi has verged on hysterical, emerged from the hearing room with very little to say to the reporters waiting outside.

“General Petraeus’ briefing was comprehensive. I think it was important; it added to our ability to make judgments about what was clearly a failure of intelligence, and described his actions and that of his agency and their interactions with other agencies,” said McCain, adding, “I appreciate his service and his candor” before abruptly fleeing as reporters tried to question him.

McCain’s curt statement was in sharp contrast to his voluble remarks on Thursday, when he denounced UN Ambassador Susan Rice for what he and Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) described as her misleading description of the attack on Sunday television shows a few days after it occurred. (It later emerged, embarrassingly, that his posturing before the cameras on Benghazi had prevented him from attending a scheduled hearing on that subject. He didn’t want to to discuss that either.)

Essentially, McCain and Graham, joined by Senator Kelly Ayotte (R-NH), accused Rice on Thursday of lying and covering up the fact that the Benghazi consulate had been attacked by terrorists affiliated with al Qaeda. They vowed to prevent her confirmation as Secretary of State, should the president nominate her to replace Hillary Rodham Clinton.

But with McCain departing so abruptly after the Petraeus hearing, it was left to others, including House Intelligence Committee chair Peter King (R-NY), Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), and Sen. Kent Conrad (D-ND) to reveal what their Arizona colleague didn’t care to discuss. In his testimony, Petraeus blew apart the half-baked theories offered by McCain and Graham—and left them looking foolish.

On earlier occasions, King had echoed the same complaints made by McCain and Graham, but after Friday’s hearing he reluctantly admitted the truth: Petraeus had confirmed that the CIA had approved the talking points used by Rice, tentatively blaming the incident on a notorious anti-Muslim video sparking demonstrations in Cairo and elsewhere at the time. Although Petraeus said he had believed that terrorists were responsible, that suggestion was removed from the talking points in order to protect the ongoing FBI investigation into Benghazi, which Rice also mentioned.

As King explained in response to reporters’ questions, Petraeus not only confirmed that any allusion to al Qaeda had been removed from the talking points given to Rice, but that his agency had consented to that decision:

Q: Did he say why it was taken out of the talking points that [the attack] was al Qaeda affiliated?

KING: He didn’t know.

Q: He didn’t know? What do you mean he didn’t know?

KING: They were not involved—it was done, the process was completed and they said, “OK, go with those talking points.” Again, it’s interagency—I got the impression that 7, 8, 9 different agencies.

Q: Did he give you the impression that he was upset it was taken out?

KING: No.

Q: You said the CIA said “OK” to the revised report –

KING: No, well, they said in that, after it goes through the process, they OK’d it to go. Yeah, they said “Okay for it to go.”

In short, Rice was using declassified talking points, developed and approved by the intelligence community, when she discussed the Benghazi attack. So McCain’s nasty personal denunciation of her , along with most of his claims about how the White House handled Benghazi, has been blown out of the water like so much naval scrap. The Arizona senator, his colleagues, and their loud enablers on Fox News and elsewhere in the wingnut media will never apologize to Rice. But that is what they owe her.

By: Joe Conason, The National Memo, November 17, 2012

November 19, 2012 Posted by | Politics | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

   

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