Saturday, June 14, 2014

A Week of American Pathology

Nothing expresses the shallow narcissism and brutal arrogance of the American political/media complex so much as its reaction to the cataclysm that is Iraq. To wit:

"Over the past decade, American troops have made extraordinary sacrifices to give Iraqis an opportunity to claim their own future.... Obviously our troops and the American people and the American taxpayers made huge investments and sacrifices in order to give Iraqis the opportunity to chart a better course, a better destiny.”   -- Barack Obama. He delivered his Friday remarks with obvious impatience and haste, Marine One ostentatiously revving up in the background. It sent the cynical message that he has better things to do.... like head off for a luxury vacation weekend in California, while the country that the US invaded is now indistinguishable from the last circle of Hell.

No mention at all from Obama of the extraordinary sacrifices that Iraqi civilians have made over the past eleven years. Instead, the dead, the maimed, and the dispossessed are blamed for being ingrates. From the Iraq Body Count website, here are statistics from just this month so far:

Friday 13 June: 34 killed

Mosul: 17 by gunfire.
Baghdad: 2 by IEDs.
Tarmiya: 3 by car bomb.
Baiji: 7 policemen by government shelling.
Tikrit: 3 policemen by government shelling.
Falluja: 2 poisoned after shelling of water plant.


Thursday 12 June: 23 killed

Baghdad: 4 by gunfire.
Falluja: 3 by shelling.
Diyala: 2 by gunfire.
Muqdadiya: 2 by gunfire, IED.
Kirkuk: 1 photographer in clashes.
Riyadh: 1 by IED.
Al Debes: 1 by IED.
Baiji: 1 child by gunfire.
Balad: 2 professors by gunfire.
Latifiya: 1 policeman in clashes.
Tikrit: 3 border guards, 2 bodies.


The total Iraqi body count stemming from the US invasion in 2003 varies, with some estimates going as high as 200,000. This contrasts with 4,486 American deaths in the war.

But hey -- it's all about US

Iraq’s unraveling should come as no surprise. We and others predicted that would happen as a result of the President’s decision to prematurely withdraw all American forces from Iraq. As early as 2011, we said this decision would be a strategic victory for our enemies, and that is what it has become. The President and his national security team in Washington are responsible for this catastrophe, and he should bring in a new team with a proven track record of success in Iraq – leaders like General David Petraeus, General Jack Keane, General James Mattis, Ambassador Ryan Crocker, and others. --- Neocon Nincompoop John McCain, who never started a war he wanted to end, who forgot who started the war, who forgot that Petraeus is now diversifying his destruction by fracking up the millions for a shady private equity outfit. And, that it was George Bush who set the timetable for ending the war.

"Will the United States be destroyed?"-- Wolf Blitzer, fulfilling his destiny of drumming up mindless fear to prop up tanking CNN ratings and to contribute to the endless profit of his diverse destructive corporate sponsors.

"We now have two administrations in a row that committed their worst foreign policy blunders in Iraq. By withdrawing too quickly from Iraq, by failing to build on the surge, the Obama administration has made some similar mistakes made during the early administration of George W. Bush, except in reverse. The dangers of American underreach have been lavishly and horrifically displayed." -- David Brooks, one of the original New York Times armchair warriors, getting his perverted jollies by describing death and destruction in "Doctor Ruth" terms of sexual dysfunction.

And then there are the headlines of the major outlets, all framing the crisis around how it will affect the personal fortunes and legacies of self-seeking American politicians. Some examples:

Obama Finds He Can't Put Iraq Behind Him -- Peter Baker, NYT, twists logic on its ear in this piece:
He opposed the invasion as a state senator in Illinois, and many of his decisions as president have been measured against the lessons he took from Iraq. To him, the war proved that military intervention more often than not made things worse, not better.
When he agreed to send more troops to Afghanistan, he insisted on a timetable for pulling them out. When he decided to intervene in Libya, he used only air power and made sure that NATO allies took the lead. When the Syrian civil war broke out, he resisted calls to step in even with air power or, for a long time, arms for the rebels. The longer he has been in office, the more skeptical he seems to have grown about the utility of force as a means of changing the world for the better.
Wow, what a relief. When Obama invades countries, he makes up a timetable. (just like Bush.) When Obama bombs countries, he makes sure only foreigners get killed.  Baker conveniently forgets to mention that it was Obama who wanted to bomb the hell out of Syria, but was thwarted at the last minute by Putin's diplomatic intervention in getting Assad to remove his chemical weapon stockpile.

Moving on, how can we forget how badly Iraq has affected Hillary Clinton's grand roll-out of a book tour?  The Hill, purveyor of all things insider-Beltway, has the cataclysmic scoop: Iraq Casts Shadow Over Clinton: 
The growing crisis and threat of all-out civil war in Iraq has cast a cloud over Hillary Clinton’s book tour touting her accomplishments as secretary of State.
The release of “Hard Choices” was supposed to remind people of the foreign policy credentials she burnished in the Obama administration.
 On Tuesday, White House spokesman Josh Earnest even said Clinton’s greatest accomplishments at the State Department included ending the war in Iraq and “decimating and destroying” al Qaeda.
Well, it was only the Eve of Destruction and his name is Josh Earnest.And then The Hill quotes something truly bizarre that Hill said in 2011:
“Are the Iraqis all going to get along with each other for the foreseeable future? Well, let’s find out. We know that there will be continuing stresses and threats as we see in many of the countries that we work,” she said then. (bold is mine.)
But let the narcissistic weirdness continue. As Iraq was exploding, Hillary was touring. And she is having the time of her life! From Buzzfeed's account of a staged Friday night interview with former aide and (current?) ghostwriter Lissa Muscatine:
“You’re traveling all over the place. You’re doing all these interviews. You’re keeping a pretty frenetic pace,” Muscatine said before an audience of 1,500. “I’m wondering, just as I’ve watched you, in these past four days — you’ve had some tough interviews — you seem like you’re having a really good time.”
“Well, Lissa, I am having a good time.”
“You’re really free to speak your mind these days,” Muscatine said.
“Maybe it’s just the wonderful wealth of experience that I now have,” Clinton went on. “Maybe it’s because I am truly done with, you know, being really careful about what to say because somebody might think this instead of that.”
“It just gets too exhausting and frustrating and it just seemed a whole lot easier to just put it out there and hope people get used to it. Whether you agree with it or not, you know exactly where I come from, what I think, what I feel.”
“It feels a little bit liberating, to be honest.”
“And it’s great to watch,” Muscatine said. “I have to say.”
Can't you just hardly wait for the next decade or so of this vicarious freedom and liberation as Hillary works the countries of the globe? Stay tuned for the corporate media-rehabbed George's next self-portrait of his feet. Then thrill to the awarding of the location of Obama's legacy-burnishing shrine to himself.

Update: Chelsea Manning has written an op-ed for the NYT on the disconnect between the reality of the Iraq War and the USG-controlled media reporting of it. Journalists who are cozy with the military and report favorably on its activities are given special access. Others are shut out. Journalists in Iraq were even forced to sign something that sounds suspiciously like a "loyalty oath."


Pearl said...

Veterans Watch as Gains Their Friends Died for Are Erased
by Insurgents

Copy and paste this URL into your browser:

James F Traynor said...

Pearl,that was one sad piece. Those guys were living (and those still alive are living) in a kind of bubble. How can they be so naive? That dead,square-jawed, all American captain? What goes on in their minds? Sad.

annenigma said...

Thanks for the link to Chelsea's op-ed - when I initially went to the NYT homepage I couldn't find it.

She makes important points. It's so good to know she's got a voice now that he didn't have before.

More! More!

Zee said...

“We now have two administrations in a row that committed their worst foreign policy blunders in Iraq. By withdrawing too quickly from Iraq, by failing to build on the surge, the Obama administration has made some similar mistakes made during the early administration of George W. Bush, except in reverse. The dangers of American underreach have been lavishly and horrifically displayed.” —David Brooks (My bold emphasis.)

Underreach? Err...How about unnecessary, pointless overreach?

In 2003 I was stupid enough to believe George Bush's cooked-up intelligence that Saddam Hussein had WMDs and was just spoiling to use them. Even when people in my company's own analysis groups were convinced otherwise. (Not that our people—far removed from the Beltway—held any real sway with the big-time, three-letter agencies who were busy faking the case for Dubya.) The need for war was already clear in the minds of the Neocons; only the justification had to be ginned up for public consumption. And I bought it, like (almost) everybody else.

It didn't take me very long to realize that the whole thing was a hoax. We should never have become involved in Iraq in the first place.

We should have focused on Afghanistan, kicked the Taliban and al Qaeda out—as we did—quickly declared victory and left the Afghans to clean up the remaining mess as the price they would have to pay for playing host to terrorists.

Rather than staying around to build a nation that will never exist, we should have simply warned the Afghans that we would be back to kick ass and take names as we did before should they ever provide al Qaeda with “operating space” again.

Once we invaded Iraq, in our arrogance and ineptitude we completely and irreversibly broke the most fragile portion of the Middle East, a set of fictional boundaries overlain on a bunch of fractious tribes by the British Foreign Office following the defeat/collapse of the Ottoman empire.

And now, no amount of effort on our part—drone attacks, manned airstrikes, etc. —will ever put it back together again as it was.

It should have been left to the Iraqi people—not that there ever has been a unified Iraqi people as such—to decide when they had had enough of Saddam Hussein, and acted on their own authority.

Instead, we chose to “help” them along. In so doing, we have caused untold misery to the Iraqi people since 2003, and they are destined for even more.

So now our political pundits argue over who “lost” Iraq—when we never should have tried to “win” it in the first place—and now those who had the misfortune to fight there and watched friends and colleagues die, wonder what the hell it was all about.

Our country has made serious and tragic mistakes in the past, and I don't need Howard Zinn's book to tell me that. But for the first time in my life, I am personally truly ashamed of my country and my government.

A great and tragic article, Karen.

And thanks to you, Pearl, for the sad New York Times piece.

Anonymous said...


A very interesting article by Chelsea Manning. I'm surprised that she was allowed by TPTB to publish such a damning article in the NYT since it concerned our past military activities in Iraq.

One might have thought that TPTB could easily have stamped a "Classified" label on it and prevented it from ever seeing the light of day.

Interesting, and puzzling.

Zee said...

Oops! The foregoing "Anonymous" was me, Zee.

Pearl said...

Karen: regarding the statistics from the Iraq Body count website: Just change the names of the cities in towns in that list from Iraq to American towns and cities and no one might question the numbers.

ste-vo said...

Words fail me. Completely. And thanks for the link to the Iraq Body Count.

Will said...


Just cruising around Twitter & saw a couple of tweets with links to your "Obama Bombs" & "A Week Of American Pathology" posts by a Gabrielle Verdier from Paris (@GabyVerdier). Small world, huh?

Btw, would love to see you on Twitter having a cool conversation with Glenn Greenwald (@ggreenwald) someday. Think about it. :)

Denis Neville said...


I must return to commend you on your excellent response to yet another Krugman glowing platitude, “Yes He Could.”

“The public have an insatiable curiosity to know everything. Except what is worth knowing. Journalism, conscious of this, and having tradesman-like habits, supplies their demands.” - Oscar Wilde

This has to be the best of all possible worlds!!!

“The Pope's-nose of a featherless peacock.” - Ambrose Bierce, The Devil's Dictionary

The O-bots persist in keeping their heads in the bubble.

Commenter Mark Street writes:

“Karen - At the risk of having your wrath turned on me, you must stop being the enemy of the good. Ships of state are massive, and it takes time to turn them. Especially one with as many holes in it as ours. Anyway, I think it's nice when Dr. Pangloss ISN'T gloomy once in a darn while.”

Dr. Pangloss and O-bots, when things go wrong, don't go wrong with them. The worst of all deceptions is self-deception.

Keep speaking truth to power, Karen. Give 'em hell!!!


Karen Garcia said...


Thanks for writing, I have really missed you (and your pithy quotes.)

I'll expand on/link to the Krugman column later for those who don't have a subscription. It truly is a masterpiece of neo-Panglossianism... and I imagine it will be quoted extensively on MSNBC for about a year.

Zee said...


It is indeed good to hear from you! I, too, have missed your pithy quotes and encyclopedic memory and knowledge.

You stopped commenting with such abruptness that it would be good to know--no details necessary--that all is well with you, or, at least OK.

Best wishes,


Zee said...

Related to Karen's comment on Krugman's column, well, the government giveth and the government can taketh away:

"The Obama administration is contacting hundreds of thousands of people with subsidized health insurance to resolve questions about their eligibility, as consumer advocates express concern that many will be required to repay some or all of the subsidies.

Of the eight million people who signed up for private health plans through insurance exchanges under the new health care law, two million reported personal information that differed from data in government records, according to federal officials and Serco, the company hired to resolve such inconsistencies.

The government is asking consumers for additional documents to verify their income, citizenship, immigration status and Social Security numbers, as well as any health coverage that they may have from employers. People who do not provide the information risk losing their subsidized coverage and may have to repay subsidies next April."

Will said...

Denis! Great hearing from you again. Hope all is well. Stick around for a while, will ya? We've missed you silly, man. :)

Pearl said...

I am so happy to see your contribution once more Denis. You have been missed greatly.

I hope more of your bright contributions will be coming in. We need every bit of support we can get.