The Legacy of Obama’s Presidency (Ezekiel 17)

Contradictions Abound At Obama’s Final Nuclear Security Summit – Analysis

US President Barack Obama speaks at United Nations
US President Barack Obama speaks at United Nations. Photo Credit: Screenshot from White House video.
 
By K.N. Pandita

In his Prague speech of 2009, President Obama touched on an important subject for the first time. He talked about security against nuclear terror, meaning the need to nuclear arsenals against falling into the hands of non-state actors. A year later, the first meeting of stakeholders (NSS) numbering no fewer than 53, was held in Washington to deliberate and gradually inch towards a consensus formula of how nuclear arsenals could be safeguarded.

The fourth and perhaps final meeting of the NSS, to which India and Pakistan have also been invited, is to be held in Washington at the end of March. President Putin of Russia has declined to participate.
India and Pakistan, two nuclear countries in South Asia, count fairly well in the deliberations and in the decision likely to come out of the final round of talks.

In a news briefing in Washington in October 2015, Pakistan Foreign Secretary Aizaz Chaudhury disclosed for the first time that his country had made low-yield tactical nuclear weapons “for use in the event of a sudden attack by its larger neighbor.”

Two days later, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif met with President Obama. Reports suggest that they talked about Pakistan’s nuclear program, Afghanistan, and militant groups such as the Haqqani network and Lashkar-e-Tayyiba – both banned organizations in the U.S.

Quoting Pervez Hoodhbhoy, a nuclear physicist and independent security analyst based in Lahore, BBC reported in a news commentary on October 21, 2015: “The fact that Pakistan was making small tactical nuclear weapons was clear to the world from the day Pakistan started its missile program. It meant that Pakistan had developed low-yield nuclear warheads to be delivered by those missiles at short ranges in a battlefield having localized impact, unlike big bombs designed to destroy cities.”
Experts say that the 2011 testing of a nuclear-capable Nasr missile by Pakistan, with a 60 kilometers range, was an indication that Pakistan was building an arsenal of tactical nuclear weapons for use in a theater of war.

Hasan Askari Rizvi, a Lahore-based expert on defense and security issues, suspects that Pakistan may have designed even smaller nuclear weapons, capable of being shot from a specially-designed gun.
Objectively speaking, battlefield weapons could be more dangerous than larger weapons because in the event of a conflict, they will need to be spread out, deployed at multiple locations closer to the targets, and would need to be fired at short notice. BBC also made the cryptic remark that “evidently, Pakistan has acquired this technology from China and it is not possible to block that pipeline.”
The question is whether nuclear command and control procedures will always be adequately ensured for all the missile units deployed across the theatre?

In addition to this concern, should not Western powers and the U.S. in particular take note of the fact that Pakistan developed these weapons despite nuclear-related international sanctions in force since 1998, after it carried out its first nuclear test?

How then is the U.S. reacting to this situation in the context of NSS program? Let us put it succinctly. Speaking during a hearing on Pakistan convened by the House Foreign Affairs Committee, US Special Representative for Af-Pak, Richard Olson said that Obama administration shares the concerns of lawmakers particularly about the development of Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal. “We are concerned most by the pace and scope of Pakistan’s missile program, including its pursuit of nuclear systems,” he said.

Replying to a question from Congressman Brian Higgins, Olson said that the U.S. was concerned a conventional conflict in Southwest Asia could escalate to include nuclear weapons as well as the increased security challenges that accompany growing stockpiles. He said the U.S. had a very active dialogue at the highest levels with the Pakistanis in which US concerns were stated.
US official circles assert they have urged Pakistan to restrain her nuclear weapons and missile development, which might invite increased risk to nuclear safety, security, or strategic stability.
On this basis, US lawmakers have asked their government to be tough on Islamabad “as it does not seem to be sincere in improving ties with India and has accelerated the pace of arsenals’ production.”
According to the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Pakistan could have 350 nuclear warheads in the next decade, becoming the world’s third biggest nuclear power, outpacing India, France, China, and the UK. Expressing himself forcefully on the subject, Higgins said, “We have to call them (Pakistan) out on this double game they have been playing, not this year, not last year, not five years, but for the past 15 years…. Pakistan, let’s be truthful about this, plays a double game. They are our military partner, but they are the protector and the patron of our enemies. US aid to Pakistan, economic and military, has averaged $2 billion a year.”

Attendees of the Nuclear Security Summit, particularly the United States, must be aware that Pakistan with its 189 million population – many of them Islamic extremists – has nuclear weapons. To have Islamic extremists with nuclear weapons is a primary goal of al-Qaeda and it would be a major victory for them and the outgrowth of al-Qaeda namely the Islamic State, avers Higgins.
Covering the strategic dialogue between the high-powered Pakistani delegation led by Adviser for Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz, with their American counterpart in Washington, the Webdesk reported on 9 March that “Sartaj Aziz insisted that Islamabad would not accept any unilateral curb on its program. Any reduction must also apply to India and it must address the conventional imbalance between the two countries.” He pointed out that Pakistan did not have the resources to match India’s ever-increasing arsenal of conventional weapons and was forced to depend on non-conventional means to defend it.” Another important statement which Aziz made on that day was that Pakistan was hosting some Taliban leaders…

It is clear that Pakistan has decided to use nuclear option in case of war with India and that it is not ruling out the possibility of hosting the Taliban for whatever purposes.

What then should be the foremost agenda of the Nuclear Security Summit in Washington on 31 March? Obviously, it should be a detailed review of Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal in the backdrop of how Islamabad tries to justify its relentless effort to increase its nuclear stockpile, including limited tactical nuclear weapon.

However, deeper study on the scenario throws up a contradiction in the words and practice of the U.S. The joint statement issued by Kerry and Sartaj after the conclusion of strategic dialogue belies the stated intentions of the U.S. The joint statement is a long eulogy on the “achievements” of Pakistan in meeting the challenge of the terrorists in the northern part of the country. John Kerry had full-throated praises and encomiums for the Pakistani Army fighting the “terrorists” in Pakistan’s north, but not a single word or hint about the terrorist engines on Pakistani soil working against India and Afghanistan. Proliferation of Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal and induction of tactical nuclear weapons in that arsenal did not figure in their joint statement.

Newsdesk of February 29, 2016 referred to a transcript released in Washington showing Secretary Kerry arguing in two congressional hearings that “the U.S. has been working really hard” to advance a rapprochement between Islamabad and India. In one statement he indirectly confirmed media reports that the U.S. was quietly encouraging the two prime ministers to hold bilateral talks.

How he looks at the stand-off between India and Pakistan, is reflected in his statement that Pakistan has deployed 150,000 to 180,000 troops along the Pak-Afghan border, and in case of a conflict with India Pakistan would have to redeploy the bulk of its forces on her eastern front. Thus what Kerry actually wants Pakistan to do is to fight against the Al Qaeda and Taliban outfits on her western front and keep the so-called non-state actors active on her eastern front against India.

The Webdesk of March 9 said that unlike it did with Iran, the U.S. does not want Pakistan to shut down its nuclear program. But it does want Islamabad to reduce the size of its arsenal.

During a testimony in the Senate where the bill against the sale of 8 F-16 to Pakistan was defeated by 71 to 24 votes, Secretary Kerry passionately defended the sale of Lockheed Martin F-16 fighter jets to Pakistan, saying that the U.S. is committed to boosting Pakistan’s strategic capabilities in its war against terrorists.
In other words, Kerry means to say that only the Taliban and Al Qaeda outfits who are fighting against Pakistan in KP region are the terrorists Pakistan should fight against and the scores of other terrorist groups in Pakistan are outside the pale of terrorism. The Mumbai attacks and the recent attack on Pathankot airbase are no terrorist activities for him.

The sale of the F-16s aside, the Obama administration in February 2015 asked Congress to provide more than $1 billion in aid to Pakistan, including a six-fold increase in foreign military financing. The budget proposal described Pakistan as a “strategically important nation” and the proposed US assistance “will strengthen its military in the fight against extremism [and] increase the safety of nuclear installations”

This lays bare the doublespeak of the U.S. on the much trumpeted Nuclear Security Summit, to which President Obama has invited Prime Minister Narendra Modi to participate.

All this notwithstanding, BBC said in its commentary of 9 March that there are suggestions that the U.S. may offer Pakistan membership in the Nuclear Supplies Group, with legitimate access to available research and technology, in return for some curbs on fissile material production and its missile program. Sartaj Aziz already reacted this by saying that Pakistan will not accept any unilateral curbs unless same are applied to India.

This article was published at Geopolitical Monitor.com

Politics as usual from Obama (Ezekiel 17)

Updated: Jan 6, 2016 – 1:00 AM
North Korea said it has conducted a hydrogen bomb test — a move that would put the country a step closer to improving its still-limited nuclear arsenal.
National Security Council spokesman Ned Price said late Tuesday that the U.S. is monitoring the situation “in close coordination with our regional partners.”
“While we cannot confirm these claims at this time, we condemn any violation of UN Security Council resolutions and again call on North Korea to abide by its international obligations and commitments,” he said,
North Korea conducted its first nuclear test in 2006 and, until today has done so twice since, Price said, “but we have consistently made clear that we will not accept it as a nuclear state.”
“We will continue to protect and defend our allies in the region, including the Republic of Korea,” he said, “and will respond appropriately to any and all North Korean provocations.”

A House Divided! House Rejects Iran Deal (Matthew 12:21)

 
House rejects Iran nuclear deal
By Deirdre Walsh, CNN Senior Congressional Producer
Updated 3:23 PM ET, Fri September 11, 2015

Washington (CNN)A day after the Senate secured President Barack Obama’s Iran nuclear deal, blocking a Republican resolution to scuttle it, the GOP-led House pressed forward with a pair of votes designed to show a majority of the chamber disapproves of the agreement.

The votes come at the same time that the White House announced a visit from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is in the works. Netanyahu has strenuously opposed the deal and appeared before Congress in March to lobby against it.

The Prime Minister will probably visit the White House in “early November,” White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said in a press briefing Friday. No specific date was given.

The fresh House votes can’t prevent the administration from starting to implement the agreement later this month, but Republicans want to send a political message.

A bill approving of the nuclear deal was resoundingly defeated, with 25 Democrats joining House Republicans in expressing opposition to the pact. One Republican, Kentucky Rep. Tom Massie, voted “present.”

On a second vote largely along party lines, the House passed legislation stating that the President could not unilaterally lift statutory sanctions. The measure was non-binding, and Senate Republicans have no plans to advance the bill. The vote was 247 to 186, with two Democrats voting with Republicans.

House Republicans recognize that after a relentless White House campaign to bolster Democratic support — giving Obama enough votes to sustain a veto of any anti-Iran deal bill — that they would not be able to prevent the administration from beginning implementation of the pact later this month. But they insisted that their framework of votes on the nuclear deal, in particular a vote Thursday afternoon, would set up a potential lawsuit.

That non-binding resolution states that the President violated the law by not giving Congress the details on “side deals” to the nuclear agreement related to inspections of Iranian sites, which are government by secret arrangements between Tehran and the U.N.’s International Atomic Energy Agency.

Ahead of the House votes Friday, Illinois GOP Rep. Peter Roskam railed against the Iran deal and suggested the fight against it isn’t over in a speech on the House floor.

“Is this just a bad idea or is it the worst idea ever?” he asked. “The notion that this is all done and this is just a settled case — it’s not.”

Coming on the 14th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, the debate on the House floor Friday was at times emotional.

Pennsylvania Republican Rep. Mike Kelly stood next to a large poster of New York’s Twin Towers and argued that letting the deal go through threatened national security.

New York Democratic Rep. Joe Crowley called out Republicans for scheduling the final vote on 9/11, accusing them of trying to “stir emotions.”

Noting that he lost a cousin in the 9/11 attacks, along with friends and constituents, he said his decision to support the White House was a tough one.

But Crowley added that after giving then-President George W. Bush the benefit of the doubt to approve the war in Iraq in 2002, he would give the same benefit to the current president “to take us to peace.”

Obama released a statement after the House votes stressing that the vast majority of House Democrats went on record supporting the deal.

“As we conclude the most consequential national security debate since the decision to invade Iraq, I am gratified that the lawmakers, led by Democratic Leader (Nancy) Pelosi, who have taken care to judge the deal on the merits are joining our allies and partners around the world in taking steps that will allow for the implementation of this long-term, comprehensive deal,” he said.

White House Tries To Discredit Schumer (Ezekiel 17)

  

Schumer points to White House in leak of Iran vote position

By Deirdre Walsh, CNN Senior Congressional Produce
Updated 6:25 PM ET, Tue August 11, 2015

Washington (CNN)New York Sen. Chuck Schumer, the lone Senate Democrat to publicly come out against the Iran deal, suggested Tuesday that the White House deliberately leaked his decision to oppose the agreement Thursday night before he had a chance to explain his “no” vote to colleagues.
“I told the president the day before and I don’t think he leaked it, but maybe somebody in the White House did, maybe somebody else did. I’m not pointing fingers,” Schumer told reporters after a speech at New York University on Tuesday.

The White House has denied being behind the media leak.

Schumer’s comments are the latest salvo between the New York senator and a White House at odds on a centerpiece of Obama’s foreign policy legacy. Former Obama aides and progressive outside groups have harshly attacked Schumer since his position became public and have questioned whether he’s fit to be the next Senate Democratic leader.

Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois, the No. 2 Senate Democrat, threw cold water on this idea Tuesday, telling The Hill that he still supported Schumer. So far, no senators have come out against him as the next Senate Democratic leader.

Schumer was long thought to oppose the deal, but the timing of his statement of opposition — ahead of Congress’s summer recess, when members are expected to come under intense lobbying from both sides, rather than closer to the vote when revealing his position would be less influential — has particularly distressed the White House.

Congress will hold a vote on the Iran deal in September. While the White House is confident that they have enough votes to sustain an expected presidential veto should Congress reject the deal, they are counting every body.

Schumer raised the issue of a possible White House leak himself Tuesday in response to a question about the timing of his lengthy post on Medium that outlined his concerns about the deal. The leak of his decision came out in the middle of the Republican presidential debate last Thursday night, presumably when it would receive less attention, and the Medium piece appeared soon after.
The New York Democrat said he planned to publish the piece the day after the GOP debate, but his hand was forced by the leak.

Even though he was the one to aim the blame at the White House, Schumer appeared to downplay the episode Tuesday, saying, “Things always leak in Washington. So I don’t begrudge anybody for doing it.”
And he also minimized the split with the President. “The President and I had a very serious discussion about it,” he said. “We like each other, respect each other, work together on 95% of the issues.”

The President’s allies, though, are taking the breach seriously. David Plouffe, a former senior official in the Obama White House, continued the Democrat-on-Democrat war against Schumer late on Monday when he tweeted out a link to a story quoting Schumer urging the administration to try to negotiate a better deal.

“Mitch McConnell will have a field day with this kind of naïveté. We will miss Harry Reid,” Plouffe tweeted.

The current Senate Democratic Leader, Harry Reid of Nevada, announced his retirement in March and Schumer quickly locked up commitments from fellow Democrats to ascend to his post in January 2017.

White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest, however, denied the White House had any part in the leak at a press briefing Friday.

An administration source also told CNN on Tuesday that they learned about Schumer’s opposition from sources on Capitol Hill before the senator informed them, implying several people knew of his position and raising the specter that others had leaked the information.

Schumer said fellow Democrats understand where he stands and aren’t telling him they won’t back him because of it.

Schumer said Tuesday that he plans to try to “persuade” undecided Democrats to help him block the deal but insisted he wasn’t twisting any arms on what he called “a vote of conscience.”

“Certainly I’m going to try and persuade my colleagues that my viewpoint is right. But anyone who thinks you can force somebody to vote with you in the Senate doesn’t understand the Senate.”

Missouri Democratic Rep. Claire McCaskill told Yahoo News’ Katie Couric that Schumer is “one of my best friends” and said she spoke with him since he announced his opposition to the deal, but that he didn’t lean on her vote against it.

McCaskill added that Schumer “checked in” with her and that “he understands that this is a tough call.”

Schumer said any effort to engage in “some kind of horse-trading” in return for a vote on the agreement would be “counterproductive.”
 

Meanwhile, in Israel opponents of the deal were also trying their hand at persuasion.

On the heels of a visit by Democrat members of Congress, Israel’s President Reuven Rivlin hosted a delegation of 36 House Republicans on Tuesday. The group was led by House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy of California, a vocal critic of the Iran deal.

“We fear that the agreement with Iran is a first step in the legitimization of Iran’s policies and strategies, and only acts to further destabilize a chaotic region,” Rivlin told the lawmakers.

More Democrats Align Against Iran Deal

image
3 House Democrats Say They Will Oppose Iran Deal

By Jason Devaney
Tuesday, 04 Aug 2015 20:48 PM

Three Democrats in the House said Tuesday they are against the nuclear agreement made with Iran and will work to have it shot down when the chamber votes on it next month.

Reps. Steve Israel, D-N.Y., an assistant Democratic Whip; Nita Lowey, D-N.Y., the ranking Democrat on the House Appropriations Committee; and Ted Deutch, D-Fla., the ranking Democrat on the Middle East Subcommittee of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, are opposed to the deal struck last month between Iran and the group of nations called the P5+1, which includes the United States.

Brian Shankman of the American Israel Public Asffairs Committee announced the opposition in an email to supporters.

“I’m writing with extremely good news, as three prominent members of Congress have just announced that they intend to vote in opposition to the deal with Iran,” Shankman wrote.

All three lawmakers said they have concerns with the deal over security issues.

“I’m going to vote against the Iran deal,” Israel told Newsday.

“I tried very hard to get to yes. But at the end of the day, despite some positive elements in the deal, the totality compelled me to oppose it.”

Lowey, who has served in the House since 1989, said national security is at risk under the terms of the Iran deal.

“Preventing Iran from developing a nuclear weapon is an essential national security imperative,” Lowey said in a statement. “Since the nuclear agreement was reached between Iran and the P5+1 countries, I have reviewed its details and consulted with officials in the Obama Administration, regional experts, foreign leaders, Congressional colleagues, and my constituents.

In my judgment, sufficient safeguards are not in place to address the risks associated with the agreement.”

In an op-ed for the Fort Lauderdale Sun Sentinel, Deutch argued the deal could lead to increased terrorism at the hands of Hamas and Hezbollah.
Too many issues I have long raised as essential to any nuclear deal with Iran are not adequately addressed in this agreement,” Deutch wrote. “I will vote against it when Congress reconvenes in September.

“There are different predictions about what will happen if Congress rejects this deal. But the consequences of approving it aren’t up for debate. Opening Iran up to foreign investment, increasing its oil exports, and unfreezing over $100 billion in assets means more money for Hamas for building terror tunnels in Gaza, more weapons for Hezbollah in Lebanon, more slaughter in Syria, and more violence worldwide.”

Israel, Lowey, and Deutch are all Jewish. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu joins them in their opposition to the agreement with Iran.

“Israel is not bound by this deal with Iran, and Israel is not bound by this deal with Iran because Iran continues to seek our destruction,” Netanyahu said last month.

“We will always defend ourselves.”

A recent poll shows Americans seem to agree with the trio of Democrats opposed to the Iran deal, with 57 percent saying they are against it.

Republicans Formally Reject Iran Deal

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Republicans Submit House Bill To Disapprove Of Iran Nuclear Deal

4 hours ago

RFE/RL

The Republican chairman of the House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee has introduced legislation to disapprove of the nuclear agreement between Iran and six world powers.

That draft legislation was submitted on August 4 after Representative Peter Roskam (Republican-Illinois) claimed the Republicans had enough votes to pass a bill disapproving of the deal in the lower chamber of the U.S. Congress.

But that support fell short of the two-thirds majority needed to overcome a likely veto by President Barack Obama.

Roskam said 218 of the House’s 434 current members had committed to voting against the treaty — all of them Republicans.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi has said she expects enough Democrats will vote in fa
vor of the nuclear deal to sustain a presidential veto.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Senate’s Republican majority leader, Mitch McConnell, said on August 4 that the Senate would “in all likelihood” also consider a resolution of disapproval on the Iran nuclear agreement.

McConnell’s remarks came after three key senators from the Democratic Party announced their support for the nuclear accord with Iran that was agreed in Vienna on July 14 by the United States, Britain, France, Russia, and China plus Germany.

Senators Tim Kaine of Virginia, who co-authored the legislation giving Congress the right to review the deal, Barbara Boxer of California, a senior Jewish member of the Senate, and Bill Nelson of Florida all said they would back the deal.

Their support for the treaty means that even if the narrow Republican majority in the Senate passes their disapproval of the accord, they also would not be likely to muster the two-thirds majority needed to override a presidential veto.

In a Senate speech on August 4 announcing his decision, Nelson said, “If the U.S. walks away from this multinational agreement, I believe we would find ourselves alone in the world with little credibility.”

Nelson also said there was “no other available alternative” to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapons capability for the next 10 to 15 years.

Boxer said a rejection of the deal would be “a victory for Iranian hard-liners and would accelerate their ability to obtain a nuclear weapon.”

Kaine said the deal disabled Iran’s nuclear program for “many years through peaceful diplomatic means with sufficient tools for the international community to verify whether Iran is meeting its commitments.”

Obama was due later on August 4 to hold a private meeting with Jewish leaders in a bid to rally their support for the nuclear deal.

Earlier in the day, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu argued in a live webcast to Jewish Americans that the deal with Iran “will trigger a nuclear arms race in the region.”

Under the accord, Iran has agreed to significantly limit its nuclear activities in exchange for sanctions relief.

With reporting by AP, Reuters, AFP, TheHill.com, and Haaretz

Lew Is No Jew (Ezekiel 17)

  

US Treasury Secretary Lew jeered at JPost Annual Conference

Jerusalem Post Israel News

NEW YORK – US Treasury Secretary Jack Lew faced a crowd vocal in its opposition to the policies of President Barack Obama at The Jerusalem Post Conference in New York on Sunday.

Facing sporadic jeers, the cabinet member laid out a broad defense of the Obama administration’s negotiations with Iran from a financial perspective, offering new details of its expectations of a final agreement. And he defended the president’s record on recommitting US support to Israel, speaking over repeated catcalls.

A full text of his remarks is available here.

“I would only ask that you listen to me as we listen to you,” Lew told the crowd, after the Post’s editor-in-chief, Steve Linde, chastised the hecklers.

Lew’s message on a budding nuclear deal with Iran was especially detailed, tailored for a crowd particularly concerned with its consequences.Sanctions will be reimposed automatically if Iran cheats, he asserted, despite acknowledging that the precise measure for snapping back sanctions has not yet been settled.

“We are still developing the exact mechanisms by which sanctions stemming from UN Security Council resolutions would be reimposed,” Lew said.“But we will not allow such a snapback to be subject to a veto by an individual P5 member, including China or Russia.”

And pushing back against Iran’s condition ruling out international inspections at its military sites, Lew said that an agreement must include “robust monitoring and inspection anywhere and everywhere the IAEA has reason to go.”

He said sanctions have cost Tehran $160 billion in oil revenues since 2012 – “revenues Iran can never recoup.”

“Even if Iran were able to quickly double its current oil exports – a big ‘if’ given how low oil prices are today and how much investment Iran’s infrastructure needs to produce at this level – it would take more than three years for Iran to earn that much money,” Lew said, noting that Iran’s GDP is 15 to 20 percent smaller than it would be without the sanctions regime.

Addressing the Islamic Republic’s backing of terrorism, Lew continued, “The unfortunate truth remains that the cost of this support is sufficiently small, that we will need to remain vigilant with or without a nuclear deal to use our other tools to deter the funding of terror and regional destabilization.”

But claims that the Iranian economy will immediately bounce back after a deal are a “myth,” he said. After Tehran takes specific, concrete steps to roll back its program in the initial stage of the final agreement, it is expected to receive roughly $100b. in sanctions relief.

And Lew rejected a recent report in The New York Times that claimed Iran’s fluctuating uranium stockpile, while the interim Joint Plan of Action has been in place, has violated that short-term deal and has complicated talks toward a final one.

“The IAEA did not reach that conclusion,” he contended. “Quite to the contrary.”

But it was Lew’s restatement of Obama’s commitment to the State of Israel and its long-term security that prompted particularly harsh reactions from the crowd. Lew responded by asserting that no one can question the president’s commitment to the Jewish state.

“Whether it was Nelson Mandela emerging from prison after 27 years to negotiate the peaceful end to apartheid, Ronald Reagan sitting at a table with a nation he called the ‘evil empire’ to negotiate the end to the Cold War, or Menachem Begin meeting at Camp David to negotiate a peace accord with Egypt, Israel’s sworn enemy,” Lew concluded, “diplomacy is not conducted with our friends, but with our adversaries.”

Lew’s address was followed by remarks from several current and former Israeli officials, including National Infrastructure, Energy and Water Minister Yuval Steinitz and Ron Prosor, the ambassador to the United Nations.

Prosor focused his remarks on the difficulty of his work at the UN, but took the opportunity to praise the Obama administration, and its fervent defense of Israel on a consistent basis in international fora.
“The United States of America is standing with Israel every single day in this organization,” Prosor said, “and there is nothing that can substitute that.

“Without the United States of America, we would be in real, real trouble,” he added, praising his American colleague, Ambassador Samantha Power.

Veteran Congresswoman Nita Lowey (D-New York) also addressed the conference, and also faced an emotional crowd.

She reminded them of the power of the US-Israel relationship, which she credited to its bipartisan foundations and to a basis of mutual respect.

“Tone down the overheated rhetoric,” she suggested to all sides of the debate.

Find Secretary Lew’s full remarks to the conference at JPost.com.

West Coast Prone To Nuclear Attacks (Dan 7)

 
SERIOUS FLAWS REVEALED IN U.S. ANTI-MISSILE NUCLEAR DEFENSE AGAINST NORTH KOREA
By DAVID WILLMAN contact the reporter
Two serious technical flaws have been identified in the ground-launched anti-missile interceptors that the United States would rely on to defend against a nuclear attack by North Korea.
Pentagon officials were informed of the problems as recently as last summer but decided to postpone corrective action. They told federal auditors that acting immediately to fix the defects would interfere with the production of new interceptors and slow a planned expansion of the nation’s homeland missile defense system, according to a new report by the Government Accountability Office.
As a result, all 33 interceptors now deployed at Vandenberg Air Force Base in Santa Barbara County and Ft. Greely, Alaska, have one of the defects. Ten of those interceptors — plus eight being prepared for delivery this year — have both.
Summing up the effect on missile-defense readiness, the GAO report said that “the fielded interceptors are susceptible to experiencing … failure modes,” resulting in “an interceptor fleet that may not work as intended.”
The flaws could disrupt sensitive on-board systems that are supposed to steer the interceptors into enemy missiles in space.
The GAO report, an annual assessment of missile defense programs prepared for congressional committees, describes the problems in terse, technical terms. Defense specialists interviewed by The Times provided more detail.
The interceptors form the heart of the Ground-based Midcourse Defense system, GMD for short. Four of the massive, three-stage rockets are stationed at Vandenberg and 29 at Ft. Greely.
They would rise out of underground silos in response to an attack. Atop each interceptor is a 5-foot-long “kill vehicle,” designed to separate from its boost rocket in space, fly independently at a speed of 4 miles per second and crash into an enemy warhead — a feat that has been likened to hitting one bullet with another.
The GMD system was deployed in 2004 as part of the nation’s response to Sept. 11, 2001, and a heightened fear of attack by terrorist groups or rogue states. It has cost taxpayers more than $40 billion so far and has been plagued by technical deficiencies.
One of the newly disclosed shortcomings centers on wiring harnesses embedded within the kill vehicles’ dense labyrinth of electronics.
A supplier used an unsuitable soldering material to assemble harnesses in at least 10 interceptors deployed in 2009 and 2010 and still part of the fleet.
The same material was used in the eight interceptors that will be placed in silos this year, according to GAO analyst Cristina Chaplain, lead author of the report.
The soldering material is vulnerable to corrosion in the interceptors’ underground silos, some of which have had damp conditions and mold. Corrosion “could have far-reaching effects” because the “defective wiring harnesses” supply power and data to the kill vehicle’s on-board guidance system, said the GAO report, which is dated May 6.
When Boeing Co., prime contractor for the GMD system, informed government officials of the problem last summer, they did not insist upon repair or replacement of the defective harnesses, according to the report.
Instead, Missile Defense Agency officials “assessed the likelihood for the component’s degradation in the operational environment as low and decided to accept the component as is,” the report said.
The decision minimized delays in producing new interceptors, “but increased the risk for future reliability failures,” the report said.
Chaplain told The Times that based on her staff’s discussions with the Missile Defense Agency, officials there have “no timeline” for repairing the wiring harnesses.
The agency encountered a similar problem with wiring harnesses years earlier, and the supplier was instructed not to use the deficient soldering material. But “the corrective actions were not passed along to other suppliers,” according to the GAO report.
L. David Montague, co-chairman of a National Academy of Sciences panel that reviewed operations of the Missile Defense Agency, said officials should promptly set a schedule for fixing the harnesses.
“The older they are with that kind of a flawed soldering, the more likely they are to fail,” Montague, a former president of missile systems for Lockheed Corp., said in an interview.
The second newly disclosed defect involves a component called a divert thruster, a small motor intended to help maneuver the kill vehicles in flight. Each kill vehicle has four of them.
The GAO report refers to “performance issues” with the thrusters. It offers few details, and GAO auditors declined to elaborate, citing a fear of revealing classified information. They did say that the problem is different from an earlier concern that the thruster’s heavy vibrations could throw off the kill vehicle’s guidance system.
The report and interviews with defense specialists make clear that problems with the divert thruster have bedeviled the interceptor fleet for years. To address deficiencies in the original version, Pentagon contractors created a redesigned “alternate divert thruster.”
The government planned to install the new version in many of the currently deployed interceptors over the next few years and to retrofit newly manufactured interceptors, according to the GAO report and interviews with its authors.
That plan was scrapped after the alternate thruster, in November 2013, failed a crucial ground test to determine whether it could withstand the stresses of flight, the report said. To stay on track for expanding the fleet, senior Pentagon officials decided to keep building interceptors with the original, deficient thruster.
The GAO report faulted the Missile Defense Agency, an arm of the Pentagon, for “omitting steps in the design process” of the alternate thruster in the rush to deploy more interceptors. The skipped steps would have involved a lengthier, more rigorous vetting of the new design, defense specialists said. The report said the omission contributed to the 2013 test failure.
All 33 interceptors now deployed have the original, defective thruster. The eight interceptors to be added to the fleet this year will contain the same component, GAO officials told The Times.
The missile agency currently “does not plan to fix” those thrusters, despite their “known performance issues,” said the GAO report.
Contractors are continuing to work on the alternate thruster, hoping to correct whatever caused the ground-test failure. The first test flight using the alternate thruster is scheduled for late this year.
The GAO had recommended that the Pentagon postpone integrating the eight new interceptors into the fleet until after that test. Defense Department officials rebuffed the recommendation, the report said.
In a response included in the report, Assistant Secretary of Defense Katharina G. McFarland wrote that delaying deployment of the new interceptors “would unacceptably increase the risk” that the Pentagon would fall short of its goal of expanding the GMD system from 33 interceptors to 44 by the end of 2017.
Asked for comment on the report, a spokesman for the Missile Defense Agency, Richard Lehner, said in a statement that officials “have in place a comprehensive, disciplined program to improve and enhance” the GMD system “regarding the issues noted by the GAO.”
“We will continue to work closely with our industry partners to ensure quality standards are not only met, but exceeded,” the statement said.
Boeing declined to comment.
The GMD system is designed to repel a “limited” missile attack by a non-superpower adversary, such as North Korea. The nation’s defense against a massive nuclear assault by Russia or China still relies on “mutually assured destruction,” the Cold War notion that neither country would strike first for fear of a devastating counterattack.
GMD’s roots go back to the Clinton administration, when concern began to mount over the international spread of missile technology and nuclear development programs. In 2002, President Bush ordered “an initial set of missile defense capabilities” to be put in place within two years to protect the U.S.
To accelerate deployment, then-Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld exempted the missile agency from the Pentagon’s standard procurement rules and testing standards.
Engineers trace the system’s difficulties to the breakneck pace at which components were produced and fielded. In precisely scripted flight tests above the Pacific, interceptors have failed to hit mock-enemy warheads about half the time.
As a result, the missile agency projects that four or five interceptors would have to be fired at any single enemy warhead, according to current and former government officials. Under this scenario, a volley of 10 enemy missiles could exhaust the entire U.S. inventory of interceptors.
The Obama administration, after resisting calls for a larger system, pledged two years ago to increase the number of interceptors to 44. Both Republicans and Democrats in Congress have pushed for further expansion. The House this month passed a bill authorizing $30 million to plan and design a site for interceptors on the East Coast. The White House called the move “premature.”
david.willman@latimes.com

Another Bush Lie: The Surge (Rev 13:18)

  

Jihad, the Failed ‘Surge,’ and the Abandonment of Iraq’s Non-Muslim Minorities

Don’t just blame Obama’s Iraq withdrawal. Even post-“Surge,” support for the slaughter of “infidels” was as strong as ever.

by Andrew G. Bostom
May 29, 2015 – 8:18 am

General Daniel P. Bolger’s Why We Lost — A General’s Inside Account of the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars is a sobering read. Bolger went from a one- to a three-star general in Iraq and then Afghanistan, and once commanded 20,000 troops in Baghdad. He served eight years in these war zones, between 2005 to 2013. Bolger characterized (on p. 256) the much ballyhooed 2007 Iraq “surge,” at its tactical conclusion, thusly:

The casualty and hostile attack rates went down in the fall of 2007, never again to rise to their previous heights, at least during the remaining years of the American campaign. But the fighting never stopped either. It lingered, a third of the previous rate, but that was no comfort to those who fell, killed or wounded, or to their families. Al-Qaeda in Iraq, unrepentant Sunni rejectionists, surly Sadrists [Shiite followers of Muqtada al-Sadr], and Iranian handlers all kept their pieces on the board. As long as the occupiers remained, there would be attacks. As long as Iraq was Iraq, violence remained part of the picture.

Gen. Bolger elaborated on these sentiments in a November 2014 op-ed, while exploding the standard mythical trope about how the alleged “decisively victorious” troop surge — with irony, repeatedly dubbed “fragile and reversible” by its putative architect, General Petraeus — was “squandered” by the Obama administration’s policies:

Here’s a legend that’s going around these days. In 2003, the United States invaded Iraq and toppled a dictator. We botched the follow-through, and a vicious insurgency erupted. Four years later, we surged in fresh troops, adopted improved counterinsurgency tactics and won the war. And then dithering American politicians squandered the gains. It’s a compelling story. But it’s just that — a story.

The surge in Iraq did not “win” anything. It bought time. It allowed us to kill some more bad guys and feel better about ourselves. But in the end, shackled to a corrupt, sectarian government in Baghdad and hobbled by our fellow Americans’ unwillingness to commit to a fight lasting decades, the surge just forestalled today’s stalemate. Like a handful of aspirin gobbled by a fevered patient, the surge cooled the symptoms. But the underlying disease didn’t go away. The remnants of al-Qaida in Iraq and the Sunni insurgents we battled for more than eight years simply re-emerged this year as the Islamic State, also known as ISIS.

With sad predictability, one never sees General Bolger on Fox News, nor is it likely he will be advising any of the burgeoning group of Republican contestants for the 2016 presidential nomination. But there are a litany of even more important topics for discussion regarding the ongoing sectarian Iraq morass that are never broached by either Fox News or the Republican presidential hopefuls.
When President George W. Bush announced the “surge” in 2007, he maintained the overall objectives for this great expenditure of precious U.S. blood and treasure were to establish a “unified, democratic federal Iraq that can govern itself, defend itself, and sustain itself, and is an ally in the War on Terror.”

Any rational post-mortem indicates none of those goals were achieved, from either an Iraqi or U.S. perspective, even in the near term, let alone chronically. Before the surge wound down in June 2008 — but at the height of its alleged “success” — a March 2008 poll from Iraq found that 42% of Iraqis labeled attacks on U.S. forces acceptable, and only 4% believed that U.S. forces were responsible for the transient decline in violence.

The poll also indicated that 63% (total) maintained that the presence of U.S. troops in Iraq was actually worsening (26%), or had not improved (37%) the security situation.

In July 2008, both Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri Al-Maliki and Iraqi National Security Advisor Muwaffaq Al-Rubaie sought a timetable for the withdrawal of foreign troops. As Gen. Bolger’s lucid account reminds us, the November 17, 2008 Bush administration “Agreement Between the United States and the Republic of Iraq on the Withdrawal of U.S. Forces from Iraq and the Organization of Their Activities During Their Temporary Presence in Iraq” made requisite the full U.S. withdrawal by December 31, 2011, and an interim removal of American units from city and village localities by June 20, 2009.

Furthermore, this same Bush administration-negotiated SOFA (status of forces agreement) with our “Iraqi allies,” per Article 27, paragraph 4 (“Iraqi land, sea and air shall not be used as a launching or transit point for attacks against other countries.”) prohibited the U.S. from attacking, for example, Iranian nuclear production facilities or improvised explosive device factories from Iraqi bases and airspace.

A cursory, incomplete tally of murderous sectarian Sunni-Shiite car bombings in Iraq for the four years after the surge — June 2008 through June 2012 – reveals at least 65 attacks leaving 2000 dead and two- to threefold that number injured, many seriously. More importantly, then Iraqi President Talabani attended an Orwellian counter-terrorism conference in Tehran (June 25–26, 2011), just six months before the withdrawal of U.S. forces.

Our Iraqi “ally” failed to object to the conference agitprop of their Iranian hosts “defining” the United States and Israel as the primary sources of global terrorism. Further:

In his meeting with Iraqi president Jalal Talabani, [Iran’s Supreme Theocrat Leader] Khamenei said that U.S. power in the Middle East had declined, and that this fact should be taken advantage of against the U.S. Talabani replied that the Iraqis were united in their opposition to the ongoing U.S. pres­ence in their country, and likewise asked for Iranian assistance.

On August 14, 2007, when the surging U.S. had 166,000 troops on the ground in Iraq — not the mere one-fifth (or one-tenth) residual numbers pined for by those who insist the failure to secure a 2011 status of forces agreement with the al-Maliki regime sealed the undoing of Iraq’s “stability” — 796 Yazidis were slaughtered and another 1562 wounded in one day during four gruesomely synchronized jihadist bombings. (See here and here, and here for U.S. Army confirmation of the death toll.) Veteran Middle East journalist Tom Gross provided this characterization of the events:

[T]wo tons of explosives detonated in four coordinated explosions in the northern Iraqi villages of Qahtaniya and Jazeera on August 14, 2007, the target was Iraq’s Yazidi ethnic and religious minority. 796 people died and over 1,500 were wounded as a fireball led to the collapse of mud and stone buildings on families trapped inside; many were then burned alive.

The endless critiques of Obama administration policy failures in Iraq last summer (see Krauthammer on Fox News; Hegseth in National Review Online) revealed a glaring lacuna in honest, self-critical discourse by omitting all discussion of the “mid-surge” Yazidi catastrophe. Such warped analyses were pathognomonic of a broader, much more disturbing ethical and intellectual travesty: ongoing attempts by mainstream conservatives to rationalize their uninformed, witless adherence to the utopian “(Bernard) Lewis doctrine”-inspired “Islamic democracy” fiasco in Iraq.

The successful post-World War II paradigm of neutralizing Japan’s bellicose, religio-political creed of Shintoism has been turned on its head with regard to Islam and the theocratic Islamic legal code Sharia, which is imbued with jihad and completely antithetical to modern human rights constructs.

Despite the proven, concrete success of the post-World War II reforms in Japan, past intellectual honesty on Shinto was replaced by craven, politically correct ignorance on Islam in Iraq and Afghanistan. Instead, as championed by a callow American pseudo-scholastic apologist for Islam’s Sharia, who evangelized for “Islamic Democracy,” Sharia-compliant Iraqi and Afghan constitutions were crafted (and of course extolled by this same “scholar,” here and here).

Born of willful ignorance about living Islamic doctrine and history, this deficient mindset begot a corollary dangerous absurdity: embrace of the Petraeus “COIN” theory, a see-no-jihad, see-no-Islam military strategy designed, perversely, to somehow “defeat” the ancient-cum-modern forces of global Islamic jihadism.

Once A Bush Always A Bush, Once A Beast Always A Beast (Rev 13:10)

  

Jeb Bush Re-Writes the History of the Iraq War

1 day ago | Updated 1 day ago
Joseph A. Palermo Professor, historian, author

Nothing illustrates better the moral and intellectual bankruptcy of the Republican war hawks who call themselves presidential candidates than their attempts to whitewash the history of how this nation went to war in Iraq.

John Ellis “Jeb” Bush stood by his brother’s side while he demolished a nation of 28 million people in the heart of the Arab world he knew nothing about. Out on the stump, Jeb and other GOP candidates try to shift responsibility for the worst U.S. foreign policy disaster since the Vietnam War from George W. to President Barack Obama.

Jeb and Co. claim that everything was fine in Iraq until Obama failed to keep George W.’s ill-conceived war of aggression running on full throttle. They pretend the 2007 “surge” in Iraq of about 10,000 American soldiers had all but “won” the war and the rise of ISIL/ISIS is Obama’s fault. They skip over the pesky fact that it was George W. who negotiated the U.S. troop withdrawal with the Nouri al Maliki regime. (Bush announced the deal at a memorable press conference with Maliki when an Iraqi journalist hurled his shoes at the Leader of the Free World.)

Jeb and Co. also love pointing out that Hillary Rodham Clinton and other big name Democrats voted in favor of the congressional resolution granting W. carte blanche to go to war. But they leave out the fact that just about everybody on the left in America had denounced the war before it began, and that 133 Democrats in the House and 23 Democrats in the Senate voted against Bush’s war.

They also airbrush out of the historical record that one of their conservative heroes, Pope John Paul II (the Polish Pope who stood up to the Communists) emphatically opposed Bush’s war, as did the Arab League, the Islamic Conference, the U.S.’s Sunni allies in the region (Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia), the Organization of African Unity, Germany, France, Russia, China, the United Nations, and 15 million people who marched worldwide on February 15, 2003.

They omit these facts because they don’t support the idea that “everybody got it wrong.”
Although it has been dropped down a memory hole, the Downing Street Memo of July 23, 2002 pretty much confirms that the Bush administration deliberately lied the nation into war. The top secret minutes of a summer meeting of the highest-ranking intelligence officials in British Prime Minister Tony Blair’s government shows that George W. had already decided to go to war using whatever garbage about Iraqiweapons of mass destruction” his administration could manufacture. One paragraph stands out:

“C reported on his recent talks in Washington. There was a perceptible shift in attitude. Military action was now seen as inevitable. Bush wanted to remove Saddam, through military action, justified by the conjunction of terrorism and WMD. But the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy. The NSC had no patience with the UN route, and no enthusiasm for publishing material on the Iraqi regime’s record. There was little discussion in Washington of the aftermath after military action.” [Italics added]

The sentence — “there was little discussion in Washington of the aftermath after military action” — has turned out to be one of the biggest understatements in the history of American military interventions.

Then there was the Valerie Plame/Joseph Wilson scandal whereby Karl Rove and Dick Cheney decided to out Ambassador Wilson’s wife as a secret CIA operative working on international nuclear issues.

This cynical ploy was retribution for Wilson’s op-ed in the New York Times, “What I Didn’t Find in Africa,” that exposed the Bush administration’s lies about the Iraqi government seeking “yellow cake” uranium from Niger.

The exotic sounding “yellow cake” line was the scariest part of President Bush’s doom-laden State of the Union Address of January 2003, which he later blamed on “bad intelligence.”

Then there was the aluminum tubes fiasco whereby the Bush administration, with an assist from the ever-eager Judith Miller of the New York Times, hyped a shipment of tubes going to Iraq as only suitable for nuclear applications.

It took United Nations weapons experts about 30 seconds to determine that the tubes were not machine tooled for any nuclear program but were for some kind of mortar or simpler use (the tubes were nowhere near the calibrations needed in nuclear research).

Yet the Bush people pumped up the volume on the aluminum tube story. President Bush conjured up terrifying images of “mushroom clouds” and Saddam’s “nuclear mujahideen.”

And that might be the worst aspect of the whole sordid story: A U.S. president cynically exploited the American people’s genuine fear and trepidation of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks in New York City and Washington to launch an illegal and ill-conceived war of aggression.

In a speech in Cincinnati Ohio on October 7, 2002, while aggressively campaigning for Republican Congressional candidates as the Commander-in-Chief, Bush elaborated on the Iraqi “nuclear threat”:

“The evidence indicates that Iraq is reconstituting its nuclear weapons program. Saddam Hussein has held numerous meetings with Iraqi nuclear scientists, a group he calls his ‘nuclear mujahedeen’ — his nuclear holy warriors. Satellite photographs reveal that Iraq is rebuilding facilities at sites that have been part of its nuclear program in the past. Iraq has attempted to purchase high-strength aluminum tubes and other equipment needed for gas centrifuges, which are used to enrich uranium for nuclear weapons.”

When the fantastic “aluminum tube” story was juxtaposed with the false report of “yellow cake” from Niger, it enabled Condi Rice, Bush and other like-minded souls to scare the hell out of the American people (and the Congress) with the vivid image of “a smoking gun that could come in the form of a mushroom cloud.”

In reality, over 20 years earlier, the Israelis had eliminated any potential Iraqi nuclear threat when they blew to bits the French built Osirak nuclear reactor, the only one Iraq ever had. And during the 1991 Gulf War, the United States finished the job when it pulverized Iraq’s infrastructure.

Throughout the 1990s, the United States and Great Britain imposed no-fly zones on the northern and southern parts of Iraq where bombing Iraq became “routine,” along with crippling economic sanctions that killed an estimated half million Iraqi children. Secretary of State Madeliene Albright famously said that the loss of innocent life due to the harsh sanctions imposed on Iraq was “worth it.”

President Bush even went so far as to tell the world that the Iraqis might position “floating platforms” off the coast of the United States where they could station Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) capable of spraying chemical or biological agents on U.S. cities on the East Coast. This preposterous claim was in response to the questions that arose after Secretary of State Colin Powell’s February 5, 2003 U.N. presentation (which he has since renounced) where he made a big deal out of UAVs in Iraq that might emit chemical or biological agents.

The only problem was that the range for these fearsome UAVs was not even close to being a “threat” to the United States. Foreign journalists asked Bush: How can these Iraqi UAVs attack the United States when their range was measured in hundreds of kilometers? You can see Bush’s “floating platform” answer in the superb documentary Leading to War (2008).

Somehow, like something out of a Rambo movie, those cunning Iraqis were going to figure out a way to evade the U.S. Navy and Coast Guard and then outmaneuver the Air Force and U.S. air defenses to deploy UAVs to spray Americans with chemical and biological agents as they walked to Starbucks in Manhattan.

Remember, the Bush people, including White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer (who became a commentator for corporate media), Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz (now a Jeb Bush adviser), and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, were not saying they believed there “was a chance” there “might be” WMDs in Iraq. They were spoon-feeding the public exact figures: numbers of barrels of chemical agent, numbers of potential chemical and biological warheads, numbers of caches of prohibited weapons.

Dick Cheney told the Veterans of Foreign Wars in August 2002, “There is no doubt” that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction. This assertion led the U.N.’s top weapons inspector, Hans Blix, to ask publicly how they could have 100 percent certainty that the WMDs exist, yet zero percent knowledge of where the weapons were located?

In the fall of 2002, Judith Miller’s stenographic reportage for the New York Times gave plausibility to the bogus claim that the location of Iraq’s WMD stockpile could be discovered using anonymous sources connected to the Bush administration (including the Iranian spy Ahmed Chalabi and the self-promoting flim-flam artist Ibn al Sheikh al-Libi who had the suitable nickname: “curve ball”). A self-perpetuating media loop was created whereby Dick Cheney on the Sunday talk shows cited the New York Times after Miller anonymously published bullshit from Cheney’s own bogus sources.

The Big Lie that effortlessly leaves the lips of all the 2016 Republican presidential candidates is that the war was the result of an “intelligence failure.” But if George W. felt burned by bad intelligence that cost the country so dearly, why would he give CIA Director George “slam dunk” Tenet the Medal of Freedom?

The fact that Jeb Bush or Marco Rubio can say with a straight face that W. and Cheney and Rummy and Condi were innocent dupes of an “intelligence failure,” and that the corporate media will blandly repeat these lies, points to a deeper failure in our political discourse.

Unfortunately, the Obama administration and the Democratic Congress that came to power in 2009 failed to give the country any in-depth investigation into all aspects of the Iraq War. In the U.K., although it might not have amounted to much, at least Tony Blair and Foreign Minister Jack Snow were forced to squirm a little bit in front of a committee investigating their role in lying the British people into war; they had to testify before some independent body at least. On this side of the pond nothing happened but P.R. and spin and amnesia that is setting us up for the next disaster.

In 2002, the arch-terrorist leader of Al Qaeda in Iraq, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, was an unknown Jordanian jihadist wannabe who came on the scene too late to see any real action in Afghanistan. Few militants in Iraq or anywhere else ever heard of Zarqawi until Secretary of State Colin Powell built him up into a big shot during his February 5, 2003 indictment of the Iraqi government at the U.N.
As the Italian terrorism expert, Loretta Napoleoni, reported in her 2005 book, Insurgent Iraq: Al Zarqawi and the New Generation, by mentioning Zarqawi by name as a “threat” in his most important address to the world Secretary Powell bestowed upon him a street credibility among jihadists he never had before. President Bush’s famous “Bring ’em on!” line was in response to those who claimed the U.S. military had become bogged down in Iraq and the war had turned the country into a magnet for jihadists to fight the Americans.

The 2016 Republican presidential candidates never tire of telling us how terrible Saddam Hussein was. Yes, Saddam was a despot but at least his regime was secular and had arisen from the organic ethnic and sectarian politics of Iraq. There was no sectarian war going on in Iraq until the U.S. invasion and occupation created the social, economic, and political conditions for it.

Lest we forget, in the 1980s, the U.S. allied itself with the Sunni Baathists in Iraq in their war against Iran. And some of America’s closest allies in the region, such as the theocracy in Saudi Arabia, Egypt under Mubarak, and Bahrain (where the U.S. Navy has the Fifth Fleet), all have abysmal human rights records.

There was no Al Qaeda in Iraq until the U.S. invaded and sparked an insurgency. The rise of ISIL/ISIS was a direct consequence of the U.S. toppling the government and disfranchising the traditional Sunni technocratic class. The Sunnis in Anbar Province and elsewhere in Iraq will never accept Shia rule in Baghdad. And the Shia majority in Iraq and the Iranians are equally determined never to lose power.

This broiling civil and sectarian conflict has the potential to go on for decades and unleash a wider war. At this sad juncture, it looks like Iraq’s disfranchised Sunnis (in a tactical alliance with ISIL/ISIS) will continue to carve out territory until they can shoot their way back into power. (If that day ever comes.) The most likely scenario in Iraq going forward is a multi-sided civil and sectarian war similar to those in Syria, Libya, and Yemen, which is unlikely to be extinguished before it unleashes an even bigger conflagration.

In 2016, given the ongoing U.S.-created catastrophe in Iraq, it’s unbelievable that anyone named “Bush” could be seen as a viable presidential contender. While people in Iraq suffer as a result of misguided and criminal U.S. policies, the American people, facing a $5 billion election in 2016, are hearing presidential candidates put forth the most pathetic apologetics, spin, and lies as they try to whitewash the whole thing.

For 70 years, historians have tried to figure out how World War II-era leaders, diplomats, business and foreign policy elites could allow that kind of carnage to be unleashed upon the world. Today we might be closer to answering that question.