United for Peace of Pierce County, WA - We nonviolently oppose the reliance on unilateral military actions rather than cooperative diplomacy.

NEWS: U.S. ground troops reported fighting in Iraq

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Al Jazeera TV reported late this week that U.S. soldiers fought on the ground alongside Iraqi army troops to repel attacks by ISIS forces on al-Baghdadi in Anbar Province, Bloomberg News reported Saturday.[1]  --  A Pentagon spokesman, following the commander-in-chief, said American troops were not fighting on the ground in Iraq.  --  The Pentagon was more willing to share the news that "multiple" leaders of ISIS have been killed by air strikes, and the Wall Street Journal published the names of three leaders killed.[2]  --  Reports of American ground troops fighting in Iraq are getting little exposure in the U.S. (though Fox News Radio did report it, giving "Kurdish media outlet Shafaq News" as the source[3]), probably because of what Noam Chomsky has called the Doctrine of Good Intentions.  --  This principle of U.S. news reporting requires that only good intentions be attributed to the U.S. government and its agents.  --  As a result of its application, the U.S. public is often not informed of what all the rest of the world knows.  --  Mainstream media = muzzled media.  --  Americans are generally obliged to read foreign news sources in order to be informed about what their government is doing.  --  Examples are legion.  --  In this case, misleading the public is not compatible with good intentions, and news editors therefore often prefer to treat such news as unconfirmed information that cannot be verified, and that can therefore be ignored....

Last Updated on Sunday, 21 December 2014 07:43 Read more...
 

BOOK REVIEW: 'Worse than a defeat' -- the British fiasco in Afghanistan

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In a stinging indictment of the British defense establishment that takes the guise of a London Review of Books book review of four recent books about the war in Afghanistan, James Meek writes that at some point in the 20th century "[t]he goal of the British military establishment became to ingratiate itself with its U.S. counterpart not for the sake of British interests but for the sake of British military prestige."[1]  --  In addition, British generals engaged in "the delusional exaggeration of British military capabilities."  --  Inevitably, Meek writes, "at some point the desire to impress the Pentagon by using the Pentagon’s own resources as cover for Britain’s relatively low-budget military would conflict with America’s own interests, and end up damaging Britain’s military reputation more in Washington’s eyes than if the MoD hadn’t puffed itself up in the first place."  --  Meek explains that the British Ministry of Defense put troops in Afghanistan as a way to get out of Iraq without alienating their American ally, then "put the preservation of its long-term budget ahead of the preservation of its soldiers in the field."  --  Meek presents the American military as vastly more supple and thoughtful than the British military:  "The colonels and brigadiers aren’t envious of the American military’s budget or its technology so much as the esteem it gives to intellectual analysis, education, and the public discussion of new ideas."  --  As for the nature of the Afghan conflict, a fourth book under review disputes the notion that Afghanistan is a nation faced with an "insurgency."  --  The fighting there has more the character of "a continuing civil war."  --  The politics in Helmland Province are far too "labyrinthine" for foreigners who do not speak the language to figure out.  --  Toward the end of his long review, Meek writes:  "Afghanistan needs help, encouragement, advice, money.  --  It’s just that next time we think about military intervention in a foreign country that hasn’t attacked us, it might be worth running a thought experiment to work out at exactly which moment, in the many internecine conflicts that have afflicted the British Isles, our forebears would have most benefited from the arrival of 3500 troops and eight helicopters, and for which ‘side’ those troops would have fought." ...

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COMMENTARY: Torturers are criminals

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The best defense, we all know, is a good offense, and because no one has been held criminally accountable for clear violations of U.S. laws and treaties that were broken systematically for years by U.S. officials, the nation has been treated to a truly offensive defense of the indefensible during the past week.  --  So Eric Margolis was obliged to reiterate the obvious on Saturday:  --  "Torturers are never patriots.  --  They are criminals."[1] ...

Last Updated on Monday, 15 December 2014 07:50 Read more...
 

NEWS: Feinstein tweets rebuttal to Brennan in real time

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When CIA Director John Brennan offered a public defense of his agency on Thursday, Sen. Dianne Feinstein used Twitter to rebut him in real time, the London Guardian reported.[1]  --  The Guardian also posted all of Feinstein's tweets.  --  Her tweets included not only a link to the 525-page text, but also a #ReadTheReport hashtag.  --  "The study needs to be read," she insists.  --  BACKGROUND:  So we read it, or the preface, anyway.  --  Here's what Feinstein says.  --   Feinstein calls the document "perhaps [the most significant and comprehensive oversight report] in [the history] of the U.S. Senate."  --  She writes:  "The major lesson . . . is that regardless of the pressures and the need to act, the Intelligence Community's actions must always reflect who we are as a nation, and adhere to our laws and standards.  --  It is precisely at these times of national crisis that our government must be guided by the lessons of our history and subject decisions to internal and external review.  --  Instead, CIA personnel, aided by two outside contractors, decided to initiate a program of indefinite secret detention and the use of brutal interrogation techniques in violation of U.S. law, treaty obligations, and our values."  --  The report asserts that there were "119 known individuals who were held in CIA custody."  --  Her excuse for not making the entire report public is that seeking declassification of it "would have significantly delayed the release of the Executive Summary."  --  She expresses the "sincere and deep hope" that "U.S. policy will never again allow for secret indefinite detention and the use of coercive interrogations."  --  Feinstein also states that "it is my personal conclusion that, under any common meaning of the term, CIA detainees were tortured.  --  I also believe that the conditions and confinement and the use of authorized and unauthorized interrogation and conditioning techniques were cruel, inhuman, and degrading.  --  I believe the evidence of this is overwhelming and incontrovertible."  --  In researching the report, she says, "From early 2009 to late 2012, a small group of Committee staff reviewed the more than six million pages of CIA materials, to include operational cables, intelligence reports, internal memoranda and emails, briefing materials, interview transcripts, contracts, and other records."  --  She calls the breadth of this research "unprecedented."  --  But the committee "did not interview CIA officials," primarily because there was an ongoing judicial inquiry into the 2005 destruction of videotapes of the interrogations of Abu Zubaydah and 'Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri (the Senate Intelligence Committee's decision to undertake its study "had its roots" in the destruction of these tapes, she said).  --  She calls the CIA torture program "one of the lowest points in our nation's history." ...

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NEWS & COMMENT: Senate torture report release a doubly nauseating spectacle

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On Tuesday the Senate Intelligence Committee finally released an unclassified summary of its report on CIA torture program carried out under President George W. Bush.  --  Politico summarized its salient points.[1]  --  Of interest is the report's finding that George W. Bush, the president who liked to call himself "the decider," "was apparently told for the first time about the details of the interrogation techniques in 2006. . . . Key Cabinet officials such as Powell and Rumsfeld were kept out of the loop about the program until September 2003."  --  COMMENT:  The spectacle of American officials evading responsibility for this atrocious episode while telling the public what they are and are not willing to discuss is almost as nauseating as the report itself.  --  Particularly obnoxious is the deluded self-congratulation of those who, like Vice President Joe Biden, think the release of the report is somehow a demonstration of American virtue.  --  President Barack Obama, meanwhile, who said in May 2014 that he believes in American exceptionalism "with every fiber of my being," indicated in a statement that he regards these events as "in the past" and has no desire "to refight old arguments."  --  But how is not holding officials accountable in this egregious case compatible with the president's constitutional obligation to "take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed" (Art. II, Sect. 3)? ...

Last Updated on Wednesday, 10 December 2014 18:47 Read more...
 

NEWS: New US military formation operational in Iraq and Syria

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This week saw not only the nomination of new U.S. secretary of defense, but also the establishment of a new military command.  --  In fact, the two events trod on each other's toes, as U.S. Army Lt. Gen. James L. Terry, the leader of the new command, had to postpone a scheduled briefing so that President Obama could have the spotlight as he announced his nomination of former deputy defense secretary Ashton B. Carter as the next defense secretary, the Washington Post reported.[1]  --  The new command, Combined Joint Task Force -- Operation Inherent Resolve, "will replace U.S. Central Command as the organization releasing information about the mission" in both Iraq and Syria, Dan Lamothe said.  --  The Post expressed uncertainty about where Gen. Terry is based, but in early November the New York Times already reported that "To oversee the American military effort, a new task force is being established under Lt. Gen. James L. Terry, who oversees Army forces in the Middle East and who will operate from a base in Kuwait.  --  Maj. Gen. Paul E. Funk II will run a subordinate headquarters in Baghdad that will supervise the hundreds of American advisers and trainers working with Iraqi forces."[2]  --  Michael Gordon and Eric Schmitt said that the new structure had to do with the Iraqi army's plans for "a major spring offensive against Islamic State fighters," with a goal of reestablishing Baghdad's control of Iraqi territory held by the Islamic State, or at least cities and major roads, by the end of 2015.  --  BACKGROUND: A "joint task force" is an ad hoc military structure; "combined" signifies that it is multinational.  --  Since WWII in the Pacific, when joint task forces were first implemented, the U.S. has created more than a hundred joint task forces, but only five of them have been "combined" forces.  --  It seems likely that American combat troops will reappear in force in Iraq in the context of this structure.  --  Already, on Dec. 1, the Pentagon announced that about 250 paratroopers from the 82nd Airborne Division would be deploying to Iraq for nine months.[3]  --  Paratroopers are quintessential combat forces, yet President Obama has repeatedly said that American forces going back to Iraq "will not have a combat mission."  --  However, U.S. special forces have been fighting in Iraq as the president has made his oft-repeated reassurances, according to many reports.[4] ...

Last Updated on Wednesday, 10 December 2014 18:45 Read more...
 

ANALYSIS: Obama has one foreign policy above the table and another below

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A commentary published Monday on the ouster of Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel diagnosed a fundamental problem of the Obama presidency:  --  Barack Obama's refusal to act upon his putative awareness that it is a "profoundly corrupted system" that he heads up.[1]  --  "In a time of corruption, the countervailing forces of wisdom and courage will never be found among the credentialed, but rather among the outcasts of the establishment, those who were forced to the margins because they objected to the venality, because they stood up against misguided 'group think,'" said Parry, himself a mainstream journalist until he broke with the establishment in the 1990s as a result of perspectives gained from a decade of award-winning reporting on Central America and Iran-Contra.  --  (Parry now works independently.)  --  "Obama has been unwilling -- or possibly unable -- to come to grips with this reality," Parry said.  --  "Despite his personal intelligence and rhetorical skills, Obama never has been willing to challenge people cloaked in credentials – those who went to the best schools, worked at big-name firms, won prestigious awards or held fellowships at famous think tanks."  --  "I’m told that he understands the stupidity of the modern U.S. establishment and does sometimes consult with 'realists' who offer practical advice," Parry added.  --  "But he does so virtually in secret, with what politicians like to call 'deniability.'"  --  As a result, "Obama operates one foreign policy above the table -- pounding his fist along with the neocons against Syria, Iran, and Russia -- and another foreign policy below the table, dealing with adversaries in ways necessary to confront global challenges, such as collaborating with Iran to counter the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria and with Russia to address challenges with Iran, Syria, Libya, and elsewhere."  --  As for the purported subject of his piece, entitled "Possible Motives for Ousting Hagel," Parry admits he hasn't a clue....

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COMMENTARY: 'Iraq no longer exists'

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The United States is determined to save Iraq.  --  Unfortunately, as an article by Andrew Bacevich, currently at Columbia University, pointed out on Monday, "Iraq no longer exists."[1]  --  But that won't stop the U.S. national security state from spending untold billions on an effort to save it.  --  Bacevich added five more untrue pillars of U.S. foreign policy:  (1) "The presence of U.S. forces in the Islamic world contributes to regional stability and enhances American influence."  --  (2) "The Persian Gulf constitutes a vital U.S. national security interest."  --  (3) "Egypt and Saudi Arabia are valued and valuable American allies."  --  (4) "The interests of the United States and Israel align."  --  (5)  "Terrorism poses an existential threat that the United States must defeat."  --  None of these are true, either....

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NEWS: Obama issues secret order, ensuring US troops will fight on in Afghanistan

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The New York Times revealed Friday that President Obama has acceded to "excessive Pentagon pressure" and issued a secret order going against his earlier claims to be ending any combat role for U.S. troops in Afghanistan and "ensur[ing] American troops will have a direct role in fighting in the war-ravaged country for at least another year."[1]  --  The pressure from the Pentagon is behind the order, some military officers call it "half-baked and made with an eye to domestic politics," Mark Mazzetti and Eric Schmitt.  --  COMMENT:  Strange are the ways of the Times.  --  The text of its article makes no comment on the order's secrecy, only implying it, yet the URL for the article contains the expression "in secret," and every other newspaper and agency picking up the story are emphasizing the order's secrecy.  --  Mazzetti and Schmidt are also quite vague about the date of the order, saying only that the decision to issue it was made only "in recent weeks" and after "a lengthy and heated debate that laid bare the tension inside the Obama administration between two often-competing imperatives:  the promise Mr. Obama made to end the war in Afghanistan, versus the demands of the Pentagon that American troops be able to successfully fulfill their remaining missions in the country."  --  Mazzetti and Schmidt did not, apparently, lay eyes on the text of the order; the story's sources are "officials with knowledge of the decision." ...

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COMMENTARY: What, in the name of God?

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The outrages perpetrated by the Islamic State are making vivid and direct forms of speech that have long been dead metaphors in the modern era.  --  The exclamation "What, in the name of God?" is one of them, as Leonard Pitts Jr. pointed out in a column this week.  --  "Ordinarily, it is only rhetorical, something you might say if you came home to find police cars parked in front of your house.  --  But it takes on a painful literalness following the latest video from the Islamic State, or ISIS, the barbarian army of extremists that has swept through Syria and Iraq."[1]  --  Pitts commented on the beheading of Peter Kassig, an Iraq war veteran who had devoted himself to humanitarian work.  --  Kassig even converted to Islam, taking the name Abdul-Rahman, but that made no difference to Islamic State illuminati.  --  But what really impressed Pitts was the dignity and elevation of the actions and statements of Peter Kassig's parents, Paul and Ed Kassig.  --  "His mother said with an assurance that lifted you as tides lift boats, --  'Our hearts are battered, but they will mend.  --  The world is broken, but it will be healed in the end and good will prevail as the one God of many names will prevail.'  --  His father asked for prayer.  --  He said the family would 'mourn, cry, and yes, forgive.'" ...

Last Updated on Thursday, 20 November 2014 21:07 Read more...
 

NEWS: Dempsey predicts 3- to 4-year war against ISIS

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Speaking at a conference in the nation's capital on Wednesday, U.S. Army Gen. Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, predicted that the war against the Islamic State would be a "protracted three- to four-year campaign," Military.com reported.[1]  --  "When discussing Iraq, Dempsey said, 'This is my third shot at Iraq, and that's probably a poor choice of words,'" Brendan McGarry said.  --  The 62-year-old general has a master's degree in literature from Duke University (with a thesis on the Celtic Twilight), and he should know better than to make such vacuous statements.  --  His crystal-gazing can be compared with that of a former secretary of defense, Leon Panetta, who opined in early October that the U.S. is now involved in "a kind of thirty-year war." ...

Last Updated on Thursday, 20 November 2014 07:25 Read more...
 

NEWS: Kurds say ISIS defeat imminent in Kobani (LA Times)

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Kurdish forces claim they are on the verge of defeating Islamic State militants in the battle for Kobani, the Los Angeles Times reported Monday.[1]  --  Intensive U.S. bombing in recent days enabled "their fighters to seize several strategic hills from Islamic State militants," Umar Farooq said....

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NEWS & COMMENT: Congress failing to face responsibility for war on ISIS

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The U.S. has been at war against the Islamic State since August and has spent about a billion dollars on the enterprise.  --  But apart from a bill to aid "appropriately vetted elements of the Syrian opposition and other appropriately vetted Syrian groups and individuals," Congress, which under the Constitution holds the war power (Article I: "The Congress shall have the Power . . . To declare War"), has been inert.  --  On Thursday, Stars and Stripes reported that "President Barack Obama’s decision to reverse course and seek a congressional authorization for the war against the Islamic State has so far served only to reignite criticism of his entire military strategy against the extremists."[1]  --  On Friday, Politico said that "There appears to be no consensus among either party’s members about what an AUMF should say, what it should prohibit or how long it should last."[2]  --  Earlier in the week, Sen. Rand Paul pointed out the the war is now, in fact, illegal, quoting a Yale law prof:  "Yale Professor Bruce Ackerman puts it succinctly:  --  'The war against the Islamic State is now illegal.  --  The War Powers Resolution of 1973 gave President Obama 60 days to gain consent from Congress and required him to end "hostilities" within 30 days if he failed to do so.  --  This 90-day clock expired this week.'  --  And yet, there’s been no consent, and no end to the fighting.  --  I believe the president must come to Congress to begin a war.   --  I also believe the War Powers Act is misunderstood;  --  President Obama acted without true constitutional authority even before the 90 days expired, since we were not under attack at that time."[3]  --  COMMENT:  This absurd situation is another demonstration of the decrepitude of constitutionalism in the United States after several generations of the imperial presidency....

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NEWS: Dempsy says he's considering sending US combat troops back to Iraq, asks for 'patience'

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Eleven and a half years after the invasion of Iraq, Gen. Martin Dempsey "Dempsey pleaded for 'strategic patience' with a U.S. war strategy expected to last for years" as he told a House committee he was "considering" throwing U.S. combat troops into the battle against the Islamic State, the London Guardian reported Thursday.[1]  --  In other news, ISIS has released a tape purporting to demonstrate that the caliph is alive and well.  --  "In a seventeen-minute audio recording released online on Thursday, which could not be independently verified, ISIS leader Baghdadi cited Obama’s deployment orders for an additional 1,500 troops in Iraq last week as evidence that the U.S. campaign was failing," Spencer Ackerman and Raya Jalabi said....

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BACKGROUND: ISIS hated in Mosul, but 'no good option for the Iraqi Sunni community' (P. Cockburn)

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In Mosul, ISIS is confiscating houses and preemptively eliminating those from whom it expects resistance, Patrick Cockburn reported in Monday's London Independent.[1]  --  His report is based on testimony from people interviewed in Irbil, in the area controlled by the Kurdish Regional Government.  --  Surprisingly, pensioners in Mosul are still receiving payments from Baghdad....

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NEWS & COMMENT: ISIS spokesman said to wish al-Baghdadi 'speedy recovery'

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AFP reported Sunday that Iraq is "investigating whether Islamic State (ISIL) chief Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was killed in air strikes by U.S.-led coalition warplanes targeting the group's leaders," but an Iraqi official said that so far there was "no accurate information available."[1]  --  The chief of staff of British armed forces said that "it will take some days to have absolute confirmation."  --  The London Independent noted that al-Baghdadi is known as the "invisible sheikh" and that "even his own fighters reportedly do not speak to him without the leader wearing a mask to hide himself," so such confirmation will be difficult to obtain.[2]  --  On Sunday evening (Mideast time) Haaretz reported that "A Tweeter account purportedly operated by ISIS spokesperson Mohammed al-Adnani wished the group's leader a 'speedy recovery,' but others question the account's authenticity."[3]  --  The tweet reads, according to Haaretz:  "Do you think the Caliphate would end with the Caliph's death?  We announce leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi is in well, and wish him a speedy recovery."  --  (Counters will note that this contains 145 characters, and is presumably a translation, and a poor one at that:  "is in well"?)  --  COMMENT:  In these follow-up reports, the fact that CENTCOM spoke of air strikes near Mosul and the report about al-Baghdadi being "critically wounded" of the town of al-Qaim, 200 miles distant from Mosul, is never mentioned....

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NEWS: -- Rumor: ISIS leader 'critically wounded' by US air strike

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In a Friday evening air strike, the U.S. apparently attempted to kill the caliph of the Islamic State.  --  The London Guardian reported Saturday that CENTCOM later confirmed "that coalition aircraft did conduct a series of air strikes yesterday evening [Friday] in Iraq against what was assessed to be a gathering of ISIL [ISIS] leaders near Mosul.  --  We cannot confirm if ISIL leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was among those present.”[1]  --  Russia Today reported late Saturday that "Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, a self-proclaimed as caliph of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (formerly ISIL/ISIS) was 'critically wounded' during a U.S.-led air operation in the Iraqi town of al-Qaim, tribal sources told Al Arabiya News Channel."[2]  --  The town of al-Qaim, though, is about 200 miles distant from Mosul.  --  The New York Times qualified the reports of the caliph's being critically wounded as "rumors," and added that "The discrepancy in the reported locations could not be immediately explained."[3]  --  The Al Arabiya report mentioned above is posted below.[4]...

Last Updated on Sunday, 09 November 2014 07:41 Read more...
 

NEWS: US sending more troops to Iraq -- 'with what porpoise?,' as Lewis Carroll would say

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On Friday the New York Times said that the fact that the announcement of 1,500 more U.S. troops being sent back to Iraq came three days after midterm elections "raised the question" whether the administration "decided to wait until after the elections to minimize further damage to Democratic candidates."[1]  --   "[S]enior administration officials denied that Mr. Obama waited until after the elections to announce the deployment so as not to alarm an already skittish electorate."  --  It's sheer coincidence that it was just after midterm elections that Iraqi forces "reached the point where they need additional help and guidance," according to Rear Adm. John Kirby, the Pentagon press secretary, and that the administration needed to make a request for $5 billion, which "will be presented to Congress during the lame-duck session that begins next week."  --  Further illustrating the administration's clear-sightedness and sincerity, "Officials said the decision to send additional troops was based on what they said was legal authority the president already has from Congress."  --  "But they said the president wanted a new authorization from Congress for continuing American military action in Iraq and Syria, which Mr. Obama has said will last into the presidency of his successor."  --  Here's Adm. Kirby's story, and he's sticking to it:  "'We did spend a lot of money and effort training the Iraqi Army,' Admiral Kirby said.  --  'When we left them in 2011, we left them capable.'  He said the Maliki government 'squandered' the American military’s training of Iraqi troops, but expressed optimism that things will be different now.  --  'This is a completely different game,' he said, pointing to a recent visit by Mr. Abadi to Anbar Province to engage Sunni leaders in the fight against the Islamic State."  --  COMMENT:  And, Adm. Kirby might have added, this completely different game is a very difficult one, where the players all play at once, without waiting for turns, quarreling all the while, while the Caliph stamps about, shouting "Off with his head!" about once in a minute.  --  And it's a game where onlookers are beginning to feel very uneasy: even if they themselves have not as yet had any dispute with the Caliph, they know it might happen at any minute.  --  "And then," think they, "what would become of us?"  --  "They're dreadfully fond of beheading people here:  the great wonder is, that there's any one left alive!" ...

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NEWS & COMMENT: 'Bush-era throwbacks' elected to Congress

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The rise in Republican ranks of Joni Ernst, elected senator from Iowa on Tuesday in a 52%-44% victory over her Democratic opponent, "is a signal that the backlash against George W. Bush, both inside and outside the Republican Party, is ending," The Week reported.[1]  --  Other 'Bush-era throwbacks' elected to the Senate on Tuesday include Cory Gardner in Colorado and Tom Cotton in Arkansas.  --  In the House, neocon Elise Stefanik, 30, became the youngest woman ever elected to Congress by winning an upstate-New York seat.  --  "The victory of Senate hawks has also put NSA reforms and the CIA torture report in serious doubt, with Senate Intelligence Committee member Mark Udall (D-CO) losing his seat," Jason Ditz of Antiwar.com said.[2]   --  "Udall was one of the most public critics of government surveillance and intelligence community abuses, and the committee’s pending reshuffle with more pro-surveillance, pro-torture figures could spell the end to a push for reform." ...

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NEWS: Pentagon denies obvious: US war on ISIS in disarray

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Denying the obvious is the Pentagon's approach to the strategic disarray in which its war on the Islamic State finds itself, the London *Guardian* reported Tuesday.[1]  --  The collapse of key proxy groups, emerging alliances among enemy groups, and a near-exclusive concentration on a goal (Kobani) that is proclaimed to be peripheral and of no great importance -- none of these matter much, according to the Pentagon's chief spokesman, Adm. John Kirby.  --  But the facts suggest otherwise, Spencer Ackerman said:  "Beyond Kobani, the U.S. war effort, which has already morphed from its initial summer formations, has begun to look dire."  --  And more confusion lies ahead, since Republican control of the Senate after Tuesday's vote will mean that "John McCain will probably become chairman of the influential armed services committee.  --  A vociferous critic of Obama’s foreign policy generally and his campaign against ISIS in particular, McCain favors expanding the war’s aims." ...

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NEWS: Two US-backed groups fall to al-Qaeda affiliate in Syria, reportedly with help from ISIS

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U.S. strategy in Syria encountered major setbacks on Saturday.  --  McClatchy reported tentatively on Saturday that ISIS appeared to have combined with al-Nusra to drive Jamal Maarouf (or Marouf), the leader of the Syrian Revolutionary Front and the most prominent U.S.-backed Syrian rebel, from his own home town.[1]  --  "If Islamic State fighters in fact joined Nusra in the attack, it will have major repercussions for the war in Syria, for the two groups have been divided since April 2013, when Abu Bakr al Baghdadi, the Iraq-based leader, announced the creation of the Islamic State," Mousab Alhamadee and Roy Gutman said.  --  "The rise of Nusra, and its apparent collaboration with the Islamic State, casts a harsh light on the U.S. approach to Syria, which has been to bomb the Islamic State, and ignore the internal conflict between rebel forces and the Assad regime, which gave rise to the radical Islamists."  --  On Sunday the London Telegraph also reported on Maarouf's defeat, adding that on Saturday night another important U.S. ally, Harakat Hazam, "Hazm surrendered military bases and weapons supplies to Jabhat al-Nusra, when the al-Qaeda affiliate in Syria stormed villages they controlled in northern Idlib province."[2]  --  "The U.S. and its allies were relying on Harakat Hazm and the Syrian Revolutionary Front to become part of a ground force that would attack the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL)," Ruth Sherlock said.  --  "For the last six months the Hazm movement, and the SRF through them, had been receiving heavy weapons from the U.S.-led coalition, including GRAD rockets and TOW anti-tank missiles."  --  "For the United States, the weapons they supplied falling into the hands of al-Qaeda is a realization of a nightmare." ...

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Meeting schedule

United for Peace of Pierce County meets 7:00-8:30 p.m. on the first and third Thursdays of every month at First United Methodist Church in Tacoma (621 Tacoma Avenue South).

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