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

ANALYSIS: New 'tactical sophistication' key to recent Islamic State successes

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An analysis of Islamic State victories published Tuesday in the Wall Street Journal emphasized the importance of the group's increasing "tactical sophistication."[1]  --  Margaret Cooker said that Iraqi forces in Ramadi had been "outwitted" thanks to "a complex battle plan."  --  It involved operational security demonstrating both discipline and a knowledge of their enemies' surveillance techniques as well as the improvisation of powerful new suicide weapons.  --  Meanwhile AP reported Tuesday that "Over the past year defeated Iraq security forces have repeatedly left U.S.-supplied military equipment on the battlefield, which the U.S. has targeted in subsequent airstrikes against Islamic State forces."[2]  --  "American intelligence officials have assessed for some time that Iraq is unlikely ever again to function as the multi-ethnic nation-state it once was . . . But the Obama administration has continued to pursue a 'one Iraq' policy, routing all assistance through Baghdad," Ken Dilanian said.  --  COMMENT:  Like a number of other policies adopted by the Obama administration, its Iraq strategy is dictated by American political considerations, not by the military situation in the Middle East.  --  The only plausible strategy for a successful military campaign against the Islamic State is a "diplomatic revolution" by the United States followed by military alliances against ISIS with both Iran and Syria.  --  It may come to this some day, but for the time being it would entail domestic political costs the Obama administration is unwilling to confront....

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BACKGROUND: ISIS's 'sexual jihad' takes violence against women to 'new level'

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The Islamic State has taken sexual atrocities against women "to a whole new level," Middle East Eye said Monday in presenting an interview with Zainab Bangura, a 55-year-old woman from Sierra Leone who is the United Nation Secretary-General's Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict.[1]  --  "Bangura has just returned from Syria, Iraq, Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan, where she gathered data on I.S. sex crimes, including those against captured Yazidi women."  --  She said that after ISIS takes a village, "I.S. splits women from men and executes boys and men aged 14 and over.  --  The women and mothers are separated; girls are stripped naked, tested for virginity, and examined for breast size and prettiness.  --  The youngest, and those considered the prettiest virgins fetch higher prices and are sent to Raqqa, the IS stronghold.  --  There is a hierarchy:  --  sheikhs get first choice, then emirs, then fighters.  --  They often take three or four girls each and keep them for a month or so, until they grow tired of a girl, when she goes back to market."  --  She said the Islamic State is "institutionalizing sexual violence; the brutalisation of women and girls is central to their ideology.   --  They use sexual violence as a 'tactic of terrorism.'"  --  The Islamic State has "more than 40,000 fighters from more than 100 countries," she said.  --  It is using "the concept of jihad al-nikah, or sexual jihad -- whereby women’s bodies are used as part of supporting the I.S. campaign.  There are tens of thousands of men who expect that they will 'get' women to 'marry.'"  --  Bangura, a Muslim, has been in her post since 2012 and has worked in many countries, but said:  "I never saw anything like this.  --  I cannot understand such inhumanity."  --  Last month Human Rights Watch also called attention to "systematic rape and other sexual violence against Yezidi women and girls in northern Iraq."[2]  --  "Human Rights Watch documented a system of organized rape and sexual assault, sexual slavery, and forced marriage by ISIS forces."  --  The victimized women suffer "unimaginable trauma," HRW said, noting that "In October 2014, ISIS acknowledged in its publication *Dabiq* that its fighters had given captured Yezidi women and girls to its fighters as 'spoils of war.'  --  ISIS has sought to justify sexual violence claiming that Islam permits sex with non-Muslim 'slaves,' including girls, as well as beating and selling them.  --  The statements are further evidence of a widespread practice and a systematic plan of action by ISIS, Human Rights Watch said." ...

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NEWS: Islamic State's first claim of responsibility for attack inside Saudi Arabia

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On Friday, for the first time, the Islamic State claimed responsibility for a terrorist attack inside Saudi Arabia, the Washington Post reported.[1]  --  The New York Times said that "it was unclear whether the attack was planned by Islamic State leaders, initiated independently by a Saudi sympathizer, or merely claimed opportunistically after the fact."[2]  --  "Thousands of Saudis have traveled to join the Islamic State, which follows a puritanical school of Islam that scholars say is similar to that of Saudi Arabia," David Kirkpatrick said.  --  Some see a link with the fighting in Yemen, where a Sunni-Shiite conflict is raising tensions inside Saudi Arabia.  --  "Jafar al-Shayeb, head of the Qatif Municipal Council and a Shiite community leader, blamed the 'sectarian discourse' that has spread through Saudi Arabia since the start of the air campaign in Yemen.  --  "'People feel like this is a direct result of the atmosphere that is turning everybody against each other through speeches and media and social media,' he said.  'It will lead young people to sacrifice themselves and kill others in this region, and people are very angry about it.'" ...

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UFPPC statement: Portents of evil imminent

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UNITED FOR PEACE OF PIERCE COUNTY

"We nonviolently oppose the reliance on unilateral military actions rather than cooperative diplomacy."

PORTENTS OF EVIL IMMINENT

May 21, 2015

Last weekend Ramadi fell; yesterday, Palmyra.  What does the future hold for the Islamic State?  And what should the United States do?

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NEWS: Syrian forces withdraw as Palmyra falls to Islamic State in 'major setback'

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Islamic State fighters have "taken control" of Palmyra, Syria, Reuters reported Wednesday.[1]  --  It was "the first time the al Qaeda offshoot has taken control of a city directly from the Syrian army and allied forces," Sylvia Westall and Tom Perry said.  --  Historians and the director-general of UNESCO fear the Islamic State will ransack the World Heritage Site, the New York Times said.[2]  --  AP reported that Syrian state TV said its forces had withdrawn from what is "a stunning defeat for President Bashar Assad’s forces."[3]  --  Debka called the taking of Palmyra a "major setback" and also claimed to know that the Iranian embassy was blown up in Damascus Wednesday night, but this has not been reported elsewhere.[4] ...

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NEWS & BACKGROUND: New act opens in 'continuing tragedy of Iraq’s Sunnis'

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An article in Wednesday's New York Times focused on the plight of Sunnis now that Baghdad's strategy for enlisting them in the fight against ISIS, or the Islamic State, has fallen with the city of Ramadi.[1]  --  "Nearly three million Iraqis are now displaced, according to the United Nations, a level not seen since the height of Iraq’s sectarian civil war in 2006 and 2007.  --  Then, many Iraqis fled to Syria.  --  But with Syria convulsed by its own civil war, Iraqis on the run from the Islamic State have few safe places to go.  --  Nearly 85 percent of the displaced are Sunnis, according to a United Nations official," Tim Arango said.  --  On Monday the BBC quoted a "well-placed Sunni politician" who said:  "The Sunnis are getting to the point where they think that Islamic State is a lesser evil than the Shia militias."[2]  --  COMMENT:  Iraqi Sunnis are not merely being invaded by the Islamic State, they are also participating in a historic creation of one of their own.  --  Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, or Caliph Ibrahim as he is known to followers, is an Iraqi Sunni born in 1971 sixty miles away from Ramadi, near Samarra.  --  A product of Iraqi Sunni culture, he has degrees (including a Ph.D.) from Islamic University in Baghdad.  --  According to an account by Ruth Sherlock published by the London Telegraph in November 2014, al-Baghdadi was a quiet-living type who "didn't show any hostility to Americans" when they invaded in 2003.  --  Rather, "it was a . . . prison stint in an American jail which cemented Baghdadi as the jihadist he is today." ...

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TRANSLATION: On the significance of the January 11 "Je suis Charlie" demonstrations

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With the publication of Qui est Charlie? (May 2015), Emmanuel Todd, 64, a well-known French sociologist, challenged the widespread view that "the spirit of January 11" was a reassuring demonstration of support for freedom of expression and tolerance in the framework of the French Republic.  --  According to Todd's analysis, these views were only a misleading surface phenomenon, a mask disguising a dangerous swerve of French opinion toward intolerance, Islamophobia and even anti-Semitism.  --  Reactions to Todd have been intense, and have included an Op-Ed in Le Monde by Prime Minister Manuel Valls denouncing the book and its author.  --  On Tuesday, two sociologists who have devoted their careers to the study of social movements published their refutation of Todd's analysis, also in Le Monde.  --  Their article is translated below in its entirety.[1]  --  NOTE:  The authors (or their editors) confuse a living sociologist, William I. Robinson, with William S. Robinson (1913-1996), the veritable originator, in 1950, of the concept of the "ecological fallacy." ...

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COMMENTARY: Ramadi 'disaster' heralds 'the break-up of Iraq'

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Though not always reliable, Debka, the Israeli website with links to Mossad, at least presents a plausible perspective on events, which is more than on can say for Iraqi officials or Pentagon sources of late.  --  On Monday Debka noted that "In the last two days, the remnants of the Iraqi army have gone to pieces"; most Western mainstream sources, though, have scrupulously avoided commenting on the Iraqi army's performance.[1]  --  As for announced plans to send Shiite militias to Anbar to fight back against ISIS, Debka considers this "no more than an attempt to boost morale."  --  Baghdad's only real succor on the ground in this crisis is Iran, another fact that U.S. media in particular is unwilling to acknowledge openly.  --  But Debka observed that "Iran’s Defense Minister Hossein Dehghan . . . arrived precipitately in Baghdad Monday, shortly after Ramadi’s fall . . . Our military sources expect him to focus on a desperate effort to deploy Shiite militias as an obstacle in ISIS’s path to Baghdad, now that the road is clear of defenders all the way from Ramadi."  --  Debka also reported that Jordan's King Abdullah fears that the Obama administration's strategy is undermining the stability of Jordan.  --  "ISIS would at present have no difficulty in invading southern Jordan, where the army is thin on the ground, and seizing local towns and villages whose inhabitants are already sympathetic to the extremist group."  --  More reliable than Debka is Patrick Cockburn, the most insightful Westerner reporting from the Middle East.  --  He noted Tuesday in the London Independent that "ISIS fighters defeated élite units of the Iraqi armed forces."[2]  --  "Armored vehicles belonging to the Iraqi army’s so-called 'Golden Division,' considered its best unit, could be seen streaming out of Ramadi in a retreat that looked, at times, as if it had turned into a rout.  --  Heavy equipment, including armored Humvees and artillery, was abandoned."  --  Cockburn said that "The fall of Ramadi may turn out to be a decisive event, changing the political and military landscape of Iraq and Syria.  --  In some respects, it is a worst defeat for the Iraqi government than the capture of the northern Iraqi city of Mosul in a surprise Isis attack last year."  --  Whereas Mosul was a surprise, the attack on Ramadi was fully expected and should have been repelled.  --  U.S. strategy against the Islamic State, Cockburn said, is "in ruins."  --  As for the future of Iraq, "The defeat at Ramadi is likely to prove an important staging post in the break-up of Iraq because the Shia majority may decide they are getting very little from the Kurds or the anti-ISIS Sunni politicians." ...

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TRANSLATION: ISIS sees Palmyra & Ramadi as mediagenic targets

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On Sunday the French newspaper Libération offered an analysis of the latest targets of the Islamic State, translated below.  --  Palmyra, in particular, is a particularly attractive target for ISIS because UNESCO has designated it a World Heritage Site, according to Luc Mathieu.  --  "If they were to seize the historic city, its fate is certain, since the jihadists have consistently destroyed and pillaged the pre-Islamic ruins of Iraqi archeological sites in Hatra, Nimrod, and Mosul," he said.[1]  --  For the moment, Syrian armed forces have been successful in keeping ISIS out of Palmyra....

Last Updated on Monday, 18 May 2015 06:26 Read more...
 

NEWS: ISIS takes Ramadi as Iraqi military flees 'the collapse of Anbar'

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After minimizing for several days reports of the fall of Ramadi, U.S. mainstream media are finally acknowledging the fall of Ramadi, which to all effects and purposes happened two days ago.  --  True, their accounts are still laced with expressions like "purportedly," "with militants saying," "on condition of anonymity," "could not be independently verified," etc., as in Sameer Yacoub's report for AP.  --  In general, Western journalists are more concerned with scrupulously reporting flimsy denials of reality by Iraqi and American officials -- on Friday the Pentagon said that ISIS was "on the defensive throughout Iraq and Syria" and on Sunday was still asserting the situation was "fluid and contested" and that it was too early to make "definitive statements" -- than with trying to describe what is happening.  --  Still, there is no disguising the scale of this event.  -  "The retreat recalled the collapse of Iraqi police and military forces last summer, when the Islamic State group’s initial blitz into Iraq saw it capture about a third of the country," Yacoub said.[1]  --  "Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi . . apparently fear[s] the extremists could capture the entirety of the vast Sunni province . . . It also calls into questions American officials' hopes of relying solely on airstrikes to support the Iraqi forces in expelling the extremists."  --  USA Today noted that the ISIS victory came despite "165 U.S.-led airstrikes . . . conducted on Ramadi to assist Iraqi troops battling the Islamic State."[2]  --  The Wall Street Journal said ISIS had killed "hundreds of government forces and deal[t] a crushing setback to U.S.-backed efforts to halt the spread of the extremist group."[3]  --  The BBC called the Iraqi military retreat "chaotic" and marveled that "the U.S. refused to confirm the capture" of the city.[4]  --   The New York Times spoke of "the collapse of Anbar" and said Ramadi had fallen "completely."[5]  --  Tim Arango noted that Anbar Province is the place where nearly 1,300 soldiers and marines died after the American invasion of 2003."  --  Indeed, in the Iraq war, more Americans died in Anbar than in any other province.  --  Baghdad's plan is now to send Shiite militias into Anbar.  --  If this plan is carried out, atrocities on both sides are certain to mount in spectacular fashion.  --  BACKGROUND:  It was only six and a half years ago that President George W. Bush proclaimed, as the U.S. military handed over control of Anbar province to Iraqi military forces, "Today, Anbar is no longer lost to al-Qa'ida, it is al-Qa'ida that lost Anbar" (Independent [London], Sept. 2, 2008)....

Last Updated on Monday, 18 May 2015 07:01 Read more...
 

NEWS & ANALYSIS: Fall of Ramadi part of multi-pronged ISIS offensive

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The Islamic State is wrapping up its first seizure of a major urban center in Iraq in nearly a year.  --  Forces defending Ramadi, the capital of Anbar province, are in a state of "total collapse," Reuters reported Sunday.[1]  --  Jennifer Rubin of the Washington Post mocked the Obama administration for characterizing the fall of the capital of Anbar province as just a "bad day," and for pretending to be unable to confirm reports on the dire situation in Ramadi.[2]  --  Al Arabiya reported Sunday that "The western Iraqi city of Ramadi on Sunday fell to the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) . . . after the Iraqi army deserted the city."[3]  --  Al Arabiya also reported that the government in Baghdad has "ordered Shiite militias to be prepared to go into Anbar province," which is predominantly Sunni.  --  Meanwhile Debka, the website associated with Israeli intelligence, had already reported unambiguously on Friday that "Ramadi, the provincial capital of western Iraqi Anbar, fell to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant Friday, May 15, after its inhabitants were put to mass flight.  --  The town, 110 km west of Baghdad, controls the traffic on the Euphrates River.  --  Small pockets of Iraqi troops are still stranded there after taking hundreds of casualties."[4]  --  Debka said the attack on Ramadi is part of a "multi-pronged offensive" that has also led to the capture of Jubba, "next door to Iraq’s biggest air base at Al-Ansar.  --  There, hundreds of U.S. officers and soldiers are training Iraqi troops to fight ISIS and helping the Iraqi army manage the fighting in the province."  --  And in "the oil-producing town of Baiji . . . a small Iraqi army force of no more than a few hundred soldiers is surrounded by the jihadists, with slim chances of holding out much longer before they are wiped out or forced to surrender."  --  Debka reported that "Muslims from West Europe" were involved in suicide bomb cars used in the offensive to take the center of Ramadi.  --  Debka described the tactics used by the Islamic State:  "[F]ighters first seize control of its environs.  --  That way, they can block off in advance any incoming and outgoing movements of Iraqi troops -- whether in retreat or for bringing up reinforcements.  --  Next, their fighters storm into the core of the targeted location.  --  Fleeing Iraqi soldiers and their local allies and civilians are summarily put to death."  --  Debka concluded:  "This new ISIS impetus in Iraq has wiped out the military advantages the Iran-backed Shiite militias and U.S. Air Force gained from the capture of the central Iraqi town of Tikrit in late March and early April.  --  When the Shiite mlitias turned on the local Sunni populace for murder, burning, and looting, the Obama administration turned to Tehran and Baghdad and demanded those militias be removed from the city.  --  Since the Iraqi army is incapable of recovering control and holding Tikrit after the Islamists were driven out, the town has sunk into anarchy with innumerable armed gangs battling each other for control of its quarters, some of them ISIS loyalists.  --  In the current situation prevailing in western Iraq, the Americans and Iraqis might as well forget about their plans for retaking Iraq’s second city, Mosul, from ISIS control, this year."  --  COMMENT:  Western mainstream reporting continues to refer reassuringly to "Iraq," but in reality there is no longer a national entity going by that name.  --  There is nothing new about this.  --  Eight years ago UFPPC entitled one of its statements "Iraq Is Collapsing, But U.S. Media Decline to Report the Fact." ...

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NEWS: Fall of Ramadi to ISIS a 'serious blow' to government in Baghdad

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The novelty of an American raid targeting ISIS inside Syria is getting the headlines, but it is more significant that in Iraq on May 15 Islamic State fighters stormed Ramadi, a city of 900,000 and the capital of Anbar province, and a day later proclaimed victory by taking control of the building that had lodged provincial headquarters, where they raised the Islamic State flag.  --  American media are unwilling to acknowledge what seems to be taking place because Pentagon spokesmen are downplaying its importance, but British media are being more forthright.  --  "The fall of Ramadi, one of the few remaining government strongholds in Anbar province covering a third of Iraq, shows that hopes of the Iraqi army and Shia militia forces reversing ISIS’s gains of last year were premature and may never be realized," the London Independent said.[1]  --  On Saturday the Economist called "[t]he loss of Ramadi" a "serious blow to the government in Baghdad."[2] ...

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ANALYSIS: Bin Laden is about myth, so Hersh is a heretic

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On Friday, Trevor Timm came to the defense of Seymour Hersh in an analytical piece published by the Columbia Review of Journalism.[1]  --  Providing many links, Timm reviewed the character assassination campaign that has been directed at Hersh during the week following the posting on May 10 of a 10,000-word article on the killing of Osama bin Laden.  --  But Timm's points won't gain much traction in the world of mainstream media.  --  In the mediasphere, the attacks on Hersh for daring to publish charges of extensive lying by the the president, his administration, the military, and the national security apparatus about the events surrounding the killing of Osama bin Laden have been a spectacular confirmation of what UFPPC asserted in a statement posted a few days after bin Laden's death was announced:  --  "[W]hen we discuss the death of bin Laden, we are also dealing in myth. . . . [I]n the society of the spectacle that the modern world has become, myths are the picturesque, authoritative expressions of ideas and doctrines mass media inculcate in the public mind. . . . It is in this context that we should understand the government's use of secrecy to shroud events. . . . Factual truth is not what matters in the domain of myth."  --  From this perspective, Hersh is less a journalist than a heretic, and he is being treated as such....

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NEWS: Seymour Hersh challenges official account of bin Laden's death

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In an article posted Sunday on the London Review of Books website, investigative reporter Seymour Hersh, who needs no introduction, reported that much of the Obama administration's narrative regarding the 2011 death of Osama bin Laden is false.[1]  --  His article is mostly based on testimony from an unnamed "retired [U.S.] senior intelligence official who was knowledgeable about the initial intelligence about bin Laden’s presence in Abbottabad."  --  Hersh's article claimed "that bin Laden had been a prisoner of the ISI at the Abbottabad compound since 2006; that Kayani [the chief of Pakistan's army staff] and Pasha [the director general of the ISI] knew of the raid in advance and had made sure that the two helicopters delivering the Seals to Abbottabad could cross Pakistani airspace without triggering any alarms; that the CIA did not learn of bin Laden’s whereabouts by tracking his couriers, as the White House has claimed since May 2011, but from a former senior Pakistani intelligence officer who betrayed the secret in return for much of the $25 million reward offered by the U.S., and that, while Obama did order the raid and the Seal team did carry it out, many other aspects of the administration’s account were false."  --  Hersh reported that bin Laden had been a prisoner of the ISI in Abbottabad since 2006, and that in August 2010 a Pakistani official revealed bin Laden's location to the CIA to obtain a $25 million award for information leading to his death or capture.  --  Hersh said the U.S. pressured Pakistani leaders to agree to allow an American raid on condition that bin Laden be killed, not taken hostage.  --  According to Hersh, there was no firefight in Abbottabad, and President Obama's decision to reveal that the raid had taken place violated a prior agreement with Pakistan that the U.S. would announce that bin Laden had been killed in a drone strike.  --  There was no treasure trove of information captured by the Seal team, Hersh said, and there was no burial of bin Laden's body at sea.  --  The White House and mainstream media are vigorously attacking of Hersh's version.  --  Hersh's defense of his reporting on CNN can be viewed here....

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BOOKS: How much should historians 'think'?

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Samuel Moyn, a former student of Hayden White who is now a professor of "law and history" at Harvard, recently reviewed some of the latest skirmishes in the longstanding struggle to determine the proper role of narrative in history.  --  Among other things, he put Bill Gates, with his half-baked ideas about how "big history" should be taught, in his place:  "Apart from the fact that Gates’s scientism sacrifices the critical perspective that humanists have learned to maintain since their disastrous nineteenth-century dalliance with biology and other natural sciences, the trouble with massive expansions of the time line, even just to the totality of human history, is simple:  it forces historians to become scientists, effectively converting their discipline into what is already somebody else’s job.  --  Gates’s big historians already exist:  they are called physicists."[1] ...

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NEWS: 'There’s a war going on in Iraq' -- 'Ramadi could fall to ISIS'

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As Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al Abadi met in Washington, D.C., with President Barack Obama and Defense Secretary Ashton Carter, Islamic State fighters seized three villages outside Ramadi, the capital of Anbar province, and pressed into the city of half a million souls, McClatchy Newspapers reported.[1]  --  Ramadi is "one of the few population centers in Anbar still under government control," Mitchell Prothero and James Rosen noted.  --  Nancy Youssef of the Daily Beast said that the developments "upend[ed] the momentum that the U.S.-led military coalition seemed to have just days ago, and threaten[ed] to shatter an already delicate recent power shift that both the U.S. hoped to exploit."[2]  --  CNN reported statements that Ramadi could fall to ISIS.[3]  --  "At least 150,000 people have already fled since Wednesday morning, causing huge traffic jams on the roads leading outside the city, according to Essawi," the deputy head of the Anbar Provincial Council, Hamdi Alkhshali, Arwa Damon, and Jethro Mullen said....

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NEWS: 'Out of control' mayhem and revenge killing follow liberation in Tikrit

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As was widely anticipated, there have been vicious revenge killings by Shiite militias involved in retaking the city of Tikrit, Iraq, from the hands of the Islamic State as well as looting and burning of houses by uncontrollable mobs, Reuters reported Friday.[1]  --  Iranians were also involved in the fighting, and one Iranian fighter involved in the final assault was said to exult that "Iran and Iraq are one state now."  --  Ned Parker's article concludes with a detailed, unusually graphic 600-word account of the lynching of a prisoner by Iraqi federal police and Shiite paramilitaries that took place on Wed., Apr. 1....

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ANALYSIS: Why the Iraqi campaign to retake Tikrit has stalled

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The three-week-old Iraqi effort to retake Tikrit from the hands of the Islamic State has stalled due to heavy casualties ("at least 1,000 Shiite militiamen died in the early days of fighting") and fear at high levels of the Iraqi government that victory will "unleash the militias," known for "hav[ing] terrorized the local Sunni population, pillaging houses, and raping women," McClatchy Newspapers reported Friday.[1]  --  Mitchell Prothero quoted an unnamed U.S. military officer who said the difficulties encountered in Tikrit cast doubt on the much-bruited plans to recapture Mosul:  --  "'If the Iraqis can’t retake two square miles of a town they’ve had surrounded for weeks, how can anyone expect they’ll be better off fighting house to house in a place the size of Mosul, with almost 2 million residents?' he said, asking that he not be identified because he hoped still to win a contract to help train Iraqis.  --  'I’m not sure they will ever be capable of doing it without a bloodbath.  --  It would be an enormously complex operation for the American military, and these guys aren’t even close to ready.'" ...

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BACKGROUND: Reflections on the significance of ISIS rule in the city of Hit

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On Tuesday Patrick Cockburn, the author of a recent book on the rise of the Islamic State, a.k.a. ISIS or ISIL, reported on how the Iraqi city of Hit, pop. 100,000, was taken by ISIS in less than 24 hours on Oct. 4, 2014.[1]  --  According to a pseudonymous informant who recently left the city, the takeover started at 4:00 a.m. with a bomb at a key checkpoint, and ended about 5:00 p.m. the same day when the last two resisting police stations gave up.  --  Cockburn's piece is accompanied with a map showing how the Islamic State's control now extends over an area 500 miles from east to west and more than 300 miles from north to south, approximately the size of the British Isles.  --  COMMENT:  Reading this piece sent me looking through the books about the Iraq war I've accumulated over the years.  --  I didn't find anything of note about the city of Hit, but I did find myself browsing through Operation Iraqi Freedom, a hardcover celebration of the U.S. military victory over Saddam Hussein's Iraq that NBC News published on Sept. 1, 2003.  --  NBC News's book is 238 pages long.  --  It's a handsome volume that comes with a full-length DVD and originally went for $29.95.  --  I bought it, though, for $3.00 a couple years later at Half-Price Books.  --  Now it can be purchased for $0.01 from eleven used book dealers on the Amazon.com website.  --  Seven glossy pages are devoted to listing the names of "the soldiers and journalists who died in Operation Iraqi Freedom between March 21 and April 14, the period covered by this book."  --  I counted 177 names.  --  No Iraqis; to the people who produced this book, Iraqi soldiers and journalists were not worth naming, or even mentioning.  --  A list the names of all those killed in Operation Iraqi Freedom, presented in the same format as the list beginning with "Marine Major Jay Thomas Aubin, 36, Waterville, Maine" and ending seven pages later with "Marine Corporal Jason David Mileo, 20, Centreville, Maryland," would take up ten books the size of Operation Iraqi Freedom.  --  They will never be published.  --  If they were, perhaps in a few years you could buy them on Amazon.com for $0.10.  --  Though if you added to the list the number of violent deaths that can be attributed to the conflict begun by George W. Bush, you'd have another 200, or or more likely 300 volumes, and you might have to pay more, since there would be more volumes than there are names in the sanctimonious list produced in 2003 by NBC News.  --  A full set might cost you as much as $3.00, imagine that.  --  Toward the end of Operation Iraqi Freedom, on page 203, addresses by President George W. Bush and Prime Minister Tony Blair to the Iraqi people are quoted.  --  Bush told Iraqis on Apr. 10, 2003:  "A long era of fear and cruelty is ending."  -- Blair said:  "The years of brutality, oppression, and fear are coming to an end."  --  "The speeches were broadcast with Arabic subtitles from a C-130 Hercules aircraft called Compass Call," Marc Kusnetz says.  --  Of course Bush and Blair didn't get it right, but it's interesting to note that Kusnetz didn't get it right, either.  --  In fact, Compass Call is not an aircraft, but rather "an American airborne tactical weapon system using a heavily modified version of the C-130 Hercules airframe," according to Wikipedia, and it serves to jam electronic communications.  --  In addition to Iraq, Compass Call has been used in Kosovo, Haiti, Panama, Serbia, and Afghanistan.  --  There are fourteen EC-130H Compass Calls on active duty in the U.S. Air Combat Command.  --  All of them operate out of Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in Arizona, where Army Private First Class Lori Piestewa, 23, Marine Sergeant Fernando Padilla-Ramirez, 26, and Navy Lieutenant Nathan D. White, 30, all of whom died in the early days of Operation Iraqi Freedom, all hailed from.  --   They'd be 35, 38, and 42 years old now, wouldn't they? if President George W. Bush had not decided "to commit American forces to war in Iraq," as Tom Brokaw puts on page ix of Operation Iraqi Freedom.  --  Lori Piestewa, a Navajo, became famous as the first Native American woman to die in combat while serving with the U.S. military, and was named as the hero of a celebrated ambush by Jessica Lynch.  --  Fernado Padilla-Ramirez had a wife and two sons, one of whom he never saw, since he was born five days after he shipped out to Iraq.  --  As for Nathan D. White, he was the first pilot killed in the Iraq war; the military said his jet was probably brought down by a U.S. Patriot missile in a friendly fire incident.  --  Said to be "modest and gentle" and "not a 'Top Gun' type," Nathan White was a Mormon who did his missionary work in Japan, spoke fluent Japanese, and married a Japanese woman.  --  She and the three children they had now live in Japan....

Last Updated on Friday, 20 March 2015 06:06 Read more...
 

NEWS: Iraq 'pauses' Tikrit offensive, citing need for air support

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While still maintaining that the victory of an Iran-backed offensive to retake the Sunni city of Tikrit from the hands of the Islamic State was imminent, Iraq's interior minister announced Monday that Iraqi security forces and Shiite militias would "halt military operations in Salahuddin [province, where the city where Saddam Hussein first saw the light of day is located,] in order to reduce casualties among our heroic forces . . . and to preserve the remaining infrastructure," the National reported, based on reports by Reuters and AP.[1]  --  The New York Times reported something a bit different:  "Iraqi officials said they were pausing their offensive to call for reinforcements and to preserve property and civilian lives."[2]  --  The Times also omitted a major theme of the National 's report:  the call from Iraqi authorities for "air support from any force that can work with us against ISIL," in the words of Iraqi Deputy Minister of Defense Ibrahim Al Lami.[1] ...

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ANALYSIS: 'The West, and particularly the US, doesn’t understand Russia or Russians'

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A vatnik, Jim Kovpak would have us know, is an internet meme "representative of a certain archetypal Russian who slavishly supports the regime out of fear, hatred of others, or most often a combination of both."[1]  --  "Understand the vatnik and vatnost, his mentality, and you will understand what is going on in Putin’s Russia behind the media curtain," Kovpak argued in a blog piece that has provoked much discussion online.  --  BACKGROUND:  The notion of "the Russian soul" criticized in this article came into vogue with de Vogüé, a French aristocrat who commented on Russian culture in the late 19th century, especially in Le roman russe (1886).  --  His views gained traction because of the European enthusiasm for Tolstoy and Dostoevsky, mediated in English via the translations of Constance Garnett.  --  Dissatisfied bourgeois in France and Germany looking for an alternative to the pecuniary obsessions of capitalist Europe but unwilling to overthrow it idealized Russian spirituality and emotivity.  --  In the title of Hermann Hesse's Steppenwolf can be seen an echo of this admiration, and Nietzsche, in his last active years, exalted Dostoevsky as "a deep man, who is ten times correct to think little of the superficial Germans"; he saw Russia as an escape from Europe's "crisis of nihilism."  --  Mme Chauchat, the Russian from Daghestan who fascinates Hans Castorp in Thomas Mann's The Magic Mountain (1924), shows that the notion survived the Bolshevik Revolution.  --  In fact, Bolshevism was often interpreted through the lens of "the Russian soul" as a demonic force, a perversion of the Russian soul, both in Nazi Germany and among Anglo-American élites.  --  In post-Stalinist period the neo-Romantic vision of "the Russian soul" receded, but as Kovpak points out, the present crisis is causing it to make a comeback....

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

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