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Friday, December 2, 2011

900,000 widows — hardly “well meaning”

U.S. in Iraq
Beyond “credibility deficit”
Compiled, edited, re-reported with comment by Carolyn Bennett

The U.S. military’s version of ‘creative destruction,’ driven directly into the oil heartlands of the planet … have unified the region in misery and visceral dislike, Tom Engelhardt writes in an article published today at Middle East online.

U.S. in Afghanistan
“‘Mistakes,’ ‘incidents’ ‘collateral damage,’ slaughtered wedding parties and bombed funerals, ‘mishaps’ and ‘miscommunications’ continue to pile up — as do dead Afghans, Iraqis, Pakistanis, and Americans, so many from places you’ve never heard of if you weren’t born there.”


Washington remains — as it has been since September 12, 2001 — engaged in a fierce and costly losing battle with ghosts in which … perfectly real people die and perfectly real women are widowed.

In this country an estimated 900,000 wives have lost their husbands since the United States invaded Iraq in March 2003. According to reports, many of these widows are in states of desperation and receiving next to no help from governments of Iraq or United States, Engelhardt writes.

Their 900,000 husbands undoubtedly died in various ways — warlike, civil-war-like, and peaceable — but the figure offers a crude indicator of the levels of carnage the U.S. invasion loosed on Iraq during the last eight and a half years.

Afghans protest
After almost nine years of war and occupation, the United States is reportedly shutting down its multi-billion-dollar mega [military]-bases in Iraq, withdrawing U.S. troops. However, the USA is leaving behind a monster State Department mission guarded by a 5,000-person army of mercenaries, a militarized budget of $6.5 billion for 2012, and more than 700 mostly hire-a-gun trainers.

Vatican-size residual occupation 

U.S. anti occupation
anti war actions
Peter Van Buren, a  U.S. State Department official suspended for publishing We meant well,  said this week on Democracy Now that in countries of Iraq’s size, the U.S. State Department typically has a mission of 100 to 150 people. Before the 1991 Gulf War, he said, the U.S. embassy in Iraq was relatively small, about the size of a college mathematics building, with about 100 people working in it. 

Around the world, it is typical for the U.S. to have a medium-sized embassy in a country of the size and complexity of Iraq; but “the State Department has created the world’s largest embassy in Baghdad — literally the size of the Vatican, something seen from space.” 

For this residual occupation, the U.S. Department of State “has hired over five thousand mercenaries, contract security people similar to Blackwater under some different names; as well as its own armed Air Force, its own blood system to supply people who are injured, and a whole lot of other militarized functions that have no place in diplomacy.

Iraqis protest U.S.-built
separating Iraqis
“In many people’s minds, the sixteen thousand personnel who are going to occupy the State Department facilities are nothing more than an extension of the occupation of Iraq, albeit, under civilian control rather than military control.”

On this week’s U.S. vice presidential photo op in Baghdad, Van Buren said he (Van Buren) “would like to propose that no VIP be allowed to go to Iraq — certainly not to announce anything using the words ‘victory’ or ‘success’ — until he or she is willing to do that on an announced visit with the airplane landing in the day time.

“As long as the visits have to be kept secret and the planes have to land at night, I would like to suggest we not use the words ‘victory,’ ‘success,’ ‘completion’ or anything equivalent.”

The author of The American Way of War (How Bush’s Wars Became Obama’s) concludes a segment of his Middle East article with the inevitable: “Iraq is visibly a loss for Washington.”

News this week from IRAQ
Explosion in Iraq

Iraqi political and community leaders, according to Press TV, routinely cite the United States and U.S. close ally Saudi Arabia “as the States sponsoring the terror campaign in Iraq.”

On Wednesday this week, thousands of Iraqis including clerics, lawmakers and city councilors took to the streets of Baghdad and the southern cities of Najaf and Basra … “to condemn an unannounced visit to the oil-rich country by U.S. Vice President Joe Biden.”

Believing this high level visit was aimed at convincing Iraqi leaders to extend the occupation of U.S. military forces in their country, the demonstrators chanted, “‘Biden, get out of Iraq’ and ‘No to America.’”

U.S. war helicopter
Yesterday in Iraq, ten people died and 25 others were injured when a bomb exploded in the Iraqi town of Khalis, 50 miles (80 kilometers) north of Iraq’s capital, Baghdad.

On Monday outside a prison near the capital, 19 people died and 22 others were injured when another car bomb exploded.


U.S. drone
Meanwhile in Afghanistan’s neighbor, Tom Engelhardt writes, “the U.S. drone war combined with the latest ‘incident’ on the Pakistani border, evidently involving U.S. Special Forces operatives, has further destabilized Pakistan and the U.S. alliance there.”

A major Pakistani presidential candidate is calling for the end of the U.S.-Pakistan alliance and anti-Americanism is growing fast and far.

anti-U.S. actions
News this week from PAKISTAN

Violence and militancy have displaced thousands of people across this country. 

More than 35,000 Pakistanis have died in bombings and other militant attacks since 2007 [Press TV attributing AP]. Since late 2009, militant attacks in Pakistan have increased.
Lahore, Pakistan

On the United States’ Thanksgiving weekend, NATO helicopters and fighter jets had attacked two Pakistani military border posts in the country’s northwest. Twenty-four Pakistani troops died and Pakistanis were angered.

Pakistan’s government then closed border crossings that the Western military alliance uses to transport fuel and other supplies to foreign forces in Afghanistan. The government also called on the United States to vacate Shamsi Air Base in Balochistan Province.

Yesterday demonstrators took to streets in the cities of Karachi, Lahore, Peshawar, Quetta, Rawalpindi and Sheikhupura to strongly condemn the NATO attack in the tribal Mohmand Agency of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province.

Pakistanis' anti-U.S. actions
In Karachi, protesters shouted slogans and set fire to portraits of U.S. President Barack Obama and U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

In Lahore, 170 miles (275 kilometers) southeast of the capital Islamabad, lawyers dressed in black suits staged a rally and chanted anti-U.S. slogans.

Since the Thanksgiving incident that left two dozen Pakistani soldiers dead, thousands of people in Pakistan have held protest rallies. Protesters also are calling for the immediate end of the Pakistan’s alliance with the United States “in the so-called war on terrorism.”

Pakistan’s Foreign Minister, Hina Rabbani Khar, reportedly told a Senate committee on foreign affairs, “‘Enough is enough — the government will not tolerate any incident of spilling even a single drop of any civilian or soldier’s blood.’”

Pakistan’s Army Chief General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani said on Thursday that Pakistani troops would counter with full force any attack on the country’s soil.

Not only against Pakistanis
U.S. drone

A people on their knees suffering poverty, drought, disease, want of necessities

The United States has used drones in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Libya, Iraq, and Yemen. “Somalia is the sixth country where the United States has used drones to launch deadly missile strikes. On October 28, the United States admitted to flying the terror aircraft from a base in Ethiopia to carry out attacks in Somalia.”

Displaced Somalis
This morning near the border with Kenya, 24 people died and dozens suffered injuries when “U.S. assassination drones launched aerial attacks on southern Somalia.”

Somali military officer Abdi Hirsi told Press TV the remote-controlled aerial vehicles fired several missiles at Buzar village, which is located close to El Wak city in Somalia's southwestern region of Gedo.  

The aerial attacks came a day after U.S. drones struck Bilis Qooqaani town 278 miles (448 kilometers) southwest of the capital, Mogadishu. Eleven people died and 50 others suffered wounds.

U.S. in Afghanistan
News from [Pakistan’s] Neighboring AFGHANISTAN

Despite thousands of foreign troops, insecurity rises daily across Afghanistan. Civilian casualties already at record levels rose 5 percent in the period June to August 2011. According to the United Nation’s September report, the monthly average in the number of security incidents recorded for the year through the end of August has risen nearly 40 percent. Hundreds of thousands (est. 130,000) of people have been displaced by the conflict in the first seven months of the year, up nearly two-thirds from the same period a year earlier.

Today 19 miles (30 kilometers) south of Afghanistan's capital, Kabul, near the entrance to a NATO military base in the eastern province of Logar, at least 70 civilians suffered injuries, one person died, three government buildings were destroyed when a truck bomb exploded.

Yesterday in Balablok district of Afghanistan’s western province of Farah, “two soldiers serving with the U.S. military” were injured when a roadside bomb exploded. The report said a “vehicle carrying American troops stumbled on the explosive device along a road. … The vehicle was completely destroyed in the attack.”


U.S. Values
“Our wars and national security spending,” Engelhardt recounts, “have drained the U.S. of trillions of dollars in national treasure, leaving behind a country in political gridlock, its economy in a condition “close to ‘shock-and-awe,’ its infrastructure crumbling, and vast majorities of angry citizens convinced that their land is not only ‘on the wrong track,’ but [also] ‘in decline.’”

Related to U.S. foreign relations overall in the region of the Middle East, Engelhardt concludes, “the sole lesson Washington seems capable of absorbing is that its failed policy is the only possible policy.”

This means, among other things, “more ‘incidents,’ more ‘mistakes,’ more ‘accidents,’ more dead, more embittered people vowing vengeance, more investigations, more pleas of self-defense, more condolences, more money draining out of the U.S. treasury, and more destabilization.” Indeed. 

Whether Biden in Iraq in the dead of night or broad daylight or Hillary Clinton in Burma, the words do not match reality or any essence or grain of truth. They strain belief. U.S. citizens may well be blissfully oblivious to the sham and show but ancient countries know better. 

Even without gadgets — people bombed, brutalized, intimidated, their “dictators” leveraged against them, weapons sold to them are trained on them — they break through the rhetoric. They are desperately aware of the United States’ unpardonable failing.

U.S. hegemony 
Arabia to the Horn of Africa
Credibility deficit

Writing in 2006, American University professor and Middle East analyst R.S. Zaharna said, what U.S. officials fail to register “is that no amount of information pumped out by U.S. public diplomacy will be enough to improve the U.S. image.

“The problem, ultimately, is not lack of information but lack of credibility. … Without credibility, no amount of information holds persuasive weight.…

“The region [of the Middle East] and its people have suffered greatly by the U.S. reluctance to engage diplomatically on the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. … Without the active involvement of U.S. traditional diplomacy, U.S. public diplomacy will remain paralyzed by the weight of this conflict, and America’s credibility deficit will only deepen.”


The Middle or Near East consists of the lands around the southern and eastern shores of the Mediterranean Sea. These lands extend from Morocco to the Arabian Peninsula and Iran, sometimes beyond. 


Arming and bankrolling to create domestic and regional pressure • assassination with impunity •    direct aggression • direct/indirect threat/intimidation • displacement/destabilization • economic/financial sanctions • failing nations • failure to negotiate with words or nonviolent diplomacy • provocation/incitement to protracted violence • occupation • unlawful search and detention • torture…

The United States is at WAR with the world’s peoples and their countries —

1.     Afghanistan
2.     Bahrain
3.     Cuba
4.     Djibouti
5.     Eritrea
6.     Ethiopia
7.     Haiti
8.     Honduras
9.     Iran
10.  Iraq
11.  Japan (Okinawa)
12.  Kenya
13.  Libya
14.  Mexico
15.  Nigeria
16.  North Korea
17.  Pakistan
18.  Palestine
19.  Russia
20.  Saudi Arabia
21.  Somalia
22.  South Korea
  1. Syria

24.  Turkey
25.  Uganda [dominoes The Sudan, South Sudan, Central African Republic, Republic of the Congo (Brazzaville), Democratic Republic of the Congo (Kinshasa)]
26.  Yemen

Sources and notes

Middle East Online: “He was 22... She was 12...  Lessons From the Dead in a No-Learning-Curve World” December 2, 2011, http://www.middle-east-online.com/english/?id=49328

Tom Engelhardt, co-founder of the American Empire Project and the author of The American Way of War: How Bush’s Wars Became Obama’s as well as The End of Victory Culture, runs the Nation Institute's TomDispatch.com. His latest book, The United States of Fear (Haymarket Books), has just been published. Copyright © 2011 Tom Engelhardt

“State Dept. Veteran Peter Van Buren Defies U.S. Censors to Recount Failed Reconstruction in Iraq,” November 30, 2011, http://www.democracynow.org/2011/11/30/state_dept_veteran_peter_van_buren

Author of We Meant Well: How I Helped Lose the Battle for the Hearts and Minds of the Iraqi People, Peter Van Buren is currently on administrative leave from the U.S. Department of State, where he has worked for 23 years.


“10 killed, 25 injured in Iraq bombing,” December 1, 2011,  http://www.presstv.ir/detail/213159.html


“Gunmen kill 4 policemen in Pakistan,” December 2, 2011, http://www.presstv.ir/section/3510204.html

“Pakistanis slam NATO cross-border raid,” December 2, 2011, http://www.presstv.ir/detail/213338.html

Press TV Pakistan protest caption: Sunni Tehreek activists set fire to the portraits of US President Barack Obama and US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton as they shout slogans during a demonstration in Karachi, Pakistan, on December 1, 2011.

“Pakistan to retaliate future NATO raids,” December 2, 2011, http://www.presstv.ir/detail/213352.html

Not only Pakistan - SOMALIA

“U.S. terror drones kill 24 in Somalia,” December 2, 2011, http://www.presstv.ir/detail/213360.html


“70 Afghans injured in NATO base blast,” December 2, 2011, http://www.presstv.ir/detail/213346.html

“Two U.S. soldiers injured in Afghanistan,” December 1, 2011, http://www.presstv.ir/detail/213234.html

Press TV caption Afghanistan
A U.S. military vehicle burns after it was hit by a blast in Jalalabad, Afghanistan. (file photo)

Press TV caption soldiers killed
At least 259 US-led soldiers have been killed in Afghanistan so far this year.


“The U.S. Credibility Deficit” (R.S. Zaharna was writing as an American University professor in public communication and Foreign Policy In Focus Middle East analyst; edited by John Feffer), December 13, 2006, http://www.fpif.org/articles/the_us_credibility_deficit

Author of Battles to Bridges: U.S. Strategic Communication and Public Diplomacy after 9/11 (Palgrave-Macmillan, 2010), Dr. Rhonda Zaharna specializes in intercultural and international strategic communication, with an emphasis on culture and communication in the Arab and Islamic regions; and is an American University professor of Public Communication in the School of Communication.

She has taught strategic communication for nearly 20 years and has advised on communication projects for multinational corporations, non-governmental organizations, diplomatic missions, and international organizations, including the United Nations, World Bank, and USAID.  She has also testified before the U.S. Congress and has addressed diplomatic audiences and military personnel in the United States and Europe on cross-cultural communication and public diplomacy.

Her credentials are from Georgetown University (B.S. Foreign Service) and Columbia University (M.Ed. Communication and Ed.D. Communication), http://www.american.edu/soc/faculty/zaharna.cfm


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