Image via https://www.facebook.com/JulietteKayyem
Candidate for Governor of Massachusetts
From Wendy Davis’ FB page. READY FOR CHANGE.
The Iraq War was one of the longest, most expensive and controversial in our history. It cost the lives of some 4,500 Americans, at least 135,000 Iraqis (some estimates range significantly higher) and, over the long term, more than $2 trillion to drive Saddam Hussein from power and use military means to “stand up” a replacement.
For most Americans, Iraq disappeared from sight and mind once the last U.S. combat troops left two years ago this month. The Gallup Poll has stopped regularly asking about it. President Barack Obama rarely speaks of it. The visit last month of Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki caused barely a ripple in the current of cable news.
Yet in some ways, Iraq is more important than ever. If it falls apart — if it becomes the al-Qaeda global base it never was before (Dick Cheney’s dark fantasies of 2002 notwithstanding) — the result could dash hopes for a semblance of peace and stability in an oil-rich region stretching from Turkey to the Arabian Sea.
We aren’t stuck in Iraq anymore. But we are stuck with Iraq.
That means, among other things, executing an all-too-familiar, shopworn power move: pushing “our” autocratic strongman toward democracy (usually by threatening to withhold arms), but not leaning so hard that his government and society collapse.
“We support additional arms for Iraq,” the State Department official said. Just not all of them right away.
When Maliki came to Washington last month with a military hardware list a mile long, he got the good cop/bad cop treatment from President Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and key foreign policy and defense leaders on Capitol Hill.
Biden, the administration’s designated lead player on Iraq, supports the full roster of arms sales, but in a scathing letter to Obama before Maliki’s arrival, a bipartisan group of Senate leaders, including Sens. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) and Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), decried the violence and repression they said had resulted from Maliki’s rule. The president played Solomon in the middle.
So, yes, Maliki could buy (or be given money to buy) more Hellfire missiles, and yes, the previously approved sale of F-16s would go forward, but no, he could not — for now — get what he really wanted, which was a brace of Boeing-made Apache attack helicopters. (Biden supports selling the helicopters to Maliki.)
Apaches, hovering battleships bristling with ammo, were and remain a potent symbol of counter-terrorism military muscle. Iraq hired as its first postwar paid lobbyists in Washington the Podesta Group, which, perhaps not coincidentally, has done work for Boeing and is known for its ties to the Obama administration.
The Iraqis are also hedging their bets (and strengthening their bargaining position) by talking to the Russians about the purchase of Russian helicopter gunships.
What does Iraq have to do to get the Apaches (which the country doesn’t yet have the military sophistication to use anyway)?
Simple. Iraq must master, or at least contain, religious and ethnic conflicts that have raged in the Middle East for millennia. After all, if the country can’t do that, no one else can — and someone must.
Those conflicts have flared into the worst violence Iraq has seen since 2008, pitting the Shia-led government and its sectarian allies against Sunni insurgents and Kurdish separatists.
Police in Texas may now obtain a search warrant based on “a prediction of a future crime,” according to a dissenting judge on the state’s criminal appeals court.
The ruling by the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals came last week, ending a controversial case in which police searched a house before obtaining a warrant but were still able to present the confiscated evidence during a trial.
This is bullshit because now they can think a crime will take place when ever and use it to what they want.