USA Today is reporting: “U.S. airstrikes in northern Iraq, which continued Sunday with an attack on a convoy of vehicles operated by Islamic militants, could continue indefinitely to protect refugees and the Kurdish city of Irbil, according to a senior officer who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the operation. However, blunting the momentum of fighters with the group, the Islamic State, the officer said, would require special operators on the ground, a significant escalation that some members of Congress are already warning against.
The Hill reports: “The White House on Monday took new diplomatic steps to force Iraq’s prime minister from power as it looked for ways to stop fighters with the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria from gaining a deeper foothold in the country.”
SAMI RASOULI, in Iraq: sami.rasouli at gmail.com
Rasouli is founder of the Muslim Peacemaker Teams in Iraq. Here is video from a talk Rasouli recently delivered while in the U.S.
MATTHEW HOH, mphoh at ciponline.org
Hoh, now a senior fellow at the Center for International Policy, served with the U.S. Marine Corps in Iraq and on U.S. Embassy teams in both Afghanistan and Iraq He was subsequently appointed Senior Civilian Representative of the U.S. government for Zabul Province in Afghanistan. Five months into his year-long contract in 2009, Hoh resigned and became the highest-ranking U.S. official to publicly renounce U.S. policy in Afghanistan. Hoh was awarded The Ridenhour Prize for Truth-Telling in 2010.
Hoh writes in “Laughing From His Grave“: “If American bombs and bullets were the answer to the civil wars and political disorder in the Muslim world, then the situation would have been resolved in Iraq in 2003. The Obama administration’s surge of nearly 70,000 troops into Afghanistan in 2009 and 2010 would have produced reconciliation among the Afghans and not the bloodshed of the last five years. The American bombs that fell on Libya in 2011 would have created peace rather than the civil war that is still ravaging Libya’s countryside and cities.” Hoh also wrote the piece “Bombs Are Medication for Guilt, Not Peace, in Iraq.”
PETER VAN BUREN, info at wemeantwell.com, @wemeantwell
Van Buren, a 24-year veteran of the State Department, spent a year in Iraq. Following his first book, We Meant Well: How I Helped Lose the Battle for the Hearts and Minds of the Iraqi People, the Department of State began proceedings against him. The book, published in 2011, called out the State Department for failing to reduce the root problems in Iraq, both the Sunni-Shia tribal/political/religious divides as well as the failed civil and municipal infrastructures that underlay widespread discontent with the Iraqi government. Instead of reviewing Van Buren’s arguments, the State Department sought to prosecute him as a whistleblower, until the intercession of the Government Accountability Project and the ACLU allowed Van Buren to depart his 24 years of government service on his own terms.
He wrote the piece “Why Air Strikes in Iraq Are a Mistake,” in “the Dissenter” blog at Firedoglake, which stresses the need to “Understand how deep the U.S. is already in. It is highly likely that U.S. Special Forces are active on the ground, conducting reconnaissance missions and laser-designating targets for circling U.S. aircraft. If U.S. planes are overhead, U.S. search and rescue assets are not far away, perhaps in desert forward operating positions. This is how bigger wars begin. Go Google ‘Vietnam War,’ say starting about 1963.
“The U.S. media is playing the meme that the U.S. is worried about Christian minority in Iraq, as a way to engorge the American people with blood. But the media fails to note that over half of Iraq’s Christians were killed or fled during the U.S. occupation. … Separating the people from the insurgents is CounterInsurgency 101. Instead, via airstrikes, the U.S. has gone all-in on side of Iraqi Shias and Kurds. You cannot bomb away a political movement. You cannot kill an idea that motivates millions of people with a Hellfire missile.”
VIJAY PRASHAD, Vijay.Prashad@trincoll.edu
Prashad is chair of South Asian history and professor of international studies at Trinity College in Hartford. His books include Arab Spring, Libyan Winter. He is putting out information regularly, including from sources on the ground, via his Twitter feed: @vijayprashad
Prashad just wrote “Metastasis of the Islamic State,” which states: “Jordan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Turkey (the anti-Assad powers) refuse to join a united front with Iran, Iraq and Syria to tackle the IS threat. With absent coordination, IS will continue to thrive. None of the anti-Assad powers have come to terms with the reality that the Syrian civil war is now a cesspool of instability that will not end with any good outcome.”