The heroes of Iraq and Afghanistan that you never hear about.
Monday, May 05, 2014
Security Concerns for Iraq's Oil Infrastructure
The official involved in this collaboration is deputy prime minister Hussein al-Shahristani, who has announced that foreign troops will help acquire oil equipment. Moreover, he said that these troops will protect pipelines in the north, which have reportedly been under terrorist attacks and oil installation in the area was delayed for this reason. After a period of growth, export levels diminished last year, the official cause for this being unfavorable weather conditions and improper maintenance. There have even been reports of bombing in the northern region and pomping was stopped. The aim of the agreement between Iraq and the USA is to protect these pipelines from similar attacks and also to ensure that they benefit from proper maintenance and safety of transport. In his speech, Hussein al-Shahristani stated that foreign troops will not be involved in the development of security plans.
Iraqi authorities have also announced earlier this year that they will take measures against the Kurd and Turk companies who have taken oil out of the country without the Iraq's authorization. The situation is definitely tense in the area, and the oil and gas industry will probably suffer even more changes in 2014. So far, this information is not readily available everywhere and those who want to stay up to date with everything that is happening will need more than the local daily news report. Fortunately, there are several online portals that offer daily information about the state of events in the oil industry, not only in key regions such as Iraq, but also around the world.
The situation is prone to social and political bias, which is why it is important to read the news from an objective news website. While not all sources might present inaccurate information, many will choose to omit some sides of the story, so you should keep that in mind when choosing your news portal. The conflict between the Kurds and the Iraqi officials is definitely one of the highlights in the Middle East and those who are interested in these events should definitely read daily updates. There are many sources of information online and apart from traditional news websites you can also find several blogs and specialized portals. Groshan Fabiola
Friday, January 17, 2014
How Accurate Is Your Memory on Iraq Weapons of Mass Destruction?
The above is a quote taken from the Psychological Science research study of March 2005  "Memory for Fact, Fiction, and Misinformation" Vol. 16, No. 3.
The study also determined "Once information is published, its subsequent correction does not alter people's beliefs unless they are suspicious about the motives underlying the events the news stories are about."
This study confirmed what the majority of US voters have hopefully been able to determine on their own which is the more we hear something on the news, the more likely we are to believe the statement is true, whether what we are hearing is fact or fiction.
Such is the case with weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. Over and over again the public was advised by President Bush and V.P. Cheney that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction that could be used against the United States and the only way to eliminate the threat was for the U.S. to destroy the WMD's.
The Senate Select Committee on Intelligence released their bipartisan report titled "POSTWAR FINDINGS ABOUT IRAQ'S WMD PROGRAMS AND LINKS TO TERRORISM AND HOW THEY COMPARE WITH PREWAR ASSESSMENTS" on September 8, 2006.
This report was prepared by the 109th Congress, when Republicans held the majority in both the House and the Senate.
The SSCI committee members consisted of the following (8) Republicans - Pat Roberts, Chairman, Orrin Hatch, Mike DeWine, Christopher Bond, Trent Lott, Olympia Snowe, Chuck Hagel and Chambliss Saxby and (7) Democrats - John Rockefeller, Vice Chairman, Carl Levin, Dianne Feinstein, Ron Wyden, Evan Bayh, Barbara Mikulski and Russ Feingold, along with three ex offico's; Bill Frist, Harry Reid, and John Warner. Senate Majority and Minority Leaders, as well as the Chairman and Ranking Member of the Armed Services Committee serve as ex officio SSCI members.
The report listed the following conclusions on Iraq WMD's:
Conclusion 1: Postwar findings do not support the 2002 National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) judgment that Iraq was reconstituting its nuclear weapons program. Information obtained after the war supports the State Department's Bureau of Intelligence and Research's (INR) assessment in the NIE that the Intelligence Community lacked persuasive evidence that Baghdad had launched a coherent effort to reconstitute its nuclear weapons program.
Conclusion 2: Postwar findings do not support the 2002 National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) assessment that Iraq's acquisition of high-strength aluminum tubes was intended for an Iraqi nuclear program. The findings do support the assessments in the NIE of the Department of Energy's Office of Intelligence and the State Department's Bureau of Intelligence and Research (INR) that the aluminum tubes were likely intended for a conventional rocket program.
Conclusion 3: Postwar findings to not support the 2002 National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) assessment that Iraq was "vigorously trying to procure uranium ore and yellowcake" from Africa. Postwar findings support the assessment in the NIE of the State Department's Bureau of Intelligence and Research (INR) that claims of Iraqi pursuit of natural uranium in Africa are "highly dubious."
Conclusion 4: Postwar findings do not support the 2002 National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) assessment that "Iraq has biological weapons" and that "all key aspects of Iraq's offensive biological weapons (BW) program are larger and more advanced than before the Gulf war."
Conclusion 5: Postwar findings do not support the 2002 National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) assessment that Iraq possessed, or ever developed, mobile facilities for producing biological warfare (BW) agents.
Conclusion 6: Concerns existed within the Central Intelligence Agency's (CIUA) Directorate of Operations (DO) prior to the war about the credibility of the mobile biological weapons program source code-named CURVE BALL. The concerns were based, in part, on doubts raised by the foreign intelligence service that handled CURVE BALL and a third service. The Committee has no information that these concerns were conveyed to policymakers, including members of the U.S. Congress, prior to the war. The Committee is continuing to investigate issues regarding prewar concerns about CURVE BALL'S credibility.
Conclusion 7: Postwar findings do not support the 2002 National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) assessments that Iraq "has chemical weapons" or "is expanding its chemical industry to support chemical weapons (CW) production."
Conclusion 8: Postwar findings support the 2002 National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) assessment that Iraq had missiles which exceeded United Nation (UN) range limits. The findings do not support the assessment that Iraq likely retained a covert force of SCUD variant short range ballistic missiles (SRBMs).
Conclusion 9: Postwar findings do not support the 2002 National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) assessments that Iraq had a developmental program for an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) "probably intended to deliver biological agents" or that an effort to procure U.S. mapping software "strongly suggests that Iraq is investing the use of these UAV's for missions targeting the United States." Postwar findings support the view of the Air Force, joined by DIA and the Army, in an NIE published in January 2003 that Iraq's UAV's were primarily intended for reconnaissance.
Information on threats to the United States is now provided to our leaders by one or more of the following agencies within the Intelligence Community:
- · Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI)
- · Central Intelligence Agency (CIA)
- · National Security Agency (NSA)
- · Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA)
- · National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA)
- · National Reconnaissance Office (NRO)
The rush to judgment on Iraq has cost this country dearly. Thousands of U.S. troops lost their lives fighting in Iraq [4,423], while tens of thousands were wounded [31,942]. Spouses and children were left to fend on their own while our troops went charging off into the sunset to attack a country that we had no business being in, much less attacking. Billions of dollars [$616 billion through June of 2008] of our tax dollars have been spent on military actions in Iraq that could and should have been spent in this country updating our crumbling infrastructure.
CRS prepared a report in June of 2008 [RS22926] indicating current year costs as well as constant dollars.
A cursory review of the numbers will indicate that as of June 2008 we had already spent more in Iraq, than what the other five conflicts cost combined.
Many other countries around the world assisted us in our fight against WMD's and hundreds of their troops were killed and/or wounded as well. If you add the hundreds of thousands of civilians that were killed and/or maimed in Iraq and the losses that country took at our hands, the numbers are astronomical.
Was it worth it?
© 2014 Patricia L Johnson
Patricia L Johnson is a former special assignment writer/photographer and co-owner of the Articles and Answers News and Infomation sites. You may read more by this author at http://www.articlesandanswers2011.wordpress.com
Sunday, June 30, 2013
10 Years After the 2003 Iraq Invasion: Mission Accomplished?
The cost of the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars appears to be headed toward about $4-$5 trillion in total expenditures once all is said and done, if we include to the $1.41 trillion spent to date the equivalent interest payments on the massive amounts borrowed and supplemented to the deficit by the Bush administration, and the 50-60 years of Afghan/Iraq's 2.8 million veterans reaching a projected 40% permanent disability levels.
This is slightly higher than the cost range for World War II and a very far cry from the $4-$5 billion incurred by the Afghan field operations in Oct-Dec 2001. If the Bush administration had not passed on the opportunities presented to eliminate Mullah Omar, Osama bin Laden, and Ayman al-Zawahiri just a few months after September 11, the war would had been brought to swift conclusion with the decimation of al-Qaeda.
But even that considerably smaller figure was still much less than it would have cost the Bush administration to simply pay attention to the flood of warnings pouring into Washington from foreign intelligence agencies, our own CIA, and from FBI field operatives, during the spring and summer that preceded the 9/11 attacks, and preventively order commercial airline cockpit doors to be locked in flight, just as the Israelis had been doing for the previous 30 years.
Such a little step of applying commercial airline cockpit doors - appropriate in light of the circumstances - would have saved the lives of the nearly 3,000 killed in New York, Washington, and Pennsylvania. A serious investigation into the tragedy was prevented by the terms of the Bush administration's Victims Compensation Fund, which used US taxpayer money to pay an average of $1.8 million to each of the 9/11 victim families willing to sign an agreement not to sue, and thus force disclosure of the extensive negligence and security breaches that led to the tragic 9/11 events.
So, what did the paths taken instead accomplish? The Taliban returned to Afghanistan; they never were a threat to the US anyway, having several times attempted to turn Osama bin Laden over to the US. Yet, our government managed to turn two wars over to al-Qaeda, instead of just the one Osama bin Laden had been trying to get since 1996 with the purpose of draining the US economy. This greatly helped the terrorist organization accelerate the realization of its loudly stated goal of harming the US financially.
Iraq, of course, has now a new strongman leader - Shia instead of the secular Sunni, who had once provided Iraq's people free medical care and education through the university level, as well as religious tolerance, and rights for women. Now that the US is gone, the new Iraq leaders have been busy strengthening their ties with Iran and contracting to sell most of their oil to China. That would never had happened under Saddam.
All these non-accomplishments in both wars came at the price of nearly 7,000 US Service Personnel dead. In Iraq, there were somewhere between 120,000 to 1,000,000 dead and more than 3 million newly minted orphans since 2003. Civilians, who were previously minding their every day lives, since they have nothing else to lose when their home got destroyed and family killed, turned into insurgents fighting the American soldiers.
As the Vice-President of Iraq asked, rhetorically, in the opening days of the Iraq war, 'What is George Bush trying to do, create an entire generation of terrorists?'
Some say about Bush that 'He kept us safe'.
What planet have these seceded to - Delusionus?
Well, at least, a lot of people in the 6 counties surrounding Washington D.C. got rich beneficiaries of one of the most corrupt administrations in US history.
The Iraq War of 2003 encapsulates much of what has gone wrong with aggressive neo-conservative foreign policies. Its lessons are made most clear within the perspectives of the philosophers of War, particularly Sun Tzu and America's own Colonel John Boyd, which provide a sharp aid in understanding the Bush administration's unfortunate choices.
If we fail to learn from such mistakes, it is likely our $1.2 trillion/year military will become increasingly vulnerable to the asymmetric defenses of hegemons. China, our nearest military competitor with a $140 billion/year defense budget, chooses to put most of its money into developing its economy, and plans to deal with our aggressive $6 billion super carriers using relatively inexpensive anti-ship ballistic missiles.
Combining this position with our increasingly hollowed out economy - 'free trade' they call it, having no historical memory that the same thing doomed the British Empire a hundred years ago - and the replay of another Iraq-type Middle-Eastern scenario (as Lt. Gen. Paul Van Riper demonstrated during Operation Millennium Challenge) is the sort of thing that brings down a great power.
To move forward we must look back and re-examine, because as Winston Churchill said, 'those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it'. What really led to the Iraq War, and what exactly happened behind the political scenes? The "Iraq War 2003 - What Really Happened Behind the Political Scenes" by Charles Edmund Coyote, a new Amazon best seller in the Iraq war history is the untold entire story on the greatest blunder in American history.
http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00BIL0BW2/. With over 600 references, it brings together all the events from the Iraq-Iran War & the WMDs given to Saddam Hussein to the intelligence warnings before 9/11 & the escape of Osama bin Laden in 2001. See author's political blog and commentaries http://www.thecoyotereport.com/iraq-war-book/
By Charles Edmund Coyote
Thursday, June 06, 2013
The US-Iraq War of 2003 and the Principle of a Just War
However, recent events have come to show that the US might have bitten off more than it could chew as the bill on expenses for war skyrocketed as well as the towering number of Coalition soldiers as casualties to which Iraqi guerrilla forces were responsible for. A political vacuum was ongoing for the vacant position of head of state of the new government being set up by the US. Above all, the validity of their "justified" war lies in question.
According to Conway Henderson, author of "International Relations: Conflict and Cooperation at the Turn of the 21st Century", a just war is one in which force is utilized in light of moral grounds and means. It is fought multilaterally, with a group of states terminating aggression and providing assistance for the good of all, regardless of their immediate national interests are at stake. Henderson enumerated the guiding principles pertaining to a just war and is used below to assess the nature of the US-led invasion to Iraq:
The cause must be just. Also known as "Operation Iraqi Freedom", the war in Iraq in 2003 was waged by the US to force the considered cradle of civilization to surrender its WMDs. Aside from that aim, the US also targeted to "democratize" Iraq, thereby liberating it from the 25-year rule of an Iraqi despot which is Saddam Hussein.
It can be recalled that during the Persian Gulf War of 1991, the United Nations witnessed the Iraqi acceptance of a ceasefire agreement, the latter accepting to pay war damages to Kuwait and agreeing to the destruction of its biological and chemical weapons. UN inspectors were later assigned to supervise the destruction of the aforementioned WMDs. The international organization carried on its sanctions against Iraq to ensure that it complied with the truce. However, it resisted to act in accordance with the terms of the accord. In 1999, the UN suspected that Saddam Hussein had biological and chemical materials to produce lethal weapons. Three years later, Iraq was called to report how the WMDs were destroyed. Then again, the suspect showed no evidence that the materials have been destroyed.
Iraq has long been under the government of Saddam Hussein. Reports show that he is a brutal tyrant on the world scene for many years. He has employed chemical weapons on his own people as well as others like the Kurds. Hussein also invaded Kuwait over a decade ago and when driven out by the US forces, he set fire on oil fields, not only destroying natural resources but also carrying one of the worst environmental disasters in many years. This goes to show that Hussein has no regard for human life and liberty.
A lawful authority must decide to use force. The United States is a legitimate authority that is responsible for protecting its citizens and interests worldwide. US President George W. Bush has the constitutional authority and responsibility to protect his country even if it means the use of military force.
The United Nations, on the other hand, is a lawful international body, responsible for the maintenance of international peace and security. Nevertheless, its authority and relevance was questioned when the US purportedly circumvented it by invading Iraq. The US unilateral military action was apparently sidestepping the principles of the UN Charter, leaving the UN Security Council divided into a war camp - United States, United Kingdom, and Spain - and an opposition camp - Germany, France, Russia, and China, with eight other members backing neither camps. It was reported that the UN Secretary General Kofi Annan commented that the decision of the US to wage war is distressing for himself who believes in collective action.
The use of force must be a final resort. It can be evoked that in the ceasefire agreement of the Persian Gulf War of 1991, Iraq was given enough time to destroy its WMDs, mindful of the latter's potential hazard to humanity. Its failure was brought up and served as a reason in giving Saddam Hussein an ultimatum to disarm during the first quarter of 2003. Nevertheless, the suspect failed to act accordingly, and together with the debacle on negotiations, war became the remaining resort to solve the case.
Proportionality must be offered by the war. The United States was successful in toppling the Iraqi dictator. Saddam Hussein was captured in the last quarter of 2003. Nevertheless, the Coalition Forces' casualties continue to escalate as the ward continues. Coalition troops now face a guerrilla war conducted by the members of the Iraqi Republican Guard and the Saddam Feyadeen who escaped the "Invasion Phase" to fight another day in another way. Moreover, the fund required in rebuilding Iraq went sky-high, hence, the US had to seek financial assistance from other developed countries. Above all, no WMDs have been reported to have surrendered.
The war must carry out at least a probability of success. "Operation Iraqi Freedom" may be considered unsuccessful. The recognized leader of Iraq may have lost power. The "democratization" process may also be coming to light, with the installation of a democratic government together with the reconstruction of war-torn Iraqi society going on. However, the war in Iraq is not successful because the US was unable to prove to the global public that Iraq possessed WMDs. Furthermore, the Coalition Forces' casualties continue to rise, with over 500 soldiers dead.
Methods of war must minimize damage to non-combatants. The use of modern weapons by the Coalition Forces such as warplanes, tanks, cannons, and bombs targeted Iraqi installations like airports, communication facilities, bridges, and ammunition warehouses. Nevertheless, civilian areas were spared although casualties were found to be unavoidable.
The Iraq War of 2003, sadly, cannot be considered a "just war". Despite meeting some of the terms relating to its principles, the Iraq War was not carried out multilaterally and in confluence with the UN Charter's principle of collective security, since the UN Security Council was in a debacle over the issue of the United States leading the invasion. (Sheena Ricarte, Peace Education class, De La Salle-College of Saint Benilde, 2004). By Sheena B Ricarte
Wednesday, March 10, 2010
Is Iraq On the Brink of Civil War?
"Do I think there could be a return to civil war?" asks Feisal al-Istrabadi, Iraq's former UN ambassador. "I do."
The possibility of new violence in Iraq, coming on the eve of the withdrawal of tens of thousands of U.S. troops by August, has alarmed the Obama administration. At the White House, at the U.S. military's Central Command and at the American Embassy in Baghdad, officials are worried. "Tony Blinken was off the charts," says Brian Katulis, a senior fellow and Iraq specialist at the Center for American Progress (CAP), referring to the top aide to Vice President Joseph Biden, who has taken charge of American policy in Iraq since last summer. Another insider, who recently visited Baghdad for talks with U.S. military and diplomatic officials and who requested anonymity, says Gen. Ray Odierno and the military command think President Obama may have to reconsider the U.S. withdrawal timetable. "People in the administration that I talk to say Iraq is way too important for the United States to allow it to implode," he says.
Just a year ago, it seemed as if Iraq was muddling through. The January 2009 provincial elections, widely seen as a dry run for this year's more important vote to choose a new national government, boosted the fortunes of secular and nationalist parties and delivered what many analysts saw as a near knockout blow to the turbaned religious parties, especially the Iranian-backed Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq (ISCI), which lost big. Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki, disguising his origins as a leader of the secretive Shiite Dawa Party, won strong support last year while campaigning as a born-again nationalist atop a new coalition that he called State of Law. After the provincial elections, Maliki even began to explore the possibility of an alliance with representatives of the mostly Sunni secular opposition, including Saleh al-Mutlaq, who leads the National Dialogue Front, and with nonsectarian politicians such as former Prime Minister Iyad Allawi.
That was then. Starting last spring, at the urging of top officials in Iran -- including Ali Larijani, the conservative, Iraqi-born speaker of the Iranian Parliament, and Brig. Gen. Qassem Suleimani, commander of the Quds Force of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps -- a group of sectarian Shiite religious leaders patched over their differences to establish the Iraqi National Alliance (INA), linking ISCI with the forces of rogue cleric Muqtada al-Sadr; former Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari of a renegade Dawa faction; and Ahmad Chalabi, the former darling of U.S. neoconservatives, who has long maintained close ties to Iran's hardliners.
The creation of the INA was widely seen, inside and outside Iraq, as an Iranian project. Reidar Visser, a close observer of Iraqi affairs at the Norwegian Institute of International Affairs, says efforts to rebuild the Shiite sectarian alliance began last spring, after a visit to Baghdad by Larijani. Soon afterward, a stream of Iraqi officials made pilgrimages to Tehran, where a deal between the Hakim family (the founders of ISCI) and Sadr was brokered by Iran. "Part of the Iranian strategy has been to put politics in Iraq back on the sectarian track," says Visser. Both Iran and the new Shiite alliance pressured Maliki to join, but at that time the prime minister felt strong enough to run independently.
Then, this past January 14, Iraq's electoral overseers ratified a decision by the so-called Accountability and Justice Commission, an unelected body controlled by Chalabi and one of his cronies, Ali al-Lami, to ban more than 500 candidates for Parliament. They were barred from running, said the commission, on vague charges of ties to the deposed Baath Party. Among those banned were current members of Parliament and Iraqi officials, including Defense Minister Abdul-Kader Jassem al-Obeidi and Mutlaq, who'd joined forces with Allawi. The commission's action was a bomb thrown into the center of Iraqi politics and sparked talk of a boycott and even a new antigovernment insurgency.
Lami, the architect of the purge, has a shady past. In August 2008 he was arrested by U.S. forces in Iraq and held for more than a year because of his involvement with a violent Shiite underground movement called the League of the Righteous. The League, which is believed to enjoy covert backing from Iran's Quds Force, has been responsible for a series of high-profile killings and kidnappings. Recently several of the League's other leaders, including founder Qais al-Khazali and his brother Laith, were also released from custody, and at least one of them fled to Iran. Although the Khazali brothers flirted with abandoning violence and becoming a political party, on January 23 the Khazalis' League took responsibility for the kidnapping of an American contractor.
"The country will go into severe turmoil, I'm sure," said Allawi, after the banning was confirmed by Iraq's electoral commission. "This will put Iraq in the box of sectarianism and the route to civil war."
That Iraq is once again on the brink of civil conflict is the legacy of unresolved differences that linger in the uneasy calm that has prevailed since late 2007. Among those conflicts are the simmering dispute over the borders of the semiautonomous Kurdish region in Iraq's north; the status of Kirkuk and its oil industry, which is claimed by both the Kurds and the central government; and constitutional and legal disputes about federal versus provincial powers, including how to divvy up Iraq's oil export revenue. But perhaps the bitterest dispute of all is a tangle of issues that involve the disenfranchised Sunni Arab minority, tensions between Sunni and Shiite leaders, and the problem of how to reintegrate those who were part of Iraq's Baathist past. It's the last issue that was stirred up by the Chalabi-inspired ban.
The momentum of last year's provincial elections raised the hopes of all Iraqis who looked forward to a future in which Sunnis, Shiites and Kurds would run as Iraqis, divided not along ethnic and sectarian lines but according to political differences. To capitalize on that sentiment, a number of new parties and politicians have put down roots in advance of the 2010 election. Among them are the Iraq Unity party, formed by Jawad al-Bolani, the secular Shiite minister of the interior, and Ahmad Abu Risha, whose slain brother founded the Sunni-led Awakening movement, which brought thousands of former insurgents into politics; the Ahrar (Liberal) party, founded by Iyad Jamal Aldin, a Shiite cleric who is a fierce advocate for secularism and who is strongly opposed to Iran's influence in Iraq; and the National Unity Front, led by Aiham al-Samaraie, the former minister of electricity. All of these parties were intimidated or otherwise adversely affected by the anti-Baathist witch hunt launched by the commission. "I can't have my future depend on something that appears in the brain of Ahmad Chalabi," says al-Samaraie. "They are trying to clean up anyone they don't want to see in the next Parliament."
But the party hit hardest by the ban was the Iraqi Nationalist Movement, a big coalition led by Allawi, Mutlaq, Vice President Tariq al-Hashemi and a group of Sunni and Shiite secularists who hoped to capitalize on voter disenchantment with the sectarianism and religious fundamentalism of ISCI, Dawa and the Sadrists. According to Istrabadi, former ambassador to the UN, private polls taken by the American and British embassies indicate that the Allawi-Mutlaq bloc might do well enough at the polls to make Allawi prime minister. "That alliance has a credible path to power," says Ali Allawi, a former Iraqi defense minister and a cousin of Iyad Allawi. "It's well funded, and it's based on a bedrock of Sunni support."
The most credible hypothesis is that officials in Tehran and leaders of the Shiite alliance in Iraq panicked over the possibility that the Allawi-Mutlaq party might actually win. "I think Ahmad [Chalabi] and the boys started to run scared," Istrabadi says.
Prime Minister Maliki, who might have played the statesman and urged a compromise, shocked Iraq's political establishment by siding aggressively with the Iran-backed coalition. When the ban was announced, U.S. officials moved quickly to use their influence to reverse it. Gen. David Petraeus, the Centcom commander, warned bluntly that Chalabi and Lami had "hijack[ed] the [commission] without having been confirmed as the leadership of it and being manipulated by, reportedly, the Iranian Quds force." Vice President Biden flew hurriedly to Baghdad to urge a reversal of the ban, and after his visit an Iraqi appeals court seemed to take his advice, overruling the Chalabi-Lami commission and Iraq's election board. After the appeals court ruling, U.S. officials congratulated themselves. "We were heartened by the decision earlier this week to reverse the deletion of the 500 names from the election lists for the upcoming election," said Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on February 5.
But not so fast. Following the court's decision, Maliki demanded that the appeals court decision be overruled. Ali al-Dabbagh, one of Maliki's closest aides, called the lifting of the ban "illegal and not constitutional." Another of Maliki's aides called for the expulsion of U.S. ambassador Christopher Hill, who reportedly lobbied behind the scenes to get the ban lifted. And, in an unusual breach of diplomatic protocol, Maliki himself blasted Hill. "We will not allow American ambassador Christopher Hill to go beyond his diplomatic mission," said Maliki. He began working with leaders of his coalition, members of Parliament and the top court to ensure that the Chalabi-imposed ban remain.
The Chalabi bombshell, despite the shock it engendered, wasn't a complete surprise. Since last summer, Maliki and the Shiite alliance, the INA, have been working hard to scare Iraqis about the alleged danger of a comeback by Saddamists. Few, if any, of the opposition candidates are Saddam loyalists, and most of them who did once belong to the Baath Party, including Allawi and Mutlaq, quit or were expelled decades ago. But Maliki and the INA are trying to stampede Shiite voters, who make up more than half the Iraqi electorate, into staying away from the nonsectarian parties, even the ones led by Shiites such as Allawi, Interior Minister Bolani and Jamal Aldin.
"One of the things that Chalabi and the de-Baathification committee are trying to do is to equate secularists and nationalists with Baathists," suggests Istrabadi. "Has he succeeded? We don't know yet."
At stake is the vote of what might be called the Shiite "silent majority." Nearly all Kurds will vote for the Kurdish alliance in Iraq's north, giving the Kurdish parties about 20 percent of the seats in the 325-member Parliament. And the vast majority of Sunni voters are guaranteed to vote for one of the Sunni-led parties or for secularists like Allawi. So Maliki and the INA are competing for the Shiite vote. And Iraq analysts say there is probably a big chunk of Shiite voters--especially among the middle class, the educated elite, shopkeepers and capital-intensive farmers in the south--who aren't happy with the religious parties and who blame Maliki for his failure to improve the economy or deliver services. Like the McCarthyite Republicans of the 1950s, who tried to tar liberals and leftists with charges of sympathy for communism, Maliki has apparently decided that scaring his base with the fear of a Baathist comeback is his best option.
Until this past August, Maliki had hoped to base his re-election campaign on a carefully cultivated strongman image, trumpeting the idea that his U.S.-trained security forces had defeated militias and terrorists. "His political strategy was to go for the Schwarzenegger image," says Charles Ries of the RAND Corporation, an ex-ambassador who served in the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad. But a series of devastating car- and truck-bomb attacks that leveled huge portions of downtown Baghdad in August, October and January, destroying the foreign ministry, the finance ministry and other government landmarks, demolished Maliki's credibility as a security candidate.
Maliki's problem now is that even if he manages to do well in the election -- in part by taking advantage of his ability to use state funds, the media and even the Iraqi armed forces on his behalf -- neither he nor the INA will be able to claim legitimacy if the vote is marred by bans, purges and a Sunni boycott. Like President Ahmadinejad in Iran and President Karzai in Afghanistan, both suffering after fraud-stained elections, a Maliki-INA-Kurdish alliance ruling Iraq again would be unstable at best. "I don't have any doubt that if Maliki is willing to kiss and make up with the [INA] and do a devil's deal with the Kurds, then he can form a government," says David Mack, a retired U.S. Foreign Service officer who served twice in Iraq. "But it will be an unstable one, because it doesn't do anything to heal the rift between the Shia religious parties and the Sunni and Shia secular groups."
And if another lethal insurgency erupts, pitting Sunnis, dissidents, Baathists and even a revived Al Qaeda in Iraq against the government, countrywide violence could draw Iran, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and others into the fight. After all, Iran is not the only country backing allies in Iraqi politics; Saudi Arabia, Jordan and the Gulf states are, on a smaller scale, backing Allawi and various Sunni candidates, an Iraqi source reports. "The Saudis don't operate directly," he says. "They operate through a route of deniability, using Lebanese businessmen, environmental charities, an assortment of princes and so on."
At its core, the crisis in Iraq is also a struggle between Iran and the United States for influence in Iraq and across the oil-rich Persian Gulf. As the United States withdraws its forces, and as Iran builds up political, military and economic influence, Iraq will likely be pulled into Iran's orbit. "It's almost like watching gravity work," says CAP's Brian Katulis. Barring the outbreak of civil war, the most likely outcome of a rigged election in Iraq would look very much like the coalition that governs Iraq today, but it would be even more closely aligned with Tehran. "I think we'll see an increasingly authoritarian regime with close ties to Iran," says Visser.
As the deadline for pulling U.S. forces out of Iraq gets closer, American influence is likely to wane. The fact that Biden, Petraeus, Odierno and Hill couldn't persuade Maliki to reverse the Chalabi-imposed ban is a sign that the United States is no longer calling the shots in Baghdad. In fact, there is rising awareness in Washington about the inevitability of Iran's growing power in Iraq, coupled with the realization that there is little or nothing the United States can do to reverse it.
Many of the Iraqi politicians opposed to the Shiite-Iranian alliance in Iraq want the United States to halt its withdrawal and throw its weight behind them, if only to checkmate Iranian influence. So far, at least, there is little sign of that. During Allawi's last visit to Washington, well-connected friends tried to get him an appointment at the White House with Denis McDonough, one of Obama's top advisers at the National Security Council, but the White House rebuffed Allawi. "I told them, 'You're dissing the man who could be Iraq's next prime minister,'" says Kenneth Pollack, director of the Saban Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution.
Obama, most recently in his State of the Union address, pledged once again that U.S. forces in Iraq, now at 98,000, would fall to 50,000 by August, and that all American troops would leave Iraq. Among other things, the Pentagon needs those troops for its growing presence in Afghanistan. That provides an even greater incentive for a U.S.-Iranian accord that would extend beyond the dispute over Tehran's nuclear program to include Iraq, Afghanistan and terrorism. But the Iranians, who are expert chess players, know that their ability to make things in Iraq better -- or worse -- for the United States gives them important leverage over Washington. Having few moves to make, Obama has no choice but to follow through on the U.S. commitment to get out of Iraq.
Robert Dreyfuss is the author of "Devil's Game: How the United States Helped Unleash Fundamentalist Islam" (Henry Holt/Metropolitan Books)
Monday, March 01, 2010
Spotted on Biden's Palm - "Iraq War Bad, Afghanistan War Good"
Admittedly, one would have expected subjects such as Energy, Tax Cuts, and Lift American Spirits to be top-of-mind for Palin, who has consistently and admirably embodied these stances throughout her career, including her 2008 vice-presidential run.
What the MSM did not explain was how Obama's ubiquitous reliance on his TelePrompTer, including at a recent pep talk with sixth-graders in Falls Church, Virginia, somehow reflected a greater skill at extemporizing or a more masterful command of facts on his part.
The Associated Press chided Palin for relying on a memory aid after having mocked Obama's use of his TelePrompTer. It's true: Palin did jot down a few notes to help her stay focused during her 40-minute Tea Party Convention keynote address, the second-most important speech of her career. Was Obama's five-minute chat with 11-year-olds at Graham Road Elementary School so important to his legacy that it required twin, six-foot-tall TelePrompTer monitors to help him get every word right?
Meanwhile, Joe "Gaffe-tastic" Biden has continued to demonstrate his propensity for committing more blunders in any given week than Palin has made in her entire life. Appearing on Larry King last week, Biden stated that the Iraq War "could be one of the great achievements of this administration."
This is the same Iraq War, you'll recall: (a) that Obama voted against, (b) that Biden voted for but later turned against, and (c) whose troop surge Obama and Biden voted against and denounced throughout 2008, even after it had demonstrably worked. In 2007, Biden condemned General David Petraeus as "dead flat wrong" for wanting to go through with the surge rather than immediately withdrawing our soldiers and partitioning Iraq into three ethnic regions.
It would be one thing if circumstances had improved dramatically in Iraq since Obama took office, and the administration had acted quickly to remove troops ahead of schedule, thus saving the U.S. time and money and improving relations with Iraqis. But the drawdown of 90,000 troops currently taking place was spelled out in 2008, according to a George W. Bush-negotiated arrangement, the Status of Forces Agreement, and is unfolding exactly as written. So Obama doesn't even deserve credit for "ending" the war in Iraq.
Saying that Iraq could be one of the great successes of the Obama administration is like saying that the stagehand who pulled the curtain on the debut of Così Fan Tutte is responsible for one of the great successes of the Metropolitan Opera House.
Then there's Biden's nutty defense of the Justice Department's decision to read Christmas Day bomber Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab his Miranda rights after just 50 minutes of questioning. Biden noted that the Bush administration gave the same treatment to shoe bomber Richard Reid in 2001. Unfortunately, Biden is blissfully ignorant of the fact that the military commissions to detain Islamic terrorists had not even been set up by the time the shoe bomber had struck. Reid attempted his attack three months after 9/11, whereas Abdulmutallab attempted his attack eight years and three months after 9/11.
Let's not forget that Biden was one of the chief opponents of the Afghanistan surge Obama reluctantly ordered in late 2008. Biden had argued behind the scenes for increasing drone attacks to pick off Al-Qaeda members, and against sending more troops to fight counterinsurgents. Fortunately, Obama didn't listen to Biden, and the surge is already demonstrating results, as in Tuesday's apprehension of Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, the most significant Taliban capture in over eight years.
This has been the pattern for a year-and-a-half now: Palin makes true statements-that the Vice-President is the head of the Senate, that the health care bill would require panels of bureaucrats to ration care-that are denounced as "gaffes" and "lies," while Biden regularly weaves twisted fantasies out of cotton candy and is heralded as the voice of wisdom and experience.
The clincher that the MSM held Palin to a higher standard than Biden throughout the 2008 presidential campaign is that they constantly compared her record to Obama's, not Biden's. ("The Republicans' #2 doesn't have that much more executive and business experience than the Democrats' #1!")
It takes a serious degree of intellectual dishonesty for Democrats to claim we are safer with Biden as Vice President than we would have been with Palin.
Wednesday, November 04, 2009
The Case For Ending the Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan - Now
The arguments are pretty clear by now and the people responsible are standing, not in front of the forest, where they cannot see the trees, but in the middle of the forest. They have been lost and wandering so long that they cannot see the path out. In the meantime, the people in the village-the American Public-are waiting for visionary leadership-not on how to help Afghanistan but how to help our own citizens, here, at home. And it has not come.
General McCrystal has done what he has been tasked to do...offer a military solution. The diplomats have been working on what they have been tasked to do...find a diplomatic solution to the intractable lifestyle of the orthodox Muslims who live in that far off land, two centuries behind us and the rest of the modern world.
The answer is staring them in the face. Stop. Assemble our troops and equipment. Do an about-face and come home. Then begin planning to help the Afghanis. Don't forget them. Help them. Help them not merely with military, if they should need that, but with other resources, which they most definitely need. Then and only then will they and other nations like them begin to help us.
The evidence is overwhelming. It is the politics that is intractable. It is sad to realize that we cannot trust the words of any member of the Neoconservative Obstructionist Party any longer. (The Neoconservative Obstructionist Party is the name of the Party that used to be called The Republican Party but which was taken over by Neoconservatives and Obstructionists, largely former Dixiecrat Southern segregationists like Strom Thurmond, who when he was still alive and in the Senate was the hero of recent Senate Republican leader Trent Lott.)
For centuries, and particularly since World War II, we had a valuable counter-opinion to any administration international policy. We had strong opposition leaders in the former Republican Party. Now we merely have a buffoon, Rush Limbaugh, and a group of lobbyist-paid, Neocon-Obstructionist lackeys who are afraid of their own shadows, and who pander to the aggressive group of the military and to the military-industrial complex.
The Neocon-Obstructionists shout and yell slogans and beat their chests like Tarzan. They keep their sons home, while sending poor blacks and Hispanics and other dedicated, patriotic young volunteers off to fight a war. Most of these Senators and members of Congress have never worn the uniform of their country. We cannot trust our security to them. It is sad, but true. They know little about war or the military and, in addition, they lie about everything. Congressional Democrats put up with them. Therefore, we must make our own analysis.
To begin...why are we still there? We are still in Afghanistan, after 8 years, ostensibly to find and kill members of Al Qaeda, including Osama Bin Laden, those who not only attacked us but still plan and carry out actions against us. Many knowledgeable military and diplomatic and media sources say that Al Qaeda is now, by and large, outside of Afghanistan, or marginally on the border with Pakistan. It is clear that they have taken up actions against Pakistan, hoping to discourage that country...not yet totally disenchanted with Al Qaeda's violent, insane actions...from working with us.
We need to initiate a different policy. While Afghanistan may have many problems, they are their problems. We can help them, but we need not be there to help them, and the solution has nothing to do with the military.
Let us look at this rationally. Let's say that we had a Taliban school here in the United States and it were theoretically in a community where we could not simply change the attitudes by law or police action. Let's say that they advocated such things as no education for women, mistreatment of women, stoning women and murder of women for perceived adultery...whether true or not...then what would we do? We would spend an extraordinary amount of money and effort to start a huge public relations campaign to change their minds. We would do what we always do here in the U.S. We would bring knowledge and advocacy and reason to bear on an irrational situation as we did with civil rights or women's rights. We would not go in and blow up the neighborhood, kill all those of opposite opinion and in the process damage the school...even if that option were open to us.
Are we to assume that because it is Afghanistan we can do that? I don't think so. If we should decide that we have that authority, then that is a different situation from the reasons we are currently in Afghanistan and we need an entirely new plan. So, unless we intend to change the country, the religion, the legal system, the tribal customs...by force or intimidation...we should not be in Afghanistan...at least not for that reason.
Let's consider the practical aspects of our situation right now. We have had 8 years of war in two different parts of the world. We have...whether we like it or not...advanced and tested our war-making apparatus, including soldiers, weaponry and general staff. We have young soldiers who have seen combat and who may be in the service for twenty more years, providing a skilled cadre on which to build any force that might become necessary.
We have depleted our military resources. We need to replenish them, but this is a time of great domestic need and anxiety, not a time for more military expenditure. This is not World War II. Iraq and Afghanistan will not pull us out of recession. These conflicts will, in fact, drive us deeper into recession. In addition, we need to alter and modify our military equipment to support a new strategy of engagement with terrorists wherever we find them, especially when there are threats in several areas of the world simultaneously.
What would the result from a total pull-out of our troops? In Iraq, it is pretty clear and we are already coming home on a timetable. We can hope that Iraqis will overlook our disastrous attack on their country, forgive us for electing two fanatical war mongers as President and Vice President (although it will be difficult to explain why they have not been prosecuted) and welcome us as world partners in advancing civilization and culture.
In Afghanistan, it will mean a temporary set back in what seems to be our attempt to change the country from one that we would consider very uncivilized to one marginally civilized. We can still continue to support attempts by Afghanis to do so. Perhaps we have passed the time and the opportunity to solve the world wide antagonism against the United States. But we can assist in restoring the American identity in a positive way throughout the Muslim world if we remove our troops from Afghanistan.
What to do about the terrorists? Leaving Afghanistan will neither help nor hurt. We must do what we currently do when a band of criminals is loose in the world and they have robbed or murdered someone in the United States. We ask other countries to help us locate them and, once located, help us imprison them if they have committed crimes. We ask other countries to allow us to bring in our police and investigative teams to help find them.
On the other hand, perhaps the President has made significant enough strides in the world to improve our image and our message to the world that we are not the greedy, diabolical, imperialists that Osama Bin Laden had claimed we are.
We must strengthen this image in order for us to be welcomed into the many different countries around the world where Al Qaeda cells are hiding. We need to launch efforts to find them and kill them in those countries or at least work with other countries to insure that these individuals are brought to justice. Our continued military presence in Afghanistan and Iraq makes justifying our stated objectives in this effort more difficult to believe in other Muslim countries..
We should always measure war in the number of lives that it sacrifices in return for the security of the United States. We should never send our soldiers out to die or be wounded for anything less than the protection of our citizens. Furthermore, we should never accidentally kill or maim civilian citizens of other nations without an extraordinary reason having to do with imminent danger of death or injury to our soldiers. Those should be inflexible rules that should guide our military operations at all times and in all theaters of operation. Which we can be pretty certain already do to some extent.
On the other hand, we must also continue to examine the actual monetary costs of a war to insure that we are, in fact, spending our security dollars with maximum efficiency. The United States now spends more money on security-in other words, protection for our citizens-than any other nation and more than, for example, all our European allies combined.
We have spent nearly a trillion dollars on Iraq. And what did we get for that? What did we get for the more than 4,000 dead, the 30,000 wounded, and the wild civil unrest we created in that country? We allowed terrorism, open religious war, devastation and a breakdown of society plus the deaths of 100,000 to 150,000 Iraqi civilians.
The cost of the Iraq war is already over $900,000,000,000.00. On top of that, this year's military budget will be $515,000,000,000.00, plus the Black Operations budget which is estimated this year to be about $50,000,000,000.00. In addition, we will spend over the next 25 year a minimum of $25,000,000,000.00 to care properly for the more than 30,000 wounded veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, if those wars were to end today.
We have a national debt of $11,500,000,000,000.00. The interest alone on the Iraq war and the war in Afghanistan is $27,000,000,000.00.
There was no huge group of Iraqi expatriates living here in the United States or elsewhere in the world, marching on Washington to ask us to come and attack Saddam Hussein. Certainly there was no one asking Dick Cheney or Donald Rumsfeld to come and kill literally hundreds of thousands of their fellow citizens, destroy the water supply, the electrical grid, damage the oil fields and loot the most ancient and historically significant national museum in the world.
There was no need for the Iraq war. None. It was an elective war, started for personal reasons by Dick Cheney and George W. Bush and their friends.
It is time to simply lay down our arms in Iraq and Afghanistan and pick them up again in this country to prepare for a long struggle against a world-wide menace. In order to do that, we must return our troops to this country and reorganize. It is time to take the money we are spending on killing people we do not know and bring those troops home to prevent, among other things, the invasion of illegal immigrants coming in waves across our southern border. We need their help to expel illegal immigrants and begin to put our economy back together again.
This is not a message that we must cease all military operations and become Sweden or Switzerland. It is simply time to examine a military policy that is wasting lives and money for no good reason. It does not have benefits to the American people for the number of lives and the amount of money being spent. We need to shut it down and bring the troops home. If we reorganize our anti-terrorist program from here and begin again with a new, more rational approach, we will be far more secure than we are with present policies.
Joseph O'Shaughnessy, the editor of Populist Daily, (http://www.populistdaily.com) writes regularly on social, political and economic issues.
Friday, March 13, 2009
Don't Blame George W Bush For the War in Iraq
I wish that Democrats and disaffected Republicans would stop blaming former President George W. Bush for the failed war in Iraq. He may have been the commander-in-chief of our military forces, but that doesn't mean he was personally responsible for a military campaign that so far has cost 4,252 Americans killed, over 31,000 wounded and the squandering of over $700 billion in national treasure.
The reason we should not blame Mr. Bush is that he was actually a minor player among the various factions and personalities that caused us to go to war in March 2003. The major force behind the decision to invade Iraq was a semi-secret organization called the Project for the New American Century (PNAC), based in Washington, D. C.
PNAC was formed by arch-conservatives William Kristol, Robert Kagan, Gary Schmitt and others in early 1997. According to Wikipedia, the organization has "exerted strong influence on high-level U.S. government officials in the administration of U.S President George W. Bush and strongly affected the Bush administration's development of military and foreign policies, especially involving national security and the Iraq War."
As early as Jan. 26, 1998, PNAC sent an open letter to then-President Bill Clinton calling for a U. S. ground campaign to oust Saddam Hussein from power in Iraq. Rebuffed by the Democratic president, the group communicated with his successor on Sept. 20, 2001, advocating "regime change" in Iraq. Mr. Bush, still reeling from the airplane crashes at the Pentagon and at the World Trade Center just 9 days prior, was receptive to the group's bold plan.
Seven of the president's closest advisors were supportive of PNAC and in fact some were members of the organization. They included:
Paul Wolfowitz, 64, Deputy Secretary of Defense, 2001-2005. He was one of the persons who signed the PNAC letter to President Clinton, and while a member of the Bush administration developed the doctrine of pre-emption vs. containment. He also reportedly convinced Mr. Bush that a war in Iraq would "pay for itself" through oil revenues.
Richard Perle, 66, Chairman of the Defense Policy Board Advisory Committee from 2001-2003. He also was a member of PNAC.
Dick Cheney, 66, Vice-President of the United States since 2001. He advocated "regime change," alleging that Saddam had chemical, biological and radiological weapons that were a threat to us. Some say Mr. Cheney considered himself the "co-president" when it came to making decisions because Mr. Bush was unable to do so in the high-stakes atmosphere of Washington, D. C.
Douglas Feith, 54, Undersecretary of Defense for Policy, 2001 - 2005. Mr. Feith headed the Pentagon's Office of Special Plans, an office that regularly "revised" intelligence estimates provided by career CIA employees.
Donald Rumsfeld, 75, Secretary of Defense, 2001-2006. Rumsfeld, a close associate of Dick Cheney, supported the decision to go to war and argued that mobile, versatile, high-tech units would easily prevail in Iraq. He resigned, in part, because he was criticized as arrogant and incompetent by recently retired generals.
George Tenet, 54, Director of Central Intelligence, 1997-2004. Mr. Tenet supported the theory of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq and also told President Bush that a military operation in that country would be a "slam dunk."
Condoleeza Rice, 53, National Security Advisor, 2001-2005. Ms. Rice warned the American public, ominously, of "mushroom clouds" (nuclear explosions) if the United States didn't invade Iraq and kill or capture Saddam Hussein.
Two minor players in the events that led up to the invasion of Iraq were Secretary of State Colin Powell, 70, and his deputy, Richard Armitage, 62. They both argued, unsuccessfully, that an invasion of that country was unnecessary and would, in time, prove counterproductive.
The former president depended heavily on PNAC and his seven key advisors because he was unsure what course of action to take. Nothing in his prior political life had prepared him for such great responsibility. Knowing this, his advisors closed ranks and spoke with one voice about the need to go to war. In the end, the president just nodded and said "okay."
Author's URL: http://garyjacobsen.synthasite.com
Tuesday, January 27, 2009
The Myth That Iraq Had No WMD
Weapons of Mass Destruction have three major components; nuclear, biological, and chemical. One of the things that these three components share is the ability to create mass destruction from one release.
Just ask the Kurds, Saddam tried to exterminate them with chemical agents. Fast forward to post invasion Iraq.
A combined Associated Press and Fox News report released on May 17, 2004, mentioned a sarin nerve gas discovery. Troops handling the shells that contained this gas ended up getting treated for chemical exposure. The Iraq Survey Group confirmed this sarin gas. Mustard gas was also discovered.
As chemical agents, sarin and mustard gas are WMD. Whether it was pre 1991, or current, is beside the point.
People that insist that President Bush lied about WMD existence argue that Iraq had no WMD. No WMD means zero WMD, regardless of manufacture date.
Even if they try to argue that these WMD predate 1991, they prove their own, "no WMD," argument wrong. By trying to argue that this WMD was old, they destroy their own argument that President Bush "lied" about Iraq WMD existence.
Two Iraqis, Gazi George and Georges Sadda, indicated that Saddam moved WMD out of Iraq into Syria. Gazi George further argued that Saddam was capable of burying his WMD's underground. Gazi George was an Iraqi scientist, and Georges Sadda is a retired Iraqi Air Force general. He had regular contacts with Saddam Hussein.
In December, 2005, Israeli Lieutenant General Moshe Yaalon argued that Saddam moved chemical agents to Syria before the invasion.
Burying WMDs underground, in a place we haven't searched yet, is very realistic. People accidentally discovered buried fighter jets in the Iraqi desert. They also found buried earth moving equipment.
Had the Iraqis did a thorough job burying the MiGs, and had their tail fins not been sticking out of the ground, they still would've been hidden. How could we miss these despite our inspections?
The inspection teams that we sent to Iraq didn't inspect the whole country; but a limited area.
Their conclusions could only responsibly be applied to the areas they searched. Charles Duelfer even refused to rule out the possibility that WMD were moved to Syria.
Travis is a freelance writer that specializes in information market, political writing, fundraising and communications.