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September 14, 2012

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Porchlight

Hey y'all. Back at work on the UT Austin campus after the evacuation this morning. I might have gone to the local pub to have a couple of Guinnesses while we were waiting for the all clear - because in other semi-similar situations, we have been told to go home - but you didn't hear that from me. Ah well.

It was kinda scary for a few minutes there. We were told to leave campus altogether, but many students wandered toward the middle of campus in a daze (most of them while staring at their phones). I tried to redirect many of them but soon gave up as they just kind of stared at me like I was crazy. What a bunch of sitting ducks we all are.

While at the pub I had an interesting conversation with a young, hipster-looking guy who was in the education school but whose views on education were quite close to mine. I suspect he is a libertarian and not an Obama fan - he seemed like he might even be a closet Republican. Love how random converations like that can happen.

JM Hanes

Interesting comparison of the Reagan & Romney responses to embassy attacks during campaign season.

Sandy Daze

The so-called SOFA was actually called the

Agreement
Between the United States of America and the Republic of Iraq
On the Withdrawal of United States Forces from Iraq and the
Organization of Their Activities during Their Temporary Presence in
Iraq

I put a copy of the agreement here.

This was one of two documents concluded the same date, 16 November 2008, the other was the Strategic Framework Agreement. Both negotiated while Ryan Crocker was in the saddle. Of the two, Crocker called the SFA the more important--"unprecedented"--becasue it provided a long-term arrangement for sharing & collaboration in a variety of governmental, military, educational, and cultural areas. He said it was not so important how we came to Iraq, but what mattered was what we left behind.

JMH's recollection of the play vis-a-vis extending the presence of US Forces in country is correct. There would never, could never be a vote in the Iraqi Parliament to extend presence becasue of political coalition infighting, but only for the asking would US Forces been granted a much longer-term presence. Nouri al-Maliki expected the request, the GoI awaited it, CENTCOM planned for it, but the administration never made it.

Now, I have no doubt that on a very small, non-acknowledged, non-attributed basis, some very specialized elements are continuing to do some very unique missions within Iraq, with the knowledge and at times, involvement of the GoI. When failure is not an option, there are folks who never, ever fail.

But, the 25,000 footprint that was anticipated is sadly, like so much in the MENA, dust in the wind.

JM Hanes

Glad to hear it was a false alarm, Porch!

Homeland Security apparently put out a caution about the possibility of follow-on attacks here in the U.S. It's too bad we don't have some sort of color coded warning system to indicate how serious a threat they're seeing....

narciso

glad to know you're ok, Porch, when a dozen years is a long time for a war, the Greeks knew that at Troy, and they were only there for an even dozen.

That force, might have been like Captain Baggott Glubb's scout detachment against Ikwan invaders in mid 20s Mesopatamia, entirely too small for the task, his 'War in the Desert, gives a flavor of that.

Jane - It's gonna be a Tsunami in November

Porch,

You need an IPhone so you can check in. We were worried.

Sandy Daze

The actual name of the SOFA is:

Agreement
Between the United States of America and the Republic of Iraq
On the Withdrawal of United States Forces from Iraq and the
Organization of Their Activities during Their Temporary Presence in
Iraq

Here is a link to a downloadable copy of the document.

This document was one of two concluded 16 November 2008, the other being the Strategic Framework Agreement. Of the two, Amb Ryan Crocker, who was in the saddle at the time, called the SFA the more important becasue it created a long-term bilateral relationship which he called "unprecedented." Crocker commented that the reasons we came to Iraq were not as important as "what we leave behind." He believed the long-term bilateral relationship was the cornerstone to the future USG<-->GoI relationship.

JMH's recollection of the future US Force's presence in Iraq is correct. For a variety of political reasons the matter w/could never successfully be voted in the Parliment. Rather, the GoI expected a direct request; Nouri al-Maliki awaited the request, CENTCOM planned for the request, and yet, the administration never made the request. (It is not as if the US Forces would be driving around inside Iraqi cities in their hummers and mraps. Many of the former US bases were well removed from any population areas.)

I have little doubt that very small, specialized units are conducting unique missions when needed and as required, with and without the assistance of the GoI. When failure is not an option, there are elements that never, ever fail.

But, the 25K +/- footprint--?--nah. That didn't happen and likely won't ever happen.*

*the KRG-Administered areas might be an exception going forward, depending upon a multi-variable equation of circumstances. I've got little doubt that if the USG wanted to put a footprint in the KRG areas, we'd be openly welcomed.

Sandy Daze

(Sorry for two posts, was checking the link and thought what I had written had disappeared, now I see that typepad went ahead and posted my preview. Oopla.)

narciso

Is Robert Jensen still teaching over there, Porch.

Porchlight

Thanks y'all and I'm sorry, Jane. I'm a Luddite. I talked to Mr. Porch post-evacuation and asked him to post an update on my Facebook page, but I guess it didn't happen. You should see my 2002-era phone - pretty pathetic.

Yes, Jensen is still here, narciso. I think I've seen him around and about. He looks like an aging film director or maybe an '80s art-rock band alumnus.

maryrose

Porch:
Glad you are OK. Keep safe.
This excuse that it is all the video's fault is just not going to fly. The reason Hil is all choked up is she now knows she won't be able to get away clean from the Obama administration. She now knows she should have left sooner.

JM Hanes

Sandy:

If only we could clone Ryan Crocker, smart diplomacy might have a fighting chance. His DUI/hit & run arrest is so incredibly saddening. I hope there is some accommodation that can be reached, since no one was injured and he didn't exactly "run" very far.

For some reason I had the impression that there is a U.S. installation of some sort in Kurdish Iraq? Maybe it ended up being an abandoned project. Had a good laugh at myself when I clicked your KRG link and was startled to see pix of folks sitting around conference tables. I suddenly realized that whenever I think of "Kurdistan" I'm imagining the top part of this photo (dotted with stone redoubts!) not the urban lower half.

Kurdistan

Do you read Kurdish? Or is that like asking if you speak Austrian?

Sara

I've had a smart phone for about 3 years now and on my 2nd one. I saw no reason to have one but when it was time to upgrade, they were having a 2 for 1 sale and my d-i-l was due at the same time, so we went with the sale mostly because it was the cheapest way to go.

I am now a believer and I think they are as necessary as having a first aid kit and a tire jack when I'm on the road. And anyone with a disability, who lives alone, should definitely have one. I wouldn't go with an iPhone since there are better offerings that are expandable and upgradeable and have memory cards, but whatever OS one chooses, I think in today's world they are now more of a necessity than a luxury.

(I just dropped the TV remote and it changed the channel when it hit the floor. What the heck is Anderson Cooper doing on Fox 11 (MyFox local)?)

And lastly, I like the suggestion made a couple days ago about giving a 48 hour warning and then if these extremists don't calm down, bomb the heck out of Medina and if that doesn't get their attention make Mecca next. (Of course, more than anything, I'd like to get them off the Temple Mound and take over the mosque that sits there.)

Clarice

Interesting our ME Embassies were so poorly guarded on 9/11. Military helicopters were patrolling DC very well the night of Sept 10 and on the 11th..if the sounds in NW DC are any guide.

Clarice

From Taranto BOTW:
Clarice Feldman FTA: "The Times website reports that "the violently anti-American rallies"--no, no, no, no, no, they're only about the movie!--"expanded on Friday to more than a dozen countries, with demonstrators storming the American Embassy in Tunisia in a deadly clash and protesters in Sudan's capital broadening the targets to include Germany and Britain." In Yemen, they broke into the U.S. Embassy yesterday; in Lebanon they torched a KFC. Apparently there are no Chick-fil-As in that part of the world.

The Weekly Standard picks up the news from a CNN reporter's Twitter feed that "a mob has gathered and burned the American flag" at the U.S. Embassy in London. They also burned an Israeli flag. All because they don't like a movie, to hear Jay Carney tell it. It's Islam's answer to Siskel and Ebert: instead of two thumbs down, two flags charred."

daddy

"The Times website reports that "the violently anti-American rallies"--no, no, no, no, no, they're only about the movie!--"

That's the meme we have to beat Clarice. That's what I hear on the AM Radio headsets, and that's what we have to be able to beat back in similar, short, sharp, convincing, understandable sound bites.

Clarice

Legal Insurrection:

"Obama’s promised on the campaign trail in 2007 that he’d be a friend to labor when in the White House:

When I’m in the White House, i’ll put on a comfortable pair of shoes myself. I’ll walk on that picket line with you as POTUS, because workers deserve to know that somebody’s standing in their court.

Yet, Obama has avoided making any statement himself or living up to his promise to support the striking workers in his adopted hometown of Chicago. Both Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan released statements on the strike.

Surprised? You shouldn’t be. Obama did the same thing to Wisconsin striking public-sector union members. In the final days before the recall election was in Chicago (for what else, fundraisers), and he neglected to pop up north to rally the troops in Wisconsin."

JM Hanes

daddy:

"That's the meme we have to beat Clarice."

In the end, the point is not that they're wrong about why we're being attacked, it's that it really shouldn't matter. Even if the mobs were driven mad by a video and not anti-American fervor, an American Ambassador is just as dead, the ruins of an American Consulate are just as black, and deference won't fix either past or future.

daddy

"In the end, the point is not that they're wrong about why we're being attacked, it's that it really shouldn't matter."

JMH,

It shouldn't matter but unfortunately I think it does matter. When we are dealing with Doug Schoen's, and millions more 'hope and changers' desperately looking for a reason to cling to Voting for Obama instead of Romney, it seems to me it is the sole thing that does matter when they enter the Voting booth.

And whether it's True or False, stated enough times by Carney and the MSM and Obama and Hillary and Morsi etc, to me it sounds true enough to enable them, and those not paying a lot of attention, to pull the lever.

Hope I am wrong, but I do know I would feel a heck of a lot more optimistic if I could hear 30 second news breaks soundbites, even from FOX, that didn't regurgitate the meme about Muslim's incited
by the YouTube Video. I don't know what the 30 second alternative needs to be but I think we desperately need a convincing 30 second rebuttal.

To the dogs. Later.

sbw

I had to ask the wire editor today whether "Film protesters . . ." or "Protesters . . ." was the more accurate headline.

I shouldn't have to ask.

matt

Obama basically let the entire Iraq framework of cooperation collapse. Politically the various factions of the Iraqi government could not come out and say they wanted us to stay. It was something like the townspeople of Rock Ridge and Sheriff Bart.

So instead, Obama cut and ran. No helicopters this time, but we basically abandoned our friends in Iraq and empowered the Iranians most notably.

The Kurds quietly control their region, and the various factions south of Kurdistan are in a low grade civil war which a huge dose of graft & corruption.

It is amazing to me me how the oil wealth is simply stolen. A commodity that requires massive infrastructure simply disappears onto the tankers with the funds deposited in Dubai accounts.

Now it's payback to Syria for hosting the jihadis as well. Not a lot of news yet on how Western Iraq is involved. I still wonder where Saddam's WMD's may be.

JM Hanes

matt:

"I still wonder where Saddam's WMD's may be."

In the mountain strongholds of Alawite Syria.

Sandy Daze
Do you read Kurdish? Or is that like asking if you speak Austrian?

Posted by: JM Hanes | September 14, 2012 at 04:17 PM

Stepped out to do some door-to-door canvassing for the Romney-Ryan Comeback Team ! thus missing your question, JMH.

I do not speak nor write Kurdish, although it is a distinct language from Arabic. There are cross-over words, much like my DLI Spanish instructors used to say, Spanglish.

Erbil, and no doubt Sulimenya are going gangbusters. Last week I chatted with a colleague in Erbil who told me 40 new hotels had opened in the last year--all were full--and there are currently four malls, similarly all full.

Google Earth does an excellent job showing Erbil's growth, particularly with the historical images feature. With the old citadel as the hub, the ring road developments are amazing. (Iraqi) Kurds are rightfully proud of the developments there. The goal is to become like Dubai--a comparison between which I receive emails every few months.

Much of the earlier development in Erbil and other areas was from Barzani family and other old-Kurd family money. More recently, the influx of the major international oil companies, which no longer fear any sanction from the Central (Baghdad) government, means that other revenue sources are now powering the development (meaning in turn that the original house of cards will now be much less likely to collapse).

An illustrative example is that of a friend, a Kurd, Pesh Agha, with whom I spent many a late night. He invested the monies earned from USG contracts into his own project, something called the Empire project. Empire has 275 houses and 600 apts and all are sold. Expats are flooding into Erbil.

(There are direct daily flights to/from Vienna, so if one happens to speak Austrian (!) one is in luck!)

Sandy Daze

For Daddy, when Erbil was updating its airport, it extended the runway to an enormous length. When asked why, the responsible government official stated (with a big smile) that it was of such an extended length to act as an emergency landing field for the spaceshuttle !

Sandy Daze

JMH - Yes, exactly re Ryan Crocker. For years and years that man has done the heavy diplomatic lifting for the USG, first in Pakistan, then Iraq, he retired and was recalled, and then Afghanistan. Wow. Everywhere he went he was driven, with body guards and assorted aides and minders of various sorts. He was never put into a position where he could potentially get in trouble as he did with the H&R dui in Spokane. We talk about ptsd and such for the troopers, but I gotta think that any man (or any woman), living and working under such constraints and pressures for such and extended time, needs a re-acclimatization period, when returning to CONUS.

I'm not excusing a H&R dui, but like you, I hope that something can be worked out in his case.
~~
Speaking of Amb Crocker, I listened to him on Fox News earlier today. He was good, but I was not as happy with his defense ("she did not apologize") of Hil.

OBTW - Fox has had just a tremendous number of top-notch commentators today, from Amb Crocker, Amb Bolton, Gen Keane and others. One right after the other. Great comments from all.

JM Hanes

Sandy:

How refreshing to hear encouraging news from at least one spot in the Middle East!

JM Hanes

Sandy:

Didn't see your last till after I posted. I'm so sorry to have missed Crocker & most of the rest of the Fox line-up today, but I did see Gen. Keane. I thought his description of Obama's policy of "disengagement" was about as accurate (and succinct!) as it gets.

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Wilson/Plame