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 In Search of Monsters

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Dr.Hannani Maya
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الدولة : العراق
الجنس : ذكر
عدد المساهمات : 37598
مزاجي : أحب المنتدى
تاريخ التسجيل : 21/09/2009
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مُساهمةموضوع: In Search of Monsters    الثلاثاء 15 مارس 2011, 1:10 am

In Search of Monsters



The Iraq war hawks urging intervention in Libya are confident that there’s no way Libya could ever be another Iraq.Of course, they never thought Iraq would be Iraq, either.All President Obama needs to do, Paul Wolfowitz asserts, is man up, arm the Libyan rebels, support setting up a no-fly zone and wait for instant democracy.It’s a cakewalk.

Didn’t we arm the rebels in Afghanistan in the ’80s? And didn’t many become Taliban and end up turning our own weapons on us? And didn’t one mujahadeen from Saudi Arabia, Osama bin Laden, go on to lead Al Qaeda?

So that worked out well.

Even now, with our deficit and military groaning from two wars in Muslim countries, interventionists on the left and the right insist it’s our duty to join the battle in a third Muslim country.“It is both morally right and in America’s strategic interest to enable the Libyans to fight for themselves,” Wolfowitz wrote in a Wall Street Journal op-ed piece.

You would think that a major architect of the disastrous wars and interminable occupations in Afghanistan and Iraq would have the good manners to shut up and take up horticulture. But the neo-con naif has no shame.

After all, as Defense Secretary Robert Gates told West Point cadets last month, “In my opinion, any future defense secretary who advises the president to again send a big American land army into Asia or into the Middle East or Africa should ‘have his head examined,’ as General MacArthur so delicately put it.”

Gates boldly batted back the Cakewalk Brigade — which includes John McCain, Joe Lieberman and John Kerry — bluntly telling Congress last week: “Let’s just call a spade a spade. A no-fly zone begins with an attack on Libya to destroy the air defenses. That’s the way you do a no-fly zone. And then you can fly planes around the country and not worry about our guys being shot down. But that’s the way it starts.”

Wolfowitz, Rummy’s No. 2 in W.’s War Department, pushed to divert attention from Afghanistan and move on to Iraq; he pressed the canards that Saddam and Osama were linked and that we were in danger from Saddam’s phantom W.M.D.s; he promised that the Iraq invasion would end quickly and gleefully; he slapped back Gen. Eric Shinseki when he said securing Iraq would require several hundred thousand troops; and he claimed that rebuilding Iraq would be paid for with Iraqi oil revenues.

How wrong, deceptive and deadly can you be and still get to lecture President Obama on his moral obligations?

Wolfowitz was driven to invade Iraq and proselytize for the Libyan rebels partly because of his guilt over how the Bush I administration coldly deserted the Shiites and Kurds who were urged to rise up against Saddam at the end of the 1991 gulf war. Saddam sent out helicopters to slaughter thousands. (A NATO no-fly zone did not stop that.)

Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi is also monstrous, slaughtering civilians and hiring mercenaries to kill rebels.

It’s hard to know how to proceed, but in his rush, Wolfowitz never even seems to have a good understanding of the tribal thickets he wants America to wade into. In Foreign Affairs, Frederic Wehrey notes that “for four decades Libya has been largely terra incognita ... ‘like throwing darts at balloons in a dark room,’ as one senior Western diplomat put it to me.”

Leslie Gelb warns in The Daily Beast that no doubt some rebels are noble fighters, but some “could turn out to be thugs, thieves, and would-be new dictators. Surely, some will be Islamic extremists. One or more might turn into another Col. Qaddafi after gaining power. Indeed, when the good colonel led the Libyan coup in 1969, many right-thinking Westerners thought him to be a modernizing democrat.”

Reformed interventionist David Rieff, who wrote the book “At the Point of a Gun,” which criticizes “the messianic dream of remaking the world in either the image of American democracy or of the legal utopias of international human rights law,” told me that after Iraq: “America doesn’t have the credibility to make war in the Arab world. Our touch in this is actually counterproductive.”

He continued: “Qaddafi is a terrible man, but I don’t think it’s the business of the United States to overthrow him. Those who want America to support democratic movements and insurrections by force if necessary wherever there’s a chance of them succeeding are committing the United States to endless wars of altruism. And that’s folly.”

He quotes John Quincy Adams about America: “Wherever the standard of freedom and independence has been or shall be unfurled, there will her heart, her benedictions and her prayers be. But she goes not abroad, in search of monsters to destroy ... she is the champion and vindicator only of her own.”

As for Wolfowitz, Rieff notes drily, “He should have stayed a mathematician.”

By Maureen Dowd,
The New York Times


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Veterans struggle to find jobs



More than 1 in 5 young Iraq and Afghanistan veterans was unemployed last year, the Labor Department said Friday.

Concerns that Guard and Reserve troops will be gone for long stretches and that veterans might have mental health issues or lack civilian work skills appear to be factors keeping the unemployment rate for Iraq and Afghanistan veterans at 20.9 percent, a slight drop from the year before, but still well over the 17.3 percent rate for non-veterans of the same age group, 18-24.

"The employers out there, they are military-friendly and veteran-friendly, and they love us and thank us and everything, but when you go apply for a job, it's almost like they are scared to take a risk for you. I don't get it. It doesn't make sense," said Iraq veteran Christopher Kurz, 28, who just moved back in with his parents in Arizona after spending two years looking for law enforcement work in New York.

Kurz said his time as a military police officer in Iraq and aboard a nuclear aircraft carrier didn't seem to translate into a job.For Iraq and Afghanistan veterans of all ages, the unemployment rate last year was 11.5 percent. In 2009, 21.1 percent of young Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans were unemployed.

The problem has persisted despite government and private initiatives designed to help them. Advocates say more of a concentrated effort to have licensing and skills obtained in the military translate into the civilian workplace and more public awareness about what veterans offer employers are needed to tackle the problem.

Sen. Patty Murray, chairman of the Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee, said veterans have told her they take their military experience off their resumes because they fear a potential employer will decide they're at risk for post-traumatic stress disorder and not hire them.

"They take four or eight years of experience and throw it out the door and pretend it doesn't even exist," said Murray, a Washington Democrat. "That to me is a huge consequence to them, professionally."

One of the largest government efforts is the Post-9/11 GI Bill administered by the Veterans Affairs Department, which by the end of last year had paid out nearly $7.2 billion in tuition, housing and stipends for more than 425,000 veterans or their eligible family members.

Kurz said that without the new GI Bill he probably would have been homeless or moving back in with his parents in Mesa, Ariz., much sooner. He recently transferred from the City College of New York to Ottawa University in Arizona so he can finish his bachelor's degree.

As he has looked for a job with police departments and federal agencies such as Homeland Security, he said his years as a military police officer haven't seemed to count when pitted against someone with a degree in criminal justice - even if the college grad didn't have previous law enforcement experience.

"I don't understand why they don't want to hire a veteran who's got on-the-job experience, because a college student who has got a criminal justice degree - that might be great, don't get me wrong - he's smart, but he's not street smart," Kurz said. "You can't teach people the stuff you learn in the street in school."

Staff Sgt. Meghan Meade, 27, of East Moriches, N.Y., said her lack of a bachelor's degree also seems to have kept her from getting a full-time job, even doing administrative work. A member of the New York Air National Guard, she said she has spent five years on active duty and did a tour in Iraq. When she brings up her military experience, she said she gets a lot of questions about when she will deploy again. She has an associate's degree, but she's reluctant to go back to school because she's not sure exactly what to study. She's waiting tables and doing temporary clerical work.

Meade said she hears questions at job interviews like, "`Do you have to deploy again? Well, how often do you deploy? And well, how much notice would you have?' It just starts a long stream of questions. I don't think they hold it against you that you have deployed, in the past, but they definitely inquire more about your future with the company, and I think they are more hesitant to hire you."

Tim Embree, a legislative associate with the nonprofit Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, said some certifications in the military such as for pilots and nurses easily translate into a job down the road. Other jobs - ranging from military barbers to mechanics - vary by how years of experience are counted. Each state also has its own licensing requirements.

As a start, he said his organization is pushing for a robust study looking at every job in the military and how it translates into the civilian and academic world, as well as each state's licensing requirements pertaining to military experience. He said he's hopeful a private organization will step forward to do such a report.

"We're dealing with a situation right now where you have veterans, service members taking off their uniform that have amazing skill sets, and you also have a lot of employers out there that want to hire folks like this, but something is being lost in the translation."

Murray said transferring military experiences into the private sector is one issue her committee will look at as it addresses veterans' unemployment. She said she would also like to see the military make mandatory for everyone leaving the military its Transition Assistance Program, which provides resume help and other job-related guidance to those leaving the military.

Overall, veterans from all eras had an annual unemployment rate last year of 8.7 percent. Nationally, the unemployment rate in 2010 was 9.6 percent.

By KIMBERLY HEFLING,
the Washington Post

Online Resources:

Transition Assistance Program: http://www.turbotap.org/

Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America: http://www.iava.org/


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PM: Protesters Out of Touch



Iraq's prime minister on Saturday described protesters calling for a regime change as out of step with the will of the nascent democracy and brushed off his critics as few and weak.In a defiant nighttime interview on state TV, Nouri al-Maliki also questioned if those who want him to go would prefer Iraq to return to the days of dictatorship.

The tone of his comments contrasted sharply with the lawmakers' tentative agreement just hours earlier to cut their monthly pay in half and reduce the salaries of the nation's top leaders, in hopes of appeasing protesters who accuse them of living in luxury at the expense of the poor."Those who call for regime change are limited in number; they are weak and voices of discord," al-Maliki said in the hour-long interview that was recorded earlier.

"What do they want?" he asked, giving a list of references to deposed ruler Saddam Hussein: "Do they want the return of a dictatorship? Or the Revolutionary Command Council? Or a regime that marginalizes groups?" al-Maliki said. "We say clearly that who ask for the change of this regime are out of line with the will of the nation."Then he added that those who are calling for reform are making an "accepted demand."

In recent days Al-Maliki has been jeered as a liar by demonstrators who want more jobs, better public services and the end to government corruption. The Shiite prime minister only barely kept his job last year by rounding up enough post-vote support after his political party fell far short of a majority in national elections.

Only a month ago, al-Maliki sought to insulate himself from the anti-government unrest spreading across the Middle East, promising to not run again for office when his term is up in 2014 and volunteering to return half of his salary to the public treasury.

Parliament on Saturday went a step further. Lawmakers said they planned to pass a law in a few days to reduce their annual salaries to about $60,000 from $120,000. However, the plan would leave untouched some $20,000 a month that lawmakers receive in stipends for personal expenses, security and housing.

Iraq has a 15 percent unemployment rate, and the average wage of a midlevel Iraqi government employee is about $600 per month.Officials described the move as at least a start in narrowing the wide gap between Iraq's privileged and its poor."This will keep a kind of balance in society, especially with poor people," said Shiite lawmaker Hakim al-Zamili, whose hard-line Sadrist colleagues proposed the cut.

The 325 legislators still would collect an additional $12,500 each month in housing and security allowances, as well as a $90,000 annual stipend. Also, the prime minister and president's salaries would be slashed to $120,000 a year.

The prime minister's annual salary currently is not public information but has long and widely been believed to be at least $360,000. Al-Zamili said the new law would make the salaries of Iraq's president and prime minister public for the first time.

Iraq's two vice presidents and two deputy prime ministers would each make $108,000.Iraq still struggles to contain both widespread corruption and violence. Earlier Saturday, gunmen ambushed seven Iraqi soldiers as they were leaving work in a former northern al-Qaida stronghold, killing them and fleeing before they could be captured, authorities said.

The soldiers had changed into their off-duty clothing and were driving off in a sport-utility vehicle when the attackers blocked off the road and opened fire with machine guns just outside the northern city of Mosul, located 225 miles (360 kilometers) northwest of Baghdad.

Associated Press


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Fears for detained protesters




A group of anti-government protesters missing since they were arrested this week in Baghdad are feared to be at risk of torture, after other recently released protestors told Amnesty International they were tortured in detention.

At least 10 people were detained on Monday while returning home from a Baghdad protest against unemployment, government corruption and poor social services.The arrests came as other protesters who were detained last month told Amnesty International that they were tortured in detention.

"We fear there is a real risk of torture for those arrested on Monday, especially as their whereabouts in detention is yet to be disclosed. This seems to be following a pattern of protesters being detained and tortured as the Iraqi government tries to crackdown on demonstrations," said Malcolm Smart, Amnesty International's director for the Middle East and North Africa."The authorities must immediately reveal where these latest detainees are held and release them if they have been detained solely for exercising their legitimate right to protest."

Those detained on Monday include Ala’ Sayhoud, Ma’an Thamer, 'Ali Abdel Zahra’ and Muhammad Kadhim Finjan. They were arrested by Iraqi security forces in Baghdad's al-Batawin area after they participated in a demonstration in the city's Tahrir Square on Monday.Two recently released activists have told Amnesty International that they were tortured or otherwise ill-treated in detention after they were arrested in connection with recent protests.

Abdel-Jabbar Shaloub Hammadi, who was detained without charge for 12 days following his arrest on 24 February, the day before a planned 'Day of Rage' protest in Baghdad, was beaten and tortured throughout his first five days in detention.

"They beat me a lot and kept me suspended every day for nearly 15 hours. In one method they tied my hands and legs together behind by back and left me hanging by a rope; in the other they suspended me from the wrists and left me standing on the tips of my toes on a chair - both were very painful," Hammadi told Amnesty International.

Journalist Hadi al-Mehdi, who was arrested on 25 February, told Amnesty International he received electric shocks to his feet and was threatened with rape during his interrogation by police."The Iraqi authorities claim that they are stamping out torture but as these testimonies show it continues to be used against detainees and the perpetrators appear to believe they can act with impunity," said Malcolm Smart.

"The authorities must order an immediate independent investigation into all allegations of torture and those responsible for torture must be exposed and brought to justice."As calls for reform persist in the country, Amnesty International has also called on the Iraqi authorities respect the right of assembly and freedom of expression.

by
Amnesty International
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In Search of Monsters
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