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Iraqi prime minister rebuffed

Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki called for a timetable for withdrawal of US forces from his country, which the Pentagon reacted to immediately in essence telling him they’ll do whatever they please, whenever  they please in Iraq.  Such rejections have been made continuously by all branches of government, from the executive to the legislative and the military,  throughout the US occupation of Iraq.  What I found interesting however, is the play on words response from the Pentagon reacting to Iraqi concerns about the the US-Iraqi security pact under negotiations.

Whitman (Pentagon spokesperson) said the United States had made clear “that we have no long term desires to have forces permanently stationed in Iraq.”

Here you can find a very nice description of how deceptive the above statement from the Pentagon spokesman is.  Among the points made were these:

Iraqi officials quickly figured out that the real significance of the draft’s wording on access to military bases was that it contained neither a time limit on access to Iraqi bases nor any restrictions on the U.S. to “conduct military operations in Iraq and to detain individuals when necessary for imperative reasons of security”.

Authorization for such operations was called “temporary”, but the absence of any time limit makes that seemingly reassuring term meaningless as well.

The Bush administration’s renunciation of “permanent bases” was a ploy to lull the key committees of the U.S. Congress on an issue which had aroused many Democratic critics of the war, who had repeatedly used that term in demanding a legal commitment on the issue.

The Iraqis don’t understand minutae, or nit-picking as we call it, so the subtleties of US wording might go completely over their heads.  They can however cause problems by denying the US an agreement before the end of 2008 when the UN mandate for US troops in Iraq ends, and that’s why the US is so desperate to conclude an agreement before that time.  Stay tuned!

POV on Obama’s Muslim “problem”

A very well written editorial on Obama’s senseless way of dealing with critics who call him a “Muslim” in an attempt to negatively influence the campaign. The writer of this piece does such a good job expressing my own sentiments that I’ll let his words speak for me:

I WISH Barack Obama were a Muslim. Better that than having supercilious staffers whisk women in Islamic head scarves out of photo-ops. Better that than telling Representative Keith Ellison of Minnesota, the nation’s first Muslim congressman, not to come help Obama in Iowa and North Carolina.

Better that than wooing red states by wobbling before the modern equivalent of the Red Scare. In his year-and-a-half-long run for president, Obama has visited churches and synagogues, but no mosque. This has the musty feel of light-skinned African-Americans passing for white, paranoid over daylight visits from dark-skinned relatives.

Obama’s campaign has been far more inclusive than John McCain’s. Yet as of late, Obama’s handlers are so bent on passing their biracial, binationally-raised man as a pure-blooded American – a new commercial plays up his “values straight from the Kansas heartland” – that they are reinforcing the perception that Muslim Americans are impure.

Asked what he would say to Obama if he had the chance, Bilal Kaleem, executive director of the Boston chapter of the Muslim American Society, said, “It’s a tough question, and it’s sad that it’s a tough question. . . . I would suggest that he might have to do the same thing [on Islam] that he did on race. He addressed it head-on in a landmark speech. He gave his speech in a mature way. If he could speak in the same way to that, it could be inspiring for our country and the world.”

It is understandable why Barack Hussein Obama and his handlers suffer from PTSD – post-traumatic smear disorder. Political woodpeckers hammer falsehoods from the right. Fellow Democrat Hillary Clinton, when asked whether Obama is a Muslim, tackily peeped, “there is nothing to base that on, as far as I know.” Despite nearly hitting the third rail over his former Christian pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, only 58 percent of Americans think Obama is a Christian, according to a Newsweek poll in May.

It has been so outrageous that Mayor Michael Bloomberg of New York, an independent and a Jewish American, said the “whisper campaign” was “wedge politics at its worst.” Kaleem said of Obama, “We feel sympathy for him because it’s not just him who should be called out; it is also the people in the media and politics who made a cottage industry out of him being a wolf in sheep’s clothing and that all Muslims are subversive.”

But the sympathy may be short-lived as Obama’s “Fight the Smears” part of his website has some Muslims feeling betrayed by an over-the-top effort to denounce every Obama-is-a-Muslim claim as a “lie” and saying, “Senator Obama has never been a Muslim, was not raised a Muslim, and is a committed Christian.” How about something like, “Senator Obama is a Christian who, having lived in the world’s largest Muslim country [Indonesia], having traveled in Pakistan and having many Muslim friends, appreciates American pluralism like no other candidate in US history”?

A more positive approach by Obama of affirming Muslims while affirming his Christianity actually fits the nation’s values. A new Pew Research survey finds Americans more open than ever to a range of religious viewpoints. Muslim Americans themselves, according to a 2007 Pew survey, are “largely assimilated, happy with their lives,” and “decidedly American in their outlook, values, and attitudes.”

This obviously all came together for Ellison’s election, as the Minneapolis Star-Tribune has noted that his district has more Lutherans than Muslims. Ellison this week told The New York Times about Obama, “A lot of us are waiting for him to say that there’s nothing wrong with being a Muslim, by the way.”

A lot of Muslims are waiting because, seven years after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, an undercurrent of suspicion remains. In the 2007 Pew survey, a third of Muslim Americans said that within the last year, they had either been treated with suspicion, called offensive names, profiled by police, or even attacked. Kaleem, a graduate of MIT, said he sometimes is asked during grant proposals how radical his group is.

“In a way,” Kaleem said, “it is good that these missteps have come out in public so we can start talking about the undercurrent, which is the real issue.”

Obama himself has said “Christians and people of other faiths lived very comfortably” with each other when he lived in Indonesia. It is time for him to live comfortably with Muslims in his campaign.

In a 2006 trip to Chad, Obama issued the Muslim greeting for peace. A wise Obama would say “assalamu alaikum” at home, too.