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Is Obama Falsifying Legacy and Legality of Iraq War — and Crimea?


Activists and legal experts are criticizing President Obama’s remarks in Brussels on Wednesday on war and international law. Among other things, Obama claimed: “But even in Iraq, America sought to work within the international system. We did not claim or annex Iraq’s territory. We did not grab its resources for our own gain. Instead, we ended our war and left Iraq to its people in a fully sovereign Iraqi state that can make decisions about its own future.”

MATT HOWARD, mattwhoward at ivaw.org
Howard is communications director for Iraq Veterans Against the War, which just helped organize the People’s Hearing on the Lasting Impact of the Iraq War on Wednesday night in Washington D.C., moderated by Phil Donahue. See righttoheal.org for video of the event and other materials. Howard can also connect media to other participants in the event.

See from Commondreams.org: “Anger, Disbelief as Obama Defends U.S. Invasion of Iraq” and “#RightToHeal: 11 Years On, Bearing Witness to Iraq War’s Lasting Harm,” which quotes several participants in Wednesday’s event, including Mozhgan Savabieasfahani, an environmental toxicologist (see New York Times story: “Environmental Poisoning’ of Iraq Is Claimed“), Kristi Casteel, mother of IVAW member Joshua Casteel, Rebekah Lampman, IVAW member who spoke about sexual assault and Yanar Mohammed, president and co-founder of the Organization of Women’s Freedom in Iraq, who addressed how the U.S. invasion fostered sectarian war and other issues. Mohammed recently appeared on the program “Democracy Now!

JOHN QUIGLEY, Quigley.2 at osu.edu
Professor emeritus of international law at Ohio State University, Quigley dealt with conflicts between Ukraine and Russia arising from the breakup of the USSR on behalf of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe. He recently wrote the piece “Finding a Way Forward for Crimea,” for the Cambridge Journal of International and Comparative Law.

He said today: “Mr. Obama is failing to focus on what is appropriate as a status for Crimea, which is the center of the present conflict. He is not giving weight to the fact that the population of Crimea considers Crimea to be part of Russia historically, and that it saw no reason why Crimea should be part of Ukraine once the USSR broke up. He challenges Mr. Putin’s point that the population of Crimea was under threat. Whether that is so or not, one still has to consider the right of self-determination of the people of Crimea.”

FRANCIS BOYLE, fboyle at illinois.edu
Boyle is a professor at the University of Illinois College of Law. His books include Foundations of World Order (Duke University Press: 1999). He said today: “In March 2003 the United States launched an illegal and criminal war of aggression against Iraq based on false pretexts, a Nuremberg Crime against Peace. The United States destroyed Iraq as a functioning state and effectively carved-up Iraq de facto into three mini-statelets that are at war with each other today, killing an estimated 1.4 million Iraqis in the process. Suicide bombings in Iraq continue to be a fact of everyday life. By comparison, the Russian annexation of Crimea was almost bloodless.”

Obama, Saudi Arabia and “Reactionary Violence”


President Obama begins his visit to Saudi Arabia on Friday.

TOBY C. JONES, tobycjones at yahoo.com, @tobycraigjones
Jones is an associate professor of history at Rutgers University and author of the book Desert Kingdom: How Oil and Water Forged Modern Saudi Arabia. He said today: “The U.S. must rethink its relationship with Saudi Arabia. While many in Washington believe that our long-standing partners in Riyadh are the least worst option in the Middle East, the reality is that the kingdom is a dangerous and destabilizing actor. Saudi Arabia is a violent place, with an oppressive regime, that has doggedly pursued the path of counter-revolution since 2011. It seeks not stability nor security for residents across the Middle East. Rather, Saudi leaders seek domination and are supporting reactionary violence in places like Egypt, Bahrain and Syria to help them achieve it.”

ALI AL-AHMED, via Chidinma Zik-Ikeorha, externalaffairs at gulfinstitute.org, @AliAlAhmed_en
Director of the Institute for Gulf Affairs, al-Ahmed said today: “Obama should end the current U.S. policy of ignoring the rights and aspirations of the Arab people in the Arabian Peninsula. The U.S. has no credibility on human rights without publicly confronting the Saudi monarchy on its dire human rights record and its destruction of the Arab people’s desire for freedom and progress.”

VIJAY PRASHAD, Vijay.Prashad at trincoll.edu, @vijayprashad
Edward Said chair at American University in Beirut, Prashad is co-editor of Dispatches from the Arab Spring. He said today: “Obama is going to Saudi Arabia because the Sultans of Arabia have gone at each other’s throats. The Qatar-KSA [Kingdom of Saudi Arabia] feud has damaged the fragile unity built up since 1979 with the creation of the GCC [Gulf Cooperation Council] and the coordination of their policy over the past three decades. Qatari gas gives the little emirate independence, which allowed it to become the patron of the Muslim Brotherhood — a group that the KSA does not support. Disputes between these countries predates the war in Syria and the Arab Spring. Some of it has to do with KSA’s very strong position against Iran which is not shared on the peninsula. Will the U.S. be able to patch things up? Unlikely. The transition in Qatar did not solve the KSA’s grouse, and nor will Obama’s visit.”

Did Wall Street and Tea Party Win? Does Obama Want to Cut Social Security?


http://www.accuracy.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/Social_Security_Cards.jpgCNN reports: “Seniors to Get Small Social Security Increase in 2014.”

ARUN GUPTA, arun.indypendent at gmail.com
Independent journalist and regular contributor to AlterNet, Truthout and the Guardian, Gupta is a co-founder of the Occupied Wall Street Journal and the Indypendent.

He said today: “Let’s not forget Obama has been trying to introduce severe austerity ever since he got into office. In January 2009 he told the Washington Post he wanted to cut Social Security and Medicare. He has legitimized the discourse of deficit reduction when it’s all voodoo economics. He wants to cut corporate taxes. He turned the Bush tax cuts into a bargaining chip when he could have swept them away in early 2009.

“One important point that seems to have slipped completely below the radar is how the markets reacted. There was never a fear premium, meaning Wall Street never thought the default was a danger. But related to that is this idea that the Tea Party is some rogue element no longer controlled by big business. If there was real fear that the Tea Party would do damage to the economy you would have seen the markets plunge, which would have forced them into line very quickly. Additionally, there is no evidence that corporations will pull their money from the GOP. Led by the Tea Party, they are still pushing for measures to cut taxes on the wealthy, eliminate regulations and cripple organized labor. That’s the Wall Street agenda, and that’s why they are the big winners in this whole affair.”

Gupta wrote the piece for the Progressive: “Don’t Let Obama Cut Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security.”

He notes the Washington Post piece from 2009 “Obama Pledges Entitlement Reform President-Elect Says He’ll Reshape Social Security, Medicare Programs.”