’s Week in Review | December 16, 2011’s Week in Review | December 16, 2011


  • Was the Iraq War worth it?
  • U.S.-Pakistan ties growing cold
  • "Winning" in Afghanistan
  • Iran and the lost drone
  • Assorted news from the empire
  • What’s new at the blog?
  • Opinion
  • Antiwar Radio

Worth the Blood & Money in Iraq?

Marking the official end of the U.S. war in Iraq, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta told a military audience in Baghdad that it was worth the price in blood and money because it set Iraq on a path to democracy. The war killed hundreds of thousands of innocent people and about 4,500 Americans, and it cost at least $800 billion. This is all for a democracy that Iraqis don’t have, as an Iraqi deputy prime minister said this week that the U.S.-supported Maliki regime is becoming a dictatorship.

Iraqis burned the American flag upon the departure of the last occupation forces. But signs are still cropping up that the occupation of Iraq is in some ways carrying on, as the Obama administration continues its effort to get Iraq to grant legal immunity for U.S. defense contractors remaining there beyond 2012. The mercenary company formerly known as Blackwater Inc. is also vying for new contracts to march back into Iraq.

U.S.-Pakistan Ties Growing Cold

With a long trail of grievances, including the November U.S. attack that killed 24 soldiers at a Pakistani outpost, Pakistan is rethinking its cooperation with the U.S. On key policies like providing supply routes to NATO troops in Afghanistan, providing logistics support for U.S. counterterrorism, and allowing a CIA presence in the country, Pakistan is looking to alter its approach. The blockade on NATO supply routes may last several weeks, and there have been hints that the U.S. drone war in Pakistan will cease to be condoned by the Pakistani government.

Making matters worse, U.S. Ambassador to Pakistan Cameron Munter told Pakistan to "get beyond" complaints about the latest U.S. attack. And the U.S. has frozen about $700 million in Pakistani aid as punishment for a lack of cooperation in the war in Afghanistan.

"Winning" in Afghanistan, and Never Leaving

Secretary of State Leon Panetta said this week that "we’re winning" in Afghanistan. What this means is anyone’s guess, given that no measurable progress has been presented. Winning apparently doesn’t involve pulling out of the country, as yet another NATO military official made clear occupying forces were not leaving in 2014.

Meanwhile, the U.S. is expanding its program of building up and supporting an Afghan local police force, which in March 2011 Gen. David Petraeus said was "arguably the most critical element in our effort to help Afghanistan develop the capacity to secure itself." But the Afghan police have committed widespread human rights abuses, including murder, torture, theft, arbitrary detention, and rape. The brutal policy of night raids is also still in force.

Lost Spy Drones and "Unfriendly Acts"

Even as President Obama politely asked Iran to return the recovered U.S. surveillance drone, U.S. officials publicly admitted that the drone was part of a spy operation against Iran. Iran’s foreign minister this week demanded that Afghanistan not let the U.S. launch drone operations from Afghan bases, saying if they continued they would be seen as "an unfriendly act."

Meanwhile, even as the secretary general of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) reiterated that there is no evidence of an Iranian nuclear weapons program, the House of Representatives passed yet more economic sanctions against Iran.

Assorted News From the Empire

What’s New at the Blog?

Matt Barganier blogged about the very un-libertarian views of a self-professed libertarian, Frank Gaffney’s confusion about "isolationism," and Dave Weigel’s apparent affirmation of Newt Gingrich’s lousy history lesson. James Bovard pointed out his efforts on Fox News to expose the failure of foreign aid. Saifedean Ammous posted a critique of Christopher Hitchens, who died on Thursday. Coleen Rowley explained the danger of politicizing "terror." John Glaser blogged about Obama’s breach of the War Powers Act in Uganda, what NDAA means for Guantanamo, why Iraqis might not be so grateful to America, the continuing tyranny of Obama’s pet Uzbek dictator, the U.S. role in the El Mozote massacre in El Salvador, the push for peaceful market alternatives for the U.S. approach to the drug war, and how nonintervention is labeled "extreme" when it comes to Israel.


Justin Raimondo posted classic essays from past years, notably one on the rise of empire in America and another on the myth that "exporting democracy" is a legitimate foreign policy. Philip Giraldi discussed the seemingly inevitable war with Iran. Ivan Eland explained why America should not be preaching democracy and human rights to other nations. Kelley B. Vlahos examined the legacy of the Iraq war, noting that there’s no comfort in being right about that terrible misadventure.

Antiwar Radio

Scott Horton had Kate Gould on to talk about the total lack of diplomacy attempted with Iran. Jason Ditz discussed Egypt’s junta subverting democracy, Iran’s recovery of the U.S. drone, and the potential for a new Libyan civil war. Philip Giraldi expanded on his article, revealing secret presidential findings that authorize covert war in Iran and Syria. Eric Margolis talked about what’s not being talked about regarding the troubles in Syria. Lew Rockwell discussed how the militant nationalism and belligerent foreign policy in America smacks of fascism. Sheldon Richman told the truth about Gingrich’s poke at Palestinians. John Glaser explained that the Iraq and Afghanistan wars are not improving or ending. Will Grigg warned of the rise of domestic drones and the police state. Glenn Greenwald talked about the defense authorization bill and indefinite detention of Americans.


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One thought on “’s Week in Review | December 16, 2011”

  1. By ThinkProgress War Room: A Hard Fought Victory

    "The end of the Iraq War is a victory for the nation, a victory for our men and women in uniform, and a victory for the progressive moment — which fought tirelessly to mobilize the public against the war, change the debate, change the Congress, and elect a president who would bring the war to a responsible end."


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