• Fmr. US Amb to Iraq Jim Jeffrey: Now Gasping for Lameness

    May 14, 2013 // 8 Comments »

    Oh my! Retired, former U.S. Ambassador to Iraq James Jeffrey has turned into a real tiger.

    Now at the Washington Institute, a “think” tank, Jeffrey surveyed the current crumbling scene in Iraq from his office window (May is already boiling, and April was the bloodiest month there since 2008, with 712 killed, 1,633 wounded in sectarian violence) and wildly uncorked this remark:


    Obama should also signal his willingness to consider new approaches to Iraq if the Maliki government continues its campaign against the Sunni Arab and Kurdish populations.


    [Jon Stewart-type mug face to camera look now]

    OMG! A willingness, really? And to consider? And the stinger, a new approach?!?

    Hard hitting.

    Insightful.

    Utter bullshit. All the impact of a David Bowie-Justin Bieber slap fight.

    Heavens me, Prime Minister Maliki must be a’ quaking in his sandals. Maliki watched in 2010 as the U.S. stood aside and allowed Iran to broker the election that put him in power. He tried to arrest his Sunni VP practically hours after the last US troops left Iraq. He has seen the U.S. do nothing as he seeks to crush violently the Sunni and Kurd minorities over an extended period of time, including during Ambassador Jeffrey’s own lame tenure. Maliki has allowed Iran to tranship weapons into Syria across Iraq while the U.S. dithered from some dark corner.

    Maliki knows a defeated nation when he sees one. This is how America loses wars, former Ambassador Jeffrey.

    Grrrr!




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    Posted in Embassy/State, Iran, Iraq

    All About Oil: Former US Ambassador to Iraq Now Works for Exxon

    February 11, 2013 // 11 Comments »

    Demonstrating the core values of service and loyalty, former U.S. Ambassador to Iraq James Jeffrey now works directly for Exxon Mobile. Jeffrey was America’s man in Baghdad, helming the World’s Largest and Most Expensive Embassy there from 2010-2012.

    The problem Jeffrey was most likely hired to resolve is oil, specifically oil in Kurdistan. The Kurds live in the northern chunk of Iraq and have always wanted to be an independent nation, separate from the Sunni and Shia Arabs who fill up the rest of Iraq. The “issue” of Kurdistan is one of the many significant genies the U.S. let out of the bottle with the 2003 invasion of Iraq that was left unresolved.

    The Kurds have oil, which Exxon would like to have. In late 2011 as the U.S. military was sounding the call to retreat, Exxon Mobil, the world’s largest oil company, defied the instructions of the Baghdad government and signed a separate deal with the Iraqi Kurds to search for oil in the northern area of Iraq they control. To make matters worse, three of the areas Exxon signed up to explore are on territory in dispute.

    Now, in 2013, the Iraq central government is in a muscle tussle with Exxon. Exxon faces a dilemma over whether to operate in the south of the country or honor its deals with the autonomous Kurdistan region. Iraqi Prime Minister Malaki and his central government says the oil company can’t have both. Maliki last month made Exxon an offer in a bid to woo back the company, which had seemed intent on pulling out of the $50 billion oilfield in the south under the central government’s jurisdiction. The substance of Maliki’s offer to Exxon is not known, but industry sources describe it as substantial and say it is likely to involve sweet contract terms. The condition is that Exxon quit the northern Kurdish region.

    One in-the-know economist offered this insight into why Kurdish oil is so attractive to Exxon:

    For all its faults, the Baghdad-run awarding of oil contracts is as open and transparent as you can get in this sector. The Kurds on the other hand have a very murky process that allows for immense kickbacks and skimming. U.S. companies prefer working with the Kurds because they simply wave a wand and awards a high-cost contract, while Baghdad nitpicks about every single cost.

    So what’s a multi-national to do? Take the deal for the Shia south fields and abandon the likely richer northern Kurd fields? Why not hire a very recently ex-ambassador to pimp out his contacts with the Malaki government to see if you can score some crude from all sides? After all, since Jeffrey failed to positively affect the oil issue in Iraq as ambassador, what could possibly be wrong with him being hired as a consultant so that he, and Exxon, can profit from it?

    So, to recap:

    — Soldiers who fought in Iraq get killed, PTSD, record-high suicide rates, unemployment.

    — Regular State Department drones who worked in Iraq get nothing special.

    — Whistleblowers and those who pretend to be lose their jobs.

    — Contractors who keep their mouths shut get rewarded with similar well-paid positions in Afghanistan.

    — Ambassadors who stick to the party line get high-paid consulting gigs.




    Jeffrey is pictured above, playing some sort of obscene hand gesture game with the vice president.




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    Posted in Embassy/State, Iran, Iraq

    McGurk’s Wife Resigns from Wall Street Journal

    June 12, 2012 // 3 Comments »

    USA Today reports that Gina Chon, the most recent wife of Brett McGurk, ambassador-to-wanna-be-but-it-ain’t-gonna be nominee for Iraq has “been forced out of her job at the Wall Street Journal,” just days after saucy emails between her and her McGurk appeared on the Internet.

    USA Today politely adds that “The e-mails are also threatening to upend former White House adviser Brett McGurk’s nomination to the Baghdad post.”

    In a statement, the paper said that Gina Chon, a former Baghdad correspondent for the Journal, failed to notify her editor of her relationship with McGurk after the two became involved in 2008, and violated the company’s policy by sharing unpublished news articles with McGurk, then a member of the U.S. National Security Council in Iraq.

    “In 2008 Ms. Chon entered into a personal relationship with Mr. McGurk, which she failed to disclose to her editor,” the paper said in a statement. “At this time the Journal has found no evidence that her coverage was tainted by her relationship with Mr. McGurk.” A spokeswoman for the Journal declined to disclose details about the articles shared with McGurk.

    Well, at least she didn’t use that time-honored excuse of resigning to spend more time with her family.

    Now, it is time for McGurk to also do the honorable thing and bow out.

    Meanwhile, in the real world, HuffPo has a good article explaining how the most clear outcome of the US invasion of Iraq was to recreate the country as the newest ally of Iran, further hurting US efforts in the Middle East. McGurk should think himself lucky not to be ever-more tied to what is becoming one of the worst slow motion foreign policy train wrecks in American history.




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    Posted in Embassy/State, Iran, Iraq

    McGurk Senate Confirmation Hearing: Do the Emails Matter?

    June 6, 2012 // 10 Comments »

    US ambassadors in Iraq (and Afghanistan, and Pakistan…) seem to have the lifespan of Spinal Tap drummers.

    Our current man in Baghdad, James Jeffrey, is packing now and of the 220 million people in the US population, the only one the State Department can seem to come up with as a replacement is Brett McGurk. McGurk has his Senate confirmation hearing today.

    Linked In

    So let’s look at the resume of the guy America wants as the new ambassador to its pile of failed foreign policy doo doo, Brett McGurk:

    After law school and clerking, McGurk was a legal advisor to the Coalition Provisional Authority in Baghdad.

    Advisor to the last three US Ambassadors to Iraq: Jim Jeffrey, Christopher Hill and good ol’ Ryan Crocker.

    National Security Council, director for Iraq and later as senior director for Iraq and Afghanistan.

    Lead negotiator for the 2008 US-Iraq security agreement that extended the U.S. troop presence there until the end of 2011 and leader of the failed negotiations in 2011 to extend the US troop presence in Iraq even longer. On this last point Senator McCain has voiced concerns over McGurk’s nomination. Asked if he would try to block the nomination, McCain said, “I have to see what happens in his hearing.”


    McGurk is 38 years old and has never done any job other than help muck up Iraq on behalf of the United States. Dude only graduated in 1999. Despite essentially doing nothing but Iraq stuff his entire adult life, McGurk has also avoided learning any Arabic. You’d kind of think that maybe that wouldn’t be the resume for the next guy in charge of cleaning up some of his own mistakes, like maybe you’d want someone who had some… depth or experience or broad knowledge or understanding of something other than failure in that God-forsaken country. Normally when you are a hand maiden to failure you don’t get promoted, but then again, this is the State Department. This is almost as good as Harriet Miers.

    How could this possibly not work out?

    Well, it seems McGurk is not as popular at the State Department as he would probably like to believe. The objections among the voiceless unwashed at State are that he is associated with pretty much everything that went wrong since 2003 and not in line with the “new beginning” meme State is still trying to sell, and he is so close to divisive Iraqi Prime Minister Malaki that it will be even harder for State to engage across the political spectrum in the “new” Iraq.

    The leaks out of Foggy Bottom have not been kind to McGurk. Some have claimed he is party to a sex tape filmed on the Republican Palace roof (I haven’t seen it, so don’t write in).

    The Alleged Emails from 2008

    Now, the latest leak shows the intrepid McGurk in his own words, or actually what purport to be his romantic-y emails from Baghdad in 2008 (I didn’t post them, I don’t know where they came from, don’t write in). The messages, to a reporter some have linked romantically to McGurk, are full of references to “blue balls” and “exercises” to relieve same, and plans for the two to meet up if McGurk can shake his security “goons.”

    If these emails are authentic, and I have no way to verify them (let’s ask State!), they raise questions about McGurk’s relationship with a reporter covering the news McGurk was creating, as well as his discretion and judgment. These emails would also raise questions about why the State Department would seek to withhold information that might be of interest to the Senate in assessing McGurk’s suitability to be ambassador to Iraq.

    I myself could care less what two adults agree to do, married or not, but State has disciplined its own Foreign Service Officers for extra marital affairs, and cautions against using official email for too-personal correspondence. Always want to keep an eye on double-standards so they don’t negatively influence morale among the troops.

    In the end, I’m sure that Iraq will just keep on being all it can be, as long as America sends her its best.



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    Posted in Embassy/State, Iran, Iraq

    US Defense Contractors Win Iraq War

    December 5, 2011 // Comments Off

    Good news for troubled times– the US is going to drop $6.5 billion keeping the World’s Largest Embassy (c), our palace along the Tigris River in Baghdad, warm and cozy. Plus, we’ll thrown in some refugee support!

    “We are standing up an embassy to carry out a $6.5 billion program, when you throw in the refugee programs as well as the actual State Department budget for 2012, of assistance in support for Iraq on a very broad variety of security and non-security issues,” US Ambassadorial tool James Jeffrey told reporterse.

    “The direct budget, operating and assistance (to Iraq), was $6.2 billion,” Jeffrey said. There is also “a little less than $300 million that goes to refugee and displaced person programmes.”

    “It doesn’t come directly onto the Iraq account… but we get a very significant part of that here, and it’s used by other agencies and activities for example in Jordan and Syria,” home of sizeable Iraqi refugee communities.

    And for those still pondering who won the war in Iraq, it seems we now have a clue: US defense contractors.

    Ambassador Jeffrey said that “We have about $8 billion, give or take some, of active (foreign military sales) cases with Iraq. That’s not counting the new one that just came out for the F-16s. That will send it up by a number of additional billions of dollars. This is one of the biggest programmes in the world.”

    Not related in any way whatsoever, the World Bank had this to say about 2011 Iraq:


    Iraqi living standards have two unusual characteristics. First, they have fallen over the past generation. Second, they feature surprisingly little inequality. These characteristics are both rooted in Iraq’s recent history of authoritarian government, war, military occupation, insurgency, and civil strife leading to infrastructure destruction and population displacement.

    There have been few opportunities for individuals to prosper from professional or entrepreneurial activities. Decades of neglected investment have resulted in deterioration of social services and economic infrastructure. Consequently, individuals have lacked capabilities to prosper and an investment climate conducive to prosperity. School enrollment and life expectancy have declined. Extremely low returns to education reflect the combination of poor educational quality and lack of employment opportunities. In terms of economic infrastructure, access to reliable electricity and water, and even access to paved roads are low, are further reflections of decades of neglect.

    And that my friends is the sound of freedom.



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    Copyright © 2014. All rights reserved. The views expressed here are solely those of the author(s) in their private capacity. Follow me on Twitter!

    Posted in Embassy/State, Iran, Iraq

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