• Sour Grapes: Iran Wins the Iraq War, and I Scooped the NYT by Six Years on the Story

    July 23, 2017

    Tags: , ,
    Posted in: Embassy/State, Iran, Iraq


    The New York Times is featuring a piece stating Iran is the big winner of the U.S.-Iraq wars, 1991-2017.

    So what does winning in Iraq look like, asks the Times? About like this:

    A Shia-dominated government is in Baghdad, beholden to Tehran for its security post-ISIS. Shia thug militias, an anti-Sunni and Kurd force in waiting, are fully integrated into the otherwise-failed national Iraqi military. There are robust and growing economic ties between the two nations. An Iraqi security structure will never threaten Iran again. A corridor between Iran and Syria will allow arms and fighters to flow westward in support of greater Iranian geopolitical aims in the Middle East. And after one trillion in U.S. taxpayer dollars spent, and 4,500 Americans killed in hopes of making Iraq the cornerstone of a Western-facing Middle East, American influence in Iraq limited.

    It seems the Times is surprised by the conclusion; it’s “news” for some apparently. The newspaper ran the story on its hometown edition front page.

    But sorry, it wasn’t news to me. I tried writing basically the same story in 2010 as a formal reporting cable for the State Department. Nobody wanted to hear it.

    At the time I was assigned to Iraq as an American diplomat, with some 20 years of field experience, embedded at a rural forward operating base. All the things that took until 2017 to become obvious to the New York Times were available to anyone on the ground back then with the eyes to see.

    The problem was what I wrote could never get cleared past my boss, and was never allowed to be sent to Washington. The Obama administration message was that America had won in Mesopotamia, and that we would be withdrawing to focus our national efforts on Afghanistan. “Everything that American troops have done in Iraq — all the fighting, all the dying, the bleeding and the building and the training and the partnering, all of it has landed to this moment of success,” said Barack Obama. “We’re leaving behind a sovereign, stable and self reliant Iraq.”

    So it was off-message – I was off-message – and thus needed to be ignored. The area where I was assigned in Iraq had a heavy Iranian presence, both special forces working with Iraqi Shia militias to help kill Americans, and Iranian traders and businessmen selling agricultural products (the Iranian watermelons were among the best I’ve ever eaten.) Bus loads of Iranian tourists were everywhere. Most were religious pilgrims, visiting special Shia sites, including mosques that had been converted by Saddam into Sunni places of worship which had been restored to their original Shia status, often with Iranian money, following America’s “victory.”

    In fact, somewhere in Iran are a tourist’s photos of me and his family, posing together in the area outside Salman Pak. He begged me for the souvenir photo op, never having met an American before, telling me about the small local hotel he hoped to finance for Iranian pilgrims in the future. I’d sure like a copy of the picture if he somehow reads this.

    Even after my boss deep-sixed my reporting in 2010, I still thought there was something to this Iranian thing. So I spoke to the designated “Iran Watcher” at the American Embassy in Baghdad. Her job was to monitor and report on Iran-related news out of Iraq, albeit from well inside the air conditioned Green Zone, without ever speaking to an Iranian or worrying that her convoy might be blown up by an Iranian Special Forces IED.

    I told her about the watermelons, those delicious Iranian fruits which were flooding the markets in the boonies where I lived. The melons were putting enormous pressure on Iraqi farmers, whose fruit was neither as tasty nor as government subsidized. The State Department Iran Watcher was quick to point out that I must be wrong about the Iranian fruit, because she had only yesterday been in a meeting with the Iraqi agricultural minister who had explained the Iraqi government’s efforts to seal the border had been wholly successful; she’d seen a translated report! Things went downhill from there, and the Embassy offered only canned peaches in syrup at lunch. Damn things tasted like the can, and there was a joke about the truth being too bitter to swallow I was too tired to make.

    A year later, 2011, back in Washington DC, I set down the same broad ideas about Iran victorious in layperson’s terms and was turned down as an op-ed by the New York Times, the Washington Post, and others. One editor said “So you’re telling Barack Obama he’s wrong? That the surge failed, the war wasn’t won, all those dead Americans were for nothing and Iran came out on top? Seriously?” I was made to feel like I was wearing a skirt in an NFL locker room.

    The best I could do with the knowledge I had that in yet another way the war had been for nothing was to settle for being treated as a kind of novelty, a guest blogger at Foreign Policy. Here’s the article I wrote there, scooping the New York Times by six years.

    As for the U.S. government, I’m still not sure they’ve gotten the story on Iraq.

     

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    Copyright © 2017. All rights reserved. The views expressed here are solely those of the author(s) in their private capacity. Follow me on Twitter!

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  • Recent Comments

    • John Poole said...

      1

      Israel can’t be pleased with such an outcome. Were they as powerless as the USA in preventing Iran’s ascendance? I’m skeptical.

      07/23/17 7:46 AM | Comment Link

    • Mitch said...

      2

      Peter.

      Be careful.

      This is a public blog…. These “off message ” people….. They are a vengeful lot.

      You left out the names to protect the dumb…. Should have put them in…..

      After all….. As you have pointed out repeatedly….. There were no mass resignations from the state department.

      M

      07/23/17 8:34 AM | Comment Link

    • RICH BAUER said...

      3

      So Powell was wrong. We broke it and Iran owns it.

      When are we digging another hole in the ground on the National Mall to symbolize another waste of men and women?

      07/23/17 9:13 AM | Comment Link

    • RICH BAUER said...

      4

      Can we get dickhead Cheney to lead the burial brigade?

      07/23/17 9:18 AM | Comment Link

    • RICH BAUER said...

      5

      And George Tenet can help…as soon as he wipes the blood off his hands.

      07/23/17 9:19 AM | Comment Link

    • John Poole said...

      6

      Bauer- and Iran is still hunting for Powell’s mobile bio weapons labs. Evidently they are now flummoxed but did happen upon an ice cream truck with some pretty rancid stuff inside. They’re testing it as I type.

      07/23/17 12:14 PM | Comment Link

    • Bruce said...

      7

      07/23/17 9:40 PM | Comment Link

    • Chuck said...

      8

      Vote often?

      07/23/17 10:08 PM | Comment Link

    • John Poole said...

      9

      Kens Burns is already working on IRAQ- “How it went down”.
      It will be 20 hours and 18 episodes now that he has finished with pasteurizing America’s folly in IndoChina. A fitting final motto for American Empire might be, “The Truth was Unacceptable.”

      07/24/17 9:48 AM | Comment Link

    • RICH BAUER said...

      10

      The truth is the killing machine has to keep killing or it dies…and we cant have that, right?

      07/24/17 9:57 AM | Comment Link

    • John Poole said...

      11

      Bauer. Right, America as a huge insatiable killing machine is an unacceptable fact (for Americans only of course)

      07/24/17 10:13 AM | Comment Link

    • Kyzl Orda said...

      12

      There’s a long history on stifling reporting in that region, so you are in good company.

      Think it is in Professor James Bill’s book, “The Eagle and the Lion: The Tragedy of American-Iranian Relations,” where he describes how Foreign Service Officers stationed in Iran were drummed out of the Foreign Service for trying to report on discontent and potential uprisings and warn the folks back in Washington but the neo-cons parked at State didn’t want to hear such non-niceties. Would be interesting if someone interviewed those foreign service officers for a retrospective on mistakes in foreign policy-making.

      So much could be done with the positions you would think people with related language skills and area knowledge might be filled. Instead we get the folks who like to be spoon fed and hosted for expensive dinners with officials. They are great communicators but you can see why everything gets past them, sadly including the bad actors. It’s the Sargent Schultz School of Throught: Say nothing, nothing!

      07/24/17 12:00 PM | Comment Link

    • Kyzl Orda said...

      13

      On the positive side, glad the New York Times finally figured something out. Their reporting on the region has been anemic at best. It takes alot of effort to have to leave the bar at the currently most popular and expensive hotels

      07/24/17 12:03 PM | Comment Link

    • Kyzl Orda said...

      14

      John: Is Ken Burns really doing an Iraq documentary?

      07/24/17 12:06 PM | Comment Link

    • Kyzl Orda said...

      15

      The NY Times article title is misleading – “Iran Dominates in Iraq After U.S. ‘Handed the Country Over.”

      The Times knows how to play the game with its use of ‘after.’ Iran’s influence came before not after, including when Iraqi government officials who had spent much of their exile in Iran were brought back to Iraq. Ahmed Chalabi, the neo-con darling, was known to be pro-Iran, too. Surely the Times remembers covering him in their post invasion articles

      07/24/17 12:23 PM | Comment Link

    • John Poole said...

      16

      Kyzi- i was being sardonic about Burns and Iraq. Such a “treatment” will most likely happen way after Burns has retired but it will be a whitewash. Americans just don’t do remorse, regret or shame. Those emotions are only for flawed peoples- certainly not a nation doing God’s work. There won’t be a course correction for the great American Empire freighter/carrier because that would imply mistakes were made. Americans just don’t mess up or make mistakes. God wouldn’t allow it.

      07/24/17 12:36 PM | Comment Link

    • RICH BAUER said...

      17

      Who’s works is this?

      Three Square Market — a developer of software used in vending machines — is offering all of its employees the “option” to get a RFIDmicrochip implanted between the thumb and forefinger. The chips would allow those employees who volunteer to participate in the program to open doors, pay for purchases, share business cards, store medical information, pay for stuff at other RFID terminals and login to their computers…all with a wave of the hand. Of course, good luck trying to pay for stuff, open doors etc if you dont have one.

      “Eventually, this technology will become standardized allowing you to use this as your passport, public transit, all purchasing opportunities, etc.”chief executive Todd Westby wrote in a blog post announcing the program, claiming it would be the first of its kind in the United States.

      Wow, what will they think of next?

      07/24/17 1:33 PM | Comment Link

    • RICH BAUER said...

      18

      Hello, I must be going: Rex threatening to leave the Trump Gong Show?

      Spicer, Sessions, Tillerson. Who is next?

      07/25/17 9:13 AM | Comment Link

    • John Poole said...

      19

      Bauer- Tillerson to leave? Leave what? I’ve forgotten what he was supposed to be doing or heading for the past six months. Was he actually leading and heading anything? He might be headed now to the Pentagon where his Exxon creds will get him a nice office with staff and less scrutiny and aggravation.

      07/25/17 12:23 PM | Comment Link

    • RICH BAUER said...

      20

      Will somebody please get Trumpie Jeff Sessions phone number? Trumpie has been trying to get in contact with him for a week.

      07/25/17 12:49 PM | Comment Link

    • chuck said...

      21

      The Empire is falling. “God Bless the Queen” or whatever. Have a nice day! Wage Peace…

      07/25/17 1:06 PM | Comment Link

    • jhoover said...

      22

      Peter said:

      But sorry, it wasn’t news to me. I tried writing basically the same story in 2010 as a formal reporting cable for the State Department. Nobody wanted to hear it.

      Yes, Tareq Aziz warns of this scheme the Court 13 years ago. A vision is the most horrible pictures and heavily, though actually exceeded in some picture within this prophecy, no how, no doubt, never expected to die days stuck in this home! And reading of events as soon as they knead kneaded him man of prophecy and politics.

      Tariq Aziz was hosted by BBC, asked by British channels in 1996, the host asked him:

      BBC:

      How do you deal with the Iraqi opposition.

      Aziz said:

      There is no Iraqi opposition.

      BBC:

      How there and those who hold seminars in London and Tehran.

      Aziz said:

      Those not Iraqi opposition. they are thieves and assassins working for mercenaries funded and paid by States. And not for the benefit of their country

      After the year 2003 indicate that these bunch of rogues and monsters breaking that live on blood as well as they (customers) are rude and thirsty don’t belong to any religion and proceeded. Today’s political elite and elite enjoyed all the privileges and wealth often uneven, often heard about financial scandals of senior politicians and bombshell out on television screens recognize it.

      07/25/17 3:17 PM | Comment Link

    • jhoover said...

      23

      Peter
      You been in Iraq, did you spoke to normal Iraqis (main stream Iraqis not those cane with your troop) did you asked them about those individuals who call them Opposition cam from US, Britain, Iran, Syria?

      Let put the names:
      Ahamd CHalabi
      Nure Al-Maliki
      Ibrahim Al-Jaafari
      Al-Hakeem
      Abdul-Majid al-Khoei
      Ali Sistani

      and all others who call them opposition to Iraqi regime, what they answer you or other US personal?

      Tariq Aziz

      07/25/17 3:27 PM | Comment Link

    • jhoover said...

      24

      07/25/17 5:35 PM | Comment Link

    • RICH BAUER said...

      25

      That is real leadership there, Mattis.

      In May 2004, Mattis ordered the 3 a.m. bombing of a suspected enemy safe house near the Syrian border, which later came to be known as the Mukaradeeb wedding party massacre, and which resulted in the deaths of 42 civilians. Mattis stated that it had taken him 30 seconds to deliberate on bombing the location. Describing the wedding as implausible, he said “How many people go to the middle of the desert … to hold a wedding 80 miles (130km) from the nearest civilization? These were more than two dozen military-age males. Let’s not be naive.”[31] The Associated Press obtained video footage appearing to show a wedding party, although the occurrence of a wedding was disputed by U.S. military officials.

      Oops Op.

      07/25/17 5:58 PM | Comment Link

    • jhoover said...

      26

      I Spent My Early Years In Iraq During Saddam’s Worst Days — Here’s What Life Was Like
      Read more at

      07/26/17 12:30 AM | Comment Link

    • jhoover said...

      27

      Hearts And Minds

      Ali Allawi – Occupation of Iraq: Winning the War, Losing the Peacelisten carfully @11.50m

      07/26/17 1:47 AM | Comment Link

    • jhoover said...

      28

      It should come as no surprise to anyone who is even moderately aware of how US foreign policy and propaganda has historically operated, that the demonization of Maliki is directly linked to the inability of Washington to control him or, to put it another way, his refusal to accept US diktats. Consequently, he has been made into a villain, rather than a leader attempting to establish independent institutions in a country in which all institutions were created by the authority of a military occupation. So, the question then becomes, is Maliki simply trying to consolidate all power to himself? Or has Maliki been attempting to purge his government of US agents, clients, puppets, and other assorted front men? As is so often the case, the answer will lie somewhere in the middle.

      Washington, Tehran, and Maliki’s “Sins”
      https://journal-neo.org/2014/07/03/the-strange-case-of-nouri-al-maliki/

      07/26/17 1:57 AM | Comment Link

    • RICH BAUER said...

      29

      Since we havent won a war since 1945, it is not surprising as the military apparently is a bunch of limp dicks who cant stand at ahem attention.

      Fox News and the U.K.’s Daily Mail noted that the Pentagon spent more than $500,000 for Viagra in 2014.

      That’s a lot of money — but the figure wasn’t even close to the real amount spent by the Defense Department for that erectile dysfunction drug and others.

      According to data from the Defense Health Agency, DoD actually spent $41.6 million on Viagra — and $84.24 million total on erectile dysfunction prescriptions — last year.

      Trumpie should get a handle on that waste of taxpayer money with his tiny fingers.

      07/26/17 1:42 PM | Comment Link

    • jhoover said...

      30

      Peter,
      To support my early comment about what Iraqis knew about the thugs US brought them and fill the power vacuum and you should be knew or at least aware what US dealing with thugs proxy Iranians personal US support them and G W Bush delighted of Freedom and democracy he brings to Iraq.
      May I bring your attention way back when G. W. Bush propaganda of meeting Iraqi opposition. Citizen of Iraq in White House represent by Ali Al-Attar.??
      Ali Attar he is Iranian from Lebanon not Iraq he is picked by you senior white house representing Citizen of Iraq

      What laughable matter, you do not know with whom you dealing with.
      Same guys, thugs, liars, and corrupt Iranian Proxy keep surrounding US elites telling lies they are Iraqis.
      More about Ali Attar read this
      House Dem IT Staffers Owed Money To Hezbollah-Connected Fugitive

      So go read well this A Guide to Iranian Backed Organisaed Paramilitry Militias in Iraq

      07/26/17 5:06 PM | Comment Link

    • chuck said...

      31

      The “Mooch” info is at Wiki.

      07/27/17 7:03 AM | Comment Link

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