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Aug 27th, 2009

9/12/09 Update: It is reported that U.S. Reps. Michele Bachmann and Ron Paul will speak to students at the University of Minnesota on Sept. 25. The “student town hall” forum will take place at 7 p.m. at Northrop Auditorium on the Twin Cities campus. The topics will be “monetary reform, limited government and free market economics,” according to a news release from Bachmann’s office.


Bachmann to Host Town Hall with Rep. Ron Paul

Rep. Michele Bachmann and Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) (, Flickr)
Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) and Rep. Ron Paul (R-Tex.)

By Andy Birkey
The Minnesota Independent
August 24, 2009

In an interview with AM 1280 on Saturday, Rep. Michele Bachmann announced that she will have Rep. Ron Paul as her guest for a September town hall forum in St. Cloud.

“I’ll be doing another town hall up in the St. Cloud area in September and we’ll do that on monetary policy. Ron Paul is going to come in and we are going to host something on monetary policy,” Bachmann said.

Bachmann is a convert to the Ron Paul movement, sometimes attending the congressman’s weekly lunches.

“I especially want to speak to the 19- to 20-year olds so they can know what their future will be under this level of debt accumulation and spending,” she added about the forum. “They need to know their future. And so I’m bringing him in so we can have a discussion on monetary policy.”



I hold Rep. Ron Paul in high regard with respect to his views on foreign policy, particularly his opposition to the Bush doctrine. That’s why it’s disappointing to see Dr. Paul share the stage with Michele Bachmann, who acted as a cheerleader and congressional rubberstamp for the Bush administration’s neocon policies.

Here are some Bachmann quotes from her 2006 congressional campaign, when the situation in Iraq was at its very worst, with sectarian factions on the brink of civil war:

Michele Bachmann’s campaign platform includes “supporting the war in Iraq.” (St. Cloud Times, May 7, 2006)

Bachmann: “The American people are responding overwhelmingly to the progress we’ve made in Iraq recently.” (St. Cloud Times, July 2, 2006)

Bachmann: “It’s difficult to define victory, but … we’ve had very good news on that score.” (St. Cloud Times, Sept. 21, 2006)

“Bachmann … stuck to her guns, supporting Bush’s prosecution of the war in Iraq.” (St. Cloud Times, Sept. 22, 2006)

Bachmann “reiterated her support for Bush’s prosecution of the war in Iraq, saying that ‘we have made tremendous progress.'” (St. Cloud Times, Oct. 8, 2006)

And then there are her infamous remarks to Lawrence Schumacher of the St. Cloud Times in February 2007, about a nonexistent secret plan to partition Iraq:

Iran is the troublemaker trying to tip over apple carts all over Baghdad right now because they want America to pull out. … they’re going to partition Iraq and half of Iraq, the western-northern portion of Iraq is going to be called the United … umm … the … umm … I am sorry I can’t remember the actual name of it right now.

But its going to be called … the … umm … Iraq State of Islam, something like that. I am sorry I don’t have the official name. It is meant to be the training ground for the terrorists.

There’s already an agreement made, they are going to get half of Iraq and that is going to be a terrorist-free … umm … terrorist safe haven zone where they can go ahead and make more attacks in the Middle East region and then to come against the United States, because we are their avowed enemy.



Afghan Summer Brings Reversals

Setbacks include rising casualties, divisive election and growing doubts

Two nuns watch as the procession of Army Staff Sgt. Clayton Bowen, 29, passes in San Antonio, Tuesday, Aug. 25, 2009. Bowen was killed in action Aug. 18 after he was struck by an improvised explosive device in Afghanistan. (Photo credit: Eric Gay / AP)

Analysis by Robert H. Reid

August 26, 2009


KABUL — It’s been a summer of setbacks in Afghanistan — with rising casualties, a divisive election and growing public doubts about the war in the United States and among key allies.

The year began with President Barack Obama promising a new beginning for an old war — long ignored and underfunded by the Bush administration as the spotlight fell on the conflict in Iraq. …

Effort appears to falter

Months later, the American effort appears to be faltering. …

The image of Afghan politicians squabbling in Kabul at a time when American and other international soldiers are dying on the battlefield is grimly reminiscent of the darkest days of the Iraq war, when political stagnation in Baghdad helped turn U.S. public opinion against the Bush administration’s policy in the 2006 congressional election.

Nearly 300 international troops have been killed in Afghanistan this year, making this the deadliest year since the conflict began in 2001. Two U.S. service members were killed Wednesday in separate attacks in southern and eastern Afghanistan, raising the August death toll to 43 — one short of the July figure which was the highest monthly total of the war.

No sign of retreat for insurgents

At the same time, the insurgents show no sign of shrinking from the fight. With U.S. and British troops focusing operations in Helmand province, the Taliban have quietly tightened their grip in neighboring Kandahar, where a vehicle bomb attack Tuesday killed at least 41 people in an assault that appeared directed at foreign interests in the city. …

U.S. officials have made little effort to gloss over the problems, perhaps mindful of the backlash that stung the Bush administration after years of false optimism in Iraq.

Support for war is wavering

Last weekend, Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, described the situation in Afghanistan as “serious and deteriorating” and told CNN that “I don’t think that threat’s going to go away.”

All this comes as public support for the war both in the United States and Britain is wavering.

A recent Washington Post-ABC News poll found that just over half the respondents said the war in Afghanistan was not worth fighting. A survey last month in Britain found that 58 percent of the respondents believe the war is unwinnable and 52 percent wanted British troops withdrawn immediately. …



Powerful Iraqi Shiite Leader Dies

Image: Abdul-Aziz al-Hakim
Abdul-Aziz al-Hakim, the leader of the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq. Influential clerics say one of Iraq’s most powerful Shiite leaders has died after his health deteriorated while he was being treated for lung cancer. Abdul-Aziz al-Hakim has wielded enormous influence since the 2003 U.S. invasion as head of the Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council, maintaining close ties to both the Americans and his Iranian backers. (Photo credit: Nader Daoud / AP)

August 26, 2009

BAGHDAD — Abdul-Aziz al-Hakim, the scion of a revered clerical family who channeled rising Shiite Muslim power after the fall of Saddam Hussein to become one of Iraq’s most powerful politicians, died Wednesday in Iran, the country that was long his powerful ally. He was 59.

The calm, soft-spoken al-Hakim, who died of lung cancer, was a kingmaker in Iraq’s politics, working behind the scenes as the head of the country’s biggest Shiite political party. …

Al-Hakim’s family led a Shiite rebel group against Saddam’s rule from their exile in Iran, where he lived for 20 years, building close ties with Iranian leaders.

After Saddam’s 2003 fall, al-Hakim hewed close to the Americans even while maintaining his alliance with Tehran, judging that the U.S. military was key to the Shiite rise.

Among Iraq’s minority Sunnis, he was deeply distrusted, seen as a tool of Shiite Iran. Al-Hakim’s outspoken support for Shiite self-rule in southern Iraq was seen by Sunnis and even some Shiites as an Iran-inspired plan to hand Tehran control of Iraq’s Shiite heartland, home to most of its oil wealth.

Shiite upheaval

His death comes at a time of political upheaval among Iraq’s majority Shiites. The alliance of Shiite parties that al-Hakim helped forge and that has dominated the government since the first post-Saddam elections in 2005 has broken apart ahead of January parliamentary elections, pitting a coalition led by al-Hakim’s party against another led by Shiite Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. …

Son of influential scholar

Al-Hakim was born in 1950 in Najaf to one of Shiite Islam’s most prestigious clerical families. His father was Grand Ayatollah Muhsin al-Hakim, among the most influential Shiite scholars of his generation.

The younger al-Hakim studied theology in Najaf and married the daughter of Mohammed Hadi al-Sadr, member of another prominent Iraqi Shiite clan. …

He was jailed several times until he and most of the family fled to neighboring Iran in 1980 following a crackdown by Saddam on the Shiite opposition. In Iran, his older brother, Ayatollah Mohammed Baqir al-Hakim, founded the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq, the forerunner of the SIIC. Abdul-Aziz headed the group’s military wing, the Badr Brigade, which fought alongside Iranian forces during the 1980-1988 Iran-Iraq War.

Bomb kills brother

The al-Hakim brothers returned to Iraq soon after the collapse of Saddam’s government. On Aug. 29, 2003, a massive vehicle bomb exploded outside the Imam Ali Mosque in Najaf, killing Mohammed Baqir al-Hakim and more than 80 others. Abdul-Aziz stepped into the leadership of the Supreme Council.

The younger al-Hakim lacked his brother’s charisma, religious standing or political acumen. But he proved a fast learner and able leader, quickly building the party into Iraq’s largest Shiite political organization. He served on the leadership councils formed by the Americans. Then, in the 2005 parliament election, he forged a grand alliance of Shiite parties – backed by Iran’s foremost Shiite cleric Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, which swept up a majority.

The coalition allied with the Kurds to form a government, though it constantly struggled to keep Sunni allies. …

Two days before al-Hakim’s death, his SIIC joined with followers of anti-U.S. cleric Muqtada al-Sadr to form a new political alliance to contest January parliamentary elections. The new Iraqi National Alliance excluded al-Maliki, making overt the new disunity among Shiites. …


Related report

Analysis: Iraq’s Shiite power base shifts


FROM THE ARCHIVES: One Year Ago Today — August 27, 2008

On the Campaign Trail: Day 44

One year ago today, on the 44th day of my campaign against U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann for the Republican nomination as House of Representatives candidate in Minnesota’s 6th Congressional District, I traveled to White Bear Lake to record a candidate statement for the Ramsey and Washington Counties Suburban Cable Commission. I also reported on the high human and economic cost of the Iraq war.

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    […] Michele Bachmann blamed the home mortgage crisis on minorities. She trumpeted an accusation that a vaccination [against HPV] caused mental retardation. She claimed that Iran has plans for turning a divided Iraq into a training ground for terrorists. She bragged that if she were president, we wouldn’t have an embassy in Iran. (We haven’t, since 1979.) […]

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