“Soft despotism is a term coined by Alexis de Tocqueville describing the state into which a country overrun by "a network of small complicated rules" might degrade. Soft despotism is different from despotism (also called 'hard despotism') in the sense that it is not obvious to the people."

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

The Iconic Face of Men at War

In June, 1967, while awaiting orders to go to Germany on what would be my third consecutive overseas assignment, the visions of frauleins dancing in my head were suddenly shattered. "Guess what asshole? We are going to Da Nang." Ralph, my friend from Boston, told me to report to the Orderly Room, and sure enough, my name and sixteen others were on the list. At that time, there were over 300 KIA's per week. There was still plenty of support for the war and Johnson had not yet resigned, but it was also a time when doubts and protests had replaced the sixties equivalent of "staying the course". Shit happens, but that expression had not yet show its way into the language, Nether had WTF. Both are in play today. A pargagraph from a BBC report, titled, "Looking for options" tells a tale of what the mood is for the troops in Iraq..."At this US base somewhere near Tikrit, the mood seems sombre and resigned. Many of the recent US casualties have been among troops based in this area.

The sense from the soldiers is of going through the motions, rather than believing yet another initiative will make any difference." BBC Baghdad Diary

What are the troops thinking today? They may not have yet asked who will be the last to die in Iraq, but you have to believe they are thinking it.


  1. Well the AP reports that Mr Maliki has gotten his timeline. The one he outlined last March.
    Iraqi will be in control, by this time next year.
    BAGHDAD, Iraq -- U.S. officials said Tuesday Iraqi leaders have agreed to develop a timeline by the end of the year for progress in stabilizing Iraq, and Iraqi forces should be able to take full control of security in the country in the next 12 to 18 months with "some level" of American support.

    Look for that 12 month timeline, Mr Maliki's first choice.

    Still, the Plan will be laid out in the UN's Iraqi Occupation reauthorization, required on 31 Dec 06.

  2. Now I've always thought that Mr Roggio to be a first class conduit of information.
    His sources from Afghanistan seem more than solid.

    His report on Iraq, now, is interesting.

    U.S. forces continue to chip away at Muqtada al-Sadr's power base in Iraq. The Kuwaiti News Agency reports on two small raids against the offices of Sadr's Mahdi Army in the cities of Hillah and Diwaniyah. In Hillah, there was a gunfight between U.S. and Mahdi Army fighters. No injuries were reported and no arrests were made. In Diwaniyah, a joint U.S. and Iraqi force "broke into the house of Mahdi Army local leader in Diwaniya Province but failed to arrest him."

    So the US has "moved" against al-Sadr, but no arrests and no casulaties on either side. Mr Roggio describes the new "storyline"

    This is a continuation of the plan to erode Sadr's power base within the Mahdi Army, and force Sadr to openly denounce the Mahdi Army or confront the Iraqi government. As Sadr's most capable and dangerous lieutenants are killed or captured, his power and standing within the organization comes into question. Iraqi and Coalition operations against Sadr in in Diwaniyah is a microcosm of this plan. The real question is does the Maliki government have the will to folow through to completion. ...

    But last week the al-Sadr big wig was released at Mr Maliki's request. The objectives of these latest raids escaped detention.

    Granted there are wepons caches exposed, but my house would be described as a "weapons cache" also.

  3. AKI reports of talks and a NATO withdrawal from a district, but this isn't policy yet

    Syed Saleem Shahzad reports NATO is currently in talks with the Taliban in Afghanistan to cede territory to the tribal leaders in south and eastern Afghanistan. Mr. Shahzad quotes sources from North Waziristan as well as Mohammad Hanif, a "Taliban spokesperson" to confirm the talks are underway. Twelve districts stretching from Kandahar in the south to Kunar in the north would be subject to the agreement, according to Mr. Shahzad's sources. Mohammad Hanif claims that "both American and Afghan soldiers had pulled out of an area in eastern Afghanistan, under a deal clinched with tribal elders, the second in a week."

    But, according to an unnamed American intelligence source, no agreement has been reached between NATO and the Taliban. Mohammad Hanif is a notorious Taliban propagandist that has a vested interest in promoting a Taliban victory in Afghanistan. The proposal to withdraw from southern and western Afghanistan is just that, and there is fierce opposition from American military commanders and within the State Department, as well as within some NATO governments serving in Afghanistan. "The discussion is occurring within some elements of the British establishment and within some [unnamed] NATO countries" however the source stressed to me that this was not the universal view within Britain or NATO itself.

    France is said to be one of the nations violently opposed to negotiating with the Taliban under any terms that do not involve their surrender. The French were unhappy with British negotiations in the town of Musa Qala in Helmand province, where the British abandoned an outpost after cutting a deal obstensively with the local tribal elders.

    The current French proposal to withdraw over 200 Special Forces from the border regions is a response to the proposed talks with the Taliban.

    Mr Roggio

  4. Here come "Fortress America", ya reckon?

  5. From the Canal to Purdue Bay,
    that's my bet.

  6. DR, by the way Golfito would do just fine, but the entire country is rich with possibilities.

    But back to Iraq:
    When the decision to leave is given, how do you do it? You know the entire Iraqi police and army will turn against the US liberators. the press will have a field day, with indignant Iraqis jumping for joy smashing all remnan ts of US occupationand presence.

  7. Pull out of the cities, handing off to Iraqi forces.
    Follow the Allen Program and consolidate into the mega-bases.

    Convoy the equipment that leaves to Kuwait, hand the balance over to the ISF.

    Leave by aircraft, from those mega-bases.
    How the "stay behind" Force is configured is all important, always has been.

    I remember the Press Conference when Mr Bush rejected taking responsibility for that, saying it would be decided, later.

  8. DR,

    So...Mexico wasn't enough for you, hey? Now you have your eye on Central America as well. Well, why not? If we are paying anyhow, why take the room?

    What a paradigm shift: rather than them coming to the US, the US goes to them.

  9. Niger orders expulsion of Arabs

    "The government of Niger has ordered around 150,000 Arabs who live in the east of the country to leave.
    Most of the Arabs, known as Mahamid, are nomads who have fled conflict in Chad. A BBC correspondent says many have lived in Niger for decades.

    The governor of Diffa State, where most of the Mahamid live, told them it was "high time" to pack and return to Chad.

    No reason for the order has been given, but government officials are meeting local elders in the capital, Niamey.

    The BBC Idy Baraou in Niamey says many Mahamid are citizens of Niger and hold senior positions in the army, government and business.

    Others look after camels and donkeys around Lake Chad.

    But other communities in Niger often accuse the Mahamid of theft and rape.

    Our correspondent says police have rounded up several hundred Mahamid at Kabalewa village, 75 km east of Diffa."

  10. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  11. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  12. This may leave a mark.

    While the majority believes the economy is strong, the President’s poll numbers continue to fall. So, will the election be influenced primarily by the economy or by the President?

    H/T to Ace, who also writes (and this is admittedly disgusting),
    Slade Gorton
    Wrong on national security. Wrong on forcible gay sodomy.

    Testing Link

  13. Allen,
    What you are doing wrong with some of your links is this:
    You are using the correct html code, but in order to place the specific address of the article on the page, you need to move your arrow over the title of the article or the index of the articles that show on the left like they do at the EB. when your arrow shows it to be an active html link, click that on to verify that. If it is the true link, copy and paste that address in your html link as you have been doing.

  14. on your html link where this appears ><
    place the word that shows what you are pointing to such as >BBC article <

  15. you are doing it mostly right but not going to the specific article on the specific page and identifying a hot html link. Do that and you are in like flint.

  16. I’ll be, a UN spokesman finally just says it:

    “I wish we could get rid of the word ‘terror’ in this debate…I appeal to the Israeli government:…If you label your opponent a terrorist, it becomes very difficult to start negotiating with him…I appeal to the Israeli government to discontinue using this term…”

    H/T Atlas Shrugs



  17. Allen, your link travails are hilarious--keep it running, it's like a skit--

  18. Dutch mayor raises prostitute plan

    Other than Americans, boys will be boys. If the Pentagon were to go along, would the PPP (P____Pumping Program) be accounted for within the Personnel budget or that of Operations and Maintenance?

    H/T Betsy

  19. Buddy Larsen,

    Was that "skit" or "shit"?

  20. buddy larsen,

    Not only am I struggling with links today, but my ambidexterity has yielded six thumbs as well. Don't even ask about the bifocals. Oii!

  21. we all have our good days as well as our bad days, old hoss--don't let the turkeys get ya down--

  22. buddy,

    re: cute Iraqi girl

    Thinking about an early thread, I hope the kid is an orphan or only has females as living relatives. Those Muslim warriors just never accomodate themselves to mouthy women.

  23. Just another reason for the US to avoid depending on the EU for anything even remotely sane or in the interest of the US.

    EU's resistance to GMOs hurts the poor

    H/T Grouchy Old Cripple

  24. Mein Gott, Deuce, you do know that having called Gerhard Schroeder "Euro-trash" we may face criminal and civil prosecution in Germany?

    Just a minute......Had to look outside...thought I heard jackboots. Got to pull myself together, Herr Schroeder is a kind, socialist, after all. Nothing to fear, or so Ash implies.

  25. That Back to the Future guy, with Parkinson's, is running major ads against Talent.

    Schroeder jumped straight from Leader of Germany to President of Gazprom. This is pretty bald, given Gazprom's association with Mein Feuhrer Putin.

  26. Now, now, now
    Mr Putin has a kind soul, Mr Bush examined it at length and found it acceptable.

    Just another Point of Light.

    Decide who is the greater Enemy, the Cossack or the Mohammedan, and back the others play.

    Except the Cossack cashes the Mullah's checks. For peaceful nuclear reactors.

    Ride Cossack Ride!
    or Die Cossack Die!

    Into the Valley of Death
    into the Mouth of Hell
    Boldly rode the 600

  27. Kudlow's much-ballyhoo'd interview w/ Pelosi, coming up right now on channel 355. Should have an asprin handy, I think.

  28. Oh, our souls from the thinking behind Lady Slogan.

  29. yeh--re Kudlow, i too caught a whiff of "preserve the show" (aka herd-think) motivation. An unpleasant weakness.

    Now, to enjoy the show, I have to ignore all that. The data is still excellent.

  30. rufus & buddy,

    re: Talent Poll

    Do you all think it looks that bad for Talent?

    Admittedly, at this point, the incumbent should be at 50% or, at least, not trailing. But, consider:

    ___Favorable-Unfavorable is a wash, with 21-22% neutral
    ___Other 2%; Undecided 9%
    ___Issues: Iraq 22%; Terror/Security 13%; Economy/Jobs 14%; Moral/Family 16%. These are issues that typically help Republicans.
    ___Bush Iraq policy: 49% Somewhat/Strongly Disapprove. Now, this could be interesting because of the assumption are opposed to the Iraq war. It might be advantageous for Talent to say, "We need to get serious and kill the bastards." It is my opinion that as many folk disapprove of the lethargy as to the war, generally.
    ___Worry of Terrorist Attack: 74% Somewhat/Very Worried
    ___Family's Financial Situation: 65% Have Enough
    ___Congressional performance: 63% Somewhat/Strongly Disapprove. This is bad.
    ___Presidential disapproval numbers do not help Talent.

  31. Buddy Larsen,

    re: oxycontin

    I may have to substantially increase my Scotch budget. If so, the amount may exceed any tax cuts garnered. None of this was necessary!

  32. re: Talent

    The biggest obstacle for Republicans in Missouri is the cheating epidemic in St. Louis and Kansas City. Over the years, the Republicans have made the mistake of letting this pass.

    A few years ago, a random audit was done of St. Louis voting rolls. To no one's surprise, thousands of deceased and non-residents were discovered, as well as addresses of vacant and demolished buildings. Anyone care to guess which party overwhelming benefited from this?

  33. Well, heh heh, all that St Louis ballot fraud is for "a good cause", y'see?

  34. With all the hoopla it's still about how it's been.
    I do not see any major meltdown by the Pubs, but small gains by the Dems.
    In the Senate, at best they pickup 5 seats,most likely 4.
    The House it's right around that magic 15 number, maybe 1 shy or 3 over.
    Foley & Reynolds becomes a two fer.
    Mr Weldon and the FBI visitations of his daughter do not bide well for him, as well as the fellow in PA that cheated on his wife, in a tactless manner. The legless Dem Army Major is ruunning strong in Henry Hydes District in IL.
    All are possible Dem gains from my previous thought that the Pubs would lose 12.

  35. rufus,

    re: Walkin' Joe

    Indeed, I remember well.

    But no one will ever surpass "Walkin' Dead Mel".

  36. rufus,

    re: Walkin' Dead Mel

    Sorry for being so rude, the late gentleman was Senator Walkin' Dead Mel.

    The Democrat victory may have come from polls staying open hours after legal closing because of a stay issued by a Democrat judge on the writ presented in the name of a deceased Democrat.

    Say what you will, Democrats are shameless.


    "8th Of November"

    Said goodbye to his momma as he left South Dakota
    To fight for the red, white and blue
    He was 19 and green with a new M-16
    Just doing what he had to do
    He was dropped in the jungle where the choppers would rumble
    With the smell of napalm in the air
    And the sergeant said...look up ahead
    Like a dark evil cloud, 1,200 came down on him and 29 more
    They fought for their lives but most of them died in the 173rd Airborne

    On the 8th of November the angels were crying
    As they carried his brothers away
    With the fire raining down and the hell all around
    There were few men left standing that day
    Saw the eagle fly through a clear blue sky
    1965, the 8th of November

    Now he's 58 and his pony tail's gray
    But the battle still plays in his head
    He limps when he walks but he's strong when he talks
    About the Shrapnel they left in his leg
    He puts on a gray suit over his Airborne tattoo
    And he ties it on one time a year
    And remembers the fallen as he orders a tall one
    And swallows it down with his tears

    Saw the eagle fly through a clear blue sky
    On the 8th of November the angels were crying
    As they carried his brothers away
    With the fire raining down and the hell all around
    There were few men left standing that day

  38. Mel Carnahan, was he the only dead man ever elected to the Senate?

    It's all about hanging on to power. For instance, if the GOP wants to keep Florida-16, all those nice Republican folks have to punch a chad for a pedo.

  39. re: the Marine's picture

    Much earlier in the day I planned to post that the young Marine pictured left service a year or so ago. He is reported to be having adjustment problems.