“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."

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Does the US regret not eliminating al-Sadr when they had the chance?

The 1975 film, Barry Lyndon, contains a scene where Ryan O'Neal, as Barry Lyndon, fights a pistol duel with his stepson and arch-enemy, Young Bullington. The stepson who takes the first shot misfires his flint lock pistol. This gives Barry Lyndon the next turn to fire in the ritualized duel. Barry Lyndon shows mercy on his stepson assuming that would end the duel with no harm done to either.

Barry Lyndon is stunned when Bullington demands the enforcement of the rules and insists on taking another shot at Barry Lyndon, which according to the rule, is his right. Lyndon survives catastrophic wounds, but for the rest of his life regretted not killing Bullington when he had the chance.

I am certain the US Military regrets their not taking out their young Bullington, anti-U.S. Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, when they had the chance. Sadr is turning into quite the powerbroker in Iraq. MPs from the party of the radical Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr are establishing an alliance with other parties in the Iraqi parliament to demand the departure of US troops from the country. Six ministers from the party have already left the cabinet in protest at a meeting between Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki and US President George W Bush. The prime minister has asked Mr al-Sadr to rejoin the government.

President Bush has reaffirmed his confidence in Prime Minister Maliki during a visit to the Jordan capital Amman. He denied reports in the US media, which suggested that the White House had doubts whether Prime Minister Maliki was the right man to end the violence in Iraq. But it seems that Sadr has bigger plans . CNN is reporting this:

BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- One day after suspending participation in Iraq's government, the bloc loyal to anti-U.S. Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr announced a possible new political alliance with Sunnis and Christians.

Calling the group a "national front," the head of al-Sadr's bloc in Parliament -- Falah Hassan Shanshel -- said the groups would target the U.N. Security Council's decision to extend the mandate of the 160,000 multinational force in Iraq for another year.

The formation of such an alliance has been in the works for at least two months, said Saleh al-Mutlag, a prominent Sunni politician and vocal critic of al-Maliki.

He called the alliance a nonsectarian, national patriotic front, drawing from different areas of the country and also including secularists, Kurds, Yazidis, Turkmens and clerics.

The group does not include the Mehdi Army, a militia loyal to al-Sadr, al-Mutlag said, adding that he believes the militia should dissolve. He said that al-Sadr himself is "not negative" about the alliance and that it could be achieved peacefully.

U.S. commanders believe al-Sadr's Mehdi Army militia has played a key role in stoking sectarian violence this year, but al-Maliki, who draws his support from al-Sadr's supporters, hasn't targeted them.

CNN's Mohammed Tawfeeq, Erin McLaughlin and Arwa Damon contributed to this report

Saddam must be quite incredulous over this amazing turn of events. He is not alone.

This is Your State Department

Kendall Myers, US State Department official, has added further disgrace to the State Department with his derogatory comments made at a lecture in Washington DC two days ago. About the relationship between the US and the UK, he said:
"There never really has been a special relationship or at least not one we've noticed."

"As a State Department employee, now I will say something even worse: it has been from the very beginning very one-sided."

"The State Department and the American Embassy in London, by God they'll be pushing the special relationship till the end of time."

"The last prime minister to resist American pressure was Neville Chamberlain who was a much more brilliant figure in British diplomacy [than Winston Churchill]."

"We typically ignore them and take no notice. We say, ‘There are the Brits coming to tell us how to run our empire. Let's park them'. It is a sad business and I don't think it does them justice."
The State Department repudiated Myers' comments but do you believe them?

Crack Addict loses "crack" in Florida Lake

The Sheriff and his four deputies were on Greta van Sustern's show Wednesday night. The Sheriff said that the alligator left the man's left arm hanging by a tendon, broke his right arm and chewed the man's buttocks off. One of the deputies admitted they were "scared as hell and the beast was the size of a bus." The Sheriff said there is no academy training to prepare anyone for wrestling an 11 foot alligator in four feet of water at four in the morning. I guess not.

The photo is not of the big ass-eater but is a 13-footer that was killed in central Florida. Covered at Observanda

Little Putka - The Apparatchik

George H. Wittman writing in today's American Spectator has some insight into Vladimir Putin that parallels the thinking of the EB:
Western administrations have done their best to fashion a perception of Vladimir Putin as some form of European social democrat. The recent poisoning death of Alexander Litvinenko in London and the gunning down of the anti-Putin journalist Anna Politkovskaya earlier in Moscow, as well as other "wet affairs," have brought that characterization sharply into question. The real issue, however, is why such a benevolent representation ever existed in the first place.

Little "Putka", as he was called by his boyhood friends on the streets of Leningrad, has been a dedicated apparatchik since his school days when his ambition to join the KGB first began. He hasn't changed -- only the world around him changed -- and he has taken advantage of these changes.
Wittman goes on to say that Putin hasn't authorized the recent spate of killings but has fostered an environment where his former KGB cohorts have been allowed to "run wild" on his behalf. Putin, he says would never authorize such a traceable agent such as polonium to be used. Putin, he says, has lost control.
Putin never would have authorized the killing of a loud but lightweight dissident like Litvinenko. Such action placed Putin in a vulnerable leverage position. Additionally he never would have ordered the use of an exotic killing agent in a situation that required "plausible denial."

Is there Treachery in the US Civil Service?

A Guest Post from "skipsailing", who writes a blog helm's alee and is a poster at The Elephant.

skipsailing said...
Look, I can understand all the Bush Bashing that goes on now. People of every stripe are piling on, but while we whine about "the snub" we ignore a much more serious problem.

There is a coup d'etat underway in the US.

It is my considered opinion that the established, protected and insular civil service bureaucracy in Washington is using every means at its disposal to thwart this duly elected presidential administration.

This steady stream of leaks to a duplicitous and un-American press corps is no accident. Like minded people are clearly attempting to subvert the leaders that the people of this country selected to govern them.

We need to understand the implications of this. Think about it this way: a president who behaves in a manner that the civil service bureaucracy finds acceptable will receive what he or she is supposed to receive from the billions in salary expense the Americans pay. That is, of course, executive action in support of policy goals.

A president that this bunch finds unacceptable will be damaged, if not destroyed by those same people. So who is really in charge now? The American people? Or the guys inside the beltway with press contacts and the secrets to be leaked?

What we have here, it is now quite clear, is an overt effort by Washington insiders on the federal payroll to subvert our president. These people are so intent on this goal that they will damage our international standing and cause us to lose a vital battle in the war on terror, simply because they disagree with an elected president and are convinced that they cannot be halted.

Ramadi be damned, we are about to lose our democracy to people whose salaries we pay.

If we elect a person that the Washington bureaucracy finds acceptable they will work to advance that person's policy goals. If we elect someone that these people don't approve of, they will grind the ensuing administration to a halt.

Am I being paranoid? That's not the correct question. The correct question is Am I being paranoid enough?

We are losing, or indeed may have already lost, our democracy to a faceless, nameless bunch of overpaid cubicle dwellers who, recognizing that there is no downside to their behavior, have simply taken control of a bloated and unwieldy government.

This string of incredible leaks has one unifying theme, all of them has made the achievement of the Bush Administration's goals more difficult, if not impossible.

People who are sworn to uphold our constitution are now quite clearly telling us whom we may elect and whom we may not. Oh sure we could send another Reagan to the White House but this entrenched bureaucracy will fight tooth and claw against him.

We have a serious problem and we ignore it at our peril.

Go ahead, tell me I'm crazy, but I think I've got it right and I welcome the opportunity to respond to any objections that arise here, simply because that will strengthen my arguments or cause me to alter my view.

Have at it.

6:10 AM, November 30, 2006

Pope Charms Turks. Wants Turkey in EU. Will He Beatify Rodney King?

'Can't We All Just Get Along?' That seems to be the new tact from the Pope. I was expecting more, but then I voted for GWB twice. My optimism in such things needs to balanced by reality or German Realpolitik.

So it looks like Rome is not going to solve any problems, but we still have the Baker Commission and Syria and Iran. You never know.

Pope on the charm offensive

By Philip Pullella and Ercan Ersoy

Efes - Turkey on Wednesday praised the conciliatory tone of Pope Benedict during his visit to the predominantly Muslim country and his apparent new support for Ankara's bid to join the European Union.

Celebrating mass at a shrine in southwestern Turkey where legend says the Virgin Mary lived out her last days, Benedict stressed that a common devotion to the mother of Jesus Christ is another link binding Christians and Muslims.

As Benedict continued his four-day visit, Turkey focused on his gestures on arrival on Tuesday: his apparent support for Ankara's bid to join the European Union and praise for Islam after a recent speech Muslims found insulting.

And here is the rest of the story

Maliki and Bush

There are all sorts of speculation as to the reasons why the meeting between Maliki and Bush was cancelled. There are the soft diplomatic fabrications, which include:

* "No one should read too much into this," said Dan Bartlett, Bush adviser.
* The incredulous, " al-Maliki and Jordan's King Abdullah II had decided mutually that a three-way conversation was not necessary because the Jordanian and Iraqi leaders had met earlier in the day." ; This from Bush staffers.
* A Jordanian source said Abdullah and Bush met longer than expected because of Palestinian issues and had to cancel the meeting with al-Maliki.
* al-Maliki needed the delay, which was requested by Abdullah, for political advantage to calm the al-Sadr movement.

There are no questions that tensions have been rising between the Maliki Government and the Bush Administration. The leaked Nov. 8 memo by National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley, hinted at such..."His intentions seem good when he talks with Americans, and sensitive reporting suggests he is trying to stand up to the Shia hierarchy and force positive change," the memo says of al-Maliki, text posted on The New York Times' Web site. "But the reality ... suggests Maliki is either ignorant of what is going on, misrepresenting his intentions, or that his capabilities are not yet sufficient to turn his good intentions into action."

That is not what you want to read about yourself over your morning coffee. I believe there is another reason. On June 13, 2006, you will recall that President Bush made a surprise visit to Baghdad to visit Iraqi Prime Minister al-Maliki. The photographs and videos of the meeting show Maliki having a real WTF moment.

Bush met with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and his Cabinet, and pledged his full support behind the newly formed government.

Bush stayed in Iraq for less than six hours and caught everyone by surprise, especially Maliki who reportedly had five minutes' notice that President Bush was in the Green Zone. That in itself was embarrassing and humiliating to the Iraqis, who after all are politicians and egoists.

So let's review the bidding. A surprise visit from Bush where he pledges undying support and the next meeting where Maliki is surprised to hear Bush no longer loves him.

Maliki must be thinking, " Mr. President, we have to stop meeting like this."


They met this morning. Mr. Maliki had some inspiring and forceful words:

"We are very clear together about the importance of accelerating the transfer of the security responsibility.''

Maliki said all political factions in Iraq have a responsibility to respect the law and that he wouldn't allow neighboring countries to interfere with affairs inside Iraq.

"Those who participate in this government need to bear responsibilities,'' Maliki said.

"This should apply to all the partners of the government who have chosen to participate in the political process.''

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

American Cowboy Wisdom. Desert Rat at the Elephant Bar.

Who ever said anything about occupying? 
That is a construct out of thin air. It has very little at all to do with the discussion. If Ramadi were destroyed, there would be no need to occupy it. Same with any number of towns or cities. Abandon the Powell Pottery Barn Policy. Commence with "We broke it, have fun.” Sherman marched through Georgia to the Sea; He did not inhabit it. The Pueblos of the American West, no gringo moved into those. 

The US has no use for Ramadi, if those that live there do, then they play by the rules or they die. 

If what we wish to protect is not worth the lives of 100,000 Arabs; it's not worth the life of one GI. 

Now, you may not think that Freedom from Religion, freedom of speech, freedom of movement, freedom from tyranny is worth 100,000 lives. I value it more than 20 million lives or more. Stalin killed well over 20 million people in an attempt to enslave the World. I'd kill 20 million to maintain the freedoms we enjoy. You may think that price too high. I do not. But many of my fellow citizens agree with you, today, so I'll go along with the majority, whatever they decide. But believe me, when whatever it is that you hold dearest, is about to be destroyed, you'll see the light. Or not.

Me, I've got more than a few options for when things go south, most folk don't.

Posted at the Elephant Bar by Desert Rat. (very slightly edited)
10:02 PM, November 29, 2006

Bush Maliki Meeting Canceled

Meetings scuttled by the leaked memo. The life of this administration is pouring out.

Muslim Brotherhood in Ascent in Egypt

The neighborhood is looking a little run down lately. The long time neighbors are getting old, they quit spending on their homes some time back. Some of the new neighbors moving in, don't look quite so genteel. Maybe it's time to think about selling out.

Muslim Brotherhood in Ascent in Egypt

In recent weeks, the Brotherhood fought a fierce battle to win a significant chunk of seats in powerful trade unions, which include millions of workers in the enormous state-run industries, plus workers in the huge government bureaucracy.

In another sign of its growing influence, the Brotherhood last week forced parliament to debate a vote of no-confidence in the minister of culture, a longtime Mubarak confidante, after the minister said that wearing the hijab, or full Muslim headscarf, was a "step backward" for Egyptian women.

The minister remains in office but secular intellectuals immediately accused the group of using an off-the-cuff remark to bolster its political agenda.

"They (the Brotherhood) are trying to Islamize the society from below to reshape it the way they want," said Nabil Abdel Fatah, an expert at the Al Ahram Center for Strategic Studies.

"Don't believe the Brotherhood when they say they do not want to take over the country. That is only a pretense," wrote the government weekly Rose El Youssef in a banner headline.

When it happens, no one can say they didn't see it coming.

Bush, on Iraq Civil War: “all kinds of speculation.”

Yesterday at a news conference with President Toomas Hendrik Ilves of Estonia, Presdent Bush, characterized talk of civil war in Iraq as “all kinds of speculation.” He said he would press the Iraqi prime minister to lay out a strategy for stopping the killings. Why is Bush reluctant to us the words "civil war?"

That is obvious. A civil war would require the US to take a side or to intervene to stop it. The first choice of picking a side presents a basic dilemma. Which side would the US prefer to win? The second option is not possible at a price we would be willing to pay. How did we arrive here?

Within Iraq, the US leaned toward support for the Shiites as they suffered the most under Saddam. This carried over after the intervention with the dismantling of the Sunni controlled bureaucracy. That decision coincided with a break down in law and order and the rise of the Madi Army under al Sadir. The US underestimated Sadir, and instead chose to focus on Al Qaeda as the source of Iraqi instability.

Yesterday, President Bush still insisted there was no civil war and that Al Qaeda was behind the unrest.

Discussing his next stop in Jordan to meet with Mr. Maliki, Bush said,“My questions to him will be: ‘What do we need to do to succeed? What is your strategy in dealing with the sectarian violence?’ ” ... “I will assure him that we will continue to pursue Al Qaeda to make sure that they do not establish a safe haven in Iraq.”

Is it any wonder that Bush has lost, and continues to lose the confidence of those many conservatives and Republicans who supported and voted for him in the past?

Are we expected to participate in a denial of the obvious in order to protect our status and not be called Rinos (Republicans In Name Only) by dopes like Sean Hannity? Does looking at painful truths and facts make one guilty of having BDS (Bush Deranged Syndrome)? I have no way of knowing where this thing in Iraq is going. I can only speculate that at this time it does not look good, but if President Bush expects a Democratic Congress and a reluctant citizenry to support the continued Iraqi war, he had better base it on something other than wishful thinking and denial of the obvious.

Note: This post and the previous by my partner Whit are obviously opposing points of view. We collaborate with the administration of this blog but go our own ways in expression of belief. That is how it should be. You decide with which you agree or disagree. All expressed positions are welcome here for discussion.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

The Drip, Drip, Drip Has Become a Torrent

Today, the drip, drip, drip of bad news from the MSM has become a torrent.

Iraqi Army Not Ready to Defend Fallujah
Iraqi commanders acknowledge they can't handle a city as large and volatile as Fallujah without American support - especially with the country teetering on the edge of civil war between the Shiite majority and Sunni minority.

"It's something we keep in mind, that one day coalition forces are going to leave. But it can't be now," said 1st Lt. Hamazah Adman, head of intelligence for the 3rd Battalion, 2nd Brigade, 1st Iraqi Army Division.

"We can say that two years may be enough," he said.

Sorry, my friend that time frame isn't looking too good but the President did say today that the US would not withdraw until the "mission is complete." The article goes on to discuss the 400 advisers in Iraq.

Like many U.S. advisers in Iraq, Marines from the 3rd Reconnaissance Battalion's Military Transition team live with the Iraqi army, sharing separate ends of a heavily fortified former health club.
But the Americans complain that much of their time is spent ensuring Iraqi soldiers are paid and that they receive basic equipment like flashlights and gloves. Higher-ups pocket supplies meant for troops, and many soldiers sell uniforms and boots while on leave, returning to demand new ones.

"Most of the time we can't advise. We are too busy running around protecting ourselves from attack or just making sure the army has the basics," said Sgt. Thomas J. Ciccarelli, 37, of South Lake Tahoe, Calif.

Anbar Picture Grows Clearer, and Bleaker
The Washington Post has found another leaker. This time they claim it's a senior US Intelligence Official.
The U.S. military is no longer able to defeat a bloody insurgency in western Iraq or counter al-Qaeda's rising popularity there, according to newly disclosed details from a classified Marine Corps intelligence report that set off debate in recent months about the military's mission in Anbar province.
The Marine Corp assessment allegedly says that the the Sunnis are in a day-to-day struggle for survival against the Shias, believe that Iran controls Baghdad and are turning to al-Qaeda for protection. If that's true, who could blame them. It paints both a pitiful and bleak picture of the Sunnis.
But the contents have not previously been made public. Read as a complete assessment, it paints a stark portrait of a failed province and of the country's Sunnis -- once dominant under Saddam Hussein -- now desperate, fearful and impoverished. They have been increasingly abandoned by religious and political leaders who have fled to neighboring countries, and other leaders have been assassinated. And unlike Iraq's Shiite majority, or Kurdish groups in the north, the Sunnis are without oil and other natural resources. The report notes that illicit oil trading is providing millions of dollars to al-Qaeda while "official profits appear to feed Shiite cronyism in Baghdad."
The article is not entirely negative. It does reveal that the situation is not hopeless. There is a way to regain control of the province, but the American public, the MSM and Democrats are not going to go for it.
Devlin suggested that without the deployment of an additional U.S. military division -- 15,000 to 20,000 troops -- plus billions of dollars in aid to the province, "there is nothing" U.S. troops "can do to influence" the insurgency.

He described al-Qaeda in Iraq as the "dominate organization of influence in al-Anbar," surpassing all other groups, the Iraqi government and U.S. troops "in its ability to control the day-to-day life of the average Sunni."

The anonymous senior intelligence official agrees with the report except that he thinks it overstates the influence of al-Qaeda. Could he have partisan reasons or does he know something the boots on the ground don't know? I lean toward the military's assessment.

I've given up on seeing any prosecutions of leakers. This government is the worst sieve ever. The intelligence community and the State Department are a disgrace to this country. The country and a naive George Bush have been ill-served in so many ways, and if this were the Soviet Union, a massive purge would have already occurred.

Civil war in Iraq near, Annan says
Asked by reporters at the U.N. if Iraq is in a civil war now, Annan replied, "I think given the developments on the ground, unless something is done drastically and urgently to arrest the deteriorating situation, we could be there. In fact we are almost there."
This article appears to be part of a concerted campaign by the NBC, the Washington Post and New York times to "turn up the heat" and hasten talks with Syria and Iran. More propaganda than news, the article refers to a statement by the "elder statesman" of the Democrat party, Jimmy Carter, during a recent appearance on Good Morning America.
Carter said he would agree with any call for direct U.S. talks with Iran and Syria over Iraq, adding: "This is one of the most counterproductive policies that I've ever known, ... not to talk to the people who disagree with you unless they agree in advance to everything you demand."

You have to feel some sympathy for George Bush. Since the Republicans lost both houses of Congress, they will have a hard time getting heard in a confessional booth, let alone by the insurgent MSM. Right now, he's being tested as never before in his life. The tide has turned against him and his own party seems to be AWOL. The drip, drip, drip of pessimism and despair has become a torrent of anti-war propaganda. A plumber is desperately needed and none are to be found. Instead we wait day after day for the report from the Iraq Study Group. As if they are going to be able to offer a damn thing. All we hear is that we must talk to Syria and Iran. We must go "hat in hand" to two members of the Axis of Evil and grovel, begging them for their help. What a disgusting suggestion. Just remember this.

Until a leader steps forward to articulate the dangers and consequences of precipitous withdrawal the MSM and the Democrats will dominate the message. This country needs leadership and George Bush needs reinforcement, desperately.

Maybe we are back to the future with cake diplomacy. Iraqi president to meet Khamenei.

Remember Bud McFarlane taking a chocolate cake to Iran? That was in 1989. Reagan was President and Bush I, was Vice President. The incident was over a search for moderates in Iran and a reaching out to Iran for accommodations in dealing with Hezbollah and the release of US hostages in Lebanon

The plan backfired as hard-liners in the Iranian Government leaked the secret dealings. Now remember this is 1989. The story is from a 1989 report from The Guardian reporting the death of Ayatollah Khomeini.
At first incredulous at the report of a flight to Tehran by Mr McFarlane and Oliver North bearing a Bible and a chocolate cake, the public was engulfed in yet another major presidential scandal.

The controversy not only tarnished President Reagan, but has raised questions about Mr Bush himself, and the extent of his involvement in the contra facet of the affair.

While officials in Washington will be hoping for an improvement in relations with a post-Khomeini Iran, they will be aware of the weight of history, which militates against such a course.

The US is arguably still paying for its actions in 1953 when the CIA and British intelligence restored the Shah to power at the expense of the nationalist Mohammed Mossadegh. For historians such as Mr James Bill, the US later reaped the whirlwind in the shape of Ayatollah Khomeini.

In his book The Eagle and The Lion, Mr Bill argues that the coup was 'a momentous event in the history of Iranian-American relations', as Americans aborted moderate Iranian nationalism.

Twenty-five years later it would face a much more radical version. Instead of the secularist, Western-educated Mossadegh, Iranian nationalism would be incarnated in the Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini.

The American intervention in 1953, writes Mr Bill, 'left a running wound that bled for 25 years and contaminated America's relations with the Islamic Republic of Iran following the revolution of 1978-79'.

Iranian suspicion of the US will not be lessened by the appearance of Mr Reza Pahlavi, the son of the deposed Shah currently living in exile in the US, on American television chat shows. The heir to the Peacock Throne said he was more confident than ever of the success of the 'liberation of his compatriots from the yoke of dictatorship'.

Now here we are in 2006, seventeen years later. The US is immersed in a civil war in Iraq. Tomorrow, President Bush will meet with Iraqi Prime Minister Maliki in Jordan as Iraq is too dangerous. The US still has no dealings with Iran, yet some still expect Iran and additionally Syria to help. Today the Iraqi president meets Khamenei in Iran , after receiving full honors yesterday from President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

We should not expect anything helpful from Iran. Nothing. There will be those that will defend the visit saying The Administration has nothing to do with it. I do not believe that is true and if The Bush Administration has no part in this, it is worse. That indicates we have no control over a government we are supporting, fighting for and dying to protect.

In your wildest dreams did you, as I, when we reluctantly or eagerly supported the decision to invade Iraq, believe that after over three years of war it would be necessary to look to Iran and Syria for a solution to an Iraqi civil war involving the best of the US Army and Marines and US National Guardsmen? That is what is going on.

Iraqi president to meet Khamenei BBC

Mr Talabani was received with full honours by his Iranian counterpart
Iraqi President Jalal Talabani is due to meet Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei in Tehran on the second day of a key visit for Iraq's future.
Mr Talabani is hoping to secure Iranian help to improve the security situation in Iraq, which is on the verge of civil war according to UN chief Kofi Annan.

On Monday, Mr Talabani held talks with President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who said Iran was ready to do whatever it could.

The US has repeatedly accused Iran of impeding efforts to stabilise Iraq.

We are in dire need of Iran's help in establishing security and stability in Iraq
Jalal Talabani

Iran: Who holds power?
But Mr Ahmadinejad said a secure, progressive and powerful Iraq was in the interests of Iran and the whole region.

Mr Talabani, a Farsi speaker, is the first Iraqi head of state to visit Tehran in almost four decades.

"The issue of establishing security in Iraq is the most important part of our talks. We are in dire need of Iran's help in establishing security and stability in Iraq," Mr Talabani was quoted as saying on Iran's state-run TV.


The past week has been one of the bloodiest since the American-led invasion in 2003.

On Monday, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan told reporters in New York that drastic action was needed to prevent a civil war.

However, US President George W Bush played down such talk, saying the latest bombings were part of a pattern of attacks sparked by al-Qaeda militants seeking a sectarian break-down.

Speaking at a news conference in Estonia, Mr Bush said in order for the US to open a dialogue with Iran, the Iranians would have to "verifiably suspend" its nuclear fuel enrichment programme, which could be used in weapons production.

The BBC's Frances Harrison in Tehran says Iran seems increasingly concerned about the uncontrollable level of violence in Iraq.

Last week's multiple car bomb attacks in Baghdad's Sadr City - in which more than 200 people were killed - were the deadliest in Iraq since the US-led invasion of 2003.

The UN says violent deaths among civilians hit a record high in October, with more than 3,700 people losing their lives - the majority in sectarian attacks.

White Flight in Europe

The Brussels Journal continues to ponder the future of an Islamic Europe. Lately, they have been speculating on the immigration caused by the changing demographics. Fjordman speculates that many of those white western European emigrants could wind up in Eastern European countries.

I read yesterday in the Washington Times that Muslim birthrate Worries Russia.
MOSCOW -- Low domestic birthrates and rising immigration from the former Soviet republics are producing explosive growth in Russia's Muslim community, which is on a track to account for more than half the population by mid century.
"Russia is going through a religious transformation that will be of even greater consequence for the international community than the collapse of the Soviet Union," said Paul Goble, a specialist on Islam in Russia and research associate at the University of Tartu in Estonia.
Will Eastern Europe be caught between Islamic Western Europe and Islamic Russia?

Afghan Mission Accomplished in 2008?

Nato Afghan mission 'achievable'
British soldiers in Afghanistan
A number of countries refuse to fight in southern Afghanistan
Afghanistan is "mission possible", the head of Nato has said in an effort to encourage hesitant members of the pact to boost their commitment to the area.

Despite a strengthening Taleban, Jaap de Hoop Scheffer insisted the alliance could succeed in its Afghan mission and even start pulling out by 2008.

"Member nations must accept difficult assignments," Mr Bush said on a stopover in Estonia. They must "provide the forces NATO military commanders require."

Mr de Hoop Scheffer has repeatedly warned that unless nations such as France, Germany, Italy and Spain drop the caveats that keep their troops out of the most dangerous areas of Afghanistan, the country would again become "a black hole for terrorism''.

Two thoughts:
  • I am very skeptical of the idea that the alliance will declare "mission accomplished" and start withdrawing year after next. Although, that might well be the very scenario we will see in Afghanistan. Afterall, for quite some time now, Democrats have been calling for us to "Declare Victory" and leave Iraq.

  • Demanding that some of the Nato members such as Germany and the other alliance members put troops in combat roles will accomplish nothing so much as advancing the withdrawal of those countries troops from theater. In the recalcitrant countries, it will not take much of a mounting death toll to cause public clamor for the withdrawal of all their troops. So, although, pressing Germany and others to assume a more robust role might be good for morale in the short term, (six months) it could be counter productive in the long term (12 months.)
  • Some come. Others don't. Is a "dry orgasm" in your future?

    Ever vigilant to health issues, we at the EB pay close attention to matters that may be of interest to our rising audience. Now our demographics show that many of the EB may have a slightly greater interest in matters of ED but we wish to be inclusive and welcoming to the younger generation of political sports fans and conservative issues.

    The Guardian discusses the wish of many woman for a male contraceptive, "the pill for men". I am uncertain that this product will be based on the demands by males, but one should never underestimate the persuasive power of woman at times when these things may be of interest.

    Clearly the inspiration and pent up demand will come from woman.

    It seems as if some progress is being made but there are some "issues". I will highlight a few as I see them. Enquiring minds may wish to read the entire article.

    ISSUE No.1, There are several drugs at various stages of development, with the latest a single-dose pill that produces a "dry orgasm", the slightly eye-watering notion that the man experiences sexual pleasure, but does not produce any semen. This may be a small problem.

    ISSUE No.2, It takes around five hours to take effect, which might take some of the spontaneity out of a one-night stand. This may be a problem.

    ISSUE No.3
    , Researchers found a high blood pressure called phenoxybenzamine. In a test on people, the drug had the side-effect of temporarily preventing ejaculations in males. Talk about a silver lining to what most men would find to be a rather dark cloud.

    ISSUE No.4
    , Another drug used to treat schizophrenia (thioridazine) had a similar effect. This synergy could be very reassuring to woman.

    ISSUE No.5
    , Both drugs act in the same way. They interfere with muscles in the vas deferens, the tube leading from the testes. Is that where men want someone or something running interference?

    ISSUE No.6, Both drugs have unhelpful side- effects. The schizophrenia drug causes drowsiness and the blood pressure pill can cause dizziness. "Is something wrong dear?"

    ISSUE No.7, This drug is not delivered as a pill, but as an injection or an implant - and there are hormone-related side-effects. The clinical trials show that it works but a lot of men complain about the injection. I have nothing more to add.

    Nanny State England Child Czar Prepares Dossier: Says No More Smacking Children.

    First, this is not a joke. This is England's Children's Commissioner for England, Al Aynsley-Green. To be frank, he looks as if he would enjoy having his own bottom spanked. I cannot prove that.

    How England found itself in need of the services of a state bureaucrat to tell them how to raise their children is beyond my comprehension, but they have.

    Like all well meaning, left leaning, power mad, minding your business bureaucrats, he is available and demanding to help the unwashed vulgar masses do what the nanny state knows best. It seems as if the meddling professor, who heads The Children's Commissioner for England is preparing a dossier for the United Nations to back his case that parents who smack their children are abusing their human rights.

    Now when the Brits put together a dossier for submission I get nervous. The last dossier that came to my attention was the infamous IRAQ’S WEAPONS OF MASS DESTRUCTION, THE ASSESSMENT OF THE BRITISH GOVERNMENT. That little document convinced me, and possibly many others, that an attack on Iraq was probably necessary. Later we learned that whoever wrote that should have had his bottom smacked.

    To give you a little more flavor into the good professor's thinking, here is what he wrote in the Guardian (Thursday, 19th Jan 2006): "From the debate that's been going on over the past week, one might be forgiven for thinking that all our children and young people are out of control. The government's Respect action plan has focused the nation's attention on antisocial behaviour and aggression. But we desperately need a more balanced approach which recognises that these difficulties have not arisen overnight. We must also examine how political decisions in the past 30 years have contributed to the turbulence in which so many of our children and young people live"

    God help us all and my sympathies go out to the once Great Britain. Read it and weep. Child tsars unite in push to ban smacking.

    Monday, November 27, 2006

    Fewer than 25 Living WWI Vets

    He wasn't a "dough boy" but this 111 year old swabbie veteran of World War One died last week in Florida.
    BRADENTON, Fla. — Ernest Charles Pusey, one of the nation's longest living World War I veterans, died a little over a week after he was honored with a medal for his service to the country, family members said. He was 111.

    Pusey's death Sunday left fewer than 25 living U.S. veterans of World War I out of nearly 5 million who served, according to the Department of Veterans Affairs.

    "I was deeply saddened to learn that Mr. Pusey had passed away. It was my privilege to meet with him," Gov. Jeb Bush said in a news release. "We should not forget him, and other veterans, who sacrificed so much for this country."

    The governor had presented Pusey with a World War I Victory Medal on Nov. 10, the day before Veterans Day. Pusey didn't recall receiving a medal after the war, and nobody could find any evidence that he had.

    During the ceremony at Pusey's trailer, the veteran talked to Bush about his time on the USS Wyoming during the war, and "stopping at different cities out there."

    A black-and-white photo of the battleship hung on the wall of his trailer near a framed letter of congratulations from President Bush, and the president's brother added the glass-encased medal to a table near Pusey's recliner.

    Pusey was born in 1895 in Washington. He joined the Navy in 1917 and spent much of the war patrolling the sea lanes around the British Isles.

    Here's a google search on other some the other WWI vets who passed away in the past year or so.

    Showdown In Latvia. Will Nato Hold Together Over Afghanistan?

    Afghanistan is a dysfunctional narco-state. It has nothing the world needs and much of what is not needed, drugs and terrorists in training. It supplies most of the world's heroin, mostly to Europe. The earnings of the drug trade are in part taxed by various terror organizations. The underground supply routes and the financing methods are perfect pipeline for contraband more deadly than the drugs themselves. The Afghan situation should be of more concern to Europe than the United States. It was recognized as such by the decision to use Nato as the instrument needed to bring order and law to an area that enjoys neither.

    There is trouble ahead.

    Tomorrow, Nato is scheduled to meet in Riga, Latvia. An article in this morning's Independent explains the problem, but simply stated, Europe is getting cold feet. You can be tempted to throw up your hands in despair, but here is where steady American leadership is required. Europe cannot give up on Afghanistan. Nato is the only vehicle that gives those more timid states the extra encouragement that they need to, dare I say it, "stay the course". The question is, how to do so?

    Nato urged to plan Afghanistan exit strategy as violence soars
    By Stephen Castle in Brussels and Kim Sengupta in Kabul, The Independent
    Published: 27 November 2006
    Nato's fragile unity over Afghanistan has begun to crack ahead of an important summit - with one public call to discuss an exit strategy from the Allied forces' bloody confrontation with the Taliban.

    While heads of government are to make a show of unity over Afghanistan at tomorrow's alliance summit in Riga, Belgium's Defence Minister has questioned the future of Nato's most important mission.

    And heads of the alliance's 26 nations are unlikely to agree to send reinforcements to Afghanistan - dealing a blow to Tony Blair's hopes that others will take up more of the increasingly heavy burden.

    In the bloodiest day of violence to grip the country in many weeks, a series of fierce clashes between Nato forces and Taliban fighters and a suicide bombing left 76 people dead and more than 45 injured yesterday, many of them children.

    Though Belgium only makes a small military contribution to the Nato mission, the Minister's comments will alarm senior figures at the alliance's headquarters where there is already concern that France is getting cold feet about its role in Afghanistan. Paris has remained publicly committed to the mission but Nato sources are concerned about the possibility of an eventual French withdrawal. They are pressing for an enhanced UN profile in Afghanistan to reassure the French who are suspicious about an expanded role for Nato because of Washington's hold over the alliance.

    André Flahaut, the Belgian Defence Minister, brought anxieties about the Afghan mission into the open when he suggested that, at the Riga summit, "we finally reflect on an exit strategy". Five years after the start of Western involvement in Afghanistan, Mr Flahaut calls into question its prospects of success. In an interview with Le Vif-L'Express magazine, Mr Flahaut argued: "The situation is deteriorating and, over time, Nato forces risk appearing like an army of occupation." Discussions of an exit strategy are the last thing the Nato top brass wants to hear because it is hoping to use this week to reinforce a message of unity on Afghanistan.

    The summit in Riga - the first to be held on ex-Soviet territory - will be attended by, among others, George Bush, Jacques Chirac and Tony Blair.

    The rising violence in Afghanistan could be seen yesterday, with Nato reporting the loss of one soldier and 57 insurgents killed during four separate attacks in the south. Local people said at least 12 civilians died during an air strike.

    Just hours after the fighting in Oruzgan province, a suicide bomber destroyed a restaurant in the Orgun district of Paktika. The blast is believed to have been aimed at an Afghan military commander but among the 25 dead and 20 injured were a number of children.

    With 37 countries, including a host of non-Nato nations, contributing to the operation in Afghanistan a total of about 32,000 troops have been assembled .

    In Riga, Nato is hoping for progress on one of the main problems facing commanders in the field: restrictions placed by national capitals on the use of their troops.

    "We are in a war to the death – craven concessions won't win it." - Janet Daley

    Call it "a tale of two old people", a man without progeny and a woman blessed with many. Two very different views of the world. Last week the woman, Fatma Omar An-Najar,a 64-year-old Palestinian grandmother blew herself up. Today, Pope Benedict XVI flies to Turkey. Two telling and opposed views of the world. The Pope has a mission to stop the insanity that induced the pathetic foolish old woman to end her life in a smear at an attempt at murder.

    Christians, Jews and right thinking people throughout the world should pray that he does not weaken in his mission.That assumption, about a mission, in itself is a prayer. It is a prayer that a Western man of integrity, who leads the largest Christian Church will continue to tell Islam what it does not want to hear. Short of John Howard in Australia, most, if not all western leaders, have succumbed to politically correct pap, insincere treacle about a religion of peace. Nonsense, and everyone still left with a functioning honest and analytical brain knew it was nonsense. But on it rolled. No bad news for bonzo. Must not scare the horses.

    We are up to our keister in bad news and "Fatma, the Martyred", should just about wrap up the "religion of peace" mantra.

    The Telegraph believes the Pope's visit to Turkey, to be the most potentially incendiary confrontation between Islam and the West since the defeat of the Turks at Vienna in 1683 brought an end to Islamic conquest in Europe. The article in this morning's paper has some powerful things to say:

    "The Pope will take with him an understanding that at the root of our problems in dealing with the Islamist death cult, there is a fundamental debate to be had about the role of human reason in political affairs.

    The remarks he made in a lecture in Regensburg, Germany, which implied that Islam rejected rationality while Christianity saw it as essential to faith were contentious (and almost certainly designed to be so), but they raised a question that almost no Western government has the courage to ask, let alone answer. How is a liberal democracy to deal with an illiberal religious minority in its midst?

    To understand the life-or-death significance of what the Pope does and says when he arrives in Istanbul, it is necessary to see this confrontation for what it is. This will involve some traumatic re-adjustment for most of the opinion-forming class in Britain. The first assumption that will have to go is the premise that Islamist terrorism can be understood in pragmatic, politically rational terms: in other words, that it can be addressed with the usual mechanisms of negotiation, concession and amended policy.

    The most readily accepted version of this is that a change to our policy in the Middle East will remove the grievances that "fuel" Muslim terrorism. The Cabinet has apparently been advised that all foreign policy decisions over the next decade should have the goal of thwarting terrorism in Britain and that this should involve "a significant reduction in the number and intensity of the regional conflicts that fuel terror activity". So Britain is contemplating constructing a foreign policy, specifically in the Middle East, that is designed to give in to terrorist blackmail.

    Never mind that the hereditary grievance of almost all British-born Muslim terrorists is the Kashmir question, to which the almost entirely irrelevant Palestine issue has been tacked on by political manipulators with larger ambitions. (The easiest way to make a connection between the Palestine-Israel conflict and the problem of Kashmir is to construct a global theory of persecution in which British-born Muslims may see themselves as born into a victimhood perpetrated by all non-Muslim nations upon Islam.

    That, as it happens, chimes perfectly with the true goal of Islamism, which is global supremacy.) So this ignominious posture – what you might call the "save our own skin; who cares what happens in the rest of the world?" view – is based on a false premise. It is not adjustments to our stance on Israel-Palestine that the international Islamist terror movement wants.

    That demand was just a bin Laden afterthought that went down a treat with the old reliable anti-Semitic interest in Europe. What Islamic fundamentalism plans to achieve (and it has made no secret of it) is a righting of the great wrong of 1492, when the Muslims were expelled from Spain: a return of the Caliphate, the destruction of corrupt Western values, and the establishment of Sharia law in all countries where Muslims reside. That is what we are up against.

    The Pope characterised it as a battle between reason and unreason. Scholars may debate the theological and historical soundness of his analysis. But what is indisputable is that this is not an argument that is within the bounds of diplomatic give and take, the traditional stuff of international policy argy-bargy. What we could plausibly offer to the enemy, even at our most craven, would never be sufficient."
    The entire article lays out in clear terms what the Pope is and the West is facing. Say a prayer and read this. The Telegraph, ( They do not pay me to post them)

    Sunday, November 26, 2006

    Islamic Retirement. 64-year-old female suicide bomber attacks Israeli troops in Gaza.

    In this photo released by Hamas, Thursday, Nov. 23, 2006, Palestinian Fatma Omar An-Najar is seen before carrying out a suicide bombing next to Israeli soldiers in the northern Gaza Strip. The 64-year-old Palestinian grandmother blew herself up near Israeli troops sweeping through northern Gaza on Thursday, accenting a day of clashes and rocket fire that threaten to derail fragile efforts for a cease-fire. There are conflicting reports that the old girl was told she was going to recover her virginity and enjoy explosive orgasms.
    Photograph by : AP Photo/Hamas

    Uh Oh! Will I Owe Putin An Apology? Did Alexander Litvinenko Commit Suicide?

    Is there a twist here? Or is there the possibility that Soviet, I mean Russian disinformation is in play.

    Nothing will surprise me, but I am prepared to admit that I was wrong. I doubt that I am. The Russian ability to lie is legendary and nothing they say should surprise anyone.

    It is a bizarre story, right out of the Cold War.

    The new suspicion is based on his deathbed statement. I have read and re-read the statement and I cannot see in it what the British authorities are finding suspicious. It certainly is dramatic.

    Have a read and tell us what you think. This is his statement:

    "I would like to thank many people. My doctors, nurses and hospital staff who are doing all they can for me; the British police who are pursuing my case with vigor and professionalism and are watching over me and my family. I would like to thank the British government for taking me under their care. I am honored to be a British citizen.

    I would like to thank the British public for their messages of support and for the interest they have shown in my plight.

    I thank my wife, Marina, who has stood by me. My love for her and our son knows no bounds.

    But as I lie here, I can distinctly hear the beating of wings of the angel of death. I may be able to give him the slip but I have to say my legs do not run as fast as I would like. I think, therefore, that this may be the time to say one or two things to the person responsible for my present condition.

    You may succeed in silencing me but that silence comes at a price. You have shown yourself to be as barbaric and ruthless as your most hostile critics have claimed.

    You have shown yourself to have no respect for life, liberty or any civilized value.

    You have shown yourself to be unworthy of your office, to be unworthy of the trust of civilized men and women.

    You may succeed in silencing one man but the howl of protest from around the world will reverberate, Mr. Putin, in your ears for the rest of your life. May God forgive you for what you have done, not only to me but to beloved Russia and its people."

    Litvinenko: police probe claims he may have killed himself
    By Sophie Goodchild and Francis Elliott The Independent
    Published: 26 November 2006
    Detectives investigating the death of Alexander Litvinenko were last night examining the possibility that the former spy killed himself to discredit Vladimir Putin.

    Increasing concerns over the reliability of the Russian dissident's death-bed testimony have prompted police to check every detail of Mr Litvinenko's version of events on 1 November, the day he said he was poisoned.

    The Russian dissident's death on British soil has triggered an unprecedented investigation headed by Scotland Yard's anti-terror branch and involving forensic experts and nuclear scientists from the Atomic Weapons Establishment at Aldermaston. They are still trawling through hours of CCTV footage and conducting detailed searches of the places he visited on the day he fell ill.

    Meanwhile, nuclear scientists are frantically trying to establish just how radioactive was the dose of polonium-210 that killed Mr Litvinenko. Traces of the material - powerful enough to trigger a nuclear warhead - were found on tables at the Itsu sushi restaurant in Piccadilly, a London hotel, and his home in Muswell Hill.

    But yesterday the Metropolitan Police were still treating Mr Litvinenko's death as an "unexplained death", not as a murder inquiry. One source close to the investigation said: "He was a guy with a colourful past. It's not straightforward."

    Officers are working on several theories, including the seemingly implausible possibility that he took his own life.

    The 43-year-old's death on Thursday evening has led to a health scare, with officials yesterday urging anyone who came into contact with Mr Litvinenko to contact a special helpline. The Health Protection Agency has stressed that the risk is minimal, but has also admitted that this is an "unprecedented" incident.

    Detectives are still no nearer to establishing just how Mr Litvinenko, a fierce critic of President Alexander Putin's regime, came to ingest such high doses of polonium.

    The presence of radioactive particles in the restaurant where he ate more than three weeks ago adds weight to theories that the poison could have been sprinkled over his food.

    Some reports in the Russian press have suggested that Mr Litvinenko's death could have been a "martyrdom operation", on the grounds that no state would want to attract the attention of a radioactive poison plot.

    But British officials warned against assuming that the spy staged his own dramatic demise.

    One senior source warned: "You have to remember this guy was on his guard 24 hours a day. Normal assassination methods may well not have worked."

    Additional reporting Sonia Elks

    Saudi Corruption, English Obstinacy, French Cynicism and The Eurofighter Typhoon.

    Human beings struggling for power, position and wealth is nothing new. The English and French did not invent the process, but in their individual ways, they have refined the art form. This is a rather delicious story for the connoisseur political junkie.

    It combines the English respect for law and order and legal process, the corruption of the Saudi Government and the French, well, being French.

    Did I mention that one great big lovely industrial mountain size heap of money is involved? Almost $150 billion dollars. That will either clear your vision or cloud it. The French are rarely myopic when it comes to money.

    The basic story is that the government of Saudi Arabia is set to tear up its £76bn agreement with Britain for Eurofighter Typhoons and hand the contract to France if the British, Serious Fraud Office, opens up secret Swiss bank accounts allegedly linked to members of the Saudi royal family. The Saudis and Chirac are amazed that anyone would consider such a thing and are hoping the British will come to their senses. (Chirac is excluded from the British coming to their senses part). Chirac has other ideas for the Saudis.

    Saudi Arabia is considering buying the Rafale fighter plane, made by France's national contractor Dassault. It is understood President Jacques Chirac has stepped up his lobbying of the Saudi authorities. I think it can also be said the when the Saudis asked Chirac if there would be any chance of a French investigation of Saudi finances he gave them an immediate "ce ne sera problème, pas un", or as "day say in dabronx, 'fugetabout it'".

    French angle for Saudi billions
    The Telegraph

    By Helen Power and Sylvia Pfeifer, Sunday Telegraph
    Last Updated: 12:25am GMT 26/11/2006

    The government of Saudi Arabia is set to tear up its £76bn agreement with Britain for Eurofighter Typhoons and hand the contract to France if the Serious Fraud Office opens up secret Swiss bank accounts allegedly linked to members of the Saudi royal family.

    King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia
    Senior British government sources last night predicted that the Saudi authorities would stand by their promise to cancel the recently signed order for 72 Eurofighter Typhoons if the SFO goes ahead with plans to open up potentially embarrassing bank accounts as part of its long-running investigation into allegations of bribery.

    The Eurofighters are being built by a European consortium including BAE Systems, Britain's largest defence contractor. Now, Saudi Arabia is considering buying the Rafale, made by France's national contractor Dassault. It is understood President Jacques Chirac has stepped up his lobbying of the Saudi authorities.

    "I think they [the Saudis] genuinely will follow through with this threat," said a government source. "Chirac is waiting in the wings. They are desperate to sell the Rafale."

    But a senior defence official said the SFO is unlikely to pull back from its investigation focusing on allegations that BAE bribed Saudi defence procurement officials with millions of pounds-worth of lavish gifts including holidays in Europe and a gold Rolls-Royce in the 1990s to ensure the Saudis continued to buy from Britain under an original defence contract, Al-Yamamah.

    "The Saudis don't understand how they can sign a big contract with the UK Government, yet here we are, accusing them of dodgy dealings. The Government can't simply quash the SFO investigation. It is between a rock and a hard place," he said.

    The row could have far-reaching consequences for Britain's lucrative trading relationship with Saudi Arabia and threatens tens of thousands of UK jobs. It would also impact BAE, which has denied any wrongdoing.

    Although the Al-Yamamah contract is structured as a country-to-country deal, the company has benefited substantially from the agreement in recent years. Mike Turner, the company's chief executive, was quoted last year as saying: "We've had £40bn from Al-Yamamah in the past 20 years; this could be another £40bn."

    The lucrative contract, to supply Saudi Arabia with Tornados, was negotiated by Sir Richard Evans, the former chairman of BAE, in the 1980s, with support from then prime minister Margaret Thatcher. At the time, it was Britain's largest export deal.

    Another senior government source indicated that feelings are running high in the Desert Kingdom because the government of King Abdullah cannot understand why, when it was at pains to run an open and transparent procurement process on Eurofighter, it is being penalised for an old military contract dating back to Margaret Thatcher.

    The SFO launched its investigation three years ago. Since then the Saudi authorities have become increasingly concerned at the way in which members of the royal family have become embarrassed by investigations into alleged accounting irregularities.

    The Sunday Telegraph first reported two years ago that the royal family had warned the Government it would never deal with the British arms industry again if any of its members were dragged into the inquiry.

    Saturday, November 25, 2006

    Part II, The Cascade Has Begun.

    As Iran extracts plutonium and the US extracts itself from its "imperial misadventure," another cascade has just begun.

    A cascade of bad news and recriminations begins in earnest as the New York Times brings the first of many post-mortem reports sure to embroil the country in a domestic quagmire of political warfare. Meanwhile as Iran consolidates its power and influence in Iraq, Syria and Lebanon:

    US Find Iraq Insurgency Has Funds To sustain Itself.

    BAGHDAD, Nov. 25 — The insurgency in Iraq is now self-sustaining financially, raising tens of millions of dollars a year from oil smuggling, kidnapping, counterfeiting, corrupt charities and other crimes that the Iraqi government and its American patrons have been largely unable to prevent, a classified United States government report has concluded.
    I heard somewhere this week that of the 3000 tanker trucks used to transport oil to Turkey, 2000 are involved in smuggling. Googling Iraqi Oil smuggling shows that if there's anything the Iraqis can do well, it's smuggle oil. They have years of experience during the porous "embargo" of Saddam Hussein. There's no reason to believe the smuggling will end when the US leaves.
    The report, obtained by The New York Times, estimates that groups responsible for many of the insurgent and terrorist attacks are raising $70 million to $200 million a year from illegal activities. It says that $25 million to $100 million of the total comes from oil smuggling and other criminal activity involving the state-owned oil industry aided by “corrupt and complicit” Iraqi officials.

    As much as $36 million a year comes from ransoms paid to save hundreds of kidnap victims in Iraq, the report said. It estimates that unnamed foreign governments — previously identified by senior American officials as including France and Italy — paid Iraqi kidnappers $30 million in ransom last year.

    A copy of the report was made available to The Times by American officials in Iraq, who said they acted in the belief that the findings could improve American understanding of the challenges the United States faces in Iraq.

    Completed in June, the report was compiled by an interagency working group that is investigating the financing of militant groups in Iraq.

    Improve "American understanding" or drive the final nail in the coffin for public support? Who is this "interagency working group that delivers such wonderful and optimistic news?"

    A Bush administration official confirmed the group’s existence and said it is studying how money was moved into and around the country. He said the group, led by the National Security Council, drew its members from the C.I.A., the F.B.I., the Defense Intelligence Agency, the State Department, the Treasury Department, and the United States Army’s Central Command, which oversees the war in Iraq. The group of about a dozen, the official said, is led by Juan Zarate, deputy national security adviser on combating terrorism.

    If the NY Times article is true, the consequences are gloomy. We are entering the political season of witch hunts over the abysmal occupation of Iraq. Expect to see and hear unending stories and investigations of incompetence, collusion, and corruption. The cries for the scalps of George Bush and company will reach a crescendo not heard since the Civil War when Lincoln was very nearly run out of Washington on a rail. Let's hope that amidst all the scalp hunting hullabaloo, cooler heads will also realize what the report implies for the future. The oil wealth of Iraq could be used to finance worldwide jihad on a level that has not been matched before and if partisan politics gains the upper hand, the guerrilla theater in D.C. will leave the country totally unprepared for the jihadi onslaught of terrorists with unlimited funding and the ability to control the flow of oil.

    FUBAR? Yes, but it will get much worse.

    Comment from 2164th: The biggest critique of the Iraq War from the Left, the enemies of the US, and reluctant supporters, is that there was no direct connection to 911 and no immediate threat of WMD. After the WMD threat was proved to be exaggerated, The Administration retort was that Iraq was the time and place to take on AQ and the jihadis. Better to fight and by implication, defeat them there. But what of the facts? One word suffices to answer. Iraq. No further comment is necessary. Say, Iraq, and everyone gets it. The jihad continues.

    In our previous post, we look back at Afghanistan five years ago. Today the tactics, developed in Iraq by the jihadis in Iraq are being applied in Afghanistan. For one, there were no suicide bombers of consequence then. There has been an undeniable metastasis. A terrorist network has been developed and expanded and is being financed in innovative and resourceful ways. There is no evidence that the threat has been reduced. None. Does this mean we can retreat, or "cut and run"? No, it does not. We are stuck with a worsened world situation and a greater responsibility to confront it. We need a 'Fixer in Chief" and we don't have one.

    Americans United For Victory. That Was Then. Today, Iraqi Entrepreneurship Rules.

    Almost five years to the day, a battle took place in the town of Tarin Kowt in Southern Afghanistan. In less than three weeks, the successful outcome of the battle in the capital of Uruzgan province led to the fall of the Taliban regime in the entire region right up to Afghanistan's second largest city, Kandahar. Just eleven US 'Green Berets' with air support; a few dozen Afghan guerrilla fighters and an assorted group of local inhabitants from the town fought off a massive onslaught of some 1000 Taliban fighters.

    So begins a fascinating story over at Radio Netherlands. Do not miss the group picture. How things have changed. Was it inevitable that the US consensus on WOT would end? Would a President Kerry have made a difference. That was the Choice! Read the article and send your reaction to RN. They provide an interesting English Language service.

    Whit, ever on the lookout for something interesting found this little gem. Is there a story here?

    From the New York Times.
    US Find Iraq Insurgency Has Funds To sustain Itself.
    BAGHDAD, Nov. 25 — The insurgency in Iraq is now self-sustaining financially, raising tens of millions of dollars a year from oil smuggling, kidnapping, counterfeiting, corrupt charities and other crimes that the Iraqi government and its American patrons have been largely unable to prevent, a classified United States government report has concluded.
    I heard somewhere this week that of the 3000 tanker trucks used to transport oil to Turkey, 2000 are involved in smuggling. Googling Iraqi Oil smuggling shows that if there's anything the Iraqis can do well, it's smuggle oil. They have years of experience during the "embargo."

    Can Anyone Rescue US Foreign Policy?

    Two stories highlight the near collapse of US foreign policy. The first is the report from AFP, via BreitBart on the incredulous timing of the Russians delivering air defense rocket systems to Iran. This happens within days of Bush meeting Putin and signing the Russians into the World Trade Organization. This affront to the US demonstrates the dangerous lack of respect Putin has for George W. Bush and his Administration. Can anyone care to explain to me what US foreign policy objectives are in play via Russia? The Russians are rushing to deliver arms to Venezuela in the Americas and to the mullahs in Tehran. Who are those weapons to be used against? What is the US response to this provocation? There is none.

    US Russian diplomacy has not been so inept since Kennedy botched the "Bay of Pigs" adventure. That misstep by Kennedy resulted in a huge miscalculation by Kruschev that almost ended in a nuclear war over Cuba.

    There is no talent, no wisdom and no practical and useful results from US diplomacy with Russia. It gets worse in Iraq. Militias launched apparent revenge attacks on Sunni mosques in Baghdad in the wake of the deadliest string of bombings against Shiites since the war began in 2003.

    Iraq's warring Shiite and Sunni communities forced President Jalal Talabani to postpone his visit to Tehran where he was to meet his hardline counterpart Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Saturday. Why are they meeting? Iraq is collapsing into all out civil war. Syria, the various factions in Iraq, and Iran, have all come to the same conclusion. The US has no solution other than the sporadic restrained use of the US military. Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr threatened to quit the national unity government if Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki meets US President George W. Bush in Jordan on November 29. Now there is fear and respect.

    Perhaps Sadr developed his loathing and lack of respect for US power when earlier in the war, The Administration worried about the paint being chipped off some unfriendly mosques. That was happening at the time US Military Police were handling korans with white gloves. We should have taken the gloves off then and with Sadr as well, but the Administration said no. How are the mosques doing these days? Not too well.

    Four Sunni mosques were attacked by militias in western Baghdad, a security official said, in an apparent Shiite revenge attack for Thursday's deadly bombings targeting the capital's district of Sadr City. Those bombings resulted in at least 202 people killed. Remember the gyrations the Administration put the military through earlier in the war when it came to mosques being used as refuge points? The Arabs and Sunnis will take a mosque down without a blink. The Arab Street turned out to be a myth as has the prowess of US Diplomacy under The Bush Administration.
    Russia has begun deliveries of the Tor-M1 air defence rocket system to Iran, Russian news agencies quoted military industry sources as saying, in the latest sign of a Russian-US rift over Iran.

    "Deliveries of the Tor-M1 have begun. The first systems have already been delivered to Tehran," ITAR-TASS quoted an unnamed, high-ranking source as saying Friday.

    The United States has pressed Russia to halt military sales to Iran, which Washington accuses of harbouring secret plans to build a nuclear weapon.

    Moscow has consistently defended its weapons trade with Iran. Russian Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov said the contract for 29 rocket systems, signed in December last year, was legitimate because the Tor-M1 has a purely defensive role.

    ITAR-TASS reported that the rockets were to be deployed around Iran's nuclear sites, including the still incomplete, Russian-built atomic power station at Bushehr.

    In August, Washington announced sanctions against several companies, including Russian arms exporter Rosoboronexport, for supplying technology to Iran that could allegedly be used to develop missile technology and weapons of mass destruction.

    Under the sanctions no US company can deal with foreign companies on the sanctions list for two years.

    A spokesman for Rosoboronexport contacted by AFP would not confirm or deny the reports about the Tor-M1 delivery, which were also issued by the Interfax news agency.

    The Tor-M1 is a low to medium-altitude missile fired from a tracked vehicle against airplanes, helicopters and other airborne targets.

    The news came as the UN Security Council continued to consider possible sanctions against Iran's nuclear and ballistic missile activity in response to the Islamic republic's suspect nuclear programme.

    The major powers have been debating a draft resolution drawn up by Britain, France and Germany that would impose limited sanctions on Iran's nuclear and ballistic missile sectors for Tehran's failure to comply with an earlier UN resolution on halting enrichment.

    China and Russia, both close economic partners with Iran, argue the measures are too extensive, while Washington has pressed for tougher action.