“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 16, 2006

Democrats Sending A Valentine to the Iraqis.

Whatever the Democrats decide to do with Iraq, one thing is clear. They will not be staying the course. You can feel the change. The White House is going to wait for the Baker Commission and look for the Democratic reaction to that report. There will have to be a meeting of the minds between the moderate Democrats and the Republicans. The far Left in the Democratic Party are not going to support anything but a withdrawal. The Democrats cannot afford to be seen in a full scale retreat. That leaves only one practical alternative and that is a phased withdrawal of a significant number of US troops.

The withdrawal will be either based on a time line or some other mile post. The recent taking of one hundred and fifty hostages in Baghdad by what appeared to be police puts the entire program of the "US standing down as the Iraqis stand up" in serious question. The US is not capable of selecting and training reliable police under the existing situation.

Some have suggested that Iraq be sectioned off into three countries. That may be so, but that is their call and silly to suggest the US could enforce that. That is something that The US should stay away from as that will be a public relations nightmare and a horror show. The Christian Science Monitor discusses the situation for the Democrats:

Now, how to put Iraqis in charge
Democrats, buoyed by their midterm win, favor a "tough love" approach with the Iraqi government.

By Peter Grier | Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor
WASHINGTON – On Capitol Hill, there is near agreement on at least one aspect of Iraq policy: the Iraqis themselves need to shoulder more of the burden of stabilizing their country. But this consensus breaks down over the obvious follow-up question. How?
Many Democrats, newly emboldened by their election victories, favor an approach that might be labeled "tough love." It goes something like this: If the US plans a phased pullout of troops within four to six months, the Iraqi government will face up to what has to be done.

"This is not precipitous; it is a responsible way to change the dynamic in Iraq," said Sen. Carl Levin (D) of Michigan, soon to be chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, at a Wednesday hearing.

But the White House - and the top generals of the US military - favor a strategy that they consider more nurturing. The US needs to intensify efforts to train the Iraqi armed forces to fight for themselves, according to Gen. John Abizaid, US commander in the Middle East. A scheduled US pullout might simply cause Iraq's sectarian factions to prepare for chaos to come.

The gap between these approaches suggests that despite the recent shift in US politics, in Washington there are heated debates over Iraq yet to come.

"I believe in my heart of hearts that the Iraqis must win this battle with our help," General Abizaid told the Senate Armed Services Committee.

The Iraq debate, post-midterms

Democrats don't ascend to control of the House and Senate until next year. But the promise of future power can lead to assertiveness in the present, and this week, with Congress back in session, Democrats were not shy about pressing their case for a change in strategy in Iraq.

Both the Senate and House armed services panels held full-dress hearings on Iraq Wednesday, the first such inquiries in months. At both, the established fault lines between party members, and among them, were on full display.

Senator Levin for instance, a Democratic party elder on military policy, kept pressing the idea of a phased pull-out, despite General Abizaid's objections. On the opposite end of the spectrum, Sen. John McCain (R) of Arizona, a likely front-runner for the 2008 GOP presidential nomination, waved about his proposal: an increase in troops of at least 20,000 to help bring stability to Baghdad.

Not that General Abizaid liked Senator McCain's ideas any better than those of Senator Levin.

Such an increase in US strength would have a very negative effect on public opinion in Iraq, noted Abizaid. And he questioned whether the US military was large enough overall to commit to a larger force in Iraq.

"When you look at the overall American force pool that's available out there, the ability to sustain that commitment is simply not something that we have right now with the size of the Army and the Marine Corps," said Abizaid.

And in a remarkably sharp comment about the political atmosphere in Washington, the top US military commander in the Middle East commented that some aspects of the search for alternative strategies seemed to him unseemly.

When I come to Washington, I feel despair [here]," Abizaid told the Senate panel. "When I'm in Iraq with my commanders, when I talk to our soldiers, when I talk to the Iraqi leadership, they are not despairing," General Abizaid insisted.

That said, comments this week from other US officials suggests that the intelligence community, at least, takes a dark view of the current Iraqi situation.

Iraqi insurgent attacks against US and coalition forces have increased from about 70 per month in January to 180 in October, according to the director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, Lt. Gen. Michael Maples. The rate of attacks on Iraqi civilians has increased fourfold over that same period of time.

"The perception of unchecked violence is creating an atmosphere of fear and hardening sectarianism, which is empowering militias and vigilante groups and reducing confidence in government and security forces," General Maples told the Senate Armed Services Committee.

Gen. Michael Hayden, director of the Central Intelligence Agency, was no more sunny.

"We're now face to face with whole societies that are in profound, and, frankly, volatile transitions, and whose fate will directly affect ... the security of the United States," said General Hayden.

Political consequences for Democrats

Given this situation, the newly empowered Democrats face a difficult political and substantive situation, says Loren Thompson, a defense expert and chief operating officer at the Lexington Institute think tank in Washington.

If they force a redeployment of US troops, they may get blamed for any resulting violence in Iraq. Yet if they don't force a redeployment of US troops, when 2008 rolls around they and their candidates will have partial ownership of whatever the US situation in Iraq is at that time.

Sen. Levin and his cohorts are right in at least pressing the US military leadership for some sort of figures in regard to how long continued training of Iraq forces might take.

Otherwise the training mission "becomes an open-ended justification for sticking around," says Thompson.


  1. 2164th cited:

    "Not that General Abizaid liked Senator McCain's ideas any better than those of Senator Levin. Such an increase in US strength would have a very negative effect on public opinion in Iraq, noted Abizaid."

    I think we have pinpointed all our problems right there. Would Patton have invaded the Saar or fought the Palatinate campaign if he had been as sensitive to public opinion in the Rhineland as Abizaid is to public opinion in Iraq?

  2. Another Piece reccomended by Bill roggio.

    This one concerns Somolia, the "new" Afghanistan, or not.

    rufus will tell US that Somolia can never be a threat, It is outside the US zone of care, they have no oil. Just like Afghanistan did not.

    Training and cross training, one of the comments t Roggio's says that 100 Somali were in Lebanon during that 34 day FTX.

  3. They only sent 19 to NYC via Boston, rufus.

    So I'm not sure what they'll even need 34,000 for.

    All they'll need next time is the same. Training bases do not have to be close to oil infrastructure. My initial Army training was at Ft Lost in the Woods, not an oil well in sight.

    They trained demolition specialists there, 120 at a time.

    The idea that the US can ignore the Enemy where they are inconvienent for US is comical, as well as sad, after the lessons of Afghanistan and 9-11..

  4. Warrants for a suspect that is not even in the Country.
    Now that is a great step forward for the Iraqi Government, to be sure.
    In a Country that will not serve the murder warrant on Mr al-Sadr.
    Bet he's running scared, now that the Government has issued a Warrant for one of his opponents.

  5. Why would it do that, or how?

    Or does the Iraqi Government really control the borders?
    Does it control Anbar, if so why were 2,200 Marines ordered deployeed there, today?

    This Warrant is just more provocation to split the Sunni out of the Federal Coalition.

    Without their "share" of the oil. Bet the exodus of Sunni from Iraq continuues apace, 2 or 3,000 per week.

  6. dr
    They only sent 19 to NYC via Boston, rufus.

    Looks like one might have been heading your way Rat.

    Somali Terror School Graduate?

    DETROIT — A man was arrested at Detroit Metropolitan Airport after officials say they found him carrying $78,883 in cash and a laptop computer containing information about nuclear materials and cyanide. Assistant U.S. Attorney Leonid Feller said Sisayehiticha Dinssa of Dallas is a potential risk to the community and federal agents want to get a warrant to search his computer more thoroughly, The Detroit News reported.
    Feller said Dinssa arrived in Detroit from Nigeria by way of Amsterdam and was headed for Phoenix.

    Probably not a Somali product, but he did depart from the Dark Continent.

  7. Good flight schools here.
    I saw that the other day, also, sf
    But piling on, it'd not be fair.

    Especially right after the latest polls.

  8. desert rat wrote:

    Warrants for a suspect that is not even in the Country. Now that is a great step forward for the Iraqi Government, to be sure.

    They got the idea from the Germans when they indicted Rummy for war crimes.

  9. rufus said:

    It's an effective ploy that's as old as "government," itself. Catch the troublemaker out of town, and get an arrest warrant.

    In unrelated news, Muqtada the Mini Ayatollah cancelled that trip out of Sadr City.

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

  11. There appears to be a challenge as to how to manage the withdrawl from Iraq.
    I think we can look to a Hollywood classic for THE definitive answer.
    In the Bushwood Country Club men's locker room Ted Knight ax Bill Murray how he measures himself against other golfers.
    "By height"
    There's your answer, by height. The big guys make big targets so they go first, then mediums , then small.
    It will entirely change the meaning of "being short" but hey, change is like all over the place.