“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."

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.


  1. 2164th, there may be a self-financing terror network in Iraq, but at least it's not al-Qaeda if this Strategy Page post has any veracity. If so, then the terror network in Iraq will be more or less confined to Iraq, lest the al-Qaeda cells outside of that country feel their turf is being walked on. We see this when most of the big headline-grabbers in Iraq are intersectarian hits.

  2. Al Qaeda's Last Stand in Anbar ?
    Are you Believe ????...

  3. Al Qaeda's Last Stand in Anbar ??

    Are you believe ????

  4. 2164th wrote:

    "There is no evidence that the threat has been reduced. None."

    Sooooo, all this blood and treasure and we have failed to reduce the threat. In fact, I think you would agree, the threat has increased. Should we not learn from the tactics used to date and modify our course of action? You would think so!

  5. And there, ash, is the bind.

    Each of US see the problems in Iraq from our own perspective and experience.

    There are as many ways forward as there are talking heads on TV.

    Which way is chosen depends on the perspective of the threat.
    How does King Abdullah view the threat, how does does Mr Blair see the threat, how does Mr Maliki see the threat? More importantly, how does Mr Bush view the threat, today.

    Does Mr Bush see a Regional War or a Road Map to Regional Peace. That is the question that awaits an answer.

    60 days ago the talk was that in 60 to 90 days the Maliki Government would control Security in Baghdaddy City or ...?

    There is a piece in Prospect Magazine:
    "... Objectively, it must be concluded that the disorders in Iraq do not constitute a civil war but are nearer to a politico-military struggle for power. Such struggles in Muslim countries defy resolution because Islam is irreconcilably divided over the issue of the succession to Muhammad. It might be said that Islam is in a permanent state of civil war (at least where there is a significant minority of the opposing sect) and that authority in Muslim lands can be sustained only by repression if the state takes on a religious cast, since neither Shia nor Sunni communities can concede legitimacy to their opponents.

    The Lebanese civil war of 1975-90 offers perhaps the closest example of the sort of outcome towards which Iraq might be heading. An Iraqi civil war, with seven main factions (pro-Iranian Shias, nationalist Shias, Islamist Sunnis, Baathist Sunnis, pro-state secularist forces, and two major Kurdish mini-governments), would very likely offer the confused and confusing array of shifting allegiances and foggy front lines that characterised much of the Lebanese conflict. ..."

    Which seems accurate.

    At Belmont young w.w. is pasting the "new" Army CounterInsurgency Doctrine, PC approved from the successes of Baghdad, not what we operated with in the School of the Americas or in the Phoenix Project.

    The "new" Doctrine has never produced a success, but it's easy to paste.

    So as soon as we decide who the enemy is, the way forward will be easier to chart.

  6. Pardon my lack of imagination, but this "There is no evidence that the threat has been reduced. None." begs the question, what form would such evidence take?

    If there had been more 911s in an OIF-less future, sometime in the last 5 years, how on earth would we ever know?

    I know this is a flabby question, but it is no flabbier than the quote, all due respect.

  7. aye, Desert Rat we agree on much...yet we differ greatly.

    Naming the enemy is very important and I believe much hinges upon that In fact, trying to name the enemy brings into stark relief the futility of our present course fo I think that the enemy really cannot be easily named. We have tried, but we pinned the name on a tactic, used by many, and that has led us off into absurd directions - Don Quixote and his windmills spring to mind. Alas the very act of chasing the windmills has got our finger stuck in a chinese finger trap - more troops, more power - for we are great, righteous, and powerful, and this coupled with our 'can do' spirit dictates that the solution is ours to deliver....if only we can figure out the precise formula. We thus charge off at the windmills...

  8. Subtle touches regarding perspective are everywhere in Cervantes novel: characters talk about a woman who is the cause of the death of a suitor, portraying her as evil, but when she comes on stage, she gives a different perspective entirely that makes Quixote (and thus the reader) defend her. When Quixote descends into a cave, Cervantes admits that he does not know what went on there.

    Quixote's adventures tend to involve situations in which he attempts to apply a knight's sure, simple morality to situations in which much more complex issues are at hand. For example, upon seeing a band of galley slaves being mistreated by their guards, he believes their cries of innocence and attacks the guards. After they are freed, he demands that they honor his lady Dulcinea, but instead they pelt him with stones and leave.

    (from wiki, my bolding)

  9. Don Quixote Like Voltaire's Candide,is an optimist, always searching for the rosy way to interpret life's misfortunes. Sort of like our DR Pangloss.

  10. and my main memory of Quixote is of some actor prancing about a stage as if on a horse trying to joust a spinning windmill....

  11. you may have missed the point, memory aside.

  12. the hit song (from the musical "Man of La Mancha") was of course "The Impossible Dream".

  13. Habu and Allen were fighting to probe the depths of resonable discourse. They were exploring new territory. I always try and attack the message, although I fell off the edge with Peter boston, whoever and wherever he is.

  14. No rufus, you are a universal attacker, but you go for the attack on ideas and ideology. You rarely go to the personal although I believe you did call me an asshole once. I may or may have not been one at that time, but my record on that is somewhat spotty so I won't quibble.

  15. peterboston, who was, he claimed, at times a Airborne Engineer Company Commander, then later a chopper pilot in Cambodia.

    When he was called on it, he'd forgotten the chopper pilot claim. Pled ignorance, which in his case was easy.

    Knew next to nothing about Army Engineering, doubt if he's even seen in a huey, much less fly one.

  16. pretty funny guy, too--many laffs, if you're twisted enough--

  17. "... BAGHDAD, Iraq - Followers of the militant Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr took over state-run television Saturday to denounce the Iraqi government, label Sunnis "terrorists" and issue what appeared to many viewers as a call to arms.

    The two-hour broadcast from a community gathering in the heart of the Shiite militia stronghold of Sadr City included three members of al-Sadr's parliamentary bloc, who took questions from outraged residents demanding revenge for a series of car bombings that killed some 200 people Thursday.

    With Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki relegated to the sidelines, brazen Sunni-Shiite attacks continue unchecked despite a 24-hour curfew over Baghdad. Al-Sadr's Mahdi Army militia now controls wide swaths of the capital, his politicians are the backbone of the Cabinet, and his followers deeply entrenched in the Iraqi security forces. Sectarian violence has spun so rapidly out of control since the Sadr City blasts, however, that it's not clear whether even al-Sadr has the authority - or the will - to stop the cycle of bloodshed.

    "This is live and, God willing, everyone will hear me: We are not interested in sidewalks, water services or anything else. We want safety," an unidentified Sadr City resident said as the televised crowd cheered. "We want the officials. They say there is no sectarian war. No, it is sectarian war, and that's the truth."
    In the Diyala province north of Baghdad, Sunni insurgents stormed into two Shiite homes, lined up 21 men and shot them to death in front of women and children, police there said. Later in the day, a Shiite television station showed footage of the victims' burials. ...
    Hareth al-Dhari, leader of the militant Association of Muslim Scholars, declared Iraqi efforts toward a unity government "dead" and said the current violence is political rather than theological.

    "The occupying forces have been giving cover to the militias and criminal gangs," al-Dhari said. "The government has been seen setting the atmosphere for them with the curfews to aid them in catching the victims and carrying out their attacks."

    Al-Maliki's administration acknowledged it was powerless to interrupt the pro-Sadr program on the official Iraqiya channel, during which Sadr City residents shouted, "There is no government! There is no state!" Several speakers described neighborhoods and well-known Sunni politicians as "terrorists" and threatened them with reprisal.

    "We'll obviously try to control them as much as we can, but when they (kill) more than 150 people in bombings, they have the right to speak," said Bassam al Husseini, one of Maliki's top advisers. "What are we going to do? We can't stop this. It's too hot right now."

    Sunni politicians vowed to file complaints against the channel for inciting sectarian violence. Ordinary Sunnis were shocked to hear their neighborhoods singled out for attack on the government's station.

    "I got four phone calls from friends telling me to change the channel to Iraqiya and see what's happening," said Mohamed Othman, 27, a Sunni resident of Ameriya, one of the districts mentioned in the program. "I think this is an official declaration of civil war against Sunnis. They're going to push us to join al-Qaida to protect ourselves."

  18. The whole thing--from 911 forward, has been beyond belief. You couldn't make it up, no one would believe you.

  19. yep, hard to feel any sympathy for 'em, for sure. handed a new future on a platter, and didn't want it.

  20. Sherman Adams Anti-Rust laws, i thought they wuz.

  21. Some analysts are certain that housing is gonna bring oil to 40 again, others think we've seen the bottom of house and that demand is gonna get us back to 75 mid year. Crazy. "Vomit" is right.

  22. Valero did get a couple of rec's over the wkend reading so far.

  23. I guess the trade story next week will be the Dollar, looks like.
    Walmart was a little off on black friday--tho the overall story was strong, up 6% yoy.

  24. We may get some chop but for now, there's a strong bid under stocks, globe-ass-wide.

  25. So, was it Oswald alone, or the Mob?

  26. 'Plunging' is too strong a word for me--at this point. Euro is getting a boost from all three of the big equity mkts hitting highs, and Yen is strengthening on a spreading flood of confidence in Shinzo Abe. So, we're measuring against two big boys on a roll. Gold had a nice bump Friday, but still way off spring highs. "Safe-Haven" ought to continue its magic on that long rate--and help house stabilize. The house stocks already seem to've bottomed--Pulte, KB, Lennar, Horton, Centex--all of 'em, really.

    Enemies ought to realize they could hurt us more by smoking the peace pipe, and pulling back all that "safe-haven" to their own shores.

  27. sounds reasonable to me. I wish 'em luck--the left-wing attack on a company that has done so much for 100 million little folk so that a few thousand union bosses can can make a $$$ grab, just frosts my ass, and makes me a long-term WMT holder.

  28. I like the Yuan climb, too--the slow, steady appreciation ain't sexy enough for Smoot Schumer's backers, but it's just what the doctor ordered for the mkts, from the central bankers to the Walmart customers.

  29. well, ole sand man got me. g'nite all, and you too, possum, wherever yo is.

  30. With the failure of the 5,280th ceasefire within minutes of the deadline, Mr. Olmert and his Palestinian peace partners are hard at work on ceasefire number 5,281.

    Palestinian attacks go on despite truce

    Oxymorons abound

  31. Gateway Pundit is all over the untimely death of ceasefire 5,280.

    Palestinians Take About An Hour to Break Ceasefire!

    All we are saying is give peace a chance.

  32. There are lines that may not be crossed.

    No Marine would demean the service of another Marine in a fit of pique.

    Obviously, there are some here who don't get it. Looking at the condition of the US today, that comes as no surprise.

    There are lines that may not be crossed.

  33. I side with Allen on this. No man has the right to attack the military service of another man. The wearing of the uniform is a privilege and a duty. You can disrespect the man but not the uniform and the institution of those who wore the uniform. Attack me for being stupid, or attack me for being a stupid American, but attack me as an American and I expect reinforcements.

    Live by the sword , then die by the sword.

  34. Let me revise that slightly. You can attack anything you like, but when doing so expect consequences.

  35. yep--in the olde deep souf, you're allowed (because you'll take it anyway) your "Saturday night" self, and then you pay it back with your "Sunday Morning" self.

    Maybe it's a small-town necessity, but the two selves are not compared to each other, by custom.

    Old Saturday Night gets a little rough, but then the atonement is what gets the fields plowed during the week.

    Works like a charm, as far as we held together culturally even though we were invaded and despoiled by the Yankee Bluebelly Army, and we coped with the low-down dirty scum sucking godless devil-worshipping foreign rapists and chicken stealers, without ever once getting upset or miffed.

  36. You're just lucky the Okies didn't get a mind to straighten your asses out.

  37. Habu is welcome on the site. Enough said.

  38. I'm studying the feeding and breeding habits of migrant Snails as my part of the Death Worship.
    Via Chemical Warfare, of course.

  39. Plain old table salt will do-in a snail faster than anything. Slugs too of course. You don't have to feed it to 'em--just sprinkle it on em. Kills 'em and makes more tasty at the same time!

  40. Ole George gave my age group quite a lift, winning the champeenship back at age 45 or so. That was a fine, fine day!