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

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Trying to Find The Right Hand For Iraq.

It seems as if "staying the course" may have changed course. Bush is signaling with all the subtlety of a couple of M114 155 mm howitzers, that change is in the air. Change is definitely in the air.

Bush to meet with Iraqi PM next week 2006-11-22 10:14:34
WASHINGTON, Nov. 21 (Xinhua) -- U.S. President George W. Bush said Tuesday that he will meet with Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki in Jordan late next week to discuss recent developments and "transferring security responsibility."

"We will focus our discussions on current developments in Iraq and progress made to date in the deliberations of a high level joint committee on transferring security responsibility and the role of the region in supporting Iraq," Bush said in a statement.

"We reiterate our commitment to building the foundations of a peaceful, democratic and secure Iraq and to strengthening the partnership between our two nations," Bush said.

Bush and Maliki are also expected to meet with Jordan's King Abdullah II while in Amman.

Bush has repeatedly said that the United States will not withdraw its troops out of Iraq before its mission is accomplished. There are now about 140,000 U.S. troops stationed in Iraq."

Pat Buchanan is not impressed. (hat tip Desert Rat) He has some tough comments:

Befuddled Superpower
By Patrick Buchanan
"For if the trumpet give an uncertain sound, who shall prepare himself to the battle?"

On reading the Washington Post story by Robin Wright, "Bush Initiates Iraq Policy Review Separate from Baker's Group," about a new internal review of U.S. war policy, St. Paul's words return to mind.

Here we are, longer in this war in Mesopotamia than America fought in World War I or World War II against Germany; yet, consider what our commander in chief -- a successor to war presidents Lincoln, Wilson and FDR -- is even now seeking to discover.

"The president," said an anonymous White House official, "has asked the national security agencies to assess the situation in Iraq, review the options and recommend the best way forward. ... The president indicated Monday that he is interested in hearing interesting ideas both within the administration and from the Baker-Hamilton commission."

So critical is this review that Condi Rice postponed her departure for the Asia-Pacific summit to participate. State Department spokesman Sean McCormack told the Post the secretary has been "doing a lot of thinking" about Iraq over the last two months.

Thinking about what? Replied McCormack:

"The primary focus is on the State Department role in Iraq and are we pursuing the proper policies, are we asking the right questions, are we seeking the right objectives, are we using the right means to achieve these objectives, following the right strategy and tactics?"

Excuse me, but this sounds like some lost soul crying in a wilderness. Yet it is the voice of the foreign ministry of the world's last superpower in the fourth year of a war to decide the fate and future of the entire Middle East.

Should not these questions have been asked, and answered with finality, by our war leaders before they marched us up to Baghdad? Are these not the questions a Democratic Senate should have asked Don Rumsfeld and Colin Powell before they gave Bush a blank check for war?

Incredible. The U.S. government is tasking the NSC, CIA, State and Defense to bring forward new ideas to extract us, without defeat, from a war into which we have been plunged by the elected leaders of that same government.

How can the American people have confidence in war leaders who still do not know how best to fight, win or end this war, but must seek guidance from the bureaucracy?

Whatever is said about Eisenhower and Nixon, both came in with clear ideas of how they intended to extricate us from unpopular wars. Both did so and won landslide re-elections. Both set out a clear goal, made the necessary military and diplomatic moves, and took the political heat. Apparently, our present war leaders, four years into the war, have no policy to win or end this war.

They are throwing up questions, asking advice, pleading for ideas, begging for answers. Even the U.S. joint chiefs of staff have joined in the hunt.

"One component of the larger (review) effort is likely to be a military review initiated in mid-September by Marine Gen. Peter Pace, chairman of the joint chiefs of staff," writes Wright. "His assessment of anti-terrorism efforts, with a core focus on Iraq, includes 16 top commanders meeting daily to brainstorm on questions such as: 'Where are we going? What are we trying to do? Are we going to get there this way?'"

Is this not disconcerting? The most experienced warriors of the U.S. Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines are sitting around every day, asking one another: "Where are we going? What we are we trying to do?"

Can one imagine Douglas MacArthur, Chester Nimitz, "Bull" Halsey and Curtis LeMay sitting around day after day in Honolulu, asking each other: "Where are we going? What are we trying to do?"

A senior defense official provided added guidance: "Nothing is off the table. They are looking at the whole spectrum of less forces, more forces."

This remark suggests the U.S. joint chiefs are open to all options, including defeat. For once U.S. forces begin to pull out of a war that is far from being won, we risk losing that war.

Heretofore, President Bush had said America's goal is "victory" and that we will not depart until it is achieved. By victory, he has meant eradication of al-Qaida in Iraq, defeat of the insurgency and an Iraq on America's side in the war on terror.

What these strategic reviews suggest is that not only do our leaders not know how to achieve "victory," they are no longer sure it is worth the cost.

What these strategic reviews also suggest is that George Bush, the defiant leader atop the pile of rubble at the World Trade Center, George Bush "The Decider," George Bush the resolute war chief who will stay the course in Iraq if only Laura and Barney are still with him, has vacated the White House.

In his stead sits a president asking questions, seeking ideas, searching for answers. If the trumpet give an uncertain sound, who shall prepare himself to the battle?


  1. The Jewish People & Anti-Semitism

    The quotations in this subpart of National Oppression indicate Lenin considered anti-Semitism a key question of national oppression (in religious garb) in Russia, supported full equality and highly valued the contribution of Jewish people to the revolutionary movement, while disagreeing with the bourgeois nationalist tendencies of the Jewish Bund.

    "Taking into consideration that the fullest and closest unity of the militant proletariat is absolutely essential both for the purpose of the earliest achievement of its ultimate aim and in the interests of an unswerving political and economic struggle in conditions of the existing society;

    "that, in particular, complete unity between the Jewish and non- Jewish proletariat is moreover especially necessary for a successful struggle against anti-Semitism, this despicable attempt of the government and the exploiting classes to exacerbate racial particularism and national enmity;

    "that the complete amalgamation of the Social-Democratic organizations of the Jewish and non-Jewish proletariat can in no respect or manner restrict the independence of our Jewish comrades in conducting propaganda and agitation in one language or another, in publishing literature adapted to the needs of a given local or national movement, or in advancing such slogans for agitation and the direct political struggle that would be an application and development of the general and fundamental principles of the Social-Democratic programme regarding full equality and full freedom of language, national culture, etc., etc.;

    "the Congress emphatically repudiated federation as the organization principle of a Russian party and endorses the organizational principle adopted as the basis of the Rules of 1898..."

    Lenin, Draft Resolution on the Place of the Bund in the Party, June-July 1903, CW, Vol. 6, p.470

    "Anti-Semitism means spreading enmity towards the Jews. When the accursed tsarist monarchy was living its last days it tried to incite ignorant workers and peasants against the Jews. The tsarist police, in alliance with the landowners and the capitalists, organized pogroms against the Jews. The landowners and the capitalists tried to divert the hatred of the workers and peasants who were tortured by want against the Jews. In other countries, too, we often see the capitalists fomenting hatred against the Jews in order to blind the workers, to divert their attention from the real enemy of the working people, capital. Hatred towards the Jews persists only in those countries where slavery to the landowners and capitalists has created abysmal ignorance among the workers and peasants. Only the most ignorant and downtrodden people can believe the lies and slander that are spread about the Jews. This is a survival of ancient feudal times, when the priests burned heretics at the stake, when the peasants lived in slavery, and when the people were crushed and inarticulate. This ancient, feudal ignorance is passing away; the eyes of the people are being opened. "It is not the Jews who are the enemies of the working people. The enemies of the workers are the capitalists of all countries. Among the Jews there are working people, and they form the majority. They are our brothers, who, like us, are oppressed by capital; they are our comrades in the struggle for socialism. Among the Jews there are kulaks, exploiters and capitalists, just as there are among the Russians, and among people of all nations. The capitalists strive to sow and foment hatred between workers of different faiths, different nations and different races. Those who do not work are kept in power by the power and strength of capital. Rich Jews, like rich Russians, and the rich in all countries, are in alliance to oppress, crush, rob and disunite the workers. "Shame on accursed tsarism which tortured and persecuted the Jews. Shame on those who foment hatred towards the Jews, who foment hatred towards other nations.

    Long live the fraternal trust and fighting alliance of the workers of all nations in the struggle to overthrow capital."

    Lenin, Anti-Jewish Progroms, Speeches on Gramaphone Records #8, March 1919, CW, Vol. 29, p.252

    "The same applies to the most oppressed and persecuted nation - the Jews. Jewish national culture is the slogan of the rabbis and the bourgeoisie, the slogan of our enemies. But there are other elements in Jewish culture and in Jewish history as a whole. Of the ten and a half million Jews in the world, somewhat over a half live in Galicia and Russia, backward and semi-barbarous countries, where the Jews are forcibly kept in the status of a caste. The other half lives in the civilized world, and there the Jews do not live as a segregated caste. There the great world-progressive features of Jewish culture stand clearly revealed: its internationalism, its identification with the advanced movements of the epoch (the percentage of Jews in the democratic and proletarian movements is everywhere higher than the percentage of Jews among the population).

    "Whoever, directly or indirectly, puts forward the slogan of Jewish 'national culture' is (whatever his good intentions may be) an enemy of the proletariat, a supporter of all that is outmoded and connected with caste among the Jewish people; he is an accomplice of the rabbis and the bourgeoisie. On the other hand, those Jewish Marxists who mingle with the Russian, Lithuanian, Ukrainian and other workers in international Marxist organizations, and make their contribution (both in Russian and in Yiddish) towards creating the international culture of the working-class movement - those Jews, despite the separatism of the Bund, uphold the best traditions of Jewry by fighting the slogan of 'national culture.'"

  2. Comrade Buchanan agrees about the Jews.

  3. Is this more of the tap-dancing Xena-phile?

    Has the thread-access of her.
    The cut and paste and one liners have the mark of her.

    Why, I bet she drew that damn hammer and sickle.

  4. He's not typing that stuff Rufus - cutting and pasting - google search the first few words - you'll see its american communist part stuff.

    An alienated class-member, just passing through. A wanderer in place and mind.

  5. Who else scores more firsts on comment threads than Xena/T?

    Believe me, its not "her" but she fancies herself creative, not beholden to the rigors of reason that Habu so celebrated the other night.

  6. I see we have a full blooded hammer and sickle comrade now.

    how 'bout i sent him to where they make Claxton Fruitcake in S.C.

    I don't think he'd last very long

  7. It'd be a departure. Maybe we picked up somebody new.

    Maybe theyll learn to love bio-fuels, your hydrocarbon evangelism has won over a congregation of sorts already. :D

  8. rufus wrote:

    I'm "Hip," Dat; but even the Xena-Babe ain't nutty enough to be cuttin and pastin that shit.

    Golly, thanks for that ringing vote of confidence, rufus.

  9. Yeah Rufus please keep those energy post com'in. I've got a separate file set up for them.

    I'll be building the new rancho delux in Montana in 2 years. how about solar tile roofs ..will they be abundant by then?

  10. Question:

    I like the poker metaphors.

    But are games the best model for these conflicts?

    I think they capture a good deal of whats impressed upon each opposed party, but it's said there is something intrinsically different about what impresses our foe.

    What hand would spook the Jihadis?

    I suppose the essential card must be anti-Jihadi Iraqis.

    We should appropriate the Jihad and turn it against the Islamists.

    Or destroy their holy rocks (from a sociological stand point, the repercussions of this would be fascinating).

  11. Trish,

    I've often wondered about "suicide robots" the west could wield.

    Back up a Ryder truck in Jeddah, out comes 8 R2D2s armed with auto shotguns, ready to explode and send flechettes every which way once enough police and army arrive to taken over take them an hour or two later. They could triangulate fire, flank enemy innocents.

    It'd make an impresion, I bet. No 1 blast radius at a time business. It would not be terror superiority; it would be terror dominance.

  12. Ryder probably doesnt go out there though. Shucks...

  13. "You say we love life and this is true. But we also love killing you. We stay awake in industrial parks, garages and factories coming up with cheaper ways to kill more of you. All the while, you are waiting for your clerical establishment to clarify some conjecture."

    Visions of 2010? 2030? Late 08? :/ 2010 isnt that far away...

  14. Rufus,

    Are we really at the same table with them?

    Could it be that we are at a table with other Westerners and maybe India, while the Islamists and the non-aligned sit at another?

    And that second table will stab us frequently. They might not even care about the chips we hold. The just want us to leave the room.

    What are our cards doing for us?

  15. Serendipity or something brought me to this in wikpedia, just as you were typing that, Rufus:

    "Consider a large population of people who, in the iterated prisoner's dilemma, always play Tit for Tat in transactions with each other. (Since almost any transaction requires trust, most transactions can be modelled with the prisoner's dilemma.) If the entire population plays the Tit-for-Tat strategy, and a group of newcomers enter the population who prefer the Always Defect strategy (i.e. they try to cheat everyone they meet), the Tit-for-Tat strategy will prove more successful, and the defectors will be converted or lose out. Tit for Tat is therefore an ESS, with respect to these two strategies. On the other hand, an island of Always Defect players will be stable against the invasion of a few Tit-for-Tat players, but not against a large number of them."

    So you're saying eventually the Islamists will convert (as Thomas Barnett promises) or they will leave, thinking their efforts fruitless, or at least not disposed eto any special (i.e. holy) advantage.

    It sounds plausible. Only question is the time frame, and whats the tipping point for the "Always Defect" to leave behind Jihad?

  16. I guess what also worries me, and this returns to an ongoing post 9/11 theme, but this faith in our enemy "overplaying their hand"

    It really is a kind of faith and that worries me a bit, because where is the faith placed? The countrymen that have betrayed us? A benign nation of procrastinators?

    Overplaying their hand may mean no more USA - just some beautiful north american cities, feverishly fortifying themselves against the indigenes?

  17. Comrade Dzerzhinsky has his blood in comrade Putins veins and we will see what we see.
    We see weak horse that filthy muslims talk of and we predicted fifty years ago.
    We have nothing to fear. But you bourgeois capitalists are now losing everywhere. Our dear comrade Lenin you have proved was right..there are no morals in politics there is only expedience.A scoundrel may be of use to us just because he is a scoundrel. And many you have.

  18. And comrade Putin has your Mr. Bush looking like a useful idiot.

  19. Even your own petty bourgeois do not respect your Mr. Bush

  20. Rufus,

    I agree on the tit for tat idea - guess I never saw the world as one big tit for tat place - just with an uneven distribution of the, well, you know...

    That sorta throws a wrench into our triumphant communist friend here, as well now doesnt it?

    But if tit for tat is so preferred, for instance, why do some prefer Islam? Is this a case of asymmetric info - they just do not know otherwise? They think they can get away with Islam or communism?

    Is the story of communism and Islamism just a story of the pursuit of negating a given tit for tat-imposing heirarchy, so that you had a better chance at spoils?

  21. I guess this takes one back to Rufus and Buddy's "geneaology" of Islamism -

    Luckily, Bill Roggio links to a study of the contemporary intellectual sagas of Islam here

  22. Rufus,
    how come you used p-tater with that dirty commie?

  23. Politics has been described as the art of the possible, but also as a cynical game that turns Clausewitz's dictum on its head by reducing policymaking to the conduct of war by other means. Both of these perspectives are accurate, but they are not comprehensive because they fail to take into account the over-arching role of compromise as a means of balancing the priorities of various stakeholders.

    The Lebanese have proven adept at all of these skills, but not yet at bringing them together in the national interest. For this reason, the accomplishments of the reconstruction process thus far should be interpreted as a sign that once Lebanon's leaders decide to stop bickering, they have what it takes to engage in some long-overdue statecraft that renews the fragile underpinnings of the republic.

    Serial Pilfering

  24. Oh, Hello, Tater

    In Jianszchou province there is a possum dish named after a famous General. Can be very spicey!

  25. Very interesting thread, comrades.

  26. ...but hu Dat Got it all over Gag Reflex.