“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."

Sunday, December 10, 2006

British and US tensions rising in Iraq and Iran.

No two Anglo-American allies despised each other more than Patton and Montgomery. When you look at this grainy photo you can imagine what is going on in the brain neurons behind the smiles. Well some things never change. Nerves are being frayed in the "special relationship." Both in Iran and Iraq there is some consternation about strategy and tactics. Throw in the CIA for good measure and you have the makings of a donnybrook.
Of course Donny brook is in Ireland. We will keep it more Anglo-American and say things are between bollocks and Fubar.

CIA is undermining British war effort, say military chiefs
Confidential report speaks of 'serious tensions' in the coalition over strategy in Iraq and Afghanistan

By Robert Fox
Published: 10 December 2006 The Independent
British intelligence officers and military commanders have accused the US of undermining British policies in Iraq and Afghanistan, after the sacking of a key British ally in the Afghan province of Helmand.

British sources have blamed pressure from the CIA for President Hamid Karzai's decision to dismiss Mohammed Daud as governor of Helmand, the southern province where Britain deployed some 4,000 troops this year. Governor Daud was appointed in mid-year to replace a man the British accused of involvement in opium trafficking, but on Thursday Mr Karzai summoned him to Kabul and sacked him, along with his deputy.

"The Americans knew Daud was a main British ally," one official told The Independent on Sunday, "yet they deliberately undermined him and told Karzai to sack him." The official said the Defence Secretary, Des Browne, was "tearing his hair out".

Meanwhile, a confidential assessment of the situation in Iraq, seen by the IoS, has reported "serious tensions" in the American-British coalition. American commanders in the country are believed to oppose the British strategy for handing over Maysan and Basra provinces to Iraqi control as part of an exit strategy.

The disclosures come only days after differences between the US and Britain were on display during Tony Blair's visit to Washington, and the Iraq Study Group issued a report containing withering criticism of President George Bush's policies. With British commanders warning that they may not be able to succeed in Afghanistan unless forces in Iraq are drawn down, cracks in the transatlantic alliance are likely to widen.

The disagreements have come into the open after the summary sacking of Britain's protégé, Governor Daud. Although rival delegations from Helmand were in Kabul last week, one calling for his removal and the other demanding that he stay, a diplomatic source said Mr Karzai had listened to advice from "other powerful Western players".

Mr Daud, who had survived several Taliban assassination attempts, was seen as a key player in Britain's anti-drugs campaign in Helmand. He was also the architect of a deal under which British forces moved out of the town of Musa Qala, where they had been involved in fierce combat with Taliban fighters. But the Americans publicly criticised truces in Musa Qala and other Helmand towns, saying they effectively gave in to the Taliban.

A British diplomatic source said yesterday: "We backed Mohammed Daud because he was an honest man and a progressive man, so obviously this is very disappointing. However, it is also true that he was under tremendous pressure and his position was getting weakened. Where does this leave our policy? Well, we shall have to wait and see."

The British commander of the Nato force in Afghanistan, Lieutenant-General David Richards, has also come in for American criticism as "too political". The American supreme commander of Nato, General Jim Jones, has let it be known, according to sources, that General Richards "would have been sacked if he had been an American officer".

General Richards, for his part, has been frustrated that his call for extra Nato troops to form a strategic fighting reserve has been largely unheeded.

While the tensions between Britain and the US have burst into the open in Afghanistan, they have been simmering in Iraq. The confidential assessment of the situation there says American commanders want the British to be far more robust in confronting Shia militias in the south.


  1. Shiites Rout Sunni Families in Mixed Area of Baghdad

    The fighting began around noon, when militiamen began rampaging through the only mixed district in Hurriya, a mostly Shiite neighborhood, and killed at least three Sunni Arabs. One family was shot as they left their home, with a 20-year-old man killed and his mother and younger brother wounded, according to an account given by the man’s father, who was at work as a security guard elsewhere at the time. The man said the three were hit by automatic rifle fire as they finished loading possessions into their car and prepared to drive to a safer area.

    Colonel Jabouri said that skirmishes set off by the militia attacks continued for about five hours, until sunset. Meanwhile, a large convoy of Sunni Arabs waited in their vehicles outside the fortified Muhaimin mosque, waiting to drive to neighboring Sunni districts while local leaders negotiated with militiamen for safe passage.

  2. Whit, the Republicans left Washington like beaten dogs. By the way that thread on your post last night was a classic.

  3. 2164th wrote, "The confidential assessment of the situation there says American commanders want the British to be far more robust in confronting Shia militias in the south."

    How about we let the Brits swap their cherry little Basra area for Baghdad for, oh, 24 hours? We could do it on a rotating basis over the course of a month, and call it the Take Your Tommy To Work Day.

  4. “[T]he Churchillian or Lincolnian or Rooseveltian thing, would be, first, to fire a bunch of officials (generals as well as top civilians), promote or bring in fresh talent…”

    “[W]hich sounds as though Syria and Iran were being downright rude, rather than providing indispensable assistance to those who have filled the burn wards of Walter Reed, the morgue in Baghdad, and the cemetery at Arlington.”

    “The great war leaders, in their private deliberations, shied away from vagueness. Haziness about ends and means, about what to do and how to do it, is a mark of strategic ineptitude; in war it gets people killed.”

    “From the outset of the Iraq war much of our difficulty has stemmed not so much from failures to find the right strategy, as from an astounding and depressing inability to implement the strategic and operational choices we have nominally made.”

    No Way to Win a War

    Link from WSJ

  5. "The American supreme commander of Nato, General Jim Jones, has let it be known, according to sources, that General Richards 'would have been sacked if he had been an American officer'".

    One of the great weaknesses of the vast Roman army at Cannae was its dual command. Because of different martial competencies, the army was schizoid, marching to a different drummer every other day.

  6. Mr Blair is a short timer, so is the British Force in Iraq.

    April, May... maybe the Brits will wait 'til July, before they take their leave.

    The President dithers further, saying a "new" plicy will be released, later, but soon.

    He needs to study the issue some more before any further decisions are made. The hubris of the situation, the disdain for the US troopers in Iraq, is just amazing.

    Meanwhile Iraq moves towards a Lebanonese version of Civil War, each faction fighting, independently of, the other or the whole. Lebanon itself is moving in the same direction.

    At BC this is touted by some commentors as a victory. Iraq Derangement Syndrom

  7. DR,

    What is routinely missed in all the hand wringing about Iraq, the ISG, threats of KSA intervention etc. is the understanding that the Shi'a are our natural allies in TWAT, which is, essentially, a struggle against Wahhabi Sunni radicalism, bought and paid for by Saudi Arabia.

    Until 1979, Iran was cordially engaged with both the US and Israel. Mr. Carter's refusal to assist in the crushing of the Iranian revolution is the cause of our current disequilibrium. The failure of subsequent US administrations to address this anomaly, including that of Mr. Bush, has served to strengthen the Sunni, by keeping a natural adversary, the Shi'a of Iran, out of play.

    Change the government of Iran, by means fair and foul, and the equation changes instantly. The enemy of the West, contrary to the Bush administration, is Saudi Arabia. It has always been and will always be. Look to 9/11.

  8. Well that is quite true, with regards to TWAT being a direct response to 9-11, it is not true of US policy. TWAT has morphed to be both more and less than what was promised.

    When the Bush Team conjoined Iraq with TWAT they doomed them both. Said so at the time. The Objectives may have been concurrent, but they were never articulated. Iran being an easier Enemy than the Sauds. As the Sauds provide post Government retirement for all US Federals of Consequence.

    Mr Kissinger & Mr Mitchell
    Mr Baker & Company.

  9. DR,

    The situation of the ME is only static if we permit that. What is occuring at this writing is not the be all and end all.

    If the Shi'a of Iraq are brought into harmony with US policy (assuming an eventually rational US policy) the Iranian elite is weakened. The other evening I linked to Gateway Pundit's report of student unrest in Iran. This unrest should be bolstered by the US by all means, further weakening the Iranian tyranny. Futhermore, the US should unilaterally apply whatever methods necessary to harm the Iranian economy. Arming the Iranian Kurds, thereby drawing the regime into battling an Iranian civil war would be a good start.

  10. I've championed those ideas for years, allen.
    Preaching to the choir, you are.

    Our entire Program has been ass backwards, in the Middle East, at least to my perspective.

  11. Captain Ed calls it Murphy’s Law; I call it business as usual.

    He was disbarred in 1984

    Each year, without fail, my wife and her staff must submit evidence of licenses and certifications to the USAF.

  12. DR,

    I am introducing these thoughts as a dialectic device. Your comprehension and constancy are impeccable.

  13. What's a dielectric device doing in a thread on TWAT?
    What am I missing?
    ...the little lightbulb over my head?

  14. I agree w/Allen, and of course Northstar 'Rat.
    Trish thinks Ledeen is a Maroon, but he has argued long before TWAT that we ignored the obvious opportunities in Iran for 3 decades at our peril.

  15. The Bush family will all go to their graves still harboring some warm fuzzies for the Saudi Royals, from Barbara to the little "Texas" (Ivy League) Debs.
    The rest will all continue to go the bank with their wads of Saudi Cash.
    ...and as our esteemed duo point out:
    as do the civies at home for the Crooks from south of the border that Honest George welcomes with open arms.
    Saudi Crooks, Mexican Crooks, and Honest George, the Compassionate, Patriotic Christian.
    My Ass.

  16. It is really quite disturbing to observe Wretch and the Acolytes jump through such hoops to avoid reality.
    Becomes more and more obvious how Hitler was allowed to come to power.
    To think that was once a mystery to us as schoolchildren.

  17. allen & dr, agreed. We have to elucidate on how exactly to deal with an Iran hell-bent on destabilising Iraq through sectarianism and secessionism (Turkish-Iranian cooperation to infiltrate into Kurdish Iraq to off PKK militants) by handing them a taste of their own bitter medicine.

    I'm sure most of you are familiar with Luttwak's assessment of the Iranian minority status predicament; if not, here it is.

    Luttwak emphasizes on the extent of public opprobrium against the political will of the elite:

    a)only Persian-language teaching is allowed, condemning all non-Persians to illiteracy in their own languages

    b)dissident groups from the Kurds (inspired by neighbouring kin in Iraq), Azeris (inspired by Azerbaijan's independence from the Soviet Union), Arabs and the Baluch have become more vocal in their calls for autonomy

    With a Persian-centric area bordered by ethnic minorities, why stop at arming the Kurds? If it does foment precursory tensions to civil war, Iran would have to deal with hostile secessionist movements within and outside its borders.

    It won't be easy to dissolve the mullahs' sovereignty of the regime; after all, it is still mainly a Persian-centric majority that will be left standing (but for how long, I cannot ascertain as of now). That's why we should give Iranian Kurds, Azeris, Baluchs a sample of autonomy and independence from Iranian dominionhood; that will serve us well in inspiring the Persian community itself to bring about a revolution - because that's where the real revolutionary power lies.