“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, December 16, 2006

Iraq. It's the security, stupid.

There is no way out.

If the Middle East were a cancer patient undergoing surgery, the surgeon would open her up, take a grim look, ask for sutures and close. Treat the pain and wait for the inevitable. That is where the analogy ends, because this patient is not going to die. It will kill. The disease will spread and the consequences are incalculable.

The Iraq Study Group, led by James Baker attempts to craft a means for US withdrawal from Iraq. It bases the means on a successful form of Iraqification. That would be possible if there were enough Iraqis willing to fight and die for Iraq. (There certainly seems to be an adequate amount willing to kill.) They would have to believe that Iraq has a future. The evidence that this is so is not encouraging.

Much of the cream of Iraq society has fled the country, with estimates at high as 1.6 million and possibly 300,000 to 500,000 internal refugees. The U.S.-led invasion removed effective governance and to date has not successfully installed or enforced a replacement. At least 60,000 to 80,000 Iraqis have died, most at the hands of other Iraqis. No sane person can believe the situation will improve with the US leaving Iraq abruptly. You can hate Bush for getting us involved in the first place and despise the ineptitude of the occupation but whatever your level of frustration the problem remains.

The problem is no longer restricted to Iraq. It is becoming clearer by the day that Iran has taken sides with the Shiites and Saudi Arabia is now making noises about backing the Sunnis if the US withdraws from Iraq. Powell was at least half correct. We broke it. Time will tell who owns it.

If the US does withdraw from Iraq, the withdrawal would be temporary to the extreme. The reason for the original military involvement with Iraq was the Kuwaiti and Saudi oil fields. The US and Western dependence on ME oil has not lessened. It has gotten worse. A proxy war between Iranian sponsored Shiites and a Saudi led Sunnis would drag the US back into the fight for no other reason than to provide security for the oil fields and sea-lanes.

The truth is, if the ME had no oil. there would be no US intervention in Iraq. There would have been little interest and notice of the Iraq invasion of Kuwait.

Two days ago, I posted some out-takes from the second Bush Gore debate. You do not have to be a genius to see that Bush, as did Gore, had a strong predisposition to engage Iraq. Bush did it with a particular relish and without an adequate plan to deal with the internal security problem and that is the essence of the problem, security.

Stripped naked of ideology and politics, Iraq presents a security concern for the area and the world. All the rhetoric about democracy and ideology is useless. The hyperbole about the “War on Terror” and bringing democracy to the Middle East is somewhere between optimistic and delusional. It is politically divisive to potential aliies and threatening to whatever order remains in the area. Bush, like Carter before him should just take advice from Chirac and know when to shut up. No one is buying what he is hawking. They will buy security. You may not like the realpolitik sound to this, but the current mess was created by ideologues who are out of ideas, or at least any that make any sense.

The French, the Germans, Saudis, Jordan, Egypt, China, US and the EU in general all have an interest in security. Call them the coalition of the reluctant. Strip the bark and sapwood off the current mission-impossible and get to the heartwood of security. A plan that restores security can be constructed and enforced. The simple stated goal of "security first" will play. The right American President will have to lead the way to restore security to the Middle East. Bush could do it but he won't. Too bad.


  1. Dave my concern is the lag time between now and the next presidency. That ia still two years away. Blair in Turkey is very concerned about the immediate situation spiraling out of control.

    the BBC is reporting this..."Mr Blair's trip comes after gun battles between supporters of the Palestinian Hamas and Fatah factions in Ramallah on Friday.

    He said: "As you can see from the events of the last 24 hours, the next few days or weeks are a critical moment of decision for this whole process."

    He believes the most important thing was to establish "a fully functioning authority" which will "start to create the structures on the Palestinian side that then allow a negotiation for peace with Israel to go forward".

    Worsening violence was a reason for going there, not for staying away, he said."

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  3. William Lind called it a tar baby before the invasion, indeed, a decade ago rather accurately warned about what we would see.

    An Operational Doctrine for Intervention

    In Parameters, no less.

  4. Great link Peacekeeper.

    For those that do not read links, peacekeeper posted a good one. from his link. This portion from the 1995 article:

    "Current discussions of how the United States should respond to hostile insurgencies stir up a painful sense of déjà vu. Too often, they reflect the enthusiasm for counterinsurgency so prevalent in the early 1960s. It sometimes seems as if the Vietnam War had never happened. In fact, there are at least four salient lessons from Vietnam that we ignore at our peril:

    "First, we cannot sustain the long-term commitment counterinsurgency usually requires. The political pressure will become too great for any administration to bear as the body bags keep coming home and the blood and the grief are spread through the living rooms of America by television news. Prolonged counterinsurgency with US forces is not a viable option.

    Second, we have not been very good at training and equipping foreign armies. Our equipment is too fragile, complex, and expensive for peasant forces. Our tactics are often outdated (e.g. line rather than light infantry tactics), rely on expensive equipment like helicopters and on massive fire support local forces cannot provide, and are frequently unsuited to local circumstances.

    Third, it is not possible to go into another country and change its culture to conform with our ideas of human rights, good government, military efficiency, or anything else. Culture is the basis for everything, some cultures work better than others, and all are remarkably impervious to change, especially change promoted by outsiders.

    Fourth, war is not won on the tactical level. In the narrow sense of holding the terrain, we won all the big battles in Vietnam (though we lost many small ones), but we were decisively beaten on the operational level. Lacking at the time even the concept of the operational art, we had no way of using tactical events to reach strategic goals, which is what the operational level of war is all about."

  5. Great, isn't it? Reads like it was written yesterday with 20/20 hindsight. But no, it almost perfectly describes the failures in the current Iraq clusterf**k, but was published in 1995 in Parameters, the senior professional journal of the US army. Guess noone read it.

    Lind now advocates using the ISG surrender monkey's risible report as a fig leaf while withdrawing ( Knocking Opportunity ).

    If the sensei suggests grabbing the fig leaf and fleeing, I wholeheartedly agree.

  6. Out of curiosity how and when did you find that?

  7. I really need to do something about my sleep habits.

  8. Peacekeeper,

    I could have ended the post with Lind's last comment on your second link..

    "The Bush administration’s only desire, unfortunately for the country, is to escape the grip of reality and immerse itself more deeply in the Jacobin ideology of neo-cons. It seems that, absent a miracle, we are doomed to wander in Oz for two more years."

  9. I see three broad, possible outcomes to this war. None of them is good. .....

    The second broad possibility is that we take Baghdad, replace Saddam with an American-approved pro-consul, then watch Iraq turn into a vast West Bank as non-state elements take effective control outside the capital city. This is what has happened in Afghanistan, and in Iraq too we would quickly find that our state armed forces do not know how to fight non-state opponents in Fourth Generation war. This outcome is good short-term but—as Israel can attest—a bloody mess in the long-term.

    - William S. Lind
    March 26, 2003

    Note the date. DNI's Lind comments archive, which needs to be read in chronological order from the bottom comment up.

    Deuce, for your curiosity : I hadn't read that Parameters article before, it turned up on a internet search just a moment ago looking for some other half remembered comment of Lind's about Iraq the tar baby.

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

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

  12. peacekeeper, thanks for that informative link.

    The objection will immediately be raised, "What if it seems we need to stay longer? What if our calculations show the new government will have a much better chance of sustaining itself if we stay a few more months?"

    No hard and fast rule can be set that we never stay longer, because every situation is different. But two powerful objections must be posed to any extension. The first is the probable political situation at home. If any administration that approves an intervention ends up paying for it with its political life, we will very seldom intervene anywhere, regardless of what interests we have at stake. Politicians are quick learners where holding onto office is concerned. Prolonged interventions, with the steady dribble of casualties they invariably involve, have very high political costs.

    Which did not necessarily result in the booting of Republicans from Congress - remember that there was no lever in the voting booth that was labelled "surrender". And weirdly enough, I think the nation is starting to rally around Bush, ready to back him to the hilt should he choose to continue to stay in Iraq. The Democrats would not dare go against public consensus, would they?

    Interestingly enough, political costs have been mitigated, and will continue to be minimised if Bush gets his act together, and the Democrats grudgingly accept that to have any chance to hold onto office beyond 2008, they have to support the president.

    The second objection relates to the country where we have intervened. We live in a world in which the nationalism that arose in Europe in response to the French Revolution has spread almost universally. Any foreign presence rubs this nationalism the wrong way. The longer we stay, the more we assist our opponents in preaching the case for a national war. If they succeed in that, we will be defeated. It is relatively easy, in much of the developing world, to defeat a government and its army. It is extraordinarily difficult to defeat a people.

    Yet we are not fighting the Iraqi people, but scores of Shiite and Sunni insurgents, death squads and militias. The reason why most Iraqis have not responded resoundingly with al-Sadr's and al-Hakim's calls for the US to leave is that they don't see themselves as a "nation" yet. Tribes and sects come first and foremost when dealing with identity. It might sound like a nationalistic war, but truth be told, if it were truly one, we would have been asked to go a long time ago.

    One of the main concepts of the proposed operational doctrine--waiting until the enemy has transformed himself from a guerrilla force into a government--is based on avoiding a people's war.

    And we have acquiesced in Hamas forming a legitimate government, but has that made it any easier to remove them?

    I like this sentence:

    If he persists in his old behavior, back we come for another decapitation.

    And just so we are rid of romanticism that till today blinds certain people from realising that this is not about ideology or democracy anymore:

    We can make others respect us; we cannot make them love us.

    Still amazed at how insightful the article is - considering when it was written!

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

  14. Harrison,
    Got Trashcans?
    If no, Deuce can intervene!

  15. Charle's Comment at BC:
    Charles said...
    Saudi Ambassador Abruptly Resigns, Leaves Washington

    Prince Turki al-Faisal, Saudi Arabia's ambassador to the United States, flew out of Washington yesterday after informing Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and his staff that he would be leaving the post after only 15 months on the job, according to U.S. officials and foreign envoys. There has been no formal announcement from the kingdom.
    The abrupt departure is particularly striking because his predecessor, Prince Bandar bin Sultan, spent 22 years on the job. The Saudi ambassador is one of the most influential diplomatic positions in Washington and is arguably the most important overseas post for the oil-rich desert kingdom.

    Turki, a long-serving former intelligence chief, told his staff yesterday afternoon that he wanted to spend more time with his family, according to Arab diplomats. Colleagues said they were shocked at the decision.

    The part they leave out was that Turki was the saudi intelligence chief until one day before 9/11. He resigned from that post on 9/10. The Saudi's intelligence connections with the pakistani isi and their connections to the taliban and al queda makes it unlikely Turki didn't know a significant amount about what was going to transpire the day after he resigned.

    He was forced to resign from his US post because his aide said that the saudis would come to the aid of the sunni iraquis in the event the USA pulled out of Iraq. While higher officials also said the same thing, the saudis put the word out that they wanted someone who was more likely to make friends in washington--something Tuki was not likely to do. Why not? well duh. wouldn't it be likely that Turki represented the whole pro taliban/salafist side of the Saudi sunni establishment and the US admin knew it. He is the enemy.

    People don't quite understand that most of the US war effort has been against the Sunni salafists for which al queda is the radical wing. And Al queda in Iraq has allied themselves with the bathists. The US has been scoring some major victories against al queda/bathists in the Anbar province in Iraq. The victories are sufficient to so severly weaken the sunnis in what is considered a part of the sunni heart land that the Sunnis are in danger of losing caste first and then their lives to the shias.

    So why was the saudi ambassador removed? Clearly the Saudis would prefer not to get involved in Iraq. They would prefer that the US protects the Sunnis there. That would mean that previously, the salafist side of the Saudi establishment would have been quietly working to push the USA out of Iraq--nor would this be anything mysterious to either the Saudis or the US admin.

    The saudis would want someone to represent them who was not from the salafist/taliban side of their establishment if they wanted the US to stay in Iraq and protect the sunnis.

    The real tell here will be how much reuters, the AP the bbc and sundry european media organizations change their tune as to the rightness of the USA staying on Iraq. Certainly Saudi Sunni money going to Europe is going to be telling Europe to sing a different tune.

  16. In order to get ahead of Bush and his bend over administration, I hereby apologize for being alive.
    So sorry.
    I'm sorry.
    Tony Snow apologizes to David Gregory for describing one of his questions as partisan.
    Allies tremble,
    Enemies jump with delight.
    Clinton was Patton compared to this bunch!

  17. "The Harriet Myers Presidency"

  18. Here's my theory:
    It's all the Female Growth Hormone in that Texas Beef.

  19. I apologise for the triple-post, which beat my double-post on the EB a few days back.

    This Blogger malfunction is getting on my nerves.

  20. So you, like me, are victimized by no trashcans?

  21. I apologise if my quad-post (which beat my double-post a few days back) had effected some trauma on you, doug.

    Apparently, the Blogger device is getting a little cranky.

  22. Commenting on the controversy, Bush last week told People magazine that Mary Cheney would be "a loving soul to her child. And I'm happy for her."

    Pressed on whether his remark contradicted views he previously expressed that being raised by gays and lesbians falls short of an ideal situation for a child, he avoided a direct response.

    "Mary Cheney is going to make a fine mom, and she's going to love this child a lot," he said.
    Expert on loving Souls ("I saw Putin's Soul in his eyes.")
    Bush "weighs" in.

  23. Fellow:
    Next thing you know, he'll be excusing himself for misspelling apologize!

  24. We should go on strike for Trashcans.

  25. Maybe Pelosi will put a Royalty on Supertankers carrying Arab Oil, and distribute it to us peons.
    It IS "The People's Congress"
    Ya know.

  26. Perhaps we should, doug. The ones at IKEA look absolutely rad.

  27. "Mary Cheney is going to make a fine mom, and she's going to make love to this child a lot," he said.

  28. For evertos's information. Some posters do not have trash cans.

    Harrison's excellent comment got repeated several times. Nothing was erased or edited.

  29. It is all cool now Harrison. Your post are worthy of a repeat or two or three.

  30. Thank you, 2164th!

    You've been a generous host indeed.

  31. And the Blogger malfunction has disappeared!

  32. Bah Humbug!
    Christmas, Schmitzmus!

  33. harrison meant the bloggers have all disappeared

  34. Fred Barnes says he knows the "Real Deal".

    Last Monday Bush was, at last, briefed on an actual plan for victory in Iraq, one that is likely to be implemented. Retired General Jack Keane, the former vice chief of staff of the Army, gave him a thumbnail sketch of it during a meeting of five outside experts at the White House. The president's reaction, according to a senior adviser, was "very positive." Authored by Keane and military expert Frederick W. Kagan of the American Enterprise Institute, the plan (which can be read at is well thought-out and detailed, but fundamentally quite simple. It is based on the idea--all but indisputable at this point--that no political solution is possible in Iraq until security is established, starting in Baghdad. The reverse--a bid to forge reconciliation between majority Shia and minority Sunni--is a nonstarter in a political environment drenched in the blood of sectarian killings.

    Why would the Keane-Kagan plan succeed where earlier efforts failed? It envisions a temporary addition of 50,000 troops on the ground in Iraq. The initial mission would be to secure and hold the mixed Baghdad neighborhoods of Shia and Sunni residents where most of the violence occurs. Earlier efforts had cleared many of those sections of the city without holding them. After which, the mass killings resumed. Once neighborhoods are cleared, American and Iraqi troops in this plan would remain behind, living day-to-day among the population. Local government leaders would receive protection and rewards if they stepped in to provide basic services. Safe from retaliation by terrorists, residents would begin to cooperate with the Iraqi government. The securing of Baghdad would be followed by a full-scale drive to pacify the Sunni-majority Anbar province. ...
    Before Bush announces his "new way forward" in Iraq in early January, he wants to be assured of two things. The first is that his plan can succeed. Initial evaluations of the Keane-Kagan plan at the Pentagon and elsewhere in the government have been positive. Alone among proposals for Iraq, the new Keane-Kagan strategy has a chance to succeed. Bush's second concern is to avert an explosion of opposition on Capitol Hill. Because this plan offers a credible prospect of winning in Iraq, moderate Democrats and queasy Republicans, the White House thinks, will be inclined to stand back and let Bush give it a shot. ..."

    Super surge, supply security in Baghdad, making the drive from the Airport to the Green Zone on Route Irish combat free.
    Clear and hold the balance of Anbar, the last Six Tribes.

    Before the Iraqi refugees become a bigger issue

  35. It's alway a half dozen folk, plus the lurkers that participate.

    There were more than a few that left when BC went one way, they did not migrate here and never went back.

    Sumertime soldiers, sunshine patriots, many of them.

    The Barnes proposal could work, if we leave the Mahdi Army alone. If al-Sadr is targeted it will just widen the sectarian conflict.

    That "Putz" Peters had more on the ball than not. Forget about "flipping Doc Assad" and flip the Iraqi Shia. A more doable deed.

  36. Deuce,

    I don't follow. The Saddamite Sunnis are being taught an important lesson. Don't mess with Uncle Sam. Who cares if the Shite Nazis are collecting skulls?

  37. doug = 12 comments
    2164 = 10
    harrison = 6
    fell'pc'kp =3
    anon = 3
    dr = 2
    dave h = 1

    star into blackhole

  38. Yeah, but DR's are worth x 10!
    "Super surge, supply security in Baghdad, making the drive from the Airport to the Green Zone on Route Irish combat free.
    Clear and hold the balance of Anbar, the last Six Tribes.

    Before the Iraqi refugees become a bigger issue
    At the Bush is never wrong sites, it's always WHY Bush can't do this or that, when in fact there was and is only ONE reason:
    When the Cowboy capitulated to Laura, Karen, Condi, and whatever other gynos, all was lost.
    "Most of the American casualties occurred within the first three days of battle, when two of the 106th division’s three regiments were forced to surrender. In its entirety, the "Battle of the Bulge" was the most bloody battle American Forces experienced in WWII, the 19,000 American dead unsurpassed by any other engagement. For the U.S. Army, the Battle of the Ardennes was a battle incorporating more American troops and engaging more enemy troops than any American conflict prior to WWII.

    Although the German objective was ultimately unrealized, the Allies' own offensive timetable was set back by months. In the wake of the defeat, many experienced German units were left severely depleted of men and equipment, as German survivors retreated to the defenses of the Siegfried Line."
    But lately, it's been whadaya think, Condi, Karen, and dearest?

  39. Some envision Studio 54, others not.

    Not quite a chat room, all the time, but a interesting group of shared interests, however "Grand" it may not be.

    You culd well be surprised at the number of readers, anon, vs posters. What is the real "Goal" of the Bar, but as a locale where duece & whit can present their ideas, to the World.

    The scale and scope of the threads provide for ample search hits. Readers are much more prevelant than posters. Publishing is about readers, more than discourse.

  40. An indicator, anon, came awhile back. duece mentioned me over at BC in comments.
    Previous to that, my profile click counter was in the low 3,000s, after the positive mention it ramped up into the 12,000+ range.

    Not indicitive of the 100 or so posts in the comments.

  41. For some reason, it defaults to 6mo.
    ...but if you clik 5yrs or max, the picture becomes clear.

  42. Here's a suggestion for restoring security to Iraq.

    Number 1 - Secure the borders. No one goes in or out.

    Number 2 - Kick all the media out.

    Number 2 - Tell everyone, "Let the killing begin."

    Yeah, let's just let them kill each other til they can't stand it anymore.

  43. BC trending down sine Feb '06.
    Track the 3 yr of the previous BC site, trend the two together, that would be an even better indicator.

    But since BC had it's oneway in August, it has been trending steadily down.

  44. Think Okinawa was worse, over a longer period of time.
    The Historians will correct.

  45. Whit,
    re secure the borders:
    Check out Charle's Comments in latest BC Thread, then post on it!

  46. Publishing is about readers, more than discourse.


  47. U.S. losses were over 72,000 casualties, of whom 12,513 were killed . .

    Battle of Okinawa

    from Wikipedia

  48. Obviously, anon, you are not a publisher.

    Publishers that do not focus upon Readers will not be Publishers for long.

    Whether for the money or the ego of it.

  49. War is about killing.
    Sex is about pleasure.
    ...but still true.

  50. I'm still here...haven't been to BC in a long time. Used to be a daily stop. The EB is more to my taste. Keep up the good work gents.

  51. is also about procreation, but here I am worried about an environment more dangerous than Mt Hood in Dec:
    Washington DC
    ...update this evening.

  52. Well, the Kagen report is really first rate, maps, intel, etc.

    Read it Here

  53. The first option is military, but it carries a seemingly insurmountable cultural override. The fact is, the United States has an arsenal that could obliterate any jihad threat in the region once and for all, whether that threat is bands of IED-exploding "insurgents" in Ramadi, the deadly so-called Mahdi Army in Sadr City, or genocidal maniacs in Tehran. In other words, it's a disgrace for military brass to talk about the 21st century struggle with Islam as necessarily being a 50- to 100-year war. Ridiculous. It could be over in two weeks if we cared enough to blast our way off the list of endangered civilizations.

    As a culture, however, the West is paralyzed by the specter of civilian casualties, massive or not, that accompanies modern (not high-tech) warfare, and fights accordingly. It may well have been massive civilian casualties in Germany (40,000 dead in Hamburg after one cataclysmic night of "fire-bombing" in 1943, for example) and Japan that helped end World War II in an Allied victory. But this is a price I doubt any Western power would pay for victory today.

    So, the military solution -- which isn't the same as boosting ROE-cuffed troop levels in Baghdad -- is out, unless or until our desperation level rises to some insupportably manic level. The great paradox of the "war on terror," of course, is that as our capacity and desire to protect civilians in warfare grows, our enemy's capacity and desire to kill civilians as a means of warfare grows also. Our fathers saved us from having to say, "Sieg Heil," but what's next -- "Allahu akbar"?

    Not necessarily. There's another Middle Eastern strategy to deter expansionist Islam: Get out of the way. Get out of the way of Sunnis and Shiites killing each other. As a sectarian conflict more than a thousand years old, this is not only one fight we didn't start, it's one we can't end. And why should we? If Iran, the jihad-supporting leader of the Shiite world, is being "strangled" by Saudi Arabia, the jihad-supporting leader of the Sunni world, isn't that good for the Sunni-and-Shiite-terrorized West? With the two main sects of Islam preoccupied with an internecine battle of epic proportions, the non-Muslim world gets some breathing room. And we sure could use it -- to plan for the next round.
    Diana West

  54. Gingrich pointed to recent public statements made by Iran's president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, in which he alluded to a world without the United States and openly cheered the prospect of the end of Israel. Iran, of course, has for years now duped the international community as it tried to prevent them from developing nuclear weapons. Iran is also believed to be supplying weapons to insurgents in Iraq.

    "The recommendation [the study group] made to President Bush is, let's talk to [the Iranian leadership]," said Gingrich. "Why? What possible conversation could we have?"

    Gingrich and others are coming to see the emergence of aggressive, defiant regimes, coupled with an ungovernable spread of terrorism, as dual threats that make for a holistic threat against world peace and stability.

    Gingrich believes President George W. Bush must use his likely upcoming address on Iraq's future to link America's effort there to a wider context of dealing with these interrelated threats as they grow more serious each day.

    How would Gingrich act now? He says he would pitch a sort of hybrid of Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal and Harry Truman's Marshall Plan. It would provide economic resources in Iraq to create jobs and rebuild infrastructure. Gingrich proposes giving "every able-bodied person" a job to do and a wage to receive. Money and personal security, he says, bring stability. For all the talk of religious strife, Iraqis want food to eat and safety on their streets as much as anyone.

    Gingrich says the region should then be flooded with goods that would first be given to and later, ultimately, bought by Iraqis, with money from their new paychecks.

    This perspective is a historical one. No surprise there. Gingrich has a vast knowledge of history. Part of that history is the disdain many conservatives had -- or still have -- for FDR's New Deal, with its many public-works programs designed less to accomplish public tasks than to put money in people's pockets. But Gingrich believes a similar plan in Iraq would be a critical adjunct to purely military efforts.
    Matt Towery.

    Secure the oil infrastructure, pump it and use that money.

  55. Some 30 invited corporate representatives and other lobbyists gathered at the Phoenix Park Hotel on Capitol Hill Tuesday morning to hear two senior mainstream Republican senators pitch the 2008 presidential campaign of Sen. John McCain. They were selling him to establishment Republicans as the establishment's candidate. Nothing could be further from McCain's guerrilla-style presidential run in 2000 that nearly stopped George W. Bush.

    Invitations to Tuesday's event were sent by Trent Lott, the newly elected Senate minority whip. Over coffee, Lott and Sen. Pat Roberts pushed McCain, though neither previously was seen as a McCainiac. They were not for McCain in 2000, and neither were the assembled party activists.

    It is beginning to look like "McCain, Inc." -- that is, party regulars, corporate officials and Washington lawyers and lobbyists moving toward John McCain, the man it feared and loathed eight years ago. The GOP, abhorring competition and detesting surprises, likes to establish its presidential nominee well in advance.
    Robert Novak.

    Dole, Bush and now McCain, inc.

  56. That is really bad news, for the GOP and the Republic.
    Considering the other options that will be available.

  57. Bad news? Is there any other kind?

    "I believe this is a recipe that will lead to our defeat ... in Iraq," said John McCain. He has a point.

    For what does the Iraq Study Group say?

    We are not winning this war. Our situation is "grave and deteriorating." Yet we may succeed if only we will withdraw all U.S. combat brigades in 15 months and bring Syria and Iran to the table to resolve the political crisis. This is simply not credible.

    Nowhere in this report are there any "disincentives" to cause al-Qaida, the Sunni insurgents, the militias, the Mahdi Army or sectarian death squads to call off their campaigns to inflict a historic defeat on the United States and expel us from Mesopotamia.

    The closer one studies the report, the more the truth emerges. These "realists" think Iraq is a lost cause, that Americans will not pay the price in blood, treasure and years to win it. And in this conviction the Baker Commission, too, may be right.

    This deepening fissure in the GOP presages a civil war inside the party by 2008, over whether to stay in Iraq -- or, if the war has ended in a debacle or defeat, over "Who Lost Iraq?"
    Pat Buchanan

  58. rufus's Iraq Index, on page 24 tracks Iraqi Oil Revenues.

    From a post Invasion peak, in August '06, revenues are trending down
    August '06 $3.44 Billion USD
    September '06 $2.73 Billion USD
    October '06 $2.45 Billion USD
    November 2.19 Billion USD

  59. Rat:

    I saved the Kagan pdf. When read it closely, later. I posted on the early summer Kagan plan to secure the river areas first, then Baghdad and Ramadi.

    My initial thoughts are that we are in a pretty sorry state of affairs when a civilian has to draw up the military strategy for securing Iraq. I may be overreacting but your post about Bush just being briefed on it is very disheartening. It's like th e number two man in the FBI not knowing about sunni/shia differences then Reyes showing the same ignorance.

    It seems to be that one of our most fundamental problems is the lack of quality leadership. Washington has gotten to be all about politics and the bureaucrats are to busy with the bureaucracy and politics to attempt to understand the real problems in order to seek solutions.

  60. Here's what Tiger, my associate over at Observanda, has to say about Kagan's plan.

    To my way of thinking, if my enemy is concentrated within a large city then it's time for me to rage holy hell in all other locations, eventually and effectively surrounding that large fortified city. Also, since I have "suicide-soldiers", I would conduct kamikazi raids on the large city killing as many as possible. I would also increase activity across the border with Syria and Iran, bringing in as much death as possible. Asymetric warfare is about taking every opportunity possible to cause damage without getting yourself obliterated. In the case of Muslim extremism, an almost endless supply of troops are available and more are being born every day. If the "Plan" does not do anything regionally, I predict right now; IT WILL NOT WORK! Like lots of things I say here, lately; I HOPE LIKE HEAVEN I'M WRONG!

  61. Rat, if you will go to p 28 on that link (quality of life) you will see that oil "exports" were up during that time period; It was just a fact that the "World Price" of oil declined by 30%, or so.

  62. Ruf:
    I was wondering about that very thing. Thanks for the follow-up.

  63. By the way Rat, If you are making any money on your enDeuced rock-star-status, I do expect a fish cake or two.

  64. When it comes to financing the "Reconstruction" it is the revenue, not production, that matters.

    If the oil revenues decline then the Iraqi's ability to self finance their own remedy diminishes.

  65. Rat, don't worry the price of oil is on it's way back up.

    BTW, the reason they're considering giving $12 Billion/yr to the people is that they can't spend/steal the money fast enough.

    The Money's backing up on them.

  66. To date I have been unable to produce an adequate model to monotize any of this.

    I have given it some thought, though.

  67. This seems to make sense.

    New push for Iraq reconciliation, BBC

    Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Maliki has called on former members of Saddam Hussein's army to return - in a move to win over disaffected Sunnis.

    He added that those who preferred not to join the new Iraqi army would receive their pensions.

    He made the statement at the start of talks between members of both Shia and Sunni moderate groups, aimed at curbing rampant sectarian violence.

    The escalating conflict is killing about 100 Iraqis on average every day.

  68. Which brings me back to the question I asked a week or so, ago; Why the hell can't they Buy Their Own Damned Weapons?

    They're running a "Surplus;" we're running a "Deficit."

  69. I have already figured that out Rat. I am working on and developing a beach front casino and condo hotel in Costa Rica and thought about a way to introduce the project.

  70. You need a "hook," Deuce. Make it a "Green" Resort. We'll buy a couple of hundred acres of pastureland, and produce your electricity from Grass.

  71. Caribe or Pacific.
    Diving or Surf?

    What kind of jungle is in the area?
    River trips or rapid running?

  72. oh my, the new "super surge" plan rumored to be Bush's favorite...hmmm, can anyone spell Vietnam? Yah, more troops, that's the ticket, more boots on the head as we play well armored policeman in a strange land -- the chinese finger trap continues to tighten.

  73. How many condo units &
    how many rooms in the stand alone hotel?

  74. Yep, it seems that way, ash. Coupled with embed training.

    Six months to a lull in the fighting, whether it's Victory or just that the "bad guys" will have gone to ground... depends on which bad guy we're speaking of.

    We'll be handing off to heavily US embedded Iraqi units, in Baghdad by July/ August. By November most all the country will be under Iraqi control. That is Maliki's Goal, allways has been.

  75. Or, Deuce, you could go one step, farther, and do something like this.

    Have a "Green" Resort, get a lot of "Great" Publicity, produce your own electricity and enjoy another "Profit Center," as well.

  76. The property is 22 acres on the beach . It can handle three hundred twin units, 150 footprints. It could be straight residential or a condo hotel concept.

  77. 40 acres of grass would "electrify" the Condos. Maybe, another 40 for the Casino/restaurant. Another 20 for "margin." 100 acres of grass would do it.

    Think of the pubicity.

  78. Whit,

    re: quality leadership

    This is the headline in the 18 December 2006 Air Force Times:
    "Senior JAG fired - Colonel had been disbarred in Texas, Louisiana in 1980s".

    Over his 23 year Air Force as a disbarred non-lawyer, among other things, he headed up the JAG training program at Montgomery, tried cases, and the guy served two tours during the Bush administration as the White House as counsel for the Air Force.

    For 23 years, while serving as an Air Force JAG, he WAS NOT a lawyer. NO ONE ever asked for his credentials!

    Whit, on days like today, I think all adults are screwed.

  79. The demographic of the guest, mid 40's to early 60's? or older?
    Targeted sales price of the units.
    under $75,000
    125,000- $200,000

    Clustered in micro villages, with semi private common areas

    Segmented to fractional use, time share, hotel or sole owner units.

    Luxury or bare bones?

    Totally internalized like a Shangri La Hotel experience

    Or looking to create a "Rick's" for wanna-be expats to float in and out of?

    Depending upon the areas end use, the marketing campaign could/ would differ.

  80. Whit,

    Before you read further, make sure you have nothing in your mouth and that everything of value on your desk is out of reach, because I was nearly asphyxiated by a paroxysm of laughter when I read,
    “The JAG Corps works on the honor system.”

    Lawyers – honor
    Obesity - svelte
    Orgy - chastity

    You have got to be kidding, Lt. Col. Lisa Turner, JAG hag.

  81. This fellow is marketing an incomplete package for $50,000 USD, lot and house, but leaves to much to the imagination
    Parrita Area

  82. Tens of millions of dollars will be spent in examining EVERY JAG file Colonel (?) Murphy touched. Potentially, tens of billions of dollars will be spent by the Air Force in settling claims for actual and punitive damages, the result of everything Colonel Murphy touched as a non-lawyer lawyer, but not to worry says the Major General in charge of the Air Force JAG.

    During the last eighteen (18) months, the Air Force has fired its (1) Top JAG, a Major General, (2) prospective Top JAG, a Brigadier General, and (3) prospective, prospective Top JAG, a Colonel. What is wrong with this picture? Should the Air Force JAG Kindergarten be allowed to continue?

    A question mark is used beside alleged Colonel Murphy’s rank because, if he is not a lawyer, he may not be a Colonel either. But not to worry, says Major General Jack (Jumpin’ Jack) Rives, Top JAG.

  83. Before signing off, brevet Colonel Murphy (JAG wannabe) was awarded the Bronze Star for service in Iraq. There is no word yet whether he had any input in target acquisition.

  84. Then at the Boston Globe they are writing about all the Iraqi we owe a safe haven to, here in the US, now that all is about to be lost in Iraq.

    But at Investors Business Daily they take a different view, seeing the appointment of Army Lt. Gen. Raymond Odierno as the #2 US Soldier in Iraq
    "... But Odierno has one overriding fact in his favor if he chooses a more traditional approach, such as killing as many of the enemy as possible. For all its political appeal back in Washington, soft power isn't working in Iraq. It may be a hit with military analysts, but it hasn't impressed our enemies. And whatever successes the U.S. achieved in Baghdad two years ago, they clearly were temporary. Neither the U.S. nor the Iraqi government has been able to stem the bloodshed or to break the power of the militias.

    The potential cost of such failure goes far beyond Iraq. If the world sees that the U.S. cannot bring some reasonable degree of order to territory occupied by its armed forces, America will no longer be seen as a formidable foe or a reliable friend.

    In the short term, aggressively destroying — not placating — enemies wouldn't be popular in Iraq or anywhere else outside the U.S., and may be hard to sustain politically at home. But it would be far more damaging in the long run to lose by not fighting hard enough.

    The coming months will tell whether the choice of a commander with a different style and reputation will make much of a difference on the ground. We hope it does. The war in Iraq requires not only a surge of troops and firepower, but also a shift in attitude. Security must come first. Nothing else, from the digging of new sewers to the building of democracy, can move forward without it. "

    Six months of heavy handedness could open a window, or not.
    But it does give US time to ramp up some more Iraqi

  85. Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom

    Bronze Stars

    USMC 1,466
    USAF 3,849

    Why is victory so illusive?

  86. Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom

    Bronze Stars

    USA 52,000+
    USMC 1,466
    USAF 3,849

    It is so important that we feel good about ourselves. Why is victory so illusive?

  87. The Marines have maintained about 20% of the US Forces in Iraq, throughout.
    They seem a bit behing in the Awards race.
    Way out of proportion, a bunch of slackers> Nah, I do not believe that.
    Looks more like a case of grading on a curve, by the Army and Air Force. How many promotion points does a Bronze Star get ya?