“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."

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

More on security in Iraq, three years late.

Last Saturday, December 16, 2006, we at the Elephant had a discussion on a refocus of priorities in Iraq. Iraq. It's the security, stupid. The New York Times is posting an analysis on the change in priorities in Iraq. President Bush has announced his intention to increase the size of the US military. This is a monumental shift in US policy. In March of this year, Bush speaking at George Washington University said,
"We have a comprehensive strategy for victory in Iraq -- a strategy I laid out in a series of speeches last year. Our strategy has three elements: On the political side, we are helping Iraqis build a strong democracy, so that old resentments will be eased, and the insurgency marginalized. On the economic side, we are continuing reconstruction efforts and helping Iraqis build a modern economy that will give all its citizens a stake in a free and peaceful Iraq. And on the security side, we are striking terrorist targets and training the Iraqi security forces -- which are taking responsibility for more Iraqi territory and becoming increasingly capable of defeating the enemy."
The new emphasis is being reversed with security the number one priority. That is the priority that should have been applied when Iraqi low-lifes were sacking the country three years ago. The US lack of planning for maintaining order after the initial invasion of Iraq is a blunder that will be recorded in military texts as a case study on how not to attack a country. It will not be the only foot note attributed to this administration. That obvious mistake telegraphed to the world and the enemies of the US that the US military was unwilling or unable to stop lawlessness in Iraq.

Well after three years, two thousand dead GIs, thousands more wounded by IED's, tens of thousands of dead Iraqis and untold billions of dollars, the Bush Administration is placing security where it should have been when the first day the fences were cut in Kuwait.

Military Analysis
New Iraq Strategy Emerges: First Security, Then Politics
New York Times
Published: December 20, 2006
WASHINGTON, Dec. 19 — The debate over whether to increase the American military presence in Baghdad is much more than a dispute over troop levels. It reflects a more fundamental dispute over the American mission.

In proposing to send tens of thousands of additional troops, proponents of reinforcing the American military effort argue that the violence in Iraq is increasing at such an alarming rate that Washington can no longer wait for the newly minted Iraqi security forces to take on the main burden of securing the Iraqi capital.

The United States, they assert, needs to expand its mission by making the protection of the Iraqi population its primary objective."

Comment:" "You don't say."


  1. Deuce,

    You know I support you. But, you must understand that this very day the Joint Chiefs are "concerned."
    As earlier written, "Sometimes, generals have influence on policy formulation. Always, generals have influence on policy implementation."

    Even if one gives the President benefit of doubt as to sincerity, he continues to field the same loosing coaching staff. This latest effort will fail as have all the other grand strategies. You simply cannot make a Grant from a McClellan.

  2. Deuce,

    As you may have noticed, I have been all over the internet attempting to generate some interest in the Murphy FUBAR.

    To you and Whit, I tip my hat. From the level of discourse discovered by me, many commenters are in need of massive doses of psychotropic drugs. Your patience is truly extraordinary. Bless you!!!

    Certainly, it goes without saying, I exclude myself from the riff-raff.

  3. Deuce,

    You may have read, yesterday, the comments of the Commandant of the Marine Corps. As the President is laying out his plan to upsurge, the Commandant is before the cameras saying that he isn't sure he can support an upsurge.

    Well, Deuce, with all respect to the Commandant, in the immortal words of Abraham Lincoln, "Thank you for your service, goodbye. Next."

    But, of course, ole Lonesome George Bush is incapable of detecting insubordination. (Must be that tough love administered by Laura) So, the Commandant stays and the mission falls flat on its ass.

    Whatever 2008 may bring, it is hard to see anything more fucked up than this administration. Perhaps, a bit of Hillary's discipline will set the country right. Good grief, what have we to loose but our impotence.

  4. Deuce,

    Sorry, I forgot to mention that Schoomaker also whizzed on the Prez.

    Hell, if you’re going to be shot, why not by a circular firing squad.

    This is the world of plenipotentiary faux-pseudo-Colonel Murphy after all.

  5. Man! Just when I thought there was nothing more to be said about "Adipose" Ed Morrissey and his blog, along comes Day by Day.

    Written by fools to be read by imbeciles

  6. Deuce,

    Regretfully, I must report a shortcoming in the EB. The Elephant Bar has neglected to give respectful coverage to the "fruit cake." Instead, we have obessessed on concerns of war and national security.

    One of the "big" blogomeisters, Ed Morrissey covered fruit cake, yesterday. If the EB neglects to address such pressing matters, it can never hope to raise its status in blogdom (or is that blogdoom?).

    Just something to think about. Stay on the toes, don't you know.

  7. Wasn't the Captain Comparing Whale Vomit to fruit cake?
    Send him an e-mail, CNN has a great video of a little kid in Africa digging away, grabbing a rat, hitting it smartly on the shovel, then proudly carrying it to his mum.
    Mom is then seen cooking, and the lens zooms in on 3 rats frying away in the pan.
    Definite Blog Potential there.
    I can post again!
    ...I'll go check the monster thread and see if I'm still locked out.

  8. allen,
    I started looking at the Murphy story. All the coverage starts the same, so it is all cut and paste, mostly on the Left wing blogs. it ends with a cut about the Air Force investigating.

    It looks to me that he slipped through the cracks by getting into the air force prior to being disabarred. He slipped through within the honor code at the time. The security impact of a compromised man with a great career at risk is signifiicant. Clearly others have been compromised in lesser posititions for lesser foibles.

    There is very little press on him other than a forward to a Jag document in 2005. His life on the internet starts on December 2006. That must have been intentional.

    There are about 275 google entries on him, but they are all similar. I can find a couple which give an outline of his career with little detail. The significance of the story is his access. It is a "what if" story.

    I have more work to do on it. "what if" has not excited much comment beyond the attempts in several sources to develop interest. Everything stems from the Air Force Times issue.

  9. The Wobbly Guy said...

    Getting back on topic, there are a few qustions that should be asked first.

    Should the young iranians be helped? If so, how much help, and what kind of help?

    Is freedom truly a privilege, or does it have to be fought for for it to be worth anything?

    I would note that the American Civil War, of which the emancipation of slaves was a key objective(however tacked on in the middle), had the great help of the Union forces, which served up 300,000 soldiers to die on the altar of freedom.

    Or would the North have expected the slaves to win their own freedom?

    Same goes for the Iranian people. Do we expect them to do the heavy lifting?

    I guess one reason why many people are ambivalent about helping the Iranians is because the myriad peoples in the region don't have a stellar record of treasuring their freedoms.

    In the end, I would think that while freedom is a right, and one that can be granted by the sacrifice of others, it should be a one-shot deal. Mess up, and nobody's gonna care the next time.

    Actions have consequences. The fact that some people would piss away their hard-won freedoms(Venezuela, for example), doesn't make me any more inclined that more blood be shed to regain it.

    Wed Dec 20, 05:03:55 AM EST

    2164th said...
    Wobbly guy makes an excellent point, truly excellent, by asking a question about the US freeing of American slaves during the Civil War.

    Two things come to mind. When the North marched through the South, there was no question that the slaves wanted their freedom. Manly gleefully joined with the Union Army and served in the cause. Very few, but some did resist the change. That is understandable to me.

    The second point is that they were all Americans. It was not the English freeing them. It was a recognition of an injustice by Americans of an internal error and there begins and ends the similarity. There may be a civil war within Islam, but it does not appear to be a fight for freedom. It seems whichever side loses, there will be less freedom tolerated by the victors. Their does not seem to be an Islamic yearning for the natural right of freedom.

    Thank you for your participation in the debate. Feel free to put it up on the next post, while it is still fresh .

    Wed Dec 20, 07:52:16 AM EST

  10. Deuce,

    At the time of Murphy's commissioning, he was obliged to state under oath that no action had been taken by the Texas bar against him. In fact, as he knew, his license to practice in Texas had been suspended for seven years. Therefore, his commissioning was fraudulent. Consequently, he impersonated a commissioned officer of the United States and practiced law without a license. This takes us to 1984,

    In 1984, Murphy was permanently disbarred from practicing law in Texas.

    Because he had obtained admittance to the Louisiana bar based on falsifying the record as to his Texas suspension and subsequent disbarrment, in 1985 the state of Louisiana permanently disbarred him.

    In both instances of disbarrment, Murphy was bound by law to report his status to the JAGAF. He knowingly failed to so do.

    Because of Murphy's high profile assignments from the year 2000 to the present, on each occasion he should have undergone an exhaustive backround check. Either this was not done or, again, Murphy engaged in the falsification of the record. Given the degree of scrutiny required to serve on the President's staff, it is unlikely Murphy could have handled this alone.

    The potential for mischief is so grave in this case, and the attitude of the Air Force so defensive, I fear a cover-up. Since Murphy is some general's rotten egg, the investigation of him must be from outside the Air Force. With enough hell raised, Congress will see to that.

  11. Trish says it ain't so, but those that were there say it was:
    The DOD plan was NO occupation, quickly turning it over to the Iraqis, who of course would most likely have applied the requisite amount of force at the giddyup.

    But Powell and Condi had other ideas, and Jerry Bremer became Viceroy.

    "What also needs to be understood is that while Bremer headed the State Department’s Counter Terrorism Office in the 1980s before leaving to go into the private sector to work for the then private-sector Kissinger, Bremer’s staff there has been described to me as small. And let’s not forget that he, Bremer had had only one junior officer level tour in the Muslim world – in Afghanistan - when the situation in the country was far different from what it later became under the Taliban.

    Even so, Afghanistan is a case unto itself. Afghans are not Arabs and an understanding of this complex country does not translate into either knowledge of the Arab Middle East or, for that matter produce, Arabic language facility.

    It was also clear in Bremer’s presentation here that he really had not taken into consideration the importance of the role of Islam or the umma (world wide Islamic community of believers)

  12. Who is this Murphy guy and why does it matter?
    Where's the harm?
    Smells Foul, No Harm.

  13. doug,

    re: Murphy

    I now abandon the field. Murphy is the nobody who may destroy the Republican chances of recovery in 2008 and the President's prosecution of the war. Other than that, and the potential for theft and espionage, why worry?

  14. Murphy was a shyster lawyer that gained an Air Force commission, as a lawyer, though he had been disbarred. Legal Advisor to the President, for the Air Force, he became. Advised on the RoEs and stuff, doug. Like the legality of hitting that Afghan cemetery

    Said from the get go that it was State and the White House that fumbled in Iraq. So many, to include C4 denied it, wanting to blame Mr Rumsfeld for the fiasco, but the proof is in the historical pudding.
    The Military went along with the bumblers and became fumbling bumblers, themselves. A contagion of incompetence spread across DC

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

  16. Rat, I dumped your repeat. I assume you are also with trash cans.

    Allen, The story is about the security vetting, the secret service, or someone covering for him, unless there is something with espionage. I am thinking about it. Putting it up with the same cut and paste will accomplish nothing.

  17. Indeed, even us nonBeta players have been trashed.
    It is an affront to all of us, to be disenfranchised from taking out our own trash.

  18. dr, allen and 2164th, thanks for the heads up. I was getting a little puzzled as to why allen was posting about this Murphy on several blogs.

    And just to say, this thread is much less chaotic than the previous one. I was attempting to manoeuvre and sift through all those comments, and that was tedious.

  19. a little paste for you guys from Friedman at NYT:

    Mideast Rules to Live By

    Published: December 20, 2006

    For a long time, I let my hopes for a decent outcome in Iraq triumph over what I had learned reporting from Lebanon during its civil war. Those hopes vanished last summer. So, I’d like to offer President Bush my updated rules of Middle East reporting, which also apply to diplomacy, in hopes they’ll help him figure out what to do next in Iraq.

    Rule 1: What people tell you in private in the Middle East is irrelevant. All that matters is what they will defend in public in their own language. Anything said to you in English, in private, doesn’t count. In Washington, officials lie in public and tell the truth off the record. In the Mideast, officials say what they really believe in public and tell you what you want to hear in private.

    Rule 2: Any reporter or U.S. Army officer wanting to serve in Iraq should have to take a test, consisting of one question: “Do you think the shortest distance between two points is a straight line?” If you answer yes, you can’t go to Iraq. You can serve in Japan, Korea or Germany — not Iraq.

    Rule 3: If you can’t explain something to Middle Easterners with a conspiracy theory, then don’t try to explain it at all — they won’t believe it.

    Rule 4: In the Middle East, never take a concession, except out of the mouth of the person doing the conceding. If I had a dollar for every time someone agreed to recognize Israel on behalf of Yasir Arafat, I could paper my walls.

    Rule 5: Never lead your story out of Lebanon, Gaza or Iraq with a cease-fire; it will always be over before the next morning’s paper.

    Rule 6: In the Middle East, the extremists go all the way, and the moderates tend to just go away.

    Rule 7: The most oft-used expression by moderate Arab pols is: “We were just about to stand up to the bad guys when you stupid Americans did that stupid thing. Had you stupid Americans not done that stupid thing, we would have stood up, but now it’s too late. It’s all your fault for being so stupid.”

    Rule 8: Civil wars in the Arab world are rarely about ideas — like liberalism vs. communism. They are about which tribe gets to rule. So, yes, Iraq is having a civil war as we once did. But there is no Abe Lincoln in this war. It’s the South vs. the South.

    Rule 9: In Middle East tribal politics there is rarely a happy medium. When one side is weak, it will tell you, “I’m weak, how can I compromise?” And when it’s strong, it will tell you, “I’m strong, why should I compromise?”

    Rule 10: Mideast civil wars end in one of three ways: a) like the U.S. civil war, with one side vanquishing the other; b) like the Cyprus civil war, with a hard partition and a wall dividing the parties; or c) like the Lebanon civil war, with a soft partition under an iron fist (Syria) that keeps everyone in line. Saddam used to be the iron fist in Iraq. Now it is us. If we don’t want to play that role, Iraq’s civil war will end with A or B.

    Rule 11: The most underestimated emotion in Arab politics is humiliation. The Israeli-Arab conflict, for instance, is not just about borders. Israel’s mere existence is a daily humiliation to Muslims, who can’t understand how, if they have the superior religion, Israel can be so powerful. Al Jazeera’s editor, Ahmed Sheikh, said it best when he recently told the Swiss weekly Die Weltwoche: “It gnaws at the people in the Middle East that such a small country as Israel, with only about seven million inhabitants, can defeat the Arab nation with its 350 million. That hurts our collective ego. The Palestinian problem is in the genes of every Arab. The West’s problem is that it does not understand this.”

    Rule 12: Thus, the Israelis will always win, and the Palestinians will always make sure they never enjoy it. Everything else is just commentary.

    Rule 13: Our first priority is democracy, but the Arabs’ first priority is “justice.” The oft-warring Arab tribes are all wounded souls, who really have been hurt by colonial powers, by Jewish settlements on Palestinian land, by Arab kings and dictators, and, most of all, by each other in endless tribal wars. For Iraq’s long-abused Shiite majority, democracy is first and foremost a vehicle to get justice. Ditto the Kurds. For the minority Sunnis, democracy in Iraq is a vehicle of injustice. For us, democracy is all about protecting minority rights. For them, democracy is first about consolidating majority rights and getting justice.

    Rule 14: The Lebanese historian Kamal Salibi had it right: “Great powers should never get involved in the politics of small tribes.”

    Rule 15: Whether it is Arab-Israeli peace or democracy in Iraq, you can’t want it more than they do."

  20. Allen said, "I now abandon the field. Murphy is the nobody who may destroy the Republican chances of recovery in 2008 and the President's prosecution of the war."

    Murphy's Military Law 1: The only time suppressive fire works is when it is used on abandoned positions

    Murphy's Military Law 2: The quartermaster has only two sizes, too large and too small

    Murphy's Military Law 3: Incoming fire has the right of way

    Murphy's Military Law 4. The only thing more accurate than incoming enemy fire is incoming friendly fire

    Murphy's Military Law 5. If your advance is going well, you are walking into an ambush

    Murphy's Military Law 6: No battle plan ever survives contact with the enemy

    Murphy's Military Law 7: Friendly fire ain't

    Murphy's Military Law 8: The most dangerous thing in the combat zone is an officer with a map

    Murphy's Military Law 9: The problem with taking the easy way out is that the enemy has already mined it

    Murphy's Military Law 10: The buddy system is essential to your survival; it gives the enemy somebody else to shoot at

  21. The Mother of All MidEast Rules to Live by:

    Never ever never believe what an Arab tells you; and when you get the first chance kill as many of them as you can. This wisdom comes from long hard experience.

  22. Were your husbands'the "Plans" that were used, trish?
    If not, then some other "Plan" with a different timeline may have been implemented, then rejected, for yet another "Plan", with a different timeline.
    Or the Five Year Master Plan may be coming to fruition

  23. trish,

    re: "whimsy"

    What a deliciously apropos useage. Trish, I believe you have captured, in a single word, the very soul of the endeavor.

    You do understand, I hope, that no disrespect is intended.

    Could one make the case for "whimsy" in Custer's grandiose pincer maneuver at the Little Big Horn?

  24. trish,

    Pardon my lapse of good manners. Yours is a truly brilliant insight.

  25. "In any event, Rat, that whole "DOD didn't plan for an occupation" line is a canard."

    Of course it's a canard.

    Good editorial at RCP by Mary Eberstadt, "The Scapegoats Among Us", (sorry, I don't know how to hyperlink) that describes the Bush haters here pretty well.

    I like this blog, but the comments are so dominated by a couple foam flecked Bush bashers that it's slipping down the list. FWIW.

  26. With a violent shrug of matted mane, paw flinging foam from open maw, red eyes flashing, Allen turns and says, “And”?

  27. Anonymous said, "I like this blog, but the comments are so dominated by a couple foam flecked Bush bashers that it's slipping down the list. FWIW."

    Not to mention the foam-drenched Elephant Barfly basher who posts 25 kilobyte "Teresita Commentary Roundup" articles to scattered applause and a chorus of crickets.

  28. And,

    if the shoe fits wear it. Or do like the Arabs and take it off and beat on a Bush effigy with it. Wouldn't be any stupider.

    Like I said, FWIW.

  29. rufus,

    re: Ice Age (brrrr)

    Yes, but Global Warming is the pentultimate culprit. Obviously, Bush is the first. (He said with sadistic delight, the blood of a fresh Repbulican victim slowly oozing from his whiskered snout.)

  30. Anonymous said, "if the shoe fits wear it. Or do like the Arabs and take it off and beat on a Bush effigy with it. Wouldn't be any stupider."

    I'll let the Republican faithful do it, after Bush signs all the Democrats new proposals that he fully supports, beginning with: "I support the proposed $2.10 increase in minimum wage in a two-year period." --GWB, 12/20/06

  31. Rufus said, "rufus said...No, we like it when Catherine beats up on you, T. It keeps you honest. Well, as much as that's 'Possible.' ;)"

    It doesn't bother me even a teesy bit, Rufus. I'm particularly looking forward to the part coming up when Miss Catz overplays her hand, posts just one too many "Greatest Hits" compilations, forcing the EB boys to collectively yawn and tell her to put a sock in her pie hole.

  32. trish,


    What I did not anticipate was leaderships’ almost horizontal learning curve. During protracted conflicts, America has shown resilience.

    Again, this criticism has nothing to do with staff work. But, as you appreciate, even a perfect plan will fail for lack of execution.

  33. Streisand,

    re: news manipulation

    Agreed. Please, see my 3:00 to Trish.

  34. Rufus:

    yes but Friedman can't make up his mind...see this:

    February 13, 2002
    Crazier Than Thou

    Reading Europe's press, it is really reassuring to see how warmly Europeans have embraced President Bush's formulation that an ''axis of evil'' threatens world peace. There's only one small problem. President Bush thinks the axis of evil is Iran, Iraq and North Korea, and the Europeans think it's Donald Rumsfeld, Dick Cheney and Condi Rice.

    I'm not kidding. Chris Patten, the European Union's foreign policy czar, told The Guardian that the Bush axis-of-evil idea was dangerously ''absolutist and simplistic,'' not ''thought through'' and ''unhelpful,'' and that the Europeans needed to stop Washington before it went into ''unilateralist overdrive.''

    So what do I think? I think these critics are right that the countries Mr. Bush identified as an axis of evil are not really an ''axis,'' and we shouldn't drive them together. And the critics are right that each of these countries poses a different kind of threat and requires a different, nuanced response. And the critics are right that America can't fight everywhere alone. And the critics are right that America needs to launch a serious effort to end Israeli-Palestinian violence, because it's undermining any hope of U.S.-Arab cooperation.

    The critics are right on all these counts -- but I'm still glad President Bush said what he said.

    Because the critics are missing the larger point, which is this: Sept. 11 happened because America had lost its deterrent capability. We lost it because for 20 years we never retaliated against, or brought to justice, those who murdered Americans. From the first suicide bombing of the U.S. Embassy in Beirut in April 1983, to the bombing of the Marine barracks at the Beirut airport a few months later, to the T.W.A. hijacking, to the attack on U.S. troops at Khobar Towers in Saudi Arabia, to the suicide bombings of two U.S. embassies in East Africa, to the attack on the U.S.S. Cole in Yemen, innocent Americans were killed and we did nothing.

    So our enemies took us less and less seriously and became more and more emboldened. Indeed, they became so emboldened that a group of individuals -- think about that for a second: not a state but a group of individuals -- attacked America in its own backyard. Why not? The terrorists and the states that harbor them thought we were soft, and they were right. They thought that they could always ''out-crazy'' us, and they were right. They thought we would always listen to the Europeans and opt for ''constructive engagement'' with rogues, not a fist in the face, and they were right.

    America's enemies smelled weakness all over us, and we paid a huge price for that. There is an old bedouin legend that goes like this: An elderly Bedouin leader thought that by eating turkey he could restore his virility. So he bought a turkey, kept it by his tent and stuffed it with food every day. One day someone stole his turkey. The Bedouin elder called his sons together and told them: ''Boys, we are in great danger. Someone has stolen my turkey.'' ''Father,'' the sons answered, ''what do you need a turkey for?''

    ''Never mind,'' he answered, ''just get me back my turkey.'' But the sons ignored him and a month later someone stole the old man's camel. ''What should we do?'' the sons asked. ''Find my turkey,'' said the father. But the sons did nothing, and a few weeks later the man's daughter was raped. The father said to his sons: ''It is all because of the turkey. When they saw that they could take my turkey, we lost everything.''

    America is that Bedouin elder, and for 20 years people have been taking our turkey. The Europeans don't favor any military action against Iraq, Iran or North Korea. Neither do I. But what is their alternative? To wait until Saddam Hussein's son, Uday, who's even a bigger psychopath than his father, has bio-weapons and missiles that can hit Paris?

    No, the axis-of-evil idea isn't thought through -- but that's what I like about it. It says to these countries and their terrorist pals: ''We know what you're cooking in your bathtubs. We don't know exactly what we're going to do about it, but if you think we are going to just sit back and take another dose from you, you're wrong. Meet Don Rumsfeld -- he's even crazier than you are.''

    There is a lot about the Bush team's foreign policy I don't like, but their willingness to restore our deterrence, and to be as crazy as some of our enemies, is one thing they have right. It is the only way we're going to get our turkey back.

  35. Streisand,

    re: killing with kindness

    Please, take the following in the spirit intended.

    From my personal experience, I have previously posited two truisms (not to be confused with universal truths):
    __Sometimes generals influence policy formulation.
    __Always generals influence policy implementation.

    As you may have noticed, not a few of our military leaders were and remain "uncomfortable" with the President's Iraq intervention. Consequently, in my opinion, these reluctant warriors have used, in a perverse way, the natural tendency toward kindness of the average American soldier to "hobble" the action in Iraq. Succinctly, one may throw sand in the gears, without appearing insubordinate. So, in answer to your question, we have been too kind, but for all the wrong reasons and at all the wrong times.

    You have noticed my sometimes vociferous criticism of the President. Occasionally, people think this anti-war, anti-Iraq, or anti-Bush. A close reading of my opinions, however, will prove all these assumptions false. My displeasure with Mr. Bush has to do with his inability or unwillingness to act against those who undermine the efforts of the United States. Basically, fair or not, I expect Mr. Bush to act with the same ruthless dispatch as Mr. Lincoln. For instance, given the Commandant's public undermining of his boss, yesterday, this morning the Marine Corps should have awakened to a new Commandant. Ditto, the Joint Chiefs.

    By the way, you and Trish a smokin’ today. It is a genuine pleasure to discuss ideas rather than personalities.

  36. Catherine,

    Again, you are entirely correct, if I may be so bold. Time is not our friend.

    Yesterday (or was it this morning) Wu Wei waxed ecstatic at the news of the support of the Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani for the rumored upsurge in American troop strength, with the end of bringing a cessation to ALL sectarian violence. Wu Wei had not considered the age of the Grand Ayatollah or the rough neighborhood in which he lives. It is, in my opinion, the height of folly to place our trust in the good health of a single individual. But, that does seem to be the direction the administration is taking.

    When you bemoan the caustic impact of fighting without a soluble formula, again, you have understood a fundamental weakness of approach. Without meaning to be cavalier, and with empathy for the President’s plight in his struggle against his own blighted, treacherous agencies and a hostile Media, a plan must be sternly articulated by the Chief Executive and followed through to completion. Lincoln aged two decades in his term in the White House, but that is the price command. Regretfully, I must tell you of my doubts about Mr. Bush’s stamina.

    At the moment, I am considering the possibility that the best Mr. Bush might do for the country would be continued vigilance against homeland attack and his seeing to the funding mechanism and growth and refurbishment of our armed force. By all means, he must resist with all his might the temptation to withdraw en masse from Iraq, that territory being vital to the efforts of some future administration. Mind you, Catherine, this is not my desire but, under the circumstances, it is something with which I could live.

    Eventually, the people of the United States will rightly conclude that the ME is not Texas. Political Correctness will resist this impulse, but it is coming; the Muslims will see to that. When we all grasp that “East is East and West is West” a giant stride will have been taken toward solving the issues of American security, American projection, and pacifying Islamic cultures.

    Oh, thanks for being yourself.

  37. Gag Reflex said, "Chris Patten, the European Union's foreign policy czar, told The Guardian that the Bush axis-of-evil idea was dangerously 'absolutist and simplistic,' not 'thought through' and 'unhelpful'..."

    In other words the EUtopians are spoiled kids standing around during a home-invasion robbery with their hands in their pockets while Dad loads the shotgun, telling him that using a firearm would be unhelpful.

  38. Allen,

    From my perspective only, your last two comments serve as a clarifying exclamation point of the sentence comprising your posts over the last several week, which have led me to the conclusion that you and I share an identical viewpoint as opposed to oppositional one. Hope that makes sense, and for me, its been an interesting education regarding my normal tendency to jump to conclusions too quickly.

    Like some others here & at BC, I held for too long to the belief that Bush and team were not nearly as fucked up as they really are, and that there was some Grand Master Plan, which there clearly is not. I do believe that Catherine also has it right regarding Runsfeld. I believe he is a smart, principled man and probably held reasonable, yet flexible, positions regarding the post-occupation phase. Powell, on the other hand, is nothing if not a shrewd politician, and therefore not very principled, and seems fully capable of having been one of the "principal" bunglers, yet remaining shrewd, he got the hell out of dodge before he could get stuck with any responsibility/liability for the disaster he helped to precipitate. Condi is neither as smart and principled as Rumsfeld, nor as shrewd as Powell; therefore she, along with Bush, will ultimately get most of the blame. And Bush, as you, DR, Kenneth Adelman and others have repeatedly pointed out, has failed to hold any of his subordinates accountable for poor/insubordinate performance, and therefore, one can justly argue, fails to hold himself accountable. Taken as a whole, it kind of proves the Peter Principle, doesn't it?

  39. I kept asking myself the same question. What am I missing?

  40. j willie,

    Thanks for the vote of confidence, I am honored.

  41. Deuce et al.

    As you might guess, I have taken of lot of flack over my pushing the Murphy scandal. Viscerally, however, I feel that Murphy may be the Dreyfus of our time, i.e. he may be that one individual who gives a face to all the corruption within a bloated, listless, self-serving, untouchable military bureaucracy.

    I carry no personal brief against the man, although it would be disingenuous of me to say he does not revolt me and my sense of honor, duty, country. But, objectively I recognize that Murphy is not the malady; instead, he is the symptom.

    It is my opinion that if we can get our heads around Murphy and his gaming of an alleged fool-proof system, we will catch in a single instant the bundle of institutional reforms necessary for America to regain her preeminence.

    Again, anecdotally, viscerally, Murphy's turning coat might explain the statistically improbable circumstance of the administration's flat footed ineptness. Simply, how have the Russians, Iranians, French etc. found themselves well ahead of the curve?

    The risk run by conservatives and Republicans in attempting to suppress the story in the blogosphere, for fear to short-term embarrassment, is much the same as attempting to hide a corpse: the smell will tell. Through institutional pride and bigotry, the French government was brought down by the Dreyfus Affair. A refusal to autopsy the corpse of “Colonel” Murphy’s career and lay to rest the remains will be the undoing of the Right come 2008.

    The purpose of this post is not to reopen a debate that will take us no further than we are now. It is my hope, however, that we will pay particular attention as the story moves forward over time and prepare ourselves to act swiftly and decisively.

    I cannot begin to express or repay my debt of gratitude to both you and Whit for providing a truly marvelous forum for fair, open, unexpurgated inquiry and debate. Thanks, my friends!