“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."

Friday, December 08, 2006

The Persians purr. Iranian Foreign Minister is very happy.

Radio Netherlands covered a new conference with The Iranian foreign minister yesterday. He is in the Netherlands but had something else on his mind. He likes the Baker Commission.

That caught my attention. I am not sure I like him being quite so ebullient. I would have preferred to hear a squeal or two from Iran, perhaps a yelp or something other than a Persian purr.

So far the only yelping is coming from the conservative bloggers and some on the right. It is impossible to know where this will go. Events can change any plan. That is what happens when you let things get out of control. You lose control.

Oh well, you better get used to the idea. There is no political or public support to do anything other than to make changes and leave Iraq. Whatever they call it, it is not going to be called a victory. That should not make anyone happy, except an Iranian Foreign minister and coincidently, he seems to be very pleased.

The Telegraph is reporting that The Pentagon is not happy.
"Pentagon generals believe that the Iraq Study Group's military recommendations are unrealistic.

If American combat troops were pulled out before Iraqi security forces were capable of battling the insurgency alone it would be courting disaster, according to defence sources.

Retired officers who served as military advisers to the group said they were not consulted about the final recommendations."

Iran's foreign minister welcomes 'gift' from the US
by Hans Jaap Melissen*

Iran's Minister of Foreign Affairs could scarcely have been more pleased. At a press conference held at the home of the Iranian ambassador to the Netherlands on Wednesday 6 December, Manouchehr Mottaki positively beamed as he stared at the assembled press.

The questions thrown at him scarcely touched at all on his visit to the Netherlands, focussing instead on the report presented the same day in Washington by the Iraq Study Group, the committee advising President Bush on the war in Iraq.

The recommendations contained in the document indeed came almost as a gift from heaven for Iran, as Mr Mottaki's words clearly indicated:
"It shows that the main part of the policy was wrong. And they could not listen, they could not hear this voice in the region. But now, they are hearing from their own people."

The study group's report, which addresses in detail what is going wrong in Iraq, also mentions Iran and says that one of the ways to achieve a better future for Iraq is to involve neighbouring Syria and Iran in that process.

Mr Mottaki was clearly not unsympathetic to that proposal, but also commented that the Americans need to realise that the ultimate issue is the withdrawal of US troops from Iraq, which needs to get underway "in consultation with the Iraqi government."

The foreign minister said that Iran is prepared to help in Iraq, "for the fate of the Iraqi people is a matter of great importance to Iranians." However, he remained extremely vague about what precisely his country could do in that respect.

To look at that from a different perspective, one might ask: what is Iran already doing in Iraq at the moment? Is it, for example, arming certain Shi'ite militia forces? Is the Iranian secret service already working overtime within the borders of its former arch-enemy?

Pleasant position
On such issues, one clearly couldn't expect a satisfactory answer from Mr Mottaki. Moreover, the minister suddenly finds himself in an unusually pleasant position: on the one hand, Iran is needed, while on the other, it's under threat of facing sanctions in connection with its nuclear ambitions.

A pleasant position perhaps, but Mr Mottaki can't really be sure just how pleasant, since the Iraq Study Group report is 'merely' advisory, and it's not yet clear quite what President Bush and his administration are going to do with its recommendations. So, on Wednesday, Mr Mottaki decided to rub in the fact that the Americans are having major problems in two of his country's neighbours:
"The United States has had a good taste [of trouble] in Afghanistan and in Iraq."End of unilateralism
He also mentioned, in passing, Hizbollah's 'victory' over US-backed Israel in Lebanon only a few months ago, adding that he could not imagine any future military intervention in 'the region', i.e. in Iran itself:
"We do believe that the period of unilateralism is over […] that international behaviour based on using force is over […] and I do not see the US administration [imposing] another crisis in our region on the American taxpayers."

His underlying message is clear: Iran is an important power in the Middle East, and one to be reckoned with. Indeed, the greatness of his nation was more than hinted at in the printed invitation for Wednesday evening's press conference: "in the residence of the Iranian ambassador, the third largest in the Netherlands" … thanks, of course, to the taxpayers of Iran.

* RNW Internet translation (tpf)


  1. I debated myself.( I usualy win such debates.) whether to use the Radio Netherlands report or one from the Turkish English on line news. It is a good link to get an insight into how Iran is siezing the moment. Iran clearly has better political savvy than has been coming out of Washington. The foreign minister has been very chatty.

  2. How do we get our equipment out?

  3. Just hand the equipment over to our Iraqi Allies, the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq & Mr al-Sadr's Mahdi Army.

    Then it'll trickle down to the Iraqi Army, or is it the other way around, I forget.

    But do not worry, I read at BC, for well over a year, that Mr Bush can carry on, without public or Congressional support until the end of his term. Waging War for the good and against the bad, all on his own testosterone.

  4. I do not think Bush has got the message. It is over.

  5. Oliver Cromwell, Lord Protectorate of England told the Rump Parliment.

    "“You have been sat to long here for any good you have been doing. Depart, I say, and let us have done with you. In the name of god, go!.”
    This should have been the message to the ISG in May, two months after there formation, for their product merits it. In fact they have caused great damage as opposed to greta ideas.
    When you eschew victory for talk with the current greatest terrorist country on earth you have failed. When you eschew victory for talks with the greatest terrorist country on earth whose allies are also terrorist, including a resurgent Murder, Inc, Russia then your failure is inexcusably irresponsible. The ISG product should be trashed, but instead the MSM will treat it as the current ministers in Iran are, as divine word.
    For the moment word is that the President is none too happy with the ISG product. Let us pray that is true for to follow it will not remedy, but rather ruin what little global stability we tilt on currently.
    JFK said in his inaugural speech, "Let us never fear to negotitate, but let us never negotiate out of fear."
    We are negotiating out of fear. There is no substitute for military victory over Iran and Syria to solve this challenge.

  6. Victory over Iran and Syria is clearly not doable but military action by air assault will sufficiently garner their respect, of which they currently have none for the "Great Satan", and bring them into a new reality that we are a danger to their terrorist world.

  7. The Dems have their wish. We will now be perceived as much more kind and gentle in the eyes of the World. Particularly in the eyes of our enemies. OBL had it right after we left Somalia. We are quitters. We have written a new chapter on "How to Crawfish." Glad I live in the Heartland, 'cause it's fixin' to rain, HARD.

  8. Victory was never the objective of the military. Managed Battlespace was the Goal. Read of it almost three years ago, management of the battlespace, spoken of as if that, itself, was success.

    This piece by Shelby Steele explains it culturally, in the WSJ.

    Managed Battlespace dovetails so well with Force Protection.

  9. In other appeasement news > That pissant ex-hostage, Christain peacemaker Norman Kember *hack spit*, not only forgives his captors, but may refuse to testify against them. Opposes the death penalty you see.

  10. Timeline: Norman Kember abduction
    British peace activist Norman Kember has been freed in Iraq along with two Canadian colleagues. The body of fellow hostage Tom Fox was found in Baghdad two weeks ago.

    The BBC News website looks at the events since the four westerners were kidnapped during a peace mission to Iraq in November, by a group demanding the release of Iraqi prisoners.

    26 November 2005: British peace activist Norman Kember, 74, is kidnapped in Iraq, along with American Tom Fox, 54, and Canadians James Loney, 41, and Harmeet Singh Sooden, 32.

    30 November: Video footage of the hostages is aired on al-Jazeera television.

    A previously unknown group calling itself the Swords of Truth Brigade says it has kidnapped them and claims they were working as undercover spies.

    1 December: Anti-war campaigner Anas Altikriti, of the Muslim Association of Britain, flies to Iraq to plead for Mr Kember's life.

    2 December: A second videotaped message showing the hostages is broadcast by al-Jazeera.

    The hostage-takers threaten to kill them if the US and Iraqi authorities do not meet their demand of releasing all Iraqi prisoners by 8 December.

    4 December: Mr Kember's wife, Patricia, makes a televised plea for her husband's life.

    6 December: An extended version of the second hostage video emerges on the internet.

    In it Mr Kember calls for British troops to be pulled out of Iraq.

    7 December: Terror suspect Abu Qatada makes a video appealing for the kidnappers to show mercy to Mr Kember.

    The film, made by the radical cleric inside Full Sutton jail, near York, where he is being held pending deportation, is broadcast in the Middle East.

    8 December: A third video is aired on al-Jazeera, showing Mr Kember and US hostage Tom Fox dressed in Guantanamo Bay-style orange jumpsuits. They are blindfolded and shackled.

    The captors extend their deadline for two days until 10 December.

    9 December: British ex-Guantanamo Bay detainee Moazzam Begg appeals for Mr Kember's release.

    10 December: The extended deadline passes but there is no news of the hostages' fate and no word from their captors.

    24 December: Mr Kember's family start using Iraqi radio and newspaper adverts to appeal for him to be released.

    The Muslim Association of Britain broadcasts an appeal on al-Jazeera.

    6 January 2006: Mrs Kember appears on al-Jazeera to make a second appeal.

    28 January: Seven weeks after the last news of the hostages, a fourth video showing the four men and dated 21 January is broadcast on al-Jazeera. Their captors again say the four men will be killed if the group's demands are not met.

    5 March: Vigils are held across the UK to mark 100 days since Mr Kember's kidnap. Up to 100 people attend one of the hour-long vigils in London's Trafalgar Square.

    7 March: A further videotape of Mr Kember and two of the other hostages, dated 28 February and broadcast without sound, is aired on al-Jazeera. The Foreign Office says it is concerned that American hostage Tom Fox is not shown on the tape.

    10 March: US State Department confirms that the body of an American found in Iraq is that of Tom Fox.

    23 March: Mr Kember, Mr Loney and Mr Sooden are freed in a planned operation by multi-national forces.

  11. You trying to be me muzzled by muzzies rat? Thankfully no. We will meet in Panama or CR at a time and place of my choosing, so to speak.

  12. I picture a delegation headed by his father.

  13. How times have changed, George HW Bush, filling in for Barry Goldwater

  14. I'm tellin ya, stay out of the isthmus area. Us 19th -centuryites--we need a name!--must retire toward a common heartland redoubt, somewhere in the midwest, with soil and water and landing strips.

  15. Military victory may not have been the target but as Goh Chok Tong, the former prime minister of Singapore, put it, it is about, and the issue is about, American credibility.
    If we cede that we can and should be prepared to fight on our own territory for that territory, with help from no one.
    And given our military might it would be a treachery so unimaginable to let that happen as to be fatal to who lead us down that path.
    Israel will not cede and is willing to die in a conflagration rather than adopt the position we have.
    By the way, the Muslims have no intention of quitting their march to the new Caliphate. So it's fight here or fight there, take your pick.

  16. Buddy,
    Avatar comes to BL. Now is that the same type of signal seen so often on the highways and byeways of America?

  17. The midwest? It gets cold, snow and tornados.
    US Beach front means hurricanes, but if you're down south, below the track that's nnot a problem.
    If it is to the US advantage ot import low wage workers, is it not in my best interest to live where the low wage workers are paid even less?
    What is "good" for US multinational corporations is even better for US individual citizens.

  18. Does all this mean Ann Margaret won't be coming?

  19. DR,
    You territory is might forbidding and would provide many good you have any wells dug in secret locations?
    And can we get close air support?

  20. Not this round of tours, it is not the same for her without Bob Hope.

    It's not quite the same for the GI, either. Ms Margaret, born in 1941, is getting a bit long in the tooth to fire up the troops.

  21. Trish,
    On my patch I make my own ROE's and believe me, they will be different.
    NO hearts and minds, just dead bodies.

  22. ok well take Britney egressing an auto.

  23. Western slope of the Appalachians?

    Shenandoah Valley, like Stonewall?

  24. DR, thanks for the Shelby Steele link.

    habu1, well said! Give 'em no quarter.

  25. I've always wanted a tour of Dearborn.

    gather up a herd of Russian razorbacks and drive 'em up north.

  26. We've got plenty of water, habu, up in the Tonto. Air support, that's a little dicier. We'll have to supply that ourselves, I'm not sure how much of a load we can mount on an ultra-light. We do have cavalry assets, though.
    Well, at least mounted infantry, considering how most folk can't ride a horse for either long or far.

  27. Buddy we have to take out the 100,000 in Dearborn first or they could play havoc with everthing.

  28. a good stock of Prep H?

  29. We shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender..........yea, right.

  30. We also need to coordinate ammo caliber..can't have everyone shoot'n different stuff.

  31. I vote .308 for infantry, but the ultralites forces will best mount the .22 lest it stall out & auger in when firing.

  32. Habu1

    We all have plenty of .223 cached...don't we?

  33. Buddy,
    I can't go ultralight so I'll have to be infantry. Unless you got an utralight that'll haul 6'2" 265lbs..Of course if it comes doen to it we can always "liberate some Pitts S-2's a few Piper SuperCubs etc..God what I'd give for a Pilatus.

  34. My stuff is all Chicom, 7.62x39
    Except for the shotguns
    We'll need a good "far way" piece, 7.62 NATO.

  35. ,223, with that load of powder, might overcome the .5 HP Briggs & Stratton, forcing the ultralite into retrograde flight, with the accompanying assorted untoward flight characteristics.

  36. gag..I'll have to buy a new upper. I just bought the new 6.8mm.
    I do have a hakering for the Springfield Armory M1A
    Tools of the trade

  37. that thing weighs as much as the old Garand--

  38. Or or...we could all go to Swan Island and do "planning" and set up Radio Free Carib...listen to Dino, Sinatra, Tony Bennet and "evaluate " things

  39. .270 used to be a popular cartridge, but it seems .308 is just about to put it out of biz.

  40. None of the modern battle rifles fit in a scabbard. Pistol grips and carrying handles, with external magazines.
    The SKS, great saddle gun.
    Since no combat rifles are chambered 30-30 it limits the family of weaponry applicable to the scenario.

    Ms Kirkpatrick just passed, they say on FOX, RIP.

  41. yeah Buddy but it'll reach out and touch ya ...the word from Irag and the reason the black ops went to 6.8mm is that the .223 wasn't stopping the bad guys in CQC.

    Now do you want an umbrella in that Mimosa sir?

  42. RIP..she was good, very good.

  43. Down to the isthmus, I had suggested, but buddy wants to move to West Virgina, the Appalachians or Shenandoah Valley

  44. troops gotta have morale..

    Swan Island R & R ..Swan Island Mustang Ranch

  45. Fallback to the Ranch, then, like Rock Hudson and John Wayne after the Civil War, migrate south, to the beach.

  46. Get Mad Mike Hoare to tell merc stories.

  47. West Virgina, a southern state if ever was one

  48. Roland was a warrior from the land of the midnight sun
    With his Thompson gun for hire, fighting to be done
    The deal was made in Denmark on a dark and stormy day
    So he set out for Biafra to join the bloody fray

    Through '66 and 7, they fought the Congo war
    With their fingers on their triggers, knee deep in gore
    For days and nights they battled the Bantu to their knees
    They killed to earn their living and to help out the Congolese

    Roland the Thompson gunner
    Roland the Thompson gunner

    His comrades fought beside him, Van Owen and the rest
    But of all the Thompson gunners, Roland was the best
    So the CIA decided they wanted Roland dead
    That son of a bitch Van Owen blew off Roland's head

    Roland the headless Thompson gunner
    Time, time, time, for another peaceful war
    Norway's bravest son
    But time stands still for Roland, 'til he evens up the score
    They can still see his headless body stalking through the night
    In the muzzle flash of Roland's Thompson gun
    In the muzzle flash of Roland's Thompson gun

    Roland searched the continent for the man who'd done him in
    He found him in Mombassa, in a barroom drinking gin
    Roland aimed his Thompson gun, he didn't say a word
    But he blew Van Owen's body from there to Johannesburg

    Roland the headless Thompson gunner, talking about the man
    Roland the headless Thompson gunner

    The eternal Thompson gunner
    Still wand'ring through the night
    Now it's ten years later, but he still keeps up the fight
    In Ireland, in Lebanon, in Palestine and Berkeley
    Patty Hearst heard the burst
    Of Roland's Thompson gun and bought it

  49. Make love not war, but bring the right equipment and go to the next post. Do not make me regret the post.

    It is an intellectual issue. maybe philosophical, depending on your point of view.

  50. Ah, the Koober vs Merc Wars--what a show--

  51. Stonewall jackson's "foot cavalry" sure tried to hold it. IIRC, it was Phil Sheridan, with all the shiney new harness and well-fed hosses from the Yankee industrial surge, what finally did in the Shenandoah Valley.

  52. Dee Rat, I miss Warren Z....

  53. Habu said, "... got a good stock of Prep H."

    I used Prep H once. Ptui! For all the good they did me I might as well have shoved them up my ass.

  54. Subject: Military Trivia, from Col D. G. Swinford, USMC, Ret and history buff, digging deep to furnish this kind of ringside seat to history:

    1. The first German serviceman killed in WW2 was killed by the Japanese (China, 1937), the first American serviceman killed was killed by the Russians (Finland1940); highest ranking American killed was Lt Gen Lesley McNair, killed by the US Army Air Corps. So much for allies.

    2. The youngest US serviceman was 12 year old Calvin Graham, USN. He was wounded and given a Dishonorable Discharge for lying about his age. His benefits were later restored by act of Congress.

    3. At the time of Pearl Harbor, the top US Navy command was called CINCUS (pronounced "sink us"), the shoulder patch of the US Army's 45th Infantry division was the Swastika, and Hitler's private train was named "Amerika." All three were soon changed for PR purposes.

    4. More US servicemen died in the Air Corps than the Marine Corps. While completing the required 30 missions, your chance of being killed was 71%.

    5. Generally speaking, there was no such thing as an average fighter pilot. You were either an ace or a target. For instance, Japanese Ace Hiroyoshi Nishizawa shot down over 80 planes. He died while a passenger on a cargo plane.

    6. It was a common practice on fighter planes to load every 5th round with a tracer round to aid in aiming. This was a mistake. Tracers had different ballistics so (at long range) if your tracers were hitting the target 80% of your rounds were missing. Worse yet tracers instantly told your enemy he was under fire and from which direction. Worst of all was the practice of loading a string of tracers at the end of the belt to tell you that you were out of ammo. This was definitely not something you wanted to tell the enemy. Units that stopped using tracers saw their success rate nearly double and their loss rate go down.

    7. When allied armies reached the Rhine, the first thing men did was pee in it. This was pretty universal from the lowest private to Winston Churchill (who made a big show of it) and Gen. Patton (who had himself photographed in the act).

    8. German Me-264 bombers were capable of bombing New York City, but it wasn't worth the effort.

    9. German submarine U-120 was sunk by a malfunctioning toilet.

    10. Among the first "Germans" captured at Normandy were several Koreans. They had been forced to fight for the Japanese Army until they were captured by the Russians and forced to fight for the Russian Army until they were captured by the Germans and forced to fight for the German Army until they were captured by the US Army.

    11. Following a massive naval bombardment, 35,000 United States and Canadian troops stormed ashore at Kiska, in the Aleutian Islands. 21 troops were killed in the firefight. It would have been worse if there had been any Japanese on the island.

  55. Yeah Buddy but that was after Stonewall was dead. Had he lived, gettysburg would have most likely been a Southern Victory and England would have joined the "Cause" forcing a Yankee capitulation.

  56. The South needed one more Jackson and one more Forrest.

  57. But the most unusual thing was that a corporal in WWI rose to conquer Europa.

    Also that Zyklon-B is not allowed as a persoanlized tag in Florida

  58. I'm speechless over that last one--

    Yes, Stonewall at Gettysburg--what a pleasant thought, post-Nov 07 ought-six.

  59. Buddy,
    have ye abandon the avatar? Surly there is one to accomodate your taste.

    too Good

  60. Butch & Sundance

    There's a film there in that story, I'm sure of it.

    If we could just find the right actors

  61. Buddy slightly OT, whatever that is, Give me five good stocks for writing covered calls. In your opinion of course.

  62. If you're writing covered calls what stocks do you own to begin with?

  63. How far out do you want to go?
    what strike price?

  64. with a weak dollar, the safest stuff will be USA manufacturers with lots of overseas sales. Get good stocks, you'll likely get your calls exercised--you'll make some $, but be out of inventory--and have to buy back in higher to keep playing. Writing calls is a dicey play, if you want to hold onto the stocks. If you want to make a quick play, tho, you have to hurry, as we are in a Dec rally, which will pull back likely, leaving you with an opportunity to buy your calls back and pocket the diff. Companies? I'd go with biggies which have very liquid options mkts. CAT, BA, off top of head. I myself don't try to play options--the time compression stacks the odds on the side of the algorithm, or "black box" players.

  65. Avatars, how bout this one, habu on the electric piano, accompanying a young Frank Sinatra doing rockabilly hit "Me and Mrs. Mannlicher/Carcano"

  66. HAL is GREAT in here, on the Dollar, on Dem fears unlikely to pan out, and most of all on energy, consumption rising so much faster than alt fuels.

  67. Turner Ashby --thanks, Buzz--I knew the name but not the details--you're right--it's a story--