“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

The Shipwreck

The Good Ship "Democracy Endeavor" Under Attack,
Wrecked on Historic Voyage

Captains Battle Hostiles and Elements
as Ship Runs Aground in Persian Gulf

The flagship of the Coalition, “The Democracy Endeavor,” has run aground in the treacherous Persian Gulf shoals of Iraqi violence. Captains Bush and Blair are racing against time in a desperate attempt to assess the damage and search for a way off the shoals while fending off unrelenting Islamic savages, political pygmies and packs of rabid press dogs. To compound their consternation, much of their precious “freedom and democracy” cargo has been looted and is being buried in Middle Eastern sands. If they are unable to free the ship all their efforts to date will have come to naught.

Since September 11, 2001, George Bush and Tony Blair have led a coalition of the willing on a voyage to find and defeat terror and to deliver freedom and democracy into far flung corners of the world. Against all odds and the sustained efforts of an uncooperative Press and the formerly humanitarian left, the two men have navigated through uncharted waters in their quest to affect a Herculean paradigm shift in the Islamic world. Through the course of their historic voyage, the two men have endured many dangers while enjoying only a few moments of celebration. Their coalition armies routed the enemy and deposed the oppressive tyrant, Saddam Hussein. They rid the world of his psychopathic sons, Uday and Qusay and have endured the asymmetrical attacks of his Baathist minions. They have contended with the al-Qaeda jihadists. They have suffered the deceit of Sunni and Shia alike as American blood and treasure was spilled on the god-forsaken sands of Babylonia. They have endured the Gramscian torture calumnies dispensed by the world’s “humanitarians.” They have patiently explained that theirs is not a crusade against Islam. The Commander-in-Chief was mocked and ridiculed at home and abroad for his “mission accomplished” thank you to the sailors returning home aboard the USS Abraham Lincoln. They have been abandoned on the battlefield by “cut and run,” opportunistic political opponents. They have been poorly served and undermined by their Intelligence agencies and the Department of State. And although they have made mistakes and miscalculations along the way, Bush and Blair have remained steadfast in their mission.

Although the situation is grim and future prospects bleak, the two men insist that "all is not lost" and the final chapters of the saga have not been written. Perhaps eventually, by the most roundabout series of events, the vision of the two leaders will be vindicated, but for now, the political winds have shifted, the peace effort has foundered, the sharks are circling and a storm is gathering on the horizon.


  1. Whit said, "Since September 11, 2001, George Bush and Tony Blair have led a coalition of the willing on a voyage to find and defeat terror"

    There was no terrorism in Iraq until Bush invaded, which provided an opportunity for terror tactics to be employed in asymmetrical warfare.

    "...and to deliver freedom and democracy into far flung corners of the world..."

    You don't deliver freedom and democracy like Pizza and Buffalo wings. People rise up and carve it out for themselves, if they truly want it and are ready for it. You can't bomb people into the Enlightenment.

  2. Generals Abizaid and Casey are both about to step down, according to FOX News.
    Mr Bush gets to chart a new way forward, but there are limited opttions available to him. New Generals for a new direction, so who gets the nod is all important.

    When is the State of the Union scheduled for, any one know?

  3. “Iraqi soldiers bit the heads off frogs and ate the heart of a rabbit as signs of courage on Wednesday at a ceremony…”

    “Politicians, tribal and religious leaders and soldiers watched displays of military prowess and one demonstration, hailed as a display of courage, in which five soldiers stopped before the grandstand to bite the heads off frogs.

    A sixth holding a live rabbit slit open its stomach and ate its heart before tossing the carcass to his comrades to chew on.”

    East is East and West is West

    Trish, would you know if any pre-war planning went into this?

  4. Kamal is out with twenty men to raise the Border side,
    And he has lifted the Colonel’s mare that is the Colonel’s pride:
    He has lifted her out of the stable-door between the dawn and the day,
    And turned the calkins upon her feet, and ridden her far away.
    Then up and spoke the Colonel’s son that led a troop of the Guides:
    “Is there never a man of all my men can say where Kamal hides?”
    Then up and spoke Mahommed Khan, the son of the Ressaldar,
    “If ye know the track of the morning-mist, ye know where his pickets are.
    At dusk he harries the Abazai—at dawn he is into Bonair,
    But he must go by Fort Bukloh to his own place to fare,
    So if ye gallop to Fort Bukloh as fast as a bird can fly,
    By the favor of God ye may cut him off ere he win to the Tongue of Jagai,
    But if he be passed the Tongue of Jagai, right swiftly turn ye then,
    For the length and the breadth of that grisly plain is sown with Kamal’s men.
    There is rock to the left, and rock to the right, and low lean thorn between,
    And ye may hear a breech-bolt snick where never a man is seen.” 20
    The Colonel’s son has taken a horse, and a raw rough dun was he,
    With the mouth of a bell and the heart of Hell, and the head of the gallows-tree.
    The Colonel’s son to the Fort has won, they bid him stay to eat—
    Who rides at the tail of a Border thief, he sits not long at his meat.
    He ’s up and away from Fort Bukloh as fast as he can fly, 25
    Till he was aware of his father’s mare in the gut of the Tongue of Jagai,
    Till he was aware of his father’s mare with Kamal upon her back,
    And when he could spy the white of her eye, he made the pistol crack.
    He has fired once, he has fired twice, but the whistling ball went wide.
    “Ye shoot like a soldier,” Kamal said. “Show now if ye can ride.”

  5. DR,

    Indeed, but are such men to be found in the land of the rivers?

  6. DR,

    It my be pride of place, but great warriors are highlanders.

  7. Trish,

    The English have St. George and the Dragon. So, the Iraqis have what, the Paladin and the frogs? Omar and the rabbit?

    Am I to truly believe these folk are tormented by honor and humiliation? Just say’n.

    Really, truly, honestly, I do try to get into the spirit of cultural appreciation, but…

  8. Whit always gets such a pleasant discourse, and I get riot and mayhem.

  9. In the spirit of the season, the perfect gift for that Muslim on your hit, (sorry about that) shopping list.



  10. O/T

    There's a blog out there that poses this type of challenging question.
    I feel sooooo dumb.
    Ponder This Challenge:
    Puzzle for December 2006.

    Consider a random permutation, P, on n elements. P can be decomposed into cycles. Let x be a fraction between .5 and 1. Let f(x,n) be the probability that all the cycles of P have size less than x*n. This month's problem is to find the asymptotic behavior of f(x,n) for fixed x as n --> infinity.

  11. It is very hard for me to appreciate a culture that wants me dead..I guess I'm just old school

  12. Rufus, why do I not care who wins when it comes to the shiites against the sunnis?

  13. I can't resists - though I think I've posted this before:

    a visualization based upon frequency of words in state of the union addresses over time

    Every state of the union address in our nations history

    Just click on it and youll see what I mean, its pretty neat IMO.

  14. I did not get Westhawk's reasoning. I do not have a team in that fight.

  15. ppab, didn't recognize you without the hat.

  16. Theodore Roosevelts 1901, for instance:

    1. Corporations
    2. Anarchists
    3. Navy

    Anyone remember in Ulysses - the Proteus chapter I think that mentions "ineluctable modalities?"

    I can't help but think these tag clouds are interesting visualizations of those very things, in the life of a nation.

  17. Theodore Rex 1902:

    1. Corporations
    2. War
    3. Navy

    You know, couldn't some fancy-pants have posited that in TR's time, the nation state was giving way to the "market state?"

  18. 2164th,

    Came to wonder if the hat was either not amusing others as it was me or was just plain irritating to those here who lived through Carter.

    C'mon, A Christmas Carter!

    Like in the Mr. Show sketch with the Hitler clones

  19. Why would Andrew Jackson be talking about "France" and the "french" so often in his SOU?

  20. Last OT sry:

    On entering upon the duties of my station I found the United States an unsuccessful applicant to the justice of France for the satisfaction of claims the validity of which was never questionable, and has now been most solemnly admitted by France herself. The antiquity of these claims, their high justice, and the aggravating circumstances out of which they arose are too familiar to the American people to require description. It is sufficient to say that for a period of 10 years and upward our commerce was, with but little interruption, the subject of constant aggression on the part of France -- aggressions the ordinary features of which were condemnations of vessels and cargoes under arbitrary decrees, adopted in contravention as well of the laws of nations as of treaty stipulations, burnings on the high seas, and seizures and confiscations under special imperial rescripts in the ports of other nations occupied by the armies or under the control of France. Such it is now conceded is the character of the wrongs we suffered -- wrongs in many cases so flagrant that even their authors never denied our right to reparation. Of the extent of these injuries some conception may be formed from the fact that after the burning of a large amount at sea and the necessary deterioration in other cases by long detention the American property so seized and sacrificed at forced sales, excluding what was adjudged to privateers before or without condemnation, brought into the French treasury upward of 24,000,000 francs, besides large custom house duties.

    Is he alluding to the Maghreb and the Pirates?

  21. WC is right. People need to have some basic values before they can have democracy.

    Problem is, what is it? The Japs managed to get it in the end. Ditto for the Koreans and Taiwanese.

    What is that one(or perhaps many) necessary condition/s required before democracy can work? And is it possible to impose those values before implementing democracy? If it is possible, then how much has the US messed up in Iraq, and should those values be imposed at gunpoint in the 1st place?


  22. This is the conclusion of a lengthy comment posted on the previous thread. It is, no doubt, the single most important element within that post.

    “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!”

  23. "I think he was just saying it's time to get the fuck out of the way and let the Shia slaughter the Bastards."

    trish says...

    Yugoslavia's not the dream scenario, rufus. It's been the waking nightmare all along.

    Additionally, this is assuming that the Shia will not get their clock cleaned. They're a local majority. They're a regional (and global) minority.

  24. I guess that's why the plan calls for us to stand look-out while we pretend to be "guarding the borders."



    The Keane/Kagan plan, for instance, puts virtually nothing on the Syrian border.


    Looking forward to sloughing back, though. Whenever the ever-belated retirement rolls around.

  25. trish says...

    Twas I.

  26. Whit said, "There were terrorists in Iraq and in the broader war, Saddam represented a hostile nation state circumventing sanctions and very likely to provide al-Qaeda with WMD. You know all that."

    You know that Saddam was a secular dictator who only added "Allahu Akbar" to his nation's flag in the run-up to Gulf One, and that he had nothing to do with a Jihad against the west. No al-Qaeda training camps. WMDs destroyed per UN resolutions. Sure he was a murderous jerk, but so is Kim Il Jong and Castro and Chavez and Putin and a whole host of other dictators around the world, why pick on this one? He didn't agree with the concept of "no fly zones" over his country, but if some enemy put no fly zones over the USA I'd support knocking down the MiGs trying to enforce it...and this wouldn't even make me evil. To sum it up, Afghanistan good idea, Iraq bad idea.

  27. rufus,

    The holy trinity of Iraqi policy:


  28. Hey, Rufus,
    Do you read other's comments here?
    'Rat posted that link 4 days ago, I reposted it here and at BC 3 days ago.
    His idea is based on the opposite notion of yours ("we're winning, let's keep doing what we're doing") and is designed to get our ass out of Bush's quagmire in some way other than defeat.

  29. “Letters From Iwo Jima,”

    Tom Stern’s cinematography is as frank and solemn as a Mathew Brady photograph.

    A few scenes serve as hinges joining this movie to “Flags of Our Fathers.” While “Letters From Iwo Jima” seems to me the more accomplished of the two films — by which I mean that it strikes me as close to perfect — the two enrich each other, and together achieve an extraordinary completeness. They show how the experience of war is both a shared and a divisive experience, separating the dead from the living and the winners from the losers, even as it binds them all together.

    Both films travel back and forth in time and space between Iwo Jima and the homelands of the combatants. In “Flags of Our Fathers” the battle itself happens mainly in flashback, since the movie is in large measure about the guilt and confusion that survivors encountered upon their reluctant return home. In “Letters From Iwo Jima” the battle is in the present tense, and it is home that flickers occasionally in the memories of men who are certain they will not live to see it again.

    “Letters From Iwo Jima” is rated R (Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian). It includes extremely graphic combat violence.

    Opens today in New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco.

    Directed by Clint Eastwood; written (in Japanese, with English subtitles) by Iris Yamashita, based on a story by Ms. Yamashita and Paul Haggis;

  30. Question for Trish, and whoever else brought it up:
    Exactly how are the Sunnis going to kick the Shia's ass?

  31. You might say we did the post war deal about as badly as anyone with a brain could conceive.

  32. Well, shit, Doug, how have they managed to kick ours?

  33. Well, shit, Anonymous, they kicked ours by saying they did and by you believing them!

  34. Apparently, anonymous @ 11:10, the President got the memo.

  35. Now what cryptic thing is that supposed to mean? The memo? You're not about to bring up Downing Street are you?

  36. Ahhhh, no.

    The memo stating that we are not winning.

    Sorry if I was not clear.

  37. What's on the other side of the winning line? Your memo mention that?

    Or is it "widely" known already?

  38. What is on the other side of the winning line?

    Medals and naptime for everyone.

  39. We've already made considerable progress in the medals department.

  40. Rufus,

    Re: Iraqi Army can fight off any insurgent attack

    In a piece he wrote last year (or maybe the year before) Kagen had a really good, concise line: The insurgents are now fighting a "pure" terror war.

    Two can play at that game, yesiree, but there is not a guaranteed winner.

  41. trish says...

    Again, that was me, rufus.

    Daughters computer.

  42. And you are counting on them winning in an all-is-fair game.

    I think it does not go without saying that they will. It seems to me a dangerous, or poor, longer-term, out-of-hand assumption. Thats all.

  43. No, the two plans are not at all the same.

  44. Stalingrad on the Tigris?

    The paper urges a "surge" of many thousands more US troops into Baghdad beginning in March, 2007 for one more grand roll of the iron dice. The concept seems to be based on the notion that Shia militias exist because of Sunni violence against them rather than as expressions of a Shia drive to political dominance in Iraq. Based on that belief the authors seem to believe that if the additional US and Iraqi forces to be employed in the Capital area defeat (destroy?) the Sunni insurgent groups, then the Shia militia armies will "wither away" from a lack of need. I do not think that belief is justified.

    [...] One of the "implied" tasks to be accomplished by the "surged" force would be to disarm the Mahdi's Army and the other Shia militias. The authors seem unclear as to whether or not the militias will fight to avoid being disarmed. In my judgment it will be impossible to conduct an enlarged anti-insurgent campaign in Baghdad without engaging the Mahdi militia. They think that they "own" the place and will not be quiescent.

    [...] This concept is a recipe for a grand and climactic battle of attrition between US and Iraqi forces on one side and the some combination of Sunni and Shia forces on the other. The Sunnis and Shia would not necessarily "ally" themselves to each other, but a general co-belligerence against our people would be bad enough.

    President Bush may well accept the essence of this concept. He wants to redeem his "freedom agenda," restore momentum to his plans and in his mind this might "clear up" Iraq so that he could move on to Iran.

    The carnage implicit in this concept would be appalling. The authors have much to say about the consequences of defeat in Iraq, but, I wonder if they have contemplated what it would be like to fail in their climactic battle and still be required by '43 to stay in Iraq.

    Totally different.

  45. Yes, rufus.

    It sounds like a dream script for another war junkie Hollywood blockbuster movie - explosions, gunfire, bombing and strafing runs.

    It also sounds like a very bad plan.

  46. It is a built-in assumption of the Kagan plan: Take care of Anbar and Iraq takes care of itself. But Anbar will never be enough, just like Baghdad will never be enough. You can do it as a prelude to leaving, not to staying.

  47. Confronting the Wahhabis

    But King Abdullah and the overwhelming Saudi majority, who want to live in a normal country, are opposed by the Wahhabi-line faction in the royal family. The pro-Wahhabi clique is led by three individuals: Prince Sultan Ibn Abd al-Aziz, minister of defense; Prince Bandar, predecessor of Turki as ambassador to Washington; and Sultan's brother, Prince Nayef. Nayef is notorious for having been the first prominent figure in the Muslim world to try to blame the atrocities of September 11, 2001 on Israel. He is deeply feared both inside and outside Saudi Arabia for his extremism.

    Saudi sources indicate that King Abdullah is assembling his forces for a decisive confrontation with the reactionaries. Part of the Wahhabi-line strategy is to depict a U.S. leadership in conflict with King Abdullah, to undermine the monarch's credibility. That is why different versions of a meeting between U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney and King Abdullah, late last month, circulate in the MSM and the blogosphere.

    According to credible reports, Cheney urged Abdullah to stiffen action against Saudi-Wahhabi involvement in the Iraqi bloodletting. According to unreliable gadflies, King Abdullah commanded Cheney's presence, to demand that the U.S. immediately attack Iran. But the claim that King Abdullah summoned and berated Cheney does not ring true. King Abdullah is too polite, and Cheney does not take such orders, according to those who know both men.

    Many leading clerics and intellectuals among Sunni Muslims indicate that King Abdullah has effectively told the Wahhabis that they will no longer receive official subsidies, and must end their violent jihad around the world. The greatest impact of this development may be seen in Iraq, but Wahhabis everywhere have begun to worry about their future.

    In a totalitarian system like Wahhabism, the weakest links snap first. And the beginning of the end for them may now be visible in the Muslim Balkans...

  48. The Seattle paper had instructions on the front page in SIX languages explaining to people that more of them would die if they continued running generators and using bbq's indoors while the electricity is out.

  49. Doug said, "The Seattle paper had instructions on the front page in SIX languages explaining to people that more of them would die if they continued running generators and using bbq's indoors while the electricity is out."

    There are 1000 victims of CO poisoning in the aftermath of this storm, and dozens have died. If that page saved one life, it was worth doing.

  50. The diversity and illiteracy of the US is mindboggling.

    So ever more the importance of integrating the disparate parts into the whole. Through language and shared mythical history.
    In the US, English is the language and the Founders and their vision are the basis of the historical myth.
    As both are discounted the Republic suffers.

  51. Whit,

    Unfortunately, when we do get a politico who'se glib and literate, with a commanding presence, the press calls him a war-monger, cowboy, movie-actor. (see RWR)

  52. geoffgo said, "Unfortunately, when we do get a politico who'se glib and literate, with a commanding presence, the press calls him a war-monger, cowboy, movie-actor. (see RWR)"

    And those designations, anathema to libs, were worn as a badge of honor by the irreplacable Gipper.

  53. Desert rat wrote, "In the US, English is the language and the Founders and their vision are the basis of the historical myth."

    The British Empire ruled 1/4 of the world by the summer of 1914, and the global adoption of the essentially American internet has ensured that English has become the de facto lingua franca ::grin::. Even in France, the language of commerce is English, to the dismay of the likes of Chirac. But during this crossover period, there might be people whose lives are in danger because they cannot communicate in English. Let things take their course as the world adopts English universally, but don't forget grandma and grandpa, brought over here from the Old Country to spend their golden years with their immigrant kids and unable to speak in anything but their native tongue.