COLLECTIVE MADNESS


“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 22, 2006

Talk about Iran being helpful in Iraq? Not so, says The Telegraph.


War on two fronts in Afghanistan

By Con Coughlin, The Telegraph
Last Updated: 12:01am GMT 22/12/2006


Just when it seemed matters could not get any worse in Afghanistan, along comes an altogether more alarming threat to Nato's attempts to restore order to that strife-torn region — in the form of Iran's Revolutionary Guards.

Ever since the US-led coalition overthrew the Taliban and their al-Qa'eda allies in late 2001, it has been assumed that the biggest threat to the successful restoration of Afghanistan as a functioning state was posed by the surviving remnants of the former regime and their sponsors in Pakistan.

Indeed, the main thrust of last summer's Nato offensive was concentrated along the Pakistani border, where a hard core of about 1,000 Taliban fighters have been attempting to re-establish a power base that could be used for an attempt to seize Kabul.


The British Army — which is in the vanguard of Nato's efforts to control the south — fought the fiercest engagements it has encountered since the Second World War in its campaign to subjugate the Taliban, and has been, in the main, successful in defeating a determined enemy.

The entire Nato effort in Afghanistan, moreover, has been predicated on the assumption that the key to success lies in suppressing the Taliban resurgence in the south, and persuading the Pakistanis to take effective action to dismantle the Taliban's training infrastructure in its lawless North-West Frontier provinces.

At no point have Nato's planners paid any serious attention to the other country whose border stretches for hundreds of miles along Afghanistan's western border, even though Iran's visceral hostility to the presence of a massive Western force so close to home is hardly a secret. This is despite the fact that the Iranians have actively supported, equipped and trained the insurgent groups that have caused coalition forces so much discomfort in southern Iraq.

But whenever I have raised the issue of Iranian involvement in Afghanistan on my visits to Nato headquarters over the past year, I have invariably been greeted with either blank stares or an eagerness on the part of senior commanders to move quickly to another, more amenable topic of conversation.

That state of affairs is unlikely to persist following the appearance in court earlier this week of a top British military aide on spying charges. Cpl Daniel James, who acted as the official translator for Lt-Gen David Richards, the British commander of Nato forces in Afghanistan, has been charged with "prejudicing the safety of the state" by passing information "calculated to be directly or indirectly useful to the enemy" to a foreign power, whose identity sources have suggested is Iran.

Irrespective of the outcome of the James case, the mere suggestion that Iran should be seeking to recruit someone with access to the innermost counsels of Nato's high command is indicative both of Teheran's intense interest in Nato's activities in Afghanistan, and its determination to ensure that the West is not allowed to succeed in transforming the country from Islamic dictatorship into stable democracy.

It also makes a mockery of the recent suggestion, advanced in both Washington and London, that the only way to resolve the region's difficulties is by engaging in a constructive dialogue with Teheran. Whether it be in Iraq or Afghanistan, the over-riding priority of the regime of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad is to ensure the coalition's efforts at nation-building end in failure.

As in Iraq, the history of Iran's involvement in Afghanistan has been complex, but rarely benign. During the Soviet occupation of the 1980s, the Iranians supported one of the fiercest Mujahideen groups. More recently, the Iranians helped hundreds of al-Qa'eda fighters to escape from Afghanistan following the coalition's military campaign to remove the Taliban from power in 2001. Recent intelligence reports have indicated that many senior al-Qa'eda leaders — including two of Osama bin Laden's sons — are still living in Teheran under the protection of the Revolutionary Guards, where they are being groomed for a possible takeover of the al-Qa'eda leadership.

Nor is Iran's involvement in the region confined to Afghanistan. The Iranians also have close links with Pakistan, where they have been identified as one of the countries that bought blueprints for making nuclear weapons from A. Q. Khan, the so-called "father" of Pakistan's nuclear bomb.

Given the extent of Iran's interests in the region, it might appear strange that Nato commanders have appeared reluctant even to discuss the possibility that the Iranians might have their own agenda in upsetting coalition attempts to establish an effective government, particularly when commanders in Iraq have been frank in blaming the Iranians for helping to orchestrate the roadside bombs that have killed and maimed so many soldiers.

The reason for this apparent reticence on the part of Nato commanders is that, given the limited resources at their disposal, they have a big enough challenge dealing with the threat posed by the Taliban in southern Afghanistan, without running the risk of extending their field of operations elsewhere. But all that might soon change if, as some intelligence reports suggest, concrete evidence emerges that Iran is actively supporting and providing equipment to Taliban-related groups fighting Nato forces in Afghanistan.

"The Iranians are playing a very clever game in Afghanistan," a Western intelligence official based in Kabul recently told me. "On the surface, they give the impression they have no interest in what is going on, but behind the scenes they are working hard to influence groups such as the Taliban who are causing Nato the most problems."

Which would explain why the heavily fortified Iranian embassy in central Kabul, which is located less than a mile from the British mission, is second in size only to that of the sprawling American embassy.

If, as now seems likely, the Iranians are to become serious players in the new Great Game taking place in Afghanistan, then it is essential that Nato be given sufficient numbers of combat troops to ensure that the hazardous mission it has been asked to undertake ultimately ends in victory.


Comment on this story at The Telegraph

34 comments:

  1. "Indeed, the main thrust of last summer's Nato offensive was concentrated along the Pakistani border, where a hard core of about 1,000 Taliban fighters have been attempting to re-establish a power base that could be used for an attempt to seize Kabul."

    You mean the Jihadists are actually coming out of the schools and mosques and hospitals and are going to meet our forces mano y mano on the road to Kabul? Did we win the lottery or something?

    ReplyDelete
  2. "But whenever I have raised the issue of Iranian involvement in Afghanistan on my visits to Nato headquarters over the past year, I have invariably been greeted with either blank stares or an eagerness on the part of senior commanders to move quickly to another, more amenable topic of conversation."

    When I read statements like that, I'm left wondering if the writer is seeing more of a "reaction" to his question than an objective observer would report...

    On the other hand, if he is spot-on accurate, what to make of it???

    I have no doubt that we could, if we decided to do so, bring more than enough force to bear on this problem to strangle it in its bed. Yet we consistently blanche at the very idea of confronting this obvious festering boil.

    Does Mahmood have some little helpers that have managed to sneak a containered nuke into the US or the UK?

    The apparent refusal to address this issue is maddening...

    ReplyDelete
  3. Triton said, "Yet we consistently blanche at the very idea of confronting this obvious festering boil. Does Mahmood have some little helpers that have managed to sneak a containered nuke into the US or the UK?"

    The Jihadists have had a good run, shooting at us from inside mosques, setting up command and control bunkers inside schools, setting off 155mm shells by remote control, retreating after an attack wearing women's clothing, getting most of the media to carry water for them and paint us as oppressors, but if they light off a nuke in a port on the eastern seaboard it will be 9-11 to the sixteenth power. The President will suspend the Constitution and become a military dictator, and there will be no significant dissent in Congress. There will immediately be a draft, rationing, strict controls on the media, the internet, and the entire industrial base of the US will go on a war footing. We will expect and get 100% cooperation with Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Syria, Sudan, and any other country we need to search or launch operations from. Iran will go up in a radioactive cloud, and there will be a new American doctrine that says a free nation threatened by a regime shall be more frightening to the population ruled by that regime than the regime's own dictator.

    ReplyDelete
  4. T,

    If you read the RAND study on a nuke going off, the most striking thing is not that martials means would need to be employed to secure the blast zone.

    While important, the "industrial base" will (hypothetically) dictate policy and define your notions of security for you - not the President. They will seek to be as 100% engaged in their self-interest as before - whether that sinks up with national security or not. You'd best hope the barons of industry aren't as compassionate as the President.

    ReplyDelete
  5. That would be the only thing that could bring Habu's dream to fruition. T's got it absolutely right. If the President didn't Nuke the Hell out of "Somebody" the American People would "Nuke" Washington.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Rufus,
    Sorry to disagree but that is not the only scenario that would lead to an obliterated Iran and a united opinion in this country.
    If they nuked Australia, Sydney Harbor, New Zealand,England. Those attacks would launch an attack on mutible ME countries.
    We have now reconfigured some of our boomers into non nuclear bearing subs, however they retain the polaris and mirv'ed capabilities, just using metal shafts, in the thousands to obliterate targets.
    It won't take an attack on just this country although that would be THE most galvinizing and last mistake they would ever make.
    Mosques in this country would be burned to the ground overnight and literally thousands of Muslims in this country murdered.
    Americans love to win and we haven't in quite a while, at least not in an overwhelming way, so the fuse is short and many are already locked and loaded. And in your heart you know I'm dead on accurate.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Observada into a wee bit of yellow journalism stating that the CIA was preparing for defeat.
    They ran a simulation of the effects of a US loss. That's part of their job, but it was far from a preparation for defeat.

    I can't figure out if the blogshere is anti-war, anti-Bush which forces them into an anti-war position but they are for the most part doing a masterful reenactment of Walter Cronkite post Tet. Just throw in a few Crosby Stills Nash and Young anti-war tunes and they're there.
    We can't do this, we can't do that, the president is an idiot, the situation is hopeless,we need to pull out, we need to talk to Iran,blah,blah..
    Yeah the blogsphere will tout it's, "oh we're just acknowledging the facts on the ground", same line Jane Fonda, the SDS, and other "pro-American" 60's "moderates" used.
    "yeah anyone supporting this war is blind,deaf,dumb,uninformed,a fanatic,warmonger....yeah there's a good deal of leftist propaganda on the sphere now. And it's crap, just like the MSM was in Vietnam.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Habu, I was in Vietnam exactly 3/4 of ONE DAY when I realized I was fucked. When that old man told me it "Wasn't His War," that it was "Johnson's War," I knew momma Rufus's idiot son had done fucked up again.

    It only took a couple of more days for my deepest fears to be confirmed; the PEOPLE didnt give a shit who won. They despised the Government, and, although, they thought the VC were assholes, they couldn't possibly be any worse assholes than the government.

    I think the American people are starting to fear the Iraqis aren't much better than the Vietnamese Government. Maliki, and Al Sadr don't exactly make you want to get your gun and get in the fight.

    ReplyDelete
  9. The saving grace of Iraq is that, in Allen's words, it is arguably the most "Strategic" Real Estate in the World.

    Also, it does appear that the shitty-assed government does have a reasonable chance to win.

    But, it sure doesn't make you want to stay any longer than necessary.

    ReplyDelete
  10. You guys really think a nuke going off would rally people?

    It didn't rally Japan. Whats the difference between the two?

    ReplyDelete
  11. Pab, are you aware that the first "firebombing" of Tokyo killed 84,000 People?

    We had already destroyed several of the major cities before we dropped the Nukes. The Japanese were plumb wore out, son.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Rufus,

    Its a good point - I'm playing devils advocate here, but how do we know American wouldn't "cope" with it how it coped with the horrors of 9/11?

    And I just think the "people power" mechanism to the pressing of the shiny red launch button is ill-conceived. That RAND report lays out a number of competing interests. People power would be jockeying with the interests of Ports that'd want to keep ferrying in cargo. Interests of the Globe versus the nation.

    Even if Habu's contingency materializes, they'll be chasing subversives left and right until, as in Apocalytpo, they wind up at the shoreline and see what powers are seeking to dominate the hopeless.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Rat's already to goto the Forest for his new beginning. Talk of survivalism and retreats is chic amongst those who understand the dilemmas. New kind of Nation on the horizon given all that.

    ReplyDelete
  14. My thought would be that within hours the Feds would announce that through scientific analysis of the residue it had been determined that the explosive came from Iran (even if they thought it might have come from "somewhere" else,") and that various nuclear and "Military" targets were being "Struck" at the time.

    Some of these "Military" Targets would, almost certainly, be "close" to downtown Tehran.

    I think the people would expect such a response, and be ready to mutiny of it wasn't immediately forthcoming. I'm including the Democratic Congresspeople.

    ReplyDelete
  15. ppab,

    Rufus is right,THE GREAT ONE, Gen Curtis Lemay firebombed the Japanese and killed far more on those raids than did the Little Boy and Fatman.

    As far as rallying the population if we got nuked. G-d knows in this solopsistic country if anything would move the entire population such as Pearl Harbor did.
    One thing I'm fairly certain about is that getting nuked is not a good thing. Next to that not responding to getting nuked is not a good thing.
    All in all nuking is not a good thing but it does seem like folks who are a might less friendly to us than we'd like are hell bent on gett'n nukes and us'n 'em. If not on us the Israel. Once Israel is a mushroom cloud would we respond..hmm..I imagine some would say why, they're gone now, let's make nice nice.
    But those darned ole Islamians seem to be on their every-thousand-year-lets-take-over mode.
    I know in the Christmas spirit I've asked Santa for a copy of the Koran so I can pooh-pooh on it in the privacy of my own yard. I will then take it over to Ole MacDonalds Farm and throw it in the pig pen.
    I think I will take pictures. It will be a Kodak movement.

    ReplyDelete
  16. Rufus,
    I'm sorry your Vietnam experience wasn't a good one.
    Mine was so unusual as to be almost carnival like compared to what real grunts endured. Plus I didn't really care whose war it was I just wanted to cap some gooks as a side dish to intel. So I had it pretty good. Don't get me wrong there were enough times when you couldn't have driven a needle up my ass with a sledge hammer and I did get the shakes after some of those close calls but I'm ashamed to say I never had the true grunt experience.I have nothing but the highest admiration for those who did and I knew a ton of 'em. God Bless you.

    ReplyDelete
  17. Habu and Rufus,

    Re: solipsism

    I just wonder if there is enough of a "state" that will understand the nuclear calculations you both point out. If its a distant city that you've never been to, who cares?

    Rat's ominous points about nukes being used in Baghdad, AU, Italy etc make one wonder what exactly we'd do? How do we know those aren't freebies for Fred Ikle's dark-nets? How many interests would oppose nuking the energy supply in revenge for nuking decrepit european economies or some god-forsaken developing country?

    ReplyDelete
  18. Rufus,
    But here we are , older guys, think'n back to '89 and the Wall com'in down and things were looking like we could exhale and enjoy life without MAD. I mean when we were in high scholl we started learning all about Vietnam. We learned the names of places there, just like our forefathers learned Korean and Europe.
    I thought well that the Lord I won't need any more geography lesson and then comes Desert Storm, and later Baghdad or Bust!
    I guess every generation gets it's time in the barrel, after all freedom will rust up on ya if'in ya don't keep it polished and shiny.

    ReplyDelete
  19. Oh, I didn't mean it that way. I just meant that it didn't take long to figure out that all that shit we thought we knew before we got there, wasn't the way it was. Hell, we all figured it out pretty fast.

    But, shit; we were 19 years old, and made out of kryptonite. Until the SECOND WEEK, anyway.

    ReplyDelete
  20. You know, Habu, I Never did buy into that "Wall coming Down," "End of History," story.

    I didn't know nearly as much as I thought I knew, but I, always figured that they were a dangerous mess, and, also, I couldn't get out of my mind that they were the Best Chess Players in the World.

    ReplyDelete
  21. ppab,
    Great questions to which I have no answers, just my own tit for tat attitude. How hoi polloi will react, got me.
    If it's a busy news week with Brittany flash'n muff or a home video of her and Paris do'in the pool boy a good segment of our population probably won't even hear about it. And G-d knows who wants to miss an episode of Jerry Springer or Mr. Connie Chung?
    The coke and crack crowd won't know, theblunts might but, like wow who cares, just pump up da jam and radar out some coochie. USA all the way..land of the freaks, home of the depraved.

    ReplyDelete
  22. Ruf,
    i agree about the Wall. I just thought we'd get a breather but I use to tell my friends(when I had some) that all those KGB,Stasi, eyc types weren't going to night computer school to learn COBOL for the big 2000 world computer crash.

    Now like Jack Nicholson, "I'mmm Bacck", and yep they are. Old wine in new bottles...and now they're starting to use the old bottles too.

    ReplyDelete
  23. Come to think of it; I've Always been Wrong about the Russians. I was too skeptical about the "break-up," then I was too "Optimistic" about the chances for Democracy, there. Maybe, I should quit "Opining" on the Russkies.

    ReplyDelete
  24. I know one thing; I hope they never quit adding onto that Missile Defense. And, I'd like to see some more B-2's, and F-22's.

    ReplyDelete
  25. Rufus said, "I didn't know nearly as much as I thought I knew, but I, always figured that they were a dangerous mess, and, also, I couldn't get out of my mind that they were the Best Chess Players in the World."

    Well chess is okay for nice little set-piece battles like they used to have in Europe, but in today's world you need to know how to play Texas Hold'em.

    ReplyDelete
  26. WC,

    We largely agree, but what I'm referring to is this present situation we face, in which a nuke hasn't been used against us, but our leadership seems to behave as though one's hidden out there, with a jihadi kingpin that our guys don't want to piss off holding the plunger.

    Me, I think I'd call their bluff if this was the case... if they DID have a nuke stateside, it'd be one hell of a call, but I'd rather get past that point in the struggle, when it was still possible for us to rise up and crush the enemy in response, as opposed to sitting, blackmailed, while the jihadis gradually dhimmi'ed the entire planet.

    Triton

    ReplyDelete
  27. ppab said, "You guys really think a nuke going off would rally people? It didn't rally Japan. Whats the difference between the two?"

    Japan is a top-down authoritarian country where every person has a niche, while America is a bottom-up individualistic country where even a computer geek can become the richest person in history.

    ReplyDelete
  28. Tater, I thank you for your support. Maybe I'll sleep on it. Maybe, right now. Bein Nap-Time, and all.

    I normally break those no-opinin pledges pretty handily, anyway. They don't usually last long past the first beer, or the second toke, whichever comes first. :)

    ReplyDelete
  29. Trust me, WC; they can't play hold'em for shit.

    ReplyDelete
  30. Triton said, "I'd rather get past that point in the struggle, when it was still possible for us to rise up and crush the enemy in response, as opposed to sitting, blackmailed, while the jihadis gradually dhimmi'ed the entire planet."

    One of the things people have to understand is that the jihadis, who can recite the Q'u'r'a'n for eight hours but can't rub two thoughts together, who can only loot greenhouses that were purchased for them, can't dhimmi anyone who isn't willing and eager to dhimmi themselves. And they do have a lot of takers, especially in Old Europe and the Upper West Side of Manhattan.

    ReplyDelete
  31. We, as a family, decided years ago to maintain and trade rural ranch property. The current ranch is the third or fourth in the 30 year old program. The fact that it could be selfsustaining and well positioned from a survivalist perspective, well, they all have been...

    Always those that see the greater threat chant the mantra, just wait until... usually a horrific attack on a US city.
    But whose battleplan is that? When the reaction as regards retaliation is forseen.
    When the US acts like a frog in the stew pot, the water seems just fine, 'til it begins to boil.

    habu, you mentioned that "everyone" said we were in for a long, hard, slog. Many of the appointed and elected Leaders did say as much. But saying it will not make it so. The US public does not have the depth for that kind of a fight. A "Long War" of ideological attrition, perhaps, but not a shooting war, anyway.

    To paraphrase Mr Rumsfeld, you go to war with the country you've got. Made up of the MSM, Military, Congress, Democrats and fellow travelers. For better or for worse.

    That is why, from a political perspective Mr Bush and the Generals have done so poorly in Iraq.
    They are running out the clock on the US Public. The Iraqi & the Mohammedans have forever, the US Army does not.

    Mr Maliki became Prime Minister, his taking power was the culmination of US Policy. Now, perhaps, the Iraqi have grown tired of the bloodshed. If the Enemy can finally be indentified, say the Six Tribes, they can be dealt with militarily, Baghdad could be locked down and responsibility transfered.

    Surge, then withdraw.
    Maintain two or three of the mega-bases, prepositioned equipment and about 40,000 troops. If they move ahead with embedded training, about 20,000 in that role, at the maximun.
    Everyone else starts leaving in November or even July.
    It is what Mr Maliki's UIA has always maintained was the schedule, from the Cairo Summit, years ago.

    Very few in the World would see inner city combat in Baghdad, in the slums of Sadr City, as a step forward. I do not think it would help support the emergence of democratic government, leveling Sadr City.

    ReplyDelete
  32. Rat,

    Alot of the public "ailments" you describe could have a solution in better leadership, one who can wage information from the 21st Century multimedia bully pulpit. Americans might not understand whats going on, as you say, but it may not be for lack of trying.

    Bush has been utterly contradictory and confusing, and I think the rest of us have been a bit confused ever since Infinite Justice was re-tooled for distance.

    Lots a sensitive folks nodded, knowing that only Allah can deliver such a thing. Who were we to dispense such a thing?

    Better to be enduring, like the rescuers traipsing around the collapsed WTC, rather than driven to the utmost by memories of jumpers. Islamists won't ever object to venerating the rescue workers. Those who perished, well, a tragedy of their own errors, errors we will correct in due, enduring time.

    ReplyDelete
  33. "...can't dhimmi anyone who isn't willing and eager to dhimmi themselves. And they do have a lot of takers, especially in Old Europe and the Upper West Side of Manhattan."

    We agree, WC... think Rat's boiling frog analogy.

    ReplyDelete
  34. Sorry, Habu, I just don't see it happening. A survey of the 2004 election results for the presidency shows that there's still 30-40% of the US that will not fight and demand that the Pres pull out the nukes. They'll just ask for more diplomacy and dialogue. And you can be sure the media will be urging 'restraint' and 'understanding'.

    At the most, I only see 20% of the US getting mad enough to do what you propose and supporting such an action. Not exactly a lot in relative terms, though 50-75 million angry out-for-blood americans is still no joke.

    ReplyDelete