“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 13, 2006

Where is Bush going? Do not read his lips.

For the life of me, I cannot figure out what George Bush is doing in Iraq. I do know he is going to Congress to get another $100 billion. Don't go by that number so fast.

In case you are counting, $100 billion is what the value was of all US agricultural crops in 2004. That is not income. That is revenue. Think about the output of every farmer in the United States going to be used as a supplement in Iraq. (Not in the budget.)

Bush is not announcing any changes in Iraq before Christmas. I did not look to see the dates of Ramadan, and there is no word yet on any White House Ramadan party but in the meantime he is talking to everyone that will listen or talk about new ideas for Iraq. He is acting like a man buying time. Stalling comes to mind.

So let's for the moment forget about what he is saying now under the twelve G forces of gravity that make up his daily life. I thought as an interesting diversion we go to what he said when he actually thought that it would be nice to be President. I voted for him twice and I wonder what I heard during those debates. On October 11, 2000, the second Gore-Bush Presidential Debate took place. We can start here:

MODERATOR: Should the people of the world look at the United States, Governor, and say, should they fear us, should they welcome our involvement, should they see us as a friend, everybody in the world? How would you project us around the world, as president?

BUSH: Well, I think they ought to look at us as a country that understands freedom where it doesn't matter who you are or how you're raised or where you're from, that you can succeed. I don't think they'll look at us with envy. It really depends upon how our nation conducts itself in foreign policy. If we're an arrogant nation, they'll resent us. If we're a humble nation, but strong, they'll welcome us. And it's -- our nation stands alone right now in the world in terms of power, and that's why we have to be humble. And yet project strength in a way that promotes freedom. So I don't think they ought to look at us in any way other than what we are. We're a freedom-loving nation and if we're an arrogant nation they'll view us that way, but if we're a humble nation they'll respect us.

I am not sure it worked out that way, but the thought was there. Next one please:

MODERATOR: Does that give us -- does our wealth, our good economy, our power, bring with it special obligations to the rest of the world?

: Yes, it does. Take, for example, Third World debt. I think we ought to be forgiving Third World debt under certain conditions. I think, for example, if we're convinced that a Third World country that's got a lot of debt would reform itself, that the money wouldn't go into the hands of a few but would go to help people, I think it makes sense for us to use our wealth in that way, or to trade debt for valuable rain forest lands, makes that much sense, yes. We do have an obligation, but we can't be all things to all people. We can help build coalitions but we can't put our troops all around the world. We can lend money but we have to do it wisely. We shouldn't be lending money to corrupt officials. So we have to be guarded in our generosity

His instincts seemed to be good for a pre-911 world. the next question was directed at Gore, but Bush responded and I will pass to the Bush answer:

MODERATOR: Let's go through some of the specifics now. New question. Vice President Gore, the governor mentioned the Middle East. Here we're talking at this stage in the game about diplomatic power that we have. What do you think the United States should do right now to resolve that conflict over there?

BUSH: Well, I think during the campaign, particularly now during this difficult period, we ought to be speaking with one voice, and I appreciate the way the administration has worked hard to calm the tensions. Like the vice president, I call on Chairman Arafat to have his people pull back to make the peace. I think credibility is going to be very important in the future in the Middle East. I want everybody to know should I be the president Israel's going to be our friend. I'm going to stand by Israel. Secondly, that I think it's important to reach out to moderate Arab nations, like Jordan and Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait. It's important to be friends with people when you don't need each other so that when you do there's a strong bond of friendship. And that's going to be particularly important in dealing not only with situations such as now occurring in Israel, but with Saddam Hussein. The coalition against Saddam has fallen apart or it's unraveling, let's put it that way. The sanctions are being violated. We don't know whether he's developing weapons of mass destruction. He better not be or there's going to be a consequence should I be the president. But it's important to have credibility and credibility is formed by being strong with your friends and resoluting your determination. One of the reasons why I think it's important for this nation to develop an anti-ballistic missile system that we can share with our allies in the Middle East if need be to keep the peace is to be able to say to the Saddam Husseins of the world or the Iranians, don't dare threaten our friends. It's also important to keep strong ties in the Middle East, credible ties, because of the energy crisis we're now in. After all, a lot of the energy is produced from the Middle East, and so I appreciate what the administration is doing. I hope to get a sense of should I be fortunate to be the president how my administration will react to the Middle East.

I have left in Gore and Bush on the next questions. Pay attention to Gore on Iraq and where Bush's predilection was prior to becoming president.

MODERATOR: People watching here tonight are very interested in Middle East policy, and they are so interested they want to base their vote on differences between the two of you as president how you would handle Middle East policy. Is there any difference?

GORE: I haven't heard a big difference in the last few exchanges.

BUSH: That's hard to tell. I think that, you know, I would hope to be able to convince people I could handle the Iraqi situation better.

MODERATOR: Saddam Hussein, you mean, get him out of there?

BUSH: I would like to, of course, and I presume this administration would as well. We don't know -- there are no inspectors now in Iraq, the coalition that was in place isn't as strong as it used to be. He is a danger. We don't want him fishing in troubled waters in the Middle East. And it's going to be hard, it's going to be important to rebuild that coalition to keep the pressure on him.

MODERATOR: You feel that is a failure of the Clinton administration?

BUSH: I do.

GORE: Well, when I got to be a part of the current administration, it was right after -- I was one of the few members of my political party to support former President Bush in the Persian Gulf War resolution, and at the end of that war, for whatever reason, it was not finished in a way that removed Saddam Hussein from power. I know there are all kinds of circumstances and explanations. But the fact is that that's the situation that was left when I got there. And we have maintained the sanctions. Now I want to go further. I want to give robust support to the groups that are trying to overthrow Saddam Hussein, and I know there are allegations that they're too weak to do it, but that's what they said about the forces that were opposing Milosevic in Serbia, and you know, the policy of enforcing sanctions against Serbia has just resulted in a spectacular victory for democracy just in the past week, and it seems to me that having taken so long to see the sanctions work there, building upon the policy of containment that was successful over a much longer period of time against the former Soviet Union in the communist block, seems a little early to declare that we should give up on the sanctions. I know the governor's not necessarily saying that but, you know, all of these flights that have come in, all of them have been in accordance with the sanctions regime, I'm told, except for three where they notified, and they're trying to break out of the box, there's no question about it. I don't think they should be allowed to.

MODERATOR: Did he state your position correctly, you're not calling for eliminating the sanctions, are you?

BUSH: No, of course not, absolutely not, I want them to be tougher.

This exchange between the moderator and Bush is interesting when read against the background of current events:

MODERATOR: You said in the Boston debate, Governor, on this issue of nation building, that the United States military is overextended now. Where is it overextended? Where are there U.S. military that you would bring home if you become president?

BUSH: First let me just say one comment about what the vice president said. I think one of the lessons in between World War I and World War II is we let our military atrophy. And we can't do that. We've got to rebuild our military. But one of the problems we have in the military is we're in a lot of places around the world. And I mentioned one, and that's the Balkans. I would very much like to get our troops out of there. I recognize we can't do it now, nor do I advocate an immediate withdrawal. That would be an abrogation of our agreement with NATO. No one is suggesting that. But I think it ought to be one of our priorities to work with our European friends to convince them to put troops on the ground. And there is an example. Haiti is another example. Now there are some places where I think -- you know, I've supported the administration in Columbia. I think it's important for us to be training Columbians in that part of the world. The hemisphere is in our interest to have a peaceful Columbia. But --

MODERATOR: The use of the military, there -- some people are now suggesting that if you don't want to use the military to maintain the peace, to do the civil thing, is it time to consider a civil force of some kind that comes in after the military that builds nations or all of that? Is that on your radar screen?

BUSH: I don't think so. I think what we need to do is convince people who live in the lands they live in to build the nations. Maybe I'm missing something here. I mean, we're going to have kind of a nation building core from America? Absolutely not. Our military is meant to fight and win war. That's what it's meant to do. And when it gets overextended, morale drops. I strongly believe we need to have a military presence in the peninsula, not only to keep the peace in the peninsula, but to keep regional stability. And I strongly believe we need to keep a presence in NATO, but I'm going to be judicious as to how to use the military. It needs to be in our vital interest, the mission needs to be clear, and the extra strategy obvious.


  1. Part of it is a bit exaggerated because I was only 17 or so at the time, but my views have sure changed since then. A little bit's happened.

  2. I don't know where Bush is going. As for the United States, look at our history. We will prevail.

    Why do millions of people from around the globe choose to be here? It might have something to do with America the myth.

    Why are a dozen guys, within 200 yards of my home, busily erecting a house in record time, speaking nothing but Spanish/Mexican? What do they know that many Americans have foregotten?

    Does anyone really believe these guys want to return to Mexico? This is the power of America!

  3. rufus,

    Your link is onto something: reward the good guys and harm the bad. Our modus operandi, to date, has been all carrot and no stick. If we are able to do both, simultaneously, we win.

    For those who think the Dems are going to turn American foreign policy on its head, they would do well to remember that the Dems also read the polls. That being the case, the public is not for deserting the battlefield, rather, the public chooses to win the battle space. Think 2008.

  4. Deuce,

    I have no idea where Mr. Bush is going, lips or not. When Mr. Bush is long gone, America will still be America. Viva!

  5. They have no desire to return to the squallier that is Iraq or Mexico. What the world waits for is an America that behaves like America. Long live Coca Cola and James Cagney.

    On that happy mote, good night.

  6. Its a regular mystery Jam-Bone however you choose to slice it.

    We'll just have to wait till its ready and not a moment sooner. Bush has the oven set at the right temperature and now we just have to be patient.

    If were lucky, a savory Iraqi society will be steaming in between Bush's noble mits.

  7. 4. Resolute, Infinite Fecklessness

  8. Law Enforcement Urged to Indulge Muslim Misbehavior

    When the 20th annual conference of the Mid-Atlantic Association of Women in Law Enforcement met in Rehoboth Beach a couple of weeks ago, some two hundred officers learned about Islam from Sarah Elshazly, a division chief in the New Jersey Attorney General's Office. They got quite an earful, writes Jim Westhoff of the Cape Gazette. On the one hand, she fed them some astonishing stereotypes:

    Elshazly said if officers come to a Muslim's home, the Muslim will try to feed them. "You have to say yes," she said. "If you say no, it is a great insult - you are telling them that you don't think they are clean enough or that they are not a good cook." Consequently, officers should be suspicious if they enter a Muslim's home and they are not offered food. "All Muslims cook, even the men, so if there is not the smell of cooking and spices, that house is probably not being used a residence," she said. …

    She also said that unlike in Western culture, when police expect that honest people will look them straight in the eye, most Muslims believe it is impolite to look at an authority figure in the eyes.

    But more worrisome were her apologetics for Muslim misbehavior:

    Muslims work very hard at politeness, so they may say yes to a police officer if they feel that the officer wants a yes answer, she said. "You may be lied to if you ask a yes or no question. So, always ask open-ended questions. Then be patient because Muslims love to talk, but they will eventually get around to the answer you were looking for," she said. …

    Elshazly explained how young men are recruited to fight for Islamic extremists. In their world, the class system is so rigid, no matter what a person achieves on his own, he will still be considered below others, she said. If a person is from a low class, he is told his whole life he will never amount to anything. Then one day, a wealthy person tells him he will achieve a high level in heaven if he fights for God. "How hard is it to sell that?" she asked.

  9. Pipes on Baker
    Doing so means breaking with a presidential tradition, going back at least to 1919, of what I call a " know-nothing " Middle East diplomacy.

    Woodrow Wilson appointed two completely unqualified Americans to head a commission of inquiry to the Levant on the grounds, an aide explained, that Wilson "felt these two men were particularly qualified to go to Syria because they knew nothing about it."
    This know-nothing approach failed America 87 years ago and it failed again now.

  10. Good for the Goose,
    Fuck the Gander.

    Sen. Johnson in Critical Condition After Surgery
    The only time that partisan control of the Senate changed in mid-session, historians say, was in 2001. Republicans began the year controlling the 50-50 chamber with Cheney's tie-breaking vote. But Democrats, mindful of the recent sudden death of Sen. Paul Coverdell (R-Ga.), were aware they could be a heartbeat away from the majority.

    In order to adopt new rules organizing the Senate, the two parties must reach nearly unanimous agreement. Democrats in 2001 blocked the naming of committee chairmen and members, demanding concessions before agreeing to the rules. Among those concessions: Should the numerical advantage change, all committee assignments and chairmanships would be nullified, and a new organization would have to be submitted.

    That's what happened, not because of a death but because disgruntled moderate Republican Sen. James M. Jeffords (Vt.) decided to caucus with the Democrats, giving them a 51-49 edge and the powers of the majority. Senate Republican sources said yesterday that their party is likely to press for similar concessions when negotiating the operating rules for the next Congress. But even if Johnson were incapacitated, Democratic aides say, they would resist.

  11. In Detail:

    Senate Republican sources said yesterday that their party is likely to press for similar concessions when negotiating the operating rules for the next Congress.

    But even if Johnson were incapacitated, Democratic aides say, they would resist.

  12. At Shanklin's Site:
    Gotta Buy it!

  13. Let Iraqis Take Responsibility for Iraq

    Sept. 5, 2004 update:
    Next, it's sewage.
    A New York Times article details the U.S. Army's having contracted to repair a cracked sewage line in Sadr City, a district of Baghdad. For the military, in Iraq, reporter Erik Eckholm explains, civil affairs programs "have become a near obsession."
    There are thousands of efforts "to repair services, build schools and clinics and soccer fields and, above all, give jobs to young men."

  14. Funny, how the US Military has migrated in a direction the prospective CiC said was the "WRONG" Objective.

    Who has charted the Course we are on?
    doug's link provide the newest example of that Course.
    A Mission the candidate denounced and the job holder promotes.

    He was right when he was a candidate and wrong as President, led down a primrose path by whom, the Generals, his wife, who really knows, perhaps it was God who came and spoke through him, direct to US: " ... “I trust God speaks through me. Without that, I couldn’t do my job.” – July 9, 2004. ... "

    President Abracadbra is waiting for the 12th Imam to return, while Mr Bush has got him on hold, on line #2

    All the more reason to believe it's a locomotive and not a ship we are aboard.

  15. Hmm. There could be a lot a reasons why Bush is waiting, but part of it has to be the Congressional landscape. He wants to know who he'll be working with. It's better to be careful than hasty, esp. as here. He might end up just waiting until 2008 before doing anything radically different, depending on how retarded the Dems in Congress want to behave.

  16. The "Sources" indicate the US will not be "Changing Course" in Iraq, but throwing more fuel in the boiler, to paraphrase Mr Cheney
    "Full Speed Ahead"

    Damned those torpedos
    which were mines
    which is all the IEDs & car bombs are.

    Damn 'em all, it's
    "Full Speed Ahead"

    Still on the wrong course, though
    We're gonna fight some local symptoms while the global disease rages

  17. via:

    "A report scheduled to be released by the Treasury Department tomorrow is expected to show the true deficit in the Bush administration's 2006 federal budget to be an astounding $3.5 trillion in the red, not $248.2 billion as previously reported.
    When the report is released, Treasury Secretary Henry Paulsen and Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke will still be in China. Just before Thanksgiving, China started a dollar sell-off by suggesting Beijing wanted to hold less than the current 70 percent of its $1 trillion in foreign exchange reserves in U.S. dollars. "

  18. $70 Billion here, $80 Billion there, adds up to $4 or $500 Billion before you even know it.

    But do not worry, it's just a long, multi generational conflict, 50 to 100 years, depending upon the General one listens to.

    Meanwhile 14% of the Mexican workforce is in the US. Half of that illegally.

  19. ", perhaps it was God who came and spoke through him, direct to US: " ... “I trust God speaks through me. Without that, I couldn’t do my job.” – July 9, 2004. ... "

    President Abracadbra is waiting for the 12th Imam to return, while Mr Bush has got him on hold, on line #2
    Our God vs His God.
    Bring back Nancy's Astrologer!

  20. 67% of "White" HS Seniors consider themselves Patriotic.

    Hispanics: 37%

  21. Heather Mac Donald
    Hispanic Family Values? Runaway illegitimacy is creating a new U.S. underclass.
    ...but God tells W they still have "Family Values" we all hold dear, and that have held humanity together since day 1.
    Runaway illegitimacy is creating a new U.S. underclass.

    Unless the life chances of children raised by single mothers suddenly improve, the explosive growth of the U.S. Hispanic population over the next couple of decades does not bode well for American social stability. Hispanic immigrants bring near–Third World levels of fertility to America, coupled with what were once thought to be First World levels of illegitimacy. (In fact, family breakdown is higher in many Hispanic countries than here.) Nearly half of the children born to Hispanic mothers in the U.S. are born out of wedlock, a proportion that has been increasing rapidly with no signs of slowing down. Given what psychologists and sociologists now know about the much higher likelihood of social pathology among those who grow up in single-mother households, the Hispanic baby boom is certain to produce more juvenile delinquents, more school failure, more welfare use, and more teen pregnancy in the future.

    The government social-services sector has already latched onto this new client base; as the Hispanic population expands, so will the demands for a larger welfare state. Since conservative open-borders advocates have yet to acknowledge the facts of Hispanic family breakdown, there is no way to know what their solution to it is. But they had better come up with one quickly, because the problem is here—and growing.

  22. Heather:
    George has a master plan to make it all turn out just right.
    Trust Him.

  23. Russet Shadows said, "There could be a lot a reasons why Bush is waiting, but part of it has to be the Congressional landscape."

    No, all of it has to do with Mr. Bush's absolute lack of leadership. Ronald Reagan didn't give a crap about the Congressional landscape.

  24. "astounding $3.5 trillion in the red, not $248.2 billion as previously reported."
    Mere off-budgeting accounting, young man, no biggie.
    We're COMPASSIONATE "Conservatives!"

  25. "Orange County sheriff’s deputy Montoya says that the older Hispanic generation’s work ethic is fast disappearing among the gangbanging youngsters whom he sees.

    “Now, it’s all about fast money, drugs, and sex.”

  26. Trish,
    Paul Wolfowitz.
    Probably thought since Fred Rogers has passed, he was talking to a leader that would proceed like a CIC, not Mr Rogers.
    Fred never pretended to be CIC.
    Hell of a Minister to the young, however.

  27. Others may disagree:
    I still say stopping (like daddy) instead of dealing with sanctuaries in Syria, Iran, and Warizistan, was the fatal feckless mistake.

    Think "Cedar Revololutions"

    Anybody got a good explanation for why Syrian Camps were never bombed?

  28. Trish,
    It's in Woodward's First Book on Bush.

  29. Doing God's Work:
    (at least in their own minds)
    Adolph Hitler

  30. I'll have to check my back issues of Commentary, The Weekly Standard, and National Review.

    And then some people lead interesting lives.

  31. Doug said, "Doug said...
    'astounding $3.5 trillion in the red, not $248.2 billion as previously reported.' Mere off-budgeting accounting, young man, no biggie. We're COMPASSION ATE 'Conservatives!'"

    I don't believe one word of it. Red ink? That would mean we are shelling out $3.5 trillion more than we are taking in, and we are taking in $2.407 trillion, which means the government is spending $5.907 trillion, while the economy is only generating about $12 trillion. In other words, the government alone, either in cash or by taking out loans, would have to be spending nearly half of the USA's total generated income. Not even socialist countries do that.

  32. I remember watching those debates and I was struck at the time by what Bush said which seemed to foreshadow the future for me. He said it twice in the first debate:

    "I believe the role of the military is to fight and win war and therefore prevent war from happening in the first place"


    ...a commander in chief that sets the mission to fight and win war and prevent war from happening in the first place."

    I was struck by the obvious contradiction in the notion that going to war contradicts no war. I checked out the transcripts for the second and third debates and it seems Bush's advisors got to him and got him to evolve his statement in the second debate to be more rational:

    "And so I don't think our troops ought to be used for what's called nation-building. I think our troops ought to be used to fight and win war."

    which then further got refined in the third debate to:

    "Should I be fortunate enough to earn your confidence, the mission of the United States military will be to be prepared and ready to fight and win war. And therefore prevent war from happening in the first place."

    Maybe Freud was on to something and that first debate's notion, as self contradictory as it was, conveyed his thoughts - 'Just one good war to prevent war'. Obviously he has contradicted through our Nation Building actions the second statement and the third, well, heck we'll build and train and maintain a ferocious world beating fighting force and never use it. Sounds like political spin to me.

  33. And like all other preventive measures, we're never sure what is it we eventually did prevent, except that we know we have to keep it up.

  34. Well, buzz, there have been quite a few solutions offered, over the past years.

    Here's another, along the same lines of the others

    What to Do in Iraq
    By David Warren
    "...It is the "strategy" of counter-insurgency in Iraq, that is all wrong. There and in Afghanistan, the idea of "winning their hearts and minds" -- which ought to have been buried during the Vietnam War -- still governs all military decisions. The world media stand ready to give U.S. and allies a very black eye, the moment the slightest mistake is made in distinguishing between armed jihadis and their sometimes-unarmed sympathizers. Forays into the "Sunni Triangle" were, from the beginning, conducted with a caution and delicacy that is simply incompatible with victory in war.

    To put this plainly: the "strategy" in Fallujah should have been to make it into a parking lot, and build a Wal-Mart at one end. There would have been great loss of life, but the message to our enemies and their supporters everywhere would have been, "We will not be toyed with." Civilians whose sympathies are with the enemy cannot be won over, and have not been, by the "candy to children" approach. They must be taught that sheltering the enemy -- even involuntarily -- means sharing the enemy's fate. (The distinction between what is voluntary and involuntary soon changes under those conditions.) And this, in the longer run, is what saves millions of lives.

    The strategy against the insinuation of foreign jihadis and supplies, into Iraq across international frontiers, should have been -- should now be -- extremely hot pursuit. And the chief reason to build the allied force structure in the region is to prepare, and be seen to be preparing, for a much wider conflict. For the war in Iraq cannot be isolated.

    As important as military might, is the consensus behind its use. What can I say?

    That this is why wars must be fought quickly. We could never afford to have Iraq drawn out for longer than the U.S. stayed in WWII. Nor did we defeat Nazi Germany by "winning their hearts and minds". It was done by insuperable violence and intimidation: the way wars have invariably been won in the modern world. And "bombing Dresden" was (for more reasons than I have space to expound) a necessary part of that mix.

    What worked on the Nazis, would be not less but more immediately effective on an enemy conditioned to methods of war in which he feeds exclusively on weakness of will, exploitating our fear, hesitation, and cowardice; who reads every pulled punch not as decency but as a confession of allied weakness.

    My instinct at the beginning, before the invasion of Iraq had begun, was, "Split it into three governable pieces -- majority Kurd, Sunni, and Shia -- and install three pro-Western strongmen with secular, democratic aspirations. Then come heavy-handedly to their defence whenever they need it. By all means pour in aid, but make every penny of it conditional on unambiguous local cooperation. Do not be shy about imposing Western values."

    This is still what I would recommend, summarized in a few hundred words. It is the only "strategy" I can imagine, that could end in victory instead of a defeat that will most certainly come back to haunt us, where we live.

    Read More Here

  35. Joe, I posted this earlier but I think this idea is worth a try:

    The Saudis are worried about a US withdrawal and the power vacuum drawing all of Iraq's neighbors into a conflict.

    The Saudis have an interesting card to play that could set down a very large marker with Iran. Iran is vulnerable with an ongoing need for money and a lot of it. Yesterday the German Chancellor, Merkel made comment expressing real concern about Iran getting the nuclear weapons it seeks. Europe will support some sanctions rather than face a US or Israeli attack on Iran. So here is the juice.

    The US threatens all parties with a draw down in Iraq.

    The President lets all parties know that Iran will not be permitted to develop nuclear weapons. He demands tough sanctions. The Russians will not play. Ignore them. Better yet punish them. How? Read on.

    The US demands that the Saudis break out of any restraint on oil production. Tell them in no uncertain terms that the US is leaving. Tell them that the US is sick of the Middle East and if the Saudis do not play hardball by cranking the oil, they will have to solve their own problems. If they do not , someone else may wind up pumping their oil.

    The expected results would be:

    Oil prices would drop.
    Russia would be given a hard lesson of their own making and would lose oil revenue.
    Iran would face tough economic sanctions and reduced oil money. Iran would be exposed to her own vulnerabilities and face lessened prestige in the Middle East.

    Conversely, Saudi Arabia would appear to be sending a message to Iran as to who is uncle in th Middle East.

    The Europeans would get economic benefits with lower oil prices during winter.

    China would not object to lower oil prices.

    The US could promise a new cooperative effort to engage the Sunnis and balance to parties in Iraq.

  36. Dog bites man story, again.

  37. Or we can move in the direction advocated here:
    "... the unavoidable struggle is between Sunni and Shia. Transcending their internal fault lines - for now - these two competing forms of Islam are already at war in Iraq. It's only a matter of time until the fighting spreads.

    The question isn't "How can we stop it?" We can't. Even delaying the confrontation may come at too high a price. The right question is "How do we make sure we're on the winning side?"

    The dynamism is with the Shia. Oppressed for centuries, Arab Shia have found their strategic footing. Tehran's backing helps, but the rise of Shia power is not synonymous with Iranian power - unless our old-school diplomacy makes it so. ...

    ...East of Suez and west of Kabul, Sunni Arab dominance is waning. To future historians, al Qaeda may appear little more than the death-rattle of a collapsing order. Jordan may have a future - if that future is guaranteed by the West - but Syria's grandiose ambitions are unsustainable, and it's difficult to imagine the long-term survival of the decayed Saudi royal family.

    Now the Saudis are threatening us: If we turn our backs on Iraq's Sunni Arabs, Riyadh says it will fund the insurgents.

    The threat might carry more weight if Saudis weren't already funding Iraq's Sunni butchers. And note that Saudi Arabia hasn't threatened to intervene militarily - the playboy princes know that their incompetent armed forces would collapse if sent to Iraq.

    It's time to call Riyadh's bluff.

    ...But our response to any threat from Riyadh should be a public smackdown. Without our support, the Saudis are defenseless. Let's stop pretending we're the ones who need help.

    We have to shift onto the winning side of history. Increasingly, that doesn't look "Sunni side up." Yes, face down Iran. But do it wisely, by cooperating with those Shia who fear Tehran's imperial ambitions - rather than alienating them for the sake of Jim Baker's Saudi friends.

    We've tried to be fair, and we failed. Now let's concentrate on winning.

  38. We must still decide who the Enemy is, in our War on Extremist Radicals.

    Or is it Radical Extremists?

    More troops to secure sewer line construction. That will defeat Radical Extremists? I find that hard to believe. The Sunni Insurgency is still estimated at the Iraq Index at the 25,000+ fighter levels, along with 800 to 2,000 Foreigners.

    Regardless of the number of Tribes involved with US.

  39. DR, that Ralph Peters 'support the Shia' schtick is kind of funny given our problems with Iran and Iran's definite prediliction for Shiasm in the region.

    2164th, I've long advocated that the US announce its withdrawal and use that as a stick to try to enforce beneficial change. Once the threat is made, though, we need be prepared for our bluff to be called and be willing to vacate as stated even if the chips don't fall as we hope. The problem with the Saudi factor in this is that they very may well say on our announced withdrawal "F*CK YOU! We aren't going to flood the market with our oil to please you. Quite the opposite in fact - if you don't support us Sunni folk against our rivals the Shia then you are our enemy". I'm thinking Cheney got this whispered in his ear on his recent trip given the Saudis recent statements. My what a pickle our glorius leader has got us all in.

  40. Ralph is a putz.

    Ralph Peters frequently contradicts himself in the space of single paragraphs, let alone columns. And appears not to notice. When called on it he goes ballistic. The guy is certifiably off the deep end, his opinion columns are the rants of a sick man.

  41. Well, the WaPo leads, on A10 with this:
    Joint Chiefs Advise Change In War Strategy
    Leaders Seek No Major Troop Increase, Urge Shift in Focus to Support of Iraqi Army

    By Robin Wright and Ann Scott Tyson
    Washington Post Staff Writers
    Thursday, December 14, 2006

    These writers say that the Generals advise falling back to base camps and training more Iraqis

    The chiefs do not favor adding significant numbers of troops to Iraq, said sources familiar with their thinking, but see strengthening the Iraqi army as pivotal to achieving some degree of stability. They also are pressing for a much greater U.S. effort on economic reconstruction and political reconciliation.

    Sources said that Gen. George W. Casey Jr., the top U.S. commander in Iraq, is reviewing a plan to redefine the American military mission there: U.S. troops would be pulled out of Iraqi cities and consolidated at a handful of U.S. bases while day-to-day combat duty would be turned over to the Iraqi army. Casey is still considering whether to request more troops, possibly as part of an expanded training mission to help strengthen the Iraqi army.

    The recommendations Casey is reviewing to overhaul the military mission were formulated by Lt. Gen. Peter W. Chiarelli, the outgoing top U.S. ground commander, officials said. The plan positions the U.S. military to be able to move swiftly to a new focus on training, ..."

    So if Mr Bush plays true to form...
    He'll follow the Generals reccomendations, surge the four month window, withdraw to force protection redoubts. Ride with the "elected" government.

  42. Rufus said, "Don't get too excited. They use an extremely low assumed growth rate (1.6% vs a long-term average of 3.3%,) and assume all sorts of other things. These people have never, EVER, been able to predict out 2 years, much less 70 years."

    Yeah, it was just six or seven years ago they were talking about using the Clinton budget surpluses to retire the national debt and let every Boomer retire at age 55 with a personal masseuse to butter their toes.

  43. Ash said, "The problem with the Saudi factor in this is that they very may well say on our announced withdrawal 'F*CK YOU! We aren't going to flood the market with our oil to please you.'"

    Every drop of Saudi oil has to go through the Strait of Hormuz, so in this poker game we have another hole card, the non-presence of the United States Navy opposite Iran's shore-to-sea missile sites.

  44. bobal,
    I agree:
    Both 'Rat and I once made good incomes in the trades, as did 100s of thousands of others.

    Less and less can now, and in Los Angeles, third wave illegals displace 1st and 2nd, driving wages down to sub-subsistence levels for the millionaire mansioneers to take advantage of.

    Legal Mexicans and Blacks have long since been displaced.