“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."

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Been there, done that in Somalia. What is the goal this time?

Twin US aims in Somalia
By Paul Reynolds
World affairs correspondent, BBC News website

One of the targeted suspects has been indicted in the US

By attacking Islamist fighters in Somalia the United States is trying to achieve two objectives.

It wants to intervene decisively on the side of the transitional government now back in Mogadishu and to get at three al-Qaeda suspects linked to bombings of its embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998 and attacks on an Israeli-owned hotel and airliner in Kenya in 2002.

The air strikes were carried out by a huge AC-130 gunship in the south of the country where supporters of the Union of Islamic Courts have retreated under attack from the Ethiopian army and soldiers of the transitional government.

US aircraft have carried out reconnaissance flights over Somalia and it is believed that the US provided Ethiopian forces with intelligence support during the recent offensive.

At the same time, US warships have been patrolling the Somali coast to prevent any escape by sea.

US aim

The strategy is to ensure that the Islamist fighters do not regroup and pose a threat to the government.

Only last week a statement believed to be from al-Qaeda's number two Ayman al-Zawahiri urged Muslims to "rise up to aid their Muslim brethren in Somalia".

The Americans and their Somali and Ethiopian allies therefore feared a guerrilla war that might threaten efforts to establish the new government. They are determined to stop the Islamic Courts from resuming power.

The American action was not a random affair but intended to minimise the likelihood of an Islamic insurgency developing

At the same time, there was a more specific American aim behind the attack.

From their special forces base in nearby Djibouti, the US has been watching three al-Qaeda suspects in particular who took refuge in Somalia. It seems that they were among the targets of this operation.

The three are Fazul Abdullah Mohammed, Abu Talha al-Sudani and Saleh Ali Saleh Nabhan.

Fazul Abdullah Mohammed, from the Comoro Islands, was indicted by a US court in New York for conspiracy to bomb the American embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998.

Abu Talha al-Sudani, a Sudanese, was accused by the office of the US Director of National Intelligence recently of leading an al-Qaeda cell in East Africa.

Saleh Ali Saleh Nabhan, a Kenyan, is on an FBI wanted poster in connection with the bombing of an Israeli-owned hotel and an attempted missile attack on an Israeli airliner in Kenya in 2002.

The US sees the break-up of the Union of Islamic Courts as a good opportunity to try to remove what it regards as a serious threat from al-Qaeda in the region.

Diplomatic front

As well as intervening on the battlefield, the US and other governments are acting to shore up the government of President Abdullahi Yusuf by encouraging the formation of an African Union force to act as peacekeepers.

The Security Council gave its approval for such a force in resolution 1725 in December. That was before the Ethiopian offensive but the authority can now be acted on.

Al-Qaeda's number two allegedly urged Muslims to fight in Somalia
"The work for the transitional government has only just begun," says Sally Healy, Horn of Africa watcher at Chatham House in London.

"It is not clear if they will establish themselves and we might even see a return to the warlords. Ethiopia might have to stay there longer than it really wants because the government is so weak.

"There is a lot of international willingness to support the transitional federal government [TFG] but the issue is when this can become a real government. An AU force is already backed by the UN but it takes time to get one organised. So the TFG needs a deal with local clans and efforts to this end are being led by the Prime Minister Ali Mohamed Ghedi who is from the south, unlike President Yusuf.

"The American action was not a random affair but intended to minimise the likelihood of an Islamic insurgency developing."


  1. Google's back up, aye

    Listening to Mr King (R-NY), on FOX, says it is more of the same, on steroids. 20,000 troops surge into Iraq and that they will then stay on, until it is secure.

    David Keene, chairman of the American Conservative Union, is a managing associate with Carmen Group, a D.C.-based governmental-affairs firm writes:
    "... As commander-in-chief, Bush can and will commit more troops as he has been saying he will. The Democrats on the Hill will yell and scream about him doing it, but they won’t make any real effort to stop him because they know that if he ups the ante in Iraq and fails, he and the party he leads are in more trouble than they’ll be able to handle. Moreover, if Bush happens to be right about the consequences of a failure in Iraq, the Democrats don’t want their fingerprints on that failure.

    In staking his future on committing still more troops in an incredibly unpopular war, President Bush is a little like the poker player who finds himself losing gradually and decides to stake everything on the next card he draws by going “all in.” If the right card comes up, he’ll go home a winner, but if it doesn’t it’s all over.

    George W. Bush better hope he draws the card he’s going to need to win, because he is “all in.”

    Liquor in the front, poker in the rear.

  2. I was doing some work, listening to cspan. The Democrats are going to kill foreign trade with their security plans on port procedures. They want to set up education plans for Arab yutes and adjudicate international disputes through international courts. I was not listening intently but what filtered through was not encouraging.

  3. DR, do press the link on the previous link .

  4. I havnt listened to that in 40 years. I played it five or six times. Found it amazing. Thought some of the younger guys would enjoy it as well.

  5. I saw that and was reminded of this

    Come on all of you big strong men
    Uncle Sam needs your help again
    he's got himself in a terrible jam
    way down yonder in Viet Nam so
    put down your books and pick up a gun
    we're gonna have a whole lotta fun

    And it's one, two, three, what are we fighting for
    don't ask me I don't give a damn, next stop is Viet Nam
    And it's five, six, seven, open up the pearly gates
    ain't no time to wonder why, whoopee we're all gonna die

    Come on generals, let's move fast
    your big chance has come at last
    now you can go out and get those reds
    cos the only good commie is the one that's dead and
    you know that peace can only be won when we've blown 'em all to kingdom come

    Come on wall street don't be slow
    why man this war is a go-go
    there's plenty good money to be made by
    supplying the army with the tools of its trade
    let's hope and pray that if they drop the bomb,
    they drop it on the Viet Cong

    Come on mothers throughout the land
    pack your boys off to Viet Nam
    come on fathers don't hesitate
    send your sons off before it's too late
    and you can be the first ones on your block
    to have your boy come home in a box

    My boy's come home, wish the others the best of luck.

  6. The Iraqi have killed over 80 insurgents in just the past 2 days, in the Hiafa district. Captured over 20, incompetent troops, those Iraqi Army guys.
    The US Army keeps saying so.

    Then north of Baghdad a combined US/Iraq Operation, last Sunday 21 Insurgents were killed.

    South of Baghdad the Iraqi Army "arrested Ibrahim al-Jouburi, known as the Prince of al Qaeda in Yusufiya, and Abdullah al-Zoubai, leader of the 20th Revolutionary Brigades insurgent group."

    So, in the days since the "new" policy was "fleshed out" to the US Army the "Enemy" has been identified, located, & killed or at least arrested. At an op tempo rate unseen in the past 38 months.

    To little, to late, most likely.
    But here's a toast to hope.

  7. They need Iraqi leadership, someone with the Chrarisma of Saddam, minus the baggage.

  8. You got to love the smell of selective Islamic indignation in the evening.

  9. I have to watch c-span more often. I forgot how stupid so many of our masters are.

  10. This in from the First of the Worst, or the 101st Air Assualt.

    FORT CAMPBELL, Ky. -- An Army private charged with the slaughter of an Iraqi family was diagnosed as a homicidal threat by a military mental health team three months before the attack.

    Pfc. Steven D. Green was found to have "homicidal ideations" after seeking help from an Army Combat Stress Team in Iraq on Dec. 21, 2005. Green said he was angry about the war, desperate to avenge the death of comrades and driven to kill Iraqi citizens, according to an investigation by The Associated Press.

    The treatment was several small doses of Seroquel _ a drug to regulate his mood _ and a directive to get some sleep, according to medical records obtained by the AP. The next day, he returned to duty in the particularly violent stretch of desert in the southern Baghdad suburbs known as the "Triangle of Death." ...
    Col. Elspeth Cameron Ritchie, psychiatry counsel to the Army Surgeon General, would not specifically discuss Green when contacted by The AP. She defended the military's policies regarding the treatment of emotionally or psychologically distressed soldiers.

    "If unresponsive to treatment and/or a persistent danger to self or others, they will be evacuated," Ritchie told The AP in an e-mail. ...
    Green has been charged with the murders and rape and pleaded not guilty in federal court in Kentucky. He is being tried in federal court because his arrest came after he had been discharged from the Army. Three others face the same charges and will be court-martialed.

    From interviews with people who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized by the military to discuss the case, and from viewing the Army's medical and investigative records, the AP also has learned:

    _ Three months passed without Army doctors and clinicians from the Combat Stress Team having any contact with Green. He was summoned for a second examination on March 20, 2006 _ eight days after the killing of the family. Green was diagnosed as having an anti-social personality disorder and declared unfit for service. The process of discharging him began a week later and he was sent home.

    _ The Army's own investigation of Green's initial treatment, prompted by concerns he and others would use mental health problems as a defense in trial, is highly critical. Among the most salient findings from a July review of Green's treatment: "Although a safety assessment was conducted, there is no safety plan addressing how Soldier (Green) will keep from acting on his homicidal thoughts."

    _ Lt. Col. Elizabeth Bowler, a psychiatrist and Army reservist from California who took over the Combat Stress Team with Green's unit in January, recommended his discharge after the second examination in March. Yet she wrote a final evaluation that said Green exhibited no traits that would indicate dangerously erratic or homicidal moods, according to documents viewed by The AP.

    Green deployed to Iraq in September 2005 from Fort Campbell with a battalion from the 101st Airborne Division's 502nd Infantry Regiment. The unit was charged with security operations and assisting Iraqi army units in the "Triangle of Death."

    Eleven days before Green's first visit with the stress team in December 2005, he and five others were manning a checkpoint when an Iraqi civilian approached, according to testimony in military hearings. The civilian was familiar because of his status as a sometimes informant. He greeted the soldiers warmly before pulling a pistol from his belt and shooting two of them at point-blank range.

    Green's behavior worsened after that, according to commanders. He was directed to visit doctors a second time. Eight days later, Bowler told commanders that Green was unfit for service, according to documents. The discharge process for Green concluded in May 2006. ...
    The plot to rape and kill was hatched as the soldiers hit golf balls at a checkpoint. They had seen the older daughter on patrols in the area. After drinking whiskey bought from Iraqi policemen, they masked their faces and crept through backyards in afternoon daylight to get to the family's home.

    They knew the family kept a gun in one bedroom for protection.

    Once in the house, Green herded the father, mother and 5-year-old daughter to another room, closed the door and shot them dead. Green had blood on his clothes and boots when he returned.

    Green and at least two others took turns raping the other daughter before killing her with the family's AK-47. They set her body on fire with kerosene dumped from a lamp in the kitchen in an effort to hide evidence.

    Steven Green is in custody at an undisclosed location in Kentucky, according to federal law-enforcement officials. Prosecutors have not said if they will seek the death penalty.

    Pfc. Jesse V. Spielman, 22, of Chambersburg, Pa.; Sgt. Paul E. Cortez, 24, of Barstow, Calif.; and Pfc. Bryan L. Howard, 23, of Huffman, Texas, have been charged with rape and murder and await courts-martial. They are in custody at Fort Campbell.

    Spc. James P. Barker, 24, of Fresno, Calif., pleaded guilty in November as part of an agreement to testify against the others.

    One crazy, maybe, but what about the other soldiers, the Sgt., who the hell sat on his promotion board?

  11. Even more from the 101st
    FORT CAMPBELL, Ky. -- A 101st Airborne Division soldier who had been charged with murder in the deaths of three Iraqi detainees pleaded guilty Tuesday to a lesser offense of aggravated assault with a dangerous weapon.

    Spc. Juston R. Graber is accused with three others from the division's 187th Infantry Regiment of killing detainees during a raid of a suspected al-Qaida stronghold near Samarra, about 60 miles north of Baghdad. They also were accused of trying to deceive investigators by saying the detainees were fleeing when they were shot.

    Pfc. Corey R. Clagett, Spc. William B. Hunsaker and Staff Sgt. Raymond L. Girouard are awaiting courts-martial in the case.

    Graber told the military judge that once the area was secured during the raid, he went back to a helicopter to get a body bag. He said he heard gunshots and saw the three detainees lying on the ground near the house.

    Two of the detainees appeared to still be alive, Graber said. He testified that Girouard suggested they put one man "out of his misery."

    Graber said he then shot the man in the head. Graber told the judge, Col. Theodore Dixon, that he knew Girouard was not ordering him to shoot the detainee and that what he did was unlawful.

    "I know what I did was wrong," Graber said.

    After Graber's testimony, the judge recessed the hearing to consider the plea.

    Graber had also been charged with attempted premeditated murder and conspiracy to commit premeditated murder. He pleaded not guilty to both.

    Seems General P's old Unit's troops did not study his new COIN manual.

    "Kill the Hadji!" is still a common shout, at my house.
    Seems the "word" that the Iraqi "civilians" are our friends did not "filter down" to the troops in the field.

  12. What was the source of the "swamp gas", in NYC.

    Bet the chances are more than 1% that it was not an act of nature, but a message?
    Not Western Union, to be sure, but perhaps it was a MAD message.

  13. Rowan Scarborough on the Surge: take out Sadr's guys, don't take out Sadr.

    Fight Al Queda and Iranians, leave sanctuaries untouched.

    Talk about a CIC lacking vision and appreciation of what this country can do when you let it..
    The intelligence community would just as well forget the flawed 2002 National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) on Iraq and work on making sure such a mistaken analysis does not happen again.

    One new look is Intellipedia, a classified form of the Wikipedia, the Internet encyclopedia where people can use the "wiki" software to add information on a given subject.

    Intellipedia debuted in April on the government's top-secret network. Today, there are more than 28,000 Web pages, over 13 million "hits" and 3,600 registered users.

    The Office of the Director of National Intelligence is experimenting with that concept, via Intellipedia, to see if intelligence analysts collectively can produce an accurate NIE on various subjects. Another aim is to get rid of the "stovepipes" -- the metaphor for analysts not sharing information with other analysts in different fields but similar subjects.

    "With all edits being attributable in Intellipedia, it actually kind of allows our officers to be much more collegial with one another, and it builds a community, which is what we're trying to do," Sean Dennehy, a CIA analyst, said at a recent round-table discussion.
    Inside the Ring - Nation-Politics - The Washington Times

  14. No doubt Condi and Co are for not touching Iran, Syria, and G_d knows who else.
    Bush, not up to the job, listens to Experts, nay, lets them decide.

  15. An intel blog, who'd have ever guessed.
    Cutting fuckin edge, aye

  16. Meanwhile, on the homefront, the GOP seems to be on board for joining Bush in turning the USA into Mexico Norte.
    Man sure has had a great run.
    ...right down the sewer.

  17. We need to get some armed Vigilantes down on the frontier, to defend the National Guardmen from the Mexis.

  18. Who will protect the Guard from its own government?

  19. On a completely serious note:

    AP Runs Unverified Report: Somali Strikes Kill Newlyweds! Update: And a "boy" too! (Also unverified.)

    “There are only four sorts of people killed by US (or Israeli) strikes, according to AP and Reuters.
    1) Children, which are military-aged men under 30 years old
    2) The elderly, who are military-aged men over 30 years old
    3) Women, who are military-aged men who do not have moustaches or beards
    4) "Newlyweds," who are military-aged men killed in the compromising position of participating in a Men's Doubles Aerobic Dance Competition”

  20. DR quoted:

    "Pfc. Steven D. Green was found to have "homicidal ideations" after seeking help from an Army Combat Stress Team in Iraq on Dec. 21, 2005. Green said he was angry about the war, desperate to avenge the death of comrades and driven to kill Iraqi citizens, according to an investigation by The Associated Press.

    The treatment was several small doses of Seroquel _ a drug to regulate his mood _ and a directive to get some sleep,"

    I'm saddened, appalled really, by the cavalier attitude so many seem to have when considering the notion of waging war. The simple fact the we CHOSE to wage war in Iraq; we weren't forced into the act, it was purely by choice.

    My holiday reading this season has been "Dispatches" by Michael Herr and "Hemmingway On War" excerpts by Hemmingway on war selected by his grandson Sean Hemmingway. What I've read does not paint a pleasant picture of the act of waging war. An excerpt from Michael Herr's Dispatches in response to DR's quote:

    "One afternoon at Khe Sanh a Marine opened the door of a latrine and was killed by a grenade that had been rigged on the door. The Command tried to blame it on a North Vietnamese infiltrator, but the grunts knew what had happened: "Like a gook is really gonna tunnel all the way in here to booby-trap a shithouse, right? Some guy just flipped out is all." And it became another one of those stories that moved across the DMZ, making people laugh and shake their heads and look knowingly at each other, but shocking no one. They'd talk about physical wounds in one way and psychic wounds in another, each man in a squad would tell you how crazy everyone else in the squad was, everyone knew grunts who'd gone crazy in the middle of a firefight, gone crazy on R&R, gone crazy during their first month home. Going crazy was built into the tour, the best you could hope for was that it didn't happen around you, the kind of crazy that made men empty clips into a stranger, or fix grenades on latrine doors. That was really crazy; anythng less was almost standard, as standard as the vague prolonged stares and involuntary smiles, common as ponchos or 16's or any other piece of war issue. If you wanted someone to konw you'd gone insane you really had to sound off like you had a pair, "Scream a lot, and all the time."

    Michael Herr
    Vintage International

    And now Mr. Bush is standing tall asking for a 'surge' to save US all...

  21. Don't forget Jenjis Khan and the ear lopers.

  22. I used to do that stuff too,
    but now I have no TV.

  23. So American troops are surging in Iraq, and withdrawing along our own border. What's wrong with this picture? Nothing, say the journalistic and political elites.

    Yet, before anything else, what we need is a surge of troops on the U.S.-Mexican border, which is a lot closer to home than Baghdad. On Jan. 6 The Arizona Republic reported that a small team of National Guard troops "abandoned their post near the border southwest of Tucson as four gunmen approached from Mexico."
    American authorities assured the newspaper that this was all fine, all part of the plan. It seems that the National Guard, which President George W. Bush sent to the border with great fanfare last year, is on guard only to perform administrative and logistical functions - it's not supposed to do any actual border enforcement. ...

    In a different era the American commander in chief took seriously his constitutional oath to "preserve, protect and defend" these United States. In 1916, after the terroristic forces of Pancho Villa crossed into American territory, President Woodrow Wilson sent John "Black Jack" Pershing and the U.S. Army into Mexico on a punitive retaliatory expedition. That's how a country convinces outsiders that it cares about its own national sovereignty.

    But, in contrast to the 28th president, the 43rd president seems to be preoccupied with Iraq, not Arizona; extra U.S. troops are going to go 7,000 miles from home, even as our own homes are unguarded.

    Indeed, Bush and the Democrats who now control Congress seem to agree that there should be less enforcement along the U.S.-Mexico border. ... ... Bush and his new best friend forever, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), are eager for such a deal to show the D.C. establishment that they can work with Democrats at least some of the time - even as they seek to jam the Dems on Iraq.

    But, of course, both parties in Washington are experts at the game of selling out ordinary Americans - in the name of foggy abstractions such as "bipartisanship" and "nation building."

    What Americans on the southwestern border need is political leadership that will stand up for them, not ignore them. And soon enough, as the immigration invasion continues, all Americans will figure out that they, too, need border protection.

    And one day, even the Mainstream Media will realize that the impending demographic transformation and dissolution of America is a big story. Maybe.

    James P. Pinkerton's e-mail address is pinkerto@ix.netcom .com.

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

  25. i thought you were kidding about the ponies.

  26. One crazy, maybe, but what about the other soldiers, the Sgt., who the hell sat on his promotion board?

    Tue Jan 09, 06:44:19 PM EST.

    Eisenhower used to hang them within days in Europe for such crimes.

  27. The AP had to remove the bit about adorable ponies - seems the French objected - not wanting to see sympathy generated for an entrée.

  28. Allen, I had a Chinese maid for a couple of years. One morning over coffee, we were talking about a party she went to the previous week-end. Everyone was Chinese so the woman got there early to prepare the food. My girl started giggling. She said while looking in the host's cabinets for some spice she noticed several cans of dog food. She said to the host,"I did not know you had a dog."

    He looked confused and said he did not. She asked him why he had tins of dog food. He flushed red and said he misinterpreted the label and thought it meant food made from a dog. She was very amused and could not restrain from laughter. He told her the meat was not bad for the price.