“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, January 31, 2007

Christopher Hitchens, on Steyn, on the Islamic menace.

City Journal hosts a Christopher Hitchens review of the the Mark Steyn book, America Alone: The End of the World As We Know It. You can read the entire review here. There are at least ten possible posts buried in this review, but one of them is the Hitchens recommendations of a tune-up or as he says, sharpening of the Steyn thesis. Number 8., is particularly noteworthy. I have the Steyn book and am saving it for my next international flight. Here is Hitchens on Steyn:

1. An end to one-way multiculturalism and to the cultural masochism that goes with it. The Koran does not mandate the wearing of veils or genital mutilation, and until recently only those who apostasized from Islam faced the threat of punishment by death. Now, though, all manner of antisocial practices find themselves validated in the name of religion, and mullahs have begun to issue threats even against non-Muslims for criticism of Islam. This creeping Islamism must cease at once, and those responsible must feel the full weight of the law. Meanwhile, we should insist on reciprocity at all times. We should not allow a single Saudi dollar to pay for propaganda within the U.S., for example, until Saudi Arabia also permits Jewish and Christian and secular practices. No Wahhabi-printed Korans anywhere in our prison system. No Salafist imams in our armed forces.

2. A strong, open alliance with India on all fronts, from the military to the political and economic, backed by an extensive cultural exchange program, to demonstrate solidarity with the other great multiethnic democracy under attack from Muslim fascism. A hugely enlarged quota for qualified Indian immigrants and a reduction in quotas from Pakistan and other nations where fundamentalism dominates.

3. A similarly forward approach to Nigeria, São Tomé and Príncipe, and the other countries of Western Africa that are under attack by jihadists and are also the location of vast potential oil reserves, whose proper development could help emancipate the local populations from poverty and ourselves from dependence on Middle Eastern oil.

4. A declaration at the UN of our solidarity with the right of the Kurdish people of Iraq and elsewhere to self-determination as well as a further declaration by Congress that in no circumstance will Muslim forces who have fought on our side, from the Kurds to the Northern Alliance in Afghanistan, find themselves friendless, unarmed, or abandoned. Partition in Iraq would be defeat under another name (and as with past partitions, would lead to yet further partitions and micro-wars over these very subdivisions). But if it has to come, we cannot even consider abandoning the one part of the country that did seize the opportunity of modernization, development, and democracy.

5. Energetic support for all the opposition forces in Iran and in the Iranian diaspora. A public offer from the United States, disseminated widely in the Persian language, of help for a reformed Iran on all matters, including peaceful nuclear energy, and of assistance in protecting Iran from the catastrophic earthquake that seismologists predict in its immediate future. Millions of lives might be lost in a few moments, and we would also have to worry about the fate of secret underground nuclear facilities. When a quake leveled the Iranian city of Bam three years ago, the performance of American rescue teams was so impressive that their popularity embarrassed the regime. Iran’s neighbors would need to pay attention, too: a crisis in Iran’s nuclear underground facilities—an Iranian Chernobyl—would not be an internal affair. These concerns might help shift the currently ossified terms of the argument and put us again on the side of an internal reform movement within Iran and its large and talented diaspora.

6. Unconditional solidarity, backed with force and the relevant UN resolutions, with an independent and multi-confessional Lebanon.

7. A commitment to buy Afghanistan’s opium crop and to keep the profits out of the hands of the warlords and Talibanists, until such time as the country’s agriculture— especially its once-famous vines—has been replanted and restored. We can use the product in the interim for the manufacture of much-needed analgesics for our own market and apply the profits to the reconstruction of Afghanistan.

8. We should, of course, be scrupulous on principle about stirring up interethnic tensions. But we should remind those states that are less scrupulous—Iran, Pakistan, and Syria swiftly come to mind—that we know that they, too, have restless minorities and that they should not make trouble in Afghanistan, Lebanon, or Iraq without bearing this in mind. Some years ago, the Pakistani government announced that it would break the international embargo on the unrecognized and illegal Turkish separatist state in Cyprus and would appoint an ambassador to it, out of “Islamic solidarity.” Cyprus is a small democracy with no armed forces to speak of, but its then–foreign minister told me the following story. He sought a meeting with the Pakistani authorities and told them privately that if they recognized the breakaway Turkish colony, his government would immediately supply funds and arms to one of the secessionist movements—such as the Baluchis—within Pakistan itself. Pakistan never appointed an ambassador to Turkish Cyprus.


  1. 1. Great so far, but Multiculturalism is one way by design. Sweeping away cultural maschosim is a direct assault on the whole PC-multiculti-cultural relativity complex. This complex dominates our political left almost entirely, and is well embedded on the right as well (neocons). Tall order. A west convinced of its own worth would sweep the Islamoids away like so much dross.
    2. Yes. Hindustan is a sleeping giant.
    3. No, all sub-saharan africa is a bottomless pit that can hurt us, but cannot help us. Support againt Jihadi forces certainly, so that the Sudan-Somalia mess doesn't spread further.
    4. Unconditional support for the Kurds is extremly problematic. A crazed and hostile Turkey would more than offset any benefit from Kurdistan. Same problem for the northern alliance (who are Uzbek and Tajik, located next to the borders of Uzbekistan and Tajikstan), Baluchistan, the Pashtun split across Afghan and Paki.
    5. Interesting, while weakening Iran is beautiful, that is a tool not an endpoint. Much of the opposition in Iran would itself have an ethnic(seperatist) nature.
    6. Lebanon...Backed with force? Are we ready to fight Syria? Cause nothing else is liable to keep their hands off. Will any of that solve the inherant unstable mess of a society with a nightmare four way sectarian split? Probably no.
    7. That makes sense. Cheaper than fighting.
    8. Well, we are real close to Wilsonian rights of nations to self determination here. Remember Ralf Peter's nutty redraw the borders of the middle east article? It many ways it makes sense. Any multiethnic country has cohesion problems, when the only thing seperate communities have in common is a religion (like Islam)... figure that the nature of such country can only be dictatorial, religious or divided.

    The first part - ditch multicultism, PC and the neocon version thereof would change the rules of the game so far as to be unrecognizable.

    The only thing stopping wholesale redrawing of borders, punitive actions, creation of new countries is our reluctance to assert ourselves.

    And if being un-PC while backing friends, please let us start with the Christians. Maronites and Assyrians and Copts. They deserve unconditional support at least as much as Israel.

  2. fellow peacekeeper, regarding Point 5, it's not just the separatist nature that carries with it the threat of outright secessionism by the Baluchs, Azeris, Kurds. Instead, unconditional support for all opposition groups might include this:

    Iranian Opposition Group Says 132,000 Iranian Agents Working in Iraq

    Spokesperson for Mojahedin-e Khalq Organization (MKO) in Britain, Dawlat Nawruzi, disclosed that many high-ranking Iraqi Government officials and Iraqi politicians are working for Iran. She said they are among a "list of 132,000 agents who work for Iran inside Iraq." She added, "The MKO has obtained precise information about the names of the agents, their titles and financial allowances they receive from the Iranian Government."

    [...] She added, "We are a political organization that is fighting to achieve the rights and freedom of the Iranian people. We have lost hundreds of victims in our struggle against the Iranian regime. We have a network of significant contacts inside Iran and they have provided us with important and top secret information about a network of agents who are working for Iran. They include Iraqis and Iranians, and are scattered all over Iraq."

    Hates the mullahs, check. Operatives in Iran and Iraq - perfect for intel, check.

    But history betrays an entirely different story:

    Not just your friendly neighbourhood dissident

    The group has targeted Iranian government officials and government facilities in Iran and abroad; during the 1970s, it attacked Americans in Iran. While the group says it does not intentionally target civilians, it has often risked civilian casualties. It routinely aims its attacks at government buildings in crowded cities. MEK terrorism has declined since late 2001.

    [...] In the early 1970s, angered by U.S. support for the pro-Western shah, MEK members killed several U.S. soldiers and civilians working on defense projects in Iran. Some experts say the attack may have been the work of a Maoist splinter faction operating beyond the Rajavi leadership’s control. MEK members also supported the 1979 takeover of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran, in which 52 Americans were held hostage for 444 days.

    Old habits die hard, and if there's anyone who knows how to hold a grudge, it's the Arabs.

    We should be looking at the same rationale that we used for Syria: if the current Iranian regime is toppled, will we get anyone less radical?

    Not so hard to imagine, what with Ahmadinejad as the current whackjob. But for all his rhetoric, he has become rather predictable. We won't know for sure how long we'll take to figure out the modus operandi for whoever's taking over, but it might already be too late if they manage to deploy a few nuclear weapons in that time.

  3. The four deleted comments were repeats. There was no administrative intervention for purposes of thought control.

  4. 4. is troubling to me as well. I served with some Turks, they can be charming freinds and hell on earth as enemies, but what do you do for poeple that put it on the line for you?

  5. Eight men arrested in Birmingham anti-terror raids
    Adam Fresco, and Daniel McGrory of The Times

    Security services say they have foiled a suspected plot to kidnap and torture a British soldier who has recently been serving abroad before beheading him live on the internet.

    In a series of dawn raids eight men were arrested at several addresses in Birmingham at 4am. John Reid, the Home Secretary, has been informed of the arrests and is receiving regular updates about the operation.

    Security sources said that the carefully planned operation had averted the alleged plan to kill the soldier, which was in its later stages.

    The sources said that the alleged plotters planned to force their victim to plead for his life in online videos before torturing him and executing him much as Ken Bigley, the Liverpool hostage, was killed in Iraq in October 2004. The beheading would have been shown live on an extremist website.

  6. Put five points up on the board for Joe.

  7. We can make a video of the intervention and up load it to u-tube. We will use the sound track from Falco, :"Der kommisars"

  8. Man, an Iraqi vet was ALMOST spit upon and habu, at the BC, is going to guns, again.
    Just imagine if the vet was actually spit upon, much less beheaded.

    Good old habu and some of the other BC crowd, ready for armed insurection, in the name of patriotism. Much easier to shoot unarmed protesters that offend, then cow them on the field of counter protest.

    Kent State redux, only with US militiamen, instead of the Guard. habu & company wanting their own version of the Mahdi Army to join and play at.

    The idea of George Washington Brigade reborn on US soil. What a joy.

    Of all the things that would "change" US for the worse, better we burn the Enemy "over there", killing a million or so to end this War, then to allow an atmosphere of hate to be created, here.

  9. Talking about the "Islamic menace" is, IMO, the conservative version of political correctness. Like liberal PC, this weakens us by putting politics above military self-defense.

    What we had in the past, like world war II, was only enemies and allies, and they were only short term. Like aligning with one evil dictator, Stalin, to defeat another one, Hitler, before turning on Stalin.

    Right now we are getting a lot of intelligence from Muslim countries, as well as military support such as basing rights. We have the opportunity to divide the Muslims in two, Sunni / Shiite, the pain of which Iran & Hezbollah are already feeling.

    Before giving all these military advantages up, I'd want to make sure there were sound military reasons. Little political points and pay backs are not a reason to weaken ourselves militarily.

  10. Another danger from the liberal side is the neo-cons, who by definition are ex-liberals who became conservative because they decided to fight communism during the cold war.

    They seem to have a comic book attitude towards war, that the US can conquer any country in the morning, then be home for dinner. They had a plan laid out where we'd conquer the whole middle east, country by country.

    After what has happened in Iraq, and that we are so short on troops and equipment that there are barely 20,000 more troops for the "surge", it is amazing that some are still in the fantasy world where we could invade and occupy Iran, Syria, and part of Pakistan. This leads to the attitude that we never have to worry about making enemies, since we can beat anyone in 24 hours anyway.

  11. "We have the opportunity"

    The split is already there, has been for over a thousand years, nothing new there.

    The decision is whether we continue to support Dictactors and authoritive despots in the Sunni world, or not.

    If we decide to continue of the Course that the US has been on, since FDR, remaining the military vassel of the King of Saudi Arabia and the Pharoah of Eygpt, the unrest will continue.

    If we back the Shia revolutionaries, those that battled the despot in Iraq, rather than hanging them out to dry and die, as we did in '99. There are many who believe that we stregthen the Mullahs in Iran, taking that course.
    Past US performance in instrumental and heavily on the mind of our Iraqi "friends". The US and especially the Bush family proved to be especially feckless allies, to the Shia, before. The Shia of Iraq are, quite rationally, distrustful of US promises of future support.

  12. funny, loo, I have heard calls to destroy the Enemy in Iraq, Iran, Pakistan or Syria. Please supply, loo, an article where Occupation of those countries is seriously discussed.

    No where have I read calls to occupy those places, except by President Bush, in Iraq. Even he has come to see the Occupation as a "Slow Failure".

    War and Occupation do not have to be synanomous.

    World of difference, loo. Strawman arguments have no place here, amongst knowledgable Bar patrons.

    As Mr Bush said in '02, time is not on our side.

  13. The White House changed its mind and decided not to release the "mountain" of evidence against Iran.

    A plan by the Bush administration to release detailed and possibly damning specific evidence linking the Iranian government to efforts to destabilize Iraq have been put on hold, U.S. officials told FOX News.

    Officials had said a "dossier" against Iran compiled by the U.S. likely would be made public at a press conference this week in Baghdad, and that the evidence would contain specifics including shipping documents, serial numbers, maps and other evidence which officials say would irrefutably link Iran to weapons shipments to Iraq.

    Now, U.S. military officials say the decision to go public with the findings has been put on hold for several reasons, including concerns over the reaction from Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad — as well as inevitable follow-up questions that would be raised over what the U.S. should do about it.

  14. Plenty of neo-cons like at have talked about occupying the middle east a country at a time. President Bush's plan is to move the middle east to democracy, not destroy it. That is posted at

    As for destroying the enemy everywhere, that is a neo-con fantasy. Whether with atom bombs, troops we don't have, or scare tactics which have never worked, we can't just wave a magic wand and make the enemy go away.

  15. wu wei: After what has happened in Iraq, and that we are so short on troops and equipment that there are barely 20,000 more troops for the "surge", it is amazing that some are still in the fantasy world where we could invade and occupy Iran, Syria, and part of Pakistan.

    The Pentagon is investigating whether a recent attack on a military compound in Karbala was carried out by Iranians or Iranian-trained operatives. Iranian infiltrators are the new "WMD" type casus belli in Iraq. Bush is ramping up to a new front on the War on Terror, and the Dems will keep writing the checks like they have since 2003.

  16. What, loo, no Occupation stories to cut and paste?

    Of course the mountain has become a molehill, as predicted.
    The US Military now admitting to being intimidated by the Iranians.
    There being no acceptable solution short of War with Iran.

    The White House deciding that ignorance is bliss for the people of the US.

    Weak sisters all around.

  17. > What, loo, no Occupation stories to cut and paste?

    I gave the links, DR. Feel free to download all the stories you want.

  18. No matter what the Iranians do, we don't have troops. No one should blame me for it. I was surprised too to hear generals saying that coming up with 20,000 more troops for Iraq would "break the military".

    During world war II we had ten times more soldiers in uniform. Not my decision. I'm just pointing out reality. They also say our equipment is breaking down, with stuff being borrowed ahead from units due to deploy.

    It's easy to imagine an army with an infinite number of soliders and weapons, but that's not what we have. Talk about something like 200,000 or 300,000 fresh troops into Iran is just talk, because we don't have them.

  19. Wu, when we had the numbers of troops that we needed, we rarely had to use them. Viet Nam took us up to 650,000 in the field, and we still had another 2,500,000 in uniform. There seems to have been a miscalculation when the bean counters decided what the threat would be and what the numbers of fighting troops would be required to meet it. We have misallocated resources on a galactic scale.

    Some genius also came up with an idea that the Soviet payback would best be accomplished by using the religious zealotry oj the jihad as the source for the shock troops. That was fun when the mujahadeen was taking down Hind helicopters and butchering alive captured Soviet troops. No one thought that the warriors of God would enjoy the sport and seek additional targets.

    Now we are further down the road, brought there by the gang that did not bother to think straight, led by a straight shooter, the chief decider.

    Now we find ourselves in a reaction mode. The time and place of someone else's choosing. That is where we are. Yesterday I listened to Adm. Fallon ratchetting down expectations. That seems to be wise.

    I wish the President could recognize he is in way over his head, because he is.

    joe Buzz is correct in that it is easy to deconstruct, but in this case, IMO things would be a whole lot better with a new CEO. Without thta, not much is going to change for the better.

  20. There are quite a few things that have been recomended as a change of course, over the past three years. Most of those options have been lost, the window of opportunity closed, events moving on.

    Enhanced MTT program, with 15,000 US troops so tasked, instead of 1,500 or so, would have made a major diffference in the capacity and capabilities of the Iraqi Security force. It takes a year for the troops to be effectively trained.

    Increase funding to the men Seymour Hersh said were spreading cash to incite disorder in Iran.

    Supply arms to anyone in Iran that wants them, in pursuit of disorder, there. Criminal or patriot.

    Crush the Syrian armor capacity, from the air, as a lesson in border control.

    Clear those portions of Ramadi that are out of control, then destroy, raze, those areas. The rebuilding of the Sunni areas, the hold & build, can be financed by the Sauds. It would also take a big bite out of Iraqi unemployment, the rebuilding.

    Doze any building that is a source of incoming sniper fire.
    Shut down the road net in Iraq. Over two million cars have entered Iraq, since the invasion. No cars, no car bombs.

    Detain all prisoners for the duration, do not hand over Combatant detainees to the Iraqi criminal courts for quick release.

    Shooting people, in the US, is not at all an acceptable solution, despite habu's lust for it.
    Never has been acceptable, nor will it be.

  21. Deploy US troops to the combat area, for the duration of the War.

    Bet the Generals would take a different course, then.

  22. Raze every and all buildings within 500 meters of an IED explosion

  23. DR, anyone who was around for Kent State knows that the unfortunate killing of American student protestors by American National Guardsmen shocked the Nation. No serious person, in a stable state of mind would recommend such a thing.

  24. Where, when and who, loo, talks of deploying 200,000 or 300,000 troops to Iran?

    More strawmen deployed, by loo.

  25. If an occupation of Iran is required, have US troops sieze the oil fields, then let the Chinese occupy it. They need the oil from there, we do not.
    They can field the 300,000 men easily, having lost almost that many in two weeks, in Korea.

  26. We dealt the cards for Iraq, maybe we should just play them. We gambled by making German and Japan democracies. That's our way.

    Hand security over to the Iraqi government and let everyone know once and for all that it isn't our fault if one Iraqi shoots another.

    Before the hand over we should talk to all the players, inside and outside Iraq. We could cut written and unwritten deals like security guarantees, say that foreign countries wouldn't be allowed to invade. I assume that we would have basing rights, in Kurdistan if not elsewhere in Iraq.

    Then we keep troops there and play Iraq like any other mid east country.

  27. As to the Dems cutting the funding, it will happen this way.

    The "War" goes "on budget"

    "Pay as you go" will demand that taxes be raised to pay for it, or other areas of Federal spending cut.

    Mr Bush will veto the tax increase, which will be tied to the War funding, by Law.

    A replay of Newt vs Clinton, but with the MSM and the majority of the people on the Congress's side.

    Bush will be blamed for "Cutting the Funds" for the troops. Or accept a major tax increase, on his watch.
    Either wipes out the GOP in 08.

  28. Because the GOP never reformed "Baseline Budgeting" they will be corn holed by it, now that they've lost control.

  29. The GOP Senators can see it coming, they're no fools.
    This WaPo editorial discusses the beginning of the GOP meltdown.

    It will only accelerate as the problems cascade.

    The saddest part of this weeks story is the over whelming success that the Insurgents gained by that op in Karbala. The US now refusing to produce the "Smoking gun" if it ever had it. Out of fear of further retaliation.

    If, duece, you consider habu and his ilk serious, well there you are.
    True patriots ready to shoot the muslims amongst US, for being here and muslim.

    After 911, AZ had one of the few "hate" killings aimed at Mohammedans. A turbaned fellow was shot dead at a convience store. Trouble was the fellow was a Sikh from Punjab, India.

  30. habu has moved beyond killing just the muslims, now he is wanting to shoot the antiWar protesters, as well.
    So there you go.

  31. The big change we need is to keep cool and play for the long term. It's supposed to be a 20 year war on terror, and that's the way our enemies are playing it.

    Comparing it to football, the enemy is happy to gradually move the ball down the field with running plays, with a cloud of dust and a few yards gained by each. Our attitude seems to be that we will throw three long passes, then pull our players off the field and quit. This is because the pro-war people say running plays are sissy warfare, and both anti & pro-war folks agree that the US has lost if it doesn't score a touchdown in every series of downs. If we don't score a touchdown each time, then we have "lost", and the US rules say that when we have lost a war, then we must remove all troops from that country.

    My view is that Iran's going to be there a long time. Iraq is going to be there a long time. We don't need to be in a hurry. I think our enemies see that need for haste, and the need to swing into a total war, like if Iran killed our five troops, as a mistake by the US. Someone who gets goaded into over reacting or doing something that helps the enemy is seen as being weak, not strong, in the Arab world.

  32. Germany issues CIA arrest orders

    Mr Masri is seeking damages from the CIA
    Germany has ordered the arrest of 13 suspected CIA agents over the alleged kidnapping of one of its citizens.
    Munich prosecutors confirmed that the warrants were linked to the case of Khaled al-Masri, a German national of Lebanese descent.

    Mr Masri says he was seized in Macedonia, flown to a secret prison in Afghanistan and mistreated there.

    He says he was released in Albania five months later when the Americans realised they had the wrong man.

    Mr Masri says his case is an example of the US policy of "extraordinary rendition" - a practice whereby the US government flies foreign terror suspects to third countries without judicial process for interrogation or detention.

  33. Raze every and all buildings within 500 meters of an IED explosion.

    My sentiments exactly, d'Rat.

  34. Detain all prisoners for the duration, do not hand over Combatant detainees to the Iraqi criminal courts for quick release.

    What combatant detainees, d'Rat? There should be NO combatant detainees, period.

  35. See you next year, then, rufus.

    The shit is flowing fron Iraq and DC, it's just floating by, here.

    Comments on the quantity and size of the turds, disconcerting to some.

  36. Maliki admits Iranians are behind some attacks. (

    Iraq's prime minister said Wednesday he's sure Iran is behind some attacks on U.S. forces in Iraq and he won't allow his country to be a battleground for the two nations.

    "We have told the Iranians and the Americans, 'We know that you have a problem with each other, but we are asking you, please solve your problems outside Iraq,' " Nuri al-Maliki old CNN.

    "We will not accept Iran to use Iraq to attack the American forces," al-Maliki said Wednesday in an exclusive interview with CNN.

  37. Here is some good news. According to this report, the Democratic resolution against the Bush plan is "dead".

    It appears the original Iraq resolution, sponsored by Democratic Sen. Joe Biden and endorsed by Republican Chuck Hagel, is losing steam, CBS News correspondent Sharyl Attkisson reports. It expresses symbolic opposition to the president's troop increase.

    "It's dead, politically," said one Republican source.

    Gaining steam are a similar bipartisan proposal from Repubican Sen. John Warner and a new alternative being drafted by Republicans John McCain and Lindsey Graham.

    CBS News has learned the McCain-Graham resolution would "allow Republicans cover" by "admitting that the past strategy has failed." But it would support the president's troop surge. It would require Iraqi benchmarks like disarming the militia, allowing local community elections. It would not set out consequences because that, says one person close to the negotiations, "would empower the enemy."

  38. What negativity, rufus?

    I create the news?
    Or just know how to read, accurately?

    Me and Will Rogers, all we know is in the papers.

    You were ahead of the curve, in saying the Iranians were in Karbala. I was ahead in saying the evidence was a molehill, 'stead of a mountain.

    We were both correct. Which was the defeatist attitude? Certainly not the US Military saying they would not release it because, as loo linked

    '... concerns over the reaction from Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad — as well as inevitable follow-up questions that would be raised over what the U.S. should do about it. ..."

    Evidence of Iranian guilt is supressed by US. That makes me defeatist? The US releases enemy detainees. That makes me defeatist?

    Shoot the messenger, me, duece, whomever, if it makes you feel better.
    Advocate killing Americans of nonChristian descent and hoorah for those that advocate such actins. If that'll please your inner child.
    But, please then, do not get upset if the word nigger is used. Or lynchings occur due to the hoorah of the crowd.

  39. Perhaps it's that Mr Bush finally admitted he has committed the US to a course of "Slow Failure". But that was not my description, but his.

    That I agree with most of the HOP Senators, that the "Surge" is not and does not constitute a change of course. Or as this GOP Senator says:
    "... "We're all looking for a plan that will work," said Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.). "The current plan is not working, and 21,500 additional troops -- it's a snowball in July. It's not going to work." ..."

  40. So for rufus to badmouth GOP Senators, using me as the strawman, now that is news making.

  41. If the Elephant Bar closes in a year, it'll just be a precursor for the GOP.

  42. I can tell you this. I have been following politics, international and military affairs and economic trends for a long time. Everyday I try and focus on the relevant state of current events. I have to believe in the credibility of what I read. It must make sense to me, even if I find it disagreeable. I do not write fiction and by nature am an optimistic person.

    There is always some good news as there are always distractions from the daily grind of life. Gallows humor, is an expression based on fact.

    The one thing I will not do is buy into some politicians fantasy or propoganda. I am instictively distrustful of government. It is not a partisan issue with me, because there are so few politicians that I respect. Alan Simpson is about the only one I can think of, present or past, that I have any admiration for. Rick Santorum would be another.

    So it goes over here at the Elephant.

  43. Inertia, momentum, trendlines.

    They all add up in real life.

    If we ignore them, do they go away?

  44. Germany 1933 Redux:

    CARACAS (Reuters) - Venezuela's Congress on Wednesday gave initial approval to a bill granting President Hugo Chavez powers to rule by decree for 18 months as he tries to force through nationalizations key to his self-styled leftist revolution.

  45. Wu Wei: Talk about something like 200,000 or 300,000 fresh troops into Iran is just talk, because we don't have them.

    Put rifles into the hands of weekend warriors, squids and air force pukes. The total number of people in the US Armed forces is 2,685,713.

  46. Now you have to understand, barry, that 150,000 men and women in Iraq is 5.58% of the 2,685,713 total force.

    The military is streched to the breaking point.

    It is not the troops, the lack of equipment or the comments of bloggers that have caused the slow failure of US policy in Iraq.
    It is the Will and Resolve of our Leadership, both Civilian and Military that has to be questioned.

  47. Ayatollah Sistani: good news and reason for hope in Iraq? Future Nobel prize winner for bringing peace to Iraq? This column thinks so (quotes in bold):

    Iraq's Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani is a most remarkable man.

    Consider these attributes: a Muslim theologian who promotes democracy, an Iraqi Shia leader who supports national reconciliation, an international Shia luminary who believes Sunnis and Shias and Christians -- and human beings in general -- have reasons to cooperate and accommodate. In a just world, he would win a Nobel Peace Prize.

    British Maj. Gen. Andrew Graham said of Sistani in 2004: "The pro-democracy moderate Muslim cleric doesn't have to be found. That's Sistani. Fortunately, he is the most influential religious leader in Iraq."

    The columnist also believes that Iran and Sunni insurgents may have been involved in the Najaf terrorist plot, targeted at Sistani and others:

    Sistani offers a modernizing Shia alternative to Iran's radical leaders. That's why targeting Sistani immediately suggests a touch or two of Iranian involvement, at least in terms of funds and operational advice...

    We know from documents captured in February 2004 that al-Qaida saw a Sunni-Shia war as its only path to victory in Iraq. Saddam's supporters gambled that they could murder their way back into power by killing Iraqis and inciting ethnic as well as religious conflict. Saddam's holdouts have been trying to stage an "Iraqi Tet" since 2004, achieving a media-driven psychological victory that will force the United States to abandon Iraqi democrats.

    Do these disparate, philosophically antithetical rejectionist groups cooperate? Coalition intelligence analysts suspect they do -- at least at the wink-and-nod level. Iraqi democrats and clerics like Sistani are their common enemy -- a modernity and moderation that seeds their defeat. Shia clerics in Najaf told The New York Times that at least one Soldier of Heaven Shiite leader allied himself with Saddam Hussein in 1993. That's one open-source indication of cross-fertilization.

  48. > Once security is handed over - if it ever is - we're done in Iraq.

    Transerring security is already Bush and Maliki's stated policy. They've turned some provinces over to Iraq, and have agreed with a target of November for the rest.

    > ... that handover starts the clock on the last leg of Iraq's, and especially Baghdad's, descent into chaos.

    If that really is the choice of the Iraqis, then I don't think we or any one should try to stop them again. If the Sunnis are determined to try to continue to fight their way back in power, war is inevitable, just as they have made it so ever since Iraq was liberated.

    The reality is that war in Iraq must eventually stop some day. Peace will come some day.

    The only reason for us not to be there when that day arrives is politics and psychology. It's our own rule that I said above, that we feel like once we've started a war, that we need to score a touchdown right away or quit.

  49. The US takes another step forward in establishing wage controls, at the high end. Mr Bush says, while in NYC:

    "... President Bush took aim Wednesday at lavish salaries and bonuses for corporate executives, standing on Wall Street to issue a sharp warning for corporate boards to "step up to their responsibilities" and tie compensation packages to performance. ...
    "The fact is that income inequality is real. It has been rising for more than 25 years," the president said. "The earnings gap is now twice as wide as it was in 1980," Bush said, adding that more education and training can lift peoples' salaries. ...
    In his address, Bush said he realized that stories about the enormous salaries and other perks for CEOs, for instance, create anger and uncertainty that affect the country's investors.
    ... Bush highlighted new federal rules that the administration thinks are a better path toward wise compensation decisions by companies.

    "Government should not decide the compensation for America's corporate executives," he said. "But the salaries and bonuses of CEOs should be based on their success at improving their companies and bringing value to their shareholders." ..."

    More defeatism, I guess, the President no longer trusting the folk to manage their own porfolios, in their own best interest.
    No, he believes that the Compassionate Nanny State knows what is best for the investor.

    Now when the Dems tax of "taxing the rich" the GOP tells me they really mean the middle class.

    When Mr Bush speaks of how salaries are to be determined, that sounds about the same, to me. The same Federal coin, just the other side of it.

    The Compassion of Mr Bush's Conservatism is breath taking.

  50. What business is it of the Federal what I know about what when I decide to invest. If I do not like the companies disclousure or renumeration package info, or the lack of it, I can decide that, for myself. Only a Nanny State would think that I could not decide, without their Guidelines.

    Guidelines, rufus. Worse than Laws, as they are not voted upon, but established by the edict of unelected appointees.
    Creeping socialism and campassion for ignorant investors.

    As Mr Bush is quoted as saying:
    "... "... the salaries and bonuses of CEOs should be based on their success at improving their companies and bringing value to their shareholders." .."

    How can it be the Federals business to tell PRIVATE companies how they SHOULD base saleries and bonuses. It is not the business of the Federals, at all.

    Mr Bush goes beyond disclousure, to guidlines. Incrementalism the strategy of all US socialists and liberals.

    If Mr Bush's renumeration was based upon his success, bet we'd not be on the road to slow failure, overseas.

  51. Bush the good, little Socialist