“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."

Monday, January 15, 2007

"...I think America is defeated in Iraq." Michael Scheurer

"...I think America is defeated in Iraq."

Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty has two very interesting interviews. One was done on January 8, 2007 with former CIA analyst and author Michael Scheurer. The other interview from December, 2006 is with Bruce Hoffman, an expert on terrorism at Washington's Georgetown University and the author of "Inside Terrorism,"

Scheurer's interview is an interesting read. In it, he says "...I think America is defeated in Iraq." Not only in Iraq, but also, he thinks in Afghanistan too. He says, this is why he wrote his forthcoming book, "From Pandora's Box: America and Militant Islam After Iraq."

In the short interview, Scheurer says:
  • That we have failed to understand the nature of our enemy.
  • Our presence in the Islamic world is the greatest motivation for the enemy.
  • The only reason Bin-Laden hasn't hit us again even harder is that he hasn't been ready.
  • "The United States has never had a better ally than General Musharraf."
  • The purpose of rendition was originally to get "bad guys" off the street.
  • Our leaders cannot bring themselves to understand and say that this is a religious war.
    "...the war we're fighting against Al-Qaedaism is a more serious problem than we have imagined to date. And that it has much more to do with religion than anyone in power is willing to talk about."
    Scheuer: The primary goal of Al-Qaeda and the movement it has tried to inspire around the world has been to create Islamic governments in the Islamic world that govern according to their religion. And bin Laden's view on this is that those governments -- the government of Egypt, the government of Saudi Arabia, the government of Jordan, Algeria, right down the line -- only survive because the United States protects them, and Europe protects them. Either with money, diplomatic and political support, or military protection.

    And bin Laden's goal has been to simply hurt the United States enough to force us to look at home, to take care of things here, and thereby prevent us from supporting those governments, which he -- and I think the vast majority of Muslims -- regard as oppressive police states.

    Once America is removed from that sort of support, Al-Qaeda intends to focus on removing those governments, eliminating Israel, and the third step, further down the road: settling scores with what the Sunni world regards as heretics in the Shi'ite part of the Islamic world. So his vision for the world, and the vision they're pursuing, is a very clear and orderly one, at least from their perspective.

    RFE/RL: Tell me about the book you're working on, it's called "From Pandora's Box: America And Militant Islam After Iraq." What does that title mean?

    Scheuer: Well, the Bush administration, the media, [and] the Democrats have talked a lot about the unintended consequences of invading Iraq. And the book is basically an effort to say: yes, there have been unintended consequences -- but they weren't unpredictable consequences.

    What I'm trying to describe in the book is that we just have a simple failure here to understand our enemy and the world we deal with.

    RFE/RL: And the use of the phrase "after Iraq" refers to a time when the United States is no longer in that country?

    Scheuer: The book is written because I think we're defeated in Iraq. I think we're simply looking for a way to be graceful about the exit, but it's going to be very clear to our opponents in the Islamic world that they've defeated the second superpower.

    They defeated the Soviet Union in Afghanistan; they've defeated us in Iraq; and it looks very likely that they'll defeat us in Afghanistan. And so Iraq, for all intents and purposes, as far as our enemies are concerned, is over.
    Both Scheurer and Hoffman state that US presence is an irritant in the Muslim world. Well, duh, but I do agree with Hoffman on a couple of points. One: The first step toward democracy is providing security. And two: It's not enough to "clear"; you must be able to "hold."
    RFE/RL: The Taliban has made a strong comeback in Afghanistan. Are we losing the war on terrorism in that country, which is the first place the United States intervened after 9/11?

    Hoffman: Well, certainly, there's been an enormous backsliding in Afghanistan. Not only a spike in insurgent activity, but suicide terrorist attacks, which were unheard of in Afghanistan, are now multiplying with a singularly disturbing frequency.

    I think Afghanistan is demonstrating, just as Iraq has, that it's not enough to have forces there that do the clearing. They also have to do the holding, which means you have to have sufficient forces that can provide security and stability for the population so they're not preyed upon by the insurgents, so that they feel confidant in the government's ability to discharge the fundamental expectations that citizens throughout the world have of their governments -- that's to protect them and defend them, to provide security so they can get on with their lives, so that they can engage in daily commerce, so that they can socialize.

    That I see as one of the biggest threats, and why our adversaries think they will eventually triumph, because they feel that they can eventually wear us down, or that we can't protect every target all the time, or they believe they have the impunity to strike anywhere, at any time.

    Two more opinions in a world full of opinions. I don't know anything about Hoffman, but I respect Scheurer's opinions. Not that I agree with everything he says, but by and large I find him to be very reasonable and measured. That's why his opinion of the outcome in Iraq and Afghanistan is such a bummer. As I have said before, the coming years will see terror attacks and little hot wars on the frontiers between Islam and its intended victims ala Somalia and Ethiopia. That is until, some fool gets his hands on a nuclear device.


    1. "One: The first step toward democracy is providing security. And two: It's not enough to 'clear'; you must be able to 'hold.'"

      You forgot the step right before all of those, you have to beat the living snot out of the test nation (Japan, Germany) so that they have no more fight in them and are ready for peace at any price. Only then will they help you 'hold'.

    2. The United States has been using mercenaries in Somalia. That is a subject about which I would like to learn a good deal more.



    3. > And two: It's not enough to "clear"; you must be able to "hold."

      True, because nothing we could do to the Iraqi, including using nuclear weapons, could ever scare that Iraqi as much as the terrorist who is holding the gun to his head right now. Any remote pain or pleasure the government in the Green Zone might bring means nothing when his Al Qaeda next door neighbor is watching his house, ready to torture his whole family to death.

      Whoever controls the neighborhood controls Iraq. Recognizing that is the brilliance of counterinsurgency tactics, IMO.

    4. Lord Acton,

      Well said.

      While the administration has chosen to use the flypaper analogy for Iraq, I much prefer the bug zapper. This, I believe, follows your train of thought. When folk ask why the US is fighting in Iraq, Somalia, etc, the answer is really simple: that is where "they" are.

    5. lord acton,

      There is in play, from time to time, the canard that holds the US must be wrong to be confronting Islamofascism in Iraq or it would have more allies. In fact, during the West’s 1400 year struggle against Islam, more often than not it has been one or a handful of Christian states fighting while the rest of Europe took a pass.

    6. Rufus said, "Is it a failure that we took out Saddam's awful government, insured that he would never again threaten his neighbors (Nukes, or no,) ..."

      There are many awful governments around the world. In Iraq's case, their army was 1/3 of the power it had before Gulf 1, there where 2 no-fly zones, and the US had a heavy presence in Kuwait and elsewhere, so Iraq could not threaten anyone. If they tried to make a reactor we would have taken it out as a matter of course.

      "...and gave Democracy to an oil-rich country of twenty-five million in the heart of the middle east..."

      There's only one other Arab democracy in the whole world, and it's Palestine. Hoo boy!

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    8. The United States successfully prosecuted the war in Iraq.

      Since the various Iraqi parties thoroughly distrust and hate one another, the United States will remain in Iraq for many years as guarantor of the peace, flawed though it is. While Mr. Maliki or others may want the US to leave, the votes to carry such a motion will not be found.

      At this point, the justification or lack thereof for going to war is irrelevant. The United States must find a compelling rationale for staying and ultimately it will. Incredibly, it may be a Hillary Clinton who makes the case. Incidentally, Senator Clinton spent the weekend in Afghanistan.

    9. Sorry Allen, but the United States DID NOT successfully prosecute the war in Iraq. Going from a projected top cost of $50 billion USD, to an actual cost of $500 billion USD, is not what I would call proceeding successfully in a war. Plus, the various Iraqi factions already distrusted and thoroughly hated one another.

      The US should NOT remain in Iraq as guarantor of the peace. Rather, the United States should remain in Iraq as guarantor of a winner it finds to its liking.

    10. Mat,

      The United States destroyed organized Iraqi government opposition within weeks of the commencement of hostilities. That was victory. What followed from that victory to the present does not affect this reality.

      I did not suggest the role of guarantor for the United States. Instead, I suggested it functions in that de facto role at the will of the other parties. I did not suggest that the distrust and hatred of the other parties developed as the result of the war. Instead, I suggested that Islamic sectarian antipathy placed the United States in the enviable position of arbiter. To the extent this role creates an environment where neither the Iranians nor Saudis become ascendant the United States benefits.

      As Britain did so well for centuries in its continental policy, the interest of the United States would be best served in maintaining a balance of power among the competing, equally distasteful parties. If this means manipulatively juggling the needs and wants of the other parties, so be it.

      Since Iran and Saudi Arabia and their proxies are the enemies of the United States, which proxy(ies) should be chosen to govern Iraq?

    11. Michael Scheurer has one perspective. More important is what others thinks....

      "The Western man today has no stomach for a fight; This phenomenon is not new: All empires produce this type of man, the self-centered, materialist, and risk-averse man."

      "The Western regimes lack popular legitimacy," Abbasi told his audience. "The Western economy is based on shaky foundations that depend on oil. Divisions within the Western camp, the West's economic fragility, and the distrust of the people (in Western countries) toward their governments render their side vulnerable."

      “We have a strategy drawn up for the destruction of Anglo-Saxon civilization…. we must make use of everything we have at hand to strike at this front by means of our suicide operations or by means of our missiles. There are 29 sensitive sites in the U.S. and in the West. We have already spied on these sites, and we know how we are going to attack them.”
      (Hassan Abbassi, Revolutionary Guards intelligence advisor to the President, May 28, 2004)

      The world of Islam has been mobilized against America for the past 25 years. The peoples call, "death to America." Who used to say "death to America?" Who, besides the Islamic Republic and the Iranian people, used to say this? Today, everyone says this.”
      (Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, June 24, 2004)

      “The Americans are convinced that they will easily win the war in Iraq. But they will not see that day. As the Imam [Khomeini] said, 'One day the U.S. too will be history.” (Iranian Leader Ali Khamenei May 20, 2004)

      “Such people are using words like ‘it's not possible'. They say how could we have a world without America and Zionism? But you know well that this slogan and goal can be achieved and can definitely be realized.”(Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, October 26, 2005)

      Iran's missiles are now ready to strike at their civilization, and as soon as the instructions arrive from Leader [Ali Khamenei], we will launch our missiles at their cities and installations.” (Hassan Abbassi, Revolutionary Guards intelligence advisor to the President, May 28, 2004)

      “Every Muslim and every honorable man who is not a Muslim must stand against the Americans, English, and Israelis, and endanger their interests wherever they may be….They must not have security.” (Ayatollah Ahmad Jannati, Secretary General, Guardian Council, June 6, 2004)

      “Some 10,000 people have registered their names to carry out martyrdom operations on our defined targets… Our targets are mainly the occupying American and British forces in the holy Iraqi cities, all the Zionists in Palestine, and Salman Rushdie.” - (Mohammad Ali Samadi, Spokesperson, Committee for the Commemoration of Martyrs of the Global Islamic Campaign, June 5, 2004)

      “Islam makes it incumbent on all adult males, provided they are not disabled or incapacitated, to prepare themselves for the conquest of countries so that the writ of Islam is obeyed in every country in the world... those who study Islamic Holy War will understand why Islam wants to conquer the whole world.” - (Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini)

      “We are in the process of an historical war between the World of Arrogance [i.e. the West] and the Islamic world, and this war has been going on for hundreds of years.” (Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, October 26, 2005)

      “The message of the (Islamic) Revolution is global, and is not restricted to a specific place or time. It is a human message, and it will move forward. Have no doubt ... Allah willing, Islam will conquer what? It will conquer all the mountain tops of the world.” - Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, July 25, 2005.

    12. There was no Iraqi opposition to the US invasion. If there was, your US generals would have gone down as possibly the most reckless commanders in the history of warfare. It could have turned really ugly for the US if the Iraqis had chosen to fight.

      The Shiia badly need the US. But neither the Shiia nor the Sunni Islamists are the friends of the US. The US should stand clear of both. Without the US acquiescence, there would be no smuggling of southern Iraqi oil, and no revenue to fight to Sunnis. Without local Iraqi oil revenues, the Iranians would be forced to show their hand in Iraq in a much more blatant and obvious fashion. As it is, it is the US that is being played by Iran, allowing the Iranians to keep their mask of denial.

    13. “Neither Moscow nor Beijing has the remotest desire to see the US withdraw from the region or lose power, for two reasons.”

      “‘They [civil wars] can bring lasting peace by destroying the will to fight and by removing the motives and opportunities for further violence.’"

      If you so dumb, how come you ain't poor?

    14. The options available to the US for dealing with the Taliban residing in Pakistan have been heretofore circumscribed because Pakistan is a Sunni nuclear power, in no small measure due to the support of Wahhabist Saudi Arabia. Every equation has two separated identities; therefore, it is incumbent upon us all to never forget that any solution must deal simultaneously with both sides of the equation.

    15. My calculus must be different because I have both the Wahhabists and Khomeinists on the same side of the equation with the differential being time and money.

    16. "There was no Iraqi opposition to the US invasion. If there was, your US generals would have gone down as possibly the most reckless commanders in the history of warfare. It could have turned really ugly for the US if the Iraqis had chosen to fight. "

      Mat, with respect, I must disagree with your conclusion. Had the Iraqis elected to offer more than token resistance, we'd have seen a repeat of Desert Storm. The problem for the Iraqis was that, despite having MUCH more time to prepare for an invasion because of that multi-month-long U.N. circle jerk that preceded it, they had not yet recovered from the incredible beating they suffered while being evicted from Kuwait.

      There was no resistance in part because of the memory of what happened to them in Kuwait combined with the sorry state in which their military found itself.

      The warplanners correctly anticipated this would be the case, and designed a regime-change war-fighting strategy on that basis. Had Iraq regulars possessed more armor and less recollection of recently having the holy sh!t kicked out of them, their defense posture would have demonstrated such, and the plan for going in would have been adjusted accordingly.

      Now, on the other hand, with respect to occupation planning... ewwww.

    17. Rufus,

      The Iranians found themselves a real winner. They're happy to allow their winner double and triple the stakes; bet the car, the house, the wife. Afterall, they have the US to keep rigging the game in their favor.

    18. I donno, Tiger. The Iraqis, had they prepared the US an ambush, could have carried it in a spectacular fashion. The point being, they should not have been given such an opening. They didn't take advantage of that opportunity, but the opportunity was there, and it shouldn't have been.

    19. Posted at BC; plausible scenario?

      Washington ups the military stakes against Iran, plans deployment of 600 Patriot anti-missile missiles in Middle East. And the White House is making sure that Adm. Fallon has plenty of resources to deploy, a veritable buildup, the second in four months, in the Persian Gulf and other waters opposite Iran.

      The USS John C. Stennis strike group is heading for the Persian Gulf with a mighty air arm of 9-10 fighter-bomber squadrons. Saturday, some sources reported that another task force, the USS Ronald Reagan Strike Group, had been ordered out of Sand Diego on Jan. 4 and was heading in the same direction.

      Military observers in the US and Middle East noted that the group’s commander, Rear Adm. Michael H. Miller, reiterated: “When we deploy for real-world operations, Carrier Strike Group 7 will be an example of how the Navy is able to carry out our mission any time, anywhere in the world.”

      Iran could launch successive waves of explosives-packed boats against U.S. warships in the Gulf, piloted by "Ashura" or suicide bombers.
      The first wave can draw on more than 1,000 small fast-attack boats operated by the Revolutionary Guards navy, equipped with rocket launchers, heavy machine-guns and possibly Sagger anti-tank missiles. In recent years, the Iranians have used these small boats to practice "swarming" raids on commercial vessels and U.S. warships patrolling the Persian Gulf.

      A second wave of suicide attacks could be carried out by "suicide submarines" and semi-submersible boats, before Iran deploys its Russian-built Kilo-class submarines and Chinese-built Huodong missile boats to attack U.S. warships. The 114-foot Chinese boats are equipped with advanced radar-guided C-802s, a sea-skimming cruise-missile with a 60-mile range.

      Iran's naval strategists believe the U.S. will attempt to land ground forces to the east of Bandar Abbas. Their plans call for extensive use of ground-launched tactical missiles, coastal artillery, as swell as strategic missiles aimed at Saudi Arabia and Israel tipped with chemical, biological and possibly nuclear warheads. The Iranians also plan to lay huge minefields across the Persian Gulf inside the Strait of Hormuz, effectively trapping ships that manage to cross the Strait before they can enter the Gulf, where they can be destroyed by coastal artillery and land based "Silkworm" missile batteries.

      Today, Iran has sophisticated EM-53 bottom-tethered mines, which it purchased from China in the 1990s. The EM-53 presents a serious threat to major U.S. surface vessels, since its rocket-propelled charge is capable of hitting the hull of its target at speeds in excess of 70 miles per hour. Some analysts believe it can knock out a U.S. aircraft carrier.

      "I think it would be problematic for any navy to face a combination of mines, small boats, anti-ship cruise missiles, torpedoes, coastal artillery, and Silkworms," said retired Navy Commander Joseph Tenaglia, CEO of Tactical Defense Concepts, a maritime security company. "This is a credible threat."

    20. Oakleaf has another post on the surge:

      The Surge’s “General Architect” Responds

      The third comment down, by "tom c" caught my eye. Here's the meat of it:

      "If you have a bully in the neighborhood, and have to confront him to be able to reside peacefully, you hit him as hard as possible in the nose when he is not looking. Now, if he thinks he will not be hit again, he will look to gain his advantage back. So before he has a chance to think about anything but the pain in his nose, you kick him as hard as possible in his family jewels, really drive them up in his throat. Now you are beginning to gain the advantage, but your work is not done. Kick him in the stomach and knock the breath out of him. While he is holding his cogs and writhing with his new agony, you him again in his nose in case he forgot how bad that hurt. Now you have his attention, and he is thinking about peace."

      A bit more of this would be a significant step in the direction of victory, IMHO.

      Unfortunately, surge or no surge, I have no illusions of this sort of strategy being employed against our enemies.

      We're going to have to suffer through a 2nd and maybe even a 3rd mass casualty event before our leaders and the WussHalf of the country gets serious about this. Thousands of innocents will die in the meantime, and their blood will be on the hands of the jihadists, our own leadership, and a significant number of our fellow citizens.

      A storm's a-comin'...

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    22. "...they should not have been given such an opening."

      You're spot on, Mat. Spot ON!

    23. Allen,

      Ahh, statistics. So, how many Serbian tanks and hostile Radar systems did NATO destroy in Kosovo? :D

    24. allen, thanks for the link.

      If, hypothetically, the Persian Gulf were to go up in flames and the price of oil were to double, the US economy would tumble into recession. China's even more oil-sensitive economy would experience a double blow, in the form of higher energy costs and reduced exports to its major markets in the industrial world. By the same token, if Central Asia were to slide into chaos, the biggest loser would be Russia.

      Russia and China will bargain hard in return for providing cooperation to the United States, as I wrote on January 2, but their interests ultimately overlap with America's sufficiently to create a concert of nations to contain Iran.

      You can trust Russia to do everything in their power to prevent Syria and Iran from having substantial nuclear processing capabilities - Putin wants to preserve the advantages Russia has in the industry, and will not willingly or readily give up trade secrets.

      At the urging of the United States, the Russians insisted that the Iranians purchase the nuclear fuel from Russian companies and return the spent fuel to Russia for disposal. Now Russia has almost finished building a reactor at Bushehr, but because of the spent-fuel arrangement the Iranians will not be able to get material for nuclear weapons from it.

      That means the Bushehr reactor is not a proliferation problem on par with Iran's plant at Natanz. This plant, not Bushehr, is the main problem for the International Atomic Energy Agency.

      The acknowledgment of a proxy war between Russia and America must also take into account that neither nation wants to deal with a nuclear-tipped Iran amidst a sea of paranoid nuclear states in the Gulf in a fragile balance of terror that could very well extend beyond the Middle East - as long as Russia and the US view Iran as a bigger threat than each other; as long as its leaders remember the lessons of the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962 - they know that balance of terror may result in catastrophic annihilation - perhaps a global thermonuclear holocaust.

      Putin is much more coldly calculating, devious and rational than Ahmadinejad. You can at least trust him not to bring about a third world war.

    25. Mat,

      If you wish to debate facts, you need facts. If you wish to throw crap against the wall in support of an opinion, you do not need facts. I prefer facts.

      In 21 days the United States crushed organized Iraqi resistance and won the war. To accomplish this, the United States suffered hundreds of casualties and the Iraqis thousands. Those are facts. To say "There was no Iraqi opposition to the US invasion" is not only erroneous but demeaning to all those who paid the price.

    26. Sound like Sadr City?

      (The Pentagon as Global Slumlord
      By Mike Davis)

      The young American Marine is exultant. "It's a sniper's dream," he tells a Los Angeles Times reporter on the outskirts of Fallujah. "You can go anywhere and there so many ways to fire at the enemy without him knowing where you are."

      "Sometimes a guy will go down, and I'll let him scream a bit to destroy the morale of his buddies. Then I'll use a second shot."

      "To take a bad guy out," he explains, "is an
      incomparable 'adrenaline rush.'" He brags of having "24 confirmed kills" in the initial phase of the brutal U.S. onslaught against the rebel city of 300,000 people.

      The four armed services, coordinated by the Joint Staff Urban Working Group, launched crash programs to master street-fighting under realistic third-world conditions. "The future of warfare," the journal of the Army War College declared, "lies in the streets, sewers, high-rise buildings, and sprawl of houses that form the broken cities of the world."

      Israeli advisors were quietly brought in to teach Marines, Rangers, and Navy Seals the state-of-the-art tactics -- especially the sophisticated coordination of sniper and demolition teams with heavy armor and overwhelming airpower -- utilized by the Israeli Defense Forces in Gaza and the West Bank.

      This tactical "Israelization" of U.S. combat doctrine has been accompanied by what might be called a "Sharonization" of the Pentagon's worldview. Military theorists are now deeply involved in imagining how the evolving capacity of high-tech warfare can contain, if not destroy, chronic "terrorist" insurgencies rooted in the desperation of growing megaslums.

    27. Ok Allen, what are the facts? What percentage of Iraq's army did you manage to kill? It's easy math. Total Iraqi men in uniform killed divided by total Iraqi men in uniform, times 100%. Is it above or bellow 5%?

    28. Or Russia could be the biggest loser. The Russian are facing 100 million muslims inside and immediately surrounding Russia. The same money that is financing the neoSoviets also finances Jihad. But with high energy prices, maybe there's hope the drive for alternative energy might be taken taken seriously.

    29. What would an air campaign look like?

      It could consist of 60 stealth aircraft (B-2s, F-117s, F-22s) and more than 400 nonstealth strike aircraft, including B-52s, B-1s, F-15s, F-16s, Tornados, and F-18s. Roughly 150 refueling tankers and other support aircraft would be deployed, along with 100 unmanned aerial vehicles for intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance, and 500 cruise missiles. In other words, overwhelming force would be used.

      Among the weapons would be the new 28,000-pound bunker busters, 5,000-pound bunker penetrators, 2,000-pound bunker busters, 1,000-pound general purpose bombs, and 500-pound GP bombs. A B-2 bomber, to give one example, can drop 80 of these 500-pound bombs independently targeted at 80 different aim points.

      Iran would find it difficult to defend against US forces using cruise missiles, stealth aircraft,
      stand-off precision weapons, and assets necessary to strike and restrike Iranian targets in near real time. For example, each US B-2A Spirit stealth bomber could carry eight 4,500lb enhanced BLU-28 satellite-guided bunker-busting bombs – potentially enough to take out one hardened Iranian site per sortie. Such bombers could operate from flying from Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean, RAF Fairford in
      Gloucestershire and Whiteman USAF base in Missouri.

      It is not clear such weapons could destroy all of Iran’s most hardened underground sites,
      although it seems likely that the BLU-28 could do serious damage at a minimum. Much depends
      on the accuracy of reports that Iran has undertaken a massive tunneling project with some 10,000
      square meters of underground halls and tunnels branching off for hundreds of meters from each
      hall. Iran is reported to be drawing on North Korean expertise, and to have created a separate
      corporation (Shahid Rajaei Company) for such tunneling and hardening efforts under the IRGC,
      with extensive activity already underway in Natanz and Isfahan. The facilities are said to make
      extensive use of blast-proof doors, extensive divider walls, hardened ceilings, 20 cm-thick
      concrete walls, and to use double concrete ceilings with earth fill between layers to defeat earth
      penetrators. Such passive defenses could have a major impact, but reports of such activity are often premature, exaggerated, or report far higher construction standards than are actually executed.

    30. Rufus,

      Yeah, it's VERY nice. It also adds an extended range. Some 30% or more, if I remember correctly

    31. elijah,

      The problem is not hiting the target, it is finding it. And that is the real problem with Iran.

    32. And that's why I think a slow methodical strangulation of Iran is the way to go.

    33. Or they managed to subcontract to others.

    34. Rufus, it seems very strange to me that all these maneuvers are always being announced and nothing comes of it. Is the US using the boy wolf tactic? :D

    35. Trish, I get the feeling that you just like to knit.

    36. Rufus

      I tell our friend Buddy: A wise man is just an old fool that grew tired of life. He's nice enough not to scold me. :)

    37. Technology Will Be Key to Iraq Buildup (David A. Fulghum)

      Any U.S. military surge in Iraq will be far more than a troop increase.

      A key element in the deployment will be an accelerated effort to bring more and newer technologies to bear on the foe, in part by targeting insurgent commanders, often through their communication networks, say Pentagon and aerospace industry specialists. Even the F-22 with its advanced electronic surveillance and analysis capability is being considered for deployment into theater from Okinawa this year during the stealth fighter's first air expeditionary force assignment.

      The Pentagon is scrambling--in tandem with a crash reworking of the 2008 President's budget, due in February--to make sure that the ground force in Iraq, enlarged by 21,500 troops, will "have more advanced technology tools to work with," says a retired U.S. Army official with insight into the service's preparations. "There's certainly going to be more precision weapons available and more special operations teams that can provide precision targeting." But what the military really will be focusing on are electronic emitters, primarily communications used by insurgents.

      One goal of the technology infusion in Iraq will be to decapitate the leadership of some insurgent cells quickly and map their communications to reveal additional layers of their networks. Well before the White House's call for troop increases last week, the military and industry were conducting an urgent examination of sensors and weapons that could provide more network-centric-based options for increasing the clout of what's expected to be a relatively small and difficult-to-sustain increase in ground forces.

      "Will there be more airpower going to Iraq in the next days, weeks, months? Hell, yes," says a senior Air Force official. "The plan is to clear some insurgent areas and militia strongholds in Baghdad and keep them cleared. There will be precision weapons applied wherever there's an enclave, a storage area or logistics activity--boom, boom, boom. It will be fixed-wing attack of critical targets within urban areas."

      In fact, the number of suitable weapons for precision attacks with minimum collateral damage is growing. The 250-lb. Small-Diameter Bomb (SDB) made its debut in theater last year, providing close air support to ground troops. Meanwhile, the Air Force continues work on a new variant called the Focused Lethality Munition (FLM), which will combine an SDB casing with a new explosive fill that will confine the weapon's blast effects to within 100 ft. of its detonation point. Boeing is the contractor for both SDB and FLM.

      A surge in aviation would accompany any increases in ground forces, agrees former Air Force chief of staff, Gen. (ret.) John Jumper. "The numbers of locations, of patrols, the tasking through the combatant commander are accompanied by everything that goes along with that--more logistics, fuel and support from the air and sea," he says.

      But it would be incorrect to portray the surge as sending in technology that has been withheld from the conflict so far, Jumper says. There could be acceleration of some technologies, but anything new will more likely be the product of a decades-long effort to fuse and integrate sensor and network-centric technology....

    38. > I actually find the idea of expanding the war militarily while we are hip-deep in shit across a few countries already...goofy.

      Yes, blog talk often seems to be "fantasy war", based in an imaginary world where we have an infinite number of soldiers and weapons, an infinite war budget, public support for fighting in dozens of countries, etc.

      Meanwhile in the real world, the commander-in-chief had to pull rank and use the full weight of his office to get a mere 20,000 extra troops for Iraq. The generals and Congress are rebelling and still might not give the troops, and might even stop the Iraq War, because everyone just admitted that our military is way too small and it will take years to fix. The president's approval rating is rock bottom and even his party is not supporting his 20k troop request, an amount of troops which no one thinks is enough. The Democrats who run Congress now spend most of their time trying to find the best way to shut the War down, and already said they don't want fighting in Iran or Syria.

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    41. The topic is "Are we defeated in Iraq?" It doesn't seem like it, because the Democrats are now saying that we shouldn't withdraw all the troops!

      One of their leaders said they want to change the Iraq mission "from combat to training, to fighting terrorism, to protecting our forces".

      State of Union Address