“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."

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Iraq - It's all about the Money

After a 7 year campaign to defeat George Bush, the left, led by Democrats and aided by the MSM have apparently succeeded in obfuscating the true reasons for invading Iraq and deposing Saddam Hussein. If polls are to be believed, a majority of the public have finally been convinced that invading was a mistake and that continued efforts to establish a sustainable government there are no longer worth the effort. Lost in the tumult of politics, and the continuous, agenda-driven political analysis in lieu of hard news reportage, is the memory of the fears and uncertainties of a traumatized country after 9/11.

In a column, Lt. Colonel Scott Rutter reminds us that the reasons for seeing the job done are the same as they were before we invaded Iraq:
The most fundamental element in raising an Army is money. By extension, the United States has the most powerful Armed Forces in the world. We can claim that we are the smartest and the most organized. We can claim that our democracy fosters the decisions that portend strength in the Armed Forces. But, at the very foundation, our nation’s military strength is based on our capitalist society grounded in the continued pursuit of monetary wealth. Period.

It is interesting to speculate on the reasons that we really went to War with Saddam Hussein. Some would argue it was because of WMD’s, in retribution for 9/11, to quash the terrorists, or to kill a brutal dictator. All of these are valid reasons, and all were part of the mix when the U.S. made that decision in 2003. But, in selecting Iraq, the President made an interesting choice. This decision will prove to be pivotal and vital in the history of mankind.

The connection between money and Iraq is clear. If we go back to 9/11, the intricate details necessary to carry out such a plot required patience and money. The “insurgents” in Iraq require money. The attack in 1996 on the US military barracks at Khobar Towers in Saudi Arabia, 2000 attack on the U.S.S. Cole, 1993 attack on the World Trade Center and the 1998 attacks on U.S. Embassies in Nairobi, Kenya, and Dar Es Saalam, Tanzania all required money. Lots of money.
Read the whole thing.

I agree that George W. Bush is not a conservative. His attitude toward government spending has been appalling. His attitude towards illegal immigration has been deceitful and despicable. I realize that mistakes have been made in the prosecution of the war but few if any wars have been flawless. But no matter how you feel about him on the other issues, he deserves support in his efforts to bring security to Baghdad. Yes, ultimately, these efforts may not succeed and Iran may solely wield power and influence over that "dysfunctional country." Bush may yet be defeated by his foes, both foreign and domestic, but before that happens, the country needs to be reminded that what's really at stake here is much bigger than seeing the "village idiot tarred, feathered and sent back to Crawford on a rail."


  1. "We must secure the borders"

    Come on, this is old news. doug and I have been harping on that point for well over two years or more. As concerns both Syria and Iran. Also the KSA, for that matter.
    The Golden Chain and logistic support of both the Iraqi Insurgents and aQ.

    There is no magic bullet, just time. We have mismanaged our allottment. The Insurgency has raged for 42 months, now, and only recently has talk of securing borders and cutting supply lines echoed amongst others in the blogsphere & the Federal Government's employees.
    Years late and Billions USD short.

    Would that some of the suggestions floating now had been implemented in '03, not studied until '07.

    Listen to the wind, that sound you hear, it's the quacking of a whole herd of ducks. Each one limping along, looking for the way to stay in play.

    Mr Bush and his "new" Generals have until June, maybe July. The support for the "New Way Forward", though tentative will grow with percieved success. If there is no visable success, by then, look for the politicos in the GOP to start positioning themselves for '08.

    Mr Coleman (R-MN)has already expressed concern, so too will all the GOP Senators up for reelection, to say nothing of the GOP House members that will defect from the President's position.

    Without success by November the GOP in DC will be in full retreat.

  2. About the time the next "contining resolution" is needed to fund the war.

    I had heard that the Dems were going to move the War "on budget", which with their new "pay as you go" rules, will require sizable cuts elsewhere in the Federal budget or new taxes.

    But that may have just been "hot air"
    Or not

  3. Rat, we are back into the area of the doable. We burned through wishable and desirable and at this state, tolerable would be acceptable. The whole thing is deplorable, but understandable when dealing what was once unknowable even if you were were right on with the predictable.

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

  5. What is doable, duece?
    That depends upon what the "Objective" is.

    Many seem to think that the Iraq Operation was but a prelude to operations against Iran. This storyline has been played for three years, that what occured on the ground in Iraq was unimportant, that the prepositioning of US assets to be used against Iran was the "real" play.
    The Col. in whit's link, our own mat, amongst others held that view. They believed that was the reason for the Invasion of Iraq. Perhaps it was, but reality interfered. There has been no expansion of the conflict, no hot pursuit, no disruption of supply lines, no stopping of the cascades.

    I used to refer to that as the "Wink & Nod" school of thought. Discounting what Mr Bush said, projecting their own beliefs onto his actions. They discounted the Religion of Peace rhetoric, discounted the RoE fubar, discounted not dealing with al-Sadr, discounted empowering radical Shia forces within the new Iraqi Government. They discounted Catch & Release as a challenge to US.
    The Wal-Mart mentality, kings of the discount. The Military leadership could do no wrong, their hearts & minds being in the "right" place.
    Problems that presented themselves were denied to exist, thought to be only the evil mutterings of a liberal MSM.

    The real problem is that no faction in Iraq, other than US, wants to reconcile the differences. The US wants Constitutional Admendments and new Iraqi Laws, thinking that paper will cover the cracks in Iraqi society. You, as a builder, know that a building built on shifting sand will not stand for long. No matter the wallpaper used.

    What was doable three years ago, is out of reach today, as time marches on. Today the best case is that the Shia militias "stand down" as the Federal forces take on the Sunni Insurgents. By May the level of violence decreases due to the increased Op tempo and the US can declare "Job Done".
    The Iraqi will agree and the withdrawal can commence. Some type of status of force agreement can then be reached, if a stay behind force or footprint is agreed to with the Iraqi.

    That is best case, worse local case is the violence continues at current levels, making a Declaration of Success impossible.

    If the "War" expands across the Iranian border, now, it will more than double the size of the anti-US forces currently in Iraq. With both the Badr Brigades and the Mahdi Army joining the fight against US.

    More fellows, up to 45,000, without uniforms.

    Than we'd have to get tough or get out. There is little visable US public support for getting tough.

  6. You need to read this:

    Inside Baghdad's civil war
    'The jihad now is against the Shias, not the Americans'

    As 20,000 more US troops head for Iraq, Ghaith Abdul-Ahad, the only correspondent reporting regularly from behind the country's sectarian battle lines, reveals how the Sunni insurgency has changed

    Saturday January 13, 2007
    The Guardian

  7. The Sunni set the stage, no desire for reconciliation with their fellow Countrymen.

    Two parts of the story were telling
    But this alliance soon dragged the insurgents and then the whole Sunni community into confrontation with the Shia militias as al-Qaida and other extremists massacred thousands of Shia civilians. Insurgent commanders such as Abu Omar soon found themselves outnumbered and outgunned, fighting organised militias backed by the Shia-dominated security forces.

    And this one, which is even more telling:
    "... After each large-scale bomb attack on Shia civilians, scores of mutilated bodies of Sunnis were found in the streets.

    The Shia militias, like the Mahdi Army, are a reaction to the undefeated Sunni Insurgency, the Shia are reacting to, not formenting the violence.

    The fat man has to become convinced the Sunni cannot fight their way out of their challenge.
    Easier to kill him.

  8. Cut through the leftist bent, The Guardian does come up with some gems.

  9. Deuce,

    There is much to think about in that link. Apparently, DR has already begun.

  10. It didn't get said on the previous thread: Buddy Larsen is an exemplary human being.

  11. Top notch, old buddy.
    Always polite and considerate of others. Not traits that are always to be found in Texicans.

  12. Elijah has made a lengthy, thought provoking comment at the BC – a keeper. Several comments following his are worth a look also.

    1/13/2007 08:23:47 AM

  13. Deuce,

    Returning to that link, the action in Somalia had made me hope for a shotgun approach to engaging the Muslims, i.e. a little here, followed by a little there, without respite. Since there has been some encouraging news from Afghanistan, maybe the US is on that track. The sorry state in which the Sunni now find themselves in Iraq gives cause for pleasure.

  14. That is the best article, as far as insight into Baghdad, that I have read. It helps to get out of the Green Zone, if you live.

  15. Desert Rat said, "Than we'd have to get tough or get out. There is little visable US public support for getting tough."

    Probably because "getting tough" has always been just a theory as far as this administration goes. Right now the enemy is attacking his own power grid because we think a working infrastructure is a benchmark toward victory in the "hearts and minds" war. Well let's give them exactly what they want, right up the poop chute. Every detonation of an IED shall result in the instant, permanent blackout of electricity for the surrounding neighborhood neighborhood. When the complaints come in, we merely tell them it's too dangerous to send repairmen into an area with known insurgent activity. They want to bring back 7th Century laws? Well they didn't have juice in 632 AD.

  16. They may try to discard their aQ links, but there seems no Sunni desire to submit to a Shia dominated Federal Government.

    The Sunni will give US a pass, if we protect them from the Shia authority.

    The only hope is to dissuade the Sunni Insurgents, in the next 120 to 180 days, from attacking anyone.
    The Fat Man will not oblige.
    The 80% Solution is the answer, but it will be extremely bloody in the short term.
    One side or the other will have to admit defeat, before the country can stabilize. Before either side admits defeat, they will have to be physically defeated.

    The idea that we could bypass that part of the Program, and move to the End Game, before the War was over, is ill concieved, at best.

  17. rufus,

    re: not on CNN

    Only American snuff films meet the standards of Judy and Wolf. How are the ratings holding up?

  18. DR,

    If as Mark Steyn writes, demographics are destiny, then, the Sunni had better get used to minority status. This is Westhawk's view as well. Those Sunni able are voting with their feet, further validating Steyn and Westhawk. If the Sunni can be broken militarily, to the satisfaction of the American public, the surge will buy time during which to consider breaking al-Sadr and company as well. Something tells me that Maliki will sing our praises during the coming months, until we turn on his sponsors. By then, the Iranian/Syrian block might have overstepped their means.

    Granted, it is dicey, but the Muslims do have a knack for missing opportunities, as the current Sunni diaspora demonstrates. Westhawk, among others, reckoned the obstinacy suicidal. I agree.

  19. teresita,

    re: Well they didn't have juice in 632 AD.

    But, what about the children? He said breathlessly.


  20. I'm willing to give "King George" one more chance. Whit says he's no conservative. Whit's absolutely correct. But, we can work on his domestic missteps, hopefully kicking him in the "right" direction.

    It's extremely important, though, that he wins in Iraq. We'll see if the new "ROE" are truly what he claims.

    We'll know by summer...

  21. The Guaardian piece and other that I have read, some quoting US Generals, have indicated the Shia militia activity is reactionary, not proactive.

    Mr al-Sadr has a terrible PR man, while the SCIRI's Badr Brigade commander, Mr al-Hakim, visitor to the White House and host to Iranian agents, plays a more conservative PR game. He stays out of the limelight, when he can. But both men are just opposite sides of the same coin.

    The Shia, represented by both Mr al-Hakim and al-Sadr, are Iraq. Mr Maliki is their creature, not ours.
    That reality will not change, even if a new Prime Minister was installed.

    Neither coups nor new elections will dissuade the Shia majority that now is their time. There are no guarentees that the Iraqi will admend their Constitution to suit US or the Sunni, and that's a fact.

    Any more than the Congress could be guarenteed to ratify the Kyoto Accords or the League of Nations Treaty. Democratic Republics are like that.

    The most telling part of today's reality is the US Government publicly agrees with the Fat Man. We steadfastly stand on the fact that if we left the Sunni Insurgents would regain control of Iraq. That the Army we have spent 42 months standing up, is worthless and would fall to the Insurgents in no time.

    I find that hard to believe.

    I find it easier to believe that the US Military parrots it's own party line of our Allies ineptitude.
    The Guardian story describes the Shia, both the Iraqi Security Forces and the militias, as being at least as capable as the Sunni.
    Or the Sunni would not want US protection from the Shia, where the two groups coexist.

  22. Which is why they have to act, sooner rather than later.

    Their window of US vulnerability will not be open forever. They must strike before it does, or admit defeat.

    I have never been concerned with the "Final Outcome" only the costs of getting there.
    The butchers bill escalates with each passing day

  23. General (designate) Petraeus is the most powerful man in TWAT at the moment. We will soon enough learn his metal. If he is a hard charger, as publicized, look for all Hell to break loose if State starts its usual interference. A word from Petraeus could bring down the government of Mr. Bush. Let us pray that the General is a gunslinger and a wunderkind and that the President has the good sense to get on with the dirty work ahead.

    DR, I agree that the US effort will end with a Shi’a dominated government. If we play our cards right, we might end with one more nationalistic and pro-American than that of either al-Sadr or Maliki.

    If the report Deuce has linked is accurate, Sunni leadership sees the handwriting on the wall: their time has come and gone. Whether they will act rationally is another matter entirely. Should they be convinced to join the government, their presence would act to foil Iranian designs. What shallow, bigoted louts they have been.

  24. rufus,

    Why can't you understand that Katrina was the worst natural disaster since the Great Flood? And it was all Bush's fault.

    Seriously, how do you dissuade morons capable of believing such crap? Well, you can't. You just have to outlive them.

  25. Trish,

    Like you, I have had opportunity to speak to people who have had the pleasure of working with our Iraq friends. Without so much as the shadow of doubt, the consensus is uniform: if after 1400 years as a historically definable culture, these folks cannot function sanely, remediation now is impossible.

    My question: why are we trying to recreate these marginal, medieval thinkers to our image? Yes, let’s surge. Yes, let’s say to the Iraqi government, we are here in force if you need us, but the fight is yours; get on with it. And, by all means, STFU and stay out of the way. If CNN and the AP have any questions, every puff-n-stuff star studded flag officer will remain mute on penalty of instant retirement. Instead, some perky, female O-3 will direct the media to Mr. Maliki, the democratically elected head of state.

    We should use our assets where we can gain something, for example, interdicting contraband and personnel at the borders. Oh, and arrests will be rare.

  26. That the Iraqi Army does not meet US Standards, of that I have no doubt. That they would roll over and allow the Sunni Insurgency to take over, I doubt, also.

    The Iraqi Army is mainly Shia and Kurd, with a few token Sunni tagging along. At least that is the impression given.

    So if the IA does break down along sectarian lines, the majority of the Army will still ride with the Shia.
    Unless the Guardian piece was totally fabricated, it seems clear that the Sunni are at least outgunned, if not out Generaled.

    So how could they retake the Country?

    As to the capability of soldiers, as judged by other soldiers. When I was a young Combat Engineer, in the Canal Zone, the US Army would send their best to Fort Sherman for us to train, in the jungle.
    The First of the Worst, the Almost Airborne and a whole host of others went through the turnstile. None passed our local competency tests, though all went home "qualified".
    All were and still are considered the finest fighting force in the World. Fancy that.

  27. Yes, I know, surrender will be accepted if offered. However, C-130 interdiction does reduce considerablly the number of those able to step forward and surrender.

    Smash and sift, a la Berlin '45.

  28. DR,


    By Jove, you've got it. (Nothing new, hey?)

  29. I agree, trish, that the Iraqi will not be following US home.

    They did not need to follow US to the WTC, they found it without our assistance.

    When the Enemy wishes to find the US, again, our forward deployeed troops will not matter. The US troops deployed in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Eygpt and Germany did not stop them the last time. It was from Germany, where the US maintained a large military footprint, that aQ staged it's most successful raid.

    US troops being in Afghanistan and Iraq will not stop the Mohammedans from attacking in LA, next time.

  30. Oh, we may catch them first, rufus.
    But not in Afghanistan or Iraq.

    All the latest terror ops have originated either in North Africa (Madrid) or Pakistan (London, twice).
    Bill Roggio details how Pakistan is still out of control.

    To my knowledge none of the aQ Operations against the West ever originated in Iraq.
    The Fat Man wants to control Iraq, if he must fight US to do so, he will. But his Goal is not to fight US, it is to gain Iraq. If we were to get out of his way, he would not migrate here, but continue the fight, there.

  31. And the fight would continue, there, if we were to out of the way.

  32. So, the price of corn in the US has almost doubled. That could easily amount to a major price increase in the finished product. 400% could be a bit high, but a doubling or more is easy to see.

    Revolution and increased migration, both are already in the cards. The existing trends will excelerate. The Federales have taken over Tijuana, disarming the local police. Nuevo Larado will, most likely, be next. Whether that will change things along the frontier, who knows.

  33. On second thought, a keystoned product could easily have a quadupling in price if the core product price doubles.

    I buy for 4 cents & sell for 8.
    If my cost raises to 7 cents, sale price increases to 14 cents.
    It just takes two or three keystoned steps to quaduple the price.

  34. You have an understanding of the Mexican economy that is not based in it's reality, rufus.

    It is not nearly as fluid or adaptive as the economy in the US. Credit markets and such are much more difficult to access, for the small business man.
    Local monopolies are not unheard of, especially in food staple production. Expansion is very difficult and often discouraged by the Government, which is often controlled by the established monied interests.

  35. The price of a barrel of oil goes from $25 per barrel & $1.25 per gallon of gas

    to $50 per barrel, gas is 2.50 per gallon.
    At $75, gas is 3.75 per gallon.

    Seems that way to me.
    Markups on processing are based on the cost of the product. Especially as shortages are introduced to the market.

  36. The Oil companies then have record profits.
    They do not maintain the pricing, only passing on the increased costs of the oil. Oh no, they use their established margin percentages, on the higher priced raw materials. Making more money than ever.
    Believe me, Mexican food processors are no different.

  37. Not the finished products, rufus.
    At least not in the border regions, like Phoenix or LA.
    We have our own tortilla manufacturers. If there is a need for more tortillas in Detroit, they are not being shipped up from Sonora.

    The corn is being exported to Mexico and consumed there, not processed there and imported to the US as finished product.

  38. While looking for some info, I found this, quite possibly the best news to come out of Mexico.

    The Finance Ministry has given final approval for the bank, said Wal-Mart de México on Wednesday. The bank would begin operating during the second half of 2007. Julio Gómez Martínez, the former chief executive of Bank One in Mexico, will lead the independent unit, to be called Banco Wal-Mart de México Adelante.

    One possible reason for the different receptions in the United States and Mexico is that, by most estimates, as many as 80 percent of Mexicans do not have bank accounts. Because Wal-Mart plans to offer such accounts, local groups apparently had difficulty trying to stir up public outrage.

    Working-class Mexicans have been largely shut out of traditional banks by high fees, minimum balance requirements and intimidating paperwork. Community banks barely exist.

    In this venture, Wal-Mart, the world's largest retailer, still might be the little guy, at least for now. Among Wal-Mart's competitors in the banking business are global banks like Citigroup and HSBC, which have made almost no effort to attract the vast bulk of working- class Mexicans.

    The authorities, beginning with the governor of the Mexican central bank, Guillermo Ortiz, have blessed the entry of retailers into banking as a way to reach people without accounts.

    In its statement last week announcing that Wal-Mart, along with four other banks, had received preliminary approval, the Finance Ministry said that it expected the new banks to create more competition and serve markets that the country's five dominant banks ignore. ...
    The reaction in Mexico has been the opposite.

    Wal-Mart is the biggest retailer in Mexico and is the largest private employer, with more than 135,000 workers. It has 872 stores, including 502 supermarkets and hypermarkets, along with a national restaurant chain and about 60 small department stores. Wal-Mart continues to grow - in October alone, it opened eight stores and four restaurants - and Wall Street analysts expect sales of as high as $18 billion in Mexico this year. ...
    The Wal-Mart bank will start modestly with an initial investment of $25 million, offering bare-bones savings accounts and simple personal and consumer loans, Argüelles said. The bank could also lend money to Wal-Mart's small suppliers and to business owners who shop at Wal-Mart's Sam's clubs, a discount warehouse store, he said. But it might take as a long as five years for the bank to start making mortgage loans, he said.

    "We are a low-cost company. We will look for a very austere bank that is very focused on the customer," he said.

    María de Jesús Martínez may take a little persuasion. A domestic worker, Martínez was shopping at a busy Wal- Mart-owned store one Sunday evening. About nine years ago, she put the equivalent of about $80 into a Mexican bank.

    When she went to withdraw it, only $23 was left, the rest eaten up by commissions.
    "It just took away all my interest," she said.

    Nobody in the family of eight has a bank account. Her daughter, Mariana Hernández, a student, offered only grudging interest.

    "It might be an alternative," she said. "We would have to see how they manage it."

  39. Moscow v. Wal-Mart

    What a beautiful thing.

  40. Bobalharb, same thing happened in Bremerton, Washington years ago, so they invented the entire city of Silverdale outside the city limits, that's where the mall went, and all the military business from Subase Bangor, and downtown Bremerton withered on the vine and became a ghost town.