“Soft despotism is a term coined by Alexis de Tocqueville describing the state into which a country overrun by "a network of small complicated rules" might degrade. Soft despotism is different from despotism (also called 'hard despotism') in the sense that it is not obvious to the people."

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Shiites tiring of democracy in Lebanon. Burning tires in street to make point.

More bad news from our new best friends, the Shiites, who in Lebanon are Hezbollah. Pay attention now. The Shiites are the predominate tribe in Iraq. We are there to ensure the spread of democracy both in Iraq and beyond their borders. It just gets confusing beyond their borders. Actually it is confusing within their borders as well, but we are focusing on Lebanon. So is Syria and Iran. Lebanon has democracy. The Shiites do not like the results and want to end that. Democracy does not burn as brightly in the Lebanese Shiite breast as say it does in the Iraqi Shiite breast. Democracy does not seem to be smoldering in the Syrian and Iranian Shiite soul either. Too bad some of our soul-gazers in DC did not notice that earlier. Anyway in Lebanon, this is the deal:

Burning barricades paralyze Lebanon

Jan 23, 2007
Thousands of Lebanese protesters blocked main roads around the country with rubble and burning tires on Tuesday at the start of a general strike called by the opposition to try to topple the Western-backed government.

Demonstrators barricaded the road to Lebanon's only international airport and to the sea port. Security sources said a gunman fired on protesters in the ancient Christian town of Byblos, wounding three people before being arrested by soldiers.

"This government only understands force and today is only a small lesson," protester Jamil Wahb told Reuters in a southern, mostly Shi'ite suburb. "We will stay here until they give in."

Organizers of Syrian-backed Hezbollah, their faces covered in black masks, prowled on motorcycles, walkie-talkies clamped to their mouths.

One Christian leader described the protests as tantamount to a coup attempt.

The strike escalates a campaign by the Shi'ite Muslim Hezbollah-led opposition to dislodge the government, install a new unity administration and hold early parliamentary elections.

If you are not getting all of this and have muddled up your play card, the BBC wishes to be helpful and does a pretty reasonable job of sorting it all out here. The Lebanese crisis explained. It begins thusly:
"Lebanon is the most politically complex and religiously divided country in the Middle East, which is what makes it such a potentially explosive factor in an unstable region.

Tiny Lebanon baffles outsiders. Even people in the Middle East find its politics confusing.

Set up by France after World War I as a predominantly Christian state, Lebanon is now about 60% Muslim, 40% Christian.

It has 18 officially recognised religious sects and sharing power between them has always been a complicated game.

Lebanese Muslims have tended to look east for support from the other Arab states and from Iran. The Christians have tended to look west to Europe and the United States."


  1. Lebanon is especially messy since there are four major factions backed by three or sometimes four international backers. So like Iraq, but more complex.

    The Druze are kinda interesting, a secretive Islamic offshoot that is no longer Islam. They had a reputation for tough fighters in the civil war, and they appear to have come up trumps again during the Israel-Hezbollah fight (the "Herev" battalion).

  2. The HB faction in Lebanon makes the case that the "democracy" in Lebanon is not representative of the electorate. The power ratios were determined in the negotiations to end the Lebanonese Civil War.

    The HB signatories to that agreement were assassinated by the Israeli.
    HB, due to their ever increasing population base, now demand a progression to a more democratic power formula, "One man, one vote".
    If that democratic demand were met, the HB could command the Lebanonese Government, empowered democraticly.

    Long live the Bush Democracy Project, empowering our Enemies by popular vote, in local elections. Providing US enemy States to target.

  3. The end point is surely world democracy, one man one vote world wide, no? Surely the corporations and communists and Chinese would love a single world community.


  4. That seems to be the Spirit of It, peacekeeper

    Only fair
    God's Will, allah also.
    Buddha can see the wisdom of it

    We are the World

  5. Blackwater loses a chopper over Haifa St, in Baghdad.
    Said to be five contractors on board.

    A Blackhawk two days ago, another "private" bird, today.

    Seems someone found the manual to those SAMs. They made all the difference, in Afghanistan. When the Mohammedans in Afghanistan got Redeyes and Stingers, the Soviet air mobility capacity was called into questioned, not by fighter planes but by MANPADs.

  6. Seems like an escalation of Enemy capability.
    Is Enemy escalation matching the surge?

  7. The Kagan Plan expected that the enemy would increase attacks before our soliders arrived in Baghdad.

    Plus the Democrats are encouraging it by the Congressional debate. The insurgents may figure that if they raise the kill count high enough, they can get the Senate to stop the war during this week's vote. (Actually the Senate vote is just symbolic.) Al Qaeda is very aware of elections. I believe one of the main reasons they haven't attacked us in the US is because they know it will harden resistance. If the Democrats are doing their work for them, Al Qaeda can help more by raising the kill count in Iraq instead of attacking in the US.

    Isn't it an amazing coincidence that the Democrats always take the side of the terrorist?

  8. Hezbollah is revealing themselves to be the anti-Democratic thugs they always were. They are also puppets of Syria, fighting to keep the UN from investigating the assassination of the anti-Syrian leader.

  9. Wu Wei, "Isn't it an amazing coincidence that the Democrats always take the side of the terrorist?"

    Only if you believe Bush when he says you're either with him or the terrorists.

  10. "How can you not have confidence in the crackerjack team that brought you Operation Iraqi Freedom, which foundered and led to Operation Together Forward, which stumbled and led to Operation Together Forward II, which collapsed and was replaced by The New Way Forward, the Surge now being launched even though nobody’s together and everything’s going backward?" ~~ Maureen Dowd

  11. Very few choppers have been lost in the past months of combat.
    That two were lost within days is coincidental. Since coincidence is heavily discount in my diagnostic, seems like an escalation of technologies, not just more of the same, but accelerated.

    The scope of enemies capacity may be expanding. Beyond what Mr Kagen proposed.

  12. Are you sure, joe buzz, that missive was not authored in Baghdad?
    Sounds like it could have been, The situation sounds remarkedly similar.
    The Army stands by while the City burns. In Lebanon's case the Command is local.
    In Baghdad the Command is still Imperial, and Nero has been fiddlin'. Awakened to the seriousness of the situation the decision has been made, to do more of the same, accelerated.

  13. > The scope of enemies capacity may be expanding. Beyond what Mr Kagen proposed.

    I don't see any reason to assume a change in "capacity". After a stead state, the pace of battle is now increasing. We are attacking and they are defending.

    There was an article in the NY Times about how our troops have begun staying in the neighborhoods instead of returning to distant bases every night, part of the Petraeus counterinsurgency strategy.

    There have been many stories recently about we and the Iraqi government attacking insurgents. It is unfortunate but was predicted that once we started attacking more, the enemy would fight back so our casualties increase.

  14. Here's a quote from the Kagan plan about enemy responses:

    It is more likely that al Qaeda in Iraq and other Islamist groups will act as they have in the past: they will increase violence at the start of the operation and then go to ground either in Baghdad neighborhoods not designated for clearing or in the surrounding cities and towns. There, they will hope to reconstitute and prepare for a major surge of violence after the clearing operations have ended. They will also prepare spectacular mass-casualty attacks against targets in Baghdad and elsewhere.

    Right before that Kagan mentioned this possibility, but saw it as less likely:

    It is not clear how, specifically, al Qaeda in Iraq and associated groups will respond to the proposed clearing operation. Faced with a substantial attempt to end the violence in Baghdad, they might embrace an apocalyptic fight with coalition forces in the heart of the capital, surging all of their resources against coalition and especially Iraqi civilian targets.
    This approach would generate a lot of violence in the initial phase of the clearing operation, but would not necessarily be the most dangerous response they might make. By striking the coalition when coalition forces were most prepared, the Islamists will lose many fighters and use up their
    limited supply of suicide bombers and car bombs.
    If the U.S. and Iraqi forces pursue the operation to its conclusion, they will significantly reduce this particular enemy’s ability to undertake subsequent surges of violence, and the prospects for the success of the operation will increase.

  15. > Iranians setting the pace and controlling the tempo.

    The Iranians are the tail, not the dog. If Iran vanished off the face of the earth tomorrow, the problems in Iraq & Lebanon would still be there.

    Iran sends weapons and money to terrorists, but so does Saudi Arabia and other countries.

    Here's a quote from an article in today's papers about how the Iranian role is "questionable". I've seen the same thing in the British press, that the Iranian agents captured were doing politics, not weapons. That didn't come from left-wing sources either, but pro-war ones.

    Despite mounting U.S. and British claims Iran is supplying insurgents in Iraq with weaponry, there's scant evidence of it, The Los Angeles Times reported.
    The newspaper interviewed commanders in Iraqi provinces along the eastern border with Iran, and found that only Iranian small arms had been recovered during raids.
    British Prime Minister Tony Blair has been echoing U.S. President George Bush, who said this month that Iran was providing "advanced weaponry and training to our enemies."
    In eastern Iraq, U.S. Army Col. David Sutherland told the Times the few weapons recovered have been anything but advanced -- mortars and anti-tank mines.
    Similar accusations that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction were made by Bush in justifying the March 2003 invasion and U.S. Sen. John Rockefeller, D-W.Va., chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee said he's concerned about the latest administration allegations.

  16. Well, wu.
    Capacity. In the past no US choppers were reported downed by SAM.
    By small arms, RPG, to improvised aerial explosive device, to accidents and bad weather, but I have not heard of losses to SAMs.

    If SAM 7s or some varient have entered the Iraq battlespace, that is a technological escalation.
    Not foreseen in any of wu's quotes.

    As long time readers realize the lack of SAM7 deployment in the 34 days of Lebanon was something I considered signifigant, at the time. If that weaponry has been introduced in Iraq, two birds down in two days could be indicitive, it just proves the the "surge" is on, in more ways than one.

  17. The whole idea that all the terror groups are Iranians puppets never made sense anyway.

    Every group is willing to accept assistance, but wants to keep its own independence. Iraqi Arab Shiites will gladly accept assistance from Iranian Shiites, but would fight those Iranian Persian Shiites to the death if they tried to invade Iraq, and would tell them to go to hell if they tried to run the show. Likewise if Iran invaded Lebanon, Hezbollah would fight them just as hard as it did against Israel.

    "The enemy of my enemy is my friend", but if they try to control me then they have become the main enemy.

  18. Well, it seems from this Boston Globe piece that the Kurds are deserting in droves, rather than deploy to Baghdad, Not an AP piece.

    "... Kurdish soldiers from northern Iraq, who are mostly Sunnis but not Arabs, are deserting the army to avoid the civil war in Baghdad, a conflict they consider someone else's problem.

    The Iraqi Army brigades being sent to the capital are filled with former members of a Kurdish militia, the peshmerga, that's the armed wing of President Jalal Talabani of Iraq's political party, the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan. Most remain loyal to that militia.

    Much as Shi'ite militias have infiltrated the Iraqi security forces across Arab Iraq, the peshmerga fill the ranks of the Iraqi Army in the Kurdish region in the north, poised to secure a semi-independent Kurdistan and seize oil-rich Kirkuk and parts of Mosul if Iraq falls apart. One thing they didn't bank on, they said, was being sent into the "fire" of Baghdad.

    "The soldiers don't know the Arabic language, the Arab tradition, and they don't have any experience fighting terror," said Anwar Dolani, a former peshmerga commander who leads the brigade that's being transferred to Baghdad from the Kurdish city of Sulaimaniyah.

    Dolani called the desertions a "phenomenon" but refused to say how many soldiers have left the army.

    "I can't deny that a number of soldiers have deserted the army, and it might increase due to the ferocious military operations in Baghdad," he said.

    "This is the biggest performance through which we can test them," said Lieutenant General Ali Ghaidan, the commander of land forces for the Iraqi Ministry of Defense. ...

    In interviews, however, soldiers in Sulaimaniyah expressed loyalty to their Kurdish brethren, not to Iraq. Many said they'd already deserted, and those who are going to Baghdad said they'd flee if the situation there became too difficult.

    "I joined the army to be a soldier in my homeland, among my people. Not to fight for others who I have nothing to do with," said Ameen Kareem, 38, who took a week's leave with other soldiers from his brigade in the Kurdish city of Erbil and never returned. "I used to fight in the mountains and valleys, not in the streets."

    Kareem said he knew that deserting was risky, but he said he'd rather be behind bars in Kurdistan than a "soldier in Baghdad's fire." Without the language and with his Kurdish features, he was sure he would stand out, he said. He's a Kurd, he said, and he has no reason to become a target in an Arab war. ..."

    How many Brigades were the Kurds going to supply?
    To "take the Lead"?

    They got no dog in that fight.

  19. Missile shootdowns of helicopters are nothing new in Iraq.

    Here is one from nearly two years ago, 21 months:

    Friday, April 22, 2005

    Insurgents shot down a helicopter with a heat-seeking missile north of the Iraqi capital Thursday, killing all six American security contractors and five others on board, according to U.S. officials and insurgents.

  20. Credit to charlotte over at Westhawk for the link.

    Kurds fly their own flag.

  21. There you go, wu, one, two years ago, two yesterday.
    No escalation there.

  22. re: Kurds
    I will defend my home and my state.
    ___Robert E. Lee (paraphrase)


    As you know, I am just as pleased as punch with any death dealt our adversaries. With that said and previously having seen the numbers from the operation you link, <10 enemy KIA per day is not overwhelming. Here's hoping for better performance. Again, I say, subjecting aggressive commanders to career killing disciplinary action will not help get the job done.

  23. “By the end of the Thursday over four thousand federal troops had arrived from the battlefield at Gettysburg to occupy the city and quell the rioters.”

    New York Draft Riots