“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

Thanks for the Intel.

It's been very interesting to read in the past couple of weeks about the finances of jihad. I read somewhere that the Taliban are paying double what the Afghani Army pays which I recall is about $120 per month. I was wondering where the money comes from, then I found this:
Asia Times, How the Taliban keep their coffers full

By Syed Saleem Shahzad

KARACHI - Just as the Taliban move across the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan with impunity, so does the money needed to sustain the Taliban-led insurgency flow unrestricted between the countries.

In the wake of September 11, 2001, the financial squeeze instigated by the United States and its allies in the "war on terror" severely disrupted the flow of funds for al-Qaeda and the Taliban, mainly through closer international scrutiny of bank accounts.

However, as the insurgencies in Afghanistan and Iraq testify, the money has certainly not been stopped. The major reason for this is that Washington and its allies made the mistake of looking for and applying high-tech solutions.

Had the focus been more on the "unschooled wisdom" prevalent in the mountains of Afghanistan and in the deserts of Iraq, the US might not be in such a poor position as it is now.

The Taliban's moneymen

I met Habibullah and Abdul Jalil in a small room in Banaras Colony in Karachi, the largest Pashtun community (1.5 million people) in any city in the world. From here, the Pashtuns control all of the transport business in Karachi and beyond. We were later joined by several dozen more Taliban, all of them from southwestern Afghanistan.

Also joining us were several noble and rich Pashtun elders. Most of the Pashtun people in Karachi are unskilled laborers, while those higher up the social ladder have a firm grip on the transport business.

Once everyone in the room was settled, Jalil began to speak. "The jihad has been raging in Afghanistan [for five years] and it will be highly intensified this spring. We are confronting the enemy, which is a world superpower, and we have just the power of our faith. I invite you to visit Afghanistan and see how the mujahideen [holy warriors] are steadfast at the front. They have scarce food and few warm clothes to cover them in the cold winter nights.

"At the same time, we are confronting a superpower which is like an uncontrolled elephant aiming to crush us all under its feet. It has the world's most powerful technology, air supremacy and bombs. But we are the vanguard of Islam, and our only weapons are our flesh and blood to be sacrificed for our nation and for the religion.

"We need equipment and supplies to dismiss the foreign invaders once and for all from our soil. I beg you all to contribute to the liberation movement of Afghanistan and beg you to hand over your hard cash for the resistance and the mujahideen."

Within an hour, Jalil had collected 700,000 Pakistani rupees (more than US $11,600), with each person in the room handing over various sums of cash.

The Guardian link in the previous thread revealed the information about the Iraqi Sunnis confiscating Shia automobiles and selling them to buy the $470 boxes of AK ammo. (Did anyone else find those numbers hard to believe?) . Of course, the Sunni Arabs, especially the Saudis and the Oil Sheiks have been financing worldwide Wahhabist expansion for years. And its also well documented that American muslims have been generously donating to their "favorite charities" too.


  1. In this instance, should the Congress consider authorizing Letters of Marque and Reprisal. Hmmm. Pirates fought by Privateers.

  2. 700 rounds for $470?
    67 cents per round.

    There is an interesting piece dated 15 June '06 that gives this piece of information

    The cost of AK 47 bullets (Soviet-type 7.62 x 39mm ammunition) surveyed by the researchers ranged from 250–600 Iraqi Dinar (ID), or $0.15–0.45, depending on the manufacturer and the age of the bullet. ...
    Ammunition: the fuel of

    The Guardian story says: The box of 700 bullets that Rami buys for $450 today would have cost between $150 and $175 a year ago

    So the price from a year ago, 25 cents per round, compares accurately with the June info of 10 to 45 cents.
    The price rise, more than doubling, could be accurate. Demand outstripping local supply.

  3. Re: not sexy

    To the contrary, some of the sexiest, swashbuckling highlights of the reign Elizabeth I of England featured privateers. These guys ranged far and wide, driving the Spanish to hysteria and impoverishing them at the same time.

    Surely, within Afghanistan and Pakistan there must be enemies of both the Taliban and the Pakistanis. Using safe havens in Afghanistan, for instance, they could wreck havoc. If supplied with aged but effective air lift, the privateers could swiftly hit and run as did Drake. While the Pakistanis would scream, how could the US, NATO, or the government of Afghanistan be held accountable for the actions of unruly tribesmen?

    Obviously, this will never happen, but not for wont of precedent.

  4. Publius Pundit has the EB on his blogroll.

  5. For those like me, who have given too little attention to the President’s speech, Michael Ledeen asks:


  6. With out even looking at the link, allen, NO we did not.
    The President does not Declare War, the Congress does.
    Unless, of course, the President determines that either of those countries support terror attacks upon US interests, in accord with the 14 Sep 01 Authorization for Use of Force. Which, if he's done that, I guess we may have.
    I do not think he has, offically, though. That would be an interesting determination, though, I do admit.

  7. After reading Mr Ledeen, I remain committed, the answer is no.
    It'll take a bit more than that, from the President.

  8. DR,

    Like Ledeen, I am curious.

  9. " ... is authorized to use all necessary and appropriate force against those nations, organizations, or persons he determines planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, or harbored such organizations or persons, in order to prevent any future acts of international terrorism against the United States by such nations, organizations or persons.

    All he needs to is make a determination, which would take a little determination, wouldn't it.

    That Law is the basis of Mr Bush's lack of excuse for falling short in the Campaign. It is the same Law that General Pace referenced as the Authority to operate in Somalia. It is a blank check that the Congress handed the President, an open ended Declaration of War against whomever he determines is worthy of the attention.

  10. The President could take US into Pakistan, Iran, Syria, Somalia, Sudan, Eygpt, Lebanon, the KSA, England, Germany or Algeria based upon the 14 Sep 01 Authorization.

    That he has not, well...
    He has not.

  11. Well, strike Somalia, we finally dealt with them, under that fore mentioned Authority.

  12. DR,

    The recent raids against Iranian safehouses in Iraq could provide credible evidence for immediate action, also. Of course, the longer the President postpones action, the less credible becomes his rationale.

    That Somalia action did give cause for hope, didn't it. Some action elsewhere, and seemingly unrelated, would be a real jolt to the Muslims, wouldn't it? Certainly, Waziristan comes immediately to mind, as would points along Iran's Afghan border.

  13. DR,

    re: cheap

    Go anywhere, do anything with Mastercard.


    Stopping by the pharmacy first would be a good idea, in my case. The old ticker, you know.

  14. The Iranians are sheltering Osama's son and other aQ members. That, in and of itself could be enough. If Mr Bush so determined.

  15. Wonder if doug has any spare vitamin Viagra.

  16. That Gallery, she has a big set of photos, aye?

  17. In the words of the senior senator from West Virginia, "I feel so cheap and tawdry. What was I talkin' about, Jay?"

  18. trish,

    One of the beauties of Letters of Marque, as you know, is to keep the fingerprints of the sovereign off the table. When I speak of enemies, I have in mind locals who permit plausible deniability in the event of a faux pas. As to privateers, they can work around the globe without restraint, making the transfer of funds by hand riskier. Just some thoughts. Thanks for the input.

  19. trish,

    If I click my ruby slippers, will I be back in Kansas?


  20. This is your mind on drugs: Mr. Abbas is a peace partner.

  21. Privateers are not going to be nuked, nor or indigenous malcontents. The Paks will appreciate that robbery, murder, and mayhem are unfortunate realities of the times.

  22. trish,

    Elizabeth I was engaged to the King of Spain, that would have made him a friend, presumably. Her advisors did their very best to stiffle her larcenous impulses. Even with all this, she permitted the looting of Spanish Empire by English privateers despite her deep affection for the Spanish monarchy.

    The point in this instance is moot, of course, if for no other reason than George II is not Elizabeth I.


  23. Allen mimics the atmosphere at BC by speculating on what George might do re:
    Iran, long after George has proved beyond any reasonable doubt that he will do nothing.

    Evidently, at least so far, even if the War in Iraq and his legacy are doomed as a consequence.

    Here's the way it is, Allen:

    Syria and Iran can violate Iraq's borders with impunity, but we MUST NOT violate theirs, even with some Clinton-Like Cruise strikes.

    Makes perfect sense to the sensibility of a man who gives medals of Freedom to those least deserving, and kind attention to political adversaries while trashing his faithful supporters.

    Pathological imo, but what do I know?

    I did know a man that was like that, and like George, put all effort into appearing compassionate.

    Did not make it so in my book, not by a long shot.
    A highly destructive individual as a matter of fact, but facts should not matter in these cases, evidently.

  24. Authentic Bolton

    Now back at the American Enterprise Institute, an old perch, he has taken over the office of the late Jeanne Kirkpatrick, another outspoken UN ambassador, who was every bit as ardent a defender of the perceived national interest.

    The room, with a view of the Jefferson memorial, is still sparse but he has made it his own by placing his favourite gift from colleagues, a bronzed hand-grenade inscribed with “truest Reaganaut”, on the coffee table.
    The shape and form of the nation is irrelevant: what matters is that Iraq is either tolerably pro-western or de-fanged. He has no regrets about the removal of Saddam Hussein; now it is up to the Iraqis if they want to engage in “fratricide”. The same goes for partition: “If the future of Iraq is to stay together, that’s fine. If not, I couldn’t care less from a strategic perspective.”

    In that sense, he is the authentic voice of the pre-September 11 Bush, before the president chose spreading the “fire of freedom” as the best way to protect his country from terrorism.

    Will America revert to its traditional moorings? Bolton is out of the UN but he could fit in with the new conservative thinking.

    (except that GWB has dismantled the GOP and sent the best conservatives into retirement)

  25. You guys stay up too late for me!

    Poppys, did anyone mention poppys? That's where the money comes from.

    Not mention the Saudis.

  26. Doug said, "Syria and Iran can violate Iraq's borders with impunity, but we MUST NOT violate theirs, even with some Clinton-Like Cruise strikes."

    At least the Bush Administration is being consistent, and is putting into practice the same Rules of Engagement they have imposed on Israel.