“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 22, 2007

We Can't Get No Respect!

First it was Ahmadinejad, then Hugo Chavez, and now the Chinese are dissing us and will not return our calls.

From the New York Times:
January 22, 2007
U.S. Tries to Interpret China’s Silence Over Test

WASHINGTON, Jan. 21 — Bush administration officials said that they had been unable to get even the most basic diplomatic response from China after their detection of a successful test to destroy a satellite 10 days ago, and that they were uncertain whether China’s top leaders, including President Hu Jintao, were fully aware of the test or the reaction it would engender.

In an interview late Friday, Stephen J. Hadley, President Bush’s national security adviser, raised the possibility that China’s leaders might not have fully known what their military was doing.

Meanwhile, Iran today in a "symbolic act of defiance" barred 38 nuclear inspectors on a United Nations list from entering the country. Officials tried to downplay the situation saying that there are about 200 available inspectors so the 38 really don't matter. I don't think they do either. Iran will get its nuclear program and the UN will continue to draw lines in the sand as Iran steps over them. In December, when it invoked sanctions on Iran, the UN gave them another 60 days to cease enrichment. According to this document, the first round of the EU3-Iran negotiations took place in October 2003. Iran is not listening or cooperating with the world and this situation can only have a bad ending.

Then there was this from the South American big-mouth:

CARACAS, Venezuela — President Hugo Chavez told U.S. officials to "Go to hell, gringos!" and called Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice "missy" on his weekly radio and TV show Sunday, lashing out at Washington for what he called unacceptable meddling in Venezuelan affairs.

The tirade came after Washington raised concerns about a measure to grant the fiery leftist leader broad lawmaking powers. The National Assembly, which is controlled by the president's political allies, is expected to give final approval this week to what it calls the "enabling law," which would give Chavez the authority to pass a series of laws by decree during an 18-month period.

On Friday, U.S. State Department deputy spokesman Tom Casey said Chavez's plans under the law "have caused us some concern."

Chavez rejected Casey's statement in his broadcast, saying: "Go to hell, gringos! Go home!"

On top of all that, insurgents welcomed the arrival of 3,ooo additional "surge" troops with a wave of carnage today which killed another 100 people in Baghdad while domestically the Dems continued to mount an insurgence of their own.

In the immortal words of Rodney Dangerfield, "We can't get no respect."


  1. Lawmaking powers.....hmmm

    What was that little guy's name? You know, the one that looked like Charlie Chaplin.

    Yeah, Adolph. Didn't he start out this way? Elected, populist, hateful, then given extended power.

    Too bad about his neighbors.

  2. Weakness is provocative, as now Al-Zawahiri also confirms.

    Wonder how SITE picked it up?

    If he really means it, an opportunity the 80% solution?

  3. Those Chinese guys, they don't know nuthin'.
    They did not understand what their rouge military was doing.
    Ahaa, that's the deal, ha ha ha.

    And the Pakistani Generals did not know Dr Khan was sending Paki military C-130 aircraft to North Korea via China. With nuclear technologies on board. aha aha.

  4. Nikolai Solovtsov, the officer in charge of Russia's strategic missile command, said this month that a US extension of its missile defence project to eastern Europe would affect Russia's military planning.

    "Russia will have to take additional measures to counter missile defence systems to prevent its strategic deterrent potential being downgraded," he said.

    The Russian top brass dismiss assertions that the scheme is aimed purely at countries such as North Korea and Iran, pointing out that the project deals with intercontinental ballistic missiles, which neither North Korea nor Iran possesses.

    Star Wars Base

  5. Some places we get respect:

    "In the Philippines, for example, the BBC poll shows that 88 percent of the population has a “mainly positive” view of the United States, an unusually high number anywhere. In India, that number is 54 percent, and in South Africa, it’s 56 percent, particularly high numbers for the developing world.

    Looking at age patterns in other generally anti–American countries can be equally revealing. In Canada, Britain, Italy, and Australia, for example, all countries with generally high or very high anti–American sentiments, people older than 60 have relatively much more positive feelings about the United States than their children and grandchildren. When people older than 60 are surveyed, 63.5 percent of Britons, 59.6 percent of Italians, 50.2 percent of Australians, and 46.8 percent of Canadians feel that the United States is a “mainly positive” influence on the world. For those between the ages of 15 and 29, the numbers are far lower: 31.9 percent (Britain), 37.4 percent (Italy), 27 percent (Australia), and 19.9 percent (Canada)

    There is, finally, one other factor that is associated almost everywhere in the world with pro–Americanism: In Europe, Asia, and South America, men are far more likely than women to have positive feelings about the United States. In some cases, the numbers are quite striking. Asking men and women how they feel about the United States produces an 11 percent gender gap in India, a 17 percent gender gap in Poland, and even a 6 percent gap in the Philippines. This pattern probably requires more psychological analysis than I can muster, but it’s possible to guess at some explanations. Perhaps the United States is associated with armies and invasions, which historically appeal more to men. Perhaps it is because the United States is also associated with muscular foreign policy, and fewer women around the world are involved in, or interested in, foreign policy at all. Perhaps it’s because men are more attracted to the idea of power, entrepreneurship, or capitalism. Or it may just be that the United States appeals to men in greater numbers for the same intuitive reasons that President George W. Bush appeals to men in greater numbers, whatever those are.

    Although not as surprising as some of the other numbers, this gender gap does help us come up with a clearer picture of who the typical pro–American might be. We all know the stereotypes of the anti–Americans: The angry Arab radical, demonstrating in the mythical Arab street; or the left–wing newspaper editor, fulminating at Berlin dinner parties; or the French farmer, railing against McDonald’s. Now, perhaps, we should add new stereotypes: The British small businessman, son of a coal miner, who once admired Thatcher and has been to Florida on holiday. Or the Polish anticommunist intellectual, who argued about Reagan with his Parisian friends in the 1980s, and disagrees with them about the Iraqi war now. Or the Indian stockbroker, the South Korean investment banker, and the Philippine manufacturer, all of whom have excellent relations with their American clients, all of whom support a U.S. military presence in their parts of the world, and all of whom probably harbor a fondness for President Bush that they wouldn’t confess to their wives. These stock figures should be as firmly a part of the columnists’ and commentators’ repertoire as their opponents have become."

    -Anne Applebaum is a columnist and member of the editorial board of the Washington Post.

    Foreign Policy

  6. BBC

    View of US's global role 'worse'

    The view of the US's role in the world has deteriorated both internationally and domestically, a BBC poll suggests.
    The World Service survey, conducted in 25 nations including the US, found that three in four respondents disapproved of how Washington has dealt with Iraq.

    The majority of the 26,381 respondents also disapproved of the way five other foreign policy areas have been handled.

    The poll, released ahead of President Bush's State of the Union speech, was conducted between November and January.

    The number of those who said the US was a positive influence in the world fell in 18 nations polled in previous years.

    In those countries, 29% of people said the US had a positive influence, down from 36% last year and 40% two years ago.

    Across the 25 countries polled, 49% of respondents said the US played a mainly negative role in the world.

    In Kenya, Nigeria, the Philippines and the US most of those polled said they thought the America had a positive role.

  7. Woe is me...every power is playing chess while the Anglos and Hebrews play checkers...

    In Russia:

    In reality, however, China has a long way to go before it can openly and directly challenge US dominance in space. Research and development (R&D), manufacturing, testing and fielding of any future Chinese anti-satellite system will be answered by the United States and its allies. At the moment, the US has both the funds and the ability to field extensive countermeasures to Chinese space advances, a cost many other countries would find prohibitive...

    In the U.S.
    US Hawks Bolstered By China Weapons Test In Space:

    China's reported shooting down of an orbiting satellite will bolster hawks in Washington concerned that Beijing poses a strategic threat to the United States, a newspaper warned here Saturday. "Good shooting, yes, but is it good politics?" the Financial Times asked in an editorial. "The US clearly sees it as part of an effort by China to develop anti-satellite capability that could threaten its extensive space assets," the newspaper said.
    "The Chinese test may or may not lead to a new arms race in space. But it will certainly strengthen the hand of hawks in Washington who regard Chinese power as a strategic threat to the US," it added.

    In Lebanon...
    The Sunnis will love this.
    Tens of thousands of Hizballah and pro-Syrian supporters flock to Beirut for fresh assault on Siniora government Tuesday

    Pro-Syrian factions and militias are streaming to Beirut to stage a one million-strong rally Tues. Jan 23. Anti-government organizers plan to strangle the capital by blocking its entrances and exits to keep people from work and shut down the international airport.

    Intelligence sources report that the pro-Syrian camp of Hizballah’s followers and allies, including Gen. Michel Aoun, expect to topple the pro-Western government within a week. And if not, they will turn up the heat, including the use of arms.

    In the south, Israeli warplanes Monday buzzed the long lines of Hizballah vehicles heading to Beirut.

    the territories...
    (MEMRI) Escalation in Fatah-Hamas Conflict

    The Paki generals even have us believing that they are carrying out those aerial bombardments.

    No worries on that eastern border with India and also in Kashmir

    Five days after the President's address, Defense Secretary Gates embarked on a trip to Europe and the Middle East. Speaking to reporters at NATO headquarters in Brussels, Gates said that the U.S. was building up its forces to demonstrate its resolve to remain in the Persian Gulf: "The Iranians clearly believe that we are tied down in Iraq, that they're in a position to press us in many ways . . . We are simply trying to communicate to the region that we are going to be there for a long time."

    Saudi Arabia...
    In remarks to reporters in New Delhi this week, Mr. Naimi said the kingdom's spare-capacity cushion would expand to three million barrels a day by Feb 1...That is a half-million barrels a day more than is exported by Iran, whose nuclear-research standoff with the U.S. has stirred jitters about supply disruptions in the Persian Gulf...

    Will AQ expend bodies and resources fighting the Shia in the decade ahead?

    I haven't read any body counts of dead jihadists /insurgents on this site, only Americans. If one only counts dead U.S. troops that seems a fairly unequal equation reflecting events.

    We all need to learn patience; or as our advesary says...I will be patient until patience outwears patience

  8. Wretchard is getting the point about “moderate” Islam and our friend Saudi Arabia, if these threads mean what I think.

    Welcome to the Party

    You are either against us or against us

  9. Apart from demonstrating its capability of engaging in a potential "Star Wars", China's launching of a ground-based ballistic missile to destroy one of its own weather satellites two weeks ago was also intended to deter Taiwan from moving toward independence.


    The US administration publicly demanded that China explain why it had conducted a test of its growing anti-satellite capability. "We know the Chinese have conducted this test," said Tom Casey, a US State Department spokesman.

    "We certainly want to hear from them in a more detailed way exactly what their intentions are. We don't want to see a situation where there is any militarization of space."

    Aimed at Taiwan

  10. elijah,

    Since the operation in Iraq is still couched in the lingo of law enforcement, arrests are paramount. In police work, the killing of the perp is a no-no. One doesn't hear anything about the penance of penitentiaries, but that could come eventually.

  11. "China's launching of a ground-based ballistic missile to destroy one of its own weather satellites two weeks ago was also intended to deter Taiwan from moving toward independence."

    Lost in the chorus of analysis is how Russia likely perceives the Chinese test. Although Russia has been mentioned by most analysts as one of the concerned states, nearly every assessment has centered on the United States. Clearly, it is not popular today to argue that Russia considers China a potential threat. Numerous official visits and even joint Sino-Russian military exercises seem to underscore the developing relationship between China and Russia. Both Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Hu Jintao take every opportunity to underscore the "friendship and cooperation" between the two states in trade, military ties and diplomacy. Still, China's sudden breakthrough in space and anti-satellite technology did not go unnoticed in Moscow.

    First, Russia has many of its military, intelligence and even communication satellites in low Earth orbit, somewhere between 320 and 800 kilometers above ground. Such distance puts them within easy reach of China's new capabilities. Beijing, for example, destroyed its aging satellite at about 865km above ground.
    - Asia Times

  12. Interesting perspective...

    the United States had another important consideration on its plate: the deteriorating situation in Saudi Arabia. The United States was the primary cause of that deterioration. It had forced the Saudi government to crack down on al Qaeda in the kingdom, and the radical Islamists were striking back at the regime. An incipient civil war was under way and intensifying. Contrary to myth, the United States did not intervene in Iraq over oil -- anyone looking at U.S. behavior over the past year can see the desultory efforts on behalf of the Iraqi oil industry -- but the United States had to be concerned about the security of oil shipments from Saudi Arabia. If those were disrupted, the global economy would go reeling. It was one thing to put pressure on the Saudis; it was another thing to accept a civil war as the price of that pressure. And it was yet another thing to think calmly about the fall of the House of Saud. But taking Saudi oil off the market was not acceptable.

    The Iranians had a number of mutually supporting interests. First, they wanted a neutral or pro-Iranian Iraq in order to make another Iran-Iraq war impossible. For this, they needed a Shiite-dominated government. Second, they were interested in redressing the balance of power in the Islamic world between Sunnis and Shia, in particular with the Saudi Wahhabis. Finally, they wanted -- in the long run -- to become the dominant power in the Persian Gulf. Their relationship with the United States in Iraq was the linchpin for all of this.

    From the Saudi point of view, they might be able to contain the radical Islamists using traditional tribal politics and payoffs, but facing the Wahhabis and the Shia at the same time would be impossible. The third-phase policy of entente between the United States and the Shiite-Iranian bloc seemed to guarantee a Shiite rising in Saudi Arabia in the not-too-distant future.

    There were therefore two layers to the U.S. policy shift. The first was internal to Iraq. The second had to do with increased concerns about the security of oil shipments from the kingdom if the Iranians encouraged a rising in Saudi Arabia. The United States did not lighten up at all on demanding full cooperation on al Qaeda. The Saudis supplied that. But the United States did not want oil shipments disrupted. In the end, the survival or demise of the House of Saud does not matter to the United States -- except to the degree that it affects the availability of oil.

    The United States has to balance the pressure it puts on Saudi Arabia to fight al Qaeda against the threat of oil disruption. It cannot lighten up on either. From the American point of view, the right balance is a completely committed Saudi Arabia and freely flowing oil. The United States had moved much closer to the former, and it now needed to ensure the latter. Jerking the rug out from under the Iranians and the Shia was the U.S. answer.

    Oil does not cost more than $50 a barrel because of China. It costs more than $50 a barrel because of fears that Saudi oil really could come off the market. The obvious danger is an Iranian-underwritten rising in southern Iraq that spills over into Saudi Arabia (reason for the surge?), but the Iranians have an excellent intelligence organization with a strong covert capability. They are capable of answering in their own way.

  13. Despite the recent improvement in relations between Russia and China, the Kremlin is getting both apprehensive and uncomfortable with its growing role as a staple supplier to China's growing economic miracle. Ballistic and space-based technology was, until this week, one area where Russia still felt like a superpower when compared to China.

    That crucial advantage has now been eroded significantly.

    It is prudent to watch Moscow's political and military reaction to China's test since Beijing's actions have narrowed an ever-closing gap between the two neighbors, raising new questions about the future and progress of Sino-Russian relations. The time when China can overtake Russia militarily is approaching.

    Anti-Satellite Capabilities

  14. Christopher R. Hill, the top American envoy for eliminating North Korea's nuclear weapons program, said yesterday that the resumption of six-party talks in Beijing should not be affected by U.S. concerns over China's test of an anti-satellite missile.


    In September 2005, negotiators struck a deal in which North Korea would abandon its nuclear weapons program in exchange for security guarantees and economic aid. Subsequent six-party talks stalled after the Treasury Department moved to have a North Korean bank account frozen in Macau and were further complicated when Pyongyang detonated a nuclear device in October.

    "I don't want to go into the specifics, but I do believe we have a basis for making progress in the six-party talks," Mr. Hill said. "People ask if I'm optimistic. I'd rather not make a bet on the game I'm playing in, but I think based on all the consultations we've had in the last week we have a basis for getting together as soon as possible."

    Talks Unencumbered

  15. Occasionally, given the subtlety of analysis, it is overlooked that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia exports two things: petroleum and Wahhbism. One is an exhaustible commodity, the other a virulent ideology.

  16. elijah, The main reason Enemy KIA numbers are not often sited is they are unimportant, at current rates.

    Unless the Enemy is losing combatants, by the tens of thousands, rather then the ones and twos even dozens as is currently the case, the numbers are inconsequental.

    We are not in an enemy body count war.

    Those enemy comgatants that are detained will be balanced by a previously detained combatant being released, to free up the bed for the new guy.
    Average detention seems to be about six months.
    This policy of detainee rotation, sometimes refered to as
    "Catch & Release"
    has been Standard Operating Procedure since '03.

  17. Russia scrambles

    In addition to being in the midst of processing China's anti-satellite missile capabilities, here's more for Putin to worry about:

    A U.S. proposal to install part of its missile defense system in former Warsaw Pact nations is a "clear threat" to Russia, a leading Russian general said Monday.

    Col. Gen. Vladimir Popovkin, chief of the military's Space Forces, which is responsible for missile detection, spoke two days after the Czech prime minister said the U.S. had asked to put a high-power radar base in his country as part of its global missile defense system.

    "Our analysis shows that the placement of a radar station in the Czech Republic and an anti-missile position in Poland would create a clear threat for Russia," the RIA-Novosti and Interfax news agencies quoted Popovkin as saying.

    The U.S. has been negotiating with Poland and the Czech Republic, both former communist states now in NATO, as it explores setting up missile defense sites in eastern Europe.

    [...] U.S. efforts to deploy part of the defense system in former Soviet satellite states that are now NATO members has drawn repeated opposition from Russia, adding to strains between the two Cold War superpowers.

    U.S. officials contend the system could defend Europe against intercontinental missiles fired by states such as Iran and North Korea, but Russian authorities have warned that the military balance in Europe could be at stake and said the development risked a new arms race.

    Following the Czech prime minister's statement Saturday, Andrei Kokoshin, a former Russian Security Council chief who now heads parliament's committee for ties with former Soviet bloc nations, warned that lawmakers would recommend "retaliatory measures."

    [...] Analysts said the test represented an indirect threat to U.S. defense systems by raising the possibility that its spy satellites could be shot down. The threat wouldn't affect the anti-missile system, which relies only on ground-based radar.

    From sam's link:

    Furthermore, while Russia is happy to sell military hardware to China, there is a clear line that Moscow will not cross with its neighbor. Moscow's military leadership stated on a number of occasions that Russia will not supply its latest high-tech weapons to China for security reasons, even if the price is right. There is a growing level of discomfort in Moscow with China's rapid ascent. Now, China can potentially threaten one Russian asset that still gives it enormous strength and confidence -- its space-based assets.

    Russia is finding out quickly that while aiding Iran and Syria in their nuclear pursuits while deliberately supplying less-than-perfect technology to them would be unlikely to endanger its prominence as a regional power, the same cannot be said of China.

    With the Chinese confirming the test, the propensity to threaten Russian interests - or perhaps the deterrent factor - in Siberia and the Far East will force Russia to rethink its foreign policy.

    One area where Russia has been able to maintain a lead over China has been in its ballistic forces.

    China might not be far off from overtaking Russian military capabilities in the future, but that is decidedly less relevant in the context should a space arms race break out. Short of that actually transpiring, Russia believes that its ICBMs and multifarious ballistic missiles will function as a potent deterrent should China's anti-satellite missiles swivel in Russia's direction.

    And therein lies the refusal to allow the US to construct its anti-missile defence system (which would not be affected in any case should satellites get destroyed), for Russia is unconvinced that the US would actually intervene on behalf of it to stop Chinese breaching of space over Russia. Neither is Putin assured of the purity - or lack thereof - of US intentions to further garner support among nations naturally hostile to it - Poland and the Czech Republic.

    A plausible scenario, but I might be wrong. Nevertheless, the prospect of relinquishing the heavyweight prestige of "superpower" status to a virtual newcomer like China will weigh heavily on Russian minds.

  18. > I haven't read any body counts of dead jihadists /insurgents on this site, only Americans.

    The Bush Administration foolishly does not realize that it needs to fight a propaganda war in addition to fighting on the battle field. Our enemy, both overseas and in the United States, gives a top priority to information war and what goes on the airwaves. In fact, tactics like suicide bombings in shopping malls are almost useless from a military perspective, but are done solely for propaganda value.

    More information about insurgent casaulties has become available lately, perhaps because Bush feels the need to respond to attacks on his new plan. One report said something like 50 insurgents killed and an equal number captured in one operation in the Baghdad area recently. The Iraqis played a big part in the operation.