“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."

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Cold War Nostalgia. Gates Answers "Putin, the Little."

The appointment of Gates to Defense seems to have been a wise move. He recognizes the complexities of the US military as being part of the overall US diplomatic effort in a very challenging world. This article by DW-World.DE will bring you up to speed with our little Soviet pretender, Putin, being attended to by Secretary Gates.

Security | 11.02.2007, Deutsche Welle, German World Wide News Service

US Defense Chief to Putin: "One Cold War Was Enough"

Gates responded to Putin with humor

US Defense Secretary Robert Gates on Sunday dismissed a stinging broadside against the United States by Russian President Vladimir Putin, declaring: "One Cold War was quite enough."

Gates, a former CIA director who witnessed the collapse of the Soviet Union, responded with wry humor and a history lesson to Putin who portrayed the United States in a speech here Saturday as a dangerous, destabilizing world power.

"Speaking of issues going back many years, as an old Cold Warrior, one of yesterday's speakers almost filled me with nostalgia for a less complex time. Almost," Gates said in a speech to the same international security conference.

"I have, like your second speaker yesterday, a starkly different background -- a career in the spy business. And I guess old spies have a habit of blunt speaking," he said.

Re-education for a Cold Warrior

But in his debut speech as US defense chief, Gates said he had gone to "re-education camp" as a university president where he learned in dealing with academic faculties that it is either "be nice" or "be gone."

Gates said the world today is different and more complex than during the Cold War era, and partnerships with other countries, including Russia, were needed to face common problems and a new challenge from Islamic extremism.

He said he had accepted an invitation from Putin and Russian Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov to visit Russia.

'Rumsfeld's "Old Europe" belongs to the past'

The new US defense secretary also made a passing but pointed reference to his predecessor, Donald Rumsfeld, who antagonized European powers by dividing the NATO alliance into countries that supported the US invasion in Iraq and those who did not.

Putin surprised the conference by lashing out at the United States Saturday
"Over the years, people have tried to put the nations of Europe and of the Alliance into different categories -- the 'free world' versus 'those behind the Iron Curtain', 'North' versus 'South', 'East' versus 'West,'" he said. "And I am told that some have even spoken in terms of 'old' Europe versus 'new.'

"All of these characterizations belong to the past," he said.

"Looking back, it seems clear that totalitarianism was defeated as much by ideas the West championed -- now and then -- as by ICBMs (intercontinental ballistic missiles), tanks and warships that the West deployed," he said. "Our most effective weapon, then and now, has been Europe and North America's shared belief in political and economic freedom, religious toleration, human rights and representative government and the rule of law," he said.

"Today they are under threat by another virulent ideological adversary and are confronted by a range of other looming geopolitical challenges," he said.

Energy for political coercion

Putin on Saturday stunned top officials and academics gathered in Munich with a vehement attack on US leadership in the world. A former KGB spy, Putin charged that United States has "overstepped its borders in all spheres," creating a dangerous "uni-polar" world that had brought war, ruin and insecurity.

He questioned the intentions behind NATO expansion eastward into countries that once formed part of the Soviet Union, and US plans for missile defense systems in Poland and the Czech Republic, former Soviet bloc states.

Gates in contrast said Russia was "a partner in endeavors."

"But we wonder, too, about some Russian policies that seem to work against international stability, such as its arms transfers and its temptation to use energy resources for political coercion," he said.

Russia "need not fear law-based democracies on its border," he added.

Exporting security

Gates identified violent extremism "grounded in a profound alienation from the foundations of the modern world" as a challenge "unlike anything the West has faced in many generations."

Security was tight in Munich for the conference
"No fewer than 18 terrorist organizations, many linked with al-Qaeda, have pulled off bloody attacks throughout the world," he said. "Those attacks -- and other threats that have since emerged -- revealed even more starkly the need to reorient the Atlantic alliance to be able to export security beyond the borders of NATO," he said.

He stressed the importance of not allowing success in Afghanistan to slip away.

Other challenges he cited included sectarian conflicts and jihadist movements radiating out from Central Asia and the Middle East; an Iran "with hegemonic ambitions seeking nuclear power;" and the struggle over the future of Iraq.

He also said China was at a "strategic crossroads."

"All of us seek a constructive relationship with China, but we also wonder about strategic choices China may make," he said. "We note with concern their recent test of an anti-satellite weapon."
DW staff / AFPE (ncy)

*SR-71: A surveillance and reconnaissance plane, the Blackbird holds records for speed (2,193 mph) and altitude (85,069 feet) for a turbine-powered aircraft. It was a platform for spy imagery until its retirement more than a decade ago. It was the only airplane of its day that could fly unchallenged over the Soviet Union.The SR-71 was in service from 1964 to 1998.


  1. That is what I like about Gates. Putin is so Russian and heavy handed. Gates smoothly emphasized the negative tone of what Vladimir was puting about. Rumsfeld would have taken the bait.

  2. BBC NEWS is reporting that Putin's speech did not go over well in Munich. They say that he seemed a l little too eager to launch his diatribe accusing the "US of establishing, or trying to establish, a "uni-polar" world."

    "What is a uni-polar world? No matter how we beautify this term, it means one single centre of power, one single centre of force and one single master," he said.

    President Putin continued in a similar vein for some time.

    "The United States has overstepped its borders in all spheres - economic, political and humanitarian, and has imposed itself on other states," he said.

    It was a formula that, he said, had led to disaster: "Local and regional wars did not get fewer, the number of people who died did not get less but increased. We see no kind of restraint - a hyper-inflated use of force."

    The US has gone "from one conflict to another without achieving a fully-fledged solution to any of them", Mr Putin said.

    With the new US Defence Secretary Robert Gates and several US congressmen sitting in the audience, he called for the reconsideration of the whole existing architecture of global security.

    Several delegates did not like his rather brusque brushing off of questions about Russia's own commitment to democracy and his defence of Moscow's decision to sell an air-defence system to Iran.

    Nato Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer described President Putin's speech as "disappointing and not helpful". And there was similar reaction from the president of Estonia and others.

    But it was left to US Republican senator and presidential hopeful John McCain to lead the retort.

    Today's world, he said sternly, was not uni-polar, adding that it was an autocratic Russia that needed to change its behaviour.

    "Moscow must understand that it cannot enjoy a genuine partnership with the West so long as its actions at home and abroad conflict so fundamentally with the core values of Euro-Atlantic democracies," he said.

    "In today's multi-polar world, there is no place for needless confrontation, and I would hope that Russian leaders understand this truth," Senator McCain said.

  3. Oh for zog's sake, will someone throw that soviet lily putin a bone already.

  4. Lilypuytin...I like that. The only thing that gives lil' lil any credibilility is energy. Rufus has sung this many a time:

    50 Ways To Leave Your Lover

    The problem is all inside your head
    She said to me
    The answer is easy if you
    Take it logically
    I’d like to help you in your struggle
    To be free
    There must be fifty ways
    To leave your lover

    She said it’s really not my habit
    To intrude
    Furthermore, I hope my meaning
    Won’t be lost or misconstrued
    But I’ll repeat myself
    At the risk of using too much crude
    There must be fifty ways
    To leave your lover
    Fifty ways to leave your lover

    You just slip out of the oil, Doyle
    Make a new plan, Stan
    You don’t need to be coy, Roy
    Just get yourself free
    Hop on the hybrid bus, Gus
    You don’t need to discuss much
    Just drop off the key, Lee
    And get yourself free

    She said it grieves me so
    To see you in such pain
    I wish there was something I could do
    To make you smile again
    I said I appreciate that
    And would you please explain
    About the fifty ways

    She said why don’t we both
    Just sleep on it tonight
    And I believe in the morning
    You’ll begin to see the light
    And then she kissed me
    And I realized she probably was right
    There must be fifty ways
    To leave your lover
    Fifty ways to leave your lover

  5. Did not the fellows that sang this tune go bold? :D

  6. I'm referring to that Grandfunkler fellow and his Simoneezze twin, of course.

  7. Hey, transplanted pubic hair doesn't count!

  8. So, speaking of the Cold War, this fellow:
    William E. Odom, a retired Army lieutenant general, was head of Army intelligence and director of the National Security Agency under Ronald Reagan. He served on the National Security Council staff under Jimmy Carter. A West Point graduate with a PhD from Columbia, Odom teaches at Yale and is a fellow of the Hudson Institute.
    Has all the same remarkable career traits as Mr Gates. Headed up a couple of spy groups, Army Intel and the NSA, before heading off to Academia. As complete a resume, as it were.

    Mr ex-General Odom sees things VERY differently than does Mr Gates, though. At least as far as the situation in Iraq is concerned.

    Another Reagan Defense Appointee jumps ship, along with Mr Webb, that makes, what, two?

    Anyway Mr General Odom writes at today's WaPo
    his assessment of the situation in Iraq.
    Victory Is Not an Option
    The Mission Can't Be Accomplished -- It's Time for a New Strategy

    Which is a conclusion I came to a couple of years ago, now. But Mr General Odom articulates the four basic arguments for and against remaining in Iraq, in occupation.
    1) We must continue the war to prevent the terrible aftermath that will occur if our forces are withdrawn soon.
    2) We must continue the war to prevent Iran's influence from growing in Iraq.
    3) We must prevent the emergence of a new haven for al-Qaeda in Iraq.
    4) We must continue to fight in order to "support the troops."

  9. The administration finally states what has been known for months - Iran is actively aarming the insurgency in Iraq.

    Adding pressure or making a case?

    Add the appointment of Fallon, the two carrier groups due on station feb-march. Figure the windy season starts April or so. March madness then.

    Kosovo flared up a little today, its the unrest season coming up there (first sun in spring). Bears watching, look for "spark" incidents to get the crowds out. Lock and load KFOR! Check your contingency plans, keep the shields and CS handy. Plan for gunmen in the crowds. Don't get caught with pants down again like we did in '04.

  10. from Rat's link:

    ..."First, the assumption that the United States could create a liberal, constitutional democracy in Iraq defies just about everything known by professional students of the topic. Of the more than 40 democracies created since World War II, fewer than 10 can be considered truly "constitutional" -- meaning that their domestic order is protected by a broadly accepted rule of law, and has survived for at least a generation. None is a country with Arabic and Muslim political cultures. None has deep sectarian and ethnic fissures like those in Iraq.

    Strangely, American political scientists whose business it is to know these things have been irresponsibly quiet. In the lead-up to the March 2003 invasion, neoconservative agitators shouted insults at anyone who dared to mention the many findings of academic research on how democracies evolve. They also ignored our own struggles over two centuries to create the democracy Americans enjoy today. Somehow Iraqis are now expected to create a constitutional order in a country with no conditions favoring it.

    This is not to say that Arabs cannot become liberal democrats. When they immigrate to the United States, many do so quickly. But it is to say that Arab countries, as well as a large majority of all countries, find creating a stable constitutional democracy beyond their capacities.

    Second, to expect any Iraqi leader who can hold his country together to be pro-American, or to share American goals, is to abandon common sense. It took the United States more than a century to get over its hostility toward British occupation. (In 1914, a majority of the public favored supporting Germany against Britain.) Every month of the U.S. occupation, polls have recorded Iraqis' rising animosity toward the United States. Even supporters of an American military presence say that it is acceptable temporarily and only to prevent either of the warring sides in Iraq from winning. Today the Iraqi government survives only because its senior members and their families live within the heavily guarded Green Zone, which houses the U.S. Embassy and military command.

    As Congress awakens to these realities -- and a few members have bravely pointed them out -- will it act on them? Not necessarily. Too many lawmakers have fallen for the myths that are invoked to try to sell the president's new war aims. Let us consider the most pernicious of them.

    1) We must continue the war to prevent the terrible aftermath that will occur if our forces are withdrawn soon. Reflect on the double-think of this formulation. We are now fighting to prevent what our invasion made inevitable! Undoubtedly we will leave a mess -- the mess we created, which has become worse each year we have remained. Lawmakers gravely proclaim their opposition to the war, but in the next breath express fear that quitting it will leave a blood bath, a civil war, a terrorist haven, a "failed state," or some other horror. But this "aftermath" is already upon us; a prolonged U.S. occupation cannot prevent what already exists.

    2) We must continue the war to prevent Iran's influence from growing in Iraq. This is another absurd notion. One of the president's initial war aims, the creation of a democracy in Iraq, ensured increased Iranian influence, both in Iraq and the region. Electoral democracy, predictably, would put Shiite groups in power -- groups supported by Iran since Saddam Hussein repressed them in 1991. Why are so many members of Congress swallowing the claim that prolonging the war is now supposed to prevent precisely what starting the war inexorably and predictably caused? Fear that Congress will confront this contradiction helps explain the administration and neocon drumbeat we now hear for expanding the war to Iran."...

  11. Why he asks? It is simple. Bush before being President knew almost nothing about history and had no interest in it. Most members on Congress have spent their lives running for things, from school boards, and city council on through state offices and then to US offices. They are mostly gladhanders, suck-ups and driven by ambition. As a group they have little or no competence in foreign affairs, but they are our betters and masters and we must suffer through their OJT sessions.

  12. Saddam is no longer an issue, rufus.
    Why even bring up such ancient history?
    In any case, he did not have a bomb. If he had controlled 40% of the world's oil, we'g have set up ethonal distilleries, sooner.

    Saddam's been gone for four years, it's tomorrow, already.

    westhawk talks more about Mr Gates and his testimony before Congress. The post Surge "Plan", just in case of failure. Sounds a mess, Phase II.

  13. Hand off Security Operations to the Iraqi, hold up is secured force protected garrisons.

    Though he does not mention why we should stay, just to stay.

  14. Do what, rufus?

    Take on whom?

    The greatest cultural threat is from the Sauds and their Wahabbist accolates. What does "Do It!" mean with regards the Sauds.

    The Pakistani nukes and the aQ Base Camps in Pakistan, what does "Do It!" mean there?

    In Iraq, what does "Doing It" entail? Who are we to "Do It" to?

    We do not need Iraqi or Iranian oil, we've done without Iranian for over two decades, Iraqi almost as long.

    My Liberty is not contingent upon the freedoms of the Iraqi, to vote for their Iranian kinsmen's minions.

  15. Baghdad was Hashemite country. Makka too.

  16. We are not the World, nor responsible for it, nor is my Country.

    If we could help those folk out, there in Iraq, well and good.
    That the US Government is inefficient, inept and full of fools is true here in it's AZ employees. It seems true in DC and abroad, as well.
    The US Military has proven that Ms Rice and Mr Bush were correct, in 1999. They are poor policemen and even worse at Nation-building. No matter the good intentions and their best efforts.

    How can the US Government possibly "secure" Baghdad, when the US/Mexican frontier is beyond it's ability to effectively patrol.
    Bands of armed guerillas roam the countryside, raiding homes, setting up roadblocks, killing and kidnapping. There is even a case where these armed infiltrators met a National Guard patrol, both groups redeploying to safer ground, without further incident. The infiltrators were not detained, no shots fired.

    No the US Government is failing in it's primary security responsibilities, here in the Homeland. Baghdad has definately proven to be a bridge to far, at least for now, with the current Doctrines and mindsets.

  17. Why would it go "offline" rufus?
    In either Iran or Iraq.

    That is a strawman arguement.

  18. If those supplies do go "offline"

    The US draws on it Strategic Reserves, the Chinese mobilize to secure their interests in Iran.
    We can assist.
    Iran has been ruled from China, before, there is historical precedent.

  19. If the oil does go offline, it's China that will be sunk.

  20. Mongolia is not China, d'Rat. Never was.

  21. But the Mongolians were ruling from China. By the time they got to Persia and Baghdad.

    The Mongolian bookkeepers and administrators were Chinamen, me thinks.

  22. The ME oil fields of Iraq and Iran were secure before 150,000 US troops arrived in Iraq, they will be secure after they are gone.

    Hire more "contractors" if they need to,
    It is not the US responsibility to secure Iraqi wealth for one group or another. The Oil is not the US's property to be divied as needed. It is a commodity, owned by those livin' on it. Let them decide how to share. I could care less.

    If the Iraqi do not sell to the Chinese, it would not, today, be enough of a concern to dispatch an US Expeditionary Force to Iraq.
    Much less occupy Iraq, to secure Chinese oil supplies.
    Where is the Chinese contribution?

  23. It seems to be that everyone is trying to be buying time; Bush, for missile defense, ethanol economy; Iran, for fissionable toys; Russia, for more petro dollars.

  24. This comment has been removed by the author.

  25. In Iran. That's where China gets its oil from.

  26. If the US government must open the strategic reserve, at what price would replacement be purchased?

  27. DR,

    re: The Oil is not the US's property to be divied as needed. It is a commodity, owned by those livin' on it.

    With respect, that has never been the case except in the most unrealistically technical sense of ownership.

  28. Japan and China are the main importers of Iranian oil.

  29. Not at all, allen.
    Remember the OPEC boycotts?

    The US does not have Global Dominion. Even if Mr Putin believes it to be the case.

    In times past, when demand was not so great, Market Value meant a type of operational US proprietary, but if producing countries were to move away from the Market Value model, present US Military Doctrines would not prevent them from doing so.

    The OPEC Boycott proving the point, historicly.

    Or would the US Navy sieze tankers and redirect them to US refineries, if the product on board the Liberian tanker was bound for China or India, instead of New Orleans?

  30. If Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, and Europe to a lesser degree, can be weaned off Iranian supply and instead have their contracts renewed with Iraq, then that would leave China with the short straw. It will also provide a way forward with Iran.

  31. What a machine the SR-71 Blackbird, and what of its successor?

    ...Feb 10, 2007 Asian Times
    It is seldom that the Russian president is publicly contradicted by officials in Moscow. But in the Russian reaction to Tehran's proposal for formal cooperation among the major gas-producing countries, it happened.

    Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei conveyed the Iranian suggestion to the visiting secretary general of Russia's National Security Council, Igor Ivanov, in Tehran on January 28. The next day, Russia's Gazprom reacted in Moscow that "establishing a gas OPEC [Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries] is impossible because of different structuring of the oil and gas business".

    At a press conference in Moscow, President Vladimir Putin took a giant leap forward. He said, "A gas OPEC is an interesting idea, and we will think about it. In this initial stage we will agree with the Iranian specialists, with our Iranian partners and with some of the other countries that are large suppliers of fossil fuels, above all gas, to world markets, and we are already trying to coordinate our activities on the markets of third countries. We plan to continue doing so in future."

    Will the energy assets of the Caspian Sea and Straight of Hormuz be secure after we are gone or does Iran covet the oil reserves of southeastern Iraq, southern Azerbaijan, and northwestern Saudi Arabia?

    "From an economic standpoint, Iran is a changeling monster, an oil well attached to an iron lung, as it were, maintaining with subsidies a rural population that is no longer viable. Oil and natural gas earn $1,300 a year for each Iranian, roughly a fifth of per-capita GDP. The Islamic republic dispenses this wealth to keep alive a moribund economy. Government spending has risen by four-and-a-half times during the past four years, financed via the central bank's printing press, pushing inflation up to 15% pa [per annum], while unemployment remains at 11%."

    Reengineering the shape of Iran's population, the central plank of the new government's domestic program, should be understood as the flip side of Iran's nuclear coin. Aggressive relocation of Iranians and an aggressive foreign policy both constitute a response to the coming crisis.

    Iran claims that it must develop nuclear power to replace diminishing oil exports. It seems clear that Iranian exports will fall sharply, perhaps to zero by 2020, according to Iranian estimates. But Iran's motives for acquiring nuclear power are not only economic but strategic. Like Hitler and Stalin, Ahmadinejad looks to imperial expansion as a solution for economic crisis at home.

    "Iran wants effective control of Iraq through its ascendant Shi'ite majority, and ultimately control of the oil-rich regions of western Saudi Arabia, where Shi'ites form a majority. Ahmadinejad wants to make Iran a regional power not only in production but in transmission, through a proposed oil pipeline through Iraq and Syria."

    There is also Iran's goal of wiping Israel off the map.

  32. Stalling for time and waiting for the other shoe to drop or in denial.

  33. To do that, mat, Iraqi production wold have to increase, almost triple. Iraq has been steady at a tad over 2 million barrels per day, both pre and post Invasion.
    Iran is pumping just short of 4 million, today..

    The Ruler of Iraq will have to lock the country down, to get that kind of production, spiked to 5 million barrels per day, out of Iraq.

  34. Iraq can be brought up to 4 mil/day, I have no doubt. How long that will take, I don't know. I hope not more than a couple of years.

  35. Iran was handed effective control of Iraq through its ascendant Shi'ite majority by the Policies of the US. It was a predicted path we choose. Mr Bremer spoke of it, as has Mr Senor.
    The Democratization of Iraq guarenteed Iranian influence. Always did, we knew that going in.

    "...ultimately control of the oil-rich regions of western Saudi Arabia, where Shi'ites form a majority. ..."

    Again, this repressed sectarian minority, forelornly looks to the World for it's "Rights" to be respected. To the Wahabbist Rulers of Saudi Arabia the Shia minority are sub-human, not worthy of State largesse. Who else, but their sectarian brothers from Iran and Iraq answer the call to support their religious freedom?
    The Iranians steadfast in their support for Shia populations suffering sectarian discrimination.

    From the 1991 Shia Revolt & Debacle to starting agricultural banks in Iraq to the situation in Saudi Arabia. The Iranian Mullahs have gamed each US error, effectively.
    All the way back to the fall of the Shah.

  36. Right, rufus, Iraqi production would have to reach mid to high 4 million range, almost 5 to surplant Iranian exports.

    The oil is in the ground, who can best administer retrieving it, that is the real question.

    Four years of US oversight has not changed production levels, time for new Administrators, perhaps.

  37. The people of Basra, Iraq have voted, with their wallets.
    The script of choice, Iranian.
    A secure store of value.

    Who we gonna call?

  38. The Iranian Mullahs have gamed each US error, effectively.

    I'm not so sure. The contracts are signed, right? If the oil is nationalized that would mean war. There are, I'm sure, plenty of Sunni squatters in Jordan that will be more than willing to move to Basra after it is leveled.

  39. Dreamin', I'm afraid you're dreamin', yet again, mat.

    No place in Iraq is gonna get "Leveled", not by US, not this go round. We've already handed off down there, it's a "Success".

    Can't go back on success.

  40. It appears Putin believes that it is the U.S. that has been doing the gaming, and continues to do so.

  41. Maybe. But d'Rat, US forces are now using heavy mortars in Iraqi cities. Do you think I need to be better informed?

  42. Which cities, mat?
    Not down south, I do not believe.

    Where we have not "handed off" we have increased the Op tempo, to be sure. But where we have ceded control, we're not going back.

    Unless we do, of course. But I have not read of it, anywhere.

  43. No, I don't think you'll find it in the print news. I actually saw it, what looked to me as a 120mm being used by US troops. My kid brother was watching a program on Israeli TV, when I happened to catch a glimpse.

  44. Tariq Aziz is a Christian Chaldean.

  45. The US handed out the democracy franchise to the Iraqi Shiites. Part of the franchise did not include future obligations. One purple finger in the eye of the US unless we do it their way. Or would that be a digital examination? That OJT lesson came down from Carter and flowered with GWB.

    It seems to me that since the democratic process has benefited Iran, one arrives at an unpleasant (to the Iranians) conclusion. The US is boxed in with the Democarcy Idol. That idolatry is dogma. The only solution to the dilemma is that the beneficiary of the idolatry must be dealt with. That is Iran. Question is: when and how?

  46. How, internal frictions heated to flame, with extenuating external influences fanning them.

    When, yesterday would have been to late. Tomorrow better than never.

  47. Oh, before the how and when, Bill Roggio and Company break down the Order of Battle in Baghdad.

    They still keep the faith there, that the US Army can stop gap and that the Iraqi are about to step up.

    Here it is. Breaks it down by Unit and neighborhood. Those guys still beleive in the Cause.

    Where as I believe Mr Maliki and his Government part and parcel of the Enemy.
    So that even success on the ground is a strategic failure.

  48. This comment has been removed by the author.

  49. 'Rat,

    Don't forget that Mr Maliki and his Shiia clan will have to live in the area for a long time to come. If they are seen by the Sunni Arabs to be openly pro Iranian that will be the end for their long tern future in the area.

  50. They are already using the Iranian money in the UIA Heartland of Iraq, the Iraqi majority has voted.

    It not US Greenbacks on the streets.

    The KSA has it's own Shiite challenges, which will come to fore, soon enough.

    We're riding a tiger

  51. Have we ceded control of Sadr city?

    ...Muqtada characterizes the 80,000-plus Mehdi Army as a free-flowing "popular army" - which is correct; this means it is porous, and infiltrated by all sides.

    But Muqtada is also more than aware he may soon have to confront no fewer than four armies: a "shadow army", trained in the Jordanian desert by the Americans; Allawi's private goons, who are training "in the former Muthanna military airport"; the Kurdish peshmerga, who are coming to patrol Baghdad alongside the Americans; and the US surge itself.

    The US plan B anyway is on. If Maliki does not deliver and defang the Mehdi Army - as he certainly won't - a US-engineered white coup will be inevitable, and there are only two possibilities: "Saddam without a mustache" Allawi, or a Hakim-blessed candidate.

    How do we define leveled?
    ...Jan 14, 2007

    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.

    The Pace Quickens...

    Only days into 2007, the U.S. military had already conducted air strikes in three nations -- Afghanistan, Iraq and Somalia. And in Iraq, the air war may be increasing in pace and ferocity. For example, on January 9th, the U.S. unleashed its air power on Baghdad's Haifa Street, a "mostly Sunni Arab enclave of residential buildings and shops." According to the Washington Post, "F-15 fighter jets strafed rooftops with cannons, while the Apache[ helicopter]s fired Hellfire missiles." Elsewhere in Iraq that day, according to Air Force reports, F-16s strafed targets near Bayji with cannon fire, while others dropped GBU-38s on targets near Turki Village; and F-15Es provided "close-air support" to troops near Basrah.

    That same evening, back in the U.S., a broadcast of Fox News Channel's "Special Report with Brit Hume" offered a brief glimpse of the air war in a story by reporter David Macdougall who was, said Hume, "embedded with the Air Force in a location we cannot identify, where not only fighter jets, but bombers roared into the air headed for other targets in Iraq." Macdougall reported that the B-1B Lancer, the long-range bomber that carries the largest payload of weapons in the Air Force was, for the first time in over a year, again being employed in combat in Iraq.

    "These B-1 bombers were central to the raid. We're told they flew a ten-hour mission, and by the looks of their empty bomb bays, these planes dropped thousands of pounds of munitions. They bombed 25 targets deep inside Iraq," he said.

  52. Yeah, but they tried to pass themselves as patriotic Arabs. That charade is about to end.

  53. If they used Lancers, they certainly used 120mm mortars.

  54. DR trot out his "i told you so" our goose is cooked line of thinking for the umpteenth thousand time. Really gets old and boring. And is not a fact, merely an opinion.

  55. Well, willie, I mostly echo the President, now a days, him and his new SecDef.

    There have been umpteen signs that the goose was in the oven.
    That it is finally about done, well, there you go.

    Cascading failures or successes add up, in the end. There is always a reckoning, eventually.

    But if you've got the "Good News", please, by all means, trot it on out. I'd love to see it.

    Proof that Maliki and Company are secular progressives, just waiting to sprout wing.
    It'd be grand!