“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, February 27, 2007

The EB - News At Noon

The NYTimes is reporting that the Taliban are claiming that Cheney was their target.

In another story, they're reporting that Cheney was in Pakistan playing bad cop to George Bush's good cop. The message Cheney delivered didn't go down well and the Pakis got hot:
the Pakistani government lashed out Monday with a series of statements insisting that “Pakistan does not accept dictation from any side or any source.”
Or maybe, they had to do a show for domestic consumption. In any case, they Pakis let off steam and cooled down quickly as Cheney was flying to Afghanistan where bad weather forced him down in Bagram. His itinerary was closely guarded, so there is some doubt about the Taliban's claims to have deliberately targeted him.

Finally, from the NYTimes comes this interesting bit of news:
The Iraqi cabinet approved a draft of a law on Monday that would set guidelines for nationwide distribution of oil revenues and foreign investment in the immense oil industry. The endorsement reflected a major agreement among the country’s ethnic and sectarian political blocs on one of Iraq’s most divisive issues.

The draft law approved by the cabinet allows the central government to distribute oil revenues to the provinces or regions based on population, which could lessen the economic concerns of the rebellious Sunni Arabs, who fear being cut out of Iraq’s vast potential oil wealth by the dominant Shiites and Kurds. Most of Iraq’s crude oil reserves lie in the Shiite south and Kurdish north.

The law also grants regional oil companies or governments the power to sign contracts with foreign companies for exploration and development of fields, opening the door for investment by foreign companies in a country whose oil reserves rank among the world’s three largest.

Iraqi officials say dozens of major foreign companies, including ones based in the United States, Russia and China, have expressed strong interest in developing fields or have done some work with the Iraqi industry. The national oil law would allow regions to enter into production-sharing agreements with foreign companies, which some Iraqis say could lead to foreigners reaping too much of the country’s oil wealth.


  1. Rove's mind control ray-gun has claimed another victim: Carl Levin.

    "I think we ought to take action on all fronts including Syria and any other source of weapons coming in, obviously Iran is the focus – but it shouldn’t be the sole focus.” (Armed Services Committee, U.S. Senate, Hearing, 02/27/07)"

    Senator Carl Levin: Attack Into Syria And Iran

    When are we retreating from Iraq, again?

    If the Democrat Congress gives its approval to expanding the war into Iran and Syria, will that make everything OK with our resident critics?

  2. Only, allen, if we improve from the "Well we're not losing" mindset.

    I recall your indignation, last summer, when some General made that admission.

    Then Mr Bush said the course he had charted was leading to slow failure. His new Surging Course would be a way to Victory.
    Go Team!

    All pf Iraq to mirror Basra, soon enough.

    On the diplomatic front, Prince Bandar of Saudi Arabia is taking up the US cause. Acting as a go between with Iran and advisor to Ms Rice. Mr Kissinger no longer likes to travel further than the White House, so they go Bandar direct to Ms Rice.

    The General President was out on the Mohammedan Sunni World Tour.
    The Sunni Block to field a Peacekeeping Force, soon enough.

    The Biden/ Levin Plan mirrors the Baker-Hamilton Plan. Fancy that.

    Get tough, on the way out the door.
    Strike not at strategic targets, but warehouses on the Abracadabra Hiway. Creeping incrementalism.

    If the Congress declares a preemptive War against Iran, we ought to burn them to the ground.
    We won't.

  3. I recall when Mr Reid said the Democrats would support the Surge, that was before they said they would not.

  4. DR,

    Since Iran preemptively first attacked the United States in 1979, how could striking Iran be preemptive? Moreover, since you support the egalitarian will of the people, how could a united Congress be wrong if it supports enlarging the war to include Syria and Iran?

  5. The tactics employeed against Iran could be wrong, but just as in Iraq, we'd all be along for the ride. All legal, anyway.

    So far the terror attacks in Iran point to favorable trendlines. There have not been many, reported. Perhaps a half dozen, between IEDs and downed planes.

    I doubt if we would use our full inventory of weaponry to decimate the Iraninas, immediately.
    We'll enter a tit for tat exchange, that will not advantage US.
    In Iraq we are averaging a ten to one kill ratio against the Jihadi, that wouldn't handle an active Iranian guerilla incursion into Iraq.
    As exampled by the raid where those US troops where kidnapped and killed.

  6. Offically, the Embassey was taken by "Student Radicals", not the new, weak Iranian Reolutionary Government.
    Mr Carter, President at the time, bought that scenario, at least publicly.
    Just radical students, the world was full of them, at the time.

    That's one reason why the Desert One team was so small, in part a test of Iranian bull shit resolve.

  7. DR,

    That is all useful information, I am sure; but does it mean you would support expanding the war into Syria and Iran, given Congressional support?

  8. Yes, if we burned 'em down.
    No, if we pussyfooted around.

    I doubt we knock 'em out in a week, which we could. Won't make the "all in" committment to Victory.
    I do not believe Mr Bush or his Generals have it in them.

    To strike at a warehouse or two on the Shia Hiway, doesn't move US ahead, it'd be eyewash.

    I don't think we'd have to, maybe... if the Revolution begins.
    Shah Jr, he did promise a Coup.
    Never delivered, thoug, can't trust hardly any of them folk over there.

  9. If we do not go all in, better a Islamic "Cold War" over a partitioned Iraq.

    That would be preferable to an expanded War of a Thousand Cuts, one the US public will not stand with for long.

    Those seem to be the options, come Summer.

  10. DR,

    Thanks for the informative, cogent reply.

    I too doubt the administration's will.

    Something that has gone uncommented today is General Pace's testimony yesterday bemoaning the lack of US readiness. At long last, the Chairman acknowledges the fatigue of both men and equipment from the years' long struggle in the SW Asia. From information gathered over the transom and leaked to media, this has been the military's view for at least two years. That would have been nice to know.

    Rather than concentrating on the administration's duplicity, I hope the administration pulls itself together and seriously approaches Congress with plans to re-equip and enlarge the military, as some of us lesser voices on the inside have advocated for years.

    The implications of General Pace's testimony are sobering. There will be crises ahead and time is not our friend.

  11. " does it mean you would support expanding the war into Syria and Iran, given Congressional support? "

    It looks like the Bush team is just now getting around to adopting Baker-Hamilton. If we're now negotiating with the Iranians and Syrians in Iraq , it seems extremely unlikely we're gonna be attacking them any time soon.

    WASHINGTON - The United States and the Iraqi government are launching a new diplomatic initiative to invite Iran and Syria to a “neighbors meeting” on stabilizing Iraq, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Tuesday.

    “We hope that all governments seize this opportunity to improve their relations with Iraq and to work for peace and stability in the region,” Rice said in remarks prepared for delivery to a Senate committee. Excerpts were released in advance by the State Department.

    This all takes place against a backdrop where Tony Blair is talking about engaging 'sensible' Hamas members to move the peace process forward in the middle east, as well as removing all British troops from Iraq by the end of '08.

    British Prime Minister Tony Blair said Wednesday progress could be made in the Middle East with "sensible" members of Hamas. "I think there are possibilities for progress and I hope that in the coming weeks a framework to take this forward becomes a bit clearer," Blair told the British parliament. And the Canadians are not renewing their anti-terrorism law.

    This all sound like 'Come Home America' and bring back the 90's to me.

  12. stoutfellow,

    Could Mr. Blair's remaining time in office be better spent finding "sensible" jihadists on his home turf? Recent reports from MI5 indicate thousands of Muslims planning terrorist attacks within the UK.

  13. Back to the '90s, stout, back to the '90s & the end of history.

    The US is funding aQ cells in Lebanon, according to Seymour, wouldn't that be somethin', if true?

  14. Could Mr. Blair's remaining time in office be better spent finding "sensible" jihadists on his home turf?

    It would be a lot better for the Brits and the Israelis, if he spent his time in that manner. Instead, he offers legitimacy to a mortal enemy of the Jewish state, which is bound by its charter to be such until Judgement Day.

    So far (cross your fingers here), the Bush Administration continues to refuse to turn the money spigot back on for a Hamas-led 'Palestinian government' - until Hamas recognizes Israel's right to exist. This remains as the only bright spot in Bush foreign policy. If it changes, we will know that things have gone totally to sh*t in the region.

    The US is funding aQ cells in Lebanon, according to Seymour, wouldn't that be somethin', if true?

    I hope our allies the Saudis are picking up some of the tab. We definitely don't need the Shia in power in the Levant. But since when are Al-Qaeda and their Saudi buddies any better? I'm getting a headache from all this intrigue.

  15. stoutfellow,

    With no disrespect to DR for referencing Seymour, Mr. Hersh, like Debka, sometimes seems to leave significant lose ends untied. Both Debka and Seymour are apparently willing to take considerable poetic license in the interest of a meme. Although I would love to say Hersh is full of it, I am too gun shy at this late date to go that far. So, hold your nose and wait for the skunk to pass.