“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 06, 2007

Forget the democracy part, this is strictly business.

Remember the White House Ramadan party hosted by Bush after 911? It did not become an annual event. It was spirited away because the American people were not buying any of it. The religion of peace mantra blew up in the face of the chanters as well, as the face of Islam practiced, you guessed it, blowing things up, including themselves. Then, before we had the current surge, we had "Surge One".

That was to be the new wave of democracy poised to sweep over the Arab World. This was predicted to be a 9.3 induced tsunami that would sweep Islamadam. Critics of the notion were called racist because of our soft prejudice of low expectations when it came to things Islamic. Well the democracy thing has also passed. We are truly back to basics and that in the Middle East means Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan, and the Gulf states. It means getting the Pals to behave, controlling Lebanon and restraining the upstart Iranians.

It took a little on-the-job training, and the Republican Congressional Demolition Derby, for GWB to get his lessons straight on the Middle East, but here we are then. This fellow asks the question:

Is Bush right? —Ian Bremmer Daily Times - Pakistan

The new strategy will keep the Mahdi Army on its heels. Sadr’s militia threatens to quickly become Iraq’s answer to Hezbollah: a well-armed, politically connected private army with its own foreign policy. The more that US forces can degrade the Mahdi Army’s position and force Sadr into face-saving political moves, the weaker the militia will be relative to other forces in Iraq after US troops head home

Whatever critics at home and abroad may think, the “surge” that President Bush is planning for Iraq is more than a troop increase; it is a new and high-risk regional strategy. True, Bush’s plan will prove far too little and comes far too late to stabilise Iraq. But it does offer the United States some longer-term benefits in the regional battle with Iran for influence.

At the heart of the new strategy is Bush’s decision to take the fight directly to Iraq’s most powerful militia, the Mahdi Army. Under the nominal control of the militant cleric Moqtada Al Sadr, the group has become Iraq’s largest and best-armed fighting force and is pursuing its own political and security agenda.

The Mahdi Army has exchanged fire with US troops before, most notably during the fierce battles for control of the southern Iraqi cities of Najaf and Karbala in 2004. Those confrontations ended with a truce of sorts — though skirmishes have continued — because US forces have been reluctant to fight Sunni insurgents and Shi’a militiamen at the same time.

Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Al Maliki has also been reluctant to take on the Mahdi Army, mainly because the support of Sadr loyalists in Iraq’s parliament is crucial for his political survival. Now, instead of waiting for Maliki to act, US forces appear poised to do the job themselves.

If they can significantly degrade the militia’s strength, or at least contain its influence within Baghdad’s Shi’a slums, the Iraqi government will have a somewhat better chance of developing a credible security force and Bush can claim some success. At the very least, the new strategy recognises that the gravest challenge to stability in the near term comes from militia groups in general and the Mahdi Army in particular.

Then there is the broader and growing conflict with Iran. Recent official US rhetoric and actions on the ground — including the arrest of five Iranians in Irbil in early January and Bush’s authorisation of deadly force against Iranians who threaten Iraqi security or US troops — reflect a much more confrontational approach toward Iran’s influence inside Iraq. But it also indicates recognition that Iran’s effort to extend its regional influence poses the single biggest challenge to the Middle East’s long-term stability.

To be sure, Bush’s new strategy is highly unlikely to help Iraqis avert a slide into sectarian civil war. A temporary 16% boost in troops simply is not enough to get that job done. Bush insists that there will soon be enough US troops in central Iraq to “hold” areas seized from militia groups and insurgents. But for how long? A month? Four months? Three years? American troops will eventually leave Iraq, and all the relevant parties — the Maliki government, Shi’a militias, Sunni insurgents, Iran, and Iraq’s Sunni Arab neighbours — know it. Sadr can simply hold back and wait the Americans out.

Moreover, any viable solution in Iraq requires political agreement among Iraqis, which in turn will depend on their willingness to compromise. Laws guaranteeing a fair division of Iraqi oil profits must be drafted, and all factions must have confidence that what is agreed will be enforced. Sunnis must be persuaded that neither their minority status nor former membership in Saddam Hussein’s Ba’ath Party will exclude them from political and economic life.

But Sunnis and Shi’a are now killing one another in increasing numbers, and the new aggressiveness of US forces will make compromise all but impossible. It is unrealistic to expect Iraqi politicians to make substantial political sacrifices while their constituents are fighting Americans and one another.

Finally, Bush’s strategy already faces challenges at home. Few Americans — and therefore few US lawmakers — have much confidence in Bush’s leadership on Iraq. If the new strategy fails to produce positive and tangible results within a few months, the steady domestic drumbeat for troop withdrawals will become deafening. A sharp spike in US casualties would compound the pressure to get out.

Even so, the new strategy has some benefits. First, it sidelines Maliki, which means that he will be less damaged politically than if he were directly identified with US attacks on Iraqi Shi’a. US actions will spark Iraqi criticism that Maliki is impotent or an American puppet, but those charges have already been made. Nothing could be worse for Maliki than explicit authorisation for attacks on Shi’a militias, and the near-term survival of his government is crucial if any progress is to be made on the political challenges facing all of Iraq’s factions.

Second, the new strategy will keep the Mahdi Army on its heels. Sadr’s militia threatens to quickly become Iraq’s answer to Hezbollah: a well-armed, politically connected private army with its own foreign policy. The more that US forces can degrade the Mahdi Army’s position and force Sadr into face-saving political moves, the weaker the militia will be relative to other forces in Iraq after US troops head home.

Finally, taking the fight directly to Iraq’s most powerful Shi’a militia and Iranians inside Iraq will align the US much more closely with its traditional Sunni Arab allies — Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan, and the Gulf states. Arab governments have been especially angry over the chaos in Iraq, fearing that the US will abandon the Sunni minority to the not-so-tender mercies of revenge-minded Shi’a and expressing growing anxiety that the war has empowered Iran to extend Shi’a influence throughout the Middle East.

When Iraq falls apart, as now appears all but inevitable, the US will need as many friends in the region as it can get, particularly as the battle with Iran for regional influence and the conflict over its nuclear program intensifies. If nothing else, having a common enemy will help the US and its Arab allies restore damaged ties. —DT-PS

Ian Bremmer is President of Eurasia Group, the global political risk consultancy, and author of The J Curve: A New Way to Understand Why Nations Rise and Fall


  1. Man, that is the same Bremmer character pushing the same J-curve idea as "integrate the gap" Thomas Barnett?

    What exactly do they hope to gain by attacking the Mahdi army, except to push the entire Shi'ite community straight into Iran's embrace?

    And WTF is with "Traditional Sunni Arab US allies"? The same Saudi Arabia that gave us 9/11? The same Jordan that gave the world Zarkawi? The same Egypt that is breeding the Muslim Brotherhood and barely holding the lid down? That should read "Dictators of Sunni Arab countries, who remain allied to the US as long as their populations are noted permitted to vote", except for Egypt where our traditional ally is a "Secular ex-socialist dictators of a Sunni Arab countries who no longer has a USSR to turn to" etc.

    Trish RE Media : Hezbollah never released all their material. The good stuff they wanted for propaganda was released, the unfavorable stuff simply erased. We're not even giving ourselves that option.

    Whatever we're doing with the media now is failing anyway. Dunno there's much we could do that would make it worse.

  2. Dammit I meant to write not permitted to vote

  3. "Close to victory abroad, closer to concession at home".

    Wretchard..."Iraq is simply where the West must come to grips with The Coming Anarchy because it cannot step around it."

    When chaos is inevitable, it can be utilized. The US is in large measure responsible for the chaos that overstretches the world from the Mediterranean Sea to the Indian Ocean.

    "Imagine - Sunni Saudi Arabia vs Shi'ite Iran."

    When Jordan's King Abdullah demanded a speedy solution to the Israel-Palestine issue to quell the outbreak of multiple civil wars in the region, he meant the precise opposite: the Arab world has something more pressing on its mind than the plight of the Palestinians. The emergence of an Iranian threat to Saudi Arabia makes Palestine the odd man out. The Palestine problem has dropped to the bottom of the Arab priority list, and the fate of the Palestinians is to become cannon fodder for proxy wars.

    By the same token, King Abdullah's warning of multiple civil wars meant the opposite of what it appeared to. What formerly were civil wars (or prospective civil wars) in Iraq, Lebanon and Palestine have become three fronts in a Sunni-Shi'ite war, in which the local contestants are mere proxies. This is obvious in Lebanon, and becoming so in Palestine, particularly after Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh's meeting with Iranian President Mahmud Ahmadinejad in Qatar.

    Apart from oil, Iran exports only dried fruit, pistachio nuts, carpets, caviar and, more recently, prostitutes. Iran covets the oil reserves of southeastern Iraq, southern Azerbaijan, and northwestern Saudi Arabia. With 30% youth unemployment, 10% inflation, epidemic prostitution and drug addiction, Iran's fraying social fabric depends on an oil-derived government dole. Within a generation it will have half as many men of military age, and four times as many pensioners. As currently configured, Iran faces economic and demographic collapse. If, as Business Week reports, Iran's oil exports are falling by one-seventh each year, the reckoning might come sooner rather than later. The theocratic regime is a wounded and dangerous beast.

    A long war of attrition against Iran will succeed unless Iran can break out of encirclement, which in practice means acquiring nuclear weapons. No one today cares if Sunnis/Shi'ites kill one another in Iraq or Lebanon, or Hamas and Fatah fight to the bitter end in Gaza - provided, of course, that US aircraft carriers keep the oil flowing through the Persian Gulf.

    If it appears Iran is close to its goal needed for regional supremacy, either Israel or the United States will attack Iranian nuclear facilities.

    - Spengler

  4. Iran envoy 'abducted in Baghdad' BBC

    An Iranian diplomat has been kidnapped by gunmen in the Iraqi capital, Baghdad, Tehran has confirmed.
    Jalal Sharafi, the embassy's second secretary, was abducted from his car on Sunday in central Karrada district by men wearing Iraqi army uniforms.

    Iran condemned the kidnapping and said it held the US responsible for his life. A US military spokesman said no US or Iraqi troops were involved.

    The news comes amid US-Iranian tension over Iranian activities in Iraq.

    Last month in a dramatic pre-dawn helicopter raid, the Americans arrested five Iranians in north Iraq, prompting Iran to issue a formal protest to the US.

    The US has denied any involvement in the latest incident, but recently has been expressing increasing concern about alleged Iranian support for militant activity in Iraq.

    Correspondents say the stand-off over Iran's nuclear programme is adding to the tension.

    On Tuesday, UK Prime Minister Tony Blair accused Iran of "a strategy to create maximum trouble" in the Middle East.

  5. The transcript on a friendly fire, US kill of UK trooper.
    In all honesty, there is little I cannot watch or read. I confess to having watched most of the head hackers dirty work videos. To keep my edge or for darker reasons, I do no care to know. I cannot read or watch friendly fire. I do not know or not remember the reason why. read and listen if you must

  6. No such thing as incoming friendly fire.

    If it is incoming, it is never friendly, except in the minds of those not there.

    When, come June, Mr Maliki wants a Seciurity Review, as is his "right", he and Ms Pelosi will agree, it will be time for US to begin to leave.

    US tax increases will be required to stay, that will seal the deal.

  7. Have not watched head hackers at work, ever.
    On your recommendation, I will consider whether to watch that video, thanks.
    Images (mental) of scumbag slitting stew's throat in front of planeload of men, women, and children, more than enough to convince ME,
    that this was no game I would accept losing w/o dying first.
    ...then came an erie picture of a bunch of Afghan women in shrouds kneeling out in a field.
    It was a link to the video of their beheadings.
    That I did not watch, either, but will never forget.
    Photoshopped and animated many pics of the Taliban Madmen behind that.
    Quite ironic that M. Omara and Osama still live and breath in the Islamic land of many Nukes.

  8. Ms Pelosi's positives up to 49%, according to Drudge.
    Hard to believe, but perhaps true.
    When I (hopefully) get my paper online, one of the first things I plan to do is give Pelosi's Commie beginings and present corrupt Illegal employing, Capitalist Pig reality a good airing.

  9. The biggest problem with taking on Sadr's folks, imo, is that the populace, mostly Shia, but apparently sometimes even Sunni, become easy targets for the the "Sunni" (Saudi) insurgents.
    The Shia majority are not happy about taking out their only RELIABLE source of security.
    ...all because we dithered while Iraq and the greater ME went further to Hell.

  10. Texan Congressman, Ted Pole(R), says the US Federal Government is on the wrong side of the Border Wars.

    Spending more time and money prosecuting and jailing Border Patrolmen then illegal infiltrators. Promises Congressional oversight of Federal Prosecunters that work for Mr Bush and Gonzo.

    Slow failure in the Border Battles. The US partrolmen of hispanic heritage, tasked with border security are systematicly targeted for prosecution, by the same whitebread Federal. Looks like reverse discrimination, to me.

    Upon who will habus fire to defend the Constitution, the Federal Prosecunter, Judge or Patrolmen?

    See what the US is training to send up in NASA space shuttles?

  11. "That was to be the new wave of democracy poised to sweep over the Arab World. This was predicted to be a 9.3 induced tsunami that would sweep Islamadam. Critics of the notion were called racist because of our soft prejudice of low expectations when it came to things Islamic. Well the democracy thing has also passed. "
    I actually continue to believe that this idea had some traction, as witnessed by the concurrent Cedar Revolution, and other developments in Libya and a few other gulf potentates near the time of OIF.
    But once they all could plainly see that Shrub II's policy had morphed from Texas Cowboy to New England Skull and Bones Meterosexual/State Dept "reality," it was back to square one and Realpolitik for the players in the area.
    I still remember a Michael Rubin piece about
    "What happened to the Bush Policy?"
    Wusses always finish last.
    God's Will.

  12. Hey! That NASA Warrior Princess Should be put in charge of Border Security.
    ...with Sheriff Joe responsible for the survivors!

  13. Back to the Future
    The '02 State of the Union.

    The speach that Mr Bush forgot.

    My money is on Rudy, if anyone can be expected to remember,
    Why, Who, Where?
    It'll be him.

    All the questions, as well as the answers, Mr Bush has forgotten.
    While chasing the dustdevils of democracy across the Iraqi desert.

  14. Michael Savage was on fire and on target regarding his central message yesterday:
    Borders, Language, Culture.

    Some dude at NewsMax wrote about his
    "Mulling a Run for President"
    (as a Newt-type excercise in getting his message out)

    This got both he and his callers earnestly engaged.

    Duncan Hunter probably most closely represents the message, but probably has less than a snoball's due to the Media/Elite (INCLUDING GOP) Conspiracy to bury all things real.

  15. If it truely is an existental conflict, there is no other choice then Rudy.

    If it is not, then it does not matter, much, who is elected.

    As Mr Bush has proven, six of one, half dozen of the other, as far as Federally funded compassion goes.

    The Federal Government contiues to grow, unabated, while failing in fulfilling it's basic responsabilities.

  16. Savage on where you can view our
    "Future Social Security Funding Residents."

    ...Go to the Mall and Observe

    " 16 year old South of the Border Girls with 3 children they did not pay for on their way to 6 more"

  17. Where is Rudy on the Border?
    Savage is down on him for making New York City an illegal's sanctuary city, ala Portland, Or.
    Has he changed stance in public yet?

  18. Them 16 year olds don't got no HS edukation, of course.
    Even tho we know a top-functioning, real-estate owning (gay) business manager from the Phillipines that is still trying, 13 years later, to gain citizenship.
    MOST of the filopinos are still variations on that, but BUSH THE CORRUPT JERK insists on uneducated, welfare stealing breeders.
    (plus the 30 percent that are professional crimals

    How you can choose to ignore all this is beyond me, Rufus, as is Trish's odd SILENCE on the matter.

  19. Hard for a mayor of a city in NY to control the frontier.
    Security with "normalization" of the internal illegals, was what he said last night on FOX.

    As good as anyone in real contention.

  20. As Rudy related in the interview, the INS would/ could only deport 1,500 to 2,000 bodies through it's NYC office, annually.

    Outside of the mayor's power to change. He said the City worked with the Feds to identify and deport the "worse" of the illegals.

  21. Well, if he HAD tried to enforce in NYC, Bush "Justice" would have come down on him like a ton of shit.
    (Once he had safely, and early on gotten rid of the ONE Truth-Teller, Ashcroft)

    ...if only he had be rich and well-connected, and smooth skinned, I really believe he would have gotten the job done as POTUS.

  22. "he had been"
    4:14 am, wife and my repressed inner good guy is gonna hate me tommorrow.

  23. It took Bush some time to compose himself when notified about 911. He looked to me as if he needed some astronautical underwear. Guliani is no boy scout. He likes the ladies, is bald and is a tough New York kinda guy. He does not fit the touchy feely bullshit that we usually get handed by our masters.

    He knows how to walk the walk and did so on Broadway without the benefit of astronautical underwear. I've said it before he is a tough son of a bitch , but best of all he is our son of a bitch. If we have to march into Hell, we may as well do it with someone who has the stones to smile, lean into a guy's ear and whisper that he is a no good cocksucker.

  24. Verily, tho I walk through the Valley of Death,
    I am the meanest Mother Fucker in the Valley!

  25. Rudy prosecuted Mafia prior to, unlike Fitzfong who still continues to pursue Libby et al, while Clinton Criminals who gave everything away go on to higher stations.
    ...and sabotage from within.

  26. Honolulu had a Mayor for many terms, name of "Fasi"
    (or Fazzi)
    He made the Buses run on time and knew his way around the Garbage Companies, et al, being of NYC Italian immigrant heritage.
    Has 13 kids, I think, only one went bad, Jr on drugs.\
    ...was known for having Billboards across Oahu proclaiming this or that was a result of the great Mayor! having a pathetic Wuss in Charge!

  27. Frank Fasi

    Frank Francis Fasi (born August 27, 1920) is a United States politician having the distinction as the longest serving Mayor of Honolulu in Honolulu, Hawaii. He also served as territorial senator and member of the Honolulu City Council. A perennial candidate for Hawaiian offices, Fasi is popularly credited for having built the foundations on which Honolulu now thrives as one of the largest modern municipalities in the nation.

    Early years
    Fasi was born on 27 August 1920 in Hartford, Connecticut, where he eventually attended Trinity College. Following the Japanese attack on Honolulu on 7 December 1941, Fasi enlisted in the United States Marine Corps through which he served in the Pacific Theater. After ending his tour of duty in 1944, Fasi settled in Honolulu where he became an entrepreneur, opening his own contracting, building demolition and salvage company.

  28. General Democrat Won
    1965 Democrat Won
    1967 Democrat Won
    1968 Democrat Won
    1972 Democrat Won
    1974 Governor of Hawaii Primary Democrat Lost to George R. Ariyoshi (D)
    1976 Democrat Won
    1978 Governor of Hawaii Primary Democrat Lost to George R. Ariyoshi (D)
    1980 Mayor of Honolulu Primary Democrat Lost to Eileen Anderson (D)
    1982 Governor of Hawaii General Independent Democrat Lost to George R. Ariyoshi (D)
    1984 Mayor of Honolulu General Republican Won
    1988 Mayor of Honolulu General Republican Won
    1992 Mayor of Honolulu General Republican Won
    1994 Governor of Hawaii General Best Lost to Benjamin J. Cayetano (D)
    1996 Mayor of Honolulu General Nonpartisan Lost to Jeremy Harris (N-P)
    2000 Mayor of Honolulu General Nonpartisan Lost to Jeremy Harris (N-P)
    2003 Congress 2nd District Special Nonpartisan Lost to Ed Case (D)
    2004 Mayor of Honolulu General Nonpartisan
    Frank's political affiliation as the Democrat Party went to Hell.
    ...and now the GOP has followed.

  29. Private Foreign Policy?

    westhawk's latest offering, and a pretty good one too.

  30. I think ya'll are too tough on GW. The President must represent ALL Americans with their diverse agendas and opinions. He is not a king. He can try to lead but the herd usually has different ideas. And even the boldest policy becomes watered down when various bureaucracies work out the details. We get policies that reflect a bell shaped curve of popular opinion.

    Are muslims capable of modern civil society? Can they influence their youth to reject tribalism? We had to at least try to find out. It was worth a try after taking down two dangerous tribal regimes.

    It seems that those muslims that reject tribalism aren't prepared to make the sacrifices to overcome their history. So they get the governance by genocide that they deserve.

    So, one more chance, then we pull the plug and revert to looking out for our self-interests.

    The muslim record is not encouraging and I expect the tribal model to continue. Soon we will have to decide the path forward. We can isolate/contain the islamic virus, eradicate it or revert to the pre 911 model and suffer the death by a thousand cuts.

    The open democracy that we seem to have embraced suggests the third approach until nuclear attack/blackmail forces us to ponder eradication or surrender.

    GW is just the rider, the American people are driving the train.

  31. A Wuss is a Wuss.
    Pathetic pretender to be POTUS.

  32. Even todays degraded populace, on the whole, responds to LEADERSHIP, and is passionate about WINNING.
    Wuss in Chief threw that all away.
    No amount of 'splain'n at the BC can deny that reality.

  33. "It seems that those muslims that reject tribalism aren't prepared to make the sacrifices to overcome their history. So they get the governance by genocide that they deserve."
    Being rational actors, the majority of Iraqis gave up relying on the USA as represented by Shrub and Jr Shrub after being abandoned countless times by the New England Hoity Toiters/"Conservatives"
    Wuss gave Sadr life,
    Sadr gives Iraqi's Security.

  34. That is one way to look at it, the President as ineffectual, no matter the man selected.

    Such was the lament during the Carter Administration, a job to big for any man, that whine faded during Reagan's term.

    I have read others that have also compared Mr Bush to Mr Carter, both swept along by events and prolonged indecision. The scale of their military failures different, but a similar cause at the core.

  35. An interesting back and forth at the BC, it goes on over a thread or two, but good old "reocon" asks a most pertinent extistental question

    "... Or better yet, let's spend billions and a couple thousand more lives of our sons and daughters to prop up Jamal Jafaar Mohammed's cohorts in the Iraqi government! Surely we can convince such "moderates" like the former head of Da'wa's Jihad office in Damascus, Nuri al-Maliki, too give up their authoratarian, clerical ways, their ties to Iran and Hezbollah and come over to the side of reason. Isn't that what the "Surge" is all about? Isn't that what this fiasco has devolved into?
    For those of you who are a bit slow, that what's been happening since 2005, when the Shiite Islamists won their purple-fingered victory. Wretchard's dead right here, to defend the propping up of this vile Iraqi/Iranian gov't is defend appeasement. Buddy, Wu Wei, care to have a crack at it?
    2/06/2007 06:12:00 AM

    So far there is no response.

    It seems to me that if Mr Maliki is the "chosen one" then he is. If we can start to hand off in June, that could pass for success. If not the trend lines to slow failure will, as Mr Bush noted, accelerate.

    Or we have to kill 'em all,
    then let allah sort it out

  36. W once wrote a thread about keeping your credibility by not becoming just a cheerleader, nor on the other hand joining the MSM Chorus of defeatism.
    Long since lost something from me when he repeatledly grasped at meaningless straws over the last two years like projecting declines in US Deaths, (while at the same time ignoring that the insurgents et al were changing strategy to the present EFFECTIVE one of slaughtering Iraqis to promote.)
    Never has just said

    'I was wrong,'

    It really ain't that hard,
    If you're willing.

  37. "to promote their cause."
    Ethnic hatred in the case of insurgents, desired for security by the Shia majority.

  38. Nice little "tico" houses from $25,000 USD in Golfito, CR. Never snows nor even gets cold.

    Any US stipend, say Social Security check, will secure easy livin' in a vida pura culture.
    Same can be said for Panama, though the native folk are a bit surlier.

    The majority of the migrants flowing to the US are economic refugees. Whether from Mexico, Venezuela or Columbia, even Cuba.

    But for a culture to live in, semi-independent of the local economy, Latin America can be quite enjoyable.
    Then again, I've always have been a contra, at heart

  39. DR,

    In 1980, Reagan was elected by the generation that grew up during the Great Depression and fought WW2. They knew tyranny firsthand and would, at least, stand up against it. Defeat was not an option.

    In 2000, GW was elected by the boomer generation living a life of relative luxury and torn by their Vietnam legacy. The words victory and defeat had no meaning.

    These two generations are very different critters. And their Presidents reflect those differences.

    I think this generation doesn't believe that America's existence is threatened and that defeat is a meaningless word. This generation is only interested in their big house, new cars and 52 inch HDTV.

    A nation gets the leaders it elects, and ours have reflected the electorate's desire for stability at any cost for the past 18 years.

    So when ya say GW is a wuss, IMO you're really sayin that the American people are wusses.

  40. Rufus,
    You think the 30% of illegals that are career crimminals (or some terrorist sleepers) is not a problem?
    Nor the bankrupting of our justice, health, safety, and welfare systems, long before global climate change has any real effect?
    ...or was that hopefully just a joke?
    Wuss or not, the majority of Americans do not support lawbreaking politicians that choose to give away the people's money and security.

  41. IOW, Lugh, the present population would not have elected the liar Bush had he given his true (illegal) stand on illegals.

  42. Rudy gave a great answer to the Abortion issue last nite on Hannity.
    Best part is you could tell he was telling the TRUTH about who is/has been.
    Says Roberts and Alito are just the type of judges he would appoint.
    DID as Mayor of NYC for over 100 judges.
    Prager now getting a bunch of Pro-Life radicals that talk as tho they would let Hillary become president.

  43. trish, people are threatened by free thinking. They need hooey, big-ass crock pots full of the stuff.

  44. He would be no real danger to the US. His danger would be to the creation of an arms race within the region. Saudi Arabia could buy all the technology necessary to match and beat the Iranians. Politically it is a European and Israeli problem.

    It could be resolved for Israel by Israel becoming a Nato member.

  45. Ahmadinejad is very vulnerable to European sanctions. The Europeans did not take Putin seriously until he started playing with their natural gas supply.
    Ahmadinejad with nuclear weapons will lose domestic support and then feel European sanctions. (The US cannot apply much more sanctions than they have.)

    The money people in Iran are not going to see some mad man get them all killed. The assholes who blow themselves up as suicide bombers are just that, expendable assholes. They are not company owners and politicians. They may get the the flunkies to go out in flesh chips to get virgins, but they will hedge their bets and get what is to be had on good old terrra firma.

  46. Esteemed commenters at the Bar,

    You all rock, as always! I have been absent of late, but I have been working really long hours getting ready to head out.

    Productivity over at my blog has been sporadic and slightly less refined over the past few weeks, but I continue to lurk here, there and everywhere!

    I remain the contrarian, minority optimist here in the Elephant Bar commentary section, it would seem.

    I am not ready to throw in the towel and start saying things like "After Iraq collapses we will then be forced to. . ." because I still do not believe that utter failure is a foregone conclusion.

    I am curious to see what impact General Petraeus has on the Iraq equation, and I recognize that any policy or activity changes will not
    impact the system over night.

    Darting to another subject, Deuce, don't you think that Iran's possession of nuclear weapon technology represents, at the bare minimum, a cumulative threat increase to the United States??

    The more nations (especially "rogue" type nations) that possess nuclear technology, the greater the chance of this technology landing in the hands of an individual/organization intent on disrupting the world order, as it were?

    Another glass of wine, then bed for me, I think!

  47. Bob, I do not think Iran having a nuclear weapon is a good thing. I think it is a catastrophic thing. I feel the same way about North Korea and Pakistan. The relevant question are what should be done to discourage them from getting them and what to do if they make the choice?

    My biases are based on my experience. Having spent some significant time in the USAF and having specialized in the detection, surveillance and analysis of Soviet nuclear missile capabilities and intent, I developed what I believe to be reasonable levels of expectations on the doable. The US and her allies contained the Soviet and then Chinese nuclear threat. I remember being on duty the night the Chinese set off a nuclear test at Lop Nor. Our detection capabilities misinterpreted this event as a multiple missile launch of an indeterminate number. Common sense and good analysis prevailed, and in short time the error was noticed and a disaster averted.

    Technology changes as do threats but human behavior does not. There was never any assurance that it would be possible to overwhelm the Soviets with a preemptive nuclear exchange. There were some who thought it could be done at an acceptable cost. They were from the existentialist school. There are those today that still adhere to the same thinking mainly as it applies to Israel and Iran. It is technically possible for the US or Israel to remove or reduce Iranian nuclear capabilities. It would be a tactical success and a strategic disaster. For the cost of 19 dead, AQ caused the US one trillion dollars in damage, killed three thousand plus, plus, plus.

    I respect the ingenuity and determination of my enemies. Attacking Iran would strengthen the jihad, not weaken it. Air warfare is remarkably inefficient as a strategic weapon. It was used to get Saddam and it failed. It was used to get bin laden and to date, no one knows. It was used in Serbia and we hit the Chinese embassy. It never stopped the North Vietnamese from achieving their strategic goal of controlling all of Viet Nam.

    Air warfare comes with huge diplomatic and political liabilities. It has a use and is an awesome deterrent, but it is an augmentation to warfare. The US does not have the political sustainable ambition and the endurance and necessity to destroy Iran. It has the technical ability, but it will not use it, no more than we did in Viet Nam or Iraq. Viet Nam and Iraq did not make the US look stronger or smarter. Iran would be no different.

    Iran is no existential threat to anyone except Iran. Recent military events for Israel and the US should be enough to chasten some of the firebrands in both governments.