“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."

Thursday, February 22, 2007

It is "Honor" Time Again In Washington.

Nixon famously declared the 1973 agreement in Viet Nam to be "peace with honor". America was disengaging, yet South Vietnam was going to fight its own war.

Vice-President Dick Cheney, yesterday, asserted that Mr Blair's announcement was proof that "in parts of Iraq... things are going well". As for US troops, they would complete their mission "with honor". So it seems that we have entered the honor phase.

Honor is a big word. It is loaded. We have Honor Guards, Legions of Honor, Roles of Honor and The Congressional Medal of Honor.

Sorry, but when I hear politicians leaning on honor, I get suspicious. I hear the final argument and justification for something that went wrong. I like the word and the concept, but it is also terribly misused.

Honor is a very big deal in the Middle East. Honor killings were quite the rage for awhile there but have since moved from the headlines. It usually involves some form of an assault or murder on someone for something where the attacker has been "dishonored" by the victim.

Maybe Shakespeare's "Julius Caesar" jaded me on how easily the word "honor" can be used for a cynical purpose:

Anthony speaking, after the assassination of Caesar, by amongst others, Brutus:
Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears!
I come to bury Caesar, not to praise him.
The evil that men do lives after them,
The good is oft interred with their bones;
So let it be with Caesar. The noble Brutus
Hath told you Caesar was ambitious;
If it were so, it was a grievous fault,
And grievously hath Caesar answer'd it.
Here, under leave of Brutus and the rest-
For Brutus is an honorable man;
So are they all, all honorable men-
Come I to speak in Caesar's funeral.
He was my friend, faithful and just to me;
But Brutus says he was ambitious,
And Brutus is an honorable man.
He hath brought many captives home to Rome,
Whose ransoms did the general coffers fill.
Did this in Caesar seem ambitious?
When that the poor have cried, Caesar hath wept;
Ambition should be made of sterner stuff:
Yet Brutus says he was ambitious,
And Brutus is an honorable man.
You all did see that on the Lupercal
I thrice presented him a kingly crown,
Which he did thrice refuse. Was this ambition?
Yet Brutus says he was ambitious,
And sure he is an honorable man.
I speak not to disprove what Brutus spoke,
But here I am to speak what I do know.
You all did love him once, not without cause;
What cause withholds you then to mourn for him?
O judgement, thou art fled to brutish beasts,
And men have lost their reason. Bear with me;
My heart is in the coffin there with Caesar,
And I must pause till it come back to me. (from Julius Caesar 3/2)


  1. I agree Bob. It was politically expedient for them to vote for invading Iraq so they did. Now they think it will be politically expedient to vote against the troop surge, so they do.

    It's going to be very interesting to watch the political campaigns. The anti-Clinton Democrats found themselves a photogenic, charismatic candidate to run with for a while. They will use him to pull Hillary Clinton away from the center. Before this is over she could be protesting in the street in order to appease the left in her party.

  2. In 1968 Mr. Nixon announced during the campaign his "secret plan" for ending the war. How long did the exit take?

  3. Whit said, I agree Bob. It was politically expedient for them to vote for invading Iraq so they did. Now they think it will be politically expedient to vote against the troop surge, so they do.

    And why not, it's a "non-binding resolution" with no teeth at all, sort of like voting to censure earth-threatening asteroids without spending a dime to track them better.

  4. Soon as Nixon was gone, so was the US.

    Deja vu all over again.

    The President and the GOP boys can soldier on until January '09, but if they do there will be nary a sign of them in DC for the "next" round of the "Long War".

    Or they declare Victory in June and get ahead of the anti-War curve. But then again, Mr Bush had been "behind" the curve ever since he became the second President to lose the popular vote and still gain the office.

    The great Republican realignement, oh my, how that piece of propaganda has grown clay feet.

  5. Russia to the rescue!

    The French will love it,
    as will the German subcontractors.

    Last summer, Russia's state-owned Vneshtorgbank — the former Soviet foreign-trade bank — quietly amassed a 5 percent stake in EADS. And The Associated Press reported Putin told French government ministers Wednesday that Russia is interested in acquiring a larger stake.

  6. ...and then the screw could take another turn:

    U.S. Army-Eurocopter deal could bring $3 billion

    Bloomberg News, Reuters

    Published: July 2, 2006

    WASHINGTON The North American unit of EADS, the largest European aerospace company, said it may supply as many as 352 light helicopters to the U.S. Army under a contract with a potential total value of $3 billion, including maintenance and support.
    The army, which on Saturday announced an initial $43 million contract with European Aeronautic Defense & Space for the new fleet based on the Eurocopter EC-145, said it planned to buy a total of 322 aircraft starting in fiscal 2007.

  7. Could make indentification, Friend or Foe, a bit difficult.

    Everyone flying the Eurocopter.

    Costa Rica calling, I can almost hear the surf.

  8. No Rufus, it is like this:

    Russia can hope for their airbus and Europe can hope for their gas.

  9. d'Rat,

    I hope you guys have someone to babysit those Costa Rica homes, 27/4. The neighbors there tend to get mighty friendly with other peoples belongings.

  10. mat, Let's say we provide our own very efficient security service for the benefit of our clients.

  11. This comment has been removed by the author.

  12. My overwhelming impression was of a region and a people desperately wanting to be "normal". I was also startled (after living in Europe) to hear people talk about defending their land and risking their lives to do it. These people are peaceful, but pack guns - like Texas.

    Their greatest complaint was of boredom. They are tired of hanging out at the "state park" at the waterfall in the hills every night. They want a Starbucks, a few more shopping centers, and maybe a movie theatre.

    They seem used to spotty power and poor plumbing. Turkey gives them a few hours each day and the rest comes from generators. It is a bit sad since the Kirkuk oil fields should provide them with ample power if not for the political problems.

    A drive through Turkey to Iraq..


    Yes, many of our school age children believe all Presidents were born on President's Day ..not so kids.



    The holiday for the other George W. is April 1.

  15. The holiday for the other George W. is April 1

    No, that's my birth day. But I'm learning to appreciate His sense of humor.

  16. Bob, not so fast. The Vikings had a habit of stopping in Ireland and capturing the Irish and make them row. the evidence to that is the many Irish faces in present day Iceland.

    Kennedy and clan may have gotten to the US faster.

  17. One of the unfortunate consequences of being deprived of African slaves and having to get by with a celtic version is that we would not have rap music.

    that in itself would be tragic.

  18. Even more tragic, if you ask me, is that none of these celtic Icelandic girls are ever featured on any rap music videos. :(

    Slavery today.

    First a question. If you ask an American Indian what tribe he/she belongs to they can tell you immediately. If you ask a Black the same question what is there response?

    Continuing on our celebratory mood lets take a look at slavery today and where it still thrives. The slave trade in Africa was officially banned in the early 1880s, but forced labor continues to be practiced in West and Central Africa today. UNICEF estimates that 200,000 children from this region are sold into slavery each year. Many of these children are from Benin and Togo, and are sold into the domestic, agricultural, and sex industries of wealthier, neighboring countries such as Nigeria and Gabon.According to Anti-Slavery International, the world's oldest human rights organization, there are currently over 20 million people in bondage.

    So we have IN TODAYS WORLD Blacks selling other BLACKS into slavery..
    It crys out for the question. Where is Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson When was the last time either were in any of the countries mentioned above protesting?

    Worldwide 20,000,0000 ..... TWENTY MILLION. That in my world is nothing to celebrate, but then I'm not black. Perhaps they do not care that their ancestors are still trading black flesh to blacks?
    Anyway. Let's continue the Black History Month Celebration, time is running out.

  20. The Telegraph Posted a question What would the world be like without America?.
    I responded and published this post:

    To intelligently answer the question, one has to ask who would fill the gap? I may add, the gap would be filled quickly. Suppose it occurred this day:

    1. Russia would re-establish control of Eastern Europe. Ukraine, Moldova would go quickly.
    2. There would be major resistance from Poland and the Czech Republic. Serbia would reoccupy Kosovo and the entire ex-Yugoslavian territory would rapidly be inflamed. Serbia would rapidly be in conflict with Albania. Italy would be flooded by refugees from Albania.
    3. Afghanistan would fall to the Taliban. Musharraf would be overt-thrown by Islamic radicals and Pakistan’s nuclear facilities would be under control of Islamists.
    4. India would be tempted to make a pre-emptive strike on Pakistan, and under any condition double down oh her own nuclear capabilities. India will be suspicious of Chinese intentions.
    5. China will attack Taiwan.
    6. Japan will become a nuclear power.
    7. Australia will become a nuclear power.
    8. Socialism and revolution will sweep through Latin America. Venezuela and Brazil would become nuclear powers.
    9. Nato would collapse as Britain, France and Germany re-armed and reestablished primacy.
    10. The Euro would dissolve with the Ruble, DM, Franc and Sterling being maintained and used.
    11. Oil would price would fall, but quickly rise as competition for control would sweep through the Middle East.
    12. Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Jordan would be engulfed in civil war. Turkey would attack the Kurds.

    And all the fools that are posting their hate and venom here would be wishing to see the stars and bars. -2164th

  21. From Nixon's promise of ending the Vietnam War by some "secret plan" until the withdrawal of American forces was nearly seven years. Hardly a hasty process, I would say.

    For those looking to the Vietnam experience for inspiration in the present Iraq conflict, withdrawal may be a long time coming. But one can always hope, as some obviously do. Unfortuantely for them, withdrawal in war is more complex than sex.

  22. Black History Month

    Country Report: Haiti

    Young girls from poor rural families are sent to Haiti's cities for lives of domestic servitude.

    A Victim's Story
    ......"Called restavecs ("lives with"), timoun qui rete ak moun ("little people who live with big people"), or simply "domestics," Haiti's child slaves now number from 250,000 to 300,000 - one child in every twenty. Most restavecs - an estimated 85% - are girls."

    Haitian Slavery staring Bill & Hillary

    Didn't Bill Clinton help perpetuate this evil? Was Hillary advising him on any of it?

  23. Allen said, From Nixon's promise of ending the Vietnam War by some "secret plan" until the withdrawal of American forces was nearly seven years. Hardly a hasty process, I would say.

    Nixon had it easy, he had a government in Hanoi with whom to sign a treaty. Dubya has defined victory in Iraq as law and order, and anyone with a car bomb, or a chlorine truck, can bust the deal.

  24. Excellent Telegraph post Boss, I am on my way over there to read the thread.