“Soft despotism is a term coined by Alexis de Tocqueville describing the state into which a country overrun by "a network of small complicated rules" might degrade. Soft despotism is different from despotism (also called 'hard despotism') in the sense that it is not obvious to the people."

Monday, February 05, 2007

Profiles in Courage...the Surge Begins in the Senate.

Senate Heads to Showdown on Iraq
By: John Bresnahan Politico
February 5, 2007 04:43 PM EST

The Senate headed to a showdown vote Monday over whether to begin a highly anticipated debate on the Iraq war. And neither Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., nor Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., appeared willing to concede early ground in setting the rules for the floor fight.

McConnell is insisting that Republicans be allowed to offer two alternatives to a bipartisan Iraq resolution crafted by Sens. John Warner, R-Va., and Carl Levin, D-Mich., which opposes President Bush’s plan to send 21,500 more U.S. troops to Iraq.

One alternative by Republican Sens. John McCain of Arizona and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina backs the president’s surge plan but sets benchmarks for political and economic progress by the government of Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki.

Another alternative by Sen. Judd Gregg, R-N.H., states that funding for the U.S. military mission in Iraq will not be cut off.

In a speech on the Senate floor, Reid slammed McConnell and the Republicans, suggesting GOP leaders were afraid to debate Bush's plan to send more U.S. troops to Iraq and not interested in planning floor debate.

"What is the excuse - and I say excuse - that they aren't going to let the American people hear the United States Senate debate the escalation of the war in Iraq?" Reid asked. "This claim…a feeble claim, that they haven't been guaranteed a vote on just not credible. They have rejected, through their leader - they, the Republicans - three compromises that would have permitted the Senate to vote on the president's plan."

Reid said that McConnell had rejected the opportunity for simple majority votes on the McCain-Graham and the Warner-Levin resolutions and, later, on the Gregg resolution as well.

Then, Reid said he had asked McConnell if he would allow super-majority votes on two of the proposals, meaning they would need 60 votes for approval. And McConnell declined again, Reid added.

"The minority can't rubber stamp the president's policies in Iraq anymore,’’ Reid said, “so they've decided to stamp out debate and let the president's actions in Iraq proceed unchecked."

At a news conference with other Republican Senate leaders, McConnell defended their decision to filibuster the motion to begin the Iraq debate.

"We're not stalling," he said. "We're using ... the power of a robust minority."

A Senate Democratic leadership aide, speaking on the condition of anonymity, suggested that McConnell is “just trying to avoid” a vote on Iraq because he knows that a majority of the Senate – including Warner and a handful of other Republicans – are opposed to Bush’s surge plan. And the political fallout for Bush if the Senate adopts a resolution opposing the surge, even if it’s legally non-binding on the White House, could be enormous.


  1. I have been reading DR for two years. There has not been another pundit more on the money. period.

  2. As we discussed sometime ago, General Electric owns NBC.
    Seems Mr O'Reilly Factor is set to put that connection into public view.

    Does GE denounce Mr Arkin and his mercenary comments, or not?
    A Boycott of GE?

    I just read the papers & other news sources, it's all laid out, every morning. Add in some perspective, adjust for windage and elevation.

  3. Rufus, I heard writer Robert Kaplan say it even better, in Layman's terms, when he came to visit at Leavenworth a few years back:

    Kaplan said that when one looked at Afghanistan and how OEF was originally executed, it was akin to some entrepreneurial upstarts like Jobs and Wosiniak who started a computer business in their garage and revolutionized the industry; in the same vein, he said OIF was like some big fat corporate American venture, ie IBM does war.

    Sadly, both theaters are victims of large footprint forward operating bases, distinctly separate from the populations that must be protected from insurgents (although in Afghanistan there are still many small firebases and provincial reconstruction teams that are more closely tied into the commmunities around them).

    Force protection has become a mission, perhaps even an unspoken purpose in itself, over the last several decades. It probably started in 1983 with the bombing of the Marine barracks in Lebanon, but deployments to places such as the Balkans cemented it as foremost in commanders' minds. Deployments to Bosnia and Kosovo were not seen as being in a direct national interest, yet the presence of American troops on these missions was nonetheless symbolic of our commitment to things like Nato, Europe, interests in Human Rights, etc; having a soldier killed or wounded in actions in these types of missions was perceived as one of the worst things that could happen.

    The better the force protection levels of the Soldiers and their facilities, the lower the risk to the force. And thus, the better the chance to be deemed "successful" within the organization.

    An obvious byproduct of this is that a substantial cut of personnel, effortm and resources in a given operation are dedicated to force protection.

    And many of our forces spend significant amounts of time holed up in these bases, isolated from the people and the environment they are there to impact.

  4. Rufus, my friend, you are truly preaching to the choir. I see the same light as you!

    I am hopeful that the idea of working "By With, and Through" the population, and probably "For" the population, truly catches on in both theaters, especially in Iraq.

    Time will tell.

  5. Certainly seems to me that the final paragraphs of that WaPo piece:
    "It wouldn't surprise me if Congress pulled the rug out or the Iraqis blocked major revisions in strategy," said Erin M. Simpson, a Harvard University counterinsurgency expert. "I think they're going to be a very frustrated group."

    Kilcullen, the counterinsurgency adviser, wrote recently on the Web site Small Wars Journal, "All that the new strategy can do is give us a fighting chance of success, and it certainly does give us that."

    All hit the mark.
    Six months, eight at the most.
    Invest heavy in the MTT program
    Lock down the City, clog traffic,
    increase local Security presence.

    We are years behind the curve, on the ground over there. Bet the civilian slots are still more empty then not.