“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 12, 2007

War with Iran, to be or not to be?

The Left wing blogs are all in accord. The US is itching for war with Iran. Newsweek and The Economist speculate on their covers that war is a possibility. Reckless or wise? Necessary or folly?

What is it that is happening with Iran?

Bush urging no war plans for Iran

One News, New Zealand
Feb 13, 2007
President George W. Bush is trying to convince the world he has no intention of invading Iran, but is running into skeptics who see US charges that Iran is shipping bombs into Iraq as a step toward conflict.

Having ordered two aircraft carriers to the Gulf and accused Iranians of providing Iraqi militants bombs that have killed 170 Americans, Bush and his top aides are struggling to tamp down talk that a new war is brewing.

Bush himself prompted the talk in a January 10 speech outlining his reworked Iraq strategy, by saying "Iran is providing material support for attacks on American troops. We will disrupt the attacks on our forces."

A debate has since raged over whether he has an attack on Iran in mind. "Next Stop Iran?" asked The Economist magazine's cover this week over a picture of a US military aircraft in flight.

The White House sees tensions with Iran over its nuclear ambitions as a separate issue from Tehran's alleged bomb supplies in Iraq.

Bush wants the nuclear issue resolved diplomatically, but has authorised US forces to capture or kill Iranians involved in attacks on Americans or Iraqis inside Iraq.

"We're not getting ready for war on Iran, but what we are doing is we're protecting our own people. And we're going to do it. And we've made it clear that that is going to be a priority," White House spokesman Tony Snow said on Tuesday.

Repeat of 2003?

Democrats say they fear a repeat of 2002 and 2003, when Bush made a case for war against Iraq based on weapons of mass destruction that were never found.

"That's how we got into the mess in Iraq. That's why some of us supported those resolutions because of doctored information. So I'm very skeptical based on recent past history about this administration leading us in that direction," Connecticut Democratic Senator Christopher Dodd, a presidential hopeful, said on CBS' "Face the Nation" on Tuesday.

When Bush hears arguments like that, he sees a political attack from Democrats who want their party to claim the White House in 2008.

"I guess my reaction to all the noise about 'he wants to go to war' -- first of all I don't understand the tactics. I guess I would say it's political," Bush told C-SPAN on Tuesday.

The White House says some of the war talk is being driven by a news media hungry for the next big story.

"I don't think there's a change of tone on our part. I think that there have been attempts, with all due respect, in the press, to try to whip this up -- 'Is the administration going after Iran?'" said Snow.

Anthony Cordesman, a Middle East expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, said the Iran war debate appeared to be driven by Democrats looking for an issue and neoconservatives who would like to see regime change in Tehran.

"It's quite clear from the content that they are trying to stop the flow of money and arms (into Iraq), not trying to provide a war with Iran. If anything, the signals are more about deterrence than anything else," he said.

The Bush administration is trying to walk a fine line between threatening Iran over its alleged bomb supplies in Iraq, which Tehran denies, and underscoring its reliance on diplomacy over Iran's nuclear ambitions.

On the issue of Iranian bombs in Iraq, US officials are adamant that the evidence is true. "The Iranians are up to their eyeballs in this activity," State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said.


  1. A young Augustus?

    or am I mistaken?

  2. On the issue of Iranian bombs in Iraq

    ..But the the Shia fundamentalists would never work with Sunni fundamentalists...

    The reasons which led muslims at one time to become sunnis and shiites do not exist any longer...we are all muslims...this is an islamic revolution...we are all brothers in islam
    - Ayatollah Khomeini

    In 1992, Hassan Abdallah al -Turabi, the spirtual leader of Sudan, set forth a theological compromise between the teachings of Sunni Egyptian Sayyid Muhammad Qutb and the teachings of Ayatollah Khomeini.

    Did Imad Mugniyah and bin Laden ever meet?

    It is all rather complicated

  3. It is all rather complicated...

    Our strategic stagnation results from the fact that we are fighting four wars, not one. According to Gates: "One is Shi'a on Shi'a, principally in the south; the second is sectarian conflict, principally in Baghdad, but not solely; third is the insurgency; and fourth is al Qaida, and al Qaida is attacking, at times, all of those targets." The multifaceted nature of these four wars has frustrated American strategy since 2003. Successes in one area produce setbacks in the others, with al-Qaida hovering above the fray to spoil progress whenever it threatens to bring stability to Iraq, as they did (did they?) by bombing the al-Askari Mosque in Samarra in February 2006 after the successful Iraqi elections. Consequently, any strategies implementing the counterinsurgency playbook, smart as those plans may be, will necessarily prove insufficient because we aren't just fighting an insurgency anymore.

  4. I was thinking about pond scum as the bio fuel solution. It seems too good to be true. What is wrong with this ?

  5. European Officials Agree to Widen Economic Sanctions Against Iran Over Nuclear Program

    Published: February 13, 2007
    WASHINGTON, Feb. 12 — European negotiators, yielding to pressure from the United States, have agreed to widen a ban on financial transactions with Iran and the export of materials and technology that Iran could use to develop nuclear weapons.

    European officials said a resolution embodying the wider ban was negotiated over the last week and should go far toward satisfying the Bush administration, which has been pressing European governments for firmer action against Iranian individuals and companies as part of a campaign to isolate the Tehran government because of its suspected nuclear arms program.

    “This is a very positive initiative because it takes the European Union beyond where they were until recently,” said R. Nicholas Burns, the under secretary of state for political affairs. “It’s not everything we would like to see happen. But the trajectory is good and the momentum is good, so we think this is a positive event.”

  6. MANPADS...

    The recent models are designed to send a dense pattern of high-speed fragments through the target for maximum damage, and the explosion may be enhanced by fuzing which detonates any unused fuel. Their destructive power is formidable.

    This leads to last-ditch defenses like aim-point biasing, relatively cheap countermeasures (compared to the multi-million dollar laser jammers) to get the warhead to strike the less flight-critical parts of a helicopter and make the difference between a hit that results in a hard landing and one that destroys the helicopter completely.

    Another way of dealing with the threat is to gets the MANPADS first. While Rules of Engagement are unlikely to be changed to alow helicopters to open fire at will, the AirCrcaft CounterMeasures (ACCM) laser provides one option. This is a laser dazzler fitted to helicopters to illuminate potential threats on the ground. The laser makes it much harder to target a helicopter, but more significantly the reaction of the person targeted gives a clue as to whether they are an insurgent getting ready to fire or an innocent civilian.

    Another new approach, Ares notes, is DARPA's Battlefield Helicopter Emulator, an expendable decoy drone which produces the same noise and heat signature as a real helicopter. It may seem like an expensive option -- but losing helicopters is a far more costly prospect.

    Helicopters operate at low speed and low altitude, making them especially vulnerable to MANPADS. Heavy armor is not an option except for attack choppers like the AH-64 Apache; transport, utility and scout craft carry much lighter protection. And in Afghanistan, even the Soviets' armored Mil-24 Hind gunships proved vulnerable to Stinger MANPADS.

    Previously, US helicopter cover has prevented insurgents from operating from rooftops. If exposing helicopters becomes too risky, then that cover will be more limited. In this way, just a handful of MANPADS could have a significant impact on the ground battles. Which makes the timing of these latest helicopter losses -- just before the surge of US troops arrives for a make-or-break operation in Baghdad -- highly significant.

    - Jim O'Halloran, editor of the authoritative Jane’s Land Based Air Defence

    ...Syria has delivered Russian-made SA-18 "Grouse" Igla 9K38 anti-air missiles to Lebanese Hezballah

    Moscow guaranteed the shoulder-carried SA-18 “Grouse” Igla 9K38 was sold to Damascus under the strict prohibition of its transfer to Hizballah, DEBKAfile notes. The pledge was given to the US and personally by Russian president Vladimir Putin to Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert.

    A Lebanese army source says the advanced missile consignment may have been concealed in the Beqaa valley of Lebanon near the Syrian border for use by Hizballah, which intends to significantly increase its anti-aircraft capabilities for any future war with Israel.

    The Grouse is a surface-air heat-seeking missile designed to shoot down low-flying planes and helicopters at a range of up to 5,200 meters and altitude of 3,500 meters.

    The missile employs an IR guidance system. It offers better protection against electro-optical jammers. According to the Federation of American Scientists (FAS), the SA-18 probability of kill against an unprotected fighter is estimated at 30-48%, and the use of IRCM jammers only degrades this to 24-30%.

  7. Now tell I lying?

    On April 18, 1984, Imad Mugniyah made his first appearance on the FBI's "Most Wanted List" by masterminding the bombing of the U.S. embassy in Lebanon.

    On October 10, 2000, al-Qaeda attacked the USS Cole. The blast was caused by a "cone-shaped charge" that contained "modable high explosives such as SEMTEX H," shaped to create a high speed, high temperature explosion.

    It represented a device that had been uniquely developed by Mugniyah for attacks in Lebanon, Israel, and South America.

  8. N. Korea agrees to end Nuclear Program!

    This announcement is a Clinton Administration redux. President Bush has agreed to essentially the same deal Clinton gave the munchkin years ago.

    WE ARE USING THE SAME TRACK WITH IRAN. Even if the little grinning tyrant goes away the weapons will still be made.

    ... smoke and mirrors ...

  9. I am with you Bob. I do not trust this Administration to do the smart thing.

    Iran, on its own, with applied sanctions, and declining oil prices will self-destruct. I am afraid that Ahmadinejad is seducing the impetuous and foolish GWB into reacting to his transparent provocations.

    Bush has emboldened the enemies of the US on every continent.

    He refuses to secure the borders of the United States and enforce US laws. He has the worst combination of weaknesses to be found in a leader.

    His level of competence is marginal. His intuitions are suspect. His accomplishments nil and he fails to recognize the depth and of any personal defiicts.

    There is not one US Government institution that has been improved, strengthened or enhanced by his guidance, inspiration or insight.

    He has reduced US political strength and has set back the gains made by the US military and diplomacy since the 1970's.

    GWB rescued the reputation of the disgraced Bill Clinton by comparison. He has undone the rescue of the Republican Party resurgence, a creation of Newt Gingrich.

    His answer to the North Korean nuclear program is to pay them off at four times the rate of the Clinton Administration.

    Other than that Bob, I don't have a clue either.

  10. If this Administration finds weapons of Iranian origin being used against US troops. Find the factory producing it and make it disappear.

    Find the politicians behind the decision and kill them. Do it with stealth, consistancy and deniability.

    Find Iranian agents in Iraq? Torture them, interrogate them and then dump them in the Euphrates.

  11. When the Mullahs start moving their money abroad en mass, we'll know that it's over. Until then, we just have to be patient.

  12. Close the borders. To Iran. To Syria. To Mexico. To Jordan. Shoot those not vetted by the US coming over.

    Good fences make good neighbors.

    What is so hard about these ideas?

    Round up and send back to their country of origin those who we do want in country.

    The Hobo