“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, March 19, 2007

Four years in Iraq. What next ?

President Bush marks the fourth anniversary of the war in Iraq on Monday as the White House tries to counter Democratic attempts to force a withdrawal of U.S. troops.

Bush is expected to issue a plea for more patience in the war, which has stretched longer with higher costs than the White House ever anticipated. The president will make a statement in the Roosevelt Room.

"It can be tempting to look at the challenges in Iraq and conclude that our best option is to pack up and go home," Bush was to say, according to an administration official who saw an advance text of his remarks. "While that may be satisfying in the short run, the consequences for American security would be devastating."

The recriminations on this unwanted anniversary will be many, but there is one question. What is best for American interests at this time?


  1. Rufus said...
    Fuck the Iraqis. This Never Was about Them, anyway.

    Mon Mar 19, 10:59:00 AM EDT

  2. I took the liberty in bringing that over from the last thread, because I believe it represents a significant opinion of many.

  3. OR, the opinion of many "Significants."

  4. War and rumors of war, for the immediate future.

    SCIRI consolidation of power in the south. The Kurds and Shia move foreward on their agreement to Regionalize the country, under a weak Federal Government in Baghdad.

    The Sunni, despite any proposed Iraqi oil wealth sharing, will be impoverished, cut off from the gravey train. Mr al-Sadr was the Shia political power in Iraq that opposed the Regionalization, knowing that his base in the Baghdad Government would see its' power eroded. His exile from Iraq removes that obstacle to Mr al-Hakim's SCIRI power grab.

    The US will spend early '07 playing "Wack an ali-Baba" across the Sunni triangle.

    The Surge will bring some stability to Baghdad and be declared a Success.
    The US will begin pulling out the Surge troops by late Summer, early Fall. By November the "Security Handowver" will be completed, the Papers signed.

    As the US troops leave the combined Patrol Bases, the Iraqi will perform to type, putting Family, Clan and Tribe first in their priorities. As they always have.

    Tit for tat violence will incease, both inter and intra Sectarian.

  5. Then good old Mr President Bush, he sure was a fibbin', rufus, back in '03.

    There are any number of speechs archived at the White House web site where he totally disagrees with that premise, that it's not, and never was, about the Iraqi people.

    Into '04 that's what it's ALL ABOUT, in his words, anyway. Unless of course he was lyin' to US all.

  6. He was telling the people what they wanted/needed to hear.

  7. Great leaders know when it's time to go to war. FDR was going crazy trying to figure out how to get us into WWII before it was too late.

  8. Dubya didn't have the Japs to attack us, and make his life easier. He had to talk the people into war before it was too late.

    He went to war with the talking points he had. Intelligent people knew what he was doing, and most approved.

  9. Well then, rufus, Mr Bush certainly falls short of great.

    With an even more an outragous event then Pearl Harbour to leverage, he has yet to identify the Enemy, let alone defeat it.

    Losing the US Public's support of his Strategic Policies along the way.

    Even your support for his cornerstone, "Peace through Democratization", policy has withered on the vine. Morphing into a "Fuck them" attitude of disgust.

    If that is because Mr Bush failed to tell the truth about our Enemies, filling our heads with falsehoods, it is only because he did not take Mr Lincoln's words to heart:

    "Tou can fool all of the people some of the time, some of the people all of the time, but not all the people all of the time"

    Fool me once, shame on you
    Fool me twice, shame on me

    A reputation of Integrity, once lost, is hard to recover.

  10. Are you referring to the Abraham Lincoln that suspended Habeas Corpus? The one that was considered a "traitor" and a "fool" during his time in office?

  11. The 1991 Gulf War never finished with a peace treaty, only a cease-fire, just like Korea in 1953. We were content to just keep Saddam in a box with "no fly zones" and every now and then we'd ratchet up the sorties-per-day in retaliation for some close shave with missiles. I see the 2003 Iraq War as simply the second act of the same war. Now we have a friendly regime in Baghdad. Why, just recently they lifted their restrictions on our forces going into Sadr City! Saddam and his boys are enjoying their 72 virgins in Paradise. So let's motorvate and get the hell out of Dodge.

  12. A POTUS in the 21st Century has much more important things to worry about than "A reputation of integrity."

    That is they type of luxury reserved for pretentious bloggers and Times Opiners, I think.

  13. Don't worry, T; there are a lot of very bright people looking for a crack in the action to do that very thing. Politicians do dearly hate being "out of power."

  14. Rufus said...
    Fuck the Iraqis. This Never Was about Them, anyway.

    Well, for many it is quite the opposite. The only reason worth staying is because we owe it to the poor freedom loving secular Iraqi (i.e. Mohammed and Omar at ITM) to give them a democratic State free from the few terrorist jihadi standing the in way. The irony is we are on a path that won't produce that desired outcome.

  15. To me, the much greater lie then the WMD statements, which were based upon CIA "slam dunks" anyway, is the mantra of "Religion of Peace" that echos from the White House to this day. Collapsing the resolve of the US people with those platitudes

    The US was attacked by Wahabbist Mohammedans both financed and manned from the ideologic wastelands of Saudi Arabia.

    The Wahabbists of the KSA are our now the US's bestest Allies in the Region. There is something radically wrong with that picture, as far as I'm concerned.

    The War on Terror, FUBAR'd for as far as the eye can see.

  16. If integrity does not matter, bring back the Clintons
    It's a two fer one deal.

    Better than Wal-Mart.

    Oh, it's the Mr Lincoln that won the war, changing Generals until there was progress towards Victory.
    The Mr Lincoln that was all for Reconciliation, after the War was won.

    Lot's of lessons from the past that went unlearned, in these post-modern time.

  17. While I don't agree with Brian Westbury on everything, I pretty much agree with him on this:

    While poorly structured loans will result in many foreclosures and bankruptcy for some lenders, the impact on the overall US economy should be negligible:

    First, US GDP growth rates are not directly reduced by a shift from homeownership to renting. Renting or owning are both counted as consumption of housing services. Foreclosures do not cause homes to disappear, nor do they remove the spending power earned by workers. The asset price of homes may change but the real value of housing services rendered by the housing stock (rentals and owner-occupied homes combined) will barely budge, if at all. And while construction or mortgage-related job losses may rise, the adjustment will take place over time, limiting the damage.

    Second, the days of limited financial choice are long gone. Years ago, when local banks found themselves holding bad loans (often based on local economic conditions), they had to limit all lending, including to creditworthy borrowers - and those worthy borrowers had nowhere else to turn. Now, interstate competition and even international competition have made it almost irrelevant if a particular lender goes belly-up. There are always other healthy financial firms ready to seize market share from troubled ones, or buy assets at fire sale prices. Moreover, the world is awash in liquidity, interest rates are low, and the Fed is still accommodative - not tight like it was in 1999-2000 prior to the stock market crash.

    Third, the increase in mortgage payments associated with non-fixed-rate mortgages is relatively small. Total US residential mortgage debt is about $10 trillion - with about $7 trillion fixed and $3 trillion in adjustable-rate products and other exotics, such as interest-only and negative amortization loans. About $600 billion of these non-fixed-rate loans will have major re-sets in 2007, going from the teaser rate to the full rate or going from interest-only or "negative am" periods to full amortization. These major re-sets should boost annual payments by about $15 billion slightly more than 0.1% of GDP - a relatively small amount that is not enough to draw blood, much less mortally wound, the US economy.

    Another fear is that real estate price declines might impinge on consumer net worth. To assess these risks we use a model of residential real-estate prices based on rents, after-tax incomes, interest rates, and the stock market. The model suggests that on a nationwide basis, owner-occupied homes were probably about 5% overvalued at the end of 2006, versus 10% overvalued at the end of 2005. This likely means that some markets are significantly overvalued, but most are at or near fair value. In other words, this is not the bust all over again. Falling to fair value overnight could require a loss of $1 trillion in household net worth (5 percent of total owner-occupied housing assets of $21 trillion). But even this loss is small when compared to the $3.8 trillion increase in the net worth of US citizens in 2006. The most likely outcome is for rents and incomes to gradually grow to justify the current average level of home prices. This lion won't roar.

    H/T Cap Gain at Kudlows

  18. So you're here to tell US, rufus, that Mr Bush is way off target, even today?
    Here is a portion of what he said:

    "... At this point in the war, our most important mission is helping the Iraqis secure their capital.

    Until Baghdad's citizens feel secure in their own homes and neighborhoods, it will be difficult for Iraqis to make further progress toward political reconciliation or economic rebuilding _ steps necessary for Iraq to build a democratic society.

    So with our help, Iraq's government is carrying out an aggressive plan to secure Baghdad. And we're continuing to train the Iraqi security forces so that they ultimately take full responsibility for the security of their own people.

    The most important thing, our current Goal, why it's to make "... Baghdad's citizens feel secure in their own homes and neighborhoods ..."

    It's all about "Feelings" with our compassionate conservatives.

    Not a "fuck them" attitude at all.
    Someone's pants are on fire, aye

  19. We've baked the cake; why not try to put a little "icing" on it?

  20. Funny, rufus, I read it the piece and that's not the spin I get. He closes with this

    Preserving the victory achieved in Iraq means delivering a deathblow to all the Middle East's demons: the pan-Arab chauvinists, the Khomeinists, al Qaeda and other jihadis, Shiite and Sunni sectarians, and reactionary autocrats.

    A DEATH BLOW must still be delivered to seven different distinct groups of opposition.
    or the Victory, such as it is today in Basra, will not be preserved.

    Or does he mean that turning all of Iraq into a mirror image of "Success in Basra" will be death blow enough for the foes of freedom?

  21. Well, perhaps I would settle for a little less than Mr. Taheri.

  22. What was interesting about what Mr Bush said:
    it will be difficult for Iraqis to make further progress toward political reconciliation or economic rebuilding _ steps necessary for Iraq to build a democratic society.

    Now the MPs that do not want the Iraqi Constitution Admended or the oil revenues redistributed, have reason to stonewall. The US admitting that as long as the Long War rages, reconciliation will be "difficult".

  23. Four More Years!

    MARCH 19, 2003: Bush launches invasion of Iraq

    APRIL 9, 2003: Saddam Statue Toppled

    MAY 1, 2003: Mission Accomplished

    JULY 2, 2003: BUSH: "There are some who feel like — that the conditions are such that they can attack us there. My answer is, bring them on."

    DECEMBER 14, 2003: Saddam is captured

    MARCH 24, 2004: Bush jokes at the Radio and Television Correspondents Association Dinner: "Those weapons of mass destruction have got to be somewhere."

    APRIL 28, 2004: Images of torture at Abu Ghraib are revealed

    SEPTEMBER 7, 2004: Death toll of U.S. soldiers in Iraq reaches 1,000

    JANUARY 30, 2005: U.S. loses track of nearly $9 billion in Iraqi funds

    MAY 30, 2005: CHENEY: "I think they’re in the last throes, if you will, of the insurgency." [CNN Larry King Live]

    OCTOBER 26, 2005: American military death toll reaches 2,000

    DECEMBER 30, 2006: Saddam executed by hanging.

    JANUARY 3, 2007: Death toll of U.S. soldiers in Iraq reaches 3,000

    JANUARY 19, 2007: $8.4 billion: The cost of the Iraq war per month. "It rose from a monthly 'burn rate' of about $4.4 billion during the first year of fighting in fiscal 2003." [LA Times]

    MARCH 10, 2007: Senior Administration Official: "Right now there is no trend" that escalation is working. [Washington Post]

  24. 'Rat said:
    "With an even more an outragous event then Pearl Harbour to leverage, he has yet to identify the Enemy, let alone defeat it.

    Losing the US Public's support of his Strategic Policies along the way.
    To me, the much greater lie then the WMD statements, which were based upon CIA "slam dunks" anyway, is the mantra of "Religion of Peace" that echos from the White House to this day. Collapsing the resolve of the US people with those platitudes.
    Great leader, indeed!