“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."

Friday, March 09, 2007

Osama turns 50. CIA wants to blow out his candles.

Few men need killing more than Osama bin Laden. Every time I take off my shoes at the airport and peak into the trash cans filled with water bottles and sun lotion, I think of how the house of Saud and the CIA inadvertently changed our world.

According to the book,"Taliban: Militant Islam, Oil and Fundamentalism in Central Asia", Yale University Press, by Ahmed Rashid who is the Pakistan, Afghanistan and Central Asia correspondent for the Far Eastern Economic Review and The Daily Telegraph of London, Osama is a CIA idea gone bad. Amongst other claims, Ahmed Rashid
states that
in 1986, CIA chief William Casey had stepped up the war against the Soviet Union by taking three significant, but at that time highly secret, measures. He had persuaded the U.S. Congress to provide the Mujaheddin with American-made Stinger anti-aircraft missiles to shoot down Soviet planes and provide U.S. advisers to train the guerrillas. The CIA, Britain's MI6 and the ISI (Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence) also agreed on a provocative plan to launch guerrilla attacks into the Soviet Socialist Republics of Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, the soft Muslim underbelly of the Soviet state from where Soviet troops in Afghanistan received their supplies. Casey was delighted with the news, and on his next secret trip to Pakistan he crossed the border into Afghanistan with President Zia to review the Mujaheddin groups.

"Thirdly, Casey committed CIA support to a long-standing ISI initiative to recruit radical Muslims from around the world to come to Pakistan and fight with the Afghan Mujaheddin. Washington wanted to demonstrate that the entire Muslim world was fighting the Soviet Union alongside the Afghans and their American benefactors.''

Do I believe it? Read "Charlie Wilson's War" and you tell me what you think.

This morning's Telegraph is reporting that the CIA may finally get to terminate the mission:

US sends spies into Pakistan to kill bin Laden

By Toby Harnden in Washington and Thomas Coghlan in Helmand
Last Updated: 1:43am GMT 09/03/2007 Telegraph

America is stepping up its hunt for Osama bin Laden by dispatching additional CIA operatives and paramilitary officers to Pakistan to kill or capture the al-Qa'eda leader.

US officials said that the mission is intended to intensify the pressure on the terrorist leader, who turns 50 tomorrow, and perhaps force him into making a mistake. He is widely believed to be hiding in the region bordering Afghanistan.

Satellite photographs and details of communications intercepts were given to President Musharraf of Pakistan last week by Stephen Kappes, deputy director of the CIA, as part of a strategy to persuade him to give US intelligence agencies more assistance.

Mr Kappes, a Middle East specialist who has served in Pakistan, travelled to Islamabad to brief Gen Musharraf along with Vice President Dick Cheney. His detailed presentation showed evidence of al-Qa'eda building its strength on Pakistani soil.

"Reports that the trail has gone stone cold are not correct," an American official said afterwards. "We are very much increasing our efforts there."

more from the Telegraph here


  1. OT:
    Soon the world's richest will be a Mexican:
    Magnate worth $49B, still counting

    Mexican mogul's empire is so vast, most of his countrymen couldn't go without his services.

  2. Fellow peacekeeper has started blogging again over at Rearguard. Drop by and say hello. I will put up a link unless Whit can beat me to it.

  3. Jonah Goldberg
    The Joe and Valerie show

    Libby was convicted, but the Wilsons are the ones profiting from dishonesty.
    March 8, 2007
    SURE, SURE, "Scooter" Libby might go to jail. His career is in tatters, his life a shambles. Even Denis Collins, the omnipresent juror-journalist, says he and his peers feel sympathy for Libby, the "fall guy" in this whole spectacle. But really, who is the real victim?
    "The golden couple targeted by White House machine," as described by one British paper this week, have had to put up with so much.

    Lesser mortals might have a hard time sleeping at night knowing that they're having the time of their lives through a level of dishonesty dwarfing the transgressions that may send Scooter Libby to prison. But, thank goodness, the golden couple is better than that. They're troopers.

  4. Doubt Mr Bush pardons Scooter, now or later. Not even going out the door, but that's just my thought.

    Osama, the hunt continues.

    The US leaking it has put boots on the ground in Pakistan. Not military boots, but fellows that really care and can phone home when they have something to say.

    To place the head of Osama on a pike in the center of Kabul, now that'd be sweet. With the rest of his remains burned in a lard fired furnace.

    Ahh.. the fantasy. I'm afraid that old Osama may not have reached the big Five O, and thusly will live, forever, as an icon.

    Along with Zapata and Che'.
    Other border bandits that have made it, to the big time of fame, if not fortune.

    j willie's comparison of YouTube and Google to AOL is pretty good.
    While many who got in early made out well on AOL, the company was never worth the multiples paid, as history shows. It was specalitive investing in a business that was basicly built on an unsound model.
    Time Warner learning that size & market share is not everything.

    The idea that market share today, equals profits tomorrow does not always hold true. Whether in stick and brick business or on the iNet.

  5. With Libby probably going to jail, you just have to ask; "why hasn't Sandy "Burglar" been arrested by the Bush Dept. of Justice?

    no consistency - none!

    More to the point of this entry; "we haven't been pressing Musharraf and going after Osama all along?


  6. tiger,
    There is no military solution to Warizistan or Osama or Iraq or Iran or Lebanon or Palistine.

    The military can ony provide a small part of the total package required to win. Warizistan just to tough a landscape for US to operate in, both physically or politically.

    Military defeat of the "Enemy" has never been the Goal in the War on Terror.
    The Goal, as in Iraq, is CULTURAL CONVERSION without the destruction of the previous culture.

    Has yet to work in New Orleans or Mexico, but what the hey, we've given it a go with the Islamoids.
    Five and half years of attempt, one would think we'd have learned the lesson.

    Which is why, I guess, we've gotten in bed with the Wahabbists.
    The lessons were learned

  7. I understand that DR, but that's exactly what's wrong with our policy.

    Look at Iran and Syria. The Iraq situation might have been better today if we had dealt with Iran (militarily) and Israel had dealt with Syria. Lebanon might also have seen improvements.

    And yes, I realize this sort of action brings up additional problems, but as you say: the Bush administration is OBVIOUSLY NOT FIGHTING the W.O.T.! Cultural Conversion cannot happen without force (remember the Japanese - we've been over all this before).

    I sincerely hate to quote a Democrat but, "this administration has no learning curve". (Joe Biden)

  8. >>>no learning curve...Iam not quite sure why I thought that was so funny, but I did.

  9. Yep, tiger, the longer it goes on the more cultural conversions we see, on our side.

    Good old "nuke 'em all" nahncee, over at BC, now would be pleased if the US could just withdraw with honor, without the spector of defeat hanging over head.

    Saw Michael Ware on CNN last night, seemed to have an unbiased view of Iraq's situation.
    He sees no sign of a cultural conversion, there. Little upside at all, for US. Iran and the aQ being the big winners, to date, in Iraq. Both having improved their position there vis a vie the situation before US intervention.

    The Adminsitration does not have many days left, to turn it around there, less than half the time than we've already spent, in Iraq.

    Mr Bush was totally correct, back in '02, when he said time was not on our side. To bad he did not believe it enough to dismiss the charade of the "Long War".

    Instead we now have a situation where the Congress is actively opposed to the President's War policies, with a crisis a comin'.

    When Mr Bush vetos the supplemental appropriation for the War, who will get the blame for not "supporting the troops", the Executive or the Congress?

    Especially on top of the Walter Reed fiasco that has been building for at least the past five years, a real lack of support for the wounded Vets. Now with the Bush Administration budgeting process looking for further cuts in spending growth for Veterans medical needs, as the number of Veterans in need multiply, Mr Bush supplies to his opponents an easy target.

    Last time, the President and the MSM laid the blame on Newt and the Congress, for shutting down the Government, this time the MSM will line up with Congress and spin, spin, spin.
    Mr Bush, not having Clinton's empathy skills will, most likely feel the heat, instead of Ms Pelosi.

    "Mr President, why do you favor sending ill equipped and under trained troops into combat in Iraq?"

    I can hear it spinning now.

  10. Unadulterated SNAFUish FUBAR all around!

    ... simply amazing. we've got to stop electing these Yale-Harvard types!

  11. Anybody know this guy's real name? Pulled this off DEBKAfile:

    US forces in Iraq capture al Qaeda leader known as the Butcher with 15 insurgents

    March 9, 2007, 12:11 PM (GMT+02:00)

    He was seized with a group of six in an early Friday raid in northern town of Mosul. A US military statement said the Butcher was responsible for many kidnappings, beheadings and suicide operations in the Ramadi area of Anbar and in Mosul. Another eight members of an insurgent courier network were rounded up near Karmah, including an “al Qaeda media emir” responsible for propaganda. Two men suspected of helping foreign fighters slip into Iraq were detained in Falluja.

  12. DR said,

    While many who got in early made out well on AOL, the company was never worth the multiples paid, as history shows. It was specalitive investing in a business that was basicly built on an unsound model.
    Time Warner learning that size & market share is not everything.

    The idea that market share today, equals profits tomorrow does not always hold true. Whether in stick and brick business or on the iNet.

    I have a problem with certain assertions of fact above.

    1) company was never worth the multiples paid. Nobody paid multiples for it and history shows TW did as much or more to screw up AOL as vice versa. First AOL acquired TW; at that time AOL market cap was $200B, TW was $150B, so AOL shareholders did not pay anything, but instead got a share of TW for every share of AOL they owned. instead they owned Post merger, AOL shareholders owned 55% of the combined companies, BUT (and a BIG BUT), TW management ran the company (despite Case having titular Chairman position). Merger strategy was intended to eliminate each company's glaring strategic weakness. AOL was a dial-up Internet service provider with preeminent clout as an advertising vehicle due to its 30 million subscribers. TW was the largest cable company at that time with 13 million subscribers, but had no (successful) web advertising presence. As with any merger, success or failure is a function or executing the merger strategy and TW bureaucratic execs did not get it done. This blogger explains what happened and why it was TW's fault. Any industry exec or dealmaker would agree with his analysis (vs media stories). What especially handicapped AOL/TW was the payment of $7.5B in cash for 50% of AOL Europe not owned. An entrepreneur (Steve Case or Bob Pittman in this case) would never have done that deal. You got 50%, you got an equal vote on everything and only have to put up half the $. Save the cash for a rainy day/truly strategic opportunity, not financial engineering.

    2)business that was built on an unsound business model. Dial-up Internet was and remains anything bus an unsound business. Everyone in the industry knew it would be cannibalized by broadband, but it did not have to be ruinous to transition the customer base (Earthlink has successfully done so). Dial-up was the source of millions of DSL customers owned by SBC, Verizon, Qwest and their acquired RBOC brethren. It was simply a business risk that had to be managed. AOL achieved the strategic means to make that transition occur by acquiring the then largest cable system owner and more importantly, cable content owner (HBO, MTV, CNN, Headline News, Cartoon Network, TBS, etc. and major film studio (Warner Bros Pictures). The cable industry had long been a game of access, with successful firms leveraging content ownership into ever larger distribution footprints. John Malone would say you have access to my subs, but you have to carry my cable programming. Only Disney could afford to not own a distribution system, due to the unique value of its content. A Malone, Turner, Case or Pittman would have leveraged/strongarmed the AOL/TW position into a viable broadband plan for its dialup customers. Weak kneed Jerry Levin and weaker kneed corporate bureaucrat Dick Parsons were only good at knifing colleagues in the back to get the top position. They weren't entrepreneurs/media empire builders like the aforementioned four. Not a business model problem at all, just a management team problem.

    3)Time Warner learning that size & market share is not everything. In the content and in the cable/telecom business, scale is THE key strategic variable. It IS everything. I was a member of a team comprising execs from Disney, BellSouth, SBC and Ameritech that created a strategic planning document for the joint venture we created. We correctly forecast the ensuing ten years of industry developments in the cable, telecommunications and cable programming industries (Internet did not really exist commercially at that time). The key to profitability in all three is scale, as all are characterized by high fixed cost/low variable cost economics. The more customers you have, the lower those fixed costs per customer. Upon those economics have been premised the shrinking number of large players in telecom, cable and content - from 8 large telcos in 1994 to 2 1/2 today; from eight large cable companies in 1994 to 3 1/2 today; from three independently owned/operated broadcast networks to none; from 8-10 film studios to 3-4; from 8-10 major cable programming entities to 3-4. The more customers you have, the higher the advertising rates one could charge. What kind of advertising rates do you think American Idol can get right now, with double the audience of any competitor THREE nights/week? The answer - high, very high.

    4)The idea that market share today, equals profits tomorrow does not always hold true. Whether in stick and brick business or on the iNet. Partially correct. The correct answer would be that it depends on industry strategic/competitive structure. Industry structures characterized by high fixed costs, low variable costs with high barriers to entry are always ogopolistic in nature. In oligopolies, market share will always correlate highly with profitability. In sticks and bricks, however, you are correct. Low barriers to entry/exit, low fixed costs, high variable costs, sort of like agriculture - about as purely competitive as one could ask for.

  13. Beer Me, Fridge
    Remote-control refrigerator tosses cans to inventive couch potato.

    A video featuring the device is a hit on the Internet, where more than 600,000 people have watched it at, earning Cornwell more than $3,000 from the Web site.

  14. Doug, that would be some of that low quality "user generated" content that Phillipe's fairy ass doesn't want to expose his advertisers to. Beautiful thing about Google is that it lets the advertisers decide what they want exposure to. Fact is that with the Internet, viral marketing can "move the merchandise" around the world before old media can get its saleman over to the customer for lunch to talk about what "exposure" the customer might want. Did you see the story about someone saying they had paid for "diggs" on Digg? Went to the top of the heap in about an hour. When the clever minds focus on those type or marketing approaches instead of the crap that advertisers insult us with on TV, big changes can happend very fast.

    Responded to your question abt Google Paypal and observation re: MS on that thread.

  15. Yeah, I saw that, very interesting, glad you will soon be joining Deuce and Whit in the Virtual Editorial Board Room!