“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."

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Setbacks and Disappointments

Given the current political climate, its not going to happen, but what is desperately needed is for the adults to put aside politics and realize that Iraq, Afghanistan and the overall GWOT are problems that the country (indeed, the world) as a whole must confront. Controlling the sectarian situation in Iraq may be impossible for anyone bound by Western rules and sensibilities and even if the surge is successful in the near term, we have no assurance of a lasting peace. We must be prepared for the worst case scenario in Iraq; long term civil war characterized by Sunni-Shia conflict spilling over into the larger middle east, reducing world oil supply and increasing terror attacks worldwide.

The US must be prepared to get out of the way when the situation in Iraq crosses a certain threshold. That threshold should not be stated publically but it must be set and we must be able to recognize diminishing returns and act in our best interests. If the Muslim world insists on war with itself, we should step aside and let them do what we are too "civilized" to do ourselves.

Trish has said that it is time for a new narrative. This is the one that has been in the back of mind lately. In war, there are victories and defeats which do not affect the ultimate outcome and if we are unsuccessful in Iraq and Afghanistan, it will be a "setback" or a "disappointment" but not a defeat.


  1. RUSH: Elaine in Pittsburgh, I'm glad you called and welcome to the EIB Network.

    CALLER: Oh, thank you, Rush. I love talking to, I love listening to you. What I wanted to know was, in the Senate, the testimony that Valerie Plame gave where she said someone just walked by and just recommended her husband. But if she was there, is that not nepotism?

    RUSH: Yes, it is, but there's something more incredulous about this than just that. By the way, members of the Senate intelligence committee who were listening to her testimony said, "She never said that... So at about that time, when the underling was expressing outrage and shock that the office of the vice president would call, a mystery man goes traipsing by, overhears the conversation as Ms. Plame is being reported to by the underling, and in the midst of the conversation, "Wait a minute –" the mystery guy says, "Wait a minute, Valerie, your husband, why don't we send him over to figure this out?" Do we really believe that's how this happened?

    CALLER: No.

    RUSH: That's what she said under oath.

    CALLER: No, you can't.

    Smacks of Conspiracy

  2. The only reason that US troops are still in Iraq, and have been in Iraq for the last 4 years is Jihadi Oil. What Trish needs to remember and understand, is that the US military is the 4th largest consumer of oil in the world. Without a secure supply of this Jihadi oil, there is no US military. And no job for her dearest hubby.

  3. ohmigod mat, you and I agree - it is about OIL. Mind you, I guess we will still disagree on whether that is a valid reason for such sacrifice but at least we've got a place to start talking.

  4. PRIME Minister John Howard has said he is surprised by a poll finding that seven in 10 voters think he is arrogant, saying he has nothing to be arrogant about.


    Mr Howard has said he has strong views and is prepared to argue his case and go against public opinion on important issues.


    Tasmanian Liberal MP Michael Ferguson was standing by his leader today.

    Nothing to be Arrogant About

  5. Lord Acton: When Bush and Blair are gone, the children are going to be mugged by the reality that our enemies are (still) at war with us.

    We will have one advantage we do not have now: we will not be bogged down in a sideshow conflict with a nation that had destroyed all their WMDs in accordance with international law and never attacked us.

  6. "long term civil war characterized by Sunni-Shia conflict spilling over into the larger middle east"

    ...Just a few weeks ago we were informed that this was silly "master planning...or told that anyone stating such an idea was like a person trying to put the toothpaste back in the tube.
    Turning the enemy against one another - what nonsense.

    - President Bush has managed to divide and conquer the Middle East - by Edward N. Luttwak in Wall Street Journal

    - Muslim Sacrifices at Bush's Temple Alter - By Dr. J. Al Rasheid
    in Al-Ray Al-Aam, Kuwait

    - New Middle East' Borders to Be Drawn in Arab Blood - Thawra Al-Wada, Syria, August 6, 2006

    - 'Islamic world in cold war'
    Israeli experts: Shiite-Sunni conflict dramatically escalated in recent months, Sunnis obsessed with Iranian threat - by Yaakov Lappin

    - Warming Iran-Saudi Ties Foil U.S. Plans to Divide Muslims - by Ya Lesarat Al-Hoseyn, Iran

    "We will have one advantage we do not have now: we will not be bogged down in a sideshow conflict with a nation that had destroyed all their WMDs in accordance with international law and never attacked us."

    Hmm...would the current sectarian divide exist between Sunni and Shia in the absence of the sideshow conflict?

  7. Elijah: Hmm...would the current sectarian divide exist between Sunni and Shia in the absence of the sideshow conflict?

    Answer: yes

    However, the Shi'a and Sunnis are at each other's throats in Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, Turkey, Iran, and Afghanistan, plus there are many other sectarian divides in the world...Northern Ireland, southern Philippines, East Timor. With the exception of Afghanistan, none of these have anything to do with us.

  8. Simon Conway, of the Cluster Munition Coalition, said the UK must ban all cluster bombs.

    "Smart means precision guided and the cluster munitions that the UK wants to retain are not precision guided.

    "As long as the UK retains them, the unacceptable threat to civilians will remain."

    Cluster Bombs

  9. Lord Acton said...
    Given the current political climate, its not going to happen, but what is desperately needed is for the adults to put aside politics and realize that Iraq, Afghanistan and the overall GWOT are problems that the country (indeed, the world) as a whole must confront."

    True, but HOW we address the problems in the Middle East is of utmost importance. To portray the issue as "Cut and Run" vs "Stay the Course" is juvenile an counter productive. I would suggest that we seriously question the current administrations approach to the Israel/Palestinian set of issues as a fulcrum toward adressing the region as a whole. Heck, Israel has agreed to entertain the Saudi peace initiative - that could be construed as a step forward, a loosening of a strand of the gordion knot...maybe.

  10. p.s. we can never really set aside politics but maybe set aside the black and white, us vs them, partisan jockeying....

  11. The House is to vote Friday on the legislation that would give a vote to the D.C. delegate while creating, until the 2010 census, a new at-large seat for Utah.

    That would increase House membership to 437, with the seat from overwhelmingly Democratic D.C. offset by the extra vote from Utah, a predominantly Republican state. Utah narrowly missed obtaining a fourth House seat after the 2000 census.

    Rep. Tom Davis, R-Va., who worked out that compromise with D.C. Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton, said he hoped Bush would override the advice of his aides and approve the legislation if it reaches his desk.

    DC Vote in the House

  12. The authors cited disagree with you T.

    Nontheless, there may be failures in this approach.

    Let's see...Anbar (no wait, Sunni tribal chiefs fighting Sunni AQ)

    ...Basra is the model we are told.
    I agree, the model for Shia vs. Shia conflict.

    The Badr Brigade and Mahdi army are in competition to control Iraq’s Shias. This has led to a low-level war between them, which erupted April and May 2006 and again in Amarah in October. The fighting in April was not caused by religious or ideological differences but by Basra is the centre of Iraq’s oil exports and the conflict was primarily concerned with the division of the spoils. The fighting in Amarah was about dominance of the town once British forces had left. In each case, no group involved was strong enough to win outright.

    So the conflict ...simmers on, erupting periodically, triggered by competition and by...Iranian interference.

    So...the Shia Badr Brigade and Shia Mahdi army will fight their fellow Iraqi over money (read oil wealth); but will submit to Shia Iranians, forfeiting their new found oil wealth?

    Basra is the model.

  13. "I would suggest that we seriously question the current administrations approach to the Israel/Palestinian set of issues as a fulcrum toward adressing the region as a whole."

    others share this view...

    Hizbullah’s representative in Iran, Abdallah Safialdeen: Hizbullah Will Not Need a Large-Scale War. It Will Be Able to Walk into Palestine, Once the Americans Leave Iraq

    Following are excerpts from an address by Abdallah Safialdeen, Hizbullah’s representative in Iran, which aired on Channel 4, Iranian TV, on March 4, 2007.

    Abdallah Safialdeen: The day that Hizbullah won the war shaped the future of the region. It led to what we are witnessing today: America’s actions, the domestic problems of the Zionist regime, the confusion of Europe… The Europeans are very confused now, and don’t know what to do. The horse that they put their money on – Israel – can no longer fulfill the role it played in the past. America has not had any success anywhere in the region. In our opinion, the harbinger of this lack of success was the victory of Hizbullah, the bitter defeat of the Zionist regime, and its incompetence in the region. You should know that… Do you know what an American withdrawal from Iraq will mean? It will mean that Israel will lose its support. It will mean that the Lebanese Hizbullah will not need a large-scale war in order to enter Palestine. Hizbullah will be able to simply walk into Palestine. Rest assured that the day the American forces leave Iraq, the Israelis will leave the region along with them. What was one of the reasons for Olmert’s recent visit to America? He went there in order to say to the Democrats: “Don’t say that the American army will leave Iraq, because this would mean the annihilation of the Zionist regime.” This is because the annihilation of the Zionist regime has begun. Like some of our friends say, Palestine is no longer a problem for us, because the Americans will be forced to leave Iraq. With or without a war against Iran, they will be forced to do so. The moment they leave Iraq, you, the Muslims of the world, can walk into Palestine, because Israel will no longer exist. It will be over and done with. Even with America’s [help], Israel could not do a thing. The Americans will be kicked out of the region, without accomplishing anything. The American forces will be kicked out of the region, in disgrace, humiliation, and defeat. Therefore, this victory was very important. It was a landmark in the history of the Islamic world and the entire region

  14. bobalharb...

    Did it look like this



    Scroll down the page...

    Andrews Space To Work With USAF On Fast Program

  17. ``It's difficult to oppose Nancy Pelosi,'' Rep. Pete Stark, D-Calif., told constituents at a town meeting last weekend. ``She's a great leader and working wonders to get this passed, but some things I can't vote for.''

    Still, other members say they are undecided.

    ``I don't want to see this war go another day,'' said Rep. Jim McGovern, D-Mass., who wants to end the war immediately. ``For me, this is a decision I've got to make on my own.''

    Iraq Bill

  18. It's a trait he shares with his father. The first President Bush stuck by former Texas Sen. John Tower, his first choice for defense secretary, up until his rejection by the Senate on a 53-47 vote. The job went to Dick Cheney, now the vice president.

    As Gergen noted, the about-face on Rumsfeld has eroded Bush's credibility.

    "He may be totally sincere about Gonzales," he said, but "who can tell for sure?"

    Gonzales' Position

  19. I would suggest that we seriously question the current administrations approach to the Israel/Palestinian set of issues as a fulcrum toward adressing the region as a whole. Heck, Israel has agreed to entertain the Saudi peace initiative - that could be construed as a step forward, a loosening of a strand of the gordion knot...maybe

    There is no peace process. There is Hamas and Fatah and their electors - the 'Palestinian' people. All dedicated to the destruction of Israel. When Haniyeh says that Israel must give the Palestinians the West Bank and Jerusalem as a starting point for 'negotiations' he is declaring that there is no peace process. The pre-1967 borders of Israel are not defensible. Look at the map to get a sense of scale. The Palestinian Terror State wants nothing more than the elimination of the Jewish state.

    There is no peace process
    Rather than renounce violence, Hamas terror boss and PA Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh stated clearly on Saturday that his Hamas-Fatah government supports "all forms of resistance." Abbas lackey, legislator, Palestinian negotiator and corrupt Fatah businessman Nabil Shaath echoed this point on behalf of Fatah. Defending the terror government's support for terrorism, Shaath said, "The right to resist the occupation is a legitimate right… This should not stop us from seeking a hudna [temporary truce], particularly if it's in the interest of the Palestinians. Meanwhile, we won't give up our right to resist."

    Indeed, the government platform says that "resistance" can only be halted upon realization of the "right of return." As to peace, the unity deal between Fatah and Hamas gives no quarter to the peace-mongers. While the government's platform authorizes Abbas to negotiate with Israel, Haniyeh explained that any agreement recognizing a Palestinian state in Judea, Samaria and Gaza must not hinder the rights of the Palestinians to continue "liberating" the rest of Palestine, i.e., Israel.

  20. bob,
    not saying she is right or wrong about her points, I did not read them all, Ms Feinstien of CA
    talks about the Gonzo Episode Why Democrats are raising a stink
    Congressional investigations into the firing of U.S. attorneys are about checks and balances, not politics, says Sen. Dianne Feinstein.

  21. I read the same stuff as you, Bob. Attorneys being fired in the past. Has an AG ever been threatened with his job before? I don't know.

  22. Writing in the Guardian newspaper, Ischinger, a former ambassador to the US and ex-political director of Germany's foreign ministry, said a "European moment" was needed over the next several months, a period that coincides with Germany's presidency of both the EU and the G8 group of industrialized countries.

    "Through the invasion and occupation of Iraq, Washington's international legitimacy and credibility have suffered," he said. "It does not make for pleasant viewing to see US leadership damaged and questioned. But expectations are low today regarding the ability of the United States to lead the international community toward solutions of the most pressing international issues."

    He singled out the nuclear dispute with Iran, the challenges posed by global warming and the Middle East conflict as key policy areas where the US had been discredited and the EU can make a difference.

    US Foreign Policy

  23. In Kamaliyah district in Baghdad, a parked car bomb exploded near the industrial area wounding two civilians, police said.

    No further details of the incident were immediately available.

    Meanwhile a joint force comprised of US troops and Iraqi police was deployed in the Sadr City area of Baghdad, searching for illegal weapons as part of the implementation of the recently formed security plan.

    Security Plan

  24. without sounding redundant, my comment to your previous topic is also applicable to this new topic.

    and you're right!! it won't be a defeat but rather it will only be either a "setback" &/or a "disappointment". BUT, as of today, this war has already cost us, the american taxpayers, about $500 billion. owwwww & you just reminded me, i need to pay my taxes by the 15th of next month. sigh!

  25. Rufus: Anything they pass Bush is going to veto.

    And the Donks will promptly schedule a session to override the veto, and in 2008 various and sundry GOP Senators and Congressmen will face commercials that say, "In 2007, So-and-so voted to sustain Bush's veto limiting carbon, thus condemning thousands of baby polar bears to homelessness and the indignity of being bottle-fed in zoos."

  26. MUSCAT — A top Interpol official has called upon the international community to do more to deter bio-terrorism, stressing that the threat it posed is real, as Oman vowed to always remain vigilant against the menace despite the absence of any terrorist organisations or individuals in the country.

    "I have no doubt that the threat of bio-terrorism is real and that we need to do more to prepare countries," Interpol Secretary-general Ronald K. Noble said addressing the opening session of a regional workshop on the subject here on Monday.


    The speakers' panel includes renowned international experts in the field. Noble underlined the need for governments to enforce appropriate laws and provide the necessary funding for law enforcement as a first major step to confront bio-terrorist attacks.

    Deterring Bio-terrorism

  27. Bobalharb: Seems it might be somewhat unusual to fire a whole batch all at once in the middle of a term.

    The new Patriot Act has a provision whereby the Senate lays down their power of advise and consent in the case of these attorneys. Bush decided to flex a little of this new Executive branch power. Now they're trying to settle on a single cover story, and the discrepancies are pissing off Waxman.

  28. A suicide car bomber also drove his vehicle into an Iraq army checkpoint in a predominantly Sunni neighborhood in western Baghdad, killing one soldier and wounding another, police said.

    Late Monday, U.S. and Iraqi troops also engaged in a major operation as part of a security crackdown in the volatile Hurriyah neighborhood in northern Baghdad, state television said. Witnesses said many people were reported holed up in two Shiite mosques, surrounded by U.S. forces.

    The state–run Iraqiya network said six civilians had been killed. The U.S. military did not comment on the reports.

    Hurriyah Operation

  29. Nuts Fruits & Flakes of the Anti-War Rally
    If you missed the war protest at the Pentagon this weekend, I have provided a video montage below representative of the event. The crowd was sparse, the speakers laughable and the crowd most probably on drugs. This is really a hoot and well worth watching. For the sake of time, I didn’t include the Islamic groups, illegal alien groups or ex-foreign 3rd world country cabinet members who spoke. What is it with peaceniks and puppetistas?

  30. Mobile Machine Gun Flak Traps

    American pilots are attempting to avoid the attacks with a countertactic known as "running and diving." Also, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) and special operators on the ground have been successful spotting and calling in airstrikes on the "mobile flak traps."


  31. A former NFL player who joined the Marines and was motivated by college roommate Pat Tillman, who died in Iraq, was heading for the war himself Tuesday night.

    Lance Cpl. Jeremy Staat, a former defensive lineman for the Pittsburgh Steelers and St. Louis Rams who had been playing Arena Football, was one of 300 Marines in the 1st Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment being deployed from Kaneohe Bay. The unit is expected to be in Iraq for seven months.

    "The way I look at it, we're spreading freedom, and you have to support the troops and you have to support the war," Staat, 29, told KITV in Honolulu on Tuesday as he prepared to leave from Hawaii. "You can't just tell some Marine who just lost his buddy that we supported you but not the war, because in that case you're basically saying that Marine, his buddy, just died for nothing. We're one team."

    Deploying to Iraq

  32. Feinstein: FOS
    After firing all 93 attorney's (2 involved in active cases involving him) Clinton proceeded to fire
    30 More!

    Mercy Me!
    Democrats now find 8 much more abhorrent.

    Their outrage is SO believable!

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