“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, April 09, 2007

Afghanistan progress hindered by allies from hell, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia.

KABUL, Afghanistan- Roadside bombs in southern Afghanistan yesterday left seven NATO soldiers dead. NATO continues an anti-Taliban offensive in the opium-producing region of Afghanistan.

It appears to be the biggest combat loss for NATO troops in Afghanistan since 2005.

Six Canadian troops died and one was injured when one of the bombs struck their vehicle, the alliance said in a statement.

A separate roadside bomb killed one NATO soldier and wounded two, NATO said. Techniques learned in Iraq have come to Afghanistan.

The money for most of the Islamic terror and support for the taliban, fomented in the mosques and madrasas, comes from Saudi Arabia and European heroin users. Much of the heroin passes through Albanian gangs throughout Europe.

Many of the madrassas are nothing more than terrorist indoctrination centers.

This report from Daily India discusses one of the current problems being faced in Pakistan. The affect of Saudi money and the asylum provided by Pakistan to the taliban is discussed in an article written last summer but even more relevant today.

Lal Masjid imam warns Government of suicide attacks

From our ANI Correspondent Daily India

Islamabad, Apr.7: Islamic fanaticism has taken on a new hue in Pakistan capital Islamabad, with Maulana Abdul Aziz, the prayer leader at Lal Masjid and principal of the Jamia Hafsa madrassa, warning the federal Government of student suicide attacks if attempts are made to block the enforcement of the Sharia in madrassas.

Addressing a 5,000-strong gathering at Lal Masjid on Friday, Aziz set the government a month's deadline to close brothels and gambling dens and the sale and purchase of liquor in Islamabad. He also said the government must remove all hoardings with "obscene" images and immediately stop the propaganda campaign against madrassa students and administration.

Aziz was quoted by the Daily Times as saying that if the government planned action against the madrassas, then as a "last option", the madrassa students would resort to suicide attacks.

"We have decided to enforce the Sharia in these circumstances by challenging the writ of those who have challenged the writ of Allah," Aziz said.

Aziz urged religious scholars and clerics to respect the sentiments of the madrassa students and encourage them in their efforts for enforcement of Sharia.

He appealed to all Muslims to give financial help to the madrassa students' movement.

Meanwhile, State Minister for Information Tariq Azeem has denounced Aziz's threat and urged him not to force the government to take stern action.


Afghanistan: America's options

Subhash Kapila | August 18, 2006 | Rediff India Abroad

The United States has been finally forced to recognize that its laudable political and strategic objective of building Afghanistan into a moderate, democratic Muslim state is seriously endangered by Pakistan, its Major Non-NATO ally in the region.
This was very much in evidence when US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice was forced to make a long detour in the last week of June, en route to the G-8 Foreign Ministers meeting in Moscow. She spent a day each in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

The President of Afghanistan, American military commanders and the NATO Force Commanders in Afghanistan have all agreed that the resurgence of the Taliban, the incidents of terrorism in Kabul and the violence in South and East Afghanistan all originate from Pakistan. These Pakistan-based insurgents are targeting US and British soldiers and the fledgeling Afghan National Army.

The big question is: why this selective targeting of these forces? The answer is that all of them are engaged in the security of Afghanistan's reconstruction and its emergence as a model democratic state with moderate Muslim credentials.

The next big question is, who is interested in preventing Afghanistan's emergence as a model democratic state in the Muslim world? The answer is obvious.

But while Condoleezza Rice made all the correct noises in Pakistan and Afghanistan, the major impression that one gets is that the US Administration continues to be in a "state of denial" over Pakistan's continued involvement in the de-stabilisation of Afghanistan through its proxy organisation, the Taliban.

Years ago, I had predicted that Afghanistan was of greater strategic importance to United States national security interests than Iraq, and suggested that the US should desist from military intervention in Iraq till it stabilizes Afghanistan. This holds more true today.

The United States at no cost should give up or abandon Afghanistan. It is far too important for US strategy in relation to the Gulf Region, the Central Asia region and its "Grand Strategy" on China.

The present ground realities in Afghanistan endanger US end-objectives, and it is high time Washington wakes up to this fact.

However much the US Administration protests that Pakistan's military dictator is a "moderate force" in the Muslim world and that Pakistan is a "staunch ally" of the US in the global war on terrorism, Pakistan's record in terms of the continuing turbulence in Afghanistan is condemnable. Pakistan is guilty of endangering US national security interests in Afghanistan.

The US military intervention in Afghanistan in 2001 did not end Pakistan's involvement with the Al-Qaeda and the Taliban. Pakistan ever since has been involved in the resuscitation of the Taliban in Afghanistan to revive its strategic aims and hold on Afghanistan.

As a consequence, and despite American pressures, Osama bin Laden, Mullah Omar, and the Al Qaeda and the Taliban hierarchy flourish in Pakistani sanctuaries. From these Pakistani sanctuaries, they continue to generate terrorism, insurgency and violence in Afghanistan so as to coerce the United States and NATO forces to exit Afghanistan.

The Pakistan-Afghan border, despite Pakistani claims of deploying 70,000 troops to seal it, facilitates easy ingress and exit of Taliban cadres engaged in operations in Afghanistan. This arises due to complicity of Pakistan Army and its intelligence agencies.

It is no strange coincidence that the regions in Afghanistan which abound in insurgency and terrorism are the ones which border Pakistan directly.

Is it not strange that the US Administration should be giving clean chits to Pakistan and its military dictator, when the ground realities indicate otherwise? And this is not a new phenomenon; it has been in the making ever since US displaced the Pakistan-protge regime of the Taliban in Afghanistan.

In July 2005, The Washington Post stated that 'In all, the danger is growing that Afghanistan could begin to look like Iraq, with an entrenched insurgency that severely disrupts (US) reconstruction and becomes a magnet for Islamic extremists.'

The situation today is far worse, and calls for decisive action to stem the destabilisation of Afghanistan. The turbulent situation in Afghanistan today arises from the original sins in US policies on Afghanistan. The main mistake was in assuming that Pakistan would be a dependable ally in the implementation of its Afghanistan policies.

At the height of military operation in Afghanistan the United States facilitated the air evacuation of over 12,000 Pakistani Army, ISI and Taliban cadres from Konduz in Northern Afghanistan. Safe air corridors were provided by the US Air Force. This was done to shore up General Musharraf's position in Pakistan.

Subsequent reports now indicate that but for a couple of thousands of Pakistan Army regulars, the remaining thousands evacuated from Konduz were hardcore Taliban cadres who are now re-operating in Afghanistan under Pakistani directons. If this was not enough, the US continued to falter in its misplaced trust of the Pakistani military dictator.

Osama Bin Laden and Mullah Omar along with their hierarchies were facilitated by the Pakistan Army to withdraw into safe sanctuaries in Pakistan following the Torah Bora operations offensive by US forces. The United States military strategy thereafter was to deploy NATO forces for reconstruction in Northern Afghanistan.

The correct military decision by US would have been to deploy all NATO Forces in Afghan provinces bordering Pakistan to prevent the resurgence of the Taliban. The Northern Provinces of Afghanistan were not a Pakistani preserve and did not require NATO Forces.

It was the Southern and Eastern provinces of Afghanistan which bordered Pakistan, which were the Pakistani preserve. The major deployment of NATO Forces initially should have gone into these provinces.

Even after recognizing Pakistan's perfidy, no major pacification military measures were taken in these provinces. Only in a belated recognition of the above reality, NATO Forces have now been moved to these Afghan provinces, with appreciable military results against the Taliban.

Analytically, the three major deductions that emerge from the analysis above are as follows:

The misplaced US notion that Pakistan is an asset in the prosecution of its national security interests in Afghanistan needs to be dispelled forthwith.

The US must coerce/presurrise Pakistan into severing Taliban's ingress into Afghanistan and dismantling its support structure in Pakistan. Within the US Administration, if not publicly, in-house directives must be initiated that United States national security objectives in Afghanistan override and supersede its interests in Pakistan.

Afghanistan's President Karzai has already publicly declared that the roots of insurgency and terrorism in Afghanistan lie outside it, and that the United States needs to ensure that these are cut. The United States has to ensure that it strikes at these roots in Pakistan. If Pakistan is unable to do so, or expresses helplessness to do so, then the United States should reserve the right to do it unilaterally.

Only if the US follows these options can it live up to Condoleezza Rice's asertion during her visit to Kabul on June 28 that Washington has a strong and enduring commitment to Afghanistan. That the US is committed to fight against the Taliban and other violent extremists threatening the country "until it is victoriously concluded."

"We will not repeat the mistake of leaving Afghanistan once again and of not sustaining out commitment to our relationship," she said.

These are noble words and laudable objectives of the United States, but the fly in the American ointment is Pakistan.

If US national security interests in Afghanistan are to be secured, then the evil spell cast by Pakistan has to be removed.

(Dr Subhash Kapila is an international relations and strategic affairs analyst, and a consultant, Strategic Affairs, with the South Asia Analysis Group. He can be contacted at


  1. Peace in Waziristan

    The Pakistani government is gladly providing the aid and political cover to promote the fiction that 'peace deals' like the Waziristan Accord are working. In doing so, they are backing the Taliban, which is in league with Al Qaeda.

    While there is value in the infighting between the Taliban tribes and the Uzbeks - the fighting will weaken the organizations in the short term - the reality is the long term impact from the Taliban and al Qaeda's perspective is insignificant. This fighting is the equivalent of an internal mafia war - in the end a family rises to the top and the criminal enterprise continues.

    The real danger is that this fighting will be viewed as proof future Waziristan Accords are sustainable, and remove Western pressure on the Musharraf regime not to make these deals. More 'peace agreements' will then be cut and will provide the Taliban and al Qaeda with more safe havens to train, arm and operate, and allow them to establish a firmer foothold in the nuclear armed Pakistani state.

  2. As Trish says, we're neck deep in Allies.
    Master Poker Player Indeed.

  3. Deuce said,
    The US intervened in the unwinding of Yugoslavia to the benefit of an external Muslim country, Albania, that is home to some of the worst criminal elements in Europe. Most of the heroin in Europe passes through Albanian hands.

    The Albanians in Kosovo have almost completed their ethnic cleansing of Christians from Kosovo. The Serbs in Kosovo will have to leave their country because of Nato enforced democracy. Two million Iraqis have left Iraq because of the US plan to make Iraq a democracy.

    Much of the disruption in the Middle East has followed the Russian occupation and their defeat in Afghanistan. Look at photos of Kabul Afghanistan in the seventies and it was a more secular state than today. The same is true in Iraq and now Albania. Who armed and encouraged the revolutionaries in Afghanistan and emboldened them to defeat an infidel nation? The US did that. We thought it was a wonderful thing that deeply religious Muslims were killing secular Russians.

    Who and what group made their bones in Afghanistan because of that?

    AQ and the Saudi clerics along with the Islamists in Pakistan.

    Who went on to practice their trade in support of the Muslim communities in Yugoslavia? Who came out of that 2-0?

    AQ and the Saudi clerics along with the Islamists in Pakistan.

    Now, how can anyone argue that to date, that Iran has not benefited from our Iraq adventure?

    Saddam cursed the Persians as he was being hanged. He knew.

  4. Don't remember if I posted this before, but I think it's worthy of us making the brilliant Polymath Von Neumann a member, emeritus, of the EB.
    "Von Neumann was married twice.
    He married Mariette Kövesi in 1930.
    When he proposed to her, he was incapable of expressing anything beyond
    "You and I might be able to have some fun together, seeing as how we both like to drink."

  5. Nothing to offer but the counting of the missives of others, to then complain of them.

    So there you go. Some love quotas and rationing of free services, to make things "fair".

    As if the use of free services, provided by google, should be limited for some reason.

    Make it easier to read, as if that were the pursuit.

    You, doug, used up to many opportunities for others, by posting so many time you scare others away.
    Read that once at Belmont, now over there, on the subject of al-Sadr, there are maybe 30 posts over 3 days. Average ten a day, now, that's no hobby for me.

    Nor a business for W, for long.

    Some folk do not participate often, then complain that others do participate, "to much".
    Tea totallers and drink counters, have no place in a man's Bar, let alone an Elephants'

    Like it, love it or leave it.

  6. I was thinking that was the EB Motto as I logged in!
    ...sayin Deuce and Whit aren't gonna buy that one, no matter how big an A-hole I might be.

  7. I remember Mouse counting over at BC.
    He had a lot more reason to, as it was W's wish, and I was being a jerk.
    ...but there must be some happy medium, I think it must be the Elephant Bar.

  8. Now, if one wants the company of readers, go to Belmont. The Clubs' numbers are down on posters and readers,looking at a three year view. While here at the Bar, the line is perking UP.

    Not much, but since this is a recreational effort and not a commercial one, so what?

    in the "compare sites" box, check out the "redline" for the EB.

    Reach, traffic rank, page views.
    Check 'em all. The Club is trending down, the Bar makin' headway towards parity.

    Take your pick, I did.
    Have fun, learn something, or don't.

    Couldn't really care, just woke up and do not need to watch TV, and the market's not open.

  9. Got that from Martin Short on Dennis Miller archive:
    Short and Miller are best friends, it was a great half hour of radio, as was Dana Carvey.
    Isn't that Special?

  10. They said Lily is always a peach to work with.
    Unless you happen to be a real asshole, as that dude obviously is.

  11. BDS- Bush Defender Syndrome

    Guess willie is just a habu fan, when neither is around.

    He did appreciate Tom Dowd, though.
    Mr Dowd worked with a favorite artist of mine, Jerry Jeff Walker the Gypsy Songman. Wrote Mr Bojangles, he did. Claimed to be from Texas, but the guy was a New Yorker, expatriated to Texas, back in the day. Hung with Buffett, co-wrote "Railway Lady" with him.

    Any way, when Mr Dowd is going down his list of "Giants" he worked with, in "Southern Rock" Jerry Jeff was mentioned. Which I didn't know, made the show all the better, my appreciation of Tom Dowd all the greater, as well.

  12. Damn:
    Wanted to see a Pueblo post
    here's the registration form:

  13. I just learned Merle Haggard is still alive:
    Who was the Bakersfield legend that died a couple of years ago?
    ...I remember posting a bunch on him.

  14. Hey, according to DR's link, we're ranked at 182,883.

    Yeah baby!
    We're number ONE!!!!
    Go Elephant!

  15. Any expert youtube searchers out there?
    Miller said there was a great one of Bucher et al on the Pueblo, most all flipping the bird.

    This Obviously ain't it.

  16. Rally Marks Anniversary of Baghdad's Fall

    Filed at 6:23 a.m. ET

    BAGHDAD (AP) -- Tens of thousands marched through the streets of two Shiite holy cities Monday to mark the fourth anniversary of Baghdad's fall.

    The rally was called for by powerful Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, who commands an enormous following among Iraq's majority Shiites and has close allies in the Shiite-dominated government.

    A day earlier, the renegade cleric issued a statement ordering his militiamen to redouble their battle to oust American forces and argued that Iraq's army and police should join him in defeating ''your archenemy.''

  17. Have to give this one to Karridine, Scary Place

    Changwang Street, where our hotel was located. Known as Restaurant Street, this area takes the Communist idea of propaganda department stores (full of old items nobody can buy) to another dimension with its propaganda restaurants. There were around 10 restaurants, all brightly illuminated (though curiously lacking in patrons) until around 10pm when they closed; apparently the restaurants have no menus, only serving what they can get their hands on (though since their purpose is predominantly to show Pyongyang citizens how affluent the DPRK is, as opposed to the enjoyment of cuisine, it’s probably not such a big problem.)

  18. Navy Cmdr. Lloyd "Pete" Bucher
    During their captivity, crew members said, they were beaten with pieces of lumber, burned on radiators and had their teeth kicked out by North Korean soldiers.

    "The man was a giant," Russell said from his home in Eureka, California. "Being the focal point between the Koreans and the crew, he took the brunt of everything. No matter who did what, he was always punished. I simply don't know where he got the strength and courage to go through what he did."

    After 11 months, the crew was released two days before Christmas, some of them crippled or nearly blind because of malnourishment. The ship remained behind in North Korea, where it became a tourist attraction.

  19. Including Allies from Hell, Bob Scales is reporting this!

    Whit, I finally got around to answering your "Begging" question on the other entry. Sorry about the lateness of my response.

  20. Yeah, Tiger, but at least W isn't spending a bunch of money replacing that stuff:
    Gotta spend it on welfare for illegals ya know.
    First things first.
    First Class Jerk.

  21. tiger,

    Thanks for the link.

    General Scales has captured the problem succinctly, as have scores of others since Eisenhower warned the country away from the "military/industrial complex."

    He will not be heeded. As this is written, the Army is busy convincing the Congress to spend hundreds of billions on the same old thing, with plenty of flavorful constituent pork to go around. The Air Force is even worse, seeking single platforms that dwarf the requirements of entire Army brigades. Only the Navy seems serious about transformation, and they are cash starved.

    There are those who boast of the F-22, and it is impressive as Hell. To them I say, according to the Air Force itself, one B-2 can perform the tasks of 75 other craft during a single mission. While not as versatile, the B-52 is also a genuine warhorse/workhorse. Unfortunately, to fund the F-22 and F-35 projects, the country's most vital lift capabilities are being sacrificed.

  22. This comment has been removed by the author.

  23. Those fine fighter aircraft turned into inadequate "ground support" platforms, because if those bombs are not tucked into the airframe, the aQ radar arrays will see them.

    Oh, wait, aQ has no radar.

    The Soviets have nothing, there being no Soviets. The Russians cannot maintain its' current fleet of warplanes, let alone expand it with new technologies.

    The Chinese get by on stolen US technology and what they buy from the Israelis.

    Not enough boots, not enough trucks, not enough light armored vehicles.
    But there are A-10s parked in mothballs, right outside of Tucson.
    Whole flock of 'em.
    Near where the B-52s were that got chopped to pieces, when "History Ended".

  24. I think it may be time to think about reintegrating the air force into the navy and the army. Leave strategiic missiles and space to the air force.

  25. Bill Roggio gives his perspective on Mr al-Sadr and his "Call to Arms"

    Operation Black Eagle, the security operation against Muqtada al Sadr's Mahdi Army in the central Shia city of Diwaniyah, has entered its fourth day. The last news from the city indicates 39 fighters have been captured and "several" killed. Two known insurgent leaders have also been captured during the operation.

    The Diwaniyah operations demonstrates how the Baghdad Security Plan is now expanding beyond Baghdad and even the Baghdad belts. Diwaniyah is about 90 miles southeast of Baghdad. While the city is much more distant than other cities and regions where the Coalition is focusing operations, such as Baqubah and the Diyala River Valley, it still has a strategic importance.

    Preparations for the Diwaniyah operation could be seen in the central and southern regions of Baghdad. Omar at Iraq the Model reported an unusual influx of armored vehicles in Rusafa, just south of Sadr City on April 5. It appears U.S. and Iraqi forces positioned armor to both block reinforcements from Sadr City as and act as a quick reaction force support operations in Diwaniyah if the need arose.

    Diwaniyah is the city where large segments of Sadr's Mahdi Army fled to after the commencement of the Baghdad Security Plan, a U.S. intelligence official told us. With the split in Sadr's Mahdi Army, and a large segment looking to reconcile with the Iraqi government, the extremist elements of the militia have hunkered down in Diwaniyah. Security in Diwaniyah is said to have been deteriorating since the Mahdi Army concentrated power in the city. The Iraqi government and Coalition is pursuing the Mahdi Army holdovers remaining in Diwaniyah.

    Sadr's plea for Iraqi forces to break for the Coalition and halt the fighting shows he is concerned his forces in Diwaniyah are facing a very real threat.

  26. tiger,


    "An assessment published by the USAF showed that two B-2s armed with precision weaponry can do the job of 75 conventional aircraft."



  27. And if two get shot down, you lose a fighter wing.

  28. Norkor
    our world, our village...
    Location: Paris 心在臺灣國
    north korea is a so mysterious country for foreigners...the capital looks clean and enough well developped, but there is nearly nobody in the street ...a strange impression.
    On this Earth, we all are brothers and sisters, especially because of our differences.

  29. "Unfortunately, to fund the F-22 and F-35 projects, the country's most vital lift capabilities are being sacrificed. "
    Ain't that the truth.
    What's going on w/Tankers?

  30. "And if two get shot down, you lose a fighter wing. "
    But, it will only take a Decade, or two, to replace.

  31. Where is the threat, that the new fighters will be facing?

    Who constitutes it, what are their capabilities?

    In air combat, in the last 20 years, how many US airframes have been lost to what were Soviet airframe technologies?

    Not many, 1?

    We did lose that F-117 to ground fire in Bosnia, that wouldn't count towards the total, though.

    How far back do we go to find US airframes losing? Vietnam?
    To Soviet planes or ground fire, mostly?

    The F-22 to replace an A-10, flyin' through heavy ground fire, what General will risk tasking that mission, with an F-22?

  32. I find myself drawn to stand upon my soap box with this thread, oh dear!

    MG(R) Scales makes some valid points in his Op Ed piece; however, it is important to remember that the Army itself did not have the foresight in the past two decades to make a major investment in systems/equipment/training that it would need for the world it found itself in. Hence it was only after large formations found themselves on the battlefields of OEF/OIF that fielding body armor across the force became a priority, and things like, say, the Comanche helicopter fell off the plate.

    Likewise, billions continued to be sunk into cold war white elephants like the comanche, and the great crusader self propelled artillery piece (optimal in the Fulda gap, perhaps), and little to emphasis was placed upon things like the aforementioned body armor, light skinned armor vehicles, and the like.

    How many four star generals spoke against the Comanche and Crusader, and stated the Army would be better served to field armored HMMVs, universally-issued body armor, long range optics for individual rifles, and the like?

    Not very many that I know of.

    Politicians on the left and right may bear much of the blame for the state the Army found itself in on the eve of and during the conduct of OIF; the Army's leadership is far from blameless on this issue, however.

  33. B-52, Where Are You?
    Why the Pentagon doesn't want you to know its bombers finally work.

    An perspective

  34. " Yesterday, Sadr issued an official statement, "which was distributed in the holy Shi'ite city of Najaf and stamped with Sadr's seal." The Statement called for Iraqi Security Forces to end the fighting against the Mahdi Army. Reuters excerpts portions of Sadr's letter:

    "And here we can see in ... (Diwaniyah), a civil strife the occupier planned, to drag the brothers into clashing, fighting and even killing... Oh (Mahdi Army) and my brothers (Iraqi forces) enough of this clashing and killing. This is success for your enemy ... and (Iraqi army and police) don't be dragged behind the enemy... God has ordered you to be patient in front of the enemy and to unify your efforts against it, not against the sons of Iraq.

  35. I read that the other day, 'Rat:
    We coulda, shoulda, made a bomber and tanker out of the 767, but the siren song of those desparately needed fighters called.
    Fun to fly, I'll bet.
    Not to mention frivolities paid for by the contractors.

  36. 767 Probly takes 1/3 or less the fuel of a B-52, plus it's NEW!

  37. Deuce,

    I rib my wife occasionally, observing that the Air Force needs the adult supervision of the Army. What the Army would do with all the inherited prima donnas would be a challenge.

    During the past year, the Air Force has basically "refused" to participate with the Army and Navy in finding ways to reduce cost and redundancy through joint service agreements. Joint medical operations come immediately to mind, by way of example. Just two weeks ago, the Air Force was balking at following the BRAC.

    Heads should roll, but I'm not holding my breath.

  38. We know some AF folks involved w/some political shit worthy of NASA disaster coverups.
    (not really THAT bad!)

  39. Until recently, UAV research was done separately from regular Air Force wing commands. That has now changed. Some researchers believe the antipathy of the pilot mafia will stall and even halt some promising research and development.

    If left unfettered by politics, American UAVs would dominate the skys within a decade, or two at the most. Oh, and they are, relatively, dirt cheap.

  40. Tiger (Observanda) has linked to a piece by Oliver North. It is worth reading.

    The Price of Appeasement

    North’s call for a “Manhattan Project” for energy independence should have almost universal appeal here.

  41. We have the technology, rufus touts it daily.
    20 Billion is 5% of the investment needed to build it out, to jump start the process it'd be enough to begin, though.

    The total offered in the Senate's War Funding Bill, $122 Billion USD, now that kind of a committment would prove a sea change in US sustainability and survivability.

    Not a Skull & Boner priority. In fact, by creating less global interdependence, we expect the proposal to gain little traction amongst the ruling elite.

  42. “One phrase that has stuck with me and rings true is the simplest I’ve heard: ‘If they lay down their weapons there will be peace. But if we lay down our weapons there will be a holocaust.’”

    A Word From Sergeant Brooks


  43. Two interesting pieces at RCP, this morning.

    One authored by Henry R. Nau who is professor of political science and international affairs, Elliott School of International Affairs, the George Washington University. He served in the State Department under President Ford (1975–77) and the White House under President Reagan (1981–83).
    " ... But what if we disagree not because leaders are wicked and lie but because they, like we, see the world differently and assemble and emphasize different facts that lead to different conclusions? Saddam Hussein evaded un inspectors. That’s a fact. But was he hiding something like weapons of mass destruction (wmd)? Or was he behaving as might any leader of a country that comes under external threat? Answers to those questions are interpretations. Some looked at Iraq’s glass and saw it was half full of wmd; others concluded that it was half empty.
    ...We approach the world with labels and models that direct us toward a particular slice of reality. We can’t see it all, so we use our learning, experience, and judgment to select a direction, to look for certain facts that are important to us in terms of how we believe the world works. Surveying the material for his biography of Abraham Lincoln, Carl Sandburg wrote that “anyone dealing with the vast actual evidence cannot use the whole of it . . . therefore . . . he . . . picks what is plain, moving, and important.”2 We have to neglect some facts not because we are ignorant or ideological but precisely because we can know something only if we exclude something else. If we knew everything, we’d know nothing until we knew what was important to us — and what’s important to us is a matter of personal perspective and judgment. Thus, we emphasize certain facts, and our opponents often emphasize other facts, perhaps the very ones we deemphasize. We reach different conclusions not because we dissemble and lie but because we see the world differently and judge different facts to be more important.

    Then Mr Dennis Ross has a piece about the Middle East and Ms Rice:
    Assessments are crucial for effective statecraft. Administrations must be governed by reality-based assessments, not faith-based assessments. They must see the world as it is and shape objectives and means--ours and the others we can mobilize to support us--accordingly. That's not to say that governments should cast aside ambitious objectives; it just means they have to see things clearly to understand how to change them.

    The Israeli-Palestinian struggle is another case where a confused assessment is hindering statecraft. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's efforts to make peace are important, especially after the administration has sat on the sidelines for six years. But she has not been driven by a clear understanding of the situation--the necessary starting point for defining objectives, developing means, and selling the goals in a way that others are likely to accept.

    Here's where her assessment goes wrong: Rice says a strategic realignment in the region creates an opportunity for peace-making. She sees the Saudis, Egyptians, Jordanians, Palestinians, and other "moderate" Arabs sharing with Israel a common fear of Iran. For her, this means that the Saudis have incentive enough--their desire to prevent Iranians from demagoguing the Israeli-Palestinian conflict--to nudge the parties toward peace. For the Israelis, recognizing the Iranian threat (and new Arab attitudes) will mean a new desire to compromise.

    This assessment isn't entirely wrong. There is a shared fear of Iran, and that does create an opening. At this stage, however, it's just an opening. And, while the Saudis and Israelis may both see Iran as a threat, they have different ideas about how to deal with it. By brokering an agreement between Fatah and Hamas, the Saudis made it clear that intra-Palestinian peace trumps Israeli-Palestinian peace, even if that means accommodating Hamas. Indeed, for the Saudis, trying to wean Hamas away from Iran may be an important end in itself. But, for Israel, there can be no accommodating Hamas which continues to reject Israel's right to exist and remains fervently committed to the "right of resistance." (So much so that, notwithstanding the national unity government, Hamas called on March 25 for prosecuting an adviser to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas who publicly advocated security coordination with Israel.)

    Rice's assessment errs again on what Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Abbas have the political strength (or the inclination) to accomplish. At this time, neither man is ready to embrace concessions on existential issues (like Jerusalem and refugees) that are preconditions to the "political horizon" she envisions. While it's true that Arab leaders could theoretically assume the political and psychological burden of those compromises by financing them--thereby giving Abbas political cover and Olmert a moment of opportunity--there is nothing to indicate they're ready to do so.

    Perceptions and perspectives.
    Scenes that we've all seen before.

  44. Title:
    Release Date:
    Release Number:
    Coalition Forces captured a senior al-Qaeda leader and two others during raid Sunday morning in Baghdad.
    Coalition Forces identified the man as the gatekeeper to the al-Qaeda emir of Baghdad. He has alleged ties to several senior al-Qaeda members and is reportedly linked to a number of mass casualty vehicle-borne improvised explosive device attacks in the Baghdad area.
    He was detained along with another known al-Qaeda VBIED cell leader and one other suspect.
    "This is a significant step in our efforts to disrupt the VBIED network and their devastating attacks against the Iraqi people," said Lt. Col. Christopher Garver, MNF-I spokesperson.

  45. Title:
    Release Date:
    Release Number:
    DIWANIYAH, Iraq - Soldiers from the Iraqi Army and Coalition forces entered their third day of fighting against illegally-armed militia in Diwaniyah in order to secure the city and provide stability to the region.
    During the second day of Operation Black Eagle, clashes between the Iraqi Army and militia members continued.
    "So far, we have achieved great success fighting the terrorists," said Maj. Gen. Oothman Faroud, commander of the 8th Iraqi Army Division, which is leading the assault. "We have freed the people of Diwaniyah from the murder and intimidation that has plagued the city 24 hours a day, seven days a week for months."
    The 8th IA Div. and their Coalition counterparts from Multi-National Division-Center South and Multi-National Division-Baghdad have uncovered many large caches of weapons including several explosively formed projectiles and improvised explosive device making factories. They have also uncovered caches of EFPs and IEDs along with homemade explosives
    and other bomb-making material across the city.
    The operation has netted 39 militia members, and killed several more during sporadic fire fights. Two wanted terrorists were captured on the first day of Operation Black Eagle. Both of these detainees have taken part in attacks against Iraqi Security Forces, Coalition troops and innocent civilian targets.

  46. CENTCOM doesn't say it but AP does:

    The militiamen we are fighting in Diwaniyah are members of the Mahdi Army.

  47. That is what Bill Roggio reported, as well, whit.

    Roggio's report on enemy casualties indicated that it's not much of a fight:
    "... The last news from the city indicates 39 fighters have been captured and "several" killed. ..."

  48. Roggio's getting some of his stuff straight out of CENTCOM press releases.

  49. The Phoenix PD took down over forty irregulars in a single Raid, just yesterday.

    PHOENIX -- A group of roughly 40 illegal immigrants found in a Valley house on Sunday afternoon will soon be deported back to Mexico, police said.

    Police discovered the suspected drop house near 83rd Avenue and Thomas while on a separate emergency call.

    Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents and police led about 40 men, women and children out the front door of the home.

    Police describe the conditions inside as barren, with just bottles of water and bags of potato chips.

    One neighbor, Kumari Gummadi, said she cannot believe something like that would happen so close to her home.

    "I was just completely shocked," Gummadi said. "It was vacant for less than a week, and the next thing we know, this."

    Drop houses in the Valley seem to have been popping up more and more recently.

    On Thursday, another suspected drop house was discovered after reports of gunshots. More than 50 illegal immigrants were sent running from the home near 91st Avenue and Thomas.

    How long will those 39 detainees be held in Iraq?

  50. Des Browne, the Defence Secretary, has tonight announced a ban on military personnel selling their stories to the media.

    In a statement, Mr Browne admitted that the decision to allow former Iranian hostages to sell their stories has not resulted in a "satisfactory outcome".

    As criticism of the selling of stories by the sailors and marines grew throughout the day, it was revealed that Mr Browne had been personally aware of the Navy's decision to "get the story out".