“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

What A Long Strange Trip It's Been

Today, Muqtada al-Sadr, from his haven in Iran, has put tens of thousands of people into the streets of southern Iraq. Marking the fall of Baghdad, four years ago, he has called for a renewed resistance to the "occupation."

We are reminded of four years ago today, April 9, 2007, when we watched as the first troops rolled into Baghdad. After a dash across the middle eastern desert, US troops met virtually no resistance as they rolled into Iraq's capital city. We were elated but the "Arab Street" was bitterly disappointed with the news that Saddam's army had disappeared into the night. The United States had braced itself and the Arab street had put it's hope in casualty rates of 30 to 40 thousand US dead, but twenty days into the invasion, Baghdad was taken with "miraculously light" casualties.

Possibly the worst outrage in the previous month had been committed by a US sergeant, a muslim convert, who had rolled grenades into the tent of his commanding officer as his battalion was camped in Kuwait.

Surprisingly, no gas or other chemical weapons had been used against the advancing Allied troops. Some haz-mat suits had been discovered by advancing Marines but none of the dreaded chemical or biological attacks had occurred. Those came almost four years later in the form of crude chlorine bombs directed against crowded streets of civilians. We learned after the invasion, that our "intelligence" concerning Saddam's WMD capabilities had been anything but "intelligent."

Little did we know back in April 9, 2003 what was in store for us in the next four years. Along the way, we forgot about the "Arab street" as we tried to democratize the Muslim world. Today is a reminder that lessons learned should be lessons remembered.

We learned a lot of things - the hard way. What have you learned? About your country? About the the Iraqi people? About Islam? About yourself?

What a long strange trip it's been.


  1. Actually, Bobal, it's been the same old humdrum for me!
    Are you going to stick around so we can argue about it? ;-)
    RWE is going to have a book out sometime.

  2. Wesley Pruden has a way with words, talking about strange trips.

    “By the time she got to Saudi Arabia, where a good woman is worth almost as much as a sheep or a goat, her hosts were close to rapture.”

    Nancy's epiphany on the Damascus road


  3. It has been a strange trip. From the US's continued round trips to the UN for sanctions, input, and whatever else you get there, maybe a T-shirt to the "Slam Dunk" statement of the DCI.
    The concurring intelligence opinions by the Brits,French Russians,Germans,Dutch, The Bayside Elementary School Crossing Guards, all saying the same thing...Saddam had THEM. Well he snookered us big time. In fact it looks like he snookered his own general staff.
    Now the can is getting kicked down the road.

    and here was the solution the entire time...

    Whoa Solution

  4. Bush Renews Effort on Immigration Plan

    President Bush traveled to Arizona today to try to build momentum for an immigration bill.
    Times Topics: Immigration and Refugees

  5. It seemed like the worst of the propaganda about the British hostages was over. The hostages took some of the sting out of it by saying that Iran forced the confessions out of them, and sliced & diced the tapes.

    But then the British government destroyed everything by letting the hostages sell their stories to the media! The results were so terrible that the government reversed course within 24 hours, after the first few interviews, and banned them.

    This gave a big propaganda win to Iran, showing some of the hostages (and the West) were weak. There is no excuse possible because these words were said to British reporters, once the hostages were safely home.

    They really come across not as cowards, but as sheeple, human animals who just live to eat and breed, and have no concept of honor. One of them says the confessions she signed made her feel "like a traitor to my own country", but she decided to sign so that she would be home in time for her daughter's eight birthday.

    Another cried himself to sleep at night because a guard flicked the back of his neck with his thumb and called him "Mr. Bean".

    The quotes below are combined from a couple of articles:

    Leading Seaman Faye Turney has told how she "felt like a traitor" when she was forced to write "confession" letters shown on Iranian television.

    (In one letter, she criticises the Bush and Blair governments for intervening in Iraq.

    "When they wanted me to write what was written about the British and American troops I felt like a traitor to my own country," she says.)

    On the fifth day two different interrogators offered her the chance to “confess” to being in Iranian waters in return for being home within two weeks. Otherwise she would be put on trial for espionage. She said: “It was a horrible dilemma. If I did it I feared everyone in Britain would hate me. But I knew it was my one chance of fulfilling a promise to Molly \ that I’d be home for her birthday on May 8.” She later wrote two letters.

    She also described how at times during her two-week ordeal, she cried herself to sleep.

    Meanwhile Arthur Batchelor, 20, the youngest of the British sailors to be held captive, told the Daily Mirror about his "nightmare" at the hands of his captors and how he "cried like a baby" in his cell.

    He told the newspaper: "A guard kept flicking my neck with his index finger and thumb. I thought the worst, we've all seen the videos. I was frozen in terror and just stared into the darkness of my blindfold."

    (Arthur Batchelor, 20, the youngest captive, told The Mirror the Iranians had tried to persuade him that he was responsible for what was happening because he was the boat’s navigator. “It was beyond terrifying. They seemed to take particular pleasure in mocking me for being young.” He said they had called him Mr Bean in an attempt to make him “feel like a fool, hoping that I would give away secrets to prove that I wasn’t”. )

  6. Wu:

    That is pathetic to read and it certainly has propaganda value. You would definitely read it to young men at a religious retreat in Waziristan.

  7. Could straight faced gibberish like that reported by the Rottweiler be the reason for the British government forbidding media interviews by British “troops”?

    “I missed Topsy most of all. I really love her, as a mum and a big sister…”

    “They led me down a corridor and into a room, where I saw Topsy in a corner.

    “I can’t describe how that felt…just every emotion rolled into one. I ran up to her, threw my arms round her and cried like a baby.

    “When I’d calmed down, she asked, ‘Do you need another hug, a mother hug?’ and I said, ‘damn right’”.

    Iranians Stole My iPod!

    This is a joke? Right?

  8. They Call Him Mellow Yellow

    Donovan, he's a Brit, through and through, I guess he knew.

  9. > definitely read it to young men at a religious retreat in Waziristan.

    That I think is the saddest thing about this. Lots of other Western people will be tested and maybe killed because of the weakness shown here.

    If the US government released hostage(s) as part of a deal, as it seems almost certain they did, that is even more reward and incentive for the terrorists to grab more hostages.

    The first thing President Reagan did when he took over was make a rule that we don't negotiate for hostages. Now it seems that we are going backwards, to Jimmy Carter and the Iranian Hostage crisis.

  10. The Victoria’s Secret Cross will be awarded according to Her Royal Majesty’s press secretary, Sir Harry Bathinggate-Riggs.

    For another harrumph, see:

    British humiliation becomes disgrace


  11. What have I learned?

    We need to speak out and get involved much more than we have been.

    We the People need to put more pressure (influence) on government and society in general.

    Oh! And stay away from old hippies like you, Whit!

    : )