“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."

Saturday, April 07, 2007

A Must Read - Bing West on Iraq

This is a post I have been struggling with because you need a subscription to read the entire article and I have been trying to find the time to convey the full effect of the article without copying the entire article.

The Atlantic Monthly | January/February 2007


by Bing West

On a hot day last fall, I climbed into a Humvee with a handful of marines at a combat outpost on the outskirts of Haditha, 140 miles northwest of Baghdad. We were due to meet the local police chief, after a swing through the market by the river. “We get hit there every day,” Captain Matt Tracy, the company commander, told me. “So we go there every day.”

We drove past storefronts whose owners hastily pulled down steel shutters as we passed by. The street hadn’t fully emptied of shoppers before the first shots cracked from the rear. With no room to turn, we drove on. A few seconds later, someone shot at us from a palm grove to our right. Captain Tracy and his men jumped out of the Humvee and rushed off in pursuit, darting from tree to tree to avoid snipers. Half an hour later they returned, dripping sweat. As usual, the shooters had escaped.

Back at the combat outpost, Tracy offered me a warm Coke. “Sorry we have no cold drinks,” he said. “We had two freezers, but a prisoner died two nights ago under Iraqi police interrogation. So we shipped the body in our freezer to the States for autopsy and investigation. Then yesterday we shot a guy running a checkpoint. We put him in the other freezer until Battalion sends down an investigator. I’ll use Clorox when we get our freezers back. Right now I have to deal with an angry police chief. We’ve been asking him how his prisoner died, and he doesn’t like it.”

Tracy walked outside and escorted the compact and unsmiling police chief, Colonel Farouq, into his office.

“Every American is asking how one terrorist died,” he said angrily. “We questioned him, and he died. That’s all I say. He betrayed my police. [My police officers’] heads were tossed in the dirt in Baiji. And all you ask is how a terrorist died.”

“We go by the law,” Tracy said. “We have rules we follow.”

“Rules? What about nine bodies without heads? What about my brother’s body?” Farouq raged. “My mother complains I have lost the family because I help Americans.” Farouq’s younger brother had been killed in the ambush, his body mutilated.

“Baiji’s a hundred kilometers from here,” the battalion commander, Lieutenant Colonel James Donnellan, said. “I’ll take a force there. You can come with me.”

“When?” Farouq demanded to know.

“Higher has to coordinate,” Donnellan said. “Two or three days.”

“The bodies will be gone by then. You investigate a dead terrorist right away. But my brother has to wait,” Farouq said. “Your rules? You won’t see strong Iraqi police the American way for a hundred years.”

A hundred years would seem a harsh judgment, were it not for our performance in Iraq to date. In the fourth year of war, America teeters on the verge of defeat. By the fourth year of World War II, victory gleamed on the horizon. The Korean War was over inside four years. Even in Vietnam, the Viet Cong had been decimated by the fourth year, and the conflict had morphed from guerrilla warfare into a conventional slugfest against the North.

We are all too familiar with the strategic blunders that have characterized our engagement in Iraq. Still, some 500,000 American and Iraqi military and police personnel are confronting roughly 25,000 Sunni insurgents and Shia militiamen—a twenty-to-one edge that should give us a clear advantage. In terms of spending, the disparity is even greater: $320 billion versus less than $200 million. Yet despite being exponentially outnumbered and outspent, the forces of murder and chaos seem to be winning.

Is it too late to reverse this trend? Maybe not—if we make major tactical adjustments soon.

Muddling through is not a strategy.

The URL for this page is
Bing West summed up his Atlantic article with a recent column in the WSJ :
Civil war between the Sunni tribes and the extremists has broken out in Anbar Province, the stronghold of the insurgency, and the U.S. and Iraqi government should support it. Anbar is like the American West in the 1870s. Security will come to towns in Anbar as it came to Tombstone--by the emergence of tough, local sheriffs with guns, local power and local laws.


  1. West did say that his trip was last fall.

  2. "To achieve some sort of stability, we must change the way we work with the Iraqi military and police at the local level."

    Iraq needs as many as 20,000 military advisers...

    Some things haven't changed with the surge. Iraq needs prisons, it needs an identification program, it needs less civil rights intervention. How many times has Rat made the point that the advisers should have been embedded with Iraqi troops years ago? How many times have we made the observation about the high cost per kill? or about the catch and release program? or about the double dealing Iraqi politicians?

    I'm not saying that the surge isn't working or can't work. I have supported the surge. We should have done long ago but we didn't and the question now is, in this political climate, is do we have enough time to correct the mistakes?

  3. If George Bush can stand firm in the face of a growing chorus of critics, maybe Petraeous can turn things around enough to make a difference after 2008.

    On the other hand, I wonder if we, with our Western rules of law, aren't making things worse in some ways. Like West said, some ugly things need to be done to bring law and order to Iraq. The west will stand by as the evil men have their way but raise holy hell if the Iraqi authorities cross the line and dispense "frontier justice." How many innocent people will die because of our tender sensibilities?

  4. Abroad as at home, Lawyers have taken control of our destiny.

  5. Whit @ Sat Apr 07, 05:49:00 PM EDT
    And we've talked about the
    ZERO LEARNING CURVE administration ad-nauseum:

    Rufus refers to Generals, but this blog and other could have played Roosevelt to this admins Chamberlain for the last 3 years.

    Not much excuse for that, except for the Wuss's New Tone, which has no business being the policy of our CIC.

    Mr Rogers President?
    I think not.

    It was not the Dems, nor the MSM that kept GWB from replacing Generals, it was GWB.

  6. ...and both the Dems and the MSM would not now have the power they do if this war had been prosecuted like a WAR.

  7. 'Rat has pointed out before:
    "Reconciliation" is now the magic word.

    Some things cannot be reconciled, thus we have wars.

    Square peg, round hole, et al:
    Likes to pretend that he, not Sistani, can chart the course of a Democratic Iraq.
    Wishing does not make it so.

  8. Title:
    Release Date:
    Release Number:
    FOB KALSU, Iraq - Fixed wing aircraft conducted an air strike against armed militia men in Diwaniyah April 7.

    Iraqi Army and coalition forces as part of Operation Black Eagle used a strategic air strike to defend against illegally armed militia men using shoulder-fired rocket propelled grenades.

    IA personnel were informed by local residents, through a tip line, of militia men employing RPGs in the area.
    IA made positive identification of the militia men and called for the air strike.

    The incident highlights the growing confidence the people of Diwaniyah are having with the Iraqi Security Force as seen in this indication of popular support through use of the local tip line.


    AT COMMERCIAL (914) 822-8174 OR IRAQNA 011-964-890-192-4674.

  9. "Oh No! Petraeus Has The Bush Disease! Begging Shows Weakness!"

    That's what you get when you fire every general who says no to Bush and promote the one who says yes.

  10. Here is a Bing West piece from the WSJ, 5 Apr 07.

    " ... the tribes will provide the information, recruits and local policing that shrinks the area where AQI operates. With less area to search, the Iraqi Army can concentrate wherever al Qaeda tries to rest or regroup, eventually drying up the swamp. The risk is that, if the Shiite-dominated government refuses reasonable terms, the tribes use their military muscle to reach a truce with AQI and the province reverts. "

  11. WSJ article is dateline Anbar

    Thursday, April 5, 2007 12:01 a.m. EDT

    ANBAR PROVINCE, Iraq--Last fall, President Bush, citing the violence in Baghdad, said that the U.S. strategy in Iraq was "slowly failing."

  12. This comment has been removed by the author.

  13. Another Congressman in apparent violation of the Logan Act, not many headlines though

    U.S. House Majority Leader Met Official of Egypt's Banned Muslim Brotherhood on Recent Trip
    04-07-2007 2:38 PM
    By NADIA ABOU EL-MAGD, Associated Press Writer

    CAIRO, Egypt (Associated Press) -- A top U.S. Democratic congressman met a leading member of Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood, an outlawed opposition group, during a recent visit to the country, the Islamic fundamentalist group and U.S. officials said Saturday.

    House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer met with the Muslim Brotherhood's parliament leader, Mohammed Saad el-Katatni, twice on Thursday _ once at the parliament building and then at the home of the U.S. ambassador to Egypt, said Brotherhood spokesman Hamdi Hassan.

    U.S. Embassy spokesman John Berry would only confirm that Hoyer, who represents Maryland, met with el-Katatni at U.S. Ambassador Francis Ricciardone's home at a reception with other politicians and parliament members.

    Though officially banned since 1954, the Brotherhood is tolerated by the government and has become Egypt's largest opposition group and President Hosni Mubarak's most powerful rival.

    Its members, who run as independents, make up the largest opposition bloc in parliament, holding about one-fifth of its 454 seats.

    Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has refused in the past to meet with the Muslim Brotherhood.

    But Berry said U.S. government policy does not bar meetings with Brotherhood members of parliament and Hoyer's talks with el-Katatni were not a change in U.S. policy toward the group.

    "It's our diplomatic practice around the world to meet with parliamentarians, be they members of political parties or independents," Berry said. "We haven't changed our policy with regard to the Muslim Brotherhood as an organization."

  14. Supply a little economic incenive and the Us can come through, everytime.

    MACON, Ga. — Sgt. Dana Kline is so good at recruiting new National Guard soldiers that he's set to make a small fortune — $94,000 in bonuses.
    Kline has managed to get 47 recruits over 11 months, earning him the state's Meritorious Service Medal and, so far, the highest bonus paid to anyone through the Guard Recruiting Assistance Program.

    Through the program, Guard members are offered a $1,000 bonus for every person they sign up and another $1,000 when the recruit ships out to basic training. The program is credited with bringing in 25,000 new Guard members since its launch 15 months ago.

    "Kline is the highest in the group," said Col. Mike Jones, chief of the recruiting and retention division of the National Guard Bureau in Washington. "But there are some folks who are on his heels."

    Kline, who's not even a full-time military recruiter, has found many of his recruits on trips to area shopping malls, unemployment offices and schools.

    We have a $94,000 winner

    Damned good job, well worth every dollar.

  15. When did I blame the lawters, specificly?
    They have their place in the System, but the blame is not on them, particularily.

  16. Would someone care to enlighten me as why Petraeus' letter to the Iraqi people is considered begging?

    To me, he was simply countering Sadr's call for a strike.

    I see nothing wrong with the letter.

  17. Army civilians can collect $2000 referral bonus

    By Lisa Burgess, Stars and Stripes
    Mideast edition, Saturday, March 17, 2007

    ARLINGTON, Va. — Army civilians can now collect the $2,000 referral bonus for persuading someone to join the service, Army officials announced Thursday.

    The referral bonus pilot program, which began in January 2006, was originally instituted as a $1,000 bonus open to soldiers, regardless of component or rank, and then opened to retirees.

    The bonus went from $1,000 to $2,000 on Nov. 13, thanks to a clause in the 2007 Defense Authorization Bill.

    But it took a while for the Army to develop mechanisms to provide the payments for civilians, according to Al Green, chief of the Army’s recruiting policy branch.

    The program “came out of the gate” in January 2006, and was restricted to soldiers referring other soldiers, Green told Stars and Stripes on Friday.

    At that point, Green said, Army officials “learned there were other communities that were affiliated with the Army that should benefit from the program,” like retirees and civilians who work for the service, so Congress “revisited the act” that authorized money for the bonus.

    Department of the Army civilians can now also get the bonus, as instructed in the defense bill.

    In the program’s first year, there have been 24,472 referrals made to the program, Green said. Of those referrals, 3,378 recruits joined one of the three Army components.

    Everyone is a recruiter now, with a good payroll incentive to boot.

  18. > Would someone care to enlighten me as why Petraeus' letter to the Iraqi people is considered begging?

    I agree, it isn't begging. Counter insurgency is killing the 10% die hards while getting the 90% to switch sides or stay neutral.

    Afghanistan is a good example where after a few thousand Taliban were killed, most of the country switched sides, rebelling against the remaining Taliban.

    A letter like that in English is for US political purposes anyway. Most of the fighters in Iraq will only pay attention to bullets or specific negotations involving power and life & death for them.

  19. In the WSJ article West continues to hammer the point:
    Civil war between the Sunni tribes and the extremists has broken out in Anbar Province, the stronghold of the insurgency, and the U.S. and Iraqi government should support it. Anbar is like the American West in the 1870s. Security will come to towns in Anbar as it came to Tombstone--by the emergence of tough, local sheriffs with guns, local power and local laws.

    Get the JAGS out of Iraq!

  20. > GWB Likes to pretend that he, not Sistani, can chart the course of a Democratic Iraq.

    I think that is the key point. It's their country so war will only work if led by Iraqis and fought their way, for their purposes.

    A good example is Anbar. The US Marines found a local power source, a sheik, who wanted to fight against Al Qaeda, and who said he might support the central government, depending on negotiations. Even though the bravery and skill of our Marines was the same before and after, things changed overnight once we had local power on our side. The actionable intelligence came in. Iraqis really fought side by side with us, without betrayal. There were quickly hundreds, then thousands of pro-US police, where there were none before. Instead of supporting Al Qaeda, the Sunni locals started shooting them.

    It was the same thing as Afghanistan, which couldn't have gone as smoothly without the Northern Alliance helping us.

    It is like the article said:

    > If the insurgents are to be defeated, it will have to be by local tough guys in town after town, as happened in the American West in the 1870s.

    So instead of Bush trying to run it as the 51st state, and trying to micro manage the war, pick a few local groups, then help them clean up the place.

  21. That was the plan, wu.
    Democracy chooses the liberated government, they work with US.
    The reality is that Hezzbollah was elected.
    Same fellow that founded HB, was Mr al-Sadr's dead daddy. A driving force in HB's ideology.

    The HB headman, now, once daddy's student in Qom. That was not in the Plan.
    It has put a crimp in it.

  22. Go back and read, in '03, 04. 05 how Mr Sistani was a "voice of compromise", a "voice of stabilty", "voice of moderation".

    He was none of those things.
    Not then, not now.

  23. > Democracy chooses the liberated government, they work with US.

    The elected government has no army and so is powerless, just like Karzai when we first chose him in Afghanistan. In Afghanistan, we had to deal with the warlords and Northern Alliance first, so we also need to make separate deals with Iraqi Sunni, Shiite, and Kurd power in all major areas. Maliki is the spokesman for a couple of Shiite factions, nothing more.

  24. > how Mr Sistani was a "voice of compromise", a "voice of stabilty", "voice of moderation".

    Some (all?) of the Afghan warlords were brutal thugs, but we still used them to overthrow the Taliban and keep the peace.

  25. Mr Sistani has yet to meet with a representitive of the US.

    He left a letter from Mr Bush on his desk, untranslated, unopened.
    He is an Iranian.

    His Shi'ite Sect is winning, will win in Iraq.
    His people will be there in ten years, will General P's combat troops? In twenty, then?

    What then of eastern Saudi Arabia?

    Where are the distilleries?
    Hundreds of distilleries.

    Girls Gone Wild
    on the run
    has a beach house in Mexico
    Is he now an expatriated American?

  26. Exactly, wu.

    But Mr Sistani has been usin' US, not US usin' him.

    It is the Sunni that have become refugees, for the most part, not Mr Sistani's folk that are displaced.

    It is Mr al-Sadr and Mr al-Hakim that have seen their long term influence increase since the US arrived. Both on the Sistani side, both funded to varied degrees by the Iranians.
    Mr Maliki has told US he can control the Shia militias, for the most part he can. They are all on the "same" side. Though not all sharing chains of command.

    The Brits ambushed in Basra had been involved in arresting a Interior Ministry Police Lt.

  27. Comments on British Hostages

    These reader comments about the hostages in this British newspaper are some of the funniest I have seen:

    > "The actions of these so called hero's reminds me of the actions of some true British hero's...the Monty Python troupe. Anyone remember the "Spanish Inquisition" skit?
    "Oh no...not the comfy chair"!"

    > "The ease in which these men and woman folded was apalling. Did they have to do it with such big smiles? And what's with accepting the "parting gifts" as if they were on some BBC gameshow? "

    > "The sailors and marines interviewed made the British Military look like spoiled, cowardly brats. In order for them to provide the smiling, apologizing propaganda footage seen during their captivity, the Iranians had to separate them, and threaten them. Wow! What an ordeal!"

    > "They were concerned with one thing, self preservation. If their fathers or grandfathers behaved the same way, I suppose I would have been writing this in German. All I can hope is that these dandies are the exception, and not the rule, in the military."

    > "A few of the marines refusing to wave goodbye to the president hardly counts as resistence. What completed this sickening display of cowardice was the acceptance of these "goody bags". At least publicly smash them when you arrive on UK soil! No principles and no guts."

    > "Were British sailors also "FORCED" to laugh with their kidnappers, exchange embraces, kisses, accept gifts for services rendered, take tea and give Iranian terrorists an enthusiastic round of applause when departing? Question: Did the standing ovation in homage to their captors have to do with Iranian violations of the Geneva Conventions or was it in appreciation for a terrorist PR coup well done?"

    > Fighting was not an option? Please explain! One marine came up with this beauty "We were suddenly surrounded." What? I say: what? How are you suddenly surrounded in the open sea? ... What was the commander of the HMS 'Please-Don't-Shoot' doing all this time? Why are CNN & BBC playing softball with all these people?

  28. Wu Wei,

    That could have been done 4 years ago!

    That would have given the US time and political capital to deal with Iran; it would have saved the US half a trillion US dollars; it would have spared thousand of US coalition lives; and it would have saved the US military wear and loss of expensive equipment.

  29. > Mr Sistani has yet to meet with a representitive of the US.

    We have been communicating with Sistani since the very beginning. For political reasons, it is indirect, just like we communicate with a lot of leaders.

    > His Shi'ite Sect is winning, will win in Iraq.

    That's one possibility, but why worry about it? Someone has to win, or maybe several groups. We'll all be dead in 100 years. We disagree with the governments in dozens of countries, and have tools for dealing with them.

    It's not our country, and in a lot of ways not our business what government they choose.

  30. Reality has a bitter taste, in the United Kingdom. Not quite the bitters they've come to cherish in their pubs.

    Just one hundred years ago, the Brits mattered. They were taken seriously around the world.

    Today, even when Abracadbra folds, the Brits end up looking bad, without much help from Iran.

    US Marines would have spilled blood, Iranian blood for sure. The Brits went without a fight, commanded from "on high" as well as on the water.
    The frigate didn't fire. We had two carrier groups in range, where was the air supremcy?
    Doubt if the Brtits even called, or maybe they did. I'm sure it's all classified.

  31. > That could have been done 4 years ago!

    Four years ago the only powers in Iraq were Saddam (in hiding) and the Kurds. The Shiites were mostly unorganized.

    In fact that was Saddam's gamble, that we would soon leave the country so he and his Baathists could come out of hiding and take over.

  32. Totally agree, wu.
    Hand off, head for the door.

    Late November should be the targeted mission hand over date, with a rewritten "stay behind" agreement.

    Advisors, trainers, air wing, rapid reaction force. Let's make a deal. It would well serve the Nation if Mr Bush could do it.

    Take US in guide US out. All on course, instead we get political infighting, when a flexible 36 month timeline, as outlined by General McCaffery, would not be out of line.

    The Iraqi deliver when deadlines are emplaced.

  33. Four years ago, we'd have handed off to Allawi, Chilabi and Talibani, and kept the Iraqi Army ourselves.

    By now it'd have 300,000 trained troops, highly paid and well equipped. Loyal to US or our proxy Presidents and Generals.

    Lots of ifs, thens and thoughs, that could be played out and argued. But we are where we are.

    The Iraqi Government has emerged, we should make plans to leave. Give it a three year timeline, it'll focus all their minds.

  34. Wu Wei,

    I was talking about organizing a Sunni army against AQ and the Baathists. I've already stated, I never would have done a deal with Shiia.

  35. Shiia running supplies to AQ in exchange for running oil thru Sunni areas is well known.

  36. Here are a few fresh quotes from the British paper about the hostages:

    > Am I to understand that the British Navy has suspended monitoring of ships passing in the area due to the scare the Iranians put on them with the detention of 15 British service personnel.

    God save the Queen, because your military can't.

    > The British military is a disgrace. It sounds like Britain needs to be colonized; they need someone to tell them how to act with courage under duress during times of war.

    Maybe a real power should save the Queen because I am afraid that your soldiers may decide collectively that they can't protect the monarch because they might not win the battle.

    > Forget the released hostages for a moment: what shows more clearly than I would have expected, is the number of American and Australians who can barely conceal their hatred for this country.
    I suppose with the native Australians it's a history thing, "My gr gr great grandfather got transported for stealing a turnip" , and the hatred from America comes from the IRA supporters who are still blaming us for the potatoe famine.

    We won't mention Mogadishu, another better forgotten campaign where the World Superpower was humiliated by tribesmen with a few AK 47's and did a "strategic withdrawal" after losing a helicopter.

  37. Wu Wei: We won't mention Mogadishu, another better forgotten campaign where the World Superpower was humiliated by tribesmen with a few AK 47's and did a "strategic withdrawal" after losing a helicopter.

    America could take all her military technology and prowess, and drop back in time to the bronze age, and still lose every single conflict if the President lacks the willpower to fight.

  38. > ... lose every single conflict if the President lacks the willpower to fight

    Yes, and because our President lost the will to fight politically, he is very close to losing the ability to fight militarily.

  39. Sergeant Kline with his bonus check from the Guard, $62,000 net.
    47 recruits.

  40. Mətušélaḥ said...
    "Shiia running supplies to AQ in exchange for running oil thru Sunni areas is well known."
    Sat Apr 07,

    Where could I read about that?

  41. d'Rat,

    It was known already a long while back. Let me see if I can google it.

  42. Google: "iraqi shiia oil smugglers qaeda"

  43. doug will appreciate those guides, i'm sure.

    Discussions at the start of this year, 2006 not surprising have touched on the question if the US when it invaded Iraq in 2003 had in fact a sufficient political goal that could be realized. For example in “My Year In Iraq”, his memoir published early January this year, of his time at the head of the CPA, Bremer notes that the plans for the occupation of Germany and Japan were three years in the making and were constructed in such detail that, as Berlin fell, the Allies had ready freight cars of the correct European rail gauge. Any such advance planning for Iraq was shelved because it did not fit the Pentagon's model of a quick invasion followed by an occupation lasting a handful of months. But Bremer complains, with the advantage of hindsight that puts the blame for the errors of the first year of occupation anywhere but on his own shoulders, that he was left in charge of a country without sufficient troops to keep the peace and build a political consensus. He blames the US military, for blocking his plans to arrest the Shia Moqtadr al-Sadr, a move he believes encouraged the Sunni insurgents. And he blames the returning Iraqi exiles and members of the interim Governing Council for general recklessness. Bremer does not accept however he made his own mistakes , for example with his de-Baathification order, which would later undermine the coalition's efforts. (See NY Times Review of Books, January 12, 2006)

    But also America’s flexible approach towards political Islam has come under fire particularly since the victory of Hamas in Palestine. Is facilitating the immediate political participation of Islamists tantamount to helping the enemy?

    For example Professor Barnard Lewis and his disciples such as Samuel Huntington and Richard Perle who maintain that co-existence with Islam is not possible unless there is a major revision of Islamic texts such as the Quran. Lewis asserted his clash of civilization theory as early as 1964 when he wrote in his book the “Middle East and the West”: ‘We must view the present discontents of the Middle East not as a conflict between states and nations, but as a clash of civilisations.’ ...

    ... Bringing the discussion back full circle to the proposals of Daniel Pipes son of an American history professor. The opposite of the accommodationists he went as far as to claim it is preferable to have in power today’s dictators rather than tomorrow’s Islamists. He preferred a twenty-year goal, which would allow the US to focus its efforts on a long-term democratic transformation. Thus he was dismayed at the scheduling of the Iraqi elections only twenty-two months after the fall of Saddam Hussein, saying that the appropriate interval would have been more like twenty-two years. Opposing views like the above are not new of course.

  44. d'Rat

  45. In Iraq $5 billion is sucked out of the economy by oil smugglers who sell the product on the black market. It used to go thru Iran, but with that route being blocked, it now it goes to al qaeda:

  46. This comment has been removed by the author.

  47. Heheh, sorry Doug. For some reason I mistook your question as part of d'Rat post just above it.

  48. Yeah,
    Probly would have IGNORED *ME*

  49. This comment has been removed by the author.

  50. This comment has been removed by the author.

  51. Sorry Doug. I'm going to lay off the pineapple juice.

  52. How many angels, temporarily twisted into a monstrous reptilicus from the darkest swamps of hell, fit on the head of a pin?

  53. Can't trust Time to far, doug.

    Read that and saw it, but didn't even want to cut & paste it to refute it.

    An AZ resident, Spc. Alan E. McPeek, 20, was the other KIA now credited to friendly fire that day. Not even worthy of mention, by name, in the Time story.

  54. Yup, that was me, Bobal:
    Rush's whole family, father, brother, uncles, grandfather are all lawyers, but he still agrees w/me that lawyers are too numerous and influential:
    Don't mean that they all are bad people, or even bad lawyers.

    It seems self-evident that our military is hamstrung by overlawyering.

  55. In a posting on the blog he intends to maintain while in orbit, Simonyi said he spent his final day getting a haircut and a therapeutic massage and watched a traditional showing of a classic Soviet-era war film.

    There was no mention of Stewart on the blog, but Simonyi did make reference to one of the lesser-known, last-minute traditions for cosmonauts heading into space - urinating on the tire of the bus transporting them to the launch-pad.

  56. It says he has comments here:
    but all I get is a black screen and rotating spaceship.

  57. Taking forever to load, I guess, the little bar is getting longer.

  58. A lack of proper supervision, doug, just a lack of responsible supervisors.

    Those computer people, they just take to many unsupervised breaks.

    A nonproductive lot, to be sure.

  59. Von Neuman loved to drink, party, and etc. and had a racing team of Ferraris and such.
    Could have been an EB member, but he was too smart!

  60. What a pathetic, anti-American thread. There is only one pov tolerated by the EB - GWB stinks and America sucks. I now check in here about twice a week and don't post because other viewpoints than DR's are not welcome. DR, the verbal bully, fully supported by Doug and 2164. What a shitty blog this has become.

  61. Bombing is not needed in Anbar because counter insurgency has won the province back from Al Qaeda. The report below says it all.

    "Al Qaeda terrorism provoked many of Anbar's sheiks actively to cooperate with U.S. Forces, oppose all terrorists in the province, support the Iraqi Police and Army... The hostility of the local population changed Ramadi from an al Qaeda stronghold into an area effectively contested by U.S. and Iraqi forces... The presence of U.S. forces conducting counterinsurgency missions to secure the population made the local rejection of al Qaeda possible and effective... As a result of their efforts, especially in late 2006 and early 2007, al Qaeda no longer controlled Ramadi or Fallujah... ".

    Iran Report III

    For Americans, the war's most important events from August to December 2006 occurred in Baghdad. For al Qaeda and other Sunni Islamic extremist enemies in Iraq, equally important events in that same period occurred in Ramadi, the capital city of Anbar Province. Al Qaeda terrorism provoked many of Anbar's sheiks actively to cooperate with U.S. Forces, oppose all terrorists in the province, support the Iraqi Police and Army, form an effective city government and strengthen the provincial council. The sheiks called their movement "The Awakening." The hostility of the local population changed Ramadi from an al Qaeda stronghold into an area effectively contested by U.S. and Iraqi forces.

    The presence of U.S. forces conducting counterinsurgency missions to secure the population made the local rejection of al Qaeda possible and effective. The leadership and example of the sheiks of Ramadi inspired other sheiks in neighboring cities to cooperate with U.S. and Iraqi
    forces. As a result of their efforts, especially in late 2006 and early 2007, al Qaeda no longer controlled Ramadi or Fallujah. By February 2007, U.S. and Iraqi forces were pushing the enemy from the other cities in the province. U.S. forces conducted deliberate counterinsurgency operations to secure the population from terrorism. Together with the Iraqi Security Forces, they cleared, controlled, and retained cities in the Euphrates River Valley. U.S. forces exploited opportunities created by the enemy and by the local population.

  62. There is lots of other great news in that report too. Maliki and the Anbar Sunnis agreed to work together. Joining the Sunnis to the central government is a big step towards a free and peaceful Iraq.


    Promoting ties between central, provincial, and local governments is a major objective of state building and counterinsurgency operations. This is especially a problem for Anbar province, which is nearly all Sunni. The ties between the central government in Baghdad, the ministries, and the provincial government in Anbar were exceptionally weak in 2006. De-Baathification laws and policies prevented many Sunnis from participating in government and military service. Because Sunni leaders boycotted the 2005 elections, they did not obtain strong political representation in Parliament. As sectarian violence spiraled, some ministries in Baghdad ignored the province's needs further, and could not deliver funds or services.

    On March 13, Prime Minister Maliki made his first personal, official visit to Ramadi. He had last traveled to Anbar province in 1976, when he worked there as a teacher before fleeing Saddam Hussein's regime. Sheiks and other leaders came from all parts of Anbar to meet with him. The Anbar provincial governor and other officials met him on the tarmac. The meetings were civil, but argumentative and voluble.

    "At a news conference, Mr. Maliki praised the tenaciousness of the province's residents and thanked those tribal leaders who opposed the creeping influence of Al Qaeda. He assured them that the central government would not ignore their demands for improved public services, development aid and support for the security forces here. He promised to open factories, deliver food to the needy and hold provincial elections as soon as possible."

  63. Whit, as to the "begging" aspect of Petraeus' letter:

    When the Commander of the Multi-National Forces in Iraq writes an open letter asking for support from the "natives"; the indigenous people who don't live within a system of "reason" like he does, a system where local Iraqi's have lamented time and time again about the American leaders weakness in Iraq, in a country where we Americans refuse to take out people like al Sadr, in a country where we go into neighborhoods, shoot up the bad guys, then leave the folks to the tender mercies of the rouges re-entry (yes, I know about the surge), where we, as a nation back down and kowtow to Iran, Saudi Arabia, the Emirates, and the entire region, etc. etc.

    When THIS “Commander” ASKS for cooperation, acting from a position of WEAKNESS not STRENGTH, It’s Begging!

    Whit, as you know, my counter-insurgency training in the military was extensive. It taught me to think like the people we’re to be fighting, not like an American nice guy. From an Islamic, Iraqi viewpoint Petraeus is begging when he asks for cooperation. That is my opinion and I believe it to be the opinion of the indigenous people. WE ARE NOT, I REPEAT, ARE NOT FIGHTING A CONVENTIONAL WAR.

    The items mentioned above have been talked about over and over on the web and within blogs. You can disagree if they’re true, I suppose, but I think this is what the “people” notice. They notice this weakness, not strength.

    I apologize for my “Johnny come lately” again but my schedule doesn’t allow me to participate as timely and as often as I would like.

  64. Oh! And another thing that begs a question:

    Why is it that a small potatoes guy like me will see stuff like this, or like you guys do, as well, and a General doesn't?

    The answer is; he does see it, but he's a political animal now, not necessarily a "soldier". We need fewer politicians in this war and more soldiers!