“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."

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Oops, someone forgot that cell phones kill.

Well, they actually do not, but they sure do help. They are a remarkable means of communication with civlilian and military application, but somebody was not thinking.

It is obvious that we failed to properly recognize the type of war we have entered when we went to Iraq. To say we were unprepared for many things is kind. Nothing can demonstrate that more than the use of enemy, sorry, "insurgent attacker's" cell phones to kill US and allied troops.

Saddam never tolerated many things from the shiites, one of them was open access to cellular phones. I question how many US and allied troops have been wounded and killed by the indiscriminate proliferation of cell phones. A lot.

We are so used to the technology that we forget the potency of an inexpensive cell phone. They come in quite handy for coordinating attacks, noticing US troop movements, calling in sniper fire, and setting off IED's. (Imagine any historic military battle and go back in time and give them cell phones.)

One of the first tactics used in any military operation is to deny the enemy lines and means of communications. I guess someone forgot, or the twits who are our masters and rulers, wanted to not deny the Iraqis their rights on the path to democracy. Remember the Iraqis did not have them before we arrived. We built the cellular phone towers.

The second comment has to do with the "arrest" of two "attackers" after they fired RPG's at the Brits. I think I cracked a tooth.

We really do not know what we are doing.

20 Shia gunmen die in British Basra fightback

By Thomas Harding, Defence Correspondent, Telegraph
Last Updated: 7:50am BST 12/04/2007

British forces have hit back at Iraqi insurgents who killed six colleagues last week, by launching an operation in which they shot dead more than 20 gunmen of Basra's rogue militias.

The attack began when a battalion-size force was sent into one of the southern city's toughest terrorist strongholds, three miles from where four soldiers, including two women, were blown up in their Warrior armoured vehicle.

An armoured force of 400 troops from the 2Bn The Rifles and 2Bn The Duke of Lancaster's Regiment, both of which suffered fatalities last week, entered the Shia Flats area on the western outskirts of Basra to search for hidden weapons.The district is notorious as one of the most dangerous in southern Iraq.

"We wanted to make quite clear there's nowhere in Basra we cannot go," a British commander told The Daily Telegraph yesterday. "We are prepared to be there in daylight and take whatever comes our way. We are not being bombed out or intimidated."

Initially there was no response as the troops began searching homes where they recovered some small arms. But then the atmosphere changed.

"It was all going very well but then there was a sense something bad was about to happen as we noticed children starting to speak into their mobile phones and point at us," the commander said. "At this stage it became clear that the militia was massing for some kind of attack."

As the troops took up defensive positions around their Warrior and Bulldog armoured vehicles, Iraqi gunmen carrying AK47 assault rifles and rocket-propelled grenades could be seen scurrying along rooftops and down streets. It is believed ammunition and hundreds of weapons are hidden in the area and brought into the open at short notice when the British appear.

Intelligence sources also informed the troops on the ground that Shia terrorists were heading towards them from other parts of the city.

The battle began on Tuesday afternoon with numerous rocket-propelled grenades and small arms fire hitting the British positions.

The soldiers from the Rifles and Duke of Lancaster's held off the attacks for more than two hours and shot a number of gunmen. There were no British casualties as they gradually fought their way back to their base at Basra Palace.

Coalition jets also made low flying passes to intimidate the enemy although they did not drop any bombs. During one skirmish two attackers, who fired grenades at a British position, were chased down and arrested. Both are likely to face charges.

Commanders believed that some of the dead might have been behind the ambush of a Warrior in which 2nd Lt Joanna Dyer, a close friend of Prince William at Sandhurst, and three other soldiers were killed. A sniper, possibly from Shia Flats, also killed two other soldiers earlier last week. "This was at a location where we believe those responsible for killing our people were almost certainly recruited from," a military source said.

During the battle an Iraqi policeman was shot by one of the militias. He later died.

No civilians are believed to have been killed in the fight, the military reported, although it could not rule out innocent casualties caught in the crossfire.

"While we may regret that such incidents have to take place, we will not allow militia gunmen to control parts of Basra," said Lt Col Kevin Stratford-Wright, the British military spokesman in southern Iraq.

"There are no 'no-go' areas for multi-national forces in Basra. Security is our responsibility and, in conjunction with the Iraqi security forces, we seek to provide as secure an environment as possible. This will inevitably involve taking on the rogue militia who blight the lives of people in Basra."

Official estimates put the number of Iraqis hit by British gunfire at 10 but other defence sources said that double that figure had been shot.


  1. I wonder, does Mr Blair, Mr Bush, Mr Cheney and Ms Rice still consider Basra to be an Iraqi "Success" story.

    Or are they all drinkin' "Backsliders' Wine", regarding that successful situation spinning out of control.

    Are we still waiting on the word from DC, before we know what to think?

  2. In Baghdad alone, the number of registered cars reportedly has almost tripled, to more than 1 million, since Saddam Hussein's downfall. To satisfy this demand, secondhand cars are imported from the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait and Jordan. In addition, stolen cars from all over the world -- including the United States -- have ended up in Iraq. It is virtually impossible to trace the origin of most of these vehicles, given the lack of adequate motor vehicle registration and record-keeping in Iraq's often chaotic environment.

    Syrian ineffectiveness in plugging the holes in its border with Iraq, however, clearly is one reason for the flood of stolen vehicles. Moreover, the lack of border controls presents another obstacle to security and stability in Iraq because, if cars can be smuggled in, practically anything else can as well -- including suicide bombers.


    Cell phones and automobiles, all sides of the War in Iraq use them, one as a sign of progress, the other as weapons of War.

    When Iraqi vehicle was locked down, due to the protests in Najaf, just the other day, the car bombings STOPPED.

    Shouldn't that "lock down" continue until the "War" is over?
    Why permit the Enemy the opportunity to move, as well as communicate?

  3. sam said...
    First Iran is supporting Shiite militias and now they're supporting Sunni extremists? I don't get it.

    Thu Apr 12, 03:14:00 AM EDT

    They care little of which sides wins, while we are there. The Iranian objective is to continue to bleed US while we are. Bleed US of treasure and blood, while they pay little in return.
    Instability favors Iran.

  4. Each day there is more progress.

    Kill a terrorist, and the place is safer for a day.
    Train the locals to kill terrorists, and the place will be safe forever.

    President Gen. Pervez Musharraf said Thursday that tribesmen have killed about 300 foreign militants during a weekslong offensive near the Afghan border and acknowledged for first time that they received military support.

    The fighting that began last month in South Waziristan has targeted mainly Uzbek militants with links to al-Qaida who have sheltered in the tribal region since escaping the U.S.-led invasion of Afghanistan in late 2001.

    "The people of South Waziristan now have risen against the foreigners. They have killed about 300 of them, and they got support from the Pakistan army. They asked for support," Musharraf said in a speech at a military conference in Islamabad

    Musharraf: 300 Foreign Militants Killed

  5. Do not believe everything the General President says, wu. It is not a two sided fight, in Pakistan. The AP plays the
    Pakistani Government "spin"

    The Taliban's internecine war in Waziristan
    The Uzbek-Taliban fighting isn't what the Pakistani government wants you to believe

    The Pakistani government continues to push the fiction that the fighting in South Waziristan is between tribes loyal to the government and 'foreign fighters' - namely Uzbek al Qaeda. We've noted from day one that the fighting is actually an internecine war over land and power between Uzbek al Qaeda and their Taliban allies, and Taliban who support al Qaeda. Two articles, one in Adnkronos International and another in The News provides further evidence the battles in Waziristan are related to an internal power struggle, and not indicative of the success of the Waziristan Accord, as the Pakistani government would like for you to believe.

    read More from Bill Roggio

  6. In many developing countries, cell phone networks have developed rapidly, to the point where virtually everyone is walking around with a cell phone, and there are repeaters everywhere.

    Pretty difficult (and arguably counterproductive) to take away everyone's cell phones, since you hurt business people and disrupt civilians' lives as well by doing so, and damage the Counterinsurgency efforts.

    Also, re: the comment about the arrests detailed in the article: The article does not talk about what happened in the situation where two people were captured/detained/arrested, or whatever; if the insurgents fired rockets, came under fire, then dropped their weapons, what choice did the coalition soldiers have at that point? Should they have summarily killed unarmed personnel right in the street?

    We cannot discern the tactical situation based on the snippet provided in this article, so it is unwise to get one's blood pressure up over the fact that coaltion soldiers took control of two enemy combatants.

    What eventually happens to these characters should be more of a concern (ie are they simply going to be released to fight again?).

    There is plenty of lead flying and JDAMS dropping on in this war, despite fears to the contrary. But no one is going to kill their way to victory in Iraq, Afghanistan, or elsewhere in the war on terror. Not on THIS side of the proverbial battlefield, anyway,

  7. Roggio says:

    Far from Anbar

    The Pakistani government has masterfully seized upon this opportunity to claim Nazir's Taliban are actually pro government tribals, much like the Anbar Salvation Council has emerged as a force in Iraq's violent Anbar province. This argument has been accepted uncritically by the Western press, and has begun to filter into certain factions within the U.S. government.

    But nothing could be further from the truth. As Nazir's relationships with Arab al Qaeda operatives Saiful Asad, Sheikh Asadullah and Khadr Al Kanadi demonstrates, Nazir is in bed with al Qaeda. He does not seek to eject the Arab contingents from his tribal areas. Nazir and other Taliban are accepting Pakistani government support to fight a tribal war and eject a small faction of the Islamic Jihad Group from the tribal areas. The very fact that senior Taliban commanders such as Baitullah Mehsud and Sirajuddin Haqqani were called in to broker a ceasefire shows who is respected and holds sway in South 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.

  8. Seanator Biden, the man who helped to write the Auhorization for Use of Force Iraq, has this to say:

    But the fact is, virtually every "welcome development" McCain cited has been reported, including the purported anti-al-Qaeda alliance with Sunni sheikhs in Anbar, the establishment of joint U.S.-Iraqi security stations in Baghdad and the decision by Moqtada al-Sadr to go to ground -- for now.

    The problem is that for every welcome development, there is an equally or even more unwelcome development that gives lie to the claim that we are making progress. For example:

    · While violence against Iraqis is down in some Baghdad neighborhoods where we have "surged" forces, it is up dramatically in the belt ringing Baghdad. The civilian death toll increased 15 percent from February to March. Essentially, when we squeeze the water balloon in one place, it bulges somewhere else.

    · It is true that Sadr has not been seen, but he has been heard, rallying his followers with anti-American messages and encouraging his thugs to take on American troops in the south. Intelligence experts believe his militia is simply waiting out the surge.

    · Closing markets to vehicles has precluded some car bombs, but it also has prompted terrorists to change tactics and walk in with suicide vests. The road from the airport to Baghdad may be safer, but the skies above it are more lethal -- witness the ironic imposition of "no-fly zones" for our own helicopters.

    The most damning evidence that the "results" McCain cites are illusory is the city of Tall Afar. Architects of the president's plan called it a model because in 2005, a surge of about 10,000 Americans and Iraqis pacified the city. Then we left Tall Afar, just as our troops soon will leave the Baghdad neighborhoods that they have calmed.

    This month, Tall Afar was the scene of some of the most horrific sectarian violence to date: a massive truck bomb aimed at the Shiite community led to a retaliatory rampage by Shiite death squads, aided by the Iraqi police. Hundreds were killed. The population of Tall Afar, 200,000 a few years ago, is down to 80,000.
    In short, the most basic premise of the president's approach -- that Iraqis will rally behind a strong central government that looks out for their interests equitably -- is fundamentally and fatally flawed.

    If the president's plan won't work, what will? History suggests only four other ways to keep together a country riven by sectarian strife:

    We allow or help one side to win, which would require years of horrific bloodletting.

    We perpetuate the occupation, which is impossible politically and practically.

    We promote the return of a dictator, who is not on the horizon but whose emergence would be the cruelest of ironies.

    Or we help Iraq make the transition to a decentralized, federal system, as called for in its constitution, where each major group has local control over the fabric of its daily life, including security, education, religion and marriage.

    Making federalism work for all Iraqis is a strategy that can still succeed and allow our troops to leave responsibly. It's a strategy I have been promoting for a year.

    I cannot guarantee that my plan for Iraq (detailed at will work. But I can guarantee that the course we're on -- the course that a man I admire, John McCain, urges us to continue -- is a road to nowhere.

  9. America, Iraq, and the question of total war
    If the war in Iraq is really worth fighting, then America should fight with everything it's got.
    By John Dillin

    Washington - Omar Bradley, an American general in World War II, observed: "In war there is no second prize for the runner-up." In a similar vein, the legendary Gen. Douglas MacArthur cautioned his fellow Americans: "It is fatal to enter any war without the will to win it." ...
    Win – or go home

    That may be happening to the US now in Iraq. America and Britain didn't win WWII by building playgrounds and schools and setting up local governments. They won by pounding the other side into dust. As American Gen. George Patton once said, "Nobody ever defended anything successfully; there is only attack and attack and attack some more." Rebuilding comes later.

    Many Americans say we should never have attacked Iraq in the first place. Afghanistan is where the real enemy was. It's an argument historians will have to settle. But the piecemeal way this Iraq war has been fought has added to the injury on all sides.

    Perhaps the message to Mr. Bush, Congress, and the American people should be: If this fight is worth doing, if America truly has an unquestionable moral imperative to win, then wage it with everything you've got. Otherwise, why is America there?

  10. > If the war in Iraq is really worth fighting, then America should fight with everything it's got.

    This is an etnernal argument around here. IMO the key is in this sentence:

    > America and Britain didn't win WWII by building playgrounds and schools and setting up local governments.

    We aren't fighting world war II. There is no government to surrender and no uniformed enemy sitting in formations to be bombed. Guerilla war fare is different from conventional warfare, and has been through our entire history.

    The enemies we are fighting (Al Qaeda, Hezbollah, Taliban) do not use world war II tactics against us, yet no one claims they are holding back or fighting the wrong way. When the enemy fights that way, many in the west say they are strong, yet if we fight that way, we may be accused of being weak.

  11. One other interesting thing about world war II is that even dropping the atomic bombs wasn't enough to stop Japan from fighting. It took diplomacy. The Allies greatly feared having to fight street by street in Japan, like Iwo Jima, so they let the Japanese Emperor stay in power even though he did some of the same things as Hitler.

    The Emperor personally had to decide to surrender, and even then the Japanese Army twice revolted because some wanted to keep fighting. The Emperor personally helped put down the revolts.

  12. Inside the Green Zone

    BAGHDAD (Associated Press) -- A bomb exploded in the Iraqi parliament's cafeteria in a stunning assault in the heart of the heavily fortified, U.S.-protected Green Zone Thursday, killing at least two lawmakers and wounding 10 other people.

    The blast in the parliament building came hours after a suicide truck bomb blew up a major bridge in Baghdad, collapsing the steel structure and sending cars tumbling into the Tigris River, police and witnesses said. At least 10 people were killed.

    The bomb in parliament went off in a cafeteria while several lawmakers were eating lunch, media reports said. In addition to the two dead, state television said at least 10 people were wounded.

    Check out this piece of demo work, dropped that bridege just like they knew what they were doing.

  13. Wu Wei: The Emperor personally had to decide to surrender, and even then the Japanese Army twice revolted because some wanted to keep fighting.

    They wanted to keep fighting so bad that they even hatched a plot to kill the Emperor at the last moment, but it fell through. Which is, you know, a funny way to worship a divine being.

  14. Bob said:
    "In many developing countries, cell phone networks have developed rapidly, to the point where virtually everyone is walking around with a cell phone, and there are repeaters everywhere..."

    True, but not in Iraq. Cell phones were not available to the public. I cannot take shaving lotion on an airplane. I cannot use a cell phone in a US airport waiting for my bags to go through customs... The cell phone towers could have waited till the insurgency was over.

    "Should they have summarily killed unarmed personnel right in the street?"

    I will never argue with a man that is a better man than me in a situation like this.


    "We cannot discern the tactical situation based on the snippet provided in this article, so it is unwise to get one's blood pressure up over the fact that coaltion soldiers took control of two enemy combatants."

    I am beginning to hate Bob.


    "What eventually happens to these characters should be more of a concern (ie are they simply going to be released to fight again?)."

    Based on the past, they will get to take another shot and do it with a smile on their face.


    "There is plenty of lead flying and JDAMS dropping on in this war, despite fears to the contrary. But no one is going to kill their way to victory in Iraq, Afghanistan, or elsewhere in the war on terror. Not on THIS side of the proverbial battlefield, anyway,"

    That my friend would be a great start for a post and would be read with enthusiasm and would generate some interesting comments.

    Keep well.

  15. As in chess there are three basic phases to a War.
    Three basic phases of chess
    Opening = Invasion
    Middle game = Defeating the Enemies force
    Endgame = Final victory, reconstruction and reconciliation

    As is the case in chess and it seems, war, it is difficult against a competent opponent to skip the middle game.