“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."

Friday, April 06, 2007

Royal Navy, pre-gelding, when balls, booze and bravery brazenly ruled the waves.


By Kim Sengupta, The Independent

The British military were caught off guard when the service personnel was seized and they were taken by surprise again by the suddenness with which they were freed. But, behind the relief that the episode has ended peacefully, is the realisation that what happened has huge implications for the UK's presence in the Gulf.

An inquest is already under way into why no intelligence indicated that the sailors and marines were at risk, and into the weaknesses in the rules of engagement which allowed them to be captured with no resistance. Debate will also focus on whether the hostages should have allowed themselves to be paraded on television for propaganda purposes, and what they are told to do under such circumstances.

The wider question brought up by the hostage-taking concerns the challenges that British forces in Iraq, on land and water, can expect in an attritional confrontation with Iran. What happened in the Shatt al-Arab followed months of accusations by the US and UK that the Iranians have been supplying Shia militias in Iraq with sophisticated explosive devices which have claimed the lives of coalition troops.

The feeling is that more crises will follow. Admiral Sir Alan West, who has just left as head of the Royal Navy, told The Independent: " It is not just a military but very much a political matter as well. There will be a thorough debriefing of the service personnel who were taken prisoner, and a thorough analysis of lessons learnt. We had set up a system of communications with the Iranians on the Gulf but obviously, on this occasion, it did not work, and this is something we need to look at. The important matter is to decide how we interact with Iran."

Although British naval forces are in the Gulf under a United Nations mandate, they are not, despite some reports to the contrary, working under UN rules of engagement which have often been criticised for not being robust enough.

The coalition forces in Iraq have their own rules and the American ones differ from the British. Commander Erik Horner, of the US Navy, said: "Our rules of engagement allow a little more latitude. Our boarding team's training is a little bit more towards self-preservation." US personnel, said the commander, faced with the same situation as the British, would have opened fire.

For the British, a firefight was not a practical option. The two patrol ships that seized them had rocket-propelled grenades and heavy-calibre machine-guns. The British marines and sailors only had rifles.

Major-General Julian Thompson, who led the marines in the Falklands War, said: "We need to find out why there was nothing at hand to go to their rescue. We all have our views about the Iraq war - I have been publicly against it - but, if we are to put our forces in harm's way, then we must make a better job of looking after them."


  1. Here is the first guy who should be made to walk the plank:

    The head of the Royal Navy has today strongly defended the conduct of the 15 British personnel during their 13 days in captivity in Iran.

    Admiral Sir Jonathon Band, The First Sea Lord, said that he believed they had behaved with "considerable dignity and a lot of courage" during their time in Iranian hands.

    He said that "confessions" made by some of the group - including the only woman, Leading Seaman Faye Turney - appeared to have been made under "a certain amount of psychological pressure".

    Did the Iranians hold back clotted cream from the scones?

    Admiral Band also confirmed that the Navy had suspended all boarding operations in the northern Gulf while it carried out a "complete review" of the incident which led to them being seized.
    Good idea Admiral.

  2. We're seeing the very first rumblings of remorse in Britain for the very bad show their sailors put on, to the utter humiliation of Old Blighty before the watching eyes of the world. In the Pueblo Incident, American sailors were captured and photographed by the Norks, and many of them were brutally tortured after the Norks realized the pictures they were releasing contained images of the Americans subtly or not-so-subtly flipping them the bird. Even as late as the 1980s in Orlando, where women sailors undergo basic training, we were lectured on what was expected of us in the event of capture, and it was NOT rolling over with the enthusiasm we saw here.

  3. Re: The Haditha Scapegoating Affair (from previous thread)

    It is comforting to see people working together for the good of the country. Look at the example of Representative Murtha and media personality Hugh Hewitt. Both agree that the United States Marine Corps is corrupt.

  4. Allen bring that forward again and amplify please.

  5. allen's concerned about this
    this story where the defense of the Haditha Marines makes it's case against the Corps, since the Corps is making its' case against the Marines. The Defense is returning fire, finally given it's "Day in Court"

    Allen is sure of the Marines guilt, because they were charged ans there to fore considered guilty.

    His core trust in the Marines and justice system is being assualted by the realities of this case.

    Richard Thompson, the President and Chief Counsel of the Thomas More Law Center, expressed concern about this trend, “The government’s politicized quest to find wrongdoing in this case will ultimately harm the war effort, and it has already resulted in an incredible expenditure of time, money, and scarce resources, which could be better used fighting the terrorists.”

    Another officer who personally witnessed the scene of the attack shortly after the fighting and assisted with removing the civilian bodies from the insurgent-occupied homes, confirmed that there was no evidence of “executions” and that he saw no evidence of misconduct. This officer was testifying under a grant of immunity by the government, adding further credibility to his testimony.

    Lieutenant Colonel Shelburne, the military defense counsel who questioned this officer, noted, “This officer’s testimony is significant. He was on the scene shortly after the attack. He saw the location of the bodies. He personally observed the damage caused by the attack. And yet, he saw nothing that caused him to suspect any wrongdoing on the part of the Marines. Moreover, this officer was given immunity by the government, so the only way he can get in trouble is if he testifies untruthfully.”

    If there was not a mountain of evidence against the two LanceCpls they would not have been charged, as allen told US prior. They can be assumed guilty, as Mr Murtha did last year. Or presumed innocent as I've maintained.

    But if they are innocent, then the Corps and the investigators are guilty of excessive response, instead of the Haditha Marines.. A sticky wicket indeed.

  6. Those charged, and other witnesses say
    Key Haditha Witnesses: No Law of War Violations—No Cover-Up

    The Corps disagrees.
    Someone is in the wrong spot.

    To stand with those charged is to stand agaist the Corps.

  7. Gary Myers, a civilian attorney for a Marine who was with Wuterich that day, said the Marines followed standard operating procedures when they "cleared" the houses, using fragmentation grenades and gunshots to respond to an immediate threat.

    "I can confirm that that version of events is consistent with our position on this case," Myers said. "What this case comes down to is: What were the rules of engagement, and were they followed?"

    The defense attorneys said the rules of engagement -- which vary depending on the mission, level of danger and other factors -- are likely to become a central element of their cases because those rules guide how troops can use deadly force on the battlefield. One Marine official said such rules usually require positive identification of a target before shooting but noted that the rules are often circumstantial.

    "Once you go back over it, you have to determine if they applied the rules," the Marine official said, speaking on the condition of anonymity because the Marine Corps does not discuss rules of engagement. "Did they feel threatened? Did they perceive hostile intent or hostile action?"

    Could it all come down to "feelings"?

    Another view

    Feelings, nothing more than feelings,
    Trying to forget my feelings.
    Teardrops rolling down on my face,
    Trying to forget my feelings.

  8. Use of the frags must have been authorized, all the more so if the Marines were not issued "flash bangs" for their mission.

    SWAT uses flash bangs, no fragmentation. Not lethal force.

    Did the Haditha Marines have that option, did they have nonlethal weapons to complete the mission, provided by the Corps?

    I think not, but ...

  9. Some Euros will fight to the death for the honor of the home soccer team.

    Another violent night for Euro soccer

    Of course, innocent bystanders are unarmed. That does, apparently make a difference.

  10. DR,

    re: Haditha

    You are a liar.

  11. Deuce,

    re: Haditha

    Mr. Murtha "convicted" the Marines prior to the release of the investigation's results.

    Now that those results have indicated probable cause for charges to be laid, Mr. Hewitt et al are attacking the integrity of the Marine Corps.

    The Courts Martial will be the finders of fact.

  12. Support the Marines,
    They're always guilty until proven innocent if Murtha says so and W Gelding remains mute.

  13. Rat:
    You should have told your son to knock, or ring the doorbell, introduce himself, and ask if he could look around before entering.

  14. Probable Cause =
    Any charge leveled by the opposition not answered by W.
    ie, any charge leveled by the opposition.
    Libby Must Hang!

  15. Mr Murtha and Mr Warner and another Republican were all briefed by the Marines, at the same time.

    All three came out and said the Marines were guilty.

    As did you, last week.

    All based upon the same Trust in the system.

  16. The other Republican quickly issued a public apology when requested to do so by Wutterich.

  17. (the other Republican being an ex-Marine)

  18. Did Yon/Kurilla have flashbangs?

  19. All I remember is the spinning, levitating, Propane tank.

  20. UK captives tell of ill treatment BBC

    The Royal Navy crew have been giving a press conference.

    Royal Navy personnel seized by Iran were blindfolded, bound and held in isolation during their 13 days in captivity, the crew have said.
    They were also subject to random interrogation and rough handling, and faced constant psychological pressure.

    In a joint statement the crew also stressed that they were inside Iraqi waters at the time of the capture.

    Royal Marine Captain Chris Air said it became apparent that opposing their captors was "not an option."

    "If we had, some of us would not be here today, of that I am completely sure," he said.

    "We realised that had we resisted there would have been a major fight, one we could not have won and with consequences major strategic impacts.

    "We made a conscious decision not to engage the Iranians and do as they asked," he said.

    The crew said they spent nights in stone cells, sleeping on piles of blankets and were kept in isolation until their last few nights.

    They were also lined up against a wall while weapons were cocked, making them "fear the worst".

  21. The possibility exists that I may have shot my big mouth off too soon, based on what the BBC is reporting. I can only promise it will likely happen again and I will regret it again as i do now and have done so in the past, if in fact it is proven that I did so in fact actually shoot my big mouth off.

  22. Deuce,
    None of that could be true.
    It would reflect poorly on the integrity of Pelosi, Baby Doc, and Iwannajihad.
    Don't attact their integrity like that.
    (attack that of those in harm's way)

  23. DR,

    re: As did you, last week.

    You should be able, then, to prove that. Otherwise, you are a liar.

    In retrospect, however, I am willing to entertain the possibility that you are a delusional crank.

  24. May. 28, 2006
    John Kline, a retired Marine colonel and Republican Congressman:

    "This was a small number of Marines who fired directly on civilians and killed them."
    "This is going to be an ugly story."

    "There's no doubt that the Marines allegedly involved in doing this—they lied about it. They certainly tried to cover it up."

  25. Mr. Snerdley:
    Man w/wrong testicle (the one w/o cancer) removed could still have a future:
    He could run as a Republican!

  26. Its there in the archives, shall we all look together.

    When did we last discuss Haditha, with you explaining how guilt could be presumed upon arrest?

    What thread was that, anyone recall?

  27. 2007 Q2 FReepathon. Target: $70,000 Receipts & Pledges to-date: $8,273

    Thank you all very much!!

    Congressman makes apology to Haditha marines
    Reuters ^ | 18 August 2006 | Will Dunham

    Posted on 08/18/2006 9:28:33 AM PDT by chcknhawk

    WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A U.S. lawmaker apologized on Tuesday to U.S. Marines under investigation in the deaths of two dozen Iraqi civilians in Haditha in a statement his office said spared him from a libel lawsuit.

    Minnesota Republican Rep. John Kline, a retired Marine Corps colonel, issued a three-paragraph statement under a deal with lawyers for Staff Sgt. Frank Wuterich, one of the Marines under investigation.

    Wuterich's lawyers filed a libel lawsuit against another congressman, Democratic Rep. John Murtha of Pennsylvania, on August 2 following his comments on the case.
    (Excerpt) Read more at ...

  28. Murtha won't have to apoligize:
    This is BUSH JUSTICE.
    Dems held harmless,
    (by Clintonista leftoversbyBUSH)

  29. In another article, it becomes clear that, besides the cocking of weapons during the first day, the major threat against the British prisoners was that they would be jailed for 7 years. One captive called their treatment "humane". They were blindfolded and kept in isolation most of the time.

    The prisoners would seem to have broken the US Code of Conduct, but I don't know if/what the British rules are.

    British Soldiers Faced Jail

  30. Scotish Fart Joke:
    This poem is appropriate for reading to an audience shortly after they have eaten the haggis - you will need an audience with a sense of humour!

    Oh what a sleekit horrible beastie
    Lurks in yer belly efter the feastie
    Just as ye sit doon among yer kin
    There sterts to stir an enormous wind.

    The neeps and tatties and mushy peas
    Stert workin like a gentle breeze
    But soon the puddin wi the sauncie face
    Will have ye blawin’ all ower the place.

    Nae matter whit the hell ye dae
    A’bodys gonnae have tae pay

  31. Wu,
    Panties on Head far worse.

  32. ...the rest of us manly men would not be bothered by a loaded pistol at our temple.

  33. "The sole woman among the group, Faye Turney, was kept isolated for several days and told by her captors that the others had been freed and gone home."

  34. (doubt that she made that up out of whole cloth.)

  35. I would never claim that I would act differently, since I've never been a POW.

    I do notice that some past POWs behaved differently, such as the crew of the US Pueblo.

    Pueblo Incident

    Those past POWs usually ended up writing a confession too, often after weeks of torture. However, they seemed to manage to send a message of resistance while they were making their "confession".

    The crew of the Pueblo sent a message by using a gesture they told their captors was the "Hawaiian Luck Charm" doing every photograph taken of them., something more commonly called giving their captors the finger.

    Hawaiian Luck Charm

    They also inserted bogus language in their "confession", so much so that it became a joke on their captors. Other POWs in other situations, and civilian prisoners, showed resistance while reading confessions by talking stiffly, saying the words improperly, and with weird cadence.

    This is part of one Pueblo confession:

    The absolute truth of this bowel wrenching confession is attested to by my fervent desire to paean the Korean People’s Army Navy, and their government and to beseech the Korean people to forgive our dastardly deeds unmatched since Attila. I therefore swear the following account to be true on the sacred honor of the Great Speckled Bird...

    Our first stop was Hawaii where I visited the kingpin of all provocateurs, including spies. None other than Fleet General Barney Google...

    He talked haltingly with me but persuasively about our forthcoming mission. "By God, Bucher, I want you to get in there and be elusive, spy them out, spy out their water, look sharp for signs of electronic saline water traps. You will be going to spy out the DPRK. By the sainted General Bullmoose we must learn why they are so advanced in the art of people’s defense."...

    In so doing we had traversed Operation Areas Mars, Venus, and Pluto so named because like the planets, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea is really far out...

    In summation, we who have been rotating upon the fickle finger of fate for such long languid months give our word to the Great Speckled Bird that we will heretofor in all sincerity cleanse ourselves of rottenness and vituperations. We solemnly await our return to our loved ones so that the fickle finger can be replaced by the rosy fingers of dawn and salvation. So help me, Hanna.

  36. doug,

    re: WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A U.S. lawmaker apologized on Tuesday to U.S. Marines under investigation in the deaths of two dozen Iraqi civilians in Haditha in a statement his office said spared him from a libel lawsuit.

    Has the Marine Corps apologized for bringing charges?

  37. I think the British Officers could argue they made a gamble by cooperating with the Iranians, and it paid off. The hostages are free, have renounced everthing they said, so it isn't clear what propaganda value the so-called confession has.

  38. re: SERE

    This is a commendable program. Ultimately, however, it is no better than the government's conviction to care for its own. When troops believe themselves abandoned, no amount of training will compensate. The action of the British government and its troops is instructive.

  39. To be clear, it is my understanding that the commander of the British frigate did not have authority to fire in defense of either his personnel or his ship without prior approval of the Admiralty. How do you train for that?

  40. I guess the big question is "How much did the West give up to get the hostages back?" Now that the Brits have renounced their confession, the PR value from it is mostly gone. The Iranians still scored points for the capture.

    Both sides claim there was no deal, yet one Iranian prisoner was already released and the US already agreed to Red Cross visits for the other 5 prisoners, and maybe Iranian government visits too.

  41. Iran's risky adventure was smartly designed but poorly executed. There seems to be a gap between the architects of the plan (both inside and outside Iran) and the poor way Ahmedinejad executed it. For at first, Iran was successful in steering the debate away from the UN sanctions. But then, by executing a grotesque masquerade, Tehran was on the verge of disaster. This is when the advisors quickly suggested a remedy: Move to Plan B as quickly as possible. The abrupt twist had the added bonus of shielding Iran from any repercussions from the international community. If the mullahs were a bit smarter and bit less ideological, they may have been able to execute the plan as designed and gain valuable time to distract the world from its real goals: regional hegemony, nuclear capability, etc. But as we saw, while the advisors can work miracles, the stultified thinking of the mullahs can mess up even the best-laid plans.

    Now that Tehran has ended the first act of its international circus, it's time for the Act II."

    Professor Walid Phares is the author of the recently released book, The War of Ideas: Jihadism against Democracies. He is a senior fellow at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies and a visiting scholar at the European Foundation for Democracy.

  42. This fellow seems to have an open mind, but does not give credit to Mr Bush's ability to "make News".

    By announcing Success today, with a targeted date of Mission hand off.
    Claim Victory, like the Brits did, and renegotiate, both domesticly and with the Iraqi, the next generation of cooperation.

    Take the wind out of the Democrats sails and give US a specific Goal to achieve, in 8 months.

    Instead STEVE HUNTLEY sees Mr Bush as a passenger on a ship, not its' Captain.

    " ... how can you achieve significant progress in the battle zone when the homefront is at war over the war? In this media-obsessed world, our enemies in Iraq know that a humiliating defeat of the mighty United States is merely months away if they can frustrate the surge strategy. To say that is not to question the patriotism of the war's opponents. Robust and responsible debate is fundamental to democracy. Still, not even the most ardent opponent of the war can deny that insurgents in Iraq find cause for encouragement in our divisive debate.

    Regrettably, debate may no longer be the proper characterization for the ever-increasingly acrimonious exchanges in Washington, with the president saying the other day that Democrats have "undercut the troops" and Senate President Harry Reid saying that Bush is not a king. Even this rancor may pale in comparison to the recriminations and backbiting that could follow a disgraceful final chapter of U.S. involvement in Iraq. Remember how long the bitterness over Vietnam has lingered, those old wounds even emerging to roil the waters of the 2004 presidential election, to the detriment of Democrats.

    Some anti-war optimists assert that an American withdrawal would force Shia and Sunni to come to terms, that it's the American presence that keeps the violence going. Defenders of our engagement say withdrawal would only lead to more bloodshed, a wider civil war and genocide. Many Americans no doubt are beyond caring about post-America Iraq; they just want us out.

    Which brings us back to the president and the Democrats. What will be Bush's choices come Labor Day if Petraeus has been unable to deliver results that any reasonable person would see as progress? Will Republican defections force his hand on an Iraqi withdrawal? And what will Democrats do if Petraeus does deliver, if any reasonable person can conclude by late summer that the tide is beginning to turn in Iraq? Can the anti-war wing of the party be forced to yield to what then would be the best interests of the country in a continuing U.S. miliary role in Iraq?

    Take Command, set a Goal and tell General P to get it done. Make that, the Hand Off, the issue.
    Support it or you are "off the Team". Draw a line.

    The "Hand off" would not require immediate withdraw, but a committment to it. Which will have to come, eventually, regardless.

  43. Option 1:
    General P can deliver success,
    the US eventually leaves.
    Option 2:
    General P cannot deliver success,
    the US eventually leaves.

    General McCaffery plans on a 36 month timeline to withdrawl. What are the other viable action plans on the table.

    How much longer than that will the US public give the Iraqi to civily reconcile?

    We should fashion a Policy that takes those two post surge options into consideration.

  44. Who do we provide with that list of military hardware that will be required to secure Iraq?

    That is, always has been the question. The President answered the question years ago, but is unhappy with the outcome.
    Hezzbollah writ large.

    As Mr Rumsfeld said, oh a year or more ago.
    " If we leave now, it'll be worse than Saddam. ".

    But if we do not leave, as promised, the House of Cards built on the Homefront will collapse. Especially if the "Surge" is a success, and if the Iraqi reconcile, then we have leave.

    If they do not reconcile, we stay forever, or until they do? What poitico suggests that?
    Many of the GOPers will bail out on the good ship Bush.

    But not if he delares success and then creates it.

  45. > Many Americans no doubt are beyond caring about post-America Iraq; they just want us out.

    In many ways that makes sense. The one reason we fight is for self defense. We should not fight Iraq for the sake of Iraq, but for our own interests.

    I think Bush needs to make his case for which parts of the current Iraq War are necessary for the self-defense of the United States. If Bush puts the full weight of the Presidency behind saying that leaving Iraq will cause another 9/11, the Democrats will need to respond.

    History has already shown though that it is not enough for Bush to just say "All of the Iraqi War is part of the war on terror, so we need to keep fighting it." It's way too late for that. Bush needs to argue piece by piece.

    To me, the case for staying however long is necessary to help clear Al Qaeda out would be easy for Bush to make. The majority of Sunni tribes in Anbar have now requested assistance from the US in removing the foreign invaders, Al Qaeda, from their territory. (The Iraqi Insurgency has even publicly requested bin Laden that he pull Al Qaeda out of their area!) Given that 9/11 was launched by Al Qaeda from a base camp in which they trained the terrorists who killed Americans, it would seem very tough for the Democrats to argue that we should just walk away.

    Whether and how we fight in the Iraqi Sunni / Shiite war is another issue. Bush needs to make his choice to Congress and the people instead of simply trying to force the issue. The thing is that there are more choices than fighting the whole war ourselves, or pulling out entirely.

  46. I think that is the whole point which the debate in Washington is missing. Americans will fight forever if it can be proved to be necessary for self defense.

    The problem now is that even if I believe it, after years of the Democrats claiming otherwise, a large percentage of the population is doubting that we need to fight all of the Iraq War in order to protect ourselves.

    The Democrats know this so they never argue that 9/11 doesn't matter or that we shouldn't prevent another 9/11. Instead they say that the Iraq War is a civil war, and if we leave, no harm will come to us. In fact the Democrats always leave a provisio in their bills that as many troops can stay in Iraq as are necessary to fight terrorism.

  47. A handful of foreign fighters
    (500+) --- and a couple of thousand Al Qaeda operatives
    incite open factional struggle through suicide bombings which target Shia holy places and innocent civilians. Thousands of attacks target US Military Forces (2900 IED’s) a month---
    primarily stand off attacks with IED’s, rockets, mortars, snipers, and mines from both Shia (EFP attacks are a primary casualty producer) ---and Sunni (85% of all attacks---80% of US deaths—16% of Iraqi population.)...
    In total, enemy insurgents or armed sectarian militias (SCIRI, JAM, Pesh Merga, AQI, 1920’s Brigade, et. al.) probably exceed 100,000 armed fighters. These non-government armed bands are in some ways more capable of independent operations than the regularly constituted ISF. They do not depend fundamentally on foreign support for their operations.
    Most of their money, explosives, and leadership are generated inside Iraq. The majority of the Iraqi population (Sunni and Shia) support armed attacks on American forces.

    Although we have arrested 120,000 insurgents (hold 27,000) and killed some huge number of enemy combatants (perhaps 20,000+) --- the armed insurgents, militias, and Al Qaeda in Iraq without fail apparently re-generate both leadership cadres and foot soldiers. Their sophistication, numbers, and lethality go up--- not down--- as they incur these staggering battle losses...
    5th: The equipment and resources for the Iraqi Security Forces has increased dramatically. The ISF has planned 2007 expenditures of more than $7.3 billion. The Ministry of Defense and the Ministry of the Interior are the only two of 27 Iraqi Ministries that have executed their budgets at 90% plus satisfactory rates. (General Petraeus is now putting US Military liaison officers in ten additional civilian Ministries to jump start their budget process.) PM Maliki has pushed to create a larger security force of more than 100,000 Iraqi Army troops. Thousands (3500) of armored Humvee’s, Cougar and BTR-80 light wheeled armored vehicles (500+) , and other equipment (3500 RPG’s, 1400 heavy machine guns, 900+ mortars, 80+ helicopters) are now flowing into the force. To my great surprise, the Iraqis are using FMS Sales to execute their capital expenditure program with great effect. This includes transition to all US small arms for M4 Carbine and M16A2 rifle. (They will continue to use Soviet type machine guns.) The ISF training system is beginning to work effectively with their own trainers. (However, there are still requirements for the more than 5000+ US military and contract police trainers). The Iraqi training base is cranking out 24,000 soldiers a year from 5 Regional and two national training bases. More than 12 Police Academies are producing 26,000 new police a year. The end goal will be an Iraqi security force of more than 370,000 Police and Army--- organized in 120 battalions.
    The democratic control of Congress and its vocal opposition can actually provide a helpful framework within which our brilliant new Ambassador Ryan Crocker can maneuver the Maliki administration to understand their diminishing options. It is very unlikely that the US political opposition can constitutionally force the President into retreat. However, our next President will only have 12 months or less to get Iraq straight before he/she is forced to pull the plug. Therefore, our planning horizons should assume that there are less than 36 months remaining of substantial US troop presence in Iraq. The insurgency will continue in some form for a decade. This suggests the fundamental dilemma facing US policymakers.
    The US Armed Forces cannot sustain the current deployment rate. ...

    Barry R. McCaffrey, General USA (Ret). Adjunct Professor of International Affairs, USMA, West Point, NY

  48. Posted below is incredibly good news from an Iraqi blogger. Victory is within our grasp, if only we can see it. History will never forgive Bush or anyone else who makes us miss this, by focusing on the "civil war" instead.

    Iraq the Model talks below about the Iraqi Resistance to Al Qaeda. The Sunnis in Anbar have captured Qaeda documents showing Al Qaeda monitoring and killing Sunnis civilians.

    Iraq the Model reports that the revolt against Al Qaeda is going full tilt. Even with frequent suicide bombings, the lines of Anbar Sunnis joining the Iraqi Security Forces are said to be longer than those in Baghdad!

    History would never forgive the Democrats if their pacifism makes them leave Al Qaeda in power in Iraq. History would never forgive Bush if his goal of fighting other wars in Iraq ends up preventing us from clearing Al Qaeda out of Iraq.

    This is the most clear cut opportunity to fight Al Qaeda since Afghanistan. It has now transformed into a situation like Afghanistan, where the locals are now willing to work with us if the focus is to clear out Al Qaeda.

    In the west, particularly in Anbar, the Anbar Awakening Council announced the capture of what appears to be an intelligence treasure. This is what sheik Hameed al-Hayis, a member of the Council told al-Sabah yesterday:

    We captured so many of their document and these contain the names of al-Qaeda groups in the province, the letters that were exchanged among those groups, the surveillance reports they were filing to their Emirs about civilian people of Ramadi like clerics and college students as well as details of trials [and executions] to which innocents were subjected.

    The al-Qaeda terrorists in Anbar continue their campaign to terrorize the population that is turning against them. This morning another attack with a chlorine gas bomb struck western Ramadi killing and injuring dozens of civilians and policemen.
    No wonder al-Qaeda is sending more of their suicide bombers to murder the people of Anbar; a friend of mine who visited the area just two days ago said he saw a crowd of young men near an ISF recruiting center that was "larger than anything else I had seen in Baghdad"


  49. As quoted in

    An e-mail from a Marine friend in Iraq:

    Classification: UNCLASSIFIED


    Things are changing out here and for the better. Our leaders out here have engaged with the tribal sheikhs that run the province and the tide seems to be turning in Al Anbar. Al Qaeda Iraq (AQI) has launched some truly horrific attacks on the population lately and most Iraqis have had enough. I know this may sound like pie in the sky, but we're starting to see very positive developments all around. This opinion column is pretty fair and it highlights probably Anbar's most powerful sheikh.

    I was talking to an Iraqi today and I told him "hey, let us rebuild your country. Look what it did for Germany and Japan." He replied, "Yes, I think some of the Iraqis here are finally starting to realize that.

  50. > Iraq the Model seems to be a propaganda organ.

    He definitely has an opinion. He's a Sunni and shows it. However, reading the blog over the months shows he really is just a guy in Baghdad, as he says. I also believe the picture of US troops in his house, posing with four of his family, is legitimate. (March 30th - Midnight Company)

  51. I hope ITM hasn't revealed his identity, which could be one reason he hasn't been killed.

    As for his English, it looks very much like one would expect from a non-native speaker: "In fact the correlation between the two main extremist groups is some sort of catch 22, though it really isn't." and "And the hundreds of suicide bombers preferred to blow themselves up in Iraq than anywhere else should remind us that if al-Qaeda considers this the main war then why talk about redeployment?".

    I just can't buy the propaganda story. No organization would spend over two years pretending to be one person, and yet never strongly push any ideology. I don't even know what organization he could be representing. He is Sunni, but doesn't support Al Qaeda, Baathists, or Sunni clerical rule. He also doesn't favor Sadr's group, and doesn't show any hatred of Shiites.

    The most important thing though is that the point about Anbar rebelling against Al Qaeda has been confirmed by many sources, including the Marine I quoted, and the DOD websites.

  52. Bobal complains about US tearing each other apart, then proceeds to try to tear ITM apart!
    Jeeze, Bobal!!!

  53. (where did he git that english?)
    Bobal thinks they're all barbarians!
    The Secular ones are real humans, Bobal!
    ITM are dentists,]
    (Just like Mat)
    ...course he IS kind of weird.

    "To me, the case for staying however long is necessary to help clear Al Qaeda out would be easy for Bush to make. The majority of Sunni tribes in Anbar have now requested assistance from the US in removing the foreign invaders, Al Qaeda, from their territory. (The Iraqi Insurgency has even publicly requested bin Laden that he pull Al Qaeda out of their area!) Given that 9/11 was launched by Al Qaeda from a base camp in which they trained the terrorists who killed Americans, it would seem very tough for the Democrats to argue that we should just walk away."

    Well said, Wu,
    Now try to convince old Blockhead Bobal, the Swedish Farmer!

  54. For Bobal, it's either the Birds, Bees, Flowers, and trees, (and all the kind members of the fairer sex) or Nuke Mecca!

  55. don't you start picking on bobal, hulahead.

  56. :-)
    ...guy sounds like VDH on Acid.
    ...those Swedes!

  57. OT, I need a crossbow with a night vision scope and laser spotter? Anyone have any reccomendations? We have some pretty scary visitors here and one of you should be quite expert on these things.

  58. Iraq Report III

    This looks like a very nice and detailed report about Iraqis turning against Al Qaeda = "the Awakening".

    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...

  59. Now if we had a great Propaganda Arm...
    (Instead it's Bush kissing Teddy's or the MSM's ass in hopes that they'll play nice next time.)

  60. A wry sense of humor:

    April 1 '71 happens to be my b-date. This year it occurred on the evening prior pessah.

    According to John’s gospel Jesus ate a last supper with his closest disciples on the evening of the beginning of the 14th of Nisan–which would be equivalent to April 1 in 2007. Late that night, following the meal, the company retreated to an olive grove garden called Gethsemane at the foot of the Mt. of Olives. Jesus was arrested, and went through a series of appearances before the Roman governor Pontius Pilate. These procedures stretched into the morning hours. Jesus was condemned to die by crucifixion, scourged, and was put on the cross by 9am on the morning of the 14th. He was dead before dusk.

  61. "We Were Blindfolded, Bound And Stripped "

  62. Addressed to Trish on the previous thread:

    As for Britain's government, perhaps the harshest comments issued during the entire fiasco came from British Health Secretary Patricia Hewitt. The object of her ire? Prisoner Turney's smoking. "It was deplorable," Hewitt tut-tutted. "This sends completely the wrong message to our young people."

    Not exactly. Being taken prisoner, forced to "confess" to a noncrime and humiliated before the entire world is what's "deplorable." Smoking's a bad habit.
    Is The Sun Starting To Set?

  63. Mat 16:17

    Jesus answered and said unto him,
    Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona:
    for flesh and blood hath not revealed it
    unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven.

    Simon Bar Yonah

    The ossuary was found in 1953 on the Mt. of Olives by the the Franciscan Fr. Bagatti.

    “Does Father Bagatti (co-writer of the book in Italian on the subject, and archaeologist) really believe that those are the bones of St. Peter?” “Yes, he does,” was the reply. Then I asked, “But what does the Pope think of all this?” That was a thousand dollar question and he gave me a million dollar answer. “Well,” he confidentially answered in a hushed voice, “Father Bagatti told me personally that three years ago he went to the Pope (Pius XII) in Rome and showed him the evidence and the Pope said to him, ‘Well, we will have to make some changes, but for the time being, keep this thing quiet’.” In awe I asked also in a subdued voice, “So the Pope really believes that those are the bones of St. Peter?” “Yes,” was his answer. “The documentary evidence is there, he could not help but believe.”

  64. I don't know which way is right. The courage of the Pueblo crew awes me every time I think of it. Yet most of those heroes suffered from medical problems for the rest of their lives. Was it right for our country to ask for that sacrifice just to prevent a confession which no one would have believed anyway?

    Yesterday I felt some of the British soldiers had endangered their peers by giving in too much to the Iranians. Yet today those Brits are free, and say they just fooled the Iranians by pretending. If a sailor is on TV Monday groveling to the enemy, he looks bad. Yet if on Tuesday he is home saying he just fooled the enemy, who lost?

    I suspect the majority feel some of the young British prisoners went too far. But I don't know how much we should ask of our soldiers who are taken prisoner.

  65. One of the Pueblo crew today said he wasn't bothered by anything which the British captives did. He said that the prisoner does what he needs to survive.

  66. The guys on the Pueblo had an unfair advantage:

  67. "but my Father which is in heaven."
    Is that some kind of New-Age Grammar?

  68. This comment has been removed by the author.

  69. Doug,

    As far as I can tell from other sources, the father is some kind of an art figure..

  70. I like Art.
    You look kind of like an art figure yourself.
    ...or the Cedars...

  71. Thanks, Doug.
    But I prefer Larsen's description:

    Really an angel -- even if temporarily twisted into a monstrous reptilicus from the darkest swamps of hell.

  72. But you might be on to something, Doug. Some Cedars are classified as Pinaceae.

  73. Yes, especially the Sequoias. They grow very tall, but they will never live as long as "Methuselah".

  74. You're not a star until they can spell your name in Karachi.

  75. I saw a video of Kashmir:
    Blew my mind how cool it once was.
    Then came the Muslims.

  76. A handful of foreign fighters
    (500+) --- and a couple of thousand Al Qaeda operatives ...

    There are more aQ in Pakistan than in Iraq, there are more in Algeria.

    Then there is Somalia and Sudan. Both have an aQ presence.
    France, England and Germany, too.

    At a ratio of 150,000 to 2,500, we need a lot more guys wearing boots.

  77. Damn!
    Wu had me dreamin pretty good in my sleep deprived state.