“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

Special relationships come and go. Interests do not.

The special relationship between The United Kingdom and the United States is dead. Long live the special relationship.

It never was a bed of roses. There were always differences, some petty, others profound. Like an old marriage, it was never about romance. It was always business and hard cold self-interest. It is based upon language and history but mostly it is about reality and shared values.

The haters, mostly on the British side, will note all the reasons why there should not be a special relationship. On the American side is the condescension that Britain is no longer relevant. Nothing new there, but it is based on the condescension and the acrimony that the relationship will endure. Why, because there will always be a crisis that cannot be ignored, and Britain and the US simply have no one else to turn to for support. That support will not be based upon sentimentality.

Simply stated neither country will be given the luxury of not needing each other. In some future time and place the need will be obvious. The sad fact is that beyond the US and the UK, there is not a very deep bench of countries that can provide the courage and leadership to rally people of good will to the right cause and to do the right thing.

The Telegraph examines some recent causes and responses that were questionable:

How Britain came to this sorry pass

Last Updated: 12:01am BST 12/04/2007

Looking back over a decade of Blairite foreign policy is to descry a lopsided arch.

It climbed upwards first through support for the ousted president of Sierra Leone, a commitment that would result in military intervention in 2000. It rose further as Tony Blair persuaded Washington to intervene in Kosovo in 1999, and again when the American-led invasion of Afghanistan drove the Taliban from power in 2001. It reached its apogee with the overthrow of Saddam Hussein in 2003, though that success carried the seeds of a decline that has left Britain wielding even less international influence today than it did under John Major.

Iraq has proved the stumbling-block for the doctrine of pre-emptive action espoused by George W. Bush and Mr Blair. In seeking to enforce it, both men were misleading about Saddam's weapons of mass destruction and have been guilty of crass mismanagement of the occupation, the disbanding of the army without adequate compensatory deployment of coalition troops being the outstanding example. Preoccupation with Iraq led to neglect of Afghanistan, which has allowed the resurgence of the Taliban, a mistake for which Nato-led forces are now paying a high price.

Close association with America over Iraq has severely dented Britain's prestige in the world, and the Blair Government's popularity at home. Over the past few weeks, both have sunk to new depths thanks to incompetent patrolling by the Royal Navy in the Gulf, the readiness of the arrested sailors and Marines to do what the Iranians wanted, and the shocking decision, soon rescinded, to allow them to sell their stories. If you want to know why this country has become a laughing-stock, look no further than the reaction of the Government to this disgraceful episode.

Des Browne said yesterday that he had been asked only to "note" the Royal Navy's decision to allow the seized Servicemen to publish, but had not been entirely content with the reasons given. Lawyerly weasel-words from the Defence Secretary, and silence from the man who would be Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, and not a resignation in sight.

Mr Blair expounded his "doctrine of international community" in Chicago in April 1999, during Nato's air war against Serbia. It was an emotive appeal to America to choose internationalism over isolationism and, given the horrors of ethnic cleansing, was none the worse for that. But what the Prime Minister has signally neglected in his zeal for pre-emptive action is to provide Britain with the military means to bring it to a successful conclusion. Under strength and poorly equipped, the Armed Forces have been stretched to the limit, and their prospects look no rosier under Mr Blair's successor, whoever that may be. Labour has traded on the professionalism of the men and women in uniform to grandstand on the international stage, and that cynical attitude has now caught up with it.

Blame for the sorry decline in Britain's standing rests squarely with the Prime Minister, who has run foreign affairs from Number 10. The corollary of that concentration of power has been a series of exceptionally weak ministerial appointments, from Jack Straw and Margaret Beckett at the Foreign Office to Geoff Hoon and Des Browne at Defence. Three reports published this week - by the charity Oxfam, the Oxford Research Group and the International Committee of the Red Cross - have analysed why Labour's foreign policy has proved counter-productive.

Their findings come at a time when Iranian nuclear ambitions remain unchecked, Vladimir Putin's Russia becomes ever bolshier and our troops are overstretched in Afghanistan and Iraq. A re-examination of the doctrine of pre-emptive action, a substantial strengthening of the Armed Forces and the appointment of principled, competent ministers are the minimum needed if this situation is to be reversed.


  1. It looks like Al Qaeda tried a 48 hour burst of world wide terror, probably so they could say "we're back" or "we're still here".

    It wasn't a clean win because the good guys stopped & lessened the impact of some attacks:

    Iraq bridge - AQ got it. Don't know if they were aiming at someone in particular, if so he got away.

    Iraq parliament - AQ only got a small part of what it wanted. It did succeed in penetrating the Green Zone, but probably because of extra patrols that day, apparently because of good intelligence, AQ hit the wrong room. As an Iraqi minister said, they hit a mostly empty cafeteria with two members of parliament in it, but it they had hit the assembly hall and done it a few minutes earlier, they could have taken out most of the parliament.

    Algeria bombing - I haven't read the details. Sounds like AQ got most of what it wanted.

    Aghanistan Taliban surge - The good guys won. A bunch of Taliban attacked Afghan forces, who held them off by themselves, then called in air support to finish the job. 35 AQ dead.

    Unknown - We can never know which attacks failed because of terrorist mistakes or were aborted because security was too good.

  2. What intel source indicates thaat either the bridge attack or the Green Zone bombing were aQ operations?

  3. Every other group in Iraq is peace-loving, so it must have been Al Qaeda. (Al Sadr's group is on vacation waiting for the surge to die down.)

  4. Here's one more. An Al Qaeda terrorist crocodile struck in Taiwan, but they managed to put the victim back together.

    Crocodile Bites Off Zoo Worker's Arm in Taiwan

    A zoo worker had his forearm reattached Thursday after his colleagues recovered the severed limb from the mouth of a 440-pound Nile crocodile, an official said.

  5. Maybe I guessed right, even if not all those events were connected.

    Al Qaeda Spring Offensive

    Officials: Algerian Bombing Is First Wave of New Al Qaeda "Spring Offensive"

    A terrorist bombing in Algeria today that claimed 30 lives is just the opening strike of a broad "Spring Offensive" by al Qaeda, which plans to use a newly-expanded network of operatives to strike targets throughout Southern Europe and North Africa, according to French and Algerian intelligence sources.

    French intelligence officials tell ABC News they have recently increased to 45 the number of terrorist cells they have identified operating in their country, and that they have been on "high alert" for several months. Algerian intelligence sources likewise say they believe "dozens" of terrorist cells linked to an Al Qaeda affiliate have been deployed throughout North Africa...

    According to French and Algerian intelligence officials, Algerian jihadis like these, veterans of the fight against U.S. forces in Iraq, are central to the offensive, which has been planned for months and is believed to target locations in France, Italy, Spain, Morocco, Tunisia and Algeria. A French intelligence official told ABC News that counterterrorism authorities in his country have been on high alert for several months.

  6. When I said old, i should have said pre-romantic.

  7. Funny, lord, that a fellow that went to both Harvard and Yale is not considered either sophisticated nor elitist. The grandson of a US Senator, son of a President, a scion of "Down East" gentry is portrayed as just another one of us.

    When, ideed, it is a marvelous job of marketing and packaging of an uncommon elitist as a "common man".

    Mr Bush is many things, but a "fool" has never been one of them. The reality of it is, if he was a "fool" there'd be an excuse for where he's led the Country. For the Wilsonian foreign policy,
    for the open borders, the expanding role of Government, for the terrorist sanctuaries, and a War without Goals.
    But Mr Bush is no fool, so the functions of the Federal Government are either beyond control, or he's done it on purpose.

    As Mr Bush said of Iranian leadership, which would be worse, that he knew and approved, or he doesn't control the situation?

  8. When things like this occur:
    WASHINGTON (Associated Press) -- A man serving prison time for fraud told Congress Thursday that using stolen identities to apply for tax refunds was "an easy way to make money quickly."

    "The system in my eyes is inviting criminals like myself to steal from the IRS, banks, et cetera," Evangelos Dimitros Soukas said in testimony before the Senate Finance Committee.

    Soukas, 28, serving nearly eight years in prison for defrauding the government, banks and individuals of $1.1 million, said he was puzzled why the Internal Revenue Service doesn't require PIN numbers or use of a mother's maiden name when filing electronically or seeking information from IRS call centers.
    In a heated exchange, Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus, D-Mont., asked IRS Commissioner Mark Everson why he didn't carry out Soukas' suggestions. Turning to Soukas, Baucus said his criminal acts were "not a mark of your accomplishment. It's a mark of the government's failure to protect taxpayers."

    Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, top Republican on the panel, also faulted the IRS, saying it was "not reaching out to help the taxpayers who fall victim, but is instead interrogating them as though they were the crooks."

    Soukas' testimony took place only after a U.S. district judge on Tuesday rejected a Justice Department argument that the committee had no right to ask a federal judge to order a federal prisoner to appear before the legislative body.

    Prisoners have testified at hearings in the past and committee lawyers said this was the first time they'd heard such an argument. "Justice is doing several things that are baffling," Baucus said in apparent reference to the dispute over the department's firing of prosecutors. "That's just one of them."

    Just whose ass was the Justice Dept. trying to cover?

  9. "We here focus on the moral relatavism, cynicism and nihilism of our elites, but look at what the Islamofascists are offering: death and repression.

    George Bush get tagged an idiot for saying it, but ultimately freedom WILL have a lot more takers than Sharia. Reagan was similiarly branded a moron when he spoke to parliment and predicted that Communism would soon wind up on the ash heap of history. Sometimes the "fool" possesses an insight into the truth that sophisticates are oblivious to."

    You are correct.

  10. American policy and the global war against al Qaeda, associated groups and nations that support them—Iran and Syria—are collapsing

    Carl von Clausewitz, the 19th century Prussian soldier-philosopher, posited a “primordial triangle” consisting of three legs: policy, the people and the army.

    1. The policy leg was still-born when President George W. Bush declared war on “terror.”
    Essentially the West is at war with Islamist Jihadists—namely Al Qaeda and groups like Hezbollah and Islamic Jihad, and nations that support them, specifically Iran and Syria.
    Without a clearly defined enemy, the U.S. military has been unable to develop an appropriate strategy.

    2. Second, Bush lost the second leg of the primordial triangle, the people, last November. Americans are impatient and that impatience wears even thinner when they do not know who they are fighting or why.
    The American people want clear war aims and a policy focused on victory.

    3. The armed forces constitute the third leg of the primordial triangle and ours remain the world’s best. The U.S. Army and Marine brigades that stormed to Baghdad in the spring of 2003 performed superbly. They continue to be well-led, well-trained and highly-motivated. Nevertheless, the Army, and perhaps to a lesser extent the Marine Corps, are in danger of collapsing.

    Al Qaeda, Iran, Hezbollah, Syria and their supporters are on the same road to victory trod by North Vietnam 40 years ago—a road paved with superior strategy.
    Their strategy of erosion simply is more appropriate than our strategy, which is unclear and ill-defined.
    Superior strategy wins wars.

  11. > but ultimately freedom WILL have a lot more takers than Sharia

    Yes, we have already seen that. Once we provided the opportunity, most Afghans happily broke from Taliban Sharia. The Iraqi Sunnis in Anbar are now revolting against Sharia & Al Qaeda. Some Iraqi Shia are saying they don't want clerical rule; it was an interim solution when they were in battle of survival with the Sunnis.

  12. I think it IS a moronic rational for war, as my link above explains.
    (and as the unraveling demonstrates daily)

  13. Jeesuz, back to the BC.
    Peace, Love, and Freedom!
    My Ass!

  14. People SUBMIT to Sharia under threat of force, whether in Southern Afghanistan, or the Government Offices in Baghdad.

  15. wu, sometimes you are just to funny.
    Sharia is the Law of Afghanistan, today. As indicated here:
    The United States said on Monday it is watching "very closely" the case of an Afghan man who is facing the death penalty for converting from Islam to Christianity. The case, which a German official has called "intolerable," is thought to be the first prosecution for converting to Christianity in Afghanistan since the fall of the Taliban regime more than four years ago.

    PRAGUE, March 21, 2006 Radio Free Europe(RFE/RL) -- Some 15 years ago, Abdul Rahman made a decision that may now cost him his life.

    Wwhile working for an international Christian aid organization helping Afghan refugees in Pakistan, he abandoned Islam and became a Christian.

    On his return to Afghanistan from Germany in 2002, 41-year-old Abdul Rahman told his relatives about his faith.

    And it is they who reportedly denounced him to authorities in February. When police arrived to arrest and charge him with rejecting Islam, they found him carrying a Bible.

    They did, eventually, allow him to be declared insane and emigrate, but that insanity was to allow his release to be legal, under the Sharia system.

    Brad Adams of New York-based Human Rights Watch believes the case is a test for Afghanistan's justice system -- and "if this case is allowed to go forward it will be a failed test."
    "This is a very conservative group of people in charge of Afghanistan's court and virtually nothing has been done since the Taliban was thrown out to address this problem," says Adams, who highlights for criticism "very extreme statements about religion [and] about the rights of women" by the head of the country's Supreme Court.

    The case is, he contends, "a sign that some of the more conservative elements in Afghanistan are trying to take control of the country's court system and the country's social discussion."
    Afghanistan's constitution states that "no law can be contrary to the beliefs and provisions of the sacred religion of Islam."

    To further quote the Afghan Constitution:

    Article One Ch. 1. Art. 1
    Afghanistan is an Islamic Republic, independent, unitary and indivisible state.
    Article Two Ch. 1, Art. 2
    The religion of the state of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan is the sacred religion of Islam.

    Sharia is the Law of the Land, in Afghanistan.

  16. Mhhhhhmm...... Why are we supporting the introduction of Sharia in Afghanistan? Why? Why? What is the Plan?

    And sorry Deuce, while freedom may have more takers than Sharia, freedom is difficult to enforce at gunpoint. The gun always wins as Mao observed. That should be the lesson of the last four years in nothing else.

  17. I think we are winning across the globe, while Al Qaeda is falling apart. They can't do anything more than hide in caves and bomb civilians.

    Bush has switched to the correct strategy, which is to train the locals to fight terrorists instead of having our army do all the fighting. People never get tired of defending their own houses. They can out last the terrorists.

  18. Winning????? You cannot be fucking serious. Jeeeezus wept. We (civilization) are being flogged like a child. Bin Laden is sitting in his mud hut and laughing. Al Quaida shrinks but Islam awakes. Islamism has spread like metastizing cancer since 2001.

  19. You, wu, brought this into the mix, which when I mentioned it days ago, you said numbers did not matter, regarding how many foreign jihadi got live fire training from the US.

    " Algerian jihadis like these, veterans of the fight against U.S. forces in Iraq, are central to the offensive, ... ... to target locations in France, Italy, Spain, Morocco, Tunisia and Algeria.

  20. We just have to stay on in Iraq, with 150,000 troops and keep on keepin' on!

    On a road to nowhere.

  21. We're on a road to nowhere. Hi! Yah!

    - Talking Heads

  22. Looks like a lot of the Al Qaeda explosives failed. Guess they aren't superman, 10 feet tall.

    After the attack in the building's cafeteria, more explosives were found near the parliament room and were destroyed in a controlled detonation, according to Iraqi lawmaker Iman al-Asadi.

  23. Well for folks that are out numbered 500 to 1, they sure get around the most secure areas of Iraq.

    If there were any quantity of explosives inside the perimeter of the green Zone, other than what was in the bombers' vest, that is a sign that the security is even worse than the bombing itself indicates.

    They certainly are not midgets nor dwarfs, those 500 aQ foreigners and their 2,000 Iraqi foot soldiers.

    Maybe some the foreigners will rotate out to Europe or North Africa. Then we'll face new, lesser trained recruits, in Iraq, again.

    Circles and Cycles.

  24. Wonder how many aQ operatives are on their second or third deployment to Iraq?

  25. DR

    They are on their first, and getting f***ing clever with it. They don't have rotations, neither would we if we were serious.

  26. I've said that before, about Allied rotations vs being there for the Duration.

    In a "Long War" victory is not an expectation, by definition, of the troops involved.
    So they do not manage the battlespace with the intention of winning, but with the idea of ever better management as the Goal. CYA becomes the byword, the path to success and promotion.

  27. Aha. You occupy, it is for 50+ years (like post WWII Germany or Japan) or do not putz around to begin with.

  28. Some of the legislators are terrorists. They've been busted by coalition forces with piles of weapons at their houses, in their mosques, etc. No wonder it was an inside job.

    This is no big deal. Explosions in Iraq are common place. It's like a good natured wrestling match.

  29. Explosions in Iraq are common place. It's like a good natured wrestling match.

    Bullshit. Only after we invaded. And its NOT good natured, its with honest hate.

  30. wu is just a funny guy.
    A laugh a minute
    Good natured killing, everyone enjoys it.

  31. uuggggg, wasss up wit all dis talk of US vs. al Qaeda???

    That is such a simplistic depiction of the situation in both Afghanistan and Iraq, and the grand war on a world wide scale for that matter. Sure AQ is a problem but it is appearing more and more of a brand various disparate groups are pinning on as they kill (i.e. Algiers).

    Instead, in Afghanistan for example, you have a resurgent Taliban coupled with tribes and their warlords scratching a meager existence, pushing up poppies for a relatively big buck, and resisting foreigners trucking about. In Iraq, well Shia, Kurds, Sunni, Baath, Tribes, ect. all kicking ass, smuggling, seeking revenge, resisting invaders ect ect ect.

    Too sit there and make it a 1 on 1 mano a mano battle between the US and AQ

  32. "It's like a good natured wrestling match."
    Wu's pornography for the families who have lost loved ones.
    ...and all of us who do not believe life is just a joke.

  33. "but you and I
    we've been through that,
    and this is not our fate
    there's too much confusion
    I can't get no relief."

  34. Yep.. It is absurd. So in order to defeat Al Quaida and the Talibs we support a sharia regime in the 'stan. Shiite, that s how the Talibs started out in th first place a cycle ago.

  35. "No reason to get excited," Wu, he kindly spoke,

    "There are many here among us who feel that life is but a joke.

    But you and I, we've been through that, and this is not our fate,

    So let us not talk falsely now, the hour is getting late."

    All along the watchtower, princes kept the view
    While all the women came and went, barefoot servants, too.

    Outside in the distance a wildcat did growl,
    Two riders were approaching, the wind began to howl.

  36. One of the reasons, ash, is the Authorization mentions aQ, as one of the reasons to be in Iraq.
    "Whereas members of al Qaida, an organization bearing responsibility for attacks on the United States, its citizens, and interests, including the attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, are known to be in Iraq;

    It is the only whereas that is still relevent to the Use of Force in Iraq. The others are no longer germane.
    Without aQ being in Iraq, there is no legal cause to remain. We'd need a new Authorization and a Status of Forces agreement with Iraq.

  37. ...and if we had gone after the states supporting them, as we said we'd do...

  38. All Rap songs with the Word "Ho," have been banned, also.

  39. dang, that is a cynical thing you say DR.....but true!

  40. Well what will the combatant command do if the Turks come a callin'?

    ANKARA, Turkey - Turkey's military asked the government Thursday to approve attacks on Kurdish rebels in northern Iraq, signaling growing frustration over a lack of action against the guerrillas by Iraqi and U.S. forces.

    Such action could put an overstretched U.S. military in the middle of a fight between two crucial partners, the Turks and the Iraqi Kurds, and Washington urged Turkish restraint. A recent surge in Kurdish attacks in southeastern Turkey has increased the pressure on Turkey's military to act.

    "An operation into Iraq is necessary," Gen. Yasar Buyukanit told reporters.

    Buyukanit said the military already has launched operations against separatists in Turkey's predominantly Kurdish southeastern region bordering Iraq.

    "Our aim is to prevent them from taking positions in the region with the coming of spring," he said, adding the rebels generally intensify attacks as melting snow opens the mountain passes.

    Recent clashes have killed 10 soldiers and 29 guerrillas of the Kurdistan Workers Party, or PKK, Buyukanit said.

    His call steps up pressure on Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan to take a harder line against Kurdish guerrillas and their leaders in northern Iraq. There is strong public support for such a move, but the possibility of high casualties could make the government nervous ahead of elections that must be held by November.

    If Erdogan's government does ask parliament to approve an incursion, a key consequence would be strained ties with Washington — which fears an offensive would provoke a fierce reaction from Kurdish groups in Iraq that are key allies of U.S. forces.

    The United States also sees Turkey as a crucial ally, strategically straddling Europe and the Middle East. But some Turks question just how strong their ties should be with Washington if it refuses to side with them against the rebels.

    Even if the Bush administration decided to act strongly against the Kurdish rebels in the mountains near the frontier, U.S. forces are already stretched thin by the battle against insurgents in central Iraq.

    Assistant Secretary of State Dan Fried spoke with Turkish Ambassador Nabi Sensoy and urged Turkey to show restraint in responding to attacks, a senior State Department official said on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak on the record.

    State Department spokesman Sean McCormack earlier acknowledged the legitimacy of Turkey's concerns about the Kurdish militants, but said the Turkish and Iraqi governments should to resolve the problem together.

    "Turkey faces a real threat from the PKK," he said. "It's a terrorist organization. It has killed innocent Turkish citizens. It has killed Turkish military. And it's a problem that needs to be dealt with."

    Our Kurdish friends, well, they will not shut the terrorists down, the US will not shut them down, who else is there, but the Turks.
    They do have a "Right" to take preemptive action.

    Massoud Barzani, leader of the Kurdish autonomous region in Iraq, said recently that Iraqi Kurds would retaliate for any Turkish interference in northern Iraq by stirring up trouble in Turkey's southeast.

    Turkey demanded Monday in a note to the Iraqi ambassador that Iraq take immediate action against the guerrillas. Turkey has previously asserted its right to stage a cross-border offensive if Iraqi officials fail to clamp down on the guerrillas.

    Turkey staged several incursions into Iraq in the early 1990s with forces as large as 50,000 troops. But each time the rebels made a comeback after most of the Turkish soldiers withdrew, leaving behind only about 2,000 soldiers to monitor rebel activities.

    Buyukanit predicted victory in the fight against the rebels if the military is authorized to move into Iraq.

    "If the authority is given to us, we'll do this kind of operation and we'll be successful," he said.

    The military says up to 3,800 rebels are based just across the border in Iraq and that up to 2,300 operate inside Turkey.

    "The PKK has huge freedom of movement in Iraq," Buyukanit said. "It has spread its roots in Iraq."

    Kurdish terrorists, as critical to Turkey as aQ is to the US, maybe more so.

    Who we gonna call?

  41. Me too.

    Just wonderin' what the response would be. From US and Iraq, maybe even Iran. The Iranians ran some cross border ops, a year or so ago, as I recall.
    Artillery barrages and what not.

    The Turks will kill the PKK terrorists, burn their villages and end the threat. Or at least diminish it to acceptable levels. Without building a school, drilling a well or handing out candy.

    We can take notes.

  42. The Haditha incident occurred in November '05. The frst trial is underway, April '07.

    The 20 or so Marines in Afghanistan that were ambushed and are now being held for criminal investigation, to include homicide, they have got a long row to hoe.

    One IED took 120 Marines out of the fight. Without a single Marine killed by enemy fire.

  43. In Paris, the International Energy Agency warned that output by the Organization of Petroleum Exporting countries had slid to its lowest level in more than two years on production outages and self-imposed cuts.

    Still, a Platts survey of OPEC production last month said the average 26.54 million barrels pumped a day by OPEC members under quotes still represented overproduction of 740,000 barrels a day above the group's production target.

    In other Nymex trading, heating oil futures gained 3.14 cents, settling at $1.9061 a gallon, while natural gas prices rose nearly 6.9 cents to $7.924 per 1,000 cubic feet.

    Gas Stocks

  44. Mr Roggio has closed his comments section, seems to many folk were just plain rude.

    I've closed the comments section. I've spent far too much time editing and deleting the comments, and emailing individuals to ask them to respect the comments policy. ...

    My apologies to those of you who have provided great discussions and feedback. Unfortunately there are people out there who just cannot follow simple instructions or respect the rules.

    Which is a shame, his best commenters were quite well informed, some folk just can't get along in civil society.

    Not raised well enough by their mommas to be polite when they are anonymous avatars. Or a fellow like Imus, who was not even polite when his face was on TV every morning.

    I'll give Mr Roggio credit, for holding the line against the rude and crude.

  45. Mr Yon was with the Brits when they rolled in to Basra, starting a firefight with the locals or whomever the perps were, if not local.
    Mr Yon reports rom the streets of Basra.

  46. ... the Squaddies rushed out the back of the Bulldog with me in tow, crashing through gates and tossing flashbang grenades into doorways before bursting into houses ...

    Flashbangs, where did we hear of those, before?

  47. The killing of the four soldiers in Basra last week gave the incident a different perspective. Gen Sir Richard Dannatt, the head of the army, is understood to have expressed surprise and anger at the navy's decision to allow the interviews.

    Downing Street allowed a petition on its website calling for "the prime minister to name and sack the person responsible for declaring that members of the armed services can sell their stories". More than a thousand had signed by last night.

    Sir Menzies Campbell, the leader of the Liberal Democrats, warned: "We must not divert attention from the fundamental question of how our sailors and marines found themselves in Iranian captivity."

    Buying Stories

  48. Thursday, April 12, 2007
    Pajamas Media at the Iraqi Parliament Blast
    Richard Miniter was at the Iraqi parliament in Baghdad when it was bombed killing 8 and injuring over 20. His report is at Pajamas Media. Here's an excerpt:

    Heavily-armed men from Triple Canopy, mostly Peruvian, escorted every one inside the building into a parking lot ringed with a 10-foot high chain-link fence. This became a holding pen. An American Triple Canopy employee told me that they suspected the bomber may have had an accomplice in the building. Therefore, everyone was going to held and searched. ... No one here has any confidence in Iraqi security, which is responsible for maintaining security around the convention center.


    The war is being fought at every level. Bill Roggio comments on the split of the Islamic Army of Iraq from al-Qaeda. "There are no optimal solutions in ending an insurgency - the most practical solution to end the Sunni insurgency is to cause the it to fracture and turn on itself." Part of the process of internecine fighting is playing out at the highest political levels.
    Read more! posted by wretchard