“Soft despotism is a term coined by Alexis de Tocqueville describing the state into which a country overrun by "a network of small complicated rules" might degrade. Soft despotism is different from despotism (also called 'hard despotism') in the sense that it is not obvious to the people."

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Step in and have a drink. The un-kool aid bar.

Hat Tip: Bobalharb

Another day in Paradise pretending that the Iraqis are going to be anything other than what they are. This is the headline:
U.S. Says 9 Americans Killed in Iraq
The Associated Press
Saturday, April 28, 2007; 5:29 PM

BAGHDAD -- A car bomb exploded Saturday in the Shiite holy city of Karbala as the streets were packed with people heading for evening prayers, killing at least 58 and wounding scores near some of the country's most sacred shrines. Separately, the U.S. military announced the deaths of nine American troops, including three killed Saturday in a single roadside bombing outside Baghdad.

And this is what Hugh Fitzgerald has to say over at Jihad Watch;

Never Have So Few Done So Much Damage To So Many
Would it be immoral for Americans to leave Iraq, or to allow it to dissolve? Some have said so. But as to the question of morality, I don't even understand the question. The Kurds resent the Arabs for good reason. Why should they not try to make a move for independence, and if by helping them the American government can weaken Syria and Iran, and have a semi-reliable ally in what was northern Iraq, why not? What is immoral about that?

And as to the sectarian divisions, they date back a thousand years before the founding of the United States. The depth and duration of that division, in other words, owes nothing to us. It is the Americans who have tried, at great human and economic cost, to make the Iraqis less tribal, less selfish, more imbued with a sense of a nation -- and a nation that is not merely a place to be controlled by their sect or tribe or family. The Americans have tried to encourage entrepreneurial activity instead of reliance, as in so many other Muslim states, on either oil money or foreign aid from Infidels, and to encourage the adoption of a Constitution that would actually move away from the Shari'a.

It has all failed. And that is despite the enormous efforts of American soldiers, who were never taught about Islam, and yet persevered, and were puzzled when the Muslims of Iraq did not behave, as those soldiers expected them to, as a grateful "Iraqi people," but rather as a collection -- with a handful of exceptions -- of grasping, whining, greedy, meretricious people, eager to have the Americans do everything for them, eager to have them lavish them with aid money (thrown around, by the billions, like confetti), and distinctly indifferent to American losses when not taking outright pleasure in such losses, yet always willing to blame the Americans for everything.

Does a Sunni bomb go off killing Shi'a? The Shi'a crowds gather, and tell reporters that they blame the Americans. The Sunnis are kidnapped by Shi'a militia, and the Sunnis rant against the Americans. And now 98% of the Sunni Arabs say that all attacks on Americans are justified and that they personally approve of them, and 75% of the Shi'a say the same thing. Only the Kurds express, by a large majority, lack of approval for such attacks.

What is the conceivable offense to morality in no longer sending Americans to fight and die for people who cannot overcome Islam, who will in large -- and ever-increasing -- numbers, take delight in the deaths of Americans? And does anyone, does even Bush, still think that Iraq could somehow become a Light Unto the Muslim Nations? Karen Hughes, Bush’s loyal and equally unintelligent aide, is the one who is most directly involved with "reaching out to Muslims." That is the extent of our propaganda effort, an effort that should be made not to win jihadists over, but to fill them with confusion and to demoralize them, and make at least some of them begin to see that their political, economic, and social failures are a direct result of what Islam inculcates -- not only the specific doctrines, but the habit of mental submission that it demands.


  1. desert rat said...
    It started with the schools.
    After action reports on floor buffing and wall painting.

    The it degenerated to pencils and paper, delivering text books on the subjects of science and engineering, but not socialogy or government.

    How mmany schools were opened became a benchmark, how many buildings were "spruced up", not the syllabus used in the buildings after they were restored.

    That was the first of many signs.

    No one wanted to listen, not on the "right" nor on the "left". It did not fit the program, actual success. To hard to quantify and measure.

    Better we have those soldiers buff some more floors, that is something the Army IS expert at.
    A mission they knew how to do.

    Haiti is still a failure, no practical government, still fubared after all these years. The Bush Team actions in Iraq proves the lie of their earlier, 1990s rhetoric, but knew no other way forward, either.

    So Bush, Cheney and Rice did lie and people did die. It's just the lies are not those often publicized. Worse the Bush Team continues to sell the "Big Lie" to the detriment of the US.

  2. Doug: Inspectors found that in a sampling of eight projects declared successes by the U.S., seven were no longer operating as designed.

    Boy we sure got a lot of bang for those $500 billion bucks.

  3. If you want to know what we are dealing with when it comes to helping reluctant Islamists, you only have to look at Palestine. The Pals are living next to the most dynamic economy in the ME. Israel has no oil but knows how to oil commerce and generate wealth and security and the possibility of a better life for her own citizens. The pals could share in the know how and the wealth but they would rather soil their own nest and indulge in the pestilence of the real gutter cult religion of Islam, and we do not have the guts to tell them the truth.

    It makes me sick and no I will never shut up about it.

  4. 2164th: It makes me sick and no I will never shut up about it.

    It so happens that the Hebrew Law lays on obligation on Jews to live in this particular piece of land, which agriculturally isn't really any great shakes compared to Iowa or New Jersey. The experiment knowns as the State of Israel is a precious demonstration of the human spirit in defiance of evil. It was founded in the aftermath of the Holocaust. If it can hang on for another thirty years or so, desalination of seawater by fusion power will turn it into a garden of Eden. If the Pallies persist in their goal of destroying Israel, the contrast between the two societies will only grow more stark.

    More likely is that it will be rendered uninhabitable by NBC weapons from Iran or Syria (for it is only a few miles wide and if they give back the Golan most of the country outside of the Negev will be open to artillery attack), and the surviving Jews, after awful retaliation, will have to laager up in America. Another diaspora in Eurabia, of course, is out of the question.

  5. good post T, your invite is still open.

  6. Interesting interview with Amos Oz over at Radio Netherlands:

    "Oz on the Israeli dream:

    "Israel was born out of huge dreams, magnanimous dreams, too big to come true; there was a dream of reviving the ancient kingdoms of David and Solomon, the Biblical dream, there was an orthodox dream to create the Jewish small town in Eastern Europe, there was a socialist dream to create a socialist, egalitarian model country, there was a middle class dream."
    "All of these dreams craved for perfection. The result is a disappointment. This is not about the nature of Israel, it is about the nature of dreams."

    Oz on Israeli society today:

    "If you look at Israel with a humorous glance, you'll discover it's not a country but a fiery collection of arguments; 7.5 million citizens, 7.5 million prime ministers, 7.5 million prophets, 7.5 million messiahs, each and every one of us with his of her personal formula for universal redemption. Everyone shouts and no one listens!"
    "Every line by a bus stop in this country is likely to catch a spark and turn into a fiery street seminary between total strangers, debating and arguing about politics, about morality, about the Bible, about the real purpose of God. This is Israel in a nutshell, and I have to say I like it. I love it!"

    Oz on Israel as a refugee camp:

    "Everyone in this country is a refugee from somewhere - every Jew and many Palestinians are refugees. It's a tragic conflict between two refugee camps, that's the right way to conceive it."
    "Everyone has a love-hate relationship with their old country; longing, nostalgia and also anger, because in many cases refugees who came here were kicked out of their old countries. My grandparents were devoted Europeans, 60 years ago. They loved the landscape of Europe, they loved the heritage, they loved the art, the culture and all the music...oh the music!"
    "And Europe violently kicked them out. This injury, this broken heart, this unrequited love accompanied them for the rest of their lives and they bequested it to me."

    Oz on what defined the antagonism that defined the first 20 years of Israel:

    "There was a clash of two different kinds of Jewish nationalism; one romantic and far-reaching, the other a pragmatic, cautious and very realistic kind of nationalism. One with a strong sense of proportion and limitations, the other with magnanimous dreams. My father was the first, which was why I decided at 15 to work in a kibbutz, and to become everything my father was not, and not to be anything my father was."
    Oz on the 1993 Oslo agreement:
    "Both sides cheated on Oslo from day one. It was a child unwanted by its parents. Prime Minister Rabin by building more and more settlements and the Palestinian leader Arafat by enhancing the rhetorics of jihad and by enabling vicious acts of terrorism against Israeli society."

    Oz on Camp David in 2000:

    "The Israelis were hurt because Prime Minister Barak made a far-reaching proposal to the Palestinians. No previous Israeli Prime Minister ever proposed even half of what he did, but the Palestinians never put on the table their own peace proposal, which is a source of my anger and many Israelis'."

    Oz on a potential nuclear threat from Iran:

    "Israel takes seriously extremist rhetoric from Arabs and Muslims because when a leader like President Ahmadinejad talks about the extermination of Israel he probably means business. I don't think Iran is exclusively Israel's problem, I think it's an international problem."

    Oz on Israel's future:

    "I still believe that the solution of the Israeli-Palestinian problem is possible and not very far off. I think the good news from the Middle East is that the majority of the Palestinians and the Israelis have come to terms with the two-state solution. They will not be dancing in the streets but they know it now after many decades of rejecting the other completely, and Israel can still go back on course as becoming a warm-hearted Mediterranean society - which is what it is."
    RN and words from Oz

  7. As a farmer, I don't give a pickle what the bible says about who is what in the promised land. What I care about, is , they don't kill one another, and make the land bloom. Those folks are good farmers. I wish them well.

  8. 2164th: good post T, your invite is still open.

    I've never been able to get anything through to you or whit by email. One time I sent a star trek picture that I thought would be better than the one you had up, and it fell into a black hole and emerged in the delta quadrant or something.

  9. Try a pic of a Giant Sequoia next time, just to make sure.

  10. At this rate we'll never see a GOP win in our lifetime.
    (or that of the country)
    Schumer madly counts up the votes.

  11. While I like reading Hugh, this thought always tugs at my mind when reading him--if we get all the way out--then what prevents Iran from controlling the whole gulf and southern Iraq? What then? And a nuclear armed Iran at that.

  12. I'm on my way to dinner Ill email you later,

  13. Bo , I do not want to withdraw. i want to hit them hard when they harm us. A lesson they will remember, Not some new age GWB tweeter. I am talking sub-woofer.

  14. If the projects where the US civilians can roam freely, asking questions, are seven failures in eight tries, just imagine the success rate in Injun Country.

    ... but that they were constrained from taking a true random sample in part because many projects were in areas too unsafe to visit. So, they said, the initial set of eight projects — which cost a total of about $150 million — cannot be seen as a true statistical measure of the thousands of projects in the roughly $30 billion American rebuilding program.

    But the officials said the initial findings raised serious new concerns about the effort.

    The reconstruction effort was originally designed as nearly equal to the military push to stabilize Iraq, allow the government to function and business to flourish, and promote good will toward the United States.

    “These first inspections indicate that the concerns that we and others have had about the Iraqis sustaining our investments in these projects are valid,” Stuart W. Bowen Jr., who leads the office of the special inspector general, said in an interview on Friday.

    Is this more of that "unreported good news" I hear so much about?

  15. ...most of the problems seemed unrelated to sabotage stemming from Iraq’s parlous security situation, but instead were the product of poor initial construction, petty looting, a lack of any maintenance and simple neglect.

    A case in point was the $5.2 million project undertaken by the United States Army Corps of Engineers to build the special forces barracks in Baghdad. The project was completed in September 2005, but by the time inspectors visited last month, there were numerous problems caused by faulty plumbing throughout the buildings, and four large electrical generators, each costing $50,000, were no longer operating.

    The problems with the generators were seemingly minor: missing batteries, a failure to maintain adequate oil levels in the engines, fuel lines that had been pilfered or broken. That kind of neglect is typical of rebuilding programs in developing countries when local nationals are not closely involved in planning efforts, said Rick Barton, co-director of the postconflict reconstruction project at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a research organization in Washington.

    “What ultimately makes any project sustainable is local ownership from the beginning in designing the project, establishing the priorities,” Mr. Barton said. “If you don’t have those elements it’s an extension of colonialism and generally it’s resented.”

    Which seems reasonable enough.

    But I'm not sure that this reaction is. Seems like a CYA affair, to me.

    That and a bizarre type of thinking, quite PC, on the US Government's part.

    ... when Mr. Bowen’s office presented the Army Corps with the finding that neither system was working at the struggling hospital and recommended a training program so that Iraqis could properly operate the equipment, General Walsh tersely disagreed with the recommendation in a letter appended to the report, which also noted that the building had suffered damage because workers used excess amounts of water to clean the floors.

    The bureau within the United States Embassy in Baghdad that oversees reconstruction in Iraq was even more dismissive, disagreeing with all four of the inspector general’s recommendations, including those suggesting that the United States should lend advice on disposing of the waste and maintaining the floors.

    “Recommendations such as how much water to use in cleaning floors or disposal of medical waste could be deemed as an intrusion on, or attempt to micromanage operations of an Iraqi entity that we have no controlling interest over,” wrote William Lynch, acting director of the embassy bureau, called the Iraq Reconstruction Management Office.

    If it was not so sad, it be funny.
    "Catch 22" or scramblin' like a "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof" chasing after "The Mouse that ROARED"?

  16. Iraq is beginning to sound just like Chicago's Cabrini-Green writ larger than life, across an entire country.

    Had to level that project, raze it, before any reconstruction could begin. All the attempts to fix a failed system, failed.

    It is part of the city of Chicago's "Plan for Transformation." It is the largest demolition of public housing in U.S. history. Some of them have already been torn down, some of them still have people living in them, some of them are kind of half and half. These projects were the infamous Cabrini Green Projects, which were really well-known for the horrible conditions were during the 80s and 90s. The city was very neglectful of maintaining the housing at all and conditions deteriorated more and more, as the economy of the city became more depressed. At one point the projects were home to 15,000 people in Chicago. Although living conditions were pretty dismal (horrible violence, deteriorating buildings, burst pipes, rat infestations, etc.) people still built their lives and communities here. Therefore, the fact that the city is destroying them all is not exactly great news to all of the people that used to live there. Where are they going? We heard from a lot of people that the city decided to move all of these people out and doesn't exactly have a good plan for where to put all of the people now. ...

    Apparently a big part of the "Plan for Transformation" is to advocate for mixed income housing. People of all different income levels living together. In Chicago, one of the first developments to replace Cabrini Green was North Town Village. It only has 261 units but a certain amount of them are reserved for people elligible for public housing. ...

    15,000 people in Chicago, an it was "to much" for government to manage. Try managing 25 million people that not only are part of a culture you do not understand, but are also people you cannot even talk to.

  17. Too bad the admin isn't just tone deaf.
    No, they suffer from "reality reversal."
    It would be funny,
    but it is so very far from it.

  18. "“Recommendations such as how much water to use in cleaning floors or disposal of medical waste could be deemed as an intrusion on, or attempt to micromanage operations of an Iraqi entity that we have no controlling interest over,"
    wrote William Lynch

    Patton Spins.

  19. "No controlling legal authority,"
    uttered Al Gore, as he collected the Buddist Booty.

  20. A woman in the group asked Casey if her husband's deployments would stop getting longer. She said they used to last for six months in the 1990s but then started lasting 9 months and 12 months. Two weeks ago, she heard the Army's announcement that deployments would be extended as long as 15 months.

    "Do you honestly foresee this spiral, in effect, stopping?" she asked.

    Casey said the Army wants to keep deployments to 15 months, but "I cannot look at you in the eye and guarantee that it would not go beyond."

  21. Bill Roggio reports:
    The building of the security barrier, or "wall", around the Sunni neighborhood in Adhamiya is back on track. Dave Kilcullen, the Senior Counter-Insurgency Advisor for Multi-National Force Iraq, explains that Prime Minister Maliki re initiated the project after he was briefed on the need for the barrier and how the protests came about. "As I understand it, once the reasons for the project and the likely benefits in terms of lives saved were explained to the PM, he was happy for it to continue. I understand that the evidence of extremist manipulation was also a factor."

    Mr. Kilcullen likened the barrier to an "urban tourniquet," and explained that the propaganda campaign to disrupt its construction came from none other than al Qaeda in Iraq. Omar Fahdil first reported this development early last week.

  22. Yon on Dysfunctional Media Officers:
    When I learned that many other journalists were having similar difficulty getting “recognized” to cover the war, and in fact that the number of reporters on the ground heading was approaching single digits, it prompted me to write “Censoring Iraq.”

    Sometime later in 2006 while I was in Vietnam visiting war museums, I again requested an embed and this time managed to get in, arriving back here in December of 2006, with plans to stay through 2007.
    Some commanders are making it tough. (More on that in future dispatches.)

    I’ve been back in Iraq now for about three months, and sadly have to report that, despite signs of progress in many key areas of the battle space, the conditions on the media/military front have not improved since early 2005.

    The hardest part of my job should be surviving the missions, and after that, deciding which one of a dozen possible dispatches should be written. But lately I’ve been fighting just to find a place to live and work—like that tiny trailer with that tiny desk and tiny stool in Mosul. It’s been a month since I’ve had reliable internet access.
    A month.
    It took twenty-five hours spread over two days to transmit about a dozen photos for this dispatch. Two work days.

    In a war where the media coverage matters and may in fact determine the outcome, a media illiterate soldier, especially in a press position, could cost a lot of his buddies their lives.

    Most reporters don’t have to be in Iraq, risking their lives to get a story only to have inexcusable logistical failures make it next to impossible to do their jobs proficiently.

    This may be a war zone, but it’s a war zone with its own Pizza Hut, Burger King, Subway, and plasma screen TVs in the PX. Ninth Division made it work in WWII, Deuce Four made it work in Mosul 2005.
    If our military cannot handle a few dozen journalists spread around the country, can we expect them to win an entire war?

    Responses to my questions about a safe place to live and work get wrapped in remarks about being here for free rent and free food. And they’ll say, “You know, we are in a war zone.”

    Then chatter about how busy they are helping press, and almost in the same breath complain about the shortage of accurate stories about the war in our media. Some of the offices of media officers here in Baghdad are bigger and nicer than my attorney’s office. That’s what we’ve come to at the threshold into the fifth year at war in Iraq.

  23. "Catch 22 Redux: My new work space has no internet capability, no surface for work, not to mention the obvious problem with secure storage for the heavy pile of incredibly expensive gear needed to cover this war the way it should be covered. Can’t run a mission AND keep an eye on it, and can’t do the work the way it needs to be done without running missions to see and hear it firsthand.
    I’m finally starting to understand what so many Vietnam veterans have told me. One overarching message from the front is that our combat forces are overwhelmingly good to the Iraqis and extremely accommodating to media, but there is a deeper substrate. We simply cannot beat the terrorists if we do not learn how to embrace media realities.With all the focus on training Iraqi Security Forces, it might be worth considering training our own team, too.

  24. From Scheuer:
    "Of course, it's good to finally have Tenet's side of the Iraq and 9/11 stories.
    But whatever his book says, he was not much of a CIA chief. Still, he may have been the ideal CIA leader for Clinton and Bush -- denigrating good intelligence to sate the former's cowardly pacifism and accepting bad intelligence to please the latter's Wilsonian militarism.
    Sadly but fittingly, "At the Center of the Storm" is likely to remind us that sometimes what lies at the center of a storm is a deafening silence.

  25. At Westhawk, Allen informs us that the cost of our Iraqi adventure does not seem expensive.
    Read the whole thing if you like:
    To me, justifying the cost of a failed policy as reasonable is unreasonable:
    "I only paid $120 million for these projects that do not function."

    "We only paid $700 billion for a war that has emboldened the enemy and decimated much of our military hardware, and perhaps our military."

    "We only paid $700 billion for a war in Iraq AND we didn't spend a dime bombing supplies coming in from Syria and Iran."


  26. The Competent Team Bush, shielding us from danger:

    "In "State of Denial," Woodward paints a heroic portrait of the CIA chief warning national security adviser Condoleezza Rice of pending al-Qaeda strikes during the summer of 2001, only to have his warnings ignored.

    Tenet was indeed worried during the so-called summer of threat, but one wonders why he did not summon the political courage earlier to accuse Rice of negligence, most notably during his testimony under oath before the 9/11 commission.

    "I was talking to the national security adviser and the president and the vice president every day," Tenet told the commission during a nationally televised hearing on March 24, 2004.

    "I certainly didn't get a sense that anybody was not paying attention to what I was doing and what I was briefing and what my concerns were and what we were trying to do."

    Now a "frustrated" Tenet writes that he held an urgent meeting with Rice on July 10, 2001, to try to get "the full attention of the administration" and "finally get us on track." He can't have it both ways
    ...and now we know why W gave Tenant the Medal of Freedom, and what it says about him as a leader:

    Wonder what he didn't want Normie Mineta to disclose?

    In the case of Tenant, he fails in his attempt at coverup, just as he failed in his alliances with Ted Kennedy.

  27. I'll tell you who I feel for. I feel for the young gal that is renting the lower unit in my duplex. Her husband is in Iraq, and she has a young child. She doesn't have any idea when he is coming back, and so I am renting to her month by month, when I usually ask for a years lease. There she sits, not knowing what her future holds, or what to do, or how to make plans.

  28. At any cost, I fail to see how anything we have done in Iraq, anything has made us more safe. If the failure of another team of Saudis to highjack US passenger planes is the test of our security, how was that accomplished in Iraq?

  29. 2164th: At any cost, I fail to see how anything we have done in Iraq, anything has made us more safe. If the failure of another team of Saudis to highjack US passenger planes is the test of our security, how was that accomplished in Iraq?

    The whole thing was a side-show from the beginning, and it has falsified every last neocon premise, from the idea that the Iraqis would greet our forces as liberators and shower them with hosannas and palm leaves, to the idea that democracy can take root in a culture that never went through its version of the Enlightenment, to the idea that a country the size of California could be occupied by the number of people that attend a Superbowl. The only good thing to come out of this is that another generation has learned the Vietnam lesson in their bones: being the greatest power on earth does not make us omnipotent.

  30. But what are you going to do,T, when Iran takes over the whole neighborhood.
    They will if we are not there.