“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."

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Surge Working - Iraqis are Not

This article caught my eye last week. It says the surge is working but the Iraqi police are not.
US troops stand guard in Baqouba, 60 kilometers (35 miles) northeast of Baghdad, Monday, June 25, 2007. ...
U.S. Troops Target Bomb Networks
By KIM GAMEL, Associated Press Writer

JISR DIYALA, Iraq - Newly arrived U.S. troops southeast of Baghdad are destroying boats on the Tigris River and targeting networks bringing powerful roadside bombs from Iran as the military cracks down on Sunni and Shiite extremists from all directions.

But a top U.S. commander warned on Monday that three or four times more Iraqi security forces are needed to sustain the progress in clearing the area and stanching the flow of arms and makeshift bombs into the capital.

Maj. Gen. Rick Lynch, whose command covers the southern rim of Baghdad and mostly Shiite areas to the south, said the reinforcements who arrived as part of a troop buildup have had success in rooting out militants from their sanctuaries and preventing them from fleeing the area in an operation called Marne Torch _ one of a quartet of offensives in the capital and surrounding areas.

"All along the Tigris River valley, people knew this is where the Sunni extremists were storing munitions, training for operations, building IEDs to take them into Baghdad," he said, referring to improvised explosive devices, the term the military uses for roadside bombs.

"They just didn't have the reach to get down there. Now with the surge brigades they've got the reach. But the issue is we can't stay here forever and there's gotta be a persistent presence and that's gotta be Iraqi security forces. And that's always our biggest concern," he said while visiting troops from the 3rd Infantry Division's 3rd Brigade Combat Team at a U.S. patrol base on the southeastern edge of Baghdad.

The dusty base is nestled between high sand berms on what was the Tuwaitha nuclear complex, which was bombed during the U.S.-led invasion and subsequently looted, near the mainly Shiite village of Jasr Diyala, 12 miles southeast of Baghdad.

Lynch said his units had been successful in preventing the militants from fleeing the area ahead of the offensive and overall detained 150 people, including at least 30 high-value targets _ most from the rural Arab Jubour area just south of the capital.

"In the past they had exit routes so they saw the operation coming," he said. "What we did is establish blocking positions all around Arab Jubour so the enemy couldn't leave but they had to stay and fight and as a result to either die or be captured."

Lynch's comments were the latest to signal a growing impatience among U.S. commanders with Iraqi security forces amid calls in the U.S. for the Bush administration to start bringing troops home. The Americans have expressed confidence in a new strategy aimed at flooding volatile areas with U.S. troops to quell the violence, but also concern that the progress could be reversed once U.S. troops leave.

Underscoring the dangers, Lynch said two helicopters adjacent to his came under "significant small-arms" fire while flying low over the desert landscape to the patrol base, causing no injuries but leaving one aircraft severely damaged.

The brigade commander, Col. Wayne W. Grigsby, Jr., said 21 boats had been destroyed on the river and in the reeds on the banks since the operation began in force on June 15, most with secondary blasts indicating many were filled with explosive material.

He also said the military had gained intelligence from a local sheik about networks bringing armor-penetrating explosively formed projectiles, known as EFPs, on a major road that travels from the border with Iran through Shiite areas to Baghdad.

Lynch said the area had two battalions from the 8th Iraqi army division but added "there needs to be three or four times more Iraqi security forces than are currently present to provide for sustained security. That's the critical piece in all of this."

Lynch said the Iraqi soldiers with whom he had worked were professional, although many still lacked training and equipment more than four years after the war started in March 2003. He said the main problem was with Iraqi police, a predominantly Shiite force that has been accused of being infiltrated by militias.

"In my battlespace my concern is police, local police. Either they're nonexistent or the ones that are there tend to be corrupt," he said.

"Then there are large portions of the battlespace where there are no Iraqi security forces at all. And the Iraqi security forces have to be grown to a level where they can occupy these places. This is an enemy sanctuary because nobody's been out there. There are no Iraqi security forces so the enemy fills the void."

He said the extra U.S. troops had provided the numbers to curb the militant activity, which included storing munitions, training and building roadside bombs.

"But if someone doesn't secure that presence, I mean have sustained security then it's not going to work. that's the concern," he said.
We have no reason not to believe news reports such as this. Too many sources have said that the Iraqi police are "non-existent or corrupt". The Officers quoted in this article are voicing a concern about a post-surge return to lawlessness and Shia corruption. How long will it take for the Sunni insurgents and Shia government retaliators to sort out their differences. Look at Northern Ireland. How long can we stay? How long should we stay? How much time can we give the Iraqis? Six months ago here at the EB we were saying that "time had run out" with US public opinion. That opinion may still be accurate. Even if our "surge" troops are successful in tamping down the violence, the US public is not going to tolerate on-going troop deaths and casualties on behalf of Iraqis who are unwilling and incapable of governing themselves. We hear that we could be in Iraq for years and decades but it's doubtful the Sunni-Shia problems in Iraq can be resolved in our lifetimes unless one side is able to "wipe out" the other. No one really knows the consequences of a US withdrawal from Iraq. It could be catastrophic. It could spell the beginning of the end for Israel and Saudi Arabia. Or it may not be nearly so bad as we imagine. In any event, we should plan for the worst case and we should plan for it sooner rather than later.


  1. Doubt that General Lynch was lying.

    General P said it would take another decade, earlier.

    Five Congressional and two Presidental election cycles.

    Mr Lugar says its not going to happen. I tend to agree.

    The White House was reportedly "shocked: that the Congress was not going to "go alng" until Sepetember, but start voting in July:

    Another round of the standoff will play out when lawmakers return in July, says House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

    "We have many arrows in our quiver and we are sharpening them, including taking a bill to the floor in July to authorize the redeployment of troops out of Iraq, except for the purposes I mentioned, with a definite deadline of April 1, 2008," she said.

    Pelosi hopes that by then President Bush will have, as she puts it, heard public demand to begin moving U.S. forces out. Democrats would withdraw all forces except for those needed for diplomatic and remaining force protection.

    Calling the war in Iraq the key issue dragging down the confidence of Americans, Senate Democratic majority leader Harry Reid says the Senate will pursue similar efforts, starting with votes on the defense authorization bill in July.

    That from the Voice of America, this from SFGate

    The only troops that would be allowed to stay in Iraq would be those needed to directly combat al Qaeda, train Iraqi forces and protect the U.S. Embassy complex in Baghdad.

    The Senate's vehicle for any proposals will be the fiscal 2008 military authorization bill, which Reid said Friday will be taken up when the Senate returns July 9.

    "We're hoping Republicans will want to join us,'' said Rep. Chris Van Hollen of Maryland, who heads the Democrats' 2008 campaign effort to keep their newly won House majority.

    Some Republican leaders, even after the statements by Lugar and Voinovich, are appealing to Congress to give the surge strategy more time.

    "I've believed all spring and I continue to believe that we ought to allow General Petraeus the opportunity to succeed,'' House Minority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio, said this week. "Now, he has a plan in place. He's had his full reinforcement of troops only about two or three weeks.''

    The question is not about the US troops, nor General Ps' report about them and their good works.
    The only report that matters is that concerning the Iraqis and their Government.

    Mr Maliki gives US that answer, today:

    BAGHDAD — Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki condemned a U.S. raid Saturday in Baghdad's Shiite Sadr City slum — a politically sensitive district for him — in which American troops searching for Iranian-linked militants sparked a firefight the U.S. said left 26 Iraqis dead.

    The U.S. military said all those killed in the fighting were gunmen, some of them firing from behind civilian cars. But an Iraqi official put the death toll lower, at eight, and said they were civilians. Residents also said eight civilians were killed in their homes, angrily accusing American troops of firing wildly during the pre-dawn assault.
    "The Iraqi government totally rejects U.S. military operations ... conducted without prior approval from the Iraqi military command," al-Maliki said in a statement concerning the Sadr City raid. "Anyone who breaches the military command orders will face investigation."

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  3. If Mr Bush and Maliki had stood, shoulder to shoulder and proclaimed political victory, they could have announced a November handover and a long term defense pact.

    But no, Mr Bush and Ms Pelosi play politics with US soldiers lives.
    Neither are really worthy of their jobs, but we move ahead with the politicos we've got, not the ones we wished we had or deserve.

  4. His deputy, House Minority Whip Roy Blunt, R-Mo., said he doesn't see a major fissure in House GOP ranks, at least not yet.

    "I believe our members will largely reserve their decision on what needs to happen in Iraq until September. I believe that's a reasonable position to take,'' Blunt said.

    Why wait?
    The US military can "clear" to it's hearts content, but who will "hold", more importantly who will "build"?

    Without the final two steps, the first is pointless, especially since most of the Insurgents are not killed, but detained.

    All the previous trend continue, wxcept for US deaths, those are spiking in the clearing ops.

    But no holders are stepping up, because the Insurgents are representitive of Iraqi goals, we are not.

  5. We will wait until September...We will hear from the General. Hopefully, he will deliver an honest forthcoming assessment. No sugar coating. All the facts, good and bad. The American public deserves no less because it is their loved ones who are been killed and maimed there. Our politicians have no credibility with us, so now is not the time for a political military.

    The public needs to know our options as well as the possible the consequences of our decisions. The politicians would do well to honestly inform the public and let it make the decision this time.

  6. Well, whit, at the current rate, that's just another 200 to 300 more dead US Servicemen killed in the process of clearing Iraq, for whom?

    The dead are already dead, the living are not. Unless the Iraqi step up, and they are not, why have more US troops sacrificed for them. why do the Iraqi deserve further US sacrifice?

    Like throwing good money after bad.
    As I learned long ago, your first loss is your best loss, learn to cut those losses not continue them because it's a habit.

    No, holding up the honored dead, is no excuse for losing more.
    There is nothing "magic" about September.

    When Baghdad is secured, in September or October or November, then what? Another leap of faith, what is the course, post September?

    To not have one "Planned", goes back to the original failures of the escapade. One day at a time, slogging into a quagmire, afraid to admit it.

    Oh, doug, that birth rate piece, nothing to do with LA, but with the success of the IBECing of Mexico.

    I was there as a lad, watching the project as Daddy Rat implemented the early stages of the Program.

    Now that tree is beginning to bear fruit, forty years later. Real change takes time, lots of time.
    Not much ammo, really, to be successful in modifying a peaceful country.

    If the country is not peaceful, well modification is much more difficult. It will be 50 years at least, before Iraq functions like Israel, the US Standard of Success, in Iraq.

    Have not heard that Basra was declared a failure though, so Mr Bush is still disjointed in his Standards of Success, for Iraq.

    Or are Basra and Tel Aviv equal in their successes?

    Wonder if Mr Bush really has a Goal, or is just living it, day to day.

    Pickin' up the pieces, where ever they fall.
    Gettin' laid, gettin' loaded, high times carried low
    Pickin up he piece where ever they fall.

  7. If cultural modification of a peaceful country, like Mexico where 72% are practicing Christians, took US 60 years from concept to the beginnings of demographic and societal completion, with another 15 years to go, before those birth rates have impact.

    What is the REALISTIC expectation for Iraq?
    A decade will not even begin to make a down payment on the requirements.

    But that will be the minimum requirement of support, a decade more.
    Let US vote on that Program, an Iraqi Decade of US subsidy in blood and treasure, no matter what, win or lose, we stay the course for another ten years.
    That is the minimum committment required.

    Let US vote.

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  9. Then get the Iraqis to committ, as well.
    A ten year agreement, a Treaty with the democcratic Iraqi government.

    Least that is required, an Iraqi agreement on the projects timeline.

  10. But Mr Bush has no stomach for the truth, he's livin it day to day, like any addict.

  11. Or the US declares its' WILL BE DONE, regardless of what others so or want.

    We declare a war, and then win it, regardless of the elected Iraqi.

    But that'd take just as long.

  12. It is better to have a lion at the head of an army of sheep than a sheep at the head of an army of lions. (Daniel Defoe)

    We have an army of lions, led by sheep.

  13. The question to ask, why is it that the Iraqi army is not stepping up?

    Maybe it's because no one is interested in a Federal Iraq, as no one is interested in sharing their oil wealth with arab killers.

    The US has allowed the oil to go unmetered, smuggling to go unchecked, and in exchange, the US has received the lip service it wanted in regards to the Iraqi Federal Project, while it builds its mega bases in what was called Iraq.

    dRat is correct. US soldiers are dying so we could just mostly be fooling ourselves.

  14. From what I have gleaned, the Iraqi Army is stepping up in some instances but in others, there is a problem with the Officer corp being inept or corrupt or both. We're talking generations of nation building in Iraq. I doubt that's going to happen and I don't see how any serious thinkers in DC see that as the endgame.

    We are reacting to the rise of Islamic fundamentalism and the threat to our oil lifelines. We are ill prepared to deal with critical oil shortages and as a result placate the Sauds and maintain the status quo in Iraq and Afghanistan while letting the situation in Iran play out.

  15. "Play" being the operative word.

    No divestiture by US pension funds from those companies doing business in Iran.

    The best option is not even on the table. The US is giving lip service to the Iranian Challenge, if there really is a challengs, at all.

    The US is not even effectively engaging its' soft power, politically, economicly or diplomaticly, with regards Iran.
    So, obviously, there is no real threat, just more hot air from DC.

    This pieve in the WaPo tells one perspective of the story, while Mark Steyn tells a similar tale from a very different perspective when he writes"Weakness on Iran bites us".

  16. THIS is the only way to Win in the End.

  17. Even there, rufus, a lack of seriousness.

    Instead of switchgrass or algea based fermentation, the US goes for corn on premier farm land.

    Then subsidizes corn, while protecting sugarcane growers.

    Ass backwards from an economic standpoint, but right on line for payoffs amd contributions in the Iowa Caucus

  18. It's, maybe, not quite as bad as you're making it out, Rat. It's true, we will give the blenders a $3 Billion Tax Break for blending ethanol this year, BUT (and, it's a BIG But,)

    The budget for the Agriculture Dept is Down $8 Billion for the first 8 months of the fiscal year compared to the same period last year. In short, Corn is no longer being subsidized.

  19. A couple of other things: We'll bet to switchgrass by going through "Corn Stalks." That's where we'll hone the process and optimize the enzymes needed for cellulosic.

    Also, the advantages of sugar cane over corn are being quite a bit overstated right now. It's a "Politica" thang. The oil companies and their minions can't really attack ethanol, right now; but "Corn" is fair game. Of course, obviously, if you can kill "corn" ethanol in the U.S. you can kill "Ethanol."

  20. Well, I certainly did not know that the corn subsidies were over, good thing.

    As to the progression from corn to switchgrass, I bow to your greater background knowledge and expertise.

    Perhaps it is "better" than I had thought, it would certainly be good, to be wrong.

  21. We will have a monster corn harvest of close to 14 Billion bushels. After accounting for the DDGS we will use about 1.7 billion bushels for ethanol. That's about 12%. We're going to have corn coming out our ears, again.

    That's the thing (DDGS) that the corn critics keep (conveniently?) overlooking. When you run a bushel of corn through an ethanol still you get back 3 gallons of ethanol, and 1/3 Bushel of DDGS (livestock feed which substitutes for the corn that was primarily going to be used for . . . livestock feed.)

  22. Is the nutrional value of the DDGS degraded?
    By that I mean to ask is there as much nutrion in the 1/3 bushel of DDGS as the was in the original bushel of corn, or is it decreased by the lack of bulk?

  23. Rat, it's a "close" call. I'm trying to study up on that some, myself. I've recently found a new Distillers Grains Website, and I started reading some ot the articles this morning.

    My impression, right now, is that they are a "Pretty Close" fit, but that feeding livestock is a pretty danged Scientific thing, and one should beware of over-generalizations.

    I think I'll go out on a limb and say that it looks to me like you probably lose about 20% efficiency in most cases.

  24. Searing Heat Poised To Blast Valley
    115-120 Degrees Expected On July 4th

    And yet the people continue to flock here, from both the north and the south, regardless.

    While I count the days until I can escape, in style.

    17 years ago it hit 122, I day I'd just a soon forget, but damn it was hot.

  25. Geez, I got busy being wordy and missed the main gist of your question.

    No, the 1/3 bushel (18 lbs) of DDGS would be just a little less nutritionally than 1/3 bushel of corn. I think there are probably cases where you might actually have a slight gain over the same amount of corn.

  26. So 54 pounds of corn produces 3 gallons of ethonal and 18 pound of corn equivalent feed, more or less.

  27. With corn selling at around $2.90 per bushel, now.

    There being two bucks worth of product (corn) in three gallons of ethonal, and one dollar worth of cattle feed in each bushel

  28. Yep, More or Less.

    Also, you get about 18 lbs of CO2. There is a market for this, although I think geography might be much more important with CO2 than with the other co products. This MIGHT turn into a VERY Valuable product in the future. An example being: the Gov of Il is talking about building a pipeline down to the oil wells in the southern part of his state where the CO2 can be used to recharge old wells.

    Also, many of the newer plants will burn some of the stalks and corncobs for generation, and will produce "Char" for fertilization.

    Still others, such as Corn Plus in Winnebago, Mn, burn the DDGS for energy. There's a zillion ways to skin this cat.

  29. Rat, when all is said and done the coproducts will just about pay the overhead (excepting feedstock.) I'm talking NG, electricity, Amortization, insurance, Labor, etc.

    Divide the cost of a bushel of corn by 3, and you'll be pretty close.

    If you have "Senior" memory like me just remember: It's about a dollar a gallon.

  30. And, that's with NO Subsidies.

  31. They talk about $0.65/gal cane alcohol down in Brazil; but, I warn you, "That's Brazil," and Brazil is very much a "Socilist" Country. I'm just not convinced you can take everything you hear about "Costs" to the bank.

    I'm, also, not convinced that Brazil is more than one bullet away from being Venezuela.

    One thing I AM sure of is that that figure is derived by using huge amounts of what amounts to "slave" labor. How long can that last? Maybe forever? Maybe not.

  32. here is an interesting piece relating to production

  33. Yes, it was an interesting article, Rat. The biofuel express is picking up speed rapidly, and I'm having a devil of a time figuring out where I want to try an catch a ride. The fact that I'm old, fat, and lazy surely doesn't have anything to do with it, of course.