“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, July 12, 2007

Daisy Cutter, Daisy Cutter, give me your answer true

Daisy Cutter, Daisy Cutter, give me your answer true

A guestpost by Viktor Silo.

All endeavors are composed of two parts: means and ends. In discussing Iraq, if one were to ask: "By what means and to what ends are we fighting there?", you couldn't get a definitive answer from either our military or political leaders. However, the mission as currently practiced, stripped of rationalising verbiage, is to supplant evil with goodness. We wanted to start a revolution in the middle east by replacing the region's growing theocratic fascism with democracy. And the seeds of this democratic revolution were to be planted in Iraq. To everyone's chagrin, though, the cultural soil has proven to be not only hard pan but contaminated with the poisons of centuries of old hatreds and prejudices. So toxic is the culture that new ideas do not grow there; new ideas cannot grow there. Islamist values couple with and exacerbate murderous internecine feuds that render the middle east into an intellectually barren mindscape and a society that could be fairly described as "a little people, a silly people - greedy, barbarous, and cruel..." *

One accepts that theocratic fascism is evil, but its opposite is not democracy. Democracy is not goodness; it is, at best, a means to an end. Democracy, even in our own society, is subordinate to morality. That's why we have a Bill of Rights which limits the powers of our democratically elected government. Islam tolerates no dissent. Under Sharia law there cannot ever be and will not ever be a bill of rights. Under Sharia law, both individuals and democratically elected governments will always be subordinate to an Islamic theocracy, in all matters. In Turkey we can see that a democratice style of government is not the bulwark against a theocratic despotism that we hoped it would be. The people of the middle east are not going to stop being Muslims. The installation of democracy to counter an Islamic theocracy is nothing more than a masturbatory fantasy of those Kantian inspired "peace through democracy" theorists: the liberal internationalists.

As a wartime rationale, replacing evil with goodness is a naive idealism. But if this is not a defensible rationale for war then what is? It should only be, to use the lingo, when our society faces "a clear and present danger." Under this rubric, the purpose of a war becomes clear. We wage war to remove an existential threat to our society. Forcing "democratic principles" on another nation is, ultimately, an exercise in futility unless the forcing power has the intention of a permanent occupation which, in practical terms, is really a colonisation. Regardless of what one thinks of the legitimacy of colonisation, it is an expensive endeavor and will never succeed unless the cost of colonisation can be recouped from the assets of the colonised country. In the present international political climate such a recouping is a non-starter.

The first phase of the Iraq war, the military invasion, was based on legitimate fears. Saddam not only had and but used a WMD (biological weapon), was intent on starting a nuclear program, hated the U.S.,had started two major conflicts with Iran and Kuwait, and was a ruthless and politically ambitious megalomaniac. The major worry was that if Saddam got his hands on nuclear weapons he might hook up with Al Qaeda as a delivery mechanism. A regime change in Iraq was a logical and justifiable military intervention. The fact that it was implemented incompetently does not negate the fact that the rationale for the invasion was based on sound reasoning.

The second phase did not. Besides being illegitimate it was gross, stupid and careless. That said, we are there and unless we want to court more attacks on our country or our country's international assets or our fellow citizens when they travel abroad, we must win in Iraq. Furthermore, if we go broke and leave Iraq in its present state there will be, by most accounts, a bloodbath of epic proportions and the blame for this, rightly or wrongly, will fall on our shoulders. If we cut and run we will be viewed with contempt and we will have little or no influence on the world stage. And we will be viewed as a paper tiger. If that happens, we may as well paint a target on our back. It is vital to our security that the U.S. is viewed as a credible military and moral force.

So, what are the means to victory? In my opinion we need to replace the "Muslim theocratic fascism is evil and must be eliminated" type of wartime narrative and substitute for it: "Muslim theocratic fascism is dangerous and that danger must be eliminated." The substituting of one narrative for the other is important. There will always be Muslim extremists as long as there are Muslims. One cannot eliminate all Muslims. This is not even theoretically possible. Our actions will never and can never conform to this narrative. "Eliminating the danger from Muslim extremists" is a narrative that our actions can conform to.

We are fighting a boots-on-the-ground, bang-bang you're dead war. Fifty-five thousand** enemy dead at a cost of $450 billion. The cost to make an enemy fighter bite the dust: 8 million dollars! While the $8 million dollars per enemy K.I.A. is bad news, and probably represents the most expensive cost of killing each enemy fighter in history, it is not the worst news. The worst news is that 55,000 enemy dead is not nearly enough. Four years in, we probably needed to have killed several times this number to make their attrition rates higher than their replacement rates. The enemy has a billion people to draw from. At the present rates of attrition the enemy has an endless supply of recruits. Unless we change our ROEs to include "take no prisoners" we are not going to increase the enemy's attrition rates and this change isn't going to happen. Therefore, our war strategy has to change dramatically in order to defeat them. No matter how valiantly our soldiers fight, this war, as presently fought, cannot be brought to a successful conclusion. None-the-less, it will conclude but not in our favour. What will end the war is that, if for no other reason, the U.S. will simply run out of money and the enemy knows it.

So, what is the answer? I say that we need to change targets. The enemy needs to be supplied. Supplies are the life-blood of the enemy. Somebody supplies the enemy with their munitions, somebody supplies the enemy with their food, somebody supplies the enemy with their shelter. Their suppliers are countries or they are NGOs that operate within a country with its tacit consent. Countries have infrastructure upon which their economy depends. Any country supplying the enemy, directly or indirectly, needs to have its infrastructure severely damaged or, if they won't comply, destroyed. I would start with Syria.

The Syrians know very well that the U.S. has very large, very powerful conventional weapons that could cripple their country. Yet, they are unafraid. They know that, at present, we lack the will. This has to change. We need a president who, domestically, will stare down the State Department, reluctant generals and the American left. Countries need to know that we have the means and the will to cripple their economies if they collaborate with the enemy. We should economically cripple Syria. Then let other countries observe. Will Syria retaliate? Syria has very little to gain by continuing to supply Al Qaeda and much to lose.

This kind of military option requires almost no boots-on-the-ground. Remember, the attack on Syria or other countries would be purely punitive. We would not be trying to kill or capture anything. It is, also, relatively inexpensive.

Additionally, minimum loss of blood and treasure takes away a significant propaganda advantage from our adversaries, both domestic and foreign. They will no longer be able to exploit our casualties and expenditures by presenting them in a sentimental context. It is the basic goodness in the American culture that makes it vulnerable to such sentimental overtures.

Internationally, we also need a president who will stare down world opinion. It is important to change the dynamic of world opinion. America has to quit being so defensive about its natural right to self-preservation. In these matters, it is simply not important what the world thinks of America. Maybe foreign powers ought to consider what America thinks of them.

Will this strategy work? I don't know, that's for sure. But cutting and running has no upside. It is a guaranteed losing proposition. Going after our enemy's collaborators is a bold move but there is no possibility of us losing if we don't flinch.

*T.E. Lawrence in the movie "Lawrence of Arabia"
** Source:


  1. Countries need to know that we have the means and the will to cripple their economies if they collaborate with the enemy. We should economically cripple Syria. Then let other countries observe.

    In 1939-1940 Hitler started biting off pieces of Europe one at a time: Czechoslovokia, Poland, France, Denmark, Norway. Eventually the liberal democracies drew a line in the sand and said no more. Britain fought off operation Sea Lion and eventually became the launching pad for Normandy. Bush has two fronts going on right now (Afghanistan and Iraq), he's got some troops on their FIFTH deployment, and with GOP defections congress is getting closer to cutting off the war funding. If the American people don't stop Bush from tearing off Syria, Iran, Lebanon, Gaza, and Pakistan one at a time, the world will. THERE ARE LIMITS!

  2. Great post, as usual, Viktor.
    The lightbulb finally went on as I read the beginning of your piece wrt explaining GWB's Paralyzed Deathgrip Mental Process:
    To admit the totality of such a mountain of compounded errors would require a man of greater wisdom than poor W will ever possess, I fear.

    The absurdity of acting as though we can achieve Iraqi reconciliation simply because we want it, and W says it should be so reflects a childishness explainable only by Total Denial.
    Like every other situation he has deemed "unacceptable," WE will have to come to accept it even as he continues to deny the reality.

    Your strongman solution reminds me that State was going to install Barbara Bodine as Viceroy when they said Gen Garner had to go!
    She of Cole infamy, killer of our top FBI Al Queda expert!
    No doubt would have installed Joe Wilson, the Truthteller himself, and old UCSB chum in some critical post.
    That we should be thankful we got Bremmer instead only lends more shame on the man never known to face down an adversary in DC.
    Better to turn our other cheeks, and let the enemy decide for the decider.

    Let the New Tone Ring!

  3. Syria should have been dealt with almost immediately after reaching Baghdad, once they made clear they had every intention of sabotaging our effort.
    The Dentist's 400 Soviet Tanks could have been eliminated for a song.
    A days work for our Spectres and A-10s, and good practice, to boot!

    Having denied the reality in Warizistan, first reported on by ABC news almost 3 years ago, it has now grown to such proportions that I think Daisy Cutters are the "solution," although I have been told some of the higher elevations are above it's effective ceiling.
    Substitutes are readily available.

  4. The US is treading water, waiting scenario, Ms T.

    Waiting to react to provocative actions by Syria, in Lebanon, by US rolling west.

    The gun is still there, still in the holster. The Army that rolled into Baghdad could still roll on to Damascus, given provocation, for political cover.

    Waiting for provocation or marking time, depends upon perspective.

    Those 140,000 Turkish troops on Turkey's southern frontier could drive south, or southwest or east.

    They are staged on the edge of more than just Kurdistan. A mobile Army as large as the one we have deployed in Iraq. A 60 year ally.

    Don't sell the Generals short.
    They are the only real world hope we have, to reach an acceptable level of violance.

    There is still a master stroke that could be played, the piecces are dropping into place.

  5. If W had simply done what he promised he would do in 2002, (reading Dave Frum's great speechs) we wouldn't be here.

  6. Bet it looks a lot like Kuwait circa 2002 in Silopi and Yuksekova, Turkey, today.

  7. Steve @ threatswatch on my "Solution:"
    "Regarding ‘unforgiving airstrikes,’ this can be but a part of the solution/operations. Please recall Tora Bora. There is no negotiating nor tempered operations that will destroy al-Qaeda, and no solution short of the destruction of a martyrdom-seeking fanatical ideologues. And this is the difference between combating al-Qaeda and combating Iraqi insurgent groups. Their endgames are different and thus our methods can be different and even tempered.

    An insurgency is won by causing combatants to lay down their arms or pointing them in the opposite direction. (1920’s Brigades, anyone?)

    A war against terrorists with a deathwish is won by granting their wish on our terms, nearly down to the (fanatical) man by necessity.
    It's his site, so I'll let it stand.
    Since the audience here is the Rabble of the EB, I say:
    Tora Bora?
    Bigger Bombs!!!

  8. Source: I put html tabs on the source at the bottom of the post
    read here

  9. Implicated officer's hometown comments on Haditha Massacre

    These are comments from residents of Rangely, CO, home of Lt. Col. Jeffrey R. Chessani, 42, a career Marine officer who graduated from Rangely High School in 1982.
    Chessani was recently relieved of his command, presumably in relation to his actions at Haditha."Jeff's going to wind up getting more time than that guy who killed 3,000 people on 9/11," said a disgusted Lee "Roper" Collier, who went to high school with Chessani, referring to Zacarias Moussaoui."
    "He's going to take the fall, just like Oliver North,"
    said Dale Lane.
    Red Honeycutt quickly grew tired of the conversation and left the table agitated, wearing a T-shirt that honored the National Guard.

    He has known Chessani since he was a boy.
    "He's a hell of man," Honeycutt said, slipping past without another word.
    Denver Post

  10. Human (Un)Intelligence (HumUnt?)
    [Steve Schippert]

    Mike Tanji swears It’s like we’re trying to lose.
    I have to agree.
    While you're there, check out this Oldie but Goodie.


  11. Well, for you local vs Federal fight fans, here is a win for the locals. Senator McCain came down on the "wrong" side.
    Happy he's gettin' his ass kicked.

  12. Hawaiian Teen Fujikawa to Turn Pro
    (5 Feet Tall!)

    Derrick Fujikawa said his son, who was often the smallest kid around, has always been a ''fierce competitor.''

    Fujikawa was a fighter from the time he was born -- 3 1/2 months early, so small that he weighed only 1 pound, 15 ounces and could fit into his grandfather's palm. Fujikawa, who had only a 50 percent to live, made it through a series of surgeries the first year, one to reconnect his intestines.

    ''I try not to think about those days,'' Derrick Fujikawa said. ''He went through a lot. I don't know how he does it, but everything he does he tries his best at. That's the main thing.''

    Fujikawa received a sponsor's exemption to the Reno-Tahoe Open, which starts Aug. 2.

    Kevin Bell, a partner in the law firm who will serve as his attorney-agent, said Fujikawa will ask for other sponsor exemptions on the PGA Tour or try to qualify on the PGA Tour, Nationwide Tour and in Japan until he finishes high school.

  13. Scenes that we've all seen before

    Let me tell you some more.

    Circles and cycles

  14. Whit and 2164th

    Thanks again for letting me have a guest post at EB. Unfortunately, it will have to be my last for a while.

    I am in poor health. My blood pressure as of a week ago was 175/124. The Doc says that, at my age, if I don't get it down there will be serious consequences. I used to think that, at my age, the only major problem I would have is getting it up. But, life is full of surprises. My wife thinks my involvement with politics is what is causing it. I had to promise her that I would quit concerning myself with politics, at least until things normalise.

    So, I'm going to mothball my own site and quit the 'net for the foreseeable future. I like and will miss the people who hang out at the EB: Doug, DR, etc., even that wretch, Habu.

    To Whit and Deuce (if I may), I know it takes a lot of effort to keep a site going and you have my respect and admiration.

    Hope to see you around sometime

  15. Why is this not reverberating?

    A democratic Federal Iraq will not hold. A democratic Checkoslovakia and democratic Yugoslavia did not hold, and neither will a democratic Iraq. Why, for gahd's sake, are we trying to pin the success of this democratic experiment on the stupid premise of a Federal Iraq? Why?

  16. Viktor be well. Thanks, as always, for your thoughtful contribution(s).

  17. This comment has been removed by the author.

  18. Viktor,
    C-4 says get a good Cosmopolitan Cardiologist like I got:
    With todays meds, you can do politics and still have a mellow BP.

    I even cheat and take Sudafed w/my coffee and politics sometimes!
    Walking uphill is also good in a multitude of ways.

    Maybe our Cosmopolitan Dentist in Residence can give you a referral!

  19. "As many as 80 suicide bombers per month cross into the country from Syria, said the interim assessment "
    Simply brilliant to let that go on unanswered for years on end.

  20. This comment has been removed by the author.

  21. Doug: Simply brilliant to let that go on unanswered for years on end.

    It's the same reason we let the foot traffic from Mexico go unanswered Doug, job security for companies who lobby Bush and Dick.