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

Friday, July 20, 2007

Iraq, an Alternate View. US Adapts?

(hat tip: Doug)
The military is often criticized for fighting the last war. In Iraq the military, as always, have been fighting as prescribed by the political thinking of their rulers and masters in Washington. Those ideas included firing the Iraqi army, using too few troops for occupation, allowing the looting to go unchecked for weeks, and worse of all, encouraging some Utopian dream of majority rule that ensures an Iranian client state. There was no last war to fight that compares to the Iraq experiment. Like all experiments, practice makes perfect, or so thinks Krauthammer, who sees some Sunni light at the end of the tunnel.

The 20 Percent Solution
By Charles Krauthammer Wapo
Friday, July 20, 2007; Page A19

Amid the Senate's all-night pillow fight and other Iraq grandstanding, real things are happening on the ground in Iraq. They consist of more than just a surge of U.S. troop levels. Gen. David Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan Crocker have engaged us in a far-reaching and fundamental political shift. Call it the 20 percent solution.

Ever since the December 2005 Iraqi elections, the United States has been waiting for the central government in Baghdad to pass grand national accords on oil, federalism and de-Baathification to unify and pacify the country. The Maliki government has proved too sectarian, too weak and perhaps too disposed to Iranian interests to rise to the task.

The Democrats cite this incapacity as a reason to give up and get out. A tempting thought, but ultimately self-destructive to our interests. Accordingly, Petraeus and Crocker have found a Plan B: pacify the country region by region, principally by getting Sunnis to join the fight against al-Qaeda.

This has begun to happen in Anbar and Diyala. First, because al-Qaeda are foreigners. So are we, but -- reason No. 2 -- unlike them, we are not barbarous. We don't amputate fingers for smoking, decapitate with pleasure and kill Shiites for sport.

Third, al-Qaeda's objectives are not the Sunnis'. Al-Qaeda adherents live for endless war and a reborn caliphate. Ultimately, they live to die. Iraqi Sunnis are not looking for a heavenly date with 72 virgins. They are looking for a deal, and perhaps just survival after U.S. troops are gone.

That's why so many Sunnis have accepted Petraeus's bargain -- they join our fight against al-Qaeda, and we give them weaponry and military support. With that, they can rid themselves of the al-Qaeda cancer now. And later, when the Americans inevitably leave, they'll be better positioned to defend themselves against the 80 percent Shiite-Kurd majority they are beginning to realize they may have unwisely taken on.

The bargain is certainly working for us. The recent capture of the leading Iraqi in al-Qaeda's Iraq affiliate is no accident, comrade. You capture such people only when you have good intelligence, and you have good intelligence only when the locals have turned against the terrorists.

The place of his capture -- Mosul -- is also telling. Mosul is where you go if you've been driven out of Anbar and Diyala and have no other good place to go. You don't venture into the Shiite south or the purely Kurdish north where the locals will kill you.

The charge against our previous war strategy was that we were playing whack-a-mole: They escape from here, they reestablish there. Petraeus's plan is to eliminate all al-Qaeda sanctuaries.

You hardly hear about that from the antiwar Democrats in the Senate. But you did hear it from someone closer to the scene: Shiite lawmaker and close Maliki adviser Hassan al-Suneid. He is none too happy with the new American strategy. He complained bitterly about the overtures to Sunni groups in Anbar and Diyala. "These are gangs of killers," he told the Associated Press. Petraeus is following a plan according to a "purely American vision."

How very true and very refreshing. We had been vainly pursuing an Iraqi vision that depended on people such as Suneid and Maliki to make the grand bargain. So now, the American vision. "The strategy that Petraeus is following might succeed in confronting al-Qaeda in the early period, but it will leave Iraq an armed nation, an armed society and militias," said Suneid.

Again, he is precisely right. His coalition would not or could not disarm the militias. So Petraeus has taken on the two extremes: (a) the Shiite militias and their Iranian Revolutionary Guard enablers, and (b) al-Qaeda, with the help of local Sunnis.

For an interminable 18 months we waited for the 80 percent solution -- for Nouri al-Maliki's Shiite-Kurdish coalition to reach out to the Sunnis. The Petraeus-Crocker plan is the 20 percent solution: peel the Sunnis away from the insurgency by giving them the security and weaponry to fight the new common enemy -- al-Qaeda in Iraq.

Maliki & Co. are afraid we are arming Sunnis for the civil war to come. On the other hand, we might be creating a rough balance of forces that would act as a deterrent to all-out civil war and encourage a relatively peaceful accommodation.

In either case, that will be Iraq's problem after we leave. For now, our problem is al-Qaeda on the Sunni side and the extremist militias on the Shiite side. And we are making enough headway to worry people such as Suneid. The Democrats might listen to him to understand how profoundly the situation is changing on the ground -- and think twice before they pull the plug on this complicated, ruthless, hopeful "purely American vision."
with all the links here


  1. Mr Krauthammer plays the current Administration tune with regards Iraq.
    Disregarding the previous Strategic design, now playing for success against the couple thousand aQ agents from Algeria, Eygpt and Saudi Arabia, there in Iraq.

    Interesting that those interests expressed by US, early on, have been abandoned. The success of the early elections, the constitution and the later elections, touted as success are, now, all indications of failure.
    The US approved the process, Mr Bremer knew the sectarian results of the elections before they were held, the US went forward, regardless.

    It is to late to turn back now.

    The Sunni caused US great discomfort, but account for only 20% of the population. If the majority, the 60% that Mr Sistani controls, lose faith with US and turn on the US mission, well ...

    It's already beginning, as Col Pinkerton's story relates, as maintaining schools in Ramadi as terrorist headquarters confirms.

    Iraq for Iraqis, that is the only way forward that will find a successful outcome, for US.

    If we chose to arm all sides of the civil and sectarian violence, no good will come of it. Reconciliation, political agreement between the Iraqi parties, without a Baathist surrender or defeat, impossible.

    As Mr Yon related, the 1920 Brigades are playing US against Baghdad. We've been suckered in, trying to minimze US casualties rather than allowing the Iraqi to settle their problems or win the war ourselves.

    The US treats Iraq as if it were a local, rather than regional theater. Still fighting the last war, the one against Saddam.

  2. "The US treats Iraq as if it were a local, rather than regional theater. Still fighting the last war, the one against Saddam. "
    That's what Abizaid said, then he was replaced.

    What do you think we should have done in Anbar when the Marines said it was lost a year ago, 'Rat?

  3. US says Iraqi rebel head is an invention

    General Bergner said Mashhadani helped create Islamic State of Iraq as a "virtual organisation" that is essentially a pseudonym for al-Qaeda in Iraq.

    The front organisation was aimed at making Iraqis believe that al-Qaeda in Iraq is a nationalistic group, even though it is led by an Egyptian and has few Iraqis among its leaders, he said.

  4. Men in Iraq should make sure that they don't stand around in groups of three.

  5. Rich Lowery calls on Bush to commute the sentences of the two border patrol agents convicted of illegally shooting a Mexican drug runner.

  6. What should we have done a year ago, or what should we do a year from now?

    That doug is the more serious question.

    I'd have depopulated the city, into refugee camps, razed it, then started again, from scratch.

    Or I'd have partitioned the country, from the beginning.

    But neither of those options were chosen for US policy.
    The course chosen was a Federal Iraq, with a sectarian basis, an Islamic Iraq, per their US approved Constitiution.

    That's the entire point, doug, what happens in Anbar is an Iraqi problem, not a US one, unless it threatens US, at home. Whether Anbar is part of a "happy" Iraq is unimportant.

    Whether Iraq is a physical threat to the US homeland, greater than Pakistan or Russia, that is the ONLY reason to maintain the troop levels and mission in Iraq.

    Iraq is not that kind of a threat to US. There are, at most, 2,500 foreign fighters, aQ, in Iraq. That is all there has ever been. The Sunni / Shia divide in Iraq has little, nothing to do with aQ. Every yhing to do with Baathism and past genocides, mass graves dug by the Sunni, filled with Shia and Kurdish bodies.

    The 1920 Brigaders story and General Lynch's report both tell that same tale.

    Stopping the Iraqi Army from arresting US sanctioned anti-Government Insurgents, operating from a public school, most likely painted and buffed, by US, only weakens our position with the Iraqi Government and the majority of the people, there.

    Whether we like the way the Iraqi Government operates, or not, does not matter.
    Iraq does not appear on a map of the United States, Mexico and Canada do.

  7. This comment has been removed by the author.

  8. If Anbar was or is a real threat to the United States, then destroy that threat, do not try to fund it, subverting it for our own purposes.

    That subversion will not succeed.
    Not in the long term.
    Not while the Baathists continue to rule that area.

  9. The real question, doug, what will President Clinton do in Anbar, in the Spring of '09

    (CBS) A new CBS News/New York Times poll out Thursday shows 63 percent of voters believe it's likely that Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton will be elected the first woman president in U.S. history if she wins her party's nomination.

    While opinions about the New York senator are strongly divided by gender, majorities of both men (59 percent) and women (65 percent) surveyed think it's very or somewhat likely Clinton will win the presidency.

    Even most Republicans (53 percent) think Clinton will win — as do 77 percent of Democrats.

  10. There's a poll I agree with. Hillary, or Hillary/Obama, are going to be hard to beat. How many minorities would vote for Romney? Zero blacks, next to zero hispanics. I think the women are going to turn out for Hillary in droves. Things look grim. This stalling of the 'grand immigration compromise'--we may wish we had taken it. I agree with those that think about the only thing that might change the equation would be a big attack on the USA, and it's hard to figure what the effect that something like that might really be. Of course there is Iran. Bush launching a bolt out of the blue looks less and less likely. Tis not the season to be jolly if you are for a forward defense abroad, a small government at home, and a sane American culture more or less reminiscent of what we have known in the past in our better times. Figure on a recession two, three, four years out, after the taxes go up. Calculate in some lifestyle changes. Weigh the option of heading for the hills, caves!:)


  11. "If the majority, the 60% that Mr Sistani controls, lose faith with US and turn on the US mission, well ..."

    The 60% has its own chief objective and that is to clear out as many Sunni as it can - secure its realm, as it were - in preparation for our eventual departure. They've gotta be thinking, Rat, that as a despised regional minority, no advantage (including Persian backing) can go unsought. As there will be no long-term security agreement between us and them, and as hell will freeze over before we fight our way back in, they are correct in presuming that they will be on their own. Under those circumstances, I'd be working like hair on fire to rid my area of every last Sunni, too. As is being done in western Baghdad.

    Iraq for the Iraqis? Absolutely.

    But not before 2009. No way, no how.

  12. Then, trish, it'll be President Clinton leading US out of Iraq.

    Oh, bob, when the housing industry is in a depression, when the US auto makers are in a depression. When US newspapers are in a depression, hard to sell the country is not in a recession.

    Look at Ford's truck sales numbers fall off, trucks, all that's kept the Ford boat afloat.

    Just depends upon what numbers a person watches, but lost value is lost value.

  13. On the other hand the DOW is at an all time high(means nothing to stockless me) and the paper here is bulging with employment ads. The farmers are doing well, most of them.---I got 37.93mpg, including the two and a half tanks of ehtanol!, in my 2000 Nissan Sentra, on my trip. Those Ford pickups and SUV's get in the teens. With gas at $3.20/gal. it gets tough being a socker mom, or red blooded American teenager these days! In Moscow, there is not a shack for under $125,000. To me, it seems absurd, what some of the prices have become. Dad always said 'buy from the old, sell to the young', and I think he was right. The old folk remember how things used to be. There is no farmland market around here anymore with prices based on what the land might actually produce. Not even close. It's a new world, and I'm beginning to feel a stranger in it.

  14. ahh, the DJIA, the Wall Street Journal had a front page article, day or two ago.

    Inflation adjusted, even at 14,000 the Dow has taken a lickin', over the past 6 years. Do not have the paper here, but it was enlightening news, from the Bancrofts, before they sell out.

  15. Farmland prices, based upon production ...

    We left that realm, here in the Phoenix area, oh, about 20 years ago. I think we led the way in farmland sales and leasebacks. Waiting upon development.

    Even empty desert dirt, unbelievable prices. Even built out, the condo units will have to be priced $300,000 and up.

    $125,000 for a shack, that's cheap, amigo, compared to here.
    I see a big shake out coming over the next 3 or 4 years, prices will continue to soften, collapse in some cases.
    Looked at a singlewide trailer on a lot, a wreck really, $185,000.
    Junior is still in his old bedroom.

    A lot of blood in the water, soon.
    Even with the new bankruptcy law, they've almost doubled over a year ago, here.

  16. Heard on the radio, over 80% of the US is living month to month, paycheck to paycheck.

    Get mortgage interest rates back to historical levels, 7-10%, the entire housing market will implode. Gas stays in the $3.00 range or bumps ...

    Lots of blood in the water, it'll be a feeding frenzy for those that are capable sharks.

  17. What's in a name?

    - Sebastian Walker, al Jazeera.
    - John P. Walker, al Qaeda.
    - John A. Walker, Soviet Spy.

    Just a coincidincy, I'm sure.

  18. APNewsAlert
    07-20-2007 4:22 AM

    ISLAMABAD, Pakistan (Associated Press) -- Judge says Supreme Court has reinstated Pakistan's suspended chief justice.

  19. Hamdan bites the Federals in the ass, again. The remedy that the GOP produced was not adwquate to the task.
    Seems to be their normal operating procedure.

    WASHINGTON (Associated Press) -- When Guantanamo Bay detainees challenge their status as "enemy combatants," judges must review all the evidence, not just what the military chooses, a federal appeals court ruled Friday.

    The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit rejected the Bush administration's plan to limit what judges can review when considering whether the military tribunal acted appropriately.

    When detainees are brought before military tribunals, they are not allowed to have lawyers with them and the Pentagon decides what evidence to put forward. If the tribunal determines a prisoner is an enemy combatant, he can challenge that designation in a federal appeals court.

    But government attorneys argued that the federal judges only had the authority to review a summary of the evidence put forward during the tribunal hearing. The appeals court ruled Friday that they needed all the evidence.

    Without all the information, the court said, deciding whether the tribunal acted appropriately would be like trying to figure out the value of a fraction without knowing both numbers.

    The decision is significant because, if the Supreme Court upholds the administration's tribunal system, federal courts will have a broader review of the process than previously proposed.

  20. ISLAMABAD, Pakistan (Associated Press) -- The Supreme Court on Friday reinstated Pakistan's top judge, ruling that his suspension by President Gen. Pervez Musharraf was illegal and dealing a major blow to the authority of the staunch U.S. ally.

    The ruling to reinstate Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammed Chaudhry is probably the biggest challenge to Musharraf's dominance since he seized power in a coup in 1999. It could further complicate his bid to win a new five-year presidential term this fall and comes at a time when Islamic militants are on the offensive.

  21. General Lynch tells it like it is. Multiple years of further work to, maybe, reach a successful conclusion to the surge, let alone the rest of the political challenges in Iraq.
    Kiss the White House and a GOP filibuster capable Senate minority goodbye.

    BAGHDAD (Associated Press) -- If the U.S. troop buildup in Iraq is reversed before the summer of 2008, the military will risk giving up the security gains it has achieved at a cost of hundreds of American lives over the past six months, the commander of U.S. forces south of Baghdad said Friday.

    Maj. Gen. Rick Lynch, commander of the 3rd Infantry Division, mentioned none of the proposals in Congress for beginning to withdraw U.S. troops as soon as this fall. But he made clear in an interview that in his area of responsibility south of Baghdad, it will take many more months to consolidate recent gains.

    "It's going to take through (this) summer, into the fall, to defeat the extremists in my battle space, and it's going to take me into next spring and summer to generate this sustained security presence," he said, referring to an Iraqi capability to hold gains made by U.S. forces.

    Lynch said he had projected in March, when he arrived as part of the troop buildup, that it would take him about 15 months to accomplish his mission, which would be summer 2008.

  22. Military support for Paul

    So we now know that, measured in terms of financial support, Ron Paul, the one GOP candidate who actually backs individual liberty against government power, is now ahead of Huckabee, Brownback, Thompson (Tommy) and Tancredo. He’s the alternative to the Big Three. But guess who are among his strongest supporters?
    The U.S. military. Paul has a staggering 52.53 percent of all military contributions.

    And Mr Paul wants to depart Iraq ASAP, soldiers are voting with their wallets.
    Realities, ain't they grand

  23. "Then, trish, it'll be President Clinton leading US out of Iraq."

    And ain't that a bitch.

    Too bad Petraeus got the frontal lobotomy; he could be helping us out, here.

    Alas, tis not to be.

  24. Dan Rather, trish, it's all his fault

  25. HOUSTON (Associated Press) -- A U.S. citizen convicted of receiving training at a terrorist camp alongside al-Qaida members in his efforts to help overthrow the Somali government was sentenced Friday to 10 years in prison.

    Daniel Joseph Maldonado, 28, a Muslim convert also known as Daniel Aljughaifi and Abu Mohammed, also was fined $1,000.

    Maldonado admitted to traveling in December to a terrorist camp in Somalia, where he was trained to use firearms and explosives in an effort to help a group called the Islamic Courts Union topple the government and install an Islamic state. Members of al-Qaida were present at the camp.

    Maldonado was captured by the Kenyan military while trying to flee Somalia in January and brought back to the United States in February.

    CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. (Associated Press) -- A Marine convicted of kidnapping and conspiring to murder an Iraqi civilian who was killed by troops looking for an insurgent will not serve prison time, a military jury decided Friday.

    Cpl. Trent Thomas was sentenced to a bad-conduct discharge and reduced pay. He could have received life in prison for his role in the April 2006 killing of the retired Iraqi policeman in the village of Hamdania.

    Thomas, of Madison, Ill., was among seven Marines and a Navy corpsman accused of snatching 52-year-old Hashim Ibrahim Awad from his house, marching him to a nearby ditch and shooting him after they botched an attempt to capture a suspected insurgent.

  26. Signs of the times--rocket launcher found in lady's front yard in New Jersey, on the flight path of the airport.

  27. Israel needs some new prophets to rail against the rich. What's happened to the Israel of Independence times, and the kibbutz?

  28. Here you go,Rat. Miami may be on the leading edge of what you are talking about.

    I bumped into a guy last night that used to help me work on my machinery. Second wife had just died, thousands and thousands in medical bills, living in a tent on somebody's farm, working, 64 yrs of age. Who said life was fair. Told him he could stay with me for awhile, turned me down, too far away from where he's working. Gas prices.

  29. My friend's dad used to fish Here He's part native american. I remember Celilo Falls, as we stopped by there a couple times before it was flooded out. The Dalles used to be a big trading center also for all the tribes around. The coastals would come upstream, and those up this way go downstream to The Dalles, and trade stuff.

  30. ..bring good things to Life.™

  31. GE--$40.24, down $0.47 from yesterday. Live Better Electrically.

  32. The Indians hated to see Celilo Falls go. Live better without electricity. God-damned white men.

  33. Was good, now heap shit. Flat water. Carp. Crap.

  34. There has been a big movement around here to take out the 4 lower Snake River Dams. Almost to the point of success a few years ago. Celilo Falls is on the Columbia. Nuclear generating plants could replace the power from the Snake River Dams, though the port capacity of Lewiston would be gone, not a real big loss. Portland, Oregon needs some flood control, how much is debatable. I sure wish we could get rid of a good portion of them anyway. But one must admit, hydropower is as clean as it gets for the land and air. Sure screwed the fish runs though, which were truly magnificent. Those salmon and steelhead would surge up the river, beautiful fish, runs at differing times of the year. There's a lake on the other side of Idaho--Redfish Lake--used to turn red from the dying salmon. Not a very big lake, their final destination. I think we could bring most of it back, but we'd have to get over the hang-up about nuclear.

  35. This comment has been removed by the author.

  36. Johnnie Walker, Red
    Alexander Walker
    Alexander Walker II

  37. "Iraq is not that kind of a threat to US. There are, at most, 2,500 foreign fighters, aQ, in Iraq. That is all there has ever been. The Sunni / Shia divide in Iraq has little, nothing to do with aQ. Every yhing to do with Baathism and past genocides, mass graves dug by the Sunni, filled with Shia and Kurdish bodies."

    Regional wars, revolutions, and hegemons are threats to the US.

  38. Deepest Apologies for bad link:
    The Real Crawlies are here:
    There's frontal lobotomies and
    Dorsal Extractions.

  39. 7 Rules, 1 Oath
    ...course the Iraqi Govt, Sadr, Badr, and etc will have to be brought into the fold.
    details, details.

  40. Just as Iranian strategists do not limit themselves to support a single Shia political group or militia, they do not constrain their interests to a single sectarian group. The Iranian government is pragmatic.

    Iranian outreach to Sunni insurgents is a central component of their strategy in Iraq. While some academics and analysts argue that Iranian ideology precludes any such links to radical Sunni Islamists, history belies their analysis:

    Iran founded Palestinian Islamic Jihad, a Sunni Islamist terrorist group, and the first foreign official whom Khomeini invited to Tehran after his the Islamic Revolution was Yasir Arafat, at the time, a Sunni Marxist.
    Arafat's ideology may have been anathema to Khomeini, but his mutual antipathy toward the West trumped such concern.

    Iran's strategy for Iraq is complex. Tehran sees establishment of functioning democracy in Iraq to be an existential threat. The Iranian leadership finds any alternate source of religious leadership intolerable. Rather than establish a parallel Islamic Republic, therefore, Tehran seeks a compliant, little brother. For this, informal influence is key. Militias, proxy politicians, and a sophisticated information operations campaign are important tools to establish and protect such influence.

    While U.S. authorities seek stability and security, the assumption that the Islamic Republic does--the basis of the Baker-Hamilton Commission findings--is as naïve as it is dangerous. Stability and security, if not on Iran's terms, may erode Iranian influence. Policymakers in Tehran may not want to live next to Somalia-like violence, but they do not want to live next to Swiss-style tranquility either, if it means ordinary Iranians will juxtapose their own society's stagnation and oppressiveness with growing affluence and freedom next door. Sometimes, there is no common ground. U.S. and Iranian interests in Iraq are diametrically opposed, and will continue to be until one side wins and the other loses.

    Diplomacy in such a context becomes a mirage, a tactical tool to divert U.S. policy attention away from the Revolutionary Guards and intelligence officials charged with implementing the Iranian leadership's objectives.

  41. Then cutler, wht are there no US troops in Pakistan?
    It is a much greater threat to the US than Iraq is.

    Since the US is not engaged in a regional war, nor one with Iran. I think we should be, but we are not.

    Only in Iraq, based upon the Authorization for Use of Force Iraq.
    Unless Mr Bush and the Congress no longer chart the course for US through the Rule of Law.

  42. Benazir Bhutto is heading back to Pakistan, with the idea of running for office again. Wonder what reception she will get. Can't fault her on the courage scale, I'd think.

  43. Very Good Post, Deuce. I do believe you've got a talent for this sort of thing. :)

  44. Most of them seem to think it's more important to get Pelosi into prison rather than pardon Scooter. Second choice, bomb Iran.

  45. Ayaan Hirsi Ali

    Man, What a BabyDoll. If we just had a few million more of these the world would be a much cooler place.

  46. Hey, Rufus, you're right. I was reading her book 'Infidel' but didn't finish it because of a trip. She's got a lot of courage and had a lot of struggles in her background. She also has a very definite target on her back now. She may not be the best philosopher in the world, but break away, she sure did. She had to do with that movie made by van Gogh. The muzzies can't handle a woman like her. First thought that comes to their mind is to kill her. Kill what they can't control.

  47. I'm getting ready to go to bed. If I had AG III here I bet I could get to sleep a lot faster.

    Who knew a Prius could go OVER a Hundred Miles/Hr. Toyota should hire him as a Salesman. That might be his destination in life. His Daddy sold Snake Oil; at least, he can sell a few cars.

    Nite all.