“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."

Monday, July 16, 2007

A Must Read Article at New York Times

A lot of interesting news this morning, but none as important as this article about the complications we find ourselves involved with in Iraq. At the very time the surge is beginning to have some effect, the Democrats and many Republicans are ready to throw in the towel. There simply is no simple resolution to the dilemma we face in Iraq. We stay, we face years of hell. We leave and Iraq achieves a critical mass and explodes with consequences unknown. Never say things cannot get any worse. They can.

Mistrust as Iraqi Troops Encounter New U.S. Allies the New York Times (Hat tip: Doug)

NASR WA SALAM, Iraq, July 10 — Abu Azzam says the 2,300 men in his movement include members of fierce Sunni groups like the 1920s Revolutionary Brigade and the Mujahedeen Army that have fought the American occupation. Now his men patrol alongside the Americans, who want to turn them into a security force that can bring peace to this stretch between Baghdad and Falluja.

A few miles away, in the town of Abu Ghraib, Brig. Gen. Nassir al-Hiti and his brigade of Iraqi Army soldiers also have the support of the American military. But they have a different ambition, some American commanders here say: doing everything they can to undermine Abu Azzam’s men, even using a stolen membership list to single them out for wrongful detention.

General Nassir, a 37-year-old former special forces officer, denies that, but says he has strict orders not to support “unofficial” groups and to arrest armed men, no matter who they are. He says he supports those who join the security forces but objects to “those who have Iraqi blood on their hands and who kill our soldiers.”

The gulf between Abu Azzam’s men and the Iraqi soldiers remains vast, with American troops sometimes having to physically intercede. And it is an unmistakable caution that the full depths of the problems facing Iraq cannot be measured in the statistics about insurgent attacks and sectarian killings that carry so much weight in Washington.

The United States has placed great hope in its deepening ties with Sunni leaders like Abu Azzam who have vowed to fight Islamist militants. But his mostly Sunni group, the Volunteers, is different from the American-allied tribes in the Sunni heartland of Anbar Province, in part because it patrols only 40 minutes from central Baghdad and close to large Shiite districts. So American commanders view this as a crucial test case for whether Shiite leaders will tolerate new alliances with Sunni groups.

If General Nassir’s unit, the Muthanna Brigade, is any indication, the outlook is not promising, said Lt. Col. Kurt Pinkerton, a 41-year-old California native who has spent the past months cultivating his relationship with Abu Azzam.

About a month ago, the Iraqi brigade, which is predominantly Shiite, was assigned a new area and instructed to stay away from Nasr Wa Salam, Colonel Pinkerton said. But he said he believed that the Iraqi soldiers remain intent on preventing Sunni Arabs, a majority here, from controlling the area. He cites a pattern of aggression by Iraqi troops toward Abu Azzam’s men and other Sunnis, who he believes are often detained for no reason.

Recently, and without warning, Colonel Pinkerton said, 80 Iraqi soldiers in armored vehicles charged out of their sector toward Nasr Wa Salam but were blocked by an American platoon. The Iraqis refused to say where they were going and threatened to drive right through the American soldiers, whom they greatly outnumbered.

Eventually, with Apache helicopter gunships circling overhead and American gunners aiming their weapons at them, the Iraqi soldiers retreated. “It hasn’t come to firing bullets yet,” Colonel Pinkerton said.

A few weeks ago, he said, a Sunni detainee was beaten to death while in custody of the Muthanna Brigade. And in the past year, he said, Muthanna soldiers detained two of Abu Azzam’s brothers, both of whom said they were abused, and raided Abu Azzam’s house.
the complete article here


  1. ---
    Saudi jihadists now make up half the foreign fighters in Iraq
    Saudi double game update.

    "Saudis' role in Iraq insurgency outlined,"
    by Ned Parker for the Los Angeles Times
    (thanks to Hot Air):

    BAGHDAD — Although Bush administration officials have frequently lashed out at Syria and Iran, accusing it of helping insurgents and militias here, the largest number of foreign fighters and suicide bombers in Iraq come from a third neighbor, Saudi Arabia, according to a senior U.S. military officer and Iraqi lawmakers.
    About 45% of all foreign militants targeting U.S. troops and Iraqi civilians and security forces are from Saudi Arabia; 15% are from Syria and Lebanon; and 10% are from North Africa, according to official U.S. military figures made available to The Times by the senior officer. Nearly half of the 135 foreigners in U.S. detention facilities in Iraq are Saudis, he said.

    Fighters from Saudi Arabia are thought to have carried out more suicide bombings than those of any other nationality

  2. ""It needs to be addressed by the government of Iraq head on.
    They have every right to stand up to a country like Saudi Arabia and say,

    'Hey, you are killing thousands of people by allowing your young jihadists to come here and associate themselves with an illegal worldwide network called Al Qaeda.
    But, of course, 4 years in, and Bush bears no responsibility for allowing Syria to tranship killers of our troops.
    How low can our standards go?

    The more time that passes, the more I think we would have been better off with a Dem POTUS, cause then the Pubs and the Savant Right wing Blogs would be holding said Dem to account.

    This way, the defeatists and the blogospheric loyalists alike allow this travesty of a CIC to carry on the madness.
    Both the White House and State Department declined to comment for this article.

  3. The Saudi justice system's a lot like that of Elizabethan England but without the theological backing from which a reform might arise from within. Off with their heads!

  4. "Nafeek, who had been denied a lawyer at her trial, is one of 5.6 million foreign workers who live in Saudi Arabia. The vast majority are domestic workers such as Nafeek, employed to look after the homes of oil-rich families."
    W and the Sheiks compare notes about the joys of having a slave class to serve the elites.

  5. "The workers commit big crimes against Saudis,"

    said Suhaila Hammad of Saudi Arabia's National Society for Human Rights.

    She said the number of executions had risen because crime had increased.
    She said that prisoners were treated humanely and that beheadings deterred crime.
    When Beheadings are Outlawed, only Outlaws will have Heads.

  6. "Once the young Saudi made it in, he was under the care of Iraqis who gave him his final training and indoctrination.
    At the very last minute, the bomber decided he didn't want to blow himself up.
    He was supposed to have been one of two truck bombers on a bridge outside Ramadi. When the first truck exploded, he panicked and chose not to trigger his own detonator, and Iraqi police arrested him.

    Al Qaeda in Iraq and its affiliate groups number anywhere from 5,000 to 10,000 individuals, the senior U.S. military officer said.

    Iraqis make up the majority of members, facilitating attacks, indoctrinating, fighting, but generally not blowing themselves up.

    Iraqis account for roughly 10% of suicide bombers, according to the U.S. military.
    Them Saudis are nothing, if not nuts!
    Sure makes blowin up fellow Iraqi's Children Convenient and Painless!

  7. From that link: why am I not surprised - at the impunity with which the Saudis continue to exact brutal punishment laid down by a regressive code of laws; or at the verbal outrage of international human rights groups; or at the myopic blindness with which the US is plagued with that prevents them from seeing what the Saudis really are?

    doug, you left out the second part of that sentence at the end, which I believe might be revealing:

    Fighters from Saudi Arabia are thought to have carried out more suicide bombings than those of any other nationality, said the senior U.S. officer, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the subject's sensitivity.

    Yes, we are so afraid of stepping on the Saudis' robes because they are a key ally in the GWOT and in Iraq, no? Apparently, though not surprisingly, drawing attention to the thin veneer of decency that the Saudis are pulling over our eyes about their insidious intentions is something that is regarded as 'sensitive' and potentially damaging to friendly relations with our beheading-happy Saudi buddies.

    Amnesty International says some defendants are convicted solely on the basis of confessions obtained under duress, torture or deception.

    Oh really? Once in a while, I gape in amazement and profound disbelief that these constant truths - having been around for decades given the modus operandi of Middle East regimes - still have to be repeated, and apologists still treat it as if it's the first time they are reading about it.

    Most of the time, however, I just cynically shake my head disapprovingly and move on.

  8. Good One:

    "...When Beheadings are Outlawed, only Outlaws will have Heads."

  9. welcome back Bob, and am enjoying your comments. The vacation renewed you.

  10. "Once in a while, I gape in amazement and profound disbelief that these constant truths - having been around for decades given the modus operandi of Middle East regimes - still have to be repeated, and apologists still treat it as if it's the first time they are reading about it. "
    Prior to 9-11, bin Laden's Yacht would park offshore Wailea, Maui, and us plebes would lie on the beach in Swimsuits as the Long Tall Women in Brilliant White Robes strolled by, pretending we did not exist, at least as equal humanoids.

    A Lady Hula dancer that performed where my wife worked was propositioned to come to the Sheik's quarters to do God knows what.
    This mother of two chose not.
    Her "Portagee" husband might have eliminated some Jihadis had she said yes!

  11. If we had the chance, us Hawaiians would create a Samoan Special Forces Anti-Terror unit, and Jihadis would disappear quick-like.

  12. 9th Century Barbarians Meet their Match:
    Samoan Latter Day Saints Brigades!

  13. The basis of the current US Policy is that Abu Azzam and General Nassir are compatriots in a "new" Iraq.

    Nothing could be further from the truth. The US has to threaten Iraqi Army units, to keep them from patroling Iraq, with US weapons and gunships.
    The problem will be solved by September, the 1920 Brigades no longer Sunni anti-Government Insurgents, the Iraqi Army no longer an arm of the Iraqi (Persian) Government.

    Everyone works for US, forever.

    Reconciliation, defined.

  14. Tiger:
    "In my town you can hear 5 different languages spoken in the same shop, easy. In some parts you had better speak the local language or you'll be ignored.

    Welcome to HiCrimeMultiCultTown, USA; the REAL America; the way George wants it. "
    Multicult Amerika,
    MutiMuslim Cult, Iraq.

  15. Col Pinkerton more comfortable with the Enemies of a democratic Iraq, than with its defenders.

    Tell US something about US and Iraqis, aye?

  16. Stand with the Enemy, in the War on Terror, you become the Enemy.

    Now the US arms Iraqi insurgents directly and Kurdish terrorists attacking Turkey from Iraq, through the Kurdish militias.

    The US aiding and abetting terrorists in Iraq, in an attempt to salvage a tactical success.
    All the while destroying the US's and Mr Bush's moral authority.

    Supporting the Enemy, calling them friend, as they take our guns and money. The lawyers must love it.

  17. Those Waffen SS guys, really they're just like US, once you get to know them.

  18. Loyal, obedient and morally straight, the Waffen SS.
    Do not lie or cheat.
    Juust kill civilians by the score, a little rape, some pillage and kidnapping while they were in charge, mass graves and all.

    But more like US than not.
    Have faith, open your minds, hermanos

  19. I'm still waiting for my
    *USED* Zyklon-B cannister to arrive from Amazon, then I'm gonna buy one of Prince's bargain basement CD's, and we're gonna party like it's 1939!

  20. KIRKUK, Iraq (Associated Press) -- Twin suicide car bombings exploded within 20 minutes of each other in Iraq's north on Monday, killing at least 80 people and wounding around 150 in attacks targeting a Kurdish political office and ripping through an outdoor market, police said.

    The attacks in Kirkuk began around noon when a suicide bomber detonated his explosives-packed truck near the concrete blast walls of the headquarters of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, the party of Iraqi President Jalal Talabani.

    Now, one wonders, who planted those bombs?

    Sunni Insurgents from the 1920 Brigades posturing with violence the Sunni position on local Kirkurk elections and the Kurds stopping the "oil deal"?

    Or the Turkomen terrorists, supported by the Turkish Intellignece services, prepping for invasion?

    Persian miscreants stirring up disorder in the north?

    Wahabbist miscreants stirring up disorder in the north?

    Kurdish factions opposed to Mr Talabani, stirring up trouble in the north?

  21. (Associated Press) -- BEIRUT, Lebanon AP) _ A bomb hit a U.N. peacekeeping force patrol on a coastal road in southern Lebanon on Monday, a Lebanese security official said, the second such attack targeting the force in less than a month.

    The bomb struck the convoy as it was driving through the village of Qassimiyeh near the southern port city of Tyre, the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media.

    Lebanon's state-run National News Agency said "a small bomb" exploded near a U.N. peacekeeping force observation post in Qassimiyeh, causing damage but no casualties. It gave no further details.

  22. The new Palestinian Prime Minister today demanded that Israel agree to entering final peace talks, claiming that a series of confidence-building meetings between his entity's President and the Israeli Prime Minister would otherwise be pointless.

    Salaam Fayyad made his demand as Mahmoud Abbas and Ehud Olmert held their latest summit in Jerusalem today.

    During this morning's meeting, the Israeli Prime Minister handed Mr Abbas a list of 250 security prisoners - most of whom are affiliated to the President's Fatah party - who Israel have agreed to release as a goodwill gesture. A spokesman for the Israeli Prime Minister said the prisoners would be released by Friday.

    Mr Olmert is also believed to have told the Palestinian leader that Israel was offering an amnesty to almost 200 Palestinian gunmen, also affiliated mainly to the secular Fatah movement, who have been on the run for years. The 189 West Bank-based gunmen had agreed to sign a pledge not to launch any further attacks, in return for the amnesty.

  23. Here it comes, the Mission will need to be redefined, in September. A new Authorization, the Congress to declare the original fulfilled.
    Mr Warner and Mr Lugar will lead the way. Success and now, a redefining moment. As was sure to come.

    Now, instead of Mr Bush, leading with an Iraq/US Treaty, requiring only Senate ratification, Mr Warner's way will take the new Authorization through the House. Mr Bush vetos a GOP way forward, post September?

    Behind the curve, Mr Bush and his team of reactionaries remain.

    Sen. John W. Warner (R-Va.) said yesterday that the congressional resolution approved in October 2002 that gave President Bush authority to use force in Iraq needs to be changed because it no longer covers what U.S. forces are doing or will do in the future.

    The former chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee recalled during an appearance on ABC's "This Week" that Bush was given authority to protect the United States from Saddam Hussein and enforce United Nations resolutions involving Iraq's weapons of mass destruction. But Warner said that the original resolution "does not embrace what the missions are today and the missions that are likely to take place with our forces."

    Because, hermanos, Senor Warner y Senor Lugar can read the papers, too:
    Democrats outraised Republicans about $80 million to $50 million from April through June.

  24. Just as Mr Testor, of Montana said not long ago, the Mission succeeded.

    Same as Ms Clinton and Mr Byrd.

    There will be a veto proof majority for redefinition of the Mission, post September.

    Ir Mr Lugar and Warner lead it, seems they are.

  25. See, hermanos, communication skills, propaganda management are all important, in a long ideological war.

    A war that is more political, economic and pits corporate consumerism against family stalls in local marketplaces.

    A war of blind submission vs intellectual honesty.

    A war that is not a war at all.
    Because short of genocide, there is no military solution, according to the military professionals in charge.

  26. The dominos do fall, once the first tile topples. How far ahead of the toppling tile can one see?

    Col Pinkerton does not trust the Iraqi Army, now. Because he is operating contrary to the best interests of the Iraqi people, as constituted with a US applied seal of approval.

    He is arming the enemy of a democratic Iraq.
    Fostering a greater Civil War, when the referee steps aside.

    a 180 degree course change, touted as a success, against aQ, but left unmentioned as a further unraveling of reconciliation.
    Per Col. Pinkerton and General Lynch. As well as CIA Director General Hadley.

    Persians and Baathists, behind every bush

  27. But he was a NAZI!

    Not by choice, he only joined to get ahead, to have a good job. While his fellow Baathists maintained his privilage, with mass murder, rape and pillage.

    He only supported and benefitted from their criminal actions, but that is not his fault.

    Or they could not be our friends.

  28. Anyone that has ever participated in group punishment, as the norm, can understand.

    Guilt is more than an individuals responsibility. It encompasses family, clan and tribe.
    As well as political associations.

    With US or against US.

    But all about US, today.
    Yesterday's goal is down the memory hole.

  29. 'Hey Bobal, you need to get out more' -Tiger--Ain't that the truth! We went through mostly farm country, not even going through the big cities on the freeways. So it's tunnel vision to an extent. Among other things, we need an English only amendment, or some other only langauge amendment, as a country gets along better speaking the same language, seems to me. You must be from Miami or LA. High crime, tower of babel. May the lord have mercy on you.

    Those American White Pelicans out in Montana all spoke the same language and were getting along well, gorging themselves along the watercourses. Not an argument among them!

  30. The second generation is usually bi-lingual at home, english speaking on the street.

    Here in the land of multi-generational immigrant families.

    Just like speaking Italian at Grandma Mary's house, she spoke poor english or good italian as suited her mood. Answered in english, usually or maybe just when us kids were around?

    My mother @ 72 speaks nary a word of italian, now. I don't have a clue about it, 'cept it is a little like spanish.

    The Spanish speaking parents I know, their kids all speak english, just fine.

  31. I faintly remember my aunt speaking a little Swedish, now and then. Yup, seems to take about one generation, is all, if the desire to integrate is there.

    yag orca inta--or something like that--meant 'I just can't do it'

  32. WASHINGTON (Associated Press) -- President Bush will call for an international conference this fall to include Israel, the Palestinian authority and some of their Arab neighbors to help restart Mideast peace talks and will pledge increased aid to the Palestinian government of President Mahmoud Abbas, The Associated Press has learned.

    Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice would lead the peace conference, which would include representatives of Israel and "neighbors in the region," said a senior administration official who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

    Bush planned to speak Monday afternoon at the White House about the peace conference and U.S. financial and diplomatic support for Abbas, who controls just the West Bank after the Islamic militant group Hamas gained authority over Gaza in June.

    Bush will portray this as "a moment of choice" between two paths for the Palestinian people _ one represented by the moderate government led by Abbas and his Fatah faction and that of Hamas.

    The official spoke anonymously because the president had not yet given his speech.