“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."

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Sherween, a Small Story and a big Problem.

"I fully understand that this is a difficult war, and it's hard on the American people. But I will once again explain the consequences of failure to the American people, and I'll explain the consequences of success," George Bush.

In the previous thread Doug recounted the story as to how Patton relieved beleaguered US forces in Bastogne by moving three divisions one hundred miles in three days.
General Anthony McAuliffe, when surrounded by Germans at Bastogne, Belgium (Battle of the Bulge, 19 Dec. 1944), answered the besieging Germans' surrender demand by his now famous response: "Nuts!" Today, the town's central plaza is named after him, and a restaurant on the plaza still carries the response. Eisenhower asked LTG Patton how long it would take to get his Army to Bastogne to relieve the salient. Patton answered, "Three divisions in three days." Eisenhower was furious with Patton, believing Patton was living up to his cocky reputation. What Eisenhower didn't know is that Patton has already wargamed the scenario, and at the word "Go" could execute on order. On 26 December he arrived in Bastogne with three divisions. It took him just three days...
I could not help thinking about that when I read this article posted on a Lebanese website. It is a dismal and pathetic little story. After four years in Iraq, this is a problem that should not be. Picture it magnified a thousand times if we just pack up and leave.

Sunni extremists seize control of village in Iraq The Daily Star
Sunni extremists seized control of a remote village northeast of Baghdad in a fierce battle with residents who pleaded for rescue by the Iraqi Army and police as they tried to defend their homes, the deputy provincial governor said Tuesday. In Baghdad, a big mortar and rocket attack on the capital's heavily fortified Green Zone compound on Tuesday killed two Iraqis and a Filipino and wounded 25 other people, Iraqi police said.

Police said some 30 mortars and rockets were fired at the compound, which houses the Iraqi government along with the US and British embassies. It was one of the biggest barrages against the zone since the US-led invasion in 2003. A US Embassy spokesman said he was not aware of anyone getting killed

Against the backdrop of violence, President George W. Bush rejected a new wave of attacks on his Iraq strategy Tuesday, shrugging off a Republican revolt and Democratic demands for troop withdrawals within four months.

There were few details of the fighting in the village of Sherween, a village of 7,000 Shiites and Sunnis in Diyala Province on Baghdad's northern gates. But the assault appeared to be an attempt by extremists to move into a new area, where residents say the two communities have gotten along relatively well.

For the past three weeks, US troops have been fighting to dislodge insurgents who had turned the provincial capital, Baqouba, in to their stronghold and were using it to launch attacks in nearby Baghdad.

A Sherween resident on Tuesday called Diyala Deputy Governor Auf Rahim and told him insurgents launched an assault on the village the day before and that fighting was still raging.

"Come help us or they will slaughter us all," Rahim said the resident told him in the call. Armed villagers were fighting back, but the attackers appeared to have largely gained control, Rahim told the Associated Press.

Rahim said the caller told him 25 militants and 18 residents were killed and 40 people wounded in the fighting, he said. The casualty figures could not be independently confirmed. The resident said the fighters belonged to Al-Qaeda in Iraq.

An Iraqi Army officer in the Mansouriyya region close to Sherween confirmed that insurgents appeared to be in control of the village, 60 kilometers northwest of Baqouba. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the press.

The fight underlines the continued struggle in Diyala, where militants believed to be from Al-Qaeda in Iraq have reportedly left mass graves of victims in areas under their hold.

The soldiers have found whole streets and buildings wired with explosives, bomb and weapons factories and prisons run by extremists - and, Iraqi officials say, the bodies of 35 people slain by militants and dumped in village on Baqouba's outskirts.

The fight for Diyala has also highlighted the weaknesses of the Iraqi security forces, which US commanders acknowledge are unable to stand on their own despite three years of efforts to train them.

Bush, facing the most coordinated attack yet by the Democratic-led Congress on his tactics in Iraq, warned that US generals on the battlefield, not politicians in Washington would decide US troop levels.

"Troop levels will be decided by our commanders on the ground, not by political figures in Washington," Bush said on a trip to Ohio.

"I fully understand that this is a difficult war, and it's hard on the American people. But I will once again explain the consequences of failure to the American people, and I'll explain the consequences of success," he said.

The latest Democratic effort to demand a new course change unveiled Tuesday would require troop withdrawals within 120 days of enactment of the measure, then get most combat troops out of the country by the end of April 2008.

Future US operations would be limited to fighting terrorism, training Iraqi troops and protecting US assets, and the bill would effectively end Bush's strategy to surge up to 30,000 extra troops into the cauldron.

The White House also pushed back against reports Iraq's government will fail miserably in a key US survey of political and military progress due later this week, as a poll found seven in 10 Americans wanted most troops home by April.

"The Iraqis and the US forces have met some benchmarks and they haven't met others at the starting point here," Bush's spokesman, Tony Snow, told NBC television. - Agencies


  1. It began about 100 miles out of Williston, North Dakota, the first symptoms of the pareidolia. Been on the road too long, pushed my wife past her limit, to the outer edge. First came the flying goose, which morphed into an SST, then into a diving bear with an open mouth. Then later a sting ray. There was Abraham Lincoln, dead as a doornail, staring blankly upward, and the, later on, why there was Jesus. She saw a coke bottle too, and I admit, after she pointed all these things out to me, I saw them too.
    Williston, which is near the geographical center of the USA--'small raw towns we live and die in''-W.H. Auden--had the most unexpected pair of seagulls sitting right at the very top of the golden arches of the local McDonald's. How they got all the way out here, looking for big mac, is hard to say. Back at Grand Forks Air Force Base they had the neatest robotic perimeter defense robot--all sorts of eyes and sensors, could scoot around the base on his wheels on a road by the fence. Wheat began in western Minnesota, nothing but corn before that.. Minnesota State Police helped out escorting these massive blades--I mean huge- for the wind generators, on the freeway.--Infinity Wind Energy was the manufacturer. In N> Dakota the highway construction showed the top soil in places went to 6 or 8 feet, beautiful dark thick top soil, if you like that sort of thing. But then in other areas big sand and gravel pits. Under the top soil, sand from ancient droughts. Small oil wells around, back in operation with the higher prices. No road kill, very few trees. Williston actually has a college, and the only Motel 6 we've seen with a computor for the customers. Gosh, it's swell to not know much of what's going on in the world. Ignorance is blisss. Heading for the big high park today.

  2. Again, Mr Snow diverts attention from the facts and reality.

    It is not the US military function or mission to find a solution to Iraqi problems. The US Commander has already announced it is a Mission Impossible, to secure Iraq, militarily.

    The only "benchmarks" of interest are political. The US cannot spin that failure into success. Unless it changes course, and declare Mr Maliki, his government and Army competent and capable.

    If after four years of training, they are not ready, the trainers have been inept. Heads should roll pver the failures, but they do not, at least publicly. General Casey still not relieved of authority in the military.

  3. Pragmatic voices, like those of Mr Dick Morris, answer whits' question, what will come next?
    If we do not begin to withdraw from Iraq.

    The US will have an undivided Democratic government. That is Mr Bush's "Way Forward" for US.

    It is time for some battle field triage. The real question, what is more worth saving, democracy in Iraq, or balanced government in the USA.

    Are we willing to sacrifice the political future of the US for the Shia of Iraq's government?

    Mr Bush is willing to, are the rest of US?

  4. "... From the point of view of Iraq, a gradual pullout makes all kinds of sense. The lesson of Vietnam is clear: If the public get so turned off on a military intervention, it will force Congress to ban any further involvement, making it inevitable that our enemies win. But if the administration salvages a modicum of public support by way of a prompt but gradual withdrawal, it will preserve the option of re-entry by air or land should an adverse situation arise. We probably could have stopped the North from winning in Vietnam had Congress not banned any air or ground involvement after 1974. We must not fall into the same trap in Iraq.

    Besides, beginning a pullout may even force the government in Baghdad to get moving on real reforms in the distribution of oil revenue and the sharing of political power in the hope of slowing the pace of the withdrawal.

    But Bush faces a stark choice: If he doesn’t begin pulling out, his party will lose the White House, lose Congress by stunning and likely filibuster-proof margins, and his tax cut and education reforms will be repealed. His footsteps will be obliterated from history. It will be as if he never served.

  5. Desert Rat: If after four years of training, they are not ready, the trainers have been inept. Heads should roll pver the failures, but they do not,

    Heads are starting to roll. Eleven GOP Senators have jumped ship, that's almost enough for a veto override on any more of this "stay the course" crap. And then heads will literally roll in the Iraqi government.

  6. At least 10 Republicans in recent weeks have said the U.S. should start reducing the military's role in Iraq, with the latest challenge to the president's Iraq strategy coming Tuesday from Sen. Elizabeth Dole.

    "Simply put, our troops have been doing a great job, but the Iraqi government has not," Dole, R-N.C., said. "Our commitment in Iraq is not indefinite, nor should the Iraqi government perceive it to be. It is my firm hope and belief that we can start bringing our troops home in 2008."

  7. Here is an interesting piece about our NATO ally, Turkey, and how US weaponry is being supplied to PKK terrorists operating in Turkey, from Iraq.

    Turkish Ambassador Complains That U.S. Weapons Turning Up in Hands of Kurdish Guerrillas

    WASHINGTON (Associated Press) -- Turkey's ambassador to Washington said Wednesday that U.S. weapons have been turning up in the hands of Kurdish guerrillas staging attacks in Turkey.

    Nabi Sensoy said that the United States is not doing enough to influence Kurdish politicians in key positions in the Iraqi government to crack down on the Kurdistan Workers Party or PKK, which has been fighting for an independent Kurdistan within Turkey for decades. He said that Turkey has been pressing the United States to ensure that U.S. weapons supplied to Kurdish forces within the Iraqi army are not funneled to the PKK.

    He did not suggest that the U.S. has been supplying the PKK directly. But he accused Kurdish members of the Iraqi government of allowing the group to operate in northern Iraq and to stage cross border attacks into Turkey.

    Wonder which scenario would be worse, that Mr Bush knew and approved of US weapons being supplied to the terrorists, or that he didn't have any knowledge of it, at all.

    Neither speaks well to management of the situation, really.

  8. For the Turks, having the US in Iraq now:
    "Worse than Saddam"
    During the 1990s, Turkish troops penetrated Iraqi territory several times, sometimes with as many as 50,000 troops. The Turkish forces withdrew, leaving behind about 2,000 soldiers to monitor rebel activities.

  9. We are sounding just like the Taliban government in Afghanistan.

    We will not arrest the PKK miscreants, the Taliban would not arrest Osama and aQ.

    The US demanded action against the criminals, the Taliban denied responsibility. While denying US access to the criminals.

    The Turks demand action, the US denies responsibility. While denying Turkish access to the criminals.

    The US was within its' rights to invade Afghanistan, in pursuit of terrorists that had struck the US.

    The Turks are within their rights to invade Iraq, in pursuit of terrorists that have and are striking Turkey.

  10. DR, there are a few of us at least who do not share your faith that the Turks are god and faithful US allies. I am no expert and have nothing to base this on except their performance during the initial Invasion of IRAQ. They prevented the deployment of the 4th Infantry Div through their territory poassibly causing a time lag that could have allowed dispersal of WMD's and/or other munitions since used against our troops. Your comment?

  11. They certainly did that, dave h.

    But what of it. They are still the end game. The Turks, much more so than the Israeli represent the best case scenario to mimic in Iraq.

    But even so, dave h. Even if they are not a US ally, which they are, a NATO ally of 60 some years, their rights to self protection remain the same.

    They could demand NATO assistance, being invaded as they are, from Iraq. While the US provides Sanctuary to the very terrorists, by keeping the Turks at bay. And refusing to deal with it, ourselves.

    It is an either / or option, for the Turks they offer.
    We deal with or they do.

    Seems reasonable.
    That the US does not have the capacity to be there, then it rightfully falls to the Turks to defend themselves.

    They are not obligated to sustain a US approved "level of violence" that Israel finds acceptable.

    Whether in the US best interests or not, the Turks are within their rights, both to bar US transit and to invade Iraq.

    After being on the payolla gravey train for 60 years. That's the loyalty proffered by todays crop of Mussulmen leaders.
    Democracy at work.

  12. Turkey and its' relationship with US is the direct result of the best work of sixty years of cross-training, dual operations and NATO engagement.

    They, more so than Pakistan, our best Mussulman majority ally, in the World.

    They are migrating to a radicalized mussulmania, the balancing agent, the Turkish Army, needs the war, politically. Or so it's been reported. The coming Turkish elections are one of the motivating factors.

    Iraq is being buffetted by the storms of its' democratic allies and neighbors.

    Turkey into Iraq
    Syria into Lebanon
    The US ...

  13. Time to tell the Turks to Fuck Off.

    The Turks really need to be put in their place. It's not enough that they destroyed 30,000 Kurdish villages and displaced millions in their ethnic cleansing campaign, they now want to invade and occupy Iraqi Kurdistan. Best the Turks deal with the Russians directly. Enough of allowing them to hide behind NATO and the Americans.

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