“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

Where Zawahiri is Going. Continuing the previous thread.

Dead man walking?

(Hat tip: Sam)

Sam, by now Bush is toxic to any conversation or idea about almost anything. No one respects anything he has to say. At least LBJ had the sense to know he was finished and stood down. It does seem that we hanged the only guy who could keep the Iraq fire under control. At this stage it would take a coalition of 500,000 mostly non US troops to secure Iraq of which 350,000 would not fight. The fighting would still fall on the Americans the Aussies and a few other stalwarts.

The political waters are so spoiled that the only way that happens is if things get worse, and I fear they will. Zawahiri wants to open a new front in Pakistan to outflank Afghanistan and break the coalition there. If that happens, and it only takes the death of Musharraf, all bets are off. Zawahiri is an Egyptian. Zawahiri wants to take Egypt and Mubarak down.

Zawahiri will focus on the Palestinians, Jordanians and Lebanese with the ultimate goal of bringing Egypt into the fray and killing Mubarak. It is interesting to look back to August 2002.

After Musharraf, is he next?

When Bush got the idea in his head to go after Saddam, Mubarak begged him not to do it, but afterall what did Mubarak know about the Middle East? Here is a 2002 report from the Australian ABC

Egypt warns US not to attack Iraq

AM - Wednesday, 28 August , 2002 00:00:00
Reporter: Mark Willacy

LINDA MOTTRAM: United States President George W. Bush has been trying to convince a reluctant ally in Saudi Arabia to support an American strike against Iraq and he's been doing so as Arab voices were being raised in a new chorus against any assault.

Included overnight was that of one of the most senior leaders in the Middle East, Egypt's President Hosni Mubarak, who delivered a sharp warning hot on the heels of US Vice President Dick Cheney's strong reassertion of the case for an attack.

Amid the sound and fury over whether or not to go to war, British and American warplanes were engaged over Iraq, not in the beginning of a new conflict, but in the now very extended effort to contain Saddam Hussein, under post-Gulf War arrangements.

Middle East correspondent Mark Willacy reports.

MARK WILLACY: For George W. Bush winning friends and influencing people in the Middle East is proving a frustrating task. Now one of the more moderate and democratic Arab states has lined up against the US President's push for a strike against Saddam Hussein.

In typically blunt fashion, Egyptian President, Hosni Mubarak, is warning of turmoil in the Arab world should the US military go into Baghdad.

HOSNI MUBARAK [translated]: If you harm the Iraqi people while the Palestinians are still suffering it will only fuel the anger of the Arabs. No leader in the Arab world would be able to stop people expressing anger at such a move.

MARK WILLACY: And in a clear reminder of the mood of the Middle East, President Mubarak has reminded George W. Bush that not one Arab state, not even Kuwait or Saudi Arabia, wants a strike on Iraq.

A veteran of the shifting sands of Middle Eastern politics, the Egyptian leader knows full well that a US led regime change in Baghdad would inflame Islamist elements within his own country.

But Hosni Mubarak is right when he argues that no one here wants the United States trooping around Iraq.

In the last few days, Qatar has joined the list of Arab states counselling President Bush against military action. Jordan's King Abdullah argues that hitting his neighbour would open a pandora's box in the Middle East. Privately his officials fear a strike would devastate the kingdom's already sick economy.

Syrian President, Bashar al-Assad, enjoying a slight warming in relations with Saddam Hussein, says a strike would destabilise the whole region. That's a view shared by Saudi Arabia's crown prince, Abdullah Bin Abdul Azziz, who warns it could lead to a human tragedy.

Saudi Arabia is seen by many of its own citizens as being too close to the US, so approval to use its airbases is highly unlikely. But the Bush administration isn't giving up on the Saudis. The US President spent hours at his Texas ranch listening to the concerns of a Saudi delegation.

White House spokesman Ari Fleischer.

ARI FLEISCHER: Every time the President meets with foreign leaders and the topic of Iraq comes up, the President thinks it's a constructive exchange of ideas.

He listens carefully to the thoughts that people have about how to deal with Iraq. He hears them say and agree with him that Saddam Hussein is a threat, that Saddam Hussein is a menace, and then the President makes his case about why the world be better off without Saddam Hussein there.

The President is speaking in general terms at this time because no decision has been made.

MARK WILLACY: Iraq knows that George W. Bush is struggling to find some like-minded friends in the Middle East. Sniffing the wind, Saddam Hussein has declared to Iraq's official news agency that US threats are aimed not only at Baghdad but the entire Arab world.

It's not quite the 'come here and you'll leave in a coffin' rhetoric because the Iraqi leader has recently decided to tone down his language. In what some have described as a chum offensive, Saddam is instead insisting that any settlement of what he calls 'the problem' must rely on international law and the United Nations charter.

But the two sides in this debate are arguing different points. While Saddam Hussein's talking about weapons inspections and sanctions, George W. Bush is talking about wholesale regime change. And it's easy to forget that military operations in Iraq never really stopped anyway.

An Iraqi government spokesman says in the last 24 hours, British and US planes enforcing a no-fly zone bombed the airport of the main northern city of Mosul, while a military spokesman says war planes hit an Iraqi civilian installation in the south of the country.

LINDA MOTTRAM: Middle East correspondent Mark Willacy reporting.


  1. I stand in stunned amazement looking at what is happening. Bush does not have the sense to see what he has started by attacking Iraq and does not have the courage to stand aside to allow someone else to try and undo the damage.

  2. from the Voice of America:

    Pakistan's Musharraf to Address Nation in Wake of Mosque Siege
    By Benjamin Sand
    12 July 2007

    "Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf is to address the nation Thursday as al-Qaida issues calls to Pakistani Muslims to revolt against the government for its raid against militants in Islamabad's Red Mosque. Security officials say they are prepared for any possible backlash a day after government forces ended an eight-day siege which left 73 militants, nine soldiers and radical cleric Abdul Rashid Ghazi dead. From Islamabad, VOA Correspondent Benjamin Sand has more.

    In an Internet video posted Wednesday, the deputy leader of the al-Qaida terrorist network called on Muslims to take revenge against Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf.

    The Egyptian born Ayman al-Zawahri said the government's raid on Lal Masjid, or Red Mosque, can only be washed away by "repentance or blood."

    Zawahri is thought to be hiding out in Pakistan's remote frontier tribal areas where Lal Masjid's pro-taleban clerics had many supporters.

    Pakistani army troops keep an eye on the area near Lal Masjid, or Red Mosque, in Islamabad, 11 July 2007
    Pakistan's State Minister of Information Tariq Azim says the government is bracing for a possible militant backlash.

    "There will be some areas, like the border areas with Afghanistan in the frontier, we expect there will be some response," he said.

    President Musharraf ordered the raid on the Red Mosque Tuesday after talks to end a week long crisis failed. Radical cleric Abdul Rashid Ghazi and dozens of armed militant supporters took over the mosque and held hostages, calling for strict Taleban-style Islamic law in Pakistan.

    Military officials say they had encountered stiffer resistance than expected but had cleared the mosque by Wednesday and were searching for mines and bobby traps.

    The United States praised Mr. Musharraf for what officials called a responsible decision to use force.

    The Bush administration considers Mr. Musharraf a strong ally in the war against terror. Pakistan sided with the United States in 2001 when it began its global war on terrorism in the wake of al-Qaida terrorist attacks in New York and Washington.

    The first military action was against Taleban leaders in Afghanistan for harboring al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden.?

  3. In the second American civil war, who wins?

  4. I really don't see why Warizistan needs to be such a big problem.

    Then again, I have no misplaced moral confusion about putting our Air Force to work.

  5. Al-Qaeda on the Run: Feasting on the Moveable Beast

    In appearance, few might suspect that Abu Ali would stand up to the American military. In talking with the soft-spoken Abu Ali, his manner is similar to that of experienced American combat leaders. He is direct and clear in his speech (through an interpreter), and his intelligence is evident. An intelligent enemy who knows the dangers—who is not part of an insane death-cult promising 72 virgins and eternity with God to martyrs—and yet stands his ground against Americans over a long period, must possess great courage and annealed strength. Even among enemies, those qualities command grudging respect. I told one man in the back of the Stryker that after standing his ground with the Americans and surviving this long, al Qaeda was hopeless when Abu Ali and the 1920s shifted their martial attentions.

    The Stryker stopped in Buhriz. The ramp dropped and Abu Ali, LT David Wallach and LTC Fred Johnson dismounted, along with Talal, the courageous AP stringer. I asked Abu Ali if I could videotape him for Americans to see. On camera, he demonstrated the media savvy of a NASCAR driver, and managed to effect the same dynamic mix of confidence and humility. Through moral corruption, al Qaeda lost support then alienated a persuasive, courageous communicator, who can directly inhibit their ability to survive another day.

    Ali said people had been afraid in their own homes because of al Qaeda.

    I asked if he had fought Americans and Ali laughed and said through Wallach,
    “What kind of question is that?”
    I chuckled.

    Unfortunately, we had to go to other meetings, so the time for taping was short. In closing, I asked Abu Ali if there was something he would like to say to Americans. The markets that had been closed under al Qaeda were bustling around us.

    Ali thought for a moment as some local people tried to interrupt him with greetings, and he said, “I ask one thing,” and now I paraphrase Ali’s words:

    After the Iraqi Army and Police take hold and the security forces are ready, we want a schedule for the leaving of the American forces.

    “I will tell the Americans this,” I said.
    Ali seemed satisfied as he went off with another American unit. We loaded back into the Stryker and headed to other interesting meetings on other interesting matters, all dealing with the grinding gears of winning or losing this war, and with catching and killing al Qaeda.

  6. This is do or die time for al-Qaeda too.

    If Mush can motivate the army and the secular-minded Pakistanis (60%+ of the population) to crush the Islamists, al-Q can be as good as done.

    The key is him being able to bury the hatchet with the secularists long enough to unite them against the Islamic insurgency.

    Don't know if that's possible today. Much like here, the political parties are too bitter and conniving to see the forest through the trees.

    He's like the Bush of SE Asia. Fresh out of political captial, friends, and a vision of where he is taking his country.

  7. Alderman,

    what "second American Civil War" are you talking about? Or are you Spam?

    Deuce, what good in the world would come from the President "stepping aside" at this point? And who to replace him?

    This is a challenging time abroad for the United States, but I think changing leadership here in the absence of an election would do little to stabilize things, and indeed would make stuff shakier here.

    And who is going to "undo the damage"? No one is ever going to "undo the damage" in Iraq at this point, are they? Speaker Pelosi certainly won't!

    We have the misfortune of living in interesting times, some of which is our own doing, and some comes from the intersection of a virulent ideology, a scarcity ofprecious resources, and opposing civilizations.

  8. Al Queda Gaining Strength

    February 19, 2007

    There are three areas of particular concern to note. First, the gathering of al-Qaeda forces in Waziristan and other parts of Pakistan makes the terrorist group increasingly look very similar to how it looked prior to 9/11. Much of the progress that the U.S. and other Western countries have made over the past five years will be lost if al-Qaeda is able to regenerate in this manner. Second, a number of British citizens of Pakistani descent have been to training camps in Pakistan. This is of great concern because people traveling with Commonwealth passports come under less suspicion when entering other Commonwealth countries. This includes Canada -- which may, in turn, make it easier for graduates of the training camps in Pakistan to attack the U.S. And a third point of concern is that, although analysts now concede that the Waziristan Accord has failed, they aren't discussing what should be done now. Indeed, I have spoken with nobody in policymaking or intelligence circles with a good answer to that question.

    H/T Steve @
    September 13, 2006

    Pakistan Expert Discusses Powerful Al Qaeda-Taliban Network in Waziristan

  9. Pakistan?
    aQ was destroyed in Afghanistan, scattered to the four corners by the winds of US justice.

    Osama dead, along with the Islamofascist movement in the fallout of that tactical nuclear blast at Tota Bora.

    Oh, wait, that didn't happen, the US fell short, was not serious and Osama and his compadres have lived to fight another day.

    Feckless behaviour in War has consequence

  10. And still we talk of going in on the ground in Warizistan, never even mentioning the Aerial Option.

  11. California King
    We had lots of these in Central Coastal Calif.
    Nice that they eat Rattlers, and most of ours were handsome large specimens.
    Never saw the "Bannana" or "Striped" phases referenced at the bottom.

  12. Desert Rat: Feckless behaviour in War has consequence

    The consequence of feckless behavior in the 2006 Israel-Lebanon war is 50% more rockets in Lebanon for this summer's war, plus anti-air capability.

  13. In his testimony, Hayden said that the United States had fundamental disagreements with Maliki's Shiite-dominated government on some of the most basic issues facing Iraq.

    "We and the Iraqi government do not agree on who the enemy is," Hayden said, according to the written record. "For all the senior leaders of the Iraqi government, Baathists are the source of evil. There is a Baathist behind every bush."

    Several participants in the interview described Hayden as dismayed by the startling level of violence in the country but skeptical of the ability of Iraqi forces -- either the military or the police -- to do anything about it.

    "It's a legitimate question whether strengthening the Iraqi security forces helps or hurts when they are viewed as a predatory element," he said. "Strengthening Iraqi security forces is not unalloyed good. Without qualification, this judgment applies to the police."

    In Anbar the US arms anti-government insurgents. So that if the US were to leave sectarian violence is guarenteed, with US weapons and training employeed by each faction.
    No wonder the elected Iraqi government is concerned, the US is arming criminals and killers in Anbar, as Mr Yon so artfully reports.

    More feckless behaviour, applied in an attempt to limit the scope of US involvement in the War.

  14. We ally with the Enemy and call it success.

    Bubba Bill had nothin' on these fellas when it comes to spreading bull shit.

  15. Beverly said...
    I was in a major ad agency in New York City recently, and heard the staff sneering at some folks at a game who'd been cheering for the USA. "Can you believe it?" asked one, incredulously. "Yeah," replied the other, "they're the f***ing 'patriots.'" And all five people in the room laughed derisively. It was amazing.

    Later, one of these creatures said something to the effect that "those people out in the Heartland must be even worse than I thought." She spoke as if they were the farm team for the Waffen SS. Unbelievable. They really do "think" this way in New York. And these are garden-variety Democrats.
    C4 said:

    Beverly - I'm afraid that was close to my experience in NYC meetings. We were even briefed not to mention 9/11 or visiting the Pit in conversations with some powerful people. There is a Transnationalist cadre that openly sneers at people in "America the low class" that embrace love of nation, patriotism, their stupid sports and pathetic barbecues where hamburgers are served instead of grilled baby eggplant.

    They are proudly post-national, post-patriotic, post-religion - and convinced law does not reflect culture, culture should not embody law - but instead are flexible social organs that can be manipulated to maximum advantage by the best educated.

    The Soviets called them the unpatriotic post-communist "Cosmopolitans" that cared only for gathering wealth and power to themselves and others like them.

    Those Transnationalists believe that while they should control much of how a nation behaves, that they only exist in that nation because it is now "the best deal" out there, and many boast of having multiple passports so they can move elsewhere if "fascism" or better financial opportunities arise. Scratch a Transnationalist and you will find they like America "for now" but better deals look like they may exist being middlemen for India and China's trade under a Spanish or Swiss passport. Or proudly talk about how South African Transnationalists "used their grip on the law and media" against the local whites and Apartheid...then of course all had to leave SA once it "unexpectedly" went into the toilet. Left for better economic opportunities in Australia, USA..

  16. w is a Compassionate Tranzi, so we should be grateful.

  17. Compassionate in this case means he is more than happy to spend more of your money to spread (federally programmed) compassion.

  18. A thousand points of Federal largesse.

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  20. Bob,

    The military changes commanders all the time when they cannot get the job done or they lose the confidence of their superiors or charges. Now I know the POTUS may be different from a General, Commander or Admiral, but you can only run so many ships onto a reef and still be taken seriously.

    Bush has frittered away his chips. He keeps doubling down but he has lost the confidence of those that he needs to support his office and the diplomatic prowess of the United States. He has lost the ability to persuade and persuasion is the currency of leadership. It is academic because he will never quit, however his past and continued presence is why we are cursed with a Speaker Pelosi and Leader Reid in the first place. His idiotic maneuvering over the amnesty bill hemorrhaged his last arteries of support. I do not like what is happening and I believe that the Democratic solution is worse, but almost everything Bush does almost always makes everyone else look better, almost.

    Glad to see you are still not too busy to wave at us. Keep safe.

  21. Listening to Mr Bush, he makes it clear.
    is the key to his way forward
    Not Iraqi subservience to US.

    Mr Bush did it himself, calls for reconciliation, then reports arming the Sunni militias as a benchmark of US success.

    Those militias still have not joined the Iraqi command. But answer to ours.

    The US commanders taking on the role of Shieks, in Anbar. Doling out cash, contracts and jobs.

    But not reconciling the Sunni tribes to the Iraqi Government, or so said General Lynch.

  22. Mr Bush lists those he has to consult with as he "decides" the way forward in Iraq.

    Unfortunately Mr Bush did not mention a single Iraqi.
    Not Mr Maliki. Not Mr al-Sadr or Mr al-Hakim.

    Their input not required with regards the future of Iraq.

  23. Mr Bush and Ms Clinton do agree, the best way for the Congress to "end" the War is for Congress to decide the Authorization fulfilled.
    Not to defund the troops

    Then begin again.

    Mr Bush does admit that in Anbar the locals have reconciled with US, but not the Iraqi government.

    Mr Bush should act on his positive vision of the future.
    Get with Mr Maliki and declare political victory.

  24. As Mr Yon explains, just change the definition of "radical" and past enemies can become "moderates" and allies.

    Just as "illegals" can become "legal" when issued a Z-Visa. Then give those visas away.

    But the 1920 Brigades and the Iraqi Federal government will not reconcile. Neither side desires reconciliation, neither has been defeated.

    We will reinforce the Tribal leaders in Anbar, at the expense and over the objections of the Iraqi Federal government.

    Because, as CIA Chief General Hadley says:
    "We and the Iraqi government do not agree on who the enemy is,"

  25. If, as CIA Director General Hadley says:

    "We and the Iraqi government do not agree on who the enemy is,"

    then how can we agree when or how victory can be achieved.

  26. 2164th

    "It does seem that we hanged the only guy who could keep the Iraq fire under control."

    "When Bush got the idea in his head to go after Saddam, Mubarak begged him not to do it, but after all what did Mubarak know about the Middle East?"

    Mubarak didn't want the region destabilised by Saddam's removal. I do not accept that the region would be destabilised by Saddam's removal per se. I do accept that the region would be destabilised by the removal of the Ba'athist Party.

    What we needed to do was to kill Saddam the instant we captured him. Then we should have sent an emesary to someone in Iraq who would succeed Saddam and be capable of running Iraq as ruthlessly as Saddam did but who less territorially ambitious, someone less megalomaniacal, if you will.

    The new leader could run Iraq any way he wanted and we would lobby to have U.N. sactions removed. In exchange, we would extract a promise that Iraq would not pursue any nuclear weapons program, that he could not invade any of his neighbours without our permission, and that he could noy form any relationship with Al-Qaeda.

    The new leader would then be told that if he broke any of his promises we would be back to kill him, too. And we would have credibility in this matter.

    Could we find such a successor? Saddam's cabinet would be filled with ambitious people.

    Who would be likely candidates? If we were to contact anyone before the killing Saddam it would have to be a non Al-Tikriti (Saddam's tribe) cabinet member. I would have picked Izzat Ibrahim Al-Duri, the RCC Vice-Chairman. If contact was to be made after killing Saddam I would have picked Abid Hamid Mahamud Al-Tikriti, the Presidential Secretary.

    Would either of them remained as the leader? Who knows, who cares? Let them sort it out.

    We could have walked away with Saddam gone and a good chance that the new regime would behave.

  27. Iraq is an imperial political conception whose time has past. The same is true for much of the currently drawn Middle East. The Middle East is unstable partly because its political boundaries are so artificial and contrived.

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  29. As a note,

    It is specifically through these artificial and contrived political boundaries that political despotism has been advanced. Because political despotism is the only way to maintain these imperial political entities.

  30. "The Soviets called them the unpatriotic post-communist "Cosmopolitans" that cared only for gathering wealth and power to themselves and others like them."

    For the record, "cosmopolitan" was the Soviet epithet for Jews.

    Always has been C4 SOP to stick a real nugget inside a partially worthwile post. Always need to read between the lines with that guy.

    On another note, ran across two good posts from Martin Kramer on the problems of democratization that are worth a read. Interesting consider he, along with Norman Podhoretz (a big-time proponent), are now on Guiliani's foreign policy team.

  31. That should be:

  32. Hrmm, it appears to cut off the end, but it is there.

  33. Laws and war.

    How about: No thanks. Whatever works. Any war worth losing over legal technicalities isn't worth fighting.

    Too uncivilized.

  34. Pretty funny about c-4's Cosmos, Cutler:
    Probly did it just for Mat's entertainment.

  35. I'll never be able to walk through the check out line at the Safeway and see the Cosmo the same.

    Now it'll shout out JEW!
    with some nubile young lady provocatively posed below the Cosmopolitan header.

    the ever expanding universe

  36. Whoa! A hat tip. Cool. I have arrived. Thanks, 2164th!

  37. Iran's Jewish population has dwindled from around 80,000 at the time of the 1979 Islamic revolution but remains the largest of any country in the Middle East apart from Israel. Jews have lived in Iran since at least 700BC.

    Hostility between Iran's Islamic government and Israel means Iranian Jews are often subject to official mistrust and scrutiny. In 2000 10 Jews in the southern city of Shiraz were jailed for spying for Israel, which Iran refuses to recognise.

    A Jewish businessman, Ruhollah Kadkhodah-Zadeh, was hanged in 1998, apparently for allegedly helping Jews to emigrate.

    Iran's Jews

  38. This comment has been removed by the author.

  39. Course, the reason that it remains the largest in the Middle East is that all the rest of them were kicked out of the Arab countries in 1948 (as many as Palestinians left Israel). Iraq once had one of the largest populations in the region, it now has a couple dozen that have to live in secret.