“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."

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Why Support for Iraq is Collapsing.

In the previous post there were several comments about the frustration felt by what seems to be a minority of supporters of the US effort in Iraq. All wars are finalized by two things, the collapse of the will or ability of one or both sides to continue the conflict and some political compromise. Without both, wars are usually paused and resume at a later date. In conducting the Iraq War the Bush Administration made many ghastly decisions. None appeared worse than the firing of the Iraq army, en masse. However as bad as that decision was, the rousing of political expectations for Iraqi society was probably worse. The failure of lofty goals and naive expectations has done damage that overshadows the accomplishments of the US military. This administration never understood the limitations in time that the American political class and the American media place on any foreign military venture. Our country may have worthy long term goals, but none are so important as an individual politician's term in office and personal craven ambition.

(hat tip: Sam)

Iraq fails to meet all reform goals, report will say
AP, Washington Times

A progress report on Iraq will conclude that the U.S.-backed government in Baghdad has not met any of its targets for political, economic and other reform, speeding up the Bush administration's reckoning on what to do next, a U.S. official said yesterday.

The "pivot point" for addressing the matter will no longer be Sept. 15, as initially envisioned, when a full report on President Bush's "surge" plan is due, but instead will come this week when the interim mid-July assessment is released, the official said.

"The facts are not in question," the official told the Associated Press, speaking on condition of anonymity because the draft is still under discussion. "The real question is how the White House proceeds with a post-surge strategy in light of the report."

The report, required by law, is expected to be delivered to Capitol Hill by Thursday or Friday, as the Senate takes up a $649 billion defense policy bill and votes on a Democratic amendment ordering troop withdrawals to begin in 120 days.

Also being drafted are several Republican-backed proposals that would force a new course in Iraq, including one by Sens. Susan Collins, Maine Republican, and Ben Nelson, Nebraska Democrat, that would require U.S. troops to abandon combat missions. Mrs. Collins and Mr. Nelson say their binding amendment would order the U.S. mission to focus on training the Iraqi security forces, targeting al Qaeda members and protecting Iraq's borders...


  1. "It will be like Paris in 1944."

    When that little gem flew out of Wolfowitz' mouth in 2002, I knew these guys were drunk on ideology and short on reality. Iraq was not going to be a "cake-walk".

    Bush's pathological, utopian denial of reality on immigration cemented it for me.

    These guys live in an echo chamber, far, far, away from real people in the real world.

    It's elitist wishful thnking of the highest Wilsonian order. It will be carried out no matter the cost to the country. Lives, treasure, sovereignty.

    All an endless river of "political capital" in the minds of our rulers.

    They know what's good for everybody.

  2. Perfectly stated, Brother-D!
    The hard ring of truth stands in stark contrast to all the mindless GWB cheerleading we have experienced in the vaunted "right wing blogosphere."

    The Rabble can also reside in the echo chamber.

    My mind always screams:
    "Can't you see the World your denial of reality is going to bring your children?"

    ...a river in Egypt, and a sewer of the minds of the delusional decadent.

  3. It is not the "Political" or "Media" elites that have soured this adventure with the US public, it is failure that has done it.

    A rufusal on the part of the US to claim victory when it was achieved.

    The denial of past "core" beliefs on the part of Mr Cheney and Ms Rice.

    It is the abuse of the US Military that has soured the people.
    Those that hold that the people in the US are mindless auto-bots, sheeple being manipulated, see only the surface of the pond, not its' depths.

    You can fool some of the people all of the time
    You can fool all of the people some of the time
    You cannot fool all of the people all of the time.

    To achieve 72% consensus, in the US, is not a matter of elitist manipulation.

    The manipulative media did not convince me of the futility of the Iraqi effort. Reports from the front from impeccable sources did.

  4. It was a little over three years ago, when I read of an Army officer explaining his mission.
    Not to win, not to destroy or kill the enemy. No, this officer, without evasion or subterfuge told the reporter that his job was to "Manage the Battlespace"

    Like it was a Wal-Mart.
    He was in-charge of books & greeting cards.
    Wanted to move over to hardware.

    "Catch & Release"
    A poor management practice that exemplified a lack of seriousness in the entire effort.

    Three words that give lie to MSM manipulation
    "Catch & Release"
    Dan Rather did not set one detainee free. His signature not on a single order.

  5. Just one of the problems to a professional military.

    They are already in for the duration. There is not an expectation or even a "need" to win, the "job", it's just another rotatition in a "Long War", one without an expectation of victory, by the very definition of the Mission assigned by the Commander in Chief.

    The Generals then performing as expected, making it a "Long War", as planned. Knowing full well they could not sustain the open ended effort.

  6. This comment has been removed by the author.

  7. What is really funny, Bobbie & Hillary have finally seen the light.
    Don't declare defeat and demand departure.
    Declare that the Mission in Iraq complete, the have the President define the Mission he wishes to pursue, next.

    habus' Montana Senator, Mr Testor, made the same observation, last week.

    The Dems getting on board my recommendation from two years ago. Declare the Authorization fulfilled, Mission Accomplished.

    If there had not been such personal hate for Mr Bush on the Dem side, the way forward was clear.

    At a recent Senate hearing, Defense Secretary Robert Gates was asked if the 2002 authorization still applies to Iraq. His response was surprisingly candid: "I don't know." Four years into the conflict in Iraq, longer than American involvement in World War II, after years of White House misjudgment and miscalculation, as our troops fight and die in the midst of an Iraqi civil war, the answer could not be clearer.
    Our men and women in uniform toppled the dictator. There were no weapons of mass destruction. Iraq has established a parliament and elected a president and a prime minister. Yet our troops remain in Iraq and our President remains unmoved by any arguments to change course.

    As Bush admitted in his State of the Union address in January, "This is not the fight we entered in Iraq." We could not agree more. This is not the fight Congress authorized, Mr. President. If you want to continue to wage this fight, come to Congress and make your case. Otherwise, bring our troops home.

    Byrd, senior senator from West Virginia, is chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee and sits on the Senate Armed Services Committee. Clinton, junior senator from New York, is the first New Yorker to serve on the Senate Armed Services Committee.

    read it all, if you're a mind to.

  8. Bring it in the form of a Defense Pact with the Iraqi Government.

    A six, twelve or twenty year deal.
    By-pass the House, up or down in the Senate. Could have done it last year, as proposed and advised, before the GOP lost the Senate last November.

    Could still do it now.
    If there was vision and leadership from the White House, but they seem "bunkered down", have since '04.

  9. Smile...

    Pakistani rebel cleric 'killed'

    A Pakistani cleric leading militants battling troops at a mosque in the capital, Islamabad, has been killed, Interior Ministry officials say.
    It is not clear how Abdul Rashid Ghazi died. Troops stormed the Red Mosque after besieging it for a week.

    The army says up to 50 militants and eight soldiers have been killed, and about 50 women and children rescued.

    Students at the mosque and its attached religious schools have waged a campaign for months pressing for Sharia law

  10. Democracies do not vote for War.

    The very cornerstone of the Bush Docrines' stratergy of "Peace through Democracy".

    Why be surprised when the worlds' greatest democratic republic votes for Peace?

    While Rome was a Republic, it was not an Empire.

  11. "There are philosophers who assure us, that in the future, patriotism will be regarded not as a virtue at all, but merely as a mental stage in the journey toward a state of feeling where patriotism will include the whole human race and the whole world."

    — Theodore Roosevelt, 1894
    At a time when 12% of young voters were born in another country and when 20% of them have a parent who was born abroad, according to a recent Pew Research Center poll, it's important for America to do a better job transmitting its DNA to its newest voters.

    In the quote cited above from an essay Roosevelt wrote in 1894, "True Americanism," he further wrote "it is not only necessary to Americanize the immigrants of foreign birth who settle among us, but it is even more necessary for those among us who are by birth and descent already Americans not to throw away our birthright."

    Roosevelt was prescient in his words. He was right to worry about Americans, both old and new. Even if we no longer think about "Americanizing" people as was done 100 years ago, it's not a bad idea to incorporate patriotic ritual and civic training into today's schooling. Arizona, a state on the front line of the immigration debate, is on the cutting edge. It put into effect last week a new law whereby schoolrooms must fly the flag and contain the Constitution and Bill of Rights. While Arizona unfortunately passed the law without providing adequate funding, initiating a mad dash for private donations, it recognizes the importance, even symbolically, of the flag and such historical documents.

    Americanizing America

  12. Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert called on Syrian President Bashar Assad to reopen peace talks between the two countries in an interview published Tuesday.

    Israel had already appealed to Syria to open negotiations, but Syria insisted that talks be mediated by the Americans, who are not interested, Olmert said.

    "The Americans don't want to sit with him," Olmert told the Arab satellite TV channel, Al-Arabiya, according to an excerpt of the interview broadcast by Israel's Channel 10 TV. "I am willing to sit with him if he is willing to sit with me. We'll talk about peace."

    Assad has called for the reopening of peace talks with Israel, but Olmert has rebuffed the offer as a Syrian attempt to win favor with the United States. Olmert has insisted Assad stop sponsoring militant groups opposed to Israel's existence, the Lebanese Hezbollah and Palestinian Hamas, if he wants to prove he is serious about peace with Israel.

    Israeli Public Security Minister Avi Dichter said Tuesday that Olmert indeed wants to resume talks with Syria and his offer was "genuine and real." But Dichter was not optimistic that Assad would agree to renew the talks, especially because he is allied with Iran, Israel's greatest enemy.

    "Bashar Assad apparently has other plans than making peace with Israel," Dichter told Army Radio. "And now we will listen and wait."

  13. It's unfortunate that just as their seems to be more good news coming out of Iraq, the political news coming out of Washington has taken a turn for defeat. Not willing to wait til September, the weak willed amongst Democrats and now a few Republicans are willing to possibly undo whatever progress Petraeus has made.

    It does no good to complain about George W. Bush. He will be the CIC for only a short while longer. What's done is done. Our problems with fundamentalist Islam will outlast Bush's term in office. What's important is the "way forward."

  14. ahh, but there in lays bare the challenge, whit.

    The way forward from where, led by whom?

    In a "War" our staunchest ally, the United Kingdom denies is a "War" at all, any more.

    Those who believe that "Islam" or mussulmen to be the primary challenge of the millenieum, by far in the mminority, politically.

    As evidence by the politicians that represent the US people in DC. All fairly elected, more or less.

    Those that speak the boldly about the issue, a secular once and future- "America's Mayor" and a Christian cultist that organized a well run Olympics, in Utah.

    Ms Clinton, the other leading contender for Decider in Chief, just wrote that position letter with Mr Byrd.

  15. No, there is still many months of Mr Bush blazing the trail, he and Mr Cheney with Ms Rice in tow.

  16. As Ms Clinton informs, whit, the "good news" is well spun propaganda.

    Select locales, where we are, show a decrease in civilian deaths. Overall, for the country as a whole, the numbers of dead are increasing.

    We control where we are, not where we aren't, to paraphrase the Baghdad US Commander.

    So the Battle of Baghdad may be progressing, the War in Iraq, is not.

    We swung the hammer, but the mouse jumped off the anvil. The hammer, way to big, was swung to slow.
    But quite the clang, when it hit the anvil, shook the whole damned barn.

  17. As referenced the story from the UK:

    Britain's war against . . . well, you know

    By Melanie Phillips

    Britain is now fighting a war it dares not name. The recent failed car bomb attacks on a London nightclub and Glasgow airport demonstrated once again that Britain is a principal target for al-Qaeda. But even now, the British response is dangerously confused. ...

    by Melanie Phillips, who is a columnist for the Daily Mail in London and author of Londonistan.

  18. "Manage the Battlespace"


    Sounds like a clear mission to me...

  19. Quite an earnest fellow, d-day. Late twenties, glasses, kevlar strapped down on his head.

    That was the photo used, and the "battlespace management" comment not worthy of further note for the writer.

    Here was another example of apparent dysfunction. From a westhawk thread in Jun of '06.

  20. Doug,

    that was an interesting cartoon you linked to.

    There is no denying the pessimism that exists within the political classes, the media, and the blogosphere, and that the electorate is in a "sour mood" as Ms. Noonan described it.

    But it has not infected the military as of yet.

    For every chucklehead making headlines suing the military or complaining about yet another deployment there are battalions of infantrymen, military police, marines, and pilots who head out and do their jobs in harm's way in Afghanistan, Iraq or wherever. Some of us were deployed 6-9 months every year before the first plane struck one of the towers.

    There are no pregnant Soldiers over here, unless they get that way over here, and then they are on the first thing smoking back to the states.

    DR, I am curious as to the context of the "battlespace management" remark by the officer you wrote about. The Army started using the term "battlespace" in recent years instead of "battlefield", especially when talking Armyspeak. Battlespace reflects the fact that commanders, when maneuvering elements in combat operations, have to take into account not only the terrain they are on, but also the air above them and the frequency spectrum they are using to communicate to disparate elements,

    Commanders have to take into account the various altitudes that various manned and unmanned aircraft performing various roles are flying at, deconflict their timing with the use of artillery, and ensure that everyone can talk together and in the same "language". The term "battlespace" is supposed to reflect this, and many younger officers have been brought up using this term and are more accustomed to it than "battlefield".

    There are officers and sergeants whose job is to make sure that, when units are in combat, all of this stuff is synchronized, so that jets don't drop bombs on friendly positions, that ground units can talk to the jets to drop bombs on enemy positions, and so that A-10s and apaches do not collide into one another; battlespace management describes what those guys are doing pretty effectively, eh?

    That being said, everyone in the military has a job; units have missions. The infantry officer in the TOC executing battlespace management in say, Anbar province is doing so in support of his unit's mission, which could be stated as "to defeat all enemy forces in AO Tiger in order to eable the district government to establish rule of law in Sayeed district" or something like that.

    Maybe the officer you referenced was a total maroon and didn't know what his mission is, there are always "those guys" out there in any profession; however, maybe he was so used to Armyspeak that he did not civilianize his language enough to give a good quote to the stringer who happened to be hanging around his unit that day.

  21. I can certainly appreciate the difficulties of coordinating the many aspects of the urban battlefield.
    Perhaps the expression a piece of unappreciated "shop talk". But one the does exemplifiy a difference in perspective, past to now.

    The resumes of many officers seem to be heavy on Administrative Management and the like. Which is all well and good, but the fact of the matter, regardless of the heroic efforts, even if Baghdad is secured by September, Iraq will not be.

    The Iraqi Government will still be what it is today.

    The solution in Iraq is not military, at least not a US military solution.

    Not now that we've started arming Sunni insurgents, as part of the Defense Forces. Just more antidemocratic militia men in "government" uniforms.

  22. China Executes Ex-Food and Drug Chief

    JULY 10, 2007

    China executed a former director of its food and drug agency Tuesday for approving fake medicine in exchange for cash, illustrating how serious Beijing is about tackling product safety, while officials announced steps to safeguard food at next summer's Olympic Games. Details

  23. As General P said, bob, there is another decade of committment required in Iraq.

    The odds of that being approved, on a piecemeal basis, now, lower than a whales turd.

    But a comprehensive victory and Iraqi mission restucturing could pull the Battle of Iraq from a political albatross to a war bird in flight.

    A bit beyond the mass mailing demographics expertise of Mr Rove, though. Requires a bit of that "vision" thing, so lacking in the Bush family DNA, it seems.
    At least 41 admitted the disorder.

  24. "W" means
    "Wouldn't be Prudent"
    (taking off the blinders)

  25. "There are officers and sergeants whose job is to make sure that, when units are in combat, all of this stuff is synchronized, so that jets don't drop bombs on friendly positions, that ground units can talk to the jets to drop bombs on enemy positions, and so that A-10s and apaches do not collide into one another; battlespace management describes what those guys are doing pretty effectively, eh?
    Indeed the message was delivered when 72 of Al-Quedas bent over for us to stick one up their ass:
    Message Sent:
    DON'T repeat, DON'T!
    Stick one up their ass!

  26. "72 of Al-Quedas Finest and most Fervent"

  27. I can appreciate the cultural importance of cemetaries, doug.

    Respect for the dear departed, family, clan and tribal feelings that run deep through the Afghani and Pakistani cultures.

    But I still ponder the question, when those fellows left that cemetary, after they had left that hallowed ground, why didn't we go "hot" then?

    Why let them disperse, outside the graveyard, unmolested?

    Never was an explaination for that, most likely a question not asked by the MSM.

  28. Mideast war this summer'
    Syrian official threatens 'resistance' by September, warns Damascus preparing for large-scale conflict
    Posted: July 8, 2007
    3:32 p.m. Eastern

    By Aaron Klein
    © 2007

    Syrian President Bashar Assad

    GOLAN HEIGHTS – If Israel doesn't vacate the strategic Golan Heights before September, Syrian guerrillas will immediately launch "resistance operations" against the Golan's Jewish communities, a top official from Syrian President Bashar Assad's Baath party told WND.

    The Baath official, who spoke on condition his name be withheld, said Damascus is preparing for anticipated Israeli retaliation following Syrian guerrilla attacks and for a larger war with the Jewish state in August or September. He said in the opening salvo of any conflict, Syria has the capabilities of firing "hundreds" of missiles at Tel Aviv.

    "Syria passed repeated messages to the U.S. that we demand the return of the Golan either through negotiations or through war. If the Golan is not in our hands by August or September, we will be poised to launch resistance, including raids and attacks against Jewish positions (in the Golan Heights)," the Baath official said. More.

  29. "We control where we are, not where we aren't, to paraphrase the Baghdad US Commander."
    Whack a Mole continues 4 years in.
    Say the Curse!

  30. Patton respected the Symbolism of the Rhein so much that he peed in it.

  31. Mr Baker wants them turned over, it's part of the Iraqi Peace Plan.

    The Golan for Peace, easy trade.

    I mean, if you'd trade away Sammy Sosa ...

  32. Barry Bonds named Drug Czar.

  33. 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 (Bradley called 26 December "High Water" day, referring to the day the tide was turned back on the Germans). Not many people know that Patton signed over his entire monthly paycheck to AER. Of course, he came from a wealthy family.

  34. EXODUS...

    MCCAIN '08 Campaign Manager, Chief Strategist resign... Developing...

    Press release...

    Co-author of McCain's five books also said leaving...

    Operative: Things 'Could Dissolve Pretty Quickly'...

    STATEMENT BY MCCAIN: 'Challenging political environment'...
    You can call it a Bannana,
    it's still Amnesty!

  35. A Brigade or so a month, in or out of theater, seems to be the pace.

    Couldn't get the "Surge" troops in country any sooner then we did.

    Couldn't get them out much quicker, either.

    Estimated withdrawal timeline, 14 to 18 months, that's as precipitous as it could be.

    Easily extended with trainers, advisors and ready reaction forces to 60 or 120 months.

    Declare Victory, politically and drive on with the miltary at surge levels until March, when a drawdown begins. Getting to whatever size stay behind force, 40 or 50,000, around March of 2010.

    Announce the Plan, celebrate it.

  36. Say the Curse,
    Wallow in it.
    Spread blame like a good liberal.

  37. Unzipped:
    Vitter on Call girl list.
    Mr. Vitter, who styled himself as a defender of traditional conservative family values, had been a key advocate of Mr. Giuliani’s in conservative circles both in the Senate and key southern states.
    He rose to power during the turmoil surrounding former President Clinton’s sexual improprieties, stepping in to replace Representative Bob Livingston.
    Mr. Livingston was poised to become Speaker of the House after Newt Gingrich stepped down, facing possible scrutiny about his own affair while still married. The House of Representatives was poised to impeach Mr. Clinton when Mr. Livingston acknowledged his own sexual indiscretion, and he then resigned.
    Mr. Vitter stepped in.
    In 2000, his wife, Wendy, was asked if she would stand by her man like Hillary Clinton if she faced a similar situation.
    “I’m a lot more like Lorena Bobbitt than Hillary,” Mrs. Vitter told Newhouse News. “If he does something like that, I’m walking away with one thing, and it’s not alimony, trust me.”
    Mr. Giuliani did not get into the details of Mr. Vitter’s current problems, but reporters pressed the former New York mayor, asking whether there was a pattern forming in Mr. Giuliani’s choice of associates.

  38. Body Armor for Mr Vitter lest he get Bobbited.

  39. NATO didn't lose Afghanistan

    In 2003, NATO moved peacekeeping forces into Kabul and parts of northern Afghanistan. But not until 2005, when it was clear that the United States was bogged down in Iraq and lacked sufficient resources to fight on two fronts, did Washington belatedly turn to NATO to take the Afghan south off its hands. And then it misrepresented the situation our allies would find there. NATO was basically sold a beefed-up peacekeeping mission. It was told, in effect, that it would simply need to maintain the order the United States had established and to help with reconstruction and security.

    In fact, as was clear from the ground, the situation had been deteriorating since late 2002. By 2004, resurgent Taliban were making a concerted push to enter the country from Pakistan, and intensive combat between American forces and Taliban fighters was taking place north of Kandahar. By 2005, top Afghan officials could be blown up in downtown Kandahar without drawing much of a reaction from either the Afghan government or ours. Notorious drug lords governed the three main southern provinces to which we were dispatching our allies. It was the bloodiest and most belligerent situation since the fall of the Taliban.

  40. Yon reported that contemporaneously.
    ...and predicted the present situation.

  41. Some more of those "Republican Values", that Mr Foley made so famous, on display, doug.

    Sex, drugs and rock & roll.

    There is hope Rudy'll "Roll"
    'bout the only one of the bunch with a vendetta.

  42. They say he's mean, focused and carries a grudge.

    All the attributes I'm looking for.

    Plus he has organizational skills, manages battlespace managers well.

    Those managers are all human, too.

  43. Bout the only one that has not affected the Choir-Boy persona so favored in Metro-America, whether in a Crystal Cathedral, or the Edwards Poverty Tour.

  44. Perhaps the most eye-opening political event in my life was watching Letterman et al convince us that NY NY was irretribably circling the drain, only to have Rudy come along and put the lie to it all.

  45. "Irretrivably"
    ...Year after year it got worse, and was duely reported by the resident pundits.

  46. "The president said today the United States must persevere in Iraq and said that the Iraqis themselves must take more responsibility. "
    For carrying out a mission they have made perfectly clear is not their aim.

  47. Maybe
    "Say the Course"
    will work?
    Repeat until done.

    For a fictional story about this mine (called the “homestead” mine in the book) and its use as an underground lab to study neutrinos, read Brad Meltzer’s novel “The Zero Game”.

  49. Alaska's former U.S. Sen. Mike Gravel, 77, is making waves in the race for the presidency, employing the most modern of campaign strategies.

    With little money to get his message out, Gravel is using YouTube and an imaginative corps of volunteers on the Internet to develop and distribute his videos.

    "The whole Internet crowd has really latched on," Gravel said this week in an interview with the Juneau Empire.

    Riding the Web