“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."

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Dr. Pangloss in the White House.

"the best of all possible worlds."

Mideast Muslims aren't American Methodists

By Rich Lowry Real Clear Politics

In September 1898, an outnumbered British-led army battled the forces of a Muslim fanatic in Omdurman, Sudan. The Brits unleashed machine-gun fire and artillery on the primitive warriors and suffered a loss of 48 dead and 434 wounded, while killing 9,700, wounding 13,000 and capturing 5,000 of the enemy. Winston Churchill, who was present, called it "the most signal triumph ever gained by the arms of science over barbarians." The British ruled Sudan for another five decades.

In October 1993, badly outnumbered American troops battled the forces of a Somali clan leader in Mogadishu. We unleashed machine-gun fire and helicopter gunships on the primitive warriors and suffered 18 fatalities and 73 wounded to as many 5,500 Somali killed and wounded. It was a fight nearly as lopsided as the Battle of Omdurman, but the U.S. was out of Somalia within a year.

Since the 1990s, we have witnessed the revenge of the tribes. For hundreds of years, the result -- with some spectacular exceptions -- of a clash between modern and primitive armies was a bloodbath and disorienting humiliation for the primitive forces. When Inca emperor (and sun god) Atahualpa ventured out into battle in 1532 with a force of 80,000 against an invading Spanish contingent of 168, he was immediately captured and eventually executed. Now, tribes, clans, and primitives of all sorts represent one of the most intractable problems in the war on terror.

Throughout the past century, the rules and goals of the West have changed. We are thankfully no longer as comfortable slaughtering people, and we no longer want to directly govern third-world areas. Our goal, on humanitarian and -- since Sept. 11 -- on security grounds is to create decent indigenous governing authorities where otherwise chaos would reign. And this is the problem -- tribes and clans can't beat back a conquering Western army but they can, quite naturally, frustrate attempts to govern them.

In western Pakistan, Gaza, southern and eastern Afghanistan, Somalia, and western Iraq, it has been ungoverned spaces that have created the environment in which terrorists can thrive. Our problem in the war on terror is less the absence of democracy than the absence of strong states. Tribes are inherently difficult to govern because they, as James Kurth writes in The American Interest, "do not see themselves as citizens who enjoy equal rights within one homogeneous nation," but as "at most a collection of nations in a nation, but not of it."

This is why even the mind-bogglingly brutal Saddam Hussein had trouble handling the tribes of Iraq. The extraordinary progress we have seen in Iraq in the past six months has less to do with winning new converts to our ideological vision of liberal democracy, and more with how we have -- through inspired and very practical work at the local level -- turned the tribes in our favor. We have greased palms, stroked egos, and benefited from the excesses of an al Qaeda so savage and dark that it represents a threat even to the not particularly gentle or enlightened way of life of the tribes.

President Bush doesn't appear to have entirely absorbed this. He still insists that Muslims desire freedom as much as Methodists do. This may well be true of Muslims who are as deracinated as most Methodists are -- living in societies that have dissolved traditional ties of clan and sect to make possible the individualism upon which modern liberal democracies are built. Most Muslims in the Middle East don't live in such societies, of course, and creating them would represent a radical social revolution almost as threatening to tribal sheiks as the vision of al Qaeda.

What we are instead witnessing in Iraq is a necessary American accommodation to people for whom blood and soil mean much more than constitutional rights or democratic procedure. Is that ideal? No, but consider it part of the revenge of the tribes.


  1. Mr Rich Lowry forgot to account for inflation.

  2. This is the kind of thing I would stop in its tracks.

  3. Wiki:

    Mirza Ghulam Ahmad (مرزا غلام احمد) (February 13, 1835; May 26, 1908), a religious figure from Qadian, India, was the founder of the Ahmadiyya sect. He claimed to be the “Second Coming of Christ”, the promised Messiah, the Mahdi, as well as being the Mujaddid of the 14th Islamic century although these very declarations went against Islamic teachings and took him and his followers outside the fold of Islam.

  4. A tail 13 light years long. That's a hell of a tail, Rufus!

  5. And now it seems, we really don't know what we are Doing

    Makes my head spin.

  6. Bob,

    The fatah-hamas faux war was an obvious Paliwood production, and I said so from the start. What bothers me, is that everyone with a half a brain would have been on to the scheme, yet everyone is playing along.

  7. Just another brick in the wall, bob.

    As mat and I postulated, the Hamas "coup" just another "play" in the soak the west game.

    Just a way to free up the cash held by Israel and the US.

    But then the BILLION USD the World Bank is funneling to Iran, direct from US taxpayers, gets hardly a mention.

    Just more examples that the "war" is just a rhetorical flourish of the DC elites, not a reality of policy.

    But, hey, keep the jingoistic drums beating, rev up the politics of fear, here in the US Homeland. It's worked for Team 43, so far, so even though the architect is leaving, the "Plan" remains the same.

    mat mentioned, yesterday or so, that he thought 70% of the US was ready to change the US Constitution, to delegitimize, dehumanize the mussulmen. To strip them from the very Constitutional definition of "people".

    But then doug posted polling results that Islam was distrusted by just a third of US. Far from the 70% mat found in his circle of associates.

    I was going to say that the 30+/-% that will poll in support of Mr Bush, they stand with the Religion of Peace policies, or they'd not stand with Mr Bush.

    Most of the Dems do not question, do not attack Mr Bush's Religion of Peace policies, with these US policies they stand four square.

    Boners Rule!

    There is no great anti-Mussulman bias, in the US, not one that would cause a change in the real policies of the United States, any way. No such ground swell of bias that would deny mussulmen the rights and privilages provide to all "persons".

    When the last NIE was released, Ms Rice stated that all those mid-level aQ leaders, those killed or captured, just HAD to have an effect on their capacity.
    Just had to have had.

    Fools led by knaves, we are.
    Of anyone who'd believe her, or Mr Cheney. Anyone who'd believe we'd turned the corner, that the $500 BILLION USD or 3,700 lives spent had made a difference in the "Clash of Civilizations". A "Clash" the DC elites and US military deny is even in progress.

    Or we'd not be providing $20 Billion USD in arms to the wahhabist regimes of the Middle East. Nor would we be propping up Pakistan's ISI.

    Pass the popcorn, hope it is not as stale as this show.

  8. Damn, now rufus will be pissed.
    Where are the happy faces?

    Gray skies are gonna clear up
    Put on a happy face!

    There are 200 ethanol distilleries either built or in the pipeline, Only thing is, we'd need 20,000 of them to have an impact on supply.
    1% of the way, down $500 Billion USD.
    Say the Curse then
    Stay the Course!

  9. Build those nuclear power plants.

    With a swimming head,
    I go to bed.


  10. The Iranians are, bob, building those nuclear power plants.
    With US financial support, almost $220 million just this year, alone. Another $870 milion in the pipeline.

  11. A "Clash" the DC elites and US military deny is even in progress.

    - Rat

    Yeah because the Bar's idea of declaring Islam the enemy is such a stroke of goddamned brilliance.

    Between you and the admin, there's nowhere to go.

    And the military didn't choose this war, so you can just fuck off.

  12. I've done that before, trish.

    The truth is the military is an action arm of the Government, servants to the public.

    That they developed a tactical strategy that has failed, well there you go.

    Success is as success does, the US military has not achieved it. Has not lessen the threat, did not destroy aQ, nor even the Baathists.

    These are the times that try men's souls, summer time soldiers and career opportunists will not long endure.

    Or they will.
    Beating the drums for more money, to do less. Promoting fear and loathing at home, while funding the supposed foe.

    Don't make much difference, does it, as we continue half stepping into the future.

    Enjoy Bogota, discerning friend from foe.

  13. "Enjoy Bogota, discerning friend from foe."

    I'm disappointed, Rat. That's rather small minded of you.

  14. You people need an intensive course at the Harry Truman School of straight talk.
    Not nice to make Mr. Rogers try to puzzle out any of the many banked shots.
    Bet you envy my naive purity of mind.
    (box of chocolates and all that)

  15. So what, Trish, when all these bastard Islamics inflame their flocks with all their kill the infidel pep talks, and over and over again they have made good on their threats to do exactly what they say they are going to do, we should all act like the CIA and pretend Islam is the ROP?
    I just don't get it.

  16. "Wilson decided to take on the admin...

    Something you of all people ought to have come into some appreciation for by now.
    Some self-serving lying asshole that "takes on" the admin gets no credit in my book.
    Maybe you should have gone to UCSB, you could have hung out with Joe and Babs Bodine and the rest of the Dope-smoking Bullshit artists there that took their skill where they were needed.
    Government Work.

  17. You and Allen!
    The whole country got led down the primrose path, Traitor Powell and his bastard sidekick Armitage kept their foul mouths closed as Cheney lost his right hand man Libby, Libby's life gets turned upside down (thanks in no small part to Wuss Bush, I admit) lots of wasted time and standing in the larger community.
    Who knows how much damage might have been avoided?
    Lying under oath qualifies as "Violating your fucking oath." in my book.
    (although the CIA may take precidence over Gawd Himself for all I know)

  18. Hey Bobal, or Mat:
    Here the Tongans still eat Fijians for lunch, with a few Haoles for Desert!

  19. "Even so, he was shocked when told that four of his staff had been cannibalised.

    "They were killed simply because they were foreigners, and the natives who killed them did so for no other reason than their desire to eat them, and to get the little property they had with them," he wrote.

    He reluctantly agreed to launch a punitive expedition, ordering his men to burn down villages implicated in the murders and destroy wooden canoes.

    At least 10 tribe members blamed for the attack were killed in an area known as Blanche Bay. Rev Brown claimed the raids made the region safe for Europeans.

    In a letter to the general secretary of the London Missionary Society he wrote: "The natives respect us more than they did, and as they all acknowledge the justice of our cause they bear us no ill will.
    If only Bush and the rest of the Feel-Good about Non-War crowd had the insight into and respect for basic truths that Reverend Brown did!
    Fire and Brimstone, indeed!

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