“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."

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Is Winning in Afghanistan More Important than Iraq?

The International Herald Tribune has an excellent piece on how the Afghan mission was diluted and weakened by the diversion into Iraq. It is a lengthy convincing synopsis of what is unraveling in Afghanistan. How a 'good war' in Afghanistan went bad

Hat tip: Doug

...General James Jones, a retired American officer and a former NATO supreme commander, said Iraq caused the United States to "take its eye off the ball" in Afghanistan. He warned that the consequences of failure "are just as serious in Afghanistan as they are in Iraq."

"Symbolically, it's more the epicenter of terrorism than Iraq," he said. "If we don't succeed in Afghanistan, you're sending a very clear message to the terrorist organizations that the U.S., the U.N. and the 37 countries with troops on the ground can be defeated."


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. But Mr. Khalilzad, American military officials and others in the administration argued that the Taliban were crossing from Pakistan into Afghanistan and killing American troops and aid workers.

    Colleagues in Washington at various levels did not recognize that there was the problem of sanctuary and that this was important,” Mr. Khalilzad said.

    “Destroying the Al Qaeda sanctuary in Afghanistan was an extraordinary strategic accomplishment,” said Robert D. Blackwill, who was in charge of both Afghanistan and Iraq policy at the National Security Council,
    “but where we find ourselves now may have been close to inevitable, whether the U.S. went into Iraq or not.

    We were going to face this long war in Afghanistan as long as we and the Afghan government couldn’t bring serious economic reconstruction to the countryside, and eliminate the Taliban’s safe havens in Pakistan.”
    --- are the sanctuaries in Syria and Iran.
    Bush ends up doing the opposite of what he said as he read Frum's great speechs.

  3. I guess Bush and his
    “Colleagues in Washington at various levels"
    Never checked out the ABC News Website.
    Sometimes one wonders if W ever learned his ABCs.
    Certainly not as wartime leader.

  4. There's a raft of issues to address and a lot of finger pointing in the article.
    From the Three Generals Post:

    General Keane on lessons learned: The National Security apparatus served us reasonably well during the cold war but is completely and wholly inadequate to serve us post 9/11. The inter agency effort does not have the speed and effectiveness. We are now over relying on the military and compensating for the lack of effort of the other agencies.

    There are a number of reasons for this lack of preparedness going back the Vietnam War, the large protest movement, continuing after the war with missle defense in Europe and civil war in central America all the while the west trying to present a united front against the Soviets. Before the Berlin wall fell, cracks had begun to develop in the figurative wall of the Western Allies but Ronald Reagan held it together just long enough to get the job done. Afterwards, though, the cold-war fatigue which had developed over the decades matured into a political force which demanded the peace dividend. We became fat and lazy and just wanted to enjoy ourselves for a while. The Mohammedans sensed opportunity and acted.

    Keane continuedAfter Vietnam, we purged ourselves of the lesson of counter insurgency but irregular warfare is going to be used against us again because it disarms our technology and we have got to be prepared for it.

    We had to go back to school for some refresher courses. We are beginning to see the fruits. It took a while but between the practical experience in Iraq and the dusted off books in Fort Leavenworth perhaps now we can get serious.

    From the Times Article:
    "...Hamid Karzai, said in Washington last week that security in his country had "definitely deteriorated."

    This doesn't surprise me. It shouldn't surprise anyone that the situation is going to deteriorate but because we are so politically correct we refuse to acknowledge that the Koran demands that Muslim land be protected and the world's Muslims see us as invaders. Even your neighbor, the peaceful, quiet "never hurt a flea" type is going to be sympathetic to the insurgents and see the US as the invader.

  5. Juxtapose this article with one posted this morning in the London Guardian You have to read anything written in the Guardian with caution. It is biased to the left but there is an element in this article that concerns me...
    "A whole army is exhausted and worn out. You see the young soldiers washed up like driftwood at Baghdad's international airport, waiting to go on leave or returning to their units, sleeping on their body armour on floors and in the dust.

    Where once the war in Iraq was defined in conversations with these men by untenable ideas - bringing democracy or defeating al-Qaeda - these days the war in Iraq is defined by different ways of expressing the idea of being weary. It is a theme that is endlessly reiterated as you travel around Iraq. 'The army is worn out. We are just keeping people in theatre who are exhausted,' says a soldier working for the US army public affairs office who is supposed to be telling me how well things have been going since the 'surge' in Baghdad began.

    They are not supposed to talk like this. We are driving and another of the public affairs team adds bitterly: 'We should just be allowed to tell the media what is happening here. Let them know that people are worn out. So that their families know back home. But it's like we've become no more than numbers now.'...

  6. " But it's like we've become no more than numbers now.'... "
    Like that 15 year old Texas girl.
    But Bush won't even acknowledge the numbers.

    All the corrupt traitors that would rather make another buck than Preserve the Union insist that he stay the course.

  7. The US IS an invader.

    Make no mistake about that.
    In both Afghanistan and Iraq. Whether with "good" intentions or "bad", thoughts of liberation or with Imperial designs upon natural resources. The cause has no change as to the effect.

    Justified or not, the US IS an invader, in both countries.

    The situation in and along the Afghan/Pakistan frontier is nothing new, as doug says. The warning lights have been flashing since Tota Bora. Ignored by most, but there to be seen, easily enough.

    David Frum being a heck of a speach writer, Mr Bush, a President with high approval ratings and a united people, more than an adequate delivery vehicle for the words.
    Words that defined the Mission, words that defined the scope and scale of the effort. Words that were subsequently ignored.

    Wonderful rhetoric, from Mr Frum, poor execution of those rhetorical promises made from the Bush Administration.

    Not enough of the high altitude bombers employeed at Tora Bora, to supplement the Army we did not have on the ground.

    Proving to General Gul and his Team that the US was not to be feared, not at all.

    The US, UN and the 37 other countries not willing to provide the resources required to win, in Afghanistan. Not enough resources to even irradicate the poppies, let alone the jihadi.

    Reread that 2002 State of the Union address. Nation building in Iraq was not promised, though it was in Afghanistan.
    Has Afghanistan been rebuilt?
    Have we achieve success at that Mission?

    Our nation will continue to be steadfast and patient and persistent in the pursuit of two great objectives. First, we will shut down terrorist camps, disrupt terrorist plans, and bring terrorists to justice. And, second, we must prevent the terrorists and regimes who seek chemical, biological or nuclear weapons from threatening the United States and the world. (Applause.)

    Our military has put the terror training camps of Afghanistan out of business, yet camps still exist in at least a dozen countries. A terrorist underworld -- including groups like Hamas, Hezbollah, Islamic Jihad, Jaish-i-Mohammed -- operates in remote jungles and deserts, and hides in the centers of large cities.

    While the most visible military action is in Afghanistan, America is acting elsewhere. We now have troops in the Philippines, helping to train that country's armed forces to go after terrorist cells that have executed an American, and still hold hostages. Our soldiers, working with the Bosnian government, seized terrorists who were plotting to bomb our embassy. Our Navy is patrolling the coast of Africa to block the shipment of weapons and the establishment of terrorist camps in Somalia.

    My hope is that all nations will heed our call, and eliminate the terrorist parasites who threaten their countries and our own. Many nations are acting forcefully. Pakistan is now cracking down on terror, and I admire the strong leadership of President Musharraf. (Applause.)

    But some governments will be timid in the face of terror. And make no mistake about it: If they do not act, America will. (Applause.)
    ... all nations should know: America will do what is necessary to ensure our nation's security.

    We'll be deliberate, yet time is not on our side. I will not wait on events, while dangers gather. I will not stand by, as peril draws closer and closer. The United States of America will not permit the world's most dangerous regimes to threaten us with the world's most destructive weapons.
    We can't stop short. If we stop now -- leaving terror camps intact and terror states unchecked -- our sense of security would be false and temporary. History has called America and our allies to action, and it is both our responsibility and our privilege to fight freedom's fight.

    So there you have it, actions promised then promptly ignored.

    A President that was not going to "wait on events" has been captured in a reactionary mode, in an action/reaction loop that cedes the inititive to the jihadi.
    To the point that the nukes of Pakistan are now in play.

    Mr Frum knew of which he wrote, America's current "sense of security" being exactly as he forecast.

    A shame that Mr Bush did not heed those words, hinself.

    "Time is not on our side", yet the Bush Team later marketed US efforts as being the "Long War".
    After Mr Frum's departure, I believe.

  8. Can you have the one without the other?

  9. Speaking of Iraq and Afghanistan, bob?

  10. Musharraf points out that both Afghanistan and Pakistan are the focal point for radical Islam.

    What the world is loathe to admit is that failure in these two countries leaves the Islamists with a large swath of territory from which to administer their new caliphate. The UN has officially recommitted itself to helping sort out Iraq, but like the US civilian agencies, the UN civilians want no part of that duty station.

    The long term implications of the world's apathy and fear are not encouraging.

  11. A President that was not going to "wait on events" has been captured in a reactionary mode, in an action/reaction loop that cedes the inititive to the jihadi.
    To the point that the nukes of Pakistan are now in play.

    About that action/reaction loop:
    I can see a scenario where we tire of the whole enterprise, retreat from the area and are later forced to wage a destructive air war against the very people we are now trying to bring peace and security to.

  12. Yes, if we are out of Iraq, bodes ill for Afghanistan, I'd think, though I understand it would free up a lot of troops. The call at home would turn into 'bring them home for Afghanistan'.

  13. The Kurds are not invaders. From the time of Ur and the earliest known civilization in history, Iraq was their country. They would have split Iran and Syria apart, taking the whole of Iraq. The psychological incentive is there. And the cost, is pennies on the dollar, now wasted.

  14. " A terrorist underworld -- including groups like Hamas, Hezbollah, Islamic Jihad, Jaish-i-Mohammed -- operates in remote jungles and deserts, and hides in the centers of large cities. "
    I posted that AlQ dustup in Philipines where the one-armed jihadis' boys at it at Belmont, but, like the MSM, no response.
    Also asked Phillipines Phil.
    No response there.
    Bush has anasthetized us beyond Bubba's wildest Dreams.
    Bubba could run a brothel in the WH if he could do as well.

  15. If Iran and Syria were considered real enemies of the US, mat, the Kurds would be encouraged to "make waves" in either country. Those waves would be seen. They are not.

    The US subsidizes Iran to the tune of $220 million, just this year. Not something one does with a Nation State that is a sponsor of terror, an enemy of the United States.

    The money is the reality, the jingoistic rhetoric, so much hot air.

  16. I agree Bobal,
    The message would be "Today, Iraq. Tomorrow Afghanistan."

    Like dominos, as the jihadis and the Democrats, envigorated with victory in Iraq, turn their full attention to Afghanistan.

    Faster please.

  17. "jihadis ate it"
    ...50, as I recall.

  18. "The US subsidizes Iran to the tune of $220 million, just this year."
    Which thread did Panama post that on?

  19. Here's Huckabee getting some of the 'traction' Whit was hoping for.

  20. That is so pathetic, Albob.
    Like Bush Grabbing His Ankles for Ted Kennedy.
    ...and ...and ...and

  21. Here's something interesting from Bobal's link:
    Fourth place went, a little surprisingly, to Tom Tancredo, who delivered perhaps the biggest applause line of the day as the candidates delivered their pitches, one after the other, to the Republicans gathered in the air-conditioned Hilton Coliseum. The unexpected thing was that Tancredo’s applause-getter wasn’t about immigration. Instead, Tancredo told the story of Danny Dietz, a Navy SEAL who was killed in Afghanistan in circumstances Tancredo blamed on restrictive rules of engagement. “When I am president, I will never, ever, ever send anyone into harm’s way with a CYA memo drafted by a Pentagon lawyer,” Tancredo told the crowd. “The only rule of engagement I’m going to have in a Tancredo administration is this: We win, you lose!” That got a lot more applause than anyone’s talk about change and the future.
    Americans still want to win!

  22. If Somalia sent the Strong Horse message to assholes around the World,
    What will 8years of BushII do?
    At home, and abroad.

  23. Tom T was on Ingraham show.
    Previewed that line before and got the same response.

    Hunter/Tancredo, 08!

  24. It;s that "false sense of security" whit, that Mr Frum warned US of.

    Immediately after 9-11, "theyll hit US again" mantra was all the rage. Stoking the fires of jingoism. But no attacks came.

    This claimed as another "success" by Bush supporters, the events that they forecast not occurring.

    When the weather man forecasts rain, and the sun shines, does he get the credit for a nice day?

    Or was the forecaster just plain wrong?

    To bad about those aQ base camps being evacuated, actionable intel the US did not act upon. But farmed out to the B Team, which dropped the ball, as forecasted.

    Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me.

    The Pakistani Army motto:
    "Faith, Piety, Jihad in the path of Allah"

    Better believe it, they do.

  25. My
    Sun Aug 12, 10:25:00 AM EDT

    was responding to AlBob's
    Sun Aug 12, 10:16:00 AM EDT
    In which we "share" info with our "friends."

  26. Yeah,
    Bubba should have taken credit for no repeat attack on the WTC in his entire term.

    ...but he left that level of BS for the Master Disaster in Cheif, W,
    and his
    devout cheerleading team.

  27. "Is The Bubble About to Burst?"

    or go direct to the WaPo:
    Bankrolling Iran
    The World Bank's Largess Is Undermining the U.N. and the West

    By Mark Kirk
    Friday, August 10, 2007; Page A13

  28. Feds on terror lookout for 'high-risk' Pakistanis

    "Many of the individuals trained in the Pakistani camps are destined to commit illegal activities in the United States," warned the two-page DHS advisory that launched the special action.

  29. Exactly, whit, fight to win, or don't fight at all.

    The idea that we'd fight to achieve a status que stalemate, repulsive to most Americans of the United States.

    To use the lives of young patriots as fodder for "Not Losing", rather than winning.

    The invasion of Iraq was a success, the establisment of a democratic government a success, micro-managing Iraqi society, a bridge to far.

    We operate at cross purposes to ourselves, in the effort to manage Iraqi affairs.

    Jim Hoagland, in the WaPo, mentions some of those cross purposes in his latest offering, starting in Anbar and arming the Baathists, but then moving on to other examples, in Iraq.

    ... But both of those efforts contradict and undermine Bush's avowed strategy of moving as quickly as possible to turn over responsibility for security to a national Iraqi army. U.S. troops are being pushed to produce short-term security gains that are likely to be temporary and perhaps ultimately self-defeating.

    Similar contradictions mar the U.S. push for political reconciliation: The White House is pressuring Iraq's Kurds to vote for a national petroleum law that is not in Kurdish interests at exactly the same time that Bush representatives are suggesting to the Kurds that the United States does not support their constitutional right to a referendum on the status of Kirkuk this year. Likewise, the U.S. Embassy pushes Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki to make politically damaging compromises with his foes as the CIA starts yet another version of its long-running effort to install its favorite Iraqi politician, Ayad Allawi, in Maliki's job. And so on.

    The policy contradictions and conflicts within his own government that Bush has never been able or willing to resolve have created a Beckett-like hell of unfulfilled expectations and immobility for both Iraqis and Americans.

  30. dRat,

    Back then, the US subsidized the Soviet Union. That's because the Soviets were our friends?

  31. This comment has been removed by the author.

  32. Referencing WWII, mat?

    If so, then the analogy is flawed.

    The Soviets lost millions of men in the fight, crippling Stalin's offensive capabilities, until his death.
    The 1920's, hardly have lost four score and seven against aQ. Not crippling their capacity for further conflict, later. But allowing them to ramp up greater capacity for the anti-government insurgency.

    And who is aQIraq, 2,000 maybe 3,000 foreigners, according to Brookings, the balance Iraqi, still fighting US or engaged in a civil war. Same as the past couple of years.

    If the fight is against Iran, why do we subsidize them through the World Bank?
    Obviously, the fight is not against Iran, nor wahhabists, nor the aQ bases in Warizistan.

    There is not much of a fight at all, based upon body counts, just policing Iraqi neighbrhoods. Check here for the MNF press releases, they chronicle each arrest and enemy loss. More arrests than deaths, but no more prison capacity built. Catch & Release obviously continuing based upon that fact.

    In Afghanistan, waiting for the Taliban to attack NATO positions, rather than taking the fight to their sanctuaries, is the prefered tactical policy.

    Defense rarely wins, offense does.

  33. Nope. I'm talking the hight of the Cold War. The wheat trade between the US/Canada and the Soviets.

  34. Rufus was right here on the Chinese:

    China Seeks to Dampen US Dollar Rumors
    Sunday August 12, 3:10 am ET
    China's Central Bank Says US Dollars Are Important Part of Reserves, State Media Reports

    BEIJING (AP) -- China sought Sunday to dampen speculation it will conduct a massive sell-off of U.S. dollar holdings, with a central bank official saying the dollar remains a mainstay of its foreign exchange reserves.

    In an interview carried by the government's Xinhua News Agency, an unnamed official with the People's Bank of China said U.S. dollars and government bonds are "an important part of China's foreign reserve investments."

    China's $1.3 trillion in foreign exchange reserves are the largest in the world and are believed to be comprised largely of dollar assets, potentially giving Beijing enormous sway over the dollar's value and currency markets worldwide.

  35. From 'Ag Weekly'--I won't quote the whole piece, of what Charlie Rangle has been up to it again.

    'Republicans miffed a last-minute farm bill maneuver'

    After it's all but agreed to, Charlie, wtihout holding a vote among even his own committee, sticks in about$8 billion in new taxes, and the Republicans don't even know till literally ' after midnight.'

    My rep said the hell with it and voted against the whole package, which he thought had been a good package before Charlie Mangle rangled it.

    "They are not going to make me choose between the farmers and the middle class', said my guy, Rep. Sali, R. Idaho.

    Don't know where the farm bill stands right now. Goes to the Senate I would think.

  36. Maybe we need one day set off each week--optimists day--where if you don't have anything upbeat to say, you are not allowed to say anything. Might quiet the place down, or, open up new vistas of creative optimistic thought. Both optimism and pessimism can be contagious I read somewhere.

    Sun Aug 12, 03:57:00 AM EDT

    I'm going to second your tentative proposal, bob.

  37. New word in the political dictionary

    rangel-to rangel-- to stick in surreptitiously, or attempt to stick in, billions of dollars in taxes and pork, in spending and revenue bills, while every one else, even your own committee, is sound asleep, or out on the town with D.C. hookers.

  38. Trish,

    Second episode of "THE COMPANY" tonight. Enjoy it.

  39. The following op/ed seems relevant to this thread:

    "Feeling icky about Iggy


    Friday, August 10, 2007 – Page A17

    For a moment last Sunday, as I opened Michael Ignatieff's alleged mea culpa - Getting Iraq Wrong - in The New York Times Magazine (heralded in advance by The Globe and Mail and lauded by the Times's resident war critic, Frank Rich), I thought he might have learned something. Then I read his piece.

    "One thing is clear: The costs of staying will be borne by Americans, while the cost of leaving will be mostly borne by Iraqis." How obscene. It is Iraq that was shattered. There are two million internal and two million external refugees. Everyone has weapons. No one has dependable power and thus clean water except the occupiers in the increasingly targeted Green Zone. The people of Iraq bore the cost of the U.S. going in and staying, and they will bear the cost when and if it leaves. All U.S. losses are collateral damage.

    Or this: The war's opponents "opposed the invasion because they believed ... America is always and in every situation wrong." Exactly who said that, Michael? Could we have a name? It's a cheap straw man, that's all, to go along with platitudes such as, "Not all good things, after all, can be had together, whether in life or in politics."

    What was the error of the war's backers? That they took "wishes for reality" and supposed, "as President Bush did, that because they believed in the integrity of their own motives everyone else in the region would believe in it, too." What motives? To build "a free state" in Iraq, defend "human rights and freedom," etc. In other words, he accepts at face value all the rhetoric and propaganda used to justify the invasion. In other other words, there were no lies told. That's the stunning moment in his article. We are to believe that governments do not routinely lie about their motives, yet he himself writes in this very piece: "In public life, language is a weapon of war ... All that matters is what you said, not what you meant." So we're supposed to believe George Bush did say what he meant? Let me catch my breath.

    (There.) I admit I feel a bit icky attacking someone while he's trying to apologize, but I'm forcing myself because I think there's a larger issue here. I consider this article part of an effort to salvage a carefully constructed policy of Western interventionism in much of the world that has recently been sullied by the Iraq fiasco.

    The policy itself remains. Tony Blair retires as British PM and morphs into a Mideast peace envoy, as if what that wretched region needs is yet more Western meddling. Gordon Brown takes over from him and prepares to depart Iraq but move even more heavily into Afghanistan, which gets typed as the good war, as opposed to the bad one in Iraq. The U.S. Democratic presidential candidates are all interventionists on this model. Yves Engler has presciently noted Canada's modest role in the pattern by policing Haiti, a tragic land that has suffered two centuries of near constant intervention.

    The arguments for this course of action were built up by, among others, Michael Ignatieff, during the 1990s, when anti-communism was no longer available to justify Western foreign policy. The new rationales were human rights, failed states, right to protect, etc. The showcases were Bosnia and Kosovo (though ethnic cleansing in Kosovo occurred after, and due to, the NATO bombing there), which led to Iraq and Afghanistan. It amounts to the same old world order of power politics, in a new dress. The only nations that claim the right to protect are those with the might to protect. The issue not addressed is whether foreign interventionism itself is a problem, complicit in many problems that "we" must then intervene in order to contain.

    These policies have helped bring us to a point where almost everyone in the world is irate, terrified or both. It's time for a big rethink. That involves more than saying Oops about the isolated case of Iraq."

  40. Oh, I don't watch it myself, habu. But I fully encourage you to present your take on it.

  41. I don't know much about that, mat.
    But this Time article from Oct, 1963 explains the reasoning behind beginning the sales.

    Faced with a bitter harvest for the fourth year out of the last five, the Soviets have been shopping for wheat in every major Western market. Two weeks ago they ordered about $500 million's worth from Canada, and last week $100 million's worth from Australia. They also dropped broad hints that they wanted to buy from the U.S. With that, top U.S. wheat dealers formed a negotiating team whose spokesman was Burton Joseph, president of Minneapolis' big I. S. Joseph Co., Inc. The team went to Ottawa, got a bid from the same Soviet traders who had dealt with Canada. The Russians were in such a hurry that they wanted the U.S. wheat shipments to start by Oct. 1.

    Sticking on Subsidies. At first blush, a U.S. wheat sale seemed like a good idea. It would cut the nation's 1.2 billion-bushel wheat surplus—if only by 75 million or 100 million bushels. It would narrow the U.S.'s $5 billion deficit in the balance of payments—if only by a small fraction. A.F.L.-C.I.O. President George Meany, an opponent of any deal with the Reds, was for this one. So was Commerce Secretary Luther Hodges. So were Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman J. William Fulbright, Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Allen Ellender and House Agriculture Committee Chairman Harold Cooley. Even Barry Goldwater told a New Jersey audience: "I'm going to surprise you, but if our allies sell wheat to the Russians, maybe we should too. It's in the nature of the American people to help hungry people."
    Push for More. The Administration figured that a wheat deal could lead to considerable thawing in the cold war, and was weighing various initiatives that could stem from it. A top White House aide sat down with a reporter and listed some of the points being debated in the White House:

    Even enthusiastic supporters of the deal conceded that much more was needed to really solve the farm-surplus and the gold-outflow problems. But a big U.S. wheat sale would have some advantages. Most of all, it would dramatically demonstrate to all the world the sorry economic state of Communism in Russia. The evidence is already visible in Leningrad and other Russian cities, where long queues form in front of bakeries to buy bread.

    A Blast from the past.

  42. "The Administration figured that a wheat deal could lead to considerable thawing in the cold war.."

    They were wrong, per usual. And we're seeing the same error being repeated over and over and over again by psychologically incognizant dopes who haven't a clue of understanding of their adversaries.

  43. Uh, ... wait, .... I can figure this one out.

    Which one's got the oil, again?

  44. "The peace movements of the '50s and '80s focused on avoiding a nuclear meltdown between the U.S. and the Soviet Union but were sometimes still infected by Cold War politics. Western Communist parties, with secretive ties to the Soviet Union, often played a role, without being frank about their goals, so those movements were partly infused with hidden agendas. ..The current movement is unaffected by any noteworthy hidden agendas."

  45. Not the one that staged the attacks on the US.

    Not the one that harboured Osama.

    If oil production had risen, or become more secure under a US administration than Saddam's, that arguement might hold water, rufus.

    But neither occurred. Oil production remains pretty much constant, and the monies flow to Shia militias rather than the Republican Guard.

    Not really much of an improvent for $500 Billion USD.
    Which is enough to build how many ethanol distilleries?

    Panda Energy last month awarded a $120 million contract to build the ethanol plant, which the company's president, Todd Carter, said will be one of the biggest ethanol plants in the U.S.

    $120 million.
    $500 Billion. Let's do the math ...
    I get 4,166.
    Today there are 100 or so commercial ethanol distilleries, the money spent to protect what already was flowing, from Iraq.
    Well that would have made the US energy independent, would it not have?

    To have 4,155 more of the "biggest in the US" ethanol distilleries, with each facility producing over 100 million gallons of fuel ethanol a year.
    Let's do the math on that one, aye?
    That'd be 4166 with how many zeros, 8 or 9?
    4,166,000,000,000 gallons @ 9 zeros, divide by 42 arrives at almost 1 trillion barrels. Annually or 100 billion barrels with 8 zeros.

    Or more worn out equipment with defered maintaince and another 3,600 dead, which would be the better strategic expediture, for the next four years?

    Maintaim in Iraq, keep on keepin' on, or scale back there, pump up in Pakistan to kill those who attacked US and become energy self-sufficent.

    Where is the money better spent?

  46. DEBKA: Iran and Iraq to negotiate deal for new pipeline to carry 200,000 barrels a day of southern Iraqi crude to Iran’s refineries. This was announced Wednesday, Aug. 9, after Iraqi PM Nouri Maliki’s visit to Tehran.

  47. Gotta secure that Iraqi oil, for Iran aye?

    Things sure are looking better for US, aren't they?

    The Iraqi looking out for their own interests, as democracies do.

    Standing on their own
    On time, on target.

  48. dRat,

    What I can't understand is, after the Israeli experience with the Shiia in Lebanon, that the US would go ahead and make the same errors. Why?

  49. Where is the money better spent?

    Hey, I've been singing this song for awhile, now. Big oil is a "tough" opponent. How many of you thought that ethanol was a "boondoggle" until I started posting alt energy stuff. Most people still believe it. All they read is a constant barrage of API talking points without knowing where they're coming from.

  50. This is what you're up against.

    I think a lot of it has to do with the fact that the only thing EPA cares about is what MPG the vehicles get on gasoline, not E85. The manufacturers can "dumb down" the computer systems that used to be able to optomize the calibration to each fuel or a combination of both to being able to just burn it well enough to not cause too many warranty issues. Even cases of vehicles coming back to the dealerships with reports of poor starting, MPG, or performance on E85 have been reported as the service writers just telling the customers to refrain from using it.

    I also don't think it's an accident that you see the E85 MPG dropping. I have no firsthand factual information to back this theory up, but one example is "Ford recommends BP" right on the fuel cap of the newest vehicles, which tells me that the Big Three are in bed with Big Oil. So, they still produce FFVs for the tax incentives and to exempt the guzzlers from CAFE regulations, but make them run just bad enough on E85 that most people will just say forget it and run gasoline in their vehicles.

    Ethanol Planet.

  51. BTW, I'm NOT as Pessimistic as that Planet Ethanol link made me look. With ALL of the major car companies building flex fuel vehicles, and with FFV sales UP 47% YOY, they will "eventually" start competing for who can build the "Best" FFV.

    They DON'T WANT TO, But THEY'LL HAVE TO. Bastards.

  52. I can't find the link, now, but the EPA, and another agency took a 1.9 L Volkswagen engine, made a few modifications (upped the compression a bunch,) and got "Better" Fuel Economy than the same engine got when operating on Gasoline, or Diesel.

    Betcha didn't read that in the MSM.

  53. Odd type of link here, but it's basically someone's posting history on FreeRepublic, a person I've been watching for a long time. An airborne veteran who is now posted to the Pentagon, and among other things, just left Basrah. Worth reading.

  54. Found it. VW engine "Optimized" for ethanol.

    Kicks Ass.

    BTW, you might have wondered why, upon going to 100% ethanol the Indy cars didn't have to have a bigger gas tank. Maybe, it was because their Fuel Mileage Improved?

  55. Could Camelina be the new wonder crop for Montana? Maybe, according to Ag Weekly. Grows great in a dryer climate, filled with Omega3 oils, converts to fuels. Used to be a big deal in bronze and iron age old world agricuilture. Used in a program with wheat rotation in Montana. Idaho, least the northern part, seems to wet for it though.

  56. If the Russians weren't such dolts and run by a prideful gangster, they'd try to team up with us. Stranger things have, and could, happen.

    The 60's--days of unrestricted wheat sales to the Russians and $6 wheat. Back when a new pickup truck cost $6,000. Those were the days!:)

  57. Bob, scroll down to see where Camelina falls on the List.

  58. Now, tell me rufus, if you would supply a judgement.

    Is the idea of the US remaining in Iraq, at the present course and speed one of optimisum or pessimisum?

    The ideas of spending another $100 Billion dollars in Iraq in 2008, or a crash building program of 800 100 million gallon capacity distilleries in the US.

    Which idea is optimistic?
    Which is pessimistic?
    Which should be the priority?
    Which would better move the US forward in the "Energy Wars"?

    We know which idea is supported by the Bush Administration.

    How about half of each, but then we'd not be maintaining course and speed.

    As you increased the range of my thinking about "green solutions", I notice that your position on cross border miscreants has modified, over time.

    mat, as to the Shia and past experiences, vis a vie the learning curve, who the hell knows.

    The crux of the matter, the US announced it's deal in Iraq, to renege on that deal, to try to manipulate the Iraqi political society to reach a US approved solution, one that is opposed by the majority of the Iraqi.
    That's just bad for business.

    As bad, really, as abandoning the Vietnamese to the Communists.

    The Iraqi have been liberated, they are free to choose, they did choose in free and fair elections. Just because the outcome is not our desired fantasy, well that's what happens when you liberate, instead of conquer.

    A certain naivitee exists in the US, when it come to foreign lands and people. As a personal example, even today, my mental image of Asia is one of a historical period costume movie. Even after traveling extensively throgh Asia. Rationally I know, it is a modern bustling place, but still, the mental picture is a period piece from a Jet Li or Wo Fat movie.

    Just as many foreigners "know" that the streets of the US are full of gun toting cowboys, on horseback.

  59. Iraq is just a "Mother*****r."

    That's about as far as I can get.

    I have Never been less sure of anything in my life as I am as to what could/should/ will be done in that shithole.

  60. We have about 76 ethanol refineries under construction, at present. It's taking longer, and longer to get them built. The new ones are more efficient, and thus, more complex. We're up to 18 - 20 months, and the ones coming up will be more like 30 months, or more.

    Big oil sicced the UL on e85, and now they've got new pumps slowed to virtually "stop."

    The Car companies are stalling as best they can. MSM, which gets BILLIONS in adv dollars from big oil are just pounding on ethanol every week. Outrageous stories that require less than one minute to fact check are making their way into the WSJ, and NYTimes.

    It took an hour to fisk the idiotic piece that kudlow and the rest were running around touting that ran in The Rolling Stone. Of Ten supposed "Facts," NINE were just out and out Stone Bullshit. That was the "Facts." Just imagine the "Opinions."

    What I'm getting around to is that it's going to take awhile to do a job that anyone who writes on this blog could do in 3 years, and change, because of the political problems of moving quickly. Someone would have to be given "War Powers," and, although we ARE at War, I don't see it happening.

  61. Afghan Rebels Find a Haven in Pakistan, Musharraf Says
    In a reversal, Gen. Pervez Musharraf of Pakistan admitted that support for militants emanating from Pakistan has caused problems for Afghanistan.

  62. Showdown or Showtime In Pakistan?

    Why neither Musharraf nor the Taliban-al-Qaeda alliance want this fight...yet.

    When al-Qaeda finally takes control of Pakistan, it will almost certainly not give the appearance of a military conquest with bin Laden hoisting the Keys to the Kingdom above his head. There will be, by necessity, a different figure taking the reigns and riding to Pakistan’s rescue, complete with pragmatic statements intended for international digestion in order to cause pause in reaction. Were al-Qaeda to overtly and directly seize Pakistan, wrest her military and control her nuclear weapons, the United States would most assuredly destroy them in place.

    So al-Qaeda’s takeover of Pakistan and her nuclear arsenal will be initiated with the successful removal or assassination of Musharraf. But al-Qaeda’s power (and Islamist control) will be realized in the guise of a figure such as former Pakistani military intelligence (ISI) chief Hamid Gul or former Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. It must be in order to preserve the arsenal.

    It is widely believed that Hamid Gul works directly for bin Laden behind a thin veil of deniability.
    All would do well to know what to look for in recognizing al-Qaeda control of Pakistan that would be present in a less-than-overt manner. Failure to do so could be incredibly costly.

  63. That is actually good news, doug.
    Better late than never, they say.

    The General President must REALLY need our help.

  64. Yeah,
    Consider this:
    "Even with the suicide bomber attacks, reportedly killing sixty Sunday alone, the forces of the Taliban-al-Qaeda alliance in the tribal areas of Pakistan – numbering over 200,000 armed fighters - have largely held themselves in check.
    Steve says many of these aren't the amateurs that they send across the border to harass Afghanistan.

  65. "As former top CIA al-Qaeda analyst Michael Scheuer noted in his book Through Our Enemies’ Eyes (pg. 176), it was reported in the Pakistani media that bin Laden gave Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif 1 billon rupees ahead of the 1990 elections.

    And as talk circulates about a potential Benazir Bhutto – Musharraf alliance, it should be noted that bin Laden most assuredly has no stomach for a female leadership in Pakistan."

  66. While I haven't been listening to Savage lately, sounds like things are 'heating up' in the city of free love.

    Just kept your eye on the mayor--he may well 'get to' your wife, while you are seeing the sights:)

    Better yet, buy a pair of handcuffs, and go walking with your wife, hand in hand, if you go to San Francisco.

  67. I should have made a comment about San Francisco, and the 'free speech' movement, but didn't think of it in time. You can say what you want there, as long as it is exactly what everone else is saying.

  68. Time to pop a cool one--Lipton's Ice Tea, a good choice--put the feet up tonight and watch the Watch the Show.

    Happens every year, some years better then others, but you got to luck out and have a cloudless night.

  69. "Even with the suicide bomber attacks, reportedly killing sixty Sunday alone, the forces of the Taliban-al-Qaeda alliance in the tribal areas of Pakistan – numbering over 200,000 armed fighters - have largely held themselves in check.

    Why press your good fortune and risk disrupting or losing your cozy set up? I imagine they've got that calibrated pretty well.

  70. Newt Gingrich on Republicans:

  71. Rat and rufus reminded me: OIF is notable in that neither opponents or proponents have a clear, agreed upon understanding of the reasons for its undertaking. The why is in dispute.

    No surprise, then, that it is also notable for lacking any greater strategic vision or goal of which it might be a part. It's a cul-de-sac as campaigns go.

    Be that as it may, winning in Afghanistan is no longer more important than winning in Iraq.

  72. mat, as to the Shia and past experiences, vis a vie the learning curve, who the hell knows.

    dRat, maybe it's really is this simple:

  73. Phil,
    This has gotten very little attention from the media here.
    If you have any good links, maybe you could post them at the Elephant Bar?
    At least 52 die in battle between military, rebels in S. Philippines
    MANILA, Aug. 10 (AP) - (Kyodo)—More than 52 people were killed, including 25 government troops and two high-ranking members of an al-Qaida-linked Muslim extremist group, in a fierce gunfight between soldiers and rebels in southern Philippines, an army spokesman said Friday.
    The fighting erupted early Thursday when a group of suspected Abu Sayyaf rebels ambushed a military convoy in Indanan on Jolo Island, killing 10 soldiers and wounding two others, and continued into the night in neighboring Maimbung where 15 soldiers and 27 rebels were killed, Philippine Army spokesman Col. Ernesto Torres said.

    The military also believes at least two high-ranking rebels -- the close aide of one-armed Abu Sayyaf commander Radullan Sahiron and the son of Abu Sayyaf leader Umbra Jumadil alias Dr. Abu Pula -- died in the clash, Torres told Kyodo News.
    PhilippinesPhil said...

    Actually, what goes on down there against the Abu's might as well be happening on the moon.
    Folks around here are just as disconnected from it as most Americans are from the conflict in Iraq and Afghanistan.
    You know as much as I do doug.

  74. "It is widely believed that Hamid Gul works directly for bin Laden behind a thin veil of deniability."



  75. "In the immediate, if al-Qaeda has actionable attack plans for the continental United States as many analysts fear, so long as a weak Musharraf is in place in Pakistan, his presence acts as an insurance policy of sorts against a heavy US response to a new attack."

    Doug, this is just silly. The chief circumstance under which the administration (any administration) would not only LOUDLY embrace go-to-hell unilateral military action but forgo the the usual do-we-have-this one-guy-pegged-to-within-50-
    yards-in-the-last-half-hour, is the event of another 9/11. Musharraf can be understood as the insurance policy against *preemptive* action of that nature.

    To further assert that AQ is capable of and intends to take Afghanistan and rule it through Gul or like figure is nonsense.

    Maybe in other areas Steve Schippert is particularly insightful. But not in this one.

  76. I just came from watching a tv program on the creation of those massive manmade islands in Dubai in the shape of a palm tree, the world and a crescent.

    It definitely gives the impression that the USA is making the Dubai safe for well healed vacationers.

    Dubai reckons to run out of oil 2016. So they want to create something to replace oil revenues.

    Such a little country. Such big vision & forsight.

    Here's two posts this week on water desalination.

    Craig Ventor At Large/Computer Modeling Gets Small

    Intermediate Term Solutions

  77. The new world of urban terror coming--Short, Nasty According to this article, decentralize the services.

  78. ....or live in a bunker....just get yourself a good bunker mate....

  79. Charles, thanks for the Heads-up on your posts. Desalination and Irrigation are two of the most vitally important fields of research going on today.

  80. I'd have to disagree, trish. The "why", the reasons for undertakng OIF are well documented in the Law.

    The "why" we continue on, that is in dispute. Senator Warner and even Sec. Gates concur, the Authorization that well describes the "why", well, it has been fulfilled.

    Why we stay, now that is in dispute, the President and his team not giving good cause for the continued US presence. If they did, the majority of the public could well be with them, instead of just the 35% that is.

    Even that 35% is not momolithic in it's reasonings, but does make Ron Paul's supporters loom large, by comparison. Instead of just a fragment of the fringe, when only 35% of the public is supporting US foreign policy. While even less are supporting the Congress's actions or lack there of.

  81. That article is a good articulation of my thinking, bob.

    In Iraq, for example, the US went for centralized power generation, instead of a decentralized, local systems. Top down, instead of bottom up, same as with the politics.

    Seemingly easier to "manage", but slower to build and impossible to defend. Giant generating stations, with the large distribution networks are vunerable, there, here, anywhere.

    That is one of the challenges to nuclear power generation, in a targeted area. The grid is vunerable to destruction.

    Anyone who has driven across the Western US has seen the transmission lines. Drop those towers in May or June and watch LA and Phoenix swelter in the summer heat.

    It would largely depopulate Phoenix, if the A/C did not function from May to October. The economic losses would be staggering, similar to New Orleans in it's own way.
    The people of the United States not as hardy as low income Baghdadis.

    As Mr Snow said, when it is over 110 degrees, that is excuse enough for politicians to get out of Baghdad, even when the A/C works.

  82. I worry about those transmission lines too. Give me a box of dynamite, I can cause some real trouble, a few miles from here. It would help for starters to put them underground, but they weren't thinking that way back then.

    One of the biggest employers around here is Schweitzer Engineering Labs, built from the bottom up by the son of an electrical engineering prof here. Makes--stuff--don't know the terms--but shipped all over the world. It reroutes the juice flow, so that if something goes out, half the city doesn't go dark, just some blocks around. If some delivery trucks knocks over something in a city, no big deal. This doesn't get around the problem of the big lines though, or the many other problems anyone can think up for themselves. I sure one that thinks the cities are too big--way too big.

    Las Vegas without juice--terrifying. But Las Vegas with juice--terrifying:)

  83. "I'd have to disagree, trish. The "why", the reasons for undertakng OIF are well documented in the Law."

    Nevertheless, the why is in dispute. Here at the bar as elsewhere. What the authorization had to say about it, unsatisfying or ridiculous to this day to many. Oil? "Forward leaning freedom" - and forces? Iran? Terrorism? WMD? Unfinished business? I remember when long ago, Wretcherd allowed it isn't obvious why.

    On this matter, Wretchard is quite correct.

    If we weren't going to stop with Afghanistan, what made Iraq compelling?

  84. Battles raging in remotest Pakistan

    PESHAWAR, PAKISTAN -- As Pakistani forces press ahead with their most concerted campaign in years against Taliban and Al Qaeda militants in the dry, jagged hills of Pakistan's tribal belt, the insurgents have moved to establish new footholds in remote corners of the Texas-sized region along the border with Afghanistan.

    Rearmed militants are spreading through tribal areas in North Waziristan, often seizing the offensive.

  85. Pakistan Panorama: Reality bite for Mush, Bhutto

    IT is perhaps not an exaggeration to proffer that a Day of Judgment of sorts looms for Pakistan characterized by, fitting for such an occasion, extreme acts of political desperation, betrayals, horrors, betrothals, gambles and cheek — on display from almost all the actors on Pakistan stage. A series of developments are coming to an astonishing head...
    American Power Play In Pakistan
    In Washington, the topic of Pakistan has come to the fore in all of the major institutional spheres that impact, influence and execute warfighting and foreign policy. Within the military and intelligence communities as well as the political arena, the long-deferred issue has bubbled to the surface

  86. Mullah Omar practices decentralization even as we type about it!
    "The Taliban's evolution
    The death in May of Taliban commander Mullah Dadullah in Afghanistan during a coalition raid set in motion a major change within the Taliban's command structure.

    The loss of the heroic commander was a huge blow for the Taliban in southwestern Afghanistan, as a major symbol of success had been killed - and there was no one of his stature to replace him, as another top Taliban commander, Mullah Akhtar Osmani, had earlier been killed in Helmand.

    Amid the demoralization, the entire Taliban leadership left Helmand, Urzgan, Zabul and Kandahar and sat idle in Satellite Town in Quetta, Pakistan, for several weeks.

    Finally, in June, Taliban leader Mullah Omar outlined new guidelines, which included:
    No members of the central military command would work in southwestern Afghanistan.
    Group commanders would be given control of specific districts and be allowed to develop their own strategy.
    This strategy would be passed on only to the Taliban-appointed "governor" of the area, who in turn would relay it to the Taliban's central command council. From these various inputs, the council would develop a broader strategy for particular regions.
    The Taliban would discourage personality cults like Dadullah's, as the death of a "hero" demoralized his followers.
    Four spokesmen were appointed to decentralize the Taliban's media-information wing. Each spokesman would look after only a specific zone so that in case of his arrest, only information about that zone could be leaked. They also have all been given the same name, at present it is Qari Yousuf Ahmedi.

    This "unschooled" program produced results within weeks as the Taliban gained new ground in Helmand and Urzgan through widespread grassroots support, and Jalaluddin Haqqani's commanders gained prominence. "