“Soft despotism is a term coined by Alexis de Tocqueville describing the state into which a country overrun by "a network of small complicated rules" might degrade. Soft despotism is different from despotism (also called 'hard despotism') in the sense that it is not obvious to the people."

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Michael Yon, The Best Iraq War Journalist (Hat tip: Rufus)

Dispatches From Iraq: Battle for Hearts and Minds
Last Edited: Wednesday, 01 Aug 2007, 2:43 AM EDT
Created: Tuesday, 31 Jul 2007, 3:43 PM EDT
By Michael Yon

07/31/2007 --

The Battle for Baqubah is still underway.

Small TICs [Troops In Contact] continue to occur, but those enemy attacks have had little effect since combat kicked off on June 19. As of July 30, we lost one soldier, while the enemy losses number about 100.

This battle is best measured not in the losses, but the gains.

The people of Baqubah have been demonstrably ecstatic. Other than in the Kurdish areas, I have never seen such overt gratitude from so many Iraqis. Iraqis continue pointing out Al Qaeda operatives and their hidden bombs.

Despite the fact that many Al Qaeda escaped, the success so far is overwhelmingly obvious. The challenge remains to make it stick, but the gains are undeniable and the sense of momentum is palpable.

Before the Battle for Baqubah, (Operation Arrowhead Ripper), thousands of refugees had streamed out of Baqubah and the surrounding towns. I’ve heard Iraqis throw around a number of 17,000 IDPs [Internally Displaced Iraqis], although I have no idea how accurate that is, if at all.

Two weeks after the start of Arrowhead Ripper, 3-2 SBCT was tracking just over a thousand IDPs, and since I shared a tent with the soldiers who did most of the counting (C-52), I put stock in that number and believe it to be roughly accurate. I saw many of the IDPs with my own eyes.

Some of the fleeing families had kept out of the sun by moving inside Baqubah’s electrical plant. The plant had been captured by C-52, a group of 54 soldiers who have fought all over Iraq. I accompanied C-52 on the night of 19 June...

Click here to read the full dispatch from Michael Yon in Iraq, Michael Yon online


  1. Great stuff if true, hope it is true.

  2. The Dems and the drive-by hate this kind of news.

    It really makes ya grin doesn't it?

  3. If only new Congresspeople had to be Iraq Vets.
    (immediate termination term limits)

  4. Steyn is Filling in for Laura Ingraham

  5. Most of the ones that have run, doug, ran as Dems, wanting to change course.

    Most of the veterans in Congress, are Dems, or it is certainly spun that way.

    James Webb vs Dick Cheney
    the anti-war veteran vs chicken hawk is jow it plays out in the "Parties", in te "real world".

    That was the riddle that habu left US over, explaining why the Iraqi vets went so heavily into the Democratic Party.

    Voting their convictions by volunteering for another round of "public service". Though many of them lost, the offer was made.

    Most not in support of the President or his policies and priorities.

  6. Part of the explanation is the hopelessness of GOP "Leadership"
    ...with no conservative agenda in sight.

  7. Just like Tiger says, just what I was thinking before I turned the computor on. But, if the news holds,Hillary will ease over a little to the right stream bank, no trouble there.

  8. Ms Clinton already is making that move, bob.
    Look at her spat with Hussain Obama on the issue of direct Presidental talks with Hugo, Abracadbra and Pol Pot.

    She has always been "for the troops" and was told by DefSec Gates that her concerns about planning for an efficent withdrawal from Iraq were well founded. Trumping the rhetoric of his assistant:
    Under Secretary of Defense Eric Edelman, who told Clinton that “public discussion” of withdrawal is inappropriate:

    Premature and public discussion of the withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq reinforces enemy propaganda that the United States will abandon its allies in Iraq, much as we are perceived to have done in Vietnam, Lebanon and Somalia. … [S]uch talk understandably unnerves the very same Iraqi allies we are asking to assume enormous personal risks.

    Edelman is directly contradicted by Defense Secretary Robert Gates, who testified that debate over Iraq redeployment has been “helpful in bringing pressure to bear on the Maliki government.”

    Mr Endleman was a reccess appointment, his background an interesting backstory. He's one of Mr Cheney's men, at Defense.

    "Edelman is a career foreign service officer who served most recently as U.S. ambassador to Turkey. He was Vice President Dick Cheney's deputy national security officer from Feb. 2001 to June 2003 and ambassador to Finland for three years prior to that, according to the State Department. Edelman was an aide to Cheney when Cheney was secretary of defense under President George H.W. Bush.

    "Edelman received his bachelor's degree from Cornell University in 1972 and a doctorate in diplomatic history from Yale University in 1981. He was born in Baltimore and raised in New York and now lives in Virginia with his and four children, according to congressional testimony."[2]

    Eric S. Edelman left Mr Cheney's office and went to Turkey, as Ambassador in Jun of '03, to "fix it" after those pesty Turks refused the 4th ID transit. He was appointed undersecretary of defense for policy by President George W. Bush in a recess appointment, August 9, 2005.

    So the Turks present gathering of force on the Iraq frontier, and the subsequent plan to use US Special Forces against the Kurds, best spoken of as the "Edelman Plan", or possibily the "Cheney Concoction".

  9. Bob Novak did report that Eric S. Edelman briefed select Congress people on the start up of Special Forces operations with the Turks, against the PKK, in a leadership decapitation scheme.

    For those that have forgot or never knew.

  10. Here's one that may be hard to top.I'm just reading that Obama says he might send troops into Pakistan if he were commander in chief.

  11. Real security concerns in Pakistan, with those 48 nukes that are deployeed, there.

    If there is any case to be made for preemptive action, taking control of those 48 warheads, before Doc Z's cadres had the opportunity to, would qualify.

    More so than "Saddam someday" or even the Mullahs, next year.

    The toughest nut to crack, but the only one of real consequence. While the US Military whittles away at the Iraqi Governments credibility, in Ramadi.

  12. Obama is the guy to grap those 48 nukes:)

  13. Matter of percieved priorities

    How great of a threat is aQ, in its' mountain sanctuary?

    If it is a threat to US and Europe, would not the nuclear weapons on its door step be the greatest prize?
    If Doc Z and the terrorists really are "wild card" players, and not an extention of the Saudi King and his ministers.

    In a country, with nuclear security so lax, that Dr Kahn could sell parts of the program off, on globe trotting jaunts in military aircraft, with no one in the military or government any the wiser.

    Where is the Pakistani reality?

  14. How tied are the Kurdish leaders and plain folk to the PKK?

    How will US running spec ops, in hand with the Turks, to cap Kurdish leaders effect public opinion, in Kurdistan?

  15. Will they pull those
    "Kurdistan thanks you, America"
    spots from the broadcast rotation?

  16. Movin' North for whatever reason.

    The numbers still seem quite low, 10k. Must be that many in the other direction.

  17. Bob

    Have you spent much time in Canada?

    I have...Every time I go, I get the impression they are totally asleep at the wheel. I think it was Jon Stewart who said 9 or 10 good men could go up and take over the whole country.

    Anyway, those in the other direction you refer to, are probably the Americans who moved there and didnt like it.

  18. Obama has been taking notes, as he hits all the highpoints, all the points that have been left unanswered, when ever asked.

    Misjudgement at Tora Bora or part of the poker player's paln?

  19. Which, before I was interrupted, would have led to this:
    We did not finish the job against al Qaeda in Afghanistan. We did not develop new capabilities to defeat a new enemy, or launch a comprehensive strategy to dry up the terrorists' base of support. We did not reaffirm our basic values, or secure our homeland.
    And so, a little more than a year after that bright September day, I was in the streets of Chicago again, this time speaking at a rally in opposition to war in Iraq. I did not oppose all wars, I said. I was a strong supporter of the war in Afghanistan. But I said I could not support "a dumb war, a rash war" in Iraq. I worried about a " U.S. occupation of undetermined length, at undetermined cost, with undetermined consequences" in the heart of the Muslim world. I pleaded that we "finish the fight with bin Ladin and al Qaeda."
    Because of a war in Iraq that should never have been authorized and should never have been waged, we are now less safe than we were before 9/11.

    According to the National Intelligence Estimate, the threat to our homeland from al Qaeda is "persistent and evolving." Iraq is a training ground for terror, torn apart by civil war. Afghanistan is more violent than it has been since 2001. Al Qaeda has a sanctuary in Pakistan. Israel is besieged by emboldened enemies, talking openly of its destruction. Iran is now presenting the broadest strategic challenge to the United States in the Middle East in a generation. Groups affiliated with or inspired by al Qaeda operate worldwide. Six years after 9/11, we are again in the midst of a "summer of threat," with bin Ladin and many more terrorists determined to strike in the United States.
    It is time to turn the page. It is time to write a new chapter in our response to 9/11.

    Just because the President misrepresents our enemies does not mean we do not have them. The terrorists are at war with us. The threat is from violent extremists who are a small minority of the world's 1.3 billion Muslims, but the threat is real. They distort Islam. They kill man, woman and child; Christian and Hindu, Jew and Muslim. They seek to create a repressive caliphate. To defeat this enemy, we must understand who we are fighting against, and what we are fighting for.

    The President would have us believe that every bomb in Baghdad is part of al Qaeda's war against us, not an Iraqi civil war. He elevates al Qaeda in Iraq -- which didn't exist before our invasion -- and overlooks the people who hit us on 9/11, who are training new recruits in Pakistan. He lumps together groups with very different goals: al Qaeda and Iran, Shiite militias and Sunni insurgents. He confuses our mission.

    And worse -- he is fighting the war the terrorists want us to fight. Bin Ladin and his allies know they cannot defeat us on the field of battle or in a genuine battle of ideas. But they can provoke the reaction we've seen in Iraq: a misguided invasion of a Muslim country that sparks new insurgencies, ties down our military, busts our budgets, increases the pool of terrorist recruits, alienates America, gives democracy a bad name, and prompts the American people to question our engagement in the world.

    By refusing to end the war in Iraq, President Bush is giving the terrorists what they really want, and what the Congress voted to give them in 2002: a U.S. occupation of undetermined length, at undetermined cost, with undetermined consequences.

    Every other paragraph, well, those can't be quoted, or the gag factor would set in.

    But half of what he weote, it weaves a reasonable thread.

  20. There is no military solution in Iraq. Only Iraq's leaders can settle the grievances at the heart of Iraq's civil war. We must apply pressure on them to act, and our best leverage is reducing our troop presence. And we must also do the hard and sustained diplomatic work in the region on behalf of peace and stability.

    In ending the war, we must act with more wisdom than we started it. That is why my plan would maintain sufficient forces in the region to target al Qaeda within Iraq. But we must recognize that al Qaeda is not the primary source of violence in Iraq, and has little support -- not from Shia and Kurds who al Qaeda has targeted, or Sunni tribes hostile to foreigners. On the contrary, al Qaeda's appeal within Iraq is enhanced by our troop presence.

    Ending the war will help isolate al Qaeda and give Iraqis the incentive and opportunity to take them out. It will also allow us to direct badly needed resources to Afghanistan. Our troops have fought valiantly there, but Iraq has deprived them of the support they needâ€"and deserve. As a result, parts of Afghanistan are falling into the hands of the Taliban, and a mix of terrorism, drugs, and corruption threatens to overwhelm the country.

    As President, I would deploy at least two additional brigades to Afghanistan to re-enforce our counter-terrorism operations and support NATO's efforts against the Taliban. As we step up our commitment, our European friends must do the same, and without the burdensome restrictions that have hampered NATO's efforts. We must also put more of an Afghan face on security by improving the training and equipping of the Afghan Army and Police, and including Afghan soldiers in U.S. and NATO operations.

    We must not, however, repeat the mistakes of Iraq. The solution in Afghanistan is not just military -- it is political and economic. As President, I would increase our non-military aid by $1 billion. These resources should fund projects at the local level to impact ordinary Afghans, including the development of alternative livelihoods for poppy farmers. And we must seek better performance from the Afghan government, and support that performance through tough anti-corruption safeguards on aid, and increased international support to develop the rule of law across the country.

    Above all, I will send a clear message: we will not repeat the mistake of the past, when we turned our back on Afghanistan following Soviet withdrawal. As 9/11 showed us, the security of Afghanistan and America is shared. And today, that security is most threatened by the al Qaeda and Taliban sanctuary in the tribal regions of northwest Pakistan.

    Al Qaeda terrorists train, travel, and maintain global communications in this safe-haven. The Taliban pursues a hit and run strategy, striking in Afghanistan, then skulking across the border to safety.

    This is the wild frontier of our globalized world. There are wind-swept deserts and cave-dotted mountains. There are tribes that see borders as nothing more than lines on a map, and governments as forces that come and go. There are blood ties deeper than alliances of convenience, and pockets of extremism that follow religion to violence. It's a tough place.

    But that is no excuse. There must be no safe-haven for terrorists who threaten America. We cannot fail to act because action is hard.

  21. Once he quits talking about the past, and concentrates on the future, no editing required, quite reasonable rhetoric, comparable to Bush '02, actually.

    I will not hesitate to use military force to take out terrorists who pose a direct threat to America. This requires a broader set of capabilities, as outlined in the Army and Marine Corps's new counter-insurgency manual. I will ensure that our military becomes more stealth, agile, and lethal in its ability to capture or kill terrorists. We need to recruit, train, and equip our armed forces to better target terrorists, and to help foreign militaries to do the same. This must include a program to bolster our ability to speak different languages, understand different cultures, and coordinate complex missions with our civilian agencies.

    To succeed, we must improve our civilian capacity. The finest military in the world is adapting to the challenges of the 21st century. But it cannot counter insurgent and terrorist threats without civilian counterparts who can carry out economic and political reconstruction missions -- sometimes in dangerous places. As President, I will strengthen these civilian capacities, recruiting our best and brightest to take on this challenge. I will increase both the numbers and capabilities of our diplomats, development experts, and other civilians who can work alongside our military. We can't just say there is no military solution to these problems. We need to integrate all aspects of American might.

  22. Obama doesn't get it.

    Henry Crumpton, as quoted by Ignatius ("Sept. 10 in Waziristan") in yesterday's WaPo, does get it.

    Someone should be listening.

  23. Crumpton argues that the United States must take preventive action, but that it should do so carefully, through proxies wherever possible. The right model for a Waziristan campaign is the CIA-led operation in Afghanistan, not the U.S. military invasion of Iraq. Teams of CIA officers and Special Forces soldiers are best suited to work with tribal leaders, providing them weapons and money to fight an al-Qaeda network that has implanted itself brutally in Waziristan through the assassination of more than 100 tribal leaders during the past 6 years. It would be better to conduct such operations jointly with Pakistan, but if the government of Gen. Pervez Musharraf can't or won't cooperate, then the U.S. should be prepared to go it alone, Crumpton argues.

    "The United States has an obligation to defend itself and its citizens," says Crumpton. "We either do it now, or we do it after the next attack."

    Crumpton proposed a detailed plan last year for rolling up these sanctuaries, which he called the "Regional Strategic Initiative." It would combine economic assistance and paramilitary operations in a broad counterinsurgency campaign. In Waziristan, U.S. and Pakistani operatives would give tribal warlords guns and money, to be sure, but they would coordinate this covert action with economic aid to help tribal leaders operate their local stone quarries more efficiently, say, or install windmills and solar panels to generate electric power for their remote mountain villages.

    Intervening in another Muslim country is risky, to put it mildly. That's why a successful counterinsurgency program would need Pakistani support, and why its economic and social development components would be critical. The concept should be President Kennedy's "Alliance for Progress" to counter radicalism in Latin America, rather than "Operation Iraqi Freedom."

    If we are sending the Teams into Kurdistan to hunt the PKK, may as well go into Pakistan, too.

    Something, as opposed to the Course taken. An understanding that the status que is not acceptable, more unacceptable than Iranian centerfuges.

    Should have pusuited 'em into their graves, already. Should killed 'em at Tora Bora, for that matter. Instead we get to hear about:
    Turning a Page

  24. Just reporting on the reporters.

    CNN Reporter Michael Ware, (I believe that's his name, the one with the bashed nose.) was last night talking the DR line about how arming the Sunnis and making deals with the Anbar sheiks was undermining the al-Maliki govt. and was just a sham which would enable us to pull out leaving the Iraqis to the much anticipated bloodbath.

  25. So the Turks present gathering of force on the Iraq frontier, and the subsequent plan to use US Special Forces against the Kurds, best spoken of as the "Edelman Plan", or possibily the "Cheney Concoction".

    - DR

    Look, someone's gotta brief it. I guess he wasn't pulled entirely off briefing detail after the Hillary letter.

    I think it was Lindsay Graham who mentioned the "beleaguered Kurds." My rule of thumb is that you never sign the adoption papers for any ethnic group that's got "beleaguered" appended to it. (Ethnic Albanians? Iraqi Shiia?) Resist the temptation at all costs to be sucked in by a problem child.

    The PKK is to the Greater Kurdistan movement as the IRA was to Sinn Fein, with the added interest of the PKK posing a threat to the Turkish government. It behooves us to assist in taking care of the PKK.

    "Taking care."

    Too many Congressmen have been sold on a notion of "the warm and fuzzy Kurds." By "the warm and fuzzy Kurds."

  26. "Should have pusuited 'em into their graves, already."

    Shoulda, but didn't.

    We're certainly not lacking for guys who would sell their own mothers to have a piece of something along Crumpton's lines.

    And he knows that.

  27. Some of you might recall a couple of paragraphs I put up some months ago about a real bad shooting by a deranged man at a court house near here. It was the first time anything like that has happened here in our entire history that I know of. I mentioned I thought our cock eyed city council, who may not be around after this November, would use this incident to try to ban guns. Sure enough, the mayor of Moscow, Ms. Cheney, was quoted in the paper today, from 'an undisclosed vacation resort on the Oregon coast' as saying a letter is going out to the Idaho Attorney General seeking information on the feasibility of banning guns 'on city property'--which I assume would include the streets too--here. This should be interesting.

    With one of the hot dogs at the Law School just saying people are people and borders don't count, it is not long before we are a sanctuary city.

    Not one of these doofushes was actually born here, and I doubt pays much in taxes, and I can't vote, living outside the city. Great:(

    One deranged man in a 150 years or so, and that's it, according to Ms. Cheney. And anyone can come here, invited or not.

  28. Machetes allowed. No background checks required.

  29. O/T (sorry,) but Breaking:

    Minneapolis bridge down! Looks, "Blown," to me.

  30. It dropped in sections, cut at the abutment. Where the truck was on fire.

    Be interesting to learn more about it.

  31. geee Rufus, do you think we should bomb Iran tonight or tomorrow now that the "bridge has been "blown""?

  32. Just so you'll know, asshole, I'd just as soon bomb Canada.

  33. "We continue to monitor the situation. At this time, there is no indication of a nexus to terrorism.", said Russ Knocke, spokesman for the Department of Homeland Security.

    That's what we pay them the big bucks for, to use words like 'nexus.'

    I don't have any idea what happened. I think out here, where we have had a lot of fires this summer, there is not, at least not yet, any 'nexus to terrorism.' Just Mother Nature doing her lightning thing, and a few stupid tourists.

    Ruf, if you bomb Canada, be selective:)

  34. The bridge seems to have been built in 1967. That's not a very old bridge, as bridges go, is it? I haven't collapsed of my own weight yet, and I'm older than that. Odd.

  35. Here is one key passage:

    We are finally getting somewhere in Iraq, at least in military terms. As two analysts who have harshly criticized the Bush administration's miserable handling of Iraq, we were surprised by the gains we saw and the potential to produce not necessarily "victory" but a sustainable stability that both we and the Iraqis could live with.

    Their conclusion:

    How much longer should American troops keep fighting and dying to build a new Iraq while Iraqi leaders fail to do their part? And how much longer can we wear down our forces in this mission?

    These haunting questions underscore the reality that the surge cannot go on forever. But there is enough good happening on the battlefields of Iraq today that Congress should plan on sustaining the effort at least into 2008.

    Surge Working?

  36. "My rule of thumb is that you never sign the adoption papers for any ethnic group that's got "beleaguered" appended to it. (Ethnic Albanians? Iraqi Shiia?) Resist the temptation at all costs to be sucked in by a problem child."

    I'll definitely be quoting that one to people sometime in the future.

  37. Later a separate bomb saw at least 50 people killed after a fuel tanker exploded near a petrol station in the mostly-Sunni Mansour district.

    The deaths come as an official count puts the number of civilian deaths in Iraq in July at more than 1,600; an increase on June's total and also in excess of the deaths recorded in February before the US army's much-publicised security crackdown began in Baghdad.

    The US army itself said that three of its soldiers had died today, while the Ministry of Defence also revealed that a British soldier had been killed in Basra, southern Iraq.

    Political Crisis

  38. I don't know squat about Parliamentary government. Does this Sunni withdrawal bring down the Government?

  39. I wouldn't think it would Rufus, they are in the minority anyways. Isn't it about 60/20/20?
    But then I'm not sure. Nite.

  40. Nite, Oh, and ring the old bugger, Elton, and tell him it doesn't matter; he's toast whether there's an internet, or not.

    Time for the old fag to start scoping out trailers in Florida.

  41. "How much longer should American troops keep fighting and dying to build a new Iraq while Iraqi leaders fail to do their part?"

    Til September.

    "And how much longer can we wear down our forces in this mission?"

    Til April.