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

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Will Syria make it to the Party?

Here we go again. The fools are everywhere.

The question on everyone's mind is "Will the Syrians be in Annapolis for the big peace conference?"

Condi wants them there, Ehud wants them there and the Syrians themselves want to be there, but only if the Golan Heights are "on the agenda."

The Syrians are taking pains to portray themselves as westernized and secular. They say that they "drink liquor and mix with women" just as we do. They ask, "Do we look like terrorists?" They say, "Yes, we are Arab Muslims but also Mediterranean and we have always looked to the west."

Yes, they are a very reasonable, peace-loving and misunderstood people. To listen to them, one could almost forget the assassinations that have occurred in Lebanon. The war between Hezbollah and Israel seems to be all but forgotten. The Syrians say that they only want peace and are ready to live side by side with Israel. It is Israel, they say, that wants no part of peace. They say the Jews "inexplicably bombed a vacant building in the desert" and offer this as proof of Israel's aggressiveness.

There's an old saying in the middle-east, that there is no war without Egypt and no peace without Syria. Egypt has made peace with Israel but for all their "reasonableness," the Syrians have repeatedly said in the past few days that there will be no peace until Israel gives back the Golan Heights.

James Baker says that the Syrians can be "flipped." That is, with a little effort, some strategic land and a lot of money, we can turn them away from Iran and the "axis of evil" and bring them back into the world of corrupted respectability. All we have to do is give back the Golan Heights, pour millions and millions into their rat holes, forgive all their transgressions and kiss their "westernized, secular" posteriors. In other words, capitulate to blackmail, murder, mayhem and terror. That sounds like a good plan. Give them everything they want on a hope and a prayer that there will be "peace for our time."


  1. It may be 'peace for our time' but not 'peace for all time', no way. I think the Israelis have had a fit, a temporary seizure of some kind, I'd hope that religious wing group would leave the government and it would collapse. But maybe it will all end up being for show.

  2. Ron Paul-..."
    We need to return to reality when it comes to our Middle East policy. We need to reject the increasingly shrill rhetoric coming from the same voices who urged the president to invade Iraq.

    The truth is that Iran, like Iraq, is a third-world nation without a significant military. Nothing in history hints that she is likely to invade a neighboring country, let alone America or Israel. I am concerned, however, that a contrived Gulf of Tonkin-type incident may occur to gain popular support for an attack on Iran.

    The best approach to Iran, and Syria for that matter, is to heed the advice of the Iraq Study Group Report, which states:

    "… the United States should engage directly with Iran and Syria in order to try to obtain their commitment to constructive policies toward Iraq and other regional issues. In engaging with Syria and Iran, the United States should consider incentives, as well as disincentives, in seeking constructive results."

    In coming weeks I plan to introduce legislation that urges the administration to heed the advice of the Iraq Study Group. Dialogue and discussion should replace inflammatory rhetoric and confrontation in our Middle East policy, if we truly seek to defeat violent extremism and terrorism."

    January 15, 2007

  3. Let'em stay home. I never much liked the Lebanese, anyway.

    We can do it like we did the Syrian reactor. Have Israel fly a few planes over Iran, and we send in the B-2's, and F-22's to do the nasty work at Narants (or, whatever the name of that place is.)

    Do I really believe we did that? Of course not; but, it makes a nice story, eh.

  4. "peace [in] our time"

    Can't go to that well too many times, can you?

  5. Kucinich and Pelosi have already engaged the Syrians. We should rely on their expertise.

    More seriously, when we negotiate a treaty, the Senate has to ratify it. How's it work in Israel? Can a man with 10% approval negotiate a treaty and make it stick? Where does the Knesset come in on this type deal? Do they have to ok it? Or is it up to the government, as long as the government doesn't fall?

  6. If the story ended there, rufus, yeah it'd be fine.
    But unlike a good book, there is another page to turn, in real life.

    We just can't, or won't, fade to black.

  7. The Information Age, in as much as it uses representations of information - such as text, images, sounds etc - embraces the tools of entertainment production as new sources of power.

    Think of the rationale of the PR industry. All they wanted to do was sell you stuff.

    Now consider the capabilities to create shame and fear, as well as the promise of "peace." Political rhetoric surrounds us thats set to the tone of Syriana's dialogue. Wars may not be measured in body counts any more; no, instead they will be measured by the images of soldiers raping and murdering innocents. How much of that can a population sustain? I think one does not understand the media age if he/she thinks its a realistic option to simply tune it out. There are no information equivalents to the London Subway.

    There are consumer rights groups that protect us against the PR groups. Many people were caught off guard recently without affiliation to cultural rights groups. Think of the rise in supremacist movements (white, hispanic & islamic), necessary bulwarks in a yet more mixed up crazy world.

    Granted, they are not new tricks, but boy oh boy has the trade matured.

  8. Wiki:

    At age 98, [George F. Kennan] warned of the unforeseen consequences of waging war against Iraq. He warned that launching an attack on Iraq would amount to waging a second war that "bears no relation to the first war against terrorism" and declared efforts by the Bush administration to link al Qaeda with Saddam Hussein "pathetically unsupportive and unreliable." Kennan went on to warn:
    “Anyone who has ever studied the history of American diplomacy, especially military diplomacy, knows that you might start in a war with certain things on your mind as a purpose of what you are doing, but in the end, you found yourself fighting for entirely different things that you had never thought of before... In other words, war has a momentum of its own and it carries you away from all thoughtful intentions when you get into it. Today, if we went into Iraq, like the president would like us to do, you know where you begin. You never know where you are going to end.[37]”

    You are going to end with *yet more* Hitler analogies, and no sense of embarrassment thereof.

  9. Here it is-pg C14 WSJ

    "Why $100 Oil Can't Float"

    With oil flirting with $100/barrel, there seems to be no stopping the dizzying ascent of black seems old fashioned to talk of supply and demand....the price is too high to be sustained....10 reasons why.

    1) Supply above ground is abundant. The amount of oil in storage tanks around the world is at an all time high...

    2) Supply below ground is abundant. The world's proven reserves are now at 1.4 trillion barrels up 12% in the past 10 years according to BP.

    3) Production is set to increase. Sustained high prices have encouraged drilling....

    4) The cost of production is much less than $100/barrel. Royal Dutch Shell's lifting costs were $9/barrel in 2006

    5) Iranian exports aren't likely to be cut. The United States is in practice unlikely to take military action against an adversary three times the size of Iraq. And with oil exports accounting for 50% of Iran's gross domestic product and 90% of it hard currency earnings a self imposed cut in exports would be self destructive. In any event the world has the equivalent of three years of Iranian production in storage....

    6) High prices are pulling back demand.

    7) High prices are forcing governments to cut subsidies. Iran is rationaing gasoline and last week China ordered a 10% increase in oil product prices. That should curb the growth in demand.

    8) Energy from oil is looking expensive compared with energy from gas. Oil by the barrel is usually traded at six to ten times the price of natural gas. It is now 13 times.

    9) The weak dollar is a poor excuse for high oil prices. Since Aug. 22, the dollar is down 8% while the oil price has risen by 40%

    10) Speculation is artificially boosting prices....the net volume of open crude oil contracts is up 50% since August.

    There you have it folks.

  10. Tune it out?

    Who could seriously do that, and be a contender, even in the Bar.

    Many claim to have a disdain of tv, but are on it's inter-active cousin, watching You-Tube and Google videos.

    In the Old days, they studied Rhetoric, it was a science, a subject to be dissected.
    Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain, the Hero of Little Round Top was a professor of Rhetoric.

    the Alderman reminds us that media use various forms of representations ...

    while Francis Bacon (1561-1626)tells us in the
    Advancement of Learning

    The duty and office of rhetoric is to apply reason to imagination for the better moving of the will

    And for an even more of a classical perspective of rhetoric Aristotle said
    Rhetoric is "the faculty of discovering in any particular case all of the available means of persuasion.

    Which includes, all the electronic methods of communication, but to even use the word "Rhetoric" brings hoots of scorn from some of our contributors.

    While it's lack of study, communication through representation, in the face of an intellectual enemy, in a post-modern culture where SWAT Police Operations are considered military combat ...

    Study the Sauds, they say little, themselves. But their proxies ...

    Listen to Ms Rice & Mr Olmert.

    Sacrifices must, will, be made.

  11. Thanks for that citation, bobal. Very interesting. I've never been a doom and gloomer about anything.

  12. Or it could be said rhetoric is the application of imagination to reason for the better moving of the will. Reason being, as the poets say, the shabby clothing of mere school boys. The will having no reason to move without the impelling piston of the imagination!

    Or the application of imagination to reason for the better moving of the masses.

  13. I don't know if I believe a word of it, Ms. T.

  14. That doesn't look resource security-related, rufus.

  15. a solution in our time...

    time to introduce the stone age to iran & syria as an object lesson to arabia and pakistan

    i am sorry, i do not see any other way around this issue..

    war is coming, i see it clear...

    shall we sing kumbaya and say "gee wiz" and "golly gee" as the islamic/arab/naserist nitwits try to destroy us, israel or lebanon?

    if we (the usa) does not step on syria and iran now, it will only get bloodier....

    if we allow israel to do it, we could see israel using nukes to protect it'sself from an all out war from all sides.

    so the choice is we do it and take it on the chin, or allow israel to do it and it could spiral out of control

  16. The Wall Street Journal has some of the worst reporting on the planet. They've never written an article that I knew anything about that was even remotely accurate.

    A few years back we had twelve oil fields that were producing a million barrels/day. Today, we have four, and Cantarell will drop out pretty quickly. It went down 26% last year.

    Today there are five hundred and sixty some-odd Giants. The Peak year for discovery of Giants was 1972 I believe. Dry land Giants go into decline somewhere between age 25 and forty usually. Offshore Giants go into decline much quicker. 5 of the 6 Saudi Giants are flat, or declining, and everyone is suspicious of Ghawar.

    We're finding about One Giant a year, now.

    Look, I could go on, and on, but the bottom line is we peaked in crude production in June, I think it was, of 05'. You add up the consumption, and subtract the Production and you get a difference of about 1.8 million barrels/day.

    No one can point to where much more crude is coming from Next Year, or the two (or twenty) years after that. But, China, and India are growing like weeds. About 10%/year between the two.

    We have about 250 working offshore rigs, and they have an average age of 20 some-odd years (well past their expiry date.) Nobody much is finding squat.

    The "Jig is Up." Believe me, or believe the WSJ. Pick wisely.

  17. As for lifting costs: Ask Norway what it costs to spend two years drilling a "Sure Thing" in the North Sea and hitting a "Dry Hole," as they just finished doing.

    5 of the 6 largest oil companies saw production "Decrease" last year. The North Sea is falling rapidly. Cantarell has fallen off a cliff. The Gulf of Mexico peaked in 02'.

    Iran? It used to produce Six Million Barrels/Day; now, it produces a little over Three. Venezuela used to produce a little over 3.2; now, it's 2.2. Alaska peaked several years, ago. Our Crude production is now about 5 mbpd. That means we're importing about 13. Russia's flat. Saudi is flat. Kuwait is struggling to rremain flat.

  18. China used to "export;" now they're "Importing." Indonesia's production is Falling. Now, they're importing. Even the U.K. is starting to Import.

    With production falling off a cliff, when does Mexico put a "Cap" on exports? Getting oil out of "tar sands," and "shale" is a Nightmare. Goddawful expensive, energy intensive, and an ecological disaster. We're probably getting about all out of the Canadian tar sands as we're going to get. Shale? Fuggedaboutit.

    Think Ethanol. It's where we're going. PDQ.

  19. Benazir to stay at Home for awhile. Reportedly under 'house arrest'.

  20. Krauthammer on Pakistan. Says we ought to ease Musharraf out. Easy.

  21. I don't know Bob, it takes a real leap of faith to think that all those lawyers in nice suits and Ms. Bhutto are going to be able to march into the valley of the Orc and not get Allah Orc Barred..

  22. Krauthammer:

    "President Pervez Musharraf was a good bet in 2001 when, under extreme pressure from the Bush administration, he flipped and joined our war against the Taliban and al-Qaeda."

    Krauthammer needs a history lesson.