“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, April 03, 2008

Iraq - SNAFU

AP is reporting that al-Maliki
...pledged Thursday to expand his crackdown on Shiite militias to Baghdad, despite a mixed performance so far against militants in the southern city of Basra.

The U.S. ambassador, meanwhile, said that despite a "boatload" of problems with the Basra operation, he was encouraged that the Shiite-led government was finally confronting extremists regardless of their religious affiliation.
Does anyone really know what is going on in Iraq? Sure, Basra is a mess with various thugocracies competing for control of not only Shia souls but more particularly 80% of Iraq's oil wealth which comes from the southern provinces.
U.S. Ambassador Ryan Crocker, who will appear before Congress on Tuesday with top commander Gen. David Petraeus, said he was surprised at the way the Basra campaign unfolded.

"I had the understanding that this was going to be an effort to get down, show they were serious with additional forces, put the squeeze on, develop a full picture of conditions and then act accordingly," he told reporters Thursday. "I was not expecting, frankly, a major battle from Day One."

Still, Crocker said he was encouraged that the Iraqi government was willing to take on Shiite militias, some of which maintain close ties to major political parties in the national leadership.

"Were there problems? There were a boatload of problems, and they still have a long way to go," Crocker added.

The cleric has also called on Shiites to converge on the holy city of Najaf next Wednesday — the fifth anniversary of the U.S. capture of Baghdad — to protest the American military presence in Iraq. Al-Sadr urged for a "million-strong" turnout.
Another million man march...We'll see.


  1. Maliki has to maintain the Operations tempo, or he'll not be able to cancell the provencial elections.

    That could be one of the Goals.

  2. Someone on another page made the point that over 5 years the government/US has taken down or bought off or greatly reduced the Saddam government, alQueda-iraq, and the Sunnis, leaving only the Shia militias, so progress has been made, looked at that way.

  3. Progress towards what remains the question.

    Permanent basing-
    A Long term - low intensity conflict

    Or an Iraq from which the US can depart, as promised.

  4. With the constant talk from Sens. Clinton and Obama about how Iraq has "failed," one must ask, Why at this point, with Iraq's post-Saddam government forming, would one want to ask the American people to ratify, with a vote, that a commitment by their men under arms had failed? This means the military too has failed, not just George Bush.

    Rather than leaping on "failure," as with Basra, why can't one of these candidates or party leaders find examples of nobility, accomplishment or martial courage in what the troops have done in Iraq?

    Because the martial ethos rubs this generation of the party the wrong way. Not all, but many.

    Hearts and Minds, Again

  5. Another Clinton fundraiser has a suspect past
    By Greg Gordon and Will Connors McClatchy Newspapers

    HOUSTON — A Texas oilman who's accused of defrauding the Nigerian government by illegally pumping and exporting 10 million barrels of oil is a major fundraiser for Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign.

    Kase Lawal of Houston is at least the fourth person accused or convicted of criminal wrongdoing to help finance Clinton's political ambitions since 2000 and the second in her quest for the White House. The list also includes Chinese and Pakistani fugitives and a former Miami lawyer who was convicted of defrauding Cuba.

    There's no indication that Clinton's campaign was aware of Lawal's legal problems when it accepted his help in raising more than $100,000, but a McClatchy investigation in the U.S. and Nigeria suggests that her campaign did little to scrutinize the background of one of its top fundraisers.

    Jay Carson, a campaign spokesman, brushed off such criticism.

    "While no vetting process is perfect, our vetting department does extensive vetting in order to catch any issues with donors," he said. "And to our knowledge, Mr. Lawal is an upstanding member of his community in Houston."

    However, a simple Google search by McClatchy produced reports of serious allegations about some of Lawal's business dealings in Nigeria and South Africa.

  6. This comment has been removed by the author.

  7. The military did not fail US, sam, the US policy has failed them.

    The initial policies of Team43, failed miserably. As admitted to by Mr Bush, though not termed as harshly.

    But if the Goal is Iraqi independence and not as a US proxy but an independent State.
    As oft stated by Mr Bush.

    The Battle of Basra is being spun as all things, to all people, both here and there, everywhere.

    What is the real goal, to stay or go?

  8. After annoying Pakistan, upsetting Mexico, and angering Canada, Obama managed to offend another two allies Wednesday, insulting both Colombia and South Korea, whose only crime is wanting to buy U.S. goods minus tariffs — otherwise known as free trade. But for Obama, playing to the peanut gallery in Pennsylvania, it was an insidious evil he said he would try to halt.

    He accused old trading partners like Korea of being "bad" for the U.S. and hard-striving Colombia of making "a mockery of labor protections." Neither of those statements is true.

    But Obama's palaver reached Bogota, where Colombia's President Uribe — known as the Nelson Mandela of his country for liberating it from terrorists and drug lords — retorted that Obama didn't seem to know a thing about how Colombia has revitalized its war-battered democracy. Uribe "deplored" Obama's "political calculations" and called on Colombians to stand up for the truth about the "realities" of the country, whose 43 million people need free trade.

    The rest at IBD

  9. But Obama has scored two big endorsements this week, from former Indiana lawmakers who served on the 9/11 Commission. He has won the backing of ex-Rep. Tim Roemer, and former House Foreigh Affairs Committee chairman Lee Hamilton.

    How divided are the Democrats?

    Ethel Kennedy, RFK's widow, will campaign for Obama in South Bend later this week. But two of her own children, Robert Kennedy, Jr., and Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, are backing Clinton.

    Neck and Neck

  10. Sam: Ethel Kennedy, RFK's widow, will campaign for Obama in South Bend later this week. But two of her own children, Robert Kennedy, Jr., and Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, are backing Clinton.

    That's the difference, people go out and campaign for Obama, but they only "back" Clinton. Hell, I "back" the Seattle Mariners.

  11. The goal is an Iraq that causes us and no one else any trouble, and pumps the oil, hopeflly provides some basing and is western friendly, if it's sorta free that's a feather in the cap.

  12. Rotational Illusion Betcha can't make them all stop turning. From my daughter.

  13. I used to back the Seattle Pilots:)

    The Seattle Pilots' 1969 season involved the Pilots' finishing 6th in the American League West with a record of 64 wins and 98 losses, 33 games behind the Minnesota Twins. The team would spend only one season in Seattle, as the franchise would move to Milwaukee the following season.

  14. There is every reason to believe that the opinions expressed by Methodist church leadership are not shared by the average church member. A survey taken at the height of the PCUSA's divestment movement confirmed that 61 percent of Presbyterians did not even know about their denomination's decision to divest.

    That's my experience with the Lutherans, too. Got to watch 'em like a hawk, those activists.

    Methodists Make Lame Effort To Be Relevant, Joining Lutherans and Others

  15. "The hypocrisy is that Hewitt was willing to overlook Romney's non-disavowal of the Mormon Church for their racism, but ignores Obama's disavowal of Jeremiah Wright's racisim. Both men remained members of their respective churches, but to Hugh Hewitt, only Romney gets off the hook for not walking. Obama needs to account for his failure to walk."

    Being that I've yet to see any quotes from Hewitt himself, I can't judge what he has said. Nevertheless, while I personally don't give a shit about the Mormon church or Mitt Romney, I'm still not buying the stated equivalency of their positions.

    If racism had been the core of the Mormon Church, I'd be more sympathetic to equivalency. The fact they got rid of it shows it wasn't.

    There is also the issue that there was nothing, I'm aware of, in Romney's history to suggest he was in any way personally tainted by it. In fact, he came out of a family that has a history of fighting for civil rights during a time when it wasn't necessarily popular.

    The other guy wrote an entire book describing how central race is to his identity and actively sought out a church whose key focus is molding racialism onto marxism. Good luck getting race out of that. BLT sees "whiteness" like Nazi ideologists saw "jewishness."

    The speech itself was a pathetic dodge, shifting his own personal issues onto everyone else. Unfortunately, much of the modern "civil rights movement" in a nut shell: "I'm hung up on race, so everyone else must be. So let's have a long talk that results in you agreeing with me." Repeat ad nausem.

  16. Oh, I forgot the most important part.

    "And if you don't agree with me, you're a racist and part of the problem. Unlike me, who just can't stop obsessing about the subject."

  17. Coyotl said...
    Evanston2 wrote:

    With respect to comments by Coyotl, the Iraqi Shia are still Iraqi. Coyotl notes that many Shia groups fought on Iran's side in the Iran/Iraq war. By that measure, Ayatollah Khomeini was Iraqi since he holed up in Iraq in the 1970s before the Islamic Revolution.

    A silly conflation, E2. You miss the fact that SCIRI and Dawa were founded as KHOMENEIST parties. They fought on the side of Iran during the Iran-Iraq War, and if Nahncee wants to recall the bitter emnity between the two countries for that bloodbath, then she should acknowledge the hard feelings within Iraq against SCIRI and Dawa for fighting against their fellow Iraqis. That's what Sadr used to capitalize on when he denounced his Shiite Islamist rivals as "Iranians".

    Nouri al-Maliki is a jihadist trained in Iran. Fact. He used to run Dawa's Jihad office in Damascus during part of the 80s. Wretchard and all the other BCers who actually support him are betting that he's changed his stripes, and I've a former KGB officer in Russia whose soul they can read with similar naive results. (That's a Putin, reference, Nance.)

    The Shiite uprising in '91 was a Khomeneist uprising led by SCIRI and Dawa as they crossed the border from Iran and "liberated" Southern cities and towns from the shell-shocked Baathist troops. And with "liberation" came the imposition of Sharia, the mandate of the abaya and the mounting of Khomenei posters. When the CIA reported this to Bush I, he and his advisors made the hard choice not to let Iraq fall into Shiite Islamist hands. Ironic, no?

    So who here really has faith in the good intentions, the pro-American ideology of Dawa and SCIRI? Let's put opinions on the record.

  18. Coyotl said...
    The NYTimes is claiming (via a convienently unnamed "Iraqi military official) that over a 1,000 Iraqi soldiers and policemen deserted in the Basra battle. I don't trust the Grey Lady worth a damn, so I was wondering if anyone can find a tanscript of Maliki saying the following from a more reputable source:

    Mr. Maliki, who personally directed the Basra operation, which both American and Iraqi officials have criticized as poorly planned and executed, acknowledged the desertions without giving a specific number in public statements on Thursday.

    “Everyone who was not on the side of the security forces will go into the military courts,” Mr. Maliki said in a news briefing in the Green Zone. “Joining the army or police is not a trip or a picnic, there is something that they have to pay back to commit to the interests of the state and not the party or the sect.”

    “They swore on the Koran that they would not support their sect or their party, but they were lying,” he said.

    The news conference was in the green zone, and there should be a transcript or other media source somewhere.

    UPDATE: I just heard the same snippet from a BBC world news briefing. Some guy named Crispin Thorold, or something. He's claiming that Maliki is acknowledging the mass desertions. Interesting, if true.

  19. The U.S. military confirmed the Mosul attack but put the casualty toll at five dead and 19 wounded.

    In Baghdad, one civilian was killed and 10 were wounded in a parked car bombing, while an Iraqi soldier was killed and three were wounded when a roadside bomb struck their patrol.

    Three Iraqi civilians also were wounded in a U.S. airstrike targeting militants engaged in a gunbattle with U.S. ground forces near the southern Shiite city of Hillah, according to a military statement.

    Crackdown on Militias

  20. Coyotl expands with details Kevin's argument:
    Wretch acknowledged to Kevin that these folks have history's.
    Can Khommenist's be reborn like Evangelicals?

  21. The muzzies have the koran straight from allah, the Mormons the Golden Plates and Joe Smith, but a difference is, the Mormons have an understanding they got to get along in the larger society, and so the President can always go into seclusion and emerge with a new understanding which becomes controlling for the group. This is a big exciting event when it hapens. So when polygamy becomes over whelmingly rejected by the surrounding society, which they don't want to war with, an accomodation is made. Same with race. Not the worst system in the world when you think about it. Though one might wonder if there is any point where no accomodation is to made. Probably is, somewhere.

  22. A few findings in the report:

    * Marriage is the norm. 4 in 5 adults (78%) have been married at least once, a slightly larger percentage of born-again Christians (84%) have been married.
    * Divorce is widespread. In the study one-third of the people who have been married went through at least one divorce.
    * Some segments are below average. These segments include Catholics (28%), evangelicals (26%), and Asians (20%).

    Divorce in the Church

  23. “They swore on the Koran that they would not support their sect or their party, but they were lying,” he said.

    So much for swearing on the koran.

  24. Efforts by the Pentagon to undermine Al Qaeda have intensified in recent months in Iraq, said military officials in Baghdad, including using imams to meet with American-held detainees for religious talks before they are released and publicizing militants who disavow their violent ways.

    In his video last fall, Mr. Libi sought to brace Al Qaeda’s adherents for tactics like this, which he said would fail. The retractions of captured militants would be particularly ineffective, given their prisoner status, he argued.

    “Tell me,” Mr. Libi said, “what do you expect from someone who sees the sword above him, the rug in front of him and the sheik dictating to him the proof and evidence for the obligation of obeying the ruler?”

    Al Qaeda's War

  25. Top 2,000 companies in the world:

    1. HSBC Holdings
    2. General Electric
    3. Bank of America


  26. Spain should think about importing Mexicans, they're Catholic and speak the language--

    (ANSAmed) - MADRID, APRIL 3 - Spain needs over two million new foreign workers, 157,000 a year, until 2020, according to a study by the Group for Reflection and Proposal on Business and Immigration quoted by ABC daily today. According to the report, the main cause for this need is the ageing of the Spanish population, with a proportion of young people that has decreased twice in the past 25 years and the local universities loosing over 300,000 students until 2015. The percentage of foreign workers, who generate nearly half of the Spanish GDP growth, will grow from the current 20-25% to 35% of the Spanish workforce in 2010. The authors of the report said they would meet the various political parties to try and convince them that the arrival of foreign workers is "an opportunity for the economy" and will call upon the government to adopt a new law on immigration "to facilitate the legal entry, take advantage of the new arrivals and encourage integration". (ANSAmed).
    2008-04-03 19:27

  27. Are Asians the World's largest religion?

  28. We should help Spain out by giving them all our undocumented residents.