“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."

Monday, April 21, 2008

Pakistan Gives US a Sharp Stick to the Eye.

Will he be missed?

The TNSM is a militant Wahabi outfit whose primary objective is the imposition of Sharia in Pakistan.

Ideologically, it is dedicated to transform Pakistan into a Taliban style state.

In an August 1998-speech in Peshawar, Maulana Sufi Mohammed, its leader, reportedly declared that those opposing the imposition of Sharia in Pakistan were wajib-ul-qatl (worthy of death). He is reported to have organised thousands of people to fight the Northern Alliance (NA) in Afghanistan after the defeat of the Taliban in 2001, after 911.

A majority of them were either killed or arrested by the Northeren Alliance in Afghanistan. Sufi Mohammed, managed to get his sorry ass back to Pakistan, where he was arrested by the awful Musharref.

Well after a recent commitment of seven or eight billion in US aid, our good friends the Pakis gave Sufi Muhammed a get out of jail pass. How nice.


Pakistanis free Islamist who fought U.S.

By Ismail Khan and Carlotta Gall Published: April 21, 2008

The new provincial government here released the leader of a banned Islamist movement from prison Monday after he agreed to denounce violence and work to bring peace to the area.

The released prisoner, Maulana Sufi Muhammad, is the leader of a radical movement, the Tehreek Nifaz-e-Shariat Mohammadi, or TNSM, which has fought the government for nearly 20 years in a campaign to establish Koranic law in the Malakand district north of Peshawar. He was detained six years ago, along with some of his followers, on his return from Afghanistan after leading hundreds of men there to fight against United States forces in November 2001.

Muhammad's son-in-law, Maulana Fazlullah, took up the leadership of the movement during his detention and led an armed uprising in the tourist valley of Swat last fall. The army routed the militants over the winter, but they remain in the mountains and still oppose the government.

The agreement, which was signed on Monday at the house of the province's chief minister, appears to be an attempt to pacify the region through negotiation. That was one of the main election promises of the Awami National Party, which is leading the coalition government in the North-West Frontier Province.

Under the agreement, Muhammad and seven other radical leaders agreed that the TNSM would respect the government and state institutions, "so that peace and the writ of the state is restored in Malakand region," according to the text of the agreement.

The TNSM acknowledged that army and police personnel and government officials were their Muslim brothers and that any violence against them was contrary to Islam and Shariah, its legal code. According to the agreement, the movement pledged to use only peaceful means in pursuing its aim of establishing Shariah.

"The government has taken the right decision and it will help in restoration of durable peace in the region," Muhammad told journalists after his release. He added that disputes should be resolved through dialogue rather than force.

Four members of the provincial government signed the agreement, withdrew all pending cases against Muhammad and commuted what remains of his 10-year prison sentence. His organization, formed in 1989, was banned in 2002 when he was convicted.

The chief minister, Amir Haider Khan Hoti, said that the TNSM had pledged to forbid participation in militant activity by any of its members, and to work toward restoring peace to the troubled region. "We have full agreement that issues cannot be resolved through the use of force," Hoti said.

Ismail Khan reported from Peshawar and Carlotta Gall from Kabul, Afghanistan.


  1. 2164th: Well after a recent commitment of seven or eight billion in US aid, our good friends the Pakis gave Sufi Muhammed a get out of jail pass. How nice.

    We gave billions of dollars to the military dictator they just overthrew. The Pakis didn't appreciate us being Musharraf's enabler while democracy languished.

  2. What's the problem? He's converted.

  3. The new coalition Government, led by the late Benazir Bhutto's Pakistan People's Party, says it has also won US support for its policy of opening a dialogue with Pashtun tribes along the Afghan border. Talks are being led by its ethnic Pashtun coalition partner, the Awami National party.

    The new policy on US drone air strikes reverses a deal struck in January between senior US intelligence officials and Mr Musharraf. That agreement gave the US military a freer hand in the use of Predators against targets in Pakistan's tribal areas, which have become havens for al-Qa'ida and Taliban jihadists fighting NATO forces and the Government in Afghanistan.

    The subsequent increase in Predator strikes caused outrage in Pakistan and a schism between British and US forces over Washington's reliance on air strikes, which the British argue are often guided by uncertain intelligence.

    Fighting Terrorism

  4. More of "And, you expected What?"

    har, har

    Saudi King says, Have a Nice Day:)

  5. “Saudi Arabia and India have set out a new vision of partnership in which greater strategic and political content will be added to an expanded economic relationship,” said Pranab Mukherjee, India’s Foreign Affairs Minister after talks in Riyadh with Prince Saud Al-Faisal, Saudi foreign minister.


    Mukherjee pointed out that India and China had signed a shared vision document for the 21st century that reflected congruence of interest on regional and international issues. The document expressed “our mutual desire to work together on multilateral issues for common benefit,” he said.

    Asked about the prospects of India becoming a permanent member of the UN Security Council, he said: “There is unanimity among member states that the United Nations is in need of urgent and comprehensive reform so that it can deal with the challenges of today’s world more effectively. The international body should function in a more transparent, efficient and effective manner and the composition of its central organs must reflect contemporary realities,” he said.

    Expanding Relations

  6. Just as the Baathists were transformed into 1920 Brigade insurgents and then saw the light in the Anbar Awakening, becoming Concerned Local Citizens and US allies ...

    So does TNSM morph into a pro-democracy US ally.

    What's not to like?
    You have to understand it was not Islam, not even Wahabbism that attacked US, no indeed.

    Maulana Sufi Mohammed has been transformed, just as the Baathists in Iraq have been.

    Like Basra and Anbar, it's another success for Team43.

    Get with the GOP program,
    love it or leave it!

  7. We had been liberated and saved by the United States military. The end of Saddam’s regime was the end of one fear, but it was the beginning of a new fear.

    We believed that the United States would know how to plan for the war and for the postwar, but we were shocked when we found out that there was no plan. We believed the invasion would open a gate for a new free and decent life.

    Eventually, we realized how naïve we had been. We may have gained our freedom, but we have lost our country.

    Right War?

  8. So the Sauds are not going to deplete their resources, but conserve them for future generations.

    Just as the US did not dam the Grand Canyon, saving it for the future generations of citizens to enjoy.

    The Sauds obviously do not need the money that further explotation would deliver to them.

    At $117USD per barrel, at 12.5 million barrels per day ...

    Do the math.

  9. viktorsilo:
    You've got mail!

  10. The turning point on global warming
    By John McCain and Joe Lieberman  
    February 13, 2007

    THERE IS NOW a broad consensus in this country, and indeed in the world, that global warming is happening, that it is a serious problem, and that humans are causing it. The recent report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change concluded there is a greater than 90 percent chance that greenhouse gases released by human activities like burning oil in cars and coal in power plants are causing most of the observed global warming. This report puts the final nail in denial's coffin about the problem of global warming.

    In addition, the US Fish and Wildlife Service has identified a warming climate, and the resulting melting of sea ice, as the reason polar bears may now be threatened as a species. The US Center for Disease Control's National Center for Environmental Health has cited global warming as the largest looming public health challenge we face. And President Bush has himself called global warming a serious challenge that we need to confront.

    Indeed, if we fail to start substantially reducing greenhouse gas emissions in the next couple of years, we risk bequeathing a diminished world to our grandchildren. Insect-borne diseases such as malaria will spike as tropical ecosystems expand; hotter air will exacerbate the pollution that sends children to the hospital with asthma attacks; food insecurity from shifting agricultural zones will spark border wars; and storms and coastal flooding from sea-level rise will cause mortality and dislocation.

    To confront this challenge, we have reintroduced the Climate Stewardship and Innovation Act. The bill, which has growing bipartisan support, would harness the power of the free market and the engine of American innovation to reduce the nation's greenhouse gas emissions substantially enough and quickly enough to forestall catastrophic global warming.

    Wall Street analysts and industry executives have predicted the eventual enactment of a bill such as this for some time. Late last month, a group of prominent industrial leaders, including two executives of coal-intensive electric power companies and a major oil company, urged Congress and the president to enact measures that align with the Climate Stewardship and Innovation Act. Perhaps the inevitable is now imminent. We must seize the initiative.

    How can Congress close the deal to prevent catastrophic global warming while it still has the chance? In the same way it has enacted every other major environmental law in the past 30 years.

    Congress must listen to the companies that will be governed by the new climate law. After all, they are the ones who will develop and deploy the advanced energy technologies that will solve this problem. While intransigent firms should not be allowed to weaken the legislation, lawmakers must be open to a good-faith business perspective that can help solve this urgent global problem. As the bill reflects, lawmakers must also have the courage to promote safe climate-friendly nuclear energy.

    Finally, Congress must move forward in a bipartisan fashion. Democrats will not enact a strong new climate law without the help and support of their Republican colleagues. Working in a bi-partisan fashion, Congress will enact a law that curbs global warming even as it strengthens the economy.

    The debate has ended over whether global warming is a problem caused by human activity. Consequently, we can and must act now to solve the problem, or else we will bequeath a dangerous and diminished world to our children and grandchildren.

  11. So why pump more?

    To get paid in an ever depreciating fiat currency?

    While the commodity in the ground maintains its' real value, regardless of the trials and tribulations in the economic future of the US.

    The Sauds are just operating in their best interests, instead of ours. Which is to be expected, no?

  12. "Saudization" will reduce the number of jobs for foreigners in the long term, but prospects for trainers and managers look good.


    But the big beast among foreign companies in Saudi Arabia is BAE Systems, which has had a presence in the Kingdom since 1973, initially supporting Lightning and Strikemaster aircraft. BAE Systems was again appointed the prime contractor In 1985, when a new government-to-government agreement (known as Al Yamamah) saw the UK supplying Tornado, Hawk and Pilatus PC-9 aircraft (and later minehunter ships) for the Royal Saudi Air Force and Royal Saudi Naval Force, and supporting these in service.


    A cornerstone of BAE Systems' activities in Saudi Arabia lies in its relationship with Alsalam Aircraft. Alsalam (which also works on the F-15 Eagle, E-3 Sentry and other aircraft) has provided programmed depot maintenance for the Tornado since 1997 and is expected to perform the second phase of the Royal Saudi Air Force's Tornado Capability Sustainment Programme upgrade.

    Military Industry

  13. Very disappointing that these two are pushing nukes.

  14. The GOP and Federal program for the future, per Big John McCain and Joe "the Independent Democrat" Lieberman.

    Get with the program, it's a comin'

    Like it or not.

  15. Nukes would solve the problem, mat.

    None of the Federals want the problem solved, they just want to accumulate more control of the shrinking pie.

    That is what the Federal Energy Program is about, not energy, but control.

  16. dRat,

    You hit on it straight on. It's all about centralized controlled. That's where it begins and that's where it ends. Solar democratizes energy supply and control, and is actually cheaper than nukes, if decentralized.

  17. There is the storage challenge, with decentralized solar generation, but that is not insurrmountable.

    But not in the cards.

    The powers that be will not make an issue of Saudi production levels, but present US with a continued crisis that, they will claim, only more Federal control of the economy will solve.

    It becomes clearer with each passing event.

  18. I wanna be a super delegate.

  19. dRat,

    Electric cars are much more efficient than gas powered cars. Using electric cars, not only do you remove the need for oil, but you actually reduce your energy need to do the same work.

  20. "The transportation industry is undergoing its largest transformation since Henry Ford built the Model T," Kleiner Perkins managing partner Ray Lane said in announcing the partnership with Think Global and RockPort at a green business conference in Pasadena. The new car, he said, represents "a big step toward a zero-emission transportation industry."

    According to Lane and Think Global, the car is the only crash-tested, highway-certified electric vehicle that's ready for mass production.

    General Motors last year unveiled its electric-gas hybrid car, the Volt, but hasn't said when it hopes to start selling the vehicles. Other Detroit automakers also are working on electric cars, as are startups such as Tesla Motors and Fisker Automotive, both based in California.

    Big Backers

  21. A South Carolina pastor says he wasn’t trying to be political when he posted a sign in front of his church linking Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama and Usama bin Laden.

    Pastor Roger Byrd told WYFF-TV that he just wanted to make people think when he put the sign reading “Obama, Osama — humm, are they brothers” in front of the Jonesville Church of God on Thursday.

    Obama attends Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago. Fifteen percent of respondents to a recent Associated Press-Yahoo News poll said they thought the Illinois senator was a Muslim.

    Bin Laden

  22. South Carolina pastor says he wasn’t trying to be political when he posted a sign in front of his church linking Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama and Usama bin Laden.

    I have this smarmy, uppiddy thing about me, when I go and put the good pastors down, but sometimes I am the fool, the know it all that knows nothing, and should go back to the basics.

  23. What will it take to be declared the winner in Pennsylvania today?

    1. Conventional wisdom has taken such a beating in this campaign that setting expectations for today's primary continues to confound the experts. The only thing everyone can agree on is that, given the makeup of Pennsylvania -- an older population with a significant blue-collar constituency and a sizable proportion of Roman Catholics -- Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton should win the popular vote.


    Has the campaign weakened Obama or Clinton more for the general election?

    2. Many Democrats argue that, when compared with where they stood at the start of the nomination battle in early 2007, Obama and Clinton have become stronger and more effective candidates. Clinton has demonstrated resilience, doggedness and grit in the face of continued adversity.


    What is Obama's biggest general-election vulnerability?

    3. Controversies over the Rev. Jeremiah A. Wright Jr., Obama's comments about why small-town Americans are "bitter" and "cling" to religion and guns, and the candidate's liberal policy views have created a mixture that gives Republicans hope that they can portray Obama as out of touch with heartland America.

    Pennsylvania Primary

  24. hehehe--Sam, if Hillary wins Pennslyvania, this thing is going to get tough. This thing is going to get rough, and may go to the can only hope...:)

  25. I was watching Cavuto this morning and he had some guy on there saying if she doesn't win by at least 15 points it's over. RCP has her up by 5.9.

  26. And now for something completely different; the reality check in the form of a summary of recent news from Basra and Baghdad:

    * On April 20, "Iraqi soldiers took control of the last bastions of the cleric Muqtada al-Sadr's militia in Basra on Saturday," according to James Glanz and Alissa Rubin's account in the New York Times. Notably, this "Iraqi government's monthlong military operation against the [Jaysh al Mahdi] fighters" was given a thumb's-up by Iran's ambassador to Iraq.

    * On April 19, Reuters reported that the Hayaniya district in Basra was taken by Iraqi troops, "backed by a thunderous bombardment by U.S. warplanes and British artillery." An Iraqi interiror ministry spokesman told the news service, "Out troops deployed in all the parts of the district and controlled it without much resistance.

    * Fighting continued in the Sadr city section of Baghdad, where U.S. and Iraqi forces have been pursuing elements of the Mahdi militia and Iranian-backed "special groups," some dozens of whom have been captured and killed. Although Sadr, still thought to be in Iran, threatened a "third uprising," issuing a "last direct warning and speech to the Iraqi government to refrain and take the path of peace and abandon violence against its people.

    In a Jam

  27. Hillary is a fighter. We will see, tomorrow night, how it comes out.

  28. Notably, this "Iraqi government's monthlong military operation against the [Jaysh al Mahdi] fighters" was given a thumb's-up by Iran's ambassador to Iraq.


    U.S. and Iraqi forces have been pursuing elements of the Mahdi militia and Iranian-backed "special groups," some dozens of whom have been captured and killed.

    So confusing.

  29. At the Rev. Thair Abdal's church, where on Sunday mornings sweet songs of prayer stream from the doorway, the congregation's fear of death leaves the sanctuary half-filled.


    Abdal's telephone call came at the start of a major kidnapping campaign targeting priests. Many of those kidnapped were his friends and had his name in their cellphones.

    "Now there is no kidnapping," Abdal said. "There is killing."

    Fear After Slayings

  30. "Jesus Christ, at the last meal before they put him on the cross, said it's true that the body is weak but the soul is strong," Abdal said. "As the people's servant, I believe that one day I will suffer the same fate as the teacher. That doesn't mean this church is thirsty for blood. But we have a real principle. We want to announce to the people that the church is existing. It has existed and it will exist."

    And it is so damned sad, that people kill one another, for misreading the metaphor for the real thing. For misreading the finger, for the moon, that it is pointing at.