“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, June 15, 2008

"We (Iraq) need this continued support of the U.S. forces" - Iraqi Foreign Minister, Hoshiyar Zebari

Barack Obama has built his campaign on judgment and change. What does he do if the change that is taking place is in Iraq? What does his judgment require from him if the lawful government of Iraq requests the continued presence of US troops in Iraq?

Newt Gingrich on CBS said that the Republicans will not beat Obama by running against Obama's experience but on his ideas and beliefs. I believe he is correct. John McCain owns the Iraq policy of the Bush Administration. He may as well use it to his advantage and the Iraq Foreign Minister may just have teed one up in the rough for my guy.


Iraq says it still needs US troops to secure gains
Sun Jun 15, 2008

WASHINGTON, June 15 (Reuters) -
Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshiyar Zebari said on Sunday his country still needs American troops to help secure progress achieved as a result of what he called a successful U.S. surge strategy.

"We need this continued support of the U.S. forces, of the multinational forces, because the gains we have gained, both security, military economic are still vulnerable," he told CNN's Late Edition, weighing into a major issue in the U.S. presidential campaign.

The surge of U.S. troops since 2007 -- currently there are around 150,000 in Iraq -- had dramatically curbed violence. Improved training of Iraqi forces would reduce Baghdad's dependence on foreign troops and eventually enable withdrawals, said Zebari.

"But this is a process. I think we are not there yet," he said in Washington.

Zebari avoided explicitly taking sides in the contest between Republican John McCain, who has vowed to keep American troops in Iraq until the war is won, and Democratic rival Barack Obama, who has promised to remove U.S. combat troops within 16 months of taking office.

Iraqis "respect the will of the American public, but for us it's very important to put both candidates in the true picture," he said after meeting McCain in Washington.

Zebari, who said he planned to discuss Iraq in a telephone call with Obama on Monday, said his message would be that things have turned around in the country.

"Iraq has been to hell many times, and back, and now we have the right policies, the right personnel and we have a committed government to accomplish its national agenda -- and the surge strategy has worked," he said.

"Both candidates have to look hard at the issues, because Iraq is not an island," he added in a reference to his country's strategic position in the Middle East.

McCain has built his campaign largely around his strength as a potential commander in chief. He has drawn contrasts with Illinois Sen. Obama, who McCain says is too inexperienced in foreign policy and military affairs.

The Arizona senator told reporters after meeting with Zebari that "there's no doubt that the surge has succeeded" but challenges remained because al Qaeda was on the defensive, but had not yet been defeated.

"We will be able over time to withdraw and come home with honor and victory, not in defeat," McCain said.
(Reporting by Paul Eckert and Jeff Mason; editing by Alan Elsner)


  1. I'm for staying in Iraq. I'm voting for McCain. We've sacrificed too much to walk away when we'
    re winning. If we walk away, it's going to hell.

  2. I am for staying in Iraq, if the Iraqi government request us to stay. The Iraqi government has clearly made progress and the army seems to be doing much better. It is unthinkable, under the circumstances that got us into Iraq, that we would turn down such a request and not live to regret it.

  3. When is the next Iraqi election scheduled for?

    I'm for building solar plants in Mexico with the money being spent on Iraq. I'm for having Mexican labor maintain these solar plants and keep the glasswork clean.

  4. Basim Sharif, a member of Parliament from the Shiite Fadhila Party, shared this view of Mr. Sadr’s political tactics. “The Sadr movement declared that they will participate with new entities or with independent individuals, and this of course is to avoid being banned from the next elections because of their militia,” he said.

    The Sadr movement has broad popularity among the poor, and it has been expected to do well in the provincial elections, most likely at the expense of the Shiite parties loyal to Mr. Maliki.

    The recent military operations by government forces in Basra and Sadr City have weakened Mr. Sadr, said a Western diplomat who is closely watching the situation. But Iraqi political commentators said Mr. Sadr remained a unique populist force in Iraq.

    Mission has Dual Aims

  5. The signing of the SOFA can make it more politically difficult for Obama to focus on his withdrawal promise this fall, though I won't underestimate his campaign's creativity in that direction.

    Because it's a SOFA and not a treaty, he can indicate that it will be subject to Executive review, renegotiation, and amendment should he be elected. Just as he indicated that Congress should do with NAFTA.

    Additionally, the American people may be under the impression, that what the SOFA guarantees is 130,000 troops in Iraq forever - locking in the status quo. This is not the case by any means (and there's already been some execrable reporting regarding bases) but surely the McCain camp is preparing for the possibility of a developing narrative that doesn't favor them on this specific issue.

    I would be.

  6. Latest DoD contracts:

    Air Force

    The Air Force is modifying a firm fixed price contract with Lockheed Martin Co., Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Company of Marietta Ga., not to exceed $470,000,000. This contract modification is an undefinitized contract action for the procurement of six fiscal 2009 HC/MC-130J aircraft and associated long lead material and non-recurring aircraft production effort using fiscal 2008 advance procurement funding.



    American Competitiveness Institute, Philadelphia, Pa., is being awarded a $99,999,000 indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contract for the Benchmarking and Best Practices Center of Excellence. The purpose of this effort is to identify, validate, benchmark, and facilitate the dissemination (sharing) of best-in-class practices, processes, methodologies, systems, and pre-competitiveness technologies.



    M.A. Mortenson Co., Minneapolis, Minn., was awarded on June 12, 2008, a $72,125,000 firm-fixed price contract for a design/build project at Fort Lewis, Wash., including two Special Operations Forces complexes. Work will be performed at Fort Lewis, Wash, and is expected to be completed by May 30, 2010.


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  8. But you, dear lady, are not Big John.

    In for 100 years, if there are no casualties, in which case, it's really not a war. Which would be proof positive we don't need to be there. Just like Korea and Germany, McCains' examples of his way forward, in Iraq.

    Without a schedule of withdrawal, of combat forces, there is no Victory narrative, that will play in November.

    And that's here, in Arizona, the reddest of red States, this year.

    RCP has the State by State breakdown, of Electoral Votes:
    Barack Obama 238
    60 Solid 178 Leaning

    John McCain 190
    90 Solid 100 Leaning

    Toss Up 110

    Total 538, needed to win 270

    McCain needs a Victory spun in Iraq, by September, or kiss the Republican held White House good-bye.

    No matter what the Iraqi may have to say about it.
    Iraq, still not the 51st State, has no vote in the matter.

  9. Tabloid socialist Al Giordano says:

    While not backing off its 50-state strategy, the Obama campaign is prepping for a 17 state focus – key battlegrounds where they’ll be directing the bulk of their resources.

    The seventeen states are: Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Michigan, Missouri, North Carolina, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, Nevada, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Washington and Wisconsin.

  10. Oregon is a battleground for Obama?

  11. 50 Bases are reported to be in the cards, an increase of about 100% ftom today, or so they say.

    We we have 'em, gotta man 'em.

    Spin away, trish, how is it done, that the footprint expands, but the combat troop levels remain static, or decline?

    If not combat troops, what kind and when do they leave Iraq, 2108?

    Removing Saddam becomes a hundred year occupation?
    That's the McCain stand, today, as he told the tale, on the Today Show.

  12. Baptist minister Welton Gaddy, president of the Washington-based Interfaith Alliance, said it's long past time to focus on "real issues."

    "Obviously, neither Senator McCain nor Senator Obama wanted to move away from those religious leaders as long as their endorsements were helping them, but as soon as the endorsements started hurting them, then they scurried away," he said.

    That doesn't mean the end of the debate on the appropriate role of religion in politics, or of politics in religion—but maybe a different kind of debate, observers say.


  13. RCP has Oregon leaning McCain, sam

    Toss ups, by RCP
    NV, OH, NM, VA, NC, CO, NH, IN, Mi, MO

    If the toss up States go the way they are leaning, today RCP puts the final tally

    Barack Obama 272
    John McCain 266

  14. "In for 100 years, if there are no casualties, in which case, it's really not a war. Which would be proof positive we don't need to be there."

    Iraq is still a nation at war. And both we and the Iraqi forces continue to sustain casualties. So I'm not sure what your point is.

  15. "50 Bases are reported to be in the cards, an increase of about 100% ftom today, or so they say."

    The number is bogus, Rat.

  16. U.S. Ambassador Ryan Crocker has pointed out that the U.S. has some 80 "status of forces agreements" all over the world and that they merely establish areas of jurisdiction. Reuters news agency reported that he responded testily to a reporter who called the agreement "a secret plan" to establish more than 50 permanent U.S. bases in Iraq.

    The agreement is still under negotiation, he said, "but I can tell you that we are not seeking permanent military bases in Iraq. That is just flatly untrue."

    The negotiations for the new security agreement, while arousing enormous controversy in Iraq and expected anger from Iran, have received surprisingly little coverage in the United States. Because it is an agreement and not a treaty, it will not require Senate ratification, but it should be reviewed by Congress and it should be transparent.

    Make Deal Transparent

  17. "Spin away, trish"

    Honestly, as the election loss of a man you despise appears a distinct possibility - the removal from executive office of a party you have no confidence in, a fair bet - your comments increasingly take on a one-man peanut gallery flavor.

    What was it last night? Oh, your disgruntlement over an erosion of influence in Venezuela and Ecuador. That was priceless.

  18. What's wrong with permanent bases in Iraq? whether we like it or notm we're going to be dependent on middle eastern oil for quite some time.

    Due to the unfortunate upswing in Islamic fundamentalism, the situation in Saudi Arabia became a little too uncomfortable for our hosts there and we moved operations east a bit. Now the reserves of Arabia and Iraq figure into our future which is reassuring when one considers the Russian energy czars and the emerging economies of India and China.

    The oil reserves of the Gulf States and Iraq are more critical to US security than Europe or S. Korea and it just so happens that we need to affect public opinion in regard to Islamic fundamentalism v. freedom.

    Its too bad we don't know of oil in Afghanistan. Hmmm, how can we finance Afghanistan? Say whatever "pops" ;) into your mind.

  19. "..What's wrong with permanent bases in Iraq?.."

    What would be the point? You cannot run the world (oil) economy on $400 oil, which is where we're heading in very short order. Fossil fuels production has peaked (I believe that applies to natural gas as well). The only alternatives are renewables like Solar and Wind, coupled with conservation decentralization and localization.