“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 23, 2009

Bummer in Buner. Taliban preparing for end game in Pakistan?

Now I ask the hyperbolic assholes, who are in a high frequency jitter over some fresh cold water mixed with snot, what about Swat?

Do they seriously question whether or not the use of water-boarding would be effective and ethical to keep nuclear weapons out of the hands of the Taliban?

According to this morning's Telegraph, the Obama left-wing disinformation machine is lying about the effectiveness of the practice.

Cheney had it right

...a condensed version provided to the press omitted the detail about the value of the information – a move that has incensed Mr Obama's critics and opened him up to accusations of manipulation for political purposes.

Adml Blair's original note to his staff last Thursday said "high value information came from interrogations in which those methods were used and provided a deeper understanding of the al-Qaeda organisation that was attacking this country".
The memo is an embarrassment for Mr Obama because the conclusion reached by Adml Blair, who oversees the CIA and 15 other US intelligence agencies or departments, undermines a central plank of the White House argument – that the harsh techniques did not work.

Four memos, running to 126 pages, written by officials in Mr Bush's Justice Department contained explicit details of the CIA's methods of extracting information from al-Qaeda suspects between 2002 and 2005.
They revealed that emerged that the highly controversial technique of "waterboarding", a type of simulated drowning, had been used 266 times on Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and Abu Zubaydah, two senior al-Qaeda prisoners.


April 23, 2009
Taliban Seize Vital Pakistan Area Closer to the Capital


ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — Pushing deeper into Pakistan, Taliban militants have established effective control of a strategically important district just 70 miles from the capital, Islamabad, officials and residents said Wednesday.

The fall of the district, Buner, did not mean that the Taliban could imminently threaten Islamabad. But it was another indication of the gathering strength of the insurgency and it raised new alarm about the ability of the government to fend off an unrelenting Taliban advance toward the heart of Pakistan.

Buner, home to about one million people, is a gateway to a major Pakistani city, Mardan, the second largest in North-West Frontier Province, after Peshawar.

“They take over Buner, then they roll into Mardan and that’s the end of the game,” a senior law enforcement official in North-West Frontier Province said. He asked that his name be withheld because was not authorized to speak to the news media.

The Taliban had pushed into the district from the neighboring Swat Valley, where the Pakistani Army agreed to a truce in mid-February and remains in its barracks.

On Wednesday heavily armed Taliban militants were patrolling villages, and the local police had retreated to their station houses in much of Buner, officials and residents said.

The staff members of local nongovernmental organizations have been ordered to leave, and their offices have been looted, they said. Pakistani television news channels showed Taliban fighters triumphantly carrying office equipment out of the offices of the organizations.

“They are everywhere,” one resident of Daggar, Buner’s main city, said by telephone. “There is no resistance.”

The Taliban advance has been building for weeks, with the assistance of sympathizers and even a local government official who was appointed on the recommendation of the Taliban, the senior official said.

It also comes 10 days after the government of President Asif Ali Zardari agreed to the imposition of Islamic law, or Shariah, in Swat, as part of the deal with the Taliban.

A local politician, Jamsher Khan, said that people were initially determined to resist the Taliban in Buner, but that they were discouraged by the deal the government struck with the Taliban in Swat.

“We felt stronger as long we thought the government was with us,” he said by telephone, “but when the government showed weakness, we too stopped offering resistance to the Taliban.”

On Wednesday, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said she was concerned that Pakistan’s government was making too many concessions to the Taliban, emboldening the militants and allowing them to spread by giving in to their demands.

“I think that the Pakistani government is basically abdicating to the Taliban and to the extremists,” Mrs. Clinton told the House Foreign Affairs Committee on Capitol Hill.

She added that the deterioration of security in nuclear-armed Pakistan “poses a mortal threat to the security and safety of our country and the world.”

A senior American official said Mrs. Clinton’s remarks were prompted in part by news of the Taliban takeover in Buner. The officials said that the further erosion of government authority in an area so close to the capital ought to stir concern not only in Pakistan but also among influential Pakistanis abroad.

The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Adm. Mike Mullen, arrived in Islamabad on Wednesday for the second time in two weeks, reflecting the sense of alarm in the Obama administration. He was scheduled to meet with Pakistan’s top military and intelligence commanders.

The takeover of Buner (pronounced boo-NAIR) is particularly significant because the people there have tried in the past year to stand up to the Taliban by establishing small private armies to fight the militants. Last year when the militants encroached into Buner, killing policemen, the local people fought back and forced the militants out.

But with a beachhead in neighboring Swat, and a number of training camps for fresh recruits, the Taliban were able to carry out what amounted to an invasion of Buner.

“The training camps will provide waves of men coming into Buner,” the senior law enforcement official said.

The Taliban expansion into Buner has begun to raise alarm among the senior ranks of the Pakistani Army, said a Western official who was familiar with the Pakistani military.

On Wednesday, one of the highest-ranking army officers traveled from Islamabad to Peshawar and met with the officers of the 11th Corps, the army division based in Peshawar, to discuss the “overall situation in Buner,” the official said.

One of the major concerns is that from the hills of Buner the Taliban have access to the flatlands of the district of Swabi, which lead directly to the four-lane motorway that runs from Islamabad to Peshawar, the capital of North-West Frontier Province.

The Pakistani military does not have a presence in Buner, Pakistani and Western officials said. The main government authority in Buner is the police, who have become demoralized by their low pay and lack of equipment in the face of the Taliban, Pakistani police officials say.

The Taliban have set up checkpoints in a number of villages in Buner, intimidating policemen and forcing them into their police stations, residents in Daggar said by telephone.

The militants were patrolling the bazaar in Daggar, residents said. Women, who used to move freely around the bazaars, were scarcely to be seen, they said. Those who did venture out were totally covered.

One of the big attractions of Buner for people from all over Pakistan, the shrine of the Sufi saint Pir Baba, was now in the control of the militants, the senior law enforcement official said.

Last year, the villagers around the shrine kept the Taliban at bay when the militants threatened to take it over.

But in the last 10 days, the Taliban closed the shrine and said it was strictly off limits to women, the senior official said. The militants are now patrolling it.

The Taliban control in Buner came swiftly in the last few days, officials said.

The militants were helped by the actions of the commissioner of Malakand, Javed Mohammad, who is also the senior official in Swat and who was appointed on the recommendation of the Taliban, the senior law enforcement official said.

The Taliban began their assault on Buner in early April, when a battalion of the Taliban militia with heavy weaponry crossed over the hills from Swat to Buner, according to an account in the newspaper Dawn that appeared on Saturday.

The Taliban then captured three policemen and two civilians, and killed them, the newspaper said.

Infuriated by the killings, people in lower Buner and Sultanwas assembled a volunteer force and killed 17 Taliban fighters, the account said.

But soon after that, Mr. Mohammad tried to persuade the local elders to allow the Taliban to enter Buner, the newspaper said.

Soon afterward, Mr. Mohammad ordered the local armies to dissolve, the senior law enforcement official said. The order led many of those who had been willing to stand up to the Taliban to either flee or give up, the official said. Among those who are reported to have fled is Fateh Khan, a wealthy Buner businessman. Mr. Khan had been one of the main organizers and financiers of the private armies in Buner.

In a show of strength, the militants held a feast in the home of a local Taliban sympathizer two weeks ago, and since then the Taliban have fanned out into the district, the senior official said.

Pir Zubair Shah contributed reporting from Islamabad, and Mark Landler and David Stout from Washington.


  1. I think the Taliban will be impressed with soft power.

  2. She added that the deterioration of security in nuclear-armed Pakistan “poses a mortal threat to the security and safety of our country and the world.”--

    Hillary better put that smart diplomacy to work fast.

    I have a feeling there will be a falling out between Hillary and O one day down the road.

  3. Linear,

    Thanks for the account of the hostage rescue back there. I knew something wasn't sitting right. All making sense now.

  4. "It won't surprise you that I don't consider him (Cheney) a particularly reliable source"- Hillary

  5. Pieces of the puzzle falling into place, Sam, if the account is true.

  6. Linear and Habu are hooked up with the same source, I see.

  7. Pakistan helped birth the Taliban...

    Pakistan is a fake national country....

    Let's all sit back and enjoy Pakistan killing it'sself

    Maybe one of those 60 nukes will go off on it'sself...

    Either way?

    Islamic whores are a rising... (no offense to real whores)

    Let's enjoy the scene as Pakis of England fight in ENGLAND in spirit with their dog-humping cousins of Swat!

  8. 'Rat and I started warning about this about 4 years ago.

  9. Cheney once again showed why he would have done far better than Eunich in Chief Bush.

  10. Interesting, isn't it, that a Democratic Congress has declined over the years to state that waterboarding is torture (could have done so first in 2006, when the Military Commissions Act was knocking around) while instead passing legislation protecting interrogators and others from future prosecution for operations lawmakers chose not to identify as violations of statute or to otherwise forbid as a matter of law.

    Congress likes to have its cake and eat it, too.

    Doesn't everyone.

    The defense of the republic doesn't hang on a single approach - they are potentially limitless - and while the practice was taken off the table almost as soon as it was placed there - you could safely get rid of it now and forever. We've managed without it since 2004, after all. But because it's a high profile, highly charged political issue, no one wants to take responsibility for that. The current administration itself chose to leave the door open on the very techniques that, post-election, it assiduously refers to as "enhanced" rather than rolling out the t-word. Because they're the ones now in charge of deploying those techniques.

    All of the focus on interrogation (due almost entirely to the whopping bad situation at Abu Ghraib) is unfortunate for any number of reasons. It is an absolutely critical national security tool and its practitioners are exceptionally devoted to that end; the public has a cartoon-like perception of it and is generally ignorant, not of it limitations, but of just how far you CAN go within the law.

    The fact remains that we get almost all of our strategic intelligence the really old fashioned way. We pay for it. And given the current noise and fear surrounding the art and science of uncooperative questioning, that's probably a good thing.

  11. "Open Veins of Latin America: Five Centuries of the Pillage of a Continent"Insightful, Colorful, Biased and Misleading. Lacks Balanced Historic Perspective,By Mark Frobos
    I must say that "Open Veins of Latin America: Five Centuries of the Pillage of a Continent" is an informative, insightful, colorful, yet extremely biased view of the failures of Latin America explained through the lens of a very misleading leftist ideology.
    Of course, atrocities and unfairness abound in the history of every country and on every continent. What is lacking in Galeano's "Open Veins of Latin America" is a truly balanced historical perspective.
    Galeano describes accurately America's military and expansionist intervention in Latin America, but he fails to mention American economic and medical aid, student exchanges, as well as the oppression of Latin American governments upon their own people.
    Clearly there existed atrocities which did not begin with the arrival of the Europeans on the continent. The Mayan and Aztec rituals of human sacrifice and cannibalism on a massive scale, the wholesale slaughter of entire tribes of Indians to feed their particular religion's need for a constant flow of innocent blood, are barely mentioned in Galeano's book.

    "Open Veins of Latin America" does read like a classic Marxist attack on capitalism. However, Galeano appears to have problems in bringing home his point to vilify capitalism and glorify socialism.
    My question is this? How many people do you see escaping free capitalist countries like the United States to live in socialist countries like Cuba or Russia? The entire world, not just the United States, has repeatedly chosen freedom over slavery, and the prosperity and opportunity of capitalism over the poverty and misery of socialism. Extreme socialist and communist governments have always failed in every country where they have existed, often leading to some of the world's greatest atrocities and massacres such as Stalin's murder of 20 million of his own people and Pol Pot's massacre of one third of his country's population in the killing fields of Cambodia.
    And how about the effect of foreign interests in Latin America? It is true that foreign interests have influenced and afflicted Latin America in very negative ways since the Spanish conquest. No one can deny this. The problem is that Galeano's book has an agenda, which is not to inform but rather to persuade the reader that capitalism is the cause of the problem, and that socialism is the cure. This is simply not the case, and a truly accurate study of Latin American history will clearly prove this point.
    Mark says the Caribe Indians that Columbus encountered practiced boiling young babies to consume as a delicacy.
    Also reminds that the Aztecs slaughtered 70,000 fellow tribesmen in a single Ceremony.

  12. "The problem is that Galeano's book has an agenda, which is not to inform but rather to persuade the reader that capitalism is the cause of the problem, and that socialism is the cure."

    Fat Ass certainly wasn't going to hand him The Wealth of Nations.

  13. Fat Ass needs us to stay just as we are, doing just what we do - or rather, what he would have his followers believe that we do; we are as central to his schtick as his peculiar, mythic Bolivarianism.

    Otherwise, a souvenir ashtray or t-shirt would have done just as well.

  14. Well, well, well.

    Terrain that trish said was to tough for the 82nd Airbirne is the sea these fish are swimmin' in, is the US Army really unable to compete in those mountains?

    Sad if true.

    The real story that I see, in that posted missive, not one about the US and 'soft power', but that the Paki Army and Frontier Corps are staying in ther barracks.

    The Taliban and their ISI & Paki Army sponsors are not operating in a vacuum, but as part of a Combined Arms Team, which includes those Frontier Corps and the Paki Army. We are watching a coup de etat, one step removed, with deniability, in progress.

    We've been played, or at least Team43 was played, for billions.

    Better that we stick with Nato, call in the Turks. We should have given them the billions and let them establish "stability" in the Muslim Arc.

    The entire Bush Doctrine, encapsualized in the "Long War", was a disaster.

    Taste that pudding.

  15. Prominent Republican Calls For Investigation of Damage Done to National Security By Obama's Decision to Release CIA MemosLast week the novice in the White House released details of the enhanced interrogation techniques during the Bush years despite advice from current CIA director, Leon Panetta, and four prior CIA directors.Today Rep. Peter Hoekstra at The Wall Street Journal called for a complete investigation of damage done to national security by President Obama by leaking these CIA memos:

    Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair got it right last week when he noted how easy it is to condemn the enhanced interrogation program "on a bright sunny day in April 2009." Reactions to this former CIA program, which was used against senior al Qaeda suspects in 2002 and 2003, are demonstrating how little President Barack Obama and some Democratic members of Congress understand the dire threats to our nation.

    George Tenet, who served as CIA director under Presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton, believes the enhanced interrogations program saved lives. He told CBS's "60 Minutes" in April 2007: "I know this program alone is worth more than the FBI, the Central Intelligence Agency and the National Security Agency put together have been able to tell us."

    Last week, Mr. Blair made a similar statement in an internal memo to his staff when he wrote that "[h]igh value information came from interrogations in which those methods were used and provided a deeper understanding of the al Qa'ida organization that was attacking this country."

    Yet last week Mr. Obama overruled the advice of his CIA director, Leon Panetta, and four prior CIA directors by releasing the details of the enhanced interrogation program. Former CIA director Michael Hayden has stated clearly that declassifying the memos will make it more difficult for the CIA to defend

  16. Rhe Azrec were not killing Aztecs in those bloodlettings, doug. Mostly those that were diemmbowled were from other American tribes in what became Mexico.

    One of the major reasons those other tribes allied themselves with Cortez.

  17. See, fellas, eveuone is calling for that TRUTH COMMISSION, now.

    The Dems own the floor amd will control where the spotlight shines, the Republicans are making an error in supporting an investigation, but they've made bigger mistakes, before.

  18. "Well, well, well.

    Terrain that trish said was to tough for the 82nd Airbirne is the sea these fish are swimmin' in, is the US Army really unable to compete in those mountains?

    Sad if true."

    Rat, you've been wanting to send in the 82nd ever since I can remember. That it has never once occurred to you why this might be a truly bad idea, is something I find not so much astonishing as sad.

  19. 'Rat,
    Why did he refer to the slaughter as a "ceremony?"

  20. Think 'Rat at other times called for bombing, which was and is my proposal.

  21. ...or I was, at least back when ABC News reported on the (circumscirbed) locations of Taliban training camps.
    ...not sure what we should do now.

  22. More Than 60 Killed in Two Attacks in Iraq

    New York Times - ‎27 minutes ago‎

    By TIMOTHY WILLIAMS BAGHDAD - More than 60 people were killed and 113 injured in two explosions in Iraq on Thursday that shook a quiet residential Baghdad neighborhood and a restive city north of the capital where Iranian tourists were targeted.

  23. Blogger trish said...

    "Linear and Habu are hooked up with the same source, I see"

    I'm guessing Habu IS Linear's source. But, you know, if you read it on the internet, it must be true.

  24. We're going to end up with Ms Rice and Darth Cheney on the floor, testifying.

    Senate report: Rice, Cheney OK'd CIA use of waterboarding.
    CNN - ‎1 hour ago‎

    WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Top Bush administration officials gave the CIA approval to use waterboarding, a controversial interrogation technique, as early as 2002, a Senate intelligence report shows.

  25. 4 years ago, doug, they were targetable by heavy bombers. Celebrating in the streets of their towns, waving AKs and shouting "Death to America!", with live coverage on CNN and ABC.

    Those hundred or so Talibanistas that were mourning their lost Commander. We let them walk away from that graveside, not join the corpse in it.

    We've been blued, screwed and tattooed.

    Bu our own "Professionals" and "Experts".

  26. Yeah, I kinda thought that, too.

  27. did Democrat Leadership, but that ws then.

  28. It could be a bad idea, trish, but not for the reasons presented.

    Which is the rub. Your flying strawmen with sanctamonious surety.

    Just as with Insurgents in Iraq. Denying the obvious, while toeing the Party line.

  29. "It could be a bad idea, trish, but not for the reasons presented."

    Which ones would those be?

  30. If the ground is to tough for US, why expect the Pakistani to be able to secure it, either?

    It's ground so inhospitable only the Taliban can thrive there?

    A geographic sanctuary that is just to tough a nut for US to crack.

  31. The terrain features, trish, that was your excuse, the reason presented.

    The terrain was just to rough and tough for the US Army to operate in.

  32. Which says more about the US Army, than it does the terrain.

    Which is what is so sad, that feeble excuse that the Party has provided.

    Or the truth of what you've said.

    Either option provides a sad commentary.

  33. To realize that the 10th Mountain Division can only operate on the flat or in urban areas and villages.

    That the Airborne have to be able to drive Humvees.

  34. As I was leaving it, the Army was going Hollywood. It was berets for everyone!

    Because eveyone was so Special.

    Twenty years later, that change of culture surely has changed the taste of the pudding that we can serve.

  35. If the ground is to tough for US, why expect the Pakistani to be able to secure it, either?

    It's ground so inhospitable only the Taliban can thrive there?

    A geographic sanctuary that is just to tough a nut for US to crack.

    Thu Apr 23, 10:19:00 AM EDT

    We never expected the Pakistani to secure it. As a practical matter, no one's going to. Simply extending the reach of the central government there, is a tall and unprecedented order.

    The Pakistanis do have infrastructure to maintain a conventional presence in some outposts over the vast, mountainous area; we do not. Establishing and maintaining an infrastructure in that physical environment, having moved in unilaterally, would be an expensive and never-ending nightmare. One which couldn't be sustained above the fold, so to speak.

    We are set up for quick insertion and extraction; what you have is what you take with you. You're good for 48-72 hours, depending.

    Operators who would be posted there do so without visibility, which keeps them alive.

  36. Are we still the "Army of One", or is there a now another way to say "Be all you can be"?

  37. I am constantly reminded of Musharraf on the Daily Show saying that the people, there, are the Taliban. In other words - The Talib are not a separate entity that can be flushed out from the populace.

  38. That is not a strategy that will achieve victory, trish, raiding parties.

    If it is a War, above the fold, then US FOBs should be placed tacticly near the Paki outposts, in strategic locations.

    If only to intiate a conflict with the Insurgents, the Talibanistas.

    This has moved beyond COIN operations, if the posted missive that started the thread is accurate.

  39. Exactly, ash, the people of that area need to be defeatd. They are the Taliban, they are the enemy.

    The idea that Armies act independently of the people is only applicable to industrialized societies. Not tribal ones.

  40. Somehow the idea that we could convert folks, without defeating them, became the SOP. It's part of the new eyewashed Army, lookin' good and good to look at.

    To bad it has not worked when applied.

  41. The desire to defeat them is a fools errand that a number of Imperial armies have found out in the past. Best not to worry about confronting and defeating them but rather defending ourselves against the potential harm they could do to us.

  42. The Pakistan Security forces are reacting. Sending in 4 platoons of their Frontier Constabulary, that's 120 more guys, on top of the 120 they already sent.

    Pakistan Sends Special Police to Taliban-Held Area .

    ISLAMABAD — Pakistani authorities on Thursday deployed special constabulary forces to a strategically important district only 70 miles from the capital, Islamabad, that has come under the effective control of the Taliban in the last several days, police and residents said.

    Four platoons of the Frontier Constabulary, a paramilitary police force, moved into the district at the request of the civilian commissioner of the area on Thursday, following four platoons that arrived Wednesday. At least one officer was killed and another seriously wounded in a clash with Taliban militants during the deployment, police said

    Seems a tad light, to me, 240 or so para-militaries.

  43. You can't station troops in Pakistan without Pakistani consent. Those that are there, are there by agreement. Or they're simply "not there." You can be "not there" - in very, very small numbers, and without the standard accoutrement. Unless you want to station yourself all by your lonesome. Can't imagine that working out in our favor - or in Pakistan's.

    The Pakistani Army does not have, has not gained, the support of the people in those areas in question. Raising our flag, so to speak, down the road from theirs - again, trying to imagine a pleasant outcome to that one. One of the greatest difficulties Musharraf had, and it's not easier for the current government, is dealing with the charge of sock puppet with regard to policies that are exceedingly risky and painful in any number of ways.

    I didn't say that raiding parties would secure victory. I said that's what we've got.

  44. That certainly is an option, ash.

    Not a poor one, either.
    Especially if we put our faith in habu and believe that the Paki nukes are all duds.

  45. trish, wars are not fought with a permission slip from the enemy.

    The idea is for it to "get ugly".

    Or there is little reason to be involved, if we can't win.
    If the Taliban are not defeated, they win, 9-11-01 forever a terrorist victory.

    Which may be what Americans now want, for it to "go away". But as we both know, while we're stepping up, it's not to win, just to show.

    It ain't Anbar.

    Little wonder the Europeons do not want to play.

  46. I wouldn't put my faith in the existence of duds but the fact that they have been developed to deal with India is a plus (they don't have the range to hit US do they?) and the fact that there are forces opposing the Talib, domestically, in Pakistan is also a plus.

  47. The Pakistani Government is not in control of Swat, so, per bob's Standard, it's not even Pakistan any more.

    Like Mexican Utah, just a figment of a crazed Cartographer's imagination.

    But it is, by everyone's accounting
    "Enemy Territory"

  48. The Pakistani military's conventional delivery systems, ash, could not reach the USA with a nuclear warhead, that much is true.

    They have nonorbital missiles and modified F15s as their primary platforms.

    The Sauds, of course, will retain access to that capcity, seein' as how they paid for it.

  49. "trish, wars are not fought with a permission slip from the enemy."

    Fighting a war within a country one is not at war with is nothing new. Last I checked, we'd not declared war on Pakistan. In fact, the fear is we're going to lose it.

    I am trying to point out to you the exceedingly high obstacles and risks accompanying your proposal to unilaterally station a conventional foreign force in the FATA. That it doesn't appear, as a matter of understatement, unwise to you, on its face, again, is sad.

  50. This is where and what the "War on Terror" has always been about. Also why it was avoided by Team43, it is the real deal.

    The Iraq Adventure, a seperate entity.

    Two different Wars, with different Authroizations, in different locales.

    As confirmed by Hamdan v Rumsfeld.

  51. But the Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Terrorists, 14 September 2001, authorizes war in or with Pakistan, if need be.

    IN GENERAL- That the President is authorized to use all necessary and appropriate force against those nations, organizations, or persons he determines planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, or harbored such organizations or persons, in order to prevent any future acts of international terrorism against the United States by such nations, organizations or persons.

  52. We know that the ISI, an agent of the Pakistani aided and harboured the Taliban and aQ while the Talibanistas controlled the Afghan countryside.

    We know that they continue to aid and harbour the Taliban and aQ elements in Afghanistan & Pakistan, now.

    The ISI is the Pakistani Government, at least an agent there of, which makes Pakistan complicit in aiding and harbouring the terrorists, both pre and post 9-11-01.

  53. Okay, what's your point?

    This administration is not going to go to war against Pakistan, any more than the last one was.

    The policy of working both with and against the government of Pakistan will continue.

  54. Point is we should be leaving, if we're not ready to do what it takes to win.

    We'll just be losing in slow motion, from here on out. If the enemy is not properly identified and dealt with.

    Just good blood and treasure after bad, at this point.

  55. Our strategy to win the "War" corrupted by the expediency of not being willing to fight it.

    Thus we'll lose the "War"

    But make a gallant effort, in the process.

  56. "Point is we should be leaving..."

    Well, we're not. But you can share that desire directly with most Belmonters, who wholeheartedly agree with you. They would probably be grateful to have you back in the fold, rather than merely being the irritating, inflexible contrarian.

  57. It's where I've always been, trish.

    Like you said.

    "Rat, you've been wanting to send in the 82nd ever since I can remember."

    Play to win, or don't play at all.
    That's always been the way I've called it.

    If the BCers have come around, it's certainly not me joining them.

    If they've finally seen the light, I guess that's a good thing.
    Don't partake of that site, myself.

  58. The Cold War mentality, developed by design in 1948, has US trapped in a no-win methodology.

    It should have been rejected at the end of the Cold War, but it has, instead, been reaffirmed in spades.

    So there you have it, a little thoughtful commentary for doug, but to no real purpose.

    Certainly more fun to rouse the rabble.

  59. Just saying you might enjoy the warm assent - and opportunity to elaborate, build, and expand upon it - having arrived independently at the same conclusion.

    Just saying.

  60. This comment has been removed by the author.

  61. Thanks, but no.

    They all said it did not matter, what happened in Pakistan, with regards the "War on Terror".

    They were off to Iraq to fight Mohammed, when that was never where the battle against terror was. Doubt they'd admit we blew our cash and our basic load in the wrong whore house.

    Sad sack commentary, all around.

  62. They're only taking that position, I'd bet an Amero, trish, to be Contra-Obama.

    Not based upon any moral or military method they've expoused, previously.

  63. "The desire to defeat them (the Taliban) is a fools errand that a number of Imperial armies have found out in the past."

    A little thought experiment for folks: does anybody think that Stalin's Russia might've done better job of "pacifying" Afghanistan than either the British or the late-70's/early 80's Soviets? How about Ghengis Khan and his crew (maybe they did mop up in the "Graveyard of Empires" back in the day, but I haven't checked). In other words, might some folks with the requisite ruthlessness (why no analogs to Ghandi in Stalin's Russia?) and willpower be able to do what the "principled" ("not in my name") cannot? I'm not holding up Stalin as worthy of emulation, mind you, but I have to laugh when I hear certain things "can't be done" without inclusion of the appropriate qualifiers (e.g., "Can't be done without us becoming ..." - see current torture thread at the Belmont Club).

    Been lurking here since the splintering from the BC (and at the BC for a while before that) and have looked in on no small number of arguments about what to do about Afghanistan and Pakistan. In a simple-minded way, these arguments seem to boil down into the following questions and their respective answers:

    1. How much of an actual threat
    do members of the region pose?
    What might they do (another
    9/11?) to us or our allies
    and what would be the cost?

    2. Given a (non-zero) threat
    assessment and associated
    uncertainties in that
    assessment, how is the threat
    appropriately countered and
    what will the associated costs

    3. If the threat cannot be ignored,
    i.e., the (estimated!!) cost of
    ignoring it is greater than the
    (estimated!!) cost of trying to
    counter it, what are the
    correct metrics for judging the
    degree to which the threat is
    being countered? That is, what
    does "success" look like?

    4. Given the successful, ongoing
    determination of the metrics
    described in 3., what escalation
    (or de-escalation) is required
    to achieve success?

    Relatively easy to state and probably stated already, but lots of uncertainties in the process (which may very well be incomplete as I've stated it). And I've seen lots of sharp folks from all over the political spectrum weigh in on what to do, but nobody seems to much agree on any one of the steps, let alone a plan drawn from the whole kit and kaboodle. All of that said, if the Taliban in Afghanistan and Pakistan are truly an existential threat (e.g., capable of facilitating the nuking Boston and several other U.S. cities, say) to the U.S., then they should be hammered ruthlessly (by the US and/or a suitable proxy) in a manner commensurate with the threat they present. If they aren't a threat, we ought to focus our resources elsewhere. Just don't tell me that we can't get something done, even if our lives depend on it, as Tarawa, Iwo Jima, Hiroshima, etc. are ample evidence to the contrary. Not that any of the above is new - just my .02, FWIW.

    BTW, helluva a blog here - lots of thought-provoking topics and conversation. I kind of miss the EB in its formative days, though -back then lots of folks figuratively being tossed off the balcony, slid down the bar, having rhetorical chairs busted over their heads, etc. Good stuff. Now it's more like "The Elephant Cafe", but it's still damn good. Thanks and please keep up the good work.

  64. Are they outfitting themselves in burkas, wrapping towels around their heads?

    That could be fun to watch, but no.

  65. doug, as to the Ceremony question, it was one. I believe they had 7, perhaps more pyramid style temples where they sacrificed the prisoners on the alters to their Gods.

    Saw a History Channel or some such program about it, They timed the process of opening the chest from below the sternum and removing the heart. Obsedian knives. I forget the time, but it was remarkedly short.

    In total it was a all day affair, but it was a religious ceremony. That was part of the Aztec methodology, taking prisoners to sacrifice to their Gods, rather than creating a body count on the battle field.

    Same for the early Maya, or so another program by an SF medic portrayed their behaviour.

  66. Anodyne,
    Perhaps the Soviets did have their version of Ghandi

    Aug 5, 2008 ... Alexander Solzhenitsyn, the Soviet dissident writer and Nobel literature prize winner, has died aged 89.

    Born in Kislovodsk, Russia, in 1918, Solzhenitsyn was raised by his widowed mother against the bleak backdrop of the Russian Civil War. Despite the hardship, she encouraged his literary ability and his interest in mathematics and science and he went on to study at Rostov State University and the Moscow Institute of Philosophy Literature and History before World War II intervened.

    After fighting as an artillery commander in the Red Army, Solzhenitsyn was arrested and found guilty of anti-Soviet propaganda after a letter he had written to a friend which criticised Josef Stalin, was uncovered by authorities.

    His imprisonment labour camps informed his writing, much of which was done in secret. In 1968's "Cancer Ward", he recounted the disease which nearly killed him and in two of his most famous works, "The First Circle" and "The Gulag Archipelago", he described in harrowing detail life in the gulag.

  67. "They're only taking that position, I'd bet an Amero, trish, to be Contra-Obama."

    There is that element. But there is also the genuine belief that absent carpet-bombing/nuking, you're really just dicking around. This showed up with some regularity in the Iraq threads, too, and is a belief that exists independently of any particular admin.

  68. I recall in the Iraq threads that there were few that'd advocate leaving if we did not bomb 'em into oblivion.

    We had to stay, even if we were on the wrong course. It was the only position patriotic real American could have.
    Resolve in the face of systematic failure

  69. Wow, that's better than Rev. Wright

  70. Blogger Anodyne said...


    a bunch of good stuff. My statement of past imperial armies wrecking themselves in Afghanistan was not to suggest that we couldn't do it (though if we did nuke/carpet bomb the place would it still be Afghanistan/Pakistan?) but rather suggest that we as a 'nation' aren't ready to do what it would take to 'win'. Better then to cut bait and run ala Rat's prescription.

    You should write more!

  71. "I recall in the Iraq threads that there were few that'd advocate leaving if we did not bomb 'em into oblivion."

    They wouldn't advocate leaving. But they believed that this was the obvious thing to do. It's the default setting for many.

  72. Solzhenitsyn tells of people in Prison crying at the news of Stalin's Death.

  73. This comment has been removed by the author.

  74. Given the light response to the insurrection, sending in 240 or so para-military police.

    Is it reasonable to think that the Paki Army and ISI could be promoting the chaos, to legitmize another coup?

  75. General Motors says it will temporarily shut 13 assembly plants, cut production by 190,000.

    About 1,600 workers at General Motors Corp. will lose their jobs in the next few days as the troubled automaker accelerates cost cuts Monday, April 20, 2009, in order to qualify for more government aid.

  76. "GM" workers will get paid for not working.
    Parts suppliers will lose their jobs.

  77. I honestly thought about Solzhenitsyn as I threw in the Ghandi bit, Desert Rat, but my gut feeling is that the institutions Solzhenitsyn was going up against were significantly harder on him than Ghandi's institutional antagonists were on Ghandi and, moreover, that it took quite a bit longer for the reforms that Solzhenitsyn advocated to occur (or nearly occur) than did those advocated by Ghandi. My gut is no historian, however.

    You're too kind, Ash. And I kind of figured that you had implied qualifications for your "Graveyard of Empires" comment. That said, if the region really is a dire threat, we damn well better have the will and the means to win. But if we're just going to play grab-ass over there irrespective of the threat we ought not to do it with my neighbor's kids and my and my neighbor's tax money.

  78. "Is it reasonable to think that the Paki Army and ISI could be promoting the chaos..."

    They wouldn't have to. Swat is majority True Believer.

    Their giveaway strategy just backfired. That's not a conspiracy, but rather a learning curve that many before them have had to climb.

  79. The oppression the the British applied in India and Afghanistan is next to nothing as compared to the techniques employeed by Stalin in the Soviet Union.

    No arguement there.

    Ghandi would have failed, against Stalin. He'd have died, post haste.
    Same I think can be said of South Africa, regarding the apartheid days of Afrikaner rule.

    Nelson Mandela would not have survived in a Soviet prison for 27 years.

  80. SoCal notices of Foreclosure up 36% over Feb 2008.

  81. Russian Limbaugh caller:
    True believers were often heard to lament:
    "If only Stalin knew what is really going on!"
    (he would fix it)

    If only Barry knew what Rev Wright was saying...

    ...that Tony was a crook.

    ...that Billy was a terrorist.

    ...that Billy praised Hugo's Educational Revolution in Venezuela while IN Venezuela.

    ...that Billy's schools that the Messiah funded mirrored Hugos.

    ...that Blogo was a Crook.

  82. Banks and Krauts in line in front of US Taxpayers in Chrysler Bankruptcy.

  83. Thanks for stopping in Anodyne. Don't be a stranger.

  84. I want to know who his neighbors are.

  85. "The oppression the the British applied in India and Afghanistan is next to nothing as compared to the techniques employeed by Stalin in the Soviet Union..."

    Yeah, the colonial Brits not nearly so ruthless and brutal as Stalin and some other folks.

    "Thanks for stopping in Anodyne. Don't be a stranger."

    You're welcome and thank you, 2164th - I'll try to de-lurk and chime in when I can.

    "I want to know who his neighbors are."

    A subject for another thread! :)

  86. Bret Stephens offers a unique and convincing mathematical demonstration that the suffering of Palestinian Arabs grabs world attention at a rate that is overwhelmingly disproportional ("Our Selective Moral Outrage," Global View, April 21). But his hypothesis that the main cause of this selectivity is anti-Jewish sentiment doesn't seem right, at least in the U.S.


    In America anyway, "selective moral outrage" is not about Jews: Demonizing Israel and ignoring victims of non-Western oppression, both inexcusable sins, are two sides of the anti-Western coin.

    The irony of ironies of course is that while the Jews used to be demonized in the West as outsiders, today the Jewish state is targeted as a Western foreign body in the Orient, epitomizing, for those who have this need, every Western sin that ever victimized the non-Western world.

  87. The officers, members of Frontier Constabulary, were killed in the Totalai area, just 60 miles from Islamabad, Dawn reported.

    The newspaper said the killings could threaten the viability of a government-backed peace deal with the Taliban in northwest Pakistan.

    Eight Frontier Constabulary platoons arrived Wednesday in Buner, each platoon containing 30 to 50 officers, said Syed Mohammed Javed, a government official who oversees the area covered by the peace deal.
    Near Islamabad

  88. wi"o" had better get involved in Ohio politics, whether bob and the missus move there, or not.
    It is his Senator is gummin' up the works, now.


    WASHINGTON -- A Democratic senator from Ohio is moving to further tie up pending free-trade agreements with Panama, Colombia and South Korea, setting up a potential clash between President Barack Obama and some members of his party.

    Sen. Sherrod Brown, a free-trade skeptic, said Wednesday he will soon introduce legislation that would effectively delay congressional consideration of the proposed free-trade pacts drafted under President George W. Bush. The Obama administration has indicated it is moving forward on the Colombia deal and is optimistic about the pending agreement with Panama.

    Speaking before the Washington International Trade Association at George Washington University, Mr. Brown said any effort to finalize the pending agreements would be a continuation of failed Bush policies, and he warned of opposition in Congress.

    "It's hard for anyone to argue our trade policy is working," Mr. Brown said, pointing to the U.S. trade deficit. He called for revamping U.S. trade policy, adding, "No other country practices trade according to this fundamentalist, economist philosophy" instead of pursuing policies that he said advance the country's economic and security interests.

  89. We've been here before. It's just changed continents and hemispheres:

    BBC News Online: World: From Our Own Correspondent
    Saturday, 13 January, 2001, 16:09 GMT
    Welcome to Farclandia

    By Jeremy McDermott

    There is something a little surreal about watching a pretty girl dressed in jungle fatigues, carrying grenades and resting an AK-47 on her knees, painting her fingernails. But the 80,000 people that live in this massive guerrilla safe haven have got used to it.

    The residents have grown used to the presence of heavily armed guerrillas all around them This 42,000sq km zone was cleared of police, army and almost any signs of the state at the end of 1998, the FARC precondition for coming to the negotiating table.

    Whilst no progress has been made in peace talks, the region has become known as Farclandia and the residents have grown used to the presence of heavily armed guerrillas all around them.

    In the towns they are everywhere. Here in San Vicente, the largest town in the zone and the capital of Farclandia, they patrol in twos, ambling down the town streets, usually a guerrilla boy and a guerrilla girl. Most of them look under 18.

    Going into the hairdressers, the supermarket, or the pharmacy, you will see them. Come to think of it, San Vicente has a ridiculous number of pharmacies. I guess this is where the 17,000-strong rebel army gets much of its medical supplies.

    But the guerrillas do not live in the town, except a few of the political officers or commissars, whose job it is to spy on the local population and keep tabs on visiting journalists and NGOs.

    In conversation

    Juan Pablo is one of these commissars. He wanders around in the tropical heat with a Che Guevara t-shirt, sometimes sporting a 9mm pistol in a shoulder holster, sometimes not.

    He has the uncanny ability of appearing in one of the little restaurants that dot the town as soon as a group of journalists sit down for supper.

    He usually comes up to the table, gives a friendly greeting, then sits down to join us. He will talk about world affairs, Marxism, the Third Way and a frightening array of other topics. But he is sounding you out all the time, picking your brains, trying to determine your sympathies.

    He then tries to pay the bill, but bearing in mind the FARC finances come from kidnapping - now averaging one every three hours - and the drugs trade, I politely decline.

    Only the prospect of action is likely to generate more enthusiasm in a FARC camp than the announcement of bingo The rest of the guerrillas live in camps in the jungles around San Vicente. Joaquin Gomez, the commander of the FARC's feared Southern Bloc and one of its negotiators with the government, took me out for a chat in one of these camps.

    You have to research a few Russian phrases before you see him, as he spent 14 years studying in the Soviet Union, and any words in feeble Russian earn you a slap on the back and a glass of vodka, as well as a much more friendly FARC commander.

    Joaquin is highly educated and very articulate. He shows me around the camp, surrounded by trenches with little bivouacs shielding neatly piled rucksacks, showing the rebels are ready to move out at a second's notice.

    The guerrillas do not get a salary, but they are able to get some of life's basic luxuries, cosmetics for the girls, penknives for the boys, by playing bingo.

    Only the prospect of action is likely to generate more enthusiasm in a FARC camp than the announcement of bingo.

    The guerrillas gather with their cards and one of the commanders does the honours. There are whoops of joy as the prizes are handed out, and frantic trading afterwards so that everyone gets something they want.

    Slow pace of peace

    This childish enthusiasm is exactly that, as at least a third of the guerrillas are under 18.

    It is difficult to look into their shining brown eyes as they enjoy the simple pleasures of life and then think that they will soon be launching home-made bombs at police stations and trying to kill everyone inside.

    But then why should anyone be surprised? Colombia has been fighting a civil conflict for 37 years, and at the current pace of peace talks, there could be another 37 years ahead.

  90. That's a false comparison, I'd venture, trish.

    The motivating factors and the depth of sympathy amongst the natives, not nearly equivilent.

    It is not the same problem, nor solution, in a different locale.

  91. I don't think it's a false comparison at all.

    The Taliban has come into possession of the South Asian equivalent of Farclandia - the idea being, as it was then, that ceding them territory will bring peace.

  92. I do not think there was the same level of complicity 'tween the Government and FARC as there is between the Government and the Taliban.

    The Taliban has long been utillized by the Pakistani security forces, they are an action agent of that State.

    That was never true of FARC.

  93. Didn't work then. Won't work now.

  94. The trouble with keeping a mad dog on a leash, while it may restrain it from biting others, it will not stop it from turning on the holder, of the leash.

    Domesticly, for anyone that cares, Colorado could use some comservative voters

    More On CO-Sen.

    The PPP poll of Colorado that Tom cites to is significant because newly-minted Senator Michael Bennet is running about even with his largely-unknown GOP opponents. Bennet is similarly unknown, so he can't be considered in Dodd/Bunning territory, but he can't be thrilled with the numbers either.

    Potentially more significant is the fact that Obama's numbers, while healthy nationwide, are a fairly anemic 49/45 in this poll of "voters."* Checking the breakdowns against last year's exit polls from Colorado, there's nothing particularly "off." Independents appear to be undersampled, but since they split 50/50, that should come out in the wash. Colorado was slightly more Democratic than the nation as a whole in 2008, so its somewhat surprising to see him 26 points below his national average of +30 so soon.

  95. It was the greatest error of the Patrana administration - which made headway in other areas, but was a disaster in the one that mattered most.

  96. I usually wait until the hottest day of the year and the weeds are close to a foot tall when I decide to garden. Sunday will be close to 90 degrees. As I look out at my garden, I can't help but think how blessed I am that I weeded two weeks ago...which made me think about this song, which in turn made me realize that my Friday night plans were canceled, which actually could be a good thing...a really, really good thing. We'll see.

    Peace out.

  97. Elmore County Commission to decide on nuclear plant rezone

    Hundreds turn out to support proposal to rezone 1,300 acres for nuclear plant that would create thousands of jobs

    April 23, 2009

    For more information, contact:

    Jennie Ransom, AEHI spokeswoman 208-939-9311

    Martin Johncox, 208-658-9100

    Hundreds of people packed a hearing room Wednesday night to show their support of a proposal to rezone 1,300 acres of land for a power plant. The Elmore County Commission will discuss and decide the rezone at a future hearing, which hasn’t yet been announced.

    The commission heard four hours of testimony from than 36 supporters and 32 opponents of the rezone. Alternate Energy Holdings Inc., which is proposing to build a nuclear plant at the site, submitted an additional 240 signatures in support of the rezone Wednesday night, bringing total signatures in support to 1,600, about half of them from Elmore County.

    The meeting was held at the Mountain Home Junior High School and more than 400 people showed up to an AEHI-sponsored table on the sidewalk by the school to submit resumes and letters of interest about jobs; most of these people also went to the county commission hearing to emphasize the need for economic development. AEHI is committed to hiring locally and wanted to collect worker information now due to the need to phase in workers over a number of years. Company officials have said the high number of former and current military personnel in Elmore County make it an ideal place for finding prospective employees, who must have clean backgrounds.

    Supporters said the rezone is a private property and jobs issue, while opponents said the landowner shouldn’t be entitled to rezone his land. Opponents, including several farmers who live next to the property, repeatedly referred to the property as “our farm land” said they would like to farm it themselves (although they did not buy it when it was for sale recently), which couldn’t happen if it were rezoned. Gillispie pointed out the nuclear plant would have a footprint of only 200 acres, leaving most of the remaining 1,100 acres for farming.

    The company’s 2007 economic study, based on other American nuclear plants, calculated AEHI’s proposed plant would grow employment in Elmore and Owyhee counties by 25 percent and generate 4,230 jobs statewide during construction, including a total annual payroll impact of $839 million. It would also generate 1,004 annual jobs statewide during operation during its 60-year lifespan, with an annual statewide payroll impact of $57 million. Average annual wages would be $80,000 for plant employees and $33,536 in industries indirectly affected. Total annual labor income impacts in Owyhee and Elmore counties during operation would be $52.3 million. Opponents also said the company’s claims about job creation were part of a “marketing plan” but did not provide any evidence to refute the company’s job analysis. Some opponents discounted the depth of the economic crisis facing the nation and state and the need for additional non-agricultural jobs in Elmore County.

    Supporters noted the nuclear plant would emit no odor, smoke, dust or noise. Gillisipie’s PowerPoint showed photos of nuclear plants with cows and farm fields next to them, but opponents avoided mention of these photos. Supporter also noted the Boise area has had to turn away major employers because of lack of energy, arguing that rezoning the land would be in the county’s interest.

    The Idaho Energy Complex ( will be a large advanced nuclear reactor with low cooling water requirements located about 65 miles southeast of Boise, in Elmore County. Company officials plan to submit a Combined Operating License Application to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission in 2010. The approval process is expected to take three years and cost $80 million. Construction could begin as soon as late 2012 and finish with power generation beginning in late 2016.

    Information: and

  98. I happened to see a picture in the New York Times today in a bookstore of a group of Colombian women sitting, looked like semi-naked, in a meeting. They had been removed from some area, after having been caught between the drug groups and some other group, didn't read the article.

    Nice looking womem, really. Sad as hell. Can't recall the area of Colombia, somewhere out in the outback where fighting has been fierce.

  99. Colombia suffers no shortage of nice looking women.

  100. Blogger trish said...

    "Linear and Habu are hooked up with the same source, I see"

    Look at it this way, Trish. When the story finally breaks, you can say you saw it first here. Maybe.

  101. I thought that WAS the story.

  102. Okay, now try to imagine patrolling among the boats fishing everyday out on the Grand Banks off our New England coast, and then responding
    to a distress call from down around the waters between Florida and the
    Bahamas. Three points for you to consider here:


    (1) Time-Distance-Speed relationships for ships on the high seas, for instance, at a 25-knot SOA (Speed Of Advance) it takes 24 hours to make good 600 nm— BAINBRIDGE did.

    (2) Fishermen work on the high seas, and

    (3) The best place to hide as a “fisherman” pirate is among other fishermen. Early Wednesday morning, 4/8/2009, MV ALABAMA is at sea in the IO about 300 miles off the (east) coast of Somalia en route to Mombassa Kenya.
    Kinda gels with Linear's account

  103. Blogger trish said...

    I thought that WAS the story.

    Thu Apr 23, 11:05:00 PM EDT
    Blogger trish said...

    Passed on by chatty SEALs.

    Thu Apr 23, 11:21:00 PM EDT

    Nah, Trish. This is the story, or at least part of it.

    I talked with SEAL #2 (one of my more useful pals) and he was upset his shot went through the “pirate’s” left nostril (resulting in instant death). He was aiming for a mouth shot (so the pirate would still have consciousness for a minute or so before going nite nite) but the raft bobbed an INCH unexpectedly.

    Trust me - these folks do not like to miss by an inch.

    He is punishing himself with extra time on the shooting range so his next shot hits its intended destination.

  104. Interesting link, Sam. Good find.


    When you untwist your panties, I know you'll be tellin' me that the real deal Seals wouldn't be spouting off like that, etc.

    You'd be right.

    But back to the story. The story I'm waiting to see validated is that the Annointed One dithered and dallied, issuing his feckless ROE, and then put his spin meisters to work promoting himself.

    That's the story.

  105. That's the story.

    Not to diminish the SEALS, Cpt Phillips, the Bainbridge, or the rest of the supporting players, but the story that will come out eventually is the one we've become all too familiar with. Call it a side story if you will.

    I won't insult you by spelling it out further.

  106. concensus comes with a price.-

    I'm just beginning to understand.


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