“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."

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

The Taliban, too many to kill, and badly in need of killing.

Those poor modern souls that are the victims of the Taliban cannot be helped at a price that is acceptable to the United States. The Europeans are not coming. The Russians tried and failed. The US helped save Afghanistan from Communism and the Taliban is the legacy.

The world will not accept the killing required. Minds that will not be changed are encased in skulls that should be crushed, but modernity has moved us into an era where that is not politically possible or tolerable to our evolved delicacies. There is no exit price too high to leave them to what they have done to themselves.


Taleban 'kill love affair couple'

The Taleban in Afghanistan have publicly killed a young couple who they said had tried to have an illicit affair, officials say.
The man, 21, and woman, 19, were shot dead on Monday in front of a mosque in the south-western province of Nimroz.
Nimroz is an area where the Taleban have a strong influence.

Governor Ghulam Dastageer Azad told the AFP news agency the killings followed a decree by local religious leaders and were an "insult to Islam".

Dangerous region

Mr Azad said: "An unmarried young boy and an unmarried girl who loved each other and wanted to get married had eloped because their families would not approve the marriage."

Officials said the couple were traced by militants after they tried to go to Iran. They were made to return to their village in Khash Rod district.

"Three Taleban mullahs brought them to the local mosque and they passed a fatwa (religious decree) that they must be killed. They were shot and killed in front of the mosque in public," the governor said.

He said there were some reports that the families of the young couple could have links with the Taleban. The Taleban could not be immediately reached for comment.

Correspondents say that the killings took place in a remote and dangerous region, where the government has no access.
The Taleban ruled Afghanistan from 1996 to 2001 and during that time implemented its austere interpretation of Islamic Sharia law, carrying out public killings and floggings.

Unmarried men and women were forbidden from talking or meeting in public and women were not allowed out of their homes without a male relative. Girls were discouraged from going to school.

Extrajudicial "honour killings" have been widely carried out in Afghanistan since then by conservative families angered by a relative who has brought them shame - usually by refusing to marry a chosen partner.

The Taleban have widened their influence over the past three years and now control many remote districts where there are not enough coalition forces to establish a permanent presence


  1. Another $7 bn down that Pakistani rat hole.

    Oh well, it's only money.

    To bad we've wasted so much of ours on weapons systems that are now culturally dysfunctional.

    4,500 nukes, with no good use.

  2. Since South Asia Roll-Out Weekend, the Admin has demonstrated some pretty tight message discipline: Al Qaeda. Al Qaeda. Al Qaeda.

    Reporter: What about the Taliban?

    Ans.: Al Qaeda. Al Qaeda. Al Qaeda.

    Reporter: Yes, but the larger mission...?

    Ans.: Al Qaeda. Al Qaeda. Al Qaeda.

    (Really, now. What ABOUT the Taliban?

    Let the deal-cutting begin.)

    (How long will this effort last?

    A good long while.)

    (Will the current administration handle Pakistan better than the previous?

    They're running the risk of pushing Pakistan to quit on us. Which, given the abilities blithely and casually associated with this administration, would be a major historical irony. Not to mention a really, really, really bad development.)

  3. The interesting part of the Latin American piece, the author did not give the dollar amount of internal American trade, only the percent of growth, 9%.

    While giving both the dollar amount and the percent increase in Chinese trade.

    It would lead me to believe, the omission, that the internal American trade is magnitudes higher, now, than the $140 bn that Charlie Chi-com did in 2008.

  4. That is an interesting perspective, trish, that the Pakis would "quit" in US.

    I'd say, that except for a false facade, they have never been with US.

    But that is based upon the treatment of Dr Khan and the ISI's behaviour and activities in Afghanistan, NYCity and DC.

  5. US exports $243B to Latin America and imports $345B. Economists are concerned with trends. The US has a further advantage , if it chooses to use it.

    Allow me an example: Intel set up a plant and manufactures in Costa Rica. Those exports to China do not show up as in US statsitics but as belonging to Costa Rica. Likewise, a Colgate (or as the ticos say 'colgotee') toothpaste factory in Latin America selling to Latin America do not show up in US statistics.

    The US has a huge opportunity over China by setting up factories in Latin America.

  6. the time to strike is now:

    HONG KONG (MarketWatch) -- China's property market will likely fall by 40% to 50% in value during the next two years, as transaction activity subsides and as the export sector continues to slump, according a senior Chinese economist quoted in a report Tuesday.

    Cao Jianhai, a professor at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, told the Financial Times newspaper that the current rebound in the property market was unsustainable and driven by a flood of liquidity and fraudulent activity rather than real demand.

  7. Of course we do, we are Americans, just like the Ticos.

    The real question, is GM Brazil, Brazilian, US or American?

    When the folk in the US realize there is more to America than the United States, then we'll come to see that the economic powerhouse of the whirled, it still is in the Americas.
    A billion plus strong. Folk that speak Spanish, English, Portugee and a smattering of French.

    Charlie Chi-com will be exploited.

  8. I'd say, that except for a false facade, they have never been with US.

    - Rat

    I know. I disagree.

    But I don't mistake the ISI for the whole of the Pakistani government. And elements of the ISI itself have been brought along in the past year.

    It is a government we work both with and against, in which case it is not a unique entity among allies - simply a very precarious one that is having to stick its arm down the garbage disposal in response to an insurgency it sees no end of at the moment.

    But we've had this conversation before.

    So we'll agree to disagree.

  9. 'Rat neglected London, other than that, I'll bow to a superior record over more real time data. since day 1, I've never seen an honest acceptance of the reality that is Pakistan by the US Government.
    Rushdie's ex eats Burgers for Us:
    I cannot pretend to be offended by these ads.Young men are coarse, callow, emotional imbeciles with suicidal dietary habits. In other words, from a marketing perspective, these ads are perfection itself, practically verite. Meanwhile, if I put on my magic deconstructing spectacles, I can see neo-feminist subversion in these messages.
    Note the tagline of the Padma Lakshmi commercial:
    "More than a piece of meat."
    This was the cri de coeur of feminism back in the day, and though it refers to the burger, it is also a tweak of conscience to males slobbering over the accomplished actress-author-chef. Take that, you objectifying pig.

    Also, in a culture in which glamour and beauty have been so thoroughly yoked to anorexia, isn't it great to see a sexy woman eat like a stevedore?

  10. "4,500 nukes, with no good use."
    We'd still have 4,499 left if we'd popped a cap on Tora Bora.

    4,494 if we'd used some more, back when it would have made a difference, in Wazisiristan.

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  12. "US exports $243B to Latin America and imports $345B. Economists are concerned with trends."

    For us, Latin America means primarily Central America, the Caribbean, and Mexico, with the great majority of US-Latin American trade resting with a single country - not surprisingly, because we have pursued economic integration with Mexico.

    Our interest in South America, on the other hand, is rather feeble, for a variety of reasons. Our historical ties are weak-to-nonexistent; many of the economies are still severely underdeveloped; and there is a not uncommon suspicion of US policy motives.

    The Chinese are quite serious in their efforts to cultivate South American ties and influence, and South America is eager to oblige its need for resource imports while profiting from foreign direct investment.

    We do forget: Latin America contains a whole 'nother continent. The successful cultivation of trade here is not inevitable.

  13. US exports $243B to Latin America and imports $345B.Why do I suspect that these numbers don't include Latin America's No. 1 "export" to the gringos, "recreational" drugs?

    Bush worked his tushy off in Latin America. Free Trade Deals with Chile, Peru, Colombia (not ratified by the Dems, unfortunately,) and DR CAFTA.

  14. I don't much care what happens in London, doug.

    I'll say this, trish, if I was a foreigner, say Iranian, and the CIA and factions of the US Military were operating in my country covertly, I'd not differentiate between them and the rest of the US Government.
    Even though members of the State Department, both the Iranian and US may urge me to.

    I fully recongnize that there are factions within Pakistan, my position is that unless or until those allied with US show real results, they are inconsequental to ending the War.

    As long as the ISI is operating against the spreading of international peace and prosperity, by supplying the supporting terrorist infrastructure, all of Pakistan stands in the dock.
    And on the gallows.

    If it were up to me, which it ain't.

    But unlike most of the residents of America, I still have not forgotten, let alone forgiven.

    I'd burn large swaths of wilderness, regardless of the population density, until the heads of Osama and Doc Z were delivered on a silver platter.

  15. California, which has one of the nation's largest prison populations, farmed out 170,000 inmates to private prisons as far away as Tennessee in 2006 to relieve costs, and has relaxed its penal code to relieve prison overcrowding.

    Jeffrey L. Sedgwick, a former director of the Bureau of Justice Statistics, said the record incarceration might be worth the cost. "As the number of people under correctional supervision goes up, crime goes down," he said.

    Conservative estimates put the cost of violent crime at about $17 billion, Sedgwick said.
    Drug Offenses

  16. There were other heroes, of course. Take Reza, the middle-aged father who stabbed the pirate's hand.

    That wound eventually became infected, forcing the pirate to ask U.S. sailors to board the USS Bainbridge for medical care Sunday, hours before the Navy assault killed his three comrades.

    The young man remains in military custody and could face charges in the U.S. - the only pirate alive to tell his side of this story.
    Fighting Off Attackers

  17. "But unlike most of the residents of America, I still have not forgotten, let alone forgiven."

    Spare me your Daily Dose of Holier Than Thou. You can shove it right up your ass.

  18. Have arrived at an All-American right wing extremist city, and am making preparations for the big right wing extremist demo tomorrow. Have found a motel that is straight shooting enough to not ban The Elephant Bar.


  19. That can be instructive:

    I went from being a "Versed" alarmist to an advocate in very short order.

  20. After Goldman’s announcement on Monday that it planned to return the TARP funds, other big banks are looking for ways to do the same. Healthier banks are desperate to get out from the government’s thumb, believing the heightened scrutiny and the restrictions on executive compensation could cripple their businesses.

    But senior administration officials made clear they, not the banks, would decide whether to let the institutions return the money, and that would depend on their ability to raise fresh capital in the private markets.

    “We are going to have some separation between the haves and have nots,” said Dino Kos, a banking analyst at Portales Partners, a research firm. “The downside of it is that you are bleeding capital out of the banking system at a time when the banks would be better off with more, rather than less.”
    Top Banks

  21. Doug,

    Spent a delightful 10 days with family on the north end of Oahu.

    I was impressed by the number of big old gas guzzlin' cars and trucks.

    Wouldn't you think the local powers to be would at least try to use battery powered buses? I mean "The Bus" is so ubiquitous, And handy. Send a message with at least a hybrid model.

    And the wind blows all the time yet the only wind mills I saw looked to be old and just part of the local color...

    Is it a nimby thing like Teddie back in Mass that keeps wind power from being utilized? (I mean other than for those amazing recreational uses like kite boarding...)

  22. Collins Bus Corporation has signed an exclusive agreement with Azure Dynamics to develop hybrid-electric Type A school buses. Azure Dynamics Corporation claims to be the only company in the US capable of building a school bus certified chassis with a hybrid system.


    Collins Bus Corporation, a subsidiary of Collins Industries, Inc., markets three brands of Type-A buses throughout North America (Collins, Mid Bus, and Corbeil). It has the largest distribution network of any Type-A bus company with over 70 dealers in the US and Canada.

    Collins Industries, Inc., in turn a subsidiary of BNS Holding, Inc., is also a manufacturer of ambulances (including medical attack vehicles, rescue vehicles and fire emergency vehicles), the US' second largest manufacturer of terminal trucks, and active in the road construction and industrial sweeper markets.

  23. Dolphins Block PiratesNot talking football here.

    If the dolphins are against you, the gods too are against you.

  24. This is unacceptable.

    While some disagree on the best method of addressing the piracy problem, clearly a strong, united response by the world community is overdue.

    To do anything less will only encourage the Somali outlaws, as well as other criminal elements around the world, to profit by seizing vessels and holding them for ransom.
    Response Overdue

  25. gnossos,
    I'm in a rush right now, maybe I'll have a more complete answer when I have some time to think about it.

    Not sure why Oahu has no Windmills, I'd guess because they would represent such a tiny percentage of the power used by Honolulu/Waikiki that they'd be a joke.
    Here on Maui we have a dozen or so big GE turbines that supply 5-10% with bigger farms on tap, slowed down by Electric Company 'cause they say they're not up to speed on dealing with the variations in supply.

    Last I heard, the State had a Utopian Scheme with that Silicon Valley funded electric car group, to build out the infrastructure, etc.
    Lanai and Molokai also have Windmills in the works, including another scheme for an undersea cable to sell juice to Oahu.

    About 15 years ago, the son and I went over to see a Blazers/Lakers game as guest of Blazer assistant coach, and stayed for a while with no rental car, traveled the whole island on the bus, it was indeed handy.

    I'll see if any additional details leak out of the old age-addled brain over time.

  26. "They’re going to be anywhere the wind blows, and that covers a million square miles," said Greg Wortham, executive director of the West Texas Wind Energy Consortium.

    He should have said "anywhere in Texas." There may be competition between counties and regions, but the heaviest action in wind power is in this state.

    We don’t need to prime the pump any longer. And we sure don’t need to be bidding against ourselves.
    Blowin' in the Wind

  27. Doug (and Sam!)

    Thanks. A friend of my son-in-law had gone to Oahu to work on a wind project. But it hadn't come thru so he was getting ready for an around the world trip. I didn't get a chance to talk to him. But it sure seemed sorta strange that they'd brought him over and then the deal just petered out. My daughter said he'd been in Washington and (I think) N Dakota plus some where else. Had booked over $200k/yr for the past 2 or 3 years and didn't really mind the break.

    I guess I was just struck by how many jacked up 4x4's, etc. we saw.

    And how little of the "conservation culture" we take so for granted here in Seattle...

  28. gnossos,

    I grew up in Kirkland.

  29. What's the matter, that some folk remember WHY we WENT to Afghanistan in the first place. It having nothing to do with building roads, promoting allied narcotics traffic, nor stabilizing the Af/Pak border.

    It was touted as a war of retribution, which, per the modern normal, the US military cannot seem to win. At least there are numerous excuses put forth, as to why it cannot be done, with the military that we went to war with.

    Now it has become the proving ground for young lifer wannabes. A place for Rangers and Marines to go to "get some", but with no strategy for acheiving an ill defined victory.

    It's going to be a Long War, still.

  30. Some of US did not need years to come the conclusion that Tony is beginning to come around to, that the crux of the Long War has always been in Pakistan. Discounting the Saudi funding, of course.

    Tony Blankley
    Our view of Pakistan's role in the war in Afghanistan has undergone an ominous but necessary series of shifts. At the outset of the war, in October 2001, Pakistan correctly was seen as a necessary ally -- both politically and geographically -- as it was the primary conduit for our entry and lines of communication into Afghanistan.

    Over the years, we came to understand that Pakistan's intelligence service was playing a double game -- helping us but also supporting the Taliban -- while Pakistan's northern area became a safe haven for both the Taliban and al-Qaida.

    Thus, Pakistan came to be seen as part of the problem that the Obama administration reasonably has taken to calling the "AfPak" war. Gen. David Petraeus recently told a Senate committee that he sees Pakistan and Afghanistan as "a single theater."

    Now another perception shift is starting to take hold: The increasing instability of Pakistan's government makes Pakistan -- more than Afghanistan -- the central challenge of our "AfPak" policy.

    Last week, David Kilcullen, a former Australian army officer who was Gen. Petraeus' senior counterinsurgency strategist and is now a consultant to the Obama White House, said Pakistan could collapse within months.

    "We have to face the fact that if Pakistan collapses, it will dwarf anything we have seen so far in whatever we're calling the war on terror now," he said.

    Kilcullen said time is running out for international efforts to pull both countries back from the brink. "You just can't say that you're not going to worry about al-Qaida taking control of Pakistan and its nukes," he said. "The Kabul tail was wagging the dog." He described the war in Afghanistan as a campaign to defend a reconstruction program. "It's not really about al-Qaida," he continued. "Afghanistan doesn't worry me. Pakistan does."

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  33. The basic perception in 2001, that "Pakistan correctly was seen as a necessary ally -- both politically and geographically"Was flawed, ill concieved and wrongly pursued. Pakistan was, and remains, the major Enemy in our quest for justice.

    And if one does not believe it is a quest for justice, you've forgotten why we are there, in SW Asia.

  34. An official from the United States Chamber of Commerce said Monday ...
    “There’s only going to be one shot at immigration reform. As part of the trade-off for legalization, we need to expand the temporary worker program.”
    John Sweeney, president of the A.F.L.-C.I.O., and Joe T. Hansen, a leader of the rival Change to Win federation, will present the outlines of their new position on Tuesday in Washington. In 2007, when Congress last considered comprehensive immigration legislation, the two groups could not agree on a common approach. That legislation failed.

    The accord endorses legalizing the status of illegal immigrants already in the United States and opposes any large new program for employers to bring in temporary immigrant workers, officials of both federations said.

    “The labor movement will work together to make sure that the White House as well as Congress understand that we speak about immigration reform with one voice,” Mr. Sweeney said in a statement to The New York Times.

    But while the compromise repaired one fissure in the coalition that has favored broad immigration legislation, it appeared to open another. An official from the United States Chamber of Commerce said Monday that the business community remained committed to a significant guest-worker program.

    “If the unions think they’re going to push a bill through without the support of the business community, they’re crazy,” said Randel Johnson, the chamber’s vice president of labor, immigration and employee benefits. “There’s only going to be one shot at immigration reform. As part of the trade-off for legalization, we need to expand the temporary worker program.”

  35. By law, the Fed is independent. The president and Congress can do no more than name its seven governors, including the chairman. The governors share responsibility for monetary policy with presidents of the 12 reserve banks which are supervised by the board; these presidents are appointed by their banks’ boards and confirmed by the governors.

    That Congress may not audit the Fed or approve its budget provides an added element of security. But that may now be at risk. “The role of the Fed has changed dramatically, so the usual defence of, well, we shouldn’t intrude in the integrity and independence of the Fed, I think, no longer applies,” said Max Baucus, chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, on March 31st. Gene Dodaro, who heads the Government Accountability Office (GAO), Congress’s investigative arm, complained that his ability to monitor federal support for the financial system is hamstrung because the GAO cannot audit the Fed’s monetary-policy or lending operations.
    The hyperactive Fed finds its cherished independence is on the line

  36. Kilcullen @ BC 2. Lifeofthemind:

    Let us do a break down of the interest groups in Pakistan and see how we can deal with them.
    1. The potentially pro-Western commercial middle class, the Zardawi/Bhutto faction.
    2. The anti-American intellectual and legal lower middle class, the Narwaz Sharif faction.
    3. The professional military, potentially anglophile and pro-American, the Musharraf faction.
    4. The anti-American, possibly Chinese influenced, pro Taliban ISI military faction.
    5. Ethnic groups, from the half the country that are Punjabi to the Pashtuns that support the Taliban to the Baluchis in the South and others. Here is the wiki chart,

    Punjabi 81,000,000 (45%)
    Pashto 20,790,000 (15%)
    Sindhi 20,520,000 (14%)
    Seraiki 18,000,000 (10%)
    Urdu 12,600,000 (07%)
    Balochi 5,400,000 (03%)
    Others 10,800,000 (06%)

    1. We could try to craft a deal but the problems are twofold, they may not be strong enough to stay in charge and they are so corrupt that we are not sure that they will even stay bought.

    2. Also so duplicitous and corrupt that they are likely to betray each other, the reverse of our problem with Zardari is that even their anti-American allies can’t trust the Pakistani lawyers.

    3. The allies also of the old aristocracy the Army may split apart, can the US or the Indians find what looks like an honorable way to buy them out?

    4. We should know our enemies. If we can’t buy off Chinese support then we need to rally allies to crush the Chinese and ISI influence. The only third choice is to get out.

    5. If Pakistan can’t hold together or if it is not in our interest for it to then we should seek to find winners to ally with. That could mean finding a solution with the old aristocracy and the Musharraf Army and the Punjabis, the Baluchis, the Sind and the Indians that neuters the nuclear threat and pushes the Pashtun threat back from the Indus valley and opens up the road to Kandahar.

  37. In AfghanistanScott Kesterton sends this message:
    As many of you know, I am back in Afghanistan working on a new project. I am staying exclusively in the East. I am currently in Gardez, and will be heading south towards the Shahi-Kot Valley, then southeast towards Bermel near the Pakistan border, ending in areas in the Khowst bowl.
    I have two new blogs, and a Twitter site that are listed below. I hope you follow along.
    * Blog: Where Is Kilroy? (* Blog: Solo Journalism (

    I’ve added Scott to the blogmap on
    I ‘ve also added his RSS feed to the Afghanistan page.
    My goal is to fill out the map with on the ground bloggers, whether inside the US or out of it. In that way, I hope publishers can write to these bloggers directly to commission articles.
    The blogmap, when it gets populated, might be a useful resource in identified where the who are.

    Wider still yet widerRobert Kaplan describes the logic for negotiating with the Taliban in order to “make progress and find an exit strategy” in Afghanistan.
    But halfway through the article the reader will come to the realization that Kaplan isn’t talking about the War in Afghanistan at all, but about something much larger:

    Pakistan, India, Pashtunistan, the Great Game. The discussion is about the Taliban only in the sense that when you talk about a dog, it necessarily includes the tail. Kaplan places the origins of the Taliban in Islamabad — and the region.

    Remember, it wasn’t radicals burrowed deep within the ISI who made the decision to help bring the Taliban to power in the mid-1990s:
    it was the democratically elected government of the western-educated Benazir Bhutto who did that, on the theory that the Taliban would help bring stability to Afghanistan. This history indicates the degree to which talking to the Taliban has broad support within the Pakistani political establishment.

  38. “Winning in Afghanistan”I can’t recommend this talk by retired Brigadier Justin Kelly of the Australian Army, which I had the opportunity to listen to in person, highly enough. “Justin Kelly is a recently retired Australian army officer. He commanded the Peace Monitoring Group on Bougainville, was deputy commander of the peace keeping force in East Timor and was director of strategic operations in the US headquarters in Iraq from November 2006 until September 2007.”

    He had a ringside seat on the Surge and reflects on what it means to win a counterinsurgency. As listeners will discover, it means first and foremost defeating the enemy in a basic military way. Kelly argued that as important as the developmental aspects of victory were, none of them were possible until basic security for the population could be established.
    The first part of his talk is below. Parts two to six are on the Quadrant Magazine website, which, for those who have never heard of it, is one of the premier online conservative magazines in Australia. Follow the link and watch the rest for free.

  39. I was thinking about the London-Pakistan Freeway being a part of the problem, 'Rat.