“Soft despotism is a term coined by Alexis de Tocqueville describing the state into which a country overrun by "a network of small complicated rules" might degrade. Soft despotism is different from despotism (also called 'hard despotism') in the sense that it is not obvious to the people."

Monday, May 11, 2009

Monday - 11 May 2009


  1. whit describing for US, graphicly, in a picture worth a thousand words, how to combat both the swine and avian flu strains that are threatening the whirled.

    Eat up, lads!

  2. How David Beats Goliath

    When underdogs break the rules

    by Malcolm Gladwell

  3. I would guess Bobby Knight employed a strategy that included at least one thing in common:
    Conditioning to a level always to exceed that of the competition.

    (a full court press all the time would be disasterously exhausting,
    all things being equal.)

    Run them into the ground.

  4. In the David v Goliath Scenario, it would seem to be an argument for intelligent analysis and use of special ops/special forces/force multipliers, and etc. instead of Powell magnitude Regular Army approach.
    ...although that would eliminate much of the payoff for
    "The Long War"

  5. How is eating beef bacon going to cure the swine flu?

    Oh you say that's the other white meat?

    Can't be sure....

    But I will tell you , once you beef you never go back to pig...

  6. I'll take young, free range Pussy,
    thank you, WIO.

  7. Once you eat White Meat,

  8. I guessed RightBob Knight's motion offense emphasizes post players setting screens and perimeter players passing the ball until a teammate becomes open for an uncontested jump shot or lay up.

    This requires players to be unselfish, disciplined, and effective in the setting and use of screens to get open. On defense, players are required both to tenaciously guard opponents man-to-man and to help teammates when needed, although Knight has also incorporated using a zone defense periodically after eschewing that defense for the first two decades of his coaching career

  9. That's the way dad used to like the eggs, a little runny.

    Liked the steaks darn near alive, too.

    One of the old Swedes.

  10. The best fun eating I ever had--the smorgasboard at Worley, Idaho on a Saturday night, in the old days, put on by Leo at Leo's Club, a guy from the south, now long gone.

    I was too young to do the dancing and drinking, but the food--man, you bet.

    All of us would go, the whole family, all the relatives.

    Sometimes nearly twenty of us.

    Everything to eat you could possibly imagine--and more.

    And good too, all of it.

    Where have those days gone?

  11. Oysters, clams, crab....beef, fish....anything you want....veggies, chicken....all you can eat....good times.

    The men polite, though a little drunk, the women willing to dance, the music ground out by a real band, country western mostly....

    O where have those days gone?

  12. I remember Leo, huffing and puffing, trying to keep up with the demand, the tables filled, the people dancing, laughter all around, you could hear it all out in the street, everybody talking, laughing....

  13. Stanley McChrystal! A year late on their part, but not a dollar short.

    ...And there was much rejoicing in the land.

  14. ...until 'Rat chimes in about the Pat Tillman Coverup.
    Wo is us.

  15. This comment has been removed by the author.

  16. Of all the malfescence, doug, the Tillman Affair leaves the most bitter taste.

    Tillman embodied the best of US.

    His Ranger buddies, weren't.
    Not at all.

  17. The other day, the local sports channel replayed the Rose Bowl, from the year that Jake "the Snake" Plummer and Pat Tillman were playing for ASU.

    Really sad to watch, even for a few minutes.

  18. "That's the core of my plan, putting people to work doing the work that America needs done," Obama said in a Feb. 11 speech promoting transportation spending as a way to expand employment.

    Altogether, the government is set to spend 50 percent more per person in areas with the lowest unemployment than it will in communities with the highest.

    STIMULUS WATCH: Early road aid leaves out neediest

  19. I, too, am sorry for the Tillman mishap. Would we know about how he was killed if it were not for the fact he was a famous ball player? I doubt it.

    Which leads to the next thought, how often does it happen and go unreported. Those who have seen action know.

  20. Good that you can still react to Tillman.
    For me, it was so sick that I've gone numb.
    Except to agree that he embodied the very best...

  21. Somali pirates 'get targets from London informers'

    Somali pirates are receiving reports on possible targets from informers in London, a Spanish radio station said Monday quoting a military report from a European country.

    The pirates, using satellite phones on their boats, receive details from their sources in the British capital on the routes, cargos and nationalities of vessels to attack, private radio station Cadena Ser said.

    "The information that merchant ships transiting the zone provide voluntarily to different international organisations ends up in the hands of the pirates," it said.

    The journalist who filed the story at Cadena Ser told AFP it was based on a military report from a European country that she would not name.

    She said the report had been handed over to the military commanders of other European countries taking part in the European anti-piracy operation Atalanta.

    A spokesman for Atalanta in Brussels could not confirm the information.

  22. How David Beats GoliathMoney line, rat:

    “Eurisko was exposing the fact that any finite set of rules is going to be a very incomplete approximation of reality,” Lenat explained.

    A reality I realized early on is that "regulations are usually written to keep fools out of trouble."

    It used to be that if your basic intention was honorable, you could operate on instinct rather than plod along making sure your ass was always covered. In the event things got dicey, you could usually gain forgiveness easier than permission.

    Not so much anymore.

  23. It used to be that if your basic intention was honorable, you could operate on instinct rather than plod along making sure your ass was always covered.

    Many of us have seen it operate up and down the chain of command. Most often at the lower end of the chain.

  24. My apologies for digressing from the Pat Tillman discussion.

    For me, it was so sick that I've gone numb.

    My sentiments also.

  25. Wo is us.

    Mon May 11, 01:42:00 PM EDT

    Because Stan's going back to Afghanistan?

  26. Nancy Pelosi: Since we're leaving Iraq we're going to need better intelligence.

    Response: Yeah, okay. Talk to our friends the Iranians...Next.

  27. Can only agree with the above sentiments about Tillman.

    Guess we'll never know what happened, for sure.

  28. It's really sad thinking about Afghanistan. The spring is coming there now just like here, I presume. We took a drive yesterday around here. All kinds of people living together in peace. Fields worked up, lovely, white clouds over the mountains, rivers full of spring water, wild flowers blooming around.

    It's their religion has got them all screwed up. Illiteracy, brutality, unable to see a beautiful spring day.

  29. Sad like last year's sad? Or 'what fresh hell is this' sad?

    I said before that we aren't going to see a repeat of last year's sad in Afghanistan. And that, of course, was without the promise of a new commander - a more serious choice of which could not have been made.

  30. Ever returning spring.

    One thing about living around here is, when Lady Spring finally comes back, finally comes back, you shore do do do appreciate her.

    Some Greek myths are only fit for northern climes.

    I call that flower Yellow Persephone--

    Yellow is the color of spirituality. Thus, the halos in the art of the Old Masters are yellow.

    And I have read, though don't know if it is true, that yellow is the latest of the colors discerned by the human mind and eye.

  31. And the real poets know spring is a metaphor for a move out of nature altogether.

  32. And the Lotus is symbol perennial of the fecundity of the sacred deep, deep down below, rooted in ooze, rising to the surface, breaking the aqua horizon, and blooming in a brave new world.


    There are no seasons here. Unless you count the rainy and the less rainy, respectively.

    When it's springtime all the time, spring has no meaning. It doesn't exist as spring. And you miss it terribly.

  34. By sweet Jesus Christ, I'm gonna convert somebody, or die trying! :)

  35. Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.

  36. The point is gag, it was no mishap.
    He was triple tapped in the forehead.

    No one did that, with an M4 at over 200 meters, firing up the ridge, from the road.

    The report I read, he was within 20 feet of the muzzle.

    And the only other casualty of the day, another KIA, the Afghan guide, who was no ones buddy, either. But someone that could not be trusted to stick to the story.

    Friendly fire, that I can understand, but Pat Tillman, he was not killed by friendly fire.

    Tillman's autopsy raised doctors' suspicions
    Medical evidence 'did not match' military's account

    SAN FRANCISCO -- Army medical examiners were suspicious about the close proximity of the three bullet holes in Pat Tillman's forehead and tried without success to get authorities to investigate whether the former NFL player's death amounted to a crime, according to documents obtained by The Associated Press.

    "The medical evidence did not match up with the, with the scenario as described," a doctor who examined Tillman's body after he was killed on the battlefield in Afghanistan in 2004 told investigators.

    The doctors -- whose names were blacked out -- said that the bullet holes were so close together that it appeared the Army Ranger was cut down by an M-16 fired from a mere 10 yards or so away

    That was from July of 2007, when more documentation was released under the Freedom of Information act. As wiki tells US

    Pat Tillman - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

    On July 26, 2007, AP received official documents stating that the investigating doctors performing the autopsy suspected that Tillman was murdered. ...

    CSI, medical autopsies, we've come a long way, baby. The cover-up wasn't that it had been a "Freiendly Fire" incident, the cover up was that he'd been murdered.
    The spin that it was "Friendly Fire" which the Army was trying to hide, masterful, really. His death was much more than an accident.

    You're a shooter, gag, think about the probabilities, combining the M4, the angle up the ridge and placing of 3 rounds in his forehead.

    Open sights, of course, or they'd have seen it was Tillman, if they'd had optics.

  37. There are no seasons here...

    When it's springtime all the time, spring has no meaning. It doesn't exist as spring. And you miss it terribly.
    In a mythological land without yes and no, neither up nor down, nor good or bad, a drab perennial sameness, oppressing the spirit, till the mind without a rock to climb upon begins to turn its thoughts to suicide.

    Why are there such senseless tragedies in the world? Why Tillman?

    And yet, we got to have a real world, or we really have no world at all.

    I never did believe Adam and Eve were happy in Eden, and they are better off getting the hell out of there.

  38. You make a good argument Rat, but what I don't understand is why anyone on our side would want to shoot the guy.

  39. "...till the mind without a rock to climb upon..."

    That's a very finely turned phrase.

  40. Money, politics, hate.

    He'd become an anti-war Ranger.
    After deployment to Iraq.

    He was incorruptable, as far as bribes or payoffs were concerned.
    Having turned down millions out of loyalty to the Bidwell family and the Cardinals.
    Passing on another contract with the Cardinals, for $2 of $3 million, to become an Army Ranger, after 9-11-01.

    So any arrangement to "look the other way" would have flown, like a lead balloon, with Tillman.

    But that is speculation, could have been that there was local hostility within the platoon, Tillman did not fit the profile of your average Ranger.

    His personal journal dissappeared, as well. He had been a prolific writer. But whatever he'd been writing of, was lost to US, the Army reported.

    There could be three or four motive scenarios that could be speculated about, but that'd be the reality of it, it'd be speculation.

    The reality of the shot grouping, that is the starting point, not to be dismissed for political reasons.

  41. The Ship of Fools (intro by Katherine Anne Porter)

    The title of this book is a translation from the German of Das Narrenschiff, a moral allegory by Sebastian Brant (1458?-1521) first published in Latin as Stultifera Navis in 1494. I read it in Basel in the summer of 1932 when I had still vividly in mind the impressions of my first voyage to Europe. When I began thinking about my novel, I took for my own this simple almost universal image of the ship of this world on its voyage to eternity. It is by no means new--it was very old and durable and dearly familiar when Brant used it; and it suits my purpose exactly. I am a passenger on that ship.Aren't we all?

    Well, I'm reading it now. The ship has left Veracruz, Mexico, and from the description it sounds like not much has changed there from then to now, and we are on the high seas, all in our cabins, with our thoughts, desires, and lusts, headin' to Germany.

  42. Even on the Ship of Fools, bob, there was a goal, a planned destination.

    We've been steaming at flank speed, towards an unkown horizon, with an unwaivering determination to stay the course and speed.

  43. I'm not arguing with you about that. We do seem adrift.

  44. But, then, adrift might not be the worst thing. The worst thing being heading full steam ahead to the wrong port.

    I love "Huckleberry Finn". Jim and Huck, floating down the Big River, no particular port in mind, always puts a smile in my mind.

    If I had control of the education establishment in America, I'd make all kids know that book backwards and forwards.

    Then, they'd get their degree.

  45. What's your favorite passage, bob?

  46. In Huck Finn?

    oh, jeez, I'd have to think on that awhile.

    Maybe when they're in the cave, watching the big storm, lighting up all the river, waves, wind, lightning, rain, the true meaning of sublime, when you're safe, watching power cut loose.

    I don't know. It's so good, except the ending, it's really hard to say.

    The moral passages are great, but I quess I just like some of the descriptions of things.

    They caught a catfish as long as a man, you know.

  47. American kills 5 fellow soldiers at clinic in Iraq
    By ROBERT H. REID – 1 hour ago

    BAGHDAD (AP) — An American shot and killed five fellow soldiers at a counseling center on a military base Monday in an attack that drew attention to the issues of combat stress and morale among soldiers serving multiple combat tours over six years of war.

    Attacks on fellow soldiers, known as fraggings, were not uncommon during the Vietnam war but are believed to be rare in Iraq and Afghanistan.

    A brief U.S. military statement said the assailant was taken into custody following the 2 p.m. shooting at Camp Liberty, a sprawling U.S. base on the western edge of Baghdad near the city's international airport.

    President Barack Obama, who visited an adjacent base last month, said in a statement that he was "shocked and deeply saddened" by the report, adding that "my heart goes out to the families and friends" of all those involved "in this horrible tragedy."

    There have been several previous fragging incidents in the Iraq war.

    _ Last September, Sgt. Joseph Bozicevich, 39, of Minneapolis was detained after allegedly killing two members of his unit south of Baghdad. The case remains under investigation.

    _ In April 2005, Army Sgt. Hasan Akbar was sentenced to death for killing two officers in Kuwait just before the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in 2003.

    _ In June 2005, an Army captain and lieutenant were killed when an anti-personnel mine detonated in the window of their room at the U.S. base in Tikrit. National Guard Staff Sgt. Alberto Martinez was acquitted in the blast.

    _ Spc. Chris Rolan, an Army medic, was sentenced to 33 years in prison in 2007 for killing a fellow soldier after a night of heavy drinking in Iraq.

    _ In 2008, Army Cpl. Timothy Ayers was sentenced to two years and four months in prison after pleading guilty to involuntary manslaughter in the fatal 2007 shooting of his platoon sergeant in Iraq

  48. Obama praises health industry's vow to cut costs
    By ERICA WERNER – 37 minutes ago

    WASHINGTON (AP) — Barack Obama praised the health care industry's promise to cut $2 trillion in costs over 10 years Monday, taking a sharply different course than President Bill Clinton did 16 years ago in an opening bid to overhaul the U.S. health system.

    Drawing skepticism from lawmakers, Obama summoned representatives of the insurance industry, doctors, hospitals, pharmaceutical companies and labor groups to the White House for what he called "a watershed event in the long and elusive quest for health care reform."

    It was a gathering of strange bedfellows. More than a decade ago, then-President Bill Clinton and his wife, now-Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, designed a health care plan in secret, fought industry leaders over it and lost — setting back the Democratic Party's cause for years.

    If Obama succeeds in lowering costs and increasing access to health care, the meeting will be remembered as pivotal. If not, it will be just another Washington photo-op.

  49. I read aloud to my son for many years.

    I read aloud Huck Finn when he was, oh, eight, I guess.

    I'd never read it, you know, though I was familiar with the story. (My dad was a little disappointed, I think, that I wasn't interested in Twain when I was a kid. We had the first edition of his completed works, him being a Missouri boy.)

    Anyway, it was marvelous. A marvel of storytelling. More than I anticipated. And I threw my best theatrical Mizzura dialect into it.

    The only other writer I can think of that fixes a concept, thought, image in such a beautiful way is Victor Hugo.

  50. Rodriguez as Deputy

    Lieutenant General David Rodriguez, who is the defense secretary’s top military aide, has been picked to serve as McChrystal’s deputy, a new position, Gates said. Rodriguez, who also must be confirmed by the Senate, had been commander of U.S. and NATO forces in eastern Afghanistan.

    McChrystal and Rodriguez will be “a team,” Gates said. “Each brings special skills,” and it is “their combined skill set that I think gives us some fresh opportunities looking forward.”

    While Gates said he was “recommending” these nominations to Obama, White House spokesman Robert Gibbs told reporters the defense secretary already had “asked for and received” the president’s “commitment to this.”

    McKiernan’s removal marks the third time Gates has dismissed top officials. He ousted Army Secretary Francis Harvey in February 2007 after disclosures of deficient outpatient care for wounded service personnel at Walter Reed Medical Center in Washington. In June 2008 he fired Air Force Secretary Michael Wynne and Chief of Staff General Michael Moseley for mishandling nuclear weapons materials.

    Gates today refused to say whether he lost confidence in McKiernan, who assumed command in June 2008 of the combined NATO-U.S. Afghanistan force. Still, Gates said the resignation “probably” ends McKiernan’s military career

  51. How Big Do Catfish Get?--

    There's been some dispute, some arguing that Mark Twain is pulling our whiskers on that catfish as long as a man.

    Mark Twain did pull a whisker or two.

    But I take the contrarian view, thinking it's very possible the Mississippi could give up a catfish as long as a man.

  52. “While General McChrystal has that background,” Mullen said today, “his background is much deeper and much broader” and goes “far beyond just high-end special operations skills.”

    Mullen, speaking in February at conference in Washington on special operations, praised McChrystal for his work in Iraq, including the greater integration of commando and conventional forces and the use of intelligence to launch quick attacks on suspected terrorists.

    “It was the merger of intelligence and operations as we have never seen it done before,” Mullen said. “We should capture” those lessons “in every possible way and the devastation that it caused for the enemy,” he said. “We need to keep that, we need to hang on to that and apply that to Afghanistan”

    To contact the reporter on this story: Tony Capaccio in Washington at

  53. After all, we used to have sturgeon in the Snake River much longer than a man.

    They used to bait the hook with a full chicken.

    There are still a lot of sturgeon around.

    The fishing is very well controlled by our current state laws, as it should be in that case.

  54. It's one of those stories, bob, that both child and adult alike do not want to reach an end.

  55. And the Snake, magnificent as it is, is only a little stream compared to the mighty Mississip.

  56. That's true, I quess heaven might be reading the Adventures around endless bends of the river.

  57. Easily, bob.
    Though you'll not see it, there is a program, titled "Monster Quest", where they hunt the giants of the wildnerness.

    There are many instances of them dealing with catfish and other freshwater species that are "as big as a man".

  58. Thanks, Linear.

    I take that photo as true, not a photoshop.

    I can well imagine that there were catfish of monstrous size in the Mississippi.

  59. The thing I think is sublime about the storm and the cave is it's an image of reality.

    (and I'm not sure Twain thought this way)

    The storm is nature, fecund with violence, but the watcher is that even harder reality that Katherine Anne Porter learned about from her bout with the killer flu.

    Prove me wrong.

  60. His family has maintained his innocence throughout the three-decade legal odyssey. “Now at the age of 89, when alleged witnesses are now dead, he’s faced with having to defend himself again, when with the pain and suffering he’s no longer capable,” his son said on Monday in a telephone interview.

    “You would have thought that after the mistake they made in nearly sending him to the gallows, they would have just let this go.”

    The United States Supreme Court declined to hear Mr. Demjanjuk’s latest appeal last week, and a Berlin court declined an appeal on Monday.
    Demjanjuk Deported

  61. Huck Finn - one of my all time favorites!! It's been a long time since I've read it though...

  62. Wasn't McKiernan the asshole that kept trying to prosecute Marines for attempting to fight?

  63. US defence secretary Robert Gates declared: “It’s time for new leadership and fresh eyes.”

    Gen McKiernan will be replaced by ex-US special forces commander Lt Gen Stanley McChrystal.

    Mr Gates stressed the decision was made “with the approval of the President”.
    Afghan Sacking


    new project...

    how to communicate after the emp

    ham radio?

  65. "He did hundreds of television commercials in the 1960s," says Karen Falk, Director of Archives for the Jim Henson Company. "Many of them could stand alone as comic strips.

    They were very charming."

    After commercials, Jim Henson took a leap into childrens' television, and that medium hasn't been the same since.
    Exhibit Coming to Seattle

  66. The Finance Ministry said Tuesday it has set the coupon rate on the May issue of 10-year Japanese government bonds at 1.5 percent per annum, up from 1.3 percent the previous month in the first hike since last June.

    This is the first time since November that the coupon rate has reached 1.5 percent, reflecting recent rising bond yields in the market.

    Until April, the rate was kept at the lowest level since April 2008 of 1.3 percent for four straight months.
    1st Time Since June

  67. From Australia radio program:

    Presenter: Karon Snowdon
    Speakers:Gordon Weiss, the UN's spokesman in Sri Lanka; Raja Ragavan, Chairman of the Austral-Asian Federation of Tamil Associations.

    SNOWDON: The United Nations warned weeks ago of a bloodbath in the north of Sri Lanka where the last of the Tamil Tigers are holding out. Among them are thousands of civilians unable to escape the fighting.


    WEISS: Well we know that at least, at least 380 people were killed over the weekend. Those were the numbers reported by doctors who are hunkered down in makeshift hospitals inside this tiny patch of land which is about the size of New York, Central Park.


    SNOWDON: So you're calling this as bloodbath?

    WEISS: Yes we are.

    SNOWDON: The Tamil Tiger website makes the claim that as many as three-thousand may have been killed in a single day by what it says was "relentless shelling" by government forces. A spokesman for the Tamil Tigers, Thileepan Parthipan, says the situation inside the rebel held area is becoming increasingly desperate.

    PARTHIPAN: The carnage is going on over here right now and our people are getting killed. The main problem is that we have a very severe shortage of medical items.
    Labeled a Bloodbath

  68. Jamiel Shaw's family sues sheriff over release of alleged killerThe family of slain high school football star Jamiel Shaw II is suing the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department, alleging that the department was negligent in releasing Shaw's suspected killer from prison despite his illegal immigrant status.

    The lawsuit, filed Friday in Los Angeles County Superior Court, names Sheriff Lee Baca as a defendant and alleges that he "knew or should have known that they were releasing a convicted felon and illegal alien with an extensive history of gang violence into the Los Angeles community to perpetrate killings against African Americans."

    Shaw, 17, a running back who was recruited by Stanford and Rutgers universities, was gunned down in March 2008. Prosecutors allege that Pedro Espinoza, a reputed member of the 18th Street gang who was in the United States illegally, killed Shaw. Espinoza, 19, had been released from jail a day before the shooting, after serving time for an earlier offense.

  69. Gee, 'Rat, W was much more compassionate:
    He left in everybody, from incompetent advisors totally botching Iraq, to SandyPants Bergler.
    Wellll, he DID let Libby Twist, so that's 'sumpin.

  70. McChrystal’s Zarqawi unit, Task Force 6-26, became notorious for its interrogation methods, particularly at Camp Nama, where it was accused of abusing detainees.
    After the Abu Ghraib torture and prisoner abuse scandal became public in April 2004, 34 members of the task force were disciplined; five Army Rangers were ultimately convicted of prisoner abuse at Camp Nama.[7][8]

    McChrystal was also criticized for his role in the aftermath of the 2004 death by friendly fire of Ranger and former professional football player Pat Tillman.

    The day after approving a posthumous Silver Star citation for Tillman that included the phrase “in the line of devastating enemy fire,” McChrystal sent an urgent memo warning senior government officials not to quote the citation in public speeches because it “might cause public embarrassment” if Tillman had in fact been killed by friendly fire, as McChrystal suspected.

    McChrystal was one of eight officers recommended for discipline by a subsequent Pentagon investigation but the Army declined to take action against him.[9][10] …

    Normally a routine process, McChrystal’s Senate confirmation was stalled by members of the Senate Armed Services Committee who sought more information about the alleged mistreatment of detainees by Special Operations troops under McChrystal’s command in Iraq and Afghanistan.[16] After meeting with McChrystal in private, the Senate Armed Services Committee confirmed his reappointment as lieutenant general in May 2008 and he became director of the Joint Staff in August 2008.[2][5][17]

    The Captain’s Journal suggests that the real point of conflict with McKiernan was that he wanted a heavier footprint while the Obama administration is reluctant to send in more military resources. “McKiernan wanted a heavier footprint, just as did Mr. Obama during his campaign for Presidency. He continually requested more troops. John Nagl, who is now head of the Center for a New American Security (which, ironically, is currently advising the Obama administration), has stated that up to 600,000 troops would be required in Afghanistan, and advocated such a commitment.” As in many other things, McKiernan’s mission lived and died on the outcome of a debate in Washington. The Captain’s Journal adds:

    In sparsely covered news, there also seems to be a deep reluctance to deploy more than about 68,000 troops in Afghanistan. So another strategy must be employed. It’s difficult to tell with certainty what this strategy entails, since this administration isn’t telling us has declared the metrics for the Afghanistan campaign to be classified. But a relatively good guess might be that heavier reliance will be made on special operations forces attacks on high value targets, which would be more of the same strategy that had failed us so far in Afghanistan.

    In a fortuitously timed article Stratfor attempts to explain what it believes is the key debate in the administration over Afghanistan. Stratfor believes that Petraeus and Obama (with Gates on Obama’s side) are divided over the issue of whether it is necessary to defeat the Taliban in Afghanistan.

    Petraeus argues that the U.S. strategic goal — blocking al Qaeda in Afghanistan — cannot be achieved simply through an agreement with the Taliban. In this view, the Taliban are not nearly as divided as some argue, and therefore their factions cannot be played against each other. Moreover, the Taliban cannot be trusted to keep their word even if they give it, which is not likely.

    From Petraeus’ view, Gates and Obama are creating the situation that existed in pre-surge Iraq. Rather than stunning Afghanistan psychologically with the idea that the United States is staying, thereby causing all the parties to reconsider their positions, Obama and Gates have done the opposite. They have made it clear that Washington has placed severe limits on its willingness to invest in Afghanistan, and made it appear that the United States is overly eager to make a deal with the one group that does not need a deal: the Taliban.

    On the other side of the debate, Stratfor believes that Obama and Gates, mindful that the Taliban can simply hide out in Pakistan, cannot be militarily defeated. Hence Petraeus’s Iraq strategies would be useless against them. Stratfor says that in Obama’s view, a Taliban victory is inevitable in the end. “Gates and Obama are not convinced that the endgame in Iraq, perhaps the best outcome that was possible there, is actually all that desirable for Afghanistan. In Afghanistan, this outcome would leave the Taliban in power in the end. No amount of U.S. troops could match the Taliban’s superior intelligence capability, their knowledge of the countryside and their willingness to take casualties in pursuing their ends, and every Afghan security force would be filled with Taliban agents.” Therefore, it might be better to enlist the Taliban or at least elements among the Pashtuns in a fight against al-Qaeda and remain in their good graces after the endgame. I have no idea whether Stratfor’s reading is an accurate one.

    Those are the different explanations for McKiernan’s depature. Some are strategic in content, others political. What the “real” reasons are will likely be leaked in the coming weeks. But what matters most isn’t McKiernan’s replacement itself, but what it tells us about the new strategy in Washington, which is the key determinant of victory or defeat in the region.

    - Wretch

  71. Huck Finn - one of my all time favorites!! It's been a long time since I've read it thoughTake the time to read it now, Ash. It's one of those books you'll think, man, that was good. I'm glad I reread it.

  72. Jamiel

    of Jamiel's Law, al-Doug?

    Did they ever get that law passed?

    I hope so.

  73. Unfortunately not, they claimed they didn't collect enough signatures despite the fact that the Shaws collected far more than needed.
    What that family has endured after losing their son is astounding from death threats to police harassment, a prosecutor claiming their son was involved with drugs (!) on and on.
    Their strength and bravery is amazing:
    Imagine his young brother:
    7 or 9, I think, Jamiel was his hero and beloved brother.
    Now he fears for his own life.
    Can't call it paranoia, either.
    Very sad, very outrageous what these corrupt politicians are doing to innocent citizens.

  74. Good lord, I was reading the comments on Afghanistan at BC and it amazes me still that people who went ballistic over weekly comparisons of Iraq to Vietnam, are positively shitting their pants over The Other War.

    Was the salesmanship on OIF really that good? Why, yes. Yes it was. A marvel of modern advertising. With about a decade and a half behind it.

    Hopes for Afghanistan, OTOH, are so low that if the Taliban don't retake Kabul it'll be the score of the century. There are definite advantages attached to abysmal expectations.

    It's tedious to pick one's way through the thicket of Wretch's commentary on the change-out, so I'll just say this: McChrystal means business. There was no smarter choice for this war.

  75. Still amazes me you'd allocate much time to the comments at the BC.

    That President Obama fired the General that could not "get 'e done" should be of no surprise.

    That he hired the best General available, to take command, while sending a trusted monitor/minder along with him. Good sport.

    As long as the goals that the US has for the mission in Afghanistan remains classified, the Federal Socialists can always claim success, no matter the outcome.

    As they have in Iraq, despite the US War Aims having never been met. The Tribes of Iraq are still large and in charge, defeating the stated goal the US Mission, there.

  76. The mission statement came out on South Asia Roll Out Weekend.

    It was a little more to the point than that for the awesomest war ever: Ensuring a safe, stable, and secure Iraq.

    And ain't no goin' back.

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