“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, October 08, 2009

Obama and his Generals

What is a future military victory in Afghanistan? Some say we can create a national army that will fight the Taliban. We cannot teach the Afghans how to fight, they have had plenty of practice doing that. When not fighting invaders they fight amongst themselves.

They could remind us how to win. We used to know how to do that and we did it.

Will we speak war in a language the Afghans understand and kill offending tribes, destroy their villages and fields? Will we destroy their will to resist as we did to the Japanese and the Germans? Will be cower them and offer the sword or the cross and convert them to Western ideologies? No, but that is how military victory is achieved.

That is not the way of modern mankind.

Will we reduce their love for opium? It has increased since the Taliban were ousted and is now traded throughout all of Europe. Opium is used to addict young woman from Eastern Europe who are then traded through Muslim Albania and Kosovo to Western Europe and the Middle East.

Will nineteen year old marines, the products of American high schools spread a superior culture to the Afghans?

Will woman be liberated? Will there be religious tolerance? Will tribalism be dispersed and political grievance be debated and settled by constitution and law? Will a father accept his daughter's decision to marry a Christian? Will a town or village accept a Christian church?

What will change in Afghanistan that will be worthy of thousands more Americans killed and tens of thousands more maimed?

Is Afghanistan worthy of the expenditure of US treasure borrowed from the Chinese, while the Chinese increase economic and military strength on a global scale. Consider the absurdity of the US wasting assets in Afghanistan trying to convert Islamic fundamentalist minds and hearts while China buys up resources in the Americas by the billions using US dollars.

Our cost of running Government in the US is in deficit $1.4 trillion this year alone. How does that improve US security?

The stated and restated US strategy is eliminating al-Qaeda, but al-Qaeda has substantially dispersed and relocated. Islamic extremism has metastasized into the Internet and has established itself in Muslim communities in every country including the US.

Multiple invasions of Afghanistan have not reduced Islamic fervor; It has made it worse both in Pakistan and Afghanistan. The same occurred in Iraq. Saddam Hussein restrained religious extremism in Iraq, but today extremism is more prevalent than it has ever been.

There is simply no evidence that the US and its allies are going to make an Islamic country less militant by occupying it.

We do not have the courage to identify the real problem which is embedded in the religion itself. Islam is the problem. We choose not to accept that. Our leaders specifically deny it.

The Bush Administration convinced itself and much of the country that it would rescue Iraq from itself. Freedom bells would ring and all would be well . A new dawn would arrive and change would sweep through the Islamic world. Bush sincerely believed in a reverse domino effect. A new age of enlightenment would overwhelm the thinking and culture of 1.5 billion Muslims.

How has that worked out?

Obama does not believe for one minute in the mission in Afghanistan. He is not going to give his generals what they say they need. That could be a good thing because politicians and generals are often wrong in both concert and in opposition.

However, Obama does not have the courage to take a stand of conviction, act upon it, and see it through regardless of the political consequences. We will plod on.


  1. The Taliban have issued an English-language statement claiming they pose no international threat – a move that will fuel the debate among American and European policymakers over whether the hardline Afghan insurgent group can be split away from the international militants of al-Qaida.

    The statement came amid reports that Barack Obama's military advisers are shifting the focus of US operations to target al-Qaida in Pakistan while downplaying the threat posed to America by the Taliban.

    Published on the eighth anniversary of the first coalition strikes on Afghanistan in 2001, the Taliban communique declares the militants' aim to be the "obtainment of independence and establishment of an Islamic system".

    "We did not have any agenda to harm other countries including Europe nor we have such agenda today," said the statement, which was posted on a known Taliban website on Wednesday.

    "Still, if you want to turn the country of the proud and pious Afghans into a colony, then know that we have an unwavering determination and have braced for a prolonged war."

    Though the statement's authenticity is yet to be confirmed, the claim would appear to be evidence at the very least that the Taliban are seeking to influence the strategic argument in the west.

    The statements may equally be a sign that senior Taliban figures are reassessing the movement's longstanding – though often tense – alliance with al-Qaida.

  2. George Marshal, after Pearl Harbor, started digging through the U.S. Officer Corps trash until he found a Lt. Col. that seemed to have a little sense. He, immediately, started promoting Dwight Eisenhower over the heads of hundreds of more Senior Officers until he got him where he wanted him.

    Such things are possible in War (if you have a George Marshall, which we don't.) Such things Are Not possible in Peace-time.

    We have Generals that know how to go to Diplomatic functions, and write books. I've seen no evidence that we have any generals that actually know how to "Fight" a War.

    Doug's link to the Battle of Wanat drives this home. McChrystal's recent actions, such as wanting the troops to quit wearing their body armor, reinforce this.

    Our Generals are spending their money on "public Relations" when they should be pounding the desk for more helicopters, more air support, more fast-reaction forces.

    Our Cadets are studying the art of drinking tea, and upon attaining command allowing their Companies to get pinned down in the "low-ground." Our troops are dying due to a lack of indirect fire support.

    It's a freakin' mess. Our troops need to catch a break. We need a Marshall, Eisenhower, and Patton, and we've mopey, dopey, and loopy.

  3. Is anyone naive enough to belief Congress will actually cut $400 - $500 billion in Medicare/Medicaid fraud and abuse?

    Murtha's Airport for No One

  4. This comment has been removed by the author.

  5. rufus has it correct...

    If you wish to win... fight...

    If you wish to play with yourself and act like your playing war.. continue the present course...

    the sad fact is that we are sacrificing the LIVES of AMERICANS....

    Armies are put in place to defeat enemies...

    Currently in the west there is a distaste for actually using the weapons we have developed to proctect ourselves from the barbarians at the gate..

    Israel is hauled infront of the UN for war crimes when using the least extreme measures against an enemy that targets civilians and uses it's own people as human shields...

    American solders are refused air cover from taliban attack because they use women and children to haul ammo to them...

    at what point will the west wake up and realize the war needs to prove a lesson to those who wish to attack us?

    the longer we wait? the harsher the lesson will be...

    Islam needs real reform and there is ZERO movement from within islam { shia or sunni } to make this needed reform...

    I advocate (before it's illegal) to have the black stone destroyed.. al-Hajar-ul-Aswad in arabic it is one of the 5 pillars of islam..

    islam believes (due to it's successes) that allah is on her side...

    it's time for allah to not protect them from having one of their most important symbols vaporized...

    if you query of me "how would you like it if..."

    I would answer you as follows...

    Jewish holy sites have NEVER NOT been subject to total destruction since the start of Jewish times..

    From the Great Temple (2 times) to 10's of thousands of Jewish synagogues spread thru out the lands that islam and christendom now control lands have been stolen, synagogues destroyed or converted into mosques or churches..

    It;s time for Islam to get a boot in it's ass...

    dont agree?

    fine, enjoy fighting whack a islamic mole for the next 500 years as they bleed you dry in every city, town state and nation of the world....

  6. The Muslims are not bleeding US, we are doing it to ourselves.

    No reason to blame ignorant sectarians for our lack of leadership. Which is systematic, now, not a failure of either particular branch of Federal Socialists in the US government.

    But both, working in concert.

  7. You underestimate POTUS:
    I fully expect him to listen carefully to the advice and consul of General Joe (the Mouth) Biden.

  8. Biden seems to be counselling Obama to do as 2164th has suggested the correct approach should be - Pullback and strike from the air when deemed appropriate.

  9. Gates blames past lack of troops for Taliban edge

    WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Defense Secretary Robert Gates blamed the Taliban's revival on a past failure to deploy enough troops to Afghanistan and said U.S. forces would not withdraw whatever the result of President Barack Obama's strategy review.

    "We are not leaving Afghanistan. This discussion is about next steps forward and the president has some momentous decisions to make," Gates said in a TV program taped at George Washington University on Monday and being aired by CNN on Tuesday.

  10. Re: "strike from the air when deemed appropriate."

    That worked so well before 9/11, it deserves another try.

  11. BANGKOK — There are plenty of needy countries at the U.N. climate talks in Bangkok that make the case they need financial assistance to adapt to the impacts of global warming. Then there are the Saudis.
    Saudi Arabia has led a quiet campaign during these and other negotiations — demanding behind closed doors that oil-producing nations get special financial assistance if a new climate pact calls for substantial reductions in the use of fossil fuels.
    That campaign comes despite an International Energy Agency report released this week showing that OPEC revenues would still increase $23 trillion between 2008 and 2030 — a fourfold increase compared to the period from 1985 to 2007 — if countries agree to significantly slash emissions and thereby cut their use of oil. That is the limit most countries agree is needed to avoid the worst impacts of climate change.
    The head of the Saudi delegation Mohammad S. Al Sabban dismissed the IEA figures as “biased” and said OPEC's own calculations showed that Saudi Arabia would lose $19 billion a year starting in 2012 under a new climate pact. The region would lose much more, he said.
    “We are among the economically vulnerable countries,” Al Sabban told The Associated Press on the sidelines of the talks ahead of negotiations in Copenhagen in December for a treaty to replace the Kyoto Protocol, which expires in 2012.

  12. My conga line does not discriminate against the patently ignorant.

    Just sayin'.

    Everybody's welcome, rufus.

  13. McCrystal's "Plan" is designed to fail.
    Without 300,000 or so Afghans stepping up, which is the cornerstone of his "Plan".

    Looks like Obama has found his own "backstabbing" Federal agency. Bush had the CIA doing him dirt, Obama has the Pentagon.

    Things remain on course and speed, in DC, amongst the Washingtonians.

  14. This old clip just crossed my desk again. It bears repeating...repeating...repeating...Wafa Sultan, PhD

  15. Foreclosures mark pace of enduring U.S. housing crisis U.S. Reuters

    MIAMI (Reuters) - Every 13 seconds in America, there is another foreclosure filing.

    That's the rhythm of a crisis that threatens to choke off hopes for a recovery in the U.S. housing market as it destroys hundreds of billions of dollars in property values a year.

    There are more than 6,600 home foreclosure filings per day, according to the Center for Responsible Lending, a nonpartisan watchdog group based in Durham, North Carolina. With nearly two million already this year, the flood of foreclosures shows no sign of abating any time soon.

    --- delinquencies continue to rise. And that adds risk to any relatively upbeat assessment, since foreclosures depress the value of nearby properties while eroding the net worth of homeowners and the tax base for communities nationwide.

    The Center for Responsible Lending says foreclosures are on track to wipe out $502 billion in property values this year.

    That spillover effect from foreclosures is one reason why Celia Chen of Moody's says nationwide home prices won't regain the peak levels they reached in 2006 until 2020.

    In states hardest-hit by the housing bust, like Florida and California, the rebound will take until 2030, Chen predicted.

  16. A wise man once said to me, "All you have to do is let people open their mouths."

  17. Conga lines are for "Generals," Trish.

    The ordinary soldiers are too busy trying to survive the idiot Generals' "strategeries, and delusions.

  18. More concerned with conga lines than supply lines.

    The party has moved to the Embassy in Kabul.

  19. Who wants to ask the parents of those Marines that died waiting for Artillery Support that never came if "They" want to join a "Conga" Line?

    Diplomats, and Generals fight inconvenience, and boredom (and do "Conga" Lines.) Soldiers, and Marines "Fight for Their Lives." (in the "valleys", while the Taliban, with Real leader, fire down on them from the High Ground.

    Let's hear it for the "Conga Line."

  20. Rufus

    I think you are misguided on some issues and misinformed on others but I've always thought you were a man with a good heart and have never doubted your sincerity.

    In addition: any man who has been in a firefight with the enemy is entitled to his opinion.

    If any person on this site is entitled to an opinion, it is you. You have earned it.

    Some may say that your opinions about war are patently ignorant. I say: How the fuck would they know?

    Everyone on this site, with the exception of Ash, knows how to talk the talk. But you, Rufus, have walked the walk and for that you have my undying gratitude.

  21. "Conga Lines" For Freedom!

    Has a Nice "Ring," don't you think?

    Let's run it past the 10th Mountain, and see what they think.

  22. Viktor, the unsaid emotion of all enlisted is, "Take my Life "If Need Be," but, "Please Don't Waste It."

    Our Men (and Women) deserve better "Leadership," and Support than they're getting.

  23. I'm sorry. That wasn't funny.

    Except it was.

  24. Meanwhile, in other news - Oil, and Gasoline Markets are on fire. Perhaps This Report to the UK Government might have something to do with it.

  25. Comment by Sabin Figaro @ Bubbleblog

    The big picture is that our system does not work long-term. It is an anti-algorithm: In the short-term we appear to have prosperity. In the long-term we have un-serviceable debt.

    Like any Ponzi scheme, it works well for a season. The summer of love is over, the leaves are falling, and the Kontradieff winter is closing in. Even a student of the Depression can’t stop it. Most of us will survive though, just maybe with less bling and designer everything. If we can just avoid WW-III, it’ll be OK.

    Got rum?

  26. 30 year bond sale falls flat.
    Gee, whata surprise.

  27. This is the most lucid, and accurate article I've read in a "Major" Newspaper regarding, Solar effects on Cloud formation, and Warming/Cooling.

    This is why Iran is, always, to be taken seriously. The Tehran Times - Svensmark's Theory

  28. I believe the sun is central to Earth's heat balance, but it would have been nice for the Persians to include occaisional explanations for the layman, such as:
    "Lower nuclei formation results in Y
    and means X...

    Back in my younger days, I liked figuring out that stuff in my head.
    Now I'd rather have someone else tell me in plain English.

  29. Victor, have I mentioned that there was a little Bud Light involved in my "enlisting?" :)

  30. Bud Light?? You'd drown before it affected your judgment!

  31. Some Folks' judgement starts off from a little higher altitude than others', Ash. :)

  32. oh, ok, altitude, that's a mitigating factor. I guess a six-pack of Bud Light consumed while sitting atop Mt. Everest could have some effect.

  33. A new report shows lesbians being disproportionately denied a place in the military conga line.

    To the Girls

  34. I see on the Drudge Report a byline from the NYT (Ash's "go to" for all the latest news and opinion (scratch news))about Big Bird's ascent from slavery. Are we supposed to feel sorry for her?

    Ann Coulter wonders if FLOTUS will pay reparations to herself....

  35. In Escaping the Graveyard of Empires, Mallou Innocent paints Afghanistan as hopeless and one of her conclusions/suggestions is that we begin to withdraw immediately.

  36. Cato?

    You've got to be shitting me.

  37. Have fun exploring your inner whatever, anyway.

  38. AP - WASHINGTON – President Barack Obama is prepared to accept some Taliban involvement in Afghanistan's political future and will determine how many more U.S. troops to send to the war based only on keeping al-Qaida at bay, a senior administration official said Thursday.

    The sharpened focus by Obama's team on fighting al-Qaida above all other goals, while downgrading the emphasis on the Taliban, comes in the midst of an intensely debated administration review of the increasingly unpopular war.

    The article also states that Obama is committed to preventing the fall of Kabul. That doesn't sound encouraging.

  39. Are you surprised at CATO or me for linking to them?

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  41. I removed the Cato video because this is Deuce's post. Go to Cato if you want to hear it and click on Eight Years in Afghanistan

  42. Okay. Let me try that again:

    I cannot take seriously any Republican who arbitrarily, whimsically links to Cato. I can't.

  43. I went to a U2 concert last night and afterwards spent the wee hours in a Conga line.

  44. And, as I recall it was a certain barflyess who had to have her weekly Cato fix.... >:(

  45. Indeed, whit.

    Cato took part in a foreign affairs symposium a few years ago, and concluded that they'd never get the Republicans back.

    Lo and behold, they were never there.

  46. I doubt Rufus' Guardian UK peak oil/global warming article had as much to do with the price rise of oil as did the Fisk hatchett job. Regardless of whether Fisk is willing accomplice or a dupe, in the wake of his article, gold and oil rose as the dollar fell.

  47. Whit, it's all tied together.

  48. I saw something in my local rag today re Oil inventories being up, demand down, yada yada yada, but the underlying driver of all things speculative seems to be the fragile US dollar.

  49. Ash, the oil bulls won't sell because they're betting that the consumer, and vehicle miles traveled is coming back, and it will become obvious that there's not enough potential production to go around.

  50. Oz dollar due for parity with US mid-next year. That'll be 1st time since 70's.

  51. Boy, Sam, those guys that were touting the Canadian, and Ozzie Dollars a couple of years, ago, were really on target.

    You guys have got some good times coming.

  52. Hope so, Ruf. Article yesterday said unemployment was down a notch last quarter.