“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."

Friday, January 08, 2010

US Defense Secretary Gates wants Spy Agencies to focus on Hearts and Minds instead of killing insurgents

Gates backs critique of spy agencies in Afghanistan
Adam Entous
Thu Jan 7, 2010 11:11pm EST

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates threw his support on Thursday behind a harsh critique of the U.S. military's spy agencies in Afghanistan, increasing pressure on them to shift focus from killing insurgents to winning hearts and minds.

The rare public critique by U.S. Major General Michael Flynn, deputy chief of staff for intelligence for U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan, put a spotlight on what some American officials describe as a behind-the-scenes tug-of-war within the U.S. military and intelligence community over priorities.

In his report, Flynn described U.S. intelligence officers and analysts in Afghanistan as "ignorant of local economics and landowners, hazy about who the powerbrokers are and how they might be influenced ... and disengaged from people in the best position to find answers."

While the U.S. military's focus has shifted under President Barack Obama to mounting a counterinsurgency campaign aimed at sidelining the Taliban by winning over the Afghan people, Flynn said the intelligence community was instead still focused on capturing and killing mid- to high-level insurgents.

U.S. hunt-and-kill operations on the Afghanistan-Pakistan border, frequently using unmanned aerial drones armed with missiles, have been condemned by human rights groups and have fueled anti-American sentiment.

Pentagon press secretary Geoff Morrell said Gates found Flynn's analysis "brilliant" and his findings "spot on."

But Morrell said Gates had "real reservations about the general's choice of venue for publication." Flynn's report was issued on Monday by a private Washington think tank, surprising Pentagon officials.

Some saw it as a breach of the established military chain of command and an unusually public flogging of intelligence agencies that Flynn is meant to lead in Afghanistan.

Flynn said in his report that he had directed intelligence officers and analysts to gather more information on a wider range of issues at a grass-roots level, as well as to divide their work along geographical lines.

Pentagon officials said the report was aimed at intelligence agencies overseen by the Defense Department, and not the CIA, which has overseen strikes against Taliban and al Qaeda targets along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border.

"This is internal criticism. It is not directed at our colleagues elsewhere in the intelligence community," Morrell said.

Release of the report came less than a week after a suicide bomber killed seven CIA officers at a U.S. base in eastern Afghanistan, the second-most deadly attack in agency history.

Al Qaeda's Afghan wing claimed responsibility for the bombing on Thursday, saying it was launched to avenge the deaths of the group's leaders. Some of them were killed in CIA drone strikes.

An intelligence official, speaking on condition of anonymity, defended the focus of U.S. spy agencies on insurgents, saying: "You can't be successful at counterinsurgency without a profound understanding of the enemy."

(Editing by Anthony Boadle and Eric Beech)


  1. "You can't be successful at counterinsurgency without a profound understanding of the enemy."

    The US acknowledges that it has little understanding of the enemy, so focused upon killing them, instead?

    That was the gist of that, was it not?

    And now Mr Gates wants to change the focus, from hunting the criminals to paying the "real" movers and shakers some homage.

    Have to wonder just whose head is going to be delivered upon that platter, with this new technique.

  2. I said it six months ago, and I'll say it again:

    Find the Guy that set up the "Anbar Awakening." And, give him some Money.

  3. Or, better yet, (and, this is surely the "real" plan) Come the Hell, Home.

  4. Here in Atlanta, our hearts and minds are as mindnumbingly frozen as Gates' brain cells. ice abounds...27 are wreck on 285W...


  5. Charley Foxtrot.

    Okay, in order to do COIN you've got to be out in the country. Eyeball to eyeball, everyday. Spreading money around and enforcing law and order. Nation building.

    I don't want to do nation building, especially in the goat stoop of man-boy l o v e that is known as Afghanistan. I don't subscribe to Powell's "if you break it, you bought it" policy and I do believe that the purpose of the Army is to kill people and break things.

  6. Mid 60's, sunny.

    Wonderful weather, here in the Valley of the Sun!

    Easy to understand why a lawyer from Idaho would move here, from there.

    The golfers are having a field day!

  7. It's currently 37 here with rain and a predicted high of 40.

    That's pretty chilly by our standards.


  8. PHOENIX -- We're looking at a gorgeous week ahead with temperatures in the high 60s and even low 70s through the rest of the weekend and into early next week. Things should cool down to the mid-60s by Friday.

  9. George Galloway MP deported from Egypt
    BBC News - ‎50 minutes ago‎

    The Bow and Bethnal Green MP has been in the Middle East with international activists trying to take 200 aid trucks into the blockaded Gaza Strip.

  10. 06 F in N. Mississippi.

    I'm thinking we need a little more of that See Oh Two down here.

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  12. 6 degrees you need more than CO2, Rufus, that calls for Cow Farts!

  13. AIG – Geithner Cover Up: The Smoking Gun

    Geithner e-mail

    In then New York Fed president Tim Geithner’s own handwriting:
    "Note that there should be no discussion or suggestion that AIG and the NY Fed are asking to structure anything else at this point."

    It will be enlightening to hear him explain what this statement means. See also Tim Geithner "Protects America From Itself" By Forcing Elimination Of Material AIG Disclosure at Zero Hedge. There are many more documents to come. This story is just unfolding.

    Geithner Urged AIG to Withhold Information; He Must Go

    AIG said in a draft of a regulatory filing that the insurer paid banks, which included Goldman Sachs Group Inc. (GS) and Societe Generale SA (SCGLY.PK), 100 cents on the dollar for credit-default swaps they bought from the firm. The New York Fed crossed out the reference, according to the e-mails, and AIG excluded the language when the filing was made public on Dec. 24, 2008.

    At issue is whether the 100 cents on the dollar payments by AIG to its credit default swap counterparties were a backdoor bailout. Most market watchers believe that AIG counterparties would have received significantly less on the free market, exposing them to tens of billions in losses instead of taxpayers (see CW story from March 2009 on this issue).
    So, in a very real sense, many believe taxpayers were defrauded by the government’s handling of the AIG affair.
    This latest revelation only adds to that belief.

  14. Cold as islamic hell, and I got Miss T pissed at me too

    you people don't knon what cold is

  15. This comment has been removed by the author.

  16. Cold is...nothing ever melts...cold got to put your heavy coat on to go downtown....cold is....not getting the letter that you want....cold is....a diminishing bank accout....and cold is....the wife in a snit

  17. But, I'm gettin' the hell out of here....we're headin' to Ohio, through Vegas....where things are warmer....

  18. Someone broke protocol.

    Defense spy agencies have managed pretty successfully for, oh, fifteen years to keep themselves out of the news (NSA occasionally pops up), letting the Ministry of Darkness catch shit for everything.

    All in all, a happy arrangement.

    Now what? Gonna drag the Boys at Bolling and Clarendon through the mud, too?

    Not kosher.

    Last day, and what a beautiful day it is.

    The high tomorrow at my parents' in western PA?

    21 degrees. By the time I land...considerably south of that.

    My little Colombian doggy is going to be a little shocked.

  19. and cold is....the frost on the windshield....the cat meowing, wanting in....the furnace running, but no heat in my room....the space heater doing its best....cold is....the wrath of God....and his cold breath....

  20. This comment has been removed by the author.

  21. cold is... slowing of the gulf stream.

    that's right were heading into an ice age!!
    (not plausable but not entirely impossible)

    science is fun.

  22. Keep those toes warm, Bob. T'll thaw out before frostbit toes will.

  23. This comment has been removed by the author.

  24. Well according to BET most of their top performers call each other NIGGERS...

    So should they have a box for that?

  25. I am a "Jewish-American" and yet there is no minority status for Jews...

    So I am not counted in any way shape or form as a minority...

    I have never seen a box on any census that said:


  26. Steve: Everybody just calm down. Let's agree to use the the New-Age term "People of Color."

    Mom: People of Color.

    Steve: People of Color.

    Mom: Colored people.

    Steve: NO!!

    Dad: We're leaving.


    That's Great. Thanks.

  27. I advocate for special rights for Jews...

    The most important right I advocate is; Right to eat pizza without having our heads cut off.

    There are no Jewish rights organization, there are no laws protecting Jews specifically. There are no advocates for "jewish rights"

    There are Black, Gay and Woman's rights groups...

  28. In Ms we jist call each other "Kinfolk." :)

  29. Hillbilly Rights!

  30. 'cause "Crackers" is kool.

  31. According to Rat Arabs and Jews are the same via DNA and yet Arabs are counted in the USA as a minority and as a "people of color"

    Jews are white...

    White people have murdered Jews for centuries and never considered Jews part of the "white" race...

    Its so lonely being a Jew...

    Thank G-d I invented Lox and Bagels....

  32. Two arrested on terror charges in NYC...

    and guess what...

    they aint Jews, Swedes, Catholics or Baptists....

  33. Right now, I got the "right" to freeze my nutz off.

  34. Was they "hillbillies?"

  35. It's 12 degrees here...

    I got the right to not burn my nuts off...

    Got a contractor coming our next week for a Natural Gas backup Generator....

    Be Prepared

  36. Prolly from that clan down there in Magnolia. That bunch is ornery.

  37. PLENTY of ammo at our local shooters supply

    Getting my circle of friends to all get Mossberg 500's

  38. Next week?

    Are you sure you're Jooish?

  39. Breaking News: Ball-less Failed Plane Bomber to get PLEA DEAL...

  40. Not much to do except have the contractor come out pick the place for the concrete pad, figure out the gas line, calculate the size and go to Buckeye Power Sales for the Kohler Generator that works...

    sign the paper, pull out the charge card...

    should not cost more than $3,800

  41. 2009 was a record year for me...

    Did it with increased shipping costs, less employees, increased product costs AND a few special product purchases (at deal prices)

    How am I going to deal with profits?

    SPEND on tax deductible expenditures...

  42. I bought a Mossberg 20 gauge for my present to me. This Holiday season. Haven't opened it yet, but it's right over there, in the closet.

  43. As my 'jooish' landlord said with a shrug "If you are paying a lot of taxes it means you are making a lot of money".

    An old guy who made his early fortune shredding old plastic things and making binders and stuff. Now he's got a Plastics company, and import/export firm and they throw the excess money into buying relatively large buildings downtown and renting them out. The kids now manage the buildings...

  44. I like those 20 gauges.

  45. Egypt: Galloway persona non grata
    Jan. 8, 2010
    Associated Press

    Egypt on Friday declared renegade British lawmaker George Galloway persona non grata, accusing him of incitement after his harsh criticism of Cairo over delays in an aid convoy's entry into Gaza, the foreign ministry said Friday.

    "George Galloway is considered persona non grata and will not be allowed to enter into Egypt again," a Foreign Ministry statement said. The activist left Egypt Friday morning from Cairo airport.

    Earlier, British press reported Galloway had been deported from Egypt. They said he was forcefully taken by police from the Rafah crossing with Gaza to Cairo airport where was put on departing British Airways plane.

    A police officer maintained security only escorted him for his own protection.

    "It was to protect him from the Egyptian people's anger," he said on condition of anonymity because he is allowed to speak to the media. "He was told that he is a trouble maker and his behavior is undermining Egyptian security."

    Galloway led more than 500 activists as part of an international aid convoy to Gaza. They entered late Gaza Wednesday from Egypt after a month traveling. Egypt gave them only 24 hours in the blockaded sea side strip before it said it would reclose the crossing.

    On Tuesday clashes erupted between members of the convoy and Egyptian riot police in the Mediterranean port city of El-Arish after the convoy was delayed due to some of the materials it was carrying, and dozens of protesters and police were injured. Seven convoy members were ordered arrested if they returned to Egypt.

    A sympathy protest along the Gaza-side of the border Wednesday degenerated into stone-throwing scuffles and exchange of fire between Egyptian security and Palestinian gunmen, killing one Egyptian border guard.

  46. This comment has been removed by the author.

  47. I would love to see Israel seal off Gaza and open up he skies and seas to the Gazans...

    Then they would not be "occupying" gaza...

    Any and all mortars, missiles and rocket fire could be countered by traditional bombardment.

    Gaza is lost, give it up and then respond by destroying it....

    50% of Gaza cannot exist without ISRAELI water and power...

    The population of Gaza needs to move into Egypt ON IT'S OWN ACCORD and give up the strip

    Once it's sealed off and it no longer under ANY Israel restrictions? It becomes a war zone and then after any attack, Israel can take deserted land and annex according to the rules of war...

  48. mossberg 500... 7 in the mag one chambered. good to go.


  50. Favorite Pistol:

    40 cal Glock 22

  51. How can you have one favorite pistol? I own 10, and they are all my babies....

  52. Gag, I have 2 Glock 40 cal (Glock 22) and I love both of them equally...

  53. This comment has been removed by the author.

  54. I'm a .45 guy. why? As the lady said,"what would you rather be shot by, a .45, .40, or a 9 mike mike?" That's what I thought...

  55. I have good control on the .40 and they dont travel thru as many walls....

    it's all personal pref's...

    Thinking about a glock 9mm for the wife...

  56. Blogger What is "Occupation" said...

    I would love to see Israel seal off Gaza and open up he skies and seas to the Gazans...

    and you were the guy whining about some Pali yelling "kill all the jews". Hypocritical - ummmm, ya!

  57. Ash said...
    Blogger What is "Occupation" said...

    I would love to see Israel seal off Gaza and open up he skies and seas to the Gazans...

    and you were the guy whining about some Pali yelling "kill all the jews". Hypocritical - ummmm, ya!

    No ash, GIVE freedom to GAZA, Seal GAZA off FROM ISRAEL totally, IF the GAZANS then ATTACK, RESPOND...

    Hardly Hypocritical, Israel should not give Gazans anything, food, water, power, medical care.. NOTHING, let their brother arabs in Egypt deal with them...

    again they ATTACK respond..

    what part of that do you not understand?

  58. Allen,

    Didn't realize you live in ATL also. Please contact me via "bar 4 elephants at g mail dot com", omitting all spaces and using normal email syntax, and lets have a beer!



  59. This comment has been removed by the author.

  60. Trish,
    The Detonating Doctor's wife has written books praising Che and OBL!

  61. I've been listening to this Michael Steele this afternoon, interviewed on the radio.

    Head of the Rupublican National Committee, or whatever it is.

    He's a very bright guy, well spoken, knowledgeable.

  62. Consumer Credit Off the Cliff.

    This recession has a way to go. Bummer for Obumble.

  63. This comment has been removed by the author.

  64. I'd like to know (or maybe I wouldn't) what the real GDP is. Consumer spending is flatline flat.

  65. consumer spending that accounts for about 70 percent of the economy.

  66. This comment has been removed by the author.

  67. This comment has been removed by the author.

  68. Some people will try to honorably hold out and continue to make exorbitant (comparatively) payments but eventually, reality has to set in.

    You're right, T. It's only a matter of time. Some people are saying that until we get huge write downs of the debt, the economy will be in the doldrums. Obama's mortgage refi program has been less than stellar because it did not address the actual mortgaged amounts. We could see the write downs and write offs before too long. Credit card debt forgiven, homes refinanced at market value as opposed to inflated bubble prices.

  69. Consumer spending is flatline flat.

    I made some notes back in August when the C4C boondoggle was tingling Rufus's thigh.

    Impacts on consumer spending were predictable.

    From my files:

    "...690,114 deals were reportedly made. Given financing and insurance costs estimated above, and reducing them by 1/3 to represent a ridiculously low estimate of the costs for the average car owners ($382/mo) > 0.67(570)(690,114) = ~$263,554,537/mon."

    That's over a $1/4 billion per month diverted from the consumer spending economy by a conservative estimate of the costs just to own and insure the new cars. C4C also flattened the sales of new cars for the final quarter of '09 with that brief late summer orgy of stimulated buying.

    Additionally, prices for reliable used cars for the folks who wouldn't or can't buy new were artificially boosted by the boondoggle. I just paid a jacked up premium for a nice little '98 Tacoma 4x4.

  70. Now economic experts are just beginning to prep us for the "pain of the inevitable tax increases" which will be required because of the massive Federal deficits and scheduled budget spending for next year. They say that unlike previous recessions, we cannot expect a recovery with rising tax revenues to pull us out of the red.

    McCain today said that Obama is bankrupting capitalism. One radio caller the other day juxtaposed Reagan's spending to bankrupt the Soviets with Obama's spending to bankrupt the US.

  71. Health care plan = A grab bag of grift and graft.

  72. I bought an Iphone and a Blackberry Curve last week...


  73. they both are similar in what they can do, they use different "gooyies" or graphical interfaces

    I can quickly view email, send and sync from the office

    I can phone & address book

    they both have camera and video as well as full internet at fast speeds

    they both have "apps" from mobil amazon shopping to games, weather look up and more

  74. you can use apps to use the device to make it a gps unit, a flashlight, they both play music and mpeg videos

  75. "The Detonating Doctor's wife has written books praising Che and OBL!"


    I'm waiting for the punchline.

    You know, I never got to ride a Chiva bus. Not that I ever really, really wanted to, but still.

    Someday in the not-too-distant future the RSO will further loosen the leash and it'll be the thing to do when you're too drunk to do anything else but not yet ready to go home.

    How long before we can come back? It'll probably be just that long.

    Chiva! Chiva! Chiva!

  76. We did live dangerously the other day and dined *streetside*.


  77. Cool.

    Thank you.

    I wonder if I get reception in the middle of the Sierra Nevada. Last time I tried to use a cell phone up there, I wound up walking 7 miles through the snow at 3 am. Scrapped the damn cell phone.

    Pay Phone booths are getting hard to find.

    I know. That's my problem. :-)


  78. (Don't mind me; I'm craftily procrastinating.

    (I figure if I don't get started packing very soon, someone - with unhappy visions of tomorrow morning in his head - will do much of it for me.)

  79. Chiva?

    Are those like the little jitny buses, ten passenger vans recycled from an Oregon logging camp, bedecked with pompoms and wildly painted exteriors whose drivers race each other up the mountain grades in Guatemala? ...passing on blind curves with a load of passengers and playing chicken on the straightaways?

    If so, you should go right back and ride least once.


  80. Chiva music:

    (Supermarket music.

    Hardware store music.

    Restaurant music.

    Taxi music.

    When-the-housekeeper's-working music.

    Rest home music.)

  81. It's an open-air, music-blaring beer bus that just goes round and round and round North Bogota. Vomit-slicked floor after 11 PM, natch.

  82. linearthinker said...

    Thank you.

    I wonder if I get reception in the middle of the Sierra Nevada. Last time I tried to use a cell phone up there, I wound up walking 7 miles through the snow at 3 am. Scrapped the damn cell phone.

    you can actually found out what towers cover what areas before you buy, not sure about your area, but a buddy of mine actually use that info to decide which carrier to use..

  83. "...passing on blind curves with a load of passengers and playing chicken on the straightaways?"


    THOSE are our official embassy drivers.

  84. you can actually found out what towers cover what areas before you buy, not sure about your area, but a buddy of mine actually use that info to decide which carrier to use..

    True. A must up in my neighborhood. Usually it's ATT. My last exchange with ATT, I told them I'd never do business with them if they were the last phone service in the world, and my only option was 2 tincans and a string...I was cut off and my calls were blocked.

    I read in the last week that they're bitterly criticized in NYC, and they had to admit their service there sucks.

  85. Score!

    Aren't husbands wonderful?

  86. You ought to be ashamed.

    Did you learn that trick from you kids, or they from you?

    What goes around, comes around.


  87. "You ought to be ashamed."

    Something up the ass this evening, Linear?

    Knock it off.

    It's his wife's last night on the rooftop refuge - in the city of the country where she endured much.

    He knows this. And he's a nice guy.

  88. Lighten up, Trish.

    I was only joking.

  89. You won't enjoy being outside tomorrow night. :-)

    Temp approaching zero in ARKANSAS.


  90. You won't enjoy being outside tomorrow night. :-)

    - Linear

    Oh, I will. For about five minutes outside the airport.

    Coming down from 9,000 ft., all that oxygen! And I'm not kidding. You feel it immediately.

    I am, however, the sole family member granted permission to smoke in my parents' cavernous garage. Which is right now about 25 degrees above the outside temp. But they also put in a space heater.

    "Lighten up."

    Gonna take a few years' unwinding. And it's still at least a year and a half away.