“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, April 05, 2010

Krazy Karzai and Obama's War in Afghanistan

Concern in west as Karzai bites the hand that feeds him
By Matthew Green in Washington

Published: April 5 2010 03:00

The diatribe launched by Hamid Karzai , Afghanistan's president, against the west has sparked a fresh bout of soul-searching among allies desperate to transform him from hindrance to help in their campaign against the Taliban.

The task has taken on a new level of urgency ahead of an offensive in Kandahar province this summer that will represent the most significant attempt to swing the direction of the war back in Nato's favour.

The shock that greeted Mr Karzai's remarks last week shows diplomats are no closer to solving one of the conflict's great riddles: a man almost entirely dependent on US backing to survive seems intent on undermining his main ally.

In a speech, Mr Karzai accused the west and the United Nations of orchestrating massive electoral fraud to undermine his administration and run a "puppet" government.

The remarks' timing, just days after a visit by US president Barack Obama, looked like a deliberate snub to an ally that has ordered an extra 50,000 US troops to Afghanistan to bolster Mr Karzai's government. The White House called the comments "a genuine cause for concern".

Although Mr Karzai later called Hillary Clinton, the US secretary of state, to clarify his comments, the outburst injected newrancour into his testy relations with his allies.

"The analysis is not that he got emotional and went crazy," said a western diplomat in Kabul. "This was done in a calculated fashion. We don't understand what that calculation is."

Mr Karzai has long sought to shore up his domestic political base by casting himself in the role of chief critic of the failings of his allies, particularly those that lead to civilian casualties.

By publicly painting foreigners as conspirators against his government, Mr Karzai took his criticism into new territory. Escalating the rhetoric poses military and political risks. Stanley McChrystal, the top Nato commander in Afghanistan, has based his strategy on convincing Afghans to side with the western-backed government, a task that may be complicated by the president's anti-foreign stance.

Mr Karzai's remarks threaten to reopen the debate among US and European voters about why their troops are dying to uphold his government.

His outburst will reignite frustration in western capitals over the lack of progress he has made in enacting reforms agreed at a conference in London in January that was supposed to herald a new era of co-operation. Mr Karzai has deflected western pressure to confront the corruption fuelling the insurgency by denying there is a problem. Instead of embracing electoral reform, he is seeking to seize control of the watchdog that uncovered widespread fraud in August's presidential polls.

The paradox is that the troops deployed and the billions of dollars spent in Afghanistan should give Washington and its partners enormous leverage. Instead, Mr Karzai has gambled that his allies are so committed to Afghanistan that he is indispensable. The harder his backers push, analysts say, the more he can portray them as bullies to blame for Afghanistan's miseries.

His dependence on foreign support has not stopped him seeking leverage of his own. Pledges to pursue reconciliation with the Taliban increase his capital by holding out hope for peace. By deepening links with China and Iran, he shows he has options.

While the Bush administration embraced Mr Karzai, officials in the Obama administration have wobbled "We're pretty handcuffed," said Marvin Weinbaum, a scholar at the Middle East Institute in Washington. "We find ourselves in a situation where it's difficult to live with him and we can't live without him."


  1. It seems that many have been blinded of the objective, in Afpakistan.

    All it takes is a reading of the Use of Force Authorization,

    the President is authorized to use all necessary and appropriate force against those nations, organizations or persons he determines planned, authorized, harbored, committed, or aided in the planning or commission of the attacks against the United States that occurred on September 11, 2001, and to deter and pre-empt any future acts of terrorism or aggression against the United States.
    Text of S.J. Res. 23 as passed September 14, 2001, and signed into law

    to see that nation building in Afghanistan is a reach, while hunting Osama in Pakistan is clearly permitted.

  2. Voice of America - ‎38 minutes ago‎
    A deadly attack on the US consulate in Peshawar has killed at least three people, hours after a suicide bomber killed at least 36 people elsewhere in Pakistan's northwest.

  3. Those farmers don't make but maybe $100.00/acre, or so, from the poppy fields. If we could just find something they coul raise in that barren, God-forsaken place that would support their families we could "break the back" of the Taliban.

    But, as long as there are poppies there there will be Taliban/Al Queda running the trade.

    It's hard to get people to break old habits. Look at our military. The smartest, and the brightest. Paying $400.00/gal to bring in diesel fuel when they could use poppyseed oil for $4.00/gal.

  4. Thank all that is holy that Karzai didnt annouce he was building some apartments...

    That would have been insulting to the USA

  5. Well, That little "rapprochement" didn't last long. This is from yesterday:

    At one point, Mr. Karzai suggested that he himself would be compelled to join the other side —that is, the Taliban—if the parliament didn't back his controversial attempt to take control of the country's electoral watchdog from the United Nations, according to three people who attended the meeting, including an ally of the president.

    Karzai Slams the West, Again

    By "the West" we mean the U.S., of course. Knew that sonofabitch was trouble when they "picked" him.

  6. It's gotten impossible to find any information on how much oil/products is left in "Floating" Storage.

    If my guess is right we've used-up about 100 million barrels of it in the last 2 months. If so, we might have 50, or 60 million barrels left. It could be less.

    If Saudi Arabia really does have the capacity to add 1.5 million bpd, and announced "Today" that they were going to bring it to market it would "Arrive" at about the same time the 1.5 mbpd from floating storage goes away.

  7. BTW, oil consumption in Saudi Arabia, itself, goes up about a half a million barrels/day in the Summer. Air Conditioning.

    With Demand steadily increasing in China, and the rest of the non-OECD, and the U.S. trying to come out of recession - well, I don't know.

    But, don't be "totally" surprised if we do a repeat of 2008 - complete with "crash" in the fall.

  8. Sweetnam's graph shows us what EIA currently recognizes as known sources of oil that we have the technology to extract. It then shows us the gap between that and what we think we will need. It rather charitably calls this gap "unidentified projects." I would call these faith-based projects. I have no doubt the oil industry will identify new projects in the future and successfully develop many of them. What I have less faith in is that these "unidentified" projects will be sufficient not only to overcome the relentless depletion of existing wells, but also to cause a substantial increase in the rate of production.
    Sweetnam's graph--the first of its kind from EIA--shows us exactly how much faith it takes to practice faith-based economics.

    "Faith-Based" Economics - The Graphs

  9. to solve problems in every aspect of modern life, from biotech to Wall Street to the Internet. In each case, the strategy is to find a series of approximations that converge to the correct answer as a limit.

    And there’s no limit to where that’ll take us.

  10. Last year it led us to Dow 6,000 or thereabouts, if I remember correctly.

  11. As I recall, people refused to recognize the limits.


  12. Saudi cleric announces visit to Jerusalem

    "A Saudi cleric announced Monday on his television show that he will visit Jerusalem next week to bolster Muslim claims to the city.

    "If Sheik Mohammed al-Areefi goes ahead with his plan, it would be an unprecedented trip for a prominent Saudi. Jerusalem is the third holiest site in Islam, but most Muslim countries — including Saudi Arabia — observe a strict boycott of Israel and ban travel there.

    "Al-Areefi told his viewers Sunday on the religious satellite channel Iqra that the next episode of his show would be about Muslim claims to Jerusalem and Palestine. Al-Areefi said he would visit the city next week, though he did not specify when..."

    Saudi Cleric Visits Jerusalem

    Is this merely a one-off, Jimmy Carter or John Kerry type junket; or is it a pre-emptive assertion of claim and ligetimacy by the Saudis?

    From a recent article in the Jerusalem Post discussing a divided Jeruselem:

    "Just who is going to rule in “Arab” eastern Jerusalem? Will it be the declining secular Palestinian national movement (whose sway in the West Bank is tentative at best), or the radical Islamist Hamas (which openly seeks Israel’s destruction), or the annihilationist Al-Qaeda affiliated forces (who are growing in strength in the territories), or the increasingly radical and violent Israeli Arab Islamic movement (which has been the main force behind recent unrest on the Temple Mount), or the Jordanians (who have a superior claim to Arab leadership in Jerusalem under the 1994 peace treaty with Israel), or the Moroccans (who head the Arab League’s Supreme Jerusalem Committee), or the Saudis (who see themselves as the true custodians of Islamic holy sites)?"


  13. I am, honestly, much more worried about who is going to "rule" Memphis, Tn, and, even, El Paso, Texas.

    In fact, there is absolutely Nothing in the entire Universe I could care less about than, "Who rules Jerusalem."

  14. Wifie wanted the man all to herself, screwed up DSL service in search of new, FASTER (true) service. be interrupted, again, for a few daze.
    "The smartest, and the brightest. Paying $400.00/gal to bring in diesel fuel when they could use poppyseed oil for $4.00/gal."
    Do tell, the all-knowing Rufie:

    How we, or anyone else, could buy said poppies for pennies when they can get magnitudes better as raw material suppliers to the drug trade?

  15. Memphis, Tn? Well, ok, maybe the whole Elvis connection thing. But El Paso, Tx?


  16. Quirk said...
    Saudi cleric announces visit to Jerusalem

    "A Saudi cleric announced Monday on his television show that he will visit Jerusalem next week to bolster Muslim claims to the city.

    "If Sheik Mohammed al-Areefi goes ahead with his plan, it would be an unprecedented trip for a prominent Saudi. Jerusalem is the third holiest site in Islam, but most Muslim countries — including Saudi Arabia — observe a strict boycott of Israel and ban travel there.


    I hope that a Top Jewish Rabbi will visit Medina, a historic Jewish trading town in Arabia to lay te ground work to Jewish claims of stolen property by Mohammed, Of course their is a problem with the Saudis allowing any Israel to visit the Kingdom, let alone assert property rights, where by law, it's illegal for a Jew to own or buy land..

    Who will rule Jerusalem? Maybe the people who control it and live there...

    As for who rules Memphis, Tn or El Paso, Texas?

    The better question would be who rules America now in general....

  17. Glad you're ok, Dougie-poo. Look, Bubba, I'm just going by what I see on tv. Every picture I see of those poppy farmers they look pretty damned poor. (Maybe they just parked their Escallades out behind the hovel, I guess.)

    I've, also, heard a few talking heads on telebisun say the farmers don't get all that much for their poppies. If you know better, spill it.

    I do know that you can get about 100 gallons of biodiesel from an acre of poppies. So, if we had to give them $400.00/acre for their crop that comes out to $4.00/gal, which seems, intuitively, to me, a lot less than $400.00/gal.

    If you have access to better guesstimations, please share.

  18. Valero tanker hijacked

    There goes another 2.5 Million barrels into "floating" storage.

  19. WiO,

    Re: I hope that a Top Jewish Rabbi will visit Medina

    Hey, let's throw in a Vatican rep as well. Perhaps the rabbi and priest can do a photo op at one of Saudi Arabia's many synagogues and churches...

    Yeah, that's the ticket.

  20. "He did not expect Karzai's remarks to affect consideration in Congress of the Obama administration's request for funds to pay for the war."

    What war? I don't see any war. What I do see is another big government social engineering project gone bad.

    What would have been the response of the US if DeGaulle had threatened to join the NAZIs?

    Karzai, White House escalate war of words

  21. Inanimate Objects Rebel

    First there was TOTUS...

    Then appeared MOTUS...

    Now, it's Billboards Against Obama...

    Will they be named BOTUS?

  22. My thoughts on turkey bacon: It's edible.

    Many, many moons ago the children and I ate it regularly. The husband did not eat it because at the time the husband was thousands of miles away in Seoul - itself preceded and followed by Some Silly Shit In Balkans (Parts I, II, and III) - safe from all such forays into the uninspiring realm of lower fat, facsimile food products.

    The dogs are apparently even pickier about their bacon, because they refused it altogether and had jerky for breakfast instead.

    Then I had a minor disaster involving highly anticipated grilled shrimp that was an overconfident and ill-timed first attempt at brining the little buggers. We have thumb callouses from the miserable job it made of peeling, never mind eating, them.

    But the little yukon gold potatoes sauteed with garlic and parsley were s'marvelous. And the fajitas were splendid.

    Driving home through Rappahannock County we thought to ourselves, Damn, we need a farm.

  23. The dogs are apparently even pickier about their bacon, because they refused it altogether and had jerky for breakfast instead.


    First real laugh all day.

  24. Oh, yeah, Karzai -

    They need to shoot that fucker.

    I'm very serious.

  25. But we won't. So, we need to find the door. We won't do that, either. Any suggestions. Anybody but Doug?

  26. While hiking along the AT Sunday we came unexpectedly upon a little cemetery. Cave Cemetery, to be precise. There once stood a church, long gone, and most of the graves are marked simply by anonymous, oblong stones perpendicular to the ground. Many generations of the Cave family are buried there within Shenandoah National Park, the most recent burials in 1996.

    Three such had lives that spanned the mid-nineteenth to mid-twentieth centuries and I tried to imagine what it must have been like to live those radically advancing hundred years.

    I was reminded of Stephen Cox's biographical introduction to Isabel Paterson's The God of the Machine. Born in 1886 and passed away in 1962, "she was fond of saying that she had seen both the stone age and the air age. A girlhood in which she 'witnessed the obliteration of the last fringe of the frontier' gave her a dramatic sense of history, the sense of a world constantly transforming itself in astonishing ways. From the impression of her youth she recieved both an expectation of progress and a fear of tragic loss.

    "'Haven't we personally been torn from three countries before we grew up? The Michigan woods. the sage and mountains of Utah, and the prairies of the Northwest. Since then we have loved and lost, above all, the north Pacific coast. All Americans are in the same situation, even if they have moved much less in space. Time has bereaved them.'

    "The novels that Paterson wrote in middle age would often be concerned with the emotions of people who feel themselves bereaved by time. In one of these works, a woman remembers the "wild land" of the West and imagines herself as belonging "to a sunken continent, lost Atlantis....Europeans think Americans are young; we're two thousand years older than they....They've read their history. We've been through it all ourselves."

  27. Sorry. I'm all South Asia'ed out for the present.

  28. While not busy fucking up perfectly good shrimp or being yanked along a rocky trail by two deer-sniffing canines, I was reading Jon Krakauer's Under The Banner Of Heaven.

    I highly recommend it.

  29. Grilled shrimp in camp. Now, that's really roughing it. Was that cabin camping or tent?

  30. beef bacon, all the flavor and more and no other white meat...

  31. Not one more American kid should be asked to risk life or limb in this sorry misadventure. Of course, they are going to do just that until Mr. Karzai gives Mr. Obama the excuse to pull the plug, to the cheers of the American people.

    Mr. Obama has got to love, love, love Mr. Karzai for giving him the out he needs. I have no doubt that Mr. Karzai would be much happier in, say, Paris than his present den.

  32. Tent. We have an "old" Peak backpacker's tent that we've an especial fondness for and we took another, a bit larger, just to stow gear.

    As it turned out, the Peak tent is too small for two-person, two-dog sleeping (we've done it with one dog) and we all four slept in the gear tent.

    I've "roughed it" my share of times, cuisine-wise, simply due to the physical limit of what can be reasonably humped or paddled. This wasn't one of those trips.

    The simpler objective was to get out of the city and to the mountains (non-South American) for the first time in years.

  33. Bob,

    Can you give me one good reason for your making excuses or apologizing to a man you have characterized as "scum"? Just curious about what ails you.

  34. i think obama is setting us up for a teaching moment in afpack..

    he wants us to run and be humble, another vietnam lesson...

    he wants us to loose our imperial great expectations mentality..

    he wants the usa to be 4% of the world in size and power...

    30k troops to afpak is a joke, want to do the job?

    pull 100k of our troops out of the other bases we have spread around the world...

    We do have a million man army...

    if he were serious he'd flood the place and do a powell doctrine on it, when powell had balls..

    but obama want to not have America win.. he wants us to loss our arrogance..

  35. You do realize that in Virginia, God's Own Commonwealth, BEEF bacon might be frowned upon? Like...BEEF ham?

  36. Obama’s Financial Failure

    "Interest rates alone would consume some $900 billion per year, almost five times what they were last year. In addition, the total unfunded liability (the gap between projected assets and benefit obligations) for Medicare and Social Security is $43 trillion; in five years, the total is estimated to grow to $57 trillion.

    Soon enough, and perhaps on a scale he cannot now imagine, Obama and his party will be held accountable for having done so."

  37. But because we have a reserved space in your buried conex for the End of Civilization Blowout, I will give it a try if you tell me where to procure it in my area.

  38. trish said...
    But because we have a reserved space in your buried conex for the End of Civilization Blowout, I will give it a try if you tell me where to procure it in my area.

    you always (and your better half) have a spot in our camp

  39. I spontaneously mastered the Art of Brisket about seven years ago through the brief, remote instruction of someone at Gourmet who seemed quite credible on the matter to me. Served me very well ever since.

  40. It's kind of interesting (at least to me) that the 2010 highest crime states kind of trace the rough perimeter of the US.

    Most Dangerous States 2010


  41. Them midwestern farmers are just too tuckered out to get frisky.

  42. Bob,

    Can you give me one good reason for your making excuses or apologizing to a man you have characterized as "scum"? Just curious about what ails you.
    Nothing about my daughter, Allen, I think I handled that situation as well as could be done, under the circumstances, though my conscience has been biting me on some other things. Aging has been getting me down, though I am still young looking for my age, though I noticed a couple years ago, my body began telling me, things are changing, and a little in my dreams too. Time to read Carl Jung more thoroughly. My back is not bad enough for pain pills, but a constant irritant. I see these old guys around, twenty years older than I, and I don't want to go to a rest home. Not suicidal yet, but I don't want to be like uncle Jerry, years brain dead in a rest home. Happily, I'm not a prime candidate for Alzheimer's, you can check that out with medical tests now, I believe. A little tired of dealing with the impossible, the sands in the hour glass running out, I wouldn't mind setting my sails down the fjord to the other world, but alas, I'm not certain I'm right in my ideas, but they are about all I have. I don't know what lies on the other side, if anything. Will I meet my grandfather, or am I my grandfather? Or is it something entirely different, or nothing at all. It's why I read the books I do, for the hope, and their is reason to hope. Allen, I think you are quite a bit younger than I, and a man wise beyond your years, just don't get any older! :)

  43. He answers, allen, because in his heart he knows I am right.

    His continued responses prove it, as he searches for further justification for his cowardice.

  44. The art of brisket

    trim the fat?

    dry rub with water bath underneath in the smoker?

    dont trim the fat?

    separate the point from the flat?

    to use pear wood and apple wood?

    hickory and mesquite?

    wet overnight marinade?

    smoke for 4 hours, remove and finish in oven at 225 for 5 more hours?

    smoke for 10 hours, trim, slice and mix with top fatty piece (ensuring all bites have a lean/fatty ratio)

    use a vinegar/tomato watery dipping sauce?

    use a thick sweet, tangy and hot bbq sauce?

    serve plain right from the smoker?

    serve as pulled beef sandwiches?

    lightly smoke, trim slice and mix with kasha and bowties?

    take the brisket, fill halfway up side with beef stock and water, cover with ketchup, a bay leaf and lipton's onion soup mix and cook covered for 4 hours at 325....

    so many ways, so little time...

  45. so many ways, so little time...

    Tue Apr 06, 12:42:00 AM EDT


  46. ABC Online -

    A South Korean warship is chasing a supertanker that was hijacked by Somali pirates in the Indian Ocean. The ship was on its way from Iraq to the United States with crude oil worth more than $170 million.

  47. Another Republican "Person of the People" ...

    San Jose Mercury News

    Whitman, the frontrunner to become the Republican candidate for governor, will announce Tuesday that she contributed $20 million more to her war chest late Monday, the Mercury News has learned.

    Just another millionaire elitist that wants to buy a hobby job, Governor of California.

  48. Washington Post -

    The Republican National Committee's chief of staff resigned under pressure Monday, which Chairman Michael S. Steele described as an effort to reassure wavering donors in the wake of a controversy over its most recent ...