“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 19, 2010

Obama golfs 32 times since taking office. Gates Tells Him to Wake Up Over Iran.

Gates warns Obama US lacks Iran policy in secret 'wake-up call' memo

Robert Gates, the Pentagon chief, has warned President Barack Obama in a secret "wake-up call" memo that the White House has no effective policy for dealing with a nuclear Iran.

By Toby Harnden in Washington Telegraph
Published: 12:00AM BST 19 Apr 2010

In the memo, Mr Gates outlined a scenario - viewed in Washington as increasingly likely - in which Iran would gather all the major parts required to build a nuclear weapon but stop just short of actually assembling them to make a fully operational bomb.

This would mean that Iran could remain a signatory of the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty [NPT] while becoming what is sometimes referred to as a "virtual" nuclear weapons state.

Since the three-page memo, written in January, a series of new options have been developed for Mr Obama, including military means for dealing with Tehran if it should acquire a nuclear weapon, the New York Times reported.

According to the newspaper, one senior official described the memo as "a wake-up call" and urged the White House to ponder about how the US could contain Iran if it decided to produce a weapon and how to deal with the possibility that nuclear fuel or weapons could be obtained by a terrorist group supported by Tehran.

Mr Gates, a Republican who was appointed by President George W. Bush but kept on by Mr Obama, is viewed as one of the more hawkish members of the Obama administration.

Senator John McCain, the defeated 2008 Republican presidential candidate and a senator from Arizona, said tough and meaningful sanctions against Iran were needed immediately.

"We have to be willing to pull the trigger on significant sanctions," he told Fox News on Sunday. "And then we have to make plans for whatever contingencies follow if those sanctions are not effective."

The White House vigorously denied that the memo had forced a change in the administration's thinking. "It is absolutely false that any memo touched off a reassessment of our options," said Ben Rhodes, a National Security Council spokesman.

"This administration has been planning for all contingencies regarding Iran for many months."

Geoff Morrell, the Pentagon press secretary, said that Mr Gates believed "the president and his national security team have spent an extraordinary amount of time and effort considering and preparing for the full range of contingencies with respect to Iran".

Mr Gates's memo followed the expiration of a deadline of the end of 2009 set by Mr Obama for Iran to respond to an offer of dialogue to resolve concerns about Iran's accelerated nuclear programme.

Tehran spurned the offer and since then the Obama administration has pursued what it calls the "pressure track" - stepped-up military activity close to Iran and a fresh push for a more international sanctions to squeeze Iran economically.

Four senior Obama administration officials told Congress last week that Iran could be a year away from being able to build a nuclear bomb, but that it would take two to five more years to turn it into an effective weapon that could be launched against an enemy.

Iran has maintained that its nuclear programme is intended for energy production and not weapon-building.
"All we really know is that Iran is widening and deepening its nuclear weapons capabilities," said David Albright, president of the Institute for Science and International Security.

"We don't have any insight into what they're thinking about doing - whether they'll just live with a nuclear weapons capability which will probably include learning more about nuclear weapons themselves, or they'll actually build them."


  1. Two Options:

    1) Bomb, bomb Iran

    2) Don't bomb, bomb Iran

  2. Why shouldn't Obama golf, have date night, take vacation? its hard word undoing 300 years of western accomplishment in 14 months...

    oh. and forget any meaningful sanctions on Iran...

  3. Iran sells oil to China,

    and China sells gasoline to Iran.

    There will be no sanctions.

  4. one can only hope that blaming another country for it's soldiers being killed by some other country doesn't become the accepted logic of the US. selling out for oil can do funny things.

  5. Hey, if you can be president, fly on Air Force I, and become a scratch golfer all at the same time, what's not to like?


  6. Palin speaks in Hamilton, Ont.:

    "We have the foundation of the Palin family, one grandfather was born in Manitoba, this was a farming family there. And then another one born in Saskatchewan and we were some pretty funny stories of our relatives who were bootleggers I guess. This was many, many years ago. Don’t blame me. There’s never a boring story when it comes to the Palins. So much exciting stories that you would hear about how they would live in Canada and Alaska, back and forth."

    Hell, Sarah. My paternal grandfather was, among other things, a bootlegger. My father, before embarking on a long and illustrious career as a spook, ran the stuff for him.

    What a hoot!

    We should all get together and go bowling.

  7. Trish's plan for Iran has been boloxed by deteriorating state-level political relations between the US and Israel, on the one hand, and between Israel and Turkey, on the other.

    In another possible sign that Trish really should become a Democrat, a neighbor stopped by yesterday informing us that Eleanor Roosevelt used to occasionally stop by here and sit on the front bench.

    I'm going to hold a seance and ask Eleanor for guidance.

  8. Tom Barnett:

    Per my recent WPR article on Obama's new Nuclear Posture Review, this article explores the long and growing fixation within the Air Force for Prompt Global Strike, which would see the U.S. lobby ICBMs from the comfort of its own home to anywhere in the world.

    So we downgrade the role of nukes and upgrade the role of big-ass missiles. Nice. I see an increase in strategic certainty among the world's many great powers coming from this shift--not!

    But anything to make the Air Force feel more relevant.

    Already the Russians are making scared noises, as well they should.

    Here's the logic I don't buy: we need to be able to strike anywhere in the world in terms of hours--not days or weeks.

    Why is that, exactly?

    Why do we seek a superfast route to war in this day and age, when our political system won't stand for it and our competing great powers are likely to be mightily incentivized toward arms racing as a result?

    Frankly, our history since the end of the Cold War says this goal of superfast response is completely nonsensical.

    The Leviathan is not about speed, but inevitability.


  9. deterrence dear trish, er Barnett. Gotta hit 'em back before we can't is the driving motive is it not?

    In the old days, back when the Soviets had their million or so men and tanks available and ready to overrun western Europe our response was that we'd be the first to use nukes 'cause we can't muster that kind of standing around army to stare back at them. Now that things have changed we seem to want to hang about without having to be the nukes first folk. That is the impetus for these big ass non-nuke missiles isn't it?

  10. This comment has been removed by the author.

  11. I did read the entirety of the Ontario speech, BTW, and agree with Crittendon at FrumForum that it's the usual "carpool-mother-with-Tourettes-syndrome."

    "back when the Soviets had their million or so men and tanks available and ready to overrun western Europe our response was..."

    To load up with tanks all along the main north-south autobahn in the eastern reaches of West Germany. Forming a healthy speed bump.

    Ah, those were the days. I miss them so.

    Barnett's rough take is that upping the ante on ICMBs has introduced greater strategic uncertainty and promises more friction vis a vis second-tier states in the future. A deterrent that will backfire in the form of an ICBM race, as it were. To help the Air Force hang onto its ego. A first real whopper of a strategic error by this neophyte admin.

    (And I'm not picking on the Air Force. Barnett is.

    I have only...mostly...polite and sometimes flattering things to say about the Air Force, unlike some Navy people of my acquaintance.)

  12. hee hee:

    "One, perhaps told with more glee by Icelanders than by mainland Europeans, has Iceland misunderstanding what Europe was requesting: “We wanted cash,” Europe says, “not ash.” "

  13. So, this arms race that could be set off - is that between the Air Force and the rest of the armed services or should we worry that Iran will join the race too?

  14. Between the US and "China, India, Russia, Brazil, or any of a secondary host of rising powers..."

  15. Horseshit. It's simply an "Osama in a cave" weapon. Obama's coming out of Afpakistan as quick as he can. He wants to be able to say, "don't worry, if we learn of his whereabouts, we'll take him out." Barnett has Always been an idiot.

    Also handy for terrorists in Africa, and Yemen.

  16. Steve Clemons at WashingtonNote:

    After my post about King Abdullah II's sobering comments that war between Israel and Hezbollah in Lebanan may be "imminent" to a group of Congressmen organized by Representative Adam Schiff last week, I received a clarification from the Embassy of Jordan that I am glad to post as an update to the meeting and discussion.

    From a Spokesperson of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan:

    Please note that what His Majesty discussed with Congressional members was not confined to the Lebanese border.

    The King told Congressional leaders that there is lot of tension in the region on a number of fronts; in Gaza, in Jerusalem, and on the Lebanese border given that some Lebanese say war could be imminent.

    He added that the lack of progress in Mideast peace talks is likely to trigger another cycle of violence in the region, which, in turn is disastrous for all of us.

    Apparently he was emphatic on the matter in his meeting.

    My second-favorite strategic observer (not Clemons) may, along with What Is, turn out to be right after all.

  17. Iranian cleric: Promiscuous women cause quakes

    "A senior Iranian cleric says women who wear revealing clothing and behave promiscuously are to blame for earthquakes..."

    Promiscuous Women, Especially Red-Headed Promiscuous Women Cause Earthquakes

    I have suspected this for some time. It's good to finally get some confirmation.


  18. The King (translated)

    More Money, Please. Thank you ever so much.

    Rufus response: Fuck the whole bunch of you, and the horses you rode in on, and the goats you marry.

    You wanna "war?" Go "War." Don't care. Don't bother me any more.

  19. Man you're grouchy rufus. And here it is a gorgeous spring day.

    Don't go smearing the red heads. God does not approve.

  20. Trish, I am, and always have been, Strongly "Pro-Redhead." Roughly, half the wimmin I've married have been Redheads.

  21. "Horseshit. It's simply an "Osama in a cave" weapon. Obama's coming out of Afpakistan as quick as he can. He wants to be able to say, "don't worry, if we learn of his whereabouts, we'll take him out." Barnett has Always been an idiot.

    Also handy for terrorists in Africa, and Yemen."

    I agree with everything you've said Ruf. The rationale is obvious and is in fact the stated objective of Prompt Global Strike.

    Heck, this is just and extension of a process starting with Dreadnoughts lobbing shells 40-60 miles, aircraft carriers, nuclear subs, drones, and now Prompt Global Strike; each step extending our reach and sanitizing war ever more.

    However, I also see the other side of the argument. It's one more escalation, one more way of making war more acceptable to the American public. We don't have a draft. Using this technolofy, we don't even have to use people.

    Today unless you have a love one directly affected by the war, i.e. in harms way, the only reason you give a damn about the war is the money it costs you. This program merely sanitizes the war even more.

    One more step to 1984.

    I also see the escalation as adding additional danger to the equation. Will the US always be the biggest and the baddest. Sure, at least for the forseeable future. However, this program will open up the game for secondary players. Knowing your not going to be nuked will embolden many.

    If the technology is out there someone will sell it and someone will buy it. Heck, law enforcement is already outgunned by the bad guys in many countries.


  22. Well, that's one point in your favor anyway.

  23. I'm just saying Trish, babuskas can be a nice fashion accessory.


  24. "..."Roughly, half the wimmin I've married have been Redheads..."

    This isn't one of those crude "carpet matches the drapes" references is it?


  25. I've never bought the "causes escalation" argument, Q.

    The U.S. and Europe disarmed after WWI. In response, the bad guys "armed up."

    We "armed up" in the Eighties, and in response, the bad guys "gave up."

    Non-nuclear ICBMs would be an incredibly inefficient way to wage "war;" but they sould be somewhat effective in picking off the occasional "bad guy in a cave."

  26. "I also see the escalation as adding additional danger to the equation."

    Getting back to Barnett. Sometimes unfortunately it's not what you actually, directly intend with regard to any given capability, but what your competitors and opponents fear that you do. Or might.

    This came up in a less ominous context. In Colombia. Developing a conventional military capability is a good next step for the country. It's not without its downside, however, in the potential for provoking its nutty, highly paranoid neighbor - possibly fueling a keen competition before the end of Colombia's counterinsurgency is in sight.

    And NO ONE at the mothership wants to be off to the races in South America.

    There are pros. There are cons. We like the former, but can never rid ourselves of the latter, and always seek simply to avoid being bitten in the ass by them.

    Or that's what they tell me anyway.

  27. I picked up an interesting little tidbit, yesterday. It seems that this (unpronounceable name) volcano goes off every couple of hundred years, and after it's pumped crap in the atmosphere for a year, or so, Iceland's Really, Relly Big Volcano (Katla) goes off.

    This might be a damned good time to sell any European Stocks (most especially, airlines,) and short the Euro.

  28. The Two Republicans on the SEC Board Voted Against Action against Goldman Sachs.

    Now, the republicans want to filibuster the Financial Reform Bill.

    Goldman Vote

    I'm developing a visceral hatred of ALL the corrupt bastards.

  29. Never going to vote for a Republican, again.

    At least not in the General Election.

    I may just go vote for JD Hayworth, in the Primary. Since I know him, and dislike Senator McCain enough to vote against him.

  30. The GOP just makes it harder and harder to view them as an alternative.

    I may just have to go back to the fallback position I have used for the past two elections and vote for the No Tax Party, or the Libertarians, or the Nudist Rights Party, or the Bumfuck....


  31. I wish there was something a person, like myself, living in a solid red district could do.

    I could vote for the Dem, but it wouldn't matter, the pub will win in a walk, anyway.

    There won't be any 3rd party candidates on the ballot, here. Not in 2010.

    Maybe I'll just write in obscenities. It's frustrating.

  32. This comment has been removed by the author.

  33. Why Texas is doing so much better economically than the rest of the nation.

    "In the first two months of 2010, exports of stuff made in Texas rose 24.3 percent, to $29 billion, from 2009. That's about 10 percent of the nation's total exports."

    ...made my first trip to Texas 30 years ago...loved it then, love it now, despite its growing gentrification...

    For whatever it is worth, had it not been for Col. Boyd, the "Air Farce" would have passed on both the F-15 and F-16. His political allies saved the country, even if they couldn't save his career. By the way, the USMC readily adopted him - which explains why his widow donated his papers to the Corps rather than to the USAF.

    Also, for whatever it is worth, if you come up with a project, say a giant supersonic, atomic chicken, that has at least a twelve digit price tag, the Air Farce will be all over it.

  34. It's been up a couple of days, for sure, Sam. WIO linked to it, yesterday, I believe.

    It's them Republican wimmin that's been causing all them earthquakes, I betcha.

  35. Damn, thought I was the 1st. Nice catch WiO.

  36. Carpet matching the drapes...Seems to me most of the carpeting has disappeared.

  37. Damn, Sam; you been on a bender?

    Deuce posted that two (?) days ago.

    WIO - 1

    Deuce - 1

    Sam - 0


  38. Senators subpoena Fort Hood witnesses, records

    Well, Trish, it looks like five months of stalling was Joe and Susan's limit. That's not bad time for DC. You go, Joe!

    This little number by the Administration cannot be welcomed by a Dem Congress already fearful. All may not be lost, however, there is always the very real possibility of Repub mishandling.

  39. Earlier a bomb blast near a public police school killed a child and injured 10 other people.

    Witnesses said that a bomb exploded at the crowded Qisa Khwani bazaar, sending thick smoke in the air.

    Ambulances rushed to the blast site and shifted the injured to nearby hospitals. The blast also damaged several shops in the bazaar.

    25 Killed

  40. Sam, turn off repeat button It's in the top left hand corner.

  41. :)

    Shee-it. 0 and 2.

    Benders and a vast Pacific spanning many time zones.

  42. "We will continue to cooperate with the Congress as we go forward, but it has to be with the caveat that whatever we do does not have a potentially negative impact on our ability to prosecute."

    You have got to be kidding. Major Hasan should have already been tried and convicted. The evidence here is not circumstantial and witnesses and taped evidence abound.

    Liberman and Collins are correct:

    "Unfortunately, it is impossible for us to avoid reaching the conclusion that the departments simply do not want to cooperate with our investigation..."

    Two senators subpoena Obama administration for information on Fort Hood shootings

  43. allen wrote:

    "...there is always the very real possibility of Repub mishandling."

    possibility hmmm??? see 'response to financial regulation' for possible evidence of "mishandling".

  44. ...13 personnel killed by a Muslim fanatic on one of the nation's largest military posts and not a word about government procrastination from a guy who will dredge up hysterical, hyperbolic agitprop about a settled case from 1968...

    ...a Palestinian immigrant murders 13 service members and supporting staff in cold blood, following years of threatening behavior and the heroes are silent...Israel accidentally attacks a US vessel while engaged in a hot war in 1968 and we never hear the end of it...

    ...our patriotism seems to be motivated by our racial/ethnic/religious biases...

  45. One was an attack upon a US Naval vessel on the high seas, by another sovereign nations' Air and Naval forces, the other a lone gunman, in Texas.

    Of which there have been more than a few. Oswald, Whitman, Hasan.

    Something in that Texican air?

    Regardless of Texican air quality, the two events are not comparable, not at all.

    One was an attack upon the United States, by a foreign power, the other, another case of workplace overload.

    Gone "Postal", that is the term the Federals often apply, to their employees that commit murder and mayhem.

    In the one case where the Federal attacker happens to be an Islamoid, allen tells us that is the cause of the murderous rampage. While discounting religion as the determining factor in other shootings involving Federal employees.

  46. Going Postal

    by Mark Ames

    The jobless report was released right around the time that a bankrupt, desperate, and unemployed 40-year-old man, Jason Rodriguez, attacked his former employer’s office in Orlando, Florida—one of the worst-hit states in the country.

    The Orlando office shooting, which left one dead and five wounded, came close on the heels of the massacre at Fort Hood the day before. The Fort Hood shooting was unusual because rarely has a Muslim “gone postal” in the America workplace. But Judeo-Christian Americans, including Latinos like Jason Rodriguez, have been massacring their co-workers and fellow students in “going postal” shootings for well over two decades now.

    In fact, America invented these “going postal” murders, starting with the first post-office massacre in Edmonds, Oklahoma in 1986, which left 14 dead and six wounded. Over the next few years, shootings, rampages and suicides were rampant in the U.S. Postal Service, giving rise to a whole new term for these crimes. At first, they were dismissed as a Postal Service problem, as if loonies had suddenly been recruited to work there. But the murders and complaints piled up, and by 1989, the co-worker-on-co-worker office massacre had jumped like a virus to the private sector—beginning with the rampage shooting at a printing plant in Louisville, Kentucky, which left nine dead and 12 injured. Soon, workplace massacres of this sort spread all across the country; the term “disgruntled employee” also entered the lexicon, signifying something akin to “terrorist.” By the mid-1990s, even middle-class all-American schools were experiencing mass killings. Today, 10 years after Columbine, these episodes come and go with such frequency that most Americans hardly notice; they’ve become cable news wallpaper.

  47. William Seyfried, a Rollins College economist, pointed out that more than 50,000 people have entered the job market in Florida since December – an indication that job seekers may feel more hopeful — but there are 1,700 fewer jobs available.

    "Florida's job market is stabilizing," said Seyfried, "but still lags the nation."

    The state began losing jobs in April 2007 and since then has shed almost 890,000 of them. State economist Rebecca Rust blamed a "very slow economic recovery" on continued tight conditions in the credit market and consumer spending that has yet to catch fire.

    Inches Up to 12.3%

  48. Thai soldiers threw a security cordon around Bangkok's business district after "red shirt" protesters demanding early elections threatened to march into the area on Tuesday, raising fears of a bloody crackdown.


    The red shirts are supporters of former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, who was ousted by the army in 2006.


    The 60-year-old billionaire urged Abhisit to call snap elections to end the impasse. If Abhisit resisted, there would be further crackdowns and possibly a military coup, Thaksin told Reuters by telephone during a stopover in Brunei.

    Red Shirts

  49. The deposed president of Kyrgyzstan left Kazakhstan on Monday, ending four days of refuge there, a Kazakh official said. The former Kyrgyz president, Kurmanbek Bakiyev, was driven from power in a violent uprising last week.

    Ilyas Omarov, a Kazakh Foreign Ministry spokesman, said he did not know where Mr. Bakiyev was headed. “He’s left Kazakhstan,” Mr. Omarov said.

    “There are no details on his planned destination.”

    President Departs