“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, August 19, 2010

Damned if you do and damned if you don't

This is the post which should have lead off the day. It is inexcusable that this was not the post of the day. It's over, over there. Our boys and girls are coming home. We should plan a huge victory celebration.

I'm voting for Obama. Not really.

Last US combat brigade leaves Iraq
by Prashant Rao Prashant Rao Thu Aug 19, 4:14 pm ET

BAGHDAD (AFP) – The last US combat brigade pulled out of Iraq at dawn on Thursday, a key milestone in the withdrawal of American forces more than seven years after the US-led invasion that ousted dictator Saddam Hussein.

Under cover of darkness, the 4th Stryker Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division, crossed into neighbouring Kuwait ahead of the planned declaration of an end to US combat operations in Iraq by an August 31 deadline.

The pullout came two days after a suicide bomber killed 59 people at a Baghdad army recruiting centre in Iraq's deadliest attack this year, sparking concern the country's forces are incapable of handling security on their own.

Lieutenant Colonel Eric Bloom told AFP the last members of the brigade had entered Kuwait "at about 6:00 am this morning."

"They have a few more days to clean the equipment, prepare the equipment, get it ready for shipment and then they'll fly out (to the United States)."

It took two days for 360 vehicles and 1,200 soldiers to travel from Camp Liberty on Baghdad's outskirts and Camp Taji north of the capital, through the Shiite south and into the Gulf emirate, Bloom said.

The rest of the 4,000-strong brigade left by air.

Kuwait, which hosts several American military camps in its northern desert close to the border, as well as a naval base, was used as the springboard for the 2003 invasion.

About 52,000 US soldiers remain in Iraq, with that figure set to drop to 50,000 by September 1, less than a third of the peak level during the 2007 "surge."

From next month the US mission in Iraq will be called "Operation New Dawn" instead of "Operation Iraqi Freedom" -- the name given to American operations since the invasion.

To fill the gap left by departing troops, the US State Department will more than double the number of security contractors it employs in Iraq to around 7,000, the New York Times reported.

Citing unnamed administration officials, it said private contractors would operate radar to warn of enemy fire, hunt for roadside bombs and fly surveillance drones.

The pullout coincided with Wednesday's arrival of new US ambassador James Jeffrey, who takes up his post amid political deadlock, with no new government yet formed since elections in March.

It also came during the holy Muslim fasting month of Ramadan, when insurgent attacks typically peak.

A spike in violence in July, Iraq's deadliest month since 2008, and Tuesday's suicide attack blamed on Al-Qaeda have sparked disquiet over the readiness of Iraq's own forces.

"This is an irresponsible withdrawal," said Hamid Fadhel, political science professor at Baghdad University.

"There are dangers to do with security of the country, concerns and fears for Iraq's external security, because of the lack of a military that is able to protect the country."

Many Iraqis agreed, voicing doubts about their own security forces.

"It would have been better for the Americans to wait until the Iraqi army and police complete their training and become a truly loyal force," engineer Ali Khalaf, 30, told AFP.

While US officers insist their Iraqi counterparts are up to the task, the country's top military officer told AFP last week that American forces may be needed in the conflict-wracked nation for another decade.

That seems unlikely, however. The White House has repeatedly insisted that the withdrawal schedule, which will see the last US soldier depart at the end of next year, remains on track.

"The readiness of the Iraqi security troops is quite enough to combat the threat," Iraqi government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh said. "The plan is going on, irrespective of the political situation."

State Department spokesman Philip Crowley described the end of combat operations a "historic moment," but stressed America's long-term commitment to Iraq.

"This is not the end of something," he told MSNBC. It's a transition to something different."

In a letter dated August 18 posted on the White House website, President Barack Obama hailed the end of US combat operations but made no mention of the final combat troops leaving.

Saddam Hussein's former deputy Tareq Aziz, however, said in an interview with Britain's Guardian newspaper earlier this month that Obama was "leaving Iraq to the wolves."


  1. My sincerest congratulations and best wishes for all who are returning.

    The military and military families have paid entirely too high a price. They deserve a well-earned rest.

  2. I want all our troops to be safe...

    This includes the hundreds of thousands spread across the globe...

    Those that can be rotated home great...

    There still will be over 60 thousand troops and some 20,000? contractors...

    In the end if Iraq stays calm and doesnt revert to somalia great..

    If iran, turkey and syria all take grabs at it, and the shits and the suns try to do a new and improved "saddam" and the kurds do a go crazy?

    We will have squandered 4500 Amerians's finest and a trillion bucks...

    WIth American becoming a has been nation, under the direction and leadership of the false messiah, post American president, all hell can and just may break out...

    I hope for the best and expect the worst...

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  6. This is a local story, of course. We love our heroes and heroines in the military.

    JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. - A group of soldiers representing the last U.S. combat unit in Iraq has returned home to Joint Base Lewis-McChord, marking the end of an era.

    About 150 soldiers from the Army's 4th Stryker brigade marched into Soldiers Field House on Thursday morning.

    The brigade's 2nd Infantry Division was officially designated the last combat brigade to leave Iraq under Obama's plan to end combat operations in Iraq.

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  12. NOT on this post!

  13. Dangit, what did I miss?

  14. I see a bunch of posts taken down by a blog administrator, and an "Anonymous" approving.

    That's troubling.

  15. Whit, what are you "taking down," and why?

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  19. I can go along with Whit on this one (although I wish he had done it before I got my post done and was ready to push the button.)

    He pulled the posts from both sides.

    If he wants to restrict this stream more to the subject at hand, that's fine.

    There will be future streams where the other issue can be discussed.


  20. Who is Russell Simmons and why should I care?

  21. What elevates this Russell Simmons to the level that his opinion is worthy of thought or comment?

  22. I seem to remember there was a rebellion over at the Belmont Club over the administrator being a little heavy-handed with regards to the commenting.

  23. Now, I've helped you out, clown.

  24. Whit, I share your thoughts as noted on the first post on this stream.

    And just an afterthought, we plan to have a large body of diplomatic and support people over there for the forseeable future. However, I suspect that over the next couple years events there will be such that we will be welcoming many of these home too.


  25. Regardless of that helping hand what is a Russell Simmons?

    The long tongued singer from KISS?

  26. Hey Rufus, you're not out washing your car again are you?


  27. Hello.

    Hey where did everybody go?

    I told you guys before I was skarda clowns.

    And now you leave me with...

    Hey wait a minute. Isn't Bozo dead?



  28. I've been out wandering around the blagosfere, Q. Nothing to read, here. Seems like there was some good stuff, but it was all disappeared before I got here.

  29. As for the Stryker Brigade coming home . . . . . . well, hell, what are those other 50,000 guys? chopped liver?

  30. If you were pulling posts about Israel = bad Arabs = good then alleluia.

  31. No he was pulling posts about angry lesbians trapped in mens bodies that are to trigger happy to shoot fat carny barkers...

  32. Naw it was just our resident Elmer Gantry huffin and puffin and fumulatin.

    I couldn't live like that.


  33. Who is our resident "Elmer Gantry?"

  34. I want to hear more about the "angry lesbians in mens' bodies" shootin carny barkers.

    Video would be good, also.

  35. "...resident Elmer Gantry...".

    He goes by many names.

    Flatulant bloviator is just one of them.

    Like the Shadow, he can see what evil lurks within the hearts of men whether it is there or not.

    I couldn't live like that.



  36. The way I feel about our troops is so strong that I get very upset that we put them in harms way, then change the ROE that costs them life or limb.

    I do not believe we should allow our troops to run wild by any mccalley sort of way, but the current roe's are too restrictive.

    If we put these young people in the field then they should be able to defend themselves.

    If not? get them off the battlefield

  37. True enough WiO.

    The trouble is the ROE are what you get when your overall misssion is defined as nation-building, bringing democracy to the poor unfortunates whether they want it or not.

    Americans were behind going into Afghanistan when the missions was to get bin Laden and take out any Taliban that stood in the way.

    When the mission morphed and we had to start picking the new leaders things went to hell. We have rarely chosen the right individuals in situations similar to Iraq and Afghanistan and our record continues.



  38. Going to war is a difficult mission..

    But it gets simpler when it's clear the people you are fighting seek your children's head removed from their shoulders.

    I think we need a new and clearer policy...

    If you seek to murder us, destroy us or generally speaking "fuck us up" I feel we should make you live in mud, pain and poverty.

    There is no nation building attainable when the enemy lives to die and swears to breed to grow suicide bombers from their kids.

    Some times war MUST be hell, and there is no Sears, Walmart & Wendy's for the ENEMY after they are DEFEATED.

    If I was president for month?

    I'd make it clear, that I'd put a bounty on the Taliban's head and let the games begin.

    No more of this nation building...

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  40. WiO,

    A comment of mine was taken down by the cowardly, hypocritic admininstrator. It concerned John Bolton and incidentally his remarks on Israel. With this insult, my opinion of this site was solidified and I took down other comments as well. Were it within my power I would scrub all my remarks.

    Apparently, it is permitted to say anything one likes as disgustingly as one likes. It is not, however, permitted to quote the filth.

    Good luck to you.

    As to others, I am confident that they will get what they deserve, nothing more, nothing less. Indeed, WiO, I think some have already :)