“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."

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Rory Stewart - his world view today in Ukraine and his past view on Afghanistan - well worth a listen

West may need new bases to deter Putin – UK defence committee chief

Rory Stewart, chair of Commons defence watchdog, warns US and Europe to take fears of Russian military action seriously

The west may need to build military bases in eastern Europe to deter Russian president Vladimir Putin from invading a Baltic state, the new chairman of the House of Commons defence watchdog has said.
Rory Stewart, the Tory elected to lead the defence committee last week, said the west has proved poor at assessing risks and threats, so should take seriously the fears of Russia's neighbouring states that Putin may be training for further military action.
In a blogpost offering thoughts on Putin, he said the US and Europe should not overreact to the annexation of Crimea but ought to plan for "some testing scenarios".
Stewart, who has served in the army and diplomatic service, said the dominant view in Britain is that the threat from Putin is still minimal. But he highlighted the alternative viewpoint from eastern Europe that Putin is very dangerous, with his defence spending increasing by 50% as Nato's drops by 20%.
If this assessment proves true, Stewart said "we may need to consider pre-positioning supplies and building bases in eastern Europe, increasing surveillance, redeploying troops, and planning and training to deter Putin.
"Recent military exercises have suggested that Russia could mobilise up to 100,000 troops in 72 hours, and that they have already trained for invading the Baltic," he said . "Those states [Estonia and Latvia] argue that Putin only understands strength, that there is no point pretending any more that he is a potential partner, or worrying about irritating him. And that Putin may be tempted to destabilise or even invade a Baltic state."
He warned that Nato would be "fatally weakened" if this happened and the west was unable to respond.
Stewart said the UK's poor track record in predicting threats such as the Arab spring and how military interventions in Iraq and Afghanistan would turn out partly "reflect the hollowing out of our strategic institutions".
Too many Foreign Office officials were tied to their desks rather than spending a significant time focused on the politics of other cultures, he said.
"We have got away with this for the last 20 years, when the major issues seemed to be economics, and terrorism. But Crimea reminds us that we could face much more direct threats to the European alliance. This does not mean we should overreact to Putin. But it does mean we have to understand what he is doing, and is likely to do, and plan for some testing scenarios."
Stewart's warning comes after James Arbuthnot, the outgoing defence committee chairman who served under six secretaries of state, warned that UK defence cuts have emboldened countries such as Russia.
"They are now smaller, very powerful still, but smaller armed forces than they have been for many decades and that will inevitably reduce our influence in the world," he said last month. "It will leave us open to the sort of bullying power that Putin feels free to exercise in Ukraine."
Prince Charles also caused controversy by suggesting last week during a tour of Canada that Putin was acting like Hitler by annexing Crimea.

Downing Street's response to Russia's actions in the region has been to condemn the decision to take Crimea but emphasise the need to calm the situation in Eastern Ukraine, where pro-Russian separatists are at the centre of violent protests.


  1. He's the fellow that wrote that good book "The Places In Between".

    Seems like an excellent fellow.

    >>>>Stewart was a senior coalition official in a province of occupied Iraq in 2003–04. He is known for his book about this experience, The Prince of the Marshes (also published under the title Occupational Hazards), and for his 2002 walk across Afghanistan (one part of a larger walk across Asia), which served as the basis for another book, The Places in Between, as well as his later cultural development work in Afghanistan as the Founder and Executive Chairman of the Turquoise Mountain Foundation, a British charity.[3]<<<<

  2. Today, Russia's only aircraft carrier group nonchalantly violated the territorial integrity of the Netherlands after plying the Channel a bit.

    A knowledge of Russian is not necessary to know when Mr. Putin says, “Bite me.”

    Mr. Putin is destroying the NATO myth without firing a shot. He is a very bright man.

    1. - desribes the Dutch inability to 'shadow' or 'escort' the Russian aircraft carrier Admiral Kuznetsov.

      ... on May 8 the Russian aircraft carrier Admiral Kuznetsov, sailed through the Channel on international waters, the Royal Netherlands Navy was unable to respond because it lacked warships for the task.

      As Lieuwe de Vries and Ruben Veenstra reported, Russia’s only aircraft carrier, with a task force of three tankers, an ocean-going tug and the Landing Support Ship Minsk, took an unusual route to return to its homebase.

      According to the Dutch reporters, “the Russians usually prefer to go around Ireland on the North Atlantic Ocean to avoid other maritime traffic. The journey plotted through the narrow waters can be seen as a typical show of force on behalf of the Russians.”

      No mention is made of the Russians violating Dutch territorial integrity, just the opposite is reported.

      What is the NATO myth?
      How is it being destroyed?

      I would agree that Putin is a clever fellow.

      U.S. Navy Feared Crappy Russian Aircraft Carrier Might Sink
      Now nearly two years after Mediterranean cruise, the decrepit flattop ‘Admiral Kuznetsov’ limps back into action

    2. Maybe the Russian aircraft carrier simply got lost in the fog.

    3. The Admiral Gorshkov, the sister ship of the Admiral Kuznetsov was sold to India, and the ship did manage the transit, but there were multiple engine problems en-route. The delivery of the Gorshkov had been delayed several years. These issues seemed to have been resolved by November 2013.

    4. Jack Hawkins,

      NATO is the myth.

      "France's Sale Of Warships to Russia Shows Why The West Can't Stop Putin"

      The Russians did not await escort through Dutch territorial waters.

    5. Why should they have, the report was that they were in international waters. I found no reports to the contrary.
      If you have such, that the Russian navy was in Dutch territorial waters and needed an escort, please post the links.

      The report I read indicated the Dutch had no ships available, The link was provided.

    6. As to NATO being a myth, it is a nuclear force.
      The US has supplied some 480 B61 thermonuclear bombs to Belgium, Germany, The Netherlands, Italy and Turkey. That is no myth, that these NATO members are nuclear capable is reality.
      France, England and the US have their own stockpiles of nuclear weapons, which is no myth either.

      NATO is no myth it is a defensive alliance. No one is about to invade any of the NATO countries.
      NATO was never designed for force projection, when it has been utilized as such, the results have been mixed.
      But even where force projection has fallen short of the goals, the projection was a reality, the deaths involved a reality. Not a myth.

    7. You use NATO in the singular. You then enumerate the American dominance, proving that it is singular - yes, I agree, NATO is the United States.

      As the French are demonstrating, NATO, like the Euro, is a convenient myth. The Russians will get their ships despite objections from within NATO.

      NATO has nuclear armed members. You assume a unity of resolve which probably does not exist, most particularly when it comes to nuclear weapons. NATO has certainly not been unified in terms of Afghan policies.

      I will try again: Mr. Putin may destroy the myth of NATO WITHOUT FIRING A SHOT. He will inflict impotence by a thousand indignities. And if Mr. Putin decided to nibble away, say, in the Baltic, do you really think Germany is ready, willing, or able to respond militarily - not to mention The Netherlands and its single ship navy and handful of helicopters. As for the UK, by year's end it may no longer exist.

    8. If the United State is NATO, that makes Obama its Commander in Chief.



    9. This comment has been removed by the author.

    10. Exactly, allen, when NATO attempted force projection, far from the North Atlantic, it faltered. No argument there.
      The fact that NATO is not a political monolith, that speaks with one voice, true again.
      But those were never the purpose of NATO.
      Those are myths you are attempting to propagate.
      You are attempting to promote a revisionist view of NATO, then denounce it as failed.

      The purpose of NATO, the reality of NATO, is that it is a defensive alliance, which the US sustains and maintains.
      The US has provided its major members with the means to defend themselves from foreign aggression.
      At which it has succeeded. No NATO member has been invaded.
      It is obvious that when the alliance projected force, with in Europe, it succeeded in obtaining its political objectives. That is no myth, either.

    11. Jack Hawkins,

      I am not trying to propagate anything. Merely reporting the facts, as I see them, does not connote a hostile agenda. It is a fact that, despite the objections of NATO members in the aggregate because of the Ukrainian crisis, France will transfer two state-of-the-art ships to the Russian navy. This will be seen as a betrayal of NATO’s unified response and will weaken NATO accordingly.

      In my opinion, France is unconcerned about further Russian territorial expansion in the Ukraine, Russia having annexed the strategically important Crimea. From the French point of view, why would Russia want the headaches that would come with trying to govern a black hole like the Ukraine? I disagree with the French assessment to the degree that I think there remain pockets of territory in the Ukraine that Russia views as strategically important. However, I think Russia will handle such land grabs in a manner that will not give the impression of a threat to Western Europe as a whole. Therefore, Mr. Putin will not swoop into the Ukraine with full force. Rather, he will eat the elephant one small bite at a time until he feels Russia is secure. Again, my opinions are not meant as a show of approval for Russia’s destabilization of the status quo; instead, I simply call them as I see them. As to NATO and France, the French have been the weak link in European security since 1940 and I do not see that changing.

      The fact that NATO was so heavily reliant upon the propagation of nuclear weapons proves not strength but its weakness to defend Western Europe by conventional means. How could it flex the muscle of conventional strength when its membership has been unwilling to "invest" in defense, mutual or otherwise? At this moment, the best some NATO members can do is field a rather feeble home guard. An inventory of NATO's European conventional arsenal would be discouraging to any command reliant upon it. Frankly, any conventional defense of Europe will fall to the US; hence, Mr. Stewart’s call for preemption by the US in that regard. Mr. Stewart is asking the US to garrison Europe, again.

      Only Turkey has reasonably credible numbers in the area of conventional forces and that really has nothing to do with NATO, rather Turkey's bad neighborhood. Moreover, Turkey is probably only slightly more reliable than France. Mr. Putin’s deftly handled victory in Syria and his new rapprochement with Egypt must impress Turkey greatly. Indeed, Turkey has not been shy about its desire to kindle a Russian romance.

      Any strength projected by NATO in the defense of Western Europe came from the Soviet sense that the US would be willing to turn Europe into a nuclear wasteland if pushed into the abyss of war. Short of this, Mr. Putin knows that he can operate pretty much at will. Of course, the recent improvement in Sino-Russian relations has got to make Mr. Putin’s day.
      NATO once had a purpose. That purpose disappeared some decades ago. America’s great adventures in Asia have done nothing to establish a useful mission for NATO. Mr. Putin will play the weakness of each member to give the impression of Russian strength and resolve. He will take care not to broadcast any Russian designs on European hegemony. Mr. Putin knows his European history. Mr. Obama does not. I would mention Mr. Bush, but there is little that can now be done to ameliorate the damage he has done. It is regrettable that he did not discover his Turner soul until recently.

  3. Today Rory describes Afghanistan as a nation filled with highly intelligent, vibrant people. Previously his descriptions were quite different.....a land where woman never visited the next village 5 miles down the goat trail, were kept in the back room of the hut and brought out for sex, and kitchen duty, The men, many of them, he described as thinking they were still fighting the Russians, but it didn't much matter to them, as fighting was all they had ever known, and they seemed quite comfortable with it.

    In those days Rory came across as a light footprint guy with heavy emphasis on NGO's and developmental aid.

    Light footprint, behind the scenes guy.

    Now he seems to be talking of now real foot print at all.

    9,800 troops in an area that large isn't much of a foot print at all, and many of them would be guarding the others.

    He's too optimistic as to what might happen when all foreign folks are gone, I think.

    Says the Taliban can't ever take Kabul.......

    I'm not sure what he is really recommending here.

    1. Now he seems to be talking of no real foot print at all.

    2. Ah, I see, all the troops are to be out of Afghanistan by the time of the next big election here.

      Now it all makes perfectly good sense.

      Everything is always about the elections.

    3. Prognosis: poor to terrible

    4. Meanwhile we will begin fucking around in Syria.

    5. The US needs the Saudi oil to lubricate the global hegemony, arming up the jihadi is just part of maintaining the hegemony.

    6. Israel and Saudi Arabia Support al-Qaeda Operatives in Syria and now the US will too! Birds of a feather, they do flock together.

      The "Big Three" will not be denied!

  4. Obama close to authorizing military training of Syrian jihadists

    Robert Spencer May 27, 2014 at 10:34am Barack Obama, Syria 25 Comments


    The story says that he is going to authorize training of “moderate Syrian rebels.” The problem with this is that there is no significant Western-oriented or pluralist force among the Syrian rebels. Even the New York Times acknowledged this, over a year ago: “Nowhere in rebel-controlled Syria is there a secular fighting force to speak of.” (New York Times, April 28, 2013)

    “Obama Close to Authorizing Military Training of Syrian Rebels,” by Adam Entous, Wall Street Journal, May 27, 2014:

    WASHINGTON—President Barack Obama is close to authorizing a mission led by the U.S. military to train moderate Syrian rebels to fight the regime of Bashar al-Assad and al Qaeda-linked groups, a move that would expand Washington’s role in the conflict, U.S. officials said.

    A new military training program, if implemented, would supplement a small train-and-equip program led by the Central Intelligence Agency which Mr. Obama authorized…

    Jihad Watch

    1. Bob,

      Assad has little to fear from a US trained opposition. Look how well the American trained Iraqi "army" is handling Fallujah - or not.

      The American doctrine is simple: If it cannot be handled from the air, sit in place and bore the enemy to death.

      A secular jihadist is the one who asks if you would like your throat cut from the right or left. "Secular Jihad" has to be one of the world’s greatest oxymorons. By definition, one becomes a jihadist because of the incursions of secularism.

  5. War's practically over - time to arm up the jihadi----does this make any sense to anyone?

  6. In 1970 the U.S. provided less than $16 million to Saudi Arabia in military aid, that number increased to $312 million by 1972.

    October 20, 1973; King Faisal had decided to participate in an oil embargo against the United States and Europe.
    "America's complete Israel support against the Arabs makes it extremely difficult for us to continue to supply the United States with oil, or even remain friends with the United States" King Faisal in an interview with international media.

    Despite the tensions caused by the oil embargo, the U.S. wished to resume relations with the Saudis. Indeed, the great oil wealth accumulated as a result of price increases allowed the Saudis to purchase large sums of American military technology. The embargo was lifted in March 1974

    In the 1975 fiscal year, the two countries signed $2 billion worth of military contracts, including an agreement to send Saudi Arabia 60 fighter jets.

    In January 1979, the U.S. sent F-15 fighters to Saudi Arabia

    On October 20, 2010, U.S. State Department notified Congress of its intention to make the biggest arms sale in American history - an estimated $60.5 billion purchase by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The package represents a considerable improvement in the offensive capability of the Saudi armed forces.

    The U.S. was keen to point out that the arms transfer would increase "interoperability" with U.S. forces. In the 1990–1991 Gulf War, having U.S.-trained Saudi forces, along with military installations built to U.S. specifications, allowed the American armed forces to deploy in a comfortable and familiar battle environment. This new deal would increase these capabilities, as an advanced American military infrastructure is about to be built.

    The US needs the Saudi oil to lubricate the global hegemony, arming up the jihadi is just part of maintaining the hegemony.

  7. You no longer need to be stuck in 2nd Place - Go Valhalla -

    You are what you drink.

    Give up Bud, go spring water.

    from Mat

    1. Budweiser will be the death of you.

    2. A small fact:
      You are going to die....does this worry you?

    3. Just deeply concerned about poor Rufus.

      He still has so much to give to the world.

    4. The man made a simple request of you and yet you refuse to abide by it.
      You dishonor yourself by your refusal to honor his request

  8. Putin is rolling on the floor laughing today.

    Just rolling on the floor laughing.

  9. The Black Sea is an American lake now, and the Ukraine is joining NATO.



    1. West Virginia is a gonner to the Dems.

    2. Like sands through the hourglass, so are the days of our lives.

    3. You are an obvious fool but I don't feel like metaphysics today.

      I am trying to save Ruf's ass for this world.

      One world at a time, Sweet Jesus, one world at a time.


    1. “Your days are numbered. Use them to throw open the windows of your soul to the sun.
      If you do not, the sun will soon set, and you with it.”

    2. blah, blah, blah

      Thankfully, rat, the number of strokes on a keyboard that you can accomplish in a day is numbered.

      Besides, one can always scroll by, which is what I will do for the rest of this day.

      Adios, amigo !


  12. You presume to name those who have no name.

  13. Ben Carson: 2nd Amendment Needed In Case Gov’t Goes ‘Off The Rail’

    Dr. Ben Carson For President 2016

  14. Judge Napolitano:

    "The 2nd Amendment isn't about shooting deer, it is about shooting tyrants."

    1. A memorable way of putting it.

    2. A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, .

      In United States v. Cruikshank (1876), the Supreme Court of the United States ruled that,
      "The right to bear arms is not granted by the Constitution; neither is it in any manner dependent upon that instrument for its existence"

    3. It has nothing to do with tyrants ...

      It has to do with defending the Constitution from those that would dispose of it.
      Those that do not respect the Constitutional processes or outcomes of the processes embodied within it.

      Those that have never sworn an oath to defend the Constitution would never understand that.

  15. The rat doesn't know word one about the Constitution.

    1. Anonymous quotes chapter and verse, provides the precedents of past legal decisions.
      Bob provides gas from his ass.

      Who is 'the rat'?
      Where are his posts?

      Are you taking hallucinogenic drugs or are you in that state naturally?

  16. The rat wanted to solve the national debt by printing up some trillion dollar platinum coins, command his own militia, supports jury nullification, and generally never knows what the hell he is talking about.

    1. Provide a link to any of those alleged recommendations, from this fictional 'rat' you reference.
      Especially in regards the platinum coins. Let us read them and put them into the proper context.

      His own militia, again, please provide a link to that claim.

      As for jury nullification, that is the Constitutional defense against tyranny, much more so than shooting the judges.

  17. Juries not only rule upon the guilt or innocence of the accused, but on the righteousness of the law, itself.
    The jury is the citizens first line of defense against tyranny. It is why 'Trial by Jury' is prescribed in the Constitution as a guarentee of liberty.

    To not understand that salient feature of the Constitution is one of your failings as a Constitutionalist.

    Judge Napolitano Answers Your Questions

    Today on the Tom Woods Show I asked Judge Andrew Napolitano your questions, submitted on my Facebook page.

    What do you think about jury nullification?

    11:35 - 13:50 - Judge Napolitano is a STRONG SUPPORTER of jury nullification.

    YOUR expert thinks your strawman, the 'rat', is correct!
    ha, ha, ha

    1. The Tom Woods Show - Judge Napolitano Answers Some Questions

      Judge Napolitano Answers Your Questions

      Today on the Tom Woods Show I asked Judge Andrew Napolitano your questions, submitted on my Facebook page.

      What do you think about jury nullification?

      11:35 - 13:50 - Judge Napolitano is a STRONG SUPPORTER of jury nullification.

      YOUR expert thinks your strawman, the 'rat', is correct!
      ha, ha, ha