“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."

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Being A Bad American Because You Have A Brain And Think - Leaving Symbols To The Simple Minded

The Final Collapse of Bush’s Nation-Building: Kunduz falls to Taliban

By Juan Cole | (Informed Comment) | – –
On Monday, the Taliban swept into the provincial capital of Kunduz, taking it in half a day from a large and well-equipped Afghan National Army force. Tuesday’s riposte had only mixed success, with the ANA saying it had taken back the (no-empty) prison. An attempt to take back the airport failed, and when the Taliban captured an ANA tank, the US Air Force had to intervene to take it out lest it be used to drive an ANA rout.
Those who want the US to go into Syria in a big way should just consider what the Kunduz events mean. Fourteen years after the US went into Afghanistan, it still has not been able to stand up a successful army to which it could hope to turn the country over. How many orphans do the hawks want to adopt?
During the Athens summer Olympics of 2004, the Bush administration ran advertisements boasting that it had liberated 50 million people. It meant 25 million each in Iraq and Afghanistan. Most people in the world, according to opinion polls, thought Bush had occupied 50 million people.
The administration described what it was doing as “nation-building.” There was some infrastructural spending. Many schools were apparently painted. Some restoration of electricity grids were undertaken, though both countries remain chronically short of electricity and local engineers and electricians could not keep up the American equipment. There was no big push to train administrators, found factories and hospitals, etc. of the sort that even a 19th state such as Meiji Japan undertook. A lot of contractors made billions and took it back to Fairfax county, Virginia.
One of the areas where a genuine attempt at nation-building was made was the rebuilding of the Iraqi and Afghan armed forces. A lot of training was offered and a lot of men were put on the payroll. A lot of weaponry was provided or sold. Some of the subcontractors doing the training weren’t very good. For two years, one of them did not train Afghan soldiers to use the sights on the M1 rifles. Sergeants were puzzled as to why their accuracy never improved.
In June of 2014, the US-built Iraqi army collapsed before a relatively small Daesh (ISIS, ISIL) assault on Mosul.
On Monday, the US-built Afghan National Army collapsed around the northern city of Kunduz before a Taliban assault.
Given the collapse in the first half of the 1970s of the US-built Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN), I’d say the US is 0 for 3 in nation-building via army building.
After the Vietnam war it became apparent that a fair number of ARVN officers (by no means most) were not ultimately very loyal to the American-backed south, and some turned at key moments to the Communists as the true Vietnamese nationalists. This story points to a key problem in having an imperial power do “nation-building.” Nations are about nationalism, not about loyalty to foreign emperors. Under conditions of occupation or even of neo-imperial dominance, it is hard to create a national army. The American public is congenitally unable to see itself as an occupying power when it takes over other countries, and when the occupation is over tends to forget it ever happened. Locals are neither so myopic nor so forgetful.
Just imagine if two hundred years from now the US became weak and was occupied by another country. And those foreigners called for volunteers from Kentucky to join a new US Army to be formed and trained by the foreign country’s officers. Do you think patriotic people from Kentucky would happily join up? Or might they either go into guerrilla war against the foreign occupiers, or join the new “national” army and try to undermine it?
The issue of loyalty arises in Kunduz. It is the capital of the province with the same name. About a third of the population of that province is Pushtun, which is the ethnic base of the Taliban. But given a majority of Tajiks and other ethnicities up there loyal to the Kabul national unity government of President Ashraf Ghani, the government should have been able to hold the capital of this province.
The Taliban rushed into the city, burning down the police station, releasing prisoners from the main jail, and raiding government weapons depots. In other words, the US taxpayer has yet again unwillingly transferred billions of dollars worth of sophisticated weaponry to a group they deem terrorists.
The independent-minded newspaper “Hasht-i Sobh” said that the city of Konduz was well defended, with a sufficient armed force, and that its fall suggested treason on the part of some officials. That is, it is alleging that some of those people running Konduz were either secretly sympathetic to the Taliban or perhaps so afraid the fundamentalists would win in the end that they capitulated to get good terms from the conquerors.
The Afghan government, defensive about its failure (which I saw coming last summer) is blaming foreign powers and their agents (presumably Pakistan and its Inter-Services Intelligence, which had long backed the Taliban).
Ruz-nameh-i Afghanistan (Afghanistan Daily), however, rejected this excuse, saying that a foreign intelligence agency could not have pulled off the takeover of a whole city like that, without Afghan agents on the inside.
So, no nation-building then. The US response to the return of the Taliban will likely be to insist on keeping 10,000 men in Afghanistan, virtually forever. But that move sets up the paradox that it makes Ashraf Ghani look like an American puppet, and encourages even more young Afghan men to join the Taliban.
Related video:



    MOSCOW — Russian warplanes began airstrikes in Syria on Wednesday, adding an unpredictable new element to a multi-layered war that has already drawn in the United States and allies, created millions of refugees and expanded the reach of the Islamic State.

    Washington quickly criticized the airstrikes, which the Pentagon said apparently hit areas where Islamic State militants — ostensibly the intended targets — probably were not present. But U.S. officials said Moscow’s moves would not change a U.S.-led air campaign targeting Islamic State strongholds in Syria.

    The Russian strikes also sharply raised the stakes over competing visions for Syria outlined earlier this week at the United Nations, with Russian President Vladi­mir Putin insisting that Syria’s embattled government is the key to stability, and President Obama saying the “status quo” cannot stand after more than four years of bloodshed.

    In addition, Russia now gives bolstered firepower to its longtime ally, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, whose forces are fighting both the Islamic State and rebel factions, including some backed by the West.

    Assad’s forces are blamed for crackdowns and attacks that have forced more than 4 million people to flee the country, many of whom are now joining a wave of asylum seekers and migrants flooding Europe.

    Addressing the U.N. Security Council, Secretary of State John F. Kerry drove home Obama’s message, saying the answer to Syria’s civil war cannot be found in a military alliance with Assad.

    “But it can be found . . . through a broadly supported diplomatic initiative aimed at a negotiated political transition” that would “unite all Syrians who reject dictatorship and terrorism,” he said.

    Kerry further put Russia on notice, saying the United States would have “grave concerns” if Russian airstrikes “should strike targets where [Islamic State] and affiliated targets are not operating,” and instead hit U.S.-backed moderate opposition forces fighting Assad.

    He called on Russia and others to “support a U.N. initiative to broker a political transition” in Syria.

    “Further delay is unconscionable,” Kerry said.


  2. Memo to Hayseed and Bad ASS:

    Most of your comments are idiotic but worse yet boring and unimaginative. I will allow the three least of the fore described comments stand. Most of the others are going in the trash.

    Up you game, put them up on your own blog that no one reads, or get lost.

    1. We had to go into Afghanistan. All of Congress was for it. What's happening now is the direct result of Obama lowering our troop level. And this was the war Obama said we must win, if you recall.

      McClatchy Latest update: At least 400 e-mails on Hillary’s private server contained classified material.........Drudge

    2. You so funny Deuce...

      You delete all the time my posts...

      Mah nista nah hilya hazay?

    3. Hey Bob, are you "hayseed" and I am "bad ass" or you the "bad ass" and I'm the "hayseed"?

    4. I'm hoping we're both a little of each !


      Have you ever met up with a bad ass hay seed ?

      Ain't no fun, I can tell ya.....

    5. I'd like to be called "Jew Bear"...

      Seems to fit...

      Ash hates it that I hate people that hate me...

      I'd love to carve a swastika on their foreheads.....

      Inglorious Bastards...

      yeah, making the Jew haters OWN their hatred...


  3. Russia's going to bomb some jihadis in Syria?

    I'm having a hard time seeing the "downside."

    1. I'm glad somebody is stepping up to the plate.

    2. But Rufus, you LOVE the Jihadists...

      If fact you told us if you lived in Gaza you'd be a hamas member....

      And Hamas are the OG of jihadists...


      But it is interesting to watch RUSSIA bomb syrians...

  4. Kerry and Lavrov are having a joint press conference.

    1. They have, evidently, come to an agreement to not kill each other - today.

  5. I'm hoping in the final upshot that Syria gets divided up into little itsy bitsy parts......say five or so, an enclave for everyone.....

  6. Let me honest.

    Syria is a dump, Assad has killed over 360,000, created 14 million refugees, destroyed the nation and NOW? Russia is bombing it...

    Iraq is a dump, Maliki has gone sectarian on it, with Iran's help killed 550,000

    Sudan, Libya, Algeria and yemen are all dumps...

    Egypt is revoking 15 thousand palestinian's citizenship because they are deemed hostile and hamas agents... Also they are now flooding the tunnels with salt water.. Got to laugh about that one...

    The Fakistinians aka the Palestinians are lead by a holocaust denier named Abbas, serving his 10th year of a 4 year term, has succeeded in getting a flay raised at the UN, going broke and even pissing off the "unity" partners Hamas....

    Gaza is a dump, construction on homes and schools all have been suspended in order to REBUILD the war tunnels... One has to chuckle that thousands of truckloads of building materials are being diverted from helping the ordinary people in order to satisfy the blood lust of the original gangsters, the HAMAS.

    Lebanon is in a state of Shiite shit... Hezbollah has lost almost 20% of it's active duty "soldiers" in war against ISIS in Syria... meanwhile Iran has spent BILLIONS rebuilding the bunkers and tunnels of southern lebanon... Not to mention the gift of 75 tanks for Hezbollah... I wonder how are they going to hide those in the ordinary lebanese homes???

    And let's not forget Israel.... Masses and masses of unhappy Arab citizens of Israel have fled to gaza? europe? no? Oh well... Some great apartheid nation, heck arabs are not even hold office... oh, right they are.... ok, they have no access to Israeli Universities.. oh, well, no that's not true either....

    Well Israel now has the most successful water desalination plant on the planet. One of the world's largest natural gas fields, neck even Sodastream is trying to get syrian refugees to come and work in the negev!!!!! those 600 jobs that the palestinians lost (at 3 times the rate of west bank jobs) will be replaced by grateful arabs from syria...

    Well that's all..


  7. King Canute demonstrated to his fawning admirers that his authority was limited to the affairs of men, that he had no power to hold back the rising tide. If a king can’t do that, can a mere president discipline the sun?

    A climate of delusion

    President Obama tries one more time to make global warming cool

    Life is odd. Both Quirk and Rufus have been on the right track on this.

    'We don't have the data, or the modeling'

    'It's the weather, stupid'

  8. How do you stop this ?

    I haven't a clue, really.

    September 30, 2015
    14 shot in 15 hours in Chicago; Rahm says guns are the problem
    By Rick Moran

    Welcome to Mayor Rahm Emanuel's Wild, Wild West show in Chicago, where bullets fly thicker than fleas around a stray dog.

    Yesterday, the city saw a spasm of violence rare even for Chicago; 14 people were shot in 15 hours, including 6 dead.

    As is his wont, Rahmbo blamed the "poor values" of gangbangers and wants tougher penalties for gun crimes.

    Chicago Tribune:

    The first of those shootings occurred Monday evening when a family on its way back from an outing was gunned down in the Back of the Yards neighborhood, leaving a pregnant mother and a grandmother dead and three others -- including an 11-month-old boy -- wounded, police said.

    The second multiple shooting occurred about five hours later when two men and the mother of a 4-year-old were killed and two other people were wounded near a playground in the Fuller Park neighborhood on the South Side, according to police. A sister said the woman was killed coming to the aid of a relative.

    The burst of violence follows two straight weekends when more than 50 people were shot in Chicago. That's the first time that has happened on back-to-back weekends over the four years the Tribune has been tracking shootings. In August, more than 40 were shot on four consecutive weekends.

    So far this year, at least 2,300 people have been shot in Chicago, about 400 more than during the same period last year, according to a Tribune analysis. Through Sunday, homicides have risen to 359, up 21 percent from 296 a year earlier, according to preliminary data from Chicago police.

    Mayor Rahm Emanuel on Tuesday addressed the shooting in Back of the Yards, saying he was angry and “enough is enough.”

    As he often does, Emanuel railed against the poor values of gangbangers. “Wherever you live, you should be able to get out of your car and go to your home,” said Emanuel, who attended the opening of a renovated Red Line CTA station at Clark and Division streets.

    The mayor then returned to his oft-repeated themes of making all Chicago neighborhoods equally safe and calling for tougher penalties for crimes involving guns.

    “You can say this happened in the neighborhood of the Back of the Yards, but everybody (who) woke up this morning, or heard it last night, felt a pain of anguish, and it’s time that our criminal justice system and the laws as it relates to access to guns and the penalties for using 'em reflect the values of the people of the city of Chicago,” Emanuel said.

    More illegal guns have been confiscated in Chicago this year than in New York and Los Angeles combined. This would seem to point to a policing problem, except it's more complicated than that.

    Chicago is a major distribution node for the Sinaloa drug cartel; 80% of the drugs in the city flow from that one gang. The key, then, would seem to be to smash the conduit of illegal drugs and guns and bust up the networks that supply most of the Midwest with drugs – a task easier said than done. The bulk of Chicago's violence problem lies outside the city limits and actually originates in Mexico.

    But the Obama administration has no desire to get caught up in Mexico's war with the cartels, so no special enforcement methods are currently being considered. Clearly, in order to attack Chicago's gun violence, it's going to take a joint U.S.-Mexico-Chicago PD effort to break the back of Sinaloa and reduce the flow of guns and drugs into the city.

    Read more:
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  9. Interesting the lack of screams and cries from the usual suspects that moslems are being bombed with little to no warning...

    Oh yeah, it aint the IDF doing it....

    oh yeah, those "moslems" are not bombing Russia...


  10. Pooty is 'pro-active'.

    The moslems in and around south Russia are Sunni.....

  11. If you won't believe me, take it from Gary Kasparov -

    One of the major reasons for the rise of ISIS is the poorly thought out American withdrawal from Iraq after the Obama administration took over. With the withdrawal came the abandonment of the Sunni minority there that had been key to the Anbar Awakening that had helped make the surge a success and stabilize Iraq. ISIS was a direct result of that abandonment. One of the key questions asked by Sunni leaders to American commanders before they committed to the Awakening was, “are you going to stay”. Obama’s policy put the “lie” to their promises. Now, after failing to act when ISIS first rose and trying to blame others for the rise, the administration wants a part in the defeat of ISIS (which, by the way, will have to be much more of an effort that an occasional air strike, if it is to succeed).
    Gary Kasparov

    The difference between Obama and Putin?
    posted at 1:21 pm on September 30, 2015 by Bruce McQuain

    Good Night