IF ONLY ALL LAWYERS WERE THIS GOOD

Another great obit from the Daily Telegraph, of one Patrick Pakenham. Money quote:

During his legal career, Pakenham became something of a legend, and, 25 years on, accounts of his exploits are still current. During his appearance before an irascible and unpopular judge in a drugs case, the evidence, a bag of cannabis, was produced. The judge, considering himself an expert on the subject, said to Pakenham, with whom he had clashed during the case: “Come on, hand the exhibit up to me quickly.” Then he proceeded to open the package. Inserting the contents in his mouth, he chewed it and announced: “Yes, yes of course that is cannabis. Where was the substance found, Mr Pakenham?” The reply came swiftly, if inaccurately: “In the defendant’s anus, my Lord.”
Pakenham’s final appearance in court has been variously recorded. As defence counsel in a complicated fraud case, he was due to address the court during the afternoon session, and had partaken of a particularly well-oiled lunch.
“Members of the jury,” he began, “it is my duty as defence counsel to explain the facts of this case on my client’s behalf; the Judge will guide you and advise you on the correct interpretation of the law and you will then consider your verdict. Unfortunately,” Pakenham went on, “for reasons which I won’t go into now, my grasp of the facts is not as it might be. The judge is nearing senility; his knowledge of the law is pathetically out of date, and will be of no use in assisting you to reach a verdict. While by the look of you, the possibility of you reaching a coherent verdict can be excluded.” He was led from the court.

And now he’s been led to the final one.

HEADS UP

I’ll be on Fareed Zakaria’s PBS show this weekend discussing Tony Blair. And on July 4, I’m honored to be featured in NPR’s “This I Believe” series. My objects of faith? Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

POLLING THE WAR

Bush would never do such a thing, would he? Oh, wait … MysteryPollster has the goods and some analysis.

THE OPEN BORDER

“That border is the equivalent of the New Jersey Turnpike for insurgents. They come up, they pay their bribe or even just walk through without that, and they go off to do what they do,” – Col. H.R. McMaster, commander of the Army’s 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment, about a stretch of the Syria-Iraq border. The main problem is that most of the border residents have always made their money by smuggling illegal goods for bribes. Smuggling insurgents is simply a new branch of their ancient business. Disrupt the entire system and you lose the native Iraqis.

QUESTIONS FOR TOM CRUISE

Kevin Drum has a few good ones.

MEET THE SMOOTHIES

Now, even the heartland is embracing hair-free men. It’s almost enough to regret being gay.

DON’T FOLLOW YOUR HEART: Kate Marie of “What’s The Rumpus?” differs from Steve Jobs.

THE POWER OF NIGHTMARES: The writer of the anti-neo-con documentary explains himself.

THE BRIT INVASION: This time, it’s purveying crappy television.

THE SYRIAN BORDER

The more you ponder what’s going on in Iraq, the more you realize the wisdom of Michael Ledeen’s broken record that this is a regional war, and you simply cannot win it within the confines of one country. I’m very grateful for your emails and, rather than give you a single conclusion, let me map out the options I’ve received. The first is that the open Syrian border is a deliberate policy, the fly-trap theory, if you will. According to this theory, we want the Jihadists from Saudi Arabia, Syria and elsewhere to come to Iraq so we can deal with them there. The only problem is that the mayhem this causes in Iraq undermines the political project, generates casualties among U.S. soldiers, and so weakens morale at home. It also means the possibility of turning Iraq into Jihad Central, making it harder and harder for us to leave – ever. Flytrap would make sense if we didn’t have to sustain American morale.

IT’S IMPOSSIBLE: More plausible to my mind is the simple fact that we cannot do it, and so we are making a virtue out of a dreadful necessity. Here’s a blunt email laying out the case:

My CIA World Fact book tells me the Iraq-Syrian border is 605 kilometers; the Lebanese-Israeli border is only 79 kilometers. To truly seal the Iraq-Syrian border (even with plenty of gee-whiz sensors) you are still going to need boots on the ground to interdict border crossers. Bombing everyone is not an option and only securing paved / established border crossings will just ensure infiltration occurs by foot. For argument’s sake, lets say you post soldiers every 250 meters along the border. They will need to be in pairs and can probably pull 8 hour shifts. So for every guard point you need at least 6 soldiers. However, this does not account for logistics personnel supporting those troops. Let’s be optimistic and say we have a 50/50 “tooth to tail” ratio with 1 support soldier for every combat soldier. With this set-up, you would still need (605KM) x (24 Soldiers / KM) = 29,040 total troops. Not exactly “a handful of guys on the ground.”

But not completely out of reach either? An Israeli reader debunks even that possibility:

I live near and serve in my reserve unit on the Lebanese border. To guard against infiltration, the Israel Defense Forces deploys a division on this border. The exact numbers are secret, but we are talking about at least 3 – 4,000 combat troops, plus support and logistical units from Northern Command. This is in a period of relative quiet. Our defenses, both physical and electronic are also highly developed and have taken years and millions of dollars to install. Now take a map of the Middle East and compare the Israel-Lebanese border with the Syrian-Iraq border and you can begin to understand the size of the problem the Americans face. Given that their forces are already pretty stretched, I don’t know where they’d get the men. They would also lack the necessary infrastructure of bases, patrol roads, fences, obstacles, detection devices, etc. to make it work. This would be a huge project. Plus, the locals have been smuggling through this area for centuries; they know it like the back of their hands. Don’t expect the Americans to try to “seal off” the border with Syria any time soon.

Gulp.

LEAST WORST OPTIONS: The third best option is what we are apparently doing: trying to glean intelligence on groups of Jihadists gathering on the border and conducting operations like Matador and Sword to round up or kill the infiltrators. We can also lean heavily on Syria and Saudi Arabia to do what they can. The Saudis, of course, couldn’t give a shit. The Syrian Baathists are reeling from their Lebanon retreat and would be even more isolated if a Shiite-dominated democracy emerged next door. So our options are limited. Which is not good news. Then there’s the slightly paranoid paleo-con explanation, which you can read on Steve Sailer’s blog here. I fear a war of endless attrition with these maniacs, a war that will make a transition to Iraqi democracy far more protracted than we anticipated, and far more difficult than the administration has prepared the American people for. Here’s another emailer:

Controlling the movement and actions of a determined few people in a country as large as Iraq is very, very difficult. It’s difficult even in cities. There are plenty of examples of how to do it though. What it takes is a massive and ruthless secret police. That’s what Saddam had. That’s how the Soviet Union operated. The very name we use for countries that exert nearly complete controll of their citizens is telling: Police State.
This is why we are doomed to failure in Iraq. We don’t have the will or the ability to set up a massive and ruthless secret police system. That’s one reason we didn’t persue ultimate victory in Viet Nam. We could have crushed the north Vietnamese but then what? How were we going to rule the country? We knew that even a defeated North Vietnam didn’t mean the end of fighting. The Viet Cong had been fighting a geurilla was for 30 years. Military defeat of their national army would have meant nothing. And we knew from our experience with the south Vietnamese that we could never get good enough intelligence, never be ruthless enough, to defeat a determined insurgency. So we did what we are doing in Iraq. We tried to “win hearts and minds.” Anytime you see that slogan, hide your sons and dughters. All it means is that we have gone as far as we can militarily and now we’re stuck.

If someone has a more cheerful and realistic scenario, please email me and explain why I’m wrong.