Bits and Pieces

Friday, April 09, 2004

Moqtada al-Sadr

Events in Iraq has awakened the military strategist in us all these past few days, as coalition deaths increase and Democrats look forward to using the word 'quagmire' a whole lot more.

Much of the recent news coverage has pointed towards the cleric Moqtada al-Sadr as a ringleader of radical Shiites (as had much of the blogosphere). I'm not sure if this is wise.

We always like to set ourselves aims and objectives in war. We like to think that if we could just 'do that' it would all work out OK. "If we could only find the WMD's the world would get behind us". "If we could capture Saddam the war would tun around", etc. etc.

The most recent objective like this has been to take out Sadr in the hope that the Shiite militia will collapse. The problem is that in their eagerness to identify a head to cut off, the administration have more than likely overestimated Sadr's influence. Sadr strikes me as a nobody, a young man caught in the media spotlight. It suits us politically to identify him as a leader, but what happens when we devote excessive resources to handle him only to find that the uprising continues after his capture or death? James Risen agrees (hat tip: Kevin Drum).

These shortsighted ploys to convince us that we are winning, or at least making progress, are getting old. We can't pick a new enemy every week to overcome. This week it's the Shiites, next week the Sunnis, followed by the French, the Iranians and the French again.

The right wing insist that we need to see this through and maintain our resolve, echoing the words of the President. I agree. We're in so deep now that we have no choice but to stay the course in this pointless, ill-advised mess. Anything else would be political suicide for Bush and nothing less than manslaughter by negligence for the Iraqis.

However, when we talk about seeing it through, I'm talking about Bush coming clean. I'm saying he should stand up in front of a camera and tell the world that "Hey, I made a mistake. We weren't under threat. We didn't have to be at this point. I'm sorry." He can then go on to say that we have to see it through, pile in more troops and seal that country up so tight that a fart would have nowhere to go but back inside.
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