Empty Days

Tuesday, April 13, 2004



Smash 'em, Lt.Smash ::

While the Brits are preaching restraint to their US allies, the war-bloggers at home are thirsting for a big massive strike on all those goddam terrorists who are disrupting american nirvana in Iraq. Finally a much-wished-for rallying cry is heard and they are flocking en mass: IRAQ - WHAT TO DO: DROP THE HAMMER NOW. I am sure we're about to hear the same rhetoric on FOXchannel - after a few days of "shameful and misguided" self-doubt :-0

It doesn't look like this simplistic mentality can be changed by any reasoned arguments. Let's hope this mood stays at home, where it belongs - in absentia of any grasp of the actual situation on the ground. (Short version of the hammer-article: Al-Sadr, Baathists, Iranians - they're all in mesh.)

It is an amazingly misinformed piece of writing - passing itself off as "having it from the highest sources". Not a rarity in US press. The fact that Al-Sistani, who is en route to become a household name to american tv-watchers, is actually an Iranian is not mentioned. Only Al-Sadr has any dealings with Iranians. What's more, Al-Sadr has been in mesh with the Sunni baathist thugs from even before the US invasion - the whole thing is highly coordinated, so all you gotta do is wipe it out with a small nuke. Here's how:
Moqtada Sadr's organization must be destroyed. Sadr must be captured or killed. If he hides in a mosque, go in after him. We're not impressing our enemies with our restraint - they play the religion card as the ace that never fails.

And the parallel operations in the Sunni Triangle must be pursued to the complete subjugation of Fallujah and the defeat of any terrorist who raises a gun.

Our president must make no mistake: Any "settlement," any halt short of the annihilation of the killers who want to destroy the future of Iraq, will be read throughout that troubled country and the greater Islamic world as a resounding victory for the terrorists. They'll be viewed as having defeated the U.S. military, stopping it in its tracks.

Reality is immaterial. In the Middle East, perception trumps facts. Only uncompromising strength impresses our enemies. The president can't afford to listen to the counsels of caution.
Simple? A piece of cake. And who cares what comes after - like keeping 500,000 troops on the ground or whatever. After all it's not even about Iraq - it's about how we must impress "the greater Islamic world". That's who we're at war with, and let's make it as clear as possible.

"Reality is immaterial" in some parts of the Western world as well, it would seem.

***

"The president can't afford to listen to the counsels of caution" - like this one, for instance:
In early June 1920, Gertrude Bell, the extraordinary woman who helped run Iraq for Britain, wrote a letter to her father on some "violent agitation" against British rule: "[The extremists] have adopted a line difficult in itself to combat, the union of the Shi'ah and Sunni, the unity of Islam. And they are running it for all it's worth ... There's a lot of semi-religious semi-political preaching ... and the underlying thought is out with the infidel. My belief is that the weightier people are against it?I know some of them are bitterly disgusted?but it's very difficult to stand out against the Islamic cry and the longer it goes on the more difficult it gets."

In fact, the "agitation" quickly turned into a mass (mostly Shia) revolt. British forces were able to crush it over three long months, but only after killing almost 10,000 Iraqis, suffering about 500 deaths themselves and spending the then exorbitant sum of 50 million pounds. After the 1920 revolt, the British fundamentally reoriented their strategy in Iraq. They abandoned plans for ambitious nation-building and instead sought a way to transfer power quickly to trustworthy elites.
It's a tired scenario of any occupation. There is a rich history to look at here - Americans are most definitely not the first ones to take a go at it. And the Arab world has not changed "for the better" since those not-so-distant times - it is more violent and more defiant than ever. Crushing Iraq for another short-lived show of force simply won't do.

Btw, notice the proportion: 500 Brits to 10,000 Iraqis over 3 months. Sounds familiar?

***

And just for good measure, some musings by a pro-american Iraqi in Baghdad:
In Najaf and Kufa, Iraqi police and ICDC have returned to the streets following an agreement with Al-Mahdi army after a whole week's absence. There is talk of negotiations between the Hawza and Muqtada Al-Sadr, with Mohammed Ridha Al-Sistani (the Grand Ayatollah's eldest son) and a son of Ayatollah Mohammed Ishaq Al-Fayadh together with other representatives of Shi'ite clerics as intermediaries. A spokesman for the delegation said that they would later name a renowned Iraqi figure (from outside the GC) to act as an intermediary between them and the CPA. He also announced that an important statement is to be issued tomorrow by Sistani on behalf of the Hawza alilmiyyah that would be to the effect of a warning to coalition forces if they ever tried to attack Najaf or arrest Al-Sadr. This in response to Gen. Sanchez' remarks that Al-Sadr would be arrested or killed and that American troops are moving to Najaf. If that is true, it would mean a full scale Jihad against Americans by Shia followers of Sistani in the event of any movement against Sadr. A telling sign that Sistani and his colleagues are losing patience.
Talk about situation on the ground...





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