Skip to comments.Take a Deep Breath (Iraq)
Posted on 04/10/2004 6:16:38 AM PDT by neverdem
Come on people, let's get a grip.
This week, Chicken Littles like Ted Kennedy and Robert Byrd were ranting that Iraq is another Vietnam. Pundits and sages were spinning a whole series of mutually exclusive disaster scenarios: Civil war! A nationwide rebellion!
Maybe we should calm down a bit. I've spent the last few days talking with people who've spent much of their careers studying and working in this region. We're at a perilous moment in Iraqi history, but the situation is not collapsing. We're in the middle of a battle. It's a battle against people who vehemently oppose a democratic Iraq. The task is to crush those enemies without making life impossible for those who fundamentally want what we want.
The Shiite violence is being fomented by Moktada al-Sadr, a lowlife hoodlum from an august family. The ruthless and hyperpoliticized Sadr has spent the past year trying to marginalize established religious figures, like Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, who come from a more quietist tradition and who believe in the separation of government and clergy. Sadr and his fellow putschists have been spectacularly unsuccessful in winning popular support. The vast majority of Iraqis do not want an Iranian-style dictatorship. Most see Sadr as a young, hotheaded murderer who terrorizes people wherever he goes.
He and his band have taken this opportunity to make a desperate bid for power, before democratic elections reveal the meagerness of their following.
He has cleverly picked his moment, and he has several advantages. He is exploiting wounded national pride. He is capitalizing on the Iraqis' frustration with the American occupation (they continually overestimate our competence, then invent conspiracy theories to explain why we haven't transformed Iraq).
Most important, Sadr has the advantages that always accrue to fascist thugs. He is vicious, while his opponents are civilized. Sadr and his band terrify people, and ride on a current of blood. They get financial and logistical support from Iran. They profit from the mayhem caused by assorted terrorists, like Imad Mugniyah, who are sowing chaos in Iraq. They need to spark a conflagration to seize power.
Sadr's domestic opponents are ill-equipped to deal with him. The police have revealed their weakness. Normal Iraqis are doing what they learned to do under Saddam; they are keeping their heads down. Clerics like Sistani, who operate by consensus, do not want to be seen siding with outsiders against a fellow Muslim.
Nonetheless, Sadr faces long odds. Iraqis may be frustrated with the Americans, but they don't want to jump from Baath fascism to theocratic fascism. In a February poll, only 10 percent of Iraqis said it was acceptable to attack Americans. In Kut yesterday, CNN reported, local tribesmen, disgusted by Sadr's violence, rose up against his troops. If you'd listened to the recent hysteria, you never would have expected that to happen.
Furthermore, many of the most influential Shiite groups in Iraq, such as the Dawa and Sciri parties, are invested in the process of building the new Iraq. Their policies don't jibe with ours, but they have a stake in a democratic future and would love to see Sadr eliminated. There are even signs that the Iranians themselves regard Sadr as hopelessly volatile.
Most important, leadership in the U.S. is for once cool and resolved. This week I spoke with leading Democrats and Republicans and found a virtual consensus. We're going to keep the June 30 handover deadline. We're going to raise troop levels if necessary. We're going to wait for the holy period to end and crush Sadr. As Joe Lieberman put it, a military offensive will alienate Iraqis, but "the greater risk is [Sadr] will grow into something malevolent." As Charles Hill, the legendary foreign service officer who now teaches at Yale, observed, "I've been pleasantly surprised by the boldness and resolve."
Nonetheless, yesterday's defections from the Iraqi Governing Council show that populist pressure on the good guys is getting intense. Maybe it is time to pause, to let passions cool, to let the democrats marshal their forces. If people like Sistani are forced to declare war on the U.S., the gates of hell will open up.
Over the long run, though, the task is unavoidable. Sadr is an enemy of civilization. The terrorists are enemies of civilization. They must be defeated.
After reading this, I really did take a deep breath and am breathing easier.
The media reports make me much more nervous than the real thing does. I should take my own advice and just not read any of it. LOL
Without a doubt, this slob of a self-loather, is the biggest coward in the Senate.....
and that's saying something.
The guy is just all wet......again!
This is the single most important thing we can do to defeat the terrorists, we MUST keep our promises.
This article is spot on:
Amen to that. I've been amazed at how many Chicken Littles I've seen on Free Republic this week. If you don't have the stones for a real War on Terror, change your name to Mary and move to Spain. Leave the fighting to the men.
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