May 5, 2004

It's the other guys who are in a quagmire...

I was pleased of course to see the New York Times article, on 150 Shiite leaders urging Moktada al-Sadr to end his rebellion:

...Several Shiite leaders acknowledged that they had delayed issuing their statement until there were clear signs that public opinion among Shiites had moved strongly against Mr. Sadr. Reports in the past two weeks have spoken of a shadowy death squad calling itself the Thulfiqar Army shooting dead at least seven of Mr. Sadr's militiamen in Najaf, and several thousand people attended an anti-Sadr protest meeting outside the Imam Ali shrine in the city on Friday, according to several of the meeting's participants.

Mr. Mahdi, from the Sciri group, which is close to Ayatollah Sistani, was blunt about Mr. Sadr's decline in popularity. "He's 100 percent isolated across most of the southern provinces; he's even isolated in Najaf," he said. "The people there regard him as having taken them hostage." He said Mr. Sadr had also been criticized by his most powerful religious backer, Grand Ayatollah Kazem Hossein Haeri, based in the Iranian city of Qum, who had urged Mr. Sadr to pull his militiamen out of Najaf and Karbala and to stop storing weapons in mosques...

We knew already, from polls and from the elections that have been held in soutern Iraqi towns, that most Iraqis want a multi-party parliamentary democracy, and do not support would-be dictators, religious or otherwise.

But a loud and violent minority can drown-out and cow a moderate majority. Especially one that hasn't developed the institutions and connections that allow moderates to apply influence. It may well still happen, but it doesn't look like this is the time.

And a lot of people here were deliriously happy to have a chance to declare defeat, and began enquiring where one goes to surrender. Hey, it's a tradition! A lot of Americans are proud that we abandoned the South Vietnamese to slaughter and "re-education camps." I suspect Mr Kerry is one of them. They are eager to find an excuse to abandon the Iraqis to any convenient dictator.

Some people were saying that, "the Shiites are rising up against us." That's totally stupid; if they were we would be bundled out of Iraq in a week. Shiites in toto outnumber us 100 to 1! Or "We're trapped in a hopeless quagmire. I said so when we failed to capture Baghdad the first week. And now I've been proved right." Yeah, you hope so. Got that last helicopter ready to take off from the embassy roof?

You know who's really feeling like they are in a quagmire? Those people who are attacking us! Nothing's quite working out as they hoped.

Najaf and Karbala were boomtowns until a month ago. People were making big money just renting out spots on their floors for pilgrims to sleep. Now the pilgrimages are stopped--until Mr Sadr is neutralized. This is an education for Iraqis. The next "Mahdi" will have a harder time of it.

And in Falluja the people who attacked us are apparently penned in in the northwest corner of the city. They can still get a lot of civilians killed (which the world will blame on us) and inflict casualties on us (Which Democrats will say are "unbearable," though they are utterly blasé about 500 murders a year in a Democrat stronghold like Washington DC. In fact the two cities have much in common. Democrats want ordinary people disarmed and passive, while thugs and killers get to run amok.)

BUT they certainly don't look "triumphant" any more. They keep attacking, they keep taking losses, but we're not running away. Think how frustrated they feel right now. And they are trapped. They can't just write-off Iraq as unimportant, as if it were Afghanistan. It's part of the heartland of Arab culture. They have to fight!

Posted by John Weidner at May 5, 2004 1:01 PM
Weblog by John Weidner