April 08, 2004


US military blogger Diggs opposes certain widely-held views on Moqtaba al-Sadr:

He’s pitting a poorly led and poorly armed militia against a well led, superbly trained, and heavily armed military. The results are as forgone a conclusion as were what would happen when we invaded in March of last year. In addition to being forced to act too early, he is being forced to expose his militia to what will hopefully be devastating fire where the militia, attacking our compounds, will not be able to hide among the Iraqi civilians. Lastly, he is clearly acting against the overall wishes of a majority of the Iraqi people who are trying to get on with their lives, and who may not want the US Army around any more, but are even less likely to want Sadr’s militia around controlling their lives.

Posted by Tim Blair at April 8, 2004 03:40 AM

First of all, in all sincerity, God Bless all these Coalition troops for doing this tough job.

Second, I feel there is a potentially good side to this conflict in that it rounds all these psycho's up into a nice group to get rid of. Better than having them hide in their holes til the military presence is reduced there.

Posted by: Dash at April 8, 2004 at 03:55 AM

I mostly agree. But there's a danger. Sadr has to be crushed now that he's played his hand but it has to be done quickly and cleanly, before neutral Iraqis begin to sympathize with his plight. The coalition has a difficult task.

Posted by: chip at April 8, 2004 at 04:12 AM

There's more to this:

How many people realize, that the Coalition has chosen to pop this boil now, rather than let it build up until the time of transition?

One reason for the violence, if you think about it, is that the fanatics do not enjoy public support. Sure, they have the "Sunni Triangle", but notice how they keep changing tactics? They have to, because they are not only hiding from the US troops, but from an increasing number of Iraqis who have no love for them.

Vietnam, this AIN'T.

Posted by: GDubya at April 8, 2004 at 06:14 AM

He's not representing the Iraqi people, he's representing the Iranian black turbans and Hezbullox.

Posted by: Sandy P at April 8, 2004 at 06:41 AM

Tim, check out this headline:

Iraq may launch Good Friday attacks
April 7, 2004, Australian Associated Press Pty Limited (AAP) via The Age (Australia).

Shi'ite militia in Iraq are preparing to launch simultaneous attacks on coalition forces on Good Friday that could also target foreign civilians working in Iraq, an Italian newspaper reported, citing Italy's military intelligence service SISMI.

“Iraq” may launch Good Friday attacks???

So now these militias of thugs represent, it seems, the resistance & legitimate government of Iraq? Fighting those invaders, the Coalition?

But of course there’s no bias in the press.

Posted by: ForNow at April 8, 2004 at 07:34 AM

Here's my take:

I think the CPA and the Coalition forces bave played out the situations in Fallujah and with Al-Sadr almost to perfection. After taking out the first of the many layers of violence and intimidation dominating Iraqi society, Saddam Hussein and the Baathist party, the Coalition has bided its time and waited for the inner layers to make a mistake. And so they have and the Coalition will make them pay.

First, it would make no sense to directly confront the various militant Sunni and Shia factions as long as they confined their actions to words and not deeds. Indeed, the CPA tolerated a lot of "free speech" from various factional newspapers that would be considered an incitement to riot or civil insurrection in the U.S. This was necessary to reassure the many fence-sitters that the U.S. and its Coalition partners would put into action their preaching of democracy, free speech and tolerance.

Now that some factions have stepped over the line, the Coalition's measured response throws into high relief the consequences of free speech (nothing) vs. the consequences of violence (boot up the ass). Also, after the initial press oh-woe-is-me-it's-Tet-all-over-again wailing and gnashing of teeth, the fog of war will clear and the limited popular support these factions have will be exposed, thus giving the Coalition a propaganda victory.

Additionally, the Coalition provoked a first strike by these groups by imposing a strict June 30 deadline for handing sovereignty back to the Iraqis. The Saddam/Sunni diehards and Al-Sadr Mahti Militia could no longer afford to sit on their hands. When they moved to open violence, the Coalition was provided the perfect excuse to *really* crack down on those factions. The factions were forced to act from a position of weakness and not at a "time of their own choosing", as Rumsfeld likes to say.

The Sunni factions in Fallujah made a grievous strategic mistake by abandoning asymmetrical guerilla tactics and attempting to defend set urban positions. Sure, some elements of the Coalition forces will be neutralized by the urban conditions, especially for fear of civilian casualties, but alternating north/south or east/west forays will force the limited Sunni forces to whipsaw back and forth within the city's perimeter to defend ever-shrinking territory and to deplete their energy. Events may have already overtaken this analysis, however.

Al-Sadr is bringing a knife to a gun fight and he knows it, as evidenced by his abandonment of the Golden Mosque and flight to Najaf. He is a minor player trying to even the playing field with more senior clerics through violence and intimidation. I don't think he will be able to count on a general insurrection as other clerics will not, for the most part, endorse his actions.

In the broader strategic plan of establishing a beachhead of democracy in the Arab world, I suspect there will greater perils ahead. It's hard to see how the current situation is more than a sideshow, a pinprick to the elephant's foot.

Posted by: Tongue Boy at April 8, 2004 at 08:06 AM

Tongue Boy I think you're right you know, we've got the bastards just where we want them, I'd even venture to predict that by... say... maybe sometime this week or next at the latest we'll have em whipped; the "real" Iraqis will be greeting us with flowers in the streets, there will be democracy and freedom through the land, the rest of the middle east will spontaneously follow and... well you know the rest.

Posted by: dunidid at April 8, 2004 at 09:52 AM

dunidid - So what's your solution, smartguy?

Posted by: Matt Moore at April 8, 2004 at 10:40 AM

This guy is talking up civil war.

Posted by: ilibcc at April 8, 2004 at 12:04 PM

Matt, dunididi-doo's solution is to get back as fast as possible to those halcyon days of 2000: watching the stock market, following our favorite teams, fawning over celebs -- you know, the important stuff that distinguished our civilization a few years ago.

Never mind the explosions and the odd skyscraper collapsing...

Posted by: Carl in N.H. at April 8, 2004 at 12:25 PM

Actually, Tongue Boy's given a pretty accurate evaluation.

Scoff if you like, dunidid, but there are a lot of Iraqis who were actually pissed off with the Coalition for not coming around to pick up the Ba'athists, Republican Guards, Fedeyeen, and Shi'a militants in the last 12 months.

Those creeps have been hanging around neighborhoods like gang members terrorizing the locals while the Coalition tolerated them shutting down Christian-run liquor stores in Basra, for example.

Now that they've taken up arms against the Coalition (a lethal miscalculation), the gloves come off.

It was mentioned on CNN that the Italians claim the Mahdi Army was using women and children as human shields and that several were killed as a result. So dunidid, I think the civilians will be relieved when these bad guys are dead.

Posted by: JDB at April 8, 2004 at 12:26 PM

we'll see boys but ya'll been wrong so far.

Posted by: dunidid at April 8, 2004 at 12:40 PM

I think the thugs who hang out in mosques are the wrong ones, Dunedin NZ.

Posted by: ilibcc at April 8, 2004 at 12:52 PM

"we'll see boys but ya'll been wrong so far"

Where? How? I want hard data and facts.

PS. I am a girl.

Posted by: Katherine at April 8, 2004 at 12:55 PM

Well, Katherine,

No flowers, no WMD, no public support for the governing council or the constitution (which most iraqis realise keeps most power in occupier hands), increasing resentment and fury at the occupiers, rising death toll, increasing number of deserters from the 'New Iraq' army (Pentagon est. of 30%... quite large, yes?), larger number of attackers, greater diversity in background of attackers, electricity still not 24/7 for the majority of country (when nasty ol' Saddam had it back up and running months after Gulf War I), unemployment around 60%... I could totally go on.

Fox News isn't the truth, babe.

PS. Why are resistance fighters who target uniformed occupation soldiers labelled 'terrorists' in US media? Terrorists target civilians, by definition, and resistance to occupation is legal under international law.

Posted by: Adam at April 8, 2004 at 01:43 PM

Fox News isn't the truth, babe.

Sneering undergraduate condescension.

This isn't Fox News.

Posted by: ilibcc at April 8, 2004 at 02:07 PM


Just about all your statistics are wrong or irrelevant. I seem to remember the left wing pundits using the same sort of tactics before. You knw, the millions of refugees, the thousands of civillian casualties, the widespread famine, the fighting power of the Iraqi army. They were wrong then and they are wrong now.

I'm surprised you didn't mention the millions of tonnes of raw sewerage that was supposed to be pumped into the Euphrates every day because of the invasion. But of course, Mark Steyn and a lot of other sensible pundits showed that the sewerage dumping was a complete myth.

The New York Times isn't the only truth, mate.

Posted by: Toryhere at April 8, 2004 at 02:10 PM

Too much stupidity for a full Fisking. Couple quick shots:

>greater diversity in background of attackers

Yep - Iranian, Syrian, Yemeni...

>electricity still not 24/7 for the majority of
>country (when nasty ol' Saddam had it back up and
>running months after Gulf War I)

And Mussolini made the trains run on time. Jesus, what is it with you people and your admiration for logistically efficient tyrants?

Let's not forget 100% literacy in Cuba, or full employment under Hitler.

>unemployment around 60%...

Wow, a whole year after the war that replaced a centralized command economy under a brutal dictator, and this third-world nation doesn't have 5% unemployment and two cars in every garage. Why do you people expect total perfection, right now? What environment of instant gratification did you grow up in? Are you out of your middle-class-suburban-adolescent-years yet? Don't you know it takes time to re-train a genital-electrocuting specialist?

The West is becoming a culture of whining children.
I could totally go on.

Posted by: Dave S. at April 8, 2004 at 02:13 PM

Whoops. Too quick with the "Post" button. That last bit should have been:

>I could totally go on.

I could totally, like, shove #2 pencils in my ears and eyes if, y'know, you did. Totally.

Posted by: Dave S. at April 8, 2004 at 02:18 PM

Sure, this is nothing like Vietnam.
What would a silly lefty know.

Posted by: Sincerity Slips at April 8, 2004 at 02:34 PM


PS. Why are resistance fighters who target uniformed occupation soldiers labelled 'terrorists' in US media? Terrorists target civilians, by definition, and resistance to occupation is legal under international law.

Get your facts straight, boy. Your "heros" (they must be so to you, to call them "resistance fighters") have murdered civilians as well as attacking soldiers. Remember? Car bombs? Drive by shootings? And so on? Do you think anyone not actively killing Coalition troops are open game?

Or is your head too far up your ass to get a proper amount of oxygen? In either case, go back to school and learn how to think.

Posted by: JeffS at April 8, 2004 at 02:38 PM

Sincerity Slips sez....

Sure, this is nothing like Vietnam.
What would a silly lefty know.

We are barely one year into this, and a bunch of people who are surely objective in their views are proclaiming this as a "Vietnam". These wizards are omnipotent, knows all, and says even more. It says so right there on the label.

At best, "SS", this is a prediction. At best. At worst, it's giving aid and comfort to terrorists.

Allowing you the benefit of the doubt, it's simple fear mongering, running around screaming "The sky is falling, the sky is falling!" Pure stupidity.

A bunch of lightly armed terrorists (not repeat NOT "resistance fighters") step up their attacks, "occupy" cities, and take on modern, well equipped soldiers toe to toe, and you actually can compare this to Vietnam?!?!?!?!!!

Egads, your hatred and loathing is actually enhancing your natural stupidity and self-made ignorance.

In 10 years, turn back and look at this. Then, and only then, can you or your fellow lefty loons proclaim this to be another "Vietnam".

In the meantime, if you are so concerned about the loss of life, help by not giving morale support to terrorists. They feed on you and your brethern, you stupid twit. Wake up and smell the coffee.

Posted by: JeffS at April 8, 2004 at 02:50 PM

Adam, I don't know where you're writing from (I'm in New York), but I haven't heard of you or your fellow "resistance fighters" being called "terrorists" in the US media lately. They are widely and routinely referred to as "insurgents", though as JeffS points out that may be too lenient. Either way, I'd shoot twice.

Posted by: Sweete at April 8, 2004 at 03:03 PM

"we'll see boys but ya'll been wrong so far."

Guess that means dunidid doesn't have a solution, all he can do is troll. No surprise.

Posted by: Matt Moore at April 8, 2004 at 03:04 PM

Sincerity Slips' silly lefty: "I see some comparison because, in both cases, you had a largely American army, not completely but largely, trying to support or establish a state in a country that was foreign and alien to them," Mr Fraser said.

"So I think it's clear that America can succeed, since there are so many obvious parallels to the occupation of Japan and West Germany," Mr Fraser did not conclude.

Posted by: Matt Moore at April 8, 2004 at 03:11 PM

JeffS, take a breath.
Read the links.
And try again when you think you have access to more secure information than a former Defence/Prime Minister.

"help by not giving morale support to terrorists. They feed on you and your brethern(sic), you stupid twit"......really??

Posted by: Sincerity Slips at April 8, 2004 at 03:31 PM

"Fox News isn't the truth, babe.

Sneering undergraduate condescension.

This isn't Fox News."

But the paper is owned by the same man!

Posted by: Ron at April 8, 2004 at 03:34 PM

M.M. I don't have a solution but the scarey thing is neither do the Americans. They just believe their own bullshit and charge headlong into an ill-conceived venture.

Posted by: dunidid at April 8, 2004 at 03:35 PM

Actually SS you are incorrect, this is nothing like Vietnam. Democrats are the losers who got us into and escalataed the war in Vietnam.

Posted by: Harry at April 8, 2004 at 03:36 PM

Sincerity Slips - Did you just link to a This Modern World for support? Bwwwaaaahaha.

dunidid - Some of us Americans feel that we do have a solution. Osama is dead, Saddam is in custody, Saddam's sons are dead, Col. Gaddafi is playing nice, the list goes on. All supported and perpetrated terrorism, all have been neutralized. You can thank us Americans (and Brits and Australians and Poles and...) for our ill-conceived, bullshit ventures later.

Posted by: Matt Moore at April 8, 2004 at 03:48 PM

SS, please don't wave the credentials of a former defense/prime minister as conclusive proof. The key word is "former". Senator Ted Kennedy refers to Iraq as "Bush's Vietnam", and probably does have access to relevant data.....and I disagree with him on that.

The fact is, you and the others simply don't know. It's an opinion that I strongly disagree with. I don't know for a fact myself. It's just that I try not to panic (or gloat, like some people) whenever terrorists get busy. I have some faith in the plan.

As for your link, golly, a comic strip! By Tom Tomorrow, no less. What was that I said earlier? Oh, yes, "...and a bunch of people who are surely objective in their views..."

Such a ripping statement! Such eloquence!

And you are still a stupid twit.

Posted by: JeffS at April 8, 2004 at 04:04 PM

Proof positive, yet again, that the average Spleenette won't read a link out of fear that it might challenge their entrenched view.
Why don't you folks lighten up a little? So what, I used a comic strip to "support" my point. If you had taken the time to read it, Jeff, you would have seen it (the Tom Tomorrow comic) was in sync with your view; ie:we don't know exactly what the "terrorists" are thinking.
No matter how much you bleat about your "opinion" JeffS, these are the comments of the serving Liberal Defense Minister during the Vietnam conflict. No Panic, not a trace of gloating.
Sure his outlook doesn't mesh with yours, but does that mean everything the man has to say is complete tripe?

Posted by: Sincerity Slips at April 8, 2004 at 04:40 PM


I went to that link hoping it was a site that said something different. It was a political comic strip. No, I didn't read it. Gee, what was I supposed to think? That you drew it?

As to the former leader.....again, big deal. Yes, he has experience with Vietnam. Yes, he has an opinion that Iraq is like Vietnam. So what? I see your retired politician and raise you one President. You know -- Bush. He has an opinion. He has data. He has knowledge. Do you respect that? Do you accept that? No, or you wouldn't be throwing links at us.

SS, when someone argues by whipping a document in my face and tells me to read it and see their point, I don't listen. That's because I have learned that such people have nothing to say.

If you agree with me on something, kindly say so. If you don't agree, say so. I can actually be civil. But don't make me infer from your implication using a third party. This is simple courtesy. I told you what I thought. Don't reply by proxy.

Posted by: JeffS at April 8, 2004 at 04:59 PM

Sincerity, Fraser says at the end that US troops will still be there after sovereignity is handed over, as if the presence of US troops makes a country into another Vietnam.

US troops are still in Germany. Guess Germany's another Vietnam.

Same logic.

Oh, yeah, forgot to add: You're an idiot. You crave another Vietnam so that you can preen in your self-righteousness.

Tell that to the South Vietnamese who suffered so.

Posted by: ushie at April 8, 2004 at 10:16 PM

Well said, Ushie.

Posted by: JeffS at April 9, 2004 at 01:02 AM

Yep, it's just like Vietnam. Well, except that the insurgents don't have the political and material support of two great powers like China and the Soviet Union. Oh, and they don't have an allied million-man army soaking up US resources like the VC had the NVA. Oh, and they don't have safe havens to retreat to and resupply from that the US is prohibited from attacking. Aside from that, it's just like Vietnam. Except that the casualties on both sides are miniscule in comparison. Oh, and... ah, forget it.

Actually, it is like Vietnam in that the defeatist, subversive media and all the other hate-America lefties see any difficulty as a sign of defeat and trumpet it as such, to the detriment of the troops and the mission.

Posted by: Dave S. at April 9, 2004 at 01:40 AM

The believers in freedom are winning in Iraq and the opponents of freedom are losing badly. They know it and are desperate. They are trying to create an impression of Vietnam and Tet and are being materially aided by their US enablers such as Kennedy. The absurdity of Kennedy comparing his brother's war to Bush is rich. His brother was a foreign policy moron who almost blundered his way into ending the world. This foreign policy weakness appears to be genetic.

Posted by: Dean Douthat at April 9, 2004 at 01:54 AM

Dave S:

A good analysis. Terrorists and insurgents need a safe haven, and external support. The VC had North Vietnam, China, and the USSR.

Those terrorists in Iraq have neither. They only have useful idiots around the world. Like, oh, Sincerity Slips.

Posted by: JeffS at April 9, 2004 at 02:28 AM

SS isn't Fisk, is he?

Posted by: JEM at April 9, 2004 at 02:55 AM

With all apologies to SS - I have seen more of FIsk and I am way off base with that comparison. Please accept my humble regrets SS.

Posted by: JEM at April 9, 2004 at 03:23 AM

"Fox News isn't the truth, babe."

Wow! This to a person who does not have a cable, satellite or air reception (big hill behind the house). It is not a first time that I am accused of mindlessly trusting "Murdoch's pro-American propaganda" because I form my own opinions (based on wide variety of reading materials) and happen not to agree with my interlocutor.

But at lest you are right about the babe part. Blonde, to boot.

Posted by: Katherine at April 9, 2004 at 04:04 AM

To the extend that American troops are on the foreign soil and fight with local forces opposed to freedom and democracy, in a process of implementing rather grand, but most likely necessary foreign policy approved by American Congress and executed by C–in-C, both Vietnam and Iraqi conflicts are like two peas in a pod.

Posted by: Katherine at April 9, 2004 at 04:16 AM


A babe, blonde, and smart as well! :-)

Posted by: JeffS at April 9, 2004 at 05:48 AM

jpg! jpg! ;)

Posted by: rosignol at April 9, 2004 at 06:30 AM

Senator Ted Kennedy refers to Iraq as "Bush's Vietnam"

For a Kennedy, he says "a Vietnam" like it's a bad word...

No wonder Teddy's opponents are called "Republicans". His dozen decades as the Jabba the Hutt of the US Senate can only be explained by hereditary succession.

I hope this war isn't another Vietnam in a different sense -- that, once the Americans and their allies pull their troops out, thousands of refugees leave their homeland and flee to the evil West, where they're demonised by the Left. Although it was a Vietnamese refugee who invented the daisy-cutter (according to Tech Central Station -- don't have link handy) because she was determined not to let other countries fall to dictatorship like her homeland had.

Posted by: Uncle Milk at April 9, 2004 at 08:10 AM

Proof positive, yet again, that the average Spleenette won't read a link out of fear that it might challenge their entrenched view.

Actually, I do tend to read the links. What I usually find is either some childish comic or blog posting, or a news article that doesn't support what the person posting the link thinks it does. Or when I backtrack a quote used to damn one person or another and view the actual transcript, it turns out the quote was severely out of context.

So, if I don't bother with some people's links, it certainly isn't because it might challenge my "entrenched" view, it's more because I'm tired of dealing with what you and others consider evidence so damning that you expect me to jump onto your side upon reading it.

Posted by: Patrick Chester at April 9, 2004 at 12:50 PM

Read your links, SS. TMW sucks. Nobody but leftist boobs is worrying about what the terrorists think of George Bush or John Kerry. Whichever candidate has the best plan to protect me and my family gets my vote, period.

Posted by: Matt Moore at April 9, 2004 at 04:30 PM

Since Arabs believe that everything that happens is God's will, we should knock off al-Sadr to prove to other Iraqis that God opposes any more attacks on Coalition troops.

They have a strange way of applying the predestination thing. They claim that it was Allah, not the Coalition, who rid them of Saddam. Of course, Sadr's Mahdi Militia is telling them that it is the will of Allah that they overthrow the CPA. How many times do they believe such claims?

Posted by: AST at April 11, 2004 at 04:32 PM