Monday, August 21, 2006
Posted by Daniel Greenfield 4 Comments
In 2003 after the US liberated Iraq, a formerly little known Shiite cleric Muqata Al-Sadr took control of a portion of Baghdad commonly called Sadr City now and created a shadow government declaring that he had more legitimacy than the American occupation. His newspaper began trumping up lies claiming that America was behind the terrorist attacks and calling for a war against America.
In the spring of 2004 an attempt was made to shut down his newspaper and serve a warrant against him for murder. General Sanchez even issued a "capture or kill" order against him. The resulting fighting left dozens of US soldiers dead and many of Sadr's followers as well. Instead of finishing Sadr off though at a time when the US solidly controlled Iraq, the US agreed to a 'truce' with him. Sadr's Mahdi army were to leave their positions and turn them over to the Iraqi security forces and Sadr would become a purely political force forming his own party.
If any of this sounds familiar it's pretty much the US terms for the end of fighting in Lebanon with Hizbullah or the attempted rehabiliation of Hamas. Backed by Iran Al-Sadr only became more aggressive. In the summer fighting again broke out between Sadr's militas and gangs and the US Marines. Again US forces suffered casualties destroying Sadr's forces and had him on the run when again they were forced to stop operations for another 'truce.' In the fall fighting broke out yet again and no matter how badly he lost, each time Iraqi and American politicians protected Al-Sadr from being destroying caling for meaningless and hollow truces as each time Sadr only gained popularity.
Today Al-Sadr is the third most popular figure in Iraq having gained the reputation of fighting the US to a standstill. He is modeling his forces on Hizbullah and is responsible for much of the Sunni-Shiite violence tearing apart Iraq and still he remains untouchable. When US forces tried to end the current round of violence in Baghdad, the now Shiite controlled Iraqi government prevented the US from disarming his Shiite militas in Baghdad insuring that the violence will continue. Despite the dozens of US troops he's murdered, despite the fact that his continued existance undermines any possibilty of a secure and stable Iraq, he has been allowed to continue his activities.
Al-Sadr and Nasrallah are but fingers on the hand of Iran which is prepearing to close its fist around the Middle East. Whether it's the Mahdi Army of Al-Sadr or Nasrallah's Hizbullah, the essential tactics are the same. A militia is formed of various thugs and rabble, armed by Iran and challenging the US or Israel. After a brief bout of fighting it manages to inflict enough casualties on Israel and America to impress fellow Muslims with its boasts and on the verge of defeat, the besieging Western troops are pulled back on truce terms allowing the terrorists to survive to claim victory. All this is done by Western powers on the deluded premise that these Iranian militias will then disarm and pursue democratic stategies for being elected.
They are of course happy to do it too since terrorists have no scruples over how they come to power. Democratic elections are an easier way for them to do it as Hamas has shown, but at no point will they actually disarm or stop the violence because it is precisely from the violence that their popularity stems and they know it too.
Confronting Iranian pawns like Sadr and Nasrallah, America and Israel blinked looking for accomodation instead of anhiliation. Had America and Israel taken the War on Terror seriously, Sadr and Nasrallah would be dead, the Mahdi Army and Hizbullah would be on the run and Iraq and Lebanon would be in much better shape. Instead Israel and America absorbed their casualties and let their killers stay free and boast. It is unsurprising that from there, things can only get worse.
America's clashes with Al-Sadr set the template for Israel's fighting with Hizbullah. The failure on both sides began at the political level which refused to commit military forces to an all out campaign and were constantly on the lookout for a political way out. But seeking a political solution to terrorism is akin to bribing a wolf with a ham sandwich. It's not a solution but an appetizer.
The general failure in America post 9/11 has been to understand that the War on Terror is not a campaign to uplift and elevate Muslim and Arab civilizations but to destroy them if the free wrld is to survive. The general failure in Israel has been to fall into the same trap of believing there's no military solution, only a poltical one and to disdain the military as brute force that "can only make the muslims angrier."
The more America tried to navigate the labyrinthine currents of Arab societies, the Shiites and Sunnis and the tribal factions, the more America was demonstrating our willingness to accomodate ourselves to the Arab world, rather than as we should have done post 9/11, accomodate the Arab world to us. The more Israel tries to accomodate the US, the more Israel winds up being sucked into the same trap of accomodating the Arabs via the US. Without a recognition that human civilization as we have known it over the past few centuries stands on the brink of anhiliation by growing forces intent on wiping it out, Europe will shortly look like Turkey which once too was a Christian nation, Israel will once again be no more and America will be facing the detonation of nuclear weapons on our soil and a final ultimatum.