Monday, August 16, 2004

Sheriff Lee C. Talks Straight

Commenter Lee C. over at Hammorabi summarizes the situation in Najaf very well, offering a view also held by the editors of Iraqi Bloggers Central.

I think the fact that Iraqi are effectively participating in a political process is a good thing. I can't bring myself to say the same for their "cause" though--a negotiated settlement with Sadr? Gimme a break! At some point they're going to have to accept reality. I can understand the anti-American undertow and the reverence for the shrine, and the fear of pissing off Sadr's supporters, and several other causes that could underlie this movement, but, at some point they gotta understand. We ain't gonna keep pouring our military into battle after battle that they won't let us win. We're not going to keep pouring our soldiers on this fire every time he pops his Mahdi Army up to make nuisance. Eventually Iraq will be asking us to "go get him" yet again, and we'll answer, "NO, ya'll go get him yourselves this time; we've had enough of this game."

And now the National Assembly has decided to send delegates to Sadr--he'll either give them nothing, or jack them around too, and we'll have to pull back and then they'll want us to start all over again on it later--gotta come an end to that rerun!

Well, at least Sadr's assembly has apparently admitted that they have wired the shrine to blow--that'll not get us off the hook--they can admit they blew up the shrine, then turn around and say the Americans are to blame, and half the Arab world and half the Iraqi will believe the second part of that statement.

I'm getting fed up with this.


Wretchard of Belmont Club steps back and gives us the longer view.

Civilization does not principally consist of bricks and mortar, but in a set of commonly accepted values and restraints. If the inhabitants of the sub-Saharan Africa and the United States could be exchanged instanteously; the one materializing in suburban homes and the other in wattle huts, the material imbalance would be reversed again within ten years, because the technology and civilization of Americans is carried in their heads and not in their possessions. There would be nothing Americans could not rebuild in Africa; and there would be nothing Africans could repair or replace in America.

So the most terrifying effect of the War so far has been in the slow destruction of taboos and imperatives which collectively allowed civilization to function. One writer observed that although Britain has possessed nuclear weapons for nearly 60 years no one worried about a UK attack on New York city. He might have added that no one in London lost any sleep over the prospect of an American nuclear strike on Picadilly Circus. The electronics, physics and rocketry check out fine; it was civilization that held them back. The concept of assymetric warfare was supposed to exploit the "fact" that transnational terrorist organizations operating in areas of chaos could strike at a civilization hamstrung by constraints. They could attack orphanages and then seek shelter in the Church of the Nativity; they could fly wide bodied aircraft into Manhattan, then seek shelter in "sovereign" Afghanistan; they could call for the death of millions from the pulpits of Qom; they could fire mortars from the Imam Ali Shrine and never expect the favor to be returned. But the logical flaw in this conception was that civilization could put aside these constraints in a moment. Hiroshima and Dresden are reminders that it could.

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