There is a basic concept in street fighting that if a potential adversary is bigger and more powerful than you, the first order of business is to get that adversary off guard, then smack him in a vital spot so you can bring him down to size.
The best way to do this is to appear non-threatening, even friendly if necessary, and get close enough to land a sucker punch. An even better technique is to take a two-by-four and hit the big guy across the shins, which inevitably bends him over in extreme pain, which gives the smaller combatant a clear opportunity to hit again, harder.
If you just want to get your adversary's attention, you hit him with the flat edge of the board, which hurts, but spreads out the pain over a wide area. However, if you really intend to inflict some damage, you try to land a blow with the sharp edge of the board, which means a far more concentrated, and far more incapacitating encounter.
Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, known none-too-affectionately in this column as Green Bean Almondine, employed this technique in recent days, lulling the Bush Administration into a false sense of security through his willingness to send envoys to Iraq for direct talks with the US for the first time since the unpleasantness of the late 70s.
Bush bowed to international pressure for "talks" and sent our guys to sit down with Green Bean's guys. They shook hands, talked all day long, got exactly nowhere, and then adjourned, promising to have another day of "talks" at some undetermined time in the future.
No sooner had the Iranian envoy gotten out of the area, and while the Bush Administration was still basking in the afterglow of "acceptable" international relations, than the media reported that gunmen dressed like Iraqi police kidnapped 5 British subjects right in the center of Baghdad.
The Brits were snatched from a Finance Ministry facility in a mock police raid that Iraqi officials said was carried out by the Mahdi Army Shiite militia. You may recall that the Mahdi Army is the enforcement arm of the fake cleric Muqtada Al-Sadr's criminal enterprise.
Al-Sadr bolted from the Sadr City slum in Baghdad where his enterprise is headquartered immediately after being tipped off by the media that US forces were going on the offensive known as the "Surge" and were no longer adhering to the diplomatically enforced "hands off" policy.
Al-Sadr, courtesy of Green Bean, hid out neighboring Iran, which is openly backing his efforts by sending bombs, terrorists and training cadre into Iraq to undermine the Iraqi government and the US War on Terror.
Al-Sadr hid out in Iran for nearly four months, but showed up last week in a city south of Baghdad, along with an entourage and a few thousand screaming followers, claiming once again that he was going to be a major force in determining Iraq's future, and demanding that U.S. troops leave.
Once again, we either missed, or were not allowed to take advantage of, an opportunity to blast him into paradise ... because we were going to sit down and "talk" with his principal supporter in the volatile Middle East.
Almost simultaneously with Sadr's reappearance, and the simple yet effective diversion by Green Bean - agreeing to the talks - was the raid that resulted in the capture of the Brits.
So first off we get suckered, then we get smacked. And that is just the set up. The next shot we take is the one that will matter. It hasn't been delivered yet, but you can be sure it is coming.
Regular readers of this column are well aware that I have been very, very reluctant to join the chorus of critics who fault President Bush and his administration for everything from the weather to their daily horoscopes. I make the point that I don't always agree with his tactics, but I also temper my criticisms by pointing out wherever possible that many of his decisions were based on good and solid reasoning, that just came to a different conclusion than mine.
The reason for this is simple - I agree that we should have gone into Iraq, because the terrorists moved there after we beat them in Afghanistan. Also, I have been ever watchful of the ongoing 60s style movement on the left to again undermine our troops, ostensibly by saying the war is the issue not the military, when the real issue all along has been the military. I don't want to give the left any ammo.
I am firmly convinced that just as we overwhelmingly defeated the Viet Cong and North Vietnamese communists in Vietnam, regardless of what the media continues to say about it, we also can defeat the Islamo-fascists we are fighting now. But the media now, as then, is flooded with negativity and daily body counts on our side, all the while ignoring our successes, terrorist body counts, and the real casualty issue, the number of Americans who would be dead or wounded from terrorist attacks if our military was not where it is, doing what it is.
On the domestic scene Bush is more than a little distracted by the uproar over the newest incarnation of an immigration bill, and I was hesitant to pile on only because there already is so much criticism from the conservative base. But in the last week or so I have heard Massachusetts Senator Ted Kennedy praise the president, conservative editor, writer and commentator Fred Barnes praise Ted Kennedy, and the president praise a bill that even his staunchest supporters say has more loopholes than a sieve.
Obviously something is terribly awry inside the Washington, D.C., beltway. But I don't want an obvious attempt to sucker us into a situation in Iraq that will cost us the lives of American troops if not dealt with immediately go unnoticed and unremarked upon.
Ahmadinejad is up to something and we have only seen the first phase of it. He went completely out of character by agreeing to talk with us, using a three-carrier battle group in the Persian Gulf as an excuse to make us believe he is really worried. The carriers are there because Green Bean is moving forward in his efforts to make bomb grade nuclear fuel from his nuclear power plants, against all the pointless and unenforceable resolutions from the Untied Nations.
So he ignores the resolutions and sanctions, continues to move forward with his nuclear program, we send in some carriers and suddenly he is more agreeable? No he isn't. This is an old ruse, and one which is easily recognizable to anyone who has ever had to fight their way out of a sticky situation, especially one where there are no rules.
But most of Bush's advisers inside the Beltway apparently have never had to fight their way out of anything, at least on a physical level. Politics they understand, but street fighting is not their forte.
In the meantime the New York Times has run a story revealing that some people in the Bush Administration are privately talking about getting out of Iraq sooner rather than later. It isn't by accident that Al-Sadr showed up right on the heels of this revelation, regardless of whether it is accurate.
Al-Sadr and Green Bean smell fear, real or imagined, and they are hoping to exploit what they see as weakness in the Bush Administration. To make their point, and to hurry the rumored retreat of American troops, Al-Sadr and Green Bean will likely intensify their efforts against US forces, hoping that increased casualty levels will convince both the Congress and the Bush Administration to cave in and run away.
The short-term impact on our troops and the long term impact on our country will be devastating if Bush allows this scenario to play out. Ahmadinejad has suckered Bush into letting his guard down, and has responded with a two-by-four across the shins.
That was bad enough, but this bears repeating. Another shot is coming and it is coming soon. The follow-up to the board across the shins is usually a slam upside the head, right on the temple.
If, as is often reported, Bush has only a handful of advisers whom he trusts, it would be advisable for them to figure out what this translates to in terms of our presence in Iraq and prepare for it. When this blow will be delivered is the only question. That it will be delivered should be a foregone conclusion.
Thursday, May 31, 2007