The world is agape - storm clouds have passed, the sky is clear, and blue birds are singing, all because Muqtada Al Sadr, the rotund wannabe Muslim cleric who has been leading a charmed existence in Iran as his terrorist minions attack anyone who is not them in Iraq, is calling off all hostile acts against US forces for six months!
What a wonderful development! Boy, should we be grateful. A major terrorist leader has finally seen the light, is realizing the error of his ways, and wants to just get along.
Yeah, and I own bridges in both Brooklyn and San Francisco that I am selling for a good price. You get to put toll booths up and start collecting revenue immediately, without leaving your own living room! Really.
Al Sadr is the guy whose terrorists shot at our forces from inside a mosque as they were moving toward Baghdad to topple Saddam Hussein. Due to horrendously uninformed political interference, Al Sadr was allowed to live, build an army of terrorists from hundreds to more than ten thousand, and shoot at and bomb our forces with impunity ever since.
Only when our leadership finally got serious about putting the hammer down on internal terrorists in Iraq did Al Sadr's fortunes begin a slow reversal. He fled to Iran where his partner in terrorism President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad gave him shelter, sanctuary, communications abilities, arms, and support, just like Saddam Hussein did for Abu Al Zarqawi, the number two guy in Al Qaeda, before we invaded Iraq.
Al Sadr made a brief foray back into the country a few months ago in an effort to rally his followers who already were getting slammed during the buildup to the Surge, the offensive now ongoing throughout Iraq. When the Surge actually kicked off in June, one of the first areas to benefit from the gloves coming off was the Sadr City slum area of Baghdad where Al Sadr's terrorists had freely roamed ever since our politicians had allowed Iraqi politicians to declare it off limits to American military efforts.
That little scenario should tell us all we need to know about political considerations interfering with military operations, and about Al Sadr. The political world should never, ever, interfere with the methodology of military operations, except to authorize them at the outset, give a clear definition of the end goal, and set reasonable rules of behavior for our forces, which are already contained in the Uniform Code of Military Justice, and the Geneva Conventions.
Al Sadr lives and operates in a slum. Thus no matter how high or wide he goes in this world, you can bet the farm that he will never forget the hard lessons he learned in the streets. Given the elevated status of his father, who actually was a trained and educated Muslim cleric, Al Sadr probably didn't share his peers' physical experiences in the world of street fighting.
But he is very likely to have absorbed the tactics and attitudes of the street fighters just from being immersed in those surroundings.
People like Al Sadr never, ever really surrender. They will appear to surrender if they are physically bashed almost to death, are within seconds of meeting their maker, have no other recourse, and know in their hearts and minds that the entity which administered their bashing will without hesitation finish the job.
Then they will appear to surrender. Then they will live, curse the existence of the force that defeated them, and plan in every waking moment, as well as in their dreams, how to exact their revenge.
That is what Al Sadr is doing now. He hasn't called a cease fire because he has seen the light and now wants to cooperate.
His forces have been taking a walloping from US forces, and quite likely are tremendously weakened due to deaths, capture and desertions. He is waving the white flag to give himself and his Iranian allies time to find some new recruits, rebuild his devastated forces, and reconsider his political options without the pressure of getting shot.
His attempts to initiate a temporary truce have nothing whatsoever to do with wanting to get along and be part of a new progressive Iraqi government. He is buying time, and plotting.
He is what he is and nothing can change that. Snakes do not evolve into koala bears, sharks don't morph into guppies, and street fighting terrorists don't suddenly become benign ambassadors of peace and goodwill.
The worst possible thing our troops and our politicians can do is to give credence to his cease fire, back off the military efforts against his terrorist forces, and give him and Ahmadinejad time to figure how to get out of the mess they are in thanks to the Surge.
I would like to think that even though many mistakes have been made along the way in the War on Terror, especially in how we handled the security issues in Iraq after Saddam fell, that we are intelligent enough and adaptable enough to have learned from these mistakes.
Al Sadr's very presences on the Iraqi scene, both politically and militarily, is testament to the lack of knowledge, experience and understanding of the politicians who meddled in the military efforts in Iraq. The best way to undo the damage caused by people who obviously are long on textbook theory and very, very short on real-life experiences, especially on the battlefield, is to keep up the pressure on Al Sadr's Mahdi army. Our end goal should be nothing less than killing or capturing every last person who signed on with him.
Secondary to that goal should be the death or capture of Al Sadr himself. Alive and free to move about among his supporters in Iran he will continue to plot, to recruit, to bomb and shoot not only at our forces but at Iraqi civilians too. As long as he is on the scene, we will not have the total trust of the Iraqi people, which is essential to finally creating a stable ally.
Al Sadr reminds me of the late professional wrestling champion Buddy Rogers, who had a standing routine of begging for mercy in center ring whenever his opponent was getting the best of him. The opponent, who was in on the ruse, would threaten to smack Rogers into oblivion, but then, much to the displeasure of the crowd which knew exactly what Rogers was up to, would have mercy on Rogers.
At which point Rogers would nail his opponent with a low blow, or take some other nefarious action resulting in Rogers winning and his opponent being vanquished.
That was for show. That was entertainment. Al Sadr is for real, and if he is treated as anything other than a lying, manipulating, murderous terrorist, our forces and the Iraqi civilians will suffer for it. This is not the time to look away and get all smug and self-satisfied.
Now is the time to put even more pressure on Al Sadr and the Mahdi army. I repeat, nothing should be considered sufficient except its total annihilation. Anything less, and I will be back here in a year saying "I told you so."
Thursday, August 30, 2007