Sunday, November 19, 2006

Apologies for the sparse posting of late. I've been doing rather a lot of thinking instead, as well as being busy in the real world. Then I put together a couple of posts and they got mangled through the blogger composition box. Excuses, excuses.

Anyway, Mark Steyn once again rather eerily illuminates a corner of my thinking. I'm of the relatively simple opinion that we wouldn't be in the slough of despond over Iraq- partly a consequence of being faced with a party in the US hostile to the US-led action there- if we had been tougher with people such as Muqtada al Sadr.

Says Steyn:

"Meanwhile, from the War Party's point of view, the Bush Doctrine is beginning to accumulate way too many opt-outs. For example, a couple of weeks back, U.S. forces in Baghdad captured a death squad commander of Muqtada al-Sadr's Mahdi Army only to be forced to release him on the orders of the prime minister, Nouri al-Maliki. When I had the honor of discussing the war with the president recently, he was at pains to emphasize that Iraq was "sovereign." That may be. But, at a time when a gazillion free-lance militias are running around the joint ignoring the sovereign government, it seems a mite pedantic to insist that the sole militia in the country that has to obey every last memo from Prime Minister Maliki is the U.S. armed forces. Muqtada al-Sadr is an emblem not of democracy's flowering but of the arid soil in which it's expected to grow. America would have been better off capturing and executing him two years ago."

There is a simple lack of balance in the US/UK approach there, one which the UK bears a lot of responsibility for. Having deposed the Sunnis chief hero in Iraq, Saddam, and having killed his successors, what we needed was to prove that we would not tolerate extremism from any quarter, where extremism means intimidation and despotism. That would have meant at a minimum taking out Al-Sadr, but probably also quite a number of his henchmen and sundry other Shia mini-demagogues.

Sad to say it, but the British softly-softly approach emanating from Basra has emboldened anti-democratic forces, and enshrined radical political influence at the political heights of government.

I remember that one of the most balanced voices in the early part of the Iraq invasion, Zeyad, the Sunni invasion sympathiser, recommended that Al-Sadr be dealt with. Fair's fair- he should have been.

Zeyad's latest post links to this in depth account of how tyrannical elements of the Shia have come to dominate, accounting for the violence quite absurdly characterised by the BBC journalist Hugh Sykes here.

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