Friday, April 09, 2004

Good Friday in Iraq 

For and update on how the Yanks are doing in the Sunni Triangle and elsewhere, check out this story.

On less-embedded fronts, Polish press reports from Karbalah of sporadic fighting between Polish and Ukrainian troops and al Sadr’s militia (translations by yours truly). Poles are defending the police headquarters and local government office, which the Shia guerrillas tried to storm three times during the night. The result: no casualties inside, outside 20 dead. “According to our information there are still a few hundred of al Sadr’s people in the town. The high point of violence is behind us, although the fighting’s not finished yet,” says Polish General Gruszka.

Most of Karablah is under control of militias loyal to moderate Shia leaders. Al Sadrists have by now given up hope of fighting their way into the main local mosques. Meanwhile, General Gruszka is meeting regularly with religious and clan leaders in Karbala and Babil provinces, which the Poles control. The leaders are promising cooperation and efforts to calm down the situation.

So much for the popular uprising and another Vietnam. But that’s exactly why there is such need for the application of overwhelming force and no concessions. I’m sure that the great majority, which currently sits on the sidelines, is watching the situation very carefully to see which way the wind is blowing. Should the Coalition show lack of resolve and stumble that will only encourage the more moderate and neutral Shia elements to take advantage of the anarchy and press their own claims. But if the Al Sadrists (and the Sunni Baath-overs in Fallujah) are convincingly crushed – nothing succeeds like success and nothing impresses like strength.

The resolve is definitely the key – let’s remember that in Mogadishu in 1993 fifty Somalis died for every American killed during the “Black Hawk Down” incident. Yet the Clinton Administration lost nerve. Bush doesn’t have much option but to persevere and ride through a few days of bad footage on the news and jitters-induced dip in the polls. The alternatives are hell of a lot worse. Iraq is not Vietnam – the only thing that can make it so is American weakness.


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