Thursday, June 24, 2004

Sheik al Sadr

A month ago the press was deep into its "Sky is Falling" mode as it reported that Muqtada al Sadr had taken the measure of our troops and was leading Iraq into chaos. Meanwhile, some journalists could scarcely conceal their satisfaction as they contemplated the impact the cleric's successful uprising would have on George Bush's reelection hopes.

Then suddenly al Sadr disappeared from the news reports. The Mahdi army went silent. What happened? We were never really told, but Rowan Scarborough of the nation's best newspaper, The Washington Times, gives us some interesting insight. The key passage:

"When the division got word April 8 that Sheik al-Sadr's uprising meant most 1st Armored soldiers would stay and fight, rather than going home as scheduled, it touched off a series of remarkable military maneuvers."

"Soldiers, tanks and helicopters at a port in Kuwait reversed course, rushing back inside Iraq to battle the Shi'ite cleric's 10,000-strong army....Once he had targets [provided by a growing network of Iraqi spies and informants], Gen. Dempsey could then map a battle plan for entering four key cities - Karbala, Najaf, Kufa and Diwaniyah. This would be a counterinsurgency fought with 70-ton M-1 Abrams tanks and aerial gunships overhead. It would not be the lightning movements of clandestine commandos, but rather all the brute force the Army could muster, directed at narrowly defined targets."

"Last week, Sheik al-Sadr surrendered. He called on what was left of his men to cease operations...."

Why, one wonders, would he do that? Scarborough's answer:

"The division estimates it killed at least several thousand militia members."

I don't recall hearing anything about that on the evening news, do you?

Good News From Iraq

Andrew Sullivan directs us to this site for the most comprehensive news on developments, military, economic, political, social, and otherwise, in Iraq and asks why we can't find information like this in a major media outlet. Good question, but I think you'll know the answer once you start to explore the site. It's must reading for anyone who wants to be informed about what's happening in that country.

The Horse Race

John Podhoretz argues that we shouldn't believe polls that show John Kerry ahead in the race for the presidency. My question is, other than being the UnBush, what reason has Kerry given for anyone at all to vote for him? Since the primary he has become less and less distinguishable from Bush on what to do in Iraq, the economy is taking off under Bush, Bush does what he says he'll do, so we know exactly what we're getting with him.

Kerry would provide a plausible alternative if what Bush intends is not what a voter wants, of course, but the problem with Kerry is that one has no idea what he will do. He's been all over the lot on Iraq and the war on terrorism. With Kerry the more he talks the less one knows about what he believes. He puts himself in the position of being able to do just what he says he'll do only because at some time or other he's covered every possibility.

Unless there is some major event between now and November, I'll be surprised if Kerry is still competitive by the end of the campaign.