Hiding Out in a Mosque
StrategyPage has an interesting assessment of recent events in Iraq. After a several paragraph synopsis,
Both the Sunni Arab and Sadr thugs have terrorized the police and government officials in areas they operate in. This is an ancient Iraqi tradition, and Iraqis have known little else for as long as anyone can remember. Add in a few anti-American slogans, and you have yourself a patriotic movement. But these armed gangs are out to dominate and exploit other Iraqis, and Iraqis have not yet accepted the fact that they can unite and protect all Iraqis. It’s called democratic government and the United States is being criticized the world over for imposing such an alien notion on the oppressed Iraqi people.
Leaving so many Iraqis armed, after Saddam’s government was destroyed, is a calculated risk. To disarm a population, that has long been accustomed to using weapons against hostile neighbors, was seen as too expensive in terms of coalition and Iraqi lives. Better to let a democratically elected Iraqi government do it.
Strangely, it ends there. (There’s a link to “more” but it just takes us to yesterday’s article.)
I’ve long thought the failure to convert the Iraqi army to security forces was a mistake, although I recently heard a compelling argument on NPR from a respected moderate (Anthony Cordesman? Larry Korb?) that it wasn’t possible because they essentially disbanded themselves. Clearly, having so much firepower in the population is a problem, although it’s not clear to me what we would have done about it.