Into Darth Sadr’s domain – UPDATED

I find your lack of faith disturbing

Bill Roggio covers the recent action in Sadr City and environs:

Plus, Ralph Peters writes KILL MUQTADA NOW. I wonder how Peters really feels?

UPDATE: Via Instapundit, here’s Roggio’s latest:

He notes the calls for the killing of Sadr.

However, this would give Sadr the status of martyr to the ‘occupiers’ and could create unnecessary violence. We argue this is a task best left to the Iraqis. Ideally, a ‘rogue element’ of the Mahdi Army would kill him (or so it would appear). This would be just desserts for Sadr’s shallow attempts at obfuscating his militia’s role in the fighting. And it would spawn a round of internecine fighting that would do much of the needed dirty work of dismantling the Mahdi Army.

Bill seems to realize that this would be a “best-case scenario”, however, and realizes that “realistically the task will fall upon Iraq’s security forces.”

In whatever form it comes, the death of Sadr will certainly cause “additional” violence of one sort or another. However, it should be apparent that the battle against his army and followers will need to be fought and won before further steps toward peace and stability can be taken. Sooner or later, the guy has to be taken down and his organization disrupted. Yes, this will then scatter the survivors and lots of little groups will “pop up” and a few of them will make real trouble. But that’s the nature of anti-insurgency. It has to be done.

We will have many more years of “Iraq is teetering on the verge of civil war” reports to keep us warm. Never mind that the civil war is being fought right now.

UPDATE 2: I meant to add that what I’m expecting is that a crackdown on Sadr by US, Coalition, and especially Iraqi forces will score several more weeks of successes. Numerous lieutenants and other various minions will be killed or captured, and a fair share of his cannon fodder will be slaughtered in battles against professional soldiers. With his back once again against the wall, Sadr will announce that he’s giving up the fight and will use governmental channels to advance his cause. He will play along until he can replace his key henchmen and recruit additional thugs to play the part of cannon fodder, then we’ll do this all again. Second verse, same as the first.


  1. Yes, this would solve a lot of problems. But he is still alive and free, and that gives me one of the reasons to consider it was a foreign policy failure.

  2. If we can’t leave a democracy behind, we should at least leave the corpses of our enemies.’ What a great quote from Peters!

  3. As bad it is its still not a all out civil war, because no one has actually declared independence there is still only one government everyone coperated in. In the informal sense, yes a war, but civil conflict from a technical standpoint. I don’t think the preliminaries to a civil war should be confused with it actually being one.

  4. Steve: I don’t disagree that this isn’t an ‘all out civil war’, but it is certainly a guerrilla civil war. If guerrilla wars without formal declarations are wars, guerrilla civil wars are civil wars. This has been my point for quite some time, now. Every time I mention it, someone comes along and (rightly, in some ways) corrects me on it. But it’s all about the definition of ‘civil war’, and our definitions for warfare are changing radically. Most wars these days are not ‘all out wars’, but we still call them ‘wars’. Particularly in the case of the Mahdi Army, and with some of the other militias and terrorist groups in Iraq, you have sizeable organizations with significant support and resources who are obviously at war with the government and mean to overthrow it and set their own up in its place. I’m sick of all this hand-wringing over ‘will Iraq become a civil war?’ and wish we’d just admit that it IS a civil war and that we had better help the Iraqi government win it. In many government-controlled parts of Iraq, our troops are basically peacekeepers. But not everywhere, obviously. There are parts of the nation that are hotly contested. Pretending that we’re merely fighting criminals and gangs (even though many of the individuals are exactly that) won’t help us win.

  5. Murdoc, First, thanks for the generous links, from one of my favorite blogs, no less. I just did a quick update, there was another minor clash in Sadr city as U.S. troops were searching for the missing soldier. No casualties. While I understand what you mean about the meaning of war/civil war, the fact is that using ‘civil war’ has real consequences. The implications are: the U.S. doesn’t get involved in civil war; if Iraq devolves into a civil war, let them fight it; etc. It is the packaged solution for withdrawal, and this is why many use this term. And withdrawing won’t help us win either…

  6. I can’t help but wonder whether Sadr being arrested/eliminated would solve more problems than it would cause. It’s hard to know. Would someone else pop up and take his place? I doubt it. Would it trigger a great deal of violence? Maybe, but it could be short lived. Still, clearly someone in the Iraqi or US governments thinks it’s better to try to solve the problem a different way. I still think there’s a few years of fighting left in Iraq either way so perhaps patience is sensible.