While the resident grows ever more shrill, while Hadley makes the rounds to all the bobble-head Sunday morning venues; while the administration beats the drum, the hangers-on and true believers chant over and over again “al Qaeda, al Qaeda, al Qaeda”
If we cut our losses in
Well, fine. Color me tetched.
I have been telling anyone who would listen to just calm down a bit, al Qaeda is not nearly the threat that too many people have been deluded into thinking it is.
There was no al Qaeda in
They are simply not the threat this resident makes them out to be.
Instead, the gravest threat many American G.I.’s face comes from Jaish al-Mahdi (the Mahdi Army)
In the 10-square-mile district of West Rashid, the Mahdi Army also controls the housing market, the gas stations and the loyalty of many of the residents, according to the soldiers from the 1st Infantry Division's 1st Battalion, 28th Infantry Regiment. The militia has a structure familiar to
West Rashid confounds the prevailing narrative from top U.S. military officials that the Sunni insurgent group al-Qaeda in Iraq is the city's most formidable and disruptive force. While there are signs that the group has been active in the area, over the past several months, the Mahdi Army has transformed the composition of the district's neighborhoods by ruthlessly killing and driving out Sunnis and denying basic services to residents who remain. Gen. David H. Petraeus, the top
Dominance by Shiite militias is typically associated with places in eastern
The brazen attacks on
American soldiers who oversee
In recent months,
American commanders attribute much of the current violence to what they are now calling "special groups" or "secret cells" of Iranian-backed militiamen who may be acting independently of, or against, Sadr and his followers. But taken together, they say, militiamen acting as criminal power-brokers seeking profit and the perhaps more moderate Sadr loyalists constitute a formidable challenge for the soldiers who arrived in the capital in March as part of President Bush's troop buildup.
"We have a different fight than the rest of
Reading the piece in the Washington Post today, I was immediately drawn back to one of the tenets set forth in the white paper Rethinking Counterinsurgency by Dr. Steven Metz.
In cases where a serious insurgency cannot be managed, the state and its supporters might consider an approach designed to deliberately encourage the insurgency to mutate into something less dangerous such as an organized criminal organization. This is never desirable, but there may be rare instances where organized crime is less of a threat than sustained insurgency. Call this strategic methadone. [p.52]
"The Mahdi Army kind of shorts them out of power," said Capt. Charles Turner, who oversees reconstruction projects for the battalion. "You drive down the roads, you look over here, it's light. And you look over there, it's dark. From what I've seen, it's kind of a Tony Soprano thing: 'I outnumber you, so I'm going to do what I want.' "
Along certain militia-controlled blocks, "the curbs are painted, the streets are cleaner, they have beautification projects," Turner said. "It would be cool if it was a positive thing, but it's not."
Well, positive thing or not, it represents the current reality. And since that reality was addressed in Dr. Metz’ paper, maybe it is time the Pentagon took their fingers out of their ears, stopped saying "La La La La La! I can't hear you!!!" and stopped trying their level best to ignore it until it goes away.