Monday, April 05, 2004

Don't count your civil wars before they are hatched

I would agree with many that the last few days have not been good ones for America in Iraq. But I think some may be jumping the gun if they conclude that the recent violence is evidence of a complete meltdown of American control of the situation. Yes, there is an uprising. But what evidence is there that that uprising is not limited to the few thousand followers of Sadr and the Sunni stronghold of Fulluja? No doubt there is a lot of ill feeling towards America among the Iraqi populous. But are those feelings bad enough to result in a general uprising? Or is it possible that Sadr is no more liked by Iraqi's than is George W. Bush and most would rather just sit back and let them bang heads against each other and see what happens.

Which brings up an important point about what is happening right now: the worse thing the U.S. could do would be to engage in a "hit ten of theirs for every one of ours" strategy. Doing so could quickly turn a small uprising into the country-wide meltdown that everyone is afraid of. Yet there has to be a strong temptation on the part of commanders in the field and the leadership of the Bush administration to do just that if for no other reason the visceral (and political) appeal of such a reaction.

Cool heads are required at hot moments like this. Cool heads that are willing to risk the screams and derision of those thirsting for revenge.

Unfortunately, our "president" is George W. Bush, a world class hot head if there ever was one.


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