August 7, 2004

THE MIGHTY SADR HAS STRUCK OUT:

Slaughtering them (David Warren, 8/07/04, Ottawa Citizen)

They don't care if they die, in fact, they hope to die. They do not aspire to be reasonable, in fact, they take pride in hair-trigger tempers, and will lay down their lives in response to the slightest provocation. The "militants" who make up Muqtada al-Sadr's "Imam Mahdi army", the Shia blackshirts of Iraq, are not fighting for the future of Iraq, but for God, "Allah". They have memorized the Koran, and they dream in words, and live by the harangues of their fanatic mullahs. In this they are like the enemy, both Shia and Sunni, from Palestine to Kashmir to Chechnya to London and Madrid: the various faces of a radical Jihadi Islam from which the West continues to shrink.

Over the last three days, U.S. soldiers have killed several hundred of these blackshirts in Najaf, Shia Islam's holiest city; some dozens more in the main Baghdad Shia slum; and still more in three other towns. The same information comes from the U.S. military and the Iraqi government: after a period of relative quiet, al-Sadr delivered another pulpit war cry ("terrorize the enemy") and off they went to get slaughtered. The U.S. Marines can kill them in considerable numbers without taking casualties themselves; such men as they have lost have been ambushed.

As before, there was no general uprising in support of al-Sadr. Even in the torrid Shia slum in Baghdad, other Iraqis simply dashed for cover. The main market stayed open. A sane, rational, Western observer must ask himself, "Why don't they give up?"

They don't because they are not rational, and not operating on worldly motives.


At least at Roarke's Drift the delusional foe had numbers on his side.

Posted by Orrin Judd at August 7, 2004 8:07 PM
Comments

At least at Roarke's Drift the delusional foe had numbers on his side.

That statement is a grievous insult to the Zulus. The Zulus were hardly delusional.

Posted by: Mike Morley at August 7, 2004 8:49 PM

Yeah, and at Roarke's Drift they were worn out from slaughtering British at Isandlwana.

Posted by: Brandon at August 7, 2004 8:53 PM

Inventories are down and the rasin factories in heaven are adding on additional production lines to keep up with the demands of supplying new martyred arrivals with their just rewards...

Posted by: John at August 7, 2004 8:56 PM

At Roarkes Drift both sides had some sense of honor. This enemy has none.

Posted by: JAB at August 7, 2004 9:09 PM

Mike:

Then why did they fight a superior foe?

Posted by: oj at August 7, 2004 10:19 PM

Well, the Zulus had just finished destroying a British force more healthy & superior in numbers than that at Roarke's Drift, so they had some reason to be hopeful. And they weren't quite so delusional that they wouldn't retreat or otherwise modify tactics after getting spanked for awhile. These Medhi bozos, though, seem more enthusiastic about their own deaths than even trying to kill our guys. So who needs tactics?

Earlier in the war, I recall a Army or Marine officer being quoted as saying that Iraq was a "perfect war", because the enemy wanted to be killed and our guys wanted to kill them. . . .

Posted by: Twn at August 7, 2004 10:39 PM

The Mehdi cannon fodder may be delusional or, more likely, suffering from a deathwish, but the Mehdi leaders have so far not been targeted by the U.S. or Iraqis. They seem to have quite soundly judged the political weaknesses of their opponents. At least until our respective elections!

Posted by: pj at August 7, 2004 11:52 PM

The Zulu impi that fought at Roarke's Drift did not take part in the battle of Isandlwana.

Posted by: Earl Sutherland at August 8, 2004 7:49 AM

Twn,
He was a Marine Sgt. as I read it.

Posted by: Genecis at August 8, 2004 12:33 PM

Perhaps the mahdis of today wear magic amulets against bullets, as the Mahdis of the 1890s did. Or in Eritrea in the 1980s.

But, as I've said before, you'd think that magic amulets that don't work or suicide bombers would be a wasting asset.

Evidently not.

They really are not like us.

Or, perhaps in this case, they are. If they are most interested in destroying any chance of a possibly secular democracy, this is one way to do it.

Think of it as poisoning a well with your own corpse.

As for Orrin's question about why men fight superior foes, how do you explain the US Navy aviators at Midway?

Posted by: Harry Eagar at August 8, 2004 2:30 PM

The Japanese are a more fitting comparison, if more professional and capable than these militias. It's obviously an Asian thing.

Posted by: Robert Duquette at August 8, 2004 2:42 PM

Harry:

America was massively superior.

Posted by: oj at August 8, 2004 2:45 PM

Not at Midway it wasn't, thanks to your boy Lindbergh and his friends.

Our Navy was outnumbered, outgunned, had inferior weapons. And ran higher casualty rates than Muqtadar's boys.

Posted by: Harry Eagar at August 8, 2004 4:32 PM

Custer was outnumbered. The foe was inferior.

Posted by: oj at August 8, 2004 4:38 PM

"Ran higher casualty rates ..."

Like an entire torpedo bomber squadron, save one. Not one of them made it to the target.

Posted by: Jeff Guinn at August 8, 2004 8:25 PM

I just got back from vacation on the Oregon coast (we live in Nebraska). I used to live in Oregon and it is a lovely place; although there are far too many leftists in the state.

In any event, I saw this bumpersticker (Oregon is a big bumpersticker kind of place) that read, "we are making enemies faster than we could kill them." Supposedly, this was something deep and profound; however, I just viewed it as ignorant. Our military can kill lots of enemies in a very quick and efficient way.

Posted by: pchuck at August 8, 2004 10:18 PM

Harry:

The mookie's casualty rate (compared to the US) is probably over 500 to 1 - I don't remember reading about that with respect to Midway.

Also, if the Japanese were so superior, why didn't they launch a 2nd wave at Pearl Harbor, when the destruction of the oil tanks and tenders would have given them control of the Pacific for a year or more? Not enough elan, perhaps?

I'll grant you that the US had a lot to learn in terms of ship-building, fire-fighting, and aviation - but our carriers were superior to anything the Japanese had. Out tactics were better, and so were our commanders. And Yamamoto knew it.

Posted by: jim hamlen at August 8, 2004 10:22 PM

pchuck, I heard this on the evening news: "The continuation of the American campaign against Sadr will no doubt encourage other militias to rise up".

Now, if you were a potential militia leader or follower, and you saw Sadr's gang get wiped out by the Marines, would you be saying "hey, I want some of that action"? The thought process of these types defies description.

Posted by: Robert Duquette at August 8, 2004 10:42 PM

I just got back from vacation on the Oregon coast (we live in Nebraska). I used to live in Oregon and it is a lovely place; although there are far too many leftists in the state.

In any event, I saw this bumpersticker (Oregon is a big bumpersticker kind of place) that read, "we are making enemies faster than we can kill them." Supposedly, this was something deep and profound; however, I just viewed it as ignorant. Our military can kill lots of enemies in a very quick and efficient way.

Posted by: pchuck at August 8, 2004 10:49 PM

Jim, at the beginning of the war, the US Navy had no technological edge over the Japanese. The Japanese torpedo, the "Long Lance" was superior to ours, which often malfunctioned and failed to explode. They had superior night engagement skills. The Zero was superior to our fighters of that period.

It was our industrial and resource base that allowed us to overwhelm them in the end with both quantity and superior technology.

Posted by: Robert Duquette at August 8, 2004 10:51 PM

population, geography, political system...

Posted by: oj at August 8, 2004 11:16 PM

Wars are not fought by populations, geography and political systems, Orrin, but by men.

We sent ours out on suicidal missions, and they went with their eyes open.

The fate of Torpedo Squadron 8 gets all the attention when Midway was recounted, but the fate of the Marine
aviators in Vindicators and Buffaloes was just as bad.

'Forlorn hopes,' as they used to be called in the days of castles, are a curious phenomenon. I have never been in combat and don't pretend to understand how that works. But I don't jeer.

Posted by: Harry Eagar at August 9, 2004 2:55 PM

For a forlorn hope, try Corrigedor.

Battles at the beginnings of wars tend to be forlorn, because one side thinks it will be easy and the other side doesn't know what to do. The tide may turn later, but not immediately. Even today, it took a month before we were killing the Taliban.

But the only open question about Afghanistan was how many of them we would kill. If I understand him, that is what OJ is trying to say.

Posted by: jim hamlen at August 9, 2004 4:39 PM

jim:

Yes, all that remained to be determined at noon on 12/07/41 was home many Japanese had to die before they quit. They couldn't win. In effect, their entire society commited suicide at Pearl Harbor, ditto Germany when they declared war on us. To date no Islamic society has been nearly so foolhardy with the lives of its members.

Posted by: oj at August 9, 2004 5:08 PM

Sure they could have won.

You're the one who likes constitutional monarchs. If Churchill had not had the India group of backbenchers with him in 1940, Halifax would have been PM. That's who George VI preferred, and if the Conservative Party had been more evenly balanced, he'd have had him.

Halifax wanted to negotiate peace with Hitler.

That might or might not have stopped the Japanese, but it would have kept the US out of the European war, which would have been over before the 1940 elections.

Posted by: Harry Eagar at August 9, 2004 10:44 PM

Harry:

That's what they should have done. Wouldn't have changed anything.

Posted by: oj at August 9, 2004 10:50 PM

Well, it would have foreclosed the current encounter in Palestine, that's for sure.

Posted by: Harry Eagar at August 10, 2004 3:25 AM

And the Cold War, Korea, Vietnam, Iraq I, Iraq II, al Qaeda, etc.

Posted by: oj at August 10, 2004 9:03 AM

>At least at Roarke's Drift the delusional foe
>had numbers on his side.

They were not delusional. Hotdoggers, maybe, but not delusional.

Roarke's Drift was hit by three regiments of the Zulu army, including an elite regiment (The White Shields) the day after Isandlwana.

These three regiments were in the reserves at Isandlwana, and were never committed. Since Zulu honor demanded aggressive action, their commander leapfrogged them across the veldt to hit the mission station and ferry/ford at Roarke's Drift. (This was somewhat sound, as that could have opened up a route and beachhead for a counter-invasion of Natal if losses at Isandlwana hadn't been so heavy and/or King Cetiswayo had understood the situation better.)

So, they hit Roarke's Drift, but had outrun their supply lines (which in the Zulu army were usually pretty good). After taking heavy casualties in the siege and exhausting their supplies, the Zulu were finally forced to withdraw. (The Brits worked from a tradition of fortification and siegecraft; Zulu were entirely open-country maneuver warfare.)

Posted by: Ken at August 11, 2004 2:21 PM

Recently a politican said that all the war in Iraq is doing is making folks hate Americans - I would respond with the old Roman adage -

"Let them hate us, so long as they also FEAR us"

Posted by: A retired Marine at December 9, 2004 12:41 PM
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