September 14, 2004


Hawk vs. Hawk (DAVID BROOKS, 9/14/04, NY Times)

The debate on how to proceed in Iraq is not between the hawks and the doves: it's within the hawk community, and it's between the gradualists and the confrontationalists. [...]

The gradualists point to what just happened in Najaf as their model for how the Iraq war should proceed. First, Allawi laid down tough conditions: that Moktada al-Sadr's militia had to go. Then he convinced many of the locals that their lives would be better without lawless thugs in their midst. Then the U.S. attacked and weakened the terrorists. Then Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani brokered an agreement that led to the re-establishment of government control. Now development aid can flow to Najaf again. Aid projects worth roughly $6 million are resuming, and $37 million more is on the way.

Najaf, the gradualists argue, showed it's possible to marginalize the extremists and rally the decent majority. Now the task is to build on that success in other towns, and slowly rob the terrorists of sanctuaries.

The confrontationalists can't believe the Bush folks, of all people, are waging a sensitive war on terror. By moving so slowly, the U.S. is allowing terror armies to thrive and grow. With U.S. acquiescence, fascists are allowed to preen, terrorize and entrench themselves.

Moreover, they continue, there's no reason to think the Najaf model will work in Sunni cities, where we don't understand and can't exploit the local rifts, where there is no Sistani figure to come in at crucial moments.

In Sunni cities, the so-called moderates may make deals with Allawi, but they break them just as quickly - or else are beheaded by the terrorists.

The Shi'ites are our allies. Many of the Sunni aren't. Treat them differently.

Posted by Orrin Judd at September 14, 2004 8:48 AM

Wait a second, isn't Tikrit overwhelmingly Sunni ?

Yet BrosJudd posted a story about how peaceful it is in Tikrit, where US troops can patrol like fat Sheriff's Deputies in a sleepy southern town.

Posted by: Michael Herdegen at September 14, 2004 2:35 PM

Thus "Many"

Posted by: oj at September 14, 2004 2:53 PM
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