Everybody's Got One
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Thursday, April 08, 2004


At a Coalition press briefing Wednesday:
Q. Luke Baker from Reuters. General Kimmitt, you used the phrase 'destroy the Mahdi Army' on several occasions. Can we interpret from that that this now is your biggest concern, bigger even than the insurgency you're facing? And how are you going about sort of adapting to fighting a war on two fronts?

GEN. KIMMITT: Well, first of all, we are not fighting a war on two fronts. There's only one front, and that is the country of Iraq.
Militarily, of course, the general is correct. But there are more dimensions to this war than military, as the gentleman from Reuters well knows; there are more fronts than one. The important battles are the ideological (and informational) hearts-and-minds struggles being fought within the West, on the home front. (And Reuters is on the other side.)

Al Qaeda, Iran, Syria, and Hezbollah know our history better than we do. The Sunnis and their Syrian and Saudi helpers in the Triangle have been trying to refight Mogadishu, or Lebanon, where the Americans take casualties and leave. So far, it hasn't worked out. The latest Shi'a uprising, on the other hand, has been a passable imitation of Tet, in hopes that the Americans can be persuaded to lose heart after simultaneous battles across an entire country (with some Hezbollah-inspired kidnappings thrown in for seasoning). Right now, the situation is in flux - but the Kennedys and Bidens and Cronkite wannabes are responding pretty much as desired.

Tet was a decisive strategic loss for the United States, although militarily it marked the end of the Viet Cong as a significant force. From that point, NVA regulars took over almost all of the fighting. We can expect the destruction of al-Sadr's Mahdi Army in the near future; will their Hezbollah and Iranian sponsors be prepared to pick up the slack, from their sanctuaries across the border? Or does that come after the June 30 transition?

posted by Kelly | 10:29 PM link