Captain Ed reports on some positive news coming out of Iraq for a change — apparently our efforts to secure Baghdad are bearing some fruit.
Still, we have a long way to go before the security situation in Iraq is sufficiently stabilized to show real progress. The rise of sectarianism in Iraq puts the nation on the razor’s edge of civil war, and our previous efforts to pacify the country have been anything but successful. What progress has been made in the past three years threatens to be subsumed in a wave of increasing violence.
Securing Baghdad is the most critical problem we face at the moment, and that requires going after the sectarian militias such as the Mahdi Army. Perhaps our biggest mistake in Iraq was not imprisoning or killing Moqtada al-Sadr when we had the chance — his presence has caused us nothing but grief ever since. He’s nothing but a two-bit Iranian-backed thug with delusions of grandeur. While Ayatollah Sistani’s deal to allow him to participate in politics in April of 2004 defused a tense situation in Najaf, ultimately it may have been better to have dealt with him then rather than allowing him to cause so many problems.
No matter what we should have done earlier, we have a job to do in the here and now, and the US should continue to put pressure on the sectarian militias to disarm and destroy those who don’t renounce violence. The state’s monopoly of violence is a key element to a stable social contract, and so long as paramilitary death squads are allowed to run freely in Iraq, even using the Interior Ministry forces as recruiting grounds, the situation in Iraq will continue to be dire.