This is post number one thousand for this weblog. That is not counting my posts on my clippings weblog, Low Earth Orbit.
I have some sympathy for the view that the Iraqis should be contributing more the fight against the Mahdi and Ba’ath remnants in Fallujah. However, from the point of view of Sistani, it’s not clear why he should get off the fence. He appears to be someone with a good connection to reality. If so, then he’s very likely to have realized that the Americans are going to turn over control of Iraq to Iraqis at some point in the not distant future. The idea that the USA will be directly running Iraq as we are now five years down the road is completely implausible. When that happens, Sistani will be a player as long as he’s still alive. What might get him killed? Direct confrontation with either the Americans or the wreckers. Fence sitting has to look pretty good.
As for the general Iraqi public, it is very irritating to hear things like
Nanou Ali, a 54-year-old mother of four in Baghdad, told The Associated Press by telephone in Cairo that she heard the news from radio stations.
“We are not interested in new U.N. resolutions or sending more troops to our country,” she said. “The only thing we want from Bush is that security be restored. We are living in a prison.”
Blaming the wreckers might be a better point of view than those trying to stop them. Moreover, if security is her primary concern, it’s difficult to see why she objects to more Coalition troops.
But putting that aside, the sputtering of Al-Sadr’s offensive demonstrates that Iraqis, in general, if not on the side of the USA are at least not on the side of the wreckers. I just hope that they’re on the side of Iraq, rather than temporary gains for their local tribe. In many ways, the situation reminds me of a “common front” setup, where a wide variety of factions are putatively working together for a common cause but in fact are busy selling out everyone else for local gains, frequently sabotaging the overall effort. It’s still an open question whether Iraqis can coalesce in to large enough factions to make a democracy workable. Since our other choices are to sell them back in to slavery to some dictator or nuke them back in to the Stone Age, I suppose we’ll just have to find out.