Friday, March 17, 2006

Gang War, Not Civil War

Ralph Peters at the NY Post continues to be a realistic and sober voice on the situation in Iraq. Today he offers the following analogy:

As Operation Swarmer corners terrorists and insurgents north of Baghdad, the bloodshed elsewhere remains far below the civil-war level. Rogue Iraqis are turning on each other. You're seeing gangland violence on amphetamines.

Think of it as the Mafia shooting it out with the Ku Klux Klan and the IRA. With automatic weapons and car bombs. . . .

The gangs are now at each other's throats. A lot of those bodies turning up aren't innocent democrats. Many are thugs who enraged other thugs. . . .

Iraq doesn't need a Grant or Sherman. It needs an Elliot Ness. On steroids.

Peters notes that different steps at the beginning of the war--sending in more troops, being prepared to impose the rule of law immediately--might have squelched the present mess. We're actually skeptical about that, unless those steps included extensive Arabic language and culture lessons for 350,000 American troops prior to the invasion.

There's a SWNID aphorism involved here: Those who make no mistakes aren't spreading themselves thin enough. Waiting to do things absolutely right generally means waiting forever. Utopian plans never yield utopia.

But what's important now is not what should have been done in light of what's happening now. A wise, animated, Buddhist baboon once said, "It doesn't matter; it's in the past." What matters is what should be done now in light of what's happening now. What's happening is gang warfare. What should be done is to continue to build the Iraqi military and police so that they can, over time, make it so dangerous to be a bad guy in Iraq that few will try.

He who bears the sword bears it not in vain.

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