Thursday, August 12, 2004

A bit of news from Najaf: it seems the U.S. rather suddenly called off, or at least postponed, its attack on what might as well be the Shiite Vatican in Najaf -- by some reports, quite literally calling back an armored column that was leaving its base. But that's after a week or so of talking about a final confrontation and killing off martyring all the Sadrists.

Well, the attack was ill-conceived and dangerous. But so is the talk. Napoleon's line was, "if you say you're going to take Vienna, take Vienna." And the contrapositive applies: if you're not sure you will, or can, take Vienna, then don't brag about it. The upshot is that as at Falluja (another case where backing out was a bad option, but going in would have been worse) the credibility of our tough talk has taken another hit...

Update: Well, this one aged quickly. It seems that the U.S. military may have gotten tired of choosing the lesser of two evils. For the moment, reports are that they're trying to isolate the old city, and not to fight within it, but that sounds like a recipe for stalemate.


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