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Taking a hard line in Basra

Some of Britain’s problems right now in Basra are a consequence of the absurdity of Muqtada al Sadr still walking around when killing him last year would have been clearly legitimate and just a damn good idea. At the very least he should be sitting in a prison cell. This is not an election campaign, it is an insurgency and the US missed a big opportunity to ‘retire’ Sadr when his militia previously fought against the allied armies.

When I called for ‘no pussyfooting around’, I was just suggesting that when an Iraqi faction shoots at British soldiers or throws petrol bombs at them, the respsonce should not be to just ‘contain’ it or to ‘negotiate’ with the faction responsible (at least not until much later after it has been suitably knocked down to size), no, it should be to use all the force at their disposal to try and cut that faction to pieces. Moreover, it should result in significent reinforcements being sent to give UK forces more options.

People like Sadr will use violence only if they think using violence will gain them a political advantage at a tolerable cost… so the trick is to make the cost intolerable. It is crazy to give such people a ‘second chance’ during an active insurgency as clearly all Sadr has done is use the time since he last took on the occupying powers to rebuild his power base. No, just treat the guy like the Islamo-fascist he is, put a bullet through his head and make it clear that hard line Islamists militias will not be tolerated in the Iraq.

So if local administration in Basra were truly considering handing British soldiers over to Sadr’s militia, then they need to be dragged into the nearest HQ and told if they plan on growing old, that sort of behaviour is a very bad idea. Far from giving them an apology that those undercover SAS man were free by force, they should be told to ‘get stuffed’ and expect more of the same if they prove by their actions that they are the enemy.

18 comments to Taking a hard line in Basra

  • Julian Taylor

    I think I just heard that self-confessed ‘libertarian’ Simon Jenkins implode. There has been a lot of complaining – at least the BBC tells us there is, so so it must be true – about why we have not yet set a date for handover to Iraqi police or army and for a gradual withdrawal from Iraq. The events of this week serve only to illustrate why we need to stay until the job is done, and not be seen running away from the responsibilities we have taken on to help protect the Iraqi people from Syria, Iran and Saudia Arabia and to bring a little bit of sanity back into that region.

  • The reason why we are hobbled in Iraq,is quite simply this government of literal minded lawyers enacted the International Criminal Court Act.
    No members of the military are going to put themselves on the line when they know our creepy politicians will hang them out to dry to advance some future “Peace Process”.
    It will have been noted that no politician who ordered troops into Northern Ireland is on trial,nobody has questioned the wisdom of using assault troops for peacekeeping duties.
    Reading between the lines in Basra,I think our commanders there are watching their backs

  • Paul Rattner

    I agree completely. There’s an excellent article in the Economist online about the whole situation, and the British commanders who ordered the rescue operation are to be commended. At the very least, they prevented those men from being used as hostages or political pawns, and they may well have saved their lives.

    Letting Muqtada run around free has proven to be a mistake. Perhaps there were valid reasons at the time, but in hindsight, we should have killed or captured him. He is absolutely our enemy.

    Western values are nearly a perfect opposite of everything the man stands for. Huge, blown up photos of his pudgy face and stern expression seem to be everywhere, a warning to women to wear the Hijab coming straight from the Patriarchy. Wear it, or risk a beating in the street, praise be to God.

    His army frequently acts violently against coalition forces. We should take the next molotov cocktail his men throw as an excuse to arrest him. Better yet, we should kill him in battle. It’s not too late! That way, there will be no man in prison for the demonstrators to demand released.

    Yes, this will anger the Arab street, but they are always angry. Every day, the media report that something the military has done has angered Arabs, or something they have not done. We should stop worrying too much about what enemies think of us.

    The Iraqis, and large segments of the Arab world are always angry. It is their natural state. They are angry they lose wars. They are angry we defeat some of their horrible dictators. They are angry we help others. They are angry the Jews are still alive. They’re angry they’re all not millionaires with harems.

    To Hell with Arab anger. If someone declares himself our enemy, let’s take him at his word and fight him. The only thing they respect is military might and direct military action.

    To the Arab mind, fair play is not a Jewel.
    –Sir Richard Francis Burton, The Thousand and One Arabian Nights.

  • Bob

    I normally visit this blog to get a fix of sensible unbiased commentary from people who don’t think someone raising their eyebrow the wrong way should be locked up forever as a terrorist. I’m frankly shocked by your comments above, Sadr is a freedom fighter defending his sovereign state against western aggressors who invaded his country against International law. The only people who deserve a bullet in the head are bush, blair & their packs of blood hounds and oil thiefs. I wish Sadr luck in fighting the British & American invaders and can’t wait to see the SAS get their asses handed back to them on a plate. We ‘the west’ are the terrorists and history will show that, AQ are martyers and heroes and they WILL win

  • Bob is a bit harsh to my taste but he does touch on at least one reasonable question: How was it exactly that Sadr became our enemy? He certainly was not one before the War. In fact he was somewhere between being a total unknown to the West and a known opponent to the Saddam regime by a select few Iraq hands.

    He fights us because we are on his soil. Surely any of you Samizdata readers and writers would do the same if the shoe was on the other foot. Yes, yes, he is an illiberal theocratic zealot and therefore not a person whose company I would keep nor whose politics I would recommend, but advocating his murder?

    I too used to frequent this site because of its sensible libertarian tone. But as you have become advocates of State power to take life I have lost much of my respect for you.

  • Great post, nice and foamy. I was astounded that the governor of Basra wanted an apology, as if it wasn’t his own administration handing prisoners over to the militia or anything. Like I was saying the other day, it’s nothing a couple of neutron bombs couldn’t fix in a trice.

  • Julian Taylor

    I think governor of Basra wants recompense for several of his police cars having been reduced to tinfoil by Warrior FV’s running over them.

  • Sadr is a freedom fighter defending his sovereign state against western aggressors who invaded his country against International law

    To be a freedom fighter, presumably you need to be fighting for freedom rather than an Islamic theocracy.

  • Bob

    “To be a freedom fighter, presumably you need to be fighting for freedom rather than an Islamic theocracy.”

    Of course that’s for the US & UK to decide what is “freedom” no Arab could be trusted to understand such a concept. And our offering of democracy to Iraq, if the people were actually allowed to vote then Islamic Theocracy would win hands down anyway, it’s what the majority of Iraqi’s would vote for & not have to vote again. Just as I live in country that has voted in the PM for a 3rd time regardless he’s a war criminal and murderer (David Kelly) . And under this goverment I can now be arrested for ‘anything’ and before long they’ll be holding people without charge for 3-months for the ‘thoughts’ they have, yep 1984 is due in 2006 in Britain.

    Back to the point a ‘freedom fighter’ fights to be free of aggression, occupation and oppression as served by the US & UK. Furthermore we don’t have any issue at all with Islamic states of Saudi, UAE etc etc etc

  • Back to the point a ‘freedom fighter’ fights to be free of aggression, occupation and oppression as served by the US & UK. Furthermore we don’t have any issue at all with Islamic states of Saudi, UAE etc etc etc

    So then pro-Nazi German ‘werewolves’ would be ‘freedom fighters’ opposing the evil Allied Power who were imposing a non-totalitarian government in Germany in 1945 then. Right, got it, consistancy matters I guess.

  • Sadr isn’t a freedom fighter,he is Iran’s bitch!

  • As I said at my blog yesterday, the parallels between Belfast and Basra are depressing.

  • Michael Farris

    Bob, you’re either a fool or evil. Which is it?

    There’s a lot that can be criticised about the post invasion administration (I thought it would be incompetent, but had no idea it would be as clueless as it turned out to be). I’ll join you in long detailed discussions of the things that have been done poorly and how they could/should be rectified.

    This does not mean that the “insurgency” has any redeeming moral qualities. They (according to the Iraqis I know) are either former Baathists (think Nazis without the design sense) or non-Iraqis (fighting for a hateful anti-life form of theocracy that virtually no Iraqis want).

  • I think Bob is actually Bob Dobbs, the banned troll. He’s obviously found a library terminal to post from. Ignore him, he’s just here to cause a ruckus.

  • Michael Farris – he’s a fool.

  • Paul Marks

    The government in Iraq has even managed to create an petrol shortage – via price controls. This can not be blamed on American or even British administrators (ignorant men though they, doubtless, are). This is the choice of the elected government of Iraq.

    There is no Ludwig Erhard going to come to power in Iraq.

    Nor is then any fight for freedom. Even in the sense of the “Social Market” of the post war Federal Republic – for the simple reason that none of the powerful Arab factions (of either main relgious group) believe in freedom. Many of the Kurds may believe in a degree of freedom (and the Kurds are almost all Muslim to), but that is about it.

    Most Arabs may not want to be suicide bombers, but they do want a government that will give them lots of goodies (let us not be too hard on them – most “westerners” want that to, including most Americans), and will also promote both Arab nationalism (and their various tribal groups and religious sects) and Islam in general.

    Unlike the Germans of the 1940′s (even after years of National Socialism) most people in Iraq do not consider themselves part of Western Civilization (however one defines this term) and do not wish to be part of it. I doubt that most of them actually hate us – but they do not like us either, and they certainly do not consider themselves part of “us” we are “them”.

    Mr Bush only has a vague notion of what freedom is – he is generally hostile to high taxes and to such things as gun control, but he spends money as if there was no tomorrow.

    As for Mr Blair – he has a fanatical hatred of freedom (“libertarian” is one of the worst terms of abuse he uses). Certainly he is better than the suicide bombers in Iraq (or in London) – but that is not saying very much. He not only taxes and spends ever more money, he hates all the traditional rules of law. There is nothing good in the traditions of this country that he would not destroy if he could (even his love of elections is limited to those elections he wins – he is quite happy to wink at vote rigging)

    A clear distinction must be kept in mind between “the West” as a philosophical concept (a realm of freedom – private property rights and the non aggression principle) and the actually existing nations known as the West (ever expanding Welfare States, fiat money credit bubble financial systems, collapsing societies and so on).

    I am no fan of Arabs or Muslims (not the same thing of course), but one must not think that the conflict is between Islam and a libertarian West – this Libertarian West does not exist.

    The conflict is really between militant Islam (or “Islamofascists” or whatever term we are supposed to use) and something that is rather like the Byzantine Empire. A power (or group of powers) that has a memory of traditions of freedom (at least the Republican tradition – which had freedom for citizens even if there were still slaves) and still practices a bit of it – but is not really the same sort of thing as Republican Rome or the better Greek city states.

    Although never a fan of the war, I believe that victory is possible.

    It is possible that some sort of democratic federation can be created (if the vote goes well in October things may turn out well enough – at least for a few years). And both Mr Bush and Mr Blair like elected governments, so this is victory.

    But one must have clear eyes about all this. Iraq may have a future than is better than it was under Saddam, or it may not – or it may break apart in blood soaked chaos.

    If things go well the people of Iraq will not be our enemies, but (at least whilst this world lasts, and the present system may not last that many years) they will not be our friends.

    What is done is done. We can not have the hundreds of billions of Dollars (or thousands of American and other lives) back again. We can only finish the job – for to run away would be seen (quite rightly) as weakness of such an order as to beg for a general attack upon us.

  • Luniversal

    Bob- Don’t take Perry de Havilland too seriously, he gets his rocks off occasionally by calling for someone he thinks he dislikes to be ‘eliminated’. I remember being astonished to discover that Perry was middle aged. I’d always assumed from the tenor of his disquisitions that he was a second-year undergraduate with exam tension.

    This cyber-bloodlust reminds me of George Orwell commenting on Auden’s ‘Spain’ that calling for ‘the conscious acceptance of guilt in the necessary murder’ came glibly from a poet who’d never have to kill anyone or see the victims of violence– unlike Orwell and his comrades in the POUM militia.

  • Speaking of Islamo-fascism, taste this little tidbit, which can be found tucked away in a blog entry at
    (Link)

    … low-rent tribal power fantasies of a bronze-age gang of thugs …

    Just so.