Bring It On II
The first time a Bush Administration official dared the Iraqi insurgency to attack Americans, they did, with devastating consequences that reverberate to this day. In a show of sound judgment, they went and did it again (h/t Newshoggers):
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice mocked anti-American cleric Muqtada al-Sadr as a coward on Sunday, hours after the radical leader threatened to declare war unless U.S. and Iraqi forces end a military crackdown on his followers.
Rice, in the Iraqi capital to tout security gains and what she calls an emerging political consensus, said al-Sadr is content to issue threats and edicts from the safety of Iran, where he is studying. Al-Sadr heads an unruly militia that was the main target of an Iraqi government assault in the oil-rich city of Basra last month, and his future role as a spoiler is an open question.
"I know he's sitting in Iran," Rice said dismissively, when asked about al-Sadr's latest threat to lift a self-imposed cease-fire with government and U.S. forces. "I guess it's all-out war for anybody but him," Rice said. "I guess that's the message; his followers can go too their deaths and he's in Iran."
Don't think for a second that it wasn't intentional to have Rice do this, either. At Abu Ghraib and other detention camps the rationale behind stripping prisoners and forcing them to walk around naked was that such humiliations at the hands of women would be even worse in their culture. This is the same "Arab Mind" garbage that these guys have been using as a template for years.
Never mind the absurdity of the statement - Condi shows up in Baghdad, behind fortified Green Zone walls, one day a year, and she's talking about someone ELSE sending minions to their death while they're in calm and comfort? - but this is a death warrant for many of our troops. Maliki wants to hold power and is inciting this conflict while he has American troops and air support on his side so that he can vanquish the Mahdi Army before the elections. But it's an open question whether he has the popular support to carry this through - he certainly didn't in Basra. Which means that Americans will end up on the front lines, and now that Condi has attempted this little humiliation game, Sadr has all the impetus he needs to stage a massive rebellion based on nationalist fervor. Brandon Friedman puts it best.
Again, we have yet another member of the Bush administration who--in a ham-handed effort to help our "allies"--is actually placing our own troops in more danger. I don't think there's any question that this echoes George W. Bush's provocative invitation for terrorists around the world to descend on Iraq when he declared, "Bring'em on" in July 2003. And we all know how that worked out.
But it's not just about Rice's dismissive, provocative tone, either. It's also this continuing, obnoxious Bush-brand of hypocrisy that the whole world sees: If Sadr had said the same thing of Rice--that she's a Washington, D.C. bureaucrat who sends others to fight her own battles--the Bush administration would freak out. And that fact isn't lost on Iraqis.
As Rice is one who will not have to stay and fight the Mahdi Army side-by-side with our troops, I suggest that she keep her mouth shut if she's not going to say anything helpful. Because statements like these are certainly not.
Gen. Petraeus didn't approve of the attack in Basra because he understood it could blow up into a popular uprising. The focus on "special groups" and "criminals" was an effort to cast the battle away from Sadr and his militia. Maliki completely bungled that, and now Rice stomps in with this pathetic schoolyard taunt that's going to do incredible damage. The next several days in Iraq will be incredibly tense. It's April 2004 all over again.
And look what happened WHILE Rice made this statement.
Warning sirens sounded at least twice while Rice was inside the temporary embassy, housed in a beat-up Saddam-era palace. She did not visit the site of a new fortified U.S. Embassy set to open in a few weeks.
They call that a metaphor.