A diary asks if I'm feeling down. How could I not be, given what's going on in Iraq? I could see a poll showing Kerry leading by 30 points over Bush, and it wouldn't change my mood.
And things like this don't improve my mood any.
U.S. commanders in Iraq want rebellious Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr dead or alive but they said on Monday his militia's control of the holy city of Najaf was not a widespread uprising by the Shi'ite majority.
"The mission of the U.S. forces is to kill or capture Moqtada al-Sadr," Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, commander of ground forces in Iraq, said in a video conference from Baghdad with reporters at the Pentagon.
Why is this depressing? It's not that killing Sadr will likely inflame anti-US sentiment and action further, and it's not that turning him into a martyr is about the last thing we need right now.
What's depressing is this infuriating penchant for Bush to villify individuals, as though our battles can be won by exterminating a few well-placed leaders. We have seen this with al Qaida and OBL, we have seen it with Saddam Hussein, and now with our two latest boogeymen -- Sadr and Abu Musab Zarqawi.
The enemies we face are bigger than one person. Killing Sadr would be as effective in ending Shiite opposition as capturing Saddam was in ending Sunni opposition (or killing his sons, for that matter). Killing or capturing Osama bin Laden would make us all feel good (especially killing him), but it wouldn't have any real effect on Al Qaida operations.
Yet the administration insists on creating the fiction that killing or capturing any one man can help us win our various wars. It's understandable, in a way -- a relatively easy way to prove progress to a domestic audience.
But in the real world, the attention we lavish on those individuals makes them that much more powerful in the Arab world. The more cowboy "dead or alive" talk spews from the president's mouth, the more popular these "outlaws" become in life and in death.
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