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Tuesday, September 14, 2004

Najaf a success?

David Brooks in his op-ed in today's NY Times:
The gradualists point to what just happened in Najaf as their model for how the Iraq war should proceed. First, Allawi laid down tough conditions: that Moktada al-Sadr's militia had to go. Then he convinced many of the locals that their lives would be better without lawless thugs in their midst. Then the U.S. attacked and weakened the terrorists. Then Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani brokered an agreement that led to the re-establishment of government control. Now development aid can flow to Najaf again. Aid projects worth roughly $6 million are resuming, and $37 million more is on the way.

Najaf, the gradualists argue, showed it's possible to marginalize the extremists and rally the decent majority. Now the task is to build on that success in other towns, and slowly rob the terrorists of sanctuaries.
...the weight of the argument is on the gradualist side.
This is what Brooks' success looks like:

Photo from Time.

I'd wager that it cost the U.S. military far more than $43 million to do that much damage to Najaf (not to mention the dead and wounded on all sides and the propaganda disaster of bombing, shooting, and stomping through Shiite Islam's holiest cemetery), and that repairing the damage just on this one street might cost $43 million (or way more, if Halliburton or Bechtel do it).