Friday, September 19, 2003
Well, weekend is approaching in South Florida. For most of us down here, the weekend involves either going to Joe Robbie Stadium and paying through the nose for stadium beer, or watching the Dolphins play on TV. This weekend's opponent is the AFC East's hot team, the Buffalo Bills. Buffalo appears to have made it to the Promised Land of relevance by acquiring Drew Bledsoe. Drew has a hot hand, and looks to have a good season this year. Miami needs to play a flawless game this weekend to beat the Buffalo wings at home. I'm a big Dolphin fan, but count me as a pessimist: Buffalo 24, Miami 20.
The Dolphins are a perfect metaphor for this town. Good, but never good enough to be great. Yes, we have South Beach, but South Beach is for rubes who can't make it to Malibu or Cannes. I don't care if J Lo has a home here; the place is still bush league. And the Dolphins are like that. They play some good football, but they never put forward a truly great, dynastic team. They haven't done that since the days of Griese to Warfield. That was three decades ago.
Miami was a colorful town in those days. It had characters in it like Rocky Pomerance, who ran the Miami Beach police department during the 1972 Republican and Democratic national conventions, and Jack "Murph the Surf" Murphy, whose claim to fame was the Star of India heist in 1964. The Dolphins played in the greatest stadium that ever was, the Miami Orange Bowl. The place had character. Now it's just another provincial town, replete with the usual gang of buckpassers and corrupt politicians. A good enough place to live, but destined never again to be Super.
War news tends not to be as depressing as it was in August. This is primarily because American tactics are bearing fruit. The adoption of aggressive patrolling and muscular counterattack against ambushers is forcing the local thuggery to take their jihad to Radio Shack and carry out terror by means of the Remote Control bomb. Indeed, they used these devices to kill three Americans in the past two days. Contrast this to the rather direct "hug the belt" strategy of the North Vietnamese army and their Viet Minh allies. People who wail that this is "another Vietnam" have no idea what they are talking about, or do and they are being deliberately mendacious. Indeed, in the incident of two days ago in which we lost three guys up near Takrit, the infantry immediately counterattacked and captured between 48 and 60 insurgents.
Each loss is a bitch to hear about, but I say again, these losses pale in comparison to either 1968, the casualties we took in one hour's fighting on Omaha Beach, or the Third Day of the Battle of Gettysburg.
Yet we are definitely winning this war. The Shi'a clerics have decided that the Americans are going to stick it out, which is all for the good as far as the Shi'a are concerned. This means that they understand that the Americans will train Shi'a battalions for the new army. The Shi'a have also been assured of proportional representation in the new parliament. These are the only things that make sense to me, given the lack of an uprising after al-Hakim's assassination. That bonehead move by either al-Qaeda or the Ba'athists was supposed to spark a Shi'a uprising against the Americans. Instead, it drew the Americans and the Shi'a closer together into a tripartite alliance that included the Kurds. In the long run, this looks real bad for the Wahabists (especially since the infantry are hunting them down with relish, and with plenty of intel information from the locals), and strengthens the hand of those Sunnis who want to cut the best deal they can in the new constitutional arrangement.
The Shi'a clerics will be the new kingmakers in Iraq, not the Ba'athists or their Wahabist allies. That's why there's no revolt; it is in their interest for us to remain there to keep the Ba'athists at bay while they build their power. When they have built themselves into the dominant force in Iraqi politics, they will demand that we leave. And we will.
Several really good links are included tonight. Victor Davis Hanson lays out the case that we are near a tipping point in the War on Terror. He correctly points out that our effort has brought fabulous results thus far, and we are a Saddam away from psychological victory. In this morning's Jewish World Review, Krauthammer dissects the curious dichotomy that exists in regard to Nation Building within the Democratic Party. Apparently, it's cool in Afghanistan among the tribalists, but not cool among westernized Iraqis.
Really, I'm not making this up.
Finally, Mona Charen brings Al Qaeda and Saddam down to earth in this column. James S. Robbins seconds that emotion in a column about the connections between Saddam's Mukhabarat in today's Online edition of National Review. One of the things that mystifies me about opponents of the war is the blithe assurance with which they assume that Al Qaeda and Saddam had nothing to do with each other. The wish-myth goes that since Al Qaeda was led by a religious fanatic and Iraq by a pragmatic, modernizing strongman, they would never help each other. What the Left forgot was one of oldest rules about politics: the enemy of my enemy is my friend.