August 14, 2004

Hama Rules Still Apply

"Hama Rules" is Thomas Friedman's phrase:
"In February 1982 the secular Syrian government of President Hafez al-Assad faced a mortal threat from Islamic extremists, who sought to topple the Assad regime. How did it respond? President Assad identified the rebellion as emanating from Syria's fourth-largest city — Hama — and he literally leveled it, pounding the fundamentalist neighborhoods with artillery for days. Once the guns fell silent, he plowed up the rubble and bulldozed it flat, into vast parking lots. Amnesty International estimated that 10,000 to 25,000 Syrians, mostly civilians, were killed in the merciless crackdown. Syria has not had a Muslim extremist problem since."
These rules apply in Iraq, like it or not.

To temporize as we did in Falluja, rather than destroy the "Mahdi Army" of Maqtada as-Sadr, will either cost us defeat, or the Iraqis and us more lives and treasure to win ultimate victory later.

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