Moqtada gets to keep his private army, and the army gets to keep its weapons. Ouch!
So Moqtada’s Mahdi Army was allowed to leave the Imam Ali Shrine intact, with all its weapons. Moqtada himself will have the murder charges against him forgotten, and be invited to take the popularity he apparently has gained by fighting the Americans into the political arena with him, still backed by his own militia.
It’s possible that this was the least bad solution available. It’s almost certain that once Sistani had decided to intervene and demonstrated his capacity to mobilize thousands of followers, we didn’t have much choice but to go with the flow.
Still and all, this looks to me an awful lot like defeat. If this is the best result we could get, we shouldn’t have started the confrontation in the first place. We started out to take Vienna, and we didn’t take Vienna. Very, very bad.
Author: Mark Kleiman
Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out.
Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken)
When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist
Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993)
Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989)
View all posts by Mark Kleiman