‘Colonel Mansoor said that he believed the attack on the mosque had broken the back of the insurgents and that their activities would drop off sharply. But he also observed that the insurgents were ‘tenacious.”
That’s a quote from the New York Times. I can’t help but feel that the US has been holding back and that the fighting around the mosque signals that our forces now recognize that the insurgents understand force and only force.
No, no I don’t believe in attacking the sacred places of any religion. But what if the mosques are being used for military purposes?
It’s a touchy question.
Whatever you think of fighting near the mosques, read the Times article. It’s great war reporting. It bears more quoting:
‘[F]ighting at the Mukhaiyam Mosque and the warrens of the surrounding neighborhood brought hundreds of American soldiers within a quarter mile of two of the most sacred places in Shiite Islam, the golden-domed shrines of Hussein and Abbas. Though the Americans say they are determined to destroy Mr. Sadr’s forces, they have been cautious about bringing the war to the holy areas here and in Najaf. Invading the city centers of either place, they fear, could stir the wrath of Shiite Muslims around the world, even those who dislike Mr. Sadr.
‘Tuesday night, the Americans made a high-risk gamble by trying to breach the Mukhaiyam Mosque, situated just west of the Shrine of Hussein. The attack was one of the largest operations carried out in the past year by the First Armored Division, which until now was responsible for controlling Baghdad. Fighting raged on all sides of the mosque, with soldiers scrambling through rubble-strewn streets and ducking sniper shots and rocket-propelled grenades.
‘The Americans relied heavily on the devastating cannons and machine guns of their M-1 Abrams tanks and Bradley fighting vehicles, which pounded surrounding buildings, setting many on fire.’
As this story makes evident, we’ve worried too much in the past about making the enemy angry (!) and not enough about how to scare the living daylights out of them/eliminate them.