We Have Cut Off the Head of the Snake


There's always some consolation in believing that America's woes are the work of one diablolical genius—at least you know you're up against a true supervillain. I had to give up that notion after the tape surfaced of bin Laden saying he thought the Twin Towers would only collapse to the floor where the planes hit, but the search for Moriarty goes on. In this Washington Post article, Maj. Gen. Charles H. Swannack Jr., commanding general of the 82nd Airborne Division, speculates that Saddam was planning it this way all along:

In an interview Wednesday at his headquarters northwest of the capital, Swannack said the speed of the fall of Baghdad in April probably caught Hussein and his followers by surprise and prevented them from launching the insurgence for a few months. That would explain why anti-U.S. violence dropped off noticeably in July and early August but then began to trend upward.

Stranger things have happened, I guess, and the article has plenty of other valuable stuff well worth reading. This Salon interview with Thomas Powers, which is otherwise a little too archly knowing for my tastes, offers a different theory about what was going on this summer:

In July and August the city of Baghdad suffered approximately a thousand murders a month. Who was killing who? Do we even know the answer to that question? The tentative answer is, people were getting revenge, or it was petty crimes, etc. I don't believe it for a minute. Those people, whoever they were, were settling who's going to run the country, in kind of a clandestine way.

I find that idea disturbing and compelling (which doesn't necessarily mean it's correct). If we follow the logic, the domestic struggle for the upper hand may already have been settled, and now it's a matter of getting the Americans to leave. O Muqtada al-Sadr, where art thou?