Why is Muqtada Sadr defending the status quo?

Opinions about events beyond our borders.
Sept. 3 2004 2:32 PM

America's New Revolutionary War

Why is Muqtada Sadr defending the status quo?

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The problem is that our understanding of successful warfare, like our definition of legitimate governance, is different from the region's. And a lot of people—from Muqtada and Osama to the mullahs in Tehran and the Baathists in Damascus—have a lot at stake in defining their own version of success. If history is written by the victors, the outcome of this war partly depends on how well we describe it, and how well we enforce those descriptions while we're fighting it.

So, maybe the most important positive development over the last year is the way in which the United States has started to learn how to adjust to the realities of the region. A year ago, many U.S. analysts and Iraq experts who'd never even been to the country predicted failure and catastrophe. Today, the real Iraq experts are U.S. soldiers and civilian administrators who tell us that success in Iraq will look like a tribal meeting on a national level where everyone, including women and minorities, has an equal say.

Lee Smith is a visiting fellow at the Hudson Institute in Washington, D.C., and author of The Strong Horse: Power, Politics, and the Clash of Arab Civilizations.