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The War Nerd May 15, 2008
From Lebanon To Iraq: We’re In Deep Shia Now
By Gary Brecher Browse author Email
Page 4 of 5

It’s kind of an exciting time, militarily, when a bunch of weekend soldiers can carry a weapon in the trunks of their cars, weapons that will actually intimidate troops in APCs. Morale trumps light armor every time. (Air power and MBTs are another story.)

The Army only intervened when it was time to give Hezbollah everything it wanted: the right to a separate comm network, and the rehiring of their Airport Security dude. As for the latter demand, I’m not saying smuggling was involved or anything but somebody’s got to get those West-Beirut party kids their E and coke, and having your man in charge of airport security sure would make it easier to bring in da stuff, whether it’s Semtex or pure Bolivian. If the guy was worth going to war for, he must be doing something pretty darned important.

Once their demands were met, Hezbollah packed the weapons in the trunks and headed home for supper. That was another very smart move. One thing you can sort of figure out without being Einstein is that this is not a good era for military occupations of other tribes’ territory. What you want is to impose your will militarily, then get out before you become the occupier. That’s exactly what the Hezzies did—wish we could learn a thing or two from them.

So Lebanon right now has a simple box score: Hezzies everything, Old Bosses nothing. Now, let’s zip to the other side of the Middle East and see how the Iraqi game is going. About the same, actually. Weirdly the same. What just happened in Lebanon happened six weeks ago in Iraq: weak central government tries to "assert itself" against rising Shia militia, gets smacked down, then after the smackdown, the Shia militia hands back territory. In the case of Iraq, it was a Shia government, so this was all Shia-on-Shia violence, Maliki’s army vs. Sadr’s militia.

War Nerd Fans Rejoice! Brecher’s long-awaited book has just shipped. Order yours on before they sell out!

There’s still a lot of argument about whether the US pushed Maliki’s government into this or tried to stop them from attacking. I hear from sources in Iraq that US officers advising Maliki warned him that his "army" (basically Badr Brigade vets wearing Iraqi National uniform) weren’t good enough to take on Sadr’s militia on their home ground, but woke up to find the armored columns already moving south to Basra and east into Sadr City. They should have stayed in bed, as the saying goes, because if they’d had another nap—say an hour or so—they’d have seen the same columns breaking all speed limits coming back to base, stomped to within an inch of their lives.

And now for the odd item out: what’s Mosul got to do with it? There are two things going on. At a tactical level, it’s simple: Mosul and Al Qaeda in Iraq is a target that the Iraqi Army might actually be able to handle. They need a morale-building fight against a softer opponent after getting their asses kicked in Basra and Sadr City, and the Sunni jihadi nutcases are an easy target. There aren’t many of them, they’re foreign imports with no neighborhood base (they’ve alienated just about every Sunni Iraqi alive), and they’re more interested in dying than fighting. A counter-insurgency officer’s dream opponent.

There was a story last week that showed why the Iraqi Army would rather fight Al Q than keep battering its head against the Sadrists in East Baghdad. This Iraqi officer was whining, "The Shia in this neighborhood PROMISED us that they’d let us patrol in our vehicles and tell us where the IEDs were buried, they PROMISED, and then within ten meters of leaving our base three IEDs went off under us! It’s not fair!"

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Gary Brecher
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Email Gary at, but, more importantly, buy his book.
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Save The eXile: The War Nerd Calls Mayday
The future of The eXile is in your hands! We're holding a fundraiser to save the paper, and your soul. Tune in to Gary Brecher's urgent request for reinforcements and donate as much as you can. If you don't, we'll be overrun and wiped off the face of the earth, forever.

Scanning Moscow’s Traffic Cops
Automotive Section
We’re happy to introduce a new column in which we publish Moscow’s raw radio communications, courtesy of a Russian amateur radio enthusiast. This issue, eXile readers are given a peek into the secret conversations of Moscow’s traffic police, the notorious "GAIshniki."

Eleven Years of Threats: The eXile's Incredible Journey
Feature Story By The eXile
Good Night, and Bad Luck: In a nation terrorized by its own government, one newspaper dared to fart in its face. Get out your hankies, cuz we’re taking a look back at the impossible crises we overcame.

Your Letters
Russia's freedom-loving free market martyr Mikhail Khodorkovsky answers some of this week's letters, and he's got nothing but praise for President Medvedev.

Clubbing Adventures Through Time
Club Review By Dmitriy Babooshka
eXile club reviewer Babooshka takes a trip through time with the ghost of Moscow clubbing past, present and future, and true to form, gets laid in the process.

The Fortnight Spin
Bardak Calendar By Jared Lindquist
Jared comes out with yet another roundup of upcoming bardak sessions.

Your Letters
Richard Gere tackles this week's letters. Now reformed, he fights for gerbil rights all around the world.

13 Toxic Talents: Hollywood’s Worst Polluters
America By Eileen Jones
Everybody complains about celebrities, but nobody does anything about them. People, it’s time to stop fretting about whether we’re a celebrity-obsessed culture—we are, we have been, we’re going to be—and instead take practical steps to clean up the celebrity-obsessed culture we’ve got...


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