It is true that Sadr has consistently opposed the breakup of Iraq into three ethnicity-based entities, but it is scant comfort that this son of a famed Shiite cleric killed by Saddam Hussein should now, in a sentiment that a recent ABC News poll shows is shared by a majority of his countrymen, consider Iraq’s self-proclaimed liberators as evil occupiers. Indeed, the legacy of Bush’s invasion is that the tired anti-U.S. nationalism of Saddam, never endorsed by the Shiite majority, now has a virulent energy that it never previously possessed.
The only alternative to this Iraqi nationalism is not the democratic and pro-Israel fantasy of the neoconservatives like Lieberman who talked our clueless president into this irresponsible folly, but rather the subjection of Iraq to a Shiite militancy allied with Iran. Sadr, who is rumored to be living these days in Iran, seems torn between those two futures, perhaps positioning himself to benefit no matter which path proves more popular.
Colin Powell was only partially right when he warned before the U.S. invasion, “If you break it, you own it.” What he didn’t add is that the locals will hate you for it, and try to kill you every day until you give it back.