The fall and fall of the House of Sadr

by John Q on February 27, 2007

One of the many useful services performed by Glenn Reynolds is his chronicling of the relentless decline of Moqtada al-Sadr. Some past instalments

The murders are the first sign of organised Iraqi opposition to Sadr’s presence a apr 29, 04

those who thought Sadr represented a mass movement among Iraqis were seriously mistaken. [May 5, 04]

ANOTHER BAD DAY for the increasingly irrelevant Sadr. [May 26, 04]


Demonstrators shouted chants denouncing al-Sadr, including one that equated him with deposed dictator Saddam Hussein. [Sep 3, 04]

Bush has successfully mitigated the perils of having to grapple with two insurgencies simultaneously– through a nuanced combination of sophisticated counter-insurgency efforts and attendant political machinations contra Moktada al-Sadr. [Nov 1, 04]

And now:

Moqtada al-Sadr doesn’t like the surge. That he’s saying so from a secret location may explain why. . . .

I think it’s time for Glenn to let up on the guy. Hated, with no public support, isolated, irrelevant, outfoxed by the sophisticated Bush and now a lonely fugitive, surely by this time he’s too unimportant for a post.

Kenneth Horne Centenary

by Harry on February 27, 2007

Kenneth Horne was born 100 years ago today. My earliest memory is battling with my parents to be allowed to get to bed in time to hear Round The Horne. I even remember when it went off the air because of his untimely death (though in my memory it was replaced by These You Have Loved with Cliff Morgan, which can’t be right). In latter years my daughters have shared the joy of Horne with me courtesy of BBC7. Julian and Sandy, Rambling Sid Rumpo (and here), Charles and Fiona, and, bemused in the middle, the calm tones of Horne himself. BBC7 is celebrating with an episode of Much Binding in the Marsh, a feature-length musical dramatisation of Three Men on A Boat (with Leslie Phillips as a bonus!) and a fun-packed 3-hour history of Beyond Our Ken and Round the Horne.

Mostly Harmless

by Kieran Healy on February 27, 2007

Via “Atrios”:, a quote from Laura Bush:

bq. Many parts of Iraq are stable now. But, uh, of course, what we see on television is the one bombing a day that discourages everyone.

Would this also be the talking point if we had one Iraqi-style car bombing per day anywhere in the entire United States for a month or two? Or indeed a day or two? I’ve sometimes wondered about this question: What level of domestic terrorism woud it would take to send the United States to the point where its citizens would accept a highly repressive domestic government response in order to feel safe? The immediate public reaction after the September 11th attacks was very calm. Of course people were shocked and appalled, but there was virtually nothing in the way of random reprisals or what have you. But thanks to the rhetoric of the GWOT and associated scaremongering in the media, my fear is that the threshold is by now much lower. Substantial numbers of Americans really do seem to believe that Al Qaeda might bomb their local mall.

Ergo, an obvious strategy for any terrorists would be to go and do this a few times, in more or less random locations. Not terribly spectacular, but they’d probably get a hell of a payoff in terms of public hysteria. And shutting down open societies has always been part of Al Qaeda’s agenda. We’ve seen something like this (though not in a sustained fashion) with the bombings in Madrid and London. The fact that it hasn’t happened in the U.S. suggests either that there aren’t any Al Qaeda cells in the country, or that if they do exist they are fixated on doing something extremely big, and presumably extremely difficult. Perhaps they have bought into the “24 Mindset”: too.