Ralph Peters pens an insight-rich column for the New York Post on the spectacular opportunity handed to us by Shiite leader Muqtada al Sadr's fleeing of Iraq. Once the surge began and the rules of engagement changed, Mookie decided that martyrdom isn't for him, but only for the lesser lights of Shia.
Peters nails down the lesson. I only hope that he is read closely in the White House and Pentagon:
We need to flush him out. By shaming him.
If he returns to Iraq, we should bust him. If he doesn't return, he'll bust his credibility. Either way, it looks like Muqtada's previously sound instincts failed him this time. He made the wrong call by sending himself into exile.
What should we do now? In addition to taunting Mookie in public, we need to hit his organization even harder - while he's hiding and his courage is in doubt. Nobody wants to die for a braggart who bails out when the flak starts.
Or perhaps we should meet quietly with the Iranians to encourage them to keep Muqtada in a gilded cage. And they just might: They only backed him reluctantly, after our early indecisiveness let him become a serious contender for power. From Tehran's perspective, Mookie's not a team-player, but a free agent with an unpredictable streak.
The fact that he's run to the Iranians now for safety and support makes backing him less attractive: Hakim and the Badr boys again look like the favorites to finish the race with their legs still under them.