Of all the characters in America’s Iraqi adventure, Muqtada al-Sadr is perhaps the most perfect Bad Guy.
I thought about this again yesterday after my (not totally unexpected) bout of moralism regarding al-Sadr’s nickname. I mean, just look at the photo. With his Darth Vader attire and “look, I pig out while the poor suffer” figure, he conforms to every possible stereotype of a scheming Arab madman. And sure, he’s probably responsible for more American deaths than any other Iraqi leader, so us Europeans need to allow our Yank friends some leeway here.
Still, I’m surprised how easy it is for even eminently wise and learned people like the folks at Abu Muqawama to forget their high standards when it comes to Sadr. Take the above-mentioned photo. I mean, even the Stupidest Man on Earth can see that the image, with all its none-too-subtle signals, is meant to portray him as a vulture about to take wing. And although I admit that the jokes about his portliness make for a good read, they, too, imply that somehow we’re not to take him seriously. In other words, the message seems to be that either he’s a dumb animal or just some fat dork from Kadhimiya.
I could go on about the dangers of underestimating your enemy etc. etc., but let’s just leave it that.