Read an Excerpt
From Squandered Victory:
The American occupation of Iraq was slipping into a new phase of crisis and violence that it would never overcome. But none of this should have come as a surprise; coalition figures had been pleading for months for action against Muqtada al-Sadr, and against other militias as well. On the morning of March 31, I visited one of Sadr's most bitter and effective enemies, a moderate Shiite cleric, Sayyid Farqad al-Qizwini, who was preaching the compatibility of Islam and democracy, indeed the necessity of democracy for Islam.
In the days before my visit, Sadr's organization had been widely distributing a leaflet denouncing Qizwini and his leading supporters as "pigs and dogs" who had defiled Islam and needed to be "stopped and silenced." Qizwini had been living under threat of assassination for months, but now this pseudo-religious call for his murder had raised the stakes.
Qizwini implored the United States to act immediately. "These militias will turn Iraq into a dark age of bloodletting if they are not stopped soon," he told me. "Any decision to dissolve the militias should be implemented in the next week." At that moment, I thought Qizwini's statement a bit hyperbolic in its urgency. But I did not realize that the dam was just about to burst, and that this dramatic day would essentially mark the end of my involvement with the American occupation.