From Michael Gordon and Alissa Rubin in the NYT:
Some Mahdi Army leaders put the death toll slightly higher. When a truce was first announced, they threatened to refuse Mr. Sadr’s order to stand down. “What about the martyrs?” a Mahdi battalion leader recently told a reporter. “A thousand martyrs, what did they die for?”
I mention this because I worry when advocates of keeping U.S. forces engaged in the fighting in Iraq make a parallel argument, i.e., when they say we need to stay in Iraq and kill militia members or insurgents to honor the sacrifice of the Americans who’ve died — advocates of withdrawal are right to say that this argument is senseless, though it has an emotional appeal to many who’ve lost comrades. If the U.S. should keep actively supporting the Iraqi government, as I think it should, it should do so because it is the best way to advance U.S. national security objectives and to meet our collective security obligations. And there’s no sense in pretending that there is an obvious answer to this question that will be pellucidly clear to all right-thinking people.