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Iraqis talk of heading to Lebanon to fight Israel.

Published July 24, 2006 1:11PM (EDT)

As he took the country to war on Iraq, George W. Bush said the Iraqi people, freed from the rule of Saddam Hussein, could "set an example to all the Middle East of a vital and peaceful and self-governing nation." It hasn't worked out that way: Check out the news from Iraq these days, and "vital, peaceful and self-governing" aren't exactly the first words that spring to mind.

But that's not to say that a liberated Iraq isn't providing something for its neighbors in the Middle East. As the Washington Times reports this morning, both Shiite and Sunni leaders say they're urging some of their members to head for Lebanon to join Hezbollah's fight against Israel.

A senior member of Muqtada al-Sadr's Shiite Mahdi Army says he'll be sending as many as 1,500 of his men to Lebanon. "We are choosing the men right now," Abu Mujtaba tells the Times. "We are preparing the right men for the job." Meanwhile, a Sunni cleric named Abdul Rahman al-Duleimi says he has called on his people to head to Lebanon if they can. "And if they cannot," he says, "they should donate anything. I called on people to donate even one bullet, because maybe this one bullet will kill one Israeli."

It's hard to say what's worse about this: the way in which it undercuts the president's "we're removing a threat" prewar rhetoric or the fact that it suggests that for the Shiite militias, at least, things are going so well in Iraq that they've got men to spare for a war somewhere else.

By Tim Grieve

Tim Grieve is a senior writer and the author of Salon's War Room blog.

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