Devolving the Opposing Force

Some may complain about the current fight against Al Sadr in Iraq, saying that we should have finished the job the first time rather than let the Iraqis declare a truce and then have Al Sadr build up his forces again. Sun Tzu teaches that those fighting for a losing cause typically go through a cycle of three attempts, each progressively weaker as their support erodes. Remember, Sun Tzu teaches that it is too expensive to fight to the death, so his strategy tell us to let beaten enemies escape to avoid a bloody showdown. Opponents can reform, but physically and psychologically, they grow weaker every time as fewer and fewer people are willing to fight or support a losing cause.
In the case of Iraq, the risk is of a full-blown rebellion rather than a bloody (at least to us) battle, but the principle is the same. In his more recent rebellion, despite the time he had to regroup, Al Sadr has fewer supporters and, most importantly, much less support among the broad population, than he did even a few months ago. Today, he is fighting an Iraq government rather than an American one. Last time, Al Sadr use the uprising in Sunni Falluja as a distraction for his Shiite revolt, today, the Sunni's are not a part of this. Though there will always be those who prefer conflict and trying to destroy the enemy to the strategy of systematically advancing your positions, good strategy is always best in the long run.