escape to Iranian air bases. When asked during a press briefing his thoughts on this odd tactic, Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf replied "I suspect he's husbanding his resources". [No link for that quote...I'm quoting from memory. --ed.]
Iran, of course, never returned the aircraft to Iraq. In fact, it was only years later that they finally allowed the aircrews to return home. So Saddam would have been better off, dignity-wise, letting his fighter pilots put up a fight. He ended up 'husbanding his resources' for Iran.
There are conflicting reports now that Muqtada al Sadr aka "Mookie" may be continuing this peculiar Iraqi tradition. While an aide denies that Mookie has fled to Iran, I'm more inclined to believe earlier reports that he left Iraq for Teheran along with the top commanders of his Mahdi Army militia. Husbanding his resources, as it were, ahead of the surge.
This tactic will work for Mookie much better than it did for Saddam, unfortunately. Muqtada al Sadr is Iran's Shi'ite pet in Iraq and the mullahs will be eager to turn him and his Mahdi Army loose as soon as the Democrat-controlled congress is able to force the abandonment of Iraq.