One of the most difficult things about this "war" we're enjoying in Iraq is that not only is it difficult to tell who the players are, the scorecard is constantly being revised, printed backwards, stuffed with loaded terms, and outright falsified by the scorers, both managers, the second assistant groundskeeper AND the ballpark organist.The most recent example of the seems to be the recent fighting between the Maliki Metal Mulisha (a.k.a. the "Iraqi Army") and the Jaysh-al-Mahdi of Muhammad al Sadr.
Conventional wisdom has it that:
1. The JAM "won" - as much as anyone won - the latest round, and
2. The two sides are in a holding pattern "truce" as the Malikists (Dawa and SIIC) and their allies try and figure out a new approach.
But is CW right?
Over at missing links, our man the Badger is sniffing out a change in the wind: a Green Zone confabulation between the Occupation, our Malikist running Chihuahuas, and their Sunni rivals in the Iraqi Accord Front to crush the Sadrist militia using the military power of the American supermilitia.
Maybe. Kinda. Sorta. Nobody's sure.
What DOES seem to be the case is that the narrative being prompted from, among other places, the current Administration is that Sadr is a "radical cleric" and his militia is made up of fierce Muslim baddies who would roll you for a nickel and stab you for an extra dime.
As opposed to the Badr Corps and the Kurdish peshmerga, who love peace, the writings of Tom Paine and cute, furry puppies, I understand.
So among my questions for Ambassador Crocker and GEN Petraeus this week would be:
1. Assuming that you can help the "government" of Iraq crush the JAM militia - and I assume you can - will this mean that the poor Shiites it claims to be fighting for will instead become partisans of the current government and U.S. plans for Iraq, or, since Sadr (take away the Muslim claptrap) is sorta Juan Peron in a turban, will they become the descamisados of Iraq and present the same sort of long term disruption that the originals did in Argentina?
2. Is there any reason to assume that the JAM is more harmful to long-term Iraqi political stability than, say, the Badr Corp or the peshmerga?
3. If the JAM needs to be disarmed by force, what should we do about the OTHER militias in Iraq?
4. Does this risk becoming a "Lebanon moment" in Iraq for U.S. troops?
I'l be the first to admit: I don't know the answers to these questions. But I sure hope someone asks them. And I sure hope that our Iraqi proconsuls have some really, really, good answers.
Update 4/8 p.m.: I may not know the answers...but it doesn't stop me from bloviating - my guesses in the "Comments" section.