So there's a "truce" between the Sadrist Mahdi Army and the Dawa/ISCI "government" of the Maliki trend.Or maybe not.
The real question to me as an American is what the hell our armed forces are doing in Sadr City and elsewhere in Iraq with regards to this Iraqi-on-Iraqi violence.
Keep in mind that this isn't "Al Qaeda" we're talking about here. This isn't an Iranian proxy. Take away the Twelver Shiite religion and Sadr is basically Juan Peron in a turban. He's the front man for the poor crapped-out Shiites that first Saddam and then the middle-class Shia of the Dawa party and the Iranian-friendly ISCI have persistently shat upon.
So far no one on either side of the political aisle seems to be asking the most critical question about U.S. participation in this sectarian squabble:
Why is this a must-do operation? This isn't mostly empty desert and mud-hut villages. This is Fallujah writ large. We might have to "destroy it in order to save it".
And this is because...we want to disarm the JAM?
(And why is disarming the JAM so much more important than disarming, say, the Iranian-affiliated Badr militia? Or the ex- and maybe-not-so-ex-AQ-subsidiaries now going under the moniker "Sons of Iraq"?)
Because...Sadr and the Sadrist trend are Islamists?
(And the gang we're supporting are called the "Rotarian Supreme Council of Iraq"?)
Because...the Sadrists are Iranian allies?
(And our boys the Malkists, Dawa and their ISCI pals are...ummm...not?)
If we were asked to intervene in Sri Lanka to fight the Tamil Tigers we'd laugh. We have no dog in that fight, and, frankly, the Sri Lankan "government" is less vile but no more democratic and no more an ally than the LTTE. If the British asked us to bomb the Provos in Belfast we'd scoff. This isn't the U.S. as the LAPD fighting the Eight-Trey Crips - this is the Crips versus the Bloods only with U.S. airpower backing one group of homies against the other. Making them part of the "Iraqi Army" doesn't turn Badr Corp thugs into Audie Murphy. It just puts the stamp of officialdom on the thug life.Plus, why is it suddenly so bloody critical that NOW we fight our way into a Shiite slum so that our Shiite "allies" can eliminate one of their sectarian rivals?
Looking at this from the "power politics" perspective I can see how the defenestration of the Sadrists serves three objects for three different groups:
1. For the Maliki kleptocracy it allows them to use their U.S. ally as a proxy to eliminate an internal rival without being the "bad guy" having to trust their own troops who may or may not be happy about fighting Maliki's gang war (the heavy lifting in Basra, Baghdad and Mosul seems to have been done by foreign troops and fire support). It eliminates the JAM as a potential counter-state enemy of the Malikist trend like Hezbollah in Lebanon. It also makes the point to the Sunni muj that the Shia government isn't "sectarian" (See? We're not JUST killing y'all - we kill other Shiites, too!)
2. For the U.S., it eliminates embarassing evidence of unrest in the form of daily barrages into the Green Zone, and (for a certain GOP faction in our government) continues the original "strategy" that got us there - the pursuit of long-term basing rights and a Status of Forces Agreement that secures a "central position" for U.S. forces in the Middle East.3. For Iran, it eliminates Sadr as an Iraqi political power and especially an Iraq-for-Iraqis irritant, while keeping him alive and in place as a potential anti-U.S. influence.
For me, the downside of all this is for my nation as a whole: it welds us to ONE faction in the dysfunctional Iraqi "state". We now cannot ever allow a Sadrist to be elected, or if elected, to serve - they will be even more committed to ejecting us from Camp Victory et al. We make this mistake over and over: Musharraf in Pakistan, Mubarak in Egypt, Karzai in Afghanistan. We buck these tigers and then have to keep them in power, becoming the props for dictators and earning the justified loathing of every local outside the ruling elites. In pursuit of...what? Petroleum? Influence? Great power props?
We have become what our Founders despised - just another Big Power stomping about the less-paved parts of the world. Just another playa in the global Thug Life, using guns to get the bling and the ho's. Just another gangsta, thuggin' it on the mean streets of Baghdad.Somewhere in Elysium, Thomas Jefferson just threw up a little in his mouth.