Re: Right about now, I'm really missing Steve Gilliard.

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Dude, don't you live in North Carolina? Don't you ever sleep?


Posted by: Ari | Link to this comment | 03-29-08 2:33 AM
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Not much, no.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 03-29-08 2:34 AM
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The stuff on airstrikes, in the linked post and elsewhere, is especially sickening. For quite some time, I've been told (sorry for the passive voice) that the Air Force is looking for its share of the glory/promotions in Iraq. Is it the USAF flying these sorties, I wonder, or naval aviators? Not that either one or the other makes the situation any less grotesque.


Posted by: Ari | Link to this comment | 03-29-08 2:40 AM
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Yeah, "precision airstrikes". Bad times.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 03-29-08 2:48 AM
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"If the U.S. decides to actively go after the Shi'ite forces in the south, it would mean reopening a southern front where American forces once fought some of the Iraq war's fiercest battles against Sadr but now have only a shadow presence. That would involve draining the concentration of surge troops around Baghdad and the Sunni triangle. It might even require more troop extensions or additional deployments to hold ground and maintain modest gains. Moving against the Shi'ite strongholds could then open opportunities for the Sunni fighters of al-Qaeda to strike Iraqi and U.S. targets in the Sunni triangle as the American heat turns south."


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 03-29-08 2:58 AM
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I was wondering what Sadr was up to, but it really does look like he's playing chess while the Americans are playing checkers. But the surge has been a success!


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 03-29-08 3:44 AM
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Cheney went to the ME to get the peace talks back on track, right? He game back and reported that things are going well.


Posted by: drip | Link to this comment | 03-29-08 3:56 AM
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Let me fix the fucking HTML. CT's is different than and even worse than Ogged's.

Bush called the operation "a defining moment in the history of a free Iraq," saying the government is fighting criminals there. "It was just a matter of time before the government was going to have to deal with it," he said.

The president also hailed the operation as a sign of progress, emphasizing that the decision to mount the offensive was al-Maliki's.

"It was his military planning; it was his causing the troops to go from point A to point B," Bush said. "And it's exactly what a lot of folks here in America were wondering whether or not Iraq would even be able to do it in the first place. And it's happening."
...........

The fighting has sparked fears that a seven-month cease-fire by al-Sadr's Mehdi Army, regarded as a key factor in a dramatic drop in attacks in recent months, could collapse or that the U.S. military will have to bail out the Iraqis.

I certainly hope that this attack doesn't threaten the ceasefire in any way. That would be bad.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03-29-08 6:35 AM
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(It's still possible that Maliki will win his gamble, in which case the below is irrelevant or wrong. But at the moment that seems unlikely.)

What does the visit by Cheney mean? The first guess has to be that he gave the go-ahead, and that that he may have initiated the plan. Maliki's attack fits the Bush team's official pre-attack story two ways: 1.) "The Iraqi army is ready to take over", and 2.) "Kill all the bad guys!"

On the other hand, the Bush team's official story is usually only for domestic consumption by the Bush core constituency. If Cheney instigated or approved the attack, it may mean that he was letting his own domestic propaganda fool him as to the Iraqi Army's capacities.

The new official Bush story is that Maliki did this on his own, and that that's a good thing! Because we've been saying that they were ready to stand up so we can stand down. (The possibility that Maliki was deliberately trying to put the US on the spot must be ignored).

On the other hand, the attack has stalled and Americans are doing a lot of the fighting. The official story is to minimize this right now, but that can't be done for long. The next official story could say (possibly even accurately) that Cheney tried to stop the attack, but that wouldn't help, because it would make Cheney look weak (better wrong than weak!), and because it would still leave the overriding Bush story ("The Iraqis are taking over the fight") destroyed.

So the only possible answer is: This shows we must attack Iran. You can still call it a defining moment then, without acknowledging that it was a defining moment of failure.

(From CT.)


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03-29-08 7:12 AM
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Dude, don't you live in North Carolina? Don't you ever sleep?

Please don't break the Apostropher, Ari.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 03-29-08 7:13 AM
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I'm not trying to break Apo, Tim; I'm trying to preserve him for the long haul. I worry about my imaginery friends, you see. (If I could do the strikethrough thing, I'd do something funny with "friends.")*

*(If I could do something funny with "friends" by using strikethrough, I'd be a funnier person. And then Apo'd like me more.)


Posted by: Ari | Link to this comment | 03-29-08 8:54 AM
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Ari, do you really not know the strikethrough command? It's just like italics, except instead of "i" you put "strike" between the carrots.


Posted by: Napi | Link to this comment | 03-29-08 9:09 AM
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Even simpler than that because at Unfogged, you only need to put s.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 03-29-08 9:12 AM
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Right on schedule: War with Iran May Have Begun with Offensive in Iraq


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03-29-08 9:16 AM
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14: yep, I've been worried about that. Make the enemy the right enemy so McCain doesn't get confused. I do think this was probably done with Cheney's prior approval, at a minimum. More, I bet he convinced Bush that the whole "they stand up so we stand down" nonsense was the real driver.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03-29-08 9:25 AM
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It further occurs to me that Cheney may well have thought Maliki would be more successful in driving Sadr towards the border, which would make it even easier to drag Iran into it, but now Maliki's in danger of actually losing without Iran even getting involved. Same as it ever was.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03-29-08 9:31 AM
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These are incompatible theories, aren't they? Either the US was suckered into attacking the Mahdi Army or the US is trying to neutralize it prior to an attack on Iran.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 03-29-08 9:34 AM
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I would say the US was suckered into attacking the Mahdi army because they thought Iean would intervene to prevent them from being crushed, but instead we're intervening to keep Maliki from being crushed without Iran lifting a finger.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03-29-08 9:48 AM
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There are two theories: 1.) that it really is Maliki's initiative (possibly intended to pressure the US in some way) and that Cheney signed on reluctantly, and 2.) that Cheney called the shots. The former seems more likely to me.

Actually, there are about six theories.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03-29-08 9:49 AM
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Yes, but if you start with they think they're a lot cleverer than they are, they think they understand other people's motivation but they don't, and they think they can control events but they can't, you get going in the right direction. Theory wise.


Posted by: Napi | Link to this comment | 03-29-08 10:05 AM
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I think that they have a consistent method ofincreasing the stake until they lose. If one bet loses, they make a bigger one. At some point you run out of resources. Nonetheless, they've been amazingly successful so far. Europe grumbles but does nothing. Congress grumbles but does nothing. They still could win this one.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03-29-08 10:11 AM
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What amazes me, though, is the notion that anyone would think that Sadr is closer to Iran -- more correctly, more of an Iranian creature -- than Maliki. Too many superhero comics, I guess, where the bad guys and good guys are in separate leagues.

I can imagine Bush and Cheney having this delusion.


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 03-29-08 10:16 AM
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22 is me.


Posted by: Napi | Link to this comment | 03-29-08 10:17 AM
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I don't think that Bush and Cheney are deluded on that. The American people and much of the media are, most likely, or can be made deluded if they aren't already. For B&C war with Iran is a positive goal, not an unfortunate necessity. But they'll sell it as the latter.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03-29-08 10:20 AM
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I don't think that Bush and Cheney are deluded on that. The American people and much of the media are, most likely, or can be made deluded if they aren't already. For B&C war with Iran is a positive goal, not an unfortunate necessity. But they'll sell it as the latter.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03-29-08 10:20 AM
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Thanks.


Posted by: Ari | Link to this comment | 03-29-08 10:22 AM
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I really don't believe that B&C want to attack Iran except in their idle day fantasies, and I don't think that we will attack Iran. The US would go nuts, the Republicans would loose on an epic scale, and there might well be unprecedented mass resignations. That said, I grant that past events mean that the burden of proof lies on me, and that I'm not sure its possible to meet that burden.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 03-29-08 10:29 AM
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Tim you're being adorable. Of course they want to attack Iran -- Cheney especially -- they just need a non-obvious way to set things off. Cheney especially is no doubt terrified that if he can't get the ball rolling his vision of a Mideast-wide war that'll reshape the whole region to his liking will never happen.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03-29-08 10:51 AM
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1) I miss Gilliard too. But remember he said that the Sadr/Mehdi would drive America from Iraq, with high, if not total, American losses.

2)In a way, I do consider Sadr close to Iran. The way Sistani (heard from him lately?) is close to Iran. Sadr is mini-me Sistani, and never forget it. A populist pan-Shia religious post(pre)-nationalist anti-gov't anti-mullah kinda way.

3) Gilliard based his prediction of a Sadr/Sistani victory on popular grass roots support, among the poor and faithful. We will see if oligarchs, mullahs, (Kurds?) and foreign oil interests can still oppress the people.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 03-29-08 11:04 AM
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When I took the politican blogs off my blogroll, I also removed the ME policy blogs, like Eric Martin, Aardvark, Juan Cole.

I am sorely tempted to put them back, but time, time, time.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 03-29-08 11:13 AM
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off my blogroll

Do you have a blog, bob?

like Eric Martin, Aardvark, Juan Cole

I've been loading the last two a lot the last couple days. I'm not familiar with the first.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 03-29-08 11:20 AM
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31:Eric Martin


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 03-29-08 11:23 AM
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Sadr is mini-me Sistani, and never forget it.

This is really, really not the case. Sadr Sr. and Sistani had an intense, lifelong rivalry, and Sistani, unlike either Sadr, is opposed to Khomeni-style clerical rule. Sadr Jr. is clearly jostling to replace Sistani as the preeminent Shiite authority figure once Sistani kicks it, but neither one has ever liked the other, and Sistani made a number of attempts to check Sadr's growing power in the early days of the war.


Posted by: strasmangelo jones | Link to this comment | 03-29-08 11:24 AM
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The US would go nuts.... and there might well be unprecedented mass resignations.

I wish.

the Republicans would [lose] on an epic scale

Nothing to lose -- that could easily happen anyway. They might as well gamble.

Except in their idle day fantasies

Which they've always obeyed in the past. What does The Book of Revelation say about this?

A lot depends on whether the media would fall in line. With enough hysteria and discreet use of the Patriot act and war powers, the US could be brought into line.



Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03-29-08 11:27 AM
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At times like this it would be nice if the U.S. had a two-party system. It would be even nicer if the Bush policy had collapsed during a hotly-contested Presidential campaign, because in that case the candidates of the opposing party could loudly point out that the "defining moment", like the rest of Bush's Iraq policy, has been a disaster. But if wishes were horses, beggars would ride.

Just me on my own site.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03-29-08 11:30 AM
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Which they've always obeyed in the past. What does The Book of Revelation say about this?

Putin is Gog and/or Magog, last I heard.


Posted by: strasmangelo jones | Link to this comment | 03-29-08 11:30 AM
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[lose]

The death of charity and kindness at Unfogged continues apace. Beware: you may awake the w-lfs-n.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 03-29-08 11:40 AM
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34:Like Sistani rushing back from an openheart operation to save Sadr's ass at the Temple?

It is complicated. Sadr is not Sistani's puppet. Sadr knows he isn't going to be a leading religious authority. But their bases, interests, enemies, & goals overlap more with each other's more than with those of their rivals. Sadr & Sistani want a more democratic Iraq than most Iranian mullahs would approve. An Shia Iraq that might pressure Iran.

It has been said that Sadr is studying in Qom. Qom is sorta the oppositional Shia center in Iran, the mosque/mullah friendliest to Sistani & Najaf.

When the whatever Temple was blown up by whomever, Sadr & Sistani were the ones to issues veiled threats against the Saudis, threats mentioning the Shia workers in NW SA.

The model Sadr/Sistani want is neither a theocratic republic (sorta) like Iran or an oiligarchy/theocracy like Saudi Arabia (and which the US wants, formerly known as SCIRI + Kurds) or a Westernized society.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 03-29-08 11:41 AM
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Like Sistani rushing back from an openheart operation to save Sadr's ass at the Temple?

In what way was Sistani "saving Sadr's ass"? He was ending a massive bloodbath on terms that redounded massively to his favor, and ended, in the short term, increasing his influence while establishing Sadr as an upstart who'd massively overreached.

Sistani and Sadr disagree on methods, on the form of government Iraq should take, on the usefulness and desirability of violence, etc. That their bases overlap doesn't demonstrate that they're comrades; it demonstrates that they're rivals, competing for the loyalty of the same people.

When the whatever Temple was blown up by whomever

I keep forgetting you're our expert on intra-Shiite politics, what with your going out of your way to not read Mideast policy experts and all.


Posted by: strasmangelo jones | Link to this comment | 03-29-08 12:26 PM
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I keep forgetting you're our expert on intra-Shiite politics

I notice you didn't name it. Obviously a quick google would refresh my memory. Mausoleum of Ali in Ramadi?

it demonstrates that they're rivals

No. Hakim & ISCI & Sistani are rivals, in that Hakim probably would kill Sistani if he could, works more closely with the Iranian factions that want Sistani dead, wants to split off Southeastern Iraq from the rest to set up his own & ISCI's oil fiefdom, wants to use air power to kill whatever Iraq factions are in his way; has personal meetings with American monsters, etc.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 03-29-08 12:41 PM
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and, stras, that you are trying to portray Sadr as the badguy in Iraq puts every word you have ever said on this blog into question.

Objectively pro-Hakim is Objectively pro-Bush.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 03-29-08 12:44 PM
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I'm all pece and love today, guys.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03-29-08 12:54 PM
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"Peace", Tim.

According to the latest reports, at least the cease-fire hasn't broken down yet. That would be terrible.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03-29-08 12:56 PM
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and, stras, that you are trying to portray Sadr as the badguy in Iraq puts every word you have ever said on this blog into question.

Where did I say anything of the sort? You asserted that Sadr and Sistani are allies, when in fact they're not, which you'd know by now if you'd been paying attention. This doesn't make me pro-Sadr, anti-Sadr, pro-Hakim, anti-Hakim, or pro- or anti- anything. There are more than two sides in the intra-Shiite power struggle, just as there are more than two sides in the civil war in Iraq.


Posted by: strasmangelo jones | Link to this comment | 03-29-08 1:32 PM
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All that threatens to undermine White House efforts to convince a skeptical Congress and the American public that the Iraqis are making progress toward managing their own security without the presence of U.S. troops.

Not to worry.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03-29-08 1:44 PM
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At times like this it would be nice if the U.S. had a two-party system. It would be even nicer if the Bush policy had collapsed during a hotly-contested Presidential campaign, because in that case the candidates of the opposing party could loudly point out that the "defining moment", like the rest of Bush's Iraq policy, has been a disaster. But if wishes were horses, beggars would ride.

This is quite possibly the most coherent and well-reasoned (by which I clearly mean "agrees with my feelings") thing I've seen from you.

Maybe it's just cynicism on the part of the Democrats, figuring that the longer they let it implode the better it is for them in November. But maybe national-scale political realities prohibit admitting defeat, and it's tricker to come up with a way to withdraw while proclaiming victory than it appears.


Posted by: water moccasin | Link to this comment | 03-29-08 2:14 PM
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In my relatively uninformed opinion, Sistani's day has passed, and his vision of a Shiite run national state has run aground on Sunni resistance. That leaves Sadr as the principle Shia leader committed to national unity and Shiite hegemony -- both essential for the betterment of Baghdad slumdwellers, who have nothing to gain from southern separatism, and everything to lose from Sunni resurgence. The Hakim/Sadr struggle is obviously not simply a class thing, but it's a factor.

I've thought for years that we ought to have been edging closer to Sadr, who'd be happy to see every last member of AQI dead, and would be willing to exert considerable effort to get there. Then again, that would definitely put us cross-wise with the Saudis. In whose interest anything and everything must be done.


Posted by: Nápi | Link to this comment | 03-29-08 3:39 PM
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"It was just a matter of time before the government was going to have to deal with it,"

George had to be right about something at some point, if only by accident. I think J.E. is right in 19, Maliki wanted to start it while he had US forces to back him up and bail him out.


Posted by: Biohazard | Link to this comment | 03-29-08 6:41 PM
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In my relatively uninformed opinion, Sistani's day has passed

I think so too, and I'm sad about it. He seemed like such a comprehensible element in Iraqi politics.


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 03-29-08 8:07 PM
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I'm all pece and love today, guys.

This was more awesome when I initially read it as "I'm all pecs and love today..."


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 03-29-08 8:23 PM
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In my relatively uninformed opinion, Sistani's day has passed

I think most observers agree with you. As for whether America should side with Sadr, or whether America should side with some other faction: how about America stop picking sides in a civil war of its own making and just get the fuck out? This country has enough blood on its hands as it is.


Posted by: strasmangelo jones | Link to this comment | 03-30-08 8:07 AM
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I'd like to get out as much as the next person. I don't live in a country capable of doing that just now. (And I certainly didn't live in such a country in 2005, when I started to lean towards Sadr). If we have to have some sort of victory to get out -- and the only alternative to that is a crushing defeat of the kind no one is capable of inflicting -- then AQI has got to be the best target of all.

But no, we're apparently no able to decouple ourselves sufficiently from our beneficiaries' war aims.

What a flaming bag of crap this will be on the doorstep of the next presidency. At least we seem to have gotten through another month without starting a war with Iran.


Posted by: Nápi | Link to this comment | 03-30-08 10:40 PM
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Is there a difference between attacking targets in Iran and "starting a war" with Iran? Because I believe the former is just a matter of time, while the latter may not be, unless caused by the former.


Posted by: Tassled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 03-31-08 11:40 AM
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Is there a difference between attacking targets in Iran and "starting a war" with Iran?

Man. The difference would depend on how forebearing the Iranian government decided to be. I hate that "hot pursuit of bad guys" loophole that Bush has tried to enshrine in international law, even though in a different era I might have been more open to it.


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 03-31-08 12:06 PM
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