Monday, March 31, 2008

More on Sadr

Malcolm Nance comments on the campaign against Sadr at the Small Wars Journal and calls it a "defining gambit". Here are some key excerpts.

it was the MNF-I that broke the truce last Tuesday when they felt the Iraqi army ready to take on the JAM in their southern stronghold. ... Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki arrived in Basrah on 24 March ahead of what was being labeled “a major security push” that was massive for the Iraqi army. It was a planned gamble to snatch Iraq’s second largest city away from the JAM.

The Basrah operation appeared to be a chance for the Iraqi army to attempt the “seize, clear, control and retain” strategy. Maliki would adopt the same counterinsurgency pattern seen in the 2007 Baghdad Security Plan (BSP), Operation Enforcing the Law (Fadhl al-Qanoon).

The first objective is to neutralize and/or drive out the insurgents and criminal elements like the notorious Garamsheh tribe. The army would then start securing the local population from the insurgents to dry up their base of support, most likely through compounding neighborhoods with Texas barriers, ala Baghdad. The next phase would be to segregate the hot sectors of the city from each other and keeping a heavy boot down on resistant sectors under their control. ...

Playing Splinter Cell - Targeting the JAM, Piece by Piece. For the last year the MNF-I has embarked on a campaign to isolate the JAM one cell at a time and bring them to heel through a series of targeted raids. ... This progressive labeling allowed the MNF-I to break JAM units they identified apart from major JAM concentrations and clear areas of interest such as Hillah piecemeal. Cautiously balancing al-Sadr’s popularity, loyalty and willingness to adhere to the cease-fire, these cells would not be attacked as part of the JAM as a whole, but were attacked a little at a time. ... Considering that Maliki’s Badr Corps is just as closely aligned with Iran as the JAM, it attempt to seize Basrah draws suspicion.

My discussions this week with Iraqi Shiite friends trapped in Basrah and Baghdad is that most Shiites in Southern Iraq do not see it that way. They see this as a fight between two rival militias, the Badr Corps (aka Maliki and the Iraqi army) and the JAM.

No one who has ever been to Basrah would predict that the Iraqi Army, even with US Special Operations support would penetrate the Hiyaniyah district, a large swath of poverty-filled slums dominated by the JAM. Iraqi and US Special Operations had to spearhead the offensive there and still have yet to make more than limited headway. The British tried for five years and now have retired comfortably at Basrah airport. ...

the Basrah Operation may have also been an attempt at a Hail Mary pass for both General Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan Crocker in the heart of the election season. To show dramatic tangible gains all across Iraq would bolster the President’s case for continuing the war. This is most likely due to pressure, if not direct orders from the White House through the Vice President’s visit last month.

As I wrote earlier, this is a struggle for supremacy between power centers in the Shi'ite community. Nance claims we are watching a game of "fight to the politics" and I agree. But I disagree with the assessment that the Iraqi Army has lost. Right now the Iraqi Army has peformed in an uneven manner, in some ways surpassing every expectation as demonstrated by its ability to carry out ops in places even the Brits didn't try for, but in other ways it failed to carry out its mission.

But as in the metaphor that a "gambit" has been played, we are only in the opening moves. We haven't gotten to the middle game between Maliki versus Sadr nor remotely close to the endgame. About all we can be sure of is that more yet to come. And although a "ceasefire" has been declared in the newspapers, in truth the ceasefire is bound to be temporary. The fact that a gambit has been played suggests there is going to be a winner and a loser. The question is whether it will be Maliki or Sadr. The Iraqi Army must, for political reasons, settle this affair on their own.

Maliki must know this, or have realized it, because Bill Roggio is reporting that while Sadr may have declared a ceasefire, the government has not.

While Sadr spokesman said the Iraqi government agreed to Sadr's terms for the cease-fire, Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki has said the security forces will continue operations in Basrah in the South. Meanwhile, the Mahdi Army took heavy casualties in Basrah, Nasiriyah, Babil, and Baghdad over the weekend, despite Sadr's call for the end of fighting.

The Iraqi military said it was moving in more forces into the South after admitting it was surprised by the level of resistance encountered in Basrah. "Fresh military reinforcements were sent to Basra to start clearing a number of Basra districts of wanted criminals and gunmen taking up arms," said Brigadier General Abdel Aziz al Ubaidi, the operations chief for the Ministry of Defense. "Preparations for fresh operations have been made to conduct raids and clearance operations in Basra ... [and] military operations would continue to restore security in Basra."

Roggio continues to emphasize that Sadr's forces have taken heavy casualties, and more to the point is low on ammunition. He surveys the action not only in Basra, but in Baghdad and Nasiriyah and notes that the fightint has died down. One characteristic of militia forces is that they are not configured for sustained combat. They fight with ready-use ammo and some caches. But if we assume that Maliki has decided to press on with the attack and that US forces will not involve themselves, the events of the next few days will depend on the strategic mobility and sustainment capability of the Iraqi Army. That is, whether they can bring up and deploy reinforcements at a far faster rate than the Madhi Army can respond. The next week will show whether Maliki has the will or capability to fight this to the finish or whether he will let Sadr dance away in order to recover.




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48 Comments:

Blogger unaha-closp said...

Good summary.

There is also a democratic dimmnesion with provincial elections approaching, imposing a hurried timetable. Maliki wishes to secure a greater Shia autonomous region combining the 8 southern rural provinces (Badr dominated) with urban Basra (Madhi dominated). He needs a governor in Basra who approves of this, the pro-Madhi governor did not and has been removed during the "security push".

3/31/2008 08:09:00 PM  
Blogger Wretchard said...

A Washington Post article argues that British forces in Basra have left nothing to work with but trouble. And now without intel, the place essentially has to be recaptured by the US-supported Iraqis from the militias.

I think this is all water under the bridge. The decision to give over control of the south to the British was a consequence of US troop levels. The payment on the south was deferred. Now it can be deferred no longer.

So whatever the sins of the British, and the sins of earlier Americans strategy which set up this situation now have to be addressed.

3/31/2008 08:26:00 PM  
Blogger Coyotl said...

Nance writes:

Considering that Maliki’s Badr Corps is just as closely aligned with Iran as the JAM, it attempt to seize Basrah draws suspicion.

"Just as closely aligned"?! Well, I believe it, based on my readings of Dawa and ISCI, but Wretchard certianly doesn't, and has let this datum pass without commentary or subsequent incorporation into his analysis.

Do you now accept this, Wretchard, and if so, what do you think it means?

I think this is all water under the bridge. The decision to give over control of the south to the British was a consequence of US troop levels.

Sure, after claiming that the British had succeeded in Basra and posting a Daily Telegraph article about how calm and peaceful it was in the Southern port city just before the latest Shiite explosion . . . now, it's all "water under the bridge". A most graceful way to admit error: passive voice, don't look back, the future WILL be overcome. An accomplished rhetorical technique with just a hint of Jesuitical forensics.

3/31/2008 08:46:00 PM  
Blogger Wretchard said...

Here were my thoughts on the British strategy in Basra at length. It is a sad ending to a campaign which had been held up as a shining contrast to the US campaign in Iraq, made more invidious with the comparative success the Surge is having even in Shi'ite areas.

A more extended treatment of my ideas on the British in Basra was published in Pajamas Media under the title "Has the British Strategy in Southern Iraq Failed?" in which I contrasted the "softly, softly" approach which ceded the authority to the militias with the Surge.

The Surge from the very start was a political and military offensive. Both elements had to be present in order for each to be effective. Without a political process a military effort would be a nothing but coercion. But without a military effort providing security no political solution could possibly take root. While it is often said that "there is no purely military solution to the problems in Iraq" it is less frequently realized that there can be no purely political solution either. One of the first articles to warn against the British "softly-softly" approach appeared in the Spectator in 2005. It warned that "softly-softly" might lead to an exclusive reliance on political solutions which could not withstand the first determined military challenge from the insurgents, unless the British were prepared to respond in kind. But they were not.

3/31/2008 09:19:00 PM  
Blogger Wretchard said...

So while whoever Jesuits you know may have at one time or the other believed in "softly-softly" I was for a long time cognizant of the unfinished business in Southern Iraq.

But it was a fact that had to be dealt with. And while I agree with the Washington Post that the British are at least partially responsible for the problems there now, that's irrelevant. It's the marginal decision that counts.

And the correct marginal decision depends on an understanding of the situation. But just as I was cognizant of the problems in Southern Iraq (and the Iraqi Army buildup designed to meet it) I never for once believed in the conspiracy theory that Iran was jerking people around.

But if you want speculation, I'll give you some. But it's only speculation, without much of a factual leg to stand on. My guess is Iran was planning something close to November in order to help shift the US elections to the Democrats. McCain was going to run on Iraq, and the Ayatollahs were going to pull the rug right out from under him.

For reasons that accorded with Maliki's own self-interest and also with Bush Administration's, the boil had to be lanced now. Think of it as a spoiling attack. Again, I'll say that this is just speculation. I have no access to any specific information to support it. But if you want to talk about Jesuits, we can always speculate about the theocrats in Teheran.

3/31/2008 09:39:00 PM  
Blogger 2164th said...

Total nonsense. It is over. Thousands of iraqi police deserted. Look at the pictures of the Sadr forces running around in American supplied vehicles with the Iraqi army colors still on them. It is one great stinking pile of shit. The Iraqi government has all the credibility of a Bear Stearns' balance sheet.

3/31/2008 10:09:00 PM  
Blogger ragyun said...

If JAM was so successful, and has the momentum, Sadr sure seems to pick the right time to claim cease fire.


Sadr orders fighters to end fighting, by Bill Roggio


"Sadr’s call for an end to fighting by his followers comes as his Mahdi Army has taken high casualties over the past six days. Since the fighting began on Tuesday, 358 Mahdi Army fighters were killed, 531 were wounded, 343 were captured, and 30 surrendered. The US and Iraqi security forces have killed 125 Mahdi Army fighters in Baghdad alone, while Iraqi security forces have killed 140 Mahdi fighters in Basrah.

From March 25-29 the Mahdi Army had an average of 71 of its fighters killed per day. Sixty-nine fighters have been captured per day, and another 160 have been reported wounded per day during the fighting. The US and Iraqi military never came close to inflicting casualties at such a high rate during the height of major combat operations against al Qaeda in Iraq during the summer and fall of 2007."

This doesn't look like a very successful JAM campaign to me. More like a military defeat by any standard.

3/31/2008 10:49:00 PM  
Blogger putnam said...

2164th: I would like to see "all" those pictures. I have only seen a burned out Polish supplied armored car, and a Hummer.

Wretchard: I think the Brits got the south because of the far shorter lines of communication and the oil fields. It was the easier and more desirable bit, and control of the oil was the payoff. Everyone rightly thought that Bagdad would be the bitch, since the Shia were expected to be on our side anyway.

That the Brits believed to the end in the softly, softly approach was due to their smug feelings of superiority, which was also related to the friendly fire incidents that they like to wave under our noses with such glee. One only has to recall the 2 incidents of captured British seamen to realize that the Iranians have long had them cowed.

Wilson and Roosevelt had the domestic audience prepared before they sent our boys into WWI and WWII. Bush and Blair certainly didn't, and that is why we have had so little domestic support and so much international skepticism. Blair had even a weeker footing than Bush, and that is why they buckled (and probably will in Afganistan too).

The real key to the situation now is Iran. Earlier we captured and held some Quds agents in Kurdistan. I think it is time to tweak the Iranians noses here, and I think they realize it too, and that is why there is now a (unilateral) cease fire. I think they realize that Bush on his way out may be looking for an opportunity to jerk Irans chain.

3/31/2008 10:56:00 PM  
Blogger Wadeusaf said...

Well Dang it all, wretchard, I stand by my comment to that post as well.

3/31/2008 11:57:00 PM  
Blogger probus said...

most arab fights i've ever heard or read about in modern times has them calling for 'cease fires' when they are losing-- the 'cease fires' they call for are simply ways for them to re-arm and re-group so they can fight again on favorable terms-- the Israelis know it and don't play that game-- i'd say from past experience that it looks like Sadr is letting Maliki see him sweat-- now is the time to press on with the heat until the bitch cries 'uncle'-- Regards, probus

4/01/2008 12:35:00 AM  
Blogger ledger said...

From what Bill Roggio wrote it looks like the Mahdi gangsters got bloodied pretty good. Now, I do agree that “cease fire” means re-supply and regroup to the average jihadi. So it's far from over.

Just as Saddam’s sons died signaling the bigger death of Saddam, the war against Sadr will be signaled by his son’s death or Sadr’s own death (or possible a key family member).

When someone rat’s him out and he is liquidated then the tide will turn.

4/01/2008 02:59:00 AM  
Blogger davod said...

"The decision to give over control of the south to the British was a consequence of US troop levels."

A little to simplistic. The were, and still are, the second political partner in Operation Iraqi Freedom. The Brits have a professional military capable of working inependently.

The Brits taking the Southern area was a way of the Brits being able to define themselves, and they did.

The troops on the ground would do all that is asked of them.

I would suggest that the problem was more in the British government and the upper echelons of the British military. They took the liberation of Iraq literally and let the Iraqis alone. The problem was the thugs and militias took over from thge very beginning. The locals had nowhere to go but down.

4/01/2008 03:50:00 AM  
Blogger PeterBoston said...

…571 Mahdi Army fighters have been killed, 881 have been wounded, 490 have been captured, and 30 have surrendered over the course of seven days of fighting.

Those are horrendous casualties for an irregular force. Almost certainly indicative that Sadr has no ability to shape the battle space and probably indicative of a near term annihilation if the Iraqi army continues to press the combat.

What really pisses me off, and causes me to doubt the long-term sustainability of a democratic, civil society in the USA is how the NYT and other major media are (again) rushing to turn this mauling into a victory for the side in Iraq that is most inimical to American interests.

A well informed electorate was probably always a pipe dream, Most people don't care much for anything happening outside their sphere of daily activity, but they still vote as part of a national electorate, even if their votes are based more on general impressions that on critical analysis. If even the basis for those general impressions are lies and fabrications then there is little chance for a reality based outcome.

4/01/2008 04:40:00 AM  
Blogger davod said...

"What really pisses me off, and causes me to doubt the long-term sustainability of a democratic, civil society in the USA is how the NYT and other major media are (again) rushing to turn this mauling into a victory for the side in Iraq that is most inimical to American interests."

When is freedom of the press, freedom to lie and dissemble.

At some stage there has to be a dividing line between commentary like editorials and hard news.

4/01/2008 04:48:00 AM  
Blogger PeterBoston said...

The Athenians lost their democracy, and their liberty, because they meekly accepted the lies and rantings of a politcal class that cared so much more for its own ambitions than for the future of the polity or even for the idea of democracy and liberty.

We don't have a single, distinguishable Alcibiades that we can point to as the essence of treachery, but we can count hundreds of Washington politicians and more than a few New York publishers who don't care much who or what is left standing so long as dinner is promptly at eight.

4/01/2008 05:21:00 AM  
Blogger davod said...

Peter:

How do you combat this?

What is essentially enemy propaganda is spread by our own media and politicians while at the same time they accuse the government of crimes if the government attempts to tell its side of a situation.

4/01/2008 05:33:00 AM  
Blogger NahnCee said...

A well informed electorate was probably always a pipe dream, Most people don't care much for anything happening outside their sphere of daily activity, but they still vote as part of a national electorate, even if their votes are based more on general impressions that on critical analysis.

I had lunch with my weathervane "typical American voter" friend last week. We rarely discuss politics because she keeps herself so self-ignorant, but I asked her how she was going to vote. She hesitated, a little embarrassed, and then said she was thinking about voting for Obama, "the Man".

I asked her if his preacher of hate didn't bother her, and she said no. I got the impression she didn't know much about the issues the blogosphere has been covering, nor about Michelle, nor about Wright. And is determined to keep it that way.

I don't know which is more frustrating: the moonbats who think they're on top of the news, but spin everything to the detriment of America, or the voters like my friend who defiantly put on blinders and really really do not want to take them off lest they discover something to get upset about.

4/01/2008 06:35:00 AM  
Blogger Mətušélaḥ said...

"How do you combat this?"

You turn their spigot off. You're obviously not their target demographic. You go elsewhere.

4/01/2008 06:41:00 AM  
Blogger Derek Kite said...

How do you combat this?

You let time pass. Events on the ground have a nasty tendency to prove one side or the other right.

Derek

4/01/2008 06:44:00 AM  
Blogger Mətušélaḥ said...

Speaking of spigots..
The oil in the south should be taken off line.

4/01/2008 06:50:00 AM  
Blogger amr said...

putnam: the Brits have already buckled once in Afghanistan. They had initiated a truce with the Taliban. Links http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/library/news/2006/10/mil-061002-irna01.htm & http://www.atimes.com/atimes/South_Asia/IL15Df03.html among others

4/01/2008 07:31:00 AM  
Blogger Coyotl said...

Wretchard, why worry about Basra at all? Did you not write on 3/2/08 "Ahmadinejad in Baghdad":

It has probably now been accepted in Teheran that toppling the new Iraq or subverting it to Iranian control is beyond the capability of the Qods or the Shi'ite militias in Iraq.

http://fallbackbelmont.blogspot.com/2008/03/ahmadinejad-in-baghdad.html

Probably . . .not! Were those rose-tinted aviator shades trained on Sadr, or on Mailiki? Somehow that post of yours turned Ahmadinejad's victory lap through Baghdad into a chastised Iranian leader beginning to reconcile himself to hard political realities. It is worth reconsidering just what Mailiki and Ahmadinejad discussed during that lovefest. You did, in that post, note something interesting:

A 'strong and united Iraq' might also forestall a political threat to the Shi'ite theocracy from southern Iraq.

Mayhaps then, there's a reason to keep Iraq weak and dependant on Iran, no? Maliki's failed offensive certainly seems to bear that out.

Good job, btw, on your earlier suspicion of the explosive irresolution left behind by the British pullout of Basra. It was the following link you published on the 23rd of March, without comment, from the Daily Telegraph that made me think you had drunk the "Basra is peaceful" Kool-Aid:

The Daily Telegraph

Five years on from the invasion of Iraq, the apparent success of the American surge and growing stability in Basra are providing cautious grounds for optimism. There has been a palpable change in the atmosphere in Basra since Britain formally handed over control of the province to the Iraqis last December.


http://fallbackbelmont.blogspot.com/2008/03/basra-liberation-theology-and-iraq.html

Now that is bad reporting. Perhaps if you had provided one line of skepticism or caution, readers might've better known your view.

4/01/2008 08:24:00 AM  
Blogger Mətušélaḥ said...

W,

good read:
'Welcome to Tehran' - how Iran took control of Basra
http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2007/may/19/iraq.iran

4/01/2008 08:56:00 AM  
Blogger eggplant said...

NahnCee said:

"I don't know which is more frustrating: the moonbats who think they're on top of the news, but spin everything to the detriment of America, or the voters like my friend who defiantly put on blinders and really really do not want to take them off lest they discover something to get upset about."

Voters like NahnCee's friend constitute the primary target being competed for by the various political factions. The moonbats have a slight advantage because they are driven by emotion and not constrained by truth or ethics. Also our dysfunctional MSM has clearly sided with the moonbats. Both sides of the political debate are compelled to use the propaganda method of constant repetition if they are to convey their message. The MSM is well suited for constantly repeating mindless slogans to the ignorant masses.

It worries me that rational people tend to dismiss Barack Hussein as unelectable because he is such an obvious demagogue. History teaches us that ignorant people like NahnCee's friend are suckers for demagogues.

Hussein's defeat in the general election is NOT assured. This is very frightening.

4/01/2008 09:18:00 AM  
Blogger Alexis said...

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4/01/2008 09:25:00 AM  
Blogger Alexis said...

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4/01/2008 09:28:00 AM  
Blogger Alexis said...

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4/01/2008 09:31:00 AM  
Blogger Alexis said...

Even if our electorate is well informed, there is a portion of it that wants to go back to sleep. Some people are tired and they want to dream. So they take sleeping pills.

Insomniacs who take Ambien or other sleep medications are known to get into automobile accidents they later do not remember.

The Ambien Effect could become a problem for our ship of state. Imagine an electorate, or a portion of our electorate, that is asleep. Yet, even though these voters are not awake, they can still vote, and they vote for the political candidate whose calming effect mimics the effects of Ambien. Then, just as sleep drivers get into car crashes, the sleep voter runs our ship of state into an iceberg. And then, after the accident, the voter won’t remember anything.

Let’s hope there aren’t many voters taking sedative-hypnotic medication on the evening of November 3.

4/01/2008 09:33:00 AM  
Blogger Marcus Aurelius said...

nahncee,

I saw this in '92. A friend of mine said we needed "change". I asked for some specifics and all I got was non-specific amorphous blather about – change.

4/01/2008 10:29:00 AM  
Blogger Mike H. said...

"When is freedom of the press, freedom to lie and dissemble."

Always! Look at the broadsheets during the revolution. Normally we don't see or hear of the Tory writings during the revolution.

"At some stage there has to be a dividing line between commentary like editorials and hard news."

If you insert the line by law then the ability to regulate speech resides with the party in power.

4/01/2008 10:40:00 AM  
Blogger Jrod said...

The Myth of the Rational Voter

The world is a complex place. Most people are inevitably ignorant about most things, which is why shows like “Are You Smarter than a 5th Grader?” are funny. Politics is no exception. Only 15% of Americans know who Harry Reid (the Senate majority leader) is, for example. True, more than 90% can identify Arnold Schwarzenegger. But that has a lot to do with the governor of California's previous job pretending to be a killer robot.

Many political scientists think this does not matter because of a phenomenon called the “miracle of aggregation” or, more poetically, the “wisdom of crowds”. If ignorant voters vote randomly, the candidate who wins a majority of well-informed voters will win. The principle yields good results in other fields. On “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?”, another quiz show, the answer most popular with the studio audience is correct 91% of the time. Financial markets, too, show how a huge number of guesses, aggregated, can value a stock or bond more accurately than any individual expert could. But Mr Caplan says that politics is different because ignorant voters do not vote randomly.

Instead, he identifies four biases that prompt voters systematically to demand policies that make them worse off. First, people do not understand how the pursuit of private profits often yields public benefits: they have an anti-market bias. Second, they underestimate the benefits of interactions with foreigners: they have an anti-foreign bias. Third, they equate prosperity with employment rather than production: Mr Caplan calls this the “make-work bias”. Finally, they tend to think economic conditions are worse than they are, a bias towards pessimism.


Economist review

4/01/2008 10:51:00 AM  
Blogger Gordon DeSpain said...

From my perspective, sitting here in 'soft Shelter,' in Baghdad, there are several real certainties: 1. the guys at "Long War Journal" haven't a clue what's happening here.

2. I've been here 3 years this month, and, barely worn my Armor until the Barrage began on Easter Sunday.

3. I spent a month and a half in Al Hillah, and, 10 Mortars came in: 5 in a line the first week I was there, and, 5 in a cluster the last week I was there...before they drug me back to Baghdad kicking and screaming. I liked it there.

4. I spent another month and a half in Basrah, and, we had from 1 to 40 Mortars and Rockets a day, right at the beginning of the Battle that Michael Yon immortalized in "Men of Valor." Again, they drub me back to Baghdad, kicking and screaming...I liked it there.

5. These guys at the "Long War Journal" haven't a clue. They've never been to Baghdad, they only know that Basrah is North of Kuwait, and, couldn't begin to tell anyone where Al Hillah is (in the Shadow of Babylon).

My Armor had taken such a set from never being worn, that I traded it in yesterday for a new, better, lighter version, and, I haven't worn it that much since I got it. Fact is, I haven't had it on today because there were no Alarms, and, no incoming rounds all day (it's 20:35 now). However, I was out during the worst of the Barrage, fighting to bring Equipment back online (successfully) to minimize some of the worst of the damage.

What irritates me is that with the Medias (and our own State Departments) help, they're winning the Information War. Why? Because we're not allowed to release anything that looks good for our side. It appears that the only thing Americans need to know is the "Body Count," and, how many Mortars and Rockets hit wherever today, or, this week, or, this month. Few people know about the acts of Bravery that happen everyday because of a mindset in our leadership that believes, "We don't need another Ernie Pyle, and, certainly not a 'Willy and Joe.'"

They're wrong.

4/01/2008 10:53:00 AM  
Blogger PeterBoston said...

gordon

Salute.

We're trying, as feeble as the effort may be.

I honestly believe that the best hope for America is the infusion of our military veterans back into civilian life. God knows the country needs the real life experiences if not the testosterone.

4/01/2008 11:01:00 AM  
Blogger Mətušélaḥ said...

Gord,

So what do you do all day long?

4/01/2008 11:06:00 AM  
Blogger RattlerGator said...

I think what is most giving me comfort is the clear and present desperation of "coyotl"

I mean, it is truly something to behold. Copying and pasting entire articles from the blame America first crowd -- that ought to do it!

The Iranians are a worthy adversary, especially when it comes to creating relatively minor mayhem that horrifies a people back stateside who can't seem to comprehend dogfighting. Damn whether you approve of it or not, comprehending it is something else entirely.

I wish more Americans, especially white Americans, better understood this dynamic.

Yes, the Iranians are going to have their hand in Iraq and the affairs of Iraq going forward. As do the Russians and Chinese with respect to American affairs.

Big deal.

They can't stop this train. Only the political process in the U.S. of A. can do that.

4/01/2008 11:59:00 AM  
Blogger NahnCee said...

What irritates me is that with the Medias (and our own State Departments) help, they're winning the Information War. Why? Because we're not allowed to release anything that looks good for our side.

Grayhawk on Mudville Gazette has been lamenting the "Golden Age of Milblogs". Evidently, soldiers aren't as into blogging their Iraqi experiences while they're there as they were a couple of years ago.

My impression is that the various services have cracked down a little bit on what's allowed to be posted, but there have been no "thou shalt not" orders issued that I'm aware of.

Too bad. Some of the writing on those milblogs was remarkable. Not to mention informative.

4/01/2008 12:12:00 PM  
Blogger Yashmak said...

"When is freedom of the press, freedom to lie and dissemble."

Always! Look at the broadsheets during the revolution. Normally we don't see or hear of the Tory writings during the revolution.

Absolutely. It has been, in many periods, WORSE than it is now. It might surprise you to know that the media has gone so far in the past, as to actually call a Presidential candidate's (I believe it was Andrew Jackson, actually) wife a whore, during the campaign.

4/01/2008 12:39:00 PM  
Blogger Marcus Aurelius said...

Gordon,

I think you mean Small Wars Journal.

4/01/2008 12:57:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

Ceasefires In Iraq Go Through Iran's Quds Force
It should not go unnoticed that Iranian Quds Force commander Brigadier General Qassem Suleimani issued the cease-fire to the Mahdi Army. The backdrop to Sadr’s dramatic statement was a secret trip Friday by Iraqi lawmakers to Qom, Iran’s holy city...

4/01/2008 01:49:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

McClatchy: Iranian general played key role in Iraq cease-fire

The Weekly Standard: General Panic

ThreatsWatch.Org: PrincipalAnalysis: Dangerous Liaisons

ThreatsWatch.Org: PrincipalAnalysis: Qods Force, Karbala and the Language of War

The Long War Journal: Home

The Weekly Standard: Qods Force Pulls Sadr's Strings

Carnegie Council: The Shia Revival: How Conflicts within Islam Will Shape the Future

AP: Al-Sadr Trumps in Latest Showdown

4/01/2008 01:54:00 PM  
Blogger Ash said...

Yes Doug, it is interesting that Malki's negotiators went to Iran to meet with Sadr.

Wretchard wrote:

"Roggio continues to emphasize that Sadr's forces have taken heavy casualties, and more to the point is low on ammunition. He surveys the action not only in Basra, but in Baghdad and Nasiriyah and notes that the fightint has died down. One characteristic of militia forces is that they are not configured for sustained combat. They fight with ready-use ammo and some caches."

which is contradicted by this from the atimes:

"Muqtada's fight puts US to flight
By Gareth Porter

WASHINGTON - As it became clear last week that "Operation Knights Assault" in Basra in south Iraq was in serious trouble, the George W Bush administration began to claim in off-the-record statements to journalists that Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki had launched the operation without consulting Washington.

The effort to disclaim US responsibility for the operation in which government forces battled with the Shi'ite - Mahdi Army - militias is an indication that it was viewed as a major embarrassment just as top commander General David Petraeus and ambassador Ryan Crocker are about to testify before Congress.

Behind this furious backpedaling is a major Bush administration miscalculation about Muqtada and his Mahdi Army, which the administration believed was no longer capable of a coordinated



military operation. It is now apparent that Muqtada and the Mahdi Army were holding back because they were in the process of retraining and reorganization, not because Muqtada had given up the military option or had lost control of the Mahdi Army.

snip

"Petraeus, meanwhile, was convinced that the ability of the Mahdi Army to resist had been reduced by US military actions as well as by its presumed internal disorganization. His spokesman, Rear Admiral Gregory Smith, declared in early November, "As we've gone after that training skill levels amongst the enemy, we've degraded their capability..."

Then came Muqtada's announcement on February 22 that the ceasefire would be extended. That apparently convinced Petraeus and the Bush White House that they could now launch a large-scale "cordon and search" operation against the Mahdi Army in Basra without great risk of a military response.

That assumption ignored the evidence that Muqtada had been avoiding major combat because he was reorganizing and rebuilding the Mahdi Army into a more effective force. Thousands of Mahdi Army fighters, including top commanders, were sent to Iran for training - not as "rogue elements", as suggested by the US command, but with Muqtada's full support. One veteran Mahdi Army fighter who had undergone such training told The Independent last April that the retraining was "part of a new strategy. We know we are against a strong enemy and we must learn proper methods and techniques."

Last week, a Mahdi Army commander in Sadr City in Baghdad was quoted by The Canadian Press as saying, "We are now better organized, have better weapons, command centers and easy access to logistical and financial support."

The ability of Mahdi Army units in Basra to stop in its tracks the biggest operation mounted against it since 2004 suggests that Shi'ite military resistance to the occupation is only beginning. Through the strength of the Mahdi Army's response just before Petraeus' testimony, Muqtada has posed a major challenge to the Bush narrative of military success in Iraq. "

http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Middle_East/JD02Ak02.html

Do so many of you really think this Basra/Sadr Militia thing was a success??

4/01/2008 01:55:00 PM  
Blogger PeterBoston said...

yashmak

It's not that the press was more rabid towards particular politicians in days gone by that invites the comparison. Today's media target is the whole enchilada of traditional values from freedom of speech (ironic, no?) to the desire to defend and protect one's family from imminent harm.

Reason itself has given way to scientifism or some other nonsense term. If something can't be measured or quantified then it's OK to kill it, and for goodness sake don't believe anything without the requisite consensus in place. Pretty soon imagination, like certain speech, will become a crime.

4/01/2008 01:56:00 PM  
Blogger Fred said...

Wretchard, et al,

I'm curious about another possible perspective for the British strategy in Southern Iraq. Could it have been driven by domestic political considerations? There is tremendous political opposition to the war in the U.K. And that means very, very little tolerance for casualties from a very unpopular war. There were also stories about how at times the British army was not well-equipped and had ammunition shortages. Perhaps this also reflected the domestic political situation?

All of which feeds into the formulation of a low-risk, low-exposure strategy for dealing with their role in the occupation. So, they kept a low profile until 10 Downing Street and Parliament demanded that they skeedaddle from Southern Iraq.

And we got stuck with holding the bag and perhaps paying the price?

4/01/2008 02:00:00 PM  
Blogger faulkner said...

Putnam,

I can't help you with pictures of "all those cars", but perhaps you'll allow Maliki to paint you a mental picture. Here's the link to the London Times piece in which he proclaims victory and then says and now, could you militiamen on the losing side please return our vehicles!:

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/iraq/article3661892.ece

4/01/2008 09:22:00 PM  
Blogger faulkner said...

sorry the link on my previous post got cut off. Where it stops at arti, it should instead say:

article3661892.ece

Or you can just go to the London Times site to find the article.

4/01/2008 09:23:00 PM  
Blogger faulkner said...

>…571 Mahdi Army fighters have been killed, 881 have been wounded, 490 have been captured, and 30 have surrendered over the course of seven days of fighting.

>Those are horrendous casualties for an irregular force.

PeterBoston,

Those WOULD be horrendous casualty figures, if there were any reason to believe them. The figures obtained at hospitals do not bear them out, nor does any independent evidence. We have seen photos of large units of Iraqi police surrendering. The Iraqi media have published reports of Iraqi police in Sadr City publically handing over their weapons to the Mahdi, saying they should not be used against other Iraqis, and being given Korans in return.

Against these verifiable facts, you post figures put out by the Maliki government itself.

The problem with what you're saying is that no one in the Iraqi parliament is saying these things. Instead, the coalition partners of Maliki laughed at him and went behind his back to Iran.

4/01/2008 09:27:00 PM  
Blogger davod said...

Where are these verifiable facts?

4/02/2008 12:55:00 AM  
Blogger Wadeusaf said...

The press date purported times (UK) online exclusive Of Malaki pleading for his 50 vehicles was April ONE. Darn'd fool kids anyway. They're testing their loyal readers sense of humor, and have come up lacking.

Just a note, The casualty figures were from March 30, updated on the 31st.

4/02/2008 03:36:00 PM  

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