March 31, 2008


Embarrassed U.S. Starts to Disown Basra Operation (Gareth Porter, Mar 31, 2008, IPS)

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

The effort to disclaim U.S. responsibility for the operation is an indication that it was viewed as a major embarrassment just as top commander Gen. David Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan Crocker are about to testify before Congress.

Behind this furious backpedaling is a major Bush administration miscalculation about Moqtada al-Sadr and the Mahdi Army, which the administration believed was no longer capable of a coordinated military operation. It is now apparent that Sadr and the Mahdi Army were holding back because they were still in the process of retraining and reorganisation, not because Sadr had given up the military option or had lost control of the Mahdi Army.

Nothing wrong with letting the Iraqis make some mistakes as they learn to stand on their own.

Posted by Orrin Judd at March 31, 2008 4:15 PM

I'm sorry, but that piece of reporting is utter bull-pie. The Iraqi Army is gaining control of Basra at a remarkable rate, given the size and demographics of the place. Yeah, the JAM put up a better fight than expected. They also got massacred, ran out of all sorts of supplies, and retreated to their safest 'hoods. The major outstanding question is whether they behave themselves when the Iraqi Army comes calling for their heavy weapons. If not, they have been pre-identified by Sadr himself as renegades and heretics, to be offed on sight. Coordinates, please.

Posted by: ghostcat at March 31, 2008 6:08 PM

Agree with ghostcat - this article is out of sync with all other accounts of the operation.

Posted by: AWW at March 31, 2008 6:46 PM

He's been fingering them for two years and letting us serve as his executioner. SOP has simply been restored after he won.

Posted by: oj at March 31, 2008 7:02 PM

McCain was, typically, honest about it being a Maliki op gone bad. The rightwing press is, typically, confused by events and insisting on a counterfactual. Y'all are, typically, aping that misinformed press.

Posted by: oj at March 31, 2008 7:17 PM

Well, someone is aping a misinformed press . . .

IPS? Really?

Posted by: Jim in Chicago at March 31, 2008 8:00 PM

Typically, only time will tell. We'll know more in a week.

Posted by: Genecis at March 31, 2008 8:00 PM

Note that all parties ... Johnny Mac and W included ... are hanging this on Maliki. Works to Malaki's favor as the dust settles.

Posted by: ghostcat at March 31, 2008 8:21 PM

At this stage in the game, when those of us on the right are about to lose ownership of this Iraq thing, why should any of us care about a testicle-measuring contest between two Shi'a? Our strategic imperative has been fulfilled. Our rationale for continued involvement has been made. We're part of the history of Iraq for the next generation.

When the Left and Right are having a testicle-measuring contest over the relative merits of al-Maliki and Mookie, and when OJ is baiting both, this has become too silly for grown-up analysis.

Posted by: Brad S at March 31, 2008 9:09 PM

What does merit have to do with it? Winners don't necessarily merit winning.

Posted by: oj at March 31, 2008 9:50 PM

Victory never has one father.

Posted by: oj at March 31, 2008 9:51 PM

IPS is just aping McCain.

Posted by: oj at March 31, 2008 9:51 PM

Sorry, but Mookie screwed the pooch here and is headed for the irrelancy he deserves.

Posted by: Mike at March 31, 2008 10:12 PM

Apparently the same Gareth Porter who said there wouldn't be a bloodbath when North Vietnam conquered the South Vietnam, that many victims of the 1968 Hue Massacre were killed by the US, and rejected early reports of Pol Pot's massacres. If your only evidence is a lefty contrarian on, you've got a thin argument.

Posted by: PapayaSF at March 31, 2008 10:46 PM

Yes, if that were the only evidence it would be dubious. As is citing only neocons for the opposing proposition.

The eagerness with which McCain and the Administration confirmed appearances is the best evidence.

When you have to resort to nuance and secret readings you're groping.

Posted by: oj at April 1, 2008 5:42 AM

I have considerable skepticism towards all the big meida names, based on their past perforances, so why should I believe anything by some organization I've never heard of before? And based on their information page, I've got good reason to be skeptical about their agenda.

So it appears the only reason to post this non-story is because it reinforces the prejudices of some people.

Posted by: Raoul Ortega at April 1, 2008 10:17 AM

You shouldn't. You should go right on mouthing what you read at neocon sites. Thought is dangerous. Avoid it.

Posted by: oj at April 1, 2008 12:35 PM