Saturday, May 10, 2008

Sadr capitulates?

This could be very good news:
Followers of rebel cleric Muqtada al Sadr agreed late Friday to allow Iraqi security forces to enter all of Baghdad's Sadr City and to arrest anyone found with heavy weapons in a surprising capitulation that seemed likely to be hailed as a major victory for Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki. . . .
The agreement would end six weeks of fighting in the vast Shiite Muslim area that's home to more than 2 million residents and would mark the first time that the area would be under government control since Saddam Hussein was toppled in 2003. . . .
It also would be a startling turnaround in fortunes for Maliki, who'd been widely criticized for picking a fight with Sadr's forces, first in the southern port city of Basra and then in Sadr City.
It's very difficult to judge the military and political situation in Baghdad from half a world away based on news reports. But the Mookster is clearly a stooge for the Iranian mullahcrats and has been a bad actor since Day One, and if this signals the beginning of the end of his mischief, then it's a good thing.

On the other hand, I was disturbed by something that Gabriel Malor (a recent law school grad) posted at Ace of Spades HQ. Gabriel was slamming a lefty blogger who did an anti-American rant based on a news story about an Iraqi army order for civilians to evacuate Sadr City. That rant was the basis for Gabriel's argument that concluded:
This is why the Left must lose in November. I'm not asking you to vote for John McCain. I'm asking you to vote against having a Leftist in the White House.
Hold the phone there a minute, son. The study of Latin and logic used to be a prerequisite to law school. Can you say, "non sequitur"?

Are we really sure that the next Democratic president will base his (or her) foreign policy on the views expressed in that lefty blogger's rant? Granted, every Democratic president since at least LBJ has made a disastrous botch of foreign policy, but to draw a logical line from Point A (the lefty blogger's rant) to Point B (Obama's foreign policy) is a bit hasty. It's an error akin to blaming Republicans for every crackpot utterance of Pat Robertson.

Furthermore, Gabriel, leaving aside the mala fides of the lefty blogger (hey, I can sling me some Latin when I need to), do you mean to suggest that the wisdom of the evacuation order is not subject to debate? Let's quote that news story:
Iraqi security forces, after more than of 40 days of intense fighting, on Thursday told residents to evacuate their homes in the northeast Shiite slum of Sadr City and to move to temporary shelters on two soccer fields. . . .
Two soccer fields in east and northeast Baghdad are expected to receive some 16,000 evacuees from the southeast portion of the city where the fighting has been most intense.
Holy smokes! Think about going to a concert or sporting event with a crowd of 16,000. Now, imagine trying to house that entire crowd in tents in a space the size of two soccer fields. Food, water, sanitation -- we're talking a logistical nightmare, just to achieve a minimal level of existence. That might be preferable to leaving the civilians in their homes while the fighting rages, but it's still a drastic measure, and one that would nearly triple the current number of Sadr City refugees.

Somehow, I couldn't help but think of the famous 1864 Hood-Sherman correspondence regarding the latter's order for the evacuation of Atlanta. Most would say that Sherman got the better of the argument, but it certainly didn't endear him to the civilian populace. Here we are, five years into the Iraq war, and if we're still waiting to be greeted as liberators, it seems we'll be waiting a damned long time.

Mass evacuations? A six-week fight for a slum? An Iraqi army that can barely contend with a two-bit punk like Mookie?

Gabriel, if this is your best argument why Americans should stampede to the polls in November to pull the lever for John McCain, you've got problems much worse than the ranting of one left-wing blogger.

UPDATE: An imbed's account of a visit to Sadr City. And Jules Crittenden is cynical about the prospects that Sadr will place nice now.

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