2008 March 28 Friday
American Officials Disappointed About Basra Fighthing

The news from Saigon: ARVN is not doing well fighting on its own.

The Iraqi military push into the southern city of Basra is not going as well as American officials had hoped, despite President Bush's high praise for the operation, several U.S. officials said Friday.

A closely held U.S. military intelligence analysis of the fighting in Basra shows that Iraqi security forces control less than a quarter of the city, according to officials in both the United States and Iraq, and Basra's police units are deeply infiltrated by members of radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr's Mehdi Army.

The Shiites who fight for the government in Baghdad are less enthused than the Shiites who fight for control of their neighborhoods in Basra.

What did LBJ say in a TV speech? "The eyes of the world are on Khe Sanh"? Something like that. Bush sees a similar "defining moment".

WASHINGTON — President Bush strongly defended Iraq’s prime minister on Friday at what he called a “defining moment” for the Baghdad government, saying the United States supported its offensive against a Shiite militia and would provide any military assistance that was sought.

But what is this battle defining? Greg Bruno of the Council on Foreign Relations reports the battle for Basra is really a battle between rival Shiite clerics rather than between the central government and a militia that challenges it.

Whether Maliki and his beleaguered government have the clout to quell the strife is far from certain. On March 26, the prime minister gave gunmen seventy-two hours to put down their arms (al-Jazeera) and renounce violence; a spokesman for Sadr says the cleric responded by calling for Maliki and Iraqi forces to leave Basra (AP) immediately. Dozens were killed and hundreds wounded in the initial outbreak of fighting. In the end, though, Maliki may prove a powerless mediator. Angry Shiite demonstrators in Baghdad protested the government's crackdown (NYT). CFR Adjunct Senior Fellow Vali R. Nasr tells CFR.org the true players in the dispute are rival Shiite clerics Abdul Aziz al-Hakim and Sadr. Both control powerful militias, and both command important political blocs in Iraq's evolving power structure. "Maliki is completely irrelevant" in the dispute in the south, Nasr says.

Our leaders would have us believe we are fighting for freedom and against terrorism and tyranny.

Bush thinks the militias in Basra are outlaws.

He told a White House news conference: "Any government that presumes to represent the majority of people must confront criminal elements or people who think they can live outside the law - and that's what's taking place in Basra."

US JDAM smart bombs might allow the glorious heroic nominal representatives of Iraq's central government to win.

US-led forces joined the battle for the first time in the early hours of Friday, with air strikes in Basra and Baghdad.

A US military spokesman in Baghdad, Maj Mark Cheadle, told AP news agency: "As you know, we've been getting attacked and going after the enemy all day."

I think the US and other Western governments should place a higher priority on keeping Muslims out of the West rather than imagine we can successfully back a more Westernized faction in Iraq.

George W. Bush says the outcome in Iraq will merit the sacrifice.

As the American military death toll in Iraq reached 4,000, President Bush conferred yesterday with top U.S. officials in Washington and in Baghdad and vowed in a public statement that the outcome of the war "will merit the sacrifice."

Think about that. Imagine that within a year all the militias stopped fighting and surrendered to the central government in Baghdad. That outcome would not merit the sacrifice. We have lost thousands of soldiers with at least tens of thousands and maybe hundreds of thousands permanently damaged. We will pay a few trillion dollars for it. There's nothing we can gain from it to pay for all that. Iraq was a bad investment.

Share |      By Randall Parker at 2008 March 28 09:24 PM  MidEast Iraq New Regime Failures

Kenelm Digby said at March 29, 2008 6:27 AM:

Yes, all the hot-air we've heard recently about the 'success' of the 'surge' does have the whiff of Vietnam 1972 about it.

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