Calling Sadr a coward, while satisfying perhaps, doesn't help bring this important part of the power structure to the table, and it certainly doesn't qualify as diplomatic or a particularly effective insult. No, the only real insult is to the intelligence of everyone who looks at this disaster with any shred of decency or compassion.
For months we've been told the surge is working. For weeks we've been told what a great thing it was for Maliki to move against the Mahdi Army in Basra, even though the results appeared as a stalemate at best. Bush told us it was "a bold decision." He added: "I would say this is a defining moment in the history of a free Iraq." Defining moment indeed, from the boldest and most defining President ever.
Both articles highlight the same thing though, from the CBS piece we get this: An Iraqi reporter for the New York Times, who managed to get into Basra during the fighting, concluded that the thousands of Mahdi Army militiamen that control most of the city remained in charge. "There was nowhere the Mahdi either did not control or could not strike at will," he wrote.
And from McClathcy we get this gem (my bolds):
The Sadrists have angrily accused Maliki's U.S.-backed government of trying to undercut their movement prior to provincial elections in October, when they will likely win many of the Shiite southern provinces from their Shiite rivals in Maliki's government.
[snip] Iraqi government officials have told McClatchy that Maliki, who gained wide support from Sunni officials for taking on the Mahdi Army, went into the fight with no preparation and now is in a battle that he can't extract himself from. U.S. support for Maliki puts U.S. forces on one side of a bloody intra-Shiite showdown.
Yet Rice has come to praise al-Maliki for that choice. And she knows of what she speaks, as she speaks for the Bush Administration, she speaks for the Surge, for Petraeus, for McCain, for Friedman and McConnell and Lieberman and all those who would tell us, for whatever reason, that the Surge is working, that Iraq is ready to stand on their own.
Even though they are fragile and on a knife's edge and refuse to fight and so on. If things were getting better in Iraq, we would be able to withdraw troops. But we aren't, and come October, so it seems, al-Maliki will have been shown the door, if he's lucky, and we will be faced with the choice of initiating another surge (with what and whom and how I can't imagine, really) or seeing the whole Neo-Con raison d'être become a smoking pile of ashes. The latter outcome, while a good thing by itself, could never be worth the cost in American and Iraqi lives that would be lost or changed forever in the process of crushing the Neo's infantile stupidity.
So it remains for the Democrats to do one thing. Don't support Bush's War. Do not give him anything extra, no matter what he says. Because that was the only reason the puppet Nouri al Maliki launched his unplanned excursion in Basra, so that Bush could pressure Congress for more money for Iraq. Given the control the Bushies have over the news from Iraq, by the time the truth would come out of basra, Petraeus and Crocker would have concluded their dog and pony show, and Congress would be expected to give Bush more funding for his surge and the contractors that support it.
Because that, my lonely readers, I can imagine.