Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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May 25, 2007
By: Kevin Drum

SADR REAPPEARS....Firebrand cleric Muqtada al-Sadr finally emerged from hiding today:

An emotional crowd surged forward and showered Sadr with candies when he arrived at the western gate of Kufa mosque, surrounded by bodyguards, to deliver the midday sermon for the first time in more than four months.

He began by asking his followers to chant three times: "No to injustice. No to Israel. No to America. No to the devils." [Note: Juan Cole translates it as "No, no to evil! No, no to America! No, no to Israel! No, no to Satan! No, no to colonialism!"]

"I renew my request that the occupiers should withdraw or schedule their withdrawal," Sadr said. "The (Iraqi) government should not allow the occupiers to extend their stay in Iraq, not even for one more day."

I'm guessing this is bad news, right?

Kevin Drum 4:10 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (83)

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we told you so....

and so did the state department..


Assessments Made in 2003 Foretold Situation in Iraq - Intelligence Studies List Internal Violence, Terrorist Activity - Wash. Post 5/20/07

Posted by: mr. irony on May 25, 2007 at 4:13 PM | PERMALINK

Bad thing for whom? It is good news for the Commander Guy. It just gives him more talking point ammo.

Posted by: Joe Klein's conscience on May 25, 2007 at 4:13 PM | PERMALINK

Karl Rove says we need to label this guy as "too negative."

There - problem solved!

Posted by: Tripp on May 25, 2007 at 4:24 PM | PERMALINK

But, but, but, this can not be - Why the Prescient One Fred Barnes, said in 2003, after Sadr's papers were shut down, that he would be all through in three days. And, Conspiracy Nut, of old said in late 04, that Sadr and his merry men were toast.

Must check Hume and Barnes and his "All-Loonies" this evening - Barnes, just like Mrs O'Hara will know what to do.

Posted by: thethirdPaul on May 25, 2007 at 4:27 PM | PERMALINK

It's excellent news for the Republicans. Sadr provides the perfect foil and vindicates the strategy of victory.

Of course, his absence is also excellent news for the Republicans, because it shows that the strategy of victory is working.

So you see, the only practical effect is to expose the America-hating biases of shrill bloggers and the librul media generally.

It all fits, don't you see? How can you be so blind?

Posted by: bleh on May 25, 2007 at 4:34 PM | PERMALINK

bad news? I don't know, didn't bush say we are there at the invitation of a sovereign government, and if they ask us to leave we will? al-Sadr has quite a bit of leverage, maybe he will tip parliament into asking us to leave. wouldn't that be awful...

Posted by: supersaurus on May 25, 2007 at 4:39 PM | PERMALINK

mr. irony,
Hell, we TOLD you so back in 1999; when we said (about Candidate Bush) "let's not elect an oil company CEO. We'll be at war in the middle east within 3 years."

Posted by: osama_been_forgotten on May 25, 2007 at 4:46 PM | PERMALINK

I'm guessing this is bad news, right?

For Sadr, it is bad news. Sadr wouldn't come out if he didn't have to. He would prefer to let his militias do the dirty work for him and then he would come out after American troops have left so that he could claim victory. But Sadr knows he's losing right now because of the Surge. So he needs to reappear now to boost the morale of the terrorists working for in the militias because they know they're losing to the military forces of the Americans and the Iraqi government. So it's good news for us indeed.

Posted by: Al on May 25, 2007 at 4:47 PM | PERMALINK

Bad news? For whom?

For us it's probably not just bad, but final. Steve Gilliard said months ago that the US was in Iraq only as long as Moqtada al-Sadr wanted us there. When Moqtada went to Iran I thought Steve was wrong. But he wasn't, just a bit ahead of time.

Moqtada has observed Iraq from a safe distance for four months now. He has undoubtedly come to an accommodation with al-Sistani during that time. Now as the Mahdi Army divides Baghdad along sectarian lines, and their political brethren move in on the government it's safe for Moqtada to return and take up where he left off: dominating Iraqi politics, avenging his father's and brothers' deaths and making Baghdad too hot for Americans, their allies and most (?all) Sunnis.

The foolish stubbornness of the Republicans and the spineless timidity of the Democrats is moot. Moqtada, the Mahdi Army, and the Iranian mullahs will be taking names and killing enemies all this long, hot summer. The only question on American troops is how many will get caught in the crossfire before we get out.

Pretty good news for Moqtada and his homies on the streets of Baghdad.

Posted by: clio on May 25, 2007 at 4:48 PM | PERMALINK

Commander Guy said we'd withdraw if they asked us to, so write your Iraqi congressman!

What will our congress do if thousands of letters from the US start pouring into Baghdad begging them to make us stop?

Posted by: cld on May 25, 2007 at 4:51 PM | PERMALINK

clio: there's no evidence that Sadr ever went to Iran, after all, as Juan Cole has long pointed out, his main rhetorical advantage over his Shiite rivals was that they fled and he stayed, and he's also played the nationalist card (claiming that Hakim and SCIRI are Iranian puppets). It's likely that he was hiding in southern Iraq (near Kufa) all along, and that the claim that he went to Iran was put out by his rivals to discredit him.

Posted by: Joe Buck on May 25, 2007 at 5:04 PM | PERMALINK

"Commander Guy said we'd withdraw if they asked us to, so write your Iraqi congressman!

What will our congress do if thousands of letters from the US start pouring into Baghdad begging them to make us stop?"

What an extremely intriguing idea...

Posted by: An Anonymous American Patriot on May 25, 2007 at 5:12 PM | PERMALINK

PLEASE please, Iraq parliament, ask our troops to leave.

Posted by: ml on May 25, 2007 at 5:25 PM | PERMALINK

Oh, he said he was Al Qaeda
Hanging from a glass of vial-tree
He told me that he killed littles
And then thought that with me I ought belong to he
My name is Mrs Sadr
And I do impressions
He has the basic impression
Every male is his wife and woman his concubine
So if you've missed your Washington Monthly
Don't let it return again by help by a friend

Posted by: he talks with pumpkins on May 25, 2007 at 5:32 PM | PERMALINK

...no evidence that Sadr ever went to Iran

Conceded. Don't think it matters too much except as it cements his followers loyalty. He's been absent from his mosque observing and planing, not directly acting, for several months.

Now he's back, preaching in his shroud which means he won't back down and readying his people. He's obviously prepared for definitive action. He's far more in touch with the Iraqi street than we can ever be, and his personal and family history give him immense grassroots power. Also he and his followers have been lying back resting and regrouping.

We have begun a new strategy, but we are doing it with a tired army and a war weary populace. Moqtada, his army and most Iraqis see this as a struggle for survival and freedom, and they're not going away. We don't see it that way, and the option to leave is a constant temptation.

In addition, I believe that the administration has decided on a "strong man" solution, and Moqtada's the man of the hour. He could still overreach or miscalculate, but right now I'd say he riding a flood tide.

Posted by: clio on May 25, 2007 at 5:32 PM | PERMALINK

on cld, same reaction as AAAP, intriguing.

But worth remembering that, even as Sadr's militias continue defining Shia territory through cleansing in and around Baghdad, the majority of Iraqis, whether Shia or Sunni (do the Kurds really care either way?), want the US out and he is not the only one calling for a timetable for withdrawal.

So in that sense the peoples of the US and Iraq are aligned. Only the preznit, Maliki and some politicians are getting in the way.

Posted by: notthere on May 25, 2007 at 5:34 PM | PERMALINK

Is their some journalistic rule that says that every time as-Sadr is mentioned the word "firebrand" should be used?

Posted by: ~~~~ on May 25, 2007 at 5:34 PM | PERMALINK

"What will our congress do if thousands of letters from the US start pouring into Baghdad begging them to make us stop?"

That idea is not only intriguing, it is awesome!! Who can get this going?!

Posted by: Captain on May 25, 2007 at 5:36 PM | PERMALINK

I'm guessing this is bad news, right?

Why? Did anybody in the anti-war factions consider it good news that he was hiding out?

Posted by: harry on May 25, 2007 at 5:59 PM | PERMALINK
I'm guessing this is bad news, right?

In what sense is this bad news? If nothing else, Sadr is asserting control of the Mahdi Army and working to enforce his orders that the Mahdi Army not attack American troops. Is less attacks on Americans "bad news"?

Posted by: cmdicely on May 25, 2007 at 6:11 PM | PERMALINK

Captain >"That idea is not only intriguing, it is awesome!! Who can get this going?!"

Uhhh, of course that would be "We the people..."

“Once you start a project, amazing people start to join” - Major Nate Allen (U.S. Army)

Posted by: daCascadian on May 25, 2007 at 6:19 PM | PERMALINK
[This comment posted by a Troll]

Great. This blog is moderated by Captain Friggin' Obvious.

Even if you'd never seen a post from mhr before, reading that post—which was left intact with the editorial note—made that clear.

Posted by: cmdicely on May 25, 2007 at 6:39 PM | PERMALINK

We have to do what's right for America, regardless of whether or not our country's direction coincides with Mookie Al Sadr's goals.

Many US generals agree with Mookie that America should leave Iraq, although the generals probably don't agree with Mookie's characterization of America as "evil." Remember, America is not at war with Iraqi political and sectarian factions -- we're at war with terrorism.

Let Mookie bloviate from his hideout as much as he wants. Why's he in hiding, anyway? Looks like he's afraid of Iraq's sectarian factions, too.

Posted by: pj in jesusland on May 25, 2007 at 6:43 PM | PERMALINK

Good news, bad news, how does one tell? All I know is that the generals were against the "surge", the American people are in favor of a scheduled withdrawal, and Sadr wants us out, too. They must all hate America.

Posted by: jrw on May 25, 2007 at 6:49 PM | PERMALINK

"Great. This blog is moderated by Captain Friggin' Obvious."

I dunno ... I kind of like this approach, since it might make people think twice before answering.

Posted by: PaulB on May 25, 2007 at 7:02 PM | PERMALINK

Is their some journalistic rule that says that every time as-Sadr is mentioned the word "firebrand" should be used?

Not quite, but almost - journalists are free to substitute "radical" or "anti-American" for the word "firebrand," as their independent professional judgment dictates.

Posted by: rod on May 25, 2007 at 7:11 PM | PERMALINK

I'm thinking the Iraqi "government" will never ask us to leave. Each legislator who signs on to such impertinence will be disappeared; most probably by Cheney's men.

Posted by: Rula Lenska on May 25, 2007 at 7:11 PM | PERMALINK

As I think about it, it seems that the names and addresses of individual members are probably semi-confidential, and, in any event, they're not as important as their party affiliation.

So perhaps the best approach would be in the form of a petition, a large and ostentatious object, presented to the parliament as a whole.

MoveOn would be good for this. A large and ostentatious petition roll in downtown squares across America to be sent to Baghdad.

Since Washington is apparently impervious to Democracy.

Posted by: cld on May 25, 2007 at 7:13 PM | PERMALINK

And it leaves the nuttery intact for posterity. "Just look what we have to deal with! Children, this is why you must stay in school and develop good study habits, lest you end up like (fill in the name of the troll.)"

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on May 25, 2007 at 7:14 PM | PERMALINK

Re: Moqtada
Think of it as his signing statement on the recently passed Supplemental.

Posted by: RickG on May 25, 2007 at 7:18 PM | PERMALINK

[This comment posted by Bob]

I dunno ... I kind of like this approach, since it might make people think twice before answering.

I guess. But what is more telling is that "Al" didn't get booted back when other trolls like American Pox were getting booted. And he posts things just as trollish as mhr, without getting the Troll label.

Why? It's got to be that "Al" is the pseudonym for some regular poster here who is having fun playing wingnut. And the moderators can tell it's the same person, so they don't remove or annotate the posts.

Posted by: bob on May 25, 2007 at 7:36 PM | PERMALINK

Al: "Sadr knows he's losing right now because of the Surge."

Wow, it's so effective, it even gets a capital letter! Must really be working, huh? You're just a cockeyed optimist, it seems.

mhr, go fuck yourself--but quietly please.

Posted by: Kenji on May 25, 2007 at 8:19 PM | PERMALINK

Can you imagine how much of OUR(not theirs because they dont pay taxes when corporate welfare is considered) money the Bush Crime Family will throw at the Iraqi parliament to preclude a request for our withdrawal? The only people the BCF wont give money to are working Americans. We exist only to serve.

Posted by: Michael7843853 G-O in 08! on May 25, 2007 at 8:29 PM | PERMALINK

That Sadr (Sistani) is asking for timetables and withdrawal likely means he thinks he gains political advantage and differentiation from Maliki & Hakim (Dawa and the party formerly known as Sciri). I don't think Sadr would actually have a working majority if the Americans withdrew, but Gilliard thought so, and perhaps the politics would become impossible because no one has a majority in the Shia community. But I don't think Malki & Hakim want us out for now.

Posted by: bob mcmanus on May 25, 2007 at 9:07 PM | PERMALINK

White House directive on how they plan to maintain governmental continuity should Congress have some kind of accident.

I suppose it's reasonable. If the capitol gets blown up, the pentagon will probably get blown up too, and the Republicans will have Blackwater to help with damage control.

Posted by: cld on May 25, 2007 at 9:36 PM | PERMALINK

Sadr Reappears!

And for his Next Trick! Watch this car Explode!

Posted by: absent observer on May 25, 2007 at 9:38 PM | PERMALINK

Look on the bright side, Kevin! According to the LA Times, the crowd threw flowers and candy at him.

Posted by: Bruce Moomaw on May 25, 2007 at 10:37 PM | PERMALINK

Many have been asking for the Iraqis to step up and take political responsibility for their country. I think al-Sadr is doing that. Al-Sadr has been the most recognizably natural patriotic political leader of the Iraqi majority Shiites. The problem for those who keep saying the Iraqis have to take control of their own country is they do not want to really relinquish control of it. Those who claim to want the Iraqis to control their own country really want an Iraqi puppet to do what is in the US' best interests. Al-Sadr is not that kind of patriot.

Posted by: Brojo on May 25, 2007 at 11:05 PM | PERMALINK

I have a question. Sadr has called for Sunnis to cooperate with him and other Shi'ites in working to end the American occupation. But has he instructed his representatives in the parliament to cooperate with Sunni representatives to ammend their constitution or get a deal on oil? It would seem to me that those are the overtures to Sunnis that would be effective for him. Without that, or other recognitions of Sunni political needs, his call would seem to be pretty empty.

Posted by: MatthewRmarler on May 25, 2007 at 11:22 PM | PERMALINK

Al-Sadr doesn't need an oil deal to become the leader of Iraq. Exxon needs the oil deal and Bush is holding the people of Iraq hostage to have it made law. I hope al-Sadr appeals to the Sunnis and some kind of agreement can be reached to create an independent Iraq free of US control.

Posted by: Brojo on May 25, 2007 at 11:34 PM | PERMALINK

Actually, I'm kind of interested in this "oh-so sophisticated" thing that the conservatives are doing these days. Sean Hannity played the same meme with Chris Hitchens on his show this week: "You obviously think you're the smartest guy in the room." Now, to me, this seems like a really bad rhetorical move - you don't want to call attention to the fact that the other guy seems a lot smarter than you are. But maybe it plays differently to others?

Posted by: mattsteinglass on May 25, 2007 at 11:46 PM | PERMALINK

Well, he does oppose SIIC (the Party Formerly Known as SCIRI)and Hakim's plan for the creation of the southern regional federation- which would , conveniently for Hakim, leave Sadr City in with the Sunnis

Posted by: MikeN on May 25, 2007 at 11:51 PM | PERMALINK

Brojo: I hope al-Sadr appeals to the Sunnis and some kind of agreement can be reached to create an independent Iraq free of US control.

Why should the Sunnis cooperate with al Sadr if he does not recognize their political and economic needs and promist to do somethin in their interest. For all they know, permanent U.S. occupation might be preferable to a Sadr-led dictatorship? (presuming for now that Sunni leaders think that's what he is aiming for.)

Posted by: MatthewRmarler on May 25, 2007 at 11:57 PM | PERMALINK

It would seem to me that those are the overtures to Sunnis that would be effective for him. Without that, or other recognitions of Sunni political needs, his call would seem to be pretty empty.

The Shiites outnumber the Sunni by a substantial margin. If American forces pull out, why should Sadr care what the Sunni think? And if American forces pull out, why should Sadr care at all about the Iraqi parliament in its present form? The current government will change, gradually or suddenly, into something that is Shiite-controlled and aligned with Iran.

It doesn't matter whether we withdraw this year or next or five years from now, all we're doing there is sacrificing American lives to postpone a civil war. And to help George Bush avoid having his approval numbers hit the single digits.

Posted by: bob on May 26, 2007 at 12:00 AM | PERMALINK

Al-Sadr does not want to become a dictator like Saddam or the US.

Posted by: Brojo on May 26, 2007 at 12:13 AM | PERMALINK

"Why? It's got to be that "Al" is the pseudonym for some regular poster here who is having fun playing wingnut. And the moderators can tell it's the same person, so they don't remove or annotate the posts."

-Well, more likely it's that Al, or "Al" posts once, Maybe twice (rarely) & tho he repeats RNC talking points almost to the letter, he doesn't stray from topic or start long arguments or aggressively try to steer the thread off topic or disrupt it. Because of this, I hardly think of him as a troll anymore. He (or someone under that name) has also been posting here for a long time.

Posted by: URK on May 26, 2007 at 12:41 AM | PERMALINK

"If American forces pull out, why should Sadr care what the Sunni think?"

Sadr has good reason to care about what the Sunnis think. He represents an anti-Iran minority within the Shia community. If he only tries to gain support within the Shia community, he will not be able to control Iraq. Instead, SIIC (formerly SCIRI) will gain control of Iraq. If he combines his Shia base with Sunni nationalists, he might have enough support to counter SIIC. In such a case, we would see a government that is both anti-America and anti-Iran. He seems to be adjusting to his situation shrewdly. I'm not sure why the Sunnis would want to join with him. But they may not have much of a choice. They certainly wouldn't be helped by SIIC.

Posted by: fostert on May 26, 2007 at 12:43 AM | PERMALINK

I have to agree with URK about Al. He strikes onces and runs away before he gets abused. Hardly a troll. Also, I think Al posts some of the funniest comments on this thread. I have never been able to read one of his comments without bursting out in laughter. I doubt he means his comments in that way, but that's the effect. I would miss him if he were censored.

Posted by: fostert on May 26, 2007 at 12:49 AM | PERMALINK

I agree, fostert. His attempts at political discourse are roughly the equivalent of the Wild and Crazy Czech Brothers' attempts at English: endearing for the effort, no matter how far in over their heads they are.

Posted by: Kenji on May 26, 2007 at 1:17 AM | PERMALINK

[this comment was posted by a smartass]

mattsteinglass at 11:46 PM:
Now, to me, this seems like a really bad rhetorical move - you don't want to call attention to the fact that the other guy seems a lot smarter than you are. But maybe it plays differently to others?

That's right, mister SmartGlass. Us 'murkins don't like them smart people.

Posted by: thersites on May 26, 2007 at 1:27 AM | PERMALINK

...Wild and Crazy Czech Brothers...

Actually, they're Slovak Brothers, since they're apparently from Bratislava. Czechoslovak, perhaps?

Posted by: phleabo on May 26, 2007 at 1:52 AM | PERMALINK

I think al-Sadr is the natural political leader of Iraq because he represents the aspirations of the common Shiite. Religious piety, Iraqi (or whatever the urban national identity the Shiite's of Baghdad call themselves) nationalsim, a vocal leader of anti-American occupation, and a link to the vast heritage of culture that the people associate with themelves is what he appeals to. He is not timid with his opinions, which probably resonates with many Iraqis, both Shiite and Sunni. He is cautious, being captured or assassinatd by the US is not desirable, and is why he probably had to go into hiding during the escalation of US aggression. It is possible he could become a bad guy. Many people do. So far, he has not been any worse than any other actor in Iraq and perhaps one of the most reticent to use his power.

Posted by: Brojo on May 26, 2007 at 2:25 AM | PERMALINK

It is possible he could become a bad guy.

His henchmen killed Imam Abdul Majid al-Khoei. His army has run torture chambers far worse than Abu Ghraib and every bit as ugly as Saddam's. His henchmen have conducted sectarian killings to equal those of the Baathists and Al Qaeda. He's a coward who runs away and hides when he feels threatened. He is a bad guy. Saying he hasn't been any worse than the others is damning with faint praise.

...perhaps one of the most reticent to use his power.

He tried with his uprising in 2004. Remember? He made his big play using force. Thankfully we squashed his minions like a bug. When we did, we found torture chambers in Najaf. Nice guy.

He's a religious fundie that makes the Christian right look like Vegas strippers. Women are treated like 2nd class citizens. Etc.

In a sea of bad guys, he is one of the worst.

Posted by: anonymous on May 26, 2007 at 7:11 AM | PERMALINK

At the news conference Thursday the preening and inexplicably proud Bush blathered "We are there at the invitation of the Iraqi government. This is a sovereign nation. Twelve million people went to the polls to approve a constitution. It's their government's choice. If they were to say, leave, we would leave."
(The nerve of him to say "at their invitation."
More revisionist history from the decider-in-chief)

Previously over 65% of citizens in Iraq indicated they wanted the US out of their country.
Members of the Iraq parliament already signed a draft bill calling for a timetable for the withdrawal of our occupying troops.

Radical Shiite cleric Sadr adds a voice to it.

Posted by: consider wisely on May 26, 2007 at 9:06 AM | PERMALINK

"If they were to say, leave, we would leave."

That is as long as we considered them *legitimate* and they continue to exist. I wouldn't be surprised that the next thing to happen is the collapse of the government along with the failure for them to meet our "benchmarks". If the collapse resulted in a strongman that was aligned with us (Allawi?), then we'll stay. If the collapse resulted in a rebel (Sadr?) asking us to leave, then we will deem that as illegitimate since they were not elected, and we also will "stay". The only hope of them asking us to leave and for us to do so is for the entire Parliament to vote for that and for Maliki to sign or approve it. Wonder when the next elections are coming up there...

Posted by: Doc at the Radar Station on May 26, 2007 at 10:24 AM | PERMALINK

*pssst! hey buddy, wanna see an interesting coincidence?*

Check out these two maps.

This one shows the red state/blue state distribution for the 2000 election.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:ElectoralCollege2000-Large-BushRed-GoreBlue.png

This one shows the price of gas throught the country today.

http://www.californiagasprices.com/Price_By_County.aspx?state=CA&c=usa

pretty neat huh?

Posted by: Shhhh! on May 26, 2007 at 10:45 AM | PERMALINK

anonymous, you are going to have to do more than parrot Gen. Patreus and Israeli talking points to convince me, and millions of Iraqis, al-Sadr is any worse than Blackwater's boys or the American leadership. W. Bush has not reached out to his adversaries like al-Sadr did yesterday, nor have any others from the pro-war camp. It is because they want more war and want to continue the policies that have divided the fractious Iraqis.

It is true all factions in Iraq have committed atrocities like torture and the killing of innocents for their political or religious affiliation. The Shiites have long suffered more than any other group from such crimes, and although I wish they would not commit them, if any group in Iraq has a reason to retaliate in kind, it is the Shiites. The Americans absolutely cannot make such a rationalization for their survival, and the war crimes they commit are unjustifiable.

Posted by: Brojo on May 26, 2007 at 11:12 AM | PERMALINK

"Why? It's got to be that "Al" is the pseudonym for some regular poster here who is having fun playing wingnut. And the moderators can tell it's the same person, so they don't remove or annotate the posts."

That's certainly possible. There actually used to be a real "Al" who posted here a couple of years ago. The last time I saw him was over at the TAPPED blog. He gave up posting here some time ago because he was regularly getting spoofed and parodied -- and so effectively that nobody could tell which was the real "Al" and which was the fake. The "always check the link" phrase originated with the real "Al".

The parody has pretty much settled into a routine now -- one post only and always near the top of the thread, presumably because the originator has an RSS feed.

I had always assumed that the parody "Al" gets a pass for three reasons: 1) the parody is so over-the-top that there is never any doubt that it is a parody, 2) the parody posts are generally pretty close to being on-topic, and 3) you don't get the repeated responses and thread derailing that used to typify American Hawk's activities here. Given Kevin's reluctance to moderate and/or censor and it's easy to see why "Al" is left alone.

Posted by: PaulB on May 26, 2007 at 11:15 AM | PERMALINK

This is too good!

From Andrew Sullivan, via tpm, Republicans get 'enhanced interrogation techniques' from the Gestapo.

Posted by: cld on May 26, 2007 at 11:17 AM | PERMALINK

You know they didn't just pick that term out of thin air.

It's not just a coincidence.

Posted by: cld on May 26, 2007 at 11:19 AM | PERMALINK

W. Bush has not reached out to his adversaries like al-Sadr did yesterday...

We've been negotiating with Sunni insurgents for quite some time. See recent events in Anbar, where they've temporarily agreed not to try and kill us while they focus on a common enemy. If I were Sadr, that would make me a bit nervous to see us getting cozy at all with the Sunnis.

We've committed torture and done bad things. As humans we are genetically the same as them, and have the same impulses when placed in the same situations. Our system is self-correcting, however. We send guys to jail and change policy. We vote out the pols and scream bloody murder about it, and change things. They don't. I despise people drawing moral equivalence between us and them.

Posted by: anonymous on May 26, 2007 at 11:30 AM | PERMALINK

The Republicans take their conversation from the Nazis.

Do we need to know any more about them?

Do we need to hear any more from them?

Posted by: cld on May 26, 2007 at 11:45 AM | PERMALINK

bob: If American forces pull out, why should Sadr care what the Sunni think? And if American forces pull out, why should Sadr care at all about the Iraqi parliament in its present form?

My question was about whether any deals he made with Sunnis would accelerate their participation with him in ridding the country of the Americans. At the present time, Sunnis in al-Anbar (lots of them, but obviously not all, and maybe not a majority) are wary of what will happen if the Americans pull out.

As to your questions, it depends on whether Sadr intends to govern collegially (i.e. with an elected government or some kind) or as a tyrant. Unlike Ali al-Sistani, he seems more of a tyrant sort, but who knows.

Brojo: I think al-Sadr is the natural political leader of Iraq because he represents the aspirations of the common Shiite.

Apparently, he is the natural leader of a small faction. Whenever his militias attack somewhere, the American and Iraqi counter attacks have substantial support from locals. This happened when his forces attacked Najaf and Nasiriyah (I may have the second city wrong, but there were two) a couple years ago, and it is happening today. Besides those attacks against Shi'ites for whom he was not leader at all, he is suspected in the murder of a Grand Ayatollah that happened in about May or June 2003.

The peaceful leader of a large majority of Shi'ites has been Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, who has encouraged his followers to participate in the elected government, and to shun violence. He has attempted almost no direct exercise of political power, unlike al Sadr who openly receives money and other support from the Persian Mullahs, has supported particular candidates for office, and who has ordered his militias to attack the elected government.

Back to the claim that he is a "natural leader", we ought to give some credit to the people who have actually won the elections. Had he run for parliament and been elected, he might have been eligible for Prime Minister, al Maliki's position. He chose not to run for president either.

Granted that a great deal is unknown, al Sadr appears to be more comfortable attempting to come to power by military means than by electoral means.

Posted by: MatthewRmarler on May 26, 2007 at 12:05 PM | PERMALINK

In a different time and place we would call Al-Sadr "Freedom Fighter", just as we did Osama when he was fighting Russian occupiers and their puppet government in Afghanistan.

Posted by: Tim on May 26, 2007 at 12:42 PM | PERMALINK
Sadr Reappears! And for his Next Trick! Watch this car Explode! absent observer at 9:38 PM
Bush tried to get him, but only bombed some cars waiting in the gasline

An Iraqi man passes next to bombed cars after an attack by U.S. warplanes and helicopter, in the Sadr City district of Baghdad on Saturday, May 26, 2007. The U.S. airstrike hit a gas station causing widespread damage to 10 vehicles killing three people and wounding eight civilians, the police said.

I have a question...MatthewRmarler at 11:22 PM

If you go to Iraq you can ask Muqtada al-Sadr himself.
....In a sea of bad guys, he is one of the worst. anonymous at 7:11 AM

No matter. Bush policies seem almost deliberately designed to empower him.
...al Sadr appears to be ...attempting to come to power by military means ... MatthewRmarler at 12:05 PM

Here's a longer interview scroll down a bit.

Posted by: Mike on May 26, 2007 at 12:48 PM | PERMALINK

I despise people drawing moral equivalence between us and them.

Pro-war Americans are worse than any Iraqis. There is no moral equivalence.

Posted by: Brojo on May 26, 2007 at 1:07 PM | PERMALINK

"According to the LA Times, the crowd threw flowers and candy at him."

Hey! Those were supposed to be OUR flowers and candy!

Bad news/good news. Bad news is he's back. Good news is he might get them to ask us to leave, which, according to the Little Idiot (tm) would be the only thing that would work.

Posted by: Cal Gal on May 26, 2007 at 3:17 PM | PERMALINK

There is no moral equivalence.

All of the Iraqis involved in Iraq's present struggle for national dominance are doing it out of patriotic duty to some national ideal or tribal, clan, or family relationship to the geographic area with a millennial history. Even Saddam, as evil and psychotic as he was, probably was motivated by some Iraqiness.

America's invasion of Iraq has no such existential rationalization as the Iraqis. Weak national security reasons to invade and occupy a country have no moral basis versus the battles the Iraqis are fighting. Neither is seizing natural resource assets. It is convenient for the pro-war Americans that both reasons for invading Iraq dovetail, however the US has no higher moral claim to use violence than any Iraqis.

Posted by: Brojo on May 26, 2007 at 3:47 PM | PERMALINK

Cal Gal: Good news is he might get them to ask us to leave, which, according to the Little Idiot (tm) would be the only thing that would work.

There was a resolution introduced into their parliament calling on the government to negotiate a schedule of withdrawal for the American troops. I didn't read whether the resolution passed. It didn't seem to occur to the parliament to write its own withdrawal schedule into law, but that could come soon.

Posted by: MatthewRmarler on May 26, 2007 at 4:00 PM | PERMALINK

If I were an Iraqi, I'd be right there in the crowd chanting with him. I don't think there is anything "radical" about demanding an end to an unwanted military occupation by a foreign power. If that's what makes you a "firebrand," I guess it doesn't take much to merit the title.

Posted by: chuck on May 26, 2007 at 4:54 PM | PERMALINK

When I think of Middle Eastern radical leaders, I am reminded that a poll from our state department a year and a half ago found 9 out of 10 young Iraqis, both Shia and Sunni, view our country as "an occupying force." I'm reminded those kids lost family members, neighbors, friends, their social comfort level, safe mobility, regular schooling, stability--and that--sadly and profoundly apparent--they are likely to feel traumatized, and ultimately vengeful.

Christopher Dickey wrote that "Enough vendettas have since been launched in Iraq to keep its communities at each other's throats for years. And America's role in spawning them guarantees that memories of the conflict will long outlast our presence on the ground. Iraq's Arab neighbors already fear that many among their vast populations of young people--humiliated by the stagnation of monarchy, dictatorship, occupation and defeat--will seek dignity through violence just as young Iraqis are doing...and they may well create more chaos than the region has seen since the days of Saladin."
Profound.

Posted by: consider wisely on May 26, 2007 at 5:19 PM | PERMALINK


The poetry that appears upthread is so awful that I'm inspired to try it myself.

Some comments on this thread
Fill me with familiar dread
That many a fellow countryman
Actually thinks he understands
Iraq and Muqtada Sadr
And all the cannon fodder
Sunni Shiite and Kurd
A notion pathetically absurd

Posted by: little ole jim from red country on May 26, 2007 at 9:57 PM | PERMALINK

I do not claim to understand the other,
Sadr.

I do know who is paying for the slaughter,
Our honor.

Iraqis crushed into a seething tangle of hate,
Without escape.

Ignominy sticks Akkadian shed blood upon us,
Product of obedience.

Iraq, Oh Iraq your suffering is timeless,
dissatisfy our bloodlust.

Change our national personality,
Forswear hegemony.


Posted by: Brojo on May 27, 2007 at 4:40 AM | PERMALINK


[We already have an anonymous posting regularly Red State Mike. This is handle spoofing]

America's invasion of Iraq has no such existential rationalization as the Iraqis.

I dream of a day when evil dictators such as Saddam are no longer allowed to hide behind lines drawn on maps in order to gas and torture their own people. Removing people such as Saddam is *always* morally justified. Arguing about whether it is practical or whether it was done smartly is another question.

[We already have an anonymous Red State Mike. This is handle spoofing]

Posted by: anonymous on May 27, 2007 at 10:33 AM | PERMALINK

cld wrote:

The Republicans take their conversation from the Nazis.

Do we need to know any more about them?

Do we need to hear any more from them?
_______________________

Isn't this the very essence of ad hominem argument?

Posted by: trashhauler on May 27, 2007 at 11:35 AM | PERMALINK

tim wrote:

"In a different time and place we would call Al-Sadr "Freedom Fighter", just as we did Osama when he was fighting Russian occupiers and their puppet government in Afghanistan."
_______________________

Italy was on our side during WWI, then on the other side in WWII.

We supported Saddam Hussein against Iran, then we kicked him out of Kuwait and eventually removed him from power.

We supported Stalin against the Nazis.

Posted by: trashhauler on May 27, 2007 at 11:45 AM | PERMALINK

The US initiation, planning, and support of Saddam's attack against Iran led to Saddam's invasion of Kuwait.

Posted by: Brojo on May 27, 2007 at 6:33 PM | PERMALINK
...Isn't this the very essence of ad hominem argument? trashhauler at 11:35 AM
All you need do is read recent Giuliani, Bush, Hannity or GOP talk radio stars condemning dissenting opinion if the most vituperative terms. Or you could read David Neiwert's series on Eliminationism in America
We supported Stalin against the Nazis. trash hauler at 11:45 AM
You could add Manuel Antonio Noriega to that list. They were freedom fighters when we loved them and terrorist when we turned on them. That certainly reinforces the point. Posted by: Mike on May 27, 2007 at 8:52 PM | PERMALINK

Removing people such as Saddam is *always* morally justified.

I doubt the writer of the quote above would have advocated for a foreign invasion of the US in 1859 in order to free the slaves from the type of tyranny associated with Saddam's rule.

Posted by: Brojo on May 28, 2007 at 11:41 AM | PERMALINK

Why are we fighting insurgents who have every right to kick us out of their country?

Why aren't we eradicating that country of any Al Qaeda (or Al Qaeda in Iraq) types. We've been told there are less than 1500, so it shouldn't take us long to kill 'em all. Right?

If Bush&Co. don't go after the Al Qaeda types, then it just proves Bush knows Al Qaeda isn't our enemy or Bush is a traitor.

Posted by: MarkH on May 28, 2007 at 1:29 PM | PERMALINK

Can we nix the phrase "Firebrand cleric" Muqtada al-Sadr? It's so overdone. Or give to all the warniks out there like Firebrand VP Cheney or Firebrand President Bush or Firebrand Cleric Dobson.

Posted by: Dr. Wu, the last of the big time thinkers on May 28, 2007 at 5:42 PM | PERMALINK

[Sadr] began by asking his followers to chant three times: "No to injustice. No to Israel. No to America. No to the devils." [Note: Juan Cole translates it as "No, no to evil! No, no to America! No, no to Israel! No, no to Satan! No, no to colonialism!"]

Kinda late to this, and haven't read any of the comments, but....

It never fails. The MSM always neglects to correctly quote any of these "Muslim radicals" whenever they speak about Israel. Like with the Iranian President, who -- when he objects to Europe making the Palestinians pay for European crimes against European Jews by midwifing the colonizing, expropriation and ethnic cleansing of Palestine -- gets misquoted to sound like a Holocaust denying fool, the MSM didn't bother adding Sadr's complaint about colonialism, which contextualizes his complaints about the US and Israel in a way that the West would rather not think about, and leaves Sadr sounding like nothing more than a simpleton.

It's bigoted. And it's disgusting. And it is way past time that the MSM be called out on this crap of misquoting so as to remove legit arguments from the frame of the debate.

Posted by: Disputo on May 29, 2007 at 6:54 PM | PERMALINK

Even NPR called al-Sadr a radical Shiite leader.

Posted by: Brojo on May 29, 2007 at 7:12 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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