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Mar 30, 2008

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David Wharton

As I was driving in to the office for some dull report-writing today, NPR was reporting that things were going "very badly" for the Iraqi government forces, and that President al-Maliki had been "forced to admit" that he had badly miscalculated and underestimated al-Sadr.

What a pleasant surprise, then, to read just hours later that al-Sadr is suing for peace.

A miraculous turn of events! Or maybe NPR needs some better sources for its battle reporting.

Ed Cone

The presumptive success of the operation does not necessarily mean that it unfolded according to Maliki's expectations, DW.

Also, portraying this in simple Government vs. Sadr terms misses the complexity of the situation.

That said, our interests are better served by a relatively less hostile Shia-led Iraqi federation than by a more hostile Shia theocracy, and to the extent that this may be a move toward the former it counts, in this era of diminished expectations, as a good thing.

David Wharton

The presumptive success of the operation does not necessarily mean that it unfolded according to Maliki's expectations, DW.

Well, yes, but what battle does? Even so, NPR's assertion that the battle was going "very badly" and that al-Maliki "understimated" his enemy seem in retrospect to have been (to quote a famous journalist) "objectively untrue."

Also, portraying this in simple Government vs. Sadr terms misses the complexity of the situation.

Yes. Agreed. We must push for more nuance at NPR.

JorgXMcKie

More nuancy nuance. I mean, really. There's got to be some way to shove more nuance into the highly nuanced reporting of the MSM and NPR. (Well, the Bush is Evil Incarnate meme is probably already nuanced enough, as is the reporting on the hopeless situation in (insert current media hobby horse here). Other than that, our battle cry should be, "More nuance, damnit!!")

Ed Cone

NYT: "The negotiations with Mr. Sadr were seen as a serious blow for Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, who had vowed that he would see the Basra campaign through to a military victory and who has been harshly criticized even within his own coalition for the stalled assault. Last week, Iraq’s defense minister, Abdul Kadir al-Obeidi conceded that the government’s military efforts in Basra have met with far more resistance than was expected. Many Iraqi politicians say that Mr. Maliki’s political capital has been severely depleted by the Basra campaign and that he is now in the curious position of having to turn to Mr. Sadr, a longtime rival, for a way out."

Ed Cone

My post challenged Morrissey's inaccurate assessment of media coverage of the background situation. Now it looks as if the triumphalism about Sadr may have been premature as well. Certainly DW's Instapundit-blessed criticism of the NPR report has been discredited.

Washington Post: "Maj. Gen. Abdul Aziz Mohammad, chief of military operations, acknowledged that Iraq's security forces had miscalculated and were unprepared for the reaction they encountered last week to their offensive in Basra. He told a news conference that the security forces had planned to fight criminal gangs, assassins and murderers who had taken control of the city -- not the well-armed fighters of Mahdi Army."

"Sadr's nine-point statement instructed his Mahdi Army militia to cooperate with government efforts to achieve security, but stopped short of ordering them to turn in weapons to Iraqi security forces, as the government has demanded. Sadr also used the opening of the statement as a rallying cry against occupation forces...In exchange for an end to fighting, Sadr demanded that the government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki release hundreds of detained Sadr followers not proven guilty of crimes...If he succeeds in helping end the clashes, it could improve his standing ahead of provincial elections later this year."

"Abu Mohammed al-Bahadili, a fighter in Baghdad's Hay al-Amil neighborhood [...] interpreted the government's overtures to Sadr as a sign of weakness -- that it is unable to defeat the Mahdi Army."

David Wharton

I hereby declare myself well and truly refuted.

Ed Cone

Unless the next report says something different...

At least you gave Glenn some cover as he backed away from his Morrissey link.

David Wharton

And he didn't even mention my name!

Give him credit for linking to opposing views, though. I thought his link to your post about Glass-Steagall and then the follow-ups was a good example of what's good about blogging.

Dave Ribar

Ed:

One other "loser" in this whole mess was U.S. influence. The tentative deal between al-Sadr and Maliki was negotiated in Qom by the Iranians.

Surely, GWB will now follow up his praise of Maliki's "bold decision" with something along the lines of "Heckuva job Maliki."

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