Thursday, April 24, 2008

NYT's Charge

When the fight with Sadr began a month ago, I assumed Iraq would win:

Yet the Shia thugs risk much by choosing to violently confront the government. We shall see if this is a spasm or a sustained effort by our Sadrist enemies. Talk of Sadr reversing the gains of the surge are misleading. Yes, if the Sadrists provoke a full conflict, violence will go up. But most of the violence will be government and American forces killing and capturing the Shia thugs.

Two days into the fight, I still didn't see the Sadrists winning but hadn't yet noticed the press consensus that was building. I only really wondered if the Iraqis were serious about knocking Sadr down:

I think the government has the power to take Sadr down and isolate the Iranian-backed forces for a further campaign against these tougher but smaller forces. We shall see if the government and Sadr agree.

Soon after the Iraqi offensive against the forces of Sadr and his Iranian puppeteers began a month ago, I was stunned by the media consensus that immediately concluded that Sadr had won and Maliki had lost:

Remember also the tone of our press the last week. The press had you believe that the Iraqi offensive was stalled, that American air support was an active of desperation, and that the gains of the surge were about to be forfeited. Instead, we ripped the Sadrists a new one.

By March 31, I expressed my puzzlement with the press:

The conventional wisdom all around is that Sadr won this round. I guess I could be persuaded that Maliki has lost this round. But I don't see the evidence of this interpretation. I certainly didn't expect that three years of gangster dominance could be undone with three days of military force. And I didn't expect that the Iranian-supported "Special Groups" would dissolve in three days.Saying Maliki lost is like saying D-Day was a failure because on June 14, 1944, the Third Reich was still standing.

Sadr was bloodied this round. If Maliki continues the campaign to clean up Basra and other areas of the Sadrist influence, this week will just be one battle in a campaign. Obviously, if Maliki gives up, he will lose the campaign and this battle will in retrospect be a defeat.But despite their weaknesses, the Sadrists will always be able to count on our press to speak of their mere survival as great victories over America.

Clearly, the press made a complete PUBAR (pressed up beyond all recognition) out of the campaign.

The counter-charge against that bastion of military ignorance, our media, has shown our media as inept:

ALMOST FROM THE MOMENT IT began on March 25, the inside-the-Beltway Conventional Wisdom about the Iraqi Army's offensive against Muqtada al-Sadr's "Jaysh al Mahdi" militia and other, more criminal elements in the city of Basra--the second-largest city in Iraq and whose port is Iraq's lifeline to the international economy--was that it was a half-baked enterprise and soon a fully-baked disaster. But the latest news from Iraq strongly suggests that is, once again, the narrative of defeat that is half-baked. Over the weekend, the Iraqi Army asserted control over the Basra neighborhoods that had been Sadrist "strongholds" (though, as in the past, the pattern of JAM behavior is flight-not-fight when its losses begin to mount) and continued to apply strong pressure on Sadr City, the main JAM redoubt in Baghdad.

Read it all, and revel in the idiocy and ignorance it reveals in our media that rushed to agree that Sadr had won and in the weeks that followed tried to lift Sadr from the ground, revive him and brush him off, and figuratively hand him our sword.

Austin Bay adds more:

Today, Maliki and Iraqis in general have earned the right to sneer at such instant and shallow media negativism, for Knights Charge (code name for the anti-Shia gang offensive in Basra and southern Iraq) is proving to be an extraordinarily significant political and military operation with rather heady long-term payoffs.

The really important piece is that we and the Iraqi government are continuing the campaign against the Shia thugs. Oh, Sadr is stell capable of issuing scary threats:

Muqtada al-Sadr is considering setting aside his political ambitions and restarting a full-scale fight against U.S.-led forces — a worrisome shift that may reflect Iranian influence on the young cleric and could open the way for a shadow state protected by his powerful Mahdi Army.

And when the press includes a scary picture of a scowling Sadr, the press wets its collective pants. But I think that by now we should see that the military power and appeal of Sadr is rather limited as long as the government of Iraq holds firm. Unless Iran seriously escalates its commitment to supporting the Shia thugs and pumps its own people into Iraq, any Sadrist revolt will start loud and end with lots of dead Sadrists.

When it comes to war and the military, our press couldn't pour piss out of a boot if the instructions were written on the heel. Keep that in mind the next time they collectively leap on the chair and yell "EEEK!!"