Bush's New "Defining Moment" In Iraq

Juan Cole, Tom Engelhardt, and Fred Kaplan have all written about the defeat of the Iraqi government's recent offensive against the Muqtada Sadr's Mahdi Army.

President Maliki launched this offensive a week after visits to Iraq by Cheney and McCain. President Bush said that this was going to be a new "defining moment" in Iraq.

Unfortunately, like most of the things that have occured in Iraq, things didn't quite go as planned.  Instead of a victory in Basra, the Iraqi army got their butts kicked by the Mahdi Army despite $22 billion in training, US and British air support, and support from US Special Forces and despite the Mahdi "Army" being an army in all but name only.

Had the Iraqi offensive been successful, it would have greatly enhanced General Petraeus's position in his upcoming visit to Congress and would have helped with McCain's presidential prospects and I'm sure that played no part in Maliki's decision. And now that Bush's "defining moment" in Iraq has gone sour, both Cheney and McCain claim that they had no advance notice of the offensive when they had visited with Maliki the week before (yeah, right).

As a result of the failure of the Iraqi army (over 1,000 soldiers refused to fight against the Mahdi Army) Maliki decided to induct more of the Shiite militia from the Badr Corp into the regular Iraqi army in the apparent belief that the best way to reduce sectarian tensions is to make the regular army more sectarian.

But not to worry. According to General Dubik, the Iraqi army will be finally be ready to "stand up" so that we can "stand down" by 2018. Why in another decade victory will be right around the corner.

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