The Ambiguously Good News
Sudarsan Raghavan's lengthy Washington Post article about the conflict between Muqtada al-Sadr and Abdul Aziz al-Hakim and, in particular, the way the latter's fortunes seem to be on the rise, will warm the heart of hawks. Here, after all, is a long newspaper account of American military success:
This year's U.S. military offensive and dramatic shifts in tactics by both Sunni and Shiite groups are redrawing the balance of power across Iraq. With less violence between Sunnis and Shiites, festering struggles within each community may come to define the nature of the conflict. In the Shiite-dominated south, Sadr's main Shiite rivals are taking advantage of the surge in U.S. troops, as well as Sadr's imposition of a freeze on operations by his Mahdi Army militia, to make political gains.
What one wonders, however, is if this is good news, what's good about it? Hakim's group is the one that's willing to work with Americans whereas Sadr's is the group that's trying to kick us out. But it's not as if the Supreme Council are a bunch of nice liberal democrats. What's more, the extent of their "pro-American" sentiments seems to extend precisely as far as we're willing to help them acquire power -- it's not a case of deep resonances of values and interests.