I’ve admitted in the past that I am often a headline reader. The story of Basra has been a bit confusing.
Yes, Maliki took the initiative. Probably before he was ready.
Yes, the US gave air support.
Maybe, Petraeus was upset.
Maybe, the US was surprised.
Maliki “lost”, yet Sadr called for his men to stop fighting.
So today I took it upon myself to read the NYTimes article on this.
There I found that many folks deserted. That the Maliki is recruiting very heavily, but mostly Shiites. That the Sunnis’ are a little put out by that since they’ve been winning in other places. That there was probably a secret deal to stop the fighting.
And that Maliki still lost, but:
On Sunday, Mr. Sadr gave the prime minister a somewhat face-saving way out of the Basra fight by ordering the Mahdi fighters to lay down their weapons after days in which government forces had made no headway.
Powerline’s story looking at the Washington Post is a bit more clear. Conclusion:
In short, the results were mixed. But “the fact that an Iraqi government commonly described as impotent and inert now is willing and able to fight Shiite militias is a step in the right direction.”
Add in the part where clearly the US is not pulling puppet strings and you’ve got a conclusion that at least makes sense.
UPDATE: No name sent me this article out of The Weekly Standard by Daveed Gartenstein-Ross and Bill Roggio.
They definitely do more than read headlines as we know and they come to similar conclusions only with a lot more information than here.
In covering the fighting, the press displayed its previously seen penchant for quickly throwing in the towel when a military operation does not instantaneously meet its goals.