Thursday, April 10, 2008

Ill-advised unilateral assault

Does that sound familiar? The story about how the Iraqi army unilateraly and ineffectively attacked Muslim militias in Basra last week has been in the news every day since it happened last week. I've heard comments like al-Maliki went in unprepared, expecting the US army to come to the rescue if they got into trouble. Watching "Bush's War" on Frontline a couple/few weeks ago, thousands of Americans found out that that was exactly Rumsfeld's strategy, get in, oust Saddam, get out, and let the surrounding Arab countries sort out the mess. This is from the Washington Post last week.

BAGHDAD, April 3 -- When Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki launched an offensive in Basra last week, he consulted only his inner circle of advisers. There were no debates in parliament or among his political allies. Senior American officials were notified only a few days before the operation began. . . . A week later, his ultimately unsuccessful gambit has exposed the shaky foundation upon which U.S. policy in Iraq rests after five years of war, according to politicians and analysts. . . . "It was ill-advised and ill-timed," said Kurdish lawmaker Mahmoud Othman. "I think Maliki had a setback and America had a setback because Iran and Moqtada al-Sadr were victorious."

NPR's Steve Inskeep spoke to Bing West, a former assistant secretary of defense under President Reagan, this morning. West characterized al-Maliki's move as "highly erratic" and as coming from a man with a "huge ego, who says, 'I'm the commander in chief around here'" and done in a way as to show himself "so full of himself he does not take wise council."

Five years ago there were some other people (and maybe some of the same people, too) lamenting about another ill-advised adventure on a much larger scale, carried out by an unprepared army, lead by a commander in chief who was so full of himself he didn't take wise council. But in my web meanderings these last several days I haven't come across any other journalist or commentator -- or democrat, for that matter -- making that oh-so-obvious comparison.

Have commentators and journalists gotten so completely blase about the cluster-fuck we call the Iraq War that they are completely missing this easy target? Bush and McCain actually praised it, which should tell you something.

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