How can the Shi'a south survive on its own except as a satrapy of Tehran? If Moqtada al Sadr is really interested in poodle duty, wouldn't he have dropped the charade by now? It strikes me that anyone hoping to shear off the south and make of it a private fiefdom would have to first provoke and then endure and finally win a civil war of secession. This is not only a difficult process to complete from start to finish but also a costly and weakening one. This is something the Confederacy had a tough time managing -- and that without a comparatively vast and gogglingly covetous next door neighbor looming over the battlefields.
The Spectacle Blog
Actually, I think he's looking to rule a partitioned piece of Iraq. The more senior Shia - Sistani among them - realize the difficulties of keeping Iraq together are potentially worth it for them. Sadr and his ilk are willing to sell out the north and center to keep the South for themselves. High risk, high potential payoff strategy.
Jed, it's entirely possible that Sadr has something vicious and unconscionable up his sleeve. And it's difficult to take calls for peace at face value from a guy who ran around killing Americans until it became more trouble than it was worth to him. But query whether al Sadr would rather have a chance at running the government of an Iraq whole and at peace or a guaranteed place at the top of a Shi'a army tasked with surviving a civil war. Query whether al Sadr aspires for purely religious reasons to be a permanent stepstool for Iranian overlordship.
He spreads the blame all around: to the apparently xenophobic overreaction among Democratic and Republican quarters, and to the White House for perhaps "unleashing the dogs of anti-Arab prejudice," and then botching the PR last week.
He also reports that Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) is suffering heartburn from the news. As much as I like Thune (he's genuine and affable in person), he continues to disappoint. Remember the fit he threw over BRAC last year and then withdrew support for the Bolton nomination? I know the Great Plains states lean populist, but once in a while their representatives should exercise some sensible leadership.
Calls for calm in Iraq emanating from Moqtada al-Sadr last week are being viewed by some as good news. What they ignore is the fact that Sadr, while calling for peace, ordered his militia to stop wearing their trademark black getups. He sending his people underground, which may well mean the terror campaign we haven't seen from him before is about to start in earnest. Could mean other things as well, but this guy calling for peace is the rough equivalent of Bonnie and Clyde decrying lousy bank security.
Jed, I'm with you on style points. Wlady, see my column to come on the World Match Play. I think the TV-Oprahfication of the games began in earnest with the summer games in Australia, where the time zone shift made anything live impossible. NBC reduced that entire Olympics to a series of personality features. I miss the early days of ESPN, when you could watch unpolished rugby and Australian rules football. Nowadays, the major Olympic event seems to be the TV interview.