As this Time article by Charles Crain makes clear, the clear winner of the recent operation in Basra was Muqtada al-Sadr.  It was supposed to shore up Nouri al-Maliki; now he looks weak.  It was hoped to marginalize Sadr; now his street cred is only increased, without losing his influence over what there is of the central government.,8599,1726763,00.html

I have to ask again– after four years— why the US is at war with al-Sadr.   Sadr is obviously not a terrorist, and we can’t even label him an insurgent– his faction is a major force in the government.  We can’t even say we’re against warlords; we constantly tout our alliance of convenience with Sunni tribal leaders and seek to integrate their militias into the army. 

It’s pretty sad that my post of four years ago could be written today, except that all the names but Sadr’s have to be changed.  Even Bush will be gone soon.  Could a President McCain handle Sadr any better? McCain has opined that Sadr has to be “taken out” without apparently explaining how or why, and seems to think that Maliki’s operation worked.  Do we need four to eight more years of denial?