The pro-war blogosphere is full of the news of Sadr’s defeat in the battle for Basra, manifested in his call for a truce, an end to government raids and the release of all prisoners. Here’s a roundup of the links from Glenn Reynolds. Reynolds, who has chronicled Sadr’s decline into irrelevance from 2004 to the present, is a bit more circumspect than he has been in the past, saying “it’s likely a blink, not a major defeat.”, but most of the bloggers he links to are unrestrained in their triumph.
Among the points I’ve picked up, illustrating the magnitude of the victory
- The number of Iraqi police and military who have defected to Sadr has been much exaggerated, and most of them were bad lots anyway
- The body count ratio looks really good
- Attacks on the Green Zone are a desperate fling, easily countered by staying indoors and wearing full body armor at all times
- The proportion of Basra controlled by the Mehdi Army has not increased much since the conflict began
- The proportion of Basra controlled by militias and criminal gangs (approximately 100 per cent) has not increased at all since the conflict began
- Much of the ground lost by the government elsewhere in Iraq in the first few days of the conflict has been recaptured
- The fact that the purported basis of the government’s action (an attack on criminal elements peripherally associated with various militias), endorsed by the US, is a transparent fiction, covering an attempt by one set of militias to weaken another, hasn’t worried anyone too much
- Allowing for the necessity of air attacks on densely populated areas, civilian casualties have been modest, ensuring that the popularity of the US and British forces will increase still further
- Maliki is still in Basra, proving the failure of Sadr’s attempts to oust him
But the crucial point underlying all of the argument is, that, simply by offering a truce, Sadr has proved he isn’t winning. After all, peace offers are for losers.