where most see the recent clash in basra between maliki's u.s.-backed forces and sadr's militiamen as a further slide into quicksand, bob wright @ bloggingheads.tv sees a bright red exit sign:
bob wright: well, let me tell you — get onto why i felt a little more sanguine after this, about the consequences of american withdrawal, or at least a little less concerned about the possibility of chaos engulfing the region if america withdraws. what you saw in this was that, contrary to some stereotypes, actually none of the parties involved are crazy, okay?
maliki did miscalculate a little, but once he got himself into trouble, all of the parties saw that it was in their interest to work out a peaceful solution, and they did it. and they did it without any american help. they did with iranian help. we were not involved in the solution. they worked it out without us, okay?
the only effect we may have had is by doing a little more — helping maliki inflict a little more damage than he would have otherwise. it may have weakened sadr's bargaining position a little, so maybe he got a little worse deal than he would have, but as you yourself said, it's far from clear whether it's better that sadr lose or that he prevail among the shiites. i mean, we don't even — we just don't know. the main thing is that first you get order on the shiite side, then you can proceed to hope for shiite-sunni reconciliation, and as far as the ordering process on the shiite side, i thought they passed the test.
y'know, they worked it out. it's stable, it did not — all hell did not break loose. we had nothing to do with the solution. iran did, and that's just ... what we're stuck with is that iran is going to be the source of, a great source of power in the shiite south, and we insured that by invading iraq, and we gotta live with it.
unfortunately both pride and greed make it extremely unlikely that america will decide to "live with it", which guarantees that we'll continue to overstay our welcome in
southern iraniraq ...