I put Middle Earth Journal in hiatus in May of 2008 and moved to Newshoggers.
I temporarily reopened Middle Earth Journal when Newshoggers shut it's doors but I was invited to Participate at The Moderate Voice so Middle Earth Journal is once again in hiatus.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Rumsfeld of Mesopotamia

The attempt by al-Maliki to take out al-Sadr in Basra sounds like a repeat of Donald Rumsfeld's initial efforts in Iraq.
U.S. Cites Gaps in Planning of Iraqi Assault on Basra
Interviews with a wide range of American and military officials...suggest that Mr. Maliki overestimated his military's abilities and underestimated the scale of the resistance. The Iraqi prime minister also displayed an impulsive leadership style that did not give his forces or that of his most powerful allies, the American and British military, time to prepare.

"He went in with a stick and he poked a hornet's nest, and the resistance he got was a little bit more than he bargained for," said one official in the multinational force in Baghdad who requested anonymity. "They went in with 70 percent of a plan. Sometimes that's enough. This time it wasn't."
And this is significant:
The Iraqis, however, also began to fly in supplies and troops using their two C-130s. More than 500 Iraqi replacement soldiers were moved by air while an additional brigade was sent by ground.
These may have been members of the Badr Brigade that were sent in to replace troops and police that defected to al-Sadr.

Spencer Ackerman explains the significance:
But the surge was never intended to bring violence down to 2005 levels -- when, it's worth remembering, violence was so pervasive that the first wave of U.S. politicians reacted by calling for withdrawal -- nor to give Iraqi security forces the opportunity to skirmish with militias. President George W. Bush presented the surge to the American nation on Jan. 10, 2007 as an effort to enable political progress.

On that front, some experts say, Sadr's victory over Maliki exposed the weakness of the U.S.'s partner. "In spite of holding de jure power, Maliki can't exert territorial control over even the Shiite regions of Iraq," said Robert Farley, a professor at the University of Kentucky's Paterson School of Diplomacy. "While the surge has reduced violence, it has failed utterly to create Iraqi state capacity. The Iraqi central government is as far as ever from exerting control over other armed groups within Iraq."
George W. Bush was right when he described it as a "turning point". The surge is now officially a failure and there is no going back.
It should be noted that there are no additional forces to relieve those now in Iraq and maintain current levels. The U.S. commanding general in Iraq, David Petraeus, and the leading U.S. diplomat, Amb. Ryan Crocker , will testify before Congress next week in favor of pausing scheduled troop reductions. But military overstretch and the grueling tempo of operations for U.S. soldiers and Marines ensures that U.S. military strength in Iraq has just ended its apogee -- and still the Sadrist uprising exploded.