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Faint Hope Is Better Than None.

Happy? Sad? A little scared?

The L.A. Times (H/T to Ambivablog) reports:
Thursday, a leader of the Sadr movement in one of its Baghdad strongholds publicly endorsed President Bush's new Iraq security plan, which at least some U.S. officials have touted as a way to combat Sadr's group.

"We will fully cooperate with the government to make the plan successful," said Abdul-Hussein Kaabai, head of the local council in the Shiite Muslim-dominated Sadr City neighborhood. "If it is an Iraqi plan done by the government, we will cooperate."

Why would the Sadrists stand down from a confrontation? In a mock memo in today's Washington Post, Gary Anderson, a defense writer, explains it from the Sadrist point of view. (Unfortunately the WaPo online has decided to publish it as a graphic so I can't cut and paste it.) Bottom line, Anderson "advises" Sadr to stand down except for sniper and IED attacks on Americans.

It's the smart guerilla/insurgent move. You don't go toe-to-toe against a stronger foe. You fade and bide your time.

The danger for Sadr is that while he's biding his time we may manage to convince the residents of Baghdad that life is better under the central government slash American forces than it was under Sadr. The be-turbanned fat boy may bide a bit too long and become irrelevant.

I wouldn't bet the mortgage money on it -- it may be pitifully easy to gin up anti-American sentiment among the Shiites, no matter how much we improve their daily lives. In that case Sadr would only be on vacation, not gone for good.

But if I were Muqtada al Sadr I wouldn't be completely confident, either. Iraqis may be just about sick of this. They may be in the mood for a long, relaxing pause between confrontations. Enough of a pause for us to declare victory of sorts and get the hell out of Dodge.

I said here I thought the odds on the surge were about like roulette odds. I'll stick with that bet.

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“Faint Hope Is Better Than None.”

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