This is the situation that the Bush Administration has got us into: Iraqi politicians like Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki get to determine if American soldiers go into combat. This is from an article in the Washington Post:
"The clashes suggested that American forces were being drawn more deeply into a broad offensive that Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, a Shiite, launched in the southern city of Basra on Tuesday, saying death squads, criminal gangs and rogue militias were the targets. The Mahdi Army of cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, a Shiite rival of Maliki, appeared to have taken the brunt of the attacks; fighting spread to many southern cities and parts of Baghdad.
As President Bush told an Ohio audience that Iraq was returning to "normalcy," administration officials in Washington held meetings to assess what appeared to be a rapidly deteriorating security situation in many parts of the country.
Maliki decided to launch the offensive without consulting his U.S. allies, according to administration officials. With little U.S. presence in the south, and British forces in Basra confined to an air base outside the city, one administration official said that "we can't quite decipher" what is going on. It's a question, he said, of "who's got the best conspiracy" theory about why Maliki decided to act now."
So let me see if we have this straight. The Prime Minister of Iraq, without apparently consulting his American allies, decides to go after a political rival. This leads to fighting, which apparently was predictable. Now that the fighting has begun, according to the Post article, American troops are taking the lead. This is also from the Post article:
"U.S. forces in armored vehicles battled Mahdi Army fighters Thursday in Sadr City, the vast Shiite stronghold in eastern Baghdad, as an offensive to quell party-backed militias entered its third day. Iraqi army and police units appeared to be largely holding to the outskirts of the area as American troops took the lead in the fighting."
We have been told by this Administration that the U.S. is not being drawn into a civil war in Iraq. What the hell do you call it when armed groups of Iraqis are fighting each other for political power, a tea party? Of course it is a civil war. The fact that Sadr hasn't yet declared a rival government doesn't mean that its not a civil war.
If American soldiers are going to risk death, then the decision to put them in harm's way should be made by American politicians, not Iraqis. Not one American had the opportunity to elect this Prime Minister who is so careless with American lives.
Read the whole Post article here.