I’ve noted this before, but the notion that the big problem in Iraq is Muqtada al-Sadr’s influence over the government and that we can solve this problem by giving Abdul Aziz al-Hakim more influence over the government instead is absurd. Recall that Muqtada came to this level of influence in the first place because we’d decided that the problem with Ibrahim Jafari’s government was its overly large dependence on . . . Abdul Aziz al-Hakim and his party. Maliki was the compromise solution to the Hakim problem. Now Hakim is the solution to the Sadr problem! And around and around we go.
From the get-go, our Iraq policy has been hobbled by an undue personalization of issues there. First killing Saddam’s sons was going to change things. Then we needed to capture Saddam. Then we were going to kill Muqtada. Then we weren’t going to kill Muqtada. Then Jafari was the problem. Now Maliki is the problem. Somewhere in between killing Zarqawi was the solution. And somehow it never occurs to anyone that there might be something about the structure of the situation that makes it impossible for the United States to achieve its goals. It’s always one more bad guy to kill, capture, or sideline.