BAGHDAD — The followers of Moktada al-Sadr, a radical cleric who led the Shiite insurgency against the American occupation, have emerged as Iraq’s equivalent of Lazarus in elections last week, defying ritual predictions of their demise and now threatening to realign the nation’s balance of power.Me oh my. It's almost as if "former exiles who collaborated with the United States after the 2003 invasion" fed America's gang of Alden Pyles a lot of bull about the disarray and imminent demise of the Sadrist movement. Astonishingly, it makes, you know, sense. The Americans were going to be inclined to trust Anglophone exiles anyway; Oxbridge and Harvard English suggest a man is one of ours. The exiles, meanwhile, gained greater American trust by providing America with "intelligence" that America of course had no way to independently verify since apparently the four people who speak Iraqi Arabic in the whole of the United States are queerer than Johnny Weir doing a drag-skate as Lady Gaga impersonating Liberace to Elton John's "Tiny Dancer," ergo Asked, Told. So, to further their own political fortunes, America's totally altruistic, un-self-motivated, objective exile partners told tall tales that America was only too happy to believe. Oh, it's a hard slog with the Sadrists, but I'm sure they're in their last throes and all.
Their apparent success in the March 7 vote for Parliament — perhaps second only to the followers of Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki as the largest Shiite bloc — underscores a striking trend in Iraqi politics: a collapse in support for many former exiles who collaborated with the United States after the 2003 invasion.
Then Le Surge, and like any good guerrilla-cum-rebel movement, the Sadrist militias largely went to ground. They've been quiet for a couple of years, which in America is an eternity, but anywhere else is . . . just a couple of years. Since they weren't fighting, they got even more organized, and when no one was looking, they threw up a slate of popular candidates and then got their thousands and thousands of motivated, dedicated followers to vote. Oops. You're not dealing with morons, here.
Yeah, well, like, what's the takeaway? It is that America still has no idea what the fuck is going on in Iraq. After nearly a decade, our little satrapie is as opaque to us as ever. Our allies aren't really our allies and our enemies aren't necessarily our enemies. We have no reliable sources of local information, no meaningful read on domestic alliances and allegiances, no capacity to verify the truth or fiction of information regardless of the source, no sense of popular sentiment, if, indeed, there is any popular sentiment to speak of. (Think of what this means in the infinitely more insanely incoherent Afghanistan.) What we have is this:
“They cannot be dismissed,” a Western official said on the condition of anonymity, under the usual diplomatic protocol.On condition of . . . ? What? The "standard diplomatic protocol" is to grant anonymity for a banal observation so universal as to be nearly atopical?
"Looks like rain," a Western official said on condition of anonymity, under the standard diplomatic protocol. "Can't beat the weather."Fuck you, New York Times, and fuck you, too, America, you goldbricker.