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Why Democrats Might Hope al-Sadr Is Still in Iraq

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Where is Muqtada al-Sadr? Democrats leading the anti-Iraq surge debate in Congress might be hoping he's still in Iraq and here's why.

If al-Sadr has actually left Iraq to hide out in Iran — as the U.S. military reports — it strongly suggests that even prospect of a surge and a crackdown in Baghdad by American and Iraqi troops will work. If al-Sadr doesn't want to be around for a surge, what does that say about the surge? That it's a failure before it even begins? That it can't possibly work? That it's another stupid idea from the lying and incompetent Bush administration? Al-Sadr is interested in staying alive. That may be why he is not hanging around Baghdad as American troops are coming in with serious business on their mind.

So how does it square that the Democrats in Congress are rushing to the floor of the House to condemn the surge and Muqtada al-Sadr is rushing out of Baghdad to avoid it? The Democrats will probably take the opportunity to adjust their rhetoric for a few days: less actual condemnation of the surge, more condemnation of the war in Iraq in general. That would be rhetorically wise.

Look, Iraq may be a lost cause. The Iraqi government hasn't proved itself worthy of our respect yet. We shall see how that all works out.

What I do know is that American troops are still scary to a lot of people. Sadr's Mahdi Army doesn't particularly want to tangle with American troops. They have taken down their checkpoints and have slipped back into the shadows. You notice the insurgents fire off roadside bombs from a safe distance.

Congresspeople are right to be upset that Iraq isn't going as any of us would have liked. But to threaten to pull support from the troops and the president when the Iraqi-elected leadership has subverted the efforts of the very troops and president who allowed that government to come into existence is the height of absurdity.

Watch al-Sadr. He is a human weathervane for how the war is going. If it's true he's in Iran, the wind is blowing favorably for us.

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