More good news

If the story below is true, and if what it represents continues, it is a sign “the surge” will vastly improve conditions in Iraq. It is entirely possible we are getting a string of these stories because the Iraqi government is temporarily complying with a perceived threat from George Bush. Moreover, it would have been much, much better if we just commenced squashing the Mahdi Army instead of having to telegraph it. Still, it’s hopeful. It certainly says al-Maliki can see the line Bush has finally drawn in the sand. Not having done so earlier could reasonably be described as diplomacy, that cure-all the Democrats keep urging.

There is another clear implication: if this is mere compliance, or if it does stop, if the thugs we’re arresting are put on catch-and-release, or if pressure is not maintained on al-Sadr, then we need to begin the drawback (not drawdown) as proposed here last Friday:

If al-Sadr is destroyed, we are almost certain to win. If he is marginalized, victory is very likely. Failing either of those occurrences, we need to withdraw into our laagers and tell al-Maliki that he has two years of intelligence, logistics and air support left in which to solve his problem.

It seems as if al-Maliki is operating from just such a perspective: Muqtada Al-Sadr Aide Arrested in Baghdad

(AP) U.S. and Iraqi forces arrested one of Muqtada al-Sadr’s top aides Friday in Baghdad, his office said, as pressure increases on the radical Shiite cleric’s militia ahead of a planned security sweep aimed at stemming the sectarian violence ransacking the capital.

Sheik Abdul-Hadi al-Darraji, al-Sadr’s media director in Baghdad, was captured Friday and his personal guard was killed, according to another senior al-Sadr aide.

This is what we want to see.

While we’re on the topic of the necessity for squashing al-Sadr, it is worth reading Charles Krauthammer’s A Plausible Plan B for Iraq:

…In this high-stakes game of chess, what is missing is some intermediate move on our part — some Plan B that Maliki believes Bush might actually carry out — the threat of which will induce him to fully support us in this battle for Baghdad. He won’t believe the Bush threat to abandon Iraq. He will believe a U.S. threat of an intermediate redeployment within Iraq that might prove fatal to him but not necessarily to the U.S. interest there.

…If we had zero American casualties a day, there would be as little need to withdraw from Iraq as there is to withdraw from the Balkans.

We need to find a redeployment strategy that maintains as much latent American strength as possible, but with minimal exposure. We say to Maliki: you let us down and we dismantle the Green Zone, leave Baghdad and let you fend for yourself; we keep the airport and certain strategic bases in the area; we redeploy most of our forces to Kurdistan; we maintain a significant presence in Anbar province where we are having success in our one-front war against al-Qaeda and the Baathists. Then we watch. You can have your Baghdad civil war without us. We will be around to pick up the pieces as best we can.

This is notably different from Jack Murtha’s ignorant suggestion that we redeploy to Okinawa. Which, so far as we’ve been informed, represents the best Democrat plan. Their plans of lesser merit all involve redeployment to Fort Benning and Camp Lejeune, combined with a reinstitution of conscription.