This is quick follow up to the previous post. It concerns Bush's intention to crush the al-Sadr's Mahdi Army and is speculative, perhaps even bordering on conspiraloonacy.
The U.S. administration has had a problem with al-Sadr ever since the Mahdi Army's 2004 uprisings but the current obsession with him is a relatively new phenomenon. It is perfectly possible to understand this as an expression of the bizarre machinations a desperate U.S. administration but it is also possible that other actors have fuelled this new desire to disband his militia.
And the question then is, who gains? Al-Sadr has shown himself willing to co-operate with the Iranian government but contrary to some reports, and unlike members of the SCIRI, he is not particularly keen on the idea of the Iranian government acquiring too much influence in Iraq. In fact, he and his homegrown Iraqi militia present a barrier to the extension of Iranian influence.
And he is in direct competition with the SCIRI and their Badr Organisation for the loyalty of Iraq's Shiites. It is already clear that al-Hakim is trying to manipulate the U.S. into destroying all Sunni resistance and therefore removing one barrier to SCIRI/Iranian power in Iraq. Is it such a stretch to imagine that members of the SCIRI might also be attempting to manipulate the U.S. military into crushing their main Shiite rival too? I'm not sure it is. Without the Mahdi Army in Iraq, the SCIRI would be in an even stronger position and that would suit them and their Iranian supporters nicely.
(Note - I've used "SCIRI/Iranian power" as a sort of shorthand. They have a very close relationship but shouldn't be thought of as one unified block.)
It is not a given that the U.S. military will succeed in disbanding the Mahdi Army, far from it in fact. Disbanding a militia which has popular support is hugely difficult and, as I've said many times, the U.S. military is particularly unsuited to this sort of operation. But, whether as unwitting puppets or not, the U.S. is about to begin a campaign which, in the unlikely event that it succeeds, will only advance Iranian interests in Iraq yet further.
Every time you think there might be some possibility that these idiots have finally realised the size of the hole they've got themselves into, it turns out that they were actually only pausing for long enough to find themselves an even bigger spade.