Most ominously, Iran has brazenly provided training and weapons to the Shiite militias–who carry rifles straight off the assembly lines of Iranian weapons factories–and these militias have emerged in the last year as the greatest threat to US troops and to the Iraqi government. ~Robert Tracinski

Right off the bat, you can see that Mr. Tracinski doesn’t quite get it.  He speaks of “the Iraqi government” being threatened by Shi’ite militias when the Iraqi government is being effectively guided by the very people who run one of the largest of these militias.  With Sadrists and the Dawa Party on the one hand, and SCIRI on the other, you have a constellation of political forces from the dominant community all dedicated to not suppressing Shi’ite militias, since it is from these militias that they derive their real, effective power.  There is no nonsectarian group that can serve as a viable alternative to the influence and power these groups possess in Iraq.  That SCIRI’s armed wing has been “brazenly” armed and trained by Tehran has been well-known to everyone since before the invasion.  Back then the government did not even attempt to “treat” the “symptoms,” because the government delusionally believed that SCIRI had a legitimate place in Iraqi politics.  If Iran is arming more of these militias today, they are simply expanding a policy to which we turned a blind eye for the last several years.  It is rather rich to use this practice now as the pretext for war with Iran. 

In the old days of the 1980s, we regarded SCIRI and its Badr Brigades as “terrorists,” but after the invasion we discovered that they were good, old Iraqi patriots after all, who nonetheless still received funding and orders from Tehran.  This reality did not trouble the warmongers in the least three and a half years ago or at any time since, and when SCIRI gained representation in the Iraqi legislature they said nothing.  The sad thing is that Mr. Tracinski is apparently perfectly aware of Iran’s long-standing ties with SCIRI, and yet somehow thinks that the capture of Revolutionary Guards members at Hakim’s house (whose arrest, it should be noted, was protested by the “Iraqi government” as a violation of diplomatic protocol) tells us something we haven’t known all along.   

The fatal flaw in Mr. Tracinski’s analysis here is that he thinks there is really an “Iraqi government” allied with the United States to achieve the same goals that our government has (whatever those might be) and that the proliferation of militias threatens such a government, when the “Iraqi government” long since became an appendage of the Mahdi Army.  When Maliki told our soldiers to end their cordoning-off of Sadr City shortly before our midterm elections (an operation aimed at retrieving one of our soldiers apparently held hostage by the Mahdi Army), that was the signal of whose side he and the “Iraqi government” were really on.  These militias are a threat to our soldiers, which means that Maliki’s government and the entire security apparatus attached to it are potential threats as well.  Given this state of affairs, why we are contemplating anything other than the “go home” option is frankly beyond me.