So our army in Iraq captures a senior Mahdi Army thug. Then Moqtada al-Sadr gets to Nouri al-Maliki, who says we have to let the thug go, which we do.
Of course, we didn’t have much choice, if we wanted to continue to pretend that the al-Maliki government is sovereign. On the other hand, an Administration not so fanatically committed to staying in Iraq until “Iraq is able to sustain itself, govern itself, and defend itself” (or until we don’t have any soldiers left, whichever comes first) would have had more bargaining leverage.
“Yes,” we could have said, “of course it’s your country and he’s your citizen, so if you really want us to let the murdering bastard go we will … on our way out the door.” Why should our soldiers shed their blood for a government without the political nerve to fight the terrorists in its own ranks?
But put aside the substance for just a moment. Let’s think about the politics. Imagine, if you will, that the current President were named “Clinton” or “Gore” or “Kerry” instead of “Bush.”
Can’t you just hear the screams from the Republicans and the American Legion and the neo-cons and Fox News and the Washington Times and the talk shows about what a bunch of wimps the Democrats are to let themselves get pushed around by a government that exists only because we keep propping it up?
After all, we would be told, the Mahdi Army has been killing our guys; why should we let one of its leaders loose to kill some more of them? Rush Limbaugh would be demanding, “Who the hell is this Prime Minister Malarkey, and why are we letting him push us around?”
But so far, not a peep from the Right on this, as far as I can see.
Political double standards aren’t exactly news; both sides use them. But this is pretty gross, don’t you think?
Here are the relevant paragraphs from the story in the Lebanon Daily Star.
In another apparent set-back for US forces, Maliki ordered the release of a leading member of Sadr’s political organization who was detained by US troops.
Sadr’s movement said that Sheikh Mazen al-Saeedi, a party precinct captain in Baghdad, was seized by US troops late Monday, but he was released Wednesday and driven back to a Sadr’s office in Baghdad.