Pop Quiz: Why Are We In Iraq Again?
By: Mark W Adams

Thanks to Kevin Drum, we now have a handy cheat sheet so we know who's shooting whom in the latest version of Teh Awesumest War Evar™. (Thanx Digby)

And you didn't think there was going to be a test.

Of course, if you read Kevin Hayden's Post, even knowing the teams doesn't matter much when folks take off their uniforms and change teams as soon as the game starts.
“We already heard two weeks ago that we were going to attack the Mahdi Army, so we were ready,” he [Abu Iman, former member of the Iraqi Special Police] said. “I decided to take off my uniform and join my brothers and friends in the Mahdi Army. All these years, we were like a scream in the face of the dictator and the occupation.” He said: “I joined the police because I believed we have to protect Basra and save it with our own hands. You can see we were the first fighters to take on Sadd-am and his regime, the best example being the Shabaniya uprising.”
Why does this all smack of the surreal to me? I just get the feeling that the Iraqi government forces, and ultimately the Maliki Government itself are being set up to fail, and fail badly.

There's just no way the Cheney administration will tolerate an Iran friendly Shia regime to take hold in Iraq. Maliki has been too cozy with Teheran, but he gets along with everybody, including us. Sadr hates everybody, especially us.

The two of them duking it out damages both, frankly; but especially the government and Iraqi Army who don't look to have the force projection capability or loyalty in the ranks to accomplish this particular mission: taking over Basra. Maliki is doomed here to face the humiliating choice of a major defeat militarily or the other humiliation of being forced to call in the calvary -- us -- to inflict substantial damage to the Mahdi Army.

I'm quite confident nobody has thought through the end game here. Why should they start now?

UPDATE: Looks like the choice has already been made. Or maybe this was the plan right along.
Americans Appear To Take the Lead As Iraqi Units Wait — U.S. forces in armored vehicles battled Mahdi Army fighters Thursday in Sadr City, the vast Shiite stronghold in eastern Baghdad, as an offensive to quell party-backed militias entered its third day.
Of course, that's Baghdad. The Battle of Basra is what where somebody's dreams of power and glory will end.