As Max Boot points out, it’s a complex situation in Basra. It is a cockpit of Shia competition, with a variety armed groups jockeying for control over resources and power. To simplify: What appears to have happened is that Maliki has committed us to a fight against Iranian-backed JAM special groups. In theory, we have wanted him to become more aggressive against these elements for a long time. Now, unexpectedly, he has. If we want him to prevail–and we should–we probably have to stop our drawdown and commit troops to Basra. My understanding is that the Iraqi military is out-gunned and if they take this fight on alone, they well could lose. But with our support, they are quite likely to prevail. It won’t be easy though, and the fight is likely going to spread throughout Iraq. The temperature will obviously get turned right back up on the Iraq debate here at home.