Check out this remarkable post by Matthew Yglesias off the Klein column I mentioned. He says that the Bush administration may have “no real motive at all” in backing Maliki against Sadr. No motive? What about: 1) That Maliki represents the lawfully constituted and internationally recognized government of Iraq and Sadr represents an outlaw militia; 2) That the fighters Maliki controls–i.e., the security forces of the state of Iraq–work alongside American troops instead of blowing them up with Iranian-supplied munitions; 3) That Maliki is working to create a stable Iraqi government that will be an (imperfect) ally of the United States, while Sadr is a sworn enemy of the United States: 4) That Sadr’s forces participated in the wanton killing of Sunnis that was a key accelerant of the civil war; 5) That the Sunnis support what Maliki is doing, and to the extent they see him moving against Shia thugs, national reconciliation becomes more likely; 6) That we have long been urging Maliki to take this sort of action against deadly Shia sectarians, even if we didn’t like the particulars of how he went about it here. Obviously Maliki has his flaws, but positing a kind of equivalence between him and Sadr in this fight–when pretty much every faction in Iraq backs what Maliki is doing–is perverse.