You got to wonder how out to lunch Bush really is these days.
At the very moment that civil strife was escalating in Iraq, even as Maliki's forces were taking a beating in Basra and bombs were raining down on the Green Zone Bush declared that the violence in Iraq was "a very positive sign" because Maliki was stepping up.
Talk about a bloody silver lining. Maliki can't even travel without a caravan of decoy limousines, according to Patrick Cockburn of the London Independent.
Nevertheless, at Wright-Patterson air force base on Thursday, Bush said: "The surge is doing what it was designed to do. It's helping Iraqis reclaim security and restart political and economic life."
He added: "It is bringing America closer to a key strategic victory in the war against these extremists and radicals."
The reality, however, is that the huge uptick in violence in Iraq puts the lie to all the happy talk about the surge.
For the apparent success of the surge all along was due as much to the cease-fire by Muqtada al Sadr and his militia as it was to anything else.
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And now that Maliki has gone after Sadr's forces, the violence all over Iraq is skyrocketing.
It's not just a case of the government going after a bunch of "bad guys," as bad as Sadr and his forces are. They've been known to throw acid in the faces of unveiled women.
Sadr's forces are among the most popular on the ground. And they are facing off against the rival militia forces of the SCIRI party. It's one Shiite militia against another, and the United States has done what it said it would not do: We're taking sides in a multi-sided civil war.
From here, things are likely to spin even further out of control, with even less political stability and even less economic activity (except for stealing oil), and even more deaths all around.
It is the surge, not the insurgency, that is in its last throes.
Matthew Rothschild is the editor of The Progressive magazine.
© 2008 The Progressive