Monday, July 21, 2008

Double Walk-back

My friend made the case to me yesterday that Maliki's comments were unimportant in the strategic context: Maliki is a US puppet, the US is the only investor in Iraqs future, so the Iraq government will not dare anger the United States by going against our wishes. The retraction of the statement under pressure is yet more evidence of this: it showed how easily the Iraq government bent to the wishes of the United States. If the US wants to stay in (which McCain clearly does), we'll find a way to get the Iraqi government to agree to that.
If this is the case, I don't think it undercuts anything I said about Maliki's statements: my hope is that this effects the US voters, not Bush's or McCain's people. Maliki's statement undercuts the public rationalization: that we must stay in Iraq to help the Iraqi people and allow the government to assert itself. The fact that McCain may be twist the Iraq governments arm until they tell us to stay is just one more reason not to vote for McCain.
It appears that we may have been overrating the coercive power of the US. Ali Dabbagh, who issued the retraction, now say Maliki does, actually, like the timetable.
Dabbagh said Maliki and Obama didn't discuss specific proposals during the hour-long meeting. But he said Iraq would like to have all U.S. combat troops out of the country, leaving only advisers, some quick-reaction forces and air support forces behind.

“The Iraqi government sees that the end of 2010 is an appropriate date for the withdrawal of the forces,” Dabbagh said.

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