Saturday, July 19, 2008

al-Maliki Endorses Obama's Plan To End The Iraq War


On MSNBC yesterday I heard one of the GOP shills whining that the big bad librul media better give poor little John McCain equal coverage while Obama is overseas. Although the Phil Gramm and Juan Carlos Benitez scandals are plenty newsworthy, I don't think that's what she had in mind. (The Benitez story has been barely touched by the media and yet it is the perfect reminder of why Republicans are utterly unfit to get anywhere near government spending authorization.)

But instead of covering how the Double Talk Express is completely stocked with the very people who have authored the miseries with which the next president will have to grapple, the media seems to be content to allow McCain to slide while they watch the rest of the world hailing Barack Obama as the salvation from the most hated phenomenon since the deaths of Hitler and Stalin.

Just as the new reports were coming back that Obama had visited American troops in Kuwait and flown on to Afghanistan, Der Spiegel, Germany's biggest news magazine (their Time) releases an interview with John McCain's good friend, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. He may have forgotten to clear it with the McBush folks.
SPIEGEL: Would you hazard a prediction as to when most of the US troops will finally leave Iraq?

Maliki: As soon as possible, as far as we're concerned. US presidential candidate Barack Obama is right when he talks about 16 months. Assuming that positive developments continue, this is about the same time period that corresponds to our wishes.

SPIEGEL: Is this an endorsement for the US presidential election in November? Does Obama, who has no military background, ultimately have a better understanding of Iraq than war hero John McCain?

Maliki: Those who operate on the premise of short time periods in Iraq today are being more realistic. Artificially prolonging the tenure of US troops in Iraq would cause problems. Of course, this is by no means an election endorsement. Who they choose as their president is the Americans' business. But it's the business of Iraqis to say what they want. And that's where the people and the government are in general agreement: The tenure of the coalition troops in Iraq should be limited.

I'm guessing McCain would prefer to see a front page profile on Juan Carlos Benitez-- or even another story about how his rabidly homophobic Alabama leadership campaign chairman, Attorney General Troy King, was caught by his wife, Paige, in bed with a young man. Instead he's going to be seeing thoughtful pieces like Spencer Ackerman's Fight War, Not Wars and news coverage about Obama's triumphal progress through country after country.
Maliki has read the tea leaves and evidently realized what the rest of us considered obvious: that the only one demanding that he turn Iraq to permanent foreign domination is a president thoroughly discredited in his own country who'll be out of office in a few months. That president's replacement might very well decide on a unilateral withdrawal from Iraq, abrogating any deal Maliki was strongarmed into signing, at which point the U.S. would essentially be cutting Maliki off. Oh motherfucking shit, Maliki surely thought, if I sign this deal, my people will run my body through the streets and hoist me from a fucking lamppost. Not that the electricity works, but still.

And so Maliki flip-flopped. His newfound resiliency is born of survival -- not merely political survival, either. He has forced George Bush to accept what Bush and McCain has said for years would lead to doom, ruin, humiliation, catastrophe-- a euphemistic "time horizon" for withdrawal. On the one hand, the fact that it won't actually be a timetable is significant, since Bush, of course, won't actually end a war he wants to entrench as the natural order of the world. But on the other, the euphemism is itself important, since once again Bush's attempt at denying reality only creates a trap for McCain. If McCain embraces the time-horizons, he shatters his own previous argument that such a thing will bring national ruin and indicates a certain moral and strategic turpitude on the part of its advocates. His only solution is to magically pretend that Bush's move isn't politically motivated and hope no one laughs at him. But now Maliki evidently wants to stick it to McCain, an indicator that the Iraqi PM knows who's going to be president next January. Reuters reports that Maliki has embraced Obama's 16-month withdrawal plan.

Obama isn't running around looking for bargains in the Kabul carpet markets with Lieberman and Lindsey. He landed at Kabul at noon and he's going to visit Jalalabad in east Afghanistan, on the road to the Khyber Pass. I was there a couple times when there was no war, and it was like the American wild West. According to the NY Times the trip "will give him a first-hand look at the region where American troops are feeling the brunt of increased attacks from militants infiltrating across the border from Pakistan." Instead of dragging along a light in the loafers carpet hunter and a fanatic warmonger who sees everything in the Middle East through his Likud prism, Obama has two deadly serious senior U.S. senators and national security experts with him, Republican Chuck Hagel and Democrat Jack Reed.

This news and the strain of campaigning is all a bit much for an elderly man like McCain, who nodded off during an interview with Conan O'Brien on NBC's Late Night. And the show wasn't even taped late at night; they tape in the afternoon! Or was that another of his lame stunts, part of McCain's one-note plea for sympathy?


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