Iraqi PM: Help us Obama, you're our only hope

… for a realistic Iraq policy.

When asked in and interview with SPIEGEL when he thinks US troops should leave Iraq, Maliki responded “as soon as possible, as far as we are concerned.” He then continued: “US presidential candidate Barack Obama talks about 16 months. That, we think, would be the right timeframe for a withdrawal, with the possibility of slight changes.”

Maliki was careful to back away from outright support for Obama. “Of course, this is by no means an election endorsement. Who they choose as their president is the Americans’ business,” he said. But then, apparently referring to Republican candidate John McCain’s more open-ended Iraq policy, Maliki said: “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.”

Come on Magnet. It isn’t withdrawing…it is “Horizons”.

Isn’t Maliki the Iran-supported candidate with ties to Shiite militias that wiped out a good portion of the Sunnis in Iraq?

I guess you’re saying it’s about time for another regime change, eh?

Anyway, here’s the official McCain reaction:

Via e-mail, a prominent Republican strategist who occasionally provides advice to the McCain campaign said, simply, “We’re fucked.”

Oh wait that was probably off the record.

Please don’t twist my words.

I just wonder if that thought was the first that lept to your mind every time Bush was talking about what Maliki said? If not, why is that your first reaction this time?

Anyway, I think you’d be hard pressed to find a Shiite in Iraq that couldn’t be tied in some way to Iran, and anyone at all in power who couldn’t be tied to a militia. It’s safe to say taking what they say at face value is a bad idea, but that’s generally true of politicians, no?

We already knew this was coming with the whole “horizon” thing with Bush earlier in the week, but this quote is pretty bad news for the McCain campaign.

I haven’t really paid attention to Maliki.

It’s an honest question, hence “Please don’t twist my words.” But thanks for answering my question, in a round-about, “drawing teeth is less painful than admitting Maliki may have an ulterior motive” kinda way.

Wanting to see the occupation end is an ulterior motive? For an Iraqi? Do you really need to dig for a conspiracy to explain an Iraqi preference for an earlier American withdrawal?

It doesn’t matter if he as ulterior motives, he’s the elected leader of Iraq. If he says we should leave, it should carry weight.

Of course it can be and likely is. The American forces are currently all that stand in the way of a massacre of the Sunnis at the hands of the Shi’ites, or worse, a proxy Sunni-Shi’ite conflict between Iran and the rest of Iraq’s neighbors.

Let’s run with the likely scenario that Maliki is in the pockets of the Iranians. The Iranians wish to see the Americans withdraw for two reasons: one, it removes a significant American force from their doorstep. Two, it will allow Iran to make a play to make a puppet of Iraq thanks to the Shi’ites there, who will always be under threat from neighboring Sunnis and thus always dependent on Iran.

Do you really need to dig for a conspiracy to explain an Iraqi preference for an earlier American withdrawal?

No conspiracy theory. Just an understanding of the situation.

That’s naive.

Oh so they are a puppet regime and we really DID invade so that we could enslave the people of Iraq and steal their oil. Thanks for clearing that up.

I like the line about artificially prolonging the tenure of US troops in Iraq. Like 16 months isn’t just as artificial.



Let’s assume all that is true, which I don’t. What’s your point? That Maliki may not have the same reasons as Americans for wanting us out of there? That seems pretty obvious. I’m not sure what you’re getting out of that, even if you take for granted the worst case scenarios for the results of American withdrawal.

The strongest argument for withdrawing from the American perspective has always been the inability to say with any degree of certainty that our continued presence is helping things in the long run. That is, setting an endpoint for the occupation now versus a decade from now does not significantly improve the range of possible outcomes, especially when cross referenced with the American public’s increasing unwillingness to invest further in the war.

Maliki can not want us there because god told him so in a dream, or because the Ayatollahs did. The fact is he is the closest thing to a leader Shiite Iraq has, and his opinion (and his willingness to state it) matters.

16 months is an educated guess on the fastest withdrawal tempo possible without having a helicopters out of Saigon scenario erupt, so to speak. It’s come from a variety of sources, and I’m sure it will be modified.

I guess “artificial” is being used to mean “purposeless”, as opposed to the 16 months timeline which has definite reasons for being that way.

Oh I agree that in the long run the presence of American troops isn’t doing any good. However, an attempt should be made to create a lasting political and social solution before withdrawing.

That we’re standing in the way of some ethnic civil war is one of the least convincing arguments for sticking around.

Currently in the Iraq Civil War (2003 to present), entire neighborhoods in Baghdad are being ethnically cleansed by Shia and Sunni Militias.[149][150] Some areas are being evacuated by every member of a particular secular group due to lack of security, moving into new areas because of fear of reprisal killings. As of June 21, 2007, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees estimated that 2.2 million Iraqis had been displaced to neighboring countries, and 2 million were displaced internally, with nearly 100,000 Iraqis fleeing to Syria and Jordan each month.[151][152][153]

A tale of two maps.

Fortunately for us, General Jones prepared maps that did just that for his own presentation:

Jones’ maps show the exact same downward trend in violence as Petraeus’ do. But they also show something else. In particular, they show the disappearance, over time, of mixed neighborhoods with violence, refugee flows, and ethnic cleansing producing a city that’s much more starkly segregated along sectarian lines than it was twelve months ago. In short, the number of incidents is plausibly declining not because of improved security, but simply because there’s relatively little fuel left for the fire.

Jason, that’s a bad argument you’re making.

If something happens on a small scale it doesn’t mean that the presence of a counter-acting agent is ineffective, merely that the agent is not completely effective. Just as it’s possible to be die in a car accident even though you have 12 airbags, seatbelts, side impact beams, crumple zones - it doesn’t mean all those are useless features.

What argument? I’m not making one, just pointing out that your statement is not supported by the evidence. You’re free to state the hypothetical that our presence has prevented even more death and disaster, but that’s different.

In other news, Petraeus is in the tank for Bush.

The top American commander in Iraq is downplaying recent comments by Nouri al-Maliki on the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq, claiming that the Iraqi prime minister wants “time horizons,” not timetables.

During an interview that aired Friday on MSNBC, Gen. David Petraeus cast al-Maliki’s growing assertiveness on the presence of US. troops as a positive sign of the government’s sovereignty while lauding Iraq’s improved military ability. But Petraeus indicated that doesn’t necessarily mean American troops will be able to leave by the end of next year, a goal many Democratic lawmakers favor.


“Again, what [al-Maliki] has said is not a timeline or a timetable. He said time horizons, which, again, we think that there’s nothing wrong with talking about time horizons,” said Petraeus.