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Game Over

Saturday, July 19, 2008 by Michael Reynolds

The endless election just ended.  Barack Obama won.  

One vote was cast.  That vote belonged to Nouri al Maliki.  The elected head of the Iraqi government we are committed to sustaining says:

"U.S. presidential candidate Barack Obama talks about 16 months. That, we think, would be the right time frame for a withdrawal, with the possibility of slight changes."

Thank you and good night, ladies and gentlemen.

John McCain has exactly two issues:  drilling for oil in Santa Barbara, and Iraq.  On the economy he's got nothing.  On Afghanistan he's playing catch-up with Obama.  On health care, zip.  

He's got Iraq.  And by "Iraq," I mean that he's got the argument that Obama's plan for a withdrawal from Iraq means the end of all the progress we've made there.  Progress personified by. . . wait for it . . . the democratically-elected government of Iraq.  

Which backs McCain's opponent.

Asked if he supports Obama, Maliki demurred, not wishing to intrude in US politics.  And then said:

"Whoever is thinking about the shorter term is closer to reality. Artificially extending the stay of U.S. troops would cause problems."

"Whoever is thinking . .."  Gee, I wonder who that would be?  And, then Maliki reduces McCain's political raison d'etre to a neurosis, to an immature inability to cope with reality:

"The Americans have found it difficult to agree on a concrete timetable for the exit because it seems like an admission of defeat to them. But it isn't." 

It's really quite staggering.  I don't know that I've ever seen anything quite like this before.  

How does John McCain debate Obama on Iraq now? Does he argue that the Democrat who agrees with the democratically-elected government of Iraq is a danger to the democratically-elected government of Iraq?  Or does he pretend Maliki's opinion doesn't matter because what the hell would Maliki know, which contradicts the core of the "We're winning!  We're finally winning!" narrative?

Either Iraq's government is a sham, in which case we are wasting our time there and our accomplishments in Iraq are an illusion.  Or Maliki's government matters, in which case Obama's right:  tick-tock, time to go.

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Maliki For Obama?

Monday, July 14, 2008 by Michael Reynolds

Last week -- if this reporting holds up -- Iraq and the US gave up trying to draft a long-term status of forces agreement.

The Iraqis found themselves unable to reach a deal with Mr. Bush. Their great benefactor. The man who liberated them. Who nurtured them. The man they could rely on.

The Iraqis probably own a calendar and I believe they do get the internets there, so it will not have entirely escaped the notice of the Maliki government -- our democratic ally -- that we Americans have an election coming up.

It will not have escaped their notice that Senator Obama has a very good chance to be the next President of the United States. And that if they fail to reach agreement with Mr. Bush, they might be forced to negotiate with Mr. Obama.

Given that the conservative commentariat has decreed Mr. Bush to be Iraq's savior, and Mr. McCain is proclaimed as Iraq's best hope for the future, and we are to believe that Mr. Obama's policies would pose a grave threat of collapse and civil war in Iraq. . .

. . . I have a simple question:

Why would Maliki risk negotiating with Obama rather than Bush?

Think maybe it's just possible that the Maliki government does not believe Mr. Bush is its best defender? That they may not be terribly happy about the prospect of Mr. McCain carrying on Mr. Bush's policies?

Think maybe Maliki isn't too worried about Mr. Obama or his policies?

In other words, you think maybe the conservative commentariat's entire line of attack on Obama's Iraq policy just collapsed?

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