So, Now that Maliki's Endorsed Obama's Iraq Timetable...

What’s McCain going to do?

From Spiegel Online: Iraq Leader Maliki Supports Obama’s Withdrawal Plans

AP picks up the story: Iraqi PM says US should leave as soon as possible
With this story, Bush’s recent ‘aspirational event horizon’, or whatever, talk appears reduced to lily gilding.

Can McCain turn this story around, minimize the damage of an ‘unseasoned’ opponent appearing to have a better grasp of realities on the ground in Iraq?
If so, how? This looks like a body-blow to me.

And perhaps more importantly, has anyone checked on BrainGlutton? This news was out this morning, and it takes Squink to start a thread about it?

First thing is, how this gets “clarified” once the White House gets done waterboarding Maliki? If that doesn’t work, the Bushiviks will be scrambling to declare this a victory for their policies. Hell, it may even work!

Let’s see, Bush is following Obama on Iran, Maliki is supporting Obama in Iraq. This will take some serious spin by McCain to keep it from being a death blow.

And the White House was so excited about the news that they just had to tell everyone! :smiley:

Most Americans already agreed with Obamas Iraq and Iran stance and disagreed with McCains so i don’t really see how this hurts him any more. Most Americans also don’t really give a bleep about what other countries opinion is sadly.

Hey! I started a GD thread four years ago, I just don’t want to get into the habit. :wink:

Not a bad effort, for an amateur, but should have been subtitled “How Badly Will This Crush the Dems in the Election?”

Hey, if you just keep repeating ‘withdraw in 16 months’ long enough, eventually you’ll be 16 months before withdrawal and can declare that you were right all along.

Obama wanted to withdraw a year and a half ago. That would have been a disaster. He kept calling for an immediate start to a withdrawal while the surge built up, the violence in Iraq brought under control, and conditions were set up where you could start talking about a withdrawal.

Bush and McCain have always said that withdrawal would happen when conditions on the ground allowed for it. It looks like conditions on the ground are starting to allow for it. That makes them right, not wrong. Bush has already said (before Obama’s visit) that it looked like an accelerated withdrawal was possible in the near term, and Petraeus has been saying the same thing.

Josh Marshall at Talking Points Memo sees this as transformative:

Oooo – more fun at TPM! JM posts the MCCain response and his opinion of it:

Shit, maybe Maliki thinks Obama is a Muslim.

And if you keep repeating that over and over again, then maybe eventually conditions on the ground will allow for it.

Of course, that’s come after the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Iraqis, and the exile of millions more. But hey, eventually Bush tried something that actually reduced the violence in Iraq from a ginormous multiple of what it was in 2002, to a relatively small multiple of that level.

If you’re gonna say ‘I told you so’ on that basis, go right ahead. I can’t stop you.

At any rate, McCain still wants to keep troops in Iraq for several more years, AFAICT. Obama and Maliki see eye to eye on a more rapid withdrawal. Seems that Obama’s got the right policy in place going forward (and as I keep hearing from my conservative friends, that’s the important thing now, not who made what mistake in the past: let’s not bicker and argue over who killed who; this is meant to be a happy occasion :)), and McCain can either agree with Obama, or dig in and say he’s still right, and that Maliki clearly hasn’t spent enough time in Iraq to understand the realities on the ground. :smiley:

The starting line is Obama’s inauguration.

Why? What was different a year and a half ago? And don’t say the escalation. The escalation only “works” as long as there’s an escalation. You have to end that sometime.
Incidentally, Obama wanted to avoid going into Iraq at all. It was the invasion itself that was the disaster. If you have an arrow through your head, you don’t blame the person who pulls it out for creating the “disaster.”

Spencer Ackerman: “When people say the surge has succeeded, they’re trying to say the war has succeeded. But no one can stand up and say that. So you get this odd argument wherein the success of the surge is supposed to have alchemically balanced out the failure of the war.”

I think Ackerman’s got your number, Sam.

That’s nonsense. The question of whether the war was a good move or not goes to what the circumstances were five years ago. The question of the surge being a good strategy had to do with circumstances a year ago. It is quite possible (probable) that the war was a bad idea AND the surge was a good idea. Two different things.

Um. That’s what Ackerman was saying (i.e. just because the surge succeeded doesn’t mean the war succeeded). So you just called your own opinion nonsense. :smiley:

The competition is blinding people to the truth. If the campaigns are about having good judgment, then Obama gets a point for calling Iraq early, McCain gets one for supporting a move that currently looks like a good idea.

Let’s not forget that Iraq may have stood up as we pulled out if we did so earlier. I’m not saying it’s likely, but the propensity to either/or thinking sometimes seems to cloud seeing our assumptions.

Nice work. You managed to combine an appeal to authority with a straw man argument. Well done.

Let’s not forget that there isn’t a shred of evidence that that would have happened, and plenty of evidence that it wouldn’t have.

I’ll bet you a lot of people who argued against the ‘surge’ don’t even understand what it was. It wasn’t about just putting 30,000 more soldiers in Iraq. It was about changing tactics to a proper counter-insurgency doctrine, and that needed more soldiers.

Here’s what was happening before: The U.S., due to a shortage of manpower, was conducting a ‘run and gun’ campaign in Iraq - they’d get a report of insurgents fighting somewhere, and they’d send in air power and armored humvees to attack them. When the battle was over, they’d withdraw back to base. Or, they would conduct patrols by day, then withdraw back to base at night.

This is the way an insurgency likes to fight. They could set up IEDs for patrols, then duck away during the day and let the Americans drive around and get blown up. And the Americans couldn’t get intelligence, because the Iraqi people found that if they helped the Americans, the Americans would go away shortly and the insurgents would murder them as traitors. And maybe their families too. So the Americans were fed bullshit by the population or nothing at all. Many times they walked into traps because they were given bad intelligence.

The population was helpless, because the insurgents had all the force, had spies and snitches to tell them who was talking to Americans, and everyone knew it.

In the midst of all this, opportunists carried out grudge killings or plain old robbery/murders, and blamed others. Sectarian violence began growing, being inflamed by Al Qaida in Iraq, which was trying to kick off the civil war by doing things like blowing up the Golden Mosque in Samarra.

This is purely the fault of Donald Rumsfeld, who long ago convinced himself that America could use its high technology to run a leaner military, and therefore refused to assign enough soldiers to Iraq.

This is what General Petraeus told the Congress after Rumsfeld was sacked. He said that America was not employing a proper counter-insurgency strategy, which is to place soldiers in among the population permanently and win their trust and protect them. But there weren’t enough soldiers to cover the areas that needed to be covered, so he asked for 30,000 more.

Petraeus literally wrote the book on counter-insurgency. He’s the author of the army’s official counter-insurgency manual, which was ignored by Rumsfeld.

The theory was this: You send soldiers into regions and base them in local bases among the populace. You protect them 24/7. This forces the insurgency to come out to you and fight, for one thing. Another is that once the people see that the insurgency is being beaten back, and that they are being protected, they start coming up with intelligence. Real intelligence. As the population is protected, they begin to take an active role in protecting themselves. Crime drops. Commerce starts up again. This eases tensions. Sectarian tensions diminish because both sides have a common enemy.

A year and a half ago, none of these conditions existed. The people were controlled by the insurgency and by al-Qaida in Iraq. The U.S. withdrawing would have emboldened them, and increased recruitment. The militias would have become rival factions, and al-Qaida would be having a field day committing mass murder and blaming Shiites for it.

A year and a half ago, the Iraqi army was not nearly as effective as it is today, and it was still riddled with the remnants of militias and soldiers more loyal to their sect or tribe than to Iraq as a whole. It’s very likely the army would have broken apart and merged with the various Shiite and Sunni militias.

You would have wound up eventually in a war to see who could gain control of the government, and then probably either a Saddam II as the meanest Sunni made it to the top, or an Iran II if someone like al Sadr gained power.

That’s what Petraeus told Congress. He asked for one chance to try to fight the right way before giving up and letting the most strategically important place on earth fall into chaos. He had a record of achieving exactly what he said he’d do - his tour in Iraq was the most successful of any general there - then Rumsfeld screwed up the situation again when he left. So he wanted another chance.

Some Democrats, including Obama, wouldn’t give it to him. They knew the stakes, they knew the man’s reputation, and they knew the likely outcome of a withdrawal. And they still said no.

This means one of two things: Either they were absolutely, 100% convinced that there was no possible chance of making the situation better, which means they chose their own judgment over that of the general who wrote the book on counter-insurgency, in which case their judgment is suspect, or they said no because they were playing politics, in which case their character is suspect.

The “situation” is irrelevant. There is no outcome which can justify staying. We have no right to fight the insurgency. It’s none of our business. I really have no interest in Petraeus’ Bush toadying opinions about anything. We have no defensive objectives there and Obama was absolutely right to tell him to shove his escalation up his ass. Petraeus can save his theories on how to beat insurgencies which do not concern the US for cocktail parties

Or there’s that opinion.