Iraq Says Just Go

9 Jul

Juan Cole argues that Iraqi PM Nuri al-Maliki faces political pressure from Sayyid Muqtada al-Sadr and Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani to get US troops out of Iraq. As for the impact upon the US presidential race, Cole is certain, Senator Obama comes out stronger.

The major debate that the Republicans were looking forward to having
revolved around the success of the troop escalation of 2007-2008, now
mostly over. They want to argue that the escalation showed that Iraq is
not an unwinnable war and that counter-insurgency techniques could tamp
down violence. Therefore, there was no reason for the next president to
withdraw US troops. Moreover, McCain argued, if the US withdrew from
Iraq, “al-Qaeda” would take over the country and use it as a base to
attack the American mainland. A timetable for withdrawal was both
unnecessarily defeatist and also highly unwise, they were saying. They
completely ignored the political yields expected of the troop
escalation, most of which have not materialized, concentrating only on
death statistics.

The idea that a tiny fringe terrorist group
not popular with even Sunni Arab Iraqis could take over a largely
Shiite country with a large Kurdish minority was always daft and that
McCain alleged it is already reason to question whether he has the
judgment to be president.

Matthew Yglesias underscores the “logic of a timetable“:

The Iraqi government, it seems clear, would like some continued support
from US combat forces. And the United States, for good reason, doesn’t
want its forces running around Iraq engaged in combat while being
subject to Iraqi law rather than the Uniform Code of Military Justice.
At the same time, the Iraqi government wants to be the government of a
real sovereign country which is incompatible with a foreign army
running around the country engaged in active combat and not subject to
Iraqi law. One easy way to thread the needle of continued US combat
engagement in Iraq while maintaining a meaningful sense of Iraqi
sovereignty is to make the US presence temporary in a definitive
way. Which is to say — setting a timetable for withdrawal. That should
buy the United States an added degree of public support within which to
conduct some additional operations and leave the best possible
situation behind.

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