Obama’s remarks that — if he takes office — in 16 months he would withdraw the forces, we think that this period could increase or decrease a little, but that it could be suitable to end the presence of the forces in Iraq... Who wants to exit in a quicker way has a better assessment of the situation in Iraq.
Did he just say that Obama has a better assessment of the situation on the ground than John McCain? He sure did. Did the head of the supposedly sovereign and democratic government of Iraq say that it's time for troops to leave, with a 16 month timetable being a good starting point? Yup.
There seemed to me, to be only one plausible way for McCain(if we assume he wouldn't go the Super Slime route) to win in a year when all the fundamentals favor the Democratic nominee in a staggering fashion (i.e. economy, incredibly unpopular incumbent, etc.)... and that was to play to fears of terrorism and go after Obama's alleged inexperience in foreign affairs. He's not going to win on the economy, healthcare, or taxes... so what else does he have?
With Maliki's statement, McCain's adoption of Obama's plans for Afghanistan, and the Bush administration's acquiescence on opening up dialog with Iran... it doesn't seem like foreign policy criticism makes a whole lot of sense... though it appears the McCain may completely ignore the will of the Iraqi people and just talk about the surge until the end of time. I have my doubts that many voters really give a damn about the surge, as it merely prolonged a war they've wanted out of for years. The fact that the Iraqi people are asking us to leave seems to give everybody an easy out... except the neocons who wanted permanent bases(100 years), but they've already lost that argument. It's not happening, so it's only a matter of time until we get out, and both Iraqis and Americans agree that sooner is better than later. Will Americans be persuaded that a flexible time table is likely to trigger the Apocalypse when it's what the Iraqi's want too? I doubt it.
Apparently Maliki and Obama are meeting today, so it will be interesting to see whether any further clarification comes out of this. Will he make a statement in front of cameras reiterating the need for prompt withdrawal? Unlikely, since it appears Bush & Co have leashed him a bit... but it does add a little spice to the visit.
UPDATE: via Christopher Orr at the Plank, the AP is reporting:
Iraq's government spokesman is hopeful that U.S. combat forces could be out of the country by 2010. Ali al-Dabbagh made the comments following a meeting in Baghdad on Monday between Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and Democratic presidential contender Barack Obama, who arrived in Iraq earlier in the day.
The timeframe is similar to Obama's proposal to pull back combat troops within 16 months. The Iraqi government has been trying to clarify its position on a possible troop withdrawal since al-Maliki was quoted in a German magazine last week saying he supported Obama's timetable.
So they've "clarified"(in English) from 16 months to 18 months? And if you start counting from January 2009 when Obama would take office, 16 months would actually put you in 2010. Quite the walkback, eh?
Oh, the quote in the title of this post is a quote from an actual Republican strategist, by the way.
UPDATE II: Now we have video.
Sounded to me like he said "end of 2010" which would put him something like