July 20, 2008 Leave a comment
It is absolutely huge news that Iraq's Prime Minister Maliki quite clearly endorsed Obama's withdrawal plan in an interview with a German magazine. The “liberal media,” however, seems to have given this perfunctory attention at best, however. It seems to me that had Maliki publicly repudiated Obama's plan, this would have been big headlines everywhere, not the subtle subheadlines garnered in the Post and the Times, e.g., “Obama Gets Look At Afghan War Zone: Iraqi Leader Backs 16-Month Pullout Plan, Magazine Reports.” This is a really big deal. First Jon Chait:
The fact that Iraq's prime Minister has
endorsed, by name, Barack Obama's plan to withdraw most U.S. troops
from his country in 16 months is a huge, huge deal. Most commentary has
focused on the political repercussions — as a GOP strategist
succinctly put it to Marc Ambinder,
“We're f***ed” — and that certainly seems to be the case. How can John
McCain paint Obama's plan as wildly naive or irresponsible when the
Iraqi government favors it too?
The Bush administration and the McCain campaign have replied by
suggesting that Maliki doesn't really want an American withdrawal, he's
just saying it for domestic political purposes. Maybe so. But that just
underscores the point. If Maliki has to publicly favor American
withdrawal, this shows that the Iraqi polity is not going to stand for
an extended occupation. President Bush may not have been sincere either
when he came out for a prescription drug benefit and campaign finance
reform, but he signed those measures because he had to. That's the
nature of democracy. If Iraq is going to be a democracy, then we're not
going to stay there forever. So the bigger story, beyond the
presidential ramifications, is that we know how the Iraq occupation is
going to end.
Meanwhile, the paucity of coverage of these remarks is inexplicable.
The big newspapers have given this story a paragraph at most.
Unbelievably, The Page gave this headline to Maliki's walkback: “Maliki Clarifies Seemingly Pro-Obama Remarks.”
Seemingly? It was a direct endorsement of the idea. And, for that
matter, Clarifies? There was no attempt to clarify, only to muddy the
waters to minimize the embarassment to President Bush and his allies.
And Ezra Klein:
In it, McCain is asked, ?What would or should we do if, in the
post-June 30th period, a so-called sovereign Iraqi government asks us
to leave, even if we are unhappy about the security situation there?”
Well, if that scenario evolves than I think it?s
obvious that we would have to leave because ? if it was an elected
government of Iraq, and we?ve been asked to leave other places in the
world. If it were an extremist government then I think we would have
other challenges, but I don?t see how we could stay when our whole
emphasis and policy has been based on turning the Iraqi government over
to the Iraqi people.?
Ezra's full post also nicely deconstructs McCain's ridiculous response, if you are curious. I should hope that this will actually begin to generate the level of coverage it deserves, but hey, why report on things like this when important things are happening like Jesse Jackson getting caught threatening to castrate Obama.