Talk Talk Talk Talk Talk Myself to Death: Shifting Sands

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Shifting Sands

The ground under the presidential campaign is moving. After our recent back and forth over Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's assertion that he supports Barack Obama's plan for quick U.S. withdrawal from his country, it seems that the idea is now starting to stick. After al-Maliki met with Obama, even Iraqi spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh, who released the "clarification" of al-Maliki's earlier statement to Spiegel, seemed to be won over by the talk of withdrawal. He didn't say anything about 16 months, but he did say that Iraq would like to see the U.S. military presence gone by the end of 2010. By my count, that's 23 months after the next president takes his oath of office.

Although the coverage of the John McCain campaign is, unsurprisingly, focused primarily on McCain's criticism of Obama, his shifting position on the U.S. presence in Iraq is slipping through. Reporting on the candidate's visit with the Bush clan at Kennebunkport, the New York Times includes this little tidbit:

But Mr. McCain, who met privately with the first President Bush for 20 minutes, also appeared to embrace, if only in passing, the possibility of withdrawing most American troops from Iraq by the end of 2010. Asked at the news conference if it was conceivable that enough progress could be made in the next two years so that American troops could be fully withdrawn, Mr. McCain replied, "Oh, I think they could be largely withdrawn, as I've said." Previously, he had envisioned that in a McCain administration, most troops would be out of Iraq by 2013.

We'll keep an eye out in case this turns into a full-fledged embrace of Obama's vision of the U.S. presence in Iraq.


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