The Maliki Primary
This is pretty enormous news:
In an interview with Der Spiegel released on Saturday, Maliki said he wanted U.S. troops to withdraw from Iraq as soon as possible.
"U.S. presidential candidate Barack Obama talks about 16 months. That, we think, would be the right timeframe for a withdrawal, with the possibility of slight changes" [...]
Asked if he supported Obama's ideas more than those of John McCain, Republican presidential hopeful, Maliki said he did not want to recommend who people should vote for.
"Whoever is thinking about the shorter term is closer to reality. Artificially extending the stay of U.S. troops would cause problems." [...]
"The Americans have found it difficult to agree on a concrete timetable for the exit because it seems like an admission of defeat to them. But it isn't," Maliki told Der Spiegel.
There's just no way to spin this. Regardless of Maliki's motives, this is a total rejection of the McCain conservative position on Iraq. They never wanted to "win," they wanted to stay. And they are being told they have to leave.
UPDATE: FYI, Dr. Susan Rice of the Obama campaign responds:
"Senator Obama welcomes Prime Minister Maliki's support for a 16 month timeline for the redeployment of U.S combat brigades. This presents an important opportunity to transition to Iraqi responsibility, while restoring our military and increasing our commitment to finish the fight in Afghanistan."
The question is what "finish the fight" really means - who are we fighting, and what is the end-state?