Anticipating an impending yank away from the U.S. military teat, the Iraqi regime struck a note of independence this week by embracing presidential aspirant Barack Obama's plans for the withdrawal of forces within two years. In an interview with Der Spiegel, Iraqi Prime Minister Maliki endorsed Sen. Obama's 16-month withdrawal plan. "That, we think, would be the right time frame for a withdrawal, with the possibility of slight changes." Maliki told the German magazine.
It wasn't long, however, before the Bush administration had the opportunistic Iraqi autocrat suckling on their unique brand of lame-duck denial as they offered up a scheme to tie the next U.S. administration to the same open-ended commitment of forces and resources that has allowed the Maliki regime to assume and maintain power and authority. In a cynical attempt to appeal to the potential U.S. voters who've soured on the Iraq quagmire, the administration has replaced the language of a timeline for withdrawal -- which most Americans have supported for years -- with a codification of their refusal to relinquish their Iraqi prize.
According to news reports, they've labeled their new obstinacy, a "time horizon." Wiki defines a time horizon as "a fixed point of time in the future at which point certain processes will be evaluated or assumed to end." Under that definition, Bush would exercise the same judgment in the deployment of our forces to Iraq that he's used to justify their continuing mission there, with a rationalization to remain, no matter if in an escalating conflict or in the face of a redundancy of military repression of the Iraqi resistance. Good times, bad times; we never leave. 100 years, ala the MCCain doctrine.
"The agreement will look at goal dates for transition of responsibilities and missions," a White House spokesman was quoted in WaPo yesterday. The article said the two autocracies were looking for another 'bridge' in funding commitments which would extend into next year.
Yet, there's no need to wait until some time 'over the horizon' to assess the effect of Bush's occupation on the "success" or "progress" of the Maliki regime. We have evidence enough of the destabilizing effect of the original imposition of the new regime on Iraqis -- with the new regime's coercive violence waged behind the intimidation of the American occupying forces -- to judge the likely outcome of even more of the same repressive militarism cosseting new edicts handed down to Iraqis from Maliki's puppet authority.
Bush is trying to run out the clock and pass his failure off to the next presidential bunch who will inherit the messes he's made abroad. Despite his vain attempts to define his fiasco, this far, as some progress towards democracy -- and despite Bush's last ditch attempt to consolidate the new regime's U.S.-enabled predominance over them -- he's content to sacrifice our nation's defenders each month in Iraq. He's satisfied to sacrifice those troops -- acting above and beyond the will of the American people and Congress expressed in the November elections, and in the withdrawal legislation which has passed his desk without his fickle signature.
Somewhere, over the horizon, our next president will work to lessen the burden of Bush's occupation on their own presidency. It's an established fact that Sen. McCain intends to keep the prospect of an Iraqi withdrawal over the "horizon," instead of squaring with the will of the American people that our open-ended commitment comes to an end.
The Iraqis may well put their faith in the lame-duck administration's attempts to bequeath to them the unending support of the U.S. military. But, they should know that, if there is a Democratic president elected in the fall, they will need to prepare to quickly assume whatever responsibility for their own security and well-being that they are able while there is still care and attention to the needs of the beleaguered Iraqi regime.
Within the Iraqi inner-circle, there appears to be an anxiousness to get on with the separation, despite whatever amends they are making to satisfy Bush's opportunistic expressing of support he can't ultimately guarantee. The WaPo reports that Sadiq Rikabi, a senior political adviser to Maliki, said in an interview that the Iraqi government still wants specific timelines for a full U.S. withdrawal of combat forces -- contradicting the cynical efforts of the administration to counter Maliki's earlier embrace of Sen. Obama's 16-month timetable with another mind-numbing Bushism.
"There are two principles that determine the military relationship: no permanent bases and no permanent existence," Rikabi said. "In such a way, there should be a timetable for withdrawal."