Maliki: Obama’s 16-month timetable sounds good; Update: Spiegel changes quote

posted at 12:15 pm on July 19, 2008 by Allahpundit

Here’s the exchange from Spiegel’s English translation, duly hyped by Reuters as tacit evidence of Liberal Jesus’s foreign-policy sagacity.

SPIEGEL: Would you hazard a prediction as to when most of the US troops will finally leave Iraq?

Maliki: As soon as possible, as far as we’re concerned. US presidential candidate Barack Obama is right when he talks about 16 months. Assuming that positive developments continue, this is about the same time period that corresponds to our wishes.

The unasked follow-up question: How about the 14-month timetable that Obama wanted to set in January 2007 to start pulling troops out before those positive developments could occur? How keen does that look in hindsight? To repeat a point made yesterday, the only reason a timetable or “time horizon” is arguably a responsible strategy now is because it was properly rejected as being irresponsible then. Maliki hints at that in another part of the interview:

So far the Americans have had trouble agreeing to a concrete timetable for withdrawal, because they feel it would appear tantamount to an admission of defeat. But that isn’t the case at all. If we come to an agreement, it is not evidence of a defeat, but of a victory, of a severe blow we have inflicted on al-Qaida and the militias.

Exactly, which at least partly explains why Bush is more willing to compromise now on some sort of informal schedule. Compare Maliki’s justification for the timetable to Obama’s justification in his big Iraq speech. The pacification of the country is almost incidental, something to congratulate Petraeus on and then quickly move past. To the extent conditions in Iraq seem to affect his rationale at all, he offers this: “In the 18 months since the surge began, as I warned at the outset – Iraq’s leaders have not made the political progress that was the purpose of the surge. They have not invested tens of billions of dollars in oil revenues to rebuild their country. They have not resolved their differences or shaped a new political compact.” I.e. it didn’t work, so let’s get out. Back to Maliki for a rebuttal:

SPIEGEL: In your opinion, which factor has contributed most to bringing calm to the situation in the country?

Maliki: There are many factors, but I see them in the following order. First, there is the political rapprochement we have managed to achieve in central Iraq. This has enabled us, above all, to pull the plug on al-Qaida. Second, there is the progress being made by our security forces. Third, there is the deep sense of abhorrence with which the population has reacted to the atrocities of al-Qaida and the militias. Finally, of course, there is the economic recovery.

He’s exaggerating the extent of the reconciliation, but not entirely.

One more quote from the interview which I dare say won’t be making it into the inevitable Team Barry press release. The fact that Maliki thinks the war was good for Iraqis doesn’t mean it was good for America, needless to say, but Obama fans eager to exploit the timetable bit may want to mull this before baptizing his judgments with Absolute Moral Authority:

SPIEGEL: Mr. Prime Minister, the war and its consequences have cost more than 100,000 lives and caused great suffering in your country. Saddam Hussein and his regime are now part of the past. Was all of this worth the price?

Maliki: The casualties have been and continue to be enormous. But anyone who was familiar with the dictator’s nature and his intentions knows what could have been in store for us instead of this war. Saddam waged wars against Iran and Kuwait, and against Iraqis in the north and south of his own country, wars in which hundreds of thousands died. And he was capable of instigating even more wars. Yes, the casualties are great, but I see our struggle as an enormous effort to avoid other such wars in the future.

For context, here’s Petraeus on MSNBC yesterday afternoon (before the Spiegel interview was published) responding to reports that Maliki wants a timetable. He fudges a bit with the “time horizon” terminology, but note well the point about domestic politics and assertions of sovereignty. Another “positive development.” Exit question: What do we do now with that NYT piece from the other day about Iraqis who love Obama for bringing Hope but pray that the U.S. security presence doesn’t Change?

Update: Spend some time with this AP story about U.S. troops — who would have been reduced to a small Baker/Hamilton token force by now if Obama had had his way last year — helping Iraqi villagers rebuild after purging Al Qaeda. Quote: “It reveals how drastically American troops have shifted their focus from combat to helping Iraqis build on a newfound, if fragile, peace. And it reflects a continuing concern among U.S. commanders that the security gains could slip.” Not just among U.S. commanders, per the NYT piece.

Update: A commenter notes that Spiegel has rewritten the translation of the exchange about withdrawal to read as follows. There’s nothing in the article calling attention to the change; they’re trying to put one over on their readers, it seems.

SPIEGEL: Would you hazard a prediction as to when most of the US troops will finally leave Iraq?

Maliki: As soon as possible, as far as we’re concerned. 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.

They’ve dropped the contingency about positive developments continuing, although it’s still implied by the part about potentially changing the plan. Did Maliki contact Spiegel and ask them to drop that part so that the quote would sound more assertive back home? Hard to believe the original translation would have been so off as to include a bit about “positive developments” that he never said.


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If Obama and the Dems had had their way in the Fall of 2006, the troops would have already all been withdrawn by now, the civil war would have escalated, chaos would have ensued, sectarian terror would have become genocidal and Iraq would be ruled by al Qaeda cells and other maniacs.

What a guy!

What a plan!

profitsbeard on July 19, 2008 at 12:21 PM

Here it comes, you can almost smell it: Barack the Redeemer actually supported the surge all along because he knew it would lead to implementation of his 16 month timetable.

Of course his slack-jawed followers will dutifully claim it as true and denounce as racist anyone who reference Obama’s past statements.

Bishop on July 19, 2008 at 12:21 PM

Great post Allah. You might like to stir the pot but you always invite the readers to peek behind the curtain.

One thing I want to add is this foreign tour of Barry’s was announced well in advance and the press questions (IMO) will be geared toward lifting him up. It is gonna be a bad week for ‘news’, which is why I stocked up on non-Budweiser beer.

Limerick on July 19, 2008 at 12:30 PM

The worst thing that happened to the Democrats is that we won in Iraq. How sad for the Dhimmis.

Mojave Mark on July 19, 2008 at 12:39 PM

Congrats. I was chatting with Ed earlier and asking him how this was going to be spun, but I’ll admit I didn’t see this coming. Of course, the bottom line is that Maliki just shot Senator McCain in the foot. Pretty much every major point about how McCain gets Iraq right and Obama gets it wrong got shot down in that interview. The far too often to retract statements by McCain about long term security agreements mirroring Korea and Germany were shot down by the PM of Iraq. The other quote you mentioned is actually a real killer also, but you highlighted the wrong half of it. One of the key themes of McCain’s charges, day after day after day, were that timelines were “surrender.” Having the PM of Iraq flatly refute that is a big bullet.

Another part you left out that was a big “oh crap!” was this one:

He also bemoaned the fact that Baghdad has little control over the US troops in Iraq. “It is a fundamental problem for us that it should not be possible, in my country, to prosecute offences or crimes committed by US soldiers against our population,” Maliki said.

Tell me that pro-Obama media sources aren’t going to be replaying that 24/7 until November 4th at midnight.

Frankly, as I told Ed, I don’t think Obama’s speechwriters could have scripted that interview for Maliki and done a more damaging job.

Jazz Shaw on July 19, 2008 at 12:42 PM

Never forget that those of us who supported this war in the beginning and in the darkest hours were right.

Obama and his morally and intellectually bankrupt supporters were wrong, as they are on every important question of the day.

Obama – wrong candidate at the wrong time.

NoDonkey on July 19, 2008 at 12:45 PM

“I don’t think Obama’s speechwriters could have scripted that interview for Maliki and done a more damaging job.”

Except for the part where he says the Iraq was was just and right.

Good lord, I don’t know how the Republicans win any elections at all with so many wet blankets amongst us.

NoDonkey on July 19, 2008 at 12:47 PM

We were right(correct) to go to war. If my memory serves me we have always said we would stay until we were no longer needed or the Iraqi government asked us to leave. I suppose the Dems are going to take credit for the success that’s been gained.

dalec on July 19, 2008 at 12:49 PM

Obama – wrong candidate any time.

dalec on July 19, 2008 at 12:51 PM

@ dalec on July 19, 2008 at 12:49 PM

Care to explain why we were right to go to war? I’m fairly certain that a VAST majority in both parties believe that Iraq was an unnecessary war, and an all around cluster$%&*. Thats not even to mention the RIDICULOUSLY shady connections between companies standing to make billions and the people who chose to go to war. How was it “correct” again?

muyoso on July 19, 2008 at 12:52 PM

http://hotair.com/archives/2008/07/19/sunnis-formally-rejoin-maliki-government/

The post on this thread at 12:04 is dead on, IMO. This could have dire consequences if Maliki insists on a complete pullout in that time frame, but of course the assistance to Obama’s election will already have been accomplished.

a capella on July 19, 2008 at 12:55 PM

The dims will steal the success of the Iraq war and the Iraqis will help them. Loyalty by those who are now free because of the brave men who overthhrew their dictator
will now show the cowardice that was the reason for their enslavement. Appeasing those who would’ve made their enslavement permanent is the stab in the back to all Americans who endured so they may be free.

volsense on July 19, 2008 at 12:56 PM

Looks as if Maliki might have made the A-list for the liberal speaking circuit; so long to the good ol’ days when he was just a shill and a puppet for Bushitler.

SOMEONE had to replace Lieberman.

Bishop on July 19, 2008 at 12:56 PM

It’s politically expedient for Maliki to babble on about American forces leaving Iraq. After all, they are there now and protecting his butt. If we were to leave immediately and the dung hit the fan, he’d be howling for us to come back….

And of course if a hasty withdrawal made it necessary for us to leave masses of equipment behind, that wouldn’t hurt Maliki’s feelings. Another gift on top of the gifts we’ve already laid on him.

The whole Iraq can of worms has become ridiculous. Not because there was anything wrong with the original intent, but because Bush got hung up on “building democracy” and seems not to have cared what the cost to us would be.

If Osama Obama chooses to cherry-pick from the Maliki quotes, who among the MSM will question him? He is, as Drudge reminds us, a “rock star” now.

MrScribbler on July 19, 2008 at 12:58 PM

If I’m going to have a rock star running the country, I would rather it be Nugent, at least he wouldn’t try to disarm me.

Bishop on July 19, 2008 at 1:00 PM

muyoso on July 19, 2008 at 12:52 PM

Ah, it was all due to Cheney and Haliburton, wasn’t it. And here I always thought it was just because we were going to steal their oil. Another Oil for Food program administeered by the U.N. was probably all that was needed to avoid war.

a capella on July 19, 2008 at 1:00 PM

Care to explain why we were right to go to war?

muyoso on July 19, 2008 at 12:52 PM

The minute Saddam Hussein intentionally dumped 40,000,000 barrels of oil into the gulf (only that little because we bombed the terminal and stopped the flow) and lit just about every single oil well in Kuwait on fire while retreating in one of the most humiliating military defeats in all of recorded history, it was known to anyone with a brain that he was far too dangerous to leave in control of that strategic area of the world. That was a glimpse into a scorched-Earth policy so unlike the West has seen that the excuses were burnt up with the oil.

There were MANY other reasons why Iraq had to be taken down but this was the simplest and most direct one … and we all knew it in ’91.

progressoverpeace on July 19, 2008 at 1:01 PM

As long as we are concentrating on what a “VAST majority in both parties believe”, I suppose we should get going on that oil drilling right about now.

Bishop on July 19, 2008 at 1:04 PM

progressoverpeace on July 19, 2008 at 1:01 PM

I would just add that, while that threat was below the threshold for many, 9/11 caused us to lower the bar for threats that we would tolerate and, in that reassessment, the scorched-Earth threat of Saddam Hussein could no longer be tolerated. We ALL felt that, which is why so many Dems and the MSM are castigating themselves for having been for the war. It wasn’t until after Saddam was finally dragged away that the left started to feel secure enough, post-9/11 to start spouting their seditionist rhetoric again.

progressoverpeace on July 19, 2008 at 1:10 PM

We can also add the likes of Clinton, Gore, Daschle, Dodd, Torricelli, Graham, Kerry and Cleland to the list of people who saw war against Iraq might have to occur to curb the dangerous actions of Hussein.

Bishop on July 19, 2008 at 1:10 PM

Maliki wants the US troops out in the same time frame as Obamba. Maliki acknowleges that the US presence is not needed because they are now self sufficient. Sounds like the perfect time to work out a payback schedule for the 100s of billions of dollars and thousands of lives and casualties by our troops. The government of Iraq exists for one reason only. Maliki has a short memory.

volsense on July 19, 2008 at 1:15 PM

Maliki: Obama’s 16-month timetable sounds good

If we come to an agreement, it is not evidence of a defeat, but of a victory.

(But,) How about the 14-month timetable that Obama wanted to set (back) in January 2007

There has got to be a moral in all that someplace if only you can find it.

The moral seems to be that Maliki thinks that Obama was wrong before he was right and McCain and Bush were right before they were wrong, or Obama used to be wrong but now he is now right and McCain and Bush used to be right but now they are wrong.

MB4 on July 19, 2008 at 1:15 PM

The attitude of Bambi and the Dems about this reminds me of the attitude of Lenin and Trotsky about WW1 in 1917.

They think if they quit fighting, the war will be over.

misterpeasea on July 19, 2008 at 1:18 PM

Wanting to withdraw when the other side is gaining ground (as Obama did) is called surrender. Wanting to handle the post-victory mop-up by yourself (as an overconfident Maliki apparently does) is called stepping up to the plate.

RBMN on July 19, 2008 at 1:21 PM

Anyone notice the Spiegel interview has changed?

Hot Air and others are pointing out this part

SPIEGEL: Would you hazard a prediction as to when most of the US troops will finally leave Iraq?

Maliki: As soon as possible, as far as we’re concerned. US presidential candidate Barack Obama is right when he talks about 16 months. Assuming that positive developments continue, this is about the same time period that corresponds to our wishes.

But now you click on the link it reads

SPIEGEL: Would you hazard a prediction as to when most of the US troops will finally leave Iraq?

Maliki: As soon as possible, as far as we’re concerned. 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.

So..did everything just jump around, or did my brain just stroke off there for a second?

Ripclawe on July 19, 2008 at 1:24 PM

Care to explain why we were right to go to war? I’m fairly certain that a VAST majority in both parties believe that Iraq was an unnecessary war, and an all around cluster$%&*. Thats not even to mention the RIDICULOUSLY shady connections between companies standing to make billions and the people who chose to go to war. How was it “correct” again?

muyoso on July 19, 2008 at 12:52 PM

You’re joking.

Remember all the UN resolutions? Remember the WMD? Remember how all the Iraqi children were starving to death? Remember how we were spending millions of dollars a year for 12 years enforcing a no-fly zone? Remember all the state-sanctioned torture and rape? Remember how well the sanctions were working?

Of course the libs think it was unnecessary, they think any war is unnecessary, and every war in the history of mankind was unnecessary; except the neverending War on Poverty. There’s no way a majority of Republicans think it was unnecessary.

And the conduct of the war has not one single thing to do with whether the decision to wage war was right or not.

The “ridiculously shady connections” have even less to do with the rightness of the decision. Which shady connections were those, again? The eeevil Cheneyburton connections?

misterpeasea on July 19, 2008 at 1:25 PM

@ dalec on July 19, 2008 at 12:49 PM

Care to explain why we were right to go to war? I’m fairly certain that a VAST majority in both parties believe that Iraq was an unnecessary war, and an all around cluster$%&*. Thats not even to mention the RIDICULOUSLY shady connections between companies standing to make billions and the people who chose to go to war. How was it “correct” again?

muyoso on July 19, 2008 at 12:52 PM

I don’t believe Iraq was an unnecessary war. Care to site legitimate numbers of people on both sides who think it was? That is ones who have always thought it was and haven’t flipped flopped a dozen times according to how the fight was going? In case you hadn’t notice, ala Chris Matthews, the surge worked. Iraq is settling into its sovereignty. The troops in Iraq are bored and now wanting to go to Afghanistan. And what about the huge stockpile of yellow cake Saddam bought from Africa. I guess he was going to bake muffins with that. I know, Halliburton planted it there so they could go in and make lots of money. Good grief.

Glynn on July 19, 2008 at 1:28 PM

How was it “correct” again?

muyoso on July 19, 2008 at 12:52 PM

In addition to progressoverpeace’s on-the-nose points, don’t forget that Saddam had repeatedly violated the 1991 ceasefire agreement, as well as ignored 17 UN Resolutions regarding his WMD’s; if I remember correctly, the last resolution gave him one last chance to comply, and Hans Blix’s final report to the UN stated that Saddam would not or could not account for tens of thousands of liters of anthrax and other WMDs. This was not long after a relative handful of anthrax basically paralyzed the US for weeks. THAT is why the Democrats supported the invasion; only when things got rough did they develop their convenient amnesia regarding their previous positions. Those are your leaders, Muyoso. Physical and moral cowards.

Patrick S on July 19, 2008 at 1:32 PM

If the objective was have a dominant Western military presence in the heart of the Middle East, then leaving equals losing.

Kim Hartveld on July 19, 2008 at 1:35 PM

Those are your leaders, Muyoso. Physical and moral cowards.

Oh, well said! Bravo!

Glynn on July 19, 2008 at 1:43 PM

I would just add that, while that threat was below the threshold for many, 9/11 caused us to lower the bar for threats that we would tolerate and, in that reassessment, the scorched-Earth threat of Saddam Hussein could no longer be tolerated. We ALL felt that, which is why so many Dems and the MSM are castigating themselves for having been for the war. It wasn’t until after Saddam was finally dragged away that the left started to feel secure enough, post-9/11 to start spouting their seditionist rhetoric again.

progressoverpeace on July 19, 2008 at 1:10 PM

Exactly. I have never forgotten the cries of “Whatever it takes.” And I never will.

Glynn on July 19, 2008 at 1:47 PM

How was it “correct” again?

muyoso on July 19, 2008 at 12:52 PM

It was correct because … … … well because , because, because … … well it just has to be correct. Because we WON!!! Don’t ask what we won as that is not important.

If someone calls you on the phone and says that You’ve WON!!!, do you ask then what it is that you have won and how much it is going to cost you? Of course not.

MB4 on July 19, 2008 at 1:52 PM

MB4 on July 19, 2008 at 1:52 PM

You reveal yourself more and more.

baldilocks on July 19, 2008 at 1:58 PM

If the objective was have a dominant Western military presence in the heart of the Middle East, then leaving equals losing.

Kim Hartveld on July 19, 2008 at 1:35 PM

Point taken, but once the Iranian nuclear issue is resolved, the need for a permanent Western military presence becomes diminished. Maliki’s statement might be overconfident bravado for internal political consumption, but it, plus Bush’s diplomatic “listener” at the Iranian conference may also mean something is going to happen soon along that line. If not, I’m pretty sure Maliki doesn’t want to be sitting next to a nuclear armed Iran without U.S. support, unless he wants to be absorbed. I don’t understand why he wants to give Obama an electoral boost. Suicidal, if Iran continues down it’s path..

a capella on July 19, 2008 at 2:03 PM

As for DER SPIEGEL altering the quote – verrry interesting…

Please note that DER SPIEGEL has been an organ of the left for decades. Note even better the “Germany meets the Superstar!” cover of the issue in which this interview appeared. Must be seen to be believed.

http://www.spiegel.de/spiegel/inhalt/0,1518,ausg-4319,00.html

Be careful with all reporting from European papers and magazines on this trip.

CK MacLeod on July 19, 2008 at 2:04 PM

Obama isn’t going to flip on Iraq. He knows he’s flipped too much already. He’s going make it look as if Maliki is flipping to Obama’s view. And the media, with its “translations” may help him – at least for a time.

Maliki needs to looks as if he’s running his country and getting the foreigners out as soon as possible, even though he and every sensible Iraqi knows that Mookie and al Qaeda will come back, and it will be Basra whien the Brits left, but all over the country this time.

Wethal on July 19, 2008 at 2:08 PM

Those are your leaders, Muyoso. Physical and moral cowards.

Patrick S on July 19, 2008 at 1:32 PM

Then again, maybe his leader is Eisenhower.

Preventive war was an invention of Hitler. Frankly, I would not even listen to anyone seriously that came and talked about such a thing. When people speak to you about a preventive war, you tell them to go and fight it. May we never confuse honest dissent with disloyal subversion.
- Dwight D. Eisenhower, 5 star General and 34th President of the United States of America.

Or maybe Patton.

What is this all this $hit? My troops ordered to kiss that filthy Mein Kampf Koran? Nazism Islam is enshrined in their God damn constitution? What the #uck!!! My boys can’t even have a beer because it might offend some $hit head? #uck all that crap! [updated]
- General George S. Patton

MB4 on July 19, 2008 at 2:10 PM

Thanks Glynn. It is so easy for all of us to forget things, especially with so much new information coming, and the left takes full advantage of that. Patrick’s mention of the anthrax attacks is something that I would venture to guess most Americans wouldn’t even remember unless they were prompted. It was so strong an event (office buildings closed because of a ‘strange powder’, people running around in bio-suits …) and, yet, has fallen so far down the public memory hole. Very strange. With the security that Bush brought, the earlier memories got immediately repressed and many got to start from zero, where they find questions like, “Why were we right to go to war in Iraq?” It’s odd.

progressoverpeace on July 19, 2008 at 2:11 PM

People nitpick too much at these interviews. Sooner or later we will withdraw troops from Iraq. I think there will always be some troops there in some capacity, but not like this.

Just a couple of days ago Bush came out with a plan supported by Maliki to withdraw forces over time. He rejected specific dates, but that does not mean the withdrawal will not take place.

So now, Obama who has been touting a 14 to16 month withdrawal plan for about 2 years is finally getting closer to the mark. So what? Maliki predicated it on security gains etc.

Besides, he is facing an election too. Just like us and this guy might be president, so he is not going to make himself look weak or piss off Obama. However, he did support Bush’s plan.

Terrye on July 19, 2008 at 2:11 PM

I also like the title of the feature article – “US- Präsidentschaftsbewerber Barack Obama auf Wahlkampftour in Deutschland“: “US Presidential candidate on election campaign tour in Germany.” It’s like they think they have a vote, and they also don’t have the same problem that Obama-supporters in this country do about explaining the purpose of the trip. It’s an campaign gimmick – Schlusspunkt.

CK MacLeod on July 19, 2008 at 2:12 PM

16 months, from the time Obama would be inaugurated, would be sometime around April of ’09.

We seem to be on track for this to happen ANYWAY…With him, or without him.

In any event, bein’s; Donks do what they always do, they’ll be in a position to claim they were right all along.

And, they’ll get away with it…The way they always do.

franksalterego on July 19, 2008 at 2:14 PM

Maliki needs to looks as if he’s running his country and getting the foreigners out as soon as possible, even though he and every sensible Iraqi knows that Mookie and al Qaeda will come back, and it will be Basra whien the Brits left, but all over the country this time.

Wethal on July 19, 2008 at 2:08 PM

Well, if Obama wins the general election, he’ll then have to make a choice. It’ll reinforce why he was wrong. I wonder what Pelosi, Reid, and the Kos Kidz will say will say if real genocide starts.

a capella on July 19, 2008 at 2:15 PM

People nitpick too much at these interviews. Sooner or later we will withdraw troops from Iraq. I think there will always be some troops there in some capacity, but not like this.

Very true, but Obama is going to replay McCain’s “100 years” comment over, and over and over. McCain probably did mean something like a Korea, Italy, Germany presence in permanent bases, but Obama will twist it into sounding like the current troop levels will be maintained for 100 years.

Wethal on July 19, 2008 at 2:15 PM

And CK is right, watch out for these European translations. It always annoys me how American media just repeats whatever these guys say. Even Fox has the headline up.

Terrye on July 19, 2008 at 2:15 PM

a capella, they’ll “Blame Bush!” for the genocide.

Wethal on July 19, 2008 at 2:15 PM

You reveal yourself more and more.

baldilocks on July 19, 2008 at 1:58 PM

You said it.

Glynn on July 19, 2008 at 2:16 PM

Wethal:

Obama can replay it all he wants, but anyone who heard McCain knew what he was saying. Even most reporters admit that. And we forget that the Iraqis have no desire for all Americans to leave. They have never said that.

Terrye on July 19, 2008 at 2:17 PM

franksalterego on July 19, 2008 at 2:14 PM

Addendum/Correction….’09 should read ’10

franksalterego on July 19, 2008 at 2:17 PM

Maliki has really pissed me off on this Obama pandering. He knows what he’s doing and understands how the mainstream media will spin it. There were 100 ways to adequately answer the question, but he chose to give the media something to spin. Ungrateful jerk!

nottakingsides on July 19, 2008 at 2:22 PM

And we forget that the Iraqis have no desire for all Americans to leave. They have never said that.

Terrye on July 19, 2008 at 2:17 PM

Then, there is a disconnect between what the Iraqis want and what Maliki is saying. Either they want us gone or they don’t. Why would he be trying to get re-elected using a position to which his voters are opposed?

a capella on July 19, 2008 at 2:26 PM

a capella:

No, there is no disconnect. People are just trying to make things too simple. The Iraqis have always said and still say they want Americans there to help them rebuild their country. They want that kind of support. What they do not want for ever are American troops in their cities. Now, I think they are afraid of what will happen when we leave, but the idea that every American in Iraq is a combat soldier and they want all Americans out is not true. We will have a huge embassy there.

We have bases in countries like England and Italy, but they do not complain that we are occupying them. The problem is in these kinds of interviews the questions are put forward in too much of black and white fashion. Even Maliki said the conditions could still dictate changes.

If Obama wins {shudder} he will not take office until Jan. 2009. 16 months will be the middle of 2010. My guess is most of the forces will be out of there anyway.

Terrye on July 19, 2008 at 2:31 PM

You reveal yourself more and more.

baldilocks on July 19, 2008 at 1:58 PM

As what, some evil surrender monkey diabolical traitor plotting against America?

Which would be, of course, be on top of being an evil nativist diabolical traitor plotting against America del Norte of Grand Mexico.

Which would, of course, be still on top of being an evil global warming denier flat-earther diabolical traitor plotting against the entire planet.

All the same show, just under a different tent.

I guess I will be joining Mark Twain in Hell.

MB4 on July 19, 2008 at 2:35 PM

I don’t think it is fair to call Maliki an ungrateful jerk. He has thus far done something most people said could not be done. He went up against Sadr and the first reaction of the media was to call that move a defeat for Maliki and a victory for Sadr.

He agreed to a withdrawal plan with Bush just a few days ago. They did not include any specific dates, but the plan was designed to show progress toward an end to the war.

Maliki has to deal with the fact that Obama might win that election. Then he will have to deal with him.

Terrye on July 19, 2008 at 2:35 PM

Terrye, are Bush and Maliki going to have some kind of formal signing ceremony? It would be a good opporturnity for Bush (and Maliki) to clarify that the “time horizons” are contingent on continuing progress in Iraq, not on a set timetable.

Wethal on July 19, 2008 at 2:39 PM

Terrye on July 19, 2008 at 2:31 PM

That’s fine, but real life dictates that embassy and support staff can’t put down sectarian warfare when it breaks out and escalates, in fact they’ll be targets.

a capella on July 19, 2008 at 2:42 PM

a capella:

I never said they did. But then again the whole notion of winning the war in Iraq is based on the fact that we will not always have to be there to but down sectarian violence. And Maliki did make mention of the possible need for changes in that timetable and no doubt that is the kind of thing he is referring to.

What is he supposed to say? I mean really, the man is between a rock and a hard place. Is he supposed to say that he will never be able to provide security for his country? Is he supposed to say that if Obama wins he will quit his job as PM?

Terrye on July 19, 2008 at 2:47 PM

Wethal:

I do not know if there will be a signing ceremony. I wonder however, if this was one of the reasons Bush went ahead and tried to nail down a security agreement. If it is place and if the circumstances cntinue to improve the whole issue of Iraq might not be such a big deal come election time.

Terrye on July 19, 2008 at 2:49 PM

a capella on July 19, 2008 at 2:42 PM

Yep. I think you nailed it when you called Maliki over-confident. I’m just not sure if he’s more over-confident in the State of Iraq or in his chances of winning the post-US nightmare that will most probably erupt.

progressoverpeace on July 19, 2008 at 2:51 PM

Maliki said:

Assuming that positive developments continue, this is about the same time period that corresponds to our wishes.

That does not sound all that cocky. But then again, remember the culture we are dealing with here. Saving face is a very big deal.

Terrye on July 19, 2008 at 2:53 PM

I am sorry, but without Maliki we would not have been able to accomplish what we have. That does not mean that I am happy with anything he might say that Obama can use, but then again, I think we need to keep in mind that he has to see Obama as a potential Commander in Chief for American forces.

However horrific that thought might be to the rest of us.

Terrye on July 19, 2008 at 2:56 PM

Maliki has to deal with the fact that Obama might win that election. Then he will have to deal with him.

Terrye on July 19, 2008 at 2:35 PM

Exactly. In addition – again assuming that the Spiegel report is accurate to the word and spirit of Maliki’s actual statements – Maliki is establishing his own negotiating and political positions with several other actors, both within and without his own government (and his own country). As for the interview itself, its contest – aside from “Germany meets the Superstar” – was Maliki reaching out to the war-opposing, Iraq-skeptical Germans to upgrade investment and relations.

Many, many observers have in the past broken their teeth trying to chew on politician’s statements coming out of Iraq – and for little nutritional value.

CK MacLeod on July 19, 2008 at 3:03 PM

contest = context

CK MacLeod on July 19, 2008 at 3:03 PM

but without Maliki we would not have been able to accomplish what we have.

He better watch what he asks for. Despite recent successes, the iraqi military couldn’t have done it with the huge shadow of the US Military behind them. That presence disappears and iran will be trucking in fighters and sadr will take out his revenge personally on maliki.

peacenprosperity on July 19, 2008 at 3:07 PM

Terrye on July 19, 2008 at 2:53 PM

If you read through he updates up top, you’ll see that quote was removed in the second rendition, without acknowledgment to readers. I don’t know if it was doing of Maliki or the editors, but it removes the caveat that all must be positive before we leave.

a capella on July 19, 2008 at 3:08 PM

“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.”

If I was in Maliki’s shoes I would be keeping in mind what happened to Ngo Dinh Diem.

MB4 on July 19, 2008 at 3:09 PM

As what, some evil surrender monkey diabolical traitor plotting against America?

No. As a man who would rather sling virtual spittle than consider a different opinion.

baldilocks on July 19, 2008 at 3:10 PM

No. As a man who would rather sling virtual spittle than consider a different opinion.

Bingo.

The mere possibility of someone seeing things differently than he does is, dare I say?, alien to him. Everyone else is a fool, liar or illiterate.

End of debate (if we can call it that).

SteveMG on July 19, 2008 at 3:15 PM

CK MacLeod on July 19, 2008 at 3:03 PM

Point taken. Maliki may be getting the cart before the horse. It all comes down to whether tribal and sectarian ties in their military apparatus can withstand the seduction of outside meddling. If so, those investors Maliki wants will play ball. If not, he’s rolled the dice and lost, plus an Obama administration isn’t going to hop back in without the requisite moral agonizing.

a capella on July 19, 2008 at 3:20 PM

Then again, we should all consider the source. A leftist european newspaper conducts an interview that requires a translator. We probably shouldn’t get all worked up about something he may not even have said. And if we all really were concerned about truth in journalism we wouldn’t let the msm get away with what we let them get away with. A weaslly little leftist reporter from the ny times already began the process of crediting barry with ending the war on pbs this week and on the same show all the commentators insinuated that mccain is getting his talking points on the war from the White House.

peacenprosperity on July 19, 2008 at 3:21 PM

a capella:

I doubt that Maliki is responsible for what is that paper, after all he is the one who said it in the first place apparently.

The thing is Maliki is not responsible for the fact that the Democrats are about to nominate this arrogant, prissy, liberal two faced, flip flopping self serving Chicago politician for the Democratic nomination. Maliki is not responsible for the fact that the Democrats have been more than willing to leave them to face genocide alone. That is our political dynamic getting into the middle of a war.

In WW2, the Nazis knew that the Republicans would not cut them any slack even if they won. But today, our allies have to get caught in the middle of our political warfare.

Maliki did not say he hated Americans. He did not say they were not needed in Iraq right now. Did the paper change what he said later? Well yeah, and it might have changed what he said in the first place too.

Terrye on July 19, 2008 at 3:21 PM

That first sentence made no sense.

What I meant to say, is that in the original transcript Maliki said it was dependent on conditions. And then that was gone. Well, I doubt if the paper would have made that up in the first place. They did change it, that we know, but they would not have said it all unless Maliki had said it to begin with.

Terrye on July 19, 2008 at 3:25 PM

“Whoever is thinking about the shorter term is closer to reality. Artificially extending the stay of U.S. troops would cause problems.”

John McCain: What the hell does this Maliki fool know about Iraq? Has he talked to the commanders on the ground? When is the last time he has been to Iraq?

Joe Lieberman (whispering in McCain’s ear): John, you may want to rephrase that.

MB4 on July 19, 2008 at 3:28 PM

The slow-motion merge on positions continues, which I think will serve to keep Iraq/Afghanistan in at least the number 2 issue spot for voters with the economy as number 1.
We are looking at all parties now talking about near term troop reductions (with pauses to evaluate the conditions) and a need for more brigades in Afghanistan. The real political points to be scored are who was right when and most often, which is a mixed bag for both Obama and McCain. Maliki is definitely talking short-term timetable, but is framing it as due to victory. Mixed bag. It appears that Iraq’s inability to prosecute soldiers (no contractors were mentioned in the interview, but I imagine they are really problematic) is still a sticking point for a security agreement. He is saying troops need to leave, but they want a security agreement (rejecting the Germany comparison), but not without control over prosecuting troops for crimes. Mixed bag. Spinning over this will likely create tornadoes.

okonkolo on July 19, 2008 at 3:37 PM

Der Spiegel is in the Panzer for Obama.

Maquis on July 19, 2008 at 3:56 PM

Allah, you have to save the webpages BEFORE the underhanded and corrupt liberals can alter then to their liking when they’re called on their BULLCRAP.

SAVE THE WEBPAGE!!!!

BobUSMC on July 19, 2008 at 4:07 PM

I think that what Maliki is saying is soemthing like what McCain said the other day, the war is over. We won. We need to think about the next phase. He will not say that he wants combat troops to stay there forever no matter what he really thinks for the simple reason that it is about as politically viable as Gramm’s statement that Americans are whining too much.

But will all Americans leave? I don’t know, but I doubt it. We have bases all over the Middle East. Kuwait, Dubai, Bahrain, Qatar, and of course Afghanistan.

But the real issue here is sovereignty. Maliki has to look like a strong leader while at the same time not alienating either candidate.

And who is looking at the shorter time anyway? McCain did not say he would keep American troops in Iraq for 100 years, he said violence was the issue, not time. The truth is Bush might start bringing troops home before the election. We just don’t know.

Terrye on July 19, 2008 at 4:28 PM

Why on earth is everyone so eager to leave Iraq and the middle east when there is clearly MUCH work to be done there. What about the rest of the enemies we have there? Do we just forget about Syria and Iran? The fanatics in Jordon , Saudi Arabia, pakistan etc…

I say we leave when the madrasas are all shut down and a child can sing a song or draw a picture of a butterfly without being beat to death to save the “honor” of a murderous, hate mongering father.

Bfunky292 on July 19, 2008 at 4:32 PM

Why on earth is everyone so eager to leave Iraq and the middle east when there is clearly MUCH work to be done there.

The Lippmann Gap:

Foreign policy consists in bringing into balance, with a comfortable surplus of power in reserve, the nation’s commitments and the nation’s power. If this balance exists, the foreign policy will command domestic support. If commitments exceed power, insolvency results which generates deep political dissension.

Part of the power of a country is the people’s willingness to sacrifice for those commitments. It’s increasingly clear that the American people are unwilling to expend those resources and, so, our commitments must be lessened.

I’m not necessarily saing I agree with this; but I think it’s an accurate though very crude description of the country today.

SteveMG on July 19, 2008 at 4:39 PM

“Part of the power of a country is the people’s willingness to sacrifice for those commitments”

A larger part is ensuring the survival of it’s people by protecting it from threats at home and abroad.

A goverment RARELY consults the people before deciding that the time has come to mount an attack or defense.

Bfunky292 on July 19, 2008 at 4:42 PM

For some reason it isn’t cached, but you get a screen grab here to show that the original said what you first posted.

It was the eighth item down when I did the search.

RW_theoriginal on July 19, 2008 at 4:43 PM

Allah, you have to save the webpages BEFORE the underhanded and corrupt liberals can alter then to their liking when they’re called on their BULLCRAP.

SAVE THE WEBPAGE!!!!

BobUSMC on July 19, 2008 at 4:07 PM

Actually, for 3.5 Euros you can get the digital facsimile (rather than web) edition on-line. Good bet that it isn’t constantly updated and re-edited as much as a regular web page version. I’m tempted to spend it myself, but only if others confirm interest level 7 or higher on a scale of 1 to 10. That’s about where mine is.

If the hard copy version is out, someone with a good university library nearby might be able to get his or her greedy little hands on it. If anyone wants help translating the German, I’d be quite happy to provide it.

CK MacLeod on July 19, 2008 at 4:46 PM

It is all about semantics now.

A couple of weeks ago there was another story, that time out of the BBC. It required a correction on the part of the BBC later:

According to the BBC, the actual statement from the recording of his remarks that they listened to, was, “The direction is towards either a memorandum of understanding on their evacuation, or a memorandum of understanding on programming their presence.”

Programming their presence instead of programming their withdrawal was the literal translation of Maliki’s words and although no one has explained how or why the word was replaced by his office.

After it was widely reported, the statement was reinforced by National Security Adviser, Muwaffaq al-Rubaie, who later said that no agreement would be reached without a specific date for US troops to withdraw. That was said after Maliki’s words were misreported and after a meeting with the senior Shiite clerical eminence, Ayatollah Ali Sistani.

In statements following that al-Rubaie backtracked and said “timeline horizons, not specific dates”, and said that the timing of any withdrawal would depend on the readiness of the Iraqi security forces.

Iraqi leaders will no doubt continue to make ambiguous statements. And US presidential contenders will no doubt continue to construe them to their own advantage.

But when Mr Obama visits Baghdad, as he is expected to later this month, he is unlikely to find that the Iraqi government is quite as set on demanding deadlines for US withdrawal as he would like to think.

The issue is controversial coming up to both the American presidential election and the Iraq provincial elections, but the Iraq government understands that their security forces are not quite ready to stand on their own yet against the two serious key challenges that face them. One being “the Sunni radicals of al-Qaeda and related group” and the other being the “Shia militias which were partly suppressed in fierce battles this spring in Basra and Baghdad.”

As the BBC states the Iraqi leaders know that their survival depends on the U.S. forces supporting them until the Iraqi forces are capable of standing alone.

Terrye on July 19, 2008 at 4:47 PM

Did MalikiObama contact Spiegel and ask them to drop that part so that the quote would sound more assertive back home?

Maybe.

Big S on July 19, 2008 at 4:47 PM

A goverment RARELY consults the people before deciding that the time has come to mount an attack or defense.

Is this really true historically? For the US?

I can’t think of a single attack or defense of major proportions (not one or two day cruise missile launches) by this country where the people weren’t consulted (through their elected representatives) before going to war.

As the saying goes, armies don’t fight wars; nations fight wars. Or as Lincoln said, “With the support of the people anything is possible; without their support nothing is possible.”

SteveMG on July 19, 2008 at 4:48 PM

The basic idea, and I see it in headlines all the time is: The troops need to leave as soon as possible. The debate is over what that means.

Terrye on July 19, 2008 at 4:49 PM

D’oh! – been a long time since I used to pore through the SPIEGEL translating articles (ancient times before the intertubes): Of course most U.S. universities won’t have the current version even if it is out in Germany. But if one of our readers is in Deutschland or somewhere else where Der Spiegel is distributed, and if it is on the newstands already, that might do.

CK MacLeod on July 19, 2008 at 4:50 PM

Big S:

I doubt if Maliki did anything of the kind. He is a politician and the original version sounds more like something a pol would say. I think someone else did that. It will be intersting to see if there is a clarification of some kind in the future.

Terrye on July 19, 2008 at 4:51 PM

as Lincoln said, “With the support of the people anything is possible; without their support nothing is possible.”

Lincoln didn’t have the support of the people. If I recall he was the most hated president up to his day.

I don’t recall a single time in my lifetime that a sitting president or congress asked for a public vote on whether or not they should toss missiles at an enemy.

Bfunky292 on July 19, 2008 at 4:54 PM

Bfunky:

What do you mean by public support? A referendum or something. If the American people are tired of troops being in Iraq or anywhere else they will vote with their feet and go to the party that promises to change that. The idea that our government can just ignore public opinion forever is ludicrous.

And Abe Lincoln was in a set of circumstances the like of which no president has seen. It is not really a fair comparison.

Terrye on July 19, 2008 at 4:59 PM

I don’t recall a single time in my lifetime that a sitting president or congress asked for a public vote on whether or not they should toss missiles at an enemy.

Yes, but you are advocating much more than lobbing cruise missiles. I think?

Correct me if I’m wrong.

Again, rightly or not, I don’t think the American people will support the type of large-scale operation that you advocate.

I could be wrong. Perhaps the right President could convince them otherwise.

SteveMG on July 19, 2008 at 5:01 PM

I’m not the one calling for public support. I am saying that it is the job of the Pres, congress and military leaders to protect and defend regardless of whether or not the people like it at the time. War is never popular , I think that it was Woodrow wilson who won his second term on the platform that WWI was not our war. Months later we we’re in the war and eventually won it. If the leaders had read a poll and decided not to go to war cause the people didn’t wanna what would europe and the rest look like today.

Lincoln is absolutely a good comparison precisely because of the unpopular decisions he had to make and the fact that in hindsight he was right

Bfunky292 on July 19, 2008 at 5:06 PM

LOL.. all this quibbling over what Maliki actually said .. in Arabic I’m guessing.

I just saw an Obama supporter on TV swearing up and down that Maliki SAID THAT HE AGREES WITH OBAMA ABOUT THE WITHDRAWAL TIMELINE OF 16 MONTHS! Then he goes on to say that means that MALIKI DOESN’T AGREE WITH BUSH!!

Good grief!

I think the fact that the very GERMAN newspaper that conducted the interview has altered their online version of the actual interview indicates that what Maliki actually said is up to interpretation by the person translating Maliki’s words.

So who know what the chain of custody was for this translation?

From Maliki Arabic to Spiegel Arabic to Spiegel English?

From Maliki Arabic to Spiegel German to Spiegel Arabic to Spiegel English?

From Maliki Arabic to Speigel English?

In my past life, one of the things I had to do was referee between three different Spanish language translators on which version of Spanish was to be used to translate brochures from English. I’m pretty sure there are as many versions of Arabic as their are of Spanish.

Kind of reminds me of how my friend from Bulgaria sometimes refers to washing her teeth.

Texas Gal on July 19, 2008 at 5:11 PM

I’m advocating using whatever force it takes to solve a problem that effects the whole world and has for decades. I have young children and I’m not real interested in having them fight an enemy that we left behind.

We wouldn’t have watched hitler kill jews for 30+ years so why are we watching these monsters kill EVERYBODY?

Bfunky292 on July 19, 2008 at 5:14 PM

I’m not the one calling for public support. I am saying that it is the job of the Pres, congress and military leaders to protect and defend regardless of whether or not the people like it at the time

Sure, this is a representative democracy and not a pure or direct democracy. Our elected representatives are supposed to act in the best interests of the country and not just do what the electorate wishes.

But war is a entirely different matter, it seems to me. Nations fight wars and not just armies. That is, the people must be willing to endure the sacrifice and hardship of a conflict. If they are unwilling to endure that sacrifice, the war cannot continue.

It’s that simple.

The evidence for me – and I may be wrong – is that the American people will not support at this time the type of action that will lead us to going around the Islamic world and overturning hostile governments and uprooting radical Madrassas where young Muslims are taught hatred of non-followers.

And if they don’t support it, it can’t be done.

SteveMG on July 19, 2008 at 5:15 PM

My guess as to exactly what happened: After hearing the long term plan of the DOD for ’09, a Democrat on the Armed Services Committee told Obama to start saying that “He” would start pulling forces out of Iraq and sending them to Afghanistan so later in this year when “it” starts happening he can say that it was his idea and they are just doing what “the wise one” said should be done.

Bicyea on July 19, 2008 at 5:16 PM

SteveMG on July 19, 2008 at 5:15 PM

“The evidence for me – and I may be wrong – is that the American people will not support at this time the type of action that will lead us to going around the Islamic world and overturning hostile governments and uprooting radical Madrassas where young Muslims are taught hatred of non-followers.”

And untill it is put to a public vote I guess we will never know, but leadership is something other than waiting around and hoping something nice happens.

Bfunky292 on July 19, 2008 at 5:30 PM

And untill it is put to a public vote I guess we will never know, but leadership is something other than waiting around and hoping something nice happens./blockquote>

Agreed.

We’ll leave it (for now) on a good note.

SteveMG on July 19, 2008 at 5:32 PM

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