How far have the Democrats moved on Iraq? Joe Biden, the incoming Vice President, has demanded a partition of the country into three separate federal states, which no one else — especially not the Iraqis — want. Barack Obama, our next President, demanded a fixed-date withdrawal from Iraq during the primaries. Both men insisted that the surge would not bring any stability or decrease in violence to Iraq.
Now? Not so much:
Vice President-elect Joe Biden told Iraqi leaders Tuesday that the incoming U.S. administration is committed to a responsible troop withdrawal that does not endanger improvements in security, an Iraqi spokesman said.
Biden delivered the message in talks with Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki on the second day of his visit to Iraq, government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh told The Associated Press.
President-elect Barack Obama pledged during his election campaign to withdraw all American combat troops from Iraq within 16 months of taking office and shift the focus to Afghanistan to combat a resurgent Taliban and al-Qaida-linked militants.
Since the November election, however, the U.S. and Iraq have signed a new security agreement that provides for all the more than 140,000 U.S. troops to leave by 2012, despite concerns among senior U.S. commanders that Iraqi forces might not be ready by then to ensure stability. …
“He [Biden] said that Obama is committed to withdraw but he wants the withdrawal to be a responsible one. Obama does not want to waste the security gains that have been achieved,” al-Dabbagh said.
Hmmm. What security gains could Biden mean? The gains made by US troops under David Petraeus and the surge? That couldn’t possibly be what Biden means. After all, Bush’s tenacity in defeating the terrorists and giving Iraq a chance to stand on its own was doomed to failure. Harry Reid already surrendered, as Biden should remember.
I’m curious as to whether Biden mentioned his plan to divide up Iraq into easily-digestible segments for radical terrorists to Nouri al-Maliki. Biden was already unpopular in Iraq over this inexplicably obtuse plan, which Sam Brownback also championed during the Republican primaries. That’s never stopped Biden before from demanding that his opinions get heard even when ridiculous, but perhaps he’s learned a lesson — or maybe Obama told him to forget the partition plan.
All snark aside, Biden’s statements sound somewhat optimistic for those of us who want to see Iraq succeed over the next several years. It’s a definite retreat from fixed-timetable withdrawals, although that’s less of an issue now that Iraq has mostly gotten control of its own territory. They’ll still need plenty of air and naval assistance for at least a decade, and the SOFA has enough flexibility for Obama and Maliki to adjust American military levels to suit the situation. The Left will have a fit, but Biden’s signaling that Obama intends to make use of that flexibility, and that’s a good thing for both Iraq and the US. (via Q&O)