The takeaway from the NY Times’ confirmation that, yes, Iraqi PM Maliki did say he supports Obama’s 16-month timetable for withdrawing most US troops from Iraq: Nouri al-Maliki now has it in his power to determine the outcome of the US presidential race. By calling for a rapid timetable for US withdrawal, he can essentially sink John McCain’s candidacy. What concessions might he now be demanding from the Bush administration in exchange for his forbearance from sinking the GOP?
It was instructive to watch the Bush administration leap into a frenzy of reactive spin control and pressure over the weekend to try to reassert control over Maliki. As is usual in these situations (think of the relationship between Nixon and Nguyen Van Thieu), a metaphysical question arises as to who is the puppetmaster and who is the puppet.
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