Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki supposed said in an interview with the German magazine Der Spiegel.
"U.S. presidential candidate Barack Obama talks about 16 months," he said in an interview with Der Spiegel that was released Saturday.But he also purportedly doesn't like the idea that people are interpreting that as tantamount to an endorsement of Barack Obama. A spokesman said his remarks "were misunderstood, mistranslated and not conveyed accurately." I'm assuming he spoke in Arabic, and the Arabic was translated into German by Der Spiegel and then retranslated into English. There's a lot you can do with a subtle statement that you get to translate twice and the temptation to influence the American election is so strong. I assume al-Maliki himself has his preference, much as he may cloak it, but surely, so does Der Spiegel and the various translators.
"That, we think, would be the right time frame for a withdrawal, with the possibility of slight changes."
Kevin Drum says:
This is, obviously, bad news for John McCain. As Joe Klein says, McCain's original support of the surge, which is his main talking point on Iraq policy, "is a small, tactical truth too complicated to be understood by most Americans. Maliki Endorses Obama Withdrawal Plan is a headline everyone can understand."He's combining 2 quite different things: 1. Whether the press will "decide that this means Obama has shown good judgment and good instincts in foreign affairs." Haven't they pre-decided that Obama is right about things? 2. How the press will write up the stories, i.e., how much they will let it show that they prefer Obama.
True enough, but only if that's the headline the U.S. media actually decides on. Unfortunately, we're in sort of a fluid phase right now in which the press seems unsure of what narrative to adopt on the current state of American foreign policy. Consider: (a) negotiations with North Korea have recently started paying off, (b) we sent a U.S. diplomat to talk with Iran over the weekend and are apparently thinking about opening an interests section in Tehran, (c) the security situation in Afghanistan is deteriorating, leading to calls for an increased troop presence, and (d) Maliki has endorsed the idea of a 16-month withdrawal timeline from Iraq. All of these are directions that Obama has endorsed for some time.
So does the press decide that this means Obama has shown good judgment and good instincts in foreign affairs? That seems like it would be the most reasonable interpretation, but alternatively the press could decide that what this really means is that there are now very few differences between Obama and McCain on foreign policy — without implying any judgment about who was right and who was wrong. That's a stretch, but it would be nice and faux-neutral, something that appeals to reporters.
Allahpundit notes McCain's response:
McCain’s team put out a statement tonight, too. Quote:In this view it doesn't matter so much that "there are now very few differences between Obama and McCain on foreign policy."Let’s be clear, the only reason that the conversation about reducing troop levels in Iraq is happening is because John McCain challenged the failed Rumsfield-strategy in Iraq and argued for the surge strategy that is responsible for the successes we’ve achieved and which Barack Obama opposed. Unlike Barack Obama, John McCain has never ignored the facts on the ground in Iraq, he’s never avoided the warzone before proposing new strategy, and he’s never voted against funding our troops in the field. If John McCain was following Barack Obama’s lead on foreign policy, the United States would have already withdrawn from Iraq in a humiliating defeat at the hands of al Qaeda.Quite so, although I’d have re-written that as, “If John McCain and Nuri al-Maliki were following Barack Obama’s lead…” Barry O’s accomplished the foreign policy masterstroke here of screaming for withdrawal year after year when it would have been a horrific idea and now, with the jihadis and militias finally subdued to the point where it at least wouldn’t be disastrous, he wants credit for having been ahead of the curve. You truly are a visionary, Messiah.