Setting the Record Straight

July 22, 2008

Sunset, End, Finis, Adios

Iraq: Time For a Vision of The Horizon

     With the Iraq War, when is a timetable for U.S. withdrawal a sched-ule? When is it a “time horizon?” When a “vision?”
     All these acrobatics with the English language come because it is an election year in the United States and possibly a watershed year in Iraq. The Bush White House does not want to show any inkling of agreement with Democrat Barack Obama’s plan for withdrawal of U.S. combat troops. But Bush is under pressure to see an end to the war and put a renewed emphasis on the war in Afghanistan. So, the White House settled on “time horizon” as the only acceptable way to describe changing troop numbers in Iraq.
     Some wag pointed out that the trouble with a horizon is, as you try to get closer, it stays the same distance away, unattainable.
     Under pressure from the administration, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki had his spokesman explain that, in seeming to support Obama’s idea, Maliki was not subscribing to a specific timetable a la Obama, but working on a “vision” of withdrawal by the end of the year 2010.
     That would not coincide exactly with Obama’s plan, but it is in the ballpark. And it sounds like a timetable to me.
     Republican John McCain’s vision is that the U.S. commitment in Iraq is long-term and indefinite. McCain says any talk of withdrawal should be based on conditions “on the ground,” which can mean anything from quelling the insurgency to restoring critical infrastructure to forming a stable coalition government.
     Considering that the United States is going to have its largest em-bassy in the world in Baghdad, American antiwar activists suspect the Bush administration is trying to make conditions “on the ground” support a very long-term American presence in Iraq.
     McCain is saying that the troop surge in Iraq, which McCain sup-ported, has succeeded enough to give Obama the debating room to suggest a specific pullout. McCain’s commitment to a long-term U.S. force struggles against the polls that show more Americans than not consider the Iraq War a morass that they want to pull out of.





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