DeLong Smackdown Watch: Tim Duy Edition
Political Liberalism

Spencer Ackerman on Iraqi Prime Minister Maliki's Endorsement of Obama's Iraq Withdrawal Plan

Ackerman is shrill:

ATTACKERMAN » Fight War, Not Wars: Last fall was really the high-water mark for the surge in terms of public opinion.... [P]olling data -- too lazy to Google that now -- never actually reflected a shift in favor of the war again, but the surge did a good-enough convincing elite opinion to consider the surge a success outside the context of the larger war. Nevertheless, the electoral picture still clearly favored a Democratic president and a Democratic Congress, both of whom would be elected on a platform of ending the war if they were to be elected at all. Bush's answer was to declare that he and Maliki had agreed on an enduring U.S. troop presence.... The surge had worked so well, in other words, that its just reward was the ownership of Iraq....

That was only the first phase of White House overreach. Immediately, the administration announced that it would not submit its long-term occupation deal to Senate approval nor Congressional oversight.... In order to serve the legal fiction that the permanent-occupation deal wasn't a treaty -- which the Senate must approve -- the administration said that "friendship and cooperation" meant that the U.S. wouldn't even come to the defense of the Iraqi government if attacked (too treaty-esque), which didn't exactly sit well with the members of that government. Even before negotiations began in earnest, the Bush administration succeeded in offending Congress and the Iraqi government.

When those negotiations began, the U.S. reportedly presented the Iraqis with terms so breathtaking that they'd embarrass Lord Curzon. Bush wanted unilateral control of Iraqi airspace; legal immunity for all U.S. troops and contractors; the unilateral right to arrest and detain any Iraqis his commanders desired, and for unspecified periods; and several military bases. When Maliki indicated discomfort over acting like Gaius Baltar on Occupied New Caprica, Bush gave another indication of his "friendship and cooperation" -- blackmail.

All this came in a political context that Bush was either unattentive to or dismissive of. Despite spotty media coverage in the U.S., the deal prompted a massive backlash in Iraq, where basically every organized political force not part of Maliki's government rejected it.... Maliki has read the tea leaves and evidently realized what the rest of us considered obvious: that the only one demanding that he turn Iraq to permanent foreign domination is a president thoroughly discredited in his own country who'll be out of office in a few months....

And so Maliki flip-flopped.... He has forced George Bush to accept what Bush and McCain has said for years would lead to doom, ruin, humiliation, catastrophe -- a euphemistic "time horizon" for withdrawal.... [O]nce again Bush's attempt at denying reality only creates a trap for McCain. If McCain embraces the time-horizons, he shatters his own previous argument that such a thing will bring national ruin and indicates a certain moral and strategic turpitude on the part of its advocates. His only solution is to magically pretend that Bush's move isn't politically motivated and hope no one laughs at him. But now... Reuters reports that Maliki has embraced Obama's 16-month withdrawal plan.

The Iraq war is and has always been... a filthy lie born of avarice and lust for power masquerading as virtue.... [N]ow [Bush] is impotent, unable to impose his will, and the nakedness of his attempted imposition has led the American and the Iraqi peoples to wake up and end his nightmare. May his war-crimes prosecutor be Iraqi; may his judge be American; and may he die in the Hague.