Earlier this month, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki signaled support for a 16-month U.S. withdrawal from Iraq. In response, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) rejected Maliki’s call, disparaging the comments as the political rhetoric of “Iraqi leaders.”
Interviewed yesterday by PBS’s Charlie Rose, however, Brookings Institution analyst and Iraq war cheerleader Ken Pollack suggested that Maliki, Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL), and McCain all have a similar vision of the future U.S. troop presence. McCain’s timeline for withdrawal is “pretty close” to Obama’s and Maliki’s, Pollack claimed:
Well, I actually think his timeline, Obama’s timeline, even McCain’s timeline are actually pretty close. Now that’s what you’ve seen over the last 18 months, that we’re now really debating months, maybe years, but really just months. Mr. McCain is basically saying he’ll start some kind of a drawdown in 2011, 2012. Mr. Obama is saying it’d be more like 2009, 2010. And what Maliki seems to be saying is 2010, 2011 — somewhere in the middle.
It is wholly inaccurate to claim McCain’s “timeline” is “pretty close” to the others. Obama has proposed a 16-month timeline for withdrawal from Iraq. Similarly, Iraqi government spokesperson Ali Al-Dabbagh said the government wants U.S. troops out by 2010.
In contrast, McCain rejects timelines for withdrawal and regularly lambastes the idea. He has vaguely claimed that the U.S. will leave Iraq “with victory.” In May, McCain said the war could be over by 2013, but in January, he said notoriously multiple times that U.S. troops could stay in Iraq for “maybe a hundred” years.