I just got an email from an advocacy group about what they rightly term “The Elephant Still Very Much in the Room” — the fact that it was one month ago today that Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki said he wanted the United States to negotiate a timetable for withdrawing forces from Iraq that would have its endpoint somewhere in 2010. As readers will be aware, I favored taking steps along those lines before Maliki ever said he did and still think that would be the right thing to do even if Maliki were saying he wants an open-ended American presence. But I simply do not understand how the anti-timetable argument stays viable in the face of that particular turn in Iraqi politics, especially because Maliki’s main domestic opponents tend to be even firmer on their desire for an American withdrawal.
In a sane world, Maliki’s call would have transformed the Iraq debate in U.S. politics. But in part because it’s not a sane world and in part because of, I guess, tactical failures on the part of Democratic Party politicians it doesn’t seem to have done so yet. But really it was a huge deal that got some coverage at the time but still hasn’t had the sort of profound impact it deserves.