As you may recall, over the summer Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki embarrassed John McCain by endorsing Barack Obama’s call for a withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq by the end of 2010, thus rejecting the Bush/McCain position that such a timeline would constitute some form of surrender, appeasement, or other such disastrous measure. Maliki reiterated this stance several times, and then wound up in negotiations with the Bush administration. That process ended in a withdrawal timetable being set, thus essentially vindicating Obama, but Bush was able to save face by the fact that the end date was pushed back to 2011 — thus preventing it from being a complete ratification of what Obama had already proposed. But a source has alerted Think Progress to the fact that Maliki made the following statement (in Arabic, translation according to the Open Source Center) during an interview with Iraqi television:
Actually, the final date was really the end of 2010 and the period between the end of 2010 and the end of 2011 was for withdrawing the remaining troops from all of Iraq, but they asked for a change [in date] due to political circumstances related to the [U.S] domestic situation so it will not be said to the end of 2010 followed by one year for withdrawal but the end of 2011 as a final date.
In other words, Bush successfully pressured Maliki to push the withdrawal date back specifically in order to aid John McCain’s presidential campaign. Matt Duss wonders “What did McCain know about this, and when did he know it?” Good questions.