In Version 1 of the argument over whether or not the United States should embrace the Bush/McCain vision of a neoimperial relationship with Iraq, the tendency on the right was to simply deny that this was what they were proposing. The Iraqis, you see, really wanted to be part of an American imperium. Thus in that sense it’s good to see Charles Krauthammer’s demented column in reaction to Maliki’s endorsement of a timeline for withdrawal.
Now Krauthammer is willing to more-or-less squarely put the issue on the table — he wants an imperial relationship with Iraq, Bush wants an imperial relationship with Iraq, and McCain wants an imperial relationship with Iraq, but Iraqis don’t and thus Maliki prefers Obama, the American candidate who doesn’t favor an imperial relationship with Iraq. Of course Krauthammer doesn’t quite put it that way, but that’s what he’s saying — we ought to vote for McCain because McCain will do a better job of strong-arming the Iraqis into accepting a relationship they find repugnant. The trouble here is that any such strong-arming only guarantees that we’ll prolong the Iraq operation. Newfound allies, for example, who decided to side with us against al-Qaeda may think again if they decide that U.S. policy is being animated by the Krauthammer-style sentiments. And across the Arab world, everyone’s worst impressions of American power will be reconfirmed. And for what? To mitigate political risk for western oil companies? To provide a convenient base of operations for attacks on Iran that we shouldn’t launch anyway?