|"I'm all in..."|
Back in April, 2007, Junior was babbling away with Charlie Rose about, among other things, the Iraq war and occupation. At one point in the interview, Junior implied that US forces were in Iraq with the consent of the Iraqi government and that, if that consent were withdrawn, Junior himself would begin the pullout of American military personnel. Here's the exchange:
ROSE: But if he said get out now, we don’t want you anymore–
BUSH: I don’t see how we could stay. It is his country.
ROSE: But if he said that, it would lead to the catastrophe that you have suggested.
BUSH: That’s why he’s not going to say it.
ROSE: You don’t think he’ll say it?
BUSH: I don’t. No, I don’t.
Perhaps this was an effort to lend credence to the al-Maliki regime, which was installed after several previous failed attempts at establishing a puppet regime. I remember laughing off these remarks as malarkey at the time. Yeah, sure, Junior...you'll just pack up and go, won't you?
Well, apparently al-Maliki watches the Charlie Rose show. On July 7th, two days ago, while visiting the United Arab Emirates, he spoke to a group of Arab ambassadors, saying
"Today, we are looking at the necessity of terminating the foreign presence on Iraqi lands and restoring full sovereignty."And also,
"One of the two basic topics is either to have a memorandum of understanding for the departure of forces or a memorandum of understanding to set a timetable for the presence of the forces, so that we know (their presence) will end in a specific time."These remarks come as the Iraqi government is engaged in "security negotiations" with the United States, which one can only assume hinge around the continuing presence of a US occupation force.
The White House seemed to be caught flat-footed by the remarks. It took a full news-cycle to formulate a response. The delay is surprising, given that when they finally responded, said response was entirely predictable: they rejected the idea of a timetable for withdrawal. Said State Department spokesman Gonzalo Gallegos:
"The US government and the government of Iraq are in agreement that we, the US government, we want to withdraw, we will withdraw. However, that decision will be conditions-based."In other words: Not until we're damned well good and ready. The White House rejection of al-Maliki's remarks lend the lie to Junior's year-old verbal spew, but at this point no one expects any truth from the Bush administration.
The real news here is that Al-Maliki is revealing himself to be a cagey player. He doesn't seem willing to play the part that Junior and company have cast for him. And who can blame him? Anybody that would take that job had better have superb survival instincts, not just politically, but physically. His life is on the line.