Sunday, July 20, 2008

Maliki's Comments Bring Out McCain's True Thoughts on Iraqi Sovereignty

If the Bush/McCain position on the American presence in Iraq showed signs of weakening earlier this week with the announcement of the made-up concept of a 'time horizon,' then Maliki's comments to Der Spiegel yesterday indicating that he'd like American forces out sooner rather than later signals that supporters of an indefinite US presence may be in their "last throes," to borrow a phrase. While most of the focus has been on the fact that Maliki endorsed Obama's position, even if he was unwilling to inject himself in the American elections (though the favor is unlikely to be returned), the most important aspect of the exchange to me is the absolute disdain McCain shows in his responses for Iraqi sovereignty.

McCain's response to all previous efforts of Maliki to assert his independence, whether regarding opposition to the Iraq SOFA or US troop withdrawals has been a mixture of indignation and an offensive against Iraqi sovereignty. At nearly every turn, McCain has said something along the lines of "Maliki's just a politician, so his comments can be dismissed." Of course, McCain is also a politician, but with the added bonus of currently seeking the highest elected office in his country. Still no word from McCain on dismissing his own statements as mere electioneering.

McCain sealed his opposition to Iraqi sovereignty with his response to the most recent revelations, saying "[Maliki’s] domestic politics require him to be for us getting out. The military says 'conditions based' and Maliki said 'conditions based' yesterday in the joint statement with Bush. Regardless, voters care about [the] military, not about Iraqi leaders." [This was a campaign official, not McCain himself.]

American voters may not care about Iraqi leaders, but American officials are under obligation to do so. The entire Iraq enterprise was premised on the fact that "we were doing the Iraqis a favor." To stand now in direct opposition to the wishes of the Iraqi government is to declare conclusively that the invasion was indeed an American economic and political operation from the start. Not that there was ever any real doubt, but the facade gets harder to maintain with each passing day.

The whole episode is proof positive of where America's commitment to democracy begins and ends. When Iraqi democracy serves as a pipeline to funnel oil money back to the West and a vehicle for supplying a playground for private contractors drunk with tax payer funds, it is a welcome addition to the world scene. When Iraqi democracy begins to serve as a vehicle for serving the will of the Iraqi people to the detriment of the public positions of American elected officials, it becomes disposable.

Much of the focus has been over the differences between the positions of Obama and McCain, but that sniping misses the real point. The only position that matters is that of the Iraqis. The US engaged in Iraq to bring them democracy, or so our leaders told us, now it's time for us to live up to our promises.


When a Guest Becomes a Squatter
, June 15
The Iraq 'Time Horizon,' July 18

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