The real question in Iraq right now is not the pace and level of withdrawal under either successor to George W. Bush; it's the nature of the US presence going forward. A temporary presence to help Iraq move past the Saddam era? Or a permanent province of an open-ended Middle Eastern occupation? We know what the neocons want. But this is disturbing:

The US is holding hostage some $50bn (£25bn) of Iraq's money in the Federal Reserve Bank of New York to pressure the Iraqi government into signing an agreement seen by many Iraqis as prolonging the US occupation indefinitely, according to information leaked to The Independent...

US negotiators are using the existence of $20bn in outstanding court judgments against Iraq in the US, to pressure their Iraqi counterparts into accepting the terms of the military deal, details of which were reported for the first time in this newspaper yesterday.

Obama needs to get this issue into the campaign. Where does McCain stand? And where do Americans?

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