My Sunday Times column on the somewhat unfair predicament of the Republican nominee:
The overwhelming response among Americans to good news from Iraq is a simple question: can we come home now? With a hefty majority still believing the war was a mistake in the first place, the “success” of the surge is less a vindication of the entire enterprise than an opportunity to get the hell out with less blowback than previously feared. Moreover, the less chaotic the situation in Iraq, the easier it is for the Democrats to persuade Americans that the relatively inexperienced Barack Obama is not that big a risk as commander-in-chief.
Withdrawal the right way, moreover, plays to Obama’s strengths, not McCain’s. McCain is a superb fighter and underdog, a man who likes his conflicts clear and his wars epic. He takes strong moral stands and sticks with them. But what is now required is a deft and subtle assessment of future military needs, a hefty dose of canny diplomacy with Iran and Syria and an ability to retain the trust of Americans that an exit is both feasible and imminent. On all these, Obama is obviously a more pragmatic choice.
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