Max Boot: Maliki's Bluffing

That's the neoconservative position, and they'd better be right for their own sake:

They are blustering about the need to withdraw U.S. troops - eventually. But note that, unlike Barack Obama, they are not attaching any timelines to this withdrawal. Certainly they are not calling for U.S. troops to be gone by 2010, a pledge that the Democratic candidate once made and hasn't quite renounced.

Well, Max is right about 2010:

"It can be 2011 or 2012," [Iraqi government spokesman, Ali] al-Dabbagh said. "We don't have a specific date in mind, but we need to agree on the principle of setting a deadline."

Here's Boot's bottom line:

U.S. forces will need to remain in Iraq for years to nurture this embattled democracy--and not so incidentally to protect our own interests in the region.

Not so incidentally? The Iraq war was not sold on the basis of protecting US interests in the region. It was sold on protecting us from a massively over-stated threat, and then to allow for a post-Saddam democracy of sorts. If the Iraqis ask us to leave, we have no business staying. And posts like Boot's today can only reinforce suspicions that the real motive for invading Iraq was rather different - not incidentally - from that given at the time.