It's an interesting editorial. One meme on the neocon right is that an Obama presidency will immediately mean "surrender" in Iraq. But this argument runs logically against another neocon meme: we're winning! So the WSJ moves the two arguments closer today, by declaring that Maliki's public noises about a withdrawal timetable are merely further evidence that our job is done, that Bush is a world-historical visionary, etc etc. But we still have to stay for the rest of our lifetimes:
Inside Iraq, a significant long-term U.S. presence would also increase the confidence of Iraq's various factions to make political compromises. And outside, it would improve regional stability by giving the U.S. a presence in the heart of the Middle East that would deter foreign adventurism. This is the kind of strategic benefit that the next Administration should try to consolidate in Iraq after the hard-earned progress of the last year.
Translation: We're winnng, so we can stay for ever. The US presence should be "significant" and "long-term". This, I think, is McCain's position. But the WSJ's rationale for keeping foreign troops in a sovereign country thousands of miles away for ever is the most priceless sentence. The whole point is to "deter foreign adventurism." Just not by the United States.
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