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Gareth Porter reminds us that this isn't the first time Nouri al-Maliki has tried to get the Bush administration to agree to a timeline for withdrawing from Iraq, writing about a summer 2006 episode that the Bush administration tried, successfully, to walk back. Jim Henley wonders if Bush could have saved the GOP's electoral prospects by just agreeing to what, at the time, pretty much all the major Iraqi factions were looking for. It's a bit hard to say, but it's just incredibly saddening to think of the fairly large number of decent opportunities to extricate ourselves from Iraq that were passed up in 2005 and early 2006 -- what if we'd followed up the famous 2005 "purple finger" elections with a negotiated plan to withdraw forces from the country? -- in the name of Bush's imperial dreams.

DoD photo by Pfc. Sarah De Boise, U.S. Army.

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