Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Iraq War extended for Political Reasons

Maddow: Bush extending Iraq war for political reasons
09/24/2008 @ 9:23 am
Filed by David Edwards and Muriel Kane

The 2008 president campaign has been marked by continuing arguments between the parties over the most appropriate timetable for withdrawing troops from Iraq, but it has never been clear how the Bush administration had established its own proposed schedule.

However, according to MSNBC's Rachel Maddow, "We suddenly have got a lot more clarity about Iraq right now than we've had in a really, really long time."

Maddow cited an interview with Iraqi Prime Minister Maliki, conducted last week by Iraqi state television, during which "he said when he was negotiating with the Bush administration to pick a withdrawal date for our troops to come home, they initially settled on about 15 months from now, the end of 2010. But then ... the Bush administration came back and told the Iraqis they'd actually like our troops to stay in Iraq an extra year, through 2011 ... 'due to political circumstances related to the US domestic situation.'"

"So the prime minister of Iraq says on tape," Maddow summarized, "according to our own government's translation, that the Bush administration wants to prolong the war in Iraq for an extra year because of our domestic politics."

"If you feel like your hair is on fire right now," she added, "you're not alone."

When contacted by the Maddow Show, a White House spokesperson replied with familiar rhetoric, saying, "We do not have anything to announce on that. ... What we're really pleased about is the fact that we're having these discussions. ... Any decisions on troops will be based on the conditions on the ground."

"If you're keeping track at home, you're right," Maddow commented. "They are not directly denying what the Iraqi prime minister said -- which is incredible."

It was reported in early August that "Iraq and the United States are close to reaching a deal under which U.S. combat troops would leave by December 2010 and the rest would leave by the end of 2011, two Iraqi officials said Thursday. ... Two senior U.S. officials said negotiators have made progress and are close to a deal. But they also said that some issues are unresolved and that troop withdrawals would be tied to conditions on the ground."

By the end of August, however, Maliki's demands for a complete US withdrawal by 2011 were being described as "an attempt to extract further concessions from American officials, less than a week after both sides said they had agreed to remove all U.S. combat troops by the end of 2011, if the security situation remained relatively stable, but leave other American forces in place."

Maliki's latest remarks appear to be a referecne to this shift in the timetable. He told Iraqi tv, "They asked for a change (in date) due to political circumstances related to the domestic situation (in the US) so it will not be said to the end of 2010 followed by one year for withdrawal but the end of 2011 as a final date."

"The Republicans are convinced that keeping the war going is good for them politically," continued Maddow. "I think it's a political stinker. I think there's a reason why the tape you've seen over and over and over again of John McCain promising to stay 100 years in Iraq -- that's the tape that turns up in pro-Obama ads, not pro-McCain ads."

"So why are the Republicans invested in our troops staying and staying and staying and staying?" Maddow wondered. She suggested it might be significant that this Monday, for the first time since Iraq kicked out the foreign oil companies in 197, "a Western oil company opened up an office in Iraq. In a sobering reminder of the dangers of doing business in Baghdad, the company is not disclosing the location of its office."

"If you're looking for a mission to proclaim 'accomplished' in Iraq, there you have it," concluded Maddow. "This is the kind of 'accomplishment' that will keep our troops there longer."

This video is from MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show, broadcast September 23, 2008.

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