In his interview with Der Spiegel, that part that really got my attention was not the implicit endorsement for Obama's 16-month timeframe, but a comment that directly slams McCain, the whole Republican Party, the pro-occupation faction and their media enablers. So far I have not seen this comment addressed in the mass media. Surprise, surprise.
I'm referring to the response after the one about the 16 months. After he said 16 months would be the right timeframe for withdrawal, der Spiegel continued,
SPIEGEL: Is this an endorsement for the US presidential election in November? Does Obama, who has no military background, ultimately have a better understanding of Iraq than war hero John McCain?
Maliki: Those who operate on the premise of short time periods in Iraq today are being more realistic.
Remind me again who's talking about short time periods again? Oh yeah...
Obama's talking about short time periods. All of us here at dKos have been talking about short time periods since the whole thing began. Al Sharpton talks about short time periods. Dennis Kucinich. And oh yeah - 70% of the American people are also operating on the premise of getting our boys and girls out of there as soon as we can.
But John McCain talks about a hundred year time periods. "Not till we can exit with victory and honor," whatever that means. George Dubya wouldn't even discuss the concept of a time period until just this last week.
So while media talking heads like Andrea Mitchell Greenspan and Bob Schieffer keep trying to tell us that John McCain has the advantage in being serious about Iraq, that nation's own prime minister begs to differ. In his view, not just Barack Obama, but Dennis Kucinich, Al Sharpton and the
fringe far-left anti-war crowd 70% of the American people who want out, are being more realistic than McCain, Bush and all the "serious people" in Washington.
I don't think this is a "mistranslation" either. In the grossly misleading and mis-lede-ed New York Times article on this Monday (link is to IHT copy), they has someone do an independent translation. Here's the relevant part of al-Maliki's responses:
The following is a direct translation from the Arabic of Maliki's comments by The Times: "Obama's remarks that — if he takes office — in 16 months he would withdraw the forces, we think that this period could increase or decrease a little, but that it could be suitable to end the presence of the forces in Iraq."
He continued: "Who wants to exit in a quicker way has a better assessment of the situation in Iraq."
So apparently Obama has a better assessment of the situation in Iraq than McCain, even having only been there once before. Which completely destroys any remaining rationale for voting forMcCain, or any Republican for that matter, if that meme were to become widespread.
Of course, around these parts we already knew that our side was (most of them anyway) way better than the GOP in terms of national security. The only thing the other side has is a long history of talking tough. But in recent years, 9/11, iraq, letting bin Laden escape from Tora Bora, Katrina, enslavement to foreign creditors and the evisceration of our manufacturing base should have been enough to get through to people. But of course on the other side you have the RWCM repeating the lie that the wrong wing is better on national security, loud enough, often enough that people continue to believe the Big Lie.
I recommend reading the whole Der Spiegel interview, if you haven't already. There are a number of interesting aspects. For one, as already noted by GregMitch earlier, al-Maliki is asked what's responsible for the remission in violence, and, contra the American media CW, doesn't mention the surge at all. (His response is really just spin itself, but spun for different reasons.) Oddly enough, one other media voice which noted the lack of credit to the surge is NRO, although on a second reading McCarthy seems to be trying to slam al-Maliki for this.
Maliki also does an artful dodge on the interviewer's question as to whether the war was worth it to take out Saddam, and refers repeatedly to their desire to get US troops out quickly. And of course to the problems with the status of forces agreements that prevent criminal activities by foreign personnel from being prosecuted.
Oh - one more thing comes to mind. When discussing Maliki's endorsement of withdrawal with your neighborhood wingnut, you might hear them say something along the lines of, "Maliki's just saying that to pander for domestic votes!" If they do, good. You've got them right where you want them. Your next line is, "So we can agree that the Iraqi people also want us to leave, then?"