Feature

What Iraq did for Obama

Who wins in the Iraq-U.S. pact for U.S. troops to leave by 2012?

Iraq’s cabinet approved a U.S. status of forces agreement (SOFA) under which U.S. forces will be out of cities and towns by next summer, said Kevin Drum in Mother Jones online, and out of Iraq by the end of 2011. The Iraqi Parliament will probably ratify the deal fairly quickly. This is good for Iraq, good for President Bush—Barack Obama would have negotiated a quicker withdrawal—and good for Obama, as it makes withdrawal “into a bipartisan agreement.”

If Obama does benefit, said Paul Mirengoff in Power Line, it’ll be “thanks to the policies McCain insisted upon, Bush implemented, and Obama opposed.” Obama could still mess it up by withdrawing all troops in 16 months, as he has pledged, rather than as “the situation on the ground” dictates. But “if Obama has any sense, and I think he does,” he won’t do that.

This is “great news for Obama” regardless of what happens, said Andrew Sullivan in The Atlantic online. When U.S. troops leave, expect “chaos and mass murder.” But it was Iraq that insisted that this “fixed timetable be set in stone,” so their “civil war” will be their “responsibility and Bush’s ultimate legacy in Iraq.” Obama will be blameless, and “he will focus on the economy. Genius.”

The U.S. has too much to lose if Iraq falls into chaos, said Abe Greenwald in Commentary online. And “as long as President Obama doesn’t commit foreign policy suicide” by pulling out too soon—no matter how hard “disgruntled liberals may rail him” for staying the course—he could leave Iraq better than we found it.

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