Per the AP:
Iraq's national security adviser said Tuesday his country will not accept any security deal with the United States unless it contains specific dates for the withdrawal of U.S.-led forces.
The comments by Mouwaffak al-Rubaie were the strongest yet by an Iraqi official about the deal now under negotiation with U.S. officials. They came a day after Iraq's prime minister first said publicly that he expects the pending troop deal with the United States to have some type of timetable for withdrawal.
President Bush has said he opposes a timetable. The White House said Monday it did not believe Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki was proposing a rigid timeline for U.S. troop withdrawals.
It is looking more and more like the Iraqis won't agree to a security deal without a date certain. The White House seems to be balking. This is great news for a few reasons.
Per the State Department:
"The U.S. government and the government of Iraq are in agreement that we, the U.S. government, we want to withdraw, we will withdraw. However, that decision will be conditions-based," said U.S. State Department spokesman Gonzalo Gallegos.
It hasn't really hardened yet, but the two sides appear to be digging in some. If this really does become an open confrontation then Senator McCain will be in a murderously tough position and Senator Obama will be in a fantastic spot. President Bush once said:
"We are there at the invitation of the Iraqi government. This is a sovereign nation. Twelve million people went to the polls to approve a constitution. It's their government's choice,’’ the president said during a Rose Garden news conference. "If they were to say leave, we would leave."
If he backs off of that there will be hell to pay, both with the Iraqis and with us here at home. Senator Obama could very easily pounce on this by saying something to the effect of "I'm all for a graceful and careful phased withdrawal, but if the Iraqis want us gone by a certain feasible date, well, then that's that." If he goes there then Senator McCain has to either agree with him or flat out insist on a hostile occupation against the stated position of the sovereign state of Iraq.
The smartest thing that President Bush could possibly do is to declare victory because the Iraqi state is finally ready to stand on its own (which he would not believe) and spin it as best he could. I doubt he's that smart, especially in light of the fact that the big oil companies have thus far been unable to negotiate the contracts they want with the Iraqi government (the oil companies want oil revenue sharing while the Iraqis want to pay them a fixed amount for services rendered).
Oh, and it gets our boys and girls home faster. That's absolutely fantastic. This is a win-win from every angle I can see, so long as the Iraqis can hold it together once we're gone.