"Maliki is looking ahead, beyond the withdrawal of major U.S. combat forces, and toward the next stage: the long-term relationship between America and Iraq," Krauthammer writes, "With whom does he prefer to negotiate the status-of-forces agreement that will not be concluded during the Bush administration? Obama or McCain?"
Considering what Krauthammer tells us McCain would demand, Maliki's preference for Obama should come as no surprise:
McCain, like George Bush, envisions the United States seizing the fruits of victory from a bloody and costly war by establishing an extensive strategic relationship that would not only make the new Iraq a strong ally in the war on terror but would also provide the U.S. with the infrastructure and freedom of action to project American power regionally, as do U.S. forces in Germany, Japan and South Korea.
For example, we might want to retain an air base to deter Iran, protect regional allies and relieve our naval forces, which today carry much of the burden of protecting the Persian Gulf region, thus allowing redeployment elsewhere.
Krauthammer notes that "Any Iraqi leader would prefer a more pliant American negotiator because all countries -- we've seen this in Germany, Japan and South Korea -- want to maximize their own sovereign freedom of action while still retaining American protection." You know, he seems to be saying, they're all trying to rip us off or deny us a fair return on our investment. Which sounds strange, if that's the neocon opinion, since I thought they had us toppling tyrannies and liberating people out of some disinterested benevolence and a desire to see all people free. But obviously Iraq can be too free for some Americans' taste, and if Barack Obama seeks to facilitate that freedom, then he must be against American interests.
Someone should ask McCain if he endorses Krauthammer's view of the Iraq situation. His answer would prove quite enlightening. Whoever asks should also have McCain explain why anyone should celebrate the surge when its only purpose, even if you assume it to be a success, was to clean up a mess that the U.S. created? If Obama thinks the war was wrong in the first place -- and he ought to -- he's not going to find much to celebrate in the surge. If the Democrat wants to restore some of the distance between himself and the Republican in the polls, he ought to remind voters that the issue isn't the surge; it's the invasion that was the mistake that made the surge necessary. That wouldn't leave McCain much to be proud of.