I have not been posting much about Iraq of late, mostly because I guess our news media seems to have tired of the issue. But Senator Obama is in Iraq and has met with the Iraqi government. I have been trying to figure out lately what Obama's view on Iraq is and after today, it seems he is firmly behind a 16 month timetable for withdrawal. Which makes sense, given that over the past few months, the situation in the country seems to have gotten better. Even Sunni dominated Anbar province, which was written off a few years ago, is soon to be handed over to the Iraqi government's security forces (the hand off was delayed due to sandstorms).
If Michael Yon is to be believed, the Iraqi War is essentially over. While Yon probably knows more about the situation in Iraq than 99% of non-Iraqis, I will wait a bit before agreeing with him (though I hope he is right).
For that reason, Senator Obama may have an opening. While a 16 month draw down may not go over well with his left wing base, it shows that he is able to adjust with changed circumstances. Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki was quoted in Der Spiegel as agreeing with Obama's plan, though CNN reported that Maliki claims he was misquoted so I am not sure what to believe. Translation errors do happen or it could have been a journalist reporting what he wanted to hear or maybe Maliki rethought what he said or who knows.
By rejecting a timetable, the Bush Administration and Senator McCain may be harming their cause. This was never supposed to be about annexing territory (and please leave your oil fueled conspiracy theories behind, while I do not doubt Iraq was important because of oil, I also believe there were other reasons for the invasion). While the Iraqi government has made great strides over the past year or two, they must be continuously pushed into the right direction -- i.e., taking over responsibility for their own country. If the US military has an open ended mission there, they may be happy to have the US fight their enemies.
And while the change in tactics seems to have worked, the real question needs to be asked -- what took so long?
In any event, a KFC has opened in Fallujah. It seems that means it should be over soon. The question of whether it was all worth it will take longer to determine. If past history is any guide, there will be an official story, followed by a conventional story, followed 40 years of revisionism.