I've been stewing over something really lousy that Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has been saying since June 20: that Iraqis have won a "great victory" over the "foreign presence in Iraq."
That "great victory," as he calls it, is the June 30 withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq's cities. That "foreign presence," as he calls it, is the United States -- the thousands of mainly young American men who have fought a vicious enemy under the harshest conditions for more than six long years, with 4,321 Americans killed, many thousands wounded, often grievously so, and some small, tortured number wrongfully ensnared by the U.S. military justice system in apparent deference to Iraqi political considerations.
"Ingrate" doesn't begin to describe this al-Maliki creep -- or, as all too many conservatives and Bush loyalists persist in thinking of him, our Iraqi "ally." But let's skip the labels and stick to the implications of the Iraqi prime minister's rhetoric: He has transformed long-term American sacrifice on Iraq's behalf into a residual "foreign presence" over which he now declares Iraqi victory.
The mind reels -- both at the import of Maliki's words and the tepid U.S. non-reaction to them. Asked whether he found Maliki's "terminology acceptable," Gen. Raymond Odierno went all political, talking-pointing to Iraqis' "progression in their capacities" blah, blah. The post-withdrawal "expert" assessments I've seen haven't even mentioned Iraq's "victory." Typically, John Nagl, president of Center for a New American Security, a Left-wing defense think tank with close ties to the Obama administration, is still mooning over "the strategic imperative of establishing an enduring relationship" with Iraq. Someone should break it to him that Iraq isn't going to enter into an "enduring relationship" with a "foreign presence." Like love, U.S. defense policy is blind.
This could explain why the United States has entered total pushover mode in Iraq, as dictated by the U.S.-Iraq security agreement (Status of Forces Agreement, or SOFA) negotiated by the Bush administration, all in support of Maliki's narrative of victory over ... us.