Iraq Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki is demanding changes to a draft deal on the status of U.S. forces beyond this year, according to an article released by Agence France-Presse Sunday. The thing that strikes me about this article is the obvious distortion between what members of the Iraqi government are saying about this deal and the sort of hazy ways the Bush administration is insisting nothing has been agreed upon yet. Iraq's chief negotiator Mohammed al-Haj Hammoud has said that a 27-point deal regarding U.S. presence in Iraq has already been endorsed by George W. Bush. A White House spokesman later said that discussions were still ongoing. Hammoud also said that the deal provides for all U.S. combat troops to pull out of Iraqi cities by next June followed by a complete withdrawal from Iraq by 2011. White House spokesman Gordon Johndroe then called any deadlines in the deal "aspirational deadlines" rather than formal deadlines.
It seems to me that members of the negotiating teams representing the Bush administration are stringing along the Iraqi government with semi-agreements and "Maybe we can make that happen" endorsements. If the Bush administration wants to get anything done before the next president steps in, it's time to be decisive on this issue. These are the guys on our side why are they under the impression that the deal they put on the table has Bush's blessing when that's clearly not the case. Just sitting around waiting and praying that McCain wins in November so that he can handle it is not going to work. "Aspirational deadlines" is the exact sort of governmental indecisiveness that leaves where we are now, with no end in sight.