Here is an important insight into the nature of the mountain of bloody bullshit that is the Iraq war. Prime Minister Al-Maliki (and other highly placed Iraqi officials) are inviting the US to leave. They say they are ready to take over security.
You bet they are. They've been positioning themselves all along for the inevitable US pull back. Iranian backed Shia forces are indeed ready to take over security -- which means ready to hold on to their own. Ditto the Kurds. That's the real reason Iraqi factions haven't come to significant political and economic settlements. They don't want a unified and moderate Iraq and never did.
But what was interesting in this outburst is the tone. There's palpable resentment and contempt. It's the benchmarks thing. It's US officials giving them grades and then posturing in front of US citizens, threatening Iraqis with consequences as if they were a bunch of schoolchildren. From their point of view, the condescension involved in this process is enormous -- and it adds insult to injury.
Because, from their point of view, the world's great Superpower launched this invasion entirely for reasons of its own and then proceeded to neglect everything it didn't actually destroy. And then, after what has been, from their point of view, a negligible investment of time and blood, that Superpower decides it's had enough because this nonexistent nation another Western Superpower invented and called Iraq hasn't got its act together in accordance with some Green Zone mission statement.
What Iraqis have noticed is how US opponents of the war built public support with one simple message: we've done our share, it's time for the Iraqis to step up. And they've noticed that as prominent supporters of the war, from Bill O'Reilly to Senator Warner, slowly reverse themselves they pivot on this message: we've done our share, it's time for the Iraqis to step up. From the Iraqi point of view, their original suspicions are thus confirmed in spades. From my point of view -- I'm embarrassed everytime I hear a Democrat blame Iraqis for their failure. Even though I know it's a tactical necessity, it's embarrassing.
This war has been a massive exercise in national narcissism from the beginning. How fitting that efforts to bring it an end must feed the same appetite.