Barack Obama's chief foreign policy adviser Susan Rice just strolled past past the Huffington Post office inside media pavilion number 5 here at the Democratic National Convention. So of course we ran down the hallway to catch up and get her reaction to the news that Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki is pushing for a full U.S. withdrawal by 2011.
"Well, I think Maliki's responding, obviously, to the domestic pressures and realities inside Iraq," Dr. Rice said. "But the important point is that Sen. [Barack] Obama has been saying for years now that we need to set a clear, predictable timeline -- that he believes we can responsibly withdraw our forces within 16 months, and do so safely. The Iraqis are now saying they're going to also insist on a timetable. The Bush administration has had to accommodate that position. And John McCain is the outlier, insisting he wants to stay in Iraq indefinitely, in permanent bases, regardless of what the what the Iraqis think."
Responding to the McCain camp's line that any U.S. withdrawal must be conducted based on real-time conditions, Rice added that the political will inside Iraq is in itself "a fact on the ground" before continuing on her way toward the convention hall.