POLITICS
12/20/2008 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Newly Signed SOFA To Spur WIthdrawal, Benefit Obama

As has been widely reported, the recently signed Status of Forces Agreement between the United States and the Iraqi Cabinet could potentially "[close] the book on the occupation that began with the U.S.-led invasion in 2003." The agreement, which calls for U.S. forces to pull out of Iraqi cities in the middle of next year and remove themselves entirely from Iraq by 2011, reverses the entrenchment that President George W. Bush originally envisioned, and dovetails with the "withdraw-and-redeploy" plan that President-Elect Barack Obama pitched on the stump during his campaign.

Some obstacles remain, most significantly from Moqtada al-Sadr, who's threatened attacks on U.S. troops over the deal, believing that U.S. withdrawal promises are worthless.

Still, this accord stands to benefit Obama in a politically significant way, the key difference being that it was made on this side of Inauguration Day, sparing Obama the sort of "surrender" rhetoric that Senator John McCain attempted to light him up with on the campaign trail. Spencer Ackerman has the money quote from a Pentagon official:

"Politically it is significant. The Iraqis are telling us to leave and the Bush administration, not the Obama administration, has basically agreed to go. Kind of hard for the far right to call what follows surrender or retreat."

And with all parties aligned in support of withdrawal, it's impossible to paint that support as anything other than mainstream.