It was the first time Maliki explicitly demanded a fixed deadline for the departure of all U.S. troops from Iraq. His words appeared to rule out the presence of any U.S. military advisors, special forces and air support after the withdrawal date.
The current draft of the U.S.-Iraqi security agreement, details of which had previously been reported, outlines a conditional timeline of 2011 for U.S. combat troops to be out of Iraq. However, it leaves the door open for the U.S. military to stay on in a noncombat role.
The hardened position came after last week's visit by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to Iraq, where she met with Maliki in hopes of clearing obstacles to an agreement. But officials familiar with the talks say that the prime minister remains undecided about whether he even wants a deal.
Leila Fadel (McClatchy Newspapers) observes it is "a direct challenge to the Bush administration, which insists that the timing for troop departure would be based on conditions on the ground." Fadel also establishes what was said:
Maliki said that the United States and Iraq had agreed that all foreign troops would be off Iraqi soil by the end of 2011. "There is an agreement actually reached, reached between the two parties on a fixed date, which is the end of 2011, to end any foreign presence on Iraqi soil," Maliki said.
The New York Times doesn't do that. Possibly in an acknowledgement that Nouri is but a puppet, Campbell Robertson and Riyadh Mohammed's "Maliki Pushes for Troop Withdrawal Date" makes an effort to downplay what al-Maliki said by allowing unnamed others to insist 'What he really meant was . . .':
Though Mr. Maliki seemed to be referring to all foreign troops in his statements, Iraqi negotiators have said recently that an agreed-upon 2011 date is for combat forces only, and that "training and support" forces could remain after that if invited by the Iraqi government. On Monday, a senior Iraqi official said he understood that even a departure date for combat troops would be "conditions driven."
Yesterday's snapshot featured some of Tony Fratto's remarks as White House spokesperson for the traveling White House (Crawford, TX). Here's Fratto in full:
Sure. I know there are always reports out there in the press and I'm not sure I saw exactly what Prime Minister Maliki said. But clearly from our perspective, we've been working with the Iraqi government for a long time on this agreement. It's a critical agreement between two sovereign countries in this region, and we want to see this bilateral agreement put in place, to take effect once the December 30th U.N. agreement runs out. We're discussing goals. As you know, you've heard us speak about different kinds of timelines or aspirational goals that may be acceptable. I don't have anything to announce on that. An agreement has not been signed, and so from our perspective, there is no agreement until there's an agreement signed. There are discussions that continue in Baghdad. We'd like to let them continue and to continue to show progress. What we're focused on is getting a good agreement, not getting an agreement by a particular date. So we'll continue those discussions. Stepping back, I think what we're really pleased about is the fact that we're having these discussions with a sovereign, democratically elected country that is -- that wants to have a relationship with the United States going forward, and the fact that the only reason we can have these discussions today is because of the success of the surge. And as we continue to see security gains on the ground in Iraq, and we can have the return on success that the President talked about because of those security gains, that's a good thing for us, that's a good thing for Iraq. And so we have these mutual goals. But any decisions on troops will be based on the conditions on the ground in Iraq. That has always been our position; it continues to be our position.
Ralph Nader, independent presidential candidate, is providing Ralph's Daily Audio Monday through Friday and this is "Bailouts on Your Back:"
This is Ralph Nader. The giant corporate destruction of capitalism is proceeding at an accelerated pace. It looks like captialsim -- that is the bearing of risk by the business -- is only for small business, not giant corporations that are deamed too big to fail no matter how their executives, overpaid as they are, undermine, weaken and damage the company their workers and share holders.
Three examples. The US government now has enacted legislation which provides for up to $25 billion in loan guarantees for the domestic auto companies. These are the same companies that for years opposed fuel efficiency standards while they sold customers their gas guzzling SUVs. Well when the price of gasoline went up, SUV sales went down and what's General Motors doing? Ford? Chrysler? They're going to Washington for, essentially, a tax payer bail-out. And they want more than $25 billion dollars in loan guarantees .
Next up is the nuclear industry. They can't get Wall St. financing for their new nuclear plants without a US government loan guarantee. They wanted $50 billion in recent legislation. But the Congress only gave them $19 billion for starters in loan guarantees. The Wall Streeters think that nuclear power is so risky and unpredicatable that they won't give them any loans without Uncle Sam guaranteeing them.
And then there's Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. For years opposing adequate regulation and adequate capital-ratios and they took on very risky financial instruments and now they're diving and they're in consulation with? US Treasury for some variety of bail-out or guarantee.
And so it goes. The big guys are too big to fail and so they have no incentive to bear the risk or even let their owners -- the share holders -- control runaway CEO pay that's tied to inflating profits and taking on excessive risk so their stock options are worth more for their private riches.
Capitalism is used as a propaganda tool by giant corporations -- as a legitimization of what they're doing. That is: going into the market place, bearing the risk, succeeding where they succeed and accepting the verdict of the market place which, of course, is always beyond their control. This is The Big Lie.
Wall St. goes to Washington for bail-outs, hand-outs, give-aways and subsidies -- and that ought to be an issue in the presidential campaign.
You won't hear John McCain and Barack Obama talking about this at all. They're in the same boat of government subsidized corporate capitalism. This is Ralph Nader.
Meanwhile, inside the Pepsi Center, the dog and pony show took place last night.
And yes, she bombed at the DNC. It's doubtful in all the gas bagging you'll see and hear on it, anyone will point out that a Harvard graduate should damn well know subject-verb agreement. And weren't her gestures comical? More on Sunday but, yes, I have read the e-mails. "Ass"-"tute" a groupie posing as a 'journalist' calls her today and he's just as grammatically challenged as she is. The bar's not being moved, it's where it always was and that speech wouldn't have cut it for the spouse of a city council member let along as a keynote speech. Modulation was a foreign concept as words went LOUD for no reason and what passed for normal at others. In other words, she lacked poise. Or, as her former roll dog on TV this morning (not introduced as such) might have worded it, she lacked "pose"--"ee."
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