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McCain Completely Misrepresents U.S.-Iraq Basing Deal

My colleague Matt DeLong caught Sen. John McCain’s interview with CNN’s Wolf Blitzer and passed along a quick discussion about the U.S.-Iraq basing deal that calls for a total withdrawal of all U.S. forces by Dec. 31, 2011. Long story short: Either McCain hasn’t read the latest text or he’s just making stuff up. (Transcript courtesy of the Mighty DeLong and his Amazing TiVo Device.)

Blitzer: The Bush administration seems to be close to what is called a “status of forces” agreement with the Iraqi government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. It calls, in the draft agreement at least, for the complete withdrawal of combat forces from villages and cities by July 30 of 2009, and out of the country by December 30, 2011. If you’re elected president, would you, as commander-in-chief, honor this agreement if, in fact, it’s formalized?

McCain: With respect Wolf, and you know better, my friend. You know better. It’s condition-based. It’s conditions-based, and Ryan Crocker, our ambassador to Baghdad, said, “If you want to know what victory looks like, look at this agreement.”

You know better than that, Wolf. You know it’s condition-based, and that’s what the big fight was all about.

Actually, my friends, it’s McCain who should know better. I’ll have much more on this in a piece tomorrow morning, but if you read Article 25 of the Oct. 13 text — as I blogged yesterday — you’ll see it says that “The U.S. forces shall withdraw from Iraqi territories no later than December 31st, 2011″ and goes on to say “U.S. combat forces will withdraw from all cities, towns, and villages as soon as the Iraqi forces take over the full security responsibilities in them. The U.S. withdrawal from these areas shall take place no later than June 30th, 2009.”

The only possible claim to truth McCain has here is in subsection 4, which allows for a “review” for “one side asking the other to extend or reduce the time periods mentioned.” But changing the dates requires “both sides’ approval,” which is going to be difficult to obtain and easy for one side to obstruct. What the agreement definitely does not call for is “conditions” to determine the pace of withdrawal.

Sorry, my friend, but your position on the war is in tatters.

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