Damn it! The bloody Wogs had to go about ruining our endless war ! They dragged mud all through our dream palaces! They don’t want us to stay there forever to protect them from themselves, and from the problems we brought into their country! They must not know what they want! They must not mean what they say!

That’s the condensed version of an editorial in today’s Wall Street Journal about Nouri al-Maliki’s recent advocacy of a timetable for U.S. withdrawal from Iraq. The WSJ editorial page is a fairly good distillation of the views of the fever swamps of the Bush administration, most importantly the Office of the Vice President. So chances are this is either what Dick Cheney, David Addington and John Hannah already think about Maliki’s move, or its food for thought during their morning nosh.

Mr. Maliki’s comments were also designed for domestic Iraqi political consumption – another sign of that country’s robust democratic debate. With elections scheduled for the autumn, Mr. Maliki wants to show he’s nobody’s pawn, especially not America’s. The Sadrists continue to play the nationalist card, even as they are themselves pawns of Iran. The rise of Iraqi nationalism is inevitable and largely welcome as a unifying national force. Remember all of those who said an Iraqi Shiite government would merely be a tool of Iran? …

Our sense is that, with the exception of the Sadrists, all of Iraq’s main political factions want the U.S. to remain in some significant force. Iraq is now a democracy, however, and perhaps as their confidence grows the Maliki government and Iraq public opinion will think differently. But that kind of withdrawal timetable should be mutual – and not imposed by a new U.S. President acting as if the Iraq he’ll inherit in 2009 is the same as the Iraq of 2006. That would mean U.S. forces could be withdrawn with honor, and in victory.

Yes, the Wall Street Journal‘s "sense" of Iraq is better than that of Iraqis themselves. It’s also delicious how the Journal urges a "mutual" timetable — discovering the sorrows of unilateralism, eh, fellas? — right after hectoring that "Iraq and Mr. Maliki would benefit from striking a security agreement this year while Mr. Bush is still in office." You just can’t trust these Wogs to decide such things for themselves! And you’re really left with nothing else but bloviating, posturing vanity after everything you believe has been tested and irrevocably, conclusively, decisively disproven.

Spencer Ackerman

Spencer Ackerman