Max Boot responds:
This brings me to the other point raised by the bloggers–their claim that by casting doubt on whether U.S. troops can really be pulled out by 2010 I am infringing on Iraqi sovereignty. Really. (See, e.g., this post.) This, in spite of the fact that I actually wrote, “Of course, if the Iraqi government tells us to leave, we will have to leave.” As that sentence should make clear, I am all in favor of respecting the sovereign decisions of the Iraqi government.
But in this case the government hasn’t made any such decision. I stress the word “government” because this whole conversation has been driven by shifting and ambiguous statements from a prime minister who is the leader of a small minority party in a large coalition government. Maliki has been gaining strength with his courageous decision to take on the Shiite militias, but the fact remains that his word is not law. This isn’t, mercifully, the Iraq of Saddam Hussein. This is a parliamentary democracy where, in order to make big decisions, the prime ministers needs to convince his fellow cabinet ministers and parliamentarians.