2011....The Washington Post has confirmed yesterday's WSJ report that the Bush administration has agreed to a 2011 pullout of U.S. combat troops from Iraq:
U.S. and Iraqi negotiators have agreed to the withdrawal of all U.S. combat forces from the country by the end of 2011, and Iraqi officials said they are "very close" to resolving the remaining issues blocking a final accord that governs the future American military presence here.
...."We have a text," Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari said after a day-long visit Thursday by U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.
....U.S. and Iraqi negotiators have  agreed to a conditions-based withdrawal of U.S. combat troops by the end of 2011, a date further in the future than the Iraqis initially wanted. The deal would leave tens of thousands of U.S. troops inside Iraq in supporting roles, such as military trainers, for an unspecified time. According to the U.S. military, there are 144,000 U.S. troops in Iraq, most of whom are playing a combat role.
This sounds like exactly what I've been expecting: Maliki gets a pullout date; Bush gets a little more time than he'd get if Obama wins the election and sets his own withdrawal schedule; and several thousand combat troops will stay around for an unspecified period after the main pullout. (A bad idea, I think, but one that practically everyone in Washington seems to support.)
So will this be good news for the Obama campaign, as I argued last night? Megan McArdle is skeptical:
My first instinct was the opposite. McCain gets to claim that the Surge worked, the war issue is off the table, and McCain gets the credit for steely resolve without people fearing their sons will end up in Iraq. I'm puzzled by war opponents who think that voters will suddenly love Obama for having been "right all along". Assuming arguendo that this is true, the psychological logic is off. Most Americans supported the war. Do you become more endeared of your spouse when it turns out that you really should have taken that left fork thirty miles ago? Most people prefer folie à deux.
Actually, I think this is right to the extent that it means Obama has to be careful about dancing a victory jig and taking credit for his uncanny prescience. But then, he's not going to do that, is he? Rather, he'll be thoughtful and low key, as usual, allowing surrogates and the press to do the heavy lifting for him. It's true that you never know how these things will go, but Obama's judgment has been so spectacularly vindicated by this that it's hard not to see it helping him in the long run.