The military success of the surge in Iraq now seems to be paving the way for political reconciliation and the prospects for Iraq look more hopeful than they have in a long time. However, this does not mean that withdrawal any time soon would be a good idea as the Iraqi Defence Minister made clear yesterday on a visit to the United States:
“According to our calculations and our timelines, we think that from the first quarter of 2009 until 2012 we will be able to take full control of the internal affairs of the country,” Mr. Qadir said in an interview on Monday, conducted in Arabic through an interpreter.
“In regard to the borders, regarding protection from any external threats, our calculation appears that we are not going to be able to answer to any external threats until 2018 to 2020,” he added. 2020 might seem like a long time away but as John McCain has argued if US forces are not taking casualties a US presence should not be seen as a problem in and of itself. Indeed, US troops are still required to guarantee the integrity of South Korea’s borders.