Bush has agreed in all but name with Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki on a timetable for US troop withdrawal from that country. As usual Bush’s staff made up an implausible euphemism for the timetable, calling it a “time horizon” for “aspirational goals?” Language like that is a sure sign that Bush is too embarrassed to call it like it is.
Al-Maliki has gotten enormous pressure from the grand ayatollahs in Najaf and from the Sadr Movement not to sign away Iraqi sovereignty in making a status of forces agreement (SOFA) with the US. Al-Maliki is said to have despaired of getting a SOFA past the Iraqi parliament, since the MPs demand a timetable for US withdrawal. He will instead initial a Memorandum of Understanding with the Bush administration. Al-Maliki and Bush hope this MOU will take on the force of law even though no legislature in either country will have passed it.
So Bush has thrown al-Maliki the lifeline of a few euphemisms. But a time horizon is just a fancy way of saying “timetable.”
The Sadrists are already angry about al-Maliki’s crackdown on them, and they demonstrate weeklly against the SOFA.
Bush probably wants US troops in Iraq because they help nail down energy contracts between the US and Iraqi concerns. Without 140,000 troops in the country, the Iraqis would not have a good reason to favor US concerns like Hunt over China’s Sinopec or Russia’s Lukoil (see the next item).
The Pan-Arab daily, al_Hayat, said that the euphemist language was a compromise on Bush’s part.