Hoshyar Zebari, Iraq's foreign minister, used his conversation with Barack Obama this week to give the Democratic candidate a geography lesson. "Iraq is not an island," lectured the pompous Zebari. He had a private conversation with Obama by telephone, then promptly blabbed his side of it to the editors at the Washington Post:
Mr. Zebari, who has served as foreign minister in every Iraqi government since 2003, finds Mr. Obama's proposal worrying. In a meeting with Post editors and reporters Tuesday, he said that after all the pain and sacrifices of the past five years, "we are just turning the corner in Iraq." A precipitous withdrawal, he said, "would create a huge vacuum and undo all the gains and achievements. And the others" -- enemies of the United States -- "would celebrate."
Sounding like a McCain spokesman, Zebari added: ""We have a deadly enemy. When he sees that you commit yourself to a certain timetable, he will use this to increase pressure and attacks, to make it look as though he is forcing you out. We have many actors who would love to take advantage of that opportunity."
Continues the Post, in its lead editorial today:
The foreign minister said "my message" to Mr. Obama "was very clear. . . . Really, we are making progress. I hope any actions you will take will not endanger this progress."
The Post, ever warlike, chortles about Zebari's message, adding: "It will give Mr. Obama an opportunity to refresh his badly outdated plan for Iraq. ... Mr. Obama ought to listen carefully to what [Zebari is] saying." In other words, Obama should listen carefully to what George Bush's (and John McCain's) puppet is telling him to do.
Earlier this month, a majority of the sitting Iraqi parliament delivered a letter to the U.S. Congress demanded precisely what Zebari is fretting about: a timetable for an American withdrawal.
Zbigniew Brzezinski, a sometime Obama adviser, once told me, "The only Iraqis who want us to stay in Iraq are the ones who will have to leave when we leave." Zebari, the separatist Kurd, will be sure to elbow his way to the front of that line if and when the day comes.