Mowaffak al-Rubaie, Iraq's National Security Adviser, once again declared yesterday that his country "would not accept any memorandum of understanding with the U.S. side that has no obvious and specific dates for the foreign troops' withdrawal from Iraq." He went onto say that Iraq was "impatiently waiting" for the complete withdrawal of all troops.

White House buffoon Tony Fratto was trotted out to say that withdrawal plans were not part of the ongoing talks and that al-Rubaie was just kidding. "We have great confidence that the political leadership in Iraq would not take an action that would destabilize the country."

Indeed, the Bush Administration's table talk during the past couple of weeks has been that the Maliki Administration's talk of U.S. withdrawal has been nothing but a load of nod-nod-wink-wink aimed at a regional audience (i.e. the people of Iraq).

"Nouri is a great kidder," said President Bush, "always trying to get one over on me. But look at the situation on the ground, and what do you see? U.S. soldiers, scads of them. If he was really serious, you think they'd still be there? Of course not."

"It is like talking to a brick wall," replied Maliki, shaking his head wearily. "Nothing I say gets through to him. It's as though the will of the Iraqi people counts for nothing. Does the American president really think I am lying to my people?"

"Of course I think that," shot back Bush. "That's what presidents do."

"Woe is me. Our liberators are now our occupiers. I suppose I'll just have to wait for a new U.S. president."

"You won't have to wait long," interjected John McCain. "I know for a fact that troop pullout will be dictated by the situation on the ground, as it always has been."

"I wasn't talking about you, McCain. I was talking about Barack Obama."

"The American people will reject his radicalism. Look, Nouri, since we are succeeding, then I am convinced, as I have said before, we can withdraw and withdraw with honor, not according to a set timetable. Im confident that is what you're talking about, since you told me that at the many meetings weve had."

"We've had three meetings, not many, and the last time I said anything like what you're descring was back in 2005."

"Well, I remember it as though it were yesterday. I guess you just don't want to give up these hard won victories in Basra, in Mosul, in Sadr city, do you, buddy."

"I'm not your buddy, you idgit?"

"Hey, hey, you guys calm down," urged Barack Obama. "Whatever else you might say about Senator McCain, he's a true American patriot, and we're grateful for his service. Now about those timetables..."


2008, Mark Hoback