Obama in NY Times Op-Ed: Seize on Maliki's Call for Timetable

Barack Obama outlined his views on Iraq in an op-ed published in today's New York Times, saying the United States should seize on Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's call for a withdrawal timetable.

The prime minister's call "presents an enormous opportunity," Obama writes. "We should seize this moment to begin the phased redeployment of combat troops that I have long advocated, and that is needed for long-term success in Iraq and the security interests of the United States."

Obama called attention to Army Lt. Gen. James Dubik's prediction that Iraq's army and police forces would be fully manned and operational by mid-2009. Dubik is the top U.S. military official charged with training Iraq's security forces.

The Illinois senator highlighted policy differences between himself and John McCain, and said the reasons he initially opposed the so-called "surge" still hold true: strain on the U.S. military, not enough resources dedicated to Afghanistan, and a failure by Iraqis to reach political accommodation.

Withdrawing combat brigades in 16 months--Obama's longtime schedule for removing troops--would not be a "precipitous withdrawal," Obama said, pointing out that residual forces would be able to carry out missions against al-Qaeda.