THE MALIKI QUOTE….Did Der Spiegel translate Nouri al-Maliki’s endorsement of Barack Obama’s 16-month troop withdrawal plan correctly? Maliki’s spokesman backtracked under pressure from the U.S., but Der Spiegel gave tapes of its interview to the New York Times and it looks like the magazine got it right. You have to get down to the 16th paragraph before the Times bothers to mention it, but here’s a comparison of the two translations:

Spiegel: “U.S. presidential candidate Barack Obama talks about 16 months. That, we think, would be the right timeframe for a withdrawal, with the possibility of slight changes….Those who operate on the premise of short time periods in Iraq today are being more realistic.”

Times: “Obama’s remarks that — if he takes office — in 16 months he would withdraw the forces, we think that this period could increase or decrease a little, but that it could be suitable to end the presence of the forces in Iraq….Who wants to exit in a quicker way has a better assessment of the situation in Iraq.”

Sounds pretty much the same to me. Maliki may or may not regret having said it, but he said it.