Maliki’s Departure Good News/Bad News for Obama

While many of us were focused on Ferguson, Missouri yesterday, a dramatic event was unfolding in Baghdad, as embattled Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki stepped aside peacefully and accepted–even endorsed–his replacement by Haider al-Adabi.

This was obviously a welcome development for the Obama administration. But on the other hand, as a L.A. Times analysis put it, the prospect of a new government means Obama is obligated to “open the Pentagon spigot wider,” and more generally and conspicuously involve the U.S. in the Iraqi civil war.

Perhaps a new government can make short work of IS, and perhaps the implicit alliance between the U.S. and Iran to back Adabi will bear fruit there and even elsewhere. But unless conditions improve rapidly, it’s going to get harder and harder for Obama to square U.S. military activity with the claim that for the United States the Iraq War is truly over.

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Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore is a political columnist for New York and managing editor at the Democratic Strategist website. He was a contributing writer at the Washington Monthly from January 2012 until November 2015, and was the principal contributor to the Political Animal blog.