Calling Iraqi prime minister Nouri al-Maliki's demand for a timetable for US withdrawal an "enormous opportunity," Barack Obama lays out his plan for ending the war in Iraq in a New York Times op-ed piece. The presumptive Democratic nominee reiterates his support for a careful withdrawal over 16 months, leaving behind a "residual force" which would perform limited missions. "The good news is that Iraq’s leaders want to take responsibility for their country by negotiating a timetable for the removal of American troops," he writes.
Obama cites US military estimates that Iraqi forces "will be will be ready to assume responsibility for security in 2009." He charges that both the Bush administration and John McCain are failing to seize the moment to "press the Iraqis to reach comprehensive political accommodation and achieve a successful transition." Ending the war would respect both Iraqi sovereignty and American popular will; it would also allow the military to refocus its efforts on Afghanistan and Pakistan, which he calls the true frontlines of the war on terror.