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July 20, 2008

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Why would a third version settle the question?

Why doesn't the NYT release the audio?

And why don't you mention the fact that Der Spiegel rewrote the quote without telling anyone, in a way that supports what Maliki's office is claiming?

Der Spiegel's rewrite undercuts the argument that Maliki walkback resulted from U.S. pressure. In fact, his walkback -- which merely points out that he "said the possibility of troop withdrawal was based on the continuance of security improvements" -- is exactly what Der Spiegel initially reported that he had said:

As soon as possible, as far as we’re concerned. US presidential candidate Barack Obama is right when he talks about 16 months. Assuming that positive developments continue, this is about the same time period that corresponds to our wishes.

Please drop the nonsense about U.S. pressure. I told you this hours ago and I know you're aware of it, and you professed not to understand the point, so I explained it. Now you're publishing a post that completely ignores the point I made.

Why would a third version settle the question?

It doesn't, it's an independent translation that provides evidentiary support for the claim that Maliki did, in fact, say what he said.

If the bread-and-circuses crowd is trying to say there's been a misinterpretation but not actually explaining what the misinterp is, the only rational response is to retranslate the phrase to show that yes, it does say exactly that.

And why don't you mention the fact that Der Spiegel rewrote the quote without telling anyone, in a way that supports what Maliki's office is claiming?

What did Der Spiegel rewrite? The quote was from Maliki's office translator.

And the walkback comes from a CENTCOM announcement by a Iraqi dimplomat that hangs out on stage with Dana Perino, according to the linked walkback -- where they don't specific what was mistranslated, because nothing was.

Der Spiegel's rewrite undercuts the argument that Maliki walkback resulted from U.S. pressure. In fact, his walkback -- which merely points out that he "said the possibility of troop withdrawal was based on the continuance of security improvements" -- is exactly what Der Spiegel initially reported that he had said:

Well, put it in context. The thin thread the GOP is hanging their strategy on right now is a "conditions-based" withdrawal using "aspirational time horizons," which means nothing because that's what any strategic retreat means. It's not just drop your guns in the middle of the desert and run off screaming.

The WH and McCain campaign weren't worried about the terms of the withdrawal (they're basically shooting for Obama's plan anyway) -- they were mad that their puppet government supported the guy on the other team and were trying to kick him back into line.

Please drop the nonsense about U.S. pressure. I told you this hours ago and I know you're aware of it, and you professed not to understand the point, so I explained it. Now you're publishing a post that completely ignores the point I made.

Why is the nonsense about U.S. pressure well, nonsense? Maliki made the statement. The U.S. Embassy in Baghdad complained. CENTCOM sent out a flunky to say 'yeah, our bad'a but without saying why or about what. Um, is that not straightforward pressure being applied there?

Um, it's what Der Spiegel, um, initially, um, put out.

Adam: Why is the nonsense about U.S. pressure well, nonsense?

Because it's nonsensical to suppose that the US government could have any means of putting pressure on Maliki to quit saying things that support Obama's position? I mean, it's not as if the US has an army encamped in Baghdad.

...oh wait.

Patterico: Um, it's what Der Spiegel, um, initially, um, put out.

I have no idea what this means.

Patterico:

Please note that the following language appears in both of the versions you point to:

As soon as possible, as far as we’re concerned. US presidential candidate Barack Obama is right when he talks about 16 months.

Keep spinning about translations, but they all carry the same basic point that Maliki favors Obama's position. Only the Bush administration propaganda claims otherwise.

Of course only the King James version of that interview can be seen as authoritative. Do you put any credibility in an Arabian (or German for that matter) source over proper English? Why do you hate God's Own Party..eh..Country?

You have no proof Patterico, you have some very fishy evidence at the most:

Here is Reuters article with the quote as it appears on Der Spiegel. The article was posted:

Sat Jul 19, 2008 7:38am EDT

The post on Hot Air including the words Assuming that positive developments continue was posted at:

12:15 pm on July 19, 2008

The post from The Hill is dated:

Posted: 07/19/08 10:33 AM [ET]

Obviously the primary question here is whether Maliki could possibly have run over a dog with an armored personnel carrier.

"Keep spinning about translations, but they all carry the same basic point that Maliki favors Obama's position."

I agree. My point is not to argue otherwise.

I am addressing the argument: "The clarification was issued by Centcom, oddly enough, and turned out to have been made after the US contacted the Maliki government." The implication there is that Maliki's clarification was prompted by U.S. interference. Not hardly; the clarification only reinforced what Der Spiegel had originally published.

To be clear, every translation I have seen supports Obama's position, so I think it would be a stretch, at a minimum, to argue that it's simply a mistranslation that causes Maliki's statement to appear to favor Obama's position. Clearly it does.

But only one of the translations mentioned continued security being a condition for that agreement -- and that translation was done BEFORE any US "pressure." Usually the cause precedes the effect, no? U.S. pressure did not cause that translation, which had already happened.

Patterico: Not hardly; the clarification only reinforced what Der Spiegel had originally published.

Actually, I haven't been able to find any record that the "clarification" issued after the White House had contacted Maliki's staff, consisted of anything other than an unspecific assertion that "Der Spiegel did not accurately convey Maliki's comments and that there was 'a translation problem' in the interview" link)

So I don't know why you would think that the "clarification" reinforced what Der Spiegel had published. It's a "clarification" that makes clear only one thing: the US government is not happy with what the Iraqi Prime Minister said.

Well, Maliki has now met with Obama, and clarified the clarifiction, so that we're back to a call for withdrawal in 2010:

http://www.mcclatchydc.com/251/story/44985.html

After talks with Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama on Monday, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki reaffirmed that Iraq wants U.S. combat troops to withdraw from Iraq by the end of 2010, a few months later than Obama had proposed.

Ali Dabbagh, the prime minister's spokesman, said Maliki and Obama didn't discuss specifics during the hour-long meeting. But he said the Iraqi government would like to see all American combat troops out of the country by the end of 2010, a bit later than Obama's proposal to draw down all combat brigades within 16 months after he'd become president.

"Barak Obama showed his support to this government," Dabbagh said. "He came to listen to our views and the views of the prime minister. And the prime minister gave him his point of view about the presence of U.S. forces and . . . what we want from the forces."

From McClatchy.

And Patterico's efforts to spin this show hw devastating it is. Either we really did want a democracy there andn we really were supporting the new government there, which means we will comply with the new government's wioshes, or we never wanted anything evcept to establish our own contgrol over Iraq for our own purposes which means stay for one hundrfed years, impose permenent bases and of course help ourselves to the oil.

Are we fighting for the people with the purple fingers or against them?

Wow, that is some truly desperate spin from Patterico. And "spin" is a very kind word for the complete distortion that falls shockingly in line with the current right-wing talking points on the subject.

It's almost formulaic. Claim that Der Spiegel rewrote the interview, when the truth is that it was Maliki's own man who provided the translation. Continue pressing the laughable argument that Maliki isn't really supporting Obama's timetable just because of his caveat that things could change based on events on the ground, as if that wasn't something Obama's also been saying for months.

There's really just no way to effectively spin this as anything other than the Iraqi PM supporting Obama's vision for removing American troops from Iraq, and explicitly shutting the door on a long-term presence.

The debate about which candidate has an Iraq plan which is closer to Iraq's own interests is over. Spin all you like Patterico, but you'll be the only one in the room who doesn't realize you're whistling past the graveyard.

Of course only the King James version of that interview can be seen as authoritative.

With the correct kerning. it's not authentic without the appropriate kerning!

"Actually, I haven't been able to find any record that the "clarification" issued after the White House had contacted Maliki's staff, consisted of anything other than an unspecific assertion that "Der Spiegel did not accurately convey Maliki's comments and that there was 'a translation problem' in the interview" link)"

From CNN:

But a spokesman for al-Maliki said his remarks "were misunderstood, mistranslated and not conveyed accurately."

Government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh said the possibility of troop withdrawal was based on the continuance of security improvements, echoing statements that the White House made Friday after a meeting between al-Maliki and U.S. President Bush.

"Continue pressing the laughable argument that Maliki isn't really supporting Obama's timetable just because of his caveat that things could change based on events on the ground, as if that wasn't something Obama's also been saying for months."

You might try re-reading my comments, in which I explicitly say that Maliki appears to generally support Obama's position.

I think y'all are busy arguing against a position different from the one I am actually advancing here.

"Claim that Der Spiegel rewrote the interview, when the truth is that it was Maliki's own man who provided the translation."

Regardless of who provided the translation, the hard fact remains: Der Spiegel initially published one translation, which contained the condition about security improvements, and then (without comment or explanation) changed it to a new translation, which removed that condition.

Then Maliki's office said: hey, wait! That second version removed the condition about security improvements!

And all the lefties screamed that it was political pressure that caused him to reaffirm the very first thing that Der Spiegel published.

I'll say it again for the reading challenged:

*Maliki generally supports a position similar to Obama's, in any of the three translations. Perhaps other conservatives are "spinning" it otherwise. I am not.

*The exact contours of what Maliki said are still open to question, because we have now been given three different translations that, while all supporting Obama generally, are somewhat contradictory in the details. Is this common with translations? Sure. But it makes it hard to know what the details really are.

These are just the facts. If you want to accuse someone of spinning, go find someone who actually is spinning, and argue with them. Don't argue with someone who is agreeing with you (and saying so repeatedly) that the translations of Maliki's comments *all* support Obama in general.

Patterico,

McCain, Bush and the RNC have been attacking Obama for months now for the supposedly naiive and unrealistic position of calling for withdrawl of US troops from Iraq within 16 months of his taking office, in a manner the details of which are still to be determined and which will be adjusted in response to whatever changes in conditions have occurred between now and then, and that same position has just been endorsed as both possible and desirable by Maliki.

Face it - McCain's strategy of depicting Obama as naiive and out of touch with the "realities on the ground" in Iraq is now in ruins - like a car which has just spun off the road and into the ditch, and you are here posting comments which have nothing of substance to say concerning this development, but rather endlessly nitpicking over whether the press accurately reported that the tires on the car were whitewalls, or perhaps not.

What exactly is your point? You've wasted a ridiculous amount of verbiage carping over a very minor point in a very big story. It seems reasonable to me to ask, why?

An uncharitable person might jump to the conclusion that you are a troll, a shill and a pathetically hopeless tool of the GOP desperately trying to draw attention away from the main point of this story, not out of any concern for honesty or accuracy but because you are not concerned with anything but the electoral success of your chosen party, and the truth be dammed if it gets in the way of what really matters to you.

I have no idea if that is your actual motivation or not, but you could do better in dispelling the notion by having something of substance to say concerning the main point of this story. It is not impossible for a conservative to do that, as von has just shown.

"These are just the facts."

What here isn't trivial? What here is interesting, or significant in any way? What here is worth posting so many comments about? What here is anything worth caring about?

In other words: what's your point?

This may be less clear to others than it is to you.

Gary,

I know you like being prickly and difficult with me when I comment here because you don't like my politics, but I'm not repeating myself for your amusement.

I already stated my point. Since your utterly predictable retort is that I was unclear, I'll pre-respond: the problem lies in your unwillingness to read what I already wrote (a problem you share with others who consistently ignore what I said).

An uncharitable person might jump to the conclusion that you are a troll, a shill and a pathetically hopeless tool of the GOP desperately trying to draw attention away from the main point of this story, not out of any concern for honesty or accuracy but because you are not concerned with anything but the electoral success of your chosen party, and the truth be dammed if it gets in the way of what really matters to you.

And an uncharitable person might conclude that you're a wanker who is attacking me under the guise of politeness. That same uncharitable person might conclude that you're incapable of seeing that I'm responding to the post -- "scroll up and read it again, it's that thing before the comments" is what I can hear said uncharitable person saying.

Luckily, you and I are both charitable. It's a good thing, too, because the conversation those other uncharitable people would have with each other sounds mighty unpleasant.

I'm in the odd position of fully agreeing with ThatLeftTurnInABQ - well, aside from thinking Patterico is probably just that kind of person, unable to see the big picture because he's focussed on little, tiny, weeny nits (and yeah, also probably not wanting to see the big picture, since it makes Bush and McCain look like complete idiots) ...but I kind of liked Patterico's retort, too.

but I kind of liked Patterico's retort, too.

In fairness, I liked it as well. There is a certain elegance, wit and brevity to it which I admire. On balance I'm satisfied with the exchange as it is.

Hilzoy: That seems to settle that question.
Were that it was that simple. ;)


Folks – if it means anything at all – give Patterico a break, and even thank him for taking the time to comment here. He is pretty straight on these things (media misreporting).

Thanks for stopping by Patterico. Please come again!

"I know you like being prickly and difficult with me when I comment here because you don't like my politics,"

Nonsense. Anyone can tell you that I like being prickly and difficult with anyone I think has made a questionable assertion, regardless of their politics. I've pissed off every leftish blogger here as much as every non-leftish blogger.

Really, ask anyone.

I've also defended countless "right-wing" bloggers and commenters here, too. Ask around.

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