Here's a link to my most recent column for Antiwar.com, on the inconvenient (for the administration and a few warhawks) but growing apparent sense of independence of the Iraqi government. Maliki said last week, of course, that a status of forces agreement or relationship agreement to replace the UN resolution authorizing the presence of "coalition" troops should include a timetable for withdrawal of U.S. forces. It's a popular position in Iraq. The White House gulped and said this is what we wanted all along, sorta, but it was hard not to detect a sense of panic. Talk about mixed feelings! McCain isn't the only one in the U.S. establishment who sees troops in Iraq as a more-or-less-permanent phenomenon.
What I missed getting in was this piece from Juan Cole's blog suggesting that what's driving the Iraqis is the desire to get rid of Blackwater and other private contractors. Remember the massacre last September, and the Iraqi demand that Blackwater be kicked out of the country? They're still there. I suspect Blackwater is an important part of Iraq's demand, but I think there's a great deal more to it.