ATLANTA AIRPORT — The Iraqi cabinet approves the SOFA by a wide margin. Funny what a U.S. president who’s committed to withdrawal can yield. Grand Ayatollah Sistani backed the thing, if half-heartedly, which appears to have given the Shiite blocs room to sign on — in the cabinet at least. The parliamentary math is harder: the more-moderate Sunni faction has its misgivings. Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari told the Washington Post that the parliament has to approve this thing before its recess at the end of December. Could be difficult, but from this distant vantage the momentum favors passage. I say this like I actually know, which I don’t.
Another thing I don’t know is whether the psychological impact of this has sunken in. The Bush administration intended the SOFA process to entrench the occupation. Instead it gave the Iraqi government the means to end it. And that’s the best-possible way for the war to end: with the Iraqi government — the one we’ve disingenuously told the world we’re in Iraq to support — showing its political maturation to get us out the day after tomorrow. And out actually means out. The SOFA demands that every last U.S. serviceman is on a plane by December 31, 2011. Obama’s plan for a 30,000-troop residual force? Officially overtaken by events. As I say, the impact of this appears not to have sunken in. The Iraqis have forced an end to the war.