Over the last few weeks, Barack Obama and John McCain have seemed to get perilously close to agreeing on what to do in Iraq. Obama continues to talk about a 16-month withdrawal but would let military commanders determine the pace of the withdrawal. McCain is also now in favor of a 16-month timeline—as long as the commanders determine the pace of the withdrawal. After the withdrawal, how many soldiers would be left and what would they do? Both candidates agree on that, too. U.S. forces would continue to train Iraqi soldiers, fight al-Qaida, assist Sunni tribal leaders, and fight Shiite militias. How long they would do all of this, and in what numbers, would be up to the commanders on the ground.
With either candidate, we withdraw from Iraq and focus squarely on Afghanistan. The real difference doesn't come with what each plans to do in the future, but instead what they did in the past. Some may be more comfortable with Obama since he opposed the war from the beginning, while McCain may appeal more to hawks (if there are any left aside from Bill Kristol).