As predicted yesterday, Hillary Clinton took a new stance on the Iraq war, um, yesterday. She’s calling for troop pull-outs from Iraq starting in 2006, depending on the outcome of Iraqi elections on December 15th.

The Times, showing that it still doesn’t know how to use the Internet for online journalism, doesn’t bother to link to Clinton’s statement, so I will. It’s here.

Here’s Hillary’s nut graf:

I do not believe that we should allow this to be an open-ended commitment without limits or end. Nor do I believe that we can or should pull out of Iraq immediately. I believe we are at a critical point with the December 15th elections that should, if successful, allow us to start bringing home our troops in the coming year, while leaving behind a smaller contingent in safer areas with greater intelligence and quick strike capabilities. This will advance our interests, help fight terrorism and protect the interests of the Iraqi people.

But to my mind, there’s a crucial step missing. What exactly are the elections going to change that makes it plausible for us to start withdrawing troops? Will they somehow make the U.S.-trained Iraqi army more viable? Seems unlikely.

Mrs. Clinton spends the vast majority of her letter Bush-bashing. But near the end, she does return to her own prescription.

If these elections succeed, we should be able to start drawing down our troops, but we should also plan to continue to help secure the country and the region with a smaller footprint on an as-needed basis. I call on the President…for such a plan….

Two points: What is success? And why call on the president for a plan? Why not come up with your own?

Sooner or later, Senator Clinton will have to, if she expects to lead the country.