Tuesday November 27, 2007
The cooperation pact, endorsed by George Bush and the Iraqi prime minister, Nouri al-Maliki, during a video conference yesterday morning, will set the agenda for a future American relationship with Iraq, the administration's adviser on Iraq and Afghanistan, General Douglas Lute, told reporters at the White House.
"The two negotiating teams, Iraq and the United States, now have a common sheet of music with which to begin the negotiations," Lute said.
The military, economic and diplomatic agreement would commit US forces to defending the government of Iraq from internal and external threats as well as fighting al-Qaida and "all other outlaw groups regardless of affiliation", according to the declaration of principles released by the White House yesterday.
In return, Iraq pledged itself to "encouraging the flow of foreign investments to Iraq, especially American investments, to contribute to the reconstruction and rebuilding of Iraq". The promise was immediately seen as a potential bonanza for American oil companies.
Lute offered few details on the scale of future US troop levels in Iraq or permanent US bases. He noted that the agreement, because it was not a treaty, would not be subject to oversight by Congress. "What US troops are doing, how many troops are required to do that, are bases required, which partners will join them - all these things are on the table," he said.
Yesterday's agreement was announced as Maliki indicated he intended to seek the renewal of the UN security council mandate for Iraq for one more year when it expires in December. The agreement has been in the works since last August, when the Maliki government officially requested the long-term strategic relationship with Washington.
The public unveiling of the proposed arrangement yesterday arrived at a time when the administration has been trying to showcase recent improvements in security in Iraq following the deployment of an additional 30,000 US troops at the beginning of the year.
Some of those forces are scheduled to begin leaving Iraq by the end of this year following the drop in violence. The rest are due to be withdrawn by the summer of 2008, although there has been little sign of the political reconciliation which was the main objective of the surge strategy.
Instead, the administration yesterday appeared to be urging Americans to look to American and Iraqi negotiators' hopes of producing a broader agreement on their partnership next summer.
The timetable for negotiations indicated by Lute would see the state department open negotiations early next year. That all but ensures that Iraq will dominate next year's US presidential elections.
Well now we know what General Lute has been up to since he became the war czar. He has been undermining the Constitution. He and W just did an end around the Senate and inked a treaty with the Nouri al-Maliki government. So much for advise and consent.
This agreement paints us into a difficult corner, which is exactly what Bush wanted--to limit our options. We are now "committed" to defend the Iraqi government. We are getting locked into a permanent presence in Iraq. Were talking about boots on the ground for the next 20 to 30 years and permanent bases and more blood and treasure being waisted between the banks of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers.
W is setting up a "stab in the back" meme. Those evil Democrats lost the war and betrayed our solemn pledge to the Iraqi people will be the talking point. Those traitors left our brave allies to the depredations of the the terrorists is what the right wing noise machine will trumpet. This is a great trap for any Democratic president but it really screws over Hillary. Hillary, always triangulating, always trying to prove she is tough on foreign policy is the perfect victim of this power play by the Shrub.
HRC if elected will be hard pressed to slip out of the straight jacket that Bush has put her in. The Republicans will be on guard to prevent any attempts at a Houdini act from Ms. Clinton. Give the devil his due Bush has got Hillary and the gang tied in knots with this maneuver. He did this in typical Bush or should we said Cheney fashion. This was perpetrated by Executive fiat behind closed doors with zero input from anyone outside of a select few.
The only thing the Senate can do is cry. Thanks to Joe Lie-berman Democrats can't even pass a sense of the Senate resolution , they can't top 50 votes thanks to the Likud Senator from Connecticut. The only slim hope is that Republican Senators will be enraged by W's presumption. Bush is denying them the chance to even weigh in on the agreement. This action cuts to the core of the Senate's prerogatives. Don't hold your breath though, the Senate Republicans have been good little Germans for a very long time, it is a little late to think that they might finally grow a pair of testicles. We have seen this song and dance before, the Republicans back King George W to the hilt , Democrats cave because "Blue Dog" Bush-loving DINOs desert the rest of the party. There are far too many Democrats in the Senate willing to go AWOL when it come time to fight the good fight against the Shrub.
The only way HRC and Obama can save their room for maneuver is to finally be strong. They have to fully and forcefully reject this treaty. They have to come out and say "my policy towards Iraq will not be set by George W Bush, this Agreement as it was never vetted by the Senate is worthless and I will not be bound by it." Edwards might have the stones to say that, Kucinich should be making that speech within the hour, HRC and Obama may not. Obama won't move unless HRC provides cover. HRC will have to abandon triangulation once and for all, she can't parse this or she is screwed. Parsing will infuriate the progressive base, they want out of Iraq, they want out not today but yesterday. Parsing also spells trouble in the General, once the unwashed masses figure out this means war-without-end-amen. Once Joe and Jane six-pack figure out this means the occupation drags out another 20 to 30 years they will be in a very foul mood.
And that is the other hope , the hope being that maybe King George was too clever by a half. Conventional wisdom holds that the Christmas Holidays freezes politics and political discussion. The combination of tryptophan overload from eating all that Thanksgiving turkey and the Christmas Shopping frenzy leaves no time for political ruminations. John and Jill Q Public are way to frazzled to care about the doings of the political elites, that is the meme of those in the know. But once again those in know may not be as smart as they think, this is a very large elephant in the room that Bush is trying to sneak past the Christmas tree. What happens if the pachyderm leaves his own "present" under the decorated branches? The citizenry may react much more ferociously than any of their "betters" imagine.