Thursday, June 05, 2008

Sea anchoring Iraq

Almost without anyone noticing, the relationship between the US and the Government of Iraq is moving from an authorization under UN Chapter VII to a bilateral agreement between two fully sovereign countries. Chapter VII "sets out the UN Security Council's powers to maintain peace. It allows the Council to "determine the existence of any threat to the peace, breach of the peace, or act of aggression" and to take military and nonmilitary action to "restore international peace and security".

Late last year, President Bush and Iraqi PM Maliki "signed the declaration of principles during a secure videoconference as part of an effort to move forward 4 1/2 years after a U.S.-led coalition invaded Iraq and toppled Saddam Hussein. The declaration calls for the current U.N. mandate to be extended one year, then replaced at the end of 2008 by a bilateral pact governing the economic, political and security aspects of the relationship," according to the Washington Post.

According to an email I received summarizing Ambassador Ryan Crocker's press conference on June 5, 2008 "the Iraqis have made clear they do not want to go beyond 2008 under a Chapter VII Security Council [mandate for MNF-I]" and "both governments … would like to get the strategic framework agreements done".

Despite the repeated characterization of the OIF as "Bush's War", and despite arguments that the war is illegal, it can claim legitimacy not only under UN Chapter VII, but an authorization from Congress, and may presently be the subject of a bilateral agreement between an elected Middle Eastern government and the United States.

Crocker said that Iran is doing all it can to scupper the strategic framework negotiations. However, some regional goverments may see it as inevitable. Crocker said that "the foreign minister of the United Arab Emirates … just announced that they are returning an ambassador and reopening their embassy."

If current trends continue, there is little chance that Iran can stop the emergence of regionally recognized and stable Iraq. Their best hope is stall until possibly favorable political developments in Washington allow them to effectively raise the issue of Iraqi sovereignty in negotiations with the new administration. A direct challenge is unlikely, since sovereignty was legally returned to Iraq four years ago under UN Security Council resolution 1546.

It is far more likely for opponents to take the view that United States forces are themselves a threat to Iraqi sovereignty, insofar as they retain freedom of action. Expect Iranians to make the argument, fully seconded by the US domestic left, that in order for Iraq to be sovereign America must leave.

That effectively puts Iraqi sovereignty back on the table again, albeit surreptitiously, because Teheran will obviously have the opportunity to re-open its campaign of subversion after America leaves. They have read the history of the Vietnam War as well as anyone. Being in the region themselves, the Iranians will have no corresponding obligation to leave. Therefore, at issue in any strategic framework negotiation will be how much leeway and power Coalition Forces will continue to have in the future. But the other threat to Iraqi sovereignty are regionally sponsored forces just waiting for the US to leave in order to Iraq into another Lebanon. Any stable Iraqi configuration will have enough force to keep the regional bad guys away while being small enough to let Iraq develop independently.

What will be needed is some kind of guarantor force sized large enough to repel any attempts to undermine Iraqi sovereignty, yet unintrusive enough to permit the emergence of a confident and fully national Iraq. It's not an impossible challenge for the US, as postwar Germany, Japan and South Korea proved. But it will probably take a lot of effort and require the commitment of several future administrations, especially given the volatile characteristics of the Middle East as opposed to say, Western Europe. Alternatives such as relying on the UN to provide a guarantor force have been mooted, but the UN record in Lebanon and Kosovo are very poor comparisons to the American record in Germany, Japan and South Korea. Relying on the UN is like relying on an air umbrella to keep out the rain.

My own guess is that the US must eventually replace a direct protection of Iraq with troops by a wider set of pressure points on Iran to keep the Ayatollahs in line. Even after the US troop levels have been been reduced, Teheran should still remain wary of messing with Iraq. Once again, this presumes a long-term commitment to confronting aggressive powers within the region from future US administrations.

The Belmont Club is supported largely by donations from its readers.


Blogger Doug said...

Opponents take the view that United States forces are themselves a threat to United States Sovereignty.
Revealed: Secret plan to keep Iraq under US control

A secret deal being negotiated in Baghdad would perpetuate the American military occupation of Iraq indefinitely, regardless of the outcome of the US presidential election in November.

6/05/2008 05:00:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

(this is not to imply they APPROVE of United States Sovereignty)

6/05/2008 05:01:00 PM  
Blogger Cas said...

Why not open a base or bases in the "semi-independent Kurdish area" of Iraq?
There have been limited terrorist attacks there, and surely the Kurds are one of the the most Pro-American peoples in the Middle-East (including Israel).
An air base near Kirkuk or Irbil, and even better, a training base in the mountains, near the Iranian border and within easy flying distance to both Eastern Europe AND Tehran.

6/05/2008 05:26:00 PM  
Blogger Lilith said...

A secret deal being negotiated in Baghdad would perpetuate the American military occupation of Iraq indefinitely, regardless of the outcome of the US presidential election in November.

The Commander-in-Chief can hollow out any base and move troops wither he will. Military policies are not automatically binding on the next Administration, otherwise Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton would still be helping to steer the ship of State. That is sort of the whole point of voting in elections.

6/05/2008 06:04:00 PM  
Blogger bobal said...

Wasn't it after all Big Bill "Bubba' Clinton that first called for 'regime change' in Iraq? I believe that was his policy. W just carried it out. One administration carrying on the from the next, elections be damned.

6/05/2008 07:23:00 PM  
Blogger bobal said...

Bill Clinton Signs Onto 'Regime Change'

W's just a good tropper, respecting precedent.

6/05/2008 07:27:00 PM  
Blogger bobal said...

Whereas that has been switch Hillary, blowing with the winds, criticized and wanted to chuck both Bill's and W's policy and hightail it, for the sake of some votes, or so she said, on occasion.

6/05/2008 07:40:00 PM  
Blogger Marcus Aurelius said...

I think what is likely to happen is if McCain wins little changes. If the JFK Lama wins little changes. I am guessing both will say Bush made such a mess of things WE HAVE to stay and fix it up.

If it is McCain who says it the nutroots will go crazy and keep up with their crazy McCain == Bush. If it is the JFK Lama then the nutroots will have no idea what's going on.

6/05/2008 08:12:00 PM  
Blogger Tamquam Leo Rugiens said...

In regards to the next administration, it little matters who wins the Presidency. Following the American withdrawl in Vietnam it was not the President who sold the South out, it was Congress. It appears likely that the next Congress will have an even bigger Democratic majority than the current one. Given that, it would not surprise me at all if once again Congress pulled the money plug on an ally with victory in it's grasp. The consequences of that would be immeasurable, of course. But in the end, is there really any price too high to stick it to Bushhitler? It's all a matter of perspective.

6/05/2008 09:41:00 PM  
Blogger NahnCee said...

When will Iraq get it together enough to have another election?

Will they need American soldiers protecting their skanky asses (again) if they do decide to hold another election?

I just don't see why anyone is talking about Iraq being a sovereign nation giving the US rights to stay there, when they can't do a single damned thing on their own, including pumping their own oil.

6/05/2008 09:56:00 PM  
Blogger Eric said...

For bobal, re President Clinton and Iraq . . .

President Bill Clinton, 1998:

"The hard fact is that so long as Saddam remains in power, he threatens the well-being of his people, the peace of his region, the security of the world.

The best way to end that threat once and for all is with a new Iraqi government -- a government ready to live in peace with its neighbors, a government that respects the rights of its people. Bringing change in Baghdad will take time and effort."

President Bill Clinton, 1998:

"The United States wants Iraq to rejoin the family of nations as a freedom-loving and law-abiding member. This is in our interest and that of our allies within the region.

The United States favors an Iraq that offers its people freedom at home. I categorically reject arguments that this is unattainable due to Iraq's history or its ethnic or sectarian make-up. Iraqis deserve and desire freedom like everyone else.

The United States looks forward to a democratically supported regime that would permit us to enter into a dialogue leading to the reintegration of Iraq into normal international life."

Former President Bill Clinton, 2003:

"Let me tell you what I know. When I left office, there was a substantial amount of biological and chemical material unaccounted for. That is, at the end of the first Gulf War, we knew what he had. We knew what was destroyed in all the inspection processes and that was a lot. And then we bombed with the British for four days in 1998. We might have gotten it all; we might have gotten half of it; we might have gotten none of it. But we didn't know. So I thought it was prudent for the president to go to the U.N. and for the U.N. to say you got to let these inspectors in, and this time if you don't cooperate the penalty could be regime change, not just continued sanctions."

"It is incontestable that on the day I left office, there were unaccounted for stocks of biological and chemical weapons. We might have destroyed them in '98. We tried to, but we sure as heck didn't know it because we never got to go back in there. And what I think -- again, I would say the most important thing is we should focus on what's the best way to build Iraq as a democracy?"

"We should be pulling for America on this. We should be pulling for the people of Iraq."

6/05/2008 10:55:00 PM  
Blogger Joshua said...

Tamquam: The wild card in that is Iraqi oil exports, especially with today's skyrocketing oil prices. By the time Congress finally manages to cut off funding, the Iraqis themselves may well be able to make up that lost money and then some.

6/05/2008 11:41:00 PM  
Blogger tarpon said...

Comrade Obama says he will pull out ... regardless. So the fact there may be an agreement would just make it necessary that the US would unilaterally abrogate the agreement. Something that no one has done before Comrade Obama's rule.

6/06/2008 06:22:00 AM  
Blogger Wadeusaf said...

Would that be Persian style Carpet OH Baggers or just Baathist Carpet OH Baggers?

Remove the federal troops and feast on the plunder. The people be Damned.

Sounds to be an historically accurate portrait of the Democrat Party and Democrat Controlled Congress. Provable by repetition to be the reaction of the Democrat Party.

New, for the 21st Century, Carpet O'Baggers, now for sale at your local Chicago alderman's favorite hospital and soon to be found on Capitol Grounds (for the right price).

6/06/2008 09:27:00 AM  
Blogger bg said...


just fyi: HT : OIF/MNF

U.S. Isn’t Seeking Permanent
Bases in Iraq, Ambassador Says


[The United States is not seeking permanent military bases in Iraq as it negotiates legal and military agreements with the Iraqi government, U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Ryan C. Crocker said June 5.

Speaking at the State Department, Crocker called published reports that the United States is trying to set up permanent bases “flatly untrue.”

“There clearly is going to be a need” for a U.S. and coalition military presence in Iraq beyond the end of the year, Crocker said. But the status of forces agreement, when adopted, “is not going to be forever, particularly as it related to the status and authority of coalition forces in Iraq,” he said.

“So I’m very comfortable saying to you – to the Iraqis, to anyone who asks – that no, indeed, we are not seeking permanent bases, either explicitly or implicitly, by just intending to stay there indefinitely,” he said.]



6/06/2008 06:51:00 PM  
Blogger bg said...


Eric @ 10:55:00 PM..

more here..


6/06/2008 06:55:00 PM  

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