My Offer to You Gentleman, Is This: Nothing!
Thursday, February 07, 2008 at 9:45 am
By July, the Bush administration will have worked out a long-term basing-rights deal with the Iraqi government, thereby extending our excellent adventure indefinitely. But it gets better! According to Defense Secretary Bob Gates, we won’t be promising to… come to Iraq’s defense or anything. Reuters:
The United States will not promise to defend Iraq nor seek permanent bases there under a planned agreement on future relations between the two states, U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates said on Wednesday.
“The status-of-forces agreement that is being discussed will not contain a commitment to defend Iraq and neither will any strategic framework agreement,” Gates told a U.S. Senate panel.
As Juan Cole points out, the administration is doing this for the most cynical of reasons: to pre-empt the need for Senate ratification of the impending deal, which would be required for any security guarantee. And I’m not saying that we should create an open-ended security commitment to an illiberal, sectarian, quasi-Islamist government. But consider what we’re actually telling the Iraqis here: “Hey, dudes, this is what we’re gonna do. You’re going to swallow your national pride and say our military can stay here as long as we like. But if you guys are attacked or anything, don’t expect that military to, you know, do anything for you. OK? Sound good? And in English, ‘Maliki’ is spelled Emm-Ayy-Ell…”
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