Mullen To Iraqis: Please Take This Basing Deal!
If there’s been one cardinal Bush administration tenet for negotiations, it’s been Not To Negotiate With Yourself.
In practice, that’s meant presenting your reputed negotiating “partners” with a fait accompli, or telling them that it’s our way or no deal. Unfortunately, that doesn’t work well when you don’t have a strong hand.
All of which is a way to explain why Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, is telling the Iraqi government to approve the basing deal:
Though the discussions in Iraq are the sign of a healthy debate in a burgeoning democracy, the chairman said, the time has come for action. “Certainly, I recognize the right of the people of Iraq, through their representative government, to make decisions about their sovereignty and their future,” the admiral said. “But we are clearly running out of time.”
Yeah, that’s the thing, though. The administration has boxed itself in really badly on this basing deal. And the Iraqis still think they can get a better one. That’s why Mullen’s statement, for all its bluster, has a whiff of desperation. After all, the Iraqis are right, because the last thing the administration wants is to preside over the collapse of the legal justification for the occupation. Maybe Mullen is actually hinting that the administration will scrap the process and return to the U.N. Security Council to seek a renewed mandate for the occupation. At this point, that’s actually the administration’s best option.