CNN’s Ware: ‘Iran Has a Lock on Influence and Persuasion… Within the Iraqi Political Process’
My extremely tall friend Matt Duss of the Center for American Progress has a fascinating video interview with CNN’s Michael Ware, who’s done yeoman work reporting from Baghdad. Ware’s take on the Status of Forces Agreement: Iran had much more influence over the process than the U.S. seems to realize.
Taking Ware at face value, let’s explore the implications of this. The SOFA ended up as a lever for the Iraqi government to push the U.S. out of the country on a firm timetable. Iran wanted that, clearly. You wouldn’t want tens of thousands of troops from a hostile power on two of your borders either. But clearly vast swaths of U.S. public opinion have a similar perspective about what’s in the U.S. interest. Nearly 67 million people voted for the presidential candidate who proposed withdrawing from Iraq along a timeline; and of the 10 percent who said Iraq was their number-one concern, six in ten of them voted for that same candidate.
Now, you can look at this in a variety of ways. One way of looking at it is that 53 percent of the American electorate are Iranian stooges, naive and nefarious useful idiots for a ruthless band of religious fanatics. Another way is that the end of the occupation of Iraq is an example where U.S., Iraqi and Iranian interests all converge, and recognizing that might be a useful place to begin recasting the U.S.-Iranian relationship.