Pentagon Officials Fear Iraqi Control of U.S. Military Operations
Granted, the U.S.-Iraq Status of Forces Agreement has been kind of under the media radar in general. But what’s really gotten no attention, even from obsessives like myself, are the restrictions it places on U.S. military operations in Iraq over the next three years. Consider this vague language in Article 4:
All these operations will be conducted with the necessity of fully respecting the Iraqi Constitution and Iraqi Law, and conducting these operations will be without overstepping the sovereignty of Iraq and its national interests as determined by the Iraqi government. It is the duty of the U.S. to respect the laws of Iraq, its customs and traditions and valid international law.
The Iraqi constitution is a massive and unclear document. How does a company commander in Arab Jabour or Mosul follow this instruction? And these aren’t the only restrictions by a long shot. As McClatchy’s Nancy Youssef notes, the Iraqis now control even the mail sent to the troops. (Your copy of Fallout 3 is no longer secure…)
Youssef has a fantastic piece about military commanders’ concerns in this regard. They think that George W. Bush basically sold out their operational flexibility in his odd zeal to get an agreement in place. And sure enough, even though his insistence on a deal gave the Iraqis all the leverage and undid his plans for what Youssef calls “a semi-permanent occupation,” Bush didn’t reject the agreement.
As Obama’s chances to be elected president improved, the White House felt it was under more pressure. Neither the administration nor the Iraqis wanted to extend the U.N. resolution. “It turned into a very peculiar political predicament,” the officer said.
Someday I want to report out what was going through the administration’s collective mind when it opted to stick with the SOFA process despite the Iraqis’ undermining the administration’s rationale for the deal.