The Washington Independent
The Washington Independent

A Post-American Iraq, Or Not, Or Sort-Of?

Last updated: 07/31/2020 08:00 | 12/10/2008 05:16
Katharine Tate

In light of Iraq spokeman Ali al-Dabbagh’s vision of Iraq pushing the Middle East in a European Union-style direction of common markets, it’s striking just how little effort he devoted to mentioning a place for the U.S.

Now, a Middle Eastern E.U. is as ambitious as it is desirable, so asking how realistic Dabbagh’s proposal is may be a mistake. But outside of using the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) as a springboard to claim “full sovereignty” for Iraq and to say that the pace of withdrawal within the context of the agreement must be “decide[d] jointly,” the U.S. didn’t have a place in what Dabbagh was talking about. Indeed, he threw the occasional elbow at the Bush administration. His regional framework, for instance, represented “self-initiated democracy,” which is “much better than an imposed formula, and we noticed for the last five years there is an objection [in the region]… against that imposed formula.” In other words, the U.S. invades or makes a speech during an inauguration instructing the Middle East how things are going to work now, and it does little but run democracy’s name through the mud.

But is the U.S. really getting out of Iraq? My friend Eli Lake writes in The New Republic that it’s unclear.  Eli’s piece is itself unclear. Sometimes he says a “residual U.S. force of considerable size is likely to remain for the medium to long term,” when his piece doesn’t demonstrate  (unless we take lax understandings of the adjectives “considerable,” “residual,” “medium” and “long”), while at other times concluding that “the end of the war [looks like] the beginning of a long-term friendship,” which is a more justifiable statement from the piece. Lake’s main piece of evidence is that Barry McCaffrey wrote in a report that the Iraqis are going to need to buy U.S. weaponry and therefore will accept U.S. training. Maybe — they certainly want the weapons — but after the New York Times reported that McCaffrey has sold his integrity to the highest defense-contractor bidder, I wouldn’t rely on what he says.

There’s some other stuff in the piece about how the SOFA envisions the use of Iraqi bases to be negotiated through a joint U.S.-Iraqi security committee — it’s Article Six in the document — but that’s in the context of the agreement itself, which has U.S. troops out in December 2011. If what the piece is actually documenting is a U.S. military desire to stay in Iraq despite the SOFA, that’s interesting and should have been more clearly presented. But if it’s merely portraying the side dishes as the the main course, so to speak, then it’s difficult to know what to actually make of the piece.

But for purposes of discussion let’s entertain the less controversial point that the U.S. will have some relationship with Iraq after Dec. 2011. Hard to see how anyone would object to that, right? After all, if there’s no military occupation of Iraq and relations are normalized — in terms of trade, human rights, and political ties — that’s fundamentally unobjectionable, at least at the level of strategy. What’s interesting is how the Maliki government, represented yesterday in Washington by Dabbagh, doesn’t discuss an Iraqi-U.S. relationship, he discusses an Iraqi-Mideastern relationship. Obviously as long as the U.S. is in the Middle East — and, for that matter, remains a superpower — Iraq will have some relationship with us, but it’s significant and worth noting that the Maliki government deemphasizes that relationship when sketching out its visions. It might reasonably be observed that such a deemphasis occurs because there’s going to be a series of provincial elections next month, but that itself is barometrically significant — no one’s running for those elections on a platform of greater ties to the United States.

Katharine Tate | I’m a native of Massachusetts, where I earned bachelor's degrees in Health: Science, Society, and Policy and Sculpture from Brandeis University. I enjoy assisting and inspiring women in all aspects of their lives, and I consider myself a partner in their OB an GYN treatment. I particularly enjoy forming relationships with young women and assisting them in determining their healthcare needs and goals. I love to travel, create metal and fiber art, cook, and spend time outside. Also, I’m fluent in both German and American Sign Language.


$1.3 trillion in federal spending unaccounted for, report finds

Despite calls for independent bodies to keep government accountable, the Sunlight Foundation’s most recent Clearspending report has found the federal

$1.89 billion given to states to fight HIV

The federal government Monday announced more than $1.89 billion in funding to states to fight the HIV epidemic with access to care and with more cash for the failing AIDS Drug Assistance Program. According to an HHS press release , $813 million of that money will go directly to the ADAP programming. An additional $8,386,340 will be issued as a supplement to 36 states and territories currently facing a litany of unmet needs and access issues.

1. Brian Schweitzer

As governor of Montana, Schweitzer doesn’t represent one of the most highly populated, high-profile electoral states in the country. But this

$1.3 Million for Brown

The GOP’s candidate in the Massachusetts special election raised more than one million dollars -- double the goal -- in a 24-hour moneybomb on the Ron Paul

1 Brigade and 1 Battalion

ISTANBUL – It’s 10 p.m. in the lowest level of the Istanbul airport. In 20 minutes I’ll be allowed to board my plane to Kabul, bringing me to the

#1 in Conspiracy Theories

Andrew Young’s tell-all biography of John Edwards, hitting shelves next week, is surging in one category in particular. #1 in Conspiracy

1. Lindsey Graham

Sen. Graham (R-S.C.) is typically regarded as a reliable vote for his party, but he took the bold step of breaking with his fellow Republicans to join Kerry

$1 Trillion for Fannie and Freddie?

That is the worst-case scenario, according to Egan-Jones Ratings Co., quoted in a Bloomberg article making the rounds. The agency says that if home prices

$1 Million for Toomey

Pat Toomey, the former Club for Growth president and leading Republican candidate in Pennsylvania’s 2010 Senate race, has announced a $1 million haul in the

Bachmann uncomfortable over earmarks ban

Republicans appear to have boxed themselves into a corner with their portrayal of earmarks as wasteful spending, as many of them have backed a moratorium on

Troubled mine holds hope for U.S. rare earth industry

China currently controls 97 percent of the world’s rare earth production. The Mountain Pass Mine could change that -- if it can overcome serious environmental concerns.

© Copyright 2021 The Washington Independent All Rights Reserved

Terms & Privacy |