The Permanent-Occupation Deal: Almost Entirely Totally Possibly Dead
At the risk of prediction, it’s lights-out for the Bush/Maliki permanent-occupation scheme. Yesterday, The Washington Post reported that unbearable pressures on Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki have forced him to reject the Bush administration’s demands to own Iraq. In place of a permanent-occupation agreement will be a pact substituting for U.N. authority to keep troops in the country. A couple things need to be said here.
First, having lost the ability to control its proxy, Bush will sell the accord as an election-year stunt intended to end the war — something to help Maliki in the upcoming provincial elections just as it’s meant to help John McCain. Consider the following quote:
Maliki, who last week publicly insisted on a withdrawal timeline, wants to frame the agreement as outlining the terms for “Americans leaving Iraq” rather than the conditions under which they will stay, said the U.S. official, who like others spoke on the condition of anonymity because U.S.-Iraqi negotiations are ongoing.
The idea, he said, is to “take the heat off [Maliki] a little bit, to rebrand the thing and counter the narrative that he’s negotiating for a permanent military presence in Iraq.”
So substantively the thing won’t end the war, but it will “rebrand the narrative.” Note this as well:
According to U.S. officials, Maliki also hopes that a temporary protocol would circumvent the full parliamentary review and two-thirds vote he has promised for a status-of-forces agreement. “He is trying to figure out, just as we did, how you can set up an agreement between the two and have it be legally binding,” one official said, “but not go through the legislative body.”
That should be an enduring testament to the Bush administration. Along with its proxy in Baghdad, it intended to commit the U.S. to a long-term occupation of a foreign country while actively circumventing the voracious anti-occupation sentiment in both countries. But that leads to the second point.
Namely: it failed. It failed. Not even a Bush administration unfettered by legislative resistance was able to force itself on Iraq in the way it wanted. Instead, the Post reports, the 2009 agreement will refer to U.S. troops leaving and U.S. diplomats leaving the massive imperial embassy. We win. The Iraqis win. They lose. al-Qaeda loses. They lost.