The “Lull” In Iraqi War Coverage


Well, whadda ya know. The Washington Post is suddenly curious why the reporting of the Iraqi war has been sorta quiet. Hell, judging by the newspapers across this country its hard to even know there is still a war going on over there.

Of course the conservatives have asked this question for going on a year now ever since the surge started producing results.

There’s been a relative lull in news coverage and debate about Iraq in recent weeks — which is odd, because May could turn out to have been one of the most important months of the war. While Washington’s attention has been fixed elsewhere, military analysts have watched with astonishment as the Iraqi government and army have gained control for the first time of the port city of Basra and the sprawling Baghdad neighborhood of Sadr City, routing the Shiite militias that have ruled them for years and sending key militants scurrying to Iran. At the same time, Iraqi and U.S. forces have pushed forward with a long-promised offensive in Mosul, the last urban refuge of al-Qaeda. So many of its leaders have now been captured or killed that U.S. Ambassador Ryan C. Crocker, renowned for his cautious assessments, said that the terrorists have “never been closer to defeat than they are now.”

Iraq passed a turning point last fall when the U.S. counterinsurgency campaign launched in early 2007 produced a dramatic drop in violence and quelled the incipient sectarian war between Sunnis and Shiites. Now, another tipping point may be near, one that sees the Iraqi government and army restoring order in almost all of the country, dispersing both rival militias and the Iranian-trained “special groups” that have used them as cover to wage war against Americans. It is — of course — too early to celebrate; though now in disarray, the Mahdi Army of Moqtada al-Sadr could still regroup, and Iran will almost certainly seek to stir up new violence before the U.S. and Iraqi elections this fall. Still, the rapidly improving conditions should allow U.S. commanders to make some welcome adjustments — and it ought to mandate an already-overdue rethinking by the “this-war-is-lost” caucus in Washington, including Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.).

The article goes on to detail how General Petraeus has recommended that more troops come home, over and above the already scheduled 5 Brigades and that the next President will be reaping the benefits of the success in Iraq.

All well and good but the article never delves into the reason why the crickets are chirping in the news rooms across the nation on Iraq. Ever since the war started all we have heard day in and day out is that Iraq is a disaster and will lead to nothing but chaos and anarchy. It was just over 13 months ago that we heard these brilliant words:

“Now I believe, myself, that the secretary of state, the secretary of defense and you have to make your own decision as to what the president knows: that this war is lost, that the surge is not accomplishing anything,”
– Senator Harry Reid, April 17th, 2008

When told the surge was working Hillary Clinton said this last September:

I think that the reports that you provide to us really require the willing suspension of disbelief.

They can no longer utter those lines, so instead they just stay quiet. The Democrats and our media has invested so much of their credibility on the fact that Iraq would not, could not, succeed. How else to blame Bush? History will show that Bush did the right thing in taking out Saddam. That the invasion was well executed. That the following 3+ years inside that country was handled badly, and that Bush adapted…as great leaders do….and brought in new ideas, new leaders, and changed tactics. Which worked.

Democrats won’t say this of course because that would give credit to Bush. So instead they just remain quiet along with their cohorts….our MSM.

More here.

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Had an excellent post up on the decrease in press coverage.

Well worth the read.

They have to start reporting the good news sometime. After all, it has been delayed now for some time. They can’t have the populace wake up one morning with the news that Iraq is won and no word on winning up to that time on it at all. That might make the populace doubt unbiased coverage. That might even make the electorate think the media was dishonest. They have to cover their tracks.

But would the liberal media sell out to get a Democrat elected? Sure. They may get things from the Democrats that personally benefits them.

The big question remains: Will voters hold Democrats who sold them nothing but defeat and withdrawal for the last four years accountable?

“Now, another tipping point may be near, one that sees the Iraqi government and army restoring order in almost all of the country, dispersing both rival militias and the Iranian-trained “special groups” that have used them as cover to wage war against Americans.”

That’s not the real tipping point. The real shift in Iraq, occurring during this ‘lull’, are the political games taking place in Iraq over the US-Iraq security accord. This is where ‘restoring order’ is going to take place, too; and it will probably happen within a year– even ending the occupation –with Najaf becoming as powerful, or more, as Baghdad.

That’s why there’s really been so much quiet in the press. Everyone now thinks, based on stories, whispers, rumors (call them what you want) that Najaf won’t tolerate a US occupation any longer and so the accord is dead.

The Administration, right wing media, and bloggers have been absolutely silent about it, while the left has been frantic, speculating away, trying to find out more about what’s going on in Najaf and trying to understand what behind the changing political streams in Parliament over Sistani’s disquiet.

Poor Doug… running low on DNC supplied defeatist talking points and now left to try and shift the goal posts just one more time!

Tsk tsk tsk!

Iraq’s chief spokesman acknowledged differences with the United States over a proposed long-term security agreement and pledged yesterday that the government will protect Iraqi sovereignty in ongoing talks with the Americans.

Australia became the latest member of the US-led coalition to pull combat soldiers from Iraq, meanwhile, fulfilling an election promise that helped sweep Prime Minister Kevin Rudd to power in November.

Opposition has been growing in Iraq to the proposed security pact with the United States, which will replace the current UN mandate and could provide for a long-term American military role in this country.

Much of the opposition comes from anti-American Shi’ite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, but statements critical of the deal have also been issued by mainstream Sunni and Shi’ite figures who fear it will undermine Iraqi sovereignty.

(LATimes) Hassan Suneid, a Dawa lawmaker, considered close to the prime minister, lashed out at American requests to conduct military operations without Iraqi approval.

“They are calling for unlimited jurisdiction in countering terror with mere American will. They want the air and land to be opened without any restrictions. They want immunity for those working with the army,” Suneid said. “This is not only an attempt to control, but rather an agreement with such characteristics worse than the occupation.”

Abdelaziz Hakim, the head of the Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council, also confirmed the Shiite elite’s unhappiness with American demands.

“There is a national consensus on rejecting many issues mentioned by the American side . . . because it’s compromising the Iraqi national sovereignty,” the Shiite leader said in a statement on his party’s website.

(KNA) Former Iraqi prime minister Ibrahim Al-Jafari condemned on Saturday the Iraqi-U.S. Strategic Partnership as “humiliating” and urged the national political forces to oppose the extension of the deal being pushed by the incumbent government.

“The deal is humiliating for the Iraqi people,” said Jafari, who is also chairman of the newly-formed National Reform Trend, in statements to the press here.

Opposition to the security accord is almost universal.

(Reuters) A July target for negotiating an agreement on future relations between Iraq and the United States is likely to be missed, an Iraqi government spokesman said on Tuesday.

U.S. and Iraqi officials began talks in March on twin agreements on the status of U.S. military forces in Iraq after 2008 and a strategic framework agreement that defines long-term bilateral ties.

Washington has said it aims to wrap up the talks by July, but Iraqi government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh said that was unlikely to happen.

“I don’t think that we can meet this date. There is a difference in viewpoints between Iraq and the U.S. I don’t think that time is enough to end this gap and to reach a joint understanding … Therefore, we are not committed to July as a deadline,” he told al-Arabiya television.

Another set-back for the Administration. This ‘difference in viewpoints’ over the security accord is not only practically speaking universal for Iraqi leaders, but it’s ‘gap’ is so wide that it’s not possible for its strong version of it to be implemented at all.

While we don’t know many of the facts behind the politial posturing, we do know there is enough support now to force a missed target date for Bush and McCain to lose big here on bragging rights– Iraqi sovereignty wins. Adding to this weakening military foothold are also the real uncertainties for the fall provincial elections. Without the elections, Sunni’s remain politically unrepresented, as well as some Shia districts. Last week Sunni’s walked out of parliament claiming their rights to support various officials in parliament were being oppressed.

Now it’s more and more clearly the case that Maliki and the Administration are politically weak in Iraq, they are finding they can’t bolster the clout to steer the political waters as they wish, unless Iraqi sovereignty is prioritized… and, of course, if they do that the occupation is for all purposes finished.

“Likewise, we wish to inform you that the majority of Iraqi representatives strongly reject any military-security, economic, commercial, agricultural, investment or political agreement with the United States that is not linked to clear mechanisms that obligate the occupying American military forces to fully withdraw from Iraq, in accordance with a declared timetable and without leaving behind any military bases, soldiers or hired fighters.

The Iraqi Council of Representatives is looking to ratify to agreements that ratify every form of American intervention in Iraq’s internal affairs and restore Iraq’s independence and sovereignty over its land.”

Rep. Bill Delahunt (D-Mass.) released this letter today from 31 Iraqi legislators that asserts the proposed [security accord] agreement is opposed by a majority of the parliament if it does not include a specific timetable for the withdrawal of U.S. military troops.

The letter came in response to an inquiry on support inside the parliament for continued U.S. troop presence in the country.

Well, that certainly explains why the deadline for the security accord won’t be met in July, and why it may not even matter whose we elect in the fall.

Hold your horses there, Doug.

First off, there was very little info in the links you provided so I searched further about the agreements. More data of the differences comes to light. But first, let’s address the letter from the 31 Iraq Council of Representative members, taken from The Crypt blog by Ryan Grim.

The elected body has 275 members. 31 members who object via the letter constitutes 11% of the entire assembly. Now when an agreement is hammered out, it will have to go thru the Assembly, as they state in the letter. This 11% can vote against the agreement. But it’s doubtful that will be enough to overturn the agreement… just as 11% of our own Congressional progressives have limited power in our own Congress. It’s not a dictatorship anymore. This 11% can’t dictate their demands onto the rest of the Council.

As to the differences on the agreement. The May 23rd Gulf News article has a more complete article on the details and points of contention.

These negotiations seem to be very difficult for Iraqis because Americans have rejected the restrictions and conditions which the Iraqi government intends to impose on American forces operating on its territory, according to the Iraqi Parliament Security and Defence Commission’s Vice Chairman, Abdul Karim Al Samarai.

Samarai told Gulf News: “There are disagreements with the Americans about the number of military bases that the Americans want to build and their locations, in addition to the power and authority that forces can enjoy inside Iraq.”

Al Samarai said the Iraqi and American sides both agree about the importance of these military bases, but during negotiations another problem has emerged. Americans seem to be putting off the Iraqi government’s demand for a US pledge to take all practical steps to lift the international trusteeship on Iraq. That would mean releasing Iraq from the seventh item of the United Nations Charter which recognises this tutelage.


The commander of the Kurdish Peshmerga forces, Jaafar Al Barazanji, confirmed that there is a serious American approach to establish military bases in Iraq’s northern region of Kurdistan. He told Gulf News: “The existence of the military bases is so essential for Iraq’s security and therefore there must be American bases in Kurdistan, middle and south of Iraq. The Iraqi armed forces do not seem to be able to protect borders and address terrorism … therefore the American bases should exist for the next 15 or 20 years.”

Al Barazanji affirmed that there are internal risks to Iraq’s democratic future and there is a large flow of Islamic fundamentalist organisations in the Middle East which requires an American commitment in any long-term agreement to defend Iraq’s security and its ongoing political process.

Some political sources close to the Iraqi government confirmed that Kurds have accepted establishing most of the US military bases on Kurdistan’s territory, if the controversy continues over allocating them in Shiite southern or Sunni western provinces. These bases may justify the continuation of the armed Iraqi resistance in these territories.

You also choose to leave out a few pertinent paragraphs from the Boston Globe article you linked in your post #7.

Chief government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh said the Iraqi negotiators have a “vision and a draft that is different” from the Americans but that the talks, which began in March, were still in an early stage.

“There is great emphasis by the Iraqi government on fully preserving the sovereignty of Iraq in its lands, skies, waters, and its internal and external relations,” Dabbagh said. “The Iraqi government will not accept any article that infringes on sovereignty and does not guarantee Iraqi interests.”

US officials have refused to comment on the talks until they are complete but have insisted they are not seeking permanent bases.

The agreement is to replace a UN mandate for US-led forces that expires at the end of the year.


During a press conference yesterday, Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari, a Kurd, spoke out in favor of the US-Iraq security agreement, saying Iraq’s forces still needed the support of the US-led coalition.

“Our forces and capabilities haven’t reached the level of self-sufficiency,” Zebari said at a joint news conference with visiting Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner of France. “We need this strategic security agreement . . . for the time being. But this is not open-ended.”

Let’s see… 11% of the Council opposes. Kurds offer most non-permanent US bases can be on Kurdish territory. Are there some Iraqis that object? Absolutely. Are they the majority? Doesn’t appear to be… and certainly not “almost universal”, as you portray.

Negotiations are in the early stage. Council must vote with majority approving before implemented. Strikes me as your declaring defeat of these security agreements is early in the game, yet again. A pesky habit you have there, guy. So they didn’t strike the magic note of unity right off the bat? Too bad. It’s been years since our Congress has done the same.


I think much of this is still evolving so I can’t speak with full certainty here. Reuters tells us the Iraqi letter was released only in excerpts. (Perhaps many of the names were not included):

A majority of the Iraqi parliament has written to Congress rejecting a long-term security deal with Washington if it is not linked to a requirement that U.S. forces leave, a U.S. lawmaker said on Wednesday.

Rep. William Delahunt, a Massachusetts Democrat and Iraq war opponent, released excerpts from a letter he was handed by Iraqi parliamentarians laying down conditions for the security pact that the Bush administration seeks with Iraq.

The proposed pact has become increasingly controversial in Iraq, where there have been protests against it. It has also drawn criticism from Democrats on the presidential election campaign trail in the United States, who say President George W. Bush is trying to dictate war policy after he leaves office.

“The majority of Iraqi representatives strongly reject any military-security, economic, commercial, agricultural, investment or political agreement with the United States that is not linked to clear mechanisms that obligate the occupying American military forces to fully withdraw from Iraq,” the letter to the leaders of Congress said.

The signatures represented just over half the membership of Iraq’s parliament, said Delahunt, a House Foreign Affairs subcommittee chairman.

Another possibility that I subscribe to is the signers were the leaders of their party. This seems to have been brought out in the testimony today and in the AP piece on the story. To watch a video on the proceedings and more background see ‘think progress’s’ detail sweep up.

The May 23rd Gulf news piece is pretty much out dated. I won’t detail the time line again here, as I’ve done it too many time here and other places. I’ll only say that Najaf’s religious leaders goaded parliamentarians to oppose the security deal which worked it’s way up the political food chain, to where we are today. That’s one theory I think that works; another is that the Admin. wanted to rob the bank on Iraqi sovereignty; perhaps both are true. But certainly, the third paragraph of the piece can be contested based on our present info. regarding the security accord; it also appears the Iraqi sovereignty argument is gaining political strength.

Regarding bases in Kurdish territory; that’s possible, however, remote. For this to happen would be a major Bush defeat and redirection in the Admins plans. Months and millions would be lost in this kind of redirection.

Dabbagh is using political understatement. Remember one must parse all politicians, and double-parse anything Iraqi news related.

Lastly, as I’ve said before, this explains partly why things have almost frozen up in the Iraqi news cycle the past week plus. Najaf put a strangle hold on Parliament after Sistani met with Maliki; and/or Maliki said no way to Crocker as Bush asked for too much. Now all things Iraq are in a slow motion political fog as politicians have to rethink alliances and all the angles—even the SIIC came out against the accord in the end (that could have even changed now).

Iraq is now in political flux not seen in years. Will the sleeping bears in Najaf speak again? Is Maliki opposed to the intent of the accord? Will Iran or Najaf use Sadr as a proxy, or even Iranian mullahs to put pressure on Iraq?

Anyway, here’s tomorrow’s “big” story on some of this stuff:

Also here is Allawi’s piece in the same paper for tomorrow:

” The US is pushing for the enactment of a “strategic alliance” with Iraq, partly as a precondition for supporting Iraq’s removal from its sanctioned status under Chapter 7 of the UN Charter. It is a treaty under any other name. It has been structured as an alliance partly to avoid subjecting its terms to the approval of the US Senate, and partly to obfuscate its significance. Although the draft has not been circulated outside official circles, the leaks raise serious alarm about its long-term significance for Iraq’s sovereignty and independence. Of course the terms of the alliance for Iraq will be sweetened with promises of military and economic aid, but these are no different in essence from the commitments made in Iraq’s previous disastrous treaty entanglements.

The Bush administration has set 31 July as the deadline for the signing of the agreement. Under the present plan, the draft of the agreement will have to be brought to Iraq’s parliament for approval. Parliament, however, is beholden to the political parties that dominate the present coalition, and there is unlikely to be substantive debate on the matter. The Shia religious leadership in Najaf, especially Grand Ayatollah Sistani, has not clearly come out against the agreement, although his spokesmen have set out markers that must be respected by the negotiators. The Najaf religious hierarchy is probably the only remaining institution that can block the agreement. But it is unclear whether the political or religious leadership are prepared to confront the US. President Bush, with an eye on history, is seeking to salvage his Iraq expedition by claiming that Iraq is now pacified and is a loyal American ally in the Middle East and the War on Terror.

It is only now that Iraqis have woken up to the possibility that Iraq might be a signatory on a long-term security treaty with the US, as a price for regaining its full sovereignty. Iraqis must know its details and implications. How would such an alliance constrain Iraq’s freedom in choosing its commercial, military and political partners? Will Iraq be obliged to openly or covertly support all of America’s policies in the Middle East? These are issues of a vital nature that cannot be brushed aside with the Iraqi government’s platitudes about “protecting Iraqi interests”. A treaty of such singular significance to Iraq cannot be rammed through with less than a few weeks of debate. Otherwise, the proposed strategic alliance will most certainly be a divisive element in Iraqi politics. It will have the same disastrous effect as the treaty with Britain nearly eighty years ago.”

Doug, the Iraq sovereignty is directly related to the UN international trusteeship status. That is a legitimate bone of contention. It’s an old League of Nations method of nation building, and was used for about 11 countries until they got their govt and bureacratic infrastructure up to snuff. It is a UN treaty, and the US as the trustee as the occupying force in the interim. It is not a permanent situation. However I do not know the criteria that allows for this status to be removed. They are already a member of the Security Council, so that’s not it. It may be a functional status of the government. And their budget/allocation/expenditures system is still dysfunctional.

I think the issues in the Gulf News are not outdated, just not as simplistic as Reuters and your Boston story portray. They prefer to focus solely on withdrawals. A guaranteed hit headline for western press, but hardly the entire story.

This admin has never stated they wanted permanent bases in Iraq. That is *not* a bone of contention, and is misinformation for the Indy/UK article you linked. And since there are others in the Council that do want temporary bases as part of the agreement to protect Iraq from terrorist and foreign influence, it’s not hard to see they may differ on the wheres, and authority.

If it is a majority of Council members, with only 31 signatures of leaders, then it’s sure not a “one representative, one vote” system, eh? I can just see Pelosi convincing everyone that her lone signature is supposed to include other representatives.

However it’s interesting they write their demands to a like-minded US Congress…. all done about an agreement that hasn’t even been constructed or presented yet. It was written as a response to a request, BTW. Since Feb Congress has been up in arms about these agreements, demanding to be part of the process. This conflicts wtih the legal interpretation of the 2002 Authorization to use Military Force in Iraq. But then, this is the group who wants to micromanage military operations too.

Personally, Reuters and AP are two sources that have a seriously bad track record for complete and accurate reporting. Right up there with McClatcheys. But I do try and catch all of them to piece together some facts from all.

So I agree, time will ultimately tell. But I believe this is a normal process – hammering out details between the officials representing both sides. At that time, they can present a final draft to the Iraq Assembly, and they can choose to reject it or amend it.

As I said, it’s still too early to call it defeat. And the “quiet” on the media front about Iraq is not just in the past weeks. Try all year, and the end of last year. Basra made it to the news, but none of it good. And certainly not the favorable aftermath.

Hakim, the leader of the ISCI, in parliament and Maliki’s foundational support, is telling the ME press he spoke to Sistani about the security agreement with the US.

Hakim states that Sistani supports a four point conditional approval of the Iraq-US security agreement:

There are reports (quoting Al-Hakim) that say that Sistani rejected the U.S. – Iraq security agreement [see Elaph link below], this is very misleading, the reality is Sistani (quoted by al-Hakim) refers to four point conditional approval of the agreement, as you see on Buratha website it says: “Sistani put four points conditions”.

Iraqi parliament defense commissioner revealed one point about the Americans ask for 50 military bases in Iraq, and Elaph added more dispute points between Maliki’s government and the Americans:

– The agreement does not mention Iraq’s removal from the seventh chapter.

– The Americans do not guarantee to provide any protection to Iraq against foreign aggression, unless the Americans are convinced of the aggression’s nature.

– Full control on the Iraqi airspace.

– U.S. forces and foreign contractors enjoy full immunity.

– U.S. forces allowed arresting any person believed to pose a terrorist threat on its security under the American Anti-Terrorism law as defined by U.S. terrorism law.

– American military equipment and army hardware can enter Iraq without previous reference to the government.

– Retain the rights to bring armies into Iraq within the “multinational forces” without referring to the Iraqi government.

In essence, Sistani has four general issues the agreement must adhere to:

1 National Sovereignty
2 Absolute Transparency
3 National Consensus
4 Parliamentary Approval

Juan Cole states that “Al-Hakim met with Sistani Wednesday evening, along with some journalists. The journalists reported that the grand ayatollah stressed national Iraqi unity in the face of challenges, expressed his concern about the lack of services for citizens, including electicity and water, and said the water shortage was especially harming farmers. He also urged haste in the rebuilding of the Askariya Shrine in Samarra.

Al-Hakim said that his own party felt the current American draft detracts too much from Iraq’s sovereignty and fails to protect Iraqi wealth. He said that Sistani did not go into details but stressed general principles. He maintained that in general Sistani shared the concerns of the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq.”

If the above is true, it certainly sets up a vastly different framework in the arrangement of details that Bush is said to have wanted, according to today’s story in the Independent.

Doug, I fail to see the problem here. Both agree that Iraq does have to maintain some US military presence to help them fight “foreign aggression” and “external and internal threats”.

There are going to be differences in the details. This is an agreement that will be hammered out. Sistani sees it’s necessity, and seeks to protect Iraq’s sovereignty… and well he should. There is going to be some push and shove.

And there will be propaganda, of which the UK Indy article linked to is 90% personal speculation on what “Bush wants”. May I remind you that no one has seen a draft of any version yet? That the process, per Crocker himself, does NOT include the request for permanent bases, and will be public and free of secret provisions. Crocker is one good guy.

Yet Cockburn of the Indy tells the world…

A secret deal being negotiated in Baghdad would perpetuate the American military occupation of Iraq indefinitely, regardless of the outcome of the US presidential election in November.


But the accord also threatens to provoke a political crisis in the US. President Bush wants to push it through by the end of next month so he can declare a military victory and claim his 2003 invasion has been vindicated. But by perpetuating the US presence in Iraq, the long-term settlement would undercut pledges by the Democratic presidential nominee, Barack Obama, to withdraw US troops if he is elected president in November.

What an idiot. And rather presumptious to state with some fanfare that he knows the POTUS reasoning.

Fact it, agreements need to be pushed thru by the end of the year because that’s when the UN mandate expires. New framework agreements need to be in place to carry on with to go anything… including the current path.

What I’m not sure of is the nuances between the trusteeship system and Iraq’s criteria, and these agreements. It’s never as simple as it appears on the surface.

What is certain is that all parties… with some exceptions but not necessarily the majority.. are willing to work this out. Give the process a chance before the Chicken Little dance, eh?

Greg Bruno, from the Council on Foreign Relations, has written probably the first indepth piece on the Iraq-US security agreement:

All in all, it reportedly includes the ability to move military partners, as well as military hardware and equipment, in and out of Iraq without consulting with the Iraqi government. Further, the US doesn’t pledge to defend Iraq from foreign aggressors– but rather would retain the right to review the circumstances on their own on a case-by-case basis.

Of course, this certainly explains their concern over their own sovereignty.

I have mentioned the Bush administration would very much like this completed by July, handicapping Obama were he to win the election, but aiding McCain if he were to win.

Yet as they say, the Devil is in the details. This deal will not go through as in its present condition– it would cause considerable upheaval as Sistani has now definitely stepped into the process and put 4 conditions on the agreement. Further, Sadr and various Sunni groups would oppose any long term deal outright and move beyond simply Friday protests into a more violent campaign, particularly if they were cheated out of the fall elections. The Fadhila Party would additionally violently oppose the present terms of the agreement. And even Allawi has come out against the broad notion of the deal.

Now as the details are becoming public knowledge in Iraq it can be determined reasonably that Sadr’s position will continue to find widespread popular support in Iraq, especially as Sistani has now, in a sorts, supported his opposition to the “occupation”. Considering the backlash from the details of the terms leaked thus far, we can be certain a large percentage and probably a majority find certain elements very hard to accept and most likely the infringement upon Iraq’s sovereignty in tomorrow’s protests and press will be so extensive that the media “lull” in Iraq will be over.

As noted above the 4 conditions:

– Preservation of Iraqi national sovereignty
– Transparency as to the terms of the deal
– National consensus
– Parliamentary approval

are all opposed by the Administration. Yet they are “authored” by Sistani.

Many observers are saying the ministers of Iraq will most likely sign-up for the agreement in the end fearing American money would dry up and they have always been wishing to show their own political independence from Najaf.

This may happen, as Parliament has been bought off and stacked with enough empty jackets that it is one of the main reasons political progress has been so poorly achieved. But if Sistani opposes the deal -again- most also agree it would almost be impossible for Maliki and Hakim to offer their assent.

Of course there is also the fall and next fall elections to consider: If Maliki and Hakim ratify the deal they are bacon bits in the elections slated for the future.

Considering the tactical option by Maliki to “postpone” those elections would also lead to Sunni conflict with Maliki and Hakim.

With all that said, there are not many options left for Bush as time is now a growing factor. He’s now under the clock with mounting pressures to put his legacy on firm ground when there appears to be no place and time to find the next step in his story.

Doug, you keep projecting gloom and failure under the banner of speculation. Then you drive it all back, as Indy’s Cockburn did, to a Bush concerned with his legacy.

I’m not sure where Cockburn is deriving his information… ala which side is leaking details from their POV. But I notice no where did he offer up a link or PDF to a published draft of an agreement. So the guy’s parroting a 2nd hand interpretation of a proposal from someone… nothing more. And judging by his personal bias and accusations, he’s getting that 2nd hand info from an anti-American entity. It’s only as viable as the source.

Just what part of necessary and timely agreements do you not understand? As Bruno points out in his Intro paragraph, the annual renewal of the UN mandate is not to occur, at the Iraq government’s request. A negotiated agreement is now necessary to replace that. The fact that it coincides with the end of the Bush tenure is incidental. These agreements would have to happen even if he had another year in office.

If the mandate expires without a replacement agreement, it will take a legal ruling to determine if the troops… to the DNC joy… would be forced to leave immediately. That is not something the majority of the Iraq govt wants. Hence, the ongoing negotiations.

Congress, since February, has been trying to make this a campaign point, distorting the truth and inserting their uninformed little noses. May I point out this will not affect any future DNC POTUS’s discretion? In your own linked Bruno article:

U.S. officials, meanwhile, have repeatedly stated that neither agreement will tie the hands of the next administration. “They will not establish permanent bases in Iraq, nor will they specify in any fashion the number of American forces to be stationed there,” Ambassador David Satterfield, a senior adviser on Iraq policy, told lawmakers in March 2008.

Nor is opposition universal. [Mata Musing: that sure blows out your original assessment, Doug] Kenneth Katzman, a specialist in Middle East affairs with the Congressional Research Service, says that Kurdish lawmakers in Iraq are largely supportive of the agreement, as are the main Sunni factions. “When this started out they were dead set against it, figuring they were going to be the object of U.S. combat,” Katzman says of the Sunni groups. “But now that U.S. combat is in some ways helping them, they’ve become more supportive.”

Woof… the hard case Sunni’s on board? Interesting.

Currently the US *has* pledged to defend Iraq against foreign aggressors in an agreement last November with Maliki, called the Declaration of Principles. Again, despite what you say, there will be some form of agreement to defend them in these two ensuing agreements. However I do not wish the Iraqis to be in sole charge of determining viable targets. Our guys, our risk. We need some authority there as well.

Administration officials, for their part, have said the framework will broadly address issues outlined in the November 2007 agreement. Political and economic items make up the bulk of that document, including vows to increase the flow of foreign investment into Iraq; foster debt reduction; and encourage cultural, education, and scientific exchanges between the countries. Wedgwood, of Johns Hopkins University, says the Iraq framework appears to be a reiteration of the framework the United States signed with Afghanistan in 2005.

Among the most contentious issues remaining on the Iraq strategic framework is whether its principles will be binding, or if it will indefinitely commit Washington to defending Iraqi sovereignty. But on that front Wedgwood sees a clear line. “I do not believe that in the strategic framework there will be a legally binding promise to come to the aid of Iraq,” she says.

Well, that’s interesting as we have plenty of other treaties to come to the aid of North America, SE Asia and European allies. I can’t see that offering to support the Iraq Republic can be much different.

I notice Bruno just repeated Cockburn’s “50 bases”, and offered no other assessment. Yet that is a number unsubstantiated by a source. I’m sure there can be negotiations on the number and location of temporary installations. However I am unaware of our other bases on foreign soil, having to ask permission of the host country to move in equipment and partner troops. Why should Iraq be any different?

And I most certainly do not want our soldiers subject to standing trial in Iraq’s courts (see status of forces policy)… no more than I support the ICC.

This is just exhausting. I’m not seeing the subterfuge and power plays you allude to here. What I do see is an Iraq wanting to take on more responsibility as an independent nation, and diplomatic efforts in progress on US aid… a good thing. It’s two sides, both willing to work out an agreement in a defined time line because of the mandate expiration (not a legacy).

Spin it all you want, and speculate your heart out about the impending doom and gloom. But you’re just going to have to wait until both sides find that magic compromise point before you can slam it as another selfish Bush maneuver, or gleefully declare defeat.

Well, I at least I’m in good company when I’m “projecting gloom and failure under the banner of speculation:”

The other more hawkish individuals in this drama appear squeamishly mute on the matter, cloistered away biting their nails in silent desperation.

Cockburn certainly bought Crocker out front and center on the matter:

I wonder if he means ‘transparent’ and ‘open’ that means including congress?

Three AP writers, one Reuters writer and Richard Dreyfess at The Nation is “good company”??? You really should consider raising your standards there, Doug… Or if you’re happy, you might want to add the losers at McClatcheys too. All are a step below the NYT’s in credibility, research and substituting speculation as news.

BTW, the Defenselink you provided is the exact same Crocker statement I linked to above in #14. Appeared in Portland’s Examiner. This has appeared in other publications overseas. Crocker was reiterating what the WH admin has been saying for quite some time…. no permanent bases. Just like they have to keep telling everyone it’s the media and the DNC who are talking about bombing Iran before Bush leaves office. Not Bush.

But every once in awhile some official has got to come out and repeat this same ol’ stuff yet one more time for the short sighted blogger/commenters that let it go in one ear, and out the other.

And legal has determined Congress is not involved in this. That’s been their beef since February… but I guess you’ve not been paying attention, no? Frankly that’s a good move. That group couldn’t make a decision on how much curry, cumin and tumeric to put in a good sauce.

The US is holding hostage some $50bn (£25bn) of Iraq’s money in the Federal Reserve Bank of New York to pressure the Iraqi government into signing an agreement seen by many Iraqis as prolonging the US occupation indefinitely, according to information leaked to The Independent.

US negotiators are using the existence of $20bn in outstanding court judgments against Iraq in the US, to pressure their Iraqi counterparts into accepting the terms of the military deal, details of which were reported for the first time in this newspaper yesterday.

Iraq’s foreign reserves are currently protected by a presidential order giving them immunity from judicial attachment but the US side in the talks has suggested that if the UN mandate, under which the money is held, lapses and is not replaced by the new agreement, then Iraq’s funds would lose this immunity. The cost to Iraq of this happening would be the immediate loss of $20bn. The US is able to threaten Iraq with the loss of 40 per cent of its foreign exchange reserves because Iraq’s independence is still limited by the legacy of UN sanctions and restrictions imposed on Iraq since Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait in the 1990s. This means that Iraq is still considered a threat to international security and stability under Chapter Seven of the UN charter. The US negotiators say the price of Iraq escaping Chapter Seven is to sign up to a new “strategic alliance” with the United States.

The threat by the American side underlines the personal commitment of President George Bush to pushing the new pact through by 31 July. Although it is in reality a treaty between Iraq and the US, Mr Bush is describing it as an alliance so he does not have to submit it for approval to the US Senate.

Like I said earlier, there’s no ‘lull’ now! BLACKMAIL??? Sure. Why not? …money comes with strings attached, it’s never free. Also, just assume it’s true for the sake of argument that the Bush administration would like to constrain Obama– it’s not unbelievable– were he elected, with a status of forces agreement. With the clock ticking away, disparate times calls for disparate measures. Obama would be well advised to say publicly now that he hopes the Bush administration will not try to limit his options as President.

Perhaps Obama should call for a more some limited agreement to fill the gap between the expiration of the UN mandate and the next administration’s negotiation with the Iraqi government. (Wouldn’t that inflame the Administration.) Or, he could call for an agreement to be submitted to the Senate for ratification. Although the Iraq SOFA doesn’t appear to meet the requirement for a treaty, and hence the need for Senate approval (but it’s hard to tell), but given the mistakes in this war and the SOFA now subject to parliamentary approval ( and even a referendum) in Iraq, it would seem reasonable for some form of equivalent Congressional agreement to be enlisted. At the very least, Obama could ask that nothing be agreed to before he and Sen. McCain have been thoroughly briefed on the negotiations as one with inherit the occupation.

Yet none of this will happen. Because outside of the above prudence one is met with the reality of insuring Bush’s legacy and, of course, there is the further matter of campaign tactics. Bush’s administration is very unpopular, and any issue that puts administration officials on camera arguing an unpopular case in an unpopular war surely is to go off poorly; to make matter worse, it even forces McCain under the lights defending Bush’s stance (after he’s been doing much public work to distance himself from Bush policies). Therefore, Obama must raise this as a campaign issue. He’d be foolish not to.

The Iraqi government may request an extension of the United Nations security mandate authorizing a U.S. military presence, due to expire in December, amid growing domestic criticism of new bilateral arrangements now being negotiated with the Bush administration, according to senior Iraqi officials.

Iraqis across the political spectrum have objected to Bush administration proposals for unilateral authority over U.S. military operations in Iraq and the detention of Iraqi citizens, immunity for civilian security contractors, and continuing control over Iraqi borders and airspace.

Failure to reach an agreement on the arrangements, which must be approved by the Iraqi parliament, would leave the negotiations over a future U.S.-Iraqi relationship and the role of U.S. forces in the country to the next American president.

While the Bush administration acts as a playground bully strong-arming Iraq, with intentions of robbing Iraq of their sovereignty, the ever growing set of arrangements for a US-Iraq security agreement, before July 31, is becoming less and less of a reality in light of growing opposition.

Even as Iraqi’s leaders would prefer to remove themselves from the wake of UN charter Chapter 7, which does limit their sovereignty, the demands of a US-Iraq agreement appear even more limiting to Baghdad! Therefore, evidenced by this event, Iraq believing remaining under the UN Security Council may be preferable to teaming up with the US, Cockburn’s reporting must have substantive information.

Wait a sec Doug, you mean the occupation of Iraq is legal and even mandated by the UN?! Wow. I’d swear someone told me that it was illegal. Who would say such a thing, and why would they say that?


Cheeky comments, while somewhat cute, are actually a lot like the “legality” of Iraq’s occupation.

So, to be clear, the occupation is legal and mandated, and anyone who says otherwise is either wrong and misled or is deliberately misleading.

fyi, UN1483 sec 1-4 May 2003


Off the cuff, as I see it the UN made the occupation legal after the fact; the UN also made it imperative that the occupying forces first were to see to the safety of the civilian population, which clearly did not happen: beginning with the looting, then ethnic conflicts, then the Sunni-Shia civil war and culminating in a vast majority of the public desiring us to leave. If one goes by the letter of the law here, the US is in violation of their agreement which gives them the authority and responsibility to do the past mentioned; if it’s not legal and mandated, then the US is in violation of international law. Either way the US should leave.

I disagree that the US forces haven’t worked to protect Iraqi civilians. There are too many examples to list where US forces during the invasion and afterwards went to great efforts to hunt down and kill/capture those who harmed civilians as well as efforts to avoid hitting civilians with US weapons fire. Your argument is similar to saying if a police force is put in place somewhere to protect civilians, but there are still murders, then the police are in violation of their mandate and should leave. Did looting occur, murders, tortures, etc.? Sure, I don’t deny that one bit, but I blame the criminals-not those people who tried to stop em.

Well, that’s where we differ.

You accent your criminal element; I accent the Adminstation’s failures to protect the public: We should have had more troops; Bremer never should have debaathed the army and civil service; we should have listened to more ME experts…

When you take on something like this you need to know what you are doing. It’s pretty clear the Administration made very serious strategic blunders regarding the invasion and got snagged all up in an occupation and could not provide the necessary security– simply because they hadn’t thought the plan thru sufficiently and didn’t know it would come to this kind of a mess.

Recall, everyone said it would be a ‘quick in and out’.

We were plainly ill prepared.

Doug, your logic remains flawed. I’m talking present day. Today, the occupation is mandated. End of story. Like how it got that way or not, it is mandated today. Today, it is legal, and advocating the withdrawal of US forces because they’re not protecting 100% of the Iraqi people is illogical as such a withdrawal would certainly reduce the security of the Iraqi people rather than increase it.

Doug, we could argue all day point to point on items. But you just hit the nail on the head in your last post. “Well that’s how we differ”…. on the whole perspective, the whole enchilada.

You delight in Monday morning quarterbacking, and somehow demand a perfect administration and a perfectly executed war. You cite statistics on individual battles and negotiations, and never consider the intent or the herculean efforts made, nor the overall result of the combination of battles.

War is started, waged and ended by humans… an imperfect entity. Add government bureaucrats to the mix and you really lower the possibilities of flawless performance. If you set your demands to an impossible level, you will reap nothing but disappointment and failure in your life because of an unachievable threshhold. The path to the pot of gold is fraught with left, right and u-turns… not to mention speedbumps, pot holes, traffic lights, and collisions.

I see and acknowledge failures – even those you mention. But unlike you, I don’t expect perfection – not from mankind, and especially not from government and leaders. Instead I keep my eyes on the goal post. As long as it’s still in view, and the teams haven’t stormed off the field to quit, there is the chance to score. I am quite used to keeping my nose to the grindstone, and even more used to obstacles that crop up along the way.

The never, coulda, shoulda you constantly preach is immaterial – since the past cannot be altered. Your “off the cuff… as I see it” predictions of the future, and your play by play, is just as immaterial. It’s exhausting that you race out to find every piece of mediocre media to support your (and their’s) premature rush to failure on any particular issue. Small wonder this nation is filled with negative victim mentalities. It saturates, permeates and soils our every waking minute.

This pattern by too many is getting old, and is a game I don’t wish to play. I’m content to wait it out – just as we did with the surge – for actual results. In short, I choose not to use you and the media as my tarot card reader.

You, AP, Reuters, The Nation, NYT, WaPo and ilk take quasi-news (ala hearsay from somebody with an opinion to some reporter somewhere, who also has an opinion) and spin their version of the future to your shared apocalyptic visions. Yet how’s your track record?

Go back prior to the surge and read the emphatic declarations of premature failure by media and Congress alike. Remember how many have said the Iraqis will not succeed, or that they do not want a free Arab Democracy. Recollect how many said Basra would not change from Sadr mafia rule. Remember the civil war that the Iraqis have not allowed to happen, nor to dampen their quest to hold on to this elected government. Remember how many have said we and the Iraqis cannot beat AQ in that country.

Criticize the past, and damn the future all you like. This does not make you correct in your views. And if your demand for perfection and outlook, sans roses, is this way in your personal life, it must be very difficult on those that surround you. You do laugh and have positive thoughts, yes? You seem an intelligent, if not negative, type of guy. I just can’t believe your droning negativity is the only aspect of your hopes for the world.

The interesting bit to all this is that in 3-6wks, Gen Petraeus is likely to announce a resumption of troop withdrawals due to the security gains brought about by The Surge.

People-not specifically Doug-need to close their eyes to party lines and party rhetoric, and look at
-how both sides have been wrong
-how both sides have been right
-how some elements of history are a loss/lead scenario where a success can’t be had without a preceeding, hard pill to swallow
-how planet Earth will not become civilized by charisma, but by bargaining power, and to that end how efforts to promote defeat in and of themselves defeat the effort to bargain and bring about change via peace. For example, the weeks before the invasion, millions of people around the world protested against the invasion. Saddam told his interrogators as did his senior advisors that this emboldened him. How might history have changed if those millions had taken to the streets not in protest of the liberators, but in protest of the tyrant?

(Reuters) Iraq said on Friday it would not grant U.S. troops freedom of movement for military operations in a new agreement being negotiated on extending the presence of American troops on its soil.

Deputy Prime Minister Barham Salih said the United States wanted its forces to operate with no restrictions, but this was not acceptable to Iraq.

While the Iraqi government has confirmed there are major differences between the two sides in the negotiations, few details of the sticking points have been made public.

“What I can confirm now, with no hesitation, is that there will not be freedom of movement for American (forces) in Iraq,” Salih told Arabiya television.

U.S. officials said this week they would not comment on the content of the negotiations.

But Western diplomats say it is unlikely the Americans would agree to any deal that would require them to seek permission from the Iraqi government for every military operation.

“If we reach an agreement … any American military movements should be in the framework of Iraqi approval and decisions and through consultations with the Iraqi side,” Salih said.

Salih said the United States had asked Baghdad to maintain the U.S. military’s current status, which does not require a green light from the Iraqi government for military operations.

“The U.S. side asked to extend the existing status and the Iraqi side didn’t see any use of that,” he said.

The Iraqi government’s room to manoeuvre may be limited, however, by its dependence on U.S. firepower to secure its borders and tackle armed groups that defy its authority.

While U.S. officials say the Iraqi army’s capabilities have improved in recent months, it is still dependent on the U.S. military for logistical and aerial support. Iraqi security forces control only half of Iraq’s 18 provinces.

Thousands of Iraqis protested in Baghdad’s Sadr City, Sadr’s main stronghold, and the southern holy Shi’ite cities of Kerbala and Najaf on Friday against the negotiations. Some protesters carried placards rejecting “permanent occupation”.

U.S. and Iraqi officials are also negotiating a strategic framework agreement that defines long-term bilateral ties.

In Washington, a bipartisan group of U.S. senators complained to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Defense Secretary Robert Gates over what they said was a lack of consultation over the long-term agreement with Iraq.

In a letter to Rice and Gates, the four senators said Iraq had proposed “significant changes” to the agreements and the Bush administration had not followed through on its commitment to consult with Congress about these changes.

The letter was signed by senior members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Democratic Sens. Joseph Biden of Delaware and John Kerry of Massachusetts as well as Republican Sens. Richard Lugar of Indiana and Chuck Hagel of Nebraska.

This is the priceless nugget from all that:

“What I can confirm now, with no hesitation, is that there
will not be freedom of movement for American (forces) in Iraq,”
[the Deputy Prime Minister of Iraq] Salih told Arabiya television.

While he may or may not be the high stakes political bargainer of all time, who really knows. But it’s so damn ballsy to say it on the pro-American Arabiya tv news.

Yes, no ‘lull’ here.

I’m not sure what you’re trying to say here Doug. Is it that there is no lull in American coverage as the Washington Post claims? Is it that there is no lull in the war in Iraq despite the record low in casualties last month? Is it that you agree with General Petraeus that the change in strategy which brought about this lull has made it possible to consider withdrawing even more troops?

Or is it something else? I mean, if you’re trying to say that the war is lost, and that as a result American forces should head for the border tomorrow…I think you might be off message in out of touch with the most recent reporting (what little of it there has been in the msm).


The Iraqi government just told us we need to report to them any troop movements before they are made. I would have thought that any hawkishly inclined pro-iraqi occupationalist would be so outraged that they would be having an out of body experience from their own anger. Is it not bad enough that Iraq can’t get their act together with their two-bit government, that we had to scrap the benchmarks, can’t get an oil agreement, revenue sharing, constitutional review, can’t get a SOFA agreement, and now …now they are dictating what the United States military can and cannot do in their country. What gall, huh???

These moguls, that vacation in Iran, who run this U.S. puppet stand have actually decreed they want the U.S. military to report to the Iraqi government any troop movements before they are made.

Where are the conservatives on this??? Consider this: This Iraqi government is infiltrated with all kinds of radicals who can’t stand the US; hence, don’t you think the idea of letting Iraq dictate U.S. troop movements is a prescription for disaster?

If the United States agrees to such an “order” from the Iraqi government, don’t you believe it would put our men and women in harms way, or at the least, compromising positions?

So here’s a story, a big one, yet all I hear are crickets in the conservative media and blogs, as I have for a couple of weeks. If there’s any media lull, you guys are participants in it, too.

Mata Harley typed:

Go back prior to the surge and read the emphatic declarations of premature failure by media and Congress alike.

Oh them media. And that dadgum Congress.

Why can’t they publish the good news? Why can’t they continue to take dictation like in the good old days?

Wolfowitz from 2004:

“There’s a lot of money to pay for this. It doesn’t have to be U.S. taxpayer money. We are dealing with a country that can really finance its own reconstruction, and relatively soon.” Wolfowitz also told Congress “oil revenues of Iraq could bring between $50 and $100 billion over the course of the next two or three years…We’re dealing with a country that can really finance its own reconstruction, and relatively soon.”

Cheney from 2002:

Vice President Dick Cheney, appearing on CNN’s American Morning, says: “I think that the people of Iraq would welcome the US force as liberators; they would not see us as oppressors, by any means.”

What gall..

Dag gum, Doug… we agree on somthing! It is chutzpah. And it’s just something we’ll have to work out with them. If not, then Iraq is on their own by choice and necessity for lack of agreement. That will be, in effect, them asking us to leave. And if they do that, I’m kewl.

Arthurstone? Ho hum. Your cherry picked excerpts of statements have no bearing on the progress made because of the surge, opposed vehemently by the Congressional DNC losers.

Looks like someone upturned Arthurstone’s rock again.

These poor Leftists.

Reality has intruded on their fantasy world and the only things they have left to cling to are their worn out memes and tired, tattered hopes of an American defeat.

Before Maliki’s visit to Iran every western media report was saying something like this:

(LAT) Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Maliki traveled Saturday to Iran on a mission to improve relations between the countries at a time when U.S. officials have accused Tehran of arming Shiite Muslim militia groups fighting the Americans and Iraqi security forces.

Maliki, who was expected to meet with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad today, is on his third visit to Iran since taking office in May 2006. His trip comes after fighting this spring in Baghdad and the southern city of Basra pitted Iraqi security forces against the Mahdi Army militia loyal to radical Shiite cleric Muqtada Sadr.

Yet after his visit every media report says something like this:

(AFT) Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki sought to reassure Iran over a planned security pact with Washington on Sunday, vowing Iraq would never be used as a platform to attack the Islamic republic.

“We will not allow Iraq to become a platform for harming the security of Iran and neighbours,” Maliki said after a late-night meeting with Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki in Tehran.

So what happened?

Well, it appears that Maliki went out of his way to assure the Iranians that Iraq will not be used for an attack on “to harm the Iranians and Iraq’s neighbors” (Syria). —Petty damn strange turn-around given his visits’ intention was to relate Iraq’s own security concerns!

Of course, this is not really all that unusual given the Iraqi and Iranian history, their commercial, economic, political and even military inroads developing over the past few years. (Many of the elite (doctors, politicians, clergy) of Iraq speak fluent Persian.) But you’d never know it from listening to the Bush administration’s talking points, for that matter the echo chamber of the mainstream media. The reality is, aside from their heritage, religion, languages, customs, and having lots of oil, there’s an Iraqi faction, backed by Iran, in the Iraqi government: Hakim’s SIIC; it’s a dominate player in the Iraqi government and a right arm for Maliki in Parliament! The irony here is, using this Iranian metric, Sadr is far less likely to prone to Iranian influence. You’ll certainly never hear this from Bush.

So now you know why it happened–why Maliki said what he said.

Therefore, for the Iraq ‘pro-occupationist’ in this crowd, we have here another ‘pecking order’ story coming out of “Iraq” that should be of some interest: Bush’s version of national security, American interests pertaining to Iran and Syria, just got dumped on (—double-dumped on if you add the goal of Maliki’s visit was to express concern over Iranian weapons in Iraq).