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21 December 2007

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JohnH

I thought agreements signed under coercion were not legally binding, just as evidence obtained from torture was not admissible. Apparently this will be another instance of Bush making up the "law" up suit the circumstances at hand.

I wonder if the Iraqi parliament will get a vote or simply be dismissed as irrelevant. (That's a rhetorical musing--I already know the answer.)

arthurdecco

"I guess they just don't understand that there will not be a peaceful outcome for any of the parties to such an agreement. There will simply be more war." posted by Col. Lang

Isn't that their intention?

Michael Murry

Sheriff Dick and Deputy Dubya floated this putative "agreement" for an "enduring relationship" trial balloon -- meaning a permanent American garrison in Iraq -- quite some time ago. I sincerely hope that the despicable duo's usual practice of multiplying serial Orwellian euphemisms hasn't eluded your understanding. The recent appearance of "strategic partnership" instead of the former "enduring relationship" obviously means that the word "enduring" must have tested badly in hired-gun-word-magician Frank Luntz's Word Lab. "Enduring" just sounds too much like "permanent" to the normal English speaking person. As Dr. Luntz always says: "It's not what you say; it's what other people hear" that counts. Republicans pay Dr. Luntz tons of cash to teach them semantic shit like that.

On the plus side, I liked the the graphic image of Saruman-stooge "counselor" Grima Wormtongue whispering debilitating "advice" to a dottard King Theoden. The scene catches the point of self-interested "betrayal" quite nicely. For myself, though, I always associate the American occupation of Iraq with that scene from The Count of Monte Cristo where the dissolute aristocrat Fernand de Mondego sits at a casino roulette wheel squandering his family inheritance while side-kick Jacopo looks on and tells his employer Edmond Dantes: "He's losing, and they're not even cheating him."

Too bad for the cheated American citizen-taxpayer that the corrupt claque of crony cretins infesting their government plans to go on maintaining themselves in Washinton D. C. by marooning American troops (for their own "support," of course) in the heart of the Arab world -- for as long as profitably possible.

Finally, I found the use of "opposition party" and "Democrats" in the same sentence somewhat puzzling. Apparently, you missed the so-called "opposition party" Democrats caving in yet again -- as they have since winning elections in 2006 -- to the discredited charlatan whose unpopular policies got them elected in the first place. What Republican reactionary Jacobin worth the name wouldn't take advantage of such empty "opposition"? I mean, another blank rubber check for another $70 billion dollars for another six-month "Friedman Unit" (or F.U.) of staying in Iraq supplies a lot of bribes and bullets to everyone in Washington and Baghdad so handsomely profitting from endlessly continuing a lucrative colonial occupation. Calling this fraudulent farce a "war" makes even normally wasteful war look honest by comparison.

J

Colonel,

and how many of our finest in uniform will be hung out to dry in the process as the neocon satterfield and errant crocker re-tool themselves for a dem master? these wannabe 'cowboys' need to be held criminally accountable for the lives lost under their watch.

Enobarbus37

And who is the Master?

Israel

Andy

Col. Lang,

The picture attached to this post is quite clever and it make me wonder who or what you think might represent Gandalf in this play.

condfusedponderer

John H,
in international affairs, for the weaker party, they are.

Yes, there's sovereign equality and all that, but there is no way to enforce international law on a country like the US, that conveniently also has a seat in the UN security council. Nicaragua was taught that lesson. They went to court, and when they almost won, the US withdrew the court's jurisdiction, and avoided being sentenced for what was undeniable war of aggression. A small comfort , the ICG anyway released their landmark legal opinion on the case that found the US in violation of international law against Nicaragua. Rhetorical question: Who lost anyway?

Far from being appalled by their country committing said war of aggression against Nicaragua, the American domestic audience apparently thought that war was a way to promote US interests and necessary to fight them Reds, after all you don't invoke (what a joke) a state of national emergency for nothing.

I, Ronald Reagan, President of the United States of America, find that the policies and actions of the Government of Nicaragua constitute an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States and hereby declare a national emergency to deal with that threat.
And take steps, like mining harbours. So don't expect too much critical thinking from that direction. Indeed, the 'bully pulpit' works.

I don't know who said that, and where, but it was that the neo-cons were under Reagan given South- and Latin America to play with, while the important stuff was left to grown-ups like Baker. You see a lot of the lessons from there in Iraq today: Message control, demonisation games, spin, conduct outside oversight, in deep secrecy and all that - the messy, extra-legal way they're so fond of going to work in - think Iran-Contra. I find that plausible.

I think that simple fact is why folks like Bolton and the neo-con crowd hold international law in such contempt. They habitually break it, even commit the high crime of war of aggression against 'crappy little countries' like Nicaragua or Iraq, and get away.

They're mirror imaging a lot there, and project their own contempt for the law and their conspiratorial mindset on their enemies.

'We cheat it all the time, and our chosen enemies, evil as they are, they'll do so even more so.'

Maybe that's the simple bottom line of their thinking.

jonst

My read is we're gonna side with the Sunni....and anyone else that wants to come along. And ride in a very plush back seat.

W. Patrick Lang

Andy

As you know, clever is not a term of approbation in the US military.

You would have to "cast" the film for yourself.

Do you have a role in mind for yourself? pl

meletius

A minor point, but Bush and Maliki violated both the Iraq constitution and existing law by maneuvering the Security Council into extending the UN "mandate" for another year without the approval of the Iraq parliament.

Can there be any doubt that the "new strategic partnership" agreement will also be accomplished without the "agreement" of the supposed elected representatives of Iraq? Can there be any doubt why the entire region (and planet) sees our "spreadin' democracy" story as simply comic?

You know, the Iraqis unfortunately are going to have to be the ones to throw off this aggressive, colonial oil occupation---the militarist "citizens" of gas-guzzling, capital starved Imperial America and their corporate "parties" are certainly not going to be leaving voluntarily, that has been made crystal clear, Hillary's wide ranging, all-over-the-board statements about her "intentions" notwithstanding.

Colonial powers are almost always there for a reason, and it's not to "help" the natives get their "act" together.....

jamzo

from wikipedia

United States law
Main article: Foreign policy law of the United States
U.S. law distinguishes what it calls treaties from treaty executive agreements, congressional-executive agreements, and sole executive agreements. All four classes are equally treaties under international law; they are distinct only from the perspective of internal American law. The distinctions are primarily concerning their method of ratification. Where treaties require advice and consent by 2/3rds of the Senate, sole executive agreements may be executed by the President acting alone. Some treaties grant the President the authority to fill in the gaps with executive agreements, rather than additional treaties or protocols. And finally, Congressional executive agreements require majority approval by both the House and the Senate, either before or after the treaty is signed by the President.

Currently, international agreements are executed by executive agreement rather than treaties at a rate of 10:1. Despite the relative ease of executive agreements, the President still often chooses to pursue the formal treaty process over an executive agreement in order to gain Congressional support on matters that require the Congress to pass implementing legislation or appropriate funds, and those agreements that impose long-term, complex legal obligations on the U.S

what is the history of presidential agreements? has a president rescinded, ignored, abrogated, or terminated a sole predidential agreement made by another?

William R. Cumming

The mere exercise of attempting to draft a "Strategic Agreement" might provide some focus as the current Administration tries to lock in the future together with other intiatives domestic and foreign. What apparently is overlooked is the huge and intense interest in US domestic national elections. Reading an interesting history of WWII by Gerhard L. Weinberg and he documents the formerly undocumented investment by Germany in the election of 1940 (and probably 1936). We keep pretending the world isn't paying attention to us but the real problem is that they are. Question whether we even have the capability to understand what foreign governments are trying to accomplish in US domestic elections. At least 100 law firms in the District of Columbia are registered agents of foreign governments and many more foreign lobbyists that just duck under the Foreign Agent Registration Act. Wouldn't it be of interest to know where the foreign governments are spending their money and on what issues? Unfortunately this isn't open source material. So now the basics, who will be drafting the new "Strategic Agreement" for the U.S. and for the Iraqis. What do we know about them and what foreign governments will be given access to the drafting process and agreement objectives.

Martin K

lol! Ye gods, what a fitting picture.

But, as noticed over on intel-dump.com , the law *does not apply anymore * according to the neocons. The Rule of Law is over. Its back to Mafya-monarchy, like it used to be before this pesky thing called humanism and International Law. GWB is urinating on the Geneva conventions and the UN , and it is not a pretty sight to see, sirs. Sorry for being blunt.

JohnH

Confusedponderer: I agree that "there is no way to enforce international law on a country like the US, that conveniently also has a seat in the UN security council." [and veto power]

What I find fascinating is that the US sometimes seeks legal cover assiduously, other times totally ignores it. For example, it has been doggedly pursuing the hydrocarbon law. This must be in response to pressure from the international oil companies. Do the IOCs have a higher regard for the law than the Bush administration? That prospect simply boggles my mind.

How could this be? As I think about it, IOCs have to live with the consequences of their actions for 20-30 years--long enough to get the oil out. And they realize that things change. An order issued by today's war lord may not carry much weight when he's gone. So in fact they may be interested in laws that endure. I can't think of any other explanation.

Green Zone Cafe

All I know is that there are continual marginal improvements being made to the major base infrastructure, and the size of that big embassy on the Tigris.

There is a long-term plan somewhere, but I haven't seen it.

The question is whether continual drawdowns and withdrawals (UK, Aussies and Poland) in the south will leave us in a very tenuous position as we balance our new Sunni "Concerned Citizens" with the governments in Baghdad and Tehran.

GSD

I was outraged that Saddam had the audacity to spend millions of dollars building palaces while his people suffered.

*Thank God things have changed in Iraq.

Meet the new boss.

(*Snark)

-GSD

Andy

Pat,

I meant clever in a good way! I thought the picture was rather appropriate, actually.

As for my role, it's probably as an extra whose fate is yet to be determined.

anna missed

I figured that there were some pretty good reasons for the continued support for the Maliki regime. Over the last couple of years there has been the slow build up of publicly vented frustration with him both here and in Iraq - that with the realists replacing the neo's and Maliki becoming weaker and weaker by the day it seemed the coup card would inevitably be played, and other willing players (Alawi) would be eased into position. But no, Maliki lives on. Even - in the midst of his disintegrated, powerless, do nothing, aand shattered cabinet and parliament he still gets the presidents approval.

Now I see why.

Altoid

We might have hoped they wouldn't actually do it, but this long-term basing plan has always seemed to me the only real reason to invade Iraq in the first place. Doesn't matter what they call it, that's just the lipstick anyway. Controlling governments is secondary to being able to take and hold oil fields and perhaps pipelines.

It's interesting that much of Big Oil seems to prefer a stable legal structure (JohnH) over the pure-force approach. But presumably cheney speaks the language of some in the business. He's not an original thinker, and natural-resource extractors have always had a kind of contemptuous approach toward natives.

William R. Cumming: I'm less worried about foreign governments messing with our elections than I am about international ideologues-- they have more money than God and they believe in manipulating politics so it matters.

Beginning in a big way during the Thatcher/Reagan years there was a sort of Right-Wing Internationale of which Murdoch was just one tiny part, and the Canadian David Frum symptomatic (a lackey, but in their employ). They're still at it. It intersects in curious ways with the Israeli lobby but isn't the same thing, only uses the Israelis as a convenient tool-- today mostly as a model for dealing with all those inconvenient wogs.

I feel odd agreeing with Pat Buchanan on anything, but he's right-- along with the colonel and most here-- that the US is a poor platform for adventurous military imperialism.

DeLudendwarf

Interesting analysis by Joe Galloway here:
http://www.mcclatchydc.com/homepage/story/23518.html

Seems to hit the mark.

Merry Christmas All.

Clifford Kiracofe

While the delusional "bi-partisan" US imperial faction incoherently squanders blood and treasure in its sandbox-quagmire in Mesopotamia, the world moves on. The broader geopolitical context should be taken into consideration.


"...how Moscow proceeds with the reconfiguration of Russo-Iranian relations could well form the centerpiece of the geopolitics of energy security in Eurasia during 2008. The dynamics on this front will doubtless play out on a vast theater stretching well beyond the Eurasian space, all the way to China and Japan in the east and to the very heart of Europe in the west where the Rhine River flows...."

A most interesting analysis at: http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Central_Asia/IL22Ag01.html

When Clinton left office, the US was well positioned with a budget surplus and post-Cold War "peace dividend" which could have been used to retrench and to position the US for the emerging multipolar environment.

But the imperial faction made the greatest strategic mistake in US history, as General Odom has said. And there are consequences (short, medium, and long term) for such strategic mistakes.

Has the US lost the future, at least for a while? What about the economic situation? The ever mounting twin deficits -- budget and current account -- and Iraq-Afghan War(s) suggest further disintegration of the dollar and the onset of inflation and perhaps Vietnam era "stagflation" again.

It will be an interesting New Year.

JohnS

"...these wannabe 'cowboys' need to be held criminally accountable for the lives lost under their watch."

And for the numerous other criminal acts they have committed (providing false and deceptive rationales for war, illegal wiretapping of American citizens, torture, etc)...But the Bush family has a knack for escaping accountability (see: Iran-Contra, Iraqgate, and the "October Surprise", the alleged interference by the Reagan-Bush campaign in 1980 to undermine President Jimmy Carter’s efforts to free 52 American hostages then held in Iran. *See below for more on this.)

Iran-Contra reporter Robert Parry has the how and why our current crop of criminal cowboys may freely skip town...(hint: Hillary is the first-ever presidential candidate (and her spouse, too) who has been subject to regular, long-term protection/surveillance by "an Executive Branch agency controlled by the opposing political party.")

http://www.consortiumnews.com/2007/121907.html

*Regarding the 1980 "October Surprise," Parry unearthed a treasure trove of documents related to GOP dirty tricks in that year's presidential campaign. Included were a number relating to the "October Surprise, " including a report from the Russian gov't about its knowledge of illicit GOP contacts with Iran. He also reports on the subsequent bi-partisan coverup.

http://www.consortiumnews.com/archive/xfile.html

condfusedponderer

The desire of the current administration to stay in Iraq suggests that they (a) see Iraq as a success (less violence + less US casualties = the US won, time to move on beyond Iraq) and (b) have still ongoing plans vis a vis Iran.

They have these geo-strategic visions in which countries merely serve as stepping stones on their way.

Considering their current obsession with Iran suggests that they either want to wage a cold war against Iran (for which they feel they would need bases in Iraq) or that they indeed want still to start a shooting war, that is, a bombing campaign that of course will be over when they say so (much like the Iraq war ended when Bush declared mission accomplished), another scenario for which bases in Iraq are indispensable - and then, there's Syria which is still non-regime-changed). Alternatively, they might want to heat things up to the extent that the next administration will inherit a situation that lends itself to a violent 'solution'. With a little effort it ought to be possible to provoke those zealots of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards into doing something stupid.

During the negotiations at the IAEA or the UN, the US ambassadors are (quite obviously) advised to show Iran the cold shoulder, to not interact with them socially, only through official statements at the negotiating table. That's a pressure tactic, albeit not exactly a constructive one. It's the 'see you in court' stance. As a result the entire confrontation about the 'nuclear issue' has intentionally been degraded into a staring contest, and whoever blinks first loses. The entire diplomatic maneuvering by the US is in my understanding about trying to seduce Iran into doing something stupid that then can be used to tighten the screws on them. As the Bush stance is apparently 'no nuclear enrichment at all' that appears to be the strategy behind negotiating about nuclear enrichment: It's about aiding confrontation. I find it obscene in the extreme to gamble over questions of war an peace, and ultimately life and death.

And I think the Iranian issue is on top of the agenda, only rivalled by the apparent urge 'to do something about Pakistan'. When I am pessimistic the only distraction of the Bushies to completely screw up Iran policy is them being occupied with doing something even more stupid vis a vis Pakistan.
I got an eerie feeling when I heared the podcast of Minister Ali A. Jalali speaking at the Miller Center about Afghanistan and Pakistan, saying that the Afghans are tired of Pakistani meddling. Interesting I thought, the man could be a sort of a president in being for Afghanistan, with excellent relations to the US, and he sais that sort of thing?

And I agree that a great deal of these grandiose imperial visions on the role of the US are bi-partisan consensus. The disagreement is merely about the extent of force to be used to implement it.

Today's "Die Zeit" newspaper sports Condi, broadly smiling, reassuring the German reader that the US is still the strongest power on earth. Fancy that! Can't help, but whenever (like Madelein Albright reminding us forgetful Euros that the US are indispensable) reading something like that I assume that for them finding it necessary to say that, there apparently is a case for doubt. What does Condi know about US strength that I don't?

PS: One remarkable speech at the Miller Center was by Dr. Trita Parsi on the history of the last 25 years of US-Israeli-Iranian relations. I recommend it.

505th PIR

Hi Colonel Lang,

I am currently engrossed in a book titled VIOLENT POLITICS by William R. Polk. His analysis of the seeds and progression of insurgencies is to my novice eyes, terrific and it speaks to the thrust of your commentary on this article. Have you read the book and do you agree/disagree with his premises?

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