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07 July 2008

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hotrod

"No predominately Muslim country is going to enter into a treaty of alliance with a non-Muslim state." -

Turkey, though that may be kind of the exception that proves the rule, and I don't disagree with your larger point. And yes, there are lots of people who have used the Turkish example to gloss over differences that shouldn't be glossed over.

I don't know how far out the endgame in Iraq is - endgame being defined (by me) as withdrawal of most US "combat units" (generally speaking I mean this to refer to Army Brigade Combat Teams and Marine Regimental Combat Teams deployed with relatively contiguous Areas of Operation), with any few remaining units focused on Security Force Assistance missions (more or less what used to be called Foreign Internal Defense - FID).

But that being the endgame is pretty much a given now - whether or not recent security gains prove enduring (I'm cautiously optimistic). The Iraqis won't tolerate the status quo indefinitely, nor will the US, nor will our allies.

I'm not a critic of the McCain quote about 100 years - it's almost always very aggressively taken out of context. That said - perhaps there was a time where an end state that included a couple of US brigades sitting in Diyala oriented east on a long term basis was wise. That time, if it ever existed (I'm less skeptical than the COL would be likely to be), has almost certainly passed. Any external security support (not guarantees) we are likely to provide the Iraqis in the future will likely be based largely outside the country.

The reasons for that are varied, but above all - the US has fundamentally failed to win over the world, to include it's own public, to the legitimacy (not exactly the same thing as wisdom) of its actions.

I believe that some of it relates to the way our (US's) current leadership perceives political power, moral authority, and a few other things. Tis a shame, in many ways. Whatever the failings of the US effort in Iraq, many of the conspiracy theories bandied about in many places, to includes the comments sections of this blog, are silly. But current leadership simply can't\won't\didn't engage with them, partly out of world view, partly out of competance\bad decisions. I don't mean the PR piece - but a fundamental effort to synchronize every piece of our efforts to build legitimacy. Long term engagement with whatever Iraq we are left with will be constrained, probably for decades.

A good article in Military Review (the professional journal of the US Army's Command and General Staff College) by a Canadian officer this month http://usacac.army.mil/CAC/milreview/English/JulAug08/HammondEngJulAug08.pdf is on point and may be instructive.

Heading there myself in a few months. Will let you know what I find.

Spider Rider

One can never ever underestimate the corrupt behavior that drives Iraq, and Iraqi policy.


If the whole of the Iraqi experience IS in fact driven by corruption, it is much easier to understand the decisions made, the seeming irrationality exhibited, almost schizophrenic in it's effect.

Even for men like Perle, sometimes I get the feeling "terrorism" is approached with the same thoughtful consideration as a weekend in Vegas, meaning there is no REAL legitimate construct of US foreign policy.

Patrick Lang

hotrod

Turkey until very recently has been a country in the controls of the anti-religious anti-Islamic Kemalist ideology. Now that they have a different kind of government, they have been much less cooperative.

Lesly

OK. Now let's see if he sticks to it. pl

alnval

Col. Lang:

Potentially good news indeed. But, re your response to Lesly. "OK. Now let's see if he sticks to it. pl"

Would you lay out for us the likely conditions that would have to obtain for Maliki to renege as you imply he might yet do?

Was I wrong in inferring from your post that anything more than a short term MOU with the US would be anathema to any "predominately Muslim country," and, therefore, so unlikely as to be impossible short of our continuing to engage in unwanted military intervention that would make it so.

b

How legal would a MoU not ratified by the Iraqi parliament be?

While it seems a fine way out for Bush (I don't think this is Maliki's idea) in that he can move the SOFA problem to whoever follows him, I am sure the lawyers at state and defense have some problems with this.

According to the Iraqi constitution (art 58) the parliament has to ratify treaties. An MoU is only legally binding within the concept of a treaty. Outside of that frame its a declaration of intentions.

With a not-ratified MoU immunity of U.S. personal in Iraq is very dubious. Iraqis could sue in their courts and probably even in U.S. courts for any damage done by U.S. personal.

Has any lawyer here (I am not one) a deeper insight on this?

Jose

I believe the Colonel predicted something like happening a while back, in an earlier post.

Check out this out-dated but interesting post about an Iraq after America:

http://www.theatlantic.com/doc/200512/iraq-withdrawal

One of the many strategic blunders of this mis-adventure has been the radicalization of Turkey into a more fundamentalist state because of our actions in Iraq.

Hotrod, when you go to CGSC, fire-up a MMAS thesis on how we lost Turkey through our great adventure in Iraq.

Michael

It will be interesting to see how things play out as this administration's time winds down. They weren't too worried about pissing anyone off going into Iraq, so why would they care about offending Iraqis now if they wanted to hit Iran?

They clearly aren't trying to hide their 'real' adgenda anymore.

Mad Dogs

How much of Maliki's warning about the US not using Iraqi territory for war with Iran is for domestic consumption and how much is a convenient US Election 2008 "growing of a spine" remains to be seen, doesn't it?

As to a short-term MOU on US troop presence in Iraq, I'm guessing that is Iraq's bottom line today.

Why bother with anything more extensive as the clock runs out on the current ratpack of US interlopers and hegemonists.

As I suggested in one of your earlier posts, I think that the political leverage for decisions on a SOFA (US troop presence and authority in Iraq in particular) is decidely with the Iraqis, and not with the US.

Yeah, we got the guns, but they got the balls.

And that the Iraqis can see better offers about 6 months over the horizon regardless of which US Presidential candidate assumes office in January 2009, I think is a given.

Patrick Lang

b

An MOU is much better from Maliki's point of view precisely because it is not binding. pl

Yohan

Before he started mentioning timelines for American withdrawal, it seemed that Maliki's seeking of a "memorandum of understanding" rather than a SOFA because a memorandum wouldn't require parliamentary approval and thus would enable Maliki to make more unpopular concessions to the Americans which wouldn't survive parliament.

Maliki certainly thinks he's in a stronger position than he seems from this side of things. How long would he really last without US forces? If not done in by the various Sunnis or the Sadrists, then surely ISCI would move to replace him with one of their own.

Walrus

Hotrod, good luck in Iraq.

However you are wrong about one or two things. The current worldview of America is not going to change with the end of the Bush Administration, the "brand" is now permanently damaged. To put it another way, "Old America" is dead, and Bush killed it.

America put a huge effort into maintaining it's image during the cold war, something that most American's don't know because the effort was directed outwards, not inwards. That image was Disneyland, Apple Pie, The Constitution, Democracy, Freedom, Human rights - in other words the home of all that was good in the world and a bastion against tyranny.

Well that's all gone.

But wait, there's more.

The current perception is largely unprintable and I won't belabour that point except to say that the bulk of Americans are cocooned in narcissistic fantasies of American omnipotence and a universal infatuation with things American. This was encapsulated in Bush saying "They hate our Freedoms". For another example most Americans seem to believe that you get to choose the time when you will leave Iraq. What if you don't?

More seriously than the public perception however is the growing international belief that America is now physically dysfunctional by almost all measures compared to other Western nations, starting with the current structure of the American economy, and extending through healthcare, law enforcement and justice, education, taxation and income redistribution, energy policy, climate change, let alone foreign policy. Most of this dysfunction seems to be driven by special interest groups manipulating political campaign funding.

What we are now wondering is whether the multiplicity of America's internal contradictions, exposed openly thanks to the Bush Administration, are going to even be perceived by the American Public let alone dealt with, or whether you are going to continue your downward spiral into the usual state of man - a rich elite ruling a large, uneducated, and poor general population for their own benefit.

That's the issue for us. Are we going to see a new American brand appear and what might it be? ...And who is going to try to fill the power vacuums when your military power wanes?

John Howley

Saudi Arabia wasn't too keen on hosting large numbers of U.S. troops as I recall.


Patrick Lang

All

To the best of my kowledge (and I used to work this issue)there has never been a treaty of alliance signed and ratified between the US and an Islam dominated state.

There have been various Foreign Military Sales and Training agreements but these are not treaties of alliance. This statement would include Saudi Arabia. pl

Homer

Reality: No predominately Muslim country is going to enter into a treaty of alliance with a non-Muslim state. That was true before 2003 and it remains true. (Col. P. Lang)


Yes!!

Please elaborate!!

Despite that fact, the Bushies helped forcefully thrust the reins of power directly into the hands of men (al-Maliki, al-Hakim, et al) who have been fighting to transform a secular Iraq under SH into a Shiite fundamentalist republic which has brotherly ties to extremists in Iran for well over two decades!!!

In the next life, maybe the Bushies can figure out how to use The Google so that they can see who exactly al-Dawa and the SCIRI are and have been for decades!!!


Remember: "And the objective they stated that was necessary in their report was a government that could .... serve as an ally in the war on terror" (POTUS, G. W. Bush, December 13, 2006)

rj

Maliki is in an interesting position -- wants U.S. protection, at least for the time being, but also seems to favor Iran a good bit (of course, his ISCI base would push him there, even if he didn't lean that way). With oil prices being what they are, maybe U.S. blandishments aren't so important to providing patronage. But if Maliki acts this way to us, will we keep paying off the Sons of Iraq?

robt willmann

"Prime Minister" Maliki saying that he wants a short term memorandum of understanding rather than a status of forces agreement and that Iraqi territory is not to be used for an attack against Iran or other State in the area is the best news out of Iraq in years. Actually, it is the only good news since the 2003 invasion, except for the rejection, to date, of the proposed Iraq Oil and Gas Law. However, a question is whether he will stick with that position, as noted by the Colonel in a followup comment above.

The only agreement that can be considered legally binding under the U.S. Constitution is a treaty ratified without reservations (Article II, section 2, and Article VI of the Constitution). Even when a treaty is ratified by the U.S. Senate, you have to check whether there are any "reservations" stated in the ratification.

Some lawyers and academics, such as Robert Bork, say that since a country can withdraw from a treaty and Congress can "invalidate a treaty's obligations, either explicitly or implicitly, by the passage of legislation or approval of acts inconsistent with the treaty", then, "[i]nternational law is not law but politics" (Bork, "Coercing Virtue", pages 17 and 21 (2003)).

Certainly for something called "law' to exist requires enough people to agree that it does and to agree on an enforcement mechanism for it, but there are quite a few people who do not agree with former Judge Bork that there is no such thing as international law.

Regardless of that debate, a "memorandum of understanding" is not a treaty and has zero legal effect, kind of like the trendy word "certify", which appears in the Patriot Act and other post-September 2001 laws instead of the Constitution's requirement of a sworn affidavit supporting a warrant before there can be a search or seizure.

A fundamental fallacy, heard endlessly in the media and underlying Hotrod's comment above, is that "we" should continue to have troops and a "presence" in Iraq for "security" or some other alleged reason, and the debate is to be over how the U.S. "presence" should be handled. This misses the point that there was absolutely no reason at all, not even a tiny one, to invade Iraq in 2003 and destroy one molecule of property and injure and kill one person there. Even in the Great State of Texas, where we have liberal self-defense laws, the use of force against another is not justified "in the response to verbal provocation alone". And Iraq of course did not even verbally try to provoke the U.S., much less use or attempt to use force against us.

Just as it was unnecessary to launch a war against the former Soviet Union, now Russia, or Communist China, when those countries have created large-scale weapons (mainly nuclear), so it was wholly unnecessary to attack Iraq even if it had such weapons. If you want to assume that the unproven assertion, made before the invasion of Iraq, that it had such weapons and that this unproven assertion justified launching a war, once no such weapons were found, there was and is no legal or moral reason to remain.

As I believe I have mentioned before, the claimed justification to stay in Iraq to "train" Iraqis about "security" is laughable and quite bogus, since the old East German Stasi (its Department of Homeland Security) taught the Baath Party how to set up an internal security apparatus. The Stasi achieved what Heinrich Himmler only wished for--100% police penetration of the society. Thus, there is nothing we can teach the Iraqis about "security" that they do not already know.

I should note in passing that with the ascension of former East German Communists into the unified German government, and with the more centralized European Union, some of the exceptional and strong privacy protections built into West German law after World War II have now changed, and a surveillance state is settling into that country, to the extent that some are calling today's Germany "DDR Lite" (DDR were the initials of the official name of former East Germany).

We are left with the surprisingly bold statements by Maliki, made in public, that there should be no long-term agreement for the U.S. presence there, and that Iraq is not to be a launching pad for an attack elsewhere.

In fact, the public nature of his declarations is like throwing down the glove.

Perhaps this is the result of some negotiations among Arabs and Persians. Discussions that we were not a part of.

mlaw230

Colonel and commentors:

I have commented here before that it appears that we are seeing a sea change in the currency of the concept of nationalism. There are probably a lot of reasons for this in the west, the lack of existential threats, globalization of the elite (the world IS flat for the very wealthy), but I wonder what the attachment of Arabs is to their largely artificial nation states?

Other than tradition, there seems little to recommend nationalism among emerging peoples/nations.

Am I wrong?

Cold War Zoomie

Walrus...always the optimist!

My experience with how "foreigners" viewed the USA back during the Cold War and up to the mid-1990s was very different from your description, especially in the UK.

Over paid, over sexed, and over here.

Generally speaking, the WWII generation and their children were happy to see us. The grandchildren were not.

Everywhere I went, from Scotland to Spain, I got an earful about all the things wrong with my country. It bothered me at first, but I got used to it.

Double digit pints of Guinness with interspersed "depth charges" are perfect for muffling the anti-American din.

penang

Apart from Turkey, what about Malaysia? They even used to have an Aussie air force base at Butterworth.

Dana Jones

"If the whole of the Iraqi experience IS in fact driven by corruption, it is much easier to understand the decisions made, the seeming irrationality exhibited, almost schizophrenic in it's effect." Spider Rider.
I will assume that you are referring to the corruption on the part of the U.S. No-bid contracts by cronies of the administration, profiteering, self-enrichment at the public trough. No call for sacrifice on the part of the American public, a first as far as I know. Yet we have killed at least a million human beings in Iraq & Afganistan, all in the name of Democracy. Yet the truth comes out in the end with the demand by the administration that no-bid oil contracts be signed, sealed and delivered before they retire to the golf courses. And we wonder why 'they' hate us? Every day there is some family in Iraq or Afganistan asking "What did we do to deserve this?" as WE kill them, their families, their countrymen, their fellow human beings. Do you not feel any outrage that America has been brought to this? We kill so casually, from the air, or afar through our drones. We are so detached, we don't see the carnage after the missile hits. But they do, and they will remember. And they will hate us forever. There is no way anyone will be able to undo the damage that this administration has wrought on the world, in OUR name.
Not even if we hold them accountable through war crime tribunals. It won't be enough. Americas face, and reputation has been dragged through worse than the mud and we are forever soiled by the atrocities that have been done in the name of "Bringing Democracy" to the Mid-East.
No one will ever trust us again. Not ever.

Patrick Lang

penang

What, exactly, is the relationship between Malaysia and Australia? pl

condfusedponderer

robt willmann,

As I believe I have mentioned before, the claimed justification to stay in Iraq to "train" Iraqis about "security" is laughable and quite bogus, since the old East German Stasi (its Department of Homeland Security) taught the Baath Party how to set up an internal security apparatus. The Stasi achieved what Heinrich Himmler only wished for--100% police penetration of the society. Thus, there is nothing we can teach the Iraqis about "security" that they do not already know.

I should note in passing that with the ascension of former East German Communists into the unified German government, and with the more centralized European Union, some of the exceptional and strong privacy protections built into West German law after World War II have now changed, and a surveillance state is settling into that country, to the extent that some are calling today's Germany "DDR Lite" (DDR were the initials of the official name of former East Germany).

Among other things new legislation is about allowing our Feds to do what State police is already allowed to do under State law. Federal law has been lagging in that regard.

I also find some comfort in the fact that as soon as a State surveillance law was issued the opposition immediately dragged it to the State constitutional court, that confirmed their concerns that the law was unconstitutional.
No constitutional lawyers and judges were spotted running around denouncing recklessness on part of the judges. Justice is still largely neutral and discussed as a professional matter and not as a partisan theme (think activist judges, trial lawyers and so forth). And the state government simply accepted the ruling without great hullabaloo from their partisans or declarations of the imminent end of Germany as we know it.

walrus,
I see the US as a mature democracy, mature in the sense that political players have become so familiar with it and professionalised that they have first been able to exploit and then shape their political environment to meet their monetary and/or ideological interests to the extent that checks and balances are no longer effective.

Homer

Dana Jones: Yet the truth comes out in the end with the demand by the administration that no-bid oil contracts be signed, sealed and delivered before they retire to the golf courses.

Lemme get this straight....

The US has (inadvertently) fathered a burgeoning fundamentalist Islamic which has really close ties to extremists in Iran which are well over twenty years old, but you think that the Iraqis are going to turn over their precious oil to the so-called Great Satan?

Perhaps your point of view is purely American, overtly ahistorical, and thus totally fails to take into account the previous points of view of men tightly held in the fists of men within the Iraqi Parliament?

Remember: Al-Dawa and the SCIRI (properly speaking!!) were formed decades ago vis-a-vis the Ayatollah Khomeini.

John Howley

For comparison, Col. Lang, you might want to characterize the relationship between Israel and the USA.

To what extent has this relationship been formalized in terms of military and government agreements?

Andy

I believe Col. Lang is correct about treaties of alliance. I looked up a few CRS reports on US relations with several Muslim countries. The following on the UAE and Kuwait are representative of those I read - close ties, but no official alliance (emphasis added):

UAE:

The UAE did not have close defense relations with the United States prior to the 1991 Gulf war to oust Iraqi forces from Kuwait. After that war, the UAE, whose armed forces number about 61,000, determined that it wanted a closer relationship with the United States, in part to deter and balance out Iranian naval power....The framework for U.S.-UAE defense cooperation is a July 25, 1994, bilateral defense pact, the text of which is classified. During the years of U.S. “containment” of Iraq (1991-2003), the UAE allowed U.S. equipment pre-positioning, as well as U.S. ship visits, at its large man-made Jebel Ali port, capable of handling U.S. aircraft carriers. U.S. forces also use Al Dhafra air base (KC-10, U-2 flights, other aircraft) and naval facilities at Fujairah to support of U.S. military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, even though UAE argues that the U.S. invasion of Iraq paved the way for Shiite Islamists to take power in Iraq.

Kuwait:

Kuwait was severely shaken by the 1990 Iraqi occupation and its leadership was heavily criticized domestically for failing to mount a viable defense. The country drew closer to the United States after U.S. forces spearheaded the liberation of Kuwait in the January-March 1991 Persian Gulf war, signing a ten-year defense pact with the United States on September 19, 1991, the text of which is classified. In September 2001, the pact was renewed for another ten years. The pact reportedly does not explicitly require that the United States defend Kuwait in a future crisis, but provides for mutual discussions of crisis options. It also is said to provide for joint military exercises, U.S. training of Kuwaiti forces, U.S. arms sales, pre-positioning of U.S. military equipment (enough armor to outfit a U.S. brigade), and U.S. access to Kuwaiti facilities. A related Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) provides that U.S. forces in Kuwait be subject to U.S. rather than Kuwaiti law.

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