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07 July 2008


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robt willman wrote:

"The only agreement that can be considered legally binding under the U.S. Constitution is a treaty [and] a 'memorandum of understanding' is not a treaty and has zero legal effect...."

Um, are you sure of this robt? I don't know how Bush could make such a agreement without it being an Executive Agreement, and those have been in use almost forever and recognized as valid by the S. Ct. (And further there are such things as "Executive/Congressional Agreements" which instead of being "ratified" like treaties by 2/3 of the Senate are just passed by both houses of Congress I think.)

Plus, if I'm not mistaken while U.S. law differentiates between treaties, EA's and etc., I don't think that international law does and regards any U.S. EA's simply as just another U.S. obligation no different from those we make via treaties. (Which seems sensible, right?)

Now I know that there are some theorists who say that EA's and such *shouldn't* be found constitutional, but that is theory and they have.

So, if a MoU were reached for instance, and it called, say, for immunity for U.S. troops for liability to the Iraqi's, and an Iraqi sued a U.S. serviceman either in the Hague or here, why do you think it would have "zero legal effect"? I must be missing something.


William R. Cumming

Personally I believe a huge shell game is going on domestically in Iraq and with respect to its international posture. The real bottom line for Iraq is oil revenues not the presence or absence of US forces unless they impact how much, or when, or even if, Iraqi oil becomes part of the international and very fungible oil market. Now the game for all Iraqis is to get the most out of the US presence with their performing the littlest weight lifting possible on big issues. Unfortunately, for students of history while the US and Iraq were not looking, even over their shoulders, the international oil market has long overshadowed domestic politics in Iraq, and maybe the US. US leadership is not yet up to the fact that a century and a half of cheap energy which helped the US win WWII is not coming back ever. No politician willing to state it that firmly because most were fully complicit in the failures from mileage requirements to preventing alternative energy sources from being captive of the oil majors. Given that Britain and Norway are fast on the production downslope, this coming decade is going to be very tricky to negotiate for the USA and not have its economy permanently broken. Who will tell the people? Oil not SOFA is the driver now in Iraq!


By now, even Iraq can win war against us. Not outright shooting match, but creating a condition of massive economic downturn.

It's only a matter of media play.

with hurricane season approaching peak, oil price will gyrate like crazy when combined with any war talk in the middle east.

Any unhappy asian central bank dumping dollar will pretty much finish us off economically. (GM, fannie mae/freddie mac, lehman, citicorp, several major retailers are all nearing bankruptcy.)

A combination of oil embargo by Iran, venezuela, Iraq, and Libya will bring us to our knees by christmas.

It's all by way of credit crunch and banking collapse now.

Some freak shooting accident in the middle east while the market is jittery will pretty much collapse the DOW.

Everybody need a scheme to make money. And this is the biggest money making scheme there is. Shorting the market and expect federal bail out afterward.

It's practically free money.


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

Cordial mutual dislike.


mlaw230 wrote:

"Other than tradition, there seems little to recommend nationalism among emerging peoples/nations.... Am I wrong?"

I think this may be one of the most important observations I have seen in this blog about the long-term future.

I know that in a recent edition of Foreign Affairs someone has written a piece essentially saying that while we in the West have been happily trying to construct what we think is the future in the form of a still nationalistic but extremely pluralistic and culturally, ethnically and religiously heterogeneous societies, that simply and emphatically hasn't been the direction that history has been taking elsewhere.

And then even here in the West that "official" ideology can seem to have only been accompanied by the ever-increasing formation and strength of religious, ethnic, cultural or other in-groups, and an odd, ever-lessening nationalism to boot. (Witness the European Union.)

Perhaps contrary to Fukuyama (although he did somewhat exempt the arab world particularly from his forecast), the future is one where "the West" is a small, weak, internally riven and fundamentally insecure collection of nations, while the rest of the world is made up of blocs simply brimming over with ethno-religious and cultural homogeneity and confidence.

Same old piercing question to Wilson's call for "self-determination" after WWI: Who exactly is the "self" in that formulation?

Can seem kind of funny that we who so fervently feel the answer for us should at the very least not be the religious or ethnic or cultural "self," are still somewhat applauding Maliki's apparent identfication with the ethno-religious "self" of arabism.


Dana Jones

"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?" Homer
Dude, I didn't say that we'd get what we want, did I? I think the Iraqis have the balls to tell us to roll that contract up & where we can stick it.
I wouldn't be surprised if in a year or two Iraq demanded that we hand over Bush & cronies to stand trial for war crimes (with the same gallows in the background that had Saddam on it). Would we turn them over though?

Spider Rider

"I see the US as a mature democracy,"

An infant, yet, IMO.

The Cold War didn't end with the dissolution of the USSR, it just changed, really, sometimes I get the impression this Russian-American-British entanglement has been going on AT LEAST since the October Revolution of 1917.

Lesson being, always plan ahead.

William R. Cumming

I believe over 80 countries have a significant Islamic population if not a majority. Indonesia is one. PL are you sure that none have Treaties of Alliance with the US? What are our formal agreements with Pakistan? Foreign Military sales only?

Patrick Lang


With regard to Israel it should be clear that whatever limitations there are in the US/Israel political and military relationships are of Israeli origin. Why? The Israelis are unwilling to enter into any sort of agreement that limits their freedom of action. They want to be in the position of receiving assistance and support and not in the position of being under any sort of control by the US.

In regard to the majority Muslim states (whether or not they are officially "Islamic"), they typically enter into limited agreements for spcific purposes of logistics sales, maintenance of equipment, training, consultation in the event of a threat to the Muslim party, the creation of a regional air defense network, etc. Pacts like ASEAN, when looked at closely, are really political consultative arrangements. What the Muslim states typically do not do is enter into treaty arrangements like NATO that establish a permanent and essentially unlimited relationship with a non-Muslim state.

Turkey is an exception that proves the rule. The Kemalist revolution in Turkey established an essentially anti-Islamic Turkish nationalist state. The Turkish Army has been the guardian of that tradition. Now that Turkey is rehabilitating Islam as a politico-religious force, Turkey has become much less accomodating for its NATO allies.

Take a look at all the different agreements between non-Muslim and Muslim states. Look at what they actually agree rather than what you have assumed they agree. pl

Sidney O. Smith III


Not to take anything away from Foreign Affairs, but it just seems to me that Dr. Christine Helms was well ahead of those folks on the issue your raised -- Arabism and Islam: Stateless Nations and Nationless States. She raised the issue way back in 1990 in McNair Paper No. 10, which Col. Lang has cited several times and first brought to the attention of folks at SST.

After I read her paper, it seemed to me that most FA pieces on the Middle East didn’t have as much analytical get up and go, as almost all observations about the Middle East, can in some way or another fit into the parameters, if not paradigm, she described. Her paper damn near verges on historiography.

If you haven’t already taken a gander, here’s a link.


BTW, I guess you caught the flurry of press reports about the inadequacies of the 73 War Powers Act and the question of its constitutionality. Still believe that the 10th Amendment is, to borrow from Scott Peck, the road less traveled, but it certainly warrants consideration as a way to restore a balance of power b/t the executive and legislative branches re: war powers. Odds increasing the issue is headed to the courts.


Sidney O. Smith, III wrote:

"Not to take anything away from Foreign Affairs, but...."

Well thank you Sidney. I hadn't seen the Colonel's referencing this Helms' article thing and will certainly follow the link you so kindly provided.

Otherwise though ... the *10th* Amendment? I assume you mean the 9th, given that the latter is at least concerned with individual rights as opposed to the 10th's apparent focus on those of the states. But even so, while my prejudices are in your same direction I don't see how the 9th is gonna be regarded as all that weighty in any talk of a new War Powers Act or even the ability of the people to judicially challenge how the two other branches are handling foreign affairs. Historically both the 9th and 10th have pretty much been treated as the mere "inkblots" that somebody (I forget who) once called 'em. So would really be a sea change to have either take on some big new significance. Maybe even more than a mere sea change; a tsunami change.

As usual though you probably know something I don't, so spill it Smith.


Clifford Kiracofe

1. <"growing international belief that America is now physically dysfunctional">


Yes, and I would add mentally and politically dysfunctional as a nation. IMO, this is not going to change or improve any time soon. When and if it does, we will have lost much valuable time, blood, and treasure.

2. The United States have had relations with the Muslim world since the War of Independence era. Morocco was the first country to formally "recognize" these United States (20 December 1777). Treaties of Peace and Friendship including commerce with Muslim nations have been undertaken for the last two centuries as a matter of course.

We can note that the first three words in our 1797 treaty with Tunis are, significantly: "God is infinite."

Moreover, we can note Article 11 of the 1796 Treaty of Peace and Commerce with Tripoli:
"As the Government of the United States of America is not in any sense founded on the Christian religion; as it has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion, or tranquility of Musselmen; and as the said States never have entered into any war or act of hostility against any Mahometan nation, it is declared by the parties, that no pretest arising from religious opinions shall ever produce an interruption of the harmony existing between the two countries."

Such was the attitude of the Founding Fathers toward Muslim nations. Compare with the Zionist dominated Congress and Executive Branch of the present era.

3. The late Prof. Majjid Khadduri was a leading expert on Islamic concepts of international law. See for example, his translation of al-Shaybani's text.

Advert quote: "From its origins Islam has been an expansionist religion, understanding itself as a matter of faith to be in a permanent state of war with the non-Muslim world. After the initial consolidation of the Islamic caliphate, however, it soon became apparent that constant military hostilities could not be sustained and that other forms of relationship with non-Muslim nations would be necessary. To reconcile the imperatives of faith with the limits of military power, Islamic scholars developed elaborate legal doctrines. In the second century of the Muslim era (eighth century C.E.), hundreds of years before the codification of international law in Europe by Grotius and others, Muhammad ibn al-Hasan al-Shaybani, an eminent jurist of the Hanafite school in present-day Iraq, wrote the first major Islamic treatise on the law of nations, Kitab al-Siyar al-Kabir. Translated with an extensive commentary by Majid Khadduri, Shaybani's Siyar describes in detail conditions for war (jihad) and for peace, principles for the conduct of military action and of diplomacy, and rules for the treatment of non-Muslims in Muslim lands. A foundational text of the leading school of law in Sunni Islam, it provides essential insights into relations between Islamic nations and the larger world from their earliest days up to the present."


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