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01 September 2010


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William R. Cumming

Well I put this speech up there with the "mission accomplished" one as being one soon to be repudiated by future events. Could be wrong of course?


Read this one?

Medicine Man

Strange, I've been reading a bit of chatter here and there giving credit to Bush for negotiating that Status of Forces Agreement--was it not a good idea after all?

And yes, I don't think the mayhem in Iraq is over, whatever Obama may say in his speeches.



I have a particular (and perhaps peculiar) view of the SOFA w/Iraq because I was bothered by it more for what it represented in the context of US domestic law and politics than its specific significance in Iraq...

... because it was (and remains) my understanding that Status of Forces Agreements are not normally formulated or intended as accords that authorize the use of force in a sovereign territory but rather have been more pragmatic statements of the legal and institutional bases (no pun intended) on which US forces may reside in other countries.

The bottom line, of course, is that the Bush administration used this mechanism rather than go back to Congress - and the United Nations - for the formal reauthorization of the mandate that allowed for the use of force in the first place. This may seem like semantics, some might be additionally skeptical about the utility of the "international mandate" in any case, and I might be wrong about the whole thing...

... but in my humble opinion, it was a huge risk to continue the US presence in Iraq on terms that left us holding the whole thing together if it went south before we could drawdown (and the next chapter is still being written, of course).

Adam L Silverman

Medicine Man: what was negotiated was not a SOFA, but rather a security agreement. What the Bush Administration wanted were permanent bases in Iraq for perpetuity with very liberal operating perameters for US personnel when operating off a base. What we got was an agreement to stay for a fixed period beyond the end of the official UN recognized occupation, restrictive rules of operation for when off of the base, and a concession at the Iraqis could vote to kick us out of the country at any time. Basically the Iraqis figured out they could stall us on the negotiations and then roll us on the final terms. They did the same thing with the provincial election parameters, which is why those were conducted under the very bad combo of open list/proportional representation. Basically they realized that we had time hacks we had to meet - the UN mandate for our occupation or actually having them hold an election, and they just acted accordingly.


The absence of posts here by a normally vocal commentarium is striking to me. Perhaps "the real measure of what we have accomplished" is just too depressing to write about.

Especially when contrasted with Bush's obscene braggadocio starting this war, Obama's ending comments do convey a real "not with a bang but a whimper" feeling to the whole, tragic, disastrous undertaking. And, the political turmoil, mindless killing and death in Iraq is far from over. With our painful disengagement it is simply entering a new phase.

Patrick Lang


There were two agreements. pl


Have folks read Prof Cole's Iraq speech that OBama should give about Iraq but will not.


Pat and Adam...

I gather you're both saying that there was a SOFA in the "classic" sense and a security agreement that defined the evolving rules of authority and engagement. I seem to remember that, too, now that you've pointed it out...

... but the bottom line, if I may, is that we remained at war with neither a renewed international mandate nor the consent of the Congress.

On the one hand, I think Adam described the process more accurately... though on the other, I think this process did, at the very least, create a template that allowed the incoming Obama/Biden administration to prepare for the concrete drawdown and withdrawal that had been promised in the campaign.

Who knows what a McCain/Palin administration would have concocted...

Adam L Silverman

Batandor: I can't speak for COL Lang and wouldn't presume to do so, but what I understand was going on is that up through the end of 2008 we were covered under UN authority as the occupying power and that rolled into this was the agreement or protocols allowing for US personnel to be based in Iraq and to operate there. The Bush Adminstration, in 2007 and 2008, with the UN authority set to expire and the Iraqis making it clear they wouldn't ask for it to be renewed (it could not be renewed without an Iraqi request to the UN), tried to negotiate what would have been a proper SOFA, if not a SOFA on steroids. The Iraqis ran the clock and the table on us in those negotiations and we had to settle for the current security agreement. I think the confusion is whether the UN occupation authority was itself separate from a SOFA up through the end of 2008. Given COL Lang's response my guess is that it likely was.

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