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17 December 2011


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Green Zone Cafe

I commented on some of this on the last post, but the withdrawal owes as much to a U.S. insistence on formalism as Iraqi and Iranian "maneuvering."

Porter presents the outcome as something that was planned from 2006 on. That strains credibility when you consider the Iraqi government has trouble planning for next week, and consider the number of intervening events in that time frame. He has a bit of a tortured explanation for Operation Charge of the Knights, when Maliki took on the Mahdi Army. The Iraqis across all groups gave Maliki high marks for that, accounting for State of Law's good showing in the March 2009 provincial elections.

The Iraqis were willing to keep some U.S. troops in Iraq, but wanted the agreement to be a memorandum between DOD and the Iraqi MOD, not the treaty the Americans insisted on.

As Maliki said, it was politically impossible to get the Council of Representatives to vote for the troops staying along with immunity for Americans. Haditha and Nisoor Square, along with a lot of smaller incidents, put an end to that. This was the price of marketing the war partly as payback for 9/11 - the sentiment, however wrong, filtered down to the ground level throughout the duration of OIF, causing blowback again and again.

William R. Cumming

I believe we have NO formal treaty arrangements with Iraq but could be wrong as often I am. I wonder if SOFAs [status of forces agreements] qualify as grand strategy? I would argue the road was paved for leading to problems when the US conceded so much in that effort in Iraq. Who or what organizations are involved in negotiating such agreements on behalf of the US?



The iraqis led us down the garden path to two agreements, one is a SOFA and the other a "strategic framework." In the end neither meant anything except as a symbol of our gullibility. pl



"...when Maliki took on the Mahdi Army. The Iraqis across all groups gave Maliki high marks for that, accounting for State of Law's good showing in the March 2009 provincial elections. The Iraqis were willing to keep some U.S. troops in Iraq, but wanted the agreement to be a memorandum between DOD and the Iraqi MOD, not the treaty the Americans insisted on..." It sounds as though the BS worked with you general. pl

Green Zone Cafe

General? I wish. I'm only repeating what I heard in Iraq. Maliki was very popular among all sorts of people in early 2009.

Porter's conspiracy theory is strained. Al Rubaie said that the violence of Mahdi Army was no problem, because Sadrists were included in the government? I'd bet it was more like, taking action against the Mahdi Army was a problem because the Sadrists were in the government. But in the end, they did take action against the Mahdi Army, and ended up including Americans in that action.

I also dispute your characterization of Maliki as an "enemy" in the earlier post. I commented on that in the earlier post, but the comment got lost. Maliki is not an "enemy." He is a man on a tightrope, who appreciates the USA to the extent that we have helped him stay on the rope.

Remember, he's been to Arlington Cemetary twice to lay wreaths to the U.S. fallen. That cost him some in Iraq.


So would it have been politically possible on our side to have a memorandum agreement between DOD and the Iraqi MOD, with or without immunity for our troops?

Blackwater cost us a lot.



No. The majority of Iraqis always wanted us gone. Blackwater was an emblem of why they did not want us in their country. pl



Sorry about the "general" thing. I was just trifling with you. pl

stanley henning

I think our incompetent national leadership outsmarted themselves by even initiating the Iraq fiasco.And, while our civilian government is responsible for making strategic decisions, high level military leaders must also be part of the equation. I think America needs to go back to school - we desperately need a civics program in our public school system and it should consider issues such as - amazingly - noted in China's first history account of the Confucian school that said, "where there are civil matters there must also be military consideration and where there are military matters there must also be civil consideration." In other words, serious issues must be carefully "war gamed" before implementing and
war would be a matter of last resort.>

Bill H.

"In fact, the US military seeks to implement the elected government's policy. It does not originate policy initiatives that amount to national grand strategy."

I know that is the theory, but I wonder to what degree it is actually true, given the way Congress fawns over the likes of Davis Petraeus, and anyone wearing stars for that matter, and considers them to be "those whose word must not be questioned." There is, too, the degree to which flag officers routinely speak publicly about matters of policy, and how often their words are at odds with the stated policies expressed by the Executive Branch of government and then, when push comes to shove, what happens is closer to the expressed desires of the military than to the previously stated policies of civilian leadership.

I'm thinking, particularly, of the Afghanistan "surge" and the period leading up to it. Note, too, our President's discussion of defense spending cuts, and the SofD's rebuttal, accompanied by various military heads, about the disaster that would ensue.



I suppose you are right but it is a terrible thng and something rare in our history. pl

anna missed

Most interesting analysis. I'm pretty sure as a pretext, George Bush himself made numerous public declarations to the media claiming that "if and when the Iraqi's want us to leave, we will leave" - well BEFORE the SOFA negotiations took place. These declarations put the Bush administration in the unlikely (obviously not believing this would ever happen) position of having to honor this position should rhetoric be taken seriously as policy.

Nouri al Maliki has always shown himself to be shrewdly adept at appropriating U.S. propaganda in such a way that both inspired a willingness to believe on part of his U.S. counterparts, and a shrewdness in utilizing that confidence in exploiting his own agenda. As Porter alludes, this ability underlines his suspicions that Maliki, the Iranians, and Sadr have often worked together in tacit agreement toward mutually desirable conclusions. Which couldn't be more adeptly illustrated than the operations in Basra and Sadr City where he was able convincingly show the U.S. his anti-Sadr credentials while simultaneously containing the movement and ultimately, preserving it from destruction by U.S. forces. The fact that these engagements were brokered and brought to resolution by Iranian intelligence (Suleimani) as opposed to the U.S., one would think, would have set off sirens of alarm about how the U.S. position mistook its own growing irrelevancy as progressive confidence in Maliki. And then somehow, the whole matter slipped into the parallel world of Iranian inspired figments, and transformed itself into Joe Lieberman's mysterious Iranian "Special Groups".

Bill H.

Indeed it is. I watch these things, having been raised by a career Army Air Corps/Air Force officer, and it rather frightens me.

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