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28 December 2011


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Adam, what definitive evidence do we have for the notion that negotiation for an "outsized SOFA" was dictated by Washington?

Adam L Silverman


In the link to my April post at FP, I link to the news report (either WaPo or NY Times) on Ambassador Crocker's and GEN Petraeus's testimony before Congress on events in Iraq. The reporting indicates that is what they testified to before Congress.


Well done, Adam,

I wish this could be mandatory reading for everyone who wants to start down the rhetorical road of "all for naught," and "who lost Iraq?"


Charles I

"the Iraqis have scores to settle and positions to consolidate and they can not do that if we are in Iraq."

And now the neocons have history to re-write and positions to undermine, and they cannot do that if you are still IN Iraq. Their jobs in Washington depend on it.

Adam L Silverman


Thank you - that is high praise indeed.


It was altogether for naught. The neocons "lost Iraq" and anyone who encouraged the invasion lost it with thm. pl


Obama has entirely politicized this and only has himself to blame if republicans politicize it right back.

He proclaims that he ended the war. No, as you say, the Iraqis ended it by telling us to leave despite the administration's attempts to work another deal leaving some troops there.

So, if republicans want to take that lie--that it was an optional exit by Obama--and run with it, Obama deserves that blowback politically.

Unfortunately, for the future that lie may come to represent "fact".



History is all lies told by interested parties. You know that. pl

Adam L Silverman


I'm not sure that the Obama Administration has politicized it so much or rather that the ceremonial behavior that he engaged in as Head of State and Commander in Chief for the military has been politicized by those that blame him for failing to get the Iraqis to renegotiate the deal. Many of those doing this, are as COL Lang noted above, the neo-Cons and their fellow travelers that are responsible for the mess to begin with. The latter, which is what I think is really going on, is a lot like burning down your own house then getting mad at your neighbor because he was only able to help save your car because his fire extinguishers could only do so much before the fire department showed up. You are correct that he is going to receive that blowback, but given that the only other options were to ignore the agreement, get new authorization, or accede to the Iraqi demands that American military personnel stationed there be subject to Iraqi law he did the only thing he could do - live up to the agreement as the Bush (43) Administration negotiated it. I suppose he could have conditionally accepted the Iraqi offer, but try to have it put to a vote in Congress (for which, unless it was a treaty, there's no real procedure to do so). This might have made good politics domestically, immunizing him from (some of the) criticism, but its not how one should do security policy.


Too late. Romney is already running away with it. Barring a spectacular improvement of the situation in Iraq (and we all know how likely that is), this "lie" is bound to become a major talking point in the campaign.

Cato the Censor

I'm convinced one of the reasons the Democratic Party continues to exist in this phony-democracy oligarchy is to be a standing fall-guy for various foreign policy disasters (Who lost China in '49, etc.). They seem to accept it every time too which just strikes me as further proof that what's going on isn't democracy, just a Kabuki show that's called that.

anna missed

Thank you Dr Silverman. A very succinct analysis.

Especially point #1, that acknowledges the significance of the ethnic cleansing of Baghdad as a key event and/or opportunity squandered. Seems to me that the surge/Awakening should have taken place before the bombing in Sammara and all that followed, because consequently Maliki could then conclude (rightly) that the insurgency had become a spent threat and felt no obligation to shelter its remaining participants, let alone integrate them into the Iraqi security forces. Or in other words, the internal sectarian war had already been won to the extent that Maliki was secure enough, and sufficiently less dependent (on the U.S.) to ignore Washington's long term agenda.

Had the Awakening program been adopted before Sammara and all that followed, things may have turned out quite different.


anna missed

The surge of US troops, the awakening and the Samarra bombing were not causally connected phenomena.

-AQ in Iraq bombed the Samarra mosque because it was on the list of things to do against the "false Muslims who called themselves Shia."

- The surge was the brain f--t of the Kagans and a former vice chief of staff of the Army who is a denizen of neoconworld. They and the other neocons sold this idea to GWB the egregious, and Cheney the evil. Petraeus the Great took up the idea when he learned that it had already been approved by Bush. Before that he was planning straight COIN stuff in line with the results of the exalted thinking about this that had been done under the influence of his, "sob," genius.

-The Awakening/sons of Iraq thing was the creation of a lot of junior SF and marine people who started listening to the appeals of the Sunni Arabs for help against AQI. you may remember that before that the neocon policy had been that the only good sunni was a .... Petraus the Great adopted that as well when he saw that it worked and would save his a-s. pl


Adam, PL, et.al

Thanks for the concise summary of the truth. Sadly, as Mark Twain said "A lie can travel halfway around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes."

William R. Cumming

I would argue that the US picked sides in Iraq. That was the fundamental error. Others may well disagree.

Also the fact that in many cases the US has withdrawn from combat areas, often after over a decade, is both a strength and weakness. But in many cases the military has opposed the withdrawal for its own reasons.

Just as some Legions settled permanently in the far Roman marches perhaps the military largely enjoys undocumented benefits from overseas deployments that are quite different from domestic deployments. What is most fascinating to me is that this whole arena of the culture of the military in reality not as myth or memory seems to be largely unstudied also.

And I wonder if the military culture could withstand long peace time service in the continental USA?



Yes, however much we deny it we picked the Shia Arab side in Iraq.

"Just as some Legions settled permanently in the far Roman marches perhaps the military largely enjoys undocumented benefits from overseas deployments that are quite different from domestic deployments"

So you looked for the US military to settle into "colonia" as the Roman Army did at Cologne, York, etc. you must have been disappointed that the US military did not do something similar in Germany or Korea over the last sixty years or in the Phillipines when we owned them altogether for fifty years.

"undocumented benefits?" what would they be? Slave labor from the locals? unlimited sex from bound concubines? tell that to the guys who couldn't get a legal drink or a woman other than some doughnut dolly or fellow soldier." pl



"I wonder if the military culture could withstand long peace time service in the continental..."

The Regular US Army is 236 years old. The National Guard is 375 years old.

You don't think we can do peace? did you learn nothing in the Army? pl


Thanks Adam,

I think one of the reasons it was such a failure is that the foreign policy goals were multifaceted, fluidly changing, and often contradictory (for example, choose sides, strengthen Iraq to buttress against Iran, demand elections). I think this underlies the many mistakes you outline. Although I doubt a different ending, perhaps some strategic clarity would have helped.

Can't say I blame Obama for not embarking on a strategic analysis (and stirring up a hornet's nest) in the time remaining on the SOFA agreement, but this all should have been obvious to him when he accepted the position of president.

I suppose he could have been more effective at bribing (oops, I mean offering incentives) to Maliki to hold off on the night of long knives for a bit (as in after Nov 8 2012).

PS Love the picture

anna missed

It's my understanding that the SF's and Marine contingents were asked and/or advocated a working relationship with the Sunni shaikhs some time before the civil war period and the program was finally adopted. There was less at stake when it was adopted, because the insurgency (& its internal support) was in major decline if not spent. And of course it made Petraus look like an innovator instead of a slacker long after the rewards of the program - genuine Sunni representation - had evaporated.
In one sense, the current Shiite centric situation is the step-child of the obsession with de-Baathification run amok.


anna missed

"long after the rewards of the program - genuine Sunni representation - had evaporated"

A cheap shot at the brave men who did this. this sounds like CIA sniping. pl

Roy G.

One common thread that appears to be ever more loose is that US foreign policy is now just fodder for domestic political posturing.

anna missed

Don't get me wrong, I cast no dispersions on the Awakening (the actual sons of Iraq) or the (U.S.) troops that orchestrated it. But it seems pretty clear that the effort was too little to late and has consequently died on the vine. At least politically for the Sunni's, as after expelling AQinI and burnishing Petraus' crown they have little to nothing left to show for the effort.
About all we're left with now is how the Sadrists or Iran will broker the political future of Iraq.


anna missed

"the effort was too little to late and has consequently died on the vine."

"Died on the vone?" Hell no! The US government walked away from the SoI in favor of the pro-religious Shia policy loved by the poly sci trained nitwits who run our government. pl

Charles I

And now a new Petraeus bio tosses this into the debate, reportedly denied by the good general, er, CIA Director:

Petraeus nearly quit over Afghan drawdown, book claims


Charles I

oops, wrong war, never mind

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