The Politics of Staying

There is popular and political resistance in Iraq to an extension of U.S. troop presence. However, some of the leadership, including Prime Minister Maliki, is vying for military and security “trainers” to stay beyond 2012. These people are undoubtedly the ones feeling most of the pressure from U.S. officials to “request” a continued troop presence, but even this isn’t popular among the rest. Indeed, in order to make that request official, Maliki would have to ignore parliament.

The difference between troops and trainers, usually former soldiers and police contracted to the U.S. government, may be critical for Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki as he deals with squabbling politicians and tries to appease constituents who want the Americans out.

[…] To avoid angering allies and fuelling sectarian tension, Maliki, who is also acting defense and interior minister, may opt to bypass parliament and have his ministries sign agreements with Washington for 2,000-3,000 U.S. trainers, sources said.

[…] The lawmaker, who is close to Maliki, said the 3,000 U.S. trainers would need security, technical and logistic support which could raise the contractors’ total to around 5,000.

From this we can get an idea of the political climate in Iraq on this issue. But we should note what it is here at home. Is Congress even involved in this decision? The answer is essentially no. Status of Forces Agreements are an executive decision and Obama and his national security minions have full responsibilities in this regard, while the impotent and lackadaisical Congress simply sits back. Even still, the spectrum of debate is terribly narrow. On the far right we have McCain, who wants to keep 13,000 troops there pretty much indefinitely. Obama and the military have “offered” to keep 10,000. Other than that, Democrats have been utterly silent. Therefore, the spectrum of views is essentially a difference of 3,000 soldiers.

It is pity that this has to keep being reiterated, but it does. The Iraq war was waged under false pretenses, which is a pretty way of saying lies and distortions, against a non-threatening state. This makes it a war of aggression, which is actually a war crime under international law. It was fought at really unimaginable human and financial costs. None of this, of course, makes our current presence there any more legitimate. Our current presence there has about as much legitimacy as Obama’s military intervention in Libya. That is to say, it has no legitimacy. Zero. If there were any semblance of free and open debate in this country, these facts would be front and center. Obama would hear it loud and clear that the only legitimate choice would be to withdraw every last soldier from Iraq, not next year, not next week, but yesterday.

  • JLS

    "Indeed, in order to make that request official, Maliki would have to ignore parliament."

    What's the big deal? The US president ignores congress.

    • curmudgeonvt

      Given Congress's past history I don't see a problem there – no to be construed as agreeing with what Obama has done/will do. He proved some time ago that he was not as advertised.

  • "If there were any semblance of free and open debate in this country, these facts would be front and center. Obama would hear it loud and clear that the only legitimate choice would be to withdraw every last soldier from Iraq, not next year, not next week, but yesterday."

    But how can we debate about a war which is already over? (eye roll)

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  • Brittany

    There is no problem with presenting the facts about what Iraq is requesting, it's actually refreshing to hear news of the ongoings there- since it's been out of the media spotlight for quite sometime now. The issue I have with this post is the fact that you present no realistic exit strategy, or even hint that there is one from Iraq. This blog seems to promote justice and the need for civil liberties to be followed, yet you forget to address the fact that as Americans we have completely violated and left the people of Iraq in shambles. For the conscience of the American government and it's citizens how could anyone sleep at night knowing the United States military might as well have raped and pillaged the entire country of Iraq, and to leave them with structure would be as irresponsible as entering the war in the first place.