Day By Day

Saturday, January 12, 2008

An Iraq Settlement?

Sure looks like it.

There is interesting news out of Kuwait reported in Newsweek:
In remarks to the traveling press, delivered from the Third Army operation command center here, Bush said that negotiations were about to begin on a long-term strategic partnership with the Iraqi government modeled on the accords the United States has with Kuwait and many other countries.


[T]he new partnership deal with Iraq, including a status of forces agreement that would then replace the existing Security Council mandate authorizing the presence of the U.S.-led multinational forces in Iraq, will become a sworn obligation for the next president. It will become just another piece of the complex global security framework involving a hundred or so countries with which Washington now has bilateral defense or security cooperation agreements.
Read it here.

Of course this is Newsweak, and their whole concern is how this arrangement will impact Hillary's and Barak's campaigns. Their sense is that it will take the whole Iraq issue off the table and weaken the Dem's campaigns. Their conclusion [and for that matter, their lead] is that Bush is playing politics and locking in an American presence in Iraq.

The upshot is that the next president, Democrat or Republican, is likely to be handed a fait accompli that could well render moot his or her own elaborate withdrawal plans, especially the ones being considered by the two leading Democratic contenders, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton.

The Clinton campaign, with obvious fore-knowledge, has already issued demands that any long-term military arrangement reached by this administration must first be approved by Congress, but with the success of the surge Bush seems to have the upper hand in any dealings with Congress. What is likely to result is a permanent security arrangement similar to those the US already has with Japan, Germany, South Korea, and Kuwait. And that is pretty much what Bush was aiming for right from the start.

And more good news:

The Iraqi government has at last reached agreement on debathification, one of the major benchmarks Congress had imposed on them. It is no longer possible to say that there has been no political progress.

From AP:

Iraq's parliament passed a benchmark law Saturday allowing lower-ranking former members of Saddam Hussein's Baath party to reclaim government jobs, the first major piece of U.S.-backed legislation it has adopted.

Traveling in Manama, Bahrain, President Bush hailed the law as "an important step toward reconciliation."

"It's an important sign that the leaders of that country understand that they must work together to meet the aspirations of the Iraqi people," he said.

The seismic piece of legislation had been demanded by the United States since November 2006 and represented the first legislative payoff for Bush's decision to deploy 30,000 additional troops to the country to quell violence.

Read it here.