A secret deal being negotiated in Baghdad would perpetuate the American military occupation of Iraq indefinitely, regardless of the outcome of the US presidential election in November.
The terms of the impending deal, details of which have been leaked to The Independent, are likely to have an explosive political effect in Iraq. Iraqi officials fear that the accord, under which US troops would occupy permanent bases, conduct military operations, arrest Iraqis and enjoy immunity from Iraqi law, will destabilise Iraq's position in the Middle East and lay the basis for unending conflict in their country.
But the accord also threatens to provoke a political crisis in the US. President Bush wants to push it through by the end of next month so he can declare a military victory and claim his 2003 invasion has been vindicated. But by perpetuating the US presence in Iraq, the long-term settlement would undercut pledges by the Democratic presidential nominee, Barack Obama, to withdraw US troops if he is elected president in November.
The timing of the agreement would also boost the Republican candidate, John McCain, who has claimed the United States is on the verge of victory in Iraq – a victory that he says Mr Obama would throw away by a premature military withdrawal.
America currently has 151,000 troops in Iraq and, even after projected withdrawals next month, troop levels will stand at more than 142,000 – 10 000 more than when the military "surge" began in January 2007. Under the terms of the new treaty, the Americans would retain the long-term use of more than 50 bases in Iraq. American negotiators are also demanding immunity from Iraqi law for US troops and contractors, and a free hand to carry out arrests and conduct military activities in Iraq without consulting the Baghdad government.
I want to take this moment to ask you guys to pray for my friend, Jonathan Van Vogt. He's in the Marines and is stationed in Iraq. I know that some of you don't support the war in Iraq. But he's laying his life and self preservation on the line to defend the freedoms of this country. So can I ask that you pray for him? He's my good friend and I know his little sister would want me to pray for him.
This is an op-ed piece that I had some issues with. If I could only say one thing about the article, I would have to say that it is by a Republican who says that says he'll probably vote for McCain in November, even though he claims that Hillary is the best choice. That was the big flashing warning sign saying that this person was going to be misleading.
Another one of those misleading statements was his conflicting view of Clinton compared to Obama. He said:
On domestic policy he comes down as hard liberal, advocating things like nationalized health care, major social programs, expansion of federal role in education and so on.
I'm not going to debate whether or not the statement itself is true. That isn't the most misleading thing... it is his failure to mention that these are also things you could say about Clinton, except many would say that Clinton's Health Care plan is more "liberal" than Obama's.
"On national security I am also concerned by Senator Obama. His opposition to the war in Iraq and discussion of a gradual process of withdrawal is a good idea, but he simply wants to pull out right away without any consideration of the long term impact."
So Obama's opposition to the war is a good thing. His discussion of a gradual process of withdrawal is a good idea. How did the author get from discussing a gradual withdrawal to withdrawing the troops immediately with no consideration? Did he suddenly confuse Obama and Richardson?
All that aside, there were more alarming things:
"The next four years are not going to be pleasant for whoever takes over the White House. On the domestic scene we have the falling dollar, the mortgage crisis, a slumping economy and a number of other brewing problems.
Internationally we have Iraq, the war on Terror, growing threats from China, Russia, Iran and North Korea. Other issues like trade and immigration combine the worst of both arenas."
I have to agree that the job of the next president is not going to be pleasant. I just think that these "growing threats" from our infamous go-to bad guys is a little overblown. I have a feeling that a more diplomatic presence in the seat of power in our country will relax a lot of tension in the world. A question I have to ask is: Do we really have growing threats from these countries, or is our relationship with them damaged by a president who doesn't play nice with others? President Bush, although some would say it is his strongest point, has not been that great for US foreign policy.
As for Iraq, you have to wonder just how dire the circumstances are there. I'm very happy with Obama's questions to Gen. Petraeus. It really reflected how I've been feeling lately about Iraq. We should have went in with an idea of what success in Iraq was. Instead, the terms of success were never clearly stated to the general public going into Iraq, and any measure of success that we could see (WMDs, Saddam, Iraq freedom...) were always replaced with something else. The only thing we can hope for now is relative success... and we may be closing in on a point where our continued presence only hinders the chances for that relative success.
I have to wonder... is our involvement persisting in Iraq because our president views the avenues for relative success in Iraq as failure? Any time that someone mentioned a plan to get out of Iraq, it was denounced as "cut and run.". The next president might have a much easier time dealing with Iraq than we think if it turns out that the only reason we are still there is that they think leaving will be seen as weak. I think we've got to decide where our priorities are. The men that President Bush was supposed to be after with the War on Terror, Bin Laden and his fellow terrorist leaders, are still out there. No amount of fighting in Iraq will change that. At this point, our priorities are either here or there. The sooner we can focus our attention on the home front, the better it is for everyone.
"From my point of view, there is little chance that the next President will have much success in solving these problems, largely because they are far too complex to resolve and well beyond the control of any person or any country.
I think this is true largely because I do not think that the problems were created by any one administration or country. It is of course all too common in modern politics for one side to blame the other for the bad things or to try and take credit for the good, and often it works."
My main problem with this is its misleading nature. Sometimes there is unwarranted blame placed on the predecessor. This isn't one of those cases. If we can't look back at the Bush Presidency and see how he exacerbated all of the above issues, both domestic and foreign, then we must be blind. We know who is to blame for Iraq, because it was unprompted. We invaded them for no substantial reason and, even if there was reason to invade, it certainly didn't have to happen like this. But that is a big IF.
Without getting out of Iraq, I don't see the next President being able to turn the other issues around either. That is why not being there should be the highest priority.
He goes on to say....
"History has shown us that when one party gets too much power it is a very bad thing for the country. We can see this in many parts of the country today where one party has been in complete control and the result is corruption and stagnation.
Many people were concerned when Bush and the GOP held the White House and Congress, but even then the numbers in Congress were close enough for the Democrats to provide something of a check.
Imagine how bad things could be with no check at all, such as occurred during periods under FDR or LBJ. The results then were abuses of power that make the Bush period look mild (for those who wonder, I used these two Democratic examples because the GOP has not recently had those kinds of super majorities)."
I find it VERY odd that suddenly FDR and LBJ are the subject of so much ire. FDR is undenibly one the the best presidents we've ever had. This is why he consistently ranks with Presidents like Washington, Lincoln, and Jefferson. LBJ's biggest flub was not domestic, but foreign. I took a pretty good look at the effects of the Great Society programs, and I can honestly say that they were not ineffective. They worked, but not as good as Johnson predicted. These programs were long term solutions that could not get the focus they deserved because of the Vietnam war and were dismantled and/or cut before the long term effects were realized. LBJ's opposition brilliantly latched on to the perceived weakness with the War on Poverty and his actual weakness as a "war president", and tore it and him apart.
Oddly enough, it was Nixon who supported Universal Health Care and implemented SSI. In the end, all of these presidents did less harm to the US economy than Reagan, whose spending and economic changes allowed for a presidency like GWB's to occur.