Thursday, October 16, 2008
U.S. sort-of reaches deal on troops with Iraqi government
Anybody else notice the item today that U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates was backing a draft agreement with the Iraqi government to allow U.S. forces to remain after the U.N. mandate ends at the end of year? The strange negotiations between the United States and the sort-of elected government in Iraq has apparently been rocky because, apparently, a lot of the citizenry are still opposed to the U.S. military presence there. The talks took months, and were finally resolved yesterday, according to the Reuters international news service, with a deal that would sort-of require U.S. forces to leave by 2011. The agreement also would sort-of subject U.S. soldiers who commit crimes to the Iraqi court system. Reuters said Pentagon press secretary Geoff Morrell told reporters that the defense secretary was "comfortable with the document," and had begun lobbying members of the U.S. Congress to get support for the deal. On the surface, the agreement represents a change in policy by the Bush administration, which has long opposed setting a timeline for the withdrawal of U.S. forces. But the details of the pact reveal that the deadlines are merely advisory, because they are subject to conditions in Iraq. "These are not ad hoc, willy-nilly, arbitrary timelines," Morrell told reporters, according to Reuters. "These are goals that ... will only be followed if the conditions on the ground provide for it." The agreement to allow U.S. troops to be prosecuted applies only in exceptional circumstances, Reuters said. But if the Iraqi government does not believe it needs U.S. military support any longer, why does the Bush administration?