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June 29, 2009

My What Cute Iraqis You Are
Posted by Michael Cohen

The piece by John Hannah ( former National Security Advisor for Dick Cheney) in today's LA Times is really quite a whopper. This glossed up history of the Iraq surge I found particularly enjoyable:

Bush's decision to double-down rather than retreat sent friend and foe alike a powerful message that the U.S. had no intention of abandoning Iraq. Reassured, Iraqis were galvanized in their efforts to confront Al Qaeda and Iranian-backed militias, and recommitted themselves to building an independent, pluralist democracy.

Of course the thrust of Hannah's op-ed is not oriented toward re-fighting the last war, but instead to attack President Obama for losing the current one. He claims that for the President "withdrawal, not victory, is his highest priority." You know Mr. Hannah might want to consult the Status of Forces Agreement signed by President Bush that MANDATES A WITHDRAWAL OF US TROOPS FROM IRAQ by 2011 and the withdrawal of combat troops from Iraqi cities by the end of this month. (Check out Article 24).

Yet, this doesn't stop him from blaming the Obama Administration for the fact that Iraqis are "accommodating themselves to the agenda of the coming Iranian hegemony rather than their departing American liberators." And what exactly is the solution to this problem: "offsetting withdrawal" with "high-level diplomatic and economic engagement. That, however, will require the president spending far less time signaling his eagerness to get out of Iraq and more time working with Iraqis to figure out how best we can stay."

Now here's the thing I don't understand; if the goal of the surge was to create a "successful, modernizing democracy" in the Middle East then doesn't the turnover of security to Iraq's government represent a sort of, "Mission Accomplished?" John Hannah claims that he is speaking to Iraqis on a regular basis, but I guess he missed the fact that the upcoming withdrawal date from Iraqi cities is being heralded in Iraq as a national holiday and great victory for Iraq.

Hannah just seems oblivious to the fact that the Iraqis want us out of Iraq. Considering that the US supposedly initiated the surge to ensure that Iraq would have some future as a democratic country don't there views merit at least some consideration?


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Well said. I guess the line of thinking is that the SOFA is just something done by Iraq's leaders to cover short term political needs. What I don't understand is how they would think that after signing the agreement the Iraqis would suddenly be more interested in our staying.

I disagree with some of your other posts on Afghanistan because from the polling I've seen I don't think the majority of Afghans want us to pull out with all due haste (although I expect a vast majority want us gone in the long term). That may well change, and if it does I certainly think that an orderly withdraw would be the way to go in that country as well. Obviously, we can leave even if the Afghans want us to stay, but for now I'm willing to give it more time.

In any event, thanks for putting it in such clear terms. Ultimately a liberal foreign policy means respecting the will of the local population in such matters. They are not children that are our wards nor are we an all knowing guardian capable of impartially divining their interests.

Why is the uS withdrawal from cities being heralded in Iraq as a national holiday and great victory for Iraq?

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