Thursday, August 21, 2008

Bush Moves To Remove Iraq From The Campaign By... Adopting Obama's Position-- McCain Too Busy Counting His Homes To Realize


After a sudden and unannounced flight, Condoleeza Rice is in Baghdad this morning. She's hammering the Iraqi political leadership on the timing of the withdrawal of U.S. forces And on the issue of extraterritoriality (i.e.- the "issue of immunity for American troops from Iraqi prosecution.") The U.S. and Iraq have been haggling over this since early March and Condi said, “This agreement will be ready when it’s ready."

It's especially funny because American neoCons are yelling about Russian troops occupying a couple of checkpoints in northern Georgia near where Stalin was born just as the UN document making the U.S. occupation of Iraq legalish expires.

This morning's Wall Street Journal goes a little further than the cautious Times in terms of how the Bush Regime is trying to remove Iraq as a campaign issue without flat-out admitting that they lost the war.
U.S. and Iraqi negotiators reached agreement on a security deal that calls for American military forces to leave Iraq's cities by next summer as a prelude to a full withdrawal of combat troops from the country, according to senior American officials.

The draft agreement sets 2011 as the goal date by which U.S. combat troops will leave Iraq, according to Iraqi Deputy Foreign Minister Mohammed al-Haj Humood and other people familiar with the matter. In the meantime, American troops will be leaving cities, towns and other population centers by the summer of 2009, living in bases outside of those areas, according to the draft.

...Bush is almost certain to accept the agreement, according to U.S. officials. The administration believes that the deal doesn't require congressional approval and won't present it to U.S. lawmakers.

The situation is more complicated in Iraq. The draft agreement must be approved by several layers of Iraqi political leaders. Several members of Mr. Maliki's cabinet have voiced opposition to elements of the deal. The Iraqi Parliament, which also has to sign off on the deal, is in recess until the beginning of September.

The security deal came together after the Bush administration made concessions on several long-held positions. The White House softened its stance over a pullout date after it became clear that Mr. Maliki was adamant that the agreement contain at least a vague timetable for a U.S. withdrawal.

The administration also dropped its insistence that American contractors remain immune from Iraqi law. Western contractors-- especially those working for Blackwater, which is under investigation for a deadly shooting last year -- are deeply unpopular in Iraq.

One of the last remaining roadblocks had been whether U.S. military personnel would enjoy immunity from prosecution under Iraqi law. Mr. Humood, Iraq's chief negotiator on the agreement, said joint committees of U.S. and Iraqi officials will be formed to resolve such issues when cases arise.

Gen. David Petraeus, the top American commander here, said in an interview that the U.S. already was focusing on turning control of the country over to Iraqis.

The problem for Petreus and his Republican masters is that they can't look like they're leaving while Iraq disintegrates into civil war... and that is not an unlikely scenario. "A key pillar of the U.S. strategy to pacify Iraq is in danger of collapsing because the Iraqi government is failing to absorb tens of thousands of former Sunni Muslim insurgents who'd joined U.S.-allied militia groups into the country's security forces."
American officials have credited the militias, known as the Sons of Iraq or Awakening councils, with undercutting support for the group al Qaida in Iraq and bringing peace to large swaths of the country, including Anbar province and parts of Baghdad. Under the program, the United States pays each militia member a stipend of about $300 a month and promised that they'd get jobs with the Iraqi government.

But the Iraqi government, which is led by Shiite Muslims, has brought only a relative handful of the more than 100,000 militia members into the security forces. Now officials are making it clear that they don't intend to include most of the rest.

"We cannot stand them, and we detained many of them recently," said one senior Iraqi commander in Baghdad, who spoke only on the condition of anonymity because he wasn't authorized to discuss the issue. "Many of them were part of al Qaida despite the fact that many of them are helping us to fight al Qaida."

He said the army was considering setting a Nov. 1 deadline for those militia members who hadn't been absorbed into the security forces or given civilian jobs to give up their weapons. After that, they'd be arrested, he said.

Some militia members say that such a move would force them into open warfare with the government again.

...The conflict over the militias underscores how little has changed in Iraq in the past year despite the drop in violence, which American politicians often attribute to the temporary increase of U.S. troops in Iraq that ended in July.

American military officials here have always said that the creation of the Sunni militias was at least as important to the precipitous drop in violence as the presence of 30,000 more U.S. troops, and that incorporating them into the security forces would go a long way toward bringing about the sort of reconciliation needed for long-term stability.

Kevin Drum takes a good look at the probable impact domestically and at the spin each campaign is likely to use. One thing is certain though; the war is viewed by most Americans as a mistake and it is another example of McCain's lifelong awful judgment. McCain is dazed, confused and out-of-touch. He doesn't even know how many homes he owns-- is it four? Seven? Ten? Thirteen? Do you count the million dollar parking lot he owns and call it fourteen? He can't be bothered to think about those kinds of questions (though Chris Cillizza explains why he'd better), not when he's trying to explain his latest flip flops, one on how he would promise to just be a one-term president and one on abortion. The abortion flip flop is actually serious because he has been trying to reassure women that although he opposes Roe v Wade, and will appoint judges to overturn it, he favors the right of abortion for rape, incest and to protect the life of mothers. He's had to promise his religionist fanatic supporters that he would back away from that-- and he has.

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At 2:29 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

the "issue of immunity for American troops from Iraqi prosecution

Immunity from prosecution seems to be a major obsession of this administration. I wonder why.

At 7:02 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

How odd, since McCain's answer, nor Obama's mention of it in Virginia, mention Cindy McCain at all. The person who brings Cindy McCain into it is (no surprise) the aforementioned McCain campaign official. McCain was asked about himself, answered about himself (after checking with his staff), and Obama commented on McCain's answer about McCain. To say Obama's charges "attack Cindy" is not only a reach, it's simply wrong.

- Jonathan Marc Sherman (aka Scott's little brother)
McCain's campaign official said that the decision to Go Rezko was Obama's.  "He's opened the door to this," the official said.

The ad will be released to network news divisions in time for their broadcasts tonight.

Though McCain is widely perceived to to drawn first blood by attacking Obama's character, the official said that the difference between Obama's mocking McCain for his wealth and his shaky answer on the number of homes he owns was that McCain's charge "reflects an existential reality," where Obama's charges "attack Cindy. She owns the homes. I thought he said the wives were off-limits."
“Somebody asked John McCain, 'how many houses do you have?' and he said, 'I'm not sure, I’ll have to check with my staff,'” said Obama at a Thursday morning campaign stop. “True quote! 'I'm not sure, I'll have to check with my staff.' So they asked his staff and he said, 'at least four.' 'At least four.'
“Now think about that — I guess if you think that being rich means you gotta make five million dollars, and if you don't know how many houses you have, then it's not surprising that you might think the economy is fundamentally strong,” he continued. “But if you're like me and you've got one house — or you were like the millions of people who are struggling right now to keep up with their mortgage so that they don't lose their home — you might have a different perspective. …


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