Friday, November 07, 2008

It's a treaty, someone tell the administration

The United States delivered Thursday what it said was the final text of the controversial accord on the stationing of U.S. forces in Iraq, but Iraq said more talks are needed before the government can accept it.
"We have gotten back to the Iraqi government with a final text. Through this step, we have concluded the process on the U.S. side," said Susan Ziadeh, the U.S. Embassy spokeswoman in Baghdad. "Iraq will now need to take it forward through their own process."
The accord, which calls for complete withdrawal of U.S. forces by the end of 2011, has been the subject of tense negotiations for the past seven months.
According to State Department officials, the United States yielded to several important Iraqi demands, including Baghdad's proposal to inspect mail and cargo for U.S. forces in Iraq. One official said he did not know the details of how those inspections would be carried out, adding, "I don't think it's going to be overly intrusive."

The above is from Leila Fadel, Nancy A. Youssef and Warren P. Strobel's "Iraqis seek more 'withdrawal' talks; U.S. says they're over" (McClatchy Newspapers) on the treaty masquerading as a Status Of Forces Agreement and, to be clear for those who've been sleeping, when withdrawal is included, it's a treaty. Someone in the administration forgot their military history. That means it will require Senate approval (unless the Senate caves) and there's no dancing around that. A SOFA does not address withdrawal or ending occupations. On the treaty, Ernesto Londono, Mary Beth Sheridan and Karen DeYoung offer "Iraq Repeats Insistence on Fixed Withdrawal Date" (Washington Post):

Iraqi leaders have typically voiced their insistence on a fixed withdrawal date in Arabic comments aimed at domestic and regional audiences, and U.S. officials have frequently said that their Iraqi counterparts have sounded more conciliatory in private discussions. Dabbagh spoke directly to The Washington Post on Thursday, and in English.
Dabbagh said officials must return to the negotiating table, but a U.S. Embassy spokeswoman said American officials presented Iraqi officials on Thursday with what she called a "final text" of the agreement.
U.S. officials in Washington said they had tried in the new document to accommodate Iraqi concerns, although they described few if any substantive changes. The administration proposed a stronger statement pledging that the United States would not launch attacks on another country from Iraqi soil -- a change prompted by Iraqi criticism of last month's attack by helicopter-borne U.S. troops on an alleged al-Qaeda in Iraq operative several miles inside Syria.

To the topic, Daniel Williams (Bloomberg News) adds:

In an interview, Captain William Murphy, a U.S. team leader for civil affairs, said that if Dec. 31 passes without an agreement, U.S. forces would withdraw into their bases and stop patrols, raids and other work until they leave the country.
The Bush administration and Iraq have been negotiating an agreement since March. With the Nov. 4 election of Illinois Senator Barack Obama to succeed George W. Bush as president, the Iraqi government has sent mixed signals about the chances of concluding an agreement before Dec. 31. During the election campaign, Obama indicated he would withdraw U.S. troops within 16 months of taking office.
Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari told the satellite television network Al-Jazeera his government intended to conclude an accord with ``the current administration.'' Mouafaq Al-Rubaie, al-Maliki's national security advisor, told Al- Arabiya, another Arabic language satellite news channel, that it might be better to wait for the new president. ``We think 16 months is good,'' he said.

But AFP reports resistance to the treaty from within Iraq:

"Every Iraqi should read this agreement and decide for himself whether he agrees or disagrees with it," Sheikh Sattar al-Batat, a follower of anti-American cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, said in the crowded slum of Sadr City.
"Will they agree to the complete immunity for American soldiers to do whatever they wish without accountability, or to use Iraq to strike the neighbours of Iraq?" he told tens of thousands of worshippers.
"No one in his right mind can accept this agreement, so how can we?"

In the New York Times, Alissa J. Rubin's "Obama Victory Alters the Tenor of Iraqi Politics" notes another resistance factor:

Sunni parties are particularly nervous about the pact because in the past couple of years Americans have often been their protectors in sectarian fighting, and the withdrawal could leave Sunnis vulnerable to Shiite forces.

Mia asked for this to be noted from Joshua Frank's "A Look Under the Hood of the (Potential) Obama Administration" (Dissident Voice):

Another potential pick for the post is Robert Rubin, who served under Clinton in the same position and is currently Director and Senior Counselor of Citigroup. Rubin played a key role in abetting another neoliberal objective: deregulation. Where Volker was hung up on economic austerity, Rubin pushed for more deregulatory policies that ended up shifting jobs, and entire industries, overseas.
Rubin even pushed for Clinton's dismantling of Glass-Steagall, testifying that deregulating the banking industry would be good for capital gains, as well as Main Street. "[The] banking industry is fundamentally different from what it was two decades ago, let alone in 1933," Rubin testified before the House Committee on Banking and Financial Services in May of 1995.
"[Glass-Steagall could] conceivably impede safety and soundness by limiting revenue diversification," Rubin argued.
While the industry saw much deregulation over the years preceding these events, the Gramm-Leach-Biley Act of 1999, which eliminated Glass-Steagall, extended and ratified changes that had been enacted with previous legislation. Ultimately, the repeal of the New Deal era protection allowed commercial lenders like Rubin's Citigroup to underwrite and trade instruments like mortgage backed securities along with collateralized debt and established structured investment vehicles (SIVs), which purchased these securities. In short, as the lines were blurred among investment banks, commercial banks and insurance companies, when one industry fell, others could too.
Robert Rubin is in part responsible for supporting the policies that pushed us to the brink of a great recession. When the subprime mortgage crisis hit, instability and collapse spread across numerous industries.

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 mary beth sheridan
 ernesto londono