Saturday, November 22, 2008

The One About That One Year Treaty . . .

Earlier this week, I went to a sort of news conference at the new U.S. Embassy in Baghdad. For those back in the San Joaquin Valley, it looks a little like a fortified UC Merced with big, government buildings surrounded by blast walls and armed guards. (No photos allowed.)
Two senior U.S. government officials gave their take on the security pact approved by Iraq's Cabinet and setting a course for the withdrawal of U.S. forces by Dec. 31, 2011. A second, related agreement defines Iraqi and American interactions on a slate of issues, such as trade, technology and health care. It's up to Iraq's parliament to decide whether to accept it.
One of the officials said Americans would have no legal justification to be in the country past that date, meaning the pact would have to be renegotiated for foreign soldiers and contractors to stay.
"Its validity ends unless there is an extension," one of the officials said.

The above is from Adam Ashton's "Plans in Iraq call for flexibility" (The Modesto Bee) and, repeating, it is a one year contract with two pick-up options. But it's interesting that US officials declare to the press that the "validity" of the treaty "ends unless there is an extension" which, anyone with a slight grasp of the language grasps is not "And all the troops came home in 2011 and they all lived happily ever after." But we hear about that in The Modesto Bee and not via McClatchy (whom Ashton's been filing for).

The treaty is not and has never been about withdrawal. If it were, there would not be an effort to push the Congress to demand transparency. If the treaty actually dealt with withdrawal the US Congress would have to be involved because there would be no way for the treaty to be passed off as anything other than a treaty -- one requiring Congressional approval.

The treaty maintains the US presence in Iraq. That is why it is sought, that is why it was created. The UN mandate expires Dec. 31st. US troops cannot remain in Iraq without some legal framework (either a new agreement or a renewal of the mandate). Somehow the press has decided to sell the treaty as a promising withdrawal when it does no such thing. It outlines what will happen for one year -- 2009. After 2009, either party can cancel. That's not a three year treaty. It's a one year treaty with the option to exercise a renewal twice. Or the option not to exercise that renewal.

And when the US officials are explaining what could happen next and it involves "an extension," you'd think the press would front page that with banner headlines. But they're far too busy waving pom-poms in the air to do the jobs they were allegedly trained in.

The following community sites have updated since Friday morning:

Rebecca's Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude;
Betty's Thomas Friedman Is a Great Man;
Cedric's Cedric's Big Mix;
Kat's Kat's Korner;
Mike's Mikey Likes It!;
Elaine's Like Maria Said Paz;
Wally's The Daily Jot;
Trina's Trina's Kitchen;
Ruth's Ruth's Report;
and Stan's Oh Boy It Never Ends

For those who read the print copy of the New York Times, turn to C2 where the real news is. Yeah, 200,000 lost. The e-mail address for this site is

adam ashton

thomas friedman is a great man

oh boy it never ends