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March 17, 2010

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“The sun rises in the east,” a Western official said on the condition of anonymity, under the usual diplomatic protocol.

via IOZ

These decisions are not ours alone to make. We can no longer simply dictate terms - to the extent we ever could.

A large segment of Iraq's population wants us out of Iraq ASAP, and other factions will only tolerate our presence based on strict guidelines and parameters. We can't just pretend these Iraqis don't exist and that they don't have a vote

Uh, yes we can, don't you think?

Well, we can pretend, but reality won't be kind to us.

i'd say we can keep pretending for another decade or so.

what are they gonna do, start shooting at us ?

Heck, we tried to "pretend" that we could appoint Chalabi Pres of the New Iraq. That didn't go over too well with the Iraqi people (Shiites and Kurds who were our "allies" while the Sunnis were largely fighting us).

Then we tried to delay elections until after an extended period of Paul Bremer "Viceroyship" to which, Sistani responded with a "beard full of hell no" to quote my friend Swopa.

Sistani demanded elections, and how those elections would be held, and we obeyed.

If we crossed Sistani, game over. He knew it, knows it now and so did we and do we.

Well, we can pretend, but reality won't be kind to us.

It will be less kind to us, but I think I agree with cleek, we can pretend for at least another 10 years, if not 20, if not indefinitely. In fact that is the likely course, IMHO. If domestic politics will allow us to get out, we likely will, if they don't, we won't, Iraqi opinion will generally be irrelevant except to the extent it exerts any kind of pressure on domestic politics.

Actually, that's probably true of all things in US foreign policy, now that I think about it.

Iraqi opinion will generally be irrelevant except to the extent it exerts any kind of pressure on domestic politics.

Well, yeah. But the point is, Iraqi "opinion" is often expressed in ways that affect domestic politics. See, ie, the insurgencies and the effects on the popularity of the war.

If we cross Sistani, and the Shiites start fighting us (again at least for JAM), that would create a lot of pressure.

If we cross Sistani, and the Shiites start fighting us (again at least for JAM), that would create a lot of pressure.

just going over some of the talking points we've already seen:

they fight us because they hate democracy.

if they fight, it means our job isn't done.

we will leave when things are stable.

these factions are fighting for control of the country and we can't leave them in the middle of a civil war.

the fighters are linked to al-Q.

etc..


no, i think we'll leave as soon as the American hawks decide they've had enough. and not a second before that.

(though i'd love to be proved wrong!)

just going over some of the talking points we've already seen

Yeah, and piss-all that did in terms of shoring up domestic support for the war/occupation. Americans want out. They are tolerating the current denouement because there is only low level anti-US violence. If US soldiers start dying by a count of a couple a day again, and costs start soaring through the roof again, there will be a lot of domestic pressure to get out - pronto. Hawks be damned.

Same reason we haven't attacked Iran yet despite the fact that the Hawks are clamoring for it: there are actual limitations on our armed forces and domestic will - and those limitations matter.

i think we'll leave as soon as the American hawks decide they've had enough.

But the SOFA was most definitely NOT what the hawks wanted - and they yelped and hollered, but there was little they could do. Ditto the current timeline for withdrawing the first 50,000 troops. Reports are that withdrawal is on sked, but the hawks are yelping again (everyone from Tom Ricks to the Weekly Standard - yet no change).

Reports are that withdrawal is on sked,

i hear that too. and every time i hear it, it's with the qualifier "barring any new outbreaks of violence." i think that bar is probably pretty low.

and even if the current withdrawal goes through, it's still a partial withdrawal. even if we only have 45,000 troops there, we're still there in a big way.

i'll believe we're out as soon as we're out. frankly, i'll be (pleasantly) surprised if that happens in the next decade.

no, i've never won an award for optimism. :)

and even if the current withdrawal goes through, it's still a partial withdrawal

According to the schedule set forth in the SOFA. It would be highly irregular if we pulled out more troops faster than that. Even the wildest "optimist" would not expect that.

The remainder of the troops are to be pulled out at a later date, as per the SOFA.

What I expect is about 5-10K troops thereafter under a new agreement. But only if the Iraqis want us there - which they just might as trainers/advisors (it will be our military equipment after all).

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