Wednesday, November 26, 2008

The "center-left" and the Iraq-agreement scam

Wednesday, November 26

McClatchy:

WASHINGTON — The Bush administration has adopted a much looser interpretation than the Iraqi government of several key provisions of the pending U.S.-Iraq security agreement, U.S. officials said Tuesday — just hours before the Iraqi parliament was to hold its historic vote.

These include a provision that bans the launch of attacks on other countries from Iraq, a requirement to notify the Iraqis in advance of U.S. military operations and the question of Iraqi legal jurisdiction over American troops and military contractors.

Officials in Washington said the administration has withheld the official English translation of the agreement in an effort to suppress a public dispute with the Iraqis until after the Iraqi parliament votes.

"There are a number of areas in here where they have agreement on the same wording but different understandings about what the words mean," said a U.S. official who requested anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media.

That's pretty clear: "Officials in Washington said the administration has withheld the oficial English translation of the agreement in an effort to suppress a public dispute with the Iraqis until after the Iraqi parliament votes." I, the military occupying authority, sign an agreement with you the occupied country, and I wait until after you have signed it to tell your people, or my people, what I think it means. Nice.

This was not only so as to not let the Iraqis know what the American interpretation is going to be, it was also to block discussion in America.

A U.S. official, however, said the aim was also to head off any debate in the U.S. media. The administration fears that any discussion "may inadvertently throw this thing of the rails," said the official, who couldn't be named because he wasn't authorized to speak to reporters.
Here are three of the points on which the American interpretation is going to be something of a surprise:

Among the areas of dispute are:

  • Iraqi legal jurisdiction over U.S. troops or military contractors who kill Iraqis on operations. The agreement calls for Iraq to prosecute U.S. troops according to court procedures that have yet to be worked out. Those negotiations, administration officials have argued, could take three years, by which time the U.S. will have withdrawn from Iraq under the terms of the agreement. In the interim, U.S. troops will remain under the jurisdiction of America's Uniform Code of Military Justice.
  • A provision that bars the U.S. from launching military operations into neighboring countries from Iraqi territory. Administration officials argue they could circumvent that in some cases, such as pursuing groups that launch strikes on U.S. targets from Syria or Iran, by citing another provision that allows each party to retain the right of self-defense. One official expressed concern that "if Iran gets wind that we think there's a loophole there," Tehran might renew its opposition to the agreement.
  • A provision that appears to require the U.S. to notify Iraqi officials in advance of any planned military operations and to seek Iraqi approval for them, which some U.S. military officials find especially troubling, although Robert Gates, the secretary of defense, Army Gen. David Petraeus, the head of the U.S. Central Command, and Army Gen. Raymond Odierno, the top U.S. commander in Iraq, all have endorsed it.

"Telling the Iraqis in advance would be an invitation to an ambush," said one U.S. official, who said the Iraqi government and security forces are "thoroughly penetrated by the insurgents, the Iranians, the Sadrists (followers of anti-American Shiite cleric Moqtada al Sadr) and ordinary folks who just sell scraps of intelligence."

The administration has sought to assuage such concerns by arguing that the pact doesn't require the U.S. to give the Iraqis detailed information about planned operations, two officials said. For example, they said, the administration interprets the agreement to mean that U.S. commanders would merely need to inform their Iraqi counterparts that they plan to launch counterterrorism operations somewhere in an Iraqi city or province sometime during the month of January.

In plain language: (1) You can have some criminal jurisdiction under a scheme that will to be determined in discussions that will be dragged out over the coming three years, during which time we will continue to have jurisdiction. (2) We won't use your territory to attack any other state, but we can invade another state if it is hot pursuit or legitimate self-defence. (3) We will inform you of our military operations, but in terms so vague the information will be meaningless to you.

Michael O'Hanlon of Brookings says he and others have been aware of this issue of opposite interpretations (and obviously keeping their mouths shut about it). McClatchy puts it this way:

Specialists who follow the Iraq war said they were aware of the differing interpretations. Michael O'Hanlon, of the Brookings Institution, a center-left research group in Washington, said there are "these areas that are not as clear cut as the Iraqis would like to think." He said the two governments "have agreed to punt together on a number of important issues."
"The two governments", perhaps. But not the people in either case. Not the American people, who think this is something to be supported based on the suppression of information about their own government's interpretation of it; and certainly not the Iraqi people, to whom those three points would be anathema.

Marc Lynch, in defence of the government's duplicity and the silence of himself and others, says: "important part here isn't witholding of text - it's the clearly divergent interpretations of key passages intentionally left vague." Slippery, that Marc. What McClatchy is telling us is that the withholding of the text was precisely to suppress that discussion about "divergent interpretations". A topic that McClatchy tells us "specialists who follow the Iraq war" have said they were aware of, but who kept their months shut. And now we know the reason why. It was ultimately to prevent Iraqis and Americans alike from knowing what is being done in their name.

The vote scheduled for today (Wednesday) has been postponed until tomorrow at the earliest. The Iraqi political parties are working on a "charter for political reform" and perhaps a proposal for a referendum six months after parliamentary approval, both ideas no doubt aimed mainly at giving the Sunni parties cover for a yes vote.

9 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

"This [the suppression of the official English translation to the agreement] was not only so as to not let the Iraqis know what the American interpretation is going to be, it was also to block discussion in America."

Of course, we're in the Orwellian world (in the U.S. anyhow) in which knowledge is dangerous, and to be suppressed for the sake of the Greater Purpose of the GWOT and all that stands for.

Perhaps what we're seeing, in terms of this U.S. attitude that knowledge is to be kept out of the public domain so as to be able to prolong the occupation in Iraq, is typical of most wars of occupation, especially those unpopular ones, like in Vietnam, Afghanistan for the U.S.S.R., Algeria for France, etc., in all of which there was a lot of propaganda, suppression of information to the media, etc.

As if it wasn't obvious already, the mainstream news media in the U.S. are not nearly as independent as we seem to believe, but rather (often) tools or organs for the government to achieve its unpopular policies.

12:03 PM  
Blogger rmwarnick said...

This reported duplicity completely justifies Iraqi skepticism of the Bush administration's willingness to honor a treaty, a suspicion that extended to McCain as well.

It was reported that only the U.S. presidential election convinced a majority of the Iraqi parliament it was worth ratifying what could turn out to be a worthless piece of paper.

The idea of a July referendum, with the possibly of rejection and re-negotiation, looks better all the time.

1:33 PM  
Anonymous Ken Hoop said...

If the Iraqi government is chock full of "anti-Americans" who would betray another US interventionist attack to an "enemy" of (the Empire), what hope is there that another three years of occupation is going to transform Iraq's government into a submissive, pro-Israel puppet state of (the Empire.)

OUT NOW! Mission failed.

5:21 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Iraqis are fully aware of the intentional vagueness in the text. It may surprise the Americans that the Iraqis have their own legal and lingual experts, but their reply to the "final" draft raised 110 points. The US did agree to many of them but still left some because they can't help it!

The judgement was that the key issues, in particular the unconditional timetable and the Iraqi's right to terminate at a year's notice are fulfilled.

Using Iraqi soil to attack Iran is not that important. Better options exist like using the US fleet in the Gulf or the Arabian Sea. Syria can also be attacked from the sea, Israel, Turkey; Jordan, and Lebanon.

Needing Iraq's permission to launch attacks is clearly stated, and if the American's ignored it they will get told to leave the country which is the final weapon in all cases.

Why would the officials mention this to McClatchy before the vote (which has now approved the agreement by a big majority BTW)anyway? Are they trying to sabotage the US scheme, or is it just to put a brave face on a humiliating climb down?

9:08 AM  
Blogger badger said...

Fascinating. Since you seem to have some inside knowledge of this process, could you possibly tell us a little more about the list of 110 points, and the reply? Just for the history books. As a special favor, could you tell us what kind of discussions were held on the question of who will pay for the coming American activities? That seems to be another "ambiguous" point that hasn't been publicly raised (except for the first time in AlHayat this morning I guess).

Just as an aside, when you refer to the Iraqi GZ counterparties as "the Iraqis" you are giving away your insider status. For the rest of us"the Iraqis" are the people who live in Iraq, and they, like the Americans, were told nothing about any of these points. Which was the whole point, wasn't it--why else would you suspect the officials who talked to McClatchy of disloyalty?

9:43 AM  
Anonymous Seth said...

"The Iraqis are fully aware of the intentional vagueness in the text. It may surprise the Americans that the Iraqis have their own legal and lingual experts, but their reply to the "final" draft raised 110 points."

Yeah, Badger, I think you're right about this use of "the Iraqis".

I mean, speaking personally, not only would it surprise me if the Iraqis had their own legal and lingual experts, it would positively astound me, seeing as how many of them don't have sufficient electricity, have problems with cholera and sewage and garbage-collection (and so on). Yeah, so by "The Iraqis," you mean a clique in Baghdad which keeps information from its own people and doesn't let them (the common Iraqi) have the text of the agreement when their government is voting on it. Likewise, "The Americans" are also another clique which prevents their own public from accessing an English translation of the agreement.

In both cases, the governments are not representing the people they govern, simply because the public is denied crucial information. So it does make one raise the question of a comment like yours, whether you in fact are a part of this unrepresentative American government, or employed in servicing it directly.

9:59 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

So it does make one raise the question of a comment like yours, whether you in fact are a part of this unrepresentative American government, or employed in servicing it directly.

what do you mean by 'it'? what makes one raise the question? so far i am not seeing badger raise any issues not in the press available to any of us, as opposed to your claims.

Yeah, so by "The Iraqis," you mean a clique in Baghdad which keeps information from its own people

i believe he meant by your use of the term "The Iraqis," you mean a clique in Baghdad which keeps information from its own people.


could you possibly tell us a little more about the list of 110 points, and the reply?

i am curious also, by all means let us know these points.


I mean, speaking personally, not only would it surprise me if the Iraqis had their own legal and lingual experts, it would positively astound me, seeing as how many of them don't have sufficient electricity, have problems with cholera and sewage and garbage-collection (and so on)

don't you mean seeing as how after the invasion we killed off or drove the professional class out of the country?

seth, exactly what did you say in your comment besides reiterating badgers questions and them claiming those questions imply he works for the government?

IOW, if you question the government, you work for it. that is all you said. how does 'one raise the question'..and what 'unrepresentative American government' are you referring to? tha american government IS represented (at least the executive branch, the legislature has been left out), the american people are not. and the iraqi people?

11:33 AM  
Blogger badger said...

anon, you and Seth are in agreement. In the part you bolded, Seth was obviously referring to the guy with the 110 points and the insider knowledge, not to me. Re-read it and you'll see.

11:53 AM  
Anonymous Ken Hoop said...

The inquired of commentor might also be suspected for using the phrase "big majority" without noting the 30-40% Iraqi parliament members who absented themselves from the vote, some say so as not to be complicit in the affirmation.

11:31 AM  

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