Is a Longterm U. S. Military Commitment to Iraq Politically Viable? (Updated)

The Iraqi national government is seeking a longterm military commitment from the United States:

BAGHDAD – Iraq’s government, seeking protection against foreign threats and internal coups, will offer the U.S. a long-term troop presence in Iraq in return for U.S. security guarantees as part of a strategic partnership, two Iraqi officials said Monday

The proposal, described to The Associated Press by two senior Iraqi officials familiar with the issue, is one of the first indications that the United States and Iraq are beginning to explore what their relationship might look like once the U.S. significantly draws down its troop presence.

In Washington, President Bush’s adviser on the Iraqi war, Lt. Gen. Douglas Lute, confirmed the proposal, calling it “a set of principles from which to begin formal negotiations.”

As part of the package, the Iraqis want an end to the current U.N.-mandated multinational forces mission, and also an end to all U.N.-ordered restrictions on Iraq’s sovereignty.

That will certainly provide sustenance to those who’ve been calling the present Iraqi national government a “puppet government” but I honestly don’t think that’s correct. I think that this represents the next, obvious, and inevitable step in a process that began in March of 2003 with the U. S. invasion of Iraq that removed the government of Saddam Hussein.

Pulling out my crystal ball, here’s what I see happening over the next several months. I think that the U. S. will begin to remove the forces that comprised the troop increase component of “the Surge” this spring sometime and that we’ll draw our forces down over the next several months to a year to something like 80,000. And there our troop commitment will stay. Note that no first-tier presidential aspirant, Democratic or Republican, is proposing anything inconsistent with that. And I don’t think they know what else to do. This, along with the major bases in Qatar, Bahrain, and Kuwait means that the U. S. engagement with the Middle East is greater than ever before and will remain so for the foreseeable future.

By most accounts opposition to “the war in Iraq”, by which is generally meant U. S. troops in Iraq rather than any notion of actually ending the war in Iraq, is the policy favored by a majority of the American people. I don’t think they’ll get their wish regardless of the outcome of the 2008 election. How this can be accomplished without a major sales job on the part of the victor is beyond me.


The White House statement on the communication is here.

7 comments… add one
  • PD Shaw Link

    I think that’s a fair prediction, but I suspect that there might be more pressure on this arrangement from the Iraqi side.

    As a side issue, I tried to figure out a few months ago if there were still American troops in Saudi Arabia. The U.S. military websites and Strategy Page seemed to indicate one or two bases were closed, but I was unable to resolve whether all of the U.S. military missions in the Kingdom had been withdrawn — I suspect not. I think most Americans want U.S. troops out of both Saudi Arabia and Iraq (and probably dozens of other countries one could mention); I think they would be satisfied simply not knowing.

  • According to GlobalSecurity there are about 500 U. S. troops left in the KSA.

  • PD Shaw Link

    Thanks Dave, I should outsource my research to you more often. It’s a matter of some personal interest, as my father-in-law was deployed to the KSA in the 50’s.

  • Larry Link

    The Real Iraq We Knew
    By 12 former Army captains
    Tuesday, October 16, 2007; 12:00 AM
    There is one way we might be able to succeed in Iraq. To continue an operation of this intensity and duration, we would have to abandon our volunteer military for compulsory service. Short of that, our best option is to leave Iraq immediately. A scaled withdrawal will not prevent a civil war, and it will spend more blood and treasure on a losing proposition.

    America, it has been five years. It’s time to make a choice.

    This column was written by 12 former Army captains:

  • complicated stuff..

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