Iraq has taken a backseat to the economy lately. According to the polls, the economy and jobs are the top issues concerning voters, with Iraq trailing far behind. However, we are still in the midst of two wars, and it's important that we don't forget that, because the next president won't be able to. Today, I read an AFP article about the Status of Forces Agreement that has not yet been signed by the Iraqi government. What was interesting about this situation is that the Iraqi government feels bullied by the U.S. The Iraqis want to make up their own minds in their own time about what provisions should be contained in the agreement.
Senior Shiite lawmaker Abbas al-Bayati said: "[U.S. military chief Michael] Mullen's remark is an attempt to pressure the Iraqi side, but we will not be subjected to such tactics because our reservations are linked to the sovereignty and national interest of Iraq. The American side should be more flexible because if they really want to pass this agreement, they should first stop launching such warnings which provoke Iraqis."
The U.S. is worried because if the agreement isn't signed by December 31, 2008, U.S. military forces will no longer have the authority to stay in Iraq. Yet, Iraqi government officials don't seem too worried.
"Iraqi military spokesman Brigadier General Qassim Atta also insisted that domestic forces were ready to handle security nationwide, saying their numbers have increased and their ability has improved."
The Iraqi government is worried, however, that this agreement will somehow lead to a long-term U.S. military presence. Funny how McCain and Palin talk about victory in Iraq, how they will WIN the war, and yet, it seems as if Iraqis could care less if we're there. If they don't want us and feel they are ready to take over their own security, more power to them. Wouldn't having the Iraqis take over their own country and allowing U.S. troops to come home be a "win"? Oh right, I forgot that as soon as we leave, Iraq will become a haven for terrorists. Hmm, well that Status of Forces Agreement, if signed, only gives the U.S. military permission to stay in Iraq until 2011. Golly gee, what if we haven't eradicated all terrorists by then? I suppose we could stay there indefinitely, spending billions and losing even more American lives. Sounds like a win-win to me.
Except al Qaeda seems quite pleased with the way things are going. In fact, they are so pleased, they hope Sen. John McCain gets elected because he will continue President Bush's policies in Iraq, further crippling the U.S. economy. So in essence, we may be playing right into their hands. As long as we want to stay in Iraq, they will be happy to "accommodate" us.
Mullen said we need to stay in Iraq because they will not be ready to provide for their own security when the agreement expires at the end of this year. Who decides that? Iraq's military spokesman said Iraqi forces are ready to take over. When do we trust the Iraqis to take over their own country? Again, it leads to a scenario where we will be there indefinitely.
At some point, the U.S. will have to trust the Iraqi government and military to take care of itself. And no doubt there will still be terrorists in existence either in Iraq or elsewhere in the Middle East, just like there have been for decades before this. If the Iraqis aren't ready after five years, they never will be. And that is not good news for the U.S. -- not for our troops and their families, not for our economy.