Self Determination and Dice Rolling

Monday, October 24, 2011
So the Republican candidates are once again frothing at the mouth, this time because the President has decided to entirely withdraw American troops from Iraq by December 31, 2011. Michele Bachmann is up in arms because she feels that America is being disrespected by the Iraqi people. Rick Santorum feels that we've "lost control" of Iraq. Herman Cain thinks it's going to "leave a vacuum." And all of them are (of course!) blaming the President for his "foreign policy failure."

Here's the thing. No responsible Commander in Chief is going to leave American troops in a foreign country without a Status of Forces Agreement. To do so would leave our men and women in uniform entirely vulnerable to the whims of whoever wanted to incarcerate or punish them as they saw fit. And our SOFA with Iraq expires on (surprise!) December 31, 2011. The Iraqi government has chosen not to enter into an acceptable agreement with the United States beyond that date, and by that legal act, has essentially told us to pack our shit and go home.

And they absolutely have the right to do so.

The bottom line is that Iraq is a sovereign nation, with the right of self determination in matters that pertain to their security and governance. If they choose to move forward without the help of the American military, then it's not really up to us to force the issue. Because doing so, you see, is called "Imperialism."

Which is not to say that the Administration should disengage. The region is still volatile, and it's in our interest to maintain relationships. But it's not in our interest to have a childish snit and demand that the Iraqi people reimburse us for the cost of our occupation (Bachmann's brilliant plan). They didn't ask us to come in and "liberate" them and poke the pooch so thoroughly on Day 2. As usual, the Republicans are allowing their hubris and exceptionalism to cloud the larger issue. Because that's worked out so WELL for the United States in the last ten years, don't you know.

The problem with liberating a people and allowing them to make their own decisions in a democratic fashion is that they may in fact choose to act against your interests in favor of their own. You rolls the dice, you takes your chances.

9 comments:

filelalaine said...

Well put.

Thordr said...

"childish snit" what a perfect description.

Steve Buchheit said...

At this point President Obama could transmute water into wine and the conservative presidential candidates would complain about the vintage. Or that since it's red wine, Michelle Bachmann would get a headache from the tannins.

Anne C. said...

Amen, Steve...

"President Obama is trying to turn us all into alcoholics! What a terrible thing for our children! It's part of his evil scheme to take over the USA and turn it into a police state! There'll be the police and the stumbling drunks, and that's it!"

mom in northern said...

You nailed it my dear...

beatrice in Paris said...

This may be beside the point, but who in Iraq is saying that we should get the hell out? Are we telling the Iraqis to tell us that?

Just a few days ago, the Iraqis said they couldn't control their own airspace.

(Not that I ever supported our invasion, especially in the way it was done)
As for US domestic politics, sometimes it's good to be far away!

Janiece said...

Beatrice, the Iraqi government will not agree to an acceptable Status of Forces Agreement. This is a non-negotiable item in allowing our troops to remain, and the Iraqi government knows it.

So if they refuse to sign the new agreement, then they are effectively telling us to get the hell out. But by doing it this way instead of giving us an explicit directive, they hope to deflect the blame when things go wrong. i.e., "Now Iran has infiltrated our airspace, but it's not our fault! We wanted the U.S. to stay, but they wouldn't!" Like any responsible CINC would put members of our armed forces under Shari'a law.

beatrice in Paris said...

I agree, they are telling us to leave, and we should given the conditions.
But why now, and not two years ago? Who is pulling the strings on the Iraqi side?

Janiece said...

Hm. Good question...