The Bush Administration has proclaimed so many fake milestones and signs of “progress” in Iraq that (according to Patrick Cockburn in the London Review of Books) a genuine milestone has gone by almost unnoticed. The Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA for short) between the U.S. and Iraqi governments immediately curtails U.S. military and mercenary autonomy in Iraq, forbids permanent U.S. military bases, and sets a timetable for withdrawal, with the last U.S. soldier to leave in 2011.
Approved November 27 by Iraq’s Parliament, the final version of SOFA is a far cry from the initial U.S. proposal back in March, which would have established an indefinite U.S. military presence on Iraqi soil. Like the British occupation of Iraq between the world wars, a U.S. occupation would have made a mockery of Iraqi sovereignty. Over eight months of negotiations, the Iraqis essentially dug in their heels and wore down the American side.
Since Cockburn’s report appeared, there have been signs in the news that U.S. military leaders do not intend to hold up their side of the bargain. Radio Free Europe, a U.S. government organ, is busy portraying the post-SOFA environment in Iraq as a “legal maze” for well-intentioned American professionals dealing with supposedly inadequate Iraqis.
This issue will continue to be important, without generating major headlines, for at least the first half of 2009. Many of the president-elect’s fellow Democrats have never been interested in ending the Iraq war. They just believe they can do a better job of running it.
- Status of Forces Agreement (PDF) published at whitehouse.gov