“The Enemy Has a Vote”
Tucked deep within the recesses of the New York Times today are a couple of opinions that one doesn’t get to hear too often from Americans involved in the Iraq effort. Commenting on President Obama’s withdrawal timetables…
Others, like Capt. Craig A. Giancaterino, the commander of the 287th Military Police Company from Fort Riley, Kan., said they were concerned that a deadline for withdrawal was a horizon for the insurgency, too.These points are theoretically compelling, but practically invalid at this point. The war is over. The insurgency is dead. The insurgents and militias won’t come back to life. And U.S. troops will have to leave far ahead of Obama’s stated schedule.
“It’s our own worst enemy,” he said. “You’re setting a target for the enemy to wait us out.”
Col. Burt K. Thompson, the commander of the First Stryker Combat Brigade, said more than once in an interview in his headquarters that “the enemy has a vote,” suggesting that even the president could be forced to adapt his well-laid plans.
“I don’t think the war is over,” he said. “We’ve thwarted the main objective of the insurgency, but the enemy has a vote, and the moment you let your guard down, something bad will happen.”
The SOFA referendum won’t pass. It will likely undergo the same mechanism by which the referendum on the constitution (2005) was conducted: it SOFA is rejected (over 50 percent) by three provinces, then it is rendered null. This is a very likely possibility, and it shall be very difficult to any political party, even ones in the ascendancy such as Maliki’s, to make the case to the public to vote for SOFA. Amendments to SOFA, or a whole new SOFA will likewise be very difficult to pull off, both politically and legislatively.
Which means that in one year’s time after the date of the referendum (…likely to be around the end of the summer), all U.S. troops, combat or otherwise, would have to depart Iraqi soil.
As most of you know, I support this eventuality. Though I am extremely grateful for all that America has done for Iraq, I do believe that it is in Iraq’s strategic interest to watch the Americans leave, not only to speed up internal political maturation (…the anomalous situation of the State Department and the CIA meddling in the minutia of Iraqi politics will have to diminish) but also to allow Iraq free reign to project its newfound strength across the region, sometimes in direct opposition to U.S. interests (…such as the stability of the Saudi regime).
Related to the points made above by those U.S. officers, here’s what I wrote recently about the al-Daini affair for Hudson-NY. The last paragraph reads:
A war came and went without Americans even having much clarity as to who the enemy was. Well, men like Daini were the enemy. And some Americans colluded with him. In another time, this would have been called treason. But in our ethically-lapsed times, such collusion is called activism.The added bonus of American withdrawal is that it leaves the Obamists with less leeway to shape the future political trajectory of Iraq. That is, an early withdrawal puts some distance between Baghdad and the fools in DC who’d championed Daini, and some of whom have suddenly become influential in informing the new administration’s policies for the Middle East region.