Tuesday, November 27, 2007

I Guess I'm the Gullible One

At the same time the Saudis and Arabs were stupidly assuming that the United States would both publicly present a specific proposal to settle the refugee and other issues ...

Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal said that in inviting his country to the Annapolis conference Washington promised to "use its full influence" to ultimately bring about a peace agreement. He said that meant if the two sides could not agree, "we assume the United States will come up with its own ideas."

and also assuming that the United States would hold Israel to a one year deadline ...

Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal said ahead of his participation in a Middle East peace summit on Tuesday that the United States had promised that negotiations would be concluded within a year.

even though the United States has never said it would do either,

Here I am believing that Maliki had agreed to a long term presence of 50,000 US troops and a favored investment status for US companies, just because I read that in AP ...

Two senior Iraqi officials familiar with the issue say Iraq's government will embrace a long-term U.S. troop presence in return for U.S. security guarantees as part of a strategic partnership. The two officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the subject is sensitive, said U.S. military and diplomatic representatives appeared generally favorable, subject to negotiations on the details, which include preferential treatment for American investments

AFP ...

US President George W. Bush and Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri Al-Maliki vowed Monday to agree next year on the terms for what could be an open-ended US military presence in the war-torn country.

Guardian ...

Iraq's government is preparing to grant the US a long-term troop presence in the country and preferential treatment for American investors in return for a guarantee on long-term security, it emerged today.

Iraqi officials said that, under the proposed formula, Iraq would get full responsibility for internal security and American troops would relocate to bases outside cities. The proposals foresee a long-term presence of about 50,000 US troops, down from the current figure of more than 160,000.

And many other news sources that have since updated their stories.

Well, the White House released the text of the agreement. Most likely not because of the spirit of openness that permeates the administration, but because they were instructed to by the Iraqis. No 50,000 troops. No long term or permanent bases. No favored investment status. Only vague statements that the US would help Iraq's defense and investment environment.

Instead there are two specific commitments, both made by the US in favor of Iraq. The 2008 UN mandate extension will be the last and Iraq will be released from Chapter VII sanctions and restored to full sovereignty as before the invasion of Kuwait.

The world rarely witnesses the lopsided matchups of political talent that we see today. The US sits at the table across from the Arabs and makes coy statements that carry clear implications, then says "let's not actually put that into the agreement."

The Arabs feel they've accomplished a diplomatic victory, though that victory would have had little to no practical meaning anyway. Then months later the Arabs learn that the coy statements didn't mean what they thought they meant. Now the Arabs are really angry. It's going to take some more coy statements to calm them down now.

At the same time in another mismatch, Iraq's government sits across the table from the US making different coy statements. "But let's leave that out of the agreement." "You know, domestic pressures. We're really on your side though."

Not only the administration, but every news source, and even the gullible blogger at MideastReality.blogspot.com believes this story. That in a stroke the US has secured long term bases and Iraq has agreed to be South Korea.

Oh well. Now I know better. The only change the agreement has made is that there is now no chance that there will be a UN mandate in 2009. What will be in its place? Whatever agreement can get past Sadr, the Sunnis, SIIC and the Iraqi Parliament. I doubt it will be Iraq as South Korea.

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