Monday, April 12, 2010

Ambassador Chris Hill claims all the US wants for Iraq is for it to be strong, stable, peaceful and democratic

The United States has, by far, the biggest embassy in the world in the US embassy in Iraq. The tens of thousands of US workers who will staff this embassy likely have very American ideas about what exactly it means to be strong, stable, peaceful and democratic. The last one is not as important to Americans as being "good for the region", which means "sustaining peace with Israel, which is a very difficult thing to do in that region".

The United States is certainly working feverishly to improve the standing of its intelligence asset, Iyad Allawi, in Iraq's political system. Fortunately for everyone, the United States is not hemming itself in with public displays of support that will be difficult to back away from when Allawi is out-maneuvered.

The United States remains with two direct ways to apply leverage to Iraq. Neither is particularly impressive. One is foreign aid. The other is "diplomatic support", which means the US purposely has not lifted the Saddam Hussein-era Chapter 7 sanctions on Iraq. By now it is clear that it will not lift them because they are more valuable held over the heads of Iraq's leadership than dismantled.
But coming back to what you were saying earlier, the future role of the US in Iraq, then, is up to the Iraqi people?

Yes, we will work together - you cannot force a relationship. We are prepared to do some things, we are prepared in particular to implement our part of the strategic framework agreement, which we reached with Iraq at the end of the Bush administration.

We are prepared to see that strategic framework agreement is implemented. It involves a number of areas, including diplomatic co-operation, which is why we're trying to help the Iraqis through some of their diplomatic challenges, including helping them get out of Chapter VII (of the UN charter). It also involves economic activities, and other things.

So we have a complete blueprint of what that relationship should look like in the future and I'm going to see if we can get that thing implemented.
"Helping them get out of Chapter VII" If the US wanted a resolution lifting Iraq from those sanctions tomorrow morning, it would have one with plenty of time to spare by lunchtime. No, instead these sanctions are going to remain in place indefinitely but they'll be ignored. When Iraq is ready to think about nuclear energy these clearly outdated sanctions will prove in effect more of an embarrassment for the US than a hindrance for Iraq, but that day is years away from now.

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