Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Iraq As Indian Country -- Again

These days, everybody who is anybody is calling for change – and not just the pittance left to drop into a pocket, purse, or piggy bank after a stop at the grocery store and the petrol station.

But there is a place where a significant majority of the public is rejecting the future, or at least a large part of the future that the administration of Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki tentatively worked out with President George W. Bush last November in the U.S. – Iraq “Declaration of Principles.”

Normally, when emissaries from allied countries meet to develop or revise and extend written accords, they start with commonality of means, method, and motivation. Not so the Iraqi parliamentarians who forced al-Maliki to open the negotiations to senior Shi’a members of the legislature. Already suspicious of U.S. intentions, the Iraqi representatives reportedly were stunned (might one say shocked and awed?) by the sheer temerity of the U.S. position:

- - blanket immunity for all U.S. military and all “private military contractor” personnel from Iraqi law (presumably both civil and religious law to avoid controversy should a Muslim U.S. service member be assigned to duty in Iraq;

- control of all Iraqi air space below 30,000 feet (presumably to conduct close air support when needed without having to worry about civil airliners intruding into the area where the fighting is;

- the U.S., not Iraq, will decide if a “hostile” activity or incident directed at Iraq from any of its neighbors constitutes “aggression,” thereby empowering the U.S. president to launch a preemptive attack on a neighboring country (e.g. Iran), should the neighbor commit any overt or covert action – regardless of whether or not the neighbor was provoked by an even earlier American action – thus allowing the White House to claim it acted under Article 51 of the UN Charter that allows for self-defense;

- the U.S. - Iraq agreement would have no termination date and no provision even to review its provisions after the passage of a set number of years.

In other words, once signed and ratified, both Washington and Baghdad could put the agreement on the shelf and forget it.

There seems to be only one concession by Washington: the agreement can be cancelled by either party effective two years after invoking the power to opt out. Even this is only a half concession, for normally treaties can be cancelled effective 6 months or one year after notice of withdrawal.

Bush is doing to Iraqia what the European colonists and later the federal goverment did to Native Americans: destroyed their sovereignty.

Welcome to Indian country -- again.

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