Friday, November 30, 2007

Beyond Bush, No Exit From Iraq?

"Americans," a New York Times editorial says today, "need to ask themselves the questions Mr. Bush is refusing to answer: Is this country signing on to keep the peace in Iraq indefinitely? If so, how many American and Iraqi deaths a month are an acceptable price? If not, what’s the plan for getting out?"

The President gave a partial answer this week by joining Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki in a declaration setting out principles for an agreement to be negotiated in the next year to guarantee a U.S. troop presence in Iraq for years.

Behind the "non-bonding" words, the plan is clear: permanent US bases established by a pact that the Decider can sign before he leaves office. "As far as Bush is concerned," Washington Post columnist Harold Meyerson notes today, "he doesn't have to seek congressional ratification for such an enduring commitment of American force, treasure and lives."

Gen. Douglas Lute, White House deputy national security adviser, confirms this speculation: "We don't anticipate now that these negotiations will lead to the status of a formal treaty which would then bring us to formal negotiations or formal inputs from the Congress."

With a 30 percent approval rating from Americans who want to get out of Iraq, George Bush, a majority of one, has decided unilaterally to keeps us there even after he leaves office to hold down what the Times describes as "the lid on a pressure cooker. Iraq’s rival militias, the insurgents, the bitter sectarian resentments and the meddling neighbors haven’t gone anywhere.

"Consider this all too familiar horror: yesterday, police said they pulled six bodies from the Tigris River about 25 miles south of Baghdad. They were handcuffed and showed signs of having been tortured. And five, including a child, had been beheaded."

In Venezuela, Hugo Chavez is angling to become president for life. Back here, on the subject of Iraq, George Bush has figured out how to manage that without any formalities.

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