A Sort of Exit Strategy
This expedited transfer of power is, according to one wire service report, an attempt to "undercut" the growing Iraqi resistance movement. Which is sort of like saying that Japan surrendered to the US in WWII to undercut American attempts to invade their country.
The new plan, announced after emergency consultations in the White House between the Littlest Caesar and US Viceroy Paul Bremmer calls for handing power over to a "sovereign," Iraqi transitional government by June, 2004 with democratic elections in 2005.
Hoping to undercut the idea that the US isn't going to stay the course in Iraq, Bush administration officials, both in Washington and in Tony Blair's satellite office in London insist that, while the "occupation," will end in June, US troops will continue to occupy the country.
According to one official in Tony Blair's government, quoted in the Observer, "The first phase is the handing over of power to the transitional government, at which point the occupation ends. This is followed by an electoral process which includes a census and constitutional convention and finally elections to a fully sovereign Iraqi government,"
The Bush administration hopes that by officially ending the occupation, and transforming US troops into invited guests of the new sovereign government, they can convince the Iraqi's to stop attacking the troops occupying their country.
The administration made it clear that this process of Iraqi independence was already underway when soon after the meeting in Washington, they ordered the Iraqi Governing Council to announce the plan as their own idea.
And while this new "sovereign," government hasn't even been selected yet, it has already apparently assured the US that American troops will be welcome to stay as long as necessary.
Iraqi Governing Council member, and Defense Department nominee for president of Iraq, Ahmad Chalabi, said "This is good for everyone... We will have the US forces here, but they will change from occupiers to a force that is here at the invitation of the Iraqi government." And to think that some people call Chalabi a con man.
Iraqi Governing Council president Jalal Talabani, who apparently hasn't memorized the game plan said that "The new government will be in charge of negotiating with the occupying forces over how to regulate their presence in the country." He probably meant to say "guest soldiers," not "occupying forces." And perhaps getting carried away with this sovereignty thing, he said, "If we need them to stay, we will ask them to stay. If we don't, we will respectfully ask them to leave."
The Littlest Caesar himself gave his blessing to the sovereignty of this new Iraqi government by saying that, "We'll adjust our troop levels according to the security situation in Iraq." And of course as long as insurgents are attacking US troops in Iraq, the security situation will be such that US troops will need to remain for the benefit of the security situation.
Donald Rumsfeld, on tour in the Philippines, Korea and Japan, and who hasn't been informed of the new proposals at the time of this writing said that "This has nothing to do with US troops in Iraq." As quoted by Reuters, he clarified that "the timetable, or the way ahead that the Governing Council has been describing, relates to the governance aspects of the country and not to the security aspects. That's on a separate track."
The shift in strategy is attributed in part to the US dropping its insistence that the Iraqi's come up with a constitution before elections. But since the Iraqi's and Halliburton are having trouble agreeing on a constitution, the Bush administration decided that elections first would be okay.
But in the interim, according to Viceroy Bremmer, the US will help the Iraqi's and Halliburton write an "interim constitution," embodying basic American values like justice, oil and Halliburton.
He told ABC's This Week in Baghdad that "we will write into that constitution exactly the kinds of guarantees that were not in Saddam's constitution, We'll have a bill of rights. We'll recognize equality for all citizens. We'll recognize an independent judiciary. We'll talk about a federal government." He didn't say what the Iraqi's would get, except to add that there would be a side agreement dealing with the US guest soldiers and the security situation.
Troy Skeels is an editor of Eat the State!, a feisty alternative publication from Seattle, Washington where this article first appeared (www.eatthestate.org).
Other Articles by Troy Skeels