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September 19, 2008

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paul

william ayers:

next proconsul to Iraq. I'm sure telling Iraqis that they 'didn't blow up enough stuff to end the illegal occupation' will go over big.

rhodeymark

Gee - I could just imagine an Obama administration coming to my rescue if something went bad in an Iraqi town. Forget the example of killing an Iraqi at the market. Any and all conflicts or disturbances would be handled on their terms. I felt safer drinking in the Philippines then I did in Mexico.

TigerHawk

Well, Maliki is the leader of a democratic country, and he needs to appeal to his own voters!

Anyway, the immunity question strikes me as a tough one. It is not hard to see how it would be offensive to Iraqis, who have been asked by us to respect the rule of law for the first time in maybe forever, notwithstanding corruption and the presence of a foreign army. Now we are adding a big "but..." It is hard to argue that immunity does not muddle the message.

That said, Maliki is misreading the situation if he thinks that an Obama administration can give on the immunity question. It would subject Obama to a massive and unnecessary attack from Republicans and any other friend of the military. If there is any room for a concession on immunity -- and perhaps there is not and should not be, since any concession here will spark demands from the governments of every other country that hosts our soldiers -- only President McCain would have the cred to pull it off.

rhodeymark

*than* I did - PIMF

sbw

Nothing wrong with brinkmanship. Bush doesn't need an SFA before the election. And if McCain is elected, Bush doesn't even need an SFA befoe the end of the year. Let Maliki sweat.

We can either begin to pull out, or work without an agreement. Who's gonna insist we leave faster? We went in there with U.N. permission. The U.N. isn't in a position to order us out. And Maliki knows he doesn't really want us to leave just yet. It's only the Obama team who will posture faux outrage. Let Maliki sweat.

clarice

Maybe Chalabi can whisper in Maliki's ear that if Obama gets elected the jig is up and he should look for some nice flat in Knightsbridge.

Cecil Turner

Anyway, the immunity question strikes me as a tough one.

Don't see why. Or at least our position on it ought not to be. (Unless one posits that we have no moral obligation to those we send into harm's way, and can turn them over to a court consisting of recently occupied nationals with a strong Sharia tradition and pretend it's fair enough.) There is also the practical matter of determining what is or is not a "military operation," and who gets to make that call.

No other SOFA I'm aware of gives primary jurisdiction to the host nation. Not sure what ought to make Iraq a special case, and in fact it seems to me it's one of the last places we ought to implement such concessions, if in fact we decide to do so.

Ranger

SOFA agreements are extreemly complex things. A lot of it has to do with the nature of the crime. As I recall in Germany, US troops had to pay local speeding tickets, and if they wanted to contest, they had to go to the local German court. In contrast, the US retained juristiction over DUIs, because they had such a serious impact on someone's career.

In capital cases, the Germans would usually give up juristiction if only American's were involved, but only if the military agreed not to seek the death penalty.

SWarren

Obama 101
Amir Taheri *smack-down* on Obama.

McCain should use this in the debates. Especially referencing two prominent Dems invoking discretion.

LUN

SWarren
What Obama was attempting, however, was more original. It amounted to preemptive diplomacy used against one’s own government: opposing an agreement not yet negotiated and of the content of which he knew nothing. A neophyte in matters of politics and diplomacy, the young senator is certainly not wanting for originality.
Cecil Turner

In capital cases, the Germans would usually give up juristiction . . .

Most of my experience is in the Pacific (particularly Japan), where we effectively have primary jurisdiction. But I see from the NATO SOFA that the primary jurisdiction is to the host nations for all criminal offenses that aren't: 1) against sending state personnel or property; or 2) concerning official duties.

I'd note that even in those cases, jurisdiction disputes are generally subject to negotiation and compromise (e.g., here), but my earlier statement was obviously a bit too broad. A thousand gomens.

Semanticleo

Geez. There is a genuine, informative question on the objective ramifications going on, instead of the Barack scare tactics. I will save my comments on the Reagan 'October Surprise' issue (as well as Iran/Contra) until
the thread deteriorates.

Counting....1....2.....3......

Semanticleo

strike 'question', insert discussion.

Charlie (Colorado)

I will save my comments on the Reagan 'October Surprise' issue (as well as Iran/Contra) until the thread deteriorates.

I think you've got causality reversed here.

OrgleFan

Or is Obama's play here to scuttle the SFAs now and later? The idea being he can use an SFA dispute later as an excuse to bring the troops home and simultaneously absolve his administration of any resulting chaos. Chaos that "ultimately is the fault of choices by a free and sovereign Iraq" or so the spinmeisters are likely to say.

bad

Obama was merely acting as a citizen of the world. You are trying to constrain and limit him by expecting the USA to be Obama's first priority. Where is your global perspective?

Barney Frank

Counting....1....2.....3......

Always best to go back to basics. Adding negatives will be after recess.

kim

Leo means he's been struck dumb. Or hasn't figured out the best line to take. That in itself is shocking, because he only pays peripheral attention to marching orders.
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Cecil Turner

Obama was merely acting as a citizen of the world.

And incidentally usurping the prerogative of the office to which he aspires . . . which ironically tends to disqualify him (because it ain't exactly congruent with the "preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States" thing).

bad

The devil is in the details Cecil. He has a habit if moving on from a job, before he has accomplished anything, to the next rung on the ladder. In this case, he wasn't actually POTUS but campaigned so long for the job, ennui for the position took over. Hence, the president of the world persona.

As for preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States..

Totally red state...

JM Hanes

Clarice:

It' my impression that Chalabi is the one persuading Maliki et al that Obama is going to win this election.

Cecil:

"Not sure what ought to make Iraq a special case, and in fact it seems to me it's one of the last places we ought to implement such concessions, if in fact we decide to do so."

I think such a concession would be insane. It's possible that instituting an explicit protocol for registering and resolving a complaint from the government of Iraq against our military in a U.S. or Military tribunal -- if such a protocol does not already exist -- could be devised without putting our troops at general hazard. Any precedent for submitting to an international tribunal represents an intolerable slippery slope, IMO, ending up at the ICC.

The ICC is a nightmarish venue whose jurisdiction would supersede the jurisdiction of our own courts and abrogate, by fiat, fundamental constitutional rights which we enjoy as U.S. citizens, without any check on either its decisions or its power to expand its own purview at will.

bgates

I found Jake Tapper's reporting on this convincing. He says Ryan Crocker was at that meeting, and would have let the administration know if Obama did what Taheri is claiming.

clarice

Why is that,JMH? I've never seen anything along those lines nor do I think he's (a) close to Maliki or (b) a gambling man. He knows the US well having gone to school here and he's an outstanding businessman with a PhD from MIT in math.

clarice

bgates, as TM our glorious leader has noted, the report rather well matches Obama's position as stated on his own website.

kim

What Sistani wants is key. Everyone over there knows they can pitch us out in moments if necessary. No reason they shouldn't take all the advantage they can. But I doubt they want Obama in charge of the constabulary of the world. A strong horse he ain't. Spavined and halt, useful as future glue and Oil of Equis.
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BobS

bgates:

Even if Crocker was at the meeting, its still not unlikely that we'd know it. The Bush administration is funny about telling folks things. Plus there haven't been alot of denials from Obama.

Charlie (Colorado)

The Bush administration is funny about telling folks things.

I think that's key. It's a rare piece of information that doesn't need to be ripe for best flavor.

bgates

Clarice - but Obama has already demonstrated the campaign literature should be...erm...interpreted flexibly. If I were Maliki, I'd be more interested in a statement directly from Obama in private than what he was feeding the yokels back home.


The Bush administration is funny about telling folks things.
Ain't that the truth. I'd think he would make an exception for something that could destroy his legacy, though.
Plus there haven't been alot of denials from Obama.
Hey, they're backlogged over there - the Raines denial, the infanticide denial, the denial of both opposition to and support for the AIG deal.... Plus most of the surrogates are busy charging racism everywhere. Not to mention somebody has to corral Hillary supporters, and ask Bubba if he'd mind not describing Sarah Palin as "the Tiger Woods of Alaskan politics, only hotter"*.

*Quote substantiated to NYT/WaPo standards of accuracy.

BobS

Not to mis-state my own position. I believe that Obama did indeed press Malicki on this and that Malicki is doubling down on Obama for a variety of reasons. I've lost some trust for Malicki as he seems to favor Iran and has signaled as much with a condemnation of Israel. Perhaps he knows that has a kindred spirit in Obama whom shares his antisemitism and anti-Israel views.

BobS

Perhaps it is that Amir Taheri supports his own story best in his NO piece.

LUN

BobS

I find myself convinced

clarice

Let me be frank. If I were Maliki and I thought the Dems would control all three branches of the US govt and Iran were my neighbor-I'd be nicer to that country, too.
Capisce?

kim

All bets are off if, in fact, Obama is a secret Muslim; like lots of Muslims believe.
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BobS

I understand your point, Clarice. Yet is this where we are going to allow ourselves to go? Are we going to find that its acceptable for the party not in power to intervene in foreign affairs as this group of Democrats have. Pelosi, Rockefeller, and now Obama have broken the so called "golden rule" now. By this standard, if Obama is elected, Mitch McConnell can circumvent foreign affairs to benefit the Republican Party as have Democrats over the last two years.

kim

Solly Cholly, Schumer's Department of Justice would prosecute Republicans under the Logan Act in a heartbeat. They tried to impeach Bush for acting like an executive.
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kim

Gad, I hope Soros is on tape. A little too much to ask, I suppose.
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kim

Note the way Paulsen puts his fingers together. Quel corpus callosum.
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JM Hanes

I'm not sure why anyone would take anyone's word at face value in the middle of some of the most sensitive & complex negotiations in recent history. That's precisely why Obama had no business conducting a high profile meeting with Maliki in the first place -- especially as heir apparent to the White House, which he was at the time. It doesn't matter what he said or how he said it, and one of the most important reasons is being illustrated before our eyes: public confusion, public maneuvering and public controversy are now complicating every facet of the diplomatic task at hand. Unless we discover that he was acting at the behest of the President, Obama's ego-centric grandstanding is a self-serving travesty.

Clarice:

I could be misremembering the Chalabi bit -- or I could have read it in the Washington Post. :-)


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