Sign that Obama is About to Face Down Bush on Iraq

(Part 2 of 2 – 11:30AM EST – promoted by Nightprowlkitty)

This should not pass unnoticed.  McClatchy reports that Senator Obama’s spokesman yesterday layed out a clearer opposition to Bush’s Status of Forces Agreement than the Democratic Senate has so far done.

The point here is subtle but significant.  The Washington Post, in tomorrow’s edition, is reporting that congressional lawmakers are objecting to Bush’s unilateral Status of forces agreement, but have so far not directly raised the issue of Congressional ratification — in other words, have not really challenged Bush.  But this is false.  Obama’s office did, as reported by McClatchy.  In fact, Obama’s position is now directly in line with the position of the Iraqi parliament’s.  Bush must agree to a weaked agreement or punt to the UN, and therefore to the next US Administration, for any agreement.

I am not one for optimism in matters related to Iraq, but this appears to be an actual positive and fairly concrete sign that Obama is not messing around.

First, let me quote from the Washington Post, on events in Washington.  The White House is buckling to Iraqi parliament demands that the Status of Forces Agreement be weakened to increase Iraqi sovereignty.  The US Congress is getting more vocal in their opposition, as well, but is not making any demand for a congressional vote on the Agreement, according to the Post.

In Washington, the White House hastily organized a closed-door briefing on Capitol Hill on Tuesday after Sens. Carl M. Levin (D-Mich.) and John W. Warner (R-Va.), the chairman and ranking minority member of the Armed Services Committee, respectively, demanded Monday that the administration “be more transparent with Congress, with greater consultation, about the progress and content of these deliberations.”

In a letter Monday to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Levin and Warner wrote that Congress, “in exercising its constitutional responsibilities, has legitimate concerns about the authorities, protections and understandings that might be made” in the agreements.

Although they have questioned the status of forces agreement’s contents, lawmakers have not raised the issue of its congressional ratification.

But that is apparently not true, as I mentioned.

Here is McClatchy:

U.S. security talks with Iraq in trouble in Baghdad and D.C.

Posted on Tuesday, June 10, 2008

By Leila Fadel and Warren P. Strobel | McClatchy Newspapers

BAGHDAD – A proposed U.S.-Iraqi security agreement that would set the conditions for a defense alliance and long-term U.S. troop presence appears increasingly in trouble, facing growing resistance from the Iraqi government, bipartisan opposition in Congress and strong questioning from Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama.

— snip —

A spokesman for Obama (D-Ill) said any long-term U.S. security commitment to Iraq must be subject to Congressional approval; alternatively the administration should seek an extension of the current UN mandate. Obama wants a new administration to make it “absolutely clear that the United States will not maintain permanent bases in Iraq,” said spokesman Bill Burton.

That last part, the call for the White House back down on Congressional approval or else punt, is very encouraging.  It indicates that Obama may be readying a stronger stand in the Senate against Bush than we have seen so far.  The point is that the spokesperson had no reason to say that unless Obama was going to carry through.  The fact that stance, as stated by the spokesperson, is so much in line with the stance of the Iraqi parliament demand — that Bush back down or punt to the UN — indicates that Obama sees the chance to ratchet pressure on Bush from all sides.

This might all amount to nothing.  When it comes to Iraq, I am never optimistic.  But in recent days we have seen examples of Obama showing new strength in the Senate, now that he is head of the Democratic party as its Presidential nominee, and this may be the beginning of another show of that strength.  Stay tuned.

(Crossposted at DailyKos.)


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  1. (Sorry to post two essays back to back.  I had two different takes on these articles, one optimistic, one pessimistic.  This is the optimistic one: I think there is an actual encouraging sign in the following.)

  2. Breakfast of champions.

    Very good essay. I actually read it elsewhere & saw it was posted here.

    Now to see the darker side in your other one.  

    • TomP on June 11, 2008 at 2:35 pm

    Obama needs to say that his adminstration will not consider itself bound by this unless ratified by Congress.  

  3. because its more “meta” than about this particular situation. But I have been interested in watching Obama’s process even more than studying his policies. And while policies are important to consider, I think process is also crucial. That’s because the forces of power at work in DC are strong (to say the least) and if change is going to happen, you have to be smart about how you go about doing that.

    We’ve had 8 years of watching a process that says “agree with me or fight.” Its sort of the “king of the hill” mentality. And it ends up in either war (real or metaphorical) or capitulation.

    I see signs that Obama will do this differently. And I think its why some criticize him as not enough of a “fighter.” If what I hope is true, he just has a different and (in my mind) more effective style – and it seems to be based on what he learned about being effective as a community organizer.

    Certainly I haven’t seen enough yet to be sure of this. But that’s what I’ll be watching for over time.

  4. I’m sure your absolutely wrong.

    What so many of you fail to understand is that Both Candidates Support Bush in Iraq.

    I mean are you guys always going to put yourself in a daze over OBama?

    What do you think it would look like if Obama comes out and says…We shouldn’t have an agreement that strengthens our forces in Iraq and secures Iraq for the future?

    That’s how it will be spun back against him and that’s what the American people will believe because they are utterly and hopelessely stupid. There is no excuse anymore after 6 years.

    Obama’s position is Pro Israel, Anti Iranian, it’s anti Muslim..( doesn’t matter that it’s poltical posturing because political posturing becomes the accepted way of thinking and then you can’t back away from it).

    Obama wants to KEEP TROOPS IN IRAQ…I keep saying this but everybody doesn’t want to read carefully what his website says…which is….to use American Troops to fight “AL Queda ” . And Al Queda is non existent…the insurgents are being called Al Queda

    But go ahead….go off and continually believe that PRO WAR Democrats who will be elected ( Who say vague things like “lets bring the troops home…someday”) are going to be the panacea that it seems you are looking for…

    Or maybe….you guys like war…..that’s something to consider.

  5. than you are with regard to this SOFA with Iraq. The US has SOFAs with somewhere around 100 countries – 93 prior to 9/11 but now the exact number is not given to the public. My question is – were any or all of these agreements subject to approval by the US Senate or the House of Reps.? I don’t know the answer but I suspect the answer is “no”.

    I believe public opinion, including that of our lawmakers, many of whom, I believe, in reality do not object to a long-term presence of the US military in Iraq and so would prefer not to have their stances revealed, might have a very small impact on the outcome of such an agreement.

    The most important factor might well depend upon how strong the Iraqis are in resisting. Time is an important factor. We can be sure Bush and his friends will do their damnedest to settle this to their advantage before they leave office. If they fail then at least there is hope that Obama will make some serious changes with respect to our military occupation of Iraq.

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