Beware the SOFA and Your Crazy Uncle Victor

Iraq lawmakers approve security pact with U.S.

The pact, which is expected to be formally ratified by Iraq’s three-person Presidency Council, requires U.S. combat troops to leave Iraqi cities, towns and villages by June 30 as the first step toward a total withdrawal by the end of 2011. It also limits U.S. troops’ ability to conduct missions, raids or arrests without Iraqi authority and opens the door to Iraqi courts handling some criminal cases involving American troops.

I let this set for a couple of hours before I wrote anything because it sounds like such good news. Maybe out in 24 months instead of the 36 months the Pentagon had previously said was the minimum( If the U.S. leaves in 24 months we will have been there for a total of eight years). Then there are the inter-Iraq issues. Shiite cleric Muqtada Sadr doesn’t have quite the power he once had, but he doesn’t like it and neither do the Kurds. The minority Sunnis are afraid they’ll be left in the lurch as far as security, with the predominantly Shiite in control and U.S. troops out or assigned to the sidelines to let them work things out for themselves. There is no agreement about how Iraqis and Kurds will divide oil revenue; so including the sectarian problems another source of tension. There is a provision that President Obama could cancel the SOFA with notice. Which brings up questions of the legitimacy of the SOFA if it includes the conduct of private U.S. contractors in Iraq, An Agreement Without Agreement

For example, the administration plans to exempt civilian contractors from prosecution under Iraqi laws. Military personnel also enjoy this exemption, but they can be court-martialed. These military tribunals have no jurisdiction over civilian contractors. Indeed, many of them will be immune from prosecution anywhere. Current federal law only subjects contractors working in support of the Defense Department to prosecution in American courts for felonies in Iraq. Yet those working for the CIA or the State Department could be left operating in a “no-law” zone if the president had the power to commit America unilaterally. If that happens, contractors could shoot Iraqi civilians without cause or commit sexual assaults against their fellow contractors without facing prison time. No existing status of forces agreement, including those used in such places as South Korea and Germany, contains anything like this wide-ranging exemption.

Important to remember that this is Bush’s agreement and under it the Iraqi government has legal jurisdiction over U.S. troops under certain circumstances. Sine the agreement covers contractors and has what amounts to a mutual defense agreement, unlike other SOFAs it has strong elements of being a treaty. Treaties require Congressional approval. America has been told for years that Republicans were the great gurus of foreign policy, yet here we have Bush acting like he is on the last few days of spring break and he’s going to throw TVs off the balcony if he feels like it. The SOFA is a break through for Prime Minister Nouri Maliki – a step in the right direction, but it is sloppy and possibly illegal – as of today there is not a complete English copy for anyone to read, even Congress.

One of the intellectual National Reviews intellectual contributors, historian Victor Davis Hanson writes in The Hysterical Style,

Politicians now predict the implosion of the U.S. auto industry. Headlines warn that the entire banking system is on the verge of utter collapse. The all-day/all-night cable news shows and op-ed columnists talk of another Dark Age on the horizon, as each day another corporation lines up for its me-too bailout.

…We are witnessing a new hysterical style, in which the Baby Boomer “me generation” that now runs America jettisons knowledge of the past and daily proclaims that each new development requires both a radical solution and another bogeyman to blame for being mean or unfair to them.

Whiskey Fire digs up Vic being pretty darn hysterical back in 2002. Pangloss Hanson wants us to smile or frown on his que. Since I’m not an intellectual at NR I don’t have those Rightie issued puppet striings, thank you. No, now is not the time to panic or dance in the streets, but pardon the reality based community if we show a little concern. The implosion of the domestic auto industry has been brought to our attention by those guys with the private jets, auto industry executives. Whatever happens they’ll be fine, but the specter of the nation losing a large chunk of its manufacturing sector and millions of jobs with it, might make Hanson yawn, but that exactly the reason you don’t let crazy uncles decide what your priorities should be. Hanson as usual is long on hot air and short on detail. His arrogance keeps him from being bothered to explain how America is not suffering a credit crunch, a sub prime meltdown and if the wrong people are being blamed to point us in the correct direction. A Republican Zeus he simply waves his arm from gold leafed robes and pronounces mealy mouthed judgment – let the rabble rousing masses eat cake. A sometime professor no less, disposes with his supporting arguments or a cohesive opening statement for that matter. Low standards over there at the NR, Hanson fits right in.

Financial industry rescue criticized as double standard

Congressional leaders and the Bush administration have stressed that the industry’s $25 billion must be the automakers’ last word on government help. Yet two of the largest financial institutions are on their second and third serving of government bailout funds; The Treasury had put $25 billion into Citigroup, while privately held AIG has now drawn $150 billion in loans from the government.

“It’s a double standard, basically,” said Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich. “Holy cow, AIG gets $150 billion for one insurance company that not only made mistakes but engaged in very dubious practices … and they’re bailed out? I’d love to see what their financial plans are, but I doubt they were even asked for them.”

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