Yesterday, President Bush signed the Defense Authorization Bill, including Section 1222 prohibiting permanent military bases in Iraq, with the now customary "signing statement" declaring that he has no intention of enforcing the law of the land, including this provision, though bound by oath and Constitution to do so.
We're not planning to stay in Iraq past the completion of Operation Iraqi Freedom. We'll stand down as Iraqis stand up. There are no plans for permanent bases in Iraq. Yes, framing is really nothing more than the marketing of political ideas. In truth, we are mired in a military operation without clear objectives and no definable endpoint. Yes, we're going to hear a lot of noise about "troop drawdowns" this year, but they are merely window dressing designed to get the GOP through the 2006 elections without having to actually address the issue of withdrawal. By President Bush's own admission, finishing this business will fall to his predecessor.
To seal the deal, with the expectation of binding future presidential successors, Mr. Bush and Iraq president Nouri al-Maliki are in the process of negotiating a "status of forces agreement" that would commit the U.S. military to combat any internal or external factions the Iraqi government deemed a threat. This represents a one-directional security treaty cloaked in the form of an agreement not subject to Senate ratification. And it guarantees U.S. involvement in age-old Iraqi sectarian conflict for decades to come.