The Neo-Imperial Route

Baghdad1917

Karl Meyer compares Britain's 1930 agreement with Iraq to the one America is trying to arrange:

The "strategic alliance" that President Bush is proposing eerily resembles, in spirit and in letter, a failed 1930 treaty between Britain and Iraq that prompted a nationalist eruption in Baghdad, a pro-Nazi military coup and a pogrom that foreshadowed the elimination of Baghdad's ancient Jewish community. [...]

According to press reports based on leaks from the Iraqi Parliament, the pact envisions giving the Americans rights to as many as 58 military bases and control of Iraqi airspace. It would grant immunity from Iraqi laws to American military personnel. And it would empower American officials to detain suspected terrorists without the approval of Iraqi authorities.

Joe Klein responds:

It is probable that the Maliki government will want a U.S. military presence, for the time being. But the rules governing that presence should be similar to those accorded the U.S. military in countries like Japan and Germany--i.e. without the right to act unilaterally on Iraqi terrain. Any intimation that the U.S. is forcing conditions on the Iraqis will result, as Meyer notes, in long-term resentment and reaction--and continued violence against our troops.

In the end, as I've written here before, there is no good rationale for a permanent U.S. military presence in Iraq; it will be a permanent irritant. And this seems one of the clear foreign policy differences in the presidential campaign: McCain wants a long-term presence. Obama doesn't.

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