The Bush Administration expects to sign a new deal with the Iraqi government this summer which will replace the UN Security Council Resolutions in governing our relationship, and could also take Iraq off the table for the fall elections – as well as for the next Administration. Michael Hirsh reports for Newsweek:
Most significant of all, the new partnership deal with Iraq, including a status of forces agreement that would then replace the existing Security Council mandate authorizing the presence of the U.S.-led multinational forces in Iraq, will become a sworn obligation for the next president. It will become just another piece of the complex global security framework involving a hundred or so countries with which Washington now has bilateral defense or security cooperation agreements. Last month, Sen. Hillary Clinton urged Bush not to commit to any such agreement without congressional approval. The president said nothing about that on Saturday, but Lute said last fall that the Iraqi agreement would not likely rise to the level of a formal treaty requiring Senate ratification. Even so, it would be difficult if not impossible for future presidents to unilaterally breach such a pact.
As far as the number of U.S. troops that would remain in Iraq under such a pact, the administration is considering changes that could also pre-empt anything the Democrats have in mind.
* * * * *
The upshot is that the next president, Democrat or Republican, is likely to be handed a fait accompli that could well render moot his or her own elaborate withdrawal plans, especially the ones being considered by the two leading Democratic contenders, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. Obama, undeterred by the reported success of Bush’s surge, is pushing ahead with his plans for a brigade-a-month withdrawals that would remove the U.S. military presence entirely.
Read it all at the link above. These security arrangements aren’t “set in stone” to the degree a formal treaty, ratified by the Senate, would be, but they still represent a commitment of American policy which cannot be easily undone. For instance, a President attempting to reverse such policies completely would not only undermine our credibility to our allies and enemies, but would also create the doubt his own agreements could survive his tenure in office.
Even on his way out the door, Bush wins again.