Thursday, November 29, 2007
Empire Building, Neocon Style
Excerpts from Harold Meyerson's column in the Post: Bush's Next Preemptive Strike
George W. Bush is focusing now on his legacy. Duck. Run. Hide.
Some of his legacy-building, I'll allow, is commendable, if overdue -- most particularly, his efforts to resurrect the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, which he ignored for seven long years. But the linchpin of Bush's legacy, it appears, is to make his Iraq policy a permanent fixture of American statecraft.
On Monday, Bush and Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki signed a declaration pledging that their governments would put in place a long-term political and security pact sometime next year. "The shape and size of any long-term, or longer than 2008, U.S. presence in Iraq will be a key matter for negotiation between the two parties, Iraq and the United States," Lt. Gen. Douglas Lute, the White House official in charge of Iraq war matters, said at the briefing unveiling the agreement.
What Bush will almost surely be pushing for is permanent U.S. bases in Iraq, enshrined in a pact he can sign a few months before he leaves office. And here, as they used to say, is the beauty part: As far as Bush is concerned, he doesn't have to seek congressional ratification for such an enduring commitment of American force, treasure and lives.
"We don't anticipate now that these negotiations will lead to the status of a formal treaty which would then bring us to formal negotiations or formal inputs from the Congress," Lute said. The administration is looking to sign a status-of-forces agreement, which requires Senate ratification if it's classified as a treaty but not if it's classified as an executive agreement. One need not be able to solve the riddle of the Sphinx to guess which of those classifications the Bush White House will go for.
But if Bush tries to lock the next president into permanent U.S. bases in Iraq, he may also be locking in a Democrat as the next president. Ironically, just when events on the ground in Iraq aren't looking as disastrous as they did six months ago, Bush's efforts to make the U.S. presence permanent would drape the necks of the Republican presidential and congressional candidates with one large, squawking albatross.
Is the president personally going to profit from this after his term is over ? Don't ask.