THE PROPOSED U.S. SECURITY COMMITMENT TO IRAQ:
WHAT WILL BE IN IT & SHOULD IT BE A TREATY?
By Dr. Michael Rubin
On November 26, 2007, President George W. Bush and Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki released a "Declaration of Principles for a Longterm Relationship of Cooperation and Friendship between the Republic of Iraq and the United States of America." Among the principles they outlined were:
Support for "the Republic of Iraq in its efforts to combat all terrorist groups … consistent with mechanisms and arrangements to be established in the bilateral cooperation agreements…"
Support for "the Republic of Iraq in training, equipping, and arming the Iraqi Security Forces to enable them to protect Iraq and all its peoples, and completing the building of its administrative systems, in accordance with the request of the Iraqi government."
On December 7, 2007, Maliki formally requested the extension of the UN Security Council's mandate of the Multi-National Force-Iraq (MNF-I) to the President of the Security Council. On December 18, 2007, the Security Council obliged with passage of Resolution 1790, which extended the MNF-I mandate until December 31, 2008, subject to review by June 15, 2008.
Throughout this year, the U.S.A. and Iraqi government will negotiate the details of a security agreement to replace the UN's Chapter VII mandate. The details are crucial to the question at hand, but remain unclear. The proposed agreement could take many forms and, indeed, could be a package of multiple agreements, ranging from a Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) to economic development packages to basing agreements, to a formal defense treaty.
SOFAs apportion rights and responsibilities between a host government and our stationed or deployed forces. Typically, they serve to vest the United States with criminal jurisdiction over our forces in a host country. Usually, this entails a commitment to hold our troops and personnel legally responsible for any criminal conduct under the Uniform Code of Military Justice or some such arrangement. Unknown, in the case of Iraq, would be the status of private security contractors. Many SOFAs also address exemption from inspections and customs duties, travel document requirements, and tax exemptions for the PX. Today, the United States has approximately 100 SOFAs.
Generally, SOFAs constitute agreements rather than treaties. It is a rare occurrence if a SOFA is sent to the Senate for approval. With regard to NATO, Japan and Korea, security guarantees are covered in separate treaty structures above and beyond the SOFA itself. For example, in 1953, the United States and the Republic of Korea signed a Mutual Defense Treaty, which the Senate ratified in 1954. The Pentagon then negotiated in 1966 a "Facilities and Areas and the Status of United States Armed Forces in Korea" which came into force on February 9, 1967, with an exchange of letters, rather than separate ratification.
To determine whether ratification is necessary, what an agreement is called is less important than its contents. There is a point that an agreement can go so far in obligating the United States to defend another country that the Senate should ratify it. That line is when the obligation to defend another country becomes legally binding under international law. If such language is embedded in an Iraq SOFA, then there is little question that the SOFA should be voted on as a treaty by the U.S. Senate.
It is possible that the White House will stress that they consider any pact with security guarantee language to be an agreement, rather than a treaty, and so not legally binding to the extent that a treaty would be. Should the White House try to adhere to this fine line, however, the Iraqi government would take note and consider the U.S. commitment ephemeral and perhaps demand a more formal treaty.
Basing agreements are more nebulous and controversial. The differentiation within U.S. discourse between permanent and non-permanent bases is more political than legal. For the United States to establish or lease a base in another country, often requires an agreement rather than a treaty. Many of these basing agreements or their renewal agreements involve political and economic commitments. This has been the case, for example, with the Incirlik Air Base in Turkey. Ankara frequently requests economic incentives. During the 2005 renegotiation, the Pentagon sought a "blanket" agreement in which the U.S. military would have full use for the period of the agreement, while some Turkish officials demanded that Ankara be able to approve every flight in order to maintain their leverage over Congressional discussions of the Armenian Genocide Resolution and other issues. Rent was the major subject of U.S.-Kyrgyz base renewal talks in 2006, while expansion of facilities to provide better force protection became the issue dominating discussions to expand Camp Lemonier in Djibouti. Sharing of maintenance costs for U.S. facilities in Japan is the contentious issue in U.S.-Japanese negotiations.
Sometimes host countries wish to receive security guarantees in exchange for hosting a U.S. base or U.S. forces. Again, whether or not the basing agreement should be subject to Senate ratification depends upon the strength of the guarantee. Such demands for assurances are not always stated upfront, and often enter the conversation over years or during renewal discussions.
It is not the U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee's duty to pre-empt negotiations over specific clauses of an agreement not as yet written, but it will become the Senate's duty to ratify the resulting product, should it include security guarantees binding under international law. It is ironic that the House Foreign Affairs Committee seems more intent on defending the Senate's prerogative than the Senate itself.
As our diplomats and military officials negotiate such an agreement, they will be seeking to underline our commitment to Iraqi stability and that country's success fighting the extremists and terrorists that threaten both Iraqi and U.S. security. They will seek to preserve our military's maneuverability. While some critics of the Bush administration's Iraq policy suggest that the United States should confine itself to a limited number of forward operating bases or even redeploy its forces "over the horizon" into neighboring countries or Iraqi Kurdistan, such a strategy would hamper our ability to respond and protect the U.S. forces training Iraqi counterparts and providing the space for Iraqi politicians to advance reconciliation efforts. The insurgency spread when U.S. forces were confined to a handful of bases and forward operation bases (FOBs). Part of General Petraeus and General Odierno's "surge" strategy involved saturating troops throughout their areas of operation. The strategy worked. U.S. and Iraqi negotiators will not be anxious to roll back success by again concentrating Multinational Forces to a few FOBs, but will rather seek to maintain the security regime until political reconciliation can occur. Any language, however, which would commit U.S. forces to defend Iraq in the face of an external threat would transform the agreement into a treaty, subject to Senate ratification.
In such a case, not only would the eyes of Tehran and Damascus be on the U.S. Senate, but also observers in Taipei, Jerusalem and Seoul, for the U.S. willingness to support and defend our allies, regardless of where we are in the election cycle, is at the heart of our credibility and our relationships not only in Iraq, but the world over.
The Middle East & the Problem of Iraq
Page Two Page One
The Problem of Rogue States:
Iraq as a Case History
National Strategy for Victory in Iraq
American Foreign Policy -- The Middle East
Middle East -- Arabs, Arab States,
& Their Middle Eastern Neighbors
The Middle East & the Problem of Syria
The Middle East & the Problem of Iran
Islamism & Jihadism -- The Threat of Radical Islam
Page Three Page Two Page One
International Politics & World Disorder:
War & Peace in the Real World
Page Two Page One
Islamist Terrorist Attacks on the U.S.A.
Osama bin Laden & the Islamist Declaration of War
Against the U.S.A. & Western Civilization
Islamist International Terrorism &
U.S. Intelligence Agencies
Counterterrorism & U.S. National Security
U.S. National Security Strategy
Dr. Michael Rubin, a Ph.D. in History (Yale University) and a specialist in Middle Eastern politics, Islamic culture and Islamist ideology, is Editor of the Middle East Quarterly, a senior lecturer at the Naval Postgraduate School, and a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research. Dr Rubin is author of Into the Shadows: Radical Vigilantes in Khatami's Iran (Washington Institute for Near East Policy, 2001) and is co-author, with Dr. Patrick Clawson, of Eternal Iran: Continuity and Chaos (Palgrave Macmillan, 2005). Dr. Rubin served as political advisor to the Coalition Provisional Authority in Baghdad (2003-2004); staff advisor on Iran and Iraq in the Office of the U.S. Secretary of Defense (2002-2004); visiting lecturer in the Departments of History and International Relations at Hebrew University of Jerusalem (2001-2002); visiting lecturer at the Universities of Sulaymani, Salahuddin, and Duhok in Iraqi Kurdistan (2000-2001); Soref Fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy (1999-2000); and visiting lecturer in the Department of History at Yale University (1999-2000). He has been a fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, the Leonard Davis Institute at Hebrew University, and the Carnegie Council on Ethics and International Affairs.
The foregoing statement by Dr, Rubin was presented as testimony before the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Foreign Affairs (the Subcommittee on International Organization, Human Rights and Oversight and the Subcommittee on the Middle East and Central Asia), January 23, 2008, and can be found on the Internet website maintained by the Middle East Forum, a think tank which seeks to define and promote American interests in the Middle East, defining U.S. interests to include fighting radical Islam, working for Palestinian Arab acceptance of the State of Israel, improving the management of U.S. efforts to promote constitutional democracy in the Middle East, reducing America's energy dependence on the Middle East, more robustly asserting U.S. interests vis-à-vis Saudi Arabia, and countering the Iranian threat.
Africa: Black Africa *
Africa: North Africa *
American Government 1
LINKS TO PARTICULAR ISSUES & SUBJECT MATTER CATEGORIES
TREATED IN THE PROGRESSIVE CONSERVATIVE, U.S.A.:
American Government 2 * American Government 3 * American Government 4
American Government 5 * American Politics * Anglosphere * Arabs
Arms Control & WMD * Aztlan Separatists * Big Government
Black Africa * Bureaucracy * Canada * China * Civil Liberties * Communism
Congress, U.S. * Conservative Groups * Conservative vs. Liberal
Constitutional Law * Counterterrorism * Criminal Justice * Disloyalty * Economy
Education * Elections, U.S. * Eminent Domain * Energy & Environment
English-Speaking World * Ethnicity & Race * Europe * Europe: Jews
Family Values * Far East * Fiscal Policy, U.S. * Foreign Aid, U.S. * Foreign Policy, U.S.
France * Hispanic Separatism * Hispanic Treason * Human Health * Immigration
Infrastructure, U.S. * Intelligence, U.S. * Iran * Iraq * Islamic North Africa
Islamic Threat * Islamism * Israeli vs. Arabs * Jews & Anti-Semitism
Jihad & Jihadism * Jihad Manifesto I * Jihad Manifesto II * Judges, U.S. Federal
Judicial Appointments * Judiciary, American * Latin America * Latino Separatism
Latino Treason * Lebanon * Leftists/Liberals * Legal Issues
Local Government, U.S. * Marriage & Family * Media Political Bias
Middle East: Arabs * Middle East: Iran * Middle East: Iraq * Middle East: Israel
Middle East: Lebanon * Middle East: Syria * Middle East: Tunisia
Middle East: Turkey * Militant Islam * Military Defense * Military Justice
Military Weaponry * Modern Welfare State * Morality & Decency
National Identity * National Security * Natural Resources * News Media Bias
North Africa * Patriot Act, USA * Patriotism * Political Culture * Political Ideologies
Political Parties * Political Philosophy * Politics, American * Presidency, U.S.
Private Property * Property Rights * Public Assistance * Radical Islam
Religion & America * Rogue States & WMD * Russia * Science & Ethics
Sedition & Treason * Senate, U.S. * Social Welfare Policy * South Africa
State Government, U.S. * Subsaharan Africa * Subversion * Syria * Terrorism 1
Terrorism 2 * Treason & Sedition * Tunisia * Turkey * Ukraine
UnAmerican Activity * UN & Its Agencies * USA Patriot Act * U.S. Foreign Aid
U.S. Infrastructure * U.S. Intelligence * U.S. Senate * War & Peace
Welfare Policy * WMD & Arms Control
Africa: Black Africa *
Africa: North Africa *
American Government 1
POLITICAL EDUCATION, CONSERVATIVE ANALYSIS
POLITICS, SOCIETY, & THE SOVEREIGN STATE
Website of Dr. Almon Leroy Way, Jr.
A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
An Online Journal of Political Commentary & Analysis
Dr. Almon Leroy Way, Jr., Editor