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This story is a week old now, but it’s been vexing me.

In case you ever doubted whether the U.S. presence in Iraq is an occupation, President Bush is hoping to write imperial privileges into Iraqi law before leaving office.

    With its international mandate in Iraq set to expire in 11 months, the Bush administration will insist that the government in Baghdad give the United States broad authority to conduct combat operations and guarantee civilian contractors specific legal protections from Iraqi law….
    The American negotiating position for a formal military-to-military relationship…also includes less controversial demands that American troops be immune from Iraqi prosecution, and that they maintain the power to detain Iraqi prisoners. […]
    In no other country are contractors working with the American military granted protection from local laws. Some American officials want contractors to have full immunity from Iraqi law, while others envision less sweeping protections. These officials said the negotiations with the Iraqis, expected to begin next month, would also determine whether the American authority to conduct combat operations in the future would be unilateral, as it is now, or whether it would require consultation with the Iraqis or even Iraqi approval.

What this means is that if the Bush administration gets its way, Americans will be untouchable under Iraqi law, whether they are in uniform or not. Meanwhile, American troops will have the authority to roam the country at will, engaging in combat and arresting Iraqis, answerable to no one except their commanders. Isn’t this the very definition of injustice?

Fortunately, this plan must first be approved by the Iraqi parliament, and if they have any dignity they will never allow it. It will be a test of their independence. Meanwhile, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton have joined forces in an effort to force President Bush to also get the approval of the American Congress. Bush is claiming the right to negotiate the deal on his own, without Congressional approval, even though it is a treaty—yet another breach of the Constitution.

I expect this deal will eventually fall apart, and it will be left to the next President to work out America’s long-term relations with Iraq. However, it makes me sad that such ideas are even proposed. When war in Iraq began, the Bush administration at least pretended to be liberators, not that anyone outside the U.S. believed it. Today, they claim absolute authority and absolute legal immunity within Iraq—a statement to the world that Iraq has no sovereignty whatsover.


Comment from Reb
Time: February 3, 2008, 19:43

The nerve of the Bush Administration is truly astonishing and I thought the days of overt imperialism were over.

Comment from Emma
Time: February 11, 2008, 17:34

As usual the whole subject is very worrying and suspect. Thanks for your articles, they are a good read.

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