Immunity Empire

The Daily Beast has a story about how, having withdrawn in 2011 from Iraq because it could not get immunity approved for US troops approved by Iraq’s parliament, the US will now be satisfied with an immunity deal signed only by Iraq’s Foreign Minister.

Yet this time around, Obama is willing to accept an agreement from Iraq’s foreign ministry on U.S. forces in Iraq without a vote of Iraq’s parliament. “We believe we need a separate set of assurances from the Iraqis,” one senior U.S. defense official told The Daily Beast. This official said this would likely be an agreement or exchange of diplomatic notes from the Iraq’s foreign ministry. “We basically need a piece of paper from them,” another U.S. official involved in the negotiations told The Daily Beast. The official didn’t explain why the parliamentary vote, so crucial three years ago, was no longer needed.

That the US is in a rush to forgo parliamentary approval is all the stranger given how many people are calling for Nuri al-Maliki to be replaced.

The Maliki government, candidly, has got to go if you want any reconciliation,” said U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein, Democratic chairwoman of the Senate Intelligence Committee.

Republican Senator John McCain, speaking in the Senate, called for the use of American air power, but also urged Obama to “make it make very clear to Maliki that his time is up.”

The Obama administration has not openly sought Maliki’s departure, but has shown signs of frustration with him.

“This current government in Iraq has never fulfilled the commitments it made to bring a unity government together with the Sunnis, the Kurds and the Shia,” Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel told the congressional hearing.

White House spokesman Jay Carney said Maliki had not done enough “to govern inclusively and that has contributed to the situation and the crisis that we have today in Iraq.”

He stopped short of calling for Maliki – in power for eight years and the effective winner of a parliamentary election two months ago – to resign. Asked if Maliki should step down, Carney told reporters: “That’s not, obviously, for us to decide.”

Even beyond the irony that we’re willing to accept immunity from a government we tacitly want to replace, take a few steps back and consider the plight of the late American Empire, in which we refuse to project our power unless we get immunity from those we’d like to project our power over first.

I get why the US won’t stay in Afghanistan and Iraq without legal protection. You can cite either their dysfunctional legal systems or you can cite all the crimes our troops committed during occupation, giving the state reason to demand jurisdiction. I’m not endorsing exposing our service members to Nuri al-Maliki’s concept of justice.

But it is an interesting approach to hard power, requiring immunity before exercising that power.

7 replies
  1. lefty665 says:

    Sorta like a pre-nup approach to power isn’t it? Being involved rather than committed.
    Perhaps Obama’s administrative grant of immunity to Duhbya et al has worked out so well, and relations with Congress so badly, that he sees the value in operating that way with Iraq too.
    Also an interesting approach to power is that we’re back talking to Ahmed Chalabi. What does the administration think, that for a few dollars more Chalabi will bring WMDs to the fight against ISIS?
    Is this another piece of Kerry’s “genius” at State? Or, perhaps Victoria Nuland isn’t the only Neocon left embedded by our intrepid crew of “Change=Same”.

  2. Don Bacon says:

    For the past twelve-plus years, since late 2001, military relations between the United States and Afghanistan have been governed by a two-page “diplomatic note” giving U.S. forces virtual carte blanche to conduct operations as they see fit.

  3. ArizonaBumblebee says:

    All of this brings to mind the rhyme of Humpty Dumpty and how all the kings horses and all the kings men couldn’t put Humpty Dumpty back together again. There is an uncomfortable reason why Iraq and Syria have experienced ruthless dictatorships since their independence from Ottoman rule nearly a century ago: gaping fractures in their polities make democratic governance almost impossible. (Please remember that the Baathists, who once ruled in both Syria and Iraq, once espoused pan-Arabism and social democracy.) As I understand it, Nuri al-Malaki was originally chosen as prime minister because he was acceptable to both the Americans and the Iranian-backed militias. If he is shoved aside by the Americans, his successor will immediately confront the same chasm that confronted his predecessor: irreconcilable differences between the Sunni and Shia communities. This is Northern Ireland on steroids, and I don’t see a ready solution. The historical grievances for these communities go back to the Seventh Century of the common era, and no politician or general in Washington is going to make the problem go away. We should have understood this before we invaded Iraq and before we started arming the rebels in Syria. The fools errand called the War in Iraq will haunt our foreign policy for decades to come just as our actions in that region are still haunted by the American-sponsored coup in Iran in 1953.

    • Don Bacon says:

      Sure there were differences but the two Muslim sects got along together with each other and with Christians. The US purposely exacerbated the Muslim difference which drove them against each other and also drove the Christians out of the country. The precipitating event was the US-abetted mosque bombing in Samarra Feb 2006.
      news report:
      Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said in Tehran on Sunday that he opposes U.S. intervention in Iraq, and strongly hinted that Iran will support Maliki for a third term as prime minister.

      “We don’t support any foreign interference in Iraq and we’re strongly opposed to U.S. interference there,” Khamenei said. (IRNA, 22 June)
      “The United States is dissatisfied with the result of elections in Iraq and they want to deprive the Iraqi people of their achievement of a democratic system, which they achieved without U.S. interference.
      “What is happening in Iraq is not a war between Shiites and Sunnis. Arrogant powers want to use the remnants of Saddam’s regime and takfiri (ISIL) extremists to deprive Iraq of stability and tranquility,” he added. “The real fight is between those who want to bring back a U.S. presence and those who want Iraqi independence,” Khamenei said.
      He’s correct. Three months after Samarra, Biden suggested Iraq be split up.

  4. Don Bacon says:

    “That the US is in a rush to forgo parliamentary approval is all the stranger given how many people are calling for Nuri al-Maliki to be replaced.”
    Forgoing parliamentary approval is well understood by the U.S. The two major US/Iraqi pacts that Bush negotiated with Maliki were held secret on the US side, with no Senate advice and consent of the two treaties, whereas on the Iraq side they went through parliament.
    Similarly in Afghanistan, the BSA was never seen by the US Senate but gained some public exposure in Kabul (for what it was worth).
    The treaty clause is virtually dead in the U.S. because of expanding “executive privilege.”
    As for the calls to replace Maliki, that is par for the course where the US valiantly helps “host countries” fight off “insurgencies” and the puppethost government never meets our standards.

  5. bloopie2 says:

    It’s clear from many statements that Obama does not want to get involved. I’m guessing the 300 are for “show” only, to mollify the warmongers for a while. And I think there won’t be any air strikes unless Baghdad is severly threatened, which doesn’t appear to be in the works.

    So there.

  6. Don Bacon says:

    It appears that it’s part of the US plan, which generally is divide-and-conquer, weaken and destabilize. This latest invasion has been ongoing for what, 5 or 6 months and the US hasn’t done diddly. It’s apparently part of the plan, to dismember Iran ally Iraq using US-supported jihadists (again).
    wiki – “Anbar Campaign” 2013-2014:
    Clashes in western Iraq began on 30 December 2013 when Iraqi security forces cleared up a Sunni protest camp in Ramadi. Tribal militias battled against the Iraqi Army. After the Iraqi Army withdrew from Anbar province to cool the situation on 31 December, militants from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS) occupied parts of the Iraqi cities of Fallujah and Ramadi, in the predominantly Sunni Al Anbar governorate. Following the arrival of ISIS, most tribal militias in Ramadi allied themselves with government forces to counter them
    But it could come back and bite the US, as ISIS may be looking at Jordan. The US has 1,500 troops there according to reports — Patriot battery, F-16’s and training mission. And Israel?
    Of course we have to factor in those 300 “advisors.” heh I bet they speak Arabic?

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