Wednesday, June 08, 2011

US To Remain In Iraq by Proxy (Or Otherwise)

That's the trouble when you're stuck between a clusterfuck and a hard place. One hardly needs a crystal ball to foresee the whole country going to hell in a hand basket the moment the US withdraws.

Assuming of course, the US is not ''invited'' by Maliki to maintain a presence there. Something which, as you can well imagine, ain't going to go down too well with al-Sadr and his Mehdi army.

U.S. Plans Private Guard Force for Iraq
State Department Prepares to Hire 5,100-Strong Security Detail and Take Over Military Hardware for After Army Leaves

WASHINGTON—The State Department is preparing to spend close to $3 billion to hire a security force to protect diplomats in Iraq after the U.S. pulls its last troops out of the country by year's end.

In testimony Monday before the Commission on Wartime Contracting, Patrick Kennedy, undersecretary of state for management, said the department plans to hire a 5,100-strong force to protect diplomatic personnel, guard embassy buildings and operate a fleet of aircraft and armored vehicles.

Underscoring the security risks in Iraq, five American troops were killed Monday in an attack in Baghdad, the largest single loss of life for the U.S. military there since April 2009.

Fewer than 50,000 U.S. troops remain in Iraq. Under a 2008 U.S.-Iraqi security agreement, all U.S. troops are supposed to leave the country by the end of the year, leaving behind only a small military office to oversee arms sales.

While U.S. officials have expressed a willingness to station a small residual force in the country, it is unclear if the Iraqi government will make the request, which faces strong opposition in Iraq.

A large U.S. diplomatic presence will remain, however, and the departments of state and defense are wrestling with how to provide security for the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad—which is a target of rocket attacks—and diplomatic outposts in the provinces.

As the military withdraws, Mr. Kennedy said, the State Department will rely on contractors to carry out a range of military-style missions that he said were "not inherently governmental," including providing emergency medical evacuation, operating systems to detect and warn against incoming rocket or artillery fire, or rescue diplomatic personnel under attack. more WSJ


How Not to Withdraw from Iraq
by Peter Van Buren
June 7, 2011.

Iraq? Where’s that? Most Americans no longer seem to know and evidently could care less, but don’t tell that to Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, various key military figures and Washington officials, or some of the neocons, warrior-pundits, and liberal war-fighters circling them. They continue to relentlessly promote Iraq as a mission-never-accomplished-but-never-to-be-ended experience. Somehow, two decades after our Iraq wars began, they still can’t get enough of them. Learning curve? Don't even think about it. It’s as if they’re trapped in that old Thomas Wolfe novel, You Can’t Go Home Again.

For more than a year now, a crew of lobbyists eager to abrogate the withdrawal agreement the Bush administration negotiated with the Iraqis have been dropping the broadest of hints. Should the Iraqis ask, they say, the U.S. military must stay in that country (whatever war-ending pledges President Obama might once have made). General Martin Dempsey, the newly appointed Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, is typical. Only weeks before the president picked him, he reaffirmed his support for “keeping American troops in Iraq beyond December if requested by Iraqi leaders.” And when Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki nonetheless continued to insist on sticking to an end of 2011 withdrawal date for all U.S. troops (and assumedly for emptying those monster military bases the Pentagon sank billions of dollars into), top Washington officials began pleading, wheedling, and undoubtedly pressuring him in all sorts of ways to change his mind. Now, he’s provisionally done so. more tomdispatch

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