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November 26, 2008
SOFA Text?By Greyhawk
Actually, McClatchy calls it an "unofficial translation from the Arabic".
There are some bits that are more interesting than others ("Iraqi airspace control and monitoring will be transferred to the Iraqi authorities immediately as this agreement becomes valid") but two points that have gotten the most discussion (and generated the most speculation) among those not involved in the negotiations are troop withdrawal and legal jurisdiction for U.S. troops and civilians. More on that jurisdiction later. From a quick glance: troops off duty and (not or) off post will be subject to Iraqi legal jurisdiction - but troops are never both.
As for the withdrawal part, here's Article 24:
One might wonder why this "All U.S. combat forces are to withdraw from Iraqi cities, villages, and towns not later than the date that Iraqi forces assume complete responsibility of security in any Iraqi province." Is immediately followed by this: "The withdrawal of U.S. forces from the above-mentioned places is on a date no later than the 30 June 2009." If the second phrase is taken at face value, the first is practically moot.
We'll see soon enough, I'm sure. What's certain is that President Obama's "16 months" must begin no later than a year from next September. In the meantime, let's look at Article 27:
Which (among other things) basically means that if the Iraqis ask and we agree, we can leave troops in (or move troops into) Iraq for purposes of training Iraqi forces, fighting terrorism and outlaw groups, or for (internal or external) threat deterrence - to include threats to political stability, Iraq's democratic federal constitutional system, elected establishment, etc. etc.
Assuming that McClatchy has provided an accurate translation (and honestly, the last paragraph quoted above makes no sense to me whatsoever) of the final version of the SOFA, and that it is approved by Iraq's parliament (perhaps today), then McClatchy's own analysis of the agreement is flawed:
President-elect Barack Obama's campaign plan to leave a residual force of some 30,000 American troops in Iraq would be impossible under the pact.
But kudos to them for acknowledging that often-"overlooked" minor detail of his plan.
And speaking of overlooked, don't overlook this: "The United States admits to the sovereign right of the Iraqi government to demand the departure of the U.S. forces from Iraq at anytime. The Iraqi government admits to the sovereign right of the United States to withdraw U.S. forces from Iraq at anytime."
Posted by Greyhawk / November 26, 2008 7:00 AM | Permalink
If you want the REAL lowdown on what is happening with the SOFA, go to The Mudville Gazette where Greyhawk has taken a close look at not only what it means, but very possibly what it doesn’t mean. Great Job Greyhawk! ... Read More
November 26, 2010
I think anyone who's ever pondered the "comment" option - once only available on blogs and bulletin boards, now ubiquitous on almost any web site - will appreciate this:
The so-called faculty of writing is not so much a faculty of writing as it is a faculty of thinking. When a man says, "I have an idea but I can't express it"; that man hasn't an idea but merely a vague feeling. If a man has a feeling of that kind, and will sit down for a half an hour and persistently try to put into writing what he feels, the probabilities are at least 90 percent that he will either be able to record it, or else realize that he has no idea at all. In either case, he will do himself a benefit.
That's wisdom from the past, captured for posterity at the US Naval Institute, shared via the web on the institute's 137th anniversary.
From their about page:
"The Naval Institute has three core activities," among them, History and Preservation:
The Naval Institute also has recently introduced Americans at War, a living history of Americans at war in their own words and from their own experiences. These 90-second vignettes convey powerful stories of inspiration, pride, and patriotism.
Take a look at the collection, and you'll see it's not limited to accounts from those who served on ships at sea, members of the other branches are well-represented.
I'm fortunate to have met USNI's Mary Ripley, she's responsible for the institute's oral history program (and she's the daughter of the late John Ripley, whose story is told here). She also deserves much credit for their blog. ("We're not the Navy nor any government agency. Blog and comment freely.") We met at a milblog conference - Mary knew (and I would come to realize) that milbloggers are the 21st-century version of exactly what the US Naval Institute is all about. Once that light bulb came on in my head, I mentioned a vague idea for a project to her - milblogs as the 21st century oral history that they are.
"Put that in writing," she said (of course - see first paragraph above!) - and here's part of the result.
Shortly after the first tent was pitched by the American military in Iraq a wire was connected to a computer therein, and the internet was available to a generation of Americans at war - many of whom had grown up online. From that point on, at any given moment, somewhere in Iraq a Soldier, Sailor, Airman or Marine was at a keyboard sharing the events of his or her day with the folks back home. While most would simply fire off an email, others took advantage of the (then) relatively new online blogging platforms to post their thoughts and experiences for the entire world to see. The milblog was born - and from that moment to this stories detailing everything from the most mundane aspects of camp life to intense combat action (often described within hours of the event) have been available on the web...
And et cetera - but since you're reading this on a milblog, you probably knew that. And you know that milblogs aren't just blogs written by troops at war, that many friends, family members, and supporters likewise documented their story of America at war online in near-real time, as those stories developed.
The diversity in membership of that group is broad, the one thing we all have in common is the impulse to make sense of the seemingly senseless, and communicate the tale - for each of us that impulse was strong enough to overcome whatever barriers prevent the vast majority of people from doing the same. Everyone at some point has some vague idea they believe should be shared - we were the people who, from some combination of internal and external urging, found and spent those many half hours persistently trying to write it down.
But where will all that be in another 137 years? Or five or ten, for that matter. That's something I've asked myself since at least 2004 - when I wrote this:
Membership in the ghost battalion has grown in the years since, and an ever growing majority of those abandoned-but-still-standing sites are vanishing. Have you checked out Lt Smash's site lately? How about Sgt Hook's? If you're a long-time milblog reader you know the first widely-read milblog from Operation Iraq Freedom and the first widely-read milblog from Afghanistan are both gone from the web. If you're a relative newcomer to this world you may never even have heard of them - or the dozens upon dozens of others who carried forth the standard they set down.
If you have a vague notion that something should be done about that, (a notion I've heard expressed more than once...) then you and I and the good folks at the US Naval Institute are in agreement. Preserving the history documented by the milbloggers is just one of the goals of the milblog project, the once-vague idea that we're now making real.
And it's a big idea, if I say so myself - too big to explain in one simple blog post, so stand by for more. Likewise, it's too big a task to be accomplished by just one person. So if you're a milblogger (and exactly what is a milblogger? is a topic for much further discussion on its own) I'm asking for your help. All I'll really need is just a little bit (maybe just one or two of those half hours...) of your time, and your willingness to tell the tale.
We've already made history, it's time to save it.
(More to follow...)
The Mudville Gazette is the on-line voice of an American warrior and his wife who stands by him. They prefer to see peaceful change render force of arms unnecessary. Until that day they stand fast with those who struggle for freedom, strike for reason, and pray for a better tomorrow.
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