On Monday, U.S. President George W. Bush and Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki signed a “Declaration of Principles for a Long-Term Relationship of Cooperation and Friendship between the Republic of Iraq and the United States of America.”[1]  --  Though the neo-Orwellian document describes Iraq and the U.S. as “two fully sovereign and independent states,” Justin Raimondo commented:  “The idea is to transition over to a bilateral Iraqi-U.S. agreement that supersedes the U.N. framework and codifies the terms of the occupation in Iraqi law. . . . [W]e won't hear a peep out of the U.S. Senate or the House of Representatives, which doesn't at all mind being in recess while the president commits us to an open-ended occupation -- and America takes a giant step down the road to empire."[2] ...

1.

News and Policies

DECLARATION OF PRINCIPLES FOR A LONG-TERM RELATIONSHIP OF COOPERATION AND FRIENDSHIP BETWEEN THE REPUBLIC OF IRAQ AND THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
By George W. Bush, President of the United States of America, and Nouri Kamel Al-Maliki, Prime Minister of the Republic of Iraq

White House
November 26, 2007

http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2007/11/20071126-11.html

As Iraqi leaders confirmed in their Communiqué signed on August 26, 2007, and endorsed by President Bush, the Governments of Iraq and the United States are committed to developing a long-term relationship of cooperation and friendship as two fully sovereign and independent states with common interests. This relationship will serve the interest of coming generations based on the heroic sacrifices made by the Iraqi people and the American people for the sake of a free, democratic, pluralistic, federal, and unified Iraq.

The relationship of cooperation envisioned by the Republic of Iraq and the United States includes a range of issues, foremost of which is cooperation in the political, economic, cultural, and security fields, taking account of the following principles:

First: The Political, Diplomatic, and Cultural Spheres

1. Supporting the Republic of Iraq in defending its democratic system against internal and external threats.

2. Respecting and upholding the Constitution as the expression of the will of the Iraqi people and standing against any attempt to impede, suspend, or violate it.

3. Supporting the efforts of the Republic of Iraq to achieve national reconciliation including as envisioned in the Communiqué of August 26.

4. Supporting the Republic of Iraq's efforts to enhance its position in regional and international organizations and institutions so that it may play a positive and constructive role in the region and the world.

5. Cooperating jointly with the states of the region on the basis of mutual respect, non-intervention in internal affairs, rejection of the use of violence in resolving disputes, and adoption of constructive dialogue in resolving outstanding problems among the various states of the region.

6. Promoting political efforts to establish positive relationships between the states of the region and the world, which serve the common goals of all relevant parties in a manner that enhances the security and stability of the region, and the prosperity of its peoples.

7. Encouraging cultural, educational, and scientific exchanges between the two countries.

Second: The Economic Sphere

1. Supporting Iraq's development in various economic fields, including its productive capabilities, and aiding its transition to a market economy.

2. Encouraging all parties to abide by their commitments as stipulated in the International Compact with Iraq.

3. Supporting the building of Iraq's economic institutions and infrastructure with the provision of financial and technical assistance to train and develop competencies and capacities of vital Iraqi institutions.

4. Supporting Iraq's further integration into regional and international financial and economic organizations.

5. Facilitating and encouraging the flow of foreign investments to Iraq, especially American investments, to contribute to the reconstruction and rebuilding of Iraq.

6. Assisting Iraq in recovering illegally exported funds and properties, especially those smuggled by the family of Saddam Hussein and his regime's associates, as well as antiquities and items of cultural heritage, smuggled before and after April 9, 2003.

7. Helping the Republic of Iraq to obtain forgiveness of its debts and compensation for the wars waged by the former regime.

8. Supporting the Republic of Iraq to obtain positive and preferential trading conditions for Iraq within the global marketplace including accession to the World Trade Organization and most favored nation status with the United States.

Third: The Security Sphere

1. Providing security assurances and commitments to the Republic of Iraq to deter foreign aggression against Iraq that violates its sovereignty and integrity of its territories, waters, or airspace.

2. Supporting the Republic of Iraq in its efforts to combat all terrorist groups, at the forefront of which is Al-Qaeda, Saddamists, and all other outlaw groups regardless of affiliation, and destroy their logistical networks and their sources of finance, and defeat and uproot them from Iraq. This support will be provided consistent with mechanisms and arrangements to be established in the bilateral cooperation agreements mentioned herein.

3. Supporting 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.

The Iraqi Government in confirmation of its resolute rights under existing Security Council resolutions will request to extend the mandate of the Multi-National Force-Iraq (MNF-I) under Chapter VII of the United Nations Charter for a final time. As a condition for this request, following the expiration of the above mentioned extension, Iraq's status under Chapter VII and its designation as a threat to international peace and security will end, and Iraq will return to the legal and international standing it enjoyed prior to the issuance of U.N. Security Council Resolution No. 661 (August, 1990), thus enhancing the recognition and confirming the full sovereignty of Iraq over its territories, waters, and airspace, and its control over its forces and the administration of its affairs.

Taking into account the principles discussed above, bilateral negotiations between the Republic of Iraq and the United States shall begin as soon as possible, with the aim to achieve, before July 31, 2008, agreements between the two governments with respect to the political, cultural, economic, and security spheres.

2.

Behind the Headlines

ROAD TO EMPIRE
By Justin Raimondo

** An illegal treaty with Iraq seals our fate **

Antiwar.com
November 28, 2007

http://www.antiwar.com/justin/?articleid=11966

Is the U.S. going to occupy Iraq indefinitely, or will we withdraw our troops within the next year or so, as the majority of Americans would have it? President Bush and Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki don't care what Americans -- or Iraqis -- think or want: they've already settled the question by signing a "Declaration of Principles for a Long-Term Relationship of Cooperation and Friendship Between the Republic of Iraq and the United States of America" that commits American soldiers to the task of defending the present Iraqi government against internal enemies, as well as foreign-based threats to its sovereignty, either real or imagined. As the Declaration declares, the U.S. is tasked with:

"Supporting the Republic of Iraq in its efforts to combat all terrorist groups, at the forefront of which is al-Qaeda, Saddamists, and all other outlaw groups regardless of affiliation, and destroy their logistical networks and their sources of finance, and defeat and uproot them from Iraq. This support will be provided consistent with mechanisms and arrangements to be established in the bilateral cooperation agreements mentioned herein."

It's in this context that the Kyl-Lieberman resolution, enthusiastically supported by Hillary Clinton as well as the Bush administration, takes on special importance: having targeted the Iranian security force known as al-Quds, or the Revolutionary Guards, as an officially designated "terrorist" group, the American garrison is already authorized to take on Tehran. The road to war with Iran is paved, and we're ready to roll no matter who sits in the driver's seat.

The administration is denying that this is a treaty, which would need to be ratified by the U.S. Senate: it is, instead, a "strategic framework agreement" that just happened to be announced after Congress went into recess. Asked if the administration would seek any congressional "input" on the forging of this agreement, Lt. Gen. Douglas Lute, the administration's point man on Iraq, answered: "In the course of negotiations like this, it's not -- it is typical that there will be a dialogue between congressional leaders at the negotiating table, which will be run out of the Department of State. We don't anticipate now that these negotiations will lead to the status of a formal treaty which would then bring us to formal negotiations or formal inputs from the Congress."

Short answer: hell no.

Oh, they may solicit the complicity of the top Democratic leadership in both houses of Congress, to the extent of asking them not to make any waves, but essentially they'll do what they have always done in the hundred-plus countries where U.S. troops are currently stationed, and that is negotiate a Status of Forces Agreement, the essential element of which immunizes our soldiers from being prosecuted by local authorities for crimes against the natives. In this case, however, the scope of the agreement is a bit more comprehensive, encompassing economic and political elements, as well as the "security" factor, i.e., the military details of the continuing occupation, including U.S. troop levels and the construction of permanent American bases.

What stands out is the stated intention of the Iraqi government to give what news accounts describe as "preferential" treatment to U.S. investment in the country, which presumably means the vital oil production sector. One imagines that the bidding process is already taking place, with all sorts of sub rosa agreements being made to divvy up the country's potentially lucrative oil reserves.

For an administration ostensibly devoted to "free markets," this sort of crony capitalism is a disgrace. It is, in short, good old-fashioned imperialism of the sort embodied by the British East India Company.

So what are the Iraqis getting in return for allowing the wholesale looting of their natural resources? Fifty thousand U.S. troops stationed permanently in the country, mostly in urban areas -- the plan is for 14 "enduring bases," as we found out back in 2003. In spite of all the palaver about "foreign" threats, there is no doubt that we are now in the business of protecting the Iraqi "government" from their own people. In return, favored American corporate interests will be allowed to strip the country bare.

This agreement formalizes Iraq's status as a de facto U.S. protectorate, a province of the empire -- an American beachhead in a radically destabilized Middle East that could easily be used as a launching pad for future (and even more ambitious) wars of "liberation."

There's just one big problem for the War Party: the Iraqi constitution requires a vote by the Parliament in order to give the Status of Forces Agreement (or this preliminary declaration of intent) the force of law. And that looks problematic, at best, given the weakness of the Maliki regime. As Liwa Sumaysim, formerly tourism minister and now a member of the Iraqi Parliament from the fiercely nationalistic party of Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, put it: "The Iraqi parliament must have the final word on it."

Can the American Congress say the same? I think not.

The Americans are careful to cloak their illegal and increasingly untenable military occupation of Iraq in all sorts of pretensions to legality: they refer to the U.N. resolution, which sanctions Iraq as a "terrorist" state and a "threat" to "international peace." The Bush administration will go to the Security Council once again for a renewal of this formal mandate -- even though it declares, in effect, that Iraq remains a pariah among nations, which rankles the Iraqis. The idea is to transition over to a bilateral Iraqi-U.S. agreement that supersedes the U.N. framework and codifies the terms of the occupation in Iraqi law.

Whether the Iraqis will go for it, or the more nationalistic elements, such as the Sadrists, manage to stall approval of the declaration and derail the U.S.-Iraqi "negotiations" over the exact content of a future Status of Forces Agreement is a pretty even bet. What you can count on, however, is that we won't hear a peep out of the U.S. Senate or the House of Representatives, which doesn't at all mind being in recess while the president commits us to an open-ended occupation -- and America takes a giant step down the road to empire.

Neocon columnist Jonah Goldberg complains that "the word 'empire' substitutes for an argument; there are no good empires, just as there are no good fascists, or racists, or dictators." What he doesn't say is that this argument is only good in America: why, even the supposedly antiwar archbishop of Canterbury, as the denizens of National Review's "The Corner" recently noted, has hailed the alleged achievements of British imperialism as compared to the vulgar American version. The British routinely point to their imperial past as a source of pride, as do American Anglophiles. The French, the Spanish, and the Italians all revel in the supposed glory of their past conquests: it's only the Americans who disdain the very idea of having an empire, and, indeed, instinctively sense something profoundly un-American about the whole concept of Washington, D.C., as the capital of a global imperium.

That's what ordinary Americans think, at any rate: the élites, on the other hand, believe they are uniquely qualified -- and, indeed, have a duty -- to rule over the peoples of the world . . . for their own good, of course. To believe otherwise is to stand condemned as an "isolationist," a dreaded epithet reserved for any politician or public person who refuses to get with the program and dares challenge the fundamental assumptions upon which U.S. foreign policy has been built since the days of Harry Truman.

So you don't believe the U.S. has any business stationing its troops in 100-plus countries? What are you, some kind of isolationist dinosaur? Don't you realize that we have a moral obligation to be "engaged" in the world? It scarcely merits mentioning that this sort of "engagement" means a policy of perpetual war, and that, in particular, the neoconservative dream of a remade Middle East is a prescription for a regional conflict that would dwarf the current level of conflict in Iraq by several orders of magnitude. Which is why it is never acknowledged, at least in "mainstream" venues, yet that is the future being mapped out for us.

That Congress is in recess as this most important step is being taken is emblematic of our elected representatives' abdication in the foreign policy realm, and specifically of their constitutional duty to review and ratify -- or reject -- treaties. Yet their abstention is hardly a big surprise: after all, this is the same sorry collection of solons who stood passively by while we were lied into war, then complained that they didn't know, they couldn't help it, and it was all the Republicans' fault, anyway. This deft maneuver by the Bush administration will give the Democrats an ample out if and when they inherit the occupation. Our hands are tied, they'll cry, as their antiwar base demands a U.S. withdrawal. We must stand by our agreements, or else we'll be seen as unreliable. And, hey, what are you, anyway -- some kind of kooky "isolationist"?!

Of course, the Senate could reconvene, at the pleasure of Harry Reid, the Democratic majority leader, and debate, in an emergency session, the U.S.-Iraqi declaration and the prospect of a permanent U.S. presence -- but the Democrats (at the leadership level) don't consider this a matter of great urgency. To the Beltway crowd, Democrats as well as Republicans, the Empire is a fact of life, and -- when the balance sheet is drawn up -- a good thing. After all, who, other than themselves, is better qualified to run the world? And if you can't handle that, my friend, then you most certainly are one of those dreadful "isolationists."