Washington, D.C. â€“ In a setback to President Bush's unprecedented expansion of executive power, it appears that the White House may back off its effort to negotiate a binding, long-term bilateral agreement with Iraq that would include a security commitment to defend the country from external threats.
"It's not going to have a security guarantee," a senior administration official told CQ Today on Tuesday. The "security guarantee" statement appeared in the announcement because Iraqis wanted it on the table, the administration official said. But, he said, the United States does not believe it to be necessary. "We say, look, if you want a security guarantee, that will be a treaty, and a treaty will have to go to our Senate," endangering the whole agreement, he said.
"The administration underestimated the intensity of bipartisan opposition to a permanent U.S. presence in Iraq," said John Isaacs, Executive Director of Council for a Livable World. "Congress raised its voice against a security guarantee and that has produced some apparent success."
For detailed information on the risks of a permanent U.S. presence in Iraq, read the new Council for a Livable World fact sheet: "A Permanent Presence? Dangers of a Long-Term U.S. Security Commitment in Iraq."
On November 26, 2007, President Bush and Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki released a "Declaration of Principles for a Long-Term Relationship." This Declaration laid the groundwork for the two governments to forge a long-term bilateral pact, a draft of which is expected by July 31, 2008. The Declaration states that the United States will provide "security assurances and commitments to [Iraq] to deter foreign aggression against Iraq that violates its sovereignty and integrity of its territories, waters, or airspace." The Declaration also states that the Iraqi government is combating "terrorist groups, at the forefront of which is Al Qaeda, Saddamists, and all other outlaw groups."
President Bush also recently issued a "signing statement" suggesting the Administration is free to ignore congressional prohibitions against U.S. permanent bases or control over oil in Iraq.
"This language might require U.S. support for the Iraqi government against both external and internal security threats without regard for whether or not the Iraqi government has made efforts to address the sources of the threat," Isaacs added.
Isaacs concluded: "Congress should continue to monitor the upcoming U.S.-Iraqi negotiations and demand prior approval before any agreement can be implemented."