The permanent-occupation deal, reports the Washington Post, is capital-D dead. Unbearable pressures on Maliki have forced him to reject the Bush administration’s demands to own Iraq, and in its place will be a pact substituting for U.N. authority to keep troops in the country. A couple things need to be said here.

First, having lost the ability to control its proxy, Bush will sell the accord as an election-year stunt intended to end the war — something to help Maliki in the upcoming provincial elections just as it’s meant to help John McCain. Consider the following quote:

Maliki, who last week publicly insisted on a withdrawal timeline, wants to frame the agreement as outlining the terms for "Americans leaving Iraq" rather than the conditions under which they will stay, said the U.S. official, who like others spoke on the condition of anonymity because U.S.-Iraqi negotiations are ongoing.

The idea, he said, is to "take the heat off [Maliki] a little bit, to rebrand the thing and counter the narrative that he’s negotiating for a permanent military presence in Iraq."

So substantively the thing won’t end the war, but it will "rebrand the narrative." Note this as well:

According to U.S. officials, Maliki also hopes that a temporary protocol would circumvent the full parliamentary review and two-thirds vote he has promised for a status-of-forces agreement. "He is trying to figure out, just as we did, how you can set up an agreement between the two and have it be legally binding," one official said, "but not go through the legislative body."

That should be an enduring testament to the Bush administration. Along with its proxy in Baghdad, it intended to commit the U.S. to a long-term occupation of a foreign country while actively circumventing the voracious anti-occupation sentiment in both countries. There it is: red in tooth and claw. But that leads to the second point.

Namely: it failed. It failed. Not even a Bush administration unfettered by legislative resistance was able to force itself on Iraq in the way it wanted. Instead, the Post reports, the 2009 agreement will refer to U.S. troops leaving and U.S. diplomats leaving the massive imperial embassy. We win. The Iraqis win. They lose. al-Qaeda loses. They lost.

Bush will go to his grave not realizing that he might as well have been the 20th Hijacker given all he did during his presidency to strengthen al-Qaeda. He lost its leadership at Tora Bora. He gave it a rationale for transforming into something more virulent after the invasion of Iraq. He allowed it to reconstitute its old command structure in the Pakistani tribal areas. Way way back in 1998, during bin Laden’s declaration of global jihad, the evil one referred to what he described as U.S. intentions for Iraq:

If some people have in the past argued about the fact of the occupation, all the people of the Peninsula have now acknowledged it. The best proof of this is the Americans’ continuing aggression against the Iraqi people using the Peninsula as a staging post, even though all its rulers are against their territories being used to that end, but they are helpless.

Through his blindness, his incompetence, his pathetic smallness in the face of a very big enemy, Bush was the greatest gift bin Laden could have asked for. May Bush’s last years come in a CIA black site somewhere in eastern Europe, never to be acknowledged to the Red Cross, nor to Laura, to Jenna and Barbara or his grandchildren. And may his only companion in that hideous nightmare of his own creation be his cellmate, Usama bin Laden. Because today, they have lost and we have won.

Spencer Ackerman

Spencer Ackerman