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I Started Something I Couldn’t Finish

If Oliver Stone were a better filmmaker, he would have used the current U.S.-Iraq basing negotiations as a device to show the Fates crushing Bush. The negotiations, while still not finalized, appear to be a compounded series of reversals. According to the New York Times, Bush has no choice but to cave to the Iraqi government "in ways that would have been unimaginable only months ago." There’s not just a "time horizon" for withdrawal, there’s a deadline.

The accord, which the Bush administration has been detailing in a series of briefings for lawmakers and their staffs, reflects several concessions to the Iraqi government. It lists specific dates for American forces to first move out of cities and then to leave Iraq, instead of the vague “aspirational” timelines for reductions of American forces that had been pressed by the Bush administration.

But while giving specific dates, the draft does state that these “date goals” could be changed by mutual agreement, and might be accelerated or delayed depending on the ability of the Iraqis to take over the security mission and on “the conditions.”

You know, all those things that for years Bush said would lead to disaster. Again, it’s not that Bush wanted to do this, it’s that his insistence on roping the Iraqis into what he thought would be a mechanism for indefinite occupation backfired ginormously. How ginormously? The draft specifically envisions an earlier-than-2011 withdrawal ("“United States forces shall withdraw from Iraqi territory no later than Dec. 31, 2011…"); Iraqis can prosecute U.S. troops in Iraqi courts (!) for "serious or premeditated felonies committed outside their official duties" — I guess that means recreational murder or something, which to my knowledge hasn’t happened — and the Iraqis will have "primary" jurisdiction over U.S. contractors.

Now, if Bush’s arguments over the last five years were right all along, then al-Qaeda has just won the war on terrorism. Terrorists everywhere are emboldened — they can’t get no bolder! They’re so bold they used to be called Crippled Youth! Iran is now the supreme leader of the world and your grandmother has entered into a long-term lesbian relationship. America has been ret-conned into having being founded on Islamic principles. Ward Churchill is teaching kindergarten and he’s showing a pornographic filmstrip. Wait, none of that is happening? You mean it was bullshit all along?

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Spencer Ackerman

Spencer Ackerman