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Iraq: Is the SOFA viable?

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The Status of Forces Agreement between the governments of Iraq and the United States comes with outrageous stipulations that render our troops helpless, subject them to Iraqi military tribunals, halt U.S. military operations, and turn vengeful detainees over to the Iraqis. So what is the point of leaving our troops there as potted plants for the next three years?

Anyone who thinks this SOFA is similar to that of the pacts we have with Germany or Japan is delusional. There will be no safe tours of the Iraqi countryside for our troops on R&R. The Bush Administration, in one of their last attempts to salvage some grain of positive legacy, pushed this "rush job" through so they can say: "look at how far the Iraqis have come, see, we really did liberate them." At the same time a bipartisan majority of Congress sat on their hands with the deer in the headlights look. Knowing it's going to blow up in the Obama Administration's face. You gotta love how politics works.

Mr. Obama has promised to initiate a firm time line for troop withdrawal which coincides with the SOFA. However, it won't be overnight -- it will take years. And if upon our exit from Iraq violence spikes, it is likely that the withdrawal plan will be replaced by a contingency plan that keeps our troops in harms way indefinitely.

According to the SOFA a system has to be established for Iraqi approval of all U.S. missions. Therefore, our military strategy over the next six months is to leave Iraqi cities and confine ourselves behind walls while waiting to be assigned approved missions by the Iraqi government. Every time U.S. troops leave their bases it will have to be cleared by the Iraqis -- even if they want to conduct a convoy to Kuwait for resupply purposes. Not to mention an actual combat mission to quell violence and find bad guys.

How many undercover insurgent cells currently plague the Iraqi police and security forces? When retired Marine General James Jones and then D.C. Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey conducted their trip to Iraq to evalute the Iraqi police they concluded that the Iraqi National Police Force is so sectarian and corrupt that the entire force should be disbanded and rebuilt from the ground up -- it never happened.

Next month we start the process of releasing approximately sixteen thousand Iraqi detainees in U.S. custody to the Iraqi government. We here in America have no clue who these people are. They may be actual anti-American killers or just Iraqi bystanders that were falsely identified as insurgents and locked up for the last 5 years. When released many Iraqi men may find that their homes have been destroyed and their family members killed. Will that provide sixteen thousand (a divisional size element) reinforcements to the Iraqi insurgency? It's very conceivable.

Our regular ground forces still apprehend 50 insurgents a day while our special forces teams apprehend approximately a dozen hardline terrorists. Under the SOFA, not only can't we apprehend them, we have to turn them loose to a corrupt Iraqi police force loaded with sleepers within forty eight hours.

What about the Iraqi detainees that will be considered "enemies of the state?" They'll be placed in brutal Iraqi detention camps where they're likely to be tortured and eventually killed on mere circumstantial evidence. If they're fortunate enough to be released further down the line don't expect them not to retaliate -- a perfect ingredient to jump start the abated Iraqi civil war.

If and when that happens, and the Iraqis authorize U.S. troops to restart military operations and innocent people are accidentally killed, Iraqi military tribunals reserve the right to prosecute our service people.

The Iraqi government can now try U.S. civilians and military personnel for crimes committed outside of U.S. bases and while "off duty." I can't envision a scenario that would place our military in an "off duty" status in a country as hostile as Iraq. Suffice it to say that our troops will be subject to the Iraqi criminal justice system every second of the day.

The Iraqi government, in an effort to further demonstrate it's sovereignty, reserves the right search and inventory all U.S. cargo entering the country. They will check off the boxes on exactly what resources they feel are acceptable for our military. So if a shipment of ordinance arrives in Kuwait and the Iraqis decide to conduct an inspection of a U.S. convoy carrying the shipment across the border and render a decision to confiscate our munitions will they allow us to turn it around or will they confiscate it, use it, or possibly turn it over to our enemies for them to use against our residual forces?

Silly us, we must have forgotten it's their country.

All for the bargain price of 3 billion dollars per week. What a beautiful mess.