another sham
May 26, 2004 9:15 PM   Subscribe

Thought June 30th was a real handover of power to the Iraqis? In a series of edicts issued earlier this spring, Mr. Bremer's Coalition Provisional Authority created new commissions that effectively take away virtually all of the powers once held by several ministries. ... The new Iraqi government will have little control over its armed forces, lack the ability to make or change laws and be unable to make major decisions within specific ministries without tacit U.S. approval, say U.S. officials and others familiar with the plan.
posted by amberglow (19 comments total)
Did anyone actually think handing over power to an incomplete, unrepresentative, unelected 'government' of a nation with no remaining infrastructure, no tradition of elective government, and massive internal religious/ethnic feuding was a good idea? I'm not thrilled we're going to lie about it and try to claim it is a real handover, but actually handing it over was not a real option either.
posted by louie at 9:32 PM on May 26, 2004

Yeah, with 138,000 U.S. troops there, how sovereign do you think they could be?
posted by mr_crash_davis at 10:01 PM on May 26, 2004

Indeed, crash. The penis of the American solder is the thing to watch. Once power over it has been safely transferred back to the stateside wives, we can call Iraqi sovereignty a reality.
posted by scarabic at 10:06 PM on May 26, 2004

some of those American soldiers have vaginas.
posted by birdherder at 10:37 PM on May 26, 2004

some of those American soldiers have vaginas.

Don't ask, don't tell.
posted by fatbobsmith at 11:28 PM on May 26, 2004

This situation will exist only until the election in 2005, right? Right? No, I didn't think so.
posted by dayvin at 11:51 PM on May 26, 2004

Tony Blair seems to be under the impression that after June 30th, coalition forces will only be able to operate with the permission of the Iraqi government, and will have to leave if asked to do so. George Bush disagrees. Someone here is wrong. I think I know who it is.
posted by salmacis at 12:54 AM on May 27, 2004

Neither is necessarily wrong, Salmacis.

At the present time the UK does not have a strategic headquarters for its military in Iraq - that's about to change. This will mean the UK can operate entirely independently of the US military in its southern area. It's primary relationship would then be with the Iraqi administration, not US Central Command.

In British eyes at least, the coalition will no longer exist. From Blair's public pronouncements, June 30th represents a complete shift in the legal status of the coalition's contributing countries; from that of a monolithic "occupying power" to something else, something dependent on the consent of an Iraqi administration and applying to each country individually.

In political terms, there's a similar desire for distance between the UK from the US. Considering the incredible frustration for Blair's government and the British contingent in Iraq of being associated with the US' heavy-handed tactics, Abu Ghraib etc. I doubt the UK will support any retreat from these pronouncements. If the US wishes to go wishy-washy on a real transfer of sovereignty, the UK is unlikely to follow.

Just as we currently see very different modes of post-conflict occupation, so it's very likely we'll see completely different forms of post-occupation "security assistance".
posted by pots at 1:40 AM on May 27, 2004

Thanks for that comment, pots. It's doesn't happen very often that I actually learn something from an Iraq thread here.
posted by fuzz at 2:02 AM on May 27, 2004

And what shall we call the puppet of a puppet?

There will be no significant transfer of power. Only the attempt to create the appearance. Kinda like how BushCo pretends to respect democracy after November 2000.
posted by nofundy at 4:31 AM on May 27, 2004

This is exactly what Britain did after WWI: pretend to hand over power to a local government while retaining all important decisions for itself. Result: the Iraqi army attacked them during WWII and they had to openly take over again.
posted by languagehat at 8:28 AM on May 27, 2004

So Blair is going to act independent of the US ... dealing instead directly with the US-appointed Iraqi puppet government.

/I believe in the *desire* to put distance between the UK and the US, but I also think that by now they are (he is?) in way too deep to start developing second thoughts.
posted by magullo at 9:07 AM on May 27, 2004

And what shall we call the puppet of a puppet? - nofundy
... pretend to hand over power to a local government - languagehat
... dealing instead directly with the US-appointed Iraqi puppet government - magullo

I accept there is a genuine risk of a puppet government. As the top-linked article suggests and as numerous recent precedents testify, there are good reasons to view every US action with scepticism. I really can't disagree with that sentiment. But (and this is a big but) US unilateralism in Iraq is considerably restricted these days. A year ago, when the second UN SC resolution was withdrawn by the US, UK and Spain, many saw the subsequent war as the death-knell to the organisation. Now however, with all the setbacks and misteps of the intervening period, the US-led coalition is utterly dependent on the world body. Unlike in 2003, UN assistance is not a "take-it or leave-it" luxury but the last lifeline for men with no other ideas. If Lakhdar Brahimi were to withdraw from Iraq - say because he couldn't work against US manipulation of his proposals - the coalition would be, in a word, fucked. They have no 'plan b' and Brahimi knows it. This doesn't mean the US is completely acquiescent, but it does give the UN man immense power to influence things and for the good. Puppets are really not likely under these circumstances.

In addition, any transfer of power, superficial or not, requires the veneer of legitimacy that only a UN SC resolution can provide. The anti-war scepticism of Russia, China and France will certainly be felt in the revision of the UK/US-proposed resolution. Unlike last year, the US-UK can't ignore the imput of the other veto-wielding powers. For this reason, real and significant changes to the balance of power and authority in the new Iraq resolution should be expected.

But even taking the worst case scenario - the Coalition being able to cherry-pick the new government and severely limiting its powers - precedent suggests this would be a less than successful method of control. Chalabi, the neocon pinup penned in as future President and the recipient of $30m+ in aid, has spent the last six months criticising the US and increasingly stressing his independence. Similarly the IGC made public its disquiet over the Fallujah tactics and, given a veto-power over military operations would certainly have used it. Even supposed allies and 'safe' appointees are doubtful 'puppets'.

There is a good reason for this and one that should inspire some hope. This is the pragmatic recognition by any Iraqi politician worth his salt, that close association with the foreign occupation is political suicide. In the critical months ahead, this indisputable fact will certainly explain many of the words and actions of the incoming administration, even the most craven, politically ambitious stooge. In short, it seems likely that vocal disagreement and noisy assertion of independent authority will characterise the interim government's relations with the US-led coalition. It is the surefire route to political legitimacy among the wider Iraqi nation. We see such assertiveness already: from the current Iraqi Secretary of Defence over troops and from the whole IGC over the proposed UNSC Resolution. However much the US attempts to preordain the nature of the new government, they cannot legislate against Iraqi political necessity, let alone against differences of opinion. In the long run, this is certainly a good thing.
posted by pots at 10:36 AM on May 27, 2004

some of those American soldiers have vaginas.

Right you are. I'm sorry.

Substitute "genitalia" and "spouses" for "penis" and "wives." If you're feeling adventurous, go for "dangly bits" and "ball and chain."
posted by scarabic at 12:23 AM on May 28, 2004

And, thank G-D that's the case. Iraq should be a US protectorate for, at least the next five years. Certainly at least until we finish replacing the government of Syria, and taking out Iran's nuclear infrastructure. And possibly, until we've finished bombing North Korea.
posted by ParisParamus at 5:59 AM on May 28, 2004

Heute Deutschland, morgen die Welt!
posted by languagehat at 6:52 AM on May 28, 2004

Don't forget the planets, Paris; we have to go claim some more turf on the moon before the Chinese get to it.
posted by Mars Saxman at 8:39 AM on May 28, 2004

Thank G-D, as well, that Metafilter is a voluntary Leftist pacifist ghetto with little or no connection to sane political thinkers.

Hope you all leave the country when Kerry loses in a landslide in November.
posted by ParisParamus at 11:33 AM on May 28, 2004

iraq council selects iyad allawi for PM
If confirmed by the US, his appointment would mark a significant victory for the former exiles who dominate the Governing Council. Crucial to the legitimacy of the prime minister will be the endorsement of Ayatollah Ali Sistani, the leading Shia cleric in Iraq.

Mr Allawi's nomination represents a victory for the CIA and US State Department in a shadowy struggle with the Pentagon over control of policy in postwar Iraq. Mr Allawi is considered a protégé of the CIA, while his arch-rival, Ahmad Chalabi, was backed by the Pentagon.
it's just an interim position tho -- elections are supposed to be held in january -- so i don't understand the allusion to a "shadowy" power struggle at all, unless i'm missing something :D like i'd think whoever sistani endorses will likely be PM, and the power behind the throne as it were would be sistani, and from what i hear, he sorta is already calling the shots anyway. it'd be unlikely for allawi to stay on, since he's seen by iraqis as an outsider and secular. altho, from the post:
The nerve center of the U.S. presence in Iraq will be a massive new embassy. CPA officials recently decided that most employees of the new embassy will remain in a former palace used by Saddam Hussein even though the building is seen by many Iraqis as a symbol of Iraqi sovereignty . . . The U.S. plans to convert a nearby building into the formal embassy that incoming U.S. ambassador John Negroponte can use for ceremonial functions.
certainly smells a little bit fishy!
posted by kliuless at 2:53 PM on May 28, 2004

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