"If I were a betting man, we’ll reach an agreement with the Iraqis," Bush said. "Of course, we’re there at their invitation. It’s a sovereign nation … We’re going to work hard to accommodate their desires. It’s their country."
The deal would provide a legal basis for the presence of U.S. forces in Iraq after a U.N. mandate expires. Bush said the agreement would not commit future U.S. presidents to any troop levels in Iraq and would not establish permanent U.S. bases.
Bush’s upbeat assessment came as Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki declared Friday that talks with the U.S. on the deal were deadlocked, as Sunni and Shiite preachers spoke out against a plan that would enable American troops to remain in Iraq after year’s end.
Al-Maliki said negotiations will continue, but his tough talk reflects Iraqi determination to win greater control of U.S. military operations after the U.N. mandate expires at the end of the year. Failure to strike a deal would be a major setback for Bush ahead of the November presidential election." AP
No. Failure to strike a deal would be a major setback for McCain.
A policy wonkista asked me at a meeting last week (I know. I know. I was there too. So what does that make me?) if the Iraqis could not simply say no and set a date at which they want the US to have its forces out of the country.
The answer is – yes. They could do that. They could do it if they could muster up the courage and unity to do it in spite of their massive internal devisions and the blandishments of people like Petraeus, Crocker and Satterfield. You can be sure that a myriad of seductions is being served up for the purpose of getting an agreement before the end of the summer.
At the same time voices from across the region and the Islamic World are whispering in silence that to agree to long term "partnership" with the Americans is treason to Islam and to the Arab People. The implied long term price for such "treason" will be perceived as high.
I would bet on the effectiveness of the blandishments, rather than the whisperings. pl