Examining Iraq: Biden’s NYT op-ed

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Vice President Joe Biden wrote an op-ed piece for Saturday’s New York Times touting the recent agreement that Iraqi leaders have come to, remarking that

“Since the elections there in March, our administration has said that the Iraqi people deserve a government that reflects the results of those elections, that includes all the major blocs representing Iraq’s various communities and that does not exclude or marginalize anyone. That is what they will now have.”

This seems an especially rosy assessment given what has taken place in recent weeks, when a Sunni walk-out of parliament took place shortly after the agreement was established.  Most Iraqi politicians were able to get past this incident, yet the agreement is sill tenuous at best, and many would counter the Vice President’s view that this system will not marginalize certain groups, with or without American oversight.

Soon to be Prime-Minister-Designate Nouri al-Maliki seems bent on making Iraq’s political system one that will be set upon sectarian lines.  The agreement that was established among Iraq’s leading politicians is only a short term solution that fails to address key issues that will be of consequence in the new government.  If these problems are left unaddressed, one can be sure that infighting and corruption will continue unabated.  The fact that a government may about to be formed does not mean that it will govern effectively.  It also needs to perform services for its people, ensure security and enhance infrastructure.  The government has not yet proven it can do so, and if it is fragmented, then the likelihood will be that it will not live up the the grandiose expectations of those who influence foreign policy from their offices in D.C.

The op-ed is also interesting in that just a few months ago the Obama administration had seemed (publicly) to have washed its hands of the Iraq debacle. Will there be something contained within upcoming legislation that provides the impetus for an ongoing presence for U.S. troops in Iraq past 2011?  Defense Secretary Robert Gates has already hinted at this possibility, and  prominent Republican senator Lindsey Graham said recently in an interview with The Greenville News that

I think having a military presence to do training and to help provide internal security past 2011 would be a good investment.”

It would seem that coming developments in Iraqi politics (or lack-thereof ) will greatly influence this decision.

What We Must Do For Iraq Now – Joe Biden – New York Times


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