Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Is This Good News or Bad?

From the WaPo, we have these two reports. First, we have the Iraqis pushing back real hard on the status of forces agreement. Next, we have Bush appearing to go slightly limp on the same subject. What's going on? Several possibilities:

First, it may be as simple as the US negotiators being idiots and as a result they're pissing the Iraqis off. This would be entirely consistent with the current ham-handed state of US diplomacy. (It'd be interesting to know whether the State Department is handling these negotiations or whether DoD is driving.) This is fixable but currently bad, as there's no guarantee that it will be fixed.

Second, this could just be a case of leaks in negotiations that aren't ready for prime time. Since these talks have been going on for a while, I suspect that this is not the explanation, but it's certainly easy for the media to take fairly mild disputes that are couched in overly-aggressive diplomatic language and hype them into a story.

Third, and most interesting, it may be that the Iraqis think that they can take over for real. They've had two or three stunning successes in the past few months (Basra, Sadr City, and it's now looking like Mosul is going pretty well) and they may feel that the American presence can be reduced more rapidly than the American military does. This is incredibly good news if they're right and pretty bad news if the Iraqis have overestimated their own capabilities.

Whatever the explanation, this bears watching.

No comments: