(Part 2 of 2 – 11:30AM EST – promoted by Nightprowlkitty)
This should not pass unnoticed. McClatchy reports that Senator Obama’s spokesman yesterday layed out a clearer opposition to Bush’s Status of Forces Agreement than the Democratic Senate has so far done.
The point here is subtle but significant. The Washington Post, in tomorrow’s edition, is reporting that congressional lawmakers are objecting to Bush’s unilateral Status of forces agreement, but have so far not directly raised the issue of Congressional ratification — in other words, have not really challenged Bush. But this is false. Obama’s office did, as reported by McClatchy. In fact, Obama’s position is now directly in line with the position of the Iraqi parliament’s. Bush must agree to a weaked agreement or punt to the UN, and therefore to the next US Administration, for any agreement.
I am not one for optimism in matters related to Iraq, but this appears to be an actual positive and fairly concrete sign that Obama is not messing around.
First, let me quote from the Washington Post, on events in Washington. The White House is buckling to Iraqi parliament demands that the Status of Forces Agreement be weakened to increase Iraqi sovereignty. The US Congress is getting more vocal in their opposition, as well, but is not making any demand for a congressional vote on the Agreement, according to the Post.
In Washington, the White House hastily organized a closed-door briefing on Capitol Hill on Tuesday after Sens. Carl M. Levin (D-Mich.) and John W. Warner (R-Va.), the chairman and ranking minority member of the Armed Services Committee, respectively, demanded Monday that the administration “be more transparent with Congress, with greater consultation, about the progress and content of these deliberations.”
In a letter Monday to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Levin and Warner wrote that Congress, “in exercising its constitutional responsibilities, has legitimate concerns about the authorities, protections and understandings that might be made” in the agreements.
Although they have questioned the status of forces agreement’s contents, lawmakers have not raised the issue of its congressional ratification.
But that is apparently not true, as I mentioned.
Here is McClatchy:
Posted on Tuesday, June 10, 2008
By Leila Fadel and Warren P. Strobel | McClatchy Newspapers
BAGHDAD – A proposed U.S.-Iraqi security agreement that would set the conditions for a defense alliance and long-term U.S. troop presence appears increasingly in trouble, facing growing resistance from the Iraqi government, bipartisan opposition in Congress and strong questioning from Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama.
— snip —
A spokesman for Obama (D-Ill) said any long-term U.S. security commitment to Iraq must be subject to Congressional approval; alternatively the administration should seek an extension of the current UN mandate. Obama wants a new administration to make it “absolutely clear that the United States will not maintain permanent bases in Iraq,” said spokesman Bill Burton.
That last part, the call for the White House back down on Congressional approval or else punt, is very encouraging. It indicates that Obama may be readying a stronger stand in the Senate against Bush than we have seen so far. The point is that the spokesperson had no reason to say that unless Obama was going to carry through. The fact that stance, as stated by the spokesperson, is so much in line with the stance of the Iraqi parliament demand — that Bush back down or punt to the UN — indicates that Obama sees the chance to ratchet pressure on Bush from all sides.
This might all amount to nothing. When it comes to Iraq, I am never optimistic. But in recent days we have seen examples of Obama showing new strength in the Senate, now that he is head of the Democratic party as its Presidential nominee, and this may be the beginning of another show of that strength. Stay tuned.