According to Defense Secretary Panetta’s top policy aide, there’s a good chance that US forces could be heading back into Iraq sometime soon. That’s at least what the Associated Press is reporting today. The troops would not have a combat role, but would carry out training for Iraqi forces.It’s bad news that the Iraqis need the help, though hardly a surprise. The good news is that the Obama administration continues to work with Iraq on these sensitive issues. Iraqi politicians may have felt they needed the drama of showing the last US troops out the front door before inviting them back in through the kitchen. Having demonstrated its sovereignty, and seen that the US is serious and will in fact leave when asked, Iraq’s government may now be ready and able to work out the kind of agreement it needs.Again, from AP:
“The secretary believes that the Iraqi people have a genuine opportunity to create a future of greater security for themselves, and that senseless acts of violence will not deter them from pursuing that goal,” [Pentagon spokesman] Little said. “The United States remains committed to a strong security relationship with Iraq.”U.S. officials have said they aim to establish broad defense ties to Iraq, similar to American relationships with other nations in the Gulf, including Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Oman and Bahrain.
In Tehran, this will be more bad news. Pressure mounting on Syria, US forces potentially coming back into Iraq, China playing footsie with the Gulf states while snubbing Iran: the pressure to come to an agreement on the nuclear program is beginning to add up.The other place where the news of these talks is bad news: Howard Dean’s “Democratic wing of the Democratic Party.” The man the party left did so much to install in the White House, the man it hoped would lead a Reagan style Great Realignment that would install a liberal ascendancy in Washington for the next twenty years, is carrying out a foreign policy increasingly indistinguishable from the second term of George Bush. Guantanamo remains open while the US pursues a long term security relationship with democratic Iraq, preparing an indefinite extension of its military presence.