Saturday, 28 August 2010

Withdrawal from Iraq - an In-depth Study, Part 1-2

On Thursday 19.08.2010, the last US combat brigade left Iraq according to Al Jazeera. This is a part of the SOFA agreement and existing policies of the Obama administration (viii, ix) which leaves 50.000 US troops in an advisory role, to be finally withdrawn by December 2011.

In April 2009 I wrote a policy paper recommending a withdrawal along these lines. It was merely intended to be informative and might serve in such a capacity as the next phase "Operation New Dawn" is initiated. Please notice that the paper is to be read as based on the available intelligence and published information at the time of writing.

The paper will be published in two instalments, the first concerning the withdrawal itself and the second historical and political background.

Withdrawal from Iraq
an in-depth study

Part 1 - Executive Summary
Part 2 - Policy Recommendation
• 2.1. The proposed policy
• 2.2. Current policy
• 2.3. Argument for the new policy

Part 1 – Executive Summary

• The policy proposes a complete and responsible withdrawal of US troops from Iraq by December 2011.

• Conditions in the region favours a withdrawal and US goals in the region are achieved.

• The main effect of the implementation of the policy will be improved international relations.

• The policy is expected to meet little opposition as the legislation is passed and there is a governmental consensus on the issue.

Part 2 – Policy Recommendation

2.1. The proposed policy

At the time of writing, the US is engaged in a war in Iraq, one that has dragged on for 6 years. The war has suffered from mission creep and while international backing was originally low, even US public opinion has turned against further commitment in Iraq (i). As a candidate for presidency, the President promised to responsibly withdraw troops from Iraq within 16 months of his inauguration, and this memorandum explores issues related to this withdrawal and in particular pertaining its degree of responsibility (ii).

This memorandum proposes a policy of complete US military withdrawal from Iraq within a maximum timeframe of 35 months from the presidential inauguration. There are four key aspects of this policy; the extent of the withdrawal, the timeframe within which to operate, the state of Iraq upon complete withdrawal and the nature of future US-Iraq relations. The further aim of this policy will be an improvement of international relations, chiefly to NATO allies and the UN but also to the Arab and Muslim world. As an added benefit the policy will disentangle the US from a conflict which has created an additionally increased domestic resentment. Coupled with the President’s energy security agenda for achieving energy independence, the policy will attempt to limit US unilateral political, military and economic involvement in the region, though still keeping its role as an honest broker. This role should preferably be filled with UN backing, emphasising the need for improved international relations. This aim should be achieved through a responsible withdrawal combined with an extended inclusion of Iraq in the US foreign aid programme and a more prominent UN role. However, to coax the UN into this role, the US must signal a renewed effort towards multilateralism. Therefore, the argument for this policy will focus on security, economy, international relations and democracy (iii).

How should the US proceed to achieve this aim? At present, there are 142.000 US troops deployed in Iraq, according to the Department of Defense (iv). In addition, there are several private contractors (like Blackwater with their 20.000-30.000 employees (v)) who are subject to licensing by the Iraqi government as well as the State Department (vi). These will be withdrawn on a case to case basis. Finally there are about 4000 British troops in Iraq, however this memorandum will limit itself to discussing the suggested policy, which only affects US troops (vii). The 142.000 US troops should be withdrawn entirely by December 2011 in accordance with the US-Iraq SOFA at a pace as advised by the Department of Defense (viii). It is advisable, and indeed favoured by military analysts, that US troops leave Iraqi cities by the summer of 2009 and Iraq no more than a year later, leaving only a residual force of 30.000-50.000 to advise the Iraqi government and military and conduct counter-terrorism (ix). This force should be withdrawn by December 2011 (in accordance with the SOFA) thus successfully implementing this policy within the suggested timeframe.

The challenges an implementation of this policy will face are mainly pertaining to regional security. Will a democratically elected Iraqi government be able to sustain and enforce democratic institutions in the face of internal and external enemies, these chiefly being al Qaeda and other sub-state sectarian groups? To what lengths should the US go to prop up and secure economic involvement and the government in Iraq without creating regional resentment against such an intended regional pillar of Arab democracy, thus creating obstacles for its spread? These issues will be addressed in this memorandum.

2.2. The Current Policy

Following the 9/11 terrorist attacks US foreign policy towards the region changed dramatically. Within a month the invasion of Afghanistan was launched and a new set of foreign policy principles started to emerge. New terms such as the “War on Terror” and the “Bush Doctrine” were soon coined and used frequently. Reshaping US foreign policy to counter a not so new though dramatically expanded threat of terrorism, the Bush administration had to adopt an increasingly aggressive militarist approach to foreign policy in the region, later to be coupled with a damaging unilateralism. The new foreign policy had to target subnational, viral pockets of hostility and an untraditional and diverse enemy.

To understand the Bush administration’s policy towards Iraq, it is necessary to grasp the implications of the Bush Doctrine. Most major US foreign policy doctrines are connected to major foreign policy events to specific presidents; the Truman Doctrine was a response to Communist encroachment, the Nixon Doctrine was a response to the mounting costs of the Vietnam War and the Eisenhower Doctrine of intervention was a response to the notion of Soviet encroachment during Suez Crisis. The Bush doctrine bears some resemblance to the latter of these. It was presented in a publication by the National Security Council a year after the attacks of 9/11 and is a realist, liberal theory based on primacy . It aims to counter terrorist threats to the US by striking at potential enemies and their supports preemptivly and assisting what the strategy calls “failing states” by regime change and spread of Democracy (xi). The doctrine not only spans a wide and vague area of objectives but it also puts a tremendous obligation on the US to counter a wide array of what statements of the brand above defines as enemies of the state.

Initially, the regime change and spread of Democracy seemed inferior to the need for a swift show of force, determination and deterrence. However, with a more explicitly coined Bush Doctrine, this became a major guideline in Iraq making the invasion the first test of the doctrine. Harking back to the Truman Doctrine and Kennan’s theories of containment, promotion of regime change had become a sporadically applied method of conducting foreign policy, especially in the Middle East and Persian Gulf region. The Clinton presidency saw this policy shead the old, outdated baggage of containment and redefine as well as apply regime change (xii). Armed with “The Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq Resolution of 2002” the Bush administration lead its “coalition of the willing” without UN support into Iraq charging Saddam Hussein of possession of weapons of mass destruction (WMD), links to al Quaeda and to the 9/11 terrorist attacks (xiii). All these claims were later disproven, but the regime change was completed with the former dictator being executed for genocide. The first post-Saddam general election was held in late 2005 and provincial elections shortly after the US presidential inauguration in 2009.

With regard to prevention of further terrorist attacks on the US, its citizens and/or interests the doctrine states that “the United States will, if necessary, act preemptively in exercising [their] inherent right of self-defense” (xiv). Clay Ramsay, whose polling forms part of the basis for this paper, as well as most encyclopedic dictionaries defines the term of preemptive act as one in response to an imminent threat, whereas a preventive act is one in response to a possible, though not imminent attack (xv). Therefore the mandate of the Bush Doctrine is strikes at immediate threats, such as al Qaeda cells harboured by the Taliban of Afghanistan were percieved to be. The “Operation Iraqi Liberation” or invasion of Iraq, however, was as we shall see a preventive war, and so it was the departure from the guidelines of the doctrine which to some degree caused the drop in public and international support for US foreign policy and the soaring level of unilateralism.

Following the invasion of Iraq and fall of Saddam, the Bush administration’s foreign policy focused on increasing security by countering the insurgency by amongst others al Qaeds, then for the first time appearing in Iraq. Although the Bush Doctrine to some extent favours non-military intervention, it is widely connected to military sanctions such as the war in Afghanistan and Iraq as well as the surge of 2007, which greatly decreased sectarian violence (xvi). Further foreign policy events of 2007 were a US-Iraqi agreement to allow US companies to take an active part in the rebuilding of Iraq and the president’s veto of a war-funding bill which would have meant withdrawal from Iraq (xvii). The rebuilding effort in the former included private contractors such as CACI, Titan, Blackwater and K.B.R.-Halliburton whose presence and affiliation with the US government lead to widespread controversy (xviii). Finally, as the UN mandate for US military presence in Iraq expired by the end of 2008, Bush signed a status of forces agreement (SOFA, an executive agreement) with Iraq, committing the US to effectuate a complete withdrawal from Iraq by the end of 2011. This agreement is further elaborated in section 2.1 and 3.3.

Critique and defense of the present policy

During the Gulf war then chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Colin Powell implemented what was to be dubbed the Powell Doctrine. Based on the lessons of the Vietnam War, this stated, among other criteria, that in order to ensure success and minimize loss US military deployment should have a clear aim and purpose, a clear exit strategy to avoid mission creep and strong public support (xix). Due to the opposition between then Secretary of State Powell and neo-cons and warhawks in the cabinet, and fuelled by fear of WMD in particular, the Bush administration chose to disregard the doctrine. Despite this, the criteria correspond to the main charges against the present policy and could consequently serve as the counts upon which their foreign policy towards Iraq had to be defended.

Regarding the first criterion, the aim of the invasion was to topple Saddam and introduce democracy thus stabilizing the region. However, the aim and purpose of the policy was critisised for not being clear or accurate enough, and the criticism mounted as US military presence in Iraq outlasted all estimates. The three reasons for entering Iraq, as presented in The Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq Resolution, were the Bush administration’s main defense for this policy.

Saddam was thought to possess weapons of mass destruction. However, a study based on "The Operation Iraqi Freedom documents", 48 000 boxes of captured documents, audio- and videotapes and interviews with captured Iraqi officials, concluded that Saddam did not possess any WMD of military significance (those in his possession being leftovers from the early 90's). This study, "Iraqi Perspectives Project", was commissioned by the US Joint Forces Command and concluded that the dictator’s reason for being vague on this topic was a concern for threats to his regime from neighbouring states and fractions within Iraq (xx). Thus the clarity of this purpose was severly questioned.

Also, Saddam’s links to al Qaeda proved to be a red herring. Intelligence did not support the allegation of an operational cooperation between Saddam and al Qaeda, and The Senate Select Committee on Intelligence report of June 2008 concluded that statements to this effect made by the President and Secretary of State were “not substantiated by the intelligence" (xxi). However, Saddam did have links to an array of smaller terrorist groups, such as the Hamas and Hezbollah, which may have rendered the purpose some validity, but the dictator was a secular ruler who regarded militant Islam as a threat to his authority (xxii).

With no link to al Qaeda there could be no link to 9/11 either, and mission creep was now a reality, failing to fulfil the second criterion of the Powell Doctrine. This was justified by the Bush administration on the grounds that Iraq was not yet able to sustain itself politically and militarily (xxiii). Thus the justification of the foreign policy shifted to the second pillar of the Bush Doctrine, the spread of democracy. This agenda was the only really applicable one, as the US already were heavily entangled in Iraq and any withdrawal at that stage would achieve very little in terms of public support, military and foreign policy political prestige. The three reasons of the “Authorization” were the basis on which the US departed from UN policy and started their unilateralist run, and defending continued presence by referring to the spread of democracy would have a better ring in the ears of the international community. This was also the reason for Bush’s 2007 veto.

The spread of democracy also struck a note with a war-weary public. Following 9/11, international society had gravitated towards executive foreign policy as a rally point in time of crisis. However, as the political stakes got higher and as foreign policy issues such as US presence in Iraq was considered to lie closer to national security than to the interests of international society, the more unilaterally the US acted. It could do so due to domestic public support, congressional support and fear, but as time wore on the executive, whose foreign policy had been a channel of appraisal and support, became a channel of critique (xxiv). By the time of the signing of the SOFA, Iraq had become a hot potato, although democratic development had allowed for some public support of US presence in Iraq.

2.3. Argument for the new policy

During his run for presidency, the President used the withdrawal from Iraq as a political argument. Indeed, his election promise states that:

"Military experts believe we can safely redeploy combat brigades from Iraq at a pace of 1 to 2 brigades a month that would remove them in 16 months. That would be the summer of 2010 – more than 7 years after the war began" (xxv)

Tapping into domestic and international sentiment, the President committed himself to ending US involvement in Iraq. He therefore has an obligation to his voters to follow through on his election promise. In addition to this, the President has repeatedly during his senatorial careeer opposed involvement and favoured withdrawal from Iraq, and this election promise therefore fits his political and electorial base (xxvi). His is a very specific election promise; it clearly states the properties in terms of temporal and physical dimensions its fulfilment should possess. Any considerable divergence in timeframe or extent will diminish the sense of executive accountability both domestically and internationally. Following the Bush presidency and the decline in public support for and prestige of the executive office, the implementation of an effective policy to effectuate the process of fulfulling this election process is vital both to the office of President domestically and, as we will see below, to the international perception of US executive consistency. Below I will argue the soundness of this policy by looking at aspects concerning national and regional security, economy, international relations and the spread of democracy.


Before the 2000 presidential election Condoleezza Rice pointed out that "[the military] is not a political referee. And it is most certainly not designed to build a civilian society" (xxvii). This implies that before a withdrawal can be deemed what the President in his election promise called responsible, issues of regional and national security has to be resolved. The major issue for regional security is whether the Iraqi government is able to sustain itself militarily against domestic and foreign threats (which used to be former president Bush and several conservatives’ main concern). Several central analysts and politicians have made statements to this effect. By 14 January 2009 coalition forces had trained 550 000 Iraqi Security Service (ISS) personnel, 4 per coalition soldier and the chairman of the Iraqi parliament's defence committee, Abbas al-Bayati, claimed that they had “the ability to deploy any needed troops to any hot area in Iraq [and were] capable of controlling the situation in the country" (xxviii). Defence ministry spokesman Major General Mohammed al-Askari concurred, but emphasised a continued reliance on US intelligence and air support (xxix). Indeed, these are, as mentioned in 2.1, some of the units scheduled to be the last to leave Iraq. This view is backed up by representatives of the coalition forces. In a Defense Department press release as early as November 2008 coalition spokesman U.S. Army Brig. Gen. David Perkins and Brig. Johnny Torrens-Spence of the British army, deputy commander general of Multinational Security Transition Command Iraq, seemed to hold Iraqi defense in high regard citing the reduction of attacks, casualties and enemy capabilities as proof (xxx). Indeed, it is a testimony to the efficiency of the ISS that the recent provincial elections were held without any considerable violent disturbances and Iraqi security forces increasingly prove themselves able to cope with any insurgency. Furthermore, there is another benefit of transferring the responsibility for keeping the peace in Iraq. Any civil unrest will be directed at or handled by representatives of the perpetrator’s own country, and the lesser the sheen of foreign influence the better. As the UK Secretary of State for Defence put it; "It is one thing for a nationalist Shi’a militiaman to shoot at a [coalition] soldier whom he perceives as an occupier. It is quite another for him to shoot a soldier wearing the uniform of his own country." (xxxi)

As the ISS is found to be increasingly able to avert violence many issues of US national security is resolved, as al Qaeda presumably should be unable to gain influence or launch attacks against the US or US personnel from Iraq. The increased safety of US personnel is confirmed by the decreasing death toll, with hostile death toll below half the average for 2008, and with 12 soldiers dying from accidents and just 4 by hostile action as well as a decrease in Iraqi civilian deaths in Jan. 2009, the Iraq War seems to be all but over (xxxii). Furthermore, a decrease in troop levels might be beneficial to national security as lesser contact with US forces breeds lesser ill will towards the US. Following the Cold War, neo-isolationists claimed that this was a perfect opportunity to return to a non-interventionist foreign policy, and it seems that a withdrawal, which would fit this category, would decrease the terrorist threat to national security by reducing military presence and political restraint in the region (xxxiii). Neo Conservatives argue that a withdrawal of troops would encourage terrorist expansion in Iraq, and cite the recent flare of violence in Mosul. However, violence in general has declined and a peak upon withdrawal is nigh unavoidable. Furthermore, withdrawal removes some of the motivation for terrorist expansion and support for such groups. Finally, the SOFA opens up for the return of US troops on the request of the Iraqi government and the risks of withdrawal might well be outweighed by its boons . Indeed, some other boons can be drawn from national security in implementing this policy; a stable relationship to a democratic, oil producing Arab country and achieving a sense of domestic and international unity and common purpose in reshaping foreign policy to focus on one main opponent, presumably Afghanistan.


In 1993, then National security adviser Tony Lake claimed that “Democratic enlargement has economics at its heart” (xxxiv). Indeed, most economic issues of interest to the suggested policy of withdrawal following this “democratic enlargement” have to do with expansion of free trade and the rebuilding of Iraq. Legally, the Iraq Liberation Act of 1998 among other things gives the President powers to implement policies that include the provision of assistance to the rebuilding of Iraq, and also the SOFA opens for introduction of international economic actors in Iraq (xxxv). Some of this task falls on the State Department, more specifically the USAID and Department of State governance programs, but some will be and is being outsourced to private contractors (see ch.2.2) as the Congressional Budget Justification for Foreign Operations FY2009 states that:

"…building and sustaining infrastructure will no longer be a substantial element of the U.S. foreign assistance strategy for Iraq. The Iraqi Government is expected to continue significant capital budget investments while the United States assumes a greater advisory role and provides support for economic and political reforms." (xxxvi)

What is expected to recieve funding through the budget is the Iraqi-American Enterprise Fund, a trust fund initiated by the Bush administration, though funding is pending congressional approval. This targets Iraqi enterprise and opens for private investment, and through microfinance loans programs, foreign banks will invest in Iraq’s largest employer, agriculture, thus gaining implicit political influence (xxxvii). With regard to the currently government sponsored private contractors, at present rebuilding Iraqi infrastructure, a separate policy will have to decide whether to keep them on government payroll as advisory agents, pull them out or cut them loose, possibly allowing them to enter Iraqi service. However, it is advisable to pull these out with the last troops as this will be in accordance with the above statement and avoid leaving US interests and citizens prone to danger demanding military intervention (see “International Relations” below).

This expansion of the free market traditionally goes down well with the Republican South and West, providing a continuity across executive schisma. Throughout the 20th century, historians claim, the US’ main foreign policy goal has been the spread of capitalism in order to expand this free market for the spread of American goods, though Marxist historians see this as a sign of domestic economic weakness, claiming the need for foreign resources is due to failures in capitalism itself (xxxviii). It is true that the US oil consumption and the need for stable relationships to stable oil producing countries has been the main driving force for US activities in the Middle East. With both petroleum consumption and prices rising, this is not only a political and economical problem but also an environmental one (xxxix). However, this may partly be remedied through the administration’s environmental agenda in combination with the present financial crisis. Programs to expand the electric grid and bail out car manufacturers not only creates jobs but also gives government leverage to have industry implement environment-friendly technology such as hybrid cars, reducing dependence on petroleum. This reduces the US’ economic dependence on oil producing countries in the Middle East (another soaring graph (xl)) and therefore their need for political or economic interference in the region (xli).

It is quite clear that in the wake of the withdrawal there must remain some degree of US support for the Iraqi government and this will largely have to be of an financial character in order to reestablish Iraqi political and financial infrastructure. The withdrawn support for Afghanistan following the Afghan-Soviet war in the 1980s left the country a breeding ground for anti-American sentiment, political sectarianism and subversion and ripe for terrorism. Condoleezza Rice emphasised that the military in itself was not suitable for recunstructing a civilian society and although Powell was confident the US could topple Saddam Hussein unilaterally he doubted their ability to single-handedly rebuilt his country. Therefore this support has to be coupled with a multinational effort, and the withdrawal of troops may increase the political currency needed to munster this support.

International relations

The renewal of US diplomacy to muster international support and effort in Iraq was a central goal in the President’s Camp Lejeune speech in late February 2009, and implementation of this policy would constitute an important step towards achieving this goal (xlii). This means a reapproachment to international allies, opponents and constellations such as NATO and the UN. It also entails distancing oneself from the unilateralism and to the Bush Doctrine of preventive war.

Following the 9/11 terrorist attacks foreign support for US foreign policy was considerable. This was attributed to a sense of sympathy and an acceptance of the theory that the US must respond proportionally to challenges: a threat must be countered with a threat, an attack must be countered with one. Any disproportionate response would have generated either domestic or international discontent, and foreign support was displayed in the participation of NATO and UN allies. However, international support for US foreign policy dwindled with the extension of the War on Terror to Iraq. The disregard for the rules-based world order to which much of this international community adhered, shown through the circumvention of UN resolutions and human rights principles in facilities such as the Guantanamo Bay Detention Facility, lead to soft balancing by other democratic states such as the members of the UN Security Council (xliii). Early 2009 saw the Bush administration descend from power with historically low domestic and international approval ratings.

The ascent of a president who made change a central theme during the election process started a new trend in both domestic and foreign public support for the executive and, by extension, US foreign policy. This policy seeks to increase the momentum of this trend by providing the remedy for many of the ills brought on by the Bush administration’s foreign policy towards Iraq and the international community. The policy offers a chance to “have the cake and eat it too”; a responsible withdrawal from Iraq within this timeframe would entail accomplishment of US goals as well as increase in prestige and public support. This is a development from earlier engagements such as Vietnam and Somalia, which left US goals unaccomplished but increased public support for the executive to varying extent. A considerable cause for the drop in foreign and domestic support can be attributed to this mission creep (as “Operation Iraqi Freedom” started to exceed the durations of most 20th century military conflict). Indeed, avoiding mainfest foreign policy disasters such as “the Vietnam Syndrome" of mission creep is one of the main effects of the implementation of this policy as well as a key indicator of presidential foreign policy success (xliv). It has the added benefit that withdrawal of troops will prevent foreign and domestic public antagonism towards later deployment.

Bearing in mind that the policy will have to remedy the discontent raised in disregarding the protests from UN and NATO allies, which were based in a broad public consensus within these countries, the US will have to guarantee that the withdrawal will not render Iraq prey to domestic or foreign agression, or even isolationist sentiment. If the US security council is going to continue its support for the UNAMI (United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq) and UNSCR 1770 and 1546, the US will have to couple its withdrawal with a responsible transferral of power from its Multi-National Force Iraq (MNF-I) to the ISS (xlv). With the added re-opening of Iraqi markets, following the disruption of e.g. the UN Oil-for-food programme, this policy will redress public disregard for unilateralism and whatever offense might be taken from the disruption of economic activity or effectively combating terror thus reapproaching multilateralism.

It is advisable to adhere to the suggested timetable for withdrawal with regard to regional public relations as well. Too much or prolonged interference gives the Arab/Persian world an impression of the US as an imperialist puppet-master and deepens anti-American sentiment, and it might also give the impression that an Arab democracy is unable to sustain itself. Too little interference, on the other hand, would have the US appear an indecisive, aggressive unilateralist without purpose unable to preserve internal and external security in Iraq as well as rebuilding Iraqi infrastructure. Furthermore, if a reapproachment to the international community is not made, regional non-democratic states see how unilateral action by the US antagonises fellow democracies and bogs down US foreign policy and military action. Such states might see this as an opportunity to pursue their own goals, and this also undermines both the purpose of the War on Terror and the spread of democracy.

If we see the international relations concerns in the light of isolationism and internationalism we can see that a withdrawal does not contitute a sign of isolationism, as one might assume, but rather a renewal of internationalism. Rather than, like offensive realists, seeing the exercise of soft power by other democratic states as the rise of a threat to US global hegemony and withdrawal as a manifestation of the detested post-Soviet era isolationism, it should be seen as a cue for the approach towards liberal internationalism (xlvi). As Sandy Berger pointed out; “the world counts on the US to be a catalyst of coalitions and a broker of peace” (xlvii). The US will still be able to exercise power and pursue its interests, but the Iraq war has shown that this power needs to be exercised through the institutions of, and in accordance with the rules of, the international community. Thus, as explained above, a withdrawal would be a sound policy in the pursuit of improved international relations.

The Spread of Democracy

With links to al Qaeda, 9/11 and WMD dismissed the main agenda for US presense in Iraq was the spread of democracy. Therefore, Iraq has to be a classifiable democracy before the US can withdraw. With general and provincial elections in December 2005 and January 2009, the country certainly fills the criterion of being ruled by elected representatives. Are, however Iraqis true democrats in the American sense? In 2005, Mark A. Tessler of Michigan University, professor in political science, distinguished between four forms of Arab democrats (see box 1), and of these, Iraqis seem to fall somewhere between the first and second distinction (xlviii). The Iraq voter turnout for the 2009 elections, 51%, was comparable to that of the US presidential election of 2008, which saw a voter turnout of 56.8%, not seen since 1968 (xlix). This, coupled with the fact that the ISS managed to secure a relatively peaceful election process argues that the Iraqi democracy is self-sustainable although somewhat infantile.
The policy makes sense in regard to further spread of democracy as well. A withdrawal in accordance with deals between Iraqi and US government helps to introduce and solidify the method of democratic operation on the international arena, and the spread of democracy also improves relations to other democratic states. Ironically, to allow Iraq to become a model for Arab democracy, the US must distance itself from it, allowing it to develop on its own. The US has to withdraw military presense, as this is in accordance with Iraqi public opinion (l). It has to assume a more advisory role, as supported by the Iraqi election and the ascent of the moderately religious Dawa party of Prime Minister al Maliki, and it has to increasingly restrict American economical presence to USAID and whatever levels are acceptable to Iraqi society. Too much interference from American private enterprise will give the impression that acceptance of a western form of democracy does not encourage a growth in Arab economy as much as it encourages the growth of American private enterprise. Failure to produce an impression of detachment will emphasise the country and the new government's connections to the US, which, for a rolemodel for Arab democracy, does not hold much currency in the Arab world and will therefore be counter-productive. In relation to this the Obama administration and the US government is advised to prepare a separate response in case of a crisis centering on al Maliki, specifically deciding whether stable, pro-American leadership or a democratic form of government is in US interests (li).

i. Clay Ramsay (Forthcoming 2009): “The Iraq War and U.S. Public Opinion” in John S. Duffield and Peter J. Dombrowski, eds, Balance Sheet: The Iraq War and U.S. National Security (Palo Altop, California, Stanford University Press)
ii. "Organizing for America", the Obama Biden Homepage, last visited 10.2.2009
iii. See chapter 2.3.
iv. Agence France-Presse: "Iraq ready for US withdrawal", Jan. 20, 2009 on:
v. Brian Bennett: "America's other army", TIME article, Oct. 17, 2007 on:,8599,1672792,00.html?iid=sphere-inline-sidebar
vi. Elise Labott: "Official: U.S. will not renew Iraq contract with Blackwater", CNN article, Jan. 30, 2009 on:
vii. "Iraq demands all US troops out by 2011", Times Online article, Oct. 28, 2008. There are, however several strong indications that the UK will follow the US example. Indications throughout the memorandum.
viii. Samantha L. Quigley: "Leaders Begin Troop Withdrawal in Iraq, General Says", American Forces Press Service News article, Mar. 9, 2009 on:, "Agreement Between the United States of America and the Republic of Iraq On the Withdrawal of United States Forces from Iraq and the Organization of Their Activities during Their Temporary Presence in Iraq"/ US-Iraq SOFA in the White House Archives. More on this in the following chapters
ix. Ken Dilanian: "Obama faces a crush of demands from interest groups", USA Today article, Dec 17 2008 on:, USA Today: "Iraq willing to see U.S. troops leave early", Jan. 21, 2009 on:, Agence France-Presse Jan. 20, 2009
x. Michael Cox and Doug Stokes: US Foreign Policy, New York 2008: ch. 1, ”Summary of National Security Strategy 2002”, last visited Mar. 28, 2009
xi. Ibid
xii. Cox and Stokes 2008: 99-101, see chapter 3.1 for more
xiii. “The Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq Resolution of 2002”, Oct. 2002
xiv. Ibid
xv. Ramsay, forthcoming 2009: 5
xvi. Indeed, the National Security Strategy above was amended to address the issues of the 2007 surge more directly.
xvii. "Bush vetoes war-funding bill with withdrawal timetable", CNN article, May 2, 2007, “Declaration of Principles for a Long-Term Relationship of Cooperation and Friendship Between the Republic of Iraq and the United States of America”, White House Press Release, Nov 26, 2007
xviii. One controversy concerned Vice-Presivent Cheney, who, according to The Biographical Directory of the United States Congress, had been chairman in Halliburton one year prior to his ascent to the post of Vice-President
xix. Cox and Stokes 2008: 131
xx. Study commissioned by the US Joint Forces Command: "Iraqi Perspectives Project", 91-95
xxi. The Senate Select Committee on Intelligence report, June 2008, 170
xxii. The same study showed that al Qaeda was reported to have approached Iraqi officials on several occations without achieving any desired response. Also, the presence of al Qaeda in Iraq was not established until late 2003, after the fall of Saddam.
xxiii. Philip Jenkins: "A History of the United States", New York, 2007: 313
xxiv. Cox and Stokes 2008: 119, 121, 124, 131
xxv. "Organizing for America", the Obama Biden Homepage, last visited 10.2.2009
xxvi. “CNN Election Issue Overview” on
xxvii. Cox and Stokes 2008: 138
xxviii. USA Today Jan. 21, 2009
xxix. Agence France-Presse Jan. 20, 2009
xxx. Jim Garamone: "Iraqi Military Builds Up Combat Power, Logistics", American Forces Press Service news article, Nov. 3, 2008 on:
xxxi. Rt Hon John Hutton MP: Opening speech delivered by the UK Secretary of State for Defence at a House of Commons debate on "Iraq - Future Strategic Relationship", on 14 January 2009 on:
xxxii. "Defense manpower center overview of death toll”, last visited Mar. 30, 2009, "Iraq Body Count", an online project tracking the death toll of Iraqi civilians, last visited Feb. 23, 2009
xxxiii. Cox and Stokes 2008: 19
xxxiv. Ibid: 94
xxxv. Iraq Liberation Act of 1998 (Public Law 105-338), The US-Iraq SOFA
xxxvi. USAID: Congressional Budget Justification for Foreign Operations FY2009, 509-511 on:
xxxvii. Ibid: 511, House Majority Leader: communiqué on the testimony of General David Petraeus and former Ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker on political progress in Iraq, last visited 4.4.2009 on:
xxxviii. Cox and Stokes 2008: 15, 18, 159
xxxix. WTRG Economics: graph on Petroleum Consumption and Price 1973-2007 on:
xl. graph on Oil Price and Net Oil Imports 1970-2008 on:
xli. Jenkins 2007: 320
xlii. President Obama: "Remarks of President Barack Obama – Responsibly Ending the War in Iraq" Speech transcript on the White House web page Feb 27, 2009 on:
xliii. Cox and Stokes 2008: 12, 124, 141
xliv. Ibid: 103, 131
xlv. United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq, last visited 4.4.2009
xlvi. Cox and Stokes 2008: 13, 20, 91
xlvii. Ibid: 95
xlviii. Mark Tessler: “Citizen Attitudes about Politics and Religion in the Arab World, invited lecture at the UCLA, 2005 on:
xlix. Stephen Farrell: "Election Turnout: Early Figures" New York Times article, Feb. 1, 2009 on:, statistics of National Voter Turnout in Federal Elections: 1960–2008, last visited 4.4.2009 on:
l. USA Today Jan. 21, 2009
li. Cox and Stokes 2008: 95, Mark Lynch: "Briefing Book: How to get out of Iraq", Foreign Policy article, Jan, 2009 on:

See next instalment in this series

Friday, 27 August 2010

Withdrawal from Iraq - an In-depth Study, Part 3

This is the second and final instalment of my policy paper on the withdrawal from Iraq. The first, with introductory remarks, can be found here.

Withdrawal from Iraq
an in-depth study

Part 3 - Background and Politics
• 3.1. The History of US Policy in this Area
• 3.2. The Key Actors - Politics at Home
• 3.3. How should this Policy be Adopted?
• 3.3. Obstacles
Part 3 – Background and Politics

3.1. The History of US Policy in this Area

The history of US foreign policy towards Iraq starts in earnest in 1963, although their involvement in the Middle East is of an earlier date. Following the end of World War I, and the break up op the Ottoman Empire, US interests in the area grew. A growing American economy needed oil, and the US was allowed a share of the Turkish Petroleum Company (later Iraq PC) (lii). The red line agreement prevented any further expansion in the area until after WW2 at which point Iraq was granted independence by Great Britain. The 1950s saw a gradual weakening of Great Britain in the region, especially following the 1956 Suez Crisis, after which the US had to assume ever more responsibility in the region (liii). The 1953 CIA sponsored coup in Iran was to be the prelude for their eventually taking a more active foreign policy interest in Iraq, for in 1963 a similar operation removed Iraq’s Arab Nationalsit Leader Abdel Karim Kassem and replaced him with the Baath regime (liv). This was to rule Iraq for 40 years, privatize the IPC and skyrocket Saddam Hussein to infamy. Thus intervetionism, albeit partly covert, and countenance of regime change has been central to US policy since the very start.

Foreign policy towards the region focused on creating pillars for regional strategy. Israel was one such since 1967 and Iran was one until 1979. The US supplied the new rulers with information and weapons and corporations like Mobil got major deals in return, expanding US involvement in Iraq (lv). Saddam Hussein’s rise to power came through the Baath Party through an internal coup in 1979 after which foreign policy towards Iraq becomes more important. That same year, Iran overthrew its shah and this was the main catalyst for the greatly expanded cooperation between the US and Saddam in the 1980s. Iran was percieved to be a greater threat to regional stability than Iraq, and in the subsequent Iran-Iraq war US foreign policy was adjusted in order to ensure the containment of Iran. In the following years, Iraq was removed from the State Department’s list of terrorist sponsors which opened up for a flux of funds, intelligence and arms to Iraq. The latter has been controversial in recent years as it was used to develop weapons of chemical, biological and nuclear warfare. The use of poison gas against Kurds in 1988 was made possible by US intelligence, technology and US made helicopters (lvi). Thus, former US policy towards Iraq is to some extent responsible for two of the reasons given for the invasion in 2003; the genocide and the percieved Iraqi capability of producing weapons of mass destruction.

US foreign policy in this period seems to be slightly ad hoc, onesidedly focused on containing Iran and with lacking risk assessment. In addition to the cases above, the US exported technology to Iraq in 1988 which extended the radius of their SCUD missiles, which would enable Iraq to hit Saudi Arabia and Israel during the Gulf War. Also, as international banks cut off loans to Iraq, the US increased their offers and some of this funding was by Saddam directed towards organisations like Hezbollah and Hamas and some towards aquisition of WMD (lvii). On the other side, it was this support coupled with clandestine support for Iran (like the Iran-Contra scandal) which enabled joint Western and US pressure to induce a stalemate and precipitating dual containment of Iran and Iraq. It can easily be concluded from the above cases that although US foreign policy may have seemed sound at the time and achieved their immediate goals, the more far reaching consequences of pre-Gulf War foreign policy towards Iraq was not accounted for and caused many of the serious challenges US foreign policy faced in the early 21st century.

The Gulf War from August 1990 to February 1991 was the first overt aggressive military US activity in Iraq. A response to the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait, it was, in fact, in accord with the Reagan Corollary and a test of the limits of US power in the post-Cold War era (lviii). The US dispatced troops unilaterally before asking for ratification in the UN Security Council, and the lessons learned when this gambit succeded must have influenced the Bush administration’s decision to invade Iraq unilaterally some 12 years later. In addition, several goals were given for the war; safeguarding oil supplies and Saudi Arabia, ousting the Iraqis from Kuwait and at times even Saddam from power and these bear some semblance to some of the aims given for the 2003 invasion. The difference is that whereas Bush Sr., a staunch believer in US primacy, left Saddam in power from fear of having to rebuild Iraq thus dashing the hopes of many southern shi’as and claiming to have “buried the specter of Vietnam in the desert sands of the Arabian peninsula”, his son inherited his heated legacy in the area, did everything his father did not do and opened the grave of the specter of Vietnam to his cost (lix). However, whereas US foreign policy before and during the Gulf War was conducted with limited public support and minimal legislative involvement domestically and rather off-handedly internationally, it enjoyed a lot more domestic support before and throughout 2003 (lx).

The Clinton era saw the policy of containment, soon to be centered on the dual containment of Iran and Iraq, giving way to the more drastic policy of regime change. This was shown through legislation such as the Iraq Liberation Act and the bombings of Iraq and targets in former Yugoslavia. This was done in combination with a brief “relapse” into multilateralism in order to limit US commitments, although such tendencies of isolationism was generally frowned upon by the political elite. His presidency saw cooperation with the UN in the implementation of economic sanctions against Iraq and UN weapons inspectors, who were to monitor the destruction of WMDs. Meanwhile, the US operated a no-fly zone in Northern Iraq in order to protect the Kurds from further atrocities from their own government. This was, however, not mandated by the UN. During Clinton’s second term he had to struggle with a hostile republican controlled Congress, a control that were not lost until the Iraq war’s toll on public opinion caused a shift in 2006 (lxi).

As US policy in the area is described in detail in chapter 2.2., this chapter will be concluded by two connecting lines through history. The UN inspectors, who before the war argued that their work neither proved nor disproved presence of WMD and therefore were inconclusive as evidence, could conclude that those weapons of biological warfare found after the Gulf War were direct results of technology and biological cultures provided by the US in the 80s (lxii). Furthermore, the Iraqi Perspectives Project, mentioned in chapter 2.2., concluded that whatever actual weaponry found were ineffective leftovers from the Gulf War, arms that were made with US technology and materials (lxiii). These two cases show how US policy in the region can backfire and the importance of thinking ahead. As the discussion in chapter 2.3. showed, this is taken care of as far as possible with concern to this policy recommendation.

3.2. The Key Actors – Politics at Home

This chapter will explore the interests, legal possibilities for action and reactions to this policy. Which actors have interests in and ability to influence this policy and its passing and how might these act? The focus will be on the executive and legislative branch as well as organized interest groups. The reason for the relative exclusion of the judicial branch is that the primary role of the courts in relation to this policy is guarding legislative power over foreign policy and resolving issues with US citizens comitting crimes abroad, and the Judiciary therefore has a somewhat limited influence on the actual policy.

The executive branch

The presidential administration is obviously the most important actor in the implementation of this policy. They retain “the mainline obligation of coordinating and overseeing America's position in the international sphere" (lxiv) and are, as seen in 2.3. the main proponent of this respect. During the sustained emergency of the Cold War, a flow of power was seen towards the president wielding the executive prerogative. This also led to expansion of the executive office (mainly fora like NSC and assisting agencies such as the CIA). Following the end of the Cold War, foreign policy initiation, at least with regard to military action, has continued to flow towards the executive. This may also be due to the nature of the office of President. The President holds the only office which is nationally elected and can therefore count on a wider domestic consensus basis for executive action (lxv).

According to Article Two of the Constitution, the president acts as the commander in chief of the armed forces (, has broad powers over foreign policy ( and is responsible for the execution of laws ( (lxvi). Furthermore, The Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq Resolution of 2002 authorizes the President to “use the Armed Forces of the United States as he determines to be necessary and appropriate” (see box 2) (lxvii). This includes not only initiating military engagement, but also withdrawal. Finally, the Iraq Liberation Act of 1998 (Public Law 105-338) authorizes the President to commit non-military resources to the establishment of a viable democracy in Iraq, which implicitly (though less so in section 4, 7 and 8 of that law) authorizes the withdrawal of troops (lxviii). It also provides the legal background for the State Department to provide for the rebuilding of Iraq through USAID and governance programs. By consistently observing these sections, particularly section 4 of “The Authorization” the administration will achieve domestic legality for the withdrawal (lxix).

As mentioned in 2.3., the Department of Defense has issued several statements expressing their support for this policy. Defense Secretary Robert Gates, whose history as Defense Secretary in the second Bush administration renders him an authority on this field, did, together with Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, present the President with a number of possible withdrawal plans in February (lxx). The Defense Secretary has also made statements following the Camp Lejeune speech in support of the withdrawal (lxi). The Department of Defense is therefore one of the main architects behind the withdrawal.

Although Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s was one of the Democratic swing votes which allowed “The Authorization” to pass through Congress in 2002 and subsequently defended the Iraq war, later statements, especially leading up to the 2008 primaries, has shown her to change tack. No statements from the State Department have indicated any resentment against either the policy or the DoD. This is natural since the main concern for the State Department is the security needed for carrying out their economic programmes, especially USAID, which is provided for by the policy. Thus, no disagreement between State and Defense Department is expected.

The Legislative Branch and Organized Interest Groups

Congress is, in article 1 sections 8 and 9, bestowed with constitutional powers to appropriate funding for the upkeep of armed forces, make laws ruling their activities and exercise power over treaties and appointments (lxxii). The House of Representatives carries greater leverage over foreign policy decisions than the Senate through their constitutional powers to appropriate funding, as the Senate’s influence has waned and is restricted to ratifying reaties with foreign governments and consenting to government appointments (lxxiii). Historically, Congress has been subject to executive encroachment on foreign policy powers; in the 1990’s Congress was consulted rather than included in decision making, with the executive circumventing legislative power through e.g. executive or congressional-executive agreements. However, through judiciary action and resolutions like the War Powers Resolution of 1973, Congress has been able to balance executive foreign policy power. The War Powers Resolution expands the War Powers Clause (art.1, sec.8, cl.11) in the Constitution by, partly in reaction to the Vietnam War, ending the legality of executive open ended foreign commitments, demanding congressional ratification within 60 days. This has some relevance for the proposed policy.

Section 4 in “The Authorization” is a direct result of this resolution, holding the President accountable for any policy shift in the region. All the legal documents presented in the above section on the executive branch are ratified by Congress, which means that Congress in essence already has approved the concept of presidentially initiated withdrawal. Congress would probably support a specific withdrawal plan as democrats fulfil their agenda and voter expectations and republicans endorse the plan based on the stance of military leaders (lxxiv). Regionally, the policy should ring home as well; foreign policy based on military power and free trade appeals to the Republican South and West and, as seen in 2.3., implementation of this policy expands the free trade area. Democrats in the North and Pacific Coast would see the policy as a step towards international power-sharing and multilateralism, which would resonate deeply in the Democrat mindset (lxxv). A withdrawal would also reduce the funds Congress would have to appropriate to the area, and although they could limit the withdrawal if they so wished through budgetary devices, this is really neither in their economic interest (with other, worthier causes to fund due to the financial crisis) nor in their political interest (with the public favouring the policy – see 2.3.) to bloc the policy. Additionally, this would be very hard, due to the assent and powers given through legal documents such as “The Authorization”. This makes the deepening synergy between interest group and Congress activity less of a threat, a synergy which might have otherwise presented a challenge to the policy as pressure from these groups necessitates foreign policy decision making in Congress (lxxvi).

Several organized interest groups would try to influence the decision making process concerning this policy, mainly the Israel Lobby (AIPAC), the Oil Lobby (API), the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) and (although this is techically a political action committee, a PAC). The American Israel Public Affairs Committee is considered to be one of the most powerful and influential organized interest groups in the US today. Throughout the 90’s they pressured Clinton into stepping up economic sanctions against Iraq and supported containment of Iraqi military and influence (lxxvii). The Lobby supported the intervention in Iraq as they expected this to improve regional stability and the security of Israel (having been victim of Iraqi scud missiles in 1991 and of Iraqi funded Hamas and Hezbollah – see chapter 2.2. and 3.1.) . However, following the fall of Saddam and the return of relative stability to the region, and due to reassurances from then presidential candidate Obama and limited focus on Iraq in the AIPAC web pages, there is little reason to believe that the lobby will try to counteract the implementation of this policy (lxxix). The American Petroleum Institute, being a coalition of smaller organisations and 170 petroleum companies, holds implicit power by supplying one of the most important imports to the US and through its connection to both OPEC and its main currency, USD. Although largely concerned with domestic issues, the lobby will probably support the withdrawal, as this will increase oil output from Iraq and increase the free trade market (lxxx). AEI, though techically a conservative think tank, plays an important role and is notorius for its connections to Paul Wolfowitz, Dick Cheney and private contractors like Halliburton during the Iraq war. AEI can be expected to behave much like the Oil Lobby with regard to the policy, and will probably fiercly defend US economic interests in the region (lxxxi). is an organization based firmly in the public outcry against the war and tries to push Congress in the direction of withdrawal through demonstrations, organized efforts in elections of representatives to Congress and through lobbying. It is identified by USA Today as one of the main federal PACs on Iraq (lxxxii). All in all, the organized interest groups will probably support this policy, although their interest following its implementation and completion might diverge.

3.3. How should this Policy be Adopted?

This policy is not a radically new one, and there has been movement towards one such policy for the duration of the Iraq war. Therefore, there is at present very little hindrance to the adoption of this policy. As discussed in previous chapters, there is a broad consensus both in the US population and the international community, Congress has long favoured withdrawal (as evident in the vetoed war-funding bill of 2007 (lxxxiii)) and much of the legislation needed is already passed. A specific practical framework for the withdrawal, at a slightly later date than stipulated in the election promise though still within the limits agreed upon in the SOFA, has been crafted by the Department of Defense, NSC and Armed Forces officials and presented by the President at his Camp Lejeune Speech (lxxxiv). Although no official documents have been released (per April 2009), the President committed the US forces to withdraw by August 2010 leaving a US residual force of 50 000 to be withdrawn by December 2011 in accordance with the SOFA.

As mentioned in chapter 3.2., Congress has in essence consented to the withdrawal through ”The Authorization” and the Iraq Liberation Act of 1997 and has endorsed the withdrawal plan in statements to this effect (lxxxv). Futhermore, Congress budgetary appropriations supports the withdrawal; funding for foreign operations in Iraq has decreased from a troop surge funding of $1.959.150.000 in FY 2007 via $956.000.000 in FY 2008 to only $397.000.000 in FY 2009 (lxxxvi). This indicates that Congress is firmly behind reducing US presense in Iraq and unwilling to finance any further involvement on the scale of previous years.

With Congressional backing and a practical framework in place there is little to hinder the adoption of this policy. However, there are a few issues which would bolster the implementation were they to be resolved. The first issue is regarding the SOFA. The “Agreement Between the United States of America and the Republic of Iraq On the Withdrawal of United States Forces from Iraq and the Organization of Their Activities during Their Temporary Presence in Iraq” is in fact an executive agreement, which means that it has been established without the normal two thirds approval of the Senate. It is at present a sole executive agreement, an agreement between the executive and a foreign administration. However, as George Will of the Washington Post Writers Group pointed out, the US-Iraq SOFA is politically more consequential than earlier SOFAs, and should therefore be ratified as a congressional-executive agreement (lxxxvii). This leaves it still short of a treaty per se, but the simple majority in Congress will solidify the agreement and close the option for Congress to withold any future legislation with regard to the policy suggested in this paper. It will also continue the cooperative atmosphere between the executive and legaslative in this issue whilst still preserving the constitutional legality of the actions of each branch (lxxxviii). Furthermore, Congress should pass legislation allowing commencement of the Iraqi-American Enterprise Fund, which was included in the budget for FY 2009, though pending Congressional action (lxxxix). This will serve domestic purposes for both USA and Iraq, as it will open for a flux of capital, technology and jobs to Iraq (xc).

3.4. Obstacles

Seeing as most of the legislation concerning this policy is passed, there are not many obstacles to its adoption. Both the Defense Department and the State Department would be more or less squarely behind the President, public and international opinion would favour adoption and Congress will back this, as seen in this memorandum. Although it does not constitute an obstacle to the policy’s adoption in itself, the President should let the SOFA be ratified by Congress. The previous administration’s policy towards Iraq lead to their president’s party losing majority in Congress, and the new administration needs to keep the population and Congress happy to avoid a similar scenario. A closer relationship to the legislative and congressional groups is in executive interest, particularly in terms of other, domestic and often financial policies.

The only real obstacle related to this policy concerns its completion, not its implementation, but it is the issue of regional security. There is some worry that as troop presence declines, violence escalates leaving an Iraq in turmoil. However, the estimates in this memorandum assess this to be unlikely but provides for this through the obligation of responsibility. This means that the US commits to enabling Iraqi government (and hopefully democracy) to sustain itself by providing resources and training. It also means that the withdrawal should halt or reverse should violence increase. However, it is imperative that this happens at the request of the Iraqi government and that intervention should happen multilaterally. It is, obviously, important not to repeat past mistakes. In general, obstacles to the adoption of this policy are considered to be minimal while proponents are plentiful.

Likewise, the political cost is limited. The President risks losing support mainly in the Republican South and West, and possibly among moderate Democrats. This loss is, however, minimal, in some cases based on a non-existing basis of support and heavily outweighed by the political boons, as explained in this memorandum. The SOFA was signed by lame duck President Bush, who had become inextricably linked to the war. This would indicate that not only is the political cost minimal, but it is also sound presidential policy. John Dumbrell, Professor of Government at Durham University has defined six key indicators of presidential foreign policy success, all of which may, at least partially, be achieved through this policy (xci):

- Protecting US security and international economic interests

- Avoiding manifest foreign policy disasters

- Maintenance of a domestic foreign policy consensus

- Effective procedures and skilled foreign policy management

- Clarity of purpose and vision

- Observing the requirements of domestic and international law

lii. ”The Turkish Petroleum Company” on the Countrystudies pages, last visited 7.6.2009
liii. Henry Kissinger: “Diplomacy”, New York 1994: 548
liv. ”A Tyrant 40 Years in the Making” on Global Policy Forum article Mar. 14, 2003
lv. Ibid
lvi. Ibid, ”Our History with Iraq”, talk given by Chip Gagnon at Teach-in on Iraq, Cornell University, October 22, 2002
lvii. Ibid, ”Shaking Hands with Saddam Hussein: The U.S. Tilts toward Iraq, 1980-1984” in the National Securtity Archive Electronic Briefing Book No. 82, last visited 7.4.2009
lviii. Cox and Stokes 2008: 93, Kissinger 1994: 250
lix. Cox and Stokes 2008: 92-93, 99
lx. Ibid: 96, 124
lxi. Cox and Stokes 2008: 91-101
lxii. ”Our History with Iraq”, talk given by Chip Gagnon at Teach-in on Iraq, Cornell University, October 22, 2002
lxiii. Study commissioned by the US Joint Forces Command: "Iraqi Perspectives Project", 91-95
lxiv. Cox and Stokes 2008: 119
lxv. Ibid: 97, 115, 119
lxvi. ”United States Constitution” on Library of Congress webpages, last visited 5.4.2009
lxvii. “The Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq Resolution of 2002”, Oct. 2002
lxviii. “Iraq Liberation Act of 1998” (Public Law 105-338)
lxix. The US-Iraq SOFA is not mentioned here. This is not due to any legality issues, but to an unresolved issue of congressional ratification (see below the “Legislative” heading)
lxx. Anne Gearan and Pamela Hess: "Troops to leave Iraq in 18 months, officials say", Associated Press article, Feb 25, 2009 on:
lxxi. Department of Defense: "Secretary Gates Interview on Meet The Press with David Gregory", News transcript release by, Mar.1, 2009 on:
lxxii. ”United States Constitution” on Library of Congress webpages, last visited 5.4.2009
lxxiii. Ibid, C118
lxxiv. Anne Flaherty: "Consensus emerges in Congress for Obama Iraq Plan", Guardian article, Mar. 1, 2009 on:,,-8381042,00.html
lxxv. Cox and Stokes 2008: 159
lxxvi. Ibid: 118. For more on the congressional role, see chapter 3.3.
lxxvii. John J. Mearsheimer and Stephen M. Walt: The Israel Lobby and US Foreign Policy, Working Paper, on the Harvard University Web pages, Mar. 2007: 36
lxxviii. John J. Mearsheimer and Stephen M. Walt: The Israel Lobby and US Foreign Policy, London 2007: 230-231
lxxix. President Obama: "Obama's Speech at the AIPAC Conference" transcript on the Council on Foreign Relations pages, last visited 6.4.2009 on:, AIPAC homepage, last visited 6.4.2009
lxxx. API homepage, last visited 6.4.2009, see also links to statistics under chapter 2.3. heading “Economy”
lxxxi. AEI homepage, last visited 6.4.2009
lxxxii. Dilanian 2008
lxxxiii. Bush vetoes war-funding bill with withdrawal timetable", CNN article, May 2, 2007
lxxxiv. President Obama: "Remarks of President Barack Obama – Responsibly Ending the War in Iraq" Speech transcript on the White House web page Feb 27, 2009
lxxxv. Flaherty 2009
lxxxvi. USAID: Congressional Budget Justification for Foreign Operations FY2009, 509-511
lxxxvii. George Will: "Congress Should Debate SOFA with Iraq", Real Clear Politics article, Mar. 5, 2009 on:, Definition of Treaty and Executive Agreement on the Department of State web pages, last visited 6.4.2009, "Laws and Treaties - International Agreements" on Embassy of the US Japan web pages, last visited 6.4.2009
lxxxviii. The reason for this added last phrase is recent statements from the executive concerning limitations to the President’s foreign policy capabilities in division H of H.R.1105, which were provisioned for as the bill was signed into law recently(“The Omnibus Appripriations Act, 2009”). The statement can be found at
lxxxix. USAID: Congressional Budget Justification for Foreign Operations FY2009, 511
xc. For more on this, see chapter 2.3. heading “Economy”
xcv. John Dumbrell in Cox and Stokes 2008: 103

- Brooks, Stephen G. and Wohlforth, William C., Hard Times for Soft Balancing on Dartmouth College's homepage, last visited 4.4.2009 on:
- Cox, Michael and Stokes, Doug: US Foreign Policy, New York 2008
- Jenkins, Philip: A History of the United States, New York, 2007
- Kissinger, Henry: Diplomacy, New York 1994
- Mearsheimer, John J. and Walt, Stephen M.: The Israel Lobby and US Foreign Policy, London 2007
- Mearsheimer, John J. and Walt, Stephen M.: The Israel Lobby and US Foreign Policy, Working Paper, on the Harvard University Web pages, Mar. 2007 on:$File/rwp_06_011_walt.pdf
- Micklethwait, John and Woolridge, Adrian: The Right Nation, New York 2005

- Agence France-Presse: "Iraq ready for US withdrawal", Jan. 20, 2009 on:
- Bennett, Brian: "America's other army", TIME article, Oct. 17, 2007 on:,8599,1672792,00.html?iid=sphere-inline-sidebar
- Bruno, Greg: "U.S. Security Agreements and Iraq", Council on Foreign Relations article, Dec 23, 2008 on:
- Burns, Robert "Obama considering at least 2 Iraq withdrawal plans", Guardian article, Feb. 7, 2009 on:,,-8347458,00.html?gusrc=gpd
- Dilanian, Ken: "Obama faces a crush of demands from interest groups", USA Today article, Dec 17 2008 on:
- Flaherty, Anne: "Consensus emerges in Congress for Obama Iraq Plan", Guardian article, Mar. 1, 2009 on:,,-8381042,00.html
- Farrell, Stephen: "Election Turnout: Early Figures" New York Times article, Feb. 1, 2009 on:
- Garamone, Jim: "Iraqi Military Builds Up Combat Power, Logistics", American Forces Press Service news article, Nov. 3, 2008 on:
- Gearan, Anne and Hess, Pamela: "Troops to leave Iraq in 18 months, officials say", Associated Press article, Feb 25, 2009 on:
- Labott, Elise: "Official: U.S. will not renew Iraq contract with Blackwater", CNN article, Jan. 30, 2009 on:
- Lynch, Mark: "Briefing Book: How to get out of Iraq", Foreign Policy article, Jan, 2009 on:
- Quigley, Samantha L.: "Leaders Begin Troop Withdrawal in Iraq, General Says", American Forces Press Service News article, Mar. 9, 2009 on:
- Ramsay, Clay (Forthcoming 2009): “The Iraq War and U.S. Public Opinion” in John S. Duffield and Peter J. Dombrowski, eds, Balance Sheet: The Iraq War and U.S. National Security (Palo Altop, California, Stanford University Press)
- USA Today: "Iraq willing to see U.S. troops leave early", Jan. 21, 2009 on:
- Will, George: "Congress Should Debate SOFA with Iraq", Real Clear Politics article, Mar. 5, 2009 on:
- "Comprehensive Analysis of Polls Reveals Americans’ Attitudes on US Role in the World”, Aug. 3. 2007 on:

Legislation and governmental reports
(All found on governmental web pages)
- "Agreement Between the United States of America and the Republic of Iraq On the Withdrawal of United States Forces from Iraq and the Organization of Their Activities during Their Temporary Presence in Iraq"/ US-Iraq SOFA in the White House Archives on:
- “The Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq Resolution of 2002”, Oct. 2002 on:
- "Defense manpower center overview of death toll”, last visited Mar. 30, 2009 on:
- H.R.1105 on the Library of Congress web pages, last visited 6.4.2009 on:
- Iraq Liberation Act of 1998 (Public Law 105-338). on:
- The Senate Select Committee on Intelligence report, June 2008 on:
- Study commissioned by the US Joint Forces Command: "Iraqi Perspectives Project" on:
- ”United States Constitution” on Library of Congress web pages, last visited 5.4.2009 on:

Speech transcripts
- Rt Hon John Hutton MP: Opening speech delivered by the UK Secretary of State for Defence at a House of Commons debate on "Iraq - Future Strategic Relationship", on 14 January 2009 on:
- President Obama: "Obama's Speech at the AIPAC Conference" transcript on the Council on Foreign Relations pages, last visited 6.4.2009 on:
- President Obama: "Remarks of President Barack Obama – Responsibly Ending the War in Iraq" Speech transcript on the White House web page Feb 27, 2009 on:
- Tessler, Mark: “Citizen Attitudes about Politics and Religion in the Arab World, invited lecture at the UCLA, 2005 on:

Other documents
- The Biographical Directory of the United States Congress: entry on Richard Bruce Cheney on:
- USAID: Congressional Budget Justification for Foreign Operations FY2009, 509-511 on:
- Department of Defense: "Secretary Gates Interview on Meet The Press with David Gregory", News transcript release by, Mar.1, 2009 on:
- House Majority Leader: communiqué on the testimony of General David Petraeus and former Ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker on political progress in Iraq, last visited 4.4.2009 on:
- statistics of National Voter Turnout in Federal Elections: 1960–2008, last visited 4.4.2009 on:
- graph on Oil Price and Net Oil Imports 1970-2008 on:
- WTRG Economics: graph on Petroleum Consumption and Price 1973-2007 on:

Net resources
-AIPAC homepage, last visited 6.4.2009 on:
- AEI homepage, last visited 6.4.2009 on:
- API homepage, last visited 6.4.2009 on:
- C-SPAN Congressional Glossary, last visited 6.4.2009 on:
- CNN Election Issue Overview on CNNPolitics. com, last visited 7.4.2009 on:
- Definition of Treaty and Executive Agreement on the Department of State web pages, last visited 6.4.2009 on:
- "Iraq Body Count", an online project tracking the death toll of Iraqi civilians, last visited 23.2.1009 on:
- "Laws and Treaties - International Agreements" on Embassy of the US Japan web pages, last visited 6.4.2009 on:
- "Organizing for America", the Obama Biden Homepage, last visited 10.2.2009 on:
- United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq, last visited 4.4.2009 on:

18th Century Literary Wrestling

Henry Fielding, one of the least snotty of the 18th century novelists, includes an anecdote of a brawl in an inn in his novel Joseph Adams. It is reminiscent of modern wrestling matches with their highly choreographed moves and introduction of ever more colourful characters. The excerpt features the protagonist's friend, parson Abraham Adams, the host, his wife and the camber maid of Lady Booby, Joseph Andrews' former employer, who is satirically named Mrs. Slipslop. Joseph himself does not partake in the squabble, but is the occasion for it. He has fallen off parson Adams' horse and has his bruised leg tended to. The host enters the room and deprecates him for a weakling, whence the excerpt continues. Enjoy!
"Upon these words, Adams fetched two
strides across the room; and snapping his fingers over his head,
muttered aloud, He would excommunicate such a wretch for a farthing, for
he believed the devil had more humanity. These words occasioned a
dialogue between Adams and the host, in which there were two or three
sharp replies, till Joseph bad the latter know how to behave himself to
his betters. At which the host (having first strictly surveyed Adams)
scornfully repeating the word "betters," flew into a rage, and, telling
Joseph he was as able to walk out of his house as he had been to walk
into it, offered to lay violent hands on him; which perceiving, Adams
dealt him so sound a compliment over his face with his fist, that the
blood immediately gushed out of his nose in a stream. The host, being
unwilling to be outdone in courtesy, especially by a person of Adams's
figure, returned the favour with so much gratitude, that the parson's
nostrils began to look a little redder than usual. Upon which he again
assailed his antagonist, and with another stroke laid him sprawling on
the floor.

(Source: Wikimedia Commons)

The hostess, who was a better wife than so surly a husband deserved,
seeing her husband all bloody and stretched along, hastened presently to
his assistance, or rather to revenge the blow, which, to all appearance,
was the last he would ever receive; when, lo! a pan full of hog's blood,
which unluckily stood on the dresser, presented itself first to her
hands. She seized it in her fury, and without any reflection, discharged
it into the parson's face; and with so good an aim, that much the
greater part first saluted his countenance, and trickled thence in so
large a current down to his beard, and over his garments, that a more
horrible spectacle was hardly to be seen, or even imagined. All which
was perceived by Mrs Slipslop, who entered the kitchen at that instant.
This good gentlewoman, not being of a temper so extremely cool and
patient as perhaps was required to ask many questions on this occasion,
flew with great impetuosity at the hostess's cap, which, together with
some of her hair, she plucked from her head in a moment, giving her, at
the same time, several hearty cuffs in the face; which by frequent
practice on the inferior servants, she had learned an excellent knack of
delivering with a good grace. Poor Joseph could hardly rise from his
chair; the parson was employed in wiping the blood from his eyes, which
had entirely blinded him; and the landlord was but just beginning to
stir; whilst Mrs Slipslop, holding down the landlady's face with her
left hand, made so dexterous an use of her right, that the poor woman
began to roar, in a key which alarmed all the company in the inn.

There happened to be in the inn, at this time, besides the ladies who
arrived in the stage-coach, the two gentlemen who were present at Mr
Tow-wouse's when Joseph was detained for his horse's meat, and whom we
have before mentioned to have stopt at the alehouse with Adams. There
was likewise a gentleman just returned from his travels to Italy; all
whom the horrid outcry of murder presently brought into the kitchen,
where the several combatants were found in the postures already

It was now no difficulty to put an end to the fray, the conquerors being
satisfied with the vengeance they had taken, and the conquered having no
appetite to renew the fight. The principal figure, and which engaged the
eyes of all, was Adams, who was all over covered with blood, which the
whole company concluded to be his own, and consequently imagined him no
longer for this world. But the host, who had now recovered from his
blow, and was risen from the ground, soon delivered them from this
apprehension, by damning his wife for wasting the hog's puddings, and
telling her all would have been very well if she had not intermeddled,
like a b--as she was; adding, he was very glad the gentlewoman had paid
her, though not half what she deserved. The poor woman had indeed fared
much the worst; having, besides the unmerciful cuffs received, lost a
quantity of hair, which Mrs Slipslop in triumph held in her left hand.

Fielding, Henry: The History of the Adventures of Joseph Andrews and of his Friend Mr. Abraham Adams, London 1912, 118-120
(Transcription from, last visited 27.08.2010
Image:, last visited 27.08.2010

Thursday, 12 August 2010

Daydreaming Students

How many times have you lost a student to daydreams?

How did you react to this question? Did you start counting incidents you can recall or did your thoughts wander more in the direction of the phenomenon itself? If you were one of the majority who would imagine the characteristics of such a student, his appearance, your responses and your own feelings about the incident you fall into the exact same category as that student. You have been daydreaming.

Two approaches

What you and your student did was to react to a prompter by automatically trying to contextualise or "wrap your head around" it, in this case the scenario above. When encountering new impulses you may react by taking a structural or associative approach to them.

This child has chosen the latter approach

The first one is you using the skills you have learnt to familiarise yourself with and internalise new material. You could take notes, try to focus on the impulse itself by for instance trying to remember the wording or making an internal list. In this way you impose a structure on your perception of the world around you and thus perform a miniature version of the advancement of human knowledge.

The associative approach is less focused and less logical. Rather than trying to conform the impulse you recieve to knowledge patterns you can recognise you let your mind wander. This process establishes connections to earlier knowledge, possibilities and experiences across the boundaries established by a logical, structural approach. This is daydreaming.

To exemplify, coming across the character of Galahad Threepwood in P.G. Wodehouse's Blandings novels one could settle down and methodologically register physical traits, response patterns and so on. Alternatively, one may be transported to the world of the Monkey Island games and their protagonist Guybrush Threepwood or to the film Notting Hill with the Spike character who shares a number of traits with Galahad Threepwood. This would be the initial response of an associative daydreamer who would, by disconnecting from the more standardised procedures of character analysis, be able to proceed with a much wider intertextual basis than someone using the structural approach.


This child possesses astounding
powers of imagination
According to Kalina Christoff in Psychologies Magazine's August issue daydreaming is beneficial for both our problem solving skills and your social skills. Far from being absent minded and lazy daydreamers are more able to see solutions and patterns than more logical thinkers and since they spend their time daydreaming of other people, hypothetical future scenarios and remembering old memories they are more adept at dealing with social situations. They might be better at handling conflict since one of the future scenarios treated could have been one of just such a conflict. Furthermore, daydreaming is a prime tool alleviating loneliness since it can induce a sense of presence. In this respect daydreams excel dreams by involving a measure of conscious direction which will avoid the feeling of loss upon "waking".

 Contrary to most beliefs, daydreaming is not detrimental to productivity. Daydreaming can both reveal hidden options, as mentioned above, and provide a respite thus improving productivity, motivation and focus. Many also find that daydreaming can offer stress relief. Since the level of conscious direction is lower than logical thinking but higher than dreaming the amount of energy used is favourable for the purpose. Like any other form of relaxation; knitting, general home maintenance, computer gaming etc., the brain relaxes by concentrating on something that requires just a small portion of it, allowing the rest to recharge.

Daydreaming in the classroom

So, in these respects daydreaming can be a useful tools for teachers. Keeping in mind that daydreaming can hinder learning if it is not channeled properly; how can you as a teacher use this?

  • One approach could be to let the student daydream for a while before asking him to rejoin the lesson. Daydreaming is much about getting a personal relationship to whatever is dreamt about and resembles learning in this respect. This approach requires quite some courage from the teacher and its effects should be tested.
  • Another response could be to try to combine an associative and a structural approach. Proceed as above, but have the student somehow retell his daydream. This could be through verbal or written narration or possibly through visual representations such as mind maps depending on learning style.
  •  Constructive daydreaming is teachable. One of the methods which can be used is the Shock Talk activity. Each student is given a short subject without any further instructions. Then, for five minutes the class should stay quiet and try not to focus on anything. Finally, each student should present his subject, what his last thought was before the time ran out and how he got there. This would provide a few laughs before the teacher explains about association, daydreaming and how to use this as a working method
This fall I will be teaching English to a number of vocational classes which generally are less than enthusiastic about the subject. I will probably encounter quite a number of vacant stares at which point I shall put the above theory to the test. Where psychology meets pedagogy something weird and wonderful may arise.

All you've got to do is dream in Psychologies Magazine, August Issue 2010, p.33
Hagy, Chad: Positive and Negative Effects of Daydreaming on 2007