Notice also the timetable. The U.S. and Iraq will negotiate another year-long United Nations mandate for foreign troops in Iraq, which will expire (I think) in late December 2008. According to today's declaration, following the forthcoming renewal at the U.N., "we will begin negotiation of a framework that will govern the future of our bilateral relationship." That means that during Bush's last year in office, the administration will work out the terms of the U.S.'s stay in Iraq in order to, at the very least, seriously constrain the next administration's options for ending the U.S. presence. Even if Bush doesn't take the audacious step of signing a so-called Status of Forces Agreement -- the basic document for garrisoning U.S. forces on foreign soil -- while he's a lame duck, the simple fact of negotiations will create a diplomatic expectation that his successor will find difficult to reverse.
The White House is also taking steps to argue that there's nothing unusual about what it intends for Iraq. Here's that fact sheet again:
The Declaration Sets The U.S. And Iraq On A Path Toward Negotiating Agreements That Are Common Throughout The World
The U.S. has security relationships with over 100 countries around the world, including recent agreements with nations such as Afghanistan and former Soviet bloc countries.
Not stated, of course, is that Iraq would represent a military commitment opposed by most of the American people. Nor that it would represent codifying an unpopular war into an unpopular, indefinite war. Nor even what that commitment would entail. Here's the "principle" behind future U.S.-Iraq security ties:
To support the Iraqi government in training, equipping, and arming the Iraqi Security Forces so they can provide security and stability to all Iraqis; support the Iraqi government in contributing to the international fight against terrorism by confronting terrorists such as Al-Qaeda, its affiliates, other terrorist groups, as well as all other outlaw groups, such as criminal remnants of the former regime; and to provide security assurances to the Iraqi Government to deter any external aggression and to ensure the integrity of Iraq's territory.
In other words, we're staying in Iraq to defend Nouri al-Maliki against all enemies, foreign and domestic. What will the presidential candidates say about this?