Back in November, President Bush and Iraqi PM Nouri al-Maliki hashed out the principles
for the two countries' "enduring relationship": a long-term American troop presence in Iraq and preferential treatment for American investments
in return for a guarantee of security for the Iraqis. It was a deal we summarized at the time
as "U.S. To Stay In Iraq Forever."
So it shouldn't come as a surprise that when the two sides sit down at the table, the definition of "enduring" raises some eyebrows.
The Iraqi defense minister, Abdul Qadir, is in Washington, D.C. to continue work on defining the American commitment in Iraq. A formal agreement will emerge by July, The New York Times reports
. As TPM alum Spencer Ackerman reported here, such an agreement would not
require Congress' approval, but would require
the Iraqi parliament's OK.
So... the numbers. Qadir tells the Times
that 2012 and 2020 are his target dates -- for full internal security and security against external threats, respectively. What that means for the size of our "enduring presence" isn't so clear:
âAccording to our calculations and our timelines, we think that from the first quarter of 2009 until 2012 we will be able to take full control of the internal affairs of the country,â Mr. Qadir said in an interview on Monday, conducted in Arabic through an interpreter.
âIn regard to the borders, regarding protection from any external threats, our calculation appears that we are not going to be able to answer to any external threats until 2018 to 2020,â he added.
He offered no specifics on a timeline for reducing the number of American troops in Iraq.
' notes that Qadir's projections were slightly less dire last year, when he projected full security by 2018. But if there's anything the Iraq War has taught us, it's to take government prognostications very lightly.