Foreign Policy Blogs

Generalissimo Francisco Franco Is Still Dead

And likewise, the Iraq War is still not over.  Earlier this week, reports came out about the first U.S. combat operation since U.S. combat operations in Iraq ended.  Such stories will continue, even after the withdrawal of the remaining so-called “advise-and-assist brigades” in 2011.  As the New York Times reported last month, in 2011, the U.S. will leave behind up to 7,000 private contractors who will, among other things, “search for roadside bombs, fly reconnaissance drones and even staff quick reaction forces to aid civilians in distress.”

The reclassification of “combat soldiers” to “advise-and-assist brigades” was done so that the U.S. could assert that it is adhering to the U.S.-Iraqi SOFA and was Obama’s plan from the start.  So one contending that the law (i.e., the SOFA) is playing a significant role in the situation will have to grapple with the evident truth, articulated by the AP standards editor last week, that the “situation on the ground in Iraq is no different today than it has been for some months.”  Or as a resident of Basra put it when asked about Obama’s recent Iraq speech:

I didn’t see the speech, but they say that Obama announced the withdrawal of the U.S. troops from Iraq, which is very funny because they withdraw, yet they are leaving 50,000 soldiers in military bases. I think this speech is for the media only. I am not convinced by any statements from the U.S. president and Iraqi officials. We know the withdrawal is in name only.

Unfortuanelty, that Basra resident will likely be singing the same tune well beyond 2011.