Instead of moving toward accommodating the demand of Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki for a timetable for U.S. military withdrawal, the George W. Bush administration and the U.S. military leadership are continuing to pressure their erstwhile client regime to bow to the U.S. demand for a long-term military presence in the country.
The emergence of this defiant U.S. posture toward the Iraqi demand for withdrawal underlines just how important long-term access to military bases in Iraq has become to the U.S. military and national security bureaucracy in general.
From the beginning, the Bush administration’s response to the al-Maliki withdrawal demand has been to treat it as a mere aspiration that the United States need not accept.
The counter-message that has been conveyed to Iraq from a multiplicity of U.S. sources, including former Central Command (CENTCOM) commander William Fallon, is that the security objectives of Iraq must include continued dependence on U.S. troops for an indefinite period. The larger, implicit message, however, is that the United States is still in control, and that itnot the Iraqi governmentwill make the final decision.
That point was made initially by State Department spokesman Gonzalo Gallegos, who stated flatly on July 9 that any U.S. decision on withdrawal "will be conditions-based."
In a sign that the U.S. military is also mounting pressure on the Iraqi government to abandon its withdrawal demand, Fallon wrote an op-ed piece published in the New York Times on July 20 that called on Iraqi leaders to accept the U.S. demand for long-term access to military bases. Fallon, who became something of a folk hero among foes of the Bush administration’s policy in the Middle East for having been forced out of his CENTCOM position for his anti-aggression stance, takes an extremely aggressive line against the Iraqi withdrawal demand in the op-ed. In fact the piece is remarkable not only for its condescending attitude toward the Iraqi government, but also for its peremptory tone toward it…