US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is in Baghdad to discuss the future of American forces deployed in Iraq.A few things:
Ms Rice is holding talks with Iraqi leaders including Prime Minister Nouri Maliki during the unannounced visit.
It comes after 10 months of difficult negotiations between Washington and Baghdad about the status of US troops on Iraqi soil.
Reports suggest a compromise draft agreement is being considered by both governments.
Negotiations have been held up by disagreement over the timing of the final withdrawal of US forces from the country and the immunity of US soldiers from prosecution under Iraqi law, says the BBC's Crispin Thorold in Baghdad.
Included in a draft Status of Forces Agreement being considered is a commitment that US troops will start to withdraw from cities across the country from next summer, moving to large bases, out of public view, our correspondent reports.
(1) I wonder what kind of "negotiations" a conqueror and occupier has with the conquered and occupied? I'd guess they might be fairly similar to the negotiation that Uncle conducts with me, when payday rolls around, about whether he'll take as much of my wages as he sees fit.
(2) Why would The Troops need immunity from Iraqi law? The Troops, after all, are merely dispensing Iraqi Freedom™ and painting schools and so forth. It's not like they've been abusing and murdering innocent civilians, or running torture prisons, or anything bad like that.
(3) The Troops are going to be moving out of the cities, out of public view, to "large bases." I thought we weren't building any permanent bases in Iraq? That's what the Bush administration has said, repeatedly. I can hear it now: Well, that depends on what the definition of "permanent" is. Point taken: how can you call a base "permanent" when it obviously won't survive the heat death of the universe, scheduled for a few gazillion years from now? Sorry -- I shouldn't have brought up anything so silly.
Back to the news:
Other issues up for possible discussion include the status of some 20,000 prisoners held by US forces without charge and Iraqi electoral law.(4) Status of 20K prisoners-without-charge held by the legions? That's easy: their status is that they can sleep and move out of their stress positions whenever the American dispensers of Iraqi Freedom™ say they can. Status of Iraqi electoral law? Also easy: obviously, Iraqi electoral law must furnish Iraqis with the same sort of elections we 'Murkans have: frequent, sopoforically entertaining, and totally free of any danger that anything will actually change as a result thereof.
A United Nations mandate for US troops to stay in Iraq expires in December.
Iraqi officials have said they would like to see US forces end routine patrols of Iraqi towns by the middle of next year, and withdraw all combat troops in the next couple of years.
(5) Oh, the UN "mandate" expires in December, does it? Ooooooh, impressive. As Joe Stalin might say, "How many divisions does a UN mandate have?"
(6) Iraqi officials have said they'd like to see US forces do this and that. Alrighty, then. I suppose most five-year-olds would like every dinner menu to consist entirely of ice cream, too. Wonder if that's gonna happen?