What do you make of this story? According to the Independent, a secret deal is being negotiated in Baghdad that would extend the US military occupation of Iraq indefinitely, regardless of the outcome of the presidential election.
It's being reported that President Bush is asking for 50 military bases, control of Iraqi airspace below 29,000 feet, legal immunity for all American soldiers and contractors, the right to pursue the "war on terror" in Iraq, and the authority to arrest anybody it wants and to launch military campaigns without consultation. That's quite a list.
Iraqi officials fear the agreement will destabilize Iraq's position in the Middle East and ensure an unending conflict in their country. Though Iraqi ministers have said they will reject any agreement limiting Iraqi sovereignty, political observers in Baghdad think they will relent and sign in the end, only protesting now to establish their credentials as defenders of Iraqi independence by a showing defiance.
Not only impact in Iraq, the secret accord threatens to provoke political tumult in the US. President Bush aims to push it through by the end of next month so he can declare a military victory and claim his 2003 invasion has been vindicated. Any long-term solution in Iraq would undercut pledges by Barack Obama, to withdraw US troops if he is elected president in November, and give a boost to McCain who's pointed to a coming victory in Iraq.
With this news of a possible long-standing presence, I'm actually curious — we've heard lots of reasons for the conflict — why do you think the US is there?