Examining the SOFA

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EXAMINING THE SOFA….McClatchy has posted an unofficial translation of the Status of Forces Agreement that the Iraqi cabinet recently approved. Here are the key paragraphs:

“U.S. Forces” refers to the entity that includes all the personnel of the American Armed Forces, the civilian personnel connected to them and all their possessions, installations and equipment present on Iraqi territory.

….All U.S. forces are to withdraw from all Iraqi territory, water and airspace no later than the 31st of December of 2011.

That’s as clear and simple as it could be, and as near as I can tell there are no weasel words elsewhere that weaken this commitment. Leila Feidel apparently agrees:

If Iraq’s parliament endorses the agreement, in six weeks American forces would have to change the way they operate in Iraq, and all U.S. combat troops, police trainers and military advisers would have to leave the country by Dec. 31, 2011. President-elect Barack Obama’s campaign plan to leave a residual force of some 30,000 American troops in Iraq would be impossible under the pact.

Now, obviously Iraq and the U.S. can mutually agree to amend the SOFA later if they decide to. But the fact that the wording of the current document is so clear — not “aspirational,” not “conditions based” — will make it hard to do that. This language will very shortly get baked into the DNA of every Iraqi in the country regardless of confessional or ethnic loyalty, and the document provides no mechanism for modification aside from changing the SOFA itself, which would require approval from the Iraqi parliament. And what are the odds of that?

The translated agreement is here. I encourage everyone to read through it and look for loopholes. If you find any, leave ’em in comments.

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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