Is the SOFA Agreement the New Platt Amendment?

{Bush and al-Malaki before getting comfy on the SOFA}

Iraqi cabinet members started this week by approving the so-called “Status of Forces Agreement,” or SOFA on Sunday. The slightly revised version of the pact which, in theory, sets a timetable for withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq by December, 31st, 2011, is now before the Iraqi parliament – and unfortunately not the US Congress – and could be approved of before the end of the month. A period of negotiations preceded SOFA’s signing this week which focused on a number of proposed amendments. The concessions by both countries are minimal though the corporate media presents them in their exaggerated form. The SOFA agreement that Iraqi members of parliament will see before them does indeed have a set date for U.S. troop removals as opposed to some opaque condition based “horizon.” It also has a “joint committee” for the prosecution of U.S. soldiers who commit crimes – albeit off-base – which is slightly less than the authorities the Iraqi government was seeking.

These compromises, which have been highlighted in newspapers from the Los Angeles Times to the English edition of Al Jazeera, may be only part of the story. Of course, the full text of the SOFA agreement is not available to the world public. Its original draft only became debatable in the media after an Arabic version was leaked. In assessing what the agreement’s complexities are, the corporate media are largely failing as they present simplifications and tie them into notions of “hope.” On the other hand, the only critical look at SOFA comes courtesy of the Socialist Worker which takes notice of very different provisions in the pact between the two countries. The fanciful narrative of a supra-successful “surge” strategy with an equally fanciful withdrawal date is not how the occupations of history, including those carried out by the US themselves, are handled.

The analysis of Simon Assaf of the Socialist Worker is damning. No mention is made of U.S. military bases are made in the print pages of the major newspapers, however, as Assaf points out, the SOFA agreement demands nothing of these possibly permanent fixtures. Furthermore, the article asserts that the U.S. will have a ten year agreement in place to “secure” the country from coups. rebellions, revolutions, and civil war. This is perhaps best understood in another context of the pact which grants the U.S. military the “right” to seize any Iraqi that “works against U.S. interests.” Assaf also puts forth that the U.S. concession of a timetable date is also negotiable in terms of assessing the “situation on the ground.” This point is in direct contrast with the Los Angeles Times’ guide to the SOFA agreement which characterizes the timetables as “condition-less.”

If the SOFA agreement being debated this week in the Iraqi parliament is less favorable than the corporate media is portraying it, it may as well be the new “Platt Amendment.” At the dawn of the twentieth century, the U.S. negotiated a farcical withdrawal of their forces from Cuba following its intervention and occupation of the island. The Platt Amendment was the centerpiece of a continued infringement on Cuban independence and sovereignty as section III deemed in a true oxymoron that:

“The government of Cuba consents that the United States may exercise the right to intervene for the preservation of Cuban independence, the maintenance of a government adequate for the protection of life, property, and individual liberty, and for discharging the obligations with respect to Cuba imposed by the treaty of Paris on the United States, now to be assumed and undertaken by the government of Cuba.”

If the provisions of the SOFA agreement are as the Socialist Worker say they are – in contrast to the convenient omissions of the corporate media – then the essence of the Platt Amendment will be alive and well in Iraq. There is little room to doubt this. Just as Israel “withdrew” from Gaza, the U.S. is poised to infringe on the sovereign integrity of Iraq and maintain a high level of control. It is an occupation after all, and the U.S. is no stranger to that. History may indeed be repeating itself once more.


One response to “Is the SOFA Agreement the New Platt Amendment?

  1. very, very well written indeed, i particulalry loved your elequence; “The corporate media are largely failing as they present simplifications and tie them into notions of “hope”.

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