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Panel on the Status of Forces Agreement

Panel on the Status of Forces Agreement

FOX News Special Report With Brit Hume - November 20, 2008

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEOFF MORRELL, PENTAGON PRESS SECRETARY: This is an agreement between two sovereign nations. It is a very serious agreement. It takes care of both of our interests.

We very much look forward to the second reading in the council of representatives as soon as possible, and then the third reading, and then ultimately passage, because we need this to continue to do our work in support of the Iraqis.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HUME: Well, I suppose that the people over at the Pentagon and Geoff Morrell are hoping that the next reading and the reading after that in which there will be a lot of papers flying around the room and people shoving each other around in the Iraqi.

But it was democracy in action, and I mean action, as they were considering a measure, which appears to be in some difficulty.

So, Charles, what about this measure? It keeps U.S. troops legal in Iraq for a couple more years, by which time even our own generals assume they may be safely be removed. But what about the deal?

KRAUTHAMMER: Well, first of all, on the process, as you pointed out, it was a bit rowdy, although I did not see anybody pull out a gun, or a cane, as once happened in our Congress 150 years ago.

This is an amazing spectacle in and of itself, Democratic factions, openly debating the future of Iraq as a unified country. Amazing. Who would have imagined this two years ago? That is number one. Even if it fails--I think it will likely pass.

If it passes, is an amazing agreement. Everyone has looked at the dates of withdrawal. Incidentally, on the date of withdrawal, it will be the weekend before the Iowa caucuses. So it is a long way away. It is not tomorrow. It is really a long-term agreement.

But what is interesting is another provision which nobody has talking about-a 10-year agreement in which America guarantees Iraq security. In exchange, America gets the right to station its troops in land, air, and sea in Iraq, and equipment.

Essentially, it is a tight alliance between Iraq and America, a democratic Iraq and America, in the heart of the Middle East in one of the three most important countries in the Arab world, ranking after Egypt and ahead of Saudi Arabia.

It would be an amazing development--the changing of Iraq from a perennial enemy, a threat, to America and its neighbors and peace in the region and becoming a tightly knit military and political ally with America if it passes.

HUME: If it passes. That's the question. Mara, what do you think?

LIASSON: We do not know. But I do think there is a lot more to go. We love to see spectacles like that. Usually it is in even more durable democracies like Taiwan where you see those sorts of scuffles.

But I think that this was negotiated over a very long period of time. Nobody is saying that they think it is going to go down to defeat. It is going to be very difficult to get it passed.

And it would not be an amazing thing. Almost at the end of Barack Obama's first term he would be able to declare Iraq not only a success but that we're getting out.

KONDRACKE: The terms are supposed to be immutable that we will be gone at the end of 2011 and that we would be out of the cities in the middle of 2009.

HUME: What about the basing rights that Charles brought up?

KONDRACKE: That is very significant. I think it is combat troops that all have to be out by 2011.

But, you know, everything in Iraq is mutable and negotiable. If it looks as though there is violence in the cities, and American troops are needed in the cities, the Iraqis are able to let them back. And we can talk about the terms and that sort of thing.

There is a constant bargaining arrangement going on in Iraq. Everything is of bizarre. So the fact that this says that they have to be out of the cities doesn't mean that they have to be out of the cities.

HUME: So do you think it will pass?

KONDRACKE: I think it will pass. Ultimately I don't think there is much choice. I they don't pass it then they will have to have a new U.N. resolution, if they can get it, that would leave us in under our terms, not their terms. So they have an interest in passing it.

KRAUTHAMMER: And, remember, a lot of these demonstrations and arguments and protestations -- it is all on national television in Iraq. Provincial elections are the last day, I think, of January, so a lot of this is posturing.

And the assumption is you scream loudly in parliament, it passes, which is what you really want. But if you are on record as opposing it, it will help you win elections.

I think this is a remarkable development, and if it succeeds, even though we might expect changes in government over time, I think it will endure.

HUME: So the idea is that if you're a politician in Iraq, if you disagree but want to go along with something, you should something like this.

KRAUTHAMMER: In Arabic.

HUME: In Arabic.

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