Diana West

Here's your hat, what's your hurry -- but since you're still hanging around, why don't you knot your shoelaces together and soak your head?

That's the unsubtle Iraqi subtext to the agreement the United States recently and triumphantly inked with Iraq widely known as the Status of Forces Agreement, or SOFA.

Officially, the pact is titled "Agreement between the United States and the Republic of Iraq on the Withdrawal of United States Forces from Iraq and the Organization of Their Activities During Their Temporary Presence in Iraq," but I guess AUSRIWUSFIOTATTPI is a hard sell.

Actually, the whole thing is a hard sell, or surely would be if Americans really knew that in the interest of a treaty, the Bush administration has gone so far as to trade away, among other things, some of our troops' constitutional rights.

Media focus has narrowed mainly on a few points, including: Article 24, Paragraph 1, which stipulates a withdrawal date for all U.S. forces from Iraq of no later than Dec. 31, 2011; and Article 12, Paragraph 2, which states that "Iraq shall have the primary right to exercise jurisdiction over United States contractors and United States contractor employees." This means, of course, that as of Jan. 1, 2009, when the agreement goes into effect, all U.S. contractors will be under Iraqi law 24/7, just as though they were tourists vacationing in a foreign country rather than employees of the U.S. government working in a war zone.

But there's so much more to be sick about in this 18-page document, which I only recently found in its entirety online via one of the closer analyses out there by Chris Weigant writing at Huffington Post. (Contrary to my conclusions, Weigant thinks the agreement bodes "a pretty good outcome, all things considered.")

Weigant begins his analysis with Article 4 ("Missions"), aptly noting that "Iraq gets veto power over American operations." But that's putting it mildly. Paragraph 2 reads: "All such military operations ... shall be conducted with the agreement of the Government of Iraq ... shall be fully coordinated with Iraqi authorities." Paragraph 3 reads: "All such operations shall be conducted with full respect for the Iraqi Constitution and the laws of Iraq...." And there's more: "It is the duty of the United States Forces to respect the laws, customs and traditions of Iraq...."


Diana West

Diana West is the author of American Betrayal: The Secret Assault on Our Nation's Character (St. Martin's Press, 2013), and The Death of the Grown-Up: How America's Arrested Development Is Bringing Down Western Civilization (St. Martin's Press, 2007).