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Iraq passes two critical laws and a budget
Posted by: McQ on Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Last Sunday, CNN’s Wolf Blitzer asked Nancy Peolosi about the success of the “surge” in Iraq.

“Are you not worried, though, that all the gains that have been achieved over the past year might be lost?” Blitzer asked.

“There haven’t been gains, Wolf,” Pelosi replied. “The gains have not produced the desired effect, which is the reconciliation of Iraq. This is a failure. This is a failure.”

Yet today, out of Iraq, comes news that three significant laws were passed by the Iraqi parliament.

First, the The Provincial Powers Law.
It represents an important step toward framing the balance the Iraqi people seek between central government authority and the strengthening of local governments. After many months of careful preparation, the passage of this landmark law represents a historic compromise for Iraqi legislators. The Provincial Powers Law is also a major component of the "benchmark" for setting in place a framework to conduct provincial elections by October 1, 2008.

Key features of the law include:
  • Along with the Elections Law, the Provincial Powers Law provides the authorities to hold new provincial elections and delineates authorities of the federal government in relation to the provinces.
  • The law defines the relationship of the central government in Baghdad to the provincial governments.
  • The law devolves power to the local level in a decentralized system that is groundbreaking for the region – in the Middle East, only the United Arab Emirates has a strong federal system of government.
It also promises further positive action:
The Provincial Powers Law lays the groundwork for provincial elections by requiring the Council of Representatives to pass an elections law within 90 days. Furthermore, this new law sets the date for provincial elections no later than October 1, 2008. Early provincial elections will help enfranchise Sunni Arabs and others who boycotted the 2005 elections.
Then there's the General Amnesty Law:
It represents major progress on a key benchmark to facilitate political reconciliation and the rule of law in Iraq. The General Amnesty Law addresses the scope of eligibility for amnesty for Iraqis in Iraqi detention facilities, whether they have been brought to trial or not. The law exempts from this amnesty those who have committed specific serious crimes, such as premeditated murder or kidnapping, and those who are subject to the death penalty.

The General Amnesty law received broad support from all major political parties in the Council of Representatives. The bill next will be sent to the Presidency Council, which has ten calendar days in which to either sign or reject the legislation. Once through the Presidency Council, the law enters into force on the day it is published in the official gazette.
And last, but certainly not least a budget has been passed by the parliament:
Passage of the 2008 Budget Law represents a significant milestone in Iraq's transition toward using its own resources to provide for security, economic reconstruction, and essential services. This $48 billion budget is a 17 percent increase in expenditures over last year's budget and reflects compromises among Iraq's major political parties:

Security expenditures will increase by 23 percent – from $7.3 billion to $9.0 billion – with $5.1 billion earmarked for the Ministry of Defense and $3.9 billion earmarked for the Ministry of Interior.

The 2008 Budget allots $13.2 billion for investment spending, an increase of 32 percent over last year's $10.0 billion.

Capital funds allocated to the 15 provinces will increase over 50 percent, from $2.1 billion to $3.3 billion, reflecting the improved budget execution performance by provinces in 2007.

Total allocations for the Kurdistan Regional Government will grow from $1.6 billion to $2.7 billion.

Iraq's 2008 budget contains funding for several key programs necessary to promote economic development and support security gains, including:
  • $70 million for a Disarmament, Demobilization, and Reintegration (DDR) program;
  • $417 million for public works programs;
  • $250 million for housing and construction programs; and
  • $62 million for agricultural programs.
Based on increased crude oil exports and persistently high oil prices, Iraq is well positioned to afford an expanded budget in 2008. Oil revenues are expected to grow from $31.0 billion in 2007 to $35.5 billion this year, an increase of 15 percent. Other revenues are expected to grow from $2.4 billion to $6.9 billion.
I assume the usual Nancy Pelosi lites will beam in to tell us again, for the umpteenth time, that the surge has failed and that nothing is being accomplished in Iraq to meet the benchmarks. Do everyone a favor this time and instead of opinion and conjecture, deal with the facts as presented above, ok? See if you can manage to turn those into a convincing argument that no progress is being made in Iraq and the surge has failed, will you?
 
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Yes, the surge failed. here’s more proof.

 
Written By: Don
URL: http://
Glendower: "I can call the devil from the vasty deep".
Hotspur: "Ay, but will he come when you call him?"
(Shakespear, Henry IV, part I)

IOW, the summaries are fine on paper, but will they end up like the new law regarding Baathists (which was in serious trouble, the last I heard)?

On a completely different tack: where is the revenue coming from for this fine $48 billion budget?
 
Written By: kishnevi
URL: http://
IOW, the summaries are fine on paper, but will they end up like the new law regarding Baathists (which was in serious trouble, the last I heard)?
Uh, I’m not sure how to tell you this but as indicated above, it has now been passed into law.
On a completely different tack: where is the revenue coming from for this fine $48 billion budget?
Oil revenue (see last line in the last quote) - while they don’t have an official oil revenue sharing law in effect yet, they are actually sharing the oil revenue.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net
Oh Eeeerb. Where aaaare you?
 
Written By: Joel C.
URL: http://
Nancy Pelosi is absolutely right, and you’re letting your emotions get the better of you, McQ. The surge has reduced violence, but that wasn’t its purpose. It was supposed to provide for reconciliation, and it was supposed to do it in the first couple of months, because the Iraqis were supposed to use we wise political scientists to tell them how to build a country in no time flat, and take every piece of advice we professionals deigned to offer them. Since that didn’t happen, the surge failed. No amount of reconciliation or peace now will change that. It just can’t. You can’t change the score of a football game after the clock runs out. It’s already failed, and we have already declared, from our anti-war ivory towers, that nothing can ever reverse that failure.

See, only we wise anti-war folks can set appropriate time tables for the success of these efforts. If you think it ought to take longer, well, you’re just wrong.

Look at it this way. We know you on the right are always wrong. That’s built into the very post-modernist structure of how we think about armed conflicts. The US can never be right, can never be victorious. That would be unthinkable, because it would undermine one of the axioms of our entire philosophy. The US is always the imperialist aggressor, no matter how much provocation or self-interest is involved.

Therefore, no matter how much evidence you marshall, and no matter how much it looks like it’s a possibility that you might be right about America winning, we have to come up with appropriate goals that are unattainable, so that it’s again proven that you are wrong and that military power never really accomplishes anything. In Iraq that means we pooh-pooh any good news, especially political reconciliation news, and declare that it means nothing and anyway some people are still getting killed. In Afghanistan, it means we keep talking about how the zombie armies of the Taliban are ready to take back the country, and again any conflicting evidence must be dismissed because it goes against the prime axiom of armed conflict involving the US.

Nancy Pelosi understands this. George Bush doesn’t. And neither do you, McQ. Even though I’ve told you many, many times, using posts here and at my own blog that set new records in massive word count. We on the left know that word count can ultimately overwhelm any of your supposed logical arguments, and leave you helplessly waiting for instruction from we wise leftists.
 
Written By: Ott Scerb
URL: http://cluelessprof.maine.edu
I predict a new anti-war talking point: We were wrong! Surge good! Yay surge! OK, now we can go home!
 
Written By: James O
URL: http://
January also saw a record $5B in oil revenue. That should help move reconstruction along.
 
Written By: TallDave
URL: http://deanesmay.com
Prof. Erb — Take heart! There will always be things wrong with Iraq, so you will always be able to tell us and the Iraqis that the surge and Iraq are failures.

Or, as Dan Rather used to say, "Courage!"
 
Written By: huxley
URL: http://
Oh dear, an impotent parliament passes "laws" that will probably never mean anything, and that somehow is progress? The Iraqi central government doesn’t control the country, the laws it passes are virtually meaningless, like in most corrupt third world states. Iraq is controlled by Shi’ite militias, Sunni tribes, and Kurdish separatists. The surge worked in lowering violence, but failed in the sense that Iraq hasn’t developed political stability. Iraq may, in fact, return to the forefront this year with more violence (alongside Afghanistan), showing the failure of US foreign policy.

I’m off to Italy for a week and a half so I won’t be able to debate this further.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
I’m off to Italy for a week and a half so I won’t be able to debate this further.
Don’t worry. I’m sure Ott Scerb will fill in for you. Believe me, most people won’t be able to tell the difference.
 
Written By: Grocky
URL: http://
Funny, the parody ended up being spot on, though Scott was unusually brief. Possibly dispirited.
 
Written By: Lance
URL: http://riskandreturn.net
Can we get his passport pulled before his return trip?

Can we petition Italy for them to just keep the sorry SOB?
 
Written By: Scott Jacobs
URL: http://
Can we petition Italy for them to just keep the sorry SOB?
I’m pretty sure that would be considered an act of war.
 
Written By: Steverino
URL: http://
I’m willing to take that chance, aren’t you?
 
Written By: Scott Jacobs
URL: http://
"There haven’t been gains, Wolf," Pelosi replied. "The gains have not produced the desired effect, which is the reconciliation of Iraq. This is a failure. This is a failure."
Some how her head didn’t start smoking with the obvious illogic of this statement. So she is obviously not a robot.
 
Written By: Keith_Indy
URL: http://asecondhandconjecture.com
I also have to wonder how far some will move the goal posts to paint Iraq as a failed state.
 
Written By: Keith_Indy
URL: http://asecondhandconjecture.com
JS: IOW, the summaries are fine on paper, but will they end up like the new law regarding Baathists (which was in serious trouble, the last I heard)?

McQ: Uh, I’m not sure how to tell you this but as indicated above, it has now been passed into law.


Are you sure? The last I heard, one of the members of the Presidential Council was threatening to veto it (the Shi’ite, I think, but don’t quote me that).
 
Written By: kishnevi
URL: http://
I also have to wonder how far some will move the goal posts to paint Iraq as a failed state.
Well, one of the nice things about that is you don’t have to go far to see it - just watch the comment sections of this blog.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net
Has Boris left for Italy already?

Damn. I wanted to warn him that a fatwa has been issued through al-qaeda calling for "the execution of our failed propagandists in the West."
 
Written By: Martin McPhillips
URL: http://mcphillips.blogspot.com/
Are you sure? The last I heard, one of the members of the Presidential Council was threatening to veto it (the Shi’ite, I think, but don’t quote me that).
Yeah, I’m sure. That’s what parliaments do - pass laws. Now it must be ratified to become official and the posturing on the President’s council may be nothing more than politics, we just don’t know.

To me the important thing is the Iraqi parliament was able to get past its sectarian differences and pass laws (and a budget) which seemingly are acceptable to all factions. That’s progress any way you examine it.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net
This is soooo typical.

First Iraq was a failure because of all the deaths. The deaths go down. Then Iraq is a failure because the Parliament is not passing laws aimed at reconciliation fast enough for their liking. The Legislature passes laws aimed at reconcilition. NOW the Legislature is impotent and any passing is really just pretty caligraphy and about as useful as toilet paper and, as such, irrelevant. Oh, and Iraq is still a failure.

What either criteria do you need, Erb? Every single one of your excuses has failed. By your loose definition, Mexico is as bad as Iraq and the only way to guage how well nation building works is if we transform a mud farming community into Britain in four months.

So, again, I ask you: what Cereal Brand did you get your Doctorate’s degree out of?
 
Written By: Joel C.
URL: http://
Joel, I would think it’s obvious. Froot Loops, of course.
 
Written By: Grocky
URL: http://
To me the important thing is the Iraqi parliament was able to get past its sectarian differences and pass laws (and a budget) which seemingly are acceptable to all factions. That’s progress any way you examine it.

You neocons and your illusory "progress". Today a puppy went hungry on the streets of Basra.

Can you absolutely, positively *guarantee* for all time that these so-called "laws" will work?

I thought not. Don’t talk to me about "progress". It’s all a sham.
 
Written By: Cassandra
URL: http://

 
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