Graeme Wood argues in a Current that it probably takes a little lawlessness and anarchy to make an imperial outpost like the Green Zone and its associated supply lines and protective networks function. I’m not at all certain that Graeme would agree, but this has long been part of the traditional case that empire abroad will undermine the idea of a democratic republic at home. The corruption and sexual violence that’s the subject of his piece is part of that, and the emergence of an active duty theater commander as one of the top GOP surrogates in an election year should probably be seen as another part.
All this is, further, related to things like the Bush administration’s funny-business with the looming status of forces agreement with Iraq. The administration claims that it’s not customary to submit a SOFA for congressional approval, so they’re free to conclude it as an executive agreement. That seems plausible, perhaps, until you consider that this is hardly the same as a peacetime SOFA — following the expiration of the controlling U.N. resolution at the end of the year, the SOFA will be the only legal basis for the continued presence of American forces in the middle of a war zone. And while lots of folks on the Hill are complaining about this, everybody thinks that he will, in practice, be able to get away with it. After all, it’s become an entrenched precept of U.S. politico-media culture that any failure of congress to pony up the funds necessary for the president to do whatever he wants constitutes an abandonment of “the troops.” This turns the constitutional scheme on its head, but it’s where we’ve come to, and the trend certainly didn’t start with George W. Bush.