The beginning of the end

On Dec. 18, 2007, the U.N. Security Council adopted Resolution 1790 , an extension on the mandate of the multinational armed forces by a little more than a year. Although the request was made on the behalf of the people of Iraq, the proposal was never approved by its parliament âÄî indeed, it was opposed by a majority of lawmakers who rejected âÄúin the strongest possible terms the unconditional renewal of the mandate .âÄù Even so, that proposal was approved by the Security Council, and reset the clock on the multinational force, giving the dwindling âÄúcoalition of the willingâÄù until Dec. 31, 2008. It appears that whatâÄôs true in college is also true in diplomacy: Procrastination has not done well for us. With the deadline looming, American and Iraqi lawmakers are trying to cram in an arrangement. Although the specifics are contested, the Iraqi cabinet recently approved a pact that would enable 150,000 troops to remain for an additional three years. The United States currently has 141,000 troops in Iraq. Since this arrangement is not going through the U.N., the Iraqi parliament will must support this measure, and like Resolution 1790, it has met with opposition. A Wednesday meeting of parliament ended early when a group of lawmakers loyal to Muqtada al-Sadr interrupted in noisy protest. The ensuing chaos ended the proceedings. Should there be no progress before the deadline, U.S. troops will be obliged to cease military activity , confining all personnel to bases and ending material and logistical cooperation, which would likely make an eventual withdrawal more difficult. America cannot and should not maintain military force in Iraq indefinitely, and although counterintuitive, this agreement is a good framework in which to organize our departure. Once all sides sign on, everyone will be on the same page: an end to war in 2011.