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President George W. Bush is discussing a new agreement with Baghdad that would govern the deployment of American troops in Iraq. With so many Americans adamant about bringing U.S. forces home as soon as possible, a sentiment we strongly share, Bush must not be allowed to tie the hands of his successor and ensure America's continued involvement in an open-ended war.
The White House and the Iraqi government decided in December to pursue the pact as a way to define long-term relations between the two countries, including the legal status of American military forces in Iraq. The ostensible goal is a more durable political, economic and security relationship than is possible under a UN resolution, the current international legal basis for the American military presence in Iraq.
Formal negotiations won't start until February, but already the two sides are laying down markers. The Iraqi defense minister, Abdul Qadir - The New York Times' Thom Shanker that his nation would not be able to take full responsibility for its internal security until 2012 or be able to defend its own borders from external threat at least until 2018.