Robert Beecroft, President Obama’s nominee to the position of U.S. ambassador to Iraq, seems a wise choice. According to his State Department biography, he is serving as ambassador to Jordan and has held a series of diplomatic positions based in the Middle East. Let’s hope he can at least keep it in his pants, unlike the last guy. But one thing that came out of Beecroft’s confirmation hearings makes him especially appealing.
Rumor has it that Iraq has been allowing Iranian planes to use its airspace to transport goods to Syria. The Iranian government says those goods are humanitarian in nature. The U.S., along with anyone who knows how Iran neglects its own people, doesn’t buy that. Iraq does, and they’re insisting that the burden of proof be on the U.S.
I would actually prefer to agree with Iraq on that last point. Were U.S. officials to be the ones to inspect the planes, there would be less chance of the inspections going like this:
IRAQ: So can we check the plane for, like, five seconds? That oughta hold ‘em.
IRAQ: (checks) Dude, there are AKs in here. Nothing humanitarian about that.
IRAN: So? Tell them it’s bottled water. You want us to use these on you?
IRAQ: Well . . . no.
But perhaps I’m just letting my imagination get away from me.
In any event, it’s still Iraq’s airspace we’re talking about, thus they are the ones with the legal authority to inspect these planes. Beecroft comes in by agreeing with Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) that their refusal to take advantage of that authority ought to be contingent on U.S. aid and cooperation in the foreseeable future. $1 billion has been budgeted for “economic growth activities in Iraq.” I’d hate to see them miss out on that because they won’t put up on this one.
Interestingly, this story comes at the same time as one of the U.S. rolling back sanctions against the president of Myanmar. This only happened after the release of democracy activist Aung San Suu Kyi and hundreds of other dissidents. An end to sanctions against one man won’t accomplish much – but the release of these dissidents when hundreds of others are still detained won’t make the entire country worthy of more.
Apparently that country was able to drop its political vanity for the sake of engagement with the U.S. and, consequently, engagement with the global economy. Iraq, it seems, hasn’t gotten to that point just yet. An extra reminder is in order, and if Beecroft can see that, he’s all right with me.