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This is a really good piece from regarding the necessity of Iraqi’s perceiving the Iraqi government as legitimate.

There is an important concept needed to understand the negotiations — both formal ones, and those using the press as a proxy — between the US and Maliki on the long-term security agreement between our countries. The real issue is not which bases we will maintain, or surrender. It is not whether we will stay for 16 months or ten years. The real issue is whether Iraq is a genuinely sovereign power, with the full authority to negotiate its interests as an equal with America.

It is vitally important to our counterinsurgency efforts that the answer to that question be “Yes.” In order for Iraq to survive its internal pressures, the central government must be accepted as legitimate by the people. This is the capstone of the counterinsurgency effort, the point at which the move from war to law will be complete.