Iraq – Withdrawal or What?

In my posts about Iraq there was a point that was not clear. In What Do We Do About Iraq? I wrote,

I think it is urgent that the US not have invaded Iraq. We should do absolutely everything we can to prevent the United States from having invaded Iraq.

But I also said that because we did we have an obligation to protect the people of Iraq from civil war, chaos, starvation, etc. as well as an obligation to rebuild the infrastructure we destroyed.
Let me clear something up. I think that the United States should not be in Iraq. I think we all agree on that. But I also don’t advocate that we “just leave” and here is why.


I don’t think we have, or will have for some time, political leadership capable of handling this situation. In fact, our leadership is making matters worse. Torture, death squads, corruption, hidden agendas, screwups and the fact that their primary motivation is personal power not the country’s interests all show their failures.
What can we – you and I who share Seeing the Forest – do about this? Very little. In fact, nothing of consequence to what happens in Iraq. But what is the RIGHT thing to happen next? If there’s nothing we can do, we can at least advocate the RIGHT thing.
The things we are for and against still have consequences, if only to ourselves, to our own humanity. For example, NY Times columnist recently wrote that if the Sunnis in Iraq won’t go along with the majority results in the elections there, we should arm the Shiites and let them take care of the Sunnis. He wrote,

“If [the Sunni] come around, a decent outcome in Iraq is still possible. If they won’t, then we are wasting our time. We should arm the Shiites and Kurds and leave the Sunnis of Iraq to reap the wind.”

So think about that – he is advocating genocide.
Similarly, if you or I advocate just leaving Iraq, knowing full well that it might result in a civil war, we are accepting similar results. And that must have some effect, somehow, on us. I am not a religious person, but I think people are harmed inside somehow when they allow themselves to be desensitized to such a point.
We can advocate just leaving, or anything else, and in a country controlled by the “conservative movement.” the real-world effect of our advocacy will be the same: “Shut up and go away.” So I think that the right thing to happen would be for the world to send in enough troops to stabilize the country and keep the peace while Iraq builds the institutions of justice required to moderate the tensions. No matter how long it takes, or how much that would cost. That is what I advocate. This is why I do not say we should “just leave.”

5 thoughts on “Iraq – Withdrawal or What?

  1. This is the same nonsense again, Dave. There was no confusion about your position, just disagreement.
    You’re still advocating a VERY democrat idea — talk seemingly centrist crapolla because you’re afraid of what the right will say about you if you tell the truth and do the right thing. But as you always (used to) point out, they will say bad stuff about you no matter what you say and do. So you might as well do the right thing.
    You often make sense. The times when you don’t are the times you sound just like a democrat pol. Think about it.

  2. 1. We are not fighting a war. We actually won the war. Saddam was deposed, wasn’t he? We disbanded the Iraqi army, didn’t we? We are now occupying Iraq. I feel like the voice in the wilderness constantly repeating this, but it’s true and everyone’s ignoring it.
    2. Let the Shiites and the Kurds wipe out the Sunnis? Remember those photos, soon after Saddam was deposed, of the Shiites flagellating themselves, blood running down their backs, in a religious ritual? Aside from advocating genocide, doesn’t this mean turning Iraq over to a bunch of fanatical primitives?
    3. There already is civil war going full blast in Iraq. We don’t have a complete or reliable view of what’s going on there, thanks to censorship by the Bush administration. How many private militia ARMIES run by what are essentially war lords, are there, just as there are in Afghanistan? How many are Shiite, Kurd, or Sunni? Word does leak out about some of this, especially when they’re fighting on “our side” or, more properly, we’re fighting on their side. Also, when word gets out about a militia death camp. Do we have any business taking sides in a civil war?
    4. What real chance is there of establishing any kind of meaningful central government in Iraq, democratic or otherwise under these circumstances? Keep in mind that word occasionally leaks out about different Shiite groups fighting each other, too. People who hated each other for a thousand years aren’t gonna suddenly become orderly and reasonable. Saddam held the country together under his iron fist. That’s probably what it takes.
    5. An alternative suggestion I’ve heard is that. as we in fact have here, a government be set up with three “states” which are essentially self-governing, under a limited central government. This has actually worked for the Kurds, who have been self-governing pretty successfully for some time now. Some arrangement would have to be made that allows the Sunnis to share the country’s wealth. The Shiite and Kurd territories both have oil, and the Sunnis don’t. That seems to be a huge part of what’s keeping the Sunnis on the warpath.
    6, If the Bush administration had any idea in Hell what it’s doing, or any kind of plan had been established before the war, we’d have been out of Iraq long ago. The Bush administration seems to believe in pipe dreams and fantasy rather than any kind of planning about anything. They make their own reality, remember? And that reality tends to turn into some mad dream, as will probably turn out to be the case in today’s airport shooting in Miani. Well, we can’t afford to just “stay the course” with this particular unreal reality, can we?
    The plan should be, first, to put together some kind of PLAN. Any damned kind of genuine plan would be better than what’s going on now. What about, instead of taking on the White Man’s Burden and insisting on imposing our will on them, calling together the leaders of the various factions in Iraq and asking them what kind of plan might work, and what kind of future they want? If we’re not capable of doing that, we might as well get out of the way and let them slug it out between themselves.

  3. I think the contractors need to get out of there right now. Get rid of them and then assess the situation without the bloodsucking agitators who really need this war to last forever.
    I think we keep forgetting what Paul Krugman said:
    1). Don’t assume that their policy proposals make sense in terms of their stated goals.
    2). Do some homework to discover their real goals.
    3).Don’t assume the usual rules of politics apply.
    4).Expect a revolutionary power to respond by attacking.
    5). Don’t think there’s a limit to revolutionary objectives.

  4. Dave is making a legitimate point that Joe Conason echoes over at Salon, The only way out: All the plans the Democrats have offered on Iraq rely on wishful thinking. Here’s one that might actually work.
    I’m not certain if Joe’s idea is entirely original, but it does serve as a reminder that Bush’s pledge to never “negotiate with terrorists” is a huge obstacle to opening a window to U.S. withdrawal from Iraq:

    There is a decent and honorable way out that has been addressed by the Iraqis themselves but that no American politician, not even the brave Murtha, is willing to mention: negotiations with the Sunni insurgents. The elected Iraqi government, representing a population eager for us to leave, should begin talks with rebels who are willing to discuss laying down their arms, in exchange for an orderly and scheduled American departure. That is the only way to transform the U.S. occupation from a stick into a carrot — and to extract some kind of victory from what is becoming a strategic disaster.

    I question Conason’s insinuation that Murtha hasn’t raised this issue out of fear of the political consequences. While Joe makes a good point, it also would merely have served to cloud Murtha’s primary message that we have to demand a time table for withdrawal or it will not even be discussed in the M$M.

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