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I said in SusanHu's recent diary that one of our biggest problems is a lack of positive solutions to the problem of Iraq (Link). The biggest problem we, as Democrats, face is that we don't have a solution to Iraq. As Bill Clinton said, "When people are insecure, they'd rather have someone strong and wrong, rather than weak and right." We are right, but we look weak, you might even argue that we are weak, because we have no positive plan for Iraq.

Imagine you are trapped in your house with your family, and the house is surrounded by gunmen intent on killing all of you. There is no way out. So the idea is floated for you to make a charge at the gunmen with a kitchen knife, while your family hope this distracts the gunmen and they can sneak out the back.
It is a stupid plan. It is a suicidal plan. It will, in all likelihood get both you and your family killed. But in the absence of any other option, you'll go with it.

We have the same problem with Iraq.

The Bush plan is a stupid plan, and it will not work. But in the absence of any other suggestion, it is the only plan Americans have. They will take that position of strength, because it is a position at all, over our assertions that the war was wrong without a plan to back it up.

This presents us with a big problem. Iraq is so badly screwed up that very few, if any, real solutions present themselves. Carry on regardless is not an option. Drafting is political suicide, with pulling out not much better. Call on allies when Bush has failed? No one wants to send their children to join ours in the meatgrinder. We're in a hole, make no mistake. But we need to find a positive position before the next election cycle comes round. As I see it, we have two options:

Wait for Iraq to bleed us dry. It's not pretty, and it's not pleasant, but as the death toll increases and Bush's assertions that things are getting better become more and more clearly untrue, we will gain the option of just pulling out. If it is clear that we can't fix it, people will let us leave. But we're not there yet, so we can't use that argument now, or we go against the grain and make ourselves look weak.

Secondly, invite in Iran. Yes, I know it sounds nuts, and it probably is, but it does have the advantage of working in terms of an exit strategy. The Iranians do have the capacity to end this - their army is large, they are a natural ally of the largest group in Iraq, and if we can convince them to enter Iraq in a controlled manner, the bloodshed could hopefully be slowly reduced, in a pretty draconian manner unfortunately.

Neither of these are palatable right now, so we need to play a waiting game, watching the blood of Iraqis and Americans pool at Bush's feet, but try to create a cohesive way to bring these solutions to the fore once it is clear to all that we have already lost in Iraq. Before that point, no option we can present will seem like a viable solution.

Originally posted to Expat Briton on Fri Jun 03, 2005 at 10:15 AM PDT.


Can we offer a viable solution on Iraq now?

33%6 votes
16%3 votes
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38%7 votes

| 18 votes | Vote | Results

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar. (4.00)
    Go on. Give me some mojo.
    •  Thanks for posting this. (none)
      I don't think Dems can continue to duck this issue. They need to come up with something and all get on the same page and sell it the way Republicans do. If Repubs can sell their total horseshit, surely Dems can sell common sense... if they have the courage.
  •  There are no easy or even workable answers (4.00)
    They've gotten us into an absolute goatfuck. We can't withdraw. We can't advance. The status quo is destroying our military and we're running out of soldiers to feed into the meat grinder.

    The only thing I can come up with -- with the caveat that I know fuckall about the impossibly complicated religious, ethnic and political dynamics of Iraq -- is some modified limited hangout partition. Let the Shiites, the Shia, the Sunni and the Kurds each have their own boundaries and government, organized in some kind of loose federation, and let's get the fuck outta there. If it all goes to hell, it all goes to hell. But the insurgency would probably be absorbed, either by government or by the task of controlling/defeating governments. With external threats beyond the U.S. and a central puppet government, the insurgents would have bigger problems and their energies would be divided, and most importantly, they wouldn't have us to pick on anymore.

    I'm sure anyone who knows anything about Iraq beyond what I read in The Times can tell me a million reasons why this won't work, but it's all I can think of from my ignorant armchair.

    "Senators, you polish a turd/Here in the city we got a word for those who'd bed their beloved Big Bird and make a mockery of our freedoms/It's Hey, MF" -L Reed

    by Septic Tank on Fri Jun 03, 2005 at 10:27:50 AM PDT

    •  partition (none)
      I agree. The current strategy is a recipe for slow motion failure, unless we have a draft to greatly increase the number of troops. Right now our forces control nothing. We should give the Sunni triangle to the insurgents and concentrate our forces to help defend the borders of the Kurdish and Shiite areas (if they want us to,) while we let them govern themselves. If Iraqis want a united Iraq, the three groups can negotiate some articles of confederation and go from there. It's none of our fucking business. We should get the fuck out and start working our asses off on energy independence.

      The real problem is that the Bush administration is claiming to be there to spread Democracy and we all know that's bullshit. Dems need to grow a fucking spine and start calling a spade a spade. The Bushies have never given up on their original goal of having a client state with permanent U.S. military bases and control over the oil. That is what our soldiers are dying for. That is why we are burdening our grandchildren with debt to the tune of $100 billion a year. That is what Dems need to start saying loudly and clearly over and over and over and over. This war goes on to keep on life support the sick neo-con wet dream of ruling the world by force.

  •  This is the afterbirth of a Mongolian goat-screw, (4.00)
    to steal one of the more colorful phrases to which my favorite platoon sergeant was prone to use.

    There is no easy way out.  While drawing down our forces in the region, and repositioning a couple of brigades into the kurdish area, I'd keep hammering that nothing the repubs have done had any success, unless the goal was to destroy US leadership in the world and kill US soldiers.
    So my plan, which is actually somewhat realistic, protects those who have stood with us for decades, the Kurds, and minimizes our footprint in the region to something sustainable, and useful, should it become necessary to use them.
    There's not a lot we can do in that region now, and it's all Bush's fault.  All potential realistic options suck for us, and that is all Bush's fault.  That also needs to be hammered home, daily.

    Wounded Warrior Project Give till it hurts. They already did.

    by soonergrunt on Fri Jun 03, 2005 at 10:41:56 AM PDT

  •  One of the thousands of grievous mistakes (none)
    made in this debacle was to allow the Pentagon to maintain control over post-conflict reconstruction instead of using the legions of people who happen to know a bit more about it than your average 20 years old Marine private.  State and USAID fought hard on this point and lost, and we are paying the price for that now.

    Had we, in May 2003, given the responsibility for security to local officials, given them the resources necessary to maintain the peace, and then let them know that reconstruction aid and assistance would flow freely to secure areas while the tap would be turned off in areas where security prevented such assistance, we would have been light years ahead of where we are now.

    It is now a clusterfuck with nearly zero good options, so my vote would go with a programmed sequential withdrawal of US troops, primarily because it is their very presence, without anything more, that is causing a significant number of problems.  We are creating more insurgents than we are eliminating.

  •  MMM (none)
    I think you're being overly generous in assuming that the Bush administration has, or had, a plan. They had a maximalist strategic agenda and Iraq was the first step in it. The problem is they've fallen at the first hurdle, don't know how to extricate themselves, and haven't given up on the agenda yet anyway.

    Getting into Iraq was easy; since then everything has gone wrong. They can't maintain security, they have no control over the political process, and if order is restored they will be asked to leave. No bases, no contracts, just humiliation.

    As regards the Iranians, they have been on the ground in Iraq since day 1. Their friends and allies are in power at the centre, and at the regional level in the Shiite South; they didn't require the permission or invitation of the Bush administration to do this. They simply worked assiduously at the local diplomacy and relationship building that was necessary to assure the "right" outcome in national and local elections. The Iranians also have significant "forces" already on the ground in Iraq. What they will not do is commit their military unless they are forced to.

    Unfortunately, the Bush administration has no coherent Iran policy beyond threats and abuse. It's bad enough having no ambassador in Baghdad, but having no Embassy in Teheran is just a refusal to acknowledge reality. When the State Department announces that they have recruited a  team of crack Shia Jurisprudents to represent US interests at the courts of Najaf, Karbala and Qom then it will be a sign that someone has woken up at Foggy Bottom and put her thinking cap on. However, no one in the Bush administration ( or the Democratic party for that matter ) has the nous to think of this.

    If the Democrats want to come up with a coherent policy on Iraq they will have to acknowledge that the US policy on Iran has to change, restore relations and start talking with Teheran. This will involve discarding the maximalist greater ME policy that the Bush administration is still clinging on to. There is no sign that any Democrats get this fundamental fact or have understood how rapidly power has shifted in the region.

  •  My Plan: Offer It to the Turks (none)
    Who have some experience successfully running a secular government and reasonably tolerant society in an islamic country. They have a strong military to do it too.
    •  And leave the Kurds to genocide? (none)
      That's your real problem. No one wants the Turks there, not even the Sunnis or Shias, but to get them further south they need to steamroll through the Kurdish areas, and remember the Kurds have been fighting a terrorist war against the Turks for the last 30 years... it's not a good solution (but then, what is?).

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