Friday, January 13, 2006

A Clear Exit Strategy

I have been casting about in vain for a clear exit strategy for Iraq. On the one hand, now that we're there we should stay to ensure the job gets done. On the other hand, our simply being there makes things worse by making us a target for opposition, a rallying cry for the insurgents. What do to?

Why, John Murtha's plan, of course, further elucidated on by this article by Zbigniew Brzezinski in the Washington Post.

Quoting Brzezinski...

"Victory or defeat" is, in fact, a false strategic choice. In using this formulation, the president would have the American people believe that their only options are either "hang in and win" or "quit and lose." But the real, practical choice is this: "persist but not win" or "desist but not lose."

"Persist but not win" has been our strategy up till now. I vote for "desist but not lose."

The inarguable fact is that Iraq is in three pieces -- Shiite, Sunni and Kurd. We are not going to change that. At present, the Shiites and the Kurds control the oil-rich regions of the country and have, for the most part, elected the permanent government. The Sunnis dislike of this situation will no doubt result in more insurgent activity. We may not like the details of how those two situations have come about but they are the facts and no amount of wishful thinking or American military power will change that.

So if we withdraw, strategically, carefully, intelligently, we can allow this new state of affairs to solidify, hopefully without breaking down too much. Yes, the Sunnis will be marginalized, yes this could lead to further internal strife, but at least we'll be starting down the road of letting Iraq sort out Iraq's troubles.

Murtha's plan for withdrawal makes sense and has been echoed in Brzezinski's article. Move troops out gradually, re-stationing them in Kuwait and in the Kurdish regions of Iraq, where their presence might actually be welcome.. Keep them ready to jump back in to put out any fires if need be, but for the most part the Iraqis in the government should know that they're on their own. This will be hard for some, but in a sense it's like being a parent -- you have to let the child try, and fail, and learn. Also, naked necessity is a powerful motivator towards compromise; maybe, just maybe, the Iraqi government will start taking steps towards including the Sunnis.

This of course will require additional promises on the part of the United States, to wit:

  • A promise to stay out of Iraqi internal affairs unless requested. It may take some more time before we get to this point, but this should be the goal.
  • A promise not to keep any permanent military installation on Iraqi soil. I've said this before, I say it again. We need to have no ulterior motive. (At least, not any more.)
  • A definite timetable for the partial withdrawal. Let Iraq and the world know in no uncertain terms when the US will have withdrawn to their 'staging areas' in Kuwait and Kurdish Iraq. After that, wait and see.

Critics may say this will be messy, could cost lives, may backfire, etc. Hey, isn't that the situation we're in now?


sevenpointman said...

Howard Roberts

A Seven-point plan for an Exit Strategy in Iraq

1) A timetable for the complete withdrawal of American and British forces must be announced.
I envision the following procedure, but suitable fine-tuning can be applied by all the people involved.

A) A ceasefire should be offered by the Occupying side to representatives of both the Sunni insurgency and the Shiite community. These representatives would be guaranteed safe passage, to any meetings. The individual insurgency groups would designate who would attend.
At this meeting a written document declaring a one-month ceasefire, witnessed by a United Nations authority, will be fashioned and eventually signed. This document will be released in full, to all Iraqi newspapers, the foreign press, and the Internet.
B) US and British command will make public its withdrawal, within sixth-months of 80 % of their troops.

C) Every month, a team of United Nations observers will verify the effectiveness of the ceasefire.
All incidences on both sides will be reported.

D) Combined representative armed forces of both the Occupying nations and the insurgency organizations that agreed to the cease fire will protect the Iraqi people from actions by terrorist cells.

E) Combined representative armed forces from both the Occupying nations and the insurgency organizations will begin creating a new military and police force. Those who served, without extenuating circumstances, in the previous Iraqi military or police, will be given the first option to serve.

F) After the second month of the ceasefire, and thereafter, in increments of 10-20% ,a total of 80% will be withdrawn, to enclaves in Qatar and Bahrain. The governments of these countries will work out a temporary land-lease housing arrangement for these troops. During the time the troops will be in these countries they will not stand down, and can be re-activated in the theater, if both the chain of the command still in Iraq, the newly formed Iraqi military, the leaders of the insurgency, and two international ombudsman (one from the Arab League, one from the United Nations), as a majority, deem it necessary.

G) One-half of those troops in enclaves will leave three-months after they arrive, for the United States or other locations, not including Iraq.

H) The other half of the troops in enclaves will leave after six-months.

I) The remaining 20 % of the Occupying troops will, during this six month interval, be used as peace-keepers, and will work with all the designated organizations, to aid in reconstruction and nation-building.

J) After four months they will be moved to enclaves in the above mentioned countries.
They will remain, still active, for two month, until their return to the States, Britain and the other involved nations.

2) At the beginning of this period the United States will file a letter with the Secretary General of the Security Council of the United Nations, making null and void all written and proscribed orders by the CPA, under R. Paul Bremer. This will be announced and duly noted.

3) At the beginning of this period all contracts signed by foreign countries will be considered in abeyance until a system of fair bidding, by both Iraqi and foreign countries, will be implemented ,by an interim Productivity and Investment Board, chosen from pertinent sectors of the Iraqi economy.
Local representatives of the 18 provinces of Iraq will put this board together, in local elections.

4) At the beginning of this period, the United Nations will declare that Iraq is a sovereign state again, and will be forming a Union of 18 autonomous regions. Each region will, with the help of international experts, and local bureaucrats, do a census as a first step toward the creation of a municipal government for all 18 provinces. After the census, a voting roll will be completed. Any group that gets a list of 15% of the names on this census will be able to nominate a slate of representatives. When all the parties have chosen their slates, a period of one-month will be allowed for campaigning.
Then in a popular election the group with the most votes will represent that province.
When the voters choose a slate, they will also be asked to choose five individual members of any of the slates.
The individuals who have the five highest vote counts will represent a National government.
This whole process, in every province, will be watched by international observers as well as the local bureaucrats.

During this process of local elections, a central governing board, made up of United Nations, election governing experts, insurgency organizations, US and British peacekeepers, and Arab league representatives, will assume the temporary duties of administering Baghdad, and the central duties of governing.

When the ninety representatives are elected they will assume the legislative duties of Iraq for two years.

Within three months the parties that have at least 15% of the representatives will nominate candidates for President and Prime Minister.

A national wide election for these offices will be held within three months from their nomination.

The President and the Vice President and the Prime Minister will choose their cabinet, after the election.

5) All debts accrued by Iraq will be rescheduled to begin payment, on the principal after one year, and on the interest after two years. If Iraq is able to handle another loan during this period she should be given a grace period of two years, from the taking of the loan, to comply with any structural adjustments.

6) The United States and the United Kingdom shall pay Iraq reparations for its invasion in the total of 120 billion dollars over a period of twenty years for damages to its infrastructure. This money can be defrayed as investment, if the return does not exceed 6.5 %.

7) During the beginning period Saddam Hussein and any other prisoners who are deemed by a Council of Iraqi Judges, elected by the National representative body, as having committed crimes will be put up for trial.
The trial of Saddam Hussein will be before seven judges, chosen from this Council of Judges.
One judge, one jury, again chosen by this Council, will try all other prisoners.
All defendants will have the right to present any evidence they want, and to choose freely their own lawyers.

bimplebean said...

I have doubts about getting the insurgency to cooperate with a standard negotiating tactic. Their tactics are suicide bombs, not diplomatic attaches. I like the overall approach though, enforcing fairness, transparency and a clearly defined timetable on both sides.

I do have to take issue with your just blasing the contents of your blog onto my blog without actually adding anything in reponse to my post. But perhaps that's just my ego.