Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Forget Exit Strategies, the U.S. Never Had An Entry Strategy In Iraq


As the U.S. sinks deeper and deeper into the blood-soaked sands of the Iraq quagmire, much of the debate here at home has focused on possible exit strategies from this fiasco. I have to admit, I don't feel confident that the U.S. can formulate a workable exit strategy when in fact we never really had an entry strategy that made sense.

The question remains: why exactly did the U.S. invade Iraq? It's a question that I think the families of the 2,128 dead soldiers are entitled to know. So are America's hard-pressed working-class and middle-class taxpayers, who've been forced to cough up $224 billion so far for this ongoing fiasco.

Ask any Republican nowadays why we invaded Iraq and you'll get a different answer each time. But you can't really blame GOP partisans; after all, their own leader expresses a new reason every day for why the U.S. invaded Iraq.

Bush can't seem to come up with a consistent reason for the Iraq war. One day he's talking about establishing democracy in Iraq. The next day, he blathers about the need to establish "stability" in the Middle East. The day after that, he'll insist that removing Saddam was crucial to bring about a safer world. And, of course, he never fails to once again try to link Iraq and 9/11.

Curiously, though, in trying to defend his war, Bush these days studiously avoids mentioning anything about WMDs---the reason he gave in the first place. Nor does he mention what a growing number of us suspect was the REAL reason for the invasion: so America could control Iraq's oil.

Many analysts believe that Bush found success in the 2004 election because he projected the image of a strong, decisive leader, while John Kerry was painted as a flip-flopper. It's strange then, that Bush in reality has flip-flopped repeatedly on an issue that no national leader should ever be less than decisive and honest about: launching a war.

It's clear that we never really had a good entry strategy for Iraq. The mirage of the non-existent WMDs evaporated quicker than the Bush team could hoist the now-infamous "Mission Accomplished" banner on the USS Abraham Lincoln in May 2003. It became clear early on that the war was based on lies, a fact that even Fox News was eventually forced to concede.

Bush has long condemned anyone who dares question his war as sending "mixed signals" to America's troops in Iraq. Personally, I think what sends "mixed signals" to our soldiers is when our nation's leader gives a new reason for the Iraq invasion every time he speaks. The fact is, Bush's own idiotic ramblings have done more to hurt the troops in Iraq than any comment war opponents have made. After all, it was Bush himself who taunted the insurgents with his "bring `em on" comment.

As far as Bush's ever-changing reasons for why we invaded Iraq, a reality check is in order:

1. To establish democracy in Iraq. Iraq is an ancient tribal-based culture that predates the birth of Christ. If anyone thinks the U.S. can waltz in and impose Western-style democracy at the barrel of a gun, they've been watching too much Faux News. Bush partisans maintain that Iraq now in fact has a "democracy." As for me, I say it's hard to tell what's really going on in a nation engulfed in a bloody civil war. The average Iraqi on the street is too busy dodging bullets and car bombs these days to give much thought to lofty political ideals.

2. To establish stability in the Middle East. Before 9/11, Osama Bin Laden was a marginal figure in the Islamic world. Most educated Islamic people regarded him with a mixture of loathing and downright embarrassment. The bloody U.S. occupation of Iraq has done more to generate hatred toward the U.S. and to radicalize the Islamic world than anything Bin Laden could have accomplished in a thousand years of recruiting for Al Qaeda.

3. To fight the war on terror. When Bush makes this particular statement his "flavor of the day" excuse I can't help but laugh at the dishonesty of it all. But don't take my world for it. Ask the U.S. State Department, which released a report in April that revealed that terrorist attacks worldwide in 2004 tripled over 2003 (which in turn was the worst year for terrorist attacks in two decades). Or ask the former Sept. 11 Commission, which in a report Monday, charged the U.S. government of failing to protect the country against another terrorist attack.

There's an old saying in Texas: "If you don't like the weather, wait 15 minutes and it'll change." That sounds a lot like Bush and his ever-changing reasons for his war in Iraq. Call me pessimistic, but I get the feeling that the U.S. isn't going to be able to come up with a solid exit strategy from this mess when we never really had a honest entry strategy in the first place.


Anonymous said...

I find it interesting how the U.S. mainstream media pretty much ignored that devastating report from the 9/11 Commission, which was released Dec. 5, and which blasted the U.S. gov't for failing to secure the U.S. from another terror attack.

Anonymous said...

I've talked to Republicans who have insisted to me that WMD's
WERE found in Iraq and that Bush was right all along on this issue. It's scary. The Republicans live off in their own little world, spending all their time listening to Fox News and the right-wing hate radio networks.

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, with out 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 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.