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November 22, 2005

A Question About Withdrawal From Iraq

-- by Dave Johnson

I have a question for those who advocate that we "just leave" Iraq: We wrongly invaded, destroyed their infrastructure and killing hundreds of thousands. Do we pay reparations? Do we pay to rebuild the infrastructure of Iraq? Do we pay death benefits to the families? What TERMS do we offer to end the war? (If you think that wars just end when one side decides to "just leave" I suggest opening a history book.)

Do we prosecute the people who started the war? What do we do if Iran and their Taliban-like government ends up in control of the region?

Seriously, where does the thinking go AFTER "just leave?" Is "just leave" about more than getting the horror of this out of our faces for a while? My own opinion is that "just leave" ignores the dimensions of the mess that Bush has created.

What am I proposing? Yesterday 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." Apart from that, I'm proposing that we come to grips with the depths of the real mess we are in. Just leaving might be the right thing to do - AFTER an informed debate that looks at the various LONG-TERM potential outcomes, including the rise of a Taliban in control of the resources of an oil-rich nation-state. We have depleted our military. What if Korea erupts? What if something happens between China and Taiwan? South America? Rep. Murtha pointed out that these are serious reasons to withdraw from Iraq "as soon as practicable."

The best option just might be to retreat now and start building the military we will need to deal with a Taliban-Iran-Iraq superpower ten or twenty years down the road.

Comments please.

Posted by Dave Johnson at November 22, 2005 11:52 AM

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Comments

I think reparations is the better word, but retributions has a fire-and-brimstone sound that goes better with your fantasyland scenario.

If the IRAQIS THEMSELVES didn't agree with those you dismiss as the "just out" crowd, I might give your opinion a moment's consideration. But they do, so I won't.

The US made a horrible, horrible mess. That's an easy thing to say or to write, but what it really means is that little girl with her freshly slaughtered parents' blood all over her dress. Multiplied by several tens of thousands. I am really loathe to even refer to it -- it's too damn fucking easy to refer to it. It's too easy to argue about it.

We should just stop it. Instantly.

Posted by: richard [TypeKey Profile Page] at November 22, 2005 1:25 PM

Yes, it would be nice if it could just stop instantly, wouldn't it? And yes, SOME Iraqis want us to just leave. I'm sure the new President of Iran wants that as well.

But what I asked was - what happens next?

Posted by: Dave Johnson [TypeKey Profile Page] at November 22, 2005 1:33 PM

Next? We just stay there and there's more and more killing. And people like you facilitate it.

Posted by: richard [TypeKey Profile Page] at November 22, 2005 1:41 PM

The fucking war is a goddamn crime.

The only thing to do when you realize you are committing a fucking crime is to fucking stop!

The notion that the Iraqi people, a people that were educated and modern and secular before, will simply succumb to the crazies is assuming quite a lot.

No one knows what the fuck will happen when we leave except we will stop slaughtering innocent people in Iraq.

To stay would be the equivalent of a rapist, getting caught in the act, says he can't stop until his victim reaches an orgasm.

Get the fuck out NOW!

Posted by: Vinnie at November 22, 2005 1:46 PM

Next meant AFTER we withdraw. What happens next. This is about having an informed discussion of what to do, including looking at what happens if we pursue different alternatives. Not just one-line slogans.

For example, what happens if there is civil war after we withdraw? How much in reparations should we pay?

Posted by: Dave Johnson [TypeKey Profile Page] at November 22, 2005 1:47 PM

>>>>>The US made a horrible, horrible mess

You bet. Most certainly. And so did the Iraqis themselves.

Posted by: jonst at November 22, 2005 1:48 PM

Vinnie - of course. But the question of this thread is THEN WHAT HAPPENS?

Posted by: Dave Johnson [TypeKey Profile Page] at November 22, 2005 1:49 PM

Immediate withdrawal, Dave - and reparations sound like a very good idea!

Posted by: Helga Fremlin at November 22, 2005 1:59 PM

Is there a reason no one is offering ANY ideas about what happens after the withdrawal?

Posted by: Dave Johnson [TypeKey Profile Page] at November 22, 2005 2:01 PM

Yes, because demanding that we do so is a trick to delay withdrawal.

Posted by: richard [TypeKey Profile Page] at November 22, 2005 2:04 PM

Dave,

What the hell am I? A goddamn seer?

I don't know what the hell will happen. But the arguments made to stay are exactly the arguments to leave! There is Chaos, there is a civil war going on right now, etc. etc. etc.

The arguments to stay, quite frankly, are racist and paternalistic. The Iraqis are quite capable of running their own goddamn affairs.

Who the fuck do we think we are to say they are not ready to assume authority?

Jesus, that is a pathetic argument.

Posted by: Vinnie at November 22, 2005 2:05 PM

Vinnie -

Which Iraqis do you mean?

Posted by: Dave Johnson [TypeKey Profile Page] at November 22, 2005 2:12 PM

This is exactly why we must extract some kind of plan from the Bush administration. This is their mess, and they're the ones responsible for cleaning it up. "Stay the course" is not an alternative. What "course'? Dave's absolutely right. There has to be discussion and debate. That's not even possible without accurate information to discuss.

Aside from all the killings, what ARE conditions in Iraq right now? Has power been restored or not, and how much? Water supply? Roads? Schools? Are the reports of at least ankle deep sewage in the streets true or not? Is oil being produced? How much? What kind of income for Iraq is it now bringing in? How about the rest of the economy? Factories? Farming? Hospitals? There have been reports of millions or billions we've already spent on rebuilding the infrastructure there. True or not? How effective? How much money? What's happened to it? I could go on and on, but you see what I mean. We have to have an objective, unbiased assessment of what in Hell's going on there.

Of course while we have or have not been repairing things, we've also been blowing up things in a fruitless effort to stop the "insurgency." Exactly what is this "insurgency," and what role are we really playing in exacerbating or ending it? Is there any POINT to our staying there continuing to blow things up, killing and getting killed/ We cannot allow Bush to simply pull out in time to make points for the 2006 election. We MUST somehow get an objective evaluation of conditions there or we can't make any objective decisions. There's too damned much politics and too damned much emotion.

Posted by: MJ at November 22, 2005 2:17 PM

The Iraqi population generally. They were the most modern, secular, and educated of the peoples of the region. To assume that they will follow the whackos isn't a given. Another strongman will probably emerge, but who knows?

Most of the Iraqi people probably just want life to return to a semblance of normality and an end to the chaos and killing and to be left the fuck alone!

Posted by: Vinnie at November 22, 2005 2:19 PM

Then what? It depends, but to the extent that there's ongoing violence, our NGO's can supply some raw materials (concrete, vests and uniforms, buildings and building materials for the cops, army and government.) To the extent that there's stability, US companies and NGO's can encourage that stability to spread, purchasing things locally when possible, hiring locally too, creating planning boards when possible, and implimenting their plans instead of the plans of outsiders. If 'we're out of Iraq' we may not do this directly, but through NGO's and private business. A second thing to do might be a speech from someone powerful (now I'm really dreaming) that really admits our error, and really demonstrates that we are changing course. Breznev gave a speech like this after Stalin's death, sometime in the 1950's. Then we wait and see, maybe focus on domestics for a few years. Of course, what I think we'll actually do is pretty unrelated to the above. I think we'll leave and simply 'declare victory.' We'll keep our army in Iraq, mind you, just not exposed in the public streets. We'll be on bases in Northern Iraq, and wherever else. We'll guard our oil intersts and blame all democrats for the cutting and the running. We'll have another domestic terror attack soon, too, and it'll be due to acute anger from this region. Terrorists are training there now, that's for sure. Once they attack us again, our freedoms as we know them will fade further into memory, and maybe, just maybe, we'll have another revolution. Then we'll colonize Mars... not to mention jet packs...

Posted by: Jeff Sanderson at November 22, 2005 2:51 PM

Jeff, That was Kruschev, not Breshnev.

Posted by: Vinnie at November 22, 2005 3:03 PM

1) Pay reparations. We can get that money from the money we save on military welfare by allowing a Nuremberg type tribunal prosecute all members of the mercenary forces ( laughingly called the US military) and stripping them of their pensions, citizenship and all benefits.

2) Allow Iraqi's to prosecute all senior civilians ( i.e. bush cheney etc) and any and all military/civilian personel they choose to prosecute for war crimes. This includes Halliburton personnel. Private "Security" firms and any member of the us military they want ( i.e. Abu Ghabib guards, individuals involved in the assault on Fallujah etc)

3) Decommish the military adopt a Constitutional amendment like Japan's.

4) Strip all law makers who voted for this criminial action of any pension or benefits they might have qualified for while abdicating thier constitutional responsibilities.

5) Sieze any and all illegal earnings resulting from this crime> Halliburton, Bechtel etc. This includes seizing salaries paid to individuals while the crime was being committed and any benefits paid out to the owners of the Companies.

6) Seize all assets of the Carlyle group.

Posted by: Ken at November 22, 2005 3:14 PM

Here is an example of something that needs to be discussed:

Anything Bush says about what might happen if we leave is of course not credible at this point. So throw it out.

But it's the ANTI-WAR people who point out that one of the consequences of Bush's invasion is that al Queda is NOW in Iraq and has set up training camps and is having a recruiting bonanza.

So, thanks to Bush al Queda is MUCH stronger than they were before 9/11. If we withdraw, what happens to OUR security here? If al Queda has more resources and recruits than they did in Afghanistan, what does that mean for us here?

Posted by: Dave Johnson [TypeKey Profile Page] at November 22, 2005 3:33 PM

Ken,

Now THAT is a discussion. And I agree with most of it.

Posted by: Dave Johnson [TypeKey Profile Page] at November 22, 2005 3:39 PM

I wave my magic wand and Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, et al, are magically whisked to a dungeon on a distant planet, where they perform hard labor for the rest of their [Earth] days.

I wave my magic wand again and all Iraqi infrastructure is repaired, the cities are free of jihadists, and peace reigns across the fertile crescent.

What? You want reality? Ok, here's a policy that might actually be supported by 50%+1 of Americans, might actually be implemented, and might actually result in a relatively stable Iraq.

1. As Murtha suggested, get U.S. troops out of the job of policing the cities, as near to immediately as is practicable.

2. Pull bulk of U.S. troops back to Kurdistan and Kuwait.

3. Maintain a quick reaction force near Baghdad, but strategically withdrawn, to repel any organized military force (i.e. militia group) that might try to overthrow the Iraqi government.

4. Maintain training camps for Iraqi troops and police, isolated from attack.

5. Pledge a fixed amount of money to Iraq for security costs and infrastructure rebuilding. Let them hire Haliburton if they want, but I doubt they will. Do not pay in duffel bags of cash.

6. Do NOT, under any circumstances, refer to these payments as "reparations" or any other loaded term that will turn off half the American public and sabotage the reconstruction efforts.

7. Negotiate an occupation treaty with Iraq, that would (a) bar the U.S. from using any military bases as a staging area for attacks into any other country, without the permission of the Iraqi government, unless as a response to a direct attack on U.S. forces in the region and (b) set a time limit on how long the U.S. would maintain the bases. Hopefully, this would defuse some of the nationalism-based element of the insurgency.

8. Compel Iraq to sign a non-proliferation agreement with the U.S. and sign the NPT.

9. Lock Vinnie (and anyone else who insists on calling this a defeat) in a fucking closet and throw the troops a parade.

10. Focus on voting machines and media deconcentration and never let this happen again.

Posted by: space at November 22, 2005 4:36 PM

Whoa, whoa, whoa Space.

Just when the fuck did I insist on calling this a fucking defeat?

It is much more..........

the mother of all CLUSTERFUCKS!

Posted by: Vinnie at November 22, 2005 4:43 PM

Shit Space,

This isn't a defeat.

It is a pyrrhic victory.

Posted by: Vinnie at November 22, 2005 4:45 PM

1) If one doesn't admit to the error there is a greater chance that it will happen again. The US (like Germany after WW II, South Africa after apartheid and other infamous regimes) must admit its error.

2) People who are willing to break laws under the rationalization of just obeying orders belong in the dock for war crimes. To allow them to get off scot free for thier crimes is to empower a generation of criminials. The murders must be hauled before a war crimes tribunal.

3) Read history. The plan of having a "quick reaction" force to protect a puppet regime is a recipe for disaster. The British lost an entire army in Afghasistan during the 1800's. The Brit's were chased out of Iraq in the 20's with the same theory. The Russian's were bled white in afghanistan in the 1980's but it is suppose to be different now?
Grow up.

Posted by: Ken at November 22, 2005 5:29 PM

I heard about this advertising scheme on a another blog, that gives away free Apple ipods. It sounded like a scam, but after I googled it, it was legitmiate. You have to sign up for an offer from one the sponser companies. This is for the new video ipod! Here's the link, check it out.
Video Ipod

Posted by: Jane at November 22, 2005 6:51 PM

When did their civil war become our civilwar? I think that's something a country get's to do on their own.We can't even hope to control the way these people think, react, feel.The let's get a plan Is abigbig deal cuz...we have never from day one had one of those. A plan.Wow.What a thought.We should have a plan?? Why is this just evolving day by day.The reason for going there changes daily.If you are seriously concerned about at home security then I would say keep a healthy national guard and army at home.That would be where "we" might get attacked.I will promise you that while we're sprearding ourselves thin over in Iraq, someone, somewhere is paying serious attention.To the fact that we are doing that and they are very used to being patient and they will be sure to know when we are at our weakest and then we can look to have some problems here.If I were a terrorist and trained in patience that is what I would do.Bide my time.I have never got the notion that we fight them there so as not to fight them here.There seem to be a great pleanty of "them".So I'm thinking they can spread out.What we never get is that they are patient.We are the instant gritification society for goodness sakes.They look to eternity.
As far as what happens when we leave??? Maybe the Iraqi people will be able finally to decide that for themselves.
As to costs.Ther is no greater cost then the lives that have been taken or the lives that have been ruined.I think it's time we move on to just the monitary costs and leave the human costs behind us.At this rate those could go on forever.
Excuse all typos.There are many.I've been up since 4am.Sorry.

Posted by: kay at November 22, 2005 7:07 PM

"When did their civil war become our civil war?"

When we invaded their country and killed hundreds of thousands of people. That's what started it.

Posted by: Dave Johnson [TypeKey Profile Page] at November 22, 2005 8:11 PM

Richard: You're right. What happens next is that we continue to occupy Iraq for another year, or two, or three, at the cost of another several thousand American lives, god knows how many Iraqi lives, and hundreds of billions of our tax dollars - which translates directly into lost lives and diminished quality of life here at home.

MJ: You have good questions - but, you know what? We'll never get an honest answer to them. Why? Read the article about John Rendon - we're paying him and others like him $300 an hour to make sure that we never see the unvarnished truth. To make sure that, anytime anything close to it gets into the media, a counter story is immediately served up to drown it out or mitigate it.

Dave: what next? We get the fuck out. Yesterday. Because THE OCCUPATION IS THE PROBLEM, and the problem will never be solved as long as the occupation continues. What do we do after that? We observe what happens, and react appropriately. Are we invading Iran because it is run by a bunch of psychotic militaristic fundamentalist thugs? No. Why? Because there are sane people in Iran who are resisting their control; sane people who actually like Americans, but who if we invaded, would be on the front lines fighting us, blowing themselves up even, doing anything and everything possible to get us the fuck out of their country.

The first step is to get the fuck out. What we do after that - EVEN IF IT INVOLVES MILITARY INTERVENTION, will likely be self-evident.

Posted by: Thomas Leavitt [TypeKey Profile Page] at November 23, 2005 12:14 AM

Dave, once again I will tell you the plan should be to boot the contractors then plan to get the troops out and get them out where they can help if need be, but can't cause more problems every day.

Of course we should make reparations, but we can figure that out later. The first thing should be for us to quit trashing the place.

Posted by: grannyinsanity [TypeKey Profile Page] at November 23, 2005 2:30 AM

Thomas, John Rendon is not God. The Truth Is Out There. Plenty of people have been going to Iraq. Including plenty in congress in both parties. Of course they've undoubtedly only been shown what the administration wants them to see, but somebody has to have been observing with a critical eye. The question is, who to seek out for objective information? Would a blogger's campaign for objective information and the truth possibly work? It would have to be better than mere speculation based on fantasy.

Posted by: MJ at November 23, 2005 6:30 AM

When they (Bush et al) formulated the idea of an invasion, I saw another Vietnam. My solution would be to withdraw all Americans except a few remote bases, far from populated areas, but close enough to come to the aid of an elected government if they pushed the panic button.

On these bases we could have training facilities for Iraqi police, military, and technical workers (oil field workers, utility companies etc.) Help without warriors present.

Without the daily exposure of "targets, the insurgency would surely lose it's popularity among civilians, and that, I believe is what fuels the attacks.

Withdrawel without complete loss of security for the new regime, and without loss of "face."

Posted by: PRsings at November 23, 2005 8:56 AM

Thomas,

Juan Cole, and here Space, have suggested that we get our own forces away from civilians and from visibility ASAP. That way they are there to help if needed but no longer an occupying force, and no longer killing innocent civilians.

I think that is an excellent start. At least get the m out of where they are causing trouble, but close enough to put down trouble from the al Queda types who are there.

Posted by: Dave Johnson [TypeKey Profile Page] at November 23, 2005 10:10 AM

I love the idea of truth and reconciliation, but if that is part of the plan, we'll have to wait for an administration that has actual grownups in it.

Pulling out the highly visible troops and leaving contractors is a good idea if we can have some sense of certainty that the contractors wouldn't all immediately be shot. Since that is what my brother did over there for six months in '04, I am a little leary of that option, especially if he is reactivated.

The Iraqis want us out but will they implode? Or can we trust them to govern themselves even if it is a form we don't like? Again, the grown-up problem....

I am eager to hear more about this and the politician who comes up with an actual plan is going to win teh White House in '08. Please God, don't let it be Jeb!

Posted by: Molly Douthett at November 23, 2005 1:53 PM

I think someone has alluded to this already, but here ya go...

Posted by: Molly Douthett at November 23, 2005 1:58 PM

Yes, we did invade their country.Did we start their civil war? No, we did not.Nor could we possibly have any notion how to make it better.We are definately not resposible for the history behind that.We did not start it as you seem to imply.Those arguements have been going on forever.
Did we kill hundreds of thoousands of people? Yes we did so what kind of credibility do you suppose we have left with them? Yep we're just gonna turn it over to those people that managed to kill a zillion of us and they can figure it out? Right.
We don't have a magic wand here.We can't make it ok.The very best we can do at this point is mostly fade into the background.
I think the pull back to Kuwait arguement that I read today might be our best bet.We can still offer advisors and yes of course the inevitable monitary help that we are always stuck with.You know...the we blew it up, so I guess we'll give you a kazillion dollars to replace it now arguement.
Continueing the killing...on both sides is just not, I can't even find the word I want to use.It isn't ok anymore because we certainly have to have an idea now that it isn't and didn't and won't work anymore.So quit it for God's sake just quit!

Posted by: kay at November 23, 2005 7:12 PM

Yikes. I am so glad that the armchair generals out there are limiting their strategy fantasies to blog commentary only. Cutting and running before the Iraqis can take care of themselves is a great call. Quick reaction forces? Yeah. That will work. By the time they showed up, what ever happened would be long over. This defeatist rhetoric is exactly why our allies, particularly Japan, have said that we could not defeat China, and not because our military sucks (though they view it an incompetent, no thanks to leftards who cry about military failures in the midst of victories), but because the yellow-bellies on the left would demand an immediate withdrawl and cessation of hostilities once we lost 2000 people. Sad and pathetic.

Oh, and you guys wonder why the American military doesn't support or agree with the defeatist left who are calling for their return. I mean, you guys support the troops right? What better deal could they get except for getting to redeploy back to the States and away from danger? Yet the military doesn't support candidates who would do that (majority of soldiers voted for Bush). And I'll give you an example:

Ken: "We can get that money from the money we save on military welfare by allowing a Nuremberg type tribunal prosecute all members of the mercenary forces ( laughingly called the US military) and stripping them of their pensions, citizenship and all benefits."

Hmmmm. There is one reason. The lefts true feelings displayed.

And comparing the US military to rapists, slaughtering innocents, nice:

"No one knows what the fuck will happen when we leave except we will stop slaughtering innocent people in Iraq.

To stay would be the equivalent of a rapist, getting caught in the act, says he can't stop until his victim reaches an orgasm."

Exactly why the left and their defeatism, cries of "Vietnam" and practical celebration of every damned "milestone" of American deaths, earn the scorn of the majority of military members.

Posted by: Duncan Avatar [TypeKey Profile Page] at November 24, 2005 6:39 AM

"Oh, and you guys wonder why the American military doesn't support or agree with the defeatist left who are calling for their return."

I'd like to point out that this is a very dangerous, anti-democratic statement. In America the military is NOT ALLOWED to agree or disagree. We have civilian leadership and the military takes orders and does its job, PERIOD. In America if "the military" decides it doesn't like liberals or Democrats, there's a word for that -- treason.

Posted by: Dave Johnson [TypeKey Profile Page] at November 24, 2005 10:01 AM

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