Wednesday, May 12, 2004

Developing an Exit Strategy for Iraq

Since the Bush administration is unable to formulate a plausible exit strategy from Iraq, the Guardian has kindly asked some notable individuals to supply suggestions.

Jonathan Schell, Howard Zinn, Noam Chomsky, and William Polk responded to the call. I think Polk and Schell's suggestions are well worth reading.

Selected quote from Jonathan Schell's essay:

Senator Richard Lugar has said, "We are in Iraq and so we're going to have to bring stability." Or, as Senator Joseph Biden, among so many others, has said, as if to put an end to all discussion, "Failure is not an option."

* * *

"Failure" is, in truth, never an "option". The exercise of an option is a voluntary act; but failure is forced upon you by events. It is what happens when your options run out. To rule out failure is not a policy but a wish - and a wish, indeed, for omnipotence.

* * *

Under these circumstances, staying the course cannot benefit Iraq. On the contrary, each additional day that American troops continue to fight in Iraq can only compound the eventual price of the original mistake. More lives, American and Iraqi, will be lost; the society will be disorganised and pulverised; and any chances for a better future will be reduced, not fostered.

There are still many things the US can do for the people of Iraq. Continued economic assistance is one. Another is to help international organisations assist (but only to whatever degree is wanted by the local people) in the transition to a new political order.

But all combat operations should cease immediately, and then, on a fixed and announced timetable, the American forces should withdraw from the country. In short, the US, working with others, should give Iraqis their best chance to succeed in their own efforts to create their own future. (emphasis mine)

I'm not sure that peace with honor is an option now. I don't know that it ever was. The US is, and will continue to be, in an asymmetrical battle with terrorists, guerillas and other insurgents both at home and abroad.

This does not mean we should surrender all of our civil liberties to the government for the illusion of safety. Nor should we stay in Iraq. At this point, we are throwing good money after bad.

I am not a pacifist. I believe that this country needs a strong military and that there are times when the military can actually do some good, if deployed wisely, both for the US and for the world community.

Iraq is no longer one of those instances (if it ever was).

Mr. Bush, if you're reading this:

Bring our troops home now.

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