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How to get out of Iraq.
May 10, 2004 11:35 PM   Subscribe

How to get out of Iraq. The Nation: There is, however, no agreement or even clarity about such an exit strategy. Nor is any leadership on this crucial issue coming from the Bush Administration or as yet, alas, from the presumptive Democratic candidate, Senator John Kerry. With a sense of obligation and urgency, The Nation, has asked a range of writers, both regular and new contributors to the magazine, for their ideas on America's way out of Iraq
posted by skallas (28 comments total)

 
Bush won't exit. Neither will Kerry.
posted by David Dark at 2:27 AM on May 11, 2004


I just loved the way Chomsky writes "proconsul Bremer". his is a good piece. Zinn's, as it is often the case, gets a little too preachy.
thanks for the link

anyway, footnote:
Most 'Arrested by Mistake'
Coalition intelligence put numbers at 70% to 90% of Iraq prisoners, says a February Red Cross report, which details further abuses.
By Bob Drogin
Times Staff Writer (reg req)

May 11, 2004
WASHINGTON — Coalition military intelligence officials estimated that 70% to 90% of prisoners detained in Iraq since the war began last year "had been arrested by mistake," according to a confidential Red Cross report given to the Bush administration earlier this year.
Yet the report described a wide range of prisoner mistreatment — including many new details of abusive techniques — that it said U.S. officials had failed to halt, despite repeated complaints from the International Committee of the Red Cross.
(...) Red Cross officials had complained to senior military officials that families of Iraqi suspects usually were told so little that most arrests resulted "in the de facto 'disappearance' of the arrestee for weeks or even months."
More than 100 "high-value detainees," apparently including former senior officials in Saddam Hussein's regime and in some cases their family members, were held for five months at the Baghdad airport "in strict solitary confinement" in small cells for 23 hours a day, the report said.
Such conditions "constituted a serious violation" of the Third and Fourth Geneva Conventions, which set minimum standards for treatment of prisoners of war and civilian internees, the report said. U.S. intelligence agencies, including the CIA and the Defense Intelligence Agency, conducted interrogations at the site, but Army units were in charge of custody operations, officials said Monday.
(...)
"Many persons deprived of their liberty drew parallels between police practices under the occupation with those of the former regime," the report noted.

posted by matteo at 2:34 AM on May 11, 2004


They called all the way up to Bennington for an opinion, but couldn't be bothered to ring Binghamton?
posted by raaka at 2:40 AM on May 11, 2004


(also, the cia guy makes sense)
posted by raaka at 2:42 AM on May 11, 2004


For a more balanced view, I offer the other side of this:

  • Douglas Feith on Winning Iraq
  • Michael Rubin says Mistakes Mustn't Halt March
  • Tom Donnelly on Swift Invasion, Slow Victory
  • Robert Kagan and William Kristol call for Democracy Now

  • posted by dagny at 3:07 AM on May 11, 2004


    I have not I confess read all the answers to the question but I question the question itself. It presumes we WANT to get out of Iraq. Easy enough to pack and leave and declare we have done what we set out to do. But all that OIL...who will control it? Even assuming our intentions are benign, we still do not want a bad person in charge and denying us our natural rights to the world's oil resources.
    posted by Postroad at 8:13 AM on May 11, 2004


    For a more balanced view

    because, as we all know, Feith's Office for Special Plans is oh-so-balanced in its analysis, isn't it?
    looks like that stovepipe is getting hotter and hotter, isn't it?
    heh. even the usually oh-so-macho Kagan is now getting a little... worried? (not about the slaughter of innocent lives, but about his reputation/career of course)

    but thanks for the neocon links, dagny -- it's cool to see the guys who dragged Bush (and the world) into this mess trying now to find not a (all-but-impossible, at this point) way out but a way to unload the hot, hot potato into somebody else's hands (ie the Iraqis)

    ;)
    posted by matteo at 8:16 AM on May 11, 2004


    Howard Zinn must be smokin' something because the last group of governments that I would trust to rebuild Iraq, or even to begin negotiating amongst the Sunni/Shia/Kurd population, would be it's surrounding Arab neighbours.
    posted by PenDevil at 8:16 AM on May 11, 2004


    All a waste of time. The handover on June 30th will have consequences impossible to predict, and, unless compelled by circumstances, Bush won't risk a serious change in U.S. force levels before the election.

    After the election is another matter. If Bush wins, he'll be free to do whatever he wants. If he loses, he'll be in legacy mode: either to try to withdraw all the troops before January 20, or to do something which will tie Kerry's hand into completing the Bush policy, whether or not he likes it.
    posted by MattD at 8:23 AM on May 11, 2004


    Leaving Iraq without a stable democracy capable of defending and perpetuating itself would constitute an unconscionable moral failure of this nation. Such a premature withdrawal must not happen.
    posted by techgnollogic at 8:38 AM on May 11, 2004


    Leaving Iraq without a stable democracy capable of defending and perpetuating itself would constitute an unconscionable moral failure of this nation.

    Why?

    I mean it'd be nice if all the nations in the world decided to become democracies, but I don't hold my breath that it's gonna happen. Plus who's to say these nations would elect somebody we'd want in charge of a nation? What if some country wanted to elect Bin Laden, theoretically? If nations wanna be backward, I say that as long as they keep it within their own borders, go right ahead.
    posted by jonmc at 8:52 AM on May 11, 2004


    Postroad,
    You must start including sarcasm tags lest your statement gets misinterpreted!

    would constitute an unconscionable moral failure of this nation

    Too late. The invasion already did that.

    Such a premature withdrawal must not happen.

    A fucking once started must be completed?

    A stable democracy is another neocon pipe dream that will most probably never come to fruition but, just like all their other grand plans, will bring further disaster for all involved.
    posted by nofundy at 8:55 AM on May 11, 2004


    This discussion is silly.

    Mission Accomplished, right? Let's just collect the candy and flowers they have thrown at us and be on our way.
    posted by EmoChild at 8:56 AM on May 11, 2004


    Several of the people in the linked article agree -- you can't simply abandon Iraq (in fact, I don't see any of them saying that).

    The point is can the U.S. successfully impose democracy? Deserved or not, our credibility is very low at this point, and it makes sense to me that ceding the process to, say, the U.N., would be much more likely to be successful. Anyone the U.S. promotes will, whether we like it or not, be tainted by association. If we truly care about the freedom of the Iraqi people, we will cede control of the process to someone with more credibility.

    On a more practical level, the U.N. would probably fail too, but at least the blame would no longer rest entirely on the U.S.

    Of course, that would mean giving up on the neocon fantasy of a pro-US democracy and domino-effects of freedom throughout the region. Anyone stupid enough to believe that was going to work, however, isn't ever going to see reality for what it is.
    posted by malphigian at 8:59 AM on May 11, 2004


    I thought this Peter Galbraith piece How to Get Out of Iraq was particularly thoughtful.
    posted by gwint at 9:10 AM on May 11, 2004


    Another view on How to Get Out of Iraq written before the torture revelations:

    As the war began, the Bush administration was still recruiting the American officials who would serve as the de facto Iraqi ministers. The people so recruited had no time to prepare for the assignment, either in learning about Iraq or in mastering the substantive skills needed to run the ministry assigned to them. Many mistakes were made. For example, the US official in charge of prisons decided to work with Ali al-Jabouri, the warden of Abu Ghraib prison, apparently unaware of the prison's fearsome reputation as the place where tens of thousands perished under Saddam Hussein. The coalition rehabilitated Abu Ghraib and today uses it as a prison. The symbolism may be lost on the US administrators but it is not lost on Iraqis.
    posted by mookieproof at 9:12 AM on May 11, 2004


    oh. hi gwint.
    posted by mookieproof at 9:13 AM on May 11, 2004


    postroad makes the best comment in my opinion. We still live in an oil economy and there is way too much of it in Iraq to make withdrawal, no matter how good it is for so many other reasons, likely to happen. All this bogus talk of the Iraqi people, democracy, etc. is kind of pointless because those reasons enough are not worth all the death and destruction over there. And when I say worth, I mean it's very very expensive to wage such a large war.
    posted by chaz at 9:31 AM on May 11, 2004


    Reasonable suggestion: you metafilter folks are well informed on the matter, better than most groups, and pretty homogeneous in outlook -- far more than the general population, anyway, no Jihadis, no Klansmen, no Halliburton board members, none of the truly demented except that basket case who thinks he's quonsar. If metafilter can agree internally on a way to solve Iraq, then it can be solved. If not, then it can't be solved by purposive human agency and you might as well just let whatever happens happen.
    posted by jfuller at 9:50 AM on May 11, 2004


    denying us our natural rights to the world's oil resources. - Postroad

    Was this the comment you were referring to chaz? Sarcasm tags badly needed!

    If metafilter can agree internally on a way to solve Iraq, then it can be solved. If not, then it can't be solved by purposive human agency and you might as well just let whatever happens happen.
    posted by jfuller at 9:50 AM PST on May 11


    MetaFilter - If we can't solve it, nobody can!
    posted by nofundy at 9:59 AM on May 11, 2004


    A stable democracy is another neocon pipe dream that will most probably never come to fruition but, just like all their other grand plans, will bring further disaster for all involved.
    [sarcasm]Yeah, you can't trust those brown people to run their own country.[/sarcasm]
    posted by darukaru at 10:30 AM on May 11, 2004


    nofundy I am just trying to be realistic about the situation. Oil=Money and people fight wars for one reason only, which is money. It's very expensive to keep soldiers in Iraq, so if there were no monetary rewards, or if they were minimal, we might see a withdrawal. Since the oil is so damn plentiful there, and easy to extract, I think the troops will not leave for a long long time, if ever.

    [sarcasm]Yeah, you can't trust those brown people to run their own country.[/sarcasm]

    Well, obviously not, because Saddam had to go, right? It seems that it's very hard to build a legitimate government when a dictator has been overthrown by outside forces. For example in Spain, if England had invaded to overthrow Franco, would the country (and it's Basques, Catalunyans, etc.) be the stable democracy it is today? I doubt it.
    posted by chaz at 10:42 AM on May 11, 2004


    Perhaps I should have placed more emphasis on the words "our natural rights"?

    I think its written somewhere in the Constitution that we are entitled to all the world's oil reserves at the cheapest possible price. Welcome our 51st state, Iraq!
    posted by nofundy at 10:56 AM on May 11, 2004


    [sarcasm]Yeah, you can't trust those brown people to run their own country.[/sarcasm]

    Why do you assume that the only way they can run their country is using the ÚS model of democracy? That misconception is much more racist than the one that you are trying to criticize, in my opinion. Their culture is thousands of years old, you know.

    Reasonable suggestion: you metafilter folks are well informed on the matter, better than most groups, and pretty homogeneous in outlook -

    You speak as if you were not one of us, one of us, one of us, one of us, one of us, one of us, one of us, one of us, one of us, one of us, one of us, one of us, one of us, one of us, one of us, one of us, one of us, one of us, one of us, one of us, one of us, one of us, one of us, one of us, one of us....
    posted by sic at 11:06 AM on May 11, 2004


    That misconception is much more racist than the one that you are trying to criticize, in my opinion. Their culture is thousands of years old, you know.

    And how many free, enlightened countries has that culture produced in the last, oh, 200 years?

    Yeah, I thought so.
    posted by hadashi at 1:13 PM on May 11, 2004


    Once again, it depends on how you define "free" and "enlightened". It depends on how you frame the idea of "quality of life". Is it to be religious? What religion(s)? Hard-working? Free to buy anything you want? To have no private property? The list of questions is literally endless.

    You have a very specific way of seeing things, Hadashi, that defines an ideal culture in a certain way. Ideal for you. But do you think that every person on the planet defines their ideal culture the way you do? It may surprise you to know that there are people who see American culture as having a slave mentality. Slave to consumerism, to propaganada, to desire, to work, to sin, to greed. Obviously, you would reject that world view, but that doesn't mean that it doesn't exist. There are some within the US who would love to see an American theocracy installed (Christian, naturally), there are others who feel that, for instance, civil liberties are less important to an ideal society than absolute security from external threat. So you see, judging "free" and "enlightened" is a subjective game.
    posted by sic at 4:43 PM on May 11, 2004


    Once again, it depends on how you define "free" and "enlightened".

    I'll bite. How about we go with just the basic basic rights: freedom of speech, freedom of belief and voting rights. For all citizens.
    posted by PenDevil at 12:27 AM on May 12, 2004


    Even for convicted criminals? Citizens under 18? Freedom to say anything anywhere? To threaten the President? To believe in Branch Davidianism? Or some religion that involves criminal activity? (We allow circumcision without a second thought in the West but clitorectemy is morally repugnant, a crime.)

    These things are always more complex than they seem on the surface and when you factor in cultural differences the ideals can be quite a bit different. Your ideal is western based and it's a pretty good ideal, in my opinion, but of course I'm totally biased. What I was trying to say in my first post is that, just because someone doesn't think that a western style democracy will work in Iraq doesn't mean that they don't think that the Iraqis are capable of governing themselves. And the best method for their country would be up to the Iraqis to decide, not me.
    posted by sic at 2:53 AM on May 12, 2004


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