like those helicopters at the end of Vietnam?
May 15, 2004 7:53 PM   Subscribe

Leaving Iraq -- William Lind, the Director for the Center for Cultural Conservatism for the Free Congress Foundation, writes of contingency planning, and our coming escape from Iraq, while keeping as many troops alive as possible. The Wash. Post weighs in as well with "How the US can get out" listing the not-too-pleasant options.
posted by amberglow (19 comments total)

 
damn . a stronger man than i .
posted by mishaco at 8:09 PM on May 15, 2004


that post was supposed to be on the preceeding thread
posted by mishaco at 8:11 PM on May 15, 2004


Alpher used irredentist (correctly!), very nice.
posted by billsaysthis at 8:37 PM on May 15, 2004


The article is rather disingenuous... the only viable option is the last one, and the author knows it.

The first two points leave the US without any valid justification for having invaded Iraq in the first place. First it was WMDs, and when none were found it became democratization; if not that then the President will have to come up with something to tell the family of the nearly 800 soldiers that have died in combat.

The third wrongly assumes that the UN wants in. It doesn't. Iraqis have already grown tired of having foreign overlords, and simply replacing one set with another will do nothing to improve the situation. Also, frankly, the UN has nothing to gain in this situation... didn't Bush condemn it as "irrelevant" anyway? how anxious would you be to essentially pick up the bill for someone who's done little but treat you like sh*t all along?

The fourth flies in the face of the reality which is Iraqi nationalism. Also, the Shiites in the southeast have a great mistrust of Iran lingering from the Iran-Iraq war, and there would be a constant threat of war between the two states. The idea of a separate shiite state would also be completely unacceptable to Saudi Arabia, which Bush is very eager not to offend.

Option 5 is, simply put, suicide. You can't pull 130,000 people out of a country overnight, and retreating armies make excellent targets to an opportunistic enemy. As a "bonus" it would be seen as a surrender on the part of the Americans, and every two-bit madrasas graduate would be very keen indeed to test out his suicide skills States-side. It would be a disaster of unprecedented proportions, and the Administration knows it.

This leaves the status quo as the only realistic course of action.
posted by clevershark at 11:09 PM on May 15, 2004


As a "bonus" it would be seen as a surrender on the part of the Americans, and every two-bit madrasas graduate would be very keen indeed to test out his suicide skills States-side. It would be a disaster of unprecedented proportions, and the Administration knows it.

Right, right. "Peace with honor." These endless remakes....the "domino theory" cast as "the flypaper strategy - I'd rather fight them in the streets of yada yada Saigon/Najaf than in the yada streets of Poughkeepsie yada yada yada", with GW Bush trying out for the leading roles of Lyndon Johnson, Spiro Agnew, and probably even Nguyen Van Thieu. Iraqi Hearts and Minds Take Two, filmed with the technical assistance of Messrs. William Calley and Ernest Medina.

Stop the war. America has lost any shred of moral standing to continue this stinking chickenhawk orgy of second hand conquest.
posted by fold_and_mutilate at 11:56 PM on May 15, 2004


Stop the war

Well, it hasn't really been a war for a while now, if it ever really was. So you mean stop having American soldiers there fighting with various groups within the country, and have them leave Iraq right?
posted by loquax at 1:37 AM on May 16, 2004


finish what you (the american govt.) started.

pulling out will cause more troubles than staying in and fixing the problem.
posted by knapah at 6:52 AM on May 16, 2004


What is with the desperate desire to declare defeat and leave? Endless "Is it Vietnam yet?" editorials hoping that this thing failed because the authors hate the toxic Texan and US power and are more interested in taking the two down a notch than in actually promoting democracy, destroying Arab authoritarianism, curbing fundi nonsense, or any of the other positive outcomes.

In some sense it is a good thing that the US administration is so (insert your analysis here): dumb/stubborn/steadfast as to not be impressed by all of this desperate, predictable nonsense. Before this is over the US butcher's bill will be somewhere in the low thousands--extrordinary low for a multi year conflict fought in urban settings. That's the cost of destroying Saddam and quite probably producing a normal, responsible government in the heart of the Arab world. Get over it.
posted by ednopantz at 8:05 AM on May 16, 2004


Isn't it just common sense to have an exit strategy?--we've already seen that they had no post-invasion strategy at all, and look where it got us.
posted by amberglow at 8:25 AM on May 16, 2004


This is so much better than it was with Sadaam.

S plus!
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 8:41 AM on May 16, 2004


Another overview on exit strategies from Globe and Mail

But the best minds in Washington's bureaucracies, think tanks and campaign offices have shifted their energies to escape plans. In even the most hawkish and conservative circles, the Abu Ghraib prison atrocities have cemented the growing sense that the mission has been irreparably blown.
"The Bush administration seems not to recognize how widespread, and how bipartisan, is the view that Iraq is already lost or on the verge of being lost." Those words were written this week not by a leftist or a Democrat, but by William Kristol and Robert Kagan, two of the more stalwart neoconservatives in Washington...

posted by amberglow at 8:46 AM on May 16, 2004


Isn't it just common sense to have an exit strategy?--we've already seen that they had no post-invasion strategy at all, and look where it got us.

agreed, but it shouldn't be used until the country is (back?) in order.

the mess needs to be cleared up before there is a pullout of US/Coalition forces.
posted by knapah at 9:33 AM on May 16, 2004


Exit strategy? Why?

A very important point: Iraq has been upgraded to a US (Theater) Command, not just a Command of the country itself. This puts it on a par with CENTCOM, no longer just a part of CENTCOM, as a regional Command. Why would the US make such a change if we are planning to leave? The current 3-star general in charge will remain there, as Iraq Forces Commander; but he will joined by a 4-star general as Theater Commander.

Right now we are building a large, relatively modern Iraqi Army, border guard, Civil Defense and other such organizations that will be the backbone for a future Iraq.
The turnover will be of these forces to their elected government. Iraqis will rule Iraq, but we will still be there, both as backup, and to seriously extend our reach in the whole region.

Granted, two US Divisions are slated to be rotated out right now, unless there is an upswing in hostilities in country, or if Iran, Syria or other area nuisance starts cutting up rough; which is a possibility, and soon.

But the Iraq Command will be in charge of the area of Iraq, Iran, Israel, Lebanon, Egypy, Jordan, Syria, North Africa, Central Asia, Afghanistan, the Meditteranean, and who knows what else.

This means that the US will set up permanent bases in Iraq, much like it did in Germany. Which, all told, is an excellent idea. Put your forward bases where they need to be.

Though we have been contemplating an "exit strategy" from Germany recently. Albania and Bulgaria are at the head of the list as possible forward bases, ironically with the aim of defending Europe from an Iranian ballistic missile attack.

We have no intent to just cut and run. The world is a big place, and there is no excuse for ignoring things in the hope that they will go away.
posted by kablam at 10:05 AM on May 16, 2004


Atrocities in Iraq: 'I killed innocent people for our government'
posted by homunculus at 11:45 AM on May 16, 2004


kablam: even with the changes to it being a regional command, is it not wise to have a contingency plan in place for if, and i stress the if, US forces have to leave? for example if Iraq's democratically elected government say "get out" or call on the iraqi people to attack US forces?

i'm hypothesising here, and those examples aren't great. but i believe it's always a good idea to have a plan, even if you hope not to ever use it.
posted by knapah at 1:03 PM on May 16, 2004


kablam: I must take issue with your information. Iraq is not being upgraded to a separate theater command, simply because there is talk (yet talk) of putting a four-star general over three-star Sanchez, who would be a peer of the four-stars running CENTCOM and other theater commands.

The idea that this commander would supersede the responsibilities you list -- most of CENTCOM's drill -- is politically questionable.

I do agree that the long-term strategy, be that as it may and barring scenarios such as outlined at the top of the post, is to maintain permanent forward bases in Iraq. I've always felt that a key part of the Great Game here was to slough off our dependence on the problematic Saudis, prickly hosts at best, no matter how much they need us to continue ruling the peninsula. And our persence in Germany will continue to diminish, but it's unlikely that the investment in critical bases such as Ramstein (with its transport and hospital facilities) will be soon written off. I don't think we fully trust Russia yet, either, the more so because of Putin's success at establishing a kind of oligopoly.

In short, I don't see that putting a four-star in charge of operations is quite the same thing as creating IRAQCOM. Among other things, that implies divvying up the parts of the various services. Whoever gets the gig is going to have plenty on his plate. Certainly at this time the size of the effort will require more than the resources of a single command.

As for an exit strategy, I hope we do have one. But I'm skeptical that even in broad insurrection the Iraqi theater will be as dangerous as, say, Saigon -- which fell to a land army with modern cavalry. Okay, the Saudi F-16s in mujahid hands would be dicey for a few minutes, but I'm not staying up nights worrying about it.
posted by dhartung at 10:56 PM on May 16, 2004


Giblets. The Medium Lobster and Fafnir on Irag exit strategies.
Wise, wise words from deep thinkers (they have a blog for heavens sake!) who have much to contribute to this debate.
Cheney's Mu
One day a troubled monk approached Cheney, intending to ask the master for guidance. A dog walked by. The monk asked, "Does that dog have Buddha-nature?" Cheney shot him. Years later, the monk was enlightened.
posted by thatwhichfalls at 5:33 AM on May 17, 2004


Bush and Blair speed up their exit strategy
posted by homunculus at 12:45 PM on May 17, 2004


new Get Your War On
posted by amberglow at 4:15 PM on May 17, 2004


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