The Home of Steven Barnes
Author, Teacher, Screenwriter

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Leaving Iraq

Here's a possible way to phase out of Iraq with little risk.  Note that I'm not saying it would work, only that it would allow us to test the water. 
Rather than setting a deadline for withdrawal, set CONDITIONS for each stage of a withdrawal: if-then propositions.  A possible sequence (and note that if ANY of these preconditions are not met, the entire thing is void.  I am merely offering a possibility that would allow us to proceed in good faith IF we are dealt with in a similar way.  None of these steps make us more vulnerable, or amount to "cutting and running" if our position is that violations of the agreement nullify the entire thing):
1) IF insurgents claim that they are acting against an occupying enemy, THEN it is reasonable that they would be willing to decrease aggressive activity if Americans pulled out.
2) IF representatives of the insurgents can be communicated with, THEN we could state our willingness to pull back X percentage of our troops so long as violence does not escalate beyond Y point.
3) IF that first stage is successful, THEN Iraqi troops would have an opportunity to solidify their positions, and more American troops could be withdrawn--ALL predicated on the violence not increasing.
4) Continue this cycle, American troops re-positioned for rapid deployment in case of increase of insurgent violence, until Iraq is stabilized under their own armed forces.
Note, please.  This idea is designed as an experiment, giving those Iraqis who legitimately feel America is an occupying force (hell, I would, were I in their situation) a chance to get their country back.  IF the insurgents are actually interested in pure chaos, then obviously such a plan would not work.  But we would have demonstrated to the world our WILLINGNESS to leave, and the insurgents would have proven that they are NOT patriots, but rather are terrorists. 

The only reason I can think of NOT to even consider such a plan is that there are vast interests who want their hands on Iraqi resources, and really, really don't want to leave.

It doesn't matter that you "think" such a plan might succeed or fail.  What would matter is that it have a CHANCE to succeed or fail.  Its failure or success would say quite a bit about the situation, without undue risk to our national interests or security.  Again, when criticizing this idea (which I know you will) please concentrate on ways that it could go wrong--not whether you think it would succeed or not.

I personally believe that it would be possible to set up a series of pre-conditions for withdrawal which, if violated, would prove the contentions of the Right concerning what Iraq is and is not in the war on terror.  But if it went well, it would prove the contentions of the Left that  Iraq is NOT central, and that our efforts should be concentrated elsewhere. 


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