Going all in
Time to go
Two Deadlines and an Exit
By JOHN F. KERRY
Published: April 5, 2006
WE are now in the third war in Iraq in as many years. The first was against Saddam Hussein and his supposed weapons of mass destruction. The second was against terrorists whom, the administration said, it was better to fight over there than here. Now we find our troops in the middle of an escalating civil war.
Half of the service members listed on the Vietnam Memorial Wall died after America's leaders knew our strategy would not work. It was immoral then and it would be immoral now to engage in the same delusion. We want democracy in Iraq, but Iraqis must want it as much as we do. Our valiant soldiers can't bring democracy to Iraq if Iraq's leaders are unwilling themselves to make the compromises that democracy requires.
As our generals have said, the war cannot be won militarily. It must be won politically. No American soldier should be sacrificed because Iraqi politicians refuse to resolve their ethnic and political differences.
So far, Iraqi leaders have responded only to deadlines — a deadline to transfer authority to a provisional government, and a deadline to hold three elections.
Now we must set another deadline to extricate our troops and get Iraq up on its own two feet.
Iraqi politicians should be told that they have until May 15 to put together an effective unity government or we will immediately withdraw our military............
To increase the pressure on Iraq's leaders, we must redeploy American forces to garrisoned status. Troops should be used for security backup, training and emergency response; we should leave routine patrols to Iraqi forces. Special operations against Al Qaeda and other foreign terrorists in Iraq should be initiated only on hard intelligence leads.
We will defeat Al Qaeda faster when we stop serving as its best recruitment tool. Iraqis ultimately will not tolerate foreign jihadists on their soil, and the United States will be able to maintain an over-the-horizon troop presence with rapid response capacity. An exit from Iraq will also strengthen our hand in dealing with the Iranian nuclear threat and allow us to repair the damage of repeated deployments, which flag officers believe has strained military readiness and morale.
This should have been proposed last summer. Bush didn't want to do it.
What he is basically suggesting is what the US did in Vietnam after 1971, garrison up and withdraw.
The problem is that Sadr and the Kurds want this outcome. Dawa and SCIRI wouldn't last a month wihtout US troops. While Kerry thinks this is blackmail, Sadr has no reason to make a deal, the Kurds peshmerga can fend off the Iraqis for at least a year.
The people in the government are little better than bickering hens. They lack vision and have little, if any support in the populace. The Clerics have been unwilling to back a unitary Iraqi state by encouraging Shia men to join the cops and army until it was very late in the game. The Kurds want to leave Iraq and take Kirkuk with them. The Sunnis need a unified Iraq to survive.
The problem is that few people have a stake in a unified Iraq and threatening to pull US troops makes them look like puppets. If I was a Sadrist or a resistance member, I would love an ultimatum like this. If the government bent to the US, any legitimacy would fly out the window. If they didn't, they would be too weak to suruvive anyway.
It seems like a viable solution, but it really is the trigger to the civil war.
posted by Steve @ 12:04:00 AM