Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Join the How to Get Out Of Iraq Debate

It's always true: the people lead the politicians, not the other way around. Bush equates the division of Iraq into a loose confederation of semi-autonomous states to "failure," but our own Constitution never would have been ratified without the recognition and powers reserved to the thirteen original colonies. The concept of federations taking into account regional differences is nothing new or sinister. Iraqi politicians have been talking about it from the start. The debate is better referred to as "confederation" rather than "partition." Iraq is already in reality three different states that must be cobbled to co-exist as one loose unit, rather than one state which would be split into three. "Partition" invokes carving up something that is whole, a bad connotation. Remember George Bush is the man who up until two months before the invasion did not know that Iraq consisted of Sunni and Shia.

There are two main challenges that require the engagement of an administration that can do something other than order bombing:

- Cut a deal for the oil-poor Sunni region that would assuage their fears of being left behind

- Usher in regional alliances to counterbalance Shia-Iran hegemony

Iraq is now a terrorist playground because power is distributed among hundreds of tribal and militia fiefdoms whose boundaries are blurry and fluid. In this environment the Al Qaeda foreigners can move about at will, train, and learn the limitations of American tactics and weapons in "live fire" exercises. True states with security apparati that consolidate large regions are a precondition for identifying and isolating non-indigenous Al Qaeda fighters. As it so often happens, the truth is exactly the opposite of what George Bush says: pulling out of Iraq would make problems for the terrorists. Whatever comes after, Iraq could not be a better terrorist haven than it is now.

And if Al Qaeda claims victory when we withdraw, so what? Bush is a good enough poltician to know how to counter that spin if he wanted to. Claim victory right back: Saddam is gone and Iraq is a functioning confederation. We're not going home, we're going to Afghanistan, where the whole world supports us. Meet you there. Bring it on.

The most thoughtful thread I have found that explores the confederation solution is at the Washington Post blog for the article "Partition Debate Splits Iraq." You can see right away some smart people participate in this blog. Anyone can add their comment. The people lead.

It's all really quite simple. Either we pull out of Iraq with the best partition plan in place we can manage so we can re-start the real war on terror, or we wait until we have created enough terrorists to carry out multiple successful attacks here in America, in which case we WILL pull out of Iraq, because we'll need the army RIGHT HERE. George Bush probably wouldn't mind having the army to command against us. Remember how badly he wanted to revoke Posse Comitatus after Hurricane Katrina?

We think Bush's policy of staying the course in Iraq is crazy, but in another way it makes quite a bit of sense. See Richard Clarke's "Ten Years Later."

Were we to re-focus the war on Afghanistan and the global terror cells, we might stand half-a-chance of convincing on-the-fence Muslims that we are engaged in a righteous cause against the people who attacked us. Their religion accommodates a concept of revenge that is narrow in scope. But no amount of jaw-boning about spreading democracy in Iraq will convince them we are not there to steal their oil, convert them to Christianity, and use their women as prostitutes. Bush says we cannot afford to pull out of Iraq. But the rest of the country outside his small, rich, undeployed faction, cannot afford to stay.

More posts on a real plan for Iraq here.


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