Benny's World

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Dove Messengers: We Need Peace but With a Plan

With admiration, I have been observing via the blogosphere and some newspapers American patriot Cindy Sheehan and her fellow campers who are peacefully protesting the war next to W's vacation home near Crawford, TX. She feels strongly that it is time to pull the troops out of Iraq and to bring them home since there doesn't seem to be a just cause to keep them over in Iraq, and our brave soldiers continue to be killed or injured as we continue our occupation and fighting a never-ceasing insurrengency.

This protest is not quite like the ones about Vietnam. For starters, there are counter-protests this time to support the President and the military leaders who continue to make blunders in strategy. Second, the anti-war movement demographic tends to be mainly those of my age or a little older(who have been anti-war from Vietnam), not those in their teens or twenties. Third, the media has been very slow to catch on to this movement, which started a couple of years ago, and now are just beginning to pay attention to it.

Sheehan's protest was timely for the media as Congress was recessed, and the polls show that the American public who answer surveys disapprove of the way the President is handling the war. Forty years ago, the media was eager to cover such stories; now, the media is mainly owned by Republicans or Democrats who really care about their pockets. I've noticed several reporters are no longer liberal, especially with the advent of Faux News and its terrible and unbalanced reporting.

I support Cindy in what she is doing. I think she is right to raise the awareness of the casualities of the war and question the motives and tactics of this administration.

However, I don't think we can pull out now. Pulling out now would counteract what many of us said last year in the elections: we need a plan, a strategy to begin pulling out the troops. University of Michigan Juan Cole expressed the best reason not to pull out immediately:

"Personally, I think "US out now" as a simple mantra neglects to consider the full range of possible disasters that could ensue. For one thing, there would be an Iraq civil war. Iraq wasn't having a civil war in 2002. often allege that the US military isn't doing any good in Iraq and there is already a civil war. These people have never actually seen a civil war and do not appreciate the lid the US military is keeping on what could be a volcano."

I agree with Cole. We haven't seen an outright civil war as of yet. It could happen if we left without a plan. I signed a petition that Barbara Boxer circulated on the Internet, as I think she is right. We need a good plan--not continual ambiguity.

On the Talking Points Memo (TPM) blog, Josh Marshall pointed to a 10-point plan that Cole published in terms we should demand of Congress. Below are the 10 points:

1) US ground troops should be withdrawn ASAP from urban areas as a first step. Iraqi police will just have to do the policing. We are no good at it.

2) In the second phase of withdrawal, most US ground troops would steadily be brought out of Iraq.

3) For as long as the elected Iraqi government wanted it, the US would offer the new Iraqi military and security forces close air support in any firefight they have with guerrilla or other rebellious forces. (I.e. we would replicate our tactics in Afghanistan of providing the air force for the Northern Alliance infantry and cavalry.)

4) With the agreement of the elected Iraqi government, the US would prevent any guerrilla force from fielding any large number of fighters for set piece battles.

5) In addition to the service of its air forces, the US would offer targeted military aid to ensure the stability of the Iraqi government. It would help protect key political figures from assassination, and it would give the Iraqi government help in preventing pipeline sabotage so as to increase Iraqi petroleum revenues and strengthen the new government.

6) The US would help rapidly build an Iraqi armor corps. The new Iraqi military's lack of tanks is almost certainly because the US is afraid they might be turned on US troops in a crisis. Once US ground troops are out, there is no reason not to let the Iraqi military just import a lot of tanks and train the new Iraqi army in using them.

7) The US should demand as a quid pro quo for further help that elections in Iraq henceforward be held on a district basis so as to ensure proper representation in parliament for the Sunni Arab provinces.

8) The US should demand as a quid pro quo for further help that the Iraqi government announce an amnesty for all former Baath Party members who cannot be proven to have committed serious crimes, including crimes against humanity. Former Baathists who have been fired from the schools and civil bureaucracy must be reinstated, and no further firings are to take place. (This step is key in convincing the old Sunni Arab elites that they won't be screwed over in the new Iraq.)

9) Congress must rewrite the laws governing US reconstruction aid to Iraq so as to take out provisions that Iraqis must where possible use US companies or materiel. All of the reconstruction money should go directly to Iraqi firms, so as to help jump-start the economy.

10) The US should join the regular meetings of the foreign ministers of Iraq's neighbors, with Condi Rice in attendance, along with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, employing a 6 + 2 diplomatic track to help put Iraq back on its feet through diplomacy and multilateral aid.

Professor Cole's plan is a good place to start. Where I disagree though is that all but point 10 suggests unilateral moves. It should be a coalition, and made to help others understand that the sooner we can get the Iraqi's to defend themselves and thus, be more productive, the sooner we and they don't have to occupy the place in perpertuity.

Cindy, you go girl. But bear in mind, as messenger, be a messenger. Congress needs to take Sheehan's baton and carry the message and use it to pressure the administration to get their act together. Or else, more will die needlessly. Iraqi's are ready for us to leave, but with some semblance of trusting us to not leave them in 3 dictatorships or vulnerable at the mercy of some of its neighbors, such as Iran.

And I don't think Bush wants to leave this cavalier legacy. Bush needs to be an eagle though, not a hawk, and bring us out of Iraq soon.


  • While Juan Cole knows far more about the Middle East than I do, there is also a point when a continued presence in a hostile country becomes untenable as in there's nothing to accomplish by staying there in any form. I don't think we're there, but has anyone talked about what that might look like?

    By Blogger Chancelucky, at 10:33 PM  

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