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“U.S. Out of Iraq,” Me Out on a Limb

with 2 comments

Ok, I’m really no expert on what’s going on in Iraq. Not at all. In fact, I have to admit that as of the late the eyes get a little fuzzy, a little dry feeling when I hit the “war on terror” section of the Times each morning – sometimes I end up reading just the first paragraphs, sometimes not even that.
But there is something a little troubling about the whole “out of Iraq” sentiment, at the march on Sunday and elsewhere.
Believe me, I was very much against the war from the firstmost. UN involvement or no. The question that I just could never get around was “Why now?” And when folks do things that don’t have at first a very clear reason, you can generally be sure there’s a reason buried down deep there somewhere (or, in this case, many reasons buried in plain sight) that’s not so pretty. Anyway, I was against the war. Day one till now.
But I’m not really sure that “getting out of Iraq” at this point is exactly the right course at this point either. Ethically, I mean, above all. I’m pretty sure we have a responsibility to do right by the place now that we’ve bombed the bejesus out of it. And by “right,” I even think I mean what the Bushites say they mean: democracy, freedom, all the rest.
It’s a more nuanced opinion than the Bushites could get their heads around, but I do think it’s very tenable to have been against the war in the beginning and hope for a successful conclusion, even a “victory” of sorts now. (Of course, my “victory” is not theirs. Mine, for instance, wouldn’t have anything to do with their crooked henchmen like Chalabi, I’d like the oil to be nationalized to pay for some nice social programs and infrastructure a la Chavez in Venezuela, and a whole lot of other differences. Actually everything…)
And, on some level, when you get beyond the bullshit that Kerry’s been forced to spout about the war so as not to seem like a pansy or a Europhile or whatever, I have a feeling this is what he’d actually be about too in Iraq. When the Halliburton and Carlyle tentacles are pulled out of the pot, things might seem very different over there in terms of our interests in the region.
So – first of all, I’d hope that we could do better than what Krugman’s advocating in the Times today:

So what’s the answer? Here’s one thought: much of U.S. policy in Iraq – delaying elections, trying to come up with a formula that blocks simple majority rule, trying to install first Mr. Chalabi, then Mr. Allawi, as strongman – can be seen as a persistent effort to avoid giving Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani his natural dominant role. But recent events in Najaf have demonstrated both the cleric’s awesome influence and the limits of American power. Isn’t it time to realize that we could do a lot worse than Mr. Sistani, and give him pretty much whatever he wants?

Nope – I don’t think I’d settle for another Ayatollah. Fine, I guess if he were to be democratically elected, but I wouldn’t be the one to hand him power on a platter. Go from a pseudo-fascist dictatorship to a another Shia theocracy. No thanks.
Very, very reluctantly, I think I’d even redouble efforts before I’d do that. Redouble efforts at what, I’m not sure. But not that…
Secondly, since I at least think it’s possible to have a coherent viewpoint on Iraq that involves both a) a rejection of the administration’s initial logic and current strategy in the whole affair – all the way to an outright rejection of the legitimacy of the war as a whole and b) a sense that it must be followed through, at this point, to its proper conclusion… I wonder that Kerry couldn’t figure out a way to rephrase his war policy into something workable at this point. Some subtle and articulate statement to the following effect:

I was always against Saddam, but I am also disappointed and even offended that we were taken into this war under false pretenses. There may have been other sollutions possible, but the current administration took the path of war. This is the hand that we have been dealt, that we have dealt ourselves. At this point, there is no turning back. But unlike the current administration, a Kerry administration would finish the deal in Iraq in a manner that will win the peace. We will clear the air by cutting out the corporate interests that are muddling our attention on the topic; Halliburton and the Carlyle Group, the oil companies will have to fend for themselves. I believe that gestures of good faith on America’s part will be met with cooperation on the part of the Iraqi people. And the Iraqi people, contrary to the opinion of the current administration, are more than capable and more than willing to govern themselves in a true democracy. A Kerry administration will settle for no middle ground, will not slowly cede power to a new Ayatollah and hope that the American people and the world are not watching.

I am running out of gas, but something along these lines might help Kerry get out of the “flip flop” hole he’s, to a certain extent, dug for himself.
What I’m saying, in short, is that Kerry needs to get way more pointed, way more radical in his general “I’ll do the war better” line of argument. It might work. I think it might even be the most honest answer that he could give to these questions… not just another focus-grouped response.
And perhaps most importantly, it would throw the ball back into Bush’s court… Let him answer this charge, this plan, with his own…
My two cents, late at night and half informed.

Written by adswithoutproducts

August 31, 2004 at 1:06 am

Posted in Politics

2 Responses

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  1. I’m inclined to agree on all points but one (and, unfortunately, it’s the central strategic point). I want to “do right” by Iraq but I simply no longer believe that it is possible. The best reason to have opposed the war (though I didn’t see it at the time) is that democracy-building of this type has never been and still is not feasible–the only honest word for it is colonialism. The American presence is a strategic liability, and not even the best of intentions can justify it. That, in essence, is the choice as I see it: to wallow in our own transcendent ideals or to face the tragedy of our actions. In this case, unfortunately, the gap between intention and effect has become unbridgeable.


    August 31, 2004 at 10:48 am

  2. This makes a lot of sense. While I agreed then and agree now that “that democracy-building of this type has never been and still is not feasible,” I think there may be a narrow sliver of hope that it could turn out for the better, if not the best. But only given a change in regime at home.
    Actually, Kerry said something yesterday that makes me think he’s actually going in the right direction. Can’t find the citation, but mentioned in a speech that he’d have no interest in maintaining US military bases in Iraq after the occupation’s over… This barely gets noticed here, but it’s the sort of thing that plays well (and I’ll bet it does play) over there…


    September 7, 2004 at 11:31 pm

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