Bush’s Idea of How We Can Exit Iraq
By Steve Russell
Two nights ago, the President advised the anti-war movement clearly, although completely at odds with most of his shifting rationales for the war in Iraq. I would like to address the practicalities of his advice, but first I must complain to my anti-war colleagues about how we have allowed the argument to be framed. My complaint, given that about two thirds of Americans are opposed to the war, might rationally be seen as trivial.
At this point, the advocates of “surge” or “double down” or “business as usual” will give us that the war was ill-conceived and poorly executed. Some of them will even own up to the out and out lying at the front end. “But,” they go on to say, “we are there now. What will happen if we leave right now?”
Translation: Everybody in favor of bloody chaos, raise your hand?
I didn’t think so. Now, how do we win this thing?
One possible comeback is what do you call Iraq right now if not bloody chaos?
Well, our allies in Kurdistan (to the alarm of our allies in Turkey) are enjoying more peace and prosperity than they have in this generation. The bloody chaos is south of there, and we could honestly expect upon an American exit more blood and more chaos and a spin blaming the anti-war movement.
“What happens if we leave right now?” is the wrong question.
The right question is “What happens if we leave right now as opposed to in six months or six years?” We can predict how many American lives will be lost and how much money we will have to borrow from China to finance it, but we can’t honestly say that fewer Iraqis will die. We bought the blood and chaos when we ousted the Hussein government. Whether, from the Iraqi perspective, bloody chaos is a better deal than a bloody status quo is a moot question. The bloody status quo (where death would come predictably from opposing the government) is gone for bloody chaos (where death is random). It would be outrageous for an American to have an opinion which is better.
My point is that the predictable bloodshed that will follow an American withdrawal is not going away in any foreseeable future.
Now, back to Bush’s inadvertent advice to the anti-war movement. He tells us that convincing two thirds of Americans will not stop the war, since he will continue of nobody supports him but Laura and Barney. He proved this week that electing a majority in Congress will not stop the war. However, he claims that we WILL leave Iraq if requested by the Iraqi government! Plainly, we have been lobbying the wrong government. How silly of us!
On May 22, 144 of 275 Iraqi lawmakers signed on to a legislative petition calling on the United States to set a timetable for withdrawal. This petition, while nonbinding in itself, is sufficient to require the speaker to call for a vote on a binding resolution. So it appears that the Iraqi Council of Representatives is running to the left of the US Congress.
Upon learning of this, I headed to the “Engilsh” version of the Iraqi Council of Representatives website for pointers on how to lobby in favor of a timetable for withdrawal. Unfortunately, the website, www.coriraq.net/eng/, is no more functional than the Iraqi government in general. Not even the “contact us” link works. Therefore, the first step might be to offer them an Arabic-English webmaster, if we have one to offer.
Influencing the Iraqi government couldn’t be any harder than influencing the US government. The irony at our end is that Mr. Bush has abandoned any pretense that our presence in Iraq is vital to the US national interest.
On one hand, I understand that most Iraqis do not want their country occupied.
On the other, though, it seems to me that as long as their country is occupied, they can put off some hard governmental decisions. So we should just be thankful that a majority of their representatives seems to think we should leave. And that Mr. Bush is now resting any rationale for the Iraq war on the interests of the Iraqis rather than the interests of the US.