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Our intervention in Iraq has created a chaotic mess, resulted in the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Iraqis and thousands of American servicemen and women, fomented sectarian tensions to the brink of civil war, created millions of refugees and internally displaced Iraqis, destabilized the region, and undermined the moral, legal and diplomatic credibility of our nation.

This tragedy was perpetrated by the Bush Administration.  There is certainly immorality in initiating this tragedy, and even more in continued adherence to the failed policies of this Administration.

Average Americans can see that a centralized, democratic Iraqi government will never emerge from the rubble.

But unfortunately, we now own this mess.  Our obligation is to find a way out of the quagmire without precipitating genocide.

A strong, central, nonsectarian Iraqi Government as envisioned by the Bush Administration is clearly a fallacy.  Iraqis utilized their new democratic enfranchisement to vote along hard sectarian lines, and the existing government is fractured in reflection of the population.  The existing Iraqi government is unable or unwilling to fulfill the American plan.  There is no indication that this structure will ever work in Iraq, regardless of how long we maintain a troop presence.  In short, American commitment to the Bush plan of a strong, central, nonsectarian Iraqi Government is a senseless waste of American resources and lives.  It is immoral.

Good Americans argue that we should withdraw from Iraq NOW.  Defunding the war and precipitously withdrawing our troops will unquestionably reduce the loss of lives of Americans, specifically in the short term when compared to the casualties of a continued presence in Iraq.  If our concern is uniquely over the lives of American troops now, this option seems direct and appropriate at face value.

Without addressing questions of the geopolitical ramifications of our acute withdrawal from Iraq, an immediate moral question we must face when advocating this strategy is "what will happen to the Iraq we leave behind?"

Perhaps it should be that Iraqis alone face the question of whether to come together as a nation.  Perhaps our presence allows them to avoid making difficult choices in forming a state.  Acute troop withdrawal would certainly test this hypothesis.  However, based on the immediate history of post-Saddam Iraq, this option almost certainly would give rise to Hard Partition.  For the past 4 years, Iraq has been dividing along sectarian lines by emigration and internal displacement.  Our precipitous withdrawal would almost certainly foment further sectarian segregation, and importantly would likely permit violence escalate to the level of genocide- American troop presence now is the only check to unrestrained sectarian violence.

Hard Partition, in addition to the potential genocide and tragedy of millions of Iraqis being displaced to resettle without protection or assistance, would certainly result in an inequitable distribution of oil resources.  Sunnis, who comprise 20% of the Iraqi population, are the dominant majority of only 10% of the oil-bearing lands.  Although Kurds and Shiites would likely transition peacefully to independent states, a fall from political domination under the Baathists to an impoverished state is a certain recipe for eternal Sunni discontent.  Indeed, a hard-partitioned Sunni state centered in western and north-central Iraq would likely serve as an eternal breeding ground for future Iraq Sunni terrorists.  

Thus, in consideration of a precipitous US withdrawal from Iraq, we must address the potential political and humanitarian consequences.  Morally, there is no question that if we were concerned about genocide in Bosnia and are concerned about genocide in Darfur, then we must as a nation decide whether we can accept genocide in Iraq.

A Solution
It is clear that the Bush Plan is a failure.  I also argue that in a big way, we are morally obligated to minimize the damage we have done to the world by our failed strategy in Iraq.  I believe that precipitous withdrawal from Iraq will result in unfettered genocide and a political restructuring of Iraq that will harm America in the future.

As an alternative to our past failed policies and a likely Hard Partition following acute withdrawal, I believe that Joe Biden has been offering a solution that will end the American involvement in Iraq with the least loss of American and Iraqi lives, and the best-scenario outcome with respect to regional stability and American security: Soft Partition under a weak federal government.

After considering this issue for quite some time, I believe that Joseph Biden's plan seems the most rational approach to end our involvement in Iraq.  The 5 central points of Biden's plan are as follows:

  1. Establish One Iraq, with Three Regions
  1. Share Oil Revenues
  1. Convene International Conference, Enforce Regional Non-Aggression Pact
  1. Responsibly Drawdown US Troops
  1. Increase Reconstruction Assistance and Create a Jobs Program


Analysis of the Biden Plan

This is partition.  It reflects the ongoing segregation of Iraq along sectarian lines, but provides structured mobilization and resettlement of Iraqis under American and Iraq troop protection.  It creates semi-autonomous states that would hopefully be free of sectarian violence and permit the 2.5 million emigrated Iraqi refugees (who are mostly middle class and professional) to return and rebuild their lives.  A US-brokered revenue and resource sharing plan is critical to ensure Sunni participation. Whether this is achievable is another question, but I believe it is central to any resolution of the Iraq crisis that wants to prevent an eternal Sunni insurgency or terrorist state. This plan calls for continued US presence to manage the partition.  Although this is certainly not what most of us tired of the Bush Plan desire, for the reasons I outlined above, I believe it necessary.  A change in mission may substantially reduce risk of US casualties during our extended presence.  In an analysis of Soft Partition done by the Brooking's Institution (PDF REPORT), present (post-surge drawdown, ~150,000) troop levels would need to be maintained another 12-18 months, followed by substantial drawdown to less than 50,000.  The Brookings analysis notes that this solution would likely have substantial UN involvement in crafting the partition and in maintaining security.  In short, the Biden Plan is an opportunity to re-involve the international community in resolving the Iraq crisis, with a specific goal, a specific plan, and an ultimate withdrawal of our unilateral troop presence.

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Summary

We must stop wasting American resources and end the loss of American's lives on ill-considered and futile plans to create a centralized, American-style Democracy in Iraq.  Importantly, we must do this as quickly as possible, but with clear consideration of the lives of Iraqis, as well as of America's future foreign and domestic security.  I urge that we end the Iraq War, but that we do so in a way that meets our moral obligations to the Iraqi lives we have upended and future generations of Americans who will inherit the world we shape.
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Disclaimer
This endorsement of Joseph Biden's Iraq plan is not an endorsement of his Presidential candidacy.  I respect his service as a Senator as well as his clarity and insight on resolving the Iraq crisis, but I will keep my presidential candidate preference private for the present.

Originally posted to drational on Fri Sep 14, 2007 at 07:10 AM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

    •  I don't agree with your position (6+ / 0-)

      but this is a good diary on a subject that needs to be debated.  Tipped and rec'd.

      "You are seeing impeachment as a constitutional crisis. Impeachment is the cure for a constitutional crisis." -- John Nichols

      by litigatormom on Fri Sep 14, 2007 at 07:24:59 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Thanks (0+ / 0-)

        I am looking for answers just as we all are.

        •  One piece I would change (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          farleftcoast, drational

          We are guilty.  We have a responsibility to fix things.  However, there is no way in hell anything WE do will last because if it has the imprint of USA on it, it is immediately rejected, or blown up.  We must call in others to step into our place to enforce any kind of peace and carry out restructuring & reconstruction.

          All we can do is pay for it.  As long as WE are there, there will not be peace.  

          For example:

          We must ask the Saudis and the Iranians to pony up to provide a police/military presence that we will pay for, with Turkey as buffer between the two.  The Shias can talk to the Iranians gov't and Sunnis can talk to the Saudi king and the Kurds can talk to us.  The Iraqis tell their respective sectarian friends what they need and want, the other party brings it to us with a bill, we write a check.

          That is ALL we can do.

          Give me ten lines from a good man and I'll find something in there to hang him. - Cardinal Richelieu

          by lgrooney on Fri Sep 14, 2007 at 08:43:09 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  Partion is A Colonialist Position (0+ / 0-)

        You don't hear any Iraqis desiring partion. Western imposed solutions will not solve the problem we have created.

        'It's deja vu all over again'-Yogi Berra

        by frandor55 on Fri Sep 14, 2007 at 07:44:53 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Our Troops Rotate In And Out Of Iraq, (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      drational

      all the time.  There should not be a "Precipitous Iraq Withdrawal," there should be a planned withdrawal, just like there is now.  

      And, the Iraqi people must decide their own destiny.  Be it partition, or some sort of Federalism, they must create it.  It has been shown, that the United States cannot decide for them, nor make them fight for something they don't want.

      •  Except that ... (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        cpresley, drational

        the Iraqi people

        Do not exist. It's meaningless to talk about "them" deciding anything, beyond the fact of warring factions that can win, lose, or agree to a truce.

        More broadly, though, I agree with both you and the diarist that redeployment ought to be orderly, and planned and carried out within a diplomatic framework.

        Sadly, this is the one upside to the unlikelihood of getting any redeployment till Bush is out of office. Would you really trust that crowd to disengage in an intelligent, thought-out way? Even if they wanted to?

        The best fortress is to be found in the love of the people - Niccolo Machiavelli

        by al Fubar on Fri Sep 14, 2007 at 07:48:19 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  US oil interests ready to help ... themselves (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      frandor55

      As Krugman points out today, Hunt Oil has already made a deal with the Kurds, and I'm sure Bush's other big oil buds have the rest of the oil fields under their thumbs.
      But I'm not sure a quick withdrawal would be any better or worse what we are doing now. At some point the hate generated from our occupation will boil over. At some point the country will(if it hasn't already) fragment. A new 'Saddam' or some other form of tyranny will emerge to rule, and most probably that will be with the help of religious extremists. At some point we will either have to go back to protect our oil interests, or there will be the backlash and killing that you worry about.
      Doing the right thing at this point is probably out of reach. Something akin to an AA 12 step plan is needed, with the first step admitting to our own failure and addiction.
      No matter what, we are the problem. Our solutions will only creat more havoc. We need to get out. We should hold the current administration accountable, and seek help from the rest of the world. And not matter what, we need to restrict the oil interests of this country from profitting from their involvment in Iraq.

    •  Did you read this : (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      rincewind, hmbnancy

      Blame God and you'll get away with anything.

      by langerdang on Fri Sep 14, 2007 at 07:43:13 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Biden has been (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      drational

      saying this all along.  I don't know if he is correct, but it is the most detailed, well-founded plan I have heard from anyone.  If anyone else has a better idea, he/she is keeping it pretty close to the vest.  I have respect for Biden when it comes to foreign policy.  He shoots off his mouth about other things, but he knows about this stuff.

      "We told the truth. We obeyed the law. We kept the peace." - Walter Mondale

      by luckylizard on Fri Sep 14, 2007 at 08:44:39 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  This is our moral obligation (9+ / 0-)

    Genocide is already taking place in Iraq.

    Our moral obligation to begin with, is impeach and prosecute the criminals that are responsible for this immorality. (Please don't even get me started about not having enough votes that's BS)

    Secondly we begin the process of building a real coalition to bring peace, this of course should include the UN.

    Once these 2 things are done "real peace" will find a way.

    Just my idea, I know I'm just a stupid concerned citizen but I see no other way.

  •  Oil is the problem (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    JohnB47, drational

    A US-brokered revenue and resource sharing plan is critical to ensure Sunni participation. Whether this is achievable is another question, but I believe it is central to any resolution of the Iraq crisis that wants to prevent an eternal Sunni insurgency or terrorist state.

    You can't do that with a weak central government.

    Who was Bush_Horror2004, anyway?

    by Dartagnan on Fri Sep 14, 2007 at 07:14:42 AM PDT

    •  Weak as in (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      cpresley

      the role is essentially only to broker and administer revenue and resource sharing, supported by UN mandated penalties to constituent region-states for noncompliance.

      •  Not with these tribes, I fear. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        drational

        I think it's essentially a hopeless situation. I know we as Americans have trouble processing that, but sometimes that's the reality. There may be no solution except utter civil war and genocide.  That's the true scope of this crime.

        Who was Bush_Horror2004, anyway?

        by Dartagnan on Fri Sep 14, 2007 at 07:47:10 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Fair (0+ / 0-)

          At least this is now an acknowledged and acceptable possible outcome of an acute withdrawal.

          I just want to be sure that we consider the potential ramifications of our demands for withdrawal.

          As long as it is their blood shed in payment for our folly, we can sleep at night.  To me this seems wrong.

          •  It's an outcome not only of withdrawal (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            drational

            But it's already happening/has happened as we're occupying the country.  All I'm saying is that it's likely to happen no matter what type of solution we try to impose, because of the enormous revenue at stake in the oil.

            As for being wrong, yeah, it's about as wrong as you can possibly imagine.

            Who was Bush_Horror2004, anyway?

            by Dartagnan on Fri Sep 14, 2007 at 08:12:42 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

  •  Immediate withdrawal! (5+ / 0-)
    1. There is no indication we are able to create stable gov. without committing massive war crime (killing a huge number of people to homogenize the society)
    1. The so called "fixing Iraq" is nothing more than maintaining little ego. In actuality we are tearing Iraq apart.
    1. Will Iraq implode? Will it explode? will it heal itself with our presence gone?  (all speculations of equal probability. One thing is certain: we are harming Iraqis.)
    1. Our reason for staying in Iraq is pure greed and violence. It's morally dubious. We only cover it up with lies that nobody else but ourselves believe it. (the world didn't buy it.)
    1. We have no control how Israel, Iran, Syria will behave in the near future. The probability we are in for massive regional war is HUGE.

    -------------------

    There are ways to create temporary Iraq government and create a method to restore Iraq internal structure. Unfortunately with our presence there, that won't happen ever.

    Use Tor and PGP on the net. (google it)

    by fugue on Fri Sep 14, 2007 at 07:17:41 AM PDT

  •  Sure, (0+ / 0-)

    ... if there's anything left of Iraq in early 2009. In the meantime there's not the least point talking about it, because only Bush has the power to implement such a thing and he's not going to do anything within a million miles of it. On the contrary, it distracts from the only thing we might possibly do for the Iraqis right now, which is get Bush's occupation off their backs.

    •  Unfortunately (0+ / 0-)

      I think the occupation is the only thing keeping them from killing themselves on a larger scale even than at present.

      So removing whatever security we are providing at present may not be such a helpful gift.

      •  I Give The Iraqis More Credit.... (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        metal prophet, farleftcoast

        There is a MSM meme that the Iraqis are like chlidren and us mature westerners are needed to keep them from destroying themselves.
        Very paternalistic and has racial bias implications.

        'It's deja vu all over again'-Yogi Berra

        by frandor55 on Fri Sep 14, 2007 at 07:50:01 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Europe in 1914 ... (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          farleftcoast, cpresley

          Was full of Western white people, and still fucked up.

          This has nothing to do with inherent characteristics of Iraqis, and everything to do with the fundamental artificiality of imposing nation-state assumptions on former Ottoman provinces. Compare Lebanon and the Balkans.

          The best fortress is to be found in the love of the people - Niccolo Machiavelli

          by al Fubar on Fri Sep 14, 2007 at 07:53:32 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  Moveover ... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        cpresley

        Redeployment is not going to be overnight. It always takes longer to climb out of the cesspool than it took to dive into it.

        And if nothing else we'll need to keep the ship from turning turtle till our troops are all into the lifeboats.

        The best fortress is to be found in the love of the people - Niccolo Machiavelli

        by al Fubar on Fri Sep 14, 2007 at 07:50:47 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  I'm for cut'n'run (10+ / 0-)
    • Over 1 million Iraqi civilians have died already.
    • Tens of thousands are refugees either in-country or abroad.
    • 16,000 Iraqis are infected with cholera.

    And that's just off the top of my head. The US precipitated, not prevented a humanitarian disaster, and I see no grounds for believing "our" continued presence can have a better outcome than the immoral one to date.

    Finally, if there is one thing that virtually all Iraqis (outside the Green Zone) agree on, it is that the US must leave. Can't we even respect the will of the people?

    Finally, I find it interesting that so few people even consider seeking an international consensus or even (perish the thought!) a UN-administered solution.

    •  2.5 million refugees (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      fugue

      mostly middle class professionals.
      We have certainly gutted Iraq, but if we cut and run, I believe that we will destroy the country and jeopardize our future in the long term.

      •  Our Military Presence is The Main Problem (4+ / 0-)

             I usually agree with the Diarist but he/she is approching Iraq from a very "US-centric" position.
        The US should just get out, allow the UN to deal with things, they will do a hell of a lot better than the US military.

        'It's deja vu all over again'-Yogi Berra

        by frandor55 on Fri Sep 14, 2007 at 07:54:51 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  USA more likely to destroy Iraq by remaining. (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        rincewind, dvx, farleftcoast, drational

        I agree that if the USA could salve the current situation, they would be mightily obliged to do so.

        However, it is my belief that the US has neither the military or economic strength, the international moral credibility, nor the internal political cohesion to achieve any (even relatively) positive outcome. The nature of the US republic is now such that I believe it is impossible for it to pursue an ethical or even rational policy in Iraq starting from the current situation.

        The only acceptable solution is ignominious retreat, followed by full and unstinting support of whatever international relief efforts seem likely to be of help over the next decades. Punishment of the war criminals would be nice, too, but I'm having the genie save one wish for my own sweet self.

        To commemorate a past event, you kill and eat an animal. It's a ritual sacrifice. With pie. (Anya)

        by Boreal Ecologist on Fri Sep 14, 2007 at 08:10:55 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  And most of the people... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      dvx, farleftcoast

      ....who insist that Iraq will go to hell if we leave are the same people who got us into this disaster. Why should we start believing them now?

  •  A Question for drational (4+ / 0-)

    Why do you trust Bush to do the moral thing?  How can we discharge our putative moral obligation while our course in Iraq is directed by a manifest madman?

    •  Change in course (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      cpresley

      only by explicit abandonment of present policy and with enforced oversight of the new direction to ending the war.  If Bush will not concede, then we must extract a new direction from his successor.

      We can play hardball with funding, but as I present above, it may not be in the best interests of our country or the Iraqis whose lives we have already fubarred.

      •  Thanks for answering (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        JohnB47, drational, leonard145b

        You also answered the question I pose in a second comment below.  But how can you endorse another 16 months of Bush disaster, another 1500 American lives, another 20,000 to 30,000 Iraqi lives, before we finally implement this plan in January 2009?

        •  Because I honestly believe (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          cpresley, Boreal Ecologist

          that the alternative (precipitous withdrawal) will be worse for the reasons I tried to outline above.

          And I am pretty sure that no matter how much yelling and protesting we do, the decision to withdraw will be up to the next president.

          •  Then You Are Advocating Bush's Plan.. (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            farleftcoast, JohnB47

            ...by advocating remaining in Iraq for years to come as we wait until January 2009 to begin implementing this plan, and then presumably years more to complete it.

            Are you serious?

            •  Come on (3+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              al Fubar, bumblebums, cpresley

              I am for ending the war.  We do as best we can to force Bush to change policy, but the reality of our government is that this will be difficult until there is a new president.

              I just presented a thesis that argues that precipitous withdrawal without regard for consequences may not serve Iraqis or Americans in the long term.

              To characterize my position as advocating "Bush's plan" is not really acceptable if we are having a reasonable discussion.

      •  January 2009 ... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        cpresley

        Is when disengaging from Iraq becomes an immediate, practical concern.

        Which is not to say the problem shouldn't be discussed in advance - you can be sure that all our candidates' foreign-policy and defense teams are doing exactly that.

        The best fortress is to be found in the love of the people - Niccolo Machiavelli

        by al Fubar on Fri Sep 14, 2007 at 07:56:02 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Least worst option? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    cpresley, drational

    Or, maybe the only option?  With a few little details like, how do we force this on the "sovereign" government of Iraq, and how the hell do we get from here to a Baghdad pacified by an international force?

    Good diary.

    Self parody is a delicate art.

    by gzodik on Fri Sep 14, 2007 at 07:20:10 AM PDT

    •  Well we have forced everything on them thus far (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      al Fubar

      and auto-partition is the only thing they seem to be doing of their own accord.

      •  I'm not sure I'd describe (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        rincewind, farleftcoast, cpresley

        what's happening there as "doing it of their own accord". That phrase implies a voluntary, non-violent self-sorting, not being forced out of their homes at the point of a gun in the hands of a teenage militiaman.

        When was the last time anyone asked the Iraqi people themselves what form of government(s) they actually want? I don't know whether to trust anything I read about this situation any more, but I do keep hearing anecdotal evidence that the average Iraqi does not want partition, that despite their differences most non-Kurdish Iraqis see themselves as one nation. The only way to determine this would be through a non-coerced referendum, and the complexity of setting up something like that today, given the internal violence and displacement of the population is daunting to say the least.

        That said, I am honestly not sure what we should do, though I tend to think that any further attempts by the US to impose political solutions will meet with the same lack of success that the previous ones have. I'd pin my hopes on your point 3, followed by an expeditious withdrawal, and hope that would be enough to induce the refugee middle class to return and start rebuilding, because without them it's going to be a long, long time before Iraq resembles anything like a nation again.

        The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.

        by sidnora on Fri Sep 14, 2007 at 08:08:34 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  The way out is by negotiating a grand bargain (3+ / 0-)

    with Iran.  That would assure a stable Iraq, and a safe departure for our troops.

    Bush is too stubborn to consider such a thing.  The jury is still out on the Democrats.

    The influence of the [executive] has increased, is increasing, and ought to be diminished.

    by lysias on Fri Sep 14, 2007 at 07:20:22 AM PDT

  •  "Draw down troops?" (5+ / 0-)

    no

    Put an end to the military occupation of Iraq. US military go to the massive military 'enduring' bases, get on planes and ships and leave the country.

    This above all: to thine own self be true...-WS

    by Agathena on Fri Sep 14, 2007 at 07:22:12 AM PDT

  •  The problem with partition, hard or soft (7+ / 0-)

    is that there are some places, including of course Baghdad and its surrounding regions, where there are mixed populations.  Although the neighborhoods in Iraq are becoming less diverse, i.e., have undergone ethnic cleansing, how do you partition Baghdad?  It's similar to the problem faced in Bosnia, where many Serbs and Croats lived in the same areas as Muslim Bosnians. Do we have to finish the considerable ethnic cleansing that already taken place in Baghdad, and then wall the neighborhoods off from each other? Do we do something like the partition of India, where Hindu and Muslim populations living on the wrong side of the partition line fled across the new Indian-Pakistani border?

    For a long time, I was dubious about rapid withdrawal because of the possible consequences.  Over time, I realized that those consequences would occur whether we left quickly or slowly.

    We've been paying for the broken pots at the Pottery Barn for four and a half years now.  How much longer do we have to keep paying?

    The only way that any kind of partition can happen is if a true multi-national, UN forces comes into Iraq. And how likely is that?

    I don't deny that the consequences of our withdrawal are going to be terrible.  But out of a list of terrible choices, in the end the one that results in the least damage to our troops is the one that I settle on.  

    "You are seeing impeachment as a constitutional crisis. Impeachment is the cure for a constitutional crisis." -- John Nichols

    by litigatormom on Fri Sep 14, 2007 at 07:23:37 AM PDT

    •  I understand the benefit to our troops today (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      rincewind, Catte Nappe

      but the reality of withdrawal is a likely eternally unhappy 5 million Sunnis.  And who will they blame and target to extract revenge?
      My children.

      I am not arguing for a Bush Plan.
      I know this opinion (slower withdrawal) is terribly unpopular here at dKos, but I just feel a need to try to think beyond today....

      •  No need for concern that I mistake your (4+ / 0-)

        arguments for Bush's!

        In many ways soft partition makes sense, and perhaps if we'd gone that way initially it would have worked.  But like our too little, too late counterinsurgency efforts, how do we get the Iraqis there? We can't impose it on them, now that they have their own constitution.  Would they come to this on their own?  They can't even agree on the stupid Oil Law (although part of their reluctance may be the over-reaching benefits to the big oil companies).

        There is also the issue of how a weak federal government would provide security for the nation, and perhaps more importantly, between the "states."

        "You are seeing impeachment as a constitutional crisis. Impeachment is the cure for a constitutional crisis." -- John Nichols

        by litigatormom on Fri Sep 14, 2007 at 07:52:04 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I think soft partiton harnesses what they do best (0+ / 0-)

          post-saddam.
          segregate by sect.  politically and geographically they are drawing lines.
          we accept that and try to move forward and get out as soon as we can broker the final separation.

          Importantly the separation must protect Sunnis.

      •  I could maybe get behind parts (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        farleftcoast, cpresley
        of this plan if you changed every instance of "US" to "UN" (or some other credible international group). We are the biggest part of the problem, I just don't see how we can ever convincingly be the "solution".

        What I'd like to see: we go to the UN on bended knee and abjectly apologize for fucking it up, and beg the international community to clean up our mess. In restitution and proof of our good faith, we pay for the clean-up, in dollars and in resources for rebuilding, but no US troops. We keep our mitts off of whatever resolution the Iraqis and the UN can come up with -- no Security Council vetoes or backdoor sabotage.

        Pipe dreams as long as Bush is in control, so we're either stuck there until Jan '09, or we impeach the fucker. Congress doesn't have the power to cut a deal with the UN/international community, all they can do is cut off money for war and commit money for rebuilding (that will be awesomely expensive, but still probably a fraction of the lives/dollars cost of war).

        p.s. tipped and rec'd because it's an important discussion and to salute your courage ;>

        If you call a chimp a president, how many presidents do we have? One: DICK.

        by rincewind on Fri Sep 14, 2007 at 08:13:12 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Partition Is An Old Israeli Likud Position (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      fugue

      Right wing Israelis have long desired that Arab states be dimembered and then partioned into harmless (militarily) small states..

      The Arab and Islamic world is very aware of the Necon/Likud goals in remaking the Middle East.

      'It's deja vu all over again'-Yogi Berra

      by frandor55 on Fri Sep 14, 2007 at 08:05:00 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  keep forgetting this (0+ / 0-)
      1. society has organic component. We are destroying the fabric of society.
      • for eg. Fallujah, we moved entire population of a city out, then play stupid when it becomes a dead city that can't be revived.
      • observe refugee rates, displaced people. The number is in 2 millions or so. It's some 10-20% of population.
      • Cholera out break. (it's classic symptom of major social breakdown, where people can't get clean water and no health service.)

      This mean people can't go to school, hospital are not running. judges are being assassinated, elderly village are gone, family torn apart.

      as a result: no functioning civil society can exist. Iraq is dying.

      Think about New Orleans. The city was flooded, people move out... and after 2 years the city is still not recovered. And this is just flood.  Big city like baghdad with major war?

      Not to mention we are running Salvadoran option in the area and other social engineering tricks we did in the 60's

      These are massive, as one can see from refugee displace.  Iraq basically is torn inside out, but we pretend it's no more than a TV version of swat raid.

      Use Tor and PGP on the net. (google it)

      by fugue on Fri Sep 14, 2007 at 09:44:19 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Is drational content to endure... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    leonard145b

    ...another 16 months of a hellish Iraq, another 1500 American deaths, another 20,000 to 30,000 Iraqi deaths, before we can implement this plan?  Because it is very apparent that bush will not?  Are you suggesting we wait until January of 2009?

    •  Another 16 months? (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      al Fubar, farleftcoast, cpresley

      How long do you think it will take for a complete and safe withdrawal?

      You don't believe these things happen overnight, do you?

      Shit. If we can get out in 16 months with increasing the loss of American life, I'll be fucking ecstatic.

      TFYQA - think For Yourself, Question Authority

      by Niniane on Fri Sep 14, 2007 at 07:28:38 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  You've Missed the Point (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        leonard145b

        In order to implement this plan we will have to retain substantial numbers of troops in Iraq.  You don't believe bush will gradually withdraw over the next 16 months, do you?  Therefore, we'll need to endure Bush and maintain over 100,000 troops in Iraq in order to even give this "soft partition" plan a chance.

        That's too high a price to pay.

        •  I don't think we should "endure" anything (0+ / 0-)

          I don't think Bush is willing to extend this war long enough to be able to blame someone else for it.

          We need to push him at every opportunity to do the right thing.
          And we need to gain the overwhelming support of the American people to use as an irresistable lever.
          To do that, we need a plan. Biden has offered one.
          It is a good a starting point as any.

          Dialogue, people. Let's put our heads together and get it right this time.

          TFYQA - think For Yourself, Question Authority

          by Niniane on Fri Sep 14, 2007 at 07:39:28 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Help Me Here (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            drational

            Is the Biden Plan then to withdraw substantially all of our troops by sometime mid-next year, and then reinsert a substantial number beginning in Jaunary 2009?

            •  Biden plan (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Niniane

              as I understand it to begin the partiton now (june 07) with same troop levels and draw-down in June 08.  Brookings forecast 12-18 month implementation of partition, then drawdown to 50000 to maintain border security.  Brookings envisioned UN playing that role.

              so indeed partition calls for extended troop presence.  The idea was that there would be less violence if a defined goal and exit could be established, and US troops could be replaced with UN troops as partition effected.

          •  Please clarify (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            farleftcoast, Niniane

            I don't think Bush is willing to extend this war long enough to be able to blame someone else for it.

            because I think that's exactly what he wants to do.

            The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.

            by sidnora on Fri Sep 14, 2007 at 08:14:31 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

  •  All the things we are told (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    farleftcoast, leonard145b

    will happen if we leave--chaos, genocide, etc, etc--are happening now.  Our invasion and continued occupation are the cause.  It is clear to me that everyone's best interests are best served by an immediate and complete withdrawl of American forces.

    •  Immediate doesn't mean what you think it does... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      al Fubar, leonard145b

      Logistics, much like gravity, is to be ignored at ones peril.

      It does not work that way. To even attempt such a thing would increase the danger to our troops many times over.

      Immediate might mean start now... but the actual process will take months, perhaps more than a year.
      And withdrawal will present a whole new set of security challenges, perhaps even causing even greater loss of American life while we are in the process.

      TFYQA - think For Yourself, Question Authority

      by Niniane on Fri Sep 14, 2007 at 07:34:04 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  By immediate (0+ / 0-)

        I mean that it should start now.  I'm not so naiive as to think it can be accomplished in a day.  I do think 6 months is realistic, though I'm not opposed to a year.

        By complete, I mean complete.

        Unless someone has contact with Nostraedamous, it is impossible to know what will happen when/if we leave Iraq.  What we do know is that Iraq is in chaos now.  Ethnic cleansing is occuring now.  Security, according to the Iraquis themselves, is worse now.  What we do know is that no one in Iraq's government is the least bit interested in political reconciliation.  What we do know is that the longer we stay, the closer Iraq becomes aligned with Iran.  What we do know is they (Iraquis) think it would be better for them if we left.  

        What we do know is that we (America) do not, today, have the capability to respond to any new attack other than with nukes.  Our military is broken.  We are completely and utterly wide open for attack.  We might as well hang out a sign.  It will take years to get us back to a state of readiness.

        Admiral Fallon is preparing a report now that says we should reduce forces in Iraq by 2/3 "immediately", with further reductions to follow.  I'll trust that he has considered the "security challenges" in preparing this recommendation.

  •  Get. Out. Now. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Catte Nappe, JohnB47

    Means as soon as possible, without creating an even greater danger to our forces, and to transition responsibly so that as few as possible additional innocent Iraqi lives are lost to Bush's folly.

    It means we start the plan today, get our assets in play, and begin the slow arduous process.

    It will take months, perhaps years, to do so.

    I know there are still some out there that have the misconception that "Now!" means we load them on a plane today and they are all home by the beginning of Autumn.

    It ain't so, folks.

    If you believe that, you are as delusional as our Preznit. And just as recklessly dangerous.

    I don't necessarily agree with the Biden plan, but it is at least a potential solution and deserves consideration.

    Other plans, like Sen. Obama's "plan" really aren't plans at all, but a shield. A plan has to have at least a chance of working... Obama's "solution" has no chance while the chimp is still in office.

    The only way the Obama plan (and some others) will work is when either President Clinton or President Edwards is in the White House to sign it into law.

    The Biden plan might just work, if Congress can borrow some courage from John and Elizabeth Edwards... looks like those two might have some to spare... and Congress needs all the guts it can get.

    Lets get the dialogue going... and force congress to take a stand. Let's see some action, not more phony "plans" for candidates to hide behind.
    Let's pin the obstructionist Rethugs down, and make it clear to America exactly what is being obstructed.

    Let's try it our way, just this once.

    TFYQA - think For Yourself, Question Authority

    by Niniane on Fri Sep 14, 2007 at 07:26:38 AM PDT

    •  Another Straw Man argument (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      leonard145b

      No one is suggesting that we withdraw in a manner that INCREASES the risk to our troops.  No one is suggesting that we withdraw completely today and suffer the chaos of such a withdrawal.

      That is a straw man argument.  Even if it weren't, the answer isn't to maintain a huge presence in Iraq in order to take a gamble on the "soft partition" plan.  The answer it to start withdrawing NOW, to do so over a period of months - as proposed by the dems in Congress - and be out completely as soon as practical.

      •  Sounds like you get it. (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        al Fubar, rincewind

        A lot of posters here do not.
        They do not understand that "immediate" does not mean yesterday.
        Hopefully, soon they will.

        It's not a "strawman" argument, it isn't meant to fallaciously support my point... It is my point.

        When the "end the war now" folks actually realize what "now" means...

        It will allow some much-needed dialugue on the subject... maybe even substantive discussion, for a change.
        I am not supporting the Biden plan.
        I am not dismissing it out of hand, either.
        I don't like the timeline, and I don't like the idea of partitioning either...It will just make for more war, down the road.

        But the Biden Plan is a real one, fleshed out and workable. It is not just an election-year PR shell.

        It is a place to start. Gotta have a starting place... you know, before you can... start?
        Let's overcome the objections and work it into something that will get the results we are hoping for.

        The starting point doesn't really matter. It is the end point that c.ounts

        TFYQA - think For Yourself, Question Authority

        by Niniane on Fri Sep 14, 2007 at 07:50:56 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  The invasion (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    farleftcoast

    did cause this problem, Politicians, Police, local Government, and the Army was dissolved. The infrastructure was obliterated.
    Now what would happen to any country after that ?
    Chaos
    The problem was caused by the invasion that is a fact. The problem will be reduced by the US pulling out of Iraq.
    The guns will never be silent as long as the US military is present. It is also very arrogant to assume that the Iraqis will butcher each other without the occupying forces.

    Blame God and you'll get away with anything.

    by langerdang on Fri Sep 14, 2007 at 07:28:53 AM PDT

    •  it was a hypothesis (0+ / 0-)

      It is also very arrogant to assume that the Iraqis will butcher each other without the occupying forces.

      I believe it is a considerable risk.

      If we pull out and all is well, I will have been wrong.
      If we pull out and there is large scale genocide and ethnic cleansing, will you advocate going back in?

      I make it clear that we started this mess.  But also now have a moral obligation to try to ensure that our solution to the problem causes as little further bloodshed as possible.

      •  Unfortunately... (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        farleftcoast, MarketTrustee

        ....you sound like a lot of European liberals in the 1940s-1960s who said that we couldn't get out of their colonies because the colonized weren't "ready" to be independent.

        •  Except I am arguing that we get out of Iraq (0+ / 0-)

          Iraq needs to be free of us as much as we of them.  I just want to take measures to try to ensure that our departure does not facilitate large scale genocide, and provides for an outcome fair to the Sunni minority.

          Because that Sunni minority, if not protected, will offer fertile grounds for ideologies like that held by al qaeda to blossom.

  •  We Can't Wait Until January 2009 (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    sidnora, farleftcoast

    And no serious person could believe that Bush would implement this plan, or could be trusted to implement it honestly and competently.  Accordingly, this plan, however credible, is an exercise in fantasy - unless one is willing to endure another 16 months of the sociopath in the White House unleashing hell in Iraq.

  •  The Brookings Institution held a panel discussion (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    JohnB47, MarketTrustee

    yesterday, broadcast on C-Span. O'Hanlon and Pollack dribbled as expected (though O'Hanlon confessed he might "change camps"), but Susan Rice spoke very sensibly about what we've fucked up, what we're ignoring, what we could do.

    If you want to watch it, you can do so here:

    The Way Forward in Iraq

    rtsp://video.c-span.org/project/iraq/report/iraq091307_brookings.rm?mode=compact

    (direct link to Real Player)

    Let the great world spin for ever down the ringing grooves of change. - Tennyson

    by bumblebums on Fri Sep 14, 2007 at 07:38:06 AM PDT

    •  Rice (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      farleftcoast, JohnB47, cpresley

      Susan Rice, who served as a senior adviser to Democrat John Kerry's 2004 presidential campaign, said Iraq has become one of the world's failed states. Rice said she feels the debate about the surge is missing a larger point.

      "We have a fundamental disconnect between our military strategy on the one hand, and the realities on the ground in Iraq on the other," said Susan Rice. "There is more than one war happening simultaneously in Iraq. Yes we have an insurgency, we have al-Qaida, and there is a counter-insurgency challenge. But there is also separately and simultaneously a raging sectarian civil war."

      Rice said the role of a foreign military power in a civil war is limited, and what has to happen in Iraq is a negotiated political settlement.

      Let the great world spin for ever down the ringing grooves of change. - Tennyson

      by bumblebums on Fri Sep 14, 2007 at 07:44:49 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  See also Ari Berman's post at The Nation (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      sidnora, farleftcoast

      from this morning, about this panel.

      A War We Just Might Lose

      Before the war, Brookings played a major role in drumming up support for the invasion among Democrats. Since then, most of its foreign policy, as evidenced by Thursday's event, have become war opponents. We'll see if these dissenting colleagues get to join O'Hanlon and Pollack on the talk show circuit.

      Let the great world spin for ever down the ringing grooves of change. - Tennyson

      by bumblebums on Fri Sep 14, 2007 at 07:53:02 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Maybe this is what Iraq will end up (4+ / 0-)

    looking like. But I must say that I don't see how we, having been completely discredited there, could possibly be the people to make it happen. Frankly, I don't even think we're in a position to try. And, of course, George Bush will never go for anything but "stay the course." So, if we want out, we really just have to drop it and go; that requires defunding, which I support.

  •  I wonder (0+ / 0-)

    (And I know this is a fairy tale)
    How much more progress we could all make in figuring out what to do next if the Republicans could just stand up and admit to the same basic premise?

    Going into Iraq was a huge effing mistake. We have made a horrible mess. We have brought death, misery and division on the people of Iraq. Then we can start talking about how we stop it and make some restitution and recovery for the Iraqis.

    As it stands now they want to view the "what next" from a vantage point of "invading Iraq was a good and necessary thing. It has not gone as well as we hoped, but if we just find the right approach and have enough time to work it out we can have it end up reasonably well"

    "Sir, you are giving a reason for it; but that will not make it right." Samuel Johnson

    by Catte Nappe on Fri Sep 14, 2007 at 07:56:41 AM PDT

  •  Our obligation... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    hmbnancy, MarketTrustee

    ....is to leave the country that we illegally occupied. It's not up to us to decide what is or isn't best for Iraq. That's a colonialist attitude.

  •  Bring freedom to Iraq not oil thief (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    rincewind

    Toppling a strongman dictator then hoping the people will choose democracy was completely wishful thinking.

    Of course, we all want others to enjoy the free society that we enjoy as a democratic form of government. All aspire to the ideal that that conjures up. Ours isn't perfect either.

    But is the country of Iraq ready for a democracy?

    Are the people choosing that form of government?

    Can they establish a democracy and sustain it?

    Or are there other other options that the Iraqis want for themselves.

    If the U.S. interests "lock up" the oil revenues like many hope, what future can Iraq have?

    Instead of looking at what we don't want- an occupation forever, chaos, an new Islamic state- what can the U.S./U.N. and other friendly countries do to help the Iraqis achieve a functioning government that reflects them?

    Iraqis must drive this- not the U.S.

    We are the trouble. We toppled their government, we destroyed their infrastructure, we caused a refugee crisis, we are trying to steal their national wealth, their oil.

    This will never end with a U.S. solution.

  •  What if the USSR said in 1987 (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    TracieLynn, hmbnancy, farleftcoast

    they couldn't leave Afghanistan because it might create chaos and mass death and would be immoral and irresponsible? Well, they did undergo a phased withdrawal and it did create mass chaos for several years. But I don't think anyone at the time seriously advocated the USSR occupy Afghanistan until...well, I dunno, until something magical happened. It was pretty obvious the USSR didn't have Afghanistan's interests at heart. It was straight up imperialism. In fact, we were actively trying to get them to leave by funding opposition groups, to make it their version of Vietnam, and after they left we left as well. We either recognized Afghanistan was going to spiral down the drain no matter what or we just didn't care.

    "History may not repeat itself, but it rhymes a lot." -- Mark Twain

    by marshmallow on Fri Sep 14, 2007 at 08:10:19 AM PDT

  •  can staying help? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    farleftcoast

    Given the traditions and current social structure of Iraq, I don't see that anything can be gained by spending another ten or 20 years there.  yes things will be more chaotic after a pullout. But nothing we do in any continuing occupation can change that.

  •  our moral obligation ... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    farleftcoast

    This has been used as a stick to beat opposition into submission since we overthrew Saddam.  But what were our obligations as an occupying power once we finished the invasion and met our objectives?

    According to a paper written on April 15, 2003 at the website "Crimes of War", the Geneva Conventions and other authorities have determined the following:

    1.  An invading force becomes an occupying power once the government of the invaded country can no longer exercise its authority and the attacker can impose control. (check)
    1.  Occupying force needs to restore and insure public safety.

    U.S. Army’s Field Manual 27-10: "The authority of the legitimate power having in fact passed into the hands of the occupant, the latter shall take all the measures in his power to restore, and ensure, as far as possible, public order and safety...."

    (nope)

    1. On the justice system in the occupied country ... laws that are apolitical in existence previously are to be respected, and courts allowed to continue to function if possible (occupiers set up tribunals if not). According to the article, "War crimes, crimes against humanity, genocide, and aggression committed prior to or during the course of the conflict are prosecuted in accordance with the principles of international criminal law."  They note, however, that Iraq, not surprisingly, is not a signatory for the International Criminal Court, and therefore the ICC has no jurisdiction. (well, probably not, since crime has been rampant)
    1. The occupiers are responsible for care of the civilian population. From the article:  "Occupying Powers are responsible for the care of the civilian population, including its overall health and hygiene. In particular, the Occupying Power must, to the "fullest extent of the means available to it," ensure the population receives adequate food, water, and medical treatment; if supplies in the occupied territory are inadequate, foodstuffs and medical stores must be brought in." (nope)

    There's a particularly interesting section on "Public Property and the Future of the State".  It says:  "State-owned real property that is non-military in character, such as public buildings, parks, etc., can only be "administered" by the Occupying Power...Although the Occupying Power financially administers the territory, the tax structure in place at the time of occupation remains in effect...."

    If impeachment is off the table, so is democracy -- Teacher Ken, Kossack extraordinnaire

    by billlaurelMD on Fri Sep 14, 2007 at 08:27:27 AM PDT

  •  morals? (0+ / 0-)

    give me a break!  what fucking morals is it?

    Don't fight it son. Confess quickly! If you hold out too long you could jeopardize your credit rating. --Brazil (1985)

    by hypersphere01 on Fri Sep 14, 2007 at 08:37:53 AM PDT

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