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Exit strategy from Iraq: Operation Enduring Defeat?

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mogster Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Sep-28-05 05:35 PM
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Exit strategy from Iraq: Operation Enduring Defeat?
From another thread:

"Dr. Dean is obviously trying to deal with the dilemna that the US has no good options in Iraq. They are: (1) withdraw, (2) stay the course (ewww), or (3) increase forces and win the thing!"

What options exists, in your opinion?

I've always seen this war as lacking the moral imperative; the driving, decisive incentive of opinion support, founded on a thorough understanding of the problem to do war on. And subsequently, a reason-based and clear 'why' there is a need to go to the extreme measure war represents.

Look at these guys; a group of Marines from WWII:


"Marine Raiders, with a reputation as lethal jungle fighters, pose in front of a Japanese dugout they took on Cape Totkina on Bougainville, Solomon Islands. January 1944."

You think these people ever doubted wether the war they fought was just and true? That they were on the 'good' side, not among the bad ones?
Did they ask themselves wether their actions was gonna be questioned afterwards? Hardly...

Their alliance wasn't a coalition of the willing, it was a coalition of the needy. They set out to fight an enemy formidable and at the point when they set out to do that, they didn't know they was gonna win - to the contrary; Hitler and the Japanese empire seemed invincible, all powerful, like a doom hanging over their heads. Over all heads.

They had the opinion backing them, with a (elected) president actually known to be rather slow to take action involving war. The US was united then, was behind these men and more important; behind the cause they were dying and killing for.
It was generally understood among the population that sacrifices had to be made, and the same spirit was brought with the military abroad, as they fought and killed and died.
They knew they would be taken care of, cherished and prayed for, and that their lives would not be risked easy.

Switch to the situation today.

The war in Iraq is the last of two doctrinal wars based on future positioning; the Vietnam war was the first. It is war as politics (or vice versa), and the NEED factor to justify war as a means to solve a problem wasn't present.

Both wars was based on highly questionable theories from think-tanks. The Vietnam war was based on the Domino theory; that all countries in South-East Asia (and God knows elsewhere) would fall to communism if South Vietnam fell.
The war in Iraq is based on the preemptive theory; that wars can be justified, fought and won on the sole basis of an suspected 'intent to strike' the US, and if preemption isn't applied, we (you ;-)) could lose before a war was even declared.

The lack of justification produced strong dissent in both the country going to war and the country where the war was being carried out, in both cases. The war as a society-splitter and divider instead of uniting at home, and in the war-ravaged country taking the brunt of the killing, the wars means persecution and social isolation for those against it.

In both wars the UN is not present, and again you see the difference if you compare the Vietnam war to the Corean war, and the second Gulf war to the first Gulf war.

The Corean war was a war of need - at least it became a war of need when North Corea invaded the South. It had a UN mandate - the Vietnam war was a US 'hobby' that developed slowly, and had no mandate, at least not a clear and morally strong one.

The first Gulf war was also a war of need, or at least Bush sr. and the Kuwaitis made it appear that way. Besides, the invasion (however much it was provoked by Bush sr.) set a clear moral target for the war. Invasion of a sovereign nation is to most people regarded as something to be opposed. And Bush sr. also took the time to bring in the UN, and made the whole operation UN-flavored.
The second Gulf war is none of the above; it was not needed and was founded on scarce (some would say plain ridiculous) data, and finally; the UN was not only not invited, but ridiculed and 'trumphed' in the process leading up to war.

Besides, it has Mr. Blunder at the wheel.

Today there's much talk about exit strategy, even among the repubs. It has become an issue natural to bring up as a peaceful and democratic solution in Iraq by continuing status quo seems more remote, and the dying goes on.

So, what are the options? What needs to be done to:

1. End the occupation and withdraw the US/UK forces?
2. Restore the US reputation and foreign relations, including not losing totally face in a crushing defeat in Iraq?

Well, some problems are of pure military-social nature; how do you transfer the actual power to the actual citizens of Iraq. This is under way to some degree, but the regime taking over lacks credibility among the population. To the north you have the Kurds growing ever more independent, in the center you have the Sunni war hell and to the south there's the Shiites.

In the middle of the Sunni war hell, you have the small center of peace called the Green Zone. That's where all the politics goes on, as far as Sunnis go, if we're to believe Juan Cole and other in the know. The Kurds are actually becoming democratic, at least partly. They even had a little democracy going in one town up north before the invasion - I saw that on TV.
The Shiites has a majority and also carries the most grudges against the former regime, so they'll stay focused on becoming as independent as possible. They for sure would want to watch the Sunnis not developing another oppressing movement like the Baathists.

How does one win the hearts and minds of the Iraqis, and convince them that democracy is worth a try?

I don't know, but I think there are some mandatory points to be fulfilled before this war ends.

1. It will never happen under Bush' leadership. Bush has got to go, and he has to take his torture-excusing, money-grabbing neocon croonies with him. Bush has zero credibility left in the world at large, and as for the Iraqis, they must see him as a satan with no heart.

2. The UN must be involved. To use NATO is rubbish, and that's the card they're playing now; to build the Iraqi military/police using NATO as some sort of 'UN light'. It isn't, it's a military DEFENCE alliance meant to operate in case of emergency in a totally different area of the world.
It doesn't have a mandate in the world (and Iraqi) opinion. NATO has only two things to offer; knowledge and manpower. It does not represent the United Nations of the world, and will fail to install some cred to the Iraqi conflict - which is what this post is all about.

Even though the respect for the UN is diminished in Iraq after one previous war and twelve years of sanctions, the UN is the only answer because it is a global body, and the closest you get to a world democracy.

Here's John Kerry's take on this - copied from his program a long time ago:

"Kerry will build bridges to the Arab and Islamic world by supporting and assisting human rights groups, independent media, and labor unions dedicated to building a democratic culture."

"Kerry believes that we dont need a President who will walk away from the world or a President who will walk alone. He believes that we need a President who will lead the nations of the world into a new era of security, freedom, and peace."

Success menu (you probably have thought of this yourself ;-)):

- get rid of Bush & company
- fix the US democracy (John Kerry becomes president)
- bring in the UN

Any of the above would change the status quo significantly and produce a drift in the war that may lead to change.

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