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seemslikeadream Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat May-15-04 11:52 AM
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In Search Of Exit Strategy

Commentary: In Search Of Exit Strategy

A broad consensus is forming that invading Iraq was a mistake; now the question is, how does the U.S. withdraw from this mistake?
By Scott D. O'Reilly

Shortly before America invaded Iraq, Leon Feurth, the man likely to have been President Gore's national security advisor had the Bush forces not effectively nullified the will of the electorate, wrote an editorial in the New York Times warning of the perils of a unilateral invasion. At the time Bush's approval rating was still near its stratospheric heights, moral clarity was the order of the day, and seventy-five percent of the public believed Saddam Hussein was behind 9/11. But the administration was rolling out its shock and awe campaign, and opponents of the war could expect a barrage of ridicule and contempt nearly as devastating as the onslaught awaiting the regime in Baghdad. It is safe to say that if anybody in the Bush administration bothered to read the editorial it was probably only so they could vent their derision.

Historians are likely to have a field day dissecting the hubris of the Bush administration. The candidate who derided nation building, mission creep, and sending troops into harms way without an exit strategy somehow managed to hit the trifecta, contradicting himself three for three. Of course, it doesnt help that Bush has since come up empty on Saddam's alleged WMD--the casus belli for war--and handed al-Qaeda a recruitment jackpot when American troops were found abusing and torturing Iraqis, the same human rights violation the administration cited as a pretext for disposing Saddam.

In the mother of all ironies, as former ambassador Richard Holbrooke notes, if America was just any other country that launched an unprovoked war in defiance of the international community while torturing prisoners and detainees, its leadership would be in the dock facing charges of crimes against humanity. As shocking as the abuse scandal at Abu Ghraib is, it was not unforeseeable. Under Bush's watch as governor of Texas the state's prison system was operating under a federal consent decree because of unusually abusive practices, including a sex-slave ring run by prison guards. Lane McCotter, the man chosen by John Ashcroft to oversee the opening of Abu Ghraib, had resigned under pressure as warden from a prison in Utah after an inmate died while being shackled naked in a restraining chair for 16 hours.

So how does the administration manage a withdrawal without turning a blunder into a full-blown catastrophe? Getting out without setting the stage for a civil war, the emergence of an anti-American theocracy, or a failed state that would be a breeding ground for a new generation of terrorists wont be easy. The most sensible proposals call for the Bush administration to reverse course by announcing that U.S. troops will be out of Iraq by a date in 2005. The U.S. could then begin an immediate phased withdrawal while simultaneously ceding authority for Iraq's reconstruction to the U.N. This would be a retreat through osmosis. As U.S. troops leave they would be replaced by international troops under a U.N. mandate. This option is not without serious flaws and risks, but the alternatives of a hasty withdrawal, or adopting even tougher tactics to pacify a growing insurgency against an increasingly illegitimate occupation, may be even less palatable.


Scott D. O'Reilly is an independent writer with degrees in philosophy and psychology. He is a contributor to the book The Great Thinkers A-Z and is working on Deconstructing Demagogues, a book which examines how politicians use and misuse language. You can email your comments to Scott at
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boobooday Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat May-15-04 12:08 PM
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1. Apparently we need new leaders in order to have an exit strategy
These guys have failed at everything, they would certainly blow that too.
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seemslikeadream Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat May-15-04 01:20 PM
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2. Ya'll don't mind if I open of these, do you?
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