1.15.2006

how to leave: an idea

My thoughts on cynicism were prompted by something I read yesterday.

A smart man named Howard Roberts has written a plan for a US-out-of-Iraq exit strategy. He's put a lot of thought into his Seven Point Plan, and it deserves our attention.

For peace activists, an outline like this is useful for countering any number of pro-occupation arguments, especially the "now that we're there we have to stay to keep the peace" variety. In the larger sense, Roberts's work may be the framework the world needs to get the US out of Iraq.

The cynicism I'm referring to was in comments - someone calling Mr Roberts naive. He doesn't sound naive to me. To listen to the critics, you would think nothing had ever changed the in the world - that no war had ever ended, that no power was ever deposed, that no people ever won their autonomy and self-determination.

I urge other supporters of peace to circulate the Seven Point Plan. One needn't agree with every comma and period of an idea to support it. We need a place to start.

14 comments:

redsock said...

An exit plan is great -- for people actually looking for an exit. The Cheney administration does not want to leave Iraq. They just want the bad news to stay out of the US media.

The US is building 14 "enduring bases" in Iraq -- including Baghdad, Mosul, Taji, Balad, Kirkuk and in areas near Nasiriyah, near Tikrit, near Fallujah and between Irbil and Kirkuk.

From Mother Jones (my emphasis):

How long is "enduring"? The administration insists that troops will remain in Iraq as long as it takes to install a functioning, democratic government, quell the insurgency, and build an efficient Iraqi fighting force. Given the elusiveness of those goals, many military experts believe that Rumsfeld's hope that the troops might be out by 2008 is wildly optimistic. Retired Marine Corps General Anthony Zinni, the top U.S. commander in the Middle East from 1997 to 2000, recently predicted that American involvement in Iraq would last at least 10 more years. Retired Army Lt. General Jay Garner, the former interim administrator of reconstruction efforts in Iraq, told reporters in February 2004 that a U.S. military presence in Iraq should last "the next few decades." Even that, some analysts warn, could be an underestimate. "Half a century ago if anyone tried to convince you that we’d still have troops in Korea and Japan, you’d think they were crazy," says Pike, the military analyst. Suspicions also run deep both inside Pentagon circles and among analysts that the Department of Defense is pouring billions of dollars into the facilities in pursuit of a different agenda entirely: to turn Iraq into a permanent base of operations in the Middle East.

I can see the US declaring "victory" in Iraq at some arbitrary point and pulling out maybe half the current troops -- and claiming to have "left" the country. But the US will still have a huge presence and will continue to occupy and run the country.

If you read anything that these guys have written down as policy plans, you'll see that occupying Iraq is merely Step 1.

redsock said...

I'm obviously more of a cynic than you, but it seems like the "exit strategy" could also play into the administration's hands. They adopt an exit plan that saves some face, but continue with their plans. (They will need some troops for the next few wars. They can get switched from Iraq.)

Of course, pushing for exit plan will save thousands of lives, so it's worth doing. But there is more at work than just getting out of Iraq.

I think that it's going to take a lot of years to show people that the US wants to stay in Iraq for a lot of years. Telling them now what the obvious stated plans are is simply a "conspiracy theory" to them.

...

That Mother Jones article is quite good. More:

One indication of an open-ended U.S. occupation is the amount of money that has already been spent on bases in Iraq. KBR’s first big building contract there, in June 2003, was a $200 million project to build and maintain "temporary housing units" for U.S. troops. Since then, according to military documents, it has received another $8.5 billion for work associated with Operation Iraqi Freedom. By far the largest sum—at least $4.5 billion—has gone to construction and maintenance of U.S. bases. ...

Karen Kwiatkowski, a retired Air Force lieutenant colonel who served in the office of the Secretary of Defense until spring 2003, and has since become an outspoken critic of the war, says that the neoconservative architects of the Iraq invasion definitely foresaw a permanent, large-scale presence. Kwiatkowski says that Pentagon planners view the bases as vital both for protecting Israel and as launchpads for operations in Syria and Iran.

The Pentagon, she says, went into the war assuming that once Saddam was toppled a so-called Status of Forces Agreement, like those the U.S. government signed with Japan and South Korea, could be quickly reached with Iraq. The growth of the insurgency and the vocal opposition to a prolonged U.S. occupation among Iraqi leaders haven't changed the plan, Kwiatkowski insists: "We’re pouring concrete. We’re building little fiefdoms with security, moats, and walls ... Eighty percent of Iraqis will grouse, but they have no political power," she says. "We'll stay whether they want us to or not."

L-girl said...

An exit plan is great -- for people actually looking for an exit. The Cheney administration does not want to leave Iraq.

I agree with this completely. However, they cannot be allowed to have their way forever. A plan gives the opposition (us) something concrete to present to the American people.

That was my point about apartheid. The South African government didn't want apartheid to end, they just wanted the blacks to shut up and behave.

My point, too, about cynicism. A commenter at Howard's site called him naive for thinking the US govt wants to leave Iraq. But that's not the point. He's not talking about what they want. He's talking about a plan that moves past them.

Power never wants to stop. It has to be forced to. [Insert Frederick Douglass quote here.]

L-girl said...

Oops, I deleted my comment to change it, and got out of sync with the conversation. ...

Of course, pushing for exit plan will save thousands of lives, so it's worth doing.

Yes. That's no small thing.

But there is more at work than just getting out of Iraq.

Yes again. The struggle must continue, because the stakes are very high.

My point is we can't throw up our hands in despair and stop fighting.

L-girl said...

"Eighty percent of Iraqis will grouse, but they have no political power," she says. "We'll stay whether they want us to or not."

Many people act like because a powerful person says something, it will thus come to pass. History is full of examples of power crumbling. In fact, dictators always fall.

These people are not super-heroes. They're not invincible.

Granny said...

I'm called naive and simplistic all the time and it's probably true.

I still keep writing.

The seven point plan will show up on our little blog today. Thanks.

L-girl said...

I'm called naive and simplistic all the time and it's probably true.

I still keep writing.


And it helps keep us sane, and that is no small thing!

Activism makes me feel better - less helpless, less overwhelmed, more connected. It reminds me I'm not alone, makes me feel part of something larger than myself. That's reason enough to keep on keeping on.

sevenpointman said...

1) It will be impossible to end the war in iraq without the strong national spirit of the iraqi people. This form of nationalism must be very different than the totalitarian mafioso-style of nationalism imposed by Saddam's regime. They must use their perceptions of their own and others histroy to develop a two-fold federalist structure that can be the ground for a democracy.
If the iraqi's can create the mechanism for the institutions of this system they will have enough leverage to deal with the inevitable power-play by our government to manipulate the situation to their advantage.
I disagree with redsock-I feel that the Iraqi people are looking for an exit strategy that wants our troops out.
Througout the course of the twentieth century many nations have kicked the colonizers out.
If iraq truly wants it's freedom -it will get it.
Insurgencies that fight against Occupiers usually win.

Alot of Americans would probably agree with my exit strategy-if it was voted on, against Bush's plan of winning.
So it is important to note that my plan contains elements that would satisfy many of the parties in this war-including some in the Bush adminstation.
I sense they want to get out relatively soon-it is up to us to impress upon them that the families of the soldiers in iraq, and the activists for peace, cannot extend this soon,into an indefinite later.

The hope I hold is that those who are in power will bend enough, to save their reputations and assets, so we can begin to "invade" Iraq with some new thinking based on cooperation and self-determination. This new thinking is free-flowing and can be the basis for a participatory society in Iraq.

2) I recommend three books, which I have been reading lately:
A) The Great War for Civilization: The Conquest of the Middle East by Robert Fisk-
An amazing and erudite complete history of the last thirty years in this area by a very perceptive eyewitness.
b) Neo-Conned Again: Hypocrisy, Lawlessness and the rape of iraq.
A massive anthology of anti-war commentary on iraq-a bible for the activist against this war.(publisher:(Light in the Darkness Publication)
c) Hungers's Bride by Paul Anderson- a novel that traces the life of one of the most remarkable woman in history- Sor Juana De la Cruz (poet, scholar, anthropoligist, feminist, nun, healer, mystic, political muckraker-who lived in Mexiico during the second-half of the 17th century-a beautifully written book,)

Keep in touch,

Howard

L-girl said...

Througout the course of the twentieth century many nations have kicked the colonizers out.
. . . Insurgencies that fight against Occupiers usually win.


Good point!!!

The Great War for Civilization: The Conquest of the Middle East by Robert Fisk- An amazing and erudite complete history of the last thirty years in this area by a very perceptive eyewitness.

I love Robert Fisk, but what I read about this book made me wary. He's terrific, though. I should give it a chance on your recommendation.

Sor Juana De la Cruz (poet, scholar, anthropoligist, feminist, nun, healer, mystic, political muckraker-who lived in Mexiico during the second-half of the 17th century

I love Sor Juana!! Someone I know wrote a book about her a long time ago. Excellent choice. I'm glad to know people are reading about her.

L-girl said...

I'm a little over-enthusiastic today. :)

redsock said...

sevenpointman said:
I disagree with redsock-I feel that the Iraqi people are looking for an exit strategy that wants our troops out.

oh, i agree. the iraqi people (not "insurgents") are fighting an occupying army anyway they can -- and want every last person associated with that army out of their country. i don't blame them at all. i would do the same thing.

sevenpointman said...

Redsock-

What is the difference between the iraqi people who are fighting to get us out and the insurgents ?
I think they are the same.

Unless you are calling the insurgency -terrorists.
I would certainly call the small minority of jihadists who kill innocent civilians-terrorists.
But are most of the insurgents really doing this?
It seems most are fighting against our Occupation
by attacking the Occupying force and those who we have empowered to rule with them.

Once we have left, these same insurgents will fight to protect their country from the terrorists.

Howard

L-girl said...

Sevenpointman, you're misreading Redsock. He is on your side, 100%. Check out his blog, you'll see.

I believe this

the iraqi people (not "insurgents")

means to reject the US govt's double-speak. They would have us believe that the people who are trying to get the US out of Iraq are a minority, a band of terrorists - when in fact they are the Iraqi people.

It's like Ronald Reagan calling the Contras "freedom fighters" and the Sandanistas (and the ANC!) "terrorists".

We're all on the same page here, varying degrees of cynicism aside.

(Except most people here are Canadian, so "we" are not in Iraq, "the US" is.)

sevenpointman said...

Your right L-girl i misread his statement.

Good to hear that we are on the same page.

Howard