Disengagement from Iraq requires us to decide whether to get out of Iraq now or later. In either case we must tradeoff the implications of each alternative and define the process for doing so. What follows are some initial thoughts by one who is grappling with this complex and critical issue.
As a patriotic American, a traditional Jew, and a democratic socialist Zionist, I believe that American foreign policy should be based on our traditional values: basic freedoms, social justice, the rule of law, democracy, separation of church and state, pluralism, self-realization of an individual?s potential, and conflict resolution via negotiation and cooperation.
This issue is not a matter of black or white, stay or get out. There are many positive and negative facts to consider:
We invaded Iraq assuming the threat of WMD?s?BUT?No WMD?s were found.
We removed a bloody dictator?BUT?We destabilized a major country in the region.
We promised democracy?BUT?We appear to be getting an undemocratic theocracy.
We waged a war on the terrorists?BUT?Now there are more terrorists in Iraq than ever.
We?re helping to rebuild infrastructure?BUT?The insurgency has frustrated our progress.
President Bush declared a short war?BUT?Our troops die daily with no end in sight.
I believe that this is not the time to extricate ourselves from Iraq, and not just because of the perception that our valiant troops will have died in vain, but because we haven?t fulfilled our promises nor earned acceptance of our values in the Middle East. So what should we do?
After considerable thought I suggest the following:
1. Reducing U.S. casualties by removing our troops from major ground operations, assigning troops to seal all Iraqi borders against the infiltration of terrorists and munitions, and providing air power and logistical support to the Iraqi military.
2. Encouraging other democratic countries to participate in the rapid rebuilding of Iraqi infrastructure.
3. Maximizing Iraqi training of their military, police, and security personnel in countries outside of Iraq.
4. Recommending that Iraq become a federation of three states, with the federal government responsible for defense and security; foreign policy; national standards for education, health and safety; environment; and civil rights; and national resources like oil and water. Each state would have control of its own governance, infrastructure, political and religious system, industry and commerce, education, development, and local police, so long as there is no conflict with national policies and laws.
5. Utilizing 20 ? 25 per cent of Iraq?s oil revenues to maintain U.S. troops and services in Iraq. When the central Iraqi government publicly declares that it has no need for U.S. military assistance, the Iraq adventure will be ended.
I suggest that our president have monthly ?fireside chats? with the American public in which he describes the major issues and how his administration is addressing each issue.
Finally, liberal individuals and organizations should cooperate in demanding that the Democratic Party become a constructive ?loyal opposition? by developing and loudly advocating its own reasonable disengagement plan. At the same time they should insist that the current Administration and the Congress present and implement a practical and just plan to extricate us from the quicksand in Iraq.