My blog contains a large number of posts. A few are included in various other publications, or as attached stories and chronicles in my emails; many more are found on loose leaves, while some are written carelessly in margins and blank spaces of my notebooks. Of the last sort most are nonsense, now often unintelligible even when legible, or half-remembered fragments. Enjoy responsibly.

Monday, October 16, 2006

How to get out of Iraq (Part 1 of 3)

The keys to liberating Iraq and liberating ourselves from Iraq are: know your enemy; divide and conquer; welcome help; create economic unity; and share burdens and rewards.

The fatal flaw in the Bush occupation is its insistence that all those attacking our troops and facilities are "terrorists". Any number of military and civilian analysts have consistently stated that we face two distinctive opponents: national insurgents on one hand, foreign jihadists on the other. Some estimates put the percentage of national insurgents at about 90 percent of all those resisting our occupation, which means that foreign jihadists represent 10 percent or fewer. Numerically, insurgents are estimated at somewhere between twenty and forty thousand, and jihadists are estimated at anywhere from five hundred to four thousand.

To understand the difference, one must ask this question: How many people are going to follow us home when we eventually depart? The purpose of the national insurgents, largely Sunni Iraqi Arabs, is to get us to leave their country. The purpose of foreign jihadists, including many Saudi Arabians, is to kill Americans wherever they can find us. By insisting that they are all "terrorists", president Bush guarantees that we will occupy Iraq at least as long as the British (or their surrogates) did - about thirty-five years. This is the "course" that he wishes us to "stay".

The first step in a new policy towards Iraq, then, is to drive a wedge between the national insurgents and the foreign jihadists be negotiating with the former to help eradicate the latter. We should more seriously negotiate with moderate Sunni Arabs, and there clearly are a large number, to establish an agreement for a mutual and speedy draw-down of forces. The United States would agree to a two-phased withdrawal whereby combat forces will be withdrawn from occupational roles to bases outside the cities in exchange for verifiable insurgent disarmament. Once insurgent disarmament is complete, Sunnis would be guaranteed full political participation with protected civil and political rights.

As this mutual disengagement is taking place, the United States should obtain Sunni commitments to help in the isolation, suppression, and eradication of the foreign jihadist elements in Iraq. The Sunnis have tolerated their presence and made common cause with them in the shared hope of getting the Americans to leave. Once that is clearly happening, the Sunnis not only have no further use for the foreigners, they have a positive motive for removing them from Iraq soil. Because they have been cooperating int he insurgency, the Sunnis will know the identity, location, and methods of jihadists and will be crucial players in their eradication in ways that we can never hope to achieve on our own.

Iraqi nationalists, whether Sunni, Shiite, or Kurdish, will also want assurances that the United States intends no permanent military presence in Iraq. Thus, the United States should declare that it is not constructing and will not construct permanent military bases in Iraq. Some might wish to quibble over what is "permanent" and what is not. But clearly, pouring concrete foundations for barracks and welding steel for armories is permanent, whereas tents and trench latrines are not. We either intend to maintain a long-term presence in Iraq - and there is little doubt that that was (and perhaps even today still is) the intent of the neoconservative policy makers in the Bush government, thought it was never revealed as such to the American people - or we do not.

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