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    "The only basis on which peace can be achieved is that set forth in UN Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338"..., 2006-12-08 15:52:31 | Main | "Iran's ... desire to acquire nuclear weapons"..., 2006-12-10 23:28:56

    The Way Forward:

    The Bush administration should have allowed Maliki to include US withdrawal in his reconcilliation plan 6 months ago, so that there would be an actual opportunity for successful negotiations betweeen the government and the insurgency. It should do so now.

    The insurgency's central demand regarding our disposition has been that we exit on a timetable, a position that has had the support of the Shi'ite public since around the middle of 2004. The administration overrules this everytime it comes up for discussion. Incredibly the ISG actually blames Maliki for having "publicly rejected a U.S. timetable to achieve certain benchmarks... and resisted U.S. requests to move forward on reconciliation" when it was the US that blocked the central benchmarks necessary for any reconcilliation.

    I would add that Iraqis haven't supported "precipitous withdrawal" either, but that's clearly no longer the case. Support for a timetable is far wider, especially among the Sunnis, who face the ever renewable possibility of the idiotic "80% solution".

    The ISG cynically trumped any talk about negotiated withdrawal with a "precipitous withdrawal" option - which isn't supported by much of anybody serious, Bill O'Reilly and handfuls of other frustrated nationalists. They explicitly ignored both the largest majority of Iraqi opinion and the actual position of most Democrats, which for some time - a rare laudible position on their part - has been to put withdrawal on the table for the Iraqis to haggle over. All that's left of our bargaining position is choosing who we lose to. If we don't negotiate a withdrawal with the government and the insurgency then the primary benefactors of the civil war - Al Qaeda, Badr, and Sadr - own any victory from a US withdrawal. Of course, Washington wants to stay there forever, ensuring those who benefit from the civil war continue reaping the rewards.

    The ISG actually quotes numbers from those same polls while leaving out any mention of Iraqi support for withdrawal by any method. And their conclusion from the polls is supremely fucked up: "Sixty-one percent of Iraqis approve of attacks on U.S.-led forces. If Iraqis continue to perceive Americans as representing an occupying force, the United States could become its own worst enemy in a land it liberated from tyranny."

    Iraqis have considered us an "occupying force" since the first State Department studies. By the ISG's own argument we became our own worst enemy in Iraq a long, long time ago.

    If they were so bold as to recognize that fact they'd be right. The bewildering array of US mismanagement, malfeasance, and irresponsibility in its reconstitution and creation of the Interior Ministry and other domestic Iraqi intelligence and security services, just by itself, is largely responsible for the civil war that so many argued we had to remain in Iraq to prevent. Sticking around just so clueless Americans can continue misdirecting the Iraqi government's hand in the civil war is, by any benchmark that takes Iraqi interests into account, debased voodoo.

    It's like keeping your team of fully grown glue sniffers behind to glue together all the dishwear a viscious gang of adolescents just destroyed at the local pottery barn. Not only does more shit get knocked off the shelves by giggling dope fiends, but all the ceramics glue gets huffed up.

    At the same time as the withdrawals and amnesties are negotiated between Iraqi players, the McGovern/Polk plan, or something like it, needs to be put on the table. Then Washington can spin that as: a massive trillion dollar cost-savings plan to Americans; abroad as reparations to Iraqis; an apology to other Arabs, Muslims, and anybody else who is also not an American and is offended by the whole clusterfuck; a carrot for the oil fucks to inevitably play dice with against whoever ends up running Iraq. Everybody wins, but nobody's listening.

    update: more from tom hayden.

:: posted by buermann @ 2006-12-10 15:15:30 CST | link

      Thanks for piping up in the Juan Cole discussion in the comments to Barkley's post.

      Do you have any links to info on James Coffman other than the story of the events that led to his Distinguished Service Medal? I knew about Steele and Casteel.

    posted by Nell @ 2006-12-10 16:39:13 | link

      The mandateforpeace.org site says that Dems are meeting today to come up with a unified Iraq line. News to me, and none of the Dem-watching blogs have mentioned it that I've seen.

      Anyway, what occurred to me today is that the scale of the refugee flight now makes a face-saving entree for our regime, if it wanted to, to talk to Syria, Iran, and all the countries in the region. Those refugees wouldn't be there if not for our pottery-smashing, and negotiating about what we'll do to help the receiving countries cope is a natural event.

    posted by Nell @ 2006-12-10 16:45:07 | link

    posted by buermann @ 2006-12-10 17:10:58 | link

      Thanks, Josh. I'd read the Anderson article, but apparently was so chilled by re-encountering Steele (I met him in the mid-1980s) that I missed the Coffman reference. Somehow missed the Jaffe article altogether, thanks for that.

      You have so much good stuff -- I've got to cut back on blog reading time but am going to put you on my tour and cut out less worthwhile sites.

    posted by Nell @ 2006-12-14 11:16:00 | link

      You actually met him? Or is that a lyrical component to your relationship to people in the news? I was still ducking under my desk in school drills in the mid-80s. A mere babe! :P

      I only began really trying to wrap my head around all this US involvement in death squad/militia stuff at this level of detail (and it remains really blurry) a couple weekends ago, and was shocked that they'd brought in a bunch of Salvador veterans (including a number of actual Salvadorians). Just seems so shameless, but apparently a lot of the people covering this think of that as a real victory for humanity.

      And thanks for the vote of confidence.

    posted by buermann @ 2006-12-14 12:14:54 | link

    go ahead, express that vague notion

    your turing test:

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