Thursday, July 14, 2005

Helena's take on our Iraqi exit

Declare Victory and Leave?

The news about the likelihood of a significant military drawdown in Iraq is really intriguing. And Helena Cobban is all over it. Lets start with her post, Slouching toward withdrawal which links to the stories about the leaked Brittish plan for a massive troop withdrawal. She continues with:

Anyway, the military leakers in London-- who did such a good job getting the Downing Street memo out to the public-- still seem to be alive and well, getting this memo, which was marked "Secret - UK eyes only" out to the broader public in a fairly timely fashion.

It is a total delight to me to see that despite all the sad and idiotic rhetoric that the pols both sides of the Atlantic continue to voice about "staying the course" in Iraq, etc, there are smart and realistic minds at work in the British Defence Ministry who recognize an imminent strategic defeat when they see one, and are able to start to plan appropriate actions to minimize their country's losses.

Really, thank God for the Brits. They at least are in the reality based ommunity. Too bad Bush doesn't heed them. Next she delves into the pending US military manpower crisis in Drawdown in Iraq:

There's an excellent piece in today's NYT about the intense manpower crunch the US forces in Iraq and Afghanistan have come up against, as more and more Reserve and National Guard troops reach the (fairly firm) 24-month cap on deployment that the Bush administration has reaffirmed more than once.

The crunch is about to happen. Soon. Like this fall. She makes the point that this a good thing, but not necessarily the end of story. The oft-denied but unmistakable desire to retain permanent bases in Iraq is always there in the background.
Well, the point of this post is [...] to prepare us all for the political battles ahead-- at the point when the administration declares its political "victory" in Iraq and sets about implementing its plan for a regrouping/concentration of US forces inside Iraq.

At this point, I think, we in the peace movement need to:
    (1) welcome the fact that the administration is starting to plan to bring some troops home and to recognize strategic realities on the ground in Iraq,

    (2) point out that no drawdown that is only partial can serve the longterm interests of either the Iraqi or US citizenries, and that progress must swiftly be made toward a total US troop withdrawal from the country, and

    (3) argue that-- as an important part of the exit strategy-- Washington should allocate substantial reconstruction funds to Iraqi firms, and reparation funds to communities and individuals harmed during the invasion and occupation.

Its not good enough if the career military manages to demand that troop levels be drawn down. We need to push for a real peace in Iraq and an eventual end to our military presence in Iraq. I guess I'm not as idealistic as Helena when it some to the desire for a fast, full withdrawal, much less the possibility of reparations. But the necessity for the US and England to significantly reduce their military deployments is a welcome opportunity.

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