Tags: Proposals | for | Leaving | Iraq

Proposals for Leaving Iraq

Tuesday, 06 December 2005 12:00 AM

There are at least four positions currently being advanced as to the timing of a U.S. troop withdrawal from Iraq.

President Bush, supported by Senators Joe Lieberman, D-Conn., and John McCain, R-Ariz., and others, sums up Position One by saying "As Iraqis stand up, we will stand down." In his November 30 speech at the Naval Academy, the President said: "We will continue to shift from providing security and conducting operations against the enemy nationwide to conducting more specialized operations targeted at the most dangerous terrorists. We will increasingly move out of Iraqi cities, reduce the number of bases from which we operate, and conduct fewer patrols and convoys."

How long it will take for Iraqis to attain the capability to defend themselves against terrorists and insurgents is impossible to predict. Last September the commander of our forces in Iraq, General George W. Casey, testified before the Congress that only one Iraqi battalion is capable of combat without U.S. support.

The December issue of the Atlantic examines the state of readiness of the Iraqi army in an in-depth article by James Fallows, who writes:

"In short, if American troops disappeared tomorrow, Iraq would have essentially no independent security force. Half its policemen would be considered worthless, and the other half would depend on external help for organization, direction, support. Two-thirds of the army would be in the same dependent position, and even the better-prepared one third would suffer significant limitations without foreign help. ... America's hopes today for an orderly exit from Iraq depend completely on the emergence of a viable Iraqi security force. There is no indication that such a force is about to emerge. As a matter of unavoidable logic, the United States must therefore choose one of two difficult alternatives: It can make the serious changes – including certain commitments to remain in Iraq for many years – that would be necessary to bring an Iraqi army to maturity. Or it can face the stark fact that it has no orderly way out of Iraq, and prepare accordingly."

Position Two, which is increasingly supported by Democrats in Congress, including, most recently, Democratic House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., was first enunciated by Congressman John Murtha, D-Pa. The New York Times characterized Murtha's position as calling for "a troop withdrawal, perhaps by next summer," with American troops stationed near, but outside, Iraq. His resolution called for the withdrawal of American troops from Iraq "at the earliest practical date" and provides that "a quick-react U.S. force and an over-the-horizon presence of U.S. Marines shall be deployed in the region."

Position Three, which is advanced by Senator Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., is best summed up in her November 29 letter to her constituents in which she stated:

"I believe we are at a critical point with the December 15th elections that should, if successful, allow us to start bringing home our troops in the coming year, while leaving behind a smaller contingent in safer areas with greater intelligence and quick strike capabilities. This will advance our interests, help fight terrorism and protect the interests of the Iraqi people...If these elections succeed, we should be able to start drawing down our troops, but we should also plan to continue to help secure the country and the region with a smaller footprint on an as-needed basis. I call on the President both for such a plan and for a full and honest accounting of the failures of intelligence - something we owe not only to those killed and wounded and their families, but to all Americans."

Then there is my position. I believe we should state formally before the U.N. Security Council that it is our intention to totally withdraw our military forces in Iraq within the next six months, with orders to withdraw to be announced as soon as possible. The withdrawal would take place unless our NATO allies and our allies in the Gulf region – Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Jordan, Kuwait, Egypt and others – immediately commit combat troops to Iraq in proportion to the size of their military and agree to pay their fair share of the cost of the war.

Our representative to the U.N., John Bolton, should state that while the U.N. Security Council was divided on whether to enforce by military means the unanimously adopted Resolution 1441, it was unanimous in supporting Security Council resolutions authorizing our remaining in Iraq to stabilize it.

Bolton should state that we have tried to stabilize Iraq and are willing to continue to try, but not alone. U.S. forces have suffered 2,125 deaths and 15,881 injuries since hostilities began. The deaths, casualties and costs are too much for the U.S. to bear unaided. We have 160,000 troops there. Our closest ally, Great Britain, has around 8,500, and other coalition forces have as few as several hundred. Some coalition forces have already entirely withdrawn their troops, e.g., Spain. Others have stated they are reducing their number or totally withdrawing their troops, e.g., Italy and Bulgaria.

Unless our allies and the U.N. Security Council are willing to participate and sacrifice proportionately by providing troops and money, we should leave. If our allies and the U.N. Security Council are not prepared to join us in seeking to create an atmosphere where a democratically elected Iraqi government can function and prevent a civil war among the three major factions – Kurds, Shiites and Sunnis – we should not remain in Iraq.

Many have told me that this proposal sounds good, but it won't fly. Other nations simply won't provide troops at this time. I disagree. The reason I believe they will come in is that they have as much or more to lose as a result of our leaving.

In the event of civil war, Iraq's regional neighbors will be sucked in, with Saudi Arabia, Jordan and other Sunni-dominated countries afraid of Iran taking over the Shiite-dominated areas on Iran's border, and Turkey seeking to dominate the Kurdish areas to squelch any idea of an independent Kurdistan. The pressure to prevent the consequences of a civil war would compel many of these countries, including Russia, to enter the fray at this time to prevent one from starting.

It would be far less burdensome for them to come in while the U.S. is still in Iraq than to have to do so after we've left. When we leave, there is no assurance that we will come back. That is why I believe our allies, who should have stood with us originally even if they disagreed with us – and certainly since the U.N. Security Council and the newly elected Iraqi government have asked us to remain – will join us now rather than see us leave. Let's give it a shot. The U.S. deaths and casualties are simply too great to bear alone.

If the rest of the world doesn't think it is in their interests to join us, then it is still right for us to leave. We've more than paid our dues in blood and money.


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There are at least four positions currently being advanced as to the timing of a U.S. troop withdrawal from Iraq. President Bush, supported by Senators Joe Lieberman, D-Conn., and John McCain, R-Ariz., and others, sums up Position One by saying "As Iraqis stand up, we...
Tuesday, 06 December 2005 12:00 AM
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