Column No. 74 By Steven Jonas, MD, MPH - September 1, 2005
An increasing number of authorities are calling for either an immediate withdrawal of US forces from Iraq or the establishment of a public plan with a timetable for doing so. A very reasoned argument for doing so is presented in the September-October issue of Harvard Magazine by John Deutch, Institute Professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and former Director of Central Intelligence (1995-1996) and deputy secretary of defense (1994-1995). My purpose here is not to review the arguments for doing so in any detail. Among them are, of course that: given the current array of forces on both sides, the US cannot possibly “win” militarily; that no more American troops should be killed for a war that this President lied the country into; that American interests in the Middle East and especially around the world are not only not be served, they are being harmed; and that a primary result of the US presence in the country seems not to be the establishment of Bush’s very vaguely defined “freedom and democracy” there but rather the establishment of some sort of theocratic state.
While others have plowed this ground in depth, what is often lacking is any detailed proposal for a diplomatic solution to the problem. For example, in considering the so-called alternative to Georgite policy proposed by the current Democratic Party leadership, that of the so-called "muscular Democrats" (read the corporate-DLC, the so-called “Democratic Leadership Council”). Of their fundamentally pro-war, pro-Georgite policy, a friend has written:
"Democrats and others may be interested in Avi Berman's essay in the current Nation. Berman points out that leading Democrats – [H] Clinton and Biden – have got themselves in an odd position on Iraq, calling for an invasion in 2003 and now calling for more troops even as the nation gets nervous.
"I don't have a solution to the Iraq problem: once in, we've got ourselves in a fine mess that will take some work to solve. . . . All Democrats must know that the Party needs a sound security policy. But that policy is going to require more thoughtful positions. . . . Exactly how much the Party leadership will learn from all this is an intriguing question. Berman's essay is at: http://www.thenation.com/docprint.mhtml?I=20050829&s=Berman.” And while Berman’s essay is an excellent critique of current right-wing Democratic Party establishment, it doesn’t present a proposal for withdrawal either.
In this column, I have the temerity to propose one, in outline form to be sure. This plan is not something that the Georgites would ever do, of course. For the goals of the plan proposed below, to achieve peace for Iraq and the Middle East region accompanied by Iraqi reconstruction, as well as a US withdrawal without abandonment of the Iraqi people, are not those of the Georgites. Theirs are what they always have been: oil and power. Neither would the corporate-DLC Democrats, who apparently like Georgite policies just as much as the Georgites themselves.
Obviously with their interference in the so-far unsuccessful attempts in Iraq to draw up a Constitution (as of this writing on 8-26-05, admittedly things might have changed by the item of publication), the Georgites still think that their goals are achievable. With their bases in Western Iraq under construction (perhaps by this time some of them have been completed but this government will never tell us about that), and their hopes for a tri-partite federal state for the former Iraq that will ensure that Kurdistan will for all intents and purposes become a US protectorate so that the US oil companies can get their hands on reserves that may in the end prove to be larger than what is left in Saudi Arabia, they may yet achieve their original goals (see my column of October 6-7, 2004 on “Iraq and Vietnam”).
Here’s my proposal, the main elements of which I offered several times during the Presidential campaign in various TPJ columns, in outline form. Again, given the current government and the position of the main other party, hardly an opposition party, there is no way to accomplish this. But maybe sometime down the road. Hey, you never know.
1. Announce a date for the end of US offensive military action in Iraq, in combination with a UN takeover of command of all foreign forces, for the purposes of peace establishment and keeping.
2. In that context, announce a date for withdrawal of all US forces other than those requested by the UN.
3. Propose to the Iraqi government the repeal of the "Bremer Plan" for the takeover of the Iraqi economy by foreign investors.
4. Announce a date for the termination of all US private contracts for security and construction in Iraq, other than those that might be negotiated by the UN and the Iraqi government. Ask Congress to appropriate any funds necessary for the early termination of contracts with Halliburton, Bechtel, and etc.
5. Shut down all construction of permanent military bases, with handover of what already exists to the UN Command on an interim basis. Future disposal would be negotiated by the UN with the Iraqi government.
6. Announce support for a comprehensive Israel-Palestine settlement along the lines of the already negotiated "Geneva Agreement."
7. Renounce any interest in ownership or control of any Iraqi oil reserves.
8. Propose as a long-term solution to the Iraqi political situation a tri-partite federation, guaranteed by the UN peacekeeping mission. As part of the package, the Sunni member of the federation would be guaranteed some portion of future oil revenues.
9. Propose the creation, under UN leadership, of a new international organization for combating terrorism using the most sophisticated weapons of intelligence, police work, and focused military action as indicated.
10. Arrange for the immediate shutdown of the US "Guantanamo Prison System" around the world with the transfer of all persons held to the justice systems of their home countries.
Perfect? No. Doable with the right US leadership (to be found among neither the Georgites nor the corporate-DLC)? Yes. Better than what exists now? Surely.