Thursday, May 20, 2004

When we invaded Iraq, John Stewart commented something to the effect: What the hell. Why not piss off the Arabs? They'll get over it. They don't hold a grudge for . . . more than . . . a thousand years.

Well, the Iraqis've got a gargantuan grudge going now, so we might as well get out. But how to let go of the tiger's tail?

Many pundits are now urging "internationalization", Molly Ivins among them:

The Center for American Progress has an exit strategy I think sounds useful. It is recommending President George W. Bush call an emergency international summit immediately, seek to have the United Nations fully oversee the transition, have the North Atlantic Treaty Organization take the security responsibility and set up an independent trust fund for reconstruction.

I checked their website; it isn't detailed, but it does offer this advice:

Real internationalisation of the political authorities and the security forces is desperately needed now. That means more than asking the United Nations and Nato to help. It means actually transferring real power and authority to a U.N.-authorised international mission and a NATO-led security force.

That sounds good. Let them grab the tiger's tail. But it doesn't necessarily mean we could let go. The Post-Dispatch noted that:

Most military experts think that more troops will be needed--at least 200,000 total--to stabilize the country for elections. It's unlikely that more than 50,000 troops would come from other countries.

So we'd be drafting Americans to go to a country where our legitimacy is completely shot. I can't see us being instrumental in bringing peace there. We're just targets now. A hundred of us makes 100 targets; 100,000 of us makes 100,000 targets.

Paul Krugman briefly mentioned another possibility: "The best we can realistically hope for now is to turn power over to relatively moderate Iraqis with a real base of popular support. Yes, that mainly means Islamic clerics." It's also likely to "mainly mean" civil war--unless there are tens of thousands of troops there--whose?--to keep the peace.

I would like to take a hard hearted stand: millions of us told Bush not to go there, told him that civil war would ultimately result. And now that civil war looks more imminent, I don't want more American lives wasted. Our soldiers have already been treated, as Vonnegut pointed out, "like toys a rich kid got for Christmas." Enough. Let the Iraqis fight it out.

But who knows which of Iraq's neighbors or how many will get drawn into the fray? Will it become a permanent terrorist breeding ground?

It's enough to make my head spin. I say bring the troops home--I think. Anybody else got a better idea?

And keep in mind that nothing beyond window dressing will happen while Bush still reigns anyway.

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